Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Tweaking My Diet

I'm always looking for ways to tweak my diet, to include more natural and healthy foods, and dumping the 'bad for you', foods. Although there are a million sites on the net, with everything you need to know, I still like having a book in front of me to browse through when I have a spare minute. I picked up a couple from the mobile library the other day.

Patrick Holford is one of the worlds leading nutrition experts, so it says on the back cover of 'The Holford 9-day Liver Detox', I have read his books before and found them easy to understand, no blinding you with science. I am quite tempted to try this 9 day plan, and looking through the lists of what to eat and what not to eat, I don't think I will find it too difficult because I already eat a lot of seeds, nuts, fruit and vegetables. The only problems I might encounter are giving up my morning coffee and branflakes, but it does say you could possibly do it if you limit your coffee to one cup per day, so maybe I could just have a smaller cup.

His other book I have chosen is called 'Food is Better Medicine Than Drugs'. I am not into herbal medicine, and I rarely take any kind of medicine, I believe you are a product of what you eat, and everything that goes into your mouth is going to have an effect on how your body works, or doesn't work.

I am going to study these two books over the next six weeks, and hopefully get a few ideas on how I can improve my diet. Of course this will have to be done within the confines of my budget. People say you can't eat healthily on little money. I am going to have to search in many more places to find my food, because I think it is an excuse to say 'I can't afford to eat healthy food.'

I may not be able to start the detox immediately, because I have to eat the food I already have, is that an excuse? No not really, I can't be wastefull and throw food away. But I can start by tweaking, and gradually phasing out the stuff I shouldn't be eating, and phasing in the good food. As I am getting older, I am becoming more aware of how little time there is left, I would like another twenty years. Before my operation last year my consultant said I would have another forty years after it was done. I think that by being more positive and being carefull about what I eat, I might just achieve that.
If you want to look at Patrick Holford's web site it's here

Monday, 30 March 2009

Diesel In My Veins

I watched a programme about lorry drivers in the Scottish Highlands, today, and it made me a little bit sad. There were two drivers taking their Class 1 HGV test, the anticipation as they were waiting for the examiner, and the elation when both of them proudly waved their pass certificates. Memories came flooding back to when I gained my Class 1, I remember the day well, I was so proud of myself.

Driving a lorry was my life for 32 years, I was so lucky to be doing the job I loved. It wasn't just a job, it was the excitement of always going somewhere, always on the road, the freedom of not being tied to one place, and seeing lots of different places and people. It was a job that suited my personality, I have always been a bit of a loner, so to go off on a long journey was pure bliss.

Why am I a little bit sad? Because I don't do it any more, and I miss it. I don't want to drive 60 hours a week like I did before, it would be nice to just do the odd trip now and then, more as a hobby. No one understands the draw of the open road, apart from the people who are continually pounding up and down them. You never get it out of your system, I definately have got 'Diesel In My Veins'
Daily spend - £5 Tesco late shop reduced prices.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Refurbished greenhouse.

What a super day today, at last the wind and rain has gone and we have sun, a perfect day to get out into the garden and re cover my greenhouse. I made it two years ago, the base is four pallets which I covered in green sheeting, and the frame is free wood I got from work. It has a sloping roof so the water runs off it. First I had to strip off the old plastic by removing all the battens, I bought the plastic sheeting from a car boor sale, a massive roll for £3.50, it has lasted well. Then I covered the sides with shrink wrap, the sort they use in warehouses to wrap palletised goods. I wrapped it round and round loads of times, then I put the roof on, a double sheet from the roll, and battened it down. Next I put more shrink wrap on to overlap the roof to stop it from flapping, the whole thing is nice and tightly wrapped. Then I cut a hole where the door is, and fastened the excess to the posts. I have got paving slabs on the floor, and there is a bench, it's too low to work on but handy for storing stuff underneath it. My greenhouse really is green, it cost almost nothing. Next I re covered some shelters I built along the side of the garage. These are smaller framed structures some with shelves, which I use for seed trays and baby plants untill they are big enough to be planted out, then I use them for tomato plants because it's a sunny spot.

Looks like it's all systems go in the garden now, I've started sowing seeds, but I'm going to stagger my planting so that I don't get everything coming up at the same time. My spuds are chitting nicely, they are nearly ready to go in. Ooooh isn't it exciting, I love gardening!
Daily spend - nothing

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Crafting in my sleep

My first idea for the vinyl off cuts came to me last night, just as I was dropping off to sleep, must have been the cider. Something simple to start with. I drifted off into oblivion with thoughts of searching through my drawers for a couple of redundant keyrings, I must have one or two somewhere!

Here is the result of a couple of hours of playing,
well it's not like work is it?

Cut out five letters in pink, five circles in purple, and a strip of ten bigger circles in red with a bridge between five and six to accommodate the keyring. Sew letters onto circles with red thread, fold red strip in half and sew together with purple thread. And there you have it, it looks pretty cool, and as I can never find anything with my name on, I am chuffed. I think I will only use it for special occasions.
Daily spend - nothing.
I nearly bought a paper today but couldn't be bothered.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Other people's rubbish.

The thing I like about making things, or crafting as people call it, is that you can have a go at anything, and if you get bored, try something else. I like projects that don't drag on for weeks as my attention span is very low, and I don't want to wait ages to see the finished article. I also like to make one off's, so if someone says, I like that, can you make me one, I am not keen because working on a production line is not my idea of fun.

I also don't like working to a set pattern as that stifles my creativity, I'd much rather make it up as I go along, and make my own pattern. To me crafting is about ideas, mixing and matching colours, trying things out to see what works, and using different materials together in the same project. I like the idea of stitching aluminium and plastic on to fabric, or joining plastics and cardboard together with crochet, or finding new materials to knit with.

I am looking at rubbish in a different light, becoming excited when I find a colourful drinks can or plastic bottle. Oh my goodness, is there no hope for me, am I destined for a life picking things up out of the gutter?

I went to the Scrapstore today, and had a long chat with Lorraine, she thinks the same way as I do, that we should be thinking of recycling more, rather than dumping everything. They recently hired a van and went to the Halifax Scrapstore and brought back lots of new materials. They managed to get literally thousands of 6inch zips in many colours, which has set my mind thinking about what could be made with them. I came away with some colourful vinyl offcuts, something else for me to play with. Stitching may be the solution, but not sure what the finished article will be yet. Now let me think..........
Daily spend - £20.01 diesel. £13.48 cat food
£1.30 cucumber seeds.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Four tin cans

I've been playing with tin cans, and made these pen holders. It's not very often I eat tinned food it took me a month to save these four. If you've got a tin opener that leaves a clean edge that's better, but mine doesn't so I squashed around the tops with a pair of pliers to tidy them up.
I used upholstery samples to cover them, but you can use any thick fabric, cut a piece that is twice the height of the can, and wide enough to wrap around the circumference, adding a quarter of an inch for the seams. Sew it into a tube inside out, I do it by hand. Turn it right side out and check that it fits the can exactly. Turn it inside out again. Cut two circles of fabric, don't forget to add enough for seams, sew one on the bottom of the tube, pin it first. Turn it right side out and check that the can fits snugly inside.

If you are going to decorate it with something soft like the two white crochet flowers, you can add those to the finished pen holder because it's easy to sew them on from the outside. But if you want to put something on that needs sewing from the inside, you need to do that before you put the can inside. It is very fiddly, you have to roll the tube down so you can get inside.

I cut seven small hexagons from aluminium drinks cans and pierced each one around the edge with a pin, and stitched them on. For the one on the right I cut three green strips from a shampoo bottle, and cut out three plastic flowers, and made the holes for sewing them on with a hot nail over the gas cooker.

To finish them off push the can inside down to the bottom, and sew on the second circle, you will have to do some of the stitching on the right side of the fabric, but it doesn't matter because this will be pushed down inside the can.

You can put any decoration on them, maybe personalising them with a name if you want to give them as a gift. They are soft on the bottom so won't scratch a desk top, and if they get dirt and fluff inside you just pull the inside out and give it a brush. Easy to make and an ideal way to use up scraps of material.
Daily spend - nothing

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

More money than sense.

This is my free bunch of flowers, no, someone didn't give them to me, no such luck, I found them. Walking through the churchyard, my beady eyes spotted some pretty carnations that had been thrown in the wire mesh waste bin. They looked alright to me so I fished them out.

As I was doing so, an elderly lady walked past and I wondered what she would think about me rifling through the rubbish. I said, 'Look at these flowers that someone has thrown away.' She said, 'Some people have more money than sense.' I smiled and thought, exactly!
Daily spend - nothing

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Eyes on the world.

I've just been watching a programme on iplayer, Beyond Boundaries: Where Are They Now, about a group of disabled people who trekked across Nicaragua three years ago. I didn't see the original programme, but I watched this sequel because I met one of the trekkers two years ago when I went on holiday to Sorrento. Amar Latif is blind and he started a travel company called Traveleyes, for blind people.

What they do is take equal numbers of sighted people along to be the eyes for those who are visually impaired. I wanted to go on holiday but didn't have anyone to go with, I thought this would be an ideal opportunity to meet up with a group. I met them all at Heathrow Airport, and was immediately struck by how organised it all was. I was initially paired up with Val, who had very limited sight during the daylight hours but virtually none in the evenings, Val was to be my room mate, she was great fun.

There was sixteen of us in total, eight sighted and eight visually impaired, and every day we partnered someone different, acting as their eyes, describing what we could see, and making sure they could walk safely on uneven surfaces. Amar and his sighted assistant Jenny were great, they had organised some fantastic tours, and couldn't have been more helpfull. This holiday certainly made me appreciate how kind and caring people can be, everyone was so friendly. I hope this doesn't sound too much like an advertisement, but I was genuinely impressed by how smoothly everything went, Amar looked after everyone, even though he can't see himself. If you want to see him in the programme it is here, Amar is the last person towards the end......
If you want to check out the holidays with Traveleyes look here.......

Monday, 23 March 2009

From wild to calm.

The wind is howling today, I went to get Ben for a walk. I love the roar of the wild wind rushing through the trees, it's quite high up here and very exposed to the elements. We often meet Karen and her two dogs along the hills, and Honey, her big afghan type dog can spot me a mile off. Sometimes she appears from nowhere, and runs towards me at 100mph, heading straight for my pocket where she knows I have a few treats. In fact I always have treats in my pockets because there are so many dogs in our village, and it's a great ice breaker to get to know people.

I went to my psychology course tonight, this is a fascinating subject which I am enjoying, it's a shame that next week is going to be the last one. Never mind, I have booked to go on the Health Psychology course starting after Easter, we will have the same teacher so that should be interesting as well. Tonight was all about learned behaviour. We watched some film clips of children that have either been brought up by animals, or had an isolated upbringing, then we discussed various aspects of this. I always come away from my college classes with quite positive thoughts, to have a better understanding of how people live their lives seems to help me reflect on my own life, and make me a calmer person. A little education is a good thing.
Daily spend - £3.42 Tesco reduced prices

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Car booting in Hampshire

Oh what a night! Amazingly Carol was up before me this morning, complaining that she couldn't sleep, hurting feet and aching legs from too much dancing. After pressie opening we went to the car boot sale at Bordon, a lovely sunny morning for mooching. There were a lot of traders which I thought would have been more at home on a sunday market, I passed them by in favour of eyeing up other people's tat.

I spotted a baby's bath under a table, how much is it, I asked. Lad looked fed up, shrugged his shoulders, I dunno, 50p? I snapped his hand off, just what I want to make a small garden pond, last week at my local car boot there was one at £5, big difference. Further on I found some very large plant pots, the lad was minding the stall for someone else. He said, they're £3 and they're 50p. I wanted the £3 ones but didn't want to pay that much, so I took a couple of the 50p ones, which would be right for the job of repotting plants.

Rooting in a box which had the label everything 10p, I found boys pants so I picked out two pairs, they were brand new I hasten to add. For those who remember my TV appearance in January, I have a particular leaning towards boys pants, they are very well made and last a lot longer than ladies knickers. Next I came across a box with a notice scrawled on the lid, 'free help yourself,' I had to look didn't I! I picked out a metal square planter which I am going to paint, and two glass tea light holders, love free stuff.

Back at Carol's we had some lunch and it was time for me to come home. With no one else around to take a photo of us together, I had a go at doing it myself. Not worked out the timer on the camera, so after about 20 attempts of me holding it at arms length, and lots of laughing, this is the outcome. It reminds me of when we used to sit in one of those photo booths in Woolies, put our money in the slot and wait for the flash, which inevitably we weren't ready for. The outcome would be half of someones face cut off, or decapitated, or looking asleep with eyes closed. Me and Carol, yes, my hair is now red!

Daily spend £5.70 car boot sale

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Carol's Party

Shopping this morning, Carol needed to get some last minute things to finish off the buffet she was preparing for her 60th birthday party tonight. While she was doing her thing in Tesco I did my usual hunt the bargain game. Not a lot to be found we were a bit too early for the reductions, however I did get a big bag of spuds, carrots, and parsnips, reduced to £1.40, that will make six meals for me next week. I also got a bottle of wine so we could start celebrating as soon as we got back.

Later, Carol spent a couple of hours in the kitchen, but I am more an outdoor person so I left her to it and did some weeding and hedge trimming for her. I had given her three small bushes that I had grown from cuttings so she showed me where to plant them. Then we took all the food to the club in readiness for tonight.

That left one more task to do, get ready for the party. Carol is a member of a social club and helps organise some of the events, all the members were invited, and as is the custom, everyone makes a contribution to the food, there was loads of it. The party was great, lots of dancing, eating, and drinking. We were planning on walking home but some kind soul offered us a lift which was a good job because we ended up with lots of presents to carry. This is Carol and her cake.

Daily spend £8.31 Tesco. £4.26 drinks

Friday, 20 March 2009

The weekend starts here.

The weekend start here, as they used to say on a Friday night at the start of Ready Steady Go, only my weekend started this morning as I got in my car and headed south to Hampshire. I filled up with fuel and did a steady plod down the M180, M18, M1, A43, A34, A 339, and B3004, keeping my speed down to 55 - 60 mph for optimum fuel consumption. It was a relaxing drive down accompanied by Tina Turner and Cher, love their music, stopping for a free shower on Donnington Services. Always take your wash gear with you when travelling on the motorways.

I sent a text to my friend Carol to say my ETA would be 4.30pm, and I was spot on. She had a great night out planned for us, tickets to see Dreamboats and Petticoats, the rock and roll musical, at Woking Theatre. It was brilliant, we were dancing in the aisles. A great way to start the weekend, not very frugal I know, but this is the very reason why I am frugal, so I can have these treats. Here's the link to the web site
Daily spend £40.88 diesel. £20 theatre

Thursday, 19 March 2009

A bit busy, back soon.

I'm going to be a bit busy for a few days, helping my friend to celebrate her 60th birthday, well you've got to haven't you, we've been mates for 50 years. I'll post again on Monday and let you know all about it, that's if I'm in any fit state, apparently it's going to be one hell of a party!

Surprise snail

It's not easy buying gifts for people when you are frugal and hate wasting money. I always go through agonies trying to justify spending more than a couple of pounds on something which the recipient will probably put into a drawer and forget about. It's not that I am mean or too tight to shell out the dosh, I would happily treat people with a gift if I knew exactly what they needed.

This is why I don't do Christmas shopping, I traipse around for hours wracking my brains trying to match the exact gift to each individual person, then give up and go home with nothing. It's wastefull to buy stuff that someone doesn't need. They smile as they open the wrapping, and carry on politely smiling, when what is really going through their mind is, what on earth has she given me this for?

I am going down to Hampshire this weekend for my best friends 60th birthday party, I spoke to her on the phone last night to ask her for any hints as to what she would like. Carol doesn't actually need anything, having chosen a much more lucrative career path than me, I know her house is lovely, and she wears the best clothes and accessories. I asked if she would like something for her garden and she replied an ornament would be nice.

I had a trip to the garden centre in mind this morning when I finished my business in town. I called in the hospice charity shop on the way back to my car to see if they had some new knitting wool in. Down at the bottom of the well stocked shop is the household and ornaments section, and then I saw it, straight ahead on the middle shelf, the perfect garden ornament. A very large painted snail, perfect, only it wasn't a proper garden ornament it was a biscuit barrel. But it's lovely, and you don't have to put biscuits in it, I am sure it will sit happily under a hedge and play with all the other snails. I hope Carol likes it.

Daily spend - £3.50 charity shop
£1 Redcurrant bush. £1 Plant feed.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Will I fit in?

I've just found out a bit more about myself, by filling in an online application form for a job with a DIY company. The first five pages are a questionnaire with tick boxes on a sliding scale, the answers reveal your Personality Profile. There are supposedly no right and wrong score directions, but I think it is fairly obvious that they would give you a wide berth if you admitted to being a lazy, miserable, untidy slob.

On reading the brief summary of my scores the first impression I got was that I would be the ideal candidate, but on looking a little closer there seems to be gentle hints that my personality could be a bit of a problem when it comes to conforming and fitting into their mould.

I scored eight on the Agreeableness scale, this means I would be perceived as genuine and sincere in my desire to help people and do my best, but I would find it difficult to deal with people who are brusque or off hand. Too right I would, manners cost nothing.

My Conscientiousness score was also eight, this indicates I am quite a methodical and neat person, and I have the capacity to be painstaking. I would pay attention to detail....correct, but pay less attention to obvious things like punctuality....also correct, what's a few minutes late now and then, I always turn up.

Then my score plummets to four, for Conformity, this made me laugh. It says I am a fairly unorthodox person who occasionally likes to be something of a non conformist. It goes on....I probably don't place the same high value on social convention as many of the people who work within the company, oh dear, maybe a square peg in a round hole! Then it says if I try to introduce some form of innovation into the working environment I could find the emphasis placed on following procedures was a little restrictive. Too right I will, I have a brain and I am capable of using it. On the plus side it says I am an original thinker, yep.

Moving on to Extroversion, I am up to a score of nine on this one. I am energetic and outgoing, and motivated by any kind of challenge, I would agree with that. But it's not going to get me anywhere in a company that stiffles individuality.

I seem to have some plus points in my Emotional Stability, it suggests I am a fairly confident and optimistic person, that's a fair assumption. I am likely to be enthusiastic, and able to make most descisions on my own without asking for help from my superiors. Saying that, my superiors are likely to be younger than me, so that scenario is a possibility. It says I could cope with most pressure, agree, I am very laid back, and have been known to doze off while someone is talking to me.

The job is for stacking shelves mainly at night when the shop is shut, I wait with baited breath to see if they take my application any further. At least I now have a better understanding of my personality, it suits me just fine.
Daily spend - nothing

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Half a pint of cider.

Oh dear, I'm feeling a bit guilty now, I've just come past our local pub in the village and all the lights were out. There is a sign outside saying, 'Elvis has left the building.' The landlord can be a bit of a joker, I wondered what he was up to when I noticed he had put a sign up a few days ago announcing a closing down sale, and everything must go! I thought it was a bit of kidology to try and get some more customers through the door.

It seems not, The Sheffield Arms really has closed, oh dear. Is it my fault, because I have not been in there for ages to pass my money over the bar? Has my frugal living resulted in the landlord and his wife and two children, and the dog, losing their home? If I see him I will tell him I am sorry, tell him that I couldn't afford to come in his pub because I have to be very carefull how I spend my money. If I treat myself to a cheap bottle of wine it lasts me three days, and if I buy four cans of cider I drink one a week for four weeks.

I suspect that many people are not going out as much as they used to, they're staying at home and buying their drinks from a supermarket, you can tell by the amount of empty cans they put out for the recycling collection. It's too late now, but perhaps if I'd had half a pint of cider once a week in the pub, maybe I could have saved it from extinction!
Daily spend - nothing

Monday, 16 March 2009

Drinks Can Bag

Cue fanfare, Ladies and Gentleman, I am proud to present my latest creation, The Drinks Can Bag. I started off by cutting eight x 8cm squares out of aluminium drinks cans, then making holes round the edges with a paper punch, making sure they are evenly spaced. Trim off the sharp corners. I found it easier to make the template out of cardboard first. Next I did a row of black crochet, double stitch, around each one, three stitches into each hole, five stitches into the corner holes. Then two rows of red crochet single stitch, and another row of black crochet single stitch. Forgot to take a photo at this stage, but similar to the juice bag. Next I stitched the two lots of four together to make two sides, and did another row of black single stitch all the way around. Then I joined the two pieces together right side out, with a row of single stitch black crochet.

I decided to make two handles out of cans, rather than one long knitted shoulder strap, this is the template I made and one of the handles.Each handle is in two pieces joined together with an edging of one row of single stitch in black. I have sandwiched a tent peg (bent end cut off) between the two pieces to strengthen them. Next I stitched the handles to the inside of the bag, and finished it off with a lining made from a skirt I got from a charity shop a long time ago. I'm very pleased with it.

Daily spend - nothing

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Found a bargain or two.

The local car boot sale was very busy this morning, perhaps the brilliant sunshine had something to do with it. I was looking for a baby bath which I want to make into a garden pond, I found one for £5 but they wouldn't go lower, so I walked away. One man had two tables full of stuff and several boxes in front, with a notice saying everything is 20p. Worth a look I thought, even better than a Pound shop.

I got a couple of handbags with chrome handles that can easily be removed, and transplanted onto my hand made bags, and a large net curtain which I will use to cover my brassicas when they start appearing. I am going to step up my battle with the cabbage white butterflies this year.

I popped in the nearby Poundstretcher store, I have noticed that a lot of discount stores now have an expanding food section, so inevitably there will be many more opportunities to find out of date stuff. I was lucky, I got three packs of 6 pack Princes Tropical Fruit drink, reduced from 99p to 49p. Five cherry coconut oat bars reduced from 39p to 20p, and the best find was five packets of Whitworths apricots for 1p each, that's right, one pence each!

Next stop was the DIY store for a bag of compost for my forthcoming seed sowing. Outside the door was a beautiful border collie, mostly white with a few brown and black splodges, with it's lead loosely round one of those concrete bollards. I felt a bit concerned that someone had left it there, probably to go inside the shop. A few weeks ago I saw a terrible story in the newspapers about an elderly man who had left his dog tied up outside a supermarket, when he came back it had gone. Two youths had taken it and killed it, heartbreaking story.

The collie was called Sasha, I looked at the tag on it's collar, no contact details though. I went into the shop, but had to come back out again because I was so worried that she might come to harm. Call me an interfering old woman if you like, but I could not walk away until I knew she was safe. I waited for nearly half an hour watching Sasha looking for it's owner, I was beginning to think she may have been abandoned. Eventually a young woman appeared, and at once Sasha acknowledged that her owner had come for her. The woman adjusted the dogs collar which I had noticed wasn't fastened properly, a clear indication that she was the owner. Was I relieved! I spoke to her about my concerns , I hope she doesn't leave the dog alone again.
Daily spend - £1 car boot sale. £4.99 compost.
£3.57 Poundstretcher.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Best foot forward

I didn't know whether to venture out this morning, with rapid changes in the weather as I sat eating my breakfast, I wondered if I should be cautious and stay in and get my latest bag finished. Then I remembered I need the excercise. I had highlighted a five mile Ranger led, free walk, starting at the Waters Edge country park and visitor centre at Barton on Humber, just below the Humber bridge, so I gave myself a good talking to, something like get off your backside and do something, you lazy good for nothing waste of space. It worked!
I met up with a crowd of people, and after signing in, Sarah, our Ranger, briefly outlined the plan, and told us there were a couple of points where we could shorten the walk if we felt it was too much. I was intrigued by a walker who was dressed in the usual garb, except for the fact that he had bare feet. Nosey me couldn't resist asking, why? He told me he was a member of the Barefoot Society, and has been doing rambles with no
boots on for years. He said he is used to it and feels no pain. Even the thought of it makes my eyes water, ouch! I had never heard of such a society, so he told me the web address, if anyone wants to get started on barefooting
here is the link
Sure enough, he did the five miles without crying once :-)

I have been thinking about the idea of showing and demonstrating my bag making, and other craft projects using recycled rubbish, and came up with the idea of setting a table up in a suitable place where people could come and chat to me about it. Waters Edge seems the ideal place, so after the walk I took some samples to show them to see their reaction. Bruce thought it was a great idea and suggested I could come when they have an organised event, then there would be more people there. We talked about the possibility of me doing some workshops, the school holidays would be a good time for this. Bruce said he would pass on my details to the recycling manager at the council because they would be interested.

I am quite excited about this because it would mean I could get to speak to people about the importance of finding different uses for the stuff we throw out. I feel very passionate about not throwing things into a big hole in the ground, we must all do our bit to help the planet.
Daily spend - £9.89 diesel

Friday, 13 March 2009

Tune in to me!

Did you hear me mother? On the radio I mean, this morning on BBC Radio Humberside. Didn't you hear me chatting to Lara King just after 9 o clock? Oh dear, missed it again. Yes, I was invited in to the studios at Grimsby again, this time to do a newspaper review.

I arrived at ten to nine, after parking my car in the street half a mile away, the building is in the city centre, and I don't pay for parking. Pam who works on the reception desk arrived at the same time, and a few minutes later a welcome cup of coffee appeared, they are so hospitable. I could see Lara through the glass preparing for her show, and I heard my name mentioned as she announced who she was going to be chatting to. Pam brought the papers through so I could browse through them.

I had taken some of my hand made bags to show them, Pam thought they were lovely and took them through to show Lara. My highlighter pen came in handy and I marked some of the news items which I thought would make interesting topics to chat about, then I was called into the studio.

Lara is great fun to talk to, she is friendly and chatty, and everything flowed perfectly. She introduced me as Meanqueen. We didn't get around to discussing many news stories because she was keen to quiz me on my money saving trips to the supermarkets. This encouraged a few people to respond by email and offer even more ideas to get your food bill down. Lara then went on to describe my bags, which tied in very nicely with a news item about two handbags, one which cost £1,500, and a similar one from a chain store for £8. I joked that I wouldn't even pay £8 because I can make my own. Another news item I spotted said that outer space was becoming a dumping ground for space ship bits floating about out there, and it is becoming dangerous. My flippant reply to this was that now we have filled up our own planet with junk, we are sending it out into space, and perhaps someone could make some handbags out of it as I had done :-)

I was there for just over an hour and my bit had finished, the next guest had arrived to do a film review. Lara came out to thank me as I was leaving, and said she would love to see me again. It was great fun, and of course I would love to go back. I realised as I was walking back to my car that I had taken my camera but completely forgotten to take any pictures, oh dear, perhaps next time.
Daily spend - £17.30 cat food from the market.
£2.39 jar of coffee.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Tale of two dogs.

I had a visitor this morning, two in fact, Henry brought his owner Helen to see me, he is a lively little fella, jumping all over the place, he was so excited. I quickly picked up the cats food dishes before the cheeky chappie got his nose into them. The poor cats scattered as this bundle of fun dashed around the house. This is Henry, a gorgeous Labrador puppy.

We decided to collect Ben from his house and take the two of them for a walk together. Ben is 12 years old, so he is a bit of a steady plodder, very easy to walk, he likes to stroll along sniffing out all the other doggy smells in the grass verges.

Henry had other ideas, he was chasing up and down trying to get Ben to play, he was having none of it. We walked down the hill, and along the lane where we took their leads off. Then we went past the fishing pond and turned right along the river bank, keeping well away from the water, as neither of us fancied diving in to pull the little scamp out.

I'm not sure Ben enjoyed it very much as he likes to do his own thing. I have noticed just lately he is a little bit deaf and his sight is not so good, he is also a bit unsteady on his back legs at times. But we have lovely walks together. I can't understand people who think dog walking is a chore, they are lovely companions and give so much love in return for a warm place to sleep, and food in their bellies. Ben is on my desktop every time I switch my computer on, he's my best friend.

Daily spend - Tesco £34.23. big shop, used voucher

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

I'm no genius

I'll have to admit it, I'm completely baffled by what's going on in the financial world, I read the papers and listen to radio four and five, and I still can't fathom out what is going on. Ok, so I know the banks have been a tad naughty and lent money to people who could not pay it back, how daft is that?

And what about people who have given their hard earned money to other people, who said they could make some more money for them, and then said they want a big bonus whether they make any money or not. Fancy trusting someone like that when they can't guarantee some extra dosh, but still want their bonus, damn cheek I call it. You wouldn't catch me falling for that one!

And what about people who bought some shares in companies thinking their thousands are going to turn into millions, sounds a bit greedy to me. Give me some thousands and I will keep it and spend some of it on having a good time. Sounds too much like gambling to me, and I don't like the odds!

And why are they giving rich people big fat bonuses for making a complete hash of running a company, surely that isn't right! I have worked my socks off over the last fortyfour years, going the extra mile, doing my best, and did I get better thought of? No.

But I do have a clear conscience, and my books balance unlike the Bank of Gordon. Throughout my life my philosophy has been simple. Anything I need, I go to work and earn some money to pay for it. It doesn't take a genious to work that out :-)
Daily spend - nothing

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Link working

The link to Ilona Loves Life is now working, sorry for the inconvenience.

Shopping challenge.

I picked up a free copy of Tesco magazine last night whilst doing my bargain blitz, and I see there are some money off coupons inside. If you use them all you could save £2.75, but of course if you don't normally buy the products your shopping bill will escalate and you will end up with things that you don't really need.
To get the best out of them you have to be fairly disciplined. Keep them in your purse and not forget to hand them in when you get to the checkout. How many times have you tidied your bulging purse only to find you have coupons a year out of date, another good reason to be tidy.

Then you have to study the products the coupons relate to, if there are brands that you don't normally get would it be worth your while to have a change for a week, if using the coupon would be cheaper than your normal brand? For instance, there is a 50p off coupon for Weetabix Weetos, would this make it cheaper than my usual Value Bran Flakes at 70p per 750grms, I doubt it very much, so I will dump that one.

There is one coupon that I would definately use, and that's for Pilgrim cheddar cheese. I like this cheese, so providing there isn't a special offer on another brand that is equally as good, I will use it. I won't compromise with cheap tasteless cheese.

Another trick is to make a note of the closing dates on the coupons, some of them are valid for several weeks. You could wait to see if your particular favourite item is going to be part of an instore promotion, a special offer, then you would get the store reduction plus the coupon discount.

Don't forget that the magazine is free, so if there is a coupon for something you always get in your shopping, pick up several copies and stockpile a few while the offer is on. All the coupons can only be used in Tesco, except for the cheese, so I could look around the other supermarkets for that one.

Are you with me on this ladies, let's become a little more savvy with our shopping and see how much money we can keep in our purses. Who's up for the challenge?
Daily spend - nothing

Monday, 9 March 2009

Free stuff.

I don't know if anyone has noticed but I have a section at the bottom of the page which lists free things I have aquired, things I have either found, or been given, or have asked for. Sometimes you can be lucky and find something that someone has thrown away, I'm always looking in skips and ask the owner first before I help myself. People might offer you something because they have no further use for it, I've had a look at freecycle but there doesn't seem to be many people in my area, and it would defeat the object if I had to travel miles to collect an item.

I am cheeky enough to ask for something if I want it, I always say, if you don't ask you don't get. They have two choices of answer, either yes or no. The other day I saw a couple of friends, they were telling me about their new allotment which is just a piece of land at the moment, they want some pallets to make a compost bin. I managed to get three pallets for them by knocking on doors and asking. When I took them to their house I said, 'They are doing some block paving just up the road, why don't you go and ask if you can have the pallets the blocks come on?' They said, 'We're not used to that, like you are,'

Last year I wanted some free compost so I went to the council run compost plant with six bags and my spade. The attendant said, 'Take your car round that corner, I'll be there in a minute.' Three men came to help, they could only give me three bags, instructions from the boss, but I thought that was better than nothing.

One day I was out walking and spotted a heavily laden apple tree in someones front garden, I knocked on the door and said if they didn't need all those apples could I have some free please. The man was very nice, he went inside and fetched me three carrier bags, and helped me fill them, boy was that a heavy load to carry home.

Free stuff is so much better than having to pay for it. I didn't look in my loft untill I had been in the house several years, what a surprise I had when I climbed up onto the chair on top of a table, and shone a torch inside. I pulled down several black bin bags full of ladies clothes, and all in my size, what a lucky find. I kept a lot of them and passed some to a charity shop. My friend emigrated just over a year ago, she very kindly gave me several bags of clothes, I probably wont have to buy any for a very long time.

I have got no qualms about people knowing I like free stuff. I am not too proud to ask for something, it all adds to the fun of life.
Daily spend - £4.04 Tesco. inc. Bag of potatoes 10p.
Bag of sliced carrots 5p. Two apple turnovers 20p.
Wholemeal loaf 12p. Lettuce 6p. Choc cookies 23p.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Playing with words

This blogging game is marvellous, isn't it, I can tap away and the whole world can read my words, that's if they ever find them! A blank canvas every day is quite exciting, it's like having your own magazine. You are a journalist, photographer, editor, and, company director if you run your business on a blog.

I have been an avid diarist for most of my life, not sure why I took this hobby up but I remember writing stories as far back as junior school. One day the teacher set us a task, write a story about a most important person. It didn't take me long to decide who I should write about. While most of my class mates wrote about famous people they had heard about in history, who had invented something or discovered a lost continent, the most important person as far as I was concerned was my mum. I used to listen to her for hours telling me what it was like growing up in Hamburg, and then later, stories of the war. The teacher commended me on my choice.

As a teenager I used to have penfriends, it was quite a popular past time amongst my friends. I remember Janet from Aberystwyth, and Jane from New Zealand, I wonder where they are now?

I carried on writing when I parked up overnight in my truck, scribbling away with pen and notepad after I had eaten my pot noodle, not great cooking facilities in a cab. My stories were published in Trucking International, Truck and Driver, Headlight, and Commercial Motor, as well hundreds of my letters also printed, I have a big scrap book. I also wrote a monthly truckers gossip page for CB magazine which had a keen following, I even received some fan mail.

