Monthly Archives: April 2009

Day 35: April round-up

Compared to last month I seem to have got LOADS done so the challenge-a-day seems to really be working. Rather than getting myself stressed with too many lists it has been really easy to find time for just one thing to do. Here’s what I’ve done:


  • finished the living room
  • started the landing
  • finished the kitchen
  • made a feeble start on the car
  • organised DVDs and threw out cases to create more space
  • clearing out old nail varnishes
  • finished the main bedroom

Financial management

  • just about stayed in budget for general spending fund and food fund
  • saved £500
  • cancelled contact lenses, saving £18 per month after last payment in June
  • phoned in gas and electric meter readings

Making the most of what I already have:

  • cross stitch
  • removing used pages from notepads and creating a ‘fresh’ stack of stationery supplies
  • put together a home spa pack from what I already have
  • put together a manicure set
  • polished all of my shoes and boots
  • collected together candles, fairy lights etc and created a party pack
  • sewed a bead back on a top
  • mended two strings of beads
  • sorted through all make-up

Doing things for free:

  • went for a picnic
  • two nights out for free in return for playing in band
  • created more free time by reorganising how and when I complete dull chores and errands
  • going to the library
  • reading books I already own
  • playing/practicing bass
  • taking photographs
  • blogging!
  • going for lots of walks


  • making lots and lots of meals for the freezer (saving money by cooking in batches)
  • booked a UK holiday instead of going abroad
  • booked a week off at home
  • made a complete plan of home improvements to be carried out
  • started planning bedroom scheme

Nifty Thrity

  • using £5 Boots voucher to get my usual toner for less than £3
  • finding out about seasonal foods (which, in theory, should be cheaper)
  • planning meals to eliminate waste

Gift box

  • stocked up on wrapping paper
  • I’ve actually lost count of how many things I’ve bought for the box during April!


No spending

From the challenge-a-day list:

  • Financial management: Pay day! Yippee! Put together a budget for the month.
Categories: Getting organised, Goals | 4 Comments

Day 34: Freshly Manicured


Following last nights Shoestring Spa I decided to organise my manicure things. Until Christmas I had worn nail varnish every day for about 10 years but had had problems with spiltting nails for a long, long time. It turns out my nails aren’t too keen on being permanently covered in nail varnish because they are in great condition now. I’ve got used to not wearing nail varnish. I wouldn’t say I’ve sworn off it forever but you don’t realise how high maintenance it is until you stop using it. That said, I don’t want scruffy nails either…

This evening I put all of my nail varnishes in one make-up bag for future use and put it away in a drawer in the bedroom as I won’t be using them that often. I then collected together all of my other things in another make-up bag which I’ll keep in the living room for easy access. My newly put together ‘kit’ includes orange sticks, nail files, a nail buffer, nourishing oil, nail clippers, cuticle remover, cuticle cream, a whitening pencil and hand cream. Hence this evening I will be having another pamering session that involves no spending at all!


Cake for the office £3.49 – from general spending fund

From the challenge-a-day list:

  • Making use of what I already have: putting together a manicure kit to keep my nail healthy and neat
Categories: Budget beauty, Decluttering | 5 Comments

Day 33: Shoestring Spa

I was just too relaxed to post last night! When I decluttered my bathroom a few weeks back I came across a variety of products that I really like but hardly ever use, including a gorgeous clay mask, my favourite body scrub, a couple of sachets of intensive hair conditioner and so on. Last night I had another look through these things that don’t quite fall into the ‘every day’ category of bathroom products. Since I seem to have an excess of washbags I decided to put together my own home spa pack for when I want/need to take a bit better care of myself.


The above photo doesn’t show the half of it! Does anyone else find that they buy things (or used to) to treat themselves but never get around to using it after the first go? Anyway, it seems mad to have all of this lovely stuff at my disposal and never make full use of it – or make the time for myself. So I used up the last bit of my last scented candle and I scrubbed, I exfoliated, I face-packed, I moisturized – the works. Today I am tiny-pored and gleaming. And I didn’t spend a penny!


No spending (again!)

From the challenge-a-day list:

  • Making the most of what I already have: putting together (and using!) and home spa pack
Categories: Budget beauty, Decluttering, Make do | 5 Comments

Day 32: Keeping it simple

Will it ever be pay day? I just hate five week months. I am beginning to run out of things but I refuse to use my overdraft or take money back out of savings…

I’m still trying to decide on a colour scheme for our bedroom. We have a lot of things (bedding, cushions etc) in dusky purples and lavenders but I’m really bored with it all. However I know it makes sense to use what we’ve got rather than starting from scratch. After scouring the internet AGAIN and finding nothing that really appeals I’ve decided just paint the walls an off-white. Our curtains, carpet and lampshades are all in neutrals anyway. What we really need is a bold print over the mantlepiece which would bring it all together. When we have out week off in June I think we are going to brave the drive to IKEA and see what they’ve got. I just can’t find anything anywhere else that I like. So the foundation of the bedroom will be neutral and any colour and pattern will have to come from accessories. I can’t spend any more time looking at prints and wallpaper – it is driving me mad! Thought I suppose I’ve got no excuse not to start painting now…


