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Wednesday, 24 December 2014

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ONE AND ALL




Wishing everyone a very happy Christmas and a happy, healthy 2015
 
 


Thanks so much to all my followers, may your Christmas be very special and the New Year bring, health and happiness in bucket loads.

I'll be back in a few days xx

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Selfish Behaviour

First of all a big welcome to my new followers: ribenaruby and simplesuffolksmallholder,  thanks for clicking :)

What a mild day we have had today.  I took the opportunity to finish my pre-Christmas errands and the town was so festive and full of Christmas music that it fair lifted my spirits.  I made my last 2 Advent gifts....



Day #23 was a pretty glass dish that I really like but have no real room to display
Day #24 (paid in advance) was a read-once book which might make someone a nice gift

Both went to the Heart Foundation charity shop along with the other bits I had put aside.  I have tried to share out my giving among several charities as they are all worthwhile in different ways but does anyone else feel that you have to spread yourself a bit thin in the charity giving stakes?  I have my favourites, of course, but there are so many charities doing good out there that I feel guilty not being able to help them all in some way.

Today I witnessed something incredibly selfish.  I decided I needed a pot of tea in town and popped into the local Marks & Sparks coffee shop.  It's always so very busy and I struggled to find a seat but managed to get one eventually.  Next to me was a lone woman at a table for 4, bum on one seat, bags on another, coat on a third but no food or drink.  After about 15 minutes a man turned up who was remonstrated with for being late.  After some discussion (which I could overhear without straining ;)  the man suggested getting some complimentary water to put on the table.  At the counter is a jug of tap water, glasses, and slices of lemon from which you are free to indulge.  The woman brought not 2 glasses but 4 to make the table look fully occupied before she ordered 2 hot drinks for them.  I left a couple of minutes later without making any comment but I was sorely tempted.....  would you have been brave enough ?

Thanks so much for popping in x



Monday, 22 December 2014

Loss Of Inspiration & Advent Update

Well the shortest day is over and we are motoring on to Spring!  Even though I know the worst of the weather is still to come, I feel more positive when the afternoons become lighter.  It can only get more cheerful :)

Just a quick update on the Advent gifts:

Day #20  Items donated to FB trolley

Day #21 Two brand new computer cables (still sealed) found in a drawer sent to CS

Day #22 I am running out of inspiration...... so all my loose change popped into Air Ambulance collection box

I have 2 more gifts to make but have no idea what they will be.  Perhaps a couple of handmade items to the charity shop? Help!




Thanks so much for popping in x

Friday, 19 December 2014

Hooray for Handmade Revival

A big welcome to my new follower, Kate. Thanks for clicking!

When I was in junior school I learned to knit, sew and do cross stitch.  My hand sewing wasn't very good but I excelled at knitting and could knit an Aran jumper with the best of them.  Then when my children were babies (in the 1970's) we had very little money so I used to knit baby clothes then jumpers for the kids and jumpers for us too, for that matter.  I sewed a little (badly!), did a bit of cross stitch for a hobby and repaired socks to make the money stretch.  As the years went by, handmade went out of favour.  It was cheaper to buy knitted garments than to make your own so I stopped doing it and jumped on the bandwagon of shop bought mass- produced clothing.  I really missed my hand knitting but the kids no longer wanted 'mummy made it' clothes.  Only now that I am in my 6th decade has handmade made a big comeback.  I have rediscovered my make-it-yourself Mojo! Hurray!



I make cards, have rediscovered the pleasure of knitting, have bought myself a cheap sewing machine and am trying so many techniques that it's exciting once again.  Last night I watched a Kirsty Allsop programme for a Handmade Christmas and really felt in the true Christmas spirit.  It's all about families, isn't it.  I refuse to be sucked in by the commercialism.  Yes, I enjoy the ads on TV, the food fest ads, the technology ads...but that's all I do...watch and enjoy.  There is nothing I need.  I refuse to be a 'Bah Humbug' kind of person though.  Everyone wants their own kind of Christmas and good luck to them if they can afford to spend hundreds if not thousands of pounds on it.  Notice I said " if they can afford to spend..."  In my view it is pointless to spend so much that you are paying it back over the next 12 months.  I only spend what I have saved and budgeted for and yet we still have a wonderful family Christmas.  It can be done on a budget.  I look to blogland for cooking inspiration, cheerful makes, patchwork tutorials and I have found it all :)  

Did anyone else abandon handmade until recently?  What do you like making best of all?  I would love to know...

My Small Treasure for today is all the wonderful people who are happy to share their time, tips and inspiration with anyone who cares to look for it.  Bless you all x

Advent Gift day # 19

1.5l of Comfort pure was on offer at £2 in Morrisons so I bought an extra bottle and gave it to DD to help out with her budget.



Thanks so much for popping in x

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

A Quiet Morning & A Bargain

I popped into town this morning fully expecting loads of traffic and a struggle to find a parking space.  Joy of joys...no trouble!  I don't know whether people are waiting to do a big shop next week or whether they are well prepared this year.  But I had an enjoyable morning and a bargain.  About twice a year I get a voucher from Debenhams with whom I have a seldom used account.  I have had this account for more years than I care to remember but the card gives me 20% discount at the coffee shop (useful for meeting DD occasionally) so I have kept it on.  They sent me £5 with no minimum spend so my 5 pairs of socks cost me exactly 50p!  I am really pleased with that and the icing on the cake was that I remembered I had a £5 gift card for Boots in my bag ( a reward for doing surveys) so I had a free sandwich and drink for lunch too.
 

I have had a lovely browse around town, dropped the bag of goodies into the CS and posted some last minute cards.  Now I am sitting at the computer with a hot coffee with a shot of Bailey's in it.  Simple pleasures :)

Advent Update

Day #16  a handmade Christmas card sold online and 100% of the proceeds have been donated to Help for Heroes.

 
 
 
Day #17  As my trip into town cost so little I bought some goodies for the Food Bank.  Thinking of the children, I bought some little boxes of chocolate covered biscuits, some nets of chocolate coins, some value toffees, a bag of chocolate pieces, a Christmas pudding and some 10p bags of kiddy mix sweets.
 
Day #18  (I am paying this in advance as tomorrow will be spent entirely with FiL)  The gift is 2 boxes of mince pies for the Food Bank trolley.
 
Have a lovely day everyone and thanks so much for popping in x
 
 


Monday, 15 December 2014

Advent Gift Day 15

Tonight we met up with some friends whom we have known for more than 50 years and we shared a lovely Christmas celebration meal together in a local pub/restaurant.  I am so grateful for a) the friendship of two lovely people and b) being able to buy a nice meal out, that my Advent gift for today is this....



Day #15.... I had a few swagbucks points which I redeemed for a $1 Charity Impact Card.  I chose to buy a hot Christmas meal for 2 people with it. It will be used by the Westside Food Bank in Los Angeles to feed 2 disadvantaged people with a hot meal.  I wish I could donate more, maybe sometime in the not too distant future.

Thanks so much for popping in x

Sunday, 14 December 2014

The Christmas Story Quilted Panel

It's a little warmer today but I am still inclined to stay indoors and it will be a good time to do a little sewing.  All my handmade cards are done, so today will be spent on adding little beads to my quilted Christmas panel.  The washing is in, the fire is on and so is the kettle. Time for fun!

This is the first time I have done something like this and I'm pretty rubbish at sewing but I just love the look of this panel.





I'm not sure where to begin but perhaps with red beads as the holly berries at the bottom of this picture...


The Angel definitely needs a bit of sparkle doesn't she, perhaps on the heavenly bugle to begin with then on her dress....


I love the look of the shepherds with their 'over the top' beards, almost as if they are in disguise :)


I have backed the panel with plain material but this does give you a glimpse of my dog-leg machining...sigh....however hard I try my sewing looks like that of a seven year old!  At least the back won't be seen when it's hanging up.  Although I basted it all together before sewing the layers I found it quite hard to get it all smooth and flat.  Does anyone have any tips to help please? If I struggled with this then a bed size quilt will be impossible! It will all need a bit of a steam press when I've finished too, I think.  At least I am enjoying the creativity and my grandchildren won't be in the least bit critical :)


Reverse Advent gift #14  is cotton gloves & cuticle sticks which is going in the bag for the CS

 
 
Have a lovely Sunday everyone and thanks so much for popping in x

Saturday, 13 December 2014

A Cold Start & Advent Update


What a frosty start to the day this morning.  A thick frost lay on the ground when I woke up and it has hardly lifted all day.  Quite dark by 3.30pm too so I can hardly wait for 21st December when it will be Winter Solstice and the shortest day.  Then we'll know we have turned a corner and are heading in the right direction for Spring (as far as the light levels are concerned anyway).

As I was stuck at home, I took the opportunity to catch up with some housework and ironing which really warmed me up, the bonus being no heating required!  We had our LPG tank topped up on 2nd Dec (so that's where my £100 heating allowance has gone :) but it should be enough to keep us going until the new year if we are careful what we use.  I have a dread of running out when the snow comes, as there would be no hot water for showers, so last winter we bought an oil filled radiator as back up if the worst happens and we start to run low on LPG.  We could then heat the house with the electric fire in the living room and the electric radiator in the bedroom, conserving the LPG for hot water.  It pays to think ahead!

I have a bit of catching up to do so my reverse Advent gifts:

#11


#12

 
Both to the charity shop
 
#13
 
DH had taken the car to work so I couldn't go very far therefore I have put some change into the Air Ambulance box as my gift for today.
 
 

 
They do some marvellous work and it costs £2,500 each time the helicopter is called out.

Wrap up warm now...and thanks ever so for popping in x

Friday, 12 December 2014

Reason For Absence

I had quite an upsetting start to the day yesterday which so deflated me that I couldn't summon up the oomph to post anything.



There are a good many cats in our local area who generally avoid each other and rub along ok but sometimes, especially at night, we hear the hiss and screech of a couple of them having a quick spat.  Well yesterday morning we heard something but couldn't pinpoint where it came from.  We looked through windows to no avail but I had my PJ's on and didn't go out.  A short time later a neighbour rang the doorbell to say that her cat was lying dead beside our shed.  Apparently someone had seen a black cat which they didn't recognise and which had 'had a go' at the poor cat now lying in our garden.  There were no apparent injuries so the owner thinks he might have had a heart attack during the stand off. Never before have I heard of one cat killing another.  I felt so sad at the poor little body lying there, but wonder if my going outside in my night attire would have made any difference to the outcome.  I hope desperately that it would not have.

We went about our day as usual and took FiL out to lunch but we would have done that anyway so I will not count it as my Advent gift for yesterday.  I therefore owe 2 days worth including today and will try to make it up tomorrow somehow.

I do hope everyone is warm and safe after the terrible rain, wind and waves in the North.  Have you suffered any damage to your home or garden?  Did you have any power cuts?  I hope this is not the start of a hard winter.  Rain I can cope with but snow and ice noooo.........

Take care dear readers and thank you so much for popping in x



Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Bargains, Jam Pots & Feeling Helpless

Today dawned bright and sunny after a night of heavy rain.  I popped into town to post the dog bed pillowcases to the lovely Pam and decided to try to locate more. Crumbs, Pam, I see what you mean about C S prices!  I can understand them not wanting to split a set if they have the duvet cover but odd pillowcases at £2!! Mine were from Oxfam and cost pennies so I will keep an eagle eye on them for more oddments.

Each time I go into town I see the same people sitting on the cold pavement, not begging you understand, but obviously having no purpose to their day and possibly no home to go to.  My heart aches for them.  Sometimes I would like to offer food or a hot drink but I am afraid to approach them for fear of saying or doing the wrong thing.  Once again I walked past I am ashamed to say......

I had to go into Sainsbury's for something and spotted these....




Advent calendars reduced to 30p each so I grabbed the last 2 Peppa Pig ones and 2 Hello Kitty for the Foodbank trolley.  Reverse Advent  Day #10  so that 4 children can know the pleasure of a bit of chocolate during the countdown to the festive season. I also popped a big bag of rice and some tins of soup in.
 
I had another idea for a stocking filler.  These tiny jam pots are 5 for £1.50 in Morrisons and 4 of them fit nicely into a cellophane bag so the cost is:
 
4 jams @ 30p = £1.20
Bag & ribbon 23p  (£2.29 for 10)
 
Total £1.43

 
 Father-in Law will like these as a normal jar is much too big for him. 
 
Does anyone else have ideas for little gifts? I want to make some foodie ones soon too. Any ideas for those please?  I like Simple Livings Chocolate Oaties so they could feature heavily :)
 
Thanks so much for popping in x 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Quick Advent Update

Just a quick post today, I have been really busy, so just an update....

Reverse Advent day #9

The lovely Pam from A New Life in Wales has been busy for weeks making dog beds out of old pillowcases for the Dog Rescue Centre near her.  I popped into the Oxfam shop this morning and picked up 4 decent ones really cheaply so I will post them to her.  A small thing but it might help...

And Wow! hasn't it been cold today.

I promise a better post tomorrow...honest :)

Thanks for popping in x

Monday, 8 December 2014

Foodbanks & Ironing

 
The need for Foodbanks is making headline news once again. 13 million people are below the poverty line. Someone has said that people are going hungry because they can't cook.  What b*ll*cks!  Families are hungry because they have no food to cook or sometimes no means to cook it with.  I don't want to start a huge discussion because so many people are able to make a better fist of it than me.  See Frugal Queen's blog for a wonderful but heart wrenching post, but it could happen that any one of us could lose their job tomorrow, or be widowed, or penniless for any number of reasons.  Every day I am grateful for having enough to eat, for being warm, for having warm clothing for a fast approaching winter, for living a fairly stress free life.  My parents were never wealthy either, we lived in a council house but were lucky to have never known true hunger.  Shortages, yes, but hunger, no.

I have a personal dilemma.....I donate to the local Foodbank every week but I don't know whether or not to volunteer to help.  I have some free time but my big fear is in encountering someone I know personally who is in need.  Would it be embarrassing to them as well as me? Would it put them off coming for help?  What should I do?  Does anyone else help out at a local Foodbank?

Reverse Advent Day #8



My gift for today was almost an hour and a half spent ironing for my daughter.

I popped over to see her and drop off some Christmas gifts which she will deliver for me to some friends of hers.  She was almost literally snowed under with washing and ironing.  She is struggling to work extra hours (impending redundancy creating the need to save, save, save) cook, clean & take care of the children too.  Ironing was the least I could do.  She would have done the same for me :)

Thanks so much for popping in x









Sunday, 7 December 2014

Affordable Gift Ideas

Oooh, I have more followers! A big hello to:

Northern mum down South, Pam & Bonnie Frame.  I hope todays post will not be too boring and put you off!  But...

Over the last few days I have been thinking about when we were broke, the kids were small and we still wanted to celebrate Christmas by giving gifts to others.  I remember the agony of indecision, spending as little as possible but wanting the gifts to look decent.  Poundland and the like (other pound shops are available :) were not around then.  Probably Woolworths was the equivalent at that time.  Now they have some super stuff for affordable gifts.  The lovely baking book, paper cases and even a little set of scales were all £1 each and would make a great gift for a budding cook (or new money saver) Popped in a gift bag (3 for a pound in the card shop) they would look very presentable.  I notice that there is a new book out now too for celebration cakes.  It might be a bit ambitious for me though...the incompetent cook ;)  ....maybe great for others.


Add these serving tongs to bulk it out if you like, also £1 in various colours....
 

They also sell wool. There are not many colours to choose from but these lovely sparkly DK yarns are on 3 for 2 at the moment.  £2 for 3 balls make a great gift for a crafter or charity knitter (pop in a gift bag!)  Great for knitting gloves with....


I spotted these in Aldi when we took dear FiL shopping.  £3.99 for 750g  Great for giving to a family, a teenage boy (my son would have loved them, he could eat for England) or any man in the family who is tired of getting socks.


I also saw some lovely photo frames for £1.  One of my favourite gifts of all time was from my best friend.  For our Ruby Anniversary she gave me a photo frame with a black & white photo of us and our Best Man on our wedding day. It's lovely...



This particular frame isn't available in the pound shops but there were some pretty ones which could have been decorated with gems and/or flowers to make them special.

There were also some super mugs for £1 which could be filled with wrapped sweets and popped in a cellophane bag tied with ribbon.

 I apologise if this post is boring to the well organised but it just might help someone out there who is struggling for ideas.  Has anyone else bought some bargain gifts? Any tips much appreciated

Thanks ever so for popping in x

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Washing Powder Test Results & Advent Update

A big welcome to my new followers....thanks for clicking!

In October I began an experiment to see if I am using too much washing powder per wash.  Remember this?


I marked the lid every time I did a load of washing and I am dismayed to find that I got this many loads done before I ran out. .....



Only 48.   48..... I ask you!  I am definitely using too much because with mindful use of detergent I have only stretched the box by a paltry 3 more loads.  This means that I have saved only 1p per load.  The phrase 'must try harder' springs to mind :-\

Today's Reverse Advent item is this...,


This DVD plus a couple of books are going to the CS on Advent day #6  Rather than take one item to the CS at a time I am going to pop them into a bag and drop them off once a week.  It seems silly making a special journey each time when I have to drive there.

I am enjoying immensely reading other peoples blogs in which they talk about their gifts . Frugal Queen, Sue and others are giving away some lovely items. It's fantastic.  I wish I could be a bit more creative in my giving but there's time yet...As I won't be going out tomorrow I am also making Advent #7 a gift to the Foodbank.  I have 3 items to donate but will buy another couple of things later to add to them. 

How is your Streetbank Advent going?  If you are taking part I would love to hear about it.  I need INSPIRATION!

Thanks ever so for popping in x

Friday, 5 December 2014

An Exciting Moment & Reverse Advent update.

It's Friday already.  I don't know where the week has gone and I haven't been idle either.  I am booked up for today too as dear Father in Law wants to go shopping.  He is 92 and very slow so it will be virtually an all day task to get him organised.  We do some of his shopping for him anyway but, for some inexplicable reason, he wants to go to Aldi and B & M today.  Now, there is no way on this earth that we would normally go on a Friday but he doesn't ask for much in this life so we will do our best to get him there.  Personally, I think he might live to regret it but I am counting the day given up to this task as my Reverse Advent gift  #5  I am busy sorting books for the CS which I will take this weekend and will let you know what I have found tomorrow.

Earlier in the week we decided to have a trip out to Newark as we have never been before and we were hoping the Christmas market was in full swing.  As it turned out we were a day too early :( but we had a lovely day there anyway.  As we are Club Brownhills members we could have a free overnight stay in our Wendy House on Wheels on their premises so we took them up on their kind offer.  Next morning look what we found next to us....

 
 
Alison Kershaw is a published author!  She has written (and is still writing) The Beyond series of supernatural books.  I have never read any of her works but I got talking to her husband and he explained that none of her books are really gory or nasty ( I would hate that) so I think I will try the first book in the series Didikai Witch.  I might have found a new genre to get stuck into :)
 
Has anyone read any of her books?  There are some reviews on Amazon but not enough yet for a clear picture to emerge. Can anyone help please?
 
Thanks ever so for popping in x
 
 

Monday, 1 December 2014

Streetbank Advent Day #1

Frugal Queen wrote a post about the Streetbank Advent. I have no idea how to post links but the idea is this.  It is the opposite of the usual Advent in that each day you give something away right up to Christmas. That is 24 Random Acts of Kindness during December.  Well I'm all for giving it a go.  Last weekend I had another sort out and I will see what I can do.  Anything from donating to the Foodbank, to donating to a CS, to popping coins in a Charity box, to giving someone a bit of help or time will count.  It doesn't have to be one each day you can give several days worth in one go and then none at all for while.  I will report what I have managed to do so please watch this space....

For today, I will begin with:

1) A stranger on the internet asked for some information on items she is collecting so I am posting her copies of what I have free of charge. She is more than pleased :)

It's obviously not worth posting a photo of an envelope but I am hoping to do more later today.


EDIT

2)  As I was doing a small shop today I added 6 items to my trolley for the Foodbank and popped them in the Sainsbury's collection point

3) All my leftover small change has been popped into the Air Ambulance box

4) DD is having a rough auld time of it lately so I purchased a Clarks shoe voucher towards the next pair of school shoes for each child.

That will put me ahead slightly in the Reverse Advent stakes as I might not be able to go out until later in the week.








Thanks ever so for popping in x