Monthly Archives: February 2014

March 1st Squash risotto and the zoo

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Day one of my make the most of my money month did not start in an ideal way.

Mainly due to these reasons :

Rubbish weather
A saturday
Husband on night shifts

The weather limits my options for activities.
Then its limited further still by being a saturday, I’m not going into a play centre on a rainy saturday for no money.
Husband on nights doesn’t limit my activities but it does mean we have to be vaguely quiet when he is asleep in the day.

After a day of being in nearly all day and rubbish weather yesterday which drove me insane I decided rain or shine we would be going out today.

I chose the zoo. Hear me out on this.

Its nearby. (10 mins)
We have a pass.

For these reasons it wouldn’t of mattered if we were there only 1 hour before it was too cold or wet etc as by having a pass I don’t have to pay admission. Also if we got wet and fed up we could get home speedily.

This pass is £48.99 and regularly reduced by 15%. Considering the entry to the zoo is nearly £20 it seems ludicrous not to have one if you are local ( EVERY mum round here has one). The added bonus is children don’t pay til they are 3 years old.

This zoo also happens to be fantastic which is also a major win.

The ONLY downside, and I’m clutching at straws here is the coffee/ cake/ food departments. They aren’t all that taste/ health or price wise…but no matter when you are being frugal plus I refuse to pay for meals out when I’m ten minutes from home anyway!

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We watched the sealions swimming.
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Saw a monkey eat his breakfast.
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Explored new paths.
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Fed the ducks.
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Had our snack by the lake.
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Fed the goats in the farm and one took a liking to my bag( a compromise as little smiler wanted to feed the giraffes and that wasn’t on for another two hours)
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Cost.
Zoo: £1. I’m guesstimating my pass for price per visit.
Duck food: 11p. Half a pack of sainsburys basics Pitta bread ( we are broadening the ducks bread horizons).
Goat food: 20p
Total: £1.31

Onto the food.

Today I made butternut squash risotto which seemed to be a good choice on such a horrid day too. A nice winter warmer recipe.
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I microwaved the squash to soften it..I would normally roast it but being out all morning and with a hungry night worker and toddler about I took shortcuts. Having done this I would definitely do it again as I always find chopping up a raw squash a bit dicey!

I chopped this up and popped to one side.

I dissolved a maggi cube in around 800 ml of hot water and also put it to one side.

I softened a chopped onion in a little oil. 
I added one cup of rice ( not special risotto rice just cheapy normal rice)

I then added the stock a ladle at a time, until I got bored and shoved the lot in and simmered it gently til the rice was cooked. Adding more hot water if necessary.

When it was nearly done I stirred through the squash and popped some beans on to boil.

Before serving I stirred through a spoon of Greek yoghurt to give it a creaminess. If I don’t have yoghurt sometimes I add a spoon of cream cheese, cream or a bit of grated cheese. I also added a sprinkle of pepper.

Ta da.
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I stayed away from the salt because of little smiler but it probably needed it.

I know its not a proper risotto but it tastes lovely and we like it 🙂

I served it with half a pack of green beans and some peas and sweetcorn.

This served us three plus 2 portions for husband to take to work.

Cost. ( all approximate as I get used to pricing meals)
Squash: £1.40. Seems alot but I do love butternut squash.
Rice: 20p
Oil: 10p
Onion: 20p
Stock cube: 10p
Yoghurt: 15p
Beans: 50p
Frozen peas and sweetcorn: 10p
Total: £2.75
Price per portion ( I divided in 4 as I didn’t include smilers piddly portion): 68p

🙂

Where did February go?

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Time whizzes past far too quickly for my liking.

It’s true that when you are young the week’s drag, the terms drag and you wish your time away to get closer to birthdays, Christmas and other special days.

Now I just want time to stand still its really passing me far too quickly and it makes me sad if I stop and ponder on it too long. Well what a positive and cheery blog post you may think.

Lets change it up, on a positive note I’m going into March with intentions of being a super saver, the results of which I shall focus on my blog posts.

Cooking bargainous and healthy meals for the family which I shall bore you with.

Seeing how many activities and days out I can do with little smiler in a month, the frugal way.

I sometimes feel I can float around with blog posts and not really have any direction or general theme amongst them or for my blog as a whole and so I’m going to focus it on these two things and see where we go.

March = Making the most of my money

Naughty gnocchi

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I ventured off from my menu plan for today and switched to have haddock and fried gnocchi and vegetables.

