homestead :: inspired and tired

Have you ever been inspired by a friend – one who can launch you into action? 

As you know we went to see some old friends last Thursday in the dales.  One of the reasons for the trip was to have a grand tour of their new home that they have had built for them.  It has been four years in the making but is absolutely stunning – well out of our price range and even though they are a few years older than us, they have chosen to upsize rather than downsize which means they will be able to accommodate their whole family at Christmas which will be lovely. Not that I am envious! One advantage is they are now able to enjoy their retirement to the full knowing the whole house and garden are pretty much in a finished state – no big maintenance jobs, no decorating – it is all done.

At one time this friend lived just down the road from us and I would visit a few times during the week when both our girls were at school – popping in and out for coffee and a chat.  I remember how visits to her house always made me want to rush home and have a thorough clean of mine.  She is one of life’s naturally organised people – her home is immaculate, her meals healthy and delicious, the garden flourishing and their finances in order and buoyant and she still has time for herself and her craft work.  She is very imaginative when it comes to reusing, repairing and repurposing too and this is evident even in their new house.

Their new abode is light and spacious – under floor heating from solar panels, lights that dim by remote and objects and furniture kept to a minimum.  Coming back home made my house seem small and cluttered even though I keep on having major decluttering sessions, but not only that I began noticing areas that do need some attention – a little editing and improving.

So guess what I have been doing all week and how tired I feel!

As I said to Sadie (Notes from an ordinary life) if I am ever missing from my blog you will know I am decluttering and cleaning.  It takes all my concentration and I stop for no-one, well usually, although I did spend the day with little Freddie again yesterday – but who could resist that.

I have a number of challenging areas around the house and I have spent this last week trying to organise these better.

My first challenge was to find a new place to put the Easter decoration that I made so I can use it once more next year. In the end I decided on top of the wardrobe in the spare room as it has a high ceiling and blends in quite well. Really I should dismantle it but it is so pretty I wanted to display it again next year.

Challenge number two was this box containing my elder daughter’s CD player and speakers. We have stored this now for 10 years because my daughter’s house is much smaller than ours and up until the baby was born this year was like a building site. Even now she really doesn’t have a spare inch to accommodate it – so it will remain with us until some point in the future when they move to a larger place. It has been residing in the downstairs cloakroom with everything else that didn’t have a proper place; as you know we are in the process of transforming this into a pantry so I have to find a new home for it. Because of the temperature fluctuations it is not something I would store in the loft so it presented quite a problem.

After much trying it here and there I came up with the idea that it would not look quite so bad if it was in a more decorative box that wouldn’t look out of place in the spare room. So during a trip to Ikea on Monday I spotted these boxes and although it needed two of them it has done the trick and visually looks so much neater. I will be able to use these afterwards to store toys for the grandchildren.

Whilst in Ikea I saw these little Christmas tins for 75p each and I thought they would be just right to put in a few homemade biscuits or a tiny fruit cake for a gift.

I started my cleaning and decluttering in the shower room – this is on the list for a complete renovation but not until we get a new kitchen installed and that is after the pantry. I won’t linger on how grubby it felt – it is never my favourite job. The contents of the cupboard are pretty much pared down but even so I still managed to weed out a few bits and pieces – old sun tan lotions and tanning creams past their use by date. When I declutter the toiletries and makeup items I always keep a ‘use up’ box of odds and ends that need using up, a lot of these are often freebies that have come with a purchase, things I won’t be replacing or buying again but I don’t want to waste them.

The shower always takes a long time to clean but the sealant had been renewed when we had the Aussie cousin to stay and the grout is OK so it just needed a bit of elbow grease to thoroughly clean the tiles and glass. After cleaning the toilet and basin – I always use a squirt of furniture polish over the outside of the pottery and the taps to give it that showroom gleam.

I treated myself to a new bath mat from Home Sense which has much improved the appearance of this room. The old one was looking past its best and looked liked someone had taken a bite out of one corner!

My linen cupboard was next – there was nothing to go out here as I am already down to the bare minimum of sheets and duver covers but I cleaned down the shelves and rearranged a few things so it looks remarkably fresher. I bought the boxes from the Range and they have been very useful for storing the family heirlooms – Christening dresses, vintage linens and my wedding dress.

The craft drawer that holds my stash of fabric had a once over- one day I will get around to turning my fabric stash into a patchwork quilt!

As I made my way from room to room decluttering and cleaning I also made a note of things to look out for to add a bit of styling. I found this tiny succulent in Ikea to put in our family bathroom. When I have a moment or two I will also change some of the pictures. I bought a couple of new frames in the summer with the intention of printing out and framing some of our photos – another job for my list.

It is very much a work in progress – a thorough clean and tidy and the addition of one or two new items can make all the difference. I am loving the rooms I have completed so far but soon I will have to tackle the office come craft room – it is the hardest place with the large paper mountain.

One sleepless night at the weekend I decided that I really must embrace the scanner and scan the invoices and receipts that I wish to keep rather than put them into a folder or box. I know many people do not keep their receipts but ever since the flood at the cottage I was so thankful that I have always kept receipts and records – because of this we managed to get the full amount for our damaged contents and could not be beaten down by the insurers. As the insurers were satisfied with scanned receipts I am sure this method will be accepted should we ever need to make a claim in the future. Once the older receipts for our household goods are scanned on to the computer I will have a lever arch file and a box file less on the shelves. It is a bit of a tedious job so I am scanning a handful each morning and going forwards new receipts will be done each week.

Once this is done I will make a start in the filing drawer and scan on important papers to gain more space. A lot of the paperwork I keep is ‘just in case’ so once scanned I will still have a record without the storage problem.

My wardrobe will be the next place for an overhaul. I have reduced the number of items by quite a bit this year. I seem to wear a kind of ‘uniform’ each day of leggins and a t shirt or jumper now I am at home; I can’t remember the last time I wore a skirt, which is a shame because I have quite a pile of them. Last time I decluttered I let a number of them go to charity but I think it might be time to cut my losses now and get rid of a few more. I will start by getting rid of the ones that feel a little bit on the tight side.

I found another cosy jumper in Sainsbury’s last week – good to wear around the house over a t shirt and for my Friday visits to the neighbour.

One of my intentions this month was to try out some new recipes. This week I chose these little mushroom and leek pies. The recipe used a shortcrust pastry that had added mustard powder for flavour. DH was not keen so I improvise and used grated Parmesan cheese that have given them this speckled look. They are baked in a muffin tin so are quite deep. Apologies for the lighting it has made the pies look a bit insipid – they were actually a lovely golden brown colour and quite delicious.

October is all birthdays – I have three this week alone. I already had the gifts for two of them bought in Stranraer at Baxters where they still gift wrap. They are little printed linen make up bags. The crocus tub is for a dear friend, men are always difficult to buy for but he is a gardener so will love these.

Because of all the birthdays I needed cards so I spent a day making some with the flowers I pressed recently, I also made a few thank you notelets at the same time. Some work better than others but my favourite has to be the chamomile heads.

So that has been my week so far and tomorrow, like the rain, the tidying continues whilst the momentum continues. Or you might find me napping on the sofa. x

dear diary :: a day of accomplishments

I had a rather disproportionate feeling of accomplishment yesterday to the amount of things I actually got done but it felt good to do something and move forward.

The washer is now working a treat and together with the warm wind I managed to wash and line dry a couple of loads so I have a pile of fluffy white towels waiting to go into the airing cupboard and an assortment of clothes to iron.

It is important that I keep up the daily routines I have developed since leaving work even when they seem to go astray or I have to abandon them for a while; checking emails, doing the ironing, shining the sink, entering receipts, planning the meals, taking my supplements, eating an apple – they bring a sense of accomplishment each day in themselves – if anything else gets done then that is a sure win.

We emptied the old cloakroom of its contents – this is only a small part of it above in the picture. It was a bit like Mary Poppin’s bag once we delved in there and now the stuff, that was once quite contained in the smallest room of the house, has spread itself into every free corner throughout the kitchen, dining area and living room resembling that expanding foam when you release it from the tube. I am looking at it wondering if it will all fit back in when it becomes the pantry.

Of course not everything is due to go back and it is this stuff I must deal with. I have decided that a car boot sale is the way to go as we have things not easy to sell by means of ebay because of the weight and I would rather try and get rid of it all in one day rather than string it out. We have a lack of boot sales round us so I am looking to go to Bedale near my daughter. They hold one every Saturday until mid October – she says it is quite a good one and she has room to store the stuff in her house until we have a nice collection together, and she can add in some of her unwanteds.

Once empty DH set too like the guy Jonathan you may have seen on the program Buying and Selling and within no time had hacked the tiles off the wall and then created himself a little sauna with the wallpaper steamer going full pelt.

The wallpaper is now scraped off but we need to remove the old patchy magnolia paint beneath until we get back to the bare plaster; then we will have a good sound surface to apply the paint on the walls.

Whislt he was working away I enjoyed a relaxing couple of hours with my neighbour catching up with news and airing our thoughts on the state of the country. I am not a very political person but I am worried about our politicians at the moment and the fact that we are being led into unknown territory and what is the real motive for this. It is rather overwhelming especially when I feel what we need is a bit of stability and reassurance.

Enough said on that topic.

I tried a new recipe for tea – it worked out well and tasted delicious, a relatively simple and inexpensive meal using red lentils, sweet potato, red peppers and mushrooms with halloumi cheese slices placed on top. The picture does not do it justice – the one in the magazine looks much more appetising! I will certainly be including it in our meals for the coming season. I will put the recipe up under the new Recipe tab above.

I have an assortment of recipe clippings to file away in my folders – so that will be a job for today. I have the guest bedding washed and waiting to go out on the line – it looks a dry sunny day here so far. Then I am going to look at the finances, reviewing last months figures and planning for September.

August seemed a long month but I am sad we are at an end as it signifies the end of summer too. The mornings are seeing a definite change now and a lot of the flowers are already dying back. But there is something quite comforting in nature as it always continues from one season to another and we adapt to the changes; always looking forward to repeating those little pleasurable activities that come with each of the seasons and ones which we will no doubt have done many times before.

My favourite at this time of year is definitely blackberry picking and collecting the Bramley apples to make pies and crumbles, I am sure you will have your own too. I will mourn the end of summer whilst eagerly awaiting the cooler weather and darker nights – when I can snuggle down with blankets and candles by the fire and watch a few favourite period dramas.

Have a lovely day everyone. x

dear diary :: getting back into our stride

Getting back into normal daily life is proving more difficult than it should be and I am currently somewhere between feeling frazzled and lethargic. Both the car and the washing machine are waiting to be fixed, hence a growing pile of washing is building up, and the towels retrieved from the washer have eventually dried into such a rigid state they might crack if I try to fold them. They will have to be washed again I think as I have no idea where in the washing cycle they had got to before the machine ground to a halt.

To top it all the rain is now preventing us tackling jobs outside like cutting the grass and weeding the borders. The tomatoes are only just turning colour so a little more sunshine would be good. The lettuce seeds that Little L helped me sow last week have already sprung to life – what a shame she cannot see them. She was so helpful and loves to water the garden.

I thought this might be the opportunity I have been waiting for to make some cards and finish those half started knitting and sewing projects, but somehow in all the upset I feel going on around me I have little enthusiasm for crafts.

Our fridge is quite bare at the moment – a bit of a Mother Hubbard’s cupboard so some shopping today is required but it will be limited to the basics as it is the end of the month and funds are excessively low. Living on one state pension, even with the top up of a small private pension, is proving difficult as prices continue to rise and we face a few unexpected bills. We have also bought a number of cafe meals and cups of tea whilst trundling around the countryside of North Yorkshire over the Bank holiday with my mum – but she is truly grateful that we get to take her out.

As we have a run of days at home now before take off again I have proposed that we tackle the long awaited transformation of the downstairs cloakroom / toilet into the pantry. We never used the toilet and many of our neighbours have incorporated them into their kitchens to make them bigger but I would value more storage as a walk in pantry. We will be leaving all the necessary connections in place under the floor should a future owner want to return it to a downstairs cloakroom.

We have finally chosen and had the units for the new pantry delivered from IKEA and took advantage of their 0% interest deal; keeping our money in the bank longer. Unfortunately the shop assistant made an error with the application so the total amount was more than the actual goods – when I pointed out her mistake it was too late to amend the application and so the monthly payments are higher than they should be by a few pounds and we are £54 in credit! Obviously it will get sorted but really they should not have people dealing with money that cannot add up.

DH will set about stripping wallpaper and tiles off the walls but not until I have emptied the room of all the ‘junk’ – it has become a bit of a dumping ground – a place to put those things that are waiting for a home. There is even a couple of boxes of stuff in there I have been storing for one of my daughters.

So this looks like my task for today before we go shopping. I can make a start whilst waiting for the washing machine engineer to come. I think doing a bit of decluttering and tidying is just what I need at the moment to organise my brain.

Have a good day – I will be back with photos. x

dear diary :: ready to go

A much calmer day yesterday. I decided in the end to drive over to Leeds just after lunch and have the bloods done. The journey wasn’t too bad going, about an hour, and there was no one waiting in the waiting room for blood tests – in fact I panicked and thought they might have finished for the day as it was 3.15 in the afternoon but they finish at 5 o’clock so all was well.

We didn’t even have to pay for parking as we have discovered a road not far from Jimmy’s that is free for 2 hours and there is often the odd spot vacant, so DH drops me off and then goes and waits until I call him.

Now it is fingers crossed for the results – I always stress a bit, even after 10 years, but hopefully the Thyroxine medication I take has done its job of suppressing any remaining cancer cells. It has worked up to now.

On the way home we stopped at Ikea and had our free drinks. Afterwards I popped into Boots to stock up on cottonwool as it is curretly 3 for 2 and then to Wilkos for a pack of wooden lolly sticks. After that it was home via Sainsbury’s for the petrol and I have bought a couple of cheap plain t-shirts £4 each for working in the garden.

DH has thrown away his old slippers – he has had them for more years than we care to remember – so long in fact that most of the rubber soles were no longer attached to the uppers. He had even contemplated sticking them back together but some of the sole had worn right through in places to a hole! So even he had to admit defeat as we could not think of an alternative use for them other than melting the rubber soles down to make something – he is ever the conservationist even down to his slippers!

But I was rather horrified later to look down whilst he was driving to Leeds and notice that he had not as yet thrown away the old trainers and even though we had bought new ones yesterday he was still wearing the old ones that should have, in my mind, joined the slippers in the bin! I live in hope.

My final task today was to rearrange a hairdressing appointment for when we return and see if my next renewal prescription is available online (thanks to Ann for that reminder) as I feel I need to stock pile my Thyroxine in case Brexit goes sour as I cannot live without this medication – it would be like taking insulin away from a diabetic – I am dependant on it as I no longer have a Thyroid gland and there is only one brand that does not have fillers that make me feel worse.

So with everything packed but the food I think you can say we are ready to go and by the time you read this we should be on our way. The house will be tidy and ready for our house guest whilst we are away.

I came to my decision about my blog and the pesky ads and have taken out a paid plan. So I will be remaining on WordPress for the time being and see how it goes. My new address is much the same but the WordPress.com has been dropped – so you will find me at my new address – wherethejourneytakesme2.blog – I am told if you use the old address you will be redirected. It may take a day or two for the changes so I hope it will be a smooth change over and hopefully, other than the address and no ads, you shouldn’t notice any difference.

It is a bit like moving house really but I didn’t need a solicitor.

