Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Thrifty Times :: March Update

Hello again lovelies,
so, here's my latest monthly update on my attempts to make this family more thrifty and build our savings. Because everybody needs something put by for a rainy day (or a major purchase or  for Christmas...or just to cover regular big expenses) and we were sadly lacking in that department.

This month our house insurance came up for renewal and that was a big expense last year.  I'm happy to say I managed to make a good saving. For the same sort of cover we already had I found lots of cheaper offers on one of the price comparison web sites. I didn't choose the cheapest but went with a well established company and the difference was still over £400!

When I called my existing provider to let them know I wanted to cancel they almost immediately told me they had a "new product" I could change to. The cost of it was about the same as the deal I had found.  This made me a bit cross really...but it just goes to show challenging a renewal quote is always a good idea. 

In other areas I've continued to try and cut back on day to day spending. 
I'm still finding using cash is an effective way to control this. It does mean there's less chance of treating myself to flowers, but happily the garden can provide those again now spring is here.

I did break my rule of not buying any more plants this buy this raspberry bush. I'm hoping the fruit it produces will save us money...that's the theory anyway.

I'm still attempting grocery shopping savings. We have found some value lines are Morrisons spaghetti and Bran Flakes...but Aldi's Bran flakes are not so good (in my opinion).

 I've stocked up when I've seen items on offer that have a long shelf life that I know we will use. I even bought some Brandy Sauce for next Christmas!.....any body else started their Christmas shopping yet? :0)

I've tried to some buy local , seasonal produce too. I loved finding these leeks from my home county in the supermarket. They made great Leek and Potato soup.
Yes my old veg. peeler is held together with tape, but it works. I'm in no hurry to buy a new one.

I took the next picture last week when I had just had my hair cut. In the distant past I have paid a lot of money to hairdressers and still not been that happy with the results.

When I was pregnant with my twins I asked the midwife to recommend a local hairdresser as I knew I wouldn't have time to travel to my old one.
 When the boys were about a month old I had a "wet trim" as I was breast feeding and couldn't be way for long. It was a bit of an "old lady salon" but the hairdresser was lovely and did a great job for a fraction of the cost I had been paying.
16 years later I'm still going and still not paying for a blow dry...yes I have the time to have one now...but I don't really see the point. I can do it myself for almost nothing.

Also on the subject of personal grooming,  I saw Aldi's face cream recommended on a few blogs and decided to give it a try. After using it for about six weeks I am happy to agree that it is as effective as my previous product. 

I was also using cleansing wipes to remove make up but I didn't like the cost or the amount of waste they created. I bought this cleansing water in Home Bargains for 99p. It does a better job. A small amount on a cotton wool pad easily removes waterproof mascara.

Next up, how do you like my attempts to make soap last longer? 
Hubby likes to use bar soap but it often turned into "soap soup" in the dish. Storing it on a dry sponge lets in dry out between uses.

Another thing hubby likes is to have a go on the Lottery. In fact he spent about £10 a week on it until recently. His excuse was he doesn't smoke or go out drinking. I'm glad about that, but I still felt it was a waste of money. He very rarely won anything. The odds of winning are staggeringly bad.

Happily now he only occasionally has a Lucky Dip. I don't begrudge him that.

 Staying away from the shops has got to be a good way of saving money. I'm lucky my favourite pastime is very frugal. Spending one of my days off walking brings me so much happiness and health well as keeping me away from temptation.

The membership fee is £5 a great is that.

One of my goals for March was to avoid using the tumble drier now the weather is getting better.

I didn't manage to stop using it altogether but it was only single figures as I kept an eye on the weather forecast and took advantage of every dry day, finishing the drying on an airer indoors if needed.

Phew, this is turning into another long post. Hope you don't mind. Shall we talk mobile phones now?

I have a contract phone that is coming up for renewal in a couple of months. My provider is already calling me offering a "free upgrade" I've politely turned then down. While the handset I have still works it makes economical and environmental sense to me to keep it. I will also try and get a cheaper deal for the calls.
I have a contract that covers much more data and minutes than I actually use but in the past I've still paid extra for some strange reason.
 I've finally worked out it was multimedia messages that were the culprits. No more adding photos or even those harmless seeming Emojis to texts messages for me. The most you will get is this :) or this X .
 I save my emoji fix for Instagram...and only use that via wi-fi :0)

I've continued to enjoy baking simple, frugal cakes .

Old favourites I know will go down well with the family, like this Lemon Drizzle.

Here I was baking cup cakes and I came across some chocolate chips at the back of the cupboard. Yes they were out of date by a few months...but it's only a guide. They smelt fine, and tasted fine. They went in  the mix :0)

I'm old enough to remember when lots of food items didn't have any "use by" or "best before" guide. I use my own judgement to decide what's safe to eat...but I'm always cautious with meat. I don't use that after the advised date.

When Youngest ripped his blazer I looked for black thread in my messy sewing box but couldn't find any so I bought more. When I got around to tidying up the guessed it..there was black thread there all along.

 It's just a small example of me needing to be more organised so I know what we already have and therefore avoid unnecessary purchases.

I like the Make do and Mend mentality for it's environmental and money saving benefits.

Another saying I'm trying to keep in mind is Reduce, Reuse , Recycle. The words are in that order for a reason. The most environmental benefit comes from reducing your usage, then reusing something, with recycling as the third option. I do try to reuse some things and have started to look at more items I can apply this to. Aluminium foil flan cases are quiet robust, so I've saved some of these to make and freeze home made quiche. I also rinse out the plastic bags cereal comes in these days. They make great bags for all sorts of things.

Of course you may be reading this and thinking that it all seems a bit weird. That's OK. If some people think I've turned into a bit of a nutcase that's their prerogative. It all makes sense to me though. Lots of small saving will help my purse and our planet. 

You can read my previous thrifty posts HERE and HERE. Do take a look at the comments as there is some wonderful advise within them too.

Thank you for joining me on this thrifty journey.
Jacquie x

Thursday, 23 March 2017

The First Group Walk of Spring

All through the winter my walking group heads out. Week in, week out.
 I do like winter walking (when the weather plays ball and there is not too much mud!) but I am glad it's officially spring now.

Today we even saw the first leaves unfurling on the Horse-chestnut trees.

I loved this super tidy Lodge house.

and I always love a waterfall....even if it's man made.

the passage behind the tumbling water adds to the fun.

We were walking through the Newstead Abbey estate at this point. Oh look, pretty Daisies by the lake.

The ruined Abbey looked lovely in the sunshine.

And the Yarn bombing made me smile.

It was lunchtime, so we sat in the sunshine and ate our picnic. Then I had to try and see if I could get a good photo of a beautiful Peacock who was sunbathing by the house wall.

I got quiet close and he still seemed relaxed.

Ooooh those colours. The blue was so vivid and the iridescent Teal flashes were stunning.

He seemed to be enjoying the sunshine as much as we were.

It was such a treat to get so close to this beautiful bird.

and hard to tear myself away from this idyllic spot.

Most trees are still bare and the woodland was filled with sunlight.

Ooooh, a picture perfect cottage.

There were daffodils everywhere.

and Pink trees too.

The village of Linby looked gorgeous in the afternoon sun.

I really enjoyed today's 10 mile walk and I'm so looking forward to discovering more new walks this spring.
 This will be my third spring walking with these friendly folk...I'm always glad I was brave enough to join them.
Jacquie x

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

A Little bit of Drawing

 Hello Lovelies,
On Saturday Mum and I enjoyed an outing to Melbourne in Derbyshire to visit an art exhibition.

 We had a pleasant look around and (as usual) mum got chatting to somebody....and chatting...and chatting. I was happy she was having a conversation with a fellow artist and decided to sneak out and have a quick look around the streets of this pretty and characterful town.

 I stumbled upon a courtyard of shops called Potters Yard

 and took  this photo.

I loved all the interesting angles and wealth of chimney pots, the old bricks and the pretty windows.
The next day, Sunday, was cold and windy and looked like rain. We stayed home and I decided to attempt a drawing of my photo.

First pencil, then pen. Then the really fun part, coloured pencil.

By the evening the picture was almost complete.

Then work got in the way.

 Happily today I found the time to add the finishing touches..Ta-Dah.

I added some people and the cat, as I like to see a bit of life in a picture. I think it turned out quiet well to say I don't practice my drawing skills very often. I have to wait for inspiration, and this spot provided me with just that. I'm sure the exhibition contributed too.

Jacquie x

P.S. I'm not sure about the strange pigeon on the looks like s fish to me :0)
P.P.S. Anybody spot Tom Tit?

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Daffodil Delight

It's been a mostly chilly and often rainy day here today. I set of to walk to the local shops between showers, but  immediately wished I had picked up my umbrella. Despite the damp conditions the roadside Daffodils made me smile.

Immediately my mood improved and I had to stop and capture their cheeriness. There are so many different sorts aren't there. I loved the contrasting colours and frilly trumpets of this variety.

A little further down the road it was the perfusion of blossom that caught my eye.

The florist had a lovely display of spring flowers and the streets felt welcoming and springlike despite the weather. 

When I came out of the shops the sun was even shining a little and the Daffodils by the church glowed.

I loved the mini Daffodils outside the shops.

the under-planting with blue pansies looked so effective.

 And outside the primary school the railings have planters on top. Such a great idea to bring these tiny scented narsissi up to nose height.

 Back home it my own garden the only flowers are yellow. Primroses, Forsythia and of course, Daffodils.

I like to stick mostly with the miniature variety as they don't look so messy when they have finished flowering.

 I love Daffodil season and having the time to really notice all the lovely displays around our village today was such a treat. And, completely by coincidence, I was dressed to co-ordinate :0)

 I do love these flower pins sold in aid of a very worth cause.

Indoors there was more Daffodil cheeriness to make me smile.

A local walk to the shops could have been so very uninspiring, but thanks to these spring beauties it turned into the highlight of my day.

I'll finish this post with my favourite ode to this special flower......

She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,
She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind
And curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbour:
"Winter is dead.” 

Jacquie x