Monday, 22 February 2021

Lockdown Diary - w/e 20th February 2021

This week started in it's usual slow Sunday way, but it was slightly more productive than previous Sundays have been. In case you are wondering why I start my week on a Sunday, this is the start of the financial week when I am at work, so I have become accustomed to thinking of Sunday as the start of a working week.

As it was Valentine's Day this last Sunday, we began the day by exchanging small gifts and cards.  We didn't go overboard this year. LB got more than anyone else. I always like to include her in Valentine's Day gifts. We just bought sweets, chocolates and wine and OH bought me some flowers.

Prior to this, I had started this week by finishing another book in bed. This one was The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce, I bought it from eBay on the recommendation of Marlene on her Poppy Patchwork blog. I really enjoyed this book and at one point it even had me in tears. I also bought another book by this author called The Lovesong of Miss Queenie Hennessy, which tells the story of one of the characters in the previous book. I'm hoping it is as good and it will be interesting to read the story of another character.

I'm so enjoying reading non-fiction books again. I'm almost becoming a bit of a book worm, whizzing through book after book and as I finish each book I put it aside to leave the house and be donated to the Little Free Library, which gives me an added sense of satisfaction. I rarely keep fiction books, as I am not likely to re-read them.

Later, OH went out to do some off road cycling, so I got on with a bit of plant watering, housework and laundry. I then decided to try out my new sewing machine. I had prepped a project that I needed to complete, so all I needed to do was thread up the machine and get sewing. It was quite simple and didn't take too long to get it threaded up. It was slightly different from my previous machine, but once done I could then start sewing. 

I managed to completed a couple of machine sewing projects that now just need a bit of hand finishing. One was a pair of curtains that I needed to alter to make them the right width and length and the second involved sewing together a cushion cover for the dog, the top of which I had hand quilted. Both were really simple projects that took very little time once I got started. I still have one other project to complete on the machine, namely a dress that I want to cut down to make a skirt.

The machine itself seems to sew really well and is actually a lot quieter than my old machine, which is a bonus. I'm very happy with it and happy that I finally got around to using it.

In other news from the day, my amaryllis is finally flowering.  Here's a picture:

It is not very upright, which is a disappointment, but I do love the colour.

Monday, was another slightly more productive day. I finished a few small sewing jobs, i.e. mending a hole in some socks and repairing my cycling gloves. I then proceeded to do a bit more work on the final hand made dog quilt that I'd been making. I finally finished the top, which was very satisfying.

Tuesday, I seemed to hit a bit of a brick wall. I've found this week difficult if I'm honest. I think it was partly as a consequence of watching the latest Covid announcement on Monday night. I think I was expecting more news about how and when we'd be coming out of lockdown and when it didn't materialise I was left feeling a bit disappointed.  Hence, I was left feeling a bit frustrated and I'm starting to look forward to the time when I can go back to work. Sorry for the grumble, I realise I am very lucky to have a job to return to at all and I can't complain about being on Furlough. Anyway, LB made me a couple of pancakes for lunch later, which cheered me up a bit.

I spent the afternoon sewing the dog quilt, just a bit of binding left to do. In the evening, I needed a pick me up, so I started researching holiday cottages for a possible break later in the year. We didn't book anything, but I've noted some nice cottages that might be an option when we get the okay from the powers that be. 

On Wednesday, I decided that I needed to drag myself out of my funk. When I got back from the dog walk, the item I'd ordered from eBay had been delivered which was very exciting to me. It was a large hula hoop. Here's a picture:

I'm trying to learn to hoop at home in Lockdown. I watched a course on Udemy about it and then watched lots of YouTube videos and it looked like fun and something I could do in the house everyday for exercise. I needed to buy this large 42" hoop, as I understand that using the small kind you can buy from pound shops would have made it virtually impossible to learn, as the hoop spins too fast for your body to keep up with it.  Anyway, I'm trying to learn a new skill and that's quite exciting, although it is not in the least easy and I'm lucky if I can manage 6 revolutions at the moment.

