Saturday, 21 January 2017

Retail Therapy

It was decided by Dan that I needed a treat last night to help get over the shock of yesterday. I think everyone else was on the same wavelength as I saw on Facebook someone else had treated themselves to a takeaway and others had gone out for a drink. I made some popcorn and we used a bit more of our Google Play voucher to rent the David Brent film, just what was needed on a Friday night. 

Today we took my birthday money out to see if there was anything for me. I have recently had to downgrade my only cardi, favourite dress, and a jumper due to damage and general scruffiness, which only left me with two jumpers and a long sleeved t-shirt, so I wanted some warm clothes and a replacement dress. I have to say I did pretty well!

First purchase was a cardi for £1 from my favourite Animal Care shop, it's just a Primark item but I like it a lot, it's quite thick and just my style. 

Second shop, Salvation Army I bought a black and white dress replacement, it wasn't bargain basement cheap at £7.99 but I like it. 

Third shop, St John's Hospice, a jumper

I get the impression this was an unwanted gift at some point.

I also picked up a plain M&S black jumper £3, a grey jumper dress £3.50 a belt for with the Laura Ashley dress £1.50 and a jumper for Dan to wear for work £4. Loads of basics all in one go! I also took my book voucher but there was nothing I fancied so I'll leave that for another time. 

Back at home and Dan's making bread and I'll be making a cauliflower and squash curry for later. The market stall was selling veg for 50p an item so I thought it would be a treat for tonight and something good for the freezer. 

Friday, 20 January 2017

Shocked (but maybe only a bit)

I was shocked to receive a message from my manager to say that after a visit from a surveyor (we have had trouble with the building for over a year) the shop is no longer insured and as of today it has closed, the managers have been made redundant and that's that. I'm not surprised it's come to this but not that it's just such an abrupt end.

It is such a relief to me that the manager had already secured a new job elsewhere as she has a young family and there has been no notice period. 

Bit annoyed I spent two hours yesterday changing the window displays though!

Grocery Shopping

Something we've learned this month, we both like grocery shopping. We did a largish shop at the start of the month, then another largish shop when we went to Unicorn, but that gave me a bit of a jolt. We were shopping because we wanted to go to the shop, not because we couldn't make do with what we had. We're still within budget, but it was an interesting thing to notice how we were grocery shopping for recreation rather than need. 

When we first started cutting back in 2004 we were spending £650 on food every month, not including the assorted coffee and sandwiches we ate at work - I was out of the house for 14 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week so nothing was cooked from scratch and to be honest I was a bit of a zombie. Over the course of a year we slashed that monthly total to £90, because I changed job, it made things so much easier. 

In the first ten days of this month we spent £83.11 (!) in the second ten days we have spent £14.35 including £7.50 points used for almond milks Dan returned home with last night. I think we're starting to see where some of our money leaks come from - we need to strike a balance between my small shops for things we need and Dan's need to know we have enough stuff. On my part we need to not stock up at the start of the month.  I don't like thinking we'll run out of nuts or something expensive, so I always buy them first. We've never run out and even if we did I'd buy a small bag to tide us over, even if was slightly more expensive per kilo. February will be structured differently as it's the first of three savings push months, I'm hoping to slash all budgets to the bone for this period to boost the bathroom fund. 

Thursday, 19 January 2017

The Log Jam

Another gloomy morning.

I love the chair in my bedroom but since we bought some new bedroom furniture the chair has been a magnet for mess rather than a nice place to sit. Having said that I don't think I really sit in the chair that much, I just look at it.

The evidence 

See how it attracts floor and horizontal surface based friends too. 

Hardly respecting my possessions or creating a relaxing space. 

So the chair is now in the dining area - I have to bring it down whenever people visit anyway so hopefully it will be less of a clutter magnet that stops me from putting things away more easily (my whole thing is to make things easier to put away than they are to get out) and more of a ... chair.

Lots of people have been talking about bullet journals recently. I have read quite a few articles about it and (without wanting to cause offence to fans of the method) is there more to it than being a series of really fancy lists? I assume I'm missing something but from the way some people speak about it I get the impression it's the crossfit of journaling.

Having said all that it has motivated me to use my diary to write to-do lists. So far it's working quite well as I'm planning tasks that naturally piggy back onto each other so I've been pretty productive so far this week. I just need to get the bags of donations out of the house, unfortunately my shop isn't accepting books at the minute so I'll have to drop them off elsewhere, but we have no shortage of shops in the town so I'm sure someone will take them. 

And we get to go to the tip at the weekend!

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

When The Sun Shines

Yesterday was calm and sunny so I ventured out into the garden.

In the autumn we chopped down a couple of trees and the plant tangle at the bottom of the garden (I say that as though the bottom of the garden is more than a few metres from the house!), you can see the before and after here. The pile of debris has been behind the garage ever since, yesterday I started to do something about  despite Dan being King of the Green Bin. I filled the bin then chopped up all the remaining smaller bits and tidied them into the bulk bag the garden cobbles came in. I just left the larger branches stacked up. It didn't take all that long and it looks so much better, and is less of an assault course for the window cleaner. OK, so I haven't actually done anything but I feel like we're a bit closer to a garden I want to look at rather than avoid.

I also spotted the first snowdrop of the year and lots of green shoots, all that bulb planting was worth it.  It's raining today so I feel even better about getting out while the sun was shining. 

Monday, 16 January 2017

Focus and Primp

Here's a sentence you don't write everyday - I read something really positive on Facebook yesterday, this article, it asks the question 

"Why can't you accomplish your ten year goal in the next six months?".

I don't have a ten year plan, but we do have some things we want to do, and it got me thinking, why can't we accomplish some of our goals that we think will take another 8 months, or a year, or more. I spoke to Dan about it and with a bit of thrashing about (and in Dan's case getting wrapped up in the detail) we think we're going to move one of our end of the year goals to a spring one. 

We need to have some work done on the bathroom (you can see our temporary leak solution here) and were going to have everything replaced, we then downscaled the job - by deciding to keep the original bath and sink and just have new tiles, shower, toilet, cabinet, light, radiator, flooring, bath panel and bath screen. We've now decided to just replace the tiles, shower, cabinet, light, bath panel and bathscreen. Eventually we're going to need new central heating so we're going to live with the radiator we have until then. I know we should probably have the heating done first but I am sick of showering in a place covered with plastic bags to stop the water leaking into the kitchen and we won't have enough money to do both.

Assuming we can find someone willing to do such a small job we're hoping to have it done around March or April. I'm almost excited!

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Eat In, Eat Out

After the trip round Unicorn on Sunday we didn't really go shopping this week, just nipped in for broccoli, mushrooms and bleach. Despite this I still need to recoup some cash as we had to replace our carbon monoxide alarm (£20), we ate out for my birthday and it was our wedding anniversary yesterday. 

We weren't planning to do anything for our anniversary, we make more of a thing of the day that we met, but due to some bad planning we didn't have anything to take with us to the football for lunch. As luck would have it on Friday night Dan was pointed in the direction of a newish cafe with some vegan options, right in the centre of Burnley - Little Barista. 

 I have to say I was impressed. A good choice of teas and coffee, almond, coconut and soya milk are all available, although at extra cost. There was not one, but five sweet treats - apricot croissant, carrot cake, a fruit crumble bar, chocolate and walnut brownie, and a coffee and orange cake. There was even a sandwich! We shared the sandwich, which they called a taco, it was a soft flatbread with roast vegetables, served toasted, it was really very nice. On this occasion neither of the soups were suitable for vegans but they do have sfv soups regularly.  

We went halves on the cakes (coffee orange on the left, chocolate walnut on the right, the chcocolate one was served warm). They weren't cheap but they were amazing! Also on sale were 10 Acre crisps - yes including When The Cheese Met The Onion, Karma Cola and Whole Earth soft drinks. Oh, and the staff are some of the most pleasant you will come across and were more than happy to help.

As a result of all this spending the menu plan is being stretched as much as possible. On Thursday I made a big pan of spicy rice with lots of veg and black eyed beans, there was a bit too much for one meal, so before I stirred in the rice I kept some of the veg mix aside to have the same again the next night. I don't always want to eat rice, but when I'm in the mood it's all I want to eat! I added an extra couple of pepper slices from a jar of roast peppers, a few more mushrooms and some pumpkin and sunflower seeds. We also had some cauliflower fritters. 

A small cauliflower, or half a large, some fresh coriander, water and the above spices and gram flour, blitzed up and cooked in the frying pan. The original recipe can be seen here.

We ate some with our spicy rice, but had enough mixture left to have some when we got home from the match (Up The Clarets). Served with a little bit of salad, some houmous, mango chutney and hot sauce. Lovely!

Today Dan is making bread and I will be making a mushroom, chestnut and sage bulghur bowl, another pantry meal, another budget stretcher.