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Showing posts from May, 2015

New Love

Over the past year I/we have very much fallen in love with Lancaster. It all started when we went to the vegan fair last year, prior to that I wasn't all that bothered. But the more we ditch the car (like most cities it is not fun to drive around) and we wander around the more a city that suits us very nicely unfolds. There's only so much you can learn by reading up and listening to other people, getting out on foot reveals the stuff that's tailored to you, and the more you see, the more that points you in the direction of something else you might like. 

In our case, the new centre of the Lancaster universe is Priory Hall, the home of Atkinson's coffee, I think I spoke about it last time. The coffee is so nice I ust drink it black, and very quickly. Yesterday we enjoyed our coffee with a cinnamon bun, made on site. You can watch the good folk making the bread as you enter the building. 

A couple of streets away there is also The Music Room, which looks very nice and is o…

Last Week of May Round Up

It's been a bit of a quiet week. 

Next month's budget is done and ready to go, the menu plan and shopping lists are written, car is booked in for the MOT, we haven't really bought anything and there have been no nasty surprises that lead us to spend. We had a healthy grocery budget of £18 to see us through to next Thursday, and even though I said we weren't going to, we used our final voucher for £3 off £20 at Sainsbury's and got a lot for our money. A lot.

This morning I've done some cooking for the weekend and chopped lots of salad to keep us going. We have a weekend at home planned - well when I say planned I mean watching Sky Sports. But we have some bourbon creams so that's as planned as it needs to be. 

Our first dairy free week is going really well. 

I don't think I have five things this week as it's just been normality all the way.

Detailed Domestic

We'll be on holiday from work in a month or so, I don't want to be doing too much housework during that period and I certainly don't want to be looking around and noticing things that haven't been done. So today I've been doing all those things I generally put off. 

Washing bins, repotting plants (hoping to get a lot longer from some supermarket basil), repairing some of Dan's ties, degunking that weird rubbery strip on the bottom of the shower screen, removing soap limpets from the bath bridge, soap dishes and other assorted places, washing tiles, making sure DVDs are in the right boxes, my least favourite task of all - cleaning the blinds, defluffing lampshades, swilling out plant pots, swapping thick duvets for thinner, defrosting the freezer and dealing with tons of laundry. 

Thimbleful of Milk

I have tried on many occasions to give up the one final bit of dairy in my diet, I have always failed because of my first cup of tea in the morning, everything else has been fine (at home at least). As the weather isn't quite as cold as it has been I've been working on it by not having tea at all first thing .

I don't eat a lot of fruit so I have wanted to inject a bit of that into my diet too, so I have very much been enjoying a berry, banana and vanilla soy smoothie in the morning. I'm looking forward to picking up all the yellow stickered berries later in the summer, but for now I am very happy with the 2x500g packs of mixed frozen berries I bought from Sainsbury's. One is Black Forest and the other is Summer Fruit mix. 

Once breakfast is over, the rest of the day is easy.

I'm hoping that I'll be so used to it by the time smoothie season is over that my early morning cuppa will be plain sailing.

June Plans

Thank you to everyone who wished me well regarding my leg. It feels a bit better today, hopefully it won't be sore for too much longer. 

I may have mentioned a number of times that this month has gone slowly and felt like a real trudge. It still is and both of us will be so glad to see the arrival of June, not least because there our family will be adding a member, my brother is going to be a dad again, the baby is due next week. 

We already know June will be quite expensive - we have a backlog of presents to buy, plus something for the new arrival, the MOT needs to happen and the car has been making a bit of a weird noise, we want to still put some money into savings, we're meeting up with one of Dan's friends and being introduced to his girlfriend for the first time, Dan needs some new clothes (and it is a need, he only has one pair of casual trousers and one pair of jeans after his alternative pair developed a large hole the other week). Dan's fortnight off work begin…

Feet Up

The weekend did not go according to plan. 

We arrived at Bloomfield Road and were immediately handed a free Cornetto and some other bits and bobs as we walked through the Fanzone, all was well. We watched the first two games, all was well. I chatted to some other fans about this and that. Then the third game started. It soon became clear that London were going to run away with it so we decided to go for a walk, so we got our hands stamped and wandered out towards the prom. We had in mind a visit to the new pub The Velvet Coaster (formerly the Lucky Star arcade opposite South Pier), we particularly wanted to have a look at the artwork by Bonkers Clutterbucks. We didn't get that far. 

We always see lots of ghost signs and other assorted old bits and bobs when we're driving around, but it's not really a part of town I'd find myself visiting often so I decided to take advantage of being on foot and grab some photographs. 

This is the only photograph I took, Dan shouted to me …

Shopping Addict

All these extra shifts at the shop are doing me no good, I'm in the town way too much! On the way home yesterday I don't know why but I ducked into the British Heart Foundation shop. I only nip in occasionally because I find it to be quite expensive. The only other thing I've bought from there were some brand new wedge sandals. Anyway I went in, just to see what was what and as I was walking away spotted a book. 

It's the book to accompany the Grayson Perry exhibition The Vanity of Small Differences, we saw this exhibition in Manchester last year and I really enjoyed it but didn't have the necessary cash to buy the book at the time. I paid £3.50 for it, which considering the lady in front of me paid £2 for just a regular paperback made it seem like even more of a bargain (not really, it just made me think the paperbacks were way too expensive!) I don't think the original owner had even opened it, it's in pristine condition. 

I also picked up a very cute set o…

May Week Three

This week was very normal. We went to Sainsbury's to make use of the money off vouchers, which lead to us spending too much so we've decided to abandon shopping around, it just doesn't work for us. Dan was away so he got to spend time with like minded people. We had a weekend of going out and about shopping and eating. Not really a very us week at all. So thinking of five things has been very hard!

1. I'd been after a kettlebell for ages and managed to get one from the charity shop for £2. 
2. Roasted a dubious looking pepper and some mushrooms to make a veg and bean thing to stick in the freezer. 
3. Resisted the temptation to buy loads of junk food while Dan was away and had proper meals instead.
4. Found a new plant in at the back of the garden, as mentioned yesterday.
5. Erm. Oh, if I can include another charity shop thing. I picked up some quilting templates, they were originally a freebie with a magazine so we don't sell them as such, they're just in a basket …

The Mysteries of Life

Wise people of blog reading, do you know what this plant is? 

It showed up this week, I've never seen it before. I assume the light we now have after the trees in the garden behind were chopped is enough to allow some new things to show their faces. Below is the foliage

We don't have any of that very useful green netting so our newly planted veg is in danger, Dan has been scowling at birds for the past few days, but lo and behold when I was out in the rain photographing the mystery flower I saw the first signs of life 

We're on our way!

Do It Or Don't

I'm having a conversation with a couple of my friends at the minute and I think my words are falling on deaf ears because of my voice. 

We're talking about saving money, personal budgets and saving. This friend knows I'm a bit of a tightwad, good at saving and like to get the most for my money, and I think that's what is leading to her not giving any weight to my words. She's fairly materialistic, or at least likes her consumption to be quite obvious - things with names on, big brands etc. Unless it's furniture I'm not really like that at all (I used to be). She translates this as me buying cheap stuff I think, I don't buy that much cheap stuff, I just buy what I like or what is good enough to do the job.

We were talking last night about make up. I mentioned maybe watching some vlogs, I'd watched a really good one via Ann's blog about applying highlighter, saying she might find out about some good products or ways to get the best from the products…

The Power of Change

We've added an extra £20 to savings this year so far through saving small change, 20p and smaller.

Dan embarked on a course through work, it involved three residential sessions, prior to this we'd only spent three nights apart in the time we'd been together. Neither of us were looking forward to it, but we have both seen huge benefits from this time. Dan is like a new person. 

I made a huge mistake with my quilt, so I just put everything away. It's out of sight and hopefully will remain out of mind for the next few months. I don't need to solve the problem now and I don't want to. It's nearly summer, I would like a different way to occupy my time.

On Friday I did an extra shift at the shop again, after the shop bit of the shift I went into the stock room and helped process some stock for an hour or so, I don't get to do that very often, it was great. 

This weekend we had extreme saving fatigue (yes, we're still in the wading through treacle phase) so we…


Thanks to everyone for your suggestions about possible weekend away locations, lots of food for thought. 

After the declutter comes the rebuilding. 

Dan came back from his course on Friday and helped me shift he last of the stuff from upstairs. We decided to get out and about on Saturday and head off to Preston to the Best of Britannia thingamy. So we did via the art gallery. I confess I am rarely inspired by Preston but occasionally it comes up trumps. The gallery was a massive disappointment, the main part of the exhibition consisted of three films and I was just not in the mood for it, so we left. 

We headed across the square to the BOB location and I just didn't feel inspired, we had a peek through the window and to the fence off bit of the covered market and I thought for £4 each it probably wasn't worth it to us, although it did appear to feature some very nice things, so we didn't go (admittedly I was in a bit of a strop by this point). Dan agreed so we went back to th…

If You Don't Ask, You Don't Get

Yesterday I rather cheekily offered my friends the great chance to stay by the seaside and look after the buns so I could have a weekend away. I was a little surprised when someone said yes!

I sort of knew this offer was out there, but it was a pub offer, so you never know if it will happen. My brother's girlfriend made the offer - despite the fact she lives near the sea anyway so it holds no charm (not the pregnant one, the other one. I have two brothers each with a girlfriend, not one brother with two girlfriends). By cutting my brother out of proceedings arrangements were made in about 4 minutes. 

The thing is, we didn't think we would go anywhere so we have saved no money and have no idea where to go. Normally we'd think of Glasgow, London or Birmingham to see all those things we usually miss out on. But with how relaxed I was when we returned from the wedding last year I think maybe it would be good to go somewhere relaxing, where we won't fill our days with seeing …

May Week Two

Whenever I talk about how we got out of debt and how we deal with money now I always say I'm a Dave Ramsey girl, and I am. I listen to his show whenever I need a boost and we pretty much follow the babysteps (we didn't stop retirement savings when we were paying off the non-mortgage debt). 

But that's not how we got started. I don't know what brought it to mind today, it just popped in there. When we were stuck and trying to think about our options we ame across a guy called Alvin Hall, he had a tv show called Your Money Or Your Life, I think it was on BBC2 in the early noughties. 

At that time we were really scared, we'd just bought a house, I had my mental collapse so wasn't working and we had a huge amount of debt. We saw this show and the kind but serious way things were dealt with made us listen. We bought the book of the same name and started working through it. That's when my job became working on the home economics side and Dan's was the work side…

More Of The Same But Better.

It turns out the shirt was just the start. What started as a small peek into a few cupboards ended with rearranging the furniture upstairs. I sought out all the hidden clutter and dealt with it. It started because a friend was decluttering her kitchen so I started there too, then I did my wardrobe, the craft sideboard and the weird cupboard on the landing that doesn't really have much of a purpose, which makes it perfect for the odd stash and dash.

From the stash and dashing I found a top and a cardi that should have gone to the charity shop ages ago, two colouring books from the charity shop for the next time I see the children, loads of padded envelopes, a pen, a make your own crackers kit and some festive trim. If I had to guess I'd say my last stashing session was at the start of January!

I didn't throw much stuff away, there was about half a bin bag of actual rubbish, a stack of recycling, I did break an energy saving lightbulb and seem to remember that's dangerous …

My Favourite Shirt

I have just chucked out* my favourite shirt. I bought the shirt when I was at university, I think it must have been 1999 at the latest because I remember where I was living when I bought it. I love love love this shirt, I don't know why. It doesn't suit me - it's boxy, I'm curvy, the colours don't suit me, it's hot and sweaty to wear and it doesn't "go" with anything. And yet for the past however many years I've been wearing it. To be honest for large parts of my life I've looked a bit of a mess anyway so a shirt not suiting me probably wouldn't have made much of a difference anyway!

I think I was keeping it because I think it represents something about me, but what that is and whether it was ever true is open to question. Maybe it's about being visible and making a statement about myself, I would have to ask why it would matter that I looked remarkable to someone I don't know, I attract enough strangers in the street already wi…

The Same, But Better

This photograph is what happened when I went out to plant some vegetables. I ended up pulling out most of a tree instead. 

We had a home based weekend this time round, we did nip out for crisps, a birthday gift and a very short walk along the prom in Lytham, other than that we were at home. So we just puttered around, but it lead to some breakthrough moments. 

I realised that having a relaxing weekend at home doesn't mean doing nothing at all. I did a few bits of housework/house improvement and it was fine - it didn't have to be an all or nothing pull everything out then put it back again affair. Dan realised part of the point of gardening. I've always have difficulty getting Dan to help me in the garden, the reason being that he's a straight edge kind of guy. He doesn't like leaving something unfinished, which means when he thinks about going into the garden it's a full day of sorting everything out. Obviously with gardening that's not possible, so he doesn&…

May Week One

There didn't seem to be much cash to go around this month. We ended April or started May (I can't quite remember) with they tyres, this month there are lots of birthdays and work expenses. But it is what it is. The cheque went into the building society, so no need to think about that anymore. 

Five things this week 

1. I bought a skirt from the charity shop for 59p, it was originally from Primark but was brand new with tags, so I thought 59p was a bargain. It's kind of depressing though that no-one wanted to buy the skirt when it was £1.69 even though it was new, I bought it when I saw it on the sale rail.

2. I used the £5 Faith in Nature voucher to buy some new shampoo and facewash, p&p isn't all that cheap but we'd have to travel quite a way to buy it from a shop so it's fine.

3. I finished the quilt top.

4. I had an idea to make my mum something for her birthday. 

5. The small change jar is nearly full.

New Day

It turns out that I cook things for the freezer when I'm feeling a bit wonky. Today it's dhal. On my last pantry search I found a bag of yellow split peas, they were in danger of being ignored for a long time so now they're in a pan simmering away. I've never made dhal with split peas before, we shall see. 

If there's one thing I've learned, or maybe just reaffirmed, in the past few hours it's that I have to live according to my beliefs and act in the way I think is right. I know that's an obvious thing to say but I have lots of pulls on my resources and I need to say no when no is the right answer. 

Doing things gets things done, a little focus to my energy will get me closer to my goals, whatever they are.

The Day I've Waited For

Not the election, I have many views about that, but it's been discussed at great length elsewhere. I have finally finished the pink quilt top.  Above is the very creased top. Below is the back, I may have pictured that before.

I received a little motif from my friend Em when it was my birthday, it was to remind me that getting older doesn't mean taking things too seriously all the time 

I thought the quilt was the best place for it!

I have no wadding so I don't know when the magic will happen. So today I'm moving onto the blue quilt, I've done some pressing this morning and hopefully can start to make some sense of it. Next time please remind me to make a note of sizes before I take a break, I'm all over the place with this one.

Magic And The Price Of Fame

It took Dan over an hour to get home last night, an hour to travel five and a half miles. It's the price of fame, the prom is shut due to the Tim Burton film. The cauliflower was pretty soggy by the time he turned up. But he's magical isn't he? Today he made it snow! There's snow all around The Tower. Exciting. 

It also looks a little bit like snow here, the cherry blossom is being blown all around, I wasn't brave enough to venture out into the wet and wild to get a proper snap, but you get the idea. 

I'm keeping my finger crossed that there are good biscuits at the charity shop today, we were distinctly bottom of the barrel last week. That's what happens when the manager is on a diet.

Wet Stuff

I bought this big refill pouch of laundry liquid a the start of the year and paid £14 for it, which did make me gulp I have to confess. So I decided to keep a tally to see how much I got for my money. I generally use two pumps instead of four for each wash, which seems to do the job and everything smells of Fresh Air smell. Anyway, I finally had to refill the smaller pot and it turns out I got 57 washes from the bottle (give or take, I probably forgot to mark it down or marked it twice on occasion). There should be enough in the pouch to refill the bottle twice more. Seems like good value to me. 

We did get some proper fresh air this weekend too, we went to Lancaster for a proper wander round, we usually just go to a few places but decided to have a proper poke. I'd been after some proper labels for my quilts for ages and got hold of some from Fabrix, I'd seen this shop before but we've only ever driven past. I was fairly restrained but will visit again when I'm startin…

April Final Week Round Up

April was harder. I'm not sure why. I think maybe because Dan had to spend most of our non-saved money on petrol for various work trips, the rest went on the vet bill. At least we added money to savings, it makes a couple of enforced quiet days worthwhile. 

Last week I was not all that happy, I trudged through the week. Dan and I didn't see each other all that much as he was up and out early most days and late home on most too. Still, it could have been far worse so I'm not going to complain. There was still time for an afternoon nap on Saturday.

Five things from last week 

1. Found a great gift for my brother at the charity shop.

2. Made lasagne and it was great, soy milk white sauce is very creamy and nothing to be scared of at all. We haven't eaten it for who knows how long. Not since we've lived here at any rate.

3. The garden is now full of flowers, the ornamental cherry trees are looking gorgeous and I have one red flower (don't know what it is) and one fritil…


So after all the planning and discussion of the past couple of weeks, we've changed our minds. Well, I've changed my mind and Dan is fine to go along with it. 

The menu plan is taking a healthier turn, although after looking at it it's more tweaks than a total change. The main change is my breakfast, I'm going to try smoothies, I used to have the for breakfast when I was a very healthy person, and we have room on the worktop for the blender so I'll give it a go. 

We have ditched some of the supermarket vouchers, I just went into the town first thing when Dan took the car in for the new tyres and bought the same stuff only from the discount shops. Good news - the tyres were £2.50 each cheaper than last time, that doesn't happen often does it? I received an email from Faith in Nature reminding me that I had £5 to spend with them, and I had a lovely chat with a few people in town. I was offered some free Snail Gel samples from the very lovely lady at Holland and Bar…