Wednesday, 28 January 2015

The Kindness of Folk

Good morning everyone.  Well, I didn't sleep well again last night and the day has dawned dark, dank, wet and miserable but I do feel marginally better.  I was overwhelmed with all the replies I had to my last post, offering both sympathy and a wealth of tried and trusted remedies, some of which I have tried with a measure of success.  I hope the bugs have now decided I am no longer any fun and will booger off elsewhere!  On Monday I had to venture out to get some bread and spoke to one of my neighbours who had also been ill herself.  Yesterday she called round with this....

At the time I spoke to her I was not wearing a scarf and she commented on the fact, so she brought me this one which she had crocheted herself. Isn't it lovely? It's very warm too, bless her.  I will be cat sitting for her next month for 4 weeks so can repay her in that way.

People can be so kind and thoughtful.

I'm afraid my ironing has suffered with me feeling so rough and it is now a veritable mountain :/  That is my task for today, I think.  I just wish I could be like a colleague whom I worked with a few years ago, who never ironed anything !   I just can't do it...I like crisp and clean not wrinkled.

The only things I don't iron are towels, undies and socks. How about you? Do you iron everything? Or do you just fold and smooth?  Do tell!

Thanks so much for popping in x

Monday, 26 January 2015

On Feeling Rough

I seem to have been fighting off bugs since just after Christmas when Dear Daughter & the Grandchildren very kindly off loaded some on to me :/   Just as I feel the lurgy is beginning to lift I get up next morning and feel worse!  Now I have developed a tickly cough which is embarrassing , to say the least, when in company.  The feeling starts like a feather in the throat  and off I go, coughing and coughing until the tears run down my cheeks and my nose runs.  I seemed to do nothing but cough during the night, despite taking some cough supressing medicine before I went to bed, consequently I feel worse than ever this morning.  I'm still in my PJ's as I type this ( currently 9.53am) What a state to be in....oh, and I haven't mentioned the fact that I need to cross my legs as I cough!!

Is anyone else out there suffering?  Winter bugs are a nightmare, aren't they.  Any tips to help stop this awful cough will be much appreciated....please?

Thanks for visiting.  At least, my keyboard friends, I cannot pass this bug on to you! x

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Challenge Food Plan

Yesterday, I posted my shopping list for the Feed 2 People for a Week on £20 challenge.

I have to point out that I am posting a food plan for the virtual challenge.  As it would need OH to actually agree to do it in reality, and he will not, then it must be virtual one.  Firstly, I have to point out that I am not saying the plan is nutritionally correct and it's certainly not to everyone's taste.  There is a lot of carbohydrate and a minimal amount of meat, but they are the kind of meals we do eat especially in winter.  We need the carbs to keep warm :)

To start I would freeze the thick sliced loaf and take out slices as needed for toasting.  The medium one would go further for sandwiches. Freeze the sausages and take out as needed allowing time to thaw.

Day 1)
Cereal & milk
Poached egg on thick toast
Sausages (oven roast), roast potatoes, broccoli, carrots, gravy

Day 2)
Hot buttered thick toast
HM vegetable soup (onion, carrot, potato, cabbage) with bread
Jacket potato with grated cheese & grated carrot

Day 3)
Cereal & milk
Ham sandwiches with lettuce and tomato (share one)
HM cheese & potato pie, baked beans

Day 4)
Cereal & milk
HM veg soup (as above) with bread
HM Bubble & Squeak with bacon (2 rashers each)

Day 5)
Cereal & milk
Cheese salad with lettuce, grated carrot, tomato (share one)
Egg, chips, 1/2 tin baked beans (shared)

Day 6) Assumed to be Saturday
Cereal & milk
All Day Breakfast:
1 sausage, 1 bacon rasher, 1 egg, half a grilled tomato, 1/4 tin beans each plus a slice of toast
Cheese on toast

Day 7) Assumed to be Sunday
Cereal & milk
Sausages (grilled) mashed potato, cabbage, carrots & gravy
Toasted cheese & tomato sandwiches


If there is flour in the cupboard, then I would save an egg from Day 6 (scramble one to share) and use half the tin of pineapple to make an upside down sponge with it.  This will make 6 portions either to have with the custard or to eat as cake.  If no flour available, then I would make 4 small servings of pineapple and custard to eat on 2 separate days.


