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.
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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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:


Before. Two awkward spaces, one on either side of our bed…
….aaaand after! Just have to find all our clothes and things again now and put them away.
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.

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.
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.
Aaaah! A wild tiny tomato plant appeared!
A nasturtium has also sprouted, hope it’ll do as well as the one we planted last year did.
Our front garden desperately needed a tidy. Before…
…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.


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

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.
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.
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:

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!