Thursday, 28 February 2013

A month in review: February 2013

The end of the month, again! February has definitely gone fast. It's been up and down again this month, though work is getting slightly easier, so should see that as a positive! I keep toying with different ideas, work-wise, but it would take an awful lot of courage and lots of planning, so I think it'll have to sit on the back burner for now... 

My aims for February were:
- Lose 4lbs
- Overpay £700
- Put £300 in Emergency Fund
- Have 16 No Spend Days
- Make a new type of loaf

I've lost 2lbs this month. Now, again not as much as I'd hoped, but I am getting more into the healthy eating again. I've given up chocolate, crisps, sweets, biscuits and cake for Lent, which is certainly helping! 

We've over-payed £640.40 this month, so a bit short of my target. However, I think that's still a fantastic amount to overpay, and we've done a lot in the house during the month, so that fact we've still managed to pull off a big number is big achievement. 

I've also managed to put £300 into the emergency fund, which just shows that we can do this, if we plan accordingly. I keep changing my mind about what I want our emergency fund to contain, between 6 months, 9 months or 12 months, and then whether it's just mortgage payment and council tax payment in there, or all bills, or all outgoings. Hmm. 

I've had 16 No Spend Days this month, just. Today marks the 16th one. I am finding that not taking my purse to work helps enormously, as I just don't have any money to spend!

I haven't made a loaf of bread, not even though about it to be honest. 

I managed to get a free book today, on freezing food, of all things! It looks interesting....:

There are some interesting recipes in here, which I will have to attempt soon! 

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Meals for the week.

Thank you for the kind comments on yesterday's post, I really do appreciate them and thank you for taking the time to make a response. Half the problem with spending and meal planning is that we don't have a lot in our freezer! However, I intend March to be a very frugal month, watch this space....

The weekend is almost over, and so work begins again tomorrow. Today has been a relaxing day, although I've marked about 200 books, and I intend to spend the rest of the evening doing nothing. 

Our meals for the week look like this:
today - toad-in-the-hole with mash and gravy
Monday - mushroom and chickpea burgers with salad
Tuesday - pizza (DH) slim fast (me)
Wednesday - chilli and rice
Thursday - pasta (DH) slim fast (me)
Friday - scampi, chips and peas

I was going to take a picture of the toad in the hole, but it didn't look great. It's the first time I've made it today, and I'm still getting used to our oven, but it was a bit browner than it was supposed to be...! Still, covered in gravy and a side of mash, it soon disappeared from our plates. I'm debating whether or not to make some flapkjacks in a bit, I think I might. 

So, instead of a foodie picture, here's a picture of two cats snoozing:

They really do snuggle into each other when they're sleeping - it's so cute. 

By the way, how gorgeous is that quilt? It was a wedding present, and I love it. Handmade and took months, and one of my favourite things. The cats appreciate it too! 

Saturday, 23 February 2013

An upset and an enlightening.

Now, I'm going to say that I might sound a bit over-dramatic in this post, but I'm upset, with myself more than anything. 

You see, me and the husband creature went food shopping today, as we normally do on a weekend, armed with a shopping list and a menu in place for the week. We wandered round, getting what was on the list and only one thing in our trolley by the end of the shop was not on the list. That was a meal in the reduced section, which is now in the freezer. 

Sounds fine, right? But, this shop came to £80.22....! Yep, over £80. I couldn't believe it, yet it was almost £90 before all the offers kicked in. As I scanned the receipt, I couldn't see anything that wasn't essential. [Apart from the supermarket's own brand of amaretto I suppose, but that'll last me months!] We did buy cat food, which will last the month. I got some more shampoo and conditioner, but it was half price. We got some laundry detergent that was on offer, which will last us about two months. But still, I was shocked. That's the most we've ever spent on a grocery shop.

I'm also upset with myself. I feel like I've taken my eye off the ball. Spends keep creeping up. We can't afford to spend that much on shopping each week. That, combined with the petrol I got on the way home, mean we'd spent over £130 in just over an hour, on things we need to get through the week. 

I need to address our spending, Look at outgoings. See where we can make cutbacks again, so that we can continue to over pay our mortgage so that we don't have it for the 25 years it's supposed to run for. 

Why is money the solution/problem always? I'm finding life a bit overwhelming at the moment, if I'm honest. 

This photo shows my current love for breakfast - cinnamon and raisin toast. I'm toying with the idea of trying to make my own, but worry it'd be rubbish. Also, this is with natural light, and a much better photo. 

This is what we've just had for tea and what a rubbish photo this is. I need to get a better camera. It needs to be light [oh summer, where are you?]

Gosh, what a grumpy mood I seem to be in. I think it's the lack of chocolate [I've given it up for Lent, along with crisps, biscuits and cake] That's my excuse, anyway. 

Friday, 22 February 2013

A whirlwind week.

I always find that holidays go so fast, it's annoying in a way. We've been really busy this week, decorating the lounge, searching for furniture, choosing carpets (first time!) and other things. It's been busier than I like to be on holiday really, but that's part of being a home owner I suppose!

