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Showing posts from April, 2014

April Menu

I didn't do a menu plan this month, but other than one day I can't remember, I took a note of what we ate. There's nothing super exciting in there. the nicest thing was the tamarind and chipotle roasted tofu. It was delicious! Some with salad and the leftovers on a sandwich, yum yum yum. 

The main thing I've learned from this is that we weren't as focused on food. There were quite a few days we were happy with a sandwich, we didn't think about shopping all that much and we did a lot more "chuck it in and see" meals which was great. I'm not planning again next month as the other bonus was that we came in well under budget. 

1. roast veg and butterbeans in tomato and rosemary sauce w. avocado and ciabatta
2. green lentil hot pot w. celeriac and potato topping. 
3. burrito
4. pizza
5. sandwich

6. sandwich
7. beans on toast
8. roast
9. roast (requested by Dan as he enjoyed the first one so much)
10 bns and spinach curry
11 out
12 tamarind & chipotle roast tofu…

watching elegant lady

I spoke to Elegant Lady this week
Actually, I really inconvenienced her but no need to dwell on that. I put her things in the nicest bag we had to make up for it, it did not go unnoticed.

So what did I learn? She just looks "on the off chance". She sticks to neutrals for shoes (mainly) trousers and coats/jackets. She does use colour but limits it per outfit and always accessorises. They can be statement pieces but they coordinate with one or more items she's already wearing.

Time Flies

A couple of weeks ago I decided to start the spring cleaning so everything was looking as it should by the time we go to the stag do and Dan's mum comes over to rabbit sit. But time flies and instead of spending our time doing what should be done we've been out enjoying ourselves instead. 

As far as I've got with the spring clean is to put new flooring down in the rabbit pen and cleaning the top of the kitchen cupboards. One of those tasks was more important than the other, no doubt about that. 

Will the spring clean happen in the next few weeks? Well, looking out of the window at the sunshine, I doubt it.

Charity Shops and Freebies

I think the fact I've bought more from charity shops this week than ever before must be due, in part at least, to the fact I'm now happy working at my shop. Between the two of us, this week we've spent a whopping £30.96 in various charity shops! Here's what we bought -

£19.97 3 skirts (2 Boden, 1 Hobbs)
£ 2.00 cd
£ 3.00 gift for my brother
£ 2.00 shrug
£ 3.99 knitted top (Jigsaw)

That's a lot of shopping but it's a lot of stuff of the needs/wants list too. the gift we bought for my brother went down exceptionally well, so it was well worth the money. 

We went out for lunch yesterday to celebrate two birthdays, Father and my brother. It was noisy (apologies to everyone else in the place) and a little chaotic but it seemed to go well. As well as a free meal we also came home with some plants. We forgot to bring home the planter of veg Father had made up for us and a big pot of verbena, but we did remember a couple of beans and some spring onions. There's also a c…

How Do Belts Work?

A regular customer in the charity shop has caught my eye - not for the usual reasons. I call her "Elegant Lady", she always looks amazing. Her clothes aren't fancy or posh brands but she always looks very well put together, even when it's just jeans, t-shirt and pumps. She just has that certain something.

I do not have that.

I am aware, however, that to look a bit more pulled together belts would be a good idea. Here is my thing. How do you stop the end of the belt flapping about when there are no belt loops on your skirt? I don't know. How does that work? I know that if I wore a belt I'd end up looking like I had a side tail. I have an elasticated belt that fastens with a clip so there is no flap at all but I can't seem to find any more like that, well other than some that resemble a weight lifting belt or some kind of corset. 

I have narrowed the belt flap solutions down to - cutting the belt, sticking the flap with some double sided tape, folding the flap…



where am I? in the kitchen, looking for my scarf

what am I wearing? grey leggings, new blue flowery skirt, grey t-shirt

what's the sky like? looks like rain

what's motivating me? Going to a new place!


where am I? in the cellar of a bookshop looking at car manuals and stymie bold italic spotting

what am I wearing? as 9am, plus scarf, tevas and red coat

what's the sky like? not visible

what's motivating me? wonky floors, jelly and tip-top beer, warm water straight from the ground, fancy baths, Frank Matcham at it again, exciting tiles, charity shopping


where am I? up a hill in the car

what am I wearing? as 9am

what's the sky like? very grey and very misty

what's motivating me? steam trains, Halo, cornflake cakes, knitted shrug/ cape (depending on the mood)

Bargains or Not-Bargains

Whether these are bargains or not very much depends on your point of view. I went back to the charity shop this morning to buy the three skirts I'd seen there yesterday. They weren't very cheap, I paid £20 for the three, and skirts are only on my secondary "wants" list but I mentioned it to Dan and he was extra keen on me getting them, so that tipped me over the edge and I did. 

I am entitled to a discount, but I didn't take it. Am I daft? I probably am as I could have saved around £4 but the shop exists to raise money. I'd be well annoyed if I was working hard every week* and everyone was getting extra cheap stuff, or the stuff we donated was going for next to nothing. Maybe I'm looking at it the wrong way but there you go. 

I also went to the library to return some gardening books and upon my return the postman had delivered a little gift from Coby, as a thank you for the Easter gift we'd sent to the other bunnies at the rescue.

*I don't work hard …

The Red Coat

Two more things then I think my wardrobe is probably full as this weekend I ticked something off the list. 

Last year I decided I wanted a mac. A mac seemed like an easy way to get the slightly smarter look I'm after without any fuss. I have tried on many, many macs none of them were quite right. I won't go into the many and varied reasons why they weren't right, you name it and I hit the problem.

This weekend we weren't supposed to be shopping, other than for a gift for Father but I found myself in Debenhams searching for the facilities. We found ourselves in the old lady section of the store, the classic section and I found one. I normally wouldn't want to think that I fall into the category of wearing old lady clothes but hey, who cares!

I think this one item has done more for my wardrobe than anything else - it's long enough to cover me up if it's a bit wet/cold/windy but it's not my tramping about in the wilderness coat. It's not woolly like my ot…

Small Things

Our weekend has been scaled back a little as I've not been feeling great. We've still done the small things though 

Cleaned the top of the kitchen cupboards

Mystery shopped two pubs, which included visiting somewhere we'd never been before

Weeded the largest flowerbed

Sewed a few blocks of an almost forgotten quilt

Visited the library

Went to the Lancashire market, met some great people and picked up a gift for Father's birthday

Made some rabbit toys (now destroyed)


I even left my phone at home so I didn't spend the whole time taking photographs, that simple act was so relaxing even though I love to have a reminder of our days. That's that, simply nothing to report!

Sideboard Update

After my whatever that was last week where I wanted to get rid of everything in the house and finding out that Dan really likes the sideboard I decided to make it work. 

When we tidied the garage the other day I unearthed a little metal platform/shelf thing to go along with the small metal shelf thing I already had in the house. 

I also appropriated a biscuit tin, given to us by our friend when she came to stay last year. The lid is being used as a tray for some small boxes, fabric paint etc and the main bit holds my lino cutting stuff and other bits and bobs. I also use these very useful items

They're the feet from our old sofa! Until we got rid of it I really thought the feet were wood. It wasn't until we removed them to get it through the door that I knew they were in fact plastic, ideal for storing bits and bobs. Using these few things the storage potential increased no end. I now have a suitable space for my craft stuff.

There's even room on the bottom shelf for the colou…

Mystery Shopping

Dan is a bloke, in full time employment, in his mid 30's. He gets to fill in lots of surveys (as long as they don't discount him as he researches for a living), which is a good thing. A little while ago he stumbled across an opportunity to mystery shop for a pub chain. 

Yesterday he received an email offering the choice of 8 or 9 places to try, some were to test food and drink, some just for drinks, but it doesn't say which is which until a location is selected. We picked one not too far away, it turns out we're just there to check out the drinks. So we're going to head off this weekend. Could be fun.

That Holiday Feeling

When I talk about stuff here, it's just the stuff that's on my mind. It's the mundane things that make up the whole, that's why there are no jaunty filters on the pictures and often no pictures at all. It is what it is. As you know we don't go away on holiday. We last went away in Spring 2009, we were nearly stranded in a snowstorm at the top of a hill in the Lakes but that's not why I didn't enjoy it, I didn't enjoy it because we'd just lost our rabbit and I was too sad. I'm not that bothered about holidays in reality but I do like that holiday feeling. You know that whatever it is that you want to hold onto for the rest of the year. 
Last weekend is the closest to a holiday I think we've ever had in my time with Dan. We started on our debt free journey a few years into our relationship so other than spending weekends with friends and things like that we didn't go away. Then we had no cash and then we had pets. The four day weekend was …

Small Step Gardening

My super long weekend was cut short. I thought Dan was off today too but sadly not. 

As you know I'm not much of a gardener but I do want to do more, so this weekend we did a bit. We also went to the library and I checked out a ton of books, I now have the start of a garden notebook. Between that and Dan asking a man at the garden centre about soil I think I learned more this weekend than in the whole of the rest of my life about growing things. 

It's very small and humble so don't laugh. We started off with this amazing award winning lawn and by the end of the day we had a hole, a big pile of stones and a lot of old lawn that we didn't know what to do with. 

Then we had a day out in Cockermouth. Then we cleaned and tidied the garage and watched Catalan v Widnes on the telly. 

Then we did some more digging and planted some onions, herbs and strawberries. It might be right, it might be wrong but as the man at the garden centre said - plants want to grow so don't worry t…

Sacred Sideboards

I am anti-faff. I know everyone kind of is but I really am anything for an easy life, apart from when it comes to quilting. In that regard I love the misery. 

