Tuesday 31 January 2012

The Final Blog Post from Jointers Farm

Well here we are, the final Blog post from Jointers Farm, next time you hear from me I will most likely be sat on the floor with my computer balanced precariously on a box in the freshly painted Office/Utility room at our new place.  (You think I'd wait for the desk arrive to resume Blogging.......I'm a serious Blogger don't you know!!)

We've had some good chats you and me here in Blogworld from this farm, the story will continue to unfold as we put together our little self sufficient lifestyle at the new place, and we hope you will continue to follow us, you are very welcome.

What will I miss most from here.......... the open fields to walk the dogs, the solitude of living literally in the middle of nowhere with NO neighbours within sight, the pitch black nights with only the moon to illuminate the outside world......

.... the Cow-a-van. 

 Lovely Hubby says it's too rickety to tow to the new place.....sob, sob.  It's been good, it was a food store for over a ton of pig food at a time (possibly explains the ricketyness then), it's been a shed for all those things that wouldn't fit in the shed!  It's been a shelter for the chickens on wet days, they'd crowd underneath and keep dry, they hid from Nasty Mr Fox and his many chums there and it saved their lives over and over - clever girls.

But what will we take.......we will take our positive outlook on life, our new found skills learnt through the many trials and tribulations of starting out on this our new life in the country,  in this tiny corner of Oxfordshire that we briefly called our own.   We will take all our possessions, all our animals, all our chickens, all our energy and, most importantly, each other and all our love. 

We will leave this house to settle itself ready for its new occupants and we will set forth to our new little patch of land in the county of Berkshire, join us there through the wonder of Blogland, as we set off on the next chapter of.... Our New Life in the Country.

Sue xx

End of the January No (Low) Spend Challenge

Last month I decided to join in with Carla's January No (Low) Spend Challenge.  I would have loved it to be a 'No Spend' but I need milk in my coffee and I only like fresh milk, so that's a guaranteed spend every week.  I have £50 housekeeping a week to cover the costs of everything for two of us, while my How Low Can You Go challenge is on I'm trying not to spend too much of this, and obviously any money over can go into my other Challenge £2012 in 2012.  Lots of Challenges to keep me very busy!!

So, how did I actually do in January?

1st week - 3 No Spend days - spent £68.91
 (due to us eating out for LH's birthday, deficit carried forward)

2nd week - 5 No Spend days - spent £13.60
3rd week - 4 No Spend days - spent £32.53
4th week - 4 No Spend days - spent £39.79

So that's 16 days out of a possible 31, halfway there, not bad in my humble opinion for someone who's used to just grabbing her purse and dashing to the shops whenever she's ran out of something.

So, out of a housekeeping budget of £50 a week (that's for everything food, toiletries, meals out etc) I have managed to be sitting pretty at the end of the month with a grand total of £45.17 left.  So that's an average weekly spend of £38.70.

Out of my Personal Allowance of £20 per week I have managed to save £22.12, not bad considering I had my hair cut and bought a couple of little pressies.

So all this leftover money will be added to my other challenge 'The £2012 in 2012 Challenge' with any taking from sales and Blog income this month.  A total for that will follow when my Ebay sales are all paid for and I know I have the cash in my account.

My Challenge for February is again with Carla and I'm doing another Low Spend Challenge.   This month she's doing a Double Challenge Month with a No (Low) Spend Challenge and a Decluttering Challenge, but as most of my belongings are now packed away ready for the move there's not much I can do there.  What I am doing once we've settled in and unpacked, is ruthlessly streamlining all our possessions.  Seeing how little we are getting by with using whilst our stuff is packed away is pretty liberating and I intend to go on enjoying this way of living.

I'm hoping to do one more Blog post tomorrow morning, but then our Internet connection at this farm is being terminated, ready for the switch on at our new place, exciting stuff !  I'll miss you all briefly but I intend getting back into action just as soon as possible.  While we are apart I will be taking lots of photos of the new place, general ones and plenty of  'before' and 'afters' for you to have a look at.   One of the best things about Blogging is the ability to chronicle your life in such great detail and be able to go back and read through your successes and failures.

