My five frugal things this week 20th October

Welcome to this occasional round up of my frugal things for the week. It is a collaborative effort with some other bloggers and will hopefully give you a  bit of inspiration to be a bit more frugal when you need to.

Selling some old clothes on eBay

Some boots to sell on eBayMy daughter had a big clear out of stuff before she left for university and left several bags behind. I fished out some items I knew I could sell before donating the remainder to the charity shop. I have been slowly working my way through them and managed to get quite a bit listed this week. I found two pairs of ankle boots in excellent condition. One was a leather pair from Clarks and the other from New Look. They are barely worn. She clearly has more money than sense!

I managed to sell a couple of things this week too, but I have to stop myself browsing whilst I am on there and buying more clothes! I love a bargain and there are plenty to be found on eBay. You can read my post on eBay selling here.

Old fashioned frugal things: Apple picking

Home grown russet applesA few years ago the local council did a tree giveaway. We rushed to join the queue for this rare freebie and picked up a russet apple tree and some blackcurrant bushes. We have had crops of blackcurrants  two summers in a row, but this is the first time we have had a decent crop of apples. They are huge – delicious and crunchy too, with a nice sharp flavour. I have been out picking them so have saved myself money on fruit this week. Growing our own is one of our favourite frugal things to do.

Surveys

I have been exploring the money making possibilities of doing on-line surveys recently. My favourite so far is Prolific, as they only take a few minutes and pay quite well. I have managed to do three surveys for them this week, mostly in my lunch hour.  I have also signed up for Mingle, but that site is annoying me so far as you have to spend ages answering qualifying questions and then get told you aren’t right for them. This has happened three times so far – I can’t be bothered. It doesn’t happen with Prolific. They ask you enough questions when you first sign up and only offer you surveys you are pre-qualified for. My daughter has recommended One Poll as another survey company that pre-qualifies you so I have signed up with them too.

None of these will make a fortune, but for a few minutes every now and again you can make a few quid. I have £14 in my Prolific account and won’t withdraw it until January, when I am skint after Christmas!

Freebies

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I had received some excellent Pantene hair care freebies from SuperSavvyMe. I got to test them and feed back and I have now been accepted for another trial. This time it is for Bold 2 in 1. A much more expensive washing liquid than I would ever buy normally, so I will be happy to give this a try. I think I am lucky to be selected for two trials. I am sure it helps that I have this blog and that I am active on Instagram and Twitter so they are likely to get a mention!

If you are into social media it is worth signing up. They give voucher codes and run competitions as well as the product testing.

I genuinely liked the Pantene products. I had Micellar shampoo with two types of conditioner. My daughter and lodger both tried them as well and were pretty positive about them.

Out with the slow cooker

Slow cooker beef casseroleI popped into Home Bargains – I love that shop – to buy my cat food as it is the cheapest place by far to get it. Whilst I was there I had a browse at the food and bought some stewing steak for £2.30.  As I suspected it wasn’t going to be the best, most tender meat I got out the slow cooker and made a delicious casserole. I can almost embrace the onset of the cooler weather when the slow cooker comes out! I love that you can chuck a load of stuff in it in the morning and it is transformed into something amazing by dinner time. It costs almost nothing to run and means you can use cheap cuts of meat to make yummy family meals. This made four generous portions.

So these are my five frugal things for the week. What are yours?

I’m linking up with this Cass, Emma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week’ linky. Check out what they have achieved this week and share your own frugal achievements

Reverse advent campaign: support your local food bank this Christmas

Reverse advent campaign

Reverse adventBy now, those of you who celebrate Christmas are probably in full swing making plans, buying presents, thinking of recipes, etc. But what if you had no money to spare for Christmas? What if you were jobless or homeless? Can you imagine how awful it must feel to be penniless at Christmas? Maybe you have been there.

With this in mind, how about making a contribution to the food bank this year? My team at the office are planning a reverse advent system. It works like this. You usually open your advent calendar and remove a chocolate, a toy – Aldi even does one where you get a mini bottle of wine each day! With the reverse advent you take a nice big box and every day you make a contribution instead.

