Monday, 11 August 2014

Summer hols 30 day challenge - Day 15

On Friday I spent time on Pinterest and Ravelry (lots of time, oh poor me!!) deciding on projects to make for family Christmas gifts. Obviously, I can't really say much more as I don't want to let the cat out of the bag, but I found some gorgeous ideas. I did tear myself away from the computer long enough to start one project, a knitted item using wool donated by my Mum who no longer wanted it. 

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Summer hols 30 day challenge - Day 14

In an attempt to get back on track I signed up with Approved Food today. I've had a bit of a browse around and found some bargains but much of the stuff I can get just as cheaply at our local Heron Foods shop. As with everything, research is the key. I also need to do a stock take and shopping list and will probably place an order next pay day to restock for the following month.  
Anyone else using Approved Food?
What are the best deals you have found?
Does it pay to bulk buy?
I look forward to reading your comments.

Summer hols 30 day challenge - Days 11, 12 & 13

Okay, okay, this is not going to plan at all!!
Spent Monday and Tuesday in Edinburgh visiting Bethany and her boyfriend Liam.

You round a corner and.....wow!
 We did save money on our rail tickets by buying them in advance. Also Bethy's new flat has a spare room saving us a small fortune on hotel costs (especially during Festival week!)
One major drawback to my challenge though - we ate (and drank!) out the whole time we were there!! I know, I know, but we hadn't had a break away for years and never been away without children for nigh on 22 years. It was so good not having to think about making (and carrying) picnic stuff as we have done so often in the past.
Anyhoo we had a whale of a time. We spent quality time with Bethany and Liam rather than money on stuff in shops that we don't really need. We also spent quality time just the two of us, wandering through the streets of Edinburgh's Old and New Towns, soaking up the history, enjoying the Festival vibe and following in Rebus' footsteps. 


If you're an Ian Rankin/John Rebus fan you will be pleased to know that we whiled away a 
couple of hours at The Oxford Bar with some of the regulars - and the barman was not curmudgeonly at all!! 

Outside the Omni Centre
Wednesday was spent recovering from all that walking, boy were our old legs stiff and sore. Still it kept us in the house rather than being out and about spending more money. Oh, and ordering a new telly as ours is on the blink!!!









Surfing seal!

Check out this surfing seal off the coast where I live!

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Summer hols 30 day challenge - Day 10

Nothing to declare today, sorry, I don't seem to be achieving much with this challenge. Our telly appears to be on the blink now too, and I cancelled the cover we had on it months ago due to lack of funds. 
Bummer!

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Summer hols 30 day challenge - Day 9

Does anybody out there use Quidco? 
Have you made any money from it?
I signed up for Quidco ages ago but, since I don't really have any disposable income I rarely buy anything. As a result I haven't given it much thought lately. 
This week, however, I decided to have another look so clicked the link on an email they had sent me. 
Hmmm - not about to book a holiday; hubby doesn't need a new suit; can't afford any home improvements or DIY projects; don't need a new phone deal (£5 pay as you go on my old brick lasts me months!) This is why I'm not their ideal candidate.
Hang on a minute, ClickSnap, what's that?
Apparently you can earn cashback on your grocery shopping by uploading your receipt if you buy any of the weekly offers. This week there haven't been any products that I would buy but as they cover the 3 supermarkets that I may use I thought it worth signing up for. From what I've read it is similar to TopCashback's Snap & Save scheme and it's a good idea to use both together. I shall check out TopCashback when I get a moment.

Any tips on getting the best out of Quidco or TopCashback?

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Summer hols 30 day challenge - Days 6, 7 & 8

I would love to say that I have discovered some amazing money spinning/debt reduction secret and I'm about to share it with you here! In reality I have spent the last three days chopping up shirts, ironing and die cutting to produce more tiny triangles for my new quilt idea.
My son was throwing out some shirts this week, so naturally I nabbed them for my stash.






I also sorted out the next batch of material.... 


.....and die cut some old magazines....


...to add to the English paper piecing 'tumbler' quilt I'm working on.


I wish I'd gone more random rather than stripy now, what do you think?





Saturday, 26 July 2014

Summer hols 30 day challenge - Day 5

More die cutting of triangles yesterday, my pile of old shirts is almost gone. 
I fear, however, that my iron is about to pack up on me having tripped the electrics twice on Thursday. I've been using a circuit breaker since then but need to start looking for a bargain just in case.

So much for saving money, eh?

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Watching the watcher

Here's our dog, Angel, watching the neighbours cat watching the pigeon that nests in our tree every year. I couldn't quite get all three in but they made me laugh anyway!!