It's payday on Monday and I'm going to look at overpaying again, plus looking at the emergency fund and putting some in there too. I also need to re-budget for next month as we've spent more than we should have in February. 

Tonight is going to be spent eating popcorn, watching a film and candles burning away. Nothing like a relaxing evening with the one you love. 

Monday, 18 February 2013

A little homemade goodness.

Decorating has started in the lounge - the first coat of paint is on and the second will be done tomorrow. We went for a light grey in the end, and it's already looking fab - can't wait until it's all done! I keep thinking about the accessories I want and colours to fit in with the scheme, I just need to not get carried away...!

Tonight was a little bit of indulgence; I made me and DH homemade pizzas. He had bacon and mushrooms on his. I had spinach, mushrooms and capers on mine. It was very yummy, though it needs a bit of tweaking to be perfect - DH said he doesn't mind being the guinea pig in the meantime! 

Here is mine:

Still can't get the hang of getting it into a circle, but I can practice! Tasted good though. A nice homemade meal that was definitely cheaper than a takeaway pizza. Plus you can choose exactly what you want on it too. 

Homemade definitely is best. 

Saturday, 16 February 2013

The kittens and a break.

I'm so glad it's the weekend. Oh, and half term. A week off, where I can relax, a bit. I've got 400 books to mark this week, fun! We're also planning to decorate the lounge, so it'll probably be a bit stressful at times, but never mind.

Anyway, I finally have a good photo of the kittens to show you! 

Meet Django and Luna:

Luna is the girl and she's on the left. Django is the boy and he's the one on the right! They weren't too keen on the camera, as as soon as I'd taken this photo they ran off, but never mind. Luna (the tabby) is a lot smaller, and much more timid at the moment. Django (the black and white one) is a big softy and so long as he's being bribed with food, he'll let me stroke him for ages. 

Aren't they lovely? They are funny too - they play games with each other, pounching and rolling around on the floor and chasing around, they're just so much fun to watch. In fact, I've spent a lot of time sat on the floor with them running around me, that I've hardly done anything else in the evenings! 

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Look what I have!

It arrived in the post today!

I ordered it at the weekend using some vouchers I had, and it arrived in the post today. I can't wait to sit down and read through the recipes, drool over the pictures and be inspired to cook. 

Can anyone suggest any good recipes to start with? 

Monday, 4 February 2013

Homemade ready meals.

Something that I'm going to try and use a bit more to my advantage over the next few weeks are homemade ready meals. I'm going to make more than needed and freeze the leftovers, therefore creating homemade ready meals. 

I'm hoping that it'll make life easier in the long run, even if it's slightly more effort in the first place. 

Tonight we had spanish chicken bake, which was leftovers from a previous night. I made enough for four portions, and froze two of them. When it's been frozen, it doesn't look particularly good....:

But, once heated through it tastes pretty good! 

It's a Hairy Dieters recipe, which can be found here and it's really straight forward and healthy. 

Do you do your own "ready" meals? How do you set it up? How long can things be frozen for?

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Meals for this week.

So Sunday evening is here again. Does anyone else feel that weekends go far too quickly? I'm not ready to go back to work tomorrow. Another day relaxing would be good. I would so love to only work 4 days a week, must be lovely. Not that I don't like my job, it's just that it's so tiring. 

Anyway, our meals for this week look like this:
today - mustard and cheese stuffed chicken with oven chips, apple and fruit crumble with custard
Monday - spanish style chicken bake (freezer)
Tuesday - filled pasta and sauce (DH), egg on toast (me)
Wednesday - pea and bacon risotto
Thursday - pizza (DH) slim fast (me)
Friday - scampi, chips and peas

Tuesday night is now yoga night, and Thursday night is pilates night, hence the small portions for me. Should help with the slimming too, so that's got to be a bonus, right? Another simple menu. Tonight's tea was so tasty, it's a recipe from the good food website and it's really straight forward to make, but well worth it. 

This is the crumble we had for pudding. Well, it is Sunday after all. 

Friday, 1 February 2013

Monthly Aims: February 2013

Happy February! I don't mind February as a month, as it's always short.

My aims for February are:
- Lose 4lbs
- Overpay £700
- Put £300 in Emergency Fund
- Have 16 No Spend Days
- Make a new type of loaf

So, pretty self explanatory, but these are my aims for the month. I'm hoping to work through some food stuff in the cupboards that need eating up, so our food spends should be lower. Not by much, but every little helps.

I am determined to make a new type of loaf this month - half term is on it's way so I'll try and make one then. I quite fancy making a seeded loaf, but I don't know if that's being too adventurous? Hmm.. 

No photo today, it was dark by the time I got home from work, and the kittens were asleep under the throw, so still haven't managed to get a picture of them either! I did manage to stroke Luna yesterday, when she was distracted by food, but they won't come near us otherwise. It's a slow process apparently!

Here's to February being great.