dEAr diary…an unexpected day out

Do you ever have one of those days that doesn’t go to plan – I expect everyone does.  It wasn’t that yesterday turned out to be a bad day just different to what I had intended.  Last night I should have been sitting down pleased with myself for cleaning the freezer or making all the selection bags, but in the end I did neither – instead we had a trip to the Trafford centre to John Lewis to pick up a present for my daughter.

We were going to order this gift on-line but then changed our minds as we preferred to see what we were buying.  I am told that the 10th anniversary is tin so we have bought her a lovely handmade dragon-fly picture frame by Lancaster and Gibbings that is made of hammered or pressed pewter (which is a metal alloy of up to 99% tin).  We will put her a temporary picture in of Little L and Sweetie until we can take one that fits the space properly.After we had purchased the photo frame we of course had to have a browse around the store looking at all the beautiful things on display.  I could easily have indulged myself and one or two things might just go on my Secret Santa wish list.

Tonight DH is out at one of his music concerts, a new piece of work by contemporary composer Rebecca Saunders.  This kind of music is really not to my taste it often pushes the boundaries of music and can be creative to the extent that it is very strange.  But he enjoys it and Huddersfield is the UK’s largest international festival of new and experimental music.

I actually like having the house to myself for a few hours – I might even watch a Christmas film on the True Christmas channel – something light-hearted and funny.  I might even give myself a home pedicure after all that tramping up and down the shopping mall.

Today we head off again for North Yorkshire our second home at the moment!

Incidentally, in respect of my daughter’s wedding day (that I wrote about in my last but one post see here) which was on a Friday ten years ago in Masham town hall;  we heard that Any Questions was broadcast from there on Friday night so lucky for us the venue was not double booked all those years ago – it was strange enough having the play rehearsal going on at the time we were setting up the hall!!

Have a lovely weekend. x

PS Just a note about the John Lewis staff who are always so on the ball and helpful – they really try hard with their customer service, so thank you John Lewis.

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homestEAd…out in the garden

Another glorious day today, bright, sunny and clear blue skies – after stripping the bed and throwing the bedding in the washer I was tempted out into the garden and ended up staying out all day…with the washing.  I planted Allium, narcissus and tulip bulbs, cleared the last of the leaves that had fallen into the borders and spread a bit of manure around some of the plants.CyclamenThe Cyclamens are now planted in the front border by the footpath providing a splash of colour, although there is still quite a bit here and there in the garden.HebeMeanwhile DH spent time on the new shed.  It is has now been slotted into the space at the side of our house and waiting a fit out inside – a few tool hooks and some shelving.  We are reusing some white melamine that was once part of the wardrobe in my eldest daughter’s room, it is still in good condition so a shame to waste it and it will create a bit more space in the garage.

The shed is draped in polythene sheet for the moment to protect it from the rain and allow it to dry out enough to paint.  It will be so good to get the gardening equipment out of the garage and back to where it should be. Once the shed is finished DH will be concentrating on painting the front door.  We have plans to get a new one but to make it look more presentable for the time being we are going to paint the present one.

I may have mentioned that we had been contacted by the National Statistics Office to take part in a survey.  We agreed to be in today and the nice gentleman came at 5pm which was helpful as by then it was far too dark to garden.  The questions were not difficult – mainly about education, career and our present circumstances.  It was hard remembering just how many GCE’s I have though and what the subjects were;  no-one has asked me that for a long time.

I still have the selection bags to make.I tried out a couple of prototypes (apologies for the colour – flash light is never great) using the wrapping paper and some old cut up Christmas cards as tags.  I will probably go with the one on the left with the string tie though each tag will be different.  I have made a note of the paper size I used on the trial one so I can cut them out and make them up all at once and have a bit of a production line going…putting 5 assorted fun sized chocolate bars into each bag will make 8 bags.

Tomorrow I shall have to decide whether to make the bags or clean out my freezer – I doubt I will get both done as I will need to iron the bedding I washed today and also pack to go back up to our daughter’s for the celebration this weekend.  I am really looking forward to seeing Little L and Sweetie again.

But not the packing!

So a few more jobs off the list – shame I have to add some new ones on.

plEAsurable…wedding celebrations

What a gorgeous day it has been today (Wednesday) – sunny, dry and with a chill in the air –  it was identical weather on this same date November 14th ten years ago in 2008 for my younger daughter’s wedding day.

She married at St Mary’s Church just off the main square in the small market town of Masham, North Yorkshire.

This is me on the left with my mum and sister – all of us lookng a bit younger!

The wedding bouquets were made by a florist in a tiny shop in Bedale and were absolutely beautiful – deep, rich Autumn colours.To save on costs we added in a few bunches of our own courtesy of the cheap bouquets sold at the local Co-op the day before, together with a bunch of Hypericum and eucalyptus from our local market stall!  These were used to fill the jars we hung on the railings and Shepherd’s hooks in the Church grounds.Luckily my daughter wanted a home-made country look for her wedding so we were able to work to quite a tight budget.

We made the confetti from a mix of honesty seed pods, hydrangea petals and pressed montbretia petals, this gave us the vibrant oranges and the honesty is so light it makes wonderful confetti.  The mixture was then put into cellophane bags (collected from those used to package birthday cards) and decorated with a natural raffia bow.We used a professional photographer that was both fun and willing to take a mix of formal and more informal shots.  He certainly kept all our guests entertained with his humour and he took us all for a wander around Masham capturing some very unusual scenes – these are two of my favourite – in the telephone box on the left and outside the Bah Humbugs shop.The reception was held in the local town hall and once the formal pictures had been taken outside the church we all walked round in procession to the venue led by the bride and groom – no need to hire any cars.  Local friends, neighbours and shopkeepers from Masham came out to cheer the happy couple.As the town hall is not considered a normal wedding venue these days we had to hire in tables and white linen cloths from a local caterers and we added the plain orange napkins.  The chairs were supplied with the room but were rather shabby so one of biggest expenses was the hire of the Lycra chair covers and organza bows but this made all the difference to the room and the locals said they had never seen the town hall looking so good!

We had to lay all this out ourselves the evening before the wedding – we had loads of helpers and whilst we were busy moving and laying and tying and draping the local amateur dramatics society were rehearsing their muder mystery play on the stage.  It was a bit bizarre!

The centre pieces we made ourselves too – we bought some inexpensive large hurricane vases from Ikea and filled them with tiny dried pumpkins and a pillar candle.  Around the base we placed a ring of twigs picked up on a few country walks then soaked and twisted into shape.The favours were in plain calico bags decorated with pine cones and dried ferns with hand written craft labels.For the pew ends we bought rustic twig hearts and added a natural raffia bow.We had a wonderful and fun day finishing with a rousing Ceilidh with music by The Applejacks.

This weekend the whole family will be gathering for a celebration to mark both their tenth wedding anniversary and the birth of their second daughter.  We are a family blessed.

 

 

dEAr diary…a bit of this and that

Yesterday was my first full day at home for a while – I had no errands or shopping to do or any reason to go out and it seemed a bit of a luxury and a chance to get a few jobs done.  We have been away quite a bit recently and I often feel I spend my life packing and unpacking – I wish there was an easier way as I find it is quite disruptive to having a routine.   I had a few bits to catch up on, putting things away that had crept out of cupboards and drawers while my back was turned, keeping up with the financial records – receipts, bills and balancing the recent statement that dropped on our mat the other day.

It looked like a sunny, breezy day so I put my new towels in the washer to hang out later – the washer is being a bit temperamental when I wash towels – as soon as it reaches the tight spin it starts rocking violently even after I am so careful to try and balance the load – then it goes into fault mode and I have to reset.  The end result is towels that are still quite wet, not very helpful in the winter and I hope this doesn’t mean I have to get the engineer in. DH went out in the garden to rake up the last of the leaves and move the bags of rubble created from the pebble cleaning from the front to the side of the house out of sight.  Our local tip refuse to take rubble now they advise getting a skip (really for 3 bags of rubble?).  No doubt this is the reason for the rise in fly tipping around this area.  We are waiting for our daughter to order a skip to take away her old fireplace and will add our rubble to hers.

I have still the bulbs to plant and to add to that I managed to buy some Cyclamens for the garden.  The day before we left for North Yorkshire last week (re: on new baby alert) I received an email from Wyevale Garden Centres with a £5 voucher to spend but it would expire on the Sunday and we would be away.  As they have a place near the motorway junction we were heading for DH did a slight detour so I could spend my £5 – after all I couldn’t ignore a free fiver.  The Cyclamens were £4 each so I put £3 towards the voucher and bought two of the larger varieties which I thought was quite a bargain.

On Sunday evening on a bit of a whim I decided to go through my craft stamps – the clear ones that mostly came free with magazines.  There are a lot that I never use and wouldn’t use – so I will pass these on.  The sheets themselves are all shapes and sizes and a bit of a nightmare to store and taking up quite a bit of space.  So my solution was to put the individual stamps onto a piece of acetate film and drop this into a small self sealing plastic bag.  So now they are better organised and easier to find the one I want and a bit less clutter.

I had planned to start making a prototype for the little ‘fun size chocolate selection bags’ yesterday afternoon.  I usually make them from brown craft paper but this time I am using up an old roll of Christmas wrapping paper.  When I have finished them they will then be donated to the Crisis coffee morning at church to sell and raise funds for the homeless at Christmas. But I put this on hold to tidy up the kitchen and one thing led to another and before I knew it I was cleaning my oven and mopping floors.

During the tidy up I must have decided to keep the Santa mug as I have taken the label off the bottom and washed it!  It will be just right for hot chocolate and Little L will love it when she comes, I must look out for some Christmas paper straws.

I  received my Neal’s Yard order of a bottle of Arnica and Seaweed bath foam.  I had an email for 20% off and free postage just as I had used the last drop of my current bottle so I took advantage.  The ‘polystyrene’ chips used in their packaging are actually made of some kind of biodegradable material that dissolves to nothing if you put them in the sink and run water on them. Brilliant.

Then the postman delivered a letter from Sainsburys with a 1500 bonus Nectar points voucher to scan on my next visit to the store.  I must be on a roll with vouchers, points and money off at the moment  – as the TV ad goes ‘every little helps’ and I am not complaining.

After the long awaited new baby is our long awaited new shed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

trEAsury…nectar points shopping haul

I had just over 20,000 nectar points to exchange which gave me £100 to double up to £200 to spend in the Sainsburys Double Up event which started today.  We decided to go down to the supermarket this morning so that there would still be plenty of choice before the shelves started emptying as the event progresses.

We usually take advantage of the wines that are included in the double up offer – which is only on their own Taste the Difference wine but this is fine for parties and gatherings (we are no great wine buffs) and what isn’t used at Christmas and New Year will keep for Burns Night in January.

Nectar Points double up

For our £200 worth of vouchers we bought 9 assorted bottles of red, rose and white wine £66, 2 luxury bath sheets (I bought two a while ago on offer and they are really soft and wash well) £22 each, a pack of colour printer inks £35 and one black one £17, a box of indoor/outdoor Christmas lights for the tree £15, a rope storage tub £10, a Santa mug £3.75 and a small wooden tray £10.  The total of the purchases ran over by 75p but I was happy to pay the 75p for all this.  Being able to double up the value of your points in effect makes every item half price.

Although I can justify buying most of the items and some of them like the wine, towels, Christmas tree lights and printer inks are a bargain on the double up; the last three items you may have spotted are not really needs but ‘nice to haves’  – I do have a use for each of them but I may even decide to return them yet or give them as gifts if I feel I have been too indulgent and bought things that are simply going to add to the clutter again.

It is on items like this that I often get stuck, they are not necessities, more decorative and there are so many lovely things out there to buy – but none of it is really needed.  I will give myself a cooling off period and see how I feel about them in a few days time.

Later in the day I collected a parcel from Boots as I had ordered some hair styling foam that I use and bought two whilst on a half price offer and we had the paint mixed for the shed and front door – DH got quite a good discount as he opened a cash account at the Crown Decorator Centre a while back.  The shed is coming tomorrow – yeah!

On Thursday we may be having an official visit from a gentleman from the National Statistics Office who is conducting a survey on behalf of the government and we have been bribed with given a £5 voucher already for taking part!  This should be quite interesting as I never consider ourselves a normal or average family in today’s world.

have a good day x

 

 

 

 

 

fEAsible…November intentions

November Intentions

We are already on day twelve of November – just short of halfway so my intentions will have to be briefer than intended to get through them all by the end of a month that has only 30 days.

Waiting for little Sweetie to arrive has extended a lot of our plans for October into November but I don’t mind she is well worth it.  So this is my revised plan for November (otherwise known as what I ‘intend’ to do) –

plEAsurable and fEAsting

We have a few planned events this month

-a family celebration this coming Sunday

 -DH has booked to see 4 concerts from 16th to 25th during the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival

-and I will be attending the ‘Crisis’ coffee morning at our local church on the 24th (and hopefully will have made my selection bags by then for the craft stall to sell).

bEAching

A trip to the cottage is still on the agenda –

but this might prove a little difficult to squeeze in.  We have had numerous flood warnings recently as there have been a lot of high tides in the bay but luckily I can keep updated on the village Facebook page where the locals put short videos of any adverse weather.  I do love this time of year though at the cottage – I actually like the bleakness and watching the crashing waves on the shore whilst we cosy up in the caravan.

crEAting

This is now becoming urgent and I must focus on –

-finalising my Christmas card design

-making the chocolate selection bags

-preparing for our Not so Secret Santa draw next weekend

I may have to accept that making my Calendar books for my friends will have to be postponed for another year.

trEAsury

More than ever we need to watch the pennies this year. It is with reluctance that I have decided to look over my Christmas card list and reduce it down to save on the postage costs, as even with second class stamps it is a hefty amount  – so my intention here is to resort to an email with a print your own letter card.

I have no need to buy any new trimmings this year but we do need to get the Christmas lights out as I think we had to cobble together the tree lights last year and may need to buy new ones.  As Sainsburys are having their Nectar Point Double Up event this week I am making a note of everything we can buy from Sainsburys using my £99 of reward points which is equal to almost £200 of goods.  We need to get there early to have the pick of the wine and other Christmas goods on offer.  I will also be putting some printer inks in my basket as this is a good buy.

rEAranging and nEAtening

Rather than continuing with any more decluttering I will be clearing the remaining piles of items going out and calling it a day for this year.  I have old postcards to give to a bookshop in Buxton, and a lot of ‘shredding’ from our files to dispose of (which I may burn at the cottage on a bonfire).  Last week I managed to take the final bags to Oxfam and gave some old work papers back to work for their shredding bin.

I have been doing a thorough clean of a lot of the rooms alongside the decluttering but this month I will concentrate on the kitchen as it has taken a back seat again recently and I need to clean the oven and on top of the cupboards.

I have been running the freezer down and I propose to give this a clean and then restock with some Christmas meals, more soup and a few other bits.

fEAsting

I  usually make my Christmas cake after the church Crisis coffee morning which is always scheduled for the last but one Saturday in November.  This stems from the time when I organised this event and could not do anything towards our Christmas until it was over.  I have bought all the ingredients ready and I will soak the fruit a few days prior to baking.

I will also make more soup to have on hand as December gets busier and we need some quick nutritious meals.

homestEAd

After the long wait I think we can finally call the shed company to have ours delivered and erected and then all the gardening stuff can be moved out of the garage.  We have been waiting for a day when we could say we would be at home.  I think we can do that now.

mEAndering

Finally no month would be complete without a few days out and about.  There are numerous events on in the region but I will probably settle on a day out in Derbyshire – Buxton or Bakewell maybe – with a picnic of course.

So with barely 3 weeks to go I had better get a move on.

 

 

dEAr diary…celebrations

She has finally arrived, Saturday 10th November at 4.30am in the morning – a beautiful healthy baby girl – the new addition to our family.  Weighing in at 6lb 14 ounces, after another difficult labour, but both mum and baby sleeping  it off (and dad too!).  And granny and granddad for that matter!!

DH and I are back home now to give them some time to themselves for a few days.  Little L is overjoyed with her new baby sister – her chosen name was Sweetie – not the name mum and dad have called her but I think it is a suitable name for my blog.

So Little L and Sweetie it is.

dEAr diary…

I am sitting on my daughter’s spare room bed at 9.30 at night still waiting for Little L to drift off to sleep in the next room.  At the moment it doesn’t seem very likely that she is going to be asleep this side of midnight!  We are still waiting for news of the new baby which should be anytime in the next few hours as mum was induced earlier.

I am absolutely shattered – we spent part of the morning packing (we always seem to be packing to go somewhere), then the drive up here to North Yorkshire in time for Little L’s school assembly at 3pm for the parents (and grandparent) where the older children had planned a little remembrance service, then cooking tea in a strange kitchen – strange in the fact that I am never very sure where everything is kept, like the scissors or the tin foil.  I must have opened every cupboard and drawer by now.

I think perhaps we made the wrong decision in looking after Little L at her home rather than pick her up from school and take her back to ours for the weekend but we didn’t want her to miss her ballet lesson tomorrow.  Now I am wondering if we will all be up in time to get to the ballet lesson.

Going back to the remembrance service – the children in years 3 and 4 had been learning about life in the trenches for the troops fighting the war and how difficult life was for them.  They were then asked to write a letter to someone who was a friend telling of the awful time they were having and of the reality as often the soldiers wrote letters to their families but didn’t mention the horror of the war so as not to worry or upset them.  Each child read out their letter – it was quite moving and I wondered myself how these brave men endured such hardship, being continuously cold, wet and covered in lice and sores from the Trench foot.

Must go now I need some sleep myself.

 

fEAsible…October review

I really enjoyed October, I had time to test out new routines, catch up with a lot of paperwork, reorganise some areas in the house, declutter a little more and spend time with Little L.

But now I have to focus on November and the Christmas plans, I haven’t a lot in mind this Christmas due to circumstances within the family we have no big events so it will be a minimal, simple time for us.

We are STILL waiting the arrival of the new baby – we have been on amber alert for over a week now and still no sign.  Until baby arrives we cannot have the shed delivered and erected (it is made and waiting), or go up to Scotland or go very far at all so many of our October plans are running over into November.

