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- @csevenm_uk Thanks for the kind RT :) 2 weeks ago
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Wow – how times flies. It’s been a while since I posted here for various reasons – suddenly having unexpectedly had to move house again for the second time in 18 months has been a bit preoccupying, not to mention exhausting (more on that soon…). And work, especially at the university where I’ve been working part-time, has been busy too this summer with tonnes of marking. More hopefully on all that very soon (the house stuff, rather than the marking…).
Anyway. The nice thing is that our new rental has a lovely big garden and the hens, Marmalade (the large orange hen) and Missy (the white one with the pretty black collar), once again have a bit more space to explore. Surprisingly, they and the cat have settled in really well very quickly.
Even Marmalade has been making good use of all the garden, exploring various nooks and crannies. She is not normally an adventurous soul! There has been a lot of rushing out at 5.30am to let them out of the hen house into the run, though, as, with the bright mornings, the girls are often up with the lark and we don’t want to annoy our new neighbours with their impatient early morning squawks to get out.
The girls love their beauty treatments – if you don’t have hens then you might not know that dust-bathing is a popular daily chicken activity and one of their natural behaviours. As such, there are a number of spas which have ‘opened for business’ in and around the garden. Here are some snaps of them indulging in just one of them…a particular sophisticated affair near a lovely pergola complete with a jasmine bush…
Couldn’t you just hug them? Fortunately Marmalade doesn’t mind the odd hug…
Thanks very much to everyone who entered the Moneysupermarket.com competition to find the best ‘ten commandments of saving’ or top savings tips. There were some really great entries, but here are my ten favourites:
- Get children saving at a young age. My parents set me up a post office account, but it can be anything, as long as they can ‘save their pennies’ themselves. If they’re aiming to save ‘for’ something rather than just save for savings sake, it helps to see the commection and builds good skills about the value of things, but it’s important to keep the savings going and not take them all out. Debbie Ruppenthal
- Only use cold water for washing hands during the day to save igniting the gas boiler. Only wash up once a day and rinse with cold water. Kay Smith
- Juggle your bank and savings accounts about. Getting a lower rate and regularly switching can save tens of pounds a year especially if you don’t clear the card monthly. The same goes for savings accounts – attractive rates only have a limited lifespan – move it when it runs out to something more attractive. Debbie Ruppenthal
- When towels and clothes start to look old and need a boost but are still usable and fit, dye them the same colour to refresh them or a different colour to make them feel like new. This works really well for jeans when the colour fades. Maxine Sells
- This year I’ve saved over £300 by complaining about faulty items – things that didn’t do what they said, or have given up the ghost well within the warranty periods. Normally, I’d let it go, so I’ve got the initial layout and then the cost of repair and replacement. This last year I’ve girded my loins and made myself complain – why should people get away with shoddy stuff when I have to hand over my hard earned cash? Debbie Ruppenthal
- If you have kids avoid the “baby chino” in coffee shops – just ask for an espresso cup and split a hot chocolate. Loyalty cards at coffee shops are great, be cheeky if others ahead of you don’t have one and get their stamps! Emma Gray
- Don’t discard your old shoulder pads – sew them into the knees of chilldren’s rompers to prevent wear. If you don’t have a proper steamer for fish, use a metal colander over a pan and cover with the lid. Sylvia Kent
- Buy spices from Indian corner shops as you still get more for your money than at the supermarket. If at the supermarket, buy spices in the ethnic sections as again they’re cheaper than the spice section. Emma Gray
- Ask the butcher for a bag of bacon bits (left on the machine after slicing). You can get a big bag for about £1.50 – put some in the freezer for future use and use some for making a big pot of soup with added vegetables. Kay Smith
- Learn how to do hyper-miling in your car! When you’re on the motorway, keep your speed at around 55MPH and you’ll save around 10% on your petrol bill. Simon West
Well done to everyone who entered. The winners will be announced by Moneysupermarket on Friday 5th April.
Are you canny with your money? Fancy winning yourself £100 or more? Moneysupermarket have been in touch and are running a competition with personal finance and frugal bloggers as part of ISA season to see which of their readers can come up with the best savings tips – their ’10 commandments of savings’.
All you have to do is email me your favourite moneysaving tips to firstname.lastname@example.org
The deadline is midnight on Friday 29th March – so tomorrow night.
I will then publish my favourite ten tips, along with the contributors’ names, and these will go forward to the competition.
The judges at Moneysupermarket will then select the best 10 commandments and if you have submitted a winning commandment, you’ll win £100 to put into your savings.
Fancy having a go? Why not get your thinking caps on, then?! Good luck!
Just for a change, Doug has started ordering us a weekly organic veg box to experiment with. Believe it or not, it’s the first time we’ve ever signed up to a veg box scheme – mainly because for years we had our own homegrown stuff to eat from the garden in our old house in Essex. But now that we’re renting in Hertford (the house hunting has yet to be fruitful…) and the allotment isn’t productive yet, we no longer have our own lovely homegrown organic veg to enjoy and we miss it.
The ‘gourmet box’ we’ve signed up to is £16.60 a week including £1 for delivery. It might sound a lot, but after going through our monthly spend recently and looking for ways of trimming it again, we realised we were spending this or more each week on the same old boring veg at the supermarket anyway. We’d like to eat more seasonally and support farmers in the UK who care about the way our food is produced – especially after all that’s been going on with the horse-meat scandal – at least until Doug’s plot at the allotment is in production later this year. We’re also trying to eat less meat during the week to save cash, so the more interesting veg we have, the more we can experiment with our meals.
This is a photo of our first one from Abel & Cole. It sounds daft, but it was quite exciting when it turned up on Friday morning a couple of weeks ago – a bit like Christmas. We couldn’t wait to open it up and see what was in it. There was celery, broadbeans, cherry tomatoes, spring onions for Doug (I discovered a couple of years ago that I am intolerant to all aliums, which is a nuisance…) and a pak choi among other things, but also some more unusual things like kohlrabi and chioggia beetroot (which embarrassingly I failed to identify when I opened the box). Doug ordered the gourmet box, which features some more offbeat stuff in it, because he thought it might be interesting for us to try out some more unusual vegetables.
This week we also got some bleu d’auvergne potatoes – crazy-looking things which are purple inside and out – and some Jerusalem artichokes. We have tried Jerusalem artichokes before but not for a while, so I’m looking forward to eating them again. Helpfully you do get some guidance on what to do with the more unusual veg, in the shape of little leaflets in the box and then also recipes on the company’s website.
It said on the packet that the potatoes were good roasters, which surprised us a bit. A few years ago I grew some purple potatoes – I can’t recall the variety – but didn’t get on with them at all. I later realised that they cooked really quickly and I had been overcooking them. But these chaps were really nice roasted, although, it has to be said, I did embarrass myself on Sunday by attempting to peel a strangely potato-like lump which had also appeared in the brown paperbag with them. After spending two minutes carefully peeling pieces of mud off the thing, it dawned on me that it wasn’t a potato. At first I thought it was a stone and then Doug determined that the mystery object was just in fact a big piece of…er…mud… Call yourself an apprentice gardener, Terrett?! Hmmm…
The kohlrabi baffled me a bit. It’s a cabbage-like vegetable that, frankly, resembles an alien but is also said to be like a turnip. It’s a perennial brassica and apparently its name actually means ‘cabbage turnip’ in German. In the end, I cut it into cubes and roasted it with the potatoes. Some of it got a bit burnt, so next time I’ll do bigger cubes – or cook it separately from the potatoes – and I’ll also peel it. Doug advised me not to bother, but on eating it became obvious that this was in fact necessary. It has an interesting, slightly turnipy and slightly spicy flavour to it so I’d definitely eat it again. Meanwhile, looking forward to what next week’s box will bring. If you’ve got any good recipe ideas, then let me know!
Just a quick message for anyone this might interest. A nice lady who is helping developing a new TV show for Channel 4 called Something For Nothing called me last week. She is looking for interesting frugal-minded people to feature on the show.
The programme will look into the things that you can get for free – busting or proving popular money-saving myths along the way and featuring meeting everyday heroes who’ve used their skill, knowledge and persistence to achieve Something For Nothing on an amazing scale.
It could be someone who’s lived off skill-swapping for 3 years and has achieved services worth over £5,000. Or an example of it going wrong. Somebody who has furnished their whole office / house from skip findings – or maybe they’ve made money by doing things up and selling them on ebay. Or anything similar that might be a good story.
If you can help, please contact Lucy Weston at RDF TV on 0207 013 4275 or email Lucy.Weston@rdftelevision.com
At last, it’s March and the growing season is upon us. I don’t know about you but it feels like this winter has been going on for at least six months and shows little sign of abating! Doug and I have been so cold in our draughty rental house that he kindly bought us several pairs of thermals each to wear under our clothes. I don’t know why we didn’t invest in them years ago! I am a convert.
Now that that spring is almost here, and hopefully slightly warmer weather may be around the corner, Doug is busy growing his seedlings. As you’d expect, there’s barely a window sill free in the house. The seedlings are mostly salad leaves, although he does plan to plant some tomatoes in the coming weeks. We spent the other weekend putting up the greenhouse which used to be in the garden in our old house in Essex at the allotment. Not the most fun thing you can do when it’s zero degrees, granted, but it had to be done. It has been sitting piled up in the garden for the past 16 months, so it was good finally to get it up and being used.
I volunteered to help out after Doug was let down by a flaky man with a van he’d booked to deliver it to the allotment and help erect it. The guy backed out by texting him at 5.30am on the morning he was supposed to come, saying he couldn’t make it. Turns out he was going skiiing instead! Luckily, in the end, Doug managed to find another chap who was more reliable to deliver it to the site. And, thanks to our efforts in the freezing cold, it’s all up now. There’s just one pane of glass in the roof that needed replacing as it got accidentally smashed when we moved in 2011 and he picked that up at the weekend. You can watch a quick time lapse video here of us putting it up…
Doug has just left his seedlings up at the allotment, in the greenhouse, for the first time today. Now we’re just hoping it will get some sun…Fingers crossed!
Before I go, here is a link to the spot I did most recently on the Chrissie B Show which I forgot to put up before. It’s a bit late for Boxing Day now, but perhaps early in time for next year! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ay_fFGHASc
Hope you’re having a good week. As I mentioned in my last post, recently I was invited on the Chrissy B Show - a London-based talk show broadcast on Sky channel 203 – to talk about living frugally and saving money. Also on the show was the lovely Michelle Nicholson from Lincolnshire (on the left in the photo above – Chrissy B is on the right) who runs a fantastic craft blog called Being Creative. She brought lots of her amazing craft items and delicious chocolate truffles along for us to sample.
Technology is great when it works. Unfortunately there was a problem with the satellite that night so the show wasn’t broadcast (no, for once I didn’t sit on the transmitter!). It will now be broadcast this Friday 23rd November from 9.30pm to 10.30pm in case you want to catch it then. Otherwise, if you don’t have Sky, it will be available to watch on YouTube about a week later, so I’ll post the video here once it’s up.
In the meantime, here are some photos of us there to give you a flavour of what went on! We had a lot of fun – that’s us above tucking into Michelle’s homemade truffles. I will be going on the show again soon for a show to be broadcast on Boxing Day to chat about what to do with unwanted Christmas presents, so I’ll let you know more about that very soon.
Have a great week! Piper xxx
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