Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Doing

I've seen about the place that folk are choosing a word or concept to carry them through 2014. After not a huge amount of thought mine is going to be something along the lines of "action" or "doing". I seem to have done a lot of planning and talking recently and now is the time to do something too. 

Yesterday I was chatting to someone I know from an exercise forum I used to visit and I swore to her (or myself) that I would not be having the same conversation this time next year as we were having right then. That's all about doing. I am fully equipped but having the right stuff doesn't mean anything if I don't use it.

As for NYE can you believe I have to go to the charity shop. Ha! I am secretly hoping that it's really really quiet, quite the opposite of doing, but I am allowing myself one final day of lazing. 

Best wishes to everyone.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Updated Lists and Choices

I was a bit all over the place before. 

After flip-flopping I decided to use the Christmas gift money to replace the (already replaced) money used to buy clothes last month, so that's packed away in the savings account. 

The January shopping list is shorter now, we don't need a shampoo bar (our shampoo issues are long and tedious) and Dan picked up a pack of wraps for 19p earlier. I don't know if I mentioned it the other day but Father gave me some turnips, so they're hanging up in the garage for whenever I do something with them, Dan can't eat them so it'll be a steam and freeze affair when I have space in the freezer. 

The January grocery list now looks like this - 

bunny veg
onions
mushrooms
leeks
carrots
potatoes
other veg (whatever's cheap or looks good)
bananas
other fruit

milks
sandwich filling

bread
pitta

chilli flakes
butterbeans
passata
cereal (3 boxes)
tea


Countdown to "The Big One"

I've cut out another single use item, toilet cleaner. Recently I bought a bottle of pine disinfectant and when I read the blurb it said it can be used the clean the toilet. Excellent. I'm not usually an anti-bac, disinfectant person but I have the bottle and it's already had a load of use, even if it's not massively eco-friendly. When we were first cutting down on spending I tried all the frugal tips, vinegar and bicarb for cleaning came up all the time. True, they do the job but it's not a cheap way to do it in my experience.

We're totting up our savings targets and things for next year. It's a lot. I'm really happy because our master "to buy" list is pretty short. This list is everything we "need" for the year ahead - clothes, shoes, work stuff, DIY things and all that. The only things on the list this time are the big things, which we know won't happen like a replacement kitchen and flooring for the living area. That's ok. We're planning on a fairly quiet year generally because we have a couple of really big events to attend. 

Dan has also pointed out that this time next year I will be nearly 40. I'm not a bucket list/ 101 places to see before you die type of person but if I want to do something involving a rabbit sitter then it's more likely to be a goer if I'm 40 rather than 39 or 41 (people are more likely to say yes to my request). Dan is doing the sums to see if my big want is a possibility so we shall see. Budget squeezing is going to be even more severe if so, hooray!

Saturday, 28 December 2013

December Groceries Roundup

Today was not a no spend day but it was a "get a few things crossed off the list day". Breaking our normal rule we went to the shops, although it was really, really quiet so it didn't feel like we were at the sales, few people, no queues, no nothing really. 

We used the Christmas gift vouchers and a bit of cash to buy some stuff we were after - craft storage for me , work clothes and new trainers for Dan and a new rug for the buns. Not exciting but there you go, I'd rather use a voucher for a shop I don't usually visit to get these things than to part with my own cash. The quilt storage is very nice too, it's a big bag for me to stash everything in at the end of the day, if it doesn't quite make its way into the cupboard it still looks good in the room. It's massive and very sturdy.

We also bought groceries, we spent £9.92 including a big (reduced) quiche for Dan, it's a very rare treat these days so why not. So we are well over the £90 target, but we already new that. We're just under £128 which is still less than the "real" budget of £190. As I said the other day, we shouldn't need too much next month, although I need to add toilet paper to the list. The pantry is still well stocked and little stocking gifts like bags of dried fruit and nuts are a great addition to the breakfast cupboard, so thanks to everyone for them. Oh, Dan found a quid this morning too, bonus!

It just goes to show that we went over budget because we over bought. But there's been no waste as we were careful with the fresh stuff we bought. There are a few bits hanging around but they'll all be used up by the end of next week. As a New Year's Eve treat we have some Indian-style party snacks. MIL had them in the freezer for Wednesday night but we didn't eat them so they came home with us. We can have half on Tuesday night and the other half during January when the month seems long and the nights very dreary.

Next month I'll be listing everything I buy from the grocery budget so I have a proper idea of what's what. It could be dull, you have been warned. 

Friday, 27 December 2013

Another Christmas Bonus

No spend days.

I don't think there's another time of the year where it's so easy for us to avoid spending! We bought petrol and oil on Monday and nothing since. Our shopping list for tomorrow is bunny veg, bread and mushrooms. We could do without two of them if push came to shove. I love it.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

£90 Shopping List

Trying to cram all the food gifts we received into the pantry I decided to use my new mini notepad to do the pantry inventory and work out the basic shopping list for next month. I was very happy to see we're still very well stocked so I won't be feeling the need to run out to the shops, now there's a relief. Luckily, one of our gifts was a set of jars of chutney, very useful for lunchtime. I'm not fully sure what we're going to do with the hamper of ginger products but I'm sure they'll come in useful somewhere along the line. 

Not included in the £90 is £16 for hay.

bunny veg
onions
mushrooms
leeks
carrots
potatoes
other veg (whatever's cheap or looks good)
bananas
other fruit

butter
milks
sandwich filling

wraps
puff pastry
bread
pitta

chilli flakes
butterbeans
passata
cereal (3 boxes)
tea

shampoo bar

The shampoo bar will take a chunk out of the budget but it's needed. We don't need any other household products so it'll be an inexpensive month in that regard. £90 feels very doable, but I say that every time!



Wednesday, 25 December 2013

We Even Got A Change Jar

We seemed to receive a lot of presents this year. Bunny-related stuff was at an all term low, rugby items doubled from last year, toiletries down, pyjamas and hats up, books constant. All very practical.

One of the bunny items came in a small, sturdy looking box, with a Q on the top and front. " "Q" for "quid" " said Dan, "It can be our sealed pot". So it is. Bonus gift and the sender didn't even know it.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Busy Relaxing

We're in the car as much as the house at the minute. This morning is a car check, top up anything we need in the winter emergency bag, then load up with presents and off we go again. Dan loves driving and I love being in the car, especially now I have my "Mr Noisy" neck pillow. I am looking forward to Friday though when we can spend a whole day at home.

The rabbits found their Christmas present, so that's already had a good chewing. It's still a bit odd to think it's Christmas Eve but here it is whether I'm ready or not! One of my favourite things about where we are is the amount of churches nearby, hearing the bells on Christmas Eve is always a pleasure and makes me very happy indeed. 

The good thing about today is that reality is on hold. It's just all about today and tomorrow, not really discussing the plans for next year or thinking about how this year has been. It's just about Christmas Eve, whatever that is. 

Best wishes to anyone reading, stay safe and find time to be happy!

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Christmas Bonus

A wee while ago Dan's step mum mentioned that they were going to the Opera House in the Winter Gardens, Blackpool to see the musical "Scrooge" with Tommy Steele. So we said we'd come along too. It was the matinee performance and we thought it would be a little bit cheesy but ideal for getting us in the festive spirit. I apologise wholeheartedly to all concerned for the first part. It was sensational. Tommy Steele was amazing, everything about it was just wonderful and everyone had a great time - even the little boy behind us who was a little scared of the ghosts. Perfect venue, perfect crowd, perfect production. 

The second Christmas bonus arrived in the post. A brown envelope doesn't bring good news all that often, less still one from a solicitor. Again, how wrong we were. It contained a cheque, which must be one of the best things to be popped through the letterbox. It was something to do with the purchase of this house, very much a surprise as we've been here for nearly 4 years. It was less than £100 so not a massive amount, but a very welcome boost to the savings pot. 

Dan's mum has given us a cheque too, it's to cover both Christmas and birthdays for both of us. We're torn over what to do with it. On the one hand we could just have the cash or we could save it. Spending it is always tempting, especially after the demise of the laptop but saving is tempting too. I recently bought a pile of new clothes, the cash for some of this came out of one of our savings pots so I think I'm edging towards putting my part of the cash into that so it feels like I received a whole new wardrobe for Christmas. A very nice brain teaser. 


Friday, 20 December 2013

January Menu Plan

Blimey, here we are already. Even though it's really just another month it feels quite difficult to do this plan. I suppose it's all bound up in the intentions and desires to make a good start to the new year and all that stuff. 

One thing we are planning to do is to have a roast or similar on a Sunday, at least until the rugby season starts. I'm also putting simple stuff on a Tuesday. I don't get back from the shop until 5 so minimal prep is the order of the day. It's basic, it's simple, it's using what I know we have in. When stocks run low I'll probably look for some new recipes but I'm not a foodie type so eating the same tried and tested things each time works well for me, Dan is the same, it works well even if it might bore others to tears!

1. leftovers - there's bound to be something
2. risotto/fried rice
3. chestnut pie w mash
4. plaki w lentil grill

5. roast
6. stirfry w. noodles
7. spaghetti
8. out
9. leek & butterbean crumble
10 lentil and mushroom curry w rice
11 cajun spiced wedges w falafel

12 roast
13 mushroom stroganoff
14 enchiladas
15 jambalaya
16 lemon and herb tart w patatas bravas
17 chickpea balti w baked bhajis
18 roast veg pasta

19 roast
20 lentil, garlic and butterbean stew w bread
21 orzotto
22 chilli bean bake
23 spicy bean balls w tomato sauce
24 stirfry
25 pizza

26 roast
27 pasta bake
28 shepherdess pie
29 l/o
30 chickpea balti (fr)
31 empty the fridge one pot

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Having an Old Friend For Dinner


Tonight, unless the weather threatens to take over the town, I am venturing out to meet an old friend. I haven't seen him for 13 years so who knows how it will go. The thing is there's no real catching up to be done. We started chatting again on the old social networks so there's no news and no surprises really. None of the "oooh, you've changed, look at your hair" etc. 

In one sense it's good I suppose and in another sense there's no anticipation, it'll be just like a normal interaction only we sat in the same pub for a change. Weird.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Joining The Club

Twinkly tree, pinecones and lanterns, a ceramic snowman filled with chocolates, nuts in shells, citrus fruits, babycham, black forest cake, sprouts, Tommy Steele, glittery jumper, pomegranate juice, spare room filled with stuff. I think that's the full checklist and yet there's something missing.

I'm not feeling festive. I'm very happy and excited but not about Christmas, just about things in general - rag rugs, lino prints, another quilt, lovely husband, seeing a friend for the first time in 13 years, birthday, snowdrops, coal tits, flannelette sheets, yellow nail polish. It's probably better to be excited about that stuff than the other way round though. 

I think the Rugby League World Cup threw me out. One minute it was the start of October then all of a sudden it was December. Plus the RLWC was so amazing almost anything else falls by the wayside. And it's too warm, no good at all. 

I have sent two cards. One to my friend in The Netherlands, that happened because I always send it early and I was in the first flush of excitement about funtivities. The other is to my mum who would be very cross if there was no card. She'd rather have a card than a gift. So that's that. I think part of my problem is that I'm too organised, everything is very calm and just gets done, there's no losing of tape, I don't have to dig out the wrapping paper (due to my dislike of the wrapping paper curse). Everything is ready to go and I think rather than some festive feeling I'm missing feeling spontaneous. 

On the plus side, I used the till at the charity shop yesterday! I have yet to learn the ins and outs of Gift Aid but one step at a time. 

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Food Log

bunnies add to the romance


First of all, I was wrong in my comments yesterday, we became debt free in 2006, saved for 2 years for a car which should have taken us to December 2008 but only took until the end of August. Phew, cleared that one up. Thank you Dave Ramsey.

I've been having a look at my online supermarket receipts (thank you Booths) and it's an interesting read. Obviously I don't buy everything from the supermarket so, just out of interest, I'm going to go back to keeping a note of everything I buy. Just to check I really am sticking to the budget I say I am and to keep an eye on anything naughty that's sneaking into the trollop. I know how the budget's going this month as there's still £98.07 in the grocery account so I'm still just under budget but we'll go over and probably end up around the £110 mark again. But that's fine, happy with that. 

We're going to stick with an aim of £90 for January. As I said yesterday we're not hitting that goal but it's always in mind which has been helpful. If I upped the ideal goal to £110, which is around what we're spending then I'd probably still go over. It's one of those games, fools no-one but is helpful anyway. 

Father in Law has offered to take us out for tea on Saturday so that's another couple of quid saved. There's a lot of veg hanging around so it looks like a batch cook is in order tomorrow, along with a tidy of the freezer. It's been a case of "stash and dash" in there recently so a jiggle and inventory might be useful. It's mainly bread and things I think but who knows what delights await?

I love the real Christmas tree, it looks and smells amazing, so happy with it and Dan loves it. He has been the driving force behind getting it so I'm glad he likes it as much as he does. As you can see from the grainy photo, we've had to add a rather municipal looking fence around it to keep the buns, especially White Bunny away from it as she thinks it's rather tasty. That's not saying a deal though as she finds soft furnishings, skirting boards, shoes, peanut butter, me and carrier bags tempting too. I don't know what she'll make of the Festivus pole. 

Monday, 16 December 2013

2014 Planning

It will be more of the same with some things done differently! We've slightly adjusted the amount going straight into savings so there's more than we're currently saving but we're going against the grain and getting rid of the annual expense fund. We've had one for coming up to 10 years and it doesn't really work for us any more. We may return to this system of budgeting in the future, but not next year. 

It was ideal when we were paying off debts and we needed to know there was a separate account for car stuff, vet bills, gifts and things like that but that's not where we are now. We've been working to a budget since 2003 when we had the lightbulb moment so over the years we've jiggled and adjusted things so it works out that we have one biggish expense per month - January is nothing, February Dan glasses, March pre-paid prescription, April loads of birthdays, May car stuff, over the summer my glasses, any work on the house and the boiler service, October car tax, November bunny vaccinations, December Christmas. So we can just deal with those expenses from the main budget because we know they're coming. If there's an emergency there's the emergency fund to fall back on. 

We're not going to reduce the amount going into the grocery budget account but it looks like we can do well on far less than the £190 a month we thought we were struggling on. We haven't stuck to £90 for the past two months but having it as an aim has been great as we've been much closer to it than we would have been otherwise. The surplus cash has been stashed into my ISA for a nice little boost. 

If it ever stops raining I'm going to nip out for a sealed pot. I started a change jar but it has already been raided for change for car parking, so a sealed vessel is needed!

We're not having a not-holiday next year but we are heading south for a wedding, assuming we can find someone to babysit the bunnies. We've never left the buns overnight before but we really want to go to the wedding so fingers crossed. We're also both invited to the stag do in London but whether that happens or not I don't know. I very much like the idea of going to a stag do as I've never been on one before, with being a woman and all that so it's very tempting. We shall see. 

Sunday, 15 December 2013

saturday

9am

where am I? In the car on the prom
what's the sky like? Blue and grey
what am I wearing? Neon skirt, beige top, grey leggings, grey converse
what's motivating me? gift shopping and collections of jelly babies, submarines, things made from pianos and sci fi games at the Grundy. 

2pm

where am I? at a garden centre
what's the sky like? very grey with fast moving clouds
what am I wearing? as 9am
what's motivating me? a cup of tea and an iced bun, vegetable seeds, freebies

5pm

where am I? in the kitchen
what's the sky like? not visible but the weather sounds awful
what am I wearing? pink trousers, bunny jumper, slippers
what's motivating me? bargains from the FYC pop up shop, spaghetti, Parks and Recreation

Friday, 13 December 2013

The Descent

the evidence


I have nothing to report.

The Christmas tree is in the house but still undecorated, it is under attack from the white rabbit. The money is bobbing along as it tends to do. We've bought a selection of gifts, including a tattoo design colouring book for my mum. She likes a spot of colouring in and I doubt she'll have seen this one. There are boxes of decorations all over the place, I think we'll do something with them tomorrow. 

We went to the beautiful Winter Gardens last night to a gig, I was most certainly one of the oldest people there which was fun. I think some of the audience who rolled their eyes at all the old folk as they waited to see Panic! At The Disco and we waited to see They Might Be Giants in Manchester the other week, ha! We're back there next weekend for a bit of Tommy Steele, oh yes. 

I am home alone this evening, Dan is off to a hotel somewhere for workplace funtivities. I will be here with a box of Maltesers and some Babycham. As you can see I really do have Babycham, saw some the other day and thought "why not?" After all, it's the happiest drink in the world!


Wednesday, 11 December 2013

My Temple, My Castle

You can't change one thing without everything else having to jiggle up and that's what's happening this week. Still reeling from the shock of our spending on Saturday I've had to address a couple of things - mainly why do I eat and drink so much when we're out with this one particular friend? Don't do it with anyone else. 

Anyway, as I've been busy pondering and doing things differently it's meant that other things have to be done differently. I got up today and the house was like a bombsite. So the basic things have been neglected a little, easy to remedy and done already, that's just a case of first things first. I now have a wardrobe full of clothes*, a house that is getting there, lovely friends and family, a couple of savings accounts that are starting to fill up, a hobby or two and now a day out playing shops (thanks to Mum for that fun way to describe it). Now I need to look after my body. I think everyone by now has seen the weightloss challenge issued over at Frugal In Bucks and while I don't know if I'm in, I'm certainly thinking about myself again. 

My days are starting to take on a little structure - not too much but just enough so I feel like I have tome for things. At the minute I have all the time in the world but no time in particular so I haven't been making anything a priority, now everything is a priority! So, basic household stuff, exercise, shower, everything else will be the order of the day. Although it does beg the question what am going to use as a doorstop if I'm using my weights?

Next thing to face up to is the financial stuff, but not today, I have to lift things up and put them down again for a bit. 