Doing the life audit means looking at things that touch my life as well as things that I am/do. I've worked really hard at getting rid of the barriers that stop me doing the things I want to do most and things are easier. Much of the time it's just about not thinking too much. There are two things that are holding me back and they're big in a way and small in other ways. They are both a faff though. 

Firstly, the garden. There is a lot of work to do in the garden and I am eternally thankful to Father for doing the main clearing and fence fixing. However, there are some things I want to do myself. Father is in no way stopping me from doing it, but having to deal with the fall out of my decision making is. Because he's a proper gardener he wants to help me avoid all the mistakes, but for me to feel confident about ga…

The Haberdashery

I was told there was a really nice fabric shop on King Street in Blackpool, so when Dan went to get his wig chopped on Friday I went with him for a putter around. I wandered up Birley Street, through the market, past the square then thought "am I in the right place". I nipped into a pet shop and spoke to a very nice man who sold me a new toy for the buns then I was off. Had a look at the soon-to-be supermarket and council offices then turned onto the street in question. There was the haberdashery, just opposite The Hop pub. I couldn't tell how nice it was as I couldn't really see inside. So I went in.

I quickly realised I wasn't in the shop the person had told me about. 

I was, in fact, somewhere far better. I spent over an hour in the shop discussing all manner of important topics with the owner. Had I wanted some fabric the chances of me being able to buy it would have been pretty slim as we were in some kind of fabric Jenga situation, so I settled for some sundr…

A Bit Thrift, A Lot Deluxe

I'm not going to end this with the expensive punchline, I'll get it out of the way first.

I spent £17.50 on a bottle of shower gel. 

No-one talked me into it, not the salesman who offered me fruit tea or pink wine and squirted us with stuff, not the guilt factor of being in a fancy shop with no intention of buying anything. Dan heavily encouraged me that is true, but I just said "why not"? I know now that a really good reason why is that it was seventeen and a half quid for soap and there need be no more reason why not, but we are where we are.

It's probably the most extreme thing I've done as part of the life audit/desire map so far. As I mentioned a while ago I wanted to work through all the toiletries that have piled up over the last little while. Well, the shower gel I was using (a gift) made me smell like an old lady. And I mean an old lady when I was little when old ladies were old, not the fun let-your-hair-down types they are now, I was one step away fr…

Budget Cooking

The danger with not planning and just in time shopping is the potential for budget blowing. The fact I'm concerned about this three days in is a big deal. I spent a lot of cash on Tuesday, mainly on nuts, seeds and dried fruit, but after I'd been at the charity shop I went to M&S to get something for tea...

It was delicious but it was also quite expensive, thankfully there are lots of bits and bobs left over for the rest of the week. So last night I went very budget and I think it was possibly just as nice in a very different way. I made lentil hotpot. It appeals to me as it's no fuss, it's a one pot and once it's in that pot you can sit down for an hour!

It was just - 

1/3 cup or thereabouts green lentils
1/2 a big onion, thinly sliced
3 sliced potatoes (I used a mixture of celeriac and spuds)
some stock
additional herbs
splash of soy sauce or your favourite gluten free alternative

Layer the spuds, lentils and onions up, pour the stock over, stick in the oven for an ho…

Proper March Round Up

Apparently being tired has rendered me unable to think and write at the same time so yesterday I think I said even less than usual. I just can't sleep, I'm reaching zombie state I think. 

Anyway. I did achieve some things in March, we spent a lot of money with booking the hotel for the wedding, having the car serviced and the slight hangover from having the roof repaired. So we didn't save much. There were other successes though. 

Despite it going a bit awry I attempted some new recipes, most of which will make a repeat appearance on the menu at some point - I don't believe we need to relive any of that, it felt like I talked of nothing else for about three weeks! I made a scarf, a bag and a necklace, I decided to save up for a sewing machine. I sorted out my wardrobe and have a realistic idea of things I would like to have for the warmer weather, it's not as much as I thought.

I don't follow any of the 365 day or one-a-week challenges but I do read and gain inspi…

March Round Up

With all the excitement of ditching the menu plan and so on I forgot to think about what we bought last week. I know we bought some bread, greens and houmous from the co-op and spent about £4 and we spent £23.33 at the supermarket. So we were right up around the £190 budget which considering the pantry restock and things I'm pretty pleased. 

We're ditching the weekly shopping trip to and just going as and when. What with wanting to avoid the tyranny of the fridge and the amount of times we're out somewhere and there's a nice roadside sale, market or other source of nice looking stuff that we can[t take advantage of due to having been to the supermarket, it seems to make sense. I say that now, when it's raining I''m sure I'll feel differently. It means I'll be doing a lot more shopping on my own as I can go to the monthly market and the greengrocer during the day when Dan's at work, but that's good too as I need the push to get me out walking.…