Five Frugal Achievements this week 3/8/18

August already! And is still gorgeous weather. I’ve not been out and about much so I’ve no great bargains to tell you about. I’m still off sick but I’m still getting paid, and I know how lucky I am to have a job that has sick pay. There’s obviously not going to be any overtime pay, so I do need to be extra careful.

I’ve been doing little things indoors to stretch the pennies.

  • We’ve been eating a lot of meals with eggs, we had an egg curry one night which I finished for lunch another day. Last night we had heuvos rancheros, another favourite. There’s been egg sandwiches and eggs on toast. We’ve still got loads of eggs left, the hens are laying really well at the moment. Tuesday I got six eggs, from five chickens!?!
Oooh eggs…
  • With the heat all I really fancy eating is ice-cream. We’ve just finished a tub of coffee ice-cream with chocolate chunks that I made. I’ve just put another batch in the freezer, this week’s flavour is blackberry, made with the berries I’ve picked in the garden.
Blackberry ice-cream, worth it just for that colour!
  • My friend with the allotment gave me a massive bag of green beans. We’ve mainly been eating salads so I wasn’t going to use them in time. I topped and tailed all the beans (including six runner beans I grew myself!) and I’ve frozen them. I didn’t even waste the bits I cut off. I microwaved them to soften them up and gave them to the hens who won’t eat raw beans but love, love, love them cooked!
The girls have a rest in the sun!
  • We had water get into the wall behind our shower. The grout was cracked and the tiles were coming loose. Himself rose to the challenge and has retiled and grouted and I’m so proud of him! Amazing how much you can learn about grout from You-Tube!
  • I can’t think of a fifth frugal thing! Being ill has stopped me doing much of anything, but at least it’s kept me away from the shops!

I’ll be linking up with Cass, Emma and Becky once again. Hope you’re all enjoying the sunshine.

Five Frugal Achievements this week 27/7/18

So, welcome back! I’m sorry to tell you that depression has hit me hard. Today is the first day where I’ve felt anything approaching “normal” so since it’s Frugal Friday I thought I’d have a little step back into blogging about life within these four walls. I’m sorry there’s been no posts for a couple of weeks and to be honest I’m not sure when I’ll get back to blogging properly.

On top of that the hens have had another visit from the dreaded red mite, which has been nowhere near as bad as last year but has still taken a week and a deep clean of the coop to (hopefully) get rid of the vicious little vampires.

I’ve been at home here in the crazy house for a couple of weeks. I’ve only left really to visit the doctor, I’ve let pretty much everything go, housework, shopping, cooking, socialising, work and the budgeting. Luckily the dogs and cats have been too hot to be particularly demanding they’re just melted into furry puddles around the house! Except when Custard or Sophie steal my garden chair!

“We’ll just stand up while you make yourself comfy Custard.”

Since I’ve not been out I’d expect it to be a cheap week but it’s amazing how much I can spend without even getting out of bed thanks to the wonders of internet shopping!

  • I’ve been doing a lot of cross stitch to keep myself occupied and I’ve finally finished a project I started and abandoned a couple of years ago. I found a few possibilities for my next project on Etsy and added them to my favourites. One shop gave me a 10% off voucher which, since the pattern was a digital download, resulted in a mahoosive saving of 24p! I made a much bigger saving by being able to use up some embroidery threads I already had that were “close enough” to the colours in the pattern. This is only ok because it’s a cartoon style piece, of hens – obviously!
  • It’s been a super cheap couple of food weeks, its far too hot for cooking, or eating a big dinner. We’ve eaten a lot of salads. I’ve grown some of it in my garden! My friend gave me tomato plants that produce really tasty “yellow pear” tomatoes and although the hens ate all my green lettuce leaves the red and brown ones are doing really well. The same awesome friend has also given me a big bag of green beans, more tomatoes and cucumbers from her garden and allotment. Oh, and some really lovely chillies. Puddings have been fruit and ice-cream including loads of fresh blackberries from our garden. Or we’ve had ice-lollies from Aldi. Keeping the food this simple has saved a lot of money.
Tomatoes ripening”on the vine”and the lettuce that the hens didn’t want to eat!
  • I signed up for Amazon Prime around a month ago. I didn’t plan it but it coincided with Prime day. I saved a shed-load of cash by finding absolutely nothing in the Prime sale that I wanted to buy! I have been using the video app though. I’ve had to be quite careful with what I watch at the moment. I watched the Wallace and Gromet film “A Matter of Loaf and Death” on BBC i-player and got seriously upset at the treatment of the little poodle. It’s far too dark a film for a depressed person! Most of my own DVDs are pretty dark too. Prime has let me watch a lot of light hearted stuff for free. Himself and I have also saved a fair bit on delivery (mainly for red mite treatment). So I’m going to keep subscribing at least for now.
  • I’m making a loaf of bread today, which I’ve done a bit more often lately. Not just so I can avoid the shops (ok, mainly so I can avoid the shops) but it tastes better and is cheaper than most sliced bread too. It rises really quickly in this heat so it’s quick and easy to make!
  • I’ve picked a few more cheerful books to read for 99p on the Kindle app. I’ve gone for some autobiographies by comedians and some “chick lit” instead of my usual whodunnits. Since Himself and I are now an Amazon household we can share each others digital media. He now has access to my 500+ e-books, and I have access to his one (wooo, worth it!) I shall have to find out what it is, because he didn’t even know!