Remember this post anyone?

Sue xx

Monday 30 January 2012

Planning the Weekly Menu

First job - check the freezer contents.  I am using this small freezer as the holder of all things to be eaten each week .  But to be able to do that we first have to eat all the contents of it.  Rather then go from freezer to freezer I am trying to make all meals from what I have here, I started this last week when it was full to the top and this it's what's left for this week..

It somehow looks a lot more when laid out on the table, after taking these pictures I put the food back into the freezer and then I uploaded them all onto the computer and sat with a cup of coffee in comfort at the screen and came up with a menu for the week.  Obviously I have to add somethings to the items here but I have vegetarian options in the other freezer and we still have potatoes and onions in the cupboard, enough for a couple of weeks I hope!

(Did you spot the missing item?  I took the first photo last night before we ate the icecream!!)

So briefly the freezer looked like this, hopefully by this time next week it will be similar but I won't have things to pile back in.  Next week I will use the upright freezer to similarly work out a menu plan and then put just the items needed for the week into here, but I think I will defrost it first, they work much more efficiently and on less electricity when not all iced up.

So left out of the freezer to thaw today is this.....

... and this.   Some of these will be used to make a Steak and Onion Pasty for Lovely Hubby,

and I will have a Cheese and Onion one made with some of this, taken out of the big chest freezer this morning.  I always grate up the full block and keep it in a large tub in the fridge, it keep for ages this way and is really handy to have ready grated as it goes at lot further than when simply sliced, something I learnt when my boys were young.

So now I'm just going to write up the menu plan and stick it in my diary, something I've started doing each week, it's handy to have there to refer to each morning, so I know what to take out of the freezer to defrost over the course of the day and to remind me what to actually make for tea.

So what is your freezer full of at the moment and dare you publish a photo of it on your Blog?

Sue xx

Friday 27 January 2012

£2012 in 2012 - Can I do it?

After reading this Blog post over at 'my beautiful life' written by the lovely fostermummy I was very thoughtful.  Feeling inspired to have a go I thought about it overnight and then decided YES, I was going to try and make/save an additional £2012 in 2012.  Obviously I'm starting a couple of weeks late so I thought I better get my finger out and get doing something.

One of the dvds that has already sold - very appropriate title!!

So.....what have I done up to now, well firstly I listed some books and dvds on Amazon, I've sold £16.23 worth already and the money is currently on it's way to my bank account (isn't it amazing how long it takes money to reach your account, if a company is taking it out, it's out in a flash !!). 

One of my Ebay bags BNWT Cath Kidston Shoppers

I've just listed some bags I found tucked at the back of the wardrobe whilst sorting, and a shirt that just doesn't look right on me on Ebay.  I'm not doing loads of listings yet, I'm just testing the waters at the moment, I wasn't sure if it was a good time of year to be selling, we'll see.  There appears to be lots of interest anyway I've bids on most of my things and lots of Watchers. They are HERE if you want to pop over and have a look. The bidding ends at 1.17pm on Monday, fingers crossed for a half decent amount of money to add to my total.

Something else I've done is allow Adsense adverts on the Blog, if you click on them I get a few pence per click, so you can really help my total here and you don't even have to buy anything from them, simply click to open and then come back to the Blog and I'll get some lovely cash each month.  I'll let you know how much I get at the end of each month so you can see just how much you're helping.

Once the weather improves and the house move is out of the way I'll do a couple of Car Boot sales to help swell the total and clear the clutter, we have NO room for clutter at our new place.  Last year we made over £1,500 doing Car Boot sales all through the summer, but obviously we have nowhere near as much stuff now, but hopefully I'll be able to make at least half of that amount this year.  Maybe a spot of buying and selling will called for towards the end of the summer.....we'll see.