Along with the usual staples such as baked beans, tinned fruit and vegetables, pasta and toiletries, we will be adding a few luxuries for Christmas. Fancy biscuits, good quality coffee, a Christmas pudding and maybe some creamy custard will all be making their way into our box.

Join us!

Reverse adventHow about joining us for the Christmas reverse advent? We will start mid-November rather than on the 1st December, so that we can deliver the goodies to our local food bank in plenty of time for the festive season.

If you want to find your nearest food bank and have a look at the list of suitable items to include you can visit the Trussell Trust. All should be non-perishable with a long end date. A typical food parcel from the food bank will include:

Cereal * Soup * Pasta * Rice* Pasta sauce * Beans * Tinned meat * Tinned vegetables* Tea/coffee * Tinned fruit

You can also check with your local food bank on the website to see what they are short of currently. It is a good idea to include some items of toiletries such as soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, toilet roll or deodorant. The food banks don’t get many feminine hygiene products like tampons donated, so maybe some of those too.

Some more information from the Trussell Trust:

Thirteen million people live below the poverty line in the UK, with individuals going hungry every day for a range of reasons, from benefit delays to receiving an unexpected bill on a low income.

The Trussell Trust’s 400-strong network of food banks provides a minimum of three days’ emergency food and support to people experiencing crisis in the UK. In 2016/17, we gave 1,182,954 three day emergency food supplies to people in crisis.

Many members of the UK Money Bloggers group will be promoting this campaign. You can read the original post on this here.

I love this reverse advent idea! Do you think you will be joining in?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Test your frugal habits with the thrift test

Frugal habits

Do you consider yourself savvy with your money or could you develop better frugal habits? Take the thrift test below to raise your awareness of which areas of your finances you need to improve.

  1. Do you know how much is in your bank balance right now?

    a) not a clue but I am probably overdrawn.

    b) yes, because I check every few days and budget accordingly.

    c) I have a rough idea as I take a look at my balance every now and again to see what I have left.2)

  2. Work lunches for you mean:

a) buying something on the hoof. I pop into a coffee shop or fast food outlet most days.b) a packed lunch. I always make one the evening before to save money.

c) sometimes I take a packed lunch but I don’t always have time.

3) What is your attitude to shopping for leisure:

a) I love it! Buying new things makes me feel good and I go into town or to the mall to shop most weekends.

b) I never shop for fun. I make my purchases when I am sure I need something and can afford it, and even then I shop around.

c) I know I can’t afford to go on regular sprees but like to look around the shops and make the odd impulse buy.

4) If you can’t afford something straight away do you:

a) buy it and stick it on your credit card. You can worry about how to pay it later.

b) do a lot of research online to find out the cheapest price for the item. Then either use your savings or save up. You will often try to buy second hand where possible.

c) If I really need it I buy it straight away, but have a quick look at some product reviews and prices first. I use a credit card but make sure I can pay at least the minimum repayment charges.

5) How often do you use cash back sites when you make your online purchases?

a) Never. I don’t know anything about them.

b) I always check to see if I can use sites like Top Cashback or Quidco before I make any purchase and get several hundred pounds back each year this way.

c) I have signed up but I often forget to use them.

* These are my referral links and if you sign up using them I will earn a small commission – thanks!

6) If you have to travel somewhere by train, do you:

a) buy the ticket as you get to the station.

b) purchase your ticket online several weeks in advance as you know you can save money. You consider different routes and buying two singles if that works out cheaper.

c) you know that you should buy your tickets in advance but often don’t remember until a few days before.

7) How do you keep your heating bills as low as possible?

a) I don’t really – as soon as I feel chilly the heating goes on.

b) I put on several layers and draw the curtains before I give in to turning it on and keep the thermostat as low as possible.

c) I try not to put it on too quickly but my partner or children often flick it on when my back is turned.

8) When was the last time you shopped around for a better mortgage deal, bank account or utility provider?

a) I don’t bother. They are all pretty much the same.

b) I check everything from my mortgage to my house insurance at least once a year.

c) I do it every now and again if I have time.