Snacks would have to be toast or cereal (there should be a little left for this) and a cup of tea/coffee


For just one week only I think we would manage, after all I have done it in the past but we would really struggle if £20 was all we had week after week.  There is no way I can get 5 portions of fruit/veg in this plan.  We seem to have just 2 so this plan is NOT nutritionally sound.

If we had to do a second week I would buy:

1) Rice instead of potatoes

2) Chicken (whole) which would provide around 6 portions instead of sausage & bacon

3) Make a larger quantity of soup for 3 days worth

4) Definitely buy whatever fruit I could get for my budget even if it is just one or two bananas

Thanks for popping in and please do comment.  Feedback (good or bad!) will be very interesting :) x

Friday, 23 January 2015

Feed 2 People For A Week On £20 Challenge

Simple Suffolk Smallholder has thrown out a virtual challenge of feeding 2 people for a week on just £20.  I wanted to have a go at this but I have found it incredibly difficult.  I usually spend around £30 for the two of us plus £10 for non-food items like washing powder, toilet roll, washing up liquid etc so to cut my food budget by a third has thrown me completely. There is no Aldi or Lidl that I can use so Morrisons is my choice of supermarket.  I made a shopping list as follows:


Cathedral City Cheddar 350g (on offer)   £ 2.00
Back bacon (pack of 10 slices)                    1.89
Richmond thick sausage (pack of 12-offer) 1.75
100g pack sliced cooked ham (4 slices)       1.00
6 Savers eggs                                                  .89
2 Tins Savers Baked Beans                            .48

Fruit & Veg

12.5kg sack potatoes (on offer)                   2.00
1kg bag onions                                              .69
1.2kg bag carrots                                           .69
Head of Broccoli                                           .49
Savoy Cabbage                                             .69
Pack of 4 Tomatoes                                      .59
Iceberg lettuce                                              .49
Tin Savers Pineapple pieces                        .27

750g Morrisons Fruit 'n' Fibre cereal         1.69
2 x 4 pints milk (any kind)                         1.78
2 x Savers Loaves (1 medium sliced,
                        1 thick)                               1.18
Pack English butter                                    1.00
Savers custard powder sachet                      .15

                              Total Cost               £ 19.72

This leaves just 28p which would buy either one medium loose banana (2 small if you are lucky)  If you are able to save any pennies at all on this list (and I can't really see where unless you buy reduced near-use-by-date bread for toasting) then I would spend it on extra bananas.

This list is desperately missing fruit but it should, at least, allow for some portions of your 5 a day. Where it falters is in buying things on offer so that it would collapse completely if the prices shift back up.  I make no apology for spending 10% of the budget on potatoes because, in my view, they offer great value and are great fillers of hungry tummies especially if one of the two people we are feeding is male ( my teenage son used to eat for England despite being very slim). 

I assume the store cupboard already holds:

Gravy powder
Oil (any kind)

Tomorrow  I will post my food plan for the week. 

Thanks so much for popping in x

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

On Yellow Stickers and Crafting

Firstly, a big welcome to my new follower, Marlene Jones, thanks for clicking :)

Well, I promised to show you my bargain YS'd items.  As I was shopping on Monday I spotted these by the self serve salad counter....

A big 1kg bag of moist grated carrot and 400g of chopped green peppers.  I couldn't believe the price of 19p each and the use-by date was 2 days away.  I didn't want to be greedy so I just had one of each.  There were also bags of chopped white cabbage but I could only think 'coleslaw' which OH refuses to eat so I left those alone.  Anyway I have put the peppers straight into the freezer and will use them to add to quiches, omelettes and frittata.  Yesterday, I weighed 2 ordinary carrots which came in at just under 200g to give me an idea of the quantity of the grated stuff to use.  200g of it along with 85g rinsed red lentils, an onion, 1litre of veg stock (using 1 good quality stock cube plus salt & pepper) were simmered together for 15 minutes or so. The resulting soup will give us around 6 portions some of which will be frozen for later.  The rest of the carrot has been split into 4 freezer bags (200g in each one) and frozen.  I am thinking veg soup, carrot cake etc. 

Does anyone have any more suggestions how I can use it please?  And what would you have done with the bag of chopped white cabbage? Careful now...  :)


Marlene, from Simple Living has expressed an interest in seeing more of my craft projects so I thought I might share what I did yesterday, some simple but effective new baby cards....

....and a wedding congratulations card.  I'm afraid the light has distorted the colour on this one but the card blank and the embossed layer are both bright white and the heart is a peachy lemon colour.  All are easy to make once you have the layout clear in your head.....

If you have any questions, then please do ask.  I am always happy to share ideas.

Thanks everso for popping in x

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Inspired Shepherds Pie & Dodgy Maths

Quite inspired by John  at Of Brambles and Bears blog, I fancied making veggie shepherds pie last night using Quorn mince.  I had all the ingredients in stock.....

It was so easy as the packet mix added flavour.  I just chopped up the onion, sautéed it (that's posh for frying) in a small amount of olive oil, added the chopped up carrot (tiny pieces to cook quicker), mince, packet mix and 300ml water. I had some out of date (only by a couple of months!) chilli tomato puree so added a squirt of that too.  It was simmered for a few minutes to make sure it was hot and popped in a dish with lovely soft mashed potato on top.  After just 30 minutes in the oven at 190  it came out lovely....

Especially with a few microwaved peas and some instant gravy......(the latter added after the picci, of course) This was my portion so slightly less than 1/4 of the recipe...

I have tried to cost it out:
300g Quorn mince (3 bags for £5)   1.67
Shepherd's pie mix (Morrisons)         .29
1 Carrot (12 in a bag 60p)                  .05
2 small onions (12 for 50p)               .09
dribble of oil (guesstimate)                .02
700g potatoes (from big sack)           .24
splash of milk to mash..negligible
Total without peas & gravy           £2.36
This made 4 portions and it could be bulked out easily with extra veggies to feed a family.  As there are only two of us, the other 2 portions have been frozen for an easy meal another time.
I do wish you could have seen us trying to work out the cost of the potatoes though.  I can't do metric.  A 12.5kg bag cost us £4 (£2 at the moment in Morrisons) so I hope we came up with the correct cost. What a pair of numptys.  Who would guess that I have an 'O' level in maths?  Sorry, Miss Morrell, you didn't teach me in metric.
I picked up some bargainous yellow stickered stuff yesterday too but, so as not to bore you with too much food blogging, I'll write about that tomorrow :)
At the moment the sun is shining, melting away the ground frost, the air smells fresh and clean, here is a lovely place to be.  That is my Small Treasure for today.
Hope your day is wonderful.
Lovely to *see * you x 

Monday, 19 January 2015

Teenage Mutant Parsnips & Enlightenment

A big welcome to my new follower John :)
Yesterday was cold but bright and sunny so I decided to enlist OH's help in prising the last of the home grown parsnips from their warm and cosy tub of compost.  I had almost forgotten about them but...waste not, want not, is my mantra....out they came.  Wow! some of them had got so bored with waiting to be pulled up that they have grown legs!  Now how that happened is a mystery.  They are in smooth compost, not garden soil so there can be no stones to navigate around.  Wanting to escape can be the only explanation :)  It's the first effort at growing parsnips but I have been very pleased with the results.  It will soon be time to decide what to grow this year.  We only have room for one tub of something and a potato bag so I must get my thinking cap on.  Any suggestions very welcome for easy to grow stuff which can be harvested over a number of weeks.  What can you gardening folks suggest please?
 A friend has emailed some photos of the most amazing sculptures from around the world.  This one is my favourite....
It's called Expansion by Paige Bradley, New York, USA.  I think it is absolutely stunning and would rather call it......Enlightenment... totally beautiful, absolutely amazing. What a talent.
Another one is this...

De Vaartkapoen, Brussels, Belgium.  It kind of reminds me of the way life can trip you up when you least expect it.....

Have a lovely day, folks, and do stay warm.

Thanks for popping in x

Friday, 16 January 2015

Draw Winner & The Reason I Don't Eat Meat

As I only had two people interested in receiving my Meet The Ancestors book I decided to just toss a coin to decide the winner.

Heads: Cornish Chickpea
Tails: Pam

To make it fair OH did the flipping of the coin so well done CORNISH CHICKPEA. 


Please pm me with your address and I'll post it off to you.

Reading other blogs with all the lovely winter meaty recipes got me thinking about why exactly I don't eat meat.  I can't call myself vegetarian because I do eat a little fish and I used to eat meat when I was a child but even then I ate just a small amount;  the first crispy slice from a beef joint, a slice of chicken breast, a pork sandwich, a crispy bacon butty.  When the children were small and we had very little money I ate even less.  I would buy some for the family and just have a plate of veggies for myself quickly realising that I didn't miss meat at all. I also think that if you kill a living thing to eat it you shouldn't waste any of it.  My Dad used to say that the only bit of a pig which wasn't used was it's grunt which, in my view, is as it should be.  I simply can't face some cuts of meat or offal so it's only fair that I don't expect an animal to give up it's life for me.  Handbags & purses I buy are never made from leather as there is no need. The alternatives are perfectly acceptable.  However, I do wear leather shoes as I believe the leather comes as a by product of the food industry anyway and unsupportive footwear give me pain in my feet.  Hypocrytical? Perhaps.... I refuse to condemn anyone for being a carnivore but, equally, I expect people to allow me my own viewpoint. My family understand and make allowances for me but I do find problems with some pubs or restaurants who don't cater with veggie gravy, for example.

How about you? Any more veggies out there? Does anyone else encounter a problem with eating out either in a restaurant or someone else's home?

Thanks, as usual, for popping in to see me x

Thursday, 15 January 2015

A Power Failure and a Bargain Purchase

Last night turned very wet and windy indeed and we were just winding down before sleep when we were plunged into darkness...a power cut.  Oh crikey, it was pitch black inside and out.  Poor OH had to get dressed and go out in the pouring rain to check how much of the locality was in darkness in case it was just us.  The power cut was widespread so all we could do was to search out torches and candles (thank you, Marlene, for the lovely tealight in a holder you sent in the gift swap!) and await the return of power.  I rang the electricity supply company and they already knew there was a problem and were dealing with it.  Nothing else to be done.  The difficulty was in trying to remember what had been switched on before the cut...TV, router, table lamps etc   We went to bed by torchlight and it was quite cosy reading as best we could for a while.  This morning I was amazed to receive a courtesy call from the supply company apologising for the power cut and asking if everything was now ok, wow!, that was the first time in all our married life that someone had called us back after a cut.  Hats off to Western Power Distribution!

On our trip into town yesterday I saw this lovely coat.  I had had my eye on it for a while but at £90 it was out of the question....

Yesterday I was amazed to see it on the reduced rail at £27  :)

I had just returned a faulty item to another shop and got my £10 back so it would only effectively cost me £17.  Now I know I am de-cluttering but it was, as they say, a no-brainer....I now have a new Spring coat :)

Thanks everso for popping in.  I think I might have a new follower whom I have missed greeting.  If so please forgive me and make yourself known, my lovely x

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Why I Could Murder My Husband....

Hello, welcome to my new followers thrift deluxe and Jan :)

Well, today started off white over with snow so we had a lazy morning then decided to go into town for some exercise and a bit of fresh air once the sun broke through.  It was still bitterly cold but very pleasant walking in the sun.  Everyone we met seemed to be smiling which was very uplifting.  When we got home OH laughingly asked me what I had done to my jumper...

OMG! I had been wearing it inside out all day and, to make matters worse, I had removed my coat when we went into a pub in town for a warming mug of coffee.  This must have been in full view of anyone sitting behind me ://

 Now my clothes come in all sizes from a twelve to a sixteen depending where I buy them from.  Guess which one I was wearing today?  No prizes for guessing it was the biggest.  He might have noticed what I had done, the swine....

I will get my revenge somehow...mwah...ha...ha ;)

What was your most embarrassing moment my lovelies?  Please tell me I am not the only numpty ......

As usual, thanks for popping in and reading my nonsense x

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Hot Soup & A Giveaway

Hello and welcome to my new follower, Kelly.

Whilst doing my shopping yesterday I noticed that Morrisons have once again reduced the price of their 12.5kg bags of potatoes to £2.  This time they are Sylvana but I actually bought a bag at full price last week as I had run out and they make brilliant mash.  This photo is of my last but one bag purchased.  The full price is now £4 so even more of a bargain....

As the weather has turned cold and windy my thoughts immediately turned to soup.  I can't make anything too complicated so I just sautéed 4 small bendy leeks in a drop of olive oil....

Added 2 medium sized chopped up potatoes ..... (although I'm never too fussy about the weight ratio of the veg)

Then one litre of  hot veg stock made from two value cubes plus a good grind of black pepper.  I simmered for 15 minutes and voila...good hot soup for lunch.  It can be blended with a stick blender to make it smoother but OH likes it chunky.  You can also add a drop of milk or cream to make it richer (and creamier looking) but I don't bother adding extra calories, my waistline can't take it ;)  It made about 6 servings so I put about a third of it in the freezer for another day and we still had enough for lunch for the two of us two days running. A chunk of crusty bread made sure OH was full up.


I mentioned in my last post that this is the year of clearing out and that I have already taken two bags of books to the CS, well I have re-discovered this lovely book.  It was based on a TV programme which I was following some years ago and is fascinating to read if you enjoy archaeology and the like.  It originally cost £17.99 and is still in fab condition.  I wondered if someone on here would like it?  I'm afraid that it's quite heavy so I can only post it within the UK (second class post).


If you fancy it please just tell me in a post and I'll put the names in a hat and draw one out at 9am on Friday 16th Jan  If nobody likes it, it will go to the CS in the next batch of books.

I am conscious that I do have visitors from overseas who miss out on various blog giveaways due to the high cost of postage so I will endeavour to find something small and light to offer at a later date so that they too can enter the draw.  Keep watching this space :)

Thanks so much for popping in, I do appreciate not talking to myself..... x

Sunday, 11 January 2015

A Birthday and a Sort Out

Friday was OH's birthday.  He is now 65 years old too and, yes, I did marry a toyboy, all of 9 weeks younger than me ;)  He started the day opening his cards and presents from our DD and friends.  He had a lovely new sweater from DD and gift vouchers from my brother and some friends.  Another dear friend and my Sister both sent him scratchcards, they weren't winners but gave us both a frisson of excitement as he scratched the coating (must get out  Then we went out for a lovely carvery lunch at our favourite place.  I drove so that OH could have a birthday drink but it was lovely :)  He has now declared that this is our year of minimalism.  Regular tidying up, getting rid of stuff we don't need or never use (I'm still not sure that this includes his shed...I will keep you updated with that little problem...) but he threw out his holey socks declaring that he is too old to wear socks with holes...good grief...that is a first!

So, yesterday I cleared a couple of cupboards out and took two big bags of books to the charity shop along with bits of pottery and china which have been sitting in the cupboard for 5 years, unused since we moved here.  There was so much that it took two trips to and from the car as they were too heavy for me to carry all at once.  I sorted my music CDs too and have a package ready for Music Magpie to collect tomorrow.  They will, hopefully, give me a little cash for them.  When I did the reverse Advent I struggled to find things to give away towards the end so it shows I am being more ruthless when pushed.

Starting tomorrow I will sort out clothes and recycle or donate as appropriate. Watch this space....

Who else is clearing out this year? Minimizing?  And don't you feel better for it?

Thanks so much for popping in x

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Juggle It January, Car Booting & Stretching Finances

As it's a fresh new year I intend to go through my cupboards methodically getting rid of any stuff we no longer need or want.  I thought I was pretty organised but looking at other blogs I realise that I have a lot to learn :)  Quite early on in 2014 I decided to stop buying 'bargain' toiletries and to use up what I have. OH buys his own although he usually gets enough for Christmas and birthday to last the whole year anyway! We are into a new year and I still have bits to use up. 
These two have been used, squished and rinsed out until there is nothing left....

These are all that are left.... and there are only tiny bits left in most of them....but I intend to make them stretch for as long as possible.  I do like to alternate shampoos but don't really mind if the conditioner doesn't match.  Let's see how long I can go before I have to buy more....

Strangely enough I was given absolutely no toiletries for Christmas so I must smell ok :)  But what I did have was these...

These were the wonderful gifts in my gift swap with Marlene from Simple Living.   The kitchen notepad is already in use.  It's hanging in my kitchen with my menu plan on and an on-going shopping list on the second page.  I can only plan one week ahead as I'm not organised enough to do a monthly one and I like to use up stuff from the freezer as we go. I shop on Mondays so the menu plan covers Monday - Sunday then I can tear it off to reveal my shopping list for the following week...Simples!

Thank you so much, Marlene, the lovely charms and buttons etc will be used in my crafting.

The title Juggle It January refers to juggling finances to enable us to save a tiny bit each month as a safety net in the event of one of us being left alone (as mentioned in my last post)  I have discovered that I would need an additional £2,000 per annum to enable me to stay where we live now (and we do live in a modest home with a modest income) and that would leave no money for general spending let alone a holiday or repairs to the car or home.  I'm not going to let it worry me but I am going to put aside some cash if at all possible.  eBay-ing and car booting could well be on the plan for this year! That will help with clearing some more space too.  OH has boxes and boxes of tools in the shed but he can't bear to part with them.  Each time I suggest sorting them out his reaction is " step away from the shed...step away..."  lol...He hasn't used them in almost 10 years so why would he now?

Is anyone else planning a clear out soon?  Any suggestions how to get OH to sell his tools? In theory he is open to selling them but can't bring himself to even look at them at the moment. ....
Give me strength.....

Thanks so much for popping in  and have a lovely Sunday (frosty and foggy here ....) x

Friday, 2 January 2015

New Year, New Budget, and A Shock

First of all a big welcome to my new follower, Tatiana,  thanks so much for clicking :)

The decorations are down and packed away. I always like to start the new year with a nice clean and tidy house so, despite having come down with the dreaded lurgy (cough, sore throat, aching limbs etc) I packed them away, dusted, polished, vacuumed and then collapsed in my comfy chair to watch a bit of TV whilst drinking my lemsip :(  

Pam, from My New Life in Wales, has explained that some bloggers have chosen a word of the year but she has chosen the phrase 'Have Some More Fun'.  Having more fun should be on everyone's agenda as we never know what life will throw our way.  Over the Christmas period hubby and I got talking about the 2015 household budget and how we could trim it still further as lots of things seem to be going up in price including the phone rental, broadband and insurance.  Having time on our hands we shopped around and arranged the insurance with a new (well known) company which saved us £70! Not a sum to be sniffed at. Thus inspired I have done a projected spend and we can see at a glance how much we are likely to spend during the year and if a particular item has increased enough to tip us over budget.

I then got thinking about what would happen if one of us popped our clogs ( morbid I know....) so I made another list and to our horror realised that hubby could just about manage to keep going financially but even with halving the food budget and taking the Council Tax reduction into account I could not.  Outgoings would outstrip my income because hubby's pension would obviously die with him.  There would be no money left for food let alone fripperies.  We have decided that we must try to increase our savings a bit so we both have a safety net if the worst should happen.  Then last night my best friend phoned to tell me that a female mutual friend had died on Boxing Day leaving her husband distraught and now not having enough income to pay the rent.  She would have been 66 years old on new year's eve.......

Thanks so much for popping in x

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Looking Forward...Not Back....and Inspirations

Happy New Year!

2015 has arrived in a shower of sparks and celebration all over the world.  Can it already be 15 years into the new Millennium? You know the one...when we were told that computers would crash and the world would be in chaos.  In many ways it is in chaos but not because of computers.  As usual, it is humans themselves who are causing chaos with greed, intolerance, and war surfacing all over the world.  At the end of every year people tend to look back and see what they have achieved. TV producers go over old news and produce review programmes.  This year I will not look back but forward.  I have bought a new Inspirations calendar and every day I will look for my own Small Treasure with renewed vigour.
The quote for January is:
Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.
Henry David Thoreau
I might not be able to change the world alone but I will certainly do my best to make my personal bit of the world a nicer place to be, for others as well as myself.  I don't make new year resolutions because I can never keep them.  This is more a new way of looking at things, a new 'mind set', if you like.  Please come along with me because I love the company :)
 Do you make resolutions? Do you keep them?  Any great plans for this year?  Do tell....

Whatever your plans for the new year may health and happiness be with you and your families in all you do.
Welcome to my new follower, Joy, it's lovely to have you join me :)
And thanks everso for popping in x

Just when I thought it was safe to surface....

Just when I thought it was safe to put my head above the parapet and drag myself from the dark pit of anxiety, Covid has taken a pop.  Both ...