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Monday, 18 September 2017

An Unusual Post

Us Brits have a worldwide reputation for making conversation about the weather and I think it's probably true. Unlike lots of other countries  of the world our little island can experience a wealth of different weather fronts all in the space of 24 hours. Our weather is so changeable it must be one of the most over used words in the meteorological dictionary.

When we went to Leicester last month we arrived in beautiful sunshine and promptly opened the windows and put the fan on inside the hotel room as it was so warm.  Less than 12 hours later it was 9 degrees cooler with  thick cloud that eventually turned to heavy rain with hailstones the size of marbles.  Then the sun came out dried up all the rain and incy wincy spider climbed the spout again......sorry I digress.
Last Sunday I found myself thinking hurricane Irma had crossed the Atlantic at break neck speed and reached the UK as it was so windy, the sky was full of angry dark clouds and the rain when it arrived was heavy and almost horizontal! During the week  we went from one extreme to the other with weather warnings about flash flooding and gale force winds. 

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.  Well that's the official explanation.
Most people say 'small causes can have longer effects'. 

So to my question: 
Is all the bomb testing in North Korea having an effect on 
our weather systems of late? I believe you can't go firing bombs into the
atmosphere without it causing  something! What happens to all those
displaced molecules? I do hope there is some scientist bloggers who can explain. 

The USA have experienced dreadful disasters of late. 
Hurricane Harvey and the flooding in Texas, followed 
swiftly by hurricane Irma that had a magnitude not witnessed before. 
There has been flooding across India, Nepal and Bangladesh. An earthquake of 8.1
in Mexico. Yesterday my friend in Denmark posted a picture on Facebook of the Copenhagen half marathon which was abruptly cancelled half way through due to a snow storm. I know we have natural disasters every year but its seems they have been in quick succession of each other and of degrees not heard of before. Some would believe Global Warming is alive and well and living amongst us. Either way they are 'man made'.  Do you have any thoughts about this? 

PS: Thank you for all the lovely comments regarding the tea cosy.  I am going to attempt to adapt the pattern for a coffee cafetiere.......for me. 

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

At Long Last

Its been an absolute age but I've only gone and done it........I've finished my friends tea cosy! Yeeha! I bought the pattern when I was visiting her in April this year, we were standing outside a wool shop when she said look at those lovely knitted cosies.  They were beautiful so I went in the shop and bought the pattern.  Once home I purchased the wool and started. I chose the moss rib stitch cosy as its very stretchy and not knowing the exact size of the tea pot it will adorn I thought it was the safest option.  I lost track how many times I pulled it apart and restarted it.  Over time I became familiar with the pattern which helped when it came to the shaping.  Every line of the pattern was different and once again I confess it was pulled clean off the needles numerous times.  

I used to knit  quite a bit when the children where younger and money was tight.  My mum would knit the children's stuff and I would knit mine.  I used to go each month and buy a ball of Sidar something or another for my latest chunky cardigan. Thank goodness they had a lay by scheme or I wouldn't have been able to afford it. Working full time and shift work put and end to lots of crafty things I used to do so now I'm retired I thought it would be easy to just pick up again.

Unfortunately I will not be seeing my friend on her birthday but another friend is going up to Tyneside to see her next  week and has offered to take the present with her.  Knowing her Birthday was looming meant I had to knuckle down and finish it. I don't have a tea pot so I put it over a plastic jug in order to take the photo. I wanted to learn to crochet flowers as I feel they always look so much better than knitted flowers. The crochet flowers have been a disaster, I'm all fingers and thumbs when trying to watch the YouTube tutorial and do it at the same time, so I did a couple of the flowers from the pattern instead. 

As you can see I wrote a little card to put with it which reads:

This tea cosy was made with extra stitches, dropped stitches and a few too many swear words. But most of all it was made with love. 
I hope it ruddy fits. 

I simply had to buy the little porcelain pastry forks when I saw them as she loves any thing like that and they were in the sale. My friend doesn't know I blog so my secret is safe.  I just need a small bar of chocolate to go in the bag and its good to go.  Small as I know she's on Weight Watchers but everyone knows that chocolate doesn't contain Smart Points or Calories when eaten on your Birthday! I hope she likes it and  I hope it fits.

