Saturday, 31 December 2016

A plan for 2017

Hello. Does anyone remember this book, for a while it was my bible, I studied it often, trying to absorb as much information as I could. It came out in 1982, I had been trucking for six years and I did have it all.   
Love, success, sex, yes, but money, not so sure. Yes, I had enough money, but not loads of it. I had enough to get on the housing ladder, but it was a struggle in the beginning when every penny I had went into the house. I thought I was the bees knees, the dream job, own house and car, plenty of opportunity to meet boyfriends, oh yes, life was good. 
It was quite early on that I realized that there was a difference between what I needed and what I wanted. I needed to have a roof over my head, but it didn't need to be modern and fashionable. I needed a car to get to work, but it didn't need to be flashy or new, anything with four wheels and an engine was ok. I needed clothes, some of them were new, but I made them last a long time, I didn't need to replace them until they wore out. I needed food to keep me alive and to nourish my body. I didn't need to buy expensive food, my mum taught me how to cook the basics. And so it went on, I was categorizing everything that came into my life, putting things into boxes, do I need it or want it? 
I have noticed from reading forums and suchlike that everyone's needs and wants are different. All well and good if you have the money to pay for it all. But if you have to make your money last from one pay check to the next, then it would be beneficial to constantly review your needs and wants list, because it changes over time. 
Some of my needs and wants are still the same, I still need a car because I value the freedom it gives me. So, for peace of mind I prefer not to drive an old banger which might break down. My car is now changed every so often and I save up for it. I still don't need a fancy house, new clothes and expensive food, so I decorate my house with second hand, and shop in charity shops and bargain hunt my food. 
I definitely have everything I need, and I seem to have pretty much what I want, or do I? Well, it's nice to have dreams isn't it. We can all aspire to a better lifestyle, to bigger treats, and a few luxuries. But what if we don't have the money to pay for it? This is where the needs and the wants come into play, not losing track and getting carried away by all the nice things around us which we see and want
For instance, I would like a campervan, wouldn't that be great, take off anywhere with my bed just behind the seat. The adventures I could have, wouldn't it be marvelous. But hang on a minute, have you seen how much they cost? Mega amounts of money which I haven't got. Spose I could save up for it, but it's going to take a long time. Spose I could sell my house and buy one, have thought about it, but what happens next. Time is getting on and I don't want to spend the rest of my life in a campervan, and once I have sold my house I will never get on the housing ladder again, it will have to be renting, and have you seen how much rents are these days? I did live in a small caravan for about a year and it wasn't very nice in the winter. No, my campervan will have to stay in the wants for now, and may never be bought.  
So, it is the end of the year, the point of this post is to encourage you to sort out your needs and wants for 2017. Make a list, you will find over time that your priorities will change. If you have money to spare each month you might find that you can afford some of those wants, but if money is tight, you might only be able to buy the needs. If you are always skint you should look at your lists and move things around. The wants will have to stay where they are for the time being until your financial position improves. If there are needs which you can't afford they will have to be parked in the wants for the time being. 
If you are living beyond your means you need to stop buying wants, you can't afford them, unless you do something to increase your income, take on extra work or change your job. Of course if you can write a book like Helen Gurley Brown, then you will be quids in. 
That's it folks, the end of the year. 2016 has been pretty good for me, I have no regrets. Let's all try and make 2017 the year we take control of our lives. Tomorrow we start afresh, what's gone is gone. We start  walking, we start looking after our bodies, we start prioritizing, we start enjoying the rest of our lives. This isn't a rehearsal, this is it. 

My very best wishes to you. Happy New Year.

Friday, 30 December 2016

Mighty chuffed with my beach huts

Hello. Well it was more than just another stitch, it was ton's more stitches to finish the job. I had to secure it to a stiff cardboard backing which took a couple of hours. But here it is, finished. I have photographed it without the glass so no glare and reflections, it looks even better with the glass, gives it a professionally framed look. The dimensions are 14 inches by 11.5 inches. I chose green for the frame, it's ordinary household emulsion from my stash of tester pots, and I think the colour balances beautifully with the rest of it. It's a bright summery happy picture. 
The yellow sandy beach colour is lost a bit in the closeups. The first picture is closest to the real colours. I made the beach huts out of plain cotton fabric and painted them. Then used felt tip pens to add a few details.

Most of the stitching is simple running stitch, with a few French knots on the trees, and some back stitching.

The orange sun is a circle of felt. It took me ages to decide which fabric to use for the sky. The natural choice would have been blue, but I wanted to steer away from convention, and there would have been too much blue with the sea already blue. So red it was. First I tried patterned fabric but it looked a bit silly, so plumped for plain red and added the sun's rays.  

The back is now covered with the hardboard that came with the frame, and sealed with tape to keep the dust out.

I have really enjoyed making that. It made a change to work on something smaller, was much easier to handle. If you want to make the pictures bigger click on one of them for a slide show.

Have to wait now for another idea to pop into my head.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Almost the end of the year, have you thought about joining our Walking Group for 2017? Add your name to the post on the 1st of January, then update your mileage on the 1st of every month after that. Do yourself a big big favour and make 2017 the year you WILL get fit.

We'll catch up soon. Toodle pip

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Just one more stitch

Hello me hearties. I really shouldn't be showing you this. I've been working on it all day, hoping to get it framed, but run out of daylight. Working under artificial light is not the same, especially when my work stations are spread about between the two tables downstairs and the work bench upstairs. When I piece pictures together bit by bit it takes ages to search out the right type of fabric, plain or patterned, the right colours, and the thickness of the fabric, so it's a lot of walking up and down stairs. 
I think this is ready for framing. Just when I think I have stitched the last stitch I always find a little bit more to do. The frame is ready, an old one which was given to me has been painted.

I find hand sewing very therapeutic, even more so now I have discovered the gentle relaxing music on yoootooob.

I'll finish it in the morning and show the whole thing tomorrow. Right now Bugsy needs his hot water bottles refilling, it's perishing cold outside. I went to the church post office this morning to pay my last installment of Council Tax. Two free months now before it starts again. Picked up more free hearing aids from the medical centre because I've almost run out. Two packets last me six months. Fetched the bins back in after the council lorry has emptied them. Had a postcard from two of my readers, they are in London having a good time. Thank you for that.

I'll be glad when we start getting a bit more daylight. Thanks for popping in, we'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Jade, a lovely lady

Hello. And life goes on. I'm holding off going to the shops, though now is probably the best time to go, there will be stuff marked down. I don't need anything at the mo, cat food stocked up, freezer stocked up, and I've enough Brussels Sprouts, potatoes, and carrots to last another week. I had a plate of veg this afternoon, never get bored with that. Sprouts and broccoli drizzled with toasted sesame seed oil, deeeelishhhh. 
Caught a glimpse of a fantastic sunset the other night, view from my bedroom window. A few minutes and it was gone. Twas a beautiful deep red, the colours never fail to amaze me. 
This was my lunch yesterday. The last of the yellow sticker mushrooms and chopped onions, half a tin of chick peas, and an egg scrambled into it. Spices, Danish blue cheese, and cream cheese with garlic. I had it on a microwaved spud. There was enough for two portions. Cheap and bloomin lovely.

Doggy walk this morning, this is Jade. She is a sweetie though you wouldn't have said that if you knew her when she first arrived from a rescue. She had a rough start in life and was very wary of people, leading to bouts of aggression. Both the gardener and the handyman were bitten, but her new owner persevered and she calmed down when she realized that she was safe in her new home.

I am walking her on alternate days for the next three weeks while her regular dog walker is away on holiday. He takes her all over the place, down tracks, across fields, she is allowed to run free with him. I won't be letting her off the lead, although she knows me I don't want to take the chance of her running off. We have a very fast march around the village, stopping to talk to any other dog owners we meet on the way. She is fine with people and other dogs, no sign of aggression now.

Bugsy is still eating, but getting a bit picky. It's good that he chunters and moans about not having the right food, at least he is interested in it.

Thank you all for commenting on the previous post, a lot of  opinions, and stories on how you spent your Christmas, and what it means to you. I think it's a topic which will emerge year after year. As people grow older and families grow up, ideas of what Christmas is about are bound to change. I liked it when I was young, but stopped liking it when I was in my late twenties/early thirties.

I had a very late lunch today, so I'm just about ready for a small meal. Don't need a full dinner, so spaghetti hoops on toast will be enough.

The computer is playing up a bit, I uninstalled Skype because it was slowing things up and I don't use it, but I must have done something wrong because now I can't access my favourite sites from the top bar. Will have to look into it, or get the little computer out. Bloomin pain.

Thanks for popping in. We'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Only available from a supermarket

Hello. Have you got over it yet? I think what this Christmas has shown is that I am an oddball in my family, I am different, not the same as them. I live my life differently to them. The real meaning of Christmas is long gone, and now it's only available from a supermarket.

Most people are not interested in saving the planet, of reducing their waste, and thinking about what will be left for future generations. The destruction of the earth is tragic, it's unfolding every day of our lives, right in front of us, and people can't see it.

My eating and drinking habits are moderate, everything in moderation. I don't like crowds and loud noise, I like space around me, and interesting conversations with people I can hear. Any noisy place is very unpleasant for me,  all I can think about is escaping. I can stand it for so long then something snaps, I have to go.

My family was kind enough to invite me. I had long forgotten what a family Christmas was like, now I am reminded that it is noisy, so I shall go back to staying at home. I like my home, it's peaceful.

I listened to the whole three hours of the gentle music I posted yesterday, it's lovely and soothing. Here I am listening to it again. I think I shall be having more of this type of music on in the background in future.

I've been watching some Rick Parfitt videos, wasn't he a genius guitarist ? Been reading about George Michael. Such tragedies that they have gone too soon. If only they hadn't done the drink and drugs. If only.

I'll get off now. This week is in no mans land, one big day gone and another in a few days. I like New Year better than Christmas. Love a new start, a brand spanking fresh new year with lots to look forward to.

Thanks for popping in, we'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip

PS. This post has been edited by the Administrator at 23.40 on 28th December.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Relax, it's over

Hello, my house is a haven of peacefulness tonight. Close your eyes and relax with me.

We'll catch up soon. Toodle pip

Saturday, 24 December 2016

All ready, no stress.

Hello. Only a few hours to the big day, in 24 hours it will be almost over. I didn't dash round the shops at the last minute frantically pulling my hair out wondering if I had remembered to get everything. I didn't buy in any extra food and booze. I didn't stress about sending cards, only one was posted and half a dozen put through doors in the village, and they have been in the cupboard for years. I didn't wander aimlessly around the shops with a glazed look on my face, wondering what presents people might like. I bought one, it was something I spotted in an instant which was just right. 
Much easier for me to go to the bank for my Christmas shopping. Six envelopes for six kids. They can go and buy their own presents after Christmas when everything has been reduced. I hope their parents will help them to choose something, and also encourage them to save some of it. Five of them are quite young and will need some guidance. 
I hope you all have a lovely Christmas Day, whatever you are doing. Thank you to those who have sent cards, thank you to everyone who visits my blog. I have been invited out so I will make the effort and go. We'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip

Friday, 23 December 2016

Puddy tats

Hello. I'm cheating today, Janet one of our cat rescuers has sent me details of our cats, so I'm doing a bit of copying and pasting. I know you like puddy tat stories. 

The tabby fluffy cat who was pulled from the fishing lake at, aged about eight weeks.  She was either very frightened or semi feral and wouldn't come out of her igloo. She is now very playful and let's you touch her nose although we haven't been able to stroke her yet and it will be a little while before she is ready for re-homing. She’s about fourteen weeks old now. Will be spayed when old enough.

Came from a flat eviction with another cat called Percy who we had neutered and has now been re-homed.  Very timid when they came into rescue but are now happy, affectionate and very playful.  Cosmo had to be neutered but Moon had already been done. They are about two years old and are to be homed together as they are very loving towards each other.

Cara’s family were moving to accommodation where they were not allowed to take Cara.  A lady they knew had promised to adopt her but backed out on the day the family were moving.  She came into rescue that evening very frightened and hid for a week in the igloo.  The last few days she has gained more confidence and is becoming very affectionate. She even allowed us to take the collar off her today.

