Saturday 30 April 2011

Below the Line - Day 1

Well here it is Day One, and here's all my shopping purchased for £4.97 over the course of last week.
I had to do a bit of shopping around and a lot of planning to get this much. Hopefully I'll be able to eat reasonably well. Three decent meals a day and, more importantly for me, three cups of coffee a day. I could have more if I took it black but I prefer it white, so after lots of workings out I found that my milk will last for porridge and coffee every day as long as I have only three cups. The notebook you see behind the food is full of my workings out and meal ideas for when I go blank at meal times.
I got some really good end of day bargains for 10p, and luckily I got my pasta before the price doubled at Asda this week. I would have preferred a sliced loaf but there were only buns available at the end of the day on the 10p rack, these have been frozen and will be brought out one a day so they stay fresh. The only fresh veggies I could afford were 3 small onions and 2 carrots, I was quite disappointed in this as I don't have much home grown produce coming through at the moment to supplement this, just Mixed Leaves and Radishes. I'm not sure whether I'm allowed to continue taking my vitamin supplements, if anyone knows I would be grateful for the info. Pricing the home grown veg was fun, checking how many seeds to a packet and working it all out, (I didn't have to count them it's listed on the back!!).

My Food Purchases Milk 1.00 Coffee 47p

Sweeteners x 25 5p

½ block of Baking Butter 25p Rice 1kg 49p Pasta 2 x 500g @ 9p 18p Curry Sauce 2 x 5p 10p Eggs 9 @ 7p (HP) 63p Pasta Sauce 2 @ 7p (HP) 14p Scone Mix 500g 14p Bramble Jam (HP) 14p Lemon Curd 22p Vegetable Stock Cubes 10p Batter Mix 7p Porridge Oats 250g 19p 3 small Onions 12p 2 Carrots 13p Dried Cheese Sprinkle 10p Bread Rolls 10p Olive Oil 10p

Home-grown Produce inc. Salad Leaves, Radishes & Herbs 15p Spices, Salt, Pepper 10p

Where I have half packs or weights of produce it's because the whole item was purchased but the rest is being useud by Lovely Hubby, who is doing a variation of this Challenge. He has £5 for his weeks food but is allowed to use anything from the cupboards or freezers, this way we are continuing our Challenge started at the beginning of the year to work our way through stored food before doing a major shop. Hence there is no sponsorship for him as he is not doing it 'properly'. Five pounds - it's amazing what you can buy.......but will it be enough?
To sponsor me use the link incorporated into the picture at the top of my sidebar. A massive thank you to all those who have sponsored me already. If you do not wish to sponsor me but would like to see 20p added to the fund on your behalf, please add yourself as a 'Follower' of this Blog and I will donate for you.
Thank you.
Sue xx

Dancing in the Street

Some peoples parents live sedentary lives. They retire, knit bedspreads, tend allotments and watch daytime television, nothing wrong with that, indeed mine do most of it too.
But every now and then they surprise everyone and get involved in the wackiest of things, they have adventures while on holiday. Some folks have nice quiet holidays watching the tide come in sat on benches at the seaside, but usually mine end up being evacuated in the middle of the night due to fire or flood. They take part in criminal investigations after multiple thefts from their hotel (that's their last three holidays listed then).
Before they left for this one they took part in the above reported demonstration, yes that's them on the front cover of the local paper....'Dancing in the Street', when their favourite ballroom was threatened with closure the whole group sprang into action, will it work, they don't know yet but they weren't backing down without a fight even if it was a nice graceful one!
They're due back today from their latest excusion to the Isle of Wight today ....we can't wait to hear what happened THIS time!!
On a completely different note, my Live Below the Line Challenge starts tomorrow.
I went shopping for the final few bits and pieces with the last 13p of my £5 food money, it should have been enough for two items that I thought would bulk up my food just a little bit more but guess what.......Asda prices for the Value range has shot up literally overnight. I should have been able to get Curry Sauce for 5p and a packet of Batter mix for 7p, leaving me with just 1p change. But the Curry Sauce has been taken off the shelves, and the Batter had all sold out (I think), the cardboard outer pack was still on the shelf. I went round looking for other items that I had already purchased just out of interest, the biggest shocker was the Pasta Shapes going from 9p a bag to 18p a bag...DOUBLE!! Thank goodness my weeks shopping was sat at home in my bag, I doubt I could have afforded what I have if I'd waited until the last minute.
Something is in the air I think they have noticed that more and more folk are buying these 'loss leaders' in preference to their other more profitable goods and have decided to make some profit on them. It's a shame for us canny shoppers, but I suppose to be expected.
While I was there I did get a bargain, a little bottle of Olive Oil for 10p (it had lost it's back label but is well within date). So that's me with a whole 3p over....what can I spend it on?
If you haven't had time to sponsor me yet please use the link at the top of the sidebar, it takes you straight to my very own fundraising page. A big thank you to those of you that have already done's very much appreciated..
The next five Blog Posts will be dedicated to my Live Below the Line adventure...will I go hungry, will I be inventive....I think it's time to unpack my shopping bag and re-assess my purchases. See you tomorrow.
Sue xx

Friday 29 April 2011

Meet William and Catherine.....

