Friday, 28 February 2014

February Shopping Week Four

Week four, February 21 - 28, it has been a long month! We've been off plan again this week. It's been a weird week, Dan went to London on Tuesday so wasn't around for food, so I just had some soup. Last night he attended an evening meeting so we were eating at different times again, tonight we're going to watch Widnes v Huddersfield so it'll be a case of grab and go. 

On Wednesday I roasted the remaining veg -  squash, cauli, red onion, chestnut mushrooms and celeriac. Then rolled out half a sheet of puff pastry and filled it with one of the puy lentil pouches we had in the emergency winter stash. To add a bit of moisture we had a dollop of Mr Vikkis tamarind chipotle chutney on the side which is delicious. Puy lentils are my new favourite thing. On Monday we had chilli from the freezer served with giant cous cous, that is not my new favourite thing! I'll probably use the rest of the cous cous with some puy lentils in a salad rather than eating it hot. Speaking of salad, red cabbage has been another hero this month, what a bargain for such a great veg.

Here's the spending - 

£ 18.95 f&v lettuce, carrots, cauli, tomatoes, radish, mushrooms, broccoli plus 8 pots of herbs for the garden
£ 7.57 dairy and non-dairy almond milk is £3 for 3 *hooray*
£ 7.72 bread
£ 12.02 pantry soup, tacos, pasta, bean burgers
£ 0.52 drinks
£ 1.00 junk chocolate bars
£ 6.29 non-food moisturiser

Total = £54.07

Month total = £184.07 A huge amount but I'm pleased we came in under the actual budget of £190. Next month will be interesting as I know we'll be buying a lot of pantry ingredients.

I'll go back to the garden centre to look for a chilli plant at some point, I didn't even think to look the other day. If I remember when the street market is on in the town I may nip down there, I think it's the first Thursday of the month. I've only seen it a couple of times but there was a stall with plants there as far as I remember.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Honesty



Being honest with myself and everyone about my feeling about volunteering turned out to be the best thing. 

I gave myself time to think about what it was I didn't like about it, it's not the manager or the other folk working there, it's not the shop, it's not the customers, it's not the time of day, it's not what it takes from my week. There was nothing I really disliked. It was just different from what I'd done before. When it comes down to it, the fact is I'm not the best at it. I'm ok, but that's good. I don't need to be the best salesman ever I need to be a body behind a till to take payment for things and put them in a bag.

I went in yesterday with no feelings on the matter, not unhappy about it, not full of enthusiasm, just going. Then when I got there I had the feeling of freedom. Telling myself that I didn't have to like it, I didn't even have to be good at it, I just had to do it was great. I stopped taking myself seriously and just got on with it.

Doing the opposite and being happy with my offering being good enough was enough for everyone.

Also, I have spent no money since Saturday (and won't spend anything today) and put £3 in the Q-pot. 

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Bad Decisions

I know this won't come as a huge shock to anyone who has been around for a while as I've mentioned the feeling of not feeling settled, I really don't like working at the charity shop. 

But, it's good for me to do it, to meet people, have a change of scenery, do something different blah blah. It would be really easy to walk away because there's no reason why I can't. But it's so boring, it makes me believe the phrase "time flies when you're having fun" to be true. 

I took the Costanza approach and did the opposite, I normally like to process stock but agreed to work in the shop. I've done that for 3 months and I do not enjoy it one little bit. The weird thing is, in this shop working in the back room seems to be something people want to do, not avoid as has been the case in all the other places I've been. Maybe there's something I don't know!

When I started I had a feeling I'd reach this point, I've been at this point since before Christmas, yesterday I admitted it to Dan (he's far more keen on me being there than I am). I wanted to stay for a year, now I'm aiming to last 6 months. It will be over in 6 hours, that seems a very long time away.


Edible Garden

I spoke to Father about the garden, he nodded and picked up a tape measure so I think he may already have some thoughts on the matter. 

The past few days have been fairly productive in terms of the garden. We went out for a bit on Friday and cleared away some of the leaves covering the whole thing. There are many many bulbs showing their faces, I don't remember planting that many so I am more than happy with what I can see so far. All the other plants appear to have survived the wind and wet too. When Dan was tidying the garage so he could fit the car in during the storm he came across a treasure trove of seeds and bulbs. How long they've been there it's impossible to say, so the viability is uncertain, but they have no chance of growing if they stay in their packets and envelopes. We shoved some freesia bulbs in on Friday and there are two packets of wild flower seeds, I seem to remember we only bought them last year, envelopes of cornflowers and something else from my parents aaaaand some other bulbs that need to go out next week.