As well as the selling I will add to the total any housekeeping money over at the end of each month, hopefully some clever budgeting will help the total to rise and rise.  If you break it down it's £168 a month or £39 a week or £5.50 a day. There that sounds more manageable. Hopefully I'll catch up from my late start this month.

Do you have any more ideas that would help me raise this money?

Sue xx 



... sleep like no-one can see you (with your favourite cuddly person/bear).

Sue xx

Thursday 26 January 2012

Guest Blogger - Toby

Hello my name is Toby I was born in June 1998, I'm a handsome chap, black all over and as suave and sophisticated as can be.  I look mild and well mannered but if I decide I don't like you....well put it this way you have been warned!! I have lived in six different houses, including two where I had to commute up and down the length of England on a weekly basis for a full year with my roving Mum and Dad, I believe I am shortly to be relocated yet again....oh well humans it seems just cannot make up their minds where their lair is supposed to be, well at least my humans.

Today and for one day only I am hijacking the Blog to post about us animals.  Mum's Blogging Buddy Jane (who very sensibly loves cats....she has 13 you know, a very sensible human) has been promised animal pictures and so far has been left waiting and waiting. 

 So with no further ado..... let me introduce.....in order of age....

Sophie the Border Collie, useful for rounding up and guarding chickens...born June 1999, she's a dog you know.

Archie, the fluffiest beast on the farm, born in October 2007 sent into this world to torment me, his elder and better looking brother. Okay.....so I'll admit he's a better hunter than me but bringing Mum three or four dead mice a day is not something I think she's terribly impressed by, so I just conserve my energy now and let him do all the work.

This I believe is a thing called a chicken, they seem to make Mum very happy with their strange egg laying habits, but she doesn't let them in the house so I don't think they're any competition to me.  This one and lots of her sisters were born in early Spring 2009, it's the one Mum calls Matilda, she's been known to pinch cat food, something I try to discourage.

This is Caldwell, the leader of the chickens, not a bad guy but tends to be a bit noisy in the mornings when I'm trying to sleep after a night on the tiles, but he does keep those pesky birds in some kind of order and lets me know when there's danger on the horizon.

This crazy animal is called Rosy, she was born in May 2009 and came to live here in the Summer of that year.  I think she came here with the sole intention of stealing my thunder, it didn't last long, she knows her place!!  One good thing about her she is even better at catching mice and rats than Archie something he gets terribly huffy about!

This creature came to live here in December last year, she is called Suky and is a Pug, she was born in October 2011.  I take pity on her because I think someone has slammed a door into her face and countersunk her nose, poor thing.  Mum obvisouly felt very sorry for her, so I let her be....usually.

There that is a round up of the animals left on the farm, there used to be pigs, lots and lots of pigs, but they couldn't catch mice, or sit on the fence or do anything really useful so I think that's why they've all vanished.  Well I better be off now, I've had enough of this Blogging lark.

Toby xx

Wednesday 25 January 2012

S-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g- the pennies.......

The other day I posted about spending the pennies, well it's no good just spending the pennies willy nilly, you have to also stretch them as far as you possibly can. With this in mind most weeks on a Monday I make a huge pan of vegetable soup, using a cupful of basic dried soup mix (lentils, split peas, little bits of pasta etc)  from my giant jar and usually whatever is lurking in the bottom of the fridge after the weekend.

Still available here at 99p for 4.

This week we had been given some lovely young leeks by our friend after Lovely Hubby delivered a trailer load of compost to her allotment, so I used half of these, thus saving me having to use one our last few homegrown onions.  I had the last three of our carrots grown in the tyres outside the back door and I added a single stick of celery from my slowly diminishing bunch in the fridge (it's four weeks old now and still going strong!) there is also the stem of a bunch of Broccoli that I used up last week in a pasta dish so that got chopped up and thrown in too.  I put plenty of water in to cover all the veggies, a couple of spoonfuls of veggie stock and lots of bits and pieces from the spice/herb rack, by not measuring things out too much the taste varies each time and we never get bored with it.

