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Showing posts from July, 2015

Pay Day Temptation

It's pay day for Dan, not for me though, my money doesn't trickle down until Monday. I see this as a good thing, but Dan has a small burning sensation in his pockets. 

We're going to mima tomorrow to catch the last weekend of an exhibition. Plus we just want to go as I don't think we've been since mu birthday when we went to the David Lynch exhibition. It's a bit of a drive so we'll need some food, a picnic is the first port of call but our heads have been turned by the idea of stopping at Cross Lanes on the A66 (home of dhal inspiration). But I have put my foot down and said I'll make a picnic so Dan doesn't have to, and I'm not sure it's been a popular decision, I have offered the compromise of stopping for a drink there (as we generally need to use the facilities by that point). 

I didn't go for coffee after the charity shop this week so I have the money I'd usually spend there to provide for the trip. I think I might go for soup fo…

Brewing Up

We bought some instant coffee the other week and I don't like it at all. I've been drinking it, but I'm not a fan. I'm not a coffee snob by any means, I know nothing about the subject and I'm not really that bothered, but I know when I like something. 

So I decided to make some coffee using the cafetiere, it's hanging around in the pantry with our 4 other coffee making devices and it seemed like the easiest thing, rather than faffing about with the stove top one and all that. 

So I got it out of the cupboard and realised I didn't know how to use it! I felt a bit daft, Dan usually makes the nice coffee at home, and when you get a coffee in a cafe, they've already done the main bit for you. So I had to look on YouTube for a video. I think I blushed as I watched it because it seemed like something I should know how to do. But then I thought, well why should I know, and how will I learn if I don't learn?

So now I know and made coffee for myself and Dan thi…

An Excuse To Be Nosey

I have lost my quilters quarter, so work on the blue quilt has come to a halt (I'm still ignoring the binding I made a mess of on the pink one). So a couple of weeks ago I used that as an excuse to go into the town.

We are very lucky to now have not one, but two fabric shops on the same street. When we first moved here there was a knitting shop but that closed a few years ago, which is a shame. Earlier this month The Vintage Sewing Bunny opened in the old UKIP shop, now it's been painted and primped it looks fantastic. This shop is going to run workshops to make clothes, bunting (of course) and other sewing classes, it sells a few haberdashery sundries and some very nice fabrics - not really my kind of thing quilting wise, but nice if you like the more floral, jaunty look. I nipped in, no ruler to be had but I bought a fat quarter and chatted to the owner who is exceptionally friendly and enthusiastic. 

The other shop Bizzee Fingers has been here for a long time, but has been un…

Six Days, Five Pounds

Actually it's £5.20.

After thinking about food to get us to next Monday plus starting the pantry run down I got cracking. 

In the fridge there was about 15 tomatoes, half a sprig of broccoli, three peppers, an avocado, 1 small courgette, 5 mushrooms, half a red onion, half a leek, a small lettuce, some celery, half a melon, half a lemon and a nectarine. Along with this was the open passata, the usual sauces and pastes, two cartons of milk - one vanilla, one unsweetened and a carton of apple and rhubarb juice. In other words, a ton of stuff. 

I weighed everything that was already open in the pantry and we have a large amount of pasta - 20 lasagne sheets, 500g tagliatelle, 400g penne, 1 portion of spaghetti and a small amount of orzo. Along with that there's 250g smoked freekeh, just under a kilo of brown rice and about 200g couscous. There are two tins of baked beans, one of cannellini, a carton of passata and loads of lentils and spices. I also started some sprouts in the sproute…

More More More

Now Dan has embraced gardening he is full of good ideas, yesterday he suggested we get a better seed storing box as the one I've been using is getting a bit cramped. I agreed with him but didn't want to spend any money on a proper one so we had a hunt around the house. Dan found a plastic box with a lid in the garage and I made a few inserts in an attempt to organise the seeds.

I chopped up falafel mix, pastry and yeast boxes to make seed holders and put them in the box. It gets no more exciting than that. The box was also big enough to hold the two pepper pots I bought for 40p from Wilko on Saturday.

Seemed sensible to keep my pencil and plant markers in there too. I could do with another couple of inserts, but this is a good start.
There's still a lot of cutting back to be done in the back garden, Father is going to come up next month to help me with it, I have done enough to help a few more plants to show their faces. I tied a straggly bit of rose to a cane the other week,…

We Went Away

It wasn't until I mentioned it yesterday that I realised I hadn't really spoken about our weekend in Berwick upon Tweed. So here we are.

I did discuss staying at the YMCA with Dan but he wasn't keen, so we stayed at a B&B instead, I didn't mind at all, we go away so infrequently it was nice to stay somewhere a bit fancy. Funnily enough, the YMCA was only about 30 seconds away from our B&B, the bistro looked great (although we didn't eat there) we did go to the gallery there though, which was very interesting. Still I'm getting ahead of myself. 

We stayed at The Walls which was a super comfy cosy place with a really nice guest lounge with honesty bar, only three rooms and an amazing breakfast. The best was very comfortable indeed, I hadn't been seeping well at that time but I slept like the proverbial log both nights. The rooms had nice toiletries, chocolates on arrival, lovely looking biscuits, tea and coffee as you'd expect but also there was a g…

Old Friends

Yesterday I had the proverbial blast from the past.

A friend of mine has been asking me assorted questions about our lifestyle, which makes it all sound very grand and worthy so I have been using messenger a lot, something I don't do usually. I noticed that in my "other" folder there were two messages, these messages are usually from beautiful, scantily clad Russian babes, but not on this occasion. One was spam, the other had been waiting for me for a few weeks, from someone I knew years and years ago.

The message read "I found this photo and thought you might like it" complete with the above picture of me wearing a terrible blue velvet tunic, standing in my parents house. 

How shiny is my hair!

I liked that he did it that way, just passing on the picture and then away to get on with life, no messing about with friend requests and so on, there was a time we were friends and then we drifted away. It was really nice to receive the picture, and wonderful to know this …

Totting Up July

The headline is that we didn't save any money at all in July, other than a few coins into the change jars. What with the holiday, the hire car, the puncture on the hire car and the problem with the power steering on our car, there was a lot to spend money on. I can't quite believe it's already three weeks since we went to Berwick. August is a quieter month so we'll be back to saving, although we haven't done the budget yet so I don't know how much it will be. 

As for my budget, it's been spent or accounted for. As ever I have no option to go over, it is what it is, but I think it will all go and I'll be happy to have the August spends. We do have a few bits and bobs ready to eat in the garden now though, which is good and the addition of the sprouting seeds are a small but much appreciated addition to meals. I don't want to be without our fresh fruit and veg, I am eating way more fruit these days than I have for years, but I am going to make the effo…

Pantry Run-Down

It's no secret that I love my pantry. This month I'm really going to focus on it and get things used up. Not that I have things hanging around from years ago, but just to make sure everything gets a fair crack of the whip. Using the food up is pretty pointless if I'm adding to it at the same time so I'm also having a short term ban on adding to the pantry. This will be quite hard for me as I do like to see the place well stocked. 

At the moment I have - 

penne, tagliatelle, lasagne sheets and spaghetti
smoked freekeh
puy, green, and red split lentils
yellow split peas
mung beans
baked beans
cannellini beans
things for sprouting
brown rice
rice noodles
bread flour

falafel mix
sunflower seeds
Thai red curry paste
chow mein sauce
harissa paste
curry paste
tomato chutney
mango chutney
peanut butter
quite a lot of dried herbs and spices

In the freezer - 

puff pastry sheets
3 smoky lentil stew
1 butterbean stew
soy beans

I see lots of …

Found in the Shed

I can't believe I forgot to mention this the other day. Along with the veg and the plants I received another gift, from my brother via my parents. 

