Sunday, 30 November 2014

Not here yet

At the risk of being controversial, I'm not putting the decorations up this weekend, either!

(image from onedreamtravel.com)

I know that some people are decking the halls this weekend, and putting up the tree, and the lights have been switched on in towns and cities all over the country.

Not here.

Not yet!

As a child, the tree went up on the Saturday before Christmas.  And that seemed to be a widespread tradition in our little village back then.

Now, I know that half the windows in the street will be sporting a fully lit tree by Sunday night, and the scene will be set for the next five weeks or so.  But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

This is Advent. 

 A time of waiting, of preparation and of thoughtfulness.  The celebration comes later!

I am thinking of the prophecies of the Old Testament, the pregnancies of Elizabeth and Mary, the long time that Anna and Simeon waited at the Temple, and the generations that the Israelites waited for their Messiah.

Patience, people!

On the first Sunday in Advent, I am linking to Ang's Tracing Rainbows blog to hook up with the "Pause In Advent" theme.

I'm hosting the "Pause In Advent" here - continuing the tradition started by Floss
(image taken from angalmond.blogspot.co.uk)


Saturday, 29 November 2014

Hastening on

The words of the familiar carol came to mind tonight, "For lo, the days are hastening on" and indeed, it seems as if time is flying past us.

Such a lot has happened in the last five months since the FH died, and I can't always remember that it has been so long.  Some days, it seems so much longer, and other days, it is like yesterday.  But that is the nature of grief, I think.

Things have changed: the EFG has almost finished the first half of her first year at Aberdeen Uni, and we are looking forward to having her home in about three weeks or so.  The YFG has completed all her applications for Sixth Form Colleges and we will hear about interviews and acceptances in the Spring.  My job is part of my life now, and I no longer dread it each day, thank goodness!  The driveway has had a facelift, the guttering has been repaired, and we are "doing" a few things around the house.  I have started to make some headway in the Faith & Worship course again after quite a lull.  The days when I really feel the weight of the responsibility as a huge burden don't come quite as often at the moment.  I've had my first ever reflexology treatment - and the YFG is going to go to the chiropodist next week about her in-growing toenails, and she is a little mortified as she thought only old people went to the chiropodist!

We are more than getting by.  God blesses us with friends [and family, most of the time!] who love us and support us.  Just like they always did.  The YFG still loves Sherlock, I still adore soppy films, and love my chooks, and life goes on.  A bit fast at times, but it goes on.

Friday, 28 November 2014

What are you selling?

With the rules about disclosing what is a sponsored post or advertisement on a blog becoming more widely known and perhaps more strictly enforced in the future, and the edges becoming a little bit blurred on some blogs, it seems like a good time to think about making money from our blogs, or why we don't.

I don't make a penny out of this blog.  I have no intention of doing so - it would go against the frugality and money-saving background that I share to try to get you, the reader, to buy something.

However, I know that some of my blogging friends have got buttons on their blogs where they get an income from their readers clicking through an affiliate link to places like Amazon or Approved Food. I haven't got a problem with that - we all have free choice and can decide click on the link and use that or type the web page directly into our browser and go there independently.

Some of my blogging buddies have got the odd advert on their blogs too - but again, if I am not interested in the adverts, I leave well alone.

My favourite kinds of blogs are the simple ones, where I go to read about something which interests me, or someone whose life has something in common with mine.  I read blogs to be inspired, to learn something or to be uplifted in my faith.  I want to read about other people like me, to know that others have ups and downs, and be encouraged.  If I am honest, I don't really want to shop through blogs!  But if a blogger friend whose interest I share can recommend something that I might like, or a book I would like to read, or a great recipe, then I'm there.

I've got some great blogs in my blogroll, and there are quite a few more that I need to add too,




Black Friday?

Just thinking to myself that old mantra, "It's only a bargain if you really need it." 

I don't need anything right now so we are staying well away from the shops today!

Back later, perhaps...

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Aldi update

I've just seen in places that today's voucher is for £10 off when you spend £50. Be sure that you want to spend that much before you buy the paper!

Social niceties

I am sorry that I didn't get here last night.

I lost my taste for the internet for a little while last night after my sister and my cousin started to have a slanging match on my FB page.  I deleted the post as it was not what I wanted on my page, then my cousin "deleted" me after I refused to get involved in their argument!!  The YFG is now upset because she was going on a trip with my cousin in a week or so, and now doesn't want to go, and I am fed up with the whole thing!

They do say that you can choose your friends but not your family and I see what they mean!  I try to not fall out with anyone, and managed to be friendly with both my sister and my cousin, even though they can't get on with one another - but now it seems that I can't do right for doing wrong.  The ball is now in my cousin's court, and if she has withdrawn communications, that is up to her.  I had an arrangement with her parents that they would all come here on Boxing Day so I shall ring my aunt in a week or two and see how the land lies there.

And you know what?  This is a day I could have done with a little support from some of these people, not a falling out....

This is our 18th wedding anniversary.  Married in the registry office up in Fife, with only local friends around us, we had a lovely day.  The EFG was 12 weeks old, and we had neighbours and friends from the town with us to celebrate.

November has always been the month I have associated with the FH with it being his birthday month and the month of the wedding anniversary.  It is nearly over now, and we have Christmas and the EFG's homecoming to look forward to.  We are thankful for everything we shared, and the children we raised together.  I am very thankful for the support of friends just lately - friends have been the bedrock of this time.

I'll see you all tomorrow - and don't forget to pick up your copy of the paper today if you want an Aldi voucher!

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Nectar bonus and Aldi voucher

It's hard going at this time of the year to keep track of all the offers you want to take advantage of!

I managed to double up £10 of my Nectar points today to get £20 worth of items from Sainsbury's.  I bought 4 pairs of earrings and a lovely cosy snood (£10) from the clothing range, and paid in points.  Today was the last day for doing that, so I got in just in the nick of time - good job I had to go to town anyway for gymnastics today!  The earrings are going in the stockings and the snood is for the YFG.  The EFG is choosing some jumpers from New Look and I have sent her cold hard cash, so she isn't being left out.

(image from tr.wikipedia.org)

I have two more of the £6-when-you-spend-£40 Sainsbury's weekly vouchers. I shall be going there later in the week for the grocery shopping.  And then there is the Aldi voucher in the Mirror and Record on Thursday this week.  I definitely need to go there this month!  I want to buy the three-bird roast for the girls' Christmas dinner, which will take care of £10, and then we need to stock up on staples like the shower gel, laundry detergent and tinned items.  Good job it is pay week, I think.

The glasses spend has been fully repaid, thank goodness, and that account is back to where it started. The glasses themselves are not going too well.  I tried to wear them yesterday when I was working but couldn't manage the notepad, the telephone dialling pad and the laptop and the multiple head-swivelling it required, so I had to change back to the normal ones!  I rang the optician to be told that they usually need adjusting a couple of times, so I am to go back on Friday for a tweak - hope it helps!

I have enjoyed two suppers of leek and potato soup and have stashed five more portions in the freezer for weekday lunches.  I love the stuff!  The YFG made her macaroni cheese herself tonight whilst I was at the gym. The chicken is on the plan for tomorrow...


Monday, 24 November 2014

In the kitchen this week


If you ask the YFG for some suggestions for her favourite meals, she's pretty quick to get them up on the board in the kitchen.

She had lasagne up there too until I pointed out that that was a lot of carnivorous eating for one week and she might want to consider some macaroni cheese too - I know she likes that, and I am going to have a go at some of your suggestions from a while back and add some cauliflower too.

The fish pie will be a mini version since it will be a one-portion one.  The Spag bol is an easy one as I have a portion of the meat sauce in the freezer for just such an occasion.  We haven't decided how to have the chicken yet, but we have plenty in the freezer.  

I bought a few more leeks this week so I shall definitely be making more soup tomorrow.  I have some big potatoes too, so a baked potato or two might also go down well.

Let us know what you're cooking this week - I could do with some fresh inspiration!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

A few words

Lie in.
     Church.
          Lunch.
               Three hours of helping the YFG with Maths!
                       Strictly
                             Supper
                                   Ironing..........

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Wearing out

Some things are not designed to last for ever.  I wish they were!  This is my trusty pair of Hawkshead walking boots. They were the FH's years and years ago. We had a pair each, and I wore mine out, and then claimed his because he never wore them.  I think their time is up!


They are definitely dry-weather boots now.


And this heel has even picked up some gravel to fill the holes....


And then there's the wellies.  Strangely enough, these were the FH's too!  Many many moons ago.  I've been wearing them to do the chooks and the gardening for a year or four now.  They have had these cracks in them for a couple of winters now.


Those old ones went in the bin tonight!


I finally treated my feet to a new pair!  The best £12 I have spent in a LONG time!


Weird photo to finish that I took looking down at my feet and then flipped upside down so it looks right.

They are muddy now already.  But my feet were warm and dry in them, and they will make my winter so much more bearable, sloshing about in the mud!

And the walking boots?  Well, yes, I have some new ones, but they aren't quite as comfy, and as long as I stay out of the puddles, I think these ones will "do".   Just another week or two, please?!

Friday, 21 November 2014

A savings boost

Excellent news tonight - I have had a busy evening at gymnastics and come home quite worn out, so I sat down at the laptop to have a browse and see what had been going on this afternoon in the world.  

I have received my payslip from the new job by email, and they are paying me back some of the tax they took last month.  The tax man has sorted out my tax arrangements, and I shall be getting about £100 back - so where do you think that will be going?  

(image from moneyfacts.co.uk)

Quite right - straight into the savings pot, and that will be another £100 off the debt to the savings for the glasses!

That will mean that the money is three-quarters restored.  Result.

I do like positive emails like that, don't you?

Thank you for all the comments about the glasses, by the way.  I am very grateful for all the advice. I am going to try the suggestion of increasing the amount of time that I wear them by two hours a day, and see if that works.  I shall persevere!  

Thursday, 20 November 2014

All glazed over

Ladies [and gentlemen] who wear granny goggles/varifocals, please give me the benefit of your wisdom and experience!

(image from dailymail.co.uk)

Is it usual to have to actually move one's head as the eyes move from one side of the page in a book to the other? The edges of the page are not in focus unless I move my head....not too keen on that - I feel like a mechanical puppet moving my head like a loony.

The computer is another challenge - I can see the screen, but when I drop my eyes down to look at the keyboard, it's out of focus.

The lady in the optician said that a rule of thumb was to have my nose aiming for whatever I wanted to look at.  Would you agree?  It would seem that I have to stop moving my eyes and  move my head around a lot more!

And how long is it going to take to get used to them?  Give me some encouragement, because I am not enjoying this stage at all!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Seeing more clearly

I finally got my hands on my new "granny goggles" [as one of you told me they could be called] yesterday.....how strange they are to begin with!  It had taken two weeks from the day I paid for them to actually getting them, which I did think was a trifle slow, but the lady at the optician's said they had had trouble with glazing them.  I have them now though!

I'm not wearing them all the time, as they take a little bit of getting used to - I'm breaking myself in, a bit at a time.  It feels a little strange to have to be conscious of where I am looking to be sure that I am using the right part of the lens, but I think that once I get used to it, it will become second nature and I shan't have to give it a thought.

I've managed to put half the money back in the savings fund.  I hope to have the rest of it put back by the end of the month.  I know that the emergency fund is bound to be needed again before too long, so it's good to get it topped back up as soon as I can.

The EFG had a little bonus yesterday when one of her Premium Bonds came up in Ernie's draw - a cheque for £25 arrived for her so I have sent that northwards so that she can pay it into her account.  She was very pleased to hear that last evening - she has another cold, so it cheered her up.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Candle

I lit a candle in the window for the FH last night - it was alight from when it started to get dark at 4pm, and it was still just about burning at 9pm.

(image from en.wikipedia.org)

The YFG enjoyed a visit to Nottingham's Galleries of Justice museum yesterday with her school history cohort.  They had a good look around, and took part in a mock trial too. The day was a long one, with a 7.30am trip to school this morning, and then not getting home until just past 5pm.  

The day was kind, too, in that we had a lot of support from friends and family in real life here, with regards to the FH's birthday.  Lots of messages on Facebook, some emails, phone calls and texts have arrived.  I had a long chat on the phone with one of his sisters in the evening, and his cousin rang yesterday too.  We feel secure and loved.  We miss him, of course we do, but we are OK.

And you will be pleased to hear that since I was up at 5am, I put my feet up in the afternoon when I had done the ironing, and watched some of the very first episodes of Downton Abbey.  I didn't watch the first series properly, so it was interesting.  I do believe I may have dropped off for a minute or two as well.  I also managed to get the second sock cast on as well!

I did spend some money yesterday - we decided on a book for one of the YFG's friends for Christmas, from the Book People catalogue.  Not only did I go through Quidco to get 8% cashback, but there was a 15% off code till midnight so I saved a nice chunk of that wee spend.  

Monday, 17 November 2014

In the kitchen this week

It's an early start in the Fens today in order to get the YFG on her way for a school trip to the Courts of Justice at Nottingham!

This week in the kitchen is going to look like this:

Monday - cold meat left from yesterday's bacon joint, served with veg and mash
Tuesday - Sausage and mash
Wednesday - Veggie and bacon risotto
Thursday - Cottage pie or corned beef hash
Friday - The YFG will have her southern fried chicken strips from the freezer and I am likely to have made more leek and potato soup by then ;)
Saturday - the YFG is off to a birthday cinema trip and meal with some friends, so I will probably enjoy more soup!
Sunday - there is a piece of brisket beef lurking in the freezer, and it may be time for it to come out and have a few hours in the slow cooker - then it will be delicious.

Thanks for your comments about remembering the FH today - November is going to be a tough couple of weeks from here on in with his birthday today and what would have been our 18th wedding anniversary towards the end of next week.  Your support and encouragement is welcomed, as always.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Bloglovin

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Excuse me playing about with the blog settings but apparently I have to post this link in order to "claim" my own blog on Bloglovin!

Film afternoon

2014, THE IMITATION GAME
(image by allstar on theguardian.com)

Well, I would have settled for a DVD and lighting the fire, but the YFG is strangely persuasive and we ended up at the cinema to see The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch [above] ably supported by Kiera Knightly and a host of other stars including Charles Dance and Allen Leech.

It was "free" in as much as we had some Clubcard vouchers and a voucher acquired a while back from buying a couple of bags of sweeties!  So we didn't pay for the tickets, and we didn't buy the over-priced popcorn and drinks either.

The story is based on the real life experiences of Alan Turing, a mathematician and cryptologist from the University of Cambridge.  I shan't spoil the ending for those who want to go to see it, but take a tissue or two.  It is quite brilliantly made, and very well acted.

We have had a meal tonight which always makes me think of the FH and his heart transplant. I was just putting a meal out on the plates the day that he had the call, and the entire meal went straight in the bin as we had no time to waste - we had to get to the hospital and he was forbidden to eat another morsel, of course.  That meal was a boiled bacon joint, with veg including broad beans and potatoes.  That's what we have had tonight - and thought of him.  He would have been 76 tomorrow, so we will be thinking of him, and remembering the good days.

And for now - we're by the fire, watching the opening credits of War Horse.  Seems like today will be a double bill of Benedict........and another war story.  

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Frugal day...in a way

Today has been a rather good day for the bank balance in some ways, and a bit more challenging in others!  

We finally got to the leek and potato soup for supper tonight.  The YFG had a cheese toastie with hers.  Confession time: the cheese was a slither of double gloucester that I bought the FH when he was having trouble with the hospital food and not really fancying it.  I brought the cheese home when he didn't eat it, and it has been languishing in the fridge ever since.  I didn't really want to open a new block of cheese to make one toastie, so that did the job admirably, and got something used up into the bargain!
(image from theguardian.com)

I did the weekly shop this morning when there were very nearly more coaches at gymnastics than children to coach - so I was allowed to go and do my shopping.  Grand sum of £14.86 spent!  That included fresh fruit and veg, bread, and some lunchbox items for the YFG, and squash.  I'm saving the longer list for next week as this week has fallen between two Sainsbury's vouchers as they run from Sunday to Sunday.  I don't usually shop on Sundays if I can help it, so I am saving this week's voucher for next weekend.  We still have loads of meat, fish and veg in the freezer.

(image from j-sainsbury.co.uk)

Then I did start to spend some money - with care!

I have had a session of reflexology today.  I was beginning to feel the need to invest in my health and to make sure that I am OK.  When you are the only one to keep the balls in the air, you need to be on top form.  I had some homeopathy from the same practitioner in 2012, and he came to the house this afternoon. I thought it was going to cost £25, but it was only £20 in the event.  I shall see how I feel tomorrow......he said I might feel washed out for a day or so!

And then I let the YFG head off to Peterborough to buy her Christmas present.  Yes, you read that right. You might think it's weird, but it works for us.  The girls know what they are getting, and they look forward to opening their gifts and taking ownership.  The YFG wanted a particular pair of shoes and we looked online for them, but there didn't seem to be any available in her size so it seemed to be the best thing for her to go to the shop and try them on!  She went on her own this afternoon, and it was a very valuable experience for her.  She has to get over the idea that everyone in the shopping centre is looking at her and thinking she's sad because she's on her own - and she took the challenge today.  I was so proud of her when she came home with her purchases.  

Now we are having a quiet night watching Strictly and relaxing.  I'm not sure how tomorrow evening is going to look - I shall miss Downton Abbey dreadfully and I hate the jungle programme with a passion!!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Yardage

Spot the difference between these two beds?

(image from technabob.com)

What do you think?  

(image from imgora.com)

The most significant difference for me is the way that the covers on the second bed really hang over the edge.  There is more yardage there, I think.

Bear with me - there is a point to this.  I was changing the sheets on our beds today, and I was thinking about what makes my bed so cosy and appealing, and I realised that it is because I have a king-size duvet on a double bed, so there is plenty of duvet to hang down over the edges and really keep me very snug.  There is no skimping and no danger of drafts!

It occurred to me later on, when I was hanging the king-sized duvet cover on the washing line to dry, and cursing the unwieldiness of the thing, that that yardage theory about the duvet being more secure and less drafty might equally apply to our finances, or our savings in particular. 

A double bed strictly speaking needs a double duvet.  A single wouldn't really be a lot of good.  A king-size one is just that bit more comfortable.

I was having a discussion with the YFG last night about holidays.  She would love to go to Canada, Africa, France, Australia, America, and all sorts of places!  I did agree to consider Dorset, Devon or Cornwall IF we get any further than Norfolk next year.  She knows that I have some savings, and to her young mind, I could afford a bigger holiday than I claim to be able to afford.

But those savings are our yardage.  They are what make life comfortable here, and stop us from feeling that we are living life on the bare minimum, on the edge, so to speak.

They give us security and keep the drafts [worries] at bay.

Some people would say that they can't make any savings, and that they have only enough coming in each week or month to get by.  I'm not naive and I do know that there are really people out there for whom that is the truth.  

Unfortunately, there is another whole group of people who are making choices which they could change, which would in turn allow them to develop a savings plan and make life that little bit more secure.  If you can save up just a few pounds a week or a month into a little emergency fund, then you have made a small start on making your life more comfortable.  We all have to start somewhere, and like our grannies used to say, "look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves". It is very true that getting in to the habit of saving a few pence here and there will soon help you to build up a wee nest egg.  

I'm preaching to the choir here I know, but if it spurs someone on to make a start, all the better. Elaine over at Mortgage Free in Three has some wonderfully thrifty ideas for saving money and would be a wonderful resource for anyone making a start on an emergency fund.

Weird the thoughts that pop into one's mind over the washing machine, eh?!  




Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Using up

In the spirit of Frugal Queen's post today, I have also had a bit of a using-it-up day today!  Last night I made a huge pot of gorgeous chicken stew in the slow cooker because the YFG and I were out at another Post 16 Open Evening.  We enjoyed it last night but I could just tell that the YFG wasn't up for it again tonight, so I re-incarnated it as chicken soup via a good blitz with my hand blender and hey ho, the leftovers have become some scrummy chicken soup.  One portion of that for my lunch and two more into the freezer.

Tonight she is feeling very sorry for herself with a horrible cold so she wanted some scampi and chips.  I, on the other hand, had another rummage in the fridge, and brought out half a leek, a couple of button mushrooms and a slice or two of bacon, which magically transformed themselves in to one of my favourite meals - risotto.  Winners all round, food from the stores and fridges, and full bellies to go to bed on tonight.

Tomorrow, sausages!

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Sharing a recipe from a reader

Hidden away in the comments is not the best place to find a recipe, so here is one that SusanM has shared for some gorgeous-sounding Chocolate Muffins - do let us know if you try them!  Thank you very much for the recipe, SusanM.  


CHOCOLATE MUFFINS by SusanM

Dry ingreds: 250 g SR flour sifted,
4 tablespoons drinking choc OR 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 100g choc chips or chopped chocolate, 175g caster sugar. MIX TOGETHER IN A BOWL.

Wet ingreds: 250 ml milk, 90ml veg oil, 1 egg. MIX TOGETHER IN A BOWL OR JUG.

Combine dry and wet ingredients and stir well. Pour into 12 large muffin cases and bake at 180 (165 fan) for 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. These freeze well. 

For chocolate chips I just use half of a 150g bar of luxury dark cooking chocolate from Aldi at 69p a bar and roughly chop. I also reduce the amount of sugar slightly (pretending to be healthy!) Enjoy x 

Voucher fun

Vouchers are all around us - most of the major supermarkets have offers on at the moment, and some are quite complicated to understand.  

(image from bbc.co.uk)

Morrison's are banking on us collecting vouchers over several weeks in order to claim a saving on our Christmas shop, Tesco are offering £5 off our next £40 shop when we spend £40 now, and there is the regular Aldi voucher in the newspapers.  Are you managing to keep track of the offers that affect you and your shopping?

