Friday, 29 March 2013

A Few Chores.

Today has been a day of doing chores. What a way to spend your days off.
I used some vouchers and discount codes to get a few luxuries.
I was up and out early on Easter Friday. I think the Chap was pretty perplexed, but I didn't want to spend the morning lounging around. I wanted to get sorted.
First things first, after being away last weekend and I am away again next weekend. So, I am behind with the washing. I was wearing some pretty strange outfits to work this week!
As we do not have a drier, and the weather is just pants in Staffordshire, I decided for once to throw some money at the problem and took two huge bags of our washing to the local laundrette. For £13 they washed, dried and folded the lot for me. Not the best way to spend my hard earned cash. But with the weather freezing, and our only way of drying is the clothes airer, then this was a small price to pay for some soft towels for a change and no mould in our spare room.
I then toddled off to the local town centre and did a bit of shopping. First a stop at Halfords as O2 were giving away 1litre free screen wash for O2 customers. I do not really need it now, but I will do in a few weeks. So, happy to store it until then. RRP £2.49. Thank you very much.
I then went to The Body Shop and treated myself to some more moisturiser as again O2 were offering £10 off a £20 spend so I picked up some dead posh shampoo too that normally cost £4.50 per bottle. Umm may be hiding that from the TC.. is that bad??
Pomegranate Firming Day Cream
RRP £16

Rainforest Shine Shampoo
Then a stop at the outdoor market where I picked up 6 huge potatoes suitable to baking, mashing etc for 89p. Much better value than the supermarket.
I also popped to Wilkinson as this weekend I am planning to get planting. I want to get the potatoes in and start off the geraniums and our hanging basket. I also picked up some tomatoes seeds. 3 for 2 at 60p each. I do not know is that cheap?
I cam home full of good intentions and made lunch for TC and I, then made  a fatal mistake.. I sat down. 2 hours later I woke up. Sleeping during the day is the laziest thing you can do. But um, Goodness! I felt so much better. It was wonderful and not a feeling of guilt at all. TC was really laughing!
Really enjoying the long weekend, and I hope you have some nice plans.
Frugally yours

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Huh Oh!

Just stopping by, we woke to a flooded kitchen this morning.

The Chap at 6.30am was prising his beautifully laid tiles off the wall to get at the leak. (He only finished on Sunday!)

The garage is damp now too.

We are not happy bunnies here at 'Southfork'.

Got to go mopping & cleaning to do.

Frugally yours

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

A Few Of My Favourite Things

I am, as we speak, running towards this long Easter weekend as if it is was a long lost lover. I am that excited about 4 days off work!

In our family we rarely give Easter eggs and normally exchange a little present instead to save our waistlines.

I thought you might be interested in a few of my current favourite buys instead of as well as indulging in Chocolate.

See it looks like a polar bear!!
Black & Blum have been my favourite design company since I stumbled across them about 18months ago in a shop whilst on the Isle of Wight. I bought their classic lunch box (box app├ętit), and now have increased my range to their lunch pot to take soup and fruit into work. Their product line exude quality with clean lines and practicality assured.Their new product is the brrrrr

It is an ice tray! You turn it 90 degrees and fill it with water until it reaches the overspill & screw the top on, then bring it back down to horizontal and put it into the freezer. The lid stops the nasty smells from getting in and you just have to give it a sharp tap to release the ice cubes. Perfect for those with limited freezer space. Now lets be honest who has had a gin and tonic only to bring it to your lips and see the odd stray pea floating on the top? I cannot believe no-one has thought of this before
At £9.99 it’s a perfect new home present or thanks for having me gift.

The Hair Turban
The Blonde Bombshell kindly gave me this on Saturday. It is a hair turban.

Such a great idea after a bath, you simply put the larger end at the back of your head and scoop your hair into the narrower part. Twist the microfiber fabric and then secure the narrow end at the nape of your neck using the loop and huge diamante button. Ready in seconds to answer the door or put on make up before a big night out. Mine was from Primark, but Boots are selling something similar here

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared
Another Scandinavian book, and it is just brilliant for a holiday or long weekend read. I picked it up when it was on special offer for the Kindle at 20p. It has now gone back up to £3.08. It features Allan Karlsson who is 100 years old and in the first few pages flees from his nursing home on his 100 birthday with a stolen suitcase. He meets an odd assortment of merry men as he makes a sedate escape across the country involving a hot dog vendor, organised crime and an ex circus animal, pursed by the police and media. In-between each chapter set in the present we flash back to Allan’s life leading to this point, and realise he was present at every major historical turning point of the 20th century.
It was such good fun to read, I couldn’t put it down!