Have a great weekend x

dear diary :: here, there and everywhere

What should have been a calm day yesterday spent packing and preparing turned into a bit of a frenzy.

The morning began with a little blogging, a little ironing and I also stripped the bed completely (mattress protector included) and put the washer on to make the most of the warm weather. So far so good…..

I was busy working slowly down the task list and making a pile of the clothes to take with us on our spare room bed when suddenly a car drew up outside and who should get out but our dear old friend Uncle Crisp (our daughter’s nickname for him not ours and who was best man at our wedding). He was on his way back up to Skye and thought he would drop in to see us. It was lovely that he did and we caught up on news and old times.

Then elder daughter appeared with little Freddie too.

As you can imagine from this point on not a lot got done. Uncle Crisp left and we had a late lunch and then DH and I went off to town for his dental appointment to replace an old filling. Afterwards we had to look for new slippers and some casual shoes / trainers for DH. It is usual that he leaves this kind of shopping to the last minute. He is no shopper. In fact he sees nothing wrong with his old trainers – he has had them for years, they are comfortable, well worn in and serve the purpose – but look to me like they need to go in the bin!

Two hours later with a renewed filling, new slippers and new trainers we came back home. But not much packing had got done.

However, the washing was dry.

But we both had a senior moment and forgot to remember to go for petrol – as we have a Sainsbury’s coupon to use for 10p off a litre and need a full tank to go to Scotland..

To add to my frenzy the blood envelope that was supposedly posted out to me last Friday (but had a post mark of Monday) arrived with the postman during the afternoon – far too late to consider going over to Leeds to have the blood taken. I had mentioned to them the urgency as we were going away but it never really registers! I need to have the blood taken before my holiday for the consultant’s appointment the day after we get back.

So all in all a strange day full of interuptions and as a consequence we are having to rethink our course of action and possibly delay our trip up to Scotland by a day as I feel otherwise we will be leaving here with a lot of loose ends that I haven’t managed to sort yet and that for me would be more stressful than having a day less holiday.

And I have still to work out just when we go over to Leeds for my blood tests. Life can feel like it is working against you some days.

To top it all it was green bin night – DH has a mental block over this since they moved it from Monday night to Wednesday night. Luckily I remembered in time so he wouldn’t have to go chasing after them with the wheelie bin in the morning.

Today should be a quieter day for me to finish the packing, clean round the house and move the pots in the garden out of the full sun. As everyone now thinks we will have left for Scotland we shouldn’t have any unexpected interuptions.

We will have to have my bloods done and get the petrol en route to Scotland tomorrow I think, unless we can get over to Leeds this afternoon. Although Leeds is only about 18 miles away St James hospital is out on the other side to us and it can take us up to 2 hours to get there depending on the traffic and the M62.

It is warm and sunny here today but with a strong cool breeze – I was hoping for a little rain overnight to fill up the water butt ready for our hand over to the neighbours to do the watering should it turn hot, but none came. Another job then for the list (well DH’s list)- to top it up with the hose pipe.

Using Opera browser to access Todoist is brilliant – it produces a clear PDF print of the whole list without all the header and footers cluttering it up. So I am all set with my ‘old fashioned’, non techie paper packing list to finish the packing today and I will feel pleasantly jubilant as I tick off each item.

We have already made nutloaf and soup to take (tick,tick) and over the last year have discovered by trial and error the best meals to make in the caravan using the calor gas oven so I have a little menu plan in my head for these.

So we are almost all set to go – what can go wrong now…..?

I can’t wait to get up there, unpack and flake out……now did I pack those gardening gloves?

dear diary :: catching up with life at home

I am back at home now. Looking out of my window this morning the world outside was damp and grey with a blanket of fog. I wondered what was best to do with my time. It certainly wasn’t gardening weather so I opted for pottering about the house. There is always plenty to do and although we arrived home last Thursday night I have not completely unpacked yet – not through laziness (well maybe a little) but once home I seemed to hit the ground running.

One of the reasons for coming home was to attend my extra six week Therapeutic Yoga classes I signed up for on a Friday afternoon. These classes are all about breathing – breathing into different areas that correspond with the chakras, concentrating on how the breath feels and making notes. After completing a series of yoga positions we breathe into those same areas again and notice the difference, breathing is deeper and easier and it is amazing how different you feel….more alive, relaxed, open – I am so glad I decided to do this course and will carry on in my own time when it comes to an end next week.

After the class I was feeling exceptionally calm and relaxed so it was a bit of a shame that DH and I had to pop down to town to buy some food for the weekend – an hour in Sainsbury’s isn’t condusive to relaxation but we needed to stock up with fresh fruit and vegetables. At the moment I am making quite simple meals, fresh vegetables with chickpeas in a stock for flavour and a little brown rice mixed in, last night was roasted vegetables with couscous and tonight a brown lentil stew with sweet potato and leeks and a thick chunk of bread.

Last Saturday was a day spent finishing some half started projects. DH has been fitting a door knob and lock to the new shed door and we brought the cooker down from the cottage to replace the one at home here. Although it had survived both the flood and being put in a skip it has stood in the conservatory all this time with no real home. As some readers will know my oven here at home as been on the blink for some months getting hot one day and not another. On the days it refused to heat up we resorted to using the small oven but this was not ideal as it did not cook meals that well. So we managed to heave the cooker into the back of our car to bring down home. Once we had given it a thorough wipe down (it is still like new) our electrician son-in-law helped to swap them over and wired it in. The old one will be no use to anyone and it is well over 20 years old and was second hand to us from my sister.

I like things that last a long time there are so many products that are disposable these days.

The replacement cooker from the cottage is a very basic stainless steel Zanussi with old fashioned solid hotplates and no separate grill but at least the oven works. We bought it new when we first had the cottage and we chose something quite robust in case we let the cottage out. It will do us fine until we can replace our kitchen and buy a new intergrated one.

To freshen it up I put sliced oranges in a bowl of water with a few drops of lemon oil, placed it in the oven and turned the oven on. The aroma was gorgeous and now the inside smells clean and fresh too.

And now I have an oven that works I feel like trying some new recipes again so have been revisiting old cookery books.

In and amongst I have been doing a little housekeeping inside – hoovering, sweeping and washing floors….. and socks….

…..and a little housekeeping outside – deadheading the annuals in pots, feeding the plants and tying in the wandering clematis.

I also cut and tagged the pale pink and white aquilegia and the bunches are hanging upside down in the shed to dry out so I can collect the seed.

The garden is looking lovely and buzzing with bees – my peonies had burst into life whilst we were away – I had waited for this moment for so long now watching the buds grow and fatten…and now they are simply beautiful and I cannot stop admiring them… they are just in the right spot to see them from my kitchen window as I wash up. What a shame they are usually over very quickly but for the moment I can just stand and stare.

The lettuce and courgettes are just about ready for picking and my seeds have sprouted – we just need a little more sun.

Tomorrow it is my usual yoga class and on Wednesday I will see the doctor about my knee as up to now it is not getting any easier. DH has to have his front tyres changed this week – more expense but overall I think our spending has been a bit lighter during June even with the trip to Scotland.

We have plans to try and look at kitchens again while the summer sales are on, at the same time we are trying to progress our cottage plans and arrange some time between commitments to have our summer holiday. Oh and not to forget making progress again on the pantry.

dEAr diary ~ a shortage of time

“I’m busy, man, too busy. There’s a lamentable absence of free time”.
Juan Pablo Montoya

Firstly welcome to my new followers and apologies for the longer than intended absence – I hadn’t actually intended an absence at all…of any kind, but there you are… it happened…and even though I have tried a few times to sit and write this post I have been unsuccessful each time in finishing it.  I seem to have been busy – a kind of business that involves a lot of this and that and not a lot of anything I would call really productive.

But surprisingly things have been getting done and as it has been a while since I last did a post I’ll just fill you in quickly.

Baby X now has a name but for the purpose of my blog I will be referring to him as Freddie.  His cousin Little L is fast growing into Big L now – but I just cannot refer to her as Big L so she will now be known on my blog as Libbie.  So there you have my merry little band of three grandchildren – Libbie, Sweetie and Freddie.

On the first Friday in February we set off mid morning for North Yorkshire to go to the village pantomime that my sister and her DH were taking part in.  The sun was shining and the traffic not too bad.  We treated ourselves to a Costa lunch of toasties at the Wetherby services as we were saving our homemade soup for tea at our daughter’s house.

We had a further stop in Thirsk for a walk around and a browse in my favourite independent book shop White Rose books.  I picked up a copy of this book for £3.99 reduced from £12.99 and bought a book token for my mum for her birthday, then on to Holland and Barrett to get a packet of yummy chocolate raisins for the pantomime later.Little Sew & SewThere are some delightful projects to make inside – I particularly like the embroidered peg bag.We had tea with my daughter and then set off for the panto with Libbie (Little L) who if you remember was ‘super’ excited – unfortunately the snow became very bad on the way through Bedale and we didn’t know whether to turn back or press on.  In the end we kept going and made it to the village hall to the north of Northallerton just in time for the start.

The panto was brilliant, Libbie laughed and cheered and clapped – she loved the fact her Uncle N was the baddy and Aunty A was Aladdin in a wonderful glittery costume.  It was a very fun night and afterwards we decided that we would try to get back to my daughter’s house outside Masham, rather than stay at my sisters.  A decision we may have lived to regret!  We took a longer alternative route back via the A1(M).  Two of the lanes were still running thanks to the lorries but once we got back onto the country lanes towards Masham it almost turned out to be a challenge too far as the snow was covering and becoming quite slippy and we were down to 20 mph.  Just after midnight we had got as far as Fearby but still had a few miles to go to Leighton Resevoir,  which is in the middle of nowhere on a road full of steep twist and turns and ungritted.  I am still not sure how we got up the final hill to my daughter’s farmhouse but with a wing and a prayer we did and of course stayed the night with her.  Libbie slept through the whole adventure in the back of the car – but never again. The next morning we woke to brilliant sunshine and the snow had started to melt.  The roads were clear once again and it was hard to believe it was the same place we had struggled to drive through in the early hours.  DH and Libbie went out to make snow castles and then we headed home stopping here and there to admire the beautiful views as we drove past the resevoir and back into Masham. Leighton Resevoir Fearby Since then I have been busy helping with little Freddie  – his mum, my elder daughter, had to go back again to hospital with her problem but hopefully all will be well now.

When I have had some free time I have been turning my attentions to jobs around the home  – It feels like an endless task list and I seem to have a number of projects on the go in each room but slowly it is all starting to come together.  I find that going back over a space I have already cleared often throws up more things that I no longer wish to keep.

The paperwork continues to be a headache and to add to this I have amassed a large number of files on my computer so I have been giving this a bit of a spring clean to get rid of old stuff and free up some space.   It is quite time-consuming going through a mass of folders but just like having a major clear out in my physical files clearing out my files on the computer feels just as good and I don’t have to bother shredding or burning it all.

I have also been giving our finances a bit of a makeover too, trying to simplify matters where I can and in doing so we were invited to a financial review with the Nationwide, our main banking and savings provider, and this proved quite useful.  We have transferred money to better interest accounts and closed down old ones no longer required.

We had a nice surprise too – the HMRC made an error with our marriage allowance application which has now been straightened out after a phone call and I await a cheque for £238 – every little helps. ValentineWe didn’t really celebrate Valentine’s day other than exchange cards.  I have had my Valentine card for a while now – I must have bought it a couple of years ago and then forgotten about it.  I often make my own but when I found it during a recent clear out I thought it would save me the job of making one and it is quite cute – I love the fact it has a little flask on the end of the bench – very appropriate for us now – I have no doubt this is what DH and I will look like in a few years time!

DH made one for me (he probably hadn’t thought about a card until the shops were shut) – but I think it is rather sweet and means so much more to me than a bought one.ValentinesThe meal planning continues and for some reason we have had a few pastry dishes.  The Carrot and Leek pasties were a hit and great for picnics – I will make them again –  and this week I made a cheese and tomato Quiche.Quiche QuicheTonight it is curry and it would have helped if I had known we didn’t have any curry paste in the cupboards.  We had to have a mad dash to the local supermarket but their range is limited so I had to buy a jar.  I am wondering if it will freeze – anyone tried this?

Hope everyone is well – I have been trying to keep up with all the blogs I visit though may not have commented very much.  I usually post a list of my monthly intentions at the beginning of the month but I might just start these again in March – February is not a long month and with the new baby each day has been a bit unpredictable for us so we have not been making many plans.

Back soon x

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

 

rEAdy, stEAdy…dash then crash

Today has been one of those days when you feel you are on overload and I spent the day dashing around trying to fulfil obligations.

The day began quite well – I woke early at 6am – it felt a little too early, I could have slept more but decided, as it is cooler at the beginning of the day, I would get up and just have a bit of a potter around the house putting oddments away.  I had little piles here and there throughout the house and an ironing pile that must be reaching a metre high – but although it is annoying me today was definitely not a day for ironing.

Most of my birthday flowers are still hanging on despite this heat – I have changed the water several times and removed any dead ones.  I love having so many about the house.  My daughter had also surprised me and put a tiny vase with a sprig of flowering lemon balm and thyme by my bedside yesterday.

Once the house looked a bit straighter I had a few errands to do in town.   I would not normally have chosen to go to town on a Friday, a very hot Friday too – the roads here are busy and congested – but I had to get cards, flowers and fairy wings (don’t ask!).

I also had to do a favour for my friend and neighbour who has just come out of hospital after a hip operation and after lunch I had planned a visit to see her.

Once in town I headed for Claire’s Accessories to look for fairy wings for my granddaughter’s birthday next week – they had an offer on of buy two items and get one free.  Even so they are not very cheap for what they are but will be just what is required for Little L’s 4th birthday next week when we go on our Fairy and Pixie adventure (can’t wait!)

I popped into Clinton’s and the Card Factory to look for cards.  I needed quite a few for different occasions – a 70th birthday, a moving house, a wedding card as my new neighbours are getting married, and a wedding anniversary, (actually I should have bought two of these – one for my own anniversary next week – but I forgot my own!).

Passing Waterstones I had a quick look at their cards and came out with a book (I know I shouldn’t have but after the week I’ve had I really felt a treat was a good idea to cheer me up).  Then it was across to Sainsbury’s – a quick check for fairy wings in case they had some cheaper ones (but nothing doing), picked up a bunch of flowers and the paracetamol for my neighbour, a couple of loaves of bread and a number 4 sparkler for Little L’s cake.

On my journey home the heat and heavy traffic was almost impossible to deal with and I am so thankful for the air conditioning in my new car.  I had to take a bit of a detour and stop by a friend’s house to deliver a birthday card for her partner – I was actually thankful they were not at home and I was able to put it through the letterbox and get back home sooner.

It was 2.30 pm when I eventually arrived home to find the telephone ringing – it was the heating engineer asking if we had decided on a date for them to come to change a part in our boiler (we hadn’t – but finally agreed on 17th as we have to work around having my mum and granddaughter and go to Scotland in August).

So it was a very quick lunch and then straight round to my neighbours – not forgetting to grab the bunch of flowers and paracetamol to take with me.  At least I always get a welcoming cup of tea there – this time made for me by her hubby who is acting nurse at the moment whilst she and her new hip are recovering.

After a bit of a chat I came home wrote all the cards, delivered the wedding card for my immediate neighbour and then at last sat down for 5 minutes and fell asleep for over an hour hoping that everyone had been given the right card for the right occasion!