Friday, 27 April 2018

Avoiding The Shops - What We Ate

I'm trying to ditch my love affair with food shopping, it's very hard, I find it to be very relaxing, not as relaxing as Ikea, but not bad at all. A couple of times this week I've been the only one eating at home so when I have prepared something I've made enough for me to just heat and eat when I'm on my own. It's been a bit of a hectic and slightly stressful week, so comfort food has been the order of the day. 

At the weekend we ate hash, it was mainly to take with us when we went to Stoke for the football, but I made a vat of it so we enjoyed some after our full day in the garden on Saturday, and plenty on Sunday. 

No meal plan here is complete without noodles.

I found a packet of ready cooked noodles in the pantry, I must have felt very lazy the day I bought them!

This is a nicer-than-it-looks butterbean and vegetable stew with roast potatoes and veg.

The leftover stew was mixed with some pasta and topped with v-pud, just what was needed for a wet and windy evening. 

We're trying to reduce the amount of junk we bring into the house (Dan's on a diet), and the amount of packaging we chuck out so I have made a few treats as I know if I don't have a little something, eventually I'll had a gigantic blow out.

So I made some cherry muffins, there's enough space in the freezer box to store these so they won't sit in the pantry providing too much temptation. I'm going to attempt some baked crisps tonight, cutting the spuds on the spiraliser, can't see why that wouldn't work.

Speaking of lowering waste, I think I saw this tip on a Sustainably Vegan video or somewhere like that - when buying bananas consider buying the single ones! Lots of people are likely to grab a bunch so the single ones might get left behind and go to waste. This works really well for us as Dan likes bananas to be really really ripe whereas I like them a little less so. 

The pantry is fair less full than it once was. Six tins of carlin peas remain. 

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Freebie And Bargain Of The Week

Quite a few things this week. 

My parents came to visit earlier in the week and gave me a plant, they also brought lunch and Easter chocolate! My niece came with a bag of greens for the rabbits too. 

We had a couple of television offers thrown our way too. From my phone provider I was given 3 months free BT Sport access, which is good for the European football finals. At the weekend Now TV contacted us with the offer of free Sky Cinema and children's channels for a month, I don't know if we'll watch them but you never know. 

I missed out on something I wanted at the charity shop this week, I've been after a burger press for ages, I spotted a brand new one when I arrived at the shop on Tuesday, by the time I'd taken my coat off someone had bought it. I did buy two dresses for a couple of quid. I'm still going through my blue phase apparently. 

A nice Monsoon summer dress

and a linen pinafore type dress. I was sceptical about going for linen but I wore it at the football on Saturday and I didn't look like I'd been dragged through a hedge afterwards (even though it looks like it on this picture just after being washed). 

A good week.  

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Small Things Done Well

We collected our artwork from the framer yesterday. Oh my goodness, he is very good at his job, everything looks amazing.

Dan's Great-Grandfather worked as an engineer in the cotton industry and worked around the world, this beautiful painting was presented to him when he worked in Kobe, Japan some time in the 1930's. We just went for a very simple black frame to keep all the attention on the painting. 

This is just a print we bought on a day out in Wales last year, I love the pale grey frame, it looks just as I imagined. 

I am so happy with this print, I didn't know what style of frame I fancied until I saw this zingy yellow aluminium, it was the perfect choice. I also love how it looks as though there's no glass covering it, we went for museum glass as it's going to be in a room with some direct sunlight. Compare it with the reflections on the first picture, amazing. 

This is Dan's birthday present, another woodblock print. Just simple, black again, it will be hung in the same room as the big painting so we wanted something similar.  

Finally, the one that just blew us away. This was a gift from Dan's friend Jay. We went to an event in conversations with designer Craig Oldham last year at the Festival Of Making in Blackburn and he was just so engaging. 

A photograph can't do it justice really, it is soooooooooo black, it's printed with coal dust from the mine his father and grandfather worked, in the flesh it looks gorgeous, or just like a huge black slab - depending on the light. Again we went for a very simple black aluminium frame. 

