Saturday, 31 January 2015

What do you think?

Thoughts and recommendations would be good, please?  We have successfully reduced our electricity bill down to £44, just notified this morning.  But I have missed using the little mini oven that I bought from Lidl a few years ago - the thermostat failed and it just started burning everything, so I had to throw it out.


What should I get to replace it?  

I have two options, I think - a small halogen oven, or another mini oven.  I want something versatile enough to cope with the YFG's favourites of scampi, hash browns, and fish in batter with oven chips, and the occasional pizza, as well as baked potatoes and chicken portions too.  I don't make as many cakes as I used to, but if I could make cakes in it as well, so much the better.   

The small oven I had from Lidl (in the photo) was very reasonably priced, I think, at about £29.99 or so, but the problem with Lidl and Aldi is that I could be waiting months for them to stock the product again!  I could buy one from Argos anytime, but probably have to pay more.

I have never had a halogen oven before, but I have read that some people love them.  I have had a Remoska in the past, and still have it, but I don't find it terribly user-friendly and wouldn't want the YFG using it as it gets so hot to the touch.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and recommendations, please.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Good day

What a good day we had yesterday, despite a couple of snow flurries!

The YFG managed the day at school with the successful administration of the antibiotics by the Medical Room ladies.  She was glad to get back into the swing of it and had plenty of welcoming hugs from her friends.  

I managed 5 and a half hours on the phone yesterday! My eyes felt like they were on stalks by the end, though, despite me wearing my reading glasses diligently.  I spoke to some lovely people, including one lady who wanted to make her appointment to have her vehicle serviced but was in the bath so didn't have her diary to hand - thank goodness she wasn't on the loo!!  Doing the extra hours is a step towards regaining the time I had off unpaid whilst the YFG was in the hospital.

I nipped into the shop which is closing down and bought some bargains as I had hoped - half price posh shampoo which I wouldn't buy at full price but which at half price is good value, some odd items of food which were also around half the recommended price as well, and I managed to avoid the temptation of the sweets and boxes of chocolates too!  I was also pleased to find some wrapped soap which is ideal for the Operation Christmas Child boxes - my sister donated some six-packs of Knights Castile which I am going to be using for the rest of my life as I can't send it since the individual bars are not wrapped. I am buying wrapped soap and using up the donated stuff.......

We also had a good relaxing time in the evening, eating our supper and watching some tv together by the fire.  The fire is both a comfort and a joy - and I have ordered a load of wood to be delivered at the weekend: it will need to dry out for next winter, but it is a sound investment.  I am a big fan of the woodburner and will always recommend them to people.

We had a few flurries of snow in the Fens yesterday and some bitterly cold winds, but nothing compared to what some areas are experiencing - and certainly no earthquakes either!  Stay safe and warm, folks xxx

Thursday, 29 January 2015

A generous heart

Just noticed on the BBC website that the adventuring elderly chap who sparked controversy last year when he "escaped" from his care home to go to the D-Day commemorations has died. He and his wife have donated their considerable estate to the RNLI - a donation of around £600,000. What a legacy for the RNLI!  Bernard Jordan seems to have lived life to the full - what an inspiration.

Bernard Jordan
(image from

Moving forward

Fingers crossed that the YFG makes it to school today - she is hoping that she will feel up to it and cope with the day, but it is a day of ICT and Textiles, I believe, so nothing too strenuous to kick off her return.  I have to take her in this morning and sign some paperwork so that the Medical Room staff can administer her antibiotics during the day in order to keep to her regime of taking them.

And for me? I am hoping to get a little overtime done today at work so that I can catch up a couple of the hours I missed whilst she was in hospital.  My files have got a little behind so I am able to catch them up as well as catch up on the time I had to have off unpaid.

I have had quite a few no-spend days this week, but I had to give UJ £7.50 yesterday for some seed potatoes he bought for me, so that was just a little spend.  And today I may spend some too as there is a shop closing down not too far from us where I have heard that they are making crazy reductions to clear the stock - so I am going to see what bargains are to be had there.....on my own so that I focus on what we will actually use and not what might be a tasty treat!

Let's all hope that the YFG has a good day!  I have also seen that the weather is getting a little wild again - we had a fence panel come loose yesterday so we have some repair work to get organised soon: stay safe and warm wherever you are xx

Wednesday, 28 January 2015


A warm welcome to this wild corner of the Fens if you have just joined us recently - there seem to be more "Google" friends joining and some more followers on Bloglovin' as well. I do appreciate your comments and thoughts....I sometimes wonder how people find us and what draws them here - good to have you with us, anyway!  It is interesting how our numbers swell in numbers for a week or so and then the figures are static for weeks.....such is life.

Weird crafty words

Do you know what "frogged" means in relation to knitting or crochet?  I didn't!  

One I didn't have to frog, thank goodness!

It kept cropping up on a blog I read when a lady was talking about all her works-in-progress and she let us know that one or two items had been "frogged" and worked again.  Well, it all became clear eventually, but it seems to be one of those slightly dodgy words that has all sorts of meanings, depending on the company one keeps!!

Are there any other words you know that have a specific meaning in craft terms?

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Up again

The lady from my work who phoned me last week and had me crashing into the doldrums has phoned back again today and said that my work since then has been OK......oh, the joys!

Up and down here like a yo-yo.  I am feeling a bit better about it, and I suppose that I had been working myself up over the odd grouch that I had spoken to when making the calls, but like one of my colleagues reminded me at the end of last week, most of the people we ring are lovely!

The YFG's poor belly is still weeping, but I think that the abscess is shrinking and she has been taking the antibiotics really well, so I am hoping that recovery is in sight at last.  She has been sent some more work home from school, and has plenty to keep her occupied tomorrow.  It has been strange to have her at home all this time, and actually rather nice, but I wish it had been under other circumstances - and I am going to feel a bit lonely when she does get back to school, but I will soon get used to it again.  It will be good for us all to get back to normal.

(image from

The EFG has phoned with news of her next homecoming already - she has found cheapo tickets for the train to get home on the 4th April, which will be Easter weekend.  I shall be looking forward to that weekend - I have Good Friday and Easter Monday off as Bank Holidays anyway and I have booked a couple more days off on the Tuesday and Wednesday so I have my fingers crossed that we may be able to do something nice that weekend - I have no idea what just yet, but I have a while to be inspired! Let's hope for some good spring weather by then.

Nearly the end of the month.  I need to get my frugal attitude back into high gear and start making some serious savings around here!  I have coasted through January without having time to worry too much about saving, and we have managed.  I have had some big bills to pay though, and there are a few more on the cards.  The car's service in December had to be paid for this month, and that was over £300. I have also had to tax the car at £110 and insure it as well. I have paid the tax straight off but I put the insurance on to the credit card to get some points on it!  I found a good deal with Tesco, which should also be scoring me a £30 Gift card within 6 weeks of the policy coming into force.  In February, I shall need to get the cam belt replaced....that could be expensive too.  Ho hum!

Monday, 26 January 2015

Great day

The Rev Libby Lane is joined by female clergy after a service at York Minster, York.
(image from

Libby Lane became the Rt Rev Libby Lane, Bishop of Stockport, today in a ceremony at York Minster - and my friend from university, H-A, the Bishop from New Zealand - was there!  She's in this photo, far left, looking just as she did all those years ago.

It's quite an achievement for the Church of England to have got this far - and long may it continue!

In other news, the YFG has had a day resting, and taking her antibiotics.  I have had work to do, a visit from my tutor, and rearranged the garage this evening so that the man can get near the boiler in the morning to service it.  Fun.  Not.

I am about to break out my knitting and watch Silent Witness.  Feet up too.....

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Appendectomy woes

It goes on and on!  

There has been some tenderness around the main incision site near the YFG's tummy button, but the nurse practitioner at the surgery here thought we would have to "watch and wait" for a day or two.  Unfortunately the pain got worse yesterday and last night, she saw a tiny ooze coming from it, so we went to the local minor injuries unit this morning to get it checked.

It looks like there is an abscess there now, and she has been prescribed antibiotics to clear it up.  We have been advised to get it checked again in a couple of days to see how it is getting on.  It doesn't look like she will be able to go to school for a few more days since the site is very painful, and she's not up to walking or carrying a lot at the moment.  I shall email the teachers who sent her work last week and ask for more!

