Friday 31 January 2020

I almost made it!!

I almost made it until the end of January without needing to use my credit card!  I broke a tooth and needed an emergency dental appointment.  I only had 51p left in cash as I'd spent some cash on a bottle of wine and crisps (potato chips if you're outside the UK) the other night as a treat.  Oh the irony that I broke the tooth munching on a crisp!!!!  Sadly the tooth had to be removed this morning as it wasn't saveable.

I can't complain as it only cost me £13.38 (good old NHS!) but I had to put it on my card.  I also needed to get some stronger painkillers, cost £2 (Tesco own brand.)  Co codamol and not the above drops! 😂

So I guess spending £15 over my budget this month wasn't too bad.

Tuesday 28 January 2020


The view from my bedroom window at 7.30am this morning.  I love how the red post box stands out!  It was only a 'dusting of snow'  but everything had obviously frozen hard before the snow fell.  It took a long time for my car to defrost and become driveable..  The camera sensors and radar 'thingy' (it brakes for you if the car in front brakes suddenly) weren't working and all the warning lights on my dashboard were on!  The main roads were fine so I took the long way round to school.  Honestly, if I'd just put my boots on and walked to work it would have taken less time!!!!

Monday 27 January 2020

More monthly savings

I had a bank appointment this afternoon to talk about how to organise my finances going forward.  Long story short, I have swapped my fee paying current account for a free one AND it gives me 0.5% interest!! I didn't know that my bank was merging with Virgin Money so that was a surprise.  Changing accounts was so easy.  I get a new card but everything else is exactly the same, even my PIN stays the same.  But the best bit is I save £13.50 a month 🎉🎉🎉

That takes my monthly savings to £62.50, which is £750 a year!!!!  And I have one more monthly saving to work on, hopefully sorted by next month.

While I was in town I popped into TK Maxx.  I always have a good look round and vow never to spend more than £10 if it's unplanned.  I picked up 48 fibre pots for starting off seedlings.  £4.99

I also got a bag of dried mealworms for the chickens and wee ground feeding birds.  The girls love them.  You can see them staring at the bag for more!  It was £6 so total spend of £10.99 (99p over my budget but it was worth it!) That leaves me with £11.31 cash to last until Friday.  Totally doable! 😀

Sunday 26 January 2020

Leaks and kettles

Last week I noticed that there was a stain on my recently painted dining room ceiling.  I was pretty convinced that it was a historic stain that had broken through the stain block I'd painted over it.  But just to be on the safe side we thought we'd have a look as it was directly under the shower area in the bathroom above.  Even small leaks need to be investigated!

Luckily I hadn't re carpeted the upstairs landing yet so it was easy enough to lift the carpet and have a look.  You can see a watermark in the corner.  After a thorough investigation (I'm cutting short the 2 day drama involving unscrewing floorboards, using a circular saw and dust everywhere!!)  we concluded that as there was nothing currently wet or damp under the floorboards it was indeed the historic stain and not a new one.  Basically I was right! 😉

But it's always good to have a wee look underneath and behind things just for peace of mind.  I am so grateful that I don't need to do any work on the shower cubicle .  It's very dated but knowing it's watertight means I can put up with it for another year while I direct my money to the downstairs bathroom.  Phew!!

Frugal living in January is now in it's final week although February will be just as frugal!  I've been using up storecupboard ingredients and freezer contents to create some new meals.  My favourite meal was a huge pot of lentil and chickpea curry which was absolutely delicious!  Loads of leftovers went into the freezer.  I still have £22.30 in cash left.  I have not used my credit card at all although I did have to buy a new kettle (Ebay using PayPal) as the other one simply stopped working halfway through boiling.  It was 13 months old so just out of guarantee.  Grrr!!!

It's a stove top whistling kettle, reminds me of my old Aga kettle.  I love it and hopefully it will last a lot longer than an electric one!!  (it's bigger than it looks in that photo!)

I get paid on Wednesday (yeay!) so I'm looking forward to seeing how much I've managed to save this month.  There are a few Australian purchases still to come through on my credit card but I'm hoping January's bill will be very low.  🎉

Monday 20 January 2020

RIP Ginger MarmaLady

I found Ginger curled up in the corner of the coop this morning.  She had died in her sleep.  It was exactly one year ago I rescued her from a commercial free range flock.  She was feisty, cheeky and friendly, always trying to come inside the house.  She had been a bit lethargic over the weekend but still came and ate her porridge yesterday morning.  She was only 2 and half years old.  That's not old for a chicken.

I will not be replacing her.  I've made the decision not to keep chickens any more although I'm still undecided about rehoming Tuppence and Penny.

Not a great start to my day.  RIP wee Ginger.

Sunday 19 January 2020

Growing more this year

Goal no 6 for 2020 is to 'Grow more fruit and vegetables.' I went to the allotment this morning to see how the winter veggies I planted have fared.  Spoiler alert!  Not that well!!

If I still have this plot within the veggie patch for the rest of this year, I'll need to enrich the soil.  Stuff has survived but it clearly isn't thriving.

I also did a wee video of my garden to show the difference.  The polytunnel hasn't been successful in growing the winter veg but the raised beds at the front are a bit more successful.  Shame I can't actually remember what I've planted!!

Leeks and kale I planted from seed last spring/summer plus some self seeded parsley.

This bed definitely had the kale plants and possibly cauliflower (?) plants, it's hard to tell.  This year I really must label everything more clearly.

Looking back at my emails I've remembered that I spent just over £51 on 80 plants because I wanted to try to extend my growing season outwith my usual summer months.  I'm really not sure it's worth it based on the results so far and definitely not frugal!!

Saturday 18 January 2020

Starting to make savings

My 3rd 2020 goal of 'Save, save, save' has begun in earnest. I've changed my internet and landline services from BT to Vodafone.  I'm saving £40 a month AND I have a better service.  My BT contract ended last year and I'd been looking for a better deal.  It had crept up to £62.99 which was outrageous!  Vodafone have been installing super fast broadband round here so I signed up.  £23 a month as I'm already a customer.  £40 x 12 = £480

I pay £9 a month for my National Trust for Scotland family membership.  I haven't visited any of their properties for 2 years, at least.  So that's getting cancelled.  £9 x 12 =  £108

So, £588 to be saved this year.  I'm going to transfer £49 into my savings account each month.  I'm working on a few other monthly savings so hopefully I can add even more each month.

When I came back from holiday I had £130 in cash.  I decided to use that cash to pay for everything this month.  My cupboard and freezer were reasonably well stocked and I didn't have any big spending plans for January.  I'm just over halfway through the month and still have £63 left.  I've done a few small supermarket top up shops, replaced an empty Sodastream gas canister and went to see Little Women (it was fab!) I hope I can last another 13 days!

Saturday 11 January 2020

Jet Lag

"Jet lag, also called desynchronosis, is a temporary disorder that causes fatigue, insomnia, and other symptoms as a result of air travel across multiple time zones. It is considered a circadian rhythm sleep disorder, which is a disruption of the internal circadian clock."

Yep and it's a horrible horrible feeling. Over the years I've travelled to the US, Australia and Singapore and have suffered a wee bit from jet lag when I got home.  But this week has been a whole new ball game. I've been wide awake at 3 am every morning and not able to get back to sleep.  I've HAD to lie down/go to bed at 6pm because the room is spinning and I kept falling over.  The best way to describe it is like being so drunk you can't stay upright.

I managed to go to school every day, thank goodness but I'm so happy it's the weekend now!  Last night I stayed up to 9pm and slept until 6am.  So I'm almost back to my 'normal' sleeping pattern.

Despite the lack of sleep I do quite like being up early before work.  Some mornings I was able to get the household chores done, do a guided meditation and have a long hot shower while deep conditioning my hair! And Emma has enjoyed the extra time I spent with her.

She was 8 this week, officially a senior dog now.  She was well looked after while I was away but it's taken all week for her to get back into my routine.  I'm not sure I'll ever leave her that long again.

I've survived the first week back.  Our new headteacher has arrived, so things are changing.  I'm reserving judgement so far. Oh, and I'm full of a stinking rotten cold already 😒

Monday 6 January 2020

My 2020 Goals

1.  Create a retirement plan to retire from teaching in 2021

I have decided that I will be retiring from teaching next year (2021) when I am 55.  I can access my teacher pension at 55 but it's not great due to years of part time working and taking it early lowers the payments.  I am planning to use some of the equity in my house to generate an income as well as doing a few other things.  I know exactly what I want and will be working on this all year.  Watch this space 😉

2.  Turn the extended part of my house into an Air B and B

I know I want to stay in this house but it's too big for just 1 person.  So, I'm planning to turn the extended part (utility room, shower room, study and family room) into a separate annexe and rent it out.  I live in a tourist area so there should be plenty of business.  Hopefully it'll be open by 2021.

3.  Save, save, save

I really need to stick harder to my frugal ways.  As well as creating an Air B and B, I still have 1 bedroom and a bathroom to upgrade.  I'd like to stick to a tight budget and reuse as much as I can.  I'd also like to have a safety net tucked away in my savings.

4.  Reclaim my back garden

The chickens have really trashed my back garden so either I re home them or create a larger enclosure for them and stop them free ranging.  Undecided on this one.  Either way I need my back garden to be lovely for people using the Air B and B.

5.  Stay fit and healthy

Keep eating well (definitely less meat and animal products) and exercising regularly.  No point in retiring if I'm not fit enough to do stuff!!

6.  Grow more fruit and vegetables

Now I have my allotment this should be easier this year.  I'd like to preserve as much as I can too.

7.  Work harder to reduce my environmental impact

As much as I enjoyed my 2 holidays I did feel a bit guilty about flying and the effect on the environment.  The bush fires in Australia have really brought home the fragility of our Earth.  I'm going to keep reducing my plastic use and try to simplify all areas of my life.  2020 will be my year of living more consciously.

These are my main goals for the year.  There are a few biggies in there but I have given careful thought to the direction I want my life to take.  I'll talk in more detail about each goal over the next few weeks and start putting wheels in motion.  Exciting times lie ahead!

Sunday 5 January 2020

Review of 2019 goals

As always I've had a look back at last year's goals to see how I did before deciding on this year's goals.

1.  Keep decluttering my house.

I've managed to declutter my downstairs/guest bedroom. The built in cupboards were full of unpacked boxes from the move 6 years ago.  Most of it got recycled, donated or binned.  I now just have 1 room left to clear.

2.  Keep decorating the house on a tight budget and re use as much stuff as possible.

I decorated my dining hall and stairs and my guest bedroom this year.  All the costs were paint, wallpaper, light fittings and carpet.  I reused all the furniture and accessories from elsewhere in the house

3.  Grow more fruit and vegetables

I don't think I grew any more than last year but I did get my new allotment started off.  I revamped my polytunnel to grow some Winter veg but the jury's still out on that one.

4.  Keep eating sensibly.

I've managed to stick to this one although I did relax the dairy free element for a short while.  My digestion didn't approve so I'm back on a strict gluten and dairy free diet.

5.  Exercise.   

I've managed to keep doing the gym twice a week but would like to do more this year

6.  Switch off from work.

I've successfully managed to not bring too much work stuff home.  Mainly planning stuff as you need uninterrupted time and school is just so noisy and busy.

7.  Craft more

I didn't manage to do much crafting this year as most of my time was taken up with DIY stuff.  Although I have recently picked up my sock knitting again.

8.  Stick to my clothing budget.

I've stayed well within my budget this year.

9.  Save as much money as possible

Well, I did save a fair amount but I've spent it all on carpets and travelling!!

10.  Reduce my plastic use

I've been fairly successful with this.  I haven't bought any new plastic items but it's the packaging that is the problem.  I'm constantly working on it.


2019 threw a few unexpected things at me.  The biggest one being that this will be my forever house.  Going forward I now have a different viewpoint on how it should be decorated.

I also hadn't planned on going on holiday by myself.  But it was exactly what I needed to do and I've gained a new confidence in myself and what I can do when I put my mind to it.

When I was in Australia I did a lot of thinking about the coming year (and 2021) so look out for my 2020 goals :-)

Saturday 4 January 2020

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all you lovely people!  I hope 2020 is a good year for you 💖 I got home last night and pretty much went straight to bed after travelling for 32 hours, door to door.  I had an amazing chilled time with my son which was exactly what I needed.  I have loads of of exciting plans and news for this year (and beyond) but I'll save that for another post 😉 xxx