dEAr diary ~ just in time

This is a day of celebration – we have finally finished the decorating at our  elder daughter’s house, the new fireplace has been installed and the carpets were laid yesterday on the stairs and in the living room – it all looks wonderful – clean and bright and ready just in time for her new baby coming (due date the end of January).

A close call though.

DH and I are relaxing today after our marathon and catching up with a few household jobs ourselves.  I feel we can now concentrate on getting our new kitchen chosen, ordered and installed and fitting out the pantry which we will do ourselves.  It has been a long time coming and I just hope that nothing happens to delay our progress this time as we first started the whole new kitchen thing back in 2008 and since then it has been one crisis or drama after another that has meant our kitchen has had to be put on the back burner.   I have got to the point where I dare hardly mention the words ‘new kitchen‘ as I don’t wish to tempt fate.This room currently known as the dumping ground will be our new pantry – it is the old downstairs cloakroom and toilet which we never used very much – we have only capped off the drains and water supply not removed them entirely so it could be turned back at some time in the future.  As you can see not a pretty sight – though some of these boxes are actually my daughter’s belongings and some items can go back into the new shed.  Thank goodness I have been able to just shut the door on all this – but now I have the chance to get it sorted – starting tomorrow.  Maybe.

This morning I washed some of my daughter’s throws that I brought home with me to lessen her load and got them out on the line.   She is washing her baby clothes to prepare them which is much more exciting so  I also volunteered to wash all the dust sheets for her but they will have to wait for a dry windy day.

For lunch I made another batch of tomato soup and for tea we had an old favourite using leeks – Cheesy Leek ramekins (which will do two meals) and tonight will be served with a winter salad.   It is so much easier having a menu plan and I find this way we have far less waste and don’t over buy with the shopping.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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dEAr diary ~ has Elton saved John Lewis?

Their sales increased over the Christmas period according to the latest news.

Although I do like to shop at John Lewis if I can afford to sadly it wasn’t down to me;  but I am pleased this might mean they will not go under – not yet anyway.

Meanwhile Debenhams and M&S are still struggling with decreased sales.

If in fact Elton has been instrumental in helping John Lewis through a bad patch perhaps someone might persuade him to take over the Brexit talks after all we don’t seem to be getting anywhere with them at the moment.

A lady interviewed on the lunchtime news (from Barclaycard I think) said that they were looking at how they can get customer confidence back to spend more on the high street by introducing memorable ‘instagram’ moments through experiences whilst shopping.  As an example she said such things as free coffees and Yoga mornings.  I smiled thinking of my aging mum doing Yoga whilst shopping and then perhaps taking a selfie – not that she isn’t active still but I think when she needs a new dress she might just want to go and choose one without having to contort herself in the process!

I wonder too at the necessity to make the whole of life an instagram moment.

I don’t often mention the news but I am feeling more and more concerned over the things that I am hearing and the messages we are receiving through the media.   Maybe the reason sales are down is just that people don’t want to buy so much stuff any longer or perhaps don’t have the means to keep on spending with prices rising on food and the basic essentials.

We seem to have got into a catch 22 situation now where we have to keep spending to keep everyone in a job. That is quite a burden for me as I don’t actually want to keep buying stuff any more – nor do I want to buy into these ‘experiences’ either – I can find my own by just having a walk along the seashore or a picnic in the country.

It has seemed quite strange not going back to work after Christmas but it is nice to have more time now to plan out the year ahead and set new goals. I will get back to chatting about my progress tomorrow. x

dEAr diary ~ the importance of friends

After a very late night again last night – 2.30am when we got to bed this time – I am struggling today to get my act together as it were.  It has been another busy few days preparing the house and food for our friends (some neighbours up the road) coming, but all worthwhile as we had a very pleasant and relaxed evening just chatting, eating and laughing round the table.  I decided on buffet type food instead of a formal meal but eaten at the table rather than balancing a plate on our knees  –  things to nibble at, a selection of Quiche and sausage rolls etc. a green salad, some pots of couscous and coleslaw,  a few tiny baked potatoes and a cheese board.

Isn’t this what life is all about – connecting with people, enjoying each other’s company and eating together.

