Thursday, 8 June 2023

A Case for Slow Living ... and Ultra-Processed People

... and read books in the sunshine.   

I love this meme, it really resonates with me, so I thought I would share it.  I've added my little bit underneath it to remind myself to read outside for a while each day. 

 I started The Year of Miracles a couple of weeks ago and have dipped into it a couple of times but it's not grabbing me.  You know the way a good book does when you feel the urge to pick it up at every opportunity.  It's not that it's a bad book as I love the way it's written, so maybe it's just my mood. In fact when Miguel Barclay's new cook book arrived with a thud on the doormat last week, I downed my book immediately and read his from cover to cover instead.

So when I read Sue's post this morning and she mentioned her new book it reminded me that I bought this book a couple of weeks ago and have yet to start it.  Maybe putting down my book and starting on another will make me enjoy them both.

I wonder who will finish reading 'Ultra-Processed People' first ... my money is most definintely on Sue.  😄

Sue xx

Wednesday, 7 June 2023

Shopping Differently, Being Gentle with People


I've started shopping differently recently.

Obviously I'm using up a lot of what I already have, so I don't really need to do a 'big shop' ... unless there are genuine reasons for doing that (more on that another day).  I find myself taking longer in the shop, enjoying the process more, and coming home much happier and more satisfied with my purchases.

This week for instance the above is all I needed, so that was all I bought.

The bananas are all 'singles', I smile every time I see the box that the single bananas get put into in our Booths supermarket.  It's message changes slightly some days, but basically it is a chalked note that says ... 'I'm single, can I come home with you?'

Happily 🍌

I'm not the only one shopping differently.

Since she became housebound my Mum's way of shopping has changed, for one thing my brother gets it for her now.  He took her shopping virtually every week for the last few years, but as soon as she could no longer cope with the car journey to the supermarket early last year, he took over completely and he pretty much gets it right each week, he was good at noticing what she loaded her trolley with when they were together and what he packed into her bags at the checkout while she waited to pay.

The things she puts on her list are pretty much the same each week, and until this last couple of weeks she has been determined to keep buying things like custard powder and baking supplies but this is making more work for her in the kitchen at a time when she can't stand up for long to cook.  So we have been introducing her to some ready made foods, custard in little plastic cartons that she can pop in the microwave, shop bought scones, ready prepared and chopped vegetables ... and she recently discovered for herself the wonders of frozen Baked Potatoes.

One of her little 'planet saving' things, just like I do, has been to write her shopping lists on backs of envelopes, scraps of paper or pieces of card, but these are now getting lost in the piles of papers that she keeps here, there and everywhere.  We had a good sort out last week and got rid of so many ancient lists and saved brochures etc etc.  So this week to make up for it I am taking her a posh shopping list pad with a magnet on the back, so that she can have it right next to her on the storage heater ... ready to add things to as she thinks of them and ready to read out to my brother when he phones for her list on a Friday evening.

Far too many people jump to conclusions when they see shopping trollies with lots of little plastic filled bags of ready chopped vegetables or fruit, small plastic pots of baked beans, jelly or custard and think that the person is extravagant or lazy ... or both.  Or that they don't care for the environment and are shopping in some willy-nilly fashion for no good reason, and I have to admit I have sometimes looked into a shopping basket and thought exactly that in years gone by.

We should always remember that we, and people like my Mum were more environmentally friendly before it became a 'thing'.  We took our own bags to the shops, we returned our milk bottles and our pop bottles to the delivery guy or the shop.  We carried home food wrapped in paper bags, chips wrapped in newspaper and walked to the shops for our food, the schools for our children and used public transport in preference to individual cars if we ever ventured further afield.

So if in our twilight years we have to take some shortcuts that will make our lives easier, happier and more manageable ... we should just do it.

Sue xx

Monday, 5 June 2023

Spot the Difference ... and Three Year Old Marmalade

This was the food cupboard on the 1st of May ...

... and this was it on the 3rd June.

I decided to put these photos on a post more for my benefit really so I can see how I'm doing.  I've been really trying not to move things around when spaces appear, but the urge is great and a few things seem to have switched places.

Nothing has been added to the cupboard except my latest prescription of Vitamin D tablets and the baking potato in the little white bag, it needed to be out of the basket and the light and in a darker place as it was starting to sprout.  

Oh, and I have just spotted a single pack of Aldi Wheat Biscuits, Weetabix by any other name.  My little tin only holds two and a half of the inner packs and I topped it up the other day from the box on the little drawer unit.

There is also one jar of Lemon Marmalade missing from the cupboard since the photo was taken as I opened it for a slice of toast yesterday, before we set off for Morecambe and the annual Vegan Food Fair.  Once opened it lives in the fridge ... due to it being three years old now. 

Happy Birthday Little Miss Marmalade, you're still as delicious as the day that I made you. 🎂

Sue xx

Saturday, 3 June 2023

Cucumber Plants, Weekend Watching ... and Moving House?


Yesterday I finally got my cucumber plants out into their final places, two in this bed near the shed and the other in a pot so I can stand it in full sun and see what difference it makes.  Quite a lot I should imagine as cucumbers love to be warm.  Unfortunately, the areas I have for growing vegetables in our little garden are mostly shady except for at certain times of the day, but like so many gardeners I'm doing my best with what I have.

