Monday 31 December 2018


Had to go out the house today to get some chores and non food shopping done. Having got my feet wet on numerous occasions walking Ruby, I went to find some boots, eventually settling on these:

Just over £48 in Dobies, fur lined. I don't mind the colour, at least people should be able to see me at a distance as I tend to wear dark coats!

Saturday 29 December 2018

Spooky or what!

Are they weird looking or what? The new header is of the gang of our grand dogs that came to stay with us over Christmas.

Poor Ruby (on the left of the new header). She was flying around as happy as larry yesterday but by 7pm she was throwing up. After 3 vomits (bringing up more than just her tea), several carpet clean ups, she seemed to have finished.

Despite having towels, newspapers, rags and us on hand, she managed each time, to do it all over the carpet. Twice in the lounge and once on the inside of the front door when we couldn't get it open quickly enough. Luckily, unlike human sick, it doesn't have the same smell otherwise I would have been sick as well:(

Today, she is as bright as a button, going to the toilet okay and although she should not be eating for a while, will have a small portion of scrambled egg and boiled rice to see how she is with it. We were worried she might have something stuck in her bowel but it looks more like she might have eaten something that didn't agree with her.

The house is back to normal. Christmas was put away yesterday, the last of the guest and dog washing is underway and we have moved things around in the lounge and dining room to see how it feels.

Thursday 27 December 2018

I get so annoyed....

When I arrive at the shops to find I have forgotten the shopping list!

As it happened, we only forgot two items and they can wait. Luckily DB had glanced at the menu for this week, so at least we had some idea. Squash and sponge puddings were added to our shop as that is what our food bank is requesting. We also bought a Christmas tablecloth and napkins for another year. The shops were empty and we resisted all temptation to stock up on reduced Christmas food, none of which we wanted or needed.

After the departure yesterday of our visitors, Ruby slept almost the rest of the day and evening. Hoovering was done, as was a general tidy up. Today and tomorrow their bedding, plus the dog stuff will be washed. Finally, by the weekend, after dusting and putting everything away, we shall be straight.

We have decided in the new year to move items in a few rooms around to try and get them of more use to us. The flow isn’t quite right.

Wednesday 26 December 2018


All I can say is, thank goodness our grand dogs are so well trained. Ruby has had a whale of a time playing with her sister. Master L., showed a mild interest in Ruby for about 3 days before her sister came on heat Christmas Eve!

Slight chaos is now in progress as her sister has turned into a right hussy.

Everyone departs this morning where I think more ‘fun’ will be had down south, as they all arrive at the home of DDiL, where 3 dogs will be waiting, including a newly neutered dog!!!

Master L had to be in the kitchen last night, kept waking us up. He had to go in their bedroom the night before, never normally allowed in the bedrooms. However, he kept waking them up all night, hence being in the kitchen last night. When the pack is together, they are all usually quiet but he kept chunting quietly quite a bit. DS kept coming out to him:( DB as ever, heard nothing.

Ah well.....

Sunday 23 December 2018

Soggy bottom ...

We went to the beach yesterday to give the dogs a good run around. Ruby was not impressed having to share a crate with Master L. She whinged the whole way there!

The tide was quite far out so we had to traverse a few gullies to get there. A suitable running around time followed.

On the way back, the tide was coming in and the gullies were deeper. We crossed most okay but the last one was too deep for my shoes. DS offered to piggyback me across it. It took me an age to get on his back!

Halfway across he decided to speed up and just as we got across he started to lower me down. Not a good move as I wasn’t ready and clung on more tightly, toppling us both over. In the chaos that followed, I lost my footing and fell into the edge of the gully flat on my back, getting half submerged. He half tumbled in getting his arms soaked.

I was laughing by then and being desperate to go to the loo, wet myself! The brief flash of warmth was most welcome  but after that I got even colder.

A wet walk back to the car, a damp drive home and a very welcome change of clothing, cup of tea and a biscuit helped.

Friday 21 December 2018

A game...

I visited a friend for a Christmas cup of coffee and a couple of mince pies! We had a good catch up natter then she asked if I knew how to play Uno.

Like me, she is a visual learner and needs to play games, to understand them. After three rounds she got the basics enough to be able to play it with her grandchildren over Christmas.

I walked home in the rain.

Thursday 20 December 2018


DS and DDiL, plus dogs, arrived yesterday evening. The usual chaos ensued for a short while, whilst the dogs got reacquainted, then peace fell.

Ruby and her sister D, are playing constantly today. L, is sniffing Ruby who has passed her fertile stage but still smells interesting. M and S, are keeping themselves away from it all!

We have done our last food shop for Christmas, very early, even then it was starting to get busy. Once Christmas is over, I shall start topping up my Brexit box which got put on hold.

