Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Day 50: Update

Big whoop for 50 days of blogging - and pay day today too! Which means I get to rummage around the bank accounts for any spares and have managed to find a few quid for a new total.
So .... £543.06 D and 3 Little Boots CDs! (haha thanks to my lovely generous friends I now can open a Little Boots shop)
A bit of a disappointing total - feels like I managed to pay loads off before and its slowed down a bit... but the next few months we've got some good bookings coming in... and any paid work I get can go strait into that... so, anyone want to run and event and book a band ?-get in touch! Or have some girls who need a bit of an 8 week girls course on self esteem, sex and relationships? or a PSHE day, or a primary or secondary school roadshow for that matter...? Those are all first choice of a a service I love being part of and totally believe in, however, if my total doesn't change soon I'll be extending that list to include- dancing clown for a kids party? clean your toilet? occasion carrot cakes? annoying jingle for your company? need a satsuma peeling? we could google things for you or update your facebook for a fee?!

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Day 49: Challenged

Ok so I am officially shamed about buying the Little Boots album. My very lovely friend Lorna had ordered it for me as a surprise and it should arrive tomorrow - my total lack of discipline to ignore the CD aisle in Sainsburys means I now have 2 - Lorna works for Sainsburys in her student holidays so I will have to suss her out on the ethics of taking a CD back. Note to self - no more non food aisles at the supermarket. And thank you Lorna for being so lovely and sorry you are friends with an idiot :(
So, commenting on my last post, Charlie has challenged me to give up buying clothes for 6 months... and here's where I attempt to wriggle out of that!
1. I like clothes... and the only reason I would really want to be rich would be so I could buy clothes... (and do useful important things with it too... but I'd shop rather than buy a yacht or a fancy holiday)
2. I don't actually buy that many... not as much as I used to for certain and there is quite a strategy to my clothes shopping... I'm not sure my strategy can afford to take 6 months off (Joel said I was clever yesterday for applying the word strategy to my shopping activity so I'm milking it now)
3. If I worked in a normal clothes sort of a job I might think I could do it but the fact is my clothes are important in my job. I have to have performance clothes... for lots of different types of performance/ schools work clothes/ girls course clothes... all are very important as having nice things is really quite helpful in winning over groups of teenage girls you've not met before. Plus when you accidentally agree to do things like lead a session with 40 girls and women on style and 'what not to wear you' just have to be able to blag it that you know what you're talking about.
4. I'm not wasteful. I do have a lot of clothes but I have stuff that's 10+ years old and I am creative in what I use and wear and customise already- and I only replace things now when they're wrecked and worn out and I keep practically everything so trust myself not to buy things I wont wear.
5. Apart from that this sounds as though it contradicts what I just said about strategy...I just like being able to buy something I really like - rather than saving up for shopping trips and feeling you've got to settle on something cos you need to get one. I prefer to choose something just because I totally love it. If I didn't shop for 6 months I would think about all those things I missed out on for the rest of my life. I really would.
6. I have already decided I can sacrifice my red coat -so I'm not that addicted.

But I don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't take drugs. I don't buy olives or any fancy food apart from Christmas time, I always take a pack lunch to work, I fill up old water bottles instead of buying new ones, I eat VALUE everything, I try to eat my 5 a day and I never put salt in my cooking, I use bouillon instead of oxo, don't have sky tv, and I google all my recipes instead of buying cook books, I buy really big bottles of shampoo to save money and I check the compare price labels on everything. I don't lie, I stick to the speed limit, I did kick a hole in the kitchen cupboard but other than that I'm not violent and I try to instill good values into my children and I don't watch Big Brother ever. I'm not hurting anyone... I just really like pretty material... I'm not a bad person.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Day 48: Failed :(

Well I say failed... but I succeeded in lasting a whole month. I bought the Little Boots album today and a dress. Well after checking amazon again I noticed that it had gone up by a quid - this waiting around doesn't always pay off then. So it was £5.99 (this time I went to Sainsbury's for baking ingredients as Holly was having a friend over for tea... so a 'treats' trip rather than 'grocery' trip - I'm completely justified in fitting it in the 'treats' theme)...and we're pretty near to pay day now... so the tires may have to wait a few weeks but the album is good. And the dress is pretty and white...I did put a white dress on my wish list yesterday so its been on overnight... and its for gig wear... to go with a black blazer...which I need to add to my wish list. :D what? You can't read that? Nevermind... nothing to worry about :D

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Day 47: The Wish List update

I so very nearly lost it yesterday... a trip to Topshop nearly had me maxed out to the end of my overdraft again... all that hard work down the drain. Sometimes Topshop do this thing where they bring out SO MANY AMAZING THINGS... and its like a dream world! But I unbelievably kept it together. I tried loads on and I have my eye on a few things... mainly for stagey wear - which I have to always keep an eye out for ... but I didn't even buy one thing! I also tried on a red duffle coat that I have been wanting since last Christmas (and forgot to put on my wish list) and though I liked it 0n trying it on made me realise I am a person capable of living without a red duffle coat -even if I would like to play at being little red riding hood.
Deciding that I didn't need that coat in my life made me realise too how long my wish list has lasted. I still really want the Little Boots CD and I still haven't bought it even though its only £4.98 from Amazon... that is such a breakthrough for me- that's been on my list for ... what is it ... probably a month (that doesn't sound as long as it feels :( )
So my wish list is still...
1. I would like and quite need a digital SLR camera. This is still the truth.
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. What a boring thing to have on my list - Joel should start his own list and he can have this... but we may be able to afford this at the end of this month.
3. The Little Boots album Nearly sneaked it in my grocery shop yesterday but was 5.99 - its cheaper from Amazon and 'strictly speaking its not a grocery' bla bla. Add to this - and Pixie Lotts album... and wardrobe... and legs if I would inherit lots of those short shorts.
4. Some new boots this winter oooh yeah and my coat should have made it on here too but I could have crossed that off - a victory over 'the want'.
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) Joel impulse bought new pillows - honestly - no self control!
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.) We have new council info on this and though it all just feels like a big game and a dreamworld plan- people who are sensible are advising us to do it!
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. Ah - this is still going to happen but we have £1 now towards it!
8. A custom designed rag doll from an Etsy seller who makes a doll that looks like Holly. Can do without...?
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. aaah it was so nice... there's still a deep love there.
10. Add me in a blue sequined dress from Topshop and a white dress I haven't quite discovered yet.
11. Need some GHDs - mine died 2 years ago and replaced with Tesco ones. They are trying to disguise themselves as GHDs with that black and brown colour scheme but they don't fool my hair.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Day 46: Tinkerbell for free

How cool is this! (which stands for very important families) is dead nice! I was actually quite pleased when Hollys play date for today cancelled. Its a bit sad to cart her off to someones house for the afternoon when she seems to be out far too often busy with school already. Its nice to spend a Saturday with the whole family... one child missing is just not the same. So this morning at 10am we were sat on Disney day, chance of winning a raffle (disney on ice tickets) and in Cineworld with our sneaked in jelly babies ready to watch Tinkerbell and the Lost Treasure. Our tickets, (which now as a family would normally cost about £15 - which explains why we have been to the cinema as a family once -Kung Fu Panda and once only) were completely free! You have to have 1 adult in your group and one child under 12 and you can get a whole group of tickets. There's a choice of 3 kids films and I think they're all Saturdays at 10. It was really nice to go out together for pretty much nothing and Tinkebell and the Lost Treasure goes on my recommended list for people ho love twinkles, fairies, pretty lights and adventure stories!

Friday, 25 September 2009

Day 45: On the up

So I've made the gym phone call - I know what to do and though I can't quit until the end of November... I know I can do it then and I think I'm going for it! I'm also feeling so much more positive about GoldDigger at the moment... setting up a charity, bringing in Trustees, trying to make some money and become employed with the really complicated employment law and make things sustainable has been a bigger challenge than I ever expected... but we've come so far and we can't do anything else but keep trekking on until we get there. It feels like we're at that point in Lord of the Rings where they're walking through the swamp. Knackered and kind of in disbelief that they'll ever arrive but equally - there's no turning back. As a Trust we know where we're going now and scary as it is - we're still going there! Basically, to tell the potted history, we set up GoldDigger, passionately threw ourselves into what we believed was a crucially important idea and hoped that the risk we were taking in giving up our salaries we would soon replaced by GoldDigger being our jobs - paid and all. We act employed, we're committed to professionalism, we all work flipping hard and live and breathe GoldDigger but we're still not paid- other than in bits and scraps of booking payments. In order to be a charity to raise vital funds we needed to set up our girls course and buy PA to be able to perform in schools etc we had to ask a select few people to become Trustees of our charity. If we were ever to be paid then those trustees could not be us. So essentially we had to hand over the ownership and authority to other people. This has been such a huge personal challenge - and I know I'm still having to battle with what that means - I know its right but I know its tough. Its not only hard for us - the three of us are an explosion of ideas, business plans, passion, strategy, perfectionism, redirection, creativity and driven pro-activists! We work at a pace that leaves our poor trustees sometimes wondering whats going on and the risk they have undertaken is much greater than ours. They are personally liable for the whole trust - we fail and they are held responsible. We don't intend to but we're difficult to reign in sometimes. The employment law is so complicated and the trustees are taking on the most ridiculous amount of responsibility to let us be in that position but its something that takes such a long time. But I really believe God is taking us into the next phase - we've has a great week of opportunities coming up, getting lots of good bookings, developing our new songs, finishing off crafting some of our substantial material and getting our feet in the door of some new schools and access to new pots of funding... all things we've prayed into. It was the most amazing feeling today as we had our first scheduled prayer time (12-1 on a Friday- and 1st Friday of the month is going to be be open for anyone to come in and pray with us!) in our office! I can't believe a) my house isn't our workplace anymore- not that I minded but I had to juggle usage b) how tidy my house already looks now I've started moving work stuff out c) that we are real enough to actually have an office and d) we've got there! I love it. I need to take pictures. We have been donated 2 temporary desks and there is a funny shaped desk in there already. One half is going to be for storage and the other half for working. It looks cute and its desperately lacking - It reminds me of when Joel and I first got the keys to our rental flat just before we got married. I moved in but we couldn't afford any furniture but we went to homebase and bought a wooden storage box. We found a place for it and put towels in. I slept on the floor as we had no bed but we had a box - its now the children's dressing up box and I love remembering the time that box was all we had. So a couple of days ago, in our office, we sat working on just chairs, today we have been working on chairs, sat at a borrowed table with a delivery of Krispy Kreme doughnuts - courtesy of a nice visit form Beth's mum and dad... Who knows what next week will bring! We've just put in a funding application for a small grant just to get us a few desks, a printer, some notice boards for our 'things to do' lists and some shelves to divide off our messy storage area and to organise our stationery and resources - the shelves have actually been a dream for 4 years now! Please God let us get that grant! (closing date was today... so hopefully we'll hear soon!)

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Day 44: The gym debate

This debate has been going on in my head for about a yeah and a half now. It feels as though there are 2 big teams of little people in my head with rally signs all protesting from their point of view. They're all very good at putting their point across and because its been so difficult to decide who's side I'm on I've just tried not to listen to any of them.
One one team are doctors, quite a few of my friends, the staff in their red sales coats, Gill the lovely body conditioning gym instructor and a virtual version of myself who loves going to the gym just to run and set goals, swim and climb the climbing wall without freaking out 3/4 of the way up. On the other team is my bank account, my sofa, a cleaner home, maybe a trip to the hairdressers or a new red duffle coat for Christmas.
I joined the gym 3 years ago. I'd been desperate to join the whole time I was pregnant with Elijah and used to pay to use it for GoldDigger workouts and practices. I held off joining till after the birth part and then used my membership loads. GoldDigger was in very early stages and we always have and still do put loads of our own money in to things the project needs. Using the gym was great for us as we could meet and plan in the cafe and use the studio to practice. It was expensive for us but we couldn't have done without it. Plus as I was using it a lot it was serving the purpose of paying the membership fee. Joel then joined and the children and now we're all members. Realistically now I don't get enough time to use it, the children hardly ever have time and as much as I love the facility I really think its time to quit. Monthly for the whole family to go we're spending £100 - which we justified at the time by saying that it would be our lifestyle choice - that we'd spend the weekends there, using the pool, the children's club etc. but its not ever what we really feel like doing on a Saturday. I'm only allowed to quit at the end of this month... so I know I need to decide one way or another... I wish I loved it and used it - and when I go I do - but I think I need to decide that when I'm paid a salary for my job I'll join again... until then I'll have a red duffle coat... I mean ... I'll pay off my overdraft so much quicker... but I feel a bit sad :(
and realistically part of the fear is the 'I'm leaving' phone call- breaking up with mobile phone companies or gyms is one of the biggest emotional trials life can throw at you- don't know if I'll manage to get through it.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Day 43: eeeek!

23rd today and a £30 balance! there's child benefit due in... but a few payments out to go... will we/wont we make it?!! I've managed to put off the shop too - its been fun and a bit weird. Having run out of bread and not having time to make any for lunch I made a big pesto pasta for me and Elijah. So when it got to tea time tonight and our quality family time together - there was nothing I could think of to create out of what is now a very bizarre collection of food. Holly and Joel had some of the pesto pasta and I packed up the rest for tomorrows lunches... Elijah had the bit of bread that was left for a peanut butter and WOPO jam sandwich (which is the name he gave to our homemade jam). I had 2 brazil nuts and a cup of tea! :| (I wasnt very hungry anyway)
More bizarrely than that we actually spent the whole of that family 'meal time' discussing the possibility of buying the land next to our house and what we would build on it. There are loads of risks and possibles and maybe it'll be better, maybe it'll make us money in the long run, maybe it wont but we'll have a nice kitchen and a better home, is that worth it?, bidding games with the council, land could be worth 1500, could be worth 15000... so much to think about!! I spent the whole of my brazil nut and tea meal planning out a new kitchen design!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Day 42: result!

Yes! Joel's not home yet and its gone midnight... that means I get the good pillow! :D

Monday, 21 September 2009

Day 41: Feeling a bit cross

Am having a bit of a frustrating time at the moment... and yes it does involve money... and no I can't go into it. However, what I can take from it is this lesson... you don't get anything by sitting around waiting, procrastinating, interfering in other people's business and being apathetic... I hate all of those things so I'm glad they're all useless activity... lets shake it off and start again - undeterred.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Day 40: Saving for Christmas

Ok so its the hard part of the month now ... 20th - so still 10 days till payday and £132 in the bank... should be ok ... I'm trying to put off doing a big shop and making use of things like cans of split peas and tofu from the back of the cupboard... which is a good thing I suppose so they don't just hang around using up my cupboard space for a few more years. Child benefit in 5 days actually which will make life easier... I also need to find as much as I can to get tickets now to see A Christmas Carol - the expensive stalls seats are the ones I am going for to get as close as is possible since we are the proud parents of one of the 'children extras'!! The Northern Ballet normally use children from Holly's dance school when they do Sheffield performances and Holly has been picked as one of the 10! Between Joel, my mum and I we'll have to chaperon her every performance - which will be exciting to get to see behind the scenes of the production which is supposed to be amazing and has almost sold out already!... but we want seats out front one night too! Anyway...she'll be paid something like a fiver - so that'll offset it by about 3% and we're so so excited for her...
as well as hoping she doesn't get scared by this guy... (I am)

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Day 39: Rubbish

Ive been following an amazing blog... its a 365 but the actual 365 is up and I'm sorry I missed following it at the time. Its a guy who challenged him self, probably very much to the horror of his wife and teenage daughters to not dispose of any waste for a year - to understand something more of the impact that has on our world. He said it was the realisation as he threw a plastic bottle away that all he was doing was getting rid of it - away from his responsibility essentially - out of sight out of mind I suppose... but actually its not going any where really. He cleared out his basement to make way for what he would accumulate and I can't remember now what his decision was about human waste! Its absolutely crazy but now since that year he is still passionately posting up information daily about environmental issues.
Its an amazing way to decide what you buy... to look at a multipack of crisps and think of it in terms of taking on ownership and responsibility of each of the packets at the end. Instantly you work out that you could easily buy the biggest pack possible and share it out instead, saving money as well as conscience.
I want to incorporate this way of thinking into my own. I am resourceful and creative so I do generally find it really hard to throw any thing out - arty people always have messy houses- or at least an area full of a bizarre collection of imported fabrics, interestingly shaped toy packaging or just a big bag of wool and sequin waste! I'm always looking at things before I put them in the bin to see if it could be transformed into something amazing. Its also the reason I have hundreds of magazines I just can't throw out in case there are pictures that inspire me to a sketch book moment. But now I feel more inspired to think about refusing to buy certain things based on the amount of packaging unless I can do something with it - for example I once bought one pack of those variety biscuits (you know where you get a couple of custard creams, some pink wafers, jammy dodgers, chocolate digestives and some boring ones) simply because the tray that they come in makes a good pretend laptop/ telephone for a toddler!
This sort of mind set really works to support the economic one too - 2 reasons to make biscuits instead of buying a packet, or to buy a value bag of potatoes and plan out your meals not to waste anything.
Link to this blog is todays post is a REALLY bizarre video on fairtrade - Yeah - that other day I was really excited to see that that Gold Label/ Red Label tea are now all fairtrade - which is brilliant - just thinking how its so socially acceptable for companies not to make fairtrade products when they can, or for people to buy fairtrade when they can (which basically means when they are available- choosing NOT to is just not an acceptable option really - If I cant afford fairtrade coffee, then I can't afford the luxury of drinking coffee. Simple)

