Wednesday, 29 February 2012

My new windows and doors

My new windows and doors are installed and I am thrilled, it all looks so wonderful. I am broke now of course, but it is completely worth the scrimping and saving that I will be doing for the next few months.

Lovely new front door

The back of the house.

View from the back bedroom window which I have never seen 'til now

And another

Patio doors from the inside

Front door from the inside

Patio doors open

And from the outside.

What more can I say, I love them and I am very happy. And finally safe from buglers (not that it is a particularly risky location!)

Monday, 27 February 2012

I have a confession to make........

Hello all,
Yes, I do actually have a confession. After all my good work this month spending almost nothing, I blew a massive hole in the budget this weekend.
The justification is, however, that it is money well spent in the long run towards my bid for low cost living. I thought, as now the weather is beginning to improve and have glimmers of spring (ah, come on, I know you have to look hard) that I had to turn my attention to the garden. I have been busy the last month or so making a long term plan of the garden and how to make it as productive as possible.
Anyway, this is what I bought (at least I shopped about and got good prices)

A Bramley apple tree.  Definitely a long term purchase. It is about as tall as me (I come in at a measly 5 foot 7) and I look forward to eventually having all those free apples. I have to buy another at some point soon so that one will pollinate the other so I will keep my eyes open for a good eating apple variety.

A rhubarb plant. You've got to love Rhubarb and I sure do. When I'm not making apple crumble I will be making rhubarb crumble.

A lavender and a rosemary - just because.

Seed packets - peas, salad, tomatoes, spring onion, onion sets, potatoes, pepper, radish

180 litres of compost.

Wood to build raised bed number 1.

So, although that little lot cost me over £40, effectively blowing nearly half of march's budget, I will find the money somewhere and reap the rewards this year and over the years to come.

On another note, my builder comes tomorrow to put in the new front door and patio door and returns on Wednesday to do two windows.

So this week is spend spend spend, which will be followed by a period of work work work and broke broke broke.

Still, I am smiling and happy and can't wait to get stuck into the garden.

Photos will follow later in the week as I get stuck into things out there. I am having regular problems posting photos on blogger (it seems as one problem dries up another one starts up) so it is a bit hit and miss. Anyone else had trouble with the photos corrupting?

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

£100 challenge update

Just a quick update on my challenge to spend only £100 this month. Honestly, it was a doddle. I have spent approximately £90 and with little more than a week to go, I only need some milk to keep my going and maybe one or two little extras here and there.
So feeding myself for £100 a month is very simple, in fact, I know it could be easily done for quite a bit less than that, with more organisation on my part. That shouldn't really be a surprise as I know that there are people on here feeding more than one person on that amount. The hard part is the other little things you buy in a month that you don't take so much account of. Charity shop finds, the odd house essential that you never accounted for. There are definitely some things that I need to buy but can't until next month so next time around, I will try and budget better.
Another thing that I will do next month is to pay using cash. I will take the full £100 out at the beginning of the month. Much easier to keep track of that way. In fact, I think it is a better way in general to use money instead of cards. You know where you are then.
But all in all, an experiment success and I am that much nearer to me new windows and doors now!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Heaps of tomatoes, jugs of cream and bottles of ginger beer.

When I was a little boy I absolutely loved Enid Blyton adventure stories. Read them all over and over and I think that I can guarantee that it was these books that started my passion for reading. As I got older I lost interest in these wonderful stories and moved on to a different sort of book, but I never threw away all my old and very well-thumbed copies.
I have been unpacking some boxes here and discovered all my old Enid Blyton books, safely stores away and I just spent a happy hour browsing through the various titles of the ones I loved, The Island of Adventure, The Secret of Moon Castle, The Famous Five. I could go on and on. 
Anyway, one of the things that I remember so well about the books was the fantastic descriptions of food the children all used to eat. So I looked in one and very quickly found one of the typical descriptions:

'It wasn't an ordinary afternoon tea, it was a high tea. A fresh ham, glistening pink, a veal and ham pie smothered in green parsley, like the ham. Yellow butter in glass dishes, a blue jug of thick yellow cream. Honey. Home made strawberry jam. Hot scones. A large fruit cake, as black as a plum pudding inside, egg sandwiches, tea, cocoa and creamy milk.'

I used to get hungry when I read these descriptions and always wanted that sort of tea myself.
Now I get thinking about my nephews and how they would turn their noses up at a spread like that, picking at things and preferring a mcdonalds or KFC for a treat. There would be cries of 'I don't like egg', or 'this bread doesn't taste like the one from the shop', or ‘I don't like the fruit in the fruit cake’. They don't like jam, they don't like ham, they don't like scones. All in all they are a nightmare to feed. Times and eating habits have changed beyond recognition and, ok, Enid Blyton may have been old fashioned, even when I was reading them, but one thing never changes - quality food wins the day, is home made and doesn't need to cost much! If you make it all yourself, then that spread up there would not cost much at all and would keep you going for days with leftovers! And what nicer tea to come home to!