Wednesday 19 December 2018

Advocaat Muffins with frosting...

Having made an Advocaat cake the other day, see here, and deciding we didn't particularly like the chocolate in it, the recipe was adapted.

Using half the recipe and no chocolate, the mixture had 8 cocktail cherries chopped into it before putting into muffin tins. These were baked for 25 minutes at 190C:
Top view:
Once cold, I made up a small amount of frosting using 25g butter, 150g icing sugar and 38ml of Advocaat. Using a 1" ice cream scoop,  I managed to cover all 8 muffins. The final decoration was 1/2 a cocktail cherry:
They were put into the fridge just long enough to help set the frosting. I am not a fan of butter icing but these were to serve with a Christmas cup of tea with our walking buddies, so I decorated the muffins with them in mind. DB and I shared one with a cup of tea. Very nice!

Tuesday 18 December 2018

It’s madness out there!

I had an early morning dentist checkup. DB came with me, so we could pop to a shop afterwards.
Just as well as traffic was at a standstill for the shops.

Luckily, by the time I had finished, the queue was less and we got some of what we wanted.

All guest presents are now delivered and wrapped. A final one, to ourselves, should arrive today. Our weekly shop later this week should see us through this first festive period. We will be on our own for the New Year, probably eating leftovers, so nothing extra to do for that.

We nipped over to the dog trainer for coffee and mince pie and to pick up 3 weeks worth of raw food for Ruby. We left her at home to be on the safe side.

After 2 1/2 weeks lead walking on pavements, we finally went in the woods. Two women were walking intact males and kept them off lead, much to our annoyance. One sniffed Ruby’s rear end, she growled and kept her tail firmly locked down. Guess she has finished her heat then, which we thought she had.

Monday 17 December 2018

How could one biscuit.....

Make such a mess!

I had been for a much delayed massage this morning. DB had a pot of tea and a biscuit ready for when I got in.

Dunking said biscuit into my tea, one large chunk fell off. Instead of falling into the tea, as per usual, it took a detour.

Hitting the side of my mug, it rolled down my pale cardigan, hitting it in 4 places. It wasn’t finished. It plonked onto my jeans then drizzled down (luckily) onto the cream dog protection covering on the armchair.

Being a caramel and chocolate chip biscuit, it looked like someone had been ill all over me.

All the chair covers and the cardigan are in the washer. My jeans, after a thorough clean, live to fight another day.

Saturday 15 December 2018

If at first you don't succeed....

Try again.

We weren't sure whether Ruby would try and get our Christmas cards which are normally fixed to our internal doors on ribbons. Just to be on the safe side, DB attached some ribbon (ends wrapped in sellotape to stop the drawing pin splitting it) to the hall ceiling with said drawing pins:

For two consecutive mornings, the ribbon had pulled away from the tape and therefore the pins, and all the cards were on the floor.

Eventually, we tied small loops in the ends of some waxed string and tried again, this time successfully:
As we quite like the cards up there, the string will go in our Christmas box for future years.

Friday 14 December 2018

Making a special cake...

It seems I am doing nothing but bake at the moment, it too shall pass...

We decided to try an Advocat cake, courtesy of Elaine over at Mortgage Free in Three, see here.
  • 250 g Margarine or butter
  • 250 g sugar (I reduced this to 225g)
  • 250 g SR Flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 175 ml Advocat
  • 100g plain chocolate

It certainly tasted of Advocat but I am not too keen on the chocolate as it is quite powerful. When we make it again, I shall half the recipe, leave out the chocolate (making it less calorific and less expensive), add a few diced cocktail cherries and make muffins.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday 13 December 2018

Tick and tick

Finally gotten around to making some sausage rolls:
and our last minute Christmas Cake (which I prefer) from Delia Smiths Christmas cook book:
It might get decorated, it might not, depends how I feel.

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Wednesday 12 December 2018

Chocolate and pistachio (or other nut) freezer fudge

I don't normally like fudge as it is way too sweet for my taste. This recipe we both like although for some reason this year, it turned out very chocolatey! It could be that we accidentally picked up a reduced fat tin of condensed milk or maybe last time I made it, I didn't use just dark chocolate. It has to live in the freezer or fridge otherwise it turns into a gooey mess! Here is the original Nigella link here.

12oz high cocoa dark chocolate (or half this amount and good milk chocolate)
14oz can condensed milk
Pinch salt
1oz butter
5 1/4oz pistachio or other nuts.

Put nuts in a bag and smash into small chunks with a rolling pin.
Put everything else (except the nuts) into a bowl over a pan of hot water. Allow to melt stirring occasionally. Make sure the bowl doesn't touch the water.

