Monday, 30 November 2015

November Round Up

November, as far as the budget was concerned, wasn't a good month in some ways.  I managed to overspend on the food and household budgets, although in the case of the latter, I didn't spend as much as the previous month's overspend.  Which was a slight improvement.

The food budget overspend was £29.01, which wasn't too bad.  I think I overspent using up some Waitrose vouchers and so we still have quite a bit of food in the cupboards and freezer, which I have worked into December's menu plan.  I'm hoping to virtually empty the freezer by the time we go away for Christmas, as there's no point leaving lots of food in it, just in case of a power cut, which does happen occasionally.  So long as there's pasta and a jar of sauce in the cupboard to come home to, we can eat until I get a shop done.

As a consequence of the above, I'm leaving the monthly food budget as it is for the time being, as I think it is a realistic amount at £400, and I'm going to make a point of NOT using every voucher I'm sent this month.  I have today used one £16 off a £75 spend voucher at Waitrose, to start the month off, but the final voucher will be thrown away, particularly after another farcical encounter when I tried to pick up my online order from the store today. I shouldn't need to buy much food at all next week and I'm determined not to overspend this month.

The household budget, was a bigger overspend at £55.71.  Most of this was overstocking on toiletries again, as I'm still trying to find suitable 'natural' products and some things it is easier to buy a couple of as I order them online (i.e. toothbrushes/shampoo/mouthwash).  I think I'm going to make a concerted effort to not buy any more multiples of certain products, until the ones I've already got have been tried and used up, but sometimes it is just too tempting. Despite the fact that I seem to constantly overspend in this household category, I am NOT going to up the monthly budget and it will remain at £50.

I'm going to try to come within budget in December for a change and avoid unnecessary temptations. I am currently in the process of changing up the dog's diet and have been buying various more natural foods for her to try, which seem to be well received.  These do work out a bit more expensive, but I'm happy to pay a little extra to give her better quality food.

Overall, budgetwise, I have gone into overdraft this month by quite a bit (I have a free overdraft facility on my account), mainly because of some ongoing dental treatment I'm currently having, which is proving expensive.  I'm hoping to recoup some of these costs from profits I make via my small business in the next couple of weeks, providing business stays as good as it has been lately.

The truth is that I haven't been to the dentist for a considerable time. Don't get me wrong, I meticulously clean my teeth twice daily and use mouthwash, but after an encounter with a rather unpleasant dentist, I stopped going for a while and this month I've tried to get back on track with this aspect of my health and it is costing me dearly.

It is, however, worth every penny. The new dentist seems very professional and has a helpful manner and as my oral health didn't turn out to be as bad as I'd feared, I am frankly relieved to be taking control of it and I don't intend to make the same mistake again.

In fact, I've now even confronted my long time nemesis (i.e. dental floss) and finally become a born again flosser.  As a consequence, I have been trying to source more natural dental floss and gentler mouth washes than I was using, to improve my oral health further.

So, it's been an expensive month, especially with spending some money on Christmas presents too and needing to post presents off to Australia.  I am, however, just about finished with my Christmas shopping, with just a few presents still to get, some of which I need OH to try on in store to get the sizing right, once his collar bone is in better shape.

As there are just 3 weeks before we head off for Christmas, I'm hoping that I can keep spending to a minimum before we go.  I'm continuing to put away bits and pieces of food for Christmas and am going to make up a kind of hamper to take away with us.

In other news, the sealed box challenge was a complete fail this year, as I hardly put any money into it. Some of the change in it has been used to pay for a school trip for LB and the rest I am going to use for charity donations, as I often like to give to homeless people I meet when I'm out and about.  I know not everyone approves of this kind of charitable giving, but it must be tough in winter to live on the streets and if I can help in any small way, I am happy to do so.

I do have to admit that my good intentions of giving to the local food bank fell by the wayside earlier this year, so I am also hoping to make a large donation of food this Christmas, to try to make up for it and then resume giving regularly in the New Year.  I'm hoping the budget will allow for this, but it may have to be done over a couple of months instead of in one month alone.  I would also like to pay for at least one person to attend Crisis at Christmas here in London, but I may have to rope OH in to do this as he did last year.

That's quite enough to be thinking about for one month, so I'll let you know how I get on at the end of the year.  (Gosh that sounds so weird doesn't it - another year almost over, and a new one soon to begin - like the song!)  I have already started thinking about my aims for 2016 and will probably do some kind of post at some point.

I hope you all have a good month.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

November Favourites

This month's favourites are a very mixed and random collection of things.  The first thing I've really enjoyed this month has been in the category of food and more specifically, low calorie snacks.

In an attempt to keep my weight stable, I rarely buy fatty snacks and crisps and instead tend to regularly buy SnackaJacks corn snacks to enjoy with my salad for lunch, or when I fancy a savoury snack treat. I tend to buy them at Home Bargains where they are the cheapest I've ever found them, but the other week they'd totally run out and I was shopping elsewhere and came across an interesting alternative at Waitrose, namely these Lentil Waves from Burts.

They are low glycemic index snacks, free from hydrogenated fats, msg, artificial colourings and flavourings and although they aren't as low fat as SnackaJacks, they have only 99 calories per 20g bag and 3-4g of fat, so they are a good alternative when I want to change things up a little. They come in packs of six for £1.99, (not exactly inexpensive) but the sour cream and chive flavoured ones I tried were very tasty indeed. I really enjoyed eating them this month and will definitely buy them again.

Another favourite this month has been this candle that I bought last month on a visit to Home Bargains with  LB.  It is a Pomegranite Blossom Fragranced Candle and cost just £1.99.  I don't think that it is soy wax, which I do prefer, and it has quite an artificial though nice smell, but for the price I was prepared to overlook these two minor issues, as I liked it and the glass jar alone with lid, was worth the price, for it's potential to be re-used when I start to make my own candles.

On a different subject, a gardening favourite this month has been this coconut coir compost block that I bought from Oxfam.  It creates 9 litres of compost by adding 6 litres of water and leaving it to stand for 24 hours. I bought it after seeing a video by Christine Kobzeff on YouTube, where she showed you how to combine it with perlite, grit and cacti/succulent compost to make a great potting compost for succulents.  This block is also a sustainable alternative to peat and is fairly traded and the packaging is paper and therefore easily recyclable.  I'll see what results I get with it and I might use it for other purposes too.  It cost £2.49 at Oxfam for this block and is a lot easier to carry home than a 10 litre bag of compost.

My last favourite this month has been a beauty item that I purchased online from Ethical Superstore. It is this Brown Sugar Organic Shampoo from Danish Brand Urtekam.  At only £5 this shampoo was very reasonably priced for an organic/natural/cruelty free brand and having used it all month, I have to say that I haven't really had any adverse reaction, it cleans my hair well and lathers well .  I re-ordered this along with a 500ml shower gel, both of which are currently have 20% off  and are £3.99 and £5.48 respectively.  I would also like try their conditioner and shampoo in other scents too. This is definitely a possible contender for a regular shampoo.

That's all for this month.  I'll be back next month with a special Christmas Favourites edition of this post.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Saturday Morning

Saturday morning this week was all go.  After a brief lie in with my current book, LB had a friend coming round and as our bathroom was in a bit of a state, it was a good excuse to have a bit of a clean around upstairs.  I haven't had time to do it for a few weeks and the carpets were looking pretty messy too.

A quick whizz round with the hoover soon sorted it out.  It took a bit longer in the sewing room as there were remnants of my business activity with fragments of fabric all over the carpet, but it looked a lot better afterwards.  LB had added lots of books to the pile for donating, as she'd had a bit of a clearout of her room again, so these had to be worked around, but she has certainly boosted my decluttering total for this month which was pitifully small up until that point.

I felt pretty overwhelmed at times by the stuff in our house, the linen came tumbling out of the cupboard when I went to get some new duvet covers out, things came tumbling out of the mop cupboard when I went to get the mop and bucket out and then the stationery drawer in my sewing room started to annoy me, as I was trying to tidy it up.  All of this happening whilst the sun was shining outside and I was working up a sweat as if I'd done a class at the gym.

You just know that there's more you need to do on the deluttering front when the above things happen.  I have got a potential solution in mind for the linen cupboard though, I'm hoping to get rid of it altogether.  I might buy another storage solution to replace it and store the linen as the current arrangement is just not working for me lately. Even better, as we need a new bed, I'd like one with divan drawers which could potentially serve the same purpose. I'm not sure if it will happen yet, but we'll see.

Moving on, the bathroom got a quick clean (as opposed to a deep clean) and I mopped the floor and changed all the linen.  All the bedding got changed too, which was also overdue.

I've been so busy preparing and sending out orders, attending appointments and days out, etc. that the housework has suffered and I've only managed to keep up with the minimum.  It doesn't worry me unduly, as I'm sure that I won't look back on my life and think I wish I'd cleaned more, but it does feel good to get some cleaning done and for some areas to look and feel a lot fresher.

In addition, the money I'm earning this Christmas through all this busyness is going towards something quite important, which I'll discuss in another post.

Anyway, it was 11 am before I got to sit down and have some breakfast, followed by posting out a few orders and then getting down to some serious blog reading and YouTube catching up, the latter as always whilst doing the ironing.  I felt I'd done a days work already though, so deserved a little bit of a break.

I'm hoping that this weekend is going to be a quiet one where I get to catch up on things I've left undone for a few weeks.  I want to get started on Christmas cards soon, make an advent calendar for LB and finish off a bit more Christmas shopping online. I also want to work on a few blog posts as they've been a bit thin on the ground lately. We haven't got much planned save a possible cinema trip to see the new Mockingjay movie at some point, so I should have plenty of time to get productive.

What have you got planned this weekend?

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

A Quick Catch Up Post

I'm afraid blog posts have been a bit sparse of late.  Partly due to lack of inspiration and partly due to life being a bit chaotic after OH's  accident. He's recovering well and feeling a lot better this week, thankfully. Just lately there seem to be a lot of interruptions to my normal routine. I've also been kept very busy making up orders for my business to send out in the lead up to Christmas, which I'm not complaining about as it is all good.

Life does seem to speed up in the lead up to the festive season, doesn't it? Even though I've done most of my gift shopping and don't need to head out into the crowds, I still find myself rushing around and getting a little stressed for no good reason.  As a consequence, I'm changing around some of my gym classes next week, so that I have at least one less round trip to do, which means a bit more time to get on with other things (i.e. cleaning the house before the decorations go up, would be a good one!)

The lead up to Christmas this year, seems to be coinciding with lots of appointments for opticians, dentists, MOT's, blood donation, hairdressers, etc., all of which I'm trying to fit in before we head north, with varying degrees of success.

Today, however, I'm taking a day out from it all and my friend and I are heading off to the Ideal Home Show at Christmas once again.  Our yearly jaunt with free tickets courtesy of  I'm looking forward to an enjoyable day out.

It's 7.20 am now and I've been up for an hour, I have showered, got dressed, had breakfast and caught up on blog reading, all of which is virtually unprecedented for me, so I thought I'd do a quick catch up post.  I need to be out with the dog in the next hour, so that I can meet my friend on time to travel to the show.

I will try to post about our day, if I remember to take some photos, often I forget and just enjoy the experience.  I have another post coming up soon regarding my winter capsule wardrobe.  Now that I'm finally happy with the contents of it, I've created a post about it.  I just need to photograph a couple of items and it's there, so I hope to have it up by the end of the weekend.

I hope all's going well with you and I'll try to get back to more regular posting soon.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Changing It Up (Handbags)

As anyone who has been reading my blog for a while will know, I am constantly thinking about what to edit from my wardrobe, home, etc. The other week, as promised in my last Getting Tough on Stuff post, I decided to go through some of my handbags and managed to put aside a few for donation.

A couple of the bags were nice leather handbags, one of which I've hardly used and the other being one which I've used quite a lot for a couple of years. Both are cross body bags, as I always used to like this kind of design, especially ones with lots of outer and inner pockets to house all of my bits and pieces.

More recently, however, I've been carrying a lot less around with me. Who needs to haul a whole load of things around everyday, many of which never get used. As I've changed over bags, I've omitted to transfer some of the contents and found that I actually don't need all that 'stuff' with me all of the time. Instead I'm keeping life a lot more simple.

I've also changed the style of bag I like to carry in the last year. Gone are the bulky cross body bags and in have come a series of backpack style bags, the latest of which will be this one by ASOS, that I ordered the other week. (Yes, I know I wasn't supposed to be spending on me until next year, but this one slipped through the net when I was Christmas shopping for LB)  It was on sale for £19, so it wasn't to onerous a purchase and I'm very happy with it.

Image 1 of ASOS Zip Top With Side Zip Detail Backpack

My previous ASOS backpack style bag (pictured below) has been used pretty heavily this year. It's been my main bag on two foreign holidays and has been carted to the gym and out and about every day for at least the last six months.

Image 1 of ASOS Zipper Backpack

However, the dog's had a bit of a chew on it lately and it's starting to look a little tired. In addition, it is a little casual and I've gone for a slightly smarter and more minimalist look with the new one, that will easily go from day to night if necessary.

I have to admit that I still do like the old one as it was so easy to use and practical and it has served me very well for the £19 I paid for it, but I will be passing this one on to LB, as she has for a long time secretly coveted  it. I'm sure she'll get lots of use from it still and will probably take it to school on those days when she doesn't have a heavy load.

The thing for me about backpack style bags, is that travelling around in London or anywhere else for that matter, it is so good to have your hands free and not to have to worry about your bag slipping off your shoulders. They are particularly useful in this respect when you want to go anywhere by bike, which I occasionally do.

Another reason why I've liked the particular bags that I've been drawn to lately, is their distinct lack of obvious branding.  I don't want to be a walking advert for a brand, be it high street or high end and I'm certainly not trying to impress anyone with my taste or the size of my wallet.

I did think about buying from brands such as TOMS or MATT & NAT, but they were a little out of my price range for now and anyway, isn't that just another form of recognizable branding, be it a more ethical one. I'm not turning all No LoGo on you guys (yet), but I'm happy to exercise a bit of discretion in this regard.

The cost of the last couple of bags has also been a plus factor, as has the fact that they aren't leather. I sometimes think that leather bags, shoes, etc that you pay big money for, are often the ones that are the hardest to declutter, as you've invested so much money in them and for me anyway, they rarely earn their keep before I decide I no longer want to use them.  They get stored in the top or bottom of the wardrobe, ready for me to pick them out and use them and invariably I don't, but can't quite bring myself to part with them either.  This time around I have decided to part with a few, but there are still a couple more there that the jury is out on and I might yet have to send them packing too, regardless of what I paid.

On the shoe front, once one of the bags went, so did one pair of shoes that matched it in colour and a pair of ankle boots hit the donation pile too, as they'd always been a little too big,  LB didn't like them, so I couldn't offload them on her and they were now looking a little scruffy.  Besides, I'd earlier in the year bought a new pair of Chelsea boots that I like much better and wear all the time, so I no longer needed this pair.  Thinning things out like this will definitely mean that I get more wear out of what is left. Well, that is the logic anyway.

I think from now on I'm going to be much more considered in my purchases and think more about what fits with my lifestyle and personal habits rather than seeing something, deciding I must have it and then a couple of months down the line thinking I don't actually like it that much.

These days, I tend to have definite wardrobe favourites, that I wear or use virtually all the time. They are often not expensive items, but just things that I feel suit me, so it's not really necessarily a matter of buying better quality. By making sure before I buy, that I really really like something and being sure that it will become a firm favourite, my wardrobe should only contain favourite items and I should be able to avoid inappropriate purchases. This in turn, should mean that everything will get worn much more often.

How do you approach clothes buying?  Do you get seduced by online sales or sale bargains in the shops and then regret purchasing them?

Thursday, 19 November 2015

A Wonky Wednesday

Wednesday, this week was all a bit skew whiff here.  Usually, I'd be off to the gym first thing and then back home afterwards to get on with housework and other work.  However, on account of OH having a cycling accident at the velodrome on Tuesday night and spending most of the night in A&E, all the cards were up in the air.

Having taken a taxi to the A&E, the car and his bike were left at the velodrome.  Luckily, the hospital is just up the road from where we live, so he was able to walk home when they'd finished with him there.

The result of his crash was a broken collar bone, so he came home in a sling and won't be cycling for a number of weeks.  I was just grateful that it wasn't any worse.

He'd been coming home for weeks with stories of the various crashes that had taken place, so I suppose it wasn't completely unexpected that he'd be on the receiving end of an injury at some point. I believe it's quite a competitive environment.

Anyway, we still managed to get a good night's sleep, despite getting to bed late and despite the pain he was in, so much so that we all woke up late and as LB was due on a school trip the next day, I had to jump out of bed and make sure she was up and ready to get to school on time and with everything she needed.

By the time I'd then helped OH get dressed and got ready myself I was late getting out with the dog and as I didn't have the car, my aerobics class hit the dust.  I didn't mind too much, as I needed to finish and drop off my shoe box for Operation Christmas Child and pick up the car.

I was more irritated by the fact I couldn't cancel the class, as the switchboard doesn't open until 10, when my class was due to start, so I'll incurr a £3 fine as a consequence.  I may try and argue my way out of it when I'm next there and see how far I get!

Anyway, the dog got a slightly longer walk as I wasn't so time constrained, I left OH watching a film (I think he was in a bit of shock) and then I caught the bus to the local mall to drop off the box and did a tiny bit of Christmas shopping.  It was annoyingly busy, even this much time before Christmas. I'm just glad I'm almost done and don't need to go out nearer the time.

On the way home I picked up the car and then came back home for a late lunch and to do a bit of work to post off some orders before the last post.

Not a lot of the usual stuff I do got done, the ironing basket stayed full, no laundry was done.  Dinner was a meat pie and peas that I could cook from frozen, as in all the chaos I'd forgotten to take anything out of the freezer.  Oh well, tomorrow is another day.  We're all okay and that's the main thing.

When OH rang his mother to tell her of his accident, apparently his father and brother had both injured themselves in different accidents in the last week.  She'd been waiting for the third accident. Hopefully, that's it for a while now.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Operation Christmas Child - Samaritan's Purse

Last  night, when I was catching  up on watching a few YouTube videos, I came across one about donating a shoe box of gifts for a child somewhere in the world, that wouldn't otherwise get a gift this Christmas.

I could remember doing this sort of thing many years ago, so out of curiosity I took a look on the website of the organisation concerned, with a view to taking part.  The organisation was called Samaritan's Purse International Relief organisation, a Christian charity, who are running this operation in conjunction with Shoe Zone and other stores, who are the designated pick up points.

I was a bit behind on watching videos and this one had gone up a week or so earlier, so I was surprised when I checked the website and saw that today was the last day for donations to be dropped off, but I decided I would do it anyway.

As a consequence, the rest of the evening was spent scouring the house for suitable items to put in the box.  All of the items have to be new and unused and there are guidelines about what is and isn't suitable, which is useful.

