Thursday, 19 July 2018

New Flip Flops


I need new flip flops!

Something I must have said thirty times since the weather warmed up, specifically every time I needed to go out to water the more needy plants in the garden. Instead I've been teetering around on cobbles with bare feet, holding the watering can. Then each time we've been near a shop I've declared that flip flops are a waste of money as I would only use them in the garden. Typical me. 

One day last week I was watching the blackbirds eat the last of the raspberries and I thought that maybe I could just empty the holly leaves out of the pair of pumps I'd left in the garden and use them for gardening purposes instead. That's what lead to them being left on the patio in the first place. After a couple of months left out in the elements they didn't look great, but after a turn in the washing machine and some new insoles (I already had some) they are ideal. 

This small act has saved me a couple of quid, but I'm not pretending the holiday was low spend, I bought three skirts - one new, two from a charity shop, a necklace, all the food and drinks in the world, I think 5 prints, at least four at any rate, and a mirror. The day the bathroom cabinet was fitted I said to Dan that one of us would end up chipping the sink when we took something out of there. It happened last week, so the 5 month old cabinet has gone away and a probably-slightly-too-small-but-who-cares-it's-orange mirror is in place. I hear a rumour that decorating will take place soon, we shall see. 

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Clean Slate

I think I said I'd been reading Better Than Before, and I have a whole new set of thoughts about it this time around. Whenever I start to have a good idea about something, I always venture into the kitchen to clean the cupboards, it's a bit like the Flylady shiny sink. 

Today I asked for Dan's help, we work in very different ways so sometimes we clash about the best way to do things, other times we can really help each other by coming at a problem in a different way. Today he helped me to declutter some kitchen items that held sentimental attachment, along with some things that didn't and we just needed to make a decision. When everything fits neatly into a cupboard it can be harderfor me to justify getting rid of them as they aren't creating a mess, but they can still be clutter, and far better off going to someone who wants or needs them. 

We had rain yesterday, but this morning the sun is back, so apologies for the shadows on the pictures! 


This is the first sweep, some baking things, a bowl we bought from the charity shop when we made soap, two things to hold garlic (I rarely to never buy fresh garlic), two jugs, two huge beer glasses (a gift) and other bits and bobs.


Afterwards we found the lid to the red garlic pot, I knew it was somewhere and we were very pleased to find it before we took things to the charity shop. 




I used to use this pan all the time, but can't remember the last time. 


Then we had another look round and selected a couple of other items. Again these were things we liked, but didn't need or use. Two cute trays.


And some assorted utensils. I bought the jar opener from the charity shop fairly recently, but it just doesn't quite work for me. We have two pizza cutters so one can go, loads of bottle openers so the Guinness one is in the bag along with the corkscrew, we don't drink wine and I can't remember the last time we had guests who needed to use this one.


Feels very good to get this type of job out of the way before 9.30.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Better Than Before

I'm on holiday! 

Today marks the start of the second week. Week one was all about not worrying about anything, eating and drinking all the things, and using the weather as an excuse to avoid exercise. This week is all about making some changes to my daily routine, to give me a kick start I re-read Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin, and chose a few things to get me going. 

Anyone spending more than a couple of minutes with me would come to the conclusion that I'm a rebel so it can be hard to get me to do something and then to keep me doing it. However, it turns out I am exceptionally vain so appearing to be the type of person I believe myself to be is very important. So if a person like me would do x I'm more inclined to do it, more than it being something I want to do, should be doing, or would be to my benefit. It's very annoying, but I'm not going to change. And there's nothing like being on holiday for having the time to think about what your best self looks like. 

More than anything else, my best self eats fruit. My actual self eats very little.

So this holiday period (I still have two weeks off work) is all about setting things up so the choice I want to make is also the easiest choice. So I'm combining the strategies of abstaining and convenience. I find it so much easier to go without something altogether than to attempt to moderate my consumption - it means I've made a decision once and I don't have to make it again. I've also made the healthier food choice the easiest to grab. Thankfully it hasn't all involved chopping. 


The fruit bowl has moved, it used to live at the far end of the worktop where it was out of the way and as such was mainly used for storing manky bananas, keys and supermarket vouchers. I've moved it to the near end of the worktop, a place I walk past countless times per day, so it's easy to grab some fruit. It really does seem to be that simple to trick myself into doing something, amazing. 

A bonus of this move is that there's no room to put stuff on the worktop so that's more likely to end up where it's supposed to go, which is almost certainly the strategy of pairing - putting two good things together to strengthen the habit. 

I'm using the same kind of process to get more reading done. Because we're watching so much football at the moment I've made a deal with myself to not watch tv the rest of the time, other than the last few episodes of The Bridge. So when the football isn't on, there's plenty of time to read. It's working well. The weather has helped too, we have been out and about but not for long so we can make sure the buns aren't overheating, we're back by 3pm any day we go out so there's a lovely long late afternoon and evening to laze and flip through the pages. It's all been pretty relaxing, other than the penalties!

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

June On My Spoon

I keep forgetting to snap food as I'm fitting everything in between World Cup 2018 matches, but here are a few things we've been eating recently. 



I don't think I've shared this before, spiced squash soup with a lovely pitta made by Dan. 



Obligatory noodles, can't remember how this was flavoured as it was a while ago, but I used the Tofoo brand tofu as it was on special offer, very nice, no pressing required.



Roast sweet potatoes with assorted veg and seeds, I can't quite remember what's in the pepper. Oooh, I think it might be some Linda McCartney meatball-style balls squished up and mixed with tomato sauce. If that's what it is then they were tasty, but a bit too meaty for me. 



This looks less interesting than it was as I kept everything separate. Roast veg and avocado with a packet of tomato and basil quinoa we picked up for 50p from Jack Fulton (discount frozen food shop) when we were in Colne. This was dried, not frozen, a nice quick meal. Things in this shop can have a short date, hence the prices but they get some good stuff I visit whenever I'm near one of these shops, we don't have one here. 



Messy avocado and houmous salad sarnie. 



Saturday brunch, Tofoo tofu scramble - delicious. Am I saying delicious a lot again?



Stirfry.


Ravioli, this is spiced butternut squash filled ravioli by Dell' Ugo, we bought it from Waitrose. We added some tomato sauce and a drizzle of garlic oil. It was absolutely gorgeous, the texture of the filling was ideal, and although it wasn't cheap, it's something I would never make so I don't mind buying it every now and then. 


Waffles! I made waffles for the first time, I actually think it may have been the first time I've eaten a waffle, unless you count the Birds Eye Potato Waffles that were a staple in our house when I was little. These are topped with some mango nice cream (I also made that) plus cacao nibs and cashew caramello. I used this Loving It Vegan recipe for the waffles. Is now the time to talk about my amazing sandwich toaster? My sandwich toaster has removable plates, we bought the waffle plates as an extra and they are brilliant! As well as waffles and toasties we can also make omelettes and pies in the little machine. AMAZING!Well, amazing if you're a lazy cook and a lover of carbs like me!

Monday, 25 June 2018

Light

Lightness is something I've been aiming for over the past few years, and without wanting to start throwing around terms that wouldn't look out of place on a motivational placard, it appears I'm meandering in the right direction.

Over the last little while we've been addressing all those micro-irritants that we've been living with for as long as we can remember, or more likely not remember because they've been there for so long. Deciding to stop growing veg was a huge step towards lightness, Dan hated it and I wasn't motivated knowing I had to do everything myself, we decided to do something different and now we go into the garden every day. I have even (after 8 attempts) embraced Instagram, mainly so I can take pictures of the garden every day now we have some flowers. 

The top stress creating thing in the house was, of course, the bathroom, there was so much tweaking that we still haven't decorated, but the main work is done and it feels so much better. I bought a couple of boxes to hold bathroom stuff, they look great, but they're really heavy, I put up with it for a while, but when I noticed I was putting things next to the boxes rather than in them, I swapped the boxes for something lighter and repurposed the new ones - one to hold garden tools, one to hold books and magazines I'm currently reading.

We've done some more decluttering, this weekend we dropped off the old coffee table, some clothes, and a pile of stuff Dan's mum asked us to donate. As part of this I went through my recipe books again and was really honest about the books I actually use, not those my fantasy self would use, so some went to the charity shop, and another was donated to the bookshelf at a cafe we've started visiting. I'm now left with books I use, clearly the bread book isn't mine!


We made a couple of trips to the tip to dump some excess soil. After creating the courtyard area we had nowhere outside to store the bulk bag filled with the former lawn. I've used so much of it, but there was still more than we could realistically keep. We kept one trug of soil and got rid of the rest. 

Finally we moved the screen printed panels, despite our best efforts the sun is just too strong in the area we'd hung them and it was so stressful thinking about how much they were fading. So we just took them down. One is stored away, the other has moved onto another wall in the same room. 


It's created a cosy corner. The other wall is not a thing of beauty now, but we have a couple of low stress solutions. 


All it took was letting ourselves let go of the non-negotiable things, now I have light and space. 






Thursday, 21 June 2018

Crumbs

I have tried on many occasions to make bread and it is just beyond me, still I live in hope that eventually something good will happen. 

That day was not today. 

