SHOMOS round up – money blogger awards

What a week! I had an eventful time at the SHOMOS in London, with a few bumps in the road. That’s life I guess. It would be dull if things always ran to plan.

The SHOMOS – what’s it all about?


I travelled up to London on Saturday for the SHOMOS, the annual conference and awards of the UK Money Bloggers group, sponsored by Yolt.

What a great day – I absolutely loved it! We had brilliant talks from Cora Harrison (the Mini Millionaire), Laura Light (Savings for Savvy Mums) and Jordon Cox,  aka the Coupon Kid, on various aspects of blogging and life generally.

Jordon gave a very moving account of his recent, very severe illness and how, despite being hospitalised for months on end, he managed to write and publish his first book, Secrets to Saving: The Ultimate UK Couponing Guide. He really is a remarkable young man. I reviewed Jordon’s book here.

There were also a couple of panel discussions on dealing with debt and tips to future proof your finances, which were incredibly helpful and informative.

The SHOMOS event is pulled together by Andy Webb from , now the money expert on Channel five’s Shop Smart Save Money. He does an amazing job every year and is an all round lovely man.

How did we do at the SHOMOS?


Shoestring Cottage was nominated in three categories, Best Frugal Food Blog, Best Money Saving Blog and the People’s Choice Award. Sadly, I didn’t come home with any awards this time. However, I was really delighted to discover that it was quite a big deal to be in the final shortlist of six for the People’s Choice award. The original list consisted of 83! More than happy with this. This is all down to my lovely readers, who took the time to vote for me. Thank you so much if you did!

I was delighted that my friend Emma from the Money Whisperer did extremely well, scooping two awards. When I met her for the first time last year she had only been blogging for a few months. Nikki from the Female Money Doctor also did well. Please check them both out as their blogs are well worth a read and their awards were well deserved. There are so many others I could mention. You can find the full list of winners here.


Then it all went to pot….

Having had the best day, I started to feel a bit queasy on the way home. Tube – bus replacement service – train, enough to make anyone feel a bit putrid. However, it turned into the winter vomiting virus and by the time I got back it was in full swing. Not good! However, at least I lost a few pounds! So, if I have been a little quiet on the blogging front this week, you will understand why. I managed to infect a few of my fellow bloggers and poor Mr Shoestring too.

The slightly traumatic journey home aside, the SHOMOS is a brilliant event. If you are a blogger who writes about finance in some way, or if you know someone who does, point them at the website. There is also a very supportive Facebook group you can request to join.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I will earn a small commission. Thanks!

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!

This week’s frugality – how are you doing?

Lost in Blog Land

I have mentioned before that I recently joined the UK Money Bloggers. The site is well worth a read as it is full of interesting articles on finance and frugality.  The members are a lovely, helpful lot with some amazing blogs. I chat regularly to the group on Facebook and they are so willing to share their experience and advice on anything blog related.

This week they have published an article of mine in the Loose Change section about my No Spend Month. Check it out if you get the chance.

Honestly, I would get lost in Blog Land if I had the time. What did we all do before the Internet? Does anybody else spend more time than they should reading lots of blogs?

 Dishwasher emergency

 Our dishwasher – a brilliant Miele one which was about 12 or 13 years old – finally bit the dust at the weekend. Mr S has pulled it out and managed to sort it on several occasions, but this time it just wouldn’t work. I bought it when there were 5 of us at Shoestring Cottage and very useful it was too. Did we need a new one? I didn’t think so. I reckoned we could go back to that quaint, old-fashioned method of a bowl of soapy water!

 However, Mr S mentioned it to his brother and sister in law, and they just happened to know of a dishwasher going for free. Last night they turned up with it and it is now in place. I just need to work out where to put the rinse aid as the light is flashing but there is no obvious place for it to go. I hope we can get it working properly. If not, we will get out the Marigolds. I’m not rushing out to get another one just yet.  There is no frugality in buying something if you don’t need it.

 Grocery challenge

Very soggy car park!

 We overspent slightly on our £35 a week grocery challenge last week. However, we managed to make this last for 10 days, so we are still on target. This week we have spent about £34. We have been having less meat and a lot of pasta and rice. However, we have been eating really healthily, with fruit, salads and yogurt on the menu as well. Anyone else still on  a grocery challenge this month? I would love to hear how you are getting on and the kind of meals you are eating.

Do you ever just get an evening where you cannot be bothered to cook? You can’t give in to a takeaway when you are on a tight budget. I feel like this tonight, having fought my way through the flooded roads of Essex and lots of traffic – with very wet feet as our car park was under 4 inches of water!  Fortunately I tend to plan an easy meal into my week, in case I am late or don’t feel great and don’t have the energy to cook after work. Tonight we are having fish in breadcrumbs, oven chips and peas. There is no shame in this and at least we aren’t going down the chippy!

I hope it is dry wherever you are and you are making some progress towards frugality!





Good news and bad: SHOMO Awards and bye bye lodger

We are back in Essex after our wonderful week in Wales. I was really pleased to hear that our hosts, Tom and Liza, had received some emails from readers of this blog expressing an interest in staying there. It is the most peaceful place ever! If you are interested in an eco friendly break in a beautiful location (at a very good price), more information is available here. We hope to return next year.

We packed a lot in, whilst leaving lots of time for reading books and resting. Highlights were walking the coastal path at Aberdovey, The RSPB South Stack reserve at Holyhead, a stopover in Bridgenorth and some fantastic charity shop bargain hunting. What a lovely week we had.

Bad news: the lodger is leaving

As well as many, many courgettes, cucumbers and runner beans, we came back to some sad news. Our lodger has a new job and will be relocating. She has been a great lodger and is now good friends with my daughters, so we shall really miss her.  As they all socialise I expect we will still see her from time to time.

This is not good news for the bank balance as we rely on the income. We hope to get a replacement in as soon as possible. I will be getting the advert back up on this week.

Great news: I am a SHOMO awards finalist!

Whilst I was away I learned that my blog has made the shortlist for the SHOMO Awards best frugal and thrift blog. I am really pleased! The SHOMO Awards celebrate and recognise the best UK money blogs. In my category I am up against such exalted company as Frugal Queen (my heroine), my friend Faith Archer with her beautiful Much More With Less blog, Cass at Diary of a Frugal Family (fab recipes and brilliant money saving ideas), Zoe at Ecothrifty, which I love – right up my street, and the amazing Emma Drew – originally of From Aldi to Harrods fame. I love her You Tube videos.

I can’t wait to meet all of them at the awards ceremony in London at the end of September. In the meantime, there is also a People’s Choice award, where you can vote for any of the 70 blogs nominated from 1st August.  I will remind you when this opens .

All of the categories and nominees can be found here.

Staying chilled

I need to keep my post holiday sense of relaxation going. No yoga on the grass in the Welsh countryside, but I will open the window wide and get my mat out in the lounge.

Still – I have a lot to do! I need to do a little shopping for the week, lots of laundry, list some of my charity shop bargains on eBay and perhaps do a little gardening. Luckily darling daughter has left the house clean and tidy so I don’t need to worry about that.

I hope you are having a relaxing Sunday. Back soon with some post holiday money saving ideas.


The Liebster Award

liebster-awardI am very excited that one of my fellow bloggers, the lovely Mona over at Small Things Good , has kindly nominated my blog for a Liebster Award.

Here is a bit of background to the award – basically it is aimed at promoting undiscovered bloggers like myself!

The word “Liebster” originates from the German word “liebste” which means “dearest”. The origin of this award is unknown, although several posts have suggested a German blog. The rules of this award have changed over the years although the underlying goal remains the same: to bring attention to blogs that have not been discovered yet. In 2010, the rule was to pick 3-5 blogs that have less than 3,000 readers but recently, you list 10 blogs with less than 200 subscribers. It is quite a dramatic difference, but for the better.

The Rules

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog.
  2. Show off your award on your blog (in a post, widget, etc.).
  3. Answer 10 questions given to you by your nominee.
  4. Create 10 questions of your own.
  5. Nominate 5-10 of your favorite blogs with fewer than 200 followers and notify them of their nomination.
  6. And of course, tell them about it and provide a link back to your website so that they can know more about the award!

Here are the questions I answered:

  1. What was the driving force that led you to start your blog? I was, and still am, struggling with money and realised that I felt so much better when I took control of my expenditure. Frugality became a hobby rather than just a necessity. The blog was partly to share my experiences of being a frugalista and partly to give myself encouragement and renewed determination to keep going!
  2. Chicken or Fish?  It has to be fish! I love it. However, day to day I eat more chicken because it is cheaper.
  3. If you could meet any famous person, recent or past, who would you want to meet? Gandhi, or failing that, Jason Isaacs 😉
  4. If you could know the exact moment you were going to die, would you want to? Why? Lord, no! It would make me anxious to be aware of my impending doom! Would anyone say yes?
  5. What is your favorite thing to blog about? Anything and everything, mostly with a frugal theme. But sometimes I am inspired by a particular event, so will blog about that.
  6. Sweet or savoury? Can’t I have both? I love chocolate! However, if I have to choose it would be savoury.
  7. If you had to choose one meal to eat, every day for the rest of your life, what would it be? Really good sausages with creamy mash, vegetables and gravy. I think if I chose something fussy I would get bored more quickly.
  8. Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate, preferably very dark with a touch of ginger.
  9. Tell me 5 random things about yourself. I spent 7 months on a kibbutz in Israel and had my 21st birthday there. I am a qualified yoga teacher.  I once nearly drowned doing white water rafting in New Zealand. My nickname is Chickenlady because I used to keep chickens and now have a collection of china, cloth and metal chickens. I dream of owning a VW camper van.
  10. Cake or Pie? Cake, obviously! I love baking too,

My 10 questions to the bloggers I give the Liebster Award to are:

Why did you start your blog?
What are your hobbies? 
Trip of a lifetime, where would you go?
Who would be your top 4 guests, dead or alive, at your dream dinner party?
Which do you prefer for an evening out – clubbing it or a meal in a restaurant?
Sweet or savoury?
What would your dream career be?
Who is your celebrity crush?
What is your favourite season and why?
What is your one all-time favorite food? 

It’s hard to know exactly how many followers some blogs have as they don’t always say! Anyway, I nominate:;;;

Please check out their blogs!