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. :-)

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Small Victories

Howdy, how are you?  At the risk of being shouted at for being a misery, I'd like to say I am enjoying the cooler weather this weekend!  It's still mild but the recent high 20's early 30's temperatures just flake me out so I'm enjoying the break from it.

So, small victories.

I have been using a credit card for about the last 2 - 3 years to collect Avios points so I can either collect two free flights to Berlin or two free Eurostar tickets to Lille.  I have never paid a penny interest on this credit card as I have a direct debit to clear the balance at the end of each month.  I use it to purchase  petrol, monthly stock up on vegetarian freezer things, insurances and any other purchases the month calls for and earn some Avios points whilst I am at it.

Recently I had a bad experience with the customer service which was ongoing so I wrote a letter of complaint.  I have now had the matter resolved with a promise of a cheque for £35 to cover inconvenience and phone calls made.  The cheque should arrive shortly I am told.  Small victory one.

I have just about made the 18000 points (it should get to that balance this week or latest next month) so at some point in the next 6 - 12 month I shall have  "free" travel to a place I have never been to before and I shall love it.  I would have bought the things I bought anyway, it feels like a lovely bonus to get something out of it in the long run.  Small victory number two.

Today I banked the final "Sweet Sundays" code needed to claim two free Cineworld tickets - so one Sunday between now and end of November, hubby & I will get an afternoon or evening out watching a film for "free".  Believe me, the chocolate was always going to be eaten anyway...again it's great to get something out of it and as I love days out, nights out or any memorable social experience, the Sweet Sunday campaign was right up my street!  Small victory number three.

I was in London a few weekends ago and weighed myself at a friends house.  Horrified.  Subsequently I have exercised more, signed up with a free calorie counting website (FoodFocus.co.uk) and have been sensible with portion sizes etc.  This morning's weigh in showed I have lost half a stone since that shock!   Small victory number four.  Though that feels like a big victory actually!

EBAY has been good to me recently, I have managed to sell some unwanted or now redundant bits and pieces including an item which went from £2.20 to £21.99 in the last minute yesterday:  I was ecstatic as I would have been happy if it had reached a tenner!  I also managed to get rid of a broken lawnmower for just over £2 rather than having to lug it down the local recycling centre or pay the Council to collect!  Small victory number five.

I have discovered A Girl Called Jack's blog which I love.  She also posts some fabulous recipes for little money outlay which I can't tell you how grateful I am for.  Although we are not in the same position as she was or as a lot of people are unfortunately in now, the grocery bill needs careful monitoring always.  I have so far made the veggie, chickpea & apricot curry which is delicious, the earthy red wine risotto and tonight I am making the kidney bean & cumin burgers.  Wish me luck with the latter!  It's a victory but not a "scoring points" kind of victory - I hope you know what I mean.  But number six victory anyway.  And my heartfelt respect and thanks go out to Jack Monroe.  I have donated some money to the Trussell Trust too.

I have managed to get lots of washing done and dry outside recently and this is really helping with the electricity.  I am £88 in credit with the electric and over £90 in credit with the gas.  Here's hoping that this continues for at least 2 - 3 more months as it will mean not having to use the central heating till late in Autumn or the tumble dryer and that will mean a more comfortable winter if we can have the heating on a bit longer without worrying we'll go into debt for it.

So these are my small victories of the last few weeks.  Have you any to share?

Sunday, 14 July 2013

What a Weekend!

Well hello there!  Phew what a scorcher this weekend has been!  Have you enjoyed it or do you shy away from the heat?  I do like it warm & sunny but I must confess I couldn't stay out in it all day, it gets too tiring and I don't like the thought of what too much hot sun will do to my skin.  But I am not moaning...we've waited so long for the nice weather so I am glad it is here.  Also it means I can cycle to work and enjoy it more therefore cutting back on petrol usage.  Certainly the central heating is not even considered and the meter readings I submitted this weekend show a healthy credit is building so that's good news.

So!  This weekend has been a busy one and I do feel quite proud of myself.

As you know we're trying to sell our house and one thing which is a bit of an embarrassment is our under stairs cupboard.  It is usually disorganised - a typical dumping ground.  This weekend I pulled everything out and vacuumed the floor in there and cleared cobwebs.  I put up a three shelf unit - the first time I have EVER put up a shelf of any description so a three shelf unit was heavy and cumbersome but with a tiny but of help from hubby, I managed it.  I threw away some rubbish, recycled what I could recycle and then organised all the contents so much better.  It's still not perfect but it is a damn site better now.  Probably what you would expect an under stairs cupboard to look like whereas before it was a bit of a horror show.  Mind you, one viewer told me it was very tidy compared to the previous house they looked at which is also for sale in the street so has the same layout.  That made me smile!

What else have I done this weekend:  all the usual laundry, changing bedding but also I picked a massive crop of strawberries from our garden patch:  I reckon if I had bought the equivalent amount from the shops it would have been getting on for £10 worth at least.  Also there is a cherry tree which overhangs our garden so I picked a large bowlful.  The tree is just in the grounds of the flats next to us and no-one ever comes to pick them so they end up going to waste (except for the ones the blackbirds peck off).

I have sold two things on EBAY and listed two more things which I hope will sell.

We have had lunches & dinners from things already in the house except for a £1 bag of salad which hubby picked up yesterday.

Also I have repaired a favourite summer top and also a fab summer dress which I bought 4 years ago and have no intentions of throwing out yet!  ALSO I cleared out a few items of clothing this morning into a charity bag....then rescued a pair of jeans back and made them into pedal pushers for the summer!  I am so chuffed with them.  I have never cut & hemmed anything before and I did it all by hand as I don't possess a sewing machine.  The stitching is a bit rough if I am honest but I did them in a hurry and it was my first attempt BUT they are fine for around the house, garden and popping to the shops if I need to on a sunny weekend.  I'm happy anyway!  They look pretty good with some wedge summer shoes.

