Monday, 31 August 2009

Day 23: Success

I like my dreams at the moment. I have an extension on the house. We've bought the land next to our house and doubled the size of our house so our kitchen is LOVELY and makes me enjoy cooking. There's an office so we don't need to keep work stuff piled up in our hallway and the children have nice big bedrooms and when someone comes to stay they don't have to sleep on an airbed in the lounge - they can use our very tidy 'guest room'. The other part of it is that Joel has a big old antique desk and sits and writes overlooking the big lake (yes just think of Love Actually). I don't think I'll mind if these things don't happen... but I like to believe that Joel, currently writing a book, will get published and that we might have something change that we can always tie to his hard work and perseverence and just the fact that he has got on and done something a bit scary but doing something that he is really good at. Whether or not he gets published, he makes a best seller that Richard and Judy like, my mum discusses it in her book club, or earns a penny from his efforts I will still think of him as successful in a way... simply for being really good at what he does... discovered or not. I think that we tend to be cautious about our expectations and assume the best things wont happen... or that we don't want to set our sights on something that might not happen... well I reckon nothing good happens when you expect nothing good to happen ... and so I'd rather spend my thinking time proud of my husband overlooking a lake whilst cooking happily in a nice kitchen with a collection of his books on the shelf -rather than assume he would be wasting his time! Well I've just been proud to see an old friend, Andrew Hawley, who I used to be in a band with, who went off to do drama at Glasgow ... I don't know if I ever expected him to be successful but he was just in, been on telly the last 2 night and available on DVD in Wuthering Heights and is in a film later this year. Why shouldn't he be? - he's good at what he does. One of the most crazy things about Joel is that he used to claim he was 'jack of all trades, master of none' and didn't see himself as the type of person who excelled at any one thing. Well, clearly, its often the case that the things we are really good at, we assume everyone can do to the same standard - so sometimes we miss getting stuck into what we are good at as we try to emulate something that doesn't come naturally and we have to work really hard to do - why? - that makes no sense. Why shouldn't the things we are naturally really good at not go well!
Here's a little excerpt of the 60,000 words so far of an extremely good book by a writer I totally believe in and am so very proud of, Joel Toombs.

Howie pulled his leg away in panic and floundered out of his way. He couldn't even make out now which out of the crumpled pile had spoken. He turned and ran. The ground began to rise and with the breeze picking up over his shoulders he quickened into it. He began to sail across the choppy slope in a diagonal tack into the wind. Faster and faster, remembering as if for the first time the exhilaration of the Whitby moors springing beneath his feet, cold and precarious. Freedom from the line was intoxicating; the realisation of months of monotonous longing. He skipped across the rocks, trousers slapping his thighs, negotiating the clumps; the exhilarating rhythm of the memory growing with the patter of machine gun fire. Figures appeared in the cold blue of pre-dawn before him, picking their way forward, stumbling; tripping; falling. He began to pass them. Some crept slowly, low to the ground, trying to pretend to the flying barrage of death that they weren't really there at all. Others mazed across the open ground in a bid to simply outrun the violently pursuing lead shot. Men fell as Howie ran; one man in complete silence, another with a piercing scream. Howie ignored them, immersed totally in the task of the race, his rifle gripped in the middle like a big stick chanced upon in his childhood haunts...
Before long He had made up all his lost time and was charging ahead towards the front runners. His competitors in the race were becoming fewer and as he approached the leading English; they appeared to have stopped, many of them and were hiding behind whatever they could; shell holes, large divots; sods of tall grass... A man caught sight of the running boy, “Howie! Howie! “Over here!”

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Day 22: Economy Gastronomy

Taking inspiration from this book Joel bought for me a couple of weeks ago I have started meal planning. I openly say I hate cooking and the fact that I have to think of things for tea everyday annoys me - I wish our bodies were just happy to take a holiday from eating sometimes to do other things for a change and that that didn't harm them in any way. Since that isn't case instead I dream of one day I might be a millionaire and first thing I would do would be to employ a chef. I'd rather clean, do laundry, decorate, wash the car... anything but cook everyday. However...I'm not a 'ready meal' person and totally hate the evil that is MacDonalds...you only have to watch 'Supersize Me' or play that old 90's computer game 'Theme Park' to know the ethos of businesses like these are totally wrong and I dont want to invest any pennies into keeping a business working which exists to addict people and destroy their health...it's exactly the same as smoking (Joel has never been in my bad books more than the time I found a happy meal toy in the car) My value is eating well, 5 a day, including superfoods as much as possible in your diet, homecooked food, avoiding processed anything where possible and so I do have to cook and I'm happy to say that I have children that do eat really well. Holly is amazing... I was particularly strict with her as a baby and now think its quite funny that she ate plain organic brown rice, food processed with water instead of packeted baby rice. She ate every kind of superfood and fruit and veg - all steamed or raw to keep the flavour and nutrients in. She now hates processed meals, cordial, fizzy pop... I dont have to try to make her eat good stuff - she has a naturally healthy taste. She has packed lunches at school - not because she is fussy- its a money thing and is quite happy to eat homemade seed bread, carrot and corriander soup and fruit while her friends tuck into crisps and tomato ketchup sandwiches... it does happen in real life... not just on Jamie Oliver!
So this book is aimed at giving you good recipes for good hearty food but with the aim to have a limited stock of ingredients which means less waste and better use of food. While a lot of these recipies still look a bit on the expensive side for us at the moment...anything involving salmon and filo pastry shouldnt really appear in a money saving recipe book surely! So using the few things I know I can cook on the cheap and healthy I'm using the inspiration of the no-waste idea and working a two week plan for meals. Prior to this we decide at maybe ten past 5 what we might have to cook that night... ummmm... not a great strategy. So I now have a shopping list which should cover every thing we will ever need which is 3/4 of an A5 notebook of writing... it's an exciting prospect that it ?COULD? revolutionise our shopping! My aim is to cut a third of our shopping budget to make space for Christmas... yes, I have started the present shopping!

