Friday, 26 October 2012

Birthdays And A Trip

Today's was 2 work colleagues birthdays in my office.
We all put in a few pounds, just a gesture really. The lucky recipient normally gets a voucher or a CD etc.
Today one of the girl's who's birthday it was is a special friend.
We often have lunch or meet for dinner a couple of times per year.
So I wanted to do something special.
I mentioned to my mum that I would like to bake her a cake to say happy birthday.
Unfortunately the cake I wanted was a Nigella Easy Almond Cake and requires a lot of marzipan. An ingredient I did not have I stock.
Luckily she had 3 blocks and gave me one.
So all I needed to buy was some almond extract.
I forgot to get it. Typical!!
So again I substituted vanilla essence.
No-one seemed to notice.
It made a lovely flavoursome cake (should do 6 eggs!).
I would definitely make it again, and have to say. I love my new ring pan too.
Creates a much fancier looking bake. It should last a life time.
On a better note. I got home last night to find a letter from the supermarket which gave me food poisoning a couple of weeks ago. £15 voucher. Not sure at all it was worth it!

Currently I am sitting on the train with my ridiculously expensive ticket on my way to Kent for the weekend.

The reason? A girls weekend

We all met about 4 years ago on a singles holiday and still keep in touch.
You would imagine we would all be wearing slinky attire ready for 48 hrs of debauchery...

Nothing could be further from the truth. We all converge about 9ish tonight and tomorrow after a trip out shopping the plan is to camp out on the lounge floor with pizza, wine and strictly.

Maybe as we are all around the late thirties mark we should be more rock n roll. But I know from all the emails rocking back and forth this weekend that it hits the spot for all of us!

Thrifty and fun!

Frugally yours

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

An Ode To British Rail

Dear British Rail

Thank you so much for providing a website to book train tickets.

After traversing your website this week in search of a tickets from Staffordshire to Kent for the weekend I wanted to thank you for providing the most confusing information.

It has been a joy to research my limited option for travelling with you. I have been filled with wonder and awe at your varied tickets offers and have been happy to discover that I can pay £100s given the choice for a 175m journey.

It is a shame that with my limited education of only having a degree that I was unable to fathom off peak hours and I think it was wonderful to engage in a 25min hunt around your online pages to discover an explanation.

However it did mean I was then in the position to be able to ring your 10p / minute information line and spend the first 3minutes on a recorded menu. It is always so much more exciting to speak to a computer and engage in a lottery of button pushing to speak to an operator.

My favourite part was the 1 minute I spent saying no to the option of providing feedback at the end of the call, before I had even reached my required destination of speaking to a living breathing human.

The conclusion to this protracted investigation was visiting my local train station and buying a ticket from a charming gentleman for the princely sum of £59.30. More than a tank of petrol for my little POLO, and confirming my journey will entail 3 changes of trains, including a charming trip of 2 stations on the underground with my luggage.

What a thrifty, convenient way to travel.
Frugally yours

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Back Home

Had such a lovely weekend.
Got some great photos of the celebs at the Star Trek convention. Apparently it has been covered in the national press too. Did you see? A couple got married dressed at Klingons. Not The Chap and I,I would add!

Unfortunately though I have managed to pack the cable that attaches my camera to my pc. So cannot show you I am afraid for the time being.

Caught the train home early morning which meant I was back for lunchtime.
As I had viewings at the flat over the weekend it was still immaculate.
So, nothing to do.
Hmm mm
But nothing in the house for lunch tomorrow.

Time for a bit of baking methinks.
First bread to get me through the week at work, then some madeleines.
I have been wanting to make them for ages.
Good old Nigella came up trumps with a recipe.
I am getting so much more confident with my baking, changing ingredients and trying to personalise my bakes.