I could not be happier with how they look and once they're on the wall they'll look even better. If anyone is interested, we used Framing Guru on Redscar in Preston, of course we paid for everything ourselves, I just think it's a quality job worth sharing. 

Sunday, 15 April 2018

In The Clearing

I think I actually squealed with delight this morning when I went out to feed the birds. My garden has already been a bit of a slog, but we are seeing progress. The shade bed I spoke about the other day used to look like this

and that was after we'd done the initial cutting back. Anyway, this morning I was looking at the back border, where the plant jumble used to be 

back in 2014
This morning I saw this

there's only one, but I am so happy as I love these little flowers so much! We're discovering new plants all the time, so many things are popping up at the moment that we haven't seen before, amazing that things have survived being so blocked by the overgrowth. In with the roses and honeysuckle I also saw this that I don't remember seeing before

Is it some kind of mahonia? It has spiky leaves like my other mahonias but the flowers are round rather than long and pointy. I'm happy to see it at any rate. There's so much happening outside at the moment that Dan is even going to get out there today to put up the wires for my honeysuckle. Spring is magical!

Friday, 13 April 2018

April In My Shower

This post may contain the two most boring photographs ever shared. 

We always like to talk about people doing the small things well don't we, learning something, making a corner of the garden look a little bit better, making a cake that pretty much nailed it. I'm celebrating that today.

On the last official day of the bathroom redo the plumbers were packing up when they discovered a chip in the shower tray, this week it was repaired.

The shower magician started the job on Wednesday, then came back yesterday for one last blob of silicone and a buff of the tray. 


We still have no flooring, and the walls aren't painted, although we did buy some paint last week so the end may be in sight. 

Thursday, 12 April 2018

What We Ate - Convenience Week

This week has been all about convenience, if it could be shoved in the oven and left to get on with it, or came from a packet or the freezer then that's the option I took! 

Dan made some wedges and pitta chips, for dipping into plenty of houmous while we watched The City And The City, I read the book last year and loved it. I don't tend to watch tv adaptations, but I made an exception for this.  

I attempted to be healthy by starting the day with porridge, it's not for me, at least not first thing in the morning. Oats with almond drink, frozen berries, banana, loads of coconut and a bit of agave. 

Obligatory noodles, served with some rice burgers. They came from a packet mix sent over from Germany, just add water then form into patties. The flavour was a little like making something with a packet of curry flavour savoury rice. 

We had a small amount of yoghurt to use up, plus lots of frozen berries, so I made some breakfast muffins. Even though I used less sugar they were really a coffee and a muffin type thing rather muffins to get you off to a healthy start. They were delicious, and the texture was perfect. I used the recipe from Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra. I'm not a baker, I like to keep things simple and Isa's recipes never ever fail when I try them.  

A really delicious paprika butterbean stew, topped with some V-Pud. We were supposed to be having the roast asparagus and beetroot with this, but we ate almost all of it while we were waiting. 

This is the second laziest meal of the week (we ate out last night for celebration purposes). Some pasta with half a packet of tomatoey puy lentils stirred through, along with a Goodfella's vegan pizza. The pizza was exactly how you'd imagine a falafel pizza to taste! Nice for a change, especially as it meant less washing up!

Monday, 9 April 2018

Not In The Slightest Bit Vintage

Don't let me turn this into a rant about how difficult it is to find professionals willing to do work at the house, suffice to say the window repairs are not happening any time soon, and we're painting the bathroom ourselves. 

I may have mentioned it before, but Dan did not like the coffee table, over the past few months I'd go as far as to say he's been openly hostile towards it, so I've been hunting for a replacement. Here's the offending article, first mentioned in this post. I find it adorable that back in July 2016 I was so optimistic about the bathroom refit. 

It's just a glass table, nice and big. Turns out the size was part of the issue, one of us is rather untidy and Dan was quite unhappy that it was always covered with books, nail files, sewing stuff and magazines. 

We've seen many, many lovely tables, but even I am not daft enough to spend hundreds of pounds on a nice mid century table that will live in the room where there are two rabbits wandering around with their teeth. A couple of weeks ago Dan dismantled the table to force us into action. Did it nudge the untidy person into putting things away?

It did not. 

So we went to Ikea, a place I find to be exceptionally relaxing, last time we went someone was actually asleep on a sofa, a good advert I thought. 

We are now the owners of a small, leaf shaped table. Ideal. We didn't buy a teapot, any drinking glasses - even though they had flamingo ones, or candles. We did replace the rather chewed grey curtains with some magic eye curtains though.

£120 to cover a 5 metre window, not bad at all. Plus, they're blackout, not an exciting thing, but our living room gets the sun all afternoon so they're much needed.  

So with the rug, curtains and coffee table we are a little Ikea-d up in the living room, but affordable, durable and large it's what works, the vintage treasures can stay upstairs where the only sharp teeth are mine!

Friday, 6 April 2018

A Date With My Fantasy Self

For as long as I can remember I have flirted with the idea of jaunting about the place, shopping at the greengrocer and using local shops for our weekly food shopping. So yesterday that's what I did. 

In the town on the first Thursday of the month we have a small market, my plan was to nip there for some vegetables. When I got there the stall was packed and when I could grab a peek there wasn't all that much I fancied, and some of the produce were things Dan can't eat (turnips etc.). So I picked up my v-pud and thought about what to do as I'd missed the train, and didn't want to hang around for 50 minutes for the next one. So I got the bus.

IT'S SO EXPENSIVE! The train is £2.10 return, a bus ticket was £5. FIVE POUNDS! But in the spirit of being more light and loose I went with it and headed off to Lytham. 

the view from the bus
Lytham was absolutely packed as it was a gorgeous day and I was already starting to suspect my trolley would be a hindrance. I nipped to the cookware shop and picked up the first thing on my list, a veg steamer. Then to the pet shop for some toys for the buns, where I had a chat with the owners about my dog trolley, and how much we love whippets. Then to the greengrocer, it was soooooooooooo busy and the trolley was very much in the way, not helped by the fact I had forgotten about the school holidays so lots of very small children were having a great time selecting their own orange. I ended up buying kale, beetroot, and asparagus. Dan really likes asparagus, I don't know why I bought the kale as I can't stand it, so only the beetroot was really a success. 

Hot and flustered I went to the prom for a sip of coconut water and a bit of a sit. 

I think I was drooping to one side by this point
There were lots of people around, but it was wonderful to get a bit of peace. I had just enough time to find some daffodils before jumping back onto the bus, which was one of the new, very fancy ones. 

When I got home I stared at my shopping and thought... hmmm chips for tea and I'll worry about what to make with that lot later.  At least the daffodils played ball, displaying their beautiful orange centres when they opened up this morning, just the thing. 

So on my date with my fantasy self I learned a lot, being out and about is good, as are supermarkets. As if more proof were needed, I'm just not the jaunty* type. 

* although I was described as "quirky" by a customer this week. 

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

What We Ate - Easter Weekend

To make sure we didn't eat too much junk over the weekend I started making a few things on Thursday evening, we had a day of relaxation planned for Friday.

First I roasted some vegetables for soup and salad

then had a houmous sandwich or three

In the evening I made some tofu scramble and fried rice

The sauce was really simple, just some soy sauce, agave and sriracha

Friday was treat-filled. Dan made pitta

we had a delicious brunch

Butterbean and squash pasties at the football

There were plenty of leftovers to enjoy on Sunday. A half eaten bowl of leftover quinoa and lentil salad heated up with the remaining pasty filling, smoky and delicious. 

We rounded the long weekend off on Monday with a very welcome nut roast. 

It feels like we've done nothing but cook and wash up!