Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Lilac Time

A man came into the shop yesterday and asked me about some lilac wool he'd phoned up to reserve. I duly brought it out for him and my colleague asked what it was for. It turns out he's done a bit of bartering with a friend. She needed a couple of jobs doing around the house, he offered to do them in return for her knitting him a jumper. He owns a Morris Million car. When Morris Minor production hit one million cars in the early 60's they released a special edition, 350 lilac cars. This man is having a jumper made to match the colour of the car!

We went straight out after I'd been at the shop yesterday so I didn't see the garden until this morning. For quite a few years I've been unhappy about a large tree in the garden across the back (there, no back street between the houses so our garden wall is the garden wall of the neighbour behind, if you see what I mean). It was a lovely tree and very useful for the birds but it meant that the majority of our garden was in shade which I wasn't as keen on. Well, the tree has gone! The large tree and a slightly smaller one next to it have been chopped, they're not totally gone but there's probably 2/3 smaller than they were. Dan isn't very happy as he is a tree lover, I'm in two minds about it, especially on behalf of the birds, but I'll appreciate having more sun for my vegetables in the summer. 

Looking out of the bedroom window it's now clear that our garden has more plants in it than most of the other houses in our street and the street behind. It's quite sad really, on the plus side our garden looks far more interesting, if a little crazy. 

Monday, 26 January 2015

Sorting Without Moving

I'm still not well, but I am better. In between naps I've been sorting a few things out and that makes me happy. 

When we had a sort out the other week I ended up with a few empty boxes and other storage. I've used a tin to store all the packets of seeds and have written a planting list, otherwise they'd continue to be strewn around the house and garage and never see the light of day. I forgot to plant the onions, so that's a thing, but never mind, I'm still in time for everything else. 

I've faced up to something I've been needing to deal with for months.  I'd always wanted one of those cantilever sewing boxes, so when one came into the shop ages ago I was made up. The thing is, however lovely I find it, it's just not useful to me, so with a heavy heart I'm donating it tomorrow. I think I'd have to be far tidier and more organised than I actually am to use a sewing box like that. 

Today I have to face the fridge. I haven't opened the fridge for about 10 days and I know there's veg inside, I dread to think how bad it might be. I'm still at the point where I can't imagine wanting to eat a meal ever again so the idea of doing anything with the wrinkled/mushy stuff within makes me feel queasy, but it must be done. 

Being ill has lead to an interesting month for me. There's still over £50 of the grocery budget left, I've only done 10 loads of laundry since Christmas and Dry January has been a breeze.. I've had plenty of chance to think about our 25% pay cut and write all the associated lists. The month has been a bit of a blur, I'm glad I became ill after my birthday as I had such a great day out, but I can't say the past 10 days of feeling terrible has been all bad, I just want to be less tired now and get out and about in the fresh air. It will happen, I welcome February when the year will wake up. 

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Wobbling About

I've been up and about, after a fashion, for the past two days. 

Being ill is a bit like Christmas isn't it? when it's happening you want to remember all the little things that make life so amazing, but then when Christmas is gone, or the illness fades then things get back to normal and you just don't remember how you felt at the time. 

I haven't missed cooking. I won't miss coughing. I have missed nipping out for a stroll in the gorgeous sun we've had this week. I have missed getting up to do just one more thing, I have missed enjoying being in bed, and I have missed the fun that comes from having my eyes open. 

Monday, 19 January 2015

Forced Into Thinking

I want to do all these things, and I have all these exciting plans*, and I also have some kind of lurgy - the legs hurt so much you don't want to stand up, or sit down, or lie down, or think about having legs kind. Very annoying!

So here I am, under a blanket thinking about things but not actually doing the things. The Desire Map popped into my head for the first time in ages. I didn't finish the book as the battery on my kindle ran out and I don't seem to have the charging wire anymore, who knows where that went. But I was thinking about how things have changed since I had my dark night of the soul at the start of last year. 

Things have changed quite a lot. I remembered my "core desired feelings" and thought about them for a bit. I'm doing fairly well with them. My main word was light, while I haven't managed to shed any physical weight I am a lot lighter in my general being. I don't take things as seriously, when things aren't really anything to do with me I don't make them such - which isn't the same as not noting they are there. I am more likely to say yes to a change of plan, and no to doing things that I don't want to do. I've slowed down a lot and my brain isn't buzzing all over the place quite so much, but not quite slow enough to be able to sit and read a book without thinking about other things!

My other words all support the idea of lightness - radiant, receptive, clear and unencumbered. Letting things go, not taking on things for other people, being open to options and ideas, having time and space, being ready for now. That's what's important to me, it's the everyday and it's above the everyday. It's the way to guide me through life, but also how to choose what I wear, to spend time staring out of the window (not now as the window cleaner is here and it would be uncomfortable for us both), to be ready for something or nothing. Just being me. 

But for now, it's going to sleep for a bit, I am becoming a big fan of Night Nurse. 

*not exciting

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Charity Shop Treats

our beautiful winter garden

Last year, other than lawn mowing and heavy digging (which I like doing, so wasn't all that happy to have to share) I did most of the gardening As part of the new budget situation Dan has agreed/suggested it would be a good idea for him to be more involved this year. As you can see, I need all the help I can get!

He told me he needs direction. So far he has watched two episodes of the allotment programme on BBC2, and looked at a magazine. The magazine (from June) was interesting but not all that useful in January, so when I said I thought we had some at the shop, it was decided that I'd buy them. So I did, 7 copies of various gardening magazines for £2, not bargain basement price but not too bad. 

There's lots of to be done, but it's far too windy today so I'll have a cup of tea and think about things instead. 

I received some cash gifts for my birthday, so I had in mind that I'd buy some kind of keepsake. I was doing a bit of dusting when I saw a nice silver bracelet in one of the accessories cabinets, so I parted with £4.95 and brought it home. 

Most bracelets fall off my wrists as my wrists and hands are pretty small, but this one is tiny, so fits me nicely. I'm very happy with it, Dan likes it too and I have something that I can wear every day and say it was my 40th birthday item when anyone asks. 

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

From Across The World

Back in September I spoke about how upset I was to find out thirdhand that one of my best friends had moved overseas.

On my birthday, an email landed. The date had pinged into their head and they sent me birthday greetings. There was also a very sincere apology for not seeing me before they left.

I now feel a little bit bad for thinking they'd left me behind, especially as there's no other way they'd be reminded that it was my special day other than just knowing it. I am beyond happy to have reconnected with them and to hear how happy they are establishing themselves in this new place. It was a splendid birthday gift. 

Monday, 12 January 2015

Money Stuff

Dan returned to work today after a thee week holiday. He's spent much of that time looking for ways to deal with his emotions and the stress surrounding his job and some of his colleagues. Nothing has been off limits really, but he's made friend with meditation and mindfulness. 

Due to another strand we've been exploring we're embarking on a new experiment/ way of living. Dan has been having a look at what's available in the jobs market. There's not a lot around here, and jobs he has seen are on a much lower salary. So, from next month we're giving ourselves a 25% pay cut.

This will be helpful for a number of reasons, mainly so we can have a rough idea of how things might be if the household income was lower, but for other reasons too. Obviously it will be a great chance for us to bolster the savings, but the most important thing, other than day to day living, will be to learn to deal with occasional expenses such as new glasses, car expenses, vet bills, Dan's prepayment prescription, a new suit and other work clothes for Dan, emergency fund, saving for general house things (boiler etc), gifts, and all manner of other things. 

We're going to divide the savings part of it into different accounts. The 25% we're cutting out off the top will go into one account. Whatever amount per month we can save from the new budget will go into another account, we just think this will help us keep an accurate record of where we are, rather than adding it to the amount we already have saved. 

Any job cuts and redundancies will be announced in December, so we have until then at least to work on this, firstly to see what can be done without altering too much about our lifestyle, then we can start to see a out deeper cuts and what they would mean. We have more than enough stuff to keep us entertained for as long as we like. We have exercise equipment (and a desire to be a bit fitter), tons of craft opportunities, the garden to get on with, tons of DIY to do, a big beach nearby, a half decent library, and each other, it should be more than fine. 

Saturday, 10 January 2015


Our lovely bubble was popped the other day when we went to Next. I don't really have anything against next, I love their leggings and their sizes are generous so I always feel extra trim wearing their clothes! However, we don't go there very often, so it wasn't a very fun experience when we went to get rid of the gift voucher we received for Christmas. Still, it's gone now and Dan and I have kissed and made up. 

The holiday and my birthday celebrations are officially over. Last night we went to the cinema to see Foxcatcher. I was really interested to see Steve Carell's transformation. I really enjoyed it - well I don't know if enjoyed is the right word, although throughout I just kept wondering how they'd made Channing Tatum look like Wayne Rooney!

Anyway, enough of that. The menu plan is out of the window and may stay that way for a while. We had some dhal at Cross Lanes on Thursday and I was inspired by the way it was served. So I'm moving away from one main focus to a meal, instead going for more little things. Not explained that very well, but it means that we will probably have perpetual leftovers and everything will be mix and match. Dan has started the ball rolling by filling the salad dishes. I've been looking at my remaining recipes anew and we've treated ourselves to a couple of things we've never bought before - mung beans (for the dhal, to give us a break from red lentils) and some greenwheat Freekeh which is toasted wheat grains (I learned that from reading the box). Less than £2 outlay for the two things but they're an exciting addition to the pantry.

The decluttering has continued today and again most of the stuff on the way out are things we didn't buy for ourselves. We've moved some furniture around too, everywhere seems fresh and I'm not as grumpy. 

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Ins and Outs

I had always been an untidy person, when I was little my room was a tip, no floor space to been seen, a bed full of "stuff", pockets full and things stuffed into all manner of nooks and crannies. Then I'd have a clear out and things would be perfect. Then I'd silt everything up again. On and on it went in a cycle of all or nothing. Then in 2003 I left my job and it was time to deal with things. 

For a while I churned my stuff, moving it around and around but not getting anywhere. I think I spoke about it ages ago, but my house was bad, tv show bad, keep the blinds closed bad. Then one day in 2004 someone turned up at the house unexpectedly and I had to let them in. It was awful, the man was very pleasant but spoke to me as though I was stupid. It was the jolt I needed. Don't roll your eyes but someone pointed me in the direction of the one and only Flylady and my life changed forever. Very slowly, but permanently.

Like many people I've been having a sort out at the start of this year and I can't help but notice that most of the things I'm getting rid of aren't things we've bought ourselves. They're gifts, they're "I saw this and thought of you" things, bits of nothing, bought with kindness but not helping me. When the house was a mess it was because I felt the need to hang on to memories, I don't need to do that now and can't cope with the stuff. 

Sorry to say that a lot of the things that have left the house were Christmas gifts. I feel bad that my family waste their money, I do ask them not to but they choose to do it anyway. I can't hold on to things just to prevent someone else from feeling guilty. 

So now things are back to normal and I can breathe. 

Thursday, 1 January 2015

January Menu Plan

A few days later than usual but December is a funny old month isn't it!

The cobbled together curry ended up being pretty luxurious (for us) we used an onion, carrot, broccoli, mushrooms, peas, sweetcorn, Thai paste, coconut milk and topped it with avocado, pumpkin seeds and cashews, served with udon noodles. 

We still have a couple of meals in the freezer, so that makes for an easy weekend. Next week is a bit wonky as we will be out and about doing birthday stuff, but we don't know when, and at the start of the week Dan has some medical tests so won't be eating. 

1. lentil balti (fr)
2. Thai spiced rice l/o coconut milk
3. shepherdess pie (fr)

4. shepherdess pie (fr)
5. spiced mushrooms w. tandoori potatoes
6. -
7. -
8. out
9. -
10 -

11 -
12 bean tagine w. harissa and coriander
13 leek & butterbean crumble
14 lentil bol
15 haggis (fr)
16 l/o haggis
17 enchiladas

18 sausage casserole half pack
19 spice roasted squash w. plaki & wraps
20 ratatouille w. l/o squash
21 l/o w. jacket potatoes
22 lentil tagine w. ginger and ras el hanout
23 toasties fr falafel
24 curry & rice

25 roast
26 goulash l/o half pack sausages
27 pepper stifry
28 some kind of pie
29 puy lentil pasta
30 chickpea curry w. baked bhajis and naan
31 tofu sandwich w. wedges

Yes, I have borrowed a tagine book from the library!

We have a fair amount of ingredients in the pantry/freezer already - beans, pastry, lentils, passata, falafel, potatoes, spices, haggis, v-pud, rice, pasta. We need things for breakfast and lunch, plus fresh stuff. The food budget is £120, mainly because we'll be using the main budget for the meals out we have next week.