drEAming, general chit chat

drEAming…of Italy and a car

You may have noticed that I have been quiet the last few days – no I haven’t come down with anything – thankfully – although we had 3 people go home last Wednesday, I was pleased it was my last day and I could escape the germs.  I have been wiping desks, door handles and key boards each morning with my Dettol wipes just to try to keep them away.  Coughs and sneezes from work colleagues are harder to avoid!
No, the reason for my absence is that I have been a little overwhelmed lately  – well a lot overwhelmed actually.
I have a couple of large projects on the go at the moment and they are taking up all my spare time.  Once the time has been put in to deal with these the end results should be very enjoyable!
The first mammoth project is that I have to change my car before it is no longer useable.  It is sixteen years old and due an MOT by the end of this month and I already know it won’t pass so I decided that enough is enough and I need to buy a new one.  One that will last me another 16 years and hopefully one where the heater works during the journey to work not just as I drive into the car park, and where I can open or lock all the doors at once. 
After slogging around the showrooms, reading reviews and taking a test drive I have settled on one and placed an order – just got to arrange the insurance and then sit back and wait for delivery.  I am so sad though to be saying goodbye to my old faithfull friend – I just get so upset at the final parting.
The other project on the go is what I am referring to as the ‘Italian Job’
We are invited to my niece’s wedding in Italy (she is marrying an Italian) in April.  The ceremony and reception takes place in a small village in Northern Italy near Verona and Vicenza and not far from Venice.  We intend to make a small holiday of it and go for 9 days – three of which will be taken up getting to the wedding, enjoying the wedding day and then saying our goodbyes and moving on.  We will be meeting up with my two daughters for the wedding itself but then each of us are planning to go off in different directions. 
After the wedding OH and I have decided on a few days in Vicenza followed by a few days in Venice before flying home. 
We will need to book a hotel to stay in on landing at Venice Marco Polo then move round to the outskirts of Vicenza to another hotel closer to the wedding venue for 3 days.  Then another short move to an apartment for 3 nights in the centre of Vicenza to experience Italian life and finally moving to Venice for the remaining three days.  Four different hotels / apartments in all.  That’s a lot of packing and unpacking and a lot of booking.
The choosing of all these different places to stay has been a bit of a headache and so time-consuming – scrolling through endless internet pages of hotels in the region – what did we do before the internet?  Places that look OK on Booking.com can look quite different when viewing the travellers own photos on Tripadvisor.  I really hate it when you see a lovely hotel room on a website – stylish and clean and then discover that this is their only room of that decorative standard and on arrival you are shown to something quite different and very shabby in appearance (and I don’t mean in a chic way).
We have booked the flights, the hotel for the wedding and the train connection so far but still many bookings to go yet.  It is not a cheap way to take a holiday either – I can see why people opt for a package deal.
So I may be quiet for a few more days yet…I am still following and reading along though with everyone’s blogs and hopefully all will be back to normal again soon and blogging will resume.  If anyone has any tips for Italian travel they will be very welcome.

Back soon x

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budgeting, financial focusing, trEAsury

