Friday, January 23, 2009

Swings and roundabouts

Just paid tax bill, still feeling I've been ripped off and massively overestimated the amount of tax I owe. So come April I'll grapple with it again and hopefully claw back some cash... May need help with this (Emerald! In exchange for dinner!) Good news arrived today with my credit card statement (NEVER a sentence I thought I'd write). I've transferred the balance of my ridiculously high-interest card to a 0% card, but I somehow overpaid the transfer amount. So essentially my credit card company owe me £540 and are paying it into my bank account. Woot!

Crafty things I've done while - ahem - resting these past few weeks

1) Made a maxidress to take to the south of France. It is made from a polycotton bedsheet which I dyed a murky grey/blue. It's a funny shape and I think the hem is a bit too narrow to walk properly in. I will still wear it. I'd take pictures and post them here, if I thought Steve could stop laughing long enough to hold the camera.

2) Work in progress: making stuffed bear/cat/rabbit hybrid toys for Maddy's baby and my nephew (due in about 3 weeks, so excited!). They're going to be made from a blue flowery Cath Kidston fabric someone gave me a few years ago. They're a bit freestyle and I apologise in advance for any nightmares/long-term trauma they may cause.

3) Not crafty but long overdue - a new kitchen is on the horizon for the J-D family. AT LAST. I detest my kitchen with a passion. It has no storage (people think I'm exaggerating, until I show them space for a few food items and 4 mugs and they shut up), doors hanging off their hinges, and massive gaps behind the units, forming an adventure playground for mice. But we bit the bullet and headed to Ikea, and got a not-too-terrifying quote for a new one.

Am nearly as excited by the prospect of a new kitchen as by the imminent arrival of my nephew.

Monday, January 12, 2009

WHAT A DAY. Fired our cleaner* as we can't afford to keep her. She was fine about it (I paid her double for today) and it'll be a bit of a relief to be able to find stuff in the house again. All random bits of paper with very important things on them tend to get shuffled into neat piles, and forgotten, and I nearly screamed today when I noticed that my very expensive left-handed fabric scissors had been washed up and left in the cutlery drainer.

If you hadn't guessed, I'm broke. I know - how chic. Everyone's broke, everyone's 'economising' - TopShop instead of Marni, Southwold instead of Thailand. What fun! But as someone with a flexible income, I'm living from cheque to cheque and counting my pennies. Trying to think of what to sell on eBay. Clothes? (Really should - I have over 50 dresses, most of which I've never worn...shameful.) Hair? (Not long and luscious enough, sadly. Maybe in 6-8 months' time.) Steve? (That man costs a LOT to keep.) Am trying to make my own fun, too. Here's my top five free fun things to do.

1) Bubble bath, manicure. Drink wine in the bath for added luxury. More realistically drink random sugary liqueur from drinks cabinet.
2) Read! I have a ton of books to get through.
3) Long, bracing walks. Ideally not along the South Circular.
4) Read blogs/online news.
5) Sew. Am making a dress into a top, and shortening things I've never worn in the hopes that they'll now fit/somehow be more appealing.

Even I got a bit depressed reading that list.

* Yes, I KNOW it's bourgeois, fascist, Tory whatever to have a cleaner, but she's really nice, I pay her well, and she only comes for three hours every two weeks and spruces the place up a bit.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Happy 2009. Not sure why, but I'm not really loving Christmas any more. It just seems increasingly like a month or so of stress and scrabbling around to get gifts for everyone, and then sitting around stuffing my face for two weeks, followed by a month or so of self-hatred when I can't get my jeans on. Well that's what it was like this year, anyway. Sorry to sound all bah-humbug, but I think next year I'd like to take a ten-day vacation over the Xmas/NY period...

What else? Well, it wasn't improved at all by the Israeli strikes since the 27th, as my sister is in Gaza. She was due to come home on January 17th but as the boat she was supposed to travel on has been hit (thanks, Israel, for that too) she'll be there a while longer. And to be honest she's not in any hurry to get out. As the British representative of the Free Gaza movement, she can't just run home as soon as it kicks off. But it doesn't reassure me to know that when buildings are being blown up, rather than sheltering, she'll be heading towards the explosion.

January 15th is our 6th dating anniversary... I'm getting S a present, seeing as his Xmas gifts from me ran to a Terry's Chocolate Orange (in limited edition hazelnut!), a copy of Revolutionary Road, and some stroompwaffles (?!). We did venture out to John Lewis at one point, only to both become distraught at the crowds and the fact that the entire shop had been picked over. I wanted to get a jigsaw and there were none. Steve wanted a leather satchel. Nothing. We also wanted to get a goose or a duck for our Xmas dinner (traditionally held on the 29th or 30th of December), but no game was available.

Pics are of Our People's Christmas meal, eaten at 10.30 as cooking took 5 hours (Steve) and tidying the dining room (me) nearly as long. On the menu: pork belly cooked with garlic, herbs and orange, roast potatoes, pigs in blankets, sweet potato & black pudding mash, honey roast parsnips, sprouts with chestnuts, stuffing, and gravy. And port and champagne. Cheers!