Tuesday, 24 October 2017

I'm Not Complaining Yet

I know I will, but for the time being I am very happy to be making Dan's quilt. 

Last week I got a very emotional message from Em who was delighted with her birthday present, and even though I do say so myself, it looks great in her house. Dan's bed quilt has been in planning since December, but yesterday something poked me to get on with it. I dug out the sewing machine again and actually quite enjoyed spending the day sorting out the top. 

Using the tea towel made it a little bit tricky as the fabric wanders around a lot, but it will be fine, wonky and wonderful. 

Monday, 23 October 2017

When The Meal Plan Works

 A volunteer nipped into the shop on Wednesday and said "I thought you were doing the Hallowe'en window", I replied "I did", she said "what happened to it?". I told her it was subtle, and she shrugged. Probably the reaction I expected. 

spicy rice
On Tuesday morning I forgot I was supposed to be making lentil bol, and instead made the cauliflower bake. I tasted it when it came out of the oven. It was not pleasant, so I added a few bits and bobs and turned out fine, in fact Dan has suggested it's added to the menu plan on a regular basis.

cauliflower bake
It's not a very photogenic meal either! The crust is just a couple of slices of bread, some cooked quinoa and herbs. I know I should think about my photographs before I take them but I'm always too hungry to wait!

On Thursday I got round to preparing the spaghetti squash, using this post to help me. It was really easy to prepare, I was a bit too excited so I cooked the squash in the morning and reheated it later. I had planned to serve it with a lentil bol, but I received an "I want pie" message from Dan and I took the hint, so I made pie*. Of course, i am incapable of cooking enough for just one meal so we had this for two nights. I am never going to complain about eating pastry on consecutive days. 

carlin pea pie, spaghetti squash and veg
We were already off plan, but on Saturday Dan made the food while I finished my cross stitch project, we had roast sweet potato with some quinoa bites and a houmous sandwich, but it turns out I've accidentally deleted the photograph. We rounded off the weekend with a quick chow mein topped with cashews and half a schnitzel each. 

veg noodles
A simple way to end a simple weekend where I didn't leave the house at all. 

*Not strictly pie as it was just pastry shoved on top of pie filling, I realise this is an important distinction for some people. 

Sunday, 22 October 2017

In With The Old

I saw a notice from the Town Council the other day informing me about the Victorian weekend that we, like many towns, have just before the festive period. To go along with this there is a window competition, judged by the Mayor. We do usually enter (although I've never had anything to do with it) I don't know if we'll apply this year as the manager doesn't seem amazingly keen on things like this, but I hope we do (even though the fancy fabric shop always wins these things). 

But it got me thinking about what we might do, and in that way the mind wanders, it reminded me of an unfinished cross stitch I had in the fabric bag. It must be at least 12 years since I last did anything with it, and it was finished other than half of the border. So yesterday, as we drank tea and watched Soccer Saturday I decided to get on with it. Of course I didn't have the same shade of green to finish the border, but thanks to the huge amount of embroidery floss Dan brought over from his grandmother's house I found something that was not-too-bad. 

It took a little while, so Dan kindly made our evening meal (delicious), but I finished it, then left it to soak for a few hours as it smelled very musty after having been at the bottom of a bag for years.  

Cross stitch doesn't really fit in with the style of the house, but I thought about some other pictures we have - one of a rabbit, a print of some trees, and a couple of other things, when they're all framed nicely they can hang together in the spare room, I think it will look good. 

In the end, it was a very nice way to get through a wet and windy afternoon, especially as we'd come home with half a box of chocolates when we visited Dan's mum on Friday evening, who could ask for more?

If anyone has any very simple Victorian costume ideas I'd be very grateful to hear them. I'm not a massive fan of the sewing machine but I do have one, and I also have a glue gun, but other than that there will be no budget at all for this potential project!

Friday, 20 October 2017

I'm On The Phone

Kezzie posted about technology the other day and I realised I felt more strongly about it than I thought. the charging hole (?) on my phone became damaged so I upgraded earlier this year, and ended up with a fancier phone and a larger data allowance for not much more money (I still pay less than £20 per month). I know I am behind the times, my own mother laughs at me for not being on whatsapp, snapchat and instagram, my older niece and nephew roll their eyes at me whenever they ask what games I have too. 

So, I decided to use more of the features on my phone and it has been brilliant so far. I love lists (who doesn't?) but I dislike having paper hanging about the place. So Dan suggested I start using Keep, it's AMAZING! I can keep all my notes, recipe ideas, pantry and grocery lists right there, edit them easily and know I'll never forget to to take them with me. Notes that are active are highlighted in different colours, and notes I want to keep but don't need to stand out are just in black and white. So simple, so useful. Speaking of simple, the calculator and timers are in daily use and it means there are two items I don't need to keep just for a single job now.

Castbox is my other most used app, mainly to listen to Gretchen Rubin, but it's good for finding other podcasts too. Chromecast, for tv, rabbit videos, and James Tarkowski interviews. It's YouTube, but on my telly, magical. 

I don't like to have my phone in the bedroom, but I do like to wind down with some relaxing sea sounds - during the summer we just open the window but I love the sound of a pebble beach and we don't have that here. If you ever meet me and want to shut me up then just play some sea sounds and I'll be asleep in about two minutes. 

Then there's the camera, the nice size screen, the phonebook that's easy to edit (not the case with my last phone), the maps that updated quickly enough to let us know we'd be ok to trundle home on the motorway when the clutch went the other week, and of course Toby Ziegler gifs.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Micro Saving

I can't remember where it was but a little while ago I saw a tip/ comment that saving just under £84 a month would be £1000 over the course of a year, so that has become my aim and my secret mission to help with our many and varied large upcoming purchases. 

Dan kind of knows I'm doing this and is slightly amused by my vagueness when he asks about the shopping budget On his part he's resurrected an old bank account - he was very impressed he could remember the login after not using the account for over three years. He is socking away the change jar money - I was in serious trouble when I spent a 5p coin the other day! £10 is going in this lunchtime, he also pays himself £2 every time he cycles to work, that is going into this account too. It's micro saving really but it's mounting up. 

If I buy any yellow stickers, or buy something that's on offer I'm saving the difference. This helps in two ways - the savings themselves and it means I'm only buying things I'd buy anyway and not getting sucked into what the supermarket wants me to buy. 

I received a £2 voucher from the supermarket after my complaint/comment last week. I had to laugh at the envelope though - 

my name
(housenumber) Road

No street name! The street name was written to the side of the envelope, I assume it was added at the sorting office. I don't feel as bad about making a comment about attention to detail now!

The bathroom guy came round on Saturday to talk through my many changes to our plans and to test the bathroom tiles for asbestos. The results were emailed through yesterday - negative! What a relief, safer and a real money saver as I wouldn't have fancied removing them myself so we would have had to pay to have the job done.

I also found 47p at the bottom of my bag! I think I'm focused on micro saving as we are just not doing anything so my world is micro too, I believe one day I will leave this town again! Is anyone else a micro saver?

I've added a microsaving page in the tabs at the top of the page, I'll update as we go.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

In The Window - Hallowe'en

As I've mentioned before, I don't like theme windows, and I really don't like novelty ones, which is what we usually have for occasions such as Hallowe'en (although I haven't been in charge of doing the windows on previous occasions). Thankfully for me, the new manager isn't a fan either so we engineered a sightly more subtle approach. We neither have the stock nor the space to save outfits for the window, everything is put together from what we have in the shop on the day, which makes it more fun, even if we're not as professional as some charity shops you see these days. I'm not sure it's going to be popular with the other manager or volunteers but there you go. If someone wants to redo it then they can feel free!

The window we ended up with is not the one we started with, we had a black net bed canopy surrounding the bric a brac table but it was sold within minutes, even though we put a price on it that we thought no-one would pay, but they did so what do we know? I rescued some old books from the rag bag to add something to the display too. No pictures of the full window on this occasion as the glare from outside was just too much. Here we go - 

I allowed pumpkins and a witches hat!

Some decanters and glittery potions

Terrifying pumpkin activity

Enchanting outfits! I have been reading a book about magicians in the late 1800's, I think it may have influenced me. I imagine this lady to be a poisoner!

We were running low on purple items so I was pleased to find a little Primark 49p purple brooch to accessorise the furry coat! 

I'm quite interested to see if we receive any comments about it. 

Monday, 16 October 2017

Menu Planning - I Take It All Back

As I mentioned last month over the summer I haven't been menu planning and it had worked really well. This month, everything has fallen apart and I haven't had a clue where I am. It started when we had guests at the start of the month, but I can't use that as an excuse, as last week we ended up with a fridge full of half eaten things and I had no idea how long some of it had been there. To be honest, I've been neglecting things at home as I've been at the shop quite a lot. Because I'm rushing to get food on the table I keep forgetting to take pictures, or make a note of what we've been eating so I won't be able to look back for inspiration. 

I've done a plan to cover the rest of this month and hopefully I can start next month without a plan, but for now I need to use up some of the masses of food we have in the fridge and pantry. We have been eating well though 

shepherdess pie with a pie of vegetables

spiced vegetable soup and toasties
Here's the plan for the rest of October - 

16. spicy rice
17. lentil bol w. spaghetti squash
18. cauliflower casserole w. quinoa crust
19. curry w. rice
20. chow mein
21. l/o
22. thanksgiving pot pie

23. plaki
24. dhal
25. l/o
26. chilli bean hotpot
27. l/o
28. falafel w. wedges
29. beans on toast

30. puy lentil stuffed mushrooms
31. puy lentil pasta

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Sunday Morning Power Hour

When we got home from the football yesterday, we noticed that our neighbour has removed the damaged fence panel that backs onto our garden. We also noticed that we have a lot of food that needs to be eaten (I am seeing the downside of not menu planning). So we decided to split up and deal with each of these.

Dan went out with the clippers to clear our area of plant jumble to allow the new panel to fit in, and I did a menu plan. Luckily, our neighbour came out to speak to Dan and they had a good chat, all parties were left assured of good garden relations!

I wrote a menu plan, largely pantry based for the rest of the month, and while I was it is sorted out my recipe file, so I now have not bits of paper scattered around and I know where to find my favourite recipes. 

A good way to spend a Sunday morning.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Freebie And Bargain of the Week

It's that time again already. 

There hasn't been much to tempt me recently at the charity shop - other than the chocolates my manager bought for me, isn't she lovely. However, as I was carrying a donation through to the workroom I spotted something

a nice Pyrex bowl. Smashed my small mixing bowl a while ago and a replacement has been on my list so this is ideal, what makes it more exciting is that this one was made in the USA rather than all my other dishes which are from J A Joblings in Sunderland. Hooray! At £1.99 it was a nice price too. 

Oh, we got the car back, and the bill was just over £90, far less than we thought, and that was mainly to pay for the tow truck. The mechanic doesn't actually know what caused the problem but we're good for now and we can take it back at any time. 

We also won £25 on the lottery. I know people have strong feelings about the lottery, we have our reasons for paying in to it and that's that. 

That's about it for this week, I'm sure no-one needs to see the full packet of puppy training pads I bought from the charity shop for 49p, not a fun buy but a very useful one. Two extra shifts at the shop for me this week too, not money saving, but it has been fun so far. To avoid the temptations of the cafe or chippery we're taking soup and sandwiches to the football this week and there will be pasta bake for when we get home. 

Thursday, 12 October 2017

In The Fridge

A month ago we replaced our fridge freezer with an undercounter fridge so I thought I'd let you know how we're getting on with it. 

We love it!

The main reason is that the fridge is now in the main part of the kitchen, rather than the dining area. This makes getting stuff in and out of the fridge far easier, although I do occasionally still walk to where the fridge freezer used to stand. It also looks better, it's not a lovely integrated device but it makes the dining area (which is not huge) feel more spacious. We put our shelving unit in there and I'm getting used to it, at first I thought it was a bit wood upon wood upon wood in there but it's not too bad now.

We are also really enjoying not having a freezer in general, the fridge has a small icebox, and we had agreed that if the need arose we could buy a small chest freezer for the garage, but it's been fine so far. 

When I emptied the old freezer I noticed there was a lot of stash and dash items in there, meals or ingredients I'd shoved in there because I didn't want to eat them or throw them away, or things we'd bought for the sake of keeping the freezer full in the name of power efficiency. It turns out that for the two of us the ice box is big enough for the kind of things we use all the time. 

The fridge itself is probably a third smaller than our old one, but there's plenty of space for our needs

In the ice box we currently have limes, a batch of pitta, some falafel type things, ice, two ice packs (they are there as a space saver and can be taken out if needed), some frozen veg - including 1/2 a butternut squash, ice cubes, and peas. 

All nicely tucked away.

It wasn't our choice to buy the fridge at this time, but I'm really glad we did, it's moved the house on so much. Which reminds me, the bathroom guy is coming on Saturday, I've decided that I do want to replace the bath with a shower after all so he's coming to help us firm up our ideas. 

Wednesday, 11 October 2017


Do you complain to shops and businesses when the need arises?

Last night we went to the supermarket (turns out I do need to buy food after all) and I bought a squash. The cashier couldn't locate the exact item on the till so asked me how much it was, told her and she typed it in. When I got home I thought Id been overcharged so I weighed the squash and I believe I have been.

I decided to let it go. 

But then I decided not to let it go and, despite all my cringing and discomfort, wrote an email to the store about it. But instead of just saying "I was overcharged" I turned it into an email about hard to find items on the till. Oh my word, I think I was blushing as I typed. The thing is, had I dealt with it in the store I would have had no issue being blunt face-to-face. I think it's because it's such a small thing it seems more petty to deal with it after the fact that right there and then (when for various reasons I didn't pay enough attention). 

To make it clear, I didn't ask for my 50p back, just that it was a customer service issue that they might wish to look at. I think I felt particularly odd about it as after my week off I had totally forgotten how to work in a shop and my standards of customer service were certainly off their game yesterday, so am probably in no position to judge at all!

So, pointing things out, do you do it or let it slide?

Monday, 9 October 2017


I am an overbuyer in the food department. It stems from that summer I had nothing to eat but frozen peas, rice and popcorn. Although I can now happily eat rice again I can't (or probably more likely won't) let my stocks run low. 

In the past when we've had people coming to stay I've been far too prepared. I've tried to have assorted things on hand so if our guests wanted anything to eat or drink we would have something in that ballpark. This time I didn't, we just bought some pastries, a cake, salads, dips and things to dip into the dips, it was still too much. When I thought about it later, I want to be a good host but my guests also want be be good guests, so they stopped somewhere for a snack before they arrived so I didn't have to run round after them, which is what I would have done, having eaten my actual car snacks about 30 minutes into the journey.

Over the course of the weekend we ate the cake, sent the pastries home with our guests so they didn't have to pay service station prices and were left with the dips and things and (of course) the salads. In our defense we did buy things that wouldn't just languish in the pantry for months, it was all stuff we would eat anyway. So for the first part of last week we just ate smorgs until it was gone falafel wraps with salsa, salads, pasta with a very nice fresh pesto, breadsticks and all that kind of thing. 

So I am now trying to underbuy, not having a menu plan helps because I can just sling something together, having enough food in the pantry for about a fortnight helps too, and as it's Autumn, there is always the endlessly stretchable stew. We were out and about for a few days last week, but here are a few things we ate the rest of the time. 

half eaten orzo pasta
hash (we had this twice)
carlin pea stew with veg and yorkshire puddings 
The food budget for this week is £5.50 as that's what's in my purse so I'll see how underbuying works for me. 

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Freebie and Bargain of the Week

I can't pretend that this week was thrifty, we were out and about at the start of the week, and I had a clothes shopping spree - at real shops, not charity shops. The car was taken away on the back of a truck yesterday afternoon so this weekend is one at home. Thankfully we'd started the holiday with the things we wanted to do - visiting Abbot Hall in Kendal for the Painting Pop exhibition, and of course the trip to Hull. So other than the large garage bill we'll be receiving soon it's a good weekend to be at home. 

We still have access to sports channels due to our cut price two month offer thingamy, perfect for the Super League Grand Final this evening. I also had a reminder this morning that I have a voucher or a 99p movie rental via Google Play, as I still have credit left over from a giftcard I received last Christmas I think we'll go for it. We might even watch Blade Runner as it's a hot topic at the moment and we have been toying with the idea of seeing the sequel at the cinema. 

It was a grey, blustery morning but the beach was fairly busy, quite a few kite surfers and a large group enjoying a very energetic game of cricket. We needed a few things so popped to the shops. When we arrived at the bookshop looking for a gift for Dan's Mum we saw the Booky Dip table. All books were £1, with the proceeds to a local charity and it was a fun way to get rid of all the advance copies of books that were no longer needed. We picked three

One is for Dan's Mum, she doesn't read, but we know she'll find the concept amusing (and I'll get to read the book later). But we have a couple to be getting on with. 

Finally we visited Sainsbury's, I was after some tights and had a voucher for 500 points (worth £2.50) when spending £10 on their own brand clothing. I didn't realise that it's the Nectar giveaway weekend (last year we won £25 worth) and a voucher for another 500 points popped out. Not too bad at all.

No real freebies this week, did I mention the free parking when we went to Manchester last week?  I was given a box of chocolates as a hostess gift and there wasn't much grocery shopping due to eating up all the things we bought, but didn't eat last weekend, we shouldn't need to shop until at least Thursday of next week, so hopefully grocery spending will be low this month, makes up for everything else!

Friday, 6 October 2017


We're at home for the rest of the holiday, the car is in need of professional help, on the motorway last night something happened to the clutch which meant the whole way home we couldn't change gear. Thankfully Dan jammed it into 3rd and we trundled home, I would imagine annoying a great many people on the assorted motorways between there and here but what can you do? The only real trouble was arriving back in the town and having to negotiate traffic lights, but we got home eventually and for that I am grateful. 

We went to Hull, primarily to see the Turner Prize exhibition at Ferens Art Gallery, but also to stuff our faces at Blondes in nearby Cottingham and generally have a poke around the Old Town. I've spoken about how much we love Hull before so will just share a couple of pictures of our beautiful day. 

I haven't quite got used to my new phone so my finger appears on many photographs, like in the olden days. 

It's actually quite a good thing that we're at home all day today, I have a pair of Dr Martens to break in!

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

In The Window

Last week I did both window displays on the same day, the second one was a little rushed, so I just threw plenty of animal print at it, not always popular but always eye catching. I was after a total change from the very autumnal colours I'd chosen the previous few weeks so went for denim and blue.

We were very fortunate to have had a large amount of Jaeger clothing donated so I used some of that, it was all sizes 8 and 10 so it was my duty to try it all on first but it drowned me so onto the model it went!

We ate at the restaurant across from the shop at the weekend so we had a peep in the window as we passed. It does not look like this now, I really hope someone does something with it this week while I'm not there!

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Freebie And Bargain Of The Week

Sainsbury's tempted us back this week with some smashing vouchers £4.50 off £30. We wanted to buy a few nice things for the weekend and we knew hemp drink was on special, we had been hoping to get Oatly Barista for £1 but it's always sold out and at that price I'm not surprised. 

Without thinking, Dan turned left out of the supermarket and on to the prom just as the lights came on, they're free to visit but at each end are collection stations, and I just can't go through without giving some money as I know they're strapped for cash and I'm a sucker. I don't know why, maybe it was the music combined with the mist coming in off the sea, or just having some nice time with Dan after a stressful day (I love going to the supermarket) but I was actually charmed by the illuminations this time round so I handed all my change to the man in the booth. 

Anyway, the purpose of this delightful tale is that I was handed a leaflet. full of advertising for the various attractions in the town, and along with all that was a free weekday evening parking voucher. Assuming the ceiling of the Empress Ballroom is repaired in time we're going to see Placebo in a couple of weeks - bargain, free parking! Should the problem remain unfixed then we'll get a refund, so good either way. 

On Tuesday I was sorting out my emails and spotted a Holland & Barrett voucher in my junk mail, the expiry date was the end of the month and was worth £2.25. Everything is still buy one get one half price so I bought 4 cartons of the soya drink I prefer so I got  4 litres for £2.51, at full price it's £1.59 a carton.

Finally, I mentioned that I had to get changed at the shop this week. I decided to keep the dress as it was very comfortable and although it's not my usual shape or colour, it will be ideal for wearing at the shop or lounging around at home. I paid my 99p and it's ready to go. 

I also rescued a couple of items from the mending bag so I can wear them when we go out at the weekend, a button returned to a top and, thanks to the huge array of beautifully organised threads passed on to me I repaired my crimplene skirt.

That's me for a week or so now, as we're having a break. Not going away on holiday but we will be out and about. I do have yet another window post so might pop up with that at some point. See you soon!

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

In The Window - The Whinge

If you don't like people complaining about things of absolutely no importance then this is not the post for you. 

Three of the many things I find unpleasant about the world are - 

The phrase wine o'clock

Trite phrases on "decorative" signs

Charity shops filled with brand new, bought in goods

I actively avoid charity shops with bought in goods, so imagine my dismay when I turned up for my shift yesterday to discover we now have to flog a ton of the stuff. For me, and I think a lot of other people, one of the best things about charity shops is the recycling element and the fact that we're turning turning junk into money*. Now apparently we are buying junk to turn into slightly less money and in turn generating more stuff that will back in the shop for us to sell for even less in a couple of months.

The other thing (I promise I'm not going to go on about it) is that the bought in stock is stuff we already sell! Cushions, mugs, decorative items. WHY? What is the point of that? If we must sell this junk why not sell things that aren't items people generally donate? It's absolutely ridiculous and makes no sense to me in the slightest.  

Anyway, I was tasked with making this tat look appealing in the side window, I had as much fun as it was possible to have when I didn't like anything I had to use and wasn't allowed to take anything from the packet. I did break one thing though, I consider that my protest. Can you tell I'm not impressed?

tiny things look terrible in a window!
my future self is already cursing me, I'll have to separate the buttons from the confetti at some point!
I'd lost all hope by the time I got to the bottom shelf

Good taste - I'm so sorry, please forgive me
At least there was some orange, I was the only one who wanted tea towels and washing up brushes in the window
Oh and the main window was pretty much empty when I turned up, almost everything had sold but nothing had been replaced, it was left for me! Cheers everyone! Anyway, enough whinging, just enough time to share the secret that I was so hot after about an hour I had to nick a dress off the 99p rail to wear for the rest of the day. I did not know I could be so stinky! More of the same today, thank goodness I'm on holiday next week.

*I know the purposes are to raise awareness of the charity and maybe make some money