9) Your car is getting old and cranky. Do you:

a) Get another one on finance as soon as possible. I don’t really understand what they said about the interest rate but the car is shiny and red!

b) Look after the old girl whilst you save for another decent second hand model.

c) Get a loan from the bank to buy another car as soon as you can.

10) When you go grocery shopping, do you:

a) go in on the way home from work and buy what you fancy for the week.

b) Check what you already have in the stores, plan the meals for the week and then shop with a list.

c) I have a rough idea of what we need and usually take a list, but I don’t always stick to it and I am drawn to special offers.

The results to reveal your frugal habits

Mostly As

You don’t have to be a genius to work out that most As means your attitude to finance is so relaxed it is bordering on reckless. You rarely get a bargain and you don’t keep track of your spending. The chances are you have an overdraft and debts as a result. If you need to, you can get help and advice from the CAB, the Money Advice Service or Step Change.

Mostly Bs

You are a paragon of thrifty virtue, with fantastic frugal habits. You get the best value on everything you purchase, know how much money you have to spare to the penny and are likely to have a healthy savings account to prove it. We can all learn from you!

Mostly Cs

Let’s admit it, this is where most of us are. We love to get a bargain but don’t always do everything we could to save ourselves a buck. We can learn from the experts so that we can make the best of our money.

This is a light-hearted quiz with a serious message. Money really does make the world go around so understanding money

 

The best frugal food blogs to help you save money

I love food and experimenting with recipes and, just because I am on a budget, I don’t want to eat badly. Glossy cookbooks and food programmes are all very well, but sometimes require fancy ingredients that are expensive. This is why when I want inspiration I go to my favourite frugal food blogs. (Incidentally, some of my own frugal recipes are to be found here.)

Here are some of the best frugal food blogs, in no particular order:

Cooking on a Boot Strap

Master of the budget recipe is Jack Monroe. It started with A Girl Called Jack, but you will now find the blog at Cooking on a Bootstrap. What I like about Jack is the recipe descriptions – there is often a story behind a particular creation – and the way the cost of each recipe is so carefully calculated. The cooking here is all vegan now, but that makes it interesting and very cheap.

Frugal Queen

Jane at Frugal Queen is a legend. She is a huge inspiration to me and one of the reasons I began my blog. I enjoy her no nonsense approach to food and everything else. You won’t find any fancy recipes, just decent, cheap home cooking. As she eats gluten free, everything can be adapted for those with a sensitivity or Coeliac’s disease.

Diary of a Frugal Family

Cass at Diary of a Frugal Family is a recent find.  She emphasises the importance of meal planning, which is my mantra too for those attempting to stick to a budget. This is good, family food and includes plenty of delicious home baking.

Thrifty Lesley

Thrifty Lesley shows you how to feed yourself for £1 a day. The recipes are interesting and healthy too. Lesley uses very little meat, which is how her food is so cheap I think. This is a clever and well organised blog. She has written menu plans to help you stick to the £1 a day budget, whatever your circumstances. There is even a no power meal plan, aimed at people who have no power in their accommodation. This is serious stuff and really useful.

Reduced Grub

Kelly at Reduced Grub is well worth a visit. She has loads of recipes on her blog. They aren’t as cheap as some of the other blogs I have mentioned, but still good family food on a budget.

Utterly Scrummy Food for Families

A brand new blog to me is Utterly Scrummy Food for Families, which has an emphasis on budgeting and meal planning. Michelle presents plenty of inspiration and advice on using leftovers, reducing your food bills and producing delicious meals on a budget. I particularly fancy this potato and vegetable bake. My kind of frugal food blog!

The Skint Foodie

I love the Skint Foodie blog. It has some seriously sexy recipes for a small budget! This is extremely well written by someone who has struggled with alcohol, homelessness and unemployment. He wanted to prove that eating well wasn’t the preserve of the wealthy, that planning and imagination meant he could still eat fabulous food with very little money. It is witty, informative and eye opening.

Frugal Food

Faye’s blog, Frugal Food, does what it says on the tin. She focusses on producing frugal meals with quality ingredients. Being frugal doesn’t have to mean being cheap! Some recipes are quite adventurous, but sound delicious, such as Toro Rosso pie, made with minced beef and Hungarian sausage hot pot.