So now I have moved on to blogging. There is still a lot for me to learn about this media, it's all part of keeping up with the world. Some of my friends just don't understand my enthusiasm, but there again, I don't understand their enthusiasm for watching tele or going down the pub.

I've gone all around the houses here, so I'll just come to the point, I have found this site with loads of usefull info about blogging, I'm going to study it so I can become more proficient. I'm not a clever person with a vast knowledge of big words, or a degree, but I do enjoy stringing words together, whether it makes sense or not is another matter! Don't tell me I should write a book, I did make a start and have completed 28,000 words, but I find I lack focus if I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel, so short pieces work best for me.
I have also found this usefull book.
The Rough Guide to Blogging by Jonathan Yang.
Happy blogging. Ilona
Daily spend - nothing

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Crafting heaven.

A bit chilly outside so it's a good day to get on with some crafting. I have started another bag, but instead of using drinks cartons I'm using aluminium cans this time, and rather than making it multi coloured, I'm sticking to black, red, and silver. It should be interesting, I'll post some pics when it is finished.
I mentioned before about my living room being more like a workshop, I've taken some pics so you know what I mean. Although I am generally tidy this might look a bit messy, but I know where everything is. I also might add that there is more than what is shown here. Some clothes awaiting dissection on the back of a chair, two of those under the bed plastic boxes full of clean cat food pouches, cat food bags, all manner of trimmings, like a bit box, and cardboard boxes stacked up in the corner. Sounds awfull doesn't it, but I love it, I'm like a kid playing with my toys :-)

Plastic bags in various stages of cutting up, books, varnish, pens pencils, hand made cards, cellotape, hole puncher, scissors, beads. This table is in front of the window so good natural light here.

Rolls of yarn, glue, stanley knife, pliers, scissors, bead making, rug pegger, crochet hooks, pins and needles, nail varnish, knitting in progress, coloured scrap paper, and of course the radio. This table has a large spotlight with a long arm, clamped to the edge to give good directional light,

This is a large white board laid between the writing desk and the treadle sewing machine, full of cut up old greetings cards, and magazine pictures, ready to go onto new greetings cards.

The sideboard in the corner. Reels of coloured florists ribbon, balls of wool, gold and silver wrapping paper, crepe paper, silver sticky back plastic, assorted florists decorative ribbon, old brochures used in card making.
Daily spend - nothing

Friday, 6 March 2009

A walk tinged with sadness.

What a lovely morning, the sun was streaming in through the window as I ate my breakfast, it's Friday, that means Tesco free bus day. As I got off outside Tesco I told the driver not to wait for me, as I was going to walk back. He looked shocked and said, 'What all that way?' I said, 'Yep, keeps me fit.'

It takes forty minutes to get out of the built up area and out into the countryside. I followed the tracks across the fields, and past the chicken farm. As I was skirting round the edge of Flixborough village, along a track, admiring all the rubbish that had been cast out of car and truck windows, I spotted a sad sight. I looked closer, amongst the grass and bushes laid the small furry body of what was once someone's pet cat, a pretty tortie with a sparkly green collar. Poor little love, I wonder what happened to it, someone will be missing it. I was thinking about it as I was walking along.

Further on, as I was passing the bottom of the woods, I met my friend George going in the opposite direction, we stopped to chat. He came to my house yesterday to interview me because he is writing an article for the Parish newsletter about my unusual lifestyle. He said he is going to do three pages about me, I think he will need three whole issues to get it all in :-)

The wild garlic is starting to grow now in the woods, I love that smell, can't resist plucking a few leaves to rub between my fingers and take in the aroma, wonderful. There used to be deer in the woods but I haven't seen any for ages. There's plenty of rubbish though. It's terrible the way people spoil the beautiful countryside. If everyone in the whole country joined in a massive litter pick, there wouldn't be enough landfill space to put it, perhaps that's why they leave it lying around. We have a beautiful country here, it's a shame to see it in such a mess.

When I got home I rang the cattery in Flixborough and told them about the cat and where it was. The woman said she would ask around and see if anyone had lost one.
Daily spend - nothing

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Party time.

I'm getting excited about my birthday already, and it's still ten weeks away. I am trying not to wish my life away, but I'm going to have a whole lot of fun. The room is booked for the party, the disco is booked, and my friend is going to help me prepare the buffet.

I was a teenager in the sixties, and I say we had the best music ever, so the DJ has had strict instructions to play mainly sixties with a little bit of late fifties. I love rock and roll, the mersey sounds, the mods and rockers, and flower power. These songs stand the test of time, not like the music today's teenagers listen to, here today and gone tomorrow. Oh dear, I sound like my grandmother. Our pop music had words you could sing along to, and music with a melody that was embedded in your brain forever. I went to a sixties outdoor concert a couple of years ago, some of the original groups were playing. I got my place right at the front and sang along with all the songs, the words are all still in there.

I've started to give out my invitations, I managed to get some lovely cards from Woolies just before they closed, 20 cards for 10p, amazing luck that I found them. I love surprising people with an invite. Inside I have put a little note saying that as I have a simple life and have everything I need, and material posessions are not important, could I ask that they don't bring me a gift, but if they would like to bring a small donation in an envelope I will send it to an animal charity. I think that's better than people giving me something I don't really need which will end up in a drawer. I know they mean well, but I think the charity idea is better than asking for a bag of potatoes or a box of cereal, now that would be really usefull !
Daily spend - £16.50 cat food. £1.80 charity shop.
£4.49 Sainsbury's

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Consuming is not compulsory.

You have to have a heck of a lot of self discipline to lead a simple, frugal lifestyle, there is so much temptation out there. Advertisements are thrust at you from all directions, buy this, special offer that, do you want one of these, it's mind boggling, you can easily get carried away and give in to temptation.