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Day 21: What I have and what I haven't

On a bad note I worked out how long it is likely for me to pay off my overdraft and I was a bit disheartened... but that's if I'm realistic rather than hopeful ... and its been a hopeful mood that's got me £500 paid off in 2 weeks - which I actually don't think can have been possible! ... so I'll stay in that mood I think.
Today I have a terrible case of house envy. I've just been with my Mum and Holly and Elijah to one of my mums friends houses who was throwing a family party for her grandson (who Elijah calls his best friend). I always thought I'd grown up in a big house... but its all totally relative. This house was grand with the most beautiful garden... my dream garden of loads of levels and hidey places, a pond, a rope swing and just loads of flowers everywhere, creating loads of colours and levels but not at all tidy and kept back. It was the kind of place you could set a novel to. I didn't think people lived in places as big and lovely as that anymore... I thought everywhere vaiguely big got converted into 25 flats these days. I wonder if I'll ever get to live anywhere like that...? Who knows... its highly unlikely but it could happen!
BUT I do have... 1. to only make a snacky tea as us three are well stuffed on yummy grown up party food and have a serviette with extras in my bag! 2. Holiday presents from my parents; beers for Joel, Emmental cheese, loads of chocolate spread, coffee and some Jean Paul Gautier Classique pefume for me!! :D (my staple perfume and I have loved the bottle design since I was 14) and 3. BEST OF ALL I have the keys to a holiday for our family to go on!! Beths lovely parents have a cottage in the lakes and have very generously given us the keys to go. I saw a news article all about burgulars searching blogs and facebook to work out when people will be on holiday so that they can go rob them so I'll be vaigue but we are really really excited! After feeling run down and tired the last few weeks the idea of camping wasn't so appealing... but this place sounds gorgeous... the sort of place we can have a fresh air, outdoorsy (apparently theres an orchard!) sort of break with the added advantage of a roof!
Another night of Ebay listing ahead ... ooooh but tonight its X factor too so that can keep me company! I don't like Joel being away - I could never be an army wife.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Day 20: Phew and Hurray!



We've got there - we've made it to pay day without getting into any more trouble! Apart from a wasted half an hour on the phone to HSBC about our charges - they wanted me to call them to ask me if I was happy with my accounts ... I told them I wasn't happy with the way they've charged me, since they asked, and I was transferred twice until I spoke to someone totally unwilling to do anything to help but just to explain 10 times over what their charging policy is. Boo :(
So, as of now, pay's in, the new budget should properly kick in. AND as we've ended the month with a bit left...all be it on our other overdraft (interest free) it means I can have half of that for my overdraft... taking me to triple figures!!! Today we are on... £890.91 D! Celebrations!! Joel has gone away again and thankfully I have more than £14.67 this time and even took the children and treated them to a new pair of well needed wellies (went for the mothercare £5-plain colour -no bob the builders, tomboliboos or princesses which take wellies up to a tenner)- cos I really know how to treat myself on an achievement. :D Exciting times!

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Day 19: The real addiction


Good day today. I've had a proper day at work today without having to balance my TTD list and childcare at once. Joel goes away tomorrow again so he took the children swimming and to the park - fitting a weekend with Dad into just one day there! I spent the afternoon songwriting with Andrew, my brother and also our GoldDigger producer. I do really love songwriting and I've come away with loads to work on which I'm looking forward to... but as I was sat there I did feel extremely privilidged to be sat using the benefit of someone elses expensive equipment knowing that my job was paying for that and so allowing me to spend time doing something I love doing so much.
On the way home I called into the supermarket. I have not been for ages... a good month or so since I've been really disciplined at doing all the grocery shop online. I'd forgotten a few things; 1. My carrier bags, 2. How annoying it is when the cashier makes comments about the items you're buying - I actually loved it one time when me, rachel and beth were buying some things on the way to an event we were teaching at... we bought bits and pieces for the week and for our session. The guy serving me noted that I was buying 8 packs of 30 pencils by saying 'you going to be doing a lot of writing then?' (if he'd though about it he should have realised that someone who actually is set on doing a lot of writing does not go out and buy 240 pencils - a standard bic would do just fine) and he proceded to try to ask an interested question, or make a comment about EVERY item I was buying...until he got to the tampax...I found it funny as I looked at him expectantly and he looked uncomfortable and went totally silent. 3. I still need to be on cold turkey from that magazine aisle.
I went in for nappies and bread rolls. I spent £25. The online shopping doesn't allow me the option of value nappies - £1.48 for 20 - loads cheaper... but not if you spend £25 on them and bread! So, I have discovered is that I still am a recovering magazinololic. Now ,not all of my £25 went on magazines, but I did buy 2 and that was me being strict with myself. I know that the real reason that Sainsburys is better than Tesco is that Sainsburys has a HUGE magazine aisle and Tesco has a tiny grotty TV Quick sort of magazine corner- it makes the browsing experience a billion times nicer when there are so many to look at like in Sainsburys! Now, I justify my magazine obsession with my artistic tendancies... I genuinely love pictures... a good book MUST have a good cover and magazines, full of design, are just pages and pages of appeal to me. Last year I did the best thingever for me and used my tesco clubcard points for a subscription to Grazia and a subscription to Elle. Previous to this I would typically buy Vogue, Elle, Living Etc, Junior, Elle Decoration and Glamour/Instyle if there was a good freebie once a month, Look and Grazia once a week, and Elle the seasonal catwalk one once a season. I'm not into celeb gossip - I avoid anything that tells me what Kerry Katona or any ex BB housemates are up to -but like fashion, design and good articles. I dont want to do the maths - I dont need to to know we're talking about the price of a small yaght here. So using my tesco points meant I could avoid the magazine aisle all togther and saying to myself 'they're coming through my door, they're coming though my door' Elle cost £11 in clubcard points and Grazia £26.50... so you save loads if you'd buy them anyway. I get Grazia to get my 'whats in the shops' fix - so clothes mainly -and Elle is for artistic scrapbooking, design ideas, illustration and design and looking at photography... I dont aspire to the clothes in there. No matter how rich I was I can't see how I'd justify thousands for a new belt. So I have managed to get through the year with those subscriptions, a few extra Looks and a few Junior magazines... (those arn't avalable on Tesco clubcard deals but I wish they were.) Junior is my inspiring parent one - I think its brilliant and I might see if I can subcribe anyway... its great for creative ideas for childhood and every parent needs a bit of help! So I would be helped by renewing my subscriptions and staying clear again. I mustn't lose the battle now - and honestly you should see the bridal magzines I bought when I got engaged. I gave them all to my best friend when she thought it was nearly time for her boyfriend to propose actually and we couldn't even lift them between us. So off I go now to have some quality time reading my 2 magazines... its ok if you get your moneys worth and I'm sure I'll learnt a great money saving tip from Junior this month... will keep you posted.
My money still hasn't cleared on my overdraft so its still the same but I do have 2 items selling now on ebay and quite a few watchers... good good!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Day 18: A Wish List


Since I wrote the post about my yellow stereo and my Kylie album... I keep getting flash backs to that excited, motivated, satisfying feeling of saving up for something you really want. I probably have not had that feeling since I was 10... a very upsetting admission. All my life I've spent time dreaming about things I know I'll never be able to have, otherwise I find a way to squeeze chunks of the amount onto 10 different cards. When Joel and I bought our first car... well actually our second car... our church lent us money to buy a wreck at £350 which leaked green goo and stalled in the middle of busy innercity Birmingham junctions. It nearly killed us so we gave it back to the scrap yard... our second car, a desperate and urgent need, we put the whole amount onto a credit card. Our house was just a dream that would never happen until my parents gave us a huge great gift of money for a deposit. We never thought we could own anywhere but we have a home now and a 'very long term but more manageable than rent' mortgage. So we saved for neither of those things...
I am a terribly impulsive person... as soon as the idea has come out of my mouth then that's it- lets go. I used to drive Joel mad... he would think we were having a hypothetical conversation about some sort of storage maybe being useful in the hallway... I would have cleared space, checked measurements and be half way down the m1 to Ikea by the time he'd realised we were weighing it up as a serious option. We bought a playhouse this summer for our children for their birthdays. A huge purchase for us. The whole process went 1. See a picture in Junior magazine of happy children with a gorgeous playhouse, 2. Show it to Joel and go on about the values of a playhouse 3. spend the afternoon looking at prices and finding the best offer 4. Order it. That whole process took less than 48 hours. And yes... that too went on the credit card.
Everything that comes up is urgent to me. I have no space for perspective and I can hear myself now saying my most common words 'well... if we need it we need it' and thats my justification for getting everything we can't afford.
So my new project is a wish list... there are things we want and there are things we need. I need to learn the difference between these 2 things... that will come with time I am sure. My goal of my overdraft comes first but when thats done maybe I can save up for something ... before I tackle the credit card... I'll need a bit of a break by then at least?
1. I would like and quite need a digital SLR camera.
2. We aparently need new back wheel tyres on the car - not my first choice of exciting things to save for but if it becomes a legal thing we may need to fit that in pre-overdraft says the sensible voice of my husband- oh and to pay Joels brother back for the tax.
3. The Little Boots album
4. Some new boots this winter
5. A new pillow. Joel brought one home that was hanging around his office after someone never claimed it after a youth camp... yes I thought it was minging too to bring someone elses pillow home but its so comfy and now we fight over it - I only get it if I'm ill as a treat. I'd like another one of those. (We do have other pillows we can use in the meantime-that kind of sounds as though theres only one in our whole house)
6. An extension and the land at the side of our house with a brand new shiny amazing kitchen that makes cooking tea every night enjoyable - (This will happen when Joel's book is published and wins that Richard and Judy bookclub reccommendation and we get rich with royalties. He hasn't finished it yet but he'll deserve many royalties when he has... he is such a brilliant writer and I'm extremely amazed at his creativity.)
7. A trip to America. Joel's best man Nick - who lives in a tree in lake Tahoe is getting married next year and has asked Joel to be his best man... so at very least Joel needs to get a flight to America and preferably back... we have £100 for this already but have no idea how much it will be... a lot of Tesco clubcard airmiles probably.
8. A custom designed rag doll from an Etsy seller who makes a doll that looks like Holly.
9. A bag/purse I saw from accessorize that I fought so hard to resist and so far have won the battle but it is so nice and a really pretty necklace.
That can be it for now... I dont need to think of more things that can fight against each other to be first in line on DOMOD day (which of course stands for 'death of my overdraft day' for those of you who don't celebrate such a custom) oooh ... camera, camera camera

Day 17: A house full of jumble

So the lounge is full of loft... and my ebay listing biggest session ever has started! I've already felt that 'oh I can't be bothered to list all this' feeling but this time I'm thinking of the 99ps! I charity bag a lot of stuff... especially supermarket kids clothes... I'm not a fan... I don't find them much cheaper than nice shops but much less quality and no way as nice. And I don't think they sell on like other things do. Now that Holly is at school she's in a school uniform most of the time so she needs far less. I bought her a beautiful 70% off sale Monsoon green crocheted cardie that I love, she loves, its totally cosy and goes with everthing as its prett but also really snuggely. My mum keeps finding those cheepy knit tesco cardies on sale and buying them for her all the time. I don't like to seem ungrateful but I just don't let her wear them. I'm a real family photo lover though and I hate the thought of looking back at photos of our memories and my children being in nasty scratchy polyester polo neck cardys. and theres no point them wearing something yuk if they've got something nicer is there? So I'm now a condensed buyer. I'd rather have a few choice beautiful things that we've really chosen rather than tonnes of tesco sale. Elijah needs a little more but boys are simpler to dress. He has a few pairs of standard supermarket jeans and shorts and then I'll be more choosy and choose cute t shirts and hoodys. H&M is good for little boys if you like retro stuff for t shirts and hoodys. He's wearing his black batman t shirt today :) Holly's play clothes staple is again a supermarket pinny dress... which was £3.30 in the sale - but I bought it because it was nice not cheap - and then again a few cute t shirts to go under. I also buy clothes at least a year too big for Holly. I look at whether I can take something in to start with and then let it out in a years time, or whether it can morph into something else when she grows out of it. One of my favorite things she has is a dress...which I thought was really expensive... it cost £10 but I bought it for her for her first birthday because I loved the print on the fabric. Its a really simple A shape and I used the dress to draw a pattern from to make a dress for Holly to wear at my best friends wedding when I was a bridesmaid and Holly was a sort of honory baby bridesmaid, and now she still fits into the dress as a tunic top. She's 5! That's an amazing use out of my 'big' £10 splurge! But even now, as its maybe starting to be getting too small and may not last till she's 6... I'm wondering whether its a 99p ebay item or whether to use the fabric to make hair clips..? Seriously I could make back more than the dress was worth doing that! Right... decided.
So the other news is that I forgot I had money in my paypal from when my parents let me sell their extra days on their disney pass on ebay so I've transfered some across to the OD. I went on this morning to see if it had cleared ... it hadn't but we've had some lovely child benefit money and child tax credit paid in. Normally they are included in our bigger budget but because I've shared out the other payments I've had to make sure we've got enough... and because we're just hardly spending at the moment I calculate that I can use that or most of that this month for my targets! So thats a nice £172.80 going in I think...aaaaaaaaaaghH! My new figure is £1085.91 D I'm so happy! Can you see that second figure ... its a measly little 0! That WHOLE number will soon become 3 numers (and a dot and 2 more) instead of 4. A proud day that will be!

Monday, 24 August 2009

So...

... I get a phone call today with the offer of some office space for GoldDigger for £150 a month... all bills included. It would be big enough to store all our equipment (which is in a temporary, has been uninsured, place for the past year and has until autumn till we'll need to move it but have no where for it to go) and space for maybe 4 desks. Its a ground floor office with car park and good for loading and the other 2 offices would be used by our producer (my brother) and our web designer... all very cosy! It sounds amazing... it would be the end to the problem I have of hall full of all our merch, mics, stands, projector, girls course bean bags etc. this house was never designed to be big enough for a family of 4 and the property of a charity! So I'm hoping the trustees will look into it as an option... I know we dont have enough because we're also trying to raise enough for monthly upkeep of a van that we also desperately need... but it seems such a good offer and we've only got about a week to decide! My tidying and sorting and ebay selling would go so much easier! Plus, as we tend to work at our house I tend to cover any bills associated with working at home. Our bills have been high having generally between 2 and 4 people working at our house all week as well as a pre school child. I bet our bills would go down loads when Elijah is out at pre school and if I could work somewhere else. I'm really praying that somehow they just say yes- lets go for it!

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Day 16: The BIG Mess

Yesterday was a bit of a mad rush to start. Going to Hope City church has been great for the later starts but its not the sort of place you scrape back your hair and throw your scrubby clothes on... I've done that a few weeks in a row now and felt quite out of place... Hope City is an evening heels kind of place. I'm not an evening heels sort of girl at the best of times - even on evening heels occasions but I like the idea that people make an effort to go - sunday best n'all. So from there it was a quick get home, pick up a few things and off to our friends Robin and Anna' s for their housewarming BBQ. We had a great afternoon there sitting in the sunshine, eating food and chatting till the evening...all the time our children were entertained by other people or were sitting quite happily playing with toys ... its amazing how engaging other people's toys can be. We came home, put them to bed and fell asleep ourselves. Because of not feeling great, being out a lot, having a few mad rushes to get out our house is suffereing the big mess syndrome. We were having a discussion yesterday about what constitutes a grown up house. Rob and Annas house has that grown up feel ... partly because it has features like big vintage solid wood doors between rooms that have been collected from places like old solicitors, the bathroom has a free standing bath and one of those old school toilets with the cistern high up on the wall and the oven in the kitchen is huge. Its amazing. Another big reason is maybe that its tidy. I always find it amazing when people have furniture with surface space which isnt used. How amazing would that be?! Some other friends of our have a big dresser which table space wise has probably the same surface area as our dining table and everytime I've been over its been totally clear. We have a dresser which is always stacked almost to the ceiling with box models, letters to deal with, things that need a spot of superglue or sewing back together, giving back to people, or just things that dont fit in anywhere else. We are supposed to clear it once a week but it takes 5 minutes to get back to default. Our whole house is like that... I suppose the downside to being resurceful is that its hard to throw anything out incase it could be mended and used again, and creative people, particularly as Joel and I both do so much work from home, accumulate a lot of stuff. My dream would be to have an office, a workshop for Joel and a studio for me... so all my odd bits of fabric and sketchbooks, projects on the go would all have a space they looked at home in... and I can enjoy that in my active imagination... but the reality is this bomb site to be sorted the best it can be. So todays money making project... or money recaiming project is Ebay. In the longrun it will help he house... it should be a clear out even if the immediate next few week is the chaos of loft stuff everywhere. I have crates and crates in the loft that I get down, clean and then end up tidying back into the loft as I need a tidy house for something. I need to get some down today and see it through...there could be hundreds of 99ps sitting there! Anyway its free listing this week so it makes sense to do a lot now and we can, if we can get round to it, get rid of a lot of baby things now... the double buggy is ready to go... it has been for a while but a few months ago they were just not selling ... I'm not having 99p for that! ... but more recently theres been bidding wars on them again which means it could be a good time. £50 would be great. Though I don't like the bit of ebay selling where people have to come to your house I won't put it off any longer... its project overdraft time now ... so its serious.

Day 15: Guilty

Ok... I come clean ... I had a semi lapse of self control a couple of weeks ago and in all my talk of resourcseful weddingishness I did go and buy 1...actually 2 dresses to wear to the wedding yesterday. I was with Al and Louise a few weeks back and did the dangerous thing of trying things on... how impossible is it to discount the idea of having an item if you're stood there in something and falling in love with it!? For some reason though... I ended up... and I'm not even sure how... trying 2 dresses on at once. They're sheer and would have needed something underneath so in a rush I think I put them both on together and really liked what I'd done. The idea of a wedding in the woods just makes me want to dress as a fairy... no excuses...thats the way my mind works. So Al and Louise, not being the most disciplined of shopping companions (Al ran off to the till to get a top while we were still getting our bags together in the changing room because she'd told us not to let her -under any circumstances - buy anything), totally encouraged me to get them. I was strong and didn't... but lasted until the next available opportunity to get to the shops - consumed with the urge to get at least one of my dresses. I was going to make the other layer... but studying the pattern, teamed with the fact that they were silk meant that the cost factor was outweighed if I was to make a good enough version myself. So in the end I gave in.
I am all for recycling dresses... definitely... I feel sorry for celebs who are criticised for wearing something more than once... how depressing. I once read Cheryl Cole talking about a dress she LOVED but was photographed in so much the one day she wore it that she can never wear it again :( (well I don't feel too sorry for her actually... what a silly problem to have) but I am such a dress wearer and felt all my dresses have been worn so much recently. With my job in GoldDigger I am constantly having to wear dresses for stage wear and photos ...we don't yet have a budget for costumes so we rely on our own wardrobes so much. But clothes really are my vice. I love clothes, I love fashion, I love costume, I love fabric. If there's a cost to anything I will measure it against the price of a new top or coat... want to go out for a meal? Meal for 2...? £30 ish - the price of a new dress... or half way to a coat. But I'm not frivolous. I do impulse buy but only because I know what I like. I keep things forever and I mix and match things to wear them differently as well as cutomising and altering things with my faithful sewing machine. Because of this I am happy to see clothes as an investment.

This book is amazing... Its Vintage Darling by Christa Weil. Loving the cover I bought it a while back expecting a few handy tips on rummaging around charity shops and quirky little vintage shops that Sheffield is great for at the moment. It actually teaches you all about fabrics you should be looking for, workmanship details which make something worth the extra cost and even how fibres are made. Knowing this sort of stuff makes a huge difference to how I shop for everything now. Knowing what something is made from and how it is sewn means you can foresee how it will fall, fit when its washed, how long it will last for and I'm happy to spend more on things I can see as a good quality item. Primark is great but I know from experience now there are certain items, fabrics and designs I wouldn't buy from there. It may be a huge saving but I'd rather spend £50 on a dress I can wear forever than £8 on one I can wear once and then it will fit awkwardly because the lining is permenantley creased and no amount of ironing will sort it. It also means I can confidentaly buy certain other things from primark very confidentally as well enough made items. I haven't read it all yet but am excited to see what else I will learn from it. Interestingly I now stay clear of Zara - I've noticed the quality of their sewing to be terrible in loads of things I've got from there... knitwear has been ok but the seams on t shirts, tops and hoodies - kids and ladies are cut to skimpily meaning that in a couple of wears they just come apart in sections as well as a lot of the cotton being so thin that it gets holes in in no time :(
PS. Just to further justify my wedding spending on dresses I would like to point out that I teamed my new purchases with tatty cowboy boots from george at Asda- leather and 6 years old, (quirky weddings allow you to wear tatty cowboy boots, didn't you know?) a £1.50 primark belt, a £1.30 (70% off monsoon childrenswear) flower which I share with my daugher like all accessories! and remember I died my own hair...so not bad really.
Singing went ok... my voice wasn't great and my music stand was a sticky mess of snotty tissues and buttercup syrup which stuck all my music together but the wedding was just amazing so none of that mattered :)

Friday, 21 August 2009

Day 14: The resourceful wedding gift

Good job its a quirky sort of wedding I'm going to... yes this is my gift bag! Could have been done to a different taste but nothing like a recycled brown bag with a duck sticker on it! (The writing is the right way round but photobooth takes pictures mirror image) So Amy and Kenny get married today. Aim has always been the most resourceful person I know... she makes her own clothes our of bizarre remnents of fabric, jewelry out of old cutlery etc. She met Kenny, who the first time I met him was wearing a jumper he had knitted himself out of wool he'd collected himself from a sheep.
So today its their wedding... reception is in the woods and we're all taking something along. I've made a carrot cake and the topping is so nice Joel and I have just made ourselves feel sick eating too much of the leftovers. Their gift list was at John Lewis but it said firstly dont get them a gift, secondly 'or make us something' and thirdly the gift list option. Knowing them I'm happy to give them something I've made... so they get some jam - which Holly has made some nice labels for as an enthusiastic designer and typer- age 5 and I've knitted a scrummy hot water bottle ... which isn't actually a cheap option as if I make something it has to be good stuff - so good wool and gorgeous little swirly wooden buttons, and as a new and very slow knitter - it takes ages! The kids will go in dressing up... we're really excited! I just would like my voice back and better as I'm singing and practice tonight has left me a bit worried as my voice has gone slightly awol as a result of being ill :( come back please! Had a good pray with Louise about it all and am amazed at how much better I feel considering I thought I'd have to miss the whole day before. God is really very good.

Day 13: Hair dye

Right... I have 10 minutes... because i have hair dye on my head and it takes just 10 minutes. I'm also fairly uninspired and grumpy today ... having an ill day and trying to ensure I get better for a wedding tomorrow. Had loads of things I wanted to write about but my head doesn't seem to be working ... I can tell that by the amount of hair dye I have splattered all over the bathroom... eek! But actually my hair dye itself has been a conscious money decision I've made this year. I used to go to the hairdressers to get colour done... I vowed after so many hair dye disasters that I would NEVER do it myself again ... but thats when I was blonde. This year I decided to go dark... and I figured if its just brown I can't go too far wrong. So far though I've dyed it accidentally ginger, accidentally black and then the following time light brown... resulting in still quite black hair but with blondish roots - not a good look! So now I am very careful at studying the hair dye available to see which is the most boring, safe brown available. This is medium ash brown... sounds safe... but still more interesting than my nothing coloured natural hair colour - its not brown, its not blonde... I wouldnt even call it mousy... its just void of anything interesting.

Hairdressers= £35

Home dye = £5.98

Home dye on a bad day = £5.98, Bleach for floor - 70p, New towel £8, Tub of tile paint - 18.99, Bath mat - £3 (from Ikea of course) Door gloss- £12.99, Ceiling paint - 15.99. Yes people - I have made that much mess.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

On a roll!

The great thing about having a job that pays sometimes, and randomly and not often on time... is that sometimes you get a nice cheque that you haven't aded into your budget as you've had no idea when it might arrive. So since our treasurer has been on honeymoon since the end of June my bits of wages have been held off... and finally a cheque arrived! So I've banked it and split it again as a safetly net tll the end of the month... so £121.95 more in taking me up to... £1258.71 D. I think we may stay there for a while now... I havent got any more cheques to pay in but this is pretty good. That account has sat at the 1479/1488 sort of 'lets use as much as we can' mark for nearly 10 years... and now I've paid in to it 3 days in a row! I probably am due for a worried call from the bank due to my significant change of activity!

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Day 13: need a holiday?

Its approaching the end of the 7 week holiday for the children and this week, thanks to my mum booking them in and paying, the children have both been on a swimming crash course. Its been great...they've loved going every morning and its really fun to watch them at their differing stages both in the same class through the glass window of the little balcony. Holly is really confident... she was confident before but totally clueless about how to swim... so a confident drowner, Elijah on the other hand will not let go of the side or his helper so he just natters away to whoever gets stuck holding him all lesson. Today was amazing as we saw Elijah actually swim away on his own and with a huge grin on his face whilst Holly got moved up a group and swam with no armbands...also with a huge gappy grin on her face which probably allows gallons of water into her mouth! But as the end of the week looms so does our holiday decision. We've not been away yet, we've got to do it next week or not at all and we're so indecisive about what to do. Counting every penny at the moment even a campsite is pushing the boat out... at £15 a night is is worth doing? Its a funny one- holidays - where did they come from? They've never been a necessary part of human existence yet some people just can't imagine being able to survive without a holiday.
I realised today the pressure resting on me about the holiday situation is simply the fact that Holly is due back at school to a brand new teacher...and that teacher has asked the children to bring items in to show her about their holiday. I'm feeling the pressure of not following the direct instruction of the school letter...now, having realsied that, I can sort that out... The fact is it doesnt matter, her teacher just wants them to take something in to help them to talk... we can do that another way.
I don't actually feel we're deprived in any way if we don't have a holiday... and for the past few years (since having children) I've found holidays are very guilty of false advertisement. Whilst your family home is full of all the gadgets, props, gismos to keep small children safe and contained as well as all their favourite varying toys... a holiday is more of a trial to see how you cope if everything helpful is taken away for a time ... with a select few things you have managed to bring along are jammed in your head for a long journey. My personal highlight was pitching a tent at Soul Survivor that we'd borrowed, which had no ground sheet, in a swamp of mud whilst Elijah was just learning to crawl. I remember holding my wriggly baby, facing the swamp beneath me because the tent was too low to stand up and crying. It was cold and getting dark and SO MUDDY. By the end of the night we'd pegged down ripped open carrier bags and that was our floor for the week. Don't get me wrong though.. it's those memories, however you feel at the time, that make family life special and its those experiences that make us who we are... and we are now campers... though part of our credit card debt is the second biggest tent you can buy with 2 ground sheets and a carpet! So we're still weighing it up... is it worth it? Can we get the same sense of time together and funny memories if we stay at home and make some days out in the country side? Maybe we'll sleep in the playhouse, maybe we'll make a den and sleep in the lounge or maybe we'll just spend that £45 to go off somewhere... jury is still out

Day 12: A quick update

Ok - not all the £100 made it across... some was urgently requested over elsewhere just as a safety net to ward away those nasty bank charging vermin. So £50 more in today... taking me to £1380.66 D... woo hoo - I've not seen '13' anything in there for a while!
Plum update... we had another session of picking after the 1st jam session and have a kitchen full of plums... Joel spent about an hour really high up the tree so theres quite a lot. I haven't weighed them all... but I've used 2lb in jam, 2lb in a crumble, saved another 2 lots of 2lbs for jam, frozen 2 lots of 2lbs for more crumble... made another crumble to send over to my brother and his housemates... and there's still loads left... maybe i need to google a new recipe though :s

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Day 11 - Blogging my way out of debt.

I think I've got it! I think I have found the motivation I need, the tool to break the cycle... I will blog my way out of debt!
I remember one long summer as a silly student with £5,000 on her credit card and far too many clothes. I worked like mad washing pots in a sandwich shop and working in some horrid horrid clubs in the evening just to pay off my debt. I would have done anything... I even considered escorting after reading an advert in the paper until my mum informed me it was a nice word for prostitution (I'm a little naive sometimes). I worked and worked for not much pay knowing that every penny I earned was going strait to the credit card company, and so much of it just being eaten up by interest. At the end of it all I would proudly be able to say I had £0. Depressing. And so its not a motivating concept... I know I can just stay as I am, treading water and gradually getting deeper and deeper and that's a more appealing option -or it has been until now - I think for the first time I feel motivated to move forward and start going somewhere.
So I'll not go into all the sections of sorting that need to be done... the interest free credit cards are more like the atlantic ocean, and the student loans are a bit like the water deep under the icebergs of the north pole (ie. I've not even opened those letters to see what they are!) But my overdraft is my first goal... I'll aim to do that and then set about the next challenge... working towards the day I can post on my blog that I have got there... Its there... i have that feeling of really wanting to find money and pay it in to that yucky old account!
Daily update then... £1435.32 D after paying in this weeks child tax credit! Yay... closer to 14,00 than 15,000 if you dont count the £25 interest due to come out!

Monday, 17 August 2009

Day 10 - TARGET SET

So I've done it! I've closed... well almost closed 2 accounts. It took a long time of queuing which didn't help the build up of my shame to be going into a bank clutching a print out of a 2005 bank statement for just one of my 2 accounts with an address I've moved twice since from and my passport. While I queued I tried to work out which of the Abbey cashiers would think I was most stupid for not having had any clue how to access my accounts for 5 years and I ended up getting the woman I thought would be the most disapproving. However she was helpful, didn't tell me off once and now I have a place to write to to close my e-saver and then I get my cheque for £6.38 posted to me! Better than that though... I expected my ISA to also have about £6 in it. As I used to be able to get cash out of it I normally would have a balance of under a tenner as it never let me take out more than I had available so I couldn't get anything out at a cashpoint if there was less that £10 in there... however as I closed my ISA in the bank today she gave me £99.88... thats so very nearly £100! Wicked!
The best best bit of it is that I have given the whole lot to Joel to take to the bank tonight... all to go into my overdraft... I've even put in to make it up to £100. I'd really like to pay off my overdraft and close that account - I'm pretty sure that account is whymy credit rating is so bad. Every so often I get a phonecall to tell me I need to be paying into it every month... I don't at all do that and its always at its max. So thats the next target. I wonder if I can do it by Christmas? Ok balance -£1492.20 - ready, steady, GO!