I bought a DIY version as it was the cheapest option and I intend to add different duck and gaffer tapes to decorate  it, but I'll budget for that next month.

In the afternoon, LB and I headed out to do a bit of shopping. We needed to do a food top up shop, so we headed off to ASDA. It's always a relief when that is done, I should be good now until I get paid next week, save for buying a few bits and pieces. 

Thursday and Friday were pretty uneventful days. The weather was a bit rainy and miserable, so I stayed inside reading and catching up with the ironing. I continued to practice hooping for a few minutes at a time, at various points throughout each day. I'm now managing 12  revolutions on a good spin. The only place I've found in the house to do it easily, is the living room, as the size of the hoop requires a fair bit of space and the sofa provides a soft landing for the hoop when it falls, reducing the noise. I'm not brave enough to practice in the garden just yet.   I also found a jigsaw that I hadn't done yet, so spent Friday afternoon doing that and nothing else. Wonderfully indulgent.

By the time Saturday came around, I was pretty pleased to get to the end of this week. It's the first week I feel I've really struggled this Lockdown. Spurred on by the warmer weather, I spent most of Saturday cleaning the bathrooms and the stairs and hallway. It felt good to get at least some parts of the house clean and tidy. I need to work my way through the other rooms before going back to work.

On the spending front, I was much better this week and managed  6 no spend days, which is better than the 3 that I managed last week. I'm currently 10 purchases down on the same time last month, which is definite progress and I've spent much less on my credit cards so far this month, which means less to pay off next month and more to go to savings.

I do hope you've had a better week than I have.

Sunday, 21 February 2021

Lockdown Quilting Projects

This lockdown, I've been working on a few quilting projects. The first project was a TV/sofa quilt that I started in a previous lockdown. It is made from a single quilt we no longer needed, which I used as wadding, and some of my favourite fabrics from my fabric collection. They are mostly vintage Laura Ashley fabrics, bar one. It has been made in my favoured style of quilt, using strips of fabric on one side and then just one fabric on the reverse. I find it the easiest style to use when I'm using a very thick wadding such as a quilt.

I needed to hand quilt between each strip of the different fabrics, due to the fact that my sewing machine hadn't been working for a few months.  This took an hour or so to do each row, so I took my time and completed one row per week, as it can be a bit slow and tedious.

Eventually, all of the rows got finished and last week I just needed to complete it by hand sewing the binding onto the edges.  This was slightly more enjoyable and was just a couple of afternoons' work. I was very happy to get it finished though. 

Here's a picture of the finished quilt:

I'm very happy with it, as it's very snuggly and warm, matches the d├ęcor in the living room much better than the one we have been using, and it can probably be washed in our washing machine, as it is only a single sized quilt.

Quilt projects 2 (a, b & c), were projects I mostly started towards the end of last year. I think I've already mentioned them in a previous post, but I've never posted pictures of the finished results. They were a project I had intended to do for years, but never got around to, namely making a quilt for the dog, to go in her basket. As she's now 8 and aging fast, I thought I'd better get on with it.

I had quite a few dog/animal print fabrics in my collection, and I thought they'd be great for this project.  I had to make it using the paper piece method, as I could sew this by hand without needing a sewing machine. For the first original quilt I made the pieces brick sized rectangles. 

I was making this in the lead up to Christmas and wanted to get it finished in time, so that I could give it to her as a present on Christmas day. When Lockdown 3 was announced, this meant that I had the time to focus on it and I did manage to get it done. 

Here's the finished result:

Thankfully, the dog does seem to like it, when she does deign to sleep in her basket that is, (she often sleeps on the sofa, on a quilt I made for LB 10 years ago, or sometimes sleeps on LB's bed). It's an easy size to wash and take with us when we travel.

In addition to making this quilt for the dog, I also decided to use some of the leftover fabric to hand quilt a pillow cover for the cushion in her travel cage in the car. I couldn't finish this project until I got a new sewing machine, however, as I needed to sew the edges together and doing it by hand wouldn't have been strong and secure enough. Anyway, at the beginning of February, I received my new sewing machine, as it came back in stock in Argos (an Xmas gift from OH). Thus, I could test it out by finishing this project and attaching the cover to the pillow. 

Here's a picture of it in situ in the cage:

I then decided to make another dog quilt with the leftover bits of fabric, for the dog's other basket in the kitchen. Again it's hand paper pieced. (I wanted another project to do whilst watching TV) I used an old pure wool dog blanket as wadding, but I made the pieces smaller in order to use up as many of the leftover pieces as I could. I had to use a few more fabric scraps from my scrap basket too, so that I had enough fabric to complete it, but I'm very happy with how it turned out.

The third and  final quilt project that I've completed during lockdown, was a cover for my new sewing machine. I'd made one for my previous machine 6 or 7 years ago and decided that I'd like to make a different one for this machine, which was also made by hand, as I didn't have the new machine at the time that I started it.

Part way through the project, I decided I didn't really like it so much and was going to start a new one made on the new machine, but since attaching the binding, it seemed to come together better and  I've decided that I do in fact like it, so I'm sticking with this one. It's reversible, as you can see from the pictures and was made mostly from scraps. It was satisfying to be able to use them for something.  I've just got to add elastic and buttons to each end of the cover  and  then it should fit more securely.

So, as you can see, I've been pretty busy with quilting during this lockdown. I do find it extremely therapeutic, it's like a kind of meditation for me. I'm not sure what I'm going to do now all these projects have been finished, but maybe I do need a break for a while as my fingers always get cut to shreds by the pins and need to recover.


Saturday, 13 February 2021

Lockdown Diary w/e 13th February 2021

I've now decided to call these weekly Lockdown posts my Lockdown diary, because essentially that's what they are. They'll serve as a reminder of how I spent some of my time in Lockdown.

Sunday this week, was a very slow day. I started a new book, as I'd finished Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine the day before. In fact, I stayed in bed all morning on Saturday until 1pm reading it. It was a really good book. I'm glad I did, everyone needs a duvet day now and again, especially whilst on Furlough.

Later, I decided to take a look at the Premium Bonds Monthly Prize checker. The bonds I bought the other week aren't actually in the draw yet, but I find it interesting to see who wins what. You can see how many Premium Bonds the people who win the large prizes own and even when they bought them. It is fascinating. As a consequence, I decided to put some more savings into them. I've been reading articles lately about negative interest rates on savings accounts possibly coming about in the future, and I certainly don't intend to pay a bank to hold my savings, so it seemed like a good idea. Besides, the more I have in there, the more chance I might have of winning.

Later, when I took the dog out, I decided to test out my recently purchased litter picker. It was very cold and snowing, but I quite enjoyed picking up the litter I saw on my walk. It gives you a strange sense of satisfaction. I did fill a quarter of the bag with rubbish from inside the car before I set off, but the rest of the bag was full by the time I'd got around the field. Indeed, I could have filled a bigger bag, but had to leave some things, as there was just no room to put them into the bag. I did get thanked by one gentleman as I was clearing some rubbish from a picnic area, which was nice. I'm pleased I bought it and gave it a go. Even if I just use it once per week when I go on one particular walk that we do regularly, it will be worth the cost and I will feel that I'm doing something positive.

The rest of the week was pretty uneventful. After a pretty spendy first week in February, (I treated myself to a new sweater and some dungarees from ASOS in their sale, I bought the litter picker, an LP and a new hi-viz cycling jacket from eBay, did a food shop and placed a Cherryz order) this week I decided that I wanted to achieve as many no spend days as possible. (I didn't do as well as I'd hoped managing only 3 this week, but hey ho.) I made one purchase on eBay on Monday, but I'll talk more about that once it arrives and I've started using it.

On Tuesday, I took delivery of a couple of parcels.  The ASOS parcel and the LP from eBay. The LP is great, it was a classical album that OH got me interested in. I bought him the CD for Xmas, but I then wanted to buy it on vinyl to play in the house (we have no CD player, save for in the car). It's by Glenn Gould and is Bach's Goldberg Variations. I love it.

The clothes I bought from ASOS were keepers too. One item was a very large black roll neck sweater, very snuggly, perfect for this snowy weather and not easy to find in my size at the moment, as this style of sweater seems to have sold out everywhere that I looked. I opted for a maternity version by Topshop, which is how I managed to find one. It is a bit oversized to be honest, but serves to hide all those bits you don't want anyone to see, especially after all the lockdown munching, so I'm pretty happy with it.

On Wednesday, I needed to go out food top up shopping again. I ventured back to ASDA this time, as Lidl stores are just too small and crowded in pandemic times. I needed to pop into the B&Q nearby too, for some smokeless coal, as we've been lighting a fire during these cold snowy days and had run out. 

On Thursday, I stayed close to home. In the afternoon, I finished sewing the TV/Sofa quilt that I'd been working on. I really like it and can't wait to start using it in the living room. (More in another post coming very soon). 

Later, after supper, I sat down and started another book, this time The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell. It was one of those books that I found very hard to put down and got almost all the way through it by the time I went to bed at midnight.  There were just a few chapters left, which I finished off the following morning. It was a good read though.

On Friday afternoon, LB had some free time from college work, so we agreed to head into the local mall together. The main reason for this was to go to a bank there and deposit some change and a cheque, pick up a new kitchen bin from Argos, that I'd ordered online and also get a few essential bits from Boots. We headed off on the bus. 

To be honest, it wasn't a very productive afternoon. I picked up the bin, but when I tried to put the lid on it, it had been misshapen in storage and didn't fit properly, so I had to take it back and as they didn't have another one, I had to get a refund. In addition, the bank in question was temporarily closed, which was also very annoying, rendering the trip a bit of a waste of time, save for getting the bits I needed from Boots and also using part of an M&S gift voucher to get some new slippers.  My current ones are mule type and don't feel very secure on my feet coming down the stairs.  Here's a picture of the one's I bought:

More booties than slippers and definitely not my usual style, but there wasn't a great deal of choice to be honest. They are very comfortable though and feel much more cosy and secure on my feet.

When we got back home, my Cherryz order had been delivered, which was exciting. Here's a picture of what I ordered:

Mainly treats as usual and as we'd run out of most of them, it came just at the right time. These should last us a few weeks.

After all the expenditure and activity on Friday, I stayed home on Saturday and had a very quiet homey day. I stayed in bed reading yet another book and then started a new sewing project that I need to do on my new machine. I haven't actually started using the machine yet though, this was just prep.

Later, I did another litter picking dog walk. This time I picked a carrier bag full of trash and a carrier bag full or recycling, i.e. cans, bottles, etc. 

On the way out, I managed to acquire a free fiction book to add to my collection, as our next door neighbours had left some books outside their house, after de-cluttering before they move house in a couple of weeks time.

I lapsed from having a no spend day after succumbing to placing an Approved Food order tonight. It was mainly for dog food and treats as we're running low, but I'm hoping that over the next two weeks I'll be better on the no spend front. I have currently carried out 5 less shopping transactions compared to this point in January, so my spending has improved a little so far this month.

Thursday, 4 February 2021

Lockdown Catchup

I haven't posted for a while about what I've been getting up to, mainly because life in Lockdown has just been trundling along like being in the film Groundhog Day, with nothing wildly exciting to report. This week, however, seems to have passed remarkably quickly, which I'm thankful for.

At the weekend, OH and I got a bit more painting done in the upstairs part of hallway. I'm hoping we might finish it this coming weekend, which would be good. There's still work to do downstairs in the vestibule, but choosing a colour is still an issue there. Why is it so difficult?

On Saturday, the sewing machine that I wanted for Christmas came back into stock at Argos, so OH bought it straight away and it got delivered that night. Very good service from Argos, I have to say. I haven't tried to use it yet. I need to work out how to thread it first. It's slightly different from my old one, as it's a different brand, Brother this time. Reviews seemed to be good. It's not all singing and dancing, but does have more fancy stitches than my old machine. It also comes with a 3 year warranty and an instruction DVD which is good. At least it will give me more choice in terms of things I can get on with during Lockdown now. Here's a picture of it:

(Sorry, not a great photo as it was backlit on a dingy wet day)

I did a big food shop at the end of last week and didn't intend to food shop at all this week, but with the weekend approaching we had run out of milk and due to the fact that I had a Lidl Plus £10 off voucher to use by today, I decided to venture out and stock up on a few things.  It wasn't a great experience, usual story with regard to people not social distancing and the store being just generally too busy with no one way system, but it's done now. At least the rate of infection here in London has dropped considerably in recent weeks, so it's less risky than it was a few weeks ago. I shouldn't need to venture out food shopping now until the end of next week at the very earliest.

I placed another Cherryz order this week, mainly snacks and things that we eat/use regularly. I may post a haul when it arrives.  I've decided that by placing an order with either Cherryz or Approved Food once per month, it gives me the excitement of receiving a parcel of stuff that we need and use, rather than spending time online shopping to generate a parcel of things that I don't need or use. It's working reasonably well so far, although I do still sometimes buy the odd other thing online. I don't really enjoy online grocery shopping, I get frustrated by the lack of delivery slots, but will do it at a push if am really forced to, otherwise, this would be something else to look forward to. Instead, I still physically go out food shopping. It gives the car a run out at least.

This month, I finally decided to buy a litter picker and a hoop for holding a plastic sack open. They arrived today. I'm yet to christen them on a litter picking dog walk. If nothing else, the dog enjoyed playing with it this morning when I got it out of the packaging and I can see that we might have fun on dog walks as I'm trying to use it and she's trying to wrestle with it.

OH's Marshall's seed order came this week too, well part of it at least, we're still awaiting the shallot bulbs. There weren't actually many packets of seeds in it, as we still have quite a lot from last year to use up, but he did get some potato tubers, which are now chitting in his basement office.

Our kitchen bin broke this week. The spring in the lid broke and it doesn't close properly now. I need to buy a new one and sourced one on Argos, but I was having difficulty paying for it with my credit card. In the end, I had to ring up the bank this morning to find that my card had been stopped for some reason, not sure why.  At least it hadn't been used fraudulently, which was what I was dreading. I think it's back up and working again now, but I'm a little reticent about trying to use it, so I haven't yet ordered the bin. I may persevere with the broken one for a week or so, as long as it doesn't smell too bad.

I picked up another fiction book to read this morning, it's quite a well known title that I've seen around for a while. It was recommended by a friend and has been sat on my bookshelf for a year or so. It's called Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. I'm only a few chapters in, but I'm enjoying it. I'm quite getting back into reading fiction for a change. It's quite relaxing.

I was very sad to hear that Captain Tom had died the other day. Very sad news. For some reason, no one in the street was out clapping, so I clapped inside at home instead. Maybe people are no longer following the news that much and didn't know much about it or maybe it's too cold and wet at the moment to stand on the doorstep clapping. I was glad to see lots of people on the news out clapping for him. He raised an awful lot of money in the first lockdown and inspired a lot of people with his amazing indomitable spirit. RIP Captain Sir Tom. (Not sure which way round his titles should be written.)

On a brighter note, I bought myself some spring flowers last week whilst grocery shopping, just a cheap and cheerful bunch of daffodils and tulips for £2.89 altogether. They filled two small vases and helped to brighten up the house a little. We all need a bit of a pick me up sometimes. 

I also bought a shrub for the garden from Tesco for £2. I thought it was very pretty. and had lots of bright green leaves shooting off it. Here it is in a pot in the garden:

This is just a temporary home until it's less wet and muddy in the garden and I can decide where to put it.  It's hard to resist anything that promises new growth and pretty flowers.

Last week, I treated myself to some dahlia tubers that were being sold in a local shop. They were £5 for three tubers, so I picked a few different ones to plant in the garden. OH and I have decided that we want to try to grow more flowers this year, so I'm going to take over one of the raised beds in the garden to grow dahlias in. (Slugs and snails allowing) Here are the three I chose:

A bit of a pink theme going on, but these were the ones I liked most from the choice that there was on offer. I do have some other dahlia tubers that are orange, that I dug up and dried over the winter. I have divided the mass of tubers into three clumps and  I hope to eventually plant these alongside the new pink ones for some nice cut flowers later in the year.

Finally, the amaryllis that I bought from Tesco before Christmas is finally just beginning to flower. It sprouted just one flower head, but no leaves to speak of, which was a bit disappointing. It's not grown very upright either, but that's possibly my fault. Let's hope that the dark pink flower on it's own makes up for the distinct lack of foliage.

Not much else to report this week, but I hope that you guys are all having a good week and staying safe. At least with all the vaccination news, it seems like there might be light at the end of this dark tunnel. Talking of which, I went on the online vaccination calculator the other day. It says I can expect to get vaccinated in May. Bit of a wait yet, but who knows it might come sooner.

Take care.

Monday, 1 February 2021

Decluttering 2021 Update

This year, I decided that I would try another decluttering challenge, as I haven't done one for a couple of years. I read about a challenge where you declutter 2021 items in 2021 and thought, that's something I could really get my teeth into. It's a large amount, but I'm willing to give it a try and create a bit more breathing space in our house.

This month, I went through the pile of stuff in our spare room, that I had put aside to donate over the last year. I pulled out all clothes and accessories that I can actually physically donate, counted them and then took them to a local clothing donation bank. That was 41 items out of the house.

It is difficult at the moment to find a place to take items to.  All charity shops are closed and not taking donations, there are no Give and Take events due to the Coronavirus, no car boot sales or jumble sales and I really just don't feel like I want to sell things online. I'd much rather just donate them for someone else to make use of. This does limit the amount of stuff that I can physically get out of the house and it is only the things that I actually despatch to a new home that I am counting for this challenge.

There is still a pile of housewares waiting to be donated, but nowhere to take them at present. They may be with me for a while yet and I'm sure that I will add to the pile over the coming months.  Some will be taken to the charity shop as soon as it opens, others may have to wait for the Give and Takes to resume, whenever that might be.

Anyway, I also paid a visit to the refuse tip this month, to get rid of some unusable items that had accumulated, this meant another 43 items decluttered from the house and garden.

A complete overhaul of my wardrobe also created another 34 items to go to the clothing bank and I also put 12 books in a local Little Free Library.

Total decluttered and departed from the house this month 132.  A pretty good start. Hoping to keep up the momentum.

Sunday, 31 January 2021

A Few Current Favourites

It's difficult to write a favourites post when you're not buying anything or going anywhere, but there have a been a few things that I've been enjoying of late that I can mention here.

TV and NETFLIX wise, I've really enjoyed Pretend It's a City on NETFLIX, a docuseries by Martin Scorsese about American humorist and writer Fran Liebowitz who lives in New York. I'd never actually heard anything about her before watching this series, but found her to be a woman after my own heart. I like her style and humour. Definitely worth a watch. Similarly, I re-watched a documentary film about US writer Joan Didion, which was also on Netflix and was very interesting.

On TV, I've started watching It's a Sin, Finding Alice and have recorded the new series of Marcella to watch at some point in the near future.

On YouTube, I've become re-acquainted with blogger Frugal Queen, who now has a YouTube channel called Frugal Queen in France, where she now lives. I've also been enjoying Caroline - Mrs M - Over 50 Lifestyle channel since December. I find her very watchable. To be honest, I need to do a full cull of the channels I subscribe to, because I hardly ever watch some of them anymore.

I'm also enjoying reading through my unread fiction bookshelves. I'm now on book three and everything so far has been quite readable. The best bit is being able to declutter them after they've been read though. Very satisfying.

My other main favourite of the moment is continuing to make hand stitched quilts. I just keep starting new ones, so that I've got something to work on at all times. At least it's making use of my fabric stash, as well as keeping me occupied. I'd probably go a bit mad if I couldn't do something a bit creative with all this time.

Other than this, there's very little keeping me amused. I don't feel inclined to spend money online, which is new for me. I don't actually need anything. That's progress at least. 

