Tuesday, 26 September 2017

This Weekend

This weekend I haven't been working for a change and so I have enjoyed staying home and concentrating on getting some outstanding jobs done.

The first was catching up with some laundry and ironing, which seems to build up very quickly when I'm out of the house a few days a week.

I did have good intentions of catching up with some Flylady Zone cleaning in our bedroom and finishing off my Weekly Home Blessing upstairs, but in all honesty, I just wasn't feeling it this weekend. 

I did do one job in the Master Bedroom zone and that was to get out all of my winter wardrobe, make decisions about what I wanted to keep and what was going to be donated and then pack away any summer clothes.

Of course, as soon as I did this almost, we got some more warm sunny weather!

The main thing I tackled this weekend was the back garden, which was looking very overgrown and neglected.  With OH's help we managed to get it back in order and take all the garden waste to the tip. I have created another post on this subject to show you the before and after.

On Sunday, there was a local Jumble Trail in our neighbourhood and I saw a few stalls setting up whilst walking the dog.  I was intending to have a wander around some of the stalls, but then LB wanted some money to go out for the day, so I gave her the cash I had on me.

When I thought about it, I figured that I spend my working days sorting through everybody's jumble effectively, why did I want to spend my weekend looking through more.  Besides, there wasn't really anything I wanted, so I decided to stay home instead and not spend anything.

Having said this, I did venture out to the garden centre on the way back from the tip, for a few bits to aide the garden clear up, but they had been on my wish list for a good while, so it felt good to finally get them.

Talking of my wish list, I also managed to cross one other item off my wish list this weekend by giving something I already had a make over, which I posted about the other day.

In all, quite a productive weekend, but it could have been more so, had I had the inclination.  I think I'm still recovering from the 7 day stretch at the CS.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

A Small but Useful DIY

For a while now, I've wanted to try to find some kind of storage solution for all of the condiments that I keep next to the stove top in the kitchen.

For many years, I had a small plastic tray that I stood them all on, but during a purge on unnecessary clutter in the kitchen earlier this year, when I first embarked on using the Flylady system, I decided to donate the tray.

Instead, I started using a small wooden box with two compartments and a handle, that I had previously used to store stationary in my kitchen office area. Having disbanded this kitchen office, the box was freed up and put to good use.  I think I'd bought it at a car boot or CS originally and had painted it with white eggshell paint, but it was now looking a bit chipped and tatty and didn't really fit in all that well with the kitchen scheme, so I was on the look out for something more permanent to replace it.

After a couple of months looking in TK Maxx at possible solutions, I came to the conclusion that everything I'd seen was a little flimsy and what I was already using was probably my best bet.  The wooden box was solid and sturdy, just the right size for everything I needed to keep in it and was easy to carry across to the table at mealtimes, as it had a sturdy wooden handle too.

The only problem with it, aside from the tatty paintwork, was that it's bottom was a bit scratchy and I was concerned it might scratch the kitchen table.  As a consequence, I got to thinking how I might resolve both of these things in giving it a bit of a makeover.

As is often the case with my makeovers, I forgot to take a before picture of the box, but I proceeded to repaint it using some black chalkboard paint that I had left over from other projects. The paint has a nice matt texture and should fit in with any potential future kitchen scheme. It was also pretty quick drying too, which made it a very quick DIY, as I just painted it straight over the eggshell without any sanding necessary.

To resolve the scratchiness of the bottom of the box, after giving it a coat of paint, I glued some wool fabric that I had in my stash onto the bottom of the box, so there'll be no more scratchiness and no scratched kitchen table.

It's not perfect but the makeover cost me nothing save a little time, and I'm very happy with the results.  Just goes to show that what we think we need can sometimes be right there all the time waiting for a bit of inspiration to transform it.

Here's a picture of the finished box and it's contents both on the table and in it's usual place on the kitchen worktop:

Friday, 22 September 2017

Freebies, Frugal Measures and Frugal Fails 16

This last couple of weeks I haven't had too much time to concentrate on living frugally, as I've been out of the house for most of every day, working at the CS.  However, a few frugal and not so frugal things have occurred, quite a few with a timekeeping theme to them.

Frugal Measures and Freebies

1 - I got a free ride to work the other day as the Oyster reader on the bus wasn't working.  Result.

2 - I used a £4 off a £40 spend voucher at Tesco this week when grocery shopping.

3 - I received a bunch of £8 off a £40 spend vouchers from Waitrose through the post, so I may be diverting part of my weekly grocery shop there for the next few weeks. Having said this, I do find this store to be more expensive for many things, so I shop very selectively there.

4 - After another watch failure this week, I managed to dig out an old Swatch watch which had stopped working after I'd worn it to the gym and it had got sweaty.  As it was a nice watch in otherwise very good condition, I stored it away and when I got it out again, it seemed to have dried out and once a new battery was put in it, it worked a treat, so I didn't have to buy a new watch. I've learned my lesson wearing watches at the gym.  I take them off now to preserve them.

Frugal Fails

1 - I needed to order a new natural concealer last week and the only place I could find the one I use was on Amazon.  Unfortunately, my usual source, who doesn't charge for postage, has stopped selling the brand I use, so I was forced incur Amazon's £2.75 postal charges which hurt. I think that I will either have to find another brand to use or a new supplier in the future.

2 - Three months after purchasing a lifetime watch battery warranty from Timpson's for £20, it has been rendered useless. After two months with a new battery, my watch stopped working again.  I got the battery replaced under the warranty, but was told that if it stopped working again, the watch would have to have a service (costing who knows how much!).  Anyway, lo and behold two weeks later my watch stopped working again. As I only paid £16 or so for the watch, I'm not paying out more money to get it serviced, so I'll be disposing of it.  The up side to this story is as previously mentioned in the Frugal Measures section. The moral of this story - don't buy cheap watches!

3 - OH ordered an alarm clock from Amazon over a week before we went on holiday to France.  It hadn't come by the time we went away, so we thought it would get left with neighbours.  Sadly, the delivery agent left it on the doorstep whilst we were away and someone helped themselves to it.  I then had to buy another alarm clock, as I needed one for work.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Two Lovely Days at Home

I've spent Monday and Tuesday at home this week, pottering around.  It's been bliss and I feel human again. I feel like I've been living in some sort of twilight zone for the past week.  I don't want to have to experience that again.

I had to rely on OH a lot to keep things running smoothly at home.  I was fortunate that he works from home, otherwise we'd have been eating at 9pm every evening, the house would be a tip and no one would have been able to attend a meeting at the school nor make sure LB got home on time in the evening. 

Even so, it did put a strain on family life at times and caused stress over silly little things. I guess I've got my first taste of how difficult it is for families, where both parents work full-time, to keep all the balls in the air. It doesn't take much for them to drop to the ground.

What I really didn't like is that for all of my daughter's 14 years, I've been fortunate enough to be there for her after school and in the holidays, and during this last three months I haven't and it didn't feel good. I know I need to let go and let her be more independent and the job forced me to do that, but at times I felt like I was letting her down.

The only upside to last week, was that I lost 6lb in weight just through sheer busyness and lack of time to snack.  Not an ideal way to do it, but it's nice nevertheless.  I will probably put all or some of it back on now that I'm not working quite so crazy hours.

Anyway, that said, these last two days have been lovely. The first day was mainly taken up with food shopping and cooking us a nice joint of roast beef, that we hadn't had time to cook in the previous week.  That felt satisfying.

The second day, I got down to some blog writing, dealing with my personal finances and also had a nice long walk with the dog before embarking on starting my Flylady Weekly Home Blessing. I only managed to complete downstairs, but it felt so good to restore a bit of order and cleanliness to our home. It's amazing how much dirt and dust gathers in the corners in just a couple of weeks.

I finished my two days off by putting a wash on and catching up with the ironing.  It wasn't too bad as I'd emptied the ironing basket before starting my full week of working, so there were only 3 or 4 loads to iron, which didn't take too long.

Friday is my next day off and I'm going to try to use it to finish off my WHB upstairs and then do some Zone cleaning in Zone 4, the Master Bedroom. I had to consult Flylady Diane's videos to figure out where I was up to in the Flylady stakes, so much have I lost contact with the programme in the last few weeks. There's not a lot to do in the bedroom, just change the bedding and a bit of dusting really.  I may use the opportunity to get out my winter clothing and put away some summer clothing now the weather has turned colder.

I hope you've had a good and productive week this week.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

A Couple of Upgrades for Our Home

As mentioned in yesterday's post, after a week of intense work, I indulged in a little bit of recreational retail therapy yesterday whilst out doing the weekly grocery shop.  Now I know that this is a dangerous habit to get into, but most of the items I bought were Christmas presents, along with a couple of natural make up/toiletry items for me and the following two items for our home.

Both items are upgrades in that the first, this lovely plastic tray with a coastal houses scene on it, replaced a much larger tray that I had previously donated.  We don't use a tray that often, but it is handy to have one and the previous one was so large that it didn't fit in any of the cupboards. As I'm trying to keep counter clutter to a minimum, it wasn't working for me, so I sent it to the Give and Take. This one however is smaller, lighter and easier to carry with the handles and can be tucked into one of the cupboards.

It also goes quite nicely with the only artwork in the kitchen, this lino cut print of  coastal houses and at £3.99 was also good value.