Which frugal food blogs inspire you? I hope you enjoy my suggestions and have a frugal foodie weekend.

 

 

 

This week’s beauty bargains

I love a good deal, as you know, and this week I have been fortunate to get hold of some beauty bargains. (You might also like my posts on budget beauty  here and here.)

Freebies from the Savvy Circle

beauty bargainsA while ago I signed up with P&G’s Savvy Circle. The idea is that you can sign up for product testing of new P&G products. You receive freebies to try yourself and share with your friends. The company asks you to feed back via their blog and hopes you will spread the word on social media too.

I applied to try Pantene’s new Micellar hair care range and the products arrived yesterday. I’m always up for a freebie, but I didn’t expect such a generous package. They sent two bottles each of shampoo, conditioner and leave-in foam conditioner! Also in the parcel were some money off vouchers to pass to friends and family and some feedback forms.

I have already tried the shampoo and liquid conditioner and they seem lovely. Conditioners that leave my hair feeling greasy and heavy are a turn off but this one feels very light.  My daughter and my lodger are going to try them out too. I have signed up for two more campaigns for Bold and Olay. There is no guarantee of getting accepted for anything, so I will have to wait and see what happens.

Supermarket beauty bargains

beauty bargainsI popped into Asda after work to get a few bits and discovered a new range of makeup from George. It looks great and the prices are amazing! I needed a new mascara, rouge and concealer and bought all three. The mascara was £3 (on offer, so I bought two), the blusher – a really big pot – was £5, the small solid concealer was just £2 and the liquid concealer was £4.50. I resisted the foundation as I don’t need any, but that was on sale at an introductory price of £4.50.  I regret this now, so might pop in and buy some if I am passing. These are great prices! I haven’t tried anything properly yet so I will report back and perhaps do a review on another post. Also in the range are lipsticks, nail varnish, powder, eye pencils and shadows, etc.

I am pretty pleased with my beauty bargains. I don’t spend a fortune on cosmetics and toiletries as I can’t afford to, so freebies and low prices are the way to go.

Do you belong to any cosmetic testing organisations or any freebie sites? Has anyone else tried the George at Asda makeup range?

 

 

Eco friendly Christmas gifts

Don’t shout at me for mentioning the festive season in October – it soon creeps up! I have already started buying and have been looking at some eco friendly Christmas gifts.

Christmas has felt like a bad consumer melt down for me in the past. Too many people buying too much stuff and spending way too much money. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas. I enjoy all of the opportunities it offers for people to get together, the giving and receiving,  the cooking and eating  of delicious food.

However, I dislike the general excess. People spending money they can’t afford, buying mounds of food that won’t get eaten, trashy, over the top decorations and the pressure folk feel to produce the perfect experience. I am already hearing parents stressing because they cannot get this year’s most popular toy and fighting for them when they arrive in the shops. Most of all, I hate spending money on trashy presents that won’t be appreciated.

Because of this, I try to make sure the recipients of any gifts I buy really want them. If that means taking away the surprise, then so be it. I also try to buy some items that are eco friendly. Usually small things for my daughters that will replace something that causes a lot of waste. With this in mind, here are my suggestions for inexpensive eco friendly Christmas gifts. I am dreaming of a green Christmas!

I am going for a frugal Christmas, so none of the suggestions below will break the bank.

Eco friendly Christmas gifts

For their stocking fillers, I have bought my daughters some stainless steel reusable straws. Plastic straws are thrown away after one use which is incredibly wasteful. I have ordered them from Lakeland, at £5.99 for 8 straws with a cleaning brush.

I hope they don’t read this, as I have also bought them some reusable Magic Makeup Removing Cloths from Amazon. You can remove all makeup with just water. The reviews suggest they really work, so I am excited about these. I have ordered myself some too.

If you have a nature loving friend or family member, Friends of the Earth have a cute bird feeder in their shop. You can stick it to your kitchen window and watch the birds feeding as you do the washing up! Love this! At £13.99 it won’t break the bank.

I know this isn’t a glamorous gift, but I would be happy to receive these Ecoegg Re-Usable Bamboo Towels. You can wash and reuse rather than buying kitchen towels.