Thank you for that Janet. Our rehoming policy is that we don't let them go to homes near a busy road, or homes with small children. That may seem harsh but we get lots of requests to take in cats from families where the children have lost interest, or a baby is on the way and the cat no longer fits in. What we are looking for are forever homes, preferably in the countryside with space around them, where the new owner genuinely wants a companion for life. Each applicant is assessed on their individual circumstances, and new homes are checked.

Bugsy update. He has been eating, sometimes a lot, sometimes very little. He is still a bit picky with his food. Yesterday I warmed some cooked chicken for him but he wasn't interested. I left it out on his tray and he tucked into it overnight. I change his hot water bottles three times a day, he likes that and is now snoozing on them. Two normal poo's in 24 hours. Just a case of watching him.

Right, I'm going to get on with stuff, so I'll say tatty byes for now. We'll catch up soon. Thanks for popping in. Toodle pip

Thursday, 22 December 2016

An ordinary day in the life of me

Hello. I've been doing a bit of running around today, not literally running, but doing jobs that had to be done. The car needed an MOT test, so I booked it online last night with Halfords Autocentre, and delivered it at 9am this morning. Their place is close to town so I came home on the bus and left it there because they were busy. Halfords is the cheapest place I have found at £30.

Next was a dog walk, I'll have to take a picture of Jade. She is easy to walk, though I think she is a bit confused that we don't walk the same route that Ken walks her. He lets her off the lead to run through fields, that's ok because he has been walking her for over a year, but I will be keeping her on the lead. We will be walking around the village on tarmac. I don't want to be paddling through mud.

Back home for lunch, a big salad, and some sewing to pass the time while I wait for the car to be done. I rang them at 3pm and they said, yes, its' ready, so I caught the 3.30 bus back to town. I don't normally go to the bus station, no need to, but I was disappointed that it looked so scruffy. Literally rubbish everywhere. Visitors must think we are a mucky lot. The bus driver put his foot down a bit, seemed to drive ever so fast. Or maybe my driving is getting slower so I notice it more.

I then had to go to the vet's to pickup some tablets for Heidi, it's at the other end of town. Traffic was busy  so I diverted around the queue's and went through some country lanes, and now the car is all dirty again.

Dinner tonight was a pile of steamed vegetables, drizzled with toasted sesame seed oil. Someone said they like seeing pictures of my meals, but the steamed vegetables look much the same. I had brocolli, potatoes, carrots, fine french beans, and mangetout peas. Did you know that Aldi's super six this week are only 19p. I believe all the supermarkets have cheap veg, now is the time to buy plenty. Skip the meat, just have the veg.

This is my latest work in progress. Lots of hand stitching. It's not a big picture, this is the sea. Above it will be the sand, then the sky at the top. The darker blue is the nearest shade to the real thing, difficult to get the true colours when using flash.

Right, I'll get off, evenings are taken up with mostly cat cuddles, they all want my attention. Bugsy has been a bit picky with his food, but if I prod it around in his bowl he will eat some. He wants to eat, but grumbles about what I serve up. Sometimes his head is in the bowl as I am emptying a pouch into it.

Thanks for popping in, we'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Dump the junk.

Hello. There were a few questions on my diet, snacking, and size, yesterday which I will answer here. Thank you to the readers who asked.

Have I always been slim? I was a skinny kid and a skinny teenager which stayed the same well into my late twenties. I did put on some weight after that due to eating crappy snacks while out driving a truck. In the early days I didn't do packups, that was my downfall, I went in shops and bought crisps, pop, biscuits, and chocolates. I wasn't very organized then due to working 12 hour days. One thing I never did was to pull in a cafe and have a truckers breakfast like many of my male counterparts did. I'm sure later many of them would come to regret that. At one point I was approaching 11 stone, which worried me, because my clothes were getting too tight. My skin was horrible too, sallow and spotty. Eventually I saw the light and thought this can't go on, I have to take my own food with me. Thankfully I lost a few pounds. I have never consciously dieted.

My weight dropped a bit too low when they found a large cyst on my right ovary at age 59. I was concerned that I was becoming very skinny. Thankfully after an operation to remove it, I gained a bit of weight to a more healthy level, and I have been able to maintain that.

Do I snack between meals? Most of the time I don't feel the need to because I try to eat only when I'm hungry. I don't snack for the sake of snacking, just because it's there. Snacks to me are a treat, only to be eaten on odd occasions. My meals are substantial enough to keep me going. I know people say watch your portion size if you are trying to lose weight, but I say you can eat as much as you like if it is not 'bad' food. Look how I pile my plate high with vegetables and salad. I do believe all the accompaniments that go with meals bump up the calories. Gravy, sauces, pastry, dumplings, Yorkshire puddings, all not necessary. And if you have to eat meat only go for the leanest, smallest piece you can find. Avoid fatty cheap cuts, avoid sausages, and avoid any processed frozen pies and pasties. In fact I believe all meat is bad for you, but I am not going to get into the veggie v carnivore argument, it's all been said before.

I have to admit to opening the fridge door and having a couple of cream crackers with cheese. I might have a yogurt, or a banana to keep me going. I might have a single slice of seeded bread with a smear of lemon curd. Or I might have half a tin of rice pudding. I quite often bring a meal forward an hour if I am feeling hungry, or delay a meal if I am still slightly full from the last one. Mealtimes are not set in stone here. As regards snacking, there is so much crap out there, it makes shopping a lot easier if you avoid going down those aisles anyway.

Do I consciously watch what I eat? Yes, I do. I am always aware of what I am putting into my mouth. I know in my mind what is good food and what is bad. I don't go out very much socially so I am not drawn into eating with other people. I don't believe you have to have a starter and a pudding with a meal, just the meal is enough for me. And as for a cheese board, that's plain daft. If I am caught out feeling a bit peckish while I am out, I will look for the smallest snack I can find. They have a small nutty bar in B & M for 19p. I don't have a coffee and cake while I'm out, too many calories. I never have takeaways, never go into burger bars and suchlike. I have been known to hurry back home because I need to eat.

Can we have a more detailed recipe for the veg and blue cheese concoction? I usually start off a meal like that in a medium size pan with chopped onion, mushrooms, and spinach. Soften in a spoon of oil. Then I add whatever vegetables I need to use up, chopped small to reduce cooking time. Throw in any spices I have, then add fruit juice and/or water or both, simmer till soft, add cheese before serving. That's about it, I make it up as I go along.

Is there any hope for the rest of us? Certainly is. If you are not under the doctor for any underlying medical problems then there is no reason why carefully monitoring your diet should not bring about an improvement in health. In fact I believe a poor diet often contributes to health problems. It's all down to what you put in your mouth, and of course getting enough exercise.

Thank you for your questions. I'll get off now, my stomach is telling me to eat.

Thanks for popping in, we'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Controlling my blood pressure

Hello. The weather has turned cold today. I took a dog for a walk this morning, I haven't walked Jade for a long time because she has a regular walker, Ken, but he has gone on holiday, so I said I would help out. I told the owner that I don't want to commit to a daily walk, but would help at odd times, and let her know. I said I would do it on Thursday and Saturday, and let her know after that. I don't want to be tied to a routine. Jade is lovely, a rescue dog that walks nicely on the lead and is happy to meet other dogs and people. 
Lunch today was a salad, under the grated cheese is a microwaved spud. I had some houmous with it, which was reduced to 25p. 
Not a very good picture of dinner tonight. I fancied some pasta, haven't had any for ages. I am using up yellow stickers, so in the topping is onions, butternut squash, mangetout peas, broccoli, and mushrooms. And the secret ingredient, Danish Blue cheese. I've made enough for lunch tomorrow, and there is enough pasta for dinner as well. Looks a bit yucky, but it tastes fantastic.

I've been doing a bit of sewing today, have changed the white bits on the picture and coloured them blue. It's looking good. I checked in with Stan on the library this afternoon, returned one book and took two out. He won't be coming for the next two weeks, that's ok, I have plenty of reading matter.

I wasn't going to mention this, but I feel terribly sad for the people of  Germany. What is this world coming to. I try not to write about politics because it won't make one bit of difference to what is going on. It only raises blood pressure, and I don't want lots of people piling in with their views and turning my comments into a punch up. I would rather it stay neutral.. However there is one thought in my head which I will share. 'That bloody woman'. That's it, nothing more to add. Anyone wanting to air their political opinions, do it elsewhere. Thank you.

Thanks for popping in, we'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip.

PS. Bugsy has been scoffing tuna fish.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Crafty Club Christmas Tree.

Hello. I remembered to take my camera with me this morning to Crafty Club, and called in at the church on the way to get a few snaps of our tree. Eeeee, it does look grand. I think it is better than the conventional tinsel adorned artificial tree they have on display at the front of the church. You can't beat hand made. 
There is a children's party on Thursday and they have a competition to name ten of the decorations on our tree. 

We were a bit short on numbers this morning, people have other things to do on the run up to Christmas. We are not meeting again until the second week in January because the next two Mondays are Bank Holidays.

Several people have asked about doing the 1000 mile walking challenge next year. I have already mentioned that I will not be making a separate page to log the monthly miles, however, in view of people's interest in the challenge I am willing to give everyone a day a month to log their own miles in a monthly comment. Therefore it is up to you to keep track of where you are, but everyone can see it.

So, starting on January 1st you can register your name as a participant. and on the 1st of every month you check in with your mileage. Note, there are people with the same name, please add something to your name to make it different from the others. Please try and stick to this plan because then it is a group effort and everyone can support each other. You can comment on your walking at any time of the month, but it would be better if you logged your mileage on the 1st, then everyone is in the same blog post.

Basically, I am not going to hold your hand, you need to do it for you. I will be there to urge you to keep going, and to encourage you. I want to see those number increase month by month. It's up to you how you do it, long walks, short walks, and how you check your own progress. Whether you use an electronic gadget, or use a site like bikehike. you check your own miles.

People start New Year Resolutions with good intentions, but run out of steam part way through the year. If there is a good reason why you physically can't do it, don't worry. Maybe you could scale it down and find an exercise plan a bit easier. If there is nothing physically preventing you from walking then get off your bum and make the effort. 2.73 miles a day can be done in just under an hour. Remember, you are doing it for you, for your health, not for me or anyone else. Best of luck.

Thanks for popping in, we'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip

Sunday, 18 December 2016

In a creative mood

Hello. Can't stop, I'm playing with bits of fabric and it's a bit fiddly. A picture, a bit smaller this time, got an idea, needs lots of stitching, want to get on with it. 

Bugsy has just scoffed some tuna fish. Need to watch him for a few minutes, in case it comes back up. He is hunched up and burping a bit. Nothing happening. So far so good.

Thanks for popping in, we'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip

Saturday, 17 December 2016

1000 miles - finished.

Hello, This is me on my last three mile walk which takes me to the magical number of 1000 miles. Yes, I've done it, and boy does it feel good. 
I was a year younger when I started, and felt pretty much ok then, and now I feel even better. It's right what they say, exercise is good for the body and the brain. 67 is just a number, I don't feel any different to when I was forty something. I want to continue feeling good so I will be carrying this on and starting again on Jan 1st 2017. I can feel the benefits, and I want to stay mobile. It would be such a shame to stop now, I will keep going. 
This was my lunch yesterday, potatoes, watercress, and mushrooms. All yellow stickers. 
I cooked a pan of veggie stew yesterday, ate one portion for my dinner and froze three and a small portion. It was bloomin lovely, my secret ingredient is Danish Blue Cheese.

Tonight I have cooked another pan, eaten one, and there is some to freeze.

 Bugsy update. A week ago I thought he was ready to keel over and die. He was scrawny and didn't have any interest in anything. He refused all the food I offered him. He had three injections from two vet visits, they didn't seem to make any difference. A day before I was due to take him back for blood tests he suddenly became interested in food. I had removed most of it as it became dry having been out for 24 hours, and replaced it with fresh out of the pouch. He was in it like a shot scoffing like he was starving, he almost was starving. Since then he has been eating small amounts regularly. When I come down in the morning he is sitting up asking for food. It seems his appetite has returned. Sometime he is picky and refuses what I am offering, but if I poke it around the bowl with a knife, tell him how lovely it is, and hold it under his nose he usually decides he will eat it. I'm completely baffled. So it seems we have a reprieve, how long for I don't know.

