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Showing posts from March, 2016

Unexpected Things

Two unexpected things.

Firstly, I wondered why my laptop had a low battery


Big Grey Bunny had chewed right through the cable. She wasn't sorry. 

Secondly, this morning as i was cooking some chickpeas I saw two strange men sitting outside the house. Next thing I knew someone was moving our car and putting scaffolding up. Might have been nice to have a bit of warning but at least things are moving on!


I'm in the good books because I provided tea as soon as they arrived.

That Smell

Today is very much a get the sleeves rolled up and get cleaning type of a day. 

I am doing what I can at home, but the main bedroom now smells damp. Hopefully the weather will play fair next week and the new roof will go on, until then it's just a matter of doing what I can to keep the room as dry as possible and smelling not too bad. I appreciate the dehumidifier more than ever, it really is a hero product for me. 

My second stinky battle of the day is at the charity shop. I took a box of stuff yesterday and before I'd even got to the door I could smell that smell you know, the charity shop smell. It was awful, and certainly shouldn't happen before I even entered the building. This is the difference with having no manager, yes things are ticking over but the little things just aren't getting done. Today I'm going to do them. I did know the shop was more stinky than usual as a couple of customers commented last week and Dan said I smelled like a charity shop when I g…

Gone Fishing

It's Friday-Thursday! It's Thursday but it feels like Friday *yay*

When Dan gets home this evening we have no plans until return to work on Tuesday. Even when we're on holiday we have plans, but we have purposely not made any plans, admittedly it's mainly due to lack of fun funds. We are also having a digital detox at Dan's suggestion. I am all for it, but I confess I will be amazed if he gets through a day without his phone, so we shall see.

I have stitching, we both have a stack of books and magazines, if the weather plays ball there will be something to do in the garden, and I am hoping for afternoon naps. There's a cauliflower hanging over my head so aloo gobi is on the to-do list for today, never made or even eaten it before but I'm sure it will be fine!

Phew

Nothing really to show for our savings this month, it was all about socking the rest of the cash away for the roof, a few coins went into the change jar though.

Along with the mango salsa, olive oil, tahini sauce and whatever-the-other-thing-was earlier in the month we have also used up the panko (in stuffed veg and burgers), the longest standing resident of the pantry - a small jar of chilli dipping sauce, which was delicious, the second bottle of basil oil, frozen soya beans, sachets of porridge, dried fruit we received as a Christmas gift, a bag of pearl barley, lasagne sheets *hooray* and maftoul.

Bargain of the week this week has been two cartons of milk, they were half price as the screw on lid was missing, they were just sealed by the plastic ring pull. 

Cooking has almost been enjoyable this month, in the main due to following a few recipes from Isa Does It. Last night I made Everyday Pad Thai, well, I made the sauce for this recipe, I just used up what I had so I used a mix of v…

Pantry Check Up

There are some small but clear changes around the house over the past few months. Dan keeps claiming the kitchen and especially the pantry smell like a health food shop, something he assures me is a good thing. The pantry is certainly starting to look different, in focus if not totally in content. 



Dan's bread making section is getting bigger, there's more variety, and although I don't think we have more spices now they are in a more prominent position, here's what it looked likelast April. There's still some convenience items in there, the taco salsa was in a meal kit as cheap as the tacos I really wanted so that needs to be used up somehow. We're going to try to make tortillas soon so maybe tacos will be off the shopping list at some point in the future. 


I dug out these two spices, I bought the za'atar on a whim and the sumac for something specific, but I can't remember what now. So I made a salad dressing with the za'atar and sprinkled the sumac o…

Through Different Eyes

I'm sure most have you will have seen this Attic24 post before me, but I only saw it this morning, it's about a short break in Lytham St Anne's (but all pictures are St Anne's). The two places are lumped together but they're really different, Lytham is not as seasidey, but it is more pretty (and posher).

Perhaps not unsurprisingly was really interested to read it. Lucy is absolutely right, you might not spot Ashton Gardens if you're just mooching around town, but it is a nice spot. The rose garden is a lovely place to sit and read on a warm day. - yes, it's even sheltered from the wind! The beach ripples on the photographs illustrate perfectly the inspiration for the stitching I spoke about earlier.

It is sometimes really refreshing to see someone enjoy where you live and really see all the things you take for granted. I know it's impossible to enjoy a place where you have to buy toilet rolls, wait in for parcels and pay council tax as much as a place whe…

Needles and Shells

Dan has returned to work, on his bike, after a week off. It is great to be at home together, but I am am enjoy the luxury this morning of having the house to myself. 

Pillowcases and alfalfa seeds are soaking, everywhere is very tidy. The rabbits are starting to spend a little time in their new bed but are mainly sitting next to it, glowering, and I can get on with some stitching.

The thing I've started is based on something I did a few years ago (I think I mentioned it a few weeks ago), the first time I'd done any creative stitching for years, probably since I was at art college. That piece wasn't really suitable for use, so that's now my sketchbook and is providing me with loads of ideas. The inspiration for the whole thing, which at the minute is made up of four panels, is the beach, the ripples left in in the sand and the textures and items you see when wandering along in this place. I've just started adding some fabrics so it's at the fun, scruffy, unattract…

In The Garden

Wow, it's sunny!

I think I said we'd dug the lawn up a little while ago. Yesterday we covered it with some weed suppressant. It's going to look like this for quite some time as there will be scaffold and things around soon, and we won't be able to access the garage where all our bits and bobs live. 

It's giving us time to do a bit more planning about what to move where. I told my parents that I plan to put more shrubs in the border (to the right of the picture) so instead of Easter eggs we will be receiving a shrub each. I suppose it does represent new beginnings, life and that kind of thing so it's reasonably appropriate!

Yum!

We've been on holiday this week and so far we hadn't really spent any money, the tickets for the trip to Manchester were paid for last month. Yesterday we decided to go out for a bit, so we did and it was well worth it. 

Dan made a picnic - lentil soup, a bun, date and cashew bars, a scone and some coffee, we headed off up to Windermere. I wanted to have a look at food processors in the flesh and he wanted to get some more breadmaking inspiration. I was far too excited to pick up these washable cleaning sponges (£1.99) and he was not quite excited enough to get some gingerbread. We went over Kirkstone Pass and ate our picnic halfway along. 



This morning the unstoppable bread maker made more dough, I attended and sorted out my recipe box. It's something I haven't done for ages and there were things in there that I'd never make now, or that I have a recipe I prefer in one of my newer books, it's now nicely slimmed down and I'm far more likely to look there for …

Robinson. H

I bought this Heath Robinson for Dan (reflection of my lovely face is obviously a bonus for you to enjoy). Today he embraced that spirit.

As you know my life is all glamour and high-end living.

Yesterday Dan was in the kitchen and I was in the shower, he noticed some water coming through the ceiling. It was caused by the wonky tiles in the bathroom, I think I mentioned a few weeks ago that one had fallen off. Well, water is clearly getting behind them and we are unwilling to do anything about it until we have the bathroom redone - something we thought would be this year until the whole thing with the roof began.

So from the depths of the garage came our temporary solution


A couple of rubble sacks and some waterproof tape. Why not just have a bath instead you may ask, because the water pressure is terrible, we'd wait all night for the bath to fill.

We're also hoping that this solution will be a spur to further saving. We will have nothing but the baby emergency fund when we've p…

Walking Fail

I finished another book last night, The Human Part by Kari Hotakainen. I loved this book, initially as the main character was not a fan of fiction and the way people become so immersed in it. As I've probably said before I can't stand the snobbery around reading, and the well over the top reaction from certain folk when someone dares to get rid of books or even worse, they read a book on an e-reader *gasp*. Anyway, the book was not about that, but about a lady who sells her life story to an author with writer's block. 

The only reason I was able to get through it in such short time is that we came back from Manchester early. We had planned to attend a talk at Home but foolishly I fell down the stairs at the train station and my leg was hurting so much after walking from Oxford Road station to the Whitworth and back we didn't stay. We did look at Incidents of Travel in the Multiverse, I could cope with that as it involved a lot of sitting down!

It was a cheap day out too,…

Progress

You know when something just pops into your head?

On Sunday Dan starting frantically looking at paperwork for the house and tapping on his phone. He'd thought about building regs. for the new roof (something I would never have thought of). He emailed someone at the council about it to see what needed to be done. Impressively, by 7.50 on Monday morning we had a reply. If the roofer was part of the accredited scheme it was fine, if not we needed to supply them with papers and pay £150. 

Guess which one is the case for us.

I was very keen to still have our guy do the job, I think he's great, Dan was prepared to walk away from it, he's never met him you see so he's not as bothered. After a couple of phonecalls and voicemails we spoke to the roofer and all is well. He has applied for the accreditation, I think the law is changing in October so he needs to have the paperwork by then. If he hasn't received his papers by the time our new roof is fitted he will pay the £150 an…

Semi-Nakd

Still talking about cooking, don't worry we'l be eating from the freezer soon and I won't have anything else to say for a while! I can't say I have fallen in love with cooking, but I am glad to be using things up, making things from my cookbooks rather than just reading them, and trying new things.
Yesterday we used some vouchers we had for Holland and Barrett and treated ourselves to some coconut milk icecream, it's the ideal thing to have after a burger. From the book Isa Does It I made the Island Black Bean Burgers and Dan made curry fries (pictured above), they were both delicious and simple to make, no obscure ingredients or fancy equipment needed. I used panko breadcrumbs, but next time I'll just use whatever bread we have in. The mixture made 8 burgers, we ate one each and froze the rest.
We also made some fruit and nut Nakd-style bars


Only three ingredients, the recipe said to use raisins too, but we didn't have any. It's just a matter of blitzing…

Tweaks and Wins

Small but obvious changes we made this month - 

Dan has taken to working from home once a week so that saves on some laundry and saves on petrol. 

I found a recipe to replace the salt scrub I've been using on my face. It's not quite as lovely but it does the job and I already had all the ingredients in the bathroom or the pantry. I've switched back to bar soap rather than shower gel, it just lasts longer, and there's not much packaging.

I've been experimenting with the amount of washing powder, more than 2tbsp seems to leave residue in the drawer so I'm working with 2tbsp per load at the minute. Things seem clean and smell of powder so I'm happy with that. I have stopped buying surface cleaner and am using the steam cleaner to clean pretty much everything.

We have attempted most of the things on the make-not-buy food on the list, muesli, harissa, houmous, falafel, and hash. I'm tweaking away to get the perfect lentil soup and still want to make sweetcorn fr…

A Different Corner

For some reason I woke up this morning with that George Michael song in my head, it makes a very good shower song! Don't worry, I didn't stay in a low beat mood, it was quickly replaced with Deeply Dippy by Right Said Fred. 

Anyway, both songs made me think about the roof, so I decided to not think about this corner of my bedroom


  and think about a couple of others that are a little bit nicer to me (nothing you haven't seen before).



This is my favourite corner as it's what I see when I wake up. I bought the tiny sliver mirror from the charity shop for £3.49, we haven't hung it up yet as we want to make sure everything is nice and dry before we start drilling and all that stuff. 


My other favourite corner, with the chest of drawers squeezed in, there's only just room for the curtains, but plenty of room for clothes. 


I love my little Eastgate Withernsea Pottery dish for my bits and bobs, it's the only thing that stops me from losing all the little things, when i…

Use It Up Week

Our life now is very different to how it was back in those dim and distant days of the noughties. We were very frugal then and it was really only when the old house went on the market at the end of 2009 and we kept the house "viewing ready" that convenience started to creep in. That continued when we arrived here and it's a habit that we're still in years later!

So we're having a push, starting with the things we buy that we could make for not that much faff but it will save money and be not too bad to eat instead. Thankfully this hasn't meant going out to buy lots of ingredients, it fits in perfectly with our use it up efforts this year. 

This morning I made some harissa paste, it's something I use a lot and although it's not all that expensive I had most of the ingredients to make it myself. Some of the seeds are coming up to the best before date, and I know they'll still be fine for a long while but it's nice to start to empty the packets. I …

The Dreaded Lurgy

I'm hoping for a quiet day today. At the charity shop yesterday it was chaos! People falling ill all over the place, I was the last one standing. I had to close up early as I found the manager lying on the floor in the workroom with a bucket just in case. It takes a brave or ill person to lie down on a charity shop workroom carpet! 

More stressful than that, as the manager was out of order I had to use the phone to book a taxi for one of the other volunteers. I am not a fan of using the phone, but I had no choice - and guess what, nothing bad happened. I burbled and then as if by magic a car turned up and took LJ home, success!

Dan is also struggling with a bit of something or other, I'm starting to suspect I will be next!

You Can't Have Everything

I pointed the camera the other way yesterday instead of snapping the pier, on the horizon is Southport. Yesterday was a gorgeous day, the sun was shining, the breeze dropped as I walked to the shop, everyone was in a good mood, working at the shop was fun, it was great to get out and stretch my legs.

Our decision to move here hasn't been a wholly good one. 

It took me about four years to start to feel settled and I still don't love it here. I love the house and even without the difficulties we'd have selling it I would hate to leave it, but there are some real problems. The problem at the minute it is work. Dan's job is changing yet again, and it is going to be a less interesting but easier job. Not stretching his brain is not a good thing for him and the fact that his boss doesn't appear to be fighting the corner of the team adds to the negativity - they are fine so the ladder is being pulled right up. 

So it's job application time, but with us being a bit out on…

Home Shopping

When I was little my favourite meal was hash. My mum would get the terrifying pressure cooker out and make an enormous pan of it - potatoes, carrots, stewed steak from a tin, usually from the Christmas hamper and stock. I loved it.

Fast forward thirty years and we bought a tin of lentil hotpot from the healthfood shop. It tasted just like hash! Only it is nearly two quid a tin, and I now know that the reason we ate hash with a side of suet was because it was very cheap. So today I set about making my own, Dan is feeling a bit under the weather so we switched the menu plan in order to have comfort food. I don't own a terrifying pressure cooker of my own so I used my trusty iron casserole instead.



I washed some green lentils, peeled and chopped some carrots and potatoes, put then into the dish with stock make of stock powder, paprika, black pepper, marmite and sage. Left it on the hob for a couple of hours and there we have it - hash!


Gloopy and delicious. I've just had a bowl for …

Happy Bunnies

We took the buns to the vet for their Myxi/VHD vaccination yesterday. The vet we saw was one we hadn't seen for quite a while and I really like her, she's a great vet and has a wonderful bedside manner, she always makes us feel like we're doing a good job.

After only a small amount of kerfuffle we extracted The White One from the carrier, she as poked and prodded, weighed and jabbed, the nurse even described her as "really cute" which was a surprise taking into account the amount of fluffs they must see every day. Big Grey was on almost best behaviour too, she didn't bite anyone, there was no growling and she even seemed to enjoy sitting on the scale. The vet said she was exactly the same weight as last year, and that she's not overweight she just looks fat!


When we were wrapping up the vet commented that they are in very good shape for 6 year old rabbits. They're actually nearly 8 years old, it's only their vaccination card that goes back 6 years, …

You Can Go Back

I was going to go to the library before I went to the shop but the weather was a bit grim so I decided against it. I had one final flick through the library book I'd abandoned and decided to give it another try. I think it was a good decision, it follows on really well from The Secrets of Happiness, now I'm over the part describing removing eyes and burying them under trees and things I think I'll quite enjoy it. My other book is back on the shelf for now.

I also went back on the decision not to shop until Thursday. Dan was not in the mood to make things stretch and I was not in the mood to go to the shops twice so off we went. We went to our small supermarket this time round and it was fine, we managed to get hold of virtually everything on the list. So it means today instead of my planned lazy morning I had a morning of cooking

I wonder what else I'll change my mind about today?

What We Ate/ What We'll Eat

Happy to report I finished my 6th book of the year just before the end of February deadline (The Secrets of Happiness by Richard Schoch). Reading rate should slow now as I want to finish Austerity Britain, which I read the first 247 pages of in about 2008, so I have about 400 pages to go. I don't really read novels so if anyone has some good suggestions for one I could try then please feel free to make suggestions, the last fiction book I read was The Summer Book by Tove Jansson if that helps in any way. 

I didn't really do a menu plan for February, I just had in mind what I wanted to use up, and that I wanted as close to no waste as possible. We did quite well, we were well under budget, the fridge has been empty for about a week and the pantry is thinning out nicely. Here's what we had, the plan didn't start until Dan's friend visited.

7. falafel w. curried bubble and squeak 8. spicy rice 9. curry w. naan 10. bean burgers 11. chestnut stew 12. bean and squash stew …