Sunday, 30 November 2014

I Am Not My Stuff

But I am very sad that my Lord Python brooch broke when we went out for our charity shop festive party on Friday. It's one of those times where I know I shouldn't have worn it really, but then on the other hand it's there to be worn. 

Nothing I can do about it now, but I really hate thinking that something had been knocking around for such a long time and all it took to break it was one person standing on my jacket. Things are pretty fragile really aren't they. Somehow I don't think I'm just talking about my brooch.

Friday, 28 November 2014


"It doesn't pay to be brand loyal does it?" asked Dan's Mum last week. 

"Not really" we replied.

Dan's Mum is one of those folk Martin Lewis talks about, those lovely, loyal people who just want things to work without any fuss and are of the old school where you knew your family doctor and your bank manager. She is now coming round to the new school of thinking which is that they just want your money. 

This kind of came about when we were talking about bills and money in general, she's starting to look at her budget to see if there are any savings to me made. We ended up comparing how much we pay for house insurance. I don't know who was more shocked, us or her.

Anyway, this week her house insurance renewal came up, the letter told her there was to be an increase, this stirred her into action. She got on the phone and asked for a better deal, the offer wasn't good enough so she pushed and pushed, finally threatening to leave (which she would have done as she had another offer). She's now on a better deal, paying almost 70% less than before with the same provider. Success!

It now sounds as though she's almost looking forward to the next thing on her hitlist. 

Speaking of complaining. When we went to the Trafford Centre last week Dan treated himself to a bottle of beer from the pop up food hall. He opened it at the weekend and the contents went everywhere. Thankfully he opened it in the kitchen, had it gone all over the new sofa I would have hit the roof! So he tweeted the brewery, they sent him a message asking for his address, we await the outcome.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

I'm very happy that...

On Saturday I posted one of the mini trees I've been making to a friend who lives somewhere I'd never heard of before I met her. Being a cheapskate I sent it second class, it arrived on Monday. Can't say better than that.

I had started to wobble about watching Widnes. After all the stuff that went on last season (you may remember me being very upset about the behaviour of some of our fans at the Challenge Cup semi final) we decided not to renew our season tickets and spend next season visiting different grounds. Yesterday the club received the punishment for allowing fans onto the pitch, £20,000 plus £4000 costs. I read the message board to see how that went down only to discover people were still being apologists for the people fighting, causing a nuisance and the general pathetic behaviour. It quickly reminded me that I don't wish to spend any time with people like that if I can help it. 

I wore my proper clothes to the charity shop yesterday, rather than my clothes that I usually keep for wearing at the shop. I received compliments about how nice I looked. Having said that, for the second part of my shift I was forced to wear a hat with cat ears and I received compliments about that too.

We've done most of our Christmas shopping. No more explanation needed!

I've realised recently that I know some really nice, very talented, people.

Everything is almost certainly going to be fine. 

Monday, 24 November 2014

December Menu Plan

Dan booked every Friday before Christmas off work. Last Friday was the first one, and almost certainly the last one! Still, one is better than none, and this one weekend has seen us do virtually all of our gift shopping for Christmas and for a couple of upcoming birthdays. There was still time for an afternoon nap on Saturday and we settled down to watch the first ski jumping competition of the season too. 

I'm running this plan on to the start of January, we won't be going to the shops other than for emergency bunny greens, or milk so it makes more sense to do it this way. Plus, at the end of next month I probably won't be sitting down to write a menu plan. Or maybe I will feel the need for a bit of normality.

1. sausage casserole
2. chilli
3. harissa roast veg
4. puy lentil pie
5. singapore noodles
6. out

7. curry (fr)
8. out
9. chestnut cobbler
10 l/o
11 stirfry
12 out
13 jacket potatoes w. beans

14 risotto
15 lentil bol
16 soup
17 soup
18 leek and butterbean crumble
19 bean burger
20 out

21 easy lentil curry
22 pearl barley broth
23 fajitas
24 enchiladas
25 nut roast
26 out
27 pasta bake

28 green lentil hotpot
29 plaki
30 l/o
31 curry, naan, rice
1. falafel toastie
2. tacos
3. jambalaya

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Putting Words Into Action

Firstly, apologies to sb, lovelygrey and lizzie, I accidentally deleted your comments instead of publishing them. I did appreciate them, I can only blame my extreme tiredness having not slept properly for over a week. 

I must have sensed something was coming yesterday as last night when I got home from the shop there was a message waiting for me. You probably remember us going to a wedding earlier in the year, well it was from that guy. He and his wife will be in our neck of the woods just before Christmas. It was group message asking if we'd like to meet up. I would like to meet up, but someone else suggested we all go to Manchester on the Saturday. That's fine for my mate and fine for his other friends as it's 20 minutes on the train for them, or they can stay over somewhere. It's just less than an hour and a half for us, and the last train is around 9pm.

So we've said no. No excuses, no trying to get them to alter plans, just no.

I don't want to traipse all the way there for an hour and a half with friends. We are happy to go there during the day, or visit them when they're staying with his parents, but I said we'd draw the line somewhere, and that's where it is. It doesn't make me a bad friend, just maybe a slightly lazy one!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Closed for Bookings

We have closed our diaries for social events for the rest of the year. There may be an afternoon where someone visits us here, and there may be one evening where we visit someone in East Lancs, but that doesn't take much energy. As for everything else, unless someone we haven't seen for ages jets into the country, we are not saying yes to anything else. 

Dan is all over the place for work over the next few weeks, including an overnight stay. The overnight is a big thing for us. Since we met in 2001 we've only spent two nights apart. But, this is for a potentially very significant move for Dan and so for us, hopefully it will be worth it. Maybe it will even be fun for one or both of us. 

Without even thinking about it we have a work thing each, we'll be visiting our three sets of parents twice each in December. We are going to a concert, my friend is visiting, we're meeting a friend in Manchester to be introduced to his girlfriend, I'm at the shop on Christmas Eve. That's ten days with something going on, let alone the bodding about for work I mentioned earlier, an afternoon gift shopping, wrapping and posting. 

We don't do much but it still adds up. We used to visit people a lot more, but now we slot in when it's sensible. None of our friends live near their families, so everyone is nipping here and there. Even fun is tiring, and it's no fun to be doing things just out of obligation.

Monday, 17 November 2014

The Ogre

Yesterday was the easiest of easy days. We drove up the coast to Cleveleys to see the Ogre. On the way past Blackpool Tower we saw all the lighting and other assorted television stuff being packed into trucks from Strictly come Dancing which came from The Tower this weekend. What a lot of lights! I know that's an obvious thing to say, but it was really surprising to see how many there were, lying there on the pavement!

The beach was so busy, considering the time of year, there were people in the water, children digging in the sand, and lots of people looking at the sea shell. The beach artwork has changed so much since I first mentioned it here in March 2013. The shell is changing colour and is covered in lots of barnacles, and as for the Ogre, well he's taken on a very Shrek like appearance. 

The sculpture is settling in so well with the surroundings that Dan didn't even see it at first. Then we noticed his piercing eyes

Doesn't he look fantastic? 

When we'd had a run around on the beach and looked at as many dogs as we could manage we negotiated our way back through Blackpool to the house where we did some very important household business then I got on with my new festive crafting project. I've never given anyone anything I've made before, but this year I am. I am very nervous about it!

Back to domestic business, I tried my new floor cleaner - Astonish Lime & Bergamot. It cost around 89p from Home Bargains, I tried it as a cheaper alternative to the Method Squirt & Mop I had been using, which is about £5 a bottle. The Astonish stuff does need to be diluted, and it's probably not as natural as the Method, but it gets the thumbs up from me. It does the job well, no streaks, it removes marks easily and has a very nice fragrance. Dan asked "what's that nice smell", so it gets the thumbs up from him too, and he's not usually all that bothered about these things. This bottle should last a fair old while, even though I've taken to mopping the living room floor every day. Bargain! 

Friday, 14 November 2014

Em's Lebkuchen Recipe

I said I would ask, and I did. Here is Em's recipe for lebkuchen! I've just copied and pasted her recipe so I hope it makes sense to anyone who wants to give it a try. Ours are glazed with white icing or chocolate, I guess you could do whatever you fancied.

Lebkuchen with wafers

Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 Orange
300g of caster sugar
2 eggs
4 eggwhites
Mix until pale and creamy.

125g honey
100g candied lemon peel
100g candied orange peel
350g all purpose flour
250g ground almonds
200g chopped haselnuts
1/4tsp cloves (ground)
*15g Lebkuchenspice
40-50 wafers (Oblaten)

Mix the honey, lemon and orange zest into the eggmixture. Mix all the dry ingredients together (flour, almonds, spices, haselnuts, candied peels). Pour the dry mixture a bit at a time into the wet ingredients and combine until you have a sticky dough.
Preheat the oven to 150°C. Put 1 Tablespoon onto a wafer and distrubute it evenly, but it should be higher in the middle then on the edges. Bake them for about 20 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden. Put them aside and let them cool completely.

Coat the Lebkuchen with the desired glazing and let it dry.

