Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Now or Never

We're all moaning about the lack of summer but I'm quite confident that September and October will be as gorgeous as last year.  I remember being on the beach after school in October, in our shorts, slapping on suncream.

And I won't be caught out this year!  I will have my transformed garden in time for breakfast and dinner in the September sun!

I'd love an orangery, but we just don't have the room.  We've a small garden that needs the most of every inch making of it.  Here's a gorgeous summer room extension that the highly skilled (and most importantly, tidy and affordable) builders at Space Construction undertook last year.

Complete with everyone's must have - Bifold Doors
A lovely airy, spacious summer room

Our garden has been put off and put off year after year.  \Do you have things that are put off and put off and never get done?

The lads at Space Construction get most of their work by word of mouth and recommendation. They are able to advise on the best options for maintenance of your property to avoid costly renovation nightmares.

So if you're on the Fylde coast and your home is in need of a spruce up or repair, speak to Craig on 01253 341878 for a free, no obligation quote.  There's more examples of their work and testimonals on their webpage. (If you're after a new kitchen, there's some stunning examples on their website)

This is a sponsored post as part of my Sponsor of the Month advertising package.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Meal Planning Monday - Lunch & Dinner Special

They never stop eating! Boys that is. After a week of constant scoffing, I'm going on a two pronged attack of planning lunch and dinner in an attempt to fill them.

So here it is:

Lunch - Macaroni Cheese
Dinner - Shepherds Pie

Lunch - Burgers (made of shepherds pie leftovers) and potato Wedges
Dinner - Chicken Roast Dinner

Lunch - Chicken Pilaf (from left over chicken)
Dinner - Chicken Enchiladas (using the last of the chicken)

Lunch: Cowboy Casserole
Dinner: Fish Pie with lots of veg

Lunch: Home made sausage rolls & cheese & tomato squares
Dinner: Spaghetti Bolognaise

I'm also installing a permanent fixture of a big tub of fruit salad in the fridge for between meals.

If this plan doesn't work, they'll be getting cooked breakfasts next week.

How do you fill your kids up?

There's loads more meal planning inspiration on Mrs M's blog

Sunday Breakfast - Cheesy Bacon Butty

(Apologies for the lack of photo, I'm typing this before making it. I'll update with a pic when I get chance)

I first came across this on a Saturday butty order about 15 years ago when I worked in a car dealership. I thought it was odd and week in week out would raise my eyebrows wondering where this concoction came from. Germany was the answer. The salesman that regularly ordered it was married to a German lady.

I tried it once and found its the best start to a day where you might miss lunch!! Here's how I make it..

You Will Need:

A large barmcake (tea cake, bap, roll - insert correct regional word for round bread!

A handful of grated cheese

Two bacon rashers

Two mushrooms

Half a sliced tomato

How To Make It

1. Lightly toast your barmcake

2. Cook your bacon as you like it

3. Slice and cook the mushrooms with the bacon

4. Put the bacon on the barmcake followed by the mushrooms, sliced tomato and sprinkle the grated cheese over the top

5. Grill until the cheese melts

6. Put the top of the barmcake on and enjoy.

It's really tasty so you won't need sauce. It's also more filling than it looks and a great way to get a decent amount of food down if your short of time.

If you try this, please let me know what you think

What's you're favourite Sunday breakfast?

Saturday, 28 July 2012

The International Instruction Register

I have got a drawer full, crammed full of instruction books for various appliances and toys, some of which we don't even own anymore.

And I suspect everyone has the same drawer of instructions.

Lost Instructions

I've several issues with this...

1)  If they were just in English, they wouldn't take up so much room

2)  Even if I was organised and put them in a file, in alphabetical order, they'd still be taking up space.

3)  If I scan them into the computer, I'll still probably never use them and they'll take up room again.

4)  If I ever need instructions, they will be the ones I threw away.

So my solution to this is an International Instruction Register.  Most manufacturers do have their instructions online for people like me who periodically (read habitually) lose things, so I think all instructions should be available for download from one site that is the International Instruction Register.  And I would have a kitchen drawer to play with.

What do you think?

Friday, 27 July 2012

Clear Out and Clean Up £££

If you’ve not spring cleaned this year, then this is your kick up the butt to do so.  And while you’re at it – you can gather yourself a nice little lump of money for your savings pot.
Now, your either a car-booter or your not.  I’m not so I’m an ebayer.  I’ll pay the listing and final sale fees just to avoid having to ram the van full of rubbish.  Also, I’m a bit precious over things.  If someone is haggling for 5p off, I’ll refuse to sell it as I think they being cheeky!  So, it’s best all round if I sell things online!
Clear Out and Clean Up £££

Things that sell really well are baby clothes, designer clothes and electricals.  If you find any old mobile phones, sell them.  You might think they’re outdated and not worth anything, but someone might need it for parts, or it maybe their favourite model phone of all time.  Don’t be held back by what you think won’t sell.  You never know what people may buy.
Things that don’t sell well are bulky items that need collecting (prams, excercise equipment, barbeques) and DVD’s and books.  This is because the market is flooded and titles can be bought new from places like Play.com and The Book People.
Always price things realistically as you want rid of it.  If you’re not sure, look on ebay and see what the going rate is.
Another ebay tip is to list your items in the evening so the auction ends in the evening.  There will be more people actually online and bidding for your precious items.
For the car booters amongst you, please don’t be like me and refuse sales!!  |Take what you can and reduce prices at the end.  Make a “50% off” sign before you go and hoik it up when the crowds look like they have peaked.  You don’t want to be packing up a load of stuff you don’t want and taking back home.
After your car boot or ebaying spree, take out your expenses and put your profits in your savings pot.
If you do this every six months (or every three if you have loads of stuff!), you can pay a nice little chunk off that mortgage!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Lunch Money

This weeks tip for reducing your outgoings concerns the amount of money we spend on our lunch (and a bit of a rant about the price of a sandwich!)
Add up how much you spend on your own lunch during the week.  If you are a homeworker, like me, I usually eat 3 times a week out of the fridge and twice out during the working week.  If you can get the 2.99 meal deals every day, you are spending £15 on your lunch, but what about the extras you pick up when you are there.  If you’re anything like me in Boots, you’ll be spending a small fortune, but even a supermarket meal deal exposes you to magazines, more than you want to eat, special offers you don’t really need, cakes for everyone in the office – you get the idea.  You go in to spend £3 and come out spending £13.

The most cost effective option I have found for lunches is beans on toast, soups and leftovers.  If you don’t mind eating the same thing twice, leftovers are your saviour, plonking a whopping £60 a month in your savings pot.  If you do like variety (and I do), soups can save you with most home made vegetable soups costing around 40 pence per portion.  Add a bread roll and you’ve a filling, healthy meal.  Vegetable soup is also the best way of using up your dying vegetables and reducing that leftover food deficit we all need to reduce.  I’ll post a few vegetable soup recipes and update this post over the next week.
Now kids lunches may be breaking your food budget as they eat so much!  The majority of kids lunchbox items are vastly overpriced.  I bought my 9 year old a flask and he took a variety from beans and sausage to soup to pasta and even hot pot once (although that didn’t go down well).  The push behind that was that he was sick of sandwiches and it is a real timesaver in the morning.
So, daily sandwich runs can end up costing you enormously but on the up side – if you change your habits, you’ve a bit to put in your savings pot each week.  Forecast how much this will save you over the year and I’m sure you’ll be motivated enough to do it!
Let me know your thoughts below.  Have you any ideas for cheap lunches?

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

5 Free Ways to Entertain The Kids

We're not even through the first week and already I bet you've had the opportunity to spend a fortune on entertainment. 

Well here's my top five ways to entertain for free!!

1.  Movie Quiz.
I've seen most of the kids films over and over again.  So much so, I can write a quiz on it.  So I did.

2. Decend on a Friend
You can repay the favour, it's not as cheeky as it sounds!

3. Bike Ride (or scooter ride)
Take a picnic and plenty of drinks to avoid the spend at the end.

4. Clear the Decks
Get the wardrobes cleared out of stuff that doesn't fit and get the toys they've outgrown ready for either car booting or ebaying.

5. Independence Day
I love this activity.  Put up a tent in the garden (If you don't have one, use chairs and sheets), let the kids make their own picnic and sit back and put your feet up.  I usually write out a scavenger hunt in preparation for a longer feet up.

