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Showing posts from February, 2015

The Very End of February.

February was successful. At the end of the month we added another £50 into savings which was fantastic. It has spurred us on to have a real push in March. I already have in my possession a large (for us) cheque, I tried to pay it in this morning on our way to the charity shop and the tip, but the cash machine had no deposit envelopes and the last time I tried to pay in at the counter the cashier told me off as my savings account is supposed to be a postal one. It can wait until Monday where our bank has just had a mini refurb so all the machines are new and I don't need to deal with silly things like envelopes.


On Friday I dealt with the veg lurking in the. Along with the 36p tomatoes we bought a lettuce so that was washed and spun. The celery, red cabbage and carrots we bought at the start of the month were still going so I chopped the rest of them and put them into a grab-and-go salad bowl. Winter salads are great, the ingredients are so cheap and can be used for stews and other …

Tastes Like Chicken

We ate the freekeh this week.

Freekeh is toasted young wheat grains. According to the box it's a good source of fibre and is high in protein. To compare, freekeh contains 18.5g protein per 100g which is higher than quinoa 14g, cashews 17g and bison 18g, and it's just below turkey 19g (according to this Men's Fitness article).

Were you to ask me how it tasted like I'd have to say it tastes a bit nutty, which is the veg*n version of it tastes like chicken. I say that not in a rude way, we both really enjoyed it. I can't say it was inexpensive, I think we paid £2 for a box big enough to provide for two meals. Nor did we do anything experimental with it, we cooked it and ate it with some dhal (which was such a hit on the first night we had the same thing the following night). I will certainly buy it again, but due to the cost it won't be something we have on a weekly basis, but that's the only reason. I'll be more adventurous with it next time round.

Fly the t…

A Quick Dash

I don't know where this is going, so eventually it will just end. 

I saw Sam Cleasby on BBC Breakfast this morning. I had been pointed in the direction of her post "To The Lady Who Tutted At Me Using The Disabled Loos" a few days ago and it was well worth a read. The blog is about inflammatory bowel disease, it's something we live with here. Dan has ulcerative colitis, and sometimes it's not very nice.

The thing about being a chap with UC is that public toilets can be a bit of a nightmare. The ladies toilets consist of cubicles, the blokes toilet don't. There could be a couple, or sometimes only one cubicle, often a bit grim and frequently in use, occasionally not working - especially true in the case of our local trains. But when you've got to go, you've got to go. 

Along with our emergency winter kit in the car we carry bin bags, wipes, toilet paper and spare clothes - just in case. It's never got to that point, but there's no way of knowing wh…

25% Off

After we decided in mid-January to give ourselves a pay cut we started to put things into action immediately. It might seem a bit... fake to some people but to us it's just doing a dry run to prepare us for a possible future. It was quite easy to start straightaway as we'd had a big day out, I was still working through my birthday gifts, the car had just been serviced the tyre replaced and things were easy. We didn't plan it that way, the plan came to mind afterwards, there's never a perfect time to make a change, so it didn't feel as though we were cheating. There was still enough of the month and the usual budget left to do a bit of jiggling and set a few things up. 

In order to set myself up for the smaller budget I thought it would be a good idea to retain £50 from the January budget as a float/overdraft for myself. That is for emergencies only, it should just stay as the base level of my current account unless something very serious happens. 

I was going to list…

Wrapping Up

We had thought there would be another bit of cash to chuck into savings at the end of this month, but then we remembered bunny vaccinations so that put paid to that. 

We made soap at the weekend. It did involve the purchase of a mixing bowl but otherwise it was free. It's now doing what it needs to do on top of the fridge for the next thee weeks. 

I still haven't planted anything. 

I've done some more exercise and am getting smaller, but also more hungry. 

The quilt is coming together quite quickly, I'm very pleased about it. 

Next month we have a few things to look forward to. We're going to Lancaster for another university talk, we're also seeing Jon Ronson (a belated birthday present) and there's a landsailing event on the beach one weekend which could be fun, if the weather is good. Also, we must plant something. Dan has also mentioned decorating. 

I've done the pantry inventory. The lemon and herb marinade is still there. I really want to put off a big s…

Options

One thing the first pay cut month has thrown up is how many opportunities we have. I know we know that there are opportunities everywhere to but not only realise, acknowledge, and even embrace them is a bit different. 

We've saved over our aim for this month and we aim to save double in March, what this push has done is opened up conversation about things we wouldn't have considered before. Not just the small things like the TV subscription, shopping and all the free things around us, but also bigger things. There's always the car conversation (we have this every couple of years) but Dan headed off to work this morning to ask what his voluntary redundancy would be worth, turns out it's not lots but it's not bad. This is something we would never have even thought about before but now it's on the table, only as a point of discussion but it's another thing to think and discuss seriously. You can't change your life without doing things differently after all.…

Plodding and Not Plodding

I like to talk about my day to day, because this is all about the amount of times my friends have asked me "but what do you do all day?" I've noticed I talked a lot about plodding on and how things are just taking care of themselves. But things don't have to just take care of themselves and my life doesn't just plod on, they may be slow and relaxed, but lots of things are still deliberate. 

I know I've spoken recently about when my house was a mess and that the stuff I hoarded was all about memories and remembering all the details. I think that's why I don't post too many photographs and I don't really talk too much about our big days out. I think it's because it's important for me not to fixate on them and that it's OK for someone else to jog my memory, rather than hang on to everything all the time. So the junk drawer can be important here, because I wouldn't talk about it out there. Here is different to out there in the real worl…

The Right Reasons

People ask me quite often why I volunteer at the shop and why that particular charity. I always laugh it off by saying it's to spot bargains or even to meet people or something like that. 

Yesterday a lady donated a few items to the shop and thanked us for doing so much for her Father before he died, and she started to cry, but kept on telling us about all the services and support they had been able to access through us. It was a very special moment, and it was nice to be reminded that the money does make a difference, right here in our town. 

She then told us about a brand new with tags skirt she'd piked up at the shop for less than a fiver. We were declared to be all round good eggs. 


The Experiment

We are getting towards the end of the first month of living on less money. Well, we really started right after we'd had the idea in mid-January so we had a little bit of a run up. January and the start of February are made easier by the fact we both have our birthday, so there's generally a little bit of a cash boost and gifts to scratch the itch of shopping. 

So far there's not all that much to report. We have been spending time at home, just relaxing, Dan has a couple of library books and I've started up again with the quilt, so easy no-spend activities there. We spent most of the weekend at the beach which is also fun and free if we avoid the walk through town on the way there and back, easy to do.

I have bought one or two things from the charity shop but have only spent £1.99 on the Sea Swallow book and an ironing board cover - cheaper than a new board. I haven't window shopped on my way there or home, I've taken the beach route to avoid the town and not real…

Stuff

I used to be a fit person who ate very healthy food, avoided junk and did lots of exercise. I am now not like that, even so I was shocked when I had to run along the beach with my niece*, I was worn out. So today I shifted the coffee table out of the way and did an exercise dvd. The rabbits were horrified. 

We had a great day at the beach on Sunday, Dan, Father and I ran around with the older children and everyone else strolled on the prom with the little one. We visited the RNLI station where I tried on the rescue gear, I carried a wriggling 6 year old until my arms gave way, we discussed tapas, why we lived near the sea, the purpose of statues, favourite superheroes (not my strongest subject), and the relative merits of different animals.

We had an early night.

Also, menu plan for the week - 

Sunday - out

Monday - stirfry w. noodles and cashews 

Tuesday - overly-hot goulash with roast celeriac

Wednesday - chilli

Thursday - jacket potatoes with chilli

Friday - veg balti

Saturday - peppers stuf…

Close To 50 Shades of Grey

I've finally started to sew the blocks for the big wonky 9 patch quilt together. It is making me realise exactly how big big is! Still, it's good to be moving on and seeing how it will look when it comes together. 


It's fairly easy to tell which fabric is my favourite, I've used rather a lot of it. 


My work basket is still pretty full so that should keep me quiet. I'm hoping to have it done by the end of the year. 

The Sea Swallow

I've posted a couple of photographs of The Ogre on the beach in Cleveleys here and here. The sculpture is all part of a larger installation along the seafront, telling the tale of The Sea Swallow and the Mythic Coast. 

Anyway I was tidying the bookshelves at the charity shop the other day when I found the book to go along with the public art, I was delighted. Written by Gareth Thompson, illustrated by Hannah Megee and published by Foxtail the book tells the story of Mary and her bid to save her town from being lost to the sea. 


It's a really lovely book, beautifully written and illustrated, with lots of nice touches such as including the petrified forest into the story. I'm so glad to have spotted it. 


Quick! To The Tram!

Inspired by Leanne and Kezzie along with a few others I decided to get out and about yesterday. Partly because I want to become a bit fitter, partly because it's nice and partly just because it's part of the reason we wanted to live here. 

I set my phone alarm for 30 minutes and set off from home towards Blackpool to see how far I could get. Instead of nipping through a tiny gap in a hedge onto the dunes I used the proper path. 



There's quite a big dune conservation project going on at the minute. I walked past the area where all the Christmas trees were planted


There were lots!




There were also two trucks going back and forth from quite far out towards a place where the sea will be if it ever comes in and dumping loads of sand onto the dunes. 

By the time my alarm went off I could see the tram shed at Starr Gate, helicopters and planes from the airport were flying overhead and it felt so close to just make it to the next landmark. So I did. The sand was a lot softer from here s…

Appreciation

I read a couple of posts yesterday about wonderful days out, home or away and they made me think about how little time I spend at the beach. It's something Dan and I talk about quite a lot but it really struck home. It's right there but a week or two can go by and I won't walk on the sand. Weirdly we spend lots of time on beaches, not just our own.

Speaking of Dan. He comes home today from his work thing. His being away has made me realise how much he does for me, for the house. I mean, I had to get myself up and out of bed! It's been a good thing in a way because I've had time to miss him and time to see what I get up to when I'm on my own. 

I think I've started to appreciate the impact the shop has had on me, and how I have some genuine friends there, I'm trying to not seem so surprised when I'm included in things these days. 

Finally, I appreciate the hand quilting thread I bought last year from Empress Mills in Colne. I've just run out and am h…

Food Time Again

I seem to be doing nothing but think about food at the minute, which makes me less hungry than ever! Dan is off out and about so I have all day today to do whatever I want, despite this I'm going to do some cooking. Partly for this week, partly for the freezer and partly to make sure I eat something while he's away. Although I haven't got off to a great start on the eating something while he's away front. I had some chocolate chilli penguins for breakfast

8. toast

9. chestnut and mushroom stew* w. veg (in theory, the reality may be different)

10 chestnut and mushroom cobbler*

11 jacket potatoes w. pepper sauce

12 roast veg pasta we're off out to another lecture

13 lentil, squash and sweet potato curry*

14 l/o

* things I'm making for the freezer. 

I Confess!

There has been a lot of talk this week about the Eat Well For Less? show on BBC1. Here is my confession - I sometimes  frequently buy bags of carrot sticks.

I don't like cooking, I don't particularly like eating but I must do both. Dan can't eat carrots, or many root veg, but I do quite like carrots. I can leave a bag of carrots in the fridge for yonks, I will eat a bag of carrot sticks in a couple of days. It's a small win for me. Same with shop-bought houmous, I've made it in the past, a task I do not enjoy and actively avoid, but if there's a tub in the fridge I'll team it with carrot sticks and get some nutrition into me. 

Maybe I sound like a brat, probably do, but I know myself and although eating is reasonably easy for me now - mainly due to Dan, if I was on my own for a period of time I wouldn't eat much. Some small conveniences mean I'll look after myself at least a little bit.

Pantry Check

After dealing with the bits yesterday Dan commented that I was "really getting on top of the house again". A compliment indeed. I have to confess that I almost enjoyed cooking the other day too.

Speaking of cooking, I did a stock check this morning, after spending nearly £47 at the supermarket the other evening I've decided that, other than bunny greens, that must be enough for a fortnight. So I'll have my pondering cap on. I need to cook something for Sunday and Monday evening as Dan won't be here at mealtimes and I know I won't cook anything for myself unless it's really easy.

I don't think we'll go short, we have -

pasta, Udon noodles, orzo (still left over from that River Cottage Veg recipe I didn't get round to preparing), freekeh, bulghur, brown rice, sweet potatoes, potatoes, onions, bread mixes, gram flour, plain flour, oatcakes, assorted baking things (left over from Em's visit at the end of 2013).

Yellow split peas (dried), pinto bea…

Bits

I've trained myself to be fairly tidy, or at least I am used to tidying up. However I am not very good with "bits", sometimes I need Dan's help to sort out those little bits and bobs that mount up. 



The above photograph i a prime example of something I've spoken about before. Other than the onion sets, everything here is a gift - glittery stickers for my Converse, a birthday card (yes, I know my birthday was a month ago), chillies and a tin full of seeds, most of which I did not buy or ask for. I'm not saying they're not useful, in the main they're really useful, but they came into the house without me asking. 


This stuff has been waiting to find a home since my birthday or even since Christmas, I think it's time. 

Tuesday

9am 
Where am I? In the garage
What am I wearing? amazing dress, flip flops, grey cardigan
What's the sky like? not visible
what's motivating me? looking for a suspected bag of hay, saving money
2pm
Where am I? behind the counter at the charity shop
What am I wearing? amazing dress, black tights, sparkly boots, yellow cardigan
What's the sky like? beautiful blue
what's motivating me? finding a new fleece for LJ, coffee, talking about Slimming World, and of course doing my good deeds for the day!
5pm
Where am I? in the car at Edge Hill University
What am I wearing? as 2pm plus a striped scarf
What's the sky like? darkening to a lovely inky blue
what's motivating me? finding the Health and Social Care building for our lecture "The Divided Self" with Prof. Geoff Beattie (free lecture, drinks and buffet provided). 

Linking to Mum's blog today as she gave me the push to do one of these for the first time in ages. Thanks Mum!

New Supermarket and Menu Plan

We usually shop at a local supermarket, Booths, but a few weeks ago we found ourselves in Morrisons when we needed just one or two things. We decided to try it out for our stock up shop as it seemed quite cheap. 

£46.79 did net us a lot of food. Some of the vegetables were inexpensive compared to our usual place, we didn't need/want most of the 69p veg selection but we did get 800g sweet potatoes and 1.2kg of carrots for 69p each. Dan picked up some heavily reduced bread, which is now sliced and in the freezer, and I confess there were a few things there that we hadn't seen before, such as some vegan slices for his lunch. Oh and we paid £4 for 12.5kg of potatoes. Non-fresh things weren't that much cheaper though, maybe a couple of pence here and there with some items and a little more expensive gram for gram with others e.g the own brand tins of beans were only 300g rather than 400g, we eat a lot of beans so it made more sense to buy the branded item instead. We also notice…