After bringing it to the boil on the top of the Aga it was popped into the slow oven to gently cook for a few hours.  We had a large bowlful each for tea on Monday with a freshly reheated baguette to dunk in and the rest was left to cool and popped into the fridge.  What's left gets used for lunches for LH to take to work or for me to have a bowlful at home.  None of it is wasted and sometimes halfway through the week I will add to it with vegetable water or more leftover veggies making it last even longer.

We only warm up the bit we are eating so as not to keep reheating the entire pan full each time, much healthier and it saves on electricity (I reheat in the microwave, usually in the bowl I will be eating out of to save on washing up), LH heats his up in his lidded plastic bowl that he takes to work each day.

At a guess the whole pan full costs less than a pound to make and it serves us about eight or so meals, so very penny stretching.

The packing is going well with areas suddenly appearing very bare all over the house.  All our pictures are remaining on the walls until we have decorated the new house and then we will literally take them down here and put them straight up there.  We are hoping to have the whole house set up and ready to live in before we move, I'll let you know how that works out!

Sue xx

Tuesday 24 January 2012


I'm managing brilliantly to keep away from supermarkets but it seems I can't keep away from temptation.  As I was paying for my milk, (I've reduced it to two 2 pint bottles twice a week thus keeping our milk bill under a fiver) I was tempted by the card rack.   They have some beautiful new cards on it and before I knew what I was doing I bought this little beauty.

I also got an Approved Food order delivered yesterday so that's another £32.33 out of this weeks housekeeping. Lots of lovely bargains that we actually did need, including a large bag of 440 teabags that should keep Lovely Hubby in tea for the rest of this year for just £2.99 and 8 packs of Naan breads for just £1 (less than 13p a pack) to go with our currys, they are now safely in the freezer ready to be pulled out each time we have a curry.......

.... and as I have a huge jar of curry paste I think we will be having lots in the near future (I have Tikka Masala but this is all they have left if you want to nip over and grab yourself one).

So my challenge for the rest of this week is not to spend anymore money except on the milk on Friday.  But I must keep looking ahead when I go to get it and not at the card racks!!

One brilliant bonus with getting the order is that I now have more boxes for packing, four small ones, ideal for heavy things and one nice big box.......I feel another day of packing coming on.  At the moment I am working through my wardrobe, having a good sort out and packing away anyclothes I won't need until after the move, so no fancy nights out for me ....... I've packed away the posh frock!!

I must just point out this is NOT a sponsored Blog post or an advert, but just a post about a company I use a lot and really like (and who save me a fortune)!!

Sue xx

Monday 23 January 2012

Spending the pennies.......

Spending the pennies is becoming a habit, instead of spending just notes and ending up with lots of change in my purse, just recently I thought I would see if paying for things with the right money instead of just handing over a card or a note would make me think more about exactly how much I was spending.  It does...... and it has the advantage of keeping my purse lighter and making my money last longer.

So I've turned into one of those annoying people that dig deep in their purse saying 'I know I've got the right change in here, won't be a minute'.  Mind you most small shops are pleased to get change, especially if you shop first thing in the morning.

My No Spend January has turned instead into a Low Spend January, I had 3 No Spend days in the first week, 5 in the second week and last week it was 4 No Spend days, so that's a total of 12 No Spend days out of 22, not that good.  So out of my housekeeping of £50 per week for the first 3 weeks of the year I have £34.96 over which makes my average spend each week around £35, I'm sure I can do better than that.  I must try harder!!

I've also been experimenting with cheaper toiletries and cosmetics,  I recently switched from 'Protect and Perfect' which costs £20.50 a pot to 'Skinovation' from Asda which costs £4.  It's just as good, smells just as nice and more importantly for me with my sensitive skin is just as kind to my skin. I have a couple of pots of this stashed in my wardrobe,  then I will have to find something similar in the smaller shops as I am still determined to keep up my Challenge and stay away from the supermarkets.  I may save the £9 that I have left on my Boots advantage card ready to buy a pot of something when these run out.

