fEAsible ~ March review

I wrote at the beginning of March that we were beginning to lose that cold nip in the air…. but here at the beginning of April we have it back again and a possibility of snow.  Really isn’t it Spring now?  …..well it has hailed once or twice here and covered the grass with icy crystals.  March was certainly a busy month …I would even say a ‘far too’ busy month, and if I didn’t achieve all my intentions then it wasn’t for the lack of trying.  It is always a shorter condensed month at home when we spend some time in Scotland and usually I have to roll over some things I had intended to do.

Nothing new there then.

On the whole I was pleased with getting started on the knitting, a yoga class and attending the financial seminars – all part of my ‘transitioning’ plans for this year.

So looking back on last month how did I do?

appEArance

I joined the weekly Yoga class – I have done two sessions now, one of them last Tuesday morning.  Anita had kindly tailored this class around shoulder exercises which helped my restricted left arm and although it is a bit achy now it feels better for the movement.   I must remember to move more and not get stuck on the computer for long periods.

I have been doing some facial massage using the free facial oil samples sent to me by Neal’s Yard.  I am following some instructions I tore out of a magazine  – I am not sure I can see a big difference but it certainly leaves your skin very soft.   I think the wrinkles are still there though!   No matter how many times I thought about it I never got to mix together the ingredients for the facemask so that is next on the list.  I have a small avocado in the fridge to use up so I will add a sprinkling of oatmeal and lemon juice.

homestEAd

Both gardens have had the majority of our time and attention this month.  We bought new heavy-duty anvil loppers and have been severely cutting back some of the overgrown shrubs.  It takes time to get them into a pleasing shape and decide which of the buds to cut down to  not to mention dealing with the mountain of prunings afterwards.

DH put up the new cupboard in the garage to house our vacuum cleaner and gardening coats and remove them from what is to become the pantry.  We actually bought a new upright Dyson because we wanted a small lighter weight one (like we bought for the caravan) but not cordless and so we had to move fast as once the stock of these in the shops has gone they will be unavailable.  Our problem with the cordless is that the batteries are so expensive to replace once they stop charging properly as all these cordless machines do in time, and I like the flexible hoses on the corded vacuums for doing the stairs.

There has been no other work done in the pantry, and no paint put on the front door and no spring cleaning of the gutters and paths – these will be some of the roll over tasks for April.

clEAn and lEAn

I had intended to do more spring cleaning than I found I had time for so I am reverting to clearing out and cleaning in small stages and this is working better for me.

Instead of trying to tackle the whole office at once, which was a bit of an overwhelm, I began with the two desk drawers – the top drawer that houses all the stationery items, post it notes, highlighter pens, punch, calculator, ruler etc……and the lower drawer that contains anything money related – current receipts, card readers, some left over travel money and cheque books (that are rarely used now). I hope you can tell these are the ‘after’ photos as I had a big clear out and only put back the items that are frequently used.  Any infrequently used items have now been moved into the craft cupboard in one of those sectioned A4 storage boxes and the older household receipts are in a box file on the shelving unit.

Having only what I need to hand and getting rid of any surplus ‘stuff’ has made it a joy to open these drawers every day and easier to tidy my desk each time I use it.

Tackling the clear out and cleaning in small stages gives me chance to evaluate what I need and use and work with it for a few days until the space is simplified down to the basics.Moving on to the craft items my first task was to sort through the mass of ribbons I had collected over the years.  I had a stack of narrow ribbon hanger loops that are used to keep garments on the hangers in shops and I always cut them off – they are perfect for using on cards and tags and I have tied them up into neat bundles by colour range.

crEAting

March has probably been my most creative month since the advent period last December – and I have enjoyed it.  I finally got started on the knitting and made some cards – not quite so productive as many bloggers are but I am pleased with myself for carving out some time to just do something.I still have to sew the little knitted jumper together before I can finish knitting the hood.  I think I would have done it sooner if I felt I knew what I was doing – but ready or not I will have to have a go.

Now I have caught the creating bug I have been looking for new ideas.  I borrowed these two books from the library.The cards turned out quite well – they are not great works of art but they have reduced my pile of decorative papers and blank cards and will save me money on buying them – so a win win situation.

trEAsury

The ISA’s that matured last month remain as instant access accounts for the moment as we will be arranging a free advice session with the lovely man from Hargreaves Lansdown and hopefully have a better idea afterwards of where to invest it.

I will be posting my March financial tally soon to review how we coped financially through this month.  As readers may know I work out our finances on a calendar month basis and have found the four weekly pension payment to be difficult to manage – but this month I have I had a bit of a brain wave which will might just solve the problem  – I will talk about it more on the ‘Tally’ post.

fEAsting

I continue to plan menus in order to save money and food waste and have been making some of those good old-fashioned favourites like these Homity Pies and creamy rice puddings.   Spring might be upon us but needless to say with the recent turn in the weather we are still making homemade soup and have not yet swapped our winter meals for anything a bit lighter. On Shrove Tuesday I made savoury pancakes stuffed with leeks and mushrooms and baked in a cheese sauce.  This year to save money I didn’t buy the buckwheat flour and used ordinary, that was a big mistake as they came out a bit too ‘claggy’ for me; the buckwheat has a better flavour and makes a less ‘gooey’ pancake more to my liking.  I did eat them but did not enjoy them as much. Mother’s day I spent the whole day gardening at home – which is just what I needed after being away so much.  We had easy meals –  just DH and I together  – so for me this was a perfect day.  We had a visit in the evening from my elder daughter who lives locally and brought the beautiful bouquet; the day before we had been staying at my younger daughter’s house and she gave me gardening vouchers.  Libbie (Little L) chose the card with the sequins – they change direction to reveal a golden heart – I will keep it for her.  Of course both my daughters are mothers themselves now, so I try and take a back seat so they can enjoy Mothering Sunday with their children.

mEAndering

We had our trip up to Scotland.  We worked far too hard up there – we must learn to pace ourselves more now we are that bit older and that bit more creaky.  Apart from the aches and pains we did enjoy our time away and a stroll along the beach.  The sea air (or the Vitamin Sea) as Jill calls it on her blog ‘Land of the Big Sky’ is the best prescription after a long winter.

When mum was down here visiting we had our usual day out in Derbyshire; stopping for a picnic lunch in Foolow beside the duck pond. Afterwards we had a change from Tissington and went instead to the nearby little village of Hartington to test out their tea room of course.  I bought a knitted thermal hat for £4.99 in the sale at the Country Store for next winter.  I may need it now if it does snow.

So that was my month – full of ups and downs as most of them are but everyone managed to keep well and although the spring cleaning didn’t really get underway I am now the proud owner of an empty ironing basket;  the days of the ironing mountain are long gone – I am keeping up to doing a little each day and it feels so good to walk past the empty basket.  It has become such a habit I can now focus on something else that I wish to change.

back again soon with a new list of my April intentions.

have a lovely weekend everyone x

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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

fEAsible ~ September review

Well September seemed a short month I cannot believe it is over so quickly.  I set my intentions at the beginning of the month – (I find it helps to make a list of what I would like to do in the coming month) – not everything gets done and I don’t always do what I intended – the review helps me to realise that I did actually do something!

sEAsons

As summer moved briskly into autumn it was time to switch over my clothes.  I carefully laundered and packed away the lightweight garments for next year discarding anything that was very worn or in some cases hardly worn at all because they were those inevitable mistake purchases.

I completely emptied and cleaned out the wardrobe and drawers to reorganise the space.   A lot of old favourites put back out on the rail and a few more items relegated to the charity bag – the mistakes from last year!

The finished result is so much better – filled with nice warm snuggly clothes to see me through the winter season – a much simplified collection with space to breathe.  One or two items are still held in that state of temporary pondering whether they stay or go.

homestEAd

Do you have projects  that just seem to rumble on and on  – dealing with the exterior of our house has been one of them and it has taken up most of this year but at last I think we are looking at being watertight this winter.  The rendering of the top half of our house was quite a major job and although the men worked hard and have done a good job there was such a lot of tidying up to do, much more than we anticipated.  The pebble gravel round the house needs taking up, cleaning and putting back down again to get rid of the bits of render that fell into it despite the protective sheet the contractor put down.

Before our trip to Scotland DH was busy washing down the remaining brickwork beneath to remove the tiny splashes of render and re-staining all the windows.  Then he put back the burglar alarm and outside light.  The shed is on order at last, as space is a bit restricted we cannot have one more than 4 feet wide but we have ordered one that is an extra foot long – seven feet instead of the usual six.  It is only an extra foot but sometimes that can make all the difference.

Once the gravel is cleaned the shed should be ready for delivery and by then the compost bins will be back in place (I have so much missed using my compost bins).  All that is left on the exterior list then is to get a new front door and garage door and hire a contractor to redo the driveway.

Then the outside of our house will have had a complete makeover.

mEAndering

I could have spent the whole of September meandering – so many events to choose from and by chance we happened to be in Scotland for the Wigtown Book Fair (post about this to come) some very creative artists on show at the fringe events and an exhibition of miniature books.

Over the Heritage weekend we visited the little chapel in Matlock Dale (you can read about it here) – one of the best days, we really enjoyed it and especially finding the surprise tea room in the woods afterwards.

nEAtening

I love a good declutter, the planning, the cleaning, the clearing and creating more space so I started this job in the kitchen with a burst of enthusiasm.  I have been reordering and moving around, trying to simplify the cupboards so everything is within easy reach and flows better.  I often find that once you start the clearing process and letting things go it is easier to let more go.

I have been using up a lot of the food from the clear out and my food cupboards will soon look like Mother Hubbards.  I don’t plan to restock with any ‘just in case’ food as it was obvious we weren’t using it, maybe keep a tin of beans and a tin of fruit in case of emergencies other than that it will be the usual pantry goods to make a meal or drink; dried pasta, flour, sugar, cereal, coffee and teabags and jars of jam,  sauce, chutney and oil for dressing and cooking etc.

crEAting

In terms of crafting I have ideas but not produced anything substantial yet.  I plan to earmark a day a week to do nothing else and build on that. Autumn is a great time for inspiration and I have collected a few nature bits to sketch and maybe use these to turn into a lino cut.

fEAsting

Sadly my home-grown courgettes are just about finished – completely organic – we really enjoyed them.  This year I grew them from seed rather than buying plants – I had forgotten just how easy they are.

As the weather has become colder we are definitely on warmer meals.  I have been introducing a few more adventurous hot sandwich lunches and also made a start on reducing my recipe clippings – even thrown away a number from my folders that I know I won’t make or I have duplicates of.

rEAding

Plenty of bedtime reading this month.  Mainly on the theme of living simply and discarding.  I particularly love the little book called A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind – it is pure domestic simplicity. Another interesting book which I have had for years is Swimming with Piranha makes you Hungry by Colin Turner – a strange title maybe but full of valuable advice on simplifying. It is good to have a re-read of a book from time to time.

trEAsury

I had the intention during September that I would set out a new budget for our new circumstances.  The budget did not materialise even though it was a high priority on my list – some how I managed to ignore it as sorting out the house inside and out seemed to take over and I just never found the time.  But as you know I have plans for getting down to this and already I am implementing the daily task of recording our finances in the hope that little and often will stop it mounting up.

bEAching

The recent trip to Scotland to our cottage (caravan) was such a rejuvenating time.

We spent time on the beach…time in the garden…

and time out and about in Dunoon, Portpatrick and Wigtown and loved every minute.

In all September was a success for me – perhaps not doing exactly what I had planned and never doing enough, but I look back on the month with a feeling of satisfaction.

I am now working on my October intentions.

Back soon x