Welcome

Hello and welcome to my blog. I've been getting some thoughts & feelings, exasperations and the odd happy moment down on the blog which helps my sanity and, I hope, provides a little entertaining read for you for a couple of minutes!

Right now I am mostly concentrating on getting through a rocky financial patch which I really hope will be cleared (all being well) by the end of Summer 2013. In the meantime I need to concentrate on continuing to do well in my "new" job (actually got it in Sept 2011 but it still feels new!) and living my life as frugally as possible.

Thanks for stopping by and if you leave me an encouraging comment, it'll make my day. :-)

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Seasons Greetings

Hello readers, I am sending you best wishes for this festive period.  I hope you had a peaceful Christmas Day and I hope that your New Year's Eve brings fun, reflection and most importantly no hangover on the 1st of January!

Was 2012 a good year for you or are you glad to see the back of it?
Do you have any resolutions or plans for 2013 or will you just take it as it comes?  

I hope to blog a bit more in the New Year as 2013 has got to be the year I get sorted financially and blogging about it always helps me.  If it is not the year, then I fear I am doomed to repeat the same mistakes for the rest of my life and that is a terrible thought!

For now I wish you all the best and I do hope 2013 brings you happiness.

x x x



Friday, 14 December 2012

It's Going to Get Worse Before It Gets Better!

Good evening my lovely readers, I am hoping you are all well today.

Well the cold snap is finally lifting and my goodness it really has been cold the last few days.  I am looking forward to seeing some sunshine tomorrow and feeling temperatures above freezing and then some!  An exotic 8 or 9 degrees centigrade so I hear! 

So, anyway.  I have had to spend money this week...on petrol, on food, on postage and on the remaining Christmas gifts I was prepared to buy.  However as I type that I literally remember something else I need to buy before I am done...argh! 

Would someone just pinch me and tell me I am not dreaming and that second class postage really *is* that expensive these days??  When did it get this pricey to send a bloody card to a friend?  It's not far off a card in the post being a gift in itself now! 

I bought a £5 Secret Santa gift today as well.  I hope I got good value for money as I bought a bottle of red wine which is a Bordeaux Superieur which makes for good reading.  Luckily I know someone who knows my Secret Santa 'draw' and wine was recommended, so, fingers crossed I made a good choice.  It was £5 I could do without spending but I love Secret Santa and I signed up for it ages ago.  Pulling out of it would have been depressing, disappointing and....like throwing a deckchair off the Titanic to be honest.

Next month brings the majority of my annual car bills.  It also brings the gas & electric bill.  It also brings just over 5 weeks till I get paid again.  And anything else that decides it wants to crop up.

So...without wanting to wish my life away, let's just say, when the next 6 weeks are over, I will be relieved.  It'll still be pretty dismal but I am hoping upon hope, the worst time will be over.

And now for a confession....whilst in Aldi I also treated myself to some rose wine for £2.99 and a bar of chocolate.  Well...I've turned down proper social nights out aplenty for December (including probably not getting to see "The Hobbit")...so a drink and a nibble in front of a TV recorded film is a cheap substitute no?  I refuse to feel guilty.

And my final words on this post, are sad ones.  My heart is breaking for all those affected by the Connecticut school shootings today.  This is utterly heartbreaking, tragic news.  A complete nightmare scenario.  I mentioned recently about keeping things in perspective and this serves as no better example.  My troubles and concerns are zero compared to those affected today.  I hope they find the strength they need to come through this awful time.

Good night readers and take care.

x x


Tuesday, 11 December 2012

You're Keeping Me On Track

Evening to you all, I do hope you're keeping warm right now.  It's freezing fog where I am - not much fun at all.  I hope everyone is tucked up at home where possible and not having to drive in this.

I was so happy to read all the supportive comments after my recent post, outlining what's going on with me and my plans to get myself sorted.  It really helps and keeps me going down the right path!  So thanks again to everyone and Ilona, you're so right, every penny does count.  I actually get a little thrill everytime I plonk the coppers from my change into a little red tin I have as I know they add up and before too long I can use the useful total towards food or petrol or whatever.  

Thanks for the EBAY suggestion Vicky - I may well look into that in the New Year for any 'better' stuff I have.  I did use EBAY & Amazon Marketplace some years ago when I was paying off two overdrafts (sigh....proof that I just didn't learn!) and you're right the contribution it makes is really helpful.  I am also wondering about a car boot sale in early Spring too.  They can be good cash generators too.  I just need one good "big" item to sell to make my stall booking money back (and more, hopefully!) then everything else will be lovely jingly cash in pocket.

Well I put our humble Christmas decorations up last night and wrapped some gifts in left over from 2011 wrapping paper!  I also wrote out left over from 2011 Christmas cards as well!  It was a nice night in though and finally kicked off a bit of Christmas cheer in the household.  Hubby came home and opened the door to the living room and smiled, saying "It's Christmas!"  I had some scented tealights burning on the coffee table and sat under the glow of the fairy lights strung up high over the sofa....I have even lit up a big houseplant with some battery operated lights as well!  Nice.

Grocery shopping after work today was a bit embarrassing.  I managed to whoops-a-daisy a jar of marmalade as I was lifting it off the shelf in Aldi and it fell and smashed on the floor!  There was no-one around from the store when I did it so I found an old box and covered it up (managed to cut my thumb moving a big shard of glass as well - ouch) then went and found someone.  I apologised and offered to pay for the breakage but I just got a sour look and a "Oh great" but they didn't make me pay for it so I can take that!!  I did apologise again though...I don't smash jars of sticky breakfast food on shop floors for fun, honest.

After that I managed to get all required groceries and leave with about £3 in change.  I had to nip to Sainsburys to get some own brand coriander leaf...74p as opposed to £1.75 for a branded jar.  So I now have just over £2 in my purse.  I think all I have to buy at the weekend is some more mushrooms so I should be ok to get through till next Wednesday when I get paid.  

A friend treated me to a gingerbread hot chocolate in the hospital cafe at lunchtime:  she insisted!  We had a really good chat and it made such a nice change to relax.  Work's been pretty full on recently for both of us.

Well that's about it from me.  Have to go and put some tumble drying on soon but the meter will be on cheap 'leccy very soon!  Hopefully then no more washing till the weekend when it can all go out on the line and dry for free.

Take care - stay warm.

x x x





Sunday, 9 December 2012

Colds, Debts & How Have I Saved Money Recently?


Hello & happy weekend everybody, I hope you are all well.

I have been poorly this week - I caught a cold and had to take Thursday & Friday off work.  I was in bed till gone 1pm both days just zonked out.  Luckily we had some Day & Night Nurse capsules left over from hubby's cold so I didn't have to fork out for more medicine.  I started to feel much better yesterday and today, although still blowing my nose for England, I am just about there now.  Back to work tomorrow!

Overdraft

Anyway whilst off this week, when awake, it gave me plenty of time to think about my financial status, study my Excel spreadsheet and generally muse about stuff.  I may go about £650 - £700 overdrawn by Spring, which is really not great.  However some good news is, that total also includes debt payments which will pay off completely the 0% credit card I took out at the beginning of 2012 to pay for much needed new double glazing in three rooms.  So I won't have paid a penny interest on those which was always the plan.  The other 0% card I had was a Virgin card to pay off a previous overdraft.  The plan was to get the overdraft paid off then stick rigidly to a budget to prevent going overdrawn again. 

Well that failed. 

SO...the Virgin card still needs paying off and here I am with another overdraft which is worse than it was before!  Not the plan at all but lesson learned.  I'll pay it off by mid Summer and now I just accept that I will be overdrawn and I just have to claw it down bit by bit. 

I am trying to think more long term rather than panicking short term so now I need to just keep calm when I see my overdraft rising and know that come summer, the credit card balances will be gone and it will start to get better thereafter.  I need to keep my eye on the prize which is "this time next year".  This time next year I WILL be debt free again and this time next year I will be finally on top of my money issues.  I will.

With all this in mind I should now have the motto 'Every Penny Counts' tattooed on my eyelids.  

There is No Spare Money

Every penny I spend now just takes me further into my overdraft so every penny spent is a conscious decision.  So I am trying to be positive about all the ways I can try and keep things as low as I can.

Money Saving Efforts This Week

Being ill meant not going out anyway but even if I had been OK I'd planned not to spend any unnecessary cash.  And I achieved that.   I am making use of www.spendingdiary.com and find it really useful.   I love the reporting tool which shows you how much you've spent say on "social" or "groceries" should you set up those groups.  An eye opener.

This weekend thankfully has been fairly windy and mostly dry so I have managed to get a lot of washing dry on the line or just about dry so that they either finish off on radiator racks, or in the case of some larger items, only took about a third of the time they usually do in the tumble dryer.  The washing I have mostly got done overnight so it's much cheaper electricity.  Some of the tumbling I did later at night too when the meter clicked over to the lower rate.  So that's helped.

Energy

I submitted meter readings on Friday and I do owe Atlantic some money. I recently went over to Direct Debit to get cheaper rates.  We used to pay for what we used quarterly but seeing the difference in the rates it seemed madness not to start a DD again especially as I could choose what monthly rate to set.  However the first payment didn't come out till 1st December and I last paid a bill in September.  So there's a shortfall now and the next bill is due the end of this month.  I can see I will no doubt have to pay an extra bit to cover it all then hope that thereafter, the direct debits will cover future bills.

We have gas central heating and a halogen heater.  There is no fireplace or woodburner and we're not able to install either in this house, so we're stuck with the above.  The only choice we have is to be cold and minimise having the heating on.  Today that's not so bad as the temperature got up to about 8 degrees C outside and the sun was out - and it made such a difference.  With jumpers on, it felt alright.  Heating is completely off and won't come on till it's dark.  It'll stay on till about 9pm then go off till getting up time tomorrow for an hour.  Then it'll be off all day till dark again.  The house is freezing when we get home but we'll just keep the door of the living room shut, put the halogen heater on the first 400w, make sure no gaps in curtains and that room heats up fairly nicely.  It's not feasible to have the heating off all the time otherwise I would!  It's due to get down to sub freezing mid week here and the cold snap will last a few days at least.  We have to do what we have to do when it's like that but needless to say fleece sofa blankets & hot water bottles come out at night!

Food

I bought a big bag of potatoes in Aldi on Tuesday and other fresh vegetables and have managed to make it all stretch through.  I haven't needed to go out for anything else.  Today's lunch was roasting left over red onions cut into fat wedges, three parsnips chopped into fat sticks, half a butternut squash cubed up, four diced potatoes and the remains of a garlic bulb split into peeled cloves, all smothered and mixed up in three tablespoons of sunflower oil mixed with: two tablespoons of water, a tablespoon of white vinegar, half a teaspoon of caster sugar and two teaspoons of various dried herbs.  I roasted these for 35 minutes (stirring once or twice) and roasted a pack of veggie sausages half way through.  Veggie gravy made with the water from cooked frozen peas from Aldi and a twist of black pepper.  It was really tasty and hubby loved it.

We've still got loads of potatoes left which we'll use to make a delicious dish called Egg & Potato Bombay and we'll have that with Approved Foods basmati rice, probably on Wednesday.  We have everything else for evening meals Monday and Tuesday so tomorrow evening, I will do an inventory of what we have in the cupboards and will make a frugal menu plan for the rest of the week/early part of next week and shop accordingly for the fresh items, bread etc in Aldi on Tuesday after work. 

Cash Only

I use a credit card for petrol and some other purchases i.e. online once a month stock up purchases (I am collecting Avios points as one day I am determined to fly abroad again!) but I have made the decision to try and be cash only now for grocery shopping and other necessary spends.  It's obvious what I have been doing thus far has not really worked:  I clearly haven't learned from my own history.  So time for something new.  The last few grocery shops have been cash only and it really focuses your mind.  You're doing mental calculations all the time to make sure you don't go over budget and everything that goes in that trolley or basket is needed and, where possible, the best value you can get.  My utter delight last week in Aldi when I realised three things I needed were in their "Super Six" offer and the week before that the bread had 30% off marked price as did the mushrooms I wanted.  I was so chuffed

Cutting Back

I have changed my mobile phone provider to a SIM only deal now which is saving me about £5 a month (I use data downloading otherwise I could save more).  I have cancelled my LoveFilm subscription which is another £5 a month.  That's £120 over the year.  Worthwhile!

I am not going out once over Christmas.  I have not even bought any Christmas food or nibbles and don't plan to until perhaps the week before and then it won't be much.  I have one night out planned in January (tickets for a local gig already bought last year) and that's it.  For 2013.  Seriously it is the only thing in my diary and I am not going out of my way to add anything else because there just isn't the money.  Over the Winter months I don't think this will be too much of a problem.  But come the Spring I will be bored, depressed and ready to throw the towel in so this is when I will need to be creative and get my social fixes one way or another. 

I will be going through my wardrobe shortly to plan what clothes go together and make myself wear things I have bought but ignored.  (Why do women do this!!?)  I may have to get rid of some bits & bobs which I just don't feel comfortable in as it will give me more space and just help bring other items back into focus.  I do not need to buy any more clothes.  I haven't actually got that many as I am quite good at 'culling' but there are still things I don't make use of when I should.  I have actually customised a couple of tops recently to make them more 'wearable' whereas before I would have just stuck them in a charity sack then probably gone out and bought a replacement.

Perspective

Last but definitely not least, I need to keep a sense of perspective.  I am still 'richer' than so many people.  I have a roof over my head, I have food & clothing, I have a phone I can pick up to call friends & family, I have clean running water at my disposal.  I have a job.  I might day dream about winning the lottery and not having to go to work (not going to happen as not spending money on tickets right now!!) but really I am grateful.  The job will help me dig my way out of this mess.  And it's not even a massive mess.  I have been in a worse financial mess by probably 8 times as much so....I can do this easily can't I?


If you have read all this and got to the end - well done!  And thanks for sticking with my rambles.

Bye for now...I am off to listen to a football match on my cheap little radio which costs less than a penny to run an hour!  Frugal entertainment indeed.

x

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Thank You

Hi all.  I wanted to say thank you for the supportive messages after my last blog post.  Your comments mean such a lot and it helps to know others are on your side!  So thanks very very much for taking a moment to drop me a line.

I know I am not the only one and we're pretty much all either paying off what feels like never ending debts, or, fighting to keep our heads above water whilst implementing frugal methods.  I don't wish debt or financial struggle on anyone believe me, but at least there is a camaraderie between 'frugallers' to be enjoyed!

Anyway I have actually had a really nice weekend on a budget!  Months ago I booked a date with an old school friend to go down and chat/stay over and generally catch up as we haven't seen each other for years upon years.  She lived about 40 minutes drive from me.  I had enough petrol in the car so no need to add further fuel.  I did take a bottle of wine (I had budgeted a small amount of money for the weekend) and as a fabulous surprise she took me into our old city and treated me to dinner with her Tesco coupons for a participating restaurant!  All it cost was a contribution to the cost of a bottle of wine (yes another one!).  Her extremely kind and lovely husband dropped us off and picked us up so no travel costs either.  

We stayed up extremely late, chatting and drinking the wine I had brought down and then more chats this morning after breakfast.  Bliss.  

After that I drove 9 miles east to see my sister, brother-in-law & my nieces and dropped off the Christmas gifts I had bought for them (not much but they all have something they will like for about a fiver each).  After an hour and half chit chat and a cuppa I drove home and hubby made us a dinner using up peppers, a pack of tofu and a fajita kit from Approved Foods!  I since fell asleep on the sofa for a while as staying up till crazy o' clock will make you tired!

The heating unfortunately is on higher than I would normally have it plus we're wearing all sorts of layers as it is bloody freezing!  The cars had a thick frost on not long after dark.  Hubby is suffering with the start of a cold and I want to keep him warm and toasty not make him feel worse bless him.

So that has been my weekend and I feel like I needed a bit of a lift.  I did bring some cash back with me as well so that's a bonus!  I can put that towards the grocery shopping on Tuesday.

Anyway thanks again and any time any one wants to drop any encouraging words in....feel free!  Believe me when I say it helps.

x x x

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Still Alive!

Hello there.  Well I am still here, still alive, still trying to be frugal! 

I haven't posted much in ages because it's just the same old crap but different day.  Sometimes I want to come online and spill my guts about it but then I just think "Meh, who wants to read that depressing blurb?" so I don't bother.

I try and try to do the right thing but as I may have said before, some of us seem destined not to have money, even a small amount of money to spare, and I think I am one of those people.  

The good news is, I am firmly in the savings habit now and I am putting away £100 a month into an account to pay for annual car bills, home insurance and the like.  I also seem to have broken the habit of shopping for things I like but don't need.  I make good use of Approved Foods, Aldi, EBAY if I need things or looking for the best price on goods if I have to buy them new.

The bad news is, things seem to happen outside my control which affect incoming finances or make really bloody ANNOYING drains on any savings I make.  It sounds like paranoia but honestly, any time I might spend a small amount of money on myself, I get whacked with something stupid like a nail through a car tyre, a blocked drain, I lose my gloves and need to buy some more...many stupid stupid things that just p*ss me off.  On top of the washing machine giving up the ghost this year and rotten windows needing replacing in a hurry.  Even one of my friends today said "You do seem to get more than your fair share of bad luck!"

Anyway I sit here looking at my spreadsheet tonight (as I am still trying to keep a reign on things) and I see it spiralling into my overdraft pretty miserably come the New Year.  Christmas is not really happening in this household in 2012.  I will put up the decorations we already have up, I did buy only those nearest & dearest to me a few little gifts (mostly second hand) and I am making someone some home made ale mustard but the budget has been minuscule.  

I am trying to take a deep breath though and say to myself that I must keep going and it can't be cleared overnight.  BUT I can try to make it so that this time next year I am in a better position.  I guess I am annoyed because I have been debt free before (mortgage aside) and I never wanted to owe anything again yet here I am about £2000 in debt again.

So anyway that's an update.  I hope to post more positive news again soon, charting progress and things I have done to save money or make extra money (maybe!).  I continue to read some blogs for inspiration and do try to keep a sense of perspective - even if it doesn't sound like it.

Take care all & all the best with your own journeys.


Sunday, 15 July 2012

Last Night a Spreadsheet Saved My Life...

If you're of a certain age you *will* have replaced the word spreadsheet with "DJ", right?

OK so perhaps that is a bit dramatic but last night, a spreadsheet shocked me to the core, made me feel sick and very very stupid.  However after waking up this morning and having remembered what I saw last night, I still felt stupid and a bit sick but also grateful to have had a wake up call and change direction once and for all.

Now if you have read my blog for a while you will know that I have been pretty bad with money in the past.  I am no angel now but I am a hell of a lot better than I was.  But I can get tempted and am prone to relapses from time to time. 

I find life too dull if I am not seeing or experiencing things, learning something about a new place, socialising and generally being out there.  These don't have to be fancy high faluting things and I haven't been out of the country for three years now (and the last time was on honeymoon and in a free chalet owned by an in-law....they also paid for our Easy Jet flights to get there as a wedding present!) and there are no plans to go abroad any time soon either.

A day by the sea with a bag of chips will do me fine if I am with good company and can wander around seeing stuff, appreciating architecture, watching the world go by etc etc.  I am sure you know what I mean.

I do also have a bit of a penchant for clothes shopping.   Charity shops are fine by me, high street shops and the John Lewis sale, also fine but these days I am well aware that the former option is more suitable for my budget!  And it doesn't happen very often.  So I have come some way.  But up until last night, I still felt like I was missing out on something that I couldn't put my finger on.  A strange feeling.  And also, if I am completely honest, I have made so many bad choices with my money.

Last night - completely rock 'n' roll for a Saturday I know - I was setting up a new spreadsheet for incomings and outgoings, to see me into 2013 and indeed to the end of next year.  I like to be able to forecast and plan for annual bills of course.  So, whilst doing this I open up last year's spreadsheet to get an idea of some previous gas bills.  Then I decide to look at my general expenditure and how my overdraft compared then and now.  Then I got really curious and opened up spreadsheets going back to 2009 and that's when the nausea started.

My GOD.  The money I have wasted is unbelievable.  It's shocking and embarrassing.  In 2008 - 2010 I was working as an Account Manager for a software house and I earned good money, some months some seriously good money.  And still I was overdrawn through ridiculous purchasing choices.  Clothes I bought at full prices which I gave away not long after because they were "not quite right".....beauty treatments I have long since learned to administer myself.......make up I thought I needed but used hardly ever (now been binned or also given away) and also, grocery shopping in Sainsburys or Tesco when there was an Aldi within easy reach of my house but I thought it wasn't good enough or so I thought, which was utter crap because I'd never even been in there so how could I even think that?   

So although I have been shuffling along in a certain direction anyway (and it is the right direction I have to say) I now feel like I have had a complete kick up the arse. 

Absolutely no more spending on clothes for a very long time unless absolutely necessary.  I must use what I already have.  Clothes rediscovered, reinvented, repaired & re-dyed or whatever is needed, where possible.

Groceries shopped for as cheaply as possible and I will make food inventories every week to see what I can make with what I have.  No buying anything even if it is cheap unless I actually need it. 

Socialising....I will still spend money on socialising.  There's no way I won't.  But I am going to be as picky as hell and as frugal as possible.  My days of hard partying were over a long time ago so there's no danger of slipping back into that kind of spending again.  I'm not going to feel guilty about the odd drink out with a friend or lunch with my husband once a month in a pub.  When I have seen the amount I have wasted on other stuff, the minuscule budget I have for staying sane is peanuts.

Beauty treatments....I'll continue doing what I do and enjoy it.  Some women feel it's a life essential to have someone else file their nails or wax their bikini line and maybe I did once too, but not now.  There is something very satisfying about a home administered facial, making your feet soft & pretty and such like.

Happily I could start to take direct "action" today.  I found a top I bought back in 2008 (one that did make it past the first month of being purchased!) which I have had good wear out of.  I noticed there were several little holes appearing along the hem line...tiny little ones that you only see if you hold it up to the light.  I considered putting it in a charity bag but then got needle and thread out.  Luckily the top is a black & white pattern, quite random, so I was able to stitch up all the holes and no-one will notice.  I should get another year out of that top I am sure.

I also got a shortish wrap dress which I wear as a top from time to time with only a certain pair of trousers and used wonder web stuff to "take it up" a couple of inches.  Now it's suitable for wear with all my jeans and other trousers too.  I am so chuffed and asked myself why I didn't do this before?

To all the naturally frugal people out there, I know they may well be laughing at me or thinking what a simpleton I am.  But I'd just like to say, we're all good at different things.  And sometimes people's journeys start later or take longer with different twists & turns than others.  We're bombarded on an hourly basis of every day with obvious and subliminal images of what we should look like, what we should be wearing, where we should be spending our time when we're not at work even what we should be drinking and some people are more resistant to it or parts of it, than others.

I've taken a massive turn this weekend after seeing what is the equivalent of a huge lit up road sign and I feel happier.

Thanks for reading - and hopefully, not judging.

Lots of love.
xx

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Giving Up Not An Option....

Evening readers.  Thank you Enid & Ciaran for your protein suggestion recently.  Unsure if you would have seen my comment in response?  Basically I thanked you very much but said I am vegetarian so I don't eat meat or fish.  I wondered if there was a veggie equivalent that might work though!   Feel free to suggest anything, I am open to suggestions.

Well things feel like a long hard slog at the moment.  Weight going in the wrong direction even though I'm trying.  Overdraft going in the wrong direction...even though I'm trying.  Ever just feel like someone up there just doesn't like you?

I made a saving of over £30 on my home insurance recently....brilliant.  Only for the next day a tyre needed repairing as a screw went straight through the middle of a rear tyre (which was new last summer and has barely on miles on it).  Fair enough not as expensive as a brand new tyre but annoying nonetheless.  You could argue that the home insurance saving paid for that, yes that is definitely one way of looking at it but I had been ecstatic that it was going to be a big £30 chip away at my overdraft.

I was cycling to work to save money on parking AND get some exercise....the rain won't stop coming down now and if it does I have a bad back through other exercise I did trying to be healthy!  Great.

And a million other niggly bits that have happened, that I won't bore you with, but suffice to say I feel deflated.

But I know.....you just have to carry on don't you?  Tempting as it is to throw my hands up in the air and say "Why the hell do I even bother?" I know that'll result in things really sliding downhill. I guess I am just feeling a little down and wishing that something encouraging would happen to give me a boost.

TTFN I think I will go off and browse some blogs for some inspiration.

Fingers crossed for a better post next time peeps!

xx

Monday, 9 July 2012

Back!

Hello!

Well the good news is, the cold has gone.  It did take it's time to fully bugger off, but bugger off it finally did.  About the middle of last week I suppose. 

The bad news is....I did my back in again at the end of the week.






I have to say it was probably all my own fault.  I wasn't lifting a box from the waist as per above.  Actually I did a free home work out last Wednesday, using the wii fit and Just Dance and I went a bit bonkers without a proper warm up, no warm down and no stretching afterwards.  What a complete IDIOT.  Anyway the next day I felt like, well, I'd done a work out (I also cycled to work and back) then by Friday things started to feel a little uncomfortable in the lower spine area.  Come Friday night I really knew about it.  But decided to do all the housework anyway to get it out of the way for the weekend.  This included washing kitchen & bathroom floors.

I'm so smart aren't I?




So anyway you can probably guess how Saturday & Sunday went can't you?  I am 41 but felt about 91, seriously.  I could barely lean forward at the sink to clean my teeth and leaning over the bath to wash my hair was an adventure to say the least.

Anyhow after many hot water bottles, pain killers, stretches and shifting of positions later, it is on the mend now.  Oh, I managed to give myself a blister from a very hot water bottle too, to boot.  Doofus.

Anyway it's getting there now, I can at least move more freely and I went out for a half hour walk at lunchtime with a colleague/friend for some free exercise.  My back feels better if I am moving around actually.

So, lesson learned.  Exercise is clearly bad for you!  Only kidding.

Well I weighed myself tonight, convinced that I was going to be a bit lighter.  I have been so good recently in that I have cut portion sizes down, I have resisted lots of in between meals snacks (a previous downfall) and I have been more active than I have been in a long time.  Uh UHHHHHHH computer says NOOOO.  Apparently I have put ON two pounds since last weigh in 5 days ago.  Well thanks a bloody lot. 

The answer is definitely not to give up and push a box of white chocolate chip cookies into my face to cheer myself up, I know that.  The answer is not to stop being active or go back to the bigger portion sizes.  I know that too.  The answer is to be thankful that tonight I am still able to wear a pair of size 12 jeans I bought in a charity shop about 3 years ago and be thankful that my waist size hasn't increased.  It's still under the national average by about 2 inches. 

However my doctor thinks, even after looking at me and seeing I am not particularly big, that it wouldn't be a bad idea to lose a few kilos.  I am 5' 7" and weight 12st 7.  That is officially overweight. And tonight - I've shown I am even going in the wrong direction, after a week of being especially good & active.   

If I had stayed the same weight I could maybe accept that.  But to put 2 pounds on in less than a week?  Oh and yes I do weigh myself at the same time of day as I know that can affect things. 