Nothing spent

From the challenge-a-day list:

  • Planning: making some decisions on how to go forward with redecoration
Categories: Getting organised | 3 Comments

Day 31: DVD sorting

Had people over today so not a lot of time to spare. However, I did manage to finish sorting out our massive collection of DVDs. I’ve thrown away most of the cases and just put the discs into a disc carrier – it holds 100 discs so it has saved a lot of room! I’ve only kept the cases for special editions and our real favourites. I kept a few cases and labelled them with our names to use when we lend DVDs to friends (a suprising amount never find their way back to us. It goes both ways – I have mysterious books and DVDs here and I have no idea who they belong to). Haven’t decided what to do with the old videos though…


Spent nothing

From the challenge-a-day list:

  • Decluttering: made loads of extra room by sorting thorugh the DVD collection
Categories: Decluttering | 2 Comments

Day 30: Food for thought

Meant to post last night but somehow got distracted! I got some foody books from the library yesterday, on the hunt for new ideas. The trouble is, I just don’t know what I want to eat at the moment. If you said I could have anything I wanted in the world I wouldn’t know what my answer would be. Maybe nectarines? Except they aren’t in the shops yet. I think I’m ready for summer food ahead of time! One of the books I got is 100 Health-Boosting Foods which is full of pictures of berries and fruit and salads that all look gorgeous but are only available at crazy prices at the moment. But this is the sort of thing that appeals most. The problem with all of this is that it seems a more expensive way of eating. I’m considering increasing my monthly food budget. For the past couple of months the only fruit I’ve been eating have been apples and bananas with the occasional pear or orange thrown in. I’d love melon or grapes or strawberries but they would tip me over my budget. And yet I know I ‘should’ be eating a better variety of fruit and veg for maximum health benefits. It feels a bit like health v finances.

This winter we’ve done really well out of different casseroles and so on. Because I’ve been making them up in batches and freezing them within a day of purchase there hasn’t been any waste and nothing has the time to go off before it is eaten. This has meant that I only have to shop once a week. If I went down the salad route, most of it wouldn’t last a week (and I obviously can’t freeze it!) so I’d have to shop more often (and I hate food shopping. I also hate putting petrol in the car. And ironing. I was not born to be a domestic goddess of any kind). I’ve also borrowed a couple of other books, which I hope to get some inspiration from. Aside from the naughty biscuity/cakey snacks (which I certainly don’t have every day) I eat relatively healthily and never eat any ready meals. But I’d like to make more of an effort to get a better balance between protein, veg and so on. Not to lose weight but because I know it would be better for me and, as I get older, my palate seems to lean towards healthier foods anyway.

It was nice to have a break from cooking yesterday morning. I got up early and went for a walk over the cliffs to the next town and sat high up watching miniature people pottering about on boats, walking their dogs and enjoying the early morning sunshine. I don’t know where this sudden desire for walking has come from – or how long it will last!



Small pot of vitamins £1.99 – from general spending fund

From the challenge-a-day list:

  • Doing things for free: trip to the library and going for a walk
  • Planning: new meal ideas
  • Financial planning: Moved £50 into my savings account taking me to £1000 saved since the beginning of March
Categories: Frugal food | Leave a comment

Day 29: Decluttering and gluttony


The weekly shop came in a little over budget today – £24.56. I bought some treats this week including blueberries. I’ve had a real craving for them for a few weeks but they are always so expensive. I decided to treat myself as I am feeling particularly unhealthy today. I went to a Big Breakfast being held for cancer research. It was £5 per head for a full English (toast and marmalade, tea, orange juice, fried egg, bacon, sausage, fried bread, tomato and mushrooms – delicious but I nearly fell asleep at my desk when I got to work) and I also bought two raffle tickets. I then ate an entire packet of bourbon biscuits in the afternoon. No wonder I am feeling so odd now!

I’ve done the weekly clean too and finally tackled one of my greatest fears – the sofa. Not only is our living room pretty small but it is an odd shape. Our sofa is one of those corner unit things and it is pretty difficult to shift it out of position to clean underneath it. Hence I don’t do it very often, generally settling for trying to shove the vacuum cleaner as far underneath as I can wedge it. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. I found a magazine from last October, a variety of biros, an empty crisp packet, some board games, scraps of paper, some framed pictures, unidentifiable bits of plastic, a spoon and the bathroom scales (don’t ask). Oh – and a lot of dust. The board games don’t really have any where else to live (neither do the framed pictures or scales) so I wiped them over and slid them back neatly into place after giving the floor a good clean. I also vacuumed under the cushions, finding a lollipop wrapper and 11p for the change jar along the way. Once I finished I realised that the living room is pretty much decluttered now. I’ve done the sideboard and the chest of drawers and the various shelves and surfaces over the past few weeks. I can’t do anymore until we’ve cleared the cupboards under the stairs and done other work on the house so things can be moved around.

I’m having the day off from kitchen duties tomorrow. I am now officially bored with casseroles and the like. I just don’t know what I want to eat at the moment and am out of inspiration. I’ve decided to use my usual ‘slot’ for Saturday cooking to get out my recipe books and go online to figure out some new ideas. Might find time to make some flapjacks though!


Breakfast and raffle tickets£7 from general spending fund

Bourbon biscuits50p from general spending fund

Weekly food shop£24.56 from food fund

From the challenge-a-day list:

  • Decluttering: The living room is finished
Categories: Decluttering | Leave a comment

Day 28: Aches, pains and spam

Another slow day on the shoestring front I’m afraid. I had great intentions for what to get done before going to work this morning. Alas, I was woken at 3.50am with awful tooth ache. I eventually got up, took some painkillers and went to sleep some time later. Hence I wasn’t feeling madly energetic when I actually had to get out of bed. I’ve also twisted my knee somehow. It doesn’t really hurt to walk on it but bending it to sit down or go upstairs is quite painful. I’m hoping this isn’t going to be one of those spates that come in threes!


Anyway, a few weeks back I was very excited to find the above book with the tantalising title How To Survive Without A Salary. It’s all about the Conserver lifestyle. Much of the book is about evaluating what you spend, what you really need and what you can get for free but on a much more hardcore level than anything I’ve read before. Charles Long shares lots of funny stories about the learning curves experienced by him, his wife and his children. I particularly liked his sense of humour over his winter coat. A friend of his was sorting through things for the rag bag when he spotted a high quality camel coat that was in great condition but out of date. His friend happily let him take it. Charles has worn the coat (and looked after it well) every winter for years and years and years. Apparently it comes back in to fashion every seven years or so, during which period many people compliment him on his coat and eye it with envy. The rest of the time he notices glances of pity that he is wearing such an unfashionable coat which amuses him. One of things I liked best about this book is that he says, very early on, that he realises most readers have no intention of giving up the security of their salaried jobs but want to find ways of making the most out of what they earn and leading a less consumer driven lifestyle. It’s another inspiring read. I might even buy my own copy sometime. You’ve got to like this man – he congratulates you if you have come across his book in the library rather than the book shop!

One last thing. For the first time ever I looked at the contents of my Spam file and it looks like genuine comments are being classed as spam. Is this just spam being clever or can real comments get accidentally stuck in spam? I’d be grateful to hear from any bloggers in the know!


No spending today

From the challenge-a-day list:

  • Doing things for free: cross-stitch and a 2 mile walk
  • Planning: looking at wallpaper and interiors websites, trying to decide what colour to paint our bedroom!
Categories: Book love | 3 Comments

Day 27: Party pack


I decided to start tackling a funny little corner on our landing today. We have a small table that serves as a general dumping ground for all of the things we don’t really know what else to do with. It has been home to hats, scarves and gloves for most of the winter. Since the weather seems to be behaving itself I decided to pack them all away. I also cleared away a few sneaky bits of paperwork and a random collection of things from car shampoo and anti-freeze to hairbands and my little-used apron! It isn’t finished – I still don’t know where to put the tool box and so on but at least I’ve made a start.

I also had a peek in the cupboard under the stairs (this will probably be decluttered last as I am afraid, very afraid) but found an interesting collection of things. These included a large and half full bag of tea lights, some party poppers, two strings of fairy lights, some gold candles and a pack of pretty napkins. I’ve put all of these together in a bag that came free with a magazine a few years ago and this is now, officially, our party bag which should really come in handy next time we have a get-together!


No spending again – do I get a prize?

From the challenge-a-day list:

  • Decluttering: making a start on the landing dumping ground
  • Making use of what I already have: putting together a party pack 🙂
  • Doing things for free: practicing bass
Categories: Decluttering | Leave a comment

Day 26: A few of my favourite things…

I’m still doing well with getting up early and doing a bit of housework. Today I actually managed to read for half an hour over breakfast before getting going as well – fantastic! I spent most of my lunch break working on the bookmark for Gran’s birthday (after moving £100 into my savings account!). The bookmark is going quite well and should be finished in plenty of time if I keep going at this rate. I did something I never usually do when I got home from work which was go for a walk.


I have a great one mile circuit right on my doorstep taking me past funny little houses, sea views, country lanes, fields and trees. It was gorgeous out there in the evening sunshine with rabbits playing, trees covered in blossom and clumps of fragrant, freshly mown grass creeping on to the pavement from lawns and verges.

Now I’m home a friend has come over for a jamming session so I’d better get on with it!


No spending for Shoestring today 🙂

From the challenge-a-day list:

  • Financial management: Put £100 in savings
  • Doing things for free: Cross-stitch, going for a walk, reading an old favourite and playing music!
Categories: Shoestring Fun | 2 Comments

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