Friday, 29 April 2016

The Final Stretch

Dan finishes work for a fortnight today, hooray!

I'm not taking time off from volunteering, mainly because I forgot to ask, but also because I think Dan wants to get out on his bike so he can do that when I'm out playing shops. 

I have stretched and stretched my grocery budget this month, as we had no spare cash from the general budget so I've had to use the grocery money for other things as well as food, there is no money left at all. We have £5 of Nectar vouchers though which is a huge bonus. So I've tried to stretch what we have to make a few nice things for the weekend. It is pay day but I don't get my new grocery money until Tuesday and I don't want to dip into general money. 

We are out of cereal, but have enough porridge, we are out of dried fruit and nuts but we have a few sunflower seeds. Dan will make some bread tomorrow. We are out of salad so yesterday I had to delve into the fridge to see what I could do. I used the last of the tahini and the final tin of chickpeas to make some houmous, chopped up a carrot and a red pepper to go with the few remaining tomatoes and some artichokes (89p from Home Bargains). There was just under half a cup of quinoa so I cooked that in some light miso and sriracha and added some roast veg and spinach plus a couple of chickpeas I held back from the houmous. Using some frozen chickpeas, half a pitta (it was huge so I only needed half for my lunch) and some of the harissa I made a while ago I made some falafel. 

Last night we ate from the freezer, which is now almost empty, other than some berries that could be used to make a crumble if we fancy something for pud and some corn tortillas that I'll use tonight . Which reminds me, we're going to try making our own wheat tortillas next month. Today I'm going to attempt some soup, I think I'm going to try puy lentil and spinach from River Cottage. I can always find something to make a chilli or a curry so I think we'll eat that for the rest of the weekend and we'll have made it!

Long live the pantry!

Thursday, 28 April 2016

All About Food

I forgot to mention the other day that I did get a free delivery code for my new clothes as I remembered to sign up for their newsletter before I checked out!

I didn't do a menu plan for April but I'm going to do one for May to make sure nothing hangs around in the pantry for too long. We want to try try a few new things too, I have earmarked a couple of recipes and Dan wants to improve his sushi making, who am I to argue?

1. empty the fridge one pot
2. enchiladas
3. stirfry
4. sushi
5. tofu sandwich with curry fries
6. out
7. tofu scramble with baked beans (we ate some homemade baked beans recently and I really want to try it myself)
8. nut roast

9. l/o
10 out
11 ancho-lentil tacos
12 out
13 red thai curry
14 pizza 
15 veg tart and salads

16 smoky Moroccan chickpea stew
17 miso ramen
18 plaki w. salads
19 lentil coconut dhal w. roti
20 some kind of curry
21 island black bean burgers
22 empty the fridge one pot

23 pasta bake
24 stuffed peppers
25 pad thai
26 black chickpea pilaf
27 tandoori mushrooms w. sweetcorn fritters and dhal
28 out
29 roast
30 black bean chilli
31 l/o

Finished another book, Homeland by Cory Doctorow. I kind of enjoyed it, although I thought it was a bit long for what it was. I've added it to the list in the top tab should anyone want to keep up with what I'm reading. We're attending a free event this evening about the Brexit, should be interesting. Dan told one of his colleagues about it so we're meeting him beforehand for a chat and a cuppa (free at the event). 

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

New Me

I haven't seen any other blogs mention this today so I thought I would, although I can in no way be as eloquent as many of my friends and friends of friends have been on social media. 

I read something a while ago about privilege (the article was about male privilege and everyday sexism), and it discussed how we can often feel our privilege at work when we think people should shut up going on about their issues. It changed me, I listened to my thoughts and remembered all that eye rolling I'd done over the years, and I started to be a different person. 

For almost two thirds of my life people have been living with what happened at Hillsborough, two lads from my town died and I remember that day as clearly as anything. I was 14 and walked home from my drama class, through the empty streets on my own because, of course, everyone had the match on. When I got home about about 3.30 my parents and brothers were silent (never happened in our house) and my mum just said "you have to see this". Then no-one said anything for a really long time. I don't even know that we had any tea that night.

This is nothing to do with whether you like football or not, or whether you grew up not-that-far-from Liverpool or not, it's about the truth. It's about when you know the truth and you know people are lying about you, your family, your mates, people you've never met or issues that don't have a direct impact on you and you know that the truth is being concealed - even when people with more of a voice than you are trying to shut you down, that's when you don't. The truth will out when people don't allow the truth to become something else. 

