Tuesday, 30 September 2014

And that has been September

And what a month it has been!  

We packed the EFG off to Aberdeen......

(image from studyin-uk.com)

and she has settled in well.  She's now on her third week of lectures and labs.  The YFG's godparents took her to a fancy French restaurant in the city last Friday night with their son, and she reports that she felt under dressed but that the food was amazing.  Well, they asked her to meet them in Wetherspoon's so I guess she could be forgiven for not dressing up!

The YFG has gone back to school in Year 11, the big GCSE year, and she has several positions of responsibility - she's a peer mentor for a Y8 child, and a Senior Prefect.  I'm very proud of her, and she is working hard.  She's having a fitness kick at the moment and doing Davina DVDs every other night, too, in between her homework.  She continues to help out at the gym club on Fridays and Saturdays, and is a really lovely house mate!

And me?  Well, I achieved my aim and found the perfect temporary job - and I am on week 2 now.  The lady who is mentoring me, and monitoring me by listening to the calls I make, says I am doing well, so I am hoping that I will get more confident soon!  

Financially, we are getting ourselves sorted out.  I had a hiccup yesterday when I had a letter from the Tax credits people about our old joint claim which they hadn't closed down properly, so I spent a good while in a queue on the phone in the afternoon to get through to a real live person!  That should be resolved soon.  The Widowed Parent's Allowance has finally begun this month, and we are beginning to know how a real month will pan out on this new kind of income.  It's not the income we used to have, but there are only two of us to manage on it, and if I am honest, it is more than I feared we would have to survive on, so I am very grateful, as always.  Thankful is my middle name.

The house is in a better state of repair - I have had the guttering cleaned out and fixed,  The chimney has been professionally swept and a minor repair carried out to the back of the stove.  The workshop door has been made secure again and the poo pit pump has been replaced.  It has been an expensive month, in this respect, but one in which we feel we have moved forward significantly at last!

Here's to October - bring it on!

Monday, 29 September 2014


Yesterday went well, and I had a good time all round.  We did notice that people were missing, but we were ok.  The EFG participated in the afternoon visit of the relatives because we had her on a video call using Google Hangout, and we sat the tablet on the shelf so that she could see and hear what was going on!  She also had an individual quick word with everyone who came, which amused the "oldies".  

My cousin brought a large Tesco chocolate cake, and the YFG made a special coffee and walnut sponge for me whilst I was out in the morning at the chapel.  

So we had the two of us, my dad, and his partner, MB.  Then my late mum's two brothers, UJ and P, P's wife and daughter, and daughter's husband!  A neighbour and her daughter popped round with a wee gift and card for me, so they stayed for tea and cake as well, which was a lovely added extra.  

Dad and MB and UJ stayed a while longer than the others, then Dad and MB left, and UJ had a sandwich and watched the One Man and His Dog competition on Countryfile, before he left as well. In the evening, I was able to sit and watch Downton in peace.

The EFG sent me a Moonpig mug with some photos of us all on it, and the YFG wrapped up a couple of things I had bought for myself - a copy of the latest Jack Reacher novel, Personal, and a new Bible. Some would say that the Jack Reacher novel was far from frugal, but hey!  If I can't reap the benefits of being frugal and have a wee splurge now and again, when can I?!  To me, it is a good buy because it will be read time and time again - I love to read and re-read because I always notice something different each time and find myself reading an ever so slightly different story, but that is just me.  Hardback books are an investment to me, and I usually buy Lee Child and Phillipa Gregory in hardback, because I know that I will get my money's worth!!

My sister sent a parcel with UJ, and it was a lovely cloth bag and a diary.  The neighbour brought a scented candle which was a lovely thought, and I was appreciative.  

I have managed to work the allotted three hours today and had a good selection of calls answered!  Just on the day when my voice would have appreciated people not answering their phones, it seemed as if every other person I called was in and chatty - never mind, it is good for business, I suppose.  The throat isn't too sore tonight, but I am off to have a bath and read some more Jack Reacher soon.

In the kitchen this week

There's a certain amount of repetition going on at the moment as we are clearing out the freezers a little!  As long as they are meals we like, we don't mind.....

Today we are having cold chicken left over from the weekend's roast chook, served with some rice and veggies.

Tuesday will be sausages, with mash and veg.  We do have a vast supply of sausages at present.  I can see them looming large every week for a while.