They mainly ask for stationary, toys, hygiene items, etc. and you can include a note and photo for the recipient if you wish.  They also ask you to donate £3 towards the shipping cost for each box, as they can get shipped all over the world.  You can donate the £3 on line and print off a barcode, so that in the New Year you get to know where your box went, which is what I did. This barcode then gets stuck inside the box.

I chose to donate for a girl aged 10-14, the same age group as my daughter.  It was surprising what new and unused items I found around our house that could go into the box.  Here's some of the things I sent:

Hat, scarf and Easy tease hairbrush.

A few toiletries.

A pom pom maker and wool

Some sparkly lights and sparkly stick ons.

A few bits of stationery and washi tapes.

And lastly some hair ties.

Here they all are in the box, the lid of which I wrapped in Christmas paper.

I just want to buy a couple of extra things tomorrow, before I  take it in to our local participating Shoe Zone, i.e. batteries for the lights, a pencil sharpener, toothpaste and a colouring book and pens.

Hopefully, whoever receives them will enjoy opening and using the items this Christmas.

It's scary to think that we had all this stuff and lots more, just lying around unused in our house, when some people in parts of the world where natural disasters are occurring or there is war or famine, have virtually nothing.

I'm afraid it's a little late now for anyone else to send their own box, but you can send one via the website of the organisation concerned, where you can curate one that they put together for you for £15, if anyone is interested in doing this.

Maybe  next year I'll get my act together sooner and be a bit more considered about it, but I'm happy to be taking part and sending something this year.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Hurray for Poundland and 99p Stores

Last week, I was out and about quite a bit and popped into a new Poundland store that's been built up the road and another 99p store at another destination, which is something I haven't done for a while. I've already blogged about finding 4 books in Poundland for £1 each, which was great, but I also found some organic food bargains today in a 99p store.

I was really surprised to find organic items on the shelves, as I'd never seen ths before.  In fact, I saw four different organic products for sale in there.  Granted, a couple were organic in accordance with US or European laws, which I believe are different to those we are governed by here, but I'm not too worried about that.

Here's a picture of what I did buy on this visit:

The cartons of kidney beans were two for 99p and it was these that were certified organic in the US. The Seeds of Change stir in pasta sauces were 99p each, but as this brand are generally priced at over £2 in regular supermarkets, I was very happy with this price.  Not quite sure about the flavour, as it is Tomato and Olive, so I only bought two, just in case we don't like it too much, but if we like them I'll be heading straight back to get some more, if they're still in stock.

Just for information, they also had Seeds of Change 400g Korma sauce jars which were just 99p too. Unfortunately, we don't really like Kormas, so I didn't indulge, but if they'd been Tikka Masalas, I'd have filled my basket!  I think the use by dates on these products are quite near, as in the end of December, but I don't let this worry me too much.

In addition, I did see some Organic Grapefruit drinks also on sale in there, but didn't buy these as they were a little high in calories for me.  Very encouraging though, that some organic goods are on sale in these shops.  I'll definitely be visiting more often from now on.

Finally, the last bargain from the 99p store was this pack of 5 mini Hershey's Cookies and Cream chocolate bars.  I know that this is a favourite of LB, so I bought a pack so that I could use one per day in my homemade version of an advent calendar, which I tend to make every year.  That's 6 days now accounted for - just 18 more to go.

Before I go, I just want to mention one more bargain I found in Poundland the other day, which was this lovely feather print scarf.  It's just a regular length neck scarf made of a lightweight, but cotton-like polyester fabric.  I really like it and have worn it several times since purchasing it.  Great to brighten up a plain outfit and ingest a bit of interest into my winter wardrobe.

So, next time you're in the pound shop, take a good long look, as there are definitely some quality bargains to be found in there, if you look hard enough.

Monday, 16 November 2015

More Grocery Savings

Well, after posting the other day that I had used the last of my Waitrose vouchers and was now free to shop where I pleased, (well, I always was, but just didn't want to miss out on such big voucher discounts) sure enough more vouchers plopped onto the doormat, again from Waitrose.  I realise that it's all a ploy to get you shopping with them in the lead up to Christmas, so that continue to do so over the festive period and beyond, but I'm happy to go along with it, whilst it means my getting my groceries for less.

In all honesty, I didn't need too much this week, as we went to France at the weekend, to do a supermarket shop.  We thought about not going, in light of what happened in Paris, but the ferry was booked and paid for and we were only going to Dunkirk for the day, so we decided to go anyway. It was our way of making a stand against the horrible violence.

Quite a few things from the weekly shop got put into the trolley, mainly cheese, yoghurts, etc., which reduced the shopping list for this week.  We also have enough coffee and alcohol to keep us going well beyond Christmas and probably well past Easter too.  I'm not sure we would do another day trip of this kind, this was the first time we had done our once a year French shop this way, as it is much more economical to tag it on to the end of a trip to France and much less stressful.

Having said this, it was interesting to see that there was a whole section of organic foods in the supermarket we visited and I did indulge in buying a few staple groceries, such as wholewheat pasta and branded tomato ketchup, which came in quite a bit cheaper than it can be bought for here.

Despite this, I still managed to spend more than the required £75 spend today at Waitrose, to qualify for the £16 discount, largely through buying a couple of things for Christmas, and stocking up on some organic meat and jars of sauces that were on a very good offer.

They were all things that we use regularly and will get put into meals for the remainder of the month.  I can definitely see me not needing to use one of the vouchers next week though.  I don't think I'll even go to the Waitrose store, as I won't need enough to justify spending so much and anyway, there won't be room in the cupboards and freezer for anymore stock piling.

I got a total of £19 off my shopping, which was definitely worth having and we've probably got enough food in now, to last us through most of the rest of the month, save for replenishing fresh foods each week. I'm still within budget for food too, although OH paying for the French shop did help.

In addition, I'm slowly starting to squirrel away bits and pieces of food for Christmas.  I'm not buying anything to freeze, as we will have to defrost it to take it all up north and won't be able to re-freeze it, so any meat will have to be bought there nearer the time, but other things such as nuts, chocolates for the tree and other dry goods are gradually being put aside to save us spending too much in the week before Christmas.  I'm trying to keep this Christmas as simple as possible, as the fewer tempting, overindulgence inducing food items we have to hand, the less likely we are to overindulge.

In other news, the spare freezer got shipped off to relatives at the end of last week, so we won't need to take it with us, which is a relief.  OH is happy to get the corner of his office it occupied back and I'm happy that there is one less unused item cluttering up the house.  At least it will get used regularly where it is going.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

More 'Natural' Perfume

Since embarking on a more natural beauty routine for the past 6 or so months, I've really missed having a perfume that I could wear on the few occasions that I go out anywhere special.  I have been using a Neal's Yard blend of essential oils, which I have now really got into using on a daily basis and I like it, but it isn't a strong scent and does tend to wear off pretty quickly.

Anyway, after watching Rachel from All Natural Aspirations on YouTube, I heard about a company called Eden Perfumes, which sells similar perfumes to some of the famous perfume brands, but made largely from essential oils and other natural ingredients.  To be perfectly honest, I was a little sceptical, but Rachel found that they did smell like the originals (or the one she'd tried did) and that they lasted well too.

After feeling deprived for so long, I finally cracked and ordered myself a bottle the other day.  At £15 for 30ml (including postage), they are far cheaper than the similar branded versions.  I went for No. 404, which is supposed to be made from similar notes to YSL Paris, which is a longstanding favourite.

A few days later it arrived. I was quite excited to see if it did in fact resemble the original and to my surprise it did. It is largely made from natural and organic ingredients, bar one ingredient namely, alpha-isonomethyl ionone, which is regularly used in fragrances and fragranced products.  It can, however, cause allergic reactions, so there are restrictions on it's use.

Other than this, Eden perfumes apparently do not contain any nasties such as parabens or phthalates. I did, however, find the perfume itself gave me a slight headache when I first put it on. Perhaps this was because I haven't worn a 'perfume' for so long now, but it did subside within an hour or so and on subsequent use didn't affect me.  It hasn't put me off using it though and this will definitely be my go 'perfume' to for nights and days out.

When I put on the same sweater the next day, I could still smell the perfume from the night before, which was encouraging, as was the fact that LB said that I smelt like me again.  She remembered me wearing the original in the past.  If that isn't proof that it smelt very similar, I don't know what is. I may even ask for another different blend for Christmas, as there is another branded 'perfume' that I like that they also do a similar perfume to.

Here's a picture of the perfume and the box it comes packaged in.

The packaging is very simple, but not unattractive.  The perfume comes in a spray bottle that can be refilled. I believe that they are a vegan brand and they have shops in Brighton and Hove and take a stall at some Vegan Fairs, where you can get a refill rather than buy a new bottle.  If you are interested, take a look at their website

Please Note:  I purchased this item myself and this is not an affiliated post, nor am I sponsored by the above company.  I just thought they may be of interest to anyone who is looking for a more natural perfume at a reasonable cost.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Homemade Doggie Paw Balm

The other day, OH informed me that we'd run out of Doggie Paw Balm.  We tend to treat our dog's paws with it in the winter, as the wet and cold causes them to crack and get sore.

As a new pet shop had just opened on our high street, which I've been hoping for for a while, I thought I'd pop in on my dog walk the other morning and see if they had some.

As OH bought the last lot online, I wasn't sure how much it cost, I was thinking perhaps £5, but when I did see the price of the one in the pet shop, although it looked a big jar and good quality, I just couldn't bring myself to spend so much on it. (It was quite a lot more than my estimate!)  I decided instead that I'd look for a recipe online and make some.

As I carried on with my dog walk, I googled a recipe on my phone and to my delight I already had all the ingredients in my cupboard.  As soon as I got home I set to making it and within a few minutes I had several small pots of it ready to use. Here's the recipe I used:

(I checked this out on several different web sites and checked items for sale on Etsy and eBay, and most have the same or similar ingredients, so I'm 99% sure that this will be a safe recipe)

2tsp Organic Shea butter
2tsp Organic Coconut Oil
4tsp Beeswax Pellets
1tsp Sweet Almond Oil
1tsp Vitamin E Oil

I actually halved the ingredients for this recipe and then all of the ingredients were melted in a bain marie, before pouring them into small pots.  I'd just bought some pots on eBay in order to make my Peppermint Lip Balm for Christmas gifts. Here's the finished result:

Apparently, you can add Lavender essential oil to the mix, but I did read somewhere that you need to use therapeutic grade and mine is a cosmetic grade, so I didn't bother.

I tried it out on the dog.  She seemed to enjoy being pampered a little once she got used to it. She had no adverse reaction whatsoever and didn't even attempt to lick it off, so I will be using this regularly throughout the winter. I may even make a pot for some friends who have a dog. The best bit is finding a new and interesting way to use some of my stash of natural ingredients.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

A Few New Books to Read

On the dog walk last Friday morning, I stopped by the new Little Free Library again, to drop off a couple of books and see if there was anything that appealed.  What I found, aside from an autobiography of a cricket commentator for OH, was this book, which for some reason I fancied reading.  I seem to be getting more and more drawn to the idea of eating less meat and this just looked to be a very interesting read.

Later on the same day, I had to pop into the library with LB, for her to take back some books and I saw this book on the shelf.

I was looking at this on Amazon the other day, with a view to asking for it for Christmas, so when I saw it I thought, why not borrow it and save OH some money.  So I did.

The following week, despite being on a no buying of books ban, as I've got so many still to read on my shelves, I'm afraid I was a little naughty, as when I popped into Poundland the other day, I found four books that sounded like they were worth a read for £1 each.

Here they are:

One is by Lucy Diamond and I've read a few of her books over the last couple of years and have really enjoyed them.  This one sounds like a good read too.  The other three authors are all from the US and the synopsis on the sleeves sound interesting, so I indulged myself. I've often bought books from here and they've more often than not turned out to be good reads too. Definitely good value.

They will of course be shared around once read via the Little Free Libraries, so call them a future community donation.  Sounds much better than self-indulgence. I'm looking forward to reading all of these books.  Consequently, there could be some more book reviews coming in the not too distant future. Brace yourselves!

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Procrastinating Can Have Benefits

Firstly, I have to admit, that I am a great procrastinator.  If I can put something off until tomorrow, I generally will.

I've been procrastinating about a certain health issue for a couple of years now, but in the last couple of weeks my thoughts have been focused on this issue more than ever and I've suddenly felt compelled to do something about it, but not actually found the courage. (Don't worry, it's nothing too serious - I hope).

Anyway, for the past week I've even been losing sleep over it, as I've been waking at 5am a couple of times, feeling a bit panicked, and then not being able to get back to sleep.  On both these occasions I've got up and got on with quiet tasks that don't disturb anyone else in the household, which has in turn made the following day a little easier.

In addition, my procrastination has led me to do quite a few other things, which I've blogged about here.  You were probably wondering why I suddenly got interested in defrosting the freezer and de-gunking the bathroom.  Yes, procrastination works wonders on those jobs you hate to do, as it serves to make these jobs seem positively enjoyable.

The final distraction came last night.  I decided to declutter and re-organise my photos, both on my computer and on my phone.  I went through them all meticulously, created seperate folders based on what the photographs were of, distributed the photos accordingly and deleted any I no longer needed. It felt great and it will be much easier to find a photo to upload when I don't have to scroll past hundreds of holiday pics.

Perhaps it was the final straw, but you'll be glad to know that I actually finally did something about the issue concerned today.  I made an appointment to see someone. Hopefully, I can now get back to normal and can leave those not so pleasant jobs undone from now on.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Freezer Defrost and Reorganisation

Defrosting the freezer is one of those jobs that I really don't enjoy.  I know it's necessary and all that and I usually do it at least once a year, usually before Christmas.  Consequently, it was looking pretty bad and desperately needed a good defrost. I've kept waiting until I didn't have much in it, but it just wasn't happening.

We've got a second stand alone freezer in OH's office, (our basement) which I bought to store allotment produce.  In all honesty, I've hardly used it, as I don't have that much produce from the allotment as it is quite a small plot.

In addition, the noise and presence of it in OH's office isn't really appreciated and he wants to build some storage into the space it currently inhabits.  As his parents have recently been looking for a new under counter freezer, I have offered it to them.  We just need to take it up north with us next chance we get.

Before I lose it forever, I decided I needed to use it to help me defrost the freezer in the kitchen, which currently has quite a bit of meat in it.  It's well frosted up as the photos attest to and the ice is taking up precious space for storage.

We don't have a large freezer, just two shelves, so space is of a premium and in an attempt to re-organise the freezer a bit more satisfactorily, I decided to splash out and buy some new freezer containers to store leftovers and other loose things that I freeze, such as pesto cubes, tomato puree cubes, garlic cubes, fruit, home grown vegetables, meat for the dog, etc. Here's the stack of boxes I bought at Poundland the other day to do the job.

I spent £6 buying all of these, but it will be money well spent if it makes life easier when putting away the shopping every week.

I plugged in the other freezer and let it get cold overnight and then the next day I set about transferring the contents so that I could get on with the job.  Here's a photo of the freezer before I started work...

....and here's the end result.

A few things did get thrown away, mainly due to the fact that they didn't look too good and had been in there for far too long.  The chicken got removed to defrost for our Sunday lunch too, which freed up some room.  When it was done, it felt very satisfying to have a more organised and better utilised space. I'm aiming to use much of what is in here this month and whittle the contents down in the lead up to Christmas.

Sunday Shopping

I don't usually like to do my weekly food shop on a Sunday, well, not all of it that is.  I often drop into Lidl after the gym to get some basics that see us through the rest of the weekend and part of the week, but generally do a proper food shop on a Monday.

This week, however, was an exception, as I had my last Waitrose £16 off a £75 spend voucher to use up and after unsuccessfully attempting to order my shopping online and either collect it or have it delivered in time to still qualify for the discount, I decided to head to the store to make sure I could use the voucher before it expired the same evening.

I went to a different and closer store this time, one where I would normally have to pay for parking in the shopping mall where the store is situated, but with a bit of creative thinking, I managed to persuade OH to drop LB and I off to do the shop, whilst he walked the dog in nearby parkland. (He could park for free elsewhere)  He then picked us up when we'd finished and thus we avoided any ridiculously hefty car parking charges. They're a real bug bear with me.  I think if you are spending money in the mall, you should get free parking, at least for the first couple of hours, which was the case when it first opened, but it now costs at least £5 on a weekend, which I resolutely refuse to pay. I'd rather catch the bus in and have no parking charges or more simply not go at all.

Anyway, I digress and needless to say, it was very busy with shoppers on a Sunday afternoon. The till operator indicated that a lot of people had been using up their vouchers, so I obviously wasn't the only person to make a point of doing it.  I managed to get most of my shopping bar a couple of small items, which I'll pick up today and saved £19 in total by using another voucher I had.  A good result, but I'll be happy to go back to my normal shopping routines next week and not feel compelled to shop at any particular store.  That is unless another set of vouchers come winging my way in the mean time.

We were straight in and out, the only extra that went in the trolley were some chocolate Christmas tree decorations, which although not essential, will be put away for Christmas.  I like to buy the odd thing here and there so that nearer the time we just have to buy the fresh items of food that don't keep. With two bags full of groceries each, even if we'd wanted to, we couldn't even begin to think of looking in any of the other shops in the mall.  To be honest, there wasn't anything I needed or wanted to particularly look at.  Instead we headed straight home, for our Sunday roast chicken dinner, before I spent the evening catching up with Saturday's Strictly show.  

Next weekend, we're off to France for the day on Saturday, for our once yearly booze cruise, where we'll be picking up lots of wine and spirits for ourselves throughout the year and to give away as presents this Christmas.  I will be doing some of my weekly food shop there too, which will be a treat. I'm already looking forward to buying a whole heap of French style set yoghurts.  I just love them. It will also be the first shop I've done in France since I changed to eating more wholefoods, so it will be interesting to see what they have to offer on that front. 

Sunday, 8 November 2015

An Interesting New to Me Magazine

The other day, whilst getting a few bits in ASDA, I noticed this magazine on the rack and for some reason it called out to me.  Now I'm not a vegetarian, although I do use meat free products several times a month in my menu plans, but I thought I'd take a look as I'd never seen it before.

I was quite impressed with the contents.  Recipes, natural beauty, vegetarian gift/shopping guides. places to visit and other articles. I normally only buy magazines when there is a free gift I want attached, as I already get two magazines a month on free Tesco Clubcard subscriptions, but in this instance I decided to purchase it. It cost £3.99, but I have to say I'd probably buy this again, as it was quite a useful read and the ads in it are ones that would interest me.

If you like animals, veggie recipes, natural beauty (or know someone else who does) and want to read a glossy mag that isn't full of high end fashion adverts or if you want to buy a magazine subscription as a gift, you could do a lot worse than trying this one.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

It's Up

Well, it's up on line, not sure if it's on our TV screens yet as I haven't watched much TV this week. Christmas has finally arrived and there's no denying it from this point on.  Yesterday, I was emailed a preview link to the new John Lewis Christmas advert and couldn't stop myself from taking a look. It's called the 'Man on the Moon', the song I believe is sung by Norwegian singer Aurora and is raising money for Age UK.

They always manage to extract a tear from my eye, whenever I watch them and this year's is no exception. Their Christmas ads seem to have become some sort of UK moral conscience pricker, which is no bad thing. I'd like it even more if it wasn't encouraging you to buy something.

Check it out on twitter or here on YouTube.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Bathroom Degunk

(Although the title of this blog post sounds a little disgusting, it's not quite as bad as you might think, so please just bear with me.)

Inspired by Sophia's channel My Great Challenge on YouTube, I decided to have a go at tackling some of the gunk that has accummulated around our bath over the past months. Limescale builds up quickly here due to the hardness of the water here in East London.

When I clean the bathroom, one of main areas that always frustrates me is the edge of the bath underneath the shower screen.  Our shower screen hinges so that you can open it out and clean reverse, which as well as preventing you having to step into the bath to clean it properly, also allows easy access to the tap/shower hose area.  It makes life a lot easier, but the down side of this arrangement is that sometimes limescale and gunk accumulates underneath the screen which then requires special attention.

Usually OH has a good go at it with a razor blade and slices it off, but lately he's been preoccupied with work and we didn't have any razor blades, so when I saw it building up again and after being inspired by Sophia's no nonsense approach to DIY tasks, I decided to have a go myself.  Watch Part 1 of her current bathroom makeover here.

I do like watching Sophia's channel. She has done various makeovers in her home, tackling jobs that I would never dream of doing, all by herself. In addition she posts lots of beauty, cleaning, decluttering and organising videos which also inspire me.  I like the way she gets stuck into tasks that I would probably leave to OH.

Anyway, duly inspired I made a point of buying some razor blades from ASDA and headed up to the bathroom. Here's what the bath edge looked like before I started work on it.

It's very embarrassing that I let the limescale build up so badly on the outside of the shower screen/bath edge.  I'm really quite ashamed.  Anyway, after a couple of hours of scraping away with a razor blade, it was a completely different story.  I had to be a little careful that I didn't slice my fingers, but to be honest the blade soon blunted so the edge wasn't so sharp.

Although it still doesn't look completely like new, it is looking much better than it has for quite a while. I did have to remove the disgustingly dirty rubber edge from the shower screen. (It's currently lying in soak in the bath to see if some of the dirt which has found it's way into the middle of the rubber strip will clean up - if not I may have to try to source a new piece or put the old one back on).

Here's what it looked like an hour or so later.

So much better.

Whilst I was at work with the razor blade I decided to use it to resolve a couple of other simple issues that had been annoying me.  One was the scale that had built up around the bath plug hole.

Within seconds it had gone.

Finally, I also used it to remove this little bit of silicone stuck to the side of the downstairs toilet rim.

It had always annoyed me, ever since we moved into the house 8 years ago, because even when I cleaned the toilet, it never looked properly clean with this attached to it.  Why neither of us had bothered to do this before now, I just don't know. Anyhow, now it's been banished for good.


Thank you Sophia for the motivation to get off my backside and do a proper job of it.

OCD cleaners watch out, I'm coming for your jobs. (As if!)

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Catch Up Week

This week, I'm spending the week catching up with myself and getting back on top of things.  Half term holidays, although lovely, as they offer respite from normal routines, do tend to result in things slipping backwards and the ironing and washing in particular, getting a bit out of hand.  More so when we go away for a few days, as we did this half term.

Thus far, I haven't made much impact.  I have caught up on food shopping, banking, sending out orders, a thorough clearing out of the in tray on my 'desk' at the kitchen table and I've made a start on the ironing. Today, I'm going to continue to slowly demolish the ironing pile and get everything put away, before emptying the bins and starting on a bit of a sweep up and general tidy round. What an exciting life I lead.

I have to admit that I am guilty of being slightly distracted by online Christmas present and holiday cottage searches, as well as catching up with reading blogs and watching YouTube videos.  The cottage, however, is now booked and quite a few Christmas presents bought and the remaining YouTube videos will be watched as I iron. I just love multi-tasking. ;)

I still need to try to squeeze in an allotment visit, but the weather isn't really co-operating as it's way to wet to start digging up the ground.  I'm sure I'll get there eventually.

Looking forward to getting to grips with it all.  I'll report back when I'm feeling less overwhelmed.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Last Christmas

I've got to admit that this year I'm back to looking forward to Christmas.  Last Christmas was a strange one.  I was called to Jury Service two weeks before and in all honesty, it cast a long shadow over the lead up to Christmas, as I was preoccupied about how it would go.

As it turned out, I only attended for 4 days instead of the required two weeks, as very few cases went ahead and I never actually got sworn in.  It was, however, an interesting 4 days, in which I did a lot of reading and got an insight into how the crown court and jury service system works.

I have to admit that I was secretly very pleased not to have to sit on a jury and make a judgement in the week before Christmas.  I realise it's a civic duty and all, but it wasn't one I was looking forward to, mainly because of it's timing.  It was a great relief when we were discharged from jury duty and allowed to get back to our normal lives.

This Christmas will be very different, thankfully and I'm already starting to allow myself to get a little excited about it. For the first time, we're hopefully renting a cottage in Yorkshire, not too far away from family, so that we can easily visit everyone, but still retain some space of our own.  We've wanted to do it for a long time, but always felt obliged to stay with relatives, so it will be quite nice to have a Christmas which is a little more on our terms, whereby people can come to visit us instead of us traipsing around to fit everyone in.  (I realise there's no guarantee that they will!)

We're currently in the process of finding somewhere suitable, and it's no mean feat, as most of the best places have been let already. The fact that we'll have the dog with us makes it a little harder, as not all places accept them.  Hopefully by the end of today we'll have secured somewhere.  It will be interesting to create Christmas somewhere other than our own home.

In other areas, all of a sudden things seem to be getting a bit busy.  I've got various appointments to attend in the next couple of weeks, an evening Christmas Event at John Lewis, free tickets to go to the Ideal Home Show at Christmas, and OH has treated us all to tickets for Hairspray the Musical on tour. (We're taking LB, as it will hopefully help her to get into her role of Tracey Turnblad for the school production)

In addition, next weekend we're heading to Dunkirk in France for the day, to do a French Supermarket shop. OH has worked out that he saves the ferry costs buying his coffee alone and as he ran out last week, it's become a matter of urgency.  

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to continuing with the Christmas shopping.  I quite enjoy buying gifts for others and I am hoping to get most of it done and dusted this month, so I won't have to venture out when it gets super busy in the lead up to Christmas.  I don't mind going out and about and soaking up the atmosphere, but having to do the shopping amongst hoards of people, is just too much.

How is your Christmas planning coming along?

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Back into the Groove

Monday morning and it was back to normal for us after our few days away.  After cobbling together meals over the weekend, I finally got around to doing some food shopping, as although our cupboards weren't exactly bare, we didn't have all the things we needed for our usual lunches and for the meals on this month's menu plan. I could have changed things around a little, but as most of the food was in freezer, I didn't have the foresight to get anything out and defrost it. Never mind, we survived regardless.

I hotfooted it back to Waitrose to do the shopping again this week, despite the disastrous pick up a couple of weeks before, as I had another £16 off a £75 shop voucher to use.  This time, however, rather than order online and collect, I went and did my shopping in person. It took a while, as I'm not that familiar with the layout of Waitrose stores, but  I made sure I had a good look around, as they have quite a good selection of organic food.

Quite a few extras did find their way into the trolley, as they often do when I go to a new to me store, mainly because they had some good offers on, but most of these were things I needed in the very near future and some were alternatives that I've not seen anywhere else, so they weren't exactly non-essentials.

Although it's no longer Stoptober, I'm trying to keep to the same mindset of only buying essentials, rather than splashing out just because I now can and am no longer doing a challenge.  I no longer want to be as spendy as I used to be a few months ago.  Fortunately, any leftover money this month will be spent on buying Christmas presents, so once again, I won't be getting back into a habit of regularly treating myself if I've got spare cash.  I will be treating others instead.  I think if I can hold off spending on me until the New Year, I might allow myself a little splurge in the January sales if there is anything I see that I like or need.

(Apologies for this photo being upside down, my camera/picture folder is being a bit tempramental)

On a thriftier note, I picked up some bargain seeds in my shop, namely these 5 packets of Organic Little Gem lettuce seeds at 19p per pack.  They need to be sown by 2017, so well within date and useful to put in the allotment next spring.  How could I resist for that price. I bought the lot.

I made sure to claim my free newspaper, so OH was pleased to get an unexpected treat of his favourite daily.

I also picked up this recipe card for Apple and Blackberry Crumble Muffins.  The ingredients seem very simple and I have almost all of them in my store cupboard and freezer. I also have lots of bags of crumble mix I got from Approved Foods and can use up for the topping.  I may, however, be a bit more indulgent and drizzle them with chocolate instead of fondant icing.

And finally, I found another interesting use for crumble mix in the free Waitrose Food magazine, namely Mince Pies with spiced orange crumble topping.  I may try this recipe too. I'll let you know how I get on, if and when I get around to making either of these recipes..

I'll be shopping there again next week all being well, in order to use the final voucher I was sent.  I have to use it by Sunday, so I may do my weekly shopping a day early to take advantage.  I'm afraid I am a terribly fickle shopper and go where any vouchers I might have can be used.  Does anyone else do the same?

Monday, 2 November 2015

Getting tough on Stuff in 2015 - October

Well, last month after finally donating the huge pile of items that I'd gathered over the previous few months, October meant a clean slate to re-start the process of further decluttering.  I wasn't sure that I'd find much more to declutter, but as I continue with the process, I am literally finding more and more things that I no longer feel I want to keep.  This is very good news.

In October, I managed to find a total of 86 items to donate.  Mostly clothing, scarves and belts, but a few books, audio visual and other items were also found.  I had a good sort through my scarf drawer. I used to wear vintage neck scarves a lot and began collecting them, but lately it is rare that they see the light of day, so those that I no longer felt attached to for whatever reason, I decided to donate.

The audio visual cupboard also got culled this month and any dvds, cds and videos not watched or listened to, also got put in the donation box. When added to last month's running total of 1085 items donated so far this year, my current total now stands at 1171 and it feels great to still be making progress on this front.

Next month, I'm intending to go through my handbags and purses and donate a few that sit unused in the top of the wardrobe.  I may also take another look at the clothes and see what else can go. I'm also finally going to take all my old cassette tapes to the tip, as I don't have a player to play them on and never get them out. Although these won't count as they aren't strictly being donated, the time seems right to me now to let go and I tend to go with my instincts and feelings when it comes to decluttering, to avoid regrets.

If there is another give and take event next month we also have a couple of bicycles that can be donated, which will clear some space in the garden and I may also take another look at my costume jewellery, which I rarely wear, and see if there are more items that I'm happy to part with.  I'll report back on progress next month

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Stoptober Round Up

Well, Stoptober started well enough, but towards the end of the month it got a bit spendy.  Mainly on account of the wedding we were due to attend.  I had a last minute panic about my hair and bought a curling wand (which I did use) to make an extra special effort with it and a last minute panic about my outfit and bought a top to go underneath my dress (which was sleeveless). The top only cost £15, but still.

In addition to the panic over my outfit, I had a last minute panic about LB's shoes.  Her school shoes had to go into the cobblers at the last minute to be re-heeled (costing another £15 and very disappointing as she's only worn them for 2 months) and as I didn't want her to wear a pair of black jelly sandals, I had to buy her some boots.  I limited the damage to £18 plus £3 for some tights, which she needed for school anyway.  So things got a bit more expensive than I anticipated.

Having said that, it was worth every penny to feel happy about how we all turned out for the wedding and at least I didn't buy an expensive dress that will likely not get worn again.  The one I did buy earlier in the year, can easily be worn again and again throughout the year, when I want to dress up a little and the high for me sandals that I wore, and had also bought earlier in the year, turned out to be so comfortable that I danced the night away in them. Definite result.

I did also do another small bit of Christmas shopping on my credit card late in the month and bought some more toiletries and pet care items that I was running out of.  All in all, I did better than recent months, but nowhere near succeeded in stopping inessential spending. (Big Fail)

I did, however, come within my set food budget of £400 for the month. The first time I've set a budget for specific spending.  It was a totally different matter when it came to the household/toiletry/petcare budget. This was set a £50 for the month, but I managed to exceed it by 150%. (Major Fail again) Some of it, I do have to admit, wasn't compeletely essential, but will get used during November and beyond.

Talking of November, I've decided to continue setting budgets for spending on food and household, etc. and keep them at the same levels for the time being.  I find it interesting to try to keep within them and it helps motivate me to be a bit more careful.(Some of the time!)  Hopefully, next month I will come well under for both budgets. I'll keep you posted.