feasible :: September intentions

I am sure I am not the only one wondering how we are suddenly finding ourselves plunged into September. I feel like I blinked and missed the summer but that maybe because we have not had a summer holiday this year. Things happen.

August was too busy a month for us to have made any plans instead we just coasted along reacting to whatever came our way day by day. September should see us trying to get back to some sense of normality whilst we wait for significant dates to roll forward.

Although the start of the new school term doesn’t directly affect us it does make a good starting point for the final part of the year; a time when the weather significantly changes and we turn our attentions to different activities more in keeping with this coming season of cooler weather and shorter hours of daylight. Everything will begin to slow down in the garden so I can use the extra time indoors improving my homekeeping skills!

So, with the best of intentions, here is my usual monthly list of intentions.

The new pantry is top of the list for jobs. It has been dragging on all year but now the units and worktop we chose have been delivered and are being stored in the garage until DH can assemble them. We definitely need to make this a priority. I can’t wait to get it up and running.

I need time in the garden too – tending to plants, feeding the lawns and continuing to dead head the annuals to keep them flowering for as long as possible.

When September comes along I think of harvesting the abundance of food that is around – blackberries in the hedgerows, apples from our tree and with the start of this new season I always want to spend more time in the kitchen. As the days begin to get cooler it is a nice warm space to be trying out new recipes, using up the plentiful supply of tomatoes and left over greens to turn into delicious soups. I am even in the frame of mind to make some jam.

I am quite proud of myself that I have been able to keep our house looking neat and tidy throughout the summer. Having visitors helps! Once I had done the initial big clean it has been easy to keep on top of it all. There are some basic household jobs on my list that really need doing this month – clean my new oven and put away the garden furniture and cushions. Maybe switching some of the decorative items around for something a little more seasonal.

Whilst things have not been easy for us during the summer I still managed to keep on reducing our stuff bit by bit, a pair of boots and 3 pairs of shoes I can no longer wear have gone to my daughter. I decided that the fixtures and fittings from the cloakroom and other oddments in there would be best sold at a Car Boot sale – a few extra pounds in the coffers would not come amiss at the moment.

September is the month of Heritage open days. I always look forward to these and squeeze as many venues in as we can wherever we happen to be. We are already making plans and marking off the ones we want to go and see should time allow. Even better now we are not limited to weekends only.

We will also be going up to Scotland and no doubt another trip to North Yorkshire and if there are any late open gardens or well dressing events then we will add those in too.

As the summer is drawing to a close it is time to revise our budget for the four remaining months to Christmas. It is important to conserve what we can so that the cost of Christmas does not become a potential problem. I will be posting my monthly tally in a day or two.

I an doubtful, but quite hopeful, that I might be able to do some crafting this month. I have lots of ideas all I need is time. Watch this space.

I always find it helpful to have an idea of what I want and need to accomplish during the month though I don’t always succeed – but like they say if you fail to plan you plan to fail!

Enjoy September x

feasible :: July intentions

Can it really be July already? As usual on this journey of mine I have been busier than busy this past month, whilst the weather has been wetter than wet.

Moving on to this month and better weather, I hope, I am still not sure myself how I am going to fit everything together – at the moment it looks like a jigsaw with a few pieces missing, and we all know how irritating that can be.

During the next 31 days I have to fit in our summer holiday, celebrate my birthday and wedding anniversary, entertain and look after an Aussie cousin of DH for a few days, attend Jimmy’s in Leeds (the lovely Bexley Wing) for my yearly blood tests, attend again a couple of weeks later for my results and check up with the consultant and then have Little L to stay for a few days near the end of the month.

In and amongst I shall have house cleaning, tending the garden (both of them), lots of cooking with my new oven (yeah!) and plenty of exercises for my poorly knee….oh and at some point see my dear old mum (to which I hear her say…less of the old please!).

As ever I am searching for that slower lifestyle and as ever it seems just a little beyond reach; especially when I look at what I have to do for the month, my obligations, and what I would like to do in the month, my desires….when I can fit them in. There must be a solution and believe me I am working on it.

So as usual I am setting out my intentions for the month as doing so helps me stay focused….well sometimes…. and also helps me to log what I have to do and then squeeze in what I would like to do.

We will be going up to our cottage (caravan) in Scotland soon for what will be our summer holiday. We cannot have the full two weeks we would have liked due to so many other commitments so somewhere between a week and a fortnight will have to do. Can’t wait.