Friday, 18 September 2009

Day 38: Update

Well today has been mad and good. We've finally finished putting together all the GoldDigger schools packs - a job Rachel has been very pleased to cross of her to do list! We've visited our new office to work out, apart from the 3 chairs that are there already, what else we'll need to be able to move in and do more than just sit on a chair each! We reckon we can spend £68 on some desks which give us all enough room and £79 on some shelves... and that should be enough - not bad!

So in my banks world -my interest charge for this month is £15.01 - so I've saved another £10 compared to last month. Also my next little paypal installment has gone in so its now £572.21 D.
I'm stupidly staying up late to watch this Derren Brown thing... we only have a channel that shows things about 5 hours later than everyone else sees it - so having seen everyone talking about it on twitter and facebook all night I'm a bit intregued... oh no - thats not going to happen... it just started and the warning that subliminal messaging will be used came on - not having that - why would I give some stranger access to trying to manipulate my thinking... no thanks!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Day 37: S's

This has been a busy busy week. I've just finished work and its 1.11 so I even missed posting yesterday. I have so much to say but time for some sleep. The last two days have been writing songs, recording singing, editing schools packs, printing schools packs, having schools meetings and lots of strategy. There is no energy left in me to think of anything more to unpack about those events other than quite a lot of them start with the letter s.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Day 36: Give me Wisdom

I realised the other day that the Christian teaching I've heard through preaches in my life could be split into the following (imagine a pie chart if you will) Probably 50% on caring for the poor as a general theme 30% on giving in faith, pledging to certain church projects - the emphasis being on pushing yourself to giving more than you think can realistically afford to see how God blesses you through that and maybe 20% on your attitude being detached from your material wealth – so just about not being concerned with being materialistic. I have had no – not even 1% of teaching about handling my money well, how to wisely use it and budget it on what I need – and though the phrase 'being a good steward of money' makes sense to me -I have never heard teaching about it. Actually I have heard of one man who came to a meeting I was at who was apparently the BEST teaching on money anyone had ever heard – I unfortunately, roped into creche duty, I missed all of it. BIG :(

The thing is I totally agree that the main issue we're taught on is caring for people in need. Working towards people everywhere being able to live with sustainable food, water, shelter, health and sanitation – goes without saying, is crucial.
Material wealth – definitely - it shouldn't be what we live for – we miss out on living if we do that. So yes, valuable teaching.
Giving with a step of faith... giving beyond your means in order to let God step in and bless you... I've heard this so many times..and actually I'm going to up the percentage I placed on that one because I do hear it so often. I understand why... I agree with the principle and I understand deeply - setting up a small charity and trying to work with a vision and make something happen from scratch – people need to stand with you, to support you, to financially invest into it, to care about it too, to take risks and step out for it – and it is so difficult when they don't.
The thing is that when I sit in a church meeting being challenged to think bigger, to give more to get the bigger vision, to allow something amazing to happen - to write the cheque that I know is more than I have...the cinical side of me has just noticed that this taps into the same aspect of my character as the Peter Jensen boot wanter (the shopaholic basically) . Now of course there are fairly obvious differences between wanting a boot (and its partner) and wanting to see lives transformed and radical social change ...I may have a shallow end but I do also have a deep end. But it is asking me to take the risk, not be bound my the consequences, step out and be part of something exciting. The thing is ... for me, and probably 90% of the people sitting on the other seats around me... that's not what we need to be challenged in. That sort of character 'quality' is why we're all in a mountain of credit card debt and can't afford our mortgages. I don't need to be challenged to be brave with my money... My problem isn't being greedy and keeping it to myself... Its more that I can't keep a fiver for 5 minutes! Giving money in faith is EASY ... but to be honest the consequences are sometimes a comedown. We wrote a cheque for £300 for an orphanage. Thankfully the cheque didn't bounce and they got the money but it took us nearly £200 overdrawn and cost us an extra couple of hundred to pay it off. No problem jumping in in faith... but reality hits that maybe God never asked us to.
People like me just like making purchases. People like me need teaching how to be careful, how to plan properly, budget properly - yes how to be generous, but with what we have...even if its all we have... but since cheque books, overdrafts, credit cards etc all give us access to spending what belongs to someone else (the bank) I'm not sure we are being asked to take that risk to the extent I sometimes am told we are. Sometimes I wonder how much more could have given and invested into amazing things, how much more I might have been able to give to that orphanage if only I'd had wisdom instead of just a fearless passion. I plan to find that out!