Stir in the nuts and combine. Pour into a 9" square silicone tin, this allows it to be turned out once set. Put into fridge and allow to set.
Turn out and cut into 3/4" squares. Her sized squares are too large and sickly. Store in the fridge or freezer.

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Poor old Ruby

She is certainly different whilst on heat, very clingy. If she could get inside your legs she would.

Everytime DB sits at the dining room table, there she is:
Little paw in constant touch - ah!

Same whilst we are sitting down in the lounge, or in the kitchen, as close to the safety gate as possible.

She watched us decorate the tree without a care in the world, just a quick sniff and so far, she has totally ignored it.

Mind you, talking about her heat. We think, that after just 10 days, she may have finished. She is dry, swelling starting to go down, tail flagging has gone away and she no longer thrusts her bottom into us. Now, watch that statement come back to bite us! We shall continue to keep her on a lead for walks and watch her for another two weeks just to be sure.

Monday 10 December 2018

Oh Christmas Tree Oh Christmas Tree

We got our tree up (in both senses of the word) last weekend. We are currently using only the middle and top portions (5') due to Ruby but she hasn't actually been too near it. Maybe next year, we can go back to its full 8' size. It is also sitting on top of a unit just in case!

During the day with lights on:
And in the evening:

Sunday 9 December 2018

Home made postal Christmas gifts reveal...

Some family members have Christmas gifts sent to them. I like to make or re-purpose things. They must be able to fit into a large letter size bag to save postage. No point making something only to spend £3 per gift to send it!

One year I sewed defunct tea towels into vegetable storage bags for the fridge. I have crocheted dishcloths. This year, still adjusting to having Ruby with us, time ran away with me. After a bit of a rummage and a think, I made labels for presents. I picked some bay leaves from the garden to dry. Using a glue gun and adding a slice of dehydrated orange to an address label they turned into these:
Then walking at Wells one day, we came back through the woods and found thin chips of pine bark lying on the floor:
There were just 4 slices left over and as I had made enough labels to give away, added a star anise to each one for little decorations for the dining room:
There is enough room to write on the bottom of each label and the dining room shelf smells wonderful with the star anise and orange slices.

Friday 7 December 2018

We have used up.....

A good portion of our Christmas savings on both food and presents. Little ‘secret santa’ Christmas Eve presents are bought as are most of DS’s and DDiL’s. I have taken cash from the amount to buy those for DB otherwise receipts put on the money programme, would give them away. I still have to complete his shopping. Presents for locals, walking buddies and family members have been put to one side, or already dispatched.

Christmas cards were posted, still local ones to deliver. All in all, we are slowly getting there!

The bacon and pork fillet, plus stuffing are in the freezer ready for the big day. We have ordered a dry cured ham to pick up, then freeze next week.

I forgot about my massage, as we were late up, then had to clean and sort out Ruby, then go shopping. I phoned to apologise and offer the cash but she said no and has booked me in for next week, thank goodness.

Ruby is on day 7 of her first heat cycle. I think we may have missed a day or two of her first stage, proestrus as she has been on standing heat, second stage Estrus, since Monday. Hopefully she might start to subside by the end of next week, if we are lucky. Good job her tail position let’s us know what stage she is at!

Hope to begin putting up the decorations this weekend. Have a good weekend folks.

Wednesday 5 December 2018

Preventing winter ailments in our childhood

I remember having to take a large spoonful of cod liver oil, on its own, nothing added or anything given afterwards to take away the dreadful taste. I would fight against it but never won!

Another once or twice a winter ingredient, we had for years, was a very large spoonful of "Brimstone and Treacle' (or in our case, golden syrup instead of the treacle). It had a strong paste like consistency and taste, was quite yellow and the syrup was needed not only to bind it but help it go down. An interesting article on sulphur can be found here.

On very cold days, before heading off to school, we were given a Victory V lozenga, something I still love to this day but do wish it was in a better shape to help with the sucking. I don't think it did anything to help but was enjoyable nonetheless.

On occasions, we were given an iodine tablet to suck, it was horrible and stained your tongue for hours.

I am sure there must have been more things but can't remember. Do you remember being given anything to ward off winter ills?

Tuesday 4 December 2018

Things I made earlier and forgot about...

Our small amount of jam was not going to last for all of winter so I made another batch:
Thawed blackberries were sieved to remove their pips, they were added to a 1lb portion of thawed pureed apple. The appropriate amount of sugar and water, gave us another 3 jars of delicious jam.

The chocolate sloe vodka has been sieved and returned to its jar. It will shortly be decanted into small bottles as gifts:
Now the more serious Christmas baking and meal making will get underway shortly!

Monday 3 December 2018

Trialling a new to me roast...

I have noticed on blogland a few people trying the Hairy Bikers Stuffed Pork Fillet (tenderloin) and thought we would give it a go. Recipe here.

We used just one fillet to try it (and half the stuffing). I think the stuffing took the longest bit to prepare:
It was made on Saturday, wrapped in pancetta slices as that was all I had and stored in the fridge to settle into shape:
Roasted at 200C for just 50 minutes, rested for 15 whilst I finished off everything else:
Verdict: very nice and it will be our roast for Christmas Day. We got 12 slices from it and served up 4 meals:
Changes we will make for the day - reduce the preserved ginger a little and use only half the lemon as we found it a little too lemony for our tastes. I didn't have an apple so substituted a pear, which worked fine but we will use an apple on the day.

We didn't serve it with the sauce, instead using the juices to make normal pork gravy. It was slightly lacking until I add a tablespoon of ginger syrup and then it was on another level altogether!

Sunday 2 December 2018


All our Christmas cards yesterday. My final present for posting went on Friday. I have just realised that I only have about three weeks left to get on with food preparation so had better step on it.

At the start of each month, we move our four armchairs around in the lounge. This ensures equal wear and tear on the two we use. It is also a good excuse to move the crate Ruby sleeps in. Boy, some loose hair gets around it, despite her being groomed everyday.

Didn’t get around to it yesterday due to her first day of being on heat, completely threw us! She is ├╝ber clingy at the moment but the sanitary pad holder, made from a long sock, works very well as a standin for her proper pad holder. I am in awe of the person who thought of it:

Her new sized pants arrived today so we will see how they perform.

Saturday 1 December 2018

In some ways....

It is a good job it’s happened now, Ruby is on heat for the first time. Can’t say I am looking forward to the mess but special pants were bought. Unfortunately they are now too small so the next size up has been ordered. Meanwhile, she is wearing a nappy (diaper) made from a sock - don’t ask! See here:)

Our grand dogs will be here for Christmas and one is an intact male. Also Miss D, Ruby’s sibling will be with us and if they had both been on heat at the same time, the poor lad would be beside himself!!

Friday 30 November 2018

Following on from my post yesterday..... and MFin3

I eventually found this newspaper article from a year ago, says it all really inflation

Now you know why I am creating a Brexit food box! I have just found Elaine Colliars blog, Mortgage Free in Three is back up on Blogland, a fantastic blog on how to reduce debt and live frugally, see here.

Thursday 29 November 2018


No, not me, apparently for now at least, I am still as tall as I ever was!

I am referring to packaging sizes and/or contents therein, which have been shrinking for quite a while now.

Although I normally make my mincemeat every year, this year I haven’t. There is still one jar left from last year to make pies with but I needed some for a quick cake. On getting said jar home I noticed it no longer contains 1lb (454g) but just 411g!

Also, a packet of 24 Weetabix, that has never fitted upright on my shelves, now does so, so clearly each biscuit is smaller.

For our morning walk this week, I bought a packet of Jaffa cakes, now contains 10 rather than 12. Do they think we haven’t noticed?

Other brands of cakes and cereals are available!

Wednesday 28 November 2018

A strange meal....

We were going to have tomatillo chicken for tea and had cooked all the basics and added the previously made sauce. It was a bit of a strange colour but we carried on cooking. On tasting it, we realised it wasn’t tomatillo sauce but a portion of pea and ham soup!

That’ll teach me to label things. It still tasted nice and we had it with leek and potato mash. One portion leftover for DB to have for lunch.

Tuesday 27 November 2018


When we have visitors for Christmas or New Year, we like to exchange mystery mini gifts on that eve. Two for each person present, except for the giver themselves, wrapped in brown paper or neutral newspaper, and just the initial of the person on the gift.

I write out all the initials labels so handwriting doesn’t give away who is giving the present. They must be useful and not be anything to eat or drink.

We went shopping this morning and I got all mine. It is getting a tad more difficult as what we could buy just two years ago, now falls outside the maximum cost per present of £1.

Monday 26 November 2018

Meeting up.....

My niece and her future DiL, had to come to a shop near us to pick something up. Luckily she decided to bring her mum, my sister, for the ride. We don’t get to meet too often so it was now.

We eventually met up for coffee, lunch and a good chinwag!

All in all, a lovely few hours.

Sunday 25 November 2018

A dog day

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The hair in between Ruby’s paws needed trimming as it was starting to form tufts. Whilst DB held and distracted her, I managed to trim her two front paws, both between her toes and underneath. She isn’t too keen on us playing with her front paws but we did them and they looked better.

Today it was the turn of her back paws. She let me do one but fought against me doing the other. I won in the end and it was done. She now has smart feet.

She then had her ears cleaned and given one dried fish as a thankyou treat. Once she had eaten that, her teeth were cleaned. She doesn’t mind that at all and patiently sits whilst they are done.

We are now recovering with a cup of tea!

Friday 23 November 2018

For no reason.....

I can fathom, I have been cold all day. Hands like ice, layers of clothing but still cold. The heating has been on all day to not much use. Guess I must be feeling my age.

I have been slowing gathering what I need to make some light Christmas puddings and a last minute Christmas cake. I’m hoping to make a start Saturday, plus bake bread which I haven’t done for a couple of weeks. At least I will be warm in the kitchen baking:)

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Thursday 22 November 2018

Clothes - could be another frugal tip!

I'm sure a lot of people spend an awful lot of money on clothes, changing with the seasons and fashion. Not here. Clothes get bought when we need them and not because we want them. They are often bought as presents as it doubles up and saves on buying seperately.

However, during the war, clothing was very restricted and bought on a points system. Other than jumble sales where points were not needed (or the black market), there was no way round it. Yes you could alter worn out clothing, sheets, blankets, parachutes (if you could get one)  to make something new. You could reduce items in size for the next child down. Bedding, blankets and towelling were often cut around holes then re-hemmed to make a new sheet etc. An awful lot of items were knitted but even wool for this was on the points system.

In the 60's, I remember my mum and gran pulling out old jumpers, washing the wool and reusing to make something 'new'. I had lots of hand me down clothing growing up, as did my peers.

Clothes rationing began in 1941 and ended in 1949. In the first year, each adult was given a grand total of 66 coupons to spend. By 1942, this had dropped to 48, then 36 in 1943 and by 1945 just 24 points. The chart below shows what was required for items of clothing in 1942 when you would have had 48 points to spend.

Just because an item was rationed didn't mean you were entitled to it. You had to be able to afford it and it also had to be available to buy. Would you have managed?

You can understand why everything was repurposed can't you?

Wednesday 21 November 2018

Final suggestion to get you on the road to frugality

I am sure I haven't covered everything but just wanted to give you a flavour.

Suggestion 4 - Money, yes, that old chestnut!

Sit down and write down all your income and outgoings. There are loads of blogs around that help you deal not only with debt but how to deal especially with credit card debt.

I just want to talk about the usual things, such as utilities and food. Shop, shop, shop around and then shop around some more. We change our electricity company every year. We compare online, find the one that will give us the best deal then swap, it really is relatively easy nowadays.

We usually use the same heating oil company but go on a comparison site first to make them bring down their quote. Same with house and car insurance. We have gone on a water meter and now pay 2/3rds less than we did before, a huge saving.

We do treat ourselves to tennis tv every now and then because we both love tennis and it is the cheapest option.

Check all the tv and phone packages you have. Do you really need them, do you use them to their full advantage? If not, change, pare back or get rid.

Are you saving each pay day? If you have any money left at the end of one wage month, save it as well, it soon adds up. Check for the best interest rates and move savings if necessary.

Sell anything you no longer need.

Food - cook from scratch, menu plan, shop for that menu plan as mentioned before.

There are loads of ways to change how you live, don’t just dream about what might be, deal with it.

Tuesday 20 November 2018

The road to frugality - suggestions 2 and 3

These suggestions are only that, suggestions and come in no particular order.

Suggestion 2 - If you don't already do so, learn to cook from scratch. I am appalled that so many people buy ready prepared vegetables and fruit. I have to admit to occasionally using bought sauces and the odd meal but usually, it is in an emergency or as a treat.

Why would you buy ready prepared fresh vegetables and fruit. Obviously some things such as baby sweetcorn and beans, it is how they come but carrots, cabbage, swede etc! For a start it costs way more and you have lots of packaging to throw away. Also, if you are growing some food yourselves, the peelings are great for the compost heap. It is far cheaper to buy these products whole. Anything leftover could be frozen or used up in soups, stews or salads. Don't know how to cook. Go to your local library, or online, loads of ideas there. I do wish schools would bring back proper cooking lessons, one of the worst things education did was to stop that.

Suggestion 3 - Make your own cleaners, washing machine detergent, soap etc. We really don't need all the posh, expensive and harsh chemicals in these things. Planet friendly but often expensive alternatives are available to buy and many recipes are online to make your own. Check out my tutorial tab for two different washing machine detergents, costing pennies to use. I now prefer the later version which uses a small amount of bought washing detergent rather than soap. I no longer use the citrus cleaner as it makes me sneeze non-stop for some reason:(

Also, I use large containers of white vinegar instead of fabric conditioner. For the most part, it works very well. 

Monday 19 November 2018

Beginning the journey to living frugally.........

When each of us begins our individual family journey into frugality, each journey is different as are the reasons. No one way suits each situation. Read, read, and read some more before deciding how quickly or slowly you want to take it depending on your strengths, weaknesses and reasons for doing so.

Try and chose obtainable goals so as not to get disheartend and don't give up. Don't try and do everything at once (unless you are in absolute dire straights), walk small steps before trying to walk faster and run.

Make sure, if you are a couple, and where possible, that you are both singing from the same hymn sheet, otherwise it may start to unravel. If a family, discuss, then discuss some more. Put your cards on the table and show why you need to change, what is the reason.

Our son was just 4 when our moment came. We had always been relatively frugal, discussing finances with each other but we sat him down, told him the reason (for beginning food rationing, see diary above) and he seemed to understand and came on board. It certainly hasn't done him any harm and when their own moment came, both he and his wife were able to deal with it in a positive way.

We are all better off now but those lessons continue to serve us all well and we know if another moment of hardship came, we would be able to deal with it, discuss it with each other and offer help to each other, if we are able to.

A Possible First Step - Greatly reduce your expenditure on food and toiletries where possible. Then stock take, menu plan, shop for only what is on the menu plan. The menu isn't written in stone though, swap meals within the week if circumstances change. Eventually, this will become second nature and your bills should reduce and any money left at the end of the month can go into savings.

You may be surprised at how much cheaper lesser known brands are. Most are equal to your well known brands but some aren't so try and decide. Get to know the cheaper supermarkets, their prices are quite a bit cheaper and for the most part, food is just as good.

By shopping for what you need, rather than want, you should have less food waste. Most people know the saying 'take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves". We have a second saying "take care of the grammes/ounces and the kilograms/pounds will take care of themselves". Don't bin unserved leftovers from meals, most can be reused, either in a second identical meal, or a soup, pie, quiche or a hash.

Saturday 17 November 2018

Getting harder to stick to budget some weeks

It would be easier to just up my new food and toiletries budget a tad but I’m still trying hard to keep within it and succeeding most weeks. I increased it from £35 to £40 a week in Spring as rises started occurring then. Most months there is around £10 - £15 left which gets put to one side for winter. Meat is a treat or an add on flavour now as it’s price continues to rise.

Food price rises are noticeable now though. At the start of the year, our loose tea was about £2.25, today it is £2.70! When I bought tinned apricots a few months ago, they were 48p, today 80p. Our large jar of coffee was £4.50, today it is nearly £7. However, it was on offer in Lidl for £4.98 rather than £6.78 elsewhere.

I was discussing it with the cashier and she too had noticed it, going as far as it say it wasn’t just a few pennies either but 20p or 30p a time.

Started my Brexit box in earnest today and I feel better now. If we have a poor winter it will come in handy then, if not, it will keep. Bargains today were 2 packets of good oats for £3 (cheap ones make me feel sick) and 2 tubs of custard powder for £2, plus of course the coffee.

I have written dates and prices on each item and will sort out an inventory list to keep it in order, I love lists. I have money put to one side for this food plus enough for a food bank shop. When shopping for that, I go online first to check what they actually need.

Every £2 coin we get through the year is saved for Christmas. How are you all coping?

Friday 16 November 2018

Been and gone....

A new blogger got in touch the other day, asking how to begin the frugal journey. For whatever reason, her blog has disappeared, I do hope everything is ok and she wasn’t put off by the processes us bloggers were suggesting.

It got me thinking and next week, I’ll go over what why’s and wherefores I found useful, just in case, the info will be of use to someone, somewhere.

Did you hear on the news the other morning that Premier foods are starting to stockpile certain food lines?

Thursday 15 November 2018

Random thought....

we were sharing a Bounty Bar the other day when I suddenly thought, when did the cardboard base disappear from inside the packaging?

Tuesday 13 November 2018

Another mushroom based meal

If you like mushrooms, this is a relatively cheap meal to make. If not, you could substitute for Quorn or other vegetables. There was also a can of tomatoes, bringing the total cost of 4 main meals to £2.60 all in, including the rice:
A plateful each for one meal:
Enough leftover for another plateful each:
Although we rarely have pudding, the rest of the apricots went with the last of the Chai cake, for a late supper top up:

Monday 12 November 2018

A new coat

Welcome to Rebecca via Bloglovin.

We have bought Ruby her first coat although not the one we initially wanted. Not for going out in, she is after all a dog and her hair will keep the worst of the weather off. This is for after we get back, if she is shivering, which she does when soaked to the skin:

She of course wanted to chew it the first few times, so we distracted her by throwing toys and a quick game of go find! Hopefully, she will eventually accept it and leave it alone.

Sunday 11 November 2018

Has anyone else....

found they can’t find Elaine Colliars blog Mortgage Free in Three? She started blogging again recently but every social media outlet linked to it seems to be missing or not working. I can find social media stuff relating to her mind maps stuff though. I was after some of her recipes. Any help with an answer?

Saturday 10 November 2018

We have finally started....

Cleaning our windows. It is a job we both aren’t too keen on, on a par with dusting!

There is only so much grimy window staring I can put up with though. Out came the bucket, sponge, cloth and wiper. Now, the dining room and kitchen windows look clean at last, well, the outside at least.

Ruby was watching me intently. Up, down, to the left, to the right and circles. She looked like she was watching a tennis match. The insides can wait.

DB is going to also do the new lounge window as well as hose down the car. It was serviced and had its MOT a few days ago. We expected a bill around the £225 mark. It was just under £500 as it needed two front tyres and there is now a £20 environmental surcharge for disposal VAT bumped it up as well, always forget about it:(

Mind you it also had a quick valet and was washed, so that was nice. Ah well, just as well we watch our pennies.

Friday 9 November 2018

A lack of attention

Coming home from my massage the other day, we had to sit behind a waiting lorry whilst a white van came in the opposite direction. A young lady, wearing ear phones, walking on the pavement, saw we had all stopped and decided to cross the road - without checking behind her. The poor van driver slammed on his brakes, turning white in the process.

Luckily for her, he was driving below 30mph. Just as the front of his van dipped during braking, she saw him and reeled herself in.

Later in the week, on the way to training, a similar thing happened to us. We were approaching a pedestrian crossing, having already noticed, a baby buggy, mum and grandma walking near us on our left. Without warning or indeed looking, the mother turned her buggy, sharp right onto the crossing, straight in front of us.

DB slammed on his brakes, everything on the back seat fell on the floor, and we heard Ruby slide into the back of her car crate with a thump. The mother held her hand up with an embarrassed smile, mouthed sorry and continued to cross!

I can honestly say I have never done that with DS, always stopping well clear and checking before stepping out.

Two different but very lucky escapes methinks.

Thursday 8 November 2018

Chai Tea Cake

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On our way to dog training each week, we usually stop off at a supermarket to use their toilets, picking up their weekly recipe paper in the process. DB saw this Chai Tea Bundt Cake and fancied having a go:
Life had got in the way so in order to speed the process up, I read the method out and he made it, having previously weighed out all the ingredients. We had read it as an all in one cake mix but just as he added the butter, I realised a bit of the method sheet was missing which said to add the butter melted - doh!

Many dirty implements later (I no longer have a hand held electirc whisk), it was as ready as it was going to be. We just could not get rid of all the minute lumps of butter:(

It should have taken 30 - 35 minutes to cook - nope - took nearly 55 minutes. There was quite a lot of butter swimming on the top near the hole (we didn't have a bundt tin either).

After cooling and tipping out the tin, it was done. I was a bit frazzled, can you tell!

Anyhow, it does taste rather nice but we are not sure the chai tea adds anything other than colour as the mix also required 2 teaspoons of mixed spice, which seems to be the main flavour. Its texture is similar to a banana cake.

Herewith the recipe:
Courtesy of Waitrose!

Wednesday 7 November 2018

Food price rises after Brexit

I have trawled the internet, reading official articles about probable food price rises after Brexit, although some have already risen such as bacon, pork and beef. In this country, we now only produce 30% of the food that we need (such a change from post war production).

Here are the list of goods expected to rise:

Butter, cheese - foreign and oddly enough, cheddar, yoghurt up by 8%
Beef up between 5% - 29%
Other meat products up 6%
Pork and bacon already up 20%, more to come
Chicken up 25%
Fruit and vegetables, including potatoes, up by 4%
Tomatoes up between 9% and 18%
Broccoli up 10%
Cod up 18%
Bread (non-wheat and oat) up 2%

Some of the increases are due to increased feed and labour costs. We have already seen this year, orchards of fruit left to rot due to shortages of foreign pickers. China, after severe flooding, have bought a good portion of our pork whilst we continue to import, crazy or what.

Some items that are sourced outside of the EU may rise but not so much. These include Quinoa, Rice, Beans, Pulses etc.

It is recommended you source British flour, oats, white sugar in particular, local salt, cider vinegar, and mustard. Buy British afterwards, when possible.

EU products to source now are olive oil, pepper, pasta, spices, herbs, tomato paste and tinned fish. There are probably far more but I couldn't find anything about those.

If we leave without a customs agreement, things could get very bad with severe delays both in and out of the UK.

Major supermarkets have already siad that due to modern computerised stocktaking, and day to day ordering from the global economy, they are incapable of storing food too long in advance.

Some drug manufacturers have already started stock piling, as drugs are a darn site easier to store than food.

I made the decision this year to increase out soft fruit production. Tinned fruit in juice rather than syrup, is recommended to store long term.

Although I had started my Brexit storage, I have used some of it up. I shall now start again and find somewhere different to store it for use later on.As prices could rise between March and June, I shall make sure that a lot of what I store will be for the summer and autumn months.

Tuesday 6 November 2018

Piccalilli spread

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After making my piccalilli, I set to this morning, with an altered batch, this time more finely chopped to try and create a piccalilli spread. Although we like chunky piccalilli, we find it breaks up sandwiches too much.

On the left is the normal type, finer cut on the right. I didn't want to risk going too small otherwise the vegetables might lose their crunch.

Monday 5 November 2018

Piccalli making

Sooze, I sent you an email from my email, but am not sure if you got it.

You can find the recipe for this under my recipes tab above or here:

1kg vegetables soaked overnight in salt, rinsed and drained:
I have adjusted the recipe to suit our tastes:
Mixed with enough apple cider vinegar to combine:
Sugar and honey ready:
Remaining vinegar ready:
Sauce was made and boiled for 2 minutes before vegetables were added. They were then boiled gently for 5 minutes:
Potted into hot jars and lids put on immediately to help create vacuum:
They now need to store for a minimum of 6 weeks to help develop the flavour. We like to leaves ours longer than that before eating. Two jars didn't pop but they will be fine to eat after the maturity date for about 3-6 months due to the amount of vinegar.

Saturday 3 November 2018

Using my instant potato

For tea, I thawed the remaining leek and chicken bake from the previous week:
We didn't have enough real potato or even enough instant. I made up what we had and had a think how to stretch it further. Eventually I drained and rinsed a can of baked beans and added them to the instant mash:
It was put on top of the food in the dish, a good grating of cheddar cheese was added and it was baked in a hot 200C oven for 20 minutes. Unfortunately, we ate it, shared between us before I remembered to take a picture. Sorry...

It was good though and I shall add beans to more potato dishes in future.

Friday 2 November 2018

Out of a packet or a can....

If you had to choose between instant mashed potato (rehydrated) or a tin, what would you prefer?

We have tried tinned potatoes, and even roasted, neither of us was keen. Instant potato, for us, has a lot better taste and we always have a container of it, just in case. It is also used in the ingredients to make our potato bread.

For mash, I weigh the dried flakes out, measure the liquid (using milk and water), a blob of butter, salt and pepper. Once mixed, it’s texture is great. Taste wise, with cheese, gravy or sauce, it is quite good.

Left to go cold, it can be used in fish cakes, fried in a hash and probably a myriad of other things I haven’t yet tried.

Thursday 1 November 2018

Ah well....

Win some, lose some. I tried my blueberry and damson jam leftover bit, it is over cooked. Lovely taste but a bit chewy. Fine for our use though.

Next on my list is piccalilli. Although I will use my normal recipe, I have decided to have jars of normal chunky but also try making a finer version for sandwiches. A piccalilli spread if you will. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday 31 October 2018


Having thawed what I thought was a bag of brambles, they turned out to to blueberries! Well they are supposed to be high in pectin I thought. Wrong, as it turned out (probably been in the freezer too long).

Luckily, I had a small bag of damsons with their stones in so cooked these, squeezed out the stones and added the rest to the blueberries. The zest of a whole lemon, its juice, plus more were added alongside the sugar:
I ended up with 3 jars of blueberry, damson and lemon jam. The other jar was made from a few plums.

One jar of the blueberry jam was taken by my nursing buddy S.H., who called yesterday for a quick visit. It is always good to catch up.

Tuesday 30 October 2018

Look at that....

In order to keep my brain active, I like to have a game or two on my computer. For months now, I have been quite attached to Farm Heroes Saga and was 3/4 of the way through its levels (apparently 1750). However, following the latest update, it started messing about.

Prizes earned could not be collected, bonus items won one day, disappeared overnight - it was frustrating to say the least. In a fit of pique, I deleted it, then downloaded it again.

It was a bit of a nause having to go through the tutorials again but I was rewarded by this huge total on one game (still one move to make):
I ended up just shy of 3,000,000 points - now that has got to be a record. My previous high was 680,000 or so. Of course, you don’t get any reward for the high score, but it is nice to know I did it!

Monday 29 October 2018

Marmalade for presents...

Finally, a tiny bit of Christmas mojo has arrived. I made marmalade yesterday for some presents. There were 3 jars of orange and ginger, 3 of orange and brandy, one of orange and a small bowl of leftovers for us to enjoy:
We went to buy some more raw food for Ruby and called in at two garden centres where we managed to find presents for our walking buddies and one for someone else. Onwards and upwards.

Ruby likes to sit on her dads knee given half the chance. She can't quite fit: