Saturday, 28 March 2015

Earth Hour, A Thank You & Feeling My Age

Thank you to everyone who commented on my SAHM post.  The comments about food and so on brought back many memories for me as well as my bloggie friends, some good, some not so good!  It seems that my mum was not such an oddity after all by staying at home all those years but I would never have felt comfortable in not earning and contributing to the household budget once my children were old enough to be left.  I went back to work part time once my own two were at senior school although I always made sure that I was home by the time they got in from school. Happy Days...

On a different subject, tonight we will be having Earth Hour when lots of people all over the world will be turning off lights for an hour from 8.30 to 9.30pm local time.  Will you be taking part?  I think we will.  It won't make much difference in the grand scheme of things but it will be a gesture to show we are mindful of the way we are using up all our planets resources.

On the subject of electricity, I wrote a post a few months ago about my efforts to save money by cutting the electricity bill.  Would you believe it.... I cut our usage down only for the unit price to go up from 11p per unit to 11.9p so our bill is bigger not smaller.  As we are billed by a third party I have no way of checking whether or not we are being ripped off with the price.  I thought suppliers were keeping costs down.....Has your supplier reduced your unit cost?

On Ageing

Suddenly, I am feeling my age.  DD, my younger child, was 40 on Tuesday, my best friend has reached the age of 65 today, my sister and her husband are both 75.  I had a phone call last night to say that my brother in law went to hospital yesterday for an eye injection (macular degeneration) only to be immediately admitted as he was having a heart attack whilst awaiting treatment.  As my Sis lives in Suffolk and I am here in Worcestershire I can't go to help.  She sounded so down on the phone as she seems to have no-one else to talk to who lives close by.  We chatted for a while and she seemed a little calmer when we finished but I do wish I could hug her.  Families seem to fly far and wide these days, don't they?  Our son lives in Oz and we rarely hear from him.  I am feeling my age.....

Virtual hugs to anyone who needs one x

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Food Nostalgia & a SAHM

Thank you to everyone for your kind and sympathetic comments yesterday on my little Grandson's broken finger.  He is indeed a brave little soul and is on the mend :)

I still feel off colour though.  I didn't sleep well and now my head feels twice it's normal size and I keep feeling quite dizzy, it's a rough old bug....

Anyway, after a night of torrential rain the earth looks and smells fresh and invigorated.  The rain is still falling now though it is gentler and sounds comforting on the roof.  I have to go out later to take dear Father-in-Law shopping though I would really prefer to stay indoors and catch up on my sleep.  C'est la vie....

Frugal Queen made a great post yesterday about the TV programme called 'Back in Time for Dinner' which started me thinking about what we used to eat when I was a child.  Boy, did some memories start to surface!

During the 1930's our mother worked in tailoring with her sisters but gave up work the day before she got married and never went back to it.  She never earned another single penny of her own, which I find absolutely incredible.  I was born in 1949, the middle child of 3, and my memories begin in 1951 when, at the age of 2 the family moved into a brand spanking new council house on a new estate.  It had no central heating but was the absolute 'bees knees' as far as housing went at that time.  Dad worked hard but we were never that well off  and mum cooked from scratch every day.  The usual fare was things like pigs trotters, ox tail stew, boiled brains mashed with egg, faggots held together with kell (which was, I think, the lung lining of an animal), braised kidneys, liver and does anyone remember chitterlings?  Yuk, yuk, yuk!  I hated all of it and would only eat egg and chips, jacket potatoes and cheesy things.  Do you think that could be why I don't eat meat now? :/ Our weekend treat was a chicken which was roasted on a Saturday and provided roast dinners with roast potatoes and one vegetable for 5 of us for 2 days running (10 meals), the chicken being eaten cold on Sunday.  I remember her making brawn for dad's sandwiches once.  She had to boil an animal head ( sheep or pig, I can't recall) and pick the tiniest bits of meat from all over the skull (sorry to any other vegetarians out there, it's ok to stop reading now) and then press it all into a bowl, shove a weight on it and keep it cool overnight until it set into a sliceable chunk.  OMG, no wonder I am traumatised regarding meat eating :/

Mum was a good cook when it came to sweet treats though.  She made lots of apple pies, rice puddings, egg custards (which often turned themselves upside down during cooking and my favourite....jam tarts made with the leftover bits of pastry.  I still have a sweet tooth now, unfortunately.

Dad tried growing potatoes in our new large (wild) garden but he failed miserably and never bothered again!  He also attempted to make some ginger beer from a culture given to him by a mate at work.  It looked good and was stored in bottles in the small bedroom until they exploded one day allowing a flood of ginger beer to come through the ceiling!  That was the end of that!

As we got older things like fish fingers appeared and I remember a van emblazoned with ESKIMO setting up in the town centre and handing out samples of cooked fish fingers to try.  Well, I was in heaven when I tasted those and mum had another item to add to my menu of ' will actually eat it' food.  I must have been a nightmare to feed but I was never given anything different to the rest of the family, she just didn't put meaty things on my plate after a while.  Even now I am happy with a plate of veggies and gravy for dinner.  Luckily my brother was (and still is) different in that he will try almost anything.  I have many more memories flooding back but I won't bore you all with too long a post....

I would be interested to know if anyone else's mum was a SAHM as most of my friends' mothers worked and thought it strange that mine didn't. Was she an oddity not to work after 1937?  Or was she a bit spoilt?  She spent the first 10 years of married life living with her parents including, obviously, the war years when dad was in the army (she had given birth to my sister in 1939) Could that have been the deciding factor?  Comments welcome :)

Thanks everso for popping in x

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

On Ducks & A Broken Finger

Welcome to Morag, my new follower, lovely to meet you!

We had some visitors yesterday,a gorgeous mallard and his wife.  They came up to the window, quacking loudly for some food.  They shared a small slice of wholemeal bread, well I say 'shared' loosely because she was much quicker on her feet than he was and I had  a struggle to lure her away long enough to give her husband a titbit. The grass is looking like it will need it's first cut of the year any day now.

Our poor GS has been in the wars again. He was playing football at school and was in goal.  He went to save the ball and another boy kicked his hand instead, ouch!  He put up with the pain all afternoon and throughout after school club until his mum collected him at 4.30pm.  When she went to hold his hand he winced and she could see that his finger was very swollen and turning outwards.. A 3.5 hr trip to A &E later, he had been given gas and air whilst they pulled his broken finger back into place....
It's very bruised but he's taking it bravely for a 7 year old.  He told me that the gas & air made him feel  "Mega Dizzy" and rolled his eyes around to emphasise the
Sorry it's a short post again today but I have a nasty head cold and keep feeling a bit nauseous and dizzy myself too.  I'll be back again tomorrow,
Thanks for popping in x


Sunday, 22 March 2015

A Sunny Day & A Spring Clean

Welcome to Undomestic Diva, what a wonderful name!  Lovely to meet you :)

Today has been wonderfully sunny and uplifting, still a cold wind, mind, but sunny.  I was in the mood for a bit of spring cleaning so I decided to start on the kitchen.  The worktops had everything moved and the surfaces sprayed with Dettol and items replaced in a tidy fashion.  I thought about doing a cupboard, not too taxing I think.....

Firstly, I needed to strip off a bit as cleaning is hard work for me now.  Don't get too excited though it was just

I removed everything from the cupboard then using just these gave it a jolly good spray and wipe down.....

I put a few things into the bag for the CS (if I haven't used them in 5 years then surely I never will?)but this little Susie Cooper cup and saucer, well, I do love it and use it for my mint sauce so it must stay......

I then re-lined the shelves with some gift wrap I had.  I feel it's a bit old fashioned to do this but the alternative is scratched shelves when OH drags stuff out instead of lifting it up so it's a necessary evil.  There is actually room now to store my electric steamer at the back and my slow cooker at the front so that I can reach it easily.  That's tidied my worktop up a bit too.....

Right, time for a nice salad lunch (it MUST be Spring!) then an hour of this.....

before I start again...

Tonight's dinner will be Quorn shepherd's pie with lots of steamed veg so not too much effort involved.  I do love a nice, quiet Sunday :)

What have you done with yourself today?  Are you in spring cleaning mode?  The clocks go forward next weekend so we can look forward to lighter evenings from then on.

Thanks everso for popping in x

Friday, 20 March 2015

The Eclipse and a Lonely Parsnip

Welcome to my new follower, Chris, I think it is :)

I was looking forward to the solar eclipse this morning but it turned out to be a bit of an ante-climax.  It went slightly darker with lengthening shadows on the lawn but, of course, I hadn't thought it through and had no eye shield so didn't see much else.  OH had the slightly dubious idea of standing in the porch, aiming his camera in approximately the right direction and clicking away without looking.  We have some really weird shots and a couple of OK ones which I have yet to see on a big we are certainly NOT related to Brian Cox!

Afterwards we popped into town and I found this book at the giveaway price of £2.99 in WH Smith.  The cover is slightly damaged but the original price was £16.99 so I feel I had a bargain.  Some of the recipes in there are lush and well worth a try. I'll let you know how I get on....

When we came home OH decided to finish off the gardening I started on Sunday and to sow some seed potatoes and plant some new strawberry plants.  On emptying the big tub from last year he found this....

Aw, I was so excited! (I know, I don't get out much!) I fully intend to eat this lonely little chap on Sunday.  It would be rude not to, wouldn't it.  After all he has struggled valiantly on when all his little pals were pulled and eaten ;)

How are you all getting on with your Spring planting?  I think I will try growing some pea shoots in a pot indoors.  Has anyone else done this? Was it easy to get some edible shoots quickly?  Do they need heat to germinate?  I have never done it before but fancy some pick and come again salad stuff.  Any tips greatly appreciated....

Thanks everso for popping in x

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

On Feeling Yuk and a Clever Lady

Today I feel a know...not quite right.  OH will tell you I've always been the same, the cheeky blighter, but he has 'man flu' and has been coughing and sneezing all over the house since Saturday evening.  I feel a bit icky and headachy so I do hope he hasn't passed it on :(

Anyway, yesterday I answered the door to the Postie who handed me a package.  Yippee!  It's my needle roll which was handmade for me by the lovely Pam from A New Life in Wales.  She is so clever and so neat with her sewing.  She is trying to raise funds for the Dogs Trust and kindly agreed to make this for me...

The fabric is really lovely....

....and my knitting pins fit very well in the slots.....

All tied up, the needles are safe and sound and not likely to stick into anyone rummaging about in the junk   ahem...craft corner.  I love it!

Isn't it lovely when the Postie calls with something nice rather than bills :)

Have you received anything lovely in the post lately?

Lovely to see you x

Sunday, 15 March 2015

An Alternative Mothering Sunday

Today has been Mothering Sunday.  A day when we think about and appreciate our mums.  I no longer have my own mum but I still think of her as she was during her healthy years, when I could tell her my problems and worries and she would help just by listening.  Today was spent mostly on my own.  OH was at work at a famous D-I-Y store ( you can do it! :),  DD and her family were at a dance competition with GD so I saw them yesterday instead.  I opened my gift bag this morning to find these...

.....two lovely cards and a pack of L'Occitane hand cream, the kind I would never have bought myself as it's a premium brand.  It smells of lavender which I love.  Our son lives in Oz so he never even thinks about Mothering Sunday, let alone send me a text or email so for most of the day I was alone.  Now I could have moped but decided to have a 'productive' day instead.  The beds have been stripped completely, moved around the room (with much huffing, puffing and back holding) and the whole carpet given a thorough vacuum once I had given the filters in said machine a good spring clean too.  The mattress has been vacuumed which was when I noticed it's getting a bit saggy at the edges.  Cor...we will need a new one some time this year I think.  It must be at least 7 years old.  How long are they supposed to last?  Anyway, everything is thoroughly clean and re-made ready for tonight's sleep.  In the course of cleaning, I have jettisoned more unwanted stuff (mainly only skip worthy) replaced the ageing duvet with a new one (bought at a bargain price a while ago and stored in the loft...where, incidentally I found empty boxes kept for whatever reason and now in the re-cycling) so I have cleared some loft space too :)  Hooray!

An hour was spent weeding a border, then I made a quick lunch, had a shower and finally sat down around 3.15pm for a bit of knitting.  I have finished another little top made from beautiful soft and silky baby yarn and am really pleased with the result....

OH came home around 5pm so it was all systems go once more to cook dinner, just sausages, roasties, and lots of veg, mind you.  After washing up and tidying the kitchen I am now ready (8pm) for a sit down and a nice cuppa.  Hmm, methinks it's only me second hot drink of the day, what's a-happenin' ??

I hope you all had a lovely day, whatever you decided to do :)

Thanks so much for popping in x

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Beautiful Gifts & Value Update

It's so hard to believe that it has been a week since I last posted.  I have no idea where the days have gone, each one has been filled to the brim. At the start of last week I opened my door and was greeted by something lying on the was this.....

Isn't it gorgeous?  My lovely neighbour had left it for me as a thank you for looking after her home whilst she was on holiday.  A couple of days later a friend came to the door with these....

They too were a thank you for looking after Ern, the tortoise, who I am very happy to report :) has been successfully brought out of hibernation this week and who is eating as much cucumber & broccoli as he can manage!

Yesterday, I went to see my DD as she has been very poorly over the last couple of months.  I took her some bits and pieces and some live yogurt to help replenish her system after having 2 courses of antibiotics and she gave me these....

I had used my only vase for the other flowers so I wielded a craft knife and a plastic water bottle was turned into an emergency vase in a jiffy.  I think it looks ok. From a distance it actually looks as if it's glass.

Outside, my pot of tete a tete is flowering at last although some of the bulbs have gone blind and it might need re-doing later on.  I can also see from the photo that the brick garden wall will need a bit of a scrub later :/    It's raining heavily today so it will have to wait (any old excuse...)  There is no wind so the rain is falling straight down and making a lovely comforting sound on the roof.  I think it will be a crispy jacket potato for lunch with some baked beans, lovely and warming, then an afternoon crafting. DH is at work until 4.30pm but he has taken the car so I don't need to go out...hoorah!

Being of Value...update
I have made a start on finding other ways to be of value in the world:
  •  I made a donation of food items to the local Food Bank yesterday and will do so every single week for the whole year
  • I sold a hand knitted baby hat for £1 and donated the money to Help for Heroes ( I know, I know )
  • I am listing things on eBay (free listing at the moment) and will donate half the proceeds to BLISS. The remainder of the money will buy more wool to knit more items to sell.
It doesn't sound like much but the important thing is I have made a start.  It's much harder than I imagined to come up with new ways.  Suggestions are welcome.
Anyway, have a lovely Sunday, whatever you are doing.  I can hear my jacket potato calling!
Thanks for popping in x

Sunday, 1 March 2015

March Challenge

Goodness me, the first day of March already and Spring is well and truly on it's way.  I eagerly turned over the calendar to find quote of the month which is this:

Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value
Albert Einstein
This got me thinking of how I can be of value and to whom.  I feel valued as a wife, mother, grandmother, daughter in law, sister and so on, is that the same thing? I am of value to them all in one way or another.  My challenge this month will be to make myself of value in other ways, I think.  I aim to sell and donate more (money as well as items) to charities I care about, I have been of value to my neighbour by feeding her cat for the last 4 weeks without fail, and caring for Ern, the hibernating tortoise :) but I aim to find new ways to be of value to others.  This might be more of a challenge than I first thought :/
I will have a ponder and keep you posted.  Any suggestions dear followers? Do you have any challenge plans for the new month?
Have a lovely evening everyone x

30 a Week Challenge Day 7

Saturday meals: Breakfast: Porridge oats with cinnamon (1/4 point) Lunch : Lunch was a bit of a cheat.  I saw this little pot of Red Thai st...