The Grocery Spending Spreadsheet

This is month 5 of The Year Of Buying Nothing. Inspired by An Exacting Life, I’ve now been tracking our grocery spending via spreadsheet for four months. It is past time to give you an update. I wrote about it initially here.

Line Items

Each item we purchase gets a line. Aldi gives each of their items a 4-6 digit number which appears on the receipt, that makes life SO easy for us. We’ve had to make up our own numbers for the Coles items. After 4 months of shopping, I can now say how many lines we buy from each of these stores. It is far less than I imagined it would be, especially from Coles.

It is important to note that this number is constantly changing – each shop may add up to 10 new items at Aldi or 3-4 at Coles. Also we keep note of identical items and the price we paid for those. When an item is the same brand just a different size, that gets a new line, eg Manning Valley eggs account for 3 Coles line items because they are available in 3 different sizes (600g, 700g, 800g) at 3 different prices.

Line Items Coles = 55

Of the 55 items we buy from Coles, 9 of these are non-food eg patty pans, deodorant when it was on super special, or baking paper in a size we cannot buy at Aldi.

I can now state that 16 of the items are “junk” foods. When I say that I specifically mean highly processed bad foods that we really should not eat like “twisties” and “french fries”. Some of those are items I personally do not eat, like Cinnamon Doughnuts. The Other Half likes those, it is his fortnightly treat, some of them go to work with him the days after we shop which gives me a couple of days to bake his cinnamon muffins or his from-scratch low sodium biscuits.

2 of the line items from Coles are potatoes when they were cheaper at Coles. 4 of the line items from Coles are tea or coffee related. 2 of the line items are chicken treats – yoghurt and mealworms. 3 of the line items are Manning Valley eggs.

Line Items Aldi = 143

Of the 143 items, 18 are non food eg deodorant, shampoo, toilet roll, tissues, even reed diffusers. Aldi make a fantastic reed diffuser FYI – we love the coconut and mango one, it smells amazing.

Only 14 of the 143 items are things I would consider to be “junk” foods.

32 of the line items are fresh fruits and vegetables.

18 items are dairy eg cheese, butter, cream. 8 of the items are meat/chicken/fish.

How Does It Work?

Each week before we shop, I create the new pages for that shopping trip. Each shop at each store gets a page in the spreadsheet.

It is fairly simple – you have to copy the blank spreadsheet page and give it a new name. But I have from time to time messed it up and left it on move instead of copy. Lesson has been learned, I am very strict about selecting copy now!

Once we have done the shopping, I sit down with the receipt and enter in all the item numbers first, when I hit enter it pulls the description from the lookup sheet then goes to the next line so I can put in the next item number.

Once all the items have been entered, I move across and add in the prices, then the quantities. Most of the time the quantity will be 1, but in cases where it is $ per kg, I enter the amount purchased and the spreadsheet does the maths for me.

When I’m done listing the items we purchased, I add in the CC surcharge in and make sure the total amount matches the receipt. I have the Coles Mastercard and thus anything I spend earns me flybuys points. It does add up over the course of the year, so that is the main card I use now.

The Coles spreadsheet is slightly different – as I do not get charged a surcharge for credit card there, we have added a field where I can minus the $10 flybuys discount we use from time to time. This will allow me to track when we do this and how much it saves us over the course of the year.

How Does This Spreadsheet Help Me?

I am more familiar with the pricing of items overall thanks to this spreadsheet. That is mainly because I am the one entering all the data. We were out at dinner recently and someone was talking about an item and I was able to name what we last paid for it off the top of my head.

I can spot mistakes easily and go back for a refund, as I did in month three – “Aldi had weighed our one lot of sweet potatoes twice, and charged us twice for them. We only bought one lot of sweet potatoes. I am not normally someone who asks for a refund but it was nearly $10, so I took the receipt in and explained what happened. They gave me a refund.”

That event taught me to stand in a particular spot and watch as we check out, so I can spot any mis-keys and prevent us buying 2.5kg of red capsicum when I purposely chose green because it was cheaper, or accidental double ups like above.

We are far more conscious about how much we buy and how much we use. We have a good idea of the base number of items we need each fortnight so that we do not run out of essentials like milk or toilet paper.

There is less food wastage than ever before in our kitchen. Part of that is due to freezing more items – in particular mushrooms.

We are better able to purchase items on special and bulk process and freeze them. Last fortnight I bought 2kg of mushrooms on special at $3.99, part cooked them and froze 7 packets, which will give me 7 weeks of pizza mushrooms. If they are on special again in the meantime, I will buy more and process them. In the meantime I can enjoy not having to buy them for $4.99.

This spreadsheet has been extremely useful for us and I cannot imagine we would stop doing this.

What Next?

The Spreadsheet Maestro has already begun creating useful ways to look at the data we are collecting. At the end of the year we will have a lot of data to play with and it will be interesting to see exactly where our grocery shopping dollar goes.

Aldi keep adding more products to their range meaning we have less to buy at Coles – just recently they added lactose free yoghurt. It would be fantastic to be able to do all our shopping in one place, however I think the reality will always be as it is now, most of the shop at Aldi with just a few items from Coles.

If you would like a copy of the spreadsheet with all the Aldi line items let me know in the comments and I will email it to you. I will take out all the Coles data and also all our shops.

2018yobn, spreadsheets

Things I Did Not Buy April

In April I did not buy an item of food. At Christmas we had family and friends over, and one of them brought a double cream Brie by Castello. I’d not eaten any cheese at all in over 6 months but planned to cheese board it up on Christmas Day, so I had heaps of cheese already available.

The brie went into the fridge where it stayed until mid-February, when we had family and friends around again and I thought I would use up the left over cheese. And wow. WOW. That cheese was amazing, probably the best cheese I have ever eaten in my lifetime.

So at our second April shop, I thought maybe I would buy one of these. I went to pick it up from the fridge but was stopped by the price – it was $7.40 at the time. Err, no thanks, that will blow our budget and it is a tiny amount of cheese for that price. I gave the cheaper Aldi version ($4.99 for 200g) a try at our first May shop. I think it tastes just as good.

The one reason I was going to break my self enforced cheese abstinence was that I had some Beerenberg quince paste to go along with it. I am only a recent soft cheese and quince paste convert and I think it is lucky that I have given up cheese for the most part, with only an occasional cheese eating, otherwise I would like this for a snack every day. I’d like to do a brie & quince paste chicken kiev sometime. Maybe with the strawberry and champagne paste pot.

If this were not cold shoulder I might have been tempted, just look at that gorgeous print! They are lovely and long, too. Why, designers, WHY?

Last winter I got very cold due to my thyroid issues. I mostly survived thanks to hoodies, beanies, gloves, scarves and these Ghanda crew neck long sleeve fleece jumpers. I had one in this same shade of pink and one in blue for around the house wear, and they are looking pretty ratty. I am thinking about replacing them but I might have to go in store and see if they have anything different this year. Sometimes they do not put everything on the website.

OMG TVSN WTFBBQ!!!!Q!QQ!! This is the worst thing you have ever done to me. Long sleeve tops that have some sparkle, length and a decent neck line? If this was not The Year Of Buying Nothing, I would have been tempted to purchase this top in all four colours.

And I would purchase this top in both colours. While I am not a big fan of the V-neck, I do love a stripe, plus it has sequins. If you have been looking for this kind of top maybe you can head over and grab it if they have it in your size.

2018yobn, TVSN

The Studio Audience

While surfing The Facebook in early May, I happened upon a post from Gruen a mere 2 minutes after it was posted about getting tickets to be in the studio audience. I clicked on it and was surprised to find 2 tickets now on hold for me. I never wrote here about our last visit to view a Gruen taping. That was many years ago now, I believe 2010 or 2011.

Being a member of a studio audience sounds like it would be fun but it is actually hard work. You have to clap, a lot, till your hands are red. You will laugh and cheer a lot. You will get to see more content than will appear on air and behind the scenes stuff happening right in front of you, there is also the chance that you will appear on the teevee as a surprise to yourself.

You can’t take me anywhere, though. It turns out I became a member of a “terrible audience”. :) Of course the night we went was this night.. OF COURSE. As always there is far more to the story and there are some outright untruths in that article.

For us it started with a Tuesday drive down to Sydney during “school” drive time, which can be a bit of a nightmare in itself. Our GPS had us arriving at 5:39 and we are supposed to be there at 5:45. Luckily I had emailed someone from the show letting them know we were coming from far away. They put tickets aside for us. Whew.

It is not that far to drive but apparently the GPS thought it would take us 30 minutes to travel the last 5km, and the GPS was actually right. If you are like me and quite used to the GPS over-estimating your arrival time, I think they have fixed that small problem because the arrival time was spot on. The Other Half dropped me off so he could go and park the car, and once I got there I found a long queue to go through security, so I messaged him to take his time.

I am a big planner of things like this, down to where we will park the car and checking to make sure they will be open – we parked in the carpark attached to Market City which is 24/7. We also had planned food options, and this was a planned spend day for us. But on the way up we discovered they were closing the highway to get home that night.

So that was a surprise. At least we would not have to go miles out of our way, the old Princes Highway runs pretty much alongside the new one. We made our way through security and then received our tickets which were priority seating, and that meant we got to go sit on some lovely couches and wait to be called into the studio first.

We picked some seats right on the aisle, and settled in to watch the goings on. Note there is an entire section of seating where they cannot see the taping – they get to watch it on a tv screen. That is where we sat last time, and that is where you get placed if you arrive late, unless you got in touch and made arrangements which they do for people from out of town plus the disabled.

I’d taken a poncho because studios can be cold and I wore it like a knee rug, tucking it in. There was point where I wished I’d folded it up and sat on it. The seats are not very comfortable. BYO cushion, folks, if they will let it through security that is.

The “warm up guy” for Gruen and a few other ABC shows is Tommy Dean, who I find super hilarious. He road tested the audience, and despite all the noise we were making, we could still hear him. Take note of this point, it will become important later. Tommy had a proper microphone.

Then Wil Anderson comes out and warms up the crowd a bit. Though this does not always go quite as planned, and I am shocked that the “audience member” did not mention the little girl who was crying as he was talking to that side of the audience. I guess they could not blame that on Wil, or maybe they were keeping it secret for a spicy followup.

I’m not sure why she was crying, but the crew checked in on her and she was fine. I’m also not sure how she got in the audience as the minimum age is 15 and this was a girl of 6 or 7. It might have been all the swear words Wil was using. But note to folks, Wil does swear.

Wil explains a little bit about how things will be done, and then introduces the panel, and they all sit down and the show starts. This is where things began to go wrong, though none of us knew it at the time and it was not until after the taping when The Other Half and I sat down to dinner that we figured out the problem – none of us could hear the panel over ourselves. If we laughed or clapped or reacted, all we saw was mouths moving and we could not hear what was being said.

Once the audience caught on to this, things got very quiet. Everyone wanted to *hear* what the panel was saying. Nobody thought to say to the nearby crew – are we meant to be able to hear them talking? We had no trouble hearing the panel last time we were here.

So after the first part of the show, Wil spoke to us all and basically said we were a shit audience and he needed more energy – I assumed comedy and he was trying to get us to fire up, not have a go at us, but there were some delicate snowflakes behind us who were so offended, they started bitching about Wil right away.

While they were bitching, a member of the audience (clearly to my mind a fan of Wil) started heckling Wil about how they should replace him with the host of Spicks and Specks, Adam Hills. They went back and forth a bit and that is what Wil was saying f*** off to, not as claimed in the article.

Anyway his speech did work, it did fire up the audience, but for the rest of the show none of us could hear what was being said when we were laughing and clapping. It wasn’t until I watched the show that I got to hear some of the jokes. There was a point where Tommy was talking to the panel, and we could clearly hear Tommy but not the panel. The last time we went, we had no trouble hearing. So I suspect there was a sound problem.

I would have continued to assume comedy if Wil had not made those comments on radio the next day. I had already sent a thank you email to the Gruen staff member who helped us out with the tickets and I had mentioned the sound problem in that email. I did not expect this meltdown story to be the headline news story on news.com.au after the show aired that night.

I am pretty sure the “audience member” was sitting right behind us because they were very vocal about their displeasure – though I did not notice it at the time. I was focused so hard on listening to the panel. The Other Half told me what the people behind us were saying at dinner. And speaking of dinner.. we went to Fusion 16, where The Other Half had a gorgeous steak with INCREDIBLE chips, and I had a delicious chicken and mushroom risotto.

Then we got in the car and drove home, arriving just after 12:30am. It was a long day out, but we enjoyed it, for the most part. I just wish we had been able to hear the panel better. The show is taped on Tuesday and airs on Wednesday night. If you are in Australia you can still catch this episode on iView for a little bit longer, and if you are not from Australia, I believe you can see a short 3 minute clip from the show on Twitter here.

Total spend for this day was $77, that was dinner @66 and parking @11 which is incredibly reasonable for Sydney, especially as we were parked there for almost 5 hours. Market City is also the location of Paddys Market and we have parked there quite a few times, it is not very far to walk to Darling Harbour from here nor is it very long walk to the “main” shopping strip of Sydney, about 1.5km.

As Tommy Dean said in his warm up, it is much easier to watch tv at home. Even so, I would recommend going to a show taping at least once in your lifetime. :) Have you ever been to one? Would you go? If you could go to sit in the studio audience of any show, which one would it be?

television shows

Sun Trap

If you are looking for some weekend reading, I am finding the North Korea trip of Dancing With Frogs incredibly fascinating so you might want to drop over and check it out. North Korea is not somewhere I would have considered travelling but after reading this I would, now.

I am also loving the trip of Kay from Musings, who is blogging about one of those river cruises through Europe which you always see advertised on teevee here for seemingly obscene amounts of money. :)

country life

Black Box Review

For those of us who like receiving free samples of things, Black Box is a new FREE sample box service. I first heard about it via Sydney Shop Girl, and I signed up right away. It was not long before my first box arrived.

It was super exciting to unpack everything and see what is inside. I find I tend to get into a rut of using the same products over and over and it is awesome to try new things without having to lay out any $$. We have found some of our most favourite products thanks to samples – most notably my deodorant and Fairy Platinum which we are die hard fans of these days but never would have tried without a sample.

So what do we have here? Lavazza instant coffee, Vitasoy Coconut Milky, Mist Wood Gin with orange and bitters, Twinings Morning Tea, Fairy Platinum dishwasher tablets, Ryvita thins in cheddar and black pepper flavour.

We’re not instant coffee users for the most part but The Other Half does use it when camping and at work. We LOVE Lavazza coffee beans but they are Up Money so we don’t tend to buy them very often. This coffee is a nice compromise and they did not send a sample size. This is the full size product you can buy for $10.99 at Coles though it was $4.99 on special there last week. That is when I would likely buy it..

This coffee has a great flavour, very dark and intense which is how I love my coffee. I like this better than any instant coffee I have tried before and I have tried a lot of them. We buy 1kg of dark coffee beans from Aldi for $11.49 and that keeps us going coffee wise for quite some time – we get 100 cups of coffee out of 1kg of beans. If you instant and you like it dark, I think you would like this, especially if you can get it on special.

I’m already a big buyer of Vitasoy products – in general we buy something like 5 litres of soy milk and 3-4 litres of almond milk each fortnight – overall I prefer using the products that one keeps in the fridge. It is very handy to have things like this UHT version in the cupboard as long as I remember to use them every now and then. I tend to use these UHT milks for cooking if we are running low on fridge milk.

It is unusual for me to receive alcohol products in a box like this, but to be honest this is the only way a product like this has a chance of getting on my radar. I am not a big drinker of alcohol at all and I have never tried gin before. I may have an occasional lemon, lime and bitters if we go out – mainly because I like the bitters – and once in a blue moon I might drink a vodka cruiser of some kind, usually a cheaper Aldi version.

I made sure to open this when The Other Half was here firstly because I have no idea how to open this kind of bottle and secondly so he could try it. The verdict was surprising to both of us. We quite liked it. I’m not especially surprised that I liked it – except gin – because on reading the label the number one ingredient is my most favourite thing – sparkling mineral water. But that The Other Half liked it? That was a shock.

The best thing about this drink was that it was very “dry” and not sweet at all to my tastebuds. I mostly drink mineral water because I find everything else far too sweet now. I will sometimes drink ginger beer, maybe once a month or so.

I found the Nivea firming body oil to be fantastic and I will definitely be buying this when I see it on a decent special because $16.45 is up money BUT having said that I got several applications from the 8g sample size so I suspect value for money is high here. I hated trying to use it out of these sachets. I made a heck of a mess each time.

If I’m going to have tuna for dinner it will likely be a pasta bake or tuna mornay. This was tasty but not something I would be likely to buy on the regular.