The second purchase (or purchases) was a set of three glass storage jars that I bought to replace the previous IKEA jars that I'd been using for a while to hold dog food, treats and biscuits.  I really liked the simplicity of these, with their silicone stopper type lids. They weren't cheap at £16 for the three, but I think they make the dog food corner of the worktop look a lot better and allow very easy access to the contents.

The IKEA jars will now be returned to their original home in my sewing room to store various sewing notions.

Here's the before

and now the after.

It has been nice to have a little spare cash to make small but satisfying changes to the house.  As we may be redecorating the kitchen soon, I think these items will enhance the finished look eventually.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Back in the Land of the Living

Well, at last, I'm back in the land of the living and not virtually living my life in the charity shop. It's such a relief to finally have a day to myself at home, to do whatever I want and trust me, I'm only doing what's absolutely necessary and thus giving myself time to recover from the exertions and stresses of the past week.

My week in charge of the CS didn't get off to a very good start.  I woke on Sunday morning, my first day of a seven day stretch feeling distinctly unwell.  I had a headache, felt dizzy and nauseous and could hardly lift my head off the pillow.  I contemplated still going in and doing what I could, but I knew I would spend the day with my head on the desk, trying not to fall over. I had no option but to call the manager and ask him to cover for me and then take the following Sunday as part of his week's leave instead.

He was very gracious and supportive and as he didn't have any plans that particular day, he went in. I then spent the day in bed dosing myself up with paracetamol and trying to sleep off whatever lurgy it was that I had. (Vertigo or some sort of virus I thought, but it was in fact vertigo after all) I wasn't even well enough to get dressed or walk the dog.

By Sunday night I was feeling better so my week started proper on Monday.  Monday itself wasn't a great day, Tuesday got worse, but from Wednesday onwards things settled down and I got more into the swing of things.  I still had vertigo for most of the week, but managed to work in spite of it and it ended up being a busy week. Every day was pretty busy, in fact, and as a consequence I ended up on the right side of the sales targets, although I was pretty exhausted by Sunday night. The terrorist incident on Friday led to my receiving a concerned phone call about some of the staff from overseas.  It was a strange day.  Needless to say, we didn't hang about that evening.

OH came to pick me up from work on Sunday night and brought the dog with him. We sat outside a pub and had a drink before walking back to the car through the park and heading home. It felt so good to be free of the shop for a couple of days.

Today, I've had to do a big food shop as we were running low on food, I had a nice leisurely walk with the dog and have pottered about at home. I have to admit to a little splurge at TK Maxx whilst out shopping, but mostly on Xmas gifts and a few things for the house.  I'll do a little post on what I bought in the next few days.

Tomorrow, I'm hoping I feel a bit more recovered and can start to do a bit of cleaning in the house.  It's tidy enough, but has got a bit dirty over the last couple of weeks, so needs some attention.

Although I learned a lot about what I was capable of this week, with regard to the CS, it has made me more sure that I really don't want to work full time in the field for the time being. If a part time job in the right shop became available I might apply, otherwise, I'm back to volunteering and I will have a whole new appreciation of the freedom that brings in comparison to being paid to work there.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

An Afternoon on Sanibel Island

By way of a show of support for all of the people currently recovering from Hurricane Irma, I'm posting this post that I wrote about part of our holiday in Western Florida a couple of years ago. It never got published at the time and has sat in my drafts box as a reminder to me of our wonderful holiday. What better time to post it and show the beauty of the this part of the world.  My prayers and good wishes are with everybody affected both in Florida and the Carribean and I wish everyone well in aftermath and with the forthcoming clean up efforts.

The first Sunday we were in the US, we visited a very beautiful place near Fort Myers called Sanibel Island.  It is one of a number of islands off the west coast of Florida, and part of it is a nature reserve.

You have to drive over a long bridge to get to the island, I think there might have been a small toll, there are quite a few toll roads and bridges in Florida, but it was well worth it.  The island is beautiful, definitely worth a visit.  At the end of the island is a lighthouse which we drove up to visit.

The beach here was beautiful.  A mangrove beach with beautiful white sand and clear water.  As soon as we set foot on the beach we saw dolphins frolicking in the water, I think there were two or three of them, but I didn't manage to catch a photograph and anyway my phone camera probably wasn't good enough to pick them out.

We settled down in the shade of some mangroves, taking in the view, reading our books and swimming in the ocean for the afternoon.

A sea anenome washed up at my feet. I'm not sure if it was still alive as it didn't seem to cling to anything and kept getting swept this way and that by the ocean as it lapped at my feet.

Apparently this is good place for shells, I saw the odd interesting one, but didn't take it off the beach.

There was also a small fishing pier and lots of families spending Sunday at the beach. A beautiful place, we were glad that we'd taken the time to visit.

Visiting places like this and seeing the wildlife and nature are one of the things I love most about the US and other places we have visited. It costs very little to spend the day somewhere like this, but when you do it is magical.