When we bought the food and drink for last night I did try to be quite prudent and not over buy.  Had our friends been vegetarian or even had a liking for vegetarian food it would have made things simpler and cheaper but they are traditional meat eaters and one of them does not eat fruit and the other no nuts or salad and more recently pastry – we only found out about the pastry when they sat down to eat – a bit tricky as I had bought pork pies, sausage rolls and Quiche as they always seem to go down well.  Our friend ate the fillings and left the crusts which solved the problem!  The left over meat products have now gone up to my daughters for SIL’s lunch at work tomorrow.

Anyway my main point about the food and drink is to say that I find the state pension does not really stretch to entertaining or buying alcohol so in future I need to think ahead and buy the drink in a bit at a time.  Catering for all the varied tastes now is a bit of a headache when you ask guests ‘what would you like to drink’ we have requests for Prosecco, Gin, rosé wine, Peroni and craft beers in addition to the usual red and white wine and lager – to stock everything is going to prove too difficult with less income especially when a mixer is required like tonic or lemonade as we don’t drink them ourselves and they have often gone flat by the next event.

As well as a good evening it meant we had leftovers to eat today – bits of Quiche and spinach parcels, salads and leaves so we packaged them up added some bread and hey presto we had a picnic to take out with us accompanied by a flask of hot chocolate.

We headed for a local garden centre to choose a birthday gift for another friend.  Had I been well organised I would have bought this before Christmas and not at the last-minute.  But I was not on this occasion.

However, we did take advantage of the sale items and as well as a lovely mosaic outdoor table light for my friend I bought two half price items – a solar light for hanging on my outdoor cherry tree (so it doesn’t look too bare outside now the Christmas lights are over) and DH got some secateurs (you can never have too many when you have two gardens to upkeep!).

Our dining room and kitchen has been the hub of many  get togethers over the years with friends and family and for all our daughter’s parties as they grew up. I have so many happy memories connected with this room – it may be battered and old now but the joy and laughter still seems to linger in the atmosphere and in some ways I am loath to decorate in here in case I lose that but we do need to give it a fresh new look.

I have been holding a Burn’s night celebration with a group of friends over the years but this year we may have started on the kitchen renovations by then and I am not sure we can afford to host it; even though Haggis, turnip and spuds are fairly cheap foods my friends have hearty appetites.

During January I aim to review all those important things in life-like health, diet and finances to see what is working for us and what is not.   This week I will be reviewing the finances and will find out just how we have done over the past year spending wise and look at what areas need a bit more attention to cut down any wasteful and unnecessary spending.

Have a good week everyone and thank you to all those who took the time to make themselves known with a little comment on my blogday post – it is much appreciated. x

 

 

 

dEAr diary ~ ‘happy blogday to me’

It is 7 years today since I did my first blog post in 2012 on my previous blog ‘where the journey takes me’ – I have had a wonderful time, gained many new blog friends and read a lot of interesting ideas – it has been an exciting journey so far and long may it continue.

A big thank you to all those who have journeyed along with me – your company has been much appreciated as have your comments.  I would love to hear from anyone who reads but doesn’t normally comment – just a quick hello would be great.

Over the Christmas period I have thought long and hard about my focus for 2019 and one word I keep coming back to is that of

Transition

It fits well with my present circumstances since I am no longer in paid work, probably retired but maybe not just yet – everything in abeyance.

I looked it up on Google…

Transition – the process of changing, or a change from one form or condition to another:   from transire ‘go across’.

Synonyms – change, move, passage, transformation, conversion, adaptation, adjustment, alteration, changeover, metamorphosisshift, switch, jump, leap, progression, progress, gradation, development, evolution;

Lots of alterations and adjustments to make and with any luck a complete transformation by the end of 2019.

We have friends coming tomorrow evening so I need to make the house presentable – I have been working on it most of the week.  The Christmas decorations are down, the windows have been flung open to let the fresh air of the New Year in and even the duvet spent the morning outside on the line to freshen up before putting on clean bed linen.  My positivity at the moment is encouraging and I am ready to begin.

Presently I am still at the planning stage and January is the ideal month for this.  As we have plenty of major projects either on the go or on the master list that need to be co-ordinated it will be a question of fitting everything in.  Some of the top priorities are the decorating, installing a new kitchen and completing a few outside jobs once the weather is on the turn.   Added to which we need to sort the cottage out it has been a dormant project too long now.   And on the domestic front I need a new spending and saving plan, an exercise regime and of course lots of healthy eating wouldn’t go amiss…and when I have time a bit of crafting, reading and relaxing.

As my blog was always intended as a diary for myself to look back on my starting point for this year will be to review and reflect on last year and see what worked and what didn’t.

Did my focus word of the ‘Power of small’ work for me?….all will be revealed.

Back soon x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dEAr diary ~ a happy new year

2019Hello everyone and a Happy New Year to all my followers and readers.

I just thought I would drop by for a few minutes whilst there is calm once more.  It is so quiet here today I feel the house is fast asleep – recovering from the busyness of the last few weeks.

We spent Christmas Eve delivering gifts to friends and then had an unexpected visit from my elder daughter and SIL in the evening.  Unintentionally, we were late to bed and then quite late up on Christmas morning – this did not matter though as DH and I spent Christmas day on our own, through choice, as we did not relish a further trek up to North Yorkshire after having been up there on the Sunday before for the family party, and both our daughters were spending Christmas with their respective in-laws.

It was the first time ever we have been completely alone on Christmas Day but I actually enjoyed it.  We had no deadlines to meet for meals, no one to entertain and it was a chance to take advantage of the quiet time after a busy month and a busy year.  In fact I will make sure we have a day like this every year – perhaps not on Christmas Day but maybe at some point over Christmas.  Of course it is much easier to plan a day of doing nothing when everyone else is occupied.Christmas Tree

I had some lovely gifts from my friends and vouchers for John Lewis from our Secret Santa.  Perfect.  Here are a few of my favourite.These delicate handmade wire snowdrops… a little felted bird… a stack of hand made soaps and some pot pourri… two printed mugs on a matching little tray.

Last night we spent the evening with some of our dearest friends, feasting, laughing and playing games  – a wonderful way to see the new year in.

So now we are in 2019 already looking back on 2018, which for me was quite a mixed year; we started the year in January with the sad loss of 3 family members and then a few months later celebrated the marriage of one and the birth of another.  So like many other families it is always in a continuous state of ebb and flow.

During the last few days I have been planning and plotting and also pondering on a new focus word… but at the point of writing this has not revealed itself to me yet; but I am not in any particular hurry.  My focus word last year was  The Power of Small and indeed I did make small adjustments to various aspects of my life which then produced some major and unexpected changes – the most notable being leaving my job and the security that brings.

I always love this month of January it never feels bleak to me – I am eager to set new goals, think about new challenges and looking forward to what the new year may bring, even those little unexpected surprises.  Of course I want it to be all good things but I know that will never be the case – I only hope that the inevitable problems when they come are not insurmountable or too traumatic that I will not be able to cope.

But for now all around me is good – my friends and family are all relatively well, we have a warm home plenty of food and I am feeling quite blessed.

A good start to the year so far.

 

 

 

dEAr diary…upsetting news

Updated post* see below

We have arrived at our little cottage in South West Scotland to find there has been a massive police, air and Coastguard hunt on today to find a missing couple who live in the village.  Their car was found at 7.30am this morning swept up on the beach along the coast road just down the road from us which had been closed yesterday.  The couple had two dogs with them as well.

How lucky were we that we chose to come up today instead of our original plan to come up yesterday – that couple might have been us.  It is a treacherous road coming into the village the sea was battering the coast with 30 foot high waves and the road was closed not only because of flooding but the sea throws up quite large rocks with it – it is known locally as the ‘Car Wash’ but it is no joke and at its worst it can kill.

Our neighbour on the little caravan site has lost a chunk of land again – the sea has moved some huge rocks around that were holding back the banking  – it is frighteningly powerful.

For the moment it is quite calm here – I hope it stays like this and I pray the couple will be found safe but it is looking like they may have been swept out to sea.

*Update

We woke this morning to calm…at least down here in the dip near the sea – it is still blustery on the road above us as we were to find out soon enough on our walk into the village.The incident with the missing couple happened around the other side of this bit of headland, to the left of the photo, in the next bay to us at Kilstay. The hill blocks our view so we cannot see this part of the beach but there was plenty of activity this morning – we watched the coastguard police from our window walking the beach below us here at low tide looking for any evidence that might give them clues.  They came into our garden to check our burn that runs down to the sea in case anything had washed up there. (Of course we had already checked ourselves and also looked in the wood just in case).

All the local lifeboats were here including the one from the Isle of Man and across from Port William, and we had helicopters circling for a while.  All has gone quiet again now but as far as I know nothing was found and as each hour passes it is looking less likely the couple will be found safe and well.      A chilling thought.

Whilst it was such a sunny start we took the opportunity to walk to the village – of course we could not go along the beach so took the main road into the village which runs above us… it was a freezing wind up on top so we decided to turn off when we got to the point where the low road joins and is now a car free footpath only and drops down to run alongside the beach and is quite sheltered.The low road is now famous for the collection of painted stones that appear overnight and can be found dotted in and amongst the hedgerow along the edge of the path.  Such treasures…rumour has it the fairies are responsible for them.

Eventually the path meets the end of  a little row of cottages known as Shore Street and this leads to one of the 3 pubs in this tiny village.We bought a paper, some fresh morning rolls and a box of chocolate teacakes from the village shop, then drew out some cash from the Post Office counter which is now in the same tiny shop but two steps to the left.  We checked the local noticeboard for upcoming events – noted that the Stranraer lights are to be switched on tomorrow in town after the parade headed up by 3 Wise Men on camels (really? – I must see this!), then briskly walked back to our cottage following our footsteps in reverse – no way were we going to attempt to walk along the high road today.

As I write this update sitting snuggly in our caravan with the heat blasting away drinking a hot cup of tea and munching on chocolate teacakes we have suddenly been plunged into dark skies and icy lashing rain.

 

 

dEAr diary…a bit of a ‘Crisis’

LemonsHonestyBird FeederA really pleasant day today, the sun was shining, which is always encouraging, and I was looking forward to the Crisis at Christmas coffee morning at our local church to see all those friends from the village that I don’t see often enough.

I arrived early to avoid the crush and have a good look at the stalls – plants, home baking, pots of jams and chutney, books, crafts, cards, bric a brac and the customary Tombola.  There was a good turnout; plenty of hustle and bustle so I would think that they will raise well over the £3000 they reached last year for Crisis (Crisis is a charitable organisation who help the homeless to rebuild their lives and also provide a dinner and shelter at Christmas).  My selection bags had nearly all been sold by the time I left and most of the stalls were looking quite empty.Sweet ShopThe Winter Children I came away with a pack of sweet shop jars for £2.50 for Little L (who has asked Santa for a shop this year) and selected two books for a donation of £2 – they look brand new; the murder mystery one I will pass on to my mum when she visits – and The Winter Children I was attracted to by the title and I live in hope that I will find some time to read at Christmas.

I had a cup of tea, a home-baked cake and a natter, made a few promises to have a catch up and get together over the festive period and then came home.After lunch I spooned more brandy into the fruit for the cake (I might even need to buy another bottle), the lemons are reserved to make lemon curd.  The aroma in the kitchen is just lovely at this time of year it is certainly the best place to be and through the kitchen window I could see the birds scurrying around in the undergrowth and checking the bird feeders for peanuts which to their dismay were empty…so armed with seed, peanuts and a half coconut shell of fat I went outside to refill all the feeders. Bird TableApart from the cold it was quite pleasant in the garden and I stopped to take a few photos as there are one or two little pockets of colour here and there – the silvery leaves of the Honesty and the glorious bright red berries of the Cotoneaster, they almost glow in this grey winter light.Yesterday we had to go to B&Q for a piece of wood for DH to finish the shelving in the shed.  We have reused as much as we can from the old melamine wardrobe but he was short of an upright.  B&Q have started a waste wood bin like Ikea and you can take what you like for a small donation (Ikea is for free).  We were out of luck though as the wood in the waste bin was not a suitable size this time.

Whilst on the retail park I went to look around Home Bargains, a huge shed of a place, I don’t go very often but you can often find a bargain.  Amongst all the stuff piled floor to ceiling I spotted this – a small wooden letter rack painted white, can be wall hung and being quite shallow a perfect size – and only £2.49.  I bought one for my notice board in the kitchen to keep my Care Cards in (see HERE for new readers), and one for the laundry room to keep my washing instructions in.  I think I might go back for a third for the office so I can put the outgoing mail and cards in.  I know it says letters on it but this could be painted out.During the afternoon I spent some more time on designing my Christmas card – mostly playing around with ideas and sketches.  I think I might have a design at last and hope to start cutting the lino tomorrow after I have made the cake and lemon curd.

Tonight DH went to another of his concerts – the one last week must have been a prominent composer as it was attended by the BBC for a live broadcast.  He had to leave around tea time so cooked himself some of the fresh ravioli from a packet that only takes 3-4 minutes, while he was out I made a vegetable lasagne with green lentils which takes more like 40 -50 minutes but will cover two nights meals.  I don’t know about you but I am enjoying cooking and eating some of the hot meals that we haven’t eaten for a while.

More Christmas makes and bakes tomorrow…

dEAr diary…shopping, crafting and more preparing

We set off for our planned date with John Lewis yesterday with a packed lunch and flask, a bit later than intended – not even sure why, I think I had a lot to get ready – vouchers, list of requirements, carrier bags, some bits to drop off at my brothers on the way home – so it took us longer than I thought to get out of the door.   What a surprise when we drove up the road  and onto the moor that takes us over the tops of Saddleworth to Greenfield, Mossley, Ashton, Stockport and finally Cheadle Royal our destination – there was a covering of snow. On the way home it was thick fog too and a bit hairy coming over the winding moor road but at least it was still open as often when there is any snowfall it is soon closed off and we have been stuck getting home a few times, you really have to watch the weather here if you venture far when it snows.

We had a lovely day looking at all the gorgeous things in the John Lewis store – these were my favourite (apologies for the mobile photo) – 4 champagne glasses by Waterford Crystal Mixology a mere £255 for the four!  Obviously they will be on my Christmas list and obviously I won’t be getting them!  But I can admire them.

We bought  a gift for Little L (reduced by 20% in the Black Friday deals), a Magic set for my nephew (which wasn’t reduced but still in budget) and a couple of small gifts for Little L to put in the Christmas Eve box I am filling with her mum.  We won’t see her at Christmas and I have decided to buy a short 3 monthly subscription from Toucan boxes for children starting after Christmas, to see how it goes, rather than a ‘main’ present so the Christmas Eve box will just be a little extra and I quite like the idea that not everything has to be opened on one day.

Her mum has some new flamingo pyjamas which will go in the box, I have bought a 99p pack of plasticine, a small pack of Christmas joke cards (for some reason she loves telling jokes but so far only remembers two), I found a lovely Emma Bridgewater spoon with coloured spots on the handle for her too.  I will add a book and some felt tips etc which I will get from the Works or Sainsbury’s and one or two other inexpensive bits.

With my gift card from leaving work I bought a cosy brushed cotton duvet cover for the colder winter months in large grey check so now I have to decide between this and the Dorma one I bought from Dunelm.  I won’t be keeping both but needed to see them in our bedroom to decide.

Sainsbury’s is attached to the John Lewis in Cheadle and we had a drink in the afternoon in their cafe (really to save a bit of money) – the difference in service between the two shops is notable!  We waited 15 minutes to be served at Sainsburys and we were only second in the queue, we had arrived when they were changing shifts – the person leaving just down tools and left and I can honestly say in no way does it resembles the very precise hand over at the changing of the guard.  We had a look around the small Habitat section on the way out – I loved the old Habitat stores and really miss them now.  This small stand they have in the corner of Sainsburys looks quite pitiful to what Habitat was in its heyday.

The selection bags were all ready to be delivered today  – I had quite a production line going so in the end they didn’t take very long to finish.

I intended to get back to making my cards this morning but I ran out of time so it will be tomorrow; I saw some lovely cards yesterday on display but homemade are fun to do and so much cheaper as I already have a stack of blanks and all the printing gear.

Because I ran out of time to soak my fruit for the cake yesterday it was the first task on the list this morning.  I just love that smell of brandy mixed in the dried fruit with the peel from the citrus fruit.  I wil bake it on Sunday and make Lemon Curd at the same time to use up the lemons.

Saturday morning is the Crisis coffee morning at church – I am going with a friend for a coffee, a chat and a look at the Xmas goodies to buy on the stalls.

Back soon x

 

dEAr diary…home again, home again

We are back home again from our weekend away.  We had a lovely time at the family gathering it is so nice to be together for Sunday lunch and a catch up; and show off the new arrival.  A friend had made this cake to celebrate my daughter’s 10th wedding anniversary.  Little L wore her new sparkly party dress and everyone had a good time.

But it is good to be home again and hopefully at home now for a while.  The recent trips up and down to North Yorkshire (about a 2 hour journey) have taken their toll and I am feeling rather weary at the moment and have only just finished all the unpacking and putting away once more, but not the catching up with finances and washing.

It is bitterly cold here and wet with it… and gloomy – I have the lights on in the house and I have put the heating on this afternoon for an hour; it certainly looks wintry out there to me.I made Tomato soup yesterday and more soup today, a minted green soup with watercress, spinach, lettuce and pea.  We had some for lunch and I have put the rest in the freezer for another day.  Hot soup on a cold day is perfect for lunch.  It was too cold to be cleaning out the freezer today so I have postponed this job yet again for another day.

I did manage to cut out the paper for the eight selection bags – there was just enough – and I will make these into bags tomorrow morning when the light is better.

Yesterday we went to Sainsbury’s to do the grocery shopping.  I have planned a few easy meals for this week whilst I catch up with myself; Shepherds pie with lentils and Vegetable Lasagne which will do two nights each and then an omelette and salad for Sunday when the oven will be needed for the Christmas cake.   It wasn’t a big shop as we are coming to the end of this month’s pension allowance – our next payment will be this Friday though I am intending that the four weekly pension amount stretches to cover the whole of a calendar month and that way the 13th payment can go into savings.  As long as we keep within the £160 a week then we are doing OK and so far so good but it does take a lot of effort.

Starting in January I will be trying to save 10% of the pension  – £64 every 4 weeks amounts to a healthy £832.00 for the year plus the £200 fuel allowance  will give us £1000, so I will need to cut costs further to do this.  I always saved when we had a wage so I don’t really want to stop now but I have needed time to get used to living on a pension and to see how far it will stretch.  Unfortunately, it is not very elastic.

I am finding food expensive even though we make most of our own meals, waste very little and do not eat meat or fish.  As you know we eat organic foods were we can and especially fruit and veg as I like the fact they are not sprayed with pesticides and they have been farmed in a way that does not harm either me or the environment; I don’t compromise on this even if it costs me more…and generally it does!  It is a constant battle against rising prices or shrinking products.I keep getting vouchers at Sainsbury’s for bonus Nectar points but only if I spend over £100 – which I don’t.  Waitrose have sent me a coupon for £22 off a £110 shop.  This we might use nearer Christmas and buy one of their rooted trees again.

This month has been heavy on gifts and fuel costs too.  Travelling up and down to North Yorkshire is expensive and there is no easy way to reduce this when a third of our immediate family live a couple of hours away, other than not seeing them.  We always make sandwiches and a flask for the journey up there but are often forced to buy a Costa toastie and a drink on our return and motorway services prices are much inflated so as well as the fuel cost being high the snacks we bought when travelling was also an unavoidable expense. Luckily I am able to cut the costs of the gifts by recycling unwanted items and taking advantage of sales.   We also sold 3 unwanted items on eBay this week so have gained £38 in my PayPal account which has boosted the kitty. Another saving of £5.80 was the voucher for a free hot drink and scone at John Lewis when we went to buy my daughter’s gift and because we went to the Cheadle branch the parking was free.

We will wait to see what the weather is doing tomorrow before making any definite plans.  I have selection bags to make, a freezer to clean and some fresh mushrooms for soup.

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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