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Showing posts from December, 2013


I've seen about the place that folk are choosing a word or concept to carry them through 2014. After not a huge amount of thought mine is going to be something along the lines of "action" or "doing". I seem to have done a lot of planning and talking recently and now is the time to do something too. 

Yesterday I was chatting to someone I know from an exercise forum I used to visit and I swore to her (or myself) that I would not be having the same conversation this time next year as we were having right then. That's all about doing. I am fully equipped but having the right stuff doesn't mean anything if I don't use it.

As for NYE can you believe I have to go to the charity shop. Ha! I am secretly hoping that it's really really quiet, quite the opposite of doing, but I am allowing myself one final day of lazing. 

Best wishes to everyone.

Updated Lists and Choices

I was a bit all over the place before. 

After flip-flopping I decided to use the Christmas gift money to replace the (already replaced) money used to buy clothes last month, so that's packed away in the savings account. 

The January shopping list is shorter now, we don't need a shampoo bar (our shampoo issues are long and tedious) and Dan picked up a pack of wraps for 19p earlier. I don't know if I mentioned it the other day but Father gave me some turnips, so they're hanging up in the garage for whenever I do something with them, Dan can't eat them so it'll be a steam and freeze affair when I have space in the freezer. 

The January grocery list now looks like this - 

bunny veg
other veg (whatever's cheap or looks good)
other fruit

sandwich filling


chilli flakes
cereal (3 boxes)

Countdown to "The Big One"

I've cut out another single use item, toilet cleaner. Recently I bought a bottle of pine disinfectant and when I read the blurb it said it can be used the clean the toilet. Excellent. I'm not usually an anti-bac, disinfectant person but I have the bottle and it's already had a load of use, even if it's not massively eco-friendly. When we were first cutting down on spending I tried all the frugal tips, vinegar and bicarb for cleaning came up all the time. True, they do the job but it's not a cheap way to do it in my experience.

We're totting up our savings targets and things for next year. It's a lot. I'm really happy because our master "to buy" list is pretty short. This list is everything we "need" for the year ahead - clothes, shoes, work stuff, DIY things and all that. The only things on the list this time are the big things, which we know won't happen like a replacement kitchen and flooring for the living area. That's ok. …

December Groceries Roundup

Today was not a no spend day but it was a "get a few things crossed off the list day". Breaking our normal rule we went to the shops, although it was really, really quiet so it didn't feel like we were at the sales, few people, no queues, no nothing really. 

We used the Christmas gift vouchers and a bit of cash to buy some stuff we were after - craft storage for me , work clothes and new trainers for Dan and a new rug for the buns. Not exciting but there you go, I'd rather use a voucher for a shop I don't usually visit to get these things than to part with my own cash. The quilt storage is very nice too, it's a big bag for me to stash everything in at the end of the day, if it doesn't quite make its way into the cupboard it still looks good in the room. It's massive and very sturdy.

We also bought groceries, we spent £9.92 including a big (reduced) quiche for Dan, it's a very rare treat these days so why not. So we are well over the £90 target, but …

Another Christmas Bonus

No spend days.

I don't think there's another time of the year where it's so easy for us to avoid spending! We bought petrol and oil on Monday and nothing since. Our shopping list for tomorrow is bunny veg, bread and mushrooms. We could do without two of them if push came to shove. I love it.

£90 Shopping List

Trying to cram all the food gifts we received into the pantry I decided to use my new mini notepad to do the pantry inventory and work out the basic shopping list for next month. I was very happy to see we're still very well stocked so I won't be feeling the need to run out to the shops, now there's a relief. Luckily, one of our gifts was a set of jars of chutney, very useful for lunchtime. I'm not fully sure what we're going to do with the hamper of ginger products but I'm sure they'll come in useful somewhere along the line. 

Not included in the £90 is £16 for hay.

bunny veg
other veg (whatever's cheap or looks good)
other fruit

sandwich filling

puff pastry

chilli flakes
cereal (3 boxes)

shampoo bar

The shampoo bar will take a chunk out of the budget but it's needed. We don't need any other household products so it'll be an inexpensive month in that regard. £90 …

We Even Got A Change Jar

We seemed to receive a lot of presents this year. Bunny-related stuff was at an all term low, rugby items doubled from last year, toiletries down, pyjamas and hats up, books constant. All very practical.

One of the bunny items came in a small, sturdy looking box, with a Q on the top and front. " "Q" for "quid" " said Dan, "It can be our sealed pot". So it is. Bonus gift and the sender didn't even know it.

Busy Relaxing

We're in the car as much as the house at the minute. This morning is a car check, top up anything we need in the winter emergency bag, then load up with presents and off we go again. Dan loves driving and I love being in the car, especially now I have my "Mr Noisy" neck pillow. I am looking forward to Friday though when we can spend a whole day at home.

The rabbits found their Christmas present, so that's already had a good chewing. It's still a bit odd to think it's Christmas Eve but here it is whether I'm ready or not! One of my favourite things about where we are is the amount of churches nearby, hearing the bells on Christmas Eve is always a pleasure and makes me very happy indeed. 

The good thing about today is that reality is on hold. It's just all about today and tomorrow, not really discussing the plans for next year or thinking about how this year has been. It's just about Christmas Eve, whatever that is. 

Best wishes to anyone reading, stay…

Christmas Bonus

A wee while ago Dan's step mum mentioned that they were going to the Opera House in the Winter Gardens, Blackpool to see the musical "Scrooge" with Tommy Steele. So we said we'd come along too. It was the matinee performance and we thought it would be a little bit cheesy but ideal for getting us in the festive spirit. I apologise wholeheartedly to all concerned for the first part. It was sensational. Tommy Steele was amazing, everything about it was just wonderful and everyone had a great time - even the little boy behind us who was a little scared of the ghosts. Perfect venue, perfect crowd, perfect production. 

The second Christmas bonus arrived in the post. A brown envelope doesn't bring good news all that often, less still one from a solicitor. Again, how wrong we were. It contained a cheque, which must be one of the best things to be popped through the letterbox. It was something to do with the purchase of this house, very much a surprise as we've been he…

January Menu Plan

Blimey, here we are already. Even though it's really just another month it feels quite difficult to do this plan. I suppose it's all bound up in the intentions and desires to make a good start to the new year and all that stuff. 

One thing we are planning to do is to have a roast or similar on a Sunday, at least until the rugby season starts. I'm also putting simple stuff on a Tuesday. I don't get back from the shop until 5 so minimal prep is the order of the day. It's basic, it's simple, it's using what I know we have in. When stocks run low I'll probably look for some new recipes but I'm not a foodie type so eating the same tried and tested things each time works well for me, Dan is the same, it works well even if it might bore others to tears!

1. leftovers - there's bound to be something
2. risotto/fried rice
3. chestnut pie w mash
4. plaki w lentil grill

5. roast
6. stirfry w. noodles
7. spaghetti
8. out
9. leek & butterbean crumble
10 lentil and m…

Having an Old Friend For Dinner

Tonight, unless the weather threatens to take over the town, I am venturing out to meet an old friend. I haven't seen him for 13 years so who knows how it will go. The thing is there's no real catching up to be done. We started chatting again on the old social networks so there's no news and no surprises really. None of the "oooh, you've changed, look at your hair" etc. 

In one sense it's good I suppose and in another sense there's no anticipation, it'll be just like a normal interaction only we sat in the same pub for a change. Weird.

Joining The Club

Twinkly tree, pinecones and lanterns, a ceramic snowman filled with chocolates, nuts in shells, citrus fruits, babycham, black forest cake, sprouts, Tommy Steele, glittery jumper, pomegranate juice, spare room filled with stuff. I think that's the full checklist and yet there's something missing.

I'm not feeling festive. I'm very happy and excited but not about Christmas, just about things in general - rag rugs, lino prints, another quilt, lovely husband, seeing a friend for the first time in 13 years, birthday, snowdrops, coal tits, flannelette sheets, yellow nail polish. It's probably better to be excited about that stuff than the other way round though. 

I think the Rugby League World Cup threw me out. One minute it was the start of October then all of a sudden it was December. Plus the RLWC was so amazing almost anything else falls by the wayside. And it's too warm, no good at all. 

I have sent two cards. One to my friend in The Netherlands, that happened beca…

Food Log

First of all, I was wrong in my comments yesterday, we became debt free in 2006, saved for 2 years for a car which should have taken us to December 2008 but only took until the end of August. Phew, cleared that one up. Thank you Dave Ramsey.
I've been having a look at my online supermarket receipts (thank you Booths) and it's an interesting read. Obviously I don't buy everything from the supermarket so, just out of interest, I'm going to go back to keeping a note of everything I buy. Just to check I really am sticking to the budget I say I am and to keep an eye on anything naughty that's sneaking into the trollop. I know how the budget's going this month as there's still £98.07 in the grocery account so I'm still just under budget but we'll go over and probably end up around the £110 mark again. But that's fine, happy with that. 
We're going to stick with an aim of £90 for January. As I said yesterday we're not hitting that goal but it…

2014 Planning

It will be more of the same with some things done differently! We've slightly adjusted the amount going straight into savings so there's more than we're currently saving but we're going against the grain and getting rid of the annual expense fund. We've had one for coming up to 10 years and it doesn't really work for us any more. We may return to this system of budgeting in the future, but not next year. 

It was ideal when we were paying off debts and we needed to know there was a separate account for car stuff, vet bills, gifts and things like that but that's not where we are now. We've been working to a budget since 2003 when we had the lightbulb moment so over the years we've jiggled and adjusted things so it works out that we have one biggish expense per month - January is nothing, February Dan glasses, March pre-paid prescription, April loads of birthdays, May car stuff, over the summer my glasses, any work on the house and the boiler service, O…



where am I? In the car on the prom
what's the sky like? Blue and grey
what am I wearing? Neon skirt, beige top, grey leggings, grey converse
what's motivating me? gift shopping and collections of jelly babies, submarines, things made from pianos and sci fi games at the Grundy. 


where am I? at a garden centre
what's the sky like? very grey with fast moving clouds
what am I wearing? as 9am
what's motivating me? a cup of tea and an iced bun, vegetable seeds, freebies


where am I? in the kitchen
what's the sky like? not visible but the weather sounds awful
what am I wearing? pink trousers, bunny jumper, slippers
what's motivating me? bargains from the FYC pop up shop, spaghetti, Parks and Recreation

The Descent

I have nothing to report.
The Christmas tree is in the house but still undecorated, it is under attack from the white rabbit. The money is bobbing along as it tends to do. We've bought a selection of gifts, including a tattoo design colouring book for my mum. She likes a spot of colouring in and I doubt she'll have seen this one. There are boxes of decorations all over the place, I think we'll do something with them tomorrow. 
We went to the beautiful Winter Gardens last night to a gig, I was most certainly one of the oldest people there which was fun. I think some of the audience who rolled their eyes at all the old folk as they waited to see Panic! At The Disco and we waited to see They Might Be Giants in Manchester the other week, ha! We're back there next weekend for a bit of Tommy Steele, oh yes. 
I am home alone this evening, Dan is off to a hotel somewhere for workplace funtivities. I will be here with a box of Maltesers and some Babycham. As you can see I really …

My Temple, My Castle

You can't change one thing without everything else having to jiggle up and that's what's happening this week. Still reeling from the shock of our spending on Saturday I've had to address a couple of things - mainly why do I eat and drink so much when we're out with this one particular friend? Don't do it with anyone else. 
Anyway, as I've been busy pondering and doing things differently it's meant that other things have to be done differently. I got up today and the house was like a bombsite. So the basic things have been neglected a little, easy to remedy and done already, that's just a case of first things first. I now have a wardrobe full of clothes*, a house that is getting there, lovely friends and family, a couple of savings accounts that are starting to fill up, a hobby or two and now a day out playing shops (thanks to Mum for that fun way to describe it). Now I need to look after my body. I think everyone by now has seen the weightloss challe…

New Things

Along with the surprising realisation that I would really have liked to be a florist a couple of other new things have come about this week. Firstly, next year I will make a rag rug. We don't have any proper flooring in the living room (can't decide what to go for) so we have a mish mash of rugs, not in a beautiful cool magazine house way just in a "it's what we had in" way. Plus I'd like to make a rag rug. 

Wore some of my new things out on Saturday and felt great. 

A new thing arrived last night, a real tree. We have never experienced a real tree at home before, either as small folk or as adults. Every year we say we're going to have one and every year we talk ourselves out of it due to the cost. Not this year. Last night we headed out and bought one. The house smells amazing! Yes it probably is a waste of money but I don't care, it's a beautiful thing, even if it is just in a bucket of water with no baubles on at the minute. 

The pretty new only-t…


I must be feeling festive as I bought pine bathroom cleaner today, something I never do. So some decorating is going to take place this evening. All the components of Christmas dinner are bought and ready to go.

Everything feels very smooth and as it should be, there's lots of time to do what I want to do and what I need to do. The churning seems to have stopped even though the trail of paper and hay is endless. Money is a little wonky but by the end of the month there will be a straight edge. The end of the month seems very far away and I like that. I'm just bobbing along but on a course, not out of control. 

And it's the weekend, fun times ahead!

The Rebrand Update

The rebrand so far has been as much about buying as it has been about doing. I think we're out of the buying phase now and it's more about using what I've bought. I love the new wardrobe, for the first time ever none of the new stuff is second hand. I usually like a rummage as much as the next person but that wasn't what I needed this time round.

Even though I have been working towards a tight capsule wardrobe I abandoned everything I've ever read about minimalist shopping, I needed an open mind to allow me to be focused. Having everything (as long as it was grey, black or silver) as an option made it simple to choose the best items for me. I even bought four bottles of nail polish to replace the one I've just finished instead of keeping just the one and using it all the time. That simple thing, costing less than £9 feels like a real luxury and as such is exactly what I was after to energise myself. I rounded off the shopping with some comfy insoles for my new b…

November Savings

After the dust settled there was £40 from the grocery budget to put into savings. I'm very happy with that. I was £73 under budget as £32 something went on the voiles and poles for the living room.

This month is starting well, along with the £40 from last month I put £20 from this month into savings, it's gone now so I can't be tempted to spend it. Hopefully there will be another £50 to shove into the bank as I'm not having my hair cut this month, the window cleaner didn't come last month so that cash carries over and a few other things. Dan dug out the money box so the change jar is up and running too. I've also reinstated my "break glass in case of emergency" £20 envelope, in case of emergency!

We had a £3 Waitrose voucher so we nipped in as we were nearby, resisted the temptation to see the voucher as bonus cash and stuck to buying basics. So far for December we've spent £11.88. Despite the fact that my brother and his girlfriend might come for t…

Fast Change, Slow Change.

Sometimes changes have to be slow, like the chugging along of paying off debts, losing weight or learning new things. Other changes aren't like that, for me those changes are usually the things that help to kick start the slow burning changes. I reached a point where the idea of staying the same was worse than the idea of changing and I faced up to the fact that to arrive at the changes I want things had to change. I can't change my life without changing how I live it.

Recently I've been feeling invisible and that's not a way to feel, when there are things to be done  it's even worse. So, even though it seems contrary to all our financial goals we took some cash out of savings and I have a whole new wardrobe. For some people clothes and things aren't important and I didn't think they really were for me until I saw myself and realised that how I looked didn't represent how I see myself. And at that moment it became important.

Ten years ago we started our c…

Ribbon Wreath

As promised, here's a picture of the finished, slightly bonkers looking ribbon wreath. It's like the night here so hard to take a lovely photo. 

I also have a choice to make. I have to choose one chocolate treat. Do I go for caramel tree decorations, coins or those balls of chocolate with a white crispy shell? I like them all but just can't choose between them...