Monday, 29 September 2014

Looking Out

More domesticity.


The garden is a bit of a mess at the minute. I haven't done anything out there for months. There are strawberry runners everywhere, things to be pulled out, and as you can see from the front of the picture, a new pile of mystery plants given to me yesterday by Father. 

Most of them are mystery plants, there are some bulbs, a pot of bare twigs, something quite bushy. There's something that may be a hellebore (please let it be so), a mock orange and a bushy thing that even I know to be a hebe. Clearing must be done in order to fit them in. Where they will go is anyone's guess.  I have to clear the strawberry bed as Father had no success with his this year so I'm donating my runners to him - they love strawberries, I'm not that bothered and Dan can't eat them. 

The garden is one of those things, I really want it to look nice, I really want to putter in it, but at the weekend Dan doesn't really want to do it and he won't sit out in the sun so it's a bit of a lonely job. He does enjoy the onions though!

As well as the mystery plants Father donated a bag of not at all mystery veg - two squash, leeks, a turnip, two small aubergines (I don't like them so Dan just went for two littlies) , a pile of chard and a couple of yellow courgettes. An amazing haul to end one month and start another. This should last us for a wee while and I'm looking forward to preparing it.


The leeks smell amazing, so they're on the list to be grown next time. I think chard could be a good bet too. 

Friday, 26 September 2014

Having A Sort Out

The week of domesticity continues

I always enjoy reading about Project 333 and all that kind of thing, but it turns out today something really clicked with me. I hadn't really thought about the "think about it" pile. I'd just considered that the "ignore" pile really, but then I read something by Courtney Carver today that made the penny drop. this pile is for the stuff I feel I want to keep hold of but I don't know why. 

Makes complete sense. I shot upstairs to take another look at the wardrobe. Everything was separated out, one or two things went into the rag bag immediately. Then I followed another tip, to photograph all the think about it items. Sadly, it's really grey and dark here today so the photographs aren't great. But here we go (everything looks very creased as I'm not domesticated enough to iron everything before it goes to the charity shop)


Why was it hanging around? T-shirt top left, because I love it even though I rarely wear it - keep. Striped top, because I want to love it - go. Striped jumper, because I wore it loads when I didn't have many other jumpers - go. Both pairs of trousers were there "just because" - go, go. An unphotographed pair of cerise trousers in a similar style have also gone. They're not in the picture as I wore them yesterday, thankfully for the last time. I don't suit trousers - don't let me buy any more! 

 
Why was it hanging around? Tunic, because I only bought it this year. Dan chose it and he usually does very well. It really suits me but I can't get used to the pastel colours on myself. Verdict - keep. Why? I tried it on with a roll neck jumper underneath and it looks better, it'll be great for at home and at the shop when it's colder. Black dress, because I wear it for funerals and serious occasions, but I really don't like it, even though it suits me - keep because I'm not buying another boring funeral dress. 

Skirts, these are tough ones. the black and white skirt I spoke about the other day, it was removed from the charity bag and I tried it on with some of my winter tops. It actually looked fine, it's clearly just a cold weather skirt - keep. Purple skirt. I love this skirt, but it makes me look very wide if I wear the wrong thing with it - keep, but only wear with roll neck jumpers. 



Horrible fleece, white t-shirt, green shorts. No discussion - be gone!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Bargain Of The Week.


Bargain of the week is this book for 49p. We do have a wild flower identification book, we keep that in the car. But when I saw this I thought it might be nice to have a puttery book too. Very pleased with it, it's very thick and in hardback so won't be complaining about the price. 

Also, if you haven't seen it already Simple Ways To Be More With Less by Courtney Carver is currently free for Kindle. 

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Where The Chopping Happens

My kitchen is not a thing of great beauty, but as the amount of worktop space I have was mentioned yesterday I thought I'd show you. Excitement. 



As I said in the comments yesterday, there are a couple of sections of worktop, either side of the sink that are pretty much useless for cooking, just for washing up to sit. I try to not let washing up sit there as the kitchen is at the front of the house and looks horrible from outside. We don't have a dishwasher. 