And then there are the non-grocery offers too!

I have had to stop and think, and read the small print.  

I've dismissed Morrison's because I just don't have access to that shop very easily and I couldn't commit to visiting one on a regular basis.  I looked into their delivery service, but they aren't covering our area just yet.

Tesco are actually asking me to spend £80 in order to save £5 because I have to spend the initial £40 in order to get the voucher for the next week.......not such a good deal.

Aldi I do support most months, and I grab that voucher from the newspaper to stock up on staples and toiletry items.

But the one I am planning to make the best use of this season?  Sainsbury's has sent me four vouchers - for free with no qualifying spend to get the voucher - each one for £6 off when I spend £40.  And it includes everything in the shop apart from alcohol, so when I used one yesterday, the £9.99 that the YFG spent on a DVD with her babysitting cash counted towards it.  I split the savings with her!  And the best bit? If I am consistent, and use all four of the vouchers, I will receive a boost to my Nectar points - 5000 points added to the balance within 28 days.  Not in time for the Christmas shop, perhaps, but still a boost for us to use!  

I have also had an email from Amazon, letting me know that buying a £20 gift card would bring me a £5 promotional code to use on my purchases.  I bought the gift card because I had other Amazon vouchers and knew that I would be making purchases there for the girls - so an extra £5 bonus was a "no-brainer" as they say.  I exchanged the cash that I would have spent for a voucher, and then just used the voucher and the bonus to make the purchases last night.

I'm almost done with the Christmas shopping, thank goodness, but I am not doing much of it this year.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Menu plan Monday

I think we need a bit of livening up on our menu, and I also think that the YFG would appreciate a little more home baking occasionally, so these muffins look like something I could make in between all the other jobs on the list!

The bag of jacket potatoes is still going strong, and will be on the menu again this week.  Perhaps I can cook the muffins whilst the jackets are in the oven to maximise the use of the oven.  Last week I cooked four potatoes at once, and then I had two left over to zap in the microwave for quick accompaniments to meals.

The YFG is a particular fan of macaroni cheese with a sprinkling of ham or bacon in it, so that will come along one night this week - she hasn't had it for a while.  If possible, I shall try to get some vegetables on the plate too, but that is sometimes a struggle with her.

I bought some leeks yesterday as I have been looking longingly at the weedy looking leeks growing in my vegetable plots and despairing that they will ever be big enough to eat!  I could wait no longer this week, and leek and potato soup will be in the plan this week - I love it.  I shall serve it with one of my pitta breads for me, and a roll for the YFG.  She likes it too, and it is a quick and easy supper for a night on which I am working - I can make a big pot up and then just zap a portion whenever we need it.

I'm still hankering after a cottage pie too, but I am not sure that there is any mince left in the freezer.  I shall have to get out there and have another rummage to see what I can find.  If I haven't got any left, corned beef hash will be a close approximation to get us through the week!

And on the other nights of the week?  Leftovers, and portions of previously home made meals from the freezer!


Sunday, 9 November 2014

Remembering

Remembering the sacrifices of those around the world who have died in the name of peace.

(image from theguardian.com)

An important day to reflect and to remember. 
For younger people to be made aware of the terrible losses of the past, as well as the more recent fallen.
To consider ways to support those left behind, the bereaved families, and those who have sacrificed the life they once had, and been left with a new way of living, perhaps without limbs.


Saturday, 8 November 2014

Getting ahead

I did say the other day that I had surprised myself by almost completing the prep for Sunday's service well ahead of schedule, didn't I?  Seems God had a plan!

Last night, I heard that we have a "match" in our search for a new Superintendent minister for the circuit, and she wanted to visit the circuit today.  Today!  The day I would have been up to my eyes in service planning and preparation......so first of all, she came round and visited the four chapels which would be under her pastoral care, and then we had a tea and chat with her at one of the bigger chapels later on in the afternoon.  I met her first at our chapel at 1.30pm after dashing home from gym a little early.  Then I came home  after about 45 minutes, and had a speedy lunch, and the chat and tea was about 10 miles north of here, so I had to go again to get there for 3pm.

At that part of the day, there were representatives from all of the chapels in the circuit, and we had the chance to listen to her talking about her life and her witness, and a little bit about what makes her tick.  She is a very interesting lady.

After about 45 minutes, she left with her husband to return to her current circuit home in Leeds, and the committee considered whether she would be the right minister for us.

I'm a little surprised about all this, as it was my first time on the invitations committee for our chapel.  We don't have the opportunity to hear her preach, or lead worship.  We have to make the decision based on a quick chat in our chapel and then another brief meeting with her - all over in about 90 minutes.  SO different from other denominations.  I know that the Methodist Church already employs her and we are just calling her to serve with us, but it is a responsibility to get an impression of someone in so short a time.

She seems keen to come to the Fens, and we have asked our senior circuit steward to tell her that we are interested in her coming to us, so we have to wait and give her time to prayerfully consider whether we are the right place for her.......

So I am glad that I am very nearly ready for tomorrow. I left the YFG painting some white paper red as I didn't have time to buy red paper for tomorrow's poppy activity at the chapel, so we had to improvise, and since we had red paint in already, that seemed like a good plan.  Now to consider what an individual poppy petal might look like, and to cut some out.

It is raining cats and dogs here tonight, and so I haven't ventured out yet to close the hen house doors.  I'm waiting for a lull in the downpours. Take care and keep warm this weekend xxx

Friday, 7 November 2014

Taking care of me

I've decided that I haven't been taking quite such good care of myself as perhaps I should have been doing, but it has been tricky learning to balance everything this past few months.  So I am starting a few November resolutions - who says they just have to be for New Year?!

I need to eat more fruit and veg, I need to sleep more, and I need to drink more water!  There are things I should eat less of, and I definitely need to move my backside a bit more often.........sounds just like all those 1st January kind of things, doesn't it?! I have also decided that I feel better in myself when I knit more - and I haven't touched a knitting needle all week.

Trouble is, that I am not feeling so great just lately, and I know I have no one else to blame but me.

So for this week, less junk in and more knitting output, and we'll see how it goes.

I've been thinking about reducing commitments now that I have a job, and it is going to be SO hard to think about what to stop doing, but I am slowly coming to the conclusion that it might be the school governing that has to go......I don't want to do that, but sometimes, there has to be a higher consideration.  I'm going to keep thinking about that one for a little bit longer.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Moving up - good news!

After all the angst I have had with the new job I started in September, I had a phone call this afternoon to say that as of tomorrow, I have been promoted to a senior researcher!  Whoo-hoo!  That means that they don't listen in to my calls so much and they don't check up on the notes I put through to the garages any more - they go straight off!  Best of all, I get paid an extra pound an hour......

I am really chuffed about this, and relieved to say the least.  I had believed that I wouldn't promoted for at least another month, and that the powers that be would be doing a live time and motion study on me for an hour before they put me through - and I was really worried about that, because there is nothing like being "watched" for making me nervous and more likely to do things wrong.  Whether they did it without me being aware of it or not, I don't know, but at least I am over that hurdle now.

I've also been on a bit of a roll this morning and got most of the service for Sunday ready!  That is unprecedented - for me to be this ready so far ahead is strange, but very good....Remembrance Sunday is a big responsibility for me, but I have done it before so I know how it works here in our chapel.  I even have an activity planned for any children that come along, and if there aren't any, the adults will have to have a go because it is an integral part of the service.

I'm off now to see if I can have a cuppa and put my feet up for half an hour.  Hope you are all snug and warm now that the weather has turned chillier.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Aspirations

Last night at the school in Peterborough was a very interesting experience.  The school was founded by Henry VIII in about 1540, I think, and is hugely prestigious.  There were lots of little darlings there with their mummies and daddies, and it was fun to look around and see who was there!

It is like the private school I attended in Cambridge, in many respects, and they have very high expectations.  However, they are completely oversubscribed every year, as they only admit 50 extra sixth formers.  The YFG is of the "I haven't a hope" mentality, but I know that it is worth filling out the application form and giving it her best shot!  It would be very good for the YFG to go there, so all good thoughts her way please...

Today I have had a rummage in the freezer and pulled out the soup and bread roll for UJ's tea, along with some potato scones I made a while back. They will go down very well with some jam for pudding for him and the YFG tonight.  I also grabbed some bacon lardons that I had portioned up and we can have those in the risotto that is definitely on the menu today.

(image from theguardian.com)

I have just spent a while on the phone with the EFG and on the computer on The Train Line website, working out train times and prices with her.  She had bought a standard advance return ticket for the 20th December, but it now turns out she can come home on the 18th, so we set to and looked for other tickets.  By a stroke of luck, I found singles that come to £40 less than she paid for the return.  She will have to pay a £10 admin charge to change the ticket, but she should still be £30 to the good. She is hotfooting it down to the station now, with a print out from the web site, in order to try to secure the cheaper tickets.  I do hope it all works out, as two extra days with her are a bonus!




Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Looking around for the next move

The YFG is thinking hard at the moment - and it seems to give her headaches!  We have to make decisions soon about Sixth Form applications.  Does she want to stay where she is, head into Peterborough or trek into Cambridge?  Those are the three basic options, and we have to look into the options, see what each place has on offer and consider the pennies too.

Staying where she is will be the most comfortable option: the same bus into school each day, some of her friends still there, and familiar teachers and environment.  Peterborough will be completely different in that it is a faith school, she will have to wear a uniform into the Sixth Form and it is a new place to her.  Cambridge will be somewhere in between - no uniform but a new place and new friends to make.  Either of the last two will also involve a much longer day - she would leave here at 7.15am to do the Peterborough thing, and the Cambridge trip would be a similarly early start!

And the pennies?  There'll be a uniform to buy for Peterborough but not for the other two options, but then she would probably need more of her own clothes after wearing uniform for the last five years. Train fares would be needed for Peterborough and either bus or train for Cambridge - all to be considered.

The final decision will be a case of which place offers the courses, and the combination of courses she wants to do, and at which we feel she will achieve the most, in the happiest way!

Monday, 3 November 2014

In the kitchen this week

The freezer is getting a little jammed up with home made ready meals, so the YFG will need to eat a few servings of those this week to allow us to get to see what else is actually in there!

She's having a portion of lasagne, which is her undisputed favourite, tonight: I shall probably have some vegetable risotto - I have had it on the menu for the past two weeks and not got round to enjoying it!

The rest of the week holds all sorts of mysteries - I have got to get out there and have a rummage!  I know that there is a portion of spaghetti sauce out there which the YFG will also enjoy with some pasta, but I shall have to think of something else for myself for that night because I know I put some onion gravy granules in the sauce, which means I can't eat it.

I have a bag of jacket potatoes languishing under the sink in the kitchen cupboard, so I know jackets will be on the menu at least once this week.  An easy supper with a tin of beans or tuna, and not too much washing up!

I shall give UJ a portion of home made tomato soup for his tea on Wednesday, accompanied with a beautiful home made miniature cottage loaf bread roll which I was given last night.  There is a wonderful baker at the church I was at last night, and he gave me some bread rolls to bring home, but the YFG thought that the rolls were too substantial for her lunch box, but they will go down well with some soup. I have popped them in the freezer to keep them fresh, but I know UJ will enjoy them.  And that will be another plastic container out of the freezer on Wednesday!

I didn't get my sweet and sour chicken last week, but the YFG isn't keen, so I may not get it this week either.......unless I have it one night, freeze a portion or two. She could have scampi whilst I have that.  But hey! That would be another pot going back into the freezer and defeating the objective for the week.......can't win, can I?

I know that there is some lovely stewing beef in there, so I shall probably get that out for tomorrow. We shall have a long day as we are going to Peterborough for an open evening at a school which the YFG might consider for Sixth Form, and we won't be home early, so that could be a good idea to fire up the slow cooker.

I'll see how it all turns out!

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Warts and all




Never let it be said that I only share the good things!
This is my first attempt at a sock........and it has instantly been christened "Dobby's sock" by the YFG, because that is what it reminds her of, from the Harry Potter stories.  It's a bit too long and pointy....


and my mattress stitch appears to leave room for improvement too.

But hey, I'm half way to a pair of serviceable bedsocks for myself, so I shall continue!



Back together

The little bird is roosting here again!  Have to say that I shall be very pleased to have the bigger bird home again in seven weeks' time, too, and have all the wee flock back here.

The YFG has had a long trip in terms of distance, and she was quite tired last night.  She ate some lamb and veggies and then flopped out in front of Dr Who and Sherlock - back to her old favourites!  I heard a little about the trip, but I dare say I shall hear more.  The washing machine has been in action already......

My stepson's girlfriend went to the prison to see him yesterday and reports that all he has to complain about is the food, so he's doing OK. I think he will get his head down and do his time sensibly. I'm going to have a chat with her this afternoon and find out a bit more.  It is a relief to know that she has seen him.

Today's a busy day with two services, but I really hope to get back here tonight with a little "ta-da" moment and show you my latest knitting project.  It is an unusual way to make this item, and it is only half done, but I hope you'll see what it is.......I know, I'm teasing a little!