Sunday, 19 December 2010

Day 198: Choices choices

Oooh a nice big extra mortgage cheque arrived this week. I'm scared of it. We've got enough to buy the land next to our house, do something small with it/ sort out the kitchen/ sort out the bathroom/ pay off some debts. Too many things there to choose from... aaaagh! But its kind of a nice problem to have... already spent an hour on today educating myself on prices of patio doors, cooker hoods and basins! Exciting times! Anyway... The first spend actually comes out of my own pocket money... on a tub of white tile paint - seems sorting the bathroom out is going to be a simple cosmetic short term facelift at the bargain price of £11.99. So today I will be mostly standing in the bath splatting paint in my hair :)

Monday, 13 December 2010

Day 197: Brain Freeze

Well there are so many things I want to blog about and so many sums going round my head... but I seem to have brain freeze about them all. I just cant seem to bring myself to sit down with pen and paper and add up some sums that I just need to do.
Today, after the few weeks Ive had the biggest issue I want to allow myself to worry about is snow boots.
Snow boots cost around £25. Decathlon has some good ones - I got them nice and early for my kids as I knew they'd sell out on the first snow day. they did and I was right. I didn't think of getting any for me. It snowed and in my wellies with 4 paits of socks including 1 pair of Joel's thermal socks my feet really froze and I really suffered. I was so jealous of my children's boots. I didnt want to spend £25 and by the time I made it down to Decathlon to 'look at them' they had all sold out. They have some now and apparently its going to snow again this week. Hmmmmm... to snow boot or not to snow boot :S

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Day 196: The goodbye

Despite me being quite cross at the time Joel went out last week and bought a new car. Having had ours fixed and finding out it had been in a really bad accident before that the previous owner didnt tell us AND which didn't show up on the search we shall probably not be going near any independent sellers again - why can you just not trust people!? So Joel took at out last Saturday and swapped it with quite a few pennies for a Honda CR-V... yes a 4x4 to cope with the snow that began the very next day. Seems a bit frivolous but Joel did his research to find the most economic and fact is we live right on the edge of Sheffield, exposed to the elements and everywhere is a hill. The minute snow arrives we are stuck in. Turns out it was a good time to get it as on Tuesday Beth and I left for Luton and very nearly didn't get home the following night. Sheffield was totally covered... well covered and up to knee high in snow. The drive between Nottingham and my door was the scariest drive I have ever had to do and I would have just abandoned the Focus right at the start of that section. It was crazy seeing so many cars abandoned on motorway roundabouts. Anyway it made it a possible for us to make an important decision late Thursday night about whether we could dig the car out again and make it to Ipswich for a very important time with the family. And our brill new car got us there.
Joshua, our new little nephew had been born poorly. Right the way through the pregnancy they had been monitoring his heart and were worried he might not make it. He did make it and after a few operations at birth he was doing brilliantly and looking strong and healthy, and extremely beautiful... and a very cherished special part of the family. 2 weeks ago today we got a message to say that Joshua's heart had suddenly stopped and they were at the hospital trying to revive him. He had actually just been taken in because his mum and dad were a little concerned about his feeding. They were weening him and he'd been eating well but seemed a little off his milk. Grandma and Granddad were staying and so took the other 3 boys off to the seaside leaving his mum and dad to both go together to have him checked up. All seemed fine and there were no problems but all of a sudden as they were taking him out of the room he started to make a noise he hadn't made before and was quickly taken for more checks. As he lay on the drs table he squeezed his mums hand and his little 5 month old heart stopped. They tried for a long time but couldn't revive him and all we can do is trust that God chose the right time to take him. His mum and dad were both there, they were at the hospital already when panic set in so they know they got help for him instantly, but for some reason his body just didn't want to go on. I can't even imagine what that moment would have been like for them. I don't think there can be anything worse.
So we are so glad that, despite the snow almost stopping us, we were able to stand, in the snow, at the side of the lake he loved to be walked down to and share in the memorial with our precious family...but are so very sad that he's not here.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Day 195: Practical Christmas

Well no its not even December yet STILL but most of my presents have been wrapped for a good few weeks now and are making me happy in shiny packages under the stairs. Crashing the car into a bollard was not the wisest thing to do in November - a month before Christmas - but being resourceful means Christmas can still go ahead!
I'm finally thankful to my parents for being brought up with very practical Christmas'. When I was younger I didn't know of anything different and I never understood that there were children that would write a list and actually get something off it. When I was well into being a teenager I do remember being slightly surprised at my mum who would happily wrap up half used sellotape and random items from around the house for our stockings... and one Christmas she took my brothers lynx shower gel (which he'd actually bought himself and was half used) out of the shower and wrapped it up for him. He was annoyed for a few days that he couldnt find it anywhere before opening his stocking on Christmas morning!
So I feel confident that not buying a billion toys is not going to harm my children's enjoyment of Christmas and I am so very proud of them anyway that they haven't even asked for anything of the sort. Not that I'd really dare do this outside of the close family, but reusing and mending and wrapping old things is a perfectly brilliant idea. Last year I was actually genuinely excited when Joel had welded my old GHDs together. They'd been broken and in 'the broken things draw' for about 4 years. He welded them as best as he could and presented them in a recycled envelope box and I was actually excited. They're very rickety now and almost ready for the bin BUT thats a whole year of using them that Ive been able to get out of a resourceful activity. Our kids are mad about climbing at the moment and want climbing shoes. They cost about £30 - which as any parent will know is a LOT to spend on a childs shoe when they need that much spending on their school shoes as well as needing plimsoles, trainers, play shoes, ballet and tap shoes which all need to be changed every few as Joel reckons really tight plimsoles are just as good for climbing as anything else I'm happy to wrap up their outgrown £2.50 plimsoles with some climbing chalk and give them those!
Other than that...? Top of my daughters list A4 paper. Yes. Actually true. She is NOT deprived and has plenty of toys and things to do as well as access to the A4 paper supply but that's what she's asking Father Christmas for so if she's good I think she just might get!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

1, 2 and 3

I keep meaning to get my calculator out, a big notepad and all the bank balances out and get back to this. Having realised haven't done that I reckon I just start somewhere and even with no information of where I am up to I know 3 things.
1. I'm still not in a good financial place
2. The above picture is what I STUPIDLY did to the car on a bollard which has added another £648 onto the yukky debt
3. When I put my mind to something I can achieve it.
I'm going to forget about 2, remember no 1 when I'm at the shops and get on with no 3 in mind.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Day 193: Pay Day!!

Woop for a pay cheque of £499 this month... That is GOOD! Maybe not for most people but thats a good month for us! Plus I'm currently listening to the album to sign it off for manufacturing this week so its an exciting day in the world of my work!
Might have a new mortgage - that might save us some money... not getting my hopes up this time but watch this space!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Day 192: The last month of ugh

The last month I have not wanted to look at the balance, I have not wanted to care about wise decisions or investing for the future. I ave wanted to be an ostrich and bury my head in the sand. After my really excited post about the mortgage and the land and finally there being a positive break for us it all just fell apart. What happened was that for some reason the bank decided to actually change their mind and say no. So apparently we don't earn enough money to borrow more to buy the land. Fair enough... could have said that before... nevermind...let it go. Also we don't earn enough to change the mortgage to a variable so that we're paying less interest. Aparently we deserve to be punished and forced to pay more just for not having enough. Fab! :| It was at this point of the battle that I decided to have a rest and say cba to it all. Having said that I haven't gone mad, I've not bought anything crazy and I'm still ploughing on... but for the last month with much less enthusiasm.
Today I'm feeling more positive and ready to move forward again. My bank balance today was really confusing... Without spending more than normal on anything in particular we're already at the end of the overdraft by the 10th of the month - thankfully I've been able to transfer expenses over etc and cover us but its made me aware its time for a new spreadsheet... :) yay!
So things on the TTD list... remortgage somehow, buy the land somehow, pay off the credit card, tell you about the party budgets, tell you about my amazing surprise birthday treat this weekend :)

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Day 191: Phew

Good news is that the pay cheque has arrived... and also thanks to a very wonderful family we are now paid a steady £100 extra a month... taking my very basic - if there's no bookings month - from £10 to £110... makes a massive difference to have at least a day of our office hours covered! So this month I've earned a healthier £500... meaning I can pay off my overdraft on time ... Phew... thats all.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Day 190: Ups and downs

Yesterday was an up day when I found T shirts in tesco for Elijah's party in packs of 3 reduced to £2. I left Tesco having bought 15 T shirts, all the party bag sweets and a hoody for Elijah all for £16. Happy with that!
Today was a sad day when we heard that our one piece of good financial news on the mortgage is not going to happen as they wont give it to us... sticking with the extra £150 a month then for the time being as our options look a bit crap :(

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Yessssssss... at last!

