Thursday, 29 August 2013

Busy times...

Hi everyone!

Sorry but I won't have much time for blogging until Monday.

I am busy planning and organising Daisy's birthday celebrations.

I will do a post on a thrifty birthday party next week.

I have a lot of baking to do!

Thank you for the lovely comments on my last post.

Back soon xxx

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The Cotswolds and Adam's Farm...

Hi everyone!

I hope you've had a great bank holiday!

On Sunday we took Daisy here

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you'll know about Daisy's love of farm animals, particularly ducks and chickens.

We took a drive to Banbury and then into the Cotswolds. It is so beautiful there, we've been to many different parts before, but never to Adam's Farm. Daisy's favourite part was walking around the rare breeds bit outside. This was a special pre-birthday treat for Daisy and Grampy who both celebrate birthdays in September.

We made our trip as thrifty as we could...

Admission was £17 for the two of us and Daisy was free.
We bought two bags of feed for £1.20.
We took a picnic which we ate in the car because it was raining lightly.
We were tempted, but didn't buy ice-creams.
We were entertained for several hours.

The admission fee was reasonable and we didn't have to pay for Daisy. The animal feed was excellent entertainment because Daisy loved watching Grampy feed the goats and pigs. Daisy had an adventure just eating her lunch in the car, she was grown up sat next to Grandma in the back with her food on her lap, not in the highchair! Ice-cream wouldn't have been fair because Daisy is lactose intolerant and Grandma didn't want to attract wasps!!! We had a fun day out which we rarely do now.

Before we left we had to walk through the gift shop to exit...

Daisy got a few more birthday presents and then we spotted a cuddly chicken... it wasn't cheap! Grampy treated her...not so thrifty.

Daisy is a very special little girl...originally we hoped she would continue to grow from the 20 week scan to get to 23 weeks when she could survive outside the womb. We had the worry of a very premature baby, spending months in the neo-natal unit, facing all the problems that premature babies do for most of the pregnancy. It would be many months later when we got the news from a growth scan that she was a sufficient weight and gestation to stand a better chance and not need too much special care. The blood flow through the cord wasn't always good and she could be an emergency case at any point...it was very stressful. There was an awful lot of monitoring and appointments and overnight stays in maternity, but she fought on and was only a month early weighing 6lb. Hospital staff said she was the smallest baby they'd had on the postnatal ward in a long time. She was lucky, she was fine without an incubator.

All children are special, but Daisy has struggled since weighing only 10oz at 20 weeks. She overcame that and thankfully doesn't understand her living situation now. She doesn't have a daddy and rarely sees her mummy...but she has us and we are doing our best. Grampy works extremely hard and decided to spoil her. I know that I don't need to justify how we spend money, but I do write a thrifty blog and others probably wouldn't see the need to spend so much for Daisy's presents (she already has birthday presents we bought before). Her toys normally come from car boot sales and I will wash them and make them look like new. Grampy may treat her when we do our food shopping to books, but she's not spoilt. For her birthday we are spoiling her...she has cards, presents, decorations, a small party with our little family and a lot of attention and love.

It will be her 1st birthday on Sunday and she has done so well to get there. She is a lovely little girl who brings so much joy to our troubled lives. We are planning a short break in Yorkshire to take her on her first holiday. Again, not absolutely necessary, but we are creating memories for her childhood (like we did for our own children) and the scrapbook will continue...

I will need to be as thrifty as possible in the meantime!

Thanks for reading,

Mandy xxx 

Friday, 23 August 2013

The garden is producing...

Hi everyone!

Our garden is producing very tasty runner beans that are not stringy!

We have loads of tomatoes waiting to ripen and delicious courgettes.

The chickens are laying eggs, a good source of protein for little Daisy-May, whose looking forward to her first ever dippy egg for breakfast on her first birthday.

There is an abundance of parsley (my favourite herb) and the carrots are nearly ready.

We didn't plant a huge amount this year, but we are getting meals out of it and that's a cheaper way to eat!

Thank you for my lovely comments yesterday

Mandy xxx

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

When things don't go according to plan...

Hi everyone!

Well things have definitely not gone to plan...

We had trouble over the weekend and this meant that I was stressed and pre-occupied, so I didn't meal plan for our fortnightly shop :-(

There was no list :-(

I had to think hard and remember what I had in the cupboards, fridge and freezer...

I didn't forget anything important but we spent more than we wanted to.