During winter we usually have a cup of tea around 9pm. We usually drink Twinings for that cup of tea – Assam Bold is our choice. But I also sometimes have Nerada Chai. I wasn’t a huge fan of this new morning tea flavour but I could not put my finger on exactly why. I’m glad to have tried it and now I know it is not for me.

The Fairy Platinum went straight into the dishwasher tablets container, joining 100 or so of their friends. Why do I like them so much? Not only do they clean the dishes beautifully but they clean the dishwasher as well. Squeaky clean. Like it will actually squeak.

I like the idea of a flatbread so I was excited to receive these Ryvita ones. However the execution was far too peppery for me. And I LIKE pepper a lot.

I have already received an email from Black Box saying my next box is on the way, so I will be excited to see what arrives! Everybody likes free samples so if you are in Australia or New Zealand you might want to sign up to receive your own box.

I used to be a member of PinchME and I received quite a lot of samples via that format. However that site now does not exist in the format that it once did, and I have no idea what it is meant to be now.

Black Box, reviews

The Winter Knit

Every autumn, I kick off the yearly knitwear search. I traditionally buy one piece of knitwear to add to my wardrobe and that is the one I wear for that year. This year I am taking a break from this tradition due to my Year Of Buying Nothing challenge. But I thought I could still have the fun of making a small collection of knits I would go and look at if I were in the market for one. Maybe one of my readers is looking for a new one?

Just be aware, I have absolutely no idea if the prices will remain the same as when I took the screenshots, so I have provided links to each item and you can click through and check the current price. These are not affiliate links and I do not earn anything for linking, just so you know. :)

I find Rivers to be a somewhat reliable source of knitwear. Last year I bought the Rivers Edge to Edge cardigan in cobalt blue and also in a lovely shade of teal seen above. You can get this in several different colours including black. This is very reasonably priced at $21.00.

You can also get the Edge to Edge cardigan in a long line version with pockets, shown here in the gorgeous cobalt blue – they call it ink marle.. That is a lot of knit for $24.50! If you prefer a chunky knit, you might like the Fisherman Rib Coatigan.

This Metallic V-Neck might be awesome and I would be tempted if it were available in a darker shade. They have silver and baby pink, neither of which are very me.

Another semi-reliable Snoskred source of knitwear is Millers – though their clothes can skew very Miss Marple Solves A Murder While Knitting Something New, AKA fluffy.

I had a look through their website and only liked this one thing, which I had seen on their ad. Though I suspect it would either be fabulous or NOT great in person. I don’t love the colour but I do like that it has some sparkly.

It may be a little early in the season because they only have one poncho in “neutral” which I strongly dislike. I love a poncho generally.

Rockmans is one other place I visit for knitwear.

I love this knit because it is in the “mixed media” style, but I hate the colours. It also seems to be on the thin side overall, which isn’t a huge problem but sometimes that kind of knit shows every lump and bump on your body.

UPDATE TO ADD: I was going past a Rockmans yesterday and I dropped in to take a look at this jumper. It was HIDEOUS as were 99% of the other knits they had in store. I can’t even describe how bad it was. Just so, so BAD! The “wool” looked like the cheapest possible yarn which you would get from a $2 store for .25 cents. Ew.

While at Rockmans I spotted this scarf which is completely me. I would never pay this amount for it, but I can keep an eye on it and grab it when it is on super special.

This has been a useful exercise for me because while I love all of these knits – especially the long line cardi in blue – I do not need to buy any of them. Good to know! ;)

I had my skeleton Carter model some of my winter knits back in 2015, and you can enjoy those posts here.

Fashion

Picnic At Hanging Rock

I’m just a bit excited to see this but not for the reasons one might suspect. Sure, I love a costume drama probably more than most people, but that is not why I want to see this.

I have not read the book or seen the original movie and I have no idea what the plot of this is though I think I have gathered some clues.

I want to see this purely because this new 6 part miniseries Picnic at Hanging Rock involves a location I am a bit crazy about – Werribee Mansion. I have never been there myself in person but I have been there forever thanks to one of my all time favourite movies which used this as a filming location – The Pirate Movie.

The mansion looks amazing in the trailer, it makes me want to plan a trip to visit. And one can actually stay there.

I love the song they have used for the trailer, too – it is Confide In Me which was originally performed by Kylie Minogue. I prefer the Kylie version.

The first episode of Picnic At Hanging Rock airs this Sunday on Showcase.

While on the subject of trailers for shows using great music, did you see this one for WestWorld? What a gorgeous piece of music arranged so beautifully, it makes my hair stand on end.

Do you recognise the song?

As an Aspie, I have a bit of a problem recognising music, especially when it has been used for a specific thing previously. The ABC loves to throw pieces of music from other TV shows – like Dexter and Mr Robot – into shows like Four Corners and Australian Story. They use one particular piece from Breaking Bad quite often but I can only ever see one set of images when I hear it, and the images look like this –

For those who have seen Breaking Bad, you know the significance of that moment and what is about to happen. So you can understand how disconcerting it is to be watching a documentary and have that music thrown randomly into it.

If you haven’t seen it by now you probably won’t, but I am firmly of the opinion that you should. I believe it is a great show, so much so I wrote a whole blog about it.

Foxtel, television shows

Year Of Buying Nothing Update #4

Nothing was required, so nothing was purchased. YAY. Our record thus far – January, February, April = nothing bought. March = something bought. One out of 4 is not bad, especially when you consider I didn’t go crazy and shop up a storm in the Nay month, I just bought those few things we needed at IKEA then went right back to no-buying.

No Spend Days April

My goal this month was 13 days in a row no spend goal – if not for the TVSN final payment falling on the wrong day I would have achieved 15 days in between spends.

The last entry includes a gift voucher I bought for Mum for Mothers Day, so she can try having her nails done.

No Spend Goals For May

Next month I will try something a bit different – a maximum of one spend day each week. Now that the TVSN payment is completed, I should have absolute control over this. There are 5 weeks in May and I would like to limit my spend days to 4 in total if possible.

I am concerned that I might not have enough warm clothes for winter and may need to make either May or June Nay months instead of Yay months on the no-buy challenge. I did a wardrobe re-organise and washed everything that hasn’t been worn during summer and spring, so we will see how that goes.

Grocery Spending April

Grocery Budget for April = $600

Coles month – $158.35
Aldi month – $425.54
Bulk Chicken $37.85
Total grocery spend – $621.74
Grocery cost of $20.72/day.

We went 21.74 over budget this month thanks to a dishwasher tablet special @37 cents a tablet, we bought 4 bags so hopefully we will not need those again for a while – and bulk chicken on special ($6.99/kg).

Coles tried to tempt us into spending $80 a week for 4 weeks to earn $50 in flybys points. We could not even spend $80 in the first week, even after buying two quite expensive chicken roasts @ $15 each, now on special for $12 of course – which we tried the first fortnight and decided we loved enough to put a couple in the freezer.. they are almost like the Lenards mini roasts we used to buy. The stuffing is delicious, I highly recommend. :)

There was simply not enough of the things we buy on special to add up to $80. We have stocked up on most of our regular buys in past months.

Three of the items I had planned to buy at Coles that week I found at Aldi for a lot less $$. The most notable item being chai spice latte powder. I had planned to buy the Arkadia version at Coles which was on special for $5.20 and found a seemingly identical item at Aldi for $4.49 – they have matcha and turmeric latte powder available there too.

I wanted this to add chai flavour to my lattes and protein shakes. The first ingredient is sugar, and they suggest you use four heaped teaspoons which would be a LOT of sugar. I find one normal teaspoon is usually enough and I replace one of my sugar teaspoons in afternoon coffee with this. What I love most is the star anise flavour in this powder, it is gorgeous and not always present in Chai tea. The powder is great sprinkled on top of milk foam, too.

Grocery Spending Goals For May

We last bought potatoes in bulk on the 15th of March and we are still eating those same potatoes. I’ll make it through this week but we will probably have to buy some on our next shop. I may suggest we head up to Shellharbour and do another bulk buy though there is a big airshow on at Albion Park this weekend which will make getting around a bit troublesome.

We may up the vegetable buying this month as it is time for making winter soups, and I need to get some Vili’s pasties from the bulk shop. We just did a bulk chicken buy of 5kg and that made us 5 x2 packs of Chicken Kiev for the freezer, as well as 4 lots of chicken pieces.

I cooked 68 sausage rolls in one bulk cook, 66 of which went into the freezer. Yes we only ate two! I made “Meat Thing” which is essentially my sausage roll mixture (beef mince, carrot, brussel sprouts, leek, egg, cheese, whizz in the food processor, make into sausage rolls) put into muffin tins without pastry for dinner.

May has 31 days so the grocery budget is $620.

April Thoughts

Happy moments, the Brussels are back at last! I knew they would be appearing soon so I had added them to this months shopping list.

In April we had an incident with the best before date on some thickened cream ending one week into our fortnight, when the thing I had planned to cook with it was in the second week. So now I will write the date of our next shop on each shopping list and we will aim to get milk, cream, and other short life products to expire on/after that date.

2018yobn

Dip Nails

On Wednesday the 28th of March I got my first set of dip nails, also known as SNS nails. It was an interesting experience. This is an acrylic powder which bonds to the nail. It is not acrylic nails as you know them, though. They feel a lot lighter and you don’t do infills, the powder is removed and completely replaced on your next visit, similar to how gel nails are removed.

First of all the manicure overall is less “invasive” – they do not do all the filing, buffing and cuticle paring they normally would. This may be better for the natural nails underneath long term.

After the previous nail polish is removed, a base coat is put on but not your normal base coat, then the nails are dipped into a container full of powder. Surprisingly the powder does not stick to the finger, just to the nails. The finger is tapped gently to remove excess powder. The powder may be coloured and even in some cases sparkly.

Because I chose to have french tips, the white you see here is also powder in a different colour. Only the tips of the nail are dipped in the white powder. Underneath the powder are my own natural nails.

Some thoughts on this manicure –

Thursday 29th – After 24 hours – My nails are a LOT stronger with dip powder on them. Over time having gel nails I have identified times of the day where I have to be more careful – number one being after getting out of the shower. Time in the water does tend to soften both my real nails and the gel polish. That is not the case for dip nails.

Saturday 31st – I am loving this manicure. The one possible downside is if you look very closely you can see dots in the clear area of the nails – so you can actually see the powder. But that is far outweighed by the strength of the nails.

On Sunday the 1st of April planned life changed somewhat with the illness of BeeGee. This actually changed how I live life for the next two weeks. Anytime I touched the chicken, there was a handwashing. I’m a bit more handwashing orientated than your normal person but even I do not usually wash my hands several times an hour unless I am cooking.

Dip nails may work great for people who have their hands in water a lot.

I thought this would be an excellent test of the dip nails and I was right. The best thing about them – during the BeeGee time, I did not even have to think about them, or be concerned that I would break one. I did not baby them at all like I usually might with a normal gel manicure.

They grow out just like the normal gel nails do. This pic is the day before I got them redone, so you can see the gap of regular nail between the dip manicure and the cuticle. This photo does show the dots a little bit better than the previous pic too. You can also see that the white tips have grown out and you can see the normal nail underneath.

When we usually do a french tip manicure, my nail artist will paint the tips artificially a lot lower than they really are, so as the nail grows out you don’t see as much of the normal nail underneath.

I did manage to crack one approximately two weeks into the mani but unlike a regular manicure, this did not mean I had to run off and get it fixed right away. It was only the dip coating that I cracked and not the nail underneath, and the crack did not seem to have any effect on the strength of the nail at all..

After this great experience I decided to get another dip manicure and this time I decided to keep all the length my nails had grown in the past 3 weeks. Removal is done exactly the same way as gel nails – cotton wool soaked in nail polish remover is placed on top of the nail and aluminium foil placed over the top. I found that the powder comes off a lot easier than the gel does, so there is a lot less grinding and scraping.

Two days after having this done I am still on the fence about whether the length is a good decision for me. A week after having this done I am having some trouble doing some things with this length of nail. I’m worried I might not get my full 3-4 weeks out of this manicure due to the length – lesson learned for next time.

I am not especially worried that I will break one – dip nails are pretty incredible strength wise. I’m starting to wonder if it is possible to break them. I think if it could be done I would have managed it by now. I am wondering if one may be more likely to rip ones own nail out of the nail bed rather than break one of these.

I chose to go with a full colour rather than just tips this time. I’m still on the fence about the length of this mani, but we will see how it goes. :)

Manicures, Nail Art