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 Since 2008 one button has been replaced by a gymastics badge so it'll be nice to be able to fasten it properly!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!