Sunday, 31 December 2017

Lose Weight, Save Money, blah blah blah

I'm a bit of a fatty by my standards, which means there are clothes in my wardrobe that either don't fit, or do fit but only just. So I've moved them into the wardrobe in the spare room for the time being. I can't wait to wear them again, well, I say again but there are two things in there still with tags, I'll have to wear them first. 

It all looks very sad. 

Five skirts, the sequinned one is as yet unworn, I bought it from a charity shop for £1.99 a couple of weeks ago, the shop doesn't have a dressing room so I just bought it in the spirit of optimism. The other four, I used to wear all the time, but I'm too bulbous at the moment. 

I love this dress, it's usually so comfy, but at the moment it's not a good look on me. I hope to be looking great in it again very soon. 

Again, these technically fit in that I can put them on my body without having to be rescued by someone with some sharp scissors, but to go out and about in them, I don't think so. The swirly one hasn't been worn since I tried it on in the shop. 

So that's that, my actual wardrobe has many tops but not much to contain my expanding bottom, I'll do a bit of jumping around and say no to crisps and see where that leaves me.

Friday, 29 December 2017

In The Window

Normally for New Year we do a good party window, with lots of champagne glasses, fondue sets and that kind of thing. This year, no champagne glasses, ice buckets or any of the usual stuff, so I had to take it in a different direction, a smart house party! Plus, the Christmas window was so glittery I liked the idea of it being a little more pared back. There's no picture of the whole thing as we had amazing sunshine on Wednesday and the window was like a mirror, couldn't see a thing!

I went for dark reds and black, as a nice contrast to the white and silver of the week before. Derek, our male model, was also brought into action for the first time in a while. 

We are really low on bric a brac at the moment - we're relying a little bit on people having a pre-New Year sort out and donating lots of unwanted Christmas presents and other unused items to fill the shelves. So I only used one set of display cubes this time. 

The colour scheme came from the amount of red vases we had on the shelves, I assume someone must have had a change of colour scheme. 

The best thing about the window are some things that nearly went away the last time the manager had a sort out, so I was delighted they were still available when I came to do the window. 

Some glass balloons! I don't think the manager really liked them, but he admitted they added a nice bit of colour to the display. He's starting to have some strong views on the window so whether he's planning to change what happens there and move me on to something else I don't know. 

Aren't they cute! When the sun shone they cast a beautiful light into the main area of the shop too. It was a hard window to do as we're so low on stock, but I was quite pleased with the outcome. 

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Festive Food - Nothing Special

leftovers sandwich

I'm happy to report that we're £23 under the grocery budget this month, with only bunny greens left to buy. In the past we have made extra allowance for food over the Christmas period, because although we don't really celebrate Christmas we are off work (well, I only have one day off over Christmas and New Year) so we tend to buy a few extra bits and bobs. This year we decided to not do that, we bought a few different things, but nothing Christmas specific, other than the usual snack foods we take to MILs. 

We used our usual pantry foods to make more festive meals and added a jar or two of pasta sauce from Home Bargains for easy meals, and it worked. Knowing we had the pasta option at home really prevented impulse purchases when we were out and stopped the constant supply of snacks that we'd usually fall back on. We didn't buy any biscuits or chocolate as MIL had hinted a box of chocolate mints were on the way. No-one bought us biscuits but that's not been too much hardship, if it was that much of a big deal I'd just make some. 

Meals this week have wandered a little from the menu plan, just in order to use things up, which has made planning for the start of next month fairly easy. The rest of the week/ year will look something like this - 

27 cauliflower curry with bubble and squeak
28 l/o curry with sweet potato fries
29 chow mein
30 jacket potato with baked beans
31 enchiladas

And the start of January

1 l/o enchiladas (we'll be taking soup and nut roast pasties to the football)
2 plaki w. v-pud and something
3 chestnut orzotto w. v-pud
4 orzotto stuffed mushrooms or peppers
5 fried rice
6 out
7 dhal

Simple, easy, pantry based, and won't make me too sad when I've started my weightloss regime!

Monday, 25 December 2017

A Gift To Myself

I sprang out of bed this morning with all manner of happy thoughts in my head, full of the joys. And as the church bells range out I tackled the massive pile of multi coloured packages in the cupboard on the landing. 

What a mess!

Ok, maybe that's not too bad. That's where I keep all the decorative bits and bobs that go on the mantel and the one window sill we have in the house. 

Dan took some wallpaper to the garage, I moved a few of the decorative items from the top of the cupboard to the bottom, and a storage bag came back into use as a place for the paper recycling in the pantry. Then all I had to do was refold everything. Top shelf for bedding, bottom shelf for other things, like the picnic blanket. 

There's more in the cupboard than usual as we only have three sets of sheets for the main bed, and one set for the other beds. At the moment the spare bed isn't made up for some reason (laziness).

In case anyone was wondering why we have two flappy bits of hessian at either side of the cupboard it's because when the house was built it had underfloor heating and warm air blowers, the heating bit of which was in this cupboard, so in the bedrooms either side there are vents. The fabric is just to stop light getting through and to dampen the sound a little bit. 

Nothing at all to do with the thrill a minute of tidying cupboards, but last night we had some pasta, I opened a new bag and this came out. 

A rogue shape! The excitement never stops here. 

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Every Day Is Like Sunday

As I'm going to be spending lots of time indoors, wondering what day it is for the next five days I thought I'd get out for a trudge over wet sand this morning. 

It was gorgeous. The sea was really far out, but roaring loudly

and it's still beautifully misty

but with lovely light

The town "In Bloom" people will be collecting Christmas trees again at the start of the year to help build up the dunes. The trees planted this year are doing their job and grass is starting to grow. 

The pier was closed, but the cafe was open, with plenty of happy dog walkers inside!

It would have been a healthy start to the day were it not for the mince pie I treated myself to on the way home!

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Festive Smells

The smell of crisp, fresh air, clementines, cinnamon and pine may well be everywhere at the moment, but they are certainly not at my house. My house smells very, very bad today. There is a distinct rabbit stench coming from somewhere in the pen, so their rugs are in the washing machine and the steam cleaner is heating up. Be even more glad than usual you're not here.

At the charity shop we are selling anything Christmas related at bargain prices, we do not want anything left over at closing time on Saturday! So yesterday I was tempted by a couple of decorations to add to the fireplace. 

I picked up four for £1. This morning I added a couple of bows and bells to them and added them to the other wintery decorations. 

I don't know if it improves things any, but I think I quite like them. 

Although they do make me want a lollipop. 

I thought it looked a bit bare, then I found a pile of toadstools on the table. 

And now to sort out that fragrance...

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

In The Window

This is the Christmas window at the charity shop, it's actually the second version as I got bored of the original, which was purple and gold. It was also looking a little tired as things had been sold but nothing was put in to fill the gaps (who knows why) and it just looked messy.

 Originally there were four models, but the manager took one out.


I love the white and silver tree decorations.

I'll be nipping in next week to make thing as little more New Year focused, the tree is for sale today, so who knows what the window will look like when Christmas Day rolls round!

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Fuelled By YouTube

For the past couple of days I've been watching decluttering videos. In the past I've avoided them because they kind of make me feel sad, the thought of them brought back all the memories of when I had my moment - the time I finally faced up to the fact that I had to do something. Actually it was two moments, have I spoken about them before?

The worst one was when someone came to the house and I had to let them in but the house was a total disgrace, and the person treated me as if I was stupid. He was disgusted, and rightly so, but the way he spoke down to me was so upsetting. 

The second event that in my mind happened on the same day, but it probably didn't, was when I became stuck between the coffee table and tv unit in our snug. I was so large and so out of shape and the room so full of junk I couldn't move and had to wait for Dan to come and rescue me. How bad is that!

Anyway, we are now... 14 years down the line so as someone once sang - I can smile about it now but at the time it was terrible. Anyway, back to messy minimalist, I have been enjoying her videos and they have been prodding me to do more (even though the house is in pretty good shape these days, other than the hay, but that is what it is). Last night Dan came home with his Secret Santa gift, which was a big pile of snacks *yay*, the best thing is that it came in a nice box.

I decided to use it for my scraps of fabric, which has been living in a huge coffee sack

Apologies for the pictures, I did this when it was dark!

I can't believe everything fit inside! This is all my smallest scraps and any cut pieces of fabric. Not that many really, which is a very good thing. Everything, other than wadding and my cutting mats, now fit into the sideboard, which has to work very hard! It holds books and crafty bits

Stationery and other assorted stuff

Fabric and sewing things, my few larger bits of fabric are underneath the box.

It doesn't look amazingly tidy, but it works. I was left with a small amount of bits to chuck away, and an empty coffee sack!

And all before 8 am. 

Monday, 18 December 2017

From An Ungrateful Wretch

To the regifters.

I don't know if everyone with a birthday around Christmas feels the same, but I've spoken to a fair few people who have had similar experiences. 

1. No-one ever remembers.

2. Having a birthday in early January is the worst, everyone is just back to school, university, work and has had enough of celebrating. People are skint, on a diet, involved with their resolutions, or just wants to get back to normality.

3. Because no-one ever remembers birthday gifts are either the dreaded joint Christmas and birthday offering (because they know the birthday is sometime around Christmas but when, who can say?) Or it's the regift. 


I know re-gifting is a thing, but come on, don't regift in the Christmas wrapping paper. We know you didn't see a tin of Danish butter cookies, a Bayliss and Harding giftset in black pepper and ylang ylang flavour and think of us, at best you thought "OMG, quick, find something for that ungrateful wretch". 

Then there's the gift tokens. I believe I've aired my views on gift tokens before. Last year I received four, yes four, Google Play vouchers. Useful, but literally the least possible effort put into a gift, but it is nice to know you thought of me in the queue at Tesco. 

Most of this wouldn't happen if the birthday was in June. 

Don't want to buy me a gift, don't have the money, don't really care, that's absolutely fine, I have no issues with that at all. But when the only people who remember at the two people I know from a message board and have never met in real life (but have birthdays either side of mine), my mum and my husband it's a bit much, I get a lot of messages around the 10th of January saying "did I miss it again?" something I choose to find adorable. My own brother always thinks it's the day after the actual birthday - come on fella I'm nearly 43, we go through this every flaming year. He does, however, remember to wish Elvis and David Bowie a happy birthday. 

Or maybe it's just me, because I am an ungrateful wretch. 

Please note this is tongue in cheek, but I am also deadly serious (which is also tongue in cheek). 

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Reading List 2018

I've been through the house this week and pulled out all the books I want to read over the next year, we've had some of these books for years and I've only skimmed them, others I haven't managed to get through as they weigh nearly 5kg. 

The fiction - 

None of these should take too long to read, and I'm hoping to read a few of these between now and the new year. I've already started The Miniaturist and Elizabeth Is Missing.

The non-fiction

As for many people I was first excited about linguistics, and language in general at school through the work of David Crystal. We attended a lecture at Edge Hill University a month or so ago and I treated myself to one of his books, I read it a really long time ago but thought I'd enjoy a refresh. I have read a lot of the modern art book, I just want to read through again. In a fit of pettiness I bought this with a book token I received from my FIL, he doesn't really like modern art (and I don't think he's that fond of me) so I thought it would be appropriate to use the token to buy this. As I said, petty. 

Dan bought the Paul Nash book for my birthday this year, I'd like to read it before my birthday next year! The Elisabeth Frink, I've read about the works, there's just the general background and career history to read, probably only around 50 pages. 

We bought the Pasmore book this time last year and I've only flicked through it, I haven't even opened the geology one, so they are close to the top of the list. 

The elephant

This book is huge, and exceptionally heavy. I have started reading it, but it's soooooo heavy, no wonder it took Elain Harwood so long to complete! I'm aiming for a couple of pages per day. I've already read the parts about my favourite buildings, and places I know well but I want to read it through. Unsurprisingly I'm not going to start with this one as there would be no time to read anything else!

Not the biggest reading pile by any means, but certainly one to get through before I buy anything new. 

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Teeny Tiny Steps

Along with everyone else in the country we have been unable to avoid the news about the horrendous amounts of plastic we are chucking out willy nilly. I've known for a long time that it's something I really need to work on, but something happened recently that made Dan and I decide enough was enough. 

I wish I could remember what brought it to a head, it would probably be inspirational, but I can't. It's been coming since the Hugh's War On Waste show about coffee cups, there's the huge amount of waste that goes through the charity shop every week. Everything we receive into the shop is waste in a sense, it's something the owner doesn't want, and thankfully we can sell, recycle via the rag merchant, or pass on to a different charity a lot of it, but plenty still goes into the bin. I have absolutely no clue what happens to it after that, but we don't have a separate recycling bin. 

We have a couple of reusable coffee cups but tend to only use them when I take mylk to the shop or we take a drink out with us, I've never used mine for take out coffee, but neither have I had take out coffee so that's not too bad. Today we went to Windermere as there was a festive market on, I used my cup at the fantastic Earthworm Kitchen for a delicious almond mylk hot chocolate orange (it was amazing) you can see me enjoying it in the above picture. They didn't bat an eyelid. Later, Dan fancied a coffee so we used the same cup at a different place, even though the cup had been used the cafe owner wasn't bothered at all. Success! I know people in larger towns and cities will be surprised at my happiness, but this is a place where I once saw someone ordered their coffee in a reusable cup and the cafe owner made it in a paper cup, decanted the coffee and threw the paper cup away.

We did get some food too, but we had forks in the car and the container is suitable to go into the compost so that will happen tomorrow. The squidged item was The Buble Burger!


I had been thinking of buying a tiffin box or something for those times we treat ourselves to cake, but then I saw how much they cost and decided that I really could make do with the plastic tub with a domed clip on lid that we already own. 

Oh, another minor win was when we bought some onions, we don't have a market here so we buy almost everything from a supermarket. On Saturday we bought a bag of onions in a paper bag, there's a little bit of plastic on the front of the bag but it's a start.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

December In The Kitchen

Dan was working from home yesterday, so I spent a bit of time in the kitchen, something I don't seem to have done recently, who knows what we've been eating. I needed to fine a spice storage solution after being smacked on the head by a jar of mustard. Luckily I kept hold of a plastic tub that would no longer lock after Dan microwaved it with the lid on. A perfect fit for under the little shelf to store the lesser used spices.

My Aldi flowers are still going strong, I removed the less than great blooms and swapped the vase for a bottle. 

This week is a busy one by our standards so I did a bit of cooking so I don't have to think about it for a while. I even managed to fit a couple of things in the freezer box. 

I made three portions of cauliflower curry (top), using the last of the 20p curry paste I bought a while ago, one portion is in the freezer, we ate one last night, and there's one for tomorrow. I used up a load of mushrooms in a chestnut and lentil stew, one for tonight, one in the freezer. I've also written a menu plan, we're out and about a little bit so a plan should prevent waste.

1. tacos
2. bean burger
3. potato wedges w. houmous

4. cauliflower curry w. brown rice
5. chestnut stew w. veg and mash
6. cauliflower curry w. rice
7. out
8. soup and sandwich
9. hash
10 hash

11 black bean chilli
12 l/o
13 fried rice
14 pad thai
15 curried veg pie
16 l/o pie w salad
17 chestnut orzotto

18 stuffed mushrooms/ peppers
19 lentil bol
20 aduki bean pie (sweet potato topping)
21 fajitas
22 enchiladas
23 out
24 out

25 nut roast
26 gigantic sandwich
27 jambalaya
28 jacket potato w. baked beans
29 stirfry
30 cauliflower curry
31 chestnut stew

Dan has requested an East Coast Coffee cake and chocolate brownies, and of course there will be trifle!