Monday 29 April 2024

The Final Shopping of the Month ... and the End of April Figures


Over the weekend I did the final shopping trip of April, how has this month come to an end so quickly, it's whizzed by!!

As you can see I spent a total of £15.65.

Only the tissues were a really needed purchase ... it's hay-fever season and I've used up the couple of boxes that I had at home pretty quickly over the last couple of weeks.  When I saw these on special offer at just £2.50 for a twin pack if you had a Nectar card, instead of the usual £4, I decided to stock up.  In fact if they are still on offer this week I may even get a few more.

The lemon curd and bake at home baguettes were an impulse buy as I had done that terrible thing of going shopping on an empty stomach.  But the spread was a good purchase as it was still on offer at just £3.35 instead of it's usual £4, so I thought I may as well get another even though I only bought one quite recently.

Seemingly this one was bought on the 12th of the month.  

This is one of the reasons I am monitoring what I buy this year, so I can figure out how often I purchase things, what they cost and how quickly I use them up.  It's proving to be a real eye opener.

This month has been a month of very varied purchases and thankfully quite a low spend, because I am still mostly eating what I have in my cupboard and freezer, and what I have spent has been mostly on fresh things to supplement these.  There was of course another £20 worth of food bought from Booths with my voucher, two freebies also from Booths for having their loyalty card, and Alan bought me some things from the Farm Shop when we went out on my birthday.

My total spend for April was £80.09.

So I have added the change from my £100 to my little pot, and I now have £62.08 carried forward for use as and when I need it ... think of how many tissues that would buy.  😄

I'm doing something completely different this week which means I won't be spending a single penny of my May budget for the first week of the month.  I promise I'll tell you all about it eventually.  

Sue xx

Saturday 27 April 2024

News Ways of Cooking

When my Remoska broke at the end of last year, literally two weeks after Alan's bit the dust, I had to decide whether to buy another one for myself, or whether to invest in an alternative way of cooking that would save me a similar amount of money.  

Alan asked me to order a new Remoska for him from Lakeland and while I was putting his order in I had a look at their range of air fryers.  When I saw the price of THIS one I was very impressed, at exactly a hundred pounds cheaper than a replacement Remoska would have been, I thought it was time I brought myself bang up to date with one of the latest kitchen accessories.

Although it takes up quite a bit more space on my only bit of worktop I managed to find a way to make things work for me.  The electric kettle now sits at the back of the hob, on the ring and section that I never use and the air fryer takes up the space that the kettle and Remoska used to occupy when they were both out on the worktop, although the Remoska was usually put away into the cupboard between uses.

 I still happily manage to cook in exactly the same way as I did before, with a pan on the front section of the hob and occasionally, as with this meal, with a steamer on top.  With the other part of the meal being cooked in one of the drawers of the air fryer.  

I have to say that after a few months using it, I am very impressed with my new purchase.  The only negative I've found is the noise it makes.  But that's mostly because I am usually sat directly opposite from it on my computer, and after all it is just a very small fan oven ... but with less soundproofing than a full size fan oven has.  

I think in the three months or so that I have been using it I have only turned the oven on a couple of times, each time making sure I filled it to capacity, so I am more than happy to put up with a whirring fan behind me if my bank account is staying a bit healthier.

So I am happy to say that my change of small cooking appliance has been a happy one.  😀

And now it's time to relax into the weekend, I hope you all have a good one.

Sue xx

Thursday 25 April 2024

Getting Up To Date ... and More Freebies


It's been a busy week and I haven't had time to upload this photo of the shopping I picked up while I was shopping at Aldi with Alan on Sunday.  

So this amount spent went onto last weeks food spend meaning that in total for last week I spent just £10.23.  Phew, at last a week in April when I am under my self-imposed budget.

I wanted to pick up a few things for Mum, (the crossed out things) some bread for myself and a little mix of things for the Foodbank baskets.  Our Aldi now only sends the contents of their two huge baskets to the Foodbank across the road from it from the foods donated on a Sunday.  So Sunday is the day I will shop there if I need to, as I do want to support this very local one as I have met some of the people that actually use it.