My brother moved in with his girlfriend last year and he's spent a lot of time getting the place sorted, especially the garden - it was overgrown and overrun with the dreaded Japanese Knotweed. He planned to use the shed as his home gym and set about clearing it out when he found these 

A dozen or so insect hotels! Father added the pinecones (found on the ground) and drilled the canes (of which he has many) to fill the gaps and there we have it, another lovely freebie. No-one knows how long they'd been in the shed as my brother's girlfriend has lived there for a fair few years. 

I just need a place for it.

Fun With Sprouts

As mentioned yesterday, I sprouted some seeds. 

It was very simple, nature did most of the work, I just waited and added water. I washed the sprouter, rinsed a tablespoon of mung beans and added them to the sprouter. 

The second picture (above) shows the sprouter filled with water, the red thing is the drainage nozzle and the water needs to cover that. The water drains through and is collected in the bottom tray, which has no beans in it. A little water is kept in this tray at all times, the ridges in the main bit of the sprouter provides enough water for the beans to do their thing. Then we wait. 

The water needs to be changed twice a day, so it is quite resource intensive. I left my mung beans for 4 days and this is what happened

I tried some yesterday and they were nice and crunchy, as beansprouts are. Dan has taken some with his lunch today and the rest we'll be having as part of a stirfry tonight. They seem to be a useful addition to our diet and, as long as the house is warm eno…

Fun Into The Bargain

It was the RNLI fun day on the prom today, so we headed down there to see what was going on It was really windy but there was a good turn out, nice to see lots of people using the beach huts too. There was a magician on stage when we were there, folk music at the nearby YMCA, a few stalls, a silent auction, BBQ and a stall from Sheldon's. 

We needed something for Dan's sandwiches next week and so we went for this, buy a bag for £1 (all proceeds to the RNLI) and get some muffins free! I thought maybe there would be a couple of muffins in the pack, but no, a full pack of six. Bargain. 

We have also signed up for one of those 3 for £3 magazine mini subscriptions to Kitchen Garden magazine which comes with some packets of seeds. We really want to expand the amount we grow next year so the free seeds will really help. I have organised the seeds we have already in my repurposed tin and we have quite a good amount to get us going. Dan suggested we have a book for garden planning and ot…


There are lots of things to be glad about this week, here are some of them -

There were no proms when I was at school. Seeing the photographs and hearing all about the stress my friends have gone to to get their daughters ready, sounds like a nightmare. 

I am a better cook than I thought

There are some great customer service people out there

A new rose has shown itself in the garden

The quince has gone


My splendid hairdresser

Knowing how to research things

The pantry

Seeing my workmates after three weeks

Trouble At T'Mill

Last night it was a bit frosty at home, and it was because of the charity shop. 

Yesterday was the first time I'd been in for three weeks, after hurting my knee and being on holiday, so there had been some changes that I obviously didn't know about. One of which was the vintage rail. Sounds harmless enough doesn't it? 

The manager had four items made from fur.

She told me they were there before I saw them, as she suspected I wouldn't be impressed, "but, you know, money".

Then someone bought one of them, the rabbit one (of course), there was no-one else around so I had to serve the customer myself. I told Dan and he was furious and hardly spoke to me for the rest of the night. Things are a little more friendly here this morning but I think it will be a while before both I and the shop are back in his good books. 

When I was a charity shop manager I was told we just were not allowed to sell fur at all, no matter what. But that was over ten years ago and attitudes ha…

Lemon Squeezy

Dan informed me this morning that we had nothing for lunch tomorrow. I don't like going to have to buy anything when I've been at the shop in the afternoon so I made something instead. I know this is what some people do every day, but not me, Dan is in charge of lunch usually.

Couscous is one of those things that I eat elsewhere and always really enjoy, so I buy some and it tends to hang around in the pantry for ages. So I made couscous salad. I roasted assorted veg, including some very squishy tomatoes, made the couscous up with some stock and half a teaspoon of harissa paste then squeezed over some lemon juice (we don't usually have lemon but I bought one for my brother to use with his g&t, he didn't so it was left over), then used up a part tin of chickpeas from the other night. Oh and some basil from the supermarket basil that I repotted a while ago - it is now huge!