On the plus side... we are lucky...

my husband is self-employed and has work and is well enough to work
we have enough money to spend on groceries
we have food in the cupboards, fridge and freezer
we have afforded to buy Daisy-May some lovely presents, cards and wrapping paper for her 1st birthday

NO MORE NEGATIVE THOUGHTS...

WE MOVE ON AND TRY TO DO BETTER NEXT TIME

Daisy is lactose intolerant and her food is more expensive. We buy lactofree soft cheese which is £1.74 a pack and alpro yoghurts which are £1.50 for four. I have bought other dairy free products in the past but they are slowly disappearing off the shelves. I have to really think about what she eats so I am quite good at remembering her shopping list.


Blogger is now allowing me to reply to comments in the comments section! So from now on, if you leave me a comment, I will reply there rather than posting my replies within a blog post.


More positive news - I have changed Daisy's room around and got rid of the bed in there. She has room for her cot (but not yet because she is too restless in the night and we want her settled first before this big change) and I made her a lovely book corner with mats, blankets, cushions, teddies and her book basket. She loves it because she is able to select books and enjoy them independently. She can crawl around safely too. I just have one area to sort out for the loft.

I have started to sort out my utility room and have lots of papers to get through (a chore that I do a bit each day). I completely cleared my ironing, although I have a small pile now because obviously I have done more washing since.

The living room has been decluttered so that some of Daisy's things are in her room now and she can access her toy boxes independently and safely now too.

The carboot pile is growing! Everything there has been labelled and boxed ready to go when we decide to do one. As I tidy each room, I seriously consider whether I need things or not and the house is beginning to look better for it.



I have several scrapbooks, where I stick in cuttings of craft projects or ideas that I would like to recreate. I had a flick through yesterday and found loads of things that I am capable of making and have the right materials for. This is my motivation to get sorted so I can have my sewing room/spare bedroom. I have loads of ideas to make it pretty and would love to have my jobs done in the morning so Daisy and I can have free time in the afternoons to have fun! That's my aim!!! This also means less time spent on the computer, so I will need to be more organised in preparing blog posts that are useful. I want to share what I do to be thrifty and also my homemade achievements. For me, it is mainly new recipes that I have developed to be cheap, quick to prepare and easy. In time, hopefully I will have some sewing to share with you too!

I won't put too much pressure on myself though because like my title says, sometimes 'things don't go according to plan' and my priority will always be Daisy-May.

I will post up our weekly menus from next week (what we've eaten this week) and eventually get around to my menu planning post. I want to write it properly, instead of rambling on. I have found these posts so useful so would love to pass on how I save money now. Please feel free to share what helps you save money as we go. I would love to hear from you!

I'm off now but all being well, I will be back soon...

Mandy x

Friday, 16 August 2013

Changing the way I food shop...

Hi everyone!

On Sunday we will head off to the supermarket to do a fortnightly shop. We haven't been for a month because of lovely hubby's back and had the last shop delivered. My last shop was considerably cheaper because I worked to a list (and yes, a cream cake treat was on there!) On Sunday I will take a proper list, not just the reminders that I normally take and stick to it.

I will need to get nappies and baby stuff for Daisy and her birthday card etc because our next shop falls on her actual birthday. We will do online that week for a different day. The 1st September will be all about our precious little grandaughter.

Tomorrow I will sit down and meal plan for the next two weeks, taking into account what I already have in the house. With all the braising steak left in the freezer, beef casserole and dumplings will definitely be on there. The slowcooker will be out again! It's raining here today and making me think ahead to the Autumn months and what needs to be done in preparation. More lists ahead!

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Sylvia - nice to hear from you!

Lean thinker - great to have you back! I have made a bbq sauce and poured it over the belly pork slices before going in the oven. You need to line the roasting tin with greaseproof first, or deal with a sticky mess to clean off. We had it with veggie rissotto...really yummy!

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Have a great weekend,

Mandy x

Monday, 12 August 2013

Changing the way we eat...baking day and feeding the ducks!

Hi everyone!

It's been a busy weekend...