Thanks for popping in. Enjoy your Sunday. We'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip

Friday, 16 December 2016

No need to go mad just because it's Christmas

Hello and Good Morning. I've just had a good laugh. There is an article about me and how to save money at Christmas, in iNews, a budget daily newspaper. The journalist Katie Grant rang me yesterday for a chat. I usually get requests at this time of year asking for my money saving Christmas tips, but when I reply, I don't do Christmas, they usually give up and look elsewhere for their story. Katie stuck with it.

Click on this link and see the story yourself.  Britains stingiest woman offers her advice.

Anyway, let's press on. I did my Christmas shopping last night at Tesco. The yellow stickers cost me £6.21, and it's all good food. The total shop was £40.78, and with a voucher for £8 off this brought it down to £32.78.

There were only two of us waiting for the final reductions so we got the pick of the crop. Tons of veg as usual, broccoli and spinach my favourite. I will be cooking some of this up later today and putting portions of stew in the freezer. I might not have to go shopping again until after Christmas. In fact I could stretch what I have in my freezer and cupboards until the New Year.

I had it in mind to write something here about Christmas spending, or not spending, but Katie beat me to it, so I will add a few more thoughts on what she has already written.

Utility bills go up in winter, heating and cooking cost more, to budget for that savings have to be made elsewhere. Budgeting is an all the year round activity, there will be peaks and troughs throughout the seasons. Think about what you NEED, what you WANT, and what you will NEVER spend your money on. Compile your own lists on what is important to you, and what you can do without.

I can do without Christmas, not important, but I like a nice car, need to pay for my pets, and I like to go away on holidays and day trips. What I don't need is to shop at Sainsbury's Waitrose, and Marks and Sparks. I don't need a television set, don't need a licence. Don't need to eat out, don't need takeaways. I could list whole rafts of things I don't need, and my do need list will be very short.

If you have a partner, you should sit down together and do this exercise, you need to be singing from the same song sheet. No point in one person frugally saving pennies everywhere, when the other is squandering  it all away. That will only cause conflict.

If Christmas is important to you all well and good, go ahead, but do not go into DEBT for it. It is an annual event and there will be another one on the same date next year. It won't hurt to cut back on the spending for one year, or if you are like me, you might decide you can do away with it altogether.

I find it very liberating that I have chosen not to join in. My brain is not cluttered with the worry of getting the right presents, buying the right food, sending cards, and generally running around like a headless chicken trying to keep up. I can sit back and relax and watch everyone else getting their knickers in a twist. You will not see a furrowed brow on my face, you will see a wide grin from cheek to cheek.

No more lectures, do what you like, but don't come crying to me when the credit card bill lands on the door mat. I will just say, I told you so.

I had a lovely email from Amy of Hard up and Happy. She had difficulty commenting on my blog, so I will copy and paste it here.

 Hi Ilona,
I just want to say a huge thank you for your support and kind words on your blog - which is ace by the way. 
It means a lot when people are nice, as it's my philosophy to be as kind to others as I can, unfortunately this isn't always returned.
I won't concentrate on the negative Nellies though, as the positive comments are amazing. If I can help a few families be happy with what they have then that makes it worthwhile. I would have loved to have responded to each comment on your blog and my website, I'm afraid for some reason I can't? The comments plug in on mine is playing up. Anyway enough rambling I wanted to seek you out and say a great big thank you. You have made me very happy. From one thrfiter to another Merry Christmas!
Kind regards 
Thank you Amy, lovely to hear from you. 
I'm beginning ramble now, it's lunch time, and I have things to do. An idea for another textile picture is creeping into my head, want to have a play with some fabric. Thanks for popping in, we'll catch up soon. 
Toodle pip. 

Thursday, 15 December 2016

A really nice book cover

Hello. Bit late tonight, I thought I would get the Tesco dash over and done with before the busy weekend starts. I also had an £8 off voucher on a £40 shop which needed using before it runs out. Did well on the yellow stickers, had a laugh with the boy who was marking down, and a chat with the lady on the checkout. Shouldn't need to buy any more food now till after Christmas. 
I finished the notebook cover today. This is how I began. A piece of cotton fabric bigger than the book when it's opened out.  
I started by adding the square piece of fabric, then kept adding more until it was covered.

