Monday, 25 October 2021

Monday 25th October

I have a busy-ish week ahead of me. With everything that's on the to-do list it's not a particularly well balanced week as the social side of things is non existent, but I need to have another push at dealing with a chunk of the decluttering if I want to meet my 1st December completion date.

Today I have the style class at 10am for an hour so I'll fit in my two practice sessions, Italian and piano, before that time to leave the rest of the day free to focus on the decluttering. As I write this I'm not sure exactly what I'll focus on today but the stuff piled on the dining table seems as good a place to start as any ... I just can't remember what's in all the boxes. I'll aim to get the photos taken before lunch and then make a start on placing the adverts this afternoon. 

Either today or tomorrow I have admin tasks to catch up on. Most of it won't take too long to do so it's as well to get it done and out of the way and then I can forget about it for a while. The most time consuming thing is to finish off my meal planning. I was debating whether to leave it until the weight loss pilot scheme starts but have decided to get on with it and then tweak it, if necessary. Once that's completed I will have a shopping list of sorts, mainly fruit and veg, so will fit in a late night or early morning visit to one of the supermarkets - not to do with trying to fit too much into my days but more to do with when I think the stores will be quieter!

Best go and get started!

Sunday, 24 October 2021

Weekly Reflections

 Reasons to be cheerful ...

  • chatting with family and friends
  • being selected to take part in a 30 day healthy eating and weigh loss pilot scheme
  • continuing to enjoy my piano lessons and the daily practice
  • that there is still colour and interest in the garden
  • getting my hair cut and feeling human again!
  • deciding on my own arrangements for celebrating Christmas, and
  • choosing and ordering my Christmas gifts
  • finding some new-to-me recipes to try
  • making some more tweaks to how and what I eat with the result that I have been able to reintroduce cheddar cheese (in moderation) to my list of acceptable foods ... this is a biggie!
  • enjoying planning some new outfits and making decisions on how I want the way I dress to more accurately reflect my personal style  
  • watching and enjoying the first episode of season 6 of the Shetland TV drama

I am grateful ...
  • for central heating and a warm home!
  • for all of the help M has given and the way she has transformed my garden
  • for the many opportunities to share in people's lives, both family and friends and with my friends in the blogging community

Lifestyle changes
  • exercise: 
    • 45 minutes daily walk. Achieved 4 days out of 7
    • 20 minutes daily knee strengthening. Achieved 
  • weight: no change

Saturday, 23 October 2021

Saturday 23rd October

M planted the rest of the bulbs, cyclamen and pansies yesterday and they're all set to provide some winter and spring colour. We moved all the blue pots of bulbs nearer to the house so they are all in the one space for now and the troughs planted with the cyclamen are half way down the garden where the cosmos were. M also cut down the two established roses ready for whenever the fencing is replaced. We decided that power washing the patio and sorting out the grouting can wait until the spring - do one thing at a time and get the fencing sorted first. There really isn't much for her to do in the garden now so she'll be back one more time to cut back the perennials in the centre bed and remove the rest of the annuals. We haven't set a date but left it that I'll contact her when I want it done. She likes the cold even less than me so, now temperatures are dropping, she's ready to hibernate!

I tuned in for the start of the nutrition club while M was here, so heard the announcement that they were starting a pilot scheme for healthy eating and weight loss and would be asking for volunteers - an email would go out to all members at 1pm and the first 20 to respond would be invited to join the pilot scheme. Well, the exciting news is that I am one of the lucky 20 - I may have been huddled over the computer at 1pm waiting for the email 😂. 

Anyway I only have a vague idea of what is involved. I know that there is an introductory session next week and that it is a 30 day programme running during November. I'm assuming that in these 30 days we'll learn techniques, receive advice, and start creating the lifestyle habits needed for a successful weight loss journey. The plus points for me is that it is free (which hints that it may be chargeable in the future) and is run by three professionals. Claudia will deal with nutrition, Anna will deal with lifestyle changes and goal setting, and there will be 2 personal training classes each week though I'm not sure who will be leading those. The three professionals will provide daily support via a closed Facebook group and live online classes, and I'm hopeful that it is really going to help me kick start my weight loss. 

On to today and there is nothing in the diary but I do need to take some 'autumn' photos for my monthly photo challenge. The forecast promises an overcast day, so not the best for light but I'll see what I can do. 