Many thanks for all your seasonal comments. We have high winds today but lots of sunshine too.  I hope you haven't suffered to badly from the effects of Storm Aileen.  Bye for now. Tx 

Monday, 11 September 2017

Tired Oh So Tired

Last Monday was my final grandchildren minding session of the holidays and if I'm completely honest a little voice inside my head was saying 'Thank the Lord for that'. I love them to bits but my time wasn't my own anymore.  So knowing I could do what I wanted for the rest of the week  I went a little crazy on Tuesday and Wednesday tidying more areas of the garden preparing them for winter. Then I had more preserving to do as my freezer diving had freed up more space. Every minute has been filled with something and now I feel tired, oh so tired.

I do this every time, you'd think I would have learnt by now,  after all I'm getting older and Rome wasn't built in a day.  But then you have to make hay while the sun shines  don't you? We've  had some lovely sunshine on the Essex coast but there is a chill in the air too, especially the mornings and evenings. Out of the four seasons of the year I would rank my least favourite as winter. Number one has to be spring because its the first signs of life, the start of new beginnings.  Summer comes next on my list and  then autumn.  What's your favourite season? 
What's your favourite season? 

My spending has remained on track, I used the Iceland £5 and Asda £5.28 for  essentials milk, bread, sugar, squash, fruit and a 39p pointed cabbage from Lidl. I spent  £1.09 bringing my total so far to £43. I pretty much have this weeks meals sorted and the only thing I need is 6 pints of milk which will take me through to Friday. 

Would you believe that tomorrow (12th September) I celebrate being retired for one whole year, boy oh boy its gone quickly. I have learnt so much during the last twelve months. Firstly, the free-time you believed retirement would bring doesn't exist! In addition,  when I worked I always hankered after having  more outside space to grow stuff and have chickens etc My current garden is approximately 36ft x 90ft and we have a 10ft x 8ft greenhouse. I've learnt this is more than enough space for our needs and lifestyle. Furthermore,  I can cope with this without it taking over my/our life. I've been better at successional sowing and hope to build on this by getting a few more spring crops sown. My preserving skills have  gone from strength to strength and I've contacted with my card making. The only area I've failed abysmally on is my sewing. I really thought I'd have more time to get my sewing machine out and make stuff, the material is ready and waiting but the time just runs away from me. Perhaps autumn will be different but I doubt it as we really need to get some decorating done before winter.  At least hubby will be around more to help, he's been covering holiday shortages and worked full time for the last 6 weeks. Our house was completely painted over 4 years ago and some walls are looking a little shabby, and most of the skirting could do with a  good gloss. So that's next on the agenda. Bye for now. Tx

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Freezer Fortnight (AKA Freezer diving)

Monday was  not only the first day of my freezer fortnight it was also the first time since April I have had to put my housecoat on when I got up as the house felt chilly. In reality it was 19 degrees but it was so miserable and grey outside it made it  seem colder. I shall be having this 'freezer fortnight'  every month from now until Christmas in order to use up lots of the bits lurking at the bottom of the freezer.  I have been concentrating my efforts on the chest freezer and there is some space in there now. I'm hoping by the end of this fortnight I can have a big batch cook that will provide the majority of meals for the rest of the month.

I have spent £41.91 since the 22nd August and thanks to my Iceland Summer Bonus I have £5 to spend with them.  We popped in Asda on Saturday evening so hubby could get some razors and whisky for himself, I put some bits in the basket too and the bill came to £29.47. Later that evening I did the price guarantee thing and got a coupon for £5.28 wow! So that's £10.28 I can spend in Iceland and Asda without it costing me a penny! This will keep me on track to keep my spending under £75 this month, there is after all only 16 days left till pay day so its doable.  

More preserving took place over the weekend. I lifted the rest of the beetroot from one bed and they filled the pressure cooker.  Once cooled some were layered  in a tub between cereal packet waxy paper as nothing sticks to this and frozen. I left two large ones out to serve with out dinner and the rest were pickled in a balsamic recipe from the internet. 

Frozen beetroot, pickled beetroot & damson jam

Hubby checked the damsons and picked those that were ready and he made some damson jam.  Next was another batch of sweet cucumber relish as I had  4 ripe cucumbers. The weather forecast of sunshine this week seems to have disappeared but I did manage to dehydrate another batch of fruit.  The fruit leather will go on hold until I can guarantee a couple of days of drying weather.  
Peeled and seeded ready for dicing

Monday's evening meal was mushroom and vegetable risotto with a sprinkling of cheese.  I am trying to increase our meat free days to at least 7 a month.  Instead of meat I will use lentils, chickpeas, eggs. cheese, nuts, fish and other forms of protein which are healthier. 
Risotto is a  comfort food

I had the grandchildren for the last time on Monday and they will all be back at school by Wednesday so I have some time to myself at last.  I  am on a mission this week to get more of the garden tidied and get some decorating done. The house was completely painted four years ago  after it was newly plastered but it is staring to look tired in places.  We need some new bits and pieces  and I know its going to be a headache choosing things. More on that subject another day. Back soon, bye for now Tx

Thanks as always for all your lovely comments.  

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Making The Most The Bargains

Last month  I managed to pick up some yellow sticker meat. One large turkey drumstick for £1.22 and a packet of 5% steak mince for £2.41. So how many meals was I able to produce out of £3.63 of meat?

The turkey drumstick had the very end of the bone taken off by hubby so it would fit into the slow cooker. In with the turkey leg went a large onion, carrots, green beans and potatoes from the garden. A jar of Sainsbury's wine sauce bought on offer at 54p and a chicken stock cube. Once cooked I removed all the bones and we had it served with Yorkshire puddings, runner beans and kale from the garden. It provided us with a further two meals for two people. (I deleted the photos by accident and I can't get them back) 

Minced beef is such a versatile product but too much red meat isn't good for us so I always add another source of protein, 4oz of cooked green lentils. The  mince was browned with onion and garlic (lentils added) and divided up. One third of the mixture was placed in a separate pan with a stock cube, water, carrots and green beans. After simmering for 20 minutes the mix was thickened slightly with beef gravy granules before placing in a pyrex bowl. The rest of the mince had extra garlic added and our first greenhouse yellow pepper diced, homemade tomato sauce and mushrooms from the freezer, once cooked through,  a tablespoon of tomato puree was added to intensify the flavour. A butternut squash was peeled and sliced thinly on the mandolin to form lasagne sheets. I layered up a casserole dish with Sainsbury's dauphinoise sauce (44p) , squash, meat mixture, squash etc,  just as you would a lasagne. 
I only used half the meat mixture the rest was placed in a plastic container to be served as bolognaise with spaghetti or indeed make another lasagne in the future.  A cheese topping was added  and it was ready for the oven. I still had  half a jar of  dauphinoise sauce left so I cut more squash and made up two foil containers of butternut squash dauphinoise finishing the dish with some cheese. The leftover squash was boiled to make the topping for the cottage pie, so 3 x 2 meals were made from the mince. 

Indecently the DADx on the tub I used for the bolognaise was from daughter 2 who won the Suffolk Business Bake off last week and delivered hubby some of her winning lemon drizzle cake in.  I had already had some when I picked the children up. I digress, so £3.63 of meat with approximately £2.00 of extras(sauces, stock cubes, cheese, butternut squash) made us 6 meals for 2 people so less than 50p a head plus 2 squash dauphinoise side dishes that will be served with bacon chops and fresh kale. By the way the lasagne was so very, very good served with salad and  roasted beetroot. How do you stretch food and still make delicious dishes? Bye for now Tx. 

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

What A Difference A Day Makes

....24 little hours. And so the song goes but its so true.  Yesterday was a stifling 26 degrees with clear skies and brilliant sunshine. Today the temperature is struggling to reach 16 degrees with constant drizzle and wall to wall cloud. Everything in the garden and greenhouse is on its last spurts of growth so the slow and steady rain should do some good. The dehydrator was emptied last night and if the weather forecast for the next 10 days is to be believed it will be in constant use. 
New seals added to jars and filled with sundried goodness