trEAsury…a good start

Snowdrops

Birthday Card

We are now on day 8 of the new year and up to yesterday all we had bought during the week was milk and a bunch of flowers and box of chocolates for a birthday gift.  The card I made having a really good time with some tiny flower stamps I had bought a while ago but never used.
Total cost for first 7 days £11.   January is quite a heavy month for birthdays  – I have seven to buy for.
Yesterday we had to go to the supermarket for a few bits for my lunches and some fresh fruit and vegetables.  I was very organised and arrived with my menu plan and list in hand feeling confident that I was going to spend within my budget of £50.
After the first two aisles I came across a number of our usual grocery items on offer but not on the list such as coffee. 
Dilemma.
In the end it seemed right to take advantage and stock up –  otherwise it will be a while before the offers come round again.
  • The very large Lurpack was down to £6.00 – we decant this into a butter dish which I quite like doing anyway – more elegant on the breakfast table than a tub – and a tub this size is not at all pretty – but it does last us for ages.
  • The seeded flat breads which are like Pitta breads are great for filling with salads for my lunch and these had been marked down to 80p for six.
  • The instant Lavazza which is normally extortionate price of £4.50 (but hubby’s favourite) was down to £3 a tin so I splashed out and bought 3 which should last us until the offer comes round again.
  • I also bought a couple of cartons of Napolina Pasata at 60p carton and a good pantry staple for making lasagne, chickpea bake or adding to any winter warming casserole.
  • We needed water filters and we were in luck this week they were reduced – I can only afford them when they are on offer but I do like filtered water – since I had the high levels of radiation a few years back it has left me with a very heightened sense of taste and smell like you get when you are pregnant.  They were reduced from £21 to £14 for six and we make them last 9 months so about £1.55 a month, which is well worth it for me.
So in the end we spent £72  – £31 on the offers.
Over the weekend I have been looking for new ways to maximise any rewards points, offers and freebies.  Reward points work well for me and the Nectar card at Sainsbury’s is the one I use most.  I haven’t really taken much notice of the online account before – but I ventured on there to order a new card as mine must be more than 20 years old and a bit worn out.  Yes I hate to say it but this little bit of plastic is heading for the landfill!
Whilst having a browses around I found I could get 200 points on my next shop and all I had to do was click to load the offer straight on to my card.
Brilliant.
So I have now bookmarked the login on my sidebar for easy access and this is one account I shall keep checking into more frequently.
I then logged onto the Boots Advantage card site and found the same – not only have I £34 in points to spend but you can load any personalised offers straight to your card.  Why didn’t I know this before?  I wonder what else I am missing.
To boost the coffers over the January period I have a children’s outfit to return to M&S for a refund of £18 and my brother owes me £10 – he will just need a nudge about this.
As you can tell I will be trying to spend as little as possible other than food during January.  I even managed to avoid the magazines whilst in Sainsbury’s – I could see them out of the corner of my eye beckoning me with promises of losing 10lbs in 2 days or was it 2lbs in ten days or making me happy, less stressed, better dressed – none of these things would be difficult but I have heard it all before in last years magazines that I bought  – the ones that cost me over £100  – and did they make a difference – nope – none that I can detect.  I am still the same old me!
I have plenty of clothes for work and my new boots and old winter coats are still good. 
If I need anything it would be a plain black top, preferably a fine knit jumper, that will go with a few patterned skirts that I have and will give me another three outfit options to wear for work.  I bought the skirts ages ago but have never found a suitable top to wear with them – but there must be one out there and it seems a bit wasteful to have the skirts hanging there doing nothing.
Note to self – buy clothes in outfits then I am not stuck with oddments that don’t go with one another.
Back soon x

 

 