So all in all it has been very busy but a good weekend and I feel like I have been productive in new ways.

How about you?  What has your weekend been like?

Saturday, 29 June 2013

My Saturday Night - Frugal Style!

Evening to you all, how are you doing on this fine Saturday night?

Well today has been a pretty busy and successful day actually. I have done so much including getting usual professional haircut & colour for £35 and have a brilliant chat with my hairdresser at the same time in the comfort of her lovely home with cups of tea. I so needed that colour today...grey roots or WHAT!

After that bit of pampering I came home and proceeded to get a heap (or three) of laundry done and dried on the line. Clean sheet feeling tonight don't you love it?

I have sold two things on EBAY totalling £26 and the money is in my account already. One thing was bought by someone local so I am dropping it off tomorrow en route to the parcel drop off point for the other. I am sipping wine bought practically for free as I received some vouchers from the Co-Op as I use their card each time we purchase. You can tell I am drinking wine as I cannot quite grasp the word I am looking for here....that word being.....you know, part of a co-operative and receiving a dividend annually based on what you spent. Bah! You know what I mean! I think the key word there was dividend anyway!

I made a very delicious but frugal dinner tonight of mushroom and cashew nut risotto and yes it really was tasty! If you want to know more:

All I did was slice about 100g of mushrooms and toss them in a liberal sprinkling of bottled lemon juice then left them for about 5 minutes whilst I melted two tablespoons of (dairy free) margarine in a saucepan. Fry the mushrooms for about 5 minutes, add 1 x tsp of dried basil and 1 x tbsp of dried parsley, stir through for about 1 minute then spoon into a bowl then set aside.

In the same saucepan, melt some more margarine then fry an onion (or a chopped leek) for 6 minutes over a medium heat. Add the risotto rice (I do 80g per person) and stir through for about 2 mins. Add the mushrooms you set aside earlier and half a cup of dry white wine (I picked up a cheap bottle from Aldi). You can drink the rest whilst cooking!

Allow the wine to absorb then add stock, bit by bit or all at once if you like. I prepare about 500 - 600ml of veggie stock. Keep stirring for about 15-20 minutes, until the rice is cooked. About 5 minutes from the end though, stir in about a cupful of roughly chopped cashew nuts (I just buy the dried ones again from Aldi, about £1 a pack) and a good twist of black pepper. If you eat dairy, you can add in some parmesan at this point and turn off the heat.

Serve! Delicious.

And after dinner I settled back and am watching Chic at Glastonbury on catch up tv (I-Player) and really wish I could get tickets to see them at the O2 in July but it's completely sold out. Freak Out by Chic is the first song I remember dancing to with my big sister back in the 70's as a small young thing and I still love it. Nile Rodgers is still a cool dude and if only I could go out to a club and dance all night to this sort of stuff I would be a very happy person!

Anyway that is my day, it's been busy - how about you??

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Remember Me?

Hello there! How are you today? Here's hoping you are well.

A lot has gone on since my last blog entry! It's been a busy time indeed. Work has been busy and I was away on a course for a week as well. I was shattered by the end of it! Also we have been doing a lot around the home and garden as we decided we wanted to move. I think I have mentioned before just how boring it is where we live both culturally as well as geographically with nothing much to do or see. Well, we've had enough! Other half will be looking for a better job towards the end of the year so we have set our caps at moving about 35 miles south of where we are to a bustling market town which is by a beautiful river & green land (where they have fairs) and we could walk into town or to the train station in a matter of minutes and generally just feel like we can see & do more. And feel like part of a nicer community.

So, the house is now on the market but it is very very slow. We've only had a handful of viewings and zero feedback which is frustrating as I'd like to know if there is something specific we should do or change. The estate agents are bloody useless at getting the feedback as well even when I ask/remind them to get it! Anyway we're on a 16 week contract with these agents who I have used twice before with no issues (was a while ago though) so if we don't sell I think we'll come off the market and try again with someone else in the New Year.

We did make an offer on a house we liked in the market town but although we weren't far off what the expected, their main concern was we hadn't sold and we're not looking like we will any time very soon. So I can understand that I suppose. A shame but that house is still on the market and I guess if it is meant to be...it will be. No point in getting stressed out about it.

In other news I have been EBAYing again...selling dresses, shoes and good quality cycling gear that I no longer use rather than having it take up space and I've made some useful money along the way. Not loads but enough to cover one or two bills or unexpected expenditure, you know how it is.

Some bad news is, I have had to borrow some more money to make some much needed improvements to the house but the plan is, should we sell it, I will pay that back out of our equity which is a decent amount. I never ever wanted to take out a bank loan again but this is a strategic move I like to think! And if we don't sell, well, the changes are good things (new windows, much needed change of flooring etc) that we can reap the benefit from and they will be there and done for when we try again next year. And it's not an unmanageable loan either.

In my last post I was talking about how much I was looking forward to being able to turn off the central heating and get some credit on the old gas & electric accounts wasn't I? Well even though Spring & Summer have been a disappointment so far, I have managed to get into credit on both accounts and both will be in good credit (touch wood) come the winter. And again IF we move before then I will hopefully be in a position to get the cash back from Atlantic when the accounts get closed down.

So that's me & what's been going on with me since my last blog entry! Now I am off to try and do some catching up with you.

Ta-ta for now readers. Take care.
x x

Friday, 12 April 2013

Just Keeping On, Keeping On...

Happy Friday one and all! I hope you are well.

OK so it's been over a month since I last posted. My inspiration dwindled somewhat and it has been busy as well work wise so both things combined equals lack of blogging! I did some overtime in March at the hospital so I am looking forward to April's pay day. It won't be a lot but it all helps doesn't it?