The long length of worktop is 4 feet/120-odd cms. I mainly chop over near the cooker though.


The hob covering chopping board is fairly new and I love it, it gives me loads more space (it was about £10 from Ikea). so that's all that lives on my surfaces - coffee machine, this has only just come out as Dan drinks more coffee in the Autumn and Winter, the kettle, chopping board, salt and pepper shakers, spoon rest and utensils. It's a bit more than I'd like, but I use these things every day. 

The fridge freezer, if anyone was wondering, is behind where I took these pictures, in the dining area. We are currently in discussions about getting an under counter fridge and removing the fridge freezer to give us more space. the fridge would live where the gorgeous bin/recycling area is currently.


So there you have it!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Important Domestic Business



Thank you for all your comments yesterday. I feel lots better now. Funnily enough I also feel better after watching the Derren Brown show on tv last night. He spoke about thought becoming huge in our minds, when really we can change how we think about them and they can become smaller. It was timely and it made me smile. 

Anyway, after talking about it here I decided to focus on something more important to me currently, so I set about doing some very important domestic business. The house is now pretty shiny. I also got rid of the bread bin. Well, that was really Dan's idea, he mentioned it on Sunday.  I looked in the pantry and decided he was right, so out it went. We tend to keep bread in the freezer anyway, so the bin was taking up a lot of space for something that really just held things as they defrosted!

Although it looks like I haven't used any of the herbs and spices, the pantry looks pretty different to the way it did when I first spoke about it here.



the gap where the breadbin used to be!
Yes, we use kitchen roll! We never used to, but it's useful for cleaning up after the rabbits, better for me than to have to deal with rabbit cloths, waiting for a decent amount so I can wash them all together etc. Also, Dan doesn't like using washable cloths (although he doesn't mind me using them) so he uses them if he needs to wipe up spills or whatever. We probably use one roll a month. 



There's a lot more floor space than there used to be!


And a lot more crammed onto the shelves! 

Monday, 22 September 2014

October Menu Plan

I'm really glad we had our walk to Lytham yesterday. We will walk there again throughout the Autumn and Winter but yesterday may have been the final time this year we could do it with light shoes and no coat. It was a bit chilly thins morning, the sun is out but my toes are cold with just my flip flops on. An ideal day to get stuck into the October menu plan. 

1. tacos
2. rogan mushrooms w. naan
3. easy lentil curry
4. soup and toasties

5. roast
6. leek and butterbean crumble
7. puy lentil pasta
8. jambalaya
9. green lentil hot pot
10 singapore noodles
11 pizza

12 roast
13 pearl barley broth
14 shepherdess pie
15 shepherdess pie
16 bean pasties w. patatas bravas
17 dhal
18 chilli

19 roast
20 roast veg pasta w. v-pud
21 sausage and mash
22 plaki w. bubble and squeak
23 stirfry
24 chickpea curry
25 soup and sandwich

26 out
27 porotos granados
28 chestnut pie
29 chestnut and sage risotto
30 lentil bol
31 curry

It's Not What You Know, It's Who You Know

I'm a bit woe is me today! I know people are generally very poetic when it comes to the end of a friendship and can drum up lots of beautiful words and all that caper, but that's not me on this day. 

I've just found out via a bit of a weird route that one of my best friends has moved to another country. I mean, I knew they were planning to go and that it would be some time this year. But they've gone and they didn't tell me. 

I know moving house is stressful and moving abroad must be crazy stressful, but just to not say anything, obviously I overestimated how important our friendship was. The last few times we spoke they did mention that one of the great things about moving so far away is that they could burn bridges, and let go of relationships they no longer needed or were a drain on them. To be honest, with them saying that to me, I didn't think I was going to be on the list. Maybe, looking back they were giving me a hint that our time was up and I just didn't pick up on it. I know things change and people change, I just didn't realise that I was surplus to requirements in this relationship. 

Dan was gobsmacked when I told him, so he's being very kind and supportive because I'm just floored by finding out this way. I've always thought I was a pretty good judge of the tone of things, knowing when thins were changing and ending, the past couple of months have served to show me that maybe that's not true at all. 