Monday, 25 April 2016

Spending Warm Summer Days Indoors

Or, I would go out tonight but I haven't got a stitch to wear. 

I wanted to go to the town on Friday, so I went to my wardrobe and found it was bare! We had plans to go out in the evening so I needed to keep my one pair of leggings and spare dress fresh for that. So I had to stay at home during the day as I couldn't put an outfit together! 

I couldn't believe it, that has never happened before. 

So I've taken the plunge and used some birthday money to buy some clothes, from a real shop no less. My problem is I needed basics, not something I'm very good at as they're just so boring. But I've ordered three tops and they should be here on Thursday, hopefully they'll do the trick, if not I'll return them when we go on the proper shopping trip on Saturday. I was under strict instructions from Dan not to say HOW MUCH? at any time! 

Friday, 22 April 2016

Slow And Low, That's The Tempo

Can you believe I've seen off another laptop? After Big Grey chewed through the charging cable the other week I've been using the old laptop. Yesterday the power pack gave up! I'll buy a new charger next month, nothing I can do before then.

We are limping towards pay day, I'm very impatient as I want to get back onto an even keel. Not long now. From the start of next month Dan will pay himself £2 each time he cycles to work so we realise the saving from not using the car.

Today I have the pen and paper out, doing some sums, a little bit of planning and working out the menu for next month.

I've finished two books this week - The City And The City by China Mieville, and Six Years by Harlan Coben. Both were really enjoyable, I read Six Years in just over a day, so I'll look for more books by that author at the library. Hoping to read another two books while I'm computerless. We'll also be in the garden chipping away at the mess, and we're walking down to Lytham again this evening, pace of life is slowing nicely.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Kitchen Rejig

Yesterday the kitchen cupboards were a mess. The type of mess where I could almost have found myself in a covered in a big pile of stuff like in a cartoon. It's because we have change our cooking and eating habits, but the kitchen cupboards have stayed the same. Things that used to dwell at the back of deep cupboards are now in frequent use so need to come forward, and old faithful dishes just aren't as busy these days.

This was the worst offender, full of large non-stacking items. the cupboard is a big one, but half of it is covered by the washing machine so it's not the easiest place to access. I decided to create some space for Dan's baking essentials, as they were the main issue.

I made space on the shelf where the cereal lived. Which meant I had to make space for the cereal in the pantry, which lead to creating baking area.

I put the little bits and bobs into a small loaf tin.

There was enough room to house the cereals, fruit, nuts and seeds, with a bit of a reshuffle. 

Which meant the cupboard I started with could be tidied.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

The Window

facing outside
As promised here are some pictures of the small window at the shop. It took a long time, I found it really hard to find the right things, but it's done for another week. As I said yesterday there was too much glare to take a picture through the glass, so I squeezed into the corners to capture as much as I could!

The area that faces the front of the shop is pretty small, with space for only one model, so I cram it full of other bits and bobs, not very full this week as we are in desperate need of bric-a-brac. 

The main section is a longer thing area leading into the shop, it's only a couple of feet wide.

The green skirt is absolutely gorgeous, not for me though as it's 100% silk. 

A bit of detail 

So that's that!

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Middle Distance Cake Making

Finally the internet and phone switch over has happened and I am now on faster broadband. We have been offline all day, but I've been out so no hardship for me at all.

We're all going off to celebrate my brother's girlfriend's 40th birthday in a few weeks. Five of the twelve of us are either vegan or, in the case of the small person, allergic to milk. My mum decided that it would be good to have a dairy and egg free cake so we could all eat some, and I have been tasked with locating one as I "know about this sort of thing". 

Dan has located someone and we are currently designing it by committee, Dan tweet the baker, she tweets back questions, Dan tells me, I text my mum she texts me back etc. so who knows what kind of camel we'll end up collecting on the day. 

Speaking of a mish mash, I had a lot of different things to use up last night so I took it as my opportunity to have my try something new night. We ended up with this -

Yes, more sludgy brown food! It was a za'atar roast mushroom with crispy kale along with a kind of orzotto with quinoa and puy lentils, cooked in miso with some leeks, spinach and orange pepper. I called the dish clearly vegan.  I have eaten miso before but never cooked using the paste so it was a new thing, and with a far stronger flavour than the light one I'd had before, very nice it was too. Luckily there was enough left over for me to have for my lunch today.

