dEAr diary ~ just catching up with myself

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

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

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

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

It all takes time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

dEAr diary ~ getting more things done

Not quite so productive today but I have been busy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Must go now to ring mum before tea. x

 

 

 

 

 

 

dEAr diary ~ getting things done bit by bit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back soon x

 

dEAr diary ~ shopping and ‘Shalloween’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rant over!

What are your thoughts on plastic Halloween?

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