Friday, 28 August 2015

September Menu Plan

Menu planning is back. 

There's no rhyme or reason to this plan, I just wrote a list and that's that.

1. thai green curry
2. bottom of the fridge spicy one pot
3. berbere w. roast veg 
4. pilaf
5. out

6. out
7. stuffed mushrooms
8. ratatouille w. bean cakes
9. probably leftovers, Dan's away
10 lasagne
11 rogan mushrooms
12 out

13 out
14 pasta bake
15 stirfry (flavours undecided) w. tofu
16 lemon and herb roast tofu mega sarnie
17 goulash
18 curry of some kind
19 chickpea burgers w. sweet potato chips

20 roast
21 squash, butterbean and mushroom cobbler
22 l/o
23 chilli
24 chillies stuffed with beans
25 mixed veg balti
26 pizza

27 roast
28 lentil bol
29 stirfry
30 pie!

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Switching Off, Switching On.

If Sarah will please provide contact details I will get the lino printing stuff out to you in the next week or so. 

I had forgotten that we have a bank holiday this weekend, now I know I'm really looking forward to it, there is rumour of a lie in. We are also off out and about to look for furniture, that sounds like it has the potential to be a bit stressful so I'm planning pastries and a flask of coffee to sweeten the deal. 

The freezer is in a very sorry state and needs to be defrosted so we've been eating from this this week and will continue to do so until Monday which means very little cooking for me this weekend too, which is a bonus. Dan is going to make a crumble with the rest of the frozen fruit, he makes a really good crumble topping, I don't know where he got the recipe and he won't tell me what he does to make it so nice, I know almonds are involved. Anyway, if I don't know then Dan has to continue to hold the title of Chief Crumble Maker. 

I know most people enjoy September, the time of fresh starts, but I am really looking forward to it this year. I don't really have anything planned, it just seems that a new month is an exciting time. Plus it's switch on which is a strange and wonderful thing, the film director Tim Burton is getting the illuminations going this year, another big name to add to the list. I just checked and Tom Baker (Doctor Who) did the honours the year I was born, Robbie Williams did it the first year we lived here and so the first time I experienced the lights. It never fails to astound me that in this day and age people will turn up to look at loads of light bulbs, but we do and it's fun.   

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Giveaway Winners and Things

I had three takers for my giveaway so I've decided to have a hunt around and find something for everyone, so if Tracey, Marlene and Lynda could post a comment with their contact details I'll get something to you at some time soon (I promise I won't publish your details for all the world to see).

I am also giving away this lino printing equipment. If anyone would like it, please let me know, if there is more than one person I'll do a draw, if no-one wants it I'll do something else! There are two sheets of lino, a roller and a cutting tool with 5 blades, the roller and cutting tools have been used once. 

In the spirit of the giveaway I offered my chest of drawers, mirror and console table to my family on facebook. It took all of thirty seconds for my brother to snaffle the lot. Although I have just realised the rare occasions I take nice pictures here the shiny white surface of the console is ideal. Oh well. Dan dislikes all three things so is keen for them to go. Although we don't have a replacement for any of it yet. We did look at the weekend and all we saw was a dining table, as you will notice that's not on the list. 

There have been a few positives already this week, there was a new lady at the charity shop yesterday who is lovely and made the afternoon go a bit more quickly. Oh yes, I'm back at the charity shop on Tuesdays - the lady who took over from me is ill and doesn't know if she'll be returning so I was asked to stand in with a view to taking that spot on a permanent basis. Also I have started on the big blue quilt again, I spotted a dress in my wardrobe I'd totally forgotten about, which suggested I have too many clothes so there's now a charity bag in the wardrobe. Funnily enough, it's mainly charity shop clothes that are finding their way into the bag so I am having a charity shopping ban for the time being too. 

Monday, 24 August 2015


AKA I admit I'm never going to do this. 

I'm never going to do this either

If anyone would like one or both if these please let me know and I'll post them off to you. Should there be more than one person I'll find a hat and do a draw. 

Friday, 21 August 2015

"How Sad"

"How sad". The comment from my mate at the charity shop this week when she realised I can't have ice cream. 

I thought it was a bit weird because I can have ice-cream, I don't really have it all that much because I like it a lot and it helped me to become 4 stone overweight at some point in the past. I can have regular ice cream, I just choose to not have it. I do have other types of ice cream and I'm glad it's quite expensive for the reason given above.

She also asked me if I thought it would be sad if we didn't eat cows because there would be none in the fields. I suggested we started eating elephants so they wouldn't be as rare as they are in that case. Didn't go down well. Still, as my mum says - ask a silly question, get a silly answer.  

Thursday, 20 August 2015

All I Have To Do Is Steam

Today marks the start of the third week of not being able to drink the tap water. We're pretty much in the swing of it but it is mildly annoying at times. Cooled boiled water is not particularly nice to drink, the rabbits won't drink it at all, our veg patch was looking a bit forlorn due to some nice sunny weather this week and my hands have taken a bit of damage due to washing up in really hot water even though I have been wearing gloves. 

Thankfully it rained yesterday and early this morning so the plants are looking better, other than the broccoli which has been totally decimated by caterpillars - still, we're doing our bit for wildlife. We went to see Dan's mum the other night and brought 22 litres of tap water back with us, much to the delight of the buns and tomatoes. 

I like to clean the house with a big bucket of soapy water, I know we'd almost certainly be totally safe with that method, but I don't want to risk making Dan ill so yet again I am thankful to my handheld steamer. I've been using it for everything the past few days and I am happy to live without the nice citrus smell I usually choose as it's kept everywhere sparkling, and I've done no more harm to my hands. I knew I really liked my steamer before, but I have found myself on the verge of hugging it recently! 

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Be Gone, Pumpkin

The chalk paint nightmare is over. Why I ever went with a fad I'll never know, but I did and lived to regret it. I have never really known the best way to go with the kitchenette tv unit and I thought a nice zingy pumpkin orange interior would be good. The colour was good but I disliked everything about the paint so I got no further. 


Not wanting to throw good money after bad I used some emulsion we had in the garage, it's the colour I used for the spare bedroom which is a really really pale grey, called Nantucket, it was a New England paint from B&Q I don't know if they still stock it. In the north-east facing bedroom is looks pale blue-grey, but in the living area it appears to be pure grey and gorgeous. 

I've painted furniture with emulsion before, I did the dining chairs and table legs and was impressed with how robust it has been, especially as the set was a pretty cheap and cheerful one from Ikea. 

still during

The interior needs another coat and I need to clean up the glass and give the exterior a coat of wax but it looks so much better, Dan loves it too and it was a zero cost project. 

You may notice evidence of another project on the chair!

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Mouth Guard

I mentioned to Melanie yesterday that we use Lego to protect our electrical cables from wandering bunny mouths. Here are two of Dan's creations. This protects a lamp, the router, phone and fridge cables. Despite the open weave design, it's very effective. 

In the living room the TV wire, which has fallen prey to Big Grey and had to be replaced, has a more compact box to protect it (yes, I know the area needs a lick of paint, Big Grey sits there and occasionally nibbles and scratches).

I like this box as it's a nice mixture of the zingy Lego I bought for Dan a few years ago and some of his old stuff which is a bit more weathered. 

Monday, 17 August 2015


Warning - this post may contain concepts some people could find offensive (at least in August).

On Saturday we set about moving the compost pile to make space for the compost bins. There was a lot more than we thought so when a break was needed we went to the town for some garden sacks so we could take some of the stuff to the tip. As it turns out, due to needing a permit to take "inert waste" to the tip we didn't go. We still bought the sacks though. I also treated myself to the small menu board pictured above, we've been on about getting one for months, and this was a nice small one and only cost 99p including for sticks of chalk. It should reduce the small pieces of paper that always seem to be scattered around the house with the same things written on them.

To reduce the shopping list equivalent I've taken the obvious step of putting them on my phone. This also helps me to remember to take my phone out with me, especially useful as I use my phone as a pedometer these days.

Our lives are filled with an endless stream of opportunities and so we find our weeks filling up quickly, no matter how hard we try to not plan too much. In order to control as much of this as possible we've been potting, planning and making lists, especially about Christmas (sorry). I can't remember if I spoke about it at the time, but I had a bit of a meltdown last December which lead to that whole period being a bit of a disaster. My problem is (other than the day being totally dominated by the fact we have to visit Dan's mum in the evening) that we do nice things, but it doesn't have any specialness to it. So that's what we're working on. Dan wants a cyclamen, trifle and a festive quilt. 

To stop the feelings of overwhelm I frequently have, a phenomenon Dan refers to as taking on thus I am writing a massive list. A list of house readiness, so I'm not trying to do everything all at once. This is general readiness, not a festive thing. But I am most likely when I have two minutes before someone turns up to be found making a draught excluder (that really happened) or deciding to paint the bathroom ceiling, because these things become really important at times when I should really be thinking about something else. Getting it written down gets it out of my head and means I can go to sleep, which is one of my very favourite things of all. 

Friday, 14 August 2015


Just in time for my remaining vegetables, the rain has arrived.

I love it when it rains here, I can look of of the big window and smell the smell of freshness and soil. Today I intend to install myself in the living area and do some sorting out of things, probably involving writing some lists, poking my head into cupboards and generally thinking about this and that. 

I also have crumpets. 

Thursday, 13 August 2015


It's been a bad week for the garden. A combination of butterflies and parasitic water has lead to a very forlorn site. The broccoli is all but gone, and it was getting pretty big, which is a shame. But this is the thing when yo're a beginner, I didn't think to put netting over it and by the time someone mentioned it might be a good idea butterflies had already gone about their business. I have tried a couple of sacrificial plants - moving the caterpillars to those plants when I spot them, but there are so many I'm fighting a losing battle. I can do better next year. 

We have been on alert for cryptosporidium in the water for a week now. I know it's hardly the end of the world, but it is a bit annoying at times to have to boil water for everything. I'm not going to use the term first world problem as it's a phrase I dislike far more than I probably should. Our problems are our problems, none of us are saying they're earth shattering things, but can we only vent a little bit of frustration when we're at the end of our life or when our house has been transported to Oz? Madness I say.

I had a bit of a spending spree at the charity shop yesterday. Dan's mum has been after some new films to watch, so I always keep an eye out for her. We are desperate to get her using Netflix or something like that, but as he won't even pay her bills by direct debit because of "computers" I think we're fighting a losing battle. So I picked up 7 dvds for her and I bought a watch for Dan. He donated his old watch to one of the more fancy charity shops last week. It was expensive (to us) when he bought it, but it has a leather strap so he won't wear it these days. We had a quite nice Fossil watch at the shop yesterday so I bought it for him. £32.22 I spent on that little lot. Blimey.

Forgot to say, my compost bins arrived on Tuesday too, so we've set up a fod waste bucket in the kitchen and will move the piles of stuff in the garden into the bins at the weekend, weather permitting. 

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Leave No Trace

My general view of life is that things have no meaning unless groups or individuals ascribe a meaning to them. This is a pretty freeing way of thinking and it's easy to not get bogged down with the big stuff, it also means I can get bogged down in very small stuff. 

My recent re-embracing of melancholy (which is very easy when you spend a lot of time staring out to sea) is of course making me think of big things, the point of being on the Earth, what would be the best way of me living here and what would happen afterwards. 

I suppose my reason for being here isn't really my reason, my parents made that decision for me, so I don't have to think about that anymore *phew*. I keep seeing and hearing lots of things about legacy and what I would leave behind. Again, I don't think that's for me to worry about, it will either be something - probably financial or something I may or may not plant in the memory of my nieces. So the only thing that really matters is that how I live, because if I do have any input into my purpose or my legacy then it will only come from what I do now. 

Which is why that is the thing to mull over. And that is the purpose of tea.

Monday, 10 August 2015

I Can Read!

The last time I read a fiction book I read The Night Circus at the end of 2011. I have tried and failed to read many novels since then. On Saturday we went to Bury Art Gallery to hear a talk about Finland and the role of craft in Finnish culture by Anna Airaksinen. I confess we were a little late as we'd been to Clitheroe Food Festival to meet friends then we were stuck in traffic for 40 minutes. Still, the bloke on reception at the gallery spoke to Steve upstairs and he let us in. I didn't miss the part about Moomins so all was well. 

I can't quite put my finger on what I found so inspiring about the talk but something just clicked in me and I started to see things not differently, but maybe a bit more clearly. So when we got home, after a very small turn around Bury market for spicy things an a delicious yet rather expensive drink at The Clarence, I dug out a couple of books. 

I bought The Summer Book by Tove Jansson ages ago but it had remained untouched. With a new appreciation of melancholy I plonked myself down int he garden and read the whole thing. I can see it being a summer reading staple. I then read The Moomins and the Great Flood and have now moved on to Comet in Moominland. They're easy to read and I like the philosophy behind the books, it turns out that my problem with the other novels I've read is that I find it impossible to feel anything for the characters. Now I know that I can read more carefully!

The Exhibition of contemporary Finnish art continues until 29th August.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

On The Outside

It appears I have become persona non grata at the charity shop, kind of. 

I went in yesterday and the manager was kind of friendly in the way she is with customers but also a little bit distant, which is unusual. Then there was the general gossip and chatter, none of which I was involved in. So I just got on with the cleaning I'd started last week. One of the other volunteers said to me "If no-one else is going so say it then I'll say you're doing a good job with that cleaning" a couple of customers agreed and then the manager came over and said "I do appreciate it you know..." I think I heard a but in there somewhere!

She warmed up a little then, but there's still a certain something I can't quite put my finger on, it's just not quite the same as it was. The only thing I can think of is that I let her down when I couldn't go in to keep an eye on things the day after I hurt my knee. I offered to do extra jobs, I've been told it's not necessary but then the manager has been complaining of not having enough people or time to do the work. 

I haven't even told Dan, there's no point, I already know what he'd say. When it comes down to it, it's not my problem and not me who is struggling. You can't please all of the people all of the time so I'm not going to think about the place until next week when I go again. Easy peasy. 

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Do Instead of Buy

What I learned from the week of not buying anything is that when you don't buy anything you don't spend any money and it's the best way to use what you have.

I know that's the most obvious thing in the world to say, but it's not something I always adhere to, and I doubt I'm the only one. I know that I'm not the only person who spends to save, for example, or that buys something to make use of something else. The thing is that often not buying something else makes a use for the original thing obvious. 

For example our puddings last week. I know that some of our meals would be the type of thing where Dan says "that was really nice, but I could still eat something", I generally say that we don't have anything so we either go without, he has some cereal or we go to buy something. But just by thinking about it I came up with multiple options, it just took that little bit of thought, I was going to say creativity, but it wasn't that grand.

Last night we ate a mystery item from the freezer. Turns out it was just green lentils in tomato sauce, I turned it into a pasta bake with some of the tagliatelle that seems to have been overlooked every day since I bought it. It was delicious. We had been having the regular conversation about getting rid of the freezer, but then decided it was worth keeping for the time being due to life saving meals such as this. 

We made it to MIMA on Sunday after all. I'm really glad we did, all three exhibitions were excellent. The office of Useful Art, which is all about applied art, really inspired us to have a great discussion about how we got to where we are, the positives and negatives of our decisions over the past 14 years of being together and where we want to head over the coming years. It's the benefit of a long drive and seeing new things, well almost all new, we had seen Baby Marx by Pedro Reyes before, but I love it so much I didn't mind at all. 

For anyone in the North West just a public service announcement Art From Elsewhere will be at the Harris Gallery in Preston between 10th October and 30th November. It's currently on at MIMA and I would really recommend it. There are pieces by Ai Weiwei, Glenn Ligon (also currently on show at Tate Liverpool if anyone's off to see the Jackson Pollock exhibition) and Jenny Holzer along with plenty of others to excite and delight. The exhibition is still on in Middlesbrough until the end of September. 

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Bin Slimming

Nine or ten years ago when we were in the swing of domestic bliss, paying off debts, making our nest and trimming our fat bodies we got rid of our kitchen bin. I'm not quite sure why we brought the bin back some years later, I think it might have been when the house went on the market, so the kitchen didn't look weird.

Fast forward to this house, and I really dislike the bin. So it's going. 

We've spoken about it for a while, yes the evenings fly by here, and we agree that it's more of a pain than a help. Nipping out to put something in the wheelie bin a couple of times a day is far easier than wrestling with a full bag, not to mention the bits that occasionally* fall on the floor (as most of our waste is hay). I've also been reading about the qualities of rabbit stuff for making compost, full of nitrogen apparently. So I've ordered two small compost bins, I think two small ones will be better for us than one big one. Even if we only compost half the rabbit litter it vastly reduce the amount going to the kerbside collection which means the bin wont be as full which means we won't miss having a bin in the kitchen!

In other thrilling news, I really like the new ironing board. 


Saturday, 1 August 2015

Filling Up

No-one gets as excited as I do when I get the chance to visit Wilko. We don't have one here in the town so we don't go all that often, but we were after a few mundane things - who knew a £5 ironing board that had also been used as a pasting table and shelf would only last for 10 years? 

When we arrived a member of staff was reducing lots of the seeds down to 10p a pack. We were quite restrained and only bought 6 packs. 

We fancy trying out potatoes next year, and had seen this bags a while ago for £3 each but didn't buy them, they were reduced to £1.50 today, and although I'm not really sure how much a potato bag would generally be, these seemed like an acceptable price. 

It cheered up a day that certainly had not started off well. 

Even though we didn't go out, other than to Blackpool for this stuff, we did still eat the picnic. We'd treated ourselves to some fancy flatbreads from Booths, we won't be getting them again, I didn't even eat mine, just picked the salad and falafel off it, I clearly am not cut out for the finer things in life. I did make a tart with the rest of the rhubarb which was a success, we also had a bit of custard left over so I used that too. I rolled out half a sheet of puff pasty, turned up the edges, spread over the custard them topped with rhubarb and berries.

OK, they don't look great, but they tasted very nice indeed.