Monthly Archives: April 2011

Day 2: shirts and shoes

After sorting through my shoes yesterday I decided I’d better give the remaining pairs a good polish. I keep all of our shoes polishing equipment in a pretty IKEA storage box so I always know where to find it! I can’t remember the last time I polished a pair of shoes having lived in casual shoes and boots for the last year. I don’t even know if I can still walk in heels (it’s like riding a bike, right?). Anyhow, nearly all of them have cleaned up as good as new (just one pair look a bit on the ropey side but they’ll have to do a bit longer).

I’ve mentioned before I have massive problems trying to find shoes that will stay on my feet (there has to be an ankle strap or I’m doomed). My supply of summer shoes is seriously pathetic – I’m not going to get away without buying a pair. I’ve been eyeing up a couple of flat strappy sandals on the Next website. I’ve ordered a few pairs so I can try them on (and send the rest back!) and am hoping that there will be a pair that will be okay for both work and home.

I’ve also started rummaging through my old work clothes. I must have binned a load last year because there wasn’t as much as I had remembered. Even so, I managed to fill another bag to go to the charity shop. Some of those shirts and tops were seven years old. No-one can say I don’t get good wear out of clothes! In a sense, the fewer items the better. I don’t like dithering about in the morning, trying to decide what to wear for work. The only thing I seem to really be lacking is a smart ‘work’ cardigan to go over short sleeved shirts and tops. I’m sure I used to have at least one but there you go. All of the clothes smelt really musty so I put the first load on this morning.

So that’s two things done for today – shoe polishing and clothes sorting/washing!

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Categories: Make do | Leave a comment

Day 1 of the 17 day challenge

Why 17 days? Because that will take me up to the day before the long Bank Holiday weekend, after which I will be – gulp – going back to work. There’s a lot of stuff I need to get done before I head back, some of which is quite hard to define but here’s an overview of what I’m going to be tackling:

  • House: I doubt very much the house will be ready to go on the market as early as planned. Boo. Even so, I’m going to get as much done as I can. I also need a bit of a sort out so things can run smoothly when I have even less time than I do now!
  • Clothes: I need to get suited, booted and work-ready. I had originally planned to pick up a few bits and pieces but funds are a bit tight so I need to sort through my old stuff and see what I can cobble together. I also needed to sort out my nails (fingers and toes) and my eyebrows. The beast of Bodmin look will have to go.
  • Routine: I think this will have to develop a bit more slowly but I’m going to have to adapt the way I’m doing things now. I’d like to still be able to give Baby her breakfast before I go to work so everyhting is going to have to happen a bit earlier and in a different order.
  • Finances: From next month I will have a regular income again. I won’t know what my take home pay will be until the middle of next month but I need to get everything in order and can finalise plans and budgets then.
  • Other stuff: There are other things that need to be done that don’t have a category of their own – a few presents that need to be bought, the car needs to be fixed, I need to speak to the plumber etc. They need to get sorted before I get back to work.
  • Diet: I want to shift as many of the last few pounds as I can. I went a little, er, off track during the last week (I blame Husband being at home. He buys treats).

I’m going to try to do at least one thing a day towards the above. And here’s my ‘thing’ for the day:

Since the majority of the painting has been done in the bathroom I have finally been able to put up the new shower curtain (excuse the crap photo – I’m having to use my camera phone these days). I’ve also started sorting through my collection of work shoes and have thrown three really tatty pairs away. Not a bad start! I’ll try and post every day for the whole 17 days so I’ll be back tomorrow…

Categories: Getting organised, Home Economics | 2 Comments

Sunshine, DIY and lurgies

Husband has had a few days off which has been great as it has felt like a little holiday for me too (which is particularly nice as I’m going back to work in a few weeks time). We’ve managed a sneaky trip to the ‘big’ shops where we got Baby a couple of sun hats and a pair of sunglasses (using a Boots half price voucher) as well as some other bits and bobs. I also managed to bag a few skincare bargains but I’ll post about that soon.

Yesterday we actually – finally – got around to doing a bit of DIY. Mum and Dad looked after Baby while Husband painted the hallway and I painted the bathroom. I didn’t have a small enough brush to get in a few corners but finishing up will only take five minutes once we get a brush. Good to have a couple of things crossed off the list! Today the lure of the beautiful weather was too strong (as was the holidayish feeling) so we decided to have a proper day ‘out’ and went to the Aquarium in Plymouth. It is a lot further away than we would usually go for a day out but it was so good to have a change of scenery. I was also very impressed that, if I understood correctly, for the price of todays admission we can go back for free anytime we like over the next 12 months (as many times as we like) for free! We’ll definitely be going back as Baby LOVED it.

