Saturday, 29 June 2013

Crafty

Yesterday I learned to knit. According to my expert buddies it's "not bad at all" for a first attempt. High praise. One of them has also offered to crochet a Moomin for me. I can't crochet (yet) so it would be a good long time before a cuddly Moomintroll entered my life. People are great aren't they!

We went to a craft/vintage fair at the Winter Gardens today, we bought a clip on bow tie for Dan, he needs it for when we go to watch aa showing of Little Shop of Horrors at the same venue next week. I bought a woolly coat and some old smelly fabric to use as a quilt back. Bargains!

People make some great stuff, don't need any of it but it makes life a lot of fun.


Wednesday, 26 June 2013

More The Same Than We Are Different

Is the doorbell there for your (as a householder) convenience or is it a thing to be obeyed?

The doorstep is a bit of an ambiguous place, yes, it's a part of my house but it's also a place where strangers can spend time without your permission. I generally ignore my doorbell to be honest, unless I know it's a man bringing hay or a pre-arranged visitor. So when I walked past my door fully 7 minutes after the doorbell had chimed I didn't really expect to find two people standing there. I then felt obliged to open the door, after all they could see me. 

The problem with opening the door to strangers is they have the upper hand, whether it's the postie asking me to take a parcel for the guy next door, whether it's a man telling me how rubbish my driveway is and would I like him to make me a new one or as it was today, people demanding to exchange views on existential matters and the concept of truth. They have the upper hand because they already know what they're going to say, plus they have a leaflet. I, on the other hand, have only a smiling face and the willingness to take in spare parts for a Vauxhall Corsa.

Still, we did have a very nice chat, we're on first name terms (I was so bewildered I even forgot to offer a false name as I usually do in this situation) and they were very lovely and interesting people. I have written some notes on the leaflet as I said I would for when they come back or another chat. On their part I assume they're off to google nihilism. I thought I'd go for that as semantic holism would have lead us to be there all day. I do have all day, don't get me wrong but I just don't think we would have got anywhere.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

July Menu Plan

When we were with our friends on Sunday they told us on more than one occasion all about the things we take for granted living in this country. Everything from rain, to supermarkets. So that's the spirit I'm going for with this menu plan. The meals may be basic and may even be a bit samey each month but I'm aiming to just make the most of the things we buy each week and enjoy them for what they are, even when it's "just" beans on toast.

1. chilli
2. falafel w. patatas bravas
3. fry up
4. jambalaya
5. curry
6. pasties and  whatever else is lying around

7. pasta
8. picnic
9. dahl stuffed peppers
10 l/o
11 plaki
12 singapore noodles
13 out

14 pizza
15 risotto
16 nut roast w. pepper sauce
17 smoky chilli
18 beans on toast
19 picnic
20 bean burgers

21 pasta
22 red thai curry
23 kebabs w bulghur
24 jacket potatoes w. surprise filling
25 tacos
26 nasi goreng
27 out

28 bol
29 chickpea curry
30 stir fry
31 fajitas

Monday, 24 June 2013

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

I surprised myself yesterday by just how overjoyed I was for someone else and their good fortune. 

Changes in other people always make you think about yourself don't they. Our changes may be small but we're going to do three new things next month. That's a good start. One is to go to a geekfest, one is to go to Birmingham *yay* and one is to watch an old film in an old place - wearing some kind of costume (we don't yet own the costume).

Two more great things from the very splendid people I know - flowers (now residing in my freebie orange vase) and a mouse *hooray*. Oh and lots of tools, so many things. See my cup is overflowing so much I can hardly even remember it all. 

We have overspent though, well... we've over saved which is the same thing I guess. But we couldn't pass up the chance to visit with friends we haven't seen for two years (and probably won't see for another two) just for the sake of an afternoon out on our own on holiday. I am more than certain it was the best thing to do. I didn't realise that my heart really did grow fonder!

Due to the frivolity we didn't go to Odsal to watch Bradford v Widnes (scene of my phone and iPod death). Guess what. We won, we hadn't won there since 1990. 28-32, well done lads. Big kiss to Rhys Hanbury as ever.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Bubbling Under


"What is the crowning glory of your civilization... the symbol as clear a statement as the pyramids, the Parthenon, the cathedrals? What is this symbol? What is its name? Its name is Junk. Junk is the rusty, lovely, brilliant symbol of the dying years of your time. Junk is your ultimate landscape." - George Nelson

I've been a bit wobbly recently and not just because of my knee!

Small things are all important as they're the things you make a point to make a point of. The big things have to happen don't they, but the small things - a yellow vase rather than a blue one, quilts, jam, slippers, nail polish, clean sheets, pastry, sea smell, not having to deal with wrapping paper when you open the cupboard on the landing. 

Anything you make is the ultimate illustration of the importance of small things. When you make something you make every single decision about it, well, within the framework of the medium. But you get to choose the colour, the texture, the size, the structure, the function. But even so, you're never alone in that someone else has always had some input, even if simply to make your needles, it doesn't have to be a personal thing, just a thing.

They matter because they're the little life buffers, the little wins when other things can't be changed and you just want to poke some people with a big stick. 

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

I Don't Like Change

I know change is supposed to be a friend to the frugal folk, but I hate it. I know it "mounts up", I know it smells nice but after you've opened the jar then what? How do you turn it into something meaningful? The jar is brilliant when it's full, there is no better doorstop.

I've taken to spending my change rather than saving it, especially 1p and 5ps, the 2ps come in handy for the arcade on the pier when we want some cheap fun. We have a change jar for 10p, 20p and 50ps but anything less than that I find tricky. We always end up with lots of 1s and 5s and no sensible way to get rid of them, there's no branch of my bank in the town, to my knowledge there's no coinstar machine, so there's no real way to spend this money. I see it as a trade off, I might not be counting the pennies but I am saving the tens. It still mounts up, but it doesn't weigh me down.


Tuesday, 18 June 2013

The Saving/Spending See-Saw

We've saved more but we've craved more. We tried to create the perfect spend free (or spend no more than the £10 weekend budget) month, but we got the balance wrong. 

Yes there is a ton of free stuff, but free stuff isn't necessarily free. Well, it probably is when you really don't have any extra money or you're one of those frugal machines who stamps their foot and says "no, ice cream made from a frozen banana at home is as good as one from the ice cream van while you're out". Let me tell you, it's not as good. That doesn't mean it's not nice but it's not the same. So we spent more and we spent it on things we wouldn't normally spend money on. Yes, we saved money by walking to places but when it's hot I still want a drink if the bottle we've taken with us is empty. We might have gone to a free event but there might be a collection or a raffle or something. There is a sensible point between spending loads on a day out and staying in all the time because it's the cheapest way. And even though some frugal types will roll their eyes and think I'm pathetic, if an extra fiver will make things even better than I'm going to spend it sometimes. 

There's a balance between sacrifice and deprivation. Dan needs his holiday from work and when he's on holiday he doesn't want to think about scrimping. I need my little lifts throughout the week and don't mind saving a few quid here and there on holiday. It's understandable, I'm at home all the time, he's out all the time. Makes sense our idea of a treat would be different. We need to compromise about it a bit more.

On the plus side, the safety net savings are all fine and dandy. Unless there's some kind of emergency, that we should hit our initial savings goal about a year earlier, so in two years rather than three. It feels very much like it's needed too, the need to escape seems stronger with each passing week. And I guess even if escape is impossible then it won't be because we haven't made plans, just that it's not possible to do it. We might be banging our heads but at least it will be against a softer surface.

Speaking of frustration, another narrow defeat for Widnes last night. Hmmm, small leaks are sinking that big ship. Maybe the lesson is different than I thought...

Monday, 17 June 2013

Feet Up

Well, one foot up. Doing a spot of hoovering yesterday my body went one way and the bottom half of my leg went the other. Cue a not very brave woman howling on the floor unable to unbend my leg. After gracefully rolling down the stairs - which are not carpeted and have a turn half way down I raised the alarm and was assisted by a very calm and useful Dan. Clunk-click (can we say that these days after all that nasty business?) and it was kind of back to normal. All that's left to show for my pain is pain, a bit of a bruise and a weird lump. 

So, today I must rest. Finally I have the time and inclination to do all those mundane tasks that you can only do if you have 8 hours at your disposal and you don't really want to stand up. I am organising photos on the computer, looking at things for the not holiday and putting tabs on a map of places we might visit at other times. I may go mad, time may fly, who can tell at this stage! 

Also, thank goodness for freezer cooking!

By the way, do you ever get a sense of unease when this time of the month arrives and it still feels like there's a lot of money in your current account. Surely I can't be that great at running the budget... there must be something I've forgotten.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Just Like Debbie McGee

Today I am Dan's beautiful assistant as he lays the bathroom floor. Sporting my tool belt and a pencil behind the ear.I have remembered one of the really good things about DIY - you get to go either to a cafe for fried foods, the pub for a bitter shandy or the shop for biscuits. HOORAY! Get that floor done sonny.

Also we were in a certain unnamed seaside resort (answers on a saucy postcard) one evening and we saw a young women dressed in nothing but a pair of Uggs, a tool belt and a hi-vis jacket. None of her friends were in fancy dress though. How does that happen? 

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Saving For Holidays

How do you do it?

We don't go away but Dan does have time off so we get as close as we can to having a holiday. We have seaside (+ve), we have space to lounge (+ve), we have washing up (-ve), there is no chambermaid (+ve and -ve). Positive in that if I want to loiter about my bedroom for ages no-one is going to disturb me, negative that I still have to make my own bed.

Our holiday is to be 9 days 5 days out and 4 at home. We have a long list of places to visit - Spurn Point (it's a "thing" for us), Huddersfield, Bowes Museum, Bridgenorth, Carlisle, Kirkby Lonsdale, Lancaster, Nottingham, Lincoln and somewhere as yet undecided in Wales.

That's a lot of travel and a lot of cash. So we have to save. We have saved but it's tough for me. We have saved an extra £200 this month for the holiday on top of the new higher savings amount and the money for the "stuff that crops up like very bills and car things" account. It's not that not having the extra cash available is that hard, just that it hard to not think about it. When the sun is shining and all is gorgeous it's hard to not want a bitter shandy. But those small leaks sink ships don't they. And I can have a bitter shandy on holiday. 

When we really didn't have any spare cash when we were getting out of debt it was easier in some senses. We had no money and no real choice so it was easy to justify why staying at home was better and why we didn't really want anything. But when we do have money and we're saving up for bitter shandy in August when I want it this weekend is harder. It's feels... inauthentic (is that a word). That's what I have a real problem with, pretending, it just draws my attention to something that for the rest of the year I wouldn't even think about. 

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Sounding Like An Old Lady

We're all allowed to be petty about some things aren't we? This is mine - 

Bloggers and other people (including my father in law) when you're on the big sandy beach with the pier and the sand yachts and you say you're in Lytham, you're not, you're in St Annes. 

Nothing to do with anything,just another pointer that I don't have enough to worry about. Maybe I should have a month without menu planning to up my stress levels. 

Not DIY

When we moved in there was a carpet. When we moved in two rabbits also moved in. they liked the carpet so much they ate it. For the past two and a bit years we have had no carpet in the living area. Underneath was not lovely floorboards (we knew this) as we have a splendid mid-sixties house. It's a concrete slab, I like it but it's a bit chilly.

Today we hit the wall. We require flooring. This is not a job we are going to attempt ourselves because we don't want to and we wouldn't do a great job, oh and it would probably never be finished. So today I am window shopping.

It is very boring. 

On a not wholly unrelated note, what is "lifestyle"? Is it a word/concept that has any meaning. I'm starting to think not, well not beyond being a word people use to make things sound a bit more grand than they really are.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Outside

Until very recently I was part of a clique. Of course I didn't really know I was part of a clique because it's really only when you're not on the inside that you know they exist. But now, by my own hand, I am on the outside. And it's very strange, it's all funny and weird, it makes you see "nice" people differently, they can have very cold shoulders. 

Part of not being in the clique is that there's loads of time to do other things such as go into the garden, wrestle with nettles and roll around on the what-is-technically-a-lawn. We did loads this weekend. I think I can now say that the garden has moved from being overgrown to being not too bad (for people who don't really know anything about gardening). I can venture outside and have a sit down without thinking about the hundreds of things that need to be done before the place looks ok. There are still weeds, but they're teeny, there are large areas of the sand pit that is our soil but there are also flowers, butterflies, insects and lovely things. And we did lots of it. 

I can see why people love gardening. 

Just one thing though for any keen gardeners. We have a patch that's totally shady, are there any nice plants that could live there? (not hostas, they're not nice to my eyes).

Widnes lost 32-33 to Wigan on Friday, we should have won, we made daft mistakes. Still, don't we all? (see being on the outside of the clique)

Friday, 7 June 2013

Nothing About Anything

Let's just get this out of the way - it's been great this week hasn't it, even I've gone from pale blue to white. Yesterday I sat out in the gorgeous weather, drinking coffee by the sea when I met an internet person. She was on holiday with her friend in my town and asked if I wanted to meet up so I said yes. I'm glad I did, it was fun. They had bagged the best table with a beach view, I say beach as the sea was nowhere to be seen. I'd never met an internet person before, it was certainly something I'd do again. 

The ultra cheap month hasn't exactly been spend free, we've been to the pub and visited the ice cream van the other day. But it's so nice and we paid ourselves first so I'm just going with it. Tomorrow we will be in the garden, we have promised each other, it must happen. I'm trying to ignore the fact we have no chairs to sit on outside... I have a blanket and a big cushion, that should be good enough for now. Why sit when you can lounge?

We've not been invited to a wedding. We don't want to go to the wedding and I certainly don't want someone to be pressured into inviting us when they don't want to. But it's hanging in the air, FIL has asked us if we've been invited, which means he knows we haven't. So we're whistling and staring somewhere over yonder to avoid discussing it. Hopefully if we avoid the topic for along enough the wedding will happen and it will just go away. Surely if there's a day you should be able to have things just as you like them it should be your wedding. People should attend if they're invited and want to go, they should have a nice time and be a good guest not try to control something that's nothing to do with them.

It's been a brilliant week but it's good to see Friday, Dan's finishing early, we're going to have a floppy afternoon then head off to watch Widnes v Wigan. That's not going to go well but if I wanted to see a team win every week I wouldn't support Widnes would I?

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Tuesday

9am

where am I? in the kitchen

what's the sky like? very blue

what am I wearing? grey dress, flip flops

what's motivating me? potting a basil plant

2pm

where am I? in the garden

what's the sky like? very blue

what am I wearing? as 9am

what's motivating me? masses of weeds

5pm

where am I? in the garden

what's the sky like? very blue, with helicopters

what am I wearing? blue trousers, slouchy t-shirt

what's motivating me? emptying the garage, visiting the tip (always exciting)

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Well Done Father

Father is not a "I saw this and thought of you" kind of a person. Or so I thought. There he was, tidying a garden for someone who was selling their house when they were offered something, something gorgeous. So he wrapped it up in his hat and presented me with it at the rugby. "She said it's from the sixties, and it's orange like all that daft stuff in your house" he said.

It's not rare, it's not expensive but it is ideal. Nice one Father and thank you anonymous homeowner.




Monday, 3 June 2013

June Menu Plan

Finally, it's done.

1. out

2. chilli w wraps and bulghur
3. noodles
4. tagine
5. chilli
6. nut roast
7. curry
8. ciabatta pizza

9. ratatouille
10 plaki
11 papardelle w tomato chipotle sauce
12 l/o
13 chickpea burgers w. patatas bravas
14 red thai curry
15 kebabs w bulghur pilaf

16 dahl stuffed peppers
17 moussaka
18 nasi goreng
19 roast veg tart
20 plaki
21 curry
22 stirfry

23 pizza
24 garlic mushroom pasta
25 risotto
26 Italian bean casserole
27 l/o
28 tofu w tomato and lemongrass sambal
29 fajitas
30 ohsheglows perfect veggie burger

Procrastination

There is still no menu plan. There is quite a lot of food though, that's probably the best way around. I can fill in until the end of this week so that's probably also a good thing. I asked Dan for input and was told "plaki". I think that's going to feature a lot. 

Week One plan

1. out

2. chilli w wraps and bulghur (thank you freezer cooking)
3. stirfry
4. tagine (thank you freezer cooking)
5. chilli again
6. nut roast
7. curry w rice (thank you freezer cooking)

Uninventive and unexciting but free. So we won't have to go shopping until Saturday morning. We're hoping the weather will still be good so we can have a day in the garden - it needs it. So we'll shop in the morning when we're full of good intentions.

On an unrelated subject, I know everyone says to never understand the power on online friendships but I've really experienced it this week. I've learned how important a couple of simple words actually mean something real to other people. Not my words of course, goodness me what kind of world would we be in if that was the case?

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Sunday

9am

where am I? in the bedroom

what's the sky like? not visible, I've not got my glasses on or even opened the curtains

what am I wearing? pyjamas

what's motivating me? a nice cup of tea

2pm

where am I? The something-or-other Stadium, Widnes

what's the sky like? nothing but blue skies, blue skies

what am I wearing? grey converse, cerise jeans, white t-shirt

what's motivating me? Widnes v Catalan. COYV

5pm

where am I? a car park, Widnes

what's the sky like? beautiful blue

what am I wearing? as 2pm

what's motivating me? fantastic freebie 60's vase, in orange - just my colour. Also, coffee and lots of it please.