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Weekend Stuff



The view from the James Hargreaves stand at Turf Moor in Burnley is one of my favourite views. We were a little low down to see the full thing, but in Autumn or Winter, looking out over the houses and old mills to the East Lancs hills there is little better for me (in the town, but looking at the countryside you see). 

We decided to get to Burnley early so we could have a poke around, normally when we're walking along yorkshire St/Harry Potts way it's pretty crowded so yesterday I saw lots of details I'd never seen before. 



Firstly a detail of the Yorkshire Street Aqueduct aka The Culvert. 



A couple of quick snaps of the pubs. there's a lot of lovely carving all down the street - all you have to do is look up, some of the carved street names are still on the sides of the buildings too. They add a lovely character. 



I realise I've made this look like it says "Odmorde" instead of Todmorden, I assure you it was accidental! This way marker is built into a wall at Turf Moor, I must have walked past it dozens of times without noticing. 


And a little tribute inside the ground!

I had a fab time (in part due to the potato pasty I had at lunchtime - mashed potato wrapped in pasty, wowzer!). We're going back soon with the proper camera to grab some more photographs of the place. It may not be where you want to go for your holidays but I love it.

Today we went for a walk to Lytham, it was pretty busy as plenty of folks were there to get a good view of Southport Air Show. Some of the planes leave from Blackpool Airport, so the prom in Lytham or the beach in St Anne's is a great place to set up. I didn't take any pictures of Lytham though, plenty of folk doing that already, and we were just there to have a nice walk and be together with no distractions for a change. 



Thursday, 18 September 2014

Decisions

No, nothing to do with Scotland. It's to do with my quilt. I needed a break from the wonky 9 patch so decided to work a bit more on my lap quilt. I know I on;y bought the fabric in January but it feels like I've been working on it forever, and yet here we are -

 
Really? That's all I have to show for it? That's no good. I have the wading through treacle feeling with it. So to boost morale I've decided to add a couple of rows of squares, as you can see from the picture. I'll make me feel like I'm getting somewhere, even if it's not what I thought I'd be doing with it. 

I'm sure it will be worth it in the end. 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Cooking v Preparing Food

I've prepared a bit of food recently, but I can't remember the last time I cooked anything. You know, normal cooking where you start off with a pile of ingredients and end up with something nice to eat. 

Now I'm out of the swing of it, as I've mentioned before cooking is neither my strong point nor my greatest interest, so after not cooking for a while starting to cook again is difficult! My mind is blank, other than lentil hot pot I can't think of a thing to make. Dan was in charge of choosing things this week so we're very very rooty - parsnips, celeriac, potatoes, leeks, plus some mushrooms, even though it's warm I think he's ready for Autumn.

For the next week I'm thinking of making lentil hot pot, maybe a roast, soup, leek and butterbean stew/crumble, something to do with roast veg, shepherdess pie aaaand something else. Dan has been dropping some not so subtle hints about risotto, so maybe that if I can't avoid it. 

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Rip It Up And Start Again

This was going to be about the garden, but the garden is just another illustration of what started with the floor. It turns out that when people ask me what I do all day and I answer "whatever I want" that's not really true. Dan and I have had a weekend of discussing how much we do things we think we should do (for whatever reason) rather than what we really want to do. We almost ended up with laminate flooring because we thought it was the sensible thing to do as we couldn't afford wood and we could probably never have what we really wanted. At the last second Dan piped up that he would rather continue without the floor than have laminate, I was relieved. Turns out Polyflor was within reach after all. We just needed to be honest. Anyway.

I think it's kind of an obligation for us to grow some veg as it's a bit selfish of us to have this amount of space and to not grow something edible. At the start of the year Father kindly gave us some runner beans, spring onions, onion sets and strawberry plants. We dug up a bit of the lawn and planted them. We also planted some packets of lettuce and tomatoes Dan had received as a Secret Santa gift, and of course an assortment of herbs.

It all grew amazingly well. How much of it have we appreciated? Not much. 

