Saturday, 2 December 2017

Advent Challenge

Another of my favourite sites at this time of the year is the Bible Society Advent Challenge.  This is an Advent calendar for thoughtful grown-ups with maybe a bit of help from children.

Each day there is a Bible thought but there are also caring actions.  This could be as simple as letting someone in ahead of you when you are driving, doing a bit of litter picking, or buying someone a bunch of flowers.  Each day there are three suggested actions to choose from.  I have to admit that occasionally none of the suggested actions is suitable for me but I substitute with actions like visiting a lonely person or donating to a food bank.

This year there are also craft activities.  (There may have been crafts in previous years but I don't remember.)  There are models to cut out and make each day for children to build their own nativity set - just print the sheets, add colour and glue and there you are!

Space travel

The last century has seen huge advances into outer space with missions being sent high above the earth to find out what happens up there.  Most of the information which these mighty craft send back is far too difficult for me to understand.

However, there is one extra terrestrial mission which has been going on for several centuries and in which I take a keen interest.  On just one night a year men and women, girls and boys, have gazed up into the heavens in the hope of seeing a string of reindeer pulling a huge sleigh full of presents and a jovial gentleman wearing a highly unusual red flying suit.

The great thing is that recent advances in technology have made it possible for us to see that stout gentleman in his cosy suit as he goes about his business.  Although his sleigh travels faster than the human eye can see it, photographic advances mean that special cameras high in the sky can trace his path and take special footage which can be slowed down for us to see.  Satellites enable his course to be followed with great accuracy.

The agency responsible for tracking Santa is NORAD (The North American Aerospace Defense Command) and although most of their work is highly secret they share their Santa knowledge with anyone who cares to visit to their Santa Tracker (hover for a link).  From early December they make available archive footage of Santa's journeys in previous years, they have a free on-line Advent Calendar of games to help train Santa watchers and lots of useful information about him.

This Frugally Challenged Santa Follower thanks everyone at NORAD for this chance to expand her knowledge  and she recommends their website to all her readers.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Rice up against hunger!

Sometimes what is needed is something teeny tiny.  Or even better lots of teeny tinies.  

You may have realised that I spend quite a lot of time sitting.  I can't stay on my feet too long, that's just the way it is.  I do all sorts of things whilst I sit - I sew, knit, complete puzzles, enter competitions, complete surveys and quite a bit more.  I read blogs, surf the net, exchange e mails and all the rest of it.

But there is a very special site which I have been using for years and which I love.  It's  Through this site you can give rice through the Word Food Programme and it won't cost you a penny.

All you have to do is answer multiple choice questions on maths, science, language, humanities, or geography.  You even choose how hard the questions are.  For each correct answer ten grains of rice will be given through the World Food Programme.

I love it.  I've expanded my vocabulary, brushed up my geography and even ventured into maths problems.  The site is entertaining and free to use.

No matter how little money you've got you can make a charitable donation this way as no money is asked for.  There's not much that is tinier than a grain of rice but neither is there much which is more vital.  

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

A Comping update

You may remember that back in August I won a £500 fashion voucher.  I spent about half on me and half on Christmas presents.  The presents are considerably more costly than I would normally buy but the recipients know this is a one-off and their chance to share in my good fortune.  However, that's a nice chunk off my usual Christmas shopping bill, I've got most of my presents bought now, and I've got some special clothes for the Christmas season.

Today I visited a friend who is in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease and sadly it is beginning to be more evident so I came home feeling rather sad.  Nothing can take away that sadness but I was cheered a little by the news that I have won another competition, this time for a sturdy pair of winter shoes.   I had quite a choice but these will be very useful.  

Back in the summer I won a rather nice hotel break which I gave to a friend and her husband.  She is coming to stay with me for a few days and she is treating us both to a spa day while she is here.  

Not bad this comping lark!

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Small habits

Small habits.  We've all got 'em.  You know, the little things you do which save money but they're so much part of your nature that you don't even think about them.  I haven't always been a thrifty gal but since I've retired I've acquired new habits which are now second nature.  

Small habit number one has to be budgetting and tracking.  I use budgetting software (which I won!) and every purchase is recorded.  At the end of each month I do my personal financial report, telling myself what I have spent on the house, the car, treats etc.  Just being aware of what I spend has a restraining effect on spending.  I set goals each month, some of which I share on this blog, and review my success or failure and why I got the result that I did.  I also keep a spreadsheet called "Essential budgetting information" on which I predict cashflow so I can move money into the current account if needed.

Small habit number two again involves this laptop quite a lot.  Many people can save money by growing things, using public transport etc. but disability means I can't.  However, when I sit down for necessary breaks I always pick up the laptop and do a survey or maybe a few competitions.  Neither brings in a huge income but together they make a small but significant contribution to the budget.

Habit number three involves not a laptop but a good old fashioned notebook.  In it I note my shopping needs thus avoiding unnecessary trips to the shops.  I also note guide prices so that I can stock up when I see a staple (eg laundry powder) at a good price.  I also write down things to research before I buy.  Yesterday, for example, I was looking at plants in a garden centre and almost bought a skimmia but noticed that there were several different varieties available.  I don't trust the glowing terms which growers use to try and get me to buy so I noted the varieties available and will check before I invest my garden tokens.  Hurrah for notebooks of the use-with-a-pencil kind.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

It's the little things

Yes, it was more than a little crazy to have two rooms decorated at once.  The problem is, I can't do it myself so I have to "get a man in".   It is cheaper to get him in once to do two rooms than to get him here twice.  

I need help with quite a few jobs (not just decorating) which a non-disabled person would do easily, which means I have to be careful with my cash.

Last year I was very happy with my water bill, especially when I compared my consumption to the national average for a single person household at  The UK average this year is 66 cubic metres  with 45 cubic metres per annum being considered low.    My consumption was 25 cubic metres and I really don't know how I did it.  I have needed next-to-no water for the garden this year (I have to use a hosepipe as I'm not safe carrying buckets).  I am naturally careful with water.  I keep a jug by the kettle and boil only what I need.  I take navy showers  and never take a bath.  I'm careful in my usage of the washing machine and dishwasher.  I've got a water filled bottle in the cistern.  However my house is clean, I don't go thirsty and (as far as I know) I don't pong!

These seem such small things though.  But they do show that small things add up.  Next year I shall pay £7 per month less for water.

And I could have wept at the amount of water which the plumber had to drain off before replacing the tank!

Friday, 13 October 2017

What a week!

This was never going to be one of the best weeks of my life but oh dear!

I had decided that I wanted to get some decorating done.  The "dining room" in particular needed a little help and I decided to have the hallway done at the same time.  My dining room is rarely used for dining but it is often used for sewing, sometimes used as a bedroom and I have previously called it the Room of Shame on this blog.  

Anyway, I had to empty the room for the decorator to do his bit.  Add to that the stuff from the hallway and my general untidiness and you will see that even at the start of the week I had a problem.

I decided to sacrifice the sitting room.  

Anyway, the decorator moved in and I went out as much as I could.  Until he said, "Did you realise that you have a large bulge in your hot water tank?"  No I hadn't realised and once I did realise I was rather uneasy!  Phone call to the landlord and visit from plumber.  I had to empty the linen cupboard.  The tank was replaced.

The plumber and the decorator have now gone their separate ways and I have my home to myself.  Not that I can relax exactly.  This is my sitting room this morning.  The plus side of this photo is that I know I can find my vacuum cleaner and Father Christmas is giving me a cheery wave.  

I may be some time.