sEAsons ~ winter is the time for home

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”
– Edith Sitwell

Ivy

RaindropsWe have had the icy cold days with a frosting of snow recently and then we had the rain… but it brought slightly milder weather with it, which has been quite welcome…today it is cold once again but very sunny.    Although I like the winter months the cold has got to my bones a bit – I must be getting older. The full force of the winter weather can be seen further afield out on the moors above us where there are wonderful and ever-changing vistas to capture – I love the bleak atmosphere that surrounds this expanse of wilderness  – there are no trees, no buildings and no people.  Even the sky can seem quite dark and foreboding at times.  Only days ago this road was closed to a heavy snowfall and ice and we had to find alternative routes on lower ground – yesterday as you see it is quite passable with only a light dusting over the hills.  The beauty of this untouched landscape is breathtaking no matter when you pass through.

Around the garden there are plenty of delightful things happening at the moment despite the weather.  I haven’t ventured outside very much but I have noticed little pockets of colour and a show of buds here and there.  Sometimes everything looks deceptively still and quiet beneath the carpet of leaves but on closer inspection there are shoots appearing and the bulbs I planted only a couple of months ago and these Snowdrops are beginning to push through the earth – a sign that spring will be here soon. Snowdrops To prevent the local cats doing their business and scratching around in the bare patches of earth where the bulbs lie beneath  I pushed a few twigs, from the hydrangea prunings,  into the ground as a deterent and to protect them and I noticed they are starting to bud and have actually taken root.  Anyone want an hydrangea there will be far to many to keep!Spring bulbsWhilst it is so cold I find the best thing to do is stay warm indoors in the kitchen making those nourishing winter comfort dishes.  Cauliflower and Broccoli Cheese bake is always a favourite here and plenty of nut roasts with root vegetables.Cauliflower Cheese bake Mushroom soupMaking plenty of soup is still on the menu too – I have found a pack each of white and chestnut mushrooms mixed together make a very quick soup for lunch – add a  leek and a stick or two of celery and a generous handful of fresh parsley for flavour…

…and use up any leftover large ripe tomatoes to make a very warming Tomato Soup with red pepper and a little carrot and a touch of paprika, run through the blender and sprinkle with a good spoonful of parmesan cheese….Tomato soupOn those days when we only have enough soup left for one we share it and I serve a mini bowl of soup with a ploughman’s lunch to use up the thick crusts of bread.For some reason I always feel January is a good month for home life and a little housekeeping – not a deep spring clean and certainly nothing too strenuous but just enough to freshen the place up once all the Christmas decorations have been taken down and packed away.

I have spent time in each room adding decorative bits and pieces and moving pictures around;  just using what I already have and switching things about.  Remember the dried oranges and limes I made at Christmas;  they have mellowed now but still add a touch of colour to these grey winter days and continue to fragrance the air. dried oranges My daughter bought me this lovely glass showcase perfect to display little bits and bobs.  I chose this lino-cut print with the red fox and the little red bird to go with my hand carved wooden robins – the bold black and white with a splash of colourful red seems quite appropriate for now.In the corner of the dining room the yellow tulips from Aldi for £1.89 are so wonderfully vibrant and cheerful – and very reasonably priced – I will certainly be visiting the store for more flowers in future as they have lasted so well.Tulips TulipsAnother small but new pleasure in my life is this desk calendar on a gold metal stand – Sadie over at Notes from an Ordinary Life introduced me to pink and I must say I am hooked – I saw this in Sainsbury’s and somehow it found its way into my trolley last week – it cost me £7 but it can be used again and again if I make and print my own calendar sheets next year when this one is finished.  I am looking forward to making my own too – I might try out some decorative stamps or lino-cuts.CalendarWe have done very little shopping so far this year as there is not very much that we need other than a new kitchen.   During the sales I got a great deal on the Neal’s Yard items – the face cream and serum I use was being offered at a discount in a gift box so not only did I get it cheaper but there is a free eye cream with it.  I also love their sturdy boxes and reuse these for all kinds of things.Mum must be getting more forgetful as for the first time in years (and I mean years) she didn’t buy me my usual slim handbag diary for Christmas so I looked for a cheap one in Poundland  – I should be able to spot this colourful one easily in my handbag – I carry one about to jot down appointment times, phone numbers or anything I need to make a note of whilst I am out (most people would probably use their phones but I am not a phone user – I still like paper – you don’t have to remember to charge it!).  Whilst out shopping I also took advantage of the reductions on Christmas cards and bought a couple of packs with 50% off to put away for next Christmas.

Staying snug and warm by the fire, watching old movies in the afternoon on the Talking Pictures channel, laughing at ‘For the Love of Ada’ – a comedy from the 70’s ,  a little reorganising and cleaning around the house, a few bright spots of colour placed here and there in each room, writing thank you notes to friends, flicking through my magazines for ideas and lots of planning for the year ahead – a pleasurable way to get through the long grey days of winter.

As Edith Sitwell says – winter is a time for home.

Baby X is now doing well – I think we are on the turn and mum and dad are easing into a routine – one with little sleep – but starting to find their feet now and feel more confident – they dealt with the problems that arose very well and deserved a medal for their perseverance – having a tiny baby relying on you for everything is especially hard when mum herself has post delivery problems that needs attention too.  Thank you for all your good wishes – it is very much appreciated.

I will be putting a tab at the top of my blog just for recipes of anything I mention here – do bear with me this may take a little time to do.

Hope you are enjoying your winter days x

trEAsury ~ the weekly shop and meal plan

We woke up this morning to snow – just a sprinkling, and so very pretty – like icing sugar had been sifted onto our lawn, but just enough for me to change my plans and go for our weekly shop at the supermarket in town sooner rather than later.  I had my menus already planned for the week and the shopping list written so we decided to get dressed and go.  We had a few errands to do whilst in and around the town centre and this helps to conserve the petrol.

Firstly, we stopped at the African Relief Charity to offload an old mobile, that needs unlocking, and my old camera.  Both items still had all their charging leads and instruction books and they have a guy who works there who puts everything back to working order and can unlock the phone.

Then on to the Welcome Centre at the Methodist Mission Church in town.  They do a good job looking after the homeless people – providing  warm drinks and food for those on the streets and today they were particularly busy as you might expect with this cold weather.   We dropped off two sleeping bags and a quilt.  We have no need of either now we have two spare bedrooms available (complete with bedding) for any guests that might stay but I will be very pleased if someone can make use of them and it helps me to reduce our ‘stuff’ a little bit more.

After buying a large pack of toilet rolls (we were down to the very last one) and kitchen roll from Aldi (just to try them for a while as they are much cheaper than Sainsbury’s) …and a small bunch of yellow tulips to brighten my kitchen for £1.89…we headed for the town centre to buy a few bits and pieces from the whole food store; organic brown Basmati rice, a box of Spelt flakes to mix with my muesli and a bottle of Almond oil.  I use pure Almond oil as a cleanser at night – you massage a little into your face and then wipe off with a damp cotton wool pad.  It really gets rid of any grime that collects on your skin over the course of the day and make up too.  Olive oil works just as well.

Then a walk round to Boots to take advantage of the 3 for 2 offer on the cotton wool face pads I use – a saving of £1.99.  Both the Kleenex man-sized handy packs of 4 and Ecover washing up liquid on my list were also on offer in Sainsbury’s so that completed my restocking of toiletries /cleaners and paper products for a while.

We found plenty of offers at Sainsbury’s this week so we generally take advantage of them and buy more than one to last a while – hopefully until they are on offer again and if buying multipes takes us over the weekly budget then I am quite relaxed about it as I am sure it is beneficial in the long run.  This week I found Hillfarm cold pressed rapeseed oil (comes in a glass bottle which is a big plus point), red lentils, milled Flaxseeds,  Lurpack butter and the Alara brand of organic muesli that I like all on offer.  The oil for instance was £1.50 cheaper which is a huge reduction – I bought two bottles but may even go back for another.   I also found two yellow sticker foods – a double pack of Cibatta bread for £0.49p (usually £1.80) and a pack of blueberries with 50% extra for £1.34.

Buying our shopping when on offer is a real money saver for us.  I was expecting a larger bill at Sainsbury’s today as it was a larger shop than usual this week mainly because we received our monthly pension payment last Friday and our cupboards and fridge had run very low on food.

I do enjoy making meals in the winter months.  It is the season for plenty of nut roasts, pies, lentils and root vegetables.  This week’s meal plan is to use up some cashew and walnuts from Christmas in a nut roast.  It isn’t exactly a new recipe but one I haven’t made for ages and believe me I have a lot.  I will be trying out a Mushroom roast too from a recipe I have had for a long time but not yet tried.  I might switch the breadcrumbs for brown rice to cut down on the wheat.  I do like to avoid having too many wheat based products in a day and often opt for other grains like spelt or quinoa.  I will also be making ‘green’ soup and vegetable soup, carrot and leek pasties and a shepherds pie served with fresh cabbage and roast parsnips.

I am going to add a drop down on my menu bar for some of the recipes I make – this may take me a while to get it all sorted so bear with me.  I am so sorry Dar that you have waited so long for the Stroganoff!

Yesterday was a mixture of cheap and dear as far as expenses are concerned.  It is a year since I bought ‘Hetty’ my new car – so it was the annual service which keeps it in warranty and cost us £119 but this comes out of our bill account where we save a twelfth of our yearly bill costs each month so there is plenty of money in the account to cover this.

As the garage was close to the M1 we dropped off my car for the day and went on to visit Ikea in Sheffield to look further at cabinets for our new pantry.  We took our usual picnic of sandwiches and some mushroom soup and a flask of hot chocolate.   We used our Family card in Ikea to claim a further free hot drink each so all we spent was £1.25 on a portion of chips to keep us going until we could eat our picnic.  So a cheap day in other respects.

After much measuring and debating I think we now know exactly how we will fit out the pantry using a mix of Ikea’s basic kitchen cabinets and some shelving.  However, there is always a catch… before we can do the pantry we really need to rearrange the garage so that we can put a cupboard in there to house both the vacuum cleaner and the coats we use for working outdoors.  Of course before we can rearrange we need to have a sort out and I expect we will find a lot of items that can go to charity, or give away to new homes but hopefully not to landfill.

Tonight I watched the documentary program with Kate Humble on BBC 4 about the Raute people who are the very last of the nomadic community in Nepal.  They have so few possessions that they can move on to a new site miles away at a moments notice carrying them on their backs wrapped in cloths or in baskets.

As I look around at our possessions – so many fill this house we would never carry ours anywhere and it has given me that overwhelming feeling of discomfort.

 

 

 

 

 

 

dEAr diary ~ has Elton saved John Lewis?

Their sales increased over the Christmas period according to the latest news.

Although I do like to shop at John Lewis if I can afford to sadly it wasn’t down to me;  but I am pleased this might mean they will not go under – not yet anyway.

Meanwhile Debenhams and M&S are still struggling with decreased sales.

If in fact Elton has been instrumental in helping John Lewis through a bad patch perhaps someone might persuade him to take over the Brexit talks after all we don’t seem to be getting anywhere with them at the moment.

A lady interviewed on the lunchtime news (from Barclaycard I think) said that they were looking at how they can get customer confidence back to spend more on the high street by introducing memorable ‘instagram’ moments through experiences whilst shopping.  As an example she said such things as free coffees and Yoga mornings.  I smiled thinking of my aging mum doing Yoga whilst shopping and then perhaps taking a selfie – not that she isn’t active still but I think when she needs a new dress she might just want to go and choose one without having to contort herself in the process!

I wonder too at the necessity to make the whole of life an instagram moment.

I don’t often mention the news but I am feeling more and more concerned over the things that I am hearing and the messages we are receiving through the media.   Maybe the reason sales are down is just that people don’t want to buy so much stuff any longer or perhaps don’t have the means to keep on spending with prices rising on food and the basic essentials.

We seem to have got into a catch 22 situation now where we have to keep spending to keep everyone in a job. That is quite a burden for me as I don’t actually want to keep buying stuff any more – nor do I want to buy into these ‘experiences’ either – I can find my own by just having a walk along the seashore or a picnic in the country.

It has seemed quite strange not going back to work after Christmas but it is nice to have more time now to plan out the year ahead and set new goals. I will get back to chatting about my progress tomorrow. x

crEAting Christmas ~ days 3 & 4

As we left for home yesterday we drove past the sad little bay just round the corner from our cottage where the recent tragedy happened, all was completely calm and peaceful now as if nothing had happened and at that moment a rainbow appeared.It is a community in mourning, feeling the loss of a friend and neighbour – many of the locals are calling for a road barrier to be put in place now so this loss of life does not happen again in the future when the sea is at high tide.  The sea that I love so much has suddenly become quite a fearful place but even so now I am back in landlocked Yorkshire I miss going to sleep with the roar of the waves in the background.

As we were on the road yesterday I had a really simple Advent activity – something only available to ‘us northerners’ and something I look forward to getting each year…

…the Booths Christmas Book and for you southerners (and any readers from other parts of the world) Booths is a family run grocers business founded in 1847 and now a chain of supermarkets across the North of England and often refered to as the Waitrose of the North.  It trades on quality, local produce and great customer service.   Their release each Christmas of their hardback, bound book is always eagerly awaited by all their shoppers and followers.Our nearest store is – a bit too far away for a our weekly shopping but we always call in on our way to or back from Scotland at the Penrith or Kendal branch.  It is packed with photographs of deliciously tempting Christmas fayre to order or buy in store interspersed with a few recipes to make.

So I collected mine yesterday and spent my elevenses this morning pouring over all the Christmas food on offer and a quick look at the recipes in the back.  I find it remarkable that Booths can produce such a lovely little book and give it away free – I was a truly happy bunny.

Todays activity…As you may remember from last year I decided to do something different to the usual wreath on our front door so I hung my chicken wire cone see post here (a left over from my daughter’s wedding that hung on the Church gateposts full of flowers) and this time filled it Christmas foliage.  I quite liked it so have done it again this year.  If you don’t find wreaths easy to make this is a simple alternative…

…first bend some chicken wire to form a cone shape – making a hanging loop at the point on the back.  Pack the front and sides with moss (I had collected a small heap in the summer in readiness).  Find an empty jam jar and push down into the cone as far as it will fit and so it is not visible. Remove the jar again and push some chicken wire into the jar to hold the stems steady when filling with foliage.  Fill the jar with cold water and start arranging pieces of foliage. Hold the cone steady in a small bucket then lower the jar into the cone making sure it is a snug fit. At the moment I am using some dried red hydrangea heads and a dried white one, some ivy and a few holly stems.  As we get closer to Christmas I will swap these for eucalyptus, holly and Hypericum like last years.

I have hung mine to the side of our main door but they are quite light and will hang on a door.As you can see I am no florist but it is not too difficult to get a pleasing arrangement.  You could add sprayed leaves, ribbon or pretty much anything.  Just remember to keep topping up the jar of water.

We have placed a small rooted Christmas tree by the front door (only £10 at Wilko) and put a few lights on it.  DH has still to do the rest of the lights in the front garden and paint the front door – I will take a few photos when it is all finished.

Whilst in Scotland we went over to Portpatrick for a stroll by the harbour and found they were having their annual Christmas craft fair in the village hall so went for a look around.  There was some lovely things to buy – after much deliberation and bearing in mind I had to limit my spending I chose these……a pack of watercolour notelets (right) painted by a local artist to support the Aldouran Wetland Garden and these two pretty little felted Christmas tree cards for each of my daughters – made by a local crafter.

I also bought a few other bits and pieces whilst we were out and about – goodies that I never see down here in Yorkshire.The frilly cake band takes me back to my childhood and reminds me of Christmases past – they would appear each Christmas round our Christmas cake – at 99p I just had to have one.  The packet contains an iced ginger cake – we always buy one when we are at the cottage but usually we get the un-iced version – these too are only £1 from Tesco or Morrisons but I have never seen them south of the border.  I thought the iced one would be a nice treat for Christmas. And on the way home a few small inexpensive things for Christmas from Tebay services of all places – each of these little tissue parcels were a £1 – you will have to wait a while until I unwrap them to find out what is in them.

Welcome to my new followers too.  Christmas is a lovely time in Blogland – everyone is so busy making and baking.

Back tomorrow for Day 5 of Advent. x

 

 

dEAr diary ~ shopping, crafting and more preparing

We set off for our planned date with John Lewis yesterday with a packed lunch and flask, a bit later than intended – not even sure why, I think I had a lot to get ready – vouchers, list of requirements, carrier bags, some bits to drop off at my brothers on the way home – so it took us longer than I thought to get out of the door.   What a surprise when we drove up the road  and onto the moor that takes us over the tops of Saddleworth to Greenfield, Mossley, Ashton, Stockport and finally Cheadle Royal our destination – there was a covering of snow. On the way home it was thick fog too and a bit hairy coming over the winding moor road but at least it was still open as often when there is any snowfall it is soon closed off and we have been stuck getting home a few times, you really have to watch the weather here if you venture far when it snows.

We had a lovely day looking at all the gorgeous things in the John Lewis store – these were my favourite (apologies for the mobile photo) – 4 champagne glasses by Waterford Crystal Mixology a mere £255 for the four!  Obviously they will be on my Christmas list and obviously I won’t be getting them!  But I can admire them.

We bought  a gift for Little L (reduced by 20% in the Black Friday deals), a Magic set for my nephew (which wasn’t reduced but still in budget) and a couple of small gifts for Little L to put in the Christmas Eve box I am filling with her mum.  We won’t see her at Christmas and I have decided to buy a short 3 monthly subscription from Toucan boxes for children starting after Christmas, to see how it goes, rather than a ‘main’ present so the Christmas Eve box will just be a little extra and I quite like the idea that not everything has to be opened on one day.

Her mum has some new flamingo pyjamas which will go in the box, I have bought a 99p pack of plasticine, a small pack of Christmas joke cards (for some reason she loves telling jokes but so far only remembers two), I found a lovely Emma Bridgewater spoon with coloured spots on the handle for her too.  I will add a book and some felt tips etc which I will get from the Works or Sainsbury’s and one or two other inexpensive bits.

With my gift card from leaving work I bought a cosy brushed cotton duvet cover for the colder winter months in large grey check so now I have to decide between this and the Dorma one I bought from Dunelm.  I won’t be keeping both but needed to see them in our bedroom to decide.

Sainsbury’s is attached to the John Lewis in Cheadle and we had a drink in the afternoon in their cafe (really to save a bit of money) – the difference in service between the two shops is notable!  We waited 15 minutes to be served at Sainsburys and we were only second in the queue, we had arrived when they were changing shifts – the person leaving just down tools and left and I can honestly say in no way does it resembles the very precise hand over at the changing of the guard.  We had a look around the small Habitat section on the way out – I loved the old Habitat stores and really miss them now.  This small stand they have in the corner of Sainsburys looks quite pitiful to what Habitat was in its heyday.

The selection bags were all ready to be delivered today  – I had quite a production line going so in the end they didn’t take very long to finish.

I intended to get back to making my cards this morning but I ran out of time so it will be tomorrow; I saw some lovely cards yesterday on display but homemade are fun to do and so much cheaper as I already have a stack of blanks and all the printing gear.

Because I ran out of time to soak my fruit for the cake yesterday it was the first task on the list this morning.  I just love that smell of brandy mixed in the dried fruit with the peel from the citrus fruit.  I wil bake it on Sunday and make Lemon Curd at the same time to use up the lemons.

Saturday morning is the Crisis coffee morning at church – I am going with a friend for a coffee, a chat and a look at the Xmas goodies to buy on the stalls.

Back soon x

 

fEAsible ~ plotting, planning and preparing for Christmas

Another dark dreary day today and cold with it – light is in short supply at the moment but I did manage to get my selection bags finished and ready to go.  The only cost to me was for the fun size chocolate bars inside which I bought reduced at Halloween, the gift wrap was some left over from a previous year and the tags from old Christmas cards.  I will take pictures tomorrow as the light has gone altogether now.

I made Mushroom soup today and extra for the freezer.  It has become my favourite lunch at the moment – perhaps you can tell!  We had freshly baked rolls too from Sainsbury’s – a kind of Ciabatta bread with cheese and shaped like a boat – should have taken a picture.  They were reduced to 4 for 60p – so a bargain as well.

I have started my initial preparations for Christmas, I use the same checklists each year so I don’t forget to do things.  This is the first of a series of lists that I have developed over time and serve me well:-

Getting prepared and organised – step 1 – initial preparations

  • Begin a Xmas inspiration notebook or wallet –  a definite must – I collect all those usually annoying leaflets, adverts about events, recipes, decoration ideas or anything Christmassy that catches my eye.
  • Look at what didn’t work last year (see my notes HERE from last year of things to avoid or do better)
  • Do something different this yearI like to plan something new each year and this often ends up as a new tradition the following years.
  • Decide on any entertaining we might do and set a date – prepare invitations knowing if and when we might be holding a party or get together is crucial to knowing just how busy I am going to be.
  • Find the decorative Xmas box to hold incoming Xmas cards as they arrivebelieve it or not we have received our first Xmas card but it is far too early to put it up so I usually hold them all in a pretty box.
  • Review finances for last Xmas and set a new budgetI keep a note of our past Christmas spending and plan a new budget based on this.
  • Arrange the family Not so Secret Santa draw
  • Prepare the Christmas Calendar for December – I like to put everything down in one place so I have a calendar that I can see at a glance what is planned for each day in December. 

I start by putting down any dates that are fixed like birthdays, then schedule appointments, and then decide on any events we might like to attend if we can fit them in.

  • Add birthday dates first and any anniversaries (we have quite a few in December)
  • Reschedule any unnecessary appointments for after Christmas (this might be a dental check up or the like if it is non urgent I will move it to after Christmas)
  • Establish everyone’s movements (otherwise known as who is going where with whom)
  • Schedule / book appointments for hairdressers, massage etc (a little ‘me’ time)
  • Make a note of any discount nights or late night shopping
  • Schedule time with the familythis might be a night out at a restaurant or a night in with a Xmas film – something we can all do together.
  • Schedule any religious activitiesCarol singing, Crib service etc
  • Schedule a theatre night or Christmas event (this year we are going to see the Winter Wonderland lights at Dunham Massey and probably go to the Living Advent event in Saltaire)
  • Add dates for making Christmas food gifts (I usually make a few food gifts for my friends and these have to be made closer to Christmas so I need to leave a clear day or two)
  • Add last posting dates for Christmas (I have already picked up the leaflet for this year whilst I was at the post office)

This is very much the planning and plotting stage – deciding on what to do and where to go and when.  I have already done some of these things on this list – but have I missed anything?

There is a lot to fit in now into four weeks.  My next task will be the cake on Sunday and getting back to doing my lino cut Christmas card.

I was chatting with my daughter about a present for Little L for Christmas and I mentioned the subscription boxes you can order for children that come by post once a month with activities.  I signed up for something similar years ago that was run by the Early Learning Centre before they had shops and my two girls loved it when the parcel arrived each month, a box full of surprises.  I am not sure they are such good value these days but the idea is still good and we are looking into it.  She has so many presents on Christmas day that it would be nice to spread it out a bit.  Has anyone any experience of any on the market?

Tomorrow we are going back to John Lewis  – it is one of my Christmas treats in itself – I love to look at all the lovely things and get ideas.  What a shame I don’t have another free hot drink and cake voucher unless one arrives in the post in the morning!

How are your plans coming along?

 

 

 

 

 

dEAr diary ~ an unexpected day out

Do you ever have one of those days that doesn’t go to plan – I expect everyone does.  It wasn’t that yesterday turned out to be a bad day just different to what I had intended.  Last night I should have been sitting down pleased with myself for cleaning the freezer or making all the selection bags, but in the end I did neither – instead we had a trip to the Trafford centre to John Lewis to pick up a present for my daughter.

We were going to order this gift on-line but then changed our minds as we preferred to see what we were buying.  I am told that the 10th anniversary is tin so we have bought her a lovely handmade dragon-fly picture frame by Lancaster and Gibbings that is made of hammered or pressed pewter (which is a metal alloy of up to 99% tin).  We will put her a temporary picture in of Little L and Sweetie until we can take one that fits the space properly.After we had purchased the photo frame we of course had to have a browse around the store looking at all the beautiful things on display.  I could easily have indulged myself and one or two things might just go on my Not so Secret Santa wish list.

Tonight DH is out at one of his music concerts, a new piece of work by contemporary composer Rebecca Saunders.  This kind of music is really not to my taste it often pushes the boundaries of music and can be creative to the extent that it is very strange.  But he enjoys it and Huddersfield is the UK’s largest international festival of new and experimental music.

I actually like having the house to myself for a few hours – I might even watch a Christmas film on the True Christmas channel – something light-hearted and funny.  I might even give myself a home pedicure after all that tramping up and down the shopping mall.

Today we head off again for North Yorkshire our second home at the moment!

Incidentally, in respect of my daughter’s wedding day (that I wrote about in my last but one post see here) which was on a Friday ten years ago in Masham town hall;  we heard that Any Questions was broadcast from there on Friday night so lucky for us the venue was not double booked all those years ago – it was strange enough having the play rehearsal going on at the time we were setting up the hall!!

Have a lovely weekend. x

PS Just a note about the John Lewis staff who are always so on the ball and helpful – they really try hard with their customer service, so thank you John Lewis.

dEAr diary ~ a bit of this and that

Yesterday was my first full day at home for a while – I had no errands or shopping to do or any reason to go out and it seemed a bit of a luxury and a chance to get a few jobs done.  We have been away quite a bit recently and I often feel I spend my life packing and unpacking – I wish there was an easier way as I find it is quite disruptive to having a routine.   I had a few bits to catch up on, putting things away that had crept out of cupboards and drawers while my back was turned, keeping up with the financial records – receipts, bills and balancing the recent statement that dropped on our mat the other day.

It looked like a sunny, breezy day so I put my new towels in the washer to hang out later – the washer is being a bit temperamental when I wash towels – as soon as it reaches the tight spin it starts rocking violently even after I am so careful to try and balance the load – then it goes into fault mode and I have to reset.  The end result is towels that are still quite wet, not very helpful in the winter and I hope this doesn’t mean I have to get the engineer in. DH went out in the garden to rake up the last of the leaves and move the bags of rubble created from the pebble cleaning from the front to the side of the house out of sight.  Our local tip refuse to take rubble now they advise getting a skip (really for 3 bags of rubble?).  No doubt this is the reason for the rise in fly tipping around this area.  We are waiting for our daughter to order a skip to take away her old fireplace and will add our rubble to hers.

I have still the bulbs to plant and to add to that I managed to buy some Cyclamens for the garden.  The day before we left for North Yorkshire last week (re: on new baby alert) I received an email from Wyevale Garden Centres with a £5 voucher to spend but it would expire on the Sunday and we would be away.  As they have a place near the motorway junction we were heading for DH did a slight detour so I could spend my £5 – after all I couldn’t ignore a free fiver.  The Cyclamens were £4 each so I put £3 towards the voucher and bought two of the larger varieties which I thought was quite a bargain.

On Sunday evening on a bit of a whim I decided to go through my craft stamps – the clear ones that mostly came free with magazines.  There are a lot that I never use and wouldn’t use – so I will pass these on.  The sheets themselves are all shapes and sizes and a bit of a nightmare to store and taking up quite a bit of space.  So my solution was to put the individual stamps onto a piece of acetate film and drop this into a small self sealing plastic bag.  So now they are better organised and easier to find the one I want and a bit less clutter.

I had planned to start making a prototype for the little ‘fun size chocolate selection bags’ yesterday afternoon.  I usually make them from brown craft paper but this time I am using up an old roll of Christmas wrapping paper.  When I have finished them they will then be donated to the Crisis coffee morning at church to sell and raise funds for the homeless at Christmas. But I put this on hold to tidy up the kitchen and one thing led to another and before I knew it I was cleaning my oven and mopping floors.

During the tidy up I must have decided to keep the Santa mug as I have taken the label off the bottom and washed it!  It will be just right for hot chocolate and Little L will love it when she comes, I must look out for some Christmas paper straws.

I  received my Neal’s Yard order of a bottle of Arnica and Seaweed bath foam.  I had an email for 20% off and free postage just as I had used the last drop of my current bottle so I took advantage.  The ‘polystyrene’ chips used in their packaging are actually made of some kind of biodegradable material that dissolves to nothing if you put them in the sink and run water on them. Brilliant.

Then the postman delivered a letter from Sainsburys with a 1500 bonus Nectar points voucher to scan on my next visit to the store.  I must be on a roll with vouchers, points and money off at the moment  – as the TV ad goes ‘every little helps’ and I am not complaining.

After the long awaited new baby is our long awaited new shed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

trEAsury ~ nectar points shopping haul

I had just over 20,000 nectar points to exchange which gave me £100 to double up to £200 to spend in the Sainsburys Double Up event which started today.  We decided to go down to the supermarket this morning so that there would still be plenty of choice before the shelves started emptying as the event progresses.

We usually take advantage of the wines that are included in the double up offer – which is only on their own Taste the Difference wine but this is fine for parties and gatherings (we are no great wine buffs) and what isn’t used at Christmas and New Year will keep for Burns Night in January.

Nectar Points double up

For our £200 worth of vouchers we bought 9 assorted bottles of red, rose and white wine £66, 2 luxury bath sheets (I bought two a while ago on offer and they are really soft and wash well) £22 each, a pack of colour printer inks £35 and one black one £17, a box of indoor/outdoor Christmas lights for the tree £15, a rope storage tub £10, a Santa mug £3.75 and a small wooden tray £10.  The total of the purchases ran over by 75p but I was happy to pay the 75p for all this.  Being able to double up the value of your points in effect makes every item half price.

Although I can justify buying most of the items and some of them like the wine, towels, Christmas tree lights and printer inks are a bargain on the double up; the last three items you may have spotted are not really needs but ‘nice to haves’  – I do have a use for each of them but I may even decide to return them yet or give them as gifts if I feel I have been too indulgent and bought things that are simply going to add to the clutter again.

It is on items like this that I often get stuck, they are not necessities, more decorative and there are so many lovely things out there to buy – but none of it is really needed.  I will give myself a cooling off period and see how I feel about them in a few days time.

Later in the day I collected a parcel from Boots as I had ordered some hair styling foam that I use and bought two whilst on a half price offer and we had the paint mixed for the shed and front door – DH got quite a good discount as he opened a cash account at the Crown Decorator Centre a while back.  The shed is coming tomorrow – yeah!

On Thursday we may be having an official visit from a gentleman from the National Statistics Office who is conducting a survey on behalf of the government and we have been bribed with given a £5 voucher already for taking part!  This should be quite interesting as I never consider ourselves a normal or average family in today’s world.

have a good day 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