Saturday, 13 January 2018

Just In Time/ Just In Case

The only productive thing I've done all week is to use some blackened bananas to make muffins, using this recipe (I replaced the lemon juice with apple cider vinegar). 


For the past couple of months we've been using up things from the pantry, initially because we thought the pantry would be refitted this year, but also just to but down the amount of food we have in the house at any time. We haven't been shopping "properly" since Christmas, just to the corner shop for bunny greens and other small bits and bobs, but I am amazed at how well we've managed. There are so many ways to eat not all that unhealthily with what we had lying around, plus the bag of veggie balls we bought from Ikea when we were in Manchester last weekend. Just in time shopping is working for us. 

I mentioned recently I have started keeping an emergency jar of pasta sauce (cheap and cheerful from Home Bargains) and a couple of tins of soup/ chilli/ whatever in the pantry, they have been worth their weight in gold this week. I started feeling a bit off colour on Tuesday evening, by Wednesday afternoon I couldn't move out of my chair. Dan's been really busy this week, and going everywhere on his bike due to lack of car so it was a huge relief to everyone that he didn't have to think about cooking when he got home, and that there's no fresh food going to waste while I'm out of action. Just in case shopping works for us too. 

That may not make sense, I am still in a fug, I listened to the news yesterday and it all seemed so strange that I'm not fully sure it wasn't just a really weird dream. Is any of this real?


Tuesday, 9 January 2018

You Had One Job

This is a whinge, mainly about the hundreds of pounds streaming out of our lives on ridiculous rubbish each month. 

We set off to go to the supermarket/ pizza place last night for celebratory treats, I hadn't even got in the car and I could hear a weird noise. The newly repaired (at no small cost) car now has a weird bangy steering problem that it didn't have before it went in to have the clutch repaired. The mechanic is "mystified". I'm sure it's an amazing coincidence and nothing to do with anything they did.

I will never get into that car again, I am done with it. I have no clue what we're going to do but as I refuse to spend any more money at the garage I assume we're going to be carless for a while. Were we not also trainless at the moment it might not be so bad!

The New Year period of positivity well and truly ended yesterday! And there wasn't even any cake!

Whinge over.

Monday, 8 January 2018

Canny Landscape*

Yesterday Dan bundled me into our hire car with a picnic and we set off on a mystery journey. 

me, waiting for Dan
We had a hire car as ours has been at the garage again with clutch problems, we have it back now but the hire car came in handy. The guy at the hire centre asked Dan about his plans for the weeknd and when he said we were going to watch Burnley play Man City he said "I hope you win, have an upgrade" so instead of a tiny Aygo we ended up with a Mokka, it was huge!

Anyway, when we turned onto the A66 I thought we were going to Bowes Museum, but no, we sailed right past Barnard Castle and on to Newcastle! As soon as I knew we were going there it was obvious we were going to Laing Art Gallery to see the Paul Nash exhibition (ends January 14th). Before the gallery opened there was just time to see another beautiful part of the city, no, not the football ground, the Civic Centre.



Isn't it just gorgeous, this is how beautiful a mid-century building can look when looked after! The building, designed by George Kenyon was opened by King Olav V of Norway in 1968.

River God Tyne, David Wynne

It was an amazingly beautiful day, cold but so clear with fabulous sunshine, the walls looked like gold.



Public building like this always remind me that nothing is too good for ordinary people**. 



So many highlights of this day, I can't pick just one, but it certainly wasn't the moment we saw someone cycling on the A1 (M), thankfully the police arrived as we passed by. A beautiful day that inspired me even more to make my own surroundings more special, even in their simplicity. 

*Paul Nash and the Uncanny Landscape is on at York Art Gallery until April 15th). 

** Berthold Lubetkin

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Blue And A Little Bit Green

A few weeks ago I really started to notice how any single use items and therefore how much waste was generated at football matches - beer "glasses", coffee cups, wrappers for pies, trays holding chips, packets of crisps, chocolate bars etc. Yesterday we saw things to cheer us a little bit when we went to the Etihad Stadium in Manchester. 



First of all getting to the match, it's a 25 minute walk from the centre of Manchester with a well lit designated walking route, there are bike racks at the stadium for those choosing to cycle. The stadium has its own metrolink (tram) station for easy access, and although prices have recently increased it's a fairly inexpensive way to travel, we paid £2.80 each return to the park and ride, parking was free. There are also plenty of buses back into the city centre. 

The stadium (designed by Arup) was built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games and converted to a football ground the following year. Anyway, there are all manner of nods to sustainability.



This tube and drain are part of the rainwater harvesting system (and as we know, Manchester is no stranger to rain!), all water collected is reused around the campus (the stadium itself and the academy next door). There are also air source heat pumps and lighting is now LED. If you're interested there's more to read about it in this article. There is even talk of generating energy too see here . My suggestion would be to use the labour of people climbing the steps up the their seats, we were up on the top tier. 




I didn't really start thinking about this until we got inside (or I would have done more research) but I noticed something written on the side of the drinking glasses 


via huhtamaki.com
The products used in the concourse bars are compostable, recyclable or biodegradable. As well as these drinking vessels chips were served in a paper cup (I wasn't able to investigate these but I think they're the same brand) or in a sack - not only is a sack of chips an amazing thing and gets the thumbs up from me, but it was actually a paper sack, not a plastic tray.



And those all important bins to make waste disposal a little bit easier. It was great to see so many little things in place, obviously it's easier for a new stadium to implement this kind of scheme but it was great to see it, even though most people would never ever notice. 




Friday, 5 January 2018

Sun Comes Up Another Day Begins

And the sun did come up this morning! 

Dan set off before the sun even made an appearance as he decided to walk the 5 and a half miles to work, we don't have the car at the moment and don't collect the hire car until this evening. I got up early too to get a good start to the day.

I headed to town to buy birthday gifts, drop things off at the charity shop and generally have a wander around. As I passed the end of the main street I could see the sea so headed off to the prom for a peek .



I wasn't alone, there were the usual dog walkers, other people like me just having a stroll and even families building sandcastles, it was perfect beach conditions. 


I even had a small paddle with my shopping trolley!



When I got home I put out some laundry and decided to do some of the clearing up I should have done in the autumn in the garden. 



It still looks bad, but the green waste bin is now full, it is progress.

While I was clearing I spotted a sign of things to come 


This is a good day.



Thursday, 4 January 2018

Small Things To Make Life Better

New Year Resolution joy continues unabashed.

Wednesdays are the day the house starts to fall into chaos, I'm supposed to finish at the charity shop at one, but rarely leave before two, often much later.  By the time I've nipped to the shops for anything we may need and eaten some lunch it's nearly time to start thinking about the evening. The day just goes.

Yesterday was a particularly busy and frustrating day at the shop so I hardly did anything when I got home. So today is a just keep moving day. On wet, chilly winter days it's easy to not keep moving and to just keep sitting under a quilt drinking tea, so I moved into the dining area. Being in there is great as there's always stuff to do and once I start doing something then I tend to find other things until I reach something that could be classed as momentum. But for breaks (of which there are many) I like to sit and browse but our dining chairs aren't really cut out for leisure.

exciting view into dynamic everyday life
Not suitable for a tea break even with the unattractive seat pad. The solution to both getting up and doing things AND relaxing was staring me right in the face (and has been for the past nine months or so).

instant glamour
One of the very comfy polyprop chairs we have hanging around. I swear I could do great things if I was only a little more quick on the uptake!


Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Decluttered 2017

I think the house is reasonably clutter free, everything has a place and in general (other than hay) the place is tidy. However, it was still ridiculously easy to find all these things to chuck/ recycle/ donate. I may have missed a few things from the very start of the year. I'm still finding that much of the stuff I get rid of was given to us by other people, not stuff we bought ourselves - 2018 is starting in the same manner!

