dear diary ~ wet, wet, wet and files, files, files…

I know it drives some people mad but I find the noise of the rain on the caravan roof quite comforting to listen to when I am in bed.  Being snug and warm inside whilst outside it is lashing with rain is a reminder of how lucky we are to have a roof over our heads and can still afford some heat.  The sound of the rain is never so obvious when we are at home.

We are on our last day here at the cottage.  It has not been a very productive visit this time as the cold weather, even on the sunniest of days, together with sporadic down pours has meant little gardening has been done.  DH cut the front and back grass and washed down the caravan.  I attempted the trellis border and lane side border and was rained off each time.

So instead I made soup and curry and tomato and butterbean casserole and each time whilst they were cooking made an effort to clear out digital files on my laptop.  It is surprising the amount of old stuff on there and as with my paper files at home I have opened one or two folders each day and dealt with the documents inside – either keeping, archiving or deleting. 

At least there is no shredding involved.

Whilst I have been decluttering these digital files there has been quite a bit of shuffling around too and renaming of folders and then reordering the folder list – though I am not altogether satisfied yet with the running order – I am very particular about my folder list (no doubt a nerdy thing).

As the folder list is automatically sorted alphabetically by name I can end up with the most frequently used folders nearer the bottom so to bring the important ones to the top of the list I just add an exclamation mark or two to the front of the label name to be able to adjust where the folders appear on the list and make my own partially alphabetical one.  So folders such as  !STATEMENTS or !!ONLINE ORDERS and  !!!CONTACTS that are in frequent use are easy to find.  When Xmas comes around and I am using this folder more (which usually resides at the bottom of the folder list) I can rename it with an exclamation mark !XMAS and it will bring it to the top of the list temporarily over the Christmas period.

One day soon I do need to tackle the mass of photos – they are eating into the free space on my computer and many of the ‘blog’ photos can be deleted as I often take several shots and choose the best one to post.

To help with my current quest to go paperless in our office at home I have been searching online for manuals to download so that I can get rid of our paper versions. I have also downloaded the assembly and care instructions from the Ikea website for the flatpacks we have bought over the years. I am not sure we would ever need to refer to them again but if we do they will be documented on the computer. Any important instructions and manuals that I can’t find online I will probably scan onto the computer before putting the paper version into the recycle bin as there is no danger of any of our details being on these.

I will be sad to be leaving the cottage but I know there is so much to do at home too and no doubt the garden there will suddenly spring into life once (or if) we have some warmer weather.

We usually stop in Castle Douglas on the way home – a small market town with some great shops one of which is a family run craft shop over two floors and piled high like a treasue trove with wool, fabrics, artists materials and all things crafty – far better than any Hobbycraft, although not as organised but that only adds to the pleasure of discovery and the temptation to buy is just as difficult to ignore.

It is Mothering Sunday this week so as soon as we are home we will be setting off to pay my mum a flying visit (she lives in North Yorkshire about 90 miles from us) as we have to be back home again and at the dentist on Monday afternoon for that tooth extraction – I will no doubt have to make a big pan of soup for DH to eat afterwards.

Thank you for all your kind comments on previous posts and welcome to all the new followers, those of you that have your own blogs I will be over soon for a nosey – I know some of you are fellow crafters and I am looking forward to seeing all your handiwork.

creating ~ ScrapHappy March

Welcome to the Scraphappy challenge post for March. This challenge uses the tiniest scraps of fabric – those little pieces that you sometimes end up with at the end of a sewing project too small for anything but the tiniest of patchwork – but I save them as they can prove useful as you will see in the pictures below.

For Christmas I made my sister in law and her husband a picnic hamper packed with a few edible goodies, a handy flask and a copy of The Picnic recipe book. 

To make it a bit more special and personalised I made them a napkin each with their names on. I used a couple of inexpensive white cotton napkins I bought from Sainsbury’s years ago and that I had stashed away in my craft drawer (for a project that I can’t even remember now!) and machine embroidered their names on……

…..and using an assortment of the tiny fabric scraps appliqued a simple flower design.

I say simple as it was the first time I had ever done any free hand machine embroidery and it took quite a bit of concentration ….but I was quite pleased with the result.

It might even be something that I make again or perhaps I will do a tea cosy or I am sure my two granddaughters would love a personalised pillowcase each – I still have plenty of tiny scraps to go at!

If you enjoyed this post do venture over to the other bloggers to see what they have been making. There are two new members to welcome to the group this month. Just click on each of the names below to link through to their blogs.

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, 
JanMoira, SandraChrisAlys,
ClaireJeanJon, DawnJuleGwen,
Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue LVera, Edith
NanetteAnn, Dawn 2, Carol, Preeti,
DebbieroseNóilinVivKarrin,
Amo and Alissa

dear diary ~ Scotland again

Sorry for the long overdue post – life is, as ever here, busy and chaotic. I just thought I would pop by to give a brief update and apologise for my lack of commenting on my favourite blogs – be assured I am still here and reading along with your stories, my day wouldn’t be the same without.

Since my last post at the end of January we came home from Scotland complete with the haggis and scotch pies for our Burns night (which we had postponed to early February because we couldn’t get up to Scotland to buy the Haggis and pies in time for the 25th January). Only a day after arriving home my cough, that I thought had gone in January, reappeared with avengence together with flu like symptoms and we had to postpone our Burns night yet again as I just didn’t feel well enough to clean the house and cook a meal for 8 of us. Luckily, the haggis and pies could go into the freezer for another day.

After a busy February, which included the continuing car problems (younger daughter not us) and a trip to A&E with little Sweetie one night, we are now back in Scotland having attended DH’s uncle’s funeral a few days ago at a crematorium just south of Glasgow. Although a sad event it was good to catch up with our Scottish relatives and we decided to combine the trip with a visit to the cottage. We have been here for almost a week now and have spent most of the time relaxing after all the travelling.

Although uncle G died in early February there was a bit of a wait until the funeral date last Tuesday so in the meantime I have been on a mission at home to overhaul our savings, pension and the accumulation of papers in the files.

With the recent years low interest rates our ISA savings really were not doing much and even with penalties for moving a fixed ISA we decided we would gain substantially by moving some of them with very low rates to the new higher rate ISAs on offer. This was not an easy task and not like moving a matured ISA to another account. However, they are all done now and well worth the hassle for the furture financial gain.

Did you know that you can still invest into your private pension pot each year if retired or not working and still be eligible for tax relief on your pension contributions as long as you’re under 75, so if you’re a basic rate taxpayer you’ll get 20p in tax relief for every pound you make in pension contributions? You are only allowed to put in £2880 each tax year but the government make it up to £3600 by giving you £720. I found this out a few years ago and realised there was no savings account that would give me £720 in interest over the year on a £2880 investment so for the last 3 tax years I have been feeding in any spare savings into my People’s Pension scheme.

There was only a small amount of money invested in the scheme when I left work and retired as it had only just got off the ground but I didn’t withdraw it and now it has proved a useful savings pot. So far it is doing very well although a word of warning – because pensions are invested in bonds and securities the investment can go down. It is a gamble but so far so good.

The papers in the filing drawer have been hard work – particularly when deciding what to keep and what to shred. I can’t help but remember a period of miss-selling by certain financial bodies (endowment mortgages spring to mind) and having paperwork in support of a claim for compensation was necessary in some cases. So although I want to be ruthless I have used caution and spent quite a long time scanning papers onto my computer so that we still have a record.

I have been accepting paperless bills such as fuel, water and internet accounts for quite a while now but I do like to have the paper copy of a bank statement to check the outgoings each month as I find it easier to tick and cross and make notes on paper when I am balancing a statement. Once balanced I can then shred the paper copy and download the digital version to store on my computer. It is on my mind though to bite the bullet and go completely digital to save on wasting paper.

The clearout continues as the pile for burning (far too much to shred) grows bigger.

I have been clearing out digital files too on my computer and deleting old emails in the folders in my email account, of which there were far too many. Any email of any importance I have printed to a PDF to save on my computer including any online order receipts and guarantees. It has been on my mind to do this for a long time and leave a list for DH of where to find things just in case. I tend to deal with the banks and receipts while DH has taken over all the fuel and internet accounts and keeps an eye on the amount we are using and also new deals. It all seems to run quite smoothly but I have been making sure he can understand my system should he need to retreive anything.

Today is sunny, so far, so the garden is calling. The weather here has been very mixed from high winds, heavy rain and brilliant sunshine to even a dusting of snow on higher ground which didn’t affect us being by the sea. The daffodils are out but the rabbits have dug up most of my other bulbs I planted last year – poor things must have been short of food so I can’t feel too upset.

There is so much to do and top of my list is to weed the lane side border and heavily prune the lane side rosa rugosa hedge – and yes …the same one that ‘machete man’ ruined last year. I will see if I can prune it back to some reasonable shape.

Must go now to catch the good weather.

Do drop by tomorrow for the Scrap Happy Challenge for March. x

creating >> ScrapHappy February

This might seem a rather unusual Scraphappy challenge post as it is using up scraps of wood, but I thought you might be interested to see them even though it was not actually me, but DH that made them – I just made the endless cups of coffee.

When our grandchildren came along DH decided he wanted to make a set of Froebel Blocks for them (they are a kind of teach by playing type of thing – you can Google it if you want to know more). So with this idea in mind he disappeared into the garage one day and unearthed a load of off cuts from some lengths of beech that we had once used for the finishing rail along the waist height boarding in the shower room – and once cut into shape these were the basis of the different sized blocks. The boxes with little slide on lids he made from some off cuts of thin plywood. He never throws any bits of old wood away after a project but often finds a use for it.

I think he made a really good job of them and all the grandchildren love them. The only piece we had to buy was a short off cut length of a round piece of beech from a place that we pass in Penrith when we go up to Scotland. He emerged from the garage 3 weeks later with all these boxes of carefully cut, sanded and varnished building blocks complete with a storage box and identification picture pasted on the lid.

If you enjoyed this post do venture over to the other bloggers to see what they have been making.

Kate, Gun, Eva, Sue, Lynda, Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys, Claire, Jean, Jon, Dawn, Jule, Gwen, Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L, Vera, Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Carol, Preeti, Edith, Debbierose, Noilin, Karin.

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