Monday, 18 December 2017

From An Ungrateful Wretch

To the regifters.

I don't know if everyone with a birthday around Christmas feels the same, but I've spoken to a fair few people who have had similar experiences. 

1. No-one ever remembers.

2. Having a birthday in early January is the worst, everyone is just back to school, university, work and has had enough of celebrating. People are skint, on a diet, involved with their resolutions, or just wants to get back to normality.

3. Because no-one ever remembers birthday gifts are either the dreaded joint Christmas and birthday offering (because they know the birthday is sometime around Christmas but when, who can say?) Or it's the regift. 


I know re-gifting is a thing, but come on, don't regift in the Christmas wrapping paper. We know you didn't see a tin of Danish butter cookies, a Bayliss and Harding giftset in black pepper and ylang ylang flavour and think of us, at best you thought "OMG, quick, find something for that ungrateful wretch". 

Then there's the gift tokens. I believe I've aired my views on gift tokens before. Last year I received four, yes four, Google Play vouchers. Useful, but literally the least possible effort put into a gift, but it is nice to know you thought of me in the queue at Tesco. 

Most of this wouldn't happen if the birthday was in June. 

Don't want to buy me a gift, don't have the money, don't really care, that's absolutely fine, I have no issues with that at all. But when the only people who remember at the two people I know from a message board and have never met in real life (but have birthdays either side of mine), my mum and my husband it's a bit much, I get a lot of messages around the 10th of January saying "did I miss it again?" something I choose to find adorable. My own brother always thinks it's the day after the actual birthday - come on fella I'm nearly 43, we go through this every flaming year. He does, however, remember to wish Elvis and David Bowie a happy birthday. 

Or maybe it's just me, because I am an ungrateful wretch. 

Please note this is tongue in cheek, but I am also deadly serious (which is also tongue in cheek). 

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Reading List 2018

I've been through the house this week and pulled out all the books I want to read over the next year, we've had some of these books for years and I've only skimmed them, others I haven't managed to get through as they weigh nearly 5kg. 

The fiction - 

None of these should take too long to read, and I'm hoping to read a few of these between now and the new year. I've already started The Miniaturist and Elizabeth Is Missing.

The non-fiction

As for many people I was first excited about linguistics, and language in general at school through the work of David Crystal. We attended a lecture at Edge Hill University a month or so ago and I treated myself to one of his books, I read it a really long time ago but thought I'd enjoy a refresh. I have read a lot of the modern art book, I just want to read through again. In a fit of pettiness I bought this with a book token I received from my FIL, he doesn't really like modern art (and I don't think he's that fond of me) so I thought it would be appropriate to use the token to buy this. As I said, petty. 

Dan bought the Paul Nash book for my birthday this year, I'd like to read it before my birthday next year! The Elisabeth Frink, I've read about the works, there's just the general background and career history to read, probably only around 50 pages. 

We bought the Pasmore book this time last year and I've only flicked through it, I haven't even opened the geology one, so they are close to the top of the list. 

The elephant

This book is huge, and exceptionally heavy. I have started reading it, but it's soooooo heavy, no wonder it took Elain Harwood so long to complete! I'm aiming for a couple of pages per day. I've already read the parts about my favourite buildings, and places I know well but I want to read it through. Unsurprisingly I'm not going to start with this one as there would be no time to read anything else!

Not the biggest reading pile by any means, but certainly one to get through before I buy anything new. 

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Teeny Tiny Steps

Along with everyone else in the country we have been unable to avoid the news about the horrendous amounts of plastic we are chucking out willy nilly. I've known for a long time that it's something I really need to work on, but something happened recently that made Dan and I decide enough was enough. 

I wish I could remember what brought it to a head, it would probably be inspirational, but I can't. It's been coming since the Hugh's War On Waste show about coffee cups, there's the huge amount of waste that goes through the charity shop every week. Everything we receive into the shop is waste in a sense, it's something the owner doesn't want, and thankfully we can sell, recycle via the rag merchant, or pass on to a different charity a lot of it, but plenty still goes into the bin. I have absolutely no clue what happens to it after that, but we don't have a separate recycling bin. 

We have a couple of reusable coffee cups but tend to only use them when I take mylk to the shop or we take a drink out with us, I've never used mine for take out coffee, but neither have I had take out coffee so that's not too bad. Today we went to Windermere as there was a festive market on, I used my cup at the fantastic Earthworm Kitchen for a delicious almond mylk hot chocolate orange (it was amazing) you can see me enjoying it in the above picture. They didn't bat an eyelid. Later, Dan fancied a coffee so we used the same cup at a different place, even though the cup had been used the cafe owner wasn't bothered at all. Success! I know people in larger towns and cities will be surprised at my happiness, but this is a place where I once saw someone ordered their coffee in a reusable cup and the cafe owner made it in a paper cup, decanted the coffee and threw the paper cup away.

We did get some food too, but we had forks in the car and the container is suitable to go into the compost so that will happen tomorrow. The squidged item was The Buble Burger!


I had been thinking of buying a tiffin box or something for those times we treat ourselves to cake, but then I saw how much they cost and decided that I really could make do with the plastic tub with a domed clip on lid that we already own. 

Oh, another minor win was when we bought some onions, we don't have a market here so we buy almost everything from a supermarket. On Saturday we bought a bag of onions in a paper bag, there's a little bit of plastic on the front of the bag but it's a start.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

December In The Kitchen

Dan was working from home yesterday, so I spent a bit of time in the kitchen, something I don't seem to have done recently, who knows what we've been eating. I needed to fine a spice storage solution after being smacked on the head by a jar of mustard. Luckily I kept hold of a plastic tub that would no longer lock after Dan microwaved it with the lid on. A perfect fit for under the little shelf to store the lesser used spices.

My Aldi flowers are still going strong, I removed the less than great blooms and swapped the vase for a bottle. 

This week is a busy one by our standards so I did a bit of cooking so I don't have to think about it for a while. I even managed to fit a couple of things in the freezer box. 

I made three portions of cauliflower curry (top), using the last of the 20p curry paste I bought a while ago, one portion is in the freezer, we ate one last night, and there's one for tomorrow. I used up a load of mushrooms in a chestnut and lentil stew, one for tonight, one in the freezer. I've also written a menu plan, we're out and about a little bit so a plan should prevent waste.

1. tacos
2. bean burger
3. potato wedges w. houmous

4. cauliflower curry w. brown rice
5. chestnut stew w. veg and mash
6. cauliflower curry w. rice
7. out
8. soup and sandwich
9. hash
10 hash

11 black bean chilli
12 l/o
13 fried rice
14 pad thai
15 curried veg pie
16 l/o pie w salad
17 chestnut orzotto

18 stuffed mushrooms/ peppers
19 lentil bol
20 aduki bean pie (sweet potato topping)
21 fajitas
22 enchiladas
23 out
24 out

25 nut roast
26 gigantic sandwich
27 jambalaya
28 jacket potato w. baked beans
29 stirfry
30 cauliflower curry
31 chestnut stew

Dan has requested an East Coast Coffee cake and chocolate brownies, and of course there will be trifle!

Monday, 4 December 2017

Happy Festivus Georgie

What's so great about a mom and pop store? Let me tell you something, if my mom and pop ran a store, I wouldn't shop there. *

me, running away from a family party the minute someone suggests a game involving flour
I said I wasn't going to talk about it again, but here I am. I may not like Christmas, but everyone else I know does so gifts are a thing. We've had some success in negotiating smaller amounts of gift swapping between adults, but to remove gifts altogether was a no-no. 

The other thing that's changed is that I've started to manage expectations of myself. I, well we really as Dan was pretty much the same, used to tie ourselves up in knots trying to find wonderful, unique gifts for people. This year we said stop the madness, why were we stressing ourselves out looking for a stand out gift for someone who gives us a TK Maxx gift card every time (turns out the person with the least imaginative gift is the person most resistant to stopping gift giving, makes no sense to me at all). 

So we decided to fat dog it. So we did the majority of our shopping at the book shop, Tiger (shop selling cheap stuff, my MIL loves it) and the supermarket. Yes, we bought most of our gifts from Sainsbury's. Felt a bit weird, but there you go. If people don't like it, then it makes no change from any other year, but almost everyone needs books, pens and clothes don't they. Actually, do people still need pens? 

We ended up having a really good time, mainly due to finding this product

Who came up with this packaging**, other than a Seinfeld fan, and who gave the thumbs up to using it? It made my day, I bought some for Dan, they're wrapped and are tucked under the aluminium pole***. It did make us pause for thought and ask ourselves would people accept a card informing them we'd made a donation to The Human Fund, but decided against it. You can't just go round doing what George Costanza would do, appealing though the thought may be. 

I even wrapped it all, after finding about four shops worth of paper and gift bags under the spare bed.  Now all that's left for me as a non religious person is to attend carol concerts, eat nut roast, enjoy the M&S coconut and chocolate creamy Bailey's-style drink, and remember to write down how I feel today on my new calendar. 

* From "The Mom And Pop Store", Seinfeld season 6. Although also true if my parents did own a shop, I dread to think what they'd sell. 

** From "The Alternate Side", Seinfeld Season 3. 

*** From "The Strike", Seinfeld Season 9. 

Sunday, 3 December 2017

In The Window - Update

I mentioned a while ago that we had entered a competition for the best shop window during the Victorian weekend. Judging was yesterday and we didn't get a place on the podium. We were, however, Highly Recommended by the Mayor and my manager was presented with a certificate.

The winner was the fancy fabric, curtain and bedding shop, as expected. 

In a sense I feel it's only right that an indie business wins and gets the publicity, the one thing I do know is that next year if we take part it's going to be a tree, some teddies and a couple of sprigs of holly. There is no way I will be putting so much effort in again!

I'm doing the Christmas window this week, should be fun. 

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Freebie And Bargain Of The Week

This covers a couple of things from last week too. My parents came to visit and along with my smallest niece, they brought a pile of stuff for me. Something not pictured was a packet pasta meal, I used to love them when I was a teenager and my mum thought I'd like one for my lunch. I hadn't eaten one for over 20 years but I confess I quite enjoyed it! I also pinched a packet of pom bear style crisps from my niece. 

I received a pile of magazines as always

And a stalk of the nicest sprouts I've ever had

Dan's mum watches a lot of tv so we thought a Now TV box might be good for her as it would offer her channels she doesn't currently have available to her. A work colleague of Dan's has a pile of old boxes as he buys a new box for the offers they have - a £15 box might have a month of the movie channels in with the price, for example. So we've borrowed one.

I've been lucky at the charity shop too. Along with dozens of compliments about the Victorian window (which I'm not tired of seeing and am really looking forward to doing the festive window next week) I bought a couple of books to tide me over the Christmas holiday. 

Although spending is going to be at a minimum from now on as we have a new bathroom guy (I think, we had a little misunderstanding about the job earlier this week, but we'll see, Dan's sorting it out), I treated myself to a new brooch for £1.

Finally, I was chatting with a customer about this and that, and she commented on my necklace, saying she had some earrings in a similar style. On Tuesday my manager handed me an envelope

How lovely!

Monday, 27 November 2017

On Any Given Sunday

Yesterday morning on social media I described the day as "Happy 'be amazing then lose to a 92nd minute penalty' day"* (for those who don't know, a football match is 90 minutes long). We went to watch Burnley v Arsenal, and here's how it went. We'd heard it was going to be a bit chilly, as there had been a smattering of snow the day before, so I wrapped up. 

Thermal vest and leggings, jumper, fully lined skirt, extra socks, hat, mittens and a scarf, plus a big coat obviously.

A wet, misty drive found us in the town, parking is free on Sundays so we treated ourselves to a spot on the car park - and did our good deed by telling some away fans to save their money. Time for a spot of lunch, hot from the flask.

Into town, everyone loves the police horses, they get lots of mints! 

Time for a treat, almond milk chai for me and coconut milk hot chocolate for Dan from the wonderful Little Barista.

How cute are the cups! Now off to the match.

A sign of the times, the club has installed some safety barriers to prevent any vehicle driving through the crowds - the ground is right on the road, people would have nowhere to go. 

There's always a long queue for the real ale bus!

The beautiful view from my seat, snow topped hills and rows of houses. 

At the start of this post I said it was be amazing then lose to a 92nd minute penalty day. I was wrong! It was the 91st minute. I could do nothing more than stare at my feet...

*our last game v Arsenal was 2-1, losing to a 98th minute penalty, the one before that was 0-1 to Arsenal, losing to a 93rd minute goal. I wonder what will happen next time?

Friday, 24 November 2017


Dan is 40 next year, and much as I would love to treat him to all manner of things I don't have the funds, so I am keeping an eye out at the charity shop plus I'm making a few token gifts, one of which I'm plating with today. 

I can't draw. At all. But I really wanted to attempt a fabric collage picture of the house, we keep seeing them about the place, luckily I do have a picture of our style of house in a book, I also have baking paper, so I could trace it!

This is the very basic shape, with no additional stitching, we'll see how it goes!

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

The Legacy Of Poor Decision Making

Four years ago I made the error of sticking the wooden cutlery drawer insert thing into the drawer with some sticky pads. I think I knew it was a mistake when I did it, but I did it anyway, it may have been on the same day I hit the kickboard into place because it was wonky. Looking back at the post about these incidents it turns out I did know the sticky pad thing was a bad idea. 

Fast forward to today, inspired by something I read online (yes, I know, I should have left well alone) I decided today was the day to tackle the drawer. It turns out that pound shop sticky pads are very good quality and do not lose their adhesive qualities over time. Still stuck fast. So I thought to myself I could swap some of the kitchen drawers around, use a different cutlery organiser and all would be well. As it turns out not very many of my kitchen drawers are the same size, I swapped the only drawer that would fit only to discover, it didn't fit - 

wonky bonky. 

Back to square one. Well, it would be back to square one if the wonky bonky drawer would fit back into the hole from whence it came, it's a work in not-much progress. So I tackled the drawer containing the tin opener, grater and all that stuff (does that have a proper name?) instead.

I think the bottom one is the after photo, hard to tell really. I did manage to get rid of a few things

Two blue things for who knows what, seals for jars I probably don't own, a rubbish strainer and an even worse tea infuser. I've owned the infuser for about a month, made two completely undrinkable cups of tea with it and now it's off out of the house. I do like the two big scoopy spoon things but I don't think I ever use them, the larger of the two does look like it would be useful in the garden though. 

All in all have things progressed? Not really. Am I glad I did it? Yeah.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

A Day At The Beach

Well, a quarter of an hour at the beach.

It was not really very cold, just a bit cold, but the wind hit us as soon as we crossed the dunes. My niece refused to put her coat on and we were stared at by dog walkers for allowing a 2 year old to build sandcastles protected only by a hoodie. We splashed in a puddle on the way home then had jelly. 

It was nice to spend time on the sand, and everywhere looked beautiful. 

Monday, 20 November 2017


Other than a trip to the football on Saturday we were at home this weekend, and it was a lazy productive time, if that's a thing. 

Dan filled up the green bin, ready for collection this week, we took stuff to the tip and the charity shop, tidied the understairs cupboard, which was not nearly as scary as we thought, and generally had a putter around sorting things out - just what I wanted to do before I start to get stressed about that December event I'd rather just avoid. Maybe stressed isn't the word, frustrated is more the word, I can't stand to feel obliged to do things and we have to spend time with people who are all about tradition. Enough said about that, I'm not going to mention it again. 

One thing I struggle with is my breakfast, I can't cope with anything milky like cereal or porridge first thing, and having nothing for me to eat is a concern to Dan, so we seem to constantly on the hunt for something for me. Yesterday I was sick of thinking about it (for anyone who doesn't know if I could do away with eating altogether I would, it's a necessary faff to me) at the same time we turned to each other and said "breakfast bars". So I made some. 

I used the Morning Oat Jacks recipe from Keep It Vegan, although I couldn't bring myself to use 100ml each of agave nectar and maple syrup, so I used about 75ml of agave which is plenty sweet enough for me, and as the bars also contain coconut, raisins and dates there was extra oomph anyway. Of course I didn't have the right size tin so my bars were a bit (a lot) crumbly, but they are delicious and the extra bits are in a tub as granola-style sprinkles for Dan's porridge. 

Very tasty and one did actually fill me up which is unusual for a breakfast thing. I will try to get hold of a smaller tin and will make these often. I also got ahead of myself in terms of lunch, I will avoid lunch or grab the easiest thing, I want to avoid too much bread for a while as I do suffer from the aches and pains of "bread belly" so I made a massive bowl of veggie cous cous and washed and chopped lots of salad. Which we then ate so I have to chop some more!

It feels so good to eat lighter foods at the moment, I don't know if it's because it's getting colder and everywhere feels more stuffy with thicker coats, heating on etc, but it's something, as I am somewhat of a salad dodger. 

I also swapped a few decorative bits around to make things a little more wintery. I can't remember why I posted a picture up, probably of one of the buns, but I was ridiculed for having decorative logs in the hole where a fire would normally be. We don't have a fire, and the space behind is not very attractive, so what's the problem? We went from our usual look 

To something more... whatever the word is.

I've just found out that my youngest niece is coming to visit today so I can imagine there will be pinecones all over the floor rather than decorating the fireplace in the next few hours! A brilliant way to lighten up a dark Monday morning.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Freebie and Bargain Of The Week

This week we used more supermarket vouchers, some for bonus points on things we had on the shopping list anyway, such as laundry liquid, and another £3 off £20 these vouchers arrived at the right time as I needed things like rabbit litter, laundry liquid and other non-food items. When we use this final voucher we'll receive another £2.50 voucher to spend at our leisure. All in all this month we will have spent £100 at the supermarket (give or take), received £15 off our shopping and will have another £12.50 in vouchers, that's not too bad at all. 

The main bonus this week is from our internet provider. We were out of contract so Dan phoned to hear what they had to offer, after not too much negotiation we are paying £1 more per month than before, a fair bit less than the original offer, plus we now have super-fast broadband, which is great as we use internet tv now, and we have a few other bits and bobs to do with calls, not all that relevant but it's good to know should we need to use the landline it won't cost us a fortune. Shortly afterwards I received a text saying that as we have the new contract, and my phone is with the same provider, I now have an extra 5Gb data free of charge, great for when I'm out and about. 

At the other end of the spectrum, we had a voucher from the Co-Op for 50p off any of the free from range, so we ended up with a chocolate bar for 10p.

Finally, I bought some flowers from Aldi three Fridays ago and here they are 

Still looking amazing! Great value as they only cost me £2.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

In The Window

After no small amount of blood, sweat, tears and tantrums we have the basic set up for our Victorian window display. My fellow colleague Bee, who won "Volunteer of the Year" last year for our charity for being all round amazing, saved my facon by loaning me a dress she had made. People are falling over themselves to swoon at it!

Look at that dress! Isn't it amazing!

It took about an hour, a saw, hammer, staples, a bra, and half a roll of parcel tape just to fix the head onto the model, never mind the countless pins, staples, padded coat hangers and various other things needed to put everything together. It was absolutely hilarious (probably the only time I've laughed during this whole thing!). I think I'll arrange to be on holiday this time next year though!