Just one day old.....William and Catherine.....a Lovely Couple.
Here with their brothers and sisters, you can spot William because he is the one wearing the dark Dinner Jacket, our only Lavender Pekin to be born with dark feathers. We have nine chicks up to now and a few more eggs still in the incubator although I can't see any activity from them, but we'll give them more time just in case.
Back under the heat lamp to keep them all cosy.
Live action on this the Royal Wedding Day.
"I say William....I think we should go and get ready now."
Wishing the real Royal couple a lovely Wedding Day and many happy years together.
Sue xx

Thursday 28 April 2011

The Chicks are coming.......

After our success hatching the first lot of Lavender Pekin Bantam chicks in November last year we decided recently that it was time to get our next little brood going. Well last night the first little cracks started to appear in the eggs.

By 6 o'clock this morning this little chick was nearly all fluffed up, about an hour old and waiting patiently for the first sight of Mum. I gave her a little cuddle and then popped her back to keep warm while her brothers and sisters made their way into the world.

I've just checked again it's 9 o'clock now and she's not on her own anymore, she's been joined by a little damp bundle who's completely exhausted after her struggle out of the shell. Bantam shells are quite tough and I do feel for the little chicks who struggle so valiantly into the world.

I'll pop back later with an update.

As promised - it is now 5.20pm and I'm back with an update. We have five little chicks. The three that hatched first have been moved to the 'nursery box' under the warmth of the heat lamp, chick number four is still in the incubator drying out and chick number five.....I watched her being born, kicking her way out of the egg and lying exhausted watching me with tired little eyes when I went to get the info for this update. These two will stay together for a while before being moved, there are two more in the early stages of pecking their way out, so we are doing well up to now.

On a different note - an update on my Below the Line challenge, it was due to start on Monday of next week, but as we are nipping up to Scotland to visit my lovely Mum in Law on Friday of next week, I have decided to bring it forward by a day. So I will be starting the five day challenge to live for '£1 a day for 5 days' on Sunday. The Blog will be devoted to meal plans and budget shopping for the whole of th 5 days, I hope you will pop by.

To sponsor me use the link at the top of my sidebar, it will take you straight to my personal fundraising page. Every penny counts, so don't be embarrassed to sponsor me for 50p or any amount you choose. Thank you.

Sue xx

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Feasting on the Beauty

At the moment the farm is in full bloom. Blossom is on virtually all the trees and we are literally feasting on the beauty.
Something I'll have to do a lot of next week when the food cupboard is almost bare. ~ Will you join me in raising money for lots of different organisations that are helping to fight world poverty. I chose The Salvation Army International Development - UK fund as my cause because they help people to help themselves, and I believe strongly that those who really want to do well in life but can't through no fault of their own deserve a helping hand sometimes. We all do. ~ For more information click HERE or to sponsor me click on the 'Below the Line' image in my sidebar. I've been busy planning my food purchases for next week. You can't get a lot with just £5, but I hope I'll be able to get enough with careful choosing. Thank goodness for supermarket Value lines and homegrown goodies is all I can say at the moment! And THANK YOU to Lovely Hubby for going on my fundraising page and sponsoring me yesterday. Sue xx

Tuesday 26 April 2011

It was worth it in the end...

Well I suppose it was worth it in the end......having my kitchen table taken up with plough parts for four months that is.
Lovely Hubby has managed through hard work and determination, turn this... ...into this. This...
...into this.
And the best all works.
The parts of our paddock that can be ploughed, have had their first ploughing. Not bad for a first ever attempt at ploughing, he even got his lines straight. This townie is turning into a country boy!!
My farmer man in action!! ~
To sponsor me for my 'Living Below the Line' challenge raising money for Salvation Army Development UK please click on this image at the top of my sidebar. Thank you. Sue xx

Monday 25 April 2011

One Week to Go........

In one week, on Monday 2nd May I start the challenge to Live Below the Line on £1 a day for five days.
This intrigued me from the first time I read about it. Is it possible? Can you eat well? Can you eat enough? It played on my mind and still is doing. But then I made the decision to do it and now on my mind is food prices, food combinations etc etc....
The Challenge would be easier if the food could be bought by the gram, 100g or serving amount needed. After all with small portion sizes weighed out from packets you could make all sorts of lovely concoctions from small amounts of money. But the £1 a day (or £5 for the full week, you can do all your shopping at once if you want to) is to be used to buy full packets of food, and of course it's so much more expensive to buy little packets of things than it is to buy the larger sizes or go for the offers, 'Buy One Get One Free' etc... Even the 'Two for One' offers tend to be on big bags of things and larger sizes.
I've found that the healthier foods, fruit, veggies, wholegrains and the like are also the most expensive. True your shopping works out so much cheaper if you buy all these and refrain from buying ready meals and pre-prepared foods, but when you have to buy ALL your basics from one £5 budget things change slightly. I have to start the week with an empty cupboard and fill it (as much as I can) from the £5 budget.
The easy option is to buy the 'Smartprice' and 'Value' lines from the major supermarkets and this I have no problem with, it's just that usually you find these are the unhealthier options....white rice and pasta, sauces full of additives etc.
Can you see now why my mind is buzzing.
I, of course have the added bonus of being on a farm where I grow my own food and raise my own chickens. Although this is the 'Hungry Gap', I currently have salad leaves, radishes and free-range eggs. I am allowed to use these in the challenge as long as they are costed properly and paid for out of the budget. It took me a few sums to work out that my eggs cost me 7p each to produce (a bargain) so 10 of these is at the top of my shopping list straight away. That leaves me with £4.30 to spend.
HELP - What would YOU spend £4.30 on if you had to feed yourself for 5 days?
If you are as intrigued by this as I am and would like to give it a go yourself use the link at the top of this post to take you to the home page, there you will find all the information you need. If you can't for whatever reason, please sponsor me instead. The picture at the top of my sidebar is a link that takes you directly to my fundraising page and will enable you to sponsor me with your credit card. If you don't want to do this just sign up and be a 'Follower' of this Blog. For every new follower between now and the end of the Challenge I will donate an extra 20p to the cause. The home page tells you what this cause is and the reasons so many people in this country and all over the world are doing this unique challenge.
Follow my Blog all next week to see how I do and what I actually buy and eat.
Sue xx

Sunday 24 April 2011

Car Booting the Excess

During this 'Year of Living Simply' we are really jettisoning of all our surplus possessions and to help us in this mission we are selling at Car Boot Sales whenever we have a morning to spare each weekend through the Summer. Today we were at Burcot Car Boot Sale and managed to come away with another £115 to add to our bank account.

Best sellers of the day were our Free Range Eggs, we almost always take a basket full with us whenever we do a Sale, they are very popular. What's really nice is that when we sell out we always know there will be another three dozen waiting for us back at home, as the 'ladies' will have been laying while we were away.

Now we're home with a much emptier car than we set out (we could even see through the back window on the return journey!) and I'm going to start sorting out again this afternoon for next Sundays sale which will be at Warborough. This is a very popular Car Boot sale held on the Village Green, it's also very picturesque, which I think is why they use it so often in Midsummer Murders, it's very nice to 'location' spot while we're there.

Sue xx

Saturday 23 April 2011

At last.....

At last all the pigs are in the right places.
First thing this morning while they were hungry enough to concentrate on following the feed bucket, I walked the last three of Liz's girls round to the paddock, they saw all the lush grass and didn't hesitate to go through the gate.

Leaving behind their little nursery, straw filled enclosure.

So now we have all the girls in the Paddock and all the boys including Jack the boar, and his current 'wife' Liz in the Orchard. Makes life so much simpler.
The highlight of all this moving is that Miss Piggy is now her Mum's best friend and they go everywhere together, they look like Little and Large, it's lovely to see such a close relationship.
They are all enjoying this sunshine and spend the day alternating between lying in the shade and basking in the sun in their mud-filled wallow.
Not a bad life eh!
Sue xx

