trEAsury ~ simplifying money matters

As autumn is underway now and my world of paid work is but a distant memory I still feel I haven’t settled into any worthwhile routines or daily rhythms.  I suppose they take time to shape and develop, so I am going to give them a bit of a nudge and create some that are a bit more in step with my life now and reflect the simplified life I want to achieve.

You may have noticed over the years that I am hopeless at routines – evidenced by my erratic posts – I plan to do things then get absorbed in something else.

I did have a really good ‘getting to work’ routine – well I did have 19 years of practice – but I don’t need that now (the work routine not the practice of course).  In fact I could be tempted to sneak back to bed in the mornings – but I don’t.   Honest.

Since stopping work I find my mornings are spent doing a bit of this and that, checking emails, reading blog posts, tidying, ironing – but nothing consistent or that could be considered a routine.  I tend to agree with the idea that a good morning routine is the foundation of any successful day as well as starting early – unfortunately, I am no morning person either – so that will be challenging too.

One of the daily routines I am going to tag onto my morning routine, such as it is, will be a daily financial check so that I can keep a close eye on our spending.  As the effects of being on a limited income are now being felt I can vouch for the fact that a single *state pension alone does not go very far and the monthly bills soon eat their way into the bulk of it.  I need to take action so we don’t overspend and start drawing on our retirement fund.  I don’t intend to dip into that unless it is absolutely vital.

I read somewhere that you should take time each day to actively manage your wealth and set aside a further 30 minutes to an hour every week to review your budget and handle the associated paperwork mountain – statements, bills, insurance and utilities.  Now I have the time each day I plan to adopt this daily and weekly routine to help me to keep on track and highlight any areas I think we may be overspending.

I am also determined to simplify the process, it seems to take far too long and perhaps one of the reasons why I often put off doing it or just can’t find the time to sit down and do it.  And so it all builds up and then takes a long time to sort out.  I think little and often would be much better – it is worth a try – so during October this will be one of my main goals.

So, starting today, and first thing every morning I will get into the habit of overviewing my finances for ten minutes, noting the amount of cash at the start of the day and recording the previous day’s receipts and spending.  Each week I will then balance statements, pay bills and check the bank balances.

Well that is the plan and by starting small I might even succeed.  I must admit I quite like a financial challenge – in my teen years I was always good at managing my pocket-money and setting aside enough each week to buy all my relatives a present for Christmas – usually from the Co-op in the village where each year they had a wonderful display of bath salts and embroidered hankies – you know the kind of thing.

I must admit the stack of paperwork on my desk at home waiting for my return is a bit daunting almost as high as my ironing pile was a few weeks ago. I have been very inattentive to our finances since leaving work other than keeping in mind that I shouldn’t be spending as much as I was…on anything.  I should have set up a new budget by now more in keeping with our new income but confess I just haven’t got round to it.

After banging on the calculator for a few hours, adding, subtracting, dividing and multiplying the *state pension I decided is not going to go very far (no overtime available and not much chance of a pay rise!), and annoyingly paid every 4 weeks on a different day each month, so my conclusion is we need to conserve money where we can and be vigilant at recording and monitoring our spending and challenge ourselves to plenty of ‘no spend days’.

Today just happens to have been one of them.  We survived.

*I still can’t quite believe I am talking about a living on a pension (where did all those years go before this point).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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dEAr diary ~ enjoying the slower pace of life

It was sunny and dry for most of the day, the day before yesterday at least while we were in the garden – it has turned out that we picked a good few days after all to visit the cottage.  Thank goodness as there is so much to do in the garden and we are trying to take it slowly and sensibly to avoid an achy back.  I have areas to put to bed but also areas where I want to have a move around – plants that have outgrown their space or would be better in a different location.  When I started in this garden it was a case of getting anything in to cover the ground – well it has done that and more.  Everything here gets a bit oversized because of the mild climate.

I will be doing a garden update soon of our progress – perhaps a few before and after pictures if I can remember to take the ‘befores’!Bramley apples

The windfall apples are outside our gate now waiting for any takers – I am hoping people will come with large bags or big pockets as it would be a shame for them to go to waste.

Tuesday afternoon we had to drive in to town for more provisions and to swap the empty spare gas cylinder.  Living so far from the nearest town (15 miles) it is essential we have a backup in place.  The place we buy the gas is one of those places that sell all kinds of oddments and the guy was selling off bags of branded farmyard manure for the garden at £1 a bag – normally £4.  Bargain – so we bought 3 bags.

All though I never need an excuse to visit a stationery shop I had to buy a birthday card for my older brother (he is 70 at the weekend…blimey!) so I took  the opportunity to have a quick look in W H Smiths for a new notebook at the same time.  I could only find page a day diaries and they are expensive, but on buying the card I was given a voucher for 25% off a 2018-2019 diary.  It doesn’t really matter that the pages are dated I can ignore that if it makes buying a notebook cheaper.   I didn’t go back and buy one – I am taking a moment to think about it.

We stocked up again at the supermarket – all the ‘cheesy’ rolls had gone so we chose crusty baguettes instead and then found we couldn’t buy a small jar of mayonnaise other than in plastic – I prefer a glass jar and anything in a glass jar was the large size.  It can be difficult buying for two so must be virtually impossible for one.  None of the large hand cooked crisps were on offer either – so in the end being frugal we did without.

By tea time the weather had turned unexpectedly cooler with a little drizzle – so far this visit it has been good gardening weather, but that could all change overnight as I suspect it could easily become much colder.  I have noticed that over the last week the trees and hedges are all turning brown along the shore road where they face some quite strong winds.

We were glad to get back into the car to warm up and on the way back to the cottage we had a slight detour round to Portpatrick, a little harbour village that faces out into the Irish sea, just to sit and look out to sea for a while.  The wind had got a little stronger by now causing a big swell to the incoming tide; I love to see the frothy white waves rolling in and sending up a dramatic spray into the air as they crash against the rocks. Standing at this point to take a photo of the sea can be a bit treacherous – It is a really windy spot and the water on the floor is from the sea spray coming over the top of the large rocks on the left and at high tide can easily sweep you into the sea.  So I didn’t linger! Round the little harbour the Council have put a string of lights which are quite pretty – Portpatrick  is a well visited tourist place and a lot of money goes into its upkeep – much more than our little village where the council seem to only spend the bare minimum.

Yesterday (Wednesday) it was very overcast in the morning and we ached from too much gardening the day before (and old age of course) so feeling a bit rickety we allowed ourselves a day off to recover.  I quickly made some sandwiches with the crusty baguettes; filled with crumbly cheese and a dollop of chutney, added a small container of salad – no crisps or mayonnaise of course – a piece of sultana cake and a flask of hot chocolate.  Then we headed off round the bay to the Machars to the Wigtown Book Festival.

This is the best part of not having to go to work you get to decide what you want to do and when and you can make those snap decisions to just go out.

I will update you with photos from the event later. x

 

 

 

dEAr diary ~ thoughts on planning

Life goes more slowly down here on the Mull; lots of time to ponder, reflect and make plans that I don’t often allow myself at home.

I feel the year is slipping away quickly now and I am conscious of that ‘big’ event, which we don’t mention just yet, looming on the horizon and I need to make some tentative plans sooner rather than later.Last November I bought myself a gorgeous pale pink and gold leather look notebook from W H Smiths to record my monthly intentions – these are ideas of what I want to do (and sometimes must do) during the coming month in the various aspects of my life – home, self, outings etc.  I have mentioned this before in a previous post and you can read my monthly intentions by clicking on the fEAsible intentions category in the sidebar. I also make a list of thirty or thirty-one simple tasks that I can complete during the month (basically one a day) and tick them off as I go. It is also a place where I capture my thoughts, record notes and ideas, jot down website addresses or telephone numbers and stick in clippings of anything that grabs my attention – new finds and discoveries, seasonal looks, a new product, a book to read or a recipe idea – just about anything I want to make a note of – it has become a bit of a jumbled catchall but I actually feel it works well for me and keeps all of those bits and pieces in one place.

At the moment my pages for September are full of Autumn colours and ideas and quite a few notes and lists with regards to my ongoing decluttering project.

But I need somewhere to start capturing ideas I have for Christmas well before I get to December and last year I found this notebook a bit limiting in space to contain everything I wanted to make a note of for the Christmas period.  So I have decided I will buy a new notebook and dedicate it solely for this purpose.

I have this bizarre notion that by planning well ahead in my notebook I will make Christmas a simple fuss free affair this year – cosy nights by the fire in soft candlelight, sipping a glass of mulled wine and savouring a ‘just baked’ mince pie whilst watching Little Women and writing my homemade Christmas cards (in good time); the gifts all wrapped neatly in hand printed paper with exquisite handmade tags, a simple wreath hanging on the door and fairy lights outside twinkling in the tree.  Everything will be as peaceful as the season suggests.

I live in hope!

Already I have ideas to make my own Christmas cards again this year and some gifts for my friends but I need to start soon to have them made in time.Lino cutIn previous years I have tried different methods and used various materials but I really enjoyed doing the lino cut – this was my first attempt back in 2013.  Lino cuts are good for printing in bulk (I need about 75 cards) and I have a good stock of card blanks and envelopes that would be good to use up.

Yesterday we drove up to the Cowal Peninsula in the south of Argyll and Bute to visit the Open Studios around Dunoon.  It is one of my favourite places – the approaching view from the ferry is breathtaking and we had a wonderful day, mainly dry and sunny which always helps.  A delicious lunch was kindly provided by Freda, my blogging friend from Live Simply, Simply Live, who lives close by.  We ate in a sheltered spot in her beautiful garden and had a general chat and catch up before saying goodbye to go on the studio trail.  Time was quite short but we managed to see two potters, a wood-carver and a lady who did lino cut pictures.

I bought a lovely little pot to remind me of our visit (no doubt I will be putting a picture on soon) and seeing all the work of these talented craftsmen has certainly inspired me to do more myself, especially having a go at more lino cuts.

In the meantime until we go home you will find me wrestling with the weeds in the garden here. x

 

sEAsons ~ Autumn it is then

Cow ParsleyThe Autumn Equinox is official this weekend – I was really sorry to see summer go but I have to admit it has felt so much more like autumn these past few days than it has at this time in previous years.The weather has been so unpredictable – one minute sunshine, the next rain interspersed with anything from a light breeze to a howling gale.  In the calmer moments I have been out and about capturing the hedgerows turning I love the varied mix of vibrant green and red at this time of year, the colours echo those of Christmas.Virginia Creeper Before we left for Scotland I had already switched over to my warmer clothes and these last few days I have been snuggled up in my Parker and woolly hat before venturing our for an evening stroll down to the village and back – well more of a brisk walk really as there is rather a bite in the evening air and a shrill wind blowing off the sea – so we have not lingered – tonight we took the torch with us too as it was dark quite early.Rosa RugosaI did not go in the garden at all today, DH finished the ‘winterising’ of the caravan and then the garage door and I sat inside attending to our finances.  I had a heap of receipts to log, statements to balance and a new budget to set- after all this is not a holiday I still have chores to do!

We have been making more and more cooked evening meals too recently – curries, Cauliflower and Broccoli bakes, nut roasts and baked potatoes – always my favourite – and salads have now been reduced to lunchtime only.FernI was amazed at the colour still in the garden here in Scotland – the pictures were taken yesterday –  but then we are in the Gulf Stream and many of the plants are quite sheltered.

The Valerian – still protected with netting from being eaten by the pesky bunnies are doing well.  This was the tray of plants given to me by Elizabeth MacGregor when we visited her nursery in Kirkudbright at the end of the season last year.  Having such a large garden you have to think of planting in threes or fives to get a good swathe of colour and mass so a whole tray full of around twenty plants was wonderful – an instant garden – thank you Elizabeth!

ValerianThe Chamomile self seeds all over but it is very welcome here on the seaside garden.Chamomile

LavenderThis Fuchsia and Lavender were both one of those cheap plants from Morrison’s – I bought them to fill a bit of a gap in the border when the other shrubs were small and newly planted. They definitely like it here. FuschiaI am not even sure where this white Agapanthus came from I don’t remember buying one but it has sneaked into the border under the Viburnum.White Agapanthus The trailing Nasturtiums flower well into November and are a lovely burst of colour on a grey day.Nasturtium The wild Fuchsia by the pond still providing a little colour now all the summer flowers are over.Wild FuschiaBelow is my dad’s hydrangea taken from his garden after he died – it stands majestically in a central position on the edge of the lower woodland walk. Hydrangea And lastly the Bramley apples – they have been abundant this year and much rosier now than when we picked some on our last visit.  So many windfalls – …we have been giving them away and will probably put some outside our gates for the walkers to take. Bramley ApplesDo help yourself!

 

 

bEAching ~ calm after the storm

Welcome to my new followers – it is lovely to have you on board – I hope you enjoy the journey.

We are at the cottage in Scotland now for a few days (for anyone who is new to my blog – you need to read the story of the flood under the tab Beach Cottage and when I say at the cottage for cottage read caravan)

On Tuesday DH and I met with friends of mine who happened to be on holiday up here and had lunch together at Castle Kennedy Gardens in the revamped tea rooms, one of my most favourite places – so loved by my family that my daughter held her wedding there in 2016.

After a lovely meal and a good old natter we said our goodbyes to my friends and popped down the road into Stranraer for a bit of shopping – when I say shopping we actually bought a bottle of gas for the caravan and a few groceries – nothing more exciting.

It was still quite mild and quite calm so we decided to have a walk on by the harbour, through Agnew Park and out on the Broadstones Road – which runs along the side of Loch Ryan.  This is a short stretch of some rather lovely big old houses with well-kept gardens and a view across the bay. There is often a lot of ‘remodelling’ going on as places change hands and I do love to have a bit of a nosy!Loch Ryan Everything is beginning to feel cooler and a bit grey as you can see from the photos – but I actually quite like this as it makes it quite atmospheric.Beach findsIt was good to be out, strolling along on the shore spotting bits of coloured glass and other things –is this is the new message in a bottle – message on a mobile?Broadstones

Broadstones

On the way back to the car the heavens opened and we had to make a run for it –  but it was nice while it lasted.

Wednesday was a bit wilder – I was expecting worse – we had battened down the hatches ready for the forecasted storm.   It was certainly blustery here on the Mull of Galloway and the sea very choppy, and although the caravan rocked a bit it was not as bad as the rest of the county – some places across the bay had no power and quite a bit of damage.

By the afternoon it had calmed down enough for DH to go outside and make a start on washing down the caravan ready for the winter – I believe it is called ‘winterising’  I even did half an hour weeding in one of the borders when the rain suddenly came lashing down and the wind picked up once again.

Then as quickly as it came it settled again and after tea we even managed a brisk walk – all togged up in my fleece lined Parker, woolly hat and a scarf and by choosing the more sheltered path to the village down the low road we kept relatively warm.  As you might expect the place was deserted – I expect most of the villagers were keeping snug and warm inside (very sensible).  Once back at the caravan I had a nice mug of hot tea and some ginger cake.

Today we were back to calm, very calm; the sea had hardly a wave and nothing stirring in the garden. We drove into Stranraer with a trailer full to the brim with bags of weeds from our last visit to take to the tip.  I also took a box of bits and bobs from my recent decluttering to the local Red Cross charity shop, bought some fresh rolls and milk and the Stranraer Free Press (to get the local news) then came home for lunch.  I have acquired a taste for Tesco’s fresh Cheesey rolls which we had with salad inside and I also bought one of their boxes of 5 assorted mini Danish pastries – five being an odd number for two of us we have to share the last one, or fight over it!

After lunch DH was back to washing  another side of the caravan and I started on the weeding again – pulling out a million tiny seedlings (I exaggerate not!) that have taken root since our last visit – but only after going down to the beach to take a few more photos. Luce Bay SeawedDriftwoodI can hear rain again now outside as I write this – who knows what we will wake up to tomorrow.  Just in case I cannot go out in the garden I have brought one or two projects with me to be getting on with.

Have a good day x

 

mEAndering ~ out and about on Heritage Weekend

After a few days of sickness I felt well enough to venture out again the weekend before last so we headed off into Derbyshire on the Heritage trail.  I love being able to access places that are not usually open to the general public it is a rare treat and who knows what you might find – it is like opening a lucky bag.

We decided on the Chapel of St John the Baptist at Matlock Dale, built in 1897  of the Arts and Crafts style; designed by the architect Sir Guy Dawber for Mrs Louisa Sophia Harris, the lady of the adjacent large house, as her private chapel.

The Chapel sits high above the dale at Artists Corner – there is no parking on the hillside other than for residents – walking is the only option.  So it was a case of follow the double yellow lined road up quite a steep, windy hill but believe me it is the best way to approach this magnificent building.

On the way we passed the large house that once belonged to Mrs Harris named The Rock – it now has its own private post box at the entrance – for incoming mail I presume!

Just a little further along the lane the spectacular Chapel suddenly comes into sight – towering above us – it may be small but it certainly has a presence.

St John the Baptist Matlock Dale

The Chapel is built upon a rocky terrace above a well so that the sheer natural rock face and man-made building merge together as one.  Surrounded by woodland, which ensures its secrecy, and clothed with trailing ivy, moss and wild flowers it is the most magical, romantic place ever with an air of quiet calm broken only by intermitent birdsong.

You enter the walkway through some very grand gates – almost out of scale with the tiny chapel.

St John the Baptist Matlock Dale

The plaque on the wall by the gate has been placed there by ‘The Friends of the Friendless Churches’ (doesn’t that name tug at the heart strings?), a charity taking on such places to stop them going to rack and ruin. They are now restoring the chapel bit by bit and lovingly care for it once again – I had never heard of this charity before but they are doing such good works up and down the country and it is to their credit that this chapel is being so beautifully restored and might even hold a  few special services again sometime in the near future.

St John the Baptist Matlock Dale

And finally through the gate the first glimpse of the chapel – such a beautiful little building – simple in its design – but intricate in detail – it did not disappoint.

The entrance is protected by a cloister that turns around one side of the chapel with wooden tiles on the roof…

…and candles carved into the stone on either side of the doorways.

Once inside, although a high church intended for Anglo- Catholic worship, it retains a simplistic, cosy feel  – everything has been lovingly crafted from the handmade bricks to the stain glass in the windows.  Mrs Harris had certainly not spared any money on this chapel it is a sheer work of art and she obviously could afford to commission work from the best artists and craftsmen at that time.

At the far end opposite the entrance you look directly upon the magnificent stained glass window designed by Louis Davies.  The panelling around the altar, recently uncovered and restored, has the distinctive Arts and Crafts design and colours.

The whole place has a lovely balance of the ornate and the simple.

The crystal chandeliers were specially commissioned by Mrs Harris and are quite elaborate but this kind of ‘showiness’ would not have normally been thought suitable in a public place of worship.

The soft orange coloured bricks are handmade giving a rustic feel to the place – the plaque with the beautiful Art Nouveau typeface is to commemorate Louisa Harris.

The windowsill in the vestry captures a behind the scenes moment – a bag of crisps, some old lightbulbs, a few candles and the cross.

If you want to read more about this gem just Google St John the Baptist Chapel, Matlock Dale.

After leaving the chapel we noticed a sign on the track opposite saying ‘teas’  and went to explore.  We followed the driveway down for about 50 yards to a clearing in the wood where a little stone cottage suddenly appears with tables and log stools laid out in the garden.

The Cottage Tea Garden

The Cottage Tea Garden is so hidden away from view – can only be accessed on foot and is only open during the summer months and warm winter days as it is an outdoor café but it is absolutely delightful and I cannot recommend it enough should you ever be passing.

The Cottage Tea Garden

So we did – and the owner pops out of her cottage door below like a cheery weather man.

The Cottage Tea Garden

She served us with a cream tea for me (homemade scone and strawberry jam), coffee and apricot and coconut flapjack for DH.   One slight hiccup was that we hardly ever carry any cash and the owner cannot take cards so we had to dig deep into our pockets and have a count up of our pennies before we ordered but this is something she is evidently used to and told us often moms and dads have been known to borrow their children’s pocket money to pay her!

A delightful afternoon. x

 

 

fEAsting ~ easy meals

Apologies for the short interlude I have been unwell and the sight of food did not make me feel better!

I had prepared this post before my brief indisposition so it is a shame to waste the photos!

Above is my vegetarian sandwich using up the Halloumi cheese from the fridge.  Spread the panini with mashed avocado then add shredded little gem lettuce, cucumber and halved cherry tomatoes, top with grilled or griddled Halloumi. Delicious.

My courgettes have done remarkably well this year despite the neglect.

Courgette plant

Home grown courgettes

Fresh from the plant they make a wonderful Courgette Bake – cut the courgettes in half lengthways and place into a pan of  lightly salted boiling water for 2-3 minutes just to soften.  Lift out and drain then place in a baking dish to form a base with the centres facing upwards.

Mix together the following:- a few sautéed mushrooms and spring onion, halved cherry tomatoes or chopped large ones, grated cheese, wholemeal breadcrumbs and a sprinkling of chopped chives, salt and pepper.  Bind the mixture with a beaten egg.  Spoon on top of the courgettes and place foil over the dish for the first 15 minutes in the oven at 180C.  Remove the foil and further cook until golden brown reducing the temperature a little if necessary.

Serve immediatley with boiled new potatoes and a mixed salad.

Voila!

Enjoy x

sEAsons ~ counting down…already?

This landed on my door mat yesterday…

Really??

I am not even ready for autumn yet – I was still enjoying summer.

– well Mr Sainsbury I know you mean well and you want us to get ahead and you might well be counting down to Christmas but not here in my house – not just yet – try again in November.

I find this is consumerism at its worst – I am sure a lot of us keep having thoughts of Christmas; who will be where with whom, what gifts or cards might I make – some of you may even have those underway or have a cupboard stocked ready with gifts and cards from last years sales.

I have noticed Christmas cards on display in the shops since the end of July – there will be more things creeping in day by day now as the shops fight to get in there first and increase their yearly profits.  It seems that the start of the new school term is the signal to roll out anything Christmas with a gap in between for the Halloween merchandise.

When I was young my dad used to bring the Christmas tree home with him after work on Christmas Eve together with a couple of new china dishes specially for my mum from the local market.  We would have tea and then decorate it before bed.  Of course the decorations were fewer than we would have these days and we had already put up some homemade paper chains and those pretty expanding concertina cut tissue paper decorations that were strung from corner to corner across the room (I can’t even remember what they were called but someone may know).  Christmas then was much more contained – now it seems to sprawl across many weeks and months, making it a very watered down occasion for me to the point when sometimes I just want it all over with.

We all have to plan ahead these days and there are many preparations that we might be doing quietly at home but I really don’t want this time from September to December to become the ‘Christmas season’ when there is so much to see and do in autumn first.

Please can we not slow down a bit!

I would be interested to know your thoughts.

 

 

clEAn and lEAn ~ thoughts on decluttering

In the book by Francine Jay called ‘The Joy of Less’ she quotes Mahatma Gandhi as saying ‘Live simply, so that others may simply live’.

I am on a mission to live simply, I feel weighed down by our stuff and consumerism but attaining simplicity is simply not that easy.  At the moment I am evaluating our lifestyle, the contents of our home and the way we accumulate and use stuff.  I need to reduce our possessions but at the same time I hate waste.  Throwing out ‘stuff’ (by which I mean disposing of it responsibly of course and not putting it in the bin) that was once bought with our hard-earned cash seems a bit wasteful but holding on to it seems worse and if I don’t feel we need it now why did we buy it in the first place.

I spent a whole day at the weekend in the kitchen and dining room continuing with the major clear out and rearrangement of my cupboards. The main aim of this clear out is to create space and make it easier to reach the items we use all the time and getting rid of anything that we have little use for.  As Francine Jay suggests deciding what to keep is far easier than deciding what to throw away.

So with everything out on the counter tops one by one I began choosing the easy stuff – the everyday and the most used.

For a number of years now we generally haven’t kept things for best.  My mum has some beautiful china and many sets of cutlery (coming from Sheffield) all packed away and she still uses the two old plates (bought from the Sheffield market many moons ago) and oddments of cutlery that she has used everyday since I was little.  She is 92 now and I doubt she will ever use her best stuff.  I decided long ago that I wouldn’t have anything put away for best as I wanted to use nice things everyday and I do.

Ainsley Albany china

So I have no need to store ‘best’ things having said that I do have a pretty china dinner service – Ainsley’s Albany – (pictured above) that we collected over many years and used everyday for many years.  I do still use it at Christmas and would never part with it but it is the only thing you might call ‘best’ ware.  We mainly use the white Thomas tableware now to keep things simple and easily replaceable.

I have a few special items, the ones that you keep because they are beautiful or hold memories and they have earned a place in my cabinet but even most of these are used from time to time.

The new addition – the mug with Miss V was a leaving present from one of my colleagues – every morning for almost 19 years we would greet each other with ‘morning miss T’ and she would reply’ morning miss V’.  The mug is a wonderful reminder of our friendship.

Once the everyday, the special and the beautiful had been selected I came to the heap of ‘extra’ dishes – I am sure we all have them – the ones kept for entertaining purposes – parties, Christmas and the like – and these posed much more of a problem.   They require a lot of storage for very little use.

Although only two of us at home now we have to allow for enough dishes to cook and eat when our immediate family get together (now 7 of us and soon to be 8).  We also entertain with our larger group of friends a few times over the course of a year.  This means we have a quite a few ‘entertaining’ items;  larger serving bowls, extra plates, dip dishes, cheese boards – you name it we probably have it.

I pondered long and hard as to what I should do – a minimalist surely doesn’t have this amount of dishes stored in their cupboards.  And then I came across the wise words of Joshua Becker, author of The More of Less who it would seem had the same problem.  He realised that the minimalist life held by some people who only have two plates, two cups etc did not fit with his.  This group of people have different values and purpose.  Identifying our own values is the key; to own just the amount of things you need. Becker enjoys having people round – they belong to many different groups and they like getting together with family, friends and neighbours.

Lightbulb moment.

I enjoy entertaining and gatherings – I like cosy suppers with my friends and hosting New Year and Burn’s night – I hate paper plates and plastic cutlery unless forced to if we have a big party – so I reckon as this adds value to my life at the moment it is OK for my extra tableware to stay – but only as long as it remains useful and I do not add to it… Ever.

After some rearrangements and removal of certain items no longer required I am quite pleased with the final result.  My intention was to make everything that is most used accessible so I have tried not to stack the different sized plates on top of one another.

China cupboard

This did mean spreading out a bit more and to do this I removed the cookery books from these two shelves to create space for the less used white dishes, the table mats and my beautiful Finish red enamel bowl bought in the sixties.

I am loving the feeling of space already and the fact that everything is so much more accessible.  I have no doubt we could live with a lot less but at the moment this is our ‘right amount’ as far as dishes are concerned, a good balance of useful and beautiful.  I have chosen carefully and everything has had to have a reason to stay so I think there will be very little to declutter in future unless our circumstances change.

One minor problem now though – where do I put all the cookery books?

 

fEAsible ~ plans for September

September is upon us already and I think like most people who have made comments on this and other blogs I am not ready to give summer up just yet and so my autumn will not start until 23rd September in line with the astronomical calendar!

The weather is still warm and sunny here – not the stifling heat we had earlier but quite a pleasant warmth.  Still pleasant enough for picnics and eating outdoors; still pleasant enough to take an evening stroll, and just right for foraging in the hedgerows.

The evenings are certainly cooler though – I keep reaching for a cosy throw whilst I am sitting watching TV rather than turning the fire on to take off the chill.  In my notebook I have been planning September – all our commitments have come to an end; school starts on Tuesday and my mum has returned home…September is all mine.

Like at the beginning of the year I am turning my intentions once again to the home  – some of my good intentions and routines have been abandoned during the carefree summer months and the house is looking a bit neglected.  Cooking, cleaning and neatening always feels deeply satisfying to me and September is the perfect month to begin again –  preparing the home and garden for the coming winter months and getting back into a routine – albeit for me it will be a new routine now I no longer working.

Recently I have been having a serious clear out in my kitchen and dining room.  I began with the food and then moved on to the crockery, pans and all the oddments that are held in the drawers and at the back of the cupboards.  It is not an easy task.  Decisions have to be made. But space is created.

I find that once I have been over everything it is good to go back again and I will often find more items to discard.

So for as long as the weather holds I have many plans for September…

mEAndering

Stillingfleet, Hartington and Glazebury all have gardens or well dressing events.  There is also Heritage Open Days on 13th to 16th September.  So much to choose from.  We will certainly be having a few days out.

A trip to Scotland to our cottage

homestEAd

 buy a new shed and erect

reinstate the compost bins

source a new front door

source a new garage door

hire a contractor to renew the driveway

revamp the front garden

nEAtening

the kitchen cupboards – continuing the decluttering and simplifying

crEAting

outdoor sketching and card making

fEAsting

meal planning for late summer early autumn meals

baking with my homegrown apples

rEAding

I have an extensive library of books by my bed and I intend to read more on the subject of simplifying and living with less.

trEAsury

looking at our new reduced budget to make ends meet

So that seems plenty to be going on with – I will be back with pictures of my declutter- it is very much an ongoing project at the moment.