I'm so relieved to have had a good day financially! Thank you Mr Child Tax Credit... 55.50 to go onto my overdraft... 6 days left now and £287.77 to find... seems manageable and also a wonderful friend has offered to lend me if I cant make it... which I'm going to try not to do but is a nice safety net to know about.
Mr Mortgage Man has just been here... Its time to get off our rubbish fixed rate mortgage and it coincides with hearing back about the land at the side of our house that we've been trying to buy from the council. The story is this...
The council own a piece of waste land next to our house... its overgrown and has some great trees in including the plum tree that we make tonnes of jam from. We asked if we could buy it and they said this - "Its possible and we'll work out a fee but it is likely that we will ask you to pay 50% of anything you add to the value of the house" (not an ACTUAL quote tbh). Hmmmm...? So we pay for the land and pay for an extension...and you are allowed to claim the profit? "Yes... but as soon as the value is added... not when you sell" Right...? So we pay for the land? Yes And the extension? Yes And then we give you some money? Yes. Even though we won't have even made it yet? Yes. Thats a bit tight isn't it? Yes.
So... nice survayor has valued it and helped us to negotiate... They eventually after 8 months offered us the land WITHOUT the tight, ridiculous clause for £11,000... Nice survayor told us to say no - so we did and they've now offered it for £6,000... BETTER!
So... got a meeting with our mortgage advisor today... we decided to extend the mortgage just to get enough for the land... not the extension... yet... (incase I get tempted in Top Shop!... a SENSIBLE decision by ME) So to re-mortgage we get a penalty for switching mortgage, extending our mortgage to buy the land... and our monthly repayments will DROP by £150! Brilliant...Totally brilliant! Finally a bit of positive news in the Toombs house about money!

Monday, 5 July 2010

Day 188: The Robbers

So I'll get back to the party... I need to find a notebook, a calculator and a pen to work through that one... but am in the process of planning Elijah's party with the very real knowledge that there is no budget really :( So the days are coming and going and I still have a very real £366.34 D to clear from my overdraft before it closes down in 7 days! I'm dealing with it in a calm, matter of fact way... and not letting it stress me... but one thing that I'm failing to deal with in such a manner is the parking ticket Joel received for PAYING FOR HIS TICKET BUT NOT PUTTING THE NUMBERPLATE IN - serious!! Sommerfield in Broomhill car park - you are heartless and cruel. They are expecting £100 for THAT. Absolutely sickening... and completely crippling to our bank account. It makes me so mad, makes me feel so completely defeated... we have no choice but to pay that, and be fined bank charges cos we cant afford an extra £100. I hate money. I hate the way the world works and I no longer care.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Day 187: The Wonderland Tea Party

One party down... this was a bit too much fun to organise. So much so that I found myself so preoccupied printing out A4 playing cards to stick onto card to hang from the ceiling and painting some fake white rose bushes red and making mini eat me flags, drink me tags for tea pots and customising individual party bags that I realised the night before that I'd overlooked planning any actual games! Maybe 5 year olds would not simply be satisfied looking at how pretty the decorations were and might need entertaining!? Nevertheless I pulled together a treasure hunt, a red and black 'queen of hearts' pass the parcel and also had some plaster of paris frames to paint and T shirts to decorate with iron-on Alice style t shirt transfers I'd printed off.
So this was Holly's Wonderland Tea Party...
Beth constructed this amazing Mad Hatters cake and I dared to give 5 year olds bits of miss-matching china instead of the usual safe ikea plastic plates. £2 for a whole crate of plates means I dont mind too much if we lose the odd few... but I think they appreciated being able to pour apple juice from tea pots!

The wonderland theme is such a good one for there being a billion ideas for food and games and decorations. It was really hard to stop thinking of amazing and ridiculous ideas and I did consider hiring/constructing giant props to make an area for us all to have shrunk. If I was Victoria Beckham and had her level of party budget it would have been immense! (just as well Holly loved it anyway)

One girl seems to have been so amazed that she told her mum the table moved and the cups and plates danced...hurray for capturing little imaginative minds!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Day 186: Epil Fail...

So thanks for the comment I got today... say it how it is - yes totally - epic fail :) In so many ways.
So here's the picture... Expenses have been piling up and have ended up back on the overdraft I worked so hard to clear. I've just managed this week to get that down from £800 D to £407.64 D but here's the news... I've got till the 12th July to clear that as its time for the overdraft to expire. I'm not going to ask for any more time, I'm not going to extend it or get another one... time to face up and pay it and not have it as a back up plan any longer. 11 days to find the £407.64 and then thats the end of that debt trap forever!

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Day 185: Apologies

I have been rubbish... I've not blogged but worse that that I've not been aware of my money... and its all a bit of a mess. June and July are always the most expensive for us - all the family birthdays and not sure what else means we're always in a bad way at this time of year... however... Elijah's birthday present of a bike has cost us £15 as Joel's snatched up a secondhand one... so that will go some way to helping.
I've also been crazy busy so havent had time to do stuff like claim expenses or look at accounts properly... but tomorrow might just be the day! Ooooh I've got loads to update on... I will get my head in the game and tomorrow will become organised!

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Day 184: Stupid me

Eeeek! Forgot to pay off a store card - which I opened to save me 15% on a skirt. Thought I had a good deal but now the skirt has cost me £12 more than it should have. I have no excuses other than this one... I am stupid. Sorry.
Good job I wear it a lot :S

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Day 183: All you can eat

There's nothing that puts more pressure on than an all you can eat buffet. I'm constantly reminded by my parents how they spent a small fortune on a really posh one in Paris when I was little and all I ate was a piece of bread and some gravy. Last night we went out for a friends birthday and for an all you can eat indian. I knew that being someone who can't eat a whole curry from a normal curry house I wasn't very optimistic so I made an even sillier mistake and missed lunch (thinking I'd be hungrier - did the opposite and took my appetite away completely. Last night I paid £15 for a few pieces of lettuce, a quarter of a tomato, an onion baji, 2 small pieces of chicken (which was all part of the starter) and by the time we got to the buffet main part I was too full to eat any of it and managed to force about 3 mouthfuls in.
Ah well, at least I offset the cost by wearing a free dress :)

Friday, 14 May 2010

Day 182: sorting out

Last weekend I started a big clear out. I'm still at the same place I left it on Saturday night... and hopefully I'll get some time this weekend to carry on. There is too much stuff in our house... and there is too much stuff in my life to give me time to clear out some of the stuff from the house. But how do you know what to keep or throw out?
Its a tough call in every part of life... which events or committments do we cut out of our diaries, which friends to we cull from our facebook, which old friends who we're friends with on facebook do we ignore when we see them out in real life and which do we connect with, which old clothes to throw out and which to keep...agh... its so impossible to decide all these things! I did bump into a facebook friend today actually and thankfully my mouth decided to call her name before my brain had chance to tell it that it would be easier to just look down and not get into a conversation. I'm glad I did... old friends can be really interesting to talk to even if you doubt they'll ever really be a part of your life again. And tomorrow I'm going swimming with a new friend. Thankfully she's a good enough friend to be able to be honest with about the fact I am actually dreading having to go swimming with her as she is 6 foot and the thinnest most glamorous person you could ever meet in real life. I'm also thankful that, although I have tried to find a happy new swimming costume over the last 10 years, I never did throw out my trusty one and still have my Oasis costume I got in the sale when I was in Y11. I may look like the 'fat friend' tomorrow but at least I'll be comfy! Sometimes keeping the old things is good. :) maybe I'll go easy on myself in the clear out schedule tomorrow.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Day 181:

Well I was all ready to write a post last night but instead my evening went like this...
Finish writing my song (for work)
record my song... finish recording... go to listen back... song starts... song unexpectedly stops... garageband does nothing for 5 minutes... I get impatient and shut it down... work is lost... open it up... record my song... repeat for most of the night.
This was interspersed with some moments of learning my lesson and clicking save somewhere in that process but in the end the whole easy little 5 minute job took me until half past midnight.
Still... I have met my deadline of having the demo ready for today and I'm relieved to have a basis for this one... Its been tough to write as this song was started by someone else and they wanted me to use a set melody... so all I needed to do was set words into that. I find that is the hardest way to write. It can be quite restrictive and difficult to get the scanning of syllables to flow and sound right. Still I am reasonably happy with it... but I'm quite ready for a break from it after a tough few weeks feeling stuck... will be happy to take it to an open table and rip it to shreds if need be. Have a cold. Here starts friday!