We went to a Christening on Sunday and while we were there Father presented me with gifts! A packet of poppy seeds he got as a freebie and doesn't need, plus a tub full of teeny lettuce and a big tray of onions, red and white. So this year it appears I will be growing onions. I am aware that tights may become useful for storage at some point. 

Along with all that we went to the garden centre nearby and bought some herbs, I don't know how much herbs should cost but we got 8 pots for £10. I ran around the garden collecting up empty pots that had been deposited by the wind and planted everything up and they're now lining the front of the patio. In the course of my chasing I discovered the strawberry plants that had taken flight recently. They'd landed upside down and were a bit squished but four of them were still green so I planted them too and they're starting to look a bit more perky. 

So, I have green stuff, floral stuff and potentially edible stuff. That's not too shabby for a new starter. 

Monday, 24 February 2014

Failing To Not Shop, Volume 87.

that's a real man, not a prop

We experienced two new and exciting places this weekend. The first was on Friday when we visited Blackpool Catholic Club to watch John Hegley. It was a performance to tie in with Dance Swine Dance at the Grundy Art Gallery. The club was a great venue, everyone was very nice, the drinks flowed, the poetry and songs were great and we had the opportunity to channel our inner guillemot. Fun all round.

The second new, to us, place was in St Anne's itself. This trip started midweek when we'd been to drop a few dozen jigsaws off at the charity shop and took a different route home. "STOP!" I shouted. We reversed down St Andrew's Road South and there it was - The Second Hand Rose. What? A Mid Century furniture shop here in the town, since October and I didn't know? Blimey, I wander through this life with my eyes welded together. The shop is open on Friday and Saturday only, so we had to wait. 

We made the somewhat dubious decision to go in the car even though we were just going for a look. The shop sells small decorative items, some very cool and unusual artwork, bits and bobs of fabric and lighting as well as larger pieces of furniture - there was a wardrobe, armchairs, coffee tables, a dining set and a sofa or two when we were there. I was being very restrained having only bought some fabric when Dan pointed to something towards the back of the shop. It is no longer in the shop, it's in my garage. I'd already taken the legs off by the time I got my phone to take some pictures. 

the previous owner selected the bold colour choice of one layer bluish, one layer pinkish

The very wonderful and friendly owner helped Dan manhandle it into the back of the car (not that easy as the boot is a daft shape) and we were off, thankful for the 20mph speed limit we have in most of the town.

The cabinet is in a very sorry state. Not only has shabby chic been performed unto it, the crime of decoupage has also been committed. Thankfully the person who performed these acts didn't believe in sanding or priming so the paint should come off fairly easily. Unfortunately they didn't scrimp on PVA, so the decoupage poinsettia may prove more of a challenge. I'm very like Larry David when it comes to wood - respecting the wood is all important. If it's in a bad state or it's the only way to save it from the skip then I'm not scared to paint, but if there's no need then why mess with it?


I'll let you know how I get on, I could be gone a while. 

I received nothing other than great service and a new project from the shop for writing this post. Ha!


Thursday, 20 February 2014

Shocker - February Shopping Week Three

A ridiculous shopping week covering February 14th - 20th. After my slop strop we went a bit bonkers. Having gone through the two cookbooks we have a list of ingredients we want to buy and I bought a few of them this week. 

£26.10 f&v potatoes, leeks, onions, chillies, mushrooms, cauli, celeriac, kale, grapes, lemons, salad, squash, olives, basil etc.
£ 6.46 dairy and non-dairy
£5.56 lentils and things rte lentils (emergency stash), tinned beans
£17.25 pantry sandwich stuff, sundried tomatoes, passata, oil, herbs and spices
£ 5.41 bread
£ 7.20 drinks coffee, ovaltine
£ 0.20 non-food cost of newspaper after loyalty card voucher
£ 1.20 junk Fishermans Friends.

£69.38 minus £5 voucher = £64.38

Bringing the total so far to a rather large £130.50.

That's a crazy amount for one week but a big bag of spuds was £5, the coffee was £4 for Dan to take to work, we have a big tub of chillies and sliced lemons in the freezer and two of the three freezer drawers are filled with bread. It is what it is, as long as we enjoy what we eat and don't chuck any of it away it doesn't really matter. We're well over my desired £110 but still comfortably under the £190 we set aside for groceries and household each month. 



Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Tuesday

9am 

where am I? in the living room watching a squirrel in the garden (this is exciting for me as it's only the second squirrel I've seen in this town)

what's the sky like? grey with threats of blue and sun

what am I wearing? grey and purple striped jumper, purple skirt

what's motivating me? squirrel, removing whatever that thing is that's causing the iron to be weird, clean and organised kitchen, scones, tea

2pm

where am I? the charity shop, behind the counter

what's the sky like? blue-grey

what am I wearing? as 9 am plus grey converse

what's motivating me? joy at the roof being fixed, busy busy busy busy busy shop, waaaaaay too much noise

5pm

where am I? in the car

what's the sky like? grey, pale blue and white

what am I wearing? as 2pm but with an orange coat

what's motivating me? lentil stuffed peppers, Dan's new glasses (no more taped up specs), sumac berries, Oystercatchers, horlicks


Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Slop

Firstly,my apologies, some comments yesterday have disappeared, don't know what happened, I'm not ignoring anyone.

Now, another post about how I don't really like cooking.

I hit the wall last week. maybe it's more that I'm fed up with the pretty much endless rain, wind and general yuck in terms of this rubbish winter than the food itself. But I was just so fed up of eating sloppy, lentilly gunk that I couldn't face it any longer. I had a mini strop. 

That's why and how I ended up with the River Cottage Veg book, I thought that even though I'm not a massive fan of HFW he would probably represent a good change. I wasn't wrong, there are some very simple but exciting looking ideas in there (I know everyone already knows about this and I'm the straggler). I also decided to take a look at a couple of the other books I still own, I took a massive stack of them to the charity shop last year. My Mum is obsessed with The Book People and reads the booklet to me whenever she thinks there will be something I'll like. She ordered "Anjum's Indian Vegetarian Feast" months ago but I'd only had a quick scan of it. Looking again through new eyes it's another good one. There are a few spices I need to get me going but it looks like the recipes are fairly simple but delicious. I'll be giving them a go. 

There's still the rest of this month to get through and I wanted to throw the menu plan out of the window. But having examined it, it's not that bad. If I swap chilli for something less slop-like I can still have the sweet potato mash. The curry, berbere and bean stew can be adapted to be less of a gloop and the risotto and things are just what I'm after. So not too bad at all. 

After writing this first bit I spoke to Dan, we came up with the idea that we'd base our menu plan for a week on recipes from one cookbook. So the first week in March will be recipes from River Cottage, the week after the Indian Feast book. I don't know if it will work but it sounds like fun. I'm getting more excited about cooking and even more excited to get the herb garden set up. 

Monday, 17 February 2014

New Season

you may not recognise this as Southport due to visible sea
Yesterday was the start of the new season for us. Yes, it has come round quickly. Instead of the mooching around the house doing nothing in particular we decided to go to Southport beforehand. It's kind of on the way and we can generally see Southport from our beach. It seems so close and yet so far away. So we went. It was a gorgeous day, we managed to grab some free parking and off we headed. 

We pretty much ran to the beach as I was sure I'd seen water. For those of you who aren't familiar with Southport it's a "well known fact" that the tide is always out. I think last year was the first time I'd ever experienced the tide being in. Amazing. We didn't venture onto the pier as it was a bit windy and I've had enough of that for the time being. So we wandered along and came across an outdoor gym! Lovelygrey had spoken about them a little while ago. I'd never seen one before so I had to have a go, it was brilliant! I wish we had one in LSA, I'd be there all the time. After my workout we had a wander into the town and I got hold of a new pyrex lidded casserole. I wanted one that was small enough for just two servings. Managed to get one at Beales, got to the till and it was 30% off, which made it cheaper than one I'd seen in a charity shop last week. Very happy.

The on to the main event. First game of the season, Widnes v London. This is by no stretch of the imagination a glamour tie. It's kind of the battle of who could care less, so good to get it out of the way first. London are in all manner of trouble, it was their turn to be the club who didn't have a team two weeks ago (a title previously held by Widnes, it's never nice). The weather was amazing and I sat through the first half without needing my coat, it was beautiful. Widnes new boys Danny Tickle, Danny Galea and Paul Johnson featured. I didn't really pay much attention to Johnson but kept thinking "who is that?" and it turned out it was Galea, so he must have done some good work. Danny Tickle was impressive in attack and defence, scoring both a try and 10/11 (I think) conversions. It was fantastic to see Stefan Marsh, Chris Dean and Paddy Flynn back in the team, all getting on the scoresheet. Joe Mellor was a delight as always and captain Kevin Brown scored a hat trick. Final score 64-10. It was a tough game for London but they did show signs of quality, stringing it together for a full game was difficulty, cutting out the penalties will go a long way to stemming the concession of points. No game for Widnes next week, they should have been playing Wigan Warriors but they're in Australia for the World Club Challenge v the Sydney Roosters. It feels good to be back, for now at least. 

Friday, 14 February 2014

February Shopping Week Two

thank you very much
It turns out I'd built up enough cash to receive a voucher, so that's £5 to go into savings. Of course last week I spent £41 not £51, got a bit cash happy when writing! Week two (7th - 13th) seemed very strange as all the stuff was bought in dribs and drabs. By Wednesday we were running out of lunch stuff, thankfully Dan was at an event in Hull where lunch was provided. 

I ended up making some bread from a mix I bought at Aldi the other week. I don't enjoy making bread so I'm not sure why I bought it, but I'm glad I did as it was a lifesaver. So that helped me get through Wednesday. By Thursday we were out of milk, bread, sandwich filling, tomatoes and all the other fall back foods. So I made some pasties with mince and veg, they were ok, nothing more than that but they filled the gap and I didn't have to nip to the shop so it was a win-win. 

£10.27 fruit and veg lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, apples, pakchoi, melon
£ 0.00 bread
£ 2.72 dairy and non-dairy
£ 2.10 lentils and things falafel
£ . 69 pantry coconut milk
£ 5.95 non-food toothpaste x2, deodorant x2, mouthwash x2
£ 3.05 junk crisps, chocolate, ice bun

Week Total £24.78


Running Total £66.12

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Focus

While I'm not officially following Dreamer's 52 projects plan, the idea of it has been swimming round in my mind and a few unfinished or long forgotten plans are in my thoughts - especially where the garden is concerned. Plus the rest of this month and next are going to be fairly subdued as we stumped up the best part of £600 on Dan's new glasses and suit over the weekend. It will impact on the savings but needs must. 

my beautiful assistant and very dirty window frame

Three years ago or so I decided I wanted to do something creative, to make a seasidey thing. I started what I thought was going to be a wallhanging for the bedroom. However, it all went horribly wrong and after months of work I realised that the painting I'd done had ruined the stitching so it was, in the current form, unusable. So two years later it's still in a cupboard waiting for me to chop it up and frame the small bits. 


pound coin for scale!

a shell or a stone

the tide line

Inspired by this post from modflowers I decided I wanted to do a bit of embroidery, so I went to the library yesterday to look for something to help me. I haven't done any embroidery since I was at college, 20 years ago so I need some help to remember the stitches. I've started a small sampler. It's amazing how much concentration it's taking and I'm finding it very hard to be so neat. Whatever I'd normally do, I'm doing the opposite and having to concentrate is certainly that (I haven't made enough progress to take a picture!). 

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

The Garden

Everyone in my family loves gardening which means I've never really been interested in it, and there's the thing that until I was 35 I didn't have a garden to look after. I'm pretty late to the party. Father keeps bringing tubs of lettuce and strawberries but I fail to look after them, the blackbirds ate the strawberries, so at least they grew!

When we moved here the garden was overgrown. Father, assisted by Dan, evened out the sunken patio and cut half the garden back one year and half the next. Each time the stuff removed was as high and wide as the garage. We have a spongey mass of moss and clover where a lawn should be (I don't mind that too much as bees and goldfinches seem to like it). I don't wish to discuss the brambles. The area that would normally be soil is sand with small amounts of brown stuff. It's all held together by dandelions, thousands of them, everywhere! Again, they are useful as the buns love love love them so it's a free treat

In nearly 4 years all I've done is remove a huge amount of prickles, planted some bulbs, 2 heuchera and lots of alpines. I think this year is the year to put my empty promises of concentrating on the garden into action. As I mentioned yesterday I bought a copy of River Cottage Veg so now I want herbs, that should be fairly simple, I want to sit outside and other than that I just want it to look nice. The person who planted the garden was clearly a real plant lover as the shrubs work really well together. As soon as one thing stops flowering something else starts, the colours work really well together and all the plants are there to attract bees and butterflies. I want to keep that basic idea and just look after it and primp it. I need to be brave and do something with the tangle of 5 plants along the back wall, looks like it's a job that will involve training things to grow somewhere, could be an adventure.

That's the thing isn't it, the outdoor housework part, but it looks like it could be ok, being outside with tools, picking things out of the ground and drinking tea. Sounds like fun when I put it like that. 

We have a very large rhododendron, every year it develops what looks like things that will turn into flowers, we only ever see about three blooms. I think it might be good to really cut it back a lot, would that help? It would help me feel like I was doing something!

Monday, 10 February 2014

Imperfect

spotted at Fairhaven Lake
 A little while ago someone mentioned on their blog that the town I live in looked a bit down at heel. I replied saying we were fine. And the town is ok, it's one of those things, it's a small town with the same issues as other places, it just happens to be at the seaside. 

Dan has a day off today so we decided to stay local, have a walk on the beach and a look around. I even decided to have a poke in some of the charity shops, I had really got out of the habit over the past few years but decided to see how other shops were compared to "mine". We went to my town's more jaunty sister first and I ended up buying a copy of the River Cottage Veg book, it cost a fiver, seems like a good buy. 

We ventured back up into the town as Dan broke his glasses on Friday so is having his eyes tested. He's a dear do at the minute as he needed a suit, we ended up with two suits and just had to not think about the cost too much. Anyway, I think Sarah was right. Visiting the town for the first time it might look a bit depressing, there are many many many charity shops, a discount bakery and discount stores everywhere, plus a sign that a food bank is opening. We also looked round and saw the very nice, but not glamorous, bakery, the really nice pub, the independent department store and the other small businesses that you wouldn't know were there if you only visited the square. 

When it comes down to it, we didn't move there for the shops, we moved there for the one thing that changes but doesn't change, the beach. I say beach rather than sea because there's very rarely any sea to see. I've lived in a city that everyone seems to love because it's just so jaunty. I hated it, far too sterile and one dimensional (it still had the same problems as everywhere else, it was just all outside the walls). 

I think what I concluded is that we see what we want to see and we stop seeing what we don't want to see. I am purposely not seeing the light that doesn't work in the bathroom, the flooring we don't have in the living room, the bathroom in general and the back door I can't unlock. It doesn't mean it's not great, it just means it's real. I also met a fab, slightly eccentric lady at the Sue Ryder shop who gave me the offer I couldn't refuse - buy one get one free on some pillow cases, £1.50 for two cases, loads of fabric for a quilt back or some other thing. I'm happy to be where I am. 



Friday, 7 February 2014

Dealing With Little Bits

More mundane fun.


the scraps had been piled up next to this jar and I still didn't put two and two together


I've started to amass quite a few scraps from quilting and things and they turn up everywhere. I've tried lots of different ways to contain them and none have done the trick. Yesterday I was in the pantry admiring the trolleys yet again when I saw the empty jars sitting there. "Hang on" I thought to myself, so now I have a jar of scraps. Then I thought about it and realised that Dan's Asterix figures live in the jelly bean dispenser, the candles live in a spaghetti jar and I have a memory jar in the spare room full of trinkets - badges, paperweight of Pope John Paul II, keyrings, pictures of Phil Jagielka, wedding favours etc, not to mention food in the pantry and pins stored in jam jars. The answer has been staring me in the face! Why and how have I never thought of it before? It is true, I walk through this life with my glasses off. I think in some sense that's how my house came to be such a tip in the first place, I just stopped seeing what was in front of me. 




