Thursday, 31 October 2013

5:2: Not Again!

Yet again, albeit after a mighty long break, I'm back on a 5:2 intermittent fasting diet.  'We've heard this before. How long is it going to last this time?' I hear a few of you mumbling cynically in the background.

But wait!  It's different this time, honest!  I've been on the plan for three weeks, have lost a respectable six pounds and at last my Moomin reward is tangible.  Here's the regime that seems to be working.

  • My two normal fasting days are Monday and Wednesday.   I've given up a previous idea I had where I spread the 24 hour period over two waking days.  Let's get the torture out of the way as early on in the week as possible.
  • I've discarded the idea of strict calorie counting and only approximate the 500 calorie goal.  Don't worry though I haven't decided that a piece of salted caramel cheesecake can't possibly be more than 50 calories.
  • My diet on fast days is pretty unmoving.  It's a bowl of porridge for breakfast (approx 100 calories), a banana for lunch (another 100) and a nice piece of steamed fish and veggies like this one (say 150) in the evening.   The rest of my allowance goes on milk in my tea.
  • In order to satisfy cravings for something sweet, I have a glass of diet cola or lemonade with my supper.
  • I'm accepting of those hunger pangs and tell myself that the discomfort won't kill me.  
And what ho!  I find automatically that I'm not overeating on non fast days either.  Throw a bit of exercise into the equation and sustained weight loss should be a dead cert!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Spooky VW

Photo:  Pinterest
Aside from getting some sweeties for the roaming neighbourhood kids tomorrow night I won't be making much of Hallowe'en tomorrow.  Not that it's a particularly big deal at Lovelygrey Cottage anyway.  I'm of the view that as it wasn't celebrated much in my childhood why should I be bigging it up now?   It's going to be an even lower key event this year as Louis is away on holiday with his dad so there's no need to mark the occasion at all.  A lone adult trick or treater would be just weird.

But if Louis were home I might get round to using the pumpkin that we won at scout bingo to replicate this beauty.  As I'm not going to make it myself I thought I'd share it today so that if you have the time and inclination you  could knock up your own version before tomorrow's witching hour!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Moneylending Update

This is Haneefan  from Pakistan.  How do I know that?  Well, because of lendwithcare she owes me money.  You may remember that, with a whole bunch of other strangers, I loaned her a few pounds to expand her shop.  She asked for such a teeny amount, just £112.24 but if her plan works then her income will increase by nearly 50%.  Improving someone's life that much just had to be worth a punt. There's no update on how she's doing but she is paying my original loan back.  So it was time to top up the account a little and see who else could do with a little assistance from the Lovelygrey purse.
I've decided to diversify my portfolio with a different business in another country.  This time I'm hoping that my loan will help Pablito acquire extra wood to expand his furniture business in the Philippines.

Isn't this a brilliant way of helping others?  If I really wanted I could gradually get my money back over time as repayments are made but instead I'm just topping up the pot a little to expand my lending activities.  And wouldn't it be good if there was a similar scheme in this country to help people find their feet?

Monday, 28 October 2013


Picture: Newton Abbot People

  • So what did I do with my 25 hour day?  Okay, there was a good bit of sitting around on my butt relaxing.  After all it was part of the weekend.  But I'm fairly pleased with what I achieved which was:
  • Making a lovely breakfast of scrambled egg and bacon served in warm tortilla
  • A nice swim here at Newton Abbot pool to kick off the exercise regime given that it was going to blow a hoolie that would put me off running.
  • My weekly shop which included a shedload of bargain fish from the reduced aisle.  That's now in the freezer for 5:2 fasting days.  I hadn't told you that I was back on this diet plan.  More about progress later.

  • I added Roboform to my computer to help me fill out competition entry forms faster.
  • I covered  the seat of a chair that's the identical twin of this one that I'd previously stripped and re-upholstered.  It's only eighteen months later that I've finally got round to producing a matching pair!
  • More unsuccessful attempts to produce half decent prints from my latest lino cut.  Whatever I do they turn out streaky and horrible.  Is it the ink or the surface of the lino which has been cleaned to within an inch of its life? Goodness knows but it's definitely all part of the learning process for a new craft.
  • After eighteen months where money has been tight due to separation and then acquiring a rental property I've finally set up a monthly ISA savings plan.  I'm using Hargreaves Lansdown as my broker and the Interactive Investor site was really useful in helping me pick my unit trusts.
Photo: Trip Advisor
  • I watched the first episode of Channel 4's new series of George Clarke's Amazing Spaces to keep alive the dream of motorhome living.
  • And finally when all was done and dusted and I was about to cook a lovely tea I had a cry from help from Salty Dog.  She's off to the US tomorrow and wasn't sure whether trains from Plymouth would get her to the airport on time because of 'The Storm'. I've rescued her from Newton Abbot station and will taking her further up the line to Exeter where she has a better chance of catching her flight on time. She treated me to supper at Spice Bazaar in Bovey Tracey.  It's a little gem of a place.  Pretty surroundings, really friendly staff and food that's out of this world!
That's plenty enough and I think that I can say that a longer day than usual wasn't wasted.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

An Extra Hour To Play With

Picture: Innocent Drinks
I woke up at about 5am. At least I think it was, if my electronic gadgetry has correctly reset itself in response to a return to Greenwich Mean Time. When I've mustered up some energy I'll be popping downstairs for my first cuppa. Then  I'll go on a bit of a  climbing expedition to fiddle with the kitchen clock that still relies on Luddite technology.

What am I going to do with my extra hour assuming it's not used up at the end of the day because I've  run out of steam and brought forward bedtime? Mmm I'm all dithery and undecided but want to use  in a special way. I'll share with you what I did in the morning. 

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Thought for the Day: Wouldn't It Be Good......

....if when they left school all children were equipped with the following skills acquired through a mixture of formal and home based education?  My original list was little but it has grown and grown!

  • The basic 3Rs.  Of course that has to be on the list It would be especially lovely if no-one had that widespread fear of basic arithmetic.
  • How to choose and work toward worthwhile goals.
  • A love of learning and  how to explore the avenues of knowledge that interest them the most.
  • Tolerance and understanding of others
  • How to be an activist when they is something that they believe needs to change.
  • Measured risk taking and how to learn from mistakes.
  • How to be considerate of others.
  • Knowing how to budget to live within their means and have money over for saving and giving.
  • Positive strategies for maintaining mental health.
  • Entrepreneurship so that they can top up the pot if budgeting proves to be insufficient.
  • A hobby to keep them out of trouble.  (Don't I sound like an old person here!)
  • Typing at a sufficient speed so that they can use I.T. really effectively.
  • Ways of exercising that they enjoy enough to promote lifelong fitness.
  • The ability to cook so that they can make a wide range healthy, cheap and delicious food for themselves and family.  The role of food in fostering relationships and shared experience.
  • The ability to effectively communicate and how to adapt that to any given situation. Knowing when, for example, to talk rather than text.
  • Basic skills for setting up and maintaining a home to be proud of.  

Friday, 25 October 2013

Under the Cover of Darkness

Boo hoo!  The clocks go back this weekend and this heralds a good four months of darkness which fills the time outside the working day.  During this period those who live towards the top of the Northern Hemisphere are like pit ponies.  But what better time is there for a lardy lady to start a running regime?  Then no-one but the bright eyed cats will witness my initial paltry and wobbly efforts as I pound the pavements in as yet, barely worn trainers. Then as the light returns in the spring I will emerge in full view  as the perfectly honed goddess that I want to be!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Cheap Meat

When a source of a particularly though provoking piece of information comes along I really must record its source to give my writing credence.  But darn! My methodology isn't always reliable so today you're going have to take my word.  I'm sure that, within the last few weeks, I heard someone bemoan the fact that many people only had a three £3 per day food budget. The reporter made it sound absolutely terrible.

Now correct me if I'm wrong but that seems, to a home cook, a reasonable amount of money with which to work. Okay, you may not get haute-cuisine but with that level of expenditure there's plenty of scope for a varied and interesting diet.

My personal secret is cheap meat.  Not nasty burgers made out of cow's ears and the like but good stuff, reared to acceptable standards that's nearly always to be had at the bargain basement end of the supermarket chill cabinets.

Here's an example of what can be done with these price busting finds.  Shepherd's pie of course seeing that I had bargain lamb mince in the freezer although I make more exotic spicy sheekh kebabs as part of a yummy feast with the other pack that I'd picked up at the same time. You must know how to concoct this easy-peasy staple of British cuisine.  Just brown the mince. Fry up onion, garlic and carrot in the meat fat and then mix all together with a can of crunched up plum tomatoes, herbs and seasoning. Top with mashed potato and grated mature cheddar in an ovenproof dish and freezer container for later on. Pop in the oven at Gas Mark 6 200 degrees Celsius until crispy and lush.

The freshly cooked dish did for supper and there was enough over for Louis' tea the next day.  Each of the tupperware tubs contain enough for hearty meals for two on a day when I can't be bothered to cook from scratch.   There may be a bit over then depending on how hungry we are on the day.  Now I didn't price this up but it easily comes in at under £1 a portion.  With frugal porridge for breakfast that leaves plenty of scope for a good balanced packed lunch.  Living on £3 a day doesn't seem half bad at all!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Spare Wool Anyone?

I'm rather taken by the Bommel, or to us Brits, pompom range from MYK in Berlin.  Not that I'll be rushing out and buying one.   They're 'Price on Application' which is  secret code for very expensive.  Could I be patient enough to cadge unwanted wool and then make hundreds of woolly balls to copy one of the designs myself. I really don't think so and with my record of not finishing projects there's a danger that my house would end up looking like a fluffy ball pool.

So, I'll just have to enjoy the pictures from the MYK website.    think that the multi-coloured creation above is my particular favourite although the bear skin and his companion snow leopard rug come a close second.     Pop over to the website yourself as there's more rugs, cushions and chairs that are all highly covetable.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

"What Child Wouldn't Like It?"

So the C-word will be with us all too soon and I know some who are not quite as bah-humbug as myself are already making preparations.  But, isn't it sometimes a bit of a struggle picking presents for kids where you're not so au fait with what floats the boat of their particular age group? Books are a good idea but if you go with the latest bestseller there' a good chance  of duplication in the stocking department.

You need to source a more obscure title. For kids aged around eight to twelve can I recommend Triffic Chocolate?  It's Louis' absolute favourite with the quote up top today coming from him.  His own copy, purchased from a charity shop in an already dog-eared state is now swathed in sellotape to keep it together.  He reads this funny history of chocolate over and over again.  Surely this and a big bar of Daily Milk could be the ideal gift solution for many a child out there?

Monday, 21 October 2013

More About My Love Affair With Bernard Moss

To me, this is pure joy in pottery form! The Bernard Moss figurine that is my absolute favourite example of this craftman's work.  Even the fish is a happy bunny.

Did I ever tell you Bernard Moss's daughter got in touch with me?  She'd read one of the blog posts that I'd written about him and told me that sadly her dad had passed away but she was pleased that I appreciated his work so much.  I was dead chuffed.

Anyway this jubilant little fellow was the one that started my love affair with Mr Moss's work when I saw him at a house that I visited.  And he's on sale on Ebay in an auction that ends today! There's not a lot stopping me running off to Bidding Scheduler and making a ridiculous bid so that this bearded boy becomes mine all mine!  Indeed I put one there for a time and then cancelled it.  After all my main priority at the moment is boosting my savings and impulse purchasing ceramics doesn't really fit into the scheme of things.  Unless a wealthy benefactor takes pity and buys it for me, I'm going to have to wait to catch my own fisherman at a time when I'm a bit more flush.  In the meantime I've got his photo on Pinterest to enjoy!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Over the Moon!

