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


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 -

Sandwich filling
Veggie sausages
Falafel mix
Frozen peas
Other veg

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


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.


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


singapore noodle paste
garlic puree
ginger puree
brown sauce


stuffing mix
popping corn

4kg red lentils
giant cous cous
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
soy sauce

sugar, vanilla sugar
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.


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


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


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. 


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



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 


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


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.