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    Memorygirls Make Do and Mend for 2008 Thread
    • #1
    • 3rd Jan 08, 11:45 AM
    Memorygirls Make Do and Mend for 2008 Thread 3rd Jan 08 at 11:45 AM
    Inserted Intro From Martin....

    This is MemoryGirls 'make do and mend' diary. You'll see the first post immediately below, then can scroll down for updates (with others comments in between).

    It's a fascinating, fun and inspiring insight into how to go thrifty and Old Style and well worth a read through... thanks for posting it Memory Girl...

    PS for people new to forums, a quick abbreviation glossary.

    DS - Darling Son
    OD - overdraft
    CC - Credit Card
    LOL - laughs out loud
    OS - MoneySaving Old Style which is all about thrift - see the Old Style Board and Thrifty Ways charity book

    Now onto the info..



    Single Mum (38) of a fabulous DS (7) and expecting another DS anytime from the end of February - mid April. (First was waaaay early so Midwifes bit cautious about "due dates")

    No partner - hit the road when the line went blue But 2008 is my year to stop settling for what everyone expects me to do (sign on and claim benefits) and start designing the life I want for my wee family - setting myself some scary goals in the process no doubt

    I am mostly debt free - I have an expected debt of 6k to appear this year from a business that is being wound up. BUt I now have no OD, CC or consumer debt at all.

    I am buying a house on the 31st of Jan - and Gulp!!! - it is in a real state. Now don't panic because what I have done for the last 10 years is develop property for our family business, so I'm not afraid of the work. Of course having the bump in the middle of a refurb will be quite a challenge - and this one has to be funded entirely from my own pocket.

    There is about 50K profit in this development (no- really ). Gain mostly due to installing the basics - central heating, fixing roof, new kitchen and bathrooms and complete redecoration ( place looks like been decorated by colour blind toddler - LOL). I aim to sell this place in 2008 in order to carry forward a chunk of equity into a "forever house" for my family with a much reduced mortgage.

    This year will be waaaaaaaaaaayyyy tight cashflow wise. So my decision is to set myself a " make do and mend" challenge. To save money by being as OS as possible as I make the move from a few years living with my parents to being back out my own.

    Heres where I am so far:

    1 Jan Started a "control journal" - a la Flylady Target date to complete 19 Jan
    2 Jan Raked through attic to find old wool of mums for making Baby clothes DONE
    3 Jan Downloaded pattern for baby blanket to crochet. 25 patches Target date to complete 28th Jan

    I figure that if I can keep skipping forward for 365 days of mini- goals by the end of the year I will have changed our lives beyond recognition.

    Any tips and advice gratefully appreciated - I'm going to be on my own here cos my folks are not OS in the least. They love eating my OS food but as soon as I go it will be back to the packets they uesed to live on I'm sure.

    PLEASE - come with me on this journey as my cheerleaders / b****m kickers and treasured advisors.

    Baby steps for 2008


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    Last edited by Former MSE Wendy; 24-06-2008 at 6:10 PM.
Page 10
  • memorygirl
    Back again……. Do you think it’s possible that a ten-month old could be teething? He’s doing a lot of powerful sucking on his fist – is dribbling like a premier league player and has got bright red cheeks. He’s not too grumpy …… although if teeth are on the way I might be the grumpy one. I remember being nipped once or twice whilst Bfeeding the first one and the memory still makes me wince. Not that it stopped me ( actually I think I’m just too lazy to do all the bottle cleaning stuff its not that I’m particularly virtuous)

    Where were we??? Yup! Control journals. Actually not my idea, belongs to a fabulous lady who has got a site . She has really helped me get a handle on all of the routines needed to run a house………………. And much as I hate to admit that my Mum was right “little and often” is the way to go. Pop over to the OS board and there is a great weekly thread running that helps loads too.

    The control journal is basically a file where you keep all of the important “stuff” needed to run your life. I’ve got morning and evening routines for me and the boys, menu plans, contact addresses, list of birthdays, calendars of important events, Christmas present lists – stuff like that. The theory being that if the house were to go on fire I could grab the boys, grab the file and life could pretty much go on as before. Oh yes its got the house insurance policy numbers in it as well – LOL.

    As for the baked beans – here’s what I do when I make them. I make them every couple of weeks and freeze the extras.

    BAKED BEANS – about £1 for a huge pot – or 12 portions ( and we’re greedy here)

    I bag of haricot beans ( the little white ones that look like – well baked beans )
    1 clove of garlic
    2 tins tomatoes
    I small onion – peeled and chopped
    1 tsp sugar
    Salt and pepper

    Soak the beans in cold water overnight. Tip I was given once is that to prevent the skins splitting you start these off in cold water rather than pour boiling water over them so that they can slowly swell.

    Next morning I drain them and boil them in water (don’t add any salt as that will make the skin tough) for about 40 minutes until cooked but still a bit “al dente” – that’s firm but not crunchy.

    I then turn the heat off and add about 1 tablespoon of salt and put the lid on firmly. I know this sounds like a lot of salt – but the beans only pick up a little of it and the rest drains off with the water.

    I leave the beans for as long as I can to cool down (usually whilst everyone is fed breakfast and dressed for school) I find that if I drain the beans whilst they are piping hot the skins start to peel off and the insides pop out.

    I liquidise the tinned tomatoes, onion and garlic together and pour into my slow cooker with some pepper and the teaspoon of sugar (for some reason a little sugar makes stuff cooked in tinned tomatoes really yummy)

    Just before heading out the door I drain the beans and stir them into the tomato sauce in the slow-cooker, pop the lid on and leave for the day.

    When I get home the beans are tender and “baked” – but much cheaper than tinned ones and less sweet/salty too.

    This makes loads – so I freeze the leftovers in Chinese takeaway containers (the plastic ones with lids) One box is like a tin of beans – feeds four as a side dish or two as a topping for baked potato or toast. Or one very hungry grandfather babysitting after a day of golf – LOL.

    These are great jazzed up with some chilli, or stirred into pasta and roast veggies as a pasta bake, used as a base for chilli-con-carne or stirred into a pot of veggie soup to make it more substantial.

    Can you tell I love my beans ?– and so does my shopping budget.

    GOALS - by June 11 2009 - My big 4-0
    Mortgage of £70K / Got £126 2 years salary £12K/ Got £00
    O/pay Mortgage every month 12 / 0 Weight target 10st 7lbs / Currently 12st 10lbs.
    Furnish house on £1K/ Spent £100
    • Flylady_Flower
    • By Flylady_Flower 26th Jun 08, 9:06 PM
    • 2,853 Posts
    • 62,435 Thanks
    Thanks MemoryGirl,
    brilliant, and I'm definitely going to try the control journal and baked beans (we love baked beans too, but I am a total techie junkie, I love forms and stuff, sad I know ). I'm on the grocery challenge and have really got into cooking since being on there - loads of hints, tips & recipes if you have a chance to read.
    Talking of which, there is a fantastic book that you can get from the library - Its a really, really long title - 'How to feed your whole family a balanced, healthy diet with very little money and hardly any time, even if you have a tiny kitchen, only three saucepans (one with an ill-fitting lid) and no fancy gadgets - unless you count the garlic crusher.... by Gill Holcombe' - It's brilliant and should give you loads of ideas as it's easy to understand and use...
    Hope that helps you on your journey - best of luck, I love reading about your antics, very inspiring
    PS: I swear at inanimate objects too - they are the only thing in my house that doesn't answer back, well them and the dogs
    LBM April 2013 - £29,000.00
    Vanquis CC's PAID - Debenhams SC PAID - A+L OD PAID - Asda CC £783.75
    Barclaycard CC £1400.78 - BoS CC PAID - Freemans Cat PAID
    F/D Loan & CC £1458.96 - Santander Loan PAID - Mum Loan PAID
    RBS OD PAID - F/D OD £1026.52
    Weekly Grocery Challenge - £95.00 budget / spend £-
  • mary43
    Hello Memory Girl..........glad to see you back again.
    Like the idea of the Control Journal............think that may be the sort of thing I could use and better than having half a dozen folders around the place for everything.

    If you want some tips on crafting stuff pop on to the Special Occassions board......there'a a thread on there of hints and ideas about what to make for Christmas. If I make anything it has to be pretty basic and there's some really good ideas there that even I can

    You seem to be doing just fine.....getting loads of bargains for your new house........well done you and keep at it and keep at the;ve a natural talent for it.........................

    I'm creative -you can't expect me to be neat too !
    (Good Enough Member No.48)
    • cha97michelle
    • By cha97michelle 27th Jun 08, 3:10 PM
    • 5,619 Posts
    • 67,616 Thanks
    Memorygirl - congratulations on the birth of your boy.

    I read the thread back when you started and was pretty inspired by what you were achieving while pregnant, but i am more in awe now. I have a baby boy who is nearly 8 weeks old (and also was a 9Ib baby with no time for the gas and air, although i did cost the NHS slightly more as i was there for breakfast ), and also a 20 month old, and all i seem to do here is breast feed and try and keep on top of the other monkey. If i get a spare few moments i tend to pop on here to have a read, and that is probably why i don't get much done.

    You've inspired me to at least try your baked bean recipe, and to try and get a bit of something done, like the rug i was making for DS1s bedroom started in April, or the cross stitches started when he was about 6 months old.

    10 week olds can be teething, and if you are lucky it will be the bottom ones and he won't nip you for a bit yet.

    Keep posting on here - it is lovely to hear what you are achieving. I also liked the idea of things to do before your big birthday - i hit 30 next year virtually when i go back to work so that would also be a good way to motivate me not to waste my year off work.

    A photo of your baby sling would be nice if you have one. I have a bought one i'm afraid, but at least i am using it this time, unlike with ds1 who hated it.

    Michelle, x
  • mountainlioness
    Hi MG

    Ashamed to say I've only just discovered your amazing thread thanks to the honourable mention on Martin's email...

    Can I just second whoever suggested you turn this diary into a book? You have such an engaging and inspiring writing style as well as an amazing story that am sure it'd be a bestseller (sign me up as 1st preorder!) Maybe there's someone on here who could advise?

    One thing that really struck me reading through your thread was the way in which you exchange your skills for other people's or for the things they can offer that you need. I really like that idea - we're too hung up on buying things these days. The "in kind" trade seems so much more community-spirited (as well as being about as MSE as you can get!)

    I've subscribed to your thread and, like many on here, will be eagerly awaiting your updates


    MFW Challenge member no. 96 - on hold! :rolleyes:
    Girl Cub due 14th September
    • susan946
    • By susan946 27th Jun 08, 6:08 PM
    • 498 Posts
    • 5,169 Thanks
    Hello Memorygirl

    I'm a newbie to this board which I found from the link in Martin's newsletter. I am just so enthralled and can't wait for your next post! You've achieved such a lot and are such a fantastic role model.

    I've been battling with a virus and then a chest infection over the past three weeks and my motivation and energy are at an all time low. I just want to say a big thank you for giving me some oomph back. I've started knitting a hat for charity and have lots of plans and enthusiasm now. Haven't got a lot done yet as I'm so tired all the time, but now at least I feel I'll get there.......eventually!!

    Thank you so much.
  • MadMac
    Hi All

    I've been keeping up with this thread since it started when I was in a hospital bed and couldn't post (only read), but am finally back home and working again. So can finally say very well done Memorygirl - and welcome to the world Rowan!

    Would agree with everyone saying that you should publish your diary as you are still reading very much in the style of the Bridget Jones books - bound to be a huge bestseller and I hope to see it on the shelves in Asda soon!

    I'm no knitter, cannot sew really and am awful with money (still) but you did spur me to get out my dusty, rusty sewing machine and make a shopping bag! That's about the level of my competence. But it shows what an impact you are having far and wide and we thank you for that.

    And I WILL start a journal with Flylady's help, I promise!

    Look forward to reading more either here or in print - however it gets to us all will be worth waiting for, you have a real talent!

  • warwickroadroad23
    I am another convert to this thread through the money saver email and I feel so humbled by your story memory girl. I am in a bit of trouble with money at the moment and need to get my finances sorted out and your story has really inspired me to finally do something about it, instead of just talking about it.

    We (and I am as guilty of this as anyone but trying my best to change) are so obsessed with "things", when time with friends and family and memories is far more important. Your diary is making me realise this Memory Girl and things are going to change in my life. I am sure your diary will keep me inspired along the way, keep up your great work for yourself and your family
  • memorygirl

    Can I sneak in quietly and let you know about my adventures in "Make Do and Mend" Land today?

    Getting a bit of stage fright at the thought of how many people have popped over for a read of these ramblings. Although thank you all so much for your kind words and especially your encouragement – bit worried that you are all going to demand books for Christmas though -

    Soooooooooo … Today was the last day of term at my DS school - and

    Wooooooooooo hooooooooooooooo!!!! Who says that wishes don’t come true.

    Make Do and Mend – Booze !!!!! and champagne at that


    All right I know it looks a little cloudy, but it is actually Elderflower Champagne made from organic apple juice and elderflowers. Presented with a flourish to me by one of the teachers of my son’s school as a thank-you for all my work this year. He is the brave man who takes every child over the age of three in our school out for hours on end into the forest for Nature School.

    I don’t know who collected the elderflowers for his “home brew” but I’m hoping it wasn’t our kindy class.

    I’m not exactly certain how he makes this potion – but he assures me that if I like it he will show me how as it’s apparently quite simple. Much simpler than the dodgy smelling “real ales” and wines my Dad used to make in the cupboard under the stairs when I was a kid – OOOOhhh can I remember the smells and the suspicious gurglings even after all these years.

    All I know is I am chuffed to bits that he thought of me when he was filling the bottles – just hoping it is a lovely glass of the fizzy stuff so that I can report back to you all what a genius he is.

    Byee!! Off to find a proper champagne glass to finally wet the baby’s head.


    Sneaks back in – Ssssssss luuuuuuuuverly, hic!!! Got a feeling I’m gonna be a fuzzy headed Momma in the morning.
    GOALS - by June 11 2009 - My big 4-0
    Mortgage of £70K / Got £126 2 years salary £12K/ Got £00
    O/pay Mortgage every month 12 / 0 Weight target 10st 7lbs / Currently 12st 10lbs.
    Furnish house on £1K/ Spent £100
  • warwickroadroad23
    Elderflower Champagne.... mmmm they were talking about that and all the other lovely drinks you can make from Elderflower on the Chris Evans show the other day. Sounds like the teacher was listening in.
  • hkinsella
    this thread is brilliant, I am so inspired, off to freecycle now. Well Done x
  • hkinsella
    Sorry, just had a look at your photo's the baby blanket with the diamond design is brilliant, wondered if u had the pattern to hand, got a step daughter who would love one in pink and think i might have a go.
    • Ches
    • By Ches 27th Jun 08, 9:44 PM
    • 1,105 Posts
    • 10,371 Thanks
    I was so angry when this thread was taken out of OS and rightly or wronly I posted to say so. I felt it was such a shame to bury it in a corner where it was unlikey to be viewed by many people as I thought it very inspiring and deserved a place in the 'main stream' part of the forum. Anyway, I am really glad to read that Martin put a link in to direct people here. Best of luck Memory Girl you have certainly got yourself a fan club now and deservedly so. BTW I had a sneaky peep at the rest of your photos and I have assumed the beautiful children on there are yours.
    Mortgage and Debt free but need to increase savings pot.
  • mary43
    Ches -have to admit I felt much the same when the thread was moved but at least now other people get the chance to benefit from Memorygirls tales and big 'Thanks' to Martin for mentioning it in the e mail..............bless her, Memorygirls done far more than I would ever have hoped I could do.
    We can all learn a lot from her I'm sure

    (Still waiting for her to commit to putting it all into a's such a joy to read)

    I'm creative -you can't expect me to be neat too !
    (Good Enough Member No.48)
  • memorygirl
    Sorry, just had a look at your photo's the baby blanket with the diamond design is brilliant, wondered if u had the pattern to hand, got a step daughter who would love one in pink and think i might have a go.
    Originally posted by hkinsella

    Oooh!! A pattern??

