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. :-)

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Awaiting ....."The Change"

No not *that* change!  I mean the change of seasons!

So here we are with a real proper Winter cold snap (we've been pretty lucky this year compared to the last two haven't we?) and I'm thinking about Spring!  I love Spring time I really do.  I don't know about you but when the temperature lifts and the first signs of life come through the cold damp earth and the cherry blossom errr, blossoms, then I also feel like I am unfurling and coming back to life as well.

I do really like the New Year feeling in that it's a brand new shiny New Year and it feels like a new page, a clean slate, a fresh start...but I have difficulty getting galvanised and putting anything into practice.  The Springtime kicks it into life for me.

So...I am hoping that after this cold snap it won't be long before the daffodils come out and the tree in the front garden is adorned with pretty white flowers again.

So what do I want this year?

I really REALLY want to feel I have knocked stupid spending on the head and the only way I will know that is to watch savings grow and observe my purchases and note my feelings when I am in shops looking and 'stuff'.  I hope to notice more "need" purchases than "wants" and if I do indulge in "wants" then they must be out of a budgeted figure.  I guess in a nutshell I am looking forward to the next chapter in my financial life.

I want to continue enjoying my new job.  No elaboration required on that really.  I have no desire to get promoted or get myself noticed in any way (apart from just doing a good job)...I just want to enjoy it and not dread Sunday nights. 

I would like to make some more house improvements.  Ideally I'd love to move BUT that can't happen right now so I would like to feel like I am working to make the best of where we are and work to keep it cosy and homely for hubby and I.

And I'd like to see more of a select few people.  As you get older I think you realise who the people are that you should be sharing your time with.  For me, time is the most precious commodity and I can be extremely selfish with it these days.  I have spent far too many days and nights in the past wasting money & time on and with people that I shouldn't have done and that time and that money are gone forever, completely wasted.  It's the time that's more regrettable though in my opinion. So this year, it's quality over quantity.

So those are the things I am looking forward to getting started with and I feel quite excited about them all really!

How about you?  Please do share your thoughts, I am always inspired by other people's stories.


Saturday, 28 January 2012

2012 Gathers a Pace Already!

Well howdy.  I have been neglecting you haven't I?  My apologies.

But as the title suggests, just how quickly has the first month of 2012 flown by?  I am in a small state of shock when I realise February is this coming midweek!

So how are you all?  I hope your 2012 has got off to a good start wherever you are.

I have got back on my bike a little this week for work.  It's been cold but bearable although there was some ice yesterday morning so I was taking it easy.  One of my colleagues also cycles to work and she came off in December and hurt her knee.  It's still giving her hassle (yes we've all told her to go to the walk-in centre and ask for an x-ray but you know how people are sometimes...they "don't like to fuss") and I don't want that to happen to me:  or worse.

I hear there is a cold snap approaching so next week I may well be off the bike again for the duration.  I guess I always knew January & February would be the most precarious months and I'd be getting lifts or having to take the car quite a bit so my attitude is, any days I can cycle are a bonus.  Can't wait for Spring though when cycling is a bit more enjoyable!

I went out during the week for a meal with some work colleagues which is the first time since I joined in September and it was a nice enough evening.  I would do it again but not too regularly as I can't afford it for one, but also I like to keep a slight distance with work people...experience has taught me not to get too close or be too open as you never know when someone is going to use something against you.  So I try to maintain a friendly but professional demeanour if that makes sense.

I have continued to try more Aldi products in my bid to drive down grocery costs.  I can report back that their potato wedges are as good as anything I have had from any other shop and they also sell Blue Dragon Sweet Chilli Dip which makes a delicious spicy accompaniment!  I also bought a jar of green olives for 39p to go in a pasta dish yesterday and they were delicious.  They also sell black olives which are good too but I really did like the green ones for a change. 

I bought their Lacura body lotion for £1.49 recently which is OK.  Not as nice a smell as Dove but OK and really not bad for £1.49...it's a big bottle!  Will last me ages. 

Oh I also tried their fajita kits which are about half the price of the named brand you can get (name escapes me...Old El Paso?) and much better than Sainsbury's the Discovery brand own in my opinion.  I found a tin of dented refried beans reduced to 50p, which, with a chopped onion and a chopped pepper made a very cheap and healthy dinner.  Recommended!

What else....what else.....oh, if you like to take a packed lunch to work, I can recommend the Harvest Morn cereal bars, both the cranberry yoghurt coated ones and the chocolate "Fruit & Fibre" ones.  8 in a box for £1.49.  Much cheaper and much nicer than a lot of others I have tried.  I loved Frusli bars previously (Jordans) but they are nearly £2 for 6 which is getting a bit too much now!

Non food:  their kitchen cleaner in an orange bottle is effective and also I picked up a massive bottle of fabric conditioner (yellow one) for under a quid and it is fine.  I'd buy it again or try a different fragrance in the same range.  Only in the winter though....in the summer I try to use Ecover because it doesn't affect bees & butterflies like others can do.  Did you know that?

On the subject of trying new things, I did have to pop into Tesco today to get a small box of washing powder in a rush (Aldi is not nearby for me...but I have to say their washing powder is next on my hit list!) and there was a new type: £1 for 10 washes.  They are in a purple box and a pink box and they are called "Enrituals".  I have done my bedding today and a few other bits and they seem absolutely fine.  I would say give it a try for a quid especially if you are doing lightly soiled clothes or just a freshen up load.  I bought the purple one which is Jasmine and Lily but doesn't overpower at all.

I have spent most of today doing the usual housework things but did spend a bit of time on the sofa watching Liverpool beat Manchester United which made me very happy!  I had a bit of a snooze mid afternoon then more chores.  Time shortly to go and make some dinner.  We are having a marinated tofu chilli on Aldi rice!

I recently started taking vitamin B6 (50mg) to help improve PMT and my general mood as well as Evening Primrose Oil and Flaxseed Oil capsules.  Things seem to be ok though the next 10 days or so will really tell!  Vitamin B6 is supposed to help aid sleep and I have to say over the last week I think I have slept really well compared to the months beforehand where I would wake up several times a night.  Things take time to get into your system don't they and touch wood, I think things are starting to maybe kick in now.  I bought them from Healthspan online - I really recommend them if you need supplements of any kind.  No I do not work for them or get anything from them at all if I promote them!  I have been using them for various bits & bobs for a few years now and have never been disappointed so I do like to pass on recommendations where I can.

Well that is about it from me...not a very exciting update I guess but then again January is not really a very exciting month in my part of the world when you're broke after Christmas and the weather is yuk!

I hope hope you are all OK and thank you again for taking the time to read my ramblings!  Bye for now.


Saturday, 14 January 2012

Happy New Year! (Better Late Than Never...)

Well hello there.  So 2012 is here...and already nearly halfway through the first month!  Pretty scary how time flies.

So how was the New Year for you then?  I hope it was good fun for you if you're into it and if you're not, well, I hope you just made the best of it somehow.

We stayed up late and watched the fireworks from London which I personally loved and thought were fantastic.  I wished I was there for them but I know what the long trek home afterwards is like (I was there on the side of the Thames as 1999 slipped into 2000) and my feet still ache when I think about it!

So a new year and new challenges and all that.  The first challenge is to keep warm here without going bankrupt!  We live in a modern house with no fireplace at all or any place for any type of woodburner so we're 100% reliant on central heating and/or portable heaters, along with:  blankets, hot water bottles, cardigans and jumpers! 

I submitted meter readings today for gas & electricity.  Unfortunately there was a fault on the website which prevented the electricity £ usage total so far (since my last reading) but I think it's probably about £50.  The gas however nearly gave me a seizure.  £99!!  In a month!   Hubby said "Do you think that is right?" and after doing some manual calculations, unfortunately I think it is.  We were here a lot over Christmas with annual leave and also with Mum being with us I didn't want her to be cold so I kept heating on longer than I might have done normally and obviously it all adds up, especially when the unit prices are so expensive.

So hubby & I were shell-shocked at that and we're now sitting here with the heating off and it's about 1 degree centigrade outside!  It'll come on a bit later again but we know we have to have it on staggered for the rest of the weekend.  For the next two months, which will be the hardest before Spring, we'll just have to suffer.  Central heating on for a short amount of time in the morning and then staggered from about 4.30pm to 10.00pm which wouldn't be a problem if hubby was working full time but he isn't.  He's working part time and studying at home during the other times so bless him, he'll have to sit in a cold house.  However he can bring the little halogen heater into the lounge and heat that up a bit when needed. 

I do worry for people who are worse off than we are, I mean we're not on the breadline but certainly not well off by any stretch of the imagination, so people worse than us must be frantic with worry about their energy bills.

Well we'll just have to keep trying to make savings where we can.  Today wasn't a good day for making savings though.....freezing cold with no wind at all and a heap of essential washing to do.  I had to use the tumble dryer 3 times and I'll have to use it again tomorrow.  Gutted.  No choice at all though. 

I haven't been biking to work since Christmas, the cold dark mornings are about as appealing as a week old salad with a mouldy cheese slice on the side.  I can cope with the cold I guess but it is the dark mornings that get me down.  When you're still stumbling around in the dark at nearly 8.00am (which is about what time I leave on the bike) it's depressing.  So I have either been getting lifts or, horror upon horrors, I took the car twice last week and paid £2 per day for parking!  Not much I know but that definitely adds up over the course of time and I can't be doing that much.  Oh roll on the lighter mornings and evenings! 

Noisy neighbour has received a letter from the council and *touch wood* we haven't heard anything more but I am not holding my breath too much.  I get the feeling he might kick off again at some point, perhaps after the month long monitoring period but I suppose if he does we just start over again don't we? 

Onto more positive things now though.

I have started taking some supplements recently which I hope will improve my moods (I can get quite dark and self loathing at times and I think it's also related to PMT - sorry if that's 'Too Much Information' for some!) and also have an effect on hair & skin too which is always useful!  I have started taking Vitamin B6, Oil of Evening Primrose and Flaxseed Oil for Omega 3 because I don't eat fish so can't get it from that source.  I am really hoping it will all help come Spring time (I guess I need to give it a while to get into my system) for a new energised me who is a bit more my old "up & at 'em" self and will get out there and start loving life again.  Fingers crossed! 

I am also going to really really REALLY try this year to get some savings plans back on track.  I totally have the will to do it as a long period of enforced frugalness has broken the urge to:

shop shop shop!
possess possess possess!
spend spend spend!

Now I only enjoy going shopping if I have specific things I need to buy.   So that's good.  So I am excited about the possibility of better saving but I have to hope nothing stupid happens, before I have a pot of savings, that would set me back before I even start!  Again....fingers crossed.

And a silly little thing that made me happy this week is I discovered in Aldi, their own brand "Dove" shower cream for about 69p compared to about £2!  I was delighted as I have always loved the Dove original fragrance but won't buy it at those prices any more.  Little things can make you happy eh??

Well that's about it for now I think, not much else to report from here.

Again happy new year to you and thanks for stopping by today.