Hence I’ve been a bit quiet – it’s been a busy few days! I’ve also got another cold coming. We’ve been plagued by them for the last couple of months. Everytime we go to any of the playgroups we come back with a cold. So we stay at home until it has gone (so we don’t spread it around) and then back we go and get another one. Vicks First Defence has been doing a great job for me but sadly Baby can’t have it and has to tough it out each time with just a bit of Calpol. She has only just got rid of a really awful cough so I really hope the sneezes this morning were unrelated to the sore throat I’ve now got (I know, sounds like wishful thinking). I know you can’t sit indoors all day but I do wish people wouldn’t keep bringing their ill babies to these groups and letting them stuff all of the toys in their mouths while clearly drowning in snot. Is this completely unrealistic? I have literally never had so many colds in my life. Ever. I’m not going to stop going to our favourite groups because I think it is really important for Baby to hang out with babies/toddlers of her own age and get to do different things. Plus she obviously loves it – particularly if there is singing and maybe a shaker involved. So I guess we’ll just have a to get on with it and stock up on tissues!

Categories: Ramblings | Leave a comment

Is it getting harder to eat frugally?

I’d be inclined to say yes. I saw a programme on TV last week that said that many of us are earning less (pay/hour cuts, no pay increases in spite of inflation etc) while the price of food has gone up. No surprises there then. And the trend, sometimes verging on pressure, towards organic/ free range / high quality food continues to increase. Add it all together and I, for one, feel that it isn’t as easy to stick to a frugal food budget as it was a couple of years ago.

I always feel a bit guilty about not shopping in the butchers more often. I know I should. I just can’t get out of the mindset of doing my shopping all in one go at the supermarket. Also, I can never really work out if it is cheaper or not (I must train myself to be able to understand how much things cost by looking at the cost/weight in the butchers counter. I hate being unsure about how much to ask for and how much it will come to). My Mum finds that, largely, our local butcher is cheaper (or at least comparable) on most things. However, even she said that she had to buy chicken at the supermarket today because a single chicken breast at the butchers cost £3. £3! I bought a pack of three from Co-op for £3.75 earlier. I genuinely feel bad for not supporting local businesses but we really don’t have much income right now. That said, my local greengrocer had an offer on avocados last week – 28p each or 3 for £1. Amazing considering that I saw single ones being sold for 99p in Tesco just this morning.

Here’s another thing. Co-op (not generally known for being the cheapest of the supermarkets) often has an offer where you can get 3 packets of sauce (cheese, white, onion etc) for £1. The other week I was making my own cheese sauce and realised I had used nearly half a block of cheese to get the sauce, well, ‘cheesy’ enough. This was 75p just on the cheese alone – to work out the full cost of the sauce I’d have to factor in the butter, flour and milk (though the packet sauce would also have required milk to be added). The price difference might only be pence but if you look at it as a percentage, the difference is huge. And while it is ‘only’ pence, the truly thrifty know that this is what can really swing your fiances either way.

It is all very well to say that you should spend on food or that savings should be made elsewhere. But what if you really can’t spend much? What if there aren’t really any other funds you can eek a few pounds out of? There’s a big difference between being budget conscious (while having a good enough income to have savings in the bank, nice holidays etc) and being backed into a corner by a low income.

I hope this isn’t coming across as a big build up to a tidy conclusion. I don’t have one – this is just me having a ponder. What do you think? Are you finding it harder to stick to your food budget? Has it had to be increased? Should we spend more on ‘better’ ingredients even if it means we have to make genuine sacrifices elsewhere? I’d be really interested to hear what other people have to say on this subject!

Categories: Budgeting, Frugal food | 11 Comments

Reading and roasts

Finally some good news on the diet front – I’ve lost 4 pounds! Yay! This time last week I had 11 pounds to lose. Now it is 7. I really need to keep focused on it. I had a day ‘off’ yesterday since it was my very first Mother’s Day as a Mum. Husband cooked my parents and I a beast of a sunday roast (Baby enjoed it too, particularly the roasted sweet potatoes) followed by a gorgeous pudding – it was great. But now it’s Monday and I’m back on the case. I’ve also had a good weekend on the reading front. I finished reading this…

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, which I could barely put down from the moment I started reading it. Then I moved on to My Last Duchess by Daisy Goodwin which I was similarly gripped by. Both of these were books I had ordered through the library and I had almost forgotten about. It’s rare to read two completely different books in a row that I’ve enjoyed so much. As ever, any further book recommendations will be gratefully received!

Categories: Ramblings | 2 Comments

Boden bargains

Not two words you hear together very often perhaps but I’m feeling the Boden love right now. I bought a copy of Red magazine a month or so ago and they had one of those mini catalogues inside with an exclusive offer for Red readers – and a free gift for new customers. Since I had already ordered from Boden a couple of years ago I got my Mum to order an item for me (naughty but worth it). I have a bit of a thing for stripy tops but had never managed to find the perfect Navy and white striped top. I found it in the catalogue. With the 15% discount it was only £21.25 and the postage was free (the returns would also have been free had there been any). The top is great – as is the free wallet which comes in a gorgeous flowery print. As if that wasn’t enough, they also sent a lovely Boden notepad to say thank you. No, no Boden. Thank you.

I hadn’t actually bought anything from Boden for a few years, probably from around the time I hacked my spending right back. I’m impressed though. Yes, I like free gifts but that top is great and it was a steal. Boden, I’m keeping my eye on you…

Categories: Budget beauty | Leave a comment

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