Today's post comes with rather a cross looking beastie.  I had hoped to find a happier one but this depiction of the famous nursery rhyme comes copyright-free.  Why were the Lovelygrey gang metaphorically up there  vaulting over celestial objects with that cow yesterday? Well after Louis and Abi, the mini Zoe Wannamaker lookalike relentlessly pursued an increasingly grumpy postie around the estate, our mail was finally delivered at the ridiculously late time of 2:30pm. No wonder the poor fellow was put out, even without the added annoyance caused by pesky kids on a mission. Goodness knows what time he eventually got home and put his feet up.

A mere postal delivery isn't enough to lift our spirits every day.  Squirrelled away amongst yesterday's junk mail though was the letter we've been waiting for. Louis' hard work has paid off and he got the grades in his 11 plus exam which indicate that the selective schools around here are likely to have a place for him!  As I've explained before I'm hoping that the local boy's grammar school will be the schooling environment that meets the needs of a very bright child with specific learning difficulties the most effectively.  So yay! and triple yay! we're all as pleased as punch.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

2:5 Spending Week!

Four months after suggesting that I might like to set myself the challenge of achieving a 2:5 spending week I did it!  Now for those of you who live and work right out in the sticks this might be a breeze.  I know that there are people out there who bulk buy their supplies and then don't not shop for yonks.  But for the average person in the industrialised work it's a hard feat even if you're not a blatant shopaholic. Plans for no spend days are thwarted by unforeseen events at all too regular intervals.

'Mum, I've run out of dinner tickets!'
'Oh, by the way did you know that tea money is due?'
'Would you like to buy a raffle ticket for this good cause?'
'Oh no! That damn eco-friendly car that should have saved me a fortune needs refuelling yet again!'

So how did I attain my non insignificant goal without holing up in the wilderness?  Well, being ill in bed for two days with the cold from hell helped.  Once entrenched in my billowy pit I avoided the temptation of online shopping eschewing it for other free pleasures, like listening to the first part of the lovely Grayson Perry's Reith Lecture.  It comes highly recommended by me, Red Mel and Snobby secretary.  On the other days I was careful not to forget lunch, made do with what was in the fridge when preparing the evening meal and avoided the shops altogether.   That's a little unnecessary these days as I've pretty much curbed impulse purchases.

This weekend though I must break my fast.  There's a grocery shop to be done and I need a cheap picture mount as a tool for my lino printing.  But I'll walk past the clothes and other non food goodies at the supermarket.  However nice they are I'm going to spurn them. For after all, the piggy bank has got to be filled for more important things!

Friday, 18 October 2013

Thought for The Day: Eggs, Baskets and All That

Remember that free online course, 'Creativity Innovation and Change' from Coursera  that I signed up for a few months back?  Well I'm still working on the  materials but now, rather creatively and innovatively I feel,  playing footloose with the eight week time frame set by the lecturers.  I figured that with the format of a MOOC, massive online open course, that I have the freedom to pretty much use the material as I like.  And what a resource that this project has provided.  There's so much articles and exercises but my brain has become befuddled by  the breadth of what's been provided.  So, instead of rushing through it to stick to deadlines I'm plodding on, exacting change at my own pace, slowly but surely working on the project that I've devised....which is.....

....finding ways to earn my current income outside the constraints of formal employment giving me more flexibility with regard to time and what I do!  As you can see that would be a big ask to achieve in an eight week period so I've set myself a goal of achieving this by late Spring 2015.  Still tricky but do-able I think.  Two of the ideas that came up in course material yesterday were really useful and oddly enough reinforced what's been bouncing around in the old noggin over the last few days.  I'll take that coincidence as meaning that these are things that I've got to pay attention to.

One was clearing the decks to make room for the important stuff that I need to do.   So as a symbolic gesture, all those library books are going back today but over the next few weeks I'm going to mull over this and think of how I shed what I do that's not important to make time for the things that get me nearer my goal. The other was that reliance of one income source really leaves us quite vulnerable. It's best to have a portfolio of things that bring in money so that the storm can be weathered if one income stream is hit.  Now that's been really getting me thinking.  It's really quite dangerous, if like me, you have just one major income stream.  If my current solitary job ended tomorrow, and indeed public sector employment is no longer a given for life,  I'd be a bit stuffed!   A sobering though indeed and one I'll be factoring into my plans so that there'll be a diverse range of income providing opportunites that will act as a buffer if one of the schemes goes tits up!

Thursday, 17 October 2013

The Little Blue Box

I posted last week setting myself the challenge of finishing something and yay! I have done just that.  My intention was to be able to show off something pretty round about now but I can't.  However what I've completed is probably more important in the scheme of things. Finally, finally after what seemed like hours of trial and error and fishwifey language, I managed to transfer all my photos from my old laptop to the new one and have a back up to boot. Rather sensible I feel given that so many memories could have been lost at the swipe of a button.

In order to do this I  contemplated paying for online storage in a cloud, situated somewhere over the Devon hills perhaps?  There's always lots around up there.  Those monthly payments would have worked out expensive over the long term.  Instead I coughed up and  invested in a Verbatim 320GB External Hard Drive.  Mine's a natty blue like the one above but the link will take you to a black one that is a similar price to that I paid.  Trying to load all my documents onto a memory stick caused my poor old computer to crash after it had struggled with the task for many hours at a time.  With this bit of kit the job was done and dusted after a couple of hours.

In my original post introducing this nubby problem I urged you to learn from my mistakes.  Well, it would be a good idea for me to learn lessons too.  Now I've got my little blue box there's no reason not to back up my documents every once in a while, perhaps every month or so.  And from now on I'll be deleting a whole load of my snaps after they've been downloaded, sorting the wheat from the chaff.   Not all those 16,000 odd photos that I struggled with moving have any sentiment value and would have been better off binned a long time ago!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Arty Kate

This is lovely smiley  Kate.  Like me she's an occupational therapist working in older adult mental health. No, our job doesn't revolve around raising the toilets of the poorly.   That's what people normally think when I tell them what I do.  So what am I actually up to at work?  Well, unsurprisingly I'd have to shoot you if I told you.  Not that it's top secret.  It's so diverse that it takes a wee while to explain!

Anyway It seems that loads of people in my profession have that crafty edge.  Unsurprising given the therapeutic value of being creative. Both Kate and Red Mel, another occupational therapist, are my current role models at the moment.  For not only do they have a day job in the NHS but they also consistently produce lovely things which they go out and sell.  That's what I want to do with my prints and jewellery if I ever get my act together!  A jobbing artist is my dream job.

 I thought I'd show you Kate's gorgeous designs. Red Mel can have her turn  if and when she gets an online presence.  This montage is a good representation of the diversity of  Kate's work.  I'm particularly taken by the lovely blue hare.  Or it is a rabbit? Her detailed psychedelic designs also take my fancy.  They're way more intricate than anything that I rustle up.  And I love her use of texture. Now that's given me some ideas for my my own printmaking.

If I've whetted your appetite,  head on over to Kate's facebook page where individual work is displayed to better effect. For the time-being she tells me that this is the best place to contact her if you want to buy her arty wares!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

The New Breed of Idiocy

If you missed out on buying Asda's mental patient costume before they sheepishly withdrew it from sale  you can still grab yourself this tasteful little number from Ebay! When I've been in the pits of a depressive episode it's just how I liked to dress.

The good news is that there is a slow but sure movement to a more compassionate attitude towards you who are suffering from mental illness.  Thankfully these days this type of merchandising  is more likely to elicit shocked outrage rather than a titter.  And I've found more evidence that things are changing.  Derogatory language used  by respected academics and physicians in the not too distant past just isn't acceptable today.  I've come across some atrocious stuff in archived notes from the 1960s and '70s that make my blood boil.  People were written off as useless by bumptious blokes wielding  significant amounts of power and influence sometimes before they even reached the end of their teens.   It makes heartbreaking reading.  In  researching some stuff for work around whether sensory intervention is helpful for people with dementia I came across this little gem.

Cleland, C. C. & Clark, C. M. ( 1966) Sensory deprivation and aberrant behavior among idiots. American Journal of Mental Deficiency, 71, 213–393.

I'm taken by both the title of the article and the name of the journal itself.   Maybe the title could be resurrected for the 21st century and consider the behaviour of the modern day idiots, those who don a dodgy costume at Halloween.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Stripped and Saved from the Skip

Once the blue and yellow Swedish giant of the furniture world touches down in Devon in 2015 I expect I will partake in a storage solution or two.  Like the one that is just in shot on the right of the picture.   But my seven year old chipboard veneered desk, was looking a little clapped out and I didn't fancy a journey  wedged up against the boxes of its flatpack replacement on the hundred mile drive back from Bristol where the nearest IKEA store is located .  So when this little dovetail jointed Ercol-lesque beauty was no longer wanted at work I jumped at the chance of acquiring a freebie.  Just a going over with the sander and a rub of wax has transformed something that was destined for the skip into a piece of furniture to treasure.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Bingo Booty

You may have thought my comping days were over as I haven't spoken about this particular activity for a wee while.  Quietly in the background my attempts to win a mint continue almost on a daily basis.  There hasn't been the't sniff of success since winning Dualit kitchen appliances back in June. The problems is that the odds aren't particularly good.  These contests are well publicised and thousands enter them.  But maybe prizes are like buses. You wait for ages and two or three come along in a row.

I helped out at Scout Bingo last night, setting up, selling tickets and making tea and coffee in the interval.  It seemed rude not to  join in with the hot gambling action so both Louis and I had books of six tickets per game and raffle tickets as well!  All that benevolent behaviour must have prompted my personal wish granting fairy to look upon me favourably or maybe it was just the odds of winning with a smaller number of competitors had something to do with it.  Anyway, here are the amassed winnings of me and Lou minus a pack containing treat sized Maltesers which somehow seems to have disappeared.   Not bad eh!  There's even a fifty pence piece that paid for my mid-time cuppa for being pipped to the post by another bingo-ista who won a line at the same time as me but had a higher cut on the cards.

My cheese and biscuit prize included a lovely glass chopping board and I'd just been thinking one of mine needed replacing.  I've also had a hankering for vegetable carving for a few days now so the pumpkin meets that need.  Perhaps its arrival suggests that a handsome prince too may be just around the corner!

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Easy Money?

Photo: Motocilla
If I were feeling particularly perky this morning I would have hopped out and taken my own photo of one of the pillar boxes in the village.  But I'm not.  So, I went off on a online hunt for an illustration for my post and got sidetracked on Wikipedia by the diversity of boxes out there.   'I bet there's a letter box appreciation society' I thought Of course there is!  It goes by the name of The Letter Box Study Group for anyone who's interested.

This 'post' (unintentional pun) is about the privatisation of the Royal Mail that took place yesterday.  I didn't agree with it but saw the potential to make a fast buck a few weeks ago.  There followed a little fight between the angel by good shoulder and the devil on my bad.  And I'm sure that most of you will pleased to hear that the angel won!  Although I'm still a bit miserable that I've lost out on the chance to make an easy £300 or so as a consequence.   That's over half a week's salary after tax for no work at all!

The hype though has got me thinking about investing in stocks and shares again as I have done in the past.   There's an ISA allowance of £11,520 annually and if I were ever to have enough money to invest outside the framework of a tax efficient tool I'd have an annual capital gains tax allowance to play with as well.  Currently this is £10,900.  I've got a dream that involves giving up my employed status in 2015 and going it alone.  Maybe investing but on an ethical footing can be part of the plan?  After all those profits shouldn't just be going to the fat cats.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Squash Doubles

It's starting to feel positively autumnal.  There's a nip in the air but I'm resisting turning that central heating dial.  Who needs a hot home when a hearty supper can warm you up!  And what vegetable fits the bill more appropriately than a yummy squash!  Seeing that I've been on my ownsome for the last couple of days just one of the butternut variety provided me with supper on both evenings.  Firstly I  baked my halved deseeded squash in the oven at Gas Mark 5 190 degrees celsius for about an hour with a knob of butter and a twist of pepper.

Whilst the squash was in the oven I fried some chopping smoked streaky bacon and grated some proper vintage cheddar. These were mixed with the softened scooped out flesh of the squash when it had cooked.  Once I'd accomplished this complicated culinary feat  I popped half the mixture back into the squash skin and baked it for another fifteen minutes.  Et voila!  Meal number 1 that tastes just as delicious as it looks.  The rest of the squash mix went in the fridge.

Behold, I give you easy-peasy meal number two! In a pan I warmed through the rest of the mix and softened some chopped greens at the same time.  These were mixed up and removed from the pan which was then washed up ready to be put to use again for the second stage of the process.

I added some oil to my clean pan and popped in a wheat tortilla sandwich filled with my squash/greens mix. There was nothing more to do than brown both sides and supper was ready.  Now this really was the biz!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

The Need to Finish

I've got so much on the go at the moment! Apparently embarking on a mass of stuff all at once is a trait of people born under the star sign of Aries. Whilst I've known quite a few people who share March/April birthdays and seem to possess this characteristic, I'm not sure its down to astrology.  Surely there's others out there whose birthdays are at different times of the year who have just as much unfinished stuff in the mental and physical realm?

I've been thinking that it would be lovely to have the luxury of doing one thing at a time but in reality that's not going to work for the bigger projects.  For example, the world cannot come to a stop whilst I write that bestselling novel that's started to be transferred out of headspace and into print. All that stuff about breaking tasks down into little bits applies blah di blah di blah! For now though it would do me a world of good if one of those projects actually got finished.  So I'm making a pledge to all of you right now with the hope that going public will spur me on.  By the end of next week I'm going to post a picture of something that I've actually completed.  The first task is choosing the one that it's going to be!

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Picking the Brains of Those More Experienced

Hey all you mamas out there with bigger boys than my own ten year old!  I need some advice from those who've had time to acquire a little more wisdom than me. Is this kind of trail of wanton destruction which can occur at any time in any room likely to stop sometime soon?

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Small Space Spending

Photo:  Reywas92
Sunday afternoon was spent gardening.  For some this is the height of pleasure but for me it's just a chore, albeit a calorie burning one!  If I were living in my motorhome I wouldn't have to do that. There wouldn't be a bath to clean or seemingly endless carpeted rooms to vacuum either. That would free up loads more time for walking, writing, crafting and seeing friends and family.

Yet at the moment something is stopping me ditching the house.  I'm not sure what.  Maybe it's the logistics of being technically homeless.  It could be the idea of living with a small boy in a confined space.  Or perhaps I'm heeding the reactions of the 'Are you mad!!!!!?' brigade.  There's a few of those I've spoken to since this idea has cropped up.

But I'm still mulling it over.  Maybe it's an idea that'll come to fruition in the spring when it's warmer. Or then again I could save a shedload of heating bills if I acted quickly.   Ooh I don't know!   In the meantime I've adopted a new spending plan.  There's eighteen months to go before the buy to let mortgage ends and I can move into my Brixham home.  So even if I don't become a van dweller I've decided that, aside from householder expenses, I'm going to spend as if I were living in the  motorhome.  There's no space for wanton acquisition.  Even a few extra cardies would pose storage problems.   This strategy should save me a few pounds in the next year and a half, even if it won't be quite as much as if I were brave and started to live the full blown nomadic life.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Learn From My Mistakes!

Just a little tip for all you lovelies that's boring but important.  Is there lots of stuff on your electronic devices that is precious to you.  Photos of loved ones perhaps or documents that would be difficult to duplicate.  Well back them up on a regular basis!

My new laptop is lovely.  I bought it, after much thought, so Louis could have his own and there would be one piece of gadgetry is this home that's sacred to me!  But the old one has got an incredible 26GB of photos on there, accumulated over a four year period.  There were no copies anywhere, except those on my blog.  One little incident on the hard drive and boom! all those memories would be gone.

The need for a massive data transfer has caused a rather tortuous weekend - with some nice bits in between like a walk in the woods.  Finally, after multiple attempts, stuff is being copied at a crawl onto a 32GB memory stick ready for transfer over to the new device.  The process started early yesterday evening and still goes on as I type now.   Still I've had a lucky escape but a valuable lesson has been learned.   Backing up little and often is my mantra now.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Meteorological Musing

Photo:  Telegraph
Here's a  picture that I came across a few weeks ago of a cloud angel over Sidmouth, a seaside town pretty near to my Devon home.  I thought I'd use it at sometime and today's that day. For as I was driving home this morning after a night of revelry with Red Mel and Mr Metrosexual, a question bounced into the old noggin.

The peeps at the Met Office seemed to have got their forecast for cloud right.  There were some dirty great black ones on the horizon.  But how does a weather man know that it's just going to be cloudy and that the fluffy things in the sky are just going to sit there benignly and not dump a whole load of rain on our heads as they're passing over?

Friday, 4 October 2013

Inspiration for an Idea-less Day

I'll be darned if I can come up with something that's all my own work to blog about today.  Sometimes it's like that. Isn't it a good job that there's plenty of good stuff out there that others have produced to share?  This wisdom from Bill Watterson is a cracker!

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Three Things About Ears

Did you know that if you say 'ears' instead of yes it makes you sound really posh just like Prince Charles? Try it!

'Never stick anything smaller than an elbow in your ear'.   Wise words indeed proffered by  Mr Metrosexual to Louis after I was hauled out of work by the school to perform micro-surgery on Tuesday.  Teachers understandably decided that removing foreign bodies from lug holes falls firmly into the realm of parental responsibility  It turned out to be the very grubby end of  half a Q-tip lodged there  since bathtime four days previously.

If you find eat ears of corn cumbersome, cut the little kernels of the cob before boiling in unsalted  boiling water for about .  Then season and slaver with butter before serving!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Zipped Up Most of The Time

This is my purse.  At least it's the same design but in a different colourway.  Mine's blue with purple writing.  Its slogan says 'I am dry'   which in French means I'm broke.  It serves as a timely reminder before I start spending.    All versions are made out of squishy material that has a lovely soft feel and yes, that fabric is waterproof as the logo might suggest.  One of the things I really like is that the base is clear base so you don't have to rummage around to see how much or little you've got.

 It was bought from the boutique of one of the Brittany Ferries ships that troll between Plymouth and Roscoff, shops that  count among   my favourite retail spaces.  Unlike many places where there is a captive audience the prices are extraordinarily reasonable and the stock is quality stuff, quite different to the usual old tat that you usually find in souvenir shops. I've bought bags, CDs of Gaelic music, Breton tops by St James and zany toys that are hard to come by in Britain, often with a fair bit shaved off their recommended retail price.  A variation of my purse  can be had on Amazon for £8 plus postage.  On the boat it was less than a fiver.

Anyway we're two paragraphs on and this was not supposed to be a sales pitch for French accessories.  Rather the opposite.  What I wanted to say was that by following my 2013 rules, where I've limited what I've bought this year, the desire to indulge in retail therapy has now diminished markedly.  Even charity shops that used to hard to resist no longer are such a draw.  Okay I've broken my self imposed legislature at times but not without thinking about it first.  Wanton  consumerism  is a thing of the past.  My experiment has shown me that spending is habitual and like other patterns of unhealthy behaviour that habit CAN be broken with a little willpower.  So, the image of the zipped up purse fits this post nicely.

PS I am typing this on a new laptop though!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Pretty Things All In A Row

For not one but two days in a row, I show you things that are extraordinarily lovely.  The current exhibition at favourite local gallery space, the Devon Guild of Craftsmen,  intoLace has been organised to challenge the pre-conceived ideas of lace. Now the frilly stuff doesn't usually do it for me, but Betty Pepper's piece 'The Secret Life of a Book' which tells the tale of her grandmother would have had me reaching for the purse strings if I were a wealthy art collector.  And that's even after Louis' summation of the piece.  'Mummy, those birdies over there look like they're made out of tights!'