Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Somewhere To Rest My Tea

When we'd laid out the stones and put in the pallet planters we sat down to enjoy a cup of tea. We quickly noticed that there was something missing, somewhere to rest our mugs. So Dan set about making a table from the leftover pallet pieces. 

I tried to avoid going out in the rain!

He's not generally a maker of things, other than bread, so this was something a bit different, and I think he's done a grand job. 

There's a little bit of glue seepage, but we can deal with that. It's ideal for our needs at the minute, especially as our main need is for things to be low/ no cost!

Now all we need is for the sun to make a comeback so we can get out there and enjoy it. 

Monday, 29 August 2016

In The Garden

We spent part of yesterday and this morning in the back garden, in order to finally get to grips with the pebbled area. I wore my trusty sandals, now 20 years old. 

I did a little bit of weeding too and found some berries peeping out

Dan was in charge of sawing, I was in charge of pebble arrangement and we both did a bit of digging. We decided to keep everything at the same level as the path as much as possible, so we dug out lots of earth to allow the pallets to lie flush.

We've not planted anything in them yet, but I think I'm going to transplant some of the alpines from the main bed, I think I'll be getting lots of new plants tomorrow so need to extra room. My parents are having a garden revamp and they have offered the contents of one bed to us. Hopefully they'll be coming up tomorrow to look after my nieces while my brother and the two older children "Ride The Lights" in Blackpool (I can't believe illuminations switch on is this weekend!).

I'm very pleased with the wood and stones together., and I even got a chance to sit in the shade and watch Dan work!

Things are coming together slowly.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Holiday Preparations

At around 5 o'clock today Dan will finish work and our holiday will begin! I am so looking forward to it. Today I'm doing the last few bits of house readying, I would have done it yesterday but I nipped into the shop just to sort out some books and ended up staying all afternoon.

First thing I cleaned the fridge and prepared a bit of salad

Put the laundry on 

Did some ironing

Saw the state of the magazine rack

 the coffee table and my craft bag

and tidied them 

Just the spare bed left to make, after my cup of tea.

Then it's fun (hopefully) in the sun for two weeks!

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

In The Shop Window

For the first time in ages I dressed the side window at the charity shop. Much as I really wanted to have an Autumn themed window, due to us having some really nice falling leaves art work and other goodies (sadly, not enough space to store them for a later window), but as Sam asked that we all let the summer continue for that little bit longer on her blog today I decided against it. 

I went instead for an August Bank Holiday weekend away instead. 

The side window is really narrow so it's hard to take pictures

the metal sign beneath the bag reads "the world is your oyster"

As long as it's sunny I think this collection would see me through the weekend, nice and casual with the linen trousers and shirt with some flat sandals, then dress it up with either of the dresses and some gold peep-toe heels. With a vintage case to hold it all on the way home!

Plus a dotty heart shaped chalkboard, a well known holiday essential!

Our holiday starts this weekend and I can't wait.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Absent - Blackpool Winter Gardens

in the foyer

Yesterday lunchtime we headed off to Blackpool to visit the brand spanking new Winter Gardens Hotel, slap bang in the centre of Blackpool. 

We entered the foyer into what was once obviously a grand space but was now furnished with bland, modern furniture, the staff were efficient, but not warm and we waited for our tour, all this in the midst of a controversy surrounding long term resident of the hotel who had fallen on hard times and had been asked to leave her suite, her home for half a century - front page news! We were escorted by a member of staff to one of the newly refurbished rooms, and that's where things became a little bit strange...

As you may have guessed, we weren't in a new hotel at all but inside, and part of, a new art installation Absent which follows the story of the once grand Winter Gardens Hotel and the demise into a new budget hotel, and the story of Premiums Bonds winner turned pauper, Maggie Morgan. We wandered from room to room, sometimes looking, sometimes joining, sometimes passing through the scenes, seeing the history and future of the building and long-term resident, and looked at ourselves in the context of both. 

I had been a little sceptical at first, but as soon as we entered the first room and events started to unfold I was hooked both by the story and, of course, by the amazing architecture and features of the Winter Gardens building - ending in the Empress Ballroom (I shared a couple of snaps here). The experience was beautiful and sad, my favourite mix. There is no way I could put into words how wonderful this melancholy experience is, firstly I don't have the skills and secondly I wouldn't want to spoil it in any way for people who may choose to visit for themselves, if you'd like a review produced by someone more wordy than myself there's one here. You can learn about dreamthinkspeak, the people behind the work too. 

Absent is on for the next three weeks. 

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Freebie And Bargain Of The Week

I've mentioned two of these earlier in the week.

Freebie of the week is the book sent from Ann, I haven't started reading it yet, I may save it for the upcoming holdiday. The magazine was 99p from the charity shop and I quite enjoyed it, I'll probably return it to the shop next week. 

Bargain of the week made me very happy indeed, Home Bargains were stocking brown basmati rice, £1 for a 1kg bag. We do plan to buy a few things in larger sizes now we'll be in Burnley once every two weeks or so, but for now this is the best price I can get for this rice so I am delighted. We won't need to open these for a while but I wasn't prepared to pass it up as it's something we eat frequently. 

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Treat Day!

Firstly, thank you to Ann from johnnyjumpsup, the book arrived today, I look forward to reading it. 

Dan's out for a meal this evening so I decided I'd have a treat day too. I had an appointment to get my hair chopped first thing, when I left there I just keep walking into the town. I'd checked the tide times so knew when there might be a view of the sea. 

I gave myself a budget of £5. My first port of call was the charity shop to pick up Landscape magazine I'd noticed yesterday, one I'd never heard of before, but at 99p for a current copy (Sept/Oct 2016) I thought I'd give it a go. The two ladies in the shop asked me what I was doing, so I said I was going to the beach. 

"What for?" they asked.
"Because all my friends that don't live near the beach think it's very odd that I only go every so often."
"Is there anything on?"
"Oh!" they said, looking at each other in a quizzical fashion!

So I headed off to the cafe in the old tram stop

Then I sat on the pier in the sun

I looked out at the approaching sea, although the tide is not very high today

Did a bit of people watching

Then headed onto the sand

I had a little paddle, the water was gorgeous

With the remaining £2 I treated myself to something to savour as I sit in the shade at home

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Bath Time!

This post is very much in the realm of things you only get excited about on your blog and in the privacy of your own brain

We've been talking about our new bathroom more recently as it's time to actually start thinking about what we want, so yesterday I was thinking about it and I came to a fresh conclusion. 

Our bathroom is grotty, there's no two ways about it , I mentioned a while go that we are very patched up in the shower department, for example. But then when I really thought about it I realised that the vast majority of the horrible bits are the tiles. Other than the leaky ones, others are cracked, and more are just badly fitted but that's all cosmetic, everything else works. Plus it's the only area of the house where we would, without much thought, replace original things just because they looked a bit worn. 

Our house was empty for quite some time before we moved in, that whole time the shower and bath taps were dripping, so the bath is quite stained. I've done my best with the green stripe from the tap, but the shower had left a streak down the centre of the bath, plus there were a number of rusty patches, so I turned my attention to that, armed with my trusty pumice*.


And after a small amount of rubbing

Still visible, but far better than it was before, and certainly not staring you in the face as soon as you enter the bathroom. So I suggested to Dan that we just have the tiles replaced, sort out the ceiling and fit a new shower. Dan suggested with the money we'll save he could buy a Triumph Dolomite to keep on the drive, I told him he should stick with the one he already owns!

*it's not really a pumice but it's the same idea. 

Monday, 15 August 2016

Headphone Holder

Dan has been after something to keep his headphones in as the cord is always getting tangled up in the drawer, so yesterday while I was waiting for the gymnastics to start I made a pouch for him.

I think I mentioned the other day that I had done a bit of chucking out when I sorted my new drawers, one item into the rag bag was a pair or pyjama bottoms, so I used them. I just cut the legs off tucked the top bit into the bottom bit for double thickness. I folded over the hem to make a neater top, so the bottom of the leg is the top of the pouch, and stitched the bottom closed. I did it by hand but it's still pretty strong, here's Dan holding it up, filled with two 1kg bags of flour as a test

I added a couple of buttons just for the sake of decoration

And there it is, a ten minute, no skill, jim-jam headphone pouch! We didn't really need it but it will be useful. 

I made another pouch with the other leg, and the left over pieces of fabric are in with the cleaning rags. 

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Freebie And Bargain Of The Week

Not much to report this week. I bought this Country Living Modern Rustic magazine from the charity shop for 50p, cover price £9.99! Blimey. 

When we were in Burnley we nipped into Tesco to use the loo and I took the opportunity to grab a copy of the free magazine. We don't usually shop there, so I don't get the magazine very often. 

I was really conscious of waste yesterday, we ate our picnic in the car, although I did see a couple of flasks in use at half time so I might take the coffee in with us next week. When I looked around there was so much plastic in use it was amazing, I've been to loads of big events but this was the first time I'd really thought about it - chip cartons, tea and coffee cups, soft drink cups, chocolate wrappers. I think the only recyclable things were plastic pop bottles and the foil tray from the pies - not that most people are going to take those things home to shove into their recycling obviously. I'm not judging anyone, I've had many drinks and snacks at gigs and games before, I just noticed how near impossible it was to be zero waste at an event like this, unless you take your own drink with you, or of course do without. 

Part of the reason we chose the seats we did is that I love the view, the hills and the houses all lined up. I confess I did feel more than a twinge yesterday and didn't really want to come back to the Fylde, but we made our choice and here we are. Maybe we'll wander back some day.  

Friday, 12 August 2016

It's Christmas Eve

is that blurry?

This morning I had a very giddy boy in the house, who knows what he'll be like by tonight.

It's the first game of the new football season tomorrow. 

I am very much looking forward to the match, and almost as excited about trying out the food flask! Tomorrow will be a three flasker, one for spiced squash soup, one for quinoa salad and one for coffee. I don't know what we can and can't take into the ground so I think tomorrow we'll eat in the car and I have a look for other flasks and things when we get inside. 

Hopefully it should be a low/no spend day, parking is free and we're doubling up with a visit to see Dan's mum afterwards, I think we'll be doing that most weeks, plus we can get shopping she might need on the way as we pass a supermarket on the way back to the car, saves her the taxi fare.

Why do we need to take food at all? Well, firstly being a sports fan is as much about rituals as it is about anything else (it's not really even about winning), hence pie and soup, lucky socks, tinned food counts, and all manner of other things are a part of the game, including the pre-goal mint if you're my mum. Secondly it's 40 odd miles from here to there and the game kicks off at 3pm, finishes somewhere after 4.50, so about 50 minutes drive, then about a 20 minute walk to the ground (better than sitting in traffic). I wouldn't be ready to eat lunch before we left, and I'd be famished if we waited until we got home to have our tea. So a picnic it is!

Up The Clarets is all that's left to say about that.  

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Monday Doings

After hitting my 2016 target of reading 12 books pretty early on, the reading slowed to a stop in June and July. I've read articles and bits of books, but nothing cover to cover. We went to the library the other weekend and I chose two books.

Butterflies In November is probably my favourite book of the year so far, it was so melancholy and unusual, a really quick read, but a really slow book in some ways - small things are magnified and big things discussed but not dwelled upon. Having read a few reviews, this is not what many other readers got from this book! 

I also picked this up from the "Returned Today" shelf

This is not one of my favourite books of the year It made me sooooooo cross, it made me almost as cross as the tv series Inside Out Homes - Dan has added that to the banned list as I shout at the tv a lot when it's on. That's all I'm going to say about that.

I mentioned recently that someone had given me a big stack of fabric, well I decided to make some flowers/frilly decorations for the displays at the charity shop, I have no idea if the manager will want them so I've just done a couple of very rough and ready samples

Yesterday I did some cooking ready for the start of the football season. Football isn't football without a pie or a pasty, so yesterday I made two kinds a hashty - lentil and potato hash filling, and squash and butterbean. The squash pasty filling is my homage to the delicious pasties we buy occasionally from Filberts in Lancaster, it's just roast squash, butterbeans, chipotle, paprika, a little bit of stock and a squeeze of tomato puree. I made enough pasties for the first few games (of course fewer made it into the freezer than I made originally) and there's more filling ready to go. I tried one for lunch with my spicy soup, it had burst open so I had to eat it!

is that a bit blurry?

Monday, 8 August 2016


We are trying to reduce the amount of waste we produce, and the amount of plastic we consume, our biggest problem is the amount of tetrapak we get through with the non-dairy "milks", the best we can do with that at the moment is to take it to the recycling centre.

MIL's neighbour has made lots of very nice furniture from pallets he can access from work, he has also very kindly brought some home for us. I don't know how many there are but we have an idea to use them to form edging for the former lawn area. As well as providing something we need it will help us to save money on stones as we can shift the ones we have around to make space for the pallets and fill some of the gaps that way. 

The rabbits have a rug in their pen, we usually buy cheap ones and throw them away when they get too chewed, but Dan found an old cotton rug in the garage and has cut that into four pieces, they are the ideal size for our needs. We can wash them when needed and as they're 100% cotton I assume we'll be able to compost each piece when a replacement is needed. 

We've been storing bread in plastic bags when they go into the freezer, foolishly we've taken to defrosting it still in the bag, so the bag is a bit sweaty and slimy after all that and all we've used it for is as a bin bag. I saw cotton bread bags in a shop the other day and nearly bought one, but then I thought we might have a solution at home. 

A bit of looking online revealed that linen or even a pillowcase would be suitable, then I saw the bag we've been using to store our mouse and other computer things, a drawstring bag Dan got with a pair of shoes, it's ideal! I now store the cables in a cotton shopping bag.

Along with the scones I also made some spiced squash soup, using some Goan Xacuti Curry Powder I've had in the pantry for about two years, and for the sake of it here's what we ate last night, noodles with teriyaki sauce

Sunday, 7 August 2016

A Fascinating Insight

I mentioned Dan's impulse purchase last week, it was a chest of drawers and side cabinet. They arrived on Friday so our clothes have had a rejiggle as we were sharing a chest of drawers before. Dan has the large set in his dressing room and I have the new, small set and the cabinet in our bedroom. 

It's G- Plan Fresco and is a little late for our house as I think this is from around 1970, still it's the perfect size for the small alcove, and it was a good excuse for me to sort through the things that live in my drawers and add some things to the rag pile. 

As Dan has increased the amount of space he let me into his world as he sorted his stuff out. The wardrobes here are built in and above the hanging rail at either side are two small shelves (47cm w x 27 d x 50 h). This is what he had been keeping on his shelves 

An empty plastic box, two empty cardboard boxes along with some other packaging, programmes from concerts, a camera, bathroom storage things, a large floor cushion (?) and assorted other stuff. Needless to say most of it has gone elsewhere, other than two rugby shirts that had found their way up there, nothing went into a drawer. Amazing! 

So, it's been a productive weekend, the bedrooms have been sifted and sorted, we have removed the failed veg from the bed, but we did unearth a mooli, some radish, a carrot *yay* and some spring onions, so not a total waste. 

We did most of the batch cooking, but I didn't get round to the bean burgers, I'll make them today. Carol asked for the recipe, it is the Island Black Bean Burgers from Isa Does It, reproduced here. After making lots for the freezer we couldn't resist trying some falafel using this recipe which uses soaked but uncooked chickpeas instead of cooked or tinned, and polenta coated wedges, so that's what we had for tea, along with a pitta made by Dan 

I baked the falafel so they weren't as... delicious as fried, but they went down very well and I'll use this recipe all the time, inexpensive too I made 18 from half a bag of chickpeas, so that's 18 for about 65p including all the herbs and spices. This morning I baked some scones, but that's about as energetic as it gets today!