Monday, 23 December 2013

Merry Christmas!

Hi everyone,


2013 has been pretty awful for us from the start (YKW). Even this weekend was bad, as both my lovely Son and Husband have been to A&E. My Son had major lung surgery twice (both lungs but in different operations) in 2010, when he suffered a spontaneous pneumothorax. He hasn't felt well for a while and worried that there was another problem. After tests, they decided that he's fine, just odd feelings that will happen because of what his lungs have suffered. Then yesterday morning my lovely husband went in with chest pains (he's only 38), but after tests they decided that it was muscular and although he's in a lot of pain and discomfort, it's pulled muscles not his heart...thank God!

2014 needs to be full of thriftiness, frugal changes, happiness and positive thinking. I will try hard...

I'm not looking forward to Christmas, but we will do our best as usual and create some lovely memories for Daisy. She's 15 months old so won't remember when she's older, but as you know she will have her scrapbooks which are documenting her life through photos and little snippets that I write.

Hopefully all will go well...

Sometimes I think we need to think of others and realise that for some people, Christmas is a sad and lonely time. We see Christmas on television with all the adverts as a wonderful happy time spent with the family and with plenty of everything. In reality, some people don't have a happy family or don't have enough, but they will cope and will get through it because they have no choice...

I have more than enough...I have plenty.

I hope our food will take us well into January.

My family situation isn't good, but I am lucky because I have some loving family members who love and care a lot about me...I am grateful for my family and feel fortunate.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and 2014 is kind to you.

I probably won't be back until January to wish you a Happy New Year and tell you about my plans for my blog. I'm looking forward to making changes in my daily life and can't wait to tell you about them.

Thank you for reading, thank you to Frugal Queen for sending readers my way, thank you for your kindness and comments and thank you for following me on my journey. It will continue in 2014...

Lots of love,

Mandy xxx

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Tinned potatoes

Hi everyone,

Yesterday I needed to use up some bacon that was open. I fried it while poaching eggs and warming beans in the microwave. I was going to cook hash browns to go with it, but that meant putting the oven on just for them (not economical for our electric bill), so I opened a tin of potatoes, sliced them and fried them in fat I had saved from cooking sausages another day.

You're probably what! That's not very interesting...but...we actually don't like tinned potatoes! I bought them back in the summer, thinking I would try them in a potato salad, but never did! I think the flavour from the sausage fat helped, but they were actually quite nice.

The point of this blog post...I bought something but it had been sat in the cupboard for months uneaten.

...I used it up!

...I saved on my electric bill.

...we had potatoes to go with our sort of fry-up

...I know now not to waste my money on things we probably won't eat just because they're cheap.

Potatoes are quite expensive, but I will stick to what I know works for us (or we go without).

Have you ever bought something just because it was cheap???

Thanks for reading,

Mandy xxx

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Making the most of the food we have...

Hi everyone!

A quick post to let you know that I have started to look at what I have in my cupboards and use it up before it is too far out of date.

I had some pastry in the fridge that needed using up before it past it's use by date, so I made a treacle tart. I used porridge oats that have just gone out of date and golden syrup that has been open for a while. I rolled out the pastry and baked it for 10 mins. I added the oats and syrup and baked it. A simple pudding that used up bits and bobs that needed using. A few years ago I would have thrown all of those ingredients away because of the dates.

Yesterday we had roast chicken, roast potatoes, stuffing, roast parsnips, cheesy leeks, sprouts, carrots, broccoli and gravy. I made my easy chocolate mousse because we had a guest for tea, Auntie Harriet. My son, Ashley works until midnight so she spends her evenings alone. It's something we should do more often, especially when we have a casserole which can easily be stretched to feed another.

Tonight I shall be using up the bacon I have opened, so I will be looking through my thrifty recipes later. My meals will be planned around what needs using up. I really cannot afford to be throwing anything away now. There is still some treacle tart and chocolate mousse to finish off for pudding.

My Christmas food shop will be complete by this evening (MY OH is going straight from work). The list is short, but the queues will be long!

I've done some wrapping, using paper left over from last year. I've only bought one roll of pooh bear paper for Daisy's main present etc. I recycle cards by making them into tags, so don't buy these either. More wrapping will be done later and cards written.

I'm getting there!

Thanks for reading and thank you for the comments left on my last post,

Mandy xxx

Monday, 16 December 2013

My weekend...

Hi everyone,

I thought I'd tell you about my weekend... it has gone so quickly and not that much achieved! I always have a plan in my head of what I want to get done each day, but normally only achieve half.

On Saturday we went to Toys 'r' Us and Mothercare in Northampton. What an eye-opener! I cannot believe the amount of money being spent at these retail parks, yes it's Christmas,and some people will have saved up for this time of year, but I saw people just pick up toys and throw them into their trolley without even really looking at them. There were loads of families getting cross with their children because they wanted to pick up toys and look at them. It's a shame that the children had to go too. They were bored and started to mess about! There's enough stress at Christmas without creating more for yourself. Shopping online would have been a better idea???

Why do so many people feel the need to be glued to their phones while shopping???
They could be looking at a shopping list, or calculating how much they have spent, or comparing prices with another shop, but I suspect they were on social media. I saw lots of men (mostly older than me) playing on their phones. They didn't appear to be actively shopping (no trolley or goods), just busy not looking where they were going! I wonder how much time each day is spent on a phone? I use mine to phone people, text and for the calculator. I don't have a smartphone. I am a blogger, I write a blog and I read blogs. Sometimes it's for entertainment purposes, but mostly to learn new things, but I don't sit on facebook all day. I tend to watch videos on youtube rather than watch the tele, but it is while doing something else like my ironing. I would love a smartphone to nosey around on instagram for ideas and interest, but I cope fine without. 

We purchased what we needed for Daisy, having written a list and thought about each gift and how much fun and enjoyment she would get from them (as well as their educational value). We couldn't get everything we wanted in there, there was a load of rubbish looking toys for older children, but thankfully the pre-school section is good, so we headed over to Mothercare...

They has 20% of all toys!!!

Daisy loved the freedom of being able to walk around with Grampy safely while Grandma shopped. She did choose herself a rather large pair of Spiderman boots though! The 20% savings really did make a difference and we travelled home again.

The day was finished off with my favourite tele programme...Strictly Come Dancing! I love it and have my two favourites...Susanna and Sophie. I have been voting for Susanna and Kevin for the past two weeks (I only vote near the end) and was convinced they would go. I was planning to switch to Sophie if they did.

Yesterday we did our usual fortnightly shop, only getting the turkey towards my Christmas stash. What a nightmare! I hate shopping when it's busy so we go early, but everyone else now has the same idea. It amazes me how rude and ignorant some people can be! I waited for some to pass without so much as a smile in return, I even had a staff member give me a cross face when she was in my way. I stood back to let her pass with her trolley of rubbish and she didn't thank me and a smile was definitely not going to happen. MANNERS COST NOTHING!!!

Another moan... the prices are good in Asda compared to some other supermarkets, but some of Daisy's toiletries that we purchase every time have jumped up by 25p!!! They were not previously rolled back or part of any offer, they have just gone up. Her skin is sensitive, so I won't switch brands, but I am annoyed. Our shopping bill is creeping up every time we shop. Things will be changing in January for us and I will be blogging about this after Christmas.

We got our turkey, a small one, because that's all we need. It isn't actually that small and it cost £12. I wanted a crown, but they were £16, so we went for the whole turkey and I will use the darker meat for different meals...any ideas??? I only like the breast meat and actually prefer to eat it cold. 

The remaining Christmas shopping will be done this week by my OH (armed with a list of course) and we won't be going over the top! Our next planned shop falls between Christmas and New Year, but we will only top-up locally with a couple of fresh things and not do a massive shop. I have a huge store at the moment (although I am working through the freezer at the moment) and this will see us into January. We always crave 'gravy dinners' after Christmas, casseroles etc.

Would you like me to post my menus as I work through my stores, saving money on the food shop throughout January? 

Back to my shopping experience...

The till ladies in Asda are always lovely. Daisy has her own fan club! The lady who served us yesterday said that she thought it was quiet in there and next weekend would be horrendous. She said that people seem to be getting a few things in their weekly shop towards Christmas this year and the remainder will do a huge shop at the weekend as they normally would for Christmas. We are doing a separate Christmas shop, but we will be using our savings tin which we have been adding to throughout the year.  So maybe shopping habits are changing to spread the cost, but there is so much choice and Christmas convenience out there to tempt people into spending too much.

As I was leaving the store with my heavy trolley, I was faced with very rude people who barged past me and I was struggling to control my trolley in the wind and sloping path. They could have let me pass as I had the full trolley, but no, they barged past, eager to shop. Not one person let me through! It was my right to walk on that path as much as there's, it's just that I have good manners and they don't. I suspect that all they could think about was getting out of the wind and getting on with their shopping. We get up early on a Sunday to travel to Asda to get on with our shopping. Incidentally, not one person said thank you for me waiting! I accidentally knocked a lady as she barged past me (well I suppose she knocked into me as I was stationary) and I said sorry...she ignored me, didn't even look at me.


After putting the shopping away and a spot of lunch, we took Daisy and the dogs for a walk. Daisy loves it in her back carrier, all wrapped up snuggly in her snowsuit, watching from up high. It was raining and really windy, but she was happy and dry. I'll share some photos soon (I haven't loaded them onto my laptop yet).   

The evening was Strictly again!

I was so pleased to see both Susanna and Sophie through and look forward to the final next weekend. Does anyone else enjoy strictly?

Thanks for reading, I would love to hear from you.

Mandy x

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

I've had my hair cut!

Hi everyone!

Well the title isn't very exciting, but for me it is...

This was my first haircut in 20 months...that's almost two years!!!

I used to have my hair cut every 6-8 weeks and have it coloured by a mobile hairdresser. I stopped using her because she was continually cutting it shorter than I requested. Then we got a new hairdresser who cut our hair as a favour (a friend of my son) and we paid a very small amount for it.

Circumstances have meant that we haven't been able to have her cut our hair for a while and I actually cut my own hair! Not something I would do again though. My daughter visited her salon, but I just left mine to grow. I ended up looking like a scarecrow and asked to have a much needed restyle.

Yesterday I had very long hair cut off to shoulder length and although I don't like my hair being this short, it was badly needed. It will grow again and hopefully I will look after it better now with regular trims.

I colour my own hair and buy the dye when it's on offer. A job I hate doing, but I'm not ready to be grey yet!

I have 'let myself go' in many ways over the past couple of years and didn't seem to care. This is due to living with stress and the constant feeling of 'what's the point?' I expect bad things to always happen because they usually do!

A new year approaching makes me think about what the future holds for us and I really want to think more positively about things then.

I will start to compile a list of small goals that I want to achieve - I think it helps me to have something to work to. This could be as simple as making time for myself to paint my nails. I used to do this all the time and now I don't bother, even though I know it makes me happy. Perhaps I need to put down my thoughts on paper and then I can free-up some space in my mind for more important things. Then coping with the big stuff when it is thrown at us should be easier???

I am hoping to get going with my Christmas plans now...

Back soon,

Mandy x