Sunday, 20 August 2017

Hero Products - Pantry Favourites

I bang on about my pantry all the time, but then show lots of pictures of things packed with vegetables, so I thought I'd share a few of my pantry-based favourites*.  Obviously having some fresh onions or other fruit and veg for some of the recipes would be delightful, but it is possible to make use of items from the pantry alone to make something tasty should the need arise. 

Bread Obviously, need I say more? In my world there's really no time that bread isn't a good choice. Sweet, savoury, morning, evening, as a snack or as part of a main meal, bread is brilliant. And all that's to make bread is flour, yeast, salt and water** (and oil? I don't know, it's Dan's department). Magic. 

Houmous It may be unadventurous but it's a staple in our house, easy to tweak the basic recipe with whatever flavours we fancy. All we need is tahini, chickpeas, oil (I use hemp), water, lemon juice, garlic plus any extras - cumin, paprika, sundried tomatoes, grilled peppers etc. 

Chana Masala This is one of the many great recipes from Aine Carlin, this dish is from Keep It Vegan, I've mentioned it before (the book is usually available at The Works for a fiver, well worth it). From the pantry we need chickpeas, coconut milk***, tinned tomatoes, sugar, garlic, ginger and some spices. It freezes well and is just delicious. Great served with rice, or another good thing from the pantry socca - equal parts chickpea flour and water, a glug of oil and some salt, cooked in a frying pan like a pancake. Or even sweetcorn fritters - tinned sweetcorn, a splash of water, some flour, baking powder and salt.

Dhal Sticking with a curry theme, dhal is the easiest, cheapest thing to make, better with a few onions in the mix but fine without too - red lentils, water, some herbs and spices and a squirt of tomato puree. Great as a thick soup, or with flatbread, some spicy chutney, topped with toasted seeds or flavoured roast chickpeas, or even made into a pasty with some pastry made with oil.

Pasta Sauce I love to make this with onions, carrots and evil celery but have made it many times with no fresh veg at all and it's still fine, especially if made the day before and left in the fridge overnight. I use a mixture of red and green lentils (more green than red), puy are great too, tinned tomatoes, a squeeze of tomato puree, stock, some mixed herbs, paprika, dried mushrooms, grilled peppers from a jar if I have any, Dan tops his with some olives. Great served with pasta or garlic bread - bread brushed with oil and sprinked with garlic of whatever kind is available, I like this.

They're the first things that spring to mind, but I know there are more, including plenty of snacks. What are your storecupboard favourites?

*and water, but no-one is going to tell me off for including water are they?
** I know gluten free bread needs extra ingredients but we have never made that.
*** I tend to buy the coconut block, it costs about 80p and I get three lots from that.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Freebie And Bargain Of The Week

No freebies this week, although we are really enjoying our library books, and I finally got round to reading my bargain book from a week or two ago - Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, I read it in two sittings as I was completely hooked. Has anyone else read it? What did you think?

We did snap up a couple of useful items this week.  

We have been on the lookout for a couple of bags to store or freeze bread as we don't want to use plastic bags. When he makes dough Dan usually makes at least two batches, if not three (we only have three big bowls so that's the limit in one go). I bought these bags from my shop for £1.49

They're the ideal size for storing pitta.

We went to Lancaster at the weekend as we needed some tea, which reminds me we've been keeping a note of how many cups we get for the money. A bag is £5 and we made 97 mugs. I think we could get to 100 without too much bother. So it's still dearer than it could be, but not too bad and we enjoy it so much. 

Anyway, back to coffee

I spotted this coffee filter, brand new, still in all the original packaging, for £1.99. Ideal for taking to work, making a single cup at home, or for making coldbrew. I was really impressed when we got it home as both the filter and spoon are metal, I thought they'd be plastic. So really pleased with that. When we got home I had a peep to see if there were still for sale, they are and retail at £12.99!

The absolute best thing to have happened this week is that we have a new manager at the charity shop. After what seems like years but is in fact only four long months someone is in place and hopefully we can move forward. 

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Animal House

A while ago I spoke about all the animals that made their way to my picnic blanket. Today I noticed that there are quite a few more animals around the house too. 

There are birds

Ducks, owls, and some Moomins


A cow, frog, pig, dog, and a bear

A hiding manatee and some hares

Some cats in Dan's dressing room

Idefix the dog

 A lion, a bear and a dinosaur walked into a jar

Lions everywhere!

I wonder if I look hard enough I might find a rabbit or two?

Monday, 14 August 2017

Buying And Eating - August Week Two

I forgot to take pictures of what I bought this week, but it was the usual vegetables and that kind of thing, oh and lots of crisps. 

Working through the fridge and pantry continues, this week I opened the bag of quinoa from the big Hodmedod order we did a while ago, and I am pleased to announced it was a win! I have not been in love with many of the products we bought but the quinoa was very nice indeed. So here are a few things we ate this week, in no particular order.

Red Thai curry with brown rice

nut roast and plenty of potatoes

the last of the butterbean and lentil stew from last week with roasted peppers and lemony quinoa

bananas and custard (on an exceptionally grey day)

 we had a blob of this with our bananas, it's a gorgeous caramel marshmallowy gloopy type thing, very sweet, very delicious

Dan's delicious foldovers with houmous, falafel and grated carrot

For three nights we had a really delicious chilli, but apparently I forgot to take pictures on any of the three nights, silly me. Anyway we had it with potato wedges followed by quinoa, and finally flatbread. As I've said before, this is not a low carb household.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Freebie And Bargain of the Week

I'm not going to lie, the past couple of weeks have not been light on the bank account. 

We have replaced most of the lighting in the house and bought a full length mirror for the main bedroom. I had been peering into the window of The Attik at this mirror for a long time, it was just kind of propped up to one side, not really displayed to any great degree. Finally, after the whole thing with the bathroom we decided to nip in and just ask how much it was. Of course, we both knew that as soon as we set foot through the door we would leave with a mirror, that's the main reason I only peer through the window as I pass by on my way to the charity shop. In fact I frequently take alternative routes to the shop in order to avoid this place altogether, so many beautiful things!

Turns out it's just right for above my little side cabinet/ dressing table thingamy that came with the chest of drawers we bought last year. 

That's really just to put my mini bargains into some kind of context. This week my bargains are all clothes. Someone gave me a top, and I bought two others, so three tops for the sum of £4.50, not too bad. I'm going out with some people from the shop tonight so I'll be giving one of the tops a whirl, the other two are just everyday affairs. I tend to keep my clothing pretty simple, but I am very pleased the the orange and black top, I used to have a top in the same colours but it ripped, so I've been keeping an eye out for a replacement to go with my black white and orange skirt.

First, the freebie, this will be a good one for at the shop.

The other two tops are from next, they look huge but the orange top is an 8 and the other a 6, they're pretty flappy though even so. 

Can't go wrong with some sequins from time to time!

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Buying And Eating - August

We're working our way through the freezer at the moment which is great and there is now some space in there, I've also been cooking up all the bits and bobs that have been in the pantry for a while. But not the giant cous cous, that I just can't face, Dan doesn't mind it though so I think I'll make a roast veg salad with it for him to take to work next week.  

The weather has also been all over the place, as I'm sure it has been for a lot of people, so I've been making a few more autumnal meals. Last week I made myself some soup with green lentils, spinach, dried mushrooms, and a single portion of pasta that was hanging around. It was actually delicious and served me for a few lunchtimes. 

As I've been using things up we've been eating a lot of leftovers, so there's not that much to see this week. I also made a batch of curried roast veg and lentil soup, which always goes down well. I have been shopping a little bit too, although I really am trying to cut down, it's a bit of an addiction.

We've been to Waitrose a couple of times over the past few weeks as we've used the John Lewis click and collect service for a few things for the house. There are some good yellow stickers to be had. We picked up some reduced pak choi (the white bunny's favourite), courgettes,and bread (not pictured). I went a little grapefruit crazy. 

The guacamole from M&S was not a bargain but I really like it every now and then. 

More reduced bread, reasonably priced vegetables and a couple of other bits and bobs (also potatoes, unpictured). I have cut down my Home Bargains habit over the past few weeks, that's a bonus. 

The other day, before going shopping, it turned out I only had one potato left, so I sliced it up, coated it in paprika and stuck it in the oven then served it with some sweet mini peppers (from Aldi) stuffed with tomatoey lentils, and some roast veg. There's some v-pud hidden under the peppers too. 

It was cool and wet again on Sunday, so I made a stew with lentils, butterbeans and some sweet potato and butternut squash from the freezer, topped with the rest of the v-pud and served with some mash. I made lots of this, so we'll be eating it today and probably tomorrow too. It's hearty but still light enough for summer. We don't have mash all that often so I very much enjoyed it.

I think we're going to be staying in this weekend so hopefully Dan will get back to breadmaking, he's certainly making noises about it It would refill the freezer but not in a way that means things would loiter around for months on end. 

Monday, 7 August 2017

Black And Blue

It was a little bit of an odd weekend, we had plans to attend two events and we didn't see either of them through to the end. We left Lytham Festival after only a couple of hours because we found it a bit boring. Then on Saturday we went to watch a football match, the match was abandoned due to crowd trouble - a section of the away fans ran at home fans in the same stand then started throwing seats. In that particular stand the seats are made of wood, so it's no joke. I've never seen anything like it, and I have been to lots of sporting events. 

So we thought it would be safest to stay at home on Sunday and start to tackle the front bedroom! I love the front bedroom, it's so cosy but we wanted to up the cosy levels. This room has probably had the least amount of new stuff of anywhere in the house. Other than a few cushions, a mattress and a blanket everything in the room came with us from the old house or has just been taken from other rooms here, not that it's a bad thing, we just wanted to pull things together a bit more. 


We bought a new mirror for the main bedroom, so I propped this charity shop mirror (£2.99) up near the bottle garden and put the spare blankets into a box we had in the garage, the brown blanket was a gift from my parents when they went to Mexico many years ago. 

The sideboard came from my parents house, you know how you pick up these things when you move into your first house, it was dark wood, I painted it blue. I just need a frame for the print then it can go up on the wall. 

The wooden church was made for me and was sent by a friend I met online a long time ago, it came all the way from Canada. The little pots were a couple of quid from the charity shop and hold my quilting pins and other sewing notions.

We bought this print from the same place we bought the new mirror, Dan wasn't convinced at first but now it's up he loves it! On the opposite wall we used a few bits of my embroidery, just tucked into a corner.

And I can't believe it's a year since I finished the big bedspread! 

The carpet is a bit very stinky in places so that will be leaving the building soon and we're hoping to get a get a new bed, the one we have is not in great condition and is a little bit big for the room, we'll see about that though. 

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Pantry Prep Power Hour

As part of the kitchen rejigle/ getting ready to have the pantry refitted while we wait for the bathroom I tackled a small task that I'd been putting off for a ridiculously long time. I'd been keeping brushes, the mop and assorted other cleaning things on hooks in the pantry and it wasn't very practical, we kept knocking into them and had both been smacked on the head countless times by falling dustpans, so it had to change.

The pantry is pretty narrow at 72 cms from wall to wall, obviously much of that is taken up with shelving, so having mops etc hanging opposite made it pretty difficult to navigate. 

I decided to turn the porch cupboard into a utility area. It has always been a cluttered mish-mash of things - coats, shopping bags, clothes airers, shoes etc. The porch is just as big enough as it needs to be, fits one person at a time and the cupboard is fairly shallow at 45cm (I had to take the doors off to take the picture) but it is ideal for holding all those unattractive but necessary household things. 

Behold! Not exactly a thing of beauty, but it does make things easier. 

This morning has been spent dealing with other micro-tasks, such as putting up some pictures, Dan has replaced some slats on the kitchen blinds, things have gone to the tip and charity shop, all those little things that just make a house better. Next is to venture into the garage to see what we have in terms of paint. 

Friday, 4 August 2017

Freebie and Bargain of the Week

This has been a week of long lists. We received the first quote for the bathroom, it was about what we expected, but when we had a chat about it we agreed that there was just something about the man that we just weren't quite happy with. Dan has spoken to someone else, who comes with a recommendation from a work colleague, he sounds right up our street, but wouldn't be able to fit us in until January. Dan is especially keen so I have agreed that if he can fit us in then I am (just, after some persuasion) prepared to wait. 

Having said that I have said I'm not prepared to not make any headway with the rest of the house while we wait, so we've started a list and we're each going to prioritise our version then we'll see what rises to the top! Nothing to do with freebies or bargains but it has taken up a lot of my brain space. 

I'm still working through the contents of the freezer and am making headway, today is a cooking day as we're going to Lytham for the 80's v 90's night of Lytham Festival, then tomorrow we're going to a football match so I want to have our meals ready. On the menu is a lentil pasta sauce, soup, nut roast and I'm going to make pie with some lentil and mushroom pie filling plus pastry that are both in the freezer. 

As you know I am not the owner of a new vase but I did pick up a couple of books from the charity shop. Firstly a home book, maybe it will give me a few ideas for our housey revamp.

And a novel, I've seen this popping up all over the place, lots of people I know are talking about it, so I was surprised when it turned up at the shop as I'm guessing it's a fairly recent release. 

The books were 99p each.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Moral Dilemma

Well, not really.

Today a nice vase appeared on the shelf at the charity shop for the delightful sum of £1.99. I really, really, really wanted to buy it as it was a Whitefriars bark vase in cinnamon, ideal for on my dressing table. 


apparently I had my lovely head on today and told the manager that it was probably worth asking a bit more for it, he made call to someone who knows about these things and she confirmed I was right. So I class that as my good deed for the day. The thing is, I know I would have felt bad about only paying a couple of quid, but would I have felt the same had I spotted it at another charity shop or in a junk shop somewhere? I just don't know, my suspicion is that I would have just bought it and said thank you very much.

What would you have done in my situation?

Saturday, 29 July 2017


Back In October I wrote about how we'd chopped back the plant jumble of roses and honeysuckle at the back of the garden in the hope they'd grow back and we could have things looking less messy. 

There is plenty of life there now. Not only do the birds love it now we've chopped back the overgrowth from the garden behind, we have roses! 

I know absolutely nothing about roses, other than this one is pink

and this one is yellow!

There's far more going on at ground level too, I've planted a few shade-loving things but there are surprises coming up all the time, which is why we're waiting until next year before making any big moves with this area. 

Lots and lots of these, I don't know what they are. They've been flattened by the wind a little, but they're still really pretty. 

In May (I can't believe it was so recently) Dan made a small path to use as a shortcut from the patio to the pebbles made with some left over logs and the remaining bits of pallets we'd been given. You can see it here. It too has started to fill out nicely. It's hard to photograph as it's the part of the garden that goes from bright sun to deep shade. 

The thyme and mint that I rescued from an old planter has done really well. We also put in some lime mint, chamomile, alpine strawberries, and a teeny wintergreen plant that had been swamped elsewhere in the garden. Here it is from around the same angle as the picture in the other post.

Doesn't look quite as sandy as before!

The pallet edging is almost certainly my favourite thing we've done to the garden, although I love the pebbles too, now they've been here for a year little springs of alpines have started to thrive between the stones, just what I wanted. Things are thriving in there, such as the alpines. In the main bed they fine, plenty of flowers and all that stuff, but since moving to the pallet border they have taken off. The plant below is about five times the size in the space of a few months. 

I know it's hardly a shock "garden looks great in summer" but it is a great time to be out there, well when it's not raining!