Friday, 22 October 2021

Friday 22nd October

Yesterday was a pleasantly relaxed day. I hadn't slept too well so didn't have the energy to do much but I did tick off most of the tasks on my list. 

G was here to cut my hair so I'm feeling human once again! She was genuinely completely surprised by the thank you gift of wine and assured me that it will be enjoyed at the weekend!

In the Indian cookery class we were shown how to make paneer which looks very easy but, as it's made from cow's milk, it's not something I can eat. She's going to find out if it is possible to make paneer with non dairy milks and will let me know next week. The recipe she cooked to showcase the homemade paneer as the main ingredient was Paneer Bhurji (a spicy paneer mash) which looked absolutely lovely so, if it's not possible to make the paneer from non dairy milk, I will substitute the paneer with tofu and give it a go.

M will be here this morning, probably not for long as there are just the daffodils, crocus, cyclamen and pansies to plant, all destined for pots. There may be some more of the annuals to clear out but I'm not sure. At least I don't need to water anything with all the rain we are getting!

It's the nutrition focus this morning for an hour from 11am. When they changed the timetable this is the only one that, once a fortnight when M is here, isn't at the best time for me. It used to be at 1pm and M has usually left by then, so with the new time I end up missing chunks of the class. Although in saying that it won't be a problem today as the topic is healthy treats for Halloween, which I'm not really interested in.

The only other plans for today is to tackle some housework. I'll do a couple of loads of washing (because that always makes me feel productive) plus focus on cleaning and tidying the living room. There should be two more of the Christmas goodies arriving today so they will be wrapped and put away. As for the rest of the time, I think I'll be snuggling up on the sofa to lose myself in a book.

Thursday, 21 October 2021

Thursday 21st October

In the garden ...

Wednesday mornings (for the next three weeks) are busy with three back-to-back classes from 10 am to 1pm. The nutrition class was the first one and discussed emotional eating issues. This was followed by my piano lesson with C and finally the style coach online class to finish.

The piano lessons are going well and are one of high spots in my week. I've just completed the first book and will start on pieces from the second book for this week's practice, which sounds like rapid progress but isn't really as I started back at a much easier level than the music I had been playing so I could learn/improve my technique. C asked me to consider entering an adult beginners class at one of the local music festivals next year, again not to do with my ability but something she encourages all of her pupils to do. I haven't said no but I think it's unlikely that I will as performance nerves have always been a biggie for me and I don't want that additional stress. I'd like to work on a piece to performance standard anyway but part of me says to go for it and step outside of my comfort zone ... we'll see nearer the time! Anyway, Covid has to be taken into consideration and with the numbers continuing to rise in this area I think it's highly unlikely that I'd consider taking part to be a safe option.

The style class introduced the concept of a capsule wardrobe which she was quick to stress is something that means different things to different people. I'm not looking to take a hard line approach to this and I've come to realise that my own interpretation of a capsule wardrobe is actually better described as a co-ordinated wardrobe. I want the mix and match approach but have no intention of restricting myself to a limited number of items or to change to a new set of clothing for a new capsule wardrobe after a few months. My aim is to put together items of clothing that address all the activities in my lifestyle, can mix and match, are good quality and are timeless. I'm not setting a limit to how many items I can have but every item I buy will meet my choices of colours and suit my style personality and body shape - for me this means choosing items that suit an hourglass body shape, are of a classic and/or natural style and fit in with my chosen colours. With the colour aspect I know that I am a 'winter' so cool shades suit me, but within that colour group I still have to decide what my dark neutrals will be, my light neutrals, and my pops of colour, and so on. The challenge for this week is to determine what you'll have in your capsule wardrobe - how many skirts, how many pairs of trousers, how many tops, etc., and to decide on your colour scheme. Apparently Pinterest is a good source for inspiration. I'm actually changing the challenge to suit me and will decide on how many of each item I will buy for starters!

On to today and G will be here this morning to cut my hair. I have some wine for her as a thank you for finding buyers for the doll's house and the saxophone. Then it's the Indian cookery and today we're learning how to make paneer. I'm expecting some of my Christmas goodies to arrive as I've received notifications of despatch so any that turn up will be wrapped and put away in the hope that I have time to forget what's what before Christmas!

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

A Garden Update

We're over half way through October and in the garden ... 

... there's still plenty of colour to be enjoyed. The roses have pretty much finished for this year but there is still the occasional bloom to be seen. The annuals are starting to look a bit tired and M cleared out some of the cosmos last time she was here but the marguerites, nemesia and dwarf sunflowers are still putting on a show. The terracotta coloured troughs in the centre of the photo (above) are waiting to be planted up with the cyclamen (below) that I bought yesterday.  

I still have to decide where I want the spring bulb display to be - they're dotted all over the place at the moment and I am trying to decide whether to leave it like that or group them all together. The spring bulbs are all planted in blue pots, just to add a bit more colour during the winter months. M will finish planting the rest of them when she's here on Friday. I've also bought some winter pansies to add to the aluminium wall planters outside the dining room French doors.

I showed M my ideas about adding height (and hiding some of the garage) using these arches and she's on board straight away! This won't happen until next year but the next step is to see what large planters are available as whatever grows over the arches will need to be container grown. M suggested lifting some of the patio slabs and building a brick walled bed instead of using containers but I don't know that I want to do that. For one thing, it won't be that straight forward as there is a huge concrete slab in the original garden below that part of the patio but mainly that a brick walled bed as she described adds a solidity to that side of the patio which I am trying to avoid. I'll ask my nephew to help measure up so I can at least work out the width and height of each arch and determine how many arches will be best for the available space.  

I haven't made the final decision on which climbers to grow over the arches but at the moment am thinking of a Solanum laxum 'Album' (potato vine) and a New Dawn climbing rose. I used to have a potato vine growing in the front garden and I loved it, but it had to go as it kept growing over the vent for the gas boiler ... it will be lovely to have one again and it was very easy to manage which will be a plus for a tall arch (M is shorter than me!). There's plenty of time to decide on the plants as I doubt the arches will be purchased this side of Easter ... the replacement fencing takes priority. 

I have a price for the fencing but we haven't agreed dates yet. As some of the pots will need to be moved and possibly some plants lifted temporarily when they're doing the fencing, M will take the opportunity to power wash the patio to save having to move all of the pots again at a later date. Weather permitting, she'll also sort out the grouting at the same time but that may be a job for drier, warmer days. This also means that once the patio is washed it'll be a good time to move some of the heavier pots to their new positions.

The area of the patio between the living room French doors and the new arches will be used as another seating area. It's in shade for a good part of the morning so it's where I like to have breakfast on the days I choose to eat outside. The pots that'll end up in this area will be the ones with interesting foliage. M has suggested adding some bamboo and I'm interested in adding some feathery grasses but no decisions have been made yet ... I have all winter to search out all the possibilities!

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Tuesday 19th October

Apparently today, October 19th, is designated as 'National Evaluate Your Life Day'. I had no idea such a day existed but it seems I am ahead of the game because that's sort of what I did yesterday.

J had a negative test result so we did meet for coffee in the end and it was lovely to see her again. We ended up talking about whether we felt ready to start expanding our lives by socialising more and the conclusion we reached is that, yes we both do once we've had our Covid booster jabs in December. For me, it feels like the right time to do more things out of the house and to start mixing with a wider group of friends/family in as safe a way a possible, including having visitors in my own home. For now, this doesn't include choir or joining an amateur orchestra but does include meeting with C, the piano teacher, to learn and play duets although that's obviously dependent on her feeling ready to meet in person as well. 

I also had a rethink about my Christmas plans. I usually do an Advent calendar, often homemade, but have decided against that this year although it may be back in favour in future years. Instead I will concentrate my celebrations on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and then the Twelve days from Boxing Day until Twelfth Night. This reflects how we celebrated the season during our childhood - Dad brought the tree home on Christmas Eve and that's when all the decorations were put out and we enjoyed all the sparkle until Twelfth Night, when it was all taken down again. I don't know how family and friends are planning to celebrate this year but I will catch up with everyone even if it's not on the big day. I find Christmas Day one of the hardest days since I lost Ced, so I'm making plans to do something special that can be reasonably flexible to accommodate any invites that head my way. 

Christmas Eve will be spent at home and, as in previous years, I will cook my turkey dinner before settling down for Carols at Kings followed by my own version of Jolabokaflod. This year's book is Richard Osman's 'The Man Who Died Twice'. Christmas Day depends on the weather but if it's dry I will be off to the beach after I've opened my pressies ... I'll just be walking, not swimming!

I had a rethink about my Twelve Days of Christmas gifts after I wrote about it yesterday. I'm still doing it but am adopting Lovely Grey's idea of gift giving using the principle of want, need, wear, read. The Twelve Days are something I did for years with Ced and it 'says' Christmas to me so I sorted out a much better gift list and have now ordered most of them. I didn't have much luck finding anything in town but the internet has proved its worth again and I only have four things to find. Strangely, these are 'wants' and 'needs' which are proving to be the hardest categories to decide on - I suppose it's a reflection of how fortunate I am in having everything I need and want. I've splashed out a bit more than usual this year but I've decided that I'm worth it! 

Apologies for rattling on about Christmas but it has helped me to get my mind around what I want to do. Today there is nothing in the diary. I was hoping to meet with Joy but that's had to be postponed so I'll have a quiet day at home and try to decide on the rest of my 'wants' and 'needs' gifts and get them ordered. 

Monday, 18 October 2021

Monday 18th October 2021

After a quiet weekend I fancy being out of the house today. It's supposed to rain later this morning so I'll drive into town after lunch and pick up some goodies to keep me amused during the colder months. 

I have plenty of books, too many really, so the only one I'll buy is Richard Osman's second book - The Man Who Died Twice - but only if it's on special offer somewhere. I don't think the paperback version has been released yet and I don't want to buy an expensive hardback version of a book I'll only read once. If I do get it, it'll be put away for one of my Twelve Days of Christmas gifts to myself. I'd also like to get a couple of jigsaw puzzles, one or two crafty things but no idea what, and a sketch book and set of decent drawing pencils/pens but I may need to go to my favourite shop in Frome for those. Some of these will join the new book to be opened as a Twelve Days gift but the rest will be used as and when I feel like it.

I was supposed to be meeting J for lunch but she is still isolating so we'll chat on the phone instead and hopefully meet up later in the week. I can't remember which day she'll be back in circulation!

It's the style class this morning. The last four sessions have been about colour analysis, understanding how to use the colour wheel and use colour combinations to enhance or disguise areas of your body, mixing patterns, and the pros and cons of wearing black. The challenge set from these sessions is to try to create a new outfit from your existing wardrobe using only three colours, and to try to create a second outfit mixing different patterns together. I'll try the first of these but doubt that I'll attempt the pattern mixing as I simply don't like to see different patterns worn together! Today is focused on accessories and then I think we move on to discussing how to create a capsule wardrobe, which is the topic I'm most interested in and the reason I started this class.

I'll probably watch Only Connect tonight but there's nothing else on that I fancy so I'll be settling down for an evening of family tree research once that's finished.

Sunday, 17 October 2021

Weekly Reflections

 Reasons to be cheerful ...

  • chatting with family and friends
  • continuing to enjoy the garden (although it's now too chilly to sit outside for long)
  • discussing my ideas for the new part of the garden makeover with M, who was on board with my ideas straight away
  • enjoying some TV programmes - 'Who Do You think You Are', 'Would I Lie To You', 'Heir Hunters', and 'Richard Osman's House of Games'
  • finding a new recipe for aubergine - not my favourite vegetable, but the recipe shown in the Indian cooking class looks very tasty and I will give it a try
  • continuing to enjoy the piano lessons and the daily practice
  • feeling brighter after getting out of the house yesterday for a drive round and a change of scene

I am grateful ...
  • for a reasonably swift recovery from the viral infection, and
  • food parcels from family and friends ... living alone when you are feeling poorly makes everything seem that much worse, but the foodie deliveries really helped
  • for all of your kind comments on my last two post. I do appreciate them even if I didn't get around to responding to them.

Lifestyle changes
  • exercise: 
    • 45 minutes daily walk. I haven't been doing any walking but will ease back into the routine next week
    • 20 minutes daily knee strengthening. Achieved 3 days out of 7
  • weight: no change

Saturday, 16 October 2021

The Simple Woman's Daybook - Saturday 16th October 2021


Outside my window ... I have no idea! I'm still in bed and haven't looked outside yet but the forecast is for a cool but sunny day.

I am thinking ... about clothes and making changes to my wardrobe, although I don't plan to make any changes until I have completed the style class (about four more weeks to go). I knew before I started the class that I desperately needed to update my wardrobe but the class has make me consider the changes I want to make rather than just rushing at it! I've been looking online and am creating a virtual shopping list of clothes that I not only like but which will suit me and be practical for my lifestyle. 

I am thankful ... that family and friends who had Covid have all recovered well and that the others remain safe and well during these strange times. Also, that I have now recovered from a virus and thankfully tested negative for Covid.

In the kitchen ... I'm making soups to portion up for the freezer. It's definitely soup weather and I noticed that my meal planning for Oct/Nov includes quite a few comfort foods. 

I am wearing ... or will be once I get out of bed ... leggings, long t-shirt, and a warm cardigan.

I am creating ... a list of ideas for the next stage of the garden makeover, which will hopefully be implemented next year. I won't go into details here as I plan to write a garden update some time next week. I'm also thinking about the list for the Winter Photo Scavenger Hunt.

I am going ... shopping to treat myself to some new puzzles, books and crafty things to keep me occupied during the long winter months. The library is selling off all their DVDs, boxed sets, and CDs so I may look in to see if there is anything I fancy.

I am wondering ... whether to continue with my plan to employ a cleaner once my state pension starts at the end of November. It was always my intention to do this and I'd love to have a cleaner again but can't make up my mind whether it's still too much of a risk - I know many people have continued using cleaning services throughout the lockdowns but inviting someone into my home, albeit only once a fortnight, is a new thing for me in the current situation and I'm dithering in making a decision.

I am reading ... music theory books to refresh my understanding of chords, inversions and progressions.

I am watching ... the new series of 'Who Do You Think You Are'. The Josh Widdicombe episode was fascinating and it sounds like the Judi Dench one will be just as good. 

I am hoping ... to book an appointment at the local history centre in Chippenham. I had to cancel the last one as I wasn't well enough to go. I have a short list of records I'd like to examine and, fingers crossed, this will help me break through another gap in the family tree. 

I am looking forward to ... life expanding over the next few months, just a little, but in a way that will bring cheer to my days. More about that as it happens but it's all about adding some balance to my days - at the moment most of my interests are online and I am looking at ways to add activities that take me out of the house.

I am learning ... piano technique and revisiting music theory and am loving every minute of it. The lessons are everything I'd hoped and I can see that I have made progress since I started learning with C. Practicing properly every day hasn't proved to be the chore I thought it might be - I know have a tendency to stick my heels in when I 'have' to do things, even when it's my choice to do them and even when it's something I like - so it's a relief to find I'm actually enjoying the discipline. I think it may be because the improvement is so obvious and it's easy to see the connection, i.e. as a direct result of practicing with purpose. 

Around the house ...  I'm creating space as, bit by bit, the decluttered items leave the house. It's freeing both physically and emotionally as I near the end of the task. I haven't done much this month as I haven't felt well enough but hope to get back to it soon as I'd still like to meet my target of completing everything by December 1st. 

I am pondering ... what to do about the choir. I love singing in a group but am definitely not ready to re-join the local choir for in-person rehearsals and can't see that happening any time soon. We've been notified of other commitments for the choir so in addition to the weekly sessions there is also carol singing in Bath (which will be crowded at that time of year), a Christmas concert, and a social event. It all feels too much for me even without the added worry of non-existent social distancing and lack of mask wearing. The online choir is okay as far as it goes but in an hour long session, half of the time is taken up with the warm up and music theory and only the second half is devoted to learning the current song. However he has now said that part of the second half will be for individuals to unmute and sing for others to hear how they are doing. It's voluntary but some are keen so it's evolving into a bit of a karaoke session which is frustrating. I think I need to find another option! 

One of my favourite things ... hearing a baby laugh

A few plans for the rest of the week ... 
  • Sunday is a Zoom lunch with friends
  • Monday is the style coach class followed by lunch with J and possibly some shopping in town
  • Tuesday is a 'do as I please' day. There's nothing in the diary at all.
  • Wednesday is nutrition club, piano lesson and the style class
  • Thursday is a visit from G to cut my hair followed by the Indian cooking class
  • Friday is the nutrition focus, plus M will be here to tend the garden

A peek into my day ... today I'm hoping to get out of the house, probably for a drive round rather than a walk. I need a change of scene and some fresh air after being cooped up in the house.

A quote for today ... "Every moment is a fresh beginning.", T.S. Elliot