Bank Holiday Monday was glorious and after a couple of jobs in the garden I was going to do some card making but hubby suggested we go out and we headed for Ardleigh car boot sale.  There was a lot of stalls there but it was so hot and no air lots of them were starting to pack up.  I saw a pyrex dish that I really should have bought  but didn't...stupid me! I could do with two more pyrex although I am considering buying the ones with the plastic lids so ready prepared dishes can be frozen. It will have to be a TK Max find as they are so expensive!
Handy for freezer to oven 

When we left Ardleigh hubby took off in the opposite direction to home and I asked him 'where are we going?' He replied 'Wait and see'. We arrived at Colchester Tollgate shopping centre a few minutes later. He headed for Boots the Chemist.  He then told me he had been after a present  for me and this was the only place that stocks it locally.  I suffer from hard skin on my heels and I have tried everything to keep it at bay.  Apparently dry skin is a result of having an underactive thyroid.  When he took the box down from the shelf I gulped at the price £59.99 but hubby said it was on offer for £39.98 so I whipped out my phone to check.
Love my present although I fear I may lose an inch in height over the next year!

At the till the assistant checked the price too and it was £39.98 hubby handed over his credit card but I asked him to wait a moment as I knew I had a coupon in my bag. I knew we would be awarded triple points but I had a double points coupon and a 150 extra points on foot care products.  The triple and double points went through although I'm not entirely sure but the 150 didn't and the assistant couldn't explain why but I will write to Boots and ask. I did get a whopping 633 points  £6.33 to spend on my Boots card in the future.
Points, double, triple I'm CONFUSED

We returned home late afternoon and I did manage to get some card making done, in between  preparing dinner. I still need to make some envelopes.
Cards for the boys

I hope you had a great weekend and bank holiday. Bye for now.  TX

Monday, 28 August 2017

Preserving all ways

Jo at Smallholderwannabe requested that I post my sweet cucumber relish recipe so here we are: 

  • 2 lbs cucumbers, peeled, center row of seeds removed, and finely diced
  • 1 medium onion finely diced ( I used red for extra colour)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, finely diced (I used half red, half yellow for colour)
  • 1 stalk of finely diced celery (or heaped teaspoon of celery salt)
  • 1oz salt
  • 6oz white granulated sugar
  • 400ml cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown mustard seed
  • 1 bay leaf (optional)
Place the diced cucumbers, onion, and red bell pepper in a large mixing bowl. Combine with the salt and pour water over the mixture until just covered. Let sit for at least 6 hours or overnight.
  • Drain the cucumber mixture in a colander, rinse thoroughly with water, and drain well.
  • In a large stock pot, add the sugar, vinegar, and mustard seed and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the drained cucumber mixture and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
  • Ladle the hot relish into sterile jars, leaving ¼ inch of headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars clean and seal tightly with the lids.
  • Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. (The 3 jars I made fitted  into my deep pressure cooker pan. Boiling water was added to the start of the neck of the jar)
  • Sealed jars will store in a cool, dark place for a year. If the seal is broken, the relish will keep in the fridge for a month.
This is a basic recipe found all over the internet, I did notice that some people add a teaspoon of cornflour near the end of the cooking process to produce a syrupy sauce. I may try that next week when I do some more, as I felt there wasn't enough liquid and the cucumbers are still coming thick and fast!

The solar dehydrator has also been in action this week as we've had some lovely sunshine. I'm so chuffed its working a treat. We put pears, apples, plums, banana and tomatoes in there and they taste delicious especially the bananas so I've just filled it again.  Hubby wanted to try thicker slices so again we experiment to see what works and what doesn't. The weather forecast for this week is excellent so it will be filled with goodies every time its emptied. 
I bought some new kilner jar seals last year after finding the blackberry vodka was evaporating because the seal was as knackered. My jars are old but I want to use them for the dry produce so I'm hoping the new seals will do the trick. I will sterilise them this week and change the seals but in the mean time the dried produce is being kept in plastic containers. I'm also hoping that some of the  damson plums are ready midweek so I can make firstly jam but also try some fruit leather in the dehydrator. 