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Day 9: Kirsty's Homemede Home

Perfect Sunday night viewing for the mood I have spent this weekend in... Kirsty's Homemade Home. The vision totally inspires me but she is able so spend good money on amazing things that will last in her home forever... investments and things that make you happy. That's what I would like to do.
The bank didn't happen, pah... but I'm going tomorrow- promise. Yesterday, instead we made a picnic... I baked blueberry and apple healthy muffins which are made with oats :) and we made a bag of sandwiches, packed some tubs of veggies and fruits and went off to Padley Gorge. Being well prepared with a picnic meant that both times we had to pass the ice cream van we didn't have to give in and we had an amazing time ... without spending anything. Padley Gorge is one of my childhood favourite places. Its also my subconscious site of all stories I read or hear which happen in the woods. I don't think I'd realised before but I always picture any story happening there in my mind, just as when I used to read Sweet Valley High books when I was younger Jessica and Elizabeth lived in my Aunties house in the Cotswolds but with the kitchen rearranged... and one Point Horror book about a psycho doll also happened in the guest bedroom there. Weird. So... back at real Padley Gorge... we crossed the stream on the funny little bridge and passed the 'paddly bit' and went off to the woods to find a suitable den space for a picnic. I love the woods... me and Holly were studying the sparkles on the rocks and enjoying the way the sun shines through the leaves and looks like it twinkles... the woods just feel such an amazing place... every bit of it is different -and because of the way the light moves as it shines through in different places- even the same bits of the woods are never really the same. So we clambered and explored, taking it in turns to be the leaders and on the way back found the old rope swing ... a short branch attached to a tree by some blue rope so stayed there for a while before going for a paddle which was cut short by tears when Holly realised there was a hole in the side of her welly boot :( Joel asked me if I liked the woods more than Meadowhall... tough choice but I think yes I do. Quite a revelation to myself.


So THIS is JAM! We have a bit of wasteland next to our house and we noticed not long after we moved in that there was a plum tree on it... picked some a couple of times but haven't really known what to do and discounted making jam as too hard. This week Holly and Elijah went out picking and collected loads and today was such an achievement! We got back from a great time at Church and had a nice home-cooked lunch in the garden, played in the paddling pool, I made some scones (they wern't SO good) and then me and Joel got to work reading advice on Pectin and found a simpleish recipe on a website for Plum jam.. and made this! We've got 2 and a half odd shaped jars of really tasty, jamish jam! I was so surprised it worked that I actually screamed and the kids loved testing it to see if it was ready. So tonight we had homemade scones with homemade jam after our homemade cottage pie! We reckon its a good money saver too... when I can get around to it, making food is cheaper and so much better. Bread maker bread works out cheaper, smells amazing and you can throw loads of healthy seeds in, soup is so much healthier, dead easy and you know what you're getting. So though we don't actually eat loads of Jam it can make good gifts... especially when you have to buy over 5 teacher presents for school! So the cost of these 2 and a half - and the half was a big (tesco sweet and sour cooking sauce size) jar - was the price of 2lbs of sugar... some of which was made up of the stash of free sachets Joel likes to collect at cafe's (the shame). The fruit was picked free, a bit of water from the tap and about half an hour cooking time... now I though that before we started we would need to order lakeland nice jars and a big jam pot... but lack of funds means I had to do it Joel's way... and its great! This week we're going to hunt down some free blackberrys from near our old house!

Friday, 14 August 2009

Day 8: The financial spring cleaning begins...


So last night ...and regularly now from now on...Friday night is budget night in our house. Fun times...who needs date night, friends, a social night or even Friday night in front of the TV - naaa - lets get the receipts out and a calculator! Strangely though I'm warming to the idea... must be starting to work, my changing character :)
I spent my budget time session looking online at previous bank statements to work out just how rich I would be if managing to claim back all the charges I've ever had... I got back to January 06 on just 1 account and I'm already up to £555. Discusting. Calming down slightly on the issue, and after a private facebook message from a friend who works for HSBC who was probably a little defensive when my status update turned into a bit of a mini protest of angry bank customers - anyway he's offered to look into it for me and reccomend what I should do, I feel like I should probably give this reclaiming thing a go. I may fairly easily be able to stop this £75 from being taken, but would be worth it to try to get as much as I can even though I was not all that inspired when reading the Martin Lewis advice regarding the sucess rate... but I won't be deterred and basically I now admit my bank accounts are a TOTAL MESS.
So lets go back to the start of my relationship with a bank... It was the 1980's and my first 'save up' was all my pocket money...20p every week and a few tooth fairy payments to get me up to the £7 I needed to buy the first Kylie Minogue LP. I saved it probably a good 6 months before it was actually released but spent every Saturday going into town and goin into WH Smiths, of all places, to ask if it was in yet. Not too long after my parents took me to open an account. It must have been one they signed for or something but I think I'd probably been given a tenner for my birthday or something. I remember going to the Abbey National in Sheffield city centre, where All Bar One is now. Whilst I was opening the accout I was thinking all the time of what I really wanted... I was saving for a tape player. I knew the one, a yellow and grey phillips dual tape deck with RECORD! and I saved and saved until I had enough- withdrew the lot with glee and can't remember feeling precious about my account since. I never understood my brother, who just saved and saved and never bought anything. Today I have retained my spendingness but am not even so good as to be disciplined to wait and save up. :(
That account, however, in some shape or form is still open... I went in to the branch, with my 10 year olds signature account book, to try to close the account 5 years ago but left having opened a 2nd account with them and transformed them both into an 'e account'. Having not really got the internet at home at the time and having a few problems with the passwords and access, I did the sensible thing of ignoring the problem and hoping it would all go away. So 5 years later I have moved twice and not told them my change of address and have no idea how to access my 'savings'. Worst case scenario is that the person who moved into my old house after me has stolen my identity and got me into shed loads of debt... since I know they stole our clubcard points I can't rule it out :s (I also keep secretly hoping that I go in and they say... ok here's 10,000 which has built up in interest... but I think there was less than a tenner in there so I'm trying to reign in my imagination on that one)
So I have 2 accounts with Abbey, 3 accounts with HSBC, 2 credit cards and now our new account with Allience and Leceister. A little too much going on there perhaps? There are legitimate reasons for each and everyone of them... such as 1 account exists purely because child benefit gets paid into that one and I don't know who to ring to change the payments... or there's a maxed out overdraft on that one... All these accounts are dangerous as you never know how much you actually have and the risk of getting overdrawn becasuse the little bits you have are so spread out is huge! Hmmm feel I should do something proactive! So - today is the start of something new - I'm going to go to Abbey and deal with AND CLOSE DOWN my 2 accounts with them!

So Wikipedia Says...




Mr. Mean

Mr. Mean is the nineteenth book in the Mr. Men series by Roger Hargreaves. Mr. Mean never spends a penny of his money. He is so mean he gives his brother a piece of coal for Christmas. One day a wizard starts disguising as people in need. Each time Mr. Mean rejects helping them, a spell is placed on a part of his body, such as his nose turning into a carrot, his ears turning into tomatoes. He gives help when he realizes his feet are about to fall under a spell. Then he spends his money, and now he gives his brother two pieces of coal for Christmas. Mr mean will appear in season 2 of the mr. men show and will be renamed to "mr stingy".


