Friday, 31 October 2014


Since some of you have been kind enough to support my endeavours with the Operation Christmas Child boxes, I thought you might like to see the almost-finished results!

We have got the official boxes this year - they arrived flat and the YFG had a merry hour one night whilst I was working, and she folded and slotted 25 of them together for me. 

I've had a lot of the bits and bobs that we are putting in them sitting around for a while, and it has been a relief to start getting the boxes packed tonight!

So, if we open the lid, we have a fairly typical assortment of things in this box for a 5-9 year old girl.

There's a hat and scarf which the FH's cousin's wife knitted with some wool that UJ brought me. He found it in his loft, which means that it must date from my mum's crocheting days - and she died in 1998, so it is time it was used!

There is a wee packet of sweets, a couple of hair clips, a stuffed toy, a card game, a notepad, and a sealed bag with 2 biros, 2 pencils, a rubber and a sharpener and a packet of pencil crayons.  We can't run to pencil cases but I thought that the children might appreciate a grip lock bag to keep their bits together in. 

All that will be added tomorrow will be the toiletry pack - a flannel, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste.  I am waiting for a friend to bring the flannels in the morning!

We are so very nearly there, and then they can be delivered to the local church in town which is organising the collection this year.

Going around again.....

Today is the end of October, and perhaps would have been the end of the focused money saving challenge, but then I had to go to the optician's yesterday afternoon.

Are you sitting down?  You need to be.  

I'm having to get older-lady glasses this time - my first pair of varifocals.  Who knew how much they would be? I certainly hadn't a clue.  Good lenses? Over £250.  Then there's the sight test, and the frames.  No change out of £400.

I can see fine at this kind of distance:

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but it is starting to get a bit tricky when I am about here:

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and when I am looking closely at this level, well, it's better to just take the flipping glasses off at the moment:

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There is no doubt in my mind that I need the new glasses.

So, our money saving challenge will have to roll onwards into November.  We'll keep a close eye on the spending,  and we'll be putting the £400 back into the savings pot as fast as we can.  The amount I had hoped to increase the savings by in this month will probably have to whistle!  It's going to be a challenge to break even.

But let's count our blessings: I have the money to buy the glasses, and I have the ways and means to replace it.  I don't have to put it on a credit card or take out a payday loan to finance the purchase.  It's all good, really.  And isn't life a bit boring without a challenge or two to keep us on our toes?!

Thursday, 30 October 2014


As we move towards November, I'm reflecting on the success of my challenge to spend less and use up some of the stocks in the house in an attempt to save a little money this month.

The freezers are still pretty full, but I would attribute that to the influx of cooked pears which has been put into them this month - when UJ brings trays of Conference pears, one can't eat them all at once and it is necessary to peel, core and cook them, and then freeze them in a little juice in small 500g margerine tubs.  I think that there are about 15 such tubs now out there!  I love pears so they will not be wasted this winter.

The store cupboards are not too empty yet, although there are some stocks which are running down and I am not going to replace them.  The stash of pickles is slowing being given away to friends and neighbours now that the FH is not here to enjoy them.  I shan't be buying any further HP or Worcestershire sauces either, and gave the last bottle of each to the Harvest auction at the chapel.

So have I saved any money?  Yes, but I have spent it!  I have had a handyman from the village here this month and he has transformed my block paved driveway back to how it was 10 years ago when we moved in!  It was littered with weeds in the cracks between the paviers, and at the side were some hugely overgrown lavender bushes.   Some of the blocks had dropped and were uneven in places.  And it is a large area - there is room to park about 6 cars out there, so we are not talking about a small area.  He has cleaned it all up, pressure washed it and removed all the weeks, taken the lavender bushes out, laid weed membrane down on that area and put down gravel.  The dropped blocks have all been levelled out as well.  It looks great and is a huge weight off my mind now.   I am so pleased with it that every time I drive the car in or out,  I have a little look at it all!  Money very well spent.

The EFG spent the evening with the gang at the flat last night, and had a good time by all accounts, catching up with the YFG and chatting.  I started my new knitting project and I am quite pleased with my progress last night - I knitted solidly for 2 hours whilst I watched an Inspector Lynley mystery on one of the Freeview channels.  I shall reveal what it is when it is finished, as right now it doesn't look much like what it is destined to become!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Weary travellers

Although the travellers were in the flat in Peterculter by 5.30pm last night, they are pretty worn out this morning, by all accounts!  My sister drove all the way so it was no surprise to hear from the YFG that Sis woke up at about 9.30am this morning.....If I had driven that distance, I don't think they'd have seen me until lunchtime.

They went out for a meal with the EFG last night, and plan to meet up with her again today after her lecture, and hit the shops this afternoon.  Good job I have given the YFG a little pocket money!

I spent some time yesterday evening with my friend whose son died on Saturday.  She is ever so slightly sedated, and not herself at all, as you might imagine, after a trauma of this magnitude. I just sat with her, hugged her, and listened to her.  There wasn't a lot more I could do, although I did leave our funeral director's number with her partner, as they were so brilliant for us in the summer and I know that they would deal with this sensitively and with the greatest level of care.  Lots of prayers will be going her way, and I know that most of the village has been thinking of her - the lawn in the front of her house was a little sea of flowers and candles last night.

Here, my time is quite peaceful.  I have been awake since just before 8am and been busy getting things crossed off the housework list, before I start work in a few minutes. I have two services to prepare for Sunday, although I am recycling one in a sort of variation for the evening service I am taking in the north of the circuit.  It still needs work on it though, and I hope to get some work done on those this afternoon.

Today will be a no spend day, like yesterday - the village shop and post office is shut for refurbishment and I have no plans to leave the village today at all, so a quiet, home-based day is on the cards.  Might even start a new knitting project later!

Tuesday, 28 October 2014


They're over the Border....

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and over the Bridge...

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and still heading north!

Hoping to be in Peterculter by about 5.30pm.  They are currently 27 miles from Aberdeen itself.

Fingers crossed!

Away she goes

The YFG and UJ have set off from here this morning on their travels.  They are heading over to my sister's house, where they will transfer all their stuff into my sister's car, and then they will be off, up the A1 to Aberdeen.

(photo I took on our visit earlier this year)

They are well provisioned with sandwiches and snacks for the journey, and my sister was in charge of making a flask of coffee for the adults, as the YFG has some squash.  All that they will need at the service stations will be the loos!

I have sent parcels for the EFG too - washing powder bought on offer, a knitting book [with wool and needles], a chemistry book and some revision charts from her bedroom wall, and some goodies - she asked for home made cheese scones and flapjack, so they are carefully packed in there too - just hope that they don't get raided en-route!

They are going to be staying in an apartment in Peterculter which is just outside Aberdeen.  It was tricky to find anything self-catering in Aberdeen with parking, so they are just a little way outside.  They are hoping to arrive by 7pm and take the EFG out for a meal tonight.

And me?  I am working this week, and already this morning I have had a tidy round, sorted the chooks and rabbit, and got a load of washing in that the YFG had left in the basket.  I have an optician's appointment on Thursday, but don't really expect to leave the village apart from that.  I need to get my head down and tackle Faith & Worship in some of the time I have, and the OCC boxes need to be packed this week too!

It is a lovely sunny morning here today, so I shall enjoy sitting outside under the verandah in the sun when I have a tea break later xxx

Monday, 27 October 2014

In the kitchen this week

This weekly post must be getting quite repetitive for the reader, but I find it useful to be able to look back and see what we have been eating!  We are also eating our way through the freezers, so there is a certain amount of repetition of favourite meals too.

This week, the YFG is off to Aberdeen for five days, and so I shall be choosing meals just for myself after today.

The meals I have in mind:

Spaghetti bolognese for her tonight.  Leftover mince will be meals for me later in the week, or frozen for another week.
Baked potatoes with various toppings
Stove top chicken casserole [my current favourite!]
Perhaps sweet and sour chicken, because the YFG isn't that keen on it
Vegetable risotto
Leftover night!

Our food spend this month is much reduced, along the lines of the Stoptober challenge, so I am pleased!