I have never tried these, but my lodger has one – how about a Bamboo Toothbrush? She is very happy with hers. It remains to be seen how long it will last, but you are supposed to change them every three months so it should do that.

I have various plastic lunchboxes that I take to work, but maybe a stainless steel one would be a better option. Ideally, it should be air tight so that you don’t have to use plastic wrap as well. There are lots of different options online, but some of them are horrendously expensive. One was over £80!! Not on my budget…. Many were under £10 but looked cheap with poor reviews. This one seems a decent mid priced one and has excellent reviews.

For the kids, how about some recycled colouring pencils made from rolled up newspapers? I found these on eBay. Pencils and recycled paper crafts make great eco friendly Christmas gifts.

When I was at the SHOMO Awards recently, I met Zoe from Eco Thrify Living. She had bought her own reusable coffee cup with her, which I thought was such a sensible idea. I have found a similar one from Evolution Organics that I will be putting on my Christmas wish list. I have several china ones but they aren’t really practical for carrying around with you.

Buy an experience

Regular readers will know we had a lot of experiences given to Mr Shoestring for his 50th. My favourites were the afternoon teas. Who wouldn’t enjoy a big plate of cake? Of course, there are all types of experiences you can purchase and you can find some of them at buyagift.co.uk. I think these are a good idea for people who already have too much stuff.

Buying books

I also like buying books as these will tend to be read and passed on – not just binned. Coffee table type books are pretty but I avoid them as they tend to be leafed through and forgotten. I only buy books for people I know well or where someone has requested a book they really like. If you are considering books as presents, check out the Book People first. They have collections that are so cheap and fantastic for presents. When my children were smaller, I would buy the collections of kids books and separate them up to give in a party bag rather than loads of plastic rubbish. I also buy second hand books for stocking fillers.

Gift vouchers

If you don’t know what to buy, don’t buy anything. Rather than spend on something that might not be appreciated, choose a gift voucher instead. The other advantage of gift cards is that they don’t involved loads of packaging and gift wrapping. You can buy discounted cards from Zeek, so you can save money too. If you use my promo code you will get £3 for free. I generally use my gift cards, but if you have some you know you won’t get around to spending, you can sell on Zeek too. It’s a genius idea.

Does the waste and excess at Christmas leave you cold too? Will you be exploring some eco friendly Christmas gifts instead this year?

 

Disclaimer – this post contains affiliate links, but all opinions are all my own. Using an affiliate link will not affect you in any way. It will help to support the blog as I will earn a small commission if you purchase anything via an affiliate link.  Thanks!

Five Frugal Things I’ve done this Week 6th October 2017

I love these occasional five frugal things posts. When you think the week has flashed by in a blur of busy-ness, it is good to stop and reflect. So here are my five frugal things to kick off October.

frugal thingsFrugal thing 1: Using up the stores

I am eating out of the cupboards this week. For one reason or another it is just me almost every night. It can be hard to find the motivation to cook properly when I am by myself but tonight I made myself a delicious store cupboard stew.

I used chick peas and tinned tomatoes from the larder, along with a few frozen vegetables and some fresh ones that needed using up. Also chucked in were celery, carrots, mushrooms, a green pepper, some left over cooked spinach, a single new potato I found lurking and the end of a packet of mixed frozen vegetables. The addition of half a pint of stock and some smoked paprika – my favourite spice – gave it a lovely flavour. It was absolutely delicious! I had it with some brown rice for a really cheap and healthy dinner. Which leads me onto:

Frugal thing 2: Batch cooking and freezing

I love the odd home made freezer meal and frequently batch cook. It saves time and money. Tonight I deliberately made a big pot of my stew so that I could eat it tomorrow and freeze a couple of portions.

Frugal thing 3: Rented out the spare room

I welcomed my new lodger on Sunday. She seems really lovely and is settling in well. It has been nice to have a bit of company this week. The extra money is hugely helpful to my budget. I found her through Spare Room, which is a good site in my opinion.

I gave the room a refresh the other week – bit of frugal DIY. It was well worth it as it looks lovely and clean now.

Frugal thing 4: Making the most of windfall fruit

Mr S arrived home with a huge box of cooking apples a couple of weeks ago, far too many for us to use in fact. I have given a load to friends and neighbours and got back some pears in return. These are currently ripening in the fruit bowl. I didn’t have to buy any fruit this week at all.

I also peeled, chopped and froze some of the apples to mix with the home grown and foraged currants and berries already in the freezer.

frugal thingsFrugal thing 5: Completed a no spend week

I have purchased nothing this week except cat food, milk and a pack of reduced price mushrooms. I didn’t intend to do this – it just happened! We didn’t need any groceries except milk as we have been eating from the stores, but when I saw the yellow sticker on my half price mushrooms I knew I could use them in tonight’s stew. I don’t spend unless I need to. At the moment I am conscious that Christmas is on the way, and I want to save the pennies for presents.

 

I’m linking up with this Cass, Emma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week’ linky. Pop over to their blogs to see their five frugal things. What have your money saving achievements been this week?

 

 

What do you know about the CAB? The best advice for free

Most people have heard of the Citizens Advice Bureau or CAB. Some of you may even have gone to them for help. Today I attended a session with a lady from the local CAB where she explained in depth what they do. I thought I knew what this was, but their work is much more wide ranging than I realised. All of their services are provided for free. The CAB really is an amazing and valuable organisation.

Identifying the issues of the day

CABAs well as giving advice to members of the public, the CAB identifies the big issues, researches them and campaigns where there are problems. They can see patterns emerging from their dealings with clients. This puts them in an ideal and possibly unique position to understand the struggles people face. For example, they are currently campaigning to halt the roll out of Universal Credit. They have seen first hand the difficulties these changes are causing to already disadvantaged people. They also successfully put pressure on the government to place a cap on the rate of interest charged by pay day loan companies.

A shocking 72% of the CAB’s clientele live in poverty. They may be on low incomes, be unemployed, disabled or living with a long term health condition.

The biggest subject areas the CAB deals with are, in order:

Benefits and tax credits

Debt

Housing

Employment

Financial services

Relationships

As the lady explained today, these all impact on each other and people seeking advice often present with 3 or 4 different related problems. For example, they lose their job, they have no money and get into debt, then their relationships suffer.

The power of the volunteer

The CAB staff, who are mostly volunteers, do such a great job of helping people that 90% of their clients state they are satisfied; two out of three say their problems are resolved and 4 out of 5 say their lives have been improved by the experience.

The organisation struggles to keep up with the high demand for services. They always need more funding and constantly strive to recruit new volunteers. They have around 21,500 voluntary staff – that’s 77% of the total.

Those who volunteer with the CAB get benefits too. It can help people back into paid employment, give them experience in particular areas (for example, a lot of law students help at the CAB) and allow retired people a chance to use their skills and experience and continue with a challenge when their previous working life is over.

The CAB doesn’t just see people face to face. They have an excellent website for simple advice, as well as web chat and email services.

Helping with debt and money advice

The website has an excellent budgeting tool, as well as an eligibility calculator to help you work out which benefits you might be entitled to (this is down today but you can use this one if it isn’t working). You can take the first steps to working out what help you need and might not need to see an advisor at all. However, if you do require more specialist help you can make an appointment for a face to face meeting.

According to the CAB, one in 11 people in the UK have problem debt. Of these one in four have mental health issues. There is a connection.

Whatever your personal issues, the CAB can help you to find a way to manage your debt, and find a way out of the mire. For example, they can advise how to prioritise which debts to pay first, how to deal with your creditors and how to set up a debt management plan.

They can look at your income and ensure you are claiming all of the benefits you are entitled to, helping you to claim and deal with any issues that arise along the way. If you are facing eviction or rent arrears they can help you keep a roof over your head. They can also give employment advice if you are having problems at work or job seeking.

We are so lucky to have such a service.  All given free of charge by people who don’t have to but want to help anyway.  I am very pleased to know they are there, although I hope I never need their services. I think I am already planning my perfect retirement job!

Have you had any experience with the CAB?

