Monday, 20 October 2014

Meal Planning Monday - 20th October 2014

I'm back.

I've been too busy with work to blog over the last few months, but now I'm more organised and back on the couponing trail!!

I signed up to the Morrisions and More card last week and although I think their price matching with Aldi and Lidl is a little dubious (that's another post I think) I'm already halfway to a £5 voucher by doing a small weekly shop and buying £50 of fuel.

So, food. I've not been meal planning and it's caused me so much stress. I can spend hours wondering what to cook and get nowhere so meal planning must be done from now on.

So here's this week, mainly planned to use up what's in the fridge.

Monday - Quiche Lorraine and Potatoes

Tuesday - Roast Chicken Dinner - Possibly done in the slow cooker

Wednesday - Brinner!!! (YAY! Winters back and so is Brinner!)

Thursday - Nasi Goreng (out of an Amoy Box)

Friday - Bangers, mash, peas and onion gravy

Saturday - Take away

Sunday - Spag bol out of the freezer.

There's loads more meal plans on At Home With Mrs M and I'm an Organising Junkie - Please, be inspired!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Morrisons and More Card

So, my nearest supermarket is Morrisons and I was delighted to hear that they have finally got some sort of reward card thing going on.

Except they haven't.

The card accumulates points, in a rather complicated way, I think when your comparable shop is cheaper elsewhere.  So if it's 79p cheaper somewhere else then you'll get 790 points.  You need to get to 5000 points to get a £5 voucher.  There is no reward for the amount you spend in there like Tesco Clubcard do.  

The fuel reward card has now been moved to be the same account as your price matching points.  So you get 10 points for every litre of fuel purchased.  However, I think you used to get 15 points for each litre before the switch and there is a cap on points you can only earn points on 80 litres of fuel per week.  So you can only get a maximum of 800 points per week on fuel.  That I'm not happy about at all as some weeks I can go through 100 litres of petrol so will probably use Tesco for fuel to get the points there.  (I haven't checked if they have a limit, but I will do!!)

There's also bonus points around the store to be had.  These are highlighted on the front of the shelf so it's clear to see where you can boost your points balance.  

My opinion of the card is that its ok.  It wouldn't make me shop there as I didn't see a reduction in the price of my last two weekly shops and its no incentive to me to put my price matching difference "in a bank" to get £5.  I'd rather go to Tesco for the price promise voucher that feels more like actual money to me.

By far the best thing about the change is the smartphone App.  It tells you where the bonuses are and the items that are reduced that week.  It's a dream app for the couponer!  I cross checked the app with Clicksnap and Shopitise on Saturday and I made £3.05 from Shopitize from buying just 8 items.  It also meant the price of Original Source shower gel was 45p.  Not something I usually buy, buy hey, it's nice, does the job and was cheaper than the rest!!

So I've not got much of an opinion on the Morrisons and More card yet.  Being cynical I think it may have loads of boosts on at the moment to get it going and off the ground but I think around Christmas these will be few and far between.

You can read the FAQ's on the Morrisons and More Scheme here.

Let me know in the comments what you think and which reward/price match schemes you feel are the best.  

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Stop Nuisance Calls

I am absolutely sick to the back teeth of stopping working to answer the phone to a call centres. I'm more sick of hearing my next door neighbour's phone ringing throughout the day. Why does that bother me? Because they have dementia and I know they are call centre calls.

Most are recorded messages that clog up the answerphone. The rest are hard to understand foreign call centres. All calls are hard to understand when you have dementia.

The number of calls have increased over the year. I would say the phone rings at least hourly. The number is registered with TPS (the telephone preference service) and when I have taken the caller to task about this, I am informed that companies do not have to use TPS. So I politely (it pains me) request the number is not called again and they either hang up or agree. More often that not though, they call back.

So I've done a bit of research on the Alzheimer's Society Website and come across this product. The device plugs in between the phone socket and the actual phone. It can be set up to block up to 1200 numbers and can be used remotely, which means I can take the cordless phone next door for a week and just press #2 to block the calls and immediately reduce the distress of my Mother in Law.

Secretly, I am loving this because of the satisfaction I will get from hitting that big red button!!

I can see me buying one of these for our phone and even as christmas gifts as who wouldn't want to send the call centres a big fat unobtainable code?!

This post contains an affiliate link.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Quidco - Seriously...Free Cash!!

I used to use Quidco all the time and was really successful in getting bags of cashback but also free stuff.  My laptop was free via a Quidco deal and I got £150 back on a mobile phone contract which was only £9.99 per month (remember those days?!!

Then I just forgot to use it.  Nothing happened to put me off, I just didn't use it.
I love Quidco

Then I heard you could get cashback for checking in to shops.  So I installed the app, did it a couple of times, then again, just didn't use it.

Until I was in Debenhams the other month and I thought "ooh - I wonder if I can check in?"  Well - better than that I can get cashback in shops now!!!  So I registered my card whilst in the queue and low and behold got about £3 back!

So, in my attempt at boosting the savings account, I thought I'll see how much is in my Quidco account which is when I discovered how much the site has changed over the years.

There are many, many more companies signed up to Quidco that last time I had a proper look and there's cashback galore for simply enquiring about produts!

They are in the "No Brainer" section.

I have just earnt £6 by signing up for my credit report from Equifax and I've got about another 12 quid by requesting quotes for various types of insurance.  There are limits on the number of quotes you can request from a company and the information put in has to be genuine.  Of course the generous offers are basically buying you as a marketing prospect but I am genuinely interested in about half of the products.  I need to compare my car insurance, I'm looking to take out medical insurance and I'm nosey enough to want to see I've paid my credit bills each month.  The higher paying offers do require a subscription, but all have a free trial period, just remember to cancel the subscription!!  It's also a must that the email address is your "form filler" email (ie an email address set up just for competitions and marketing communications)

So Quidco - I'm Back!

I've set you as my homepage, I'll be checking your offers daily and I won't leave you again!!

Seriously, if you are shopping online, this is money for nothing!!  If you're not signed up, click here and do it now!!  (This is my referral link - but you'll also get £5 when you start using your Quidco Account - use that link though, not the badge on the right)
Claire :)

Monday, 2 June 2014

Meal Planning Monday - Cooking What I've Got

This week is yet another, busy manic week with lining up new tenants, more work coming in online and of course a house to clean following the half term.

So this week, there's stuff in the fridge and freezer that needs to be used, namely a packet of chicken, bacon and fish.

Here's how it's looking...

Monday: Pasta with homemade tomato and cheese sauce with olives (it won't be on the menu again!)

Tuesday: Fish, chips and mushy peas

Wednesday: Thai Red Chicken Curry and Rice

Thursday: Chicken Stir Fry 

Friday: Steak and Kidney and Mash (homemade ready meal)

Saturday: Takeaway

I'm just watching Jamie Olivers Money Saving Meals and I think I'll be trying his hangover noodles for sure!

Back to the post...Hopefully I can save a few pennies this week by using what's in.

This post is linked up to Meal Planning Monday on at Home With Mrs M where I guarantee there will be much more adventurous meal plans!!

Thanks for reading!

Claire :)

Friday, 30 May 2014

So That Way May 2014

So after my declaration of this year will be my best financial year ever...I've not stopped working.  Literally, even over the second Bank Holiday Weekend.

I was bragging on the April round up that I was on my longest blogging run and that abruptly came to an end when I decided to follow the money rather than the blogging!

So, what happened to of May 2014?

I sponsored my own blog with the launch of

Thursday, 29 May 2014

The Lion King - Liverpool Empire

I bought tickets for The Lion King as soon as they went on sale for the touring production at the Liverpool Empire.

We had amazing seats.  Front row of the Circle in the middle next to the centre aisle.  The seats offer a fantastic view bit we did have to sit forward.  That said, the kids leaned on the wide barrier and loved looking down into the music pit and into the side bays full of African drums and instruments.

When the show starts, the

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Illuminasia - Blackpool Winter Gardens

Living in Blackpool is great if you love shows and events.  The Blackpool Winter Gardens latest big thing is Illuminasia, an indoor illumination exhibition.

Room 2 - Blackpool Winter Gardens Illuminasia

Firstly, it is nothing like the outdoor illuminations that Blackpool is famous for. It is a semi guided tour through the six rooms where there is interaction mainly by

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

4 Meals in 1 Hour

Time is of the essence at the moment and I managed to squeeze in a shop at Morrisons between my sons hospital appointment and my youngest son's baby signing class.

Just recently, I've been wasting meat as I've either not had the time to cook it or have forgotten to freeze it.  So today, instead of cooking tonight and tomorrows evening meals, I cooked

Monday, 19 May 2014

Meal Planning Monday - Doubling Up

I am guilty of serious blog neglect.  I am just so busy at the moment, the recession is certainly over for me.  I've had so many site starts it's untrue! Great, but I'm working out how to juggle everything.  I've also had work coming in from unexpected sources.  I've been recommended by two people I don't know and had a decent stream of work from People Per Hour.

Meal planning has gone right out the window.  We've just been grabbing food and never have we eaten so much takeaway in one week.  I've a strange week this week though so will have time to cook whilst at home between appointments.

Everything I do cook though will

Thursday, 15 May 2014

How To Choose A Good Tenant

Being a landlord sounds great, a lump of money out in your account every month and your property looked after while it's value is hopefully growing.

This is the case if you have a good tenant.

I've had some amazing tenants but I've also had a couple that had absolutely no respect for the place they live (or quite frankly themselves judging by the mess they left).  They both absconded.

So how do you find a good tenant?

1. Get the House Gleaming.  If it isn't up to

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

#Morrisons Mum - The Big £80 Shop

I'm so excited Brit Mums selected me as a #Morrisonsmum !

I'm lucky enough to live two miles from my towns flagship store and used to shop there without fail until I defected to Tesco because of home delivery and then later Aldi because of the lower prices.  When I shop at Aldi I do nip into Morrisons just to buy Lactrofree milk and cheese.

So this was a great opportunity for me to compare the new "I'm Cheaper" claims of Morrisons.

I was shopping for the week with £80 on a

Monday, 5 May 2014

Meal Planning Monday - The Bank Holiday Shop

Normally I avoid supermarkets like the plague over a bank holiday weekend but with one thing and another we ran the stocks down as much as we could and I had to bite the bullet and go on Bank Holiday Monday.

I've been selected by Brit Mums as a #MorrisonsMum to see how their declaration of lower prices stands up.  That's awholenother post but explains a little about this week's plan as

Friday, 2 May 2014

How To Survive a Sleepless Night Due to ... Children

If you've got kids, you'll know that sinking feeling when you have to drag your bones out of bed, just moments after you get in it.

The actual staying up with the child is not as difficult as it may sound, it's the following day that can be like walking through treacle with your head in a marshmallow.

I'm lucky and only have to do a through the night every month or so, my youngest child is actually a really good sleeper.

So this is how I survive the following day when all I want to do is get under my duvet.

1. Get a Warm Shower if You Can.  Not too hot, you'll go dopier and not too cold because that is just wrong!  A warm shower will wake you up some.

2.  Drink a Pint of Water.  Don't be tempted by coffee or an energy drink.  You'll have a sugar rush, peak and drop.  Drink water and I guarantee you'll feel better.

3.  Play! Preferably Outside in the Fresh Air. Remember you're child will also be tired.  They will tire quickly and then be ready for a sleep.  Playing passes time, stops you thinking "I just want to Sleeeeeeeeeep" and the fresh air will keep you going.

4. Eat little meals.  Your blood sugar will be all over.  Resist the temptation for chocolate and snacks.  Eat little things like a sandwich and have little meals that will just tide you over.  Your body is tired, it doesn't need to be digesting junk food.  also keep drinking water.

5.  Sleep if Your Child Sleeps.  There's a massive temptation to get stuff done when you've not got little hands hindering your work, but seriously, sleep.  You've had none and even a speed nap will improve you.  Don't forget to set an alarm if you have a school run to go on or an appointment.

How do you stay awake and get through the day after a night on the (kitchen) tiles?

Thursday, 1 May 2014

How to Get Your House Rental Ready

Being a Private Landlord in your head is ace.  You get paid, your home is looked after and you don't really do much.  Hmmm, it can be like that or it can be a right royal pain in the rear.

The first house I rented out was one I bought to live in.  There was a few things I needed to do before I could actually let the house out.  Legal things too!  Here's what you need to get done.

1.  Gas and Electricity Checks.  These are the most important as this is what you can go to prison for if it all goes

So That Was April 2014...

Well that month flew by!  It seems like only last week I was sighing a relief at the end of the tax year whilst being resolute and positive that this year will be my best financial year ever!!

I think its possibly my longest run of daily posts, although I fell at the final hurdle of the last week because I just got too busy at work.

So here's a round up of April 2014

We had a returning Blog Sponsor in the form of The Lancashire Wine School and I blogged about my new obsession with a posh tipple

The Ten Minute Tasks got my home nearer a heavenly like standard of cleanliness with...

Cleaning the Washing Machine

Cleaning the Front Door

Cleaning the Bannisters

Cleaning the Can Cupboard

(I do actually realise how dull this makes me sound!) 

I gave my 12 year old a money challenge - and I've just noticed I've only published week 1's results.  I shall furiously tap away after this with the final result!!

April was the month I tried to adopt cooking the shopping as soon as I get it home!  See how I do that and save bags of time on this meal planning post.  Not to spoil the surprise or anything, but it worked really well so I did it again the following week, then had a freezer restock cooking day.

I've had some real rants this month including Stupid Things My Council Does and how I think free school breakfasts are completely wrong

Money related posts this month include How to Get Maximum Ebay Prices and Getting Your Money Making Mojo going.  The post about how to work out supermarket deals was a really popular one as was my Top 5 Thrifty Blogs.

I've joined quite a few linky's this month, A Day in The Life over at MummyPinkWellies and my post about Easter Activities where I suggest a day at a graveyard as a cheap day out for the kids!  (Seriously, just read it, it's better than it sounds!)

There's not been much crafting going on, just my using my Project Life binder for Meal Planning!  And I've only managed to post one Recipe for Gluten Free Meat and Potato Pie.

We've only had the one review this month as well, and it wasn't even for me!! It was Little Plums Little Yums.  Although I do eat them with a bit of Philly on and they are lovely. 

So that was April 2014!!  How did you find it?

My goals for May are as usual to save save save add add new income streams and as for the blog, as it is the 5th month, each post will be a How To with 5 crucial steps to success.  

Have a wonderful May 2014!!


Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Busy Busy Busy

Just a quick one.  I've not disappeared off the face of the earth, I'm just really busy!!  

Work has become really busy with a lot of clients wanting paperwork turning round in a few hours and many going for accreditation status, so I'm fire fighting my inbox at the moment.

I did think I had a lul so started a bespoke blog for Groundworkers which is SO NEARLY finished  but I keep getting taken off it to do urgent client work.

So I will be back (and no, I haven't meal planned) (and no, I'm not comfortable with it) as soon as I can!!

Now, off to swap the laundry over and do a couple of CoSHH Assessments.


PS - If anyone wants to write a guest post to help me out on Money Saving, Organising or Making Money - Please, please do leave me a comment and I'll get back to you!!

Friday, 25 April 2014

Gluten Free Homemade Meat and Potato Pie

Meat and Potato Pie is an easy left over dish to make.  If you're not Gluten Intolerant then this is a cheap recipe.  If you are and are rubbish at making Gluten Free pastry like myself, then buying the ready made DS Gluten Free Shortcrust Pastry (other gluten free products are available!) from the Freezer Aisle does unfortunately push up the price.

So once you've had Gluten Free Hot Pot for an evening meal, save the leftovers and make this, like this...

1. Defrost the pastry (or make your own) and roll out to a dinner plate size

2. Warm the plate in the oven.  I find this makes the pastry cook better and a little crisper

3. Grease the plate - use a brush or a spray unless you have fireproof hands.

4. Place the pastry on the plate and cut round, not to close, you need enough to crimp together to seal the pie

5. Fill the pie with the left over hot pot (you'll be surprised at how little you need! Freeze the rest if there's any left over)

6. Now do a gravy check.  You need a little but not a lot otherwise the pastry on the bottom will not cook.   Add a little if you think it needs it

7. Roll out the other half of the pastry and cover the pie.  Again, roughly cut round and crimp the edges together using a fork.

8. Prick the top of the pie to let the steam escape

9. Glaze the top with lactofree milk or cream if you are dairy intolerant

10. Cook until looking golden.

Check the bottom by sliding in a knife between the pie and the plate.  If the pastry is cooked the pie is done, if not it needs to go in a little longer.

Serve with Peas and a little extra gravy if you are a fan of "wet" food, like my boys

Voila - a Meal for the price of pastry!

There are no affiliate links in this post and I have not been compensated to mention DS and Lactofree products.  They are just what I use and I find them the best alternative at present if you have intolerances.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Ten Minute Task - The Can Cupboard

This week, I have to tackle the canned food cupboard as it is driving me insane!

Nothing is in the right place, things in jars are going out of date and it just needs organising.

So,  empty the cupboard and whilst you do this get rid of anything which is out of date.

Wipe out the cupboard and dry it.

Put the tins into some sort of sensible order.  I start with the ones I have most of and put those together, double stacked.  Then vegetables all go together, then sweet stuff ... you get the idea.

Probably the most useful advice from me on this one will be to put anything the kids love to eat at the back such as pots of custard or jelly that you are saving for a packed lunch.  

Have an organised week!


Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Top 5 Thrifty Blogs

Much of my inspiration for money saving comes from reading the blogs of those on the same journey.  Some of the advice on those blogs has changed the way I have approached my mortgage pay off project and served me well when I've had quiet months work wise.

Top 5 Thrifty Blogs

These are my Top 5 Thrifty Blogs

Living Well Spending Less
This is an American Blog but most of the posts make perfect sense whether your in £££ or $$$.  Loads of to the point how to posts here to keep you on track and a huuuuuuuge Thrifty Thursday Linky where over 300 thrifty posts are linked up each week.

From Aldi to Harrods
Just discovered this last week and I'm loving it!  From tips on how to make £1000 in one month to posts telling you when to post on eBay for free.  I'm currently reading through old posts on here and my favourite has to be How To Sell Your Smelly Shoes on eBay.  You will not believe it! 

Mortgage Free in Three
I've spoken about Elaine's blog recording her journey of paying off her mortgage and living a debt free life.  Last month Elaine make a phenomenal amount of money and also shared some fantastic ideas for both making and saving money.

Utterly Scrummy Food for Families
A great source for low cost recipes.  If you're struggling with your meal planning or need a tight week, get over and have a read as Michelle seriously knows how to keep the cost of the weekly shop down and her family eat really healthy food.

A Thifty Mrs
This is the first thrifty blog I came across and I love the household advice on here.  I now know how to launder my towels correctly and mix up cheaper cleaning solutions.  A mine of advice and also a source of sales alerts and bargain buy news.  Invaluable, you must subscribe to this one to know about the offers asap.

 So that's what I read and what keeps me on track.  How about you - what's your favourite thrifty blog?

Monday, 21 April 2014

Meal Planning Monday - Freezer Restock

Remember how we ate out of our freezer for the whole of February?

Well now it's pretty empty and although it's nice to be able to find things, it's not so nice not being able to grab a quick meal top heat through.

So this week, I'm batch cooking all day Monday (I know how to enjoy a bank holiday :s) to restock.

I spent Saturday looking for meat deals to keep the cost down as a big cook like this can be expensive otherwise.

So this is what we're on...

Monday: potato hash (aka pie filling)
Tuesday: Potato, spinach and Chicken Curry
Wednesday: meat and potato pie and peas
Thursday: enchiladas and potato wedges
Friday: Chilli Con Carne and rice
Saturday: Take away
Sunday: Steak and Ale Casserole

I'll cook four portions of each meal and have the slow cooker going for the potato hash as its the least fragrant!

The enchiladas and curry will both be wok cooked and the two big pans will be on for the chilli and steak casserole.

I freeze everything in either Pyrex or disposable foil trays so there's no faffing around with plastic bags, I can just bung things in the oven or leave them out to defrost.

This post is linked up with Meal Planning Monday on At Home With Mrs M where there's loads of different meal plans. Go and have a look

Have a fab week!


Sunday, 20 April 2014

A Day in the Life - Infinite Claire

Most of my friends and family regularly, and have for years I may add, get digs in that I don't do any work.

I do actually own my own business, believe it or not - and most choose not to!!

For those who don't know I'm a Health and Safety Consultant and I own my own company Infinite Safety Ltd.  I work mainly with Construction Clients in the Lancashire Area and I work part time.

I work part time for two reasons.  Mainly because

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Plum Little Yums - Review

Teething seems to be happening younger and younger and this time I've lived every tooth, unlike my other two children who seemed to pop them through without much bother.

My youngest seems to get four at a time and take a week in doing so.  He goes off his food and goes picky whilst there's one on the way and although I've tried hard foods to get the tooth through, I think they
just appear when they are ready.

We were sent two packs of Plum Little Yums to try and they have gone down a storm.  He will eat these with Cheese and Chicken when going through a teething week so they are ideal for picky lunch.  They are also ideal for taking in the changing bag as a snack as they are individually wrapped in packs of three.

They are suitable from six months on and are certified as organic. They are also a great way to get babies self feeding and don't contain added sugar or salt but still taste great.

The two flavours we tried (and we have all tried them!) were Pumpkin and Banana and Spinach, Apple and Kale.

The flavours are sweet but not sacharinny and certainly don't leave teeth coated which I find other baby biscuits can do

Both varieties went down well and didn't leave any mess, which is a massive plus from me as I often can be seen with various food stuffs around my knee level!  As you can see, someone just wanted to help himself!

A box of 18 (6 packs of 3) is currently £2.49 in Tesco.  I can't find them stocked in another supermarket yet but I'm sure when they become available they will be on offer!  They are available online via the Plum website and a few organic food suppliers.

Friday, 18 April 2014

The Best Supermarket Deal

What do you do when more than one of the big supermarkets are running offers? Which is the best?  Which one do you go for?

Each offer needs weighing up to see how much you actually save.  If you are spending what you haven't got to save, then it's not a good offer for you.  However, if you usually spend the qualifying amount, then it could be a good deal for you.

Take the Morrison's £10

Thursday, 17 April 2014

The £40 12 Year Old Challenge - The First Week

Remember at the start of the Easter Holidays I gave my 12 year old his spending money for the holidays?

The idea was to give it in one lump so the daily "can I have some money" didn't add up to a small fortune.

So how did the first week go?

From my perspective, very well as I've not been asked for any money!

On the other hand £16.50 went in the first evening at the waterpark and the rest has basically been frittered on drinks at the park.

He has learnt something though as he's spent birthday money on an annual pass for the waterpark.  He worked out it would take 8 trips to pay for itself and he's made two on the pass so far.  The food is really reasonable in there and they get a good meal.  He quickly realised that paying on the door would eat up his spends and took the advice of a friend who gets a pass each year.

He has dipped into his own money box though so he could get dinner during one visit to the waterpark.  And yes I did feel mean.

So, how much has the Easter holidays cost you in spends and refreshment money?  I'd love to hear, please leave a comment below.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Ten Minute Task - Bannisters

My life is a constant rush and unfortunately not off the adrenaline kind.

An uncluttered house is my dream and I'm working at it ten minutes at a time.

This week, I have been cleaning bannisters.  It's also good exercise!

It's a simple job but one that gets ignored no matter how many times you lean on it.

So the easiest way, I find, is grab a bowl of hot soapy water and a cloth.

I hold the cloth and run my hands down each spindle, quite tightly, to get those rings of dust.

Then I pull the cloth from side to side through the gaps, where the dust really gathers.

Then it's a quick wipe down the sides, wipe of the handrail and I'm done. 

I also do the skirting boards on the other side and it just takes me ten mins.

What can you get done in ten mins, what task do you avoid?

Have a good, clean week!!


Money Making Mojo

The hardest thing about being determined to pay off a debt or to save is to get focussed and stay focussed.

Those who have read this blog will see that I've lost focus on that goal several times.  If I had stayed focused, I would have paid off my mortgage by now and have a nice little income in the form of rent.

Most of the time, doing what you always have is not enough and you can only scrimp and save so far.

So how to make that extra money to throw at the debt you want to kill?

Firstly look at what you do.  There's 24 hours in a day.  How much of that do you spend in front of the TV?  Could you spend that couple of hours doing something else? Do you sleep too much? (I do given the opportunity)

Have a look at People Per Hour or E-Lance.  Are there any jobs on there that you could do in that couple of hours a night

I know you don't want to work all the hours, but this doesn't come easy.  Hard work pays off!!

Are you crafty?  Have a look at Etsy or Folksy.  Is there anything on there that you can make and sell to create another income stream?  I find Craftseller magazine a great inspiration.  Buy a second hand one off ebay, see what you think.

Is there anything you can do locally?  Babysitting maybe?  Tutoring students?

Do you blog? Can you write? Can you complete questionnaires for a few quid (you could do that AND watch TV!)

And your regular job, could you do more hours?  Are you worth a pay rise?  Can you do a project at home maybe for a bonus?  

If you own your own business, market yourself in different ways to get more work with a different clientelle, maybe?

These are just ideas to get you in the right frame of mind.  You have to have several income streams to make this work fast.  Have a look at the March Side Hustle Posts on Mortgage Free in Three.  Elaine's kids were determined to make a set amount and they did it.  They pulled together and they did it because they worked hard and made more income streams.

Hopefully I've got you raring to go now?! So go!  Do!!

Monday, 14 April 2014

Meal Planning Monday - The Big Cooking Session

So, last week worked really well - here's the gist if you missed it...


So, as usual I'm acting like my children actually run the house and have the upper hand, and I'm letting them do the meal planning again.  I've suggested they follow up on this and do the shopping too but they both disappeared leaving me with a 1 year old that can push a trolley but just throws money out of purses therefore can't yet be trusted.

Although they have chosen what they want to eat, I have jigged it around a bit, just to stamp my authority as an adult really, and to make it so I can cook once on Monday after I've shopped and then have more free time to clean up after the little darlings and chauffeur them around if necessary.

Here it is..

Monday - Spaghetti Bolognaise and Garlic Bread

Tuesday - Green Thai Curry and Rice with piles of mange tout and baby corn

Wednesday - Spaghetti Tacos and potato wedges

Thursday - Slow Cooker Curry

Friday - Cheesy Mash Shepherd's Pie and piles of veg

Saturday - Take Awaaaaaayy!!

Sunday - Paprika Chicken and Quinoa

and the plan for cooking...

- Make huge batch of spag bol and freeze several portions.
- Put enough in fridge for Spaghetti Tacos on Wednesday
- Make Thai Curry and refrigerate
- Mix up the curry sauce in a freezer bag and put in fridge
- Make garlic bread - from scratch!!  (anyone know if I can freeze dough?)
- Make two shepherds pies and freeze

- Make pan of rice and veg for with curry

- Dice chicken and add to bag of ingredients

- Fling chicken curry bag contents into the slow cooker in a flamboyant, I've beat this stove standing lark fashion
- Remember to switch slow cooker on at the plug!!!
- Make some rice and chips at tea time
- Defrost a shepherds pie

- Bung shepherds pie in oven and boil loads of veg

And you're thinking but what about the Paprika Chicken?

Well it's already lingering at the back of the freezer.  I found it during a lunchtime freezer dive last week.

This reduced cooking plan is really working for me!

This post is linked up with the Meal Plan Monday Linky on At Home With Mrs M.  There are loads  of meal plans on there and I urge you to read them as some are gourmet!!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Wine...Its not for me

How many thirty-ahem-cough-cough year old females say that?

I've tried wine drinking and come to the conclusion that I'm more off a beer gal.  But then it's difficult to eat a meal with a stomach full of gas and equally as difficult to hold a conversation without letting rip with a massive belch.

So, real ales, they're good as they're not gassy but they are filling, not widely available and can be a little bit too strong for me.  I'm good if its a couple in a pub, but not for a night out.

Colin Burbidge - The Lancashire Wine School

Now to the housewives favourite, wine. Red or white I'm not a fan.  Neither are sweet enough and I fear the staining of the red on my teeth.  (Tooth tip - don't brush your teeth after drinking red - the acids interfere with tooth enamel and it can be damaged by a vigorous brush-another reason to give out a wide berth - Thanks Col!)

I do actually like the taste of one wine, a sauvingon blanc that I tried at a Lancashire Wine School Wine Tasting.  It was fruity enough to taste nice and was refreshing. I didn't get the icky aftertaste.  I just get to drink on wine.

So what is my drink of choice?

After trying six different types, including white, aged and tawny, my drink of choice is Port.  Get me!  Who'd have thought I'd be tempted away from Dissarono and Tia Maria!! From The unsophisticated drinks of the bar to the posh end in one high heeled glide!!

Thanks to Colin Burbidge for furthering my alcohol education and introducing me to grown up drinks at my ripe old, I mean tender, age!!

You can read more about Colin's Port and Cheese nights here, and if you're in Lancashire and going to a tasting night, let me know!

The Lancashire Wine School are, appropriately, sponsoring My Cava Lifestyle this month.  Unfortunately just the blog, not my actual Cava Lifestyle!!

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Project Life for Meal Planning

Project Life by Becky Higgins is a system designed for scrapbookers who don't have the time to do layouts but want to record their lives in a quick and easy way.

Segmented plastic pockets are filled with pictures and pre-designed journalling cards which give a large layout where the elements just slot in and all the pockets are held in a lovely padded ringbinder.

It just doesn't work for me though.  I like simple scrapbook layouts but I don't like my layouts when I do them in the Project Life style.  So after investing in the cards, the pockets and the binder, I need to find an alternative use and that is...

To do my meal planning!

I've been meaning to make a meal planning board for ages but haven't got around to it.  I want a card system where I can categorise meals into types of meat, sides and carbs and I figured my project life binder is ideal for this!  I can even write recipes on the backs of the cards.

I have a lot of meals to write up and add to my binder but this is my starting point.

The boys can even have a browse through when they don't know what they fancy.  It'll be like a menu for them.  They'll love it!  They have waiter service, why not have a menu too!

What do you think? 

Would this system work for you?

Have you any alternative uses for the Project Life Materials?

This is not a sponsored post, it is me making a craft project out of an investment that is sat there gathering dust.  Although, I would love to do a sponsored post if Becky or her team are reading?!

Friday, 11 April 2014

Stupid Things My Council Does - Week 1

I'm taking a break from ranting this week.  It's the Easter Holidays, 3 boys at home, I'm too chilled to rant!!  (ha!)

I regularly go on and on (and then some) about the council but this really is blogworthy.

Blackpool Council are giving out cards to dog owners who pick up their dogs poo.  The card says "Thanks for Doing Right".

I'm sure you probably re-read that to make sure I had typed Had rather than Hadn't.
The Gods Shining on My Dog who never leaves a Poo Behind!!

It is indeed someone's job to watch people pick up poo then go and say thanks.  They are then entered into a free draw for an annual Merlin pass. (the dog owner, not the employee hahah!)

If some jobsworth gave me a card for picking up MY dogs mess, I would calmly* suggest they spend their time and my council tax money focusing on the lowlifes that DON'T pick up poo - you know - the ones that actually break the law by letting their dogs foul.  The ones that could cause blindness to an innocent child who just wants to play on the local field.

*whilst Red Faced, Loud Voiced and Hand Waving Frantically 

Is this the most ridiculous thing you have heard today?

People at the council are losing their jobs because of cutbacks yet they are paying for personnel and printing to fund this stupid scheme!!!

Please back me up on this!  How stupid is this!!??

Is your council as ridiculous?

Thursday, 10 April 2014

What's on at Easter - Budget Activities

The school holidays can really affect your budgetting and saving.  They certainly do mine.  I get sick of hearing my own voice say No to everything that costs money.

Here's five ways to get you and the kids out of the house for not very many pennies at all.

1.  Take a picnic.  Wherever you go, whatever you do, take food with you.  I can't pay £2 for a sandwich and drinks really affect the savings.  Take far too many drinks and enough food to keep the "can I haves?" at bay.

