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. 

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Unimpressed Face

I buy a fair amount of stuff from Superdrug. Today I did not. 

We had been using Sainsbury's basics toothpaste, but it seemed like we were getting through a tube quite a lot faster than we should. Turns out the tubes were only 75ml and I'd been working on a 100ml timescale. So I nipped into Superdrug before going to the charity shop today to discover rebranding has taken place. Now for the great price of £1.49 I can get two tubes of toothpaste. Not too bad, until I noticed the tubes are 75ml. The 100ml tubes are around £1.25, which is way more than they used to be. But we had run out of toothpaste - we'd even used the last scrapings from the cut-open tube. As I arrived at the till the lone assistant was called over by someone to talk at great length about something or other. A queue started to form and the assistant didn't come back. It reached the point where I didn't even have time to call the assistant over and pay, I would have been late. So I, and another customer left our stuff and went on our way. 

I'm just having a rant, I'm not blaming the lady in the shop who was working alone but still trying her best to provide good service. It did put me in a bad mood when I got to the shop, was faced with some high maintenance customers and was working on my own though. Dan has picked up some toothpaste so we'll still be minty fresh. Yes, I know I am a stroplet. 

Monday, 27 October 2014


We didn't have a low-spend, let alone a no-spend weekend as the white rabbit was at the vet. With her usual perfect timing it was just after the surgery closed and the emergency vet took over. Anyway, she had excellent care and is back home now, eating and doing all the things she should and shouldn't be doing. 

While she was away we didn't really feel in the mood for doing much, so Dan did some tidying and I quilted and wrote the shopping lists for next month. I've written a master list and a week by week one, which seems complicated but makes sense to me. It's not as long a list as I thought either, so I think the budget should be more than adequate. I've decided against doing a big shop at the start of the month and will just check the supermarket website before we go to have a look for any good deals. 

I'll also be getting back on the exercise bike this week. I have neither the desire nor the means to buy new clothes and quite a few things in my wardrobe are a bit snug. A small grocery budget and a bit of a pedal should sort that out in no time. Plus, it's a great way to keep warm and a very good excuse to listen to all the cheesy tunes I wouldn't listen to at any other time. 

There are a lot of lists and things at the minute, I'll be glad when payday arrives at the end of the week and we can start sending money off here and there to the various savings accounts, when it's gone it's gone! I'm full of beans at the minute though so it doesn't feel like I'm hanging on for Friday, long may that last. 

Friday, 24 October 2014

Groundhog Day

I'm doing an extra shift at the shop today. I don't mind at all (after much faffing about) but the one thing I don't like is there's one person there and I know I'll end up having the same conversation with them again as I always do.

Does anyone else have someone in their life like this?

I've already had the conversation twice this week so a third time will almost certainly be a grit my teeth and get on with it thing! I wouldn't mind it that much if they got the facts right but they just don't! Long story short, it's kind of about food, the thing is, this guy is trying to on the one hand trip me up about what I do and don't eat and on the other hand trying to get me to agree with the religious aspect of his diet. Changing the subject or saying I don't want to talk about it doesn't really hit home with this person - there one of those people who will say what they want to say regardless.

Now, other than posting about food here, and the general discussion about what we're having for tea, I don't really think about my diet all that much. I certainly don't think about what I don't eat, nor am I bothered about what other folk eat. What I do object to is other people assuming what my moral code is. I didn't, for example, give up eating meat for any kind of ethical reason, but people assume I did. We stopped eating meat for financial reasons as it happens - but do I wish to discuss that with someone at the shop, not really, it's not very interesting, I'd rather dress up, have a sing-song and a cup of tea.

This is nothing about food and is really about people talking about things they don't really know nothing about, and about the assumptions made about people based on a small amount of facts, or based on how they see the world. There's a lot of it about and it drives me bonkers! 

Low spend, not no spend weekend this week. Dan has informed me he'd like a beer or two and I would like some pickled onion crisps and some compost to plant my bargain seeds picked up from Wilko in the garden sale the other week. I also have a stack of magazines given to me by my mum, and some quilting to do. I'm going to be busy relaxing. 

Thursday, 23 October 2014

November Menu Plan

November's shopping budget doesn't arrive until November 3rd, so the first three nights are from pantry items. We usually have a budget of £200, but don't need any toiletries, rabbit stuff or cleaning products so that should remove a lot of the cost this month. We're looking at £110, but I've planned to have lots of leftovers so maybe we can come in under that.

Breakfast is always toast, cereal or porridge. Weekday lunches are usually houmous sandwiches/wraps/crackers with some veg, this month probably beetroot and carrot for me, beetroot and olives for Dan. At the weekend we might have soup or a toasted sandwich instead, Dan still has houmous with chutney, I tend to have onion, mushroom and chutney - not healthy, but they are delicious!

1. mystery pasties with pasta salad

2. sausage casserole w. v-pud
3. jambalaya
4. plaki
5. peppers stuffed with beans (l.o plaki)
6. dilly stew w. rosemary dumplings
7. curry
8. out

9. out
10 stirfry
11 lentil, garlic and butterbean stew
12 risotto or l/o with rice
13 mushroom pot pie
14 curry
15 potato skins w. chilli

16 pearl barley broth
17 winter ratatouille
18 winter lasagne
19 l/o
20 sausage casserole
21 roast curried mushrooms w. spicy rice
22 singapore noodles

23 roast
24 tacos
25 l/o
26 chestnut and sage cobbler
27 l/o
28 out 
29 bean burgers

30 soup and sandwich

Wednesday, 22 October 2014


At the shop yesterday a couple of things happened that really annoyed me, to the extent I am still thinking about it this morning. then, as if by magic I read a blog post that hit me in the face and made me laugh out loud at my silly sausageness. The post was from The Connected Life - 

The insatiable desire to be "good at what I do and do more of it" was constantly at odds with what I knew I really needed, which was less". 

I think it's another strand of the thing I was talking about yesterday, making a big deal out of the wrong thing instead of being honest about the right thing. 

So I'm just going to let it go, as long as nothing crosses the line into bullying as I've said before. I'm there to raise money for charity and to get out of the house for a bit, not win a popularity contest. I have my couple of friends and that's fine, the rest of it doesn't really matter. I actually said out loud to Dan what had happened yesterday and he laughed for about 3 minutes. It's difficult to remain cross when someone else can see how absurd something is!

So this morning I have my nice smelly candle burning, I've done all the important chores (i.e the ones in this house) and I'm about to have a cup of tea and write the November menu plan. Happiness. 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Pussyfooting Around

I probably need say no more than family in order to outline the stress Dan and I have been going through recently. 

We've also noticed between us the opposite side, or maybe an extension of, the egging on I spoke about the other day. We have a communication problem. I think we liked to think we were really open and spoke about everything, but it turns out we don't. We've been carrying stuff around and it kind of manifests itself in the egging on. 

Very occasionally, when things are not going astoundingly well, we treat each other instead of speaking the truth. We've been saying things with cake and nice times instead of having not that nice conversations. Until of course, the conversation happens, and it's always in the middle of the night isn't it. so now the log jam is broken and the emotions have come out. It's not always a pleasant thing (and may have lead to me bursting into tears in public yesterday) but it's out and it's one of those things that can't not be known once it's known.

So that's a good thing. 

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Egged On

We were supposed to be going to Workington Last night to watch a game of rugby but I wasn't feeling amazing so we decided against it. Instead we went to Kendal - not somewhere we'd usually choose to go, but why not. Anyway, all that to say I ended up in a fabric shop and bought a piece or two of fabric. At the till the lady pointed out it was the brand new Downton Abbey range, who would have thought?

When we got home we decided to have a no spend Saturday, hopefully stretching to a no spend weekend. Sunday should be fairly easy as there's football to watch and other relaxing things to be done. Saturdays are more tricky. We tend to talk each other into things, something simple can turn into something more complex/extravagant when we start egging each other on - getting out of the house turns into a day out, going for coffee turns into coffee and cake etc. We had a chat about it last night and decided if we can talk each other into bad ways, we can talk each other into good things too. 

I know for a lot of super frugal types staying in and not spending any money at all is easy peasy, but not for us, we like to have a bob or two available, it's a hangover from our small amount of pocket money we had when times were hard - back then we had £10 a month between us for things like chocolate bars, baking ingredients or the odd bottle of something. 

This morning we had a lie in. Until 9am, not too difficult for me but a very good test for Dan, he's an early riser, actually, I've never met an East Lancastrian who isn't. Then we looked out of the window and decided against gardening, settling instead for tidying the garage, ready for when the new sofa arrives. I suggested a tip and charity shop run, as most of the stashing and dashing was stuff to take to one or the other. So we filled the car and went off. I nipped into my old manager's new charity shop but I'd just missed her, which was a shame. So we left the donations, went to the tip, drove back along the coast then came home ready for lunch. 

We did another tweaked menu plan and I dealt with a few things - something needed to go into the freezer, veg needed to be chopped for tonight and carrot sticks needed to be munched. When I was chopping for tonight I decided to make a shepherdess pie from the rest of the leek and orange pepper, plus some fruit pasties with half a sheet of puff pastry and a couple of spoonfuls of compote. the shepherdess pie a bit of a pantry affair as I have no fresh veg left. Foolishly I turned my back on it to hang the laundry out - it's a surprisingly nice day.  When I came back it was stuck to the pan and there were some very obvious black bits when I stirred it. However, we tasted it, Dan declared it "deliciously smoky", so it's now cooling ready to go into the freezer for next week. 

So we're listening to the football, waiting for pasties to cook in a swept, aired, laundry fragranced relaxing house, and not a penny spent, this kind of living is very easy to enjoy. 

edited to add - The whole point of this point was that I benefitted from sorting the garage. Much of the stuff for the charity shop was from my mum, she told me to have a look through the stuff in case there was anything I wanted. I nearly didn't bother, but decided to have a quick peep and I managed to cross something off my wardrobe wants list! I've been after a short cardigan that's not too clingy. There were a couple in the bag, one was too scratchy though, the other was a lilac cable knit. It's a size up from what I'd buy normally but it is ideal for over a jumper. Happy times. 

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Making Friends

Yesterday, when the shop closed my co-vol asked if anyone wanted to go for a coffee (as though we don't spend all day drinking coffee!) I said I hadn't brought my purse with me and she said it was her treat. I thought about all the things I needed to do at home and nearly said no. Instead I said yes!

So we headed off to Costa, had a coffee and shared a caramel slice (I had previously said I really like millionaire's shortbread). It was lovely, like the thing people do when they have friends. It made my day. Someone else from the shop also friend requested me on that social networking site we love to hate. I was surprised but it was a nice gesture. One of the other volunteers said "we're friends aren't we?" the other day too. I must be getting my feet under the table. 

I'm so used to my friends being miles away I didn't realise how nice it would be to have some so close. 

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Switching The Menu Plan

I don't usually photograph food, but here we are. 

firmly in the "tastes better than it looks" category

Yesterday I finally got round to using up some of the veg I brought home with me the other week. It was a cool morning so I thought a spot of cooking was probably a good idea. A few things have meant changes to the menu plan, but because the plan is built around the pantry it means it's easy to be flexible. In this case we had to change to make the best of the fresh things we had in, sometimes we adapt due to changes in schedule. So, this week we're having chilli instead of shepherdess pie, lentil curry rather than dhal, and pasties with soup rather than pasties with potatoes. 

This is what I had - 

2 leeks
5 potatoes
a small turnip
a squash
7 mushrooms
loads of onions
half a celeriac
half a cauli
7 sprouts
2 peppers

I made soup from some of the squash, a leek, onions and the celeriac, along with some lentils and stuff from the pantry. I made a nice big chilli with the rest of the squash, onion, mushrooms, and a pepper. I stuck the veg in the oven then when it was starting to look nice added some spicy chutney, tomatoes, stock, spices, a few lentils and two tins of beans, left it in the oven while I cooked the nut roast and that was that. The cauli, turnip, two spuds and the sprouts went with a nut roast, gravy and frozen peas for last night's tea (roast was planned for Sunday but everything had been pushed along a day as we didn't have tea on Friday). 

The other leeks and mushrooms will go with some butterbeans and a mustardy sauce for the freezer. Finally the other spuds, onion and some frozen peas and sweetcorn will be made into pasties with some puff pastry we have in the freezer and some spices so we have something to take with the soup when we go to Workington on Friday night. We have bread in the freezer so we'll take that too. 

Dan turned up last night with 4 fresh chillies, someone in his office had left a tub of them for people to take home, so he did! They'll be useful for the easy everyday lentil curry from Anjum's Indian Vegetarian Feast book. the only fresh ingredients are onions and chillies (and most of the time I use dried chilli instead), the rest is pantry stuff.

After all this I'll still have a yellow pepper and some onions, plus some peas and sweetcorn in the freezer. I think we'll go shopping for fresh stuff on Monday or Tuesday with just a stop off tomorrow for bunny greens, hair gel and milk. 

Monday, 13 October 2014

Looking Around

one for the Jeremy Deller fans
This weekend was just spend looking around, not really with any aim in mind, just walking around and seeing what was what. We hadn't been to Bury since about 2002, so we decided to go on Friday. Normally before we go out we do a little bit of research to see what's going on, but on this day we didn't. Which was a shame. 

The purpose of our trip was to visit the art gallery to see "Scintilla From Our Sun", part of the Manchester Asia Triennial. What we discovered on our arrival was the it was also Bury Light Night, an evening of light displays, performances and participatory events all over the town centre. Sadly we had to leave before this began, it is in my mind for next year though. 

Although we wish we'd known about the evenings events it was OK to miss out on it this time around, we don't usually do things off the cuff so the fact we just upped and went with no real expectations was more important than having the best day out ever. It was still a really enjoyable day, and I was stuffed with free samples from the market!

Thursday, 9 October 2014


I had my hair cut today, thankfully arriving home just before a massive downpour so it still looks nice. 

A little while ago I asked Dan if he thought me growing my hair a little would be a good idea. We decided it would not. A couple of weeks later someone at the shop said I'd look "really nice" if I grew my hair into a bob. Yesterday when I said I was going to the salon another volunteer at the shop exclaimed that I should by no means have my hair cut and should grow it. It has also been commented on a couple of times that I don't colour my hair - why would I, my hair is already many colours and is changing all the time! 

How exciting to know my hair is of such great interest to people. I decided a change was a good idea after all and left it maybe half a centimetre longer than usual, winter is coming and I don't want my head to get too cold. 

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Breezing Through

This morning has been very different to yesterday. I'd like to say it was just a new attitude, or gumption, but it's not. I recorded the Channel 4 show OCD Cleaners. I know everyone feels motivated to clean when they see this type of show, I am especially motivated because it reminds me of how my house used to look. 

Ten years ago I could have been on one of those shows. I always had a messy rooms when I was little, other than when I had a blitz and organised things perfectly - which if course didn't last more than a day or two. I continued in this way for years. Poor old Dan, it wasn't his fault, he tried his best, but it was my mess and my mind that held me back, he was fighting a losing battle. I'm sure I've mentioned in the past that on occasion he'd have to go to the 24 hour supermarket to buy clothes to wear at work that day. Not good. 

Then I stopped being like that and threw things away, got into a routine, did stuff and found that the doing of stuff was what got things done. It took a long time, but eventually the house was ideal. In fact I was probably a little bit too routine led for about a year, but it was what I needed at the time. Then I had so much time. Time i wasn't spending looking for things just in order to get out of the house, time to let people in to do jobs that needed to be done, time to do things we wanted to do, and time to relax without looking around at all the things than paralysed me. 

After a treacle day like yesterday, watching that show and feeling for those disorganised people gave me a bittersweet feeling, understanding how those people got to where they found themselves and also remembering the feeling of freedom from all that held me back. By 9.30 things were very shiny and citrus scented. I am quilting though, so there's still fabric all over the place! 

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Too Much Stuff

Had a wading through treacle day yesterday. I don't think we own that much stuff, but it gets everywhere. I feel at times as though I'm being swamped by kindness - whether it's donations for the shop, things that just don't have a home, or bags of donated fruit and veg that throw my menu plan out and mean a massive batch cooking session whether I want it or not. 

I know that sounds ungrateful, but there can be too much of a good thing. 

People have started to mention festivities and my birthday (they're two weeks apart). I can't cope with any more stuff! I'm going to go and hide under the bed while there's still space. 

Monday, 6 October 2014


Not all went well this weekend. 

Well, it started on Friday when the humming, buzzy noise of the digi-box for the tv drove me bonkers. The failure was the new tv unit. You may or may not remember I bought a kitchen cabinet from the mid-century shop in the town and decided to use it as the tv unit. Well, it was too small. We lived with it for a couple of months, but eventually I had to admit defeat. Knowing that Dan would try to talk me out of it, I swapped the cabinet for the white console from the dining room. 

It doesn't look too bad. Apologies for the poor quality picture, it's pretty dark, wet and wild here this morning. 

I don't think I like the cabinet in the dining room though, it certainly needs a change of paint colour inside at the very least, but I'm sure I'll get used to it when I've tinkered a little bit. 

The second failure concerned a packet of butterbeans. I had planned to talk about batch cooking today, and indeed to do some batch cooking to use up all the veg Father gave to me last week. I soaked the beans on Saturday night. as soon as they went into the water I sensed something was wrong. They just looked weird. I drained and boiled them and they just turned to mush. I was very disappointed, it's never happened before and I'd was a bit cross I wasted all that time and masses of water for nothing. Dan kindly dealt with the sink afterwards as it was just disgusting. I've started again with some chickpeas, hopefully that will be better. 

Friday, 3 October 2014


Don't tell anyone, but we have no plans for this weekend. 

We did have a night out with two of the folks we met at the stag do this week, which was great, but for the first time in months there is nothing going on this weekend. No sport to go to, no visitors, no parties, no meal out, no shopping needed, not even any work we need to do at the house. Most certain of all there will be no job application form filling (plenty of time for that next week). There is, of course, a long list of jobs we could do at home, but nothing that needs to be done right now, nothing that will get in the way of a weekend of nothingness. 

When Dan parks the car at about 6pm, the car is going to stay right there on the drive for the whole weekend. I'm not even going to spend any more time thinking about what we might do, I just want to enjoy the peace. 

Wednesday, 1 October 2014


It's not really Stoptober for me, but it's close enough. 

I was very happy when writing the master shopping list for this month as there wasn't much on it. There are a couple of dearer things to buy - rabbit litter and hay (total £50) and Dan needs some shower gel, which is about a tenner, we're trying to find a cheaper alternative that doesn't make him itch! I don't really need anything, and other than stock powder and some chestnuts there's nothing special we need/want from the supermarket. 

I'm not saying I will save money from the grocery budget, but it seems very possible at the moment. 

Not Quite As Expected

The manager of the charity shop informed me yesterday that a deputy manager job was available at the charity shop in the next town. I've been talking about keeping my eye out for a job, but I wasn't expecting it to arrive this way.

So the question is, do I go for it? There are always a million reasons not to do something and not that many for doing it, but I'm thinking about it. The reasons for applying are - it would be good practice for filling in forms and hopefully interviews, money, getting out and about, money, and narrowing the gaps in my very scant work history. The reasons for not doing it aren't really reasons, they're actually fears. I think my main fear is that I wouldn't get an interview, but I'd still be part of the charity and I'd know that they think I'm only good enough to work in an unpaid role. 

Now I write that down, it doesn't seem as daft a fear as I thought. I mean, I haven't had a paid job for over 10 years, so I haven't had to categorise myself in terms of my commercial worth. It's one thing for me to think I don't have monetary worth, but for someone else to think it would be very tough to take. 

But then again, I look around at people who are deputy managers and managers and think, if they can do it then so can I!