drEAming, general chit chat

drEAming…looking back on our non-plastic kitchen

Did I mention that when we were Art students in the early seventies we were big on saving the planet – the generation that came a while after us during the Thatcher years seemed to completely ignore the topic and it became a spend, spend, spend world and consumerism was born in a big way.
One of the ways we tried to ‘save the planet’ was that we had an almost fully non-plastic kitchen.  With all the recent discussion in the news of plastic waste I was reminded of our efforts back then and that it is not actually that hard to achieve it just takes a bit of adjustment.
We carefully selected our kitchen contents and only bought items of glass, wood, enamel, metal,  china or pot.  Looking back it is incredible that we managed a whole kitchen by today’s standards as most people have Tupperware, or plastic washing up bowls and formica counter tops not to mention all the groceries we buy and store in the kitchen that come packaged in plastics.
We lived in rented accommodation back then –  a tiny 3 bedroom terraced house in Cheltenham just off the high street behind the Co-op on Grosvenor Terrace.  Ours was the blue house – they were all painted a different colour.  The living room was so small it didn’t even accommodate a 3 piece suite.  The dining table was squashed in here in the corner as there was no dining room nor a dining kitchen.
The kitchen was in fact more like an old scullery down a passage at the back of the house which opened up in to a bit of a dismal yard with no rear access but at least we could hang a washing line out there.  The windows in the kitchen were the original painted metal frames and the floor was made of those red clay tiles.  The whole house was cold at times but even more so in the kitchen – there was no heating at all in any of the rooms and all we could afford then was a two bar electric fire for the living room.  We just shivered in the other rooms and dived into bed quickly!
The bathroom was quite colourful a yellow toilet, pink basin and white bath – no doubt whatever the landlord could find going cheap at the time!
The only items in the kitchen, which was about 8′ x 6′, was an old gas cooker, a white pottery sink in the corner and the previous tenants had left a small wooden dresser on the back wall.  There were no kitchen units or wall cupboards built-in or otherwise.
Being a handy kind of man OH set to and made a kitchen unit to fit next to the gas cooker from some MDF and old packing cases that we found  – as you can imagine trying to cook when you have no horizontal surface to put anything on is near impossible.   The unit didn’t have anything posh like doors it looked more like a bookcase with a work top on it – you would call it open shelving these days and you would be thought of as extremely modern.  In those days you were thought of as a poor student!  The work top was a huge slab of dark grey slate – about 3″ thick and 3′ long with a round hole in one end.  We found it on some waste land and somehow using that old technique of rollers Egyptian style managed to roll it home and then called on friends to help lift it on top of the frame – whether any other resident that came after us ever got it out again would be another story!  It was a brilliant place for putting down hot pans though!
We painted the dresser grey – it scrubbed up quite well.  We also acquired a fridge at this point – our first ever, second or third hand of course.  The door seal on the fridge and the wire shelving coated in plastic was one of the few things that had plastic and unavoidable.
We used enamel buckets and basins and a wire metal dish drainer.  We had a dish mop and dish brush made of real bristle and wood – which you can still buy in some hardware stores.  Our cooking utensils were wooden or metal – no plastic handles allowed.
For food storage we used the old-fashioned glass jars with ground stoppers and glass basins with a saucer on top to keep food and left overs safe and fresh in the fridge.
We had no Tupperware or plastic bowls.  We only bought foods that were free from plastic wrappings, our vegetables were packed in paper bags and the cheese and butter wrapped in greaseproof paper.  Sauces came in jars and most food items were free of any tamper proof shrink wrapped cellophane or plastic display trays.  We used Stardrops for washing up and cleaning as this came in a glass bottle as did the milk.
The waste bin was one of those old style pails with a lid made of enamel. In fact we generated so little waste our old tin dustbin in the yard was rarely full of any rubbish – which is just as well as we had to carry it through the house to the front doorstep on bin day.
With all the discussions recently in the news about China and our plastic waste it is no bad thing that we should review our use of plastics especially the single use of plastics for packaging.  Remembering our kitchen all those years ago and how some of the values we held then have fallen by the wayside a bit over the years I am mindful now in the light of the current plastics awareness that is sweeping the country that I must make an effort to reject plastic once again and challenge myself to having a non- plastic kitchen.
Of course it would be wrong to get rid of anything plastic by throwing it away better we hang on to it now for as long as possible and when we have to renew look for an alternative material, but we can avoid such things as squeezy sauce bottles opting for the glass ones instead or buying vegetables that are loose not prepackaged.  Every small change will eventually make a difference.  I possibly won’t be going back to a 3″ thick slate work top though!!

 

being thrifty, budgeting, financial focusing, trEAsury

tEAsury…reflecting on last year’s budget

The Budget – the breakdown – the facts – the truth – the satisfaction and the panic!
Last year my Focus word was ECONOMISE to reflect a change in our circumstances and a need to tighten our belts.
I have one of those all singing all dancing software programs on my computer called Microsoft Money (no longer available).  You just enter each receipt using the appropriate bank account if you have more than one and assign a category.  Once the information is in you can then produce any number of reports that track how much you have spent and even where you spent it.  The program allows you to customise the data to produce reports and spreadsheets split into weeks, months or years and I am able to compare this year to last year or the previous ten years if I wanted.
So I have entered all my receipts for 2017, balanced all the bank statements and run some comparison reports with last year and some in-depth reports (these are helpful when you see a frighteningly large total and want to know what the heck you spent so much on!

 

Looking over my spending report we did manage to economise in a few areas but not all and in some cases we have been running to stand still because of inflation.  There are some bills you just cannot reduce such as the Council tax which for our area was £73 more this year than 2016 and we live in a fairly modest house.
I will summarise some of the savings and failures of the general household budget.  I won’t be including the decorating and maintenance costs as we all know these are expensive and all I can say is that we have tried to buy wisely and keep within our means.
So how did we do –

General household bills

We reduced both our gas and electricity bills and also the house insurance by carefully swapping deals and suppliers and using less – a saving of £322
Our water is now metered and remains fairly constant if I am careful of our use such as always washing full loads and using the quicker washes.  At least it has not increased.
The TV license increased by £1 – just as well it is a small increase as there is very little on the box sometimes.

Cards and Gifts

I was also surprised that we saved on cards and gifts – family gifts by £100 and friends by £76 – this is mainly due to careful buying and not because of any reduction in the number of friends or family we have.

Clothes, Accessories and Footwear

We have seen a marked reduction here – I spent £336 on clothes an average of £28 month which is half what I spent the previous year but then we did have the wedding that summer and I was the bride’s mother.  OH did even better and only spent £110 over the year.  I don’t think this is too bad considering I need clothes for work.  Most of my clothes came from Sainsbury’s – they have a large clothing section and have a 25% off quite frequently.  I have noticed though that some clothing that would have been £16 or £18 is now hitting the £20 mark.
I spent less on footwear than other years too and some of the casual shoes I bought came from Sainsbury’s but my new winter boots were well over £100 –  I bought the same ones as I had last year because they fit well (I do have to wear good footwear that is well padded, very low or no heel and a thick sole as I have a problem with my feet and have to wear orthotics if they don’t have the right support and comfort built-in which tend to be in the dearer makes such as Gabor, Ecco and Sketchers).  I also had to invest in my new gardening boots which were £30 so this took the total up to £289, which sounds a lot to me for shoes but my footwear spend was balanced out by OH buying no new shoes at all!

Housekeeping

On the housekeeping side our grocery, cleaning and some toiletries costs came in at £63 a week – this was a disappointing figure and is not what I had hoped for I was looking for a figure around £50 and this is one area where I feel that even after all the bargain hunting and taking advantage of only buying whilst a product is on offer we have been running to stand still with the large price hikes we have been seeing.
I did take a packed lunch to work most days which reduced the spending in this area but will have increased the total spend on food a bit as obviously the extra food has to come from somewhere.
We did reduce our food waste a lot – I stopped buying those pots of salad like cloeslaw as they seemed to be out of date before the two of us could finish them and I have been adhering to a menu plan each week most of the time.
I continue to buy organic where I can so I know my shop will already be more expensive than most people – but Sainsbury’s do a good own brand organic range which are reasonably priced and I do get reward point coupons for them quite often.

Fuel, transport, car maintenance, insurance, MOT, car parking contract and anything car related

This must be one of the most expensive outlays – it is frightening how much it costs to get about and then to park when you get there.  All I can say is we always shop around for insurance deals, buy cheaper supermarket fuel (never on the motorway) and use those money off / reward point coupons if we are lucky enough to get some.  Other than getting rid of the cars or not going anywhere I am not sure what saving we can make.  My little runaround is already 18 years old and I am not sure what is holding it together but it is fine to get me to work, carry the weekly shopping and take me to places locally.  For anything else we use my hubby’s bigger car.

Books and Magazines

I really believed I had cut down on magazines and thought I was only buying an occassional one when we went to the cottage (we have no TV or internet there so I tend to read) however, the budget report shows a different story and I managed to buy no less than £107 worth of magazines and those magazine books during the year.  Curious to find out more I looked at the in-depth report and this is how that figure is broken down –
  • Psychologies x 2
  • Top Sante x 2
  • Natural Health x 1
  • Gardeners World – May edition for the 2 for 1 entry to gardens card
  • Daphnes Diary x 2
  • Country Living – turning a hobby into a business (book magazine)
  • Gardeners World Plants for Shade (book magazine)
  • Womans Weekly Garden
  • We Love Craft – I don’t even remember this will have to have a search of my bookcase!
  • Build  and Home Build (for our cottage renovations)
  • Country Homes and Ideal Homes pack ( a supermarket offer whilst at the cottage)
  • Healthy Food Guide (another book magazine)
  • What the Doctors Don’t Tell You x 2
  • Country Homes Christmas
  • Christmas House Beautiful
You can see where my interests lie and I obviously need to avoid the magazine aisle!
On the positive side I have acquired Brownie points using the Library to take books out to read rather than buying any.
In actual fact I have so much to read here in the house anyway that I could probably get away with never buying or borrowing a book again for many months.  It is just habit that I will wander into a bookstore and especially The Works where it is cheaper to buy a book than a magazine.  Stationery shops also have this effect on enticing me in to spend.