On Saturday, grampy took Daisy for a long walk to see the farm animals (she slept most of the way) while I had the chance to do some baking. I've got quite a few packet cake mixes that need using up, but they require an electric whisk and Daisy is petrified of our mixer. This was my opportunity to make a couple of madeira cakes. Two packets filled two large sandwich tins and a small one. The larger cakes were sandwiched together with value strawberry jam and dusted with icing sugar. Lovely hubby will take this to work in his packed lunch. I have frozen the smaller cake. I also made three apple cakes (leave me a comment if you would like the recipe) for hubby. It wouldn't be his first choice of cake (he loves victoria sandwich), but I had some eating apples that were past their best. I do give our chickens fruit and veg that is past it's best, but these were perfect to use to fill the cake tin. Our chickens would actually prefer to eat those apples as apple cake! One cake is in the tin and the others have been frozen. I am gradually ploughing my way through my approved food stocks.

Yesterday, we went out in the afternoon after clearing away the Sunday lunch things. As you know, Daisy is obsessed with farm animals (particularly chickens), so we took her to feed the ducks at the Fawsley Estate (Northamptonshire). We definitely got more than we bargained for... as I threw some bread and corn, along came lots of ducks and ducklings, several sheep and the swans heard about it too! Thankfully the geese stayed away (I'm not keen) and so did the swans, but the sheep and ducks were loving their treat. I took some lovely photos, but sadly I don't know how to get them on here now from my camera, I used to be able to upload them :-(

When we first got there, Daisy was asleep, so we stayed in the truck while hubby walked the dogs around the huge pond. We had a great time and all it cost was a handful of poultry corn feed, a couple of slices of bread and a small amount of fuel to get there. Daisy's reaction to the white Aylesbury duck was lovely...just like Jemima Puddleduck! We are also heavily into Peter rabbit at the moment, since I discovered it on the tele. Daisy has a cuddly Jemima which we bought from the carboot sale for 10 or 20p (I can't remember), and she washed up beautifully and Daisy loves her.

Changing the way we eat...

slowly, we have been making changes to our diet. We used to eat a lot of meat but now we don't! We can't afford to eat the same amount now. Sunday lunch has been a big change... we used to always have a joint or a chicken. Last week we had roast beef for the first time in ages (it was lurking at the bottom of the freezer) and this fed us several meals. Yesterday I made a roast out of of belly pork slices. The fat goes crispy and produces lovely dripping for the roasties. We had it with cheesy courgettes (from the garden), stuffing, yorkshire pudding (AF mix wasn't that nice), spring greens, carrots, broccoli and gravy. As far as we were concerned, it was our Sunday roast! I will also do this with pork chops, chicken portions, thighs, drumsticks, even chicken breasts too. 

When we do have meat, we have a lot less than we used to, especially when making mince or braising steak meals. I will stretch the meat with vegetables which is easily done when making a stew or casserole. We are now using what the garden is giving us... the courgettes are growing well and the tomatoes are small but growing. The strawberries have finished now, but the runner beans have started to appear. We are not experienced gardeners or vegetable growers, but we are getting our garden to produce food that tastes so much nicer than shop bought and the seeds cost a fraction of what buying veg and salad each week does. We failed on the cucumbers, which is a shame because we get through those and have to buy them. Charlotte takes a salad to work everyday (not this week, she's on her holidays), so the living lettuce that I planted has come in handy...thanks for the idea Sue  http://www.ournewlifeinthecountry.blogspot.co.uk

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Shirley - hi and welcome to my blog, I'm glad you're enjoying it. Thank you for your lovely comment, Frugal Queen has given me lots of new readers, so thanks for stopping by! I had a great weekend, thanks x

Sylvia (markdebby) - Thanks for your comment, quiet days don't happen here with an 11 month old baby and two dogs in the house!

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Hope you had a great weekend too and thanks for reading,

Mandy x

Friday, 9 August 2013

Making money from clutter...

Hi everyone!

Well yesterday didn't quite going according to plan because Daisy wasn't sleeping very much. She had two twenty minute naps which didn't leave me much time to get on with her room. I sit her on the floor while I'm pottering, but now she can crawl, she turfs out everything! All her neatly stacked blankets and clothes on the changing table shelves, nappies out of their stacker and clothes out of the box I have just sorted! She's having a great time while I follow her around picking things up. What I did manage to do, was to sort some more of her little baby clothes. I organised the vests and babygros by age and made carboot sale signs for them. Today I will put her outfits onto spare hangers and price those up too. That way, I will be ready in September to do a carboot sale without any other preparation - organisation is the key to making as much money I can for our home improvements. I know we won't make a huge amount of money, but I have to try as every penny does count when you're saving up for things. We really want to move, but the house isn't ready and it isn't just a case of painting. We need to save up for a new boiler before it gets too cold because we don't have much life left in the old one. If it was just us, we would go without, which we have done in previous houses, but I have Daisy to think about so the heating will be on low.

