Saturday 29 August 2020

Financial Hits & Winter Planning

It's almost the end of August and the time when I check our spending over the month and ensure that we have enough in the current account for next month's payments.

Before lockdown, I allowed £50 per week for food, cleaning products and toiletries.  With careful spending we ate healthily and frugally (as well as feeding the family at the weekend) and managed to put aside a little money out of the £50 towards Christmas.  This year, the focus changed dramatically at the end of March from frugal and healthy to buying whatever food we could get, at whatever price, with the result that the cost rocketed by 50% to an average of £75 (paid for on the debit card) with nothing left to save.  There is, therefore, NO Christmas fund.  Shall I cancel Christmas?  Of course not....I love it too much.  It's more that the planning will have to change.  I'm stocking up again now anyway just in case there are more problems with the virus during the cold weather to come.  I simply can't face the initial panic of  lockdown yet again; the battle to buy loo rolls or flour etc so I'm making sure we have enough to last a couple of months in storage.  If we get snowed in this Winter it won't matter !😊 The cost has been balanced out by not eating out for months anyway.....

Gift buying has been gradually reduced over the last few years.  Now I usually pop some money in the children's cards, nothing for the adults, with the exception of my brother and his wife, and DD and her family.   In previous years I've given gift vouchers but feel it's a bit risky to do that this time because a) the store might close or b) the recipient might be avoiding shops.  My list this year will be minimal :) AND...there is no way I will be spending a whole day with DD at the out of town shopping centre this November like we normally do.  We make a day of it with lunch out and come back broke but loaded with just the right gifts for the family.  Not this time.  More planning required, I think.

Other bloggers are so talented; making jams & chutneys for hampers, knitting socks, sewing lovely things and baking for giving.  I'm not talented in any of those things so I need to get my thinking cap on.....

Are your plans changing this year?

It was bright and sunny this morning after a whole day of rain yesterday so I popped into the village to pick up my prescription.  En route was the Acorns Children's Hospice CS.  It was open so I put on my mask, used the hand sanitizer, and popped in to check out the books.  I got these for £1 each....

When I got home I wiped the covers with anti-bac surface wipes and left them to dry.  They will be put aside for 3 days before I touch them again.  I really wanted to stop for a coffee at my favourite coffee shop but it was busy so I walked away.  I'm too nervous of crowded places.

The sun is out so I'm off to peg out the bed linen.  I love the smell of washing after it's been outside in the sunshine.

Have a great weekend everyone, wherever you are in the world x

Sunday 23 August 2020

Chilling on a Sunday

Well I managed to get a fair bit done yesterday.  All the things I planned plus a bit of washing too, although it did rain again so I couldn't peg it out.  It went on the airer instead and was dry by morning.  Today started off dull and cloudy, and then it started raining  yet again so I put the recycling in the bags outside, emptied the waste bin,washed the floor in the kitchen, hallway and downstairs loo, vacuumed the lounge and ate lunch.  A quick shower then I have been reading a book which was lent to me by a friend.  I can't seem to put it down 🙄

As you can see I am getting close to the end.....if you've read it please don't tell me the ending 🤐 I am GRIPPED !

I did manage a little crafting yesterday and have been experimenting with Christmas card toppers.  I like to be prepared....I think my favourites are the poinsettia ones....

Anyone else starting Christmas prep?

Anyway, I have half an hour before G gets back from work so....back to my book!

Stay safe wherever in the world you happen  to be x

Saturday 22 August 2020

Windy Wet Week

We have had an awful lot of rain over the last week.  Far from cooling things down, it just made us even more sticky with the humidity.  When the rain and thunderstorms finally blew themselves out by Thursday we went to the local park for a long walk.  Crikey, we were both puffing like steam trains when we were walking up the steep incline to the woodland walk!  I'm sure we have both lost muscle tone over the period of lockdown.  G is back at work now so should recover a little but I feel I'm on a downward slope.  My weight is still 10lbs less than in February.  As I'm still not going far from the house I have no idea how to build up my stamina again.  A weekly long walk simply won't hack it and I have nowhere else to walk other than along the main road alongside traffic fumes and dog walkers, and with joggers to dodge.  How I long for the country walks along the canal where we lived until Last December :(

Anyhow, I'm still paying attention to what we eat.  We need healthy options.  I'm not baking much in the way of cake because it gets left and it's been too hot to think about food, much less put the oven on!  We had very high winds again yesterday.  Winds which blew things around the garden, including the plants in pots, but it's now calmed down a little and is cool and comfortable.

Today, I'm catching up with housework, online banking, and budgeting (long overdue) whilst G is at work.  I'm hoping to do a little crafting this afternoon.  I've had a few online craft sales this week so want to keep up the momentum.

What are you doing this weekend?

Thanks so much for popping in,
Stay safe wherever in the world you happen to be x

Friday 14 August 2020

On Heat And Apples....

The last few days have been so oppressively hot that we have been too uncomfortable to do anything but sit with ice cold drinks in our hands.  At night it's been too hot to sleep and I've been dropping off in the early hours (almost just before I have to get up again) and then waking hot and sticky.  The thunderstorms have been amazing, just as night fell, and at one point we were sitting, in the dark, in the garden watching and filming the storms.  We had torrential rain and even hailstones at one point. Thankfully, it's a little cooler today, humid but overcast so more comfortable.  I can't take the heat any more.  Is it an age thing?  How do you cope?

After my tussle with the earwigs in the Bramley apples I was nervous of giving any of the Russets to the family but my brave Granddaughter offered to try them  :) .....

She says they are tart but delicious so more will be picked and shared around.

I cut into the remaining Bramleys cautiously and stewed them with a little sugar.  We can eat them for dessert with some ice cream or custard and a further two plastic boxes of stewed apple are in the freezer for crumble later.

It seems we had coddling moth in the Bramleys which spoilt a lot of the fruit so we will be grease banding and putting a pheromone trap in the tree at the appropriate time.  We really don't want to resort to spraying and are happy to share a little of the fruit with insects (but not quite so much as we have shared this year!)

Currently picking from the allotment:

Runner beans

Our potato crop has failed abysmally.  I think the plants were frosted early on and never really recovered.  We have been digging up the occasional plant and the potatoes have been tasty but there were very few on each plant.  Recently we found out that the previous plot holder had grown potatoes last year in the same bed :(   No wonder they didn't do well.  G has sown green manure in a different bed so that will be dug in and we'll try potatoes in there next spring.  Onward and upward, as they say!

Have a great weekend and stay safe wherever in the world you happen to be x

Saturday 8 August 2020

Especially for Sue And Other Interested Parties!

Firstly, a very warm welcome to my new follower, Susan. Hi!

Sue from A Smaller and Simpler Life, mentioned recently that she is looking at houses with gardens a similar size to ours so I thought I might as well post a few photos to show what we have achieved so far with an awkward shaped, claggy soil garden.

Step out of the French doors onto the patio which G extended both outwards and sideways to give us a bigger seating area.....

Taking you in a clockwise direction: to the left is the unfinished 3 raised beds.  They have had to be staggered because the garden slopes down quite dramatically and G has had to level the beds. They have had some decent top soil added and ,ultimately, they will have some manure dug in and then be planted up with flowers....

Further down on the left we intend to have another flower/shrub bed with a Hydrangea in the corner as that is the bit which gets soggiest in Winter.  The multi-stemmed silver birch will, hopefully screen us from the one semi behind us and we want to strategically plant a red berried Rowan to screen us from the other semi and to attract the birds.  The silver birch is sunk into the ground in it's pot to make sure it's in the right spot.....

Bottom right, the shed which will have 2 ordinary slabs in front of the entrance to save our feet getting muddy.....

Further right, the mini greenhouse which will just have to go.....

To the right of that more stuff in pots and tubs which will need to be re-jigged......

Top right, nearest the house is a storage box containing, amongst other things, the green bin.  The recycling stuff is by the back gate....

There is still a lot of work to be done but it's the pleasant stuff: buying flowering plants and shrubs.

G has begun setting the stepping stones into place.  They are all different, impressed with flowers or animals and birds.....

And a lovely quote......

I forgot to say that the garden is South facing and gets very hot...phew....

Thank you for your patience.  I hope you liked the tour :)

Stay safe everyone, wherever in the world you happen to be x

Thursday 6 August 2020

The Bramley Apple Crop & Home Garden

We heeded the advice received from knowledgeable blogger friends and carefully lifted an apple from the tree.  It came away easily so we picked another. Yep, easy to pick so most are ready early.  They were a good size too and I intended to bake them for dessert.  What I didn't know until I washed them was that something had got into the big one on the left through the base of the stalk.  I cut it in half and found...earwigs!....yuk ,yuk,yuk.  It was such a shame because the fruit looked perfect 👌 The smaller apple was cut up and stewed and tasted tart but delicious.  We intend to pick more tomorrow but will need to look closely at each and every one!  I guess insects are something to be expected if we don't intend to spray the trees......

As our garden is so boggy in the wet weather, we have bought some stepping stones to make it easy to get to the shed. At the moment they are laid on the grass to get a feel for the exact positioning but will be inset later so that we can simply mow over them.  G has also begun raised beds to the left so that they can eventually be filled with flowers for lots of colour. 

(Do excuse the washing line full of socks.  Why on earth did I take the photograph at that precise moment? 😆 What a numpty...The line is always taken up and put away after use, I promise!)

The green plastic mini greenhouse to the right is being used to grow tomatoes, unsuccessfully I might add, the fruit just isn't ripening so it will be removed in a week or two and taken to the allotment. Another flower bed will be created in it's place and I think it will look a lot neater.
Stay safe everyone wherever in the world you happen to be x

Monday 3 August 2020

Healthy Crops At The Allotment

Today has been beautifully sunny for most of the day so we got our jobs done in the morning then set off to the allotment to give everything a good watering.
The eating apples (unknown variety) are small and lots have been nibbled by something but I think quite a few will be OK.  We have no idea how soon we can pick them so will just have to play it by ear....

The cooking apples, Bramley's we think, are doing well but, each time we go, there are windfalls on the ground all blighted.  At this rate there will be none left to pick.  Does anyone have a clue why they are dropping please?

The bed below contains healthy leeks, lettuce and chard.....

These are the potatoes.  We are digging up a plant every few days, working our way from left to right.....

We have grown these sunflowers to feed the birds and insects and will leave them in place until the seeds have all been eaten.....

Below is a mixed bed of peas and celery and behind that a bed of green manure which G intends to dig in around the end of October to enrich the soil....

Our pride and joy are the runner beans. They are so healthy looking and already producing mature pods.  We took a bag of them to my brother as well as some freshly dug new potatoes, a lettuce and some chard.  Its exciting feeding others!

Changing the subject....I can't get along with this new blogger either.  It won't let me do certain things 😕 which I did perfectly well before.  I HATE change, do you?

A warm welcome to Debby and Anna, my new followers, hello!
Anyway thats all  my news for now.

Stay safe wherever in  the world you happen to be x

Sunday 2 August 2020

No Food In The House???

Somehow this week I have taken my eye off the ball regarding food planning so this morning, when I examined the contents of fridge and freezer for our Sunday lunch, I  found very little.   No meat for G, no ready meals, no vegetarian alternative protein either.  After speaking to my daughter, she came up with a cunning plan (remember Black Adder? )  A rummage in the bottom of the fridge produced 3 small carrots and a red onion so G was despatched to the allotment pronto to pick the first runner beans and dig up a few potatoes.  I parboiled the sliced potatoes and sliced carrots until almost tender then piled everything into a dish (except potatoes) threw in a handful of our homegrown frozen broadbeans, then topped it all with the spuds and about 3/4 pint of cheese sauce. Some grated cheese on top, then into a hot oven for 30 mins......not only delicious but we have enough left for tomorrow too.

Whilst that was cooking, I made some crumble topping to put on top of homegrown stewed rhubarb mixed with some frozen homegrown blackcurrants i found in the freezer.  30 mins in the oven produced two crumbles, big enough to share with the last scrapings of ice cream from the tub.  That's tomorrow's meal, sorted as well then ;)  It will have to be packet custard with the crumble though.....

The food delivery isn't coming until Wednesday afternoon so Tuesday will have to be baked beans and chips for tea. Another easy meal.

Earlier in the week we decided to treat ourselves to a bench for the back garden.  Sometimes its just too hot to sit on the patio in the full sun and there is a lovely shady spot next to the shed. So...a new bench was collected from Ashwood Nurseries.  It was a flat pack but G assembled it in no time and gave it a coat of varnish to protect it.  Its got a lovely curved back right by the bit of the spine in the lower back where we need it most.  I have been taking my early morning mug of tea outside to drink sitting on the new bench.  The lights along the shed are battery powered and cost the princely sum of £5.

Thats all my news right now....

Stay safe everyone wherever in the world you happen to be x

It's OK.....

  Angie 💓 xx