I hope I am not alone in my fond memories of Enid Blyton. Anyone else?

Friday, 10 February 2012

My living room.

I have finally got some photos to share of my living room as it is now.

This is a photo from the original estate agent:

Quite plain and very much a blank canvas.

This next is my own photo on the day I moved in:

And here is when I had stripped all the embossed wallpaper off the walls.

Here is how it looks now:

I have spent very little on it as all the furniture was mine already, I am lucky that I have collected nice furniture over the years, almost all second hand, with the exception of the sofa really. The curtains were a moving in present from my parents. I still have not had the windows and front door done (as you can see from the paint splattered front door) but that will be fairly soon. I would like a rug, because the floor is very cold (badly fitted carpet onto concrete with no underlay) but I will just keep my eyes open for a second hand one somewhere, sometime.

So approximately £40 on paint, £20 on a curtain pole (got discounted because it is missing a finial which I will have to add at a later date) and £29 for central light fitting and bulbs.

Total cost to me: £89 although £20 of that paint was woodwork paint which has done every room in the house, not just this one.

Here are a couple of pictures of my hall, very difficult to photograph well because it is very small and my camera is very crap, also had no before pictures, but like everything else, the walls were pale with embossed wallpaper and the woodwork was painted dark brown.

I have gone for the bold red because it makes a small, dull room a bit interesting and looks nice with my old black and white family photos and art deco lamp.
Total cost, £14 for paint.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012


Thank you all for your encouraging comments over the last couple of days. All is well here and I am happy to report that all painting and decorating is now finished. I will happily not look at another paint brush for a few years.
I am watching the news at the moment (have been up since 5.30)  and the big news seems to be about the resignation of the England manager. Now I must say, I couldn't care less about this news, but what I am flabbergasted by is the 6 million pound  salary. I have never heard anything so ridiculous in my life, how can anyone's work be worth 6 million pounds a year? That works out at over £16000 a day. How can someone do a days work and then think to themselves, 'what I did today was worth £16000.' Crazy world. I bet he gets sick pay too. He earns in one day more than I earn in a years hard working.
Enough of that craziness and onto normal things.
The £100 a month challenge is a doddle so far. 9 days in and I have spent nothing since the £40 a spent on the first couple of days. I still have more than enough food for at least another week so won't have to go shopping for a while yet. Not actually going to the shops is the key, if you don't go shopping then you don't spend money, pretty easy logic really. I was reading Frugal Queen's post this morning about what is in our shopping basket and I have to agree. I often stand in a supermarket queue (generally this is in the big ones rather than lidl or aldi) and wonder what other people are eating. Often they look like they have £60 of shopping and yet no ingredients. I must admit I have a family member who is like this. She spends £100 in Tesco and comes home and says, oh dear, I have nothing for my tea. Her and her husband then go shopping every day for dinner ingredients (which is always lavish and often seems to include a bottle of wine), this is on top of the £100 she spends in the supermarket, and all the leftovers are thrown out because they wouldn't want to eat the same thing two nights on the run. Is this what most of the country do or is it odd behaviour? I think I am out of the loop on what people consider normal now.
I have some friends coming over for dinner tomorrow night, I have to think of something cheap to cook. I was watching superscrimpers on tv and rather liked the look of the goulash recipe made with shin of beef, a nice cheap cut. Having said that, in general the programme is a disappointment. Have any of you watched it? I can't quite understand when a programme that is supposed to be about being frugal and learning to live on less, is giving advice on how to make your credit rating better so that you can borrow money with more ease. Surely encouraging people not to borrow in the first place would be better advice? It seems a no brainer to me, but maybe someone can enlighten me.
OK, enough for now. I hope this publishes ok as I am still having troubles with blogger. Especially commenting, so apologies if I don't reply always. I do appreciate the comments, but it seems to go wrong when I try and reply.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Bad news and good news

I won't go into the bad news, because I will just go off on one and be cross and sound like a curmudgeon. Suffice to say, that sometimes other peoples complete and utter unreliability makes me furious. I am the sort of person that if I say that I will do something, then I will do it, no changing my mind, no wriggling out of it at a later date. Why can other people not stick to what they say? Not sticking to what this particular person in question said has just cost me £300 that I could ill afford, in fact, can't afford at all and all because of their complete and utter unreliability. I wouldn't mind if it were just once, but this has happened time and time again.
Rant over.

Good news now, so that I can end feeling uplifted.