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Jane - Hi, nice to hear from you. Decluttering is a slow process as I have years of collecting stuff to sort out and old habits to break.
Any home improvements cause disruption to the daily running of a home, but bathrooms and kitchens are the worst. My OH is a builder, so I have lived in many a building site in the past! He put an extension on our current house, but then we ran out of funds and so the rest of the house has been neglected. Your bathroom will be worth the wait in the end!
I have had my own home since I was 18 and my first washing machine was a second hand twin tub and a little spin dryer that moved around the kitchen floor! When my first baby, Ashley was born, I bought my first proper washing machine and that lasted me ten years. Since then (he's 23 now) I have got through a few until we went a bit dearer and bought our current Zanussi one. This is on at least once a day, so it has to be good!
I haven't looked at AF in a while because I have been doing Frugal Queen's challenge to use up what we have. The chicken marinades sound like good value, it's nice to have something different for a change.
Daisy is getting faster at crawling every day and is into everything!

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Sara - Hi, lovely to hear from you too! We bought a travel cot/playpen a while back and we keep it in the living room. Daisy will sit in there and play for about twenty minutes. Now she wants to get down and crawl everywhere and explore! She also has a walker, but that's not safe when I'm ironing or when the oven is on. I have to iron when she's asleep now.
Hubby has been back at work a week now and getting much better, thanks. His medication is making him feel sick all the time and made his mouth really sore, so he's trying to reduce them as of today.
We bought all Daisy's clothes for a 6lb early/tiny baby before she was born because she didn't grow properly in the womb. At her 20 week scan, they said hopefuly she could make it to 23 weeks and still be growing, if not she would be born and stand a better chance in special care. Every week after that was a bonus because the detailed growth scans were showing that she was still slowly growing. The hospital took over her care from the GP and midwife and she was well monitored. They initially predicted that we would be lucky to get a 3lb birthweight, which ended up as 5lb in the later stages of pregnancy. She was exactly 6lb in the end and just escaped special care. The staff said she was the smallest baby they had on the ward for a long time. All of the 6lb clothing was way too big when she was born though. I bought handmade premature cardies off ebay which actually fit her. She was very small. She continues to grow slowly on the 2nd centile, weighing 17lb a few weeks ago, but it's fine because she is growing at a steady rate for her.
I am keeping all of her first premature size clothes to show her just how small she was. Apart from a few special things, the rest is going...we need to think of the future now.
I tried so hard to sort out her nursery yesterday, but as I've already said, it's a slow process.

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markdebby - Hi and welcome to my blog! I hope you had a nice day with your grandson.

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Thanks for reading and commenting,

Mandy x

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Dealing with someone else's clutter!

Hi everyone!

That someone else in the title is my youngest daughter. She hasn't lived with us since Christmas but the house and loft are full of her stuff. She stays with friends and calls herself 'homeless' even though we have a spare bedroom here and her bed! The fact is that she doesn't like living with us (even though her beautiful baby is here) and really doesn't get on with her sister now. She can't afford a flat (done that before and failed) because she is totally greedy with money and just spends it as she gets it. I musn't grumble, as she came to visit for the afternoon this week and bought Daisy a bottle of baby juice and some snacks that are too old for her (in the cupboard for when she's bigger now). Last time she came she bought her some bedtime nappies. We have simply asked for her to start paying back what she owes for Daisy's shopping, little by little. We both know that we will never see a penny from her, sad and very selfish.

On a happier note, Daisy is crawling!!! Exciting, but hard work because she is into everything... now the house needs sorting fast!

So far...
 I have sorted a kitchen drawer that contains my linens and Daisy's bibs, muslins, face cloths and cling film etc. It's much easier to find things in there now and I have kept it tidy.

I have emptied, scrubbed and decluttered my fridge, grouping items logically so I don't have to search.

I have tackled my huge pile of ironing and done about a third of it while Daisy was sleeping yesterday.