I still haven't checked it out but Beth gave me this link... aparently some teaching from the American version of Martin Lewis who is also a Christian... must give this a look at soon

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

And again

We've kept a bit sitting in our old HSBC account - (the one thats had all the charges) just 48.72 randomly in case any more direct debits were still sneaking out of that one - so that amount was left over from last month. All the DDs have come out now and we're in the clear - so I'll have that! Takes me to... £594.35 D ... thats not far off 2/3rds of it gone. Its amazing I've managed to find nearly a grand over the last 2 months just by trying - I can't even work out where that can have come from!


Ok - NICE ONE JOEL - got £100 for some writing he's done this month - so although we've got the MOT test cost to cover we should be alright. So my overdraft can have the child tax credit this week thankyou... we are at £643.07 D

Day 35: Totally lost it, man

So it sold... £10.50 - my estimation was right and I'm very happy with that - and along with a few other things I have about £25 to transfer over :D
I realised yesterday I have changed. I was surprised actually. You see, I'm still not feeling quite better. Joel had a bug last week and he doesn't seem totally better yet... but better than me. I keep thinking its swine flu - but I've thought that every time I've sneezed since swine flu landed so I'm sure its not but I definitely don't know this sort of bug... I'm ok ish to get up and do things -I managed to spend the morning yesterday recording the demos for the new GoldDigger songs but I had woken up with that same feeling of my head and neck being made of rock. Its really weird! By yesterday afternoon I was feeling really dizzy. I had to carry on with the day - I can't leave the children at school overnight so I had to get on with my collectings and such. Thankfully Elijah fell asleep in his lunch after nursery so I could chill with loose women and a coffee while he slept next to me on the sofa. (He woke up in the middle of 60 minute makeover - but he loves that- so we watched it together) At collecting Holly time I had a total sense of 'right- sack it'ness, like when you think - 'I'm having a day off and I don't care about the consequences. Meal plan- shmeal plan'. (I was very rebellious) So I took my children down to the coop - without checking the budget. I let them choose sweets, I chose a BOX of maltesers for a whole pound and I bought fish and oven chips for tea. I nearly bought a can of mushy peas but a sneaky bit of resourcefulness crept in from somewhere and reminded me there were frozen peas in the freezer that would do really. My rebellious, throwing caution to the wind, careless shopping spree of unplanned - off the meal plan tea and extra sweets came to £7.14. (I have REALLY changed)

The aftermath of my disorderly day still needs sorting through, sums need to be made and hopefully later today I will be able to post a new update. I'm sorry I've let you all down and the meal plan will be resumed today- (although I will have to somewhere make room to incorporate some extra oven chips and 1 fish)

Monday, 14 September 2009

Day 34: Observing more ebay life

Its interesting seeing silly things people miss. A few of my ebay things end today and the 'coat watch' has seen an interesting twist! The identical one to mine ended last night. Starting price £4.99 - went for £11. Mine 'in theory' then should go for slightly less.
Also in my watch list though were 2 more of the same coat but in the next size up. Identical in description, both from sellers with good feedback - nothing to distinguish them in a search, or in which you would prefer, similar photo etc. One had a starting price of 99p, the other £9.99 with a buy it now of £14.99. So obviously that's the dividing factor... but how crazy is it that in the end the £9.99 or buy it now for £14.99 didn't even sell whilst the 99p start coat got itself a little bidding war going on and sold for £27.99! Gutted! Some people need Ebay common sense lessons I feel.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Day 33: Inspired

I was reading an article yesterday about plagiarism. It was someone having a go at another artist who had happened to become successful at a young age but along the way had quite obviously borrowed a few ideas from other artists. Though 'the complainer' had a point, I felt he lacked a certain amount of grace towards 'the complainee' who had happened to have built up a profile and a certain amount of success by accident and maybe hadn't expected that level of attention that they received at that whirlwind of a pace. It basically struck me that maybe 'the complainer' was a bit jealous really and maybe thought he might get a bit of a profile for himself out the fuss he was making... so I'm quite glad I've forgotten his name. One thing he said though was something along the lines that artists are not true artists unless it all comes directly from their heart. Kind of true- ish but your heart is full of experiences, people, sights you have seen, songs you've heard and its impossible for any artist to produce something totally independent of anyone else's ideas.
I've been thinking about this issue a fair bit this week actually as I've been working on a song for GoldDigger and in working on the melody for the verses I can't quite work out if its too familiar because it's been ticking over in my head for the past week or so, or because its a total rip off of something I've heard before... I've got to challenge that in what I do - On the other hand I spend an hour in the studio with my brother who managed to recreate the theme tune almost exactly to Deal or No Deal having never seen or heard it before - luckily I was around to let him know! Sometimes we don't know where our ideas come from but as purely as they come from who we are ... who we are actually is made up of a certain amount of us, as in how God created us to be and a certain amount of inspiration, people who have shaped us, things we have seen, what we've been taught - all jumbled up to make us who we are and to give us the creative ideas we produce.
How sad would it be if we tried to ignore every scrap of inspiration which didn't come strait out of our heads, we'd have to walk around with our eyes closed, never listen to music, never read a book, never watch a film, never look at a painting... all to keep our own creations totally pure and original. Holly and I were chatting in the car this morning on the way to church about stories we love and have loved in our lifetimes. I was telling her how much I love the work of Lauren Child, writer and illustrator and creator of Charlie and Lola. It struck me what an amazing influence that woman has had on our family life. I found a book called "I am too absolutely small for school' (I've even linked through to amazon - this book deserves showing off!) when Holly was a few months old - it was a 3rd book in a 3 for 2 and I liked the style of the illustration - that's how it came into our house. I loved reading the story to Holly, she was far too young for it but by the age of 1 all she wanted to do was read this book and she learned to walk and talk so that she could bring it to me and say 'read' and we read it to her no less than 10 times a day. There were a few more of her books available more books so we snapped them up, and soon someone more important than us saw the talent in these stories and started Charlie and Lola as a TV series. Holly grew up talking like Lola, acting like Lola and learning so much, all because she fell in love with a story, now tatty and ripped as the love of this story has passed on to Elijah. So many of our family ideas, the language we use, the cutting and sticking nature of my design work, and the memories of their childhood are all wrapped up in something a woman called Lauren Child created. Its crazy to think she will never really understand the influence she has had on our family.

One step stranger than that is what she writes on her website about the creation of Lola.
When I was on a train travelling through Denmark, I saw a little girl. She had very blonde hair and pointy eyes like an elf. She was colouring and sticking while she chatted non-stop her parents were trying very, very hard to read their books.
Although I couldn't understand what she was saying there was something about her that was mesmerizing and she had a cheekiness about her that was attractive.
When I got home I drew her as I remembered her in a little dress with trousers underneath. then I tried to think of a story that would work with her character.

That little girl will grow up never knowing she had such a major role in creating something that now inspires SO MANY children - but what an amazing thing to have done.
That's what I think success really is. Financial success is not attractive, not even tempting compared to the privilidge of having influence and inspiring people - that's what I admire about successful people anyway- not what they have but what they've creatively done with what they've got. So how important is it to me to be successful? For me success is providing people with tools, for life; whether its the way they remember how I handle a situation and can be helped or taught by that, the way a story I share might challenge or encourage someone, when someone says they've been listening to a song I've written on repeat on their Ipod to help them through a tough time (thats the best feeling ever!), when a phrase or a small thing we might say in one of our girls sessions stay with a girl and change the way they see themselves for the better. That's the most amazing thing I could ever hope for. And its amazing too to think that you might never know the effect you have by what you do.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Day 32: Watching my listings

Today is an ill day. Yesterday was an ill day too and I thought I'd feel better by now. I ate some tea last night and felt worse than ever so went upstairs and ended up sleeping in all my clothes. This morning I am starting to come around but my whole upper-body feels as though it has turned into stone. I can't stand up well - probably because my head made of stone is to heavy for my legs to support. I really ache.
But a cup of tea has arrived and I'm feeling better enough now to appreciate the wonder of the creation of tea - God did an amazing thing there!
So the other thing I can do while I'm bed/sofa restricted is keep an eye on all my ebay things... what I had forgotten when I got excited about the free listing 10 days at the end of August, was that 99p listings are free all the time anyway... so so long as you're not too bothered what you get for what you're selling then its worth doing. It may take a whole night to load up about 12 items... which is the annoying part... but you can visit the post office website to work out your postage costs and get them right if you can fit whatever you're selling on your kitchen scales! Since I'm working my way through loads of clothes the children have grown out of its basically either charity bag or ebay and if ebay is free I may as well give it a go (and deprive those charity shops - I suppose is the downside of that :( oh - but as a charity minded person I know in the long run I can be a better support to charities when I'm not swamped in bank charges myself I also suppose) So now I still have half a lounge taken up with bags and bags - so its a blessing to sell something even if only for 99p and its a little dent in my mess!
At the moment I've one item selling that I'm quite enjoying watching the activity around. Its a coat ... was a gift to us and its a nice one but its an occasion coat so not one that would get loads of wear from a child as how many posh occasions does a child go to before they grow into the next size. So to us it was completely free, from someone who found it very well reduced in a sale. There are a few of them on sale and one of the next size up just got sold for £27.00 (I'm watching all the others as an interesting geekish activity) There's another one exactly the same as mine which ends a day earlier - no bids but has a higher starting price. I've just got my fist bid for my 99p starting price but am up to 14 watchers and I've had about 10 enquirys about buy it now, international postage etc. so I'm interested to see what that'll make me. Its also a horrid dilema for those watchers - do they risk leaving the first one in the hope they can get this one for less - but then this one might end up more and they should have gone for the earlier one... oooh ebay - it should count as a brain training activity - its such a science! Alas there are 2 and a half days left till it ends so I'll have to curb my obsessive watching activity - still better than ebay obsessive buying activity!
(the boot isn't an ebay listing. If I owned that boot I would NEVER sell it. But I wish I could see it on ebay and buy it. I think its amazing - but its a lot and from Topshop)

Friday, 11 September 2009

Day 31: Our 2 car family

So about a year ago we had quite a good thing happen... Joel's parents had moved out to Africa and had left their car with Joel's brother who was working away on an invention. He then decided to go out to Africa too, leaving the car with.... us! yay! Insurance covered, MOT'd and taxed... we had a 2nd car with all costs covered apart from petrol. Even petrol, for that matter, has not really been more running 2 cars - we haven't had to give each other lifts to far away places and back so that one of us can have the car, and its been great for not having to be back from places in time for the other one to run out and go... we were operating like a tag team before.
So we always said - it was great to have but we are not a family that could afford a second car and we'd only be able to run it until it collapsed, Joel's parents ceased to want to pay for the insurance, or another family member wanted a turn.
Twice this week we've had to get our heads round it, after a year or being in the 2 car family life, that we are to cope again with one. Firstly Joels brother came up, back from Africa and off to the Lakes to live in our tent for 5 weeks doing running challenges in training for the Snowdonia Marathon. He wanted to take the car to get up there. Also this week the MOT was due. In the end Joel had to drive him up to the Lakes as the MOT news was bad. £450 worth of repairs needed! Having to make a decision about what to do is not fun... you can't put the decision off as the garage want to do the work or get it moved... but that's a lot of money.
For the first time the decision was clear to me. We didn't have an extra £450 and actually I do now have space on my overdraft - it would be a sad 'total update' but possible to do. However this blog experiment of mine is about my attitude and to me now the important factors were these 1) We always said we could lose it and couldn't afford to invest into it, 2) My overdraft is NOT my own money. 3) I need to learn and be satisfied to live within my means.
As it happens Joels parents are coming back over next month and they are covering the repairs as they will need the car now its back on our road, mended - but we're not letting ourselves rely on being a 2 car family anymore!

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Day 30: When you find the perfect pair of jeans buy them... from Ebay

When I was 14 I went for the first time to a Christian Summer camp called Soul Survivor. There was a guy preaching there every morning meeting called J John. He was great and when he made a good point he'd make us say it about 50 times so we'd remember it. I liked this one... 'Use it up, wear it out. Make it do - or do without' Its a great little rhyme to help you think resourcefully. I love my blue skinny jeans. I have had them for 2 years and 2 months and have worn them probably 90% of the days within that. I got them the first time we went to the top shop style adviser sessions and they were well recommended. Since becoming a mum jeans don't seem to last as long as they used to... somehow crawling around on the floor all the time takes its toll and a sad thing has happened to my lovely jeans.
Exhibit A

These are 'used up and worn out', I would make them do but unfortunately the holes are starting to happen elsewhere and I'm not really into showing my pants or reconstructing Christina Aguilera trousers from her 'Dirty' video. They are also not great to wear on days where the old fake tan has had a blotchy disaster- they act as more of a frame for 'orange knee'. So...'Make it do'? - I've tried to the end of trying ... and 'do without'? well... :( But the great thing is, knowing your measurements and the name of your favorite jeans means ... EBAY! So normally £45, I managed to spend 9.99 of my paypal ebay earnings to get me...
Exhibit B

Yay! (I got grey ones for a change!)

Other news... BRILLIANT my cheque has cleared and so has another paypal payment from some more ebay sales... £150 and £18.22 taking me to.....(drumroll).................£699.95 D very good news :D

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Day 29: Eagerly awaiting tomorrow...

... I have a cheque due to clear tomorrow which was a nice expenses cheque I had a vaigue feeling I'd put somewhere safe... couldn't find it in all my safe places :( but yesterday I came across it in my diary! I'm excited to know what tomorrow's update will be - I've not calculated anything... holding off to heighten the suspense!!

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

£868.17 D

£868.17 D

Day 28: Laser Eye Surgery?

So today I am feeling grumpy :( I didn't sleep well last night as my asthma is really bad at nights at the moment and I think I have a mild eye infection on waking this morning. I had to change the second lot of Elijah's sheets because from wetting the bed last and so had to shower one child and make the slowest child in the world get dressed and ready for school. Mornings are not my favorite time but I was pleased we were ready on time to do the 20 min walk to school - and for the first time Elijah walked all the way... no pram, no carrys, one moan -but not a bad one! Achievement!
So my eyes are feeling watery and my contact lenses have been really uncomfortable this week. I don't think I'll need any drops but a few days off the contacts, and its probably about time I ordered some new ones. Contact lenses are a costly business and I do keep questioning what I think about laser eye surgery. I would have discounted it but when I was at uni I added up the cost of my lenses over a few years and worked out quite clearly that laser eye surgery would make me a big saving. I'm not in a position to afford the outlay now anyway but I feel I want to look more into it. Its a weird idea and it would help if I knew more people who had had it done. The only people I know are Cat Deely and I think Philip Schofield... not that I know them but I have seen them on tv which just is the closest I get to lasered eyes!
So the big minus points as I can work out;
There seems to be a disclaimer that says it 'might not work'
I once read an article where someone described the process and used the words 'feels like something is sucking your eye out briefly' (eeeeeeeew)
BUT ... and my Dad would say... 'just wear glasses - its nothing but vanity that makes you wear contact lenses' - (my Dad wears glasses with clip on sunglasses and walks around with them flicked out and makes spreadsheets of the top 100 DVDs he thinks he should own, and owns a Vanilla Ice LP - There's a certain amount of advice I will not take from my dad in certain areas of life) I love my glasses but its a psychological thing... like my name... I love the name Amanda but call it me and I will become 12 and told off. I can't work well in an environment where people call me Amanda - I just become weird and insecure. In glasses I'm totally unproductive... I may as well be in my pjamas- thats how they make me well as them just not being as easy, effective or good as lenses.
People who don't need either won't understand but having restored vision WOULD be amazing. It would be amazing to be able to see first thing in the morning, or when woken up in the middle of the night by the children. It would be amazing (not that I do it often) to spontaneously decide to stay out for the night without having packed my lense solution and cases. Ugh the stress the time I went down to the Cotswolds for my uncle's funeral and left my toiletry bag sitting on the stairs at home forgotton. Not only did I have NO MAKEUP AT ALL (!) but I had no case or solution. The choices: 1.try to sleep with a bit of dry glass in my eyes - the most horrible thing ever, 2.throw them out and waste £18 and not be able to drive, or see for that matter, 3. drive around the cotswolds at gone midnight triyng to find a 24 hour supermarket - my aunty lives in a little village which doesn't even have a local shop for an hours drive- let alone a big tesco. That sort of thing is a hassle. I also would be able to have fun swimming. Swimming in lenses is a pain. The moment someone swims past and splashes you accidentally, even a little and it goes in your eyes... end of a nice swimming time. Swim underwater? No. Play with your children and have a relaxed time. No - you cant let them near your face. Sensible head above water swimming only... or don't wear them and you can't see which ones are your kids anyway and could well end up in the men's changing room, or the cafe in your wet cossie at the end of your swim anyway.
Its about time to do a bit more research on it I think :)

