It’s all in your head

I have to offer my most grateful thanks to those who have left comments recently. I can’t tell you how much you have boosted my spirits. It was nice to be reminded that I’m not a big failure after all.

I have many challenges in my life, both academic and personal. But I am starting to realise that I also have many tools to tackle these challenges and overcome them. The most powerful tool I have is my mind.

It’s easy to say “mind over matter”, but when the matter seems daunting, it can be hard to remember. However, a little self-belief can go an awful long way. As soon as I decided that I was perfectly capable of finishing my assignments, the words started to flow. I thought I was a writer and that’s what I became. I am inching ever closer to my word count. It’s easier to put pen to paper now that the mental blockade has vanished.

The same is true on the domestic front too. Instead of worrying about the cost of the next food shop, I took a step back to survey what I already had. I told myself I was perfectly capable of making do with what I’ve got. I’ve made a veggie curry today, and there are plenty of vegetables left over. So I’ll avoid the supermarket for now and save my coins for another day.

It feels good to be in charge and in control. By reassuring myself that I am perfectly capable, I seem to be getting more done. Try it, or let me know what works for you when you’re suffering with a cloudy mind.

Breaking News

I’m a little bit busy. Hardly ground breaking stuff, but it’s true. This time of year is always frantic, with birthdays, looming deadlines and preparation for Christmas in full swing. I thought I’d so a small round up post today, then resume normal posting asap.

– I’m no longer partaking in the One Pound Per Day challenge. I lasted ten days. I liked walking to the shops each day and seeing what bargains I could find. I didn’t like not being able to pick up food whenever I needed to when I was on the go.

– I’m back to spending as little as possible. I had a couple of last weeks where I opened my purse far too often. I’ve got to re-learn my limits and re-establish my budget.

– I spend most of my days at the moment writing. I’m already looking forward to when it will all be over.

– The chap is taking me out for dinner tonight, which makes me very happy indeed.

– I’ve loved reading all the tips that are popping up on all kinds of blogs. Tips on Christmas, and non-Christmas related things too. I am storing them for future use, possibly January when I have no money!

– Speaking of January, I managed to secure my first work experience placement. I cannot tell you how pleased I am about that!

I hope you’re all having a lovely week. Comprehensive posts to return shortly.

They think it’s all over.

Some of the more eagle-eyed amongst you might have noticed a distinct lack of posting on my blog yesterday. Yes, after 20 days of consecutive blogging, the NaBloPoMo challenge finally beat me. I was sorely tempted to keep going, pretending my faux pas never even happened, but I would only be cheating myself. I’ve never taken part in a blogging challenge before, and it was fun to come up with ideas for posts every day. I plan on surpassing 20 days next November. But for now, normal blogging service will resume; Monday OPPD post, Wednesday post and Friday post. Not every Friday post will be about Frugal Fridays, only when I’ve got something truly frugal to write about!

As for today, I have unleashed my inner Christmas fairy. I cracked open (not literally) my piggy bank last week, and I’ve saved £22 in pound coins in about seven months. It’s not an incredible amount, but it is certainly enough for a fair few gifts. I have spent £8 of that on chocolate gifts this morning, making the most of the offers at Sainsbury’s.

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I have £14 remaining to buy stamps, pay for postage and buy a few smaller gifts to go alongside my homemade items 🙂 Let the festivities commence!

Crossing the bridge

Forgive me for the self-indulgent post I published yesterday. I do realise I am in a very fortunate position and realistically, I don’t have much to grumble about. But sometimes factors in life do build up and become overwhelming. I feel better that I addressed them, contained them within a blog post and now I can move past them.

One of my favourite mottos is “little and often” and it applies to most areas in life. You’ve got lots of cleaning to do; just start with one room. You have five books to read in a fortnight; start with the largest one and work your way down. You have three assignments due; write little and often each day. I like to remind myself of this whenever I feel daunted by the bigger picture. It’s a helpful tool for me to keep moving forwards.

I went to a talk by Sarah Lean last night, a masters graduate from University of Winchester who is now a published author. She was very easy to listen to and I felt pleased that many things she spoke about, I was already aware of. But also, she confirmed for me what I’ve been learning throughout this year. Writing is less about one spark of talent. It’s about the effort and graft you put in day after day to create a text that is edited, rewritten and revisited hundreds of times. That’s what writing and authors are about in this day and age. I find that to be a real comfort, that you get out what you put in. It ties in nicely with another favourite motto of mine; hard work reaps rewards.

Am I Superwoman?

I’m trying to complete a degree to the best possible standard I can. I have three assignments due in at the end of term, as well as the continuation of the final year project. The three assignments consists of a 2,500 word non-fiction for children narrative, a 3,000 word opening for a children’s fiction story and a 2,500 word short story. When you factor in bibliography, various appendix elements and accompanying synopsis, the grand total reaches over 10,000 words. Over ten thousand words in just over three weeks.

Fine perhaps, if there was nothing else vying for attention. But there are still lectures and extra-curricular discussions to attend. Not forgetting work shop sessions with course mates to discuss stories. I strive to check in with my family also, calling up my sister or writing a letter to my grandmother. I make a vague attempt at a social life with a rare meal out, or having a friend over for a cup of tea. I feel compelled to supply the kind demand for my company.

And Christmas is on the horizon don’t you know. There are presents to buy and wrap. Some take priority, as fellow students will soon be returning home for the holidays. So the home made gifts have to be ready far sooner than the 25th. The chap is celebrating his twentieth birthday next month too, which consists of more presents, more travel, more memories made. Time spent with him is precious.

I have two blogs to regularly update, plus various correspondents with email to engage with. They serve as an outlet of enjoyment, but also a chance to practice my writing. I also have my domestic duties to keep up with. I have to source my food, that has to be on budget, gluten-free and vaguely healthy to maintain the body that society of today expects of me. The cooking of the dishes takes up time, and then there’s the washing up. There is always washing up, just as there is always a pile of laundry in the corner.

On top of all this, I still have to find the effort to wash and clothe myself each morning. A course-mate said to me yesterday: “you always dress so well Rebecca.” I cannot tell you how much her compliment meant to me. For if I look cool, calm and collected on the outside, that means the paradox within is thankfully concealed. The mask is firmly in place, now where can I get a cape?

OPPD Update #1

Saturday 16th – Monday 18th November

Saturday

Starting money: £1 Spent: 52p (milk) Finishing money: 48p

Sunday

Starting money: £1.48 Spent: £1.20 (1xcarrot, 3xapples, 1xsweet potato) Finishing money: 28p

Monday

Starting money: £1.28 Spent: 80p (snickers bar) Finishing money: 48p

I’ve made a good start on this challenge, but this is aided by still having the cupboards relatively full. I have been using up leftover meals in the freezer, as well as a few remaining ingredients I had from before the challenge. As I still have healthy looking stock, I didn’t feel too bad about buying a chocolate bar today, but I can’t do that too often if I’m going to sustain this.

It was interesting at the supermarket on Sunday. I was looking at the prices of various things and thinking “That’s two and a half days meals just for one thing!” It really does make you consider relative cost.

So far, so good!

Dear Mrs Last

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I finished reading the collection of your diary entries last night. When I finally closed the book, I had one of those pauses, where you lay silently and absorb everything you have just read. Mrs Last, I salute you.

I can admit now that at times, your constant fretting irritated me. But this is coming from a reader with no prior experience of war. Once your situation truly sunk in, two world wars within your lifetime, I could appreciate why you were always so anxious. Of course, I was also reading with the gift of hindsight. When you were writing to Mass Observation, you have no idea about the eventual outcome.

The pages of your book made me laugh and cry in equal measure. I was delighted with the cookery advice you share and the meals you made for your family. But most importantly, you made me think. Some of the social concepts you noted in your diary were yet to be named, but you were still fully aware of them. I cheered when you recognised when you finally acknowledge that you were not your husband’s slave! I think you would be an extremely engaging person to talk to and you have earned your seat at my fantasy dinner party, alongside Buddy Holly and Enid Blyton.

Thank you Mrs Last. Thank you for providing a human reaction to the era I have studied. You have helped me to understand the reasoning for attitudes at the time. You endured so much and I for one am glad to see your legacy in print.

Regards,

Rebecca

One pound coin

I’m sure a few of you probably saw this coming. In my everlasting goal to save money, I’m going to take up the one pound per day challenge. I have seen variations across the blogosphere (Thrifty Lesley and One Pound Per Day, to name a couple) and have been truly inspired. I like the structure that comes along with this form of spending.

I have thought of a way to tailor this challenge to suit me personally. I will have £1 to spend each day that will go in my purse that morning. Any change left over can be carried across to the next day, but I cannot “borrow” from the future. I will accept free food, because I always have done! But I will not use the challenge to take advantage of generosity.

The £1 budget will include:

All food.

All drink.

All non-essential items.

All entertainment.

The £1 budget will not include:

Travel expenses to see the Chap or my family.

Medicine, if I ever need it.

Occasional nights out with friends/Chap (still keeping to a low budget though!)

Essential toiletries.

I plan on using every inch of my store cupboard. I think it will really teach me the value of the stock I’ve built up over time. I’m looking forward to testing my creative cooking skills. I think this particular challenge will work better than previous rationing challenges, because I can buy what I want, as long as I’m within budget. I think this will help me sustain the challenge, instead of feeling deprived. We shall have to wait and see.

I decided to start the challenge immediately, so I would have no chance to fill the shelves, consciously or unconsciously. After the November NaBloPoMo is up, I shall update my progress on this challenge every Monday. My motivation for attempting this challenge is to save money for my future. I’m more than willing to have a lean year, so that I can stand on my own two feet when I leave the sanctuary of University. I think it’s a goal worth fighting for.

So far today, I have spent 52p on 500ml of semi-skimmed milk. At least then, no matter what happens with actual food, I can always have a nice cup of tea.

Frugal Fridays #16

Today’s post is all about making the most of what you have. This mantra is high on the list of commandments for thrifty people. I personally think it’s very humbling and rewarding to make something out of very little. I thought I’d list some prompts that might spark off your own venture into a more frugal lifestyle.

1) Use your skills.

Money is tight for me right now, there’s no avoiding that. But I would never back away from celebrating Christmas. Hence, I am making a lot of my Christmas gifts this year. I may not be able to whip up some jam, but I’m not too shabby when it comes to sewing. A lot of the people I give present too are female, so I know my handmade items will be appreciated.

2) Go searching for buried treasure.

How often have you been rooting around in the back of your cupboard and have stumbled upon an ingredient you forgot you owned? I’ve done it, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. After reading One Pound Per Day, I feel like a lady of the manor with my collections of herbs, spices and flavourings. I’m going to avoid the shops for a while to concentrate on making meals out of my stock.

3) Make your own entertainment.

I had forgotten what it is like to be totally engrossed in reading. I used to be an avid reader as a child, getting through three books a week, no problem. My interest waned when I was forced to read in school, but my passion for books is blossoming once more. I have plenty on my bookshelves that are, as of yet, unread. There is a wealth of free material in libraries, online or amongst your friends. It’s up to you to make the most of it.

I do hope my tips have given you some things to consider. I’m not a frugal lifestyle guru, I can’t even get my own life in order just yet. But I thought I would still share a few things I’ve learnt so far. Please feel free to share how you make the most of what you have.

Classic, with a twist.

I adore the cuisine that comes along with winter. The change in the temperature has stirred a shift in my kitchen. I love hearty stews that fill the whole house with scent. Or cradling a hot bowl of porridge in the morning, topped with sweet-spiced apple sauce – delicious! Up near the top on my list of cold weather food has got to be cottage pie. I’m a big believer in mashed potato for this time of year (read: all the time throughout the year).

My version is piggy pie; pork mince being the twist in the tale. This is a recipe I often return to, and I had just the right ingredients that needed using up. I made the base layer as you do, adding a little of this and a bit of that.

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The topping was mashed sweet potato, as that is what I had in the cupboard. It doesn’t need milk and butter in the same way you would treat regular potato, it is better without the additions. I added a little grated cheddar on top, and a couple of slices of tomatoes I saved from lunch time.

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I may not see eye to eye with Frugal Queen regarding Christmas, but she has hit the nail on the head with portion size. I have known to be a terrible glutton on occasions. But half of this dish, served with a generous amount of peas and spinach, was a lovely meal for me. Besides, the brownie I enjoyed later on filled any remaining gaps. I find home cooking fills the heart as well as the stomach, particularly this time of year (read: yes, I mean all the time).