Friday, 19 September 2014

Making Not Buying

I used to do loads of cardmaking and really enjoyed it, and occasionally I earned a few quid making specially requested personal cards. Over the years card making has slipped lower in my preferred crafts and I now only make for family birthdays or if one of the kids asks for a card for a friend. Although DD2 and I will be making her wedding invitations next year. However, I do still have an embarrasingly large stash of card making materials. Next week is my daughter-in-law's birthday. They now live in Basingstoke and I had to send the card today to make sure it arrived in time.When I got up this morning I thought, can I really be bothered making this card or should I go to the shop in town that sells cards cheaply and buy one? Extending my decision to try and use up my food stocks during September to other areas where I have a suplus, I gave myself a good talking to and got stuck in. After all, I have the supplies, why spend money when I don't have too even if I could get a shop bought card for around 80p? So, this is what I made.

DIL is an army musician and although she can play several instruments guitar is her favourite. I'm quite pleased with it and it only took about half an hour to put together once I'd decided on the design and printed everything out. Not a great saving, but a sense of accomplishment nonetheless. I have several birthdays coming up over the next couple of months and while I was at it I've printed out all the images and inserts to make another 4 cards, potentially saving me another £3.20 at least. 

In a similar vein - and this time definitely food-related - we're having a sandwich dinner tonight and DH had requested I buy some rolls or a crusty loaf and cooked meat for his. I could have paid around £1 for rolls or a loaf in Morrisons, but I have a breadmaker that makes a fastbake loaf, bread flour bought from Approved Foods, and yeast from Aldi. I added cheese to the mixing process and then more on top at the beginning of the rise and here is a the end result.

It might not look as perfect as a shop bought one but I know it will taste as good if not better. and that's another £1 saved. Unfortunately, I did have to buy the cooked meat, but I didn't think 39p for 10 slices of garlic sausage in Aldi was too extravagant.

I saw that Ilona had repaired a table instead of buying a new, and wonder if anyone else has made or repaired anything rather than spending money this week.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Today's Bargains

Firstly, thank you to everyone for your congratulations and comments on my weight loss. I did allow myself a congratulatory eccles cake from my favourite bakers in Deal, but otherwise I'm trying to pretty much stick to healthy eating for most of this week because we're having dinner at DD3 and BF's on Sunday. It's a full roast and BF is cooking so will do the potatoes in goose fat. Also I'm taking an apple and blackberry cake and there will be cherry pie for dessert so I'm trying to be careful for the rest of this week.

Otherwise, I've had a lovely busy week. When DD2 received her new season ticket sooner than expected she let me have her weekly explorer bus ticket with 3 days credit remaining and I've been making good use of it. 

On Monday I had a morning in Folkestone but was disappointed that one of my favourite charity shops has disappeared. On Tuesday afternoon, after my slimming club, I went to Deal for a couple of hours, and yesterday morning I wandered around Canterbury. Despite trawling the charity shops in both towns I didn't find anything taking my fancy, although I did buy a metre of pretty butterfly fabric for £3 from a stall at the weekly street market in Canterbury. The ticket expired yesterday, so today I stayed put in Dover...and came up trumps in my usual chairty shop haunts.

For some time I've been thinking of getting a new stainless steel steamer since the knob on the top of the lid has come off mine leaving a hole in the middle. I have to remove the lid by sticking the end of a spoon through the hole and easing it off. Also, the handles on the saucepan part at the bottom are very wonky and I've been afraid that one might break off while it's full of hot liquid. Anyway, long story cut short, I found this one for only £3.50 in the Hospice shop just round the corner. It had obviously been used but is in brilliant condition and I am so pleased with it. 

Bargain number 2 was this piece of fabric for £3.99 from the Heart foundation shop in town. It's approx 2 yards by 44 ins wide and will do fine for making more syringe driver bags.

And bargain number 3 was 2 bags of parsnips reduced from 69p to 49p in Morrisons. 

I also got a nice big swede in there for 69p. I'll chop both the parsnips and swede up and freeze them until it's stew weather. Mind you, we have stew any time of year and dinner tonight was lamb mince with lentils and dumplings. Why I decided on dumplings on a hot day like today, I don't know, but my men enjoyed it and I had my mince with a jacket potato.

So has anyone else got bargains to declare? I'd love to hear about them.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

I Did It!

A quick post to tell you all that today I reached my target weight. 

