Monday, 31 December 2012

The Last Hurrah

I'm not sorry to see the back of 2012 - it's been a hard year. Whilst the media would have us believe it's been a fantastic time, closer to home I've not seen much evidence of good things. Friends with broken marriages, job loses, having to watch every penny, prices rising faster than salaries - there's a lot of misery. The exceptions being Olympic athletes and the royal family.
The esteemed PM has admitted things are not improving, but we knew that already.
I have to hope there will be some light at the end of the tunnel in 2013, preferably not a train coming the other way.
So, in 2012, I started a blog - a start, but must try harder.
I joined a book club, but work commitments meant I couldn't get to the meetings on time. Put this one on the back burner and maybe try again in the future.
Got myself a new hobby - quilting, love this, but such a big learning curve!
2012 was also the year I turned 50. It still sounds so old.

NYE won't see me partying. I'll just let the year slip away, thankful it's over.
I haven't, strictly speaking, made any new year resolutions, but things have to change.
Einstein famously said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I'll try to remember this in 2013.
Happy New Year to all.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Ask And You Shall Receive

During my short time in Blogland I've been lucky enough to receive several lovely packages of fabric and related sewing items from other bloggers. I don't know any of these people in the 'real' world and yet they were thoughtful enough to take the time and trouble to search out suitable goodies, pack them and travel to a post office. Not to mention the expense of the postage. How nice is that?
Getting a little parcel in the post is always great and makes a nice change from those envelopes with windows - they're not exciting, at all.
Yesterday, Frugal Mummy asked for some wool or knitting yarn for a project. I have unused wool, albeit odd balls, so I can send some.
I'm thinking this is a kind of pay-it-forward sort of situation and it encompasses the ethos of the type of blogs I like to read. Some are just about crafting, others have a frugal slant, none are about conspicuous comsumption and the commercial activity that we are bombarded with elsewhere. I like that.
If you are in a position to help out another blogger, pop along to and say hello.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Christmas Excesses

According to the BBC, shoppers in the UK will spend £3 billion today.

I'm happy to say that not one penny of it will be mine.
I hope you all had the kind of Christmas you wanted. I relented slightly and bought presents for my 11 month old nephew. I made a patchwork Christmas stocking for the toys to go into, but didn't get a photo. Doh!

Monday, 24 December 2012

Making A List Checking It Twice........

Well, I've checked and I discovered that despite the shops being closed for a whole day, I have enough food in and will not starve. I seem to be in the minority with this revelation, as (almost)everyone else is manically buying vast quantities of stuff they can not possibly need.
Oh well. it's nearly over for another year - no more inane Christmas music everywhere you go and no more interrogations about what I'm going to eat on Tuesday (does it matter?).
I hope you are doing exactly what you want to do, this Christmas and if possible enjoy yourself as well.

I made a quick dolls cot quilt for the daughter of a colleague - used up some scraps. I know my colleague had bought her a toy buggy (stroller!) for the the little girls' dolls, so I'm hoping this will prove useful. It didn't take long and cost almost nothing.
The other day, I saw this great idea - a patchwork bottle. Sounds rubbish, but actually was very effective. Will definitely have to give this a go.

Lastly, I want to say a big thank you to Angela at Tracing Rainbows for her kindness and generosity. Thanks. x

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The Perfect Nightmare Before Christmas*

I'm off for a rare night out, tonight. Really looking forward to it. I've been treated to a trip to the theatre. Don't go very often these days, as it really is so expensive - tickets, drinks, city centre parking - it all adds up.
I'll be seeing Carol Ann Duffy's Rats' Tales
It's had superb reviews and it's on at my all time favourite theatre -The Royal Exchange in Manchester.
*The title refers to the press review from The Guardian!

An update to say we had a lovely time and the whole production was excellent. Well worth going to see. Can't praise it highly enough.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Negative Equity

A month ago after selling a few bits on eBay, I received my first ever negative. My upset and disappointment wasn't really in proportion with the seriousness of this happening. There are, of course much more important things to worry about in life, but we all over-react sometimes.
What annoyed me the most was the injustice of it. I felt it was completely undeserved and as many already know, EBay protect buyers but not sellers. You can't leave a negative comment for a buyer, no matter how much they warrant it. This particular woman also chooses to keep her feedback private, so the option of leaving a positive and a carefully worded comment were out.
So I was left with a massive dent in my previously perfect 100% feedback. But I found a solution - of sorts!
Using the site I made a few purchases after looking at the penny auctions - found by going to:-
'eBay tools'
'Feeling lucky bargains'
'Penny auctions'

In reality, I've only actually won two things for 1p. However, the other things I bought have all been pence rather than £'s. I've stuck to buying either toiletries or craft items, with a strict proviso that it was stuff I'd actually use.
Almost all of the sellers are based in China, so you have to be prepared to wait a while for goods to arrive. I find that these sellers deliver faster than they say they will. I haven't had any problems with service or quality.
I did wonder initially how  they could sell for 1p (or 1 cent or 1 euro), but it looks like it is a calculated risk as many items go for much more. Just have to be careful not to get carried away when bidding.
Oh, and did I mention that on these auctions they are almost exclusively free p&p.
So, feedback score almost repaired, very little money spent and I often come home to a little parcel all the way from the far east!


Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Game Over....

At the risk of stating the obvious - it's flippin' cold out there!
The solution?
Curtains drawn, PJ's on. Dinner in the oven. Heating on. Heat seeking missiles (cats) fed and settled.
A sofa and a quilt - game over.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Long Payday Gap Menu

Like a lot of people I will be paid early in December. In my case a whole week earlier than usual. The downside to this, of course is the very long wait to January's salary. It's over 5 weeks, so the  budget needs to be managed carefully. I'm stocked up on a few non-perishable item, but need to replenish the basics. A detailed menu plan is in order. Apart from the addition of milk, fresh fruit and vegetables, I want to buy in everything in one go, to last me until next payday.
Just in case anyone thinks I forgotten that this is  December regarding my menu choices, I have to point out, I'm vegetarian and I don't do Christmas!

Here's what I'm planning for main meals :-

 Shepard's pie (with artificial Shepard's, obviously)
Lentil stew
Macaroni cheese
Cheese and spinach pie
Pasta pesto bake
Veg curry
Beans on toast
Mushroom quiche
Falfel, houmous and pitta
Veggie spaghetti bolognese
Quorn pieces and veg pie

Each one will be eaten 2 or 3 times over the (long) month and I'll cook double portions where possible. Either to have the next night or for lunch at work.
I've put my shopping list into Mysupermarket and they cost it at £62.05. This includes food for lunches, toiletries and cleaning products.
I've used Tesco prices to get the cost, but I know some things are cheaper at Aldi. I drive past a large Tesco on the way home from work and live within walking distance of an Aldi. So, no extra costs for petrol or delivery.
I'm going to allow £100 in total for this budget and will allow for a bit of flexibility, especially if I spot some good end of the day mark downs.
I a;so plan to use up much of what is lurking in the cupboard. So I'll be eating exremely well for less than £20 a week.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Busy Time Ahead

A consequence of my change of job is that I don't have regular working days. Weekends are a distant memory. So, this week for me, my weekend starts tomorrow. I have quite a lot to fit in!
In addition to the usual domestic drudgery, I have some projects planned.
Firstly, when I last saw my Mum, she gave me this booklet which she'd saved from a September issue of The Telegraph. It came with a heavy hint about how much she liked this cushion,
It;s a Cath Kidston design, made from old embroidered table cloths. I've found some suitable embroidered linen, although it's a bit tatty. It cost me a pound from, of course a charity shop.
I'm doing to tackle this and produce my own version. We shall see!
I've also to make up a patchwork owl cushion. All the pieces are cut, from newspaper patterns I made myself. It;s just a case of putting it all together.
If I have the energy left (I don;t work very quickly), I'll cut out the 182 squares I need for a baby play mat.
Progress update tomorrow.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Patchwork with Pizzazz

I saw this lovely book in Waterstones recently. I only went in for a quick browse when en route to somewhere else. I quite seriously considered buying it, but thankfully talked myself out of it. Not because there is anything wrong with the book, obviously!
When I got home, I did a quick search of the online catalogue for my local library. It wasn't available at my library, but another one in the borough had one. Just a case of reserving a copy and waiting for it to be transferred to my branch.
Ok, so it took 3 weeks, but an email duly popped into my inbox telling me it was waiting for me. There;s some lovely pictures and in addition to the quilts there are a number of bag projects. Well worth a read and all for free!

Back On Track

So, after a not particular short hiatus, I've decided to get back into the swing of blogging. I seem to have lost my way a little with this blog.
I'm not entirely sure what direction the blog should take. Anyway, I'll get back in to it and attempt to, at least, record my meagre attempts at crafty things!
Well, what have I been up to since last posting. My biggest change has been getting a new job. I've managed to dramatically cut down on the stupid mileage I was doing. So, big reduction on the petrol spend? Yes, but (isn't there always a but?) I've gone from a pleasant drive across the Cheshire countryside to a stop/start journey around the city. It's nine miles, but can take up to 1 1/2 hours some nights. This isn't fun.
During my second week, I was asked to work in Liverpool. Whilst travelling along the M62, I had a minor accident - no physical injury, but very frightening, not to mention expensive. Luckily, I had the AA to call on. I did, however have to stand at the side of the motorway for two hours.
This year has been strange and unsettling. I'll be glad to see the back of it. As for that other thing going on at the end of the month, I just have no interest at all.
I'm opting out!
Back tomorrow with something a bit more upbeat.