Friday, 23 January 2015

Getting out

The YFG was tentatively promised fish and chips on her liberation from hospital last Friday, but it has taken me a week to actually get them for her!  After a very quiet week at home, we ventured out this evening, partly for some exercise, and partly for the fish and chips.  There is a brilliant local fish shop where we can get a portion of lovely "chish and fips" for just £4, which is not bad.  I think she deserved the treat after all the pain she has been through these past two weeks - and that is all she has asked for.

So where to take a slightly weary teenager to get a decent walk but keep warm and not be under any pressure?  I thought I'd hedge my bets, and I took her to Tesco!  I know, I know - but it made sense really!  She could walk a decent distance, leaning on a trolley, in the warm, and we could get her fish and chips on the way home.  We had to buy her another pair of school trousers for next week's return to school as the current pair have an awkward waistband which would have rubbed against her wound and been very uncomfortable.  We were very lucky to find a relatively cheap pair, which I will have to just shorten a little over the weekend.  Apart from that, we just picked up a few odd items, but I made her walk the full length of most of the aisles!  I also had a lovely chat with an assistant in the clothing department whilst the YFG was trying on the trousers.  The walk worked and the YFG retired to bed early tonight, slightly weary.  I am more than a little concerned about how she will manage school again next week, but if the weather perks up a little, we will have to try a few more local walks around the estate this weekend.

My Dad and MB came over to see us this afternoon, which was a nice surprise.  We also had the EFG on Skype whilst they were here so they could have a quick chat with her too. At 84, Dad is not bad with technology - we had him playing Freeflow on my tablet when he was here at Christmas and he quite enjoyed it!

So, a weekend at home is on the cards.  No gym this weekend as I have told the folks that I have to prioritise the YFG's recovery, and no church service to prepare.  I am hoping to get another unit of Faith & Worship completed and lots of rest is also on the agenda.  Not too much of anything else at all.  Hope you all have a good weekend - and keep warm xxx

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Aldi voucher

Today's the day to grab a copy of the Mirror or the Daily Record for your "£5 off when you spend £40" voucher!

I don't think that I will be doing it this month as we are quite well stocked up with everything and had a delivery from Sainsbury's yesterday.

Hope it helps some people, though!  

Thanks to SusanM for the heads-up about it earlier in the week, too.  

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Coming around again

Mornings keep happening with reassuring regularity, don't they?!

The YFG is making good progress, although she has a big bruise around her tummy button where one of the wounds is. She's been having a lie in most mornings and then getting up and watching a little tv, before doing her school work.  The maths has been completed, the history is half way there, and the geography was on the table last night, looking at the impact of the growth of mobile phone technology on the population of China.....

I am definitely having another wobble about the job, which is a disappointment as I thought I had got into the swing of it.  I am still concentrating hard on being grateful for the opportunity but actually, some of the time, I can hear the FH telling me that life is too short to be bogged down like this, and that I do not "need" the money that badly.  Since I started the job in September, if I give notice before the same time in March, I have to lose two week's wages in respect of the time I was paid whilst I was being trained, according to the contract, so I will be sticking it out until March, unless they sack me first!  With the two week's notice I have to give, I could be out of it in ten weeks.  That gives me some comfort, knowing that if I don't get better at it, and get back into managing it, instead of dreading it, there are a limited number of days left that I have to do!  At the moment, I feel that it is affecting my health, as I find myself clenching my teeth a lot, and feeling jittery.....not good.

UJ will be here today, a comforting and solid presence in our lives. He's going to help me clean out the chooks this afternoon, since I need a helping hand to hold up the lid of one of the chook houses whilst I shovel the you-know-what!   He enjoys his afternoons sitting by the wood burner once he has done a little work in the shed, chopping the wood for the kindling for me - he has definitely earned a rest after being out there, working up a sweat over the saw each week as he has been doing.  I wouldn't be able to do it without chopping off a finger or two, I'm afraid, so I am glad of his help!

Well, off now to let out the chooks in the rain, and see if they are going to be in the mood to start laying some eggs again soon - the YFG had me making chocolate brownie for her the other night, so if that is going to be on her recuperation menu, I need more eggs!!

Monday, 19 January 2015

Frugal ways

Back on the frugal wagon, and we are having a bit of a "if we haven't got it, make it!" week, although we are also taking advantage of yet another "£10 off when you spend £50" Sainsbury's online voucher.  With a determination to stay very close to the £50 target, I have done an online shop which has topped us up in a lot of areas, and means that when the delivery arrives on Wednesday morning, we will have everything we need for quite some time.  I have included quite a few toiletries which we were running out of in order to hit the target figure.

The YFG has had a few pieces of scampi from the freezer with a cob of sweetcorn for her lunch, and then last night's leftovers made us a filling tea: mince mixture left over from spag bol has been turned into a tagliatelle topping for her, and I had mine with a jacket potato and some broccoli.  With the oven on for the baked potato, I cooked two so that I have another one to zap for an extra meal another day, and I made use of the heat to make a sponge cake for myself and some chocolate brownies for the YFG to nibble whilst she is doing all the school work that the teachers have sent her.

And just one little moan - why does the BBC have to show all the great shows at the same time?!  We have a brilliant evening's viewing on Sundays and then we have Silent Witness on Mondays and Tuesdays now - that's four hours of viewing to fit into three nights - I do get quite a bit of knitting done on those nights, I have to say :)

Back to work with a bang, and another kind of performance review today.  This learning curve goes up and down like a yo-yo, and what one director told me before Christmas has had an impact on some of my results, which another director has told me today that I need to be careful about.  I'll take it all on board and see what happens at the next review.  They are going to look at my figures again at the end of the week.....nothing like a bit of pressure to focus the mind.  It did make me have a quick mooch around the job websites whilst I had a cuppa, though.  There's nothing else as convenient, flexible and child-friendly available, so I will hang on in there.

Off to make the hot water bottles and get snuggled down for the night xx


Sh!  Just the tiniest sprinkle has arrived overnight and if I don't wake her up soon, the YFG won't even see it as the sun is out and the snow is beginning to disappear....

The EFG has had more in Aberdeen, and the slush has frozen, so she is slightly fearful for her walk into the university this morning.  Told her to be careful and get the bus!

Going to light the fire now, and then I will be getting ready to start work again...stay warm and safe, wherever you are xxx

Sunday, 18 January 2015

A day at home

Another day is heading towards its close, and we have had another day at home, with plenty of rest in the mix.  The YFG has been marathon-watching Merlin on Netflix, and I have been knitting, ironing and generally pottering around.  We have had a neighbour visit to see the YFG and the EFG has been on the phone, rather excitedly, tonight, saying that the snow is coming down in Aberdeen!

A quiet evening is on the cards, with Call the Midwife and Last Tango in Halifax to look forward to.  I shall be back to work tomorrow, and so we won't be late to bed tonight.  The YFG won't be going to school for a few days, but the teachers have sent her work home, so she can sit and do some of that as she feels able.

I have had to throw some food out of the fridge today and give the chooks a few extra treats, as we just weren't here to eat it last week!  I feel bad doing it, but at least the chooks ate it all and it didn't end up in the bin, so there's something positive to say.  Hopefully the more thrifty way of life can be brought back into focus this week!

Saturday, 17 January 2015


We had a long lie-in this morning and if it wasn't for feeding the chooks, it would have been longer! 

The YFG slept well last night and so did I.  She watched some tv and then had another nap until I woke her up again for a bacon sandwich at 12.30pm, and a friend from school came to see her for a couple of hours then till 3pm.  This was the friend who had had her own appendix out just before Christmas so she was able to offer some sympathy and advice too.  

I've had a chat with the EFG today as well - her friends are back and they are having a film night tonight so that they can watch Dirty Dancing, and catch up on all their news - they've been apart for a month so they must have gossip to share!

We watched some more tv, and then the YFG had another longer sleep on the sofa until about 8.30pm when I finally woke her up again for her supper.  She's in bed now, hopefully for the night.

It's been a slow kind of day, pottering - I've been reading, knitting, watching tv with her, looking after her, etc - and I have done a little on my next Faith & Worship assignment whilst she was sleeping this evening.  I foresee a very similar kind of day tomorrow as I won't be going to church: she's not well enough to be left for a couple of hours yet.  

Thanks for all your kind comments.  


I can hardly believe it but the YFG and I are both sleeping in our own beds tonight!  She has been discharged from the hospital this afternoon, and I have been staying with the FH's cousin in Peterborough to save me the long journeys back and forth to be with her.  It has been very kind of them to put me up for two nights, and they live just about 15 minutes from the hospital so it was very convenient too.

The YFG was admitted in the early hours of Wednesday morning after spending time waiting in A&E on Tuesday evening. Wednesday was spent having various tests done until at about 4pm, the chap decided to put her on the op list for that night.  She eventually went along to the theatre at 11pm and came back, wailing loudly, at 1am.  She was in a 4-bed bay but it was a jolly good job she had it to herself that night.  She was wobbly and woozy most of the day yesterday, but perked up today and we escaped at about 3.30pm!

The EFG has been a star this week, and just been a tower of strength and independence for me.  She was taken home by the FH's cousin on Wednesday night and came back really early on Thursday morning on the train, before heading off to Aberdeen on the train again just after lunch.  She's safely back in her halls there, and ready to start work again on Monday.  We shall miss her no end, again!

UJ also stepped into the breach and stayed over on Wednesday night and last night to be the chicken wrangler so that I didn't need to worry about coming home, and he was here with the EFG as we were a little bit worried about her being here alone with all the wild weather that was forecast.  Good job he was here as part of one of the chicken runs sustained some damage in the wind, and he was able to repair it for me today......he's another star!

Thanks for all the kind messages.  We intend to do as little as possible this weekend and just rest and recover. I am back to work on Monday but the YFG will be having a few more days at home - her teachers have sent work home so she has plenty to keep her occupied whilst she rests!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

What a day!

Yesterday was quite a whirlwind of a day and I finally got to bed at 4am this morning!  The YFG has been admitted to PCH in the early hours with suspected appendicitis, so we are waiting to hear whether they are confirming that diagnosis and whipping it out today.....I hope she's had more sleep than I have, but somehow I doubt it.  Hopefully, I will nip back later to update you xx

Monday, 12 January 2015

Family time

After coming home from the north of the county where I took the church service yesterday morning, we had some lunch and it was time to get the sitting room ship-shape for the afternoon: various family members came for a "Cheerio" tea for the EFG as it was her last weekend of the holiday at home. The FH's cousin and his family were here, as well as my sister and my uncle.  My dad and MB were due to be here too but Dad hurt his artificial hip on Friday and has had to take some rest days to get over the pain.....

We had several hours of chatting and sitting by the fire together!  Tea was enjoyed and several parcels of food were sent home with various people as well as there was rather too much - some of the visitors brought contributions as well!

We ended the evening watching "Last Tango in Halifax" which was very traumatic and ended in tears last night, and I had to do the ironing whilst I was watching it.  Just after it, there was a preview of the new series of "Call the Midwife" which starts again next Sunday at 8pm - now we have two hours of good programming on a Sunday evening - thank goodness!

And today?  Work to do for three hours, a poorly YFG tucked up in bed upstairs, the EFG gradually packing her bags, and my Faith & Worship tutor coming this afternoon to see how I am getting on. Have a good day - it sounds windy outside here this morning so I am just off to let the chooks out and hope they don't get blown away....

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Back to basics

I have to whisper that I am looking forward to next week, when life will get back to normal and I can resume my savings campaign!  The EFG will go back to Aberdeen on Thursday, and so my weekly costs here will go down again, and the round of visiting folk will also cease - we are hosting a "Cheerio" party for her here this afternoon, which has necessitated some extra purchases this week. Since her time at home has coincided with Christmas [as of course, it would] and lots of extra visitors and meals to provide, I have to admit that it has been slightly challenging on the purse strings!

My "new year" of frugality won't really begin until next weekend, and then it will be with some gusto!  I hope your January is panning out as you had hoped so far - I'd be interested to have some ideas of frugal plans - why are you frugal, for example, and what does it help you to achieve - for some of us, I know, it is about getting by, and for others it is a means of choosing how we spend our cash without waste, and for others, it can be tightly tied into the environment too.......

And after what I said yesterday about losing power - there was a power cut here in the morning for a couple of hours but luckily for us, we only heard about it from a neighbour because we were at gymnastics at the time!

Saturday, 10 January 2015


There is such a lot of wild and windy weather out there this week, and it is looking like there is more on the way.  

Makes me kind of glad that we have the woodburner and plenty of food in store - no problems here if we have a power cut, really - apart from the inability to connect with the web [oh, and there would be the small matter of not being able to work these days, too...] but as far as life is concerned, we have all we need to carry on for some time.

Waves breaking at Ardrossan
(image from,uk)

I feel for all those in Scotland who are without power, and those who will not have their power restored for some time - and there are also those who are bound to get it back and then lose it again when the next storm rushes in!  Not a good lookout at the moment in the Western Isles and Highlands.  We don't know whether Aberdeen has been affected much, but the EFG is keeping her fingers crossed that the weather has calmed down a tad before Thursday when she returns - she isn't looking forward to the Forth crossing on the rail bridge if there are still high winds!

And then there are the wild actions of some people in Paris this week.  Twenty people dead, this morning's news tells me, including the terrorist brothers and another man. They are still searching for a female in connection with all of this too.  Glennon Melton writes well on her website at Momastery about love and this is well worth a read.  I urge you to pop over there and have a look: this article was written about the 9/11 tragedy but it is just as relevant to Paris.  

Stay safe this weekend, wrap up warm and eat well!

Friday, 9 January 2015

A lesson from the past

I watched a programme last night about borstal and a social experiment led by a renowned criminologist where a group of young chaps who had a string of over 60 convictions between them were to live in a castle/prison in Northumberland for four was very interesting.  Remember that I watched it with the knowledge of one receiving regular letters from someone currently having a rest at HM's pleasure.

My stepson is actually having a rest - he is reading books as fast as the library system can procure them for him, he is pottering about in the workshops making things and helping others to learn woodworking skills, and he is listening to the radio quite a lot too.  A far cry from the 14 or 16 hour days he was putting in when he was at work and trying to earn a living seven days a week.  He is not "happy" in there - but he is not there to be happy, after all - he hates the food, the lack of choice and the rules and regulations - but he does appreciate why he is in there and he is behaving himself in order to make sure he gets out on time.

So the programme about the life in the borstal was intriguing - and I know that the FH would have loved it.  As someone who served a long apprenticeship under a firm-but-fair foreman, and then did his National Service in the RAF, he understood the benefits of discipline, running a tight "ship" and people doing as they were told.  He believed that this sort of thing helped to put the Great in Great Britain.

The thing that struck me about the lads on the programme was their attitude - they were so arrogant and cocky, aggressive and defensive all the time, one step away from a fight, it seemed.  Not the way to live - but I can see that if that is the way some young people are these days, it is no wonder at the way they interact with people and struggle to hold down a job, showing the absolute contempt for authority that they did.

I shall plan to watch the other programmes in the series over the next three weeks and see how it goes - three of the lads have walked out already so how many there will be left by the end is anyone's guess!

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

A glimpse

The EFG has gone to stay with her friend for a couple of nights: they were planning to go to the cinema today to see the new film about Stephen Hawking, and then tomorrow, I think some shopping was on the cards.  This has left the YFG and I feeling a little quiet again - it is a glimpse back into what life was like before the EFG came home!  She has been here for three weeks now, and we have got used to have her here again, but next Thursday, she will be northward bound again, and we will be getting used to the quiet again.

It isn't that she is a noisy person, but there is a different dynamic in the house when she is here - there is a certain amount of competition for my time and attention, and some one-up-man-ship between the two of them as well.  It makes life a challenge some days - but when I am not with them, they generally get on very well, and happily pootle off together on a walk or on the train somewhere.....that's life, it seems.  It has been wonderful to have her home and I shall be counting the weeks until she comes home again at Easter.  Once Easter is over, the end of the academic year in May is in sight and she is already keeping a lookout for a summer job - I just hope that it will be here and not in Aberdeen!

I have worked today, got a load of washing on the airers to dry, looked after the chooks, and had a wee gallivant out to meet my aunt and uncle for a cuppa and a chat in a Dunelm tea room half way between our homes.  It was a lovely treat and a good opportunity for a wee outing too.  They brought the girls a couple of presents from my cousin and some DVDs that she had borrowed, and I took them some magazines [decluttering, remember!] that I thought my aunt would enjoy browsing through, as well as some DVDs which I think my cousin's father-in-law may have lent to the FH.  If it wasn't him, I have no idea who they belong to, as I have already asked several others...

Spending?  Just a little on some veg in Tesco on the way home. It came to just over £4, but I had one of their price match coupons for £2.10 so I ended up only paying for half my shopping today which I was rather pleased about.  I have also got a voucher for £10 off when I spend £50 on a Sainsbury's online delivery, by next Wednesday, so I am considering having a delivery from them next week instead of having to go to the shop myself.

Tomorrow brings an ICT module exam for the YFG which carries a few marks towards her final grade, so she has been revising hard this week.  We are both going to stop at 9pm and watch Silent Witness tonight as we do enjoy that programme.  Thank goodness for the return of some decent things on the television - we are also looking forward to the return of Call the Midwife before too long!

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Storecupboard strategy

Longtime readers will know that I tend to shop to keep  my pantry full rather than to a pre-planned menu for the week.  This is handy when there has been a lack of forethought and there is "nothing" for supper!  That's what happened here last night...

Corned beef hash as a suggestion was not met with enthusiasm so I then moved on to a tuna pasta concoction which was greeted with considerably more positivity and so that was made for the girls.  Pasta from the storecupboard in the kitchen, a tin of tuna from the stores in the garage, and peas from the freezer.  

Just then the need for some kind of soupy mixture to bind it all together then?  No tins of cream of mushroom/chicken/celery soup - been ages since I bought any of those as no one had had any enthusiasm for those varieties lately.  The answer?  Two sachets of chicken noodle cup-a-soup, thickened with some cornflour and boiled in a pan.  Did the job so successfully that the YFG cleared her plate and the EFG had seconds!

And me? Not being able to eat pasta nor the soup, I concocted my own supper from some bottom of the fridge bacon, some broccoli that was almost past its best and half an onion. The risotto rice and the stock powder are permanent residents in the cupboard here and often help out when I can't think what else to make!

Not a penny spent yesterday and indeed, £3.50 found in my declutterings last night!

Monday, 5 January 2015

Calamity avoided

We had a slight mishap here last night when the EFG had been using my laptop....when I came here to try to publish a couple of comments that had appeared in my inbox, I couldn't get in!

The EFG had been onto her Google account and it had automatically logged me out - and for all the tea in China, I couldn't remember the password!  The thought of all these memories and posts being lost in the ether and not be able to access it any longer nearly brought me to tears.....

The YFG saved the day and managed to reclaim the password through a message to my phone - thank goodness the young people are so good with technology these days!  And we have the password safely written down on a notebook page now......

Sunday, 4 January 2015


There are bloggers everywhere choosing a word which encapsulates their hopes and dreams for the year ahead.  

Elaine at MFin3 has chosen Adventure, and Ilona has shared a lovely post over at Life After Money in which she has brought together lots of words which people have suggested.  Lots of inspiration there which could help if you are looking for a word for the year.

My word is the same as last year, and probably some of the year before that.  When I discovered the writings of Ann Voskamp, I found my word.  And it isn't a word for this week or this year, but I think it could be my word for life.  Her book, One Thousand Gifts, changed the way I thought.  I have the word engraved on a silver bracelet that I bought from her son's website, which he and his siblings use to fundraise for Compassion, and the bracelet is on my wrist all the time now.  It's there to remind me, to help me and to inspire me.

The word? "Eucharisteo" 

It comes from the Greek word "charis" which means "grace" - an undeserved gift.  The derivative "chara" comes from the same root and means "joy". And "eucharisteo" is usually translated as "giving thanks" so we have a trinity of holy meanings here.  For me, it's about giving thanks, recognising graces and finding the joy.  

It is the word which helps me to get through the days.

On the days when the boring job on the phone grinds me down, I recall that it is a way of earning money which is flexible, above minimum wage and I can do it at home - and I am thankful. 

On the day when I lost the FH, I was able to be thankful for the wonderful caring attitudes of the staff who looked after him in his final illness and then had time to spend with us as I wept.  I was grateful for the medical advances which had kept him going for so long after his transplant.  Most of all, I was grateful for our years together and all the time we shared.   I give thanks for our two amazing daughters and their love.

On the days when I worry about the future, I stop and think about the blessings I have, and give thanks.

On the days when I wonder how life will turn out, I give thanks for the way God has guided me in the past.

I think it is a good word for me right now!

Saturday, 3 January 2015

A free weekend

One of the last few days before the reality of the normal routine really kicks in again!

The YFG is off to Peterborough with her friend. They were planning to go last week during the holidays but the friend had to have her appendix out just days before Christmas and so she has needed time to recuperate.  They are letting the train take the strain today and will not have too much walking to do as the train station is just a short walk from the big shopping centre in Peterborough. The YFG has put some of her Christmas cash into savings already, and spent some, so she will be window shopping mostly today, I believe!

I'm considering a mooch to Cambridge with the EFG today. She seems to have a desperate urge to go somewhere, whereas I am content to hunker down and get stuff done at home.  I'm torn between stuff that needs to be done and wanting to keep her happy.  I have almost another two weeks with her at home before she goes back to Aberdeen on the 15th, and I will have limited time to do things specifically with her once every other routine commitment kicks in again, so if the weather bucks up this morning, we will be off later!

Tomorrow afternoon will be a gathering of aunt and uncles here for a cup of tea - UJ and his brother and brother's wife and daughter will be here with daughter's husband.  Follow that? Well done!  We haven't seen some of that gang for a while so it is a good chance to catch up and for them to see the EFG too.  The Boxing Day cousins of the FH will probably want to come over again before she goes back, and I know my dad will want to see her again too!  I think next weekend might be busy with visitors as well......and I have a service to take.....better get organised this week!

Yesterday I had a little extravagance and bought a new shredder. I know I said I was decluttering, and I am, but you can't get rid of mountains of confidential paperwork without a shredder!  We did have one and it stopped working ages ago, so the papers that need shredding have been building up...time to have a clear out of those. This shredder also niftily cross cuts the papers so that we end up with short choppy bits rather than long curls - much easier to deal with, I think, and I am pleased with the purchase - shredding will commence tomorrow, I think.

The decluttering slowed down a little on Thursday with only about 20 items identified, and yesterday there were only 2 - and one of them an accident!  I had a lovely Swinnerton's flowery serving dish which was pretty ancient and I loved it.  The EFG managed to knock it onto the kitchen floor and it broke into about 5 pieces, so that is one less item in the kitchen.  Eternally positive, the YFG immediately related it to the decluttering and said, "Well, that's one item for your list today!"  That wasn't quite how I was planning this operation......

Hoping you all have a great weekend - and thanks for your comments, and emails.  It is humbling to read how much some of you are inspired by my ramblings!  Thank you xxx

Friday, 2 January 2015


A personal email from a bishop is quite a good start to the day, even if she is on the other side of the world. I was at university with the Bishop of Waikato [New Zealand] - she is English although she is now down under.  

We took many of the same classes at the University of St Andrews, and even ended up with the same degree, but then our lives diverged and we are at quite different stages now. We were friends on Facebook until she decided not to use that platform any longer, and now we connect through emails, usually at Christmas, when we catch up on one another's news.  

It was a lovely way to start the day this morning, with a bishop's blessing to get me through the first day back to early starts and working again!

If you are back to work today, I hope it is a good day for you too xx

Thursday, 1 January 2015

First steps

We've had an interesting kind of day - a long lie in to begin with was a good start!  

UJ was here for a lovely turkey lunch; I put the turkey thigh joint in the slow cooker just before 1am and it was perfectly falling off the bone by 1pm - it probably didn't need quite that long but it was delicious. A £4.50 joint fed four of us very generously today and there is plenty left for the three of us tomorrow.  That sounds like good value to me.  

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UJ stayed until later in the evening, and helped out with the Christmas jigsaw - it is a very slow process, but we are plugging away at it.  The girls have been watching the EFG's boxset of Modern Family and reached the end tonight - what a relief!

(image from

I've been pottering about, chatting with a friend via text, tidying my desk up ready for the work to begin again tomorrow, and doing some more decluttering.  We have sorted out over 390 items already and I am looking forward to another run to the charity shops tomorrow afternoon when I have to take the YFG to an appointment.  

Thanks for all your comments and support this Christmas.

First day of the new year has been a good one - I feel ready for 2015!