For instance, I have just received six money off vouchers from Tescoclub card, they all have dates to be used by, the first one is £6 off a £40 spend, the rest are £4 off. Some people would happily use them all without checking whether they actually need to spend that much on one visit.

The finish date on the £6 voucher is 15th of March, my food cupboard level is about half of what I would like it to be and there are a few things I have run out of. In ten days time it will be pretty low if I use what is left, therefore it would be a good idea to get a big shop then, and use the voucher. The rest are to be used weekly for the next five weeks, wrong, I will not be using them because there is no way I spend £40 a week on shopping at Tesco, so they will be shredded.

On my shopping trips to town before I became Meanqueen, I would wander around, in and out of the shops, looking to see if there was anything I fancied buying. Oh, they're nice, I'll have one of those, and go to the checkout. I didn't think about whether I wanted it or needed it, I just bought it. I have learnt the difference. Now I only go into shops if I am looking for something specifically, I check the prices in several shops, and before I open my purse I ask myself the same question, 'Do you need it?'

Don't think you will always get a bargain when you go into a Pound Shop. I found some packets of dog biscuits on the pet stall in the market for 50p, the same item was in the Pound Shop for, you've guessed it, £1, and they have the cheek to have a big banner up saying ONLY £1

Discipline means being able to walk away, to make a choice that you will not be sold anything you don't need. The shops will not be able to pull the wool over your eyes because you are wise to their tricks. It means you ignore all the signs that scream at you from their windows and display stands, you are the consumer and you don't have to consume. After a time it becomes easier, you begin to feel the pressure lifting, you start to feel pleased with yourself because you have walked out of a shop without buying anything, because they didn't have exactly what you were looking for at the price you want to pay. You keep your money untill you do find what you really need. You have won.
Daily spend - nothing.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

The learning curve.

My college classes are turning out to be very interesting, as well as giving me a night out, I think I am actually learning something. Rita is the tutor for Psychology on a Monday night, and Em for Social Sciences on a Tuesday. The students are mostly women, with a few token men thrown in for good measure. Everyone is very friendly and there's a great deal of light hearted banter going on. In fact it's more like having a structured and interesting chat with like minded people, better than going down the pub with your mates.

I didn't like school very much when I was younger, that's probably because I never really excelled in anything. I liked the practical subjects like needlework, cookery and art, but didn't like sports because I was always worried I might hurt myself thrashing around on a hockey field or jumping over a hurdle. I had a mental block where maths was concerned, and I couldn't for the life of me understand the point of history.

But now it's different, things are dropping into place, things are making more sense. I don't think you ever lose the capacity to learn, for most it comes early in life, but for others it can re emerge later on. And to combine a learning actvity with a social activity is a bonus. I suggested we all take a pint of beer with us next week, but I don't think that will go down very well with the college staff.
Daily spend - Tesco £2.66 reduced prices.
Sprouts 22p. Potatoes 25p. Bag salad 25p Finger rolls 6p.

Monday, 2 March 2009

D I Y haircut !

Why does hair grow so quickly? It doesn't seem that long since I had a cheap trim at the college, and already it is spilling over into my eyes. Long hair doesn't suit me, I begin to look like an afghan hound.

Nothing for it but to tackle it myself. I put the mirror on the window ledge outside the back door, and armed with brush and scissors set about cutting the curtains that used to be my fringe. I ran the fingers of my left hand through my hair, lift, and chop the ends off. I did this all over the top of my head and some of the hair on the sides, the bits that I could see.

Then I put the mirror on the floor, bent over and brushed all the hair downwards. I did the same again, holding chunks with my left hand and trimming. I don't think it looks too bad, but there again, I can't see the back of it! Never mind, it will last a few more weeks
untill I want to pay for a proper trim.

Daily spend £7.54 Tesco, inc reduced prices.
Parsnips 11p. 4 Granary rolls 6p. 5pk donuts 6p.
6 Hotxbuns 10p. Broccolli 7p.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Saddle sore.

It's amazing how a few hours of sun can raise the spirits. This morning I wondered whether to sow a few seeds, but then I thought it would be best to wait a few more weeks. I started too early last year and lost some plants. I got on with repotting some plants that had outgrown their pots, the cuttings I took from my bushes last year are looking quite healthy now.

After lunch I got my bike out, nothing like a bit of pedalling to keep the old lungs in working order, a bit of puffing and panting never hurt anybody. I set off towards Alkborough about three miles away. The village is high up on the hillside, overlooking the spot where three rivers meet, the Humber, Ouse, and Trent. I stopped at the maize to admire the extensive view across to Yorkshire, this is a maize cut into the turf, not one you can walk round as I thought when I first came here twelve years ago.

In September 2006 a breach was cut into the flood defence bank creating a flood storage area, allowing flooding during extreme weather such as tidal surges. This reduces the impact of flooding houses further along the river banks. Now the area is a haven for all kinds of birds and wildlife. If you want to find out more take a look at this site. http://www.wildlifeextra.com/go/uk/alkborough-flats.html#cr

The narrow road down to the Flats is very steep I wondered if I should risk going down there in case I couldn't get back up again, I thought it was a chance worth taking. They have made two pedestrian/cycle paths around the perimeter, I rode along the first one as far as I could which stopped at the breach, and came back. Then I cycled along the second path, and saw a beautiful white barn owl hovering and swooping down to catch his prey. At the end I had to turn back because it went into a footpath across a field, although my bike could have made it I am no expert at rough riding.

Now to tackle the hill back up again. It was too steep to cycle down so there was no way I could pedal back up. I got into a nice steady plod, concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other while taking deep breaths and hanging onto the bike. It was a relief when I got to the top, I sat down for a few minutes to recover.

My backside was beginning to feel a bit sore on the way home I was tempted to get off and walk but carried on, getting light relief by standing on the pedals while I free wheeled. I'm not as fit as I thought I was, I need to start cycling more regularly.
Daily spend - nothing