*well, 60 items of clothing in total

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

New Things

Along with the surprising realisation that I would really have liked to be a florist a couple of other new things have come about this week. Firstly, next year I will make a rag rug. We don't have any proper flooring in the living room (can't decide what to go for) so we have a mish mash of rugs, not in a beautiful cool magazine house way just in a "it's what we had in" way. Plus I'd like to make a rag rug. 

Wore some of my new things out on Saturday and felt great. 

A new thing arrived last night, a real tree. We have never experienced a real tree at home before, either as small folk or as adults. Every year we say we're going to have one and every year we talk ourselves out of it due to the cost. Not this year. Last night we headed out and bought one. The house smells amazing! Yes it probably is a waste of money but I don't care, it's a beautiful thing, even if it is just in a bucket of water with no baubles on at the minute. 

The pretty new only-three-weeks-in thing is today at the charity shop. First week I was really bored, then skipped a week due to lack of communication, last week was ok, I neither loved nor hated it - plus the nasty woman totally ignored me so I was happy about that, saves me having to involve myself with any unpleasantness. So this week who knows, I'm not not looking forward to it so that's good and maybe I will be unleashed on the till this week. Won't that be exciting. 

Monday, 9 December 2013

The Cost Of Going Out

We went out on Saturday afternoon for drinks with one of our friends. We spent £100. Good grief. 

Friday, 6 December 2013

Realisation

I must be feeling festive as I bought pine bathroom cleaner today, something I never do. So some decorating is going to take place this evening. All the components of Christmas dinner are bought and ready to go.

Everything feels very smooth and as it should be, there's lots of time to do what I want to do and what I need to do. The churning seems to have stopped even though the trail of paper and hay is endless. Money is a little wonky but by the end of the month there will be a straight edge. The end of the month seems very far away and I like that. I'm just bobbing along but on a course, not out of control. 

And it's the weekend, fun times ahead!

Thursday, 5 December 2013

The Rebrand Update

The rebrand so far has been as much about buying as it has been about doing. I think we're out of the buying phase now and it's more about using what I've bought. I love the new wardrobe, for the first time ever none of the new stuff is second hand. I usually like a rummage as much as the next person but that wasn't what I needed this time round.

Even though I have been working towards a tight capsule wardrobe I abandoned everything I've ever read about minimalist shopping, I needed an open mind to allow me to be focused. Having everything (as long as it was grey, black or silver) as an option made it simple to choose the best items for me. I even bought four bottles of nail polish to replace the one I've just finished instead of keeping just the one and using it all the time. That simple thing, costing less than £9 feels like a real luxury and as such is exactly what I was after to energise myself. I rounded off the shopping with some comfy insoles for my new boots, some shoe polish and a grey bag all from the Army and Navy shop.

I had a shift at the charity shop, the unpleasant woman was leaving as I arrived which made everything far more relaxing. It actually put me in a very lighthearted mood as she made a point of ignoring me when she was saying her goodbyes, nice to know I can stir such emotions in a virtual stranger! The shift was OK, I think when I am on full duties time will go much faster and it's a good excuse to force me out of the house for a walk. Whether or not I've lost weight I don't know but I do feel better and less sludgy so that's good enough for now.

The house is coming on well and feels very light and bright, quilting is back on the menu, I bought some printing materials yesterday, not a totally new thing but something I haven't done since college. Weirdly it popped into my brain that when I was a teenager I wanted to be a florist. I went down the academic route and hadn't thought about that whim for over 20 years. I don't know if it's an avenue I want to investigate now but maybe a flower arranging course could be an option.

At the opposite end of the glamour spectrum I was out in my pyjamas this morning, the compost bin took off across the garden and I didn't want it to do any damage to the houses. I also had to scoop up all the compost and decomposing stuff to stop that flying around too. Probably not the most fun task of the day.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

November Savings

After the dust settled there was £40 from the grocery budget to put into savings. I'm very happy with that. I was £73 under budget as £32 something went on the voiles and poles for the living room.

This month is starting well, along with the £40 from last month I put £20 from this month into savings, it's gone now so I can't be tempted to spend it. Hopefully there will be another £50 to shove into the bank as I'm not having my hair cut this month, the window cleaner didn't come last month so that cash carries over and a few other things. Dan dug out the money box so the change jar is up and running too. I've also reinstated my "break glass in case of emergency" £20 envelope, in case of emergency!

We had a £3 Waitrose voucher so we nipped in as we were nearby, resisted the temptation to see the voucher as bonus cash and stuck to buying basics. So far for December we've spent £11.88. Despite the fact that my brother and his girlfriend might come for the weekend I'm very confident we can stick to the budget. We went to a vintage/craft fair on Sunday (no photos, it was waaaay too busy) we picked up a couple of gifts so we're starting to get it together for Christmas. Phew.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Fast Change, Slow Change.

Sometimes changes have to be slow, like the chugging along of paying off debts, losing weight or learning new things. Other changes aren't like that, for me those changes are usually the things that help to kick start the slow burning changes. I reached a point where the idea of staying the same was worse than the idea of changing and I faced up to the fact that to arrive at the changes I want things had to change. I can't change my life without changing how I live it.

Recently I've been feeling invisible and that's not a way to feel, when there are things to be done  it's even worse. So, even though it seems contrary to all our financial goals we took some cash out of savings and I have a whole new wardrobe. For some people clothes and things aren't important and I didn't think they really were for me until I saw myself and realised that how I looked didn't represent how I see myself. And at that moment it became important.

Ten years ago we started our change, we faced up to our financial situation and did a lit of things very quickly but change. This slow change came about when I admitted I couldn't cope with my job so I stopped doing it. It was very irresponsible of me and it was a huge and terrifying change but it lead to great things.

That way of working doesn't work anymore though and no matter how we try to squidge those old ways of working into our life now it doesn't work. Willing something to be a certain way when they can't be so is a waste of energy. Doing things differently is the only way. At the minute our goal is less tangible than previous goals so in some ways it's harder. In other ways it's easier as we have more options. There's not a great deal to say about most of our savings as they just happen. I'm excited about what we do and don't do in the next year to create some more dynamic savings though, it is all about what we choose, not what we ban.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Ribbon Wreath

As promised, here's a picture of the finished, slightly bonkers looking ribbon wreath. It's like the night here so hard to take a lovely photo. 


I also have a choice to make. I have to choose one chocolate treat. Do I go for caramel tree decorations, coins or those balls of chocolate with a white crispy shell? I like them all but just can't choose between them...

Friday, 29 November 2013

Gift Budget

We've been sorting out the gift budget for Christmas. Our Christmas is not a simple time of collecting branches to adorn the fireplace,  roaring fires (unless there's one in the pub), hand printed wrapping paper and mulled wine on the stove. Our Christmas is 1970's style buffets, Now That's What I call Christmas on vinyl, shop bought biscuits, sherry and lots of driving. 

I used to be a Christmas avoider but truth be told it's a social convention, it means more to my family and friends to celebrate it than it does to me to not do so, so I embrace it. The axis of the Earth doesn't pass directly through me and what makes the people I like happy makes me happy. In that vein unless it's requested I don't make gifts. I make stuff all the time so it's not special to give someone a gift I've made. It feels like I've gone to no effort, if I make something someone would like I'll give it to them when it's done, why wait for Christmas? The people I know aren't into whimsical and homespun so it would be a bit arrogant of me to force things I like on to them, it's Christmas not a lifestyle lecture.

 There are things I don't enjoy, but not many. My family love Christmas, Father doesn't like Christmas cards but he does like playing with Lego so the cards are a small price to pay. There's nothing subtle or subdued, no thinking about portion sizes or the fact that it's "just a day". They go for it and I like that. It's living in the now and for that time. 

So, to the budget. We don't buy many gifts, where we can we spend the cash on meeting up with people rather than buying gifts. We don't live near any of our friends so a night out or even a quick pint is the best thing. For everyone else we have a budget of £5 - £30 per person, I think we buy gifts for eight people, this year we have a new person to add to the list, my niece. Dan and I bought each other gifts for the first time last year, the gifts were so amazing we're not doing it again this year, we have other traditions we'd rather maintain. We are going gift shopping next week, one day to get all the gifts then it's done, a power shop with plenty of time to stop for coffee which makes it far more enjoyable. It's a bit hectic, pretty messy, reasonably noisy, very glittery but pretty much all fun, just the way I like it.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Churning

Do you ever have those days where you feel like nothing is happening, you're just churning the stuff over and over? I'm having one of those days. Some things don't seem to have a home and the things that do seem wrong. I suppose I'm seeing things on the outside how I feel on the inside.

In probably positive news the ribbon wreath is finished. It has been roundly decided it looks like the work of an addled mind, it's going on the door anyway! I'll share a picture if the sun ever comes out. I went to thevtown yesterday and ended up watchingba parade. The local regiment has just returned from Afghanistan so people lined the streets and waved flags. My favourite part was the military band playing Sweet Caroline. The Unique Lancashire shop was offering chorley cakes, red rose cupcakes and hotpot free of charge in honour of Lancashire day, yummy.

The master shopping list is ready to no. Sadly for my £90 budget we need some of the big stuff - rabbit food, litter, some toiletries etc. So some bits and bobs have had to be knocked on the head. I'll be making shortcrust pastry instead of buying puff. We'll be scoffing chocolates when we go visiting rather than at home and it,s looking like leftovers soup rather than the slightly more flash affair we were planning.

So the rest of the shopping list is -

Butterbeans
Chickpeas
Chestnuts
Rosemary
Nuts
Dates
Sandwich filling
Passata
Wraps
Veggie sausages
Falafel mix
Frozen peas
Tea
Cereal
Bread
Milks
Spuds
Parsnips
Sprouts
Mushrooms
Other veg
Clementines

Seems basic but I know there will be more than enough treats to be had. Anyway I had to buy a size 12 skirt the other day so it'll do me no harm, ha!


I don't know if I've mentioned how much I dislike using a tablet, but I do.


Tuesday, 26 November 2013

When The Laptop Goes Away

When the laptop goes away there is time to sort out the garage amongst other things. I decided to wait until it was -1 to do my garage but I love ruddy cheeks so it was all positive.

The phrase "stash and dash" was created to describe what happened in the garage. A box containing one sponge and a plant pot. A whole shelf taken up with four cork tiles and a cut off of wallpaper and lots of stuff on the floor because there was no space on the shelves. At the minute the garage looks great but the living room is full of spanners. This morning I've emptied three boxes and the toolbox. The toolbox will be returning to its original use as my quilting toolbox and the other boxes will just be empty. This, of course means I have to deal with my quilting stuff, the thought of which makes me happy and scared in equal measure, good job I have the time.

There has also been time for writing the budget, master shoppimg list, sorting the junk drawer, having a ruthless declutter of my wardrobe, dealing with my cookbooks, cuddling bunnies, exfoliation, rearranging the DVDs and even ironing. being laptop free is almost ideal.

I detest typing on this tablet, apologies for any typos I've missed but I've already been at this for over an hour. A keyboard is right at the top of my Christmas list.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Grocery Update 4

Is it 4? I feel relieved now I've blown the budget.

On Thursday after my wig chop I spent £8.82 on boring things like broccoli for the buns and lunch stuff for myself. So there we have it. I don't think we'll need anything else this week so the grand total for the month is £96.61.

I have other things to report, life audit and capsule wardrobe related but I'm typing this on a tablet and I think I may well become violent if I don't escape from it's horrible vibrating area soon.

Weekends and frosty days are the best, losing the World Cup semi final in the last 20 seconds is the worst. Our house was silent for a full half hour after the game. I confess I did cry, but then, as ever, Fiji brought me round. Fiji were more than well beaten by Australia in the other semi but their amazing humility and thankfulness knocks me off my feet every time.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Things

Is there a Meaning of Liff word to describe the amount of time you feel you have to spend in an art gallery so you don't feel a bit daft for not liking the exhibition? I found myself in a gallery watching a video of a crying woman trying to put her clothes back on the other night. I guess I can't say I didn't enjoy it but I don't know what was going on at all. 

There's a problem with the early evening economy isn't there? Things shut at 5 or 5.30, evening stuff starts at 7.30. Other than the cinema, eating or drinking there's not a lot to do when you're out and about. It's the end of the free stuff.

It's been a big week for me. Not so much in the things that I've done, for most people it would have been a normal week. In my brain things are becoming clearer about how I want to shape my future. Things that have helped clarify things for me this week - 

1. Being bothered enough about something to get to Manchester by car.
2. Seeing my favourite band for the first and probably only time.
3. Working at the charity shop.
4. Dealing with people.
5. Going to the hair salon (I believe that's what hairdressers shops are called these days).

Some aspects of this week have been very very very splendid and some have displeased me. But even the displeasure has lead to good things. It's made me want to pile money into the freedom fund, it's made me very happy with my life and friends and it's given me lots of ideas for things to create. Not quite sure how the last thing happened but there you go. All that to say what was the current quilt is almost certainly about to become the next quilt and what was going to become the next quilt will be the current one. Phew, that made things clearer.


Wednesday, 20 November 2013

December Menu Plan

It's not that different to the usual really. I don't know if I've mentioned breakfast and lunch before. We have pretty much the same thing every day. Dan has cereal, I have a bagel or similar. For lunch we have houmous virtually every day with olives, tapenade, beetroot, carrot, salad or whatever to stop it being quite so beige. Occasionally I'll have leftovers or make some soup instead but that's about that.

On this plan the very simple meals are generally following a night out, when we have a nothingy day planned or something like that. There's no point planning for something exciting when I know it's just not going to happen. Anyway, we'll be having enough big meals around Christmas to make the simple things more than welcome. 

1. jacket potatoes with baked beans *yum*
2. singapore noodles
3. lentil and garlic stew w. chilli bread
4. chestnut pie
5. orzotto
6. out
7. out (but I must make pasties to take with us)

8. pasta bake
9. enchiladas
10 spicy rice with wraps (aka leftovers)
11 goulash
12 thai green curry
13 out
14 out (we think)

15 winter warmer cobbler
16 pilaf
17 lentil bol
18 mustardy butterbean and lentil stew
19 chickpeas with rosemary
20 curry w. baked onion bhajis
21 pizza

22 falafel toasties 
23 thai green curry
24 out
25 nut roast and all that
26 out
27 soup and sandwich
28 stirfry/ leftovers

29 thanksgiving pot pie
30 roast veg pasta
31 mixed bean chilli 

Pantry Inventory

As discussed yesterday I'm giving myself a £90 grocery budget for December or at least that's the aim. Knowing what's in the pantry is the best starting point for that. numbers in brackets are the amount of meals I think a part bag will cover, anything else is a full packet.

Freezer 

runner beans (2)
red chillies
peas (full bag)
sweetcorn (full bag)

Fridge

jams
singapore noodle paste
garlic puree
ginger puree
ketchup
brown sauce

Pantry

chestnuts
stuffing mix
popping corn

4kg red lentils
giant cous cous
quinoa
rice noodles
udon noodles
2kg rice
800g pasta

green thai paste
red thai paste
coconut milk
6 x creamed coconut sachets
2 x baked beans
2 x passata
marmite
soy sauce

jams 
mustards
flours
yeast
sugar, vanilla sugar
treacle
salt, pepper, sage, paprikas, curry blends, oregano, cinnamon etc. 

Doesn't seem like very much really but that's because there are no beans on the list. Now for the menu plan.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

And That's Why We Left

I had my taster session with the charity today. As I was in the shop all afternoon it was a little teeny bit boring but everyone was very pleasant and the customers were lovely. Then I met the "superstar", she is from a place Dan and I used to live. One of the many reasons we left was people like her. 

Luckily I was on my best behaviour so I smiled and nodded instead of responding in the way I would have liked...

Why be rude? What benefit does that bring to someone's world? Thankfully I'm not easily upset so being told I sound boring made me laugh rather than cry. Maybe I am boring but at least I'm not a nasty gossipy rude snob*.

*actually I might be some of those things when provoked.

Busted

The £90 month is not going to happen. We went a little bonkers last week and filled the trolley with stuff and spent £22.98. We're not over yet but we are very close at £87.79 with a week to go. we'll be going shopping on Saturday or Sunday so that is still a full week of shopping, it's going to cost more than two and a bit quid. 

Having said that, I think with what we have in as we speak I could make all the evening meals we need, it's just milks, bunny veg and sandwich stuff, Dan has already stuffed the freezer full of bread. I think we'll be £10 over. Oh no, hang on, maybe less than a tenner, when I was tidying yesterday I found £2.30 and it wasn't all in change, there were two £1 coins. How did they slip the net?

If we spend £100 plus the bonus £2.30 that's still £90 less than usual. Ok, it has been a bit of a bonkers month and we've bought many many chocolate bars out of the general budget but even so it's what we wanted to try. I feel confident we could try it again in December. There are at least 5 days where someone else will be doing the cooking, the pantry is well stocked (other than dried chilli flakes as there was an incident last week). We don't need lots of extra food for the festive period. You know what, I'm going to do it, £90 December. Menu plan tomorrow. 

Monday, 18 November 2013

And Here It is

Someone added the video of the amazing moment to YouTube this afternoon and here it is - Fiji and Samoa post match prayer



The Most Beautiful Moment

Today I thought I'd be talking about more bargain shopping and meeting Spelly* in Wigan but something else swamped all other happenings this weekend - and plenty of things happened. 

Yesterday we were part of the most amazing thing I've experienced at a sporting event. We went to the Halliwell Jones Stadium in Warrington for the quarter final of RLWC 2013, Fiji v Samoa. At the end of the game thousands of spectators remained behind to applaud the players, especially as Samoa had been based in Warrington for the tournament. 

We waited, clapping and cheering as both teams formed a huddle in the centre of the pitch. As the tv camera focused in on one of the players it became obvious that they were praying. The crowd fell silent, seriously you could have heard a pin drop. It was an amazingly beautiful moment and everyone was clearly taken aback by it. When the prayer was over the teams broke away for their lap of honour and we brought the noise. 

It was one of those moments that words can't really describe but I am so happy to have been there to be part of it. 

*Spelly is a Rugby League superfan who although he's a Swinton supporter has a soft spot for Widnes. 

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Friday

9 am

where am I? up a ladder

what's the sky like? grey

what am I wearing? purple, purple and more purple

what's motivating me? curtains, tea, hail, shopping lists

2pm

where am I? at home

what's the sky like? grey

what am I wearing? purple, purple and more purple

what's motivating me? not much, nothing of note is happening today, nothing, nothing, nothing at all in the slightest, even the buns are still. 

5pm

where am I? in the pantry

what's the sky like? dark grey

what am I wearing? purple, purple and more purple plus slippers

what's motivating me? fajitas, dancing 

Thursday, 14 November 2013

The Rebrand

I'm having a reinvention. 

Cosiness has turned into laziness and more than slight scruffiness at times. On Tuesday I started thinking about changes, yesterday I started putting the thoughts into actions. I'm glad I chose yesterday as today there's lots of hailstones flying about, not my favourite type of weather to be out and about it. 

Nothing huge happened yesterday, I just had the kind of day I thought I'd have when we moved here. I still call this our new house when we'll have lived here for four years in the spring. I hadn't walked on our beach since September when I thought I'd do that every day. But when we first moved here I hadn't taken into account, serious illness, the cuts, constant fear of job loss, money stuff and general stuff getting in the way of my dream life. 

So I went to the beach and petted some dogs. Then I went to the library and took out two fiction books, I rarely read fiction unless it's about Moomins. I think the last fiction book I read was "The Night Circus" and that was last year maybe or the year before. Probably last year. Then I decided to take a slightly different route home, only one street across from the usual but I found myself looking into the charity shop window then wandering in to volunteer. My taster session is next Tuesday afternoon. Finally I put aside all my usual worries about sweatshops and things and went into New Look, and it was not all that bad. I then had an annoying experience with a self service checkout when I went to get some milk but that's par for the course I believe. 

I've been through my wardrobe and dealt with all that stuff and I'm now writing a list of 10 items for a new capsule wardrobe - everything will be grey. I'm even toying with the idea of buying a lipstick, that's how deep this goes! And I've done some exercise and eaten healthily every day. This little folly will be funded by the M&S giftcard I receive every year from FIL and any other money I receive for the festive and birthday times which are only two weeks apart. 

So now you know.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Grocery Budget Update

I've now spent £64.81/£90. 

That was mainly because we bought a few things for the festive season from a shop we don't go to all that often. That's socked away in the freezer and is dealt with. Dan decided he really really wanted some Yorkshire puddings so we bought some. We don't really eat eggs so it was easier to buy some ready made things than to deal with a box of eggs and Yorkshire pudding making trauma.

Despite my apparent inability to stop going to the supermarket I still feel confident we're going to come in under budget. We may need some bunny veg and milk before the end of the week but that will be all, feeling good about it. 

Not spending the money on food has allowed me to get something to cover our living room windows. The windows are floor to ceiling and form the back wall of the house. I can almost picture the cash seeping out of them when it's cold. We have curtains which I lined last year but as an extra thing I've ordered some voiles and rods to hang them from. I don't want to do the bubblewrap thing and enjoy the amount of light we have coming into the living room so didn't want to add another set of thicker curtains so the voiles should be the best extra layer/allow light in/look not-too-bad option. We shall see.

Which reminds me. For reasons to do with the shape of the porch we can't have a proper door curtain. Well, we did for a bit but Dan (rightly) thought it looked depressing from outside so we removed it. We now have a curtain (sheet) covering the door from the porch to the dining area. It still looks far more "sheet" than "curtain" but the addition of some weird and wonderful felt stripes is adding a certain something. It is doing the job too, which when it comes down to it is all that matters. 

Monday, 11 November 2013

Shock The World



If the first week of RLWC 2013 was all about aniticpation, excitement, tradition and emotion then week two was all about fun. Well, almost all. The very sad news came to us on Saturday that former player Steve Prescott MBE had died. Steve Prescott was diagnosed with Pseudomyxoma Peritonei, a rare form of cancer, in 2006 and was given only months to live. Since then The Steve Prescott Foundation has raised nearly £500,000 for charity and he has been an inspiration to everyone who loves the game.

We clocked up some new grounds this week, Leigh and Salford and finished the week with a trip to one of Dan's favourite grounds, The Shay, Halifax for the group decider between Tonga and Italy. A win for Tonga meant, although they were going home, Scotland would make it through to the quarter finals at the expense of Italy. 

We have also been clocking up a number of gold post boxes, all by accident and all very welcome. Last Saturday we saw the one for Ed Clancy for his gold medal in the team pursuit. On Tuesday night in Leigh we passed the one for Heather Frederiksen, 100m backstroke paralympic champion and yesterday in Halifax we saw the one for Hannah Cockroft's win in the T34 100m. 

Back to the games. We watched Tonga twice this week, on Tuesday we were lucky enough to be sat near the Tonga fans which made for a great atmosphere. There was also a small amount of celebrity spotting. Thursday we went to The Trafford Centre (I know I said I never wanted to go again after being there for 8 hours last month) but we went for some food and enjoyed a gospel choir as it was the festive lights switch on. Despite claims it was a 25 minute trek to the ground (it wasn't) we got there pretty quickly and I got to cuddle Tommy the Eagle, the USA mascot. Dan shook hands with the official Mascot of the World Cup - Grubber which is a weird kind of bear thing but great fun anyway. Weird thing about Salford's ground, the toilets have no roof, very old school!

The place to beat for atmosphere is going to be The Shay. It gets top makes from us, we went into the bar, there before us was a nice Vegan IPA, don't mind if I do. The ladies toilets are a joy (remind me to share a picture of the main door). We stood with some local wags who had all the songs, all the time which was brilliant. And to top it all off Scotland qualify, Fuifui MoiMoi was named man of the match - it was a crowd pleaser, he's a great player, big hitter, great name, good head of hair. I am really sad that Tonga won't be going further in the competition but other than Wales and France I think I'd say that about any team as they've all been a great source of entertainment. 

So we've attended 7 of the 10 games we're going to, that's just over a third of the games. Time is flying by but we've had a ball so far. I'm working on Dan to see if we might squeeze in the quarter final New Zealand v Scotland in Leeds on Friday. It's not going to be pretty for Scotland but you don't just follow a team when you know they're going to win do you?

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Wednesday

9am 

where am I? in bed

what am I wearing? green t shirt, floral pyjamas

what's the sky like? not visible

what's motivating me? braving the chill, tea 

2pm

where am I? homewares shop

what am I wearing? pink pumps, pink trousers, silver jumper

what's the sky like? dark grey

what's motivating me? a heath robinson door curtain pole solution

5pm

where am I? at home

what am I wearing? big grey jumper, slouchy trousers

what's the sky like? grey and cloudy

what's motivating me? Christmas to-do list, kriek, sweeping up, cute bunnies


Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Went Out Shopping

A mere five days in to the month I caved in to food shopping. I couldn't pass the greengrocers, everything just looked so nice. Weird as it seems to say it, I missed fresh vegetables and didn't want to wait any longer to have some. Apparently having food ready to go in the freezer isn't always great - it's only great most of the time!

So I ended up spending £11.54 on apples, a cauliflower, peppers, loads of mushrooms, leeks, broccoli, something else and a few bits and bobs from the bread shop. It was amazing *yum*. This afternoon I made curry, lentil bol and a shepherdess pie as we didn't have it at the end of last month. Cooking done for the next few days. Happy happy me. 

Monday, 4 November 2013

By The Way

Yes, I do realise that it seems a bit bonkers to be jaunting about the place when I've been on the verge of fretting about future money recently. It's all saved up and paid for - like a holiday but not going away anywhere. So no need to roll your eyes and tell me I'm ridiculous, I already know! 

RLWC 2013 Week One

This will not be the most clearly written post of the year, I am a sleepy girl.

The Rugby League World Cup is going very well. so far Dan and I have been to East Hull for PNG v France, a very close affair but with a great atmosphere and only the slightest hint of a gale. Rochdale for Fiji v Ireland which was fantastic with lots of Fijian support plus I became very fond of Fiji prop Ashton Sims. What a lovely fella, even though it was pretty cold and chucking it down with rain he took time to have his picture taken with people and had kind words for all the children who came over to him. Then it was a bit of  a break until Huddersfield on Saturday for England v Ireland, comfortable win for England. Yesterday we wandered up to Workington for Scotland v Italy. 

Workington was great, a great atmosphere and it looked like the area had done a lot to get involved with the tournament, before the game a float went round the ground (Derwent Park also hosts speedway) and on the float were children who had completed the TRY reading campaign. That was great fun. I am slowly perfecting the viral dance, much to Dan's horror and I'm ready should I need to perform it live in any ground at any time. 

We're having a day off today, well we say that, we are toying with the idea of heading off to Hull again, but as we've already driven over 800 miles we might save the petrol! We have two more games this week to look forward to and Thursday night should be a corker. Despite everything Scotland and USA are both unbeaten after two matches. To say USA are minnows in the sport would be not be unfair so to see them notch up two wins is amazing. I'm really looking forward to seeing them. Scotland have been entertaining and impressive in both games so far, beating Tonga and drawing yesterday against Italy. 

Money is seeping out of the wallet though but as Dan has pointed out we can work on the grocery budget this month then the main budget next month when this madness is all over! 

Friday, 1 November 2013

November Shopping, Round 1.

After months of nagging Dan we finally went to Salts Mill yesterday. It was, as everyone else already knows, great. I could have spent a fortune, especially when I saw the Moomin things but I didn't. We bought a cup of coffee and shared a brownie but that was the extent of the merrymaking. We both loved the Cloth and Memory exhibition on the top floor and it was nice to watch all he bloggy types taking photos of bits of the floor, the walls and details of the chimney through the skylights. It's funny how we're all more the same than we are different even when we're out there showing off our individuality.

We also had to leg it out of one of the exhibitions as the doors were being locked and no-one had told us! We were in a little room and obviously no-one checked to see if we were there. It was only when the lights went out we thought we better make a dash for it. We ran past a very confused looking man with a big set of keys and legged it down the stairs to the safety of the room with all the Moomins. 

Anyway. We went shopping today. I grabbed the deals I was after £6 for 6 boxes of cereal, 4 cartons of passata 46p each, some baked beans were on offer and some of the normal tinned beans were a few pence cheaper too. We also got some reduced cauldron sausages, some cheap bagels and as we didn't cook anything for tea last night the ingredients for tea tomorrow have been knocked on the head as we'll be eating leftovers when we get home from Huddersfield. 

So far we've spent £35.13/£90 which leaves fifty odd quid for the rest of the month but all we need to buy is fresh stuff, the pantry is packed. 

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

£90 November

£90 is the grocery budget for November, I really wanted it to be £80 but there was no chance without totally redoing the menu plan and I couldn't face that! I addition to the groceries I will be spending £32 on two bags of hay and £25 on my hair cut. After all that if I stick to budget I'll be able to save around £83 from the usual budget. Better than a kick in the face.

Doing my sums it leaps out that the biggest expense by a long way is milk. I have cow milk Dan has almond, so we spend almost £20 a month on just that. Yikes. Next biggest expenses are greens for the buns, bread and sandwich fillings, each coming in at around £9 - £10 a month.

We need to buy a few storecupboard items, we only have a couple of tins of beans in and we need oil. There's not much household stuff to buy other than bin bags which is a bonus and I know that the cereal and passata we buy is half price until the start of next week so I'll stock up on that too. 

We're working through all the stuff that was stashed in the freezer so we have enough veg frozen to keep us going until 6th November and even then there will still be some fresh frozen swede, chillies, celeriac and runner beans alongside the traditional frozen peas. We have some bread flour and yeast so I will be attempting to make pizza bases and maybe even some buns or something. Making bread is not my favourite job but it's not something I dread either. Besides, I've not done it for a while so I may discover some new found love for it once I get going.

Is frugality like riding a bike?