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Sunday, 31 July 2016

On Cooking and a Budget Review

Somehow the food budget has been very tight this last month, there has been very little left at the end of a week and yesterday I was loathe to dip into cash from elsewhere to tide us over the final weekend of July.  A rummage in the fridge bottom produced these, a nip over to the BBC Eat Well For Less website gave me an idea how to use them up......



Just add these ( 2 cloves of garlic, 1 stock cube)....


which produced a very tasty and filling vegetable stew.....


I didn't have any cauliflower or green beans so I added a handful of frozen broad beans for extra colour. It made 4 generous portions served with some chunky bread, I had one, OH went back for seconds as he came home from work ravenous (incidentally with yet another insect bite , this time on his arm) and I put the last portion into a sealed soup cup for him to take to work for his lunch today. The flavour was slightly sweet due to the sugar in the sauce from the value baked beans, I think, so next time I might not pour the whole lot in but drain some sauce off first.  A bit of salt helped to take the sweetness down a bit.  Has anyone else tried this recipe from last week's prog?  What do you think of it?

We had also run out of cake but I found 3 (very ancient :/ ) pears in the fridge bottom too so made a kind of upside down pear sponge using low fat spread instead of butter.....


It tasted lovely warm from the oven with a bit of ice cream :)


The last bit of butter was used to make a fruit cake to last us over next week, I would have preferred it a bit deeper but I only have one tin so it had to do, it just took a bit less time to cook than it would have otherwise....



Budget review

'You can do it'  have changed their pay structure since the new minimum wage was introduced and OH has found he has around £50 per month less in his pay packet. As he is also giving up his post as park warden, meaning that we will have to find somewhere to 'holiday' for a month per year, we will need to find the cost of that month from somewhere, preferably not from savings as his job is not secure with 'You can do it' either.  Therefore I need to keep strictly within the £50 per week max for food, toiletries, cleaning stuff, washing powder etc yet still keep a bit back out of that for Christmas (sorry...the dreaded C word for some :/ )   I intend to keep track of spending in the food/non food categories to see where I can make the best savings.

Watch this space!

Have a lovely day everyone, wherever you are x

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Kindness & 'Do More Good' Update

Some people are so very kind. A neighbour, whom I don't really know at all, heard that I make cards for charity and decided to pop this box into my porch.....


It is full to the brim with A4 sheets of good quality card suitable for my greeting card crafting!

 

 I am so grateful to A for thinking of me when she had a clear out.  It will keep my charity donations going for some considerable time, saving me money and enabling me to make even more items to sell at the Hospice shop.   We are hoping to have a party/fundraiser here too within the next couple of weeks so I am very busy making lots of items to sell on the day.
 
My phrase for this year is:           Do More Good
 
I started to make a list this morning of what has been donated to various charities up to now and so far:
 
  • A flat full of furniture to British Heart Foundation
  • Several bags of good quality clothing to the Hospice shop
  • 4 bags of 'rags', clean bedlinen etc to charity (which they can sell to raise funds)
  • £153 cash raised in memory of my dear FiL donated to H4H (he would have approved of that)
  • Lots of tiny knitted items donated to the Hospice Sale Table and another bag full ready to take
  • eBay for charity donations £1.15 to H4H
Just looking at the last entry is embarrassing :/   I will be concentrating on increasing the total by the end of the year.  It would be lovely to know how much money will be raised from the sale of the furniture too but I can't Gift Aid as my income is below the tax limit, so I'll never know.
 
It was still so very hot yesterday and I wasn't really hungry.  A rummage in the freezer found about half a sheet of puff pastry so I thawed it out, topped it with tomato puree, sliced spanish onion, sliced tomato and some grated cheese I had left over from another meal.  It was popped in a hot oven for just over 20 minutes.....
 

Ta dah! Not particularly healthy, but very tasty and half was just enough for lunch with a cup of coffee.  I ate the other half cold today as OH is at work.  Nothing wasted....



Has anyone else found anything strange about Blogger lately?  I used to be able to click on the little photos at the top to catch up with reading other blogs but it will no longer work.  The links just aren't there. And I have had more page views from Russia than anywhere else in the world!  Surely my waffle translates into boring prose for a Russian reader....

Ah well, thanks everso for popping in.  Have a lovely day wherever you are x

PS Yippee we have a bit of drizzle at last!!

Thursday, 21 July 2016

School's out for Summer!



Today was my GD's last day at school before she moves to her new senior school.  I was invited to the school's farewell presentation as well as the church service afterwards and I was ok until they showed a film sequence of groups of children with their infant photo's superimposed below their current photo. When her's came up it was of GD standing on my lap aged about 9 or 10 months and beaming her lovely smile at the camera.  My eyes filled with tears and I joined the sobbing crowd of mums.  Actually they were tears of happiness at the lovely girl she has become and tears of hope that the world she is venturing out into will be safe and peaceful.  I pray it will be so....

God bless you all, wherever you may be x

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

We're Having a Heatwave!

Hello to The 3-year Challenge, my new follower, you are very welcome :)
 

I have to ask, am I still in the England?  This strange yellow object appeared in the sky yesterday and I am melting!  As a child, I remember Summers creeping up with ever increasing warmth and length of day, but now it seems to hit us like a sledgehammer. I am always unprepared :/  Even this morning at 8.30am it was too hot to open the kitchen blinds on the south side of the bungalow so they remain shut whilst I do the ironing with a fan at my feet.  Windows on the other, North and East, sides are wide open and will remain so until the sun moves around.  I never quite know what to eat when the weather is so hot either as we are not hungry.   Salad was the order of the day yesterday and it was such bliss washing the leaves and tomatoes in cold water...simple pleasures :D  But what to eat today....I have no idea.....