This is it fully covered. I then did cross stitch along all the seams, with some other stitching as well. 

I cut another piece of red cotton the same size and pinned the two together, right sides in. Then I marked a line around the book, and machined them together on three sides, leaving one end open. I cut off the excess, then turned it the right way, and stitched up the open end by hand.

The front of the finished cover. 
 And the back.
Inside front.

Inside back.

This is the whole thing opened out. 
I did blanket stitch on the top and bottom to make the pockets to slip the book into.

The twisted elastic is sewn into the back cover and flips over to the front to hold the book closed.

I am very pleased with how it's turned out. The cover can be removed when the book is full, and put onto a new book.

Right, half an hour chill time and cuddles with Bugsy, then I'm off to bed. Thank you all for visiting Amy's blog, I bet that gave her a surprise. Thanks for popping in, we'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Give Amy a boost.

Hello, I've just been reading a story in the Daily Wail, you know the one I mean, the Daily Fail. A thrifty mum is feeding her family on a small budget, and getting a lot of sarcastic, and nasty comments from the sad keyboard warriors who have nothing else to do all day. The same thing happened to me. Show the world that you are doing just fine and jealousy rears it's ugly head.

Thrifty mother of three. Read here. 

Amy has a blog, Hard up and Happy, and it's quite good, nice ideas for thrifty food. She is a happy mum with happy kids. Let's support another thrifty blogger and give Amy a boost, and post a comment on there. It will make her smile and show her that we are on her side. Stuff the nasty people.
Thanks a lot.

Thanks for popping in, and your nice comments on Bugsy. He has eaten a little and is now sleeping.
We'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Roller Coaster.

Hello. It's a good job I haven't had any children, my emotions are all over the place with a poorly cat, imagine what I would be like looking after a human. Bugsy is my baby, I've had him for almost 20 years, there will come a time when he won't be here any more and I have to get used to that.

He hasn't eaten very much for about a week, in fact Janet has had more luck in getting him to eat, than I have. I have offered him all kinds of tasty pussy cat food, fishy and meaty, with gravy and jelly, as well as an assortment of tinned fish, and sliced meat. He has turned his nose up at everything.  Janet texted me while I was away saying he had eaten.

Last night he looked as if he was fading away, and I wondered if he would still be breathing in the morning. I had almost rung the vet a couple of times yesterday but then thought, give it another hour or two, see what happens. So at 11.30pm I went to bed and he was fast asleep on his heated bed.

This morning I crept down in the dark and used a torch to check on him. A sigh of relief, he was still breathing. I let him sleep on and had my coffee in the kitchen. No food had been touched overnight, but in his litter box was a poo. Amazing, he is still able to do a poo, even if he hasn't eaten very much.

The vet suggested we could do blood tests, it might give us some more information of what might be wrong. I had decided because of his age that I didn't want to put him under any stress, so I said no.

This afternoon I moved all the bowls of food away, and brought some fresh Felix in, mashed up in a bowl. He looked interested and went straight to it, and started eating. Amazing, he almost finished it. He seemed to perk up a bit after that, so I rang the vet and said I would go for the blood tests and made an appointment for Thursday morning.

So from thinking he was at deaths door and wouldn't last much longer, I now think he might have a chance. He did eat a little bit more later on, and I am hoping he will have a little bit over night. I am now hopeful that he will still be breathing in the morning.

My goodness anyone who has been on the verge of losing a pet will understand what I am talking about. The questions that go through your head. Is it time? How will I know when it's time? Should I call the vet now or wait a bit? Are they suffering and in pain? Will it be tomorrow or a few more days? You cry, then you stop crying. You talk to them then you cry some more. You watch them, are they still breathing? You think about them lying still and lifeless when they have gone.

I had all this with Rocky and Lilly and Freddie, it doesn't get any easier. Pets are family members, your heart is broken when you lose them.

Thanks for popping in, we'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip.