Wednesday, 23 January 2013

A snowy birthday!

It's my birthday today!

I'm trying to remember if it's ever snowed on my birthday before??? It has been snowing here today, so now it has!

No cooking today because my lovely husband is treating me to a day off - with an Indian takeaway.

Mandy x

Monday, 21 January 2013

Approved Food order and ebay sales

I placed an order with approved food a week ago and it finally arrived today. No photo of my goodies, but i did find some bargains.

  • 35 pencils (3p each) for my husband (he's a builder and gets through a lot of them)
  • stardrops x4 (99p each) this is 1.99 in my local supermarket and never on offer, so I stocked up.
  • onion bhaji mix x4 (25p each) for my husband. We love an Indian takeaway, but they're expensive. I can make a curry, but don't know where to start with an onion bhaji!
  • knorr stock pots (12.5p per pot) I've just started using these because oxo cubes are becoming more expensive. I normally buy these are 25p per pot on offer, so this is a real bargain that I will make good use of.
  • Porridge sachets (15p each) that's 15p for my breakfast (not bad eh?) I bought the cheapest porridge oats in the supermarket yesterday and they were 85p. I can remember when they were 35p.
  • Dried mixed herb sachets (9p each) I use these a lot in my cooking and can't grumble at that price.
  • navy blue shoe polish (29p) I've been looking for this for ages and can only find black or brown. I've got a pair of navy kicker boots that I've had for years and love. They've lasted because I look after them, but they are a little scuffed on the toe so I need the polish - now I've found it for 29p!
  • Cadbury's instant hot chocolate (12p a cup) We love a hot chocolate this time of year, but really don't like the cheap stuff. I wait for it to be on offer, but this is rare. I bought the stuff in cups because it's cadbury's and it's cheap!
These were my best bargains, although I did buy some other stuff too (using my ebay sales funds). My order came to £34 with a saving of £36, so it would have been £70! I haven't wasted any money and this is a way for us to have a few guilt free treats.

Now on to my ebay sales - I've sold 2 books and they're all ready to be posted. I won't count them into my declutter record until they've actually gone to the post office.

Today's dinner was beef casserole in the slow cooker and the leftovers will be turned into a pie for tomorrow's dinner.

  • stewing beef browned with 2 chopped leeks
  • 5 button mushrooms
  • 10 baby potatoes
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1tsp mixed herbs
  • gravy made with cheap granules and an oxo cube
  • all thrown into the slow cooker for 8hrs
  • dumplings added towards the end
  • very warm and yummy!

Mandy x

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Food shopping and meal planning...

Today we braved the cold weather and did our fortnightly shop. Our main shop comes from the supermarket and I supplement it with purchases from approved food. We don't pop into our local mini-supermarket like a lot of people do daily, because you just end up buying things you don't need, there's too much temptation.

We have cut our grocery bill by quite a lot recently, but there's still loads of room for improvement! Meal planning is really important to save money and reduce waste, but I didn't have time :(  We have been looking after Daisy-May all weekend and she came with us, so I just tried to plan meals as I shopped - I wouldn't recommend it!!!

We bought:
 2 big packs of stewing steak which will go in the slow cooker with dumplings.
2 big packs of chicken drumsticks which will be roasted and eaten as bbq chicken with rice and probably cooked in the slow cooker as chicken casserole.
Sausages will be - bangers, mash, peas and onion gravy and sausage casserole.
Sausage meat that will be giant sausage rolls with beans.
Belly pork strips which I will turn into a mini-roast.
Bacon bits which I will use to make a quiche and other frugal bacon recipes (undecided yet).
A gammon joint which I will bake with mustard and honey.

I bought loads of veg etc, so I could make cauliflower cheese, vegetable lasagne etc. I can be quite flexible over the next 2 weeks because I already have a full freezer. The only thing we buy ready made is breaded pollock. This is handy when I need to do a quick tea. I am in the process of trying to fill the freezer with homemade ready meals when I batch cook, but my freezer is already full! I am making changes that I can stick to and sometimes it's a slow process. I'm learning which foods freeze well and still taste nice reheated. My family think that fruit cake freezes really well.

With all this cold weather, I think that stew and dumplings and treacle sponge with custard is necessary this week.

Sorry that my blog is lacking in photos, but I cannot upload from my laptop and I don't know what else to do.

Thanks for reading,

Mandy x

Thursday, 17 January 2013

I've been baking...

I've finally got round to my baking (been looking after my beautiful baby grandaughter Daisy-May a lot lately). I made 2 chocolate fudge cakes, a sultana cake and some shortbread. I've also made giant sausage rolls with red onion chutney for tea (I haven't cooked them yet, so photographed in their raw state!)


No more decluttering or sewing because I've been too busy. Hopefully tomorrow will be more productive.

Mandy x

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Keeping a record of my decluttering.

The decluttering continues...

I have decided that to keep me on track and enthusiastic about decluttering my home, I need to record my success. It's alright me saying that I sorted out 8 books that I never wish to read (I did that), but they haven't actually left the house yet. They are with the huge stash of things that I have decided to get rid of, but they are still causing unecessary clutter!

So, from now on, I will record here on my blog, what has actually left the house. I will number the items so I can try to achieve a goal. I am starting at 100 items by Easter. I think I can do this! This bit is going to be a bit boring, but I need to do it.

