Tuesday, 31 July 2012

It's Amazing What Can Be Picked Up For Free

I tend to walk eyes down, not a very confident pose I suppose. But, today at lunchtime it meant I saw a 2p coin.

I am really funny about small denomination coins I see, I always pick them up and stuff it it my bag. Who knows when the change could be useful? And, hell it is money after all.

When I went out again to take the post later, I saw another. As I did not have my bag with me I kept it in my hand.

It was not until I was back in the office I looked at it closer.

It is actually a 1955 Half Penny. It looks exactly the same as a 2p coin.

And minted 2 years after our Queen's coronation.

I have checked and unfortunately, it is not worth enough to pay off the mortgage or even buy a stamp. But, I was fascinated.

A 57 years old coin just lying there on the pavement!

What's the best thing you have found?

Who knows what I may find tomorrow.

Frugally yours

Monday, 30 July 2012

This Weekend

Cake ingredients cost me £21. So I will not be entering this show again demonstrating my culinary skills.

Disappointingly I was not placed in the show. But the comments from friends at work this morning more than made up for that as both cakes did a very convincing disappearing act at lunchtime.
Death By Chocolate Cake

Double orange cake

I am trying to comfort myself with the thought that it was full of industrious skilled professional bakers, but sadly I think we all know the truth!

Ah well back to sewing, more fulfilling!

Frugally yours

Friday, 27 July 2012

If You Are Interested...

I will be entering my competition at The Kings Bromley Village Show in Staffordshire..
If you want to attend and it is a good day out for all the family.
More information can be found here.
Frugally yours.

Food Waste Friday.


It is that time of the week again. Food Waste Friday. I link up with Frugal Girl in an effort to shame myself into better kitchen organisation.

Oh Dear not a good week at W Towers! 2 things to report.

First of all half a bag of green beans. The reality is, I love green beans so goodness knows how these developed a nasty of “stinkus veggus”. I swear they were fine earlier this week. If they were on Facebook, they would have changed their status from “fresh and delicious” to “liquid” within a space of 3 minutes. Ah well!

Secondly on Sunday, was searching the bowels of W Towers' kitchen I came across a rather nice tin of Venison Pate. It was obviously bought in better days involving afternoon tea and Cath Kidston aprons. It was delicious on hot toast for a snack. I then emptied the tin into some opaque Tupperware where it sat forgotten, until a root around found it yesterday evening. Shucks! I seem to recall it was about £3 for a small tin and I am upset it got wasted.

On a happier note the instant mash I made on Wednesday has been stretched to another 2 meals.

I added a tin of Tesco value tuna (54p) to the cold mash yesterday evening and formed it into fish cakes. I then fried them in a little sunflower oil and had 2 for my tea. Another 2 tonight with some frozen vegetables and £1’s worth of instant mash and tuna I think has done pretty well.

I forgot to take a pic I am afraid.

Olympics start tonight in case you have had you head stuck in the sand for the last 7 years. I just wanted to say Good Luck and God Bless to Team GB. I am so proud to be British. I will be watching the whole Opening Ceremony whilst baking in my little kitchen ready for tomorrow’s competition.

Frugally yours

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Tasty and Nutritious!

It is a week to pay day. For those who read my blog regularly, you will know from past history that I am always skint about now. July is no exception.

I have £40 in my current account to last until Thursday 2nd. Hopefully another £20 in petrol will cover me and the final £20 I have will cover the Indian meal TC and I have booked for Saturday evening.

Unfortunately though I am entering a baking competition this weekend and need another £10-20 to cover the ingredients. Even those with the most rudimentary maths, will see the figures just do not add up.

So save hitting my savings which are at an all time low, I will try to magic some cash up from somewhere.

Meals now consist of raiding the nooks and crannies of cupboards and freezer compartments in the search for something tasty.

Yesterday a good rummage in the freezer led to the discovery of a piece of seabass with only the slightest burn on the edges. I defrosted it in some cold water, patted it dry and covered it with some fajitas dry mix I opened 2 weeks ago.