Then yesterday morning I had to call to the charity shop to drop off some things before we headed to Mum's in Manchester, and I nipped into Booths on my way back to the car to pick up this weeks freebie.  I didn't even know that ready flavoured overnight oats were available to buy.  This should be interesting.  The choices were Strawberry or Chocolate flavours.  Now as much as I love chocolate I don't think I would fancy it first thing in the morning.

The ingredients.

And the nutritional information.


But I think regular oats with a couple of strawberries on top would actually suit me better.  I'll let you now how these are once I've made them up.  But it's been normal hot porridge for me the last couple of days as it's been really chilly here, and something hot in my tummy first thing has been just what I've needed.

And talking of freebies ... we went to watch Swan Lake on the live link to the Royal Opera House last night, and due to technical difficulties we all had to move from one cinema screen to another and ended up missing the first three or four minutes of the ballet and then there were a few volume issues.  It didn't spoil it too much and we had a really nice evening.

But as an apology on our way out everyone was given a voucher for a free drink and cake on our next visit to the venue.  We have a whole year to use it in, so there's no rush.  It feels like everyone is offering me free cake and coffees just recently, as we are heading off to Dobbie's tomorrow to enjoy a wander round the garden centre and to partake of my birthday freebies from them ... another two cakes or scones and a drink each.

I'm really not complaining!!  😁

Sue xx

Monday 22 April 2024

When Life Sends You Lemons ...


I made Compost Heap Jelly with the last of my lemon trimmings and apple cores, peelings etc, but this weekend when I was slicing up that lovely new lemon ready for freezing for my morning drinks I decided to do something else with the ends.

The base of my kettle was looking a little bit scaly ... we are lucky here with our lovely Lancashire water, it takes a long time for scale to appear in various household gadgets, unlike when we lived down south when the first boil of a kettle made the scale appear as if by magic ... so I had read a tip that lemon juice would help remove it. 

 It doesn't, well it might have made a little bit of a difference but not to the same effect that a simple slug of vinegar does.  So I redid it with vinegar ... and lamented my wasted lemon ends. 😔🍋

So ... when life sends you lemons, don't attempt to descale your kettle with them, anything else but not that.

Sue xx

Saturday 20 April 2024

It's Been a Good Week Up To Now.


It's the third week of April and this is my fourth little shop.  I'm determined to keep the costs down for the rest of the month so I will only be buying what I absolutely have to.

However, I was down to my last couple of little twin packs of Biscoff biscuits in my jar, so when I saw these with 50p off for Nectar card holders I thought I would buy a new packet.  These last me for ages as I only eat them when we are out and about and Alan buys himself a cake or something to have with his pot of tea.  He does of course offer to buy me a snack, but recently there has rarely been a dairy-free option that I could have, so a pack of these in my bag means I at least have something to dunk in my coffee ... and Alan doesn't feel too guilty. 😀

The receipt.

In other news this week, in a bid to make the most of what I already have in the lodge, I turned a bag of lemon and apple trimmings, peelings and cores, along with two wrinkly apples into three jars of Compost Heap Jelly.  I already had a little jar of jam sugar and some other various sugars in the cupboard so it cost me nothing to make.

(For more information on how to make this see THIS post.)

And I made a slight inroads into the rice mountain with a couple of meals of dahl and brown rice. 😁 

 There is more dahl here than this photo suggests, as I had reheated it in the large dish in the microwave and it had spread itself out in a thin layer.  So, I just tipped the rice on top and stirred it all together when I started eating.

Fresh shopping, bargain biscuits, free jam and tasty dahl ... it's been a good week up to now.

I've just edited this post to include the shopping from the Farm Shop we went to after my birthday lunch at Barton Grange yesterday.   Alan paid as he bought things too.  So free food for me ... including the extra mayo and napkins from lunch.

