Friday, 22 September 2017

Frugal Friday

A quiet frugal week before it starts to get busy next week when both my courses go back full time ! This week I did manage to feel a book on Amazon and used the proceeds to buy one I need for the course so that was a frugal win !

We have both been very busy in the garden with courgettes and raspberries still to pick, so some for eating and some for freezing ! We also started to pick the last of the apple trees and that has meant cooking down some apple every day and putting it in the freezer for later.

We also planted some more lettuce seeds and some flower seeds for the Spring. We got the compost for the pots on special offer as it was 50 litres for £4.99 and 3 bags for £12, making that £4 a bag but we also had a £3 off voucher so that brought it down to £3 a bag  ! This was a saving of close to 40% on the original price so I'm glad we got 3 bags !

We have been eating well with all those eggs for breakfast and making tortillas, bread, brownies, lemon drizzle cake, felafel, pita bread and soup from scratch ! It was also nice to have a couple of treats, a trip to the cinema for free and an ebook about thrifty living for free. The book was a real bargain !

The final bargain of the week was a sack of potatoes from the local farmer costing £7 for 56 lbs. This gave a cost of 12.5p a pound or 27.5p a kilogram which is a lot cheaper than the cheapest I could find in the shops. The cheapest in the shops were over 50p a kilo at Asda and the potatoes are quite dry and mud-free so I didn't pay for lots of soil which would just be washed away. I foresee lots of baked potatoes in our future !

I hope that you had a great week too !

Thursday, 21 September 2017

The Temporary Tightwad

I am just in the middle of reading this inspiring book from the USA. Carrie has a website where she talks about a lot of different things, whereas this book just concentrates on her fight to save hard and get out of debt on three major occasions.

I love real-life stories and this one tells exactly what she did each time and then goes into details about how you can save big and small.

Our extra income is starting to look a little less secure, so this is a good reminder of all the hardcore ways to save I might need in the next few months.

The book is only available over here as a Kindle download but it is under £5 and I used a gift card from Swagbucks so it is free inspiration, the best sort !

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

A Tasty Breakfast

Buying all those yellow-stickered eggs last week means that we have been able to branch out a bit with breakfasts. I have a great recipe for vegan waffles but using eggs adds a whole new richness.

250g self-raising flour
2 tbsps sugar
450ml milk
2 eggs
2tbsps oil

Mix altogether and leave to stand for a few minutes to let bubbles develop. Then pour mixture into ready heated, ready greased waffle iron and cook until done.

This recipe freezes too so you can always make a batch earlier and then just reheat at breakfast time !

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Calculating Gas and Electricity Costs

I have been doing this type of calculation today as the meter readings for our new supplier were due and I wanted to check that we are not using too much ! MissShoestring is at home and we have had the central heating and hot water on already, which is a bit earlier than usual but MissShoestring does like a night time shower or two and by then the solar hot water is all used up !

My calculations had to include the standing charge, which is different for the gas and electric and convert the meter reading for the gas from cubic metres to kilowatt hours. This is quite complex but fortunately there are online websites where you can  just plug the numbers in and out pops the result.

I was pleased to find that over the past 76 days we have spent just over £1 a day on electricity and quite a bit less than that on gas. This means that we are still in credit with the supply company but I'm going to continue to be judicious with switching on the gas as I would like to build up a bit larger credit as we move into the winter months. One of the drawbacks of mainly working from home is that you do need to heat some space in the house and that cost is born by you, not an employer ! Fingers crossed for a nice, mild winter apart from a sprinkling of snow at the end of December to help things feel seasonal !

Monday, 18 September 2017

Update on September Resolutions 2

This is the third week in September and I continue to make progress on the September resolutions I posted at the start of the month.

1. I will menu plan for the cheapest meals possible. This is still going really well with over £80 left in the budget from an overall start of £170. I will have to top up the lunch account today, but that should last all week. MissShoestring had some leftovers from when we were away that she has gifted us, including couple of salmon steaks, so that was very nice of her.

