Saturday, 1 August 2020

How much is a bag of potatoes?

I know how much it is to buy potatoes: 47p

I know how much it is to buy a tin of beans: 23p

I know how much an essentials tube of toothpaste costs: 50p

I know how much it costs to send a rocket to Mars: £4 585 280 400.00 (4 billion, 585 million, 280 thousand, 400 pounds)*

I know what is really essential.

* Mars One estimates the cost of bringing the first four people to Mars at US$ 6 billion. This is the cost of all the hardware combined, plus the operational expenditures, plus margins. 

Friday, 31 July 2020

Saving for the rainy day...

..but how do you know when it's a rainy day?

Most of my readers are careful, frugal and thrifty, and save bits and bobs - money into a savings account, extra tins in the cupboard or ends of wool to make into winter socks.
In many instances we save because we have been near the breadline and never want to go there again.  
Everybody that saves is sensible - there's a statement!!

But many people manage the 'rainy days' without touching the savings, or the store cupboard.

With the Lockdown this year and folks not doing lots of spending, many people have managed to save a little more money than they would usually; while others have been hit massively by redundancies, by workplaces not being open, by no work being available to them.

So when is it a rainy day, and how far should we let it 'rain' for until we spend some of that rainy day fund.

It can be tempting to spend a little here and there to cheer ourselves up when times are low.  

Personally I get tempted to 'spoil' other people as it makes me feel better.
Today, for example, we wanted to shop for some cheese as the grandkids were coming for lunch.  I masked up and went into the shop for cheese, and came out with:
  • a newspaper for Man Wonderful ( he doesn't get treated much )
  • a comic for each Grandkid (can't remember the last time I bought them one)
  • some tins of pepsi max and a magazine for Gorgeous Daughter (same as above)
  • a multi-pack of crisps for Grandkids to have a few beside their cheese and salad sarnies (couldn't resist)
  • some reduced-price teabags, simply because they were reduced price and still in date. (this was quite a sensible purchase)

It's also been little lad's birthday this week, although we do save all year in an online pot for birthdays and Christmas. 

So what constitutes a rainy day?

Car problems?  
Leaky roof?
Boiler not making hot water anymore?


A holiday
A Wedding
A new coat?

So is a rainy day for wants or needs?

Your thoughts, as always, are welcomed.

Tracey xx

Thursday, 30 July 2020

The photo says it all..

I had a second lot of x-rays yesterday on my wrist and could not resist asking permission to take this photograph as it made me giggle.


Tracey xx


Your heart pounds, your breathing quickens, your muscles tense, and you start to sweat.


It comes from anywhere and affects us entirely, physically and mentally. 

Our bodies are built to deal with it.
It's the fight, flight or freeze hormones from when our bodies were first produced, but dealing with the everyday stresses - even those that are slightly more than normal - don't really need a fight or flight response.
Still we are left with the body, now with additional stress hormones.

And the leftover from the stress that causes; migraine, physical aches and pains, dizziness/lightheadedness, sleep disturbance, overwhelming tiredness and disturbances in appetite, depression..

I live with an imbalance of anxiety and stress: a condition known as PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) following a serious attack 7 years ago that left me with epilepsy due to the head injury.

Before that I was a successful Head of Department in a large secondary school with more than 30 staff to manage.
We had a large circle of friends, we holidayed and socialised, we did additional hobbies, we lived in a beautiful home.

The assault left me not able to leave the house; unable to function at more than my basic level; unable to work; unable to communicate with people.  My brain shut down more than basic function.  The effect of severe stress.

Stress causes symptoms that are just like physical injury to the body.  It needs time to recover, may need medication, and different levels of support.

It could necessitate a complete change of lifestyle.

One thing is for sure, we are not alone and there are always people to help.

Tracey xx

Sunday, 26 July 2020

Roast Dinner

I just love a Roast Dinner (deliberately capitalized)!
I grew up in a household where the weekly roast dinner on Sunday was the one time of the week when we sat together around the dining room table.  
When I say roast dinner, back then it was usually cooked Breast of Lamb and more rarely Pork with Crackling.  
My favourite part of the meal was always the roast potatoes - either with mint sauce (from a  jar) or apple sauce from a tin.

I don't eat meat these days, but nevertheless we cook a roast dinner for all the family each Sunday tea-time.  Everyone has their own favourite things to serve for this major weekly family event, so I thought I'd share our menu!

Roast potatoes - boiled for a few minutes first before draining then cooking in olive oil in the oven.
Roast parsnips - peeled and cut into thin pieces and cooked alongside the spuds to nice and crispy.
Carrot crush - boiled swede and carrot, mashed.
Steamed veg - broccoli, carrots, leeks, peas, cabbage
Yorkshire puddings - batter mix cooked in an oiled muffin tin at a high oven temperature. 
Gravy - two types at our table; homemade veggy gravy made from veg stock, flour and yeast extract, and meaty gravy made from gravy granules and hot water.
Stuffing - the cheapest packet of sage and onion stuffing mix from the supermarket, add hot water, pop in oven for 30 mins.
Veggy main - veggy 'meatballs' or homemade lentil loaf usually.
Meat main for the two meat-eaters - I usually cook a small piece of chicken per person, or might cook a small piece of pork.  Only one adult and one kid in the family eat meat these days.

One thing both Man Wonderful and Gorgeous Granddaughter look forward to is leftover lunch on a Monday. (Since Lockdown he's had to share this weekly treat!) Any of the veggy leftovers are plated up and re-heated for a second plate of yum!

Do you have a weekly meal with family or friends?  Is there something you 'have to have' on a roast dinner?

Tracey xx

Saturday, 25 July 2020

How not to drown in 'stuff'!

Sitting in the garden with Man Wonderful, cup of tea and my knitting. 

I was asked recently how we manage to live so simply.
A friend feels weighed down by 'stuff' in her house, says she always has cleaning or laundry to do and at times just feels like she is 'drowning in it all'.

We operate the very simple philosophies of want vs need and everything in it's place. 

Let me give you a few examples:

It's summer here in the UK.  Today I'm wearing a navy long cotton shirty/dress:  but I wear this dress all year, no matter the season.  In the autumn I wear it with a dark pair of tights and a bright cardigan and cotton scarf.  In winter I wear it over leggings  under a jumper and scarf.  
I don't need any other dresses.  I dress it up or down for the season.
If I'm going out somewhere posh ( which is rarer than a white Rhino shopping in Tesco ) I can tart my dress up with a long necklace, something beady, a higher pair of shoes and me wearing make-up:  let's face it, it's the 'going-out' that is important - not whether I have a new frock to wear!
People who are close to me are often astounded by the limited number of items of clothing I own - and the same is for Man Wonderful.  But it means we genuinely have less laundry to do.

Now, I've been a mum (I am still one, actually) of a little one and I see the grandkids everyday, and I know that little people get more messy than your average 50 and 70-year old...(*just given away some ages there!) 
We only put something out for a wash if it is dirty.
If you can spot clean or give it a wipe, then 'it'll do' for tomorrow.  
If kids have a fresh clean outfit on and ketchup is spilled on the top, the bottoms can be worn again tomorrow and don't need to go in the wash.
Only wash socks if they are dirty.
I'll be honest here - my leggings or jeans can last a week before laundering as I change my knickers every day!
I operate the 'sniff it and see' policy to outer wear.

Man Wonderful and I share one single wardrobe and one 'tallboy' for our clothes, and laundry is folded and put away as we have laundered them.  
We have two sets of two towels - used and hung up, then in the laundry and the next set are out.
(It amazes me that people wash and change their towels every day:  I use my towel to dry water off myself, not dirt - therefore they are not 'dirty' every day!!)

We don't 'need' any more:  I might 'want' a different set of towels, or 'fancy' a new duvet set...but why spend money when we don't need to?!
However, when we do purchase something new, the old set goes.  
Otherwise it accumulates.

Now, that is how we live.
If your room is full of bits and bobs and you like it that way, live that way!

For me, I prefer a clearer room with few items on display.
This is my work desk.  The chair came from the house I grew up in, the table came from the local charity shop and has a 'flap' at the front that opens out when I want to use the sewing machine.  The printer is from the OU as I'm studying for another degree and the radio is the one we had when we lived in our little touring caravan.

So how do we keep the house tidy?
Quite simply, everything 'lives' somewhere.
Kitchen scissors are in the cutlery drawer. When they have been used and washed if need be, they go back there.
My make-up is in a make-up bag in my bedroom.  I sit on the bed to put makeup on in front of a mirror  -  the makeup then goes straight back in the bag - and the bag goes back on top of the bedside table.
It's a great system for us.

Man Wonderful used an unwanted CD storage unit to make my piano music store.  It stands behind the lounge door, it's easy to access my music and put it away too!
As we get older it makes for an easier life too - Man Wonderful can see his hankies are in his bedside drawer (we are handkerchief rather than tissue people) and he has more than a week's worth of hankies...when I do a hot wash they go in with that and once a week his hankies, when dry, go back in his drawer.

Ahem: I should say at this point that I iron about twice a year...if things fold up, they get folded up - if they need ironing, we try to manage without ironing them!

This is my bedside table with my summer reading sorted out!
There are oodles of films on youtube that show how people keep things in their fridge - colour coded or kept in alphabetical order to suit yourself - me? I keep fresh veg and fruit, and non-dairy things that have been opened in  the fridge.  Everything else has a cupboard where it 'goes' - cans in one place, pasta in another, etc.  Kitchen organising makes shopping easy as we only buy what we are going to eat that week/month.

The last thing I just want to say is that I love cleaning as I love to see things clean in my house and as it is tidy it is really easy to clean.  
Making Vintage Vixen's peanut butter cookies with the Grandkids.
When the grandkids are over I don't tidy or clean while they are here - playing is most important, joining in, have chats, etc.
When it's just the two of us, each evening when we've had dinner the dishes might be in a bowl of water soaking, but we don't wash up until the morning, as that is our time to chill, snuggle on the sofa, read or watch a film.

So there it is:  I'm not obsessive but I do keep things tidied away for an easier life.  If anything I'm a wee bit lazy!!

If anybody has any questions about My Beautiful Life, please post as a comment and I won't publish it; just answer them as a blogpost.

Meantime, keep well and safe!

Tracey xxx

Gorgeous Daughter made this for me for when I have a 'blue' day.

Tuesday, 21 July 2020


How Friends ruined TV comedy - Vox

Definition: a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations.

I think we will all have similar definitions for a friend.
Someone who listens.
Someone who never judges us.
Someone we trust?

Someone we can call when we are in trouble -  they say, "I'm on my way", then they grab a shovel and a bottle of Tequila...

Like many adults of my age, I've had friends in my life that have turned out to be as rotten as a soggy onion, and other friends who would never leave my metaphorical side even if we haven't seen each other for a few weeks.

But how to define someone I feel is a friend?

So.  Here is my  - Tracey's - list of qualities to be a friend of mine:

1. A person I can trust.  With my purse, with my husband, with my life.
2. A non-judgemental person.  Whether I have eaten a little too much cake, drunk a little too much Cherry Brandy or used a little too many swear words.
3. A person with a great sense of humour.  Someone who can put up with my daft jokes and able to text me ones they've heard.
4. A person I can call in floods of tears, in fits of laughter, in fear of my life.
5. A person who makes my life complete just by being part of it.

What qualities describe a friend to you?

Tracey xx