App review: Job spotter

Do you ever see a shop with a ‘Help wanted’ sign in the window? That sign is worth money, as the app, ‘Job Spotter’ will pay you to take photos and upload them.

When you spot a help wanted sign, you need to log into the app. This is a bit of a pain, as it would be good if you take the photos and upload them later, but anyway. Once inside the app, you’re required to take a photo of the help wanted sign and then one of the front of the business. Then you submit it. 

After either no time at all, or days and days later (it’s not been consistent) you’ll be paid in points that you can redeem as an Amazon gift card. I’ve never totally got how they calculate the exact number of points paid, but you get more points for small businesses, named job positions, and good photographs. 

So far, I really like the app. It just sits on my homepage until needed, and then when I’m wandering around the town and I see a help wanted sign I fire it up. It’s very easy and I imagine if you were often in the city centre you would rack up points very quickly. I’ve gone right off Amazon recently, so I wish you could opt to be paid into PayPal instead, but it doesn’t matter. I like to think of each job spotted that I’m paid for as loose change, that will add up for little work. I think its a great idea.

You can download the app in the play store.

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Let’s talk about Muscle Food

I’m a member of a Facebook page called ‘feed yourself for £1 a day’ and time and again they recommended Muscle Food for being good value, especially when they had a good offer on.
I never thought much about it because I assumed that it wasn’t available in Northern Ireland. Then, when the UPS guy was dropping off a delivery, I noticed a Muscle Foods parcel in the van. Being observant/ nosey can pay off now and again.

So, onto their website I went. 

And they did have an offer on. They were offering a fresh summer meats selection, reduced from £91.65 to £50. Sounded good, right? But for me the test is how much extra it is delivery to Northern Ireland. A quick search surprised me: there were no additional postage charges to Northern Ireland. 

What’s more, according to their website the delivery would normally arrive 24 hours after being picked and packed.

So I went ahead and made my order. It let me chose the day I wanted. Tuesday would have been the soonest order, but Wednesday suited me better. I selected this option. 

Then I received this email:

A bit of a pain in the bum, considering if I’d known I would have ordered for the Tuesday, but hey ho. And the extra ice packs were a good touch.

The order, by the way, is delivered by DPD, and upon placing your order you can opt for like a upgrade to the courier service meaning they’ll send you extra texts to keep you updated on your order. Save your money, you get texts anyway giving you an hour or so notice of when your order would arrive. That’s much more accuracy than most couriers would give. And if you’re not in, they’ll leave it somewhere safe.

When my order arrived, I was so excited to see how it would all go. I signed for the courier, took the box straight into the kitchen and opened it.

Muscle Food meat comes chilled, not frozen and they have a patented system that should keep food chilled for 72hours.

But, when I opened it, the contents felt warm to the touch. I got my candy thermometer and put it into the packet of chicken and it was over 12C. 

I’m not a fan of food waste, but I’m also not a fan of food poisoning. I froze everything to get its temperature down, and then emailed Muscle food to ask what I should do. I must admit that I felt nervous that they wouldn’t believe me, or would think that I was some sort of chancer. But the customer service was very good- they asked me some questions and then said that a repeat delivery was on its way. It was very sad to have to throw £80 odd worth of meat in the bin but rather that than giving myself salmonella.

It was a very warm day the day my delivery arrived. Perhaps even with Muscle Food’s special cooling packaging, the trip to Northern Ireland was too long.

Take 2

The next Wednesday the repeat delivery arrived. I hadn’t been there to sign for it, so I was a bit worried that after having sat on my doorstep for two hours it would be too warm, just like last time.

The box looked a little damaged in the bottom corner, but all looked good when I opened it.

Once unpacked, it looked something like this:

That’s a lot of meat. 

(That’s what she said)

I split the big bags of chicken up into bags of 2- just the perfect size between 2 adults and 2 little ones. Everything, except the rump steaks went into the freezer straight away. 

These, I cooked on the ol’ George Foreman grill for dinner, medium rare with a bit of pepper sauce and they were awesome. 

Don’t be put of by the company name if you’re not an elite athlete, because- and I know this may come as a surprise- I’m not. Yes, they do packages for building muscle, and special things like high protein pizza, but this is just good meat, no fillers, no crap and it’s cheaper than in the supermarket, particularly if you catch a good offer. 

For example, the chicken in my order was £4.80 a kilo, while the cheapest from tesco is £5.79 (the cheapest comparable, not the cheapest which are full of fillers). And this one has won awards, so even better.

They also have things which you won’t find for sale in the supermarket in their exotic selection, such as ostrich, crocodile and horse (you were eating it before without realising anyway!).

Conclusion

I was impressed by my order at Muscle Food: first of all was great value meat, then the fact that the delivery to Northern Ireland was free with my order was great. Next, the customer service was fantastic and finally the food has been delicious so far. 

I recently discovered that I have insulin resistance, meaning that carbs are not my friend, but healthy fats and proteins are. I’ll definitely be returning to Muscle food in the future to try some of their other products- particularly when they have a good offer on!

If you would like to try Muscle Food, I have a referral code that will give you a free gift, as well as giving me money off my next order (currently £5). 

My referral code is LC653360

Ask and you will receive

Just a wee quick post tonight. 

A week or so ago I put a post on my trashnothing if anyone ever had fruit trees that produced more than they used and if I could pick the surplus. So far I’ve one picking (for want of a word) lined up, and I’ll ask again soon. 

Yesterday I saw a post giving away Gooseberries. This is kind for two reasons:

  1. They’re tasty and plentiful
  2. Gooseberries have nasty thorns. The offerer had done the hard work of picking them for me.
This is only a small part of the gooseberries

I was visiting my sister yesterday too, so I gave her half of the gooseberry bounty. Y’know, what goes around and all that.

I don’t know what I’ll make with these wee berries just yet. The Freegler suggested jam. I’m avoiding sugar right now, so I’ll have a think and let you know.

Rethinking second-hand stuff. Charity shops

So I know that we all prefer for our belongings to be shiny and new-of course we do- but that doesn’t mean that ‘second-hand’ or ‘preloved’ are dirty words.
It’s always a good idea to have a look and see how the price of new compares to the price of second-hand. So let’s discuss charity shops.

When I was little, I was mortified when my mum dragged me into a charity shop. If anyone from school would have seen me going in, I would have died on the spot. Now I get it.

Yes, charity shops are a place where people send their unwanted goods, and yes they do get a lot of crap, but they also get a lot of good things. When prices are a fraction of what you would pay new, it’s worth a go. So let’s leave the ego at the door and delve in.

Kid’s clothes

Kid’s grow really fast, and the younger they are the faster they grow. This invariably means that unless people are planning for more kids and are holding on to baby clothes, they’re going to be offloading a tonne of clothes every year, most with minimal wear. Don’t be afraid to have a look.

This was brand new with tags. It cost £22 new. It cost me £1

I would highly recommend the Homestart shop on Ann Street in Ards for kids clothes. They have good stuff and it’s well laid out, so you can easily find a bargain.

Prams

Brand new prams are expensive. The pram we liked in Mothercare was £600. Charity shops sell them for less than £80 or so. My mum picked up a gorgeous double buggy for me in Newtownards. It needed a damn good clean, but now it looks almost brand new. Brand new it would have cost about £300. It didn’t cost a tenth of that.

Shoes

Ok, ok. Be careful with shoes. You only get one pair of feet in your life so don’t go mistreating them. Every individual wears shoes in a different way (that’s how police can identify a criminal from shoeprints) so wearing a well worn pair of shoes is a bad idea. That said, it’s easy to see if a pair of shoes are at the end of their lives. Many people donate shoes without ever wearing them- they get the size wrong or don’t go to the event they were bought for- so don’t be afraid to take a look.

These cute shoes from my local Concern shop had to be snapped up! Ignore the white fleck on the toe, that was a petal I didn’t see when I snapped the photo
Look inside, there’s no sign of these being worn and they’re genuine leather
No wear to the soles at all. And they’re M&S
And this was the princely price I had to pay for them.

DVDs and books
You can pick up DVDs and books for pennies. Buy them, watch them and donate them back.

Furniture

There are charity shops that specialize in furniture, such as the one near the top of Ormeau road (Concern, I think) or the Re:store shop in Connswater shopping centre. These are great if you are starting out or if you’re into upcycling. There’s also an Aladdin’s cave in the Balloo industrial estate in Bangor, but I can’t remember what it is. I’ll find out and get back to you.

New items

I’m sure it’s true for many charity shops, but I’ve noticed it most in Oxfam. Shops donate tonnes of unsold seasonal goods to clear space for new stuff. Generally, there will be 4 or 5 of an item in various sizes.

Some good tips

  • Shop in affluent areas, such as Hollywood and Bangor. You might have to pay a little more, but you’ll find more brand names in these shops.
  • Shop in poorer areas too. The prices tend to be better. Larne, for example, is fantastic value.
  • If buying shoes and the shop keeps one behind the counter, check both before you buy- they are likely to have put the nicest one on display.
  • Pop in once a week or so to see what’s on sale. There’s a fast turnover so the goods change often. It’s been suggested that Tuesdays are a good day to go as the stores will have sorted the goods donated at the weekend.

Trash nothing

Have you heard of freegle or freecycle? If not, don’t worry. Now it’s Trash nothing that you want. 

Every day hundreds of usable objects- things that have taken natural resources to make- are thrown in the bin. Furniture, electronics, toys, things that could be given another chance at life, are discarded. The idea of Freecycle and Freegle is to bring the givers and the needers together.

Trash nothing is an interface that brings together freegle and freecycle into the same place to make it easier to give and receive. 

Having just typed in my postcode on the app, I can see that there are 20 groups (sorted into areas) that I could subscribe to. Whilst the Belfast group is the largest, you should be able to find a group nearby.

I have joined 4 nearby groups, giving me a large pool of trashnothing-ers to interact with.
We’ve never got anything too big on trashnothing, because honestly, I don’t want to be greedy, though we once got given a lovely antique sideboard that we upcycled and a leather armchair that I used as a breastfeeding chair. Those both would have been worth something.

We did save a clean fortune once thanks to trashnothing. We’d ripped up a pile of decking in our back garden. To get a skip in Belfast of the size we needed would have cost about £200, so instead, I advertised the wood on trashnothing. We got about 6 takers in the end. A couple of people picked through the pile for the good bits to make planters, the rest went to people who wanted it as firewood. It took a while, but every bit of its gone. We’re happy because we saved money, and we made 6 other people happy to. 

What’s not to love?

Kantar TNS postal panels team

Sometimes when I start to write a blog post I stop and go, “should I tell people about this? It’ll be competition for me.” This is one of those times, but we’ll plough on.

I’ve been a member of the Kantar postal panel for a little while and just today I got an email from them saying they are looking for new panellists. Particularly those over 65.

Kantar describe themselves as, “Kantar: home to the world’s leading research, data and insight companies.” I don’t know about that. But I do know that they’ve been sending me one4all vouchers for the past few months for really, not a lot of work. 

The campaign I’ve been involved with asks you to take photos of all of the post (including any flyers etc) that arrives at your house. The next week you’ll need to tell them what you did with that post. Each month I get £10 of vouchers that can be spent at tons of stores (many not available in Northern Ireland, but never mind) including Amazon and Toys’R’us. I believe that there will be lots of different surveys, depending on Kantar’s need.

Please note that I signed up to Kantar about 4 months before I heard from them, so if you don’t get on a panel immediately, don’t panic.

I’m a very cautious person when it comes to signing up to anything where people get my details. I found out about Kantar through Moneysavingexpert and then did some research to make sure they were legimate. Please do your own research, rather than just taking my word for it. The BelfastBudgetBlog recommends being skeptical of things that promise to give you money.

If you decide this panel might be something you’re interested in please click here

Please note, I’m not getting any reward out of spreading the word, so if you find it useful, say hi in the comments.

App review: Shopmium

A little while ago I reviewed a cashback app called checkoutsmart that gives you moneyback on selected items at shops and supermarkets. I’ve been road testing another one for a little while and now I’m ready to review it. 

This app is called Shopmium. Like Checkoutsmart, it shows you a selection of items that you can get for free or at a discount. You purchase them then take photos of your receipt and scan the barcode. Unlike Checkoutsmart you get paid into your paypal account as soon as your purchase is verified.

The major drawback of this app is that very often they will show you items that aren’t available in Northern Ireland because they are only on offer at Waitrose or Morrisons, or they simply aren’t carried by our supermarkets. When you do find an item though it’s like finding a prize in a treasure hunt. In a similar way as with Checkoutsmart, you’re much more likely to find the product if its a bigger brand name.

One more thing to tell you about is the ‘refer a friend’ section. If you sign up using my referral code ACKGKFCK (see below). You’ll get an extra freebie, and -full disclosure- I’ll get a reward too. Once you’ve signed up using my referral code, there’s nothing to stop you referring your friends and collecting rewards too!

Bank of Ireland open farm weekend 


On the 17th and 18th June a number of working farms across Northern Ireland opened their doors to the public. And it’s a free event, so it’s always worth a try.

My sister had invited me two years ago when DD1 was about 2 months old, but we figured that taking such a young wee thing along wasn’t the best idea. This year we thought we’d give it a go.

Saturday was busy for us with a morning trip to Hillmount for some free ice cream and then a church fete, so we tagged along on Sunday morning.

Foote’s farm on the Moira road had never taken part in the open weekend before, and as we were newbies too it seemed fitting that we went to this one.

Foote’s farm rear chickens for Moy Park, and although the part that we coukd visit was small, they’d done a lot with it. We were able to look inside one of the big poultry barns, see a lot of farm equipment old and new, hold a 8 day chick (my kid loved this) and there was also this:

How could we resist? 3 please.

We got to sample strawberries, cherry tomatoes, fruit drinks and crisps.

My little girl had a great time playing with the peddle cars and peddle tractors. There was a man dressed as a scarecrow that she didn’t like unfortunately, but the other kids seemed to be having a whale of a time with him.

It was a short and sweet outing, but it was great fun. Next year we’ll try a different farm and report back. It was a great free day out for the kids. We’ve also entered a couple of free competitions, so here’s hoping.

Wild cherries. Get them before the birds do

I was out walking today, and I’ve noticed that the wild cherries are ripe (and quite delicious).

You can see a few in the photograph below in amongst the leaves. They look, basically identical to those you would buy in the shops, but nowhere near as fat. These little cherries go purpleish red when ready.

I plan, if I get a chance, to take a wander down the Comber greenway tomorrow and see if I can get some more than the couple I grabbed today.

These wee cherries grow everywhere, you just have to keep your eyes open for them. I’ve also noticed them around the Stormont estate, along Bangor seafront, and pretty much everywhere in Newcastle. I’ve never really managed to collect them in great numbers- just a few here and there to snack on, though I’d love to get enough to make a liqueur.

The problem with these cherries, is now that they’re ready, there will be a lot of competition for them. The trees in my work each year are covered with cherries, and every year the birds get to them just before I do. I’ll see if I can have any more luck this year.

DIY haircut

I’ve been cutting my husband’s hair for about 6 years now.

I was doing the sums and I reckon that mean’s I’ve saved us over £500 in that time. As well as that, having the skill meant that I’ve been able to cut his hair at very short notice, like when he needed a haircut one evening before going to a funeral the next day. It’s also easy to get his hair cut in the evening after the girls are in bed, rather than rushing to try and slot it in during the working day or at the weekend.

The first time I cut his hair, it actually went ok, but I was so worried that I’d make a mess I kept it longer than I would have liked, meaning that a barber would be able to fix it if it all went wrong. I remember that it took forever, using a pair of scissors that weren’t specifically for hair, but it turned out alright, and I’ve been doing it ever since.

After that, I upgraded to a pair of hairdressers scissors. It was faster, especially as I got better at what I was doing. I still use those for tidying up around the ears and around the base of the neck.

Braun hairclippers that my husband got free for a review

 

Most recently, my husband got a free Braun beard and hair trimmer (AKA clippers) in return for a review, and I gave that a go. Like the first time I cut his hair, I purposely kept it as long as I could, just in case I had to fix it, or get someone else to fix it.

I have to say, using a trimmer like the one that I had made it a breeze. I cut the majority of it using the longest setting, then switched to a shorter setting for the sideburns. The top I kept long in his normal style.

There are a ton of YouTube videos on hair cutting that will do a better job of explaining the actual ins and outs of particular styles.

Don’t be afraid to give it a go. But remember these tips:

  • Get the right tools for the job
  • Keep the haircuts longer until you’ve got the confidence and experience to get it shorter.
  • If you have anyone with experience of cutting hair, why not ask for some pointers.

 

Have you ever tried cutting someone’s hair? How did it go?