Thursday, 8 October 2015

The mini quilts are finished

Hello. I've been a busy little bee. The large quilt has been turned into nine smaller pet quilts. Each one is 2 feet square. I used a quilt cover which was given to me, one of my own well used covers, and the bottom right is from a pair of curtains I got from the charity shop for £1. You might recognize the fabric, I have already made some shopping bags out of it, and there is still a bit more left for two more bags. These can be thrown in the washer when they get a bit grubby. The original quilt was 40 tog, a lightweight summer quilt. 

If anyone wants to do this, I've made a diagram on how I cut the quilt up. First you need to lay it out on the floor, and decide how big or small you want your finished mini quilts to be. I divided mine into nine equal squares, you may want to go bigger or smaller, or your quilt may not be square like mine. You need a felt tip pen and a long stick to mark out the smaller squares. I have a 2 foot long clear plastic ruler, which I find very useful.

The dotted lines are the sewing lines, the solid lines are the cutting lines. You need to sew before you cut, not the other way round, that's important. I made two lines (dotted lines) by marking each side of the ruler, then sewing down those lines. You could draw one line, and sew up each side of it. Either way will work, as long as your cutting line is between two sewing lines.

Don't worry if it puckers, no one will see it as it will be enclosed inside the cover. The edges will look raggy also, and it may not be a perfect square. It doesn't matter.

Now you can use your smaller squares as a pattern to mark out your fabric for covering them. I have found a use for my redundant bed, ha ha, it makes a perfect platform for cutting out large pieces. I can cut something simple like this without measuring. I lay the square on top of the fabric along one side leaving an inch seam allowance. Then I cut along the opposite edge, again with a one inch seam allowance. Then I move the square further along and continue cutting until I have a long piece, enough for two sides, with a seam allowance. Fold it in half and sew up two edges right side in, to make a pocket. Turn it the right way. Slide the square inside and fit it into the corners, pin to keep it in place. Close up the open end by tucking the selvage edges inside, and sew along close to the edge. Finish by running the machine across it a few times. 
The chequered ones I made are being used, I gave them to Janet for the two chairs she has in her conservatory. This is Mr Beasley.
And this is Bertie.

I hope the instructions are ok, the mini quilts don't have to be perfect. The cats don't know they are wrinkled and puckered, ha ha.

It's been a lovely day today, I've had the mower out and hopefully that will be the last cut of the year. Thanks for popping in. Catch you soon.
Toodle pip

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Keeping on track, a review

Good morning. I will zap off this post early being as I missed yesterday. From time to time I review my money saving activities, to ascertain if they are still relevant today as they were when I first started on my frugal living journey. You might have noticed there is a list of money saving tips on a separate page, link at the top, I have been checking through them to see if they still apply now.

Almost every aspect of  living expenses can be tweaked and pruned by making choices. Make a wrong choice and you will find you pay more than you need to. Saying that, everyone's aspirations for a better life are different, so there is no, 'one size fits all'. The areas I save money in may not be the same as yours. So why am I so tight when it comes to spending? Easy answer, because I like to be in control. I will not hand over any money willynilly, every purchase is carefully thought out.

The first question I ask myself is, 'do I need it?' If yes, then where is the cheapest place I can get it. If no, how much do I want it, and do I have enough money to pay for it without skinting myself. At this point treats come into it. Nothing wrong in treating yourself now and again, but a treat to me is something I allow myself occasionally. My treats might be a small bar of chocolate, a bottle of wine, a can of cider, a bag of crisps, or  a magnum ice cream. I spread my treats out over several weeks or months. One bottle of wine a month spread over four days. One magnum when I am on a day out or holiday. One small choc bar if I really fancy it, but my self discipline always kick in when I am in a shop and I will not pick one up as an afterthought to add to my other purchases.

So, basically, I save money in some areas to channel that cash into other areas which are important to me. I like a nice car so I save up for one. I have pets so I need money for that. These might seem like fixed costs that I can't cut down on, but as I said, all aspects of living expenses can be tweaked and pruned. I could buy a cheaper car which costs less to run, but I can afford the one I have. I could have just one cat. I am at my maximum of pets cost wise at the moment, and would not take on any more. I have a budget for them and I am at my limit. Utilities are flexible costs, I can choose when to flick switches, when to turn things on and off. I can monitor usage through my meter readings.

So let's have a look at the money saving list. I will pick out a few to review.

Before I wash my clothes I inspect them to see if they are dirty or smell. Yes, I still do that. It's a waste of water, electricity, and soap powder to wash clean clothes. Will they last one more wearing before they need a wash. I wash everything on a 30 degree, 30 minute wash, using two dessertspoons of powder for each load, and dry everything outside. If the weather prevents me from drying outside, I have enough clothes to delay a wash until a good drying day comes along, windy or sunny.

Cut down on tea and coffee, heat a mug of  water in the microwave and add a dash of fruit juice. Yes, I still do that. I very rarely use my electric kettle because it needs two mugs of water to cover the element. I know you can put some in a flask for later, but I only have one hot drink in the morning, the rest of the time I have cold drinks, and they are very watered down juice drinks.

Check bank statements and credit card statements for any direct debits that are not needed any more. I keep my direct debits to an absolute minimum, preferring to pay bills by cheque into the bank My mobile phone is topped up at the local shop, £10 every two months. I have an annual DD for my Youth Hostel membership, and car recovery service. £4 goes to googlie for posting unlimited photo's on my blog, and a monthly DD goes out for house insurance, and landline/broadband. That's all, makes it easy for me to monitor.

Buy children's tooth brushes, they are cheaper than adult brushes. Yes, I still do that. A three minute scrub with a small brush gives the same results as a bigger one. My dentist always asks if I use an electric brush, my answer is no. Why do I want to spend money on a gadget that will need charging up, and new brushes to purchase every so often, when I can do the same thing using wrist power. And while on the subject of teeth, I only use toothpaste in the morning. I like to start the day with a fresh clean mouth. All other times I brush with water only. It's the time spent brushing that counts, and using the correct technique, plus flossing, which gets rid of the food trapped between them. I must be doing it right because I've had five years of all clear check ups.

Use wash cloths instead of paper towels. Yes, I cut up old cotton sheets, old towels, and use them as dishcloths. When they are past their useful life in the kitchen they get relegated to floor cloths, shoe polishing cloths, window cleaning cloths, and dusters, when I can be bothered to dust. I have a couple in the bathroom for wiping bath, basin, and toilet down. And the very old cloths get used as cat litter box wipes after I have scrubbed them out and they need to be dry before refilling with fresh litter. When I throw cleaning cloths away they are manky. Just a note to add to this. I do have a paper towel roll, I use it for a dribbly nose. It lasts longer than a conventional box of tissues because it doesn't fall apart so quickly, and my nose is constantly cold and wet, even though I never catch a cold. A bit like a dogs, ha ha. I never ever buy J cloths, wet wipes, dish cloths, floor cloths, or boxes of tissues.

I still wear boys and men's underpants as opposed to ladies knickers. I haven't had to buy any for years, they last ages, never fall apart, and never stretch and go baggy. They are a snug fit, no uncomfortable floss up the bum or cheeks hanging out. Anyone with a small bottom would save loads of money by making the switch. They come in all colours.

Tidy your food cupboard and have a stock check. Yes I still do that. I know exactly what tins, packets and frozen I have, no festering unmentionables lurking at the back waiting to be chucked out. I keep my spices to a minimum, no small glass jars of goodness knows what hanging about. I don't follow recipes for cooking, because if you do, you need to check you have the ingredients first, if not then you buy it. So easy to be left with half a jar of this, half a packet of that, never to be used again. I make my meals with whatever I have in, I improvise, I use up what I already have. No recipe books in my house.

Moving on to food shopping. I don't take a list, I go with an open mind. There is no item of food that I must get, I buy whatever is a good price and I can substitute one item for another. I like expensive foods like they have at Marks and Sparks, but would never shop there unless it has a yellow sticker, and that isn't likely to happen because their big store is on the edge of town. I am not loyal to one supermarket but will cherry pick from those I am close to, or passing to and from somewhere else. I will not waste petrol running around from shop to shop. My motto is, 'pop in when passing', especially if it is between 5 and 9pm. Another motto, 'worth a look'.

Don't buy food out. I know the times when my stomach will be grumbling for food, so if I am going anywhere and I know I will need to eat, I take a snack with me. A sandwich, a drink, a piece of fruit, a few cream crackers a piece of cheese etc. If I don't eat when I am hungry I start getting wobbly, and that means eat something now. So rather than dashing in a shop, I have something in my bag. I eat before I go food shopping, because being hungry in a supermarket aisle will trigger off my desire to grab whatever is available. This has happened on occasions, and not wanting to give in to junk, I have been scouring the shelves for something suitable to eat. I might pick up a cheese and onion pasty or a banana, to satisfy my hunger. One thing I cannot bring myself to buy is ready made sandwiches, even if they have been reduced to pennies. No thanks.

I like to review my money saving and spending habits now and again, just to check I am on the right track. To check I am not slipping back into spending more than I can comfortably afford. I read other money saving sites to see if there is anything I am missing, any good ideas I should be doing. It's easy to take your eye off the ball and slip back. I don't keep a spending diary any more, by keeping my outgoings and incomings simple, all the information is stored in my head. As long as that bank balance stays in the black I am ok. It may dip a little at times when there is a big bill to pay, the next one will be car insurance, but exercising restraint for a few weeks will bring it back up again. Swings and roundabouts comes to mind.

Your priorities will probably be different to mine, but whatever you spend your money on, it has to be what you can afford without going into debt. Some sacrifices have to be made to be able to live the life you want to live. I want a nice car, I don't eat out. You eat out twice a week, go to the gym, get a coffee in a cardboard cup every day, and you make do with a cheaper car. Your choice, my choice. Don't come moaning to me that your car is clapped out and you can't afford the repairs.

Thanks very much for popping in, I hope I have given you something to think about. Time to take my best friend out. He is lying on the carpet, I'll get his lead.

Toodle pip

Monday, 5 October 2015

Wrinkled and puckered

Hiya one and all, Twas crafty Club this morning and Carol brought in our Christmas tree to show us. This is going to be entered in the Christmas Tree Festival in a church in town in December. She has made a good job of it, forgot to take my camera but it's free standing so quite tall, like a large cone, made out of a snooker table green baize cloth. We have all got to make the decorations for it now. It will be brilliant once it's finished. 
A while ago I was given a lightweight quilt. I didn't need it, I have enough bedding already, but I thought it would come in useful for something. Today I had an idea for it, why not cut it up into biggish squares and make small dog, and cat quilts with it. I divided it up into nine squares, and made up three of them today.   
The chequered fabric is two cushion covers I bought a while ago for £1 from the Age UK charity shop. The idea was to cut up the squares for quilting, but then I thought why cut it up and sew it together again, just use them for quilt covers as they are. Luckily they were just the right size so all I had to do was to sew up the open end, and run the machine over it a few times to hold the layers together. 

Then I looked in my bedroom cupboard and found a full size quilt cover which I was given nearly a year ago. It isn't anything special, having had a lot of wear, but just the job for cutting up and covering animal beds. There's enough fabric in it to make up the other six. The sewing isn't perfect, wrinkled and puckered in places, but hey, apart from the £1 for the two chequered covers the rest of the materials are all free. I haven't made removable covers, the whole lot can be put in the washing machine. These will be sold on our car boot stall and at Christmas markets, for the cats.  

The weather has been miserable today, raining and windy, I think it will be the same tomorrow. Not to worry, I have plenty to keep me occupied indoors. Sewing and more sewing, finding uses for the fabrics I already have, making something out of recycled materials is what I like doing. 
Thanks very much for popping in. Catch you soon. Toodle pip

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Trolley dolly goes to town

Hello. You've just got to laugh, haven't you. I got up to make a mug of coffee this morning and who should fill my space in the bed but Heidi. Luckily I wasn't intending to get back in, I usually sit in an arm chair with my feet under the covers, and read the newspaper. A nice easy and civilized way to start the day. When I remember the times I was up at four, out of the house in 45 minutes and at work for five. These days it's sheer bliss to do things at my own pace. So, I open the back door to let the kids out first, then coffee and paper, then see to the kids breakfast, then get my breakfast, and put the bed away. The last job had to wait a bit as I hadn't the heart to turf her out.  
The latest blood test results came through, and although the vet explained the numbers I was still a bit baffled. The good news is that the numbers were higher this time which means her body is not attacking the red blood cells as it was before. This sounds promising and the vet has suggested another blood test in six weeks time to see if her immune system is still improving. 
Remember that £1 packet of bulbs I planted in the storage boxes, they had some pink clover like flowers, and some tall pink flowers, and now I have these beautiful blooms. Aren't they fabulous. I'm going to get some more £1 packets of flower seeds and bulbs next year.

I fancied some pasta tonight, haven't had any for ages. It's wholemeal pasta, with fresh spinach leaves, two boiled eggs, one tomato, and some salad beans out of a tin. A squiggle of mayo and the perfect healthy dinner. It was fab.

I went to town yesterday to do my cherry picking from all the shops, picking up the best prices here and there. I took the shopping trolley as I knew I had a lot to buy, mostly pet food. I have ten receipts here from ten different shops. It was very busy, I think people are starting their Christmas shopping early. I shall avoid the town on a Saturday from now on, it's getting pretty chaotic. The free parking all day is bringing them out as well.

We have a big Home Bargains which has a chiller cabinet, so I had a look. I got a big bag of spinach for 99p which is a good price. I also got a pack of batteries for my head torch for 99p, big bottle of lemon wash up liquid for 50p, bleach for 39p, and Rocky's favourite chicken jerky fillets for 99p a bag, I always get five bags.

In Poundstretcher I got Ultima dry cat food £2.49, it's more expensive elsewhere apart from the £1 store, but they didn't have any. There would be hell if I went home without it, ha ha. They had an offer of a three pack of tuna fish for £1, 33p a tin is a very good price. I found an out of date packet of hot chocolate drink  mix reduced to 29p, worth a try I thought.

B & M had Nescafe 200grm for £2.59 so I got one. I have started drinking Carte Noire which is nice but more expensive, so I mix the two together to keep the cost down a bit.

A look in Wilko and I found heidi's favourite wet food, she likes the mini pouches of Sheba. Normal price is £1.99, but if you look around you can get it for £1.50. I stocked up. They were also having a sale in the gardening department and I was checking out the reductions. A woman picked up two packs of Roundup weed killer and said what a bargain it was at £2 a pack, normally about £7, and how good it is for killing the weeds. I have a lot of weeds on my driveway between the concrete, so I took her advice and picked up two packs myself. I get sick of getting down on my hands and knees to scrape them out.

Phew, it's a time consuming job to get the best buys, but it has to be done. Wouldn't it be nice to go into any shop and buy whatever you like. Ah well, it aint going to happen to me, so I just knuckle down and get on with it.

I had an hour in the garden this afternoon hedge trimming, the brown bin is now full of garden waste and ready for collection tomorrow. Rocky waiting to go out now, so I'll sign off. Thanks for popping in.
Toodle pip.