It's taken me 2 years and 3 months but when I started this journey in June 2012 I decided I wasn't in a hurry as long as the general trend was downwards. At that time I hoped to lose maybe 2 st so I could walk better and be more active. Well, as of today I've lost 4st 13 lb. I'm 10st 8.5 which is 1.5 lbs below my target weight of 10st 10. At the start I was 15st 7.5. 

If you want more figures then I was a size 22 and I'm now a 12. My measurements were bust 45in/waist 39.5/hips 50 and now I'm 37/30/40. 

Here are a couple of pictures to go along with those figures. 

I don't actually have one of me at my very heaviest and in the top one I'd already lost about 1.5 st. The bottom one was taken when we were on holiday in Scotland at the end of July and I'm now 7 lbs lighter. The coat in the top picture was a size 20, the one in the bottom picture a roomy size 10.

I'm not a model thin and I could aim for another 1/2 stone or so off but I know from past experience I'd look too bony and as I have some wrinkly skin now I'm happy at this weight. I hope by continuing to weigh in regularly at my club, and because its taken me so long to achieve and I've learned new eating habits along the way, that this time around I'll manage to maintain the loss and not regain as I always have before.

And, yes, I did achieve my initial goal. I am so much more mobile now and the dreadful aches and pain I had in my knees no longer plague me from the minute I get out of bed.

I am duly proud of myself but the real achievement will be if I'm still this weight in a year's time. And many, many thanks to my wonderful slimming world leader, Marise, and the other members for all their help and encouragement during this journey and for those who have left encouraging comments on my prevouus posts here about my weight.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Feeling Better

Thanks to everyone who left me get well messages. Today I am feeling so much better, although still tiring easily. 

I can't believe it's taken best part of a week to recover from what is essentially a headache. Maybe I should take up meditation as suggested in today's papers as a way to manage migraine. I'm not sure I have the patience to sit and meditate (or the concentration; my mind wanders much too easily) but if I got migraines more frequently then I'm sure I would give it a go, clutching at anything to help with what can be an extremely debilitationg affliction that can really adversely affect your life. 

I have never been able to pin my migraines down to a cause such as a particular food, but I do think they are stress related as I generally get them when I've either been run off my feet or had a lot going on with the family etc. This time around I have been doing a lot of clearing out cupboards and such like around the house, and also we worry over DH's mum with her having had a second fall (not serious, just losing her balance), she's also caught bronchitis, and is feeling very low all round while still recovering from her broken wrist. It's so difficult for DH being an only child and living on the other side of the country. It's not as if he can simply up and visit every week, especially with having just started his new job. The council have still not sorted out her finances either and keep asking for more documentation which is difficult to get hold of as she can't sign anything properly with a broken wrist. At this rate, she'll run completely out of money before they get it all sorted. DH is doing his best to talk to them and explain but they aren't very helpful.

I sometimes also get a migraine once a period of stress is over, as if my body says 'now that's done with we're going to completely shut down for a few days'. So, just caused by life in general, and nothing I can really do to prevent them. It's not as if I can cocoon myself in cottonwool and, really, my life is a lot less stressful than most people. Whatever causes them, I'm just happy I don't get them as frequently as some people.

Today was my first day out for a proper walk, although I did nip along the road to Aldi yesterday. DH and I went into town to meet up with DD2 for coffee, and then we went to SpecSavers to help me choose new frames. Since my sight is so blurry without my specs I can't actually see very well whether a design suits me or not. Anyway, my bank balance is £129 lighter (£69 frames and £109 varifocal lenses, minus a £49 discount) and I can pick my new glasses up next week. I'll be glad to have them as I've found myself squinting and constantly adjusting my current ones lately when doing needlework. Which, I suppose, might have contributed to the migraine.

Back home just after 1pm, and DD3 and BF were here for a short visit. Sad news is that BF's grandmother (the one with the house in France) has probably got ovarian cancer. She's a lovely lady, only 70, full of life, so I'm hoping above hope that they've caught it in time. DH's mum had a hysterectomy in her 70s and recovered fine and is now 93 so fingers and everything else crossed for Sonia.

Doctor Who to watch tonight (still not sure about the new doctor). Dinner tonight is Irish pork sausages (99p for 8 Aldi), onion gravy (onions 3 packs for £2 Morrisons), small boiled potatoes (750g for 55p Aldi) and savoy cabbage (39p for a big one that will do 2 meals, Aldi's special deal).

I think that's all for now. Have a good evening everyone.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Migraine From Hell!