I'm looking forward to the weather getting a bit warmer and getting out into the garden and onto the allotment. The whole plot needs digging over before the new growing season starts, which we may do at some point in February. Another tidy up in the garden would also be useful at some point. It's way to cold and unappealing at the moment though.

How are you keeping yourself occupied in lockdown?

Friday, 29 January 2021

Monthly Expenditure Round Up - January 2021

Finally, we got to the end of January or payday at least and the first month of my Low Spend Challenge in 2021. It felt like a really long month, which it always does after the festive season, but I was very happy to get through it and to start a clean slate for February.

January, wasn't actually particularly low spend, mainly because of LB's 18th birthday. I don't really have a budget for gifts, as I consider that they are just essentials that need to be bought.  I am, however, tracking what I do spend in this category this year, with a view to reducing it, if I think this is necessary.

Included in the spending in this category this month was the £22 that I spent at Whistlefish, on a bulk order of greetings cards.  When they actually arrived, they were very nice quality cards and also were all made from recycled paper, which I didn't expect. As a couple of the cards I'd ordered were out of stock, they replaced them with different ones and also sent me two extra cards too, which I was very happy about. They came just in time to send one off to my sister, as it was her birthday this month. We don't do gifts though, except for the special birthdays with a 0 on the end.

Heading into a new year and a new challenge, I changed my budget around this year, increasing expenditure in some categories, i.e. My Personal budget and the Home and Garden budget and as a consequence, these two categories and the Misc category, all came in well under budget this month. For myself, I only bought a Zumba class from Udemy and a new watch from eBay, as mine packed up last week. It only cost £4.99 though, so no big deal. I know I could probably have got a new battery put in, but it is tricky to find somewhere that does this in lockdown and it would probably be more expensive anyway. I can keep it as a spare and do it when/if life ever gets back to normal.

The Household category ended up being well over budget this month, mainly due to a bulk order of household products that we use regularly from Natural Collection, plus I also ordered some make up from My Pure. I don't place these kind of orders very often, so I don't anticipate it being anywhere near as high next month.

Food was slightly over, which is to be expected during lockdown, when we're all eating all our meals at home. To be honest, I think we did quite well on this score considering, mainly because I've stopped doing super big supermarket shops/overstocking and just do more medium sized or top up shops now, when we've run out of specific things. 

As I said, it wasn't really a low spend month, but I am hoping that February will be much better, as I will have got more into the habit of not spending money on stupid stuff.

Having said all of the above, I still did manage to put some money into savings, for probably the first time in nearly a year. I stopped saving after we went into lockdown the first time and never really got back into the habit. This month, however, I managed to put aside over one hundred pounds into my savings and a similar amount into LB's university fund, which is better than nothing. 

In conclusion, not an altogether successful Low Spend Month, but I knew I'd find it difficult to begin with. I'm optimistic that I can do better in February. At least there are no birthday gifts to buy in the coming month and I don't have any plans to spend money on anything in particular, although I may buy a few small things for the house, but all within the budget allocated. To be honest, as the month end approached, I tried to think of something that I needed to buy in February,  that I would soon be able to, but couldn't think of anything, which was encouraging. I'm sure something will come to mind at some point.

Just one final note with regard to finances. Due to ridiculously low interest rates on one of my savings accounts (i.e. 0.01%), I decided to close it and transfer some of the money to some Premium bonds this month. It was so easy to do online. I've had a few bonds in the past, but never won a penny on them. However, this time around I've invested quite a bit more. I know the chances of winning the big prizes are very low, especially if you've got less than £50K in bonds, but I thought I'd try anyway. After all, you've got to be in it to win it, as they say. Anyway, I've arranged for any winnings to be ploughed back into bonds, to increase chances of winning in the future. It's quite exciting. If I won the odd £25 I'd be happy and it would be more than I'm currently getting in interest. I'll let you know if I do manage to win anything. Has anyone else had any luck with Premium Bonds?

I hope you had a good month financially, especially if you're trying to save money.