Wrap it in tin foil into a hot oven for 20 mins.

Veggies are running a little low too. But, I did find a packet of own brand cheese and onion instant mash, that I bought 6months ago and never plucked up the courage to try. That’ll do.

Actually, following the instructions led to some very tasty accompaniment to the fish in about 30 seconds start to finish that was very cheesy. I would definitely buy it again for 59p. Plus enough to do something with tonight too.

Finished the whole meal off with a tin of peas 36p which also provide veggies for tonight.

So my tea looked like this (sorry for the poor quality photos) and meant no more trips to the supermarket for the foreseeable future. Good news!  
Frugally yours

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

I wish...

I used to spend a lot of my time wishing for fame riches and the perfect figure.

I know now that I am "grown up" as my wishes are far more prosaic.
  • I wish I had a new shower as mine broke last week.
  • I wish I had the money to buy a new garage door as mine is dangerous.
  • I wish my car was not coming up for its first MOT in September.
  • I wish the tickets for the show The Chap wants to attend in October were not so expensive.
Notice how all my wishes are to do with money? That really grates. Especially when funds are just dwindling all the time. Some days, I can be very down about it.

Yet, I am lucky.
  • I have a bath that works.
  • I have a home with a garage
  • My car is only 3 yrs old.
  • The Chap wants to go away for a weekend
So I go back to scrimping and saving and rarely spending. My goodness though sometimes it sucks! The bathroom shower going last week just seems the last straw.

Frugally yours

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Coping With Stress.

I mentioned yesterday that work is very stressful at the moment as I cover for the Director who is in sunnier climates.

I am being pulled in many different directions with the office and trying to do two persons work without the assistance of comic book superpowers is proving somewhat trying.

I got in yesterday evening and as motioned decided to de-stress by baking.

I do not know about you but I find that doing a task involving my hands rather than my brain allows me to slowly calm down after the rigours of the numpties I was dealing with in my "9-5".

I had noticed I was running low on bread at the weekend, so decided to make another couple of loaves to fill up the freezer again.

As I opened the the pantry door, I noticed this little bag looking wistfully at me in a corner.

It had been a freebie from my mum some months ago.

Being a free spirit, open to new possibilities kinda gal. I thought what the hell and grabbed it to have a go.

Possibly the easiest loaf in the world to make. Add 300ml of water then knead for 5 mins, leave for 5mins and then shape and place in baking tin to prove for about an hour. Bake for 35 minute and Bobs your Uncle, a perfect loaf.

In the end I brought it into work with me and shared it with others. All agreed it was delicious especially for being granary which I have not made before.

I think this is a good idea for people just starting out with bread making as it gives you a guaranteed loaf quickly, however at about £1 a bag for one loaf, it is certainly not a frugal option going forward.

However the time it gave me to wind down after a very busy day was priceless.

Frugally yours

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Modern Life

Modern technology is designed to make life easier.

Use email to save you time on posting. Call a person to save you time writing a letter. Use the dishwasher to save you time on washing up (God, I pray for a dishwasher).

So with all these "time savers" why do i feel like this?


The holiday season is upon us now and colleagues are going away for a spell of summer sun sadly lacking in the UK. Since Friday I have been taking responsibility for my own workload plus the Director's. Friday evening I was on the phone at 10pm to a client and back on the damn thing at 9am Saturday.

I had to work late yesterday to get everything done, plus I was the recipient of a client's sharp tongued diatribe for a piece work I was only covering for.

I spend my work life emailing, faxing, texting and calling in an effort to meet an "immediate" client need that 15 years ago would have taken anyone in my industry a week to fulfill with no negative client effects.

But now humanity rushes around like busy bees, buzzing from one meeting to the next, trying to achieve deadlines of "yesterday" without the time to smell the flowers and breathe.

I need time to smell the flowers this week. I was lying in bed last night planning emails, work call and meetings that needed to be set up. I also thought about some documents I need to email today and alternations to our terms that needed to reviewed before the end of day. Not to mention where to locate a block paver for TC.

These are not restful thoughts. Modern technology is my biggest bugbear. Everyone feels they need a flat screen TV, ipad, internet enabled phone, or a hoover with a ball attached. Technology has become a consumable purchase and a status symbol needed to be regularly updated to keep up with society.

I am no hermit trying to live without the modern world. I do own an iphone, a digital camera and an mp3 player, and I love them all. But, they are all old models that I was bought (some of which were bought second hand) for me by family members. They all work perfectly well and make my life easier. But they are obviously old styles and those around me keep advising me to update the technology.

I will not replace these items unless items break and cannot be repaired and even then I know currently I could not afford replacements. Whilst I too am a fan of technology, I can and do predominantly live without it suffering no complaints.

So if someone gave me some money, what would I spend it on? Well the list is short 1) a haircut as it has not been cut since early January 2) resoling my boots 3) save the rest towards a new garage door.

Technology does not make my life easier. I make my life easier, and this evening in an effort to relax, I have decided to bake again as after a day spent looking at a computer screen. Doing something with my hands allows me to calm down and turn my attention away from the office.

But it could be interesting.... as yesterday evening in an effort to cut my gas bill I switched off the hot water timer and am going to try until the end of the month only heating water for a bath as and when I need it and boiling a kettle for daily washing. I have an electric shower so I can still access hot water as and when I need it.

I forgot to mention the last quarterly combined gas and electricity bill arrived a week ago - £249.00. B*ll*cks!

This could be a very interesting 16 days.

Frugally yours

Monday, 16 July 2012

6 Months and Counting

Hello and welcome to my new follower StrawberryShazzy. I know who you are girl!!

It has been just over 6 months since I started blogging and I am really enjoying it.

Sometimes, I wake up and I have a post there in the my head already formed. Sometimes, a topic presents itself during the course of the day and other times I can spend ages writing to you only to delete it after 1 read through.

Knowing I have an audience to trying to paying off my debt and living a frugal life focuses me.

So I wanted today to write to the person who stumbles across my blog in a blind panic terrified by their personal debt and lying awake at night.

Firstly calm down. Nothing is insurmountable and you will get through this.

  1. Face Your Problem. Write a list of all you debts. Credit Cards, Loans, Overdraft, Family loans etc. Get an honest total.
  2. Get Help. If you think they are insurmountable and you are getting into arrears. Speak to the free experts and not some Numpty who wants you to consolidate and therefore extend your debt for another 20 years. If you are UK based this page will help
  3. APR APR APR. Which debt is costing you the most in interest? Not the biggest debt but the highest APR. That is your priority debt. Keep all other debts to a minimum monthly repayment and throw everything at the highest APR. Once it is paid off then start on the next highest APR and so on.
  4. Budget. Work out everything that you need to pay for and then budget for it. Mortgage, utilities, car, food, insurance etc. Work out what you have left. And then throw everything you can at your debt whilst also saving a little each month to cover prospective emergencies.
  5. Sell. If it not nailed down and you do not need it then sell it. Spare shoes, handbags, electronics. Then use the money to pay off your debt.
  6. Stop Buying. This probably seems really obvious. But if it is not food, medicine, petrol, or essential toiletries then DO NOT BUY IT.
  7. Reclassify. This was one of the hardest things I had to do. Cut back everywhere. If you food shop somewhere nice then reduce your overheads by visiting a cheaper supermarket. Think Aldi and Lidl. If you got to the hairdresser once a month then dye yourself. Use Estee Lauder? Try Simple. etc etc You will be surprised how much judicious use of your shopping power will reduce your overheads.
  8. No Treats. You do not deserve them. You are in debt. You need to pay it back. Stop treating yourself in an effort to cheer yourself up. Paying back your debts will make you happiest. So no meals out, or fancy hair styles or designer clothes until life is better.
  9. Less Spending, Not More Money. I know a lot of people who seem to think they need a new job with more money to clear their debts. This is probably not true. You will only spend more. So stop spending the money you have.
  10. Betting is Stupid. Do not attempt to clear debt by trying to win the money. The only winner in games of chance is the house.
  11. Breathe. Things will better. Facing a problem, if half way to clearing it.
And finally, email me. I cannot solve your problems, but I can listen and support you.
You are not alone my friend.

Frugally yours

Friday, 13 July 2012

Perfect Pins

I am naturally very dark with dark brown hair and eyes. But I have very pale skin.

One of the unfortunate side effects of such colouring is that my hair stands out. A good thing for the hair on my head. A very bad thing for the rest of my body hair.

My daily ablutions included a constant need to shave my legs etc.

I also have slightly sensitive skin, and my legs would only accept shaving if they were soaked in a hot bath prior to applying the razor with a sensitive shaving gel ideally.

This palaver always drove me potty, especially since I still ended up with legs that were covered in tiny red dots - irritated skin around a hair follicle.

Oh, what do?

The answer came pretty easily a few years ago and it also came at a very reasonable price.
I came across the these.

They are common bath salts.

I kept getting them with gift sets in anything from joke test tubes to fancy boxes and beautifully etched bottle.

I do not like bath salt, they for me are not a bathing essential

So, as nicely packaged as they were, the bath salts just gathered dust at the bottom of the bathroom cabinet until it was eventually chucked in those annual clear outs we women have.

Until one evening during a bath I discovered a use. Take roughly one tablespoon of bath salts into the palm of your hand and rub all over a nicely soaked leg. Then shave as usual.

I end up with the smoothest of legs, no nasty irritated skin from the razor and very soft skin. I then, after patting dry, slather a cheap body lotion all over the affected area for added indulgence.

Clarins have a body scrub which is divine but at roughly £30 per pot this is a very frugal alternative. Plus I often find bath salts can be picked up in charity shops for pence.
My legs.
Often on the discount shelves of beauty stores. I have even added a base oil then some drops of rosemary and / or lavenderr oil for exfoliating my hands.

Please note though, I would advise keeping such salts away from open cuts  / grazes and from delicate skin areas. Getting salt in an open cut hurts like hell.

Honestly try it, a few attempts and your pins will be ready for our glorious British summer of BBQs, shorts and Pimms.... um wait oh heck!

Frugally yours

Food Waste Friday


Every Friday, I link with Frugal Girl in an effort to shame myself into reducing my food waste.

After last week of being away, one would think I should have nothing to report.... Oh dear what a disappointment am I?

About three quarters of a pint of milk on the left and about half a tub of sour cream. I would actually try the sour cream, but it has all separated and looks rank. I would have taken a picture but did not want to hurt your delicate sensabilities.

Ho hum, better luck next week.

Frugally yours

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

I Love A Bit Of Tat.

Hello Harriet. Thank you so much for visiting me - x

I love a bit of tat. If it changes colour when you touch it, or means that something can hang on a wall that should not hang on a wall then I can be persuaded to spend money.

Do you know those Pound shops, well I have the biggest one in the country a few steps from one of our offices. I went in there today and boy do I get excited.

I came out after 15 minutes having spent £11.

I know £12 is a lot of money, but £10 was spent on these

They are sponges, you only add water and they will clean anything. Some examples -  sole marks from laminate flooring, scuff marks on skirting boards, baked grease  accumulated over many years on hobs (TC's new house) and my personal favourite the mural painted by my 3yo nephew and friends on the white spare room wall in felt tip...... there was much a screaming and a squawking and a shouting and a crying that Sunday afternoon so I understand.

Anyhoo, no-one has asked to review them. So buy them, don't buy it is none of my business. What I am trying to state is that my local supermarket wants about £3-£4 for them branded and the local £1 store sells them for just....um wait a minute I have the receipt somewhere....oh yes £1.

My sister cannot get them down south so I have a standing order to buy up any cheap sponges upon sight. 10 today. Apparently some of her friends saw them and want them too. My tenner will be refunded by my sis when I catch up with her.