Nigella wanted me to add rose water to the madeleines. But, who keeps that in stock? Vanilla extract worked fine. And to jazz them up a bit I baked in a pea sized amount of marzipan to each cake too.
They were so delicious I ended up making two batches as I ate the first lot!
I love it when you can make something delicious at home without a special trip to the supermarket.
Frugally yours

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Star Trek Convention day 2

We left the convention just after lunch after our money was spent.
We got autographs of David Warner, Mark Alaimo, and loads of others. Some were so charming and others... Well not much.
At one point I lost The Chap for half an hour. Turns out he managed to sneak in meeting only blooming mr trek himself. William Shatner. And he got his autograph.
So we left happy.
We then checked our funds at which point TC came out with the quote of the weekend
"I feel like I have been mugged by nerds" lol!
Some of the costumes were fantastic. The trouble and money spent by some is phenomenal!
Others,....well not so sure the Federation would have wanted them.
My other favourite TC quote as we boarded the train back to central London,
"The problem with Star Trek is, with the Federation I would have only been an Engineerer. But in Star Wars, I would have been Hans Solo!"
You got to love his attitude!
Frugally yours

Friday, 19 October 2012

Star Trek Convention day 1

I downloaded an app today which means I can blog on the go.
How wonderful is new technology?
We are at the convention and it is amazing.
We met Odo, chekov, Worf and saw all the captains.
So many people were dressed up and I got some good photos but I will have to put them when I get back.
Bit expensive, but all good fun.
Frugally yours

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Space, The Final Frontier

Hi Peeps

Just a quickie as I am going away from tomorrow lunchtime until Sunday.

The Chap and I have got tickets to Destination Star Trek at the Excel Centre in London.

I appreciate it is not everyone’s cup of tea, but we cannot wait.

The tickets have cost £50 each for a 3 day event, but the hotel has cost £200 across the two of us.

Total £300.00

We have kept the cost of the weekend down though, as we have been given £50 worth of train vouchers which have covered our travel.

I have packed individually wrapped croissants for breakfast on the two days… no continentals for us, no sirrree. That plus the hotel free tea and coffee will give me us a nice start to the day.

We aim to buy a sandwich for later on from a cheap street vendor and take our own drinks for whilst we are there.

In the evening we have printed off some 2- 4- 1 vouchers to pizza restaurants etc to try and keep the cost down.

However, to have your photo taken with Cpt Kirk or Cpt Picard, £40 and another £40 for a photo with or another. So it probably will entail some spending, which I am prepared for, but I want to spend my money on merchandise and memorabilia and not overpriced nibbles.
I wouldn't kick him out of bed for eating biscuits. x
Being frugal, does not always mean denying yourself, just being sure about what you want to spend your money on.

If you are interested, this is the largest star trek convention outside the US and the only one ever outside the UK to boast all 4 captains in one place plus a host of other guests.

So excited.

And, before you ask No we are not dressing up!

Are you interested in seeing some photos?

Frugally yours

Monday, 15 October 2012

Give Me An Hour

Morning Peeps!

I had a spare hour over the weekend, and I discovered that you can actually achieve a huge amount in an hour, given a phone and internet connection.

  • Rang up Staffordshire Police to complain about a dangerous roundabout
  • Wrote to my local MP about said dangerous roundabout.
  • Checked my bank statement
  • Contacted insurance broker after discovering a mistake on bank statement - they had charged me treble!
  • Rang Water company and checked my bill as I was paying £44.50/ month. Who knew you only paid it for 8 months?? (No point changing to a meter now as shortly moving)
  • Chased up Supermarket who poisoned me, no news as yet - my complaint is not even registered on their system yet (7 days later!)
  • Also chased my district council re: pothole reported on Monday last week. Someone came out and checked it, yes it is bad. Will be repaired within a month.
  • Rang up housing association who owns the outside of my flat. Very bizarre arrangement, i pay them a service charge each month for the upkeep of the outside, but that does not cover my front door apparently. So I wanted to check if the garage door was covered. "Check your lease" was the answer.....bunch of unhelpful muppets!
Now this is not exactly hugely rewarding, but it is amazing how follow up calls to public sector departments can hang around. Having a free hour and using my mobile (Free minutes left) meant that I am really getting up to date with paperwork, especially as this weekend I finally managed to complete our cul-de-sac's accounts which have been hanging over me since November last year. Yippeeeee! Never getting behind again..... ever! 

Flat moving along nicely, another viewing tomorrow, followed by a second viewing later this week, so tonight after book club I must remember to remove knickers from radiator. 

Plus, The Chap is having 3 bells knocked out of his house this week ready for the new kitchen, but it meant we talked about what furniture I was going to bring and where it would go.

Slowly getting there I think!