The amount of water to grow and wash the lettuce is astounding and it's a right load of faff, Dan hates strawberries and can't eat tomatoes so they've been a bit of a waste - well the blackbirds have enjoyed most of the fruit, the herbs, used a few but not many, beans have been shoved in the freezer. The only real success have been the onions. I love having a big pile of onions in the garage. That makes sense to me. So next year, no matter what people offer us, we will grow what we know we'll eat, and maybe a few strawberries for the birds. 

Secondly, and probably more controversial than the garden thing, I don't like the countryside

I mean, I'm happy that it's there, I like looking at it as I travel through it, but as far as being in it is concerned, no thanks. I have freed myself from the tyranny of pretending I'm ever going to stomp around The Lakes, other than maybe getting myself up Orrest Head, and I've donated my walking trousers.  I like walking, I'll walk for as many miles as you like, just not through a field. 

Next on my hitlist is the skirt I'm wearing today. There's nothing wrong with it, it suits me, it fits, and in theory should be really versatile. But it isn't and I hate the fact it loiters around in my wardrobe. Even wearing it to the shop - where I don't want to wear anything nice annoys me. So after today it's being downgraded to round the house only, and to be honest, maybe not even that. 

I'm delving into the kitchen this morning, I feel as though I want a total overhaul of my diet and need to get to grips with what I have. That food processor should be worried too. 

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Wonderful World, Beautiful People


Donkeys on their way to the beach

Yesterday we went to the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, to the very beautiful Empress Ballroom.



I took the opportunity to get some photographs. I love this space, but I've only ever been here in the evening before so snapping away hasn't been too successful. 



 Anyway, as you can tell, I wasn't alone, it was time for the Northern Vegan Festival. You may or may not recall we went to Lancaster earlier in the year, so I was looking forward to visiting some of the same stalls and eating some of the same cakes!

The first surprise was that we had to queue to get in! The final surprise was for the people coming in to see the matinee of Mamma Mia, I don't think they were expecting quite what they saw (the theatre is next to the ballroom). There were also some freebies to be had, mainly edible, *hooray* and lots and lots of literature in the foyer, I was very sorry not to be able to attend London Vegfest at the end of the month, it looks amazing. This was more than made up for by seeing and chatting to the anti-fracking nannas!




The Nannas had been demonstrating for a while at a site in nearby Little Plumpton, they were recently moved on after they were banned from the site. They now sit outside a garden centre next door, how nanna-ish of them! 

I was impressed to see some big brands there this time around such as Goody Good Stuff jelly sweets and Koko coconut milk, plus some of the very splendid online retailers such as Wills shoes and I Choose What I use, who had a buy one get one half price on my favourite Weleda sea buckthorn body wash. 

As we'd decided to use the cash from the change jar as our budget we had the chance to really treat ourselves. We went for a smelly candle from Harper's Bizarre, some body oil and things from Heavenly Organics (the stallholder very kindly complimented my outfit, something that never happens!) and a lipstick from Bohemian Chic Minerals. The lady from that stand remembered me from Lancaster which was lovely, and later on she approached me to tell me about a secret sale on her website. Delighted! We did manage to get a cake from That Old Chestnut but there were scant pickings as we'd attended a talk about vegan fitness by ex-Everton and Swansea footballer (and now Widnes resident) Neil Robinson and everyone had nipped in while we were busy. We opted for a slice of pistachio and cardamom cake, very good choice.  

I went wild at the Green Party stand, as well as all their political stuff they had a dvd, cd and book sale raising money for their election fund. Books were the amazing price of 3 for £1, so I treated myself to these beauties



Bargain! A very good thing to read as I enjoy some hummus chips and jelly peaches. 

Friday, 12 September 2014

Another Hard Worker


This is a very new thing, I've had it less than a week, but I'm growing to love it. It's a steam cleaner. I've been talking about getting one for ages, in fact I say it every single time I clean out the bunny pen, finally I prioritised it and here we are. I went for this one as there were some decent reviews and it wasn't too expensive. It's mainly to clean the bunny pen, as I'm always wary about using too many chemicals with them around, but I do intend to use it for other things.

Conveniently there are all manner of nozzles and accessories for things like grout cleaning, a pointy thing to direct the steam, a window thing, a small thing for fabric and coloured brushes so you can use a specific brush for a specific job - great if you have something like a pet area to clean. 

So far I have done the worktops, sink and draining board in the kitchen, the bathroom sink and a bit of the grout, the blinds and window frames in the bedroom, the mattress topper in the bedroom and a few other things. I like it. It doesn't do they work for you (as some disappointed reviewers complain!) but it does remove lots of the scrubbing and plenty of rinsing. 

I really like it, and while it's not an essential, for some of the harder jobs I do at home I know it will be a great help. 

A while ago I mentioned that we'd tried Sainsbury's basics toothpaste, the reviews are in and we rather like it! It's nowhere near as minty as other toothpastes, which is a bonus for me. I checked the ingredients and there wasn't too much difference between it and the normal range, other than the minty content. A winner for me. 

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Wednesday

9am

where am I? in the garden

what am I wearing? blue sun dress *yay*, sandals

what's the sky like? blue with big fluffy clouds

what's motivating me? laundry, fresh air, ignoring the state of the garden, a nice cup of tea, sweeping

2pm

where am I? in the workroom at the charity shop

what am I wearing? blue dress, leggings, black pumps 

what's the sky like? blue, seen through safety glass.

what's motivating me? tea and ginger biscuits, learning about prison life and the history of coca-cola, receiving compliments!

5pm

where am I? at home

what am I wearing? as 2pm but with no shoes

what's the sky like? really very blue

what's motivating me? two minute tidy, being thankful for freezer cooking, writing a shopping list, flopping out on the sofa. 

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Sticker Shock

I have lots of skirts but not many tops, so tops are on my shopping list. 

On Monday I bought a very nice black and white top, from a real shop, not a charity shop. Yikes, those places are expensive! I also bought a top from the sale rail of my shop for £2.29, so that redressed the balance a little bit. 

We have a new manager at the shop, one of the deputy managers has been promoted, so that's good. The biscuits have certainly improved recently. 

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Best Laid Floors




When the Rabbit Welfare Association talk about "A Hutch Is Not Enough" for rabbits, I think I now have a sense of what they mean. On Thursday and Friday I was squidged in the dining room all day while the floor was fitted. It was sooooo boring! I managed to escape the house for half an hour in order to nip to Second Hand Rose for some beautiful pine filing drawers I'd seen on Facebook. I was too late, had the floor been down ten minutes sooner I'd have had them but someone beat me to it. 

Anyway. On Thursday morning the screed layer was smoothed on like a big layer of grey Angel Delight. When it dried it looked like a slightly nicer version of what we already had. Friday was the fun part. The guy (who was very nice indeed) sanded over the surface then did a bit of patching (the dark grey bit in the top picture). he dried this with a big hairdryer, well it looked more like one of those embossing tools cardmakers use. Then he did all the measuring with his handy chalk line etc, and added the adhesive to half of the room (as you can see in the top picture). The next 4 hours was nothing but tile laying and stories of the various places he's laid flooring - everywhere from footballers houses to Blackpool Pleasure Beach, and quite a few dodgy sounding places in between! 

Then he brought in the heavy duty kit


An exciting metal roller to make sure everything was stuck down properly! I loved it. Finally, it was done, Dan paid the remaining balance and off he went to be shouted at by a lady who had no skirting boards. I was left with this 



It's amazing! Although I can't help but notice how much everything else needs painting, cleaning or otherwise primping! The rabbits aren't sure about it yet, but I am. Massive thanks to the chaps at Terry's Carpets in Blackpool, not the most glamourous of showrooms, but they really know their stuff. I am made up. 

Friday, 5 September 2014

Best Laid Plans

We planned as much as we could for the bunny holiday while we have the floor done. We went over to visited them and Dan's mum last night. Just as we were leaving, Big Grey Bunny decided to show signs of GI stasis. Couldn't get hold of the emergency vet over there so had to drive the poor thing all the way back over here to our vet (which I was happier about as she's a rabbit specialist). 

