Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Plotting and Planning

So...what to do next...I've worked out our monthly outgoings in our house accounts. Not all expenses are able to be reduced, though some can slightly. Our food bill has come down drastically. We currently have critical illness cover for hubby, though I'm not sure that this is a good financial item as it only covers our mortgage payment and only for six months, and only after 6 weeks...Think these details are correct, so might try to scrape 6 months of mortgage payments into an emergency fund...better still would be to have 6 months of our total outgoings in an emergency fund.
It seems that when Brexit finally happens, as it surely will do now, the foods that will be delayed entering the country will be wine and processed ones mainly so as I'm not that bothered about either of these...(they certainly don't fit into my budgeting), as long as a healthy crop can be dragged in from the garden we should stave off starvation. I shouldn't joke about it, and I'm not, for surely there will be people hoarding food now to flog it to desperate souls should things get really messy at dreadfully inflated prices. Who knows what is around the corner. I am willing to be prepared, but I should never want to stash away more than we need in order to profit from others.
Where do the hours and minutes go to? I have so much flapping around in my head that I want/need to get done...but the reality is that on mornings when I'm working there is regular housework or the shopping to get, a dog to be walked, and then off I go. The evening is half over when I return for the evening meal...which depending on who gets home first is now prepared by either of us. The clearing away still falls to me though. Then very soon so it seems I'm ready to go up to bed. The couple of days a week where I don't work are filled with washing, baking and more thorough housework tasks. So where does that leave our paperwork...generally mostly undone and in a right mess is where. Today I have managed to make out one bill...yes, just the one, but I'm taking that as a positive. In fact I may try for one every day...this sitting down for hours 'till my eyes cross over is tiring, boring, and no good for my figure. Speaking of which, I'm back on track to whittle away some rather undesirable lbs...no membership required...it's just me, my Fitbit, daily weighing (I take the weeks average), and measurable goals along the way. I've reached the first which is a 3lb loss, the next will be at 7lbs, then 10lbs then 14lbs. It'll continue in this pattern right to my goal which is 30lbs off! The first goal of 3lb could not come soon enough, a new bread maker is now on it's way to our Cottage, the old one being totally unreliable and I'd had enough. At 7lbs off the treat is to get the car valeted...hopefully this will coincide with a family wedding!
Now is it just me or is anyone else struggling with using Blogger on their iPad? I cannot leave a comment on  anyone's post...well it looks as though I have, but no, nothing, zilch has been left...this has made me appear extremely quiet of late and I don't always realise that it has (or rather hasn't) happened. So sorry.
You see, once more the clock has raced the morning past. The weather is being a bit bleh to say the least so the single boiler suit that I flung on the line is dripping rain drops in a most unhelpful manner.
Heidi is snoozing on the kitchen floor...I'd rather like to join her, for last night, sleep was rather too elusive to be humorous in the slightest.
Blessings. J. x

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Another lengthy time between posts...what can I say...life...work...prioritising...hosting family...

Well I have indeed been tallying up our spending for the last month. It read quite interesting indeed. I had managed to niftily squirrel a little extra towards the humongous pit that is our mortgage debt. The wow...lets put the brakes on was definitely food spending. Though I did visit Booker and bought several things in bulk, and also treated Heidi to some tasty meals in the form of bulk buying of hearts, liver and marrowbone chunks. Boy does she love those marrowbone chunks. Another factor to report when looking at the eyewatering amount spent on food was that we were still housing our two lodgers, and feeding a variety of building helpers several times a week.

By the way our lodgers moved out on Good Friday...they are settling in nicely and we celebrated by hubby knocking out our under stairs cupboard...well I did say to him that it might be an idea...one day...in the future as the cupboard was not easy to get at, thanks to his chair placement, and was extremely damp. How surprised I was to come home from work the next evening to find said cupboard gone...flattened beyond redemption! Teach me to keep any ideas under my hat if I know I'll be working several evenings and he is likely to be bored at home alone!

Some of the headings for our spending were easy to put an estimate on, however food and some other areas can vary wildly. I have recently been reading about the Frugalwoods family who blog from their home in Vermont, and they say, in my opinion correctly, that to set a budget amount for things such as food, clothing, leisure and you will naturally spend up to the limit...so I am taking the stance that is aim to spend nothing. Obviously we aren't going to spend nothing in a month especially on food...but what we can do is eat what we have. We have a goodly supply of vittles in our newly arranged and wiped out pantry cupboard...which is actually an old wardrobe with some super duper hubby constructed shelving.

Clothing...we all need to wear it...'tis actually the law, and it would be mighty chilly without said attire...but as for following the vagaries of fashion...na ta for me...as mentioned earlier, I share with hubby a rather deep pit of a mortgage debt. It is destined to chain us to repaying it for the next 22 years...22 years and 4 whole months to be precise. However, with some judicious jiggling of some hard earned coins we could shave a little, or maybe a lot off the term and also diminish the amount of interest we end up paying.

The key to sticking to keeping spending under check seems to be having a goal...new dress for wedding, or wear a perfectly good dress bought from a sale rail that I've already worn to a wedding and a family birthday party...mortgage overpayment or not...takeaway because I'm working a Saturday evening or make sure there's a frozen pizza to pop in the Aga when I return. It all adds up. In fact it sometimes is the little itty bitty spending that can do the most damage for this is more easily overlooked. It was recently hubby's birthday...I drove him up to Exmoor for the day. We took a lovely picnic and all our drinks. We walked in amazing surroundings, drank in the beauty of nature and returned home having spent £3. £2 to park the car where we could use a toilet and eat our lunch, and a £1 donation when we looked around Oare Church...of Lorna Doone fame. We didn't buy any tat, but we brought home some lovely memories.

One area that I'm looking to cut costs is my hair. I was having my roots and highlights done every six weeks or so, plus a cut and blow-dry. I've been hating the badger stripe I get when a visit is due, though don't fancy growing it out completely. I'm naturally grey at the front, but not so much at the back. I'm giving not covering my roots, but having some blonde highlights done in a t-section a try.  For now I will still have it done at the salon, though I used to cut my hair myself for many many years. I do cut hubby's and the clippers have paid for themselves countless times over.

Diesel...what an expense that is...it does get absorbed into our business costs mainly though I am being judicious about planning journeys. Visit dump, daughter and get the shopping in one trip kind of thing.

Electricity...this is coming down now that our little darlings have flown the nest.

Insurances, life cover, council tax...just need paying and forgetting...our water bill is a constant as we are unable to have a meter installed.

Social and gifting including charity...this is a moveable mountain for sure...varying throughout the year...but birthdays and Christmas come around with amazing predictability. Note to self...be prepared...but also be prepared to curtail the spending. Money doesn't make the occasion, the person or the memories.

I am almost horrified to realise that this post has been sitting forlorn in it's draft form for more that one moon cycle! I really love this little space and must make some regular time to tend it.

Hopefully I will be back sooner rather than later.

Blessings, J. x

Friday, 29 March 2019

Just Being

I should love to tell you of all my achievements since last I wrote in this space...the truth is though that apart from daily living and working I haven't done much at all.
I've now quit my assessing job, but immediately so it seemed jumped at the chance of some extra hours at the care home. Will I never learn!
Life on the whole has been pretty good. I did manage to wax the beam on the bathroom ceiling,  making rather a mess of the ceiling paint due to the angles and having to rub with a rag. This will have to be rectified before I re-paint the ceiling. The men installed an extractor fan in our bathroom, and have separated off the spotlights from the main in your face light which now comes on with the extractor fan.
Youngest and her caveman are still here, though painting is being done at their house so hopefully within the next few weeks we shall see them move back home to theirs...finally!
This is what I believe I am waiting for, though I shall miss them I will love having our space back and the ability hopefully to get on with something when I'm home.
My baking mojo seems to have returned. Sponges of the chocolate and coffee and walnut varieties  have been lovingly prepared, baked then devoured by what I'm sure must have been at least a small plague of locusts.
Somehow I have landed up working tomorrow and Sunday, both days from 2-8:30pm. Not amazing on Mothering Sunday, but on the other hand it's weekend rate which is a little bit extra and everyone will be at the youngsters' house anyway. Freestanding taps don't come cheaply either!
Our fire is roaring away in a most comforting manner. The mist rolled in earlier this afternoon and my goodness did it become chilly with it. Hubby has been suffering for the past week with what I originally thought was a cold, however I now think he may have hay fever so have bought some appropriate medication. He's currently zonked out on our bed, having returned home twice throughout the day.
Heidi is beginning to show her age. She keeps wetting herself. Not as in a great puddle, but when she's asleep so it gets all over her and then she drips all over the place. She does have a couple of washable nappies, but even the largest size is rather tight on her ample frame. Bless her, she is currently snoring on the kitchen floor. Happy after a woodland walk earlier with Grand dog Bea.
I spent last weekend up with Sonshine. I went up with eldest and grandson whilst all the rest of the gang spent another weekend at the house of renovation! It made a nice change, it's just a shame it's such a long journey. Bless Henry, he gave us what for when we encountered delays between the M5 and M6! 
I have spent my evenings...well the small amount of evening afforded to leisure after work and eating, reading. I take myself off to bed rather early to read for a while before sleep. I can honestly say that I have not sat down to watch a single television programme in absolutely ages. But yes I have read, I've read about permaculture, of bygone days, classics, renovations, gardening. Strangely for me though I have not caught up on the blogs that I usually do, though I plan to have a mega catch up as a sort of treat shortly!
Oh, another thing I have been puzzling over is our household budget. Can we make any cuts. What should we spend more on, or at least more time on. It dawned on me whilst taking a weeks holiday at the beginning of the month that for a long time I was looking to see how much I could work. Something changed deep within me during that week and I now look at how much I need to work to achieve my goals. I had spent most of the week playing catchup with our business paperwork and ended up working a couple of hours on the Saturday and the Sunday afternoon to cover shortages at the care home.
A young Henry watched the six nations from his swing which is hooked to one of our living room beams when required...in fact the whole family watched the final weekend of rugby...all apart from me...it was my holiday, yet I was working. 
Well our tea is not magically going to prepare itself, though it's going to be a very lazy offering of battered fish fingers, tinned potatoes, which I shall fry, and some peas. Just right for a chilly Friday evening in the season called Spring which can never quite make it's mind up what to do weather wise.
Blessings, J. x

Friday, 22 February 2019

Plodding Along

Goodness where is this year going to in such a hurry
January...didn’t you used to linger
February...whoa...when I last looked you were so young
And now we are rapidly heading towards March
Much as I am longing for Spring 
Life does seem to be racing by at an alarming rate 
I am nearly finished with my assessing job
It will be bittersweet 
Some days it has been lovely to travel the county
However at others not so much
The same applies to the students!
I am hoping a week off will set me right
Give me a chance to get the cottage looking loved
The bathroom needs particular attention 
As in completely sorting out
It just doesn’t work for us at the moment
Wrong bath...wrong taps in middle of bath
Toilet in wrong position...tiles in weird places
Wrong colour paint...mould issue and no vent
Seriously not good!
Although at the moment we seem to be having some warm days
There is a cutting wind if you get out of the sun and nights are cold
I really wonder if Winter will leave us with a sting in it’s tail
Who knows...we shall just have to wait and see
A new moon and all could change
Sadly I haven’t had much time to bake lately
Don’t get me wrong...for I have cooked aplenty 
But not the leisurely bake
The what do we fancy
Maybe I’ll try that sort of baking
The tins full of treats, fresh from the Aga
The Mum I’m on my way
As soon as I mention something in particular 
Has just entered the oven
My life in the kitchen has been more
Oh my goodness the dishes
For without the dishwasher there is but one way
To clear the debris...not that I mind
It’s just been kind of hectic 
Working the two jobs still
And trying to maintain a home
Not for much longer though
Then there will be no excuse 
For cluttered counters
And a folder strewn table
I will leave you now
Or I know this will not get posted
Blessings J. x

Thursday, 31 January 2019

The Way Forward

So finally I have done it
I sent an email of resignation to my assessing boss last evening
I just can't do it all
Relief...the relief has been enormous
I was hanging on out of supposed obligation
Rather than wanting to do the job
Endless travelling
And no show learners
Take some sticking
So now I will just be doing my shifts at the care home
3 1/2 per week
Plus I am taking on providing some of the mandatory training
I will be busy enough
And a small boy has rather caught my eye of late
Henry time is definitely going to be on the agenda!
Play my cards right and I shall have 2 days off in the week
Though I still have our paperwork to contend with
But even so
No racing to get somewhere
I have purchased some glass tubs with lids
So I can freeze ahead meals
When youngest and her caveman
Move back to their house
Hubby is going to have to sort out the tea
At least three nights per week
Shock horror
So I figured the best thing to do
Would be cook ahead and freeze
Thaw out on the day required
Let hubby pop into Aga
And voila
He's cooked tea for us!!
Another day has passed
I am currently at work
There is snow lying and more forecast
All the school buses are stopping at 1pm
I am hoping to get home when I leave here at 7pm
Take care out there
Blessings J. x

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Long Johns At The Ready

Apparently it’s coming
The colder air 
I hope we’re ready for it
Here in Devon it isn’t always the temperature 
But the wind chill that seeps into our bones
My Mother used to always make sure
That vests were tucked into pants 
To keep body and soul together!
I guess she was right 
Last evening a small group of us
Carefully stepped up the garden path
And came to a halt by the largest apple tree
We made a very fine din indeed!
Toast soaked in cider was placed in the trees’ branches 
And some poured around it’s base
We sang and made merry for a short while
Before heading back inside
So today...goodness it’s going to be packed
Firstly a hasty visit to the hairdresser 
Then some training 
Then what remains of my working shift
Returning home to a wonderfully cooked tea by hubby
Actually he’s just popped back to our bedroom 
To ask what I am going to prepare for tea
So that he has the arduous task
Of placing it in the Aga!
Last week I managed to tumble out of hubby’s van
When he was using the car for a couple of days
I think my foot caught in the battery cover
And I made a very undignified trip to the ground
Landing on one knee
With my elbows nearly in a flower pot
I hobbled into work
And slowly it feels as though every bone and muscle
Was jarred
When did I get this old?!
It is my Saturday to work this weekend
But I intend for Sunday to be peaceful and restful 
I can live in hope
There is a jigsaw puzzle calling to me
I should really like to begin knitting something
But my fingers still feel sore and jarred
I hope the feeling improves soon
I feel as though Heidi is due some extra special woody walks
Ones I can find beautiful things to photograph 
And share with you
I’m not overly keen to share photos of Henry on here
He’s not mine to share!
And there’s only so many woodburner 

And fireplace photos you wish to see
Actually I could look at fireplace photos
Like forever!
These are old photos 
The first from RHS Rosemoor’s Glow event
The other I believe last Winters’ decor!
Blessings J. x

Monday, 14 January 2019

I Knew It Was A Mistake

Have you ever hesitated to get rid of something 
But then one day just gone and done it
I have
Almost without exception 
I have come to regret my action
The picture below is a copy of one I have had
For nearly 30 years
It was faded
The frame had broken 
I couldn’t think of where to hang it
So the other day it went in the woodburner 

As soon as it left my hand
I knew I had done wrong
But it was too late
So I searched online
And found a copy of the picture 
I intend to get a smaller copy
Which I can find room for
So hopefully all will be well again
I have this morning set up our new broadband
Not sure how much quicker it will be yet
Only time will tell
We had a weekend of jollity 
Friends came round for a meal on Saturday evening
I am still very tired
Henry is teething bless him
And we all know how cranky that can make babies 
Even our beautiful Henry!
As our weather is looking like it will be turning colder
I am attempting to bring in plenty of logs
Before trundling off to work this afternoon 
The wind picked up yesterday afternoon
And made some curious sounds through the cottage 
A welcome to Pam who left a comment on my last post 
The words on the banner are indeed my own!
I am glad that you like them
I hope they describe my home accurately 
People who visit say it is a very cosy place
Well as logs do not have legs
And bills do not pay themselves 
I need to finish up here for today
And continue with my allotted tasks
Blessings J. x