Monday, 5 December 2016

Day 340 - End of Challenge - Final Blog Post

CASH Spent This Year - £377.60
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent This Year- £351.75
Total Spend on Food - £729.35
No Spend Days  286 / 340
Weekly Average Spent on Food   £14.88

I have decided to end my blogging 'career', for now, for the future ... who knows.  But in ending my main blog I thought it only right that I bring this Challenge blog to it's natural conclusion too.

As you can see from the facts and figures published above it has been a true low spend year, exactly what we needed to enable us to pay off our mortgage.  It really helped that we saved some of our coupons, vouchers and points from the previous year and made good use of those earned during the course of this, and this has meant we managed to comfortably get through the year.  The homegrown foods were the biggest money saving thing we did and they pretty much took over from bought foods in the Summer and Autumn.

You saw on the posts from the other week that there is still food in the cupboards, a good selection of foods so we could have kept going.  The freezers are pretty full, but now it is with home grown fruits and vegetables rather than the packets of foods they contained at the start of this challenge.

I will not be dashing out and filling a supermarket trolley, in fact the only thing I am thinking of buying when I am next in the supermarket for the weekly bottle of milk is a packet of fish fingers to make a good old fashioned 'fish finger butty' .... I'm a girl of simple tastes, but I think you already know that.

The main thing I think I took from this year is that we don't need half as much food in the house as I originally thought we did, and that the less times you actually go to the shops the less you will spend.  I went shopping 54 times over the course of the Challenge, so just a smidge over once a week.

Thank you to all those of you who have followed this Challenge from it's beginning in January and to those of you who have joined us along the way.  It's been an interesting and very worthwhile thing to do and I know a couple of you are intending to do something very similar next year, so I will be very interested to follow your journey too.

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a very peaceful and Happy New Year.

And yes ..... Today is a No Spend Day

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Days 338 and 339 - End of Month Eleven

Money Spent This Month - £32.12   Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent - £51.00
All the Original £328.71 Budget Now Gone
Money Spent in Total - £367.67
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent in Total - £351.75
Money left in Housekeeping Fund - None    Minus Figure of £38.96
No Spend Days  26/30

Total Spent - Cash/Vouchers/Coupons/Points   £719.42
Weekly Average £14.99

I'm a bit late with the end of month summary for November, it's just been busy here and time flies by so quickly.  So to keep everything straight here are the figures. as they stood at the end of November.

My biggest learning curve this month - that I really don't need or want to keep my cupboards overstocked with foods for 'emergencies'.  In the future our cupboards will hold the groceries listed on the 'Permanent Shopping List' page ... and not much else.

How am I feeling at the end of Month Ten -  Glad that the preserving of all the homegrown vegetables has finally finished but a little bit sad that I lost the last dozen bunches of celery to the hard frosts that we have had this past week.  Still they went on the compost heap so their goodness will help with next years crop ... all is never lost when you grow your own and make your own compost.

Today is a No Spend Day

Friday, 2 December 2016

Day 337 - More Shopping

Money Spent Today - £3.32
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent - 0
All the £328.71 Budget Now Gone
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent in Total - £351.75
Money left in Housekeeping Fund - 0
In the Red by -  £48.89

I went shopping today after a trip to the cinema with Jason to see A Street Cat Named Bob.  It was the first time for Jason seeing it and the second time for me ... it was just as good the second time around :-)

After the cinema he headed off home to Preston in Lancashire and I nipped over to Tesco.  I needed something not pictured here for this celebratory weekend  (hence the full receipt not being shown), but I also knew that The Trussell Trust are having a BIG Neighbourhood Food collection at ALL Tesco's in the UKfrom1st to the 3rd December, and I really wanted to do my bit.

When you go in you are given or can ask for their ideal shopping list, I decided to buy three of everything on the list ...

... as you can see from the list it didn't cost me that much and will hopefully be of good use to someone less fortunate than myself.  You don't have to buy that much, you could just buy one or two items, and basics lines are perfectly acceptable.  Just imagine how much food they would get if every shopper in the three days donated just ONE thing.

I spent £3.32 on some crisps and bananas.  I don't know why but I just fancied some crisps for the weekend ... possibly something to do with the two bottles of wine in the cupboard ;-)

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Day 336 - Buying Salad Stuff

Money Spent Today - £6.61
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent - 0
All the £328.71 Budget Now Gone
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent in Total - £351.75
Money left in Housekeeping Fund - 0
In the Red by -  £45.57

I bought all the above, plus one four pint bottle of milk, which I had already put in the fridge, yesterday.  I have been craving salad stuff, and although there was a few spring onions, some mixed leaves and some kohlrabi in the polytunnel I thought I would go mad and buy some fresh things for the fridge.

I have just lost the last of my homegrown celery to the frost, such a shame I should have covered them sooner with fleece, but even that might not have worked as it was down to -3 degrees inside the polytunnel this morning.

I just scrolled back through all the 'Shopping' posts to see when the last time I bought a cucumber was and it was on the 17th July!!  That's not bad at all considering that until recently we have been eating a minimum of four a week.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Day 335 - Warming Soup

It just had to be soup for lunch and tea today ... it was soooo cold outside. 

Working in the polytunnel for as long as I could bear it, (it was -3 degrees), to clear away all the frost damaged plants, and cover what I could salvage with an extra layer of fleece left me feeling chilled to the bone.

As soon as I came in I put the radio on and set to chopping everything up, including the little leeks that I had brought back from the polytunnel with me.  I also brought over a cabbage, so some of the outer and most damaged leaves went to the chickens and a couple of good dark ones were chopped and added to the soup along with an onion from the fridge.

I used the last of some Vegetable Soup from the fridge for my lunch and then took myself off to the cinema to see 'Bad Santa 2', not the best film in the world, but I thawed out nicely while I was sat in the cinema.

By the time I got home my fresh pan of soup had been cooking away for a few hours in the bottom oven of the Aga, it was lovely to have for my tea, left chunky as it was so it wasn't too reminiscent of my lunch.

Today is a No Spend Day

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Day 334 - Which Are You ?

I bet this top picture made you wonder for a second ... no it's not my secret larder stash ... both todays pictures are from Google Images, an absolute font of photos of every description :-)

I just wanted to ask you something for a change!

Which of these two images sums you up best?  Do you like a well stocked, indeed overstocked food cupboard like the one above.  With foods for every eventuality at your fingertips.

Or do you prefer the calming, almost sedateness of this lovely little store of foods, that are most likely used to compliment fresh produce that is stored in the fridge.  This photo reminds me of Nigel Slater's fridge and larder in one of his television series.

I most certainly used to be the former, with fresh foods alongside and now I feel that I have come full circle to the latter.  There's something about the lack of garish packaging that makes the second picture look better, healthier and more calming ..... although I guess you could tip your chocolate biscuits and sweeties into a jar and have them look equally at home!

I might be off to do a bit of decanting  ;-)

Today is a No Spend Day

Monday, 28 November 2016

Day 333 - Self Deprivation ?

'  Oh, goodness gracious. Let your self go. Life's too short to deprive yourself of the little luxuries in life. It isn't helping anyone else. Oh, how I long to see a pic of you, with Christmas pudding and brandy sauce dripping down your chin (sigh) Will it happen? Or are you so far down the self denial path that you just can't do it. I need only add, Baileys, mince pies, double cream, Thornton chocolates, creamed sprouts with chestnuts? Just how will you resist? Obviously, only joking, but life really is too short! anyway, Merry Christmas, and heartfelt Blessings to you and your family. '

Yesterday this comment pinged into my Inbox and onto the blog comments, said as 'Obviously only joking ...' but I feel with more than enough seriousness to warrant a reply.  So for those of you who know me well sit back with your coffee and have a recap, while I address the issues raised in this comment for those readers who don't know me so well ... as this reader perhaps doesn't.

I don't need to 'let myself go' - I am a really chilled out person, who has just about enough money to do and buy what I wish if I wanted to.

I don't deprive myself of any 'little luxuries in life' - I think some peoples ideas of luxuries are just different.  Mine are a good solid roof over my head, warmth, health, family, including our furry and feathered friends, good food, lots of books and all the little extras that make life really good ... hot bubble baths at bedtime, a good film on the tele in front of a roaring fire, with copious amounts coffee and homemade nibbles .... what more really is there?

Sorry but I don't eat Christmas pudding or brandy sauce - I just don't like them, so no it  won't ever happen  :-)

I'm not down a path of self denial -   We eat well, luxuriously well.  Home produced free range eggs with the most glorious almost orange yolks.  Home grown fruit and vegetables, picked and frozen at their peak of ripeness and full of goodness.  Home made cakes, biscuits, quiches, pies and soups .... things you will never  be able to buy from a shop.

Baileys, mince pies, double cream, Thornton chocolates, creamed sprouts with chestnuts - yes please BUT out of all these there is nothing that I eat!!  I don't like mince pies ... although I do keep trying, I want to learn to like sprouts and chestnuts but I'm struggling ... and the others all contain milk products which I am unfortunately intolerant to.

' How will you resist? ' you ask.  Easily I answer, we eat better, we eat more, we have exactly what we want and what we need.  We are satisfied and what's more thanks to this year of living within our means and using what we have and what we have produced ourselves, we have paid off our main mortgage completely and done something very exciting that will give us an additional income to help our drive towards self sufficiency.

So thank you for your comment Lesley UK,  it's made for what I hope is an interesting post on a Monday morning when I had no idea what to write other than ...

... Today is a No Spend Day

Todays picture is from Google Images.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Day 332 - Wow!!

Wow ... is it really Day 332 !!

I think this is the longest I have been able to keep a Challenge going for, and I'm determined to be here until the end of the year. 

A couple of you have asked if I am going to go wild shopping in January.  Buying all the books on my wish-list, buying new clothes for the year ahead and  having a supermarket splurge, well in all honesty I have thought about it ... especially the supermarket one.

Imagine leisurely wandering the aisles, throwing anything that takes my fancy into the shopping trolley, a bit of this, a bit of that, a lot of the other.  Coming home and filling all the recently acquired space in my cupboards so they are bulging at the seams.

Nah .... I can't imagine it either!!

There are just thirty four days left of this year long Challenge, we have yet to plan our Christmas eating but I can assure you I won't be joining the masses with piled  high shopping trolleys, shopping as though the shops are closing for a fortnight and no doubt throwing lots of the purchases in the bin come the day after New Year.  We will be using what we have already in store, the homegrown veggies that lie in the freezer, the jars of homemade sauces, jams, pickles and chutneys.  I will have a few baking sessions with the remains of my flours, butters and sugars so we will have lots of treats. 

Basically we will be using up what we already have.

Today is a No Spend Day

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Day 331 - The Cupboards - 3

This is our main food cupboard, and really if I took out all the homemade pasta sauces that have been added to it, the one that would show the most difference.  Eighteen jars of lovely homegrown and homemade tomatoey goodness have been added to the ones that are left from last years stash that we had at the start of the year.

The main food cupboard in January at the start of the Challenge ...

... and as it was on Thursday of this week.

It's been interesting this week to clear out all the cupboards and see exactly what we have remaining to see us to the end of the Challenge and beyond.  And giving all the cupboards a good clean out is a head start on the clean up I usually do before Christmas ... not that I will be dashing out to fill up the cupboards ready for the festive season, what we have here is more than enough  :-)

Today is a No Spend Day

Friday, 25 November 2016

Day 330 - The Cupboards - 2

In my quest for seeing exactly what we have left in the food cupboards, yesterday I went through ALL the cupboards in the kitchen.  Hoicking everything out, cleaning the cupboard and then putting most things back where they had come from but making somethings more logical, so moving them to another cupboard.

The condiments cupboard in January.

... and as it was yesterday after a wipe out.

So you can see straight away one of the baskets from this cupboard that was almost empty, was used instead in the baking cupboard for all the little bits and bobs, essences, baking powders etc.  Oh and as you read the other day, the Bouillon tub no longer contains bouillon, it is now full of Knorr vegetable stock ... I should label it as such really  :-)

Today is a No Spend Day

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Day 329 - The Cupboards

I moved some jars in my 'baking' cupboard and found hidden behind them a bag of self raising flour .... and this after me posting on Day 319 about using the last of my SR flour!!  So I decided to go through all my cupboards and see exactly what I have got left to see us through to the end of the year.

The baking cupboard in January ...

... and once again ... as it is now in November

The baking cupboard now looks streamlined and a lot less cluttered, everything that is missing in the second photograph  has been used and eaten.  Some things have been moved into here from other cupboards in an effort to try and make the kitchen food storage a little bit more logical, or it would look even less crowded.

Today is a No Spend Day

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Day 328 - Bits and Bobs Soup

I keep finding things in the freezer that have been there waaaay too long!!

The bag of carrots at the front of this picture is a case in point.  I have not during the course of this year bought any little 'baby carrots' ... but I unearthed these the other day.  To be honest they looked a little worse for wear, well I guess I would too if I had been in a single plastic bag for over a year in a big deep freeze ... so it was to be expected.

I decided that I would hide their inadequacies in a big pot of soup and so gathered together some friends to join them.  One of our big potatoes, an onion and a frozen pot of 'potato water'.  If I'm making mash I never let the water go down the plughole when I drain the potatoes, I catch it in a bowl and once it's cool I freeze it in whatever is to hand to be the base of a soup or a stew.  All the goodness is in that water and I wouldn't dream of losing it. 

I haven't really added both the Bouillon and the McDougall's vegetable stock mix to the soup I was just decanting some from the big tub into the now empty Bouillon tub.  It's much easier to get the little one out of the cupboard than the large square tub ... I just have to remember I've done it and not expect to find bouillon in the small tub  :-)

Anyway added together this little assortment of ingredients kept us both in lunches for two days.  You just can't beat a good panful of homemade soup can you, especially now that the weather has taken a real turn for the worse.

Today is a No Spend Day

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Day 327 - Using Up the M&S Vouchers

Money Spent Today - £8.10
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent - £38.00
All the £328.71 Budget Now Gone
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent in Total - £351.75
Money left in Housekeeping Fund - 0
In the Red by -  £38.96

I was in Llandudno today and passing good old Marks and Sparks so I decided to go in and spend the last of my vouchers on some salmon for the freezer and some of Lovely Hubby's favourite peanuts for Christmas.  I miscalculated a bit as I thought I had £44 in vouchers when in fact I only had £38 ... oops :-(

So that's all the M&S vouchers gone and into the red by another £8.10.

The eagle eyed amongst you will notice something on the receipt that is not in the photograph.  It was just a ready made ham and cheese sandwich that I bought for the guy that sells the Big Issue outside Marks and Spencer.  I bought my weekly copy and we had our usual chat, it turns out that once again he is homeless, and this time sleeping in a shed.  He has had lots of bad luck over the three years that I have known him.  A sandwich for his tea and the price of a hot drink was the least I could do.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Day 326 - Freebies

I'm reaching the end of this subscription now, I think it started with the February edition last year but I won't be renewing it after the last issue arrives.  I got a free folder with my subscription to keep all the copies in, so I will be referring to this years copies next year whenever I need to see what I should be up to month by month, or when I fancy a bit of gardening reading, rather than continuing to buy copies every month.  After all each year is petty much the same in growing. 

This is what I got when I took out the subscription, the folder, an additional magazine and £19.28 worth of seeds.  Once the final edition arrives I will be working out just how much I got in free goodies with the magazine over the past year.  I think it's been worth it, I just want to see how worth it  :-)

Today is a No Spend Day

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Day 325 - Make Things Look More Appetising

Last week I unearthed two large supermarket basics pizza bases from the bottom of the freezer.   I was in there looking for something completely different, but when I spied these unappetising cardboard looking bases I thought I should dig them out and try and turn them into something a bit more appealing.

First I tipped out a jar of homemade pasta sauce and spread it equally over the two bases, then I raided the fridge drawer for likely looking toppings. 

Tucked at the back of the bottom drawer was one each of red, yellow and green peppers and I couldn't for the life of me remember buying them (they were well out of date), so I have just looked back through my posts and discovered they were from hereI had to cut away a little bit of the red pepper but apart from that they were in great condition!!

I sliced these up added a sliced up red onion half that had also came out of the fridge drawer and divided it all equally between the two bases, then it was all topped with a good sprinkling of grated cheddar.  We had one for our tea that night and the other one went straight back into the freezer, where it still resides ... but looking a little bit bent as it had thawed slightly while I faffed about topping it.  So it now looks more like a topped taco shell than a cardboard Frisbee, but it still looks a whole lot more appetising than that bare pizza base I had originally unearthed.

Today is a No Spend Day

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Day 324 - Using the Tesco Vouchers

Money Spent Today - 91p
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent - £13.00
All the £328.71 Budget Now Gone
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent in Total - £313.75
Money left in Housekeeping Fund - 0
In the Red by -  £30.86

I called in to Tesco with the sole intention of restocking with sparkling water, bread rolls and to get some bananas.  The Lurpak was on special offer again £4 for two instead of £3.25 each so I thought I might as well top up the freezer supplies a little bit just in case it was the last of this offer for this year.

There is no bacon left in the freezer now so I got two packs of Lovely Hubby's favourite and then spying the cream cake in the reduced cabinet I added that to the trolley.  Big mistake ... when am I going to learn ... the rather large slice I had last night tasted delicious but this morning I am completely blocked up and feeling yuk!!  The chickens got the rest of it, naughty I know but better than it ending up in the bin.

This is the last cream cake I will ever eat ... there I've said it for posterity!!

The bread rolls should last us for a while and are all in the freezer to be brought out as and when needed.  At two packs for a pound I think they are pretty good value.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Day 323 - Salmon en Croute for One

Following on neatly from yesterday's post I thought I would show you what I did with one of the quarters of pastry that I thawed, cut, re-packaged and then re-froze.  I just couldn't just put them all straight back into the freezer after all my faffing about ... so I kept one out for my tea.

I knew I had four M&S salmon fillets in the freezer so I thawed one out and once ready for use I simply rolled out the pastry on it's sheet of Easy-Leave and topped with a bit of cling film.  I love this easy method to roll out pastry as it means that no additional flour gets into your pastry to alter it's proportions and dry it out, and of course you have no messy worktop to clean or rolling pin to wash.

Once it was the right size to cover the salmon fillet I topped the fillet with a line of sweet chillie sauce and then lay it top side down onto the pastry and wrapped the pastry round it.  I sealed all the edges with a light brushing of water and made sure that they were on the underneath ready for baking.  Then I brushed the whole thing with a beaten egg and made some little slits for the steam to escape, before popping it into the oven for 20 minutes.

The only thing I forgot to do was to take a photo of the finished Salmon en Croute once it came out of the oven .... it was delicious served with a jacket potato and some green beans.

Today is a No Spend Day

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Day 322 - Ready Rolled Pastry

Ready rolled pastry is a real luxury, but one that is found really frequently in the reduced to clear cabinets of the supermarket. 

I used to buy it and try and use it quickly or simply throw it into the freezer as it was, ready for use in the future.  But of course this means remembering to take it out of the freezer a day a day before you need to use it and then once you have thawed it using it all at once or cooking what you make and then re-freezing it.

But then I had a brainwave!!

Now I open the pack cut the pastry and it's paper into four pieces (this size suits us best) ...

...and then re-wrap each slice on it's paper in a sheet of Easy-Leave before putting it all into a freezer bag. 

Now when I want to use just one piece or two pieces of pastry that's all I have to thaw out, and because it's now flat it thaws out in an hour while I am preparing the pie or pasty filling.

Why didn't I think of this years ago?

These two packs of pastry were in the freezer and were thawed out slowly in the fridge before being brought up to room temperature briefly and then once processed chilled down in the fridge and re-frozen .... something I have only just found out is a feasible option with lots of frozen foods.

Today is a No Spend Day

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Day 321 - Aga Cheese Toasties

When we go out for the day and stop off somewhere for a snack, quite often I have a cheese toastie. It's not a brilliant for me as someone that usually avoids milk and products containing, milk but an acceptable and manageable choice once in a while when the vegetarian choices can be limited to something mushroomy (I hate mushrooms) or the ubiquitous jacket potato, which yes, usually comes with either a cheese or tuna mayo topping, and yes lots of restaurants and cafes in this neck of the woods have tuna based things on the vegetarian part of the menu!!

I really enjoy the cheese toasties that are served just up the road from us at Tal Goed that come with a freshly made salad, and usually have one while Lovely Hubby tucks into a roast dinner ... it might look odd to outsiders us each having such different meals, but as this is what we like and if we are there we're there for a treat it's not odd to us.

But eating out is expensive, and we don't do it anywhere near as much as we used to, so I like to find a way to replicate our favourite meals from our favourite places at home.  Now I've not had a sandwich maker for years, they were all the rage once upon a time, so to copy the cheese toastie meal I use my Aga toast maker.

To the non-Aga owner it looks like a stainless steel tennis racquet, indeed even to the Aga owner it looks like a stainless steel tennis racquet, but to those in the know it's the best toast maker there is.  Your toast cooks quickly and evenly squished between the two sides and with the lid of the hotplate down it is ready in a minute or so.  

If like me you use it to make a toasted sandwich, a good tip is to use a sheet of non-stick reusable baking tray liner around your sandwich, then any leaking filling won't needs scraping off your hot plate.

Today is a No Spend Day

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Day 320 - Using the Stockpile

Way back at the end of last year we bought four of these packs of eighteen toilet rolls for use in the year ahead.  It was during a brief splurge of stockpiling for this year which we nipped in the bud after just buying the toilet rolls and a large bag of pasta. (See this post.)

Well I have just put the last one from the last pack onto the holder in the bathroom!!

So that means 72 rolls last us 46 weeks, and this is one of the reasons for keeping this blog up to date, it will give us a basic guide not just to the foodstuffs that we need to buy, grow and process but also the other things that we will always need to use.

Hopefully these will still be at the same price (£3.99) and we can get stocked up for the year ahead again, just in case there is a price increase in the New Year.

And before anyone asks, we do not use the various supermarkets Basics lines of toilet rolls as they are simply, in our opinion, not good value for money.  You need to use more sheets per use and thus the rolls run out more quickly, I think these at just 22p per roll have proved their worth and their lasting power. 

Today is a No Spend Day

Monday, 14 November 2016

Day 319 - The Last of ....

Sometimes I think I'm a bit strange ... no doubt those that know me well will agree with this, nod their heads and expect this post to end right here!!

But what I'm really writing about is my almost split personality, I veer from wanting lots in store to wanting my cupboards minimal and streamlined.  Opening a cupboard and seeing row upon row of either homemade or bought in goodies makes me want to peek in on a regular basis, just to check on the ordered neatness and fullness ... and yes, in another quirk, all my labels face front and everything is in neat rows ... with the exception of the baking cupboard where everything is thrown in willy nilly and opening the door to get something out used to result, before stock levels went down, in having to be prepared to catch the falling bag of peanuts that was bound to jump out at you!!   And don't ask why peanuts are stored in the baking cupboards .... they just are  ;-)

But in complete contrast to this, opening the cupboards and seeing just the basics there, the very basics, enough food to be used when it is needed and no more, is now refreshing to my soul.  I have swung from one extreme to the other for years now, but I think after this year of slowly, slowly running down stocks and making full use out of everything we have bought and everything that we have grown or produced, has swung me over and even more firmly in the camp of minimalism.

 I love opening a new packets or jars of something but more than that I love, love, love using the last of something and disposing of or washing out it's container and appreciating the space where it used to be. 

I guess I'll never cure myself of this weird and wonderful phenomena so I'll do what I have always done and enjoy both sides of me and lurch from lots to little, first to last, but in future there will be less of the lots and more of the little.

Today is a No Spend Day
... and the empty jar used to hold the last of the self raising flour  :-)

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Day 318 - Project 333 Swapsies

Well it's only a couple of weeks since I started using this round of P333clothes and already I have done a swap out.  The lilac coloured jumper just wasn't right,  an hour or so after wearing it for the first time this season I was pulling it down at the hem every few minutes and just generally catching sight of myself in the mirror and thinking 'this is not good'.

So I decided to do a swap with a pair of shoes.  The red shoes that I have had for years, indeed they were included in my first ever season Of P333 in 2012, were perfect to bring in to this collection to match with ...

... this top, which is a shade darker than it has photographed.

My newest M&S shirt ...

... and they just about match up with my check shirt.

So a good swap I think. 

The jumper has been added to the bundle of clothes earmarked for the charity shop to take the next the time I'm passing.

Today is a No Spend Day

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Day 317 - Re-Evaluating the Stores

The Main Food Cupboard in July

We were chatting this morning as we drank our first cup of coffee of the day, about this year long Challenge and the interesting results it is throwing up.  Mainly we are surprised by the amount of food still left in the cupboards and it has really highlighted that we eat fresh foods as and when we harvest them or buy them in. 

We store lots of our own homegrown foods so we can eat them for as long as possible, and then we move on to alternatives when they run out.  For instance; we store potatoes in the cool, dark cupboard under the stairs, when these are all gone we will switch to more pasta and rice based dishes, we store tomatoes in the form of frozen or bottled sauces and only when these are gone will we switch to tinned tomatoes and purees.  We have homegrown garlic hung in strings on the back of the kitchen door and loose heads that could not be tied up in a bowl in the cupboard for using up first, if these run out we have some jars of easy garlic and some garlic pastes and dried garlic powder that we can continue to use to keep up our garlic addiction.

We store homegrown fruits open frozen as they are picked and then bagged up to be loose flowing, and also in the form of jams, marmalades, pies and crumbles.  And the freezer is full to bursting with bags of free flowing frozen homegrown vegetables of every description.  And of course we are still eating freshly picked vegetables that are still growing directly from the polytunnel.

So with all this in mind we are rapidly re-evaluating the stores we actually need to hold of bought in foodstuffs.  The items on our Permanent Shopping List at the top of the blog and here in this link, have been added to and deleted over the course of the year and it is levelling out nicely at a future plan for the spending needed over the coming years. 

And all this has been the main reason for this year long Challenge, that is fast racing towards its finishing date, just how quickly has this year gone!!  It's been a very worthwhile venture and we have both learnt a lot.

And I'll have to get around to photographing the food cupboards again :-)

Today is a No Spend Day

Friday, 11 November 2016

Day 316 - Re-using and Re-Watching

We both like to recycle, re-use and re-purpose things whenever we can, and more and more these days things just get done without even thinking about it, case in point yesterday after using the last of some frozen vegetables.  I washed out the freezer bag and left it to drip dry naturally draped over the arm of the tap and then later inside out over the paper towel holder.  Once fully dry it was placed back in the drawer and it will be used again and again this way.

I like this photo it's all my favourite shades of white and wood ....

... that is until I put back what I moved to take the photo!!

An almost full bag of popcorn that I picked up at the cinema the other afternoon when I took myself off to see Bridget Jones' Baby for the second time.  I didn't buy the popcorn someone else had left it behind, so I picked it up for the chickens ... they love the stuff.

 There's something very relaxing going to the pictures in the afternoon with only a few other people in the cinema ... there were 14 of us, and everyone was in the mood for a good time, so there were lots of happy laughter at the funny bits, and again I gave it an 8/10.   But I was very shocked to come out at 4.45pm and see it was already dark outside!!

Today is a No Spend Day

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Day 315 - Soap

This cold of mine has really knocked me for six this week.  I'm just really tired all the time and the ironic thing is I keep waking up at night too and that makes me even worse.  I need to get at least seven hours a night of unbroken sleep to be able to function properly.  But I guess taking it easy during the day means I'm not as physically tired, and with the weather being so bad I've not been out much in the fresh air, so less walking too ... it's all a vicious circle.

So I decided to do something I've been meaning to do for ages and that is to use up some of this huge 20kg tub of soap base.  As we are on the last sliver of soap from the bathroom cupboard this was also very needed.

 I made up 2kgs worth yesterday and have the next 2kgs just completed. I always cut the soap slices generously thick, so we get eight slices out of each kilo loaf.  So now we have thirty two bars of soap hardening on the worktop. 

It's a simple process, hack out the soap base from the tub, weigh it, melt it in a big pan and add essential oils and natural colours.  Then pour into the silicone loaf pans and leave to cool and set.  I only have these two left loaf pans left now, hence making two batches at a time.  I used to have lots more when I made and sold all kinds of soap at the Farmers Markets in Oxfordshire.

I just hope I haven't overdone it with the essential oils as this cold means I also have very little sense of smell !!

Today is a No Spend Day

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Day 314 - Bananas

The reduced price bananas I bought last week sat on the worktop until they went all speckly, this is something that happens a lot to bananas that I buy.  I see the huge display of bananas when I step into the supermarket, fancy one immediately and pop a bunch into my trolley .... especially if as in this case they are sporting a big yellow reduced sticker, and the thing is by the time I get home I never really fancy eating one.

This is EXACTLY what the supermarkets want us to do and yes, I fall into their trap over and over again.  I should walk in the store chanting to myself ... 'I will not buy bananas, I will not buy bananas'.

But at least in this house they are never wasted, as I bet they are in so many homes.  If a cake isn't on the menu or a last minute Banoffee pie they are quickly chopped into chunks and open frozen before being tipped into a freezer bag once they are nice and solid.  Then they are ready at a moments notice to be churned up into some banana icecream.

It's simple you just whizz up frozen bananas until they turn into an almost Mr Whippy consistency and pile into a dish to be eaten instead of mass produced commercial icecream, much healthier for you as I guess frozen bananas are still one of your five a day,  and even better for you if like me you try to avoid dairy whenever you can.

You can of course add things to your icecream, chocolate chips, some vanilla paste, chopped nuts, the possibilities are endless, and the strangest thing I found the very first time I did this a couple of years ago ... was that your banana icecream does not taste much like banana at all !!

Here's a post I did on my main blog all about banana icecream and choc ices, only don't do as I did in one of the photos there and place your bananas into the freezer with their skins still on .... you have to slice it off bit by bit and it takes ages  !

Today is a No Spend Day

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Day 313 - Vouchers and Points

I was asked the other day if we had any vouchers or points  left, so I thought it was about time I did  post about what we have at the moment so that I could work out if I will be able to make them last until the end of the year.

The last lot of Tesco vouchers for this year arrived at the end of last week, a grand total of  £14 .... not to be sniffed at.

So these have been added to the £34 of M&S vouchers already in my purse, giving me a grand total of £48 in vouchers.

I've just checked on the Nectar website and I have a total of £16.03 in Nectar points, meaning I could spend £15 at Sainsbury's if I needed to.  (You have to spend them in multiples of £2.50.)

Woohoo .... and literally whilst I was typing out this blogpost ... our lovely postie has just delivered my December M&S vouchers ... unfortunately due to our low spending this is the one and only voucher that I have got.  Oh well four pounds is four pounds.

So I now have a total of £52 in vouchers which along with the spendable Nectar points give me spending power of £63.  As there are just seven weeks left of this year long Challenge I have an average of £9 a week to spend.  I honestly had no idea that I would be able keep this going for as long as I have.

and ...Today is a No Spend Day