Who buys tomato sauce as a present? Weirdo Abigail!
But this sauce transforms the ordinary bacon butty into culinary heaven. At £1.99 for 310G it is not exactly cheap, but it will have you coming back again and again and again.

At £19 for 4 they are not cheap. But I bought some for my sister a few years ago after I invested in a couple of boxes. They are a design classic. So posh, I always feel like I should not be using them with own brand coffee!

Buying an Easter Egg is nice for youngsters, but only if you can afford it. For the grown ups why not spend the same amount of money as you would on chocolate on a little treat that your loved one will retain much longer?

Frugally yours
P.S. I received no money or incentive for writing this list. It is my own opinion and if you do not like it then go and write your own blog.

Monday, 25 March 2013

A Fantastic Weekend

This weekend was aMAZing.

I had such a great time with my friend "The Blonde Bombshell" (lets see what she makes of that title!).

I got there at about 9ish despite the snow in Staffordshire, and had the largest rum and cola you have ever seen. Followed by a delicious pizza. We exchanged news and hugged and gossiped and generally had a good catch up.

In bed by just after midnight and up at eight for freshly baked croissants and my new favourite Apricot Jam. I have to buy some! We then toddled off to Covent Garden for a mooch dressed for the dreadful sleet and snow. Thankfully none of it stuck
Covent Garden Interior May 2006 crop.jpg

My friend, with an eye to my limited budget, had booked us into Bistro 1, 2 courses for £7.95. I had bacon and potato salad, with fish cakes for main. So yummy!

Then off to the matinee performance of Spamalot. So funny especially as I am Monty Python fan.

We always then round off our day out with Lychee Martini at 1 Aldwych Place which is a short walk away. Don't look at the prices, it will just upset you.

Back to hers for homecooked seabass, and more rum. Then Bed.

Up early again and she did bacon and mushroom sandwiches for breakfast. We watched the Grand Pix then it was time to go home.

But I went home in style Folks, I walked to the bus stop behind Chris Martin (from ColdPlay) and his daughter! They were not catching a bus..

I had accidently booked a 1st class ticket for the way home for an extra £6. That little bit of luxury on the way home was fantastic!

What I liked about the weekend was that I spread the cost. I paid for the theatre tickets in January about £35. Then booked the train tickets in Feb and organised an Oyster Card to use public transport cheaply in London - Cost £36. (£26 For staffs to london train tickets and £10 on the Oyster card).

So this weekend I went with £50 and came home with change.

But seeing one of my best friends? Priceless!

Frugally yours

Friday, 22 March 2013

No-One Expects The Spanish Inquisition.

A couple of reader picked up on a point I tried to hide in the text yesterday.

Yes, The Chap received a gas bill of £700 for the quarter. We live in a 3 bedroom house.

I am not worried about the Cats getting up the duff anymore as The Chap's had kittens!

I write a blog on how to reduce your outgoings and pay off your debt then go and then receive a quarterly gas bill for £700.... something is wrong somewhere.

Of course no-one expects the Spanish Inquisition which is exactly what I got when I returned home from work. Actually I got a text about it whilst still at work he was that upset.

But, not with me...

For you see I do not even know where the central heating control panel is. I think he suspects the cats..

Ofcourse the upshot is that gas usage is being reviewed. The Results
  • We are changing supplier
  • We have reviewed the when it will now be programmed. Not at all in the morning, and 4 hours from 6.30 - 10.30pm
  • The thermostat has been turned down
  • The Chap is looking into cavity wall insultation.
  • We are also going to purchase draft excluders for the lounge.
I did point out that my combined bill at my 2 bed flat was considerably less than this, and so perhaps he should allow me to me to control the heating.

Watch this space!

Frugally yours

Thursday, 21 March 2013

The Budget & A Moan

Firstly Hello & Welcome to my new followers - J Stevens and OhMyGodOhMyGodOhMyGod Only blooming Frugal Queen... bow scrape etc etc. (For my family members who only ever read my blog because they have to. Frugal Queen is the rock star of thrifty blogging!) Thanks so much for visiting. x

2013 spring budget was announced yesterday. It has been aimed at “those who want to work and get on”. I want to work and get on, so lets have a look then.

The Main Points

·        A cut in corporation tax.
Oh good, an employer gets the benefit of an increase in profits. Not helpful to me at all. Plus my employer gets to cut his National Insurance bill by £2000, and as it is a small company there is every chance he might not have to pay any NI according to the budget.

·        Frozen petrol duty.
Well considering I am already being stuffed at the pump paying c. £50 for a full tank of petrol for a 1.2l POLO and that lasts me 1 week. Then I am not going to notice that it is not getting MORE expensive.

·        Cut in beer duty by 1p. Who cares? How many pints of beer would you have to be drinking to think at the end of the month I have an extra tenner. If you do then you should probably be looking at stopping drinking!

·        Income tax threshold raised to £10,000 as of 2014. At the end of April 2013 the income tax threshold is going up anyway and so I will be better off by £23 per month. These income tax rises are the only raise I have had in well over 5 years.

·        Shared equity scheme extended to assist first time buyers get on the property ladder. I already have a home, though I welcome any steps to assist youngsters buy a house and therefore kick start the housing market.

·        20% tax relief on childcare up to £6,000 per child from 2015. The Chap and I do not have a family.

I recognise that The Chap and I are very lucky. We both still have a job and a roof over our head, but paying our bills and trying to save is difficult (especially for me) and rising fuel costs always worry us (our gas bill arrived yesterday £700 for the quarter...gulp! We have a parliamentary enquiry going on as we speak). The budget seems to go over our heads as we are neither better or worse off.

Does anyone else out there feel that The Budget always forgets them? Our little sector that has not ever or rarely taken any benefits, or used social housing or had a yacht or a £million house. Am I alone in thinking this? Or perhaps just miserable and unfeeling of harder hit sectors of society. I don’t know, and that bothers me that I might not understand the difficulties other people face.

But what really upsets me is the level of debt the UK has. 85% of GDP. To put this into context, if you earned £20,000 it is the equivalent of having a debt of £17,000.

Mr Osbourne is planning to borrow £120bn this year. Perhaps he should start readinga thrifty blog on how to cut your cloth accordingly.

Frugally yours

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

A Shopping Trip With A Difference

I went shopping with a friend 'Ann'on Friday during my lunch hour. We rarely meet up as she lives in Kent and I live in Staffordshire. She has a little lad, so when we do meet up we do not get to mooch around a clothes shop for an hour.
Friday we made a special effort as Dorothy Perkins had such a good sale on of up to 30% off. She needed some new togs and I wanted to pick up another T-shirt.
So off we wandered to the store, we discussed various items, gave our opinion on dresses, tops and Ts and showed each other the items we rather fancied.
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience!
Nothing unusual about shopping with a friend you might think. Ah Hah! You would be wrong!
You see I was in Dorothy Perkins Wolverhampton, and Ann was in Dotty Perks London. It was such great fun, we both managed to log onto a wifi signal in the shop and then proceeded to use WhatsApp to send each other free pictures of what we were looking at and  then the other would respond with their thoughts.
I think we spent about 30-40 minutes in store and online together, I came out having purchased this T-shirt (I bought this in peach a week or so ago and loved it so much I picked it up in white too) for £8 instead of £10.
 White twist neck tee
Ann Picked up this little lot
Photo 1 of Denim tab shift dress

Photo 1 of Oat pointelle cotton cardigan
Photo 1 of White ruffle drawstring top
And finally a lace tunic that I just cannot get you a picture of
All for £85 in the sale!
We were both delighted and it was so nice to have a chat as we wandered around texting and taking pictures to send to each other. Shopping at lunchtime is a lonely business and to get a friend’s input was invaluable and a lovely way to keep in touch during the stresses and strains of the week. I don’t know about Ann, but I was giggling all the way around
Ann did admit that one of the Sales Assistants thought she was rather loopy!
A sale on at one of my favourite clothes shops, is always enough to keep me in a good mood! Quality and Price! Thanks Dotty Ps.
I think it is safe to say Ann and I have invented a new type of shopping.
Now, ummm how do we patent it?
Frugally yours

Monday, 18 March 2013

Stuck in an Expensive Mobile Phone Contract?

Recently I posted about my favourite phone apps, it got me thinking about the price of my iphone.
I took out a 2 year contract on my phone with O2 in about November 2011. For £39/month, I get 600 minutes, unlimited text messages, 20 MMS and 500MB of data.
Part of yesterday I was  messing about on my iphone. O2 provides a handy little tracker app that tells me on any day, how many free minutes I have used and current data usage etc.
I had not noticed before, but it has a little tab on the right hand side of this app that says “Chat Now”, so yesterday I tapped it and started having an online conversation with an O2 Assistant called Deepu.
So after the usual jumping through hoops to ensure you are who you say you are – password, date of birth, address, inside leg measurement etc I told Deepu that I was concerned as I thought the monthly bill was expensive and was there any way of getting it reduced even though there is 8 months left to run on my contract.
I have been with O2 since I was 22 years old, so about 15 years and have always had the same number, always renewing my contract.
As I am a “valued customer” Deepu offered to reduce my monthly bill to £27 / month until the end of my contract when I could change for a SIM only deal at c £15/month.
Did you know you could re-negotiate mid contract? Nope, neither did I.
My deal would be very similar, 500MB of data, unlimited texts and 20 MMS, but with 300 minutes instead of 600. I barely use half of my talk time at the moment anyway, so I was delighted.
It seems sitting on my bum on the sofa yesterday saved me £12 per month, nearly £100 up until my contract runs out later this year.
So that was a Sunday well spent!
Frugally yours

Friday, 15 March 2013

The Cat’s got PMS.

Hello and Welcome to my new follower Tasmanian Minimalist, thanks so much for visiting. x

I have never owned a cat before and I am not a vet, so this is just my humble opinion.

As we have not had the cats spade yet, I suspect they might be coming into their first season.
We will get them done, but as at the moment they are indoor cats then we are not worried about teenage pregnancy just yet.

Twinkle seems to have changed personality in the last few days and become much more affectionate. She miaows at me all the time and last night even came up to me and asked for food, the first time either cat has ever done that, so I did put an extra pouch down for them both.

She then came and jumped on my lap and just sat there talking to me for ages and wanting to be stroked and generally fussed. I was nudged whenever I stopped the scratching.

I know that feeling.

So I started having a conversation with my cat (Gosh, one of these days they are going to cart me off to the funny farm)

TWINKLE: “Miaow”

ME: My poor little baby, are you feeling poorly? Oh sweetie pie I am sorry. Do you feel sad? Have you got a tummyache?

TWINKLE: “Miaow!”

ME; Oh dear dear dear! What are we going to do with you hmm? I don’t mind if you want a good cry. Is someone being mean to you Twinkle? Would some chocolate help? Shall I get you a hot water bottle little one?

TWINKLE: “Miaow”

I then happened to look up, and see The Chap at the other end of the sofa watching the pair of us bemused. I explained

ME: “I think she has PMS”

He looked faintly horrified and quickly resumed killing alien super villians on the xbox.

Bet he wishes he hadn’t got 2 female cats and a girlfriend living with him now doesn’t he?

Frugally yours
P.S. Don’t start writing in, of course I did not give the cat chocolate or a hot water bottle.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Is It Ever Acceptable To Lie To Your Partner?

Yesterday, as I wandered off for my lunch hour I passed a shop closing down. It is relocating to another site, and in the last few days before shutting up for good.

I have never ventured through the doors before, as it sold ex-catalogue goods, karaoke machines, gym equipment and CD players. The sight of the gym equipment is enough to send me high tailing it to the hills squawking in abject fear. After all you do not a get body this lumpy through judicious use of gym equipment.

However, when I passed yesterday they had a table outside with lots and lots of bottles of shampoo “Girlz Only, Dawn Til Dusk” Shampoo 150ml, and were selling 10 bottles for £1.  That is 100pence for 1500ml of shampoo.

For that sort of price it was worth grabbing a bag full.

The sales assistant gave me a mixture of pink and green bottles.

Smells ok.

But, I cannot see The Chap using anything out of a bottle marked “Girlz Only”, he would prefer to squeeze his soap from a rock and then use an armadillo to scrub himself down afterwards. No exfoliators, loofers and cleansing serum for him. Think Captain Caveman.
 captain caveman photo: captain caveman captain_caveman.jpg

However, his shampoo is from Sainsbury's a basic own brand bottle that smells of apples, it is green…. Do you see where this is going yet?
Is it acceptable to empty a couple of bottles of my very cheap green shampoo into his own brand stuff?

I think it probably is. What he does not know can’t hurt him. Right?

My work colleague (lets call her Jane) has a partner (lets call him Bob) who insists she buys Nescafe Gold Blend as he says he can taste the difference to any other brand of coffee. Now Bob drinks a lot of coffee! and as Jane has to buy it all she gets fed up with the expense incurred even though she buys in quantity and when there is a supermarket deal on.
300g refill pack £8.85
What “Jane” recently revealed to me on a boozy night out is that Bob only every drinks cups of coffee that are two thirds Gold Blend, as for every jar of Gold Blend she decants into the kitchen coffee can she then adds over half a jar of cheaper brand alternative, very often a decaffeinated alternative at that.

Apparently “Jane” has been doing this for years without any comeback and she still allows Bob to state he only ever drinks Gold Blend.

I was really laughing when she told me.

Is it right? I don’t think so. Am I going to decant my girlz shampoo anyway?

What do you think?

Frugally yours

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Fluffy Bunnies, Jam Making & Kittens

If you are a bloke (especially The Chap), then you probably do not want to read this post. It will be very boring and about erm…. fluffy bunny rabbits, and jam making and I will probably finish off with some pictures of kittens and maybe babies in plant pots and watering cans.

So why not go off and play with your xbox or a power tool? It is okay, I don’t mind.

Right, have they gone?

Oh My God!
I found a grey colourless hair the other night and have been too traumatised to speak of it for a few days.

Finding a grey colourless hair, is not that unusual I suppose. I am turning 37 in 44 days. Work is so pants I could open my own Knickerbox outlet and I did move house recently. All apparently stressful events that would result in the odd grey colourless hair.

I have, in fact, been finding the odd grey colourless hair for a few years now.

So why has this particular grey colourless hair sent me into a tailspin of epic proportions? What bothers me is WHERE I found it.

Mother Nature or Father Time, I am not sure which of you is responsible for this particular humiliation, but it is just NOT ON!
Silly Witch!
And, why wasn’t I warned? Is there a code of silence like discussing Father Christmas in a public place? I mean I was prepared for my boobs going from pert to a pair of your dad’s old socks with a tangerine at the end, I even had my back go once. I am never going to be showing off a concave stomach with an artfully placed navel adornment. But this! This is where I draw a line, there was no warning what so ever. One day everything was ok, maybe in need off a bit of attention, but basically all fine. Then Bang! the next day there it is shooting up Loud and Proud like it like a beacon to Tena Lady.

As someone who can truthfully state I have never inspected another person’s “lady garden” I had absolutely no idea this could happen.

My sister told me once she had my nephew she was completely surprised by the exclusive club she joined behind the baby changing doors. She has a good friend she made whilst breast feeding together in John Lewis’.

Is this a similar thing? Do I now get invited to go to a Woman’s Institute meeting or join a luncheon club? If not can I start one?
“Abigail’s Grey Colourless M^ff Meeting”
We could drink Bacardi Breezers and prank call the youth club.

Oh God, I feel sick and do you know the worst of it? The blooming, wail inducing and buttock clenching worst part?

I don't know what to do. I cannot see myself taking a discreet trip to Boots The Chemist, and there is certainly not an aisle to deal with my particular situation “Just For Lady Parts”. Plus removing the offending item would require a 20x magnifying glass, an angle poise lamp and very probably undertaking such positions that I not done since my school gym classes. I would also need my glasses… sigh.

I suppose I could remove everything, but I have done that before and quite frankly found my work colleagues were a bit disconcerted to see me at my desk scratching every few minutes. Mmmmm, No, definitely not an option.

I cannot help but worry too, is this the start of something new? What if it is counting down? Perhaps next week, there will be 2, then the week after 4….. Of course if that is the case, what is it counting down to?

Of course after finding the bloody thing, I was sitting on the bed wrapped in a towel contemplating a future of coach trip to the gardens of Kent, or perhaps having to take a crash course in Bingo when The Chap wandered in the bedroom.

TC “What’s the matter?”

Me “Nothing”

TC “Ok”

And off he toddled back down to watch Storage Hunters or maybe another program about a car being reconditioned.

I can share anything with The Chap, he knows about The Debt (now gone), about my work and how much I loathe Polystyrene.   He knows I like to bet on the Grand National, am obsessed with vouchers and like to suck the chocolate off Maltesers before I eat them.

However, there are some things he most definitely does not need to know. I believe this qualifies as #1.

Frugally and Rather Desperately Yours