Loving the leftovers

Hello Dear Reader,

Christmas lunch was lovely and everyone was well fed.

I buy the little foil dishes, ten for a pound from pound land. I’ve frozen portions of turkey in gravy, pigs in blankets, cauliflower cheese, cooked veg and gravy. We’ll eat this as r day meals over the week.

I’ve also plated up four roast dinners, two for tomorrow night and two for Tuesday night. I do like a microwave ready meal after work and after a dark drive home.

The Christmas decorations went up yesterday and will be taken down and packed away 

I like Christmas to be a one day affair and I’m sure many of us can remember when it was. Tonight, after a busy day and much washing up, I’m enjoying cold roast potatoes and the best leftovers ever of the wine we we brought as a gift.

Thanks for the good wishes xxx

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Christmas Day tomorrow 


Hello Dear Reader,

It’s Christmas Day in our house tomorrow. We’re having turkey crown, pigs in blankets, roast potatoes, braised spicy red cabbage and onions, cauliflower cheese, gluten free sage and onion sausage balls, Brussels sprouts, carrots and peas. Dessert is either raspberry Ethans n mess or Christmas pudding and cream or custard. All homemade. Two turkey crowns for £14 are the major expense. I’m feeding eight for about £30. 

The decorations are up, the table is laid and we’ll spend the day with family and extended family tomorrow. I hope my photos show that you can have a proper Christmas lunch for £3.75 each. 

It’s been a long day getting it all done but it I’m really looking forward to last oking after everyone tomorrow.

Until then,

Love Froogs xxxx

Sums up his time of year


Hello Dear Reader,

I’m really struggling with the lack of light at this time of year. I comfort myself with the knowledge that the light returns on the 21st of December and then, day by day, the days get longer.

The dog walking is done in the dark.

We drive to and from work in the dark.

I sit and work in the evening in the dark.

Twenty days to go……….and counting 

My dark nights end early as the gloomy days exhaust me.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Coping with the cold!

wood-stove

Hello Dear Reader,

It’s going to be a cold winter! I know what you’re thinking! Alaska is cold, Britain gets a bit parky. I shall rephrase that. It’s going to be a cold British winter. Our houses are not designed to keep us warm, well mine isn’t. It’s made of any old stones piled up with mortar and even though the walls are thick and solid, the cottage still gets cold. We moved in 2013 and have had mild winters since then and I’m really feeling the cold.

I could, should I choose to, turn on the gas central heating and leave it on and just pay for it. We live on a budget and choose not to have the heating on too much. When we do it’s set to 18.5C and that keeps the house from being chilly but I wouldn’t call that warm. We do lots to keep warm.

At the weekend, we light the wood stove and use a fan to push the warm air around. We open and close doors so we can move air around the house. We collect pallets and cut them down and add them to our firewood supply which helps stretch the budget as the pallets are free. We buy our firewood in the summer and stack it away and we spend £120 on fire wood a year. We use the wood stove to dry our laundry which keeps our electricity bill lower.

We use old-fashioned simple methods to keep warm. I’m feeling listy at the moment so here’s a list.

  1. Close all the curtains as soon as we get in.
  2. Hang thermal curtain linings on the back of the already thick curtains.
  3. Wear layers indoors. I get home and change out of my work clothes into something warm and cosy. I wear socks, slippers, a thick jumper and jogging bottoms around the house. Underneath a couple of t-shirts and I’ll stay warm that way.
  4. Duvets are not expensive so I have one under the bottom sheet in my bed and one on top, so I sleep in a duvet sandwich.
  5. Go to bed earlier by an hour and watch TV in bed or read or catch up on blog reading. I don’t need any heating at all them as I’m warm in there.
  6. We have sealed double glazed doors and windows so we don’t have any draughts but if I did have draughts, I’d use draught excluders to ensure I didn’t get them.
  7. We keep quilts and a blanket or two in the lounge and cover ourselves up so we stay extra warm.
  8. We keep a warm room. Instead of running our central heating, as we just don’t need it, we heat one room, in our case the room with the wood stove.
  9. I don’t heat the bathroom, when I shower, I keep the towel close by so as soon as the water is switched off, I can get dry in the residual warmth of the shower cubicle and get out dry and step straight into my dressing gown.
  10. Plenty of hot drinks, it definitely works.
  11. Keep moving and keep busy – easy for me, I’m a proper figit! There’s always something to be done.
  12. When I cook, I leave the oven open when I finish to let the heat into the room.
  13. On sunny days, I make the most of any warmth coming in and keep the curtains wide open.
  14. Snuggle up with nearest, dearest and dogs. We have a little two-seater sofa but two big humans and three little dogs can be found cuddled up together.
  15. Wear those summer strappy tops as vest tops underneath. A pretty substitute for thermals but just as efficient.

Over to you. How do you keep warm and keep the budget in check?

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxx

 

 

 

Being an adult

welcome-to-reality

Hello Dear Reader,

I can distinctly remember my goal as a child. Mine was to  be an adult as quickly as possible! I wanted my own home, my own ‘stuff’, my own money and to make my own decisions. I remember my peers wanting to do the same. I knew what adults did. Adults had jobs, went to work early and worked late, paid for the ‘stuff’ made the decisions and did adult things.

There are whole chunks of being an adult now that many people struggle with. That, may I add, is no judgement but there are bits and pieces of life’s education that some folk have missed out on. Somehow, people have not learned to cook, have no idea how to mend things, how to make any thing, can’t cope with money whether they have some, little or a lot. There are a multitude of reasons why. Maybe, they are a generation removed from people who did stuff such as growing, making or mending. Maybe, they grew up in more affluent times than some of us. I think it may be because their parents were busier just trying to earn a living and had to work longer hours. Who knows?

There are people who really struggle with the whole adult stuff and find budgeting difficult because they can’t make, mend, get by, make do and have no experience or know anyone with those experiences. They find other adult stuff difficult too such as emotional moderation and control so act on impulse. almost like a lifelong teens who see it, want it and don’t reason through the questioning of do I really? Again, no judgement as people grow in different ways and experience different things.

So, what skills do we need to be adults? I thought I’d put together a list of things I picked up along the way. No one taught me any of these in school. These are not in any order of what I think is important they are just as they came to me.

  1. How to earn money. That internal knowledge that you get a job, any job and you crack on!
  2. How to keep good time. Set the alarm, get out of bed and get a wriggle on.
  3. How to keep myself, the house, the kids, the car, clothes and my surroundings clean and in order. If it’s dirty, it needs cleaning, if it’s untidy, then tidy it.
  4. How to grow stuff. It’s not difficult and now there’s google, you tube and a whole range of advice at my fingertips.
  5. How to mend stuff. I can’t weld, change a head gasket or mix concrete but there’s not much else I can’t fix.
  6. How to prioritise when you just know what’s important and what’s not.
  7. How to chop wood, chop kindling, set a fire and keep it going.
  8. How to cook a range of meals, bake bread, make pastry, bake a cake……nothing fancy just home cooking.
  9. How to budget. If you need it, you save up for it and you go without until you can. Never spend more than 75% of your earnings as you’ll need to save the rest for family, the kids, the house, the car, dentist, birthdays, Christmas and anything else that’s not in the 75%
  10. How to amuse yourself when you have no money. You know where the library is, you know that something needs fixing, fettling or fiddling with.

I’ll leave the rest to you all and we can all join in. What skills do we need to be adults? Why do you think some people struggle with the whole adult thing. I’m not saying it’s easy and it certainly isn’t difficult either. Anyway, I look forward to your responses.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

 

How to get your savings working for you

money

Hello Dear Reader,

One of the things I’ve always tried to be diligent about is saving money. I certainly wouldn’t call myself an economist, and I don’t exactly follow developments in the economy religiously. But I’ve always believed that having a rainy day fund, and really just ingraining good habits in this regard, is a good way to go about things.

Yet while saving can at times require sacrifice, and a bit of hard work, perhaps an even bigger challenge has been to find ways to actually earn decent interest on this money. After all, if you work to save money, that money should also work for you. But returns for savers have been plummeting over the years, and the most recent cut by the Bank of England will only make things tougher.

Savings accounts dwindling

One type of account we’ve used is the Santander 123 account, which, until recently, offered headline returns of 3 per cent on a balance of up to £20,000. As guaranteed returns go, that was pretty good in the current climate. But even this was cut in half this month! It’s still one of the best out there, although another option which could give you a boost is the Nationwide FlexDirect account, which offers 5 per cent on the first £2,500 you deposit (1 per cent thereafter). Tesco Bank also offer 3 per cent on the first £3,000 you deposit, but generally speaking, it’s slim pickings out there.

New Savings bond

At this week’s Autumn Statement, it was announced that a new savings bond will be made available next spring. The rate of return on this will be 2.2 per cent, which is pretty competitive given that this is Government backed. The limitations for this bond are that you can only invest between £100 and £3,000, and your funds will be committed for a 3-year term. However, if you do invest the full amount, that will see you pocket around £66 a year, which isn’t too bad.

Peer-to-peer lending

Another alternative for finding competitive returns is through a fairly new method known as peer-to-peer lending. This involves investing your money through one of the UK’s major platforms, who then match your money with those in need of a personal loan. So you are effectively lending directly to peers, hence the name. There is risk involved, and you are not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme if the borrower fails to pay you back; unlike with a savings or current account. However, platforms tend to mitigate this with measures of their own such as a segregated fund to cover any losses, and even an insurance to protect against default.

Lifetime ISA

Another way of stealing a march in terms of long-term savings will be the new Lifetime ISA, which goes live in April 2017. The biggest drawcard here is that you can deposit up to £4,000 a year, and receive a 25 per cent top-up from Government. That means you can effectively get £1,000 a year absolutely free – plus any interest accrued – which is hard to argue with. The catch is that the money is locked away until you turn 60, and you can only contribute up until the age of 50. Still, depending on your age, you could potentially gain anything up to £32,000 in bonuses for what is essentially a retirement plan.

The Junior ISA

For your children, a Junior ISA is a great way to earn tax-free returns. If your children were born between September 2002 and January 2011, this type of account would have taken on the form of the ‘Child Trust Fund’, but this can be converted into a Junior ISA fairly easily. It’s worth being a bit selective though, because children are taxed the same way as adults (ie: they also have a personal allowance), so the issue of interest being tax-free can be rendered null and void. As such, it may be more beneficial to put their money into a savings account with the best rate. What’s important though is to really try and get your kids involved, and with a good idea of the importance of saving, and doing so shrewdly. Because if you’re all working together on this as a family, you’ll be putting the bricks in place to build a solid financial future for your household.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs

 

 

Sponsored post – As always, if I didn’t agree with it, I wouldn’t post it.

Buy nothing day


Hello Dear Reader,

You joined me with Stoptober when we had a fiscal fast together so Buy Nothing Day will be a breeze. We buy second hand, rummage through jumble sales, drive round to pick up that recycled fridge someone gave away on freeads and gladly accept bits and bobs people don’t need. We are doing our bit for the planet as well as our pockets.

I’m not shopping in the 25th…….it’s likely you won’t either. 

Buy nothing day, here I come xxxx

Mustn’t grumble

Hello Dear Reader,

Oh I can’t settle myself at the moment. I made the backing for my quilt yesterday, laid it out today and it fits just fine. At the next opportunity, I’ll fuse the layers together and get the quilt quilted. It’ll take me a weekend but the weather has become really wintery so a weekend of sewing in the warm will be just fine.

It’s less than a month until we’ll be back in Huelgoat. Both of the films were made by someone called Mike Fairfax who mounts a dashboard cam in his car and then films his journey. The first is of a trip round the tiny village and the second is my journey from the main road, from where I turn off and then into the village and follow the one way system.

We’ll be there on the 17th of December and I hope you’ll join us. Some of you, based nearby in France are more than welcome to come on over for a cup of something mulled and a mince pie, gluten free of course.

I really must get on with some quilting.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

A happy mess


Hello Dear Reader,

It’s been ages since I’ve done any sewing and I have two quilts to back and two to finish. As I you can see from my happy mess, I do a bit of French, a bit of sewing and then a bit of sewing. When I get the bit between my teeth, I can and do get loads done. 

I want to get a king sized quilt done, backed and quilted  before Christmas. You think it’s a mess now, just you wait!

Now, I must get back to something constructive as I like to be busy.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

That’s Christmas sorted!

Hello Dear Reader,

The photos above were us celebrating Christmas in a rented gite last year. We bought a house on the 21st December, went back with the keys and started cleaning and painting. We had the water turned on that day, the electricity the next and the following day BUT arrived with our electrical goods. We took the day off on Christmas day and went out for lunch with neighbours and then went back to the UK a few days later. This year is going to be whole lot more relaxing.

Today, I wrapped the presents for the four people we buy gifts for. The turkey, beef and pork is in the freezer. The cake and pudding has been made. This morning, I sorted through our Christmas decorations so I can downsize and give three quarters of what I have away. I found all my well used gift bags, which we use instead of wrapping paper, the cards I bought on sale in January and wrote out cards ready to post. We will do Christmas with our family on the first weekend in December where I will cook lunch for everyone. It’ll be lovely. I even enjoy prepping the vegetables the day before, making custard and icing my cake.

A couple of weeks later, when the term ends, we’ll head to Brittany for a well deserved break in the very quiet village Huelgoat. It will be our first Christmas in our own home. Whilst we’re there, we will get out for walks, visit friends and places and generally recharge our batteries.

We celebrate Christmas our way, quietly with a nice meal, a pud and a bit of cake. No fuss and no need to buy much or over eat. It’s just the way we like it.

Today, I got the last few bits done and it’s good to be ready.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxx