Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Saving Money... Nipping ebay in the bud!

Hi everyone and hope you are enjoying teh fabulous weather out there - even if it's just a quick walk at lunch!

Today I thought I would focus on the amount of money we all spend on ebay, as it can become an addiction... but as usual, I hope to save you some cash on that hobby too!

Around 6 months ago I joined this site called BidNip and they bid for you, in the last few seconds of the auction. If you do not win the auction, there's no fee to pay!

How it works is that you pay for some credits in advance so you can 'snipe' an auction. They are incredibly cheap at a few pence per 'snipe' (only charged if you win) and have saved me at least £80 over 6 months as I buy lots of clothes / books / aromatherapy, items for my workplace and more on there.

You then tell BidNip the auction number (normally on the right side of the screen on the ebay page). Copy and paste that onto BidNip, tell them the maximum you are prepared to pay, Snipe the auction, and wait to see if you win because they will bid for you in increments until your set maximum is met!

So - no more of that last minute paying more than it's worth because you got heated up and *had* to have the item...

I normally set my 'snipe' to 8 seconds before auction end... so if you want to be in bed, or out on the town when that auction finishes, now you can - because BidNip will do the work for you even in your sleep!

Let me know how you get on!

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Shabby Chic - Make your own pretty things!

Hi everyone, hope you have been enjoying the sunshine whilst it lasts!

Today my post will mainly be pictures of what I have been up to at home, mostly gardening and kitchen stuff. Before Easter I attempted to make some jelly eggs for my nieces but failed miserably (how DO the Americans do it!?), then on Easter Sunday I made some muffins, what I call Breakfast muffins as they're made with carrot and apple, with honey and cranberries for natural sweetness. I also sprinkle them with sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds for added goodness. See left for a pic of one next to my Bonne Mamman customised jars... I used normal white address labels and just added a nice font in Word, then inserted an image I liked from Google and print... far less than what the stores would charge you for jam jar labels, and, you can afford to make mistakes or change your mind!

These are my customised coffee jars as they keep things so fresh. Just be careful not to put the lids in the dishwasher as after a while they absorb moisture and there goes your airtight lid!

I have also been planting - the tall ones you can see in the pic are green beans (wow do they grow super fast - it was like Day Of The Triffids!) - also we have basil, small carrots and tomatoes growing. Let's see what happens! Have tried lettuce but failed - must try harder as they're supposed to be super easy! We want to be able to have our own edibles this Summer, and so far have not really spend much on them - as you can see lots of the pots are yogurt pots! Whilst I am experimenting, I'd rather do that, then spend more later when I know what's what...

I love all things Shabby Chic - the gingham print on the jam jar lids, aged French furniture, you name it, it's how I'd love my home to be. Of you like that style too, do join us on MSE on this thread packed with lovely ideas!

Shabby Chic Thread

Friday, 17 April 2009

More cashback sites - more pennies, more pounds!

I have found a couple more ways to make some extra cash, which you may like to also try and then we can share feedback on here or on my MSE thread:

A a brand new site called FatCheese which has recently launched and has several daily clicks (ie: free clicks that earn you money - see my cashback section on the right for more articles about how to make money this way).

Fatcheese link - daily cash clicking

Hopefully we can all make some extra cash on these, as 8 months to go until Christmas which wil allow lots of click payments to build up.

We Promise To:

I have a dedicated cashback guide explaining the routine I follow, and the cashback sites I use - simply drop your e-mail on this article if you would like a copy, but remember that once you have received the guide you should delete your e-mail address from here in case any third parties get hold of it.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Fabulous Face Oil - Frugal Fabulousness at £0.30p

Hello everyone and I hope you are enjoying these precious few days off…!
This week I have been investigating essential oils. It has always been a subject of interest for me, but I haven’t dedicated more than a few passing minutes here and there to the subject.

However this week my copy of The Fragrant Pharmacy arrived and once I started to read, it really did inspire me. For one, making beauty and home products with essential oils contain no chemicals – so cleaner and purer washing up liquid, air freshners, moisturisers, face oils, kitchen spray and general products can be readily made in just a few minutes. Quicker in fact, than nipping to the shop to get the usual ready-made product – so not only will you save money, but you will also save time.

My first product a while back was a lotion and a lip balm, which if you check the Beauty Is Fridge Deep article you will see went very well. Since then I researched some more, and now that I have the book, I have also made beautiful face oils, a ‘manly’ lotion and also learnt about the amazing powers once you infuse the right oils with eachother, rather than using just one oil alone. This is called ‘synergy’ and combines several oils which in their own right are already strong, to make a super-mix of goodness, whether for well-being, mood, to fight illness or to create welcoming home.

My face oil especially for dry skin was made as follows, as per the base recipe in the Fragrant Pharmacy, with my personal variation of oils. The author recommends 30 drops of essential oil per 30ml of base oil:

Face oil for dry skin
Base - 30ml apricot oil
15 drops geranium oil
7 drops Roman Chamomile oil
6 drops Bulgarian rose oil
2 drops carrot oil

I mixed this in a 30ml brown mixing bottle from Holland and Barrett (£1.49) and will keep it in there to preserve it and take some as I need it. I then decanted some into a smaller clean empty 10ml bottle which used to have essential oil in it, and as it has an inbuilt dropper. I just massage 3 drops into my face before bed and 3 in the morning. I can honestly say it’s one of the most pampering and delicious treats, and already feel a difference in my skin after just 3 uses. Remember if you make any face oil, leave it overnight, and then use the next day, just to allow the oils to settle and infuse together.

If you research online how much these kinds of face oils normally cost, you will be pleased to see that making your own little bottle will cost sooooo much less.

The 30ml I made will make 3 x 10ml bottles. That 30ml overall cost me just £0.90 in ingredients. Meaning each homemade 10ml bottle costs around £0.30p. Now compare how much these tiny bottles are online! There’s a Clarins Lotus one that costs around £24 for 40ml – that’s £6.00 per 10ml instead of £0.30p. The highly regarded Aesop Fabulous Face Oil costs £30.00 for 25ml, an astounding £12.00 for 10ml! Remember also that to sell these commercially, the companies probably add preservatives and other ingredients which when you make fresh, you do not need to add. As such the one I custom made only really had 2 ingredients – base oil and aromatherapy oil, all in it has 5 types of item.

Making yours at home not only allows you to save vast amounts of money, it's incredibly fresh and will give your skin an amazing glow, and can be made in less than 45 seconds, one of the easiest beauty products to make yet one that the industry charges us so much for. Not only that but you will be able to customise the oil with your favourite scents and what is best for your own skin type. For example. dry skin benefits from Chamomile, lavender, carrot oil, jojoba, rose, geranium and so many more, so I chose exactly what I wanted to use and how much of each.

These will now become staples when I would like to give someone a thoughtful gift personalised to their skin and the scents I know they like. I would far prefer a gift that was thought-out and made by someone than a more expensive item that was bought off the shelf. It means that at least by trying to make your own, you can see what works, what you like, and what your family and friends like! Plus at these low costs, you can afford to experiment!

I hope you all have a wonderful Easter weekend!

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Eggstra Special Easter... cheap, cheap!

Ok, so the title says it all... but seriously - how much should we really spend at Easter? Is it about expensive wrapping on chocolate eggs? Here are some ideas to get you inspired:

Between Easter gifts, food, trips out and about, snacks, cards and more, suddenly the costs can seem like they came out of nowhere. Food-wise we may buy some gammon this week, soak it overnight with spices & sliced lemon/oranges, then cook it. That will do at least 2 main meals (say Sunday and Monday) and plus say 5 packed lunches, plus if we freeze some bite-sized pieces, a couple of homemade pizza toppings - all for £5 as our local store has an offer on right now. I had never considered the flexibility of a joint of gammon until I realized you could freeze it quite well. I use tupperwares and freeze small amounts of the baked gammon. Great for sandwiches, main meals like stir-fries, special fried rice, toppings on a pizza, soups and so much more. Experiment with lentils for a lovely soup... then see what you come up with in terms of other tasty meals!

Ideas for Ham

I love this time of year - the sun is shining, we feel better, clothes can get lighter, we get more fresh air and feel happier in general. But just today I was aware that April will be an expensive month for us so got inspired to find ideas for Easter and Spring savings - starting with food.

This inspired me to think of light, but inexpensive meals. Winter tends to be much cheaper as we all eat more starchy comfort foods overall, which are cheaper.

What are your favourite Spring/Summer meals that don't cost the earth?

Mine are:

- Greek salad - salad, feta cheese, juicy tomatoes and black olievs with a sprinkling of oregano and sometimes some added roast chicken

- Nicoise salad - tinned tuna, cooked green beans, boiled eggs, black olives, some anchovies and tomatoes

- Griddled aubergines and courgettes with a mint and yoghurt dressing, with a cous cous salad on the side.

- Mozarella salad - simple but lovely especially with big ripe tomatoes!

- Grilled chicken lemon salad - just make a salad as normal but make a zesty lemon dressing to go with it )I like to use the grated lemon zest in the dressing as well).

These can be served with light bites such as Ryvita with hoummus, or some yoghurt dip, as well as some fresh fruit for dessert. The colourfulness of the food is lovely plus the heat means that overall we eat less, great for the pounds on our hips and the pounds in our purses!

Also see for the latest restaurant vouchers, because if you are going out to eat, you can almost guarantee MSE will have a money off voucher of some sort. Why not consider changing the restaurant, to ensure you go to one that does have a deal on and can save you money?Wagamamma, Giraffe, Pizza Express and Ask are just some of the chains that have had excellent vouchers on offer.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Spring, Shares and Tasty Savings

Hello all!

Well Spring is finally appearing behind the clouds and we can see a shimmer of sun – makes a big difference to how we feel and… how we spend!

I was able to somehow achieve my 20 x NSD’s, although it was very hard! I can see that Spring will mean this target will be harder to achieve – I know that the warmth and the lull of meeting friends and family will generally cost more but I do love this season and am prepared to sacrifice more in Winter months.

My plan for this month is to carefully save any money from cashback sites and either put it away, or buy some shares. Scary but hopefully worth it, as the financial market in some way at the moment is on‘sale’ with great companies quite devalued. In time hopefully they’d come back up to their normal levels because they are household names. The ones that are at least well run are my aim, rather than any possible Woolworths out there… However, I know very little about it so will carefully look at some big chip names if I do go ahead with it. The way I see it is that if it is cash from cashback site earnings, at least it’s not *my* hard earned money I’d lose… seems to make it easier somehow!

Other things we have been up to – we took part in Earth Hour 2009 which was great fun and saved us an hours worth of consuming electricity or gas. It also allowed us just to enjoy silence and it’s surprising how much else you hear – all the neighbourhood sounds, birds and more.

In April we aim to:
- Stick to £120 for food shopping for both of us (March didn’t work that way!)
- I will try for 15 No Spend Days each month until October as it’s getting warmer…
- Enjoy more fresh fruit and veg – as local as possible so it travels less
- I plan to click even more on free Cashback clicking sites to ensure Xmas 2009 is still free in terms of all food & drink (see the Cashback section on the right menu for more info)
- Clean up the patio garden and start to enjoy it!

In terms of eating better, here's a new code for you, or to forward to your friends that gives a Free Graze box PLUS another box half price… this is worth £4.48. These guys ensure you get delicious snacks, at least 3 of your 5 a day, delivered via Royal Mail...

free box code: 7VBCHQFD
Enter the code at:

For April I would also like to eat healthily and really, really relax and enjoy the Easter Break…

Here's a nice Easter idea I came across:
Easter Eggs

Have a great weekend and drop in a message sharing your ideas for Spring and what you plan to get up to!