Sunday, 31 May 2009

The ends of May, the beginning of June

This seems to be a bit of a pattern... but hasn't May gone quickly? 

I'll post again this evening with some photos, but I've sat down to do a bit of organising, and remembered that I wanted to write an end of the month post, going over what I've done in May. Thinking about the last few weeks settles me somehow, makes me sit down and recognise what I've done. It makes me think about whether I'm moving in the direction I want to go in, and what needs to shift slightly. 

So, in May, I've done lots of new things :) I've dabbled with making clothes, and sewed two skirts, both of which I wear often. I also made a new bag, and knitted a couple of cotton dishcloths. I've started using the soap I made a couple of months ago - for washing up and in the shower. It's such a good feeling to use something you've made yourself, it really is. 

I've also made some very successful yogurt, so I've got over my slight gloominess about it not working a couple of times. And I made some excellent rhubarb and orange jam - which has now all gone! But our friends said we could have rhubarb from them whenever we liked, so we might pop and get some more tonight, and then give them a jar or two of jam in return. Community sufficiency is a long way off, but we're working on it.

In the garden, I've done a fair amount of weeding, planted out courgettes and cabbages, and sowed a few more seeds. We've had our first salad from the garden too! And I hung sheets out to dry - and since Peter would rather I didn't hang washing in the 'front' garden, he's building me a washing line by the back door :) Photos to follow when it's up. 

PhD wise, I've written some more, still need to write some more. What else can I say? Only that I sat down and counted the weeks left until it absolutely HAS to be handed in - just seventeen. That's 123 days and counting - even I can stick it out for that long. The end is in sight... 

Budget - well. I don't think I've spent that much, but I must confess I haven't kept a spending diary at all. I've had a complete mental block about it - do I just not want to think about it because I have too many other things to think about? I don't know. It has to stop though! I did contact the council about reducing our council tax, but we still haven't received the forms they promised to send. And I've managed to reduce my phone bill by £20 a month - £240 a year! Now, if I can just get that straight into the savings account it can go towards our Christmas holidays... 

Speaking of budgeting, I've applied for three jobs this month. I'm still not sure if I've done the right thing, but time will tell. I had thought I would carry on with my part time job that I do now for two days a week while I let my brain recover after the PhD. But a few things have happened at work, and I don't think that's going to be for the best for me. One of the jobs I've applied for is full time, in another city, which wold involve so much commuting, I'm just not sure I can commit to it. I'll cross that bridge if it happens. The other two are much more manageable, and one of them I'm really excited about. So fingers crossed. I've set myself a cut off point for my current job too, so whatever happens after that date, I'll be moving on. 

It's difficult balancing work and life, isn't it? I've been doing this PhD for a good few years now, and working two days a week on top for the last two years. I'm tired, and I have lots of other things I'd much rather be doing. This blog was designed to help me start doing some of those things anyway - some sewing, gardening, making, doing. Some things - like trapeze lessons and volunteering - I won't be starting til it's over. 

Some might say I'm idle... but I just don't think I've got time to do paid work for 37 hours a week. If I had to, if I needed to, then of course I would, I have done in the past, in much worse jobs than I could probably get now. But the thing is, through accident and more lately through design, I've set up my life so I don't need to. I've never spent huge amounts of money, all my clothes come from charity shops (or are made!), we don't eat much in the way of prepackaged food, don't have an expensive car, and neither of us have any debt (I worked to pay mine off). Our bills aren't expensive, and we can walk to lots of places we go to. We don't have expensive holidays and I'm trying to make all my presents this year. So really, now is the time to be doing all the cheery things I'd like to try my hand at. 

And, quite frankly, I'm a bit worried that if I got myself into a full time job, I wouldn't want to give up the salary... 

So there's my justification to myself, just in case I needed one :) I'm working hard to make my life how I want it NOW, not in 40 years time when I retire. Call me impatient, but I want the pots of jam, the tea and cake, the long walks, the bike rides, the reading, the days out at the seaside, I want them all now. The main cost is time. I'm trying to make sure I have plenty of that, not money. I'm working on it. 

So, June. This year is galloping so quickly I can barely keep up. This month I'll finish the last of the PhD chapters, and right back at the beginning again. I'll get some more salad leaves out in the garden. I'll spend lots of time in the garden, like I have this month, and maybe even harvest some what we've grown other than perpetual spinach and rainbow chard. I'll get the washing line put up (or rather Peter will...). I've got a few ideas for clothes I make, and I've also got a wedding present to make... :) 

I'm promising here to stick to the budget. I'll even put the spare £20 from the phone bill into the savings account. I'll do some price comparisons to cut the cost of the car insurance - dull, but necessary. 

I've started running again lately, so I'll keep that up. I'll also get a bit more spring cleaning done in the house, and a few projects. It never really ends, housework, so I'm working on thinking of it as cheery and nourishing. Or something. 

I'm looking forward to things being quite different at the end of June. I want to see the end of the PhD - not the real end, that's too unlikely, but the end of a full draft would be nice... And I'd like to know the outcome of the jobs I applied for, and make a few decisions about that. And for the garden to be full of food. I'm looking forward to it!  

Monday, 25 May 2009

Tadpole B&B

I had a strange text at 11 last night - 'can you tadpole sit if I bring them round?' I spent a good half hour in panic mode, thinking that 'tadpole' actually meant 'children', and that they were going to deposited on the doorstep because there was some great crisis, which is why they weren't answering the phone... 

... turns out they did mean tadpoles. Our friends went on holiday this morning, and realised last night they'd not asked anyone to look after the tadpoles. I didn't know they had any, and I still have no idea where or why they got them in the first place, because it was all in a bit of a rush. But hey, this house is home to whoever (or whatever) wants to call it home, so the tadpoles are here for a week, feasting on organic, home grown lettuce from the garden, and being stared at. I've never seen one this close up before, strange creatures, they look like something out of a monster film.

It's been a funny sort of day, I've spent most of it staring at the computer trying to fill in a couple of job applications. I filled one in last week, really quickly and easily, and that was for a full time, much better paid and high up job than these two, but it just wasn't coming easily today. I sat in the garden and persevered though - if I get either of these jobs I'd be working just three days a week for twice the money I'm on now, so it's hard to resist. 

I had another go at making yogurt last night, and it worked! I put a couple of spoons of natural yogurt in, and a couple of spoons of dried milk powder, and left it in a flask overnight, wrapped up in an old fleece and a couple of towels. It was mostly set this morning, and once I'd whisked it, all the lumps disappeared, and it looks and tastes gorgeous. So that's two large pots of yogurt for 84p worth of milk :) 

I've also made some jam today, for only the second time (and the first time it wasn't really me). Friends gave us some rhubarb, so rather than make it into a crumble to stuff our faces with, I thought I'd make it into jam instead (we love jam, did I mention that?) 

I got a recipe from this old book that Peter found in a skip :) I love that it's shaped like a pot of jam, and the pages are so pretty. This one's rhubarb and orange. 

I cooked it for much longer than it said, and ended up using the sugar thermometer to test the temperature. The house has smelt of rhubarb and oranges for the last three hours - absolutely gorgeous. Here's the result - three jars of jam, some very sticky pans, and two very happy people. I'll definitely be making jam again.

A lovely end to a rather trying day! 

Sunday, 24 May 2009

A gorgeous pottering day

The Sunday of a bank holiday weekend always feels like a spare day somehow. No work yesterday, and none tomorrow. I can always relax more on these Sundays than other days. And so today, I've had a lovely pottering day, getting things done, doing nothing at all, and it's been great.

First up this morning was some washing. I've been hankering after an outside washing line for some time, but because the garden's so small, and right next to the pavement, it was proving to be a bit difficult. Today I hit on the highly technical idea of taking the airer into the garden. Not really ideal - nobody stole our sheets, but the whole thing did topple forwards into the veg bed. No harm done though, and now I have sheets that smell of sunshine, which has got to be one of the greatest things in the world. 

It's been so warm and sunny today, I just had to spend most of the day in the garden. When I'm not out there, I wonder how there can possibly be so much to do in such a small space. When I'm out there, I wonder how I'll ever get it all done. 

We did a bit of food shopping this morning (while the washing was toppling into the flower beds), and I picked up these marigolds.

They're supposed to be good for keeping unwanted beasties off other plants. I have no idea at all if they work, but they're pretty anyway, and it's worth a try. There were 12 little plants, so I've dotted them all around the garden, which is now looking rather colourful. I'm not holding out much hope of them keeping the slugs off my cabbages, but you never know... 

Last week I planted out the cabbages and half of the courgette plants. I've allowed a few extra of everything in case it all gets eaten by slugs and snails, but the broad beans are ALL growing - we're going to be eating a LOT of them this year! The courgettes will probably do the same, and I'll have to make huge batches of courgette chocolate cake (no shame there though). I thought it was about time I planted some new seeds to replace those now moved from the windowsill into the garden. I've planted basil, sweetcorn, pumpkin, and some fabulous walking stick kale, which I probably don't have room for (same as the pumpkins) but which I just couldn't resist. 

I also planted a few more lettuce seeds. I'd love to at least get all our salad from the garden later in the summer, and the lettuce I planted out into the garden was eaten overnight. The ones in the pots are doing well though, so I've started another pot. I harvested some of the lettuce, along with some of the perpetual spinach that's nearly as tall as me, for a salad with baked potatoes for tea this evening. I've been cutting the bigger spinach leaves and cooking them, thinking they were too bitter for salad, but the really small ones right at the top of the plant are actually quite sweet and cheery.

Another project of the weekend is this shawl that I found in a charity shop on Saturday morning. 

I had grand ideas of unravelling it and making it into something soft and lovely to wear - but after about an hour and a half unravelling, all I had was a pile of tassels and a ball of wool about the size of a walnut. The pattern's so complicated it's tied itself in knots, and the wool is really hairy and sticks to itself. So I might need to rethink that one! 

All in all, a lovely day indeed. Here's hoping for another one tomorrow. 

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Meal planning

Pretty much everything's easier when you plan, but sometimes it's just not that easy to get round to the planning. 

Without planning of some kind, eating in this house tends to drift towards foraging, pecking at bread and jam, uncooked porridge, and fruit. For breakfast, dinner, and tea. Homemade bread, and a fair bit of fruit, but hardly what you'd call a balanced diet. 

So I've taken matters in hand and done a meal plan for the next few days. It looks like this:

I've done meal plans before, big, long, protracted affairs, with every meal plus snacks in little squares. Sometimes it works for a while, sometimes it doesn't. The beauty of this simple meal plan is that it uses what we've got in the house and allows us to improvise. It also means if we're running late for something, or if one of us fancies making a more extravagant meal, then we can switch them round and make the most suitable for that day. 

I haven't planned lunches and breakfasts right now, I'll see how the evening goes, and hopefully having a meal planned in advance will cut down a bit on the bread and jam at least.

Bread and jam IS gorgeous though... :) 

I know meal planning is good, it's one of the key things to help cut down spending, especially on quick trips to the corner shop. It also helps avoid eating nothing but bread and jam (did I mention that already?) And it takes the effort out of wondering what to make and staring at the fridge when you're hungry. But somehow I don't find it very interesting....

This is what I saw when I went to look in our fridge when thinking about this post.

Some carrots, half a courgette, some chopped onions in a bowl. A huge tub of natural yogurt (my yogurt making efforts have temporarily fallen by the wayside after two spoiled batches). Two nearly empty pots of jam, with a bit of water in each, swished round to make a sweet jammy water that will go into the next batch of bread. 

I think on tomorrow's to do list might include a clean out and clear out of the fridge :) It's easier to be enthusiastic about making food when you can see exactly what you've got. I LOVE cooking, but sometimes I forget that I do. I forget that I find it soothing and cheery, and reach instead for the bread knife.
Tomorrow I'll clean out the fridge, and make the tea in advance, to be heated up in the evening. And I'll try to reconnect a bit with my food, try to see meal planning as a pleasure not a chore. And try not to eat more than four or five slices of bread and jam :) 

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Pulling your socks up

The last couple of days have dragged quite a bit, mostly work, a bit of PhD, and I was wondering what I was going to write on this blog, since I haven't really got round to doing anything cheery. 

I'd planned to go out tonight, but it got to 8.30 and I was starting to think I couldn't be bothered, it was too much effort, it was a long walk, it would be a late night, I'd be better off curling up on the sofa... 

... sometimes it's good to give in to those feelings, good to stay at home instead of always partying. But not tonight, I need a good dose of daftness and cheeriness and singing and dancing. 

It's still light here at 8.30 (hooray!) so I went outside to plant out the cauliflowers and courgettes I've been growing on the windowsill. 