Frugally yours
PS If you watch one movie this month, make it "The best exotic marigold hotel" - I saw it last nigh, pure magic!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

I love Dave!

He has only gone and bloomin' done it!

I now have a garage door that closes, opens and does not try to kill you as it transfers from one state to the other.

As it was a huge 7ft 7 steel door and the springs had gone, you can imagine I took my life in my hands every time I put the car away or got it out.

For 10 years I have put up with it and never allowed another to go anywhere near it. Well the thing opened and closed, didn't it? So as garage doors go, it did exactly what it said on the tin..

But with viewers currently looking round W Towers, changes had to made. It seems poor business sense, to try and incapacitate potential tenants. I mean how can they go to the bank and pay the rent, if they have no head after a neat decapitation from an errant garage door? :o)

But Dave, came round last night at 7pm, in the dark and fitted some second hand springs. He then repaired the weather seals, roller mechanism and hyper drive (I wasn't really listening at this point). Bless Dave, he was there until 8.30pm to get it repaired.

It now works a treat. And the best news?

A bill for £45, which I paid immediately.

Dave then sat me down and explained this was a temporary measure, as obviously the garage door had initially been used in the ark. His fix would last me about 3 years, but I did need a new garage door, as it was scraping here on the brick work, and the wooden something or other was disintegrating.

I already knew that, but good ole Dave fixed it and has given me time to save! He also quoted £510 for a new one fitted. Well I could get it for £490 through him, but with horizontal lines which he thinks catch the dirt easier, so recommended vertical lines for £20 more.

This is hugely more reasonable than "robbing b%st%rds" I saw at the weekend who wanted £640.00.

I was also very cheeky and asked if he ever had bubble wrap from when his garage doors were delivered, as I needed some to wrap ornaments and pictures ready for the move. He was over the moon to give me some, as he normally has to pay to dump it. So that was a result too, as I was going to have to pay for a roll this weekend.

Pays to ask!

Dave also because of his visit to me has ended up with 2 new orders for garage doors, one from mum to a flat of hers and one from my neighbours who liked what they saw.

Everyone's a winner!

Frugally yours

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Tying Up the Loose Ends

It occurred to me this morning whilst eating a chocolate covered cupcake (courtesy of work colleague) that I mention a lot of subjects then never really clarify the result.

So today I will.
Firstly, after an un-named supermarket recently tried to incapacitate me with a nasty bout of food poisoning on Saturday night after consuming a boxed take away Chinese, I went in on Monday and complained again after my phone call on Sunday.

I am really not a person who can stomp in shouting and ranting, as I tend to think that the Customer Service Person did not cook the dinner so are not ultimately responsible. I was firm and polite. I stated I was not happy, I realised it was not this lady's fault, but The Chap and I has been very ill and I wanted someone to take me seriously. I then produced the packaging, and receipt.

I immediately got my money returned and together we filled in an E122131622i/driggg/lly884dhtt>.Doc form (well you get the idea). I am not expecting to hear anything back, from said supermarket, but I live in optimistic hope.
My Tesco vouchers are creeping up nicely to purchase the Alessi cutlery.

Whilst I do pop into other supermarkets, I always get my petrol from Tesco and that plus a huge cry out to friends using Facebook (who then asked their friends), Freegle and even the cashless exchange means I can now have 12 of everything and indeed I already have purchase 10 boxes of the main cutlery and Mom has bought me 5 boxes of the starter sets as a Christmas present. So well on my way.

A huge shout out to Karen at Use It Up, Wear It Out who very kindly sent me some she had received after my blog. I love to read every comment peeps write in response to my posts, but I especially felt touched a stranger to me had gone to so much trouble. In general, aren't people kind?
The kittens are settling in well and generally look happy.

Of course they run from me when I enter a room, like I am covered in snarling Rottweiler's. However, I find a little bit of ignoring of them and within 30minutes -1hour, they are fast asleep on myr lap.

This is Bella (we changed her name a little from Belle), she is normally very shy. But on Friday night, she plonked herself down on my lap and stayed there for ages fast asleep with the occasional twitching... dreaming of catching mice perhaps? So very cute!
The garage door saga stretches on, I have a man coming tonight to try alternative springs on it this evening. If not, no choice but to buy a new one.
And finally, having another couple look round the flat tomorrow morning.