The one in the pot is now here as the this side of the lodge gets the sun for most of the day until early evening, so it should have a head start over the ones that get the evening sun and lots of shade.  As you can see in this photo, I think this last couple of weeks of hot sun has been a bit hard on the tomato plants.  Thank goodness there are a couple of smaller tomato plants in pots on that top shelf waiting to go into larger pots in the next week or so.

All the time I was working in the garden the fat-ball holder was being visited by lots of little birds, they're very brave at the moment as I was literally only a couple of feet away most of the time.  Possibly they're braver because we have stopped putting out all other food that seems to attract the larger birds and have just been using up our supply of fat-balls instead.

Here's a bit of Weekend Watching in case you want a bit of sitting in the house out of the sun for a change ... and aren't in the mood for the FA Cup Final.

First some gardening inspiration from Tanya at Lovely Greens.  I used to use the terracotta plant pot method of the Olla's she is showcasing in this video in my polytunnel ... I would love a Polycrub!!

Next a channel I only discovered this week and I've been watching quite a few videos from, We Cook Vegan.  Some of the ideas are brilliant, if a bit samey but it's been good for some new inspiration.  The only thing I don't like is the almost permanent titles of 'Better than meat'.  If you like meat I doubt you would find them better than meat, but hey ho!!

And finally, a lovely little apartment to drool over.  I do like small space living ... both doing it myself and watching how other people do it.  This space is smaller than mine by about 60 square foot and I love the way that it's laid out.

Here's a lovely little cottage in almost original condition that's just come on the market in our little town ... am I drooling over it - yes, am I tempted to buy it - yes.  I must remain firm and not view it.

 Tomorrow we are heading to Morecambe for the annual Vegan Fair, and of course it will give the dogs a lovely walk along the seafront and might even take my mind off Church Cottage.  😄 

I hope you have a lovely weekend, what are your plans? 

Sue xx

Thursday, 1 June 2023

Food, Shopping, Shoes and Trucks ... Where Did May Go?

I seem to have blinked and suddenly May is over.  

We got through so much during May, work-wise, holiday-wise, food-wise ... I think I've eaten far too much food recently.  Even though we both got small portions of everything while on holiday, we still came home feeling podged ... and I was 2lbs heavier!!

Anyway the month has whizzed by, so much so that all of these photos were taken to be shared with you on the blog during May and were never used.  As I've now gone over to the June folder on my computer I thought that I would share them all today and start off June with a last look at May.

The top photo is my basket of 'you should use these things up soon' foods

It was a month of eating simply and using up what I had in, also of bulk cooking at least one thing each week to use over the course of the week.  This time it was penne pasta.

I only really shopped twice, this was the second lot of purchases.  A total spend of £13.34 spent at Sainsbury's buying only what I needed to make what I already had into satisfying meals ... along with two more of the tubs of spread while they were on such a good offer.

My mustard sneakers on the mustard rug just made me smile one day, so I decided to take a photo to remember the moment.  Seeing the photo here made me wonder how many years I have had these shoes for and looking HERE it would seem they are three years old.  They are a bit faded now compared to then, but still as comfy.

I had a roll of Aldi shortcrust pastry that was past it's best buy date in the fridge, so I decided to make up a batch of little tartlets with random bits of veg from the fridge and topped them with cheese.  The same filling was used in the pasty made from all the rolled out offcuts of pastry.  It made for a tasty lunch for three days for me and one day for Alan.

The dogs waiting for Alan to appear at the door ... form an orderly queue ladies.  😄

My little greenhouse was moved to the garden mid-month.

Rather than buy a Gro-Bag I decided to simply use one of the bags of compost that I already had for my main tomato plants.  I thought this would also weigh down this flimsy growing space.  Everything is looking so much bigger and better today, they are relishing their position in the morning sun.

And finally, just because it was the last saved photo in my May file, my elder son's new work cab.  

He is taking to the road again after a couple of years of being the garage foreman for Thomas Armstrong in Cumbria, and will be driving their number one heavy haulage tractor unit which bears a memorial to a former manager.  He simply could not resist the urge to be in control of the star of the company fleet and he will be taking it to as many truck shows each year as he can, as well as driving it with some of the heaviest loads that the company transports on a day to day basis.

So that was May, I wonder what June will be bringing us?

Sue xx

Tuesday, 30 May 2023

From McDonald's to a Stately Home

We're just back from a four day weekend away in Hereford.  We stayed at the Holme Lacey House Warner Leisure hotel and had a lovely relaxing 70's weekend break ... although if I hear one more Suzi Quatro track I will scream.  😄
We left all the furry children in the care of Jason and Tash and set off in good time, although travelling on the Friday of a Bank Holiday weekend was not the best of ideas, but we finally made it to our destination after six hours on the road.  

At about the halfway point we stopped for a while, the services was packed but it was a very necessary stop.  I find it difficult to accept that Alan is still doing all the long distance driving and I always feel guilty.  

Unfortunately, ALL the queues for food at the services were ridiculous except for MacDonald's which was having a very brief lull as we arrived.  We made the best of a bad job and I discovered that MacDonald's black coffee is actually very tasty and less than half the price of a small Americano from Costa.  Why didn't I discover this years ago when we used to commute from Cumbria to Berkshire every week for our jobs.  I still don't like MