Monday, 20 November 2017


Other than a trip to the football on Saturday we were at home this weekend, and it was a lazy productive time, if that's a thing. 

Dan filled up the green bin, ready for collection this week, we took stuff to the tip and the charity shop, tidied the understairs cupboard, which was not nearly as scary as we thought, and generally had a putter around sorting things out - just what I wanted to do before I start to get stressed about that December event I'd rather just avoid. Maybe stressed isn't the word, frustrated is more the word, I can't stand to feel obliged to do things and we have to spend time with people who are all about tradition. Enough said about that, I'm not going to mention it again. 

One thing I struggle with is my breakfast, I can't cope with anything milky like cereal or porridge first thing, and having nothing for me to eat is a concern to Dan, so we seem to constantly on the hunt for something for me. Yesterday I was sick of thinking about it (for anyone who doesn't know if I could do away with eating altogether I would, it's a necessary faff to me) at the same time we turned to each other and said "breakfast bars". So I made some. 

I used the Morning Oat Jacks recipe from Keep It Vegan, although I couldn't bring myself to use 100ml each of agave nectar and maple syrup, so I used about 75ml of agave which is plenty sweet enough for me, and as the bars also contain coconut, raisins and dates there was extra oomph anyway. Of course I didn't have the right size tin so my bars were a bit (a lot) crumbly, but they are delicious and the extra bits are in a tub as granola-style sprinkles for Dan's porridge. 

Very tasty and one did actually fill me up which is unusual for a breakfast thing. I will try to get hold of a smaller tin and will make these often. I also got ahead of myself in terms of lunch, I will avoid lunch or grab the easiest thing, I want to avoid too much bread for a while as I do suffer from the aches and pains of "bread belly" so I made a massive bowl of veggie cous cous and washed and chopped lots of salad. Which we then ate so I have to chop some more!

It feels so good to eat lighter foods at the moment, I don't know if it's because it's getting colder and everywhere feels more stuffy with thicker coats, heating on etc, but it's something, as I am somewhat of a salad dodger. 

I also swapped a few decorative bits around to make things a little more wintery. I can't remember why I posted a picture up, probably of one of the buns, but I was ridiculed for having decorative logs in the hole where a fire would normally be. We don't have a fire, and the space behind is not very attractive, so what's the problem? We went from our usual look 

To something more... whatever the word is.

I've just found out that my youngest niece is coming to visit today so I can imagine there will be pinecones all over the floor rather than decorating the fireplace in the next few hours! A brilliant way to lighten up a dark Monday morning.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Freebie and Bargain Of The Week

This week we used more supermarket vouchers, some for bonus points on things we had on the shopping list anyway, such as laundry liquid, and another £3 off £20 these vouchers arrived at the right time as I needed things like rabbit litter, laundry liquid and other non-food items. When we use this final voucher we'll receive another £2.50 voucher to spend at our leisure. All in all this month we will have spent £100 at the supermarket (give or take), received £15 off our shopping and will have another £12.50 in vouchers, that's not too bad at all. 

The main bonus this week is from our internet provider. We were out of contract so Dan phoned to hear what they had to offer, after not too much negotiation we are paying £1 more per month than before, a fair bit less than the original offer, plus we now have super-fast broadband, which is great as we use internet tv now, and we have a few other bits and bobs to do with calls, not all that relevant but it's good to know should we need to use the landline it won't cost us a fortune. Shortly afterwards I received a text saying that as we have the new contract, and my phone is with the same provider, I now have an extra 5Gb data free of charge, great for when I'm out and about. 

At the other end of the spectrum, we had a voucher from the Co-Op for 50p off any of the free from range, so we ended up with a chocolate bar for 10p.

Finally, I bought some flowers from Aldi three Fridays ago and here they are 

Still looking amazing! Great value as they only cost me £2.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

In The Window

After no small amount of blood, sweat, tears and tantrums we have the basic set up for our Victorian window display. My fellow colleague Bee, who won "Volunteer of the Year" last year for our charity for being all round amazing, saved my facon by loaning me a dress she had made. People are falling over themselves to swoon at it!

