Sunday, 19 November 2017

Evenings Out for Free


With next years penny pinching, frugal minded, cost cutting living in mind I recently re-read this book.  In it Kath lives for a year on just one pound a day ... as the title suggests ... she does it to save for a wedding present for her brother, we however, are cutting costs back to the bone to try and pay off our small mortgage taken out after paying off our main mortgage and still secured on this house.

One of the things she does ... apart from yellow stickered shopping and gathering in freebies ... is to look for events offering an evening or day out, where drinks or free food are available and a fun time can be had for absolutely nothing.


So when this invite popped into my emails instead of doing what I would normally do and simply deleting it, because we won't be ordering any Christmas food from Bodnant I made a note of the date and we went.

We really did get a warm welcome, the fizz was delicious and the mince pies equally so.  We had a pleasant mooch about the shop sipping on our fizz, oohhd and ahhd over delicious gift ideas, picked up the offered food order form and left feeling very festive.


Also on the email was this offer for the next evening. 

So we paid our donation to a very deserving charity and had another pleasant evening, this time sampling wines and ports.  I think we more than got our moneys worth and learnt a little bit more about some of our favourite wines in the process.  


During the day we had also called back up to Bodnant to try and have a word with the technical Aga people about something Alan wanted to check out to do with the power of the Aga and our solar energy system. 

There were even freebies on offer here ... I was offered a slice of ginger cake but on enquiring it had butter and eggs in it, so I said thank you but no thanks as I'm a vegan,  'ooh said the lady would you like some chips instead then .... they are really tasty they're cooked in goose fat' 

Haha, she saw the funny side almost as soon as the words had left her lips.


Our next 'evening out' is to the showrooms of the people who supplied the windows for the workshop.  We don't need any windows at the moment .... but Mulled Wine, a mince pie and some Christmas carols will go down very nicely thank you  :-)

We're treating it all as good practice for next year,  if celebrities can turn up to the  'opening of an envelope' to get their faces in the magazines we can turn up for free drinks and food and an interesting couple of hours out.

Have you ever done something similar?

Sue xx


Friday, 17 November 2017

A Meatier Than Usual Post


This week for the first time ever I ordered from Musclefood.  My son has used them a couple of times but I had always resisted temptation.  But now with not a lot of meat left in the freezer for my lovely hubby I decided to stock up in time for Christmas with the idea that this would form the major part of his Christmas dinner and keep him well supplied into the New Year.


I chose an offer that I picked up off a Facebook frugal foods page, which gave me 2.5kg of chicken breasts, with a 'hamper' of various mixed meats that were worth £19.55 but which were the 'free' offer, and then another 2.5 kg of chicken for £12.


It was delivered on time by courier in a chilled box yesterday and after it spent a night in the workshop, which is as cold as a fridge overnight, we set to this morning to get it all ready for the freezer.

I was surprised at the size of the chicken breasts, so I got out the scales and weighed them.  Not bad at all, they were well over 200g each.  Which means that following NHS guidelines there is more than enough in each one for two adults to have as part of a meal.


With Alan doing all the meat handling and me doing the wrapping it was all portioned out and ready for the freezer in no time.  The chicken breasts were wrapped individually and then put into boxes to avoid freezer burn, the sausages were snipped apart and wrapped with a layer of EasyLeave between but everything else was just checked for a level of separation and then popped into the freezer as  they were.


I was wondering how to work out the costings for each item at first, then Alan suggested to simply count the portions we would use for a meal.

So we counted :

24 chicken breasts x one meal each
1 x mince meal
2 x meatball meals
2 x steak burger meals
1 x sweet chilli chicken meal (these seem quite small)
2 x sausage meals
2 x chicken breast meals

So a grand total of 34 meals, which if I divide that by the total amount the order cost me to have sent (including delivery), would make the meat part of each meal £1.08. 

But after seeing the size of the breasts we now think that most of them will be used for two meals if it's something like curry, casserole, stew etc.  If they are to be the 'star' of the show, sliced meat for sandwiches, a large roast dinner etc, then they might be used for just one meal.  So counting three quarters of them as two meals, and using the mince for two instead of our original thought of one meal (it's very tightly packed, not loose like you get from a supermarket or the butcher, so seemed small, but after checking the weight it does weigh in at over 200g), we now have a working total of 55 meals.