Friday 22 April 2011

Something for the Weekend

Remember THIS post, well, I went shopping with the vouchers yesterday (Thursday) and had quite a little shopping spree. I got all of the above...
...and all of this from Tesco, putting an additional £16.25 towards it. You'll see why it came to SO much when you get to the bottom of the post.
Then I went in the Garden Centre to spend my vouchers, and got a tray of Chicory, a couple of packets of seeds I needed and a tub of Clotted Cream so I can treat Lovely Hubby to a homemade Cream Tea for Easter (using my Approved Foods Scone Mix). To this I only had to add £1.61 in cash.
Next door to the Garden Centre is a Julian Graves, one of my favourite shops, so while I was there to save on fuel, I stocked up on some of the things we were running out of (and maybe a few too many treaty sweeties, but it is Easter!). There I spent £27.04....... yikes!!
And as Asda was on my way home I nipped in for some Cider (it's on special offer) and spotted these at last in stock again. Smart Price Custard Mix, it's only 6p a pack, tastes divine and LH loves it on his sponge cakes (again made from an Approved Foods mix).
Two boxes for £16, not a bad deal and nice to have some for this weekend of work on the farm.
And this is the reason my Tesco bill came to so much, I treated us to a new film. They had it on offer and it's one I really want to see, LH will be happy to cuddle up, drink a few ciders and eat a bag of sweets with me while we watch it together. What better way to spend the evening on a Bank Holiday weekend after a day of work on the farm.
I hope you all have a very Happy Easter and that the sun continues to shine on all of us for the whole of the weekend for once, although a couple of heavy showers at night would be lovely to water all my veggies and keep the dust down, it's like the Sahara here at the moment.
Happy Easter
Sue xx

Thursday 21 April 2011

Wigwams and a Shock Discovery!!

Yesterday I got my wigwam built and my nice little Broad Beans planted.
Now I am especially proud of these Broad Beans. They have been grown from seed saved from our beans last year. Simply left on the plant to dry out in situ and then planted by me only a couple of weeks ago. They were planted in the polytunnel in toilet roll tubes on 18th March and within days of sowing they were showing signs of life, pushing their little beany faces to the light. Then yesterday I decided the time had come for them to come out into the big bad world. My nocturnal visitor in the polytunnel has taken a liking to their tasty little leaves. So the bed was prepared, the wigwam built (cue comedy moments with poles falling everywhere and me getting terribly tangled), when order was at last restored, with only the chickens and dogs witness to my ineptitude with bamboo canes, the wigwam was finally erected and placed in position with a baby Broad Bean plant at every foot. For now they are under little 'pop' bottle cloches to protect them from the cold nights we are having. The stone at every corner is me thinking ahead for once, and remembering the precarious picking positions we had to assume last year, so now we can put one foot on a stepping stone and one on the edge of the raised bed. ~
And the SHOCK DISCOVERY......yesterday I found a grey hair!!!!!
But don't worry I won't be going grey, in my efforts to swiftly pluck the offending grey hair out I must have pulled at least half a dozen brown ones out too. So by my reckoning if I pluck six brown to every one grey I should be bald by this time next year!! ~
Sue xx

Wednesday 20 April 2011

As it should be.....

This is why I can reconcile being a vegetarian and raising pigs on the farm.
Mothers and daughters eating side by side...
...feasting on pig nuts and lush grass.
Friends through the fence always there for a chat.
Space to roam and shelter from the sun, wind or rain in the background.
As it should be!
When you buy your cheap bacon and pork from the supermarket.....I can guarantee those pigs would not have had this life!!
Sue xx

Tuesday 19 April 2011

The Challenge -What a Bargain!!

Last week I somehow managed to spend £42.25, not too bad I suppose when some of it went on connectors for a repair to my hosepipe - I'd sprung a leak!!
So Spotty Jug got a donation of £27.75 from me, £10 from Lovely Hubby who had saved money on his lunches at work and a whopping £80 that is my temporary lodgers rent (I could learn to love this B&B lark). With a burp and a rub of his tummy he said 'much better than last week then!'.
I ended the week with a swift dash around 'the bad place' at 3.30pm on Sunday afternoon, thirty minutes before they close when all the reduced items have final reductions on them, and managed to get myself £13.09 worth of bready things for the grand sum of £1.49, see the picture at the top of the post. A saving of £11.60.
LH was particularly impressed with the 5 Apple Doughnuts for 10p, they didn't last very long! Most of it now resides in the freezer, although we did have some of the bread rolls turned into homemade garlic bread with our pasta on Sunday night.
This week to keep things moving along nicely while I'm so motivated I have decided it's Voucher Week. My Tesco Clubcard vouchers arrived in the post last last week and when I came to put them in my purse I discovered I had not spent the last lot yet. So I have £18 in Tesco vouchers a couple of 'extra points for purchases' vouchers, a money off coupon for a yogurt, a competition voucher and £6.75 in Gardening Club vouchers.
As Tesco is a forty minute drive away we don't go there that often, but I have remembered another branch that is near the garden centre where I could spend my Gardening Club vouchers, so one day this week, (I'm only going shopping when the milk runs out) I will head there and try to get as much shopping with my vouchers as possible and try to hang on to my cash so I can make Spotty Jug happy again at the end of the week.
Now I'm off to thin out my baby Broccoli plants and water the polytunnel.
Have a lovely day.
Sue xx