What do you do that costs nothing?  I'd love to hear your ideas - I've another five weeks to get through!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Project Mortgage Payoff: Blog Advertising

If you have a blog, you'll be aware of the opportunities to "monetise" it (as the americans who are really good at it say!)

I've been offered several advertising opportunities to raise the profile of my blog over the last month and although I'd love to do that and bring in more readers, it's really money that could be better spent paying off the mortgage.

This, however, did point out to me that I am missing a trick.  I should be selling advertising on my blog.  So my first port of call was friends and the lovely Space Construction, The Fylde's most sought after builder and Purple Secret who sell my favourite Dermalogica substitute, Protocol Skincare.

Look!  There they are on your right hand side!!

I would love to receive more income from advertising so if you're interested in driving more traffic to your site, please get in touch at infinitesafetyltd@gmail.com

Here's my current rates.

The Serious Advertiser (offered to one person per month)
- A featured post about your business or blog.
- A 170x170 advert at the top of the sidebar linked to your website

- A tweet per day linking to your website.
- A linked mention in The Big Thank You Post at the end of the month.

£65 per month

The Big Advertiser
- A 170x170 advert in the sidebar linked to your website.

- A tweet per day linking to your website
- A linked mention in The Big Thank You Post at the end of the month.
£45 per month

The Modest Advertiser

- A 170x140 advert in the sidebar linked to your website
- A tweet per week linking to your website
A linked mention in The Big Thank You Post at the end of the month.
£25 per month

The Toe Dipping Advertiser
- A 170x90 advert in the sidebar linked to your website
£15 per month

Advertising runs on a calendar month basis
Payment can be made by Paypal or Bank Transfer

Monday, 23 July 2012

Meal Planning Monday - Meals on Foot

This week is a double challenge - I need to make an extra portion and provide meals on foot for an ailing relative AND constantly feed hungry boys.

So here's the plan...

Wednesday: Jacket Potatoes, Pizza Snails and Home Made Colslaw

Friday: Olympic Buffet 

Saturday:  Hey, Hey Takeaway

Sunday: BBQ (optimistic, but it's been such a long time!!)

These are all things which its easy to make too much of and the Olympic Buffet is more olympic themed rather than size and will give us something to do during the day, rather than ask "is it starting yet" all day long.

If none of the above gets your mouth watering, hop on over to Mrs M's Blog where there's loads more meal plans on show!

Have a fab week!


Baked Balsamic Salmon

Really easy and really quick.
Serves 4 and costs £2.39 per portion
4 Salmon Fillets
4 Spring Onions
8 Cherry tomatoes
Balsamic Vinegar
Aioli (spanish garllicy margarine type substance found in the chiller cabinet)
New Potatoes
Green Beans
Place the green beans diagonally across the baking dish.
Put the salmon on top
Dollop a teaspoon of Aioli on top of the salmon
Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and place them around the edge of the salmon
Chop the spring onions and sprinkle over the salmon
Pour over 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar per salmon fillet
Cover with foil and leave for at least 30 minutes
After chilling, spoon the balsamic over the salmon again and re-cover
Bake in 180 degree oven for 12-15 minutes.
Serve with boiled new potatoes and carrots.

One Pot Steak Dinner (Gluten free)

I’m all for easy cooking and this is the ultimate.   Just chop a few veg and bung it in the slow cooker.  This recipe is also gluten free.
4 peices of steak for each person
Small new potatoes
Green beans
Onions (I use frozen – No Tears!)
2 Knorr Marco Pierre White Beef Stock Pots
1 Knorr Marco Pierre White Vegetable Stock Pot
Chop the carrots and place in the base of the slow cooker with the green beans and the onions.
Wash and quarter the small potatoes, I leave the skin on, it’s up to your personal choice.
Place the steak on the vegetables.
Mix up the stock and leave to cool.  The stock needs to cool so it doesn’t start cooking the steak when you pour it in.  It’s not essential to let it cool, it will turn out ok – i’ve thrown it in boiling hot when I’ve been in a rush.
Put in enough stock to cover the ingredients.
Switch the slow cooker on 4 hours on high or 6-7 hours on low.
The steak should be fall apart soft when done.

Friday, 20 July 2012

School Holidays 2012: Week One

It's here!

The moment I have prepared for! I need to stay calm and be a perfect mother continually for six whole weeks!!

If you're wondering what I'm on about, read my last 2 School Holiday posts. (one week to go) (two weeks to go)

So here's the plan for next week which will be pinned to each child. I've not designated a day due to the crazy, crazy weather.

Shopping. With me, but each with their own list

Painting a canvas (inspired by Scottish Mum, have a read of her fab blog)

A picnic on the beach and mosey round the RNLI lifeboat centre

Set up an instagram account each. It seems to be a life skill nowadays.

Prepare and cook a dinner from this weeks Meal Planning Monday Mebu with minimal input but lots of supervision from me

A recky of the new (ish) indoor high wire indoor activity centre

Tidy bedrooms in preparation for next weeks sleepover

Movie Morning. Popcorn, smoothies, cushions, blankets and marshmallows . A recharging the batteries activity.

Gardening. Let's sort out last years potato crop.

Visit friends

Hopefully this is enough activity for the first week.

As this is the first week, I'll be feeding back if it's a Hit or a Miss.

What will you be up to?

Are any of the activities above appealing to you?

Can I pinch any ideas from you? I've another FIVE weeks!!

Please, please leave your comments below!!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

My Favourite Money Blogs

I read quite a few blogs on several subjects and get inspiration from them all.

Given my theme of saving, my favourite blogs are the money saving types and here's my recommended reading list...

Mortgage Free in Three

Mortgage Free in Three
A one woman crusade through the minefield of debt working towards
being mortgage free in three years.

Full of advice and real life examples of how it can be done.

Discount Coder

Discount Coder
More of a professional money saving blog rather than a personal one to one blog. However, there is a personal touch and the ideas on there can really help you out and stop you spending!

There's also fab discount codes and promotions with major brands.

A Thrifty Mrs Blog

A Thrifty Mrs

If you're looking for tips on how to live an organised life without spending a fortune and without compromising quality, this blog is a must.

Again, this blog receives a lot of comments on each post so there's also loads of tips there as well on each post.

Hope you get a chance to read my favourite money blogs.


Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Just Get On With It ... Household Budgetting

If you're a regular reader (if not, I'd be thrilled if you subscribed!) you'll know about my project to pay off my mortgage.

As part of my Pay Off Your Mortgage posts I recently posted about how to do a household budget and how to download a spreadsheet from the Money Saving Expert website.

Even if you are not saving up for anything in particular, a household budget is a must. You could be wasting so much money!

So, this weeks Just Get On With It is to download the spreadsheet and get a budget drawn up. The hard part about this is sticking to it.

Download the Spreadsheet

Fill it in 

Let me know how you get on.

Was it easier than you thought or a daunting task that proved to be an eye opener?

Monday, 16 July 2012

Meal Planning Monday

After last weeks carnivore red meat fest, I'm thinking we need to eat less red meat this week!

Again, I'm on a thrift drive and I'm shopping at Aldi.

So here's the plan for this week.  Any money left over from the food budget will be put towards Project Mortgage Payoff.  Incentive if ever I needed it to not overspend and stick to the plan.

Monday: Slow Cooker Chicken & Vegetables

Tuesday: Jacket Potatoes with Prawn Mayo and Garlic Bread

Wednesday: Chicken Quesadilla's

Thursday: Home Made Pizza

Friday: Gluten free Chicken & Mushroom Pie and mash

Saturday: Hey, Hey, Takeaway!!

Sunday: Macaroni Cheese

So hopefully this week will lower the cholesterol levels!!

There's loads more meal plans on Mrs M's Blog - At Home With Mrs M

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Project Mortgage Payoff: Petrol

Grrr. At the risk of giving away my age, I remember when the fuel strikes affected the country because it went past 79p a litre.  I'd be happy to pay that now.

To save a bit more money towards paying off my mortgage, this week I am really looking at how much petrol we use.

It's nearly the school hols so the school run will be sacrificed.

The short runs to the shop for bread and milk can be stopped.  We can walk the hound there and kill two birds with one stone.

Ice Hockey matches.  Car sharing is now an option.  To be fair, they do share as often as possible.

I need to get the smallest riding his bike more.  Again, two birds with one stone here as that can be a summer hol activity!

And all the money saved from my petrol budget at the end of the month will go in the savings account to add to my mortgage payoff fund.  How satisfying and really the incentive I need to walk!

Have you any ideas on how to use less fuel?

Share your ideas below!

Friday, 13 July 2012

School Holidays 2012: T -1 week!

Only five more days of guaranteed peace and quiet. Sigh.

As declared on my last School Holiday 2012 post, I am determined to plan my way through the long holidays so as not to hear "What Are We Doing Today?" whine.

So During my last week of sanity, I mean peace and quiet, I will be preparing and making a great big organised file full of resources.

I will be ready, come rain or shine, to whip out entertainment.

So what will be in the file? I know you're dying to know (you are aren't you? humour the Blue Peter Presenter part of my personality, please!)

1. 3 scavenger hunt sheets. Each with 50 (yes 50 things to find)

2. Puzzle sheets (to pass time while I get ready!)

3. Six main meal recipes. (what? Yes. I will teach them to cook!)

4. Face painting ideas & pictures. The are actually not big fans of face painting but might be if allowed to do it themselves. Worth a try.

5. Six cold dessert recipes

6. Favourite Film twenty question sheets

7. Flags of the world. How many can you name?

8. A pile of photos to make a little scrapbook.

9. Logos quiz. Totally inspired by the iPhone game!

10. Consequences. A game I adored when I was little. It really deserves its own post!

So that's enough back up for one week I reckon.

I'll keep adding stuff as I think of it.

What quick and easy pastimes to your kids enjoy?

Please post your ideas below.

Together we can get through it!!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Thursday is Grazebox Day!

Yay!! This week has gone so fast!

This week I've been treated to...

Habas Tapas - jumbo chilli maize & chilli broad beans.

Summer Berry Compote with Wholemeal English Shortbread

Jaffa Cake - (sadly not a pack of) - Belgian dark choc, orange sultanas and roasted Hazlenuts

Poached Pear with Vanilla - Pear, vanilla Pumpkin Seeds and Lemon Sultanas

Quite a variety eh?

I'm not a fan of seeds and despite my thinking I'd updated my preferences , I keep getting a seedy snack.

I'm troughing the Jaffa Cake box as we speak and if you eat all elements together it is a bit Jaffa Cakey but not really a substitute for the real thing!! The orange sultanas are a lovely flavour but are quite dry. I prefer my sultanas juicy!

The Compote & Shortbread comes with 3 pieces of shortbread and is ideal for shoving in your handbag for a traffic jam snack, as are all the Graze Nibbleboxes.

If you fancy trying a Grazebox, click through and use the code 97NFJ4ND

And you'll get a free box!!

Dilemma: The Case of The Disappearing Tenants

Now I know this dilemma is going to cause masses of controversy. But hear me out.


I have rented my house out to both people on benefits and people not. All but 1 of the 4 people on benefits was habitually late paying the rent, left the house in an unacceptable condition and absconded. One left it in such a state that it needed total refurbishment.

Now, before the outraged comments are posted, I KNOW not all people are the same. I know good people are struggling on benefits because they have no other option.


Do I rent my house out to someone reliant on housing benefit (which i can do pretty much tomorrow) or do I hold out until I find someone who is not dependent on benefits?

What's your advice?

What would you do given that the bond for damages is never enough to rectify the damage in the past?

Who would you let your house to?

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Care Home Loans

So in 2015, in three years time, the government will offer a state loan to people who need to move into care homes so they don't have to sell their homes immediately.

Apart from, by the governments own admission, the fact that they don't know where the money is coming from to fund the scheme, this has got to be up there on the Badly Thought Out Plan Chart.

So a person who needs care moves out of their home, into a care home and they don't need to sell their home immediately, they can use a state Loan to pay for their care.

They're still paying despite paying into "the system" for years.

Their house will stand empty despite a housing shortage across the country.

The house will fall into disrepair, costing the owner in the care home unnecessarily.

Is it me, or Is this another badly thought out government plan which we solve nothing?

And that's not to mention the number of overpaid civil servants/tax fiddling ministers that have been paid to come up with this tosh!!

Please. Tell me what you think. Am I ranting or does this just not make sense?

