Saturday, 24 January 2015

No Shop Week

Fairly randomly,mid morning, I decided not to go to Lidls this week.

Saturday is a bit of a nightmare, Boo to her volunteer job by 10, H to her actual job at 12, then Boo to pick up at 12.30, and H to pick up at 5. Did I mention they are in different towns?

I was determined to get some housework done, we had some sheep to move, and my seville oranges were looking a bit peaky.  Also, the delightful Cassidy (he's a goat) was coming to move in with our ladies for a few weeks.

I set to with the housework and got the pantry cleaned out and tidied/reorganised and while I was doing it and noticing how much there was in there, howbeit fairly weird, some of it, I informed Neil that I was not going shopping this week, and as he was doing the fetch that led him past Sainsburys, he could pick up the four things we really truly needed, one of which was cheese. I can't remember the rest!

Then I pitched into marmalade making, which makes your hands hurt and is not in any way gripping, but it is very satisfying when five hours later you have a lot of marmalade.

Made some bread using up a Lidls mix - I don't have a bread machine but I love these, they're totally worth the extra. Our favourite is Sunflower, but there is a bizarre woman who comes into our local store and clears all the boxes of that one particular mix. She quite often causes a fair bit of collateral damage - she's not careful - and we generally look up at the boxes and say 'she's been' glumly. Actually I do have a sunflower tucked away from an earlier sortie when we beat her to it, but this was a wheat/rye mix which is nearly as nice.

I made a fruit cake to tide us through the biscuit and treat free days a bit, and three large pizzas for, I reckon, in the region of about £2 for all three, for supper. Boo then got into the spirit of the thing by making up a packet of goodness knows how old raspberry blancmange, which she used as a hot custard over chunks of the now baked fruit cake. I can tell that's not going to last long.

I then jarred up the marmalade and by that time was utterly shattered. We sat down to watch an episode of 'Wartime Farm' from the collection Neil gave me for Christmas, but neither of us made it to the end. Once I had nodded off I decided it was time for a bath and bed!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Snow, Slush, Sevilles and Skirts

Either  my to do lists are too long or my achievements are too short.

I intended today to make marmalade and a skirt. However, when it came to it, I actually completed a grant application. Well, when I say completed .... it's nearly there.

My great bowl of Seville oranges sits unmolested, and my length of lightweight denim and adaptable-to-all-body-shapes pattern is equally uncut. 

I had promised to take H out to a client evening run by our equine vets, with five excellent speakers and very yummy food, at a superb eco-conference centre on an organic farm which is local if you're marketing but not so much when you're driving across the top of the Marlborough Downs with snow hurling itself at you blindingly.

We did make it there and back and thanks are due to Lambourne Equine Vets for a very informative and entertaining evening. 

It is now impossibly late, and all my best laid plans of early nights and self care have gone slithering down the road with the melting slush. Tomorrow is another day.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Monday Round Up

Today I'm doing a fair old bit of running around. It's a two school run day, as H now has half days in the lead up to her A Levels. She's got her UCAS form in and received one offer, from her first choice Uni, so she's as happy as a person studying for A levels can be.

Boo finishes at the normal time or later - later today as she has extra classes, due to course work being due in for her GCSEs.  I can't recommend having children who are two years apart, at this stage in the game.

After animals - ducks had a good clean out and a change of pond water today - I got stuck in to eBay - I've signed up with D$D and am also listing my own 'stuff' on there to try to capitalise a bit.  My list for today was long and included sewing and all sorts of other extravagant hopes, but so far, animals, duck cleaning, ebay listing, child driving, and coffee slurping have filled all the available time thus far.

It is bitterly cold but on the frugal plus side, N got offered a load of logs free if he went today to fetch, which of course he did. They'll need splitting but even so, you can't turn down free heat.

The downside of that is that he will be at work painting and decorating probably until 9pm which is jolly late and I do worry about him sometimes.

I've resolved to take care of me a bit, for the next few weeks, as I usually crash and burn and develop some kind of a health crisis in February, so I'm aiming to drink lots of water, get plenty of sleep, take my vitamins and cut myself some slack, with the aim of avoiding same!

Monday, 12 January 2015

Pick yerself up ....

I've been mostly concentrating on the farm blog of late, and actually getting some work done, but as the new year kicks in, I'm feeling grey because our big push to get debt free was going so well before Christmas, and now we are back in all kinds of trouble.
We didn't consciously over spend on Christmas, but we did have an 18th as well, and the money kind of stopped coming in, too. We've had a lot of veterinary expenses, and the hassle with the neighbour means we have to spend money on fencing and moving stock.

We are back at baby step one.

 We have to gather an emergency fund.

Dave Ramsey advises $1000 and we've always taken that as £1000 (unless you are earning in one currency and spending in another, exchange rates are meaningless. In the old days we used to say, a pound is a pound, is a dollar, is a mark, is a franc. That is now meaningless to anyone but old crones like me!

£500 will do it if you are on a very low income or in very dire straits, and we are as dire as they come at the  moment, but there's nothing for it but to get tough and start again.

I was just wondering if anyone would like to join me?! Anyone else back at square one step on and needing to draw that 10 x 10 grid .....

Saturday, 25 October 2014

A Kick up the BGKs

I really do have to give myself a talking to.

I've been feeling rubbish for weeks, I've had headaches, cold sweats, fuggy heads, ear aches, now I've got a tingling, pins and needles sensation around my head and ear.

I've been to the Dr, he can't find anything wrong with me.

I'm just feeling hopeless, down in the dumps, and generally rubbish. The financial situation is going from bad to worse, upon which I will not dwell, and it is the time of year I usually start feeling all sparkly and optimistic about Christmas.

So in an Elaine stylee I am going to have to pull up the big girl knickers, and promptly give myself a kick in their general direction.

The world is three quarters full with people worse off than me.  Yes, we have failed dismally to get this whole situation under control, yes we have had a pile of disappointments, delays and distractions this year, and yes, I feel like poop.

But sitting here feeling sorry for myself isn't going to help. There must be a resolution.

As I await what Jo and I refer to as the JK Balboa Moment (it's a cross between JK Rowling in a cafe with a biro and Rocky Balboa on the sidewalks at dawn in his trackies - you know, that 'right, this is not funny any more, I have to do this now' moment) I think I'm going to have to be just a tad more proactive.

Cheer me on, there's a love.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Budgets and Bugs

The tedious business of our neighbour complaining about us is wearing me down. I've been feeling poorly this week and juggling vitamins, prescription meds, attempts at exercise and relaxation (ha!) and trying to get a bit more sleep in an attempt to beat the stress.

Not content with complaining repeatedly to the council who presumably eventually just stopped listening (well they stopped asking us to comment) he then went to a solicitor.  Our professional association replied for us, and so did our landlord. The whole thing is nonsense. He doesn't have a complaint.

Then it transpired he'd gone above everyone's head and complained to the overall landlord. The man is insane. I *know* in my heart that everyone sees it for what it is, but I'm tired, and I find myself too often tearful about it all.

As October begins I've set out a proper budget - and it is now the second day of the month and the first thing I hadn't thought of has come up. Bill for Boo's clarinet lessons. Sigh. Back to the drawing board.

I know for a lot of people 'Stoptober' is a no spend month. My chances of hitting anything like no spend are ... nil! But I've set myself the challenge of coming in under budget somehow.

I've finally got to work on sewing Boo's *summer* dress (spot the deliberate error) and am trying to get it done as I'd like some time to make some crafts for gifts and sale this Christmas.

However, when I was forced to make a detour back to the school this morning on my way to work - she had left her PE kit in the car - I was horrified to find I had to hand it in to reception in a tatty, split, supermarket carrier bag! So a couple of roughty toughty drawstring bags might have to do a bit of queue jumping.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Decisions, Decisions.

I spend a lot of time mumbling things that I'd like to be writing down, and then not writing them.

Then I come to write things down, and I can't think what I mumbled.

Today - well this week - has been too busy. It was up to Cirencester yesterday with H to visit potential University. Today I had two meetings about forthcoming projects on the field - outdoor learning with School and PreSchool in the village.

Tomorrow it's back to work and I don't feel as if my feet have touched the ground.

Autumn is in the air, and so I lit the Rayburn properly for the first time today. It feels nice to have its warm and comforting presence, bumbling away in the background.

as you can see I was quick to pop the kettle on and park the rocker nice and near, so that after lunch I was perfectly positioned to sit down with a cup of coffee, to think through and process all the stuff that's happening, before heading off on the school run.

and this was my gaze down the kitchen as I did so! I must say the light doesn't do justice to what was a sunny, lovely but cool afternoon, and the sense of space and peace I had in that quiet moment, before it all began again.

There is so much to consider at the moment. I'm finding it hard to think about all the choices, decisions, and situations all at once.  I've been offered extra work, which would help with squaring the budget, but mean I had next to no time to work on farm stuff.

We're determined to build the farm, but equally determined to pay off our debts, and get ourselves back in a good position financially. The picture changes from day to day, and then some days I just want to sit and soak it in, and think, you know, life (this life at least) is short, and beautiful. It's too precious to spend in a state of non stop stress. Everything will be OK. At that point, I just want to drop all the jobs and side hustles and desperate attempts to square the circle, and just work the land, peacefully.

The following day, I will be back in the land of the determined, and feel we really do have to put ourselves on a better financial footing.

I'm still trying to keep all three blogs going but This Little War is currently hosted at because I can't get the domain name change to work!

How is Autumn treating you? Are you a work until you drop to get the books balanced type, or do you see life as too precious to spend with your nose to the grindstone all the time?