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Showing posts from July, 2013

August Budget

It's quite simple, £150 for petrol and that's that. The not-holiday budget is a separate thing. We have no plans to buy anything for the house or to do any DIY, there are no plans for anything so the money will be spent on what it's spent on. Hopefully some of it will end up in the savings account or be set aside for ticking a few things off the winter list. Short and sweet. 
The July budget went. We bought a toilet seat, went out a lot, had a fab day in Birmingham, received a crochet Moomin and spent money on DIY things *booo*, there's £1.50 left. There is no grocery budget left, that went a long time ago! But here we are, things are better than they were before and we have yet more stuff planned for the next month or so. Pretty pretty pretty good.


At the end of June a friend challenged me to join her in the 30 Day Squat Challenge, as the name suggests you do lots of squats for 30 days, starting off with 50 and ending up on the final day doing 250. 
Today is the final day of our challenge. I can't quite believe I saw it through, especially in the heat but here we are! I've just done my last set and now it's over. It wasn't a tough challenge physically but getting up every day knowing I had to do them got a little boring in the middle of the month. I have to say it's been more than worth it. As I've said before, I'm not a finisher but I have finished this small challenge when no-one would really have known if I'd have packed it in so I'm happy about that. It has also made a huge difference to how I look, so that's a great motivator to step away from the junk I've been eating all all those bottles of beer here and there and move back towards healthy living, you know just in time to start …

Cold Weather List

Yes I know, first spot of rain and I'm thinking about winter. But I know we need some fairly expensive stuff to see us through this winter so I need to keep things in mind. It's just the regular stuff - winter boots, coat, warm trousers, curtain linings etc. Our utility bills have rocketed recently, gone are the days of our old house where we paid £24 a month for electricity and about the same for gas! It's quite surprising what the hot weather has taught me about what I need for the cold weather. 

We don't have a stove or a real fire (yet) so we have no alternative cooking method if the electricity goes. Every year we flip flop about buying a little camping stove or similar just in case. We've never had a power cut but with the way things are going maybe that small outlay would help. I really can't decide. Obviously it would be a life saver if we did have a power cut but it would have thingbabies too - something to heat stuff in for a start. The option we'v…

August Menu Plan Week 1

I'm doing a week by week menu plan for August because there's the not-holiday (I know I've been going on about it but we're really looking forward to the break from normality) and because we haven't stuck to the menu plan recently - mainly due to the weather. So a little, simple plan for the first week should be cheap and cheerful before the main event.

1. red Thai curry using the last blob of frozen thai paste
2. enchiladas using the frozen wraps and leftover bag of salsa 3. biriyani  4. pasta bake  5. puff pastry pie with herby potatoes using the last scrape of curry pasta and veg puree 6. plaki with hash 
7. ratatouille with something... 8. leftovers with bulghur 

Free Fun

We've just had a wonderful free afternoon enjoying a kite festival on the beach. The fun was still in full swing when we left although we did get to see the parachuting teddy bears! A gorgeous day, a very low tide, loads of people and fun for everyone, might nip down again tomorrow. 

Not-Holiday Budgeting

As you know I've not felt as though the budget has been going very well recently. August means the not-holiday is upon us (finally) so that could spell disaster but I hope a little planning will help. On the not-holiday we are going to Glasgow - train tickets bought and paid for and we need to fill the car for trips north, south and east plus a couple of local trips. I almost guarantee I'll demand a day out in Clitheroe and a tramp around on Pendle Hill. So petrol will be a large chunk of the budget next month, as it is every month!

Our vague idea is that on a couple of the longer trips to Spurn Point and The Bowes Museum we'll take a basic picnic with us (that way we can stop off for cake). On the trips to Glasgow and Ludlow we'll seek out something to eat when we're there so we'll just take some water and a small snack with us. The day we go to Clitheroe we'll have a cone of chips from the Castle chippery.

I'm going to be in charge of paying for picnic …

Just Do Your Job Woman!

I'm doing the opposite of getting a quart into a pint pot. Is that making a silk purse out of a sow's ear? We're out of grocery money and in the fridge there was one flat mushroom, a 3cm piece of courgette, 1/3 of an orange pepper. In the pantry there was a sweet potato, two shallots and a red onion. And 8 meals to make. Hmmm

So I've made some plaki with one shallot, a sweet potato curry with one shallot and the sweet potato. I'll use a bit of the onion, the pepper, mushroom and courgette with some beans to make taco filling for tonight and some leftover to make into a spicy rice thing the following day. That's all the veg gone so then it'll be beans on toast with v-pud (due to popular demand), some kind of pasta with falafel and a life-saving tagine from the freezer makes up the numbers. 

I've even run out of red lentils now. Flipping heck. Now I'm undecided what to do next month, we're having the not-holiday so I almost certainly don't need …

Rainy Day Money

We're trying to save this ten grand for a rainy day. Problem is it's just so sunny at the minute. We can't or won't stop spending money and it's making me cross. Well, I think I'm cross mainly because I can't get any sleep due to the heat but it just makes everything else more annoying.

The problem is there are a lot of things coming up at the end of the year - the Rugby League World Cup, Stewart Lee, my scream-and-get-excited night out to see They Might Be Giants. It all involves buying tickets in advance and they all cost money. Of course we are full of plans to recoup that money during those months because our social activities are taken care of for the best part of two months. The thing is, that just won't happen. It never does because although we will be out and about not needing to spend much there will be all those things on the need/want list - a new suit (or two) and winter coat for Dan, winter shoes and (horror of horrors) new specs for me, the…


Spurred on by the visit of one of our friends in October we've decided to write and get done a snag list. We started this weekend with mixed results. 

First thing off the snag list was a new toilet seat, I've hated the one we had since we moved in but for some reason this weekend became the weekend it hit top of the to-do list. It went well. Second thing was to clean some dust from the inside of a picture frame in the living room. It did not go well. How hard can it be to take a picture down, clean it and stick it up again? I'll tell you - impossible. So now we have 3 lovely pictures and one very wonky one. I will never understand how it happened. 

Thing three can't decide whether this is a positive or a negative. I accidentally threw my phone across the room (it's not really my phone, it's Dan's old phone, I killed my phone this time last year by allowing a storm to live inside it). My living room floor is concrete, the Sony Experia cannot cope with that imp…

Mid-Month Update

We are pretty much out of money but we do have a full fridge and pantry, the savings account is more plump than before and we don't need to do anything for the rest of the month. It's hard to talk about this stuff as it all just takes care of itself. Not like the fun (in my mind) days of rifling through pockets for bonus change or finding a packet of crisps in the back of the cupboard. The money just does what the money does. This hot weather has thrown the menu plan out of the window, I had only just got my cooking drive back and now I'd happily never enter the kitchen again. 

My parents and brothers are heading off to Paris today to watch the cycling, lucky people, we will be going to Widnes tonight to watch the rugby. Not quite the same level of fun and togetherness but it does show similar levels of commitment. Did I say I wouldn't talk about that again? Oh, I've been doing that 30 day squat challenge that's knocking about and it's going well, I was a bi…

Oh The Drama!

*wearing my best housecoat I swoon and faint onto a handy chaise*

I have entered a period of anomie, sad but true or a slight exaggeration. Everyone is doing something, you're all doing something. Selling beautiful things, doing charitable things, growing stuff, working, rescuing chickens. How did I become the person who does nothing? Laziness, that's how. Problem solved. I think I think if I can can do it then it must be so blindingly obvious and easy everyone else must be able to do it too. Other than talk about the finer details of accent diffusion in the North West of England, I own up to the fact I know more about that than most. 

What triggered this strange state of affairs? We moved the dining table. 

We moved the bunny pen into a cooler room, it's rather warm at the minute (just reminding myself it really did happen for future reference). So after 3 days of the house being a mess we set the dining table up in the living area. What a revelation, it magically turned int…

Coconut Ice Cream

I have no desire to make my own ice cream, however I would really like some coconut ice cream. I know it exists but I can't find it anywhere. I think Fredericks in Chorley is my best bet but it's a bit of a trek for a small tub. I've been banging on about it for weeks. Dan ran through the front door last evening and shoved something straight into the freezer. The way he ran in I thought he'd rescued some poor unfortunate creature. In a way he had. He'd been to Blackpool and on the way home passed Notarianni's, popped in and bought me a tub of ice cream topped with nuts and a flake. Do you see what he did there? Coco(a) and nuts! Very clever. 
Then as if by magic I saw an idea for covering a blueberry in coconut cream, rolling it in coconut and sticking it in the freezer. It would appear I'm not the only person who desires frozen coconutty deliciousness. Could I just freeze a Bounty? I love Bessant and Drury vegan ice cream, it's made from coconut milk bu…



where am I? on a train, somewhere near Manchester

what's the sky like? very blue, cloudless

what am I wearing? black dress, black sandals

what's motivating me? Birmingham! 


where am I?custard factory via the warehouse cafe a great veggie cafe, plenty of vegan options. Dan went for feta stuffed courgette flower with millet, I had a hot and sweet burger - burger topped with chilli, pineapple and sweet potato served with bulghur and chickpea salad. Rounded off with Digbeth Mess (vegan Eton Mess) and a lavender lemonade. 

what's the sky like? very blue

what am I wearing? same as 9am plus a striped hat

what's motivating me? graffiti, scooters, old cars, shopping, fabric, heat, mosaic, people


where am I? Post Office Vaults pub.

what's the sky like? not visible, I'm under the ground!

what am I wearing? same as 2pm but with super comfy tevas rather than nice fashionable black sandals.

what's motivating me? a rest!

Town or Country

What do you think are the places for cheapest or best value days out?
I think it's probably cities. Yes there's more to spend on but once you're there there's generally more free stuff too. Galleries, museums, street performances, markets to putter around, open spaces to sit and have your picnic etc. If you can avoid the lure of the shops then there's plenty to do rain or shine. The countryside is free but it's not necessarily set up for fun times if it starts to boil or chuck it down with rain. 
Cities require no equipment, you can wear what you want, just turn up and you'll be ok. Country requires proper footwear and things unless you want to look like one of those people who get stranded half way up the fell carrying your child in a rucksack wearing only flipflops and a sundress. The seaside is in theory cheap but for a full day it too requires equipment, at a minimum it requires a book or a dog, at worst it requires some kind of temporary structure to pre…

Being Organised

I love my pantry but it does seem to end up as the place where things go when they need to go somewhere. Far from being my ideal Martha Stewart vision of gorgeousness (Sorry Henry).

So today is a day to sort stuff out. 

Normally this wouldn't be something I would necessarily be excited about but it does involve colour coding, tabs and big stars, so not too shabby. 

I Can Never Decide

Which is more anti-social - bbq's with their smoky smell wandering all over the place and meat festing outside in the musty heat or me for failing to see the appeal of this method of food preparation and the insect-dodge-dance while eating. This is before we get to the paddling pool full of bottles (it angers me, I don't know why) and maybe even the insanity that it squeezing a bouncing castle into the garden. Like some kind of domestic "fun day" only without the fund raising. 
It all seems to be part of some bigger thing where we need to have an excuse to do something we want. There's the toe-curling anger-inducing "wine o'clock"  along with "oooh naughty me drinking on a school night but I have been stressed/ had a nice day/ seen a friend/ been paid/not been paid/ deserve a treat". Take aways are subject to the same rationale. Clothes buying, having a day off work, choosing to do or not do something that everyone else is or isn't doin…


Dan has been to Nottingham for work purposes three times in the past year. Visit 1. stuck for 3 hours in a traffic jam on the way home. Visit 2. a train decided to catch fire near Salford meaning no trains to Manchester on the way home. Visit 3. (yesterday) no trains into Nottingham, had to take the bus from Derby, delayed both ways. I know these things are supposed to come in threes but I think he'd be a crazy person to attempt it again. I hope it brings better fortune to the England cricket team this week. 
I think my new vintage fabric is always going to smell vintagey.
The 30 day squat challenge is going well, for the first time ever I think my quads now balance out my gigantic calves. No knee high boots for me!
My hands have developed a really weird set of lumps all over them. Dan has put it down to washing up so I am banned from doing any for the time being *hooray*. That's one working in my favour.
Surely nothing can go wrong in Birmingham at the weekend..?

Should Have Gone To A Well Known Optician

Or anywhere else instead of where I was last night.

It was not a Belle Vue for Widnes fans. I must have made up some compound bad words I was so cross. It was bad, really, really, really pathetically, depressingly bad. And angering. I shouted a lot and I was not the only person. One positive is that the Trust In Widnes message board swear filter changes the bad words to chocolate bars. I ended up having a bounty from the shop to cheer myself up. Oh and by the way, I've dumped my bad boyfriend. He's no good for me. 

Seriously, I have nothing positive to say about it.

The Boiler Guy

I am in the unfortunate position of having my heating on for the past hour. It's exceptionally hot.

The boiler guy was here. Normally you would expect me to not really want to deal with someone like a boiler guy being the awkward and slightly anti-social type that I am. Not the boiler guy. I love the boiler guy. 

He's very smiley, he's a Buddhist, he's a survivalist, he has many pets, he loves spiders, he loves the pen we have in the living room for our buns, he loves the buns, he knows a lot about fish, he takes his bearded lizard on holiday with him, he is amused that our boiler is very old but in very good condition. There is nothing to dislike about the boiler guy as he provides a boiler service at a very reasonable price. In fact we had so much fun this morning I had to remind him to take his money.

He is not like Davey the electrician. Davey is a very nice bloke but he does love a romantic crisis. He's much harder work, although it is fun to be an agony aunt occ…

The Good Things

Today I ate two strawberries that I grew myself. I'm not a gardener so this is a big deal.
We attended a showing of the film "Little Shop of Horrors" last night as part of an annual festival of words Wordpool. this year it's very small but the events all look like huge fun, there's a family event tomorrow in the park, there was the film last night at the very gorgeous Winter Gardens - complete with roller skating usherettes brought to us by those wonderful folks from Aunty Social (look out for the roller derby team getting in some practice on the Comedy Carpet in front of Blackpool Tower and they're responsible for the yarn bombing and all other varieties of wonderfulness).
I am over the hate hump with my latest quilt, great timing as it's set to be super hot today so what could be better than sitting under multiple layers of fabric. Silly me. 
I am over the hate hump with cooking (I've been off cooking for 12 years).
It's nearly time for The Ashes, t…


where am I? under the bed what am I wearing? jeans and a bunny jumper, one flip flop* what's the sky like? not visible what's motivating me? fluff, window cleaner trauma
*no ice cream man was present
where am I? in the garden what am I wearing? jeans, traffic light t-shirt, both flip flops what's the sky like? grey with wet blobs what's motivating me? vintage fabric smell, lily of the valley, the amount of pink, purple and white flowers we have
where am I? in the kitchen what am I wearing? as 2pm what's the sky like? still grey! what's motivating me? spinach, extracting grey rabbit from the pantry, knitting, improving my housewiffing before October

Window Cleaners and Ice Cream Vans

They must be two of the most stressful domestic experiences. I know a lot of you probably think waiting for a parcel but they leave a card don't they so you can rearrange delivery or nip off to the office thing. Oh, yes, collecting from next door, that's up there with ice cream vans and window cleaners. 

When the rubbish weather was around it altered my window cleaner's cycle. I used to know when he'd be here but now it's pot luck. So I was out looking at honeysuckle this morning when I spotted him up his ladder a few doors down. So now what to do? I was sensible enough to get cashback from the shop last evening but I only have a tenner, the windows are a bargainous £8 (I'd pay him that just to do my bedroom window - oi, sauce! Not in a Confessions of a Window Cleaner way). Add into the mix it's spitting with rain. 

So do I do that funny "trying to attract your attention" dance when he cleans the living room window (he thinks I work from home, rathe…

Not What You Want To Read About

As you know I'm not one of those frugal types who does anything to save money. I was, but at the minute I don't have to be so I'm not. As a consequence of that we "waste" a fair bit of money, but I always pride myself of knowing not to throw good money after bad.

But, I am a liar. Yesterday not only did I waste money, I threw good money after bad, wasted time and spent time with people I would rather never have met. Can you see which way this is going? Sport is the one place all sense flies out of the window. I watched Leeds run in 7 first half tried against a Widnes team so disorganised I can't even begin to imagine what happened during training this week. Grown men were angry, children were crying - even the ground staff couldn't be bothered to get the sandbags out to weigh down the advertising hoardings - to the extent that Widnes Vikings super fan Pat Price had to organise Kemik, our mascot to take time off from squirting fans with a water pistol do th…