...Oh Lord what if they want it???

..Oh Lord, what if they don't???

Frugally yours

Tuesday, 9 October 2012


I was reading an article yesterday whilst munching on a wagon wheel (Poundland 8 for £1) about quitting.

In it, a high powered business attired fashionista and glossy magazine Editor in Chief in her 50s was extolling the virtues of leaving her high powered job and having time off to enjoy life.

She was then intent on returning to work in 6-12 months time to freelance in order to give up the stresses and strains of being a wage slave.

Isn’t it nice, that she can make the decision to do that?

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have a year off work to re-evaluate our priorities? Wouldn’t it be nice if we Customer Service Agents / Sales People / Receptionists / Shop Floor Workers could freelance?

(Actually, we can. It is called Temping and mostly just buggers up our finances whilst trying to find permanent work.) I file Freelance in the same cabinet as “Working From Home” and “Size 0”. Lovely as a concept, but it just does not relate to me at all.

This is not real life. Most of the population need to every work in order to meet mortgage payments, turn the heating on and “Oh I don’t know” the little luxuries of life, like for example eating. :o)

I have never begrudged a certain sector the ability to earn extreme amounts of money, Footballer, Model, CEO, Author, or for that matter Glossy Magazine Editors in Chief.

But, what pisses this blogger off, is the assumption that anyone / everyone can take a step off the treadmill of work and downsize their lives. How can you downsize from a flat??? …. Tent…. Caravan??  Do  / Did you choose to work, or do / did you have to in order to make ends meet?

Most of us get up each day and go to work because we have to. Those lucky few that enjoy their work are in a minority. I like the idea of my employment much more that the reality.

e.g. I like the idea of being a Dogs Home Assistant, petting dogs and walking them much more than I suspect the reality, of clearing poop, seeing gross negligence,  getting the occasional bite, and washing dog after dog. Plus the cold of being outside all day every day- even in winter *shudder shudder!*

So today, I wanted to talk about quitting.

I cannot give up work, or step down. I have to work.

But there are some things I can and do try to quit.

·        Buying clothes
·        Using my credit card
·        Unnecessary food shopping
·        Buying branded goods
·        Any unnecessary spending

Peeps. I am not happier for doing this, but there again I am not unhappier either.

After the first few months, you just do not notice, it becomes second nature to do without. You automatically look for the unbranded and value goods. You do not enter shops selling items you cannot afford and weekends are no longer spent “going shopping”.

Please do not misunderstand, I am doing this because I have to. I need to pay off my blooming debt, I need to increase the savings as I just am not earning what I use to.

If everything changed tomorrow, the debt was paid off and the savings were increased then I would go out and blow £1000 on a new sofa for The Chap and I.

I do every now and again make a mistake and put something on a credit card or buy a luxury item.

I would hate you to think I write this blog in order to preach about thrifty-ness. It is unstructured thoughts of a rather silly woman who is trying to be less silly with money, but still makes mistakes.

So good luck to those who can make changes to their working life, but for the rest of us stuck in a career we just fell into 20 years ago. We soldier on, and wait for retirement whilst quitting those little luxuries that whilst not improving life did brighten a day. Mine was expensive make up, and designer clothes.

Oh for my bygone Dior days!!!

Frugally yours

Monday, 8 October 2012

What I Did This Weekend, Teacher.

Hello Peeps! Good weekend? Did you get those jobs done that have bothering you? Did you just enjoy the last of the sun? or just hunker down in hibernation mode?

I did all of the above.


This and next weekend were always going to busy. I am right in the middle of trying to get the flat ready to rent.

The oven has been scrubbed within a inch of it’s life and the Plumber is coming round next week to prepare a gas safety certificate. I still need an electrical safety certificate and (dum dum dum) the garage door needs sorting.

The garage door is the biggest pain in the “*&%^!!!!!”, as my flat was built in the 60s the height of the door is about 7ft 6, which makes it an unusual size compared the standardised heights nowadays, All of this means extra cost as my door will have to be specially made. 1 quote £640.00 incl VAT.

I am still hoping that the door can be repaired if we can find springs of 17inches, unlikely apparently though the garage door man is coming along with a selection on Wednesday to try some old springs out.

Fingers crossed. If I can just repair the garage door and make it last 6months then I am quite happy to replace the door in early 2013 when funds are more buoyant.

So a few jobs done.

Unfortunately that took me away from The Chap all day Saturday (I like my Saturdays spent with TC). So to make it up to him I bought a take away Chinese dinner for 2 (£7) from a well know supermarket, which we happily ate whilst watching Strictly.

An hour later, I was in the bathroom violently ill (You do not need to know the details) soon to be followed by TC (tho to a much lesser extent as he has a cast iron stomach) I hobbled the 2mins back to mine then spent from about 10pm-ish through to 4am in the bathroom with terrible abdominal cramps.


Said supermarket has been informed, at the very least I want my £7 returned and I have spoken to Environmental Health (about as useful at a chocolate teapot). I have to go into said supermarket this week with my packaging and receipt. Not to sure what to say, but after ruining Saturday night , I am pretty cross.

So Sunday was spent in the PJs all afternoon (after lunchtime wake up) whilst I tidied the flat ready for it’s first viewing today. Plus I filled 4 more boxes ready to be stored.

So, so much to do!
Could quite easily panic.

Total spend? £7. Better get my blooming money back…
Frugally and somewhat fragile(ly)

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

20 Pence Lunch & Swopping

I am always on the look out for cheap ways to each lunch at work with the minimum of preparation required, as intrinsically lazy and prefer to spend 10 minutes in bed of a morning rather than preparing a sandwich or salad.

As we know I am a big old fan of the Tesco Everyday Value range, all (bar one) of the products I have bought in this range have been excellent value for money.

So a new purchase of the Tesco Everyday Value Soft Cheese at 50p a pot seemed an excellent price, plus it tasted really yummy (just as good as Philadelphia). It lasts me Monday - Friday.

A lot of people seemed to be obsessed with yellow stickers at the supermarket denoting goods about to go out of date and heavily reduced. I am no exception. However, it is rare I manage to find the discounts some of my blogging friends seem to happen upon.

The one place I always get a bargain is the bread. There is always something reduced. Yesterday I bought 4 huge burger baps for 39p. c. 10p each.

I simply put the baps straight into the freezer when I get home.

Come the work morning, I stumble out of bed, stagger to the kitchen and grab a frozen bun (on a Monday you have to remember the cheese as well). Stuff it into the handbag in a plastic bag and by lunchtime it is defrosted. Half it, stuff it in the toaster and then spread with the above cheese whilst hot.

Consume in the break room, accompanied with free office tea and gentle moaning noises of enjoyment whilst clock watching.

According to The Chap, I am currently turning a little Rainman-ish when it comes to Tesco Alessi Cutlery Vouchers - see more information here - obsessively collecting / counting my vouchers.

I have already bought 9 sets of knives and forks, and needed to obtain 140 vouchers to achieve my goal of 10 of everything by Christmas. A total spend of £132.27. Buying the whole lot retail would cost approaching £1000. Over £800 is a good saving, but only if I can get the vouchers for free.

And I have, by fair and foul means, Facebook allowed me to ask friends all over the country to collect them for me and they are all kindly posting them.

But, I have also used freecyle (donations currently totalling 60 vouchers) and a cashless exchange post. In fact tonight I have been out and collected about 20 vouchers in exchange for 2 homemade Nigella Lemon Syrup Cakes, which cost aprox £1 to make.

A little blinging of the packaging also helps the swopping process and creates some goodwill.

Current total stands at c. 120 vouchers and counting.

Frugally yours

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Middle Aged, Continued

I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed the comments received from you peeps after my post yesterday, and I hope you do not mind me re posting some today.

Rainbowchild, you had me in stitches with your story:-
I mentioned the other day at work that I was hot, to which, a young lad said "oh that will be a flush, my nan gets them, it's your age" - I'm not even 40(yet)!

It may not be justifiable homicide, but you might get away with a Temporary Insanity plea...

Upon reading your replies, it seems to me that middle age is about 4/5 years ahead of our age at the moment...

I suppose middle age changes from generation and era. In the the 1500s, I may be considered old at 36 and probably would have been a grandmother by now. shudder shudder.

