Friday, 29 June 2007

Ooops, I did it again

Um...the Boden autumn range may have come out a little bit earlier than I expected. And it may have been accompanied by a "buy before common sense kicks in and get 20% off!" offer. Which there is a slight possibility that I succumbed to. It's conceivable that the item I ordered was, erm, a pair of brown leather knee boots. Which - hypothetically, of course - might have cost ever so slightly more than The Boots of Debt.


Wednesday, 27 June 2007

You know you have too much spare time when taking pictures of yourself is a legitimate use of an afternoon

One of the side effects of this budget is that I often find myself attempting to make my own entertainment. This has two major things going for it: (1) it's free, and (2) it doesn't require me to leave the flat and brace the random assortment of hostile elements which constitute an Edinburgh summer. Unfortunately, however, I suck at entertaining myself. I am not, for a start, remotely entertaining. And I lack that only-child knack of revelling in one's own company. When left in my own company I...well, do diddly squat, really. But not today! No, today I instead decided to - prepare to be underwhelmed - investigate a question that's been troubling me for some time: why do I photograph so badly?

I am weirdly, almost laws-of-physics-defyingly, unphotogenic. I generally come out looking like a sort of cross between Stephen Hawking and Ruud van Nistelrooy, if you can imagine such a creature. My brother would doubtless argue that this is a fairly accurate representation, but I choose instead to believe that, by freak coincidence, all the cameras in the Western hemisphere suffer from some kind of me-defacing glitch. However, after an embarrassing number of abortive attempts (does anyone else have problems getting their head in a picture, or is that just me?) I think I've finally found a way to look halfway presentable in photos!


"Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, I think I'll go and eat worms..."


All the better to eat you with, my dear...

(I did only say "halfway" - you weren't expecting miracles, were you?) The trick is to smile manically. As in, literally manically. Open your eyes as wide as they can go and grin inanely, as though you were auditioning for the part of the Big Bad Wolf in a particularly cheesy musical adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood, to be performed to an audience comprised entirely of the partially sighted. It feels ridiculous, obviously, but somehow (humour me here) the resulting photo ends up as a subdued version of the caricature-like expression. Having said that, it has yet to be seen if this method actually works when the camera's being wielded by someone other than my left hand...

And in a belated attempt to keep this post relevant to the budget, this week's £10 is still intact! Though this may say more about my laziness (see plan not to leave flat for duration of twenty-first century) than my self-control.

Edit: Alas! According to Mike I've over-estimated the subduing effect, and still look crazed in the "After" photo. Oh well, back to the drawing board...

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Who'd have thought Glaswegians had such good skin?

Ooops, I didn't mean to leave it so long! I sort of assumed that I'd be churning out Christmas decorations and accompanying posts at a rattling pace throughout the week, but somehow that didn't quite happen, and since I last wrote I haven't made a single one. I have, however, made some money! (I do earn money in the normal course of things, honest. It's just that I only work one day a week, and while that might keep my head above water it doesn't really support my inner shopaholic in the luxury to which she wishes she were accustomed.) It was a one-off thing: carrying out a travel survey among out-patients at a Glasgow hospital. I was assigned to the dermatology department. Unfortunately (well, fortunately for them, I suppose) the people of Glasgow do not appear to suffer from dermatological conditions. By lunchtime I'd read two copies of Good Housekeeping, one Elle , two Spectators, all the health notices dotted around the walls, and interviewed a grand total of nine patients. If I tell you that the morning was positively heaving compared to the afternoon you'll get an idea of how slowly the remaining hours passed.

Still, I think £65 is a fair rate for my boredom, especially considering I'm often bored for hours at a time for no charge whatsoever. Plus, since returning The Boots of Debt I actually have £21 credit on my credit card! Which, obviously, I choose to interpret as £21 of free money. I knew I had a knack for this budgeting thing.

At the risk of undermining the triumphant note slightly, I should probably confess that not a penny remains of last week's £10. The final £3.17 went on plasters, water, those pesky library fines and getting my passport photocopied (photocopies of my passport seem to be in great demand this month; I wonder if this should worry me?). But this week's £10 is as yet untouched, and for once I don't already have a long list of necessities staking a claim to it. Hooray! I've decided on a couple of rules, though, to keep over-excited spending in check:

  • Rule #1: Thou shalt not buy any new clothes until the Boden Autumn catalogue is released (I reckon this'll be sometime in July, so it's not exactly a demanding test of long-term willpower, but fractionally better than nothing).
  • Rule #2: Thou shalt not buy fabric to make Summery clothes until we get a forecast of at least 20 degrees C. This, judging by recent weeks, could be an awfully long way off; possibly sometime in the mid 2050s when global warming's really kicked in.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

No, I haven't gone mad! (Well, maybe I have, but that's a subject for a whole other post.) Christmas has come early to a corner of my sitting room rug (OK, to the entire sitting room...and the bedroom...and most of the bits inbetween. I should probably hoover before Mike gets back), because I've decided that my wedding present for Su and Barry is going to be Christmas decorations! And yes, I know that they've been married for two weeks already, and that Christmas decorations are a somewhat unconventional gift for a June wedding, but hey, at least I don't have to worry that someone else has given them the same thing. (Besides, this is what you get for not having a wedding list! I used to despise the idea of wedding lists, but now I have decided that they are a Most Excellent Thing, saving your guests many hours of anxiety, and eliminating the possibility that one of them will have the bright idea to present you with homemade Christmas ornaments in midsummer.)