Wednesday we'll have some fish: the YFG may well have fish in batter and I love river cobbler.

Thursday night, after working after the piano lesson, the YFG can zap some lasagne and I will just have a snack.

Friday night will be a Cottage pie that I am going to try to make earlier in the day so that we can just ding it when we get home from gymnastics.

Saturday night the YFG is babysitting but I don't yet know what time, so it'll have to be something quick and easy......

and Sunday?  Haven't quite got there yet!  A freezer rummage will be due before then.....

Hope you all have a good week. I am going to attempt to work this morning for a while but if folk can't hear what I am saying, I may have to have a break and try again later.  I feel not too bad, but I have lost a lot of voice - not good for telephone work!

Sunday, 28 September 2014

One of the FH's favourites

The FH used to say that I got lucky because this lovely lady wasn't available.  She was one of his favourite television actresses, and he was guaranteed to want to watch anything [apart from Loose Women] that she was in.  Lynda Bellingham has had a stage and screen career over many decades, and I have read the sad news that she has terminal cancer.  Our thoughts are with her and her family, as they hope to enjoy Christmas together this year, perhaps for the last time.

She was the second actress to play Christopher Timothy/James Herriot's wife, Helen.

(image from cinemaparadiso.co.uk)

She played the long-suffering mother of the Oxo family for many years, and she was brilliant!  We all eagerly waited for a "new" snapshot into their lives.

(image from theguardian.com)

She was awarded an OBE this year for an acting career of over 40 years - what an achievement!

Lynda Bellingham is best known for being on Loose Women and the Oxo mum.
(image from itv.com)

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Morning comes around again!

I woke up several times in the night with a throat feeling as if it was full of razor blades, but this morning it does feel a little better but still sore.....a morning at gym will be a challenge - perhaps I shall develop my own sign language for forward rolls, cartwheels and handstands!  I have broken out a jar of special Jarra honey from Australia that a friend gave me the last time I had a cold, and it tastes like treacle, certainly very soothing for the throat.

The EFG sent me a very special parcel yesterday for my birthday tomorrow.  She asked the YFG to video me opening it, which we did when the YFG came home from school yesterday - but now the file is too big to email to her - whoops!  The gift is a Moonpig mug, and she has decorated it with pictures of all the family, including one of her with the FH when she was a baby!  I shall treasure it, but I SHALL use it - it won't just be put on a shelf and admired.

Tomorrow afternoon the Lincolnshire relatives are descending, and bringing food for a birthday tea, so I shall be spoiled!

Off to gym this morning - hope you all have a good day.  I am just about to hang out the first load of washing, as apparently it will stay dry today, fingers crossed!

Friday, 26 September 2014

Good news and bad

Good news - we raised just about £130 for Macmillan this morning - very pleased.  Not so good - I've been sneezing like mad all day and have got a horrible cold :(

It's MACMILLAN day today

(image from thetelegraphandargus.co.uk)

All my baking is ready to go and we are having a Macmillan Coffee Morning at the chapel today. All the ladies who usually Knit and Natter will be bringing their friends and having some lovely baking and raising money for Macmillan's cause.  I have been doing this for quite a few years now, and we usually raise in the region of £100, which is good for a little chapel get-together.  I do it in memory of my lovely mum, who died of cancer in 1998.  If you know of a Coffee Morning in your local area, I would encourage you to pop in and support them.

Thursday, 25 September 2014


I have no doubt that God speaks to us, if we care to listen.

I was feeling a little miserable on Tuesday evening about this new job, as I am finding it a very steep learning curve, and I am having to be corrected, which doesn't sit too easy at this stage; rationally, I know that I am doing OK and the mentor to whom I have been assigned has been positive about what I am doing, but it still rankles a little that she has to correct me sometimes.

Tuesday night I went to bed, determined to find some things about the job to be thankful for, and I did.  I reminded myself that this was the job I had asked for, prayed for, and looked for.  It almost dropped in my lap.  I wanted part time work [yes], at home if at all possible or at least locally [yes], I wanted to start in September [yes] and I needed some flexibility [got that too].

Then, yesterday morning, the YFG went out of the door to catch the bus, and came back 10 minutes later looking more like a drowned rat and slightly tearful, saying that she couldn't go to school all wet like this and had missed the bus now.  We scurried about and she found some dry clothes and shoes, and we went off to school in the car.  Halfway there, she said she was sorry that she'd put me to the bother.  I told her not to be daft, and that that was the point of me taking the job, so that I could be at home for her when she needed me - I just started work at 9.30am instead of 9am.  It was as if I was reminding Myself that that was the point, too!

God spoke powerfully yesterday and showed me that this is a temporary job, perhaps just for a couple of years, but it is one that I can be good at eventually.  However, I need to learn to TAKE direction again, to be humble and to learn to follow someone else's rules - I have been used to leading and making the rules, answering to no one particularly in some areas of my life, and God has gently shown me that this is a learning curve in more ways than one.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014


Good evening, friends - sorry I am not saying a lot today - I feel quite shattered!  An early night is on the cards and I hope to feel more lively in the morning.........

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Voucher alert

I have checked the Aldi Facebook page and it has just been posted about an hour ago that there will be a £5 off a £45 spend voucher in the Daily Mirror & Record this week on Thursday.

They seem to be varying the amount we have to spend - I am sure last month's was off £40 but it has been off £45 a lot of the time.  

I don't think I will be taking up the offer this month, as we are pretty well stocked up, and I have a Tesco delivery coming in the morning.  When they offer you £15 off a £60 shop [which amounts to a 25% discount, surely] I don't mind spending £1 to have it delivered.  The diesel to go to the store would cost me more than that!

I do hope that the Aldi voucher info is of use to some people - I'll be looking out for it next month, I'm sure.

Brain ache

Yesterday I had to admit defeat and go to bed at 9.30pm which is quite early for me!  I had been on the phone for the requisite three hours, and hadn't had a bad day with the work on the first day - I made a few bookings, spoke to some people, got a lot of numbers not answered, and only had a couple of stroppy folk.......it was a relief to get to the end of the day, though.

This morning we are up early as the YFG is going on a school trip and has to be in school at 8am to catch the bus.  They are off to some science labs to see some Physics "stuff" and she is quite interested in science so I hope she has a good day.

That supermarket is in the headlines again today - half its market value wiped off the share price yesterday!  Quite a shock, really but this is the shape of things to come, I am afraid.

I'm off now, but shall endeavour to pop back later and read your blogs.  Hope you have a good day x

Monday, 22 September 2014

This week in the kitchen

I've been hard at work rummaging in the freezers and the fridge to see what needs using up.  I still have to work harder at not wasting food and getting to grips with only buying what the two of us will reasonably expect to eat.  The chickens have had to help me out with too-far-gone fruit this week, and some sweetcorn.  I will get there.  On the electricity front, I have successfully had our Direct Debit reduced from £70.50 a month to £50 a month, which is the lowest they say they can go on the tariff.  I shall monitor that and see how close it is to the usage, and then it may be time to switch tariff if that really is the case.  We have used as many as 18 units of electricity a day in the past, but this week just gone, our average was 10 units each day - which I think is pretty good going!

The menu for this week ahead looks like this:

Monday - Chicken/bacon/veg and sweet potato casserole [yes, we had this last week, but we both loved it and I still have two more sweet potatoes to use up, so we thought we'd enjoy it again!  We had it two nights in a row last week because we liked it so much, we didn't want to freeze the leftovers...]

Tuesday - Gym night for me so the YFG is going to do Baked potatoes again - we'll probably vary the fillings a bit, depending on what we can find in the fridge and what we fancy!  Tuna, perhaps?

Wednesday - A stir fry

Thursday - Busy day with piano lesson right before supper and I have to work for an hour as well, so the YFG will have lasagne from the freezer and I'll do something with a couple of sausages when I have finished work.

Friday - I'm going to cook some sticky chicken drumsticks during the day and chill them, then serve them cold with a quick stir fry when we get home from gymnastics.

Saturday - the YFG's favourite weekend supper - fish and chips and peas - all from the freezer.  I might get the river cobbler I didn't have last night.

Sunday - my birthday so my favourite - roast chicken.  Means we'll have several chicken dinners ahead to use it all up.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Peace, perfect peace

(image from internationaldayofpeace.org)

Today is International Day of Peace, commemorated each year, and recognised by the United Nations.

A day to pray for peace around the world.

A day to remember those who live in unsettled and violent times.

A day to be thankful for the peace we enjoy at home.


[There is a website at http://internationaldayofpeace.org/ where you can check what events are going on near you.]

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Patience and dedication

I think that those are two qualities I am going to be in need of with this new job so I shall begin tomorrow, after church, researching the brands of cars I have been assigned to look after - Mercedes and Skoda.

Apart from all of that, life continues apace, as usual!  This afternoon I have had a church ladies' group here for a couple of hours of chatting and hatching plans, which has been interesting and fun.  I have also done an online supermarket order from that place I am not that fond of, but when they send you an invitation to get £15 off when you spend £60, it seems churlish not to take advantage - the cat is now well stocked up for the next month or two, for example, and we have enough squash on order to float a small boat, but best to order stuff which has a long shelf life when you are planning ahead.

The EFG rang the house phone and found it engaged whilst I was talking to my dad, so she had a chat with the YFG on her mobile whilst I was busy, then I had to pay for the shopping, and put the tea on for the YFG and her friend, so I have just tried to ring her back and she isn't answering at the moment.  Hopefully I can catch her later - my dad reported that she rang him last night and had a wee blether about life.  I gather from this end of the conversation with the YFG that there might have been some demonstrations in Aberdeen today or last night about the result of the referendum - she did share last night that English students had been advised to keep a low profile last night. I hope that the emotions which have no doubt been stirred up soon settle down.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

And then it went POP!

My brain, that is!

(image from reviveactive.com)

I have endured three hours of training on the phone and internet, and that included some role play - which was painful!  My brain hasn't been under this kind of pressure for ages - and it shows!!  I am trying to make myself a giant flowchart to stick on the wall near my desk for quick reference whilst I am on the phone making calls, so that I don't forget anything vital.  You may have to excuse me for a day or two whilst I get my head around all of this next week - I think the learning curve is going to be so steep I may need crampons!

A new start

Today I begin the training for the new job - a new start - and the first time I will have been employed since I was a waitress in a posh hotel in St Andrews as a student!  I have to say that it feels weird, but I am sure that it is something I shall get used to in the long run.  Having to work to someone else's rules will be a bit of a change, but hitting targets for the job will hark back to Usborne selling days!

So, three hours of training today starting at 11am, on the internet and the phone simultaneously, and then "start work" on Monday.  I'm nervous, I'm excited, I'm relieved.......so much better for the YFG and I to have me working at home than having to travel, wear a uniform and be restricted to specific hours if I worked in a supermarket or shop, for example.

I have to work three hours a day, so 15 hours over the week, but three of the hours must be worked in the slot between 6 and 8pm between Monday and Thursday.  I can do most of the work in the daytime and then I think that I shall do 90 minutes on Monday and Thursday evenings.

There is a FB group for the people who work for this company, as everyone works at home, so it is a way of interacting with others who do the same or similar roles.

God does answer prayer - I always said I was looking for a job I would be able to start in September, and be part time.  If I could do the job at home, so much the better.  Strikes on all accounts - thank you, Father!  I have felt particularly watched-over and blessed these past couple of weeks.  God is good.

Better go - need to review some documents this morning before the training.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Love and loss

Hop on over to Ann Voskamp's blog and read some really wise words from her guest writer yesterday, Lisa-Jo Baker, whose book, Surprised By Motherhood, sounds like a good read....another one for my book list.

Lisa-Jo is very eloquent and says what I would like to say but just can't put into words right now.  I do wonder about how the girls are grieving, and whether I am "doing the right things" for them, but they don't say a lot and I don't want to push them into talking if they don't want to do so.  Space and grace look like the way to go.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

A frugal break

Thank you all for your comments and ideas to enable us to spend a couple of days in Aberdeen with the EFG at half term.  I still don't know whether it will actually come off, but I hope to sort it out for sure today.

I have found that there is a Youth Hostel in Aberdeen, and there are family rooms that can be taken for a few days there.  At various prices, so we can pick and choose how we want to spend our cash.  I don't think that the YFG will be very keen on sleeping in a multi-person dormitory with people she doesn't know, so a room might be best for us.  We can also self-cater there, which is an important aspect for us.

For the ride north, I think that we will be letting the train take the strain, as they say.  It takes a lot of worry away from me, and it will be good to go on the train a couple of times with the YFG so that when she is a wee bit older, she can make the journey to see her sister on her own.  With a Friends and Family railcard, the cost will be in the region of £120 or so, and it would easily cost me more than that for diesel if I was to attempt the drive!  Apart from that, I don't really fancy driving nearly 500 miles in a day, twice in one week...