The 4 courgettes I picked yesterday were literally washed, dried, sliced, placed in a bag in the freezer ready to be added to casseroles, stews and soups. How is your preserving going? This month I have made relish, pickled, frozen and dehydrated produce so that it can be used throughout the winter. I have just found a Balsamic Vinegar Beetroot pickling recipe that I will definitely try as I find the  normal too harsh even with sugar added.  The front garden needs an hour spending on it, a few things need tidying and then I will be relaxing  making some cards. Enjoy the bank holiday. Bye for now. Tx

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Manic But Enjoyable Week

Firstly many thanks for all the great comment on my post TRUST ME, very interesting reading indeed. 

Well this week has been manic, three and a half days were spent looking after grandchildren. My daughter managed to join me on Thursday and we met at the Air Show in Clacton.  I haven't been for many years and it was something my children loved along with the Radio One summer visit to the Greensward each year.  

I took a pack-up to keep costs down as I knew they'd all want an ice cream at some point in the day which cost £14 because they didn't have any small 99's left! Don't you just hate it when they know it will be the top seller but don't cater for it forcing you to buy a dearer replacement! We found a space on the packed beach and the children played until the show began, no one was  allowed in the water when there are aircraft overhead. Once the tide went out we were able to spread ourselves out a bit more.  The show opened with six parachutists landed on the shore near us. The height from which they dropped was incredible.  Some carried huge flags and they were all very accurate hitting the target area. 

The show was fantastic and the grandchildren loved it especially the red arrows. The plumes of coloured smoke making patterns in the sky while they performed intricate rolls, twists and turns was unbelievable.  
Unfortunately the photos are from my phone and it doesn't do them justice. Furthermore it was so sunny (shouldn't complain) that I couldn't actually see the screen, I was literally pointing and shooting willy nilly! But after all the fun comes the hard work of sorting the garden which gets a little neglected when I'm out and about.  

So I spent 2 hours in the greenhouse yesterday sorting all plants, I got rid of all the pepper plants that hadn't produced any fruit.  I took down 3 tomato plants that had collapsed and due to the weight of the tomatoes.

All the green ones went on a tray to ripen in the conservatory. The butternut squash was thinned out to allow the 2 huge quashes to ripen and perhaps a couple of small ones to grow over the next few weeks. 

The cylinder beetroot is just great. If you've never tried it  Its been a far better producer than the normal round.  I have just pulled more and hubby cooked them ready for meals this week.  Some I may put in balsamic vinegar for a change.  

We have a row of potatoes left in the ground and I'm trying to chit some from a pack I bought cheap last week if they produce over the winter all well and good.  The greenhouse and garden were tidied, all the greenery was shredded and put in the compost bin to break down quicker.  The old compost put in a large bin,  this will have manure added to it this week and turned regularly to rot down over he winter. As soon as there is any 'greenery' compost ready this will be added to it. All pots and trays  were washed in diluted Jeyes fluid then dried thoroughly before being packed away for next year.

Doing a little bit here and there will pay dividends later when everything starts coming to an end and the garden goes to sleep for winter.  My thoughts are already turning to starting seeds off next year.  I think I'll invest in a heated propagator so I don't have the disaster of losing the first peppers like I did this year.  I think by the time the new one took it reduced the growing period.  I still have about 20 or so peppers so I shouldn't complain.  It all saves us money. Bye for now. Tx

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

TRUST ME (an off the wall post)

I want to tell you a story.....have you been watching TRUST ME on BBC One  9pm on a Tuesday night.  This four part series  centres around  Cath Hardacre, played by Jodie Whittaker the soon to be Dr Who.  Cath is a brilliant nurse who is later suspended from the NHS after whistleblowing about the neglect of patients in hospital. Suddenly without a means of income to support her daughter an opportunity presents itself when her best friend Ally who is a Doctor moves to New Zealand leaving behind all her  qualifications. Cath steels her friends identity and moves to Edinburgh to take up the position as a qualified doctor. 

Tonight is episode number 3 and I can't wait, I'm hooked and the reason I'm hooked is I once worked with a Registered General Nurse who practised as a nurse but didn't have a qualification to her name. Not even a first aid certificate. When the children started school I went to University as a mature student.  I worked every Friday night in a nursing home to earn some money towards running my car, books and general household bills. 