I am off this week and have been getting out and about seeing friends (it was my birthday) and spending time at home too, all a bit of a mixture.

Time at home has been all about housekeeping and also sorting out chores to save money in the long run i.e. getting work boots re-soled, finding people who can replace a zip in a pair of trousers rather than buy new ones, you know the kind of thing.

I have been trying to make the most of the better weather - my word how crap was March? - and have laundered a lot to get it dry outside rather than use the tumble drier as we've actually built up a bit of electricity credit and I want to keep hold of it.

On the subject of energy, I can't wait to be able to switch the gas central heating off altogether! We owe about £80 on the heating and I really don't want them to put the monthly direct debit up. I need to switch it off and let the Spring & Summer payments build up for the next cold spell as any more direct debit increases are liable to send me round the twist! It's off mostly at the moment but the nights are still quite cold. So although it does come on for the evening, I am switching it off earlier and either going to bed earlier or wrapping up in a fleece on the sofa for those last couple of hours. I can see how energy bills can cripple people financially, it's horrendous.

We did get a bit of a surprise last month though when Anglian Water read our meter and have actually put our direct debit down by a fiver a month! We've built up a small credit there too. So that was good. (Mind you they put their prices up 3.5% from April 1st so who knows what October's bill will show!)

Thinking about it, the water and the electricity credits are probably linked due to the new washing machine we had to have last year. As it is new, it's obviously better environmentally, being an A+. Also I have started running more 30 degree washes for some things rather than 40 degree i.e. jeans just worn around the house in the evenings, work trousers, jumpers & my tops which of course, being a lady, they don't get grubby or sweaty! :-)

I still use warmer washes for towels, bedding and our smalls oh and hubby's work shirts as he can work up a bit of a glow! Also it's not good for your machine so I read, to constantly use lower temperatures but it's obviously somewhat beneficial to your wallet when it comes to energy bills!

I am also able to do bigger loads in the machine so obviously I am using less water. We also had one of those gadgets fitted to our shower over the bath (plumbed into taps) which aerates the water so you use less. I also (when the bathroom is warm enough!) switch off the water when actually "washing" or doing my legs as that's just literally money down the drain otherwise. Hubby is in & out of shower fairly quickly which is a bonus.

We try to only wash up twice a day, sometimes it is only once if we're both out all day. The bathroom was replaced a few years ago and the loo is a dual flush which helps save water too.

So yeah, thinking about it...doing a lot of the right things!

I also try to plan in lots of meals which use the hob to prepare (rather than the oven itself) as it is one of those glass topped ones that the halogen light goes off when it gets to a certain temperature and only comes back on to "top up" if you know what I mean. Far better and they heat up so quickly as well. Our previous oven was absolutely diabolical. It used to take about 30 minutes to heat the oven and the ceramic rings almost as long to heat up ready to cook some peas! Rubbish. I was so glad to get shot of it. Luckily our new oven was a wedding present a few years ago as family & friends kindly gave us money rather than things we already had. That is how the bathroom got replaced as well.

Oh I bagged a bargain yesterday. I have been after a new quilt cover for ages but there's always been something else to spend money on. In a second hand shop there was a beautiful quilt cover & matching pillow cases reduced from £7.50 to £3.75! I was a bit reluctant at first as I have never bought second hand bedding but it was absolutely immaculate. I took into consideration that fabrics get steamed out back in second hand shops which would kill any nasties, I also took it home and obviously washed it immediately. I then tumble dried it on hot which would also kill anything the eye couldn't see. It's now on my bed and looks & smells fabulous! I treated myself to another new fabric conditioner recently: the Comfort Blush Poppy & Peach.

It is gorgeous. So fresh. It gives vanilla a run for it's money! Yes it was on offer by the way!

Has anyone else ever bought second hand bedding?

I suppose, every time you stay in a hotel or holiday home, you're effectively using second hand bedding and then some! It's not like you get box fresh linen every time is it?

I also got a desperately needed summers skirt (a Dorothy Perkins one) and a pair of work trousers (by NEXT) again both immaculate and less than a fiver each.

So I was quite pleased with my little haul.

Well that's about it from me, not much else to tell which is quite boring considering I have not been on here for a month! I'll try harder next time: perhaps I will have to make something up!

Take care, thanks for stopping by.


Sunday, 10 March 2013

Mother's Day

Good evening to you. Hello to my new followers, it's so good to have you on board and thanks to those who have commented recently, it really makes my day when people take the time.

So. To those of you who are Mothers in the UK....happy Mothering Sunday to you.

I am not going to massively get into the whole debate on whether it is just a money spinning idea and you should show your Mum all the time not just on one day (a la Valentines Day) as I guess most of you have your own firm opinions on it anyway.

My own personal opinion is, in the majority of cases, Mums are wonderful and we should appreciate what we have before it becomes what we had. A little effort and thoughtfulness throughout the whole year: yes indeed, most certainly! But I don't think I personally know any Mum who, as much as she wouldn't want stupid money spent on her on Mothers Day, doesn't love a little card or letter with a loving message arriving through the post when these days it's mostly bills & junk mail! And you can pick a card up for less than a pound, or write a letter for free. I guess for some people who find it hard to express their feelings most of the time, Mothers Day is the perfect time and way to do it. I am sure the Mother would really appreciate the sentiment as well.

For those hard working Mums whose feet barely touch the ground most days of the year, just this one day, where the kids old enough to make her a breakfast in bed or perhaps do the daily chores, is lovely and costs nothing.

I am not a Mum and probably never will be now, and my Hubby was out all day on a "hobby" adventure so my Sunday consisted of the following: a big fat lie in till 11.00am which is disgustingly decadent but hey, it was sleeting outside, I had done all my housework the day before and I wasn't breaking any laws! After breakfast I then proceeded to administer my usual home pampering which was lovely and made me feel human again (after traipsing around the house looking like a vagrant yesterday). A long hot coconut flavoured shower and then some browsing on the internet with a cup of tea and a stretch out on the sofa.