Monday, 3 May 2010

Day 180: Train fare

£15 spent on a train over to Manchester today... I've been in the car over that way for too much in the past few days but the train is different. Today was about thinking and praying and processing stuff. The train is the best place for that... £15 well spent... Me, my bag containing purse, keys, notebook, bible, i pod and pen and no paint rollers or baby wipes. Every mum needs a day like that every so often. (with a trip to paperchase thrown in mid thinking)

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Day 179: Promised

Well a few people have rightly told me off for not blogging. Its not the only thing... I'm behind on the washing, the Wii fit, the shopping and all sorts of other things - a sign that I need a holiday! Well tomorrow I'm having a bit of a retreat day... a chance to spend the day with coffees and a notebook. I feel like I've not had any proper thinking space for ages and I'm looking forward to it. Sitting on a train is always good for starting that off and sitting on a train is also necessary as I lead into the next money update.
Friday night we went over to Roots Conference, Southport. It was a good night but we ended up leaving late and I finally got home at about 3.30am - far too tired and I never want to drive that late again. I can stay awake till 3.30 but when you have to get up for children at 7 and then the space between midnight and 3.30 you're staring at a dark road an the three other people in the car are all getting sleep its pretty much torture. The most awake moment of the journey was being pulled over by the police... they were nicely doing that thing when they have no one to chase so they type in random numberplates and check the details as they drove past and ten minutes later had waited to pull me over. My darling husband had forgotton to get the MOT done so three months out of date and I come home at 3.30am with a nice £60 fine. Great :(

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Day 178: Dust myself off and start again

Here's a dusty hat... I resoircesfully remembered my mum had bought this hat about 15 years ago. We laughed at her and said it was ridiculous and that she couldn't seriously wear it... in a 'oh- my mums so embarassing' sort of way... only our is actually quite embarrassing. So yesterday after work I had a couple of hours to do some baking and make a wonderland costume... I was gutted to have lost/sold/given away my red dress which I'd banked on using for the base of a queen of hearts outfit and so suddenly had a mild stress... remembered mums hat and rang up grovelling. Big sticky out black skirt, stripy golddigger vest top, major backcombing and black eye makeup, hat arrives and phew - we have some sort of mad hattery goth esq me!
I've been all over the place over the past few weeks. Spring Harvest had exhausted me and I'm not quite back into the swing of life... in fact its hard to be in the swing of anything when a suitcase has exploded all over the floor and I cant get out of bed without standing on spring harvest washing... so time to get that sorted! I also have had a total freeze in income until yesterday. I've not blogged as theres been nothing but nothing to say. However... some cheques have come in and I want to carry on carrying on with this. So today...operation 'get my life sorted'. Starting with washing and deep conditioning my hair!

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Day 177: A bit of summertime

I can't see the screen all that well but I'm getting a good dose of vitamin D out in the garden while the sun shines just a bit and I've been doing a bit of party planning. We're all still in the honeymoon period with the Wii but I'm loving it so far... I'm justifiably achy to count prabably 2 months of gym membership towards the cost... I know I've done more excersise than I would ever motivate myself to do in the real world all thanks to wanting to be top of the score board!
So I was all set up to do some craft with the kids. At the shops the other day we went off to H&M to buy them each a plain summer T shirt. 1.99. And a pack of T shirt transfer paper. £11.99 for 10 A4 sheets from WH smiths. The idea come when I loved the simplicity of this T shirt. (Its from I love that site - however this T shirt costs more than I would pay for a kids t shirt) So the plan was to make our own version of something similar... probably not 'elvis' but we'll have a think on that... However... yesterday Elijah wanted to try his on... stupidly I let him and forgot at tea that he was still wearing it...huge spoonful of yoghurt all down his new black T shirt...and literally 2 minutes after I'd set the last wash going... so that plan will have to wait till later. But it has given me a party plan idea. I went to a T shirt decorating party when Holly was 2... she loved it but I happen to know that that one activity as well as typical junk party food and a party bag full of plastic rubbish cost my friends £16 a head for that. Worse than the cost was the fact that this 'T shirt decorating party' at £16 a head had supplied what we thought would have been fabric pens - but no - apparently, as we all found out an iron and a wash later, they'd just stuck a load of ordinary felt tips on the table... so sad children all round!
So... plan 1: My pet peeve is rubbish in a plastic bag. I don't judge other people on their party bags... but I won't be paying to send children home with things to go strait in the bin. Why should I? Last year mine contained planting seeds (mixed with glitter as it was a woodland fairy party) hair clips I made myself and reading books amongst a few sweets to keep them happy in the car!
My strength is the making activities and being creative so I do tend to spend a lot on having nice stuff to do and make. Last year we made fairy wands from chop sticks, cardboard flowers, wooden flowers and glitter, did hair braiding with real ribbon (about 1.50 for 20m from lardystick on ebay...AMAZING value) and did facepainting. So this year lets simplify and bring it together...I have 2 parties in 1 month so the aim is to cost it down... If we do T shirt decorating at the party then the finished product can make the bulk of the party bag... would that work? 1 beautiful summery T shirt, a few sweets and a piece of cake all wrapped up in a nice brown paper bag and personalised by the birthday boy and girl... (Which is also another afternoon of activity ideas right there for a rainy day). Should keep the mums and the kids happy?
Need: Pre-printed objects/ letters/ pictures onto transfer paper (my chance to be resourceful and creative (aprox 20p per child) 1 T shirt per child (1.99 at the most) piece of cake (ummm...depends what I make but not many pennies for that) small bag of sweets (10p) Brown paper bag (2p) Bits of ribbon and card for labels (5p?) So cost at the most for party bag AND 1 activity £2.40 per child... For the same price (excluding delivery) if I was to get in pre filled party bags I'd get ...
For the girls... but only the pen OR pencil

Or for the boys...

I think I like my idea better.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Day 176: A bit side tracked

Well... I thought asking Joel to come with me to Sainsburys today (for our 'quality time afternoon' as the children were out at a friends house) would mean I did a more efficient shop... however we ended up buying a Wii. Not even just a Wii but also a Wii fit. We have wanted one for a while - especially since I've given up my gym membership - and bought a hummingbird cafe recipe book - the combination of those 2 things is surely no good for my body! So yikes - what a huge spend - but as Joel is nearly able to also quite the gym and also has some good writing money coming in this month that'll have to cover it... not a healthy credit card balance then... but hopefully healthier bodies!

Monday, 29 March 2010

Day 175: Up hill slog

Everything feels like an up hill slog at the moment... but lets talk about money... I'm not sure why but its just so hard to pay any money off at the moment... it seemed so quick to pay off the first amount and theoretically the rest should be at a quicker pace since I should be paying less interest why am I only just treading water with it?! Its tiring and monotonous and doesn't motivate me to keep going... but basically I'll have to so lets just keep going... but no exciting updates of the money... balance is £8 - payday tomorrow hopefully :(

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Day 174: Done

Here is me in my office. The main task of the day was to write a new song... I'd started it and it was all a jumble in my head and here I was obviously playing on photobooth as I'd got writers block and couldn't think what to do and Beth was off chattering with Kate. However now it is done. A few little tweaks in the scanning and recording of it in the morning when I can sing it properly without waking the children and then I just have to send it off for the verdict. I feel a satisfied almost at completion feeling with it :)
Another completion news is that St Toms have decided to end their prayers for Catherine to be raised...They say "We sense that the time of pressing in for a miracle was entirely right but now it’s time to release Catherine to Jesus. We are thankful for her life. Please pray for us as a community as we start to grieve and remember Ronan her husband and the two families in your prayers. Thank you for standing with us." It is really sad... a really really sad thing to happen but I've never seen a group of people act so inspirationally. The people in that church gave everything to rally round and stand firmly as a real family, showing the most amazing support I have ever witnessed. One of the girls from there just posted this on the facebook wall
"It has been incredible to see how as a body of believers we reacted to this tradgedy. philly will never be the same. i never realised how like a family we are, and i am so thankful to be part of it. catherine will not be forgotten."

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Day 173: Still...

People everywhere seems to be having a hard time...but in hard times friends pull together... and I'm glad to be pulled on.
We're still praying for Catherine... for some reason her death doesn't feel right and people all over the world now have been moved to pray for her. Its a miracle in itself that the hospital haven't rushed the postmortem and are allowing a big delay...and even more unheard of that people from the church have access to go in to pray with the body and the whole place is talking about it. Joel has been in and he only ever met her once! Things do happen in dead bodies and its not uncommon for them to move but I've heard that people have felt flutters of pulse... not strong ones but flutters, there has been heat felt in her body by a few people and 2 accounts of tears running down her face. That in particular is not something that happens. Wouldn't it be amazing...

Monday, 22 March 2010

Day 172: Wierd week

Sometimes I think we can get through life just following simple patterns and getting on with it giving thought to God and saying that He is central but essentially just doing what we hope is the right thing... other times its really clear he wants to intervene and do something that's very much his call - and wants us to know that. I don't understand whats going on at the moment but everything somehow is all very surreal and significant but I can't say that I get any of it. This month has been hard... This weekend has been personally one of the hardest most emotional times I think I've ever had... but for no apparent reason... I just feel broken. Thursday Joel went out to meet some new people... He's been meeting up to discuss some new ideas with a network called the Pioneer network which is essentially a group of Christians who are committed to being pretty radical and living out their faith in ways that reach out to people in the real world... it was a pretty significant day but also for no apparent reason 3 different people during that day gave him a word for our family that were all very accurate but also a bit criptic but all the same. The next day we got another message from someone else to both of us with the same thing... none of those people knew each other or had seen us in ages...2 had never met us before. Also on that Thursday Joel met one of the girls from that group called Catherine... 26 and a full time evangelist... yesterday we heard she had collapsed and died suddenly and for no apparent reason. Tonight Joel's over at their church with loads of people praying we see her raised from the dead. The hospital are holding off her autopsy because of a church full of people believing that's not the end of her life here... people think that alice in wonderland is surreal... seems pretty tame right now... I'm just praying that God does do what I have no doubt that he can do...

Friday, 19 March 2010

Day 171: Good making day

Todays been good. I've not earned anything but today we've written 2 new songs and had a good old creative morning. Tonight I'm home armed with NOISE to carry on writing I've created a conference pack all ready to send out and I've had an evening with some interesting networking things...meanwhile Joel is making a cup of tea :) and a mess :( as he came home with a 'sofa cushion to make smaller' so he's hacking up a sofa as we speak with an electric carving knife that he's borrowed from somewhere... So I'm sat playing fuzzy noise and Joels carving sofas like a mad man... just a normal day at the office.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Day 170: Little steps

Just cos we like to keep things moving... squeezed another tenner out of there and we're up to £1356.49 D. Goodo. What is baddo is ANOTHER THREE SCAMMING EMAILS today! They're kind of giving the game away by sending 5 in 2 days all the same. Bad job scammers... you can't have my debt, sorry.
Have many expenses due too though... new golddigger t shirts, vests and hoodies on their way though... so very exciting... plus I get to have a free one of all of those things!

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Day 169: Scamming

So what I am annoyed about today is the constant constant attempts from evil HSBC lookalike sites sending me emails in an attempt to scam me out of my log in details. I feel harassed and targetted and they are so very sneaky. I am very careful and I know not to follow links from emails from my bank - HSBC are, despite my previous issues with them, good at telling you not to link from emails and that they will never ask you certain information. But I do click on the links to see how near to being convinced I might be if I wasn't so careful. Last week there was one from a mock up of the site and the url was very sneaky. Today's scam was 2 emails to tell me that my account had been locked due to too many failed log ins... it said...

Dear HSBC Online User,

We regret to inform you that access to your online account has been locked.

This happened because of too many failed log-in attempts.

To restore your online account access you can:

1. Visit your local branch and complete the Unlock My Account form (takes several days)

2. Complete the Unlock My Account form online, by downloading and completing the attached form (instant)

Quality service and the security of your account are of great importance to us.

We appreciate each opportunity to serve you.


Customer Service

Please do not reply to this e-mail.

Copyright © HSBC Bank plc 2002 - 2010

From the email sender HSBC and then 10 mins later one from HSBC Bank saying basically the same thing but slightly more urgent saying

Dear HSBC Bank Customer,

Your Internet Banking security code was entered incorrectly more than 3 times.
For the protection of your account we have suspended access to it.
To restore access please Log In correctly.
Previous notifications have been sent.

Thank you for choosing HSBC Bank UK..
Copyright HSBC Bank UK PLC 2010. All rights reserved.

So the link on the second sends me to a mock up of the site... at not the right address and the other gives me a nice attachment to download where I can enter all my important log in information and send it off to them. Ewwwww. It makes me feel horrid that people are just out there to scam you...and it makes everyone so cautious of everyone else. I hate getting those phonecalls when the bank call you on your home phone but they can't talk to you in case its not you and you don't want to talk to them in case its not them...
Anyway... they're not that clever... If they really did their homework they could find out within 2 minutes that I PUBLISH MY BANK BALANCE here on my blog and THEY WONT GET RICH BY ACCESS TO MY ACCOUNT!!!!!

Tesco card £1366.49 D... I just paid off a nice £200 on it. More to come!!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Day 168: Getting somewhere

So after my rather ranty last two posts it seems God must read my blog... I've just had a wonderful parents evening where Holly's teacher has nothing much to say to us as she is just doing really well in all areas of school. I decided to hang on before I tackle the soup issue with school - I'd rather keep sending her with it for as long as I can before they categorically tell me (again) that I must not do it...and then I'll have the debate...rather than have it now and potentially lose and then I may lose a few soup days. But I did talk to her teacher about the 'negative on the pack lunch issue'. I did say I didn't like the way they were told they were not as healthy and the unfairness that there are loads of reward schemes for school dinner eaters... Holly does not get a dinner sticker ever because they only go to the school dinnerers. So Holly's teacher is taking the issue to the head and is going to suggest they introduce 'healthy pack lunch' stickers for those guys. Great. Came away feeling quite positive until I get in the car and find out that Holly got told off for having soup again today and apparently she told the head 'just what you said, Mum' :S Oh no and oh well! When I asked her what she said to her she did a great job of retelling my whole rant but missed out the bit I told her she should say... the important information being... 'but my soup is not hot' Just as well I don't mind confrontation! I just may be confronted very soon!
Also having said all that in the post before about bookings... we've today just been booked for a nice big national conference that we were hoping we'd get into. We thought if anything we'd get a short slot somewhere among a lot of other bands, that they'd probably ask us to play for expenses and we'd not be able to take the full band... na, they've asked us to headline their main night and are paying the full amount and its that easy! See... God reads my blog!!! ;) and thanks massively to John from Myspoon for his recommendation!
Next months pay cheque that I've just put in for is enough to cover 4/5 of our mortgage! Amazing help and makes life feel more manageable. Celebrating a nice day by getting loads of my work done tonight and making a carrot cake to have my neighbour over for coffee tomorrow...something it has taken about 6 months to get around to arranging! Money update on its way this evening too! :)

Monday, 15 March 2010

Day 167: Slightly outraged... and then motivated

So pay cheque arrived trhough the door yesterday - YESSSSSSSSSSSS That means I can get this show on the road and start climbing the debt mountain again.
Annoyed that as I spent all of yesterday afternoon cooking and prepping for this week Holly told me at breakfast that she'd been told off again for having soup in her packed lunch last week as she's not allowed it in case there was an accident.
I'd understand this if I were sending her in with a mini gas stove... but I'm not... I'm sending her in with a small pot of tepid soup... no, it's not something many children would be willing to eat but if I happen to have an amazingly good child let me use her! What I am livid about is that today as Holly sits there with her homemade leek and potato soup (containing red onion, garlic, leek potato and water and a bit of boulion) with a slice of homemade wholewheat bread with sundried tomatoes and mixed seeds in, a drink of water, a pot of blueberries and apple and a small carrot, apple and raisin bun... she will be told categorically that the kids eating their school meal of pasta, cheese and rice with sponge and custard are eating more healthily.
We don't go for school meals because they cost more than we can afford. £1.85 a day adds up to a lot and given the choice I'd also refuse to pay that for a pile of carbs with side portion of carbs... and a pudding of carbs. Carbs are healthy... if balanced with other things... but also it seems evident that carbs are cheap and eaten up by fussy children. I don't need to feed Holly with sponge with jam in just to get a portion of fruit in her... that seems like the long way round. I do understand the general principle as most kids do turn up with cheese strings, cheddars and a ketchup sandwich and will site off that its nutricious because of the tomatoes and the cheese. Thats because so few people actually understand anything about what they eat... Nothing makes me madder than hearing a preacher come down heavy on the values of keeping their life in order and being good stewards of their finance, their characters and their homes but then make reference to drinking coke or eating mcdonalds... esp if they've clearly eaten far too many. Coke is used to clean up blood after road accidents - how is putting something so errosive in your body being a good steward of what you've been given? I just don't get why there is such a lazy attitude towards nutrician. You can invest into giving generously, the work you do, the relationships you have, the home you can share with people and everyone seems to be united in attitude towards doing those things... but don't invest into your own body and you cut your own life short meaning you fail at investing into all those other amazing things to. If we've truly given over our lives as living sacrifices why do we not treat them as they need to be treated... not treat our greedy nature that likes the taste of things even if they're harmful to what we've been given. Do we give a petrol car diesel? no. Do we add jam to the petrol? no. Do we process it and put a cartoon character on the front? no.
I think I may head up to school early today and have another chat about the soup issue.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Day 165: Mothers Day

:) Its back to being the best time of year... I just love how nice and bright our lounge is in the summer with the garden doors open on a nice day. Our family tradition on each of our birthdays is to have croissants for breakfast in the garden... I love it. Yesterday in the sunshine it reminded me how much I really do love that.
I'd discounted a huge bunch of mothers day flowers. I thought they'd be too expensive and extravagant spending. I don't normally get any but this year they all looked so pretty and I just for a few minutes thought about how nice it would be to get a really beautiful vase of flowers to put in the lounge and tidy up the coffee table so that it wasn't covered in Holly's class lists that she insists on writing a hundred of every day. So then I realised that actually if a big bunch of flowers was going to make me happy for at least the week it would be better and actually cheaper to do that as my mothers day treat rather than do the traditional thing everyone else seems to do of going out for a meal. I'm just not a foodie - so I hate how much a meal out spends on food. I don't enjoy a good meal any more than I'd enjoy some homemade bread and soup so whats the point in going somewhere dark and dingy to pay loads for a meal when actually what would be the best thing in the world right now is flowers that I love looking at and the kids to make us a snacky lunch (with help from Dad) so thats what we've done today... we treated ourselves to bagels and wensleydale with cranberry - for a change from full flavour value cheddar - salad and fruit. Had a picnic in our lounge with the flowers close by :) Happy day.
Its also a happy day as I am totally blessed to have the most amazing and beautiful children ever... as well as a wonderful mum of my own who now has moved on from knitting hats (now that we have about 500 wooly hats too many) and now can make cardigans for the children too - for that I am grateful... and she too has some new nice flowers.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Day 164: The politics that snuck in...

... Politics are a funny thing... you kind of know lots of places you're affected by them and they are in every situation but sometimes its a bit harsh when you realise you're goverened by politics in places you through you shouldn't be. As Golddigger we try to escape certain Church politics by the fact that we're not linked to any one Church. Sheffield churches have a history of disunity... and though there are so many great people working against that it still happens and we've done quite well to work to have good relationships with any and every church and they seem happy to work with us as we don't officially belong to any one Church. Beth and I go to different Churches and that seems to help things. Our values are kingdom values and we exist as a band to promote a message and to resource schools and 'the Church' in its entirety.
We've ended up having loads of conversations with people in the last few days through wierdly that all end up on the same topic... how its impossible to be an independent Christian artist. Well... maybe not impossible... but its like climbing a travellator thats going very fast in the opposite direction maybe. Now's the time of year we need to get festival bookings. While we love managing ourselves and having the freedom to direct our own work it does mean we have to do all of that side of the work ourselves... What we're annoyingly coming up against is that artists on labels get all the slots and its impossible to get a foot in of you're not coming from one of the big manufacturers... Its a bit like what happens with X factor and the Christmas no 1... which I don't think is all that right and certainly shouldn't happen in the Christian music industry should it? We've just spent the day with the boys from Myspoon... who've 'officially' split up now but we're leading worship with those guys at Spring Harvest next month so had a practice day for that. Having established themselves as one of the only independent acts to have pushed through that rubbish ceiling they were telling us about how they'd tried to get after hours slots at various conferences and were never allowed them even though there was demand for them from fans. One conference they were given one slot and packed out a venue with over 800 people while another artist was given 3 different slots (being signed to the right label) even though they only pulled a crowd of 25 to each venue. How is that fair?
We've been waiting on a conference for a slot and have recently found out we can't have one as they've now been taken up by the label artists. When you look at who's taken those slots its somewhat frustrating that 4 of them are splitting up and finishing this year and one of which finished over 6 months ago... but they are pulling back old members to use the slot to probably shift a load of left over albums from the warehouse... Another of the artists has been launched in the last 3 months, has about 3 songs to perform and no fan base... but being launched by a nice well known label means the right contacts to walk into big opportunities... minimum work required. Whatever happened to the ethos of grafting and having integrity? I don't get how the Christian music industry gets away with such unethical values.
Grrrrr...anyway... lovely Myspoon boys are trying to help us get a good slot at another conference... not because they have label loyalty to us but because they know us and they know what we do... and are legitimately reccomending us... THATS what it should be all about. And yes this post may be a bit angry and bitter but I'm not really... when it comes down to it I wouldn't trade having integrity over opportunity. I just think its sad that in an industry that should be teaching good values (and having spent the last 3 months touring and challenging young people that the stuff they get fed from the media is a lot of fake rubbish) The prime slots taken up in Christian conference gigs are taken up by artists that have been chosen and launched in undercover Simon Cowell style, don't write any of their own music and worst of all MIME... How is that any different to airbrushing, cosmetic surgery and media manipulation exactly?! I think I'm starting to feel as passionately about this as my hatred of McDonalds.

Disclaimer: A lot of these people involved are very nice and I have no beef with any individuals.. I have what is called 'rage against the machine'.

Tired rant after a very long and busy week over.

Day 163: Deleted post

The blog for the 12th March has been written in my head and then deleted... the only thing I ranted about was a situation today involving people that made me angry and shocked at utter incompetence. I must stop explaining right there. However we had a gig tonight... performed our best and the young people that came were brill.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Day 162:

I've not written for a good few days. After my last post I feel somewhat disillusioned with a few things and have also been really busy a long side having a few sulky days and falling off the wagon a little. Needless to say I have a new coat, dress, shorts and top.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Day 161:

Sometimes you just feel led in a certain direction, you follow it, where you have been crumbles away from you and there's going back. Then the open door you're heading for slams shut in your face. Then there's no where to go and nowhere to be other than stuck in front of a closed door. Defeated and sad.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Day 160: Update

Well cheques have almost cleared... some have and some have not but I've re paid off the petrol I had to put on my overdraft and paid off a nice £300 onto the medium credit card... taking us from £1,903.49 D to £1,603.49 D... not bad in one day (although actually its a bit depressing that if that 9 had just accidentally spun round all by itself I would have got there much easier ... it doesnt LOOK as exciting a change as £300 should do really does it!)

So the other thing on my mind is that I'm deciding whether I might now end my clothes buying fast. I've actually done 7 months... I could carry on but I'm just not sure if I want to. The only thing keeping me going is that fact that I said a year... I was only challenged to 6 months... but that's the battle of wills that I'm dealing with... do I want to aim too high and fail that... but have got further than I would have? or do I want to succeed in what I set out to do...? Tough one. Its the same thing as deciding to try to pay off 7,000 in 100 days... lets face it... its unlikely (although not impossible) that I'll manage the 6,500 or whatever is left in the next 40 days... but I'm glad I aimed for it. I don't think I mind if I lose... it's the taking part that counts.
So with the clothes thing... I can't afford any anyway... but I like the idea that I could if I happened to come across something amazing then I would be allowed to consider it. Its just no fun thinking 'no I can't have that' and I'm not sure the enjoyment of getting to the end of the year will give me as much enjoyment as I get from thinking about whether or not I can afford something. Eg. Yesterday on the disney website - amazingly cute alice in wonderland dress for £60... Holly would love it for her party. NO WAY would I spend £60 on a child's dress... but I DO actually enjoy that thought process and the freedom to decide no. And here's the other thing... My black boots are knackered... so I started to wear my brown cowboy boots instead and yesterday I noticed a big hole in the side of them :( Now I will get it mended... but I don't want everything I own to fall apart :( I've owned those boots for 6 years and I bought them from asda. I'm not the sort of person with hundreds of shoes... for a posh dress occasion I have aprox 2 pairs of shoes... I NEVER would buy I pair of shoes for a wedding or something... If I had, say, a purple dress for a wedding... well I have burgandy shoes or gold... so neither of them go... so I'd accessorise the dress up a bit and make some sort of gold or burgandy belt just to make the shoes match in a 'this dress is a bit miss matchy and clashing is good' sort of way. In fact for the last wedding I went to I wore my 'hole in the side' cowboy boots and some designy type commented on how she loved how I'd put them together with my dress as though she thought I'd purposefully left my fabulous wedding shoes at home and opted for these as a cutting edge fashion decision. So its not as though I'm just embarrassed to be walking around in 'last seasons shoe' but that if these fall apart then I'm stuck. Also all my shoes (that don't come from asda) are from ebay. This is my shoe rule... find a good shoe wait a month or two... find them on ebay... done! My staple gig shoes are a pair of boots I got as an amazing ebay find just because I knew the shoe, I'd tried them on at £70 in the shop and knew them well... up they come in a really bad photo on ebay and I knew them well enough to recognise them... mine for about £8. I miss savvy opportunistic shopping and I am so good at it!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Day 159:

Well today I paid in £600 I was owed and there's another £300 to come so that will hugely help out... but also indicates just how much I've had to cover on expenses! So all I need now is for that to clear and I can pay off another chunk of debt. Hurrahhhhh.
But... I might end my clothes fast...?

