Tuesday, 14 February 2017

A Homemade Valentine's Day

We had intended using a restaurant gift voucher from DD3 and BF to go out for a meal for Valentine's Day. Then we thought we might be moving this week so decided to save it for when we were more settled. The move is off for the time being but as we hadn't booked for tonight I did a homemade meal. I cooked DH his favourite sausages from the local butcher along with fried onions and we had them in rolls. I made another of his faves, a trifle using store cupboard ingredients, except for the cream from Aldi. I also made a choc and vanilla marble cake so the boys would have something nice as neither of them like trifle but I haven't taken a pic of it. As well as the food, I made DH a card that I knocked up using what remains of my craft supplies while he was at church on Sunday




Nothing OTT or overly romantic, just a way of saying I love you by doing something a little special. We tell each other 'I love you' on a regular basis; it's just nice to make a little extra effort every now and then.

I'd gained 2 lbs at my weigh in this week, and I'm now 1 lb over my top weight allowance. This is only the 4th time since I reached target 2.5 years ago that I've gone over my target. I'm not worrying too much because I've always managed to lose the extra by the following week. I know it's happened because of the stress of the house sale and the cold weather combined means I've been comfort eating too much sweet stuff and too many carbs. I'm going to try and eat more fruit and veg this week and less stodge...starting tomorrow since I already ate a sausage in a roll, some trifle and a piece of cake this evening! 

I'll also be walking more with DH off for half term; we already did a 5 mile walk yesterday up to the National Trust site on the cliff top. It's a long time since we climbed up the hill to the top and I did need to stop and catch my breath a few times, but we made it and despite a chilly wind and a bit of mist it was lovely to see the Exmoor ponies they use to control the vegetation, and the view over the docks and across to the opposite cliff. Unfortunately it was too misty to see the French coast which is visible on a clear day. Here's a pic of the ponies, a couple of the views across Dover Eastern Docks and the harbour and one of a windswept DH.





There's a community information day up at the church tomorrow morning so we might take a walk up there and grab a coffee before going into town. We can't go far tomorrow as we have a viewing in the afternoon, a cash buyer or so we're told. Fingers crossed yet again.

Enjoy your evening. Love, Helen xx




Sunday, 12 February 2017

Woollies For The World

Firstly I must thank everyone for their commiserations over the problems with our house sale, and for sharing their stories about the process. It's truly a minefield and the advice seems to be to hold in there and hopefully it will eventually work out. Fingers crossed.

Now confession time. After my little moan yesterday about people holding up checkout queues, I was the one doing just that today. Morrison's had an offer on various varieties of tinned beans at 4 tins for £1 instead of 38p a can, but not all types were included in the offer. Red kidney beans were, white kidney beans were, apparently (although the same brand and on the same shelf) chickpeas were not. So having presented 2 tins of red kidney beans, one of white and one of chickpeas at the till and discovering that the discount had not been applied, the queue (well, the one person waiting behind me) had to wait while the checkout girl called the supervisor who then kindly swapped the chickpeas for a second can of white beans so I could meet the requirements of the offer. 

Of course, if they'd made the offer clearer on the shelf (or if I'd taken the time to read it more carefully!) the problem might not have arisen. In my defence, I did pack the remaining shopping away while the supervisor exchanged the chickpeas and I did have the correct money ready so the transaction was completed quickly after that. And I did also apologise to the person behind me. But maybe I shouldn't judge others so quickly in future...definitely a fault of mine.

Other than that little drama, there's not much to tell today. DH and I walked very quickly into town for coffee...it was freezing cold and threatening snow all day long but it never fell. This afternoon I've been finishing the knitting on a little baby jumper for charity, and I've just started on a strip of striped garter stitch knitting to make up a blanket. I've joined the Woollies for the World Facebook group after seeing an article in this week's Woman's Weekly magazine. I have quite a few jumpers and hats that I've knitted over the last year intending to send them to a charity but I've never gotten around to it so now they'll go off to Pam in Rhyl. 

