Friday, 31 August 2012

One month in pictures - Day 14

£14 of raspberries for 35p from a supermarket bargain bin today - hail to the bargain bin, bringer of booty to the freezer.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

One month in pictures - Day 13

A cheap, healthy snack; pop a couple of tablespoons of popcorn kernels in a microwave for 3 minutes in a large plastic container. Eat plain or drizzle with a little butter and a sprinkle of salt (still better than a bag of crisps!)

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

One month in pictures - Day 12

Mr CB made a GORGEOUS cream of tomato soup tonight for tea. That was number 11 on my list and he's beaten me to it! Must get him to show me how. 

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Thoughts on 101 goals

I am a list maker, I love it, it makes me happy. There, I said it. 
This 101 goals in 1001 days list is perfect for me and I'm enjoying the process immensely. Lists are often spoken of as restrictive and dull but I find that using lists gives me a framework for prioritising, getting essential tasks done, trying new things and making the most of my time. I feel that just making this list has opened up new possibilities to me; the possibilities were always there, the list hasn't magically created them, but it's made them more visible, given them substance and enabled me to get on and do them. At the moment I'm doing so many fun and useful things that I've been vaguely meaning to do for ages when I've got the time and/or money. Now that I've committed them to paper and done a bit of planning I can see that they were always available to me, I was just overwhelmed and unorganised. Many of my goals are free or require only a small outlay of money - that's surprised and delighted me as without any extra cash there are still so many experiences and opportunities available to me.
What happens if I start too many goals at once in my enthusiasm and feel overwhelmed by them? I'll go back to the list, back to the plans and re-organise. I see the list as a filing cabinet for my plans; if a goal is getting too much for me, I've bitten off more than I can chew or can't take a goal any further at the time (for example if I need to save up money for it first) it can go back into the 'filing cabinet' where I can pick it up where I left off later.
1001 days is a long time compared to the usual time I set myself to do things. When making new years resolutions one year seems a paltry length of time to do so much. But just under three years is enough time to pick things up, explore them, complete them or investigate them and set them aside for a more appropriate time whilst knowing that I've taken each one as far as I can for the time being. At the same time 1001 days is also a clear, set amount of time; it's not a case of meaning to make a start on something some time and not getting round to it, as there's a time frame to take into account.
The list also satisfies that start of term feeling; at high school and university I always felt that with a fresh notepad, pen and file anything was possible (I was and am a stationery geek). It feels good to be making plans, gathering information and moving forward a step at a time. I find myself focusing on the present rather than the future - what I can do now, not some currently unreal future - and that's a valuable and liberating change for me.

One month in pictures - Day 11

A salad of tomato, cucumber, carrot, onion, red chilli, coriander and lime juice; I can't get enough
raw veggies lately, I'm really enjoying them.

Monday, 27 August 2012

One month in pictures - Day 10

Today we made mead; here it is with it's cousin, the strawberry wine. Ferment my beauties,
and make mummy some cheap booze!

101 Goals In 1001 Days

Running from 15th August 2012 to 12th May 2015

The week before last, during a particilary crap few days, feeling at a really low ebb and in search of something to do with myself I stumbled across the idea of completing 101 golas in 1001 days where you write a list of 101 things you want to do in the next 1001 days. They can be anything from painting your bedroom to trying out a new hobby, from walking more to getting a new career - 101 is a lot of goals so there's room for everything! 

I've written my list and am writing a plan for every goal. I'm really enjoying it because it's clarifying all the things I want to do, big and small, and making them look much more achievable because I'm breaking down each goal into a series of small, detailed steps and keeping track of it all. It's empowering and exciting, very motivational and positive. I copied the following off a blog called Scarlet Words as it's a good definition:
The Mission:

Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days. 

The Criteria:
Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on my part).
Why 1001 Days?
Many people have created lists in the past – frequently simple goals such as New Year’s resolutions. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organising and timing some tasks such as overseas trips or outdoor activities.

Here's my list. It's not a full list yet, but I'll add to it over then next few days as I finalise what I want to put on it. I'll be checking in on my blog frequently with updates on my progress, to keep myself motivated, track how I'm doing and hopefully share lots of interesting stuff with you.
Black = Not yet started
Green = In progress
Red = Completed
  1. Begin astrology course and work towards qualification (Began September 2012)
  2. Design and complete a cross stitch sampler
  3. Make a double bed sized crocheted blanket for Christmas 2012 (Began August 2012)
  4. Make strawberry home brew wine - 30/9/12
  5. Make mead - 26/9/12
  6. Learn to play chess
  7. Climb a climbing wall
  8. Complete a 10 mile walk
  9. Paint the living room
  10. Paint the kitchen
  11. Learn to make great cream of tomato soup - 31/8/12 (I used this recipe)
  12. Make a one page SAD action plan for Winter 2012 (here) - September 2012 
  13. Avoid the internet on weekends for a month
  14. Learn to quilt
  15. Make a batch of soap
  16. Go camping
  17. Write a letter to myself to be opened on day 1001 - 30/8/12
  18. Learn about colour therapy and put it to use
  19. Set up liability insurance for reiki
  20. Do Pilates at home
  21. Learn 10 new vegetarian recipes (4/12; stir fried tofu, lentil curry, veg lasagne, spicey butternut soup)
  22. Make and package dry mix jars as gifts
  23. Make beeswax candles
  24. Build and maintain my upper body strength
  25. Visit 3 new parts of the UK
  26. Use my exercise bike every week for 6 weeks
  27. Drink at least one litre of water a day - Sept 2012
  28. Address my self esteem issues
  29. Go to a knitting group - 13/8/12
  30. Give the living room a deep down clean
  31. Sell things on Etsy
  32. Get business cards made for my Etsy shop
  33. Moisturise all over at least twice a week - 30/9/12
  34. Walk more on lunch breaks
  35. Learn about PMT and how to cope with it
  36. Get rid of 101 things in 1001 days
  37. Make bread every week instead of buying it - November 2012
  38. Replace the broken zipper on my husbands jeans with one salvaged from an old ripped pair
  39. Paint bedroom and cupboards
  40. Record a chapter for Librivox
  41. Finish king sized granny stripe crochet blanket
  42. Document one month of my life in photos - 16/9/12
  43. Learn 3 new card games
  44. Re-purpose an old item of clothing
  45. Make fresh pasta
  46. Create a sewing and study area in the attic
  47. Organise my yarn stash
  48. Stop complaining for a week
  49. Have a Winter trip away for one night in a cosy B&B - 6/11/12 in Burnsall
  50. Make a cross stitch pixel portrait
  51. Loose weight and maintain at 8 1/2 stone
  52. Save for a deposit on a house
  53. Learn to do tarot readings
  54. Stay in a Pod
  55. Take a skiing lesson
  56. Apply for a council house
  57. Eat raw food for seven days
  58. Do twenty one days of Reiki self healing
  59. Send distance Reiki twelve times in four weeks
  60. Ice a cake
  61. Read twenty five random non-fiction library books and share what I've learnt on my blog
  62. Sew an item of clothing
  63. Fly a kite
  64. Go to the cinema alone
  65. See the Northern Lights
  66. Knit, crochet or sew something for charity
  67. Fly in a hot air balloon
  68. Do a handstand, unsupported
  69. Don't buy any yarn for two months
  70. Have a holiday in the sun
  71. Climb a mountain
  72. Make a list of 101 things that make me happy
  73. Make a list of 30 free, fun things that I enjoy doing
  74. Firm up my tummy
  75. Get my finances in order - make and stick to a spending plan
  76. Spend a week focusing on Angelic meditations
  77. Make some sort of preserve (jam, pickles, chutney)
  78. Start a retirement fund
  79. Start a holiday fund
  80. Go on a retreat alone
  81. Enter an annual show
  82. Go to an archery club
  83. Make French macaroons successfully
  84. Make puff pastry successfully
  85. Make chocolate ├ęclairs successfully
  86. Learn about the chakras
  87. Register with a dentist and have a check up - 25/9/12
  88. Finish knitting the Berry Waffle Thermal t-shirt
  89. Get a bra fitted properly
  90. Learn to spin yarn on a drop spindle
  91. Create a realistic house keeping plan and follow it for one month
  92. Learn calligraphy
  93. Make a will
  94. Go to the theatre 3 times
  95. Print out photos stored on laptop, make albums
I havn't got a full 101 things that I really want to do at the moment, so I'm leaving these 6 free because I'm certain that new goals will crop up in the course of working on other ones. I'll fill these in as I think of them:


