My life in Ipswich - incorporating One Step at a Time, my account of how I am slowly changing my life

Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy New Year

Tomorrow will be the start of a new year and yet another new beginning. As a family we are eagerly awaiting the birth of Toby but he seems quite settled in Sian's tummy and is not showing any signs of wanting to leave.

In the true spirit of a new year I am going to make some resolutions:

Lose at least 3 stone
Be more organised in meal planning
Declutter more of the house

These are quite general purposely so as to make easier to achieve.

Hope you all have a good year ....xxxx

Thursday, 15 November 2012


Another passion of mine is sewing. From a very young age I have sewed. From the dress I made at the age of 10, to my first wedding dress at 19 and to the clothes I now make for my granddaughter Ella, I am never so contented as when I am at the sewing machine or sitting with a needle in my hand.

I sew all sorts of things from clothes to curtains to patchwork blankets, to Christmas stockings and doll's bedding. I have a small craft room which is bursting at the seams with fabric and craft items, and in another room I have book cases of craft/sewing books and magazines and a chest of drawers full of fabric.

My very latest creation is the Liberty fabric cushion pictured above. I bought it as a kit from Patch Fabrics in Lowestoft which is owned by a friend Claire Davidson. Claire started her business on line running from a bedroom in her home but finding it getting larger, she took over some premises at Bevan St East. Since that the business has thrived and I can be found there every Weds at the Quilt Club and on occasional days at workshops. To find out more visit Claire's website

Today's sewing an advent calendar of 24 mini stockings ......

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Folk music and festivals

This is another important aspect of my life and one which takes up quite a lot of my free time. I suppose it all started with going to Cambridge Folk Festival in the late 1990s where I discovered folk music. Not the finger in the ear music that is its usual caricature but music that has roots in the everyday man of the past , present and future. In fact many who say they don't like folk music are rather surprised when they hear some, to find that it's like music they are already listening to or that they rather enjoy it.

To be fair, my folk roots possibly started a lot earlier than that, when I was a student in the 1970s going to the Albion fairs and listening to Melanie, the Byrds, Bob Dylan, Lindisfarne, to name but a few. So when in the 1990s I discovered folk festivals it was like being young again. Camping at festivals and escaping the 'real' world for a few days. was the ideal way of escaping the stresses of modern life and of teaching in a challenging school.

Then the interest in the music spread to some of the other folk traditions and Harry and myself got involved in morris dancing. Now unlike many believe, morris dancing is not all men dressed in white waving hankies. There are many forms of morris and the type we got involved in is called Border morris as it originates form the Welsh borders. So first it was working with Pretty Grim [seen above], then Moonshine and also Green Dragon. These days I don't dance but go along to support when I can. Harry has now also got involved with Milkmaid Molly an all inclusive side that includes those with special needs. This side dances in the East Anglian tradition of Molly.

The folk music, the festivals and the morris dancing means we have quite a good social life but most of it not in Ipswich where we live. This generally means quite a bit of travelling but we have decided to continue living in Ipswich as that is where Harry works. All this means that he is about 5 minutes from work but that we travel for pleasure.

Finally the other aspect of this that's so important to me is our friends The Bounty Hounds, a folk rock group based in Bury St Edmunds. Harry now does the sound for them and this has led to more involvement in the local folk scene. The Bounty Hounds play locally and at various festivals up and down the country and are well worth a listen to if you get a chance.  I can't imagine my life without music and festivals and hope to continue with both for many years to come.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Being a grandma

I thought I'd write a few posts about what is important to me in my life. I'm going to start with 'being a grandma'

When I married Harry I immediately became a 'Nannie' to Charlie who is now eleven and beginning to really develop his own life. Soon after that came Conner, followed almost immediately with Samuel. All three are great lads and I love them all. However I am only step-nannie to them and have always been conscious that they have a real grandma. This has not stopped me doing things with them and am at the moment working on Charlie and Samuel's Christmas craft boxes that I always provide at the beginning of December.

However January 2011 something really amazing daughter Sian gave birth to a little girl Ella. At the moment Ella is the 'apple' of my eye but any time now my daughter in law Emma will be giving birth to Grace and around Boxing Day Ella will be getting a little brother, Toby. I can't wait.

I never imagined that I'd become such a doting grandma. .....but I am. Every Wednesday sees me getting up early to drive the 33 miles to where Sian, Ian and Ella live. It's so lovely to be greeted by Ella's friendly little smile

When my children were young I was working full time and was always busy. Hopefully they would say I still found time for them but looking back, how I wish I could have spent more time with them. Being a grandparent gives you another chance to be important in a child's life....its such a privilege.

Monday, 12 November 2012

What does being Frugal really mean?

Over the years I have read and have even followed religiously, several 'frugal' websites and blogs. In them the writer always stresses how much money they save doing this or doing that and gives out plenty of advice. But now  I have had a light bulb moment - I have always been 'frugal' but haven't called it that.

If we go back to my childhood years, I made presents, recycled items and made my first well loved dress at the age of 10.  This continued through my teens with altering of jeans to make them flares, embroidering flowers on them and the making of my blue with silver stars Marc Bolan jacket [okay, I'm giving away my age here].

During my university years I had a great time but still saved the deposit for my first flat out of my grant and holiday earnings; my wedding dress was made from Laura Ashley fabric for a fraction of the cost of one bought new and my sisters helped me make all the food for the reception, including decorating all the cupcakes [ although they were called fairy cakes then!]with bright green and blue icing; I bought text books secondhand and cooked all my own meals [no uni canteen for me]; my furniture was bought from secondhand shops and altered to my taste and finally wine and beer was brewed. None of this I considered being frugal - it was all just natural to me.

My 'frugal' ways have enabled me to pay off a mortgage, [taken out after a marriage breakdown] in ten years and take very early retirement.   In those ten years I also remarried and had the wedding and honeymoon of my dreams[including flying over Niagara Falls in a helicopter]  all for under three thousand; had several holidays abroad and attended so many folk festivals I have lost count; bought a caravan and both myself and other half have our own cars. No I didn't marry someone with a large income,just average but we have made decisions about what is important to us.

And coming back to my 'light bulb' moment, I am no longer going to idolise these 'frugal' bloggers...because I am one of them. We are all just people who have made our own decisions on what is important to us. For some its where they live, for others the size of their house, or what they eat, or how they spend their leisure. We are all different and all have to make our own decisions. Yes, I'd love to move to another area nearer the coast but that would mean getting another mortgage and so I'd have to return to work in order to finance it. For me it's more important that I stay healthy and have time to spend with my family.  So I will continue being careful with my money but if cold I WILL put the heating on, I WILL occasionally have a takeaway of fish and chips, I WILL buy a magazine, books, cds, dvds - all because I know the way I budget my money allows it.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Meet Stanley

Last night I decided to have a play  and Stanley was born

Monday, 1 October 2012

From my mobile!

<p>Trying to see how this  works....

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Weekend Away

Have returned from a super weekend away with a border morris side, Pretty Grim and the Bounty Hounds

My revamped caravan

Dinner cooking

And served up

Bounty Hounds playing on the Saturday

Pretty Grim dancing late on the Saturday afternoon

On Sunday the rain finally stopped and music began 

Tiny caravan at the Farmers Market

Loved this sign......

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Bad blogger returns

 It has been such a long time since I've blogged but I have been really busy. My personalised bunting really seems to be taking off and I have had 5 orders in the last 2 days. I completed one for another crafter then started on the example above which is for one of my daughter's friend's baby. I posted it on facebook not expecting too much but the orders seem to be rolling in.

I have also been working on handmade cards after selling a few at my first craft fair

 Again after posting a few on facebook I got an order for a pink VW campervan thank you card

 Tomorrow I am off to see Sian, Ian and Ella charging my camera battery ready for more photos of have been warned!

Friday, 16 March 2012

New venture - new blog

Lots of exciting things have been happening. I have decided to concentrate on my sewing and craft activities and forget about my past teaching life. To that end I have began advertising myself on facebook and have created a new blog - Baytree Creations.
Already I have got a few orders and the opportunity to display my work in a retail shop. It's all early days and I have loads to do but its so exciting

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Grandma's phone

Things have all settled down at the moment and on Thursday I visited my two favourite girls, Sian and Ella. Ella loves going through my bag and this week decided to have a go with my phone. Not only did she turn it on but she also managed to connect to the internet - she will be texting by the time she is 3!!

Friday, 2 March 2012

‎"When shall we three meet again......"

From today' Daily Telegraph - Can you believe it - makes you wonder if anyone actually proof reads it or checks it in any way. 

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Ella's first step

Today Ella aged 13 months took her first step and it was towards her grandma. I am such a proud grandma.......

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The sun shines.........

It's beautiful here : 15 degrees recorded on the car thermometer. I even saw one young lady in a sleeveless summer dress - that was going a bit too far I thought, but she was young and the young do strange things don't they? 

Have done some shopping and got the meat for the next 2 weeks. Just need to cook and freeze. Sainsburys had an offer on HP printer paper so got 4 packs which should keep us going for a while. 

Am going to go in the garden in a bit and get some clearing done. It's a real mess out there as leaves are everywhere [we back onto woodland] and the holly bush we took down in the autumn still needs to be got rid of - trouble is brown bin will only hold so much. 

Tea tonight will be some of the gammon I bought, with new potatoes and salad - yum, yum. Need also to make some rolls and biscuits to keep us going for the next few days. All that should fill the oven nicely. 

Suppose I ought also to check that my money has gone into my account.....

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

A Fresh Start

The weather has changed and I am feeling more hopeful. I have lots of changes I need to make and now is the time to begin.

My weight has stabilised since Christmas and I now need to work at losing some of it. I did well 
losing 2 stone between July and December but now I need to get motivated again and lose some more. Sian, my daughter has some cupcake designs, that you colour part of each one in as you lose a lb -  each cake coloured in represents half a stone. I am going to use this as a way of motivating myself.

My house is disorganised and needs sorting. Today I have restarted my decluttering but this time I am determined to be more ruthless - no-one person can need so much stuff.  So far some odd bits and some paperwork and files have been thrown and a few items put aside to sell. Don't get me wrong I could never live in a minimalist household but I feel like I'm drowning at the moment.

I started the year well keeping account of all my spending but unfortunately February has not gone well. I haven't spent loads on bits but I also haven't kept an accurate record of everything. On a positive side I have paid the balance for our holiday in Cyprus in May and have bought myself a new office chair[ old one was broken and was giving me backache] and a small laptop. This I have done without touching the savings or incurring any debt - so all is not bad. I get paid tomorrow and I intend to try harder to keep my spending records up to date.

The garden is a mess. Too much to do in one go and also I am not fit enough so my intention is to have a go at a bit a day. I am sure that if I tackle it this way, it will eventually start looking a lot better.

I intend to try and post more - recording my achievements in this attempt to have a fresh start!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Mummy, shall I wake him up?

Couldn't resist posting this photo taken today at Sian's.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Another week........

 Last week was truly a very mixed bag. Harry’s car developed a fault and is certainly proving to be a b*gger to fix. He seems determined to try and fix it himself and not give Vauxhall his hard earnt cash. Anyway he’s now down to last attempt – changing a sensor – if that doesn’t work , then Vauxhall will have won.

All this has meant he’s been using my car a lot and my petrol budget for the month is well and truly blown. Not only that, but on Saturday in Cambridgeshire on the way to Whittlesey Straw Bear, a lorry threw up a ‘boulder’ and I now have a large bullet type hole and some very long cracks in my windscreen. It’s going to be fixed tomorrow but I have £100 excess to pay. So much for all my budgeting.

We had a really good day at Whittlesey [ if you discount the broken windscreen]. It was cold but thermals under my jeans and jumper seem to have worked and I didn’t feel too cold. Watching the straw bear dance was interesting – he certainly must have been very fit to dance with all that straw weighing him down. Pretty Grim [ Harry’s border morris side] had a slow start to the day but finished with some excellent dancing on their last spot outside the Letter B pub.
Just been disturbed by the postman bringing the two Spot flap books I’ve ordered as part of Ella’s birthday present. She loves Spot so I think these are going to be well read. This week I need to sort out all the things I have to take for her birthday party on Saturday, make her card and wrap her presents. Also need to make Harry’s daughters’ cards and sort out presents for them – will be a busy week.

As to my budgeting in 2012, this is having its ups and downs. My grocery shopping budget is going fine and I have spent very little since Christmas but all my other budgets keep getting hit by unexpected events. Latest [after the windscreen] is now the breadmaker that is making crunching noises when kneading. I am unsure what to do about all this as I feel I may have gone into this 2012 budget challenge too deeply and really should have taken it slowly. The time for decision making has come. I am wondering if I should not be quite so harsh with myself and just take it step by step.

Another reason perhaps to ease off pressure on the budget challenge is that I don’t seem to have been able to find the energy/willpower/motivation to go back to my weight loss programme. I put on about 5lb over Christmas and it still hasn’t gone. Since I know my weight affects my health, I must do something this week to tackle this situation especially as I am not feeling too good at the moment. My chest is painful and my stomach is rather unsettled. Actually writing all this down has made me decide – I am going to cut back on being so hard on the budget and concentrate just on the grocery budget, watching household fuel consumption, and on my weight loss and fitness programme. Wow – I’ve made a decision!!

Really must stop now and go and get some of the dreaded housework done – see you all soon. xx

Thursday, 12 January 2012

2012 Grocery Budget Challenge

Today I have been doing a stock take of the freezer and have started on the cupboards. Have the basis for 45 meals in the freezer so with the addition of vegetables that should cover until approx end of Feb for our main meals. As to the storecupboard , it is embarrassing how much there is - 20 + tins of soup; loads of pasta, rice, coucous; 16 tins of beans; 15 tins of tomatoes ; 8 tins of sweetcorn; 7 stirfry sauces;21 cup a soups; and there's loads more as I haven't finished yet.  It should be even possible to stretch into March without doing any big shop, especially as I also have 4 packs of sausages, lots of cheese and 14 eggs in the fridge.

So far I have spent £39. 47 on food since January 1st. Aim is now to spend no more than an average of £20 a week til at least March 10th. As my annual budget works out at £35 a week, that will really help when I come to restock the freezer. When that happens I want to buy all the ingredients and make up lots and lots of meals to put in the freezer. Wish me luck......

How are you trying to cut grocery spending this year?

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

4th January 2012

Have woken up feeling really cold – don’t seem to have mastered the central heating controls. I know what I need to do to rectify the situation but doing it is another matter. Why can’t they make instructions easy to follow?
The bread I made last night is gorgeous. It was a cheating packet mix – sun dried tomato one. I am slicing it with the electric slicer so am getting really thin slices but 3 slices for breakfast is a bit much , don’t you think?  I seem to have lost a bit off the bottom of the breadmaking pan, which will stop it working. Harry has said he will sort it for me – it’s good being married to an engineer!!
 Have listed 6 items on ebay last night and already have 5 followers on 3 items and a bid on another item. Would really like to make £50 from these items but am unsure whether that is actually possible. Have quite a few other items to list so hopefully will manage to get some of that done later today.
Why is it so difficult to get going when it’s cold? I know that if I move my fat butt from this chair and start moving I’ll get warmer but can’t seem to get motivated. Will someone please give me a kick.