So how did I do with my ‘intentions’ last month –

appEArance

…well I finally found time just for me-for a little self-care, a reflexology session and back massage (wonderful), a trip to the hairdressers and a homemade pampering session.

Neal's YardAs Neal’s Yard strapline says I certainly felt the love.

mEAndering

Sadly we didn’t get to the Manchester Artists Book Fair but we did have some great days out and about in our local parks and a visit to Kiplin Hall in North Yorkshire for lunch with my mum. 

crEAte

I haven’t had time to focus on a lot of craft work as I didn’t want to lose the momentum of clearing the house but I was able to gather a few Autumn treasures, the colours are so  beautiful at this time of year I could happily sit and sketch or paint for hours.

I have made a start on the lino cut Christmas card sketching out a few ideas which I will develop into a final print.

On our recent trip to the Wigtown Book Fair I was inspired by the work of artist Astrid Jaekel.  Many of the buildings and walls in Wigtown had been  decorated like giant canvases in striking black and white prints ….

…in a similar way I used some little rubber bird stamps I have and a black ink pad to create a few simple birthday cards.

fEAsting

With plenty of apples from our tree to use up I baked Apple cake – eaten with or without butter – delicious either way, a cake for my brother’s birthday and of course the Halloween buns with help from Little L.For lunch I have made a lot of soup trying out a number of different recipes.  We loved them all and they are now firm favourites – perfect for the cooler weather.     homestEAd

Progress was made on the home front too.  Whilst DH sorted out the pebbles, cleaning and relaying them around the house (after the mess of the rendering), I did the easy bit of buying a new pot which is currently just planted with a few pansies to brighten up our front doorstep.  I had intended Cyclamens but I have still to find some that are a reasonable price.We did quite a bit in the garden whilst the weather was good, weeding borders for the last time this year, gathering up the pots into a more sheltered position and covering up the garden furniture – we are all ready now for any bad weather to come.

trEAsury

Being on a tight budget there is not a lot of leeway now to spend on anything we really don’t need and in any case I am making a big effort not to buy more stuff as I am clearing the clutter but this little patterned storage jar from Next is just perfect for my teabags, was a reasonable £6 and just breaks up the empty space left where I removed the three old glass tea, coffee and sugar storage jars from the worktop.  I will be reusing these for rice in my new pantry when DH fits it out.

The wooden bookmark was a great find in a craft shop – also inexpensive but perfect for the person I was giving it to.

Throughout the month we did have plenty of no spend days and the trips to the local park provided our free entertainment.  We have been very careful at the supermarket only buying food to a menu plan or to take advantage of any offers and by making plenty of soup we have avoided being wasteful with the vegetables.  On our outings we packed sandwiches and have taken drinks in a flask to help keep costs down if we need to eat when we are out.  It does take time to plan all this but once you get into the swing of things it does become easier.

rEAranging and nEAtening

It would seem that all my efforts to simplify and declutter are beginning to pay off.  With less stuff around I feel so much better in myself and much more organised – I can certainly feel the weight of the stuff, that has felt like a burden to me for so long, lifting.  It is so much easier to locate the things we do need to find and use.

  At the moment I am tackling the paper mountain in the office/craftroom.  This includes anything from receipts and bills to recipes and garden clippings and everything else in between.  Of course since we had the flood at the cottage I am nervous about not keeping receipts as without them we could not have claimed for our contents.  As I had kept every receipt since we bought the place there was no question of not being reimbursed but they do take up space – the alternative is to scan them onto the computer.

managEAble

On the planning side I have been gathering together bits and pieces for my Christmas notebook (I decided to reuse an old A5 filofax that I have rather than buy a new notebook).  Any craft ideas, gift ideas or recipes for the festive period are being filed in here along with such things as the posting dates for Christmas cards and other information that I may need.

Last night I booked to go on the Dunham Massey Christmas Lights trail with some of our friends in December.  It is a National Trust property in Cheshire, a beautiful old Georgian house and this magical light show in the grounds is now in its second year.  This is a real treat – not cheap and even National Trust members have to pay but I am really looking forward to going – just a little disappointed we won’t be able to take Little L as she lives too far away and our booking is on a school night.

We will probably go to the Saltaire Advent Window event too but in contrast this is a free event and well worth going to.

Halloween Pumpkin

So that was a quick round-up of October – a very productive month for me – I feel I achieved a lot and the piles waiting to go out to new homes is going down bit by bit as I dispose of the items I no longer need or want.  Once you begin to uncover more space I find you just want more.

Just as a matter of interest I popped into my old work today – I had birthday presents to take to some friends there and a box of old work related papers for shredding.  It was lovely to see everyone but I was not prepared for the news that the new lady has now handed in her notice.  Rumour has it that she would have been asked to leave anyway as many of the workforce have had some difficult dealings with her.  At least the management are now aware of her bad behaviour themselves as she holds nothing back and has been extremely rude to everyone and anyone including the directors; in fact one of the directors is having to sit at my old desk to keep an eye on her at present until her departure to prevent further problems arising between her and my old team – she has been quite nasty to them at times and to think I stuck up for her when she first arrived – my lovely hard-working team do not deserve to be treated like they have been since I left and she took over.

It was in my opinion only a matter of time before this happened – people like this usually hang themselves without any help from others.  I just hope the new Solicitors that are taking her on are well prepared!

I will keep you updated when I am able about the baby – surely it cannot be much longer amybe tonight will be the night!

Back soon X

dEAr diary…shock, horror and simple pleasures

Duck pond

It is always a shock to realise just how many days have elapsed since my last post.  I thought it was only one or two but it was actually October 25th when I last made an entry and I am not sure I can account for all that time, in fact I am wondering myself just what have I been doing!!

In the main our time was taken up with my granddaughter who was here for a visit in her very first school holidays.  We noticed a few changes in her since her last visit in the summer and especially now she has started school; one of them being that she has quickly learned to drop her ‘t’s and we now pronounce butter in great Yorkshire style as bu’er.  Many readers not familiar with the Yorkshire dialect will not be able to pronounce butter without the t’s but I can assure you that for Yorkshire people it is quite possible though maybe not desirable.

The other notable thing was when we were playing at shops (a Pizza takeaway!) she asked me for 15$ rather than £15 and she sold cookies not biscuits…and so it goes on, where will this American influence end – it must be down to all the American TV programmes and toys that speak with an American accent.Duck pondAll that aside we had some lovely days out at the local parks, complete with picnics at her request, and another trip to the local library.Winter Picnic

We had fun for hours on the swings, feeding the ducks and shouting to grandad down the speaking tubes.  We crunched through the leaves, gathered a few too,  played football and hide and seek and then got warmed up again with a flask of hot chocolate. Duck food

Feeding the ducks

She was with us for Halloween and my friend and neighbour had asked that I took her round as she had bought some sweets in specially.  So we carved pumpkins and made buns to decorate… Horror cupcakes

…they passed the taste test…Testing the buns… she had a sweet little witches costume and hat in her suitcase to put on and with a little face paint – the best scary face granny could manage – we were all ready and when it grew dark we set off with our magic pumpkin all lit up on the Halloween trail.  Granny was so excited!!First stop, my neighbour’s house where we exchanged sweets for one of the grewsome chocolate buns which my friend was delighted with.  I noticed a few other houses displaying pumpkins so we knocked on one or two doors not knowing what to expect.  It is many years since I took part in anything Halloween – back when my two daughters were little the trick or treating aspect was just taking off and rather than a pumpkin we had to carve a turnip complete with a bit of real blood (when the knife slipped) and some old black skirts to dress up in – the shops had not caught on to making money out of it then.

Experiencing the event first hand completely changed my views on Halloween – rather than the dark and sinister event the church might fear I found it to be a lovely time and the children seemed to take it all very light-heartedly.  It occurred to me that we have no other occasion that we celebrate where you can go round to a neighbour’s house that you may not even know,  knock on their door and they welcome you and give you sweets.    So many people had taken the time to decorate and carve pumpkins even a number who didn’t have children.  One person had really gone to town with smoke and eery music outside which was quite scary but lots of fun – like going on the Ghost Train – but most had a simple lit pumpkin – none of the plastic rubbish sold in the shops in evidence.

I got to chat with neighbours I had never met before and greet other people dressed up and wandering the streets as we were.  It was a truly happy occasion and everyone was so generous.  It reminded me of Carol singing days when our church members would go round the village at Christmas and the villagers would welcome you with mince pies and a hot drink – sadly this event is no longer – they have Carols in the park instead.

Of course Little L was absolutely delighted with her bag of treats and once back home we put our lit pumpkins out on the doorstep and waited for Halloweeners to call on us.  Soon the doorbell was ringing and Little L on ‘witch alert’ ran to open the door and provide the same hospitality we had received.

Now the new baby is imminent and we are packing again to go and rescue Little L at the appropriate time to look after her for a few days.  In between all this I have been doing a bit more sorting out – mainly paperwork and today I will be getting rid of a few more piles – a large box of papers to go back for shredding to my old works, a charity bag and a mound of card fronts for the ladies at the Welcome Centre who turn them into new cards to resell.

I rather think that until baby makes an appearance my Christmas plans ae on hold.  Should baby still be reluctant to arrive before Friday I might get to post my October review and my Intentions for November (better late than never) that applies to baby too!

Welcome new followers and apologies for the lack of comments – I have a bit of catching up to do.

Back soon x

PS.  If you wish to leave a comment go to the top of this page and underneath  the title and click on leave a comment.

 

 

dEAr diary…just catching up with myself

Hi everyone and to my new followers – it has been a few days since my last post and a busy few days – I have been on a bit of a roll and not had time to stop and blog or have been too tired to write anything meaningful.  I have been keeping up with you all though even if I haven’t left a comment – Sadie, I love your videos – you are so creative.

Before I go on I must just mention that a few people keep asking me about the capital ‘EA’ in my titles and categories – well I hate to disappoint – there is no profound reason for this – it has no meaning other than I noticed when defining my categories at the very start of my blog that they all contained the letters EA – so nothing more than me having a play around on words.  The added advantage is that it does make it unmistakably my blog.

So with that out of the way on with the knit and natter – but without the knitting bit….

Well, I wish I could say that the house is sparkling clean, all the clutter has gone and I am super organised when in fact only parts of the house are clean (maybe not with the sparkle) some of the clutter has gone and I am still trying to be organised.

It all takes time.

On Saturday we had a mammoth outing, a mixture of errands and shopping.  It took us most of the day.  We off-loaded a couple more bags to the Charity shop, returned the library books, returned a couple of tops to Sainsbury’s,  bought some bags of gravel to finish the concrete for the shed base, bought the new brackets to hold the ladder outside on the wall, bought a mattress topper from IKEA and bought a cheap sweatshirt from Primark for DH (probably to mix the concrete in!).  At the end of it all we shared a toastie in Costa with my loyalty points, had a hot drink each and a little treat from Next – I bought a (just couldn’t leave it in the shop) grey and white patterned storage jar for my teabags to keep on the counter top, £6 and DH found a mechanical pencil reduced in the sale in the Paperchase concession shop for £4.

We managed to do all this without paying for any parking and came home happy, but tired bunnies.

Further progress has been made in the home office / craft room well that is what we call it but it is actually masquerading as a paper mountain – or is it a paper mountain masquerading as a home office?  How can two fairly simple lives collect such a lot of paper – I feel we are drowning in the stuff.  This is just a bit of it.Piece by piece I have tackled pile after pile.  I have reduced my craft folder clippings to only those ideas I know I might make at sometime, the recipes ditto.  I threw out all but a few of my clippings on health, diet and exercise; ditto the clippings of kitchens, decorating ideas and home styling.  And some more books to go.     I washed the rest of the vintage doilies and mats that came from my mum’s house – keeping any I thought I might use in some way in future and the rest will go to the CS.

I have made soup, soup and more soup – mushroom, leek and potato, green veg and the latest was tomato – all delicious and so quick and easy to make.  My lovely neighbour gave me these – the last of her tomatoes from her outdoor plants so I will be making more of this during the week and looking to grow some myself next year.

I did a thorough clean of the living room and cleared out or rearranged a few ornaments …– my one piece of Autumn decor is a tiny pine cone on the mantel piece, my new hand-made ‘crafty’ vase from Dunoon containing a dried hydrangea head and a bamboo plate displaying a few Autumn nature table finds – subtle but simple.

I am rather liking the minimalist approach and I won’t have to store any of it in fact it will compost very well.

Remember my new routines that I am setting up – they are not going too badly.  In fact I surprise myself sometimes.  So far I have attended to my emails and finances every morning – we should make it to pay-day on Friday (if that is what you call collecting the state pension) although we don’t actually have to queue up and collect it, it is just deposited in our bank.  Nothing to spare though this month which is a bit disappointing;  C+ for effort but must try harder next month.

The food shopping is working out at about £50 week with one week a little more when I bought toilet rolls and some multiples of items on offer and a load of nuts for the Christmas nut loaves, chocolates and cake.  I had a full refund on the M&S potatoes as there were so many bad ones in the bag I took them back.  I am going to aim for £45 a week for the groceries next month.

The unexpected items this month  –  the gravel and cement for the gap above (how six bags of gravel can fit into such a small space is amazing), ladder brackets, car bulbs and the mattress topper (which is actually for my daughter’s bed not ours so I can get a good nights sleep when we stay there!).  Baby still not appeared and we live in hope it will come soon.

I am already thinking about the November expenses – 4 birthdays and a wedding anniversary – no funerals (that I know of) – but there could be a 5th birthday of course if someone doesn’t get a move on.

Oh and did I mention the cheque for the tax refund came yesterday – how is that for service – quicker than my posts that’s for sure.  DH has a nice letter too from the tax man –  after my phone call last week to the inland revenue he has been given part of my tax allowance for the year under the new married tax allowance rules to reduce his tax bill –  such is love!

Not much more to say – it has been windy here in Yorkshire but good for drying the washing.

Have a good week who knows I might find time between paper sorting to post again soon x

 

 

 

dEAr diary…getting more things done

Not quite so productive today but I have been busy.

I started this morning doing my 10 minute financial tally – fine so far – and then I chose one of the longer outstanding financial tasks to do from my list.  This was to inform the Inland Revenue of my change of circumstances as there might be a possible tax rebate and to transfer part of my personal tax allowance under the married allowance rules to DH so that his combined pension, state and private, does not attract as much tax.

I tried to do this on the website but failed as there was a problem with the application.  So I resorted to the phone which I can tell you is long and laborious.  Firstly, you talk to a recorded voice (which sounds like a person but could be a robot?) – they ask you a question and then you say an answer and then silence…and then they say did you say xyz and so it goes on.  In between the answers you give they suggest you use the website – well of course who would be phoning and subjecting themselves to this rigmarole needlessly if you could get the information or apply on the website!

And why they think anyone else would ring impersonating you and subject themselves to a long and frustrating wait is beyond me but they obviously do as the Inland Revenue help line are introducing a voice recognition service if you wish to sign up…I decided not…I might lose my place in the queue and have to start over again.

It leaves you feeling why can’t a real person answer the phone in the first place.  Eventually someone did – a lovely man who couldn’t get the application to go through either and will have to escalate it up to someone else who can – but they will write to me – hopefully with a nice cheque!!

After that ordeal I made a phone call to my daughter to check on progress – nothing happening at the moment – all is good and no sign of baby coming early.  I then set to and ironed yesterday’s washing, made the Leek and Potato soup for lunch (it had become a bit of a late lunch by this time) and whilst that was cooking I washed and prepared the salad items and some vegetables we bought last night to keep ready in the fridge.  I find pre-preparing some things saves a lot of time later when we come to make a meal.

We then sat down after lunch for 10 minutes but became engrossed in the Wartime Farm – I love this series of programs and just had to watch it to the end.  I wonder if we would be as able to provide for ourselves now as they did then.  The men and women found such ingenious ways of substituting when food and other things like soap were scarce.

It must have been just after 4pm when I got out into the garden.  I filled the new pot with compost and decided for the time being to put the pansies in it.  They do look really pretty.  It was six o’clock when I came in after doing a bit of tidying up and emptying pots of plants that are completely over so too dark to take a photo – I will go out in the morning to take some.

DH had a really bad back today and I wouldn’t let him go out to do anymore digging and heaving paving slabs about.  It is quite a mess by the side of the house and I shall be glad when all is done and we can put the compost bins back in place and start using them again.

Looking back at today’s tasks that I did get done perhaps I was more productive than I thought – but the paper piles still remain – I shall do a bit more on that tomorrow.

Must go now to ring mum before tea. x

 

 

 

 

 

 

dEAr diary…getting things done bit by bit

After sleeping on it we came to a decision and went out on Sunday morning to resolve the pot issue.  Totties Nursery had the large frost resistant pot we liked but not the colour – so we drove on to Wyevale Garden Centre, they had both the pot and the colour.  The ticket on the pot said £29.99 – I used my £3 off Wyevale voucher and they also accepted a £10 National garden token making the cost of the pot £16.99 ( much more in line with our new budget).  In a separate transaction I  bought 3 trays of pansies on offer for £10 and used my £5 voucher – a total of £5 spent.  Not a bad saving although we did get absolutely soaked choosing them.

All I need to do now is to fill the pot with compost and add the plants – I cannot decide between the pansies or cyclamens for the new pot.  I will need to sleep on it!

Today it has been really damp and cold here.  I brought the washing in after lunch as it really wasn’t drying in the damp air but DH managed to soldier on moving paving slabs around outside ready to dig out to lay the concrete.  He is groaning with a little back ache tonight – so maybe I will be on the washing up.

After writing a meal plan and shopping list most of the day has been spent dealing with paperwork – bits and pieces of loose ends.  I feel a bit swamped with piles of paper and I must get rid of a lot of it – there is no easy way to file and remember some of the articles I have torn out of magazines in case they might be useful so I have decided it has to go.

I spent a few minutes cutting the fronts off a pile of old birthday cards – some I keep to turn into tags and the rest I will take to the Welcome Centre where some lovely dedicated ladies will make them into new cards to resell.  The back of the card goes into the recycling.

I have also spent an hour perhaps two going through emails and deleting what I can – I now have an inbox of none but I am sure it will fill up again soon.  The plan is to check them every morning when I do my financial checks and receipts which I am happy to report are completely up to date.  The system of 10 minutes each morning is working well so I will add on another 10 minutes to deal with the emails and see how it goes.

I have chosen Monday as my weekly shop day but after going to Sainsburys during the daytime recently and finding it far too busy I have reverted to going at about 5.30pm as I did when I was working.  It is not crowded at all at this time and although it is about 7.30pm when I get home I don’t mind as we can have a quick and easy tea – in fact I will make some soup at lunchtime next Monday to eat with a fresh roll when we get in.

In Sainsburys this week I bought a pack of Sainsburys own Little Ones eco baby wipes  – I noticed the pack seemed smaller so once back at home I checked it against the one I have almost finished and I was right.  Instead of 72 wipes there are now only 64 and the packet is smaller in length too.  Another product that has become a victim of shrinkation. On the good side the Sainsbury’s own Pizza we bought for tea is now on a cardboard tray rather than a polystyrene one – so thumbs up to Sainsburys.

Tomorrow I thought I might make soup – I have some leeks and potatoes to use up in a Leek and Potato soup and I  bought a reduced pack of tomatoes and some Romano red peppers to try out a new recipe for Tomato soup and I might make some Parmesan crisps to go with it.

So bit by bit I am carving out a new routine and setting up some better systems as well as clearing out old unwanted items.  I have generated quite a shredding pile now and this will have to be another task that I do a few at a time so I don’t overheat the shredder.

Back soon x

 

dEAr diary…shopping and ‘Shalloween’

Saturday’s plans changed.  The weather changed – it was windy but a warm wind as if someone had a hair dryer on you.  It rained on and off too.  DH was at a loss as his jobs at the moment are outdoor based.  So I suggested we went to collect the click and collect from Wilko’s in town and then do a few ‘in town’ things finishing up at the local Wyevale garden centre as they had sent me a £5 off voucher (without a minimum spend).

Wyevale’s prices are dear but something free for £5 (if you can find anything for that value) is not to be turned down.

The click and collect (not very exciting – just a car bulb set to keep in the car for DH) was collected then we went round to the library to have a browse.  I only came away with two books – Homemade Christmas and The English Seaside for a bit of nostalgia.Then onto Boots for some Aveeno body moisturising cream – I only buy it when on offer as it is quite expensive but is really good for my skin – having no Thyroid gives you very dry skin.  Of course the larger 500ml was out of stock. Annoying as it is out of stock on the internet too.   I will just have to keep checking.Good as Gold NotebookRound to WH Smiths – DH persuaded me to buy the notebook I wanted as he pointed out it is something I use all the time.  As it happens I had a Love to Shop voucher for £10 given to me at Christmas from my old work place.  So  I bought it and this is now ready for January.

Last stop in town was Marks and Spencers.  For some reason not many supermarkets do Maris Piper potatoes  they seem to favour the Maris Peer (quite different taste) – so I get my spuds from M&S when I can.  The standby Vegetable Crispbakes I get from time to time to keep in the freezer have not made an appearance for ages – probably discontinued – I wish shops would put a shelf note on when products disappear.

We had parked in Sainsbury’s in town – 2 hours free for a £5 spend.  This works out better than handing over £2 for nothing (other than the use of the car park of course!) to the cheapest of the town centre parks.    I might as well have something for the money – we got two organic wholemeal loaves reduced to 40p and topped up with a few tomatoes, a leek and 2 pints of milk to last us to Monday and a box of my organic teabags.

I had a free drink voucher at Wyevale too so when we arrived we indulged in a hot drink each and shared a huge scone for £4.  I think DH is finding all the scrimping and saving a bit depressing as it reminds him of our earlier ‘just had the children’ days when money was tight back then but I see it as a challenge and a way to conserve our emergency private pension fund to use for other things like holidays.  I am also interested to see what it is actually like living on one state pension and can it be done.

I am looking for a planter to put beside our front door for when DH re-stains it and then something to put in it.  (Not sure if the state pension will run to such a non-essential item) but anyway I was not impressed with the range of plants on offer at Wyevale they are expensive and I am not one to make a snap decision about the pot (also expensive) so we came away to think about colour and shape. 

The £5 coupon finishes today so I can’t dither too much, but as always I need to shop around a bit to be certain of what I want.  So a trip to Totties (our local nursery) today it is –  I have a £100 voucher to spend at Totties  –  a leaving gift from work – so I will go and look at their range of pots and plants first and then make my decision.  There is another Wyevale close to this so I can then go and spend my £5 on plants if need be – or should I say a plant!

I must say after yesterday’s shopping trip I was left feeling very frustrated at the way all the shops are pushing this Halloween thing.  I have no objection particularly to Halloween in moderation but every shop we went into had Halloween stuff piled high – even some of the usual items have just been given a ‘Halloween’ makeover – a bit of orange and a black spider web and they can charge more and sell more – a Halloween notebook and pencil set – I ask you what has that to do with anything – it all seems a bit superficial, as Christmas is becoming, as if it is the consuming that is the all important thing rather than the event and there is no stopping it once it starts it all just gains momentum.

And while I am on the subject why are we trying to reduce plastics in one area, like drinking straws and carrier bags which actually had a purpose, and then we are allowing cheap plastic imports of absolute rubbish into the country, and heaps of it.  Most of the cheap plastic items sold for Halloween will end up in landfill eventually (after all our teenage son or daughter will not be taking their plastic pumpkin to Uni with them LOL!).

I do think it is bad of companies to target children with all their marketing strategies when it is also compromising their futures at a time when we are trying to work towards a more sustainable future for them.

At least a pumpkin is a natural item – it can be carved for lanterns, used as decoration and eaten – it will eventually rot down and compost and can be returned to the garden – end of.  And isn’t the fun of Halloween making the decorations and dressing up imaginatively.

My suggestion would be to boycott the plastic ‘Shalloween’ and only buy paper or natural decorations.

Rant over!

What are your thoughts on plastic Halloween?

dEAr diary…a week of domesticity

I have been busy……….domestically so………….bliss.

There is nothing to beat the satisfaction of a few days of cleaning, clearing and crafting at the homestead

First of all I had to tackle a mountain of washing and ironing after a fortnight at the cottage.  With no easy means of washing clothing or bedding in the caravan it has to be brought home for laundering.  Once that was all line dried, ironed, aired and put away there was…Laundry

Laundrythe  apples… and yet more apples to deal with – they are now peeled, chopped, cooked and in the freezer.  I kept a few apples back to make individual crumbles (together with the last ‘use up’ jar of apricot puree from the kitchen cupboard clear out) – they are also in the freezer.  Apple and apricot crumblesAnd finally I baked an old favourite from the basic Good Housekeeping cookbook –  a mouth-watering apple and sultana cake.  This didn’t even make it as far as the freezer.

Apple cake

One of my intentions this October is to make a new recipe each week – last week I made a delicious mushroom soup for lunch – so quick and easy – topped with some left over grated cheese but it would have been equally good with croutons and a swirl of cream.

Mushroom soup

This week we have had a green soup using up the spinach, lettuce, leek and some frozen peas.  I added a small potato for thickening, some vegetable stock and a handful of fresh parsley.  It was gone before I could photograph it!

With all this housekeeping I think I might be turning into a Stepford wife – just give me a little frilly pinny!

In and amongst the domestic chores I have continued with the decluttering to reduce our stuff and being mindful of the 5 R’s –

recycle, reuse, reduce, recover (or repurpose) and repair. 

I intend to find a new home, a new purpose, a way to recycle or repair so that nothing leaves here in the bin unless there is no other way.  This is my progress this week:-

Repairs

Just before we left for Scotland our under counter fridge in the kitchen suddenly stopped working.  It is about 32 years old – in fridge years that makes it a pensioner like us!   I thought that was it. Curtains for the fridge.  I panicked because we hope to have a new kitchen put in sometime soon and we will be looking at an integrated fridge so didn’t want to have to buy a new one, not now.  Luckily SIL (who is an electrician) stepped in and thought it was the thermostat – ordered one whilst we were away, fitted it and voila it works again.  Don’t you just love being able to repair things.  Cost – £12.

DH is betting (hoping) it lasts another 32 years!

I have a battery operated bedside alarm clock in retro style where the alarm stopped working (ironically the day before I stopped working) – so after the success with the fridge I went to see the clock man in town to enquire about a repair.  Unfortunately, I was told it was a sealed unit made as non-repairable, so nothing they could do.  I came home disappointed – so with nothing to lose DH unscrewed the back off the clock to find there is in fact a sealed electronic unit inside.  He just jiggled any accessible components about a bit and then screwed the back plate on again and what do you know it is working again.  Cost – nothing.

Mending

I have a flannelette pillowcase we use at the caravan, part of our cosy winter set, and as I was ironing it I noticed a small hole had appeared in the weave.  A small amount of Stayflex (a fabric Vylene) ironed onto the back should stop it getting any bigger and make it last longer. Cost – just my time.

Like most of you we have a lot of electrical items that need maintaining to keep them in good order and working well – it is a task that is very much neglected but one I am going to pay more attention to as it should keep them running longer and in some cases more efficiently and most of all reduce the need to replace.

I made a list of all the things this applies to and will work my way down.  First on the list I gave my iron a good self-clean to flush all the build up of limescale out and stop it landing on my clothes as I iron.  I was surprised how easy it was to do although it took me several goes until the black specks stopped coming out as it must be over 18 months since I did it if not longer.  I also cleaned the stainless steel sole plate with a tube of special cleaner and an old towel (I never have non-stick plates – I always find they do stick!).  So now it gleams and glides and I intend to put it on my monthly task list so it will be a much quicker job next time.

Reduce

Yesterday we took 4 bags of clothes, shoes, and handbags to a local charity shop so my wardrobe is looking so much sleeker now and holds no clothes  that itch or fidget me, do not fit well, do not make me feel good or are well past their best.  I still have my mother of the bride outfits to deal with but other than that it is a great feeling each morning to go to my wardrobe and know that whatever I choose will be things that I want to wear and feel good to wear even my gardening clothes.

I have also made a start on reducing my box of blank card stock.  I had little time this week so only did some quite basic stamping. 

After a bit of playing about with ideas I settled on this cute little bird card using a box of french DJECO stamps my daughter bought me.  I thought about colouring the birds but I quite liked the bold black and white.

I know my friend likes hand-made cards and also anything made of wood.  We only buy small gifts for each other so when I saw this lovely hand carved wooden bookmark in Scotland it was the perfect present.  I added a box of luxury chocolate Raisin and Hazelnut biscuits by Elizabeth Shaw (they were reduced to £1 in Sainsbury’s shhh don’t tell).

Repurpose

This is perhaps a harder challenge than the others finding a new use for something you no longer want but with a bit of sideways thinking it is possible.

I have a set of herb and spice jars with chrome lids that I bought a few years ago from Habitat.  Unfortunately the plastic jar reacts badly with the spices over time (not so much the herbs) and leaves a coating that is like a crust on the inside of the jar that cannot be cleaned off.  So gradually I am replacing them with glass ones from the Sainsbury’s new herb and spices range.

I have had to bin most of the old spice jars but one or two that had herbs in are OK and had been put in the charity pile.  I was looking around the house the other day for a container to hold a few cotton buds that I can leave at the caravan and spotted the empty herb jars on the pile…………result a perfect fit and looks quite stylish. repurpose

A busy week so far but I am getting into a routine at last,  keeping up with the finances and laundry and doing a bit of ‘stuff’ clearing each day.

DH has been making progress on the clear up outside now that the rendering is complete and refreshing the stain on the windows (ours are wooden – environmentally sound but they do need lots of maintenance).

His next task is to dig out and lay new concrete to extend the old concrete base by a couple of feet so that it will accommodate the new longer shed.  This is the side that had all the trouble with water getting in but seems bone dry and water tight now it has been rendered and repointed.

I spent most of the day on Wednesday in the front garden which looks much better – it was rather neglected this year.  The shrubs are a bit on the big side and need a good prune next year but I managed to weed and dig over the borders ready to put in the new bulbs I have bought – but guess what it has rained each day since.

Have a lovely weekend. x