Monday, 30 November 2015

Home made bath salts

I hadn't realised just how easy these are to make, but really I was pleasantly surprised and now I know, I will experiment with other 'flavours'. I have begun with lavender as I had dried lavender from the garden and lavender essential oil, so it seemed like a good starting point!

Mix 300g of citric acid (available online) with 150g of cornflour and 450g of bicarbonate of soda in a large plastic or glass bowl. Spritz this with water mixed with about 20 drops of the essential oil and stir together with a wooden spoon. When it becomes a dry, fine rubble, stir in the dried lavender. Decant into clean pretty jars and decorate with ribbon and add labels. They would look great with old fashioned teaspoons or little wooden scoops tied on, but I don't have any. This amount of ingredients filled these three jars, although as the ingredients interact with one another, the contents shrink down somewhat.

I have some bath bombe moulds from a previous kit, but I fancied the idea of the pots of bath salts (and it's a lot less faff!). You could also decant the salts into pretty muslin bags which can be tied under the tap to provide a soapy, sweet smelling addition as you run the bath.

Mr D and I have completed all the present shopping this weekend. We have Christmas and two children's Birthdays (in December and January) pretty much wrapped up (figuratively speaking at this stage). We were like a swat team descending on the shops armed with list, bags and a clear plan of action. Saturday morning saw us pretty much finished, but we had just a few items left, so they were dealt with on the Sunday along with the month's toiletry/cleaning shopping from Home Bargains (all bought for under £20); another upcoming Birthday present and the week's food shop. We were back home by 12.45 having left at 11. Neither of us like shopping at the best of times, but tackling it head on certainly made it more bearable! I also feel that not having any time to browse, helps keep the cost down too!

Of course many of my presents are home made, but I can't imagine ever being in a position to only give home made gifts at Christmas, so there will always be shopping to be done. I can now concentrate on the food element of Christmas - something which I find much more appealing!!

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Sausage plait

The cold weather makes me long for comfort food and anything with pastry counts as far as I'm concerned! I used to make sausage plait quite regularly and serve it with hot veg, peas and sweetcorn, baked beans or salad. Obviously it is neither GF or vegan!

Served here with a mixed green salad, new potato salad and homemade coleslaw.

I use ready made pastry, but feel free to make your own shortcrust. You could also use flaky pastry I guess. I roll it out to a wide rectangle.
The filling is made up of sausagemeat mixed with a combination of herbs and other flavours. I used small chunks of apple (from my stock in the deepfreeze), half a red onion finely chopped, fresh sage and thyme from the garden and approximately 2 tablespoons of my green tomato chutney from last year. Add salt and pepper if you choose. Mix well until thoroughly combined.
Spread the filling down the centre of the pastry, which I have laid on a lightly greased baking sheet. Make horizontal slices along each empty side piece of pastry and then lay each thin section, alternating sides, across the middle to encase the filling. Stick down with a finger dipped in water. For a nice finish glaze with a beaten egg (as you can see I forgot!)
Cook in a hot oven - about 190c for approximately 35 to 40 minutes.

Before cooking. Please don't judge me on the state of my baking sheet. I know I need to invest in some new ones!! 

Serve in slices with a mixture of salads as I did, or your favourite veg. It's tasty cold the following day too. It certainly worked to warm me up on a chilly Sunday :)

Monday, 23 November 2015

The battle of the comb

Every day, at least once a day and sometimes twice, I pick up Mr D's comb from the top of the bathroom cabinet and put it back IN the bathroom cabinet on the top shelf, where it lives. It's a silent, unspoken (until now) battle! A battle, I suspect Mr D is totally unaware of. You have to wonder when he gets the comb out of the cupboard every time he needs to use it, if he actually thinks to himself "Ha ha, I'm going to wind her up and leave it on top of the cupboard, a full two inches away from where it should live" ...... I'm guessing that's not the case and really it's a matter of absentmindedness or possibly laziness, or maybe he actually thinks the comb lives on top of the cabinet?
The battle will no doubt continue on ad infinitum - just one of those things you come across when you share your living space with others. Nothing big, nothing important, just a daily reminder that I am lucky enough to be sharing my home with the lovely Mr D - even if he can't remember where his comb should live!!......
It's a similar battle to the one with the kids who leave things for the dishwasher next to the dishwasher rather than in it .......
I expect there will be many of you out there with experience of those mini power battles around the home?

