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Monday, 28 November 2011

Lets have a cosy chat

Hi, I seem to be getting a little bit behind with replying to your comments, so why don't we sit down with a cuppa, and have a little natter, and I'll fill in some of the gaps. I'll be working backwards through the posts, so if you've asked me something hopefully all will be clear quite soon.

Dartford Warbler asked if the last photo on the Brigg walk was the Angel Hotel. Yes it was DW, here is a bit from the Brigg Market Town Website.

Brigg Town Council is justifiably proud of the Angel Suite, which was officially opened in 1995, following the final phase of renovations to the old Angel Hotel.
The Town Council Office is located in the basement of the Angel Suite, but the main function of the building is to provide Brigg with a Community Centre which lends itself to any type of function. The building is also regularly used by a number of local organisations.

Welcome to the new Annonymous contributor, who used to live in North Lincolnshire, and who now lives down south, good to hear from you. I can imagine how difficult it must be to lead a green and frugal life in a part of the country where everything is expensive. Up here in the sticks is recognised as one of the cheapest places in the UK to live. Try not to get too disheartened, you are lucky to be near your family.

Hi lizzie, no I have not tried making my own yogurt. I sometimes buy the plain which is cheaper, then add my own fruit. Fast forward 20 mins and I have just been reading a web site called http://www.makeyourownyogurt,com/ and watched three videos, and now I feel ready to have a go. So maybe a project for next week. Thanks to you, and PP, and Sarina, for suggesting this.

Hi PP, you ask how much I spend on food each month. I am in the process of monitoring it. There is a seperate page for this which you can access from the link at the top of this page. Total for the first month was £55, I am monitoring it over a six month period, some months will be up some will be down, I am looking for an average figure over the six months. I grow vegetables in the summer only. I want to keep it as an enjoyable hobby, not as a chore which I have to do, so I take the winters off. I don't want to keep chickens, the two main reasons reasons being, there is a big initial outlay of time and money to build a fox proof henhouse and run. And I don't want all the responsibility that goes with looking after them. Letting them out each morning, getting them back in at night, dealing with red mite, prolapse, and any other chickeny ailments. I dont want the commitment. No thank you very much.

Anonymous has commented with some price comparisons, thank you for your input. Your Lidl bran flakes are a good buy at 69p. Mine are 77p for a 750grm box of Value at Tesco. As you say, just as good as the branded one, and half the price. I must admit I tend to do the bulk of my shop at Tesco, but will call in any other supermarket when passing. I have tried the Value yogurt and it was horrible so the next step is to try Sains basics, that's if I don't start making it myself.

There has been some comments on re heating food. I don't always re heat the whole pan. If I am taking some out to eat I microwave just that portion. If I am adding something to the pan and it needs cooking first, I steam it seperately then add it, and warm the whole lot up on a low heat. Or if I add a tin of something I chuck it straight in the pan and reheat the whole lot. It seems to work ok for me, but I wouldn't advise anyone to do the same if they have meat in their stew. Oh, and I ought to mention that you won't be struggling to erm, 'go', if you do as I do, ha ha.

Anonymous in Australia asks if I will be doing any bag tutorials. I am not sure if the Anonymous readers are all the same person, perhaps if you could add your preferred name to the end of your comment I could reply to you personally. I think I have done a couple of tutorials, I am never sure if people actually want to copy the bags, or just read about them to give them some ideas, either way is ok. I must start sewing again, and adding some tutorials.

I think that's covered most things. It's been a tad cold here today, but I still haven't any heating on. I'm sitting here with a fleece dressing gown on over my clothes, as long as I keep moving about that will keep me warm. I did an hour of litter picking this morning, my goodness that was cold round the old lug holes. I need to get my wooly hat out.

It's mobile library day today so I changed my books. Got six more to add to the five I already have out, we can have a total of twenty. I like to have a selection lying around the place so I can dip into them at any time.

I've picked up a massive book with just under six hundred pages, The Good Book, A Secular Bible. Inside the front cover it says, 'The Good Book is a book of insight, inspiration, wisdom, solace and commentary on the human condition drawn from the great humanist traditions of thought and literature of the world. It's principal concern is how life - the good life - should be lived. Stimulating, thoughtful, rational and rewarding, it makes essential reading'. It says it is made by philosopher A.C. Grayling, not sure if that is the same as 'written by'. I reckon this will send me off to sleep a treat :o)

A couple of bargains I got yesterday. This is the sort of shopping I like. Cheers me up no end when I find cheapo's like this.

And this makes me fed up. Now beans are 31p, they were 26p four weeks ago.

My lunch for today. Plate piled high with iceberg lettuce, half a tub of potato salad, grated cheese, spinach, with a blue cheese dressing. Fabulous.

I'm off now to brew up another three day stew to take with me to Derbyshire tomorrow. I'll take the net book because they have internet at the hostel, so I'll be keeping my beady eyes on you. Toodle pip.


  1. Ooh, we'd better all behave ourselves then!

    I make my own yoghourt and love it. Also make my own bread with my breadmaker as husband eats a lot of it so it's worth it. I think as a vegetarian, chicken keeping is not worth it because of the reasons you have cited plus the question of what you do with them if they die?

    No, I have not had my heating on yet, although I have just put the gas fire on at 5.30 and when it has warmed the 'coals' up I will turn it down to No 1. I am only putting hot water on for one hour per day and really want to see how much difference in consumption it has over last year. I can't let house get tooooo cold as husband is on some sort of heart tablets which render his legs and feet like blocks of ice, doesn't matter how many socks you put on, it comes from within, so when it gets icy I will have to succumb.

    Don't forget the trail to Waterhouses with Thor's cave if you get the chance, or Dovedale.

  2. Im anonymous of the Rose water and witchhazel that mum used and I come from the midlands.
    Annie. Really enjoy your blogs

  3. Hi Ilona. Lidl are selling 4 packs of Branston baked beans for £1 a pack at the moment. They're just as good as Heinz beans. Not sure how long the offer is on for, though. Think their mushy peas are cheaper than your Tesco ones, too. Their tinned kidney beans are 16p a tin, and nicer than Tesco Value ones. Lidl jams are much better quality and cheaper than any others I have ever tried. Agree, food prices are rising fast at the moment. Hope this helps. (Ps I don't work for Lidl!).

  4. Hello from NYC, Ilona. Your link for yogurt has a comma, where a dot should be. Found you a month ago. You have been quite inspiring. I am a 49 year old married lady (27 years this January), who found the frugal life only recently. Alas, I was quite downhearted when first realized how much was wasted, but your blog helped me (and Frugal Queen's) not dwell on past mistakes. So I trod on and what I wish to say to anyone reading who feels discouraged: you reap immediately the benefits of being thrifty!! I use the cash system (funds in bank solely for bills). Was overwhelmed at first - baby steps. Hubs was so impressed within the first month's end he stopped indiscriminate spending cold turkey.

    It's never too late. Never, ever, ever.

    Thanks Ilona. You really helped me a great deal just take that first step.


  5. Hartington is a lovely little village and there are some fab walks from there! I used to visit regularly with my Gran and she worked there for a number of years so I have lots of memories there and love going back!

    Hope you have a great time in Derbyshire... I'd love to join you for a walk but I'm a long way off retiring so can't, hehe!

  6. About keeping chickens--all problems you mentioned are not problems I have had. A raccoon got one of my hens, so for the last year, they come into my house in a small cage, and I do have to let them out in the morning. That is a royal pain! That should be rectified this week so I can have surgery. They have a 10x10 foot yard--3mx3m? So, I will be able to just feed them and not have to let them out of anywhere. If I find a prolapsed hen, I will just die on the spot. Actually, I feed nothing to my hens in the way of antibiotics or hormones. Mites? Hens dust themselves. Since you deal with dogs and cats, you might be interested in knowing I am not willing to deal with either. AND, hens don't require the level of care other pets do. I am not trying to convince you...just a bit of information. We all have our limits and preferences.

    Everything I read on the internet about keeping chicks and chickens made me lose sleep and have nightmares when I first got them. It is a scary place (internet).

    Look up diatomaceous earth or DE. It is good for the mites, worms, and bowels of fowl, dogs, cats, and humans. It is the only thing that costs me. It's a good read, anyway. Don't believe the sites that tell you it will make your cheeks rosy, energize you...okay, maybe it

    Your cost of food if I made the right calculations $85=55 pounds, is about in line with what one conservative, frugal, careful person should spend, IMO. I was not checking up on you, just curious. I spend about $85, more or less, each month on food, usually less. I do have to scrimp and use food banks to achieve this level of spending and have fresh fruit, greens, and other vegetables! YAY for sales in US and UK.

  7. Keeping your beady eyes on us ,so we'd better behave??? Ilona, I thought you knew us all better than that!!
    Jane x

  8. Thank you Eileen, I have changed the mistake. I am so pleased you are embracing the frugal life, it is so much more rewarding knowing you are in complete control, and are not being controlled by consumerism. I haven't always been frugal, but I haven't been in debt either. Never having much money when I was young taught me from an early age to manage on what you have. Now at the age of 62 I am able to fine tune my finances, prioritising what is important to me. Saving a bit here and there so I have money to spend on what I want to spend it on, which is my car, holidays, and internet.

    You will find it gets easier, and yes you do reap the benefits of knowing that it is possible and you can do it. It is the first steps to freedom.

  9. Thank you Ilona. I thought The Angel looked very smart in your photo . Good to know it is being well used by the council and the community. It looks as though it is on a pedestrian precinct too? An improvement as I remember Brigg`s roads were so narrow to drive down.You could drive up to the front of the Angel years ago.

  10. With all due respect to PP obtaining food from food banks or pantries is not something that most people do here in the u.s. unless they are completely without any kind of funds due to lay-offs at work and complete depletion of savings and getting food this way will certainly not give an accurate picture of how much it costs to eat. $85 per month on food is below the government nutritional guidelines. This works out at about 13 pounds a week. I guess it could be done but everything must have the maximum food value with no room for error.
    With the amount of walking you do you I would economize on other things before food. It is great when you get marked down bargains but relying on them all the time may push you into buying lesser quality food which can take its toll of your health over time. Just some thoughts..........

    I add half a cup of powdered milk to my yoghurt - it makes a consistently thick and creamy Nothing worse than value yogs. unhealthy and disgusting (read the list of ingredients, mostly sugar along with all the other junk that the government says is fine to put into our bodies)

    I am not really prepared to cut my food budget that much and as I dont take any vitamins or supplements

  11. Ilona, what are you most used frugal grocery staples that I can stock up on to whip up quick meals? I am trying to shop more frugally from this week forward. I really want to save and would love your insight. So far on my list is cabbage, irish potatoes and pasta. Lol, am still adding stuff but I want it to be healthy too and able to have a relatively good shelf life.

    Thanks in advance.

  12. Hi Ilona, I'm the anonymous from Australia. I asked about the bag tutorials but as I've been reading through all your old posts I came across two tutorials. Thanks for putting them out there.
    I'm loving your outlook on life and just love your photos. If I could ever manage to take photos like that I'd have them framed all round my house!

  13. Anonymous from Australia again. Forgot to put my name in. Dianne

  14. hi Ilona, have you got an aldi store near you there baked beans keep going down in price, they are 25p a tin now,but don't know if they will carry on going down or start creeping up. but we think they are lovely .

  15. Lizzie, I respect your opinion, but disagree with who goes to food banks in the US. Of course, you are right,that is not a complete picture of what an individual spends. But, if a person gets $10 worth of good nutritious food out of a bag of mostly sugar and carbs, then that $10 could be added to the amount of food spent to correctly report food consumed.

  16. PP - Please share your experiences of people who use food banks.
    I would be interest to have your perspective.

  17. Hi Ilona, glad you enjoyed your break. Top tip for cheap potato salad I have just made: use tinned new potatoes (20p in Lidl). Chop and add mayo and chopped onion/spring onion if liked. It's really lovely, and works out way cheaper than the shop-bought stuff, but can be made in seconds.


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