The vet was amazing as ever, she was really nice about everything and was fine with Big Grey staying there until late this afternoon when the floor is finished. She was even surprised we didn't bring the other rabbit over as they would have looked after them both! I know we're paying, but even so. Dan spoke to her (the vet, not the bun) this morning, she is eating everything, jumping around and generally hating everyone, we recognise this as "feeling better". So she'll be home later. 

Dan's mum, poor lass, feels awful about the whole thing, even though there's nothing she could have done to prevent it, it's just the way of things. It was a stressful 12 hours, and we're waving goodbye to any hopes of an inexpensive September. Still, it's why we have an Emergency Fund. 


Thursday, 4 September 2014

Wednesday

9am

where am I? on the landing

what am I wearing? animal print dress, flip flops

what's the sky like? very blue

what's motivating me? clearing the living room, headache

2pm

where am I? at the charity shop

what am I wearing? animal print dress, leggings, black shoes

what's the sky like? still blue, very sunny!

what's motivating me? romance! a lovely couple came in and were disappointed to see we had no wedding dresses for sale, poked around in the back and found three of which one fitted. Gorgeous dress, £35, everyone was happy. 

5pm

where am I? in the garage

what am I wearing? as 2pm

what's the sky like? not visible but seconds earlier it was grey

what's motivating me? squeezing the sofa into the garage, transporting the rabbits to East Lancs for theit holiday.

Spend? £4.99 on a smart winter dress. 

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Freebie and Bargains of the Week




Freebie was this pins and thread book that just hadn't shifted at the shop. I love these, we had a couple when I was little, a steam engine and Concorde! I don't know if I will make one but if I do, I'll know how. 


Not the best picture, but this Accessorize summer dress was on the 99p rail (I'd been watching it since it was £6). 


I'd been after a fan for a while as I saw some people with them when we were at the theatre and thought it was a good idea. I especially like this as it's wood. I paid £2.27 for the lot!


Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Monday - Planning

I've decided to add a couple of categories, especially for the next little while as we're trying to save some cash after all the spending on the house. The spend/no spend is from our discretionary & grocery budget and won't include regulars like petrol, bills etc. 

9am

what am I wearing? pink trousers, purple top, sandals

where am I? In the kitchen, making tea 

what's the sky like? overcast, grey

what's motivating me? master shopping list, no menu plan (erratic month), clearing the worktops, deep cleaning, new bedding, laundry backlog, hungry bunnies, fresh and light, donating not dousing. 

2pm

what am I wearing? as 9am

where am I? in the garden

what's the sky like? blue, hot sun

what's motivating me? more laundry, books, reorganising the kitchen cupboards, odd quilt block sizes, orange nail polish

5pm

what am I wearing? as 9am

where am I? in the kitchen

what's the sky like? beautiful blue

what's motivating me? the requested roast, ironing (again), to do list, cardigans, why isn't frozen coconut milk yoghurt just called co-yo, is it a brand thing?

spending £15/, groceries.  

Monday, 1 September 2014

Sunday - Start of a Big Week

9am 

What am I wearing? Blue spots and stripes pyjamas

Where am I? under a quilt on the sofa

What's the sky like? grey with promise of blue

What's motivating me? buying a dog crate, match of the day, second cup of tea, relaxation, nicely shaped lightbulbs, dusting, a new month

2pm

What am I wearing? purple glittery tunic (scratchy), black leggings, sandals

Where am I? in the kitchen

What's the sky like? blue with huge clouds

What's motivating me? using up some spinach, a week of reheating not cooking, wrapping ornaments, clearing the downstairs rooms, a fresh start, space, putty

5pm

What am I wearing? as 2pm

Where am I? in the dining area , at the ironing board

What's the sky like? kind of grey

What's motivating me? ironing, quilting, four more days of tile dodging, filing drawers for sale, cook books, cupboard organisation, the weird smell of the food mixer, jammie dodgers.