Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Nearly There

The box claimed it would take 15 minutes to put the light together. It took a fair while longer than that but there was no shouting or steam coming out of the ears so not too bad at all. It's done, we like it and I've already taken the old shade to the charity shop. Getting closer. 

I knew there was something else we'd not spent money on yesterday, bird food. Other than the two coconut feeders hanging in the bushes I'd run out of stuff for the ground birds. Dan's Mum bought me a bag of dried fruit and nuts, but it was full of those red skinned peanuts, I can't stand them so I've been chucking them outside instead, along with a bit of fruit. It's all going so something is eating it. 

The car came back from the service needing a new tyre, so we went to town for that this morning. When we bought the car it had Pirelli tyres, it has not had fancy things like that for many years! Dropping down to the cheaper brand has saved us lots of money over the years. 

Yesterday on the way to the shop another button fell off my coat. I've had the coat for a fair few years now, it was £1 from the charity shop, it's a lovely old blue and green wool coat and I love it. We went to Bizzie Fingers in St Anne's today and I bought some new ones, I'll sew them on tomorrow. Since 2008 one button has been replaced by a gymastics badge so it'll be nice to be able to fasten it properly! I was extra happy to find a couple of pieces of my favourite fabric in there too, with 20% off, there may be enough to finish the big blue quilt so I'm delighted. 

Dan received a Chromecast for Christmas so he's been enjoying watching lots of TED talks, so he'll be doing that this afternoon when I'm at the shop. Then it's home to cobble together a Thai-style curry, we have a couple of mushrooms, onions, broccoli (don't tell the rabbits we're stealing it), frozen peas and sweetcorn and some nuts. I was tempted to buy some more fancy veg, but this will do the trick. It will also give Dan a chance to practice using chopsticks, I bought him some trainee sticks for Christmas so that should be fun. 

Whatever you're doing tonight I hope you get some enjoyment from it. All the best, and thank you for reading, supporting, helping and inspiring me throughout the year. 

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Putting Our Heads Together

This was going to be about not spending much, but then the "service needed" message appeared on the car and the oil light came on. Dan stuck a large amount of oil into the oil area (?) but after poking the stick in it still seems low. So instead of putting it off he's taken it in today, seems sensible as we might be having a couple of longish trips soon.

I don't know many, if any, people are fans of New Year's Eve but we certainly are not. I can't be bothered to go out as ever and there's never anything on the tv I want to watch so it can be a drag, just like Christmas Day. So we thought about nipping to M&S for some snacky foods, getting a boxset of something from HMV or the charity shop and having a few drinks. We already had to nip out for some biscuits as Dan's Dad has invited himself over today.

Yesterday I said to Dan that I thought we had a cake in the freezer from the parcel Em sent to us last month. So he took that out, saved money on biscuits. We picked up some reduced garlic bread last week, so that will do for NYE along with some samosas we had left, there are still loads of onions in the garage so I can make some baked bhajis to go with the last of the batch cooked curry. Dan has seen a couple of things on 4OD we might want to watch instead of looking for a boxset in the shops, we received quite a bit of beer and spirits as gifts so we need no drink, and I'm taking some time away from alcohol anyway. So we don't need to buy anything.

Isn't it amazing how quickly you can talk yourself out of something if you use your brain rather than just heading out to the shops.  

Monday, 29 December 2014

Fun Fabrics

Duke Bar, Burnley would not feature near the top of most lists of places for a fun day out. However, Dan and I found ourselves there on Saturday afternoon. Not only is there a cracking view of Pendle Hill, tucked away on Bright St off Colne Rd is Immanuel Fabrics, sadly I have no photos. 

It's an old chapel at the end of a terraced street, and is nothing much to look at, we knew it was open as there was a cheerful bloke having a brew outside when we arrived. Through the narrow doorway into the main section, to the right is a very full cutting table and I assume a till, a table with some elastic, trimmings etc then the room opens up and the fabric is there. Oh yes, the fabric is there, lots of it, more than you're imagining - let's put it this way, there's a side room housing only tartan and checked fabrics. 

The pricing structure is simple, the bolts and rolls are piled up and on the end of each shelf there's a price per metre. There's an amazing jumble sale of a room at the back where all fabrics are £1 a metre, all types of fabric from upholstery to nets. I was looking for quilting fabric, someone else was looking for curtain fabric and two groups of ladies were planning to make clothes. I think I bought something from the more expensive end of the scale, £5/m, ideal for my pink quilt. 

Service is quick and efficient, browsing is neither.

Did I mention it's cheap? It's also cold, wrap up well! If you need to warm up afterwards there's an Oddies bakers nearby, perfect for a butter pie, or my favourite East Lancastrian delicacy - the potato pasty (it's a pasty full of mash).

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Sneaky and the Illuminated Jigsaw

We went to the supermarket today. We didn't really buy any extra food or change our shopping routine for Christmas, so needed the usual things. When we were going round I started to notice how some of the prices had gone up. Some things just by a penny or so, other things by 10-20p, other things were the same price but for a smaller amount (extra sneaky in my opinion).

I suppose Christmas is a good time to put prices up, people are maybe just going to buy what they buy and not look at the price as much as usual. I did notice and I toyed with not buying a few things but we bought what we'd gone in for and I will have a think about things when I do the menu plan in the next few days. We can still come in under budget, but we may eat less of certain things, we'll certainly be keeping an eye on portion sizes so that will help offset price increases - for now at least. 

We also accidentally did some sales shopping on Saturday. We decided to have a drive and ended up in Clitheroe, we bumped into some people Dan knew, did some window shopping and through the window saw something we'd been looking for - a light shade for the ceiling pendant. When we got to the till the item was 20% off, so we paid £11 less than anticipated. Now all we have to do is fit together the jigsaw and the living room is one step closer to completion!

Friday, 26 December 2014

The Longest Day

I read something today which struck a chord, in terms of Christmas - if you lose the magic, it never comes back.

For me, Christmas Day is like waiting in for a delivery. I can't go out, I can't really relax, and I can't get stuck into a project because this thing thing is going to arrive at some point.

I understand that, why and how people get excitement and joy from this time of year but I just don't have that, and haven't done so since I was little. To be honest, it doesn't bother me, it's nice to see people so happy and finding the wonderful in the smallest things. It's nice to see people expressing their faith, it's nice to see lights and hear people singing in the streets. I love hunting out and giving gifts and I love making things and filling the house with shiny things.

Boxing Day, however, is the best!

Monday, 22 December 2014

The Calm and the Storm

OK, so not a storm but it's a bit windy and the sea is huge.

The calm was the town. We went for a poke around and to buy myself a new laptop. Dan was the driving force behind this as on the rare occasions he sees my using my laptop it sends him into a rage. It is so old, clunky noisy and taped together it's amazing anything gets done. 

This morning we saw an advert on tv and I said were I to get a new laptop that's the one I'd want. So I was sent upstairs to get dressed and off we went to the shop! When we arrived it was £30 less than we thought, which meant it was under £200, it's idea for my needs. So we are both happy. The shop was set up to be very busy, there were lots of staff - way more than usual, but there was only one other shopper other than us, service was swift! 

We've found that a lot this year, I've been reading lots about crowded shops and people in certain areas of the internet are being very snooty about the amount of stuff people are buying. I haven't seen it at all, I must just be in the right place at the right time. The only place we've been to that has been far busier than usual was Lush. As I said the other day, Dan has found a shampoo there that doesn't make his head bleed so we nipped in for a big bottle. It was more squeezed in than nipped in, it was heaving. We were still able to grab and go though. Our town has been very quiet, I really feel for the shopkeepers, there's nothing doing at all. The owner of a boutique around the corner from our shop has been very quiet - one day last week she had a single customer all day. Very sad. 

I still have two days to do at the charity shop this week, tomorrow and Christmas Eve. I'm interested to see how many people come out, especially if the weather is as blustery as today. Could be long afternoons ahead, maybe I should sneak in a flask of sherry.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Comfort and Joy

Another dark, wet, breezy day. Not a day to take photographs indoors. But as I promised to reveal my festive craft project, here we are. 

grey and grainy tree plus sofa (for Lizzie)

I made a tree! It's a large version of the wonky, scrappy trees I made a few weeks ago. It has been a ton of fun making it. It's silly, it's squidy and it has many many bells on, what more could we want?

in progress, yesterday

I have been knocked sideways by a pretty bad cold this week. It started on Wednesday and has got worse, today I am feeling pretty sorry for myself, so although the tree is unfinished, that is how it will have to stay. The thought of raising my arms to add even one more bell is not an appealing one (although I'm still able to make bell-based puns apparently). 

shiny detail

It's not been a great week, health-wise, work-wise (particularly for Dan), and especially not in the wider world, so I am happy for some very tiny things. I am exceptionally happy to have raised a bit of cheer with my Christmas jumper at the shop this week, to the extent that a customer found a card at her church with a picture of the same jumper so she brought one in for me, how lovely. I am very pleased that I did some cooking for the freezer. WE have enough meals in there for nearly a fortnight. Hopefully I won't feel bad for that long, but if I do, at least I won't have to chop!

I'm sure I'll be around next week, as I don't finish for Christmas today. All my friends finish work tonight, but I still have two days. I didn't sign up for that as a housewife. Ha! Fingers crossed for me that I don't have to dress up as a certain rather popular Disney character at the shop next week. Don't worry, I'll get some pictures should it happen. If you're not around next week then best wishes to you all, hope to see you soon. 

Thursday, 18 December 2014

£5000 Revisited

At the start of the year we had the idea that we'd try to save £5000 in 2014. 

Well we didn't. 

Nowhere near.

We decided to spend the money on things for the house, as you know we finally had flooring fitted in the living room, after three years of having bare concrete. We also bought a new sofa and some other bits and bobs, plus we went away for the first and second time in many years. We have started saving again though, we haven't worked out our aims for next year yet, but it does feel as though we're off to a good start. 

Another thing, I think I said a while ago that Dan covered our kitchen in a "lively" beer. After an initial tweet exchange with someone from the brewery he didn't hear anything. Yesterday, when I was at the shop, a parcel turned up. Dan went to collect it today and it's from the brewery. Good result. Just as long as the beer stays where it should!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Checking Up On Toiletries

Way back in January I examined our toiletries, today I revisited them to see how things were going. I took the things I wouldn't use - like foot scrub and bath salts, to the charity shop (where the bath salts were stolen, I found the box empty one day). Some things were downgraded to bath cleaner, and the other stuff we used up. Although I don't think I've reduced the amount we have 

taken in a dark and dim bathroom this morning! 

Quite a lot of the stuff is Dan's, shaving foam, hair conditioner, body sprays, 4 bottles of the shampoo, facemask and a body wash are his. My mum gave me another bottle of shampoo when she visited the other week, but everything else is stuff I've bought and that we use. I have also got rid of the laundry basket I had all the stuff on in the first picture too. 

I'm fairly pleased that we are now almost down to things that are suitable for our needs. We still have rather a lot of shampoo but Dan is currently very happy with "I Love Juicy" from Lush, he bought a bottle last week as we've fallen foul of them discontinuing a product we like in the past. We also seem to have fallen on our feet with moisturisers, we already used one from Faith In Nature, but I bought an oil at the vegan fair and it is great for Dan's skin, hopefully that will last a good long while and continue to do the trick. 

I do get the feeling a set of smellies may appear under the tree next Thursday morning though! 

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The Heat Is On

The man came to fix the boiler, luckily for me he was waiting for a part for another job so he came early! Perhaps unsurprisingly had we had the boiler serviced we wouldn't have reached this point. As I said at the time Dan contacted our amazing boiler guy but he has retired due to ill health. 

Anyway, the guy came and in the end the boiler was fixed with a blob of my lipbalm!

The downside is that we had to hand over £75. This means we have no money left for any Christmas frippery. We had been flip flopping about a Christmas tree, so don't yet have one and now can't afford one. So, I faced my fear and got the sewing machine out... something is in the pipeline, let's hope it works out!

Monday, 15 December 2014

A Winter Chill

At the start of the month the heating wouldn't work. Dan spoke to a boiler man who suggested a few things and they worked. Last night the boiler wouldn't switch off. This morning it's still working, we have exceptionally hot water, but no heat from the radiators. So I had a shower to warm myself up, the rabbits have a hot water bottle (which they are ignoring). The man is coming to frown at it at some point this afternoon. Thankfully it's not all that chilly today and my plans already included ironing, cleaning the floors and cooking curry so I'll be plenty warm. 

Luckily for me Dan treated me to a new pair of slippers on Saturday. I was very grateful - I wore them on my hands as mittens half way though Burnley v Southampton. I'd forgotten exactly how much colder it is at Turf Moor in December to wandering around at home!

Hopefully it is something that can be fixed, rather than needing a new boiler as that won't happen for a while. I think my case for a stove might be getting stronger!

Friday, 12 December 2014

Friday Night Fling

Now the house is full of gifts and other seasonal stuff it just feels... full. This evening we went into Dan's dressing room and sorted out the bookshelves, resulting in around 100 books seeing their way out of the door. Along with them a suitcase (barely used) and rucksack (very used) will be on their way tomorrow.

I made a start on my wardrobe and filled a small carrier bag with some costume jewellery and accessories that I never wear. Some old make up went into the bin.

We now have an empty bookcase and a full car!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Empty Cupboards

The junk drawer doesn't look too bad
I've been having a lovely time just recently, making things, going out for coffee with my friend from the shop, relaxing with Dan. I seem to have so much free time. Surely something had to give. Well I looked around this morning and I now have some idea what I've been avoiding. 

The table looks a bit crafty.

I'm not sure what happened in the spare room. 

As for the chair in my bedroom, what can I say? 

I think the evidence speaks for itself, I must have very empty cupboards! 

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

A Piece of Family History

We went out with Dan's Dad on Monday night for a pre-Christmas meal. When we got back to his house he gave us, well Dan, a gift, something that had belonged to Dan's Grandmother that he thought we might like. 

Dan's Great Grandfather was a machine fitter for a mill in East Lancs, during the 1920's and 30's he travelled all over the world, wherever the company needed him. In around 1930 he was based in Kobe, Japan and returned home with this drawing. 

It's amazing to have such a wonderful piece of artwork with family history attached. We're both thrilled to have it at home. It will be reframed soon then it will hang in Dan's dressing room so we can see it every day. 

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Two Triangles

My scrappy trees may not be original (I got the idea from Homemaker magazine), they may not be big, but they are pretty cute, and a good way to use up some scraps. 

It's just two triangles of fabric, wundaweb, a lolly stick, buttons and something for the base and there we have it - Christmas magic!

These are the trees I kept for myself

the largest is only just over 22cm tall. 

They're a big hit with Dan, even though he's finding buttons everywhere he goes!

Monday, 8 December 2014

A Different Kind of Cosy

For the past few weeks all my craft time has been taken up with making scrappy trees, bot for myself and to give away. I needed a change of scenery, lovely though they are. So this weekend I dug out the stuff for my lap quilt and tried to work out where I was with it. What a relief. So nice to not be doing a festive project and to be in a pink, green and orange world again. 

I bought an old M&S pillowcase from the charity shop a little while ago and I've decided to use it as part of the back, so I spent a while unpicking that and getting it ready. There's a lot of fabric in a pillow case isn't there!

It's way too dark to take any photographs at the minute, probably for the best as it's just piles and piles of fabric, another beautiful explosion. 

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Getting Ready

Today has mainly been about food. 

Over the past few years we've got into the habit/tradition of having cake and party food when we go to see Dan's Mum on Christmas evening. In order to avoid the shops later in the month we picked that up today so it's stashed in the freezer. Dan's Mum usually buys it, but as mentioned she's on a budget, so we're buying the food this year. It's not a lot of money, but it all adds up as we know. 

When we got home we did a bit of cooking for the freezer, partly so I can spend a bit of time away from cooking, partly because I know there will be days where I just won't want to do anything productive, and partly because we had some veg that needed using up. It may be deviating from the menu plan, but chances are we'd be tempted to do that at anyway, I'd rather we deviate and have some thing from the freezer that's a bit healthier and less expensive than feeling the urge to nip out for something. 

We've made a big pan of lentil and veg in tomato sauce, to be made into pasta sauce, shepherdess pie, curry or pie filling. Three lots of chilli and two lots of chestnut stew .The kitchen smells great and is toasty warm, which is a bonus today. So that's nine or ten meals in the freezer, ready to go. Luckily for me Dan does the washing up!

Friday, 5 December 2014

Nice and Slow

I mentioned the other week that we'd closed our social diary, and we were happy about it, well we're even less busy now. 

Dan finally got home from Manchester last night and said he just couldn't face going back again this weekend to meet our friend. It's something we do every year and it's reached a point where we don't really enjoy it, especially the travel. We've said no to Manchester to someone else already as I said, but this is a longstanding engagement. 

Now the "we can't make it" text has been sent it's a huge relief. Dan's chosen to work at home today, and we have no plans for this weekend. We don't need to fill our time, being busy seems to be a thing, as though saying no to things or having no plans appears to be failure of some kind. I know that feeling, I used to see it as a sport I think - look at how much rushing around I'm doing, I must be so popular! I wasn't popular, I just had that fear of missing out.

Unfashionable as it is to say, I'm not adventurous, I'm not a thrill seeker, I don't have huge horizons. I like a brew, something slow cooked for tea, a nice sit down, and listening to the football scores come in on the radio preferably when I'm having an afternoon nap. I can see how people may think that's wasting my life, I call it a household winter tradition. 

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Ultra Normal

It's been an odd 24 hours!

Firstly Dan is on a course so he stayed elsewhere last night, that's the first time we've spent a night apart since 2001. It was strange, although I did enjoy big bed. 

I was entrusted with finding outfits to adorn the side window at the charity shop yesterday. This is due to an incident at our charity shop Christmas meal on Friday where the usual window dresser was injured. Say no more about that. All I had to do was find outfits for three dummies, a couple of pairs of shoes and a bag. I took over an hour. It was so stressful! I was very happy when someone wanted to try something on I'd put in there though. The deputy manager made no comment about my handiwork so I doubt I'll be asked to do it again. Ha! 

This morning I jaunted off to the town to the little market for some v-pud, to see what was what and to look for some toys for the charity collection. On the way home I started to get a weird feeling that I'd forgotten something important. I'd forgotten to get my hair cut. Pretty good going as I've done nothing but complain about my hair for the last ten days. Amazingly my fantastic hairdresser had one appointment left before Christmas, so I'm going to be dealt with tomorrow. Phew. 

I also went to the Post Office. I know that's not a big deal to anyone, but I always fall over my words and panic when I have to do anything like that. When I'm working at the shop I have no problem speaking with people, it's just something a bit strange about me. Anyway, I posted my trees, had a chat with the man behind the counter and paid without falling over my words or otherwise creating chaos. All I need to do now is speak on the phone and I'll be flying.

Monday, 1 December 2014

It's Personal

I mentioned a wee while ago that I had made something to send to Em and I was very nervous about it. Well, she received the parcel on Friday and was very kind about my offering. Other than things for Dan and things I made for my parents when I was little I'd never given anything I'd made to someone before, so I was very relieved to get a good review. I also sent one to another friend who was appreciative too (although I did send her a bonus bar of chocolate which I think sweetened the deal).

Again, I am so impressed with the postal service, it took less than a week to get from here to Germany, hats off to all concerned. 

I'm really glad I put myself out there and sent a bit of myself to people I like so much and have done so much for me. I just hope no-one expects me to come up with another good idea next year!

Sunday, 30 November 2014

I Am Not My Stuff

But I am very sad that my Lord Python brooch broke when we went out for our charity shop festive party on Friday. It's one of those times where I know I shouldn't have worn it really, but then on the other hand it's there to be worn. 

Nothing I can do about it now, but I really hate thinking that something had been knocking around for such a long time and all it took to break it was one person standing on my jacket. Things are pretty fragile really aren't they. Somehow I don't think I'm just talking about my brooch.

Friday, 28 November 2014


"It doesn't pay to be brand loyal does it?" asked Dan's Mum last week. 

"Not really" we replied.

Dan's Mum is one of those folk Martin Lewis talks about, those lovely, loyal people who just want things to work without any fuss and are of the old school where you knew your family doctor and your bank manager. She is now coming round to the new school of thinking which is that they just want your money. 

This kind of came about when we were talking about bills and money in general, she's starting to look at her budget to see if there are any savings to me made. We ended up comparing how much we pay for house insurance. I don't know who was more shocked, us or her.

Anyway, this week her house insurance renewal came up, the letter told her there was to be an increase, this stirred her into action. She got on the phone and asked for a better deal, the offer wasn't good enough so she pushed and pushed, finally threatening to leave (which she would have done as she had another offer). She's now on a better deal, paying almost 70% less than before with the same provider. Success!

It now sounds as though she's almost looking forward to the next thing on her hitlist. 

Speaking of complaining. When we went to the Trafford Centre last week Dan treated himself to a bottle of beer from the pop up food hall. He opened it at the weekend and the contents went everywhere. Thankfully he opened it in the kitchen, had it gone all over the new sofa I would have hit the roof! So he tweeted the brewery, they sent him a message asking for his address, we await the outcome.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

I'm very happy that...

On Saturday I posted one of the mini trees I've been making to a friend who lives somewhere I'd never heard of before I met her. Being a cheapskate I sent it second class, it arrived on Monday. Can't say better than that.

I had started to wobble about watching Widnes. After all the stuff that went on last season (you may remember me being very upset about the behaviour of some of our fans at the Challenge Cup semi final) we decided not to renew our season tickets and spend next season visiting different grounds. Yesterday the club received the punishment for allowing fans onto the pitch, £20,000 plus £4000 costs. I read the message board to see how that went down only to discover people were still being apologists for the people fighting, causing a nuisance and the general pathetic behaviour. It quickly reminded me that I don't wish to spend any time with people like that if I can help it. 

I wore my proper clothes to the charity shop yesterday, rather than my clothes that I usually keep for wearing at the shop. I received compliments about how nice I looked. Having said that, for the second part of my shift I was forced to wear a hat with cat ears and I received compliments about that too.

We've done most of our Christmas shopping. No more explanation needed!

I've realised recently that I know some really nice, very talented, people.

Everything is almost certainly going to be fine. 

Monday, 24 November 2014

December Menu Plan

Dan booked every Friday before Christmas off work. Last Friday was the first one, and almost certainly the last one! Still, one is better than none, and this one weekend has seen us do virtually all of our gift shopping for Christmas and for a couple of upcoming birthdays. There was still time for an afternoon nap on Saturday and we settled down to watch the first ski jumping competition of the season too. 

I'm running this plan on to the start of January, we won't be going to the shops other than for emergency bunny greens, or milk so it makes more sense to do it this way. Plus, at the end of next month I probably won't be sitting down to write a menu plan. Or maybe I will feel the need for a bit of normality.

1. sausage casserole
2. chilli
3. harissa roast veg
4. puy lentil pie
5. singapore noodles
6. out

7. curry (fr)
8. out
9. chestnut cobbler
10 l/o
11 stirfry
12 out
13 jacket potatoes w. beans

14 risotto
15 lentil bol
16 soup
17 soup
18 leek and butterbean crumble
19 bean burger
20 out

21 easy lentil curry
22 pearl barley broth
23 fajitas
24 enchiladas
25 nut roast
26 out
27 pasta bake

28 green lentil hotpot
29 plaki
30 l/o
31 curry, naan, rice
1. falafel toastie
2. tacos
3. jambalaya

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Putting Words Into Action

Firstly, apologies to sb, lovelygrey and lizzie, I accidentally deleted your comments instead of publishing them. I did appreciate them, I can only blame my extreme tiredness having not slept properly for over a week. 

I must have sensed something was coming yesterday as last night when I got home from the shop there was a message waiting for me. You probably remember us going to a wedding earlier in the year, well it was from that guy. He and his wife will be in our neck of the woods just before Christmas. It was group message asking if we'd like to meet up. I would like to meet up, but someone else suggested we all go to Manchester on the Saturday. That's fine for my mate and fine for his other friends as it's 20 minutes on the train for them, or they can stay over somewhere. It's just less than an hour and a half for us, and the last train is around 9pm.

So we've said no. No excuses, no trying to get them to alter plans, just no.

I don't want to traipse all the way there for an hour and a half with friends. We are happy to go there during the day, or visit them when they're staying with his parents, but I said we'd draw the line somewhere, and that's where it is. It doesn't make me a bad friend, just maybe a slightly lazy one!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Closed for Bookings

We have closed our diaries for social events for the rest of the year. There may be an afternoon where someone visits us here, and there may be one evening where we visit someone in East Lancs, but that doesn't take much energy. As for everything else, unless someone we haven't seen for ages jets into the country, we are not saying yes to anything else. 

Dan is all over the place for work over the next few weeks, including an overnight stay. The overnight is a big thing for us. Since we met in 2001 we've only spent two nights apart. But, this is for a potentially very significant move for Dan and so for us, hopefully it will be worth it. Maybe it will even be fun for one or both of us. 

Without even thinking about it we have a work thing each, we'll be visiting our three sets of parents twice each in December. We are going to a concert, my friend is visiting, we're meeting a friend in Manchester to be introduced to his girlfriend, I'm at the shop on Christmas Eve. That's ten days with something going on, let alone the bodding about for work I mentioned earlier, an afternoon gift shopping, wrapping and posting. 

We don't do much but it still adds up. We used to visit people a lot more, but now we slot in when it's sensible. None of our friends live near their families, so everyone is nipping here and there. Even fun is tiring, and it's no fun to be doing things just out of obligation.

Monday, 17 November 2014

The Ogre

Yesterday was the easiest of easy days. We drove up the coast to Cleveleys to see the Ogre. On the way past Blackpool Tower we saw all the lighting and other assorted television stuff being packed into trucks from Strictly come Dancing which came from The Tower this weekend. What a lot of lights! I know that's an obvious thing to say, but it was really surprising to see how many there were, lying there on the pavement!

The beach was so busy, considering the time of year, there were people in the water, children digging in the sand, and lots of people looking at the sea shell. The beach artwork has changed so much since I first mentioned it here in March 2013. The shell is changing colour and is covered in lots of barnacles, and as for the Ogre, well he's taken on a very Shrek like appearance. 

The sculpture is settling in so well with the surroundings that Dan didn't even see it at first. Then we noticed his piercing eyes

Doesn't he look fantastic? 

When we'd had a run around on the beach and looked at as many dogs as we could manage we negotiated our way back through Blackpool to the house where we did some very important household business then I got on with my new festive crafting project. I've never given anyone anything I've made before, but this year I am. I am very nervous about it!

Back to domestic business, I tried my new floor cleaner - Astonish Lime & Bergamot. It cost around 89p from Home Bargains, I tried it as a cheaper alternative to the Method Squirt & Mop I had been using, which is about £5 a bottle. The Astonish stuff does need to be diluted, and it's probably not as natural as the Method, but it gets the thumbs up from me. It does the job well, no streaks, it removes marks easily and has a very nice fragrance. Dan asked "what's that nice smell", so it gets the thumbs up from him too, and he's not usually all that bothered about these things. This bottle should last a fair old while, even though I've taken to mopping the living room floor every day. Bargain! 

Friday, 14 November 2014

Em's Lebkuchen Recipe

I said I would ask, and I did. Here is Em's recipe for lebkuchen! I've just copied and pasted her recipe so I hope it makes sense to anyone who wants to give it a try. Ours are glazed with white icing or chocolate, I guess you could do whatever you fancied.

Lebkuchen with wafers

Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 Orange
300g of caster sugar
2 eggs
4 eggwhites
Mix until pale and creamy.

125g honey
100g candied lemon peel
100g candied orange peel
350g all purpose flour
250g ground almonds
200g chopped haselnuts
1/4tsp cloves (ground)
*15g Lebkuchenspice
40-50 wafers (Oblaten)

Mix the honey, lemon and orange zest into the eggmixture. Mix all the dry ingredients together (flour, almonds, spices, haselnuts, candied peels). Pour the dry mixture a bit at a time into the wet ingredients and combine until you have a sticky dough.
Preheat the oven to 150°C. Put 1 Tablespoon onto a wafer and distrubute it evenly, but it should be higher in the middle then on the edges. Bake them for about 20 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden. Put them aside and let them cool completely.

Coat the Lebkuchen with the desired glazing and let it dry.

200g chocolate coating/couverture
125g icing sugar+1 eggwhite beaten until fluffy and shiny

Lebkuchenspice: mix for 54g, you need only 15g for this recipe.
35g cinammon
9g cloves
2g allspice
1g nutmeg
2g coriander
2g cardamon
2g ginger
1g mace

Lebkuchen is better the longer it can stand and develop the flavours. Thats why they are traditionally made in early November. But you can eat them while there´s still warm and fresh, it´s also delicious

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Gifts Galore!

Today I entered the modern world, I bought something from ebay! What times we live in.

It's all down to the receipt of our first Christmas card and gifts yesterday. When I got home from the shop there was a parcel waiting next door, neither of us were expecting anything so we thought we'd wait, until Dan received a text asking if we'd been next door to collect anything exciting. It was a message from our German friend Em. You may or may not have been around for our mammoth trip to the Trafford Centre when she visited last year. 

So Dan nipped round and came back with a parcel. I think I mentioned last year that Em is an amazing baker and an amazing cook. The parcel contained a personalised cookie, some homemade lebkuchen, and mulled wine cakes. to tempt me to cook there was also a German cookbook, cookie cutters and some bread mixes, alongside treats for the rabbits and lots of sweets and chocolates, the list goes on and on. 

We were already planning our parcel in the abstract but are now motivated to act! The one thing Em can't do is sew, so I'm going to make her a couple of ornaments, there are a couple of things she liked but couldn't carry home last year so I'm going to see what I can do with that. The one thing both Em and her husband wanted last year was something to do with the birth of Prince George, so today I have bought them a commemorative coin, and that's how my relationship with ebay has begun. It's very easy isn't it, mustn't remember my password!

Wednesday, 12 November 2014


Or really birthday etiquette. 

It was my brother's girlfriend's birthday yesterday, I sent her a card. Should I also have sent her a text/phoned her/written on her facebook wall as well? This is not a facebook issue, this is nothing to do with how people feel about social media, it's about birthdays.

This is an area where Dan and I disagree. On his birthday he seems to spend half the day texting, messaging or phoning people to say thank you for their birthday wishes, for their card or whatever. I don't think he should spend his birthday doing that - it's his birthday. I don't mind sending a thank you card or message after the event, and of course I always thank people in person for good wishes. But to spend the actual day doing it - when he is the one doing the phoning, that's weird to me.

Anyway, back to the birthday card yesterday. I see this morning on facebook than my brother has wished his girlfriend happy birthday there, I assume he's also sent her a card, and they live together. I think that's unnecessary, I don't need everyone else to know I'm wishing someone a happy birthday, and I don't think my feelings mean more the more I say them and in different formats. Am I the only one? I think on this topic I probably am.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Standing and Staring

There's nothing going on! I'm not thinking about anything, nothing funny or entertaining has happened, we have no plans, I'm not mulling anything over, things are just ticking along. That's good isn't it.

There seem to be a lot of articles and blog posts talking about this, about how to stop being so busy and reclaim boredom or a bit of nothingyness. It's really easy to get bogged down, especially when lots of what we do is in view these days. It's not a lack of ambition or drive I don't think, it's just not always the best thing to be running around. Especially when that running around is for money, I had a message from a friend the other day, he is so sad that his job is taking over his life. But it can't stop, he knows it's not worth it, but there's not all that much he can do about it just now. He's coming over here to hide for a day. Maybe I should set up a retreat. 

Friday, 7 November 2014

Odds and Ends

No matter what, there comes a time to do all those little things that have been left for another day. A couple of grey, slightly chilly and wet days seem ideal. 

So I have trimmed quilt blocks, sorted the recycling and cleaned out the recycling bag, which lead to cleaning the washing machine.

Repotted my aspidistra, from brown plastic 

to shiny white! Cleaned the bird feeders, tidied my fabric bag, removed the table cloth, put some laundry away, and replaced the used tealights with new ones.

Next on the list is swapping the spare duvet over to winter weight, cleaning the fridge and sorting out the magazine rack. Then surely a cup of tea and a sit down. 

Thursday, 6 November 2014

In Fashion, Amazingly

We had  bit of a stroll along the prom at the weekend and as we walked, saying hello to people Dan commented that a lot of the women were wearing massive shawl type scarves. He was right, so I had a little look online and there they all were - blanket scarves. I bought one like that in 2001 from Tie Rack in York. I can't see myself wearing it when I'm out and about, but I will continue to wear it at home safe in the knowledge that, for once, I am the height of style!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

The Porch Cupboard

I should have known it was going to be an issue when we first came to view the house, one of the doors was leaning against the front of the cupboard, rather than doing what it should have been doing. I was just excited to have a nice big cupboard. 

But it's not a nice big cupboard, it's a long, narrow cupboard with the three electricity meters at the far end and wonky doors.  So instead of having the useful storage area I imagined I have this - 

Lots of things on the floor outside 

and not very much inside. 

It's just wide enough for Henry, but I do have to wrestle with the snozzles and things whenever I want anything else. I know there's a solution and a way to use this space effectively. Maybe instead of it being a coat and Henry storage space it would be better used for something else. So far I'm stumped. 

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Something I Never thought I'd Need

Inside Mooch1

Of the many things I'd never thought I'd need, OK, not need but find useful a mug cosy was very probably right up there, yet here I am looking for a mug cosy tutorial. 

It all came about yesterday when I had a day Dan always pictured me having when we moved here. One of those days where I toddled off with my shopping trolley to drop things off at the charity shop, go to the library, have a cup of coffee on the pier, do some shopping, sit in the park, and come home with something exciting. Something very exciting to me was in Home Bargains, vac-packed chestnuts 200g for 99p, about half the price of the branded ones, I haven't tried them yet but I'm very hopeful. 

For the past few weeks something has been afoot in an old clothes shop in the town. Yesterday, there is was, Mooch1. It's a homewares shop with bonus cafe. HOORAY! says the non-saving side of me. So I did all the important bits and bobs then returned on my way home. The shop only opened last Friday so is very new and lovely. There are very few floral things, HOORAY! Just lots of nicely designed, simple, attractive things that do the job (without a huge price tag) and not a tin of chalk paint in sight. If you like shabby chic/French Country and all things frilly there may not be a ton of stuff in there for you, but there are a few florals, candles and shiny things so you never ever know. For someone like me who loves simple yet beautiful it couldn't be better. Other than when I have no money, when it will taunt me!

I was armed with my Desire Map money so instead of buying lipstick and mascara as planned, I bought a couple of things from the house wants list. Two tealight holders for the top of the fire (£3.99 each), they're made from recycled glass and are narrow enough for the very narrow ledge we have. Also two enamel cups - visible on the table in the picture (£5.50 each), I have always wanted some of these for drinks in the garden and for when we're out and about having a picnic. Cups were on the list as we only have five, of which one is chipped and another has a dodgy handle. The chipped one is now a pen pot. 

Obviously the enamel cups do get rather hot when full of tea so yesterday I had to put mine in a sock, but then for the first time I realised why people had those mug cosies that were so popular a little while ago. Dan seemed overly excited at the the idea and wants a yellow one. So that's the plan. We'll see how it goes. 

Mooch1 is situated on Garden Street in St Anne's on the Sea, opposite the indoor market and JR Taylor, just along from the Halifax Bank. It goes without saying I paid for the stuff myself and all that.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Two Lesser Seen Things

Further to our chat the other weekend, Dan and I had another chat about doing the right thing at the right time, rather than lots of little compromise things that don't really satisfy what we want/need to do but we do them anyway.

It lead to a very wild goosechase for some snowdrops. 

I really want to have a garden full of bulbs in the spring and I really want some snowdrops but haven't been able to find any. So we ended up at about half a dozen garden centres and shops yesterday trying to find some. We got some in the end at one of the chain garden centres - the ones where there's lots of everything, but not much in the way of plant stuff. And now half of them are in the ground. I know they might not show up next year but if they show up eventually that's good enough for me.

On our way to the many shops we drove past about 8 cars abandoned at the side of the road, very odd as there's not really anything around. Then on the way back there were more cars and lots of people with cameras with huge lenses, scopes and all manner of viewing aids. Turns out, in a small patch of wasteland for the past two days there has been a grey shrike. It doesn't happen very often. I'm not a bird person so I'd never heard of them and didn't see this one, but did manage to see a photo the bird people had snapped. It's so cute!

Dan also collected up two bags full of leaves to make into leaf mulch stuff, I've been told it's a good thing to do, and it's free so can't be bad. The veg beds are empty, bulbs are planted and lots of leaves have been removed from the garden. I can't believe how much stuff is still flowering, even some of my bedding plants. We finally bought a nice pot for my aspidistra, it's been in a horrible brown plastic pot for many years and now it has a nice white shiny pot to live in. We rounded off the weekend with a drive - yes, a waste of money but it's something we like to do. We went to Morecambe for a pint of Lancaster beer in a glass with a handle, to discuss plans for my birthday (OK, it's not until January, but we like to plan). Turns out I would like a structure for the garden, a cocktail and to go to The Midland.

Friday, 31 October 2014


Well, what an uneventful week!

Nothing exciting happened at the shop, other than toothpaste and bunny greens we haven't bought anything, we haven't been anywhere, I haven't made anything - Dan made some jam buns on Tuesday but that's about it. We have no plans *yay*.

The one highlight is that our new sofa is arriving at some time next week. I've spent a lot of time with the steam cleaner, so lots of things are far more shiny than they used to be, nooks and crannies have been investigated with great energy. And I got to the bottom of what the funny smell was. For a little while there has been a funny smell around and about the spare bedroom. Yesterday I discovered it was the laundry basket! The hinges of the laundry basket in fact, the whiff was so bad even Dan could smell it, and that is saying something. Dan removed it to the porch, ready for disposal. Now the porch smells too. 

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Yes, Maybe, No

We've had the budget discussion for November, which is good. The lists are written and my envelopes are ready. We have £9.21 of October's grocery budget left to last until Monday and the menu plan is working, the £9.21 may go on a treat or two. 

Yet my mind has been working. Due to the small grocery budget I have been thinking about all those things on the house list that we never get round to buying because they're not really a priority. A teddy bear mattress topper, a soft broom for the living room, taking the duvet to the launderette to freshen it up, new dusters. All these little things that will drain away cash here and there, and while they would be useful we don't need them. 

So one by one they have been struck off the list - mattress topper, we have one on the spare bed, which will be in use for one night next weekend. After that we have no visitors so we can use that topper on our bed, £24.99 not spent! Dusters, well, there's always something to use isn't there? Duvert washing, well I'll wash the anti allergy cover that goes over the duvet but under the duvet cover, and steam the duvet itself. Might work, might not, we shall see. Broom, well, this is the most likely thing to be bought but in the mean time I can use the dustpan and brush and hoover to keep things tidy. Amazing how I'd rather travel 5 miles and spend money than wrestle with the porch cupboard door to get Henry out!

Having a scant week this week (did I mention we'd had another vet trip at the weekend?) has really set us both up for having a scant week next week too. Waiting to buy things has just made us think, and that little bit of space always helps to stop the desire to spend. It's a well trodden path, but it's still one that leads somewhere, usually away from the shops! I am also leaving my purse at home when I go to the charity shop. It'll give me breathing space at least when i see those bits and bobs that I really really like.