Yes that's fifty five meals!!

Which brings our cost for the meat part of any meal down to 67p.

Bargain.

I know it's not very often that you get a 'meaty post' from me, but living with a meat eater is my life and something I can't change, so it means that we just make the best of things, and one of the things I am good at is saving money with food .... but I am glad I had Alan to help with the handling of all this well packed meat, otherwise I think a thick pair of rubber gloves would have been called into play   :-)

If you would like to have a look at the Musclefood site for yourself and see all the bargains there you can use this link to get you there:   MUSCLEFOOD

If you do decide to buy anything while you're there use my referral code ... which is SH731226 ... and you will get an extra freebie that can be chosen from one of four items ... and being totally honest I will get a 500 point referral fee.  I have also added a link to the sidebar for while so you don't have to keep coming back and finding this post.  Just click on that and you will have access to the site and my code.

Have you used this site before, what did you think of it?

  We were very pleasantly surprised and wondered why we hadn't taken the plunge before.  One thing for sure is that we will be ordering again in a few months when the 55 meals have been eaten and there is some more space in the freezer.

Sue xx

Thursday, 16 November 2017

More Books ... and No Excuses


I just couldn't resist  :-)

I only called into Asda for some bread and milk, and somehow found myself in the book aisle. 

They were soooooo cheap, and it is nearly Christmas, and I don't want any presents this year, and I could go on and on and give you a myriad of excuses and reasons, but there are none needed, I wanted these books and I bought them. 

Good reading for the Winters nights ahead.  


I'll add them to the new books I bought the other week and the copy of the first 'Eat Well for Less' book that Alan bought me when he bought himself two woodworking books last weekend ... which means our new book total for the house is -

578

My name is Sue I am a bookaholic .... and so is Alan  ;-)

Sue xx

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

So ... What DID I Buy with my Vouchers


After the last post I thought it only fair that I came back on and tell you what I did actually decide to buy with my Tesco and M&S vouchers.  I had no fixed idea of what I intended to get until I got to Tesco and then I thought what would give be the absolute best value for my vouchers in terms of food shopping that would be useful for next year when we have decided to scrimp and save on the housekeeping to help us save to pay off the mortgage.

Dried goods it had to be then.  

The Basmati rice was £5.70 for 4kg, the Red Lentils £1.80, the Pearl Barley and the Yellow Split Peas came in at 55p each .... just 10p over my £8.50 worth of vouchers.


I could have gotten more rice for my money if I had gone for the Everyday Value long grain rice ... a whopping 12kgs in fact ... and we might be eating that by the end of year, but how much better to start the year with a decent supply of our favourite rice.


Today I nipped into Marks and Spencer while I was in Llandudno and decided on the spur of the moment to get treats with the £6 I had in vouchers from there.  So mince pies for Christmas for Alan and some sweets for the cinema for me.


My trip to Tesco also threw up some yellow stickered bargains.

A selection of meats for the freezer ...


... a tray of Mediterranean vegetables, that worked out cheaper than buying a couple of courgettes to go with veggies I already had at home.


And a bag of nice baking potatoes ....


... that will be in use as soon as we have finished the last of our homegrown ones.

Not a bad little shopping spree :-)

Sue xx



Sunday, 12 November 2017

Coupons and Vouchers


It's the time of the year that the quarterly coupons and vouchers pop through our letterbox ... along with the charity begging letters containing 'complementary' Christmas cards, raffle tickets to sell and free pens, none of which even get properly looked at.  I choose who gets my charitable donations, and any organisation wasting that much money on postings are not included.

 Anyway in years gone by when we've been using our M&S and Tesco credit cards to pay for building supplies and larger items (always paid off in full at the end of the month of course from the money we had saved to make the purchases) the amount of coupons we received were brilliant and helped out during many a blog money saving Challenge.  Now with everything necessary purchased and our spending cut right back,  tbe coupons are much lower in value ... but still worth having in my opinion.

As you can see we have got £8.50 in Tesco Clubcard vouchers ...


...and our M&S card has given us a total of £6 in vouchers. 

We no longer have a Tesco credit card and just use a Clubcard to pick up points, most of which we accrue for fuel for the vehicles.  Although with Alan now predominantly working from home even our fuel bill has plummeted , thank goodness.

So my question to you ... what would you do with a grand total of £8.50 to spend in Tesco and £6 to spend in M&S?

Sue xx


Thursday, 9 November 2017

Suky in a Hat


Mum bought Suky a couple of hats from a charity shop a few weeks ago.

  She likes seeing Suky in hats.  But it's a real challenge to get her to wear them for modelling purposes so the other day when she was cosy in her bed, all alone with Mavis upstairs with Alan in the office, I snuck up and put the first one on.

She hummphed ... but was resigned to being photographed ...


... so I got the other one.

She just looks resigned doesn't she  :-)


So I put the first one back on and got another shot.

Sue xx


Tuesday, 7 November 2017

A Neat Cook ... and Bashed Biscuits


I've turned into a neat cook.  

I like to measure out all the ingredients and have them ready to throw into the pan as and when I need them, this saves so much time spinning around in the kitchen making myself dizzy while I rummage through cupboards for ingredients while my onions burn or my garlic singes.  It also means that I have time to put on my thinking cap and work out what I can use in place of any ingredients that I might not have.


This time I was following this recipe as I wanted to use up our last homegrown cauliflower.  It was absolutely delicious and these amounts gave us a large portion each for one night served with rice, a smaller portion for the next night again with rice for me, and with rice and a pork chop for Alan, and one also a small tub full for the freezer which will make either a lunch for one or an addition to a Buddha bowl for both of us.


Delicious ... I added peas to ours because I didn't have any fresh coriander to add that very necessary splash of green.   :-)


Pudding was a simple favourite of ours, a layer of fruit in a glass, a layer of chilled Oatly custard and then a packet each of crushed Biscoff biscuits for a crunchy topping.  We ate them before I took a photo, but this is how it all started off.

Sue xx 

Sunday, 5 November 2017

The View From the Loo


I'm going to miss this ... 'the view from the loo'.

Using the toilet and having a bath in the bathroom over the last couple of weeks has been nice with some of our books to look at on the shelves, but now in the living room the carpet is laid and over the weekend it's been nice to get the room looking a lot more normal, if slightly fresher and with that 'new carpet smell'.

This morning it was time to empty these shelves and lose the 'view from the loo'.


The books once laid out on the floor in the same order they were to go back looked a lot more than they had on the shelves ...


... and the magazines stacked on the chair in the bathroom just didn't look like they fitted easily into the cupboard under the shelves.


But it all fitted back together nicely after the shelves were slid the five foot to the right from the bathroom to the living room.

It's nice getting things back where they belong.


Oh, and I might have bought two more books to add to my collection  ;-)


Sue xx

Friday, 3 November 2017

Farm Gate Sales


Yay ... we're in business :-)

We have sold eggs since we first got chickens and continued selling then when we moved here over four years ago, but we have always been a bit haphazard with the 'farm gate sales'.  A box would be put out in fair weather, mostly in Summer when the eggs are plentiful, vanishing with rain or wind (before the wind made it vanish) and selling regularly in bulk to our lovely neighbour who runs a B&B.  But now we are in the farm gate sales business properly with this lovely smart box set against our wall and with the contents well protected from the elements.


It was designed by me and then hand made and painted with numerous coats of our favourite colour by Alan in his workshop, and then it spent a day or so drying out on the Aga.


It should last us a while, especially now it's got it's also got corrugated top on to protect it in even the worst of the weather.


There's lots of room inside for eggs, and anything else that we decide to sell in the Summer months.   I decided to decorate the back with some photos of the ladies that supply the eggs for a bit of added  interest.  We also have a couple of new larger signs for the wall and the fence on the opposite side of  the drive advertising that we sell eggs, which will go up when Alan has the time to mount them on wood, a new supply of green egg boxes that will tie in with the sales box and brand new labels with all of our details on them, but we are just running down supplies of the ones we already had first.