One Friday I arrived at work and as usual waited in the main office for our shift briefing.  This was a verbal report regarding new patients, care plans for terminal cases and 'to do list'. The regular sister arrived in the office very flustered and apologised for her lateness only she had been sorting out staff shortages.  We normally worked as a team of 5 on nights, 2 qualified and 3 auxiliary staff. This particular night we would work as 4 auxiliary and 1 qualified nurse from an agency who still hadn't arrived.  

At 10 we were introduced briefly to an RGN named Anne and we went about our rounds as normal. The briefing earlier had stated 2 patients needed new catheters and  during our rounds we presented Anne with the tray laid up ready to change the catheter.  One member of staff would stay with the nurse as a chaperone for the patient and staff witness. However when we reached the first room she said she wished to do it by herself and we were dismissed. 

Anne continued to work at the nursing home for a few months and the small anomalies continued.  Dressings that should have been  changed weren't. Stitches that should have been removed were left in place and there was always a reason why. Staff started to notice more and more things and reported it to management. One night she was told to change a catheter as the patient was having a problems urinating. Again we were not allowed to be present and she clearly reported in the patient notes that it had been done. The next day the patient was asked had it been changed and they said no.  Eventually after pressure from staff management contacted the Agency who in turn contacted the Police.

The police entered her property and found that not only did she have quite a selection of nurses uniforms including all the badges, she also had Police and a Traffic Warden uniform. She was arrested and a court date was set, then delayed while psychiatric reports were undertaken. She received a prison sentence suspended for 12 months. But was ordered to undertake psychiatric treatment. This situation had a profound effect on the staff many of whom stuck their necks out to complain but were made out to be trouble makers.  

The lesson I learnt from this was never be afraid to ask and be vocal.  If someone does something  you are uncomfortable with or indeed doesn't feel right.....say so. Have you ever witnessed anything like this? Only this week a man has been imprisoned for pretending to be a solicitor who  cheated some poor soles out of hundreds of thousands of pounds. His uniform was a pin stripped suit, crisp clean  shirts and shiny shoes.  He had a smattering of legal knowledge obtained when he was a temp at a law firm. 

Bye for now. Tx

Monday, 21 August 2017

Slowing Down & What I've Learned

The recent  cooler wet weather has certainly had an effect on the plants in the garden.  Does anyone else believe our summers have changed?  We seem to have our hottest weather from mid May,  June and July.  Not only have the daily temperatures dropped in August, the mornings and evenings are feeling quite autumnal. The runner beans and dwarf green  beans have slowed right down which has given us a bit of respite, we were on bean overload! Its been nice to have some salads the last few days for a change.  The greenhouse is still producing a lot of cucumbers and tomatoes.  I made some sweet cucumber relish which is lovely with cold meats. 
I've been busy making labels

The peppers are getting bigger but they're still green. I still have beetroot, potatoes, kale, carrots and courgettes growing outside.  By far the best producing potatoes are a pack of small eating potatoes  I bought from Lidl.  I cooked the bigger ones in the pack and allowed the other to chit in the conservatory.  They have produced far more than any seed potato I've bought so I will do the same next year.  I will also grow cylinder beetroot instead of the round as you get more per plant. I would also start almost all my seeds of in damp tissue as this method have proved so successful. Hubby helped me make marmalade, this time I used the Ma Made tin of Seville oranges.  One half of the can made the straightforward orange marmalade the other I added  ginger. I have used some small jars so they can be given as presents. 

We are waiting for our neighbours plums to ripen.  We have 3 branches in our garden and John has asked if we want them cut back......certainly not while they've got tons of fruit on them.  Hubby has made a cradle as they are so heavy.  Luckily our neighbours don't eat the fruit so we have a field day with plums and pears. Our own pear tree had lots of fruit on it as well as the strawberries and raspberries that are producing again.  

This 'rude vegetable' funny came up on my Facebook page this morning and it brought a smile to my face! I hope it does the same for you on this Monday morning
And while we are on the subject of rude vegetables....... an 'X' rated carrot. 

Bye for now.  Tx  

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Lists to save money

Firstly apologies for the lack of posts this week, the days have run away with me.  I have been very busy working in the garden and making stuff.  More on that next week. Now to the post I started at the beginning of the week!