2. I will use up the produce in the garden. The pumpkins have been put away and we have harvested the last few courgettes I think. There are still some leeks and one or two more cucumbers and marrows to come. The raspberries keep on coming and I froze 5 pounds of blackberries last week. We have been picking up windfall apples after those storms last week and still have one more tree of russets to deal with.

3. I will use up the craft stash for Christmas gifts. Still no progress on this one, whenever I have the urge to continue to work on the hat I started something else came up, so maybe this week !

4. I will plan ahead to give gifts early to save on Christmas postage costs. Same with this one, no progress, but I did use free stamps for a birthday present !

5. I will take my own food and drink to college. So busy at college this week that I got knocked over in the foyer. I was very glad that the lunch was protected in a rigid plastic box and a stainless steel, unbreakable flask. If it had been the usual glass-lined ones, it would definitely have broken.

6. I will top up MasterShoestring's lunch account before he runs out of money! Yes, I have remembered to do this, so he gets a discount in the cafeteria.

7. I will sell some of our surplus garage stuff. I did not end up selling all the surplus stuff but gave it away to a younger girl we know and the charity shops. It is nice to think of the next generation of children having outdoor fun on roller blades and a unicycle. I still have a boy's bike to get rid of, so that might go on Gumtree.

8. I will sell some more surplus books. I sold one book for a good price and was able to use the money to buy a book for my course.

9. I will find the best home for our savings. Still working on this as it looks like a bit of work that MrShoestring has been doing might come to an end and then we might need to have access to the savings, so will wait and see what is best to do.

10. I will find a cheap way to add to garden fertility for next year . Looked at buying cover crops and manure and decided that we might be best to put in some more seeds that we still have and cover them with a plastic cover to provide some more vegetables over the winter. We had success with lettuce in the past, so might start with that.

How are you doing this month?

Sunday, 17 September 2017

A treat or not ?

We had film vouchers for Cineworld from all the shopping scanning I have been doing for Nielsen. They needed using up before the end of the month and since we are busy the next two weekends we went to see 'Dunkirk' yesterday after I had finished work.

I was really looking forward to it, especially as the film had great reviews and we have been wanting to go all Summer. MasterShoestring was spending the day with a friend, so now was our chance.

The first hurdle was getting the vouchers accepted. We both forgot to bring our reading glasses and so could not read the tiny codes printed on the vouchers to use the automatic ticket machines. We ended up asking for help from the ticket checking girl and she directed us to the popcorn concession, who were able to purchase a couple of tickets for us !

Then into the tiny cinema and trying to find our seats in the dark. Fortunately, I had been able to see the plan outside the room, so had a rough idea where to head ! Then we had to survive the very noisy adverts !

But the worst thing was the very noisy, relentlessly war focussed film ! The only women in it are seen in brief scenes manning teapots and boats, no speaking. Mind you there is almost no speaking from anyone, just lots of bombing and machine gun fire. The sound track was so loud that I had to go for a walk in the woods when we got home.

Lots of people have told me how good this film is and usually I like Christopher Nolan's work but this one was too much for me. I guess my introverted nature suffered from the relentless two and a half hour assault on the senses which made me feel that I had been in the war. 

The cinematography is wonderful, you feel like you are flying with the planes, the actors really give the impression that they have been torpedoed and left on beaches for 4 days. However, my imagination is quite vivid enough to imagine all that, without needing to see and hear it. Watching the film made me wonder if I am just unusually sensitive or whether other people really enjoy this kind of thing. I remember being 11 at grammar school and being taken out of the school Christmas movie which was being shown as a treat because I found it too upsetting. Also when I was 5 and watching my first film, 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' again I had to leave because it was too scary. So it probably is that I'm a bit over-sensitive !

However, MrShoestring did not enjoy it either and we have resolved that anymore cinema outings will be very carefully researched. The blessing in this case was that the tickets were free instead of £10.20 each !

Saturday, 16 September 2017

A Trip Out

A work appointment this morning at St Albans, so I'm hoping to combine it with a nice little trip out. First stop - the Cathedral.

Followed by a trip round the town, there's a great market !

Then off to admire a few more historic buildings.

A walk around the beautiful park and a picnic for lunch if the weather co-operates !

Then on to admire the Roman remains. 

I hope you have a great weekend planned too !