Summer hols 30 day challenge - Day 4

Malcolm has spent some time lately getting rid of a lot of junk from the garage with the intention of being able to put his beloved Beemer in there over the winter (a money saving manoeuvre in itself)


 When he bought a motorbike a few years back it was kept in the garage while the car was relegated to the driveway. The bike was sold some time ago but the accumulated 'stuff' that took up residence beside it still remained.
That includes my stash!!
Much of the wool I had was used to make this crocheted blanket 


and what's left fits into one plastic box. The bulk is taken up by material that has been begged, stolen and borrowed over the years and it is long overdue for a sort out.
So, as part of my 30 day challenge, I have begun the process of turning my stash into 
  • soft furnishings for our home or the kids uni flats
  • Christmas presents/birthday gifts for friends and family
  • items that I can try to sell online, either Ebay or in my currently abandoned Etsy shop
This morning I began with my stash of checked cottons, most of which began life as my daughters shirts.

From this....


....via the ironing board.....


....and the die cutter....

 

....to these lovely triangles just waiting to be made up into something new and gorgeous!


So far I've only used the smallest scraps for these tiny triangles, the larger pieces may become different shapes - hexagons or tumblers perhaps?






Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Summer hols 30 day challenge - Day 3

This morning I spent a fair amount of time getting up to speed on our credit card debt. Between us we have 3 cards all of which we went over the limit on some time ago. Not a fact I'm at all proud of, we took them out when times were rather more secure, then used them as a 'lifeline' when they weren't. Ah well, no use crying over spilt milk.
Having checked up on all 3 balances, I've decided to take a leaf out of Frugal Queen's book. I'm hoping to pay more money towards the smallest one first while still paying the agreed amount on the other two. Then I can snowball onto the next smallest, paying the agreed sum plus what I was paying on the first, then snowball those amounts onto the third.
Well that's the theory, there's never much left at the end of the month, but it's got to be worth a try! 

Oh, and Malcolm gave Sam a haircut - a number 2 all over - with his hair grooming kit, saving him £6-£10. I bought Malcolm the kit a few years ago and it's saved him a small fortune by now. 

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Summer hols 30 day challenge - Day 2

Today I began my reclamation of the wilderness that has become the garden!
As Malcolm had already done a lot of cutting back at the weekend the garden bin was pretty full and not due to be emptied until next week. I reckoned that I could squeeze in a few weeds though and, as it was a gloriously sunny morning, I set too weeding our driveway.
As you can see it is a long overdue job......


.......and a rather long driveway!


So how does this fit into my challenge? Well Malcolm's solution would be to zap it all with expensive weedkiller, wait hope for it all to go brown and then let me get down on my hands and knees to pull all the dead weeds out.
 An hour in the peaceful sunshine, chatting to neighbours passing by, no money spent - result!

Any tips for gardening on the cheap? 

Monday, 21 July 2014

Hallooooo! Summer hols 30 day challenge, Day 1.

Hi everyone, sorry I've been away so long - where has the time gone?!! 
 I've been stopping by on all your lovely blogs as often as I can, I just haven't had the time to comment let alone post anything new here.
Today is the first 'official' day of the school holidays and I am sooo ready for six weeks off. It has been such a tough year for us mentally, physically and financially. Since September I have been working 8 hour shifts with 2 yr old children in a Nursery and Malcolm has been back with the Council grass cutting and emptying bins since February.
At 50 and 53 it has taken it's toll on our increasingly aching bods, but it's good to be working - I'm just glad that I'm term time only!
Unfortunately Malcolm's job is only seasonal, ending in October and not due to start again until April next year. This and several years of unemployment following redundancy have meant us racking up some serious debt. We are constantly trying to live within our means and reduce that debt where we can. Many thanks to those of you with good advice to offer on frugal living, I have already made big changes.
To keep me focussed and help us further on our way I have set myself a 30 day challenge. During my six week break there are 30 'working' days (weekends off - don't want to be too drastic, it's my first ever challenge!) On each day I will take at least one action to
  • reduce costs 
  • save money 
  • make money
  • find extra work 
  • generally help our financial situation
Today I have sorted out our Annual Renewal for Tax Credits.
I'm not sure where this fits in with the above as it may result in a reduction in income - obviously not the desired effect. However we were overpaid last year for Working Tax Credit (our fault, not theirs - oops!) so I really wanted to get back on an even keel. This seemed as good a place to start my challenge as any, it feels good to have it out of the way too.

Wish me luck!

What have you done recently to help your finances or live more frugally? I'd love to read your comments.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Etsy Treasury # 3

Here's an Etsy Treasury I put together the other day from the many talented crafters on that site.
I was inspired by the start of Spring, the welcome sunshine and the flowers seen on my dog walks.
 I hope you take time for a little look to brighten your day!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Seafood...and eat it!