There's loads, it's delicious and there's enough roast veg to get me started on anoth…

The Big House

The house seems huge at the minute, I think it's in part due to Dan's return to work and in part because the house is really quite tidy. The fridge seems very small because it's full of fruit, salad and veg. All of this is good for keeping the bank account fuller for longer.
So it means I can have a small day doing small but significant tasks, sorting out the buns, getting through some of the laundry, trying out the sprouter, cleaning the sink and draining board, making more fruit salad (kiwi, melon and mango today) replacing the hole in the garden with some plants, that kind of thing. 
Yesterday was a big day, I went on the exercise bike for the first time since I hurt my knee. I did just over 7 miles in half an hour which is not too shabby. I pushed it a little bit too much I think as I felt a twinge right at the end, but all's well today. All's more than well, I feel amazing!

Fresh Ground

Another picture of another mound of soil, but this has a hole next to it too. When we got back from Berwick we had a long and involved conversation about what we wanted to do with the rest of our year, what would add the most value to what we're doing. Getting rid of the japonica quince was surprisingly high up the list, so it's gone. The pile of sticks at the back of the picture are from the thinning of the other two trees on that side of the garden, I know, looks exactly the same. There's a lot to do. 

But this idea of there being a lot to do is one I'd like to shed, it holds me/us back, having a mountain to climb isn't something that inspires me, it just makes me want to shut the curtains and do anything else instead, so it's bit by bit for now. Same with shedding some of the tons of weight I've put on recently, same with, well, everything. With this in mind I'm really glad it's raining this morning, it's so easy to hit the ground running on t…

To Hull In A Hire Car

The hire car has been returned this morning and our car has gone to the garage - the problem with our car is one of those that could cost £0 or £1000 depending on what he finds when he gets in there. I'm not thinking about it just now.

Yesterday to round off our day trips, we went to Hull, and what a day to go, the weather was ideal for wandering round and taking some photographs. Our intention was to do the Fish Trail but it ended up being a ghost sign spotting tour instead, we did spot a few of the fish panels though! I know it's not everyone's first choice for a day out but we had an amazing time, it was fab to see all the building work taking place in readiness for the 2017 Capital of Culture as well as just enjoy a wander on a gorgeous day. 

We walked down to the river, we'd driven past the tidal barrier loads of times on our way to Hull KR's ground, but never been up to it before (the building in the background is The Deep aquarium). It's a nice area to wal…

Blind Spots

We went to see Blind Spots, the Jackson Pollock exhibition at Tate Liverpool yesterday, we get 50% off with the Art Pass which meant it was a fiver each. Our Art Pass subscription is up for renewal next month and this year we didn't even discuss whether to renew it as it provides good value for money in our lives. There are just some occasions where the discount for exhibitions, or the free entry really makes a difference - Bowes Museum is the one that leaps out, there's so much there that I'm not really interested in so £9.50 entry would just put me off going, but their exhibitions are great so the free entry makes it worthwhile. Same thing with yesterday, £10 each might have made us think about the right time to see the exhibition, but the 50% off makes it a lot more affordable.

The exhibition was excellent, I didn't really know anything about the artist or his work beforehand so I went not knowing what to expect. I loved it. It's quite a sad story but the work it…

The Tyranny of Everything

I didn't think our weekend away was relaxing, until I got up today and realised it was. 

I have a vague recollection of waking up early in the morning and putting the radio on, the next thing I knew Dan was leaping out of bed exclaiming "IT'S NINE O'CLOCK!". Nine o'clock is a bad thing because it means that rabbits haven't had their breakfast, never mind us or the fact that rabbits have a pen full of hay, they must eat, no-one may rest. 

Then there was the conversation about decorating the whole house, and painting the garage, and the front door and saving for a car and on and on and on. Then we discovered that there is a screw in the tyre of the hire car, so along with the original car, it is visiting the garage. Waaaaaay too much fuss and expense for so little return. 

I have never felt so tense. 

I was pretty tense on holiday, after working in hotels for such a long time I find it hard to relax in one, in order to relax, apparently, I like to be left alone…