Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Out With The Old

I don't know if anyone else has things that really need to go away but never quite make it out of the door. I faced mine today. The new food processor is so much more chunky than the old one so living in the pantry isn't really an option. My pantry has to work hard, storing many different types of things so one item that's a bit bigger can throw lots of other things out.

In the kitchen there's a cupboard that I know I've spoken about before, it's a daft shape as it forms part of the breakfast bar but also runs down the side of the washing machine, so although it's a big cupboard more than half of it is fairly hard to access. 

It mainly houses my Pyrex and stuff like that, but it's always messy. I moved the lids into the big Ikea wooden box thing that now lives in the pantry mainly to use as an extra shelf but also to store things we only use occasionally.

So I decided to swap the trays, that don't get that much use, with the food processor that I use multiple times per week.

The blender jug has to live on its side, which isn't ideal, but there's no other option. The two dishes on the right at the top are usually in the fridge but I have no salad at the moment. There's also room for the salad spinner, which is currently in the fridge.

A small amount of jiggling made room for the trays, you can just make out the storage box underneath with lots of tins on top. It also meant I could clear out a couple of things to take to the charity shop.

A teapot a work colleague picked up thinking Dan would like it. We're never going to use it and it's not going to go on display, so lovely as it is it has to go. 

A butter dish, again a lovely thing, but we don't eat butter.

A slow cooker. I just don't use it, I'm a tweaker, I like to taste things as they're coming along, so leaving the lid on and not touching it just isn't for me. I think I've used this once a year for the past few years, more for the sake of it than anything else, someone else will love it. It's another thing someone gave to us that's now out of the door, there is a very strong theme with my decluttering!

Monday, 29 May 2017

May Round Up

The holiday at the start of the month has totally thrown me out. I haven't kept track of groceries or eating out this month, but I did keep hold of all non-food spending so all is not lost. 

The very start of June is a busy time for birthdays, so we've bought gifts for that, some new bedding as for the past however many years we've only had two duvet covers and they're both quite thick and hot in the summer, I had my charity shop haul and Dan needed/wanted a new shirt and tie for fancy work purposes. We also have some new kitchen appliances - a toastie machine as our broke, a coffee grinder as the one we have is pretty small so it takes ages to grind enough for the week as Dan takes a flask to work these days. Which means I also have a new spice grinder as the old coffee grinder has been passed on to me (of course I have never used it to grind spices before!). Finally there's a new food processor/blender, I'm not in love with this at the minute but I'm sure I'll get used to it. 

The food processor, toastie machine and coffee grinder were all free, we ended up with a lot of loyalty points on our Co-op card for reasons best not gone into, so we thought these things from our nice to have but low priority list would be a good way to use them. Had we used the money to pay for food then I don't think we'd have the same benefit from them, if you see what I mean. 

I keep forgetting to photograph what we've been eating, but this week everything we've eaten we've eaten twice. 

Tacos with green peppers and black eyed beans.

The obligatory stirfry, only this time with brown rice instead of noodles. Exciting! This one was sweet chilli. 

Spiralised beetroot.

Many, many crumpets, this one has a piece of lime and sea salt chocolate melted onto it. 

Falafel, mushroom and onion toastie. I can make pasties in the new toastie maker - pasties, can you imagine!

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Just Do It!

I've spoken a couple of times before about the plant jumble at the bottom of the garden here and here. Back in October we chopped the assorted roses and honeysuckle to the ground, hoping they would grow back. In the meantime a huge plant has continued to grow over from the house behind us, there's no back street or anything between the houses. This has been pushing the fence (which belongs to them) for as long as I can remember, and in the gales we had a while ago the fence finally snapped, so everything was pushed further into our garden. It has become apparent that our neighbour isn't going to do anything so we decided to take the bull by the horns and just chop the stuff down. 

Before. That's all one plant.


You can see how badly damaged and rotten the fence is. We just propped it up as best we could, it was easy to spot that the roses and honeysuckle have started to grow again and now have plenty of space. 

We were left with a rather large pile of debris. 

So dense and matted together, but it's gone now and it's one less thing to worry about. 

Friday, 26 May 2017

Edging Forward

We continue to take exceptionally small steps forward in the garden, maybe we'll spend more time out there now the football season is over (maybe not).

Last year we dug up the lawn in the back garden and replaced it with pebbles (see here). After making some edging/planters from pallets we had a couple of pieces left so Dan made a small path for the side of the garden nearest to the door. 

There's still some space either side  for plants, and Dan filled in the main body of the path with some split logs we had in the garage. To soften it a little bit I've shoved some mint and thyme at the edges, so they should do their thing and spread all over the place. Everywhere looks a little sparse and sandy at the minute, but I can see changes every day so I'm happy, as are the sparrows who love having a dust bath!

We have no plans at all for the weekend, if the weather's like this we won't brave the town or the beach, so hopefully we'll be able to spend some time in the garden, under our nice big brolly!

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Charity Shop Bonanza

I haven't bought anything from the charity shop for a little while, but yesterday I came home with a pile of stuff, and they were all on my wish list.

My intention had been to buy a pair of leggings on the way home but I ended up buying two pairs of brand new with tags jeggings (one Sainsbury's one M&S) from the shop. Not my usual type of thing but I want something thicker than tights for when the football starts after a Sam Vokes induced flashing incident - I jumped up when he scored and my skirt flew up a bit too high too! Delightful.

As well as eating a lot of cake on our holiday I ate a lot of salad, and some of them looked as beautiful as they tasted, I had a spiralizer before but it was a handheld one and not easy to use. Yesterday I picked up a new, slightly more robust one

I've had a little test with some carrots. 

Finally a customer asked me if I'd do him a favour (always a worrying notion) and take five tomato plants off his hands, so of course I said yes, and took them home for £1.49!

There are three different varieties - Alicante, Shirley and Moneymaker, so we'll see how it goes.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Hero Products - In The Fridge

The holiday is over and it's time for me to reclaim the house. The washing machine is on, surfaces have been scrubbed, the menu is written on the board and all the little things are being examined - I've even cleaned some lampshades this morning. I'm surprisingly full of beans considering the 2am start today, watching the new series of Twin Peaks. 

One thing that happens when we're on holiday is that I lose control of the fridge, I don't cook as much so I don't really know what's going on in there, so I was less than delighted to find out that a jar of sun dried tomatoes had been lying on its side and oil had leaked everywhere. So I did what I assume everyone else already does, I hunted around the house and garage for some tubs to contain all the open jars of stuff.


The other fridge development came from Muji last week. The cafe we go to in Burnley has a huge jug of fruit water on the go and I love it, so we decided to make some ourselves. 

Behold! Excitement abounds, a jug!

The little basket screws into the lid so we can just pop some fruit in there and let it flavour the water. 

Today we're having raspberry. Such a little thing makes such a big difference. 

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Good Things This Week

We're on holiday! That's a good thing on its own.

I was given some tea towels!

We went to a talk about murder at Edge Hill University.

I made overnight oats.

We went to Hull, and as luck would have it the day before our 20th Century Society magazine arrived with an article about the city. I had never noticed before that the masts on the (former) BHS mural spell out 'Hull'. Flabbergasted!

We visited Cottingham on our way to Hull to nip into Blondes a very splendid veg*n cafe, I had pastry!

and glitter cake!

We received our cheques, for £10.48 for the "Twenty's Plenty" footballs tickets when we went to watch Everton v Burnley. Oh yes, Burnley were not relegated from the Premier League - jelly and ice cream all round. 

Best of all Dan did the hoovering and made most of the sandwiches. 

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Three Days In Blackburn

Last week I visited Blackburn on three separate occasions, all for The National Festival of Making. I've been to the town on many occasions but can't really tell you much about the place, although I believe it has a football team and they play in the third tier of English football*. 

We got off to a bad start on Wednesday when we attended a really badly organised (paid) event about self-initiated projects, featuring Craig OldhamHamish Muir and Jane Foster. After being kept waiting for 40 minutes or so (some of that locked out of the building in the chilly evening) the talk was pretty interesting, although echoey as it was in the cathedral. I could have listened to Craig and Hamish talk for a looooong time around the subject, as they touched on some interesting points about mark making and creating meaning. I didn't hold our much hope for how well the rest of the festival would go.

I was, however, beyond pleasantly surprised when we arrived back there on Saturday, we could only stay for a couple of hours as we were going to the football. The festival covered individual makers old and young, small businesses and big national brands, all based in the area. We had a tour of the old Cotton Exchange which was more recently a cinema, is now in a state of disrepair and has now been taken over by... someone and will hopefully become a community interest building. There was so much to see and take part in - printmaking workshops, Pimms drinking, quilt making, stop-motion animated knitting, music, paper plane making, copper and leather work, 3D printing, singing, cooking demos, dancing... You get the idea, or maybe you don't, I am a little garbled.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so here are a few pictures from our weekend.

Blackburn catherdral exhibition/ lunch (I had this both days)/ Blackburn Cathedral exterior

Inside the Coffee Exchange, Liam Hopkins Chromatogram. This was amazing, each cardboard pod picked out colours from the building, I loved being in this space. 

Activities tent/Robyn Woolston and MGS Plastics/ Michelle Wren and Graham & Brown Everyone Has A Roll

Another favourite of mine, Front Room Factories at The Bureau, a film all about local producers, including a pie maker, sweet treat business, woodworker and Cover Me, a fashion brand for modest clothing, brilliant innovative people working from their own homes. 

We rounded off day two with a visit to Prism Gallery to see Jamie Holman and Roach Bridge Tissues Blackburn To The Fore. This went hand in hand with a Mitchell and Kenyon inspired memory video booth where people were invited to be filmed asking future generations to "remember me".

One town, one weekend, one large scoop of creativity, well done to all! More information about the things I've shown is available here.

*tongue in cheek obviously.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Home Bargains - Top Ten

I've seen a lot of love for the shop Home Bargains recently so I thought I'd share my top ten favourite things. I was going to do a vlog but honestly I'm just too squeaky in the voice department.

I shop here a lot mainly because I pass on my way home from the charity shop, there are loads of good things to be had but these are the things we have in all the time. In no particular order

1. Dried fruit. We eat dried fruit every day, especially dates, this is Dan's favourite brand, 89p for 500g.

2. Seeds. We use these a lot too, mainly at breakfast time, but also in salads and as a snack. 225g ground linseed approx. £1.50, 200g chia seeds also around £1.50, 125g pumpkin seeds 79p.

3. Cleaning paste. I love this stuff, it's what I used to remove the rust marks from our bath and the chrome legs of our dining table plus all manner of other tasks about the place, costs about £1.

4. Assorted jars of stuff for sauces. Cheap, cheerful, I'm not a gourmet so I can't tell the difference between these and the fancy ones Less than £2 per jar.

5. Nuts. We also eat a lot of these. I do buy larger bags from elsewhere but I always have these. 200g mixed nuts £1.79/ 200g walnut halves £1.89.

6. Noodles. I usually buy big bags of these from the Chinese supermarket but if we've not been for a while I buy these, around 59p for 200g.

7. Brown basmati rice 1kg £1.

8. Chickpeas. We eat tons of these, 400g tin, 29p

9. Menu board, 99p including a pack of chalk, I use this every day.

10. Treats! These date hearts and orange flavour chocolate were 19p each, I also love the coconut Ruffle bars, I think they're 5 bars for 89p. There's always a little something there so I have to use my willpower!

I buy lots of other things like wraps, tinned tomatoes, coconut milk, cleaning products, stationery etc, but these are the things you'll always find in my pantry. 

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Living High On The Hedgehog

I'm not a huge fan of online shopping but I am also not a huge fan of lugging heavy shopping through town so something had to give. Dan is also keen for us to eat more local/British food, as it was time to restock the pantry I turned to Hodmedod'sDespite my peri-peri fava bean induced "moment" and subsequent spending spree, Hodmedod products are welcome in my pantry. 

Food for us and new toys for rabbits - they love a cardboard box.

I went for the mixed pack of tins, both their plain beans and ready made foods, I'm looking forward to the dhal, and a pack of twelve tins of carlin peas - great for chilli, falafel, parched peas, and apparently chocolate brownies! 

I'm running low on gram flour so decided to try some yellow pea flour instead, and a kilo bag of quinoa. I love finding a little extra something tucked into an order so was delighted to find a selection of recipe cards

The very thrifty may wish to look away, this little lot cost me just over £35, delivery was quick and painless and I can't wait to get stuck in.

Of course no-one would be desperate enough for publicity to ask me to say nice things about them. I thought all of this up by myself and bought it with my own cash. 

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Look Before You Chuck

I'm neither an early bird nor a night owl, but this week I've been getting up early and I'm really seeing the benefit of it. It's just turned 8am and I've achieved so much, it's obvious but amazing!

In unrelated news some of you may know that we've been helping Dan's Mum to clear out his Grandmother's house as she has moved. I have been offered almost all of the remaining craft items, most of which I haven't even looked at yet, but at the weekend I decided to look through the button jar as I was after something for my embroidery doodle. I found this tucked away under the buttons and beads. 

It's a Royal Artillery patch.

That side of Dan's family never talk about the war so neither of us knew what roles people had so I asked Dan to ask his Mum if this badge may have belonged to his Granddad, and it did. As you can imagine it's a huge relief that I found it in the jar and didn't just donate it to the charity shop without having a look at everything first. It will be my pleasure to pass it back to my MIL the next time I see her.