Ta-daaa! You can't really tell from the picture (must learn what all the funny buttons on my camera actually do), but they're padded and (this you almost certainly can't tell from the picture, unless you're lucky enough to be possessed of x-ray vision) each is stuffed with a few cloves so that they smell appropriately Christmassy. I'm planning on making about twenty in a range of different designs, but so far these three have eaten up £6.83 of this week's budget, so I might have to reign my artistic ambitions in a bit for the rest.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Budget 1, Spirits 0

My boots arrived today. They will henceforth be referred to as The Boots of Debt, as they're the purchase which plunged me sufficiently far into my overdraft that even £10 began to seem rather extravagant for a week's expenditure, representing as it did approximately 50% of my remaining available funds. Still, this didn't trouble me unduly - I mean, everyone needs a pair of brown leather knee boots, right? In fact, you could argue that they're a necessity. So it was in a decidedly cheery frame of mind that I unwrapped them, paying no heed to the unfeasibly large sum printed on the invoice which fluttered out of the box as I did so.

The only problem is, I don't actually like them.

They look innocuous enough. In fact, you can judge this for yourselves. Behold! (Erm, I'm not entirely sure where the picture's going to pop up, but doubtless it'll be somewhere in this general vicinity.) I would go so far as to say that seeing these pictures I'd fall for them all over again and order away, budget or no budget. But when you actually get them out of the box, they're strangely oversized. I don't mean that they're too big - the width is perfect, and believe it or not you actually give your calf measurement when you order, so that's spot on too - but there are a good two inches or so of shoe happily continuing long after my toes have come to an abrupt end. They are in fact a full four centimetres (sorry to mix metric and imperial so recklessly; comes of being British) longer than even my pointiest-toed shoes, and make my legs and feet look rather like enormous right angled set-squares. While certainly interesting, this is not the look I was hoping for.

And so, I suppose, I'll send them back, and my critically-wounded credit card will give a sigh of relief. My feet, however, will sulk.

Monday, 11 June 2007

Budgeting isn't quite as fun when you've spent all your budget

As you've possibly guessed from the rather unequivocal title, the ten pound note and I went on a little excursion at the weekend and only one of us came back. He fought bravely, but was no match for my steely determination to buy a 75 pence carton of pineapple juice (harsh, I know, but the greater good - ie the need for punch to take to Lucy's - was at stake). I was just as merciless over the 89 pence orange juice, and downright pitiless when it came to the 55 pence loaf of bread. (Some might argue that, strictly speaking, bread isn't an essential ingredient in punch. But - hurrah! - none of those people are here. Plus I have decided to justify the wanton extravagance of the bread by the happy coincidence that it cost more or less the exact amount I found in my wallet the other day, which was sort of exempt from the budget anyway. This must be the kind of cunning rationalising that government departments have to do all the time.)

The poor ten pounds' trial wasn't over, however - their scattered remains still had the Edinburgh Treefest to contend with. To the uninitiated a treefest might sound like the kind of place where your wallet was fairly safe from assault, but to the true shopaholic there are self-bankrupting opportunities to be found in the unlikeliest of places. In this case, I came home proudly bearing a piece of spalted beech and another of burr elm. Although I am slightly less proud now that I've discovered that "spalted" means "suffering from fungal disease". Still, at least I've ticked another box (Mike's dad's birthday present - what man doesn't love diseased wood?) off my list. And if I went ever so slightly over budget in the process, then, erm...I'm sure I'll have thought up an excellent excuse for it by tomorrow.

Friday, 8 June 2007

OK, I know I'm updating too often to maintain any semblance of cool...

The ten pound note survived its trip to the library and lives to be squandered another day! Although only because the librarian had locked the till and was ill-equipped to deal with my ninety pence fine. Plus I found fifty-two pence in my wallet, so my running total has actually risen! I'm beginning to suspect I am some sort of financial genius.

Disaster looms!

Oh no, I've just discovered a loophole - I can still buy stuff from Amazon and ebay! Damned automatic payment systems...Can you ban yourself from sites? Maybe I could create fake ebay accounts and leave terrible feedback for myself so no-one will ever sell to me again? (Over-reacting? Me?)

And she's off!

Hooray, I'm a cybergeek again! Although I rather sullied my geek credentials by accidentally posting a blank message. Still, as my readership consists of one, and as his attention span is sufficiently short that he may have switched off a couple of sentences ago, my image might have survived untarnished.

Anyway, onto the budget! It doesn't actually feel like one yet, as the novelty of having a ten pound note has yet to wear off (though I might iron it, to make it look more crisp and alluring). I have a feeling it won't survive intact for long, though. Vying for its attention are:

* my library fines
* postage for my Dad's birthday present
* buying Mike's dad's birthday present (shoot, I'd forgotten about that! Do you think that's allowed to be an exception? What sort of wood could I get for £5? Maybe some kind of twig?)
* some sort of drink to take round to Lucy and Martin's tomorrow
* a new uni card (though considering that me extending my studies has garnered the university £1,200 in extra fees, you'd think they could throw in an extension on my card for free)
* wedding present for Su and Barry
* new face cream
* thread, for my latest living-room-takeover crafting
* flowerpots for my ever-expanding herb collection

Just think how much tougher it's going to be when the summer sales start...