The last time we travelled on the train at the October half term, we made the mistake of doing the journeys on the Saturdays when we went to Burghead near Forres in Moray.  We loved the holiday, but the train journeys weren't great because the trains were so packed with other holiday makers.  Perhaps by travelling on the Monday and Thursday or Friday, we may be able to avoid the rush.

There are other options, as my sister has offered to get a cottage for the half term so that we can see the EFG.  I don't know whether to stick to the original plans, or to go with her, or to let the YFG and UJ go with her.  There was a plan that the YFG and UJ would go up at half term with my cousin and her husband, but that plan fell through when the husband couldn't get the time off work.  I will be talking with my sister today to see what she thinks.

The slight spanner in the works is that I was offered a job yesterday!  I won't have accrued any holiday allowance by the end of October, and apparently, all holiday for the year has to be booked by January 1st each year!  Missed that deadline, then.

If we manage to go on the trip, I think that the days off will be allowed, as I did tell the interviewer yesterday that I had plans, but I will be taking them as unpaid leave.  To someone who has been self-employed for so long, that makes sense - if you don't work, you don't get paid.

Watch this space......

Monday, 15 September 2014

In the kitchen

Bright and early on a busy Monday morning and there is a lasagne cooking away in the oven, ready for the YFG's supper tonight.  I've got a meeting to go to at the school this afternoon, and a church meeting tonight so I thought it would be good to get it made and ready for her to "ping" in the microwave later on.  There are four portions in the pan, so she will have another one later in the week, and some will be stashed away in the freezer for another week.  I shall be doing the same trick with a chicken casserole later this week.

There were actually six portions when I dished it out.

The menu for this week looks like this:

Monday - Lasagne for the YFG and chicken liver & veg for me.
Tuesday - Baked potato and beans/tuna/cheese/salad, etc combinations
Wednesday - Chicken thigh & sweet potato casserole
Thursday - Risotto
Friday - Lasagne for the YFG and sausages for me
Saturday - Fish and chips [from the freezer] for the YFG and river cobbler and veg for me....

There are things I can't eat, which means I can't share all that the YFG wants to eat.  We have to adapt some of the meals to tweak them so that there is a version I can eat as well as the one she wants to enjoy.  All that I have bought specifically for this menu is the sweet potatoes, as we have got everything else in the store cupboards, freezer or vegetable rack.

Whilst I have got the oven on, I am going to pop a tray of flapjack in, and then use up some spotty bananas by making some banana and walnut cake, so I'd better get on.  See you later!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Sharing and caring

The poor cat doesn't think much to it, but there is a hedgehog coming for a nightly feast on the cat biscuits, it seems!

The cat who lives here [she's not "our" cat] has tinned meat in small portions twice daily but has access to cat biscuits to munch on whenever she is peckish.  I try to keep that bowl topped up most of the time, and I thought she was getting through quite a lot just lately.  I did wonder whether some of the other neighbourhood cats were coming round to share it with her, but then this week I have been out to the freezer late twice, and nearly tripped over a good sized hedgepig with its nose in the bowl, having a jolly good munch on the biscuits.  No doubt it is also the wee chap which is drinking her water as well!

I buy cat biscuits at Lidl's at 99p/kg so I don't begrudge a hedgehog a feed - the cat isn't ours anyway, so I might as well just put the biscuits out for whoever needs a midnight feast. It's good to have hedgehogs in the garden to keep the slug population under control, although this one might not bother with too many slugs if I let it feast on the cat food!  Balance is required, I think......

Hope you have a good Sunday.  I am off to chapel this morning, and then my dad is coming over this afternoon.  I also have a heap of ironing to keep me occupied at some point today - school shirts!  The weather looks set fair for one more day at least, so I hope to be able to spend some time in the garden, getting it ready for autumn and winter.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

EFG update

We have been chatting with the EFG nearly every day on Google Hangout which is a really useful app to have - it saves using up our minutes on our phones, and means that we can see each other too.  I have to admit that some of the time, she looks a bit miserable - sometimes tired, sometimes bored!  She is having a long week this week, with nothing too structured to do and lots of leisure time - the cinema is offering students free showings of films and there is a free bus to get home afterwards, but the film didn't start until 10.30pm last night, so she is rather worn out this morning.  It is lovely when we get a glimmer of a smile, though......hoping for more of those as she gets more involved.

I just keep telling myself that she has got to go through this process of becoming more self-sufficient, although it is rather painful for me to watch.  Once the lectures and labs begin next week, I know that she will thrive on it all, and be more engaged.  She hasn't said that she wants to come home yet, anyway!

Friday, 12 September 2014

Getting that letter

As I blogged last month, I thought that I should be entitled to Widowed Parent's Allowance but it seemed to be taking for ever to come through.  I knew that the FH had paid the requisite amount of NI, or so I believed anyway, and couldn't see what the delay was.

I phoned up again last week, and at last someone could explain: there can't be an account open connected to my NI number for WPA whilst there is an account open on the FH's NI number for Old Age Pension, as our NI numbers are connected to one another because we were married......so the OAP account had got to be closed down before the WPA account could be opened.

These things take time........I was trying very hard to be patient, but I really wanted to KNOW!

And, at last, on Monday, a brown envelope turned up, to tell me that yes, I am entitled to WPA whilst the YFG is here and I get Child Benefit for her.  WPA is not a fortune, but it makes a heck of a difference in our circumstances.  It gives me three years of leeway in being able to be here for the YFG when she gets home from school, of not having to take just any job that I can find.  It means that I can be very careful with cash and probably only work part time, so that I don't have to leave her to go and work very odd shifts in Tesco - I have looked on the jobsearch websites and some Tesco [and other supermarkets, for that matter] jobs ARE rather odd shift patterns!

We won't be able to afford foreign holidays, we won't eat out and we won't be wearing the latest fashions.  We'll be careful with our money, as usual, and we'll get by.  We will probably be able to stay in this house for a while longer, which gives me more time to get the FH's workshop sorted out and the house smartened up for viewings.

I have applied for a couple of jobs this week.  I shall keep looking :)

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Knitting book review

(image from www.amazon.co.uk)

I borrowed this book from the library and it is due back this week, so I thought I had better get on with the review whilst I still had it here!  I was glad to find it in the library because I had been looking at it on The Book People's website for some time, and being a bit tempted to buy it.  Having borrowed it from the library, I'm glad I didn't succumb to temptation!

There are some very useful pages at the beginning with clear instructions on how to fix problems, so "fixing dropped stitches", "undoing stitches" and "unravelling rows" are covered with good photos.

However, I feel that the patterns do throw one in slightly at the deep end, with the first pattern being for a scarf and mitts combo, including thumbs on the mittens - something which fills me with dread! 

Other patterns at the beginning of the book include writstwarmers made in the flat and then sewn up, a bobble hat, and then we move very quickly into a round neck sweater which involves shaping and picking up stitches for the neckband.  There is also an intarsia cardigan with a shawl collar which is beautiful, and a Fair Isle tank top, worked from a colour chart.

The patterns are beautiful, but for a book which seems at first glance to be aimed at beginners, I think that there aren't enough simple projects for practising the generation of even stitches and good tension.  If you are an intermediate knitter, able to tackle "slightly tricky" knits, then this is a good book, I think.  If you are a beginner, I would say that there are better books out there to help build confidence and good practice in knitting.  The EFG had a look at this one too, and loved some of the patterns but said, "That's not for beginners."  Given the simplicity of the front cover pattern, one could expect a book like this to be filled with relatively easy patterns, but that is the trouble with buying books on t'internet - I love good old bookshops for browsing!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Calling Aberdeen folk.....

Ideas for relatively frugal places to stay if we want to go to visit the EFG for a few days please?  Probably travelling by train, so not in the middle of nowhere, but car hire a possibility....Self-catering would be useful too.  If you have students there yourself, where have you stayed?  If you are a native, where are the places you would recommend please?

I'm asking because the lovely flat we stayed in in March is already booked out :( Not quick enough off the mark with that one.  The YFG would like to go up to see her sister in our October half term. I'm trying to work out if I can afford it.

Many thanks!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Embarassed at the till

How do you think you would feel at the till if the cashier passed comment on the amount you had spent?

The YFG and I were in Lidl's on Sunday afternoon, standing at the till, a couple of people behind a lady and her husband who were putting their shopping through and packing it as the cashier checked it off.  They did have a trolley full of goods, and I was idly wondering how much it would come to, but even I was a bit shocked when the cashier asked her for just over £170.  I couldn't see all their shopping, and I would guess that for a trolley of shopping to have reached that value in Lidl, they probably bought quite a bit of meat, perhaps.

However, I wasn't prepared for the cashier to pass a comment on the shopping - along the lines of that was the most he had ever put through a till, and what a lot they had spent.....I don't think any hole would have been big enough to swallow me if someone had said that to me!

The lady was very dignified, and replied, "Oh, this is just a standard...." and I thought she was going to say "monthly" but she said "weekly shop for us" and then I was a little surprised.  She went on to explain that this was for her and her husband and three children.

My thoughts on the cashier's comments are that he had no right to discuss that family's purchases like that, and to embarrass the lady, making her feel that she had to justify her shopping.  Yes, she had bought a lot of food, but if he hadn't drawn attention to it, the rest of the queue wouldn't have thought much about it, and I certainly would just have thought that she was doing a big monthly shop.  If families can afford to spend that much each week, good luck to them - I will stick to my budget and think about what to say to a cheeky cashier!

Monday, 8 September 2014

Beetroot chutney recipes for Andrea

Andrea has asked for the beetroot chutney recipe.......I google myself these days, Andrea!  If you know that there is a recipe in the archive here somewhere, the easiest thing to go is to go to Google and put in "growing in the fens beetroot chutney" [for example] and the relevant posts will appear.

I know that I post recipes on here, but I don't always remember when I posted them, and I am far from organised enough to tag posts, so I resort to good old Google.

Here are the links to the beetroot chutney recipes I have posted in the past - the Sainsbury's magazine one and my mum's.  I hope the chutney turns out well, Andrea, and thanks for your comment xxx

Scratch that

One of the most basic ideas in thrifty or frugal cooking is to make food "from scratch" which means from the most basic ingredients, without the use of convenience or pre-prepared items.  I find that this is really the best way to get the most out of the food budget, because we are not paying for someone else's time and energy in doing some of the preparation work.

I was mooching around the internet on Saturday morning, having a little browse and looking for some new recipes.....as you do!  Occasionally, anyway.

I came across a link to an American lady's website, which promised frugal food, and there was a lovely looking recipe for Lemon cakes, which were made in a traybake pan, and the headline promised that there were only 3 ingredients for this cake - so I was intrigued.....

Headed over there, and what did I find?  Three ingredients?  Yes.  OK.  But they were ONE box lemon cake mix, ONE box instant vanilla pudding mix and some butter......I don't even know what the UK equivalent of instant pudding mix is, although I suspect it might be something like Angel Delight, but to say I was disappointed with that recipe was an understatement.

To make that from scratch would involve, I would think, eggs, flour, butter, sugar, lemons, perhaps milk.......and it would probably be cheaper than buying boxes of who knows what.  And I already have a good recipe for a lemon tray bake, so I am no further forward in expanding my repertoire!

Sunday, 7 September 2014

The important things

The EFG sent me some photos of her room last night, and I have had a text exchange with her this morning, although we also had a long chat on the phone last night too!

She has a warm, safe space of her own.  Her bed looks cosy.  And do you see that pile of quilts on the end of the bed, right in the corner? That wee blue one on the top is one that I made for her as a pram quilt when she was a baby - and she has taken it with her for a tiny touch of home - I was touched to see that in the packing bags!

And my sister took her to Lidl's before she left, so she has a wee stash of food to be going on with!

Unfortunately, there is only a small fridge freezer to be shared between 5 people, and the rooms were previously for catered students, not self-catering, so there was not such a demand on the space.  Requests have been put in for a larger one, or an additional one, so they might end up with more room; the EFG is feeling like she needs to eat some of her fridge food quickly because she is taking up more than her share of the fridge space since they went shopping before they knew the size of the fridge!

I'm relieved that I have pictures of the room she is living in, and I have spoken with her at length.  She IS a wee bit lonely at the moment, but she hasn't had time to find many friends yet, only acquaintances, and I know from experience that once "normal" life starts on the 15th with lectures, labs, seminars etc, she will find it much better - this week always felt a bit weird to me, and I prefer the structure of the work!

Thanks for all your kind words and support!  We know we are not the only ones with a student just leaving home, and we are reassured that we will all be fine in the long run!  Hope you have a good Sunday - we have a baptism at chapel this morning so I am looking forward to that.