My husband came home with these three beauties the other day, certainly a more welcome sight than the turnip!
Living in a fishing port we have had seafood fresh from the boats in the past but you have to be around when they come in. Our local fishmonger sells a limited stock, in our humble opinion, and requires you to order crab in advance.
These were procured, for a mere £3 (yes, for all three!) after a timely chat with the Harbour Master :-D

I make no apologies if your squeamish about this sort of thing and certainly won't be offended if you read no further. My daughter would be repulsed, but the rest of the family find it delicious! 


This big guy was making a bid for freedom when my son came in from school.
"Er...you do know that one's still moving?"


He weighed in at well over a kilo.


"This calls for the BIG pot!"


After much hard work my husband managed to get enough from the three of them for crab salad and crusty bread for the three of us, two days in a row - absolutely delicious! 

Ironically, my Mum treated us to a meal out at our local seafood restaurant at the weekend (in lieu of a birthday present for my husband). We both had a half lobster, chips and salad at a stately £17 each!!



Thursday, 27 February 2014

Turnip!

My husband popped home from work today toting a black bin bag that appeared to be rather heavy. 'I bumped into Ray' he said, in explanation and drove off again. I lugged the bag into the kitchen, it being indeed as heavy as it looked and man-handled it (or woman-handled it) onto the table. The shapes inside felt like severed body parts, I was sure I could make out at least one head!
Inside was this haul of jumbo veg.


The potato is there to show scale and is a very ordinary, medium sized potato!
Ray,to explain, is a friend of ours who has an allotment and keeps chickens. Over the years we have had tons of delicious eggs, potatoes, peas, beans, tomatoes and other veg in season delivered to our door by Ray. He single-handedly kept us in the freshest of goodies while our children were growing up - all for, quite literally, chickenfeed (allotment keepers can't sell for a profit, only seed money etc.)
Ray, however, does NOT produce baby vegetables!
We are used to cabbages as big as your head - but this turnip beats them all!!


This baby weighs in at 5 kilos and has a circumference of 70 cm. I think I will be cooking it until Christmas, please excuse me while I head to the shed for a saw!!
Bless you, Ray, you're a star :-D

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Tiddlypots!

I made these lovely little knitted pots over the weekend and popped them in my shop to see if they would sell. I'm sure I can find many uses for them if they don't!





I found the pattern in Craftseller magazine, which I love. It is a Gina Alton design from Pots To Knit And Crochet. 
I'm now off to raid my stash (along with the biscuit tin!) and see what variations I can make.

Peace, love and chocolate biscuits :-D x

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Dresden Plates - my first attempt at hand quilting.

Some time ago I pieced together some Dresden Plate flowers and I've finally got around to doing something with them!


I managed to make 2 each of the 4 colourways with material from my stash using the English paper piecing method. My favourite toy piece of equipment, my Sizzix Big Shot, was used to cut out my paper shapes.


I love EPP for patchwork as I can be downstairs watching telly or listening to the radio with Malcolm. While my sewing machine is great for bigger items like cushion covers or bags I prefer to do most crafting by hand. Although it's more time-consuming it just seems more satisfying and therapeutic, like making bread by hand rather than in a bread machine.
Also, I have to use Bethany's bedroom (when she's at uni) or the kitchen table for my sewing machine, with the ironing board set up in the living room - not very conducive to the creative process!!
I've wanted to have a go at quilting for some time but found the idea of tackling a whole quilt very daunting, especially with a basic sewing machine like mine (and my even more basic skills!) So with this in mind and the reasons mentioned above, I decided to combine hand-quilting with quilt-as-you go for new project.


Ooops, wait!
I had to remember to remove all my paper pieces before pinning the layers together!!


My first two finished blocks


and the back, not perfect but I kinda like that!


All I need to do now is decide what to make them all into. The blocks are 12" square and there are 8 of them. I could intersperse them with other blocks and use sashing and borders to increase the size. I'm thinking maybe a wall hanging or cot quilt....
..... any ideas?



Love you, Dad!

Here's my lovely husband (somewhere under there!) trying to enjoy a Friday night beer while getting a Valentines Day 'kiss' from our dog, Angel lol!!


Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Crochet cushion ta-dah!

Here's my latest item for my Etsy shop, a lovely plump purple and blue crochet front cushion.


When I began this project I had no particular purpose for it other than having something to do. Malcolm is always asking "what are you making?" and more often than not the answer is "I don't know yet, it depends what it turns into"
Does anybody else work in this way?
I currently have 8 completed Dresden Plate style patchwork flowers which may or may not become 8 small cushions, 2 large cushions or a duvet cover. Who knows what they may morph themselves into!

Peace, love and marshmallows xx