I did the side window at the shop again today, it was so difficult to find something nice. I have some pictures to share tomorrow, but that pesky sun was out and added lots of glare to everything. I did my best, and I don't often say that!

Monday, 18 April 2016

Hands On

Dan is the baker here, but he's at work and I had foolishly run out of bread so something had to give, I was nice and cosy at home and didn't want to go to the shop, plus we have plenty of ingredients in the pantry. I made some scones. 

To virtually everyone this is a total non-story I know, but the simple act of getting my hands into the sticky gloop is a big thing, I really don't like having wet hands. I'm fine when the rest of me is wet, but just my hands, it makes me feel queasy just to think about it. At least once a month I like to try a food I am a bit scared of, or to do something around food that I'm a bit scared of, today it was to make these scones with my hands and not use the food processor. 

I can happily report they are really quite tasty and touching the mixture wasn't actually as bad as I remembered. 

It's another thing onto the not-shopping list, the more we're making ourselves, the more we're looking around for things to make, we've not decided on the next new thing yet, although chutney has been mentioned a few times. Again, chutney is a basic thing, but it's a newish food to me so it seems very exciting!

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Back On My Feet

At the start of the month we had a small evening wander to Blackpool, last night we set off in the other direction and walked to Lytham. It was a really nice evening and Dan had been listening to a rather stressful game of football so we thought it might be a good idea, and it was. 

We took the quickest route into the town then got onto the beach at the pier and walked on the beach for the majority of the way there then got back onto the prom for the last mile or so into the town. We stopped of for a very welcome drink then headed off home, the bus was at the stop when we left the pub but we decided to walk back too. 

This is the view heading towards home

and one final look back

I realised I had a blister by the time we go to Fairhaven Lake, but we plodded on, this time we walked back along the road rather than the beach which meant we were able to see the rock garden when we got back to the town and we knew we were nearly home!

We had another drink when we got back to St Anne's then came home for Match of the Day and a bit of a flop around before bed! A pretty perfect evening. 

Friday, 15 April 2016

First Step

This morning I restarted the new bathroom savings fund, £2.47. It was the change from our grocery shopping, we went to Morrisons and arrived just after the yellow stickers had been applied - 29p kale, 29p for two (organic) peppers, reduced potato cakes for a weekend treat (Dan intends to use them as a template to make his own), and some full price veg that was just very cheap. 

That's probably enough for most of a floor tile though isn't it?

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Tiles And Smiles

Angela, Marlene and Jo, if you could please send me your contact details to thriftdeluxe at I will parcel some fabric up for you. Although I won't be able to post them until the start of May, due to roof hangover cashflow issues, if this is a problem then I apologise. 

Speaking of the roof, the work is done! As I mentioned, things got off to a shaky start on Monday, but after that it was plain sailing and by Thursday afternoon the work was done. The scaffolding was removed on Friday and the skip was taken away, so by teatime on Friday we were all done and dusted, other than a bit of sweeping on the footpath at the front of the house. The building assessor has visited all ready and given us the thumbs up too.

The guys did a great job, were exceptionally polite and didn't cause too much disruption. We took a deep breath and paid the bill and now we just have to wait for the insurance certificate, guarantee and other bits and bobs to arrive. The tiles are a near perfect match to the originals which is just what we wanted, so we have lost none of the "character", if 60's houses have character.

I have now been given the role of dressing the side window every week at the charity shop. The manager was very impressed on her return (I think she was genuine, not just glad to have one less job to do) and I confess I have received a lot of positive comments about it, so that's a good thing. The manager also asked me to pick out the outfits for the main window yesterday. I don't know if she'll use them, but it was fun to do it, but also hard as there's so much space to fill. Kezzie, I'll try to get a photograph of the window, although we have sold quite a few things since I first did it so it doesn't look quite the same as it did on Tuesday.

We are changing our phone and broadband provider this week too, so we'll be saving a few bob and hopefully won't have too much disruption, fingers crossed. 

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Fabric Giveaway!

I think maybe I've been a bit too busy cleaning at the charity shop, the stand in manager told me yesterday that he came in early to Henry and mop as he knew I was in for most of the day! I did my last big declutter, book swap (some had been there for months) and general primp, the manager is back next week after three weeks off with her bad back so I hope it looks nice and she's pleased with how we've kept things going. I know she'll come in and have a good sort out regardless but it will be nice for her to not think it's a total tip. I also received some compliments about the small window display I'd done - I'm not usually allowed to do it but as no-one else had I asked if I could, I really enjoyed it. There was also the small matter of a very strange interaction with a customer yesterday, I snaffled myself away in the workroom after a while, none of us could decide if he was flirting with me or not, but everyone was certain it was rather odd. 

Enough of that. Earlier this week I received a bag of fabric, the vast majority of it is not my kind of thing at all, but it might suit someone reading this so I'm having a giveaway!

 Pictured above is a small selection, top left is fabric to make a tote bag, middle left is a kind of Noah's Ark to make cushions or toys. The large panel on the right is an entire piece with ABC 123 to make a cot quilt or similar. 

Bottom left is quite a large piece of festive looking fabric, above are a couple of placemats and the large panel on the right is folded into three so could be used for a larger country style project.

Finally for now 

A pattern for a Rainbow Zebra toy/cushion and on the right fabric for a teddy bear cushion. There are a few other bits and bobs too. If anyone is interested in any of it then please let me know. I can measure pieces or take additional pictures if you like. Either comment here or send me an email, I think there's a button on the sidebar. It does all smell a bit vintage so I am washing it all, but as I can't get outside to dry it due to the scaffolding it may take a while!

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

On My Feet

I have piled on the pounds recently, far too much snacking and trying new recipes, not to mention Dan's fantastic bread so some changes are needed. Our meals are generally fine, it's just the little extras that are sneaking in. 

Yesterday I heard a piece on the radio about the British Heart Foundation "My Marathon" challenge. This is a push to raise money and to get people moving more by encouraging us to run/walk/move 26.2 miles in May. This isn't a charity I generally support but I was surprised to find that I was inspired by the discussion, so I suggested to Dan that an evening walk would be a good idea. Dan doesn't really need the exercise as he cycles to work when he can, but I really do need it, I'm very flabby!

So we started off with a nice easy walk from our house to Starr Gate, I've spoken about walking this route before here, this bit of the beach is not quite as attractive but it is very busy. There are always plenty of dogs, often horses, lots of runners of all ages along with other hobbies taking place - kite surfing, cricket, frisbee, kite flying and last night some people with radio controlled cars, lots to see. 

This is the view looking back towards St Anne's, big beach, big sky, ideal.  

When we were walking back I felt very aware of myself, which may sound odd. I was wearing my light walking shoes so I could feel the changes underfoot from the soft sand to the pebbles to the compacted sand with its many ripples. I don't know how but I was very conscious of how I was moving and holding myself, it was a strange and pleasant sensation - all part of the meditative effect of the beach according to Dan. More of this please.

Monday, 4 April 2016


Good thing -The tiles are here, the roofer is here, the skip is here, we're all smiling and drinking tea.

Bad thing - The scaffolding is not right and the roofer refuses to go onto it, understandably. The boss of the scaffold company is tutting as we speak. They need to extend a platform over my neighbour's garage.

Good thing - My neighbour is very nice and Dan told her all about what we were doing at the weekend so I don't think there will be any bad feeling, I'll make sure she receives a bunch of flowers to say thank you. 

Good thing - I now have the day/packet of biscuits to myself with no banging. 

Bad thing - There will be banging and fewer biscuits for an extra day.

Good thing - I have new found inspiration for my stitching. 

Bad thing - We have a large gap in the darkest area of the garden.

Good thing - I didn't spend most of the money I received for my birthday so I treated myself to a mahonia.

Bad thing* - Dan was let loose in the healthfood shop.

Good thing - I ate a Vego, and have some new ingredients to try. Hodmedod products seem to be popping up everywhere so I'm looking forward to trying these broad beans.

*not really bad, it was quite fun

Sunday, 3 April 2016

The Sky's The Limit

After many years of having Sky tv Dan has ditched it! This latest price rise is a rise too far. I know it's not a thing everyone would have, but we both love sport and watch football, rugby league, golf and ski jumping. But you have to draw the line somewhere so there we have it. Not having it will be £50 a month cheaper, but we won't realise the whole saving as I know we'll go to the pub to watch some games, it's daft to pretend we won't.

A slightly less positive sky related thing is the roof. We're all set to go tomorrow, but I have seen the weather forecast, it doesn't look good. Fingers are crossed.