Are you a list person? I hold my hands up I am.  I personally believe that writing lists has been the one thing that has helped me save the most money whether it be a meal plan, shopping list, budget plan or garden planting scheme. Since getting my new laptop I have been without the Microsoft OFFICE program and its been hard. After spending a couple of evenings looking for a copy that wasn't £50+ I got one from Amazon for £14.70. It was very simple to download and best of all an absolute BARGAIN. I use Microsoft Office for my card making, letter writing, label making, rental property expenses, tax returns and LISTS.

I have a spreadsheet of birthdays which includes ages for children or special birthdays for adults which I update each year.

I have a photo of the spreadsheet on  a my phone so when I'm out and about and I see a potential present I can refer to my list to see if it is suitable for anyone on there. When I called in at Asda for milk  Monday evening I saw they had put the 'Sale' clothes rails in foyer. Each month normally on the 20th I receive one of my pensions its only a small one of £33 (£42 before tax).  I walk the mile the mile to the local COOP and pay £33 into my share account. This is my birthday and Christmas present fund and as long as I can make savings like this along the way as well as making bits it is normally sufficient to cover everything. 

Thanks to the reductions I got 6  presents for £20 instead of £38. I remove any stickers on the clothes as the glue can damage the fabric during storage. I update my list accordingly and take a new photo. 

Hubby's company provide its workforce access to a REWARDS SCHEME which we have only dabbled with up until now. But I am seriously starting to think it would be advantageous to start using the reloadable card scheme. For example if I put £50 on a Boots card I will pay £44 because of the 12% discount.  It offers savings of 4% on Asda  and Sainsbury's which is good when you think you wouldn't get that on a savings account.  So I'm going to put £500 on an ASDA card in November, £100 on Sainsbury's, £50 on Boots.  You can also print instant vouchers for Argos which is great so we can  not only take advantage of the 7% discount but also the spend £100 and get £10 voucher or  £5 on £50 when they have it. 
When I receive notifications from Sainsbury's saying the 25% of TU is on, I'll check to see if there is anything worth having.  I love their underwear and it is definitely comparable with M&S which is now ridiculously expensive.  If I use the card and take advantage of the discount it could add up to 29% more in the case of Asda (54%). Boots have some fantastic stuff in their Christmas sales so again an optimum time to use the card.  

Do you belong to a reward scheme? Do you use it?  I think as prices rise continuously I have to get smarter with money. 

I promise to do better with regard to posts next week.  Have a lovely weekend.  Back soon. Tx 

Monday, 14 August 2017

Its getting harder!

Looking after the grandchildren is definitely getting harder as they get older and we get older. Our youngest daughters children are 12 and 6 and we  have just had them for 4 days, when we finally got home last evening we just about put everything away before we slumped on the sofa totally exhausted.  Unfortunately hubby has been providing holiday cover at work for the last 2 weeks and will be for the next 4 so he is  working  4 days each week instead of his normal 2. OUCH! 

The boredom threshold of children seems to be very low probably because of living in this technological era. Don't get me wrong they were very good when were out and we only saw them at the beach when they wanted a drink or food but the minute we would walk back in the house it was: Can I use your old iPad granddad ? Can I use your tablet nanny? I honestly think they can't sit and do nothing. I suppose every generation has gone through different things. When I was little young (as the grandchildren would still say I'm little) the only daytime television was a 30 minutes 'Watch with Mother' slot at lunchtime then you were back to the test card until teatime!

After rinsing all the wetsuits, lifejackets and kayak seats this morning I went around the garden as usual collecting anything that was ready.  The runner beans are slowing down and so are the dwarf beans.  I gave everything a good feed hoping that I get a few more harvests from the plants.  The large tomatoes are ripening now and I may try a few in the dehydrator. Each large tomato is almost 110g...YUM!

The first lot of sundried tomatoes has already been used on top of pizza and salads.  The small lot I did yesterday was made into sundried tomato paste. We are having kale bubble and squeak, runner beans, carrots  with lamb quarter pounders tonight. I'll prep the rhubarb ready for a crumble tomorrow when I can utilise the oven with some other dishes.  

I think I'm going to have to do what I used to see my grandparents doing this afternoon and have forty winks.

I can't stop yawning

Bye for now. Tx