In an attempt to keep scraps of paper to a minimum quite a few years ago I started keeping recipes in a photo album. It was a really useful thing for me as I could swap the arrangement round when I felt the need or I could get rid of a card if the recipe wasn't to our liking or whatever. Plus it helped me to feel super organised when I really wasn't. 

Last year or the year before, can't remember which, I swapped the recipe book for a box. This is far better for me as the cards are loose so I can just move whichever card I want to the front and view it easily. I write the recipes on different coloured postcards depending on what type of food it is - basics like sauces, everyday meals, stews and pies or spicy things. It makes it easy to flip through. I use tabs to help me find family favourites so I'm not constantly hunting for the same things time and again. All that to say now we're having a mini shake up of our meals, I'm on the hunt for new ideas so I'll be putting the box to good use finding new ideas to fill my cards. 

This was the productive part of the day. I was feeling good so decided to make some soup, sweep the kitchen and generally tidy up. I started the soup, swept the floor, discovered the kitchen bin was full so started to empty it. The bin bag exploded covering me, the recently swept floor and the soup in bits of uncooked quinoa porridge that was in the bin bag, then I snapped the mop as I was cleaning up. It did not please me!

Thursday, 6 February 2014

The Junk Drawer

More mundane fun. 

I like to think I'm reasonably tidy and organised these days, and I know I've spoken of my junk drawer before - the time I trapped £20 inside, but I'm at it again. It was beyond a joke. 




When I first got myself and the house (our old house) organised I didn't have a junk drawer, everything had a place, but I decided here it might be nice to have a rummage place to stash stuff. Not to mention the fact that the toolbox etc lives in the garage and occasionally it's just too much faff to go out there just to return one item. 

The drawer is small, measuring 42 x 31.5 x 8cm. But it still holds a lot of stuff. Stuff including 2 RLWC 2013 tickets, 15 batteries, a clock needing a battery but not one of the 15 I have, 4 receipts (less than I thought there would be), 3 appointment cards for my haircut, but not the one for my next appointment, 7 expired vouchers, 18 keys, 2 torches, a 12 year old tin of vaseline (we've lived here for just under 4 years), 5 postcards, 6 pens, 5p, 2 foreign coins (from places we've never visited), 6 buttons and 5 glasses cleaning cloths. 



It's now tidier but I still managed to add yet another calculator, a coin, a pair of scissors and a tape measure to the contents. I thought I could do without a junk drawer but really I just need to be more strict with paper.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

A Bit of Freezer Cooking

This is part of my life audit, a really mundane example of it but it's a nice (for me) illustration of how things are being put into practice. I have still only chosen two of my important words but they're already helping me to focus on things in small ways. It seems to be easier and easier to just do that one extra thing or one little primp which is brilliant for me.

I don't really batch cook, I don't have pans big enough to cook more than about 3 meals worth of anything but I do cook for the freezer. I spent quite a lot at the supermarket on Monday so it looks like today is going to be a cooking day. 

Before we went shopping I needed to make something with what we had left so I made a ... thing. I roasted half a shallot, a green pepper, some mushrooms and a few bits of broccoli with sundried tomatoes in oil, paprika and sage. Then added a tin of butterbeans, a big squeeze of veg puree and some veg stock and shoved it back in the oven. It was very nice, even with the green pepper, not my favourite thing in the world, but there was one in the bag so it had to be used. There was a little bit left over so I grilled some veg sausages, chopped them up and chucked them in to have for tea last night. Splendid again. I was even organised enough to write the idea down so I can make it again. I'll probably use some green lentils next time too. 

Today I'm going to make two chestnut pies, well they're not really pies, they're stew with a pastry lid. I bought some puff pastry on Monday and before I put it in the freezer cut each sheet in half so it's stored in portion size pieces. I 'll just make the stew and freeze it like that rather than adding the pastry, so if I want to make cobbler or make shortcrust pastry instead then it's easy to do. Easier to store too. It's a variation of this Rooty Chestnut Pie recipe, but I haven't got any beer so I'll just use soy sauce or yeast extract to make the saucy bit. 

I'm going to make a pan of chilli, curry, shepherdess pie and lentil bol type stuff. I usually make these together as the basic ingredients are the same. In my biggest pan I cook some shallots, leeks, carrots, peppers, mushrooms and whatever other veg there is. When the time comes divide it up and add red lentils and cauli to the curry, kidney beans and lentils to the chilli, red and green lentils and maybe some veg mince to the bol and baked beans, red and green lentils to the shepherdess pie. Nice and simple.

That will make enough for at least 10 meals which is 1/3 of a month without even thinking about it. The chilli and bol might stretch to 3 meals each which is even better. They're the family favourites for us to fall back on when the menu plan falls by the wayside and we just need to grab and go. Having this safety blanket of ready meals frees me up to be creative with what's left. There will still be a ton of veg left over so it's making the £50 spend seem not too bad. 

Oh, I bought a red cabbage too, I know it's a basic thing but I've never cooked it, or really eaten it before. We had it alongside the hotpot we had at Tate Liverpool on Saturday so now I want to eat it all the time. Isn't it cheap! That's another thing to cook, might try to make a hot pot too. Now I know I'll run out of pans. 

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

February Shopping Week One

First order of business this month was to get to the bank to replace the money I spent on the charity shop stuff last week. Dan has posted a cheque with our savings for this month, boosted by the Council Tax money, so that's an extra hundred and fifty odd quid without even having to think about it. There was £1.80 in my purse from last month so that went into the Q pot. I don't know how much we'll have in the sealed Q pot by the end of the year, I'd be delighted if it was anywhere close to £100 though. Not that I'm going to force it when there are so many other savings pots to be filled. 

I'm still feeling stodgy and yuck so I'm going to eat slightly differently in the morning and at lunch time, hopefully that will help. We went shopping on Monday this week and here's how it worked out. 

£14.95 f&v melon, kiwi fruit, bananas, tomatoes, cucumber, shallots, cauliflower, broccoli, leeks, red cabbage, carrots, mushrooms
£ 6.08 lentils and things chestnuts, veg mince, veg sausages
£14.02 pantry bay leaves, cayenne, passata, pasta, soy sauce, puff pastry, marigold powder, soba noodles
£ 4.53 dairy and non-dairy
£ 1.97 bread
£ 4.79 drinks tea
£ 5.00 non-food laundry liquid x2

Week one total £51.34

As I bought quite a lot of clothing at the end of last year I'm kind of having a no clothes buying year. I am very disappointed to be going through socks like there's no tomorrow. This is the downside to binge buying clothes, things tend to wear out at the same time. I guess buying socks and underwear maybe isn't quite the same as buying outerwear. I bought a pair of walking socks at the weekend, they were £4.99 so could have been cheaper, could have been dearer. I went for them as they are size 3-5.5 rather than the general size 4-8 which can wrinkle and rub when we're doing a longer walk. Hopefully they'll do the trick. 

Monday, 3 February 2014

In Every Kind Of Weather

We've decided not to take to much notice of the weather forecast from now on. We kept an eye on things all week, put off by the threat of super high tides, overtopping, rain and 70mph winds we decided to keep Dan's birthday low key and stay at home. So I built a blanket fort, stocked up on treats and planned nothing.

Then we got up on Saturday and it wasn't that bad. So we went to Liverpool to see the final weekend of Art Turning Left, well worth the visit, so we were exceptionally glad we didn't allow ourselves to be put off. The level of the river was very high, very grey and very wobbly, gorgeous. Of the many great things in the exhibition was a participation section where we were invited to stitch anything we liked onto a length of golden fabric, so I did!

does participation deliver equality?

We had some financial success at the Tate too, our Art Pass meant paid half price to get in to the exhibition, saving £4 each. Dan had also read about a parking deal so we saved £3 on parking by using the Liverpool One car park and just asking for a voucher when we arrived at the gallery. We also asked in the shop if we received a discount with an Art Pass, the guy didn't know but said "let's give it a go" and there we were, 10% off! We should have tried it in the cafe too, didn't think of that, we did enjoy a delicious lentil hotpot there, well worth a visit. 

Sunday morning was gorgeous and Dan decided he wanted to go to Ambleside, so we did. We had a poke round the shops and enjoyed the fresh air. In one of the shops I found £5 on the floor,  I told the manager who replied "lucky you". I felt a bit weird about it so when Dan suggested giving it to charity she said that they had a charity box. So that's what we did, shoved it into the mountain rescue box. I know it would have boosted the savings to keep it, and I probably would have done had I found it in the street but I didn't, so I didn't.