I have started on Daisy's room - it normally looks beautiful, but I have stored most of her mummy's things in there because she told me she was going to collect them the next evening. She never came and there is no new house, so the stuff is still waiting for removal. She has no space where she is staying, so we are stuck with it. I am hoping that my OH will put it in the loft where the rest of her c*ap is, so Daisy can have her room back and we can finally move her cot in there and make her nursery beautiful once more. Yesterday I looked at Daisy's old clothes and sorted two boxes to be sold. I battled with my hoarder instincts because every item reminded me of her and what she was like back then. I coped... I have photographs of her wearing these beautiful clothes and my other children don't want me to save them for when they have children, so they are going to the carboot sale in September. I have still kept quite a lot... all of her premature/tiny/early baby clothes to show her just how small she was. We bought everything for Daisy's arrival, so we can sell it. Any cash raised from this will go towards our home improvements. We want to live in a calmer environment, surrounded by nature and wildlife and our our animals. We want Daisy to be able to enjoy this lifestyle too. Hopefully when we move, she will come with us and her mummy to start fresh and build a better life and a better future. So, I will keep some memories for Daisy, just not everything! We are keeping the moses basket, bedding, bath and stand etc for any future grandchildren we may have, but not the clothes now. It's a start...

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Taaleedee - Thanks for your advice, I will look into it again. The doctor didn't sign him off work anyway and he's getting better, thanks.

Alex - It was actually a pack of 4 eclairs! I only ate one though. I agree with you about budgeting being like dieting. Don't worry about rambling, I love reading the comments, although I don't get many now, just like before the lovely Frugal Queen linked my blog. I do have more page views than before, so people are still reading!

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My shopping arrived on Tuesday evening and a pot of single cream was split. It was refunded and I kept the cream. The driver actually refunded both pots, so the other was free! The shopping this fortnight cost a lot less than normal but I would still rather shop instore to pick my own fruit, veg and salad stuff.

Today we (Daisy and I) are off to continue sorting her room. She loves sitting on her blanket and playing with her toys, having the freedom to crawl and explore. My lovely hubby took the bed apart and moved it into the spare room last night, so we have space to move things around now. All the movement in there had disturbed a huge spider which had probably been hiding in the mountain of bags, and it appeared while I was in the shower (my daughter warned me before I left the bathroom). My lovely hubby hero removed it! I am scared of spiders and wasps...this time of year is an ordeal for me. Spiders like dark places to hide...another reason to declutter and tidy up!

Thanks for reading,

Mandy x

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Planning ahead and making changes...

Hi everyone!

Sorry I've been away from blogging for a few days, but it's been pretty hectic here! My lovely husband has been suffering with his back (he had bruised the facet joints by lifting and twisting) and was having very painful muscle spasms that left him bedridden. My OH is and always has been a grafter, he hates sitting still and works very hard to provide for us, but his job is manual and his body isn't happy about it at the moment! He went back to work yesterday (against my judgement) because he already took a week off with no pay because he's self-employed.

This situation has got me thinking...

we seriously need to plan ahead for this happening again in the future. We have enough money because we are sensible, so we can afford for some time off, but a back-up plan would be more sensible...

He is thinking of a career change - looking into evening classes to train in something else. Our ultimate goal is to own a smallholding up north (hopefully in Yorkshire), but we need an income, even though somewhat smaller than what we are used to now. We want to live a very simple life, becoming more and more self-sufficient - we have already started this by growing loads of veg in the garden and keeping chickens. We have harvested strawberries and courgettes so far and they are lovely, full of flavour.

There is still a long way to go though...

yesterday I did an online shop that is coming this evening. I confess that I bought things that we don't need, they are things that we want. Today I feel ashamed because I don't need a chocolate eclair, but the last few days we have eaten boring food because everything has been used up in my challenge and I fancied a treat. I used a list, but still got tempted - this has to stop!

We are not in debt (apart from paying a mortgage on our house) to anyone and we are able to pay our bills on time. Food shouldn't be viewed as a luxury, but it is the only bill that we can reduce. I did meal plan, it's all the little extras that I can make myself but don't find the time to which have pushed the price of our shopping up.

I will change this now!!!

From now on...

 I will meal plan and write a shopping list and stick to it.
I will make the shopping I get stretch as far as possible and last longer.
I will continue to experiment, making up my own recipes to keep us interested in cheaper meals and not buy goodies.
I will make time to bake for the cake tin and use my approved food bap mix for lunches.
I will continue to use up leftovers and not waste a thing.
I will save money!


I need to go now and make more plans and write lists. I will be back with my progress and a mini challenge... I want to join in with austerity August and spend as little as possible...

I want to declutter, tidy, clean, sell things, make money for our home improvements to get on the market to sell, rearrange my house to be more logical with a home for everything and be more organised.

Our new life won't happen without hard work and effort, but we can do it and we will. Let the challenge begin...

Thanks for reading,

Mandy x