Monthly Archives: June 2009

Day 95: Shoestring makeover

Since it is the last day of the month I’ve been thinking about my goals for July. Obviously I’ll be carrying on with my saving mission and trying to find ways to make the most of what I earn and what I’ve already got. However, I also want to pay a bit more attention to my health and appearance. Although I’ve managed to cut my spending to around £20 a week I haven’t been using that £20 very well. I have been getting worse and worse at buying snack food. The result? I’ve put on weight. Nothing drastic. I think it is around half a stone (7 pounds) and I want to get rid of it. This isn’t really unusual for me. Like most women, my weight tends to go up and down. A lot of friends look at me as though I am mad if I mention losing a few pounds because I am still quite slim. The thing is, I have put on half a stone a lot of times. The crucial factor is the fact that I have always made the effort to lose it again. I’d estimate that over the last ten years I’ve put on (and then lost) half a stone about twice a year. If I hadn’t made the effort to lose it again (and it always takes effort – it never magically vanishes) I would have put on 1 stone a year so over ten years that would be ten stone/140 pounds! For me at least, it is much better to not let weight gain get out of control. It isn’t that hard to shift 7 pounds but it takes real willpower and dedication to lose more than a stone. I am always wildly impressed and in awe of people that manage it. So I’m planning a bit of weight loss for July – shoestring style of course.

It isn’t just my weight that has suffered from eating badly. My skin is awful. Is there anything more insulting than having to use a layer of foundation to cover up both fine lines and spots?! I always thought that the one comfort about being old enough to start developing the odd fine line here and there would be that at least you wouldn’t get spots. Ha! No such luck. My skin has been perplexing me for the past week or so when I realised – doh- that crappy food combined with not enough water or fresh air = crappy skin. ‘Mystery’ solved I am taking action. I am going to make a real effort not just to eat better, take more exercise and drink more water but to use all of my lovely skin care products (I’ve mentioned before that I have stacks to use up) to improve my skin.

Actually,  my general goal for July is going to be taking better care of myself and my appearance – on a shoestring budget. I’ll keep you updated with my progress. Since I’m on the subject of weight-loss I feel I should point out that I have tried just about every diet going. Some have worked – some have not. I’m not going to be doing anything fancy or anything too restrictive and I’ll be making a point of working in a few well placed treats so I don’t fall off the wagon! Here is my plan:


  • Drink 8 glasses of water a day minimum (I am currently drinking only tea and coffee!)
  • No more than one mug of coffee a day (this is more for my skin than for my weight)
  • 1 mug of green tea a day (I don’t particularly like the taste but it is good for you)


  • Eat breakfast every day: either bran flakes, sultanas and semi-skimmed milk or fruit and yoghurt
  • Create a sensible meal plan each week and stick to it
  • Packed lunches: I am going to make more of an effort to have interesting lunches so I am less tempted to buy extras
  •  Have fresh food snacks at hand for the evenings
  • NO trips to the shop for non-fruit snacks on my lunch break


  • Try to take some form of exercise at least 5 days a week
  • I already have 2 exercise DVDs that I can use which won’t cost me anything
  • I have found a pair of comfy shoes so I will be trying to get out for an evening walk wherever possible


  • I need to get my hair trimmed – it is beginning to look a bit messy
  • To spend more time on my skin care routine until it clears up
  • Throw away more make-up – perhaps using up old make-up isn’t the best idea for my skin!

Other than buying crap every day I’m not really restricting myself. I find being told that I must cut out cake/butter/nuts/meat/cheese/whatever just makes me miserable and can’t be sustained beyond a fortnight. My willpower just isn’t that good! I’ll weigh myself in the morning and work out exactly how much I want to lose. My goal isn’t necessarily to lose it all in July. I’d be happy with losing 1 pound a week. Tomorrow will be day 1….

From the challenge-a-day list:

  • Nifty-thrifty: devising a sensible diet/health/exercise plan that won’t cost me anything!
Categories: Ramblings | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Day 94: Music, money and more painting

Managed to do a little bit more painting this evening – just going around the room finishing the very tops of the walls where they meet the ceiling. I’ve washed the brush out so I can do the last little bits of the ceiling maybe tomorrow. I figure if I keep doing a little bit every day it will be finished eventually!

My big monthly shop went quite well on Friday – my lowest yet this year at just under £55. Admittedly I had a clubcard voucher for £7.50 but I used that to get some treats (primarily a tub of Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked ice cream…it was good). Pay-wise it’s another wretched 5 week month. I keep trying not to think how much extra I would have been able to save if I didn’t have to make it stretch to another weeks worth of food, petrol and spending money.

On the subject of budgets, I’m trying out managing my money differently this month. I find that if I do the same thing the same way for very long I become complacent or it somehow just doesn’t work as well. So this month I am not taking all of my food and spending money out in cash – I’m using my debit card. I think I will still take cash out for some of my spending money but only here and there and not all in one go. I’m still budgeting £20 a week spending money. I have allocated £175 for food shopping and so I have £120 left to last the remaining four food shops. As the large monthly shop came in so low I have (what feels like a massive) £30 a week. Brilliant! In terms of my spending money I shall be interested to see if I spend less. In addition to my weekly spending budget I’ve treated myself to two CDs this month. This is the first music I have bought this year. I am really looking forward to that Amazon parcel arriving!

From the challenge-a-day list:

  • Home Improvements: a bit more painting
  • Financial management: making a change to the way I spend to keep me focused
Categories: home improvements, Money Management | 2 Comments

Days 92 & 93: A spot of DIY

I finally did it – I painted our bedroom! It took up most of yesterday. We have annoying bobbly wallpaper so I had to do it with a paintbrush ratehr than a roller to get a decent coat on. I still have to go around a few corners and do all of the woodwork but the main part is over. The colour is not what I was expecting but I like it. It is a sort of beige-grey which sounds hideous, I know. I’ll post a photo when I’m done.

While I was painting Husband started tackling the hallway cupboard. It’s going to take several sessions but he’s made a good start. We loaded the car up and took another trip to the dump this morning. It amazed me that we can throw so much stuff away and still have no extra space. Mysterious…

Haven’t spent any money at all this weekend. Husband cooked salmon, roast potatoes and salad for dinner last night and I was painting until quite late. Then, like a fool, I stayed up reading and then decided to learn to play the piano via the medium of youtube (quite good actually) so I didn’t get to bed until 3am. Unsurprisingly I woke up feeling tired and stiff. Today we took bagels and eggs (which I bought in the week) to a friend’s house and had a lovely brunchy-lunch. The only thing I need now is a long hot bath!

From the challenge-a-day list:

  • Home Improvements: painting the bedroom walls and ceiling
  • Decluttering: hallway cupboard
Categories: Decluttering | 1 Comment

Day 91: These [shoes] were made for walking

Took another massive bag of stuff to the charity shop again today. This time it was mostly books. About 20 of them! The lady in the shop was really pleased. Obviously I’ll be going back. I’ve already re-filled my giant beach bag, which I am using for these trips, with more books – mostly large reference type books that I never look at.

This evening I’ve had a little look through my wardrobe again to see if there is anything else I can get rid of. I managed to find a jacket that I quite like but haven’t worn for a couple of years, a shirt and two work tops. I like the tops well enough but I only wear them a few times a year. Going through my clothes is interesting. Sometimes I find things I haven’t worn for ages and it is a great reminder of things I really like and can get more wear out of – a bit like having new clothes. Other times, like today, I find things that I hardly ever wear. I can’t quite put my finger on why I persistently skip over them when I’m deciding what to wear but I always do. So they might as well go and make a bit more space. I have a very, very small wardrobe and everything gets crushed so more space is always a good thing!

I also found a pair of shoes shoved at the back, covered in dust and spider webs. I’ve nearly thrown these shoes away a million times but have never quite managed it. They are not particularly attractive shoes. They are flat, black leather shoes which are fine I suppose but I always feel they are a bit frumpy. However, the reason I keep hanging on to them is because they feel like heaven on my feet. I’ve mentioned before the strange phenomenon of me and shoes – most styles won’t stay on. I’m really pleased that these shoes have survived my various clear-outs. I keep meaning to go out for a walk but I really couldn’t find a comfortable pair of shoes suitable for warm/hot weather. I’ve given them a good clean and am wearing them right now. It is like walking on clouds.

From the challenge-a-day list:

  • Decluttering: taking another bag of stuff to the chairty shop and starting another bag off to take next week
  • Making use of what I already have: rediscovering and cleaning up a pair of comfy shoes for walking and mooching around
Categories: Decluttering | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Day 90: Birthdays and books

Lugged a huge bag of stuff for the chairty shop to work this morning. My colleagues had a pick through the bag and took 3 items of clothing and 2 books so thankfully the load was a little lighter by the time I had to carry it into town! They had a sign in the window asking for paperbacks so I am going back tomorrow if I get time to sort out some books in the morning. While I was there I also picked up 5 novels for a total of £5. Now I know I’m supposed to be decluttering but these are 5 books that I really wanted by authors I really like. And all for £5! Most new paperback novels cost that each.

Decided to try and get a bit organised when I got home so I had a look in my diary and realised that I have quite a few birthday coming up in the next fortnight. 3 birthdays only require cards so I went through my big box of greetings cards, chose one for each person and sat down and wrote them. I then wrapped gifts (stored in the gift box) and wrote a card for another birthday. It was great to have 4 people’s birthday taken care of without having to run to the shops or take out my wallet!

From the challenge-a-day list:

  • Decluttering: another large bag of clothes and books taken to the charity shop
  • Gift box: using things I’ve bought in advance for 4 birthdays
Categories: Decluttering | 3 Comments

Days 88 & 89: Bumbling

Coming back from a holiday is an odd thing. On one hand it kind of gives you an altered perspective – a short lived burst of objectivity about everything. On the other hand it can be incredibly difficult to get back to normal and get on with things. At the moment I seem to be stuck! I haven’t managed to get much done and yet I can’t quite relax. It is as though I have an important ‘to do’ list that I’ve mislaid. Hmmm….

From the challenge-a-day list:

  • Home Improvements: finally made decisions about colour charts for our two bedrooms – painting to commence shortly!
  • Financial management: checking all of our accounts after leaving them unattended for over a week and doing an outline plan for July
Categories: Ramblings | Leave a comment

Day 87: The swing of things

Spent the day trying to get back into the swing of things. Completely confused by having one week off work – what am I supposed to do again? A colleague offered me a rummage in a bag prepared for the charity shop and I managed to find a lovely, virtually unworn top that fits – I love a freebie! At lunch time I went and bought milk and some fruit. We’ll be mostly living on food from the freezer this week (chicken curry tonight – yum).

Back at home I decided I had to tackle the tower of post. I’d been ignoring it for a week or so before we left and, of course, more arrived while we were away. It turned out I only had to file a few things – the rest was junk mail, envelopes and leaflets. Very dull but at least it is done. I need to start making a few plans about what else I need to get done but I’m going to take a few days just to try and get back into my routine…

From the challenge-a-day list:

  • Nifty thrity: my ‘new’ top
  • Planning/Decluttering: tackling the post pile
Categories: Ramblings | Leave a comment

Day 86: Sleep deprivation

Didn’t manage to get any sleep on the flight alas. Landed back in the UK at 4am and collapsed into bed just before 7am. Dragged ourselves out of bed at 11am and looked at our holiday photos. Husband went to the shop, came back with provisions and made us a lunch of chicken salad sandwiches followed by strawberries and cream. I made a half hearted attempt at unpacking but gave up – I’ll have to get it sorted later as I seem to have managed to make the whole house look like a bombsite. I went to transfer my things (wallet, make-up bag etc) back into my work handbag but realised that it is so large that I end up carrying around far too much unnecessary crap. Had a root around in the cupboard and found a different one that I have hardly used so is as good as new. I carefully went through everything and decided what I really need with me. Not a lot, it turns out! I am now so tired I feel slightly dizzy. I think I’m going to have a nice long bath and then tackle the last of the unpacking before I fall over…

From the challenge-a-day list:

  • Making use of what I already have: a ‘new’ bag for work!
Categories: Make do | 2 Comments

Day 85: Last day lazing

Spent the last day mostly, er, sleeping to be honest! I had run out of books to read but there was a bookcase in the hallway where people had left books behind which you could borrow – very handy. We had to be out of the apartment at 6pm but didn’t get picked up to go to the airport until nearly 1am. This meant we spent a lot of time wandering around on the beach, eating and rinking coffee. We found a cat and her kittens sleeping in the shade of the rocks…


From the challenge-a-day list:

  • Doing things for free: Reading, swimming and…sleeping!
Categories: Shoestring Fun | 1 Comment

Day 84: Lost in the hills

We decided to hire a car for the day to see a bit more of the island (it is actually very small so we got to see a lot of it) and went back to the same hire company who gave us a discount for coming back! We went in search of the last working traditional mill on the island but got lost in the mountains again. Since we quite like getting lost (we always end up somewhere interesting!) we just carried on driving, taking random turnings to see where we ended up.


We discovered an amazing beach in the middle of nowhere with picture perfect white sand dunes which my camera just can’t do justice to. We spend a long time ambling around and scrabbling over rocks. We each picked two favourite pebbles from the beach and set back off in the car to find the mill…


…and the decided to go back to Zia for the views in the evening…


From the challenge-a-day list:

  • Nifty thrity: getting a discount on the car hire and free pebble souveniers
Categories: Shoestring Fun | Leave a comment

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