Happy, happy weekend

My goodness, time flies.  It is more than a month since my last blog and I am so sorry about that really as there have been so so so many cheap thrills in that time which I now feel I will have missed recording, and one of my favourite things about writing it down is the chance to read back and appreciate all over again the cheap thrills we have and the joy and fullness it brings to life. I think my new plan will be that if don’t have enough time to do a whole blog I will steal an idea which I love on so many other blogs I enjoy reading and that is  “52 weeks of happy”. This is where each week you post a few pics from the week that have made you happy with a few words about them.  Should work and ensure nothing good is missed!

 Anyway, this weekend has been particularly happy and chock full of cheap thrills, so seems a good chance to capture them and catch up a bit with a good long post!  On Friday night there was a fab community event in the form of village gala disco…it was not attended by a huge number to be honest but there were enough people to create a good atmosphere and those who were there were up for a fun night. It was a pleasure to be a part of it.  We really enjoyed it and it made me very happy to be a member of this lovely community in Limekilns. (And it was a total bonus to have a cheeky win in the raffle and I am now the happy recipient of a voucher for a local beauty therapist and will enjoy getting a back massage sometime soon…bliss.)

 Saturday dawned with a bright blue sky day…perfect for Plum and mums day out with Grandma and Grandad Jones.  We had a leisurely start (mum and dad arriving nice and early to help sort Plum so we were still in our jamas when they arrived) and we had a lovely hour catching up on the week…Plum seems to have done so much this week, and all of it good and exciting (new words, new movements, good reports at appointments and generally being a good girl!), so it was nice to chat about that.  Our gorgeous girl goes from strength to strength and amazes with every day with her beauty, spirit and strength…we love you so much Plum Pie.  When B and I were talking about crafts, sewing and crochet this week he asked me what the best thing was I had ever made…the answer to that took no thought…Plum is by far and away the best thing I have ever made or will make. 

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So on with our weekend of fun and out to Linlithgow for lunch at Taste…a lovely deli and definitely worth a visit if you are ever in the area (but call and book as it gets really busy)  And then Grandad happily walked round the loch at the palace with Plum while me and mum had a zoom round some fabric shops and a razzle in the fantastic charity shops.  I got a lovely boden top for £2.99 which made me very happy and a lovely metre of navy and white spotty fabric which will be turned into a nice little a-line skirt very soon.

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I am utterly loving expanding my sewing into new projects…the great british sewing bee has been a massive inspiration and I have picked up so many tips from this fabulous show.  I decided to try my hand at a blouse, following the pattern by Tilly who appeared on the early shows…I was so pleased with how it turned out (and even more pleased that I have learned from the mistakes I have made and can see ways I can improve techniques for upcoming projects)  I emailed pics of the blouse to Tilly (she asks to see all the different versions of her blouse pattern) and I was beyond excited yesterday afternoon to have an email back from her and she really liked my interpretation and asked if she could put my pics in her makers gallery…I was so chuffed that she thought it was up to scratch…there was a fair amount of squealing in delight and excitement to have heard from one of my sewing idols and receive a nod of approval from her!

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Craftwise I am also still on a roll with the crochet at moment…completing an order for a lovely local lady last week.  My biggest blanket yet and I was really happy with the look and feel of it. 

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I am now on with another order and had the treat of needing to go to my favourite local wool shop on Thursday to get a ball of yarn to complete this order.  As I had just been paid for the other blanket I also treated myself to a couple of “don’t need it right now but they are lovely so I would like them in my stash” balls. 

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I love this shop (Tikasam, Burntisland)…Tracy who owns it is so friendly and helpful and really interested in what you are working on and sharing ideas and pieces made by others.  One of my favourite things in the shop is the community button box. I have blogged about buttons before, I love them, but this community box of buttony delights sums up everything I love and value in life in one tin…community, sharing, little bits of history, vintage beauty, thrift and style…next time I go I am going to take a handful of buttons to add to the tin and another time I am sure I will find the perfect button from there to add to a special piece of work. 

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And I will be visiting again really soon as the next eek, squeal, jump up and down with excitement moment came yesterday when I realised that I was the winner of an amazing basket of goodies from Tikasam…Tracy was running a free prize draw and when you made a purchase your name went into the hat…so I duly added my name to the list on Thursday and then forgot all about it.  But I only bloomin won and I am so so excited! Will be popping along asap to collect my basket of creative delights! Yay!

 So there is so much good going on at the moment…it is lovely to feel light, free and happy…it is not always that way in our life to be honest so when it is good it feels really really good…and I am savouring the feeling and hoping that life may continue to burst with cheap thrills.  Back soon…I will try and not leave it so long next time. x

Leftovers pie and pie leftovers

Monday night was pie night in our house this week! On Sunday we had enjoyed a  roast chicken dinner, so on Monday I used the remaining chicken, leftover veg and gravy, added some frozen peas and popped on a puff pastry (frozen puff pastry of course!) top.  It was really really easy…an assembly job more than anything with just a little bit of rolling out of the pastry (and my dad kindly picked the meat of the carcass and joints for me which was really especially lovely of him as he was not going to get to stay and eat the pie…that’s unconditional fatherly love for you). And it was T A S T Y !!!!

It came out of the oven all golden and bubbling

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And when we cut into it the meat, veg and gravy was delicious and moist and the pastry had that awesome combo of crispiness with a soggy (in a good way) bit nearer the bottom.  Yum yum yum. As Monday this week was B’s Friday (when you work in retail there is not a typical Monday to Friday routine and his weekend was Tues, Wed this week!) he added a bottle of cider as an extra treat!

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So when I had trimmed round my pie dish I had a fair amount of pastry left…too much to throw away.  What to do with it? I contemplated making a quick desert by adding some frozen summer fruits but knew even I, with my love of pie (can take the girl out of Wigan etc….) could not manage pastry then pastry for tea! So I turned to my mum for suggestions and she told me Grandma Sheffield would make Fause Cake with leftover pastry.

After quite a lot of debate over spelling and meaning of “fause” (is it sly or is it false) and a rummage in the pantry to see where the rogue smart price sultanas where hiding I embarked on recreating an old family favourite of which I knew Grandma Sheff would be proud.

Grandma Sheffield was the queen of make do and mend…she could not throw anything away…but didn’t simply hoard it, everything was put to good use.  She was amazing.  I loved going into her bedroom as a child.  It was at the back of her 2 up 2 down terrace in Lancashire and in the afternoon the sun used to pour in the back window giving light and warmth and emphasising the smell of dried lavender which was always present in that room.  If I was really lucky I was allowed to have a look in her big cupboard at the back of the room which was an aladdins cave of buttons, bits and fabrics, and fabulous things she was creating for the next sale of work at the salvation army, where she was a dedicated soldier all of her life. I am so privileged to have some of these buttons, trims and fabrics in my own stash now…and the look and still now the vague smell of them evokes so many memories I love it! I endeavour to keep the make do and mend spirit alive in Grandma Sheff’s memory and hope she would be proud.

But anyway, back to the fause cake…I rolled out the remaining pastry into 2 rough rectangles, and at one end added a small dod of butter (dod being a technical term obviously!) and a handful of sultanas.  Folded over pastry with some slits in top and brushed with milk.  These were then baked alongside the pie in the oven. B and I enjoyed one with our coffee on Tuesday morning while Plum was at playgroup and it was delicious.  Kind of like a rustic pain aux raison (I can hear Grandma Sheff shouting “a what?”). And the remaining one was wrapped in tin foil and sent away with B for an energy boost before he embarked on his ice climb in Glen Coe yesterday.

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So all in all the leftovers pie and the pie leftovers were both a great success.  Since Monday I have done a bit more googling to try and find out more on origins and meanings of fause cake, and there is a lot out there and many regional varieties.  I think my conclusion is that this particular one was a speciality of Baxter Street, Standish and I look forward to hearing more about it when Plum and I take a road trip to Lancs to see the family there in the Easter hols…you never know, I may even make some fause cake for sustinance on the road down…as long as we have had a pie the night before of course!

And finally, before I go, as I have spoken about it in this blog, I feel just have to share this shot of Grandma’s button tin and just a tiny fraction of the button delights which hide within it.  A true mix of buttons gathered over many many years, most of which still have thread and fabric attached from where they have been removed from garments…I love love love being the custodian of this button box.  It is more than a cheap thrill, it is a downright privilege as there is more history than Dan Snow would know what to do with in this tin and every time I attach one of these buttons to something I make I feel I am passing on a little bit of that history and love with that item. I love it. x

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Cheap thrills at the supermarket

So in January I decided that I needed to reconsider the way we shop for food.  Our weekly and monthly food tally was creeping up and it was getting to the stage that the £450 per month budget was only just covering it.  This is ridiculous for the 3 of us (one with a small appetite!) so something needed to be done.

A good look at my shopping pattern, a glance in the pantry (ha ha….check me, thinking I am Nigella with a pantry…in fact its an ikea unit in the utility room!) and a good old rummage in the freezer showed that I simply buy too much! And mainly too much in stocking up items and not enough to eat on a day to day basis, which meant that on top of the weekly online stock up and basics shop I was needing to top up through the week.

So I decided to set a target of reducing the monthly shop by £150 (it was easier to look at it as a monthly target than set a weekly amount as some weeks you simply have to spend more if lots of things run out at same time, but one week may need to spend very little) and only buy what we needed for that week and that week alone.  Also I based the weeks menus around what was already in store in the cupboards and freezers.  And finally I changed from an online Tesco shop with a top up at asda (tricky as that is Plums favourite place to go!!) and sometimes M & S, to the bulk of the shop being at Aldi and if a top up was required it was value brands wherever possible at whatever shop we were in.

And it worked!  In February I saved £143 on the months shop! And we ate really well!  Tasty home cooked dinners which were more interesting for being more creative, packed lunches for Bruce and more variety at lunctime for Plum and I which was both tastier, cheaper and more healthy than our usual cheese sandwich and crisps combo that is all too easy to slip into!

So what does a weeks shop look like now?  This is my shop from yesterday when I visited Aldi and Sainsburys…the shops were side by side and I took a basket round each.  It is both a curse and a blessing that Plum is unable to sit in a trolley…it is hard when you need to buy heavy items and are trying to steer a buggy one handed and balance a heavy basket, but it is a blessing as makes you more mindful of what you are buying as if you pop in extras you can’t carry the essentials!  Makes for a more focused and therefore thrifty shop! This cost £28 in total.  I will probably need to spend another £15 later in the week.

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I do make one exception to the “only buy what you are going to eat” rule however, and that’s on meat. I look every week for one or 2 items that are reduced but could be frozen…that makes the basis for the following weeks meals for a fraction of the cost.  Yesterday I got turkey breast fillets for just over a pound which will be a fab stir fry (combined with the carrots, cabbage, celery and spring onions which were 49p each as part of aldis super 6…the rest of which will be turned into a huge coleslaw!) and a huge turkey drumstick for £1 which will be delicious roasted with veggies in the oven and with yorkies made from the 15p batter mix will be a very cheap but very tasty roast dinner.

So how do you shop?  What are your supermarket cheap thrills? What are your shopping downfalls and do you think you could save.  I have worked out that if I save £150 a month over last years food bill that adds up to a whopping £1800 per year, and it is in effect found money!  I find that thought quite intoxicating!

And what was my biggest cheap thrill this week?  It has to be this washing up liquid from sainsburys…ok, I could have got one for 20p cheaper if I had gone to the basics but this was 49p and the cool retro bottle that matches the tiles round my sink will make me smile every time I need to pull on the old rubber gloves and get busy with the dishes!

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Happy shopping xx

What’s for tea?

For me and our family, good quality and tasty meals are a main part of  happy life…mealtimes are not just there for the basic need of actually having to eat, but a time to sit, relax and enjoy something together while talking over the day.  However, I don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen (I don’t have hours to spend in the kitchen!) or lots of money on expensive ingredients so I try to plan and be as creative as possible to ensure what we eat is lovely for less!  There will be more posts coming on shopping and how I have saved money so far this year by tweaking my shopping habits, but for now…what are we having this week?

 A plan is vital…the stress is gone if you know what you are having and that you have the ingredients for it.  This week we will have :

Ready meal (weight watchers pasta for me, pie and cauli cheese for Bruce…its Monday! I go to zumba and B eats alone later)

 Belly pork slices (reduced to £2 per pack and been loitering in freezer) in homemade BBQ sauce (ingredients from store cupboard) with brown rice (I batch cook brown rice a whole packet at a time and then freeze in individual portions for quicker teatime)

 Gammon, baked pots and veg (kindly supplied and cooker here by my mum and dad as B is away!)

 Pasta and red pesto…Plums absolute current favourite

 Bumper mac and cheese…I will add a little interest and extra nutrition to this classic with a couple of slices of bacon from the butcher and some sprouts and spinach from the freezer

 Pan fried trout (B caught it last week on a fishing trip) with gnocchi (we drizzle them in oil and bake in oven…like lovely tasty roasties…yum!) and green beans

 Homemade chunky soup

 Then its Monday again!

 Our eating patterns vary around the shifts B is working, whether I am going to zumba (1 or 2 nights per week) and Prunella and bedtime…but as a rule we aim to eat as a whole family once a week, I eat with Prunella another 2 times (she eats slightly differently from us and also as requires full assistance to feed it does mean someone ends up with a cold meal as they are helping her and that is not great every night but it is important that we create family mealtimes as much as we can manage!)  and the other nights B and I eat together once Plum is down at 7 so I like to have something I can have mostly prepared and is cooking away while I do bath and bed and is ready to tuck into by 7.15ish. Oh, and although B doesn’t work a Monday to Friday pattern I like to mark the weekend by having a nice tea on Saturday and often a kind of roast (not the works but some meat and veg combo!) and wine!!!

 So what are you eating this week? What is your eating pattern and are you happy with it? What changes would you make to it?  Love to hear what and how you eat….xx

A few recent cheap thrills to get us started

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2 packs of buttons from Tiger (£1 per pack)…so many ideas of what to do with them…or just lovely to look at and play with!

 

 

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I love this tape from Tiger (£1 per roll)  I post off quite a lot of parcels through selling pages and I think its nice to add a bit of interest to a boring brown parcel!

 

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I am a big fan of a black bic and this little ribbon wrapped stash made me very happy when B gave them to me!

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OK…so strictly speaking Chanel No 5 is not cheap (£52 per bottle!) BUT….a tiny squirt lasts all day (and can still smell next day if wearing same top which I often am!) and I know this bottle will last at least a year…therefore I am claiming it as a cheap thrill as for 15p a day I can smell posh and feel lovely!!

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A pot of narcissi for £1 in a charity shop bowl £1.99….makes me smile every time my eye rests on them!

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Could not resist this red and white spotty bag…made of lovely thick cotton and a great size for throwing all plums stuff in for going out..£1.50 Primark!

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Love a good cuppa and when I saw these posher than my usual brew tea bags reduced to 95p in asda I decided a treat was in order!

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This may divide opinion but I love picalilli…and this huuuuuge jar was rolled back to 10p a jar! And in date until Nov 2014! Total bargain!

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Zumba zumba zumba…energy boosting, endorphin releasing, can’t help but smile when doing it fun…the best £3.50 you can spend!

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My first 9 patch square completed for my 9 patch square quilt…there will be more of this I am sure in posts to come!

So these are some of my recent cheap thrills…what are yours? xx

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to a life of cheap thrills!

Welcome to Life of Cheap Thrills…which is essentially all about my quest to live a lovely life for less…whether that’s less money, less stress, less time…just about stripping things back a bit and focussing on whats important to me and my family rather than being swept along at the terrifying pace that can be dictated by society around us…telling us we need to have this, we need to do that, we need to go here etc in order to be happy.  I believe that in fact you don’t need to do any of these things to be happy.  To live a lovely life for you, I think you simply have to look at what makes you and the people around you happy and then focus on how to achieve that in the easiest and cheapest way.

Now you may be reading this intro and thinking that actually I do need the latest gadget/handbag/holiday/visit latest restaurant etc to achieve  happiness..I hope if you do, you will still stick with reading as perhaps you may pick up some tips about how to save in other areas of your life to generate even greater pleasure from these things (perhaps for example the joy of saving up for it rather than buying on credit and having the pleasure of your thing marred by the headache of paying it back!)

So what makes me happy is going to be come quickly apparent as posts emerge and you see how I go about my funny little life (B’s description!), however I will share a few aims for the year ahead that I set myself, and living towards achieving these aims and having more conscious thought about the way I live my life I guess has formed the basis of deciding to blog about it.

  1. Save money wherever possible…since I no longer work having given up to care for Plum I have no real means of making a great deal of money (dabbling in my little craft venture, pink gingham, is never going to regenerate enough money to be significant!) so I decided to look to see where I could save..starting with ensuring outgoings are cheapest available for what we need and assessing if really need to spend as much as have done on other areas..clothes and food mainly! Which leads nicely onto the next challenge…
  1. Embrace the Love What You Wear project http://thelovewhatyouwearproject.blogspot.co.uk where you don’t buy any new clothes for a year…second hand and vintage is fine (and shoes and underwear is allowed) but apart from that basically embrace your existing wardrobe or make/adapt what you have…its great fun!
  1. Get fitter and healthier…eat less, exercise more…simples!
  1. Embrace the simple pleasures in life…whatever that may be…a charity shop find, a walk by the beach with the dogs, playing on the slide with Plum…anything that is cheap, easy, simple and fun!

More on all of these as the blog unfolds…hope you enjoy the cheap thrills as much as I do!

PS…its always hard when starting a blog to know exactly where to start so the first few posts may be a bit jumbled and random until get into regular pattern…I feel I have so much to say and share its hard to know where to begin and end at the moment! x

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