Other ways I've been saving money is by using up what I have.

 As I'm right-handed I usually wear out the right hand of a pair of rubber gloves before the left one, so I save all the left ones, then when I wear out the last right hand one of my supply of new gloves, I start to use all the saved left ones, turning them into a right glove by simply turning them inside out.  They don't last as long but it's better than simply throwing them all away.   Once the left hand glove gives up the ghost as well, I use the wide part (from the base of the thumb to the wrist) to make some rubber bands or strips to tie plants to canes with, the rubber gives the plants a soft tie instead unyielding string which can dig into them as they grow.  So nothing wasted.

What have you been doing to save money recently?

Sue xx

Sunday 22 January 2012

Rain on the windscreen.......

Rain on the windscreen,
tears in my eyes
pain in my heart
from fears I despise.

Life is unfair
 and harder each day,
the pain knocks you sideways
 takes your breath right away.

But you take a deep breath
and plod gently on
looking for memories
where soon there will be none. 

Hold close to your heart
 those that you love,
wrap loved ones so cosy
in warm velvet gloves.

Murmur I love you
and hear the reply,
then wipe away gently
the tears from your eye.

Listen to tales
told from the heart
of times that were different
when you were apart.

Do what you can
and know what you know,
and turn away sadly
as tears start to flow.

Know what you have
 is still  yours for a while,
thank God for your fortune
and cry as you smile.

(Sue Hall 22/01/2012)

To my Mum and Dad - I Love You.

Sue xx

Friday 20 January 2012


Blogger is being so frustrating at the moment.  I can't leave a comment on anyones Blog if they use 'embedded below post' comments.  Lots of others folk have commented on this and are also having trouble.

Today and yesterday my Blogging Buddy SFT had wonderful Blog posts and I tried and tried to leave a comment but frustratingly couldn't managed it.  The little birds in the picture are a tribute to SFT who's post was about lovely birds, mine are frustratingly fighting over the same piece of bread.

So please all of you out there who usually find comments from me in your comment box, I have not given up on you, I am reading just as regularly, I am just not able to comment anymore.

I don't know what system Blogger has changed but folk had this same problem on my Blog until I changed to a 'pop up comments box', I chose full page,. but you can just pick the little box as well and things work perfectly again.  I have also changed to moderated comments for a while as I was being inundated with adverts for Viagra, and I'm sure if you need Viagra you can source it yourselves, you don't need to visit my comment box to find a ready supply!!

Sue xx

Thursday 19 January 2012

Buying and Selling......

Buying and selling....or should that be selling and buying?

On Tuesday while sorting through the cupboards and packing merrily away I found these, a big box of Mail Lite envelopes and I immediately thought of using them rather than moving house with them.  So I started to think of all the obvious things that would fit in them.....

... after watching this dvd over the weekend (although good....not worth keeping to watch again) with a very apt title,  I went rummaging through the car boot sale boxes that I am quickly building up during this mammoth sorting out session and pulled out all the dvds, this one included.

So this little stack was quickly listed on Amazon, I have sold two up to now, so more pennies in my purse and less clutter to move with already.

However, while I was in town I did get tempted by some too good to miss bargains.  A couple of cook books, half price in the charity shop, you really can't grumble at 50p each, some hankies for Lovely Hubby, he prefers real ones, more environmentally friendly than tissues, and a lovely brand new pure linen top still with it's labels for me for just £5.50, it was £18 originally and it's lovely so I splurged using my personal spends for all these purchases.

After the charity shop it was just next door to the health food shop for some Oatbran and Flax seeds, then I had to nip into Superdrug for some shampoo we both use Head and Shoulders, well whichever copy of it is cheapest in whatever shop we are in at the time.

This always get decanted into our large dispenser bottle (we've had it since we got married, so it's over 4 years old), this gives us a measured 'dose' of shampoo so nothing gets wasted and it sits neatly on the edge of the shower for ease of use.

Then I called into Boots to see what was in their 'much advertised on the window 75% off sale'.  I got the little make up bag with a body cream and a hand cream inside for £2 (should have been £6).  My favourite ever in the world bubble bath was not on offer as such but if you spent over £8 (it's £8.50....which is why I get it for Christmas and birthday when I'm flush) on Spa products you got a bath soak worth £9.20 free.  So I got one.......extravagant you might be thinking now... has she gone mad....is this the way for a newly converted Frugal Girl to behave!!  NO of course it not ...... but I used points from my Boots card to pay for the lot.....so that's lovely treats for me for FREE.....I'm a very happy bunny.

One thing I am doing now is keeping all my receipts and when I get home from a shopping expedition writing ALL my spending down in my big office diary, obtained for free from where Lovely Hubby works, I think he accidentally said he needed two this year !!

So this week up to now out of four days I have had two No Spend Days (including today).  Not too bad, so including buying a new loaf tin for all the homemade bread I'm making,  I've still got £21.25 left in the housekeeping kitty to last until Sunday. 

What are you tempted most by in charity shops?

Sue xx

Wednesday 18 January 2012

One of the best frugal tools....

One of the best frugal tools (in my humble opinion), is a Plan.  Be it a lifestyle plan or a meal plan, and what better way to make good use of everything in your cupboards and freezers than to spend ten minutes going through them before you go shopping, and making up a menu plan for the week ahead, then you can go armed with a shopping list to buy only the things you need.

So when I saw this little beauty on this website, and saw that it gave permission to print it out and use it, I jumped at the chance (luckily it's also in my favourite colours!).  Simply open the link and then click on 'Weekly Meal Planning' in the left hand sidebar, and then halfway down the page is this menu planner for the week.

This has come at a very good time for both me and my Mum as we are both needing to plan ahead at the moment.  I am using up the cupboards and freezer stores ready for our move and Mum has had to change all their eating habits due to my Dad being very poorly at the moment.

This is my meal plan for this week, (which reminds me I must go out and pull up a couple of leeks for tonights soup).  If you click on it it will get bigger so you can read it a bit easier. I think Lovely Hubby appreciates it too as he can plan what to buy or take for his lunch knowing what will be on the table at teatime.  My mini challenge this week was to use up most of the foods in the smallest freezer, then I will defrost it and fill it each week until the move with the menu items chosen from the other two freezers until all the freezers are empty.

My two Blogs seems to be merging and overlapping with foodies things at the moment.  Feel free to visit either (or both). 

You may have noticed I've allowed some advertising on the Blog, hopefully with themes relating to the Blog, this is to try and justify the large amount of time I am spending at the computer each day Blogging and researching.  You can earn me some lovely money (I get a few pence per click) by clicking on the adverts, you don't have to buy anything just a click and a quick visit and then come back here!!  We'll see how it goes, I hope they don't annoy anyone too much!

Sue xx

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Sunrise and Tractors

Absolutely gorgeous sunrise this morning, the camera didn't do it justice (as usual) but it's almost there.  With the farm being literally in the middle of nowhere we have a huge expanse of sky and to see it change colour so dramatically just takes my breath away.  A wonderful start to the day.

As the sky diffused with light everything came into subtle relief, including Lovely Hubby's John Deere tractor, now in the final stages of its transformation.

The new hydraulic system , designed for this tractor and adapted by LH himself and with parts designed by him and manufactured by some of his friends in the business is almost complete.  The front arms go up and down and all it's accessories can now be used to help us with heavy lifting during our move.

One downside, in my opinion, while he was working on the tractor in our landlords barn with his tractor specialist last weekend he spotted a set of forks (like off a fork lift truck) and made an offer to our landlord for them.......somehow fittings for them have now appeared on my kitchen table ready for painting!

I must remind him, we have friends coming for Supper on Friday, they will not be used to balancing the salt and pepper and their side plates on tractor parts!!

A new post over on The How Low Can You Go Food Diary.

Sue xx