Maybe I don't right want to be so much like Mr Mean afterall... there's the silver lining to my overdraft.

Day 7- the worst one so far :(




So I have my PAC for my new phone, the plan of our families to go camping next week, a wedding present to buy and the regular bills which keep on coming out of the accounts... but today that horrid sick feeling struck...actually worse than it ever has before as we realised we've totally run out of money again. Not only that but we were overdrawn again in our HSBC account and had a nice message notifying us of the £75 they were going to take from us from being overdrawn for 2 days earlier on this month. I need no further motivation on this issue... there is nothing that makes me storm around the house wondering what or who we could sell to get out of this stupid state. I cried at the thought of all the money I'm waiting for in expenses and the little wages I get going strait to some nasty bank in charges and being in no better position for being paid than if I'd not been... BUT there is no point being knocked down, kicked in the head and feeling crap about it...and there is only one of those things I can regain control of today... so I'm not going to let it get to me. I hassled again for my expenses... we've found some credit card cheques... dangerous but necessary in this instance, thought for a second about resorting to closing all my accounts and being like Mr Mean who keeps all his coins in cardboard boxes under his bed... but then remembered that he wouldn;t have had an overdraft facility and for that reason HSBC will not let me close down any of my accounts :( so I sent out for help once again via the medium of facebook status...

UGH! I HATE banks... evil robbing machines... has anyone ever managed to claim all their bank charges back from one?

Response was fairly positive... consensus seems to be you can get bits and pieces back if you're persistent and write... we've tried it on the phone before and they just said no... we left it at that... but I've been pointed towards Martin Lewis advice and waht I would love to do is claim back EVERYTHING they've ever taken. Quickly googling it suggests that its possible to try for up to 6 years worth and my friend Louise said that her friend tried it and got £600 back. Wicked!
But tonight is 'the Budget' in our house. Joel and I have located our spreadsheet which looking at what was on it I can trace it back to having been last updated in January 2005 - :s - the shame... so lets see what we come up with 5 years down the line!

Day 6 - My nice shiney new i phone



... imagine how excited I was to receive an email with an offer from o2 notifying me of an offer as I'm at the end of my contract... amazing... I thought I would just be plodding along on my 75 minute, stupid decision of a contract for ever more! So, though my contract costs just £20 a month... it is ridiculous, and I mostly spend £40. Actually, some months I am good and manage to never ever speak on my phone ... and pay them just £20 for the privildge of my own discipline. So how extremely wonderful to learn that for a little less than I normally end up paying I could upgrade to a lovely lovely i phone... one that organises my life, sychronises with my macbook and the calendars of my workmates...and stores all my favorite music and holds lots of scrummy pictures... but for some reason I just didn't click the purchase now button in the checkout in the world of o2.
Wondering what was wrong with me... a simple good offer yeah?... I posted on my facebook status "can get an iphone on my upgrade...why am I hesitating...?". 20 comments later and I am amused at the difference of response to my last facebook staus question about how much is too much for a new dress -in which the 'boy' response if any was £5 or 'what do you need a dress for you've got one already?'. This time- at the mention of an i-gadget all the boys come out of the woodwork and tell me to go for it... but a couple of friends - girls- brought up the annoying question of actually cutting back the cost I have been spending and save with a better deal. :( tough challange which I ignored for about 2 hours and nearly got my i phone and then it started to eat away at me.
Then the big kick came - a nice polite lady from Tesco's phoned to tell me my card had been declined for my shopping and I realised we must again be in 'a total mess'. Putting my bread and milk and value fruit and veg on the mastercard I realised the i phone dream had to end :(

So hello to my new plan... its not a phone yet... it will be a different model at less money every month...and I will pay for my groceries with a card with pennies on it that belong to me. I did briefly consider the challenge that I didn't really need a phone at all... but I'm not trying to be a martyr... I'm just trying to be wise about what I need and spending money on things that will enhance and aid my living without going without and without totally screwing up my finances. My friend Charlie did all the research for me, as one of the best with money friends I have and it turns out to be sensible I can still give myself a pretty good Samsung Tocco with unlimited internet, 500 minutes, unlimited texts for £25 a month from Virgin...and £30 back if I do it through quidco (oooh look that up if you don't know what it is... my friend Al told me about it last weekend and its brill). See... saving can be fun! (just don't think about the i phone)

Monday, 10 August 2009

Day 5

Ah man, this is not a good attempt at a 365 as I haven't written anything for 2 weeks :( nevermind... I am convinced it will take me at least 365 days with 2 weeks inbetween each one before I am even close to sorting out my money rubbishness. Partly I've not written out of guilt - as soon as pay day arrived I stopped being so careful and stopped challenging myself ... not that I've had a huge spending spree but I've laxed on my motivated feeling.
This weekend I went to a hen weekend. Amy one of my oldest friends and also one who is inspiringly good at being resourceful and non spending... so it wasnt a big coster. I normally find hen weekends and particularly stag weekends- (not that I go on them but being married I still have to share in the bill when one comes up) really awkward. You never really know how much you'll have to spend, they're quite often weekends of money being thrown around generously and many activities and particluarly when you're expected to book a flight to another country for it. Since our family cant afford a summer holiday to a local camp site for 3 nights at the moment I normally object to having to go abroad for a friends stag do - but because we can always use the money card and having no choice I don't tend to feel awkward anymore about that but do feel sorry for people who don't like to admit they cant afford it. Anyway this wasn't a big coster at all... apart from taxis and a few drinks we managed to have a gorgeous time for not much but spending the next day with 2 friends before I got the train home I got back to thinking mode again as all 3 of us in very different financial situations were all really struggling for some reason or another. Shopping together its tiggered off more thoughts about clothes ... which I'll get my head around in my next post I think ... but i guess more than anything I am realising that its possibe to really struggle whatever your income if your mind set isnt set right. I think I keep hold of this big hope of my salary coming in and how I'll be able to afford to live really differently. Maybe thats a really unwise thing to think and I'd like to think I wont just get stuck into a pattern of having far more stuff but still getting into debt and bank charges everywhere. Need to, need to keep on track!
Good to hear by the way that Beth and Charlie have been reading this... as you are both 2 of the best money wise people I know I'll expect lots of advice and answers to my ramblings!