Thursday 31 December 2015

That's it, a fresh new year about to start

Hello. Oh boy have I started something now. The walking for fitness thing has really struck a chord, and 32 people have said they will join me in walking 1000 miles in one year. Cycling is allowed as well, if you like. That's chuffin amazing. I have put all the names on the sidebar of those taking part, I will make a separate page to record our progress. If you all tell me your totals at the end of every month I will add them to the page next to your name. Are you ready for off, you start tomorrow. 
I missed my three mile walk last night, it was raining, so I did two walks today. This morning and tonight. That takes my total for December to 75. Don't worry, you will soon catch up. 
I have been walking past a house that is undergoing renovation work, and I spotted some bricks among the pile of rubble on the front lawn. No one lives there so I wasn't able to ask if I could have any bricks until I saw someone working on it this morning. YAY, I managed to salvage 60 bricks. There are some more if I want to dig them out from under the soil, I'll think about that. I've made a start on removing some of the wooden pallets from around my raised beds, but it's a bit windy and cold at the moment to do much work outside. I also need a lot more more bricks to replace the wood, I'll keep my eyes open.

Well it's that time of the year again, New Years Eve, the last day of the year. S'pose this is the time to look back and work out if it could have been any better. And look forward to see if the next one could be made any better. I always keep my calendars to skim over, as a reminder of what has happened. 2015 was pretty good for me. I had a new car, I built my summerhouse, holidays in Derbyshire, Devon and Norfolk, days out walking alone or with my buddies, days out with Rocky, camping with Rocky, and filming for the BBC to be broadcast in March.

I haven't been able to get out as much as I would like, that's because of my commitment to my animals. Rocky has been here for two years. I offered him a home which was accepted, and I knew I would have to make compromises, but the joy I have had from him makes it worthwhile. He is getting old now, and is not in the best of health. He doesn't like to be away from me, he misses me when he goes to Barry for a day, he misses me when Janet comes in to look after him. When I come back it's like I have been gone for ever, when in fact it's only a few hours. He is beside himself with happiness to see me, so I feel I can't leave him too often. Today he has had a bath, he's not had one since September. The heating is on to make sure he is dry before going outside. Tomorrow we are going to Nottingham to visit relatives, so I think it's best that he smells clean in someone else's house. I was going to take a photo of him in the bath, but forgot all about it in my haste to get him washed, rinsed, and towel dried. He is a good boy, standing still while I do it.

So what about next year. No resolutions, just to be happy, and keep busy. Be grateful that I have a brilliant life, grateful that I have nice friends, real and internet friends, grateful that I can afford food and a roof over my head, a nice car, and my pets, and I'm eternally grateful that I have good health. I like to live with an attitude of gratitude, I have so much to be thankful for.

I hope you all have a very Happy New Year, and that 2016 is the best ever year for all of us. 

Thank you for keep coming back and reading, I very much appreciate your lovely comments and emails.
Catch you soon. Toodle pip

Wednesday 30 December 2015

Are you ready for the off?

Hello Bloggerettes. I've been thinking about this 1000 mile challenge and I think we ought to open it up to anyone who wants to walk, run, cycle, swim, skateboard, scoot, treadmill, ski, snowboard, ice skating, roller skating, surf, stroll, bimble, and cover the 1000 miles in whatever way they choose. The important thing is to get people doing physical activity, rather than sitting around on their bum.

Here are the rules of the challenge.
No motorized assistance, wheels are allowed but no petrol/electric motors. You must propel yourself.
You can mix any of the activities listed, do whatever suits you, but keep moving.
Count up your own miles and keep a record. No embroidering the truth, no cheating, you only let yourself down if you tell porkies.
You can count normal day to day activity in this, or set time aside for it. If you do a desk job, walk in your lunch break, or walk to and from work.
You can do as little or as much as you like in a day or a week. If you have a four hour session and cover ten miles, you could take the following day off. If you get a bit behind and take too many days off you will need to work harder to catch up. You might want to keep chipping away at it a bit at a time, or you might like to walk for several days in one go.
The official start date is Jan 1st, mine was Dec 1st. If you are not sure you want to do this give it a month and see how you feel. I hope no one will drop out
We all cheer each other on. If you are struggling tell us, it's a team effort.
Everyone will send an update in a comment at the end of every month, with a total covered so far. I will record this on here.
Anyone missing a whole month with nothing to report will have to go back to the beginning and start again on the 1st of the following month. It's in your own interests to keep trying, a little bit is better than nothing.

If you think this is a game, it isn't, it's all about looking after your body. No one can do it for you, you are in charge, you decide. It might take a few weeks before you feel the benefits, but don't be disheartened, it will take a while. This is not a quick fix, there will be no immediate weight loss, you need to look at your diet if you want to drop a few pounds. You will not suddenly be able to run a marathon. If you are not normally active it's a lifestyle change which needs to be gradually worked on, and incorporated ideally into your daily or weekly activities. Good luck everyone, and keep focused on that 1000 miles.

A quick catchup. I did the yellow sticker shop last night, got a good haul of veg, salad, dairy, and bread. The new fridge freezer is great, plenty of room for my bargains. Today I went to town, bank to take out some dosh, stock up on pet food. I see that Ultima dry cat food is on offer in Wilko, the cats will be pleased, I had run out.

Rubbish day today weatherwise, dull, dark, drizzly, and very windy. I had to retrieve my plastic and cardboard recycling from across the street, the wind had blown the wheelie bin over. At least we haven't had any floods to contend with, I feel very sorry for those people in Yorkshire and Lancashire, and along the west and south coast. The nearest floods to us are 30 miles away in Selby. Such terrible pictures in the newspapers.

Thanks for popping in. Catch up soon. Toodle pip

Tuesday 29 December 2015

1000 miles or bust

Hi everyone. I have done my 3 miles early today, Here are the Christmas garden ornaments I usually pass in the dark. It's going to be pretty gloomy when everyone takes theirs down for another year. There will be just the street lamps to help me find my way. Mind you, I do it on automatic pilot now, I sometimes reverse it for a change. If I wasn't walking so fast I could do a bit of litter picking along the way, ha ha. 
I'm really chuffed that a few people are ready to take on this walking challenge. There are seven of us up to now. Frugal in the Valley, John Wooldridge, Lisa in Miami, Linda Kennedy, Mrs LH, Hilogene Oltman (a maybe but I'm sure she won't duck out now), and me. As you know I have already started so I will be a month ahead of those who start on the 1st of January. You could start at any time, even delay it until February, but I feel there is no time like the present for getting on with it.