Sue xx

Friday 19 April 2024

It's That Day Again,


On this day in 1960 a rebel was born, and everyone knew it straight away, although I hid the fact so sweetly in lots of these photos.  😁

For your amusement, on my birthday here is a trip down memory lane.

A proper little madam on a family holiday.

Junior school photo ... I hated combing my hair then and my Mum was horrified when she got the photos.  😂

I scrubbed up well for Whit Week every year though.

The Girl Guide with the longest legs.  😄

On holiday with the family.

A day out, Dad loved the roses and asked me to stand next to them.

My fifteenth birthday.

Then we'll skip forward a few years to save your time and your sanity ... past a wedding at 18, children in my 20s, first grandchild in my 30s, a divorce, two years of freedom, another wedding at 47, more grandchildren and a complete change of lifestyle for the second time in my life. 

A smallholders day out at River Cottage.  Yep, I'd been 'Tangoed'.  😀

Celebrating something .... or perhaps it was just a wine day.  😄

Organising my Lovely Hubby ... he takes a lot of organising!!

Then it was another grandchild and the start of the great grandchildren.  Fast forward to today ...

And to scare you all off, me now 64 today.  Bloody hell how did that happen?

Just me, you can take me or leave me ... but I'm the only one I've got, so you're pretty much stuck with me if you want to read my wild and wacky ramblings.  💖

Thank you for always being here.

Sue xx

Thursday 18 April 2024

Sometimes things call out to you ...


My 'present to myself' Lucy Almey Bird pictures are up on the wall.

I paid for the prints and Alan paid for the framing for me, and I absolutely love them.  The lady from the framing shop in our town also loved them so much she approached Lucy directly about being a seller of her prints in our town.  So who knows, I might be buying a couple more in the future.  😀

Although it's not ideal having them behind me when I'm sat in one of the chairs, this was the only available place for them to go as I am quickly running out of wall space here in the lodge.

I chose these three pictures as each one in a different way relates to me and my life, and strangely the lady in the framing shop said that's why they appealed to her.  I guess you take from art that which means the most to you, and relax into it.

'Spring Awakening'

In this one the dresser, the jars of dried food and the pitcher called out to me first, the other details being picked up on later.

'Me Time'

In this one it was the Jack Russell curled up in the basket, the  cream coloured Aga with the kettle on top, and the thick woolly socks.

'A Good Book'

And in this one it was the Ginger cat, the old Bush radio, my Dad's woven topped stool and the stacks of books that immediately pulled me in, then I spotted my Nana's old clock on the bookshelves and the need to own it was cemented.

Sometimes things call out to you ... and sometimes you just have to give in and let them into your life.

Sue xx

Tuesday 16 April 2024

Wine, Fishfingers and a Free Book


My shopping over the weekend was mostly from Aldi, and naughtily included two bottles of wine, which of course bumped the total spend up by quite a lot.

The crossed out things went into the Foodbank trolley.  A mixture of biscuits and sanitary products this week.  Every little helps.

Alan went over to the local tech shop to see if the guy there could help with a problem on his phone, he could and did, and at no charge.  Isn't it good when you can recognise a problem immediately and just solve it.  I had a look around the charity shop for a while and then sat on the benches in the square to wait for him.  When Alan walked over to me he immediately spotted a pound coin right next to me, why hadn't I spotted it?

Anyway we went into Booths for a coffee and while I didn't get to pick up any freebies from the café this week I did spot this book on the charity bookshelves, and Alan gave me his newly acquired pound to pay for it.  So I got a freebie in the end.  😁

My only other purchase over the weekend was a tub of Naturli spread for £3.35.

Total Spend this week £28.52.

I think I will try to have a very low spend this week to make up for going over my sort of allotted allowance of £25 per week two weeks on the trot.

I hope I don't run out of pasta or rice though. 😄 

Sue xx

Sunday 14 April 2024

A Shocking Stocktake


It all started with me using the last of  the penne in the large pasta jar last night and needing to refill it.

Realising it was what I thought were the last two bags of pasta being tipped into it, I added pasta to my shopping list.  Then I remembered that I also had lots of spaghetti and thought I would check how much, perhaps I could just use that instead.

It turned into a full scale pasta and rice stocktake, with me sat on the floor and things being pulled out of the cupboard left, right and centre.

After half an hour I had written out the top half of this stock take, and then I remembered another stash of assorted pastas in one of my basket drawers.  I seems that I have more than enough pasta.

I added together all the various pastas and rice's ... and I have the grand total of over eight and a half kilos of each.  That's a combined total of over one hundred and seventy portions of carbohydrates to go with my meals.  

At the rate of two portions of each per week that's the rest of this year sorted out then!!

Needless to say I have now crossed pasta off my shopping list. 😁

Perhaps I should stocktake my tins of tomatoes after buying another eight last week ... I don't know if I dare!

Sue xx

Friday 12 April 2024

Renaming it 'The Freebies Blog' ...


I laughed this morning when I saw all my freebies once again, and thought very briefly about renaming this blog 'The Freebies Blog'.

On Wednesday I phoned Mum as I usually do before we visit, to see if she needed us to bring her anything or if she just fancied something.  She's been off her food since being in hospital, so temptation is the name of the game at the moment.  This week she asked for some milk and some scones.  As I was sat in the Booths carpark ready to go in and get this week's freebie ... a packet of Warburtons Soft Naans ... and we were due to set off for Manchester in half an hour there would be no time to make some.

Happily there was a choice of nice fresh scones to choose from, so I chose a pack of tiny sultana ones, there were lots in the pack but I knew Alan would be pleased to help her eat a couple after our lunchtime sandwiches.

I decided that while I was there I would use my quarterly Booths voucher, this time a massive £20 one and stock myself up on the Mutti tomato products that were on a generous offer.  They are not the cheapest of tomato products, but they are among the tastiest.

As you can see from the top photo I managed to get two four packs of tinned tomatoes, some just peeled and some finely chopped, along with three jars of tomato sauces, two vegan Bolognese style and one with basil.  Along with some eggs for me and some cherry tomatoes to have with our sandwiches at Mum's.

My freebie this week was worth £1.60, not to be sniffed at.  

It's a good job I went in nice and early to claim these as they were very popular, everyone at the checkouts had a pack either on the conveyor belt or still in their baskets, and the large wicker basket at the front of the store was already half empty ... and this was still before 9am.

My receipt, showing all my tomatoey bargains and the freebie and the grand total that I had to hand over in cash for everything in the top photo.

Total Spend - £2.21

Last night while we were chatting Alan asked if I fancied a cooked breakfast at Booths, of course I said yes.  😁

So this morning as soon as Alan got back from walking Mavis, we went to Booths.  Even though it was market day our little town is always slow to come to life, and at 8.45am the café was still lovely and quiet, the few folk that were there were mostly men eating bacon butties and reading their papers.

A picture of tray-carrying concentration.

Before we left the store Alan picked up some bread for himself and a naughty pack of Caramel KitKats and asked me if there was anything that I fancied.  When I saw the yearly edition of Gardeners world magazine at the checkout I said 'yes I fancy that' ... so he bought it for me.  

I buy this one every year as it contains the '2 for 1 Gardens Pass', usually along with a free gift, which this year was four packets of seeds.  Using the gardens pass just once gets you back the cost of the magazine so it is really worth having.

So I got a magazine with it's offer and seeds bought for me and I came away from the café with even more sachets than usual ... and look, they've upgraded their sachets to the posher 'Stokes' ones.  We sampled half each of the other brown sauce one with our breakfasts and it was very nice.

I was pleased to see that inside the magazine there is a feature with Gaz Oakley, one of my favourite vegan chefs who is now living a very sustainable life on a Welsh hillside, just like we did.

So it was a good and very cheap shopping trip for me on Wednesday, and then a very tasty and completely freebie filled outing on Thursday morning.  And we were both back at our desks and working away well before ten o'clock.

Sue xx