managEAble, mEAndering, out and about, to do list

Monday is the new Friday…

…well for this week only as I have been at home today instead of Friday.

And what a gorgeous weekend.  We spent Saturday in Shrewsbury visiting my mother in law at her care home.  As usual we had a stop in Tarporley, Cheshire for lunch and walking along the main street I noticed the decorative writing on the outside of this old black and white frame house.  I love the words written under the window sill and thought perhaps this form of graphic art might prove quite popular with today’s fashion for writing on the inside walls of your house.

Writing on the wall

I have no idea what it says but here is a closer look – it was written in 1585

Window Sill Tarporley

After an early lunch at The Old Fire Station we drove on and arrived at the care home about 1.45pm only to find that my mum in law has taken to having a nap after lunch and doesn’t usually wake until 4pm – some power nap!  We had no choice but to go down into the town and have a look at the shops while she was in her deep slumber and return later.

I have always enjoyed shopping in Shrewsbury – it is a delightful town, full of independent shops and compared to my home town of Huddersfield there are a huge number of ‘fancy goods and gift’ shops to browse around.  However, after my seventh giftie shop some items were starting to get a bit repetitive and I did wonder who buys all this stuff, because although some of it is lovely it is also fashionable and will no doubt be out of fashion just as quickly.

Because we had plenty of time to kill we ventured into the Church of St Mary’s at the top of the town – inside is the most beautiful stained glass window  – like a colourful patchwork quilt, sadly this picture really does not do it justice.  It is one of those breath taking moments when you stand before it.

Stained Glass window

I worked last Friday on my day off – urgent business at work.  So today I decided to sort out one or two of those little tasks that I have been meaning to get around to.

  • I collected a letter from the sorting office in Holmfirth that required a signature and managed to run in and out to avoid any parking charges, saving 40p.
  • I rang Persil to find out if their Persil Original Non-Bio liquid was still available as Tesco, Sainsburys, Morrisons and Wilkinsons no longer stock it.    I was pleased that it is still available but only in Waitrose, Lloyds Pharmacy and by internet from Ocado.  I can see I will have to stock up on this as our nearest Waitrose is 30 miles away. Luckily the number was a freephone so cost nothing to ring.
  • I ordered 2 new filters at £1.20 for both our Russell Hobbs kettles (one at home, one at the cottage) which have had a good descaling inside.  Cost £5.39 including postage.
  • I returned my Library books on time whilst passing through the village.  Cost nil

Whilst I was out and about I called to see my newly retired brother who never knows what day it is now!  My purpose was to discuss Christmas…and presents in particular.  We decided last year that as a family we wanted to do something different about Christmas present buying.  With there being so many of us in our family now and growing it was taking quite a few shopping trips and a lot of ‘what on earth can I buy them’ moments.

We have agreed on a Secret Santa system where each person only buys one present worth £50 for one other member of the family.  Most of us are in couples so the cost will be £100 to us but that will be it.   Only the younger children up to 18  will be excluded and we will buy presents as usual for them but will probably join together to do this.  We will each produce a list of most wanted items as a guide for the purchaser.  I must say I am really looking forward to this new system and one of the great things is we will receive less stuff.

So all in all quite a productive day.

What are your plans to (if any) to reduce the Christmas Budget?


You may like to read about my September Challenge at Re-routed

being thrifty, managEAble, to do list, trEAsury

Just day to day stuff…

The sun streamed through our bedroom window this morning and it felt good to wake up to the warmth and light after so many miserable gray days, but… and isn’t there always a but, why is it still so cold outside?

On the 23rd we will be celebrating my sisters first wedding anniversary and I cannot believe it was a year ago that she got married nor that it was a gloriously sunny day.  I have the card all ready to go – I wanted a special one for her so chose it quite awhile ago.

Work was just as busy today preparing claims to submit to the Legal Aid Agency for payment – this side of our work will reduce very soon as Family and Divorce, Debt and Benefit advice are to be taken out of the Legal Aid budget and no longer available unless there is domestic or emotional abuse.  I am not sure how low wage earners will pay a solicitor for their divorce or contact issues, our firm is introducing a fixed fee which might help certain groups to be able to afford to have legal advice.

Has anyone been to Boots recently?  I went yesterday to use a No7 voucher for some face cream as well as buy a pot of Epsom Salts and some of the Flexitol Natural Heel Balm which is brilliant for cracked or dry heels.  I couldn’t help but notice that the shelves in the store are looking quite bare in places and there was a shortage of a number of products so I came away without any Epsom salts or the Heel Balm only the face cream.  I expect the recession is hitting the shops quite badly now Christmas is over but I hate having to make more than one trip to buy something especially when the assistants cannot tell me when new stock is expected.  On the good side I am getting quite good at saving money these days as I always remember to visit the Advantage Card machine first to see what other discounts or extra points are on offer.  Not only did I get £5 off my face cream but an extra 150 points were added to my Advantage card giving me a total of £28.55 to spend (this will certainly cover my Epsom Salts and Heel cream if they ever restock).  I even got another £5 off voucher.

Cream Sachets

Becoming economically minded has meant that I have made a big effort to use up as many toiletries as I can over the last few months, even those little free trial sachets of cream that are stuck inside magazines that I have collected and kept.  I have a sensitive skin and use un-perfumed creams out of choice but the sachets are useful for my neck and decolletage area so nothing is wasted in this household.  If I have a product I am not keen on I find a use for it somewhere, even old bubble bath is good for washing hair brushes and rollers.

When I arrived home from work tonight there was barely any time left to do any housework other than a quick tidy round in the kitchen and prepare the Leek and Potato soup with added Butter Beans for protein.

Leek and Potato Soup

Luckily there was no post today so no immediate paperwork to attend to.   After tea I flopped on the sofa and relaxed in front of the TV for an hour, working longer hours really takes it out of me but my job is very demanding at the moment and I hate working in a muddle.  I will even need to go in on my day off on Friday to do a Webinar training programme ready for the big Legal Aid changes on the 1st April – (someone needs to know what we are doing and which new forms to use and you can bet if it involves a government body it will be as complicated as they can make it)

It is now time for bed and a look at what I need to do tomorrow.  I am trying to limit my To Do list to 5 items each day – this way I keep focused and have an achievable list.

On my list is

  • another visit to Boots after work to spend my £5 off voucher on more face cream (might as well stock up on this).
  • check out prices of Dettox wipes and TCP in the pound shops and Wilkinsons.  I use the Dettox wipes at work to clean my desk, keyboard, phone and door handles every Monday to begin the week.  I like to have a clean and tidy workstation it has a calming effect on me.
  • put in a load of washing – black jeans and work wear from the cottage that has been hanging around too long.
  • take the orchid plant food to work and feed plant
  • ring my friend to see how she is this week

Tea will be –  Leek and Carrot pasties with Potatoes, Roast parsnips and peas.

Time for bed again have a good day tomorrow.

managEAble, sEAsons, to do list

Tis the season to be jolly…

christmas lights a

…Fa la la Fa la la Fa la la…

When our girls were younger we would jump into the car one evening just before Christmas and have a tour of the neighbourhood lights.  It became quite a tradition and we would secretly award a First, Second, and Highly Commended prize to the efforts of the unsuspecting contestants.  The girls thought it was such great fun and even now they have flown the nest we still tend to have that neighbourhood tour wherever we happen to be.  The picture above was captured in a little Shropshire town called Wem where we stay over at Christmas when visiting my mum in law.   I love this fun part of Christmas especially all the over the top displays you come across in peoples gardens, I would never have a giant blow up Santa or a flashing neon reindeer but I love the people who do.

I expect like me you have all been very busy this weekend trying to put ticks against those never ending Christmas lists.  If you haven’t please let me know your secret of how you can be so close to Christmas and not have an endless to do list!   Yesterday the lights finally went up outside after the first lot didn’t work and we had to return them.  We also bought the tree and delivered a few cards on the way home to save on postage.

Today I made the cake which is one of my favourite jobs as nothing beats that heavenly smell of the Christmas cake cooking all afternoon. The recipe I use is a virtually organic cake and the dried fruit is marinated in Brandy with the zest of an orange and lemon for 3 days before mixing the cake. The recipe suggest that you stir the fruit occasionally over the three days and add a little more Brandy if the fruit seems a little dry – I suspect sometimes we overdo the Brandy bit as we both tend to have a stir and add a tablespoon more each time we pass the bowl whether or not the fruit is seems a little dry!!

Christmas Cake

The cards are beginning to drop through the door thick and fast now – I received my first on the 1st and then the odd one or two over the last week and now suddenly we arrive home to a little pile on the doormat.

During this coming week it will be my younger daughters birthday on the 13th December and on the Sunday our family get together for my side of the family for the big present swap.  Each alternate year we spend Christmas with my family and in-between with our respective partners families.  This year my daughters go to their partners families for Christmas Day, my mum and sister to her new partners mums and we go to my mum in  laws Care Home. So we meet before Christmas to get together and swap presents then next year we will all be together again for Christmas Day.   We find this arrangement works quite well for us and we are perfectly synchronized!

So what do I need to do this coming week

  • Make a few special cards to post
  • Finalise the newsletters to enclose or email
  • Get ready for our family get together
  • It will also be a celebration of my daughters birthday as she was born on the 13th December so I need to fit in a birthday cake as well
  • Buy a few more presents
  • Begin wrapping the gifts as this can always take longer than I allow for
  • Buy present for daughters birthday
  • Get decorations down from the loft
  • Put up the greenery along the Banister rails

How are your plans going everyone?

fEAsible, getting things done, managEAble, taking stock, to do list

Much ado about nothing in particular…

“Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.”
–  William Shakespeare 

This is the weekend for me that feels like the close to the summer and after the holiday everyone prepares to go back to school and back to work – holidays over we look ahead to the next season and the time spent gathering in before the pre-Christmas frenzy begins.  How soon I wonder will we see Christmas cards displayed in the shops?

It has been a really hard week at work this week and I have had to work over for two nights leaving me both tired and behind with a few household jobs.  I am ready for a little rest now over the holiday – we will be leaving for Scotland and it will be nice to get away from the hustle and bustle for a few days.

Before we go I need to take stock of what tasks I have to do – my Master task list for August was virtually a roll over of the tasks that didn’t get done in July.  Sometimes it is those little errands that keep rolling over and I find my self analysing why.  Maybe I need to structure or write my lists in a different way.  I have been coming back to the idea of ‘Do one thing’ and in fact if I did just one task a day I would have done 365 by the end of the year.  But I know that in reality I do more than one task a day – there are plenty that are not written on my list and some that are there just in case I have some spare time which never seems to happen – hence the constant roll overs.

My list this week went like this

  • Card and present to buy and give to friend at work
  • Recharge camera battery
  • Write cheque for C******** (who helps occasionally in our Scottish garden) and put in post
  • Pay cheque into Mum in laws bank
  • Contact C****** about helping to remove the hedge at the cottage and arrange a date
  • Reply to my friends email update
  • Take mum in laws watch for repair
  • Post electrol roll form
  • Email electricity reading to Scottish Power
  • Look for something to buy with Tesco coupons that have double value until August 29th- (I have £28 – I can exchange £25 x 2 =£50 in any department but food).
  • Buy mascara from boots No 7
  • Buy Jason Thin to Thick hair styling spray from health food shop
  • Buy small hair mousse (for exceptional bad hair days!)
  • Write out a supplement chart to keep in kitchen to remind me to take my vitamins and probiotics.

Nothing too taxing there you might say – probably 30 minutes to an hour and I would have it all done – yes I would have agreed with this but read on… this is what actually happened…

How did I do?

   I bought the card and present after two days of searching after work for a suitable gift only to find that another of my colleagues is celebrating her 40th this weekend – so a quick dash across to Sainsbury’s tonight to choose another card and a few flowers.  Double trip was a bit time-consuming I could should have been more prepared.  Just as a note Clintons Cards have now got a rewards card scheme – buy 10 cards get one free – they punch your card with a hole each purchase – but what, I ask Clintons, if you are less than honest is to stop you punching your own hole on these cards??? (If you have seen them you will know what I mean)

   I will recharge the battery tonight – because I really cannot put off this very quick little task off any longer!

   I wrote and posted the cheque tonight after work but it really should have gone last week.  Every time I thought about it I didn’t have my cheque book with me or the amount to pay and it is something I could should have prepared the night before.

   Pay cheque into mum in law’s bank – I had only just paid one in last week when this one arrived in the post at the weekend so I did this on Tuesday after work only to get home and find that another one had arrived.  That one is still waiting but had they all come together it would save a bit of time as the queue is always out of the door with often only two people serving.

   Delegated – my helpful hubby arranged for the friend to help with the hedge so the tick is really his.

X   Reply to my friends email – this will require a good half an hour as I haven’t written for a while and I have heaps of news – so I keep putting it off.  I need to set aside some time one night after work or encourage her to join Facebook!

X   I have taken the watch to work with me everyday this week but it is one of those specialist shops that has very short opening hours and still closes one day a week. Have not managed to catch it open this week.

   Electrol Roll form posted – this was easy – sign the form – put in prepaid envelope – drop in box – if all life was so easy!

X   Email meter reading – this is always a job I procrastinate over mainly because we have two accounts – one for the cottage and one for home and I never know which one they want as they go by an account number and not the property. I must type out the account numbers and keep them handy in my Filofax.

Pending –  Tesco coupons – £50 is a nice sum of money but what do I need – Don’t they know I am trying to downsize.  We will be passing through a 24 hour Tesco in Scotland tomorrow night at about eleven o’clock – but who can make a decision at that time of night!   I will try to look online first if time allows.

X   Never got to Boots for the mascara or hair mousse – I probably have a coupon too for No7

X   I tried to buy the Jason hair styling spray – I went to the shop twice and it is still out of stock.  I will buy this in bulk next time and replace when I get down to the last one then it won’t be so urgent and I won’t have to make a special trip across town.

I have remembered my supplements each day but I do need a prompt on the kitchen cabinet door – but haven’t done the list yet

These are all just simple tasks – no major project items here – and yet it has taken all week to do only a few tasks and some of them required me to go back and forth like doing the job twice.

One of the questions I keep asking myself is…’do my lists reflect someone who is trying to live a simpler life’?… because to me my life seems to get increasingly busier and my lists longer.  I have to stand in endless queues, make more than one trip because of low stocks in the shops and spend more hours than I care to choosing birthday cards and presents for people who already have everything or like me are trying to downsize their stuff.  I would like more time to make my own cards and individual gifts but at the moment I seem to end up dashing to Sainsburys or Clintons for something very mediocre.

That is the end of my moan – I did say it was much ado about nothing and I am now going to forget all about my lists and tasks and jobs and go where the pace is much more relaxed for a few days and just stare at the sea.  Have a great weekend. let me know what your plans are it is always a pleasure to hear from you.