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Showing posts from May, 2014

Or I'm Still Alive And There's Nothing I Want To Do

I have been instructed by Dan to write a list.

A list of stuff I'd like to do to celebrate my birthday. He doesn't want to arrange something to surprise me just in case it's the wrong thing and it's not something I really want to do. If I write a list of things I'd like to do he can choose one or more and he knows I won't be disappointed. 

Given a free choice I know he'd take me to Copenhagen. Sadly for us, we've used up all our rabbit sitting credit (this has been made very clear to us) so my wishlist is more of a what's broadly feasible list. 

It's hard.

When you spend a lot of time avoiding things that cost money it's hard to then drag up the feelings of wanting the really big stuff, so I think my horizons are much narrower than they were 10 years ago. It's hard to stick things on the list and not think "why don't I/we just do that now?". So I suppose in that sense it's good. It's not making for a particularly exciti…

Time To Talk

The charity shop is in a little bit of turmoil at the minute with one thing and another. The long and short of it is that yesterday I ended up working with the woman who was my boss back in 2002/3. She's the area manager for the charity so it makes sense that our paths would cross occasionally. I thought she'd recognised me last time she came to the shop but apparently not. 

We'd been working together for a couple of hours when she asked if we'd met before. Ha! For me, the past is most certainly a foreign country so I wasn't going to mention that we knew each other, it's not really relevant. So that was weird and a bit fun. It was odd to think that in the 11 years since we saw each other so much has changed and yet in this sense, nothing has changed at all. 

I have a weird thing with people and time, I suppose a lot of people are the same, I find it hard at times to pitch a conversation. With Dan, the folk at the charity shop, anyone reading this and my best mate…

May Menu

I didn't do a menu plan again this month other than to get this last week out of the way so nothing goes to waste. The start of the month was very junky and very delicious! This is how it went - 

1. jambalaya
2. bean burger
3. Jacket potato w salad

4. soup
5. tikka tofu w salad
6. pizza
7. enchiladas 
8. can't remember
9. chip butty 
10 out

11 out
12 plaki w. salad
13 tomato and basil puy lentil pasta
14 falafel and houmous pitta
15 not-quite-ratatouille w. pasta
16 takeaway (we had a visitor)
17 potato wedges w. various fridge bits

18 black eyed bean tacos
19 indian spiced burger w. salad and courgette chutney
20 sundried tomato tofu, griddled veg w. tacos & avocado
21 bean chilli w. rice
22 tofu curry w. rice
23 fridge bits
24 leek & potato soup

25 veg sausage, mash & stuffing
26 l/o sausage & stuffing w. bubble & squeak
27 chickpea paprika stew
28 lentil pie w. roast veg  
29 chilli w. orzo 
30 veg curry w. rice
31 out

A Different View

The no-spend weekend was really a slight spend weekend as we had to buy a birthday gift for my mum, but of course that was already in the budget. 

We decided to ignore the rain that was obviously going to arrive and walked to Lytham. We took a different route to the beach, giving us time to admire the fishermen's cottages and some other very nice houses and lots of nice gardens - the smell of lilac was everywhere. We went past the front of the Royal LSA golf course and reminisced about The Open in 2012 then down to the church where a Peregrine has been spotted going about business. Then onto the green where we became those people we always see when we go past in the car.

The benefit of walking along the grass rather than heading over the dunes straight to the beach is the many wonderful dogs to enjoy, pat and be sniffed by. I love dogs, but don't have one as a pet so it's nice to see so many. A brief stop at Granny's Bay (no icecream for me) then along the final stretch …

At The Tip

I love going to the tip, doesn't everyone? Reminds me of spending time with Father when I was little, loading up the trailer and heading out, generally returning with some bedraggled plant or something useful. I say the tip, it's really a recycling centre as there's no actual rubbish dump here. The stuff from here that doesn't go off to be recycled ends up very close to our old house in East Lancs. Close enough to smell it in fact. The recycling centre is exceptionally clean and tidy and staffed by very friendly men, there's a holiday park right next door so at this time of year there are usually holiday makers to wave too on the way in and out too.

I brought a couple of things back, only garden bags, nothing exciting. But anything that means I can transport my garden stuff without having to buy something just to chuck away is good for me. Another positive from visiting today is that I spotted a place to deposit Tetra Pak type cartons, I don't recall seeing this…

No Spend Weekend

Much as I would love to nip across to the Mend-A-Hose Jungle this weekend to watch Castleford v Widnes I can't, so we are at home. When I say "at home" that's what I mean, we must avoid anything that's not totally free. There is no cash left. My mum has even surprised us with tickets for the Challenge Cup game against Keighley next month.

The seeds surprised us all by sprouting so now I have to move them from their teeny pot to somewhere so they can actually grow. Especially the lettuce, there are hundreds of them! I think there are about 8 tiny tomato plants, so that's better than nothing. If we get one tomato I'll be happy, it'll be more than we get from the onions. I am slightly distressed that everyone else seems to be talking about putting their tomatoes outside "soon", mine have been outside for weeks *oops*.

So I've been looking around at the dozens of jobs to do, if the rain holds off, and it's a big if, we'll paint the gar…

Just Because You Can

Doesn't mean you should.

A while ago I shared a few pictures of a kitchen cabinet I bought from the Mid Century shop in St Anne's "Secondhand Rose". The cabinet had been very badly painted blue and pink but it's a lovely shape and we thought it would look good in the house. We've decided to have it as our tv unit. 

I hadn't done anything with it for ages as I'd hit the part that she who would commit shabby chic had actually prepared properly and getting the paint off was difficult. I've been working on it all week and much as it pains me to admit it, the shabby chic vandal has won. There's no way I can get it back to the original wood. I'm beyond disappointed, but there's nothing I can do, so I must paint.

Now all we need to do is narrow it down to two colours - one for the exterior, one for the interior, from the thousands of potential options. Much more difficult than good old wood. All I know it that it's not going to be white, blu…

What I Learned From Project 333

I've read a lot about this, I really enjoy minimalism blogs, especially Be More With Less. Until recently I owned 48 items of clothing so Project 333 wasn't really a challenge. 

Reading everyone's stories gives me loads of food for thought and the biggest benefit of looking at all the capsules was to show me how to bring all the looks together. I can't go as far as saying I needed more stuff, but I certainly wanted it. Dan certainly wanted me to have something to stop the endless discussions about it whenever we were going somewhere!

My issue (and yes, I'm aware it's all in my head) is that we do different stuff - walking, home based stuff, bodding around towns and cities, messing about in the country, going to the theatre, increasingly these family meals and things, parties, nights out. I could wear my gardening clothes for everything but I don't think I'd want to. 

The thing is, I spent most of my twenties and early 30s looking a bit of a mess. I was ove…

All This AND Nice Nails?

Can you have it all? Or do interests have to clash somewhere down the line?

In my case my unyucking and life audit seems to be hitting a problem where they collide with "doing stuff". Sewing, cleaning, painting, primping, handwashing (even with gloves), digging, planting, watering, generally messing about in the garden (even with gloves), messing about with rabbits, cooking, dealing with charity shop stuff... that's a lot of stuff and a lot of handwashing. 

My nails have taken a hit. I've always had old lady hands, they're certainly not my best physical feature, but my nails have always been not too bad. At the minute they're breaking, having needles stuck into then, peeling, being full of soil and generally taking a hammering. Maybe I should wear a pair of white gloves, like a lady or a butler, all the time so they're just never visible.

The Meaning Of... The Weekend

Bickerstaffen The person in the office that everyone whinges about in the pub. Corporate HR departments actively recruit bickerstaffes...
Over the past little while I've found myself reaching for The Meaning of Liff on many occasions, I think it's mainly because I've been thinking "it can't just be me..." fairly frequently. Blackpool Council have a new, very shiny office building. The new building is called Bickerstaffe House.
On Saturday we wanted to get out for a while but without spending too much cash so we braved Blackpool and went to the Grundy Art Gallery to see the Puppetshow exhibition. Dan had been on a curated tour last week and knew I'd love it. My favourite part was Baby Marx, puppets of Karl Marx and Adam smith chewing the fat about Occupy Wall St., Andy Warhol and other things - it's funnier and easier to watch than that description made it sound! 
Frolesworthn Measure. The minimum time it is necessary to spend frowning in deep concentrati…

Happy Mundane, Three

I don't know if it's just because I'm solar powered, or still basking in the time away glow (can't believe it's nearly a week already) and generally feeling in love with everything, but I seem to have met with a lot of negativity this week! People I know seem so grumpy about the teeniest things, weird. 

I think the break away may have something to do with it as quite a few customers at the shop this week were here on holiday, and were delightful. We had some lovely chats, at least three people told me how lucky I am to live here and lots of people told us we were the most cheerful charity shop staff they'd met. I don't doubt that's true, we're always laughing, singing and dancing, especially on a Wednesday. Favourite sing-a-long songs are "Happy" by Pharrell Williams (of course) and oddly Bonfire Heart by James Blunt. Those songs will always remind me of this time. 

Due to being a happy sausage I also seem to have a load of energy, making up…

Lots Of Nothing

Although I'm full of beans I don't really have anything to say at the minute. 

We're working hard to reconcile all the spending, build on the changes to cooking, improve the garden, keep the house looking lovely, enjoy time together and quilt. But there's nothing really to say about any of it!

I think I made an error in breaking a rule about making things. I have two quilts on the go at the minute and it feels like I'm not making headway with either of them. Or maybe I am and all of a sudden I'll notice things are coming together. 

It's quite nice to not feel the need to endlessly discuss things all the time and to just be doing what needs to be done. A day of pressing and pinning is in order today I think!

Garden Takeover

Apparently there was a lot of rain at the weekend, which might go some way to explaining my shock when I opened the curtains on Monday and looked out into the garden. Everything has grown, lots. Other than the onions, I don't think they're going to grow at all.
The coriander is now visible over the top of the patio, and shows no sign that it's bored of growing. There are so many flowers now, the wild flowers are poking through, the new plants are starting to look at home and the plucky alpines are better than ever. Even the very grumpy rhododendron which only ever has about 2 flowers seems like it might do something. How exciting! It also means, of course, that other things have been growing too...

I'm told the weather this weekend is going to be good, and we need to have a cost-free period, I think I know what we're going to be doing!
In other news, I'm doing another extra shift at the charity shop today. Probably just as well as I was sent home early yeste…

What I Learned On Holiday

According to Dan the worst thing about coming home is having to wash up. I agree. 

The best thing about coming home was that the house was clean and tidy so it looked amazing, so much space. That was also the thing I took from the holiday. The thing I enjoyed the most was the use of space - massive buildings with green spaces next to them, big shiny building with tiny brick building next to it, boats all crammed together each looking so different on closer investigation. Stuff and space, that's why it's so easy to appreciate everything.

The other thing I learned, and I think we already know this, is that it's the food and drink that sucks up the money. We took drinks and snacks with us for on the train and had a small lunch when we arrived, after that we didn't really have the option to do our own thing. Sunday was easier, we had the change to do a ton of free stuff, zipping all over the place on the train, and the only expense was food. I didn't buy anything at all,…

Sometimes It Pays To Be Nice

Last week Dan and I went to the cafe at the supermarket for our free cuppa - free hot drink everyday if you have a loyalty card. It was fairly busy but we squeezed in. A couple of days later I decided to email head office to let them know what great service we'd had and how attentive the staff were even though they were so busy. The automatic response said to not expect a response unless one was needed so I thought no more about it. 

We came home yesterday, Dan checked the post and I had a letter from Booths. Weird because I wasn't expecting any loyalty vouchers or anything. Inside was a lovely letter thanking me for my email and letting me know my email had been shared with the store manager and that it would be read out at the next staff meeting. Very nice. What else was in the envelope but a £5 voucher to spend in store! It was totally unexpected and I certainly didn't contact them in the hope of receiving something but it's very much appreciated and I shall spend it…

An Unusual Day

I'm getting ready to go away!

I have never spent more than 14 hours outside this house and haven't spent a night away from home for over 5 years. It feels as though I've been talking about it forever, now it's finally here. 

For half fun-half serious reasons there are bright orange sticky notes all over the place to point out the important stuff to Dan's mum who is coming to keep an eye on the buns. As it's a special occasion we've even indulged her love of Meerkats in the form of a 3D puzzle, and left a trifle in the fridge. 

In my mind this weekend was going to be gorgeously sunny. However, the lashing rain woke me up last night and the weather forecast is not all that great. Oh well, red mac to the rescue! There seems to be so much to do, I have to do the usual Friday housework and do a bit of cooking, there's some stuff to use up and I want to have something ready for us to eat when we get home - it would be just too tempting to grab a takeaway or some…


Two more items crossed off my wishlist. I think my wishlist now only consists of garage paint and new living room floor. this year has been very good for me so far. These two items were little strokes of luck. Without further ado 

A nice sewing box. I only have one photo as my phone battery ran out. It needs a bit of work, it's very wobbly and there are lots of paint splashes plus a splodge of glittery stuff (you can probably make out a dark patch at the back right of the lid). It's clean and well kept inside, so it shouldn't take too long to get it up and running. 
The second item makes me very excited indeed, not just for the item itself but how it has been looked after in the 50 years it's been around

The tool kit is intact, including spare needles, I am in love with the brush

The instruction booklet is here, along with the original bill for purchase of the machine in 1964 and service receipt from 1974.

What a great find, I am enchanted by it. Most important of all, it h…



where am I? in the kitchen, writing a birthday card

what am I wearing? red pyjamas

what's the sky like? blue

what's motivating me? second breakfast, weeding, laundry


where am I? behind the counter

what am I wearing? grey pumps, grey leggings, black dress

what's the sky like? very blue

what's motivating me? sell, sell sell! a nice cup of tea, gossip


where am I? in the car, being whisked away for fun

what am I wearing? as 2pm

what's the sky like? blue and grey

what's motivating me? the sea, swans, pizza, relaxation, the surprising news that I offered to do an extra shift at the shop!

The Last Patch

Thanks for all the well wishes for Big Grey. She's been at home for over 12 hours now and is behaving as she should, so things are probably going to be fine. 

We did a small amount of very windy gardening yesterday. I dealt with the plants I bought from the market the other day which helped to fill out the main bed, hopefully they will hide lots of the remaining bare soil. Now I am left with this

Emergency Action

Last night, when we were getting ready for bed, Dan was dealing with the buns when he noticed that Big Grey Bunny wasn't well. So we gave her a massage and medication then we waited. Nothing. So at around midnight Dan hopped into a taxi and off her went to the vet. She's still there. This is not the first time she's waited until the middle of the night on a Bank Holiday to need urgent attention. She seems a bit better apparently, the vet wants to keep an eye on her until this afternoon. fingers crossed she'll be back soon.
The second emergency treatment was to my new dress. 
Yesterday I think I just needed someone to give me the courage to go for it, and you did! Here's the result  

And the not so gorgeous inside. 

As suggested by Mum, I went for both fusible webbing and stitching. I just took a scrap of quilting fabric so the webbing had something to bond onto. to be extra safe I did that both sides of the seam. Pressed very well, the pressed again. Then did a couple …

Please Help Me Help Myself!

We went to Carlisle yesterday, would you believe there was a Pirelli car rally! There were loads of old rally cars, right in the city centre ready to start the race! It was brilliant. 

Anyway, there was also a vintage fair, we didn't know until we arrived but there it was, at the Sands Centre which was where we parked. After we'd tramped around the shops, had a rest in the garden of Tullie house and a walk around Bitts Park we went to the fair. 

This is where help is needed. I bought a dress, got it home, washed it and when I hung it up to dry noticed a tear in the seam. It's where someone had cut out the care label. I should be able to mend it but how? The fabric is cotton/polycotton but very lightweight and the fabric is slightly frayed, I don't want to do too much trial and error with it for fear of making it worse.

The internet has offered me three solutions - 

1. running stitch to gather the fabric up as carefully as possible then over stitch

2. use fusible webbing

3. b…

Deluxe Spring Fair

Teaming up with Mum today for Spring Fair 2014, thank you for the invite Mum. A very warm welcome. The weather isn't great so we can unlock the huts and move inside. Rain will not stop play!

We have a vintage rally with very old models, sporty cars, trucks and vans, wacky cars and vehicles that travel the sea, skies and beyond

Guess the weight of the pumpkin

A super petting zoo

And of course, refreshments

Make yourself at home and have fun!

Desire Map Money

As I've mentioned a few times I've been having a bit of a life audit and working my way through The Desire Map. As a part of that Dan suggested that I have some money to buy anything I felt would be good as part of this process. Obviously I pick up things when we're out and about, but other than the grocery money it's rare I set cash aside just to spend on myself. Dan mainly suggested that I set cash aside mainly for clothes, but me being me it's turned into books, fabric and the occasional packet of crisps as well as clothing and accessories. 

As today is the first of the month there was new money in my bank account, so I went out to see what I could see. I had a bit of a wander yesterday that ended up being longer and hotter than predicted, so this morning I looked out at the drizzle and thought "I can't be bothered". But upon hearing myself think that I decided it was all the more important that I went out.

With my new mac the light rain holds no fea…