Sunday, 30 March 2014

Changed clocks and a sudden flurry of activity

Mothers day here today, well Mothering Sunday to be accurate. I had a little gift and cute card from home son, a phone call from 7500 miles away from away son. I am happy :)

The sun is shining, I am feeling better, we spent the weekend out in the garden and sorting out the shed. Fahed finally got the hang of de-cluttering and not a moment too soon as his shed is full to bursting point. The emptying spaces in house, shed and garden make us feel very relaxed and creative. I don't know, does empty space de-stress you? Feels like it does.

Also my shopping bill came to £66 yesterday, with no effort from me. I could go down more but this is with eating pretty much what we want, the quality that we want. Three or four years ago I budgeted £100 a week and often went over. This is the new normal and is without effort, and more importantly, without waste either through actual waste or through eating too much.

And I am going to try scuba diving on holiday this year. If I like it then I try for my license back here from the autumn. I tried once before but the wet suit played up with my claustrophobia, so I try without a suit in warmer waters. Also now I am more physically fit. 2 exercise classes each week and this week I also start my yoga class. Also happy to ride my bike to work when it doesn't rain..

Listen to my sons band. They make me happy too!



Friday, 28 March 2014

Bleugh! and extra income

I think I have a virus or something. Every part of me aches, even my ear lobes. I tried lying in bed but that made me ache too :(  I feel very pathetic and sorry for myself.  Okay, and I am whiney too!

So anyway, I have been watching Elaine's extra income challenge with interest. Her challenge this month was £1250 in extra income. She hasn't quite made it, though she might well still do it but she has done remarkably well. I have been selling on eBay and selling on Amazon but I am nowhere near. I was thinking maybe a little personal challenge in April. Elaine records things some much more thoroughly than I do, as that much detail is not my default style but I am going to really try.

I am going to include savings on shopping, vouchers used, amazon & eBay income, freebies.

Anyone else want to try it?




Saturday, 22 March 2014

And bang, its Saturday again

This week passed in even more of a flasssssh than normal. Ordinary Monday, Management Team meeting Tuesday with a mid afternoon drive up to the industry conference. Out on Tuesday night, conference went on for about 15 hours on Wednesday. Then again Thursday. Home Thursday night and day off (but half asleep) on Friday. And then Bam, it is Saturday again. I tell myself that it is moving this quick because I am happy and enjoying myself. And I am happy and enjoying myself.

The house didnt look too bad when I got back. Apparently they were too busy building a guitar, in between work, to make much mess or to even feed themselves. So they look skinny but happy. The guitar is looking pretty good and is awaiting final coat of paint.

I have been selling on ebay this week. The speakers from our old surround sound went for £10, the break machine is finishing today. Someone made an offer for the pan but I prefer that the machine goes and is used.

Oh and I have had a good clean up, the laundry is about half done, dinner is partly completed, I have done my shopping. In fact I ordered my shopping last night from ASDA. It is fine except some weird substitutions, pork mince instead of lamb mince?? really? Also a half dozen items were missing. Sigh. Lady on helpdesk was so nice though so I cant be cross. She is crediting my account with the difference plus an extra £6 for inconvenience. Shopping, after deductions but excluding credit was £61. However I do now have enough bread to last for some weeks as it was on special offer. Bread drawer of freezer is very full indeed.

Another couple of hours and Fahed will be home. After lunch/dinner we plan to drop of a few things at the recycling centre and/or get him to try on some of his clothes from when he was fatter. Hopefully I can sew them a bit smaller. 

All is good and I feel pleasantly satisfied with my non exciting day.


Sunday, 16 March 2014

Avoiding takeaways

If the desire for a Burger King ever intrudes upon your life (total cost around £40 if there are five of us here) then try this instead. Its obviously not BK but its not bad at all.

Good quality beef burger grilled on a griddle.
Toast the sliced side of the burger buns.

So far, so normal. But now:

A squeeze each of ketchup and mayo onto the bottom bun. A couple of slices of pickled gherkin (remove later if you really dont like them but you need it to get BK style taste)
Layer on your burger. Maybe add a couple of thin slices of raw onion.
Top the burger with your toasted bun top.
Wrap the whole thing in grease proof paper and pop it into the oven for about 10 minutes.

Yummy, nummy!

Oh, I forgot about adding your own cheese, bacon, mushrooms etc as we have them 'straight up' but I am sure it would work especially if you use that weird sliced cheese, which is nothing like actual cheese.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Dont overlook returns when you are being frugal

Easy to assume, when you have purchased something in error, that its not possible to send it back or it would be too expensive.


  • About three weeks ago I bought a lovely top for £12. Too tight across the boobs. Tomorrow morning morning I am getting my money back (as soon as I can find the actual top, oops)
  • This week I had a text book arrive from Amazon. I was very unimpressed with it. Returned at a cost of £2.35. £17.50 back in the bank
  • I bought a replacement heater tank to fix our shower. Now the electrician says the shower is a write off. I have checked ebay and it can be returned, so I have emailed the seller. I have to get my £74.90 back.
  • And, result from my point of view, as I was typing this I remembered another Amazon book which i recently purchased was a huge disappointment. I have no completed the online return form. I have practiced what I am preaching! £13.50 back form that.

Buy something which hasn't lived up to expectations? Send it back!


Thursday, 13 March 2014

Following Froogs

Froogs wants us to teach one person each week something frugally useful. I am in. Anyone else in?

I am a dreadful teacher but I do know how to squeeze a pound until it squeaks, so maybe I can help somebody.

Going back to the good old days, my four mile hike to shopping was the round trip with pushchair and included the actual time in the store. I was just too mean to shop locally and pay an extra 10%.

We didn't have a car for about three years until I had been back at work a year. We finally got a phone in the house when Jamal was around two or three.

It wasn't at all bleak. We had a lot of fun. I made jam and wine from fruit we gathered. My parents gave us veggies from the garden. I had a friend that worked at the local bakery and she used to bring us big bags of baked goods which would have been given to chickens. She also had a friend who looked after the local lakes so occasionally brought us wild ducks for dinner. One time she brought us eels. I remember they were still moving even after Fahed gutted them, right until they finally froze in the bottom drawer of the freezer. We ate them when desperate and they tasted like cotton wool!

I wish we had freecycle back then but there were already plenty of generous people who gave us their old furniture and furnishings. We had been married about four or five years when we got our first carpets. Sadly there was no garden at the first two flats we lived but we did get an allotment which was super productive in cucumbers and aubergines. I remember an amazing raspberry crop too and loads of gooseberries. Funny how it all comes back when you think about it.

If my kids had a single new clothes item until they were well in their teens then it wasn't from me. But we did okay and we have skills for life.

Time to share them

Monday, 10 March 2014

King of froogal cool

That's my dad.

One of my fence panels came down in the recent storms. The posts are concrete (husbands choice back in the day - clever clogs)but a single panel failed us. We went to the local DIY shop for a replacement but they are all out at the moment because of the storms. Plenty available further form home but we don't want to drive too far with it on the roof.

This evening my dad called to say that his neighbour had all of her fence panels replaced today so he 're-provisioned' the best of the outgoing panels for us.

Go dad!



22 years

Jamal was born 19/03/1992. My second surprise package (apparently the female contraceptive tablet wasn't as effective as it might have been) but obviously they are the centre of my world from the moment they arrived.

We were so poor. I had been temping until I was pregnant, instant loss of job! Fahed was made redundant when I was pregnant.  On top of that Fahed needed surgery. I am glad I didn't know then that the surgery would need to carry on for the next two years.

We were on income support and our flat was falling down around us. No car, it took 4 hours to walk to the most affordable supermarket with the big boys push chair. No phone, when Ahdel turned blue and stopped breathing Fahed had to run to the phone box on the corner to call the doctor.

I certainly learnt how to catch from scratch back then. And Fahed learned how to fix everything in the house.

We still do this but times are so much better these days.

Income - March

If i track it then maybe I try harder...........


Ebay -
Full sized life jacket £4.79 plus £8.25 postage.
Junior life Jacket £5.07 (they are going to collect)

Total so far: £9.86

Next step: Photograph surround sound system ready for next free listing event

Amazon -
No sales since my amazing £32 last month for the unloved Lord of the Rings audio book.
But I am counting the return of a £19.99 which was truly dreadful. Refund will be £17.64 I think.
Total £17.64

Other:
Found an M&S voucher in my purse which I had forgotten (Counting this out of desperation)
Total £?


Expenses: I submitted a mileage claim for £348 which should be paid on Friday 21st
Total £348

Total so far £9.86 but hopefully more in the ether...........


Saturday, 8 March 2014

Still side hustling

Will I get the hang of this??

I sold the TV for £200. I have a surround sound to sell, next time there is free listing on ebay. I have two life jackets (where do I get these things, I have never had a boat) listed to end tomorrow from last weeks free listing event. Keep everything crossed for me, I have a lot of watchers.

Lots of things which I may be able to use Facebay for. My sons ex girlfriend used to sell things on there but so cheaply and she ended up taking it people who then didn't want it that it put me off the idea but I think maybe i try it once or twice and then decide.

I am moving to Lidl for a few weeks for shopping. They have most things I want and they sure have less temptation.

Also the shower died of old age yesterday. Jamal is away, Fahed & Ahdel teach and shower at the pool every day, sometimes multiple times a day. So this is really only a problem to me.  7.30 this morning I was at the sports center. We have a gym, pool, badminton court, basketball, dance and karate studios, 5 a side pitches in and out, full sized football and hockey pitches. Everything you really want. Although what I actually wanted was to wash my hair. But that seemed like a cop out so I popped in for a swim. As it was lanes only at that time of the day I could only swim up and down, and i had no-one to talk to. So I did ten lengths in 15 minutes and was showered, hair washed and out again in 30 minutes. Cost is zero as Fahed works there.
Now I am thinking that I maybe do have time for a swim before work. I am going to ask Fahed not to fix the shower for a week (there is still a bath obviously) and once or twice a day I will pop in the sports centre for a swim and scrub up. Not side hustle but potentially money saving. And helping me be more heathly.


Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Side Hustle


The blogosphere is alive with thoughts of side hustles. I want to join in.

I know from experience the difference that your finances can suffer between being aware of & taking control of spending v being talked into spending lots by other people and then losing the actual plot. I think that focusing on income could be similar.

So l have been getting rid of all sorts but some of it could have made me extra £££'s. I sold an audio book for £35 during Feb. I have some Life Jackets for sale on eBay. Maybe a few more audio books for sale.

I have made sure to claim my expenses at work, mileage and parking.

I want to think bigger. Let's get my ideas mojo in action

Any ideas anyone?

Oh and in other news, doors to conservatory up, secure and looking mighty fine. I will bore you with photos once the woodwork is conpkete

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Sunday - What do I want to do??

I am all alone here today. Jamal is away aboard ship, Ahdel has three days in the recording studio, did I mention my eldest bambino is a rock star :). Fahed is sleeping. He has work later and I dont want him sleepy and in charge of little swimmers. He is tired because he didn't sleep for the last two nights. He doesn't cope well with change and the idea of not seeing Jamal until July doesn't sit easily with him. However his physical activity, keeping busy with DIY and his happy tablets seem to be keeping his black dog away at the moment, poor love.

So anyway how can I best use my day today. Conservatory cant really be tackled as they are still working out there. The door fitting came to an abrupt halt when the frame started to fall to pieces. Fahed is trying to build it and attach properly to  he lintel before work recommences on Tuesday but that means door related stuff everywhere. The doors are heavily glazed so a lot heavier than we originally planned. I will do what I can by working around it. Fahed & Ahdel only have Tuesdays when they are both home together for a period of hours - Tuesday is DIY day.

I have more laundry, then all the putting away of the laundry. A dishwasher load and a bit of sorting out in the kitchen. Maybe make a stew for dinner tonight. We are all off eating where Jamal has been feeding us hugely all this week! I will make something small. Fill up my boot with the box for the charity shop. I took down quite a bit last week but I have more ready. The breadmaker is finally going. There is nothing wrong with it but if I eat bread then I get a headache, if Fahed eat bread he swells up with a balloon. The kids prefer pitta or wraps so it has had its time with us.

By mid afternoon I think I can sit down for some reading, maybe writing, update the house books with plans, might try some crochet, Nice lazy Sunday afternoon.

Hope you are enjoying your day wherever you are.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Whirlwind of a week & utilities

I had two 12 hours days this week on the last part of my NLP training. Spookily clever stuff and I slept last night by using one of the techniques. I tried something similar when saying goodbye to my baby at Heathrow as he flew out of my life for 4 months and into Singapore. In fact I was better than I was when he left for university. Jamal hid some lollipops in my bed and a caramac bar on my sofa. He does know it yet but his Baba hid a fluffy meerkat and a punk rubber duck in his case. Hope it makes him smile.

So today the house is in the sort of chaos you get when three blokes are left alone for a few days and are not white you might call self sufficient. I don't think they are aware of the mess and are very proud that they managed to fix the washing machine and do most of the washing. Its all in a dry pile about 4 foot high but hey, who minds a bit of folding when someone has done the laundry for you. They are sweet hearts.

Today arrived the water bill.

Our average useage was 238 litres per day.
Average useage for our house would be expected to be (according to Southern Water) 433 litres.

I am happy and I guess it is worth going for the A efficiency models when buying dishwashers and washing machine. Also the swimming teachers shower at work. They are there every day and they need to shower when leaving the pool anyway so they just make sure they are thorough at that point. I am not sure it helps but I clean my teeth in the shower :)

Our electric usage has gone down from 720kwh per month at end of December, to 699kwh at end of January and then again to 628kwh at end of February. Still a work in progress but at least there is progress.

Gas was 41ft3 in December, 45ft3 in January and back down to 41ft3 in February. I'll have to watch them sneaking the heating on when I am not here!

Autumn has arrived

I can tell as we have had rain pretty much non stop for so many days. And its getting colder. Part 1: So obviously thats a great time t...