At least I think these are cauliflowers! They are yet another victim of my inadequate garden referencing system, and I'm not entirely sure what I planted. Still, we'll find out sooner or later. 

I managed to kill off my courgettes last year, and I'm still not quite sure what I did wrong. I've planted two of these out, and kept another two indoors to wait a bit longer in the warm. This way they might not all get eaten by the slugs... 

The garden's looking rather healthy these days! Everything's shooting up, everything's green. I tend to think there's not much weeding to do in a small garden, that once the big clearing stuff is out of the way, it's just about planting. But the lilac is sprouting up all over the place, as is the honeysuckle - most of which I'll be leaving as it's so beautiful, I can't resist the smell... 

I'm hoping a few things (not just spinach!) will live long enough to expand and fill those bare patches in the front. 

And now, off to the pub for an hour :) 

Monday, 18 May 2009

A cheery squirrel

I dropped my camera not so long ago, and now it's playing up a bit. (Ok, so I dropped it a few times and now the back's held on with masking tape). 

One problem it now has is that it keeps taking videos instead of pictures - mostly very short videos of the camera moving to the floor as I've realised what it's done. 

Yesterday morning though, Peter was trying to get a picture of the squirrel that visits our bird table early in the morning, and managed to accidentally take this video instead. It's very typically squirrelly :) 

Ok, so it's not quite upright. But a squirrel looks the same whichever way up it is, so you can use your imagination, and I'll try to get to grips with the technology before the next exciting garden video installment. 

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Garden update and soap

Remember the soap I made weeks ago? After much toe tapping, eight weeks has passed and it's ready to use! 

I used some of the olive oil soap for washing the dishes with one of the cotton dishcloths I knitted.

It even foams and everything! I used some of the soap with coconut oil to wash my hair in the shower, it's even more foamy than the olive oil soap, and I'm very impressed :) There's plenty of it, and I'll be making some more soon. I might try some different oils and fragrances. Watch out family, you're going to be experimented on! 

I've done nothing in the garden all week - it's been pouring with rain, and I've been shut in the attic writing. I popped outside today in a break in the rain, and found the broad beans making a bid for the sky.

In the front garden, the perpetual spinach has suddenly shot upwards after being a short leafy plant for months. It seems to have got this tall almost overnight. 

I cut some of the tender leaves, and we sliced them and put them on top of a home made pizza, along with some herbs out of the garden.

Not a good picture, but you also see the oven gloves my mum made for my birthday last year. The pizza was lovely :) 

I can't remember whether I posted about it, but a few weeks ago I had a go at making ginger beer, using this recipe from the Simple, Green, Frugal co op blog. It was very easy, just make a ginger beer 'plant' by mixing water, sugar, yeast and powdered ginger, then add a spoon of sugar and spoon of ginger to it each day for a week. 

After a week, I mixed it with water and more sugar, and then bottled it. After several weeks of moving it from one place to another in the house, loathe to throw it away because I was hoping it would get fizzy if I left it for long enough, I finally opened it.

It's fizzy! Well, a little bit... far too sugary, and not gingery enough, and I'm not sure we'll manage to get through 8 bottles since it's basically ginger flavoured sugary water, but very exciting nevertheless. 

I think my mistakes were being a bit cautious about adding too much ginger, trying to bottle while also trying to do something else, and ending up leaving the mix overnight in the pan before bottling it (oops!), and not sealing the bottles quick enough after reading lots of horror stories about them exploding. 

Any ideas about what to do with it? I don't want to tip it down the sink really! Maybe it'll be nice mixed with Malibu... :) 

Sunday, 10 May 2009

More sewing and some gardening news

I made another skirt! I'd tried to make a full length, full circle skirt last summer, but had no idea how to do waistbands and made a complete hash of it. After last weekend's success, I thought I'd have a go at rescuing it. This is the finished result.

It's not full length, because rescuing the waistband and putting a proper hem on it somehow took off quite a few inches... But it's still full circle, now has a zip and you can't quite see it in the picture, but I've somehow made the hem flare out slightly, which I rather like :) It only took a couple of hours too, mostly on the hem (which is much longer than you'd think!)

I was also feeling in need of a new bag, and was trying to think of a way to use the cotton pillowcase we bought for 50p last week. This is what I came up with. 

The bottom few inches is denim from the leg of an old pair of jeans. I generally end up putting bags on a mucky floor, or spilling food in them, or having pens leak everywhere, so I've learned that having a white bottom on a bag is not a good idea! 

I made it just about big enough to fit an A4 folder in, along with general purse, keys, phone etc. If it's not carrying A4, it'll fit the normal stuff plus lunch box, book and water bottle. The ribbon (which we already had, and which goes quite nicely) pulls the top shut. The handles are quite long so I can carry it over my shoulder and can pull things out without having to take it off.

Quite a successful weekend of sewing really! I also took in a top that I love, but which was always a bit big, and had recently become rather baggy and saggy in the wash. Took me all of 10 minutes, I don't know why I put these things off for so long! 

There's lots going on in the garden at the minute too - not much of it being done by me... The chives in the front have got loads of flowers coming, which will look lovely, and I'm planning on eating a few of them - not quite sure how yet! 

The slugs are, as ever, eating lettuces, mint, fennel, and most other things they can get their chops round (although oddly enough, not the strawberries). The broad beans are growing nicely, I planted rather a lot thinking most of them wouldn't come up, but they all seem to have done, so we'll be needing plenty of broad bean recipes later in the year. 

And the lilac is flowering. It doesn't last very long, but it smells absolutely gorgeous, and looks lovely hanging outside the kitchen window :) 

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Being organised

I knitted a dishcloth! I love knitting, and I've knitted some presents recently with thick, bobbly wool. When I got a couple of balls of cotton yarn for my birthday, I planned to make a few dishcloths. I'd forgotten how nice it was to knit with thin soft yarn! 

I used the waffle knit pattern from the Homespun Living blog. It was really rather easy - I think the main pattern is called sailor's rib. It's actually green with a yellow stripe - the picture makes it look blue. 

If you look closely, you can see I've managed to add an extra stitch to a row near the beginning and shift the whole pattern sideways a bit :) But progress not perfection and all that. It took me probably about 3 hours in total, mostly while I was watching a film (a subtitled film! Hardly ideal when trying to follow a knitting pattern for the first time...). I'm going to try another one soon with a different pattern.

Tonight I've also been working on well, I'm not sure what to call it. I started it based on Flylady's control journal. Rhonda Jean also talks about a home management journal - it's essentially a similar thing - a place to keep routines, recipes, cleaning tips, plans and projects all in one place. Mine is fairly basic, and I've tried to not get hung up on making it look pretty. 

At the beginning I have a plan of things to do this month, split into PhD, work, house, garden, and money. This changes over the months, not all of them will have a big money section, for example, and I'm looking forward to the month when there's no PhD section... :) I've got deadline dates for each goal, and the colours correspond to the week things need doing. I've noticed I've only managed to tick one thing off so far - oops!

The rest of the folder is split into sections - home, food, garden, money, presents, and contacts. Again, things will be added to this as I go along, this is just what's useful to me right now. 

There's not much in the food section yet, just a shopping list, meal plan, and recipes for yogurt and quark, together with how they've worked (not very well so far!)

The garden section has a list of what needs planting in which month - although I haven't yet made a list of what I've actually planted and when. Probably should do that soon. It has a couple of pictures in of things I'd like to have a go at one day.

The presents section is again quite small, but hopefully it'll grow. I'm trying to make all birthday and Christmas presents this year, and not doing too badly so far. This very rough list is from a whizz round a few websites before last Christmas - some of these ended up as presents, and some might do in the future. At some point I'll make a list of planned presents for each person's birthday so I can start making them in advance, rather than a couple of days before. 

So, has it helped me be more organised? Yes! I'm trying to get everything in one place that I need in the quest for this cheap and cheerful, home made life :) It keeps growing and changing and developing over the months, and has already moved from an A5 to A4 binder. It lives on the kitchen table, so I can refer to it when I want to make soap, or a shopping list, or a birthday present. It's a great idea, one that I certainly didn't make up, and there's some fab ones out there on the internet to have a look at. 

Monday, 4 May 2009

Fabric covered books

It's been a nice bank holiday today, pottering and PhD-ing, and visiting a friend's art exhibition.

We covered these notebooks with some fabric from the stash. The fabric is just glued on with PVA glue, and they've turned out nicely.

I quite often end up with loads of notebooks lying around.... Some get a bit old and tatty looking before I've even managed to use them! So I'm glad that we've had a go at covering them, because it's a great way of using up odds and ends of material. It's the first matching skirt-and-notebook set I've ever owned! :) I'm planning to cover my diary and a couple of A4 ring binders tonight too.

Peter made yorkshire puddings earlier, and knowing how much of a sweet tooth I have, made a few sweet minipuddings with mixed fruit in. They were lovely with a nice cup of tea, and very quick to make.

There's one left, which I'm going to try to take to work with me tomorrow. Not sure it'll last that long though...

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Sewing a skirt

I made a skirt! I'm so impressed with myself :) 

I used the instructions from the Crafts magazine I bought last week for 10p. I had planned to make it full length, but there just wasn't enough material in the quilt cover. 

Rather frustratingly, the instructions for the waistband, zip and hem are in the next issue, which wasn't in the charity shop when I went back. I had to turn instead to the "Good Housekeeping step-by-step encyclopaedia of Needlecraft", which is fortunately very thorough and easy to understand.

I made a stiffened waistband, and finally discovered what bias binding is, and used it to hem the skirt.

Here's the final thing - it looks better on, but I couldn't get a decent photo. 

It's a full circle, so it swishes out nicely, and it'll be great for dancing and prancing around in :) 

It only took a few hours, although I did rather rush the hem as we were going to a friend's house for tea. I'll try again soon with a full length one, and I might try a tie waist instead of a stiffened waistband. I'm glad I know how to do it now though. A colourful, unique skirt, made from a second hand quilt cover bought for £3 - a veritable bargain. 

Friday, 1 May 2009

The end of April, the beginning of May

April has felt like a long month! I've got lots of new and cheery things done.

Most importantly, it was my birthday :) We had a very soggy day out! I got some new audio books, which I love listening to when I'm driving, or walking somewhere uninspiring, or sewing. Peter also got me a pink and blue sparkly hula hoop! Far from being the expert I remember being when I was 11, I actually can't keep it round my waist for more than 3 seconds... But I'll keep trying, we've had so much fun with it! 

I got a lovely parcel in the post today, a birthday present from my auntie :) She sent these gorgeous fabrics from her stash.

I've dropped my camera and broken something, so they all look orange, but there's actually loads of different colours! I've been having fun thinking of all the things I can make with them. 

She also sent these balls of pure cotton yarn.

I'd been talking about knitting dish cloths, and looking out for cotton, and she found these, so now I can have a go. Hooray! 

Other than being my birthday, April has been busy. I've done a bit of sewing and knitting, and I've made all the birthday presents for people this month! I've had a go at making cheese and yogurt. I've made a fair few lovely cakes, and also another batch of soap using coconut oil this time. I've used the face scrub I made all month. 

In the garden, I've planted herbs, and my mum helped for a weekend clearing and brushing and generally sprucing up. Peter built us a compost bin! We've seen a frog in the garden, a mouse, a squirrel, and plenty of birds. My broad beans are doing well, and some of the inside plants are nearly ready to plant outside. 

In the house, spring cleaning and sorting has continued - I've cleared my desk area in the attic, as well as the sewing area (which I forgot to post pictures of, I'll do that this week). All my material is now organised - it's so much easier to do a small project when you can see what there is to use! And most importantly, we now have a shower!! This has been a lengthy and complicated process taking several years, and you just can't imagine how excited I was when I had the first shower this week! 

I haven't quite stuck to my budget this month... I stopped writing things down several times, so I don't have an accurate record, sadly. But I think I only went about £30 over. I'll do better next month. 

I've written another couple of PhD chapters, and have managed to stay cheery about it for most of the month, which is very unusual! I can see the end, it just doesn't seem to be getting any closer...

I've got lots planned for May! I'll be planting more things out in the garden, and spending more time sitting out there in the sunshine. 

I bought this fabulous quilt cover last week, and I'll be attempting to make it into a full length, full circle skirt :)

I've got a few other little sewing and knitting projects on the go, including dish cloths. In the house I want to carry on pottering and sorting and tidying. PhD wise, I'm aiming to write the last couple of chapters this month, and then make a start rewriting from the beginning all over again...

Other than the PhD, which has to be the main priority this month, I'm going to focus on the budget. I'm going to rejig our phone bills to save us some money, and get us our long awaited council tax discount. I promise here to stick to my budget all month! :)