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Showing posts from March, 2013

Happy Place

We had a great day out tramping across fields, pointing at trees and petting dogs today on the Wyre Way (without spending any cash at all). But the best bit was getting back to the Fylde. 

Lytham was busy and beautiful, my favourite place of all, Granny's Bay, was shining and being enjoyed by folk of all ages, driving along the prom to the house was great - day trippers, motorhomes and caravans parked on the school grounds, lots of fish & chips and ice creams to be had, dogs galore running around. Home, home, home. No matter where we go (even Shrewsbury) it is always exciting to see the familiar sights of home again. And to check how much of the beach has plastered itself to the windows!

Also, by some strange quirk of fate Widnes beat Warrington 38-22 on Friday, to put this into context last year Warrington won the Challenge Cup and  reached the SuperLeague Grand Final and we finished rock bottom. Our results against them last year were a 14-52 defeat, a 68-4 defeat and a 46-12 …

The Cold Shower

You know those occasions where you're both looking forward to and not looking forward to something? That first 10 seconds when you get out of bed and it's really cold but you know you'll be warm soon, jumping into a swimming pool or walking into the sea, finishing a good book, cutting into a fresh piece of fabric, having your hair chopped, exercise. That's me today.
Today is a day that we scour the calendar for, we talk about it all year, big plans are made, clothes chosen just for the occasion - every piece counts, rituals are repeated, old standards are sung and timing is everything. All this and yet at the same time there's the feeling of dread and just wanting it to be over, knowing it's going to be painful.
Widnes are playing Warrington and I doubt it's going to be fun for us, but at the same time it's going to be more fun than most other days of the year added together. 

p.s we have a special playlist to get us in the zone, yes it does feature Whoomp…

The Easter Bunny Lives In Germany

On Tuesday evening we stared at the shelves of chocolate eggs for a long long time trying to decide which to choose. In the end we came home empty handed. I shouldn't have worried. Yesterday the postman rang the doorbell and handed over a large parcel... odd. Odd until we noticed the parcel was beautifully fragranced and featured lots of German words. An Easter gift basket full of chocolates, liquorice, peach and poppy seed cake in a jar, treats for rabbits, an Asterix book and Swabian goodies in the form of spaetzle (the Nivea is there as it's made in Hamburg and although our friend is Swabian she lives near Hamburg now). 

Friends are the best. 

No Frills

Yesterday I carried on thinking about what I do or don't do to save money. A lot of the things we/I do are money saving but that's not the primary reason for doing or not doing them, it's just a positive side effect. 

I missed the lesson where folk learned to walk in high heeled shoes, where having nails done, wearing make up, ripping fur out of my body etc were explained. Even in the days when I spent a load of cash I didn't really enjoy shopping - it's hot, sweaty, tiring work. I avoid a lot of beauty products because I don't believe I need them - make up every day, colouring my hair, having my nails done, eyebrow removal (and then drawing the eyebrows back on). The bonus side of that is that I have avoided fads, although a few years ago I did want a Juicy Tube probably because of the name. 

I get my hair cut and I even own a hair dryer. I didn't until I met Dan, the device I use belonged to his ex-girlfriend, she chose well as it's at least 15 years ol…

April Menu Plan

Everything is pencilled in, I'm a bit vague about how everything will be served (I'm not having salad if it's cold!) and we don't have any social stuff planned yet so rejiggles could happen.

1. nut roast toasties w. creamy spelt
2. stirfry
3. gigantes plaki w. bulghur and bread
4. l/o w pasta
5. curry
6. bean burgers

7. soup and toasties (rugby)
8. enchiladas
9. spicy spaghetti w. garlic mushrooms/tofu
10 lentil & garlic stew
11 out
12 curry
13 pizza

14 roast
15 mushroom goulash
16 risotto
17 moussaka
18 sweet potato cakes w. falafel or l/o moussaka
19 curry
20 tacos

21 roast
22 red thai curry
23 dahl stuffed peppers w. batata harra
24 roast veg pasta
25 puff pastry pie (make pasties)
26 picnic (rugby)
27 bean burgers

28 roast
29 Italian bean casserole
30 veg kebabs w. patatas bravas


I did finish my wallhanging this weekend. Then I stuck it up to have a peep and ... it looked terrible. It looked terrible for a good reason though. ]

Dan and I had never exchanged Christmas gifts until last year when we thought it might be nice. It was, we had a great time thinking about what we were going to buy, dropping hints and stashing gifts all over the county. I bought him some vegan mashmallows *yum*, some Lego in lovely modernist colours and some Allison Wiffen cufflinks. He bought me a piece of Shirley Craven "Phoenix" fabric. This fabric now hangs on the wall in the bedroom. It is not possible to out bold it!

So the wallhanging is now going to be a group of smaller pieces. It has been great to mess about with frames picking out the details and sections to use. The best part of it is how the project has changed. I started sewing in November 2010 and worked on it on and off for a year. Then left it last year and picked it up again last week. The house has changed a …

Good News - Bad News

The bad news - no parental visit, no compost bin

The good news - Father won't be here to watch Wigan v Widnes on tv

The bad news - we will be here and we drank all the beer last night (Stringers Dry Stout, very nice and yet another great reason to visit Ulverston)

The good news - we have a free day to lounge and not build a compost bin

The bad news - We now have no excuse to go to the pub for tea

The good news - we can make pizza

The bad news - hmmm, no more bad news

The good news - I have all weekend to work on my wall hanging and I might even finish it!

Menu Planning Problems

So today is the time to write the menu plan for April. I'm looking out of the window and it appears I live inside a giant snowglobe. How do you menu plan when the weather is so odd? I can't honestly say I can look at my recipe list and think "yes, stir fry is just the ticket" when I'm wrapped up in a quilt, the heating is on and I've had to make a hot water bottle for the bunnies? 

I think I'll just write "pie" for every meal and be done with it. 

Compost bin building doesn't seem likely either... Hey ho, tea and crumpets all round.


White walls are the impact.

I know that white is used as a blank canvas but it's still a choice. Any colour could be a blank canvas, rusty orange could be a blank canvas if all the "accents" were monochrome. Don't be ashamed of white, it's not boring, it's not bland, it's not even the default any more. We don't need to focus on the feature wall, we can appreciate the beauty in simplicity and let the light, space, shapes and air take the lead.

We need to have the areas of calm, not to cram the whole space with stuff, to be able to switch off, rest your brain, see space not emptiness. Negative space is no bad thing.

Frugal Dos and Don'ts

There's a bit of snobbery about isn't there? The frugaller than thou types, I love them. There's no point in just reading opinions I agree with because it doesn't lead me to the same reflection and learning. Not everyone is the same, what's frugal for my household of two people, two rabbits isn't going to be the same as my household growing up 5 people, one dog. Why would it be? There's no comparison. I know I'm judged as not a proper frugal person but there you go, it's about living the life we want, not slapping our bank statements out on the table. I'll start with the big one - 
We do have a credit card and use it all the time
I do use the envelope system for the grocery/household budget
I don't use Ebay, go to car boots, use freegle or buy much second hand stuff.
I don't buy many things
I do have a capsule wardrobe of 50 items (it was 48 but I bought new shoes recently)
I do use the library, I do love free books for the newly embraced kind…

Thing Babies

I very much dislike anything that has a "thing baby". You know those things that aren't stand alone items but require a load of other things to make the set, make the thing work, keep the thing alive etc. 

Gifts and decorating are the worst for this (and live at opposite ends of the enjoyment spectrum). When I buy a gift I try to buy things that don't involve thing babies - nothing with batteries, nothing that needs feeding or watering (unless it's for Father who only likes things like that, I think he'd live under a tarp in the garden if Mother would allow it), nothing that will send begging letters, junk mail, require giving personal details to someone on the end of the phone or anything that will get a renewal notice after 10 months, anything that involves having to rejig the furniture. It's a gift, not a part time job.

No gift vouchers, you see people think that gift vouchers are thing baby free but they're not. They are the holders of the most inco…

A Free Weekend

In more than one sense. 

We have no cash so the weekend has to be something out of nothing, we also have no commitments. Widnes are playing away in Perpignan and we're here not there, we don't have any social stuff to do, no-one is visiting and there are no fab freebie days to take advantage of up the road (as far as I know).

So we're going to be at home. I love my house. Occasionally I have moments of clarity and see how much work there still is to do but I mainly ignore that and focus on the nice bits. I ignore the fact that we have no flooring in the living room or bathroom, the scary strip-light in the kitchen that illuminates the rest of the kitchen, the very unkempt garden and the hay. There's a lot of hay.

I have been commanded by Father to apply three coats of stuff to a pile of wood so he can build a compost bin for me next week. I have been removing my glasses for nearly three years to avoid seeing the state of the landing so I'm going to brave the garage an…

Rejigged Menu - March

We have wandered off track with the menu a little this month, the freezer and pantry are still pretty full so here's a rejigged version, not much different, but different enough - 

1. nothing
2. nothing

3. roast
4. roast veg & chestnuts w quinoa
5. curry
6. fajitas (fr chilli)
7. lentil bol (very nice even though it was all from storecupboard stuff)
8. curry
9 out

10 houmous sandwich
11 chestnut stew
12 curry (fr) w rice and pitta
13 out
14 pasta bake
15 curry (fr)
16 chilli (fr)

17 roast
18 jambalaya
19 spelt stuffed peppers
20 tagine type thing
21 out
22 thai curry
23 pizza

24 roast
25 pasta w garlic bread
26 peri peri pie w potatoes
27 enchiladas
28 l/o enchilada filling w rice or a toastie if there are no leftovers
29 stirfry/curry (rugby dependant)
30 tacos

31 roast

What I Will Do To Save Money - part two

Give up eating meat.

Obviously meat has been a big topic of discussion recently, even before all the hoss stuff there was lots of talk about meat being an expensive treat and not a staple like before. I think I mentioned earlier that we'd walked down the meat aisle at the supermarket a while ago and I was amazed at how expensive things were these days *yikes*.

I think one of the first frugal tips I read in 2003 was to use meat as a condiment, not a main part of the meal, so it's probably always been a thing. I know a lot of people say "we weren't big meat eaters anyway..." but I was, I'd try anything new or exotic - zebra, camel, any game, all that stuff (how very 90's of me) so it wasn't a small leap to go from blood thirsty savage to meat avoider. We bought organic, free range stuff at first, we didn't live in a particularly affluent area so there was always a ton of yellow stickered Duchy Organic sausages and organic chicken bits when we went sho…



where am I? in the bathroom

what's the sky like? obscured by swirly glass, blue

what am I wearing? pyjamas

what's motivating me? awards ceremony, the fact that I always seem to have a lie in on Tuesday, the smell of laundry


where am I? in the garden

what's the sky like? blue with huge white clouds

what am I wearing? black dress, purple leggings, flip flops

what's motivating me? flowers, respite from banging, warmth, sunshine


where am I? in front of the radiator

what's the sky like? off white

what am I wearing? as 2pm

what's motivating me? curry, pitta chips, warmth, fitting into my frock

Another New Future

Work is taking over our lives at the minute. Early mornings, late evenings, stress, phonecalls, IT trauma... We've always wanted to be able to leave the work day at the door when DH gets home but that's just not possible these days, so we have to adapt. One of the main changes is that DH... I hate calling him that, I'm going to call him Dan. Dan is going to be a mobile worker, which pretty much means he's going to be here a lot more. Work life can't really be more at home than that can it? It will solve some problems with how work is at the minute but it creates a few tweaks for us.

We don't have a home office, I know I'm in the minority but I really don't think most people need one and am usually surprised when people tell me they have one. But I think maybe they're more about having a bit of private space, just for you. If you share a house with one or more people then most of the space is shared, even the bedspace. So is a desk a little haven? Som…

Rose Tinted

I feel amazing. An hour ago I felt like I needed an oxygen mask and a foil blanket but now I feel on top of the world. All down to our friends exercise and the brain. 

I love how my brain tricks me, when I was flat on my face and my arms were wobbling like crazy I was in two worlds - one world where I thought I was crazy and would never exercise again and the other where I was looking at myself wondering why I ever stopped. 

I think we have to rose tint the past sometimes to stop ourselves going doolally or from being consumed by guilt or regret. We need to be able to embrace bittersweet because sometimes we need to really believe it was all worth it, that the pain and the hard work were worth the outcome. So I can laugh about how messy my house used to be because I've diminished the pain and hard work it took to change. Same with losing weight, now I look back I remember the smoothies and the first time I climbed that hill without crying and learning to cook. But I choose to forget…

What I Thought About On Saturday

We finally braved it and totted up the spending from our eventful day out at the Trafford Centre. It was a lot. Having said that *nod to Larry David* when I sorted my wardrobe out yesterday it looked far more balanced. Along with the two hoodies I threw out my favourite shoes, they are worn out but I don't feel too bad now I have my new converse. I'd forgotten about that noise converse boots make though, I always feel like I'm wearing big clown shoes which only makes them more appealing to me. So now my clothes shopping list is down to a t-shirt, a pair of sandals, a jacket and some undergarments. That's not bad. 

We're going out tonight and I don't even feel like I have nothing to wear. Confession, I keep a roll of masking tape in the car to defluff myself before we go somewhere - the perils of a white pet.

Despite a bit of low level annoyance we had an interesting night out at the rugby, Bad Boyfriend Gareth Hock was sent off in the first half for having toilet…



where am I? under a blanket

what's the sky like? white

what am I wearing? pyjamas

what's motivating me? a nice cup of tea, rabbits, bonus day off


where am I? the trafford centre *eeeeeek*

what's the sky like? not visible

what am I wearing? blue trousers, silver vest, turquoise top, no shoes

what's motivating me? new converse, flapjacks, the alien world that is Hollister


where am I? at home

what's the sky like? steel grey

what am I wearing? as 2pm but with new pumps!

what's motivating me? Seinfeld, a nice cup of tea, funny photographs, fabric, new laptop power cord *yay*



where am I? in the kitchen

what's the sky like? seaside blue

what am I wearing? blue pyjamas

what's motivating me? washing up


where am I? in the garden

what's the sky like? blue with lots of sun

what am I wearing? jeans and a striped tunic

what's motivating me? a purple crocus, laundry, dead laptop (still living bunny with sharp teeth)


where am I? in the kitchen

what's the sky like? still blue *yay*

what am I wearing? as 2 pm, plus sandals

what's motivating me? chestnuts, hay, running out of bin bags

What I Will Do To Save Money - Part One

A few years back, right when we were nearing the end of our debt-free journey our washing machine stopped working. We could have eased up and had it fixed or bought a new one, but at that point we didn't want to deviate from the plan so we did without. From February to October other than a couple of trips to MILs with a load I hand washed everything in the bath.
I actually quite enjoyed it. 
The only slightly dodgy part was getting the very wet washing from the bathroom down the stairs and out into the garden to dry. But wash days were standardised, everything was planned and prioritised and that's how it went. I enjoyed sloshing the stuff around in the bath with the radio on. I won't say I wasn't happy to have the washing machine back but I think it was a little bit like making your own bread, there was something about handling the fabric and taking care of each little bit of the load that got me back in touch with the things I own and an appreciation of the time and ef…

March Spending, Week One

So the general budget has been kaboomed as usual due to exciting spends such as petrol, Rugby League World Cup tickets, contact lenses etc . But the basic savings are tucked away and the change jar seems nice and heavy so can't complain. 

As mentioned the other day we ditched the supermarket and went into the town instead. We bought lots and lots of bread and an iced finger for me, firey chutney, hair stuff, bird food, dates *yum*, other toiletries and a couple of food bits and bobs - almost too much for me to carry on my own without the rucksack and spent £28.92. Not a super low spend but it's plenty to get us to maybe Tuesday of next week with just greens for the buns to buy. 

When we got home DH made some little mushroom and pepper pizzas with some of the bread and I roasted all the veg we had - red onion, mushrooms, cauliflower and celeriac. Half has gone into the freezer and the other half will be used this week. We were supposed to have a roast yesterday but we were too bu…



Where am I? at home

What's the sky like? beautiful blue

What am I wearing? grey leggings, black dress, slippers

What's motivating me? toast, the sea, bird food


Where am I? at home

What's the sky like? bluer still

What am I wearing? as 9am

What's motivating me? getting ready, shouting, Gareth Hock


Where am I? Leggies, Widnes

What's the sky like? Overcast

What Am I Wearing? Pink t-shirt, black leggings, denim skirt

What's Motivating Me? Beer, early kick off, "Don't Stop Believing", really really really bad singing and a very high volume, Gareth Hock

(Widnes beat Hull FC 36-16 to notch up our second win of the season).

Simple Days

The past couple of days have been really simple but very busy. Thursday I had my hair chopped which was great, a beautiful sunny, if cold, day. Yesterday a visit from a friend, we kept it short at a mere 10 hours and today grocery shopping in the town.

We reached the town and decided to buy what we could there rather than heading to the supermarket. We stopped off for coffee and toast at our new favourite cafe then wandered around the various shops - some chains, some local to buy what we needed (and Fisherman's Friends). 

It was an eye opener. There was a band performing an uptempo rendition of "The Winner Takes It All" by ABBA, loads of dogs fresh from a walk on the beach, the sun was out and I saw the town with new eyes. We looked up and saw the lovely buildings and looked around to see the details on the pavement and on the walls of the old buildings. I think I saw it all because I didn't have my camera with me and simply not looking for things to document made me …