I hope this post isn’t too miserable and rambling, I’m feeling quite good today, and even at my worst I know the depression won’t last forever! I did want to be honest about the lack of movement here on my blog though and I can’t do that without the D word!

On a lighter note I’ll be linking up with Cass, Emma and Becky. Who are always cheerful and full of good ideas!

My life needs a reboot!

It’s probably no secret, at least to a lucky (?) few, that my depression has been running riot! I’ve taken a couple of nights off work. I feel like I’m coming out the other end of it now. But I’m left with the aftermath where everything is wrong. I know that I need to fix things in order to get back to “normal”. I’m a perfectionist and control freak so everything needs to be “just so” for me to feel right.

My house is actually tidier than it has been thanks to Himself finishing his car project and moving most of his stuff out of the dining room / front room / entrance room. The problem is that I’ve not been able to clean in there for so long that the dust and yuck factor is overwhelming. I was so looking forward to all the stuff moving out so I could do a proper clean and now I’ve not done anything. The back room floor has been left for so long that we’ve got a new carpet. Of pet hair. The kitchen floor has a new marble pattern of manky footprints. There’s junk without a home everywhere.

When it comes to me, I’m not so great either. I’ve been keeping up with showering, things haven’t been that bad. But my hair could do with a wash so I don’t have to scrape it all back and hide it. My nails despite the growing out gel polish have chipped and broken and I’m not wearing any makeup. I’m still wearing rings that are losing their silver colour. Messy.

Most importantly for the purposes of this blog my finances feel like a mess. I’ve definitely been cheering myself up with buying things. I’ve not gone mad (financially anyway) most stuff I’ve bought has been things I’ve wanted or needed for a while. Other stuff has been from “last minute auction” where I spent pennies on rings from China or doodads for my hair. Its more a feeling of things being out of control, of not knowing where I am.

I’m disorganised, last week’s menu is still up. I had to check my own blog to find out what we were having for dinner on Monday. The only reason there was any chicken in the gumbo was because I’d bought extra last week and shoved it in the freezer. My head has been a mess, and now I’m feeling a bit clearer my head is full of things that I need to do.

I’m going to start with a list.

This is only part of the list, I have to scroll!!!

Yikes! Now I’m completely overwhelmed!!! I started last night with trying to organise my blog photos into folders. I’ve lost a few so some posts have missing or new pictures, I’ll have to finish that later. Organising my main email account, the one on my pc, went better. Months of spam, utility bills and internet shopping mails were put in the right places and I even managed to unsubscribe from a few things.

Today I’m starting the cleaning. I’m extremely unmotivated, I plan to adopt a technique from Unfuck Your Habitat (‘scuse language but it is the most brilliant site for motivation). I’ll clean for just thirty minutes and rest for ten. Then rinse and repeat! I’ll see how I get on, as soon as I’m dressed…

After the first half an hour I’m already feeling more positive. I’ve cleaned out the big cupboard (Himself fixed a leak in the shower yesterday that was causing damp). Found two boxes for the charity shop, half a bag of rubbish and started getting rid of green stuff and limescale from the shower door seals.

Look at me the glamorous lifestyle blogger!!!!

I’ve been reading…

One of my resolutions this year was to read more. Not blog articles, not Buzzfeed’s 1001 things to buy on Amazon, not one-line mottos on Pinterest but, you know, actual books!

I’ve not bought any physical books because I’m all about decluttering these days but I’m reading loads of e-books which have been either free or up to £1.99.

Here are a few of my favourites from the last couple of months. I’m sorry to say they all seem to be whodunits which is definitely my favourite type of story but I promise it’s not the only kind of book I read!

The Plea by Steve Cavanagh

I love me a courtroom drama! This is slightly different, our lawyer and hero used to be a con man so his approach is unorthodox. He’s ordered by a mysterious government agent to poach a client, who is accused of murder, from another lawyer and get him to plead guilty. Our hero’s estranged, but still much loved, wife is in danger of being arrested and convicted for a crime she unwittingly committed if he fails.

I got hooked in the first few pages, Cavanagh managed to make his hero come alive off the page really quickly, I liked him and was rooting for him from the time he starts climbing the stairs into his office at the start.

This is the second in a series of books, but read just fine as a stand alone novel. We find out a couple of things that happened in the first book but not too much. I will definitely read the first one if I spot it on sale!

Bone Box by Faye Kellerman

This is the 24th in a long running series of books about an orthodox Jewish police detective, Peter Decker. Now he’s getting on a bit he’s moved away from the crime hotspot of Los Angeles to a quiet college town in search of a quieter professional life. Of course it wouldn’t be much of a book if he got his way and spent his time arresting drunken frat boys and investigating stolen laptops. So it’s not long before his wife, who is involved in all his cases whilst managing to be a domestic goddess, finds a body in the woods.

Kellerman manages to move the series to a new location but finds reasons to bring in much loved characters from Decker’s previous life for guest appearances! If you like a good detective book and you’ve not read this series you’re missing out but these are definitely best read from the first book.

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

If you’ve not heard of this, where have you been? I’ve wanted to read this since I first heard about it. I didn’t buy it because I’d over a hundred unread books on my tablet, but when it was on sale I couldn’t resist! The alcoholic narrator travels to London by train every day and sees a couple in the garden of one of the houses where her train always waits at a signal. Over time she becomes obsessed with this perfect couple so when something bad happens she involves herself in the investigation. I’ve travelled from suburbia to London many times and looked into gardens and houses from the train, so the story was really vivid as I read this. This is one book that really could be read in one sitting if you have the time!

I watched the film directly after reading the book. Although they moved it to America for some reason it’s still a decent film. It has the bonus of Phoebe from Friends in it but its yet another case of “the book was better than the film!”

The Prime Suspect Cases by Lynda LaPlante

I love Jane Tennison, she’s tough and clever and cool and awesome and somehow very human too. I’ve not long read the prequel, Tennison: Prime Suspect 1973, so I wanted to read these three stories. It was spoilt a bit because as I read I could remember bits from the TV adaptations and knew whodunit! Still a thoroughly enjoyable easy read though. And if you like a good murder and haven’t seen the show or read the books you should definitely give them a try.

These La Plant books aren’t cheap at the moment but lots of Kindle books go down in price for a limited time, so keep your eyes open.

I’m currently reading a book called MAD Librarian: You Gotta Fight for Your Right to Library! by Michael Guillebeau. Which is funny and as daft as the title makes it sound but I’m enjoying it. It’s not a murder mystery (nobody died yet anyway) which makes a refreshing change! Luckily it’s too hot to do much so I’m going to go and find a shady spot in the garden to read some more and try and stop the hens eating my tomato plants.

FYI
there are affiliate links in this post… thought you ought to know!

Meal plan for next week… Starting 9th July

Hello, welcome back to my meal planning page on my blog. I think we actually managed to stick to last week’s meal plan! It does make life easier and stops us wasting food. Here is next week’s plan, let’s see how well we do this time!

Monday

Gumbo style chicken. Another Good Food recipe which we’ve had plenty of times. It’s a really tasty one pot meal which I’ll either serve with nice bread or rice. It’s made with chicken thighs which keeps the cost lower and has Polish sausages which are handily available at Aldi!

These sausages.

Tuesday

Gumbo style chicken. Same again, I’m working nights Monday and Tuesday so an easy dinner is ready and waiting.

Wednesday

Egg curry. I used to think this was weird but its actually gorgeous. And obviously with the hens laying as well as they are it’s a good way to use up eggs and a really cheap dinner. We’ll be having rice with this.

Thursday

Trout and salad. I like to buy frozen salmon to keep in the freezer, it’s cheap, almost as good as fresh and really versatile. But it’s not always available in Aldi and they had none the last time I went. While I was searching I saw the frozen trout fillets so I thought we’d give them a try.

Friday

Chorizo potatoes. This is similar to a corned beef hash with fried potatoes and onions. It’s got chorizo slices and chillies instead of corned beef. Obviously we’ll have a fried egg on top!

Saturday

Gammon and chips. Himself is cooking, because I’m working this weekend. We usually have a chip dinner at least once if I’m working a weekend. It’s quick, easy, cheer-you-up food. We might have another fried egg. Woo!

Sunday

Spaghetti Bolognese. The sauce is in the freezer at the moment, it’s left over from when I last made lasagne. As long as we remember to take it out to defrost this will be a nice quick dinner after a day at work.

I’ve made rhubarb crumble ice-cream for puddings this week. I’m hoping that’ll be nice! There are cones in the freezer too. I need to make a cake for work lunches to have after our sandwiches. Lunches at home will be leftovers, frozen pizza, toast or more sandwiches.

I will be joining in with the linky from The Organised Life Project and Katykicker and stealing their dinner ideas for next month’s menus!