    I copied it from an Amish quilt I saw once - called "around the world". If I get time later I will try and write up the instructions - or maybe try and find a link on a quilting website.

    It was made using some scraps of fabric and some old pillowcases - cut into strips, sewn together lengthwise into a piece of fabric, then cut crosswise with a roller cutter to make the squares. You then jiggle the pattern by unpicking seams to stagger the shading IYSWIM.

    If all that seems double dutch - have a look at the quilt anyways and I'll have a stab at writing up proper directions and dimensions onto some kind of worksheet to email you.

    GOALS - by June 11 2009 - My big 4-0
    Mortgage of £70K / Got £126 2 years salary £12K/ Got £00
    O/pay Mortgage every month 12 / 0 Weight target 10st 7lbs / Currently 12st 10lbs.
    Furnish house on £1K/ Spent £100
  • memorygirl
    BTW I had a sneaky peep at the rest of your photos and I have assumed the beautiful children on there are yours.
    Originally posted by Ches

    Yes - they are mine -ALL MINE, MINE I tell you!!!!!!!!!!! OOh - came over all Baby Jane there for a minute.

    My DS (& - nearly 8 he says) told me in the car that he remembers being in heaven with DS (10 - nearly 11 weeks) and that they were bestest friends. That is why the baby chose to come and be part of our family. When I asked him how come he chose to be part of our family - he thought a little bit and then piped up " cos you always make me pancakes when my friends come to visit"........................ and the way to a man's heart !!!!!

    Got a present from my Mum. LOOK …………………….

    Yup …. It’s official …. My family is crazy – . Mum got these for me because they were on offer at 9p each. So she went absolutely mad and bought me a whole 6 of them.

    So when life hands you limes ………………………you make margaritas – right???

    Well obviously the old, size 12, pert bottomed, non- bfeeding high-heeled wearing Memorygirl would (and probably drink them all herself in the sunny garden too). Instead I am going to be a sensible girl and make something yummy to pack away for the darker, colder weather. Although in Scotland that can also apply to June –

    If you love Indian foods as much as I do – all those pulses and soothing carbs that are also MEGA cheap to cook at home then you will know that what really sets your taste buds tingling is a spicy pickle. A little dab of something at the side of the plate that really makes you feel you are eating authentic Indian food.

    So I am going to make………………… Mango chutney!!!!!!!!!! Nah!! Lime pickle it is – but be warned this one is HOT and very SOUR.

    Actually I quite like this in the summer with a cold meat or cheese salad (like a rocket-fuelled Branston pickle) or with plain rice and yoghurt in the summer (very soothing on one of those days when it is too hot to cook for one and your taste-buds are a bit jaded)

    This is a family recipe – just not my family’s. LOL. It was taught to me by the grandma of a friend in London (where I used to live). The family came from Kerala – and my friend was too busy studying to be a high-powered corporate lawyer (all high heels and power suits) to spend time with Grandma to learn – so I did – and now apparently I am the only one in the “family” who can make it quite like she can????

    Geetha’s Grandmas Lime Pickle

    Take 6 limes – wash them in hot water to get rid of any wax and allow to dry out in the sun!!! (or a paper towel will do if the weather doesn’t want to play)

    Take 2 and juice (if you heat them for 30 seconds in a microwave and then roll them firmly around your chopping board before cutting and juicing you get much more juice). After juicing I chop the skins into 1cm dice and add them to the recipe as well – well waste not… want not!!

    Take the remaining 4 and cut into 8 wedges – then cut each wedge in half to make 16 half-segments per lime.

    In a non-reactive bowl (glass or ceramic not aluminium) mix the segmented limes, the lime juice and 4tbsp of salt. Make sure the limes are well coated and then cover either with a plate or some Clingfilm and set aside for 4 days. Make sure you leave them somewhere obvious otherwise you wont find them again for a fortnight. Apparently the salt and lime start to “cook” the lime skins and eventually they become soft and gelatinous and very yummy so don’t be scared when the limes start to change colour into a browny/ beigey/yellow.

    Now I know at this stage you will want to grab a bottle of tequila and get slamming – but please resist.

    On day 5 –did I happen to mention that this recipe actually takes about a week to do? This is really NOT Fast Food!!:rolleyes:

    On day 5 take a small frying pan and dry roast (that is without adding any oil) 1tsp of cumin seeds and 1tsp of mustard seeds. When these just start to colour a little take off the heat and grind up – either in a spice mill or a mortar and pestle. Add a large pinch of turmeric and 5tsp of chilli powder (told you this pickle packs a punch).

    Sprinkle the spices over the limes and stir until everything is coated well. Cover again and set aside for another three days.

    On day 8 heat 4dsp of vegetable oil until it begins to shimmer in the pan. Pull off the heat and throw in another 1 dsp of mustard seeds. Swill them around the pot until they begin to pop and then when they are still hot pour them over the lime mixture and stir well.

    This is what the Indian Chef’s call a tarka – yup – just like the otter!!

    Thoroughly wash a jar with a screw-top lid in very hot water (I use a 400g mayonnaise jar for this quantity). To be sure that the jar is sterile I like to dry mine in a low oven and then wait until it is cool enough to handle.

    Put the lime mix into the jar – squashing the limes down so that there are no air pockets. When it is full, pour a little of the spicy oil mix over the top to ensure all the limes are covered and then screw the lid on firmly. You may find you have a little mix left over so now is the time to treat yourself to a taste .

    I store mine in the fridge – in fact the jar that is almost finished is about 6 months old now (at least I remember making it one snowy afternoon during the Christmas break), so it keeps really well.

    A little goes a long way – but if you have a family who all like to dabble in a little spice you may need to double the quantities - or make it more often.

    PS Makes a great Christmas present as it goes really well with leftover turkey and ham too. Or is June too early to be thinking about Christmas presents????


    PS Just costed this out and and I make it about 62 pence for a huge jar - how MSE is that???
    Last edited by memorygirl; 28-06-2008 at 7:43 PM.
    GOALS - by June 11 2009 - My big 4-0
    Mortgage of £70K / Got £126 2 years salary £12K/ Got £00
    O/pay Mortgage every month 12 / 0 Weight target 10st 7lbs / Currently 12st 10lbs.
    Furnish house on £1K/ Spent £100
    • Ches
    • By Ches 28th Jun 08, 9:22 PM
    • 1,105 Posts
    • 10,371 Thanks
    Thanks for the recipe. My OH loves this stuff so I will defineately be trying this one.
    Mortgage and Debt free but need to increase savings pot.
  • Miserjunkie
    Hi MemoryGirl

    Felt compelled to post, even though I've only sat on the fence previously by reading the weekly MSE Newsletter and just popping in to read the odd thread or two for advice. Thanks Martin for bringing Memorygirl's thread to the masses.

    I've sat here for the last hour reading your thread, with a tear in my eye and a smile on my face. What a thrilling and inspirational thread. As Ginger would say "Girl Power". Look forward to your future exploits!! Good Luck.

    • Barks100
    • By Barks100 29th Jun 08, 9:15 AM
    • 138 Posts
    • 1,406 Thanks
    Hi MemoryGirl

    Reallyenjoying the thread. You are such an inspiration to us all. You are so positive even when things are not going right for you. Keep up the thread as it's a real pleasure to read what you have to say. So readable!
  • MadMac
    Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall made elderflower wine on the last of his recent River Cottage series and made it look so easy, I'll definitely be keeping a eye out for elderflowers in the countryside.

    Picked up some very reduced strawberries last night and have spent the morning making strawberry jam. A few presents sorted for this month then - and only £1 spent!
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