I really wanted focaccia, so I watched a video, which made it seem fairly simple and went to it. There are no photos, i went in the bin after the hanging around for an hour hoping it will rise period, although I knew a long time before that that it wasn't going to work out. It all seems to go wrong somewhere between mixing everything together and tipping it out to knead it (I am not doing no knead bread, I can't be doing with having things hanging around overnight). I followed the instructions to the letter, and yet things just didn't seem mixed, so even after the kneading part there was nothing silky or easy to work about the leaden ball on the worktop. 

I think I know what the issue is, I just want to be able to do it, I don't want to do it. It seems ridiculous that I can't make something so simple, so I go into it as a challenge not something enjoyable, or even just as a task to be done. Dan always says he can tell when I'm not in the mood for cooking as the food tastes different, I can understand that. Probably just as well the dough went in the bin.

In another few years I'll probably try again. 

Monday, 18 June 2018

Happy Mundane

Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for

Epicurus 

I saw an updated version of this ancient quote on Instagram the other day. I usually ignore motivational quotes, I'm not easily motivated, but I liked this one. Initially I thought about it in terms of the bathroom and how, other than it looking a bit better, we're not actually that much better off in terms of a functioning room. But then I thought about it again, and it's done, so I don't really have to think about it much, which is certainly better than a kick in the face.

As I wandered around the house I started thinking about all the things that made me fall in love with it in the first place, and for the first time ever I really appreciated the kitchen. Our kitchen is not a beautiful room, everything in it is really cheap and a bit on the crumbly side, but it feels great, somehow it's not an unpleasant place to be, and almost everything works. I appreciate it despite the ceiling where the plumber had to cut a hole in order to repair the shower drain.


He actually did a good job, I had to remember where to look for it. I also ignored the fact that the only light in the kitchen area comes from the two desk lamps in the picture above, we haven't had a working ceiling light for years, there's one in the dining area and the pantry though - atmospheric!

I also ignored the worktops with some crumbly parts and some bubbly parts.


I didn't ignore the horrible hob, it was pitted and rusty when we moved in, and I confess I do avoid cleaning it, but today I attacked it with a scouring pad and it looks a bit better than in this picture


Washing up, wilting coriander, recycling that hasn't made it out to the garage, assorted junk of mine waiting to be put away and blackening bananas, it's all good to me!


Friday, 15 June 2018

Freebie And Bargain Of The Week

A couple of things made their way home with me this week. Firstly some books picked up on our trip to Colne on Saturday. A copy of The Highway Code, 50p. hospice shop


A couple of Ladybird books to add to Dan's childhood collection, 90p each also from the hospice shop.


I splashed out £2 on a stretchy comfy tunic thing, I just liked the design


A black jacket as I didn't have one, this looks great on.


Finally a small table, I plan to use it in the garden, the tray part come away so it should be nice and east to transport the drinks! Another couple of quid, turns out it's a Habitat Oken table and is still available to buy new. 


A pretty good week. 

Monday, 11 June 2018

Bright!

House beautification continues, this weekend we got some small but significant projects finished. We started off the weekend with a trip to East Lancs for some home and garden inspiration, we came back with a car full of it!


I did a little primp of the porch while Dan hung the pictures we had framed at Easter. My woodblock print looks gorgeous clad in yellow aluminium. 


The main focus of the weekend was to get on with what we are rather grandly calling the courtyard, really it's a bit of paving behind the garage that tends to be filled with junk. Now it's our new eating area, it's not finished yet, but the planters are filled and we are just after a few things to make it more pretty. Our garden isn't large, so we don't want any wasted space. 


Dan really wanted grasses, so we chose some that will eventually screen the compost bins to the left, then picked up a couple of small acers to section it off a little more. It's not the cheapest project we've ever done, but as Dan was so engaged with it I was happy to make it happen. 

Friday, 8 June 2018

Hero Product - Hooks

It didn't take all that long to sort out the stuff from the drawer yesterday, I also found another drawer stashed with things so I emptied that too. Then I found a drawer in the kitchen that didn't need to hold what it was holding, so something good came from looking for the batteries. Plus I did a bit of yoga.

Despite the huge list of jobs we still have to do I am a bit in love with the house at the moment, I think the sunshine helps. I am particularly happy with how easy it is to use at the moment, and hooks play a big part in this. We don't have much floor space, so using the height available is very important, my pantry has to work very hard, as it doesn't just hold food. Recently we added some heavy duty hooks to make things better. 


The pantry is also quite narrow (72cm at the widest point) so keeping things off the floor is a bonus. On two hooks I can store the paper recycling (on the right) and my cleaning bucket. On the left are my shopping bags and the tools for the Henry hoover. 


At the other end of the pantry there's space for a couple of bags, one holds bread, the other holds any veg  that don't need to live in the fridge, potatoes etc. 


I have some more in the porch cupboard to hold the Henry hoses, clothes airer and my shopping trolley, a lad in town called it a festival trolley which sounded a bit more exciting. The hooks cost a couple of quid each from the local hardware shop. 

Speaking of bags, I don't know if I've mentioned this before, it seems familiar, I stole the idea from a YouTuber to use spare canvas bags to store things. I use them for Dan's odd socks, so I can pair them easily


and to sort my accessories


Very boring, but very useful. Are you a hook lover?

Plumbing update - he did have to cut a hole in the ceiling to fit the new drain thing, but I keep forgetting to notice that, so he must have done a good job of putting everything back. One week on, no drain smell, fingers crossed it continues. 

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Junk In My Trunk

And everywhere else. 

Although I'm quite slim I am exceptionally unfit and a bit flabby. I had been making a few changes to the way I do things after someone I work with basically told me I have a fat bum. I do have a fat bum, in fact I mentioned it recently, but it's not big enough to require the size of dress she held up. So, I am starting very gently, mainly on my exercise bike, but also using the Wii Fit, I like the hula-hooping. I decided to use the Wii today as I'm waiting in for a parcel and didn't want to miss it by being upstairs on the bike when they turned up. 

The batteries on the controller were running low, so I set off to look for some more. I found batteries, I also found some other items that Dan had put away. This is not husband shaming, as I take some responsibility for what I found. I'm well known for being messy and disorganised, Dan likes things to be put away. However, even though it might take me a (long) while, when things are dealt with they are dealt with, I don't tend to stash and dash. Apparently, Dan does, he just wants things to be away


This is what remains of the drawer under the single bed in Dan's dressing room. The runners are buckled and the front has snapped off. I took everything out and decided to deal with it while I waited for both my parcel and for the batteries to charge. 


All that in one drawer!


The batteries and charger, a laptop, three keyboards and other assorted things. We have a box of techno junk under the stairs already. 


My least favourite thing to have hanging around, wrapping paper. We already have a cupboard containing wrapping paper and bubble wrap, this is all bonus content. 


A selection of board games.


Paper, and documents for a suitcase we no longer own. 


Large bags, for all those holidays we don't take. 


Presents for our nieces. 


And some assorted nonsense. 

My parcel isn't here and I still haven't done any exercise. 

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Those Annoying Antisocial People

taking a breather from being nice
We had people staying at the house for the whole weekend, two nights, I did not manage very well. I was found at one point hiding in the pantry with my fingers in my ears to block out the never ending noise. 

at least I had some nice new jars to look at 
We went out for a meal on Sunday. I may have said before that I'm not good in a restaurant situation, I just don't like any kind of formality and so after a while the few social skills I possess flew out of the window, I had to take myself off to stand outside for a while to get through it, I can't do long lingering relaxed meals, and I can't see why anyone would, they are exhausting - I can't be the only person over the moon that street food is so big these days.  

My brother and his girlfriend organise a BBQ once a year at a park near their house, it was mentioned a couple of times this weekend and I changed the subject. We went last year and it was both really boring and very stressful at the same time. I know it's just me as everyone else seemed to be having a great time, it was like Christmas but outside. 

Yesterday and this morning have been spent in silence, just what I needed. 

Monday, 4 June 2018

Off The Wall

the beach, Fleetwood
My parents invited themselves to stay at the weekend, which was surprising but fine, we then found out that they were going to see Alfie Boe in concert so their motives became clear. We gave them a lift to the venue, told them to behave themselves, then went for a walk to kill some time before collecting them. 

We headed off to see the very new sea defence at Rossall, just north of Blackpool, it's far more pretty than a trip to see a wall might sound! The bridges and art work have been designed by Stephen Broadbent, other works include River Of Life in the centre of Warrington which came about after the 1993 bombing in the town. Liverpool Anglican Cathedral has the Sheppard Memorial, there's Tudor Square in Sheffield, and Propellers of the City is a fairly recent addition to the streets of Sunderland. Here, the art continues to tell the story of The Sea Swallow that I've mentioned before herehere and here.





Land-side of the sea wall is a park and grassed area which has been planted with wild flowers and looks gorgeous. 


The paths run on multiple levels, so there's plenty of space for everyone to enjoy the area, whether travelling on foot or by bike. 


This huge (£63 million) project has been worth the wait, it has transformed quite an unexciting stretch of the coast, an most importantly 7000+ homes are better protected from flooding. 

We still had to wait in the car for over an hour as Alfie Boe was enjoying himself too much to stop singing apparently!