The group also has a website here - http://woolliesfortheworld.wixsite.com/home

Dinner tonight was the pie I made yesterday. A yellow-sticker pack of puff pastry - 38p, 250g sausagemeat - 99p, a couple of tablespoons of spicy apple chutney - 20p, a little stuffing leftover from Xmas - 0p, served with 1/2 bag of Aldi fresh carrots - 23p, 1/2 bag of Aldi frozen peas - 35p, mashed potatoes made with 1/2 of a 2.5kg bag Aldi baking potatoes - 68p and a little milk and butter - 10p, plus gravy made from granules - approx 10p. A yummy filling dinner for £3.03 or 76p per person for 4 servings.  

DH is on half term holiday this week so I secretly whipped up a quick Valentine's Day card for him while he was at church this morning. We haven't planned anything because we expected to move house tomorrow and we'd hoped to be too busy settling in to celebrate the day. Instead of going out on the day I'll probably cook up something nice for dinner and then we might go to Deal at the end of the week and have a cream tea in the lovely little vintage tearooms.  

That's all for tonight. I hope you had a good weekend. Love, Helen xx  


Saturday, 11 February 2017

Still Waiting.

I'm not a patient person. You'll often find me muttering away under my breath (or sometimes a little too loudly for DH's comfort) when someone is holding up the queue at the checkout. A pet peeve is when someone has been waiting for ages to be served and then holds everyone else up while they get their money (or debit card) out of their purse. Why on earth didn't they get it sorted whilst they were waiting? Surely, as I try to do, they had time to work out an approximation of what their goods cost and have their payment ready so they don't hold up the rest of us. 

Anyway, with my lack of the virtue of patience, I am finding this whole house selling/buying thing bloody frustrating. We are still waiting on our buyer to come up with the money. He's the one we were assured had no problems with finance at the very beginning of this process, so why are we and our sellers and their sellers all ready with our contracts sitting signed and dated with our respective solicitors while he's still awaiting his building society's decision? 

Grrrrrr! 

We should have been packing up the last of our stuff this weekend ready to move on Monday, instead we still have no idea whether the deal will actually go through at all or whether we're going to have to start all over again.

Anyway, as much as I feel like throwing in the towel and staying put (although I really, really don't want to stay here), we're being proactive and have a viewer coming round on Wednesday afternoon...just in case our buyer doesn't get his money sorted, but also to give him a kick up the bum and let him know we're not going to just sit and wait for him forever. If this viewer was to offer cash (or substantially more than our buyer is paying) then we might very well be tempted to accept. The person due to view last Wednesday cancelled, so we'll have to see if this one even turns up.

On another topic, I had a wonderful time with my old school friend and two hours in the coffee shop flew by. Some reminiscing was done about school days, but a lot of the time was spent catching up on our lives since school. Funnily enough, although we've gone in completely opposite directions, we still had quite a lot in common. She's never married, made a career out of nursing and, apart from 10 years spent working in London, has lived in her childhood home with her parents who have now both passed away. Whereas I went from job to job before having kids, marrying and going on to have a large brood and not working for over 30 years. Even so we both have collected teddy bears (she still does but I sold my collection a few years ago), we still like to write fiction as we did at school, like me she's never learned to drive and for similar reasons (hate being in traffic and both feel we would do better learning to drive the car on waste ground before ever going on the road) and we both enjoy coach holidays. She admitted to also being nervous about the meeting and wondering whether we'd find enough to chat about, but in the end that was no problem. We've both agreed to do it again, maybe once a month and hopefully get together with a few other friends who she keeps in touch with. 

I also went to my craft club on Thursday morning and there were a lot more people there so it was a lively gathering. Like me most people are knitting for various charities. I took along a pile of knitting magazines that I'd sorted out and they were pounced on by the ladies.

So, although I didn't make any actual new years resolutions, my determination to make this year the year I got out more and joined more things is well on track, only being put on hold last week when I was ill. I'm all better now, and so is DH after having three days off work with the same bug. He seems to have kicked it a lot faster than I did though. 

I've been making more dinners with leftovers today. There were some chicken legs and wings, a few slices of pork and a little stuffing in the freezer left from Christmas. I used the chicken, half a jar of Chicken Supreme sauce from the fridge, a splash of white wine, an onion, some frozen sliced mushrooms and a few frozen peas to make a chicken supreme with rice for dinner today. I chopped up the pork and combined it in the slow cooker with carrots, onions, celery, a tin of mixed beans, some roast parsnips left from Xmas, a couple of stock cubes, pepper and thyme to make a casserole for Monday. The stuffing was mixed in with 250g sausage meat leftover from the roast I did earlier in the week. It was packed into a puff pastry crust, spread with some spiced apple chutney and topped with more pastry to make a pie for tomorrow. There was also a bit of pastry left so I rolled it thinly, cut into 4, spread each piece with jam and made into turnovers with a little granulated sugar sprinkled on top. My freezer is definitely looking empty these days, but even so there's at least a week's worth of dinners in there.

Have you had snow? We've had a spattering but nothing that's settled; it's mostly just been cold, damp and depressing. We might have a bit more tomorrow, but it's more likely to rain. I'm fed up with winter now, can we move in to spring please? Shouldn't wish time to pass too quickly, should I?

That's all for now folks. Sorry about the moaning. Enjoy  the remainder of your weekend. Love, Helen xx


Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Eating From The Freezer

Back to slimming club this week and I'd lost 1lb, probably because I had no appetite for most of last week. A good job too since I hardly left the house for several days so no walking done. Mind you, I've likely regained it tonight thanks to a full roast dinner followed by cheesecake brownies and cream courtesy of DS2. It was extremely unhealthy especially as my senile old brain forgot to remind me to cook extra veg to go with it. We had roast potatoes and parsnips but I forgot the green beans and carrots until I'd already started serving up. DD2 didn't mind, he's not a fan of veg, and there was plenty to eat without them but it was even less healthy than it should have been.

I'm really getting the freezer cleared now that I've used the chicken and most of the sausage meat and sliced bacon. I've also slow cooked a small gammon joint to have tomorrow with chips and beans and on Thursday with crusty rolls and pickles. The remains of the chicken will make another meal on Friday. There's very little left in there now to make a main meal so I'll have to buy things day by day until we finally move. 

And on the subject of the move, our buyer's application for a buy-to-let mortgage has been refused, but he's managed to talk the surveyor and building society into looking at his application again so we're awaiting the result of that. If it's still refused he wants us to wait until he's sold another property he owns so he can pay cash. That could take weeks or even months so we're not prepared to do that and we'll re-market our house instead. In fact, we have a cash buyer viewing tomorrow just in case. The good news is our buyer's solicitor has his search report back and there are no problems, so if his mortgage is approved then the process could still move fairly quickly and if a miracle happens the move could still possibly go ahead at the very end of next week. We're keeping our sellers up to date and have said that we'll quite understand if they want to try and find another buyer, but we really still want to buy if they are prepared to wait. Of course, that depends on whether their seller is also prepared to wait for them. 

To tell the truth I'm sick of the whole thing and at the moment I'm just trying to forget all about it and let things take their course. As much as we want to move from here at least we have a roof over our heads and the longer we're here the more we're paying off our current mortgage.

Tomorrow morning I'm meeting up with my old grammar school friend. I'm worried we won't find anything to talk about after not seeing each other for over 40 years. I've found an old black and white photo of our tutor group taken after we'd completed an 8 mile sponsored walk over the cliffs from Dover to Deal. I think we were in the 4th form, so about 14-15 years old, and it would have been around 1972. I was trying to put names to faces and managed about half the group. Hopefully my friend might know some more and it will give us something to chat about.

That's all for tonight. I'm tired out and will be in bed before long. Have a good evening, love Helen xx


Sunday, 5 February 2017

All Germy!

A by-product of socialising more is being exposed to more germs. I've only been to my new craft club twice and I caught a horrible cold that's had me stuck indoors for nearly a week so I missed my slimming and craft clubs this week. 

I've still got a rough throat, a grumbly chest and lots of mucus. I didn't leave the house at all for 2 days, only popped round the corner to Aldi on a couple of other days and managed a trip there and back to town twice because I was going stir crazy. Today was the first day I really got out for longer than half an hour. We had to go to Argos to collect a new paper shredder; our old one finally gave up the ghost under the onslaught of documents we've been shredding...why on Earth did I think I needed to save bills from 10 years ago, and insurance documents for policies we haven't had since we moved here in 1999? We have honestly shredded sack loads of paperwork. 

DH now also has the cold I kindly passed on to him but isn't quite as bad as I've been, so in between more decluttering and on the way to collecting the shredder we popped into Wetherspoons for breakfast. It was nice to sit down away from the mess of bags, sacks and bits and pieces all over the place, and have a good natter. 

We're doing extremely well with sorting out though, even though we still don't have a moving date and the week we'd hoped to move is looking less likely as our buyer is being a pain in the proverbial. 

He offered on our house weeks before we found the place we're buying and we accepted his offer because, despite receiving several offers around the same price, we were assured he had his finances in order. He's holding things up because his searches aren't back due to his solicitor using an agency to apply for them, whereas our solicitor and our seller's solicitor applied personally. In addition, it turns out he needs a small mortgage because, as a developer, if he buys totally by cash the money laundering laws means he can't then purchase another property for 6 months. Of course, his building society now have a backlog of applications so we've only had their surveyor round on Thursday for his valuation survey.

I want to know why he didn't apply for all this within days of us accepting his offer. Both ourselves and our sellers came to the process several weeks later and yet we're all ready to go, our sale and purchase contracts have all been signed and are waiting with our solicitors to exchange. If we can't complete and move during the week beginning 13th Feb (half term week) it will be difficult for both us and our sellers as we both have teachers in the family. 

Anyway, in the meantime, DH and I are still planning as if we're moving that week. We're working towards getting everything out of the house this week that we won't be taking with us to the new house by either donating, recycling or ditching it. The boys are taking a lot of it to the hospice charity shop around the corner and DD3 will come over again on Saturday to take the masses of paper to the recycling centre, and the bags of rubbish to the tip. 

I'm doing well at reducing the contents of the freezer and have made a casserole tonight using leftover Xmas chicken and gammon and a pack of stew veg. I have a whole chicken and some sausagemeat, and there's also half a bag of frozen roast parsnips so we'll have a roast during this week. I also have a small gammon joint that I'll cook in the slow cooker. It will make a meal with chips and beans, and any leftovers will do for sandwiches. I've packed away some of my kitchen equipment including my soup maker so soup is off the menu for a couple of weeks unless I make it the old fashioned way. 

That's all folks. I've been up since 7am, started clearing and cleaning almost immediately and have probably put in 10 hours graft including making dinner and a microwave jam pud, and doing a load of laundry. Considering I'm still not 100% healthwise I've done well, but now I'm cream-crackered and off to bed shortly. 

Hope you've had a good weekend. Enjoy the remainder of your evening. Love Helen xx



Friday, 27 January 2017

Decluttering and Socialising

I've been busy decluttering most of the day, I'm a natural born hoarder when it comes to books, craft magazines and crafting materials. Somehow I'm managing to cast aside about 2/3 of the stuff I've acquired over the years. There are some things, like my original WW2 women's magazines, knitting patterns and cookbooks that I refuse to part with. It was a real wrench to cull my other cookbooks but I realised that most of them only contained a couple of go-to recipes so I've copied the ones I can't do without. The books I've kept are ones I use time and again. I've also donated nearly all my craft magazines, again it's a case of looking through them once every few months thinking I'll make that one day and returning them to the shelf until next time...so they're going. There are so many patterns and projects online anyway, I don't think I'd have trouble finding something to meet my requirements whenever I get the urge for a certain project. Sorting through my card making, fabric and yarn supplies was more difficult. Fabric and yarn in particular can be expensive to purchase, and some of it is so pretty, but I have amassed a huge amount of stuff that I will likely never use so I've been tough and there's an impressive mound of bags ready to go along to the charity shop tomorrow when DD3 drives over.

I got so busy I hardly had time to eat all day and forgot I hadn't planned anything for dinner. At 5 pm, an hour before we eat, I found myself standing in the kitchen with the following on the worktop in front of me - 


Leftover haggis, leftover tatties and neeps, leftover peas, leftover cooked bacon. I had the brainwave to make a haggis meatloaf using some sage and onion stuffing mix, but there was no stuffing on the shelf. Another brainwave saw me grabbing a sachet of vegetarian sausage mix. The sausage mix was combined with water and a couple of beaten eggs. The bacon was cut up small and mixed into it along with the mushed up haggis, the mash, peas and swede and it was turned into a greased tin and baked at the top of the oven along with a tray of hash browns from the freezer. 





Served with leftover cowboy beans from yesterday, it was delicious. Just shows, after all these years I can throw together something edible from almost anything, and nothing gets wasted in this house if I can help it.

Talking of DD3 I'd planned a full day for me, DH and the boys to spend decluttering but she phoned yesterday and wants us to put together the wedding invitations tomorrow. Luckily, having sorted through the card making supplies today, I know exactly where all my bits and bobs are and that I have enough double-sided tape for the hundred or so invites she and BF are sending out. In return for my help she and BF are taking the bags of books and craft supplies to the charity shop, and some bags of junk up to the tip. 

We're hopefully still on track to move in the middle of February. We've signed and returned the sale contracts for our house, and now have in our possession the purchase contracts for the new house. This evening I've taken out an insurance policy on the new house to satisfy the terms of the mortgage, and on Monday I'll return the purchase contracts, the stamp duty contract and the insurance details to the solicitor. Then hold my breath for exchange of contracts in about a week and completion date in the week starting 13th Feb. I can't wait. I'm so ready to get moved in. 

I went to the craft club again yesterday morning. I'm knitting hats for charity at the moment; double rib so they're nice and stretchy and easy to knit while chatting. There were more ladies this week and one of them I knew from when I went to Weight Watchers years ago. There's also a Chinese lady who goes. She only lives a few doors down from me but I've only ever said 'good morning' to her before, so it's nice to get to know a bit more about her. As it's Chinese New Year this weekend she brought in some sweets for us to share.

In addition to socialising at the craft club, my old school friend has messaged me via Facebook and we're hoping to meet for a coffee next week. We bumped into each other again a few days ago; after 45 years not seeing each other we've now bumped into each other in town 4 times in the past few weeks, so we've both agreed it must be fate and time we actually made plans to meet up. 

I must admit to being nervous, wondering if there's anything we could have in common after all these years, even though we were best friends at grammar school. She's unmarried but trained to be a nurse in London and was a ward sister for years and I feel she's done so much more with her life than I have as a stay at home mum for thirty odd years, and especially over the past few years with my depression and anxiety meaning I've pretty much isolated myself. 

What I try to tell myself lately though is that I have to start taking chances or nothing will change. Just moving is an enormous thing for us after 17 years in this house. Who would have believed that 3 months ago we'd just walk into the estate agents asking for a quote and set all this in motion. So, I am starting to get some kind of life back. 

I think that's all for tonight. I'm off to bed soon...3 hours sleep last night thanks to DH's snoring. I'm hoping for a better night tonight. Sleep well everyone, love Helen xx

Monday, 23 January 2017

Time Flying By

Has a whole week really passed since I last posted? And are we really in the last week of January 2017 already? With all that's happening this year I can see time flying by at an incredible speed.

On the house front, we've had the contracts though for the sale of our place. We took them to the church yesterday and one of the pastors witnessed our signatures. I'll send them to the solicitor as soon as I've heard back from him with a couple of queries I emailed. We're pushing for a completion date during the week starting 13th Feb because both DH and the owner of the house we're buying will be off for half term holidays. 

I can't wait to move. DD3's fiance (BF) will help us on the day; we're hiring a van and doing it ourselves since we're leaving a lot of the big items behind such as a sofa, cooker, fridge, chest freezer etc. We're only taking one sofa which is sectional so easy to move, and the beds and dining table can be taken apart. We don't have any wardrobes as all the bedrooms here and at the new house have built in closets, and the only biggish item that won't dismantle is the dresser in the living room. In return for his help, we're giving BF and DD3 our washer/drier that's only a year old, as there's a built-in one at the new house, and we'll treat them to a meal out.

I took a huge step forward (well, for me it was huge) last Thursday and I joined a craft club that meets at the church hall just around the corner from us. I've been thinking about it for over a year but couldn't overcome my anxiety enough to walk in to a room full of strangers. But last Thursday I put my big girl knickers on and went...and it was fine. I chatted a bit, got quite a lot of knitting done on one of the hats I'm making for the homeless shelter, had a cup of tea and will be going back this week. Also, on Tuesday, I went for coffee with a couple of ladies from my slimming club and we had a good old natter which there isn't always time for during the meeting. If nothing else it gets me out of the house and into a different environment for a couple of hours and, who knows, I might even make a friend or two. 

Tomorrow is slimming club again. I managed to maintain my weight last week but won't be surprised to have a gain this week. We've been out to lunch twice this week and both times I had something with chips, and on Saturday I also had spotted dick and custard for afters. Yummy but not particularly good for my waistline.

That's it for tonight, I think. Enjoy your evening. Love, Helen xx