Those taking part need to be able to count up the miles they are walking, either as they do it, or a previously checked route, or after they have been for a walk. There are various ways of doing this, but I am not familiar with the electronic gadgets, so I can't help you there. You might have a pedometer, or a fitbit, or some other programme on your phone. I use a web site called Bike Hike. On the screen you get two maps, the OS one on the right will zoom in to street level. You need to hit the 'toggle map' button to make it bigger, then put in your start place and it will find it. Plot your route out with your mouse, either before or after you have walked. It will add up the distance.

The challenge doesn't specify what type of walking counts, it can be every bit of walking you do during a normal day. If you are a postie person you will soon rack up the miles. If you have a pedometer you can check how much you are doing.

The walks I have been doing up to now are over a route I have already checked, it is the same every day. My aim is to walk as fast as I can. The quicker I do it, the harder my muscles work, and the fitter I become, hopefully. At a brisk pace most people walk at 3mph. My three miles takes me 50 minutes. Walking on tarmac means I don't need to concentrate too much on where I am putting my feet and I can think about my breathing. I wear old walking boots, they are comfortable. Choose your footwear wisely, real walking boots, or trainers. Don't want to injure your feet or twist your ankle.

You might not want to follow the same routine every day, there are many different ways of doing this. You could get out into the countryside and walk across fields a couple of days a week. You could take a whole week off work and walk for seven days, this would condense it into a shorter period of time. If you get the bus to work could you walk instead if it is a couple of miles. If not every day, maybe two or three times a week. You might want to do a one our dog walk every day if you have an energetic dog.

If you think of adding the miles like adding coins to a jar, it's very similar. You might want to save £1000 to pay for next Christmas, drop any spare coins in, or step out of the door with your boots on and clock up a few miles. Don't worry about leaving your comfortable arm chair and going outside in the winter. You will be cold when you first start out, but your body temperature will rise with all the movement going on, especially if you stride along and swing your arms.

To do this for a whole year you need to be enjoying it to keep up your motivation. It goes without saying that the more you walk the better you will feel. If you have any underlying illnesses or medical problems I would advise you to consult your doctor to ask if it could aggravate any problems. Experiment with different types of walking, if you are not enjoying walking up and down hills try flat walking. If you don't like tarmac try walking around a recreation ground on the grass.

Try these for motivation

Country Walking Challenge

Cheryl Strayed's 1000 mile hike

Walking with the wounded, 1000 miles

Kevin's Facebook page for his 2015, 1000 miles

A Facebook page for the 2016 1000 miles

Walking with a donkey

Another 1000 mile challenge 

That's it. I've got a hungry dog waiting and I'm hungry too, so I'd better get us some nosh.
Thanks for popping in. Catch up soon. Toodle pip

Sunday 27 December 2015

Making flowers

Hello. I made a mistake yesterday and published the video with no words. In the short time it was live eight people viewed it, apologies if you wondered what was going on. So, what's it all about? I thought I would try and make a tutorial on film rather than just pictures. With no one to hold the camera and no fancy equipment,  I set it up in a block of polystyrene balancing on a plastic box and a tin, secured together with sellotape to stop it falling over.

The first attempt was not good, the position of my hands was too high so some of the details were lost because they were out of shot. The second attempt is much better, even though there are some shadows due to the lighting I put behind me. Nevertheless, it's not bad, and I hope I have made it easy to understand.

If you have some spare time on your hands perhaps you might like to try making the flower embellishments. This is just the basics, you could adapt them to fit in with your other craft work. You could make leaves, and bundle them together to make bunches of flowers. You could make the stems longer and cover them with green wool or ribbon. You could add multiple flowers to one stem. Use your imagination to think of new ideas for them.

Thanks for popping in. There are four of us on the Walk 1000 miles challenge, anyone else going to join us?

Catch up soon. Toodle pip.

PS, Just to let you know I added a video to the post 'From one singleton to another', on December 24th. You might like to go back to it and have a look. It's a programme about a doctor who goes to live with a family who need help changing their lifestye and diets. It's a bit of an eye opener and well worth a look. 

Going for a long walk, not all in one go.

Hello. I am waiting for a video to upload on yoootooob and it's going to take about three hours. In the meantime I will jot a few words down here. Setting the scene, I am snacking on crackers and soft cheese, Rocky is waiting for his dinner, and Bugsy cat is scratching in the litter box and is about to leave a deposit, charming, and I am sipping the last drop of Christmas wine. 
This morning I was invited to a friends house for coffee and Christmas cake. We sat in her very posh living room, it is very beautiful, and had a natter. Rocky came too, and we were joined first by her black puss Bertie, and then her new grey kitten. She is up to nine cats now, not her fault, hubby wanted the kitten, it is lovely though. 
This is a picture of my Christmas dinner. As you can see, I don't do traditional food, a non cook salad is fine by me. Tasty blue cheese and plenty of green leaves. Fab.
I had an email saying the applications for Shed of the Year 2016 are now open, so I have been to the web site and put in my details. It accepted the application and then it said we need two or more photo's, so I followed the link and added them. Nothing happened for a minute or two then I got a funny message on the screen so I'm not sure if the photo's have arrived. I will check later. I looked at some of the other photo's and to be honest I don't think my Bespoke Summerhouse has got a chance, some of them are very elaborate. We shall see.

A couple of bills have come through the post recently. My electricity bill for the period 26th September to November 27th is £23.40. I don't know why they have sent this as it only covers two months and they had already emailed me to say the next bill would be arriving early January which would have covered three months. I also can't understand why they have given me £12 in credit. I have paid it anyway. There should have been a bill for the gas as well but that hasn't arrived. Confusing. They have sent me a statement saying my electricity costs for this year are £157.93, which is about right, and they estimate that I will be spending £163.86 next year.

The water bill has also arrived from Anglian Water. It covers half a year from 17th June to 11th December. Most of it is standing charges which is a pain, no way to get out of that. The water I have used is £7.30 and the sewerage charge to remove the dirty water costs £4.40. Total bill is £32.55. Oh well, at least it's £3 less than the last bill.

Howz my power walking going? An update. I have been doing a few three mile walks, it takes 50 minutes instead of the 35 for a two mile walk. I'm up to 60 miles and if I do three miles each night to the end of the month it will make it 75 miles on the 31st. I'm chuffed with that. I'm going to have a go at the challenge of walking 1000 miles in one year with Country Walking magazine. My finish date will be 30th November 2016, come back and see if I manage it. I think it's doable. I actually look forward to getting up off my bum and walking around the village at night. 365 days at 3 miles a day is 1095 miles. I wouldn't need to do it every night when I start adding my longer walks into it. It's a bit like saving money, except it's saving miles. The figure of 1000 seems a bit daunting, but if you look at the web site, lots of people are doing it.

Right, off to make my dinner. Surprise surprise, steamed veg tonight, ha ha. 122 minutes left to upload the video. Thanks for popping in. Toodle pip

Friday 25 December 2015

The Queen speaks

Hello and a Merry Christmas to everyone. It's a dull day outside, but Tightwad Towers is a cozy home full of love. We don't care about the rain, we have everything we want, nice beds to sleep in, and good food for our bellies. I have spoken to family on the phone, and a visit is fixed up for the New Year. That will be nice.

I am relaxing today, listening to the radio, finding interesting stuff on yoootooob, eating, glass of wine,  reading, and generally chilling. I shall be out later for my fast walk, now done 54 miles this month. Yippeeeeee.

I'll leave you with this Christmas message. Thank you for popping in. Catch up soon. Toodle pip

Thursday 24 December 2015

From one singleton to another

Scroll down for an update to this post.

Hello and Good Morning. It's chucking it down with rain here in North Lincolnshire, at the moment. I've had a question or two from Devon Lass, thank you for that, it gives me something to write about, ha ha.

Could you say what an average day of meals is for you please. Do you not eat sweets, chocolate or puddings at all? I know you eat rice pudding, what about bread? thanks I plan to copy you if that's ok, I live alone, and don't eat a balanced diet now the children have left home. I can't be bothered to cook for one. Thank you.

Cooking for one is much simpler than preparing food for a family. Stating the obvious, you can eat whatever you like whenever you like, and in the quantities that you think is right for you. Though beware, the temptation to stuff ones face when no one is looking is ever present, therefore some restraint is essential to maintain a healthy body. I can only talk about my diet from the point of view that I do not have any food intolerances and I am not allergic to anything. I am no expert on nutrition, and I do not endorse any weight loss diets. 

DL, it's easy to get into the mindset of convenience food, thinking that it's too time consuming to cook for one, but really it's not that difficult. It's also easy to stick with the same old same old, day after day, not good. You will often hear me say I can't be bothered to cook, so what I do is prepare a meal that requires no cooking, or get one of my home made veg stews or curries out of the freezer and zap it in the microwave. I don't use my oven at all, not sure if it even works. I use the hob gas rings, the grill, and the microwave. 

To start simple easy cooking I suggest you forget about all the traditional meals you were brought up on, the meat and two veg, the breakfast fry ups, the fish and chips, the burger or sausage and chips. By all means eat them, but only once in a while. All the other days you need to make up your own new recipes. I hesitate to say the word recipes, because I don't follow any written down recipes, my meals are made up of whatever I have in. 

You need to tap into your creativity, with only yourself to think about you can eat whatever you like. Chuck your recipe books out, invent, invent, invent. 

So, back to the questions, one at a time. 

What is an average day of meals. 
I start the day with a mug of coffee, I sit and relax with it for 20 minutes. My breakfast follows. I never skip breakfast because I know I will begin to feel wobbly in an hour. At the moment I am having half a bowl of bran flakes, and I make a topping in the mini chopper with seeds, nuts, porridge oats, and dried fruit. If I have any fresh fruit I will put that on top as well. I have some rice milk bought for 20p so I am using this at the moment. Normally I would use soya milk. Sometimes I will make hot porridge in a pan on the hob, if I fancy it, with maybe a banana, or a few tinned peach slices on top. 

If I begin to feel hungry about 11 or 11.30 I will have a top up breakfast, or an early lunch. A top up might be a banana with yogurt, or a piece of toast, or a couple of cream crackers with soft cheese. 

Lunch is anytime between 11.30 and 1pm, depending how hungry I am. I always listen to my stomach to tell me when I need food, never stick to rigid meal times.  

What do I have for lunch. It varies day to day, what I fancy eating and what I think I ought to eat to get the right nutritional balance. Simple lunch, beans or spaghetti, and scrambled egg on toast. Sometimes just scrambled egg. I always buy seeded or wholemeal bread, don't like white, don't bother with bread rolls, always a thick sliced loaf. If I have salad in I will have a plate of whatever salad ingredients I have. Green leaves, tomatoes, mushrooms, cucumber, spring onions, pickled onions, tinned salad beans, cheese, two boiled eggs, a piece of shop bought Value quiche, anything, just chuck it on, no cooking required. Sometimes I will have a portion of home made veg stew from the freezer, zap it in the microwave. A potato in the microwave with a topping of your choice is easy and takes 5 minutes. 

Dinner happens around 5 - 6 pm. I eat a lot of steamed vegetables, which are cooked in a pan with one of those baskety things in it. One pan, everything goes in, cut up hard root veg and put it at the bottom with the sprouts, and softer veg at the top. It only takes five minutes, very easy cooking. If I have any mayo, or grated cheese, I will add this on top. I might make veg gravy in a mug, but only very occasionally if I fancy it. I often eat just veg  for dinner, but sometimes I will add something grilled, frozen Quorn or a veggie burger, just to give it a bit of variety. I only buy those things when they are on offer. 

One meal I like is mushrooms and an onion cooked in oil in a pan, then two eggs added and scrambled. When I make a veggie stew I will add pasta or couscous or rice, maybe a tin of tomatoes or baked beans, or chick peas. I also add any fruit I want to use up. You can put anything in a stew, the possibilities are endless. 

After dinner I am usually stuffed. It is a good feeling because I know it will soon pass because there is no stodge in it. I don't wrap food in pastry to make pies, don't make pasties, or pizza, or quiche, don't smother my food in packet sauce mixes. It is not necessary to mess around with food, roasting, basting, baking, simmering for hours. For a single person like me it is a quick in and a quick out of the kitchen. I know some people will disagree with me, they like messing about in the kitchen, but for the purposes of this post, the questions came from DL, a single lady. 

Next question. Do I not eat sweets, chocolate, or puddings at all? I eat sweets very very rarely. When I see them I sometimes fancy them, but they scream out to me SUGAR NO NO NO, POISON. I might look at the ingredients on the back of the packet, then put them back, yuk. The only time I might indulge is when I am on a walk or a long car journey, I'll have a few in my pocket, usually mints to keep my mouth fresh. I do sometimes eat chocolate, but I can go a long time without it, 3 - 4 months. Then I have a treat because it tastes nice. I don't have a pudding after a meal, I don't need one because I am too full. I don't make custard. Having a pudding after a meal is not necessary, people do it because it's a tradition. Yes, you have noted that I do eat rice pudding. I sometimes fancy half a tin at night, an hour before I go to bed. I have a couple of tins of peach slices in my cupboard, I might have some with my cereal, or with yogurt as a snack. Not too often though because it's full of sugar. So, no puddings after a meal here. 

Next question. What about bread. I buy seeded or wholemeal, usually a loaf. I don't buy fancy bread unless it is reduce on a yellow sticker. I don't buy white bread. I make sandwiches, cheese and salad. I make toast. How much do I eat, not much at all. Maybe two slices a day. Last night I had toast with blue cheese on it, I was hungry after my 3 mile walk. I occasionally buy a pack of butter, but I limit it to 3 or 4 times a year. Some days I eat no bread at all. A loaf will last 8 or 9 days. 

You didn't ask about drinks, but I will mention it. I have one mug of coffee in the morning, I don't drink tea at all. I might have a second mug after a lunch of beans on toast, because it just finishes it off nicely, and I sometimes have a coffee at Crafty Club. During the day I drink diluted fruit juice, hot or cold. Sometimes from a carton or sometimes cordial from a bottle. It has sugar in it so I use sparingly just to give the water a slightly fruity taste. I occasionally like a mug of hot chocolate at night, maybe twice a week. My alcohol intake is minimal. I buy a bottle of wine every 3 - 4 weeks, make it last 4 days, and a 4pack of cider every 6 weeks. 

If I go out anywhere in the daytime and I know I will be hungry, I take food with me. A sandwich, boiled eggs, drink in a bottle.   

Phew, have I covered it all, ha ha. Feel like I have run a marathon. DL, as a single person there are a lot of corners you can cut when it comes to food preparation. Experiment, time yourself in and out of the kitchen. I hope I have given you some ideas. 

After reading all of your comments, I have decided to add this video, as it might be helpful to some people. The BBC has made three programmes with Doctor Rangan who has been staying with three families to try and help them sort out their unhealthy life styles. I urge anyone who is trying to lose weight to watch these programmes. 

Thanks very much for popping in. Merry Christmas to one and all. I'll be back tomorrow, talking to myself probably, ha ha. Toodle pip.

Wednesday 23 December 2015

If you've fallen off the spending wagon, now get back on

Hello. Thanks for all your comments on yesterdays post. It's nice to see we are singing from the same song sheet when it comes to spending at Christmas, and we don't get sucked into the mayhem all around us. Have your families around for Christmas, visit the relatives, but don't throw any food away. Use it up the day after, or the day after that, or freeze it for future use, but don't chuck it. I'm sure you are all clued up to using up leftovers. 
Pam has said in a comment that she will be looking to save a bit of money on her food shopping in the New Year. She is planning a year of buying as little as possible,  and her spending will be roughly based on the way I shop. I hope you do well with that Pam, so here is a reminder of how I shop. 
I go once every 2 to 3 weeks to the big Tesco, timed to arrive about 7.30pm for the yellow stickers. I also like to time it if possible to use the money off coupons I get in the post. £3 off a £20 shop. The value of coupons you get will depend on how much you normally spend. 
About once a week, sometimes I stretch it to 8 or 9 days, I go to town. I visit several shops, the discount stores where I know I will get the best prices for what I need. I look out for the special offers, but only buy if I need it, not just because it has a bit knocked off the price. If I find something that has been reduced by quite a lot I will stock up on it because I know I will use it. 
In town I will park my car in the free for 2 hours car park and walk to the places I want to visit. There are some shops I go to every time, Home bargains, B & M, Poundland, and there are some I pop into to check for any offers. I mainly buy pet food, coffee, sugar, Coffee Mate, bleach, wash up liquid,  because it's cheaper than the supermarkets.  
Here is a run down of my dry cupboards. I keep everything tidy so I can see at a glance what I have. Imperative to know this before you go shopping. I price things up as I put them away so I know how much I should be paying next time I buy it. Tins, jars, bottles, packets of dried fruit and nuts. Rice, pasta, couscous, spices. 
These are a few purchases from the Cash and Carry. I know not everyone has one of these, but just to let you know how I actively search out a bargain or two. Mayo, tartar, and sweetcorn relish, all 20p each. Linseed 30p, I put these in the mini chopper with nuts and seeds to go on my bran flakes. The Special K was 50p, when this is gone, it's gone. That's the thing about the Cash and Carry, they only get so much in. It's usually out of date, sometimes by a few months, or occasionally only a few days.
I have been drinking Nescafe for years, a long long time, but recently I have discovered Carte Noire, and I like it, but it's more expensive. So what I do is mix it 50/50. Still tastes good, and it stretches it a bit further. You can do that with a lot of things, mix the cheaper version with a more expensive one. Say you have a big family and you want to warm up some rice pudding and one member doesn't like the cheap Value stuff. Open a tin of Ambrosia as well and mix the two together. Same with baked beans.

Other shops I look for bargains are, Poundstretcher, they reduce out of date stuff  but you have to search for it. Wilko, they are generally expensive for what I want, but they sometimes have an offer on cat food. Farmfoods, I skip through there, scanning the shelves for prices and buy if I spot a bargain.

I shop in Aldi but only get a few things there if it's a week when I am not going to Tesco. I buy bran flakes, nuts and dried fruit, yogurt, veg, cheese, pet food, cider 4 pack. I don't use Lidl as it's up the other end of town. Sometimes I visit the Asian shop when I want spices.

I don't take a shopping list with me, it's all in my head. If I find I have forgotten something I manage without it, I don't make another trip to get it. I keep an open mind when shopping, price is the first thing I think of when choosing what to buy, not what I fancy eating. If it is cheap, I fancy it. I will buy supermarket own Value labels and ignore the more expensive branded labels. I can walk by a shelf full of delicious looking puddings, cakes, and other fancies, and go for the real food which is going to fill me up rather than just put pounds on my hips.

Not everyone will have time to shop as I do, but you can still save a bit of money by being more selective in what you buy. Ditch the junk, the sweets, crisps, cakes, biscuits, fizzy drinks. I call these treats, and to be purchased only now and again. Stock up when something is on special offer, buy enough to last you until it comes on offer again. If you are on your way home and passing a supermarket, try and time it to about 7pm. Have a look if there are any yellow sticker bargains. Orange stickers in the Co op. Don't go shopping when you are hungry, or you will buy crap just to satisfy the hunger. Take a list with you if you can't be trusted not to impulse buy. If you only want a few items, pick up a wire basket, don't use a trolley. As the basket gets heavier the more you will be inclined to give up and go to the checkouts.

Make shopping a contest between you and the shops. They want you to spend willy nilly, and you need to beat them and only buy what is a good price and what you really need. Get yourself a good dose of willpower, drag yourself away from the ready meals and fattening junk rubbish and concentrate on what is good for your body and your purse. A few pennies saved here and there is much more satisfying than being ripped off.

Tonight's dinner is a bowl of veg stew, or should I say, was, I've eaten it. Yellow sticker veg from Saturday night. I also bought a pot of guacamole for 16p, not realizing that it is quite spicy. Too hot for me, so it went in this stew. Ages ago I bought a packet of ground rice thinking it would be a nice change to make a pudding. I used it once but got fed up with stirring it and it went lumpy, so instead of throwing it out, I now put it in my stews to thicken them. Works a treat. This was lovely. So, if you have anything in your cupboards, packets or tins, and you no longer like it, try adding it to something else to make it more palatable. I made a big pan of this stew, I will freeze the rest in margarine tubs, because I need to eat more of the fresh veg tomorrow.

Well me hearties, thanks for popping in. I shall be here over Christmas. If you are not going to be around, we'll catch up in the New Year. Toodle pip

Tuesday 22 December 2015

Totally nuts !

Hello. I get the feeling that something is soon going to happen. Preparations are being made, people are making lists and rushing about getting everything ready. I feel a sense of anticipation in the air, normal day to day routines are put on hold while the focus is on this one annual event. The tension is electric. It's like waiting for an explosion to happen, the fuse has been lit and it's only a matter of time till the whole thing comes crashing down. In just one day it will be over.

I am not part of this ritual, I watch and I smile, glad to be an observer not a participant. I will stand in the sidelines, ignoring the mayhem around me. I quite like these words from the poem If, by Rudyard Kipling.

If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs.
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you.
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting.
If you can dream and not make dreams your master.

My words.
If you can take control of your life, while everyone else is going bonkers.
If you can speak up for yourself and stick to your principals. No more Christmas shopping.
If you can show tenacity and stick with what you believe to be right. I can give gifts at any time.
If you can stick your head in the clouds but keep two feet on the ground. Be realistic with your money. No cash, no spend.

I read that there was a six hour wait to get out of Bluewater Shopping Centre yesterday. The place was gridlocked, people gave up and abandoned their cars, which only exacerbated the problem. I have no sympathy for these people at all, are they completely off their trollies? Why are they putting themselves through this torture? Totally nuts.

I shall make a trip to Tesco on Christmas Eve about an hour before they shut at 7pm. Hopefully most people will have given up and gone home by then. Not that I need anything, I have enough food in. But there might be a few bargains at ridiculously low prices and it would be a shame to miss them if it's something I normally eat and can be put in the freezer.

Countdown to Christmas, are you ready? Yep, I'm ready, bring it on and let's get it over with. Bah Humbug.

Lots of love,
Ilona xxxxxx

Monday 21 December 2015

Monday is always busy at Tightwad Towers

Hello. Aren't you just glad that the shortest day is almost over, tomorrow they start going the other way and we get a little bit more daylight. It was nice and warm in the Village Hall this morning, not quite a full house as some of the ladies are busy with Christmas preparations. 
A little bit more playing on my practice piece of needle felt. The needle bodger thingy has five needles in it,  I think I prefer to use them singly. 
I went to the mobile library today and changed some books. Stan won't be coming next week as it's a Bank Holiday. Don't know why I picked up Fitness Cycling, I have a bike but don't use it much. Still, it looks interesting to read, and it might prompt me to get on my bike. I like Jo Brand, she makes me laugh.

Last week I went to the big library in town and chose these three books.

I took Heidi to see Marian the vet this afternoon. She took a sample of blood and she will test it. Heidi seems perfectly ok at the moment, she has just finished a course of tablets. Maybe this is going to be the pattern in the future. When she is poorly some tablets will help boost her red blood cells.  Marian will tell me more when she looks at the sample under a microscope.

It was Carol Singing and poetry in the church tonight, I thought I would show my support and meet friends. After the singing there was refreshments. I must say, the mulled wine was very nice.
Can I ask if any of my readers live in or near Horncastle in Lincolnshire? You  might remember I visited there once and wrote about it. Someone in Surrey has sent me an email, they are thinking of downsizing and moving to the Horncastle area. If anyone can help with local information please let me know, send me an email, then I can pass on your details so the person can email you direct, and you can communicate with each other. I don't have a great knowledge of the place so if you live there you would be in a better position to help.

I've left this late again, naughty me. Time to go for a walk. I'm on target with the miles, 43 so far this month. Another ten days and it should be around 65 if I do a few three milers.

Thanks for popping in. Catch up soon. Toodle pip

Sunday 20 December 2015

Shopping with Nan

Hello. Nothing prepared for tonight's post. Sewing and watching yoootooob today. Have a look at this. Glad I don't go shopping with Nan, she doesn't want to pay for a carrier bag, perhaps I ought to send her one of my bags for life. I wonder what Catherine Tate is up to now, she seems to have dropped off the radar. Her comedy doesn't half make me laugh, even her swearing is funny.

Catch up with you soon. Toodle pip

Saturday 19 December 2015

Learning how to paint with wool.

Hello. My first try at needle felting, I think I'm going to like it. I've watched a lot of videos on yoootooob and I'm itching to get started. A lot of them show how to make small embellishments, dolls, animals, hearts, flowers, faces, and small sculptures. Not many on how to felt onto fabric and make pictures, which is what I want to do. but it looks easy enough. I need to practice. So, I have a piece of grey felt and I am adding a background of colours. 
It's a bit like painting only not so messy. You pull small pieces of wool from the roll and place it where you want it, then stab it with the tool. I like the idea that if it isn't looking how you want it you can add more wool over the top of what you have already done. This is just the start, who knows where it will end up. Looking forward to playing with it.

The fridge is fully installed and looks the business. Bob came round and nudged the cupboard a bit to the left so the fridge has plenty of space around it. I'm planning a Tesco trip tonight as the freezer is completely empty, I need to stock up.

I'll get off because I want to get my two mile power walk in before I go. Thanks for popping in. Catch you soon.
Toodle pip

Friday 18 December 2015

Eating out is a rare treat

Good morning. I started this last night but then abandoned it and took the dog out instead. Yesterday I went to visit the rellies. Me and my sis Anna, and her hubby Bryn. We had lunch at the Riverside Inn at Branston, Burton on Trent. I can recommend this place for a meal, my sis uses it regularly. The food was very good, with a varied menu at prices to suit everyone. The lunchtime menu has a great choice at £4.99 for a main meal, with a choice for veggies.  Bryn had a turkey dinner, Anna had fish in cheese sauce, and I had baked butternut squash in a sage and tomato sauce. We didn't bother with a starter or pudding, the meal itself was enough to fill us up. The staff were very friendly and welcoming, and it wasn't too busy. The tables are spaced well enough apart that you are not sitting close to strangers. Anna paid for our meals, so it was a nice treat. 

It was raining when we came out.

I can't remember ever visiting this place in my younger days, it was always known as the posh hotel next to the river, and out of our price range. Now it is more affordable to us ordinary folk. A nice venue with lots of parking and a relaxed friendly atmosphere.

My 93 year old uncle Stan is doing great, it was lovely to have a chat with him and auntie Pat. They had family to visit last weekend and some more are coming this weekend. They tell me that they have their groceries delivered by Sainsburys now, it has been such a help to them. Pat orders it online and the drivers are always helpful and friendly, bringing it into the kitchen and unpacking it onto the kitchen table. With their mobility problems this is one instance where home deliveries work well. Even with their disabled badge they have difficulty finding a parking place close to the shops.  
I very quickly dashed into Tesco last night when passing. I knew there wouldn't be much left in the yellow stickers, but worth a look. A few things in the basket, brassica veg pack, salad leaves, pasta salad, fresh milk, total £1.68. I might go tonight, need to restock the fridge.

Thanks for popping in. I have things to do. Catch up soon. Toodle pip.

GRRRRR. I hate this centre justified text. I usually highlight each paragraph, then click on justify left, and it moves across. Sometimes it doesn't work. I want my words to start on the left hand side of the page. Bluddy frustrating, I'm going out before I blow a gasket. 

Wednesday 16 December 2015

Chatting with Burnsy

Hello. It was a bit of a faff this morning, waiting for the call to go on the Burnsy Show on BBC Radio Humberside. Apologies if anyone was waiting for it to happen. It was scheduled for 9.40am, other things took priority and I was pushed back once, then again. Finally I got the call at around 11.15am. If you want to listen this is the link, readers outside the UK may not be able to access it. Slide the bar across to 2 hours 18 minutes. I sent him a present yesterday and it arrived this morning. He opened it on air, remember the football shopping bags. Burnsy's first love is football, goes to the matches as a commentator, the bag is an idea present for him. 
The fridge arrived, a nice young man brought it in, unpacked it, but unfortunately it didn't fit into the space vacated by the old one. I thought there might be a problem, but not to worry, there was a plan 'B'. An inch could be taken off the top of the cupboard next to it, and as I don't have the right saw for this, I called on my friend Bob. He came to have a look, and came up with a better solution. Shuffle the cooker an inch to the left, unscrew the cupboard from the wall and remove the top. Shuffle it to the left close up to the cooker, and that gave us a big enough gap to slide the fridge in, no sawing was needed. He was running out of time and will come back to screw the cupboard to the wall. Looks pretty good, bags of room in this one, I'm chuffed.  Mayze cat won't be very pleased though, it is too tall for her to jump up onto it. 
Bob was on his way to the tip with some scrap wood he no longer wanted. He let me have a rummage through it. There was a superduper pallet, some bigger pieces, and some dinky little offcuts. I couldn't resist rescuing these. They will come in useful for something. I am chuffed.
The porch light packed up the other day, I have just got round to changing the bulb. It's really useful when I come and go in the dark, putting the right key in the lock and changing my footwear. I delved into my stash of bulbs, it was a good move to rescue twelve of these from a skip a few years ago. The boxes are a bit crumpled, they were damp when I picked them out. I wasn't sure if they would work, but worth a try. All tested, they work. That was a good find.

I am missing a cat this evening, Heidi has gone walkabout. It might have been because strangers were in the house. I need to go and look for her. Chances are she will stroll in later wondering what all the fuss is about. Thanks for popping in. Catch up soon. Toodle pip

Tuesday 15 December 2015

The bright lights of Vegas Village

Hello. I've done my two mile power walk a bit earlier tonight. I started this routine on December 1st so that's 30 miles done so far, plus an extra two miles because I did it one morning as well. It's been interesting to see how the Christmas lights have been multiplying as people have brought them down from the attic and adorned the front of their house. The village looks very pretty now.
This house puts on a really good display every year. Yes some people might think it's tacky and it has nothing to do with Christmas, but the retired Doctor who lives there does it for the children who love to see it. It makes me smile as well, and anything that brightens up the dull cold winter has got to be good. The same little figures come out every year, and I see he has got a few new ones as well this year. I am a big kid where decorative lights are concerned. I love the lights at theme parks and fairgrounds, and the New Year fireworks around the world are amazing. 
I stopped for a few minutes to take these photos.  

The Nativity scene is in a wooden cabinet with a glass front. 

I had an email from BBC Radio Humberside yesterday, asking if I could go on the radio tomorrow morning to talk about ideas for buying Christmas presents. I emailed back apologizing saying I couldn't because I don't buy Christmas presents. This morning an email came back saying could I still go on and talk about not buying presents and making home made presents. Yep, I can do that. So I shall be talking to Burnsy at about 9.40am. You can listen live online if you like, or later on the catchup.
BBC Radio Humberside
Click on listen live. The programme starts at 9am. David Burns is the presenter. And if you are listening live you can email Burnsy and he will read it out.

The old fridge stands in the middle of the kitchen, the space for the new one is clean, it's coming tomorrow between 9 and 12. I hope they don't turn up when I am doing my radio bit. I've got a Tesco voucher for £3 off a £20 shop, so I will be using that to stock it up. I'm off to see the rellies on Thursday, visit and chat with uncle and aunt, and lunch with sis and bro in law. One of my readers is down that way, if you see this and are free, send me an email, and maybe we can meet.

Thanks for popping in. Catch you soon. Toodle pip.

Monday 14 December 2015

Second hand or new. Which is it to be?

Hello. The new fridge freezer is being delivered on Wednesday, so that's good news after putting up with a temperamental one for so long. I went out and splashed the cash on this, but there are a lot of things that I would happily accept second hand, from car boot sales and charity shops. It's got me thinking about what second hand goods are acceptable and which aren't.

I've said that I am happy to keep things I find in skips, things that people give me, and things bought cheap from car boot sales and charity shops, but I think there are some things which are best bought new. I could have put the feelers out for a second hand fridge freezer, asked around, or gone on web sites to look for one, but I just didn't fancy one that someone else had used before me. I want to keep my food in a brand new appliance.

Looking around my house there are far more second hand things than new. When I  moved in 18 years ago I had a new cooker, new bed, and new dining table and chairs. Then a few years later I had a new Kitchen fitted, new but bought on a budget, I assembled it and a plumber cut the worktops to size and fitted the sink. At that time I bought a new automatic washer after 20 odd years of using the same twin tub. I prefer to buy new  electrical appliances which I hope will last a long time. I have a microwave which I bought new about 20 years ago, a new stereo music centre which is 15 years old. My sewing machine was bought new ten years ago and this computer new about eight years ago. My cross trainer was bought new. So mainly electrical things I buy new, because I want some sort of guarantee that they will last.

So what will I accept second hand? I think it's ok to wear second hand clothes, either given or from car boot sales or charity shops. I even wear second hand pants, they were given to me by a friend so I know they were well washed. I will wear second hand boots, I don't care that someone else's feet has been in them, in fact I like it that they are already 'worn in'. The only exception to this is my walking boots. They have to be new because they need to be well fitting to enable me to walk lots of miles.

I bought a new set of non stick pans, but I have second hand stainless steel pans that I got from a car boot sale, and a large one I got out of a skip. These can be cleaned by scrubbing in hot water, you can't scrub non stick.

I have towels and bed linen which were given to me, some bought at charity shops, and some found in skips. These can all be cleaned in the washer before use. My curtains are all second hand from various places, I wouldn't buy new. Charity shops are a good source for these.

A list of second hand things given to me.
Two desks. Bookcase. Writing bureau. Small glass front cupboard. Office chair. Pine breakfast tabe with two benches. Treadle sewing machine. Dining table. Glass top table and four chairs. Dyson. Sideboard. Electric shredder. Toaster. Toiletries.
Things bought second hand.
Car. Four piece suite. Office desk. office chair. Sideboard. Metal shelving.

I wish I had gone down the second hand route years ago. While I was earning I did the same as most people, everything had to be new bought from a shop. As kids we were brought up wearing hand me down clothes, but of course, when you get a job you want to be keeping up with the fashions. Now, the only new clothes I buy are walking trousers, can't find them to fit in charity shops, and a pack of new underpants every five years or so. When I started reducing my working hours and the cash was tight I stopped spending and started to look at second hand. I am ecstatic when I find a real bargain for a lot less money. It is my mission to pay as little as possible for things that are perfectly fine second hand, so I have enough money to buy new things that matter to me. It's a juggling game, prioritizing what's important.

So, my question to you is what do you absolutely have to buy new, and what is ok to buy second hand, or even get free, either given or from skips?

Thanks for popping in. Catch you soon. Toodle pip

Sunday 13 December 2015

Emergency fund to the rescue

Hello. I have been Christmas shopping, for myself. This is my present to me.

I've been expecting it, my current fridge freezer has been going a bit doolally over the last few months. The salad has been freezing in the salad drawer, and frozen soggy lettuce isn't nice. The thermostat has taken on a life of it's own, sending the temperature up and down willynilly, out of control. Now it has defrosted itself leaving a puddle on the floor, so it has to go.

I've still got the receipt for it, bought 8.5 years ago for £180. I was a bit dubious about buying an unknown make, but I had a height restriction at the time and it was the only one which would fit underneath a wall cupboard. Since then the kitchen has been renewed and that wall cupboard was taken out. Problem gone so I can have whichever one I like.

I have chosen the Hotpoint. There are plenty more expensive ones,  but I see no point in paying  extra for the  all bells and whistles version. I don't want a black one or a silver one, or a stainless steel one. I don't want an American one, or a water dispenser, or an ice dispenser.

I had some Tesco Vouchers saved up, and as they have a double up promotion on at the moment, it makes sense to use them on something I need. The price of the Hotpoint is £230, and with a reduction of £49, it makes it £181. I'm chuffed with that. Only £1 more than I paid in 2007.

Luckily I am in between yellow sticker shopping and was already using up what I had. I have been eating everything that has cost me the most money first, yesterday was the Quorn fillets, Quorn nuggets, and veggie burgers, followed by copious amounts of yogurt. There is very little left today, I have just eaten a portion of home made veggie stew, there was no bad smell, perfectly fine, and I haven't been sick yet, ha ha.. The half a tin of mixed salad beans stored in a mug pongs a bit so they have been chucked. My porch is not heated and quite cold, so a few bits and bobs will sit there for a day or two. They said 3 - 5 days for delivery, no charge. They take away the old one, no charge for that.

This is what my emergency fund is for, no worries about paying for it, the money is saved in the bank. Now I need to move the old one out of the way, and wait for the new one to arrive.

I'm off to the Christmas Tree Festival at the church in town in an hour, it finishes today and we have to dismantle our tree and take it away. Thanks for popping in. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday.
Toodle pip

Saturday 12 December 2015

It's news to me

Good Morning. It's Saturday again, I shall be picking up my free papers a bit later from my friend Irene who saves them for me. I am glad they take The Times, at £1.20 per copy I wouldn't buy it myself, so it's good to be able to read something half decent, for nothing. There are some parts of it that I do not understand but I have made it my mission to at least try and read as much as I can. I am not particularly well educated, couldn't get out of school quick enough. I am frequently having to look up the meanings and spellings of words, so forcing myself to read articles which are baffling is a challenge. I am learning as I go.

Anyway, the gist of today's post is snippets I have found interesting in the papers in front of me. I find myself reading something and thinking, oh, I didn't know that.

The Consumer Affairs Correspondent says everyone in Britain should have two bank accounts, so that they can still access money if a bank suffers a cyber attack. I used to have two accounts with separate banks when I had a business, but for my own personal money I only have one. Apparently cyber crime poses an even greater threat nowadays. A bit worrying really. Maybe I should split my very small emergency fund into two accounts. I'm glad I don't have any dosh stashed away somewhere to worry about.

Did you know that hedgehogs are in decline because they can't move around as freely as they would like. People are too tidy in their gardening habits, graveling over areas and highly manicuring lawns, and erecting fences which imprisons them so they can't forage further afield. Hedgehogs need messy gardens so don't hoover up the fallen leaves, and cut a hole in the bottom of your wooden fences to create a super highway so they can wander from garden to garden.

I have only briefly worked in an office, many years ago, and it was a big office which was super friendly. Now they are saying staff would be more productive if companies scrapped their Christmas Party and make the office more fun all the year round. A survey of 2,000 people found that a quarter of them said they did not need a Christmas Party to boost morale. Makes sense to me. Let's spread a little happiness in September, or June, or March, or anytime. Let's have have fun any time we like.

I can sometimes mooch around the house in a dream, and according to an article by the Science Editor, walking slowly could be an early sign of dementia. A study has found, etc etc, then it gets complicated with medical terms related to the brain. Reading on it says, people shouldn't be worried, there are lots of reasons why people walk more slowly. Mind you, I do think I mooch too much, I blame it on the time of year, and the size of the house you live in could have something to do with it. It would be difficult to run around a small terraced house. I suppose I could try running from the kitchen to the living room.

I read that a very rich man, Mark Zuckerberg, is going to give a big chunk of his money to charity, so the headline says. Read on and it isn't what it seems. He is not going to write big fat cheques and present them to worthy causes, he has given a lot away in the past, he is going to start his own new giant charity. There is a lot more to this story which I am not going to go into here, but an interesting article nevertheless.

Wikipedia is a web site I often visit to glean more information on something I am interested in. Anyone can post on it so that means it is often susceptible to suspicious activity, a bit like the spammers we get on blogs, only more destructive. Tens of thousands of volunteers edit the site, but now they have come up with a way to do that automatically with a robot. It's chuffin amazing just what robots can do these days.

I found this a bit weird. A school in Merseyside held a funeral for a human skeleton which they had been using for scientific studies for 40 years. It is thought that the person died 100 years ago. They did the whole thing, casket, flowers, car, dressing up, the pupils carried the coffin, a proper burial. I don't understand why they did that, it wasn't even a full skeleton. Would they have done that if there was only one bone left? I'm all for paying respect to the dead, but for me that was just a bit weird.

Unlucky for you if you break down on one of the 33,000 miles of British roads, not covered by a mobile phone signal. The RAC have done research on this by analyzing Ofcom data on the mobile network. Best make sure your car is serviced and up to scratch then, and try not to get in any accidents.

A 34 year old woman from Ashurst in Hampshire, who was rejected by the Navy, has completed 60 marathons in 60 days. She has broken the world record of 17 consecutive marathons by a woman, and 52 by a man. Well I think that is bloomin marvelous. I haven't even done one marathon, not that I couldn't do it,  I don't want to run or walk with all those crowds of people. Good on yer, lassie.

That's my paper review. It's raining, not a nice day methinks, so a day indoors. I have a fridge malfunction and I need to eat everything in the freezer today and tomorrow. Luckily there isn't much in the top chiller bit. It's looking like I might need to purchase a new one, but no worries, my emergency fund will cover it.

Thanks for popping in. Have a nice weekend, indoors or out. Catch up soon.
Toodle pip

Friday 11 December 2015

When is a tree not a tree.

Hello. I bet you are wondering what this stuff is doing on my kitchen floor. I have an idea. The wood is from a dismantled paste table. It had been in the garage for a long time and the top was sagging badly so I took it apart and salvaged any bits that might be useful. The roll of green mesh you've seen before.  
Saw the wood into smaller pieces, and nail them together with small tacks. I didn't have a plan, just see what fits. S'pose I could have put the horizontal bars the same distance apart, but it didn't matter. Bet you can guess what it is going to be now.

 I decided to ditch the green mesh idea and looked for a piece of green fabric. Luckily I have this long sleeved T shirt bought from Age UK shop for £1, and as you can see it has been butchered for a previous project. I cut the other sleeve off and the roll neck.

The tree shape fits inside nicely, all I did was to pull it tight and tack it to the back, so it's fully covered.

Next to decorate the alternative Christmas Tree. It was just a matter of tacking these puff balls onto it mixing the colours, and top it with a glittery silver plastic flower. 
By this time the light wasn't so good, a big storm came over. Not a good photo. I wrapped some brown felt around the trunk, and planted it into one of those metal fence post holders that you can buy from the DIY shop. I bought it years ago, didn't put a fence up, everything comes in useful eventually. I've put some glass marbles inside the base to steady it and add more weight, and wrapped it in tin foil.

Have you guessed what the puff balls are? Yep, pan scrubbers. I found them in the £1 shop about a year ago, was drawn to their bright colours, thought I could make something with them.

 The storm's blown over and there is just about enough daylight to get another picture.

I love my alternative Christmas Tree, now where shall I put it. It was easy to make, only took an hour or so. If you wanted to make something similar you could make it smaller and use colourful buttons for the decoration. Put your thinking caps on. There are more ideas for unusual trees in this article in The Mail.

Happy Christmas Crafting. Thanks for popping in. Catch you soon. Toodle pip

Thursday 10 December 2015

Better than a bag of sweeties

Aye up me ducks. It was raining this morning but I wasn't going to let it spoil my day. The plan was a Scrapstore visit, Sandra hasn't been before so it was a good excuse to go. Three of us went over the Humber Bridge to Hull. I had only intended to fill a basket for a £5 spend, but oh dear, I got carried away. I was like a kid in a sweet shop. The place was bursting with loads of different fabrics. 
Tracey was busy unpacking a new delivery of  wool for felting and asked me if I had done any before. I haven't but fancied giving it a go. She made me up a couple of bags of mixed colours, and then of course I had to buy the gadget to go it with. Linda has already got a gadget so she just bought the wool. Now I've got to look at some yoootooob videos to learn how to do it.   
I've taken a few pictures of some of the fabric I chose. A lot of it was included in the £5 basket, they are different sizes, some small, some large.

These three embroidered flowers are from sample books, they will make nice embellishments.

These five pieces are all one metre lengths off a roll, they are not included in the basket price, but are very cheap at £1 per metre. It's the thick fabric with a rubbery backing, ideal for bags. 
The following pieces are from sample books, I picked up two books, they are included in the basket price.

This book has paper inserts showing the design of the following fabrics. The colourful pages could be used in paper crafts. 

I now need to sort out my own mini Scrapstore in the spare room, the fabric is spilling out over the front of the shelves because I keep diving into it as I search for specific colours. A massive tidy is on the cards.

Thank you all very much for your complimentary comments about my bags. I know that several off you have expressed an interest in owning one, and I am chuffed. I am sorry to disappoint you, but I won't be taking orders. I make them for fun because I enjoy playing with fabric, mixing and matching colours, and creating something from recycled materials. If I make mistakes and they are not perfect then it's not a problem, because I give them away, and someone who gets something for nothing shouldn't be picky. If I were to start  taking orders and charging for them it would take me a lot longer to make them, because they would have to be perfect before I let them go. I don't want to be stressing about if my work was good enough. Also I don't want to be tied to bag making, churning them out would be so so boring. I hope you understand.

What I really would like you to do is make a bag yourself. Have a go, even if you don't have any sewing skills. Look at yoootooob videos for patterns and techniques. Bags can be hand stitched if you don't have a machine. A shopping bag is so simple, a front and back, and two handles. Don't worry if your stitching is not straight, or it looks a bit wonky. The pleasure of using something which you yourself has made is far more satisfying than handing over a few quid and buying one. Every time I use my home made bags I proudly tell everyone. The checkout ladies are well impressed.

Got to go now. Thanks for popping in. Catch up with you soon. Toodle pip.