I was intending to post earlier in the week but it wasn't to be, and this will be fairly short as I don't want to tempt fate by being too long on the computer.

I have had the worst migraine ever and ended up taking to bed for 2 days. I started with a mild headache on Sunday afternoon and went to bed at 8.30pm. I felt a bit better on Monday morning so pottered about, went to Aldi and also picked a few blackberries from nearby bushes. Unfortunately, by the afternoon I was feeling really rough and once my stomach started acting up too, that was it and I had to give up and go to bed. I was either in bed or hugging or sitting on the loo for the next 48 hours and the headache was monumental. The trouble is, when I have a migraine I cannot seem to shut my brain down and simply sleep it off. Luckily I don't get them as often as I used to but they sure like to hang about when I do.

By yesterday I was starting to recover but still had no appetite and felt totally washed out, but I did spend my time on the sofa in front of the TV wisely by working on finishing the Aran cardigan I've been making with yarn bought for £3.99 for a 400g ball from Aldi. 

Today, thankfully, I am feeling much better although still a bit weak and spaced out, and I have eaten soup and a couple of crispbreads and completed the cardigan. Thankfully DH and the boys have been wonderful. DH has quite enjoyed getting his own dinner, although he's mostly just eaten sandwiches, but tonight I'm making a pork stir fry although I won't be eating any...more soup for me until I get my appetite back.

The photo's not great, but here I am modelling the cardigan. I'm not sure the short, waist length style flatters me particularly, but it might look better with a skirt.

The yarn is 72% acrylic, 25% wool and 3% viscose. I already had buttons that were the perfect size and a good colour.

At least it fits while most of my clothes are now way too big. I suppose throwing up for 2 days and barely eating for another 2 days might have its compensations in my weight loss this week. I don't think losing an extra lb or 2 is worth feeling that ill, though.

Hopefully tomorrow normal service will be resumed and I can get out of the house for some fresh air.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Using Up Everything and More Syringe Bags

I have actually stuck to my menu plan so far this week, mostly making meals using up the leftovers from Sunday's roast. 

Today's dinner was the last of the chicken meat made into a casserole with dumplings. I added carrots (39p last week from Aldi), leftover peas and sweetcorn (served with last night's dinner of homemade tuna fishcakes and chips), baby potatoes (also Aldi 69p), a casserole mix (Approved Foods 5 for £1) and onions (Morrisons, 3 bags for £2). 

Not wanting to waste a scrap, I incorporated a small amount of stuffing into the dumplings that had been in the cavity of the chicken. The meal was delicious and I am so pleased to have made the most of a small chicken and some stuffing to create a total of 4 dinners for 4 people. 

I have had quite a busy day today doing lots of little things around the house, following on from Sunday when I defrosted the freezer and itemised the contents, and yesterday when I sorted and cleaned out my kitchen food cupboards and my stash cupboard in the sideboard in the sitting room. Now, I know I'm not that fussed about sell-by dates, but would I really feel happy using cake decorations and treacle dated 2007? How I missed turfing them out before now I have no idea. Anyway, my cupboards are now free of potential food poisoning and so much cleaner and tidier that I can actually find any ingredient I need without having to take out a dozen other things first. 

Most of the morning was spent doing a favour for DD2 and fiance by waiting in their house for a delivery while they were both at work. But before I went round there I did a load of laundry and hung it on the line. While I was there I did their sink full of washing up and generally tidied the kitchen so they wouldn't have to do it when they got in. I did tell DD2 I'd done it, and apologised if she was annoyed because I remember getting quite upset as a young wife when my mother-in-law would interfere with my housekeeping. Luckily DD was pleased that I'd helped out although she told me jokingly that I was naughty for doing it as I was already doing her a  favour by waiting in for the delivery.

When I left DD2's I picked a few blackberries from the bushes along her road and then went home to soak them and leave my laptop behind before nipping to Aldi for a few bits and pieces. After Aldi, I came home, cleaned out the cats' litter trays, rinsed the blackberries and picked them over for maggots (only one little blighter) and then froze them, and then I vacummed throughout the downstairs before lunch. 

This afternoon I cleaned out and disinfected the outside food recycling bin after today's collection, before finishing off another 4 syringe bags. That's 5 I've made so far. I also have the straps sewn up ready to add to 5 more bags that I hope to cut out tomorrow and have completed by the end of next week ready to send off to the hospice. 