Just Get On With It ... PPI reclaim

The banks are royally taking the .... And have been for years. There's not a lot we can do about it but one thing we can do is reclaim any PPI premiums we have paid out unnecessarily.

Now a lot of people (well actually not many) feel that they won't claim because they don't need the money. Fair enough, you have your principles but you might need it one day. You've been conned out of it, so it's actually yours. The banks won't be in a worse situation for paying out your claim. They'll still afford their massive bonuses. So...Just Get On With It!!

All the documentation you need and a guide of how to claim can be downloaded from the Money Saving Expert website.

You could get a company to do it for you but they take a cut of typically 25% for basically filling in forms with information you've provided.

So, don't be like me and my mate, texting each other

Her: "have you got your PPI money?"

Me: "no. Not applied yet!"

Her: "get on with it!!!"

Me: "have you got yours?"

Her: "no. Not got round to it!!"

Just Get On With It!!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

It Only Takes Pennies to Help

Starting on Saturday the 14th of July for one month, the charity Piggy Bank Kids are asking for loose change to support their vital work at the Jennifer Brown Research Laboratory.

The laboratory, based in Edinburgh, research complications encountered in pregnancy and childbirth, particularly those associated with early labour.

As charity campaigns go, this really has to be as simple as it gets! The majority of us have loose change lying around and this is what it could pay for:

£5 pays for a pack of centrifuge tubes or disposable petri dishes

£25 pays for an hour of a research midwife’s time in supporting new parents

£150 pays for a day’s work from a lab technician, taking the Laboratory one step closer to those vital breakthroughs.

It's unlikely we'll have £150 of loose change lying around but if we all work together, it is so achievable and such vital work.

Here's where I'm starting my change hunt..

1) car ashtray

2) coat pockets

3) all my handbags including posh going out ones that only come out every blue moon

4) the sofa

5) pockets of all my trousers, skirts and suits

6) pockets of everyone else's trousers and suits

I am also going to "round up" when i'm shopping and throw that into the charity pot for the month. (when I'm shopping, say it's £23.45, I'll put 55p into my Project Mortgage Payoff savings pot)

It's a fantastically worthwhile cause and I urge you to do a loose change hunt and see if you can help.


Monday, 9 July 2012

Meal Planning Monday

Blimey! Another week has gone by already.

I slightly failed on the plan last week by having two takeaways but it was only one fail rather than the usual Wednesday abandonment.

Its a must that we stick to the plans from here on in to tie in with my Paying off The Mortgage Project.

So, I'm shopping at Aldi this week rather than Tesco to save almost £100 (yes, really!)

Monday: Cowboy Casserole & Champ

Tuesday: Smoked Haddock (frozen fillets from Aldi), Chips and Mushy Peas

Wednesday: Gluten Free Chilli Con Carne (from the freezer) and Rice

Thursday: Rump Steak, Chips, Peas & Mushrooms (oh yes, on a budget and affording steak! Aldi IS fab!)

Friday: A big greasy fry up!

Saturday: Takeaway

Sunday: Roast Chicken Dinner

Looking at that it seems a bit of a carnivore feast! Possibly because it's raining as I devise this plan! If we survive, I think I need to do a healthy plan next week!

There's loads more meal planning ideas on the blog At Home With Mrs M.  Well worth a visit!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Instagram - Not Another Cup of Coffee?

I'm usually quite close the the bandwagon on new stuff but Instagram has well and truly passed me by.

I don't get it.

I follow people on Twitter that use it fanatically and post all their pictures.  Some are lovely, very arty and all that but most seem to be of lattes and cappucinos.

Why is that?  Am I missing something.

Also, there's a gorgeous photo of myself (if I say so myself) aged about five in my Gran's back garden. It was taken with a Polaroid and it does now look instagrammy.  I'm wondering why I would want photos of my children looking like they were taken around 1980?  With all the HD and leaps and bounds in technology, I'm quite chuffed when we get a really clear, detailled photo of them.  I don't see why I would want to "old it up"

So, I know I'm missing the point.  And I understand if every comment left starts with "You're missing the point...." (in fact, I will find that highly amusing!)  but why is instagram so great?  What should I be doing with it that I'm not?

All help desperately needed and appreciated!

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Project Mortgage Payoff: Shopping Challenge

The biggest expense in our house is food.

We waste too much and I buy on the hoof.  I know I meal plan every Monday but I do usually lose my way by Tuesday or Wednesday.

So this week's challenge is a double challenge really!

a) Do a meal plan and stick to it

b) Shop at Aldi rather than Tesco

Now when I say, I can save £100 shopping at Aldi rather than Tesco, I know most of you will be like "yeah, right, £100!!" Seriously yes.  Aldi is such better value and the fruit and vegetables are much better quality.  The meat lasts longer and the frozen fish is not only unbeatable value but it tastes fresh and moist.

So, if you're with me on this challenge, shop at Aldi this week and see what you can save.

There are some brands such as Warburton's bread (35-47p cheaper than Morrisons and the Co-op) but most of the own brands really are just as good.  (just like the advert says!)

Let me know what you think.

If its not for you, let me know

If you find any delicious food at Aldi or any great bargains, share it below!

Friday, 6 July 2012

Help a Hungry British Child

I'm a great believer in charity beginning at home and you can help with just an unwanted, old mobile phone.

Yes, I empathise with starving millions across the globe but I personally feel their plight overshadows that of our own people.

I can remember as a child the strange meals we ate compared to my friends. Such as onions, bacon and cheese baked on the oven, brawn, endless pans of cabbage and ribs, cowheel stew and the ever present staple of Hash, sometimes with breast of lamb or corned beef but usually not.

I just thought it was because we were from a different town! I didn't realise it's because money was tight. I was never starving though. I has the security of knowing I would always be fed when I was hungry.

And over the 30 years since then I don't think a lot has changed. I received an email from Netmums this week highlighting the number of British children that are literally starving. Except we tend to call it undernourished. The bottom line is they are hungry and need feeding.

Here's one story...

Amy says: "I would wake up starving in the night but there would be no more food. When I went to people's houses their parents would make as much food as possible for me and more for me to take home. At my best friend's house I would fill up on dog biscuits in-between meals. I would wait at my garden fence and ask passers-by for sweets or food. I would even chip bits of brick off the wall and eat those."


Charity Kids Company works with children like Amy to provide not just food but a childhood, a place to be a child and play. A safe, caring environment where meals are nourishing and regular. But Kids Company is a charity and like all charities can't help those in need without donations.

So what can be done?

Kids Company with the help of Orange and T-mobile are turning unwanted mobile phones into cash to provide meals for the starving children of Britain.

There are several ways to donate you old phone which will provide a child with a months worth of meals. Visit http://www.netmums.com/mobiles-for-meals to see which is easiest for you.

You can also make a text donation of £5 by texting KIDS MEALS to 70700. The donation will be added to your mobile bill.

So how many broken, outdated or unwanted phones are taking up space in your cupboard? Consider that they are worth a months worth of meals to a hungry child and it's worth a clear out isn't it?

School Holidays 2012: T -2 Weeks

I love school holidays. It valuable time to be relished. Time when I don't have to get road rage every morning from battling through a maze of Blackpool's worst drivers.

(Surely you knew I wasn't going to say something sentimental about childhood then?!?!)

The six week stretch of non-schoolness is however quite stressful when you are asked every single day at the crack of dawn "What are we doing today?"

Well this year, I will be prepared. Oooooh yessss!

I am, in an OCD kind of way, going to put together a schedule of activities and I shall pin it (safety pin, of course) to each child at the start of each week.

Ideas so far are mainly cost free.

Visiting relatives
Visiting friends
Having friends over
Baking day
Gardening day
Beach day
Clear out your room day & play with everything you forgot you had day
School project day

I'm not so mean that I won't take them for days out, I will.

(Ahem! Any Blackpool attractions wanting an honest review, please don't hesitate to get in touch - infnitesafetyltd@gmail.com - thank you!)

So each Friday I'll be posting a list of activities for the following week with thriftiness always in mind!!

What have you got planned for the summer hols?

Have you any suggestions to share?

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Dilemma: The Case of The Slow Cleaners

This week I was faced with a right dilemma which quite frankly made my blood boil.

Here it is:

I was quoted £64 for my rental property to be cleaned. The owner and her supervisor assessed the property with me and quoted 4 hours work to be undertaken on Friday and finished by lunchtime so the carpets could be steam cleaned.

I received an answer phone message at 2.47pm stating, it was a mess, it took 8 hours therefore the bill will be double. £128. Due to this, the carpets will now be cleaned on Saturday.

Background info:

The woodwork, kitchen and bathroom needed cleaning. There is hardly any furniture and I had been there last week to paint the walls. It was not 8 hours of work. It was dusty & the bathroom had about 3 weeks of grime. Admittedly the daft letting agent turned off the electric so the fridge freezer needed cleaning out but I reckon 30 minutes tops.


Should I pay the £64 as agreed or pay the £128 I have been invoiced?

What would you do?

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Dementia: A Scary Place

I can't comprehend dementia.

I can do all the things that need doing, like labelling things, ringing with reminders and repeating myself several times, but I can't get my head round not remembering the last sentence spoken.

You know when you walk into the kitchen and you can't remember why?

Imagine if that happened with everything you did.

Doctors appointments
Family get togethers

The world would fast become a daunting place.

And your comfort zone would shrink.

Getting home would be a massive relief to be in a place you recognise. For now.

And the less you do, the less able To Do you become. You're slowly becoming more and more distant from the world and the people in it.

I imagine it's like a dream that you can't control. Or wake up from.

It's a scary place and I don't ever want to go there.

Just Get On With It ... Tax Credit Renewal

The deadline is TOMORROW!!!!

You know they don't need much excuse to stop paying.

You know the phone lines will be at least half an hours wait.

You know you have to do it. (if you claim tax credits that is!)

It is a necessary evil. For a customs & revenue (or whatever department they are this week) the form is actually easy to complete, particularly if you have your P60 to hand.

So, Just Get On With It.

Settle yourself down with a brew, get your paperwork in front of you and dial them on a phone with a speakerphone facility and one that can either reach the toilet whilst plugged in or that you can wander round with. (you never know when you need to go!)

Just Get On With It!!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Glossybox - My First Box

Yet again I have succumbed to subscribing to something through the post. I just love receiving parcels!

This time it's stuff to put on my face, not shove in it.

Glossybox send out monthly boxes of samples and, again, I found out about their service by reading blogs.

The monthly boxes are delivered by Hermes. They're too big for the letterbox but if your lucky to have a friendly Hermes courier, you can talk them into leaving it in a secure place or with a neighbour.

So, I'll cut to the chase, what was in the box!!

Glossybox Blusher Brush

A Pair Of HD Brows Tweezers

BM Beauty Pot of Mineral Bronzer

A card of several shades of Vichy Dermablend Perfect Coverage Stick
And what did I think..

The HD Brows tweezers are RRP £19.99 but are actually identical to my Boots tweezers that I've had for years and are still serving me well. With my thrifty ways, these may possibly be regifted!

The BM Mineral Bronzer. I'm a huge fan of Bare Minerals and other brands have just not lived up to their great coverage. I've had to use an empty lid from another product to try this as the pot was tiny. (full, loads if product but to small to swirl). It is a good bronzer, particularly if you like the golden sort of metallic finish rather than completely matt. I don't think I can be swayed to change from Bare Minerals though.

The Glossybox Blusher Brush. This was supplied as a premium product with a value of £15. In my opinion it is what I would expect free with a magazine type standard. It by no means matches up to the bristle density of other brushes I have which have been around that price. Quite disappointing.

Vichy Dermablend is a fab product. The sample had a wide range of colours which could be mixed to match your skintone or used alone. I have scars and they covered them. Better still it is great at covering dark circles in the top of the nose area. It doesn't feel like a thick concealer and wears well during the day. That's a winner.

I was slightly dubious as in the time it took for my box to arrive, there was quite a heavy Twitter backlash about broken products and non-premium brand products. But overall, it was worth £10 plus a couple of quid postage.

I've subscribed for another two boxes so I'll reserve judgement until then.

I've since found two other similar services which I'm facing a daily battle not to subscribe to!

If you want to try, visit Glossybox via this Link  There's no commitment and you can cancel at any time.

Have you subscribed or cancelled?

What do you think is the best "monthly beauty box"?

Disclosure Notice:  I have not been contacted by Glossybox to undertake this review, nor have I received any goods free of charge.  


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