It's annoying!  I am so annoyed!  REALLY ANNOYED.

I'm off to sulk.


 
I hope you're all having a better evening than I am!

Bye for now.  Sleep well. xx

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Be Gone Damn Cold!

Hello to everyone and welcome to Michele, my newest follower, very nice to have you on board.

The good news is, after three days off work last week, extra zinc, tonnes of orange juice and a couple of Brazil nuts a day for immune system boosting selenium, the cold started to wane come Tuesday night/Wednesday morning.  I went back to work on the Thursday.  The bad news is, I am still coughing quite a lot and blowing my nose for Britain but at least I do feel a lot sparkier for most of the day.  However both today & yesterday I found myself napping on the sofa in the afternoon, completely unable to keep my eyes open so I guess my body is still fighting it off!

I didn't get to do much thinking (as I thought I would) on the days off, I was just too busy sitting there going "Gahhhhhhhh.....achooo!  Gahhhhhhh.....snuffle......splllllltttttthhhhhh"  (that last one is my attempt at the noise you make blowing your nose....). 

Since then I have pondered over my spreadsheet and I just don't know where I can make any more helpful cut backs to try and pull my overdraft back any sooner than about November, and this all hinges on no disasters happening between now and then!  I am impatient though and would love to have results now.  But I know I should grow up a bit and realise I can't have everything NOW.  Perhaps a bit of that spirit would have stopped me getting into my overdraft in the first place and would help me stay out of it in the future eh?

The plan has to be long term doesn't it?  There are no easy quick fixes.  Mainly I suppose I am worried about the space & time between now and November and all the temptations, invitations, possible problems and so on that could happen to drag me off the path between now and then.  And boredom.  There's no getting away from it, I do get bored and this sodding weather isn't helping!  Sometimes just getting out for a walk helps but lashings of rain is not conducive to country walks! 

I am envious of my fellow bloggers who have interesting countryside and geographical features to look at for free on the weekends.  I live in one of the most culture-less and  featureless places in the country (that's not an exaggeration it's the absolute truth) so please, next time you're out looking at nearby beautiful hills, cliffs, fantastic old buildings or strolling along a beach front, spare a thought for me! :-)

Still at least I have my holiday in Cornwall to look forward to.  The savings are still happening.  We've saved enough for petrol now, hee hee!  So if nothing else we have the cottage paid for and the money to get there and back plus a little bit more.  So if nothing else, we can get there, get home and buy ourselves some delicious seaside chips in between and enjoy the coast for free!  :-)   In reality if all goes to plan, we'll have saved a fair bit more by end of August so we can get out and about a bit and have a happy week.

Some of my friends are upping sticks all the time to go away on one holiday after another (with frequent weekends away somewhere in Europe to stem the boredom of home).  I am sure they see some wonderful things but I think I'm probably right to assume they won't ever appreciate a holiday as much as I am going to appreciate our little jaunt down to the West Country because we've saved and saved for this for well over a year and we probably won't go on holiday again for a few years.  I want to enjoy every bit of it from the moment we lock the front door and drive down (i.e good music on the stereo, some naughty snack along the way...!) to that moment of relief when you arrive and put the kettle on.  If the weather is kind (oh please be kind!) then every step of every coastal walk will be treasured and I may well reward myself with one or two local ice creams....mmmmm delicious.  Peaceful, tranquil nights away from the busy road which we live by and no rushing to get up early for anything in particular, except a lazy, tasty breakfast (hopefully on the cottage patio) and more fresh Cornish sea side air.

Readers, keep your fingers crossed for me that we have an Indian summer this year as if the weather is appalling after all this, I think my heart would break!

OK bye bye for now, I hope to update soon with some more positive news i.e. the cold has finally buggered off and I've had a breakthrough on the money and 'entertainment' front!

Have a good week.

xx

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Can't Afford to be Poorly!

Evening all, I hope you're all feeling better than I am right now.

Started with a dry, sore throat in the middle of last week which has not got any better and now my nose has started to stream, I'm sneezing and coughing too.  I had aches & pains yesterday (slightly eased off now with the help of a hot lemon drink earlier) and generally right now I feel a bit crap.

Really want to get better soon....can't afford sore throat sweets, soft tissues for avoiding a red raw nose and all the rest of it!  I do have a throat spray left over from about a year ago which I am eking out and luckily I have lots of paracetamol in the medicine tin which I can just have with hot cordial if the aches come back.  My nose will have to put up with my cotton handkerchiefs and a bit of lotion rubbed in should it start to chafe! 

Have drunk so much today to try and keep my throat from driving me mad and just finished off a little ice lolly as well!  I am not sure I'll be at work tomorrow especially as I work in a hospital and very near to a ward full of elderly patients who've had falls and broken limbs.  I am sure the last thing that is required is a load of germs making them feel worse.

If I am off tomorrow, if I am not sleeping, I am going to be taking stock of a few things I think and looking at ways to improve certain areas of my life.  The work is sorted (touch wood) but life's never a smooth path, there are always bumps and potholes along the way from one thing or another aren't there? 

Bye for now all.

xx

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

So true...

Had to share this.....hope it come out!  *Edit:  try and enlarge it to see the text underneath.  ;-)

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Not the Right Time...

Hi there, I hope you are all well despite this disappointment of a "summer" so far.  Although officially summer doesn't start till about 21st June I suppose but, nevertheless, it still feels like Autumn to me!  I've got a big fleecy cardigan on and the halogen heater is on/off as well!  Still, what can you do?

Thanks for the comments on the job front.  I decided not to apply for it in the end.  And here's why:

I have job hopped so much in search of happiness, over the last 4/5 years and finally, I feel happy in the role I am currently in.  When it came down to it, the thought of having to go through all the long formal application, a grilling interview and then, should I be selected, start all over again in less than a year of starting my current job, made me feel a bit queasy.  When I asked myself what I really wanted, the answer was, simply to enjoy this role a bit longer and really make the best of it and not go for another job just because it was there.  Sure it would have been a bit more money but truth is, I don't care about that.  It's financially tough at times but the bills are getting paid and we're getting by. 

What matters to me right now is getting to Sunday nights and not wanting to kill myself because I hated the job I was going to the next day.  It matters to me that I am really getting to grips now with the role and implementing the new knowledge and hopefully really helping people on the other end of the phone.  I simply want to have that stability for a while.

I have been in enough jobs to know that it hardly ever stays like that (forever) and one day I will realise I am coming to the end of the 'honeymoon period' in the job and I'll need another challenge.  And that's fine.  I'll deal with that when it happens and if there is another opportunity within the department I shall go for it.  But that's then and this is now.  I feel happy with my decision and it felt right for me.  My Line Manager may be disappointed with me but hey ho.  He'll get over it I'm sure!

So there you go that's that.

In other news, happily I paid off the balance to a holiday we have planned for late Summer down to Cornwall which hubby and I have been saving for since last July!  So the holiday is bought and paid for, now we are just saving for some spending money and the petrol to drive down there and back (and around and about should we decide to venture further than the beach & cottage garden!).  This has given me a boost as I have something to look forward to now.  I don't think we'll have another holiday again for a couple of years at least so, I'm really hoping for fine weather when we're there.

Our fourth Approved Foods order is due tomorrow.  I'm so grateful I heard about the site from Frugal Queen's blog, I know I have said that before, but I truly am.  This time I've saved a fortune on cereal bars and dairy free desserts which are packed lunch staples in this household.  I check most days to see what they have especially by way of breakfast cereals and it is hit & miss but I generally can use a number of things they have on offer. 

I popped to Aldi today for the usual weekly shop for fresh fruit & veg and some other usual weekly bits and was delighted to see that they had some Earl Grey tea in for 99p a box!  So a box went in the trolley and I had one when I got home...and was satisfied with it.  If you like Earl Grey, I'd say give it a go.  It may need a little longer in the cup or pot than some of the labelled brands but for 99p, you'd be crazy not to try it.

I also popped into a charity shop earlier and found a fabulous quality striped top with the modern twist 'batwing' effect (I hope you know what I mean otherwise it just sounds horrendous) and a ribbed/tight finish right at the bottom where it sits on the top of your hips.  Versatile to go with jeans or work trousers so I was pleased with that.  I would post up a photo but it's in the wash as I type!  I also got an electric blue plain t-shirt for hubby which he really liked.  He can never have enough t-shirts/tops as he's a master of the spilled curry or pasta sauce which refuse to come out no matter what I do, so spending top dollar on clothes for him, even if I was minted, would be pretty stupid.

Something else I decided to try last weekend (Jubbly weekend) was start using bicarbonate of soda after cleaning my teeth normally, for whitening.  I can't even entertain the idea of spending £4+ on whitening toothpastes now so I just heap a little onto my toothbrush when there is still some toothpaste left on it, and clean for about another minute, no more than that.  It tastes foul however it does the trick and no mistake!  A large pot from Tesco cost me 99p and it'll last for AGES.  I'm chuffed with that.  My teeth feel so clean and although they're hardly Hollywood white (you'd need bleaching kits for that!) they are clean, bright and healthy looking. 

Well not too much else to report from here....I am out tonight...being treated to a film at the cinema so I am looking forward to that.  All I have to do is drive there which I am happy to do!  I can't remember the last time I went out on a Tuesday night so it'll be appreciated.  I've cut right back on money for 'going out'.  I won't say I never go out as that would be a blatant lie but, it's barely anything these days.  I have made a plan for the next 6 months or so and if I stick to it, I should be overdraft free within that time and will have put some savings away.  I know some people would say "Why save if you are overdrawn?" but I do because:

a)  If something crops up I don't want to go deeper into my overdraft
b)  My overdraft is completely free/no interest up to a certain point so it's not costing me anything to save if that makes sense.

Wish me luck, I have to say I need all the encouragement I can get to stick to the plan!  I do like to be a little social and see my friends & family but not a lot is free is it, so some money always ends up getting spent.  And I can get carried away with the moment at times, I'm the first to admit it.  More education (or even some!) is required for the whole country on how not to be a hermit and not run up debts in the process I think!

OK that really is it so I shall bid you adieu for now.  Thanks for reading!  And feel free to add your comments on what you do to be social, for free or very little money.  I'd love to read them.

xxx

Sunday, 3 June 2012

The Jubbly Weekend!

Hi there, how are you on this rainy Jubilee Sunday? I am having a day of enforced relaxation as it's pouring down outside! It's been lovely though - I had a bit of a lie in, then came down to a lovely breakfast of tea & brown sugary porridge which hubby made, then after washing up I embarked on some home administered pampering (free!) topped off my a long hot shower with my favourite soap "Dove" which I treated myself to yesterday as I had some Tesco vouchers.  I love the smell of Dove soap it's so nice.

After a frugal lunch of beans on ALDI seeded bread toast (which incidentally is one of my favourite lunches!) I am now watching some tv.  I don't know about you but I am middle-of-the-road when it comes to the Royal Family and all this Jubilee stuff.  I'm watching the start of the flotilla because it's history in front of me and I feel I want to see at least some of it.  So here I am, on the sofa, cup of tea, tv on, laptop here...and I'm quite happy.  Hubby has closeted himself away in the other room with his OU studies - he's hardly what you'd call a Royal fan!

Life's been quiet generally although I have a doctor's appointment on Wednesday to discuss my recent blood test results.  I already know what it's going to be about......I am vitamin D deficient.  I had to visit the nurse for something else in this last week and she looked on my notes when I mentioned it and told me!  I am happy that at least I know what I am being "recalled" for and I know that it is quite easily treatable.  And on the plus side, once my Vit D levels are back up to what they should be I am hoping this will give me a big boost and help my back problems as well.  For those who don't know, Vitamin D deficiency can give way to aches & pains and bone pains amongst other things.

There is a vacancy opening at the hospital within the department I work in and I am in a dilemma about it.  It's going up a banding and I would be a "Senior" should I go for it and get it (and my Manager thinks I should go for it and that I have as good a chance as anyone even though I have only been there 8 months!).  However I quite like the job I am doing right now and would quite like a bit more time doing it if I am honest.

But these opportunities don't come up very often.  I know I could do the job although there may be a short period of time to get some foundation knowledge built up (wouldn't take too long) but the big question is...do I want to do it?  Lots of people are saying "Just go for it!" even if for the interview experience but I need to answer the question of myself first:  "do I want this job?" before I waste anyone's time (including my own) filling out a long application form and going through the tough interview process.  And what happens if I do all that and actually get offered the job and I am still not sure if I want it!  Imagine that!  (Getting ahead of myself a bit there though I know.)

OK well I hope you all continue to enjoy your "Jubbly! weekend break and the spectacle that is this flotilla, should you be watching it.

Bye for now.

xx

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Results

Evening all, how are you today?

I am sitting here in floods of tears watching "Planet Earth" and seeing the baby elephants struggling to cross the river...some got swept away and it was the most heartbreaking thing to watch.   The elephant group has been reduced due to poachers (for ivory) so the Matriarchs who can judge the river are not around...so the younger ones take the risk and this what happens.  It's so so sad and distressing to watch.   Oh but here we go, they are about to update us on it actually.....

...so further down the river, the babies do struggle but they eventually make it out.  Oh good God what a mess I am watching this.  They must be so distressed and exhausted!  But good news, they made it out and off they go.  Ohhhhhhh dear, pass me a handkerchief!

Anyway it wasn't my intention to write about struggling baby elephants but there you go! 

Well I got my blood test results back today and mostly good and in range for the things I was tested for.  The Vitamin D test didn't come back for some reason the Nurse on the phone advised so I will need to see if the Doctor calls me in the next few working days because that was one of the things I wanted checking.  My calcium levels were a "bit" high but without knowing what my Vitamin D levels are I don't know if that is a worry or not. 

However iron, B12, folate were all ok which is good news especially as I have struggled with anaemia in the past. 

My back ache is gone though my lower back is slightly stiff in the morning but a hot shower sorts that out.  I am back on my bike this week which I think is helping actually as well as saving me £2 a day when I need to take the car!

As for the weight, well, I don't think I have lost anything even though I have been trying hard to stick to a calorie limit and get some exercise.  But someone said to me today that I looked "tiny" especially top half and none of my clothes are feeling tight so...I don't know.  Part of me wants to just forget about what the scales say but part of me thinks I can't ignore it in case there is something 'hidden' causing me weigh 2.5 - 3 stone more than I look!   Sometimes it is hard to know what to do for the best and I don't want the GP to think I am some paranoid hypochondriac! 

Right, I am off to make my frugal home made lunch for tomorrow.  Nearly the weekend!  I hope you all have at least one nice thing planned for your break.

Cheerio for now!

PS.  ARGH!  Now they're showing a buffalo being attacked by lions!  It's all too stressful for me!  Think I'll put on Die Hard or something mindless!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

The Doctor Will See You Now...

Hello again and hello & welcome to my new followers.  Lovely to have you around.  It always makes my day when I see someone else has decided to follow my ramblings!  So thank you for choosing to follow.  And thank you to all who commented on my last post where I was quite flat.  I appreciate your time to try & cheer me up.

Well I went to the Doctors today for a chat and some tests.  I do have to go back on Friday morning for a fasting blood test as she was concerned enough by my symptoms to agree to it.  So we'll see how that comes back.  She is also going to check my iron levels (full blood count), Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, folate and something to do with calcium as well.  Very thorough eh?

I also had a bit of an MOT whilst I was there.  Blood pressure slightly elevated at 141/85 (second reading) but that was not high enough for her to be concerned to 'take action' I guess especially if you take into consideration the "white coat" factor, oh, and the incident in the waiting room of which I shall tell ye more in a minute!

I also asked her to listen to my heartbeat and that was fine too.  I asked for her to check it as I am aware of palpitations at times, and seems I was there, I may as well ask! 

She also weighed me and I was 80kg.  The 'system' said my ideal weight was 66kg.  Even the GP looked at me and said "No!  No way, that is TOO much!" (in her lovely accent with it's slight West African twang) and she went on to say "If you tried to get down that much you would be *this* thin (holding up her finger) and you would be ill!"

THAT, dear readers, really made me happy!  I was delighted that someone in the medical profession agreed that losing over 2 stone just to fit into a chart, is a ridiculous notion.  What she did say, is, if I want to aim for something, aim for the weight I was last time the (previous) GP weighed me which was 75kg.  She advised trying for a kilo a month (2.2lbs), so, take it slowly and don't rush it.  I was perfectly happy with that.  That is 11 pounds to lose from today. 

11 pounds does feel a bit daunting but I think it's do-able if I make some sensible changes and really look at what I am getting for my calories during the day.  It's like getting more for your money really isn't it?

So there we are.  Just the blood tests to be done and results reviewed so we know if there is anything to include more of in the diet then I can really get on with it.

I shall post again in due course!  Fingers crossed.

Oh!  And the waiting room incident!  I was sitting there minding my own business, when a elderly gentleman came in and sat next to me.  This guy had some health issues in that he couldn't speak (not sure if it was due to a stroke or something else) and he also had an issue with his leg.  Anyway he sat next to me and before long had got my attention to check what the time was.  I told him the time and he gestured he wanted to go out for a cigarette (naughty!) but he was next in the queue - did I think he had time?  I said "No, you'll have to wait I think" to which he looked a bit deflated but hey ho. 

Then after that, he took a bit of a shine to me and he managed to point out to me that he was wearing his Manchester United track suit bottoms (!) to which I said "OK, well I don't think you're going to win the league this year!" which he waggled his hand at as if to say "Maybe!" then he gestured to ask me who I supported.  I showed him my keyring which has the Liverpool emblem on it and that cracked him up!  We were having a right little conversation between us I have to say.  But then he made a rocking baby gesture to ask if I had children.  I said no, then he checked my hand to see that I was wearing an engagement & wedding ring and checked that yes I was married.  THEN, bold as brass he asked me if I wanted to go to the pub and have a drink with him!  At 9.45am to boot!  I said no (oh really?) but he seemed surprised by that (?) and was trying to pursue it but luckily, his Doctor called him in.  I sat there stressing out thinking "Please let my Doctor call me in before he comes back out!!"

My doctor called me in just as he was coming out, he made a sweeping gesture for me to go through the door before he came out so I said "thank you!" and rushed through to my GP's room all a-fluster! 

So, with all that in mind, perhaps a 141/85 blood pressure reading wasn't too bad eh??






Till next time!

Monday, 7 May 2012

Keep On Keeping On...

Hello there everyone, how are you?  How is your Bank Holiday going?  It's cold, grey, windy & drizzly where I am, atypical Bank Holiday weather eh?  Firstly thanks to everyone who mentioned I could change my Blog settings back - I did so and it's so much better.

Well apologies for the lack of blogs recently, I am feeling very uninspired about things I have to admit.  There's no money, the weather has been horrendous for the last month at least which means I can't even enjoy a nice walk and then on top of all that, last weekend my lower back decided to give out!  It's on the mend now - I found some free yoga advice & videos online which have helped plus I have a friend overseas who is very into yoga so she offered some tips too. 

However all things concerned, life feels bland at the moment.  Just getting up for work, coming home, eating dinner, not doing much in the evenings, going to bed then doing it all again.

I did throw myself into trying to lose a bit of weight didn't I.  That went well for about 3 weeks (lost about 5 pounds) then all went downhill when I hurt my back (bloody typical!) as it meant the aerobic exercise pretty much went out of the window and I comfort ate as well, all last week.  So I need to get back on track with that as well.  I have definitely put some weight back on so I am probably back to where I started.

I am actually off to the Doctor this coming week for a bit of a chat as I am worried about a few things: my weight for a start.  WHY do I weigh so much when people think I weigh about 3 stone less than I actually do?  I want my blood pressure checked and if possible, my Vitamin D levels checked along with my iron.  And possibly blood sugar levels as well as I keep getting the shakes & instant hunger which is a bit weird.  One of my sisters is hypoglycaemic and she's urged me to talk to the GP just in case as I also get jittery, bad tempered & get some headaches with it as well. 

Oh dear!  I feel like a bit of a wreck at the moment if I am honest.  But, I am just carrying on, just trying to keep my head above water financially for now with a plan to try and improve things later on this year.  I hope, I really really hope, that the sun comes out soon.  I am feeling very lethargic and down.  I need the sunshine to cheer me up.  I am longing for a lovely long walk in the warmth but it's just not happening. 

Well apologies for the depressing post.  I just wanted to check in with you.

Here's hoping you are all doing much better. 

Take care. x

Sunday, 22 April 2012

I Go Away For a Week and Look What Happens!

Hi there!  Well, lookie here....Blogger's got a whole new look!  At least it has on my input screen, I presume it has on yours too?  Not sure what I think about it to be honest but I guess I will just have to get used to it won't I?

So how are you all today?  Dodging the showers out there hopefully!  Hi to new followers and thanks for the recent comments as well.

So, going back to work was awful as you would expect but once I got into the swing of things again I guess it wasn't soooo bad.  I really detest getting up early though so having a long week off where things are a little more leisurely makes it even worse when things get back to normal!  I asked a friend of mine once, who is a very very early riser, how she did it when the alarm went off at such ungodly hours (in my opinion anyway!) and the answer was pretty simple.  "Well we all have to get up at some point so I just get on with it!".  Can't argue with that and I do try and keep that in the forefront of my mind on the days when I am tempted to hit snooze for that bit of extra zzz time...a slippery slope that is!

As you can probably imagine, I was happy for the weekend to arrive but I haven't really done anything exciting with it....but to be honest that is fine by me!  I had a massive basket of washing to sort out as well as the sheets & towels as ever, a frugal meal plan to, errr, plan, dinner to cook last night, chores to be done around the house and some Wii fit exercise to be carried out!

The Wii fit exercise was crowbarred into my day last Monday after a shocking revelation on some scales recently (pre-holiday time).  Although to look at me you wouldn't say I am overweight, three pairs of scales and numerous body charts all tell a very different story.  By about a stone and a half apparently!  Now, I am 5' 7" (67cm to those of you who work with sensible measuring systems) and weighed in at 12st 13 (181 pounds or just over 82kg)  on a pair of hospital clinic scales.  This is H-E -A-V-Y for a 41 year old female.  However everyone whom I have dared to confide in, bar none, have all said "No!  Really?  You don't look it!" when I made the big reveal.  So I think muscles and big old bone density (yep that old chestnut) really must play a part in this??  Or am I in denial?

I fit into tops that range from a size 8 to a size 12 and trousers which range from a size 12 to a size 14 depending on the make/brand.  (All sizes UK sizes obviously.)  So from that, assume what you will but I would hope you would assume I am not a contender for "A Year To Save My Life - Obese Special".

Anyway the scales scared the bejesus out of me because fairly slim or not fairly slim, nearly 13st is pretty bl00dy heavy and I need to do something about it.  So this week I decided to take action!  So I have signed up to an online calorie logging site (available at Everydayhealth.com if interested) and set a sensible calorie limit which incorporates a 500 calorie drop (per day) to try and lose a pound a week.  I also decided that although when the weather is good I do cycle to work, it's too inconsistent so I need to incorporate more exercise.  So that's why the Wii and the Wii Fit board have been dug back out!

I bought the Wii stuff a few years ago when I got a bonus from a better paid job and although I used it for the first year or so, it then got put away...like so much in life sadly.  But!  Happily I realised this can be a very useful tool in my war on weight so out it came again along with Wii Fit and my Just Dance discs.  I have used it 4 times since last Monday (inclusive).  I weighed myself last night and I am down to 12st 8!  So 5 pounds gone since I weighed myself just before my long week off. 

I am pleased with that and I am really enjoying the extra activities I am doing.  I love the 'step' activity on Wii Fit (though was never interested in it, in real life strangely!), love the jogging (but again you wouldn't catch me outside jogging on the mean streets!), the rhythm boxing is fun as is "Kung Fu Moves" and if you want a real laugh, try the hula hooping!  (I don't do that for too long....you do feel like a plum!)

As for Just Dance, that was made for me.  I absolutely love it.  Some are definitely harder than others but some are easy to follow but give you a great work out.  I love dancing, I always have had dance in my life in one format or another but now I can't get out dancing for real due to lack of funds or facilities (or just feeling too old to even think about going to a club for that sort of dancing!) this helps fill a gap.  I recommend it for some fun movement if you need a bit of activity injected into your day.  I have Just Dance 1, 2 & 3 and I still go back to quite a few on the first disc. 

So, that's what I am up to at the moment, trying to shed a bit of excess baggage!  Wish me luck and if you have any pearls of wisdom to offer....feel free!

Bye for now.

x






Saturday, 14 April 2012

Trying to Enjoy My Last Two Days Off Work

Hi there, how are you all today?  Welcome to my recent new followers, it's lovely to see you!  And thank you to all who have commented of late.  I see we are all pretty similar when it comes to the National Lottery!  Yes just how lovely it would be to look after those nearest & dearest to us as well as enjoying some financial freedoms ourselves.

So here I am, the last two days off of work before back on the bike and back to the grindstone on Monday morning.  I am still massively grateful I have left the other awful place I worked at before but I am not going to pretend I'm looking forward to going back to work after such a nice week off!  I think that's probably another thing we're mostly all in agreement on isn't it?  But it has been lovely with a good balance of relaxation, busy times and seeing friends and my Mum too.

So it's a fairly sunny day today but fresh...the wind is a little chilly but it's good washing drying weather for the towels and other "whites" I washed overnight.  I was awake at about 8.30am this morning when postie knocked for a signed delivery and I was up & about properly not long after that.  I have given the kitchen and bathroom a clean and I really should give the lounge a once over but I appear to be glued to the sofa with Liverpool v Everton on the radio!  Anyway all housework was done on Tuesday so it's hardly a hovel.  I'll get my act together when the game finishes and whip the vacuum cleaner around and a duster.

We're off out tonight to a comedy show.  I bought a couple of tickets for Jo Caulfield a while ago with the intention of taking a lady I work with, as a thank you for all the lifts she'd given me to work over the Winter period but unfortunately it didn't pan out as her sister subsequently booked the same date for her wedding...how very dare she!  Some people are all self self self aren't they?  Only joking obviously.  So anyway, hubby is coming with me tonight - it's the first night out since his birthday treat in February when we went to see the Spaghetti Western Orchestra (who were brilliant).  I am looking forward to going out, it is a bit of a drive but not too bad.  Part of me would like to just snuggle up on the sofa tonight with a film but I will go out and hopefully have a good giggle.

Tomorrow I am really hoping will be dry even if not sunny as I would like to get out for a walk and get some fresh air/exercise.  I am carrying some extra weight at the moment even though my friends have said they can't see where, I know that I am as two pairs of scales have told me so!  So I really need to start getting some more exercise as well as watching what I eat for a while.  I'm still fitting into all my clothes though so it's hopefully salvageable!

Well I do hope that you are all having a good weekend, whatever that involves for you.  Wish me luck for Monday....!

Bye for now. xx

Thursday, 12 April 2012

I Won The Lottery!!!

I bought a ticket last week on the spur of the moment for two draws.  Nothing on Saturday which left the Wednesday 11th draw.  I woke up this morning and daydreamed about how great it would be if last night's draw had been kind to me then decided to check the results on my mobile.  And I thought "Hang on....I've got at least three of those..." so I bolted out of bed and ran down to where the lottery ticket was, and...I had............four numbers!



So that was better than a poke in the eye with a stick!  £99 in my hands less than half an hour later after a quick dash to make myself decent and get round to Tesco to take some money off them for a change!

So early retirement and generous gifts will have to wait for now (!) but what a nice start to the day eh?

It's allowed me to fill my little car up with petrol, put some cash away for next week's groceries, get some stamps & greetings cards, treat hubby & I to a bottle of wine each (and him a packet of posh coffee....a real treat for his weekend mornings with marmalade on toast!) and I added a little bit to my Body Shop voucher today to get myself three of my favourite products.   I have a bit left as well which I will use tomorrow when I meet a good friend for a chat and a cuppa.

I also discovered that I had £1 left online in my Lottery account (I don't use it frequently) so I have picked 6 random numbers for this Saturday's draw.  This allows me to wake up Saturday morning and allow myself to daydream again....  :-)

Winning the lottery is a little daydream I have and I am not a person who spends pounds a week on trying.  It's just a pound here and there and that allows me to dream occasionally.  I do get lost in my little daydreams, it's true!

As well as the obvious things like being able to pay my mortgage off, I'd truly love the opportunity to make a difference to family & friends' lives.  And I would really be grateful for an opportunity to visit my friend who emigrated to Australia in 2010. 

But I would also try and plough money into local schemes and charities.  I would like to buy some wells for villages in 3rd world countries where clean water is so badly needed, plough some money into World Vision's scheme where they loan money to small businesses that want to start up in some of the world's poorest countries.  Sometimes people just need a chance to turn their lives around and not just a handout.

I'd also buy a massive vat of vanilla body lotion obviously!  ;-)

What would you do with a big lottery win?  

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

The Holidays Continue...

Good evening to you.

Well the Easter break is officially over - did you indulge?  I must confess I did munch my way through one egg and three little packs of treat chocolates that came with it!  My hubby bought me the egg and who was I to say "No no darling please take it back!"   That so wasn't going to happen....

I treated hubby to a dairy free Easter Egg which he said was tasty.  It came with little caramel chocolates which again, were tasty I am told.  I couldn't resist, I bought him a Lindt dark chocolate bunny as well...they're so cute!  He's worth spoiling.



So a lot of people were back to work today but I booked some annual leave to extend the holidays so I have all this week off too.  I get 27 days a year plus Bank Holidays (which is generous I acknowledge) so I wanted to enjoy that feeling of getting to Bank Holiday Monday evening and knowing I didn't have to worry about work the next day...or the day after that...or the day after that and so on!   Loving it.

So far with my time off work/the holidays, I have seen my Mum for the day (she lives about 70 miles away), watched world championship track cycling on the tv (a love of mine), cleaned the house from top to bottom, caught up on a lot of washing between rain showers, seen or am seeing friends, done the grocery shopping, got my ironing out of the way (did that on my first day off so it was done and not hanging around waiting to ruin my last day off!  Good idea I thought...), enjoyed a birthday....and still got  five more days! 

For my birthday I did get some John Lewis vouchers and a Body Shop gift card.  I can't tell you how excited I am about this.  I know I know that a lot of you can't bear shopping or perhaps you think vouchers are boring but for me this is brilliant.  I absolutely love seeking out lovely smelling toiletries for ones ablutions!  And body lotions to follow. 

John Lewis have a body lotion by Australian Organics called "Evening Primrose" which includes patchouli which smells completely divine.  That's on the hit list.  It's not outrageously priced but it's not cheap either.  Definitely a treat to be had and using vouchers is perfect for such a thing. 



And as for The Body Shop, I could literally buy everything they do for shower & body!  I especially love the vanilla & Neroli ranges.

I shall be stocking up on bits and bobs which will see me through for months and months and I shall enjoy perusing and choosing.  Getting ready in the mornings is not anywhere near so much of a chore when you're using gorgeously scented and animal friendly products!










I think I have talked myself into browsing The Body Shop website now to get some ideas!

Bye for now, enjoy your week.
xxx

Friday, 6 April 2012

Happy Birthday To Meeeee

Hello there, apologies for the absence of late.  How are you all?

So today was my birthday!  And I feel I have been spoiled rotten.  I had a bit of a lie in then hubby made me breakfast and a cup of tea and gathered up all my cards and presents into a lovely pile on the coffee table.  He made me eat my breakfast before I was allowed to open anything...wise man.

Friends and family have been very sweet and thoughtful and I got some wonderful cards and gifts, all of which I love and am grateful for. 

After texting and emailing lots of thank you messages (I know it's probably nicer to phone but I wouldn't have got off the phone for hours believe me!), it was time to get ready then go out for the day.  We went to the big park in our city to take a walk around and look at the lovely flower beds and we had a hot drink in the little Italian cafe there.  After that we came home and went for another walk around our village area, stopping in at the local chippy for 'open' chips for our lunch.  As we'd been out walking, we felt we were allowed!  :-)

We spent the afternoon at hubby's parents as we haven't seen them for a while and also hubby's elderly Gran is staying there for a while to recuperate from a mini stroke and a fall.  So we could see her too, bless her.

We came home and had home made veggie Mexican food and some drinks.  We didn't venture out anywhere thereafter as it was just so cosy and happy at home, listening to some good music and just enjoying ourselves here.  I am past caring about going into town now....that's for people half my age now (or even younger) which I completely accept.  I wouldn't last 5 minutes!  All that shrieking, crap music and alcohol induced vomiting....euw no thanks.

So hubby has spoiled me, made sure my glass has been topped up, supplied me with chocolate and generally looked after me.  I am lucky and I know it.

Off to bed soon after what feels like a long lovely day and indeed it was a Good Friday.  I hope yours was too.  Enjoy your Easter weekend!

x x x

Monday, 26 March 2012

A Calmer Day...

Hi there.  Thanks for your comments on yesterdays ranting post.  Happy to say I am a lot calmer today.  I am glad I am not the only one who is angry & frustrated about things though.  Well, not that I ever seriously thought I would be.  But it's good to get some feedback anyhow.

I have had the day off (using up straggling days of annual leave as the holiday year starts again in April) and it was another cracking day today.  I sat outside this afternoon on our little patio area and enjoyed sunshine for a while.  No sun cream on....I am sure I am vitamin D deficient after what feels like an eternal winter indoors in jumpers and cardigans so I was going to get some sun on my skin! 

I enjoyed watching the bees and the odd butterfly in the garden, flitting between the springtime flowers and I had the odd ladybird come visit me too.  My second Approved Foods order arrived early afternoon and there were some already chilled bottles of ginger beer in the package (I guess it gets cold in the back of that delivery van!) so I enjoyed sipping that in the sunshine.  A neighbour in a nearby property had their non obnoxious music on relatively quietly and her little toddler was making cute little toddler noises which all made for nice backdrop sounds for once!  Aaahhhh it was lovely.

I have a friend coming over soon who I haven't seen for a good 6 months so I am looking forward to a cup of tea and a shared Twix (!) and a good catch up.

Back to work tomorrow (sigh) but at least the weather is supposed to be great for the rest of the week so that should make for good cycling weather.  Looking forward to Easter now - especially as I have some more time off then as well! 

Here's hoping you get a nice big Easter Egg (and if not...buy your own!).  But I should be posting again before then.  Here's something to whet your Easter appetite though! 

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Anger & Sunny Days Don't Mix!

Hello there!  What a lovely weekend it has been once the fog has lifted in the mornings.  Bright sunshine and mild temperatures.  Beautiful. But I am so angry and it feels so wrong when it is so gorgeous outside!

So what am I angry about?  THIS PATHETIC EXCUSE FOR A GOVERNMENT!

So this morning we wake up to the news that the Tory party Treasurer has resigned over the cash-for-access scandal.  Absolutely no surprise to me though.  All I ever remember from the previous long running Tory government was sleazy scandal after sleazy scandal.  Buttock Face Cameron might like to pretend that's all a thing of the past but I don't think so.  Oh no.  Too much rich old Etonian boys back slapping networking going on in that party for it to ever change.  At the end of the day, when do the Tories ever give a rats ass about anyone that doesn't earn a lot of money, grant favours or open doors for more of their kind or chase foxes around the country for sick pleasure?  They don't care about the working classes and their struggles, they never have and they never will so he can ham it up in front of the cameras as much as he likes but he doesn't fool me one bit.  And George Osborne is even worse!

So anyway that was enough but then on a visit to Frugal Queen's blog I discover they want to put VAT on Cornish Pasties as well!  Now that really did p*ss me off!  This is an outrage!  Not only is it completely stupid it is a potentially damaging blow to our friends in the South West.  It will affect people in that beautiful part of the country where they pretty much do depend on tourism and tourism money to prop up the local economy.....but it's not just tourists who buy pasties is it?  I am going to Cornwall later in the year and truth be told, 20% on a pasty isn't going to make much difference to my decision on buying one.


If it wasn't the locals themselves buying their own produce I guess the practice would never have lasted as long as it has.  Plus they must ship out lots of locally produced goods to places all of the UK and maybe beyond?  Adding 20% to the cost of their goods is surely going to hit hard? 

It's one thing showing the world your sleazy Treasurer who obviously can be dispatched promptly and it can all be denied and it will all die down I'm sure....it's all a bit anonymous if you know what I mean?  But this is proper personal for a lot of people.

Here is the link to an online petition.  Please please please sign it.

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/31807

Some of you might think I am a bit nuts getting passionate about this, especially as I don't even live in the area!  I do visit though and I love it down there.  But it makes me mad because it is lots of things like this that this useless, cold, hard hearted shambles of leadership which keep chipping away at this country at a time when we need all the encouragement and nurturing we can get to keep on producing and selling.  But they seemingly don't care at all.  They are the most short sighted bunch of tits I have witnessed as a government since I can remember governments.  Yes the Labour leadership got the country in debt but at least they tried to help people.  And they didn't cause the recession in 2008.  Rich, greedy bankers did.  This shower have done nothing since they came to power that I can think of, which has helped this country.  I cannot think of one thing at all.

So that is why I am angry today and I am even more angry that Buttock Face and his cronies have made me feel like this on such a lovely day.  B*stards!

Anyway apart from that I'm fine.  How are you?

Saturday, 17 March 2012

New Weekend, New Washing Machine, New Love for Approved Foods!

Well hello there, and how are you today?  Very well I do hope.

Ahhhhh it is Saturday, just before 1pm and I have been up for quite some hours and have finished all my main chores for the day, I've had a nice shower and done something with my battered nails too.  A quick push with a cuticle hoof thingyjig, a quick file of any rough nails and then a slick of Rimmel base coat to give them a bit of a shine and they're done.  Now I feel vaguely presentable again!  I'd love to be able to afford a professional manicure once a month (like I used to have....in the old days) but it's completely out of the question.  It is one of the things I'd pay for again though if I had more spare cash as it's so relaxing and I use a self employed local lady so it helps her too.  Much cheaper than a salon as well.   Oh well, maybe one day.

I digress!

If you're not interested in white goods you can skip this section:

Well, the new washing machine was delivered and plumbed in yesterday so after the required "initial wash" was done (a hot wash with no laundry and it took ages) I did two more loads, one of which was on overnight.  Sorted that this morning then put on some more so I am getting there, catching up.  The new machine is very quiet, has a taller drum than the previous one (which seemed deeper going backwards if that makes sense) but it is still a 6kg load so I can get a decent load done at a time.  I like it, though most of the cycles take a very long time.  There is a time saver button you can use to cut it down by about 50% but that still means 90 minutes in some cases!  As I am not married to a mechanic and I don't work on a farm, most of the clothes aren't that dirty so I can't see me using most of the long cycles at all.  I did read that Hotpoint machines to have long cycles.  Luckily there are a couple of options for a quick 30 minute wash and another for 60 minutes which is OK.  I registered for the free 5 year parts guarantee as well.  12 months from purchase covers parts & labour then after that it is free parts, but you have to pay for engineer's time.  I suppose it depends on how much the engineers charge per hour as to whether it's worth having! 

<Washing Machine Data Ends>

Yesterday our first Approved Foods delivery arrived!  I am so impressed with the service!  I was kept up to date through the week with delivery information, being told it would be delivered Friday, then a time came through as well which was handy for hubby who was at home yesterday waiting for washing machine.

The good were well packed and everything was delivered in good condition.  Last night, watching a film we feasted on some plain poppadums and some mango chutney we already had rather than shop bought chip & dip!  So that was great.  I have some Twix's chilling in the fridge.....9 Twix for £1.50, my word that's crazy!  Twix heaven.  They are my favourite chocolate bar.  Although I also like dark chocolate Bounty too.  Hmmm I can feel a Harry Hill "fight" coming on!

Anyway I am just so excited about it, like a kid who has been accepted into some sort of club!  I will definitely be looking at the site frequently (reads:  daily, probably) until the novelty wears off a bit.  I have signed up for some alerts as well as I can imagine the disappointment if you miss something you need or use frequently.  I have recommended it to so many people already so let's see if they go for it and if I earn any credit. 

Oh and Attila, I had a big bowlful of millet rice this morning with added sultanas and it was delicious!  I forgot how much I liked it.  I will definitely be stocking up on that.  Best before date was April 2012 - well it certainly won't be hanging around that long that's for sure!

Well lunchtime is here and my tummy is telling me so, so I am off to make some beans on toast and then see what else I can do today for free!

Bye for now.

xx

Monday, 12 March 2012

Quick Update.....

......argh!  Repair quote for washing machine was £200 to £230.  NO. WAY.

Friend offered us a washer dryer in her garage but unfortunately too big for the machine space in our teeny kitchen (impossible to change without ripping the whole kitchen out).

So, shopped around for the best I could find online tonight and found one the right size (Hotpoint basically, same as now) and bought it through Quidco.   Delivery & plumbing in on Friday.   Could do without this...but can't do without a washing machine.

Thanks Atilla for the comment on Approved Foods!  I replied to you. x

Night all, I am off to cry into my bank statements.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Approved Foods - I've Taken the Plunge!

Evening all,

Well as most of you, like me, follow Frugal Queen's blog, you will have no doubt seen the recent post about Approved Foods and her recent delivery.  I had been meaning to check them out for a while now but kept forgetting so this inspired me to have a little look around.

Well I am quite excited tonight as I have placed my first order which will be delivered some time mid to end of this week.  My basket was somewhere in the range of £90 RRP but my total to pay (including delivery of £5.25) was £26.53.  Completely bonkers bargains!  I'm so happy.

We make a lot of stir fries, chillies, curries and the like in this household so Thai red curry paste, red chilli paste, poppadums and basmati rice were some of the first things in the basket.  I have also bought spicy cous cous (which I love), some Twix bars (my favourite), breakfast cereals, loo roll, other types of sauce, some pears in cranberry sauce which I intend to make a few crumbles with and/or eat with cream or yoghurt perhaps.

A few other bits & bobs made their way into the basket too which will be used up and I will be back to browse the site in due course.  I could have gone completely mad tonight but I would like to place a modest order to start with to see how it goes and what the goods are like, plus as always, you've got to have the money to place the order haven't you no matter how much of a bargain it all is!  But after reading so many positive things about it, I have high hopes.

If you have also used them and found some superb savings, do share!

Well I think we're going to need to save every penny even more as the washing machine decided it was going to start playing up today.  On spin mode it sounds like a rumbling tank coming over the brow of a hill!  Not good.  Something metal seemed to clang earlier and it sounded like a coin or something was rattling around in there from time to time (it wasn't) so I am guessing at some sort of spring or bearings or the like have gone pop?

I have left a voicemail for a local guy who fixes machines but if he says it's over £100/£125 to supply parts & fix it (and replace the rubber seal which is a bit icky after 5/6 years of service no matter how much I try and clean it!) then I might just see about a new one BUT I don't want to.  I want it to be repaired and I am really hoping it will come in less than that to get it back working.  I have no idea how much I should expect a repair bill to be!

I don't expect it to last forever but if it could last another 12 - 18 months I would be so grateful, as we'd have finished paying for the windows by then and hubby will be contributing a bit more due to his last OU module being paid for by that time.  Fingers crossed then!

I am back on the bike to work tomorrow for various reasons but luckily it is supposed to be mild for a few days at least so that's good.  Mind you I *have* to take the car Tuesday so if it's going to rain at all....let it be Tuesday!

Apart from essential fresh groceries which I bought today (£5.67!) and the on-line Approved Foods purchase, I haven't spent any other money at all.  This is the norm now really.  I did find myself craving another day out perusing the local charity shops but I have resisted!  I have a friend coming to see me at the end of the month and we've said we'll pop 5 miles up the road to the nearest little market town which has a grand total of 2 charity shops which we'll have a browse around so I have that to look forward to. 

I have had a bit of a clear out today to put things in the Age UK charity bag which is being collected Tuesday.  Luckily they are happy to take all sorts so I have been able to get rid of a few bits that we got for Christmas presents but were never opened (sad isn't it?) or used, I have also been ruthless about a few bits in my wardrobe which may have been fairly costly (compared to now) but hey, I don't feel comfortable in them, they are just taking up space and I would like to hope someone in the same circumstances as me might stumble across some of the items and like them and be able to pick up a bargain.  Like the hot pink cashmere mix cardigan with beautiful ruffle front (that I just feel like a trussed up chicken in) or perhaps they will fall in love with the pretty little silver sparkly handbag that I bought for my wedding day but has sat in a drawer ever since.  I will never use it again, I am not a 'sparkly babe' type woman!  Some days I am more rock chick and others more floaty sleeved hippy!

Part of me thinks I should keep the bag as it was my wedding day bag but hey, I didn't keep my wedding dress (though I did get it altered and wore it again once to a party!) and I sold my silver wedding shoes so what's the point?  My wedding ring and my husband are the only things I really need to keep! 

Well time to make a lunch for tomorrow then settle down for some Being Human before getting ready for bed and another week. 

I hope you have a good week whatever you are doing.  Take care and thanks for reading.

xx