I also bought 2 boxes to post items. 50p each and they take a pair of shoes perfectly so I use them to send off my ebay sales. The price is included in the P&P. So a legitimate expense I think.

I have a friend who gets just as excited as I do over such tat and I thought it might amuse you to see a few of our purchases. The rules are, it has to be cheap and basically tat that fulfils a need you did not realise you had.

Please note these are links I found and I am in no way related to the sellers or endorsing their products.  

These are my favourite.
A toothpaste dispenser
handbag dispenser

Frugally yours

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The Lurgy

Sorry about the radio silence, damn typical for me. A few days off and  I come down with the lurgy. For quite a few years I always got flu over Christmas (3 times in 8 yrs). 6 years ago after a particularly nasty bout that landed me in an ambulance just before NYE and then a month off work as I had complications – Pneumonia and Pleurisy.
Now, I do admit to being quite precious about my health. Every year I queue for my winter flu jab.

I had thought it was strange that whilst I was staying with my sister I was so shattered and falling into bed at about 10ish after a relatively quiet day.

Thursday it hit me when I woke up that I had come down with a cold and over the weekend it hit my chest. I spent Friday in bed and pretty much the same again on Saturday. Sunday, I  watched the tennis had snooze and kept being sick due to coughing all the time whilst viewing the washing from my few days away piled in a visable corner.

I really am not a lazy person but tidying the mess after returning from a few days away was just beyond me.

I made it into work on Monday and again today. Each day feeling a little bit more normal with the aid of over the counter cold remedies.

I hate being ill, but with a history of nasty chest infections. The only sensible course of action is to make sure I look after myself, otherwise history repeats itself and I end up in my parents spare room wheezing and barely able to talk.

Anyhoo, a quick update on life.

I have put aside the petrol money I need until it is Pay Day again and now have only a small amount for daily expenses to last 3 weeks until 2nd August. I have also transferred all the money I made from Ebay and put it into my savings account, which are still looking worryingly low.

I have though done a big food shop and spent  about £40. I will update the food page in the next few days. I did spend some of that money in M&S food hall after receiving another £10 voucher from an online research company. Already £2 of the way to my next.

Glad to be feeling better but upset at the £11/£12 I have had to fork out on over the counter remedies to make me feel normal. Day Nurse in my humble opinion is the only effective “cure” for a cold and bad congestion. But it is soooo expensive £5.85 in my local Chemist. I needed 2 boxes and am still having to take it today to get though all my cold calling without coughing down the ear of a prospective client. 

I am so glad to be feeling better, but I think it means I owe The Chap a big thanks as especially on Friday night when I was just a blubbering mess on his sofa in a completely black mood about savings, hobs, garage doors, holidays and debt. Poor guy!

Frugally yours

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Another Day of my week off gone..

After a bit of a spend over the weekend and yesterday on sunglasses and cocktails, I dialled it down today and my sister and I just spent the day doing family activities.

We took my nephew to his golf lesson followed by swimming, then back home to play with a friend of his.

I am sitting writing this in my sisters study listening to the pair of them discuss spider man and batman. It really is the most hilarious thing I have seen. My nephew just asked his mate if he wanted to help him whilst he had a poo. So M's friend sat and chatted to him whilst he went about his business in the bathroom. Perhaps it is the true side of friendship?

Having a three year old running around is the most exhausting and exhilarating of situations. I was woken at 6.45am by M who then insisted on playing with my mobile phone. So I thought I would make myself useful and so I got up and made my sister and bro in law a cup of tea and some toast to eat in bed.

I probably should be doing some sewing or wash the car or 100 other useful jobs. But the reality is this No Spend Day has been the best ever.

Frugally yours

Monday, 2 July 2012

My Ever So Seldom Seen Glamorous Side.

Hello and welcome to my new follower Fran. Thank you so much for visiting and taking the time to sign up. It is appreciated - x.

I have had the most fabulous weekend and day today.

Staying with my friend S was great. She welcomed me on Friday after work with fresh seabass and chocolate cheesecake. The meal was so delicious and she really makes me feel so welcome. Plus, S has the most amazing uber posh collection of lotions and potions and offered her entire collection at my disposal whilst I had a bath. Even S said I smelt superb after. Fully exfoliated everywhere and primed primped and preened to the fullest extent. It was pure bliss.

A night in her very comfortable spare room brought homemade breakfast muffins in the morning and a bacon sandwich. Then we caught a bus to covent garden and tootled around. I only invested in 3 scarves on a market stall all in different shades of animal print £7.50 total. (the lady did me a deal). They will make very nice presents for friends later in the year and 1 may well find its way into my own collection.

4pm saw us outside the theatre for The Mousetrap. The world's longest running play already having done 25000 performances over nearly 60 yrs. It was great . A small theatre, very intimate and it was excellently excuted. Kept S and I guessing until the very end! I will not say any more, as they do ask at the end of the show not to reveal the nature of the "whodunnit" to anyone. I would recommend a visit if you are visiting London anytime soon. It was also one of the most reasonable, at £35 for a ticket. Wicked last year cost us £60.

After the show we popped to my very favourite bar One Aldwych for lychee martinis. 

They are eye wincingly expensive but the most delicious alcohol cocktail  you will ever ever drink. We actually had 2 as they gave us 1 free for having kept us waiting 7 minutes for our first. At £12.50 plus service charge per drink, that I believe, is what is known as a result. Besides as the day had only cost the price of a bagel and 3 scarves. I think I could justify it as S had paid for my theatre ticket for my birthday.

I met my sister on Sunday outside of Harrods. Her son and hubby had gone down south for the day to visit family so she hot footed it to meet me for some serious window shopping in the best corner shop in the world. We tried on every kind of make up known to man. My sister looked and tried on a £6000 watch. I looked at Channel handbags, Louis Vuitton gloves and the pet department.

We got treated like royalty by the staff and even saw the most brilliant sale deductions. I love Rado watches and the diamond one I absolutely love was reduced from £4k to £1900. So, I got 2...... hahaha kidding!

At the end of looking at everything top to bottom. We left with no bags and no purchases. However we did both buy a sandwich whilst we there for hours. The bill came to £40 for both of us. But, I think they deserve my £20 for the way we were treated. At one point they even charged our mobile phone for free whilst we ate lunch.

Harrods is such a point of interest in the capital, filled with luxurious goods for the super rich. But, there are also so many items in for the average pocket too. However, this frugal blogger thoroughly enjoyed my day window shopping, and certainly for 6 hrs enjoyment did not begrudge them my £20 for the luxury of eating a club sandwich in the most amazing surroundings.

After transferring to my sisters yesterday, I was woken up early to my nephew determined that we should play with his new batmobile i bought him as a present (£1.50 - ebay) until it was time to drop him off at nursery. Sis and I then donned macs to visit the nearby Kingston where my absolute favourite TK Max is situated. I did then at that point capitulate and bought some new sunglasses - Moschino - reduced from £180 to £29.99. They should last me years. What do we think?

I had given myself some extra money for my weeks holiday from work and whilst I would never have paid £180 for glasses, and certainly could get some new glasses cheaper..... well they make me feel like Audrey Hepburn, and Jackie O all rolled into one. 

Ah, to heck with it, I love em! And it has not been an expensive weekend at all.

My sis is my best friend and her and her family make me feel so welcome, my nephew M who is 3 constantly wants to play so this afternoon we played matching games, fishing games and snap. I also lay on the bed with him whilst he went to sleep as a treat so my sis and her hubby could have a little peace and quiet together. Together we read stories, play with cars and he loves to look at photos. My reward? As he went to sleep this evening with my arm curled around his chest, my georgous, handsome kind sweet nephew sleepily murmed 'I love you Aunty Abigail' and kept kissing my hand. I love my new glasses, and scarves and even my £20 sandwiches. But, would give them up in a heartbeat along with my health for that bundle of mischievous loud energy that I have no doubt will be pounding through my bedroom door at 7am tomorrow determined to play horsey...

Frugally yours