OH is out cutting hedges on the park and he has been plastered with sunscreen and sprayed liberally with insect repellant.  His eye, thankfully, is back to normal and we certainly don't want a repeat of the other Sunday.

Ice cubes (lots of ice cubes) are being frozen as we speak as they go into every glass of water we drink.  I keep telling myself to be grateful for the arrival of Summer at last.  It never lasts that long anyway, now does it.  I find sleeping difficult when I'm hot and sticky although a cool shower helped a little last night.

How do you cope with the heat?  Do you love or loathe it?

Have a lovely day wherever you happen to be x

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

A Mozzie and a 55p Chicken

First of all a big welcome to my new follower Anne :)

My OH works weekends at the local 'You Can Do It' store.  Well, on Sunday he spent most of the day outside in the gardening department, busy selling and watering the plants, but when he came home in the afternoon this is the sight that met me when I let him in....aaarrrgghh!! The poor chap had been bitten on the eyelid by a mozzie.  He is not shutting his eye deliberately, he is totally unable to open it....

 
He is now on antihistamine and antibiotics and the swelling is slowly subsiding but it still looks as if he has been in a fight.
 
 
Anyway, yesterday I did the shopping in Mr M's as usual and was looking for some cooked chicken to make hubby a lunchtime sandwich.  Hubby discovered this at the hot food counter but how he spotted it with one eye is a mystery!


                                       


Even I had to do double-take when I looked at the price. Wow!  55p is amazing when the original price was £5!!  British chicken to boot. We never usually get such bargains as we shop on Monday mornings most weeks.  Poor hubby ate well deserved lovely chicken sandwiches for lunch and the rest of the meat has been taken off the bone and put aside for other meals:  chicken, veg and gravy tonight and curry tomorrow, I think. 


Have a lovely day everyone, whatever you have planned x

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Affordable Housing? Or Not?

What makes 'Affordable Housing' affordable?  I asked myself this question a couple of weeks ago so I'll start at the beginning....


As you probably know by now, we live in a park home on a site where OH is voluntary warden.  This means that we have to stay on site here during the month of closure when maintenance is carried out and to help keep the site secure.  OH is giving up this voluntary post at the end of July as his arthritis is getting worse and his spondelitis makes his back very stiff and painful and hedge cutting and sewer rodding (yes, really!) is very hard on the back.  This means that we will have to leave our home for a month each Winter.  It's not at problem at the moment as we will tootle off in our lovely warm and cosy caravan but in years to come it might be, as there is no way I will tow the 'van if OH cannot :(
Anyway, our local authority is building some lovely apartments for over 55's a few miles away, invitingly described as 'Affordable Housing' to rent  so we went to see them.  The show apartment is lovely, reasonably spacious with a wet room and 24 hour security.  At the time, the rent had not been decided so we put our names on the list and waited.  Well now it has been decided....and it's £228 per week.  This includes heating but not Council Tax, telephone, broadband etc putting it beyond our reach as we would be dipping into our savings on a monthly basis to make ends meet, so they certainly wouldn't last very long.

borrowed from Google
 

This made me wonder if perhaps only the people receiving benefits can afford one as Housing Benefit might 'mop up' the extra?  As benefits come out of Council funds anyway, why not lower the rent as it will make no difference to the people who are receiving them and might allow someone in our situation to apply IYSWIM ?  Sorry if this sounds like gobbledegook, I'm not explaining myself very well but, to us, £228 per week is not affordable.  Am I being a tad simplistic? What do you think?

 It looks like it's back to the drawing board for us anyway and we have a few years yet to decide where our 'forever home' will be.

Enjoy your day, everyone, do be kind to each other x

Saturday, 2 July 2016

An Artisan and a Bargain Buy

When we went to Durham a couple of weeks ago we visited Durham University's Botanic Garden.  In one of the hothouses we found crafting demonstrations taking place and got talking to a lovely couple called Les and Viv Howe.  If you live in or around Durham you probably know of them as Les has been in the local press a few times.  He is a very talented artisan jewellery maker and Silversmith and has crafted gold and silver jewellery items for Her Majesty The Queen as well as the Bishop of Durham.  Fascinating to talk to, you can tell he takes his craft very seriously and I could have listened to him for hours.  OH was a patternmaker until made redundant at the age of 56 so they found they had a lot in common!  Les's wife Viv is an artist and papercrafter and she too was giving demo's as well as offering a workshop.  I didn't have my camera with me so I can't post photographs but I have Les's permission to give a list of the dates they will be at the Botanic Garden during 2016.  If you manage to see him please tell him that 'The Black Country Patternmaker' and his wife sent you!


If you click on the list it should expand for easier reading.....

Garden Bounty

As stormy weather has been forecast, I decided to dig up the remaining potatoes from my tub before they get drowned and hard to get out.  They have been weighed each time I pulled some for tea so I know that there has been a total of 2.4kg which is not a great deal but they are decidedly tasty.  Now what to put into the tub in their place?



The strawberry plants are doing amazingly well and I can pick enough each day to have as dessert with ice cream or to slice up on our cereal in a morning.  So far I am managing to beat the slugs to them!

A Bargain

When I popped into Debenhams in town I spotted this lovely little dress which was reduced from £11 to £8.80.  I had a £5 loyalty voucher so it cost me just £3.80.  It is currently winging it's way to my little GD in Australia.  I do love a bargain, don't you ? :)

   
                                    


Have a wonderful day, whatever you have planned and do be kind to each other x