But there is the packing to do and that can’t wait either!

There will be plenty of house cleaning to do (didn’t I say that last month….. and the one before, but this time I mean it). My house needs a thorough clean……. everywhere – it is in a worse state than when I was working. Somehow I have not managed to get myself into any routine as we always seem to be focused on one project or another and some of those never get finished.

DH and I had a big planning meeting a month ago and listed all those tasks we needed to do but for some reason it is taking ages to get anything crossed off the list. I feel like giving myself a C- and I hear that old teachers comment you would find on any school report “must try harder”.

I have fewer apppointments and no yoga classes for a while, so I do need to make sure I exercise during the next month, especially the ones to help my knee. Does house cleaning count as exercise I wonder?

This month with the aid of my new oven I want to focus on what we are eating and plan for better, even healthier meals, though I may sneak a cake in for my birthday

I got my sketchbook out the other day when it was too hot to do anything else and spent a pleasant afternoon sitting in the garden drawing a few flowers. I feel quite rusty not having done very much drawing for a long time.

There is always some distraction, something more pressing to do – so maybe whilst we are away in Scotland I can fit in a little painting like we used to. I will certainly be packing my watercolours and sketchbook.

I have a couple of patchwork and quilting books from the library at the moment – well you never know I might just find some time to make a start. I have a lot of very pretty flowered fabric in summery peaches and pinks left over from the bunting I made for my elder daughter’s wedding. I had thought it would make a nice quilt for her new baby, but the baby turned out to be little Freddie who I am not sure would want such a girly quilt.

Summer is always such a good month for plenty of meandering…getting out and about, exploring; and we will be doing plenty of that…as much as we can fit into the time.

.

I expect that while DH’s cousin is here we will be taking him places too – I think his interests lie in cricket and gardens. The latter sounds hopeful to me as I am sure there will be plenty of open gardens to visit – but the cricket might be more tricky. Entertaining Little L will be much easier than the cousin I think and she is happy to do anything and go anywhere with a park nearby…..so the park it is then.

Well that is my month all lined up….now where did I put my mop and bucket. x

PS. Back soon with my monthly tally (yet another sticking point in my life!).

June review

June turned out to be one of those months full of appointments and commitments; dentists, doctors and a few others. Between us we had so many that I had to rearrange my yearly appointment at the hospital in Leeds to July just so that we had a bit of a breather and could squeeze in a trip to Scotland.

And of course I have been attending the extra Yoga classes throughout June on a Friday afternoon. These have now finished as my teacher has to go into hospital this week so combined the last two classes into one. I enjoyed the smaller Friday classes (six of us) and individual attention and have learned how to breathe well and open up all those areas that we often don’t breathe into enough. Deep breathing using all the lung is extremely beneficial as I found out after only one session.

The weather here has not been very spectacular, mostly wet and dull and often quite cold (yes we had the heating on too) – some of our best days happened to be in Scotland. But the garden has started to bloom in the last week or two as the sun made a welcome appearance and the warmer weather has been so lovely. Nothing can beat cutting a few fresh flowers and herbs from the garden and bringing them indoors.

It has felt quite a disorganised month as months go – not very productive but plans have been made, plans that will help us as we move forward out of this ‘transition’ period and further into our new life of being at home and not in the workplace, of being reliant on pensions and savings and no regular salary.

So on with this month’s review – a summary of the intentions I did succeed in doing and those that got left behind.

The pantry……. mmmm…this did not happen – not even close – we have not ordered the units yet so it remains the dumping ground downstairs – though on the good side my elder daughter has taken a huge box of DVD’s and CD’S away that we were storing for her in here.

But if there has been one thing we have done a lot of this month …..well two actually, it is gardening and meandering. But why not while we have the time – both are very satisfying.

As well as planting up the pots of annuals I bought two wooden planters to grow vegetables in on the patio and managed to sow the salad seeds and amazingly they are growing well despite the wet weather.

I have been collecting and drying the seed heads of some of the flowers in my garden.

I hand printed these tiny seed packets for my daughter’s wedding when we gave away some wild flower seeds as favours and they will be perfect to put the seeds in when collected.

Lean – one of my intentions this month was to look at my wardrobe and pull out and wear some of my least favourite clothes that often just linger in there. I think we all have a few, if not many, that are unworn for a variety of reasons. I particularly want to avoid buying anything new this year as this will give me a chance to wear what I have as well as simplify my wardrobe.

The aim is to only have enough clothes for my needs, have them mostly hanging (save underwear and socks etc) as they are easier to see and select this way, and to have all the seasons in one space. So that is quite a reduced collection but every item will be one I love to wear.

I have already made a start on this – it is a work in progress though and I must say that some of the items are feeling rather tight which is a good indication that I need to eat less or watch what I am eating and lose a few extra pounds. My only two purchases this month have been a pack of trainer socks from Primark for £1.50 and some Skechers trainers bought in the sale to wear in the house as slippers but give my feet the additional support they need.

As it happens I have had little time to go shopping and having a bad knee has also limited the amount I can walk up and down shopping malls so this has been a bonus really for saving money.

Clean – not a lot of cleaning got done in the house this month – I blame my bad knee but as you might expect it didn’t stop me from doing the gardening, so a lack of motivation was probably the real reason. And I must hold my hands up and admit that my house at the moment is not a very pleasant sight and I feel like Mr Messy has sneaked in and been….well messy….and left me a few piles of stuff everywhere.

We spent a whole weekend gathering information ready for our appointment with the financial advisor – a free appointment for which they normally allow up to 2 hours but ours lasted for almost three in total and he thoroughly reviewed our current financial situation and advised on a plan of action.

I was extremely impressed as our advisor delivered good honest advice tailored to our circumstances and we agreed that the action we need to take could be done without his help thus saving any fees for his time. At no time during the meeting did he try to sell us products or suggest moving pensions. Our finances are not particularly complicated but until I can draw my state pension next year money is tight unless we delve into our savings. He did say that stocks and shares are more worthwhile when you have a longer investment period than we have and therefore would only advise using our savings to buy shares if we had spare capital to play with and didn’t need to rely on having any of the income from dividends.

When we have a better idea of our day to day living expenses and any immediate capital expenses (like our new kitchen and pantry) then we can start to look at longer term investments for our future bearing in mind that one day we may need to pay for a care home or carers.

We also discussed ideas we have been thinking about for our little cottage and have spent a great deal of time this month focusing on this to get our plans moving again. I cannot go into details yet but at least there has been movement.

Mealtimes had become a real chore with my old unpredictable oven so bringing the one down home from the cottage was a good idea. I can now cook confidently once again and look forward to making new things too. I have a collection of recipes I want to try as time allows to build up my ‘repertoire’. I will be able to practice on the Aussie cousin coming soon!

Of course the highlight of any month for me is always our meandering…we have done lots, much more than I have had time to tell you about but I will do a post soon on some of the places we visited; exploring interesting alley ways and passages, up and down enticing flights of steps, through secret doorways, round open gardens and discovering tiny places along the Ayrshire coast.

Looking back June has been a great month, maybe not such great weather but it does not appear to have stopped us doing very much and maybe it has been more productive than I first thought – that is the best thing about a review it gives you a better perspective.

Here’s to a wonderful July and warm summer days. x

feasible :: June intentions

Halfway through the year already and not a lot done. Actually that is not true – I have done quite a lot but not very much of what I originally intended to do.

The little room ear marked as my new pantry is still a dumping ground and the kitchen no more than a bit of a rough plan in my head.

May went far too quickly probably because I was so focused on the Christening that I hardly noticed it passing by. June will be different; must be different because I have a lot to catch up with and half-started projects to finish.

So here are my intentions for this month:-

On the homefront there is still the pantry to sort – it is so long since we drew up the plans I have almost forgotten what we had decided upon.

In the garden it is very much a matter of feeding, weeding and some light pruning – then sit back and enjoy.

I have been trying to scale down my wardrobe so that it is much leaner and both my summer and winter outfits fit into the one space. This is very much a work in progress… without the progress at the moment…and I have decided not to replace garments when they are worn out or no longer fit but just move on to wear something else less worn in it’s place. It is true I think that we wear our favourite few items 80% of the time but I am going to try and have a wardrobe that only has a few favourite garments that I will wear all the time.

The house is ready for a good clean, it has been ready and waiting for days now – I find I just cannot get down to doing it, either I have to go out or when I am in there have been other more important things demanding my attention. My intention is to set aside a day each week and give each room ‘a good going over’ as they say.

If there is time I will make a few more simple cards – I really enjoyed making the last batch and it helps keep the costs down.