200g chocolate coating/couverture
125g icing sugar+1 eggwhite beaten until fluffy and shiny

Lebkuchenspice: mix for 54g, you need only 15g for this recipe.
35g cinammon
9g cloves
2g allspice
1g nutmeg
2g coriander
2g cardamon
2g ginger
1g mace

Lebkuchen is better the longer it can stand and develop the flavours. Thats why they are traditionally made in early November. But you can eat them while there´s still warm and fresh, it´s also delicious

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Gifts Galore!

Today I entered the modern world, I bought something from ebay! What times we live in.

It's all down to the receipt of our first Christmas card and gifts yesterday. When I got home from the shop there was a parcel waiting next door, neither of us were expecting anything so we thought we'd wait, until Dan received a text asking if we'd been next door to collect anything exciting. It was a message from our German friend Em. You may or may not have been around for our mammoth trip to the Trafford Centre when she visited last year. 

So Dan nipped round and came back with a parcel. I think I mentioned last year that Em is an amazing baker and an amazing cook. The parcel contained a personalised cookie, some homemade lebkuchen, and mulled wine cakes. to tempt me to cook there was also a German cookbook, cookie cutters and some bread mixes, alongside treats for the rabbits and lots of sweets and chocolates, the list goes on and on. 

We were already planning our parcel in the abstract but are now motivated to act! The one thing Em can't do is sew, so I'm going to make her a couple of ornaments, there are a couple of things she liked but couldn't carry home last year so I'm going to see what I can do with that. The one thing both Em and her husband wanted last year was something to do with the birth of Prince George, so today I have bought them a commemorative coin, and that's how my relationship with ebay has begun. It's very easy isn't it, mustn't remember my password!

Wednesday, 12 November 2014


Or really birthday etiquette. 

It was my brother's girlfriend's birthday yesterday, I sent her a card. Should I also have sent her a text/phoned her/written on her facebook wall as well? This is not a facebook issue, this is nothing to do with how people feel about social media, it's about birthdays.

This is an area where Dan and I disagree. On his birthday he seems to spend half the day texting, messaging or phoning people to say thank you for their birthday wishes, for their card or whatever. I don't think he should spend his birthday doing that - it's his birthday. I don't mind sending a thank you card or message after the event, and of course I always thank people in person for good wishes. But to spend the actual day doing it - when he is the one doing the phoning, that's weird to me.

Anyway, back to the birthday card yesterday. I see this morning on facebook than my brother has wished his girlfriend happy birthday there, I assume he's also sent her a card, and they live together. I think that's unnecessary, I don't need everyone else to know I'm wishing someone a happy birthday, and I don't think my feelings mean more the more I say them and in different formats. Am I the only one? I think on this topic I probably am.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Standing and Staring

There's nothing going on! I'm not thinking about anything, nothing funny or entertaining has happened, we have no plans, I'm not mulling anything over, things are just ticking along. That's good isn't it.

There seem to be a lot of articles and blog posts talking about this, about how to stop being so busy and reclaim boredom or a bit of nothingyness. It's really easy to get bogged down, especially when lots of what we do is in view these days. It's not a lack of ambition or drive I don't think, it's just not always the best thing to be running around. Especially when that running around is for money, I had a message from a friend the other day, he is so sad that his job is taking over his life. But it can't stop, he knows it's not worth it, but there's not all that much he can do about it just now. He's coming over here to hide for a day. Maybe I should set up a retreat. 

Friday, 7 November 2014

Odds and Ends

No matter what, there comes a time to do all those little things that have been left for another day. A couple of grey, slightly chilly and wet days seem ideal. 

So I have trimmed quilt blocks, sorted the recycling and cleaned out the recycling bag, which lead to cleaning the washing machine.

Repotted my aspidistra, from brown plastic 

to shiny white! Cleaned the bird feeders, tidied my fabric bag, removed the table cloth, put some laundry away, and replaced the used tealights with new ones.

Next on the list is swapping the spare duvet over to winter weight, cleaning the fridge and sorting out the magazine rack. Then surely a cup of tea and a sit down. 

Thursday, 6 November 2014

In Fashion, Amazingly

We had  bit of a stroll along the prom at the weekend and as we walked, saying hello to people Dan commented that a lot of the women were wearing massive shawl type scarves. He was right, so I had a little look online and there they all were - blanket scarves. I bought one like that in 2001 from Tie Rack in York. I can't see myself wearing it when I'm out and about, but I will continue to wear it at home safe in the knowledge that, for once, I am the height of style!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

The Porch Cupboard

I should have known it was going to be an issue when we first came to view the house, one of the doors was leaning against the front of the cupboard, rather than doing what it should have been doing. I was just excited to have a nice big cupboard. 

But it's not a nice big cupboard, it's a long, narrow cupboard with the three electricity meters at the far end and wonky doors.  So instead of having the useful storage area I imagined I have this - 

Lots of things on the floor outside 

and not very much inside. 

It's just wide enough for Henry, but I do have to wrestle with the snozzles and things whenever I want anything else. I know there's a solution and a way to use this space effectively. Maybe instead of it being a coat and Henry storage space it would be better used for something else. So far I'm stumped. 

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Something I Never thought I'd Need

Inside Mooch1

Of the many things I'd never thought I'd need, OK, not need but find useful a mug cosy was very probably right up there, yet here I am looking for a mug cosy tutorial. 

It all came about yesterday when I had a day Dan always pictured me having when we moved here. One of those days where I toddled off with my shopping trolley to drop things off at the charity shop, go to the library, have a cup of coffee on the pier, do some shopping, sit in the park, and come home with something exciting. Something very exciting to me was in Home Bargains, vac-packed chestnuts 200g for 99p, about half the price of the branded ones, I haven't tried them yet but I'm very hopeful. 

For the past few weeks something has been afoot in an old clothes shop in the town. Yesterday, there is was, Mooch1. It's a homewares shop with bonus cafe. HOORAY! says the non-saving side of me. So I did all the important bits and bobs then returned on my way home. The shop only opened last Friday so is very new and lovely. There are very few floral things, HOORAY! Just lots of nicely designed, simple, attractive things that do the job (without a huge price tag) and not a tin of chalk paint in sight. If you like shabby chic/French Country and all things frilly there may not be a ton of stuff in there for you, but there are a few florals, candles and shiny things so you never ever know. For someone like me who loves simple yet beautiful it couldn't be better. Other than when I have no money, when it will taunt me!

I was armed with my Desire Map money so instead of buying lipstick and mascara as planned, I bought a couple of things from the house wants list. Two tealight holders for the top of the fire (£3.99 each), they're made from recycled glass and are narrow enough for the very narrow ledge we have. Also two enamel cups - visible on the table in the picture (£5.50 each), I have always wanted some of these for drinks in the garden and for when we're out and about having a picnic. Cups were on the list as we only have five, of which one is chipped and another has a dodgy handle. The chipped one is now a pen pot. 

Obviously the enamel cups do get rather hot when full of tea so yesterday I had to put mine in a sock, but then for the first time I realised why people had those mug cosies that were so popular a little while ago. Dan seemed overly excited at the the idea and wants a yellow one. So that's the plan. We'll see how it goes. 

Mooch1 is situated on Garden Street in St Anne's on the Sea, opposite the indoor market and JR Taylor, just along from the Halifax Bank. It goes without saying I paid for the stuff myself and all that.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Two Lesser Seen Things

Further to our chat the other weekend, Dan and I had another chat about doing the right thing at the right time, rather than lots of little compromise things that don't really satisfy what we want/need to do but we do them anyway.

It lead to a very wild goosechase for some snowdrops. 

I really want to have a garden full of bulbs in the spring and I really want some snowdrops but haven't been able to find any. So we ended up at about half a dozen garden centres and shops yesterday trying to find some. We got some in the end at one of the chain garden centres - the ones where there's lots of everything, but not much in the way of plant stuff. And now half of them are in the ground. I know they might not show up next year but if they show up eventually that's good enough for me.

On our way to the many shops we drove past about 8 cars abandoned at the side of the road, very odd as there's not really anything around. Then on the way back there were more cars and lots of people with cameras with huge lenses, scopes and all manner of viewing aids. Turns out, in a small patch of wasteland for the past two days there has been a grey shrike. It doesn't happen very often. I'm not a bird person so I'd never heard of them and didn't see this one, but did manage to see a photo the bird people had snapped. It's so cute!

Dan also collected up two bags full of leaves to make into leaf mulch stuff, I've been told it's a good thing to do, and it's free so can't be bad. The veg beds are empty, bulbs are planted and lots of leaves have been removed from the garden. I can't believe how much stuff is still flowering, even some of my bedding plants. We finally bought a nice pot for my aspidistra, it's been in a horrible brown plastic pot for many years and now it has a nice white shiny pot to live in. We rounded off the weekend with a drive - yes, a waste of money but it's something we like to do. We went to Morecambe for a pint of Lancaster beer in a glass with a handle, to discuss plans for my birthday (OK, it's not until January, but we like to plan). Turns out I would like a structure for the garden, a cocktail and to go to The Midland.