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It was a revelation, both that little smiler loves smoked haddock..random..and that fried gnocchi is absolutely frigging delicious.

This is a nightmare. I need one more delicious food revelation like I need a hole in the head.

A third revelation showed itself when I went to the local garden centre to support the local businesses and get some grass seed. A local ( 2 minutes down the road) garden centre with a coffee shop like this..

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Who serves coffees like this..

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Doth not a skinny nor frugal Mrs smiles make.

I shall aim to forget fried gnocchi and the coffee ship within throwing distance asap! ( but my word I did enjoy them today )

Bargain hunters. We are off!

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On march 9th aslong as the weather on the day and directly previous does us proud car boot sales will be back in gear in my area!

We have epic ones near us and for that I’m ever so grateful. I’m also grateful that people near me don’t seem to mind getting rid of their ‘tat’ for next to nothing and I certainly don’t mind taking it off their hands. The car boots near us are so good we can go with a shopping list I kid you not and be able to get them all.

We also love the fruit stalls…for me its all about the massive red grapes with the seeds still in. Love love love them.

I’ve had some great bargains in 2013 from car boots.
Genuine Frye boots £5
Brand new boxed birkenstocks £3
Brand new ankle boots £3
Camouflage coat £4
Jansport rucksack £2

The list goes on. Not to mention NUMEROUS great toys and clothes for little smiler.

The great thing about car boots is the lack of buyers remorse. You can go, enjoy a lovely stroll around and rummage at bits, get a great big haul of bargains and still know you spent less than a coffee and cake at Costa would have cost you. And if you change your mind about something than you have only lost a few pennies.

Also the challenge of searching for what you want and the thrill when you find something great and at a great price! Well that’s the greatest feeling!

Me and husband both love going round the car boots. Its really our favourite thing to do and we can’t wait for them to start up again.

I’m not sure how little smiler will fare as he is so much more active now and I’m not one to force children to be bored for hours so we will see.

On my car boot hitlist this year is of course bargain clothes which I can’t help but look for. Toys, books and clothes for little smiler, breadmaker, baking accessories, and any other genuine bargains.

I think sometimes the thrill of getting bargains clouds your judgement believe me we have come home many a time with tat that goes straight into our car boot pile so I’m determined to be a lot more shrewd with my choices this year and only purchase sensibly. Money is hard earned money after all and I don’t want to waste it.

I have I felt lately gone off the road regarding spending and things and just like my diet it needs to get back in control. I don’t class car boot sale shopping as massively excessive, I spend five or ten pounds a time when I do well and I regard it more as a day out or a hobby!  I have however been getting into the habit of browsing online and in shops.

I’m not going to do this anymore. It only causes you to see things you want but don’t need and then buy and regret. One of my favourite blogs is frugalqueen and she wrote once, and it stuck with me.

” shopping should be a necessity and not a pastime”

This resonates with me and is definitely what I’m going try and stick to this year when I can. She is a frugal icon, she is marvellous and far more strict than I could ever be or want to be. She does however indulge herself in her favourite things but lives frugally in order to be able to do so and I think that is key isn’t it?

Splurge on the things that are necessary to make you feel good, appreciate what you have and what you get. Respect the work that has gone in to earning the money you have and do yourself the honour of getting the most for it.

So car boot sales are a hobby, a day out, having fun and also, aslong as I make wise choices, a good way to get great bargains and save money. Win win.

I look forward to showing my 2014 booty looty.

I made cheese scones for smiler and husband to have for breakfast, how good do these look?

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Diets suck.

What’s on the menu this week

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This is for the family I will be having much smaller or only parts of these meals or something else completely. Its not going to be my most imaginative menu plan as I try and use up what’s here ready to start afresh next week.

Sunday
Rosemary Conley prawn curry

Monday
Soya burgers and chips with tomato jam

Tuesday
Vegetable Chow mein

Wednesday
Macaroni cheese

Thursday
Baked fish, fried gnocchi and veg.

Friday
Falafel in Pitta with salad and polenta chips

Saturday
Scone pizza

Back to reality

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Well I have returned from mothers.

A lovely week was had, all the more obvious by my massively expanded waistband. My seriously inaccurate scales at home have told me I have put on 2 kg?!?! Whether they are nicely inaccurate or it could be even worse in reality is an upsetting thought and one that will be dealt with with a detox this week and a swift return to weightwatchers on saturday. Mind you I didn’t hold back on the lattes, stroopwaffles, scones, cakes, biscuits, pasta, bread and cheese so it was inevitable!!

The menu this week will consist of..

Water water water
Green tea rather than coffee
Cutting down the good stuff ( carbs)
No cheese. Cheese..leads me to bread which leads me to butter..
No sweet treats
Cinammon porridge every breakfast, oh how I’ve enjoyed buttery marmite toast!
My lemon detox water. ( more to follow) Veggie overload

Plus..the dreaded exercise DVD will have to make a comeback.

I am now craving a return to my normal diet and to get back into the swing of things eating wise so I’m hoping ill be successful this week. I felt good in all my clothes this week and so don’t want to go back to how I was. These are only three of what I wore outfits and I wasn’t organised enough to add jackets and shoes etc before taking the pictures.
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So the week away consisted of

Seeing my sister who donated to me numerous items that will be well worn and appreciated! I shall go into detail on another day.

Coffees out at a fantastic garden centre close to mother’s. Fantastic due to huge amounts for little smiler to do and see and the fabulous scones!

Bracing walks around the village.

Trips to various ducks, stocking them up on the finest yellow sticker bread we could find.
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An unsuccessful yet well worth attempting trip to the cinema with little smiler. 1 pound entry for movies for juniors meant that even for the experience and trip out for him I still think it was well worth it even if he only lasted 20 minutes. FYI cineworld peeps..don’t play 25 minutes of ads prior to a film for kids please! I look forward to going again when hes a little more willing. He enjoyed it but once he realised he could reach the lady in fronts head by kicking his foot it was time to leave…

Catching up with my friend for a coffee..one of those friends that you know really cares for and values you and of course the feeling is mutual. A real good egg and as all good eggs someone who really has had a rough hand in life and dealt with everything admirably. I used my first mummy free morning in almost two years to meet with her ( childcare courtesy of grandma) and I couldnt have picked better.

Seeing friends who perhaps I shant be seeing again soon. As explained in previous post if you come away from someone deflated, feeling crap about yourself and like you wasted a part of your life in their company then move on from them. Its not worth it.

Chilling out while grandma took over the playtime! I’ve enjoyed watching my son play with his grandparents and be able to drink a coffee at leisure!

I was very poor in taking photos but we were busy and I shall just take it as a sign we were enjoying ourselves too much.

As soon as I got home husband waited a good ten minutes before asking what I would be cooking, I dread to think what he concocts when I’m not here. So we made an Asda dash for a few essentials and I shall be perusing the cupboards when I have more time tomorrow before I think of our meal plans for this week.

Time for trashy tv in bed as little smiler is zonked. 🙂

Friendships that run their course.

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I’ve never been one to have a huge group of friends.

I can be lazy in regard to making effort with lots of different people in order to keep lots of different friendships going and if I’m honest I don’t meet all that many people who I get on with. 

I’ve always been a one or two friend kind of a girl.

In a friend relationship I am supportive and definitely a good listener. These attributes however often land me with friends who like to yak my ear off about themselves and who have little time to listen back.

If there is a problem in my life I don’t like to go on and on about it. I like to have a brief chat then yabber about rubbish and laugh to take my mind off it. However this can then often mean that people just don’t bother ever asking me if I’m ok. Then I feel very alone when there is a problem.

Because I end up in this circle of attracting friends who like to chat to me about themselves I then find when I do reach out to one of them I often get rebuffed.

One such friendship has become too much of bad and not enough of the good to continue with.

These are my general rules on friends that aren’t really friends. .

1. They talk at you not with you

2. They enjoy making you feel bad about yourself and when bad things happen to you

3. You come away from seeing them feeling rubbish

4. It feels hard work to be their friend.

These toxic friendships are draining and need to go. So many people feel this need to continue toxic friendships and drag them out just because of length of knowing someone or how they met etc. People change, situations change and friendships do run their course. That’s life and you should only spend your precious time with people precious to you.

So in the interest of decluttering my life one of my ‘friends’ is on the reject pile but just recognising the sourness of this friendship has relieved me. This is a sign enough that it was the right thing to do.

Ps I never did get that coffee made for me on my birthday. It was not a smile filled day that’s for sure so I am ever so glad I bought myself the ring I wanted 🙂

I cannot fault that company. Fantastic speedy delivery, communication, packaging and returns for different sizes policy. Fabulous.

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And here are my birthday cakes I made…
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A smartie covered Tunis cake.

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BlackBerry and fresh cream crumble cake.

To give you a clue to how rubbish my birthday was. Husband dropped my cake and that wasn’t even the worst bit. So I’m glad I took these pictures beforehand 🙂