Look at that dress! Isn't it amazing!

It took about an hour, a saw, hammer, staples, a bra, and half a roll of parcel tape just to fix the head onto the model, never mind the countless pins, staples, padded coat hangers and various other things needed to put everything together. It was absolutely hilarious (probably the only time I've laughed during this whole thing!). I think I'll arrange to be on holiday this time next year though! 

Monday, 13 November 2017

Sneak Peek

 After being more than a little stressed about it I had an idea about how to get started with the Victorian themed window, so I headed to the charity shop this morning to do the groundwork. The volunteer working today was someone I know has been involved with big windows like this before, so we had a chat about it and she offered to loan me a dress she made for a do she attended a few years ago. What a relief, that's the big show stopper we needed. 

My middle of the night idea for the other models (we're having three) was to use the large rolls of fabric we have for sale at the moment to fashion a skirt and use some other things I knew were in the shop plus some things I had a home to create a full outfit. 

The only slight negative about the day was when a manager visiting from another shop made a comment that I shouldn't be hacking all the stock to pieces just for a window. I politely pointed out to her that all items were bought and paid for and I had, in fact, owned them for quite some months. Thankfully my manager stepped in and commented that we are very committed to our roles and often go above and beyond, which was very nice of him. 

The two outfits I put together are hiding in the back room until Wednesday when they will be fluffed and primped properly, these pictures are a sneak peak of a very rough cut. Without further ado - 

The choker is a place holder until I can hopefully find something else. The jacket I think looks great and was for sale in the shop. The blouse is actually a part of the top I've chopped up to use as part of my doodle. 

You can just make out the lace and beading, the collar of the "blouse" is actually one of the sleeves pulled over and pinned in place. Outfit two - 

The beaded collar is made from a broken necklace of mine with a pendant and earrings added as embellishments.

The blouse is a modern one with a ruffle front, covered with a capelet I made from a skirt off the 99p rail (not visible) and finished off with a faux fur stole.

By no means authentic, I don't think it's too bad for a couple of hours in a freezing cold shop! 

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Upgrading In The Kitchen

Our kitchen is well past best, but it's going to be a fair old while before we get a new one. I think even the bathroom is going to be second priority (if we can find someone to do the job) as the boiler is playing up again, I had a very cold shower today!

Anyway, and ignoring all the arguments that if we didn't spend money on frippery we'd be able to afford these things more quickly, we headed off to TK Maxx for a look around. We don't buy things from there all that often as I generally can't face all the poking about, but today we crossed a few things off our shopping list. 

Sleepy juice. I am not a great sleeper, never have been but the combination of Tisserand Sweet Dreams oil and sea sounds helps a lot. I paid £4.99 for these two roll ons, at the chemist I pay around £4 for just one, so very happy. I have no idea whether aromatherapy actually works, but I do associate this fragrance with being sleepy so it's the same thing really. 

Earlier in the day we had decluttered four mugs, three to the charity bag and one to the garden crock box as the handle was broken. Two of the charity ones were novelty mugs from MIL a while ago - you know the type "If I had enough coffee I could rule the world". We wanted two mugs to go with the two we already have (mine's the blue one).

The new ones are the same size, they're just far away. £6.99 each, bargain!

We don't own an oven glove after Dan destroyed the one we had in a fit of I've been burned through this rubbish oven glove rage, so we've been using a silicone pot mat thing for the past wee while. These mitts have silicone stripes on them, should do the trick.

Ideal for my little hands, and they have a hangy hole. 

Finally, I had melted one too many of my 19p Ikea plastic utensils so I replaced them, this item was way down the list, but as we spotted a bamboo set for just £3.99 I dragged it to the top. Before - 

After - 

No, not finally! Dan picked up a dustpan and brush. 

It's made from recycled plastic and wood pulp, the jagged edge is to clean the bristles of the brush, genius idea! £3. We spent £33 in total and have something to help us work, rest and play*! Plus it took my mind off the shoddy state of the kitchen, bathroom, boiler, windows, garage, living room ceiling... 


Thursday, 9 November 2017

The Doodle - Update

I mentioned a while ago that I'd started doodling a little picture for myself, based on the seaside. Between quilts and the picnic blanket (which seems like a very long time ago) I've been working on it and having a good old time. 

Here's where it is today

With a 10p, for scale!

 I've started adding a few bits of net, lace and hemp thread to it for texture. 

The lace is from a very glitzy top I bought at the charity shop so I won't have to spend as much time adding beads and sequins *yay*. 

It's a great way to relax as there's no right or wrong, just wherever I fancy stitching at the time. 

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

In A Pickle

After mentioning it here the other week I decided to keep my mouth shut about the window competition  for the Victorian weekend. It was going so well until a lady from the Town Council came into the shop this morning to speak with the manager. He, of course, knew nothing about it and was only too happy to agree to enter the competition. The window has to be done next week. 

I still have no ideas. 

Wish me luck!

Chilli Galore!

We're still eating in a simple way, having leftovers from one meal rollover to the following night. Last week we ate a lot of chilli, I planned for it because I know if we have chilli once we'll want to eat it again and again. 

Last week Dan declared he missed eating "big sandwiches" so I made a big brunch sandwich, it seemed to do the trick for him, although now I'm looking forward to a nut roast, stuffing and chestnut sandwich sometime.

this was taken pre-sauce just in case we ever play The Sausage Sandwich game, don't want to spoil the surprise
I roasted a big pan of veg on Sunday, made a tomato/lentil sauce with some and the rest made a cous cous salad.

I know I'll be here on Monday complaining about it, but I have offered to make a picnic for Saturday. We're off to Newcastle to see the Paul Nash exhibition so food will be required to keep costs to a minimum, I'll make soup and pasties, Dan will make sandwiches and coffee, seems like a good deal. 

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Freebie And Bargain Of The Week

The last week or so has quite a good time for bargains.

we had loads of supermarket vouchers for money off, bonus points, cheaper fuel and all kinds of things so we made the most of them. We, of course, didn't go to Manchester so didn't spend a ton of money on food, travel and whatever else. 

Dan has been after a pizza peel for ages, but whenever we see one he refuses to pay the going rate, so when I spotted this at the shop I snapped it up for 49p.

It's actually a Mason Cash cake lifter, but it's an ideal size for our needs, and far cheaper than the alternatives. 

I bought a couple of things for myself this week from the charity shop too. 

Grey/ neon blazer, originally from Gap. good for wearing for just bodding around and at the shop - we have no heating so it's cold in there during the winter! £2.49

Grey Phase Eight dress £2.99. It does have a belt, but I'd already put it away. This is a good everyday dress, I can wear it with something rather more colourful to brighten things up, just my style though. 

Something I would never have bought, but accepted as a freebie was a pack of tissues. We bought a new teapot and travel mug (I keep using Dan's) and were given the tissues as a thank you. 

As we have some new tea towels, we also have some new cleaning cloths. 

Finally, the best freebie of the week, a new fence! We did offer to split the cost with our neighbour, but he declined, but politely asked if we could remove some ivy from the wall (it was already on the list).

Monday, 6 November 2017


We were chatting about something and nothing last week when Dan suggested it was time for a bit of updating. Much as I would like to disagree with him, he is right, there are a few things about the place that are worn out and past their best but we've not done anything about them due to saving for other things. 

I was a bit surprised when the first thing on his hitlist was cutlery. Ours doesn't all match, we bought our 16 piece set (Viners Gresham) when we were first together back in 2001 and things like matching soup spoons didn't matter, and if someone came round for a meal it would almost certainly have been delivered from the pizza place or kebab shop anyway. 

The weird thing is that when he mentioned it I cleaned the stuff we have and realised I still really quite like it, it's very simple, mismatched soup spoons or not. I did look online for spares, but we're in that weird situation where it would be almost as cheap to buy a whole new set than to buy four spoons and a dinner knife - one of ours is bent after someone used it to ease open a jar.

Dan also bought a new backpack for cycling to work, it has been so stressful watching him attempting to cram everything into a teeny bag that now he has a large and very bright one my morning is far more relaxed. 

Fast forward to yesterday when we received an email from the bathroom fitter. The bathroom is off as he's injured himself at work and doesn't know when, if ever, he'll be back. I feel so sorry for him, he sounded devastated. 

There was nothing we could do about that yesterday, so we got on with a few other upgrades on our list. There is so much that needs to be done with the house but Dan started with filling the green bin with garden waste, that helped us feel a bit better, then we tackled some of the simple things on the house shopping list.

A dish drainer, not quite as exciting as the new bin, but it makes so much difference to the kitchen, our old drainer was black, and very bulky by comparison. We also replaced some tea towels that were more hole than towel, one of them was reduced when we got to the till *hooray* and we used another of our £3 off £20 vouchers which took some of the pain away from having to make such mundane purchases. Plus we had coupons worth £3 to scan, we're saving that credit up for some unknown purpose. 

I also wrote a to-do list for today, then did as much of it yesterday as I could, doing tomorrow's list today is good, doing it on the day is something I avoid!

Friday, 3 November 2017

Upsetting Friends

Dan and I have a problem with saying no sometimes, him more than me if I'm honest. I feel bad inwardly but have less of a problem just declining things. Dan feels like saying no more than I do and doesn't feel bad about it, but he is prone to over explaining his reasons which can make things more complicated than it needs to be - often people will try to find solutions for his reason for saying no or whatever. 

This week we've not done our usual thing of trying to soften the blow and always be the nice guy (I'm not actually a nice guy at all), we've said how we feel and let things unfold as they will. 

I upset two of my friends this week by being a bit more vegan than usual, they said that eating a sausage was hardly the end of the world (we were talking about dieting), so I dropped in "other than for the pig", I was clearly being flippant, but it didn't go down well!

Secondly we had to deal with a couple of frenemies. One is a former colleague of Dan's, who is a nice enough person, but very overbearing. They asked if we wanted to go out for a meal at a posh (their word) restaurant near us next February. Dan just said no, we don't eat at fancy places, it's not our scene and we don't really want to commit that far in advance. They replied suggesting maybe we could meet for drinks afterwards, that sounds fine, and it was left that we could arrange something nearer the time. Perfect. 

Thirdly, we were supposed to be meeting a person we know this weekend. Initially it was to celebrate their birthday and Dan felt bad that hardly anyone turned up for their actual celebration. So the person suggested coming here and we would have a wander to see the illuminations, which was fine. I'm not bothered about this person either way, I find them to be a little rude and a bit of a know it all, they're a friend of a friend of Dan's, but the friend has fallen by the wayside over the years, it happens. 

It became clear that they didn't really want to come here, so we said we'd meet in Manchester, which then revealed their actual wishes and they started to add other people (that we don't know) to the meet up, that's fine with me, dilutes the input of this person. Then they started to manage our travel, food and other arrangements, this was the final straw for me and I was furious (it doesn't take much with me). I was going to cancel anyway as I was totally in the wrong frame of mind, but as luck would have it yet something else has gone wrong with the car so we can't go anyway. It remains to be seen how this will go down, and to be quite honest I don't care, I don't need someone who makes me feel so cross in my life. 

So, we've had a week of saying no and nothing bad has happened, a lesson we'll hopefully take forward, and now I have time to make waffles this weekend.  

Thursday, 2 November 2017

For The Minimalists

I nipped to the town for a couple of things today and decided to have a look for something to read. I have also just bought The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin, and am just at the end of Better Than Before, also by Gretchen Rubin but fancied something to flick through too. 

For anyone interested in stuff the current edition of New Philosopher is a really good read, it talks about the difference between collectors and hoarders, the relationship between possessions and happiness, gift giving, the question of why children have to share when adults don't, dealing with possessions after someone dies, and even Marie Kondo gets a mention. 

It's not a cheap read at six quid, but it's great food for thought.