Monday, 16 October 2017

Stoptober 3

There is still plenty of money in the account but not much left in the petrol account ! I think this might mean that either I'm driving too much or I should ask for expenses for the trustee work !

All the spending this week has either been on food, petrol or topping up the Oyster card for MrShoestring to get into London. He has a refund due from a time when he thought he swiped in at a station but it did not register. This happens quite a lot so now we look at the end of every week to check to see if there are any unclaimed refunds.

Another piece of good news was that he was offered a permanent contract where he is working now, but I'll have to check the tax credits again as I think accepting it will mean that we are entitled to less help. The one thing I do not like about the tax credit system is that they give you money all year and then ask for some of it back again at the end of it if you have earned more than you thought you would. This is what has stopped us claiming in the past, so I'm determined to get it sorted out along the way !

I drove to see friends, but then they paid for a cup of tea in a cafe so no spending there ! Also I'm waiting to replace a battery in my watch by ordering online rather than paying someone else to do the replacement.

All the lovely weather has meant plenty of produce from the garden, even a second crop of peas which were delicious with the Sunday chicken. My Dad is coming to stay for a few days this week so we did have to splash out for some cornflakes, as that is his preferred breakfast. He likes marmalade too but I don't have any of that, so decided homemade jam will have to do !

There were three jumble sales this weekend but I didn't go to any of them, quite a feat of self-control, since there haven't been any for ages. However, I decided that since I'm only buying 'needs' this month I really didn't need to go !

I hope you have also had a great week !

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Be Happy !

Yesterday I was quite tempted to order something from the Book People catalogue which dropped through the door, buying books is definitely one of my weaknesses ! However, I realised that reading one of my existing books would give me just as much pleasure ! This made me think about how important it is to have at least some time in the week when we are not racing to complete a 'to do' list but actually stop and appreciate what we have. So today I'm going to look for at least 10 things that bring me happiness like :-

1. A good cup of tea in a lovely mug or cup and saucer

2. Time for a lie-in

3. A leisurely morning pottering about

4. Something tasty for lunch

5. A nap

6. A long walk

7. Making a meal together

8. Reading a book

9. Having a hot shower

10. Getting into bed after the electric blanket has warmed it up !

Enjoy your Sunday too !

Saturday, 14 October 2017

A Trip Out !

We are off out today to take MasterShoestring to this Skills show. It has free parking and we'll be bringing our own food and drink.

There are going to be over 70 exhibitors including some colleges and employers that he is interested in finding out more from.

I was fascinated to learn that we have a rocket manufacturer just 20 miles away ! Who knew ? Apparently the satellite industry in this country is one of our fastest growing areas !

I'm looking forward to finding out more, especially as there is a push on in this area to get more over 50s into apprenticeships. Maybe I'll be snapped up !

Friday, 13 October 2017

Frugal Friday

Friday already ! The week seems to have gone so quickly ! There have still been sone things to pick in the garden, including raspberries ! This was the first week when I actually had so many I could serve them as dessert to the rest of the family, I can't remember that happening before.

We also picked the last of the courgettes, some tomatoes and spinach. These were all used up in meals over the week. We stewed the last of the apples. I tidied up the freezer too and moved all the apples and other fruit into the small chest freezer which has been off all Summer, the big one was so full I couldn't squeeze another thing in there. Now I have room for a few loaves of homemade bread and the odd homemade ready meal, which will come in handy when we have busy nights.

We filled up at the cheapest petrol station and got a free magazine and newspaper at the supermarket. I washed out some bread bags from the freezer for re-use and got some free Christmas cards from the Red Cross. We also make a donation there so I don't feel bad about using their unsolicited stuff which comes in the post !

I sold a couple of exam texts on Amazon, as they offer more money than Ziffit and used the money earned to buy a book on my wish list, effectively making it free ! I'm not sure whether or not this is cheating during Stoptober, but decided it wasn't as the transaction was spending neutral !