Datacreata really intrigued me with her post:-
Actually, as far as producing children goes you are considered an elderly primigravida at 35 although I am sure it used to be 25 when I was trying as that is what was written down on my forms! I don't think (other than for medical reasons) you should be considered middle aged until you feel like it. I think your thinking changes the more you grow up (as in growing together as a couple rather than as two singlies.

Middle aged (medically) is unofficially between 40 and 65 in some dictionaries but who is counting. Old age after that. I am quite a bit younger than DB and he always says he is as old as the woman he loves to cuddle!
It is all a matter of perception and everyone's perception is different.

Childbearing is a long way from being discussed any time soon, but at a recent Drs appt, I was informed I would now be considered an old mother, and indeed amongst my peers I know very few my age who have not already had their families if they wanted them.

At 36 I am aware if I decide to have a family, that the process may not be quite so straightforward as it would have been 10 years ago.

I would point out that in my mind, middle age is not quite the hysteria inducing era I used to consider it to be. Life expectation and advances in medicine mean that i hope to live well into my 80s, and die after an active life, surrounded by family and friends

I have decided that the following list will define the moment when I consider myself to be middle aged, sod the amount of years I have lived on this earth as a factor.

1) I make the same meal on each evening of the week e.g. Friday it must be steak and chips
2) Trainers are bought with velcro fastenings
3) I no longer own any knickers which match a bra
4) I actually buy something out of the colour supplement which comes with the Sunday papers. e.g. a phone with extra large buttons
5) I buy a beige car
6) I sit and watch either"Songs of Praise" or "Coast"
7) I am strangely drawn to Aled Jones
8) I wear trousers with elasticated waists

In the meantime, I may not know any current inhabitants of the Top Ten, but I do at 36 know my own mind, can hold an fairly intelligent conversation about politics and know everything when it comes to picking a good mortgage.

Perhaps life isn't so crap after all.

But I have to ask, what indicators do you think would prove you were middle aged?

Frugally yours

Monday, 1 October 2012

When Are You Middle Aged?

Morning Peps!

How was the weekend? Good, good!

I was musing on Saturday night, when do you become middle aged?

At 36, I consider myself to be young. However, a "20 something year old" whipper snapper work colleague kindly informed me that at 36, I am officially 1 year into middle age as according to said child "Middle Age lasts 35 - 50 then you become old".

I, of course choked on my low fat bagel with extra light cream cheese and sternly warned the 'Toddler In The Corner' that HR would soon be called for her gross misconduct and suggested she "shut her trap and do some filing, whilst us grown ups did some work".... I think I got my point across! *evil grin*

Unfortunately, such attitudes from those in their teens and early twenties.. (tweenties??) are not uncommon and only emphasised by such comments as made by my teenage niece a while ago.

Me "I must try and change some of my old vinyl"
Teenage Niece "What's vinyl?"

Of course after explaining such archaic terms (?) I put her in the stocks and refused to listen to One Direction in the car on the way home.

The reason for such musings is, The Chap and I got up on Saturday morning and did the following

- Went to the garden centre, buying alpine plants and conifers to plant up the back garden
- Went to Wilkinsons, and purchased a mat for the back door
- Pets At Home to buy a new covered kitty litter tray.

We were then home by 1pm and spent the afternoon gardening.

As I stood by the kitchen window, watching TC cutting turf and swearing I realised that not so long I would have still been in bed at 1 pm on a Saturday nursing a hangover and planning Saturday evening.

I would have arranged any type of activity to avoid visiting a garden centre and would have viewed gardening with the same horror as a beige bra and wearing comfortable shoes.

Is growing up, the same as growing old?

So I suppose, age means different things to different people and perhaps in your twenties you should be going out all the time spending any spare cash, on shoes, make up and taxis.

I am just not sure that at 36, one should wake up on the sofa at 1.30am Sunday morning lying on one's boyfriend's tummy with two kittens snoring on your lap whilst your boyfriend is meditating the inside of his eyelids, mouth slightly ajar. Oh, and the golf was playing on the tv, the last thing I remember was the decision to change the channel and watch the highlights at midnight ...

Please! someone tell me that at 36 there is still hope! Am off to purchase a Justin Bieber CD and I would start watching X Factor if not for the fact I have been reliable informed by The Chap it is justifiable grounds for dumping.

So come on peps, when does middle age start?

Frugally yours