1. pair jeggings, ripped
2. pink cardi, horrible
3. pyjamas, never wear
4. large t-shirt style nightie, never wear
5. trainer type shoes, never wear
6. slippers, safety hazard

7. large blue bowl and 6 small dipping bowls

8. wooden thing that held dried fruit (gift)
9-17. cook books
18. spiralizer 
19. recipe card box, broken

20. toolbox

21-33. large pieces of fabric that I'll never use
34. pile of small fabric scraps, bits of ribbon, short lengths of thread etc
35. ceramic toothbrush holder
36. 4 wood placemats
37. broken veg steaming thing
38. dvd player
39. assorted cables and leads 
40. brown rug, brown

41. foundation, dried up
42. pile of magazines
43. hairbrush 
44 - 50. bags of assorted stuff to charity shop, belonged to someone else
51. washing machine 
52. 17 items from the sock/underwear drawer
53. leggings, transparent
54. pile of nonsense from the kitchen (see below for a small selection)



55. watch - broke into a million pieces at the football
56. metal VW camper tin, had been in a cupboard for years
57-60. three skirts and a t-shirt, just not me 
61. butter dish
62. teapot
63. slow cooker
64. dress - holey
65. 12 magazines
66. shirt
67. big pile of garden pots
68. birdhouse - given to someone as a surprise for their daughter.

69. multiple bags to the charity shop inc. electricals - belonged to someone else
70. emergency car kit, duplicate
71. many many many plastic plant pots, probably 60+
72. planter, broken
73. bags of rags
74. general garage junk - empty compost bags, cardboard carpet rolls etc
75. extra blinds slats
76. 4 magazines 
77. tins of paint
78. Christmas tree
79. carbon monoxide alarm

80. threads and other assorted craft stuff, 4 small containers
81. 5 pairs of sock
82. shawl
83. 4 tops - sweaty
84. dress
85. skirt
86. two jumpers (identical)
87. silver skirt
88. 2 mop heads
89. 110 tealights and 7 candles (gave the tealights to another vol at the shop)
90. 13 plates (2 decorative, 11 vintage)

91. 8 books
92. 2 more books
93, rabbit water dish - rabbits refused to drink from it, despite it being the same shape and size as the other dish, the only difference is that the unfavoured bowl was blue.
94. 500g bag of soapnuts (passing on to a buddy)
95. 2 wine glasses - we never drink wine
96. 2 champage glasses - be serious!
97. 2 espresso cups - I never drink espresso so how many cups do we need?
98. 4 crystal tumblers - used maybe a couple of times a year, but we have other crystal tumblers we use more often (and still that's not all that often)
99. 3 pillows
100. teddy bear
101-2. light shades


103. hideous brown lightshade, here when we moved in, had been in use in the pantry (apologies if you own this lampshade for calling it hideous, but it is)
104. small step, dangerous
105. more assorted stuff from other people - desktop pc, printer, stepladders, old medication, dvds, clothes and shoes etc. 
106. assorted craft stuff, some to charity shop, some to bin
107-8. bed covers 

109-10. two tops that for some mysterious reason had been stashed at the top of my wardrobe

111. pair of sandals that I'd been keeping for sentimental reasons only (I mean, come on!)
112-13. two aprons, never wear
114. calendar, duplicate gift
115. converse, gift, never wear
116. assorted plastic tubs - no room in new freezer
117. clothing belonging to Dan, no idea what it was, he just said he added things to the charity bag
118. Jumper, Dan's
119. assorted jars
120. chalkboard

121. teapot - made rubbish tea
122. top - holey
123. spoons etc (3)
124. work shirt (Dan)
125. hi-vis cycling jacket, no longer waterproof
126. food processor
127. decorative bottles
128. teapot, broken
129. shoes
130. Bird feeder

131. Weights bench
132. assorted fabric scraps
133. 3 bottles of perfume, Dan sneezes when I wear two of them and the third I bought recently, Dan chose the fragrance and I hate it, smells like aftershave and washing powder. 
134. a book Dan received as a secret santa gift
135. utensil pot
136. dvd