I made every meal from scratch and we enjoyed a particularly nice iced gingerbread ! I am noticing that now MasterShoestring is older and bigger a cake only lasts an afternoon and I have to increase his lunch allowance as well. This means less in the rest of the shopping budget, so I really have to plan to use everything up. I saved some yoghurt from a new batch to use as a starter for the next one, I can't do this all the time as the starter weakens over time,  but it's good a couple of times a month.

otherwise we did all the usual things like bringing snacks and drinks from home when out and drying all the washing outside or on racks indoors. We still haven't switched on the heating and hot water full time, just when we notice the house is below 18C or there's not much sun in the morning for the solar hot water. It's already the middle of October so I'm hoping that we will have a mild winter !

I hope you also had a great week !

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Treat your own Back !

Fifteen years ago, when I had just had MasterShoestring I slipped a disc in my back. It was very painful for 6 weeks and I had to sleep on the floor at the foot of the bed instead of in it ! On Monday I bent over forwards to pick up a laundry basket full of washing and my back has been painful since ! Yes, I know the proper technique for lifting, but until my back gets sore I usually don't bother, maybe I should !!

Yesterday morning it was still really bad and I decided that I would have to go back to doing back exercises ! The ones in this book are excellent and have saved me a lot of money in physiotherapy bills over the years. I did find physiotherapy very helpful all those years ago but now I know what to do myself, it does save quite a bit !

First thing, is doing the special exercises. Second thing, protect your back by sitting and lifting correctly, I think I shall be paying much more attention to this one in future. Third thing, only take painkillers if you can't sleep at night, otherwise you will be tempted to do too much ! Fourth thing, take gentle exercise rather than resting.

I have been doing all those things since yesterday and I can already feel an improvement, much quicker and cheaper than waiting for an appointment ! Now all I have to remember is to continue to follow my own advice !

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

A delicious standby !

I have just finished processing all those apples from the trees and have lots of crumble and pie filling stashed away in the freezer. When I'm in a hurry and have lots of apple ready prepared an apple crumble is a quick and delicious pudding.

1lb apple pie filling
6oz flour
4oz dairy-free spread
2oz sugar

Spread the apple pie filling in the bottom of the dish. Rub the dairy free spread into the flour until it looks like breadcrumbs then stir in the sugar. Sprinkle the crumble mixture on top of the filling and spread it out so no filling can be seen. Bake in a 200C oven for 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Leave to cool a bit before serving or you will burn your mouth on the apples.

This is very tasty with custard, cream or vanilla ice cream !

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Planning for a Frugal Prom

This might seem like a strange post to have at this time of year but I have just had to pay the £15 deposit fro MasterShoestring's prom ticket, even though the actual event will be held June 29th next year !

The first thing we had to decide was whether he really wanted to go or not. The ticket is expensive and although the school offers 5 free tickets, it was highly unlikely that he would qualify for one of those, so he checked how many friends were going and only decided that 'yes' he would like to go on the day of the deadline. Then start to budget for the ticket. MasterShoestring's school offers a payment plan via ParentPay so we shall be taking advantage of that as it does not cost anything extra.

The ticket includes a meal and soft drinks and we will not be having anybody over before hand for a pre-party supper etc., they can eat their fill at the event ! Getting to the venue is often something people spend lots of money on but unless you are sharing the limousine with so many friends that it brings the cost per head down to the price of a taxi, do without and drop them off around the corner !

Similarly, with photographs, take your own, don't shell out for expensive professional ones, unless this is part of a present for another event, e.g.) a 16th birthday. The outfit may or may not be worn again so a second hand or online purchase is the way to go. There are lots of good websites now specialising in clothes for special occasions which are a good deal cheaper than special 'prom' clothes in the high street shops. MasterShoestring needs to stop growing before we can buy him something but I suspect he will go casual and polish up his school shoes !

Now I know that we have it slightly easier because MasterShoestring is a boy but we were in the USA for Miss Shoestring's prom which was held on a boat going down the River Hudson, very posh and we did the same ! Cheap dress, bought online, our own photographs and Dad's car for transport and she still had a lovely time, so please don't spend a fortune on just 1 night !!