My totally free cavity wall insulation has just been installed successfully this afternoon and I painted the bathroom its first coat. This is the final room needing painting, so nearly finished all decorating. I know I Haven't done photos of any of the rooms yet, this is because they are still all lacking some of the finishing touches. But soon, soon.
Is it my imagination or does it already feel warmer than it did in here? I have heard great things about Cavity Wall insulation so I am looking forward to testing it out for myself.

See, ending on positve things has had a good effect on me, I am feeling good and balanced again.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Can I live on £100 a month? and the ultimate frugal painting. AGAIN.

Hello all and welcome to my new followers, there has been a sudden influx of them.

I wrote this post the other day and some of you (I know at least one did) may have briefly seen the title appearing and then disappearing. For some reason my post was 'eaten' and I was fed up and so left it a few days to re-write it. Here goes.

I have been inspired by fellow blogger Scarlet to try an experiment. To see if I can live on £100 a month for the next couple of months. I am treating it as an experiment but underlying this there is a serious reason. As some of you may know, I am in desperate need of some new windows and doors, not just because they are ugly and falling apart (I could certainly live with that) but because they are a security risk. 2 of the back windows are rotten and falling to pieces, the patio doors can be lifted out with a spade and the front door would give way with a good hard shove from my shoulder. So quotes are in and doors are ordered leaving me with the very unpleasant task of paying for them. Now the last thing I want to do is to get in debt, moving here was to get away from those sorts of problems and to make my life simpler, easier and debt free. If I can live on the bare essentials for a couple of months then I can pay for the doors and windows and job done.

The upshot is that if I can hone all my basic needs and necessities down to £100 a month for a while then I can pay all of this off. Now there are a few people out there at the moment I notice who have recently named blog entries in a similar way to this, give or take a few pounds, I have seen living on £150 a month, living on £100 a month etc (you get the picture) and one thing these people seem to have in common is that they are feeding more than one mouth. Now I, on the other hand, have only myself to feed, so really this should be a doddle!

So the first of February came and I took out my first £50 to do a good stock piling shop. Did a little research on the net for the best prices for things and then went shopping, Aldi won the day for most things but was just beaten by ASDA for strong white bread flour which is only 60p there, so I popped in and bought 4 bags. Now I have a menu plan for 2 weeks, a fully stocked larder and freezer (still don't own a fridge, but watch this space) and £10 left in my wallet. So feeding myself is easy.

The challenge is set and the windows and doors are on their way.

Frugal Painting.

I have been painting away for a few weeks now, most is done and I just had the kitchen and bathroom left and a few coats of woodwork here and there to do. Basically I had put a hold on it, because I didn't really want to spend any more money on paint for a while so I was just going to live with the kitchen as it was.

The other day I was sorting out all the recycling bins (they had been left in a terrible state by the previous occupants, any old rubbish had been put in any old bin) and I discovered a half 10 litre can of trade magnolia in the bin. It seemed ok although I had to pick out a packet of antacids and a can of something unrecognisable but I found myself with an alright load of paint to use.

So cost to me doing the kitchen walls, £0.

It is done and I have just given the skirting boards and door the final coat of gloss.

I love getting something for nothing. (Speaking of which, my totally free cavity wall insulation comes on Tuesday and not a moment too soon considering the cold weather we are having).

I have put some pictures up in the kitchen now and once I have sorted everything out tomorrow it will be finished.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Getting seriously cross

In the last two days two of my blog entries has been corrupted between saving and posting. I have had to rewrite the first entirely and now it has just happened again. I almost can't be bothered to re-write it! What is going on here?

The Versatile Blogger

Thank you to Mum and Frugal in norfolk for nominating me for a 'Versatile Blogger Award'. It is always a pleasure to know that people enjoy my blog.

Here are the rules of the prize.

1. Thank the person who gave you this award.
2. Include a link to their blog.
3. Select blogs/bloggers that you've recently discovered and nominate them for this award.
4. Finally tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

I'm supposed to nominate new (to me) blogs that I find interesting and so I have chosen the following.

Two men and a little farm My top choice. I love this blog, always interesting and it kind of mirrors what I am attempting a little bit.

2.Mi Esquimal esta lleno de vino

3. A Journey to a Dream

4. The Frugal Graduate

7 things about me:

1. I studied piano and singing at the Royal Academy of Music and for the last 15 years since I have been a professional opera singer.

2. I love detective stories and series. Give me an Agatha Christie and I am happy for hours. Even much maligned series like Rosemary and Thyme hit the spot.

3. I read and re-read books all the time and if I had to name one indulgence it would be books. I can't get enough.

4. I have a slight phobia of crowds. (guess it partly explains my move from London)

5. My sister's nickname for me is Lambie (don't ask why)

6. I had a near death experience, twice.

7. I have only been able to drive since I was 35, three years ago.