Christmas

Christmas has become a lot cheaper for us since we started the Not so Secret Santa within the extended family.  The budget is £50 per person so a £100 spend for OH and I and we spend a further £25 to £30 on the two relatives children and a bit more on our granddaughter.  The Secret Santa stocking within the immediate family is £20 each (£40 for the two of us) and another £10 for the one at my work.  We always give our two daughters and their partners a sizeable cheque for Christmas rather than any gifts they might not want.
The few gifts for our friends we were able to find a 3 for 2 offer.
A grand total of around £300 which does not include the two gifts of money to our daughters.
The bits and pieces such as the cards and wrap came to £20 and is an area where I could make more of my own.
Our real four-foot Christmas tree with roots was a bargain and cost only £17 with the coupon and we can plant it in our Scottish garden later this month.   We decided to put some old lights on the tree when the more recent ones failed instead of rushing out to buy new ones.
The postage for non local cards and one parcel amounted to £30 which was a bit of a shock – not sure how I can get around this expense other than hiring a pigeon to deliver!  I sent them all 2nd class but it was the 4 Australian ones that hiked the price up considerably.  I do have half a book of stamps left though for sending birthday cards.
Perhaps I will try buying a book of stamps throughout the year to spread the cost.
So there you have it  – not brilliant but not a disaster – there is room for a challenge in this years budget somewhere.  I don’t profess to be a frugal blog by any means although I do like to read them and take on any useful ideas.  My aim is to set and stick to a reasonable money-saving budget so that we can increase the amount we save ready for retirement and to free up some of our income for the decorating.   It goes without saying that I am on a mission to reduce our stuff and limit the stuff coming in to our house so not buying things we don’t really need is very important and in itself should save us money.
In my next post I will set out some of my ideas for my new budget!
Back soon x

 

crafts, crEAting

crEAting…nothing goes to waste

I am sure everyone is left with a huge pile of Christmas cards after Christmas is over and the decorations are down.  I have plans for all mine.
For any that I particularly like or think are useful I turn them into gift tags for next year.  If they are very large cards I will cut them into suitable sizes depending on the design.

 

Then I cut across the corners like a luggage label and punch a hole.

For smaller tags I might only use part of a card in this case the upper part…

and shape the corners and punch a hole the same.

You can experiment with any part of a card – it doesn’t have to be the whole of the picture.

This particular card would not be useful again because of the date 2017 – but I had other ideas.

I will use this part as a tag on my tray of homemade chocolates that I make at Christmas…

and the numbers will be useful for the future and can be stuck onto a 2nd or 7th birthday card.

Sometimes the design and proportions of a card do not make good tags as they are a little too large but I crop them down to a suitable place…

and paste it onto an envelope and use these as money envelopes when I am giving cash or a cheque instead of a gift.  In our family when we give cards for birthdays we never stick the envelope closed so that we can then re-use it so I always have a good  stock of colours and sizes and pasting the card onto the envelope covers up the previous name on the front.

This card had a beautiful laser cut pattern on the front so I carefully detached this for future use.

Then cropped down the rest of the card to make another money envelope.
One or two cards I will keep for inspiration when I am making my own cards from lino cuts.

And then there are always one or two that I hang on to – if someone has sent me a handmade card I like to keep them (not all of them but a few).  I also like to keep one or two that I absolutely love and often they are the very small but simple cards that I pick out for my mantel piece display which I tend to colour co-ordinate to be more effective.   This way some of my favourite cards are re-used – it may sound a bit of an odd habit – but it works for me.   I mark these with a red sticker on the back so I know they are older ones and keep them stored in a box for next year should I want to reuse them. 

mantelpiece

So of the cards I received this year I have made some money cards,

  a selection of gift tags…
and I will find something to make with this for next year…

Of the remaining I will be selecting some to use for an advent calendar next year and the rest of them I will just cut the front part off and these will go to a local charity who will repurpose them as new cards for next Christmas and the insides will go to the recycle bin in Sainsbury’s. ( Or like Sue over at the Cottage at the End of the Lane she uses hers for her shopping lists).

This way none of the cards end up in my waste bin and most of the usable parts of a card are reused in some way.

 

fEAsible, my goals, taking stock

fEAsible…stock taking

Just as a shop closes for stock taking I have booked this week off work and locked my front door with the intention of spending some uninterrupted time reviewing and assessing my situation and options.  That sounds quite grand – but really I just feel like I need to make improvements in my life and find the time to do the things I really love to do and spend less time on the daily grind.

The stock take…

Recently I have thought long and hard about where my focus should lie this year – we have quite a few projects on the go at the moment – we are still moving along slowly with the redecorating and outdoor maintenance of our Yorkshire home whilst trying to sort out the cottage in Scotland we bought for our retirement;  which our plans for this have been put on hold ever since the flood in 2014 (crikey was it that long ago!).  So with 2 houses, 2 gardens and a demanding job time is in short supply.  We seem to spend a lot of time talking about our plans and then something happens and we don’t get to implement them so end up virtually at a standstill.
In and amongst the ‘projects’ I still strive to create a simplified lifestyle and limit both my possessions and spending.  I will avoid calling it a minimalist lifestyle but over the last year I have reduced certain areas of my home down to ‘minimal’ requirements – anyone following along will have seen the posts about my new airing cupboard and linen cupboard which I am extremely pleased with – every time I open the door on these cupboards I have an enormous feeling of satisfaction and this is the blueprint for how I would like the rest of the house to look – everything has a place but there is also a feeling of space – of having ‘just enough’ and no excess or clutter.  I have also found that by getting rid of the excess I now have more room to keep those items I once kept stored away in the loft or the back of a cupboard in places where I can see them so as the Kondo phrase goes they ‘spark joy’ in me. So this is certainly something I want to continue throughout the house as we get to redecorate each room.
Finding time is one of my biggest problems.  In an attempt to understand why I am always short of time, rushing from one thing to another, never having time to make plans and trying to fit too much into one day I have noticed recently how many of the habits I have acquired over the years are tending to work against me and so I decided it really is time for a change.  A change of habits.  With this in mind I have been reading a number of books on change for ideas on how I can break old habits no longer serving me and make new ones.  But ones that will last.   I know this is the time many people will be making new year resolutions but I have fallen foul of doing this in the past and found that my good intentions have lasted for all of the first month and then as life takes hold again I lapse.  This too it seems has become yet another bad habit.
I mentioned recently two books I was quite taken with –
‘Small move, big change’ by Caroline I. Arnold and Hell Week by Erik Bertrand Larssen
Each has different views and different methods.
I also like the book L’art de Simplicite where the author talks about rituals in everyday life.
Other inspiration has come from a couple of bloggers with You Tube videos – At Home with Nicki and Pick up Limes with Sadia Badiei
I quite like the way that Nicki makes every area of her home beautiful – perhaps not my taste exactly, certainly not my level of spending and everything in her home seems pretty transient which does not sit well with me but there are aspects that I can relate to.  Sadia is a nutritionist and minimalist and again her change into becoming a morning person in small steps appealed to me.

So to the point –

with all this in mind my focus word this year is not a word – this maybe breaks all the rules – but I am not worried about that – my word is actually a phrase –

THE POWER OF SMALL

From everything I have read the one key idea that keeps repeating and resonating with me is just this – start small.  In this way you don’t set yourself up for failure and when one small change is mastered you are one step closer to your goal.

My aims for the coming year –

So my aim is to start this year on a new journey and  create a new map by making small changes – perhaps introduce one small change each week – it might be to eat an extra piece of fruit, going to bed 15 minutes earlier or having a quick tidy up each evening – these are just examples but each change will be with the intention of a larger end goal such as eating healthier non processed foods, having more sleep and waking up refreshed or keeping the house ‘visitor ready’ as Sybil says in her new years resolution – and I think this is an excellent concept.
Alongside this I will be completing one small task each day – it will quite probably be something on my list or around the house that has been waiting for ages, waiting for a time when I can get to it.  I had to laugh at Nine to Five’s recent post about her piece of chalk – this is just what I mean and a good analogy.  My whole house and life on a bad day can represent that piece of chalk.
Some of the tasks on my list have been there most of last year – they are actually projects and that is why they remain in ‘waiting’ mode as they always seem to big to attempt – so I will need to break them down into smaller 5 minute tasks to make a start.  Other stuff hanging around is actually waiting for a decision – I am not good at decisions so this will be a big challenge for me.
By doing just one small thing each day I will have completed 365 tasks over the year.
The ‘smallness’ also comes into play in other ways in that I want to achieve a few targets such as – a small capsule wardrobe, have a smaller  number of possessions, live comfortably within a smaller budget so we can save more for retirement,  buying a smaller amount of things – only things we really need, contribute back to society starting in a small way – I want to have an abundantly rich life but not in terms of things and possessions, rather friendships and experiences.
The changes I make will be many (I hope) and will involve all areas of my personal and home life.
I have a whole week free to get myself started, I will start by taking photographic evidence of my home and life as it is now and this will give me a very visual comparison at the end of the year.  Month by month I intend to review what I have done and how I am doing – so I hope you will read along and offer suggestions from time to time.
Well those are my plans for the year – I have read one or two interesting posts by other bloggers who have declared their intentions for the year – how are yours going?
drEAming, general chit chat

drEAming…of a happy New Year

 

Goodbye to 2017 already and hello 2018.
I feel like the year has whizzed by and although I haven’t done half of what I intended to do a lot has happened over the twelve months – the good thing about keeping a blog is that the year is well documented.  It was quite enlightening for me to look back at all that I have achieved.
And now I am looking forward – I particularly love this moment – the fresh start feeling that a new year brings.
The world is quiet outside my window this morning – the new year celebrations and fireworks over – calm at last has descended.  It would be nice to think that everywhere was closed today – a day off for everyone like it used to be… but sadly not;  there are still many shopping opportunities in Meadowhall and I presume every shopping mall up and down the country – but that is not for me, not today – today I am going to savour the quiet and just be still with my thoughts.
This is just a few highlights of last year –
January – we started the year with the reinstatement of the stream bank at the cottage.  It all looked a bit bleak but by October the grasses and wild flowers had begun to grow through the black mesh so that once again it now looks like a natural banking.      

 

Autumn Homekeeping
February – was mostly spent in the home having a major declutter, evaluating and reorganising cupboards.

 

March – was our yearly trip to see the village pantomime that my sister and BIL take part in – such a wonderful community spirit.

 

April – we were back in our cottage garden – taming the jungle and uncovering more of the stones around the little pond like an archeological dig.

 

Birdhouse

In the summer months we built a birdhouse…

 

Courgette

 planted a Courgette…

 

and enjoyed our tiny garden here in Yorkshire.

 

We visited a number of Open Gardens for inspiration…

 

played on the beach…

 

and celebrated a 3rd birthday at the Zoo

 

As Autumn arrived we completed the decorating of the mezzanine bedroom…

 

and drove down to Birmingham to watch our SIL compete as one of seven finalists in the Anchor Care Homes Chef of the Year.

 

October – we had a trip down memory lane as we passed through the historic village of West Linton on our way to Edinburgh

 

November – as the cooler weather takes hold I spent more time in the kitchen baking and trying out new recipes…

 

and of course making a few gifts for the ‘Crisis’ craft fair at church.

 

December – saw us collecting together and scanning a lifetime of photographs to make my mum a special family album photo book

 

Christmas Selfie

and celebrating with the family at our Not so Secret Santa present swap…

 

just enough time for making Lemon Curd for the girls…

 

and my Christmas ‘wreath’ for the door although it was not a wreath and I didn’t hang it on the door!

 

and finally a visit to the Living Advent in Saltaire Village.

 

All in all a good year – of course there was a fair share of ups and downs, trials and tribulations – but interspersed with many positive moments.
I know many bloggers now will be choosing a focus word for the year and I am looking forward to reading about these.  Over the last month I have been thinking long and hard of what I might like to accomplish in 2018 and unless I suddenly change my mind I have now settled on a focus for this year and all will be revealed soon.
Have a lovely Bank Holiday…back soon x