Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Stobtober - Enough Food to Last?

Enough Food to Last?
That title was a bit tongue in cheek because, as you can see from the photos, there is more than enough food to last the two of us and the two house guests we are expecting during October, for the month ..... and eating well at that.
As you saw yesterday the freezer is almost full to the top, and the cupboards are also pretty full, although not groaning under the weight of food as they used to be before my Challenge of the first part of this year. 
The '365 Days - £365'  challenge (see HERE for the blog) really kept me accountable and stopped me buying a lot of unnecessary things.  Unfortunately, once I stopped the challenge I found the habit of buying creeping in a little bit once again.  So my main aims for 'Stoptober' are to free up cupboard space and nip this excess shopping in the bud. 
It shows the space that is now available in the cupboards as I was able to neatly fit in the bargain packs of pasta that I bought last week.  Last year they would have had to live on the worktop awaiting a space, or be used before they even saw the inside of a cupboard.

The only food items in a non-foody cupboard are these two jars of coffee, one of which has just been tipped into the coffee canister on the worktop ready for use.  I'm so much better than I used to be ....  Lovely Hubby used to have to be ready to catch any falling foodstuff each and every time he opened a cupboard door, poor man   :-)
 So apart from a couple of one pint cartons of milk for emergency use I will be buying nothing now in readiness for my start tomorrow. I do have an Approved Food order that was placed and paid for last week arriving any day.  I was tempted by the catering sized bags of Crumble Mix that were well within date so I placed an order using some of my PayPal balance that I accrued selling some clothes last month, but these will be my last foody purchases. Each time I feel the urge to shop I will take a couple of the dogs out for a walk instead ....... leaving my purse firmly at home!!
If you're joining in with Stoptober, and I know a lot of Bloggers are, please leave a short comment and then we can all link to your blog posts by just clicking on your name and finding your Blog.  I should have some spare time in the next couple of weeks to read all about your exploits as the work will be starting on the conservatory, and as I can do nothing to help with this apart from supplying teas and coffees to the builders I should have a bit of time to spend on things that I want to do ..... that should be good!
Good luck to everyone that is taking part, and remember it should be fun, not a hardship.
Sue xx

Monday, 29 September 2014

Making the Most of What You Have

After the last post I had so many comments and emails saying that you were doing exactly the same as me,  spending money to save money.  I'm pleased that I'm not the only one, but occasionally I feel we fall into the trap of spending vouchers because we have them!!  The questions we should ask ourselves are:  "Would I have spent the money I did, if I had not been lured into the supermarkets by the vouchers that they sent me?", or "Am I going shopping today just because I have a voucher?".
 I don't know about you, but in my case some of the time I think I am playing right into their hands, spending my hard earned cash on what they want me to buy!!
But I'm not going to lose any sleep over it, what I am going to do is to make the most of the food I have bought so it last me the longest time possible and makes us as many tasty meals as possible, so I can keep away from the shops for as long as possible.  I need to keep myself accountable which is something I do most of the time of course, but it's easy to stray if you don't keep yourself in check.  So I am going to use the Blog for the whole of 'Stoptober' to keep myself accountable, plan my meals from what I have and give myself a strict budget for any food I have to buy.
 I intend to give myself a budget of just £10 a week for any fresh food shopping we need to keep us eating healthily.  I will put £10 into my purse on Wednesday 1st and then another one on each Wednesday throughout October.  At the end of the month whatever cash is left over will be added to the Sealed Pot, which this year is being used for our Christmas Fund.
So what did I do with the foods destined for the freezer from the last shop (with vouchers) I did?
I worked out how much they had cost me each just in case I want to price out meals, and then wrapped them individually and placed them in a big freezerproof box.

I did similar with the Garlic Breads, so that we can get one slice out as a time if we want to.  It's always good to open these packs before you freeze them as the breads tend to be stuck together with all the handling they have had from warehouse to supermarket to home etc.

The Southern Fried Chicken portions were also individually wrapped, priced and put into a tub.  I'm glad I bought two packs of these as one pack had one thigh and six drumsticks .... and the other had one drumstick and six thighs!!

All neatly poortioned and wrapped and ready for the freezer.

And because I have most of my foods like this in big boxes the freezer is looking pretty full.  Now if I can't make this lot last for at least month there is something very wrong with me!!
We only have guests twice this month so I should be able to cater for us (and them) very successfully.  I will put a couple of cartons of milk in there after I have been into Llandudno later today ... but that is all the shopping I am getting.
Stopober cannot come soon enough for me  :-)
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I apologise for any mistakes on my Blog, or on comments I may leave on any of your blogs over the next few days, but I am having to do all my computer work on my little laptop as our main computer has been taken very poorly and is at the computer doctors (hopefully) being made better!!
To add to my technology woes, this morning for the first time since we lived here I have no phone signal, so I can't phone anyone either.  Ohh woe is me ;-)
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Sue xx

Friday, 26 September 2014

It's Not Going So Well This Time

It's not going so well this time my No Spend/Low Spend September  :-(
I went out the other day to get some sparkling water and cordials from Tesco .... and somehow managed to buy this little lot.  The huge packs of pasta were on offer at £2 for either the bags of Penne or the packs of spaghetti and I was tempted to stock up.  This little, or not so little, lot will last us for quite a long time, and of course when I cook it I always do a bit too much and let the dogs have some in their dinner, they love it too.
My only defence is that it is mostly all stuff that we were running out of, but at a pinch I guess I could have rode out the month and kept to the challenge a little bit more.
Some of the haul is destined for the freezer and will be repackaged so we get the best possible use and value from it, so it's not really the end of the world, but disappointing when I wanted to keep the spending minimal.  This came to just over £57 after coupons and discounts.
Then I went to M&S to get some supplies to use up my £5 off a £25 spend voucher.  Lovely Hubby said we should use it to restock the freezer with some chicken, so that was mainly what I bought with a couple of other treaty things being thrown in to bring up the spend to the right amount.  I was very lucky that their chicken products were on offer at 25% off.
I even bought a ready meal, I know, something I don't very often do.  It was reduced and very, very tasty when I ate it after unpacking the shopping, an easy option for once.  Thinking back I honestly can't remember when I bought a ready meal !!  All the time I was eating it though I was thinking I could have made four times this amount for the price.  It was supposed to feed two, but just about fed me with some brown rice!
It total at the two shops I spent just over £80 on the food, and then the next day I went out with Mum and ended up spending money on a couple of new shirts for Winter ..... so not a No Spend OR Low Spend couple of days at all. 
 I really MUST do better.  In fact I think I will have a completely NO SPEND October.  The only way is to completely go cold turkey and keep out of the shops.  I'll have to dust off those blinkers again and wear them to dash into the shop to buy milk for Lovely Hubbys coffee and THAT will be it.
How are you doing, I bet you're doing so much better than me.
Sue xx

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Musical Beds

Awww..... little Charley is all alone in Suky's bed.
That's because Mavis who is usually in with her is in Rosy's bed ... and Rosy was fast asleep until I took this picture so for once she doesn't mind sharing.  Usually she enjoys sleeping alone.
Charley couldn't cuddle up to Suky because Suky is Charley's bed ..... the smallest one!!

She doesn't look that happy about it, although I know for a fact she spent most of last night fast asleep in there.
They could of course all fit very happily in the large bed that we bought that has room for ALL of them at once  .... but that would be too easy!
Oh, and Ginger the cat is currently asleep in the dog bed that I left on the table in the conservatory.  I had temporarily removed it from the passenger foot well of the car, where it normally resides for Rosy to snooze in when she comes out and about with me.
You never know where you are going to find them these animals of ours  :-)
Sue xx

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Sunday Jobs

Sunday started bright and early, the dogs dragging us from our beds with the tip tip tapping of their claws on the wooden floor of the living room, a sound that means, let us out we need to go .... NOW!!
Once up, dogs fed and walked around the paddock and us suitably wakened with coffees, and tummies fuelled with  poached eggs on toast we piled into our oldest clothes and set too on our quarterly deep clean of the henhouse. 
I clean it out daily moving all the poos, moulted feathers and mess, laying fresh newspaper under the roosting bars, so that they live in a clean environment, which means this big clean can be done every couple of months or so, usually with the two of us working together to speed things up.
We have been having some problems recently and dealing with them as they occurred, a small outbreak of red mite, thankfully nipped in the bud as soon as I spotted them and also Scaly Leg, which makes the chickens very uncomfortable as the scaly leg mites burrow into the scales on their legs causing them to lift and be very sore.
The birds are now used to seeing me armed with a spray and run for the hills, so I have sneakily taken to going in at night just as they have settled and systematically working my way around their legs spraying as I go.  It's getting better but will still need some more spraying and monitoring.

But we decided a thorough clean of all nooks, crannies an crevices and all new bedding material was now required and so we set too.  Me scraping and wire brushing perches and boards and Lovely Hubby having a thorough sweep out of all surfaces and nesting boxes.  Once the house was  completely empty I sprayed it from top to bottom with an Anti Mite aerosol, it's powerful enough to get deep into all cracks and crevices and we left it to sit sealed completely for the length of time it took us to drink more coffee and relax on the patio to ease our aching backs (you can't quite stand up in this house, so working in it for any length of time really gets to you).
Then I powdered the house with my Diatom puffer bottle and put in all new bedding material and fresh newspaper.  Then and only then did we open the doors for the girls to inspect our handiwork.  As you can see from the picture they were quick to resume residence in the nesting boxes, and Daisy tried out the perch for comfort.

The other girls decided that if the house was nice and clean that they would be too, and went for a communal dust bath round the back of the house.

A couple of them checked out the Eglu bedroom which had also been cleaned.

It's always a good feeling to step away from Chicken World knowing that everything is nice and orderly.  The drinkers full of fresh, tonic dosed water and the feeders full of fresh Layers Pellets, even the grit dispenser was refilled and fresh treat bars hung from the branches of the Plum tree.
While I was upstairs changing ready for a quick shower, I spied Lovely Hubby already in action with his chainsaw, cutting through the pieces of Oak that were too heavy to move on Saturday.  Carefully deciding what he would be making out of each piece and cutting it accordingly.
Once I was clean and dressed I was back into action giving everything else around the house a shower, a much longer one than I had had.  Unusually we have not had any rain now for weeks and the newly planted bed was looking parched as were all the pots and tubs around the house.  So the hosepipe was sorely needed to be put into action.
A couple of hours later there was a resounding cheer from the hillside as Lovely Hubby started work on the last of the fallen trunk, we should be able to make good use of all of this magnificent old Oak tree thanks to his hard work.
A busy weekend .... but my goodness what a productive one.
Sue xx