It could never last though. Ironing at 4pm followed by making dinner, washing up and then trying out a recipe for home made peanut dip to have with vegetable crisps. Which hubby is happily devouring now, I can report.

I shall be settling down shortly for the last "Being Human" and then that is officially the end of the weekend and I'll be off to bed as it's an earlier start than normal tomorrow to catch a lift into work with a friend.

I hope your weekend was not spoiled by the awful weather. Really! It needs to sort itself out and soon. I've got some lovely summer clothes bargains I want to get wearing!

Bye for now.


Sunday, 3 March 2013

For A "Quiet" Weekend...I Haven't Stopped!!

Evening to you all, I am hoping you are well?

After what felt like an eternity, the weekend rolled around and I was looking forward to a quiet weekend. After last weekend's fun which left me pretty tired, a couple of days of not going very far wasn't a terrible prospect. But it's been so busy!

I had a hair appointment at my friend's house for my cut & colour on Saturday morning which writes off a few hours, so I decided to get the housework underway on Friday night. Literally as soon as I got in from work, I changed into scruffs and got the vacuum cleaner out and hoovered the whole house. I then decided it would be a good idea to clean the bathroom floor and if I was doing that then I may as well clean the whole bathroom.

Hubby was downstairs preparing a simple, cheap but tasty vegetable curry with Approved Food basmati rice so I carried on sorting out laundry, general tidying up and whatnot.

After dinner I decided the get the kitchen cleaning out of the way and scrubbed the floor in there as well. Another weekend job annihilated!

I set off a load of washing overnight to make use of the cheaper rate which I do as much as possible.

Saturday came and my hair got sorted then I was straight home to tackle more laundry. Luckily it was a gorgeous day, albeit slightly chilly, it was sunny and dry and I managed to get washing out on the line for free drying.

I polished the lounge and bedroom and flicked the duster around other not so lived in areas so everywhere had some attention.

Hubby was settling down for an afternoon of football and hobby stuff from around 3pm so I decided to join him but do my ironing at the same time which is usually a Sunday chore so it was great to get that out of the way! (A couple of cups of tea always helps with the dreaded task as well!)

I had a fairly early night and this morning got up before 9.00 to strip the bed and get the bedding in the washing machine and out on the line as quickly as possible as it was due to be another dry day. Hubby cooked a fabulous veggie breakfast which set me up for the day as well.

After washing up and cleaning the kitchen down (again!) I put some more laundry on and then went off for my shower. After that I caught up on some emails then headed out to get some new windscreen wiper blades for my car. I'd managed to ruin them in the icy weather by letting the wipers run over a very rough icy windscreen, d'oh. I also got some new car mats as well as the old one driver side had become a danger! It kept getting rucked up and I'd trap my heel in it.

I then trawled around trying to get a tyre changed as I was told in January when the car was in for an MOT then the near side passenger tyre was wearing, though it would be ok for a bit longer as I am a low mileage driver. The two places I went to didn't have any stock of my sized tyres and the third place I went to en route home was closed! So that little job didn't get done, I shall have to get that sorted perhaps on my days off in a couple of weeks.

When I got back I was in the mood to get my car spick & span so instead of shelling out for a local hand car wash (which I do treat my car to sometimes as they do a fab job inside & out) out came the bucket and sponge and cleaning cloths for the inside. And how proud I was afterwards, looking out of the window at my clean & shiny car! I do try to keep it clean but during a harsher than usual winter, there's no way I am standing out there a) freezing my socks off and b) adding more water to the street for people to slip on!

After a quick oven chip butty, more laundry sorting & making the bed, I did my usual Monday night chore of taking an inventory of the kitchen cupboards then making a meal plan for the coming week. I am really hoping that my ALDI shop will be only just over £10 on Tuesday but I do need to pop to another supermarket for a few bits that they don't do so I need to hunt down the bargains. I also checked my lottery account and realised I'd won the lottery! Well, a tenner anyway. So I have got that transferred back to my bank account and in the meantime have sent £10 over to one of my savings account over and above what I already put in after pay day.

Tonight's dinner was a very cheap & easy to make vegetable casserole which I made with the radio on (Absolute 80s!) and a smile on my face as I have enjoyed my busy weekend even though I probably need to go back to work for a rest now! Only kidding of course. I shall be looking forward even more the next weekend! Mind you that's lining up to be a busy one as well already. More hours in the day required!

I hope you've had a productive & happy weekend.

Bye for now.

x x

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Fun Weekend for a Fiver!

Good evening to you all. Hello to my new followers and thank you to Dan, Maysie and Amanda for the comments on my last blogging, it's always a pleasure to read people's responses and these were all lovely ones. Thanks again. (And Amanda, I am glad for you!)

Well I am back from a great night away at an old school friend's place. She invited me down and two of her other friends who I met for the first time. They were good fun and we had a real laugh. We stayed in and my school friend cooked some absolutely delicious food and I as left in charge of the ipad & Spotify to select good tunes to cook & chat to! They said I did well and there was some dancing in the kitchen at one point so that's got to be a good sign right??

We polished off the food, a fair amount of wine (I took a bottle for a fiver) and a home made dessert was also tucked into.

I think I made it into bed at 3.15am and was up again at about 10.15am. After a quick shower & breakfast I had to get back so hubby could have the car for work in the afternoon then I promptly fell asleep on the sofa for a couple of hours! I just can't do those sorts of late nights these days without writing off the next day, that's a oung woman's game! I doubt I will be later to bed tonight (my Lenor laundered bed!), I think "Being Human" will have to wait till later in the week.

But it was such a laugh and just what I needed before another Monday morning rolls around (urgh).

How about you? I hope you had some fun over the weekend, in whatever form that took!

Have as good a week as you can.

Bye for now. x

Friday, 22 February 2013

I May Be Onto Something....

Evening readers, I am hoping you are well today? Well hooray anyway for Friday finally getting here! Reminds me of this (excuse the rude word...hopefully you're not easily offended):

Well this week, work has had its ups & downs again but I have mostly managed to keep a lid on things and just get on with it. I also feel cheerier for a few reasons:

Firstly, with regards to my finances, I have had an(other) epiphany! I realised I have been trying in the past to pay off debts too fast. I have tried (and failed) to meet unrealistic budgets which have just led to frustration and misery.

So...my debt repayments are coming down and stretching out a bit longer. Luckily I have 0% on the outstanding debt till April 2014. I was trying to beat the debt down by October time until I just realised I don't have to put myself under this pressure. The card is cut up, I can't add to the debt. I'm going to ease up and make sure it's cleared before the interest kicks in.

But this can be me all over: impatient! I have learned to curb that impatience in other areas of life as I matured, finance is the next area to conquer. Slowly but very very surely is the way. Slow progress is better than no progress. And that realisation sinking in; it feels good!

Secondly - let's talk about luxury. What's your favourite luxury?

In recent times I have stopped just buying "stuff". If I don't need it or it won't be used regularly, or if there is any doubt as to whether it'll "suit" (me or the house) then it doesn't get bought. I don't like clutter and I am not an avid collector of anything. (Erm, except maybe clothes!)

But there are some things I positively enjoy spending my money on: my proper little luxuries! These little luxury things are over & above decent skincare & affordable professional haircare which I refuse to feel guilty about. I don't really class those as luxuries, though others might. I just class them as regular maintenance for a woman who wants to look as good as she can do for her age. I am not going to pay good money for my car to get looked after then ignore my own face & hair! Sod that.

So anyway, we've all got something we'll scrape the pennies together for haven't we? OK they aren't always classified as luxuries but money is quite often found for things that people enjoy.

For some it's alcohol, drugs or cigarettes. For some people it's nights out. For some it's craft goods, football game attendance, music downloading, SKY+ or the Movie Channel....the list goes on but you get the picture!

So what are these things I gleefully hand over my coins for? Mmmmmmmmmm....gorgeously fragranced things! I am such a sucker for them.

I discovered very very recently and am currently in love with, Lenor's Gold Orchid fabric conditioner and have stocked up whilst it is on special in Tesco! I have made do for a long time with Aldi or other supermarket own brand stuff which does a job, I am not saying it doesn't, but frankly, once I used this stuff, I thought there's no going back! I am really looking forward to washing my bedding in it this weekend - how sad is that?!?

I also adore gorgeously scented shower gels and body lotions and feel so good when wrapped in vanilla, coconut or some other subtle fragrance. Dove soap is also an indulgence. I don't always buy it but when I do, it's heavenly.

Incense cones for after dinner are also a must. I try and get them from an online retailer who happen to be based in my part of town so they deliver for free.

It's hardly a secret that I like shopping for clothes, I definitely have the clothes shopping gene, but I love bargain shopping. Getting a bargain in a charity shop is a real thrill and it's a bonus that my cash goes to a worthy cause. Getting that item home then putting it through the wash, coming out smelling fresh was always a little treat but now I can't wait to find another bargain and use my new Lenor!

I would also like to share one last thing which may be contributing to my better mood. I can't say for sure that it is this, but it may well be helping: I take Oil of Evening Primrose for prevention of breast cysts and also to ease PMT. I used to take one 1000mg capsule in the evening. Now I have changed to 1 x 500mg in the morning and 1 x 500mg in the evening. So I guess my bloodstream is being kept "topped up" with it.

I wonder if this is helping me just take things a bit easier and relaxing a bit more? If it is then what a wonderfully natural way to feel better. Cheaper than regular bottles of wine & boxes of chocolates too!

Thanks for sticking with me (if you've read this far) I will admit that this post was written from a very girly perspective which won't appeal to everyone.

Take care and bye for now. Here's hoping you all have a great weekend.


Monday, 18 February 2013

Feeling Happier Now

Evening all,

Thanks again to those of you who replied to my recent post - I appreciated it very much. And welcome to my new followers. Really great to have you along.

Rambler, thanks for your advice; you will be glad to know that I do try to incorporate a walk into every day even if it is around the inside of the building if it is too cold & rainy. Being stuck at my desk ALL DAY would drive me insane!

Well luckily things did get better. After Wednesday! It was a dire first half of the week though, it really was. By Wednesday I think I had gone through every range of emotions and ended up at slightly hysterical at all the things going wrong coupled with a resignation that if my best wasn't good enough then that was tough!

This weekend was beautiful weather wise where I am - was it for you? It's been a long time since I have seen such lovely sunshine and heard the birds singing so happily. I spotted some bulbs coming up in the garden whilst hanging out washing and felt so much more alive! Spring is around the corner (though I still get the feeling the tail end of Winter is going to have a sting in it....) and that makes me happy. I got out for a great walk at lunchtime today as well to make the best of today's sunlight and enjoyed that too.

Well, what a difference a week makes eh? Here's hoping it continues for a while!

Cheerio for now.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Let's Hope It Was Just a Bad Day

Evening all,

Well now. Some of you who have been with me for a while will remember how sick of my previous job I was. I used to feel sick driving to work and was thoroughly miserable pretty much from start to finish of every day there.

I had that feeling again today in my "new" job. As the title says, let's just hope it was a bad day, I really really don't want to feel like that again.

When I got this job at the hospital I was thrilled. I was sick of slogging my guts out just to line the pockets of directors and higher management (and shareholders on some occasions) in the private sector. Working in the public sector suits my mindset as ultimately it is the public that my best efforts serve. It is that belief that usually carries me through any bad days.

Today though, it didn't really help and I was sad about that.

I am trying to sort it out in my mind and hopefully you will be able to look at this from outside the circle and I would appreciate your opinion as well should you care to leave a constructive comment.

I had been off for a few days last week on annual leave. I'd had some lovely time out, seeing friends, celebrating hubby's birthday, spending time on the house....just blissful really. I go back today and now other people are off (as it's half term) so we were somewhat short staffed, everything that came in appeared to be "urgent" and even when I was dealing with something urgent I was being plagued by someone (who takes the calls) with a piece of paper in her hand saying there was someone else on the phone chasing up their urgent issue. It was non stop all day and I haven't even had enough time to catch up fully on the emails sent last week to me which is not like me, I am pretty organised and don't usually fall behind on correspondence.

We have two new people on our team who were looking to me all day for advice and assistance (not their fault of course) which is demanding when you're trying to deal with urgent issues and also you don't know everything as you're still learning things yourself!

Communication is a bit crap sometimes within the department which added to frustration today in a certain area (I won't go into details on this). I also found out that tomorrow even more people will be out of the department and I feel I will be pressed further tomorrow to try and cover two roles potentially which is nigh on impossible.

I know I can only do my best but I have been here before with the push push push, squeeze squeeze squeeze and with cuts all over the place, most employers just have the attitude "Well you are lucky to have a job at all so stop moaning!"

I feel somewhat stressed out but I am trying to compartmentalize my life mentally - funnily enough helped tonight at an exercise class held in a school hall! I was looking around and thinking how simple life was (looking back) when I was that age. You got up, you got ready for school. When at school you worked hard in your lesson then it was play time. Then you worked hard again and then it was lunchtime and more play time. Then you worked hard again then you went home.

At home you forgot all about school and played with your friends or enjoyed your toys, crayons, books etc until it was bed time. You just did your stuff in chunks of time and took it for what it was then moved on. Does that make sense? At least that is how it seemed to me or seems to be looking back.

I feel I need to apply this to my life again.

* I get up and get ready for work, taking care to look my best and enjoy a healthy breakfast.
* I arrive at work and in that period of time I am paid for, I do whatever task comes my way (obviously within reason I am not suggesting it is OK for me to start doing work I am not trained for or letting them take the absolute p*ss).
* During my lunch break I should enjoy fresh air and a walk outside and/or a catch up with a friend who I can meet or talking to my work buddy (preferably not about work).
* At my going home time, I need to switch off my work mind at the same time that I switch off my PC and walk out of the building.
* I then should go home and enjoy my free time in whatever way is appropriate i.e. exercise, film & time with hubby, seeing a friend, reading a book, using the Wii or laptop or spending time on my home.
* Get ready for bed at a decent time and sleep well until I arrive back at step 1 again!

It all seems so simple doesn't it?

I don't know why I get so worked up about the time at work...if it is busy and we're short staffed but I am working flat out, I can't clone myself to do more! If I am asked to concentrate on higher priorities and the day to day stuff falls behind (and Management are aware that I am being asked to concentrate on higher priorities) then really, is it not up to Management to step in and sort it out? It is and I have had this conversation with my boss before and he has literally agreed with me that it is not *my* job to worry about it, it is his job to keep an eye on things.

Well I will try not to get too spiky tomorrow (as I was today I confess) as I always work hard and will continue to do so, I can only do my best eh?

I really really hope this was just an off day though!

Goodnight, bye for now. x

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Good to Know I'm Not Alone!

Thank you so much to everyone who has replied to yesterday's post. As I was typing it I imagined lots of people 'tutting' and labelling me a failure (and perhaps some silent readers did) so I was so pleased to see your supportive responses last night and this morning. Thank you again as it is a relief to know others feel the same as myself. Today I am embarking on one of my home DIY pampering sessions. My nails & cuticles have been tidied and next up is facial scrub, face mask, deep hair conditioning, pedicure & a long hot shower followed by a perfumed body lotion and cuticle oil. So I am off to enjoy it!! Whatever you are up to today, I hope you enjoy your Sunday too. Ta-ta for now. x

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Not Sure A Leopard Can Change It's Spots Completely...

Well hello there readers, once again a huge gap between posts!  I am hoping you are all keeping well though and thanks for stopping by today.

So, the last time I posted I was battling my way through snow and sub zero temperatures and watching my money burn away as the heating stayed on (and on and on...) which was rather depressing.  Apparently we have more snow due this weekend/Monday, oh hurrah.  Let's hope it doesn't hang around for long as we used around £75 worth of gas in three weeks! 

Well I am not doing so well on the spending front.  Actually no, I am doing brilliantly well on the spending front if you want to look at it from a different point of view!  I did have a brief spell of being very very good but then it all went out of the window but, meh. 

I am not sure I will ever change to be honest.  I can see that how I spend my money has changed though which is at least a big step in the right direction and I am really pleased with that progress.  I now refuse to buy something if I don't know 100% that it will be used or worn regularly.  I refuse to buy anything without researching it first to see if I can get it cheaper elsewhere or if I can get it through QuidCo.  I refuse to buy something unless it's absolutely perfect for me or the house.  I refuse to buy anything in any of the leading supermarkets if I can get it for less in Aldi.  Where I have to pay or can pay by credit card, I do so and get Avios points.  In about a year's time I will have two free airline tickets to Berlin (on my bucket list) or Eurostar tickets to France or Belgium (either fine by me).   The credit card is paid off in full every month and in over two years I haven't paid a penny in interest.

So, so far this year I have seen some of my friends socially and also been out for the day/seen a film with hubby for his birthday.  All occasions have meant I spent money.  Rooting around the bargain section of the M&S Outlet with one of my best friends for four great tops for £20.  Coffee & lunch and a well needed catch up with her as she's going through a bit of a crisis.  Petrol over to where we met up. 

Yesterday, more petrol then to see another friend 65 miles away who is going through a dreadful separation and also needs support.  What do you do, say no?  Not in my book.  I don't like the thought of my friends gathering at my funeral talking about how great I was at saving a few bob, rather I hope they remember me as a loyal & supportive friend who was there if needed (as they are for me).

Anyway we had a cheap Greggs lunch out and a trawl around 4 charity shops where we both picked up absolute bargains.  For me, a much needed second winter coat for £4 (just need to get it dry cleaned) and an immaculate trench coat for £6 which I have machine washed already.  Assorted other tops for work and weekends plus a fabulous practical but stylish tote bag.  I guess total spend yesterday including petrol, about £40.  Result:  bargains achieved, money saved in the long run and one very much cheered up friend which is priceless.

In other spends, I've flirted again with Ebay and purchased some winter woolies for around the house and also found some of the few personal items I insist on, for significantly less than in shops (sorry High Street) so I got them.  Tried cheaper; bought twice.  No more of that, it's a false economy.  I may as well fork out a bit more for what actually works for me.

Off to see another old school friend in a couple of weeks time but we're staying in and she's cooking Thai food.  I am taking a bottle of Aldi wine and it'll probably cost about £7 in petrol for the return journey.  We'll talk for hours and I am also taking her some clothes which no longer are for me but which I think will really suit her. 

As well as being careful about where the money goes, I also try and get maximum use out of whatever is bought so, old clothes are passed on to friends or family (or charity shop if they don't want them), no food is ever wasted, I do weekly cupboard/freezer inventories and make menus accordingly, all household/cleaning things are used up to the last drop before something else is bought or opened....you get the picture.

I know I could make the decision to stop spending money full stop but the truth is, I don't want to and it's not really achievable unless I never leave the house again.  Truth is I am massively unhappy not seeing my friends (especially when they need help or support) and staring at the same four walls, I am unhappy wearing clothes or shoes that have seen better days or just look crap on me, I feel sh*t using cheap products and make up that don't do anything for my crazy hair or temperamental skin.  Watching life pass me by drives me insane.

For now, I shall continue to make good & more sensible choices where my cash goes and my debts will continue to be paid down at a manageable rate.  I want to see more people and places in 2013 than I have done in the last couple of years.  If I can squirrel away some savings as well I will (one of my days out mentioned above was paid for by some savings I had saved especially by the way) I won't squander it all but I think I am done with self imposed austerity measures for the sake of another few quid saved in the month.  Life's too short frankly, I want to grab some happiness again while I can. 

Cheerio for now!  x

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Remember I Said It Would Get Worse Before It Got Better.....

.....hmmm, well I wasn't wrong about that!

January so far has been spend spend spend.  Though happily not on useless rubbish, booze, drugs & rock and roll.  Though saying that I will be spending twenty quid or so at a gig next weekend where there is a cheap bar and I need a taxi home!  Tickets already bought & paid for.  No drugs - unless you count the paracetamol I will undoubtedly need the next day.

It's been the month for the car service, MOT, repairs required to get through MOT, insurance and break down cover.  Ouch.

I have also done an Approved Food shop, a Tesco freezer stock up for vegetarian things which the likes of Aldi don't sell, and other bits and bobs required i.e fresh fruit & veg, bread etc.

I have also had to purchase some new clothes and boots as well.  The boots are Clarks but they were half price online (£25) with free delivery.  I won't buy cheap shoes, not when I have to cover what feels like miles on the hospital site some days; my feet deserve so much better.  And Clarks are comfy and have definitely upped their stakes in the style department recently.

The clothes have been off of EBay or today, in the sales at BHS.  Charity shops are good for a browse and I do love a good rummage but there have been specifics I need to fill gaps in my wardrobe or replace worn out items so I have hunted them out for less money.  I know in a previous post last Autumn or so, I said I shouldn't buy any more clothes but the truth is, there weren't enough practical items for this time of year or work so, shell out again I had to do.  I am pleased with the results though and have one more item on EBay to finish tomorrow then (if I win it) I am done.

It's hubby's birthday early next month so I have got him some nice gifts, luckily what he wanted I could find on Amazon Marketplace (sellers like you & me trying to get rid of old CDs, DVDs, books etc) or on sale online.  I guess that is one plus point about having a birthday in the Winter: you can get the gifts in the post Christmas sales if you're organised!

I have agreed to start going to an exercise class with an old friend and it is £4 a class on a Monday, held in a school hall.  We went for the first time last together last week and it was good.  I had a real laugh, a bit of a boogie (which I love) and got my heart rate up.  £4 a week over a year is much less than joining a gym I won't make the most of and there is no commitment so if I can't make it one week for any reason there is no hassle.  You don't have to pay up front.  I want to go though and get into a routine of it with her (I am really hoping the forecast snow does not make an appearance tomorrow to screw everything up) as exercise/dancing was always a big part of "me" so it will be good to have it back in my life as part of my weekly routine.

Socially, it's been pretty good, I have seen some friends and family whom I haven't seen for years, for the cost of some petrol and I passed on an old PC/monitor to my family member so that was my good deed/doing my bit to keep something out of landfill!  I am off to see another friend next weekend again for the cost of petrol (20 mile round trip) and she is also watching the pennies/trying to budget so I am sure we will have many things to talk about and compare.  I am trying to get another friend crowbarred into my diary as well but already we are mid January (or thereabouts) so it's looking like February to see her but that's OK as long as we get it sorted.

So it's been expensive but there you go.  I hope that February is a lot quieter financially - it *should* be.  The rest of the year needs to be fairly calm as well if I am going to meet my target.  Fingers crossed eh?

Bye for now.

x x x

Friday, 4 January 2013

What's In a Name?

Hi there, how's your first 4 days of a brand new year been so far?

I was thinking recently about my "blogger name".  I Want a Simpler Life.  I wondered what that conjured up for people.  I wondered if folk would imagine me as someone who is crafty and can turn her hand to making new clothes or home soft furnishings, makes everything from scratch, has a sparsely furnished home and hand feeds sparrows in my garden which may be peppered with home grown root veg and herbs.

Sadly none of those are true.

When I started my blog I was in a fairly bad place.  I hated my job; it was in an overwhelming, chaotic place which was poorly managed from the very top down.  Pretty bad for a global organisation you definitely would have heard of.  (I won't name check for fear of reprisals!)

My husband was only just into a permanent but part time job after a period of hit and miss full time work and was embarking on a degree via the OU.  So money was starting to evaporate and so was any fun in my life.  I wasn't exercising as much as I used to and so some weight was also starting to pile on.

My life seemed to have come to a halt and I felt like life itself was just passing me by.  I live in one of the most culture-less and featureless places in the UK.  You can go for a walk sure, but it's as boring as hell.  The beach is at least an hour's drive away.  There's nothing much to look at around here and anything 'fun' is away down the motorway somewhere.  I was completely uninspired by everything.  And to boot, I'd been seeing a counsellor about completely hating what I saw in the mirror. 

My brain seemed cluttered with a lot of....crap, basically.  Life felt complicated. Truly, nothing felt particularly straight forward even getting up in the morning.  Nothing really serious was going on, certainly I know people have it a lot worse.  But I just wasn't happy and was terrified at the prospect of life continuing this way.  I guess this inspired the name of my blog too as I really wondered:  "Is this it?"

What I longed for was better clarity in my mind, an uncomplicated start in the morning where I wasn't wrestling with roller coaster emotions whilst getting ready for work (you generally have to look in the mirror) and driving into the car park of that hateful place of employment.  Also some stability financially wouldn't have gone amiss.

I needed to make more sensible financial choices.  I needed to try and find more joy in life without having to pay through the nose for it.  I needed to leave that job!

I was at times longing to go back to the days when I have just left school aged 16 and brought home around a paltry £200 a month but I know I was happy.  I bought a little moped, I had independence, I didn't have credit cards or loans and an overdraft was unthinkable.  Just being with my friends was enough, we didn't need much else to enjoy ourselves and even a walk around the block together, chatting was nice.

All these things just added up, in my mind, to the word simplicity.  That's what I needed.  More simplicity.

So that's how it started.  I guess I am making progress, yes, I am....but, it's a long process taken day by day.  The main thing definitely though, is I did leave the hateful job!

So tell me, did my name conjure up the description I started with?  Or had you imagined something else entirely?  I'd love to know!  I hope your life isn't complicated...unless you want it to be of course!

Bye for now, take care.

x x x

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

A Very Happy New Year...Let's Make 2013 a Good Year

Here we are again then, 1st January and a whole new year stretches out before us.  Happy New Year to you all and welcome to my new followers, it's great to hear from you and I wish you well with your own personal journies too.   There will be ups and downs like there are in every year, but I hope we can all learn any necessary lessons as we go, pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down and just make this a cracking year.

I didn't go out last night, I didn't even buy anything special to toast at midnight.  However I did have a nice enough evening at home with hubby.  Dinner was healthy, cheap and delicious:  marinated tofu and sliced onions & peppers in an Approved Foods 'Sweet Chilli' wrap kit.  I had some gifted Roses chocolates to get rid of for "dessert" later too.  We watched a comedy DVD I got for Christmas and used up the odd bits of alcohol & mixers we had left over from Christmas. Then we watched "Old Jews Telling Jokes" on BBC4 for an hour which was another well needed laugh.

The TV was switched over with 30 seconds to go before Big Ben chimed in the New Year and the fireworks started.  I *love* fireworks so watching them is a treat.  I'd absolutely love to be there in person but it's just not going to happen for a few years so I'll have to make do with watching on the goggle-box for now.  We went up to bed at about 1.00am, I had already fallen asleep once on the sofa by that time.

I had a big lie in this morning as I had nothing to get up for at all.  I have no children or pets and hubby was happy downstairs playing a Wii game so I enjoyed a cup of tea brought to me in bed (before the Wii was switched on!) then more snooze until 11.00am!  I have not slept that late for a very long time (not counting being ill) and I bloody loved it.

After breakfast and a few chores I indulged in a bit of "free" home pampering i.e. self eyebrow maintenance, deep hair conditioning, a face scrub/mask I already have followed by a hot shower with a gorgeous Weleda rose shower gel followed by matching rose body lotion and a self administered foot rub!

Lunch was using up some fancy cheese I bought in for Christmas, on toast with a couple of spoonfuls of caramelised red onion chutney on top - delicious!

So you probably spotted the theme is making the most of what is already in the house and enjoying the day off!  The start of the year is going to continue with using up and wearing out what is already here.  Everything from slivers of soap to wash hands with to incorporating those left over pickled onions into something I'm sure!  (Suggestions welcome!)

Back to work tomorrow for two days then off on Friday as the car is in the garage for MOT & annual service and I have a couple of odd days of leave to use up.  I don't cycle to work in the winter.  So I intend to catch up on home admin and perhaps another day of home pampering, a wardrobe clear out and re-arrange (teaming existing things together a bit more stylishly) and going through the kitchen cupboards to see what we can cobble together as a meal plan over the next week or so.

I feel positive about it and happy that 2013 is finally here.  This IS the year for change!  This IS the year I start to get my life back on track where I can start enjoying it again for all the right reasons.

Thanks for reading today, thanks for the recent comments too, you know I always appreciate them.

x x x