A Nice November.

December is officially upon us, for better or for worse – so how was November?

Nearly-There November was nice for a variety of reasons:

  • We were under budget for the food shop this month. Largely thanks to reduced bargains and Foodprint. And Olio.
  • Despite it being officially winter, I was still able to peg the washing out several days this month, and for it to be nearly dry on my return from work. This is such a help for me, as it means I don’t have to have lots of damp washing hanging around (only slightly damp washing that smells wonderfully of having hung outside).
  • Husband was awarded his Mobility Travel Card. This means he can travel in the community on buses and the tram without having to worry about the cost, I am hoping he will use it to see his family more, to make him feel less lonely.
  • Had a friend visit; we hit the charity shops and ate a lovely lunch at home. Also enjoyed seeing my former manager and having a good chat.
  • I got a £30 giftcard from one of the panels I contribute to. And £15 in vouchers for doing a product test.
  • Managed to get some lovely new towels for very little money, and got £35 cashback on our contents insurance.

Things that could have been improved about November were:

  • Based on Husband’s mood and what he was like last year, I am quite confident Husband has SAD. His mood has become more subdued the darker it has become. Will investigate light therapy and buy him a light therapy lamp. Thank goodness for his PIP as those lamps are not cheap!
  • Had two days off work as feeling blergh.

 

Advertisements

The end of Nearly-There November.

(You can read about last week here, if you feel so inclined.)

Monday, 26th of November.
Walked to and from work today, despite the cold.
Spent some of my time at home this evening making a second Shepherd’s pie for next week to go in the freezer.

img_20181126_193908
My lovely ‘pie’ filling, before the ‘crust’ of mashed potato went on.

Tuesday, 27th of November.
I decided to take the bus to work today as the forecast said heavy rain.
After work I went and got some free food listed on Olio, and I also went by the convenience store down the street, where they had some reduced bargains.

img_20181127_182133
How lovely are these! We had these this week while watching TV.
img_20181127_182215
Husband was so pleased with the black puddings ^_^

Husband was feeling quite deflated today. Believe quite strongly he is experiencing SAD, based on pas experience as he started feeling the same way around this time last year. It did improve as spring came.
Have asked him to discuss this and maybe some options at therapy.

Wednesday, 28th of November.
Day off today, or something.

After Husband had his therapy session, I accompanied Husband to his medical assessment, to check his eligibility for a mobility travel card (awarded to people who have a disability and who are eligible). The doctor assessing him was surprised he was asked to attend, given his epilepsy, but filled the form in and sent it off. We should hear within 2 week if he has been accepted or not.
Then went with him to his appointment with the epilepsy consultant, who commented on how subdued he seemed. She queried if the change in his medicines is having a depressive effect, but Husband seemed confident that he was feeling the way he was due to SAD.
I then went along to a product development session at one of the local consumer groups I am part of, and earnt £15 in Love2Shop vouchers for my time. They are now safely stashed away in the Christmas/Present Fund.

Husband’s therapist seemed to concur with my suspicions and have recommended different strategies to deal with SAD. One of these is to use light therapy, but a cursory search brought up that one of these lamps can cost from £75(!). Contemplating sending out a Facebook message asking if anyone has one spare we can borrow….

Thursday, 29th of November.
In a bid to use up what we have in our cupboards, I got up extra early to make up a packet soup and take it to work. It was nice enough with some bread, but incredibly salty! So will either add some milk or cream to the next batch before I take it in.
Did some life admin at home this evening, just paying two bills and researching some Christmas presents.

Friday, 30th of November.
Had a lovely surprise in the mail when I got in from work, as Husband has been approved for a mobility travel card. Using this card he can travel on local public transport for free off-peak, Monday to Friday, and all day Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays. It is valid until 2023.

This is such a boon to us, as it means Husband can access places in the community and not worry about the cost. It is also valid beyond the city boundary so I am secretly hoping he will use it to see his parents more and his sister more.
It might make him feel less lonely and isolated.

I explained to Husband that he could use it both for the bus and the tram, to which Husband said he preferred the bus. When I asked why, he explained that on the tram, there isn’t anyone you can ask for help – you have to get off and press the assistance button to speak to someone. On the bus you can always go and ask the driver if you are unsure of where you need to get off, or if you’re going the right way.
Even though Husband and I have been together for 12 years and married for 8, I still learn new things about him and how he navigates the world, even now.

Saturday, 1st of December.
First day of December!
Blergh. Did not feel unwell as such this morning, but very flat and tired. Had to fight with myself to even get out of bed. Don’t think that it helped that today was a very gray and drizzly day. It got better once I got to work and could have something hot to drink.
Today we had an open day, meaning there were lots of leftovers for the staff to take home at the end of the day. They even had a large cauldron of vegetable soup, and we were encouraged to take seconds.
Taking these sandwiches home brought me back to my first week of my Living Below The Line challenge last year. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I did those two weeks for charity.

img_20181201_180704
Lovely sandwiches. This will keep me going at work next week. Hard to imagine that if we had not collected them, Catering would have thrown them away:(

My nice colleague was once again taking a taxi back after work and invited me to join, which saved me lots of time in getting home.

As I don’t want to have to go to the shops next week if it can be helped to be able to stay at home with Husband as much as possible, I had an online shop delivered in the evening.
Now, I get that they don’t always have the things I have ordered in, and so have to substitute them. But some of the substitutes I have had through the years have just baffled me.
This time for instance, I bought two 2.5kg bags of frozen chicken portions (legs, wings, thighs). Which they could not supply, and they had substituted 5 kilos of chicken with a single 750g bag of frozen chicken breast (???). I said politely no thank you, and sent it back once it arrived.
One of the bags of cat litter I ordered had burst at the bottom, and so I said I wanted to send it back. The driver then said he would get me the money refunded, but he would have to damage it anyway, so did I want to keep the bag? ^_^
Naturally, as we discovered while putting the food away, I’d only gone and forgotten to buy teabags…

Sunday, 2nd of December.
Feeling more human today. Had a relaxing morning at home before going to the shops before work.
We drew our Secret Santa at work today, Keeping up Appearances meant that I took part. Have £5 budget to spend which is not too excessive. Just need to work out what to buy now…
Found some lovely food at Foodprint – they were busy setting up their decorations, ad they were celebrating the first year of the store. What an achievement, and long may it continue.

img_20181202_200326
This food cost us £3.65. Husband was very pleased I managed to get mushrooms.

My lovely colleague once again offered me a ride in the taxi he was taking after work, meaning I could swing by the Co-Op on my way down the street to get these:

img_20181202_195130
Got a whole fresh chicken for £1.13 from the Co-Op. Went right into the freezer for another day. Take that, nonsensical chicken substitutes! (and also got a bag of sausage rolls and cheese and onion rolls, 34p each.)

My evening was spent preparing for tomorrow, including tidying and cleaning the house. Husband’s parents will be staying with him while he is recovering from the general anesthetic he will be receiving.

Keeping track of the grocery spend: The Preamble.

I decided in April this year to start keeping an eye on how much we were spending on groceries – more specifically, what we were buying, and how much it was costing us a month.
Mainly out of interest, but also to see what we were spending on which foods and products, and where we could cut back. If having a bad month emotionally affected what we bought to eat.
With bills being like they are, as in, you can change provider, sure, but you can’t not pay for stuff you use. Gas and electric, mortgage, water bills, council tax, internet…the list goes on. I have often found that it’s the food budget that you can slash the most, or make the most of. Or change to adapt to your circumstances, if need be.

To do this, I created a spreadsheet, giving each month a tab in the spreadsheet, and added in anything we spent for groceries for myself, Husband and the Cat.

After a bit of experimenting, I have come to that our budget for the month ought to be £130, so £32.50 per week for us. This covers food, household stuff, toiletries and anything the Cat needs. Naturally being below budget at the end of the month is always good!

I don’t have a set budget for each category as such, but if some categories are a bit excessive, then I will try and rein it in for the following month.

I have separated our grocery spending into the following categories:

  • Fruit and Vegetables: Fresh fruit and vegetables, includes potatoes.
  • Snacks: Biscuits, donuts, crisps, nuts, anything that’s a treat goes in here.
  • Bakery: Bread, rolls, bagels, buns, thins, naan bread, pitta bread, wraps, baguettes.
  • Dairy: Milk, cheeses, butter, spreads.
  • Household: Toilet and kitchen roll, cleaning fluids and cloths, washing up liquid, scourers, matches, aluminium foil, bin liners – things for the house.
  • Drinks: Tea and coffee, squash, juices, fizzy drinks.
  • Pet Care: Food for the Cat, her cat litter, treats.
  • Eggs: Just eggs.
  • Cupboard Staples: Dried and tinned goods, such as pasta, rice, ready sauces, tinned tomatoes, spices, tinned pies and tinned fruit and veg.
  • Meat: Fresh and frozen meat of any variety, including sausages, bacon and minced meat. Includes cooked meats such as corned beef and ham.
  • Personal Care: Our toiletries, so shower gels, toothpaste, lotions, shampoo, etc. 
  • Frozen Food: Frozen veg, potatoes, pizzas and pies, and so forth.
  • Chilled Food: Food that could be described as deli style, so for instance pork pies, olives, coleslaw, potato salad.

I’ve made the decision not to include the following in our grocery budget.

  • Medicines and health care products: This includes both over the counter stuff and prescriptions. Health and looking after it is important and I feel it’s something we need to spend what is necessary on, without skimping. You can still be thrifty and buy own-brand products though!
    I am grateful that Husband has a medical exemption card provided by the state, which means he does not pay a prescription fee for his medicines. Thank goodness.
  • Makeup and beauty products: I buy these with my gift cards or get them as presents, so do not come out of the grocery budget as such.
  • Delivery charges for online shopping. I shop online very rarely, preferring to shop for groceries in-store as it often has a reduced section I check out. So on the rare occasions I get a shop delivered, I try to have it done at a cheap time/day anyway. In our experience, very late slots or the latest slots in the day are the cheapest. I have had our shop delivered for £1/£2 that way – it would have cost me more to go to the shop in bus fare, so it’s a saving, I guess?

My post about May, June and July are in progress, so we will see soon how we did for those three months.

 

Nearly-There November, week 3.

If you want to, you can read about the previous week of Nearly-There November here.

Monday, 19th of November.
Blergh. One of the people I work with must have passed something to me, as I woke up feeling really hot and feverish. My voice was reduced to a croak, so I spent most of today sitting very still or doing stuff in short bursts before having to rest. I made the decision not to go to work, as I a. felt rubbish and b. did not inadvertently want to pass my bug to any patient-facing staff.
I decided to roast the pumpkins I got for free from Olio – it seemed to be the easiest way to prepare them, with a minimum of effort involved.

 

This will make a lovely and colourful part of our dinners for the next week or so. So pleased I managed to help save them from going in the bin. I cut them into wedges, drizzled them with oil and salted and peppered them, and just cooked them in the oven on 180 degrees until soft.

Last weekend I got an email from eBay with a £10 off any spend in their homewares section. My mother has gifted us some money for new towels for the new bathroom (some of our cloths and towels are now so worn, you can see through them). I got a bundle of cloths, hand towels and bath towels for £.98, as shipping was free.

img_20181119_1056081
My lovely new towels. Glad I washed them separately though, as I could see the water in the drum changing colour to turquoise during the wash…

Tuesday, 20th of November.
Still feeling very blergh. Spent the day indoors, resting and staying warm.
Tried to still be productive and do things. Ordered a big shop from Sainsbury’s so that I won’t have to go shopping for some time after Husband’s had his operation. It also means I can order a lot of big and bulky stuff I would normally struggle to carry with me. Five bags of cat litter? Certainly. Six tins of baked beans? Why not. It should keep us going for some time through December.
Paid some bills off, and also had an email through to say I have received my Amazon voucher for the payment study I did. That will go in the Christmas stash when it arrives, alongside the Inboxpounds voucher I requested.

Wednesday, 21st of November.
Had a friend visit for the day. Felt more human, so we bought cheeses and treats to have for lunch – we can choose what we want to have, it’s cheaper then the three of us going out to eat, plus it meant we could use stuff we already had at home.
Exchanged Christmas presents and then spent some time perusing the charity shops by our house. I found two smart cardigans and a pretty dress for work. We also had time for a card game which is always fun.

Thursday, 22nd of November.
Back to work today. Made the decision to take the bus there and back again to not strain myself too hard, so could leave the house a bit later than normal. Neighbour’s birthday today, so we decided to treat her to a meal out at a restaurant up the road. Keeping Up Appearances meant we paid, but we managed to get in on an earlybird deal which meant it was not unreasonable in price.
Before going out, I sat and bought our contents insurance as ours lapsed yesterday and I did not want to auto renew. Got us insured for a reasonable price and we will also get £35 cashback for our purchase.

Friday, 23rd of November.
Walked to and from work today in the fog, just taking my time. A very quiet day at work, so did some documenting towards my appraisal. We don’t have probation periods at weekday workplace, but if you don’t meet your objectives without good reason, you then don’t get the incremental payrise at the start of every new financial year. So very important to document everything, to show you are meeting or, preferably, exceeding your objectives.

Saturday, 24th of November.
Very quiet at weekend job this morning, which is just what I needed. Husband was very kind and helpful, doing stuff around the house, going shopping up the road as we needed some food, and starting dinner for when I got back. Colleague very kindly gave me a lift back from work.
I was nevertheless worn out and went to bed at 10pm – not like me at all for a Saturday.

Sunday, 25th of November.
Had a lovely quiet morning at home with Husband before heading out to work today. We had a nice breakfast together after lying in bed for a while drinking a cup of tea.
It was a bit warmer and sunnier today than it has been this week, so took a chance and pegged the washing out before work.
I managed to get to Foodprint before work. I am so thankful it exists. It has been such a boon to us, and provided us with so much lovely and different food, for very little money.

img_20181125_195209
Saving food from being thrown in the bin and saving money, with Foodprint. This shop cost me £3.10.

My colleague was again getting a taxi back home and offered me a ride, which meant I could get home right away, rather than having to hang about waiting for a bus. I even had time to swing by the Co-Op to see if there were any bargains to be had.

img_20181125_195235
Got a large pot of vanilla yogurt, 25p and a fresh baguette, 14p, from the Co-Op.

Came home and wanted to fill the kettle up, and noticed to my surprise that the water pressure was significantly lower than normal. Neighbour down the path said it was affecting her, as well as her neighbours either side. Thankfully it came out as normal again about two hours later.
Spent the evening relaxing at home, but also had time to change the Cat’s tray and hoover, make our lunches for tomorrow and fold the laundry. I was pleasantly surprised to find it was dry for when I got in, not bad for almost December!
Had 100 free listings to use for eBay so relisted some of our unsold things. Think this might be the last time before Christmas I do it, as I don’t want any sales to now get caught in the Christmas post.

Speaking of which, it’s precisely a month to Christmas from today’s date….

(You can read about next week here, if you wish.)

Nearly-There November, Week 1.

Monday, 5th of November.
Walked to and from work today, as the weather was nice and bright. I have begun to realise that it now gets dark here earlier and that by 5pm it is dark. It is not as nice to walk in the dark, to be honest, but I will carry on with it as it’s good for me to move about.

Tuesday, 6th of November.
Learning new procedures today at work – feeling very self-conscious of being the new hire. I hope I won’t disappoint.
Husband has had to take some leave this week to get used to a reduction in his meds, so he very kindly made dinner as he was home. Nothing like coming home to dinner being ready and waiting for you.

Wednesday, 7th of November.
Day off today.
Spent a good two hours catching up with my lovely line manager from my previous job. We went to M and S, and using my M and S gift card from when I switched bank to them, it meant I could buy us a lovely drink and a piece of cake each from the cafe for no money.
img_20181107_105934
I then attended a meeting at my weekend workplace regarding the settlement programme the government is piloting for EU residents. As someone from the EEA I am not eligible to take part at this time, but it was still informative and useful to attend. The weekend workplace have stated they will pay the fee for applying for settlement status, £65, so as soon as I find out what the procedure is for EEA nationals I will apply to ensure I get the money reimbursed.

After the meeting, I went and did a bit of self-employed work for one the the firms I do work in Norwegian for. Nice to have some extra money coming in for next month. And it didn’t take all that long either.
We decided to have fast food as a treat for an early dinner, before I parceled up and went to post some eBay sales we’ve had.

Thursday, 8th of November.
I suddenly realized when I went to bed Wednesday night that the 24 hour bus ticket I had purchased through the app, meant that it was in fact valid for 24 hours!
Sorry if it sounds daft, but paper day tickets expire at the end of the day, but these you buy from the app are now valid for 24 hours after activation, until the next day. So as I got the bus before 9am on Wednesday, I decided to use the ticket up to take the bus to work in the morning.
Hey, I’ve bought the ticket, I want to get as much use out of it as humanly possible!

Walked home from work, going by the Co-Op to get milk coming back. Looked for bargains but sadly, there were none. Think 5.30pm is a bit early to look for the magical yellow stickers to appear.

Friday, 9th of November.
Work was very quiet today, so caught up with shelf-tidying.

Had a text from M and S bank to say another £5 has been added to my gift card (you have to have £1000 go in every month, and have two Direct Debits go out, to get the bonus applied). Think I will put it towards Christmas presents for this year.

When I checked my emails that evening, I was pleasantly surprised to find I was one of the ‘posters of the month’ on one of the online boards I am part of, which meant they sent me a £30 Amazon voucher. It was duly stashed in the Christmas/Birthday fund.

Saturday, 10th of November.
A quiet morning at work, meaning we could get on with this year’s stock projects. As usual, I found stuff to borrow.

img_20181111_224314
Two very interesting items I borrowed. The one on the right is a graphic novel about the experiences of a man who worked as a mental health nurse in a locked ward. The one on the left is a mental health first aid manual, designed for use in remote places of the world where mental health provision may be basic or not even exist.

Tempted to place a borrowing embargo on myself now, got so many books to read, yet keep finding interesting stuff on the shelves! Gah!

Sunday, 11th of November.
Had a quiet morning at home with Husband before going out.
Managed to make breakfast, do the dishes and take down and fold two loads of laundry before I left.
Using Husband’s pass to save on the precious few days of travel I have purchased for myself, using the travel app the bus company has.
We are collecting for three charities as a department this year for Christmas, so went by the shops to get some of the items that have been requested.

I also managed to swing by Foodprint before work. They are celebrating their first anniversary in December; I am so grateful it exists. It has saved so much food from going in the bin, and it’s saved us so much money. Managed to get lots of lovely bread which will make up Husband’s lunches at work over the next few weeks (it will all fit in the freezer, thankfully!).

img_20181111_195656
Lovely food for our lunches and breakfasts, saved by Foodprint from the bin. This cost me £5.75. It’s been such a boon to us, and has saved us so much money. Mr. Stabby is keeping an close eye on things.

Work was quiet, so managed to catch up on off-desk tasks and emails.
My colleague again offered a ride home as he was getting a taxi anyway, so grateful for this as it saves me so much time travelling home from work on a Sunday night.
This also meant I could go by the local shop and see if there were any bargains, which there were.

img_20181111_195400
Got these lovely donuts, 16p, and sausage and cheese and onion bakes, 34p a bag.

Husband went to Sharing Sherwood with our neighbour, and brought home some lovely food (and dinner for me).
img_20181111_195008
Here’s hoping next week will be as frugal.

An Overdue October.

November is now here, and winter is really approaching now, after we have had a lovely warm summer and fall. We caved at the end of October and put the heating on in the evenings.

How did we do for October?

  • Unlike last month, we were below budget for groceries for October. Long may it continue. Olio and Foodprint once again came through and helped us save a lot of money. I also got some good reduced food deals and my Wilkos voucher meant we could buy a lot of toiletries and household stuff for very little money. Old habits die hard.
  • Husband was finally and at long last given his overdue backdated PIP payment. It will pay for everything he needs to be able to function and take part in everyday life.
  • Husband and I have both been paid. Hopefully as we go into the New Year, we will build up our savings again. I will apply the overpayment to the mortgage again when I have some free time next week.
  • Silver had her birthday. I received a lot of good wishes and lovely gifts. And I got to see my sister and spend some quality time with her.
  • Husband is settling in well in his new workplace, doing part-time. I can’t help but feel a weight lifted off my shoulders. I can be sure that he is okay at work and feels safe and appreciated there. He had to have a few days off work due to his foot swelling, and he said to me that he ‘looked forward to going back to work.’
    Be still my heart, be still!
    I know that you can’t expect to always love your job, or like everyone you come across. Life is not like that. However Husband has always had a raw deal with everything, work, school, college. Not really feeling like he fitted in anywhere.

    I think this time, things will be different.

 

Skintember, week 2.

(The first week of Skintember can be found here.)

Monday, 10th of September.
No letter about PIP in the post today.
Made a crumble with ingredients we had at home to take with us, bought some custard, and then we went to see Husband’s younger sister for the afternoon. As she lives in the next town over it costs to travel by bus to see her but Keeping up Appearances meant I felt we should go visit. She gave us some coleslaw to take home as neither of them eat it. Husband was peckish despite me packing snacks and drinks, so bought two tubs of Pringles.

Tuesday, 11th of September.
Finally had the decision letter through in the post – Husband has been awarded PIP<3. Had a friend visit that we hadn’t seen in ten years. We were gifted a tin of corned beef which had served as a deterrent after being left in a house share where the tenants were vegetarian.
Keeping up Appearances meant we went out for lunch, to Kitty Cafe. I paid for the entrance fee for us and our friend paid for our lunch which was very generous.
IMG_20180911_123039IMG_20180911_123003IMG_20180911_123306IMG_20180911_123212IMG_20180911_122925
Wednesday, 12th of September.
Most of today was spent supporting Husband as his mood was very low. Wednesday was spent doing things around the house and working on eBay listings, as I won’t have the time or patience to do many of these once I am back in work. Doing tasks that meant I could be close to him.
Had a letter through letting us know the annual gas safety check for the boiler is due, will cost £75, and when can we book an appointment? Had a giggle and then filed it away in ‘To do when we are not skint’.
Husband’s friend is really going through a bad time with change of medication for pain management, so we ordered a takeaway for her so she wouldn’t have to cook.

Thursday, 13th of September.
Spent today working on eBay listings. Have sold two things so will post those this weekend.

IMG_20180913_142121
Lovely cawl for lunch, with sourdough bread cheese toastie.

Neighbour has come home from vacation and asked if I wanted to come by and sit in the garden. Had a nice afternoon sitting with her and her cats and just decompressing, while being fed lovely treats and given tea.

IMG_20180913_135251
Decided to roast the small butternut squash I got from Foodprint, it turned out delicious. I love these rich fall colours fruit and veg have.

Went to Co-Op to see if they had any reduced bargains, but think I went too early as there were reductions but nothing that caught my eye. This was at 8.30pm so maybe go at 9pm next time?
Got Husband a nice pasty for 25p which will form part of his dinner tomorrow.
Paid student loan instalment and invoiced for the media analysis work I have done this month.

IMG_20180913_135351
Wanted to try and grow stuff in water and then pot it out, so pleased with these spring onions! This is after a week and a half in a small container in water I changed daily.

Friday, 14th of September.
Husband had appointment with employment advisor today, all-day ticket is £5. Fortunately for us, they reimburse your travel expenses. They also reimburse expenses associated with with and have let us know they can reimburse Husband for the DBS check he needed to start.
Keeping Up Appearances meant I encouraged Husband to remember to get his ticket reimbursed so he could treat himself for lunch if he wanted. Bless him, be brought us fried chicken home he insisted on sharing with me for lunch.

Checked bank account balance, Paypal has gone in and Arriva Trains Wales have reimbursed us for the delay when we travelled to see Husband’s sister in Wales. That will tide us over for a bit.
Did washing, changed the sheets and gave a laundry basket Husband’s sister has given us a really good scrub.
Went food shopping using the all-day ticket Husband had bought saving me using my bus pass, sadly Foodprint had to close early so was shut. Spent some of my Boots Advantage Card points on deodorants for Husband as he’d run out. Went to Tesco to buy some groceries- had a nasty surprise at the checkout as one of the gift cards I wanted to pay with was empty, so had to pay in cash much to my annoyance. Will ensure I check at the kiosk before I go shopping next time, so I know I have the balance I need to cover what I buy.

Finished putting up all my eBay listings, over 100 of them! YES!

img_20180914_125615
The Cat came and had a snuggle ❤

Saturday, 15th of September.
We were meeting up with our neighbors from the terrace in the Wetherspoon across the main road. Keeping Up Appearances meant we went along and had breakfast. I chose a standard breakfast rather than a large, which came with unlimited tea refills. Naturally I had 3!
Got Finance questionnaire through the post to fill in, once done and sent back I’ll get a £15 Amazon voucher which will be added to the Christmas stash.
Went to the post office to send 2 eBay sales off, and walked by the shops coming back. Got some reduced bananas and in Wilkos they had their end of season sale.

img_20180915_124934
So pleased with these, good dates and everything. Can’t go wrong with 10p for a seed packet! I am determined to grow more things next year so these should be good to try.

Sunday, 16th of September.

Today has been spent doing stuff around the house – laundry, folding stuff, emptying my in-tray, things I won’t have the will to do when I’m in work. Made lunches for us both and a shepherd’s pie style dish for dinner. Ensuring the kitchen is clean and dishes done for when I get back Monday night.

I start my new job tomorrow!

You can read all about week three of Skintember here.

 

 

The last two weeks in review: A test of patience.

We’ve made some changes to the house the last two weeks, both inside and out. Not without its challenges, as the gent doing the work for us took much longer than he had forecast and so we spent a week on the sofabed downstairs while he did this to our upstairs bedroom:

IMG_20180530_155820

IMG_20180530_155818
Before. Two awkward spaces, one on either side of our bed…

IMG_20180608_154344
….aaaand after! Just have to find all our clothes and things again now and put them away.

b336945a-ef5d-4a08-8fb1-280d30fc5ea71590723779
Lots of lovely storage.

So pleased with how it has turned out. Just need to find the will to live to apply some varnish to it now.

I have also been doing some stuff around the garden at the back. Husband’s Dad surprised us by coming by one morning and bless him helped us cut the hedge for us. Our next door neighbor has said we are more than welcome to use their hedge trimmer when we need to, so that saves us buying it for the garden.

IMG_20180605_155511
Our back yard. I’ve managed to weed it now and clear some of the dead plants. I am so pleased so many of our plants seem to have survived a cold winter.

IMG_20180605_155520
Our sage, still being savage. I have cut it back a bit not as its size meant I couldn’t get in through the back gate.

IMG_20180605_155451
Aaaah! A wild tiny tomato plant appeared!

IMG_20180605_155441
A nasturtium has also sprouted, hope it’ll do as well as the one we planted last year did.

IMG_20180521_210210
Our front garden desperately needed a tidy. Before…

IMG_20180610_122454
…aaand after! Husband and I weeded and swept it and Husband’s father very kindly cut the hedges for us and helped us pull the last of the chickenwire out. We may get the front garden landscaped next summer.

Half term was very relaxed. The first half of the week was spent just with Husband and I enjoying it. Had dinner with his family and celebrated his birthday by going with him to see the new Solo movie and having breakfast out. I also travelled to London to see my friend and her sisters, and got some badly needed bras as several of mine are just unsightly now.

Last week was very different however, it was unsettling for us both.

Husband has been discussing lowering the dose of Epilim he is on as it is starting to interfere too much (seizure control ok, but impacting him in other ways). It was agreed with the consultant that the dose reduction would be done with his approval and with us discussing it first with the GP.

Naturally we went to get his prescription last Monday to find it had been lowered from 2300mg to 2000mg. Husband and I were both cross at this as it had been done without properly discussing it with us, but Husband was prepared to give it a try.

Husband and I ended up staying home for most of last week as his withdrawal symptoms were quite strong. Husband felt shaky constantly, tired all the time and felt like he couldn’t focus on tasks; he also felt on edge and tingly which he has explained is how you feel before having a seizure.

So he didn’t feel well enough to go to work, and I did not want to leave him on his own, so I stayed at home with him. Saturday one of the neighbours checked up on him while I was at work at my weekend job, and Sunday friends came by so he wasn’t alone for too long.

It’s been a week now and Husband is feeling more himself thank goodness. We just didn’t expect this to just be dropped on our laps.

We have however had a court date for PIP which I am pleased about.

I’m also quite happy with myself for getting some good reduced bargains these past two weeks. Buying yellow sticker items just helps us so much and has saved us so much money, especially this month.

IMG_20180602_181422

IMG_20180603_201059
By going by four shops on my way through town after work on a Sunday night I managed to find us this food. Couldn’t believe the lovely fresh chicken we got for £1.31!

IMG_20180604_165549
Lots of lovely food, saved from the bin by Foodprint.

IMG_20180609_183623
Really chuffed with these finds, 24p for the punnet of plums! ❤

I need some change in my life.

This week has been very mixed.

Monday was very stressful at work, as we were down to two staff and my colleague had done her back in so I had to keep going to help her lift stuff or reach stuff.

As we were due to see the Work Health Programme coach the day after, I went home with a lump in my throat. I’d found some vacancies that could be suitable for Husband but the thought of having to sit and fill them in with him for hours filled me with dread.

Don’t get me wrong. We love each other, and as long as I have the will to live, I will support him and defend him.

But on Monday I just couldn’t.
I couldn’t face even the thought of having to do more work, after just having come home from work. And the day after that. And the day after that.

I broke down once I came home and was a crying wreck for most of the evening and the day after.

I just need some actual support, with supporting, if that makes sense?

If I am to continue going to work six days a week to support us financially, I need help.

I need more help at home keeping the house and I need help supporting Husband; filling in application forms, accompanying him places if he needs that, and so forth.

Naturally my poor mood affected Husband so when we went to the Work and Health Programme on Tuesday I cried for most of the appointment and Husband felt rubbish. As it is only the second appointment we have been to I can imagine what impression that gave of us, as the Wellbeing advisor was quite unkind and said that Husband’s problem is me. Because I work so much to support us and he doesn’t do as many hours and he feels he isn’t contributing.

We were both very upset with how they dealt with this, but will try to attend again as there isn’t anything else. Remploy wouldn’t help us as Husband is already enrolled on the Work Health Programme plus they don’t have an office nearby. The working scheme for people with Asperger’s Syndrome run by the county council can’t take him as he lives within the city limits, and it is just for people living within the county (???).

They suggested Husband applied for ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) and it is something Husband’s mother has suggested as well, it is something he could be eligible for and still keep his job.

If applying for ESA is anything like what we have had to deal with applying for PIP, I will not do it.

Having had to deal with applying for PIP and being told in effect that we are lying has brought out feelings in me I did not even know that I possessed. We started this process in May 2017 and almost a year later we are waiting for it to be resolved.

If someone else helps me fill in the form for it and takes Husband to the assessment, sure.

But I am not prepared to go through something similar on my own. I’m sorry if it makes me sound defeatist.

But it’s making me ill.

Husband bless him must have sensed how desperate I have been feeling this week, as he keeps asking if I am ok, no, if I am really ok, and keeps doing things around the house and saying ‘I’m trying to help.’ He wants to give up his counselling so I can go have some, something I have rejected as he needs it more than me. I have explained to him that the problem is that I have so much work to do, outside of work, that I am beginning to feel like it’s swallowing me up.

I think three things have to change in order to help me feel better, as I am feeling so overwhelmed:

  1. I need much more help around the house than what I am getting now. I cannot go on working as many hours I do and still have more stuff to do at home.
    I suggested a cleaner, to which Husband strongly objected. So we will sit down and go through a list to divide chores more evenly. At the same time I understand that while things might not be done to my standard (Hanging the washing on the line in a lump? Ok then?), it will still be done. I have to let that feeling go.
  2. I need help supporting Husband’s search for a job. This means I will no longer actively look for vacancies for him to apply for, but leave that with him. If he wants to continue looking for work and finds something he needs help applying for, a gent at the WH programme is available on a Thursday and Friday to sit with Husband and help him actually fill in the form and write cover letters. I will support Husband with getting familiar with travelling there so he can make the journey there eventually unaided when he feels confident enough to do it.
  3. I need a release of some kind. A friend told me she goes swimming. I am contemplating perhaps going on a Monday as I finish earlier in the day and the tram takes me to the leisure centre. I went swimming three days a week to be able to even fit into my ruddy wedding dress get in shape before and I thoroughly enjoy it when I go. Maybe that’s something I can do.

I feel more calm now. As in, I don’t feel great, but it’s not all coming out. It’s simmering a bit deeper within me.

The end of the week has been better.

As Thursday was warmer and we had bright sunshine, I took the plunge and hung a load of bedding out to dry on Friday before leaving for work. It had almost dried by the time I got home Friday afternoon and hangs on the airer upstairs in the top floor to just get it completely dry.

I also got some lovely food bargains last week and this week, which helps our budget a lot.

Photo0483
Got these last week at Lidl; they are pots with a mix of barley, yogurt and juice, reduced from 65p each to 14p. They have been a boon to my lunches this week. On the left are my wraps; I decided to make three days’ worth of lunches in one go and just take them to work, saving me time in the morning. Something I think I’ll continue to do, rather than running around while stashing fruit and bits of bread in my bag in my race to get out the door.

Photo0484
Got some lovely good food from Foodprint last week. This cost us £5.95 and would have ended up in the bin if they had not snapped it up.

Photo0487
I managed to visit Foodprint after work on Friday and got these lovely babies. It’s 5 kgs of food we have saved from the bin, and it cost us £5.

Next week is half term and I am flying to Norway to see my family. Coach leaves at 2am on Monday morning for Heathrow (What possessed me to think this was a good idea, as I will be working 2pm to 7pm on Sunday? What?).

Hopefully I will have a chance to relax a bit.

And I will perhaps not feel so lonely.

EDIT: And to add further fuel to my feeling of not coping: Suddenly realized yesterday that I had not let my self-employed work know I am going away tomorrow (they need 2 weeks notice minimum to find cover), so I had better ruddy find a way to do the work while I’m there! And when I came home I’d gotten a letter to say last month’s credit card bill hadn’t been paid – I’d forgotten! Paid it in full immediately of course, but we have accrued £12 in late fees and £26 in interest! AAAAARGH!

 

 

Our frugal quest continues: How did we do this Christmas?

I worked hard on stashing away vouchers, loyalty points and Paypal payments in 2017, as it is the chief way for us to put away something for Christmas. Last year we did well but I was endeavouring to get even more presents paid for with points etc. this year. I have been keeping a log of things and this is what how we did this year:

  • Husband. We did not buy ourselves anything this year, as we feel we have enough ‘stuff’. What we will do is go out for dinner and treat ourselves sometime. Experiences, rather than things, are definitely the way forward.
  • Mother: Part share in a set of advent candle sticks set she wanted, £25, paid in cash.
  • Father: Another Game of Thrones book plus postage, £10, paid in cash.
  • Sister: Two books she wanted, £7.79 and £4.93, paid for with Amazon gift card.
  • Nephew: Robot Wars book, £7.43, paid for with Amazon gift card.
  • Best friend: Catering sized bag of PG Tips Tea with 1150 tea bags in it, £18.98, paid for by Amazon gift card.
  • Father in-law: Wireless weather station, £17.89, paid for with Amazon gift card.
  • Niece: Now 98 CD, £12.60, paid for with Amazon gift card, So…? body spray, £1.99, paid in cash.
  • Friend: Tea pot and cup set, £15.94, paid for with Amazon gift card.
  • Friend’s fiance: Irn-Bru cufflinks, £7.95, paid for with Amazon gift card, Irn-Bru sweets, £4.99, paid for with Paypal.
  • Brother in-law: Four cans of Lacerated Sky beer, £24, paid for in cash.
  • Nephew: Deadpool Munchkin set and Munchkin expansion pack, £13.25 and £15.50, paid for with Amazon gift card.
  • Nephew: Cowboy Bebop season 1, £22.99, paid for with Amazon gift card.
  • Nephew (yes, we have a lot of those!): Pathfinder core rulebook, £22.99, paid for with Amazon gift card.
  • Neighbour who cat sits for us: Hotel Chocolat Dark Selection box, £12.50. £10 paid with Compliments voucher, £2.50 in cash.
  • Sister in-laws boyfriend: Harvester voucher for 2 through Groupon, £20, paid for in cash.
  • Friend, £5 note, paid in cash.

Looking at the list we had fewer people to buy for this year as we did Secret Santa with Husband’s family. Everyone drew two names and those were the people we bought for – that way everyone got a present, but you did not have to buy for everyone. So that helped a lot with the Christmas budget. I am very pleased I managed to get the great majority of our presents using our vouchers and will continue to earn these in 2018!

I also tidied away Christmas yesterday and made the greeting cards I could into gift tags for next year before recycling the rest.

The survey earns and everything I do to squirrel away is a chapter in itself, something I will write about later this year. I keep a tally of everything I get, and it does add up over the whole year.

To finish, here is my Catch of the Day. I went by a Tesco Express yesterday after work as I know they reduce stuff there after 7pm, and got these lovely babies:

photo0469.jpg
My reduced babies! 4 packs of black pudding (Husband LOVES this but we can’t afford it often so this is a treat for him) 31p each, a head of lettuce, 16p, dip, 39p, two packs of puff pastry, 49p, a pack of potatoes, 41p, three packs of baby mushrooms, 33p each and a load of bread, 33p. Score!