Sunday, 31 July 2016

Let's Go!

Down the road and over the dunes to the quiet end of the beach, heading towards the kite festival! This year is the 5th year we've had a kite festival and it's getting bigger! This year there were rides on the beach, not one but three bouncy castles on the beach, stalls and a stage for local bands in Ashton Gardens, a BBC Introducing stage on the beach and lots of kites!

Kites on the ground as well as in the sky!

I very much liked the seahorse kite. 

It was a gorgeous day. 

These flags were our favourites. 

There are kites and samba music on the beach again today, as well as the lifeboat station open day, the sky is blue, it's not too hot, we're off work, and it's free of charge, let's go again!

eta I have added a link to the previous post for anyone who would like the full recipe and method for the flatbread. It can also be found in the River Cottage Bread book if anyone has that.   

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Wrapped Up

edited to add a link to the full recipe for the flatbread. 

We made a smoky, spicy, chilli bean type thing for tea the other day and added an avocado as a slimy treat, but had nothing to go with it, so Dan made some wraps. I'd seen a recipe that was just flour, oil, water and salt but Dan decided to leave the oil out, so that probably just makes them a flatbread rather than anything proper. 

I think he used 250g plain flour, 5g salt, enough water to make a dough maybe 300ml, a quick mix and short knead and then he rubbed the dough with a little oil to stop it sticking to the bowl while it rested for 30 minutes. Then it was just a matter rolling it out and cooking in a hot, dry pan. The recipe comes via River Cottage.

They were great! Why have I been buying wraps like a sucker all this time?

I can see why other recipes add the extra oil, but I was more than happy to have this simple version, they'd be great with curry or all manner of other fillings too. Dan's going to try corn tortillas next time so we'll see how that goes. 

Friday, 29 July 2016

Menu Planning Ceremony

I always like to sit at the table with a nice cup of tea when writing my menu plan, my controversial choice is milk in first, yes I am very common. When I first started making tea in a pot with leaves I asked those who would know Fortnum and Mason how to make the perfect cup of tea (the only other reference I had was the George Orwell essay) they said milk in first is fine, so that's good enough for me. 

While the water is heating up for the tea I clear and clean the dining table, collect together any books or magazines, and dig out my blue book and find a pen, usually to be found in the junk drawer. Once the tea is poured I'm all ready to write, this month I chose my four favourite books, the recipes just jump out at me as I nosey through. 

I make a note of anything we're doing that month, so I know when we're out, when I need to make something to take with us - usually when we're at the football, when/if Dan's away, and when I need something quick and easy. I have also got into the good habit of scribbling down which recipe comes from which book so I don't have to search when the time comes.

The plan is written with leftovers in mind, so if we're having tofu one night, there will be a plan to have it again within a day or two, if I'm roasting veg or opening a tin of something the rest will be used in good time, so the plan isn't as wasteful as it may appear. And of course if I change my mind then that's fine, as long as there's no waste it doesn't matter. The plan is a guide, not something set in stone, I can either follow it or react against it depending on how the day goes, it's all better than staring at the pantry when it's time to cook with no inspiration - I take my hat of to those who can do that, but it's not a skill I possess. 

Finally I write the plan onto the calendar. The calendar is on the kitchen side of the fridge so I can see it at a glance and everything should be plain sailing.  

Thursday, 28 July 2016

In Hot Water

It was all starting to go so well until the boiler stopped working. The man is coming to fix it (hopefully) at the start of next week. Sometimes I think we'll never save up for this new bathroom! Thankfully it's broken in the sense that it wont switch off rather than won't switch on, we have hot water and just switch the boiler off when we're not using it, so not all bad news. Last time the boiler guy fixed the problem using my lip balm so that could work again.

Oh well, I'll just enjoy the plants on the dunes (above) and the emergence of a lovely yellow tomato in my garden!

A friend was chatting on Facebook last night about the tv show Eat Well For Less and challenged us all to be honest about what, if anything, we thought the presenters would replace with a cheaper alternative to help us save money. Some of the answers were really interesting and lead me to have a good old think too. The first thing that sprang to mind for me was tea, I buy Atkinson's Lancaster Blend which is £4 for 250g, Dan buys his coffee beans from there, £6.50 for 250g. My favourite chocolate bar is expensive, but I'm not a fan of some of the cheaper dairy free chocolate (I'll still eat it though!), and I like crisps. I think they'd try us with cheaper milk too. 

Cheese was a big issue with lots of other people, my friend buys grated, other people bought slices or really fancy cheeses, lots of people liked a particular wine or other drink and a couple thought potato products like ready made wedges, rosti or chips would be on their hit list. I think my non-food would be more of target for someone taking a look at my household budget, we do well with our food (I think) but I think if someone else did an audit our toiletries would be under scrutiny. 

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Something Fishy

I mentioned yesterday that I picked up a piece of fabric for 49p from a charity shop with nothing in mind. After messing about with the stones in the garden an idea came to me. 

This is one of the seat pads we used to have in the dining area in the days when the white rabbit could get onto the chairs, it has been rabbited! I kept the pads for use in the garden. I was going to make a whole new cover for the pad at first but then when I realised I was feeling lazy I decided just to make a patch, a no-sew one at that. 

I already had some wundaweb type stuff from something or other so I just cut out a shape, enough to cover the damage, pressed a small hem then this morning I set to work. I cut the shapes last night so all I had to do today was get the iron out. 

By the time I got outside it was chucking it down with rain, but I had to see what they looked like!

Vibrant! Just the way I like things. 

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Freebie and Bargain of the Week

It's been a good week!

We need a lot more stones to finish the former lawn area, when we were out and about today we decided to stop at Dobbies just to see what was what. We almost bought some plants from the plant hospital but then decided to see what they had in terms of stones (we had taken a sample of stones with us to check for colour matching). We weren't going to bother until we saw some open bags at the stone hospital area, £3 per bag so we bought four, they were all virtually full so it was worth it for £12 in total. We still need some more, but not enough to buy another bulk bag. 



and small

Second bargain of the week is a piece of fabric from a charity shop in Preston, not one I'd been to before. 49p for a decent sized piece, it has already been washed, dried and has been cut up for a project that hopefully I'll have time and inclination to do tomorrow. 

Freebie of the week is also fabric, a friend of a friend was having a sort out and offered my friend whatever she liked, she kindly thought of me and now I my stash is replenished!

It should keep me quiet for a while. 

Friday, 22 July 2016

Looking After Myself In The Kitchen

We have been all over the pace with food this month. There's been no plan and on more than one occasion it's been cereal or grab and go from the fridge. Which is fine, and hasn't damaged the budget, but in the spirit of looking after myself I want to get my mealtimes back on track. Dan is a regular and pretty healthy eater, I am not. 

We did our final "big" shopping trip last night, so we're well stocked.

The fridge is full, there are quite a few bottles and jars to use up (I'm not quite sure why we ended up with so many) 

The pantry is packed, as usual

And there are a few treats too

Breakfasts will be smoothies for me and cereal for Dan
Houmous, pitta and salad for lunch
And for the evening, in no particular order - 

fry up (v-pud, scrambled tofu, mushrooms, tomatoes, homemade baked beans and toast)
teriyaki roast tofu with noodles and veg
pad thai
dhal with flatbread, salad and rice
thai yellow curry
ful medames
lentil stuffed peppers
bbq pulled jackfruit
roast veg tart w salad and couscous
use-it-up bean, grain and veg bowl

aka the usual.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Happy Days

We've been talking about moving to Scotland a lot recently, our friend in Edinburgh sends us weekly property updates (we didn't ask, she's just a delight). But sometimes it's hard to imagine packing up to start elsewhere.

Before the charity shop yesterday I went for a walk on the beach. The rabbits were well stocked with ice bottles, coolpacks wrapped in wet towels, drinking water and a fan. It was still hot when I got home but not hot, the buns were sitting next to a frozen bottle and weren't unhappy at all. I didn't have a water bottle to cuddle, so I had a nice cup of tea instead. 

I didn't quite reach the sea, although plenty of others were enjoying the water, but I did make it out the end of the pier, then I was off to the very hot shop! We chatted to a man for quite a long time, he told us all about changing his life after the 7/7 bombings in London, where he had been a train driver. He now spends his time travelling around, but returns to a different part of Britain each summer. This year he chose Lancashire. We nattered about bucket lists, following your dreams, putting down roots, being a free spirit and creating the life you want wherever you are. It was really nice to have such a refreshing, positive conversation. 

This morning we have beautiful rain and thunder, I love it

Here's the first little glimpse of the pebbles we bought to replace the lawn, that area is far from finished, but it's a good start. 

Monday, 18 July 2016

The Best Kind Of Weekend

After more than a few false starts -  roof, stones for the garden, new glasses for me, booking a night away etc. we finally sorted out the new savings plan and time frame for the new bathroom. It's a relief. 

The rest of yesterday was just as productive, Dan made lots and lots of bread, I made something, we did some cleaning and tidying, we moved all the furniture round in the living room, only to put everything back in the same place! Well, almost everything, we finally got round to removing the Sky box and other tv related things and filled the gap with some decorative bits and bobs from elsewhere in the house. 

you can see from this angle the books are there to hide the cable hole in the back of the cabinet!

We did a bit of planning for turning the veg bed into a nice flower garden and wrote some lists. A very good Sunday.

Saturday was a little more expensive, we drove up to Morecambe as it was their kite festival. We didn't spend too much time looking at the kites as it's our kite festival in a couple of weeks. we had heard that Teatime Collective were on a road trip up from Manchester, so we went up to try their cakes. I'm very glad we did they were amazing. We sat in the sun and shared a salted caramel and a strawberry & Oreo cake. Amazing!

Friday, 15 July 2016

The Nice Bits

I went out for a look around in the garden yesterday and just looked at the bits I like. 

I like the tiny hiding bunny that came from my Grandma's house

I like how tall some some things are

I like the dappled shade bit

I like the bits that remind me of the seaside, these are all over the dunes

But my favourite bit is just in front of the compost bins!

Thursday, 14 July 2016

I Admit It

Veg growing is not my thing.

It should be simple, everyone else seems to be able to manage, but I don't find it simple at all, I find it difficult, and stressful. 

I know we didn't get off to a good start this year with having the roof replaced so we didn't prepare the bed or start any seeds or anything like that, but even so there was plenty of time. We have sown seeds and there are leaves but not much else. Dan is more on board and I want to be but it's whatever that switch is in my mind I just can't get excited enough about it to actually do things properly. 

I know part of the problem is that I decided to grow veg because I thought we should, rather than because I wanted to. To have all this outside space and to not do anything productive with it seemed wrong. So we/I decided we needed to grow our own. I really want to do it but there seems to be some gap between my desire to do and the reality of doing it. I know it should be easy, but it just isn't for me! 

So I have cancelled my magazine subscription and although I feel really sad about it I'm just going to let it go. I just don't think it's worth it, it's certainly not worth how stressed and sad it makes me feel. There you have it. I give up, at least for now. 

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Wash Day

laundry liquid
Firstly, thank you to everyone who took the time to say such lovely, positive things about my quilt, I really appreciate it. 

After talking about it for a short time, somewhere in the region of 13 years, we decided to try soapnuts. The main reason for this my drive to reduce the amount of packaging that passes through the house on a monthly basis. At the end of May I bought a sample kit containing five soap nuts, a wash bag, some liquid detergent and a small sample of soap. 

It took quite some time to get used to the lack of fragrance but other than that it was very simple. I was still a little uncertain until Dan commented about how soft things were, especially towels. So I went for it and ordered a starter kit at the end of June. The kit contains the soapnuts, a bottle of essential oil (I chose orange), stain remover bar, and soda crystals. I had a 10% off coupon from buying the starter kit which covered most of the cost of p&p. 

So, I have been experimenting. I'm getting used to general laundry, recently I had need for the stain removal stick as I'd stained something with tomatoes and was really impressed. The stain had been there for a little while but the stain stick did the job well, I was impressed. I followed the instructions that came with the kit, boiled them up and made some liquid detergent. The pan bubbled over as I was preparing it and I can confirm the hob came up very clean indeed! That has now been strained and is living in the fridge, along with the nuts which I am told can be boiled another three times to make more liquid. I say I strained it, I sieved it so there's a bit of sludge at the bottom, I need to use a muslin cloth or something next time. The spent nuts from the original trial kit were blended up with some water to make a foaming wash. 

I added a few drops of the orange oil to this, firstly I used it to wash some dishes, it did the job but there wasn't much foam so it looked a bit odd. It was very gentle on my hands though which is a huge bonus.  I don't think I'll make that again, as I know Dan won't use it and he does most of the washing up, instead I'll use the old shells on the garden. All in all I'm very pleased, shame it took us so long to get round to it, better late than never. 

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

I Made Something

The big bedspread is finally finished! I decided against adding wadding as it's not really a functional thing, just a throw over for the spare bed. Plus, it made it far easier to handle, for anyone who doesn't know I hand sew my things. I have two sewing machines but I rarely use them, and never for quilts. 

There's not much else to say so here are some pictures. First of all the back, I went for a denim-look binding and I love it.  

And the front, one way

then turned the other way

Little bits of detail 

So there you have it. I know there's a pin in there, I just need to find it!

Monday, 11 July 2016


This is just to get things off my chest. 

This weekend was amazing, I had an amazing time with friends I have because of Dan. I also had a not that great time with friends I have because of myself!

Without getting bogged down in the details I experienced generosity and meanness of spirit in abundance. Neither surprised me at all, but the generosity, openness and welcoming nature of people are the things I shall be taking with me. Sadly I will have to spend more time around the other but that's a part of my life, it is not my life and they are not my friends. 

I am more fortunate than I ever realised, which says a great deal.  

I also saw a pigeon sleeping in one of my plant pots the other day, it was adorable. 

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Life Audit Day Two

Day two of looking after myself, and I went to have my eyes tested, having not been for five years. The opticians to me is like the dentist to a lot of people, I am just freaked out by it. 

I had been thinking about going anyway but just before I left for the charity shop yesterday I received a letter from them offering me a free test, so I nipped in to make an appointment, the earliest they could do was 9.30 today so I said YES!!! The appointment was actually very good despite my anxiety. I was shown the photograph of the back of my eye - I don't know about you but I thought that was fascinating, and I can tell you now I have a very nice retinal cup! My prescription just needed a little tweaking hasn't altered. I could have done without the assistant telling me how limited I was in my choice of frames due to my prescription and ... face. I was already more than aware of both.

I've chosen some new specs but haven't been able to order them as I don't have enough cash in my grocery budget account so I'll have to wait. Along with the free eye test I received half price voucher which means i can have them extra thinned rather than just thinned and still pay less than £200, I can't remember the last time that happened. I'm relieved it's done and have made a promise to myself that I will only wait the standard two years before going again. Now, what's next?

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Playing With My Food

I'm trying to look after myself a bit better and breakfast is certainly a place I can make some big improvements. I got into the habit of making smoothies when we returned from our weekend in Berwick - already a year ago! Recently though that has fallen by the wayside. So today, in order to give myself a kickstart, I decided to finally clamber on the wagon of smoothie bowls.

Mine doesn't look like the very exciting ones I have seen on Instagram, but I'm not on that so who cares! In the smoothie (which was a little bit runny so I'll have to work on that) was banana, almond milk, yoghurt, flax seed, mango and nectarine, it was a very pleasing pale pink colour. I topped it off with some sliced nectarine and banana, plus some mixed berries and a sprinkle of granola. 

it's another dark day, it was vibrant in real life!

It was really quite nice and made with things we had in the kitchen already. I will certainly give it another try. 

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Freebie And Bargain of the Week

I don't think there have been any real bargains, unless you count buying our veg from the market in Lancaster. At the weekend we went to the supermarket as Dan wanted a cheapo work shirt and we needed/wanted a food flask. I think I mentioned in a romantic move Dan has bought me a season ticket for the football. We thought the flask would help us to save money by keeping us out of the chippery on the way home. 

All was well. 

My parents came to visit on Sunday, armed with seeds, donations for the charity shop, Kilner jars and bottles, and from my SiL a food flask. 

Typical! The one we have from her looks ideal for things like pasta salad, mini pies and things like there, ours looks better for soup or stew, so we'll get use from both of them. For Saturday afternoon games we'll be out at lunch and tea time so the more hot food the better as far as I'm concerned. Sadly for some reason pictures won't load here today so you'll just have to use your imagination!

Friday, 1 July 2016


There's never really a bad time to be honest with yourself I don't think. 

When I feel stressed or frustrated I get the urge to empty the house and start all over again. It's a real temptation to start from scratch, but it's not realistic, and other than at that moment it's not really desirable. But it's good to change things, even things that seem to be immovable. Because it's not about the stuff, the stuff is a symbol, or a symptom. I know I'm not alone in this, because we're never the only one are we? For me at least it's just that things have gone too far and I've finally reached that "I've had it" moments where change has to happen. It's when I've sleepwalked into a way of being. 

The events of June gave me an existential jolt, what am I doing with my life, and for what purpose? I am distinctly average in every single way, and I'm certainly not passionate about things in the same way inspirational people such are Jo Cox are. But that's no reason to not do the small things well 

I was glad of the cooler, overcast days at the end of June to absorb the news and do overcast day things like clean the living room windows, enjoy cups of tea, made with leaves rather than bags, and work on my big blue quilt. I say quilt, it's more of a bedspread as it's just a top and a back, no wadding. We made progress in the garden. We stuck seeds into the ground, and some of them grew into edible things! I pulled clump after clump of grass from the flower beds, and removed trugs full of weeds. We have ordered pebbles to cover the former lawn area, they are arriving on Monday.

We've cooked together lots, Dan made bread upon bread, including very nice bagels. I started to work my way through Vegan Street Food. We finally started to save some money, and booked a night away in London so I can see the Georgia O'Keeffe exhibition. I've slightly altered my hours at the charity shop, just to give me a bit more flexibility and to stop the bit time jam I had around tea time. Everything seems lighter and more clear, there's time and space for things, thoughts and people. 

As an addition to yesterday, the baby bird is indeed living on the ground, it is in a spot under a bush, behind the Insect Hospital and walled in by the stacks of old lawn, so it's very sheltered, the parents are in and out frequently with food, so we shall see.