 

Cleaning as therapy

There is something deeply satisfying about cleaning and tidying. Bringing order to chaos, getting rid of dirt and clutter and regaining control gives me a new sense of calm. Maybe cleaning as therapy should be prescribed!

cleaning as therapy

Clean and tidy lodger room

Cleaning as therapy

Of course, it’s not everybody’s cup of tea. It is hard work and takes time. However, I can only cope with a certain amount of disorder before I start to twitch. I’m not an OCD cleaner by any stretch of the imagination or a minimalist. I am not madly house proud, but I need to do a good weekly clean throughout to make me feel that all is right with my little world!

I spent the whole day yesterday doing a deep clean of the whole house, ready for my new lodger. First impressions are important, especially as she is arriving with her dad. I hit the cobwebs in all of the corners and cleaned all the woodwork and skirting boards with hot water and my home made cleaning spray. The windows all got a good shine and I washed all of the hard floors. The oven was scrubbed, as were the sink and fridge. I also wiped all of the cupboard fronts in the kitchen. Then the usual hoover and polish throughout, and we were ready.

Get rid of the clutter

I don’t like a lot of clutter either. I tend to keep on top of it as I go. However, there are some drawers and cupboards that need a bit of a clear out. What is the point of keeping loads of stuff you never use that just sits in your house gathering dust? If you leave it too long, you forget you have it! Now that autumn has arrived I will take advantage of having less to do in the garden and start to go through some of those dark corners. Definitely something for another day I think.

The garden does need a tidy up too to get ready for winter. The veg patch needs clearing and lots of things need cutting back. The greenhouse also needs sorting. We might get out and tackle the jungle later today, although it is looking rather grey and threatening weather wise at the moment.

I have achieved a lot this weekend anyway. Cleaning as therapy works for me. How about you?

The SHOMO Awards and a busy weekend

SHOMO Awards

Zoe, Emma and Andy at the SHOMO Awards

I have had such a busy week, my feet have hardly touched the ground! This is mainly because I was out all weekend at the SHOMO awards and spent Sunday in Brighton. Since then if I haven’t been at work I have been decorating. I haven’t had the chance to catch up with myself. I need to, as my new lodger arrives on Sunday and the house is a bit chaotic.

I’m not exactly a control freak, but I don’t respond well to chaos!. will be working flat out on Saturday to reclaim some order.

The SHOMO Awards

I attended the SHOMO Awards (UK Money Bloggers annual conference and awards ceremony) on Saturday. It was full on and extremely interesting. I had the chance to attend a couple of most informative workshops; one on Pinterest and the other on self-publishing. Pinterest fascinates me, but is also a bit of a mystery. I learned a lot from both sessions.

I met some bloggers whose sites I have followed for a while, which was lovely. It is a real community, with everyone so willing to give help and advice when you ask for it.

Shoestring Cottage was nominated for two awards: the Best Thrift and Frugal Blog and the People’s Choice award. I didn’t win either but I never really expected to. It was great just to be there. I met Zoe from Eco Thrifty, who won the Thrift and Frugal category. I love her blog and its whole ethos. She follows her eco principles and bought her own coffee mug. I wish I had thought to do that. Her blog is great, so go over and have a look if you don’t know it.

Skint Dad won the People’s Choice. I wasn’t surprised about this as he has a huge following. His blog is packed with good money saving ideas.

If you want to see all of the nominees and winners, head over to the UK Money Bloggers site. The event was brilliantly organised by Andy Webb from Be Clever with your Cash. He even managed to win a few accolades himself and very well deserved they were too.

I have picked up so many ideas for improving my blog – if I could just find the time!

An empty nest

Room with a view

Daughter number three flew the nest on Sunday and went off to Brighton university. I took her down there and helped her to settle in. She has a lovely room and the campus is very nice. It is, however, next to the football ground. They had a big match on so the traffic was terrible. Hopefully, it won’t always be that bad.

We had just picked up her key and been on campus for three minutes, when she managed to fall down some steps and damage her ankle! Not the kind of trip I envisaged.  I thought she had broken it at first, but she rallied. By the time I left it had swollen up and yesterday she sent me a photo of its vivid blue and purple hues. She hadn’t even started the student fresher’s week events and she has a sprained ankle already!