Saturday, 30 November 2013

Friday, 29 November 2013

FMS Photo a Day 29: Black

... a quick snap of my friend's dog

Thursday, 28 November 2013

FMS Photo a Day 28: I am grateful for ...

... being fortunate enough to have loved, and to have been loved, every day of my life so far.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

FMS Photo a Day 27: No!

I've told you enough times .... NO!  Have found myself saying this repeatedly to various children today who just don't understand the meaning of the word.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

FMS Photo a Day 26: Message

A message to all parents! Seen in the cafĂ© at the garden centre and taken using a camera phone.

Monday, 25 November 2013

FMS Photo a Day 25: Quirky

Detail showing the bottom of a gate made entirely of old horseshoes.  I did take a shot of the whole thing but didn't realise it wasn't in focus until I got home!!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

FMS Photo a Day 24: A Word

The word is 'change'.  Not chosen by me, change has been the driving force in my life for the past five years as I cared for Ced in the final years of his life.  He had motor neurone disease and as the illness progressed, changes to every aspect of our lives were forced on both of us.  He passed away in March of this year and since then there have continued to be changes in my life only now I am consciously making positive changes as I try to rebuild my life.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

FMS Photo a Day 23: Simplicity

I struggled with getting the shot I wanted, so this is the best of the 'not too pleased with' attempts!  In my defence, the heating wasn't on at band this morning and it also ran on for ages today so I was cold, fed up and late getting home!!

Friday, 22 November 2013

Skywatch Friday

Taken earlier this morning - the weather has changed completely in the last hour and there are no clouds at all.

Linking with Skywatch Friday

FMS Photo a Day 22: Behind

... I wonder what's hidden behind the door?

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

FMS Photo a Day 20: Communication

... written communication - today's post waiting to be sorted.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Gardening Update

Today I had lunch with my friend, Lyn, at the Lowden Garden Centre. Of course, that meant some more shopping for the garden as well as a yummy lunch - I had Thai chicken curry, a piece of rocky road (which was so big I couldn't finish it) and a hot chocolate.  Lyn had a jacket potato with tuna, a piece of rocky road (she ate all of hers ... just saying, Lyn!!!) and a glass of wine. 
Here's my new goodies:
  • Two large frost resistant terracotta pots.  The one on the left was £14.99 and the one on the right was £16.99
  • Five sets of ceramic feet to raise the pots - £1.99 per set.
  • Can't remember what the one on the left is called but Lyn said it will give structure to the garden!  That one was £9.99 - if anyone knows what it is I'd appreciate it.
  • A fern, 'Dryopteris Affinis Crispa'. Currently looking a bit sorry for itself but they are quite hardy and I'm sure it'll sort itself out.  That was £9.99 as well.
  • In front of the fern is a 'Leucothoe Zeblid', also £9.99.
  • On the right is a 'Jasminum Parkeri', which was reduced to £7.99.
That'll be it for buying plants this side of the winter.  I'm saving up now for the spring planting but am hoping to get some more pots for my birthday and Christmas presents.

Frugal Living

During the last couple of years I've been reading a lot of blogs written by people who already have, or are trying to achieve, a frugal lifestyle.  There are the people who have adopted it wholeheartedly with near self sufficiency, recycling and upcycling and full scale economies in those areas of life where they can't be self sufficient.  Then the ones who have implement a frugal approach in limited areas of their lives, maybe growing a few vegetables or learning to cook to improve their food bills.  And finally the ones who have the best intentions but not the willpower to make the changes.

Initially this interest was simply that ... an interest in how other people live. However, lately I've realised that I've taken on board a lot of the advice and it has become part of my new way of life without realising I've been doing it.  It was only a discussion with friends yesterday which made me realise this. 

There have been lots of small changes in the way I now live but these little changes add up.  Things like turning off the light when I leave a room, something I never considered before (although I can remember my mum complaining to all us kids about every light being on in the house even if there was nobody in the rooms).  I've been bulk cooking for the freezer to reduce the food bills, filling the oven when I use it to reduce the cooking costs and making more use of the slow cooker. Cooking for one is definitely more expensive but I've managed to bring my food bill right down and still eat well.  I decided this week to only have the heating on via the timer for an hour or so in the mornings, when I keep to a fairly regular timetable.  The rest of the time I'm going to put the heating on manually as required as there have been too many occasions where the heating has come on via the timer to warm the house but I have been out.  It does mean coming back into a cold house but it doesn't take too long to heat up and hopefully this approach will save me a lot of money!

I can't see that I'll ever implement some of the more radical frugal economies.    For example, I plan to keep flushing the loo every time I use it and won't be saving my washing water to flush through the system!  I definitely have no intention of sitting in a cold house rather than put the heating on and also won't be sitting in a dark room rather than have the light on, which is what some people advocate. Some approaches are just too extreme for me!

I suppose in a way I am returning to the way we used to live as children and am finally implementing the economies that my mum used to manage the family budget.  It's not really a financial need that is forcing me to do this but the realisation (call me thick if you want!!) that these simple economies not only provide a healthier way of eating but that the savings all add up and will allow me more of life's luxuries that my budget doesn't currently run to - extra weekends away and trips to London, new camera equipment and photography courses. The sort of things that are , non-essential' but are the 'icing on the cake'! 

I'll let you know how I get on.  Any suggestions for economies will be very much appreciated.

FMS Photo a Day 19: Where You Ate Breakfast

I ate breakfast standing in the corner of the kitchen.  I overslept this morning and a lack of time meant that I needed to make my sandwiches and start the preparation for tonight's meal in between bites of toast and slurps of coffee. After finishing the sandwiches and tidying away the phone rang ... you've guessed it, this morning's appointment was cancelled so all that rushing was in vain.  I think it's going to be one of those days!

Monday, 18 November 2013

FMS Photo a Day 18: Mirror

... a small mirror placed on the table to reflect the view through the French doors in the dining room, looking out on to the garden.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

FMS Photo a Day 17: 5 o'clock

5 o'clock ... well 2 minutes late!  This is the time projected onto the ceiling by my alarm clock.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

FMS Photo a Day 16: Play

... a game of Monopoly.  I loved playing this when I was young but none of my friends enjoy board games.  Luckily Tinks and Tweenie have learned to play so a game or two is on the agenda now that the dark nights are with us.

Friday, 15 November 2013

FMS Photo a Day 15: In my purse

...  some bank cards, a few coins, a bit of blue fluff and lots of dirty smudges!  Time for a new purse, I think!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

FMS Photo a Day 14: Eating

... cornflakes for breakfast!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

FMS Photo a Day 13: Part of me

Part of me ... the people in these photos are part of me and have formed the person I am today.  My mum, holding the 3 year old me in her arms, and my two older brothers in the coloured photo. I couldn't find a photo of my dad, but I include him in this as well.  Always there beside me is my twin sister, it goes without question that she is part of me. And of course my younger self, I'm still in touch with my inner child to this day.
For those of you who are interested I am the one on the right of the coloured photo, sitting with the younger of my brothers. In the large B/W photo I am sitting to the right of my sister (so am on the left of the photo) and am the one in my mum's arms in the smaller B/W photo.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

FMS Photo a Day 12: Clouds

... taken from the back garden earlier this morning.

Monday, 11 November 2013

FMS Photo a Day 11: A Memory

A memory ... from my childhood. These are the serving platters, all that remain of the dinner service my parents bought when they first got married.  At Christmas the turkey was served up on the larger of the two ...  we always referred to them as the 'Christmas Day plates'!  They're mine now and I still use them for family celebrations.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

FMS Photo a Day 10: Book

... using Odeon Online to 'book' my cinema ticket.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

FMS Photo a Day 9: Mine

Mine, all mine ... no need to share!!

Friday, 8 November 2013

Thursday, 7 November 2013

FMS Photo a Day 7: Yes!

I struggled with this prompt - didn't really have any idea what to do so in the end went for a fairly literal interpretation of 'thumbs up!'.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

FMS Photo a Day 6: Music

As well as playing the piano, I've decided to focus on the clarinet to try to improve my current standard.  I haven't set a timescale yet as I need to assess how much my standard of playing has dropped and what I need to do to get it back up to scratch. 

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

FMS Photo a Day 5: I collect ...

... glass paperweights.

These are just four of a large collection which is still packed away.  I managed to find these to photograph for today's prompt.

As part of simplifying my life I only plan to keep about five of them.  There are so many that I can't remember where or when I got most of them and I don't really have the room to display them now.  The ones I'm keeping are the ones that hold the special memories for me, like the one that started the collection, a special gift from my mum. Then the smallest one which is actually a cheap Chinese import and not all that well made - when my sister's three eldest children were small they spent their pocket money to buy this one for me to add to my collection.  It wasn't for a special occasion, just something they chose to do for me.  It cost 50p (!), no great monetary value but at the time they only received 10p pocket money each a week so it is priceless to me.  I'll keep the beautiful one I received from my sister and BIL as a thank you for driving my sister to hospital every day for her radiation treatment and obviously a couple chosen for me by Ced.

I may however, have to play around with photographing them before I dispose of the rest of the collection. 

Monday, 4 November 2013

FMS Photo a Day 4: Table

Today has been spent at the dining room table.  It's been a busy, creative day with the children making 10 cards each to give to their friends at Christmas.  Their mum is a brilliant artist and both children seem to take after her, producing some imaginative work having had a go at stamping, origami, 3D layering and colouring.   They both, not too subtly, asked which was my favourite so I think I know which card I will be getting from each child next month!

Tomorrow is my last day off for half term and then back to work on Wednesday so I'll be going in to town tomorrow to pick up a few bits and bobs.  I can't believe this holiday has gone so quickly.  

Sunday, 3 November 2013

I Deserve a Treat

It has been a complete wash out today, quite literally ... it has been pouring with rain from the minute I got up this morning and it hasn't stopped since.  I've been stuck in home, which on a day where my 'get up and go' seemed to have 'got up on gone', has been pretty miserable. 

I cheered up a bit after a yummy breakfast of bacon sandwiches and a mug or two of hot coffee. I read a couple of chapters of a new book (Jeffrey Deaver's 'XO' - too soon to say if it is any good), thought about watching the TV but there was nothing on that I fancied watching, checked Facebook and checked the clock - still only 9 o'clock.  Decided that today was really going to drag if I didn't face up to the thing I was trying to avoid ... time to sort out my budget.

I used the budget planner on Money Saving Expert and I have to say I was pretty impressed by the time I'd finished.  It makes you consider all those other expenses that I'd probably group together as 'miscellaneous' and assess them properly.  Left to my own devices, this is where I'd hopelessly underestimate.  It took me about 2 hours to do it all, checking bank statements etc. and reassessing the utility payments but in the end I've worked out that I'll be approx. £70 a month better off than I thought I would.  Mainly because the utility companies had grossly ever estimated my monthly usage and therefore my payments.  At this stage I was feeling much happier and more motivated so I also signed up for the free 'money manager' service that my bank offers, where you can categorise your spending - the idea being that you can see what you are actually spending your money on. In an ideal world the budget and the actual spending should match up so it will be interesting to see if that is the case.

One mug of coffee and a few biscuits later I was on a roll.  I set up the energy monitor that I got from British Gas so I can see exactly where my electricity usage is.  Don't know if it will help or not so we'll see, but it is done now and I just have to remember to check it.

Feeling rather righteous I then decided to sort out my system for storing photos. I was going to start scanning the old prints today but decided I'd be saving time and energy in the long term if I set up a workable filing system.  After a few false starts and tantrums (!) I've sorted out my new filing system, which is much the same as Joy's and Karen's (thank you ladies) and very similar to the system I used when I worked in the MoD.  I have 12 subject folders which are subdivided as appropriate and within the subfolders the images are filed in date order.  Everything in these folder has already been backed up.  New images will be saved to a single folder and be backed up every week, then moved to be filed in the various subject folders.  I'll report back on how it works!!

So that's been my day so far.  Two things I was dreading have been sorted so I decided I deserved a treat ...  time for waffles with maple syrup.

I tried a new recipe this time which was much, much nicer - really fluffy waffles.  It looks a bit undercooked in this photo but I can assure you that it wasn't.  Very yummy!!

Hope you've all had a good day and that the weather hasn't been too bad.

FMS Photo a Day 3: P is for ....

Saturday, 2 November 2013

FMS Photo a Day 2: I did this today

I updated my blog!

The Simple Woman's Daybook - Saturday 2nd November 2013

Outside my window ... it is a cold, windy day.

I am thinking ... about my long term plans, mainly to do with the social side of things and how to motivate myself to get out of the house and get involved in things.

I am thankful ... for computers and the internet.  They keep me connected.

In the kitchen ... there is freezer full of meals - I've had a busy few days cooking and stocking the freezer.  Later today I will be cooking a roast dinner for friends.

I am wearing ... blue skirt, white blouse and blue cardigan.

I am creating ... patchwork hexagons.  I don't know what the finished project will be but I needed something to do at the local sewing bee.

I am going ... to sort out my budget properly.  I've had the first lot of utility invoices now so have a more realistic idea of my actual usage and as to be expected, the estimated monthly payments are way too high even taking into account the extra costs of the heating during the colder months.  I'll be using the budget planner on Money Saving Expert and am fairly sure that I'll have more free cash to play around with. 

I am wondering ... whether to take on some extra work.  I've had a couple of enquiries from people wanting private lessons for their children.  I'm hesitating because I'm not ready to teach from home yet and I don't want to set the precedence of teaching in their own homes.  I know it will be difficult to change the arrangements at a later date even if I take on the work with the understanding that I'll eventually be moving the lessons to my home.

I am reading ... nothing, which is unusual for me.  I've just finished reading 'At Sea' by Laurie Graham.  I plan to reread all the Harry Potter books this month, but need to go and borrow them from Julie first!

I am hoping ... to complete the November Photo a Day organised by Fat Mum Slim.

I am looking forward to ... seeing the comedian, Ed Byrne next week. 

I am learning ... to play the piano again.  This took a back burner when I was caring for Ced but now I've started again.  I'm not really in a routine of practicing yet, I'm still trying to find the correct level of music to ensure a successful restart.  I'll get there though, as I've quickly realised how much, out of all the instruments I play, I have missed the piano. 

Around the house ... I can hear the radio - I'm listening to Classic FM with Alan Titchmarsh.  The clutter is gradually getting organised and I'm managing to keep the rooms I've already sorted in a clean and tidy state.  That's a first for me!

I am pondering ... the meaning of life and what happens afterwards.  Quite deep, but understandable considering my circumstances.

One of my favourite things ... lighting the candles and enjoying the peacefulness of 'just being'. 

A few plans for the rest of the week:
  • Sunday: Scanning photos
  • Monday: Laura and the kids are coming round to make some Christmas cards
  • Tuesday: relaxing at home
  • Wednesday: teaching in the morning, then some photography if weather permits
  • Thursday: teaching in the afternoon
  • Friday: working in the afternoon, then off to see Ed Byrne with Laura in the evening
  • Saturday: band practice
A peek into my day ... I went shopping this morning to buy some meat for the freezer.  I hope to visit my sister later today and then, providing it doesn't rain, I plan to take some photos in the garden.  I've invited friends round for a meal tonight.

A favourite quote for today ...

image from Google

Friday, 1 November 2013

FMS Photo a Day 1: Fruit

In an effort to get me using the camera regularly I am joining in with Fat Mum Slim's Photo a Day.

Here's the list for this month:

and here's my image for day 1:

November's Simple Things

My list for October is shown below and as you can see, I had a successful month. 
  • bake some waffles - I've bought a waffle maker so this is bound to get done!! done
  • join in with Greenthumb's October scavenger hunt done
  • photograph the autumn colours done
  • invite family and friends for evening meals done
  • carry on the researching the Meaden line of my family tree done
My list for November is
  • Go to see a film in the new cinema in Trowbridge
  • Get back to playing the piano regularly - I haven't played it in over a year 
  • Make some Christmas cards with Tinks and Tweenie
  • Try out a new recipe or two
  • Reread the Harry Potter books