This evening I heated up the casserole I'd made yesterday in the slowcooker, and made the stuffing dumplings. 

I sometimes need to make a note of all the things I do throughout the day. I'm not much good with the actual housework side of things and our old house is decidely shabby without the chic, so it helps me realise I do actually make a useful contribution to the household since I don't go out to work and DH is the sole breadwinner. Of course, I also handle all the finances, making sure all the bills are paid, budgeting and making ends meet etc. so DH doesn't have to bother about that side of things.

So now I'm sitting on the sofa watching a re-run of Hustle and typing this at the same time, thoroughly worn out but with a sense of accomplishment, and a list of things ready to do tomorrow.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Rubber Chicken

We don't often have a traditional roast dinner on Sunday, but today was an exception.

When The Sun carried Morrisons vouchers for £5 off a £10 spend on fresh meat a few weeks back I bought 2 copies of the paper and got £20 worth of meat for £10, plus the 80p cost of the papers. I bought items from their 3 for £10 range and got 3 whole chickens, a tray of 25 beef meatballs, 450gm beef mince and 450g diced beef. This made each item just £1.80 (inc cost of each newspaper). We had the meatballs between 4 of us with homemade sauce and pasta earlier this week, and today I roasted one of the chickens. The other 2 will be kept in the freezer for Christmas, or more likely the New Year since we are probably going to DD3 and BF's for Xmas dinner. 

Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of our meal but this is what we had:-

Chicken - £1.80
Savers Yorkshire puds (45p a pack - we had 2/3rds pack at 30p)
1 kg potatoes (2.5 kg bag for 99p in Morrisons - so approx 40p)
2/3 bag Frozen country style veg (99p for the bag from Aldi, so 66p)
Parsnips from freezer (not sure of price but I got them reduced so allow 20p)
Pkt Vege sausage meat plus a pkt stuffing mix (both Approved Foods @ 5 packs for £1 - so 40p for the 2 packs) 
Gravy made with granules (approx 10p)

Total cost of whole meal = £3.86p

This served 4 of us for today's dinner, and the leftover chicken will make a stir fry for tomorrow (Monday) and a stew with plenty of veg added on Wednesday. There vegetarian sausage mix and the stuffing mix were combined and made enough stuffing to go in the chicken, plus I also baked a loaf tin full along with the roast. This stuffing 'meatloaf' will be sliced and served with onion gravy, mashed potato, sweetcorn and carrots on Tuesday. 

I will probably need to add about £3 worth of veg, noodles etc. to make these 3 extra meals, meaning I will have made 4 meals for 4 people (16 servings) for around £7, averaging  around 43p per serving. There won't be much chicken meat in either the stir fry or the stew, but then the idea of a rubber chicken is to make a little to go a long way.

Other meals this week will be homemade tuna fishcakes (using extra mash made for the meal on Tuesday plus a tin of AF tuna) with oven chips and peas, and a vege chilli made with odds and end of veg from the fridge and from my veg basket and served with rice from AF. Each of these meals will cost approx 40p per serving.

In addition to cooking, I have defrosted my big chest freezer this morning while it was manageable rather than my usual trick of waiting until it's so choked up with frost I have to hack the equivalent of a couple of icebergs off the sides of it. As I sorted through everything and put it away, I took an inventory and now I'm on a mission this month to use up what I have in stock rather than keep buying more...even if I do see a good offer. I've also started on itemising my other stockpiles of tinned and dried goods that are scattered around the house. It's a long time until next pay day and with DH starting his new job and using much more petrol I will have to be very careful with money until we sort out exactly how much more his travel will cost.

By the way, I haven't wasted those 2 newspapers even though I wouldn't squander my time reading them; they're being used to wrap up cat litter and vegetable peelings. 

As there are no dinner pics to post, here is a holiday snap instead.

Which hairy Scot is my husband and which the Highland Coo?
Even I had trouble telling the difference, so no prizes for guessing.

Before I go, I discovered a site today with this mum's challenge to cut her spending for her family of 4 to just £20 a week for a month. You have to scroll down to the bottom of the page to read the first blog posts - 
Although she's doing a pretty good job, she admits she can't wait for the challenge to end. Hopefully some of the leesons she's learned will remain with her and she'll still save money, but unlike many people she's lucky she doesn't have to do this week after week, month after month and year after year. Lucky that she also had enough money at the start of the challenge to stock up in advance. My heart goes out to those who have to manage like this day in day out.