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Breakfast muffins

I saw this natty little recipe on Facebook the other day, so we thought we'd give it a go.

Cut a circle of bread from a slice with a pastry cutter. I found I could get two circles from each slice. (The leftovers can either be made into breadcrumbs or given to the chucks as a treat). Place the circle in the bottom of a non stick muffin pan. If you like, sprinkle a little grated cheese on the bread. Place a rasher of cooked streaky bacon around the edge of each muffin hole to form a collar. I used smoked, but it's up to you. It does have to be streaky though, not normal bacon. Then crack an egg into the hole. Grind some salt and pepper on top and cook in the oven at 180c until the egg is lightly set. Finally, top with some shipped chives and serve.

Yummy, a bit different and quite a nice treat for breakfast.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Pyrograph craft

Last Christmas, I was given a pyrograph pen from Mum. Last Easter, whilst on holiday on the Gower, we picked up a small log from the farm where they had been chopping down hedging. Eight slices have been cut from the log, a hole has been drilled in the top of each for ribbon. In keeping with the natural look of the log slices, I have chosen to do a fir/snowflake type of design, drawn freehand with the pen.
It's actually a really easy thing to do. The pen came with loads of different tips, which I will have to play around with.
I'm quite pleased with the results and of course (apart from the cost of the pen which was a gift) completely free! I'm now on the look out for another suitable log to make some more.

I have an ironing mat which is heatproof, so I laid that underneath as a precaution. The pen did get quite hot to hold after doing about 4 slices. 

I can't quite decide on which ribbon to use. The ideal ribbon would be those bits you get on clothes to help hang them with, but I must have used them up. 

On a completely different note, Mr D cooked a fantastic roast chicken dinner for our guests on Saturday night, so I boiled up the carcass to make stock and pick over the bones for dinners for jet.
Every morning I invite Jet out to help me with the chickens. He seems to really like sniffing their feathery bottoms ...... They don't seem to mind either. But I had to laugh yesterday when I asked him if he wanted his chicken dinner - he got sooooo excited - I could possibly be giving him mixed messages?!! 

Tuesday, 17 November 2015


This is my airing cupboard ceiling ......

Yesterday I was cleaning downstairs and heard a noise. Had no idea what it was, went upstairs to investigate, only to find that a large chunk of the airing cupboard ceiling had collapsed into the cupboard. Bum, bum, bum!
As you can see, it's lathe and plaster so will be a nightmare to deal with. They are so fragile and so filthy - 85 years of dust and filth up there just waiting to collapse further.

On the plus side, I had already put away all the clean washing from in there earlier that morning.

I can feel a trip through YouTube videos entitled "Repairing a lathe and plaster ceiling" coming on!

I'm beginning to think someone's got it in for me! 😁

Monday, 16 November 2015

Poor boy!

He could be one of the Bratpack? 

We had a meeting with the vet on Saturday to talk through the results. Jet has dysplasia in both of his elbows, but in the right on, part of the bone has broken off. He will have to have an operation on both elbows, six months apart, starting with the right one. In the right side, the orthopaedic surgeon will place metal plates to realign the joint so the stress is better distributed across the three bones in his elbow. It will be a six week recovery period where Jet will have to be in one room, only being allowed into the garden on a lead to do the necessary. The vet talked about a cage, but psychologically that wouldn't work do any of us and we don't have a cage or the room to put one.

Sporting the country gent look, complete with teddy...Brideshead Revisited?

The vet said he must be in constant pain, but not once does he ever complain or snap. He really is an absolute treasure :)
The financial aspect of this is a bit scary as we have already spent nearly £1000 on the scans and the operation on his right elbow alone is being quoted as £3000. The insurance covers £3000 per condition. We will try to persuade them to cover each elbow separately (my motto is "Don't ask, don't get") but I suspect we will have to pay the extra thousands. Still if it means he can walk comfortably and get back to enjoying his walks then it's worth every penny.
Mr D and I are still suffering with our necks. I have physio this week and him next week. We have emptied the car ready for them to take it away as we are very unlikely to see it again. Obviously all of this will leave us out of pocket because we will end up having to buy a new (to us) car which will cost more than the present value of the ruined car. How blinking irritating! We will definitely push for the most money we can get for the car from the insurers - we have paid in enough over the years!
I had the steroid injection in my foot last week, so I'm hoping that I will fall in the 70% for whom it brings complete relief from the plantar fasciitis. It's not as painful as it was, partly due to the silly priced shoes I bought.
We had some friends stay over at the weekend with three small children all under 4. I can honestly say that I have no idea how they cope. They're not even particularly difficult children, but it's constant and the lack of sleep would finish me off. These days I'd have to be going to bed at 7.30 when they did, just to survive! Fortunately I am hoping those days are long behind me and I have a way to go before grandchildren......

Even Jet was done in by the end of the visit :) 

I have to say, I'm feeling a little jaded around the edges just at the moment. I might need some music to get me going this morning.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Bunch of old crocks

I try very hard not to moan, but sometimes I can't help it!
I bloody ache :(  My heel is still suffering so I'm going to have to have an injection in it despite spending stupid money on supportive shoes, doing various exercises and taking strong anti-inflammatories - it all certainly helps, but doesn't totally alleviate - and my neck, shoulders and back all ache from the accident on Saturday. My elbow has tendonitis in it from a moment of stupidity many tears ago lifting an overly heavy object into the loft.  I feel OLD!
Mr D has had to have an injection in his shoulder as he tore the tendon in there and his neck and shoulders ache too from the accident. He is on the same anti-inflammatories. He also carries multiple other old sports injuries from years gone by and has arthritis in both ankle and shoulder joint.
Jet will have to have an operation on his elbow and is limping ......

We are officially a bunch of old crocks. Funny really, neither Mr D nor I have ever had a lot of time off work - Mr D in particular has probably had about 5 days in 25 years off sick, but our bodies are feeling our age at the moment. Perhaps it's the weather?

The doctor yesterday mentioned that my cholesterol was raised so I am quite determined to get myself right so I can do more exercise again. My diet is healthy already so I just need to tweak that here and there, but if I can sort my heel out, I'll be able to walk more regularly. As I am a lady about to hit that certain stage in life, I need to act now to help counteract the diminishing hormones which would otherwise help keep the cholesterol in check.

At least I have physio booked next week through the insurance which should help the neck.

All very tedious, but a timely reminder that we are not as young as we once were and that we can't take anything for granted!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Cousin Janet's squash

On our recent trip to the Isle of Wight, we popped over to visit my Uncle Donald, Auntie Joan and cousin Janet. We were chatting about the veg we had grown and Janet gave me two of her homegrown butternut squash - they are rather cute! Mine weren't successful at all. I'm not sure I've really got enough space.

The latest Waitrose magazine has some appealing recipes which I have been trying out this week. They are really good at having lots of really tasty vegetarian recipes in their seasonal magazines. Let's hope they improve their practice of dealing with excess produce!

The first recipe I tried was Mushroom and Butternut dhal with poached eggs. YUMMY! Very tasty indeed and one I would recommend. Not too spicy but bags of flavour.

It made nice leftovers the following day even though the eggs had all been eaten the night before.

The next one was the the Pumpkin, spinach and coconut biryani. I used one of Janet's butternut squash for this rather than the pumpkin in the recipe title. We served this with poppadums, yoghurt and mango chutney. This was even nicer and a great success with us all. It is of course GF and vegan too.

I'm also planning on trying out the Japanese-style shredded vegetable pancakes, omitting the pickled ginger as a side dish because I'm not keen on buying any extra specialist ingredients. I have a cupboard full of jars that I'm trying to use up with an eye to simplifying my store cupboard too. I have a lot of leftover ingredients from previous recipes.

We have had some delicious meals from these little magazines and the Waitrose website has some good ideas too.

I noticed this morning that the views counter has tipped over 100,000. How exciting! Thank you to everyone who pops by to have a read and to those who take the time to comment. I really appreciate it. :) x

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Oh bum!

On Saturday, Mr D and I were going about our business doing some errands. The weather was wet and windy but had calmed a little. We were chatting about this and that in the car and, having just pulled away from some temporary traffic lights, we were in a line of slow moving cars. All of a sudden, I heard the screech of breaks and tyres on wet road before an almighty crash as the car behind slammed into the back of us, shunting us into the car in front!

The rear bumper has been shoved so hard that these metal rods are now protruding through each side!

The boot doesn't shut very well

The side sections of the rear  bumper have been twisted

This is the rear of the car in front now! 

Our poor car looks very miserable indeed, both front and back are damaged and after describing the damage to our insurers, they feel the car may well be a right off. At least the chap behind is insured so it's all being processed now, but it wasn't a pleasant experience. Mr D had a very sore neck and my upper back was sore, but we took some ibuprofen and applied various heat pads and felt a bit better, if still stiff the following day. Mind you today I actually feel worse so I might get the doctor to check it over in my appointment tomorrow.  We will be offered massage or physio via the insurers if we need it. The poor chap in front had his elderly parents in the car with him and they looked rather shocked, but no one was seriously hurt. Mr D and I were relieved that we had just dropped our youngest back at home and that we didn't have Jet in the boot - he doesn't need any more psychological trauma!

It will be irritating if we have to find another car. We have three at the moment, having brought mum's car back and we had been planning on scrapping our big 7 seater as we don't really need it any more. We'd been keeping it to ferry stuff back from Mum's house as its like a van when you take the seats out. I love that car - very comfortable, great visibility and such a workhorse, BUT the gear stick is held together with parcel tape and the window trims are all falling off; it's covered in scratches and the glove compartment won't shut anymore, so hangs open like a permanently gaping mouth! I think we might have to keep the big car until it's MOT/insurance runs out and Mr D will have to use my Mum's car for getting to and fro from work. At least we have options, which many people might not.

Monday, 9 November 2015


Well, not quite. I'm not actually miserly and I dread the thought of being haunted by Christmasses past ( why is it that the Christmas 'holidays' often seem so fraught?!).

Mr D and I decided to take the various small change jars to Tesco to get them counted in their machine and exchanged for cash. HOWEVER, when I read the small print, it turns out they take 9.9p per £1 counted! What a rip off, so the jars were all brought home and we set about counting them out. It was quite fun actually and didn't take us quite as long as we had thought it would. We have separated it out into the correct coinage for the money bags and I now need to take it to the bank. It wasn't a bad stash, coming to over £60 across the various pots. It's an easy way to save really.

There are three piles for the three different people's change pots. Daughter number two who is now in America had over £40 in hers! 

Talking of saving, I have been inspired by Mrs Escape over at Our Escape (see side bar) to keep a more active record of our savings. At the end of every month, I transfer anything leftover into our savings account which is growing nicely, but I felt like I'd be inspired with a visual.
Presenting the savings thermometer :-

This is now stuck on the wall in the kitchen. 

I am able to start it off with a lump sum as the solicitor has released my expenditure from when Mum was ill. I had sent off the Power of Attorney to the Office of the Public Guardian to be able to use Mums money, but they sent the completed form back the day after she had died, some 9 weeks and multiple snotty phone calls after I had originally sent it to them!! They did at least have the grace to apologise and refund the £110. Still it now means a good starting point when I add that, a refund on her car tax and the money from the savings jar. We are also slowly working through selling some items on eBay and any monies from this will be added to the pot along with the usual 'endofthemonth' leftovers. I've planned a starting goal of £5,000 to see how we go.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Store cupboard soup

Tomato and lentil soup

This is a great little soup for when you don't have anything fresh in. As long as you can scrabble about and find an onion and hopefully a clove of garlic, the rest can be thrown together with goods from your store cupboard. It's based on another Cranks recipe.

1 large onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp mixed herbs (or fresh of course)
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tsp marmite
2 cupfuls of red lentils
Approx 1 pint of stock or water
Salt and pepper

Soften the onion and garlic in a little oil in a large pan.. Add the other ingredients and simmer. If the lentils soak up too much liquid add water or stock if you prefer. When the lentils are soft, serve the soup with a generous helping of grated cheddar. Obviously the cheese isn't obligatory, but it makes it into a meal so I always add it. Serve with crusty bread, preferably home made :)
This recipe serves 4 to 6.

Jet came home yesterday from his scans. Bless him, he was really quite out of it. Mr D had to lift him on to his settee so he could have cuddles with mummy! We now just need to wait for the results of the scans to see where we go next.

He seems to suffer from separation anxiety so he's very clingy this morning and crying every time we leave the room! Might be an excellent excuse for cuddling up and reading a book :) 

Thursday, 5 November 2015


Many many thanks for all of the feedback on the last two posts. It's very interesting and helpful to get insights from others who have made similar moves or who are considering their next move. I will of course keep you all up to date as we move forwards (hopefully) with our plans.

The lovely Jet has been limping a lot lately and the vet feels he probably has an issue with the bones in his elbow being malaligned, rubbing together and causing inflammation. I've got to take him to the local vets shortly and he will then be driven to their HQ in North London, put under a general and then have a series of X-Ray and scan images taken so they can better determine what's going on. He'll probably need an operation poor love. Fortunately the insurance covers up to £3000 and as the scans alone cost £1300, that will help enormously.
He's such a little trooper, never once complaining and is ALWAYS excited about walks even though recently, they've had to be sedate and short. He keeps looking dolefully at me this morning because I can't feed him.... I'm trying not to make eye contact!

And here he is looking 'street' in my youngest daughter's beanie.

I think he's looking affronted because I was laughing so much! 

In the photo you can see the huge box that has appeared in my lounge. Just as I get the house all clutter free and looking just as I like it, I bring back a whole load of stuff from Mum's to sort through. Mr D and I will need to do a big session, photographing and putting various pieces on eBay as it certainly can't all stay. I have managed to give away lamps, a dehumidifier, various tools, books, wooden spoons (for batik making) and various other bits and bobs. Another big box went to the charity shop. This gives me great satisfaction that most of her things are going to a good home where they can continue to be useful.

I'll let you know how Jet gets on :)

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

The plan

If you read yesterday's post, you'll know why the plans looks as it does.... I apologise for the length (and potential tedium) of this post in advance!

1) Home :- we have agreed that Shropshire is the county for us for multiple reasons - rural and spacious, much less traffic, historic towns, beautiful walks and a sense of community, good value for money in terms of house prices, my brother lives there, centrally placed in UK so easier for the kids to visit when they are spread all over the place. Mr D feels that the look and feel of the house is more important to me, so will defer to my preferences on the whole. We would both like a house big enough to have all of our children back, plus partners/spouses and children in the future (even if it means blow up beds and sleeping bags) and room for frequent visits from friends. This is important to both of us as we both love entertaining. We both want a large kitchen and some kind of real fire or log burner. He would like space for table tennis. I want a barn/workshop for revamping furniture, so the two could overlap. I really want an older house with character - celebrating the imperfect! As I want to grow my own veg and fruit and keep my lovely chickens, I would like at least an acre. Originally I wanted more as I intended on keeping goats and ducks, but I fear I am alone in that, so I will compromise. Mr D can't cope with the idea of eating anything he has 'raised' which puts a spanner in the works rather! But he is happy to help out in the garden and likes the thought of homegrown food. In terms of budget, we are looking at about £350,000 for which I think there are a number of potential properties. Originally we were thinking quite remote, but having discussed it, we are both leaning towards being a little closer to civilisation whilst still retaining views and dog walks on the doorstep. A small holidays one in France is still on the wish list :) 

2) Career and work. I want to prise Mr D out of his highly stressful, long hours job for the sake of his health and our relationship. We came to the conclusion that any form of income generation will have  to be multi pronged, comprising part time supply teaching for him, perhaps a part time shop/admin type job for me and possibly other, smaller income prospects like selling home made produce, letting out rooms, occasional B&B and selling on revamped furniture and craft creations made by me. Whatever happens, our income will fall considerably as Mr D is presently on a good wage and neither of us are anywhere near pension age!  We discussed how our entire lifestyle will have to change in order for this to work, but we are both ready. At least we know that as and when we can start drawing on our pensions pots, it will provide us with a decent amount to live off. 

3) Relationships and family. This topic raised an interesting issue. We agreed that we wanted to make this new step together (well, you never know....). I asked how he felt we would spend our time when the children left home. His response was of shock and panic at the very thought of them leaving, even though, two have already, to all intents and purpose left and a third is on the verge of leaving next autumn. I think the empty nest syndrome may affect him more than me. Personally, I'm looking forward to spending time alone with my husband and making the most of being able to please ourselves. That's not to say I don't love my children and I don't love being a mother, but surely the main point of being a parent is to prepare them for the world at large and then release them into it? We did both agree wholeheartedly that we would love for our children to feel they could come home at any point for visits and that they would want to and we aim to create a home that will provide for this.

4) Friends. On similar lines to the above, we would like our friends to come and visit regularly. We have been fortunate to have made some wonderful and treasured friends along the way already, so we would like them to stay in touch where possible. To make new friends, we will need to go out and socialise. We are both fairly sociable although I love my own company which Mr D does not (as in his own company rather than not enjoying my company!), so he will no doubt be looking to go out more than I would choose. The restrictive factor of disposable income may make a difference there! 

5) Health. We agreed that we will continue to eat well, predominantly vegetarian and home made from scratch. My exercise will come from the garden and dog walking, his will be supplemented with running and joining a tennis club (I'm rubbish at sport, he is an ex PE teacher and very good at most sports). Emotionally, we agreed that we would try to be more aware of one another's moods and try harder to respond appropriately to them. I think this will be easier in our new life. 

6)  Character. When I asked Mr D where he thought his strengths lay, he was unable to tell me! Seriously?! How many times have we sat with students encouraging them to write positive things about themselves in college applications or personal statements! Eventually, we decided that his strengths lay in bringing a lightness and humour to our family life and in striving to maintain links with our friends and the wider family. My strengths lie in driving things forward and seeing that things are completed - a starter/finisher as my Headteacher used to describe me. As a couple, we share the same values, we are both nurturers and balance one another out well if we are working well together. Our weaknesses lie in not always being able/willing to see what the other one might need and not always talking things out rather than stewing. We agreed we need to work on better communication and, on a practical level, keep  trying out basic DIY skills to see just how much we  can do for ourselves (I'm certainly more gung-ho than he  is in this respect!) 

7)  Activities and Hobbies. Mr D would quite like us to join a ballroom dancing class together. We would both like to become part of the local community - volunteering, quiz nights, organising events etc.  He would like to continue with some sport, I'd like to continue with my crafts. Mr D said he would like to start cooking more and I'd want to attend some classes to learn better needlework skills. I'd quite like to start up yoga again - I loved it before but my tutor left and I couldn't warm to the next one. We discussed how I would need Mr D to help more in the garden and around the home to enable us  both to have free time whether that be apart or together. I have always done the lion's  share of all things home related and I'd like to share this more. In terms of saving for something special, we would both love to go back to the Maldives and there are multiple other places both nationally and worldwide we'd love to visit if we are financially able to. 

8) Finances. Now this is the trickier bit. We are fortunate to be in a strong position financially going in to this but we have to decide whether to keep this house, rent it out and buy the new house in shropshire with a small mortgage raised on this one. The rental from this  house would cover the mortgage and pay us a regular income. Or should we sell this, buy a new house in Shropshire as cash buyers and then use the remainder to buy smaller houses to let out in Shropshire making it easier to manage them and building up a small  portfolio. OR do we sell this, buy a new house in Shropshire with the cash and then invest any remaining cash? There are some outstanding factors to play a part  in this, so we will have to wait until the new year before seek professional advice (we can get excellent free advice through Mr D's Union). Meanwhile I'm going to contact some local rental agencies here and get this house valued again so we have all the information to hand.

So there you have it (if you've kept awake to read it!) - the plan in detail. Any thoughts? 

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Having a plan

Firstly, thank you for all the kind comments on yesterday's birthday post. It's been great to become part of a gang!
As this is the first post of a new year, it seems only appropriate that this (and tomorrow's) look at my plan for the years ahead. They're a bit wordy I'm afraid, but there was no other way!

As you know, I have a clear idea of where I want to be headed and when I want to get there. Recently however, I have had my doubts as to whether Mr D was quite in tune with my plan, so I decided we needed to convene a summit meeting to thrash out what we thought would work. I drew up a list of questions and whilst we were in Devon with fewer distractions, we sat in the sunporch with a cuppa and went through the topics. Initially Mr D was rather bemused as it seemed far too much like an appraisal meeting, but he went along with it. Overall, I think it has helped to raise a few issues that we perhaps hadn't realised needed raising and to iron out some of the sticking points.
This was the set of questions I used (after trawling through the Internet). The plan is subdivided into 8 sub headings, but they do overlap a lot  :-

1) Home -
Where, geographically, do you envisage this home being?
In what sort of area do you see your home? Eg. near a village, out in the sticks etc?
What do you think the house will look like on the inside and outside?
What is important for you to have in the home?
What do you think we should spend to achieve this home?
How we will we achieve this budget?

2) Career and work -
What do you want to do in terms of work?
How many hours do you want to work?
How much miminum income do we need?

3) Relationships and family -
How do we view our future together?
What to do we both want?
What will we do as individuals?
What will we do as a family?

4) Friends -
How will we maintain our present friendships?
How will we make new friends?
How important is this to you?

5) Health -
What will we do to improve/maintain our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing?

6) Character -
What strengths do we have as individuals and as a couple?
Where might our weaknesses lie?
What skills do we need to develop?

7) Hobbies and Activities -
What hobbies do we want to have both individually and as a couple?
How will we fit these into our lives?
What special event (s) would we want to put money aside for?

8) Finances -
How will we earn our money?
How will we save?
How should we invest any spare money?

Now you can see why he thought he was in an appraisal meeting! At least I didn't 'traffic light' last year's performance and set him targets for next year's :)

I have yet to type up the plan but two very interesting moments were when we were talking about how it would be when the children had all left home and also when we talked about our strengths and weaknesses. I'll write about those in the next post when I  type up our potential life plan to share with you. It was an interesting exercise actually and certainly showed up where we were very much together but also where the potential crisis points might lie - none insurmountable but good to know in advance nevertheless. I know it might seem excessively formal and probably too 'management' for some, but it gave us a framework for our discussions. Perhaps all couples should do one of these before setting up home together?
I bet you're intrigued as to what the plan is now! .....

Monday, 2 November 2015

One year Anniversary

Today marks the first milestone for my humble little blog. I have been posting my ramblings and musings for a year now. Thank you so much to all of you who read and comment. I can truly say, it's been an absolute eye opener for me discovering blogland. There's so much information and support out there that I never knew existed. I have to admit that prior to reading blogs, I was of a similar, slightly dismissive mindset as my brother about the whole thing..... "Why would anyone want to read about the minutiae of strangers' everyday lives?!"
BUT, it isn't just about catching a glimpse into the day to day activities of others, although it's much more interesting than he thinks it might be! It's also about gaining experience and knowledge from other, like-minded people who are at a different stage on the path, gaining support and encouragement from others when you start to have doubts, receiving a great deal of support and genuine care from newfound friends at times of difficulty and sharing tips and knowledge that you have gained along the way to help others.
I know I don't know any of you personally, but I bet that if bloggers met, they would have a lot in common. I don't really know anyone else 'in the flesh' who is trying to live like I am, so your support, guidance and encouragement has been invaluable to me over the last year. Let's hope you will continue to visit my blog and continue to write yours until the next milestone is reached.
Many many thanks for making my first year in blogtopia such a fun and enriching one xx