Monday, 7 September 2009

Sad update

Its a bit of sad news that the total is now £893.17 D - because its gone back up (or down - not sure - we're kind of in opposite world) BUT not because I have weakened - just because of interest. £23.07 taken off me but I'm pleased to know that next month that number should be less... However, on a good note, I have some more ebay and quidco earnings on their way that will help it along again :)

Day 27: Counting Socks

Yes... counting socks... a new money saving strategy. Well actually counting socks has saved me £4.50 this week but generally a major sort out must therefore save you more!
Our house can be made to appear tidy. Things generally have a place and work stuff has for the past 4 years taken up a lot of the spaces I could use for other things ... but one piece of GREAT news is that our trustees have agreed that we can hire the office space! I can't believe what a difference that will make, both to our working week and to my house! We've not quite got enough to be able to afford it as we also are trying to factor into the budget the running costs of a van... but thats a faith journey we're taking and the finance is not my call in GoldDigger so I don't have to apply financial strategy there!...
So back to the socks... Things in our house tend to get stuffed into the right places but inside that right place is a terrible mess. My wardrobe for example is a heap of clothes behind a door with no order or system (which is bad news as my ONLY new years resolution this year was to keep my wardrobe tidy!) and Holly, who does not have a wardrobe, has 2 big under bed draws, one for underwear and school uniform and the other for everything else. Getting ready to go back to school I've noticed parents have this compulsive nature to go and stock up on all school things. Well I knew, as I'd accidentally ordered her school jumpers far too big, that she wont be needing anything off the uniform order list till at least Y4! so I just did the trip to the shoe shop for a measure. She'd not changed shoe size since last Christmas... so logically there is no point buying new shoes is there? I knew she always complained she could never find matching socks so I put some in my supermarket trolley last time I was in there... then I took them out- being in a ruthless mood and wanted to save £4.50. Well I must have aimlessly bought things so many times ... What happens is that I can't find what I probably have somewhere so I buy some more... Actually in tidying through Holly's draw with her last night we found out, once we'd put coloured socks in the other draw, thrown out ones without pairs, she still has 31 pairs of school socks! (Well... if I'd known that I could get by with just one wash a month!)
So this spurred me on and on my early night before the start of the school term I managed to start clearing out and organising my wardrobe at 1.30am-Bad move as I'm shattered -but I've found so many things I'd forgotten I had and its definitely curbed a shopping urge I was starting to get as I've noticed that a few things I was starting to get 'the want' for actually have a similar looking twin in my wardrobe already. I was going to take a photo of my wardrobe pre tidy - just to shame myself into looking after it... but the urge at 1.30am was too strong and I just got on with the task in hand. I even put out my clothes ready for the morning... and enjoyed that I'd done that at 7 am this morning... it meant I didn't just throw on whatever was on the top of the heap of clothes on my chair! Will I keep it up...? I don't know. I've been at this place so many times before and I tend to think people are just tidy - or they're not - and generally I'm in the NOT team but I'll keep trying!!

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Day 26: The Spreadsheet Collection

Ok.. so budget kicked in a few days ago. Normally whenever we go away we get overdrawn. While away from the internet we find it impossible to keep track but can never understand how it all goes wrong. Keeping a really tight check over the past 3 days we've been away has shown me how quickly it all adds up and this time I was really good at making sure we took everything we could possibly need, eat and want to do! We allowed ourselves to buy a fish and chip tea, one coffee shop trip, a boat ride and our blueberry tree trip. As well as that we had a trip to the toy shop on the way out of Sheffield as the children have been earning points since day 1 of the school hoidays - seemed a bit brutal to deprive them of their hard point earning work! So here are the things that get fed into the 'misc' column in the 'variable costs' section on our budget. We have an amount to cover these things but its easy to think there wont be much to go in that section - wrong. So now the second spreadsheet has started - my Dad would be so proud. I have divided the 'misc' section into everything that might go in it... with room for more sections... and each and EVERY penny we spend gets put in a new column so we can keep check of how much we're up to with all our variable costs. Theres nothing like making an obsession out of something to keep on top of how its going! :)

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Day 25: The Blueberry Tree

My very own blueberry tree :)
Well we've had a gorgeous few days away. Beth's lovely parents let us stay in their gorgeous holiday cottage in the Lakes. Had a great time visiting Kendal, Windamere as well as picking apples and letting the children loose on the trampoline and in the play house in the gardens where we were staying when the rain finally stopped! One thing I am particularly excited about are the plants that filled the car on the way home. It was so cool to have an apple tree there and we've loved the plum tree next to our house. We are rubbish at growing plants but will never give up! At my parents house through all my childhood we had an apple tree in the back garden and a cherry tree in the front. My parents would pay me to pick the cherries and for a few months every summer we'd have cherry EVERYthing! That tree has died and now seeing how expensive cherries are I realise how cool that really was. So we came home having invested some of our grocery budget into some strawberry plants, a funny pepper plant and a small blueberry tree! It was 12.99 and should grow to be about 4/5 foot. I bought one which already had loads of blueberries on already (the picture above is actually our tree) and our first picking session today gave us 75 grams :) My aim is to cover the price in homegrown blueberries than I would have paid at the shop and then go on to grow billions more - and since they are a superfood we do buy them anyway. Reckon I've already got about £2 worth there! Mmmmm blueberry muffins for breakfast...

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Day 24: Another little step

Must say I was a bit disappointed as I'd excitiedly been waiting for my £70 from ebay to clear and show in my bank account for the past week - only to notice yesterday that it had cleared that the same time as my last amount so I'd already counted it without realising :(
But I've spared up another little bit of child tax credit £20.81 of it can go in taking me to .... £870.10 D... slowly but surely!