Sunday, 26 August 2012

One month in pictures - Day 9

Dinner today with Mother Crafty Blueberry - dinner's always so much better cooked by my Mum.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Friday, 24 August 2012

One month in pictures - Day 7

Watching Swiss Rolls migrate at midnight on 'How It's Made' on Quest.
We salute you brave little snack cakes!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

One month in pictures - Day 6

The home brew is fizzing nicely after a small exploding incident last night when it got too enthusiastic.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

One month in pictures - Day 5

Tried taking a photo of my elderly cat dozing in the sun. Cat woke up, saw dangling camera cord, went nuts.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

One month in pictures - Day 4

On a lunchtime walk I saw the concrete innards of Leeds University for the first time; so impressively ugly.

Monday, 20 August 2012

One month in pictures - Day 3

The rainy river on my walk to work. The air smelled of Summer flowers and Autumn.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Saturday, 18 August 2012

One month in pictures - Day 1

I'm going to try to take a photo a day, everyday for a month. I hope this will prompt me to choose one thing from every day that I've enjoyed or that's important to me. Here's the first one:

Scratching a friendly, sleepy piglet

Friday, 17 August 2012


Mr Crafty Blueberry did some of wildlife spotting from the sofa today when this little chap scuttled through our yard and past the open door:

After traversing our yard 'Denis' went back to the park again then headed next door and tried on a takeaway container in the manner of a hermit crab:

Then a couple of the young street urchins were getting interested in it. They're a curious, Lord Of The Flies bunch so Mr CB picked up the hedgehog in a towel and moved it back to the park before it got barbecued in a sacrifice to their savage gods.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Fun with offal

Today I broke virgin territory by cooking with offal for the first time, in the form of pigs liver. I used Frugal Queen's recipe for faggots and it was a whole new experience - a bit bloody but with tasty results. I halved the ingredients used in the original recipe because I don't have a big enough mixing bowl, saucepan or roasting trays to make the full 28. I miscalculated with the liver and forgot to half the amount but I'm glad I did because it's added to the flavour and bulked out the flavour for hardly any cost.

375g Pork mince = £2
538g Pigs liver = 57p
275g Value bacon = 97p
1/2 pack Value gravy granules = 10p
2 packs Value stuffing 30p
1/2 bag value onions = 35p

Total = £4.29 for 16 faggots = 27p each

They are tasty, porky and very rich indeed. I feel stuffed now! I didn't think liver would taste so rich or go so wonderfully soft and tender.

We've eaten 4 for dinner tonight and I've frozen the rest in three batches of four. Unusual, frugal and yummy!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Shaving money of the grocery shop (but still a soft cat mama)

I've just done a big Tesco shop online (£3 delivery but it cuts out all impulse buys and supermarket rage) and thought I'd done a pretty thrifty shop...until I checked the grand total. It was £70 for two weeks worth of shopping for two people. That seemed like a hell of a lot so I opened the basket and scrolled through, ready to weed out any extravagant purchases. Job done, I checked the total - £68. A further weeding got it down to £66. This still seems like alot to me. I buy mainly from the Everyday Value range, buy with meals in mind and think ahead to how left overs can be used in case there are any, and if there's a saving to be made I buy in bulk. If I see a recipe I want to try I price it up roughly and if it's too much per portion I find a way to make it more cheaply or I don't make it at all. My lunches for work are generally a 26p can of beans, a tuna or ham sandwich or (pushing the boat out here) a 46p can of sardines on toast. I buy the cheapest of everything unless it's false economy.* I try anything once - trying the value washing up liquid turned out to be a 35p gamble that didn't pay off and I'm going back to a more expensive brand, but the 27p toilet cleaner is a top buy, and the 46p bourbon biscuits are splendid. 

This all shaves money off, but the fact remains that the big shop that cost me £40 three years ago now costs close to £70!

With food prices at a high what ways do you find to save money on your grocery shop? I'd love to know and to see what you think.

*Ah - nearly everything. It turns out that my shop was indeed frugal and practical until I got to the cat stuff. A big bag of premuim litter (cuts down on nasty smells), special cat food for two weeks as they get sick eating cheap stuff (fussy little sods) and poop scoop bags for freshening the cat litter between changes = £16. Dammit.

Friday, 3 August 2012

De-cluttering Part 2 - Get stuck in

Get set.
Go go go!
 Here are the two approaches I take when de-cluttering:
5 minutes a day: this is the thing that's made the biggest difference to how I approach de-cluttering and tidying now. Set yourself 5 minutes (or two of your favourite tunes) to target one small area, such as a drawer or a single shelf. Divide larger areas that will take longer, such as a wardrobe, into 5 minute segments and tackle them one at a time, day by day. Empty the area you're tackling and sort everything into separate piles - things that will stay, rubbish/recycling and things to donate to charity or sell. The 5 minutes fly by and it's surprising what you can get done in that time. I often find that having done one 5 minute chunk I'm all geared up to do a second one.
The Battle Plan; there are times when you might feel like setting aside a day to attack one particular room. I did this with my kitchen last weekend with good results, though I was totally knackered afterwards and I could do with spending a second day on it (it's a work in progress). Before I started through I got my Battle Plan straight. In the preceding few days I studies how we use that room - what we use most, any awkward places where regularly used items are stored, things that got in the way, problem areas, all that kind of thing - then jotted down ideas for where things could be moved to and what order it would be easiest to do things in. I found this made the whole process less daunting and because I had a rough schedule to follow.

Three common obstacles to de-cluttering:
  • Not sure whether to keep something or get rid of it? Time to get tough on yourself and ask:

        When did I last use it and will I use it again?
        Why am I keeping it?
        If I get rid of it am I ever likely to miss it?
       If I moved to a place half this size would I happily find room for this?
       Be honest with yourself here. If you're struggling to decide pack it - along with any   other unsure things - away in a box, label it and come back to it in a couple of months, and ask the same questions again.  
  • A place for nostalgia; this is my nostalgic Cancerian side coming out, but there are some things where it would be too much of a wrench to get rid of, they hold too many memories. For these things it's up to you to decide what's special to you and what you're keeping out of habit. I find that I keep a lot of things that, when it comes down to it, I don't miss at all when I finally move on from them and give them away. However there have been a couple of occasions when the opposite has happened; I've been tough on myself, got rid of something then later I've tried to find it, remembered I gave it away and been disappointed and annoyed with myself. If in doubt put it in the Unsure Box and come back to it a couple of months down the line.

  • Respect your partner's belongings; when you're filled with the zeal of a new de-cluttering convert it can be tempting to impose it on your partner against their will. If they're willing to be part of your Clutter Free Crusade then that's great, otherwise you should be prepared to make compromises. De-cluttering is a positive move but it's not worth starting World War Three over!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

De-cluttering Part 1 – Preparing

I’ve been doing a lot of de-cluttering and whilst there’s still a way to I’ve got better at it than I was and for once I’ve been motivated to keep going with it. This is the first of two posts I’m writing to tell you the things that have helped me on my way. So, onwards to part one…

Motivation; take a moment to think about why you want to de-clutter. Maybe you dream of turning a clogged up spare room into your craft room or want space to drag out your old exercise bike so you can get fit, or maybe it’s because it will allow you to enjoy your home rather than feeling like all that stuff is about to swamp you (this is what kicked me into action). Write that goal down and underneath keep track of your progress. When your motivation flags it can give you a boost to remember why you started in the first place and how much stuff you’ve binned or given away.

Mind-set; by making the decision to clear out the things you don’t want you’re doing something remarkably positive for yourself. This is your chance to re-claim your physical space, make it yours and transform it into a place you can enjoy spending time in – all for free. By de-cluttering you take control of things, rather than things controlling you. For me de-cluttering from basement to attic has given me an insight into the kinds of things I buy and hold onto and what I spend money on. It’s also a liberating experience to get rid of stuff you don’t really want but have hung onto out of habit, such as clothes that don’t fit or for other reasons, like unwanted gifts. You can also uncover buried treasure, like those six bottles of shampoo you bought on special offer two years ago and dumped in the bottom of the wardrobe because there was nowhere else to put them. Having a clear out can also create extra mental space -  your home can often reflect your head and vice versa, so a clear out can be a detox for your mind as well as your home.

Inspiration; search out blogs and forums with other people who’ve taken up a de-cluttering campaign of their own. Seeing photos of other people’s de-cluttering results can inspire you to crack on.