Cheap Days out for kids

2.  Visit a Museum.  The majority are free.  Google your county followed by the word museum and find one you may not have known about.  Fleetwood Museum was our surprise last Easter.

3.  Visit a Graveyard.  What?!!  Are you crazy!? What kind of day out is that?  Well, if you've an interest in family history or maybe a section in your local graveyard (we have a polish section and a WW2 section) you can really get stuck into discussions about how the world was.  ok, it's not an every holiday day out, but it is an experience!

4. Park Crawl.  Like a pub crawl but parks instead.  Great if you've got fuel in the car and your town has several parks.  We visited one a week in the summer hols last year and rated them on equipment and friendliness of locals.

5. Couponing!!  I know Walkers are currently giving half price vouchers to Sea Life Centres and if you get on the money saving forums, any good deals will be listed.  There's always Tesco vouchers too.  You can even buy them for a song on ebay! Search Tickets and see what comes up.

6.  RNLI - if you live on the coast, have a mosey round the lifeboat station.  Check they are open first though, most are and all have an open day at some point in the year.

7.  Scavenger Hunt.  You know I love them.  Do a nature themed sheet and do the hunt in the park before you settle down for your picnic.  Take a bat and ball and go all old school in the afternoon with ball games!

So, hopefully that'll give you some ideas to get out.  And if you had budgetted for the day out and do a cheaper, or free alternative, bank the money in your savings fund!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Ten Minute Task - Cleaning the Front Door

Nothing is more welcoming than a clean shiny front door and likewise, nothing is more off putting than a dirty door that has not been cleaned.  What will the rest of the house be like?

So this weeks 10 minute task is to clean your front door (and the back if you work like a dynamo!)

- Grab a bowl of hot soapy water and wipe the inside of the door down with a cloth

- Really get into those nooks and crannies

- Give it a wipe down with an old towel to avoid water marks

- Clean the glass and dry with kitchen roll.  I use hot water with a dash of white vinegar in.

- Repeat this for the outside

- Polish the ironmongery.  Get that letterbox gleaming

- If you have a step, sweep off the dirt.

- Stand back and be proud of your front door.

Try and incorporate this into your porch/hall cleaning routine.

Job done!

I'm getting some really positive comments on Twitter about my #tenmintask posts - what can you get done in 10 minutes?  Would you like to write a Guest 10 Minute Task Post?  Leave me a comment below

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

How to Get Maximum Ebay Prices

You know I'm addicted to eBay.  Well, I'm addicted to the trickle of pennies flowing in.  I know a lot of people are put off ebay because they don't feel it's worth the time or slight money investment. 

So here's my top 5 ways to increase your chances of getting higher bids.

1.  Good Photos.  Have a staged place to take your photos.  A white background with light on the item works well.

2.  Low Start Price.  Sounds crazy but you need people to put that initial bid in to get things going.  People will bid a quid without much consideration, they will not bid £4.99 without a thought.

3.  Time the Auction.  Depending on what the item is, your end time can have a massive impact on the number and speed of the bids.  If you can get just two people battling it out for your item, you will get a better price.  Consider your target market.  Lego will do well ending on a Saturday tea time when the kids are watching it and pestering mum and dad.  End the auction at 11pm and no one will be watching.  However, if you're selling a fashion item, end that around 9.30 on a Thursday when fashionistas will be ebaying for next weekends outfit.

4.  Tell Everyone!! Each listing has the option to share.  I'm sure those that follow me on Twitter are sick of me posting what I'm selling, but don't forget the search facility on Twitter.  If I tweet I am selling #lego, anyone interested in lego will see my tweet promoting my item.

5.  State the Obvious.  If it's new, unused or an unwanted gift - say so.  If it's from a smoke and pet free home, this makes a massive difference.  Tell people what your item is good for.  Tell them who would love it as a gift.  Say how quick you'll post it and point out your good feedback record.  And remember, ebay has an amazingly good page rank when you google an item you are wanting to buy, and who wouldn't buy brand new but at a discount price?!

So have a go!  Just remember when you are pricing your item to consider the listing fee, the percentage ebay will take, the paypal fees and the postage charges if you're offering free postage.  I work on everything selling for a quid plus fees then anything on top of that is a bonus.

Tweet me @Claire_Sheehan if you are selling and I'll RT for you.

Oh!  Here's a bonus tip Free Postage incorporate the postage fees into your price and you'll get more bids as we all love free postage.  I work on items under a kilo being £2.60 second class, but postage scales are cheap and there's loads of online post label services that can give you the price.

Go on!!  Clear your clutter and make a few quid!  It all goes to your major financial goal.  My mortgage is shrinking thanks to ebay and my house is becoming less cluttered.  Win Win!!


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