I must also finish Sweetie’s jumper and fingers crossed that it will still fit her.

This is now the time for salad, freshly picked leaves, new potatoes covered in mint and melted butter of course and a host of summer veg cooked or raw. I intend to make a few new dishes to have with salad – try out a new quiche filling and make nut roast to slice cold.

The best part of summer is making the most of the outdoors while the weather is fine. I intend to go off meandering….a lot….there are more Open Garden events, Well Dressings, Galas and just generally having a mooch around towns and villages…..down alley ways, over bridges – there is so much to discover and June is a good time to do it.

Scotland will also be on the list this month and another trip to North Yorkshire.

Finally I have booked the appointment with the financial adviser – I am interested to know what he makes of our situation and I am hoping that he will point us in the right direction for a few good investments.

There is plenty to do before his visit – collecting all the information together of our income, outgoings and assets – not a bad exercise anyway as it will help to keep this handy should anyone ever need it.

June is interspersed with appointments for this and that but in between I am hoping for some days when I can really get down to making a big difference in the house, cleaning and sorting. I know already on sunny days the garden will be beckoning me outside though – the temptation will be too much!

feasible :: May intentions

As last month was about preparing for Easter and the party, May is all about the Christening and catching up with myself – as much as I can.

But isn’t May just a wonderful month, even with all this rain – if April is full of promise of what is to come then May is just starting to deliver.  I have sprays of white lilacs in tight bud just waiting to bloom as soon as the rain leaves us and the sun returns.  I don’t mind the rain but I haven’t enjoyed being plunged back into the cold spell….again – at least the rain has refreshed the garden, while our recent holiday at the cottage in Scotland has refreshed me and now I am raring to go. 

So these are the intended  targets for this month on my to do list.

First on the list is the Christening dress. I have already cut the pattern for this and made a sample dress and on Sunday I will see Sweetie for a fitting. Fingers crossed there will not be many alterations needed.

I have yet to switch over my winter and summer clothes, and while I am doing this clean the wardrobe and perhaps send anything I know I will not wear again to the charity shop. The general housekeeping will be taking a back seat this month and DH is on catering management whilst I am busy sewing.

The garden in Scotland will now be taking care of itself for a while and I must turn my attentions to the garden here at home.  I bought a mini growing house for the tomato plants to give them some extra protection and warmth.   It needs putting together plus I have the lawn to feed and weed if the rain ever stops and some spring flowering shrubs to prune back.

Vodaphone contract – I have decided I need to get a cheap basic contract that allows me some data and access to the internet on my phone. PAYG is far too expensive to use the internet.

Book the financial appointment – this is still to do – bearing in mind we went to the pension seminars in March! The information we gained then is slowly fading in my mind.

One of my favourite places to go for a day out is the Open Gardens… and this weekend it will be the group village open gardens at Little Ouseburn in North Yorkshire.

My second favourite is the Well Dressings in Derbyshire and this will be on my list to visit one during May.

So I am keeping my list quite short this month as the Christening weekend and making the dress will take up most of my time. The house will need a good clean again afterwards but because I gave it a ‘good do’ for the party it will no doubt last a week or two.

I intend to go to my Yoga class on Tuesdays – I missed two classes whilst we were in Scotland and I feel ready for a good stretch again. My health plans never really got off the ground last month and I might not be able to do much this month but I am making plans for when I do have time.

And the knitting – well that is still in my basket – Sweetie will just have to stop growing for a while until I can get it finished. I didn’t do any knitting whilst I was at the cottage (caravan), I was usually too tired at night and the weather was too good not to go in the garden.

Well those are my plans – it is always interesting when I review my to do list at the end of the month to see what I did get done and what is still on the list.

Of course as regular readers can see I am having great fun with the new WordPress Block Editor – anyone from Blogger won’t know about the changes that have been introduced – I am not sure what I think about it yet but the normal classic version will be phased out soon so I thought I had better give it a go – I still cannot find out the reason for the missing spellchecker symbol on the dashboard….but it is a pain. Apologies for any errors and typo’s.

April review

April seems a long time ago now but I remember it as a very busy month; but then most of my months seem to be very busy…. I will reclass it as extremely, exhaustingly busy. By the end of the month I was flagging and ready for our few days away in Scotland. It was the party that made it both stressful and delightful in equal measures, colliding as it did with Easter.

But Easter Sunday was such a beautiful warm day and it meant we could hold the party outside; it was enjoyable too having an extended family gathering, lots of food and drink, lots of chatter and catching up with one another…. and an Easter Egg hunt. Just never again. How many times have I said that before.

So to recap on my intentions last month – did I have time to fufil them all?

April was all about the Spring flowers, Easter decorations and of course the party preparations. A really pleasant month with plenty of warm sunny days and so much bursting into life in the garden.

All though it was a lot of hard work the party came together quite well and I even managed to make a few individual quiches; the cake not so well but it was passable and tasted really good beneath all that sickly green fondant icing.

As soon as I was thinking about changing our menus for something a bit lighter the weather changed my mind, so during the cold spell we continued making soup. I was hoping that May would be warmer but we are now well into the month and no positive changes yet.

I spent a very pleasurable afternoon with glue and tissue paper making Easter eggs and butterflies for my Easter tree.

With so much going on I didn’t manage to finish the little jumper for Sweetie but I have ideas and fabric for her Christening dress – I will keep you posted on this one later…

….and I did make some very simple Easter cards.

Most of our cleaning was centred around making the place look presentable for the party and that included doing quite a bit of work in the garden. DH managed to get a lick of paint on both the front door and garage door though we are not satisfied that it is quite the right colour yet – it needs to be darker and a greyer tone than it is at the moment.

Health – the less said on this subject the better. I had intended to give myself a bit of a spring clean but time was limited and the house and garden won! Perhaps next month. I have continued with the Yoga class though – so that is a plus.

One of the highlights of April was an impromptu day out in Glossop – such an interesting place and not too far away from us – if you missed this post you can read about it here.

I suspect another heavy month for the bank balance in April. I did try to limit my spending and then caved in when I saw this magazine with the word ‘Treat’ on the cover…. it was calling to me and so I did just as it said – I treated myself! More on this subject in the April Tally post.

So all in all April was a success. The oven might still be ‘playing up’, the weather too, but the garden has started to come to life and that always lifts my spirits and I thoroughly enjoyed myself making things for Easter. Bliss.

As you may have noticed this is not my usual format – WordPress have just launched their new Block Editor and I couldn’t resist having a play around to see what it will do. I am not sure I will use this format for all my posts – it does allow you to switch back to what they call ‘classic’ but only for a while – it claims to do tables though which might prove interesting.

Oh…and there is no spellcheck/proof reader so any typos might just end up published!

fEAsible ~ April intentions

What a lovely month April is – like a bridge between winter being well behind us and the promise of a warm and sunny summer to come.

As we are already six days into the month and we have a family party coming up on Easter Sunday me thinks my intentions this month will have to be limited and swiftly executed.

sEAsons

Another season upon us and another time of celebration coming up with Easter being near to the end of the month…a time for swapping a few decorations and accessories around in the house; putting away woolly hats, gloves and scarfs (I keep trying and then have had to bring them out again) and a few winter ornaments and bringing out something more colourful that reflects this season more.   I have in mind to do some Easter decor this year as it looks so pretty in the magazines; a twiggy branch maybe with painted or decorated Easter eggs and a host of flowers.  I have ideas (then I always have ideas – just not the time!).

crEAting

I really must complete the little hooded jumper I started before Sweetie has grown out of it, and she is growing fast (nicknamed pudding for the moment, but not in earshot).

  I have in mind to do some more cards and finish the Easter cards I started.  I am going to try to print my own Easter greetings to stick on this time as I have not found anything appropriate in the shops.    I only send a few out to family that I know look forward to receiving them and one or two friends that I like to keep in contact with more than just a card at Christmas.

My next big project will be to make some progress on the Christening gown for Sweetie.  I have some ideas for the design – my daughter would like it to be similar to our traditional vintage family gown and we have already bought the cotton lace, I just need to find some fabric and cut a pattern.

fEAsting

I am assuming that by the end of April we will be enjoying salad once again and some lighter meals.  I have put on a few pounds recently over the winter months and I am ever hopeful that they will drop off once we are not eating the calorie dense winter foods.  That is my theory anyway…if the change of diet doesn’t work I shall have to do something more drastic.  I have already swapped back to the fat-free yoghurt for breakfast and soon with a change of menu we will be eating fewer potatoes and starchy veg.

Don’t ask me how (it wasn’t exactly at gun point) but I find that I have agreed to hold my SIL’s 40th birthday celebrations at our house as theirs is even smaller (and if you remember has all new cream carpets laid!).   It will be mostly family… approx 20 people but even so I shall need to make the house and garden presentable, not perfect …it would never be that, but presentable.   My daughter is going to order most of the buffet food from M&S, because I cannot guarantee that our oven would be working, and MIL is chipping in with pies and scotch eggs.  I may have mentioned before that sometimes my oven heats up and sometimes it doesn’t but certainly is not reliable enough to cope with getting food cooked on time for a party.  His birthday coincides with Easter Sunday so we will be doing an Easter egg hunt too for the grandchildren, and nephew.

It is looking like the new pantry is going to be put on hold yet again!

homestEAd

At least with the appearance of Spring I can escape into the garden for a while to release the stress.  I have a few new plants to put in that I bought with my voucher.  There are a few gaps to fill in and I would like to add a little more colour.   I have seeds to sow too, tomatoes and courgettes, hopefully this weekend.  If the weather is right I will also be treating the lawns with some feed and weed; for one reason or another we didn’t get it done last year.

clEAn and lEAn

DH, under careful supervision, will be getting underway with the outdoor spring clean and painting the front door (in time for the party) …. and if it has dried out the new shed. Meanwhile I will be having a thorough clean in the main rooms, tracking down cobwebs and wiping down the woodwork to freshen the place up ready for the party.  Last month I had begun clearing and cleaning the office but that will have to wait now as no-one will be going in there – I will just do that old trick of closing the door.

mEAndering

Looking at our agenda for the month I think there will be little time for any trips so our Scottish visit will now have to wait until after Easter as I really don’t feel I can squeeze too much in.  My sister is away again next week so I may be called upon to go up and see mum for a day or two as she is not getting out by herself now other than across the road to the little shop for her paper and the Deli for a morning coffee.  Last Saturday while we were up in North Yorkshire at my daughters we took her out to Saltburn for lunch and Sandsend for a drink and a Yorkshire curd tart (they were delicious) and she was so grateful to get out for a while.  We had a lovely day.

Most importantly I have to look for suitable fabric for the Christening dress – Fabric shops are rare now but there are places in Bradford and Harrogate so we will treat it as a nice day out at the same time and see where we end up.

hEAlth

During the time I am at home I have in mind to give myself a bit of a spring clean with a juice detox for a day followed by a brown rice and vegetable diet for a few days as this is very cleansing and full of vitamins and minerals.  My system feels a bit sluggish after the winter.

I will be keeping up with the Yoga, it has proved beneficial and I intend to do extra sessions at home.

trEAsury

No big plans for this month other than to mind the spending and buy nothing that is not a considered purchase.  DH has already been doing some utility switching with the fuel companies; he has also been preparing to leave BT when the contract ends in May.  We have been looking at a new company with a good customer service record.  It is not the cheapest but sounds reliable and is far cheaper than BT can offer us to renew.

We will be seeing the financial advisor after which we can make some serious headway with investing the money we have saved towards our retirement and make decisions about the cottage.

Meanwhile we are still working out ways to save as much money as we can or should I say ways to spend less money.  I will talk more about this more on my March tally post.

 

So that is my list of intentions for April – it is always interesting for me to see what I managed to accomplish at the end when I look back over the month.  I keep trying not to pack too much in and keep a balance of rest and play but then find I am caught up in other people’s agendas…. but when it is family that need a helping hand I do like to help out where I can.

How are your plans going?

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

fEAsible ~ March intentions

(of what I need to or would like to do this month)

In the words of the great Tolstoy from Anna Karenina – “Spring is the time of plans and projects.”
As the weather begins to lose that cold, nippy air and the mornings begin lighter and brighter, this month is often the time of year when everyone feels that great urge to have a good spring clean – shaking off the winter in more ways than one.  And although not technically Spring until 20th March this year I am going with the Meteorological Spring which began on the first. Most of my intentions for March are centred around a revival of one kind or another; myself, the garden and the house.

appEArance

As we are approaching a new season I feel I need to give myself a bit of  a makeover again appearance wise, especially to lose those few extra winter pounds that creep on from nowhere.   I have already had a haircut recently and gone just a teeny bit shorter but my skin needs a bit of attention now as those cold winter months and long days of the central heating blasting away drying the air do nothing much for it; a facial perhaps and maybe I will give those Yoga face exercises a go and try to contort my sagging jowls into something a little tighter and lifted. I have also signed up for a weekly yoga class starting sometime later this month in the village as part of my ‘transition’ into retirement living.  I will keep you posted on this one.

homestEAd

Like me the garden also needs a bit of attention in one or two areas.  There are plants to remove that are not doing too well – a Hydrangea on a windy corner that needs replacing with something a bit more robust and a straggly rose in a warm spot by the fence where I intend to grow my outdoor tomatoes this year.  We  also have unwanted twitch grass poking its way up through cracks in our path which definitely needs to go.

In the front garden we have an Amelanchier, which at one time was a beautiful tree but sadly succumbed to Honey fungus – we had to chop it down and treat the area of earth around where it grew with some concoction that you can buy specially, but so horrendous I thought it might render the whole garden barren.  Surprisingly from a piece of remaining root it has started to regrow without any signs of the fungus but as a multi-stem shrub rather than a tree.  It needs a bit of thinning out and the height reducing – but I will wait until the blossom falls first.

The Buddleia also need to be pruned harder to reduce the height – I never prune them too hard until winter has passed and Spring has a firm hold.

I always like to have a good Spring clean outdoors as winter passes so the paths will be pressure washed to remove all the grime and that green coating of algae that has accumulated then I will ask DH to get the big ladder out and wash down the plastic drainpipes and gutters and maybe persuade him to wash the windows too.

The front door is on the list too for a coat of paint  – this project was abandoned once the weather turned last November but as soon as it remains dry and warm again for a few days we might grab the chance to finish it.

We definitely need to move on the pantry  – we have advanced and chosen all the units and worktops – they are just to collect from IKEA.  Before that we shall get the little room stripped of the old tiles and wallpaper and ready to decorate. (Another little job for DH – but keep that one quiet!)

clEAn and lEAn

Whilst DH cleans the outside I will be giving the inside a good Spring clean from top to bottom – but I know I have limited time this month so I will be selective in the areas I choose to do.  As I have been working steadily on the office / craftroom recently, having a major decluttering session, making it much leaner I will continue focusing here.  I have already been clearing out old papers, craft stuff and books but there is still much to do.  I include my computer in this task (only because I mainly use it in this room) for a bit of a digital declutter too.  It is an easy job to sit in the evenings doing a few folders and clearing out a lot of old document files but there is more to do…much more.

crEAtive

As I have chosen the office/ craft room to declutter it makes sense to get some of those half started sewing projects finished.  I have tea cosies cut out to complete and one or two items of clothing to mend.

At last I have started knitting again after more than twenty years – all you bloggers out there have been my inspiration to have another go.  I chose an easy Sirdar pattern – a little jumper for Sweetie for the Autumn – and so far so good, I have remembered how to cast on, knit a rib and do a simple stocking stitch.  Things did get a bit tricky when it came to decreasing for the armholes and casting off but thanks to Google I managed to get the gist of what I needed to do and have only had one dropped stitch I had to rectify.  The front and back are complete and it actually looks like a jumper – my aim is to finish this project by the end of March.

trEAsury

I had a good month last month as far as our coffers are concerned.  I moved ISA’s around for better rates and closed old accounts down.  As is often the case we were broken off in mid flow because of our trip to Scotland and now mum’s visit.  I should really make more notes of where I get too as interruptions are a common occurrence for me now and my memory not so good.  I still have two mature ISA’s to find new homes for this month but as usual I have been dithering about how long to fix them for.  No interest rate is outstanding not even for a five-year fix.

Another ‘transition’ for us is living on a pension.  For the last two months after careful management of our meagre income we have had money leftover at the end of each pension payment but my aim now is to put away 10% or more when we receive it – a standing order will be hopeless for this as you know the pension dates are 4 weekly, not calendar monthly, so I may have to do the putting away bit manually each month unless anyone has any brilliant ideas on how to manage this otherwise.

fEAsting

I noticed from my calendar this month is packed with those little celebratory moments – Shrove Tuesday, Mothering Sunday, the first day of Spring and St Patrick’s Day.  I will be making pancakes of course and adjusting our menus as we move forward into Spring –  I am not ready to give up our warming lunchtime soup just yet but I feel the need to make  our meals generally a little lighter – so I am on the hunt for new recipes that fit the bill for this months menu plans.  I must also look at making my own biscuits or buns to freeze – although we don’t eat many sweet things they do go well with a flask of hot chocolate when we are out and about and it will save us a few pounds on the grocery bill in bought biscuits.

mEAndering

This will most likely be another trip to Scotland fairly soon – we have a huge amount to do up there.  I will be posting an update soon but this last visit was rather rushed so the pictures of the cottage I meant to take for the update never happened.

Whilst mum is here we will be having a nice day out in Derbyshire – probably Buxton or Tissington or maybe both as it is a while since we  have been there.

So there you have my best of intentions for the month – I am always hopeful of what I might achieve by the end and by making plans at the beginning  it keeps me much more focused.

 

 

fEAsible ~ the importance of lists

I mentioned in my previous post that I had been planning – most of my planning still takes place in my ancient A5 planner  – I was introduced to planners at work in the 80’s, it came with my promotion – a leather ‘Time System’ planner but the better known Filofax is very similar and more recently the Bullet Journal system is now the new time planner, only more decorative.Everything was recorded in my planner – both for work and home and I didn’t go anywhere without it.  I still smile now when I remember those early days of time management planners – whenever I attended a meeting for work everyone else would arrive carrying theirs too and we would end the meeting synchronizing planner time!  I still use mine out of habit –  paper has always been my thing.

My planner is divided by a series of sections and each is full of ideas, lists and tasks – at the end of the day there is something very satisfying about making a little tick mark against a completed task, especially a task that has been rolling over week after week from one list to another most annoyingly.

ListsRecently I bought a book titled L’art de la Liste by the same author Dominique Loreau who wrote L’art de la Simplicité: How to Live More with Less.  She throws a whole new perspective on my love of lists.  She likens a list to a haiku (an expressive Japanese poem) or a journal as it becomes a record of your life and suggests the advantage of making lists allows us to rethink and restructure our ideas.

After a recent clear out I found a stack of my old to do lists and notes, which I have put aside to shred or burn on the cottage bonfire.  They can be quite enlightening and a reminder of what I have actually done with my time over the years.  After reading the book I may decide not burn them after all – but then that is not in keeping with a simple and minimalistic lifestyle…

– so such is my dilemma.

My word for the year is ‘transition’   as I am currently undergoing a period of big changes so my transformation to a simpler more streamlined home and lifestyle will require new routines that fit better with my new life.  Streamlining is an ongoing task and a bit like peeling away the layers of an onion.  It requires a slow steady approach and to help support my clearing out, paring down and keeping order I need to prevent future piles of stuff from reforming and building up again when I have an unexpected busy period or take my eye off the ball – which I know I will do.

Clutter spots seem to be contagious in this house and my main enemies are the washing and ironing pile, the finances, incoming emails and reading blogs and leaving comments – if I get busy they don’t get done.

So when I read the simple advice in The Joy of Less by Francine Jay to have a daily maintenance plan I knew this was the answer, after all I have time now in the mornings to do more as I am no longer rushing out to work.  Taking a few minutes each day to address the problem areas should help to keep the house in good order.  So this is my basic list:-

  • Put on one load of washing – this must be a full load where possible to save water and energy and is not always necessary every day but checking is.
  • Ironing – iron whatever I washed the day before
  • Finances – enter the receipts, balance statements and action anything waiting to be dealt with.
  • Check and reply to or delete incoming emails for the day
  • Blog comments – I include this in the list as keeping up with blogs I read and making comments is better done daily otherwise I find I have too much catching up to do.

I thought it important as well to throw in a bit of daily self-care – something that I should do more of but… oh well you know how it is – so I made a start by adding these to the list:-

  • Take supplements – currently my Vitamin D with my breakfast
  • Eat one apple a day – my contribution to a healthy diet and usually my mid morning snack
  • Exercises – at the moment I am following Posture Queen’s Somatic exercises to help my neck and shoulders, hips and knees.

I began my new routine in the New Year  – I switched my week on two pages diary in my planner for a page a day style, with more space I can keep a daily check list that I tick off as I go and this does help me to keep on track and stick to it.  When my routine was a bit disrupted last week with the arrival of baby X  I didn’t end up with a huge backlog of jobs as I was already on top of things.

I am really pleased – it could be working.

I am sure once my new routines are established I can add in a few more.  Getting the daily jobs done and out-of-the-way should leave me more time for the fun things in life.