Monday, 1 March 2010

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Day 157: Spending spree

I've just spent £70! Seems like loads and its pretty much all on clothes for Holly... I've not bought her any new clothes for ages...about 2 years ago was when I last stocked up and bought everything big. Everything's starting to look a bit too small and short now so I've splurged in a bit of a sale knowing that a pay cheque is very overdue and another one on the way and for that money managed to get 2 pairs of jeans, 1 pair of denim shorts, 1 pair of boots, 7 long sleeve tops, 3 dresses, 4 pairs of thick leggings and 7 pairs of pants for Elijah...all from Vertbaudet... so I actually think I've done quite well. :)

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Day 156: Good people

Just got back from a gig we did last night in Cornwall so blanket and Saturday night TV rule tonight! So yesterday could have been a disaster sort of day... we set off at 9 from the office and drove for 6 hours with one stop to jump up and down and grab a sandwich and arrived late afternoon for set up in Cornwall. About 10 minutes before we arrived I started to feel really rough. I had a headache, I'd been concentrating on driving for 6 hours and I was fed up of sitting still but then added to all of this I started feeling really sick. I thought 10 mins chilling out at the venue before starting set up would get rid of all that but it just got worse and worse. I was no use and an hour before the gig started I'd spent the whole time I'd been there shaking , shivering and feeling fluey and I'd been sick twice. The venue had put on an amazing tea but I couldn't go anywhere near it and just felt terrible. I forced myself to sound check and just decided I'd get on stage and do what I could and if I needed a sick bucket back stage then I'd just have to do that. Phoned my yummy family and they all prayed for me. Started to feel better and managed the whole performance and felt fine. Thank you God! It ended up being a really good gig. It wasn't a particularly big crowd but there were parts of our teaching where it stood out that it was really key and significant for some of these young people... which is really what its all about and does make all of it totally worth it. This morning on leaving the people's house we'd stayed with they gave us a bunch of flowers each (and chocolates for AJ) and had given each of us a lovely card with extra money just to bless us... and in mine another envelope with more money for my children for lending me out to go all the way to Cornwall :) Totally lovely and not only is it really really helpful in our situations its also the best encouragement that what we're doing is actually worth it. To know that a youth leader who's agenda is caring for the development in their own network of young people to tell us that we've hit the mark with that group that we don't actually know is a real encouragement and made us really happy! SO family day to Chatsworth might just be covered now!

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Day 155: I'd just like...

... just enough to pay to get us in to Chatsworth gardens on a sunny day... with a sneaky picnic and enough cash to get us a cream tea a bit later... I'd just be happy I think having a run around on a nice day... through the lines of trees and round the maze... that'd be just enough.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Day 154: Buy One, GIVE ONE FREE

Well I HAVE looked at the balance... I'm STILL waiting for some expenses but today's post on all that is over-ridden because of this... we're really excited for Golddigger to be releasing a debut album later this year. Thats exciting enough... but more excitingly - as the whole heart behind what we do is positive messages to young people - we're tying in that with the album in more than just content. You CAN pre-order the album and get a free poster... but don't do that...pre order the album and one will be delivered to you and one will be given on your behalf to a disadvantaged young person somewhere in Sheffield. Not only that but you also then have the chance to write an affirming positive message which will be written on a little card and put inside the CD so that the young person will get that and know its been bought for them... How amazing to be given a gift - that you know someone has paid for (not just a freebie) and a personal message. I'm really excited and its been even more exciting as we're starting to get the messages in... I can't wait to write mine!
Order from here x

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Day 153: The best birthday cards

So there have been no money updates for a few days/weeks :S Sorry... the money is not collecting as quickly as is necessary for those sort of posts to be anything other than depressing and truth be told I just don't really want to see my bank balance at the moment. However... being inspired by lovely creative ideas like this I have copied this great idea for birthday cards. Check this uninspiring selection of cheap cards...

I particularly am not digging the 'fake Bratz doll' one... so generally as there are aprox 30 birthday parties to go to per year per child you have that's potentially a lot of cards. Now, to be honest I rarely buy a card ever... but though I have a standard of making them I can normally never find one when in a rush for a kids party so end up just going with the present and 'the card must have fallen off' option... but these ideas for valentines (thank goodness we don't have to do valentines for the whole class in this country!) are so cute and I've just had a nice craft session with the kids making these and we LOVE them. Pretty much the easiest thing to do... though Elijah was more wriggly and it was difficult to get him to stand where I wanted him, look at the camera and make a fist... too much to do at one time for him.
How to: 1.Get a kid, 2. Say 'stand there are make a fist'. 3. Click to take the picture, 4. Upload to photoshop and write Happy Birthday on it, 5. Save to a memory sick, 6. Scoot down to tesco, 7. Get them processed while you go to the sweets section and pick up some lollies, come home with it all 8. Slit just above and below the fist and stick the lolly through. BOOM! Cost... 28p. You can even bring the cost down by registering with tesco online photos - you get 40 free 6 by 4 prints and I did go for the premium lolly - chupa chups... you can get cheaper... but -you know what - why not spalsh out on a chupa chup for 13p when tesco value imitation bratz doll card rolls in at 45p!

Monday, 22 February 2010

Day 152: Party planning

... so I'm not going too far ahead of myself with this but did have the thought that I am going to document what I do and how I plan my kids parties this year. I do tend to start planning really early to spread the cost and because I make as much as I can... so I'm interested to know what that means I do actually spend. This is the first year we're doing both the children their own party... Elijah's just starting to get invited to his own parties now so its about time he got his own. I do absolutely love all of it and though most parties happen at big play centres I don't get at all envious that we can't afford the £10 a head for the whole class...there's something much more special about having it at home, transforming the whole house, getting facepaints all over the carpets, manically baking and being in a big old squash for the day. I totally love it! So average class party at big playcentre... aprox £300. Throw in a craft activity and you're talking much more. Some friends paid £17 a head for a kids party at a centre in Sheffield for a T shirt painting party. It was extortionate but fun but the pens and paints they supplied weren't even fabric pens as we found out when all the children's hard work came off in the wash!
Holly has always loved picking her party themes. Age 3 and 1 she planned for her and Elijah to have a Princess and Pirates party, 4 and 2 it was Lions and Ballerinas... fairly less obvious but then we made everything and she designed the invites, last year it was woodland fairies (and ladybugs for Elijah) and this year we're going for Mad Hatter's tea party for Holly and Monsters party for Elijah...The aims is to bring it in at way under this cost but without resorting to cheap tack. Go!

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Day 151: A little early

Yes its February... and Holly's birthday is the end of June... but you can never be too prepared for a kids party... I'm a little... no... A LOT excited about seeing the new Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland... 5th March........eeeek! And being a massive Alice in Wonderland fan anyway me and Holly have been watching the disney film today to get ideas for a Mad Hatters tea party for her 6th birthday... I'm well excited but quite surprised to find things like this ... a 4 year olds very extravagant party... totally amazing if not missing a bit of the quirky shabbyness that I'll be including at Holly's (as its more authentic and much more free) but wow... I love the internet... a billion ideas to inspire all while your husband gets home and watches match of the day

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Day 150: Late

I can't quite believe my lovely children managed today... got in very late after we had a performance at the Victory Assembly Psalms Alive event and they came along and loved it but arrived home at 11.45 all still very awake. By midnight we all got into Elijah's little half size bed, all in PJs and had a story and a pray. Tomorrow I'm treating them... if the balance will allow we're having a bookshop trip... which for my kids is about the most exciting treat possible!

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Day 149: Today

Man, I'm tired... Joel is away AGAIN and I had to get the children to mums, get down the the office, get us all to coventry on a snowy, foggy, slow motorway and then do some filming for ucb tv. We're going to be on a programme called UK CMC and did a few songs and interviewy bits... back and collected kids and off to practice... home and cold and I'm putting he heating up and getting in my jimmies - cos I can.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Day 148: Bleugh

Totally run out of money again... a few expenses cheques for various bits and pieces should be ambling their way over but in the meantime we sit tight.
HOWEVER Joel has now finished his book... so the potential for Richard and Judy book club and WHSmith signing sessions are now back on the imagination radar.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Day 147: Get me!!!

Tonight is just the sort of night that a takeaway is necessary. I've just got in, I'm tired in an exhausted sort of way, had a long week preceeded by 2 weekends Joel has been away for so I'm aware I've not had anything that resembles a rest in a good 3 weeks, have had a week of early mornings and late nights and a meeting last night that finished at midnight has left me feeling a bit drained. Its Saturday tomorrow but tomorrow I drive us down to Essex in time for a sound check, a couple of gigs and home aprox 1 am Sunday night-actually Monday morning... so a takeaway doesn't seem such a bad idea right now... still we're being somewaht disciplined and at least buying a fake supermarket takeaway that you cook yourself... to save a bit of cash!
But get me! We got an article in youthwork magazine and it arrived today... Its what I was struggling to write a few weeks ago and its nice to have done that and now its all printed and totally off my things to do list! Its basically an overview of what Golddigger do and a bit of the heart behind it all... now back to writing songs... thats much easier than articles!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Day 146: :D

A bit of spare child tax credit and benefit money... over it goes... and BOOM £1699.40 D We're getting there!

Monday, 8 February 2010

Day 145: Can you see that!?

Well I am about to go out and spend some money on a tonne of photo prints - Holly has her 'celebrating my life' presentation at school this week so the pressures on to make our family life sound wonderfully interesting and put up loads of lovely pictures... which I do have hundreds of now but feel a bit sad that the only baby photos I have of Holly were taken off my rubbish phone as we didn't own a camera when she was born :( BUT can you see my jar?!! If you are familiar with big notes you'll know an orange one is £10, a red one (no - I've never had one of those) is £50 and this lovely purple one is a £20... and I HAVE TWO IN MY JAR!!! What is it about cash that is so much more exciting? 40 quid in my bank would be a big worry... but 40 quid in a jar - that's LOADS!
Well this can all go to the bank today... all together there's £50.31 (and 2 cents) taking me down to £1837.21 D !! (and 2 cents credit that maybe doesn't help all that much.)

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Day 144: Finished at last

Not my debt paying... that is not finished... I didn't just come by £7000 since midnight last night so that can not have happened... but I am probably just as pleased to have finished off my very own jumper/cropped cardy thing! I bought the wool and started this about 18 months ago... and its taken me a really really long time... The trouble is that I can't really knit very well... and I like complicated patterns. This one was ok but when I got to a bit that I didn't understand I had to wait for Joel's mum - who lives in Malawi - to plan a trip over so that I could ask her to help me (or more accurately 'do that bit for me') so I've actually slightly broken my no shopping ban to buy the remaining 2 buttons I needed - which cost £1.20.
I made a jumper!!! Its lovely cosy rowan wool - which is expensive but so nice - and so though its actually cropped (I may post a better picture when I've not just tried on the finished thing for the first time and still in my PJs!) it is really snuggly warm... perfect timing to have finished it to get the coldest month of the year to wear it :D

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Day 143: Don't stop believing...

I'm trying not to be put off by the severity of the task and I keep doubting myself into stopping trying - thats bad and wrong and produces rubbish results. As Joel would tell me if he were here is that I shouldn't have limiting belief - and what ever you say about a problem he will ask 'how can you turn that around into a positive statement?' So rather than telling you that I am still a long way off my target I shall instead say... Today I have achieved movement on the card I'm tackling at the moment. I have paid off £56.88 which takes me to £1887.52 D Which is quite exciting as I've takin it down from a 19-- number to a 18-- number. Good good.

Day 142: New dress

I'm not quite sure that I need one but I managed to pick up a nice dress pattern off my mum the other day and might search the loft for some material. Its supposed to be in just 1 colour but I'm pretty sure I don't have enough of 1 material lying round the house so I'm quite looking forward to seeing how I'll have to fit a few pieces together and be inventive! I'll be sure to post pictures of my strange concoction of a dress when its done :)

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Day 141: Positive thinking

Being on day 141 means I've got just over 200 days left of my shopping ban and also means I've only got 59 days left in which to pay off over £7,000 of debt... In the last 41 days I've managed - once you do a bit of adding and taking away of the more debt I managed to get over Christmas - BIG thanks to the big appliance breaking week - I've actually only paid off about £100... so on paper -no - it doesn't look so good really... Still... I'm not quite sure how but I still think I can manage it. Watch this space.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Day 140: Pic n Mix

We had a nice 'date night' last night... We have an amazing lady who does everything in the community and has 6 children of her own but every so often she comes round to babysit for us and gives us money for a meal out... itsn't that ridiculously and amazingly lovely :)
On the way home from wherever we've been we always seem to go to Tesco... sad but true... I think we like wandering round Tesco together when we've not got the kids... there's something exciting about supermarkets without small children when you normally have to amuse them the whole time you're there... so our plan on the way home last night was...'Yay! Tesco for a Pic n Mix'! Pix n Mix is a new addition to Tesco here and of course its exciting... pic n mix is cool... but last night we came across the fundamental error that pic n mix and tesco just doesn't work... its totally impossible. How can you look at pic n mix mini eggs - which you know look like mini eggs but taste a bit of old glue and it not draw your attention to the fact that you could get a whole pack of proper mini eggs from the next aisle along... or a big chunk of fudge that actually tastes of oil and costs 5 times more than the nice fudge in the sweets section... you just can't do it...
So we came home from our trip for pic n mix with a small packet of mini eggs, some CD printer labels which I needed for work and were the 'managers special' at £1 and minnie and micky mouse plates for the children for a quid (and that was our impulse buy splurge)

Monday, 1 February 2010

Day 139: not fooled

Well today's been an interesting one... spent the morning being coached by Joel - who has been on a coaching course, then clothes shopping for him - which he obviously brainwashed me into in his coaching tactics, then collected Elijah - a bit more coaching, me and the little boy made some olive bread, made a vegie lasagne to last mos of the week then went for Holly to have surprise family time... as Joel was away this weekend... so todays surprise was a walk in the woods and a hot chocolate and a little choose at Cocoa on Ecclesall Rd, also this afternoon received some bad news that some friends had their first scan for their baby and no heart beat was detected. We came home, cooked the lasagne, ate and I went over to theirs with some others to pray for that situation... and tomorrow they go back and hopefully that situation will have turned. So my head is a bit all over the place today... not really sure which bits to try to make sense of so instead I'll just report that I've just received 3 emails from of numbers all with a click me and log in link... I don't fall for it... and its most certainly trying to scam me for my login... obviously blissfully unaware that they don't really gain anything if they manage to access my bank account! but it does make me angry that people are trying to get away with that! Like, what can you do?

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Day 138: values

Interesting time at church this morning has challenged me to think on my values and check they are right. It was quite a massive tough message... but about some specific and quite scary prophecies... and without going into that really the outcome of my tangent of thought was that its made me think even more so that the financial climate we have and the control Britain 'thinks' its getting over itself is all a bit false and that really things are going to get worse. Its quite a reality check what has happened in Haiti... actually... we have all these intelligent men fighting to gain control over this country and trying to maintain the standard Britain is used to without anyone feeling wobbly if at all possible... then an earthquake just wipes out a huge part of a country... makes you realise just how weak and helpless these 'powerful' people really are and how little control they'll ever get.
So what would it be like if we paid our debts, if I got paid or we came into a massive fortune?... actually that thought scares me even more than struggling on as I am doing. I'm scared of what I might be like if money came easily and I allowed myself to sit back and enjoy it. I hope I remember that. I would like to be out of debt... not because I have to pay it back... but because it has control and hold over me. I would like to not get bank charges... because they really irritate me and I hate that they just arrive and I have to pay them. But I can honestly say I'd rather not pay it all off if it means I get greedy or lazy. I already know I must hate my own attitude- I hate the attitude of some people around me when they're so complacent or moan about their finances when they have so much more than we do... and fail to see how rich they really are and I know that we have so much more than other people so I know I should hate my own attitude! Its so hard to get hold of that... Holly is trying to understand how she is the only one of her class to have packed lunches because we can't afford dinners ... but I won't let her say that we are poor. we are some of the richest people in the whole world.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Day 137: On to the next one

Ok we're on to Mr Tesco CC... He's 1955.86... about to pay.........£11.46 taking me down the the stunningly SLIGHTLY lower amount of £1944.40 D So it may not be a dramatic difference but I've accidentally made the number a bit neater by doing that which can count as 1 plus point :) and more importantly - most importantly actually head is well and truly back in the game.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Day 136: 1 down...

Good... we're back on track. 1 card done... yes i've been here before... but better that than not getting back to this place... so goodbye to the remaining £99 on our smallest card and now onto the next one... I'm tired and can't find all the login details but will get started on paying that off tomorrow... excited again!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Day 135: Found a good freebie!!

Hehe... this is a nice post to do...
Found a really good free download... Its that simple. You just download Golddigger's new song... just cos we like it and hope everyone else will to.
If you like I can make it even better we decide how much to charge I could say how exclusive and designer it is and that RRP is £1999 and then you can download it thinking that you've also made a saving of £1999... but you can't then do what I would than do and go out and spend that on something else :S

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Day 134: Turning a corner

Well I was starting to feel a bit down about the debt issue... Over the last few months, sure, we've had Christmas and a few appliance disasters but with all my good intentions to get rid of all debt in 100 days we've ended up in deeper debt than we were before. I'm not so surprised at that as just a bit sad that that is just how things stand when we actually have spent as little as possible on Christmas, food and not only am I not buying clothes but I'm also making an effort not to buy anything the children don't need - and enjoying a lot of cast offs (Elijah's managed to get himself a pair of nike trainers and hunter wellies off a very kind friend with a little boy with a shoe size up from him!) and Joel practically never buys anything. Its depressing to not be able to manage without going into debt with out all of that as well as not being able to pay anything off... and considering things didn't seem like that a few months ago I don't really even get it.
However... today an expenses cheque cleared and I've managed to pay £200 into the smallest credit card... and £200 over to see us through to the end of the month - which I can hopefully pay most of onto pay that card off and start on a new one! That will be good... so thats good even on a month where my pay cheque has actually been £10. Yes £10!
So back to it... balance on the big cards ... still big. Balance on small card £99... end of the week lets have that!

Monday, 25 January 2010

Day 133: the ethics of child sponsorship

So despite not being quite financially clear we have been decided that we'd like to sponsor a child anyway... not only because it is a good thing but also to raise awareness in our own children. Trouble is we've ended up in a weird ethical debate about the whole process and now I feel I've sold out and compromised a bit. This is the issue... Grassroots - child sponsorship for a primary school child is £3.50 a month, Compassion £23 a month... roughly the same stuff but all of the grassroots money goes to the childs needs, not into admin - not sure about Compassion. The big drawback...we don't get a nice glossy photo pack from grassroots - well no, your money doesn't come back to you - it goes to the child. That feels like the right one. We've just gone for Compassion though because I wanted the children to have the glossy photo and to be able to write to them and learn more about that little life all the way in Tanzania... and now that feels really selfish. So now I'm going to have to find even more money every month and sponsor another 5 through grassroots as well.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Day 132: Back home

Camberly was a long way... it was on the way there... it was grey, foggy and rainy... making the worst view to stare at for the whole of the M1 - the first date of the tour was fun... and the drive back much better than the way there... though the money saving tip of the day would be to avoid Shell petrol stations where at all possible... can you believe you can be charged 97p for a chocolate bar!? (I didn't buy one - I just saw it and nearly fainted) but probably did spend double on petrol... which is a shame as it forces me to join in helping tesco to take over the world.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Day 131: Starting to earn a bit...

Well at least being busy stops me spending... tomorrow we drive to Camberly, starting the day at 10 am and coming home hopefully by Saturday mid afternoon... for which I'll earn £40. Plus points...1. at least I earn £40 2. i love my job 3. I get to share some good stuff with some young people 4. I get to perform songs I've written 5. I've never been to Camberly 6. We have a new projector screen and I'm well excited about that and ooooh 7. We have some well cool little single cards to sell... they're cards with a unique code to download our media rules single... and for a design loving person like me they are REALLY REALLY good!
So I don't know where I'll be staying tomorrow night but that's normally either nice or random - one of those is fine and the other one is normally funny!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Day 130: Bank charges

Over the last few weeks...trying to get stuff to pay off, having loads of bits an pieces to pay for... dishwasher, car tyres etc... we've incurred some of those nasty horrid bank charges again :( ... no more days off the money watch!
Still... I am managing a blog today... tonights things to do list is done all apart from 'dye my hair' so for half ten thats not to bad... just been ripping up material for the backdrop and video editing... hopefully we now have everything we need ready for the tour and tomorrow night wont be a manic one. Even despite the stress of the week I managed to have a coffee with Rachel today and have a successful baking session with both of the children... Elijah made some little snowballs... I was very proud of him and Holly some pretty pink cupcakes... I love my kids.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Day 129: Not forgotton

I haven't forgotton to blog... I do keep remembering and just not getting time... and I've been busy spending work money on work stuff so as long as I remember to claim it all I've not been spending. GoldDigger start the Media Rules tour this week and so the last few weeks we've been busy trying to get it all ready as well as keep on top of the other things that are coming up like scary schools presentations, booking contracts, merchandise orders and the rest of the year. It seems people wait until January and then sort everything out... so our office has been a hive of all phonecalls and emails of people getting back to work to sort things out. Good though... bookings mean we're doing what we set out to do as well as getting paid a little something to help things along the way. I'm really excited actually. We've made this tour really cheap just so that its easy for poeple to afford to book us... and are saying we're cutting it back to the very basics just so its affordable... however we've actually put far more into planning this than ever before and actually we'll be delivering our best yet... we've just worked on loads of media stuff to make our set all run together better and look more impressive... it doesn't matter how good your performance is when you're stood in front of some messy notice board and stuffed in the corner of a room... so our 4m big projector screen backdrop will be amazing!!! We're pulling together loads of songs with teaching points all based around what we call the 'media rules' (which is the name of one of our songs) and taking one rule at a time the media try to make us live our lives by that we might not have realised isnt really true... so I'm excited about teaching some young people some really cool stuff... In fact here's one of the things we're getting ready... we don;t even know where the bulk of this text came from but we've always loved it ... somehow came through YFC with Rach... (someone out there needs finding and asking permission really!) and I've added a bit in... and made it into a very simple video... with a big gap at the end and terrible recording quality - the BBC don't tend to record their voiceovers in garageband in their lounge... but i have secured myself a voice-over related favour from our producer... so this can all be tidied up at some stage when life has a bit more space in it!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Day 128: Failing miserably...

... I'm not doing well at writing... or saving sadly. After a few expensive weeks including now having replaced a few appliances for Christmas (I don't think I said... my main present this year was my old GHD's wrapped up in an envelope box from my old work... which Joel had wonderfully mended for me and now I am happy and have shiny hair when I want it!) but paying for new tyres for the car and all this snow and a pay cheque of £10 this month :( ... I'm not feeling the MOST motivated you can get!!

Monday, 11 January 2010

Day 127: not so fond of chick flicks...

Last night got all cosy for a night in and took advantage of the fact Joel was at work and I could watch a chick flick without him complaining... it was 27 dresses... and I've discovered that really I can't even watch that many chick flicks without complaining - even on my own. Predictable, same story line thats been done TOO many times, totally totally cheesy- and only mildly heartwarming... the last 5 mins were ok I suppose. BUT here's the good bit... I had it because... I signed into, they said £18 if you sign up for a 2 week free trial with Lovefilm. You have to put 10 films on your list and be sent one to qualify. If you cancel after 2 weeks or after your second film (which I'm hoping will be Coco Chanel) then its completely free - but I get £18 paid strait into my bank in a month or so. Good one!

Friday, 8 January 2010

Day 126: Less in the pot...

I had to eat into the credit card fund pot today. The tyres on our car are worn away... in fact writing this makes me think I've written this before and that it REALLY wasn't long ago that we changed them... and I know that's not right! Regardless... they are illegal to drive on, therefore TOTALLY dangerous in this snow and even Dave next door has informed us they are illegal. So I had to eat in to the credit card fun today for my bus fare and trek off down the road in my wellies... £4.30 I paid... to get to work. This MONTH I'll earn £10 - yep. thats all.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Day 125: Missing it...

... today is the first day I feel like I'm actually now missing buying clothes... I lasted the Christmas season... fairly hard, Christmas sales... fairly difficult and I just had to tell myself I can get some bargains next year... but yesterday I fell into the trap of looking for some good offers for presents and things online...I must have been bored as somehow I have managed to end up on websites such as boden of all places and now am actually upset over a pair of pjyamas. Not that I've seen a particluar pair or anything... but I'm notoriously bad at buying pjyamas and mine are all tatty. I can't justify them for stage wear so there's just no chance...I'll have to do without and add it to the very long list... but I mainly can't believe of all things my lowpoint of this clothing fast so far has been over some middle class pjyamas :(