  1. book - charity collection
  2. book - charity collection
  3. book - charity collection
  4. book - charity collection
  5. book - charity collection
  6. book - charity collection
  7. book - charity collection
  8. book - charity collection
  9. book - charity collection
  10. book - charity collection
  11. book - charity collection
  12. book - charity collection
  13. book - charity collection
  14. book - charity collection
  15. book - charity collection
  16. book - charity collection
  17. exercise video - charity collection
  18. exercise video - charity collection
  19. fishing video - charity collection
  20. maths GCSE CD ROM - charity collection
  21. fish slice - charity collection
  22. egg cup and cosy - charity collection
  23. school rugby top - charity collection
  24. school rugby top - charity collection
  25. 20 newborn size nappies - charity collection
  26. cuddly monkey - charity collection
  27. cuddly monkey - given to the dog and now chewed up and in the bin!
  28. cuddly gorilla - given to the dog and now chewed up and in the bin!
  29. cuddly gorilla - charity collection
  30. cardy - charity collection
  31. baby cardy - charity collection
  32. biscuit tin - given to my son's girlfriend to store her baking in
  33. 'Style at Home' magazine'  - given to my son's girlfriend

Well that's 33 items, so I will probably reach my target before Easter!

I am also concentrating on recycling within the home and upcycling, making use of what we already have and not being so wasteful.

Our recent gas and electric bills were HUGE so that is one area needing instant attention.

I made a quick tea of corned beef hash yesterday:

  • peel and chop up some potatoes into cubes then parboil
  • finely slice an onion and fry
  • add sliced corned beef
  • add a tin of beans
  • drain the potatoes and add to the pan
  • keep an eye on it so it doesn't stick to the pan
  • you could add worcester sauce (I've run out!)
It doesn't look that nice, but it tastes lovely!

Mandy x

Thursday, 10 January 2013

A day of sewing and decluttering.

Today I've been busy...

I've made 2 dog beds with a spare cover for each. I actually used my new sewing machine too! I was going to show you photos, but I can't seem to upload them :(

I have also been decluttering, this is what I've sorted:

  • old duvet made into dog beds
  • old sheet made into dog beds
  • old blanket made into dog bed covers
  • old duvet cover made into dog bed cover
  • another old duvet made into dog bed cover
  • 16 books boxed up for the Air Ambulance charity bag (bag came through the door today and is collected on Tuesday)
  • 3 videos boxed up for the Air Ambulance charity
  • fish slice (charity) I have 3 already
  • maths GCSE CD ROM (charity) my children have left school!
  • blue egg cup and cosy (charity) my son is nearly 23 so has outgrown it
  • 2 x school rugby tops (charity) as above!
  • 4 cuddly toys (charity)
  • 2 x baby cardies (charity) unliked by my daughter
  • 20 newborn size huggies nappies (charity) as above
  • home magazine (given to my son's girlfriend)
  • biscuit tin from Christmas (given to my son's girlfriend to store baking)
I also sorted my small freezer. I have meals in there where I did batch cooking, but I haven't labelled them! Tea tomorrow is either pot luck, or sausage and bacon pasta. I want to use up all the odds and ends and discover what batch cooking is lurking in there. I freeze these and leftovers in marg tubs.

A very productive day!

Something I brought into the house was a jar of homemade piccalilli, which I love with cheese. This was passed on via my son's girlfriend. Her nan gave us some lovely pickles at Christmas too - red cabbage, onions and plum and ginger chutney. She has also knitted loads of cute little things for Daisy-May - a kind and thoughtful lady.

Tomorrow I plan to continue with the big declutter and do some baking.

Mandy x

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Clearing the clutter...

At long last, I have started the battle against my clutter!

My aim is to record what I have got rid of on my blog to keep me motivated to do more. My utility room is full of boxes and bags where I have sorted out all of my unwanted and not needed items. I have quite an issue with hoarding - I always think that things will come in handy one day! Sadly, it's just mess really.

For quite some time now, I have been collecting bits and bobs of ribbon, buttons, fabric etc, but haven't got round to using any of it. I never throw clothes or bedding away - the clothes get cut up into fabric pieces ( I want to start patchworking) and the buttons are removed and saved. The bedding has been saved because I want to teach myself how to quilt and these will come in handy (here I go again) for backing quilts.

I can easily convince myself that things are useful and therefore necessary clutter, so if I want to keep stuff, then I have to justify it. So, today I have started to make a dog bed. Both of the dogs in our house need new beds. Charlotte's dog Flo is very big now and it would cost her a fair bit to buy one. Jake's bed is old and tatty and he needs to be more comfortable in his old age. So far, I have made the inside of Jake's new bed. This afternoon, I will make the cover for it and Jake's will be finished. Hopefully I can start on Flo's bed tomorrow. A positive start to my declutter/use up what I have collected and stashed away. I will post photos when the beds are finished.

Before I start sewing again, I am going to list 10 books on ebay. Before Christmas, I sold quite a few bits on ebay, so now I need to really crack on with it to make space in my utility room. Eventually, I hope to use this room as my craft room too, but more space is needed. when I have more space, the house will be easier to clean and tidy.

Ebaying is also a big plan of mine because i want to build up my paypal account. Usually I use this to make ebay purchases for Daisy-May, but she now has far too many clothes and loads to grow in to. I can concentrate on other things, like stocking up the cupboards. Approved food accepts paypal, so I plan to sell my clutter to buy food!!! Food prices rising constantly is hard to bear, so my next challenge is to create a proper store (like I used have when I was working) of tins and packets. I won't just buy for the sake of it, but buy what I normally would (at a reduced price) when I see it available (and lots of it).

This year has not started well for us, but now's the time to get active and make things better.

Has anyone else started the big declutter???

Mandy x