And as you can see although it's resting on the wall it is firmly anchored to the ground at the back.

Sales are already going really well, with people stopping on their way to and from work to pick up a box or two of eggs ... thank goodness we have the 'Welsh girls' who really are good layers all year round and should keep us in business though the Winter months. 

The money raised by the sale of the eggs goes straight back to the chickens to pay for their feed, bedding, more egg boxes etc and any other things they may need, but of course we also get eggs for our own use.  Any that are weak shelled, very small or very big stay in the kitchen for Alan's breakfast or to pop into quiches and cakes when I'm baking, and visiting family never go home empty handed if they like eggs.


Open for business.

Sue xx

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

What We Are Doing With Our Car Boot Earnings This Year.


At first we couldn't make up our minds what to do with our earnings from this years car boot sales,  what to do with over £700 requires careful consideration, then over a coffee and a slice of cake we hit on the perfect thing.  Two Winters ago we had a lot of water ingress into the house, last year it was sorted out and the exterior painted and we've been waiting ever since for things to dry out so we could sort out the internal damage

All above this window was originally a sodden mess, now at last it is dry, so Alan's first job was to patch things up, then we carried on and redecorated the whole room, which is pretty easy to do when your colour scheme is white ceilings, white walls and white woodwork.


Of course we needed a flash of colour on the chimney breast to keep things cheerful and that's where our two rolls of bargain wallpaper came in.  We thought a brick effect would look good and as we are going for a slightly 'older' look for the room it fitted in nicely.

Tomorrow a carpet will be fitted, we have had enough of the laminate flooring that was here when we bought the house.  The dogs are skidding round the living room for the last time today and hopefully by tomorrow we will have a cosy warm carpeted floor with no need for rugs that slide around to try and keep things warm underfoot.

And then next week the final piece of our living room makeover will be delivered, a brand new sofa and chair to add a real flash of colour to the room ..... and no it's NOT green  ;-)

The good thing is we have lots of the paint left over to redecorate our bedroom which is directly above the living room and suffered even worse damage above the window.  But that can wait a little while.

Our car boot sale money has done us very well ... paints, wallpaper, curtains, a new lightshade and almost all the cost of the carpet, the sofa is our Christmas present to each other.


While I was busy cleaning the floor ready for the carpet fitting, I spied our regular little peeping chicken at the door ....  


... Suky spotted her too and went over for a closer look  :-)

Sue xx

Monday, 30 October 2017

Mondays Fridge Soup


At the end of last week we had to call to Tesco late in the evening and for once we were lucky enough to grab a few bargains, it's pretty rare these days that we are there when the yellow stickers are out in force ... well to be honest we've just not been shopping that much recently, only going to the shops for absolute necessities. 

Anyway this morning I set about using the veggies up, they had survived the weekend very well in the drawer of the fridge, but I wanted to use them up before they got any unhappier!!


I emptied out the rest of the fridge drawer too ... 


... put back the few things that were in really good condition.


Then I got out the 'bits and bobs' bag from the freezer, I save all trimmings and stalks from the cauliflowers and broccoli for just such occasions.


Then it was time to fish out the 'flavour enhancers', some Approved Foods bouillon powder ...


... and one or two other additions.

I always find the more variety of flavours you put in the richer and deeper the taste of the finished product, and anyway I like to play.  So I chopped and diced and got everything simmering away nicely for a while and then decided it looked a bit wishy washy ...


... so I added a good squirt of tomato puree and a couple of teaspoon of Turmeric.


It looked much better !!


After a couple of hours in the bottom oven of the Aga I whizzed it up with my stick blender and had a good bowl full for my lunch ... for tasting purposes of course.


And then the rest was cooled ready to go into the freezer, with one small bowl put into the fridge for tomorrows lunch.


I had already dealt with the bargain pack of ham as soon as we got home, you don't leave meat lying around for too long.  First it was dried off slightly on kitchen paper ...


... then split into four usable portions.


Before being placed in a zip lock bag and popped into the freezer.

As you can see I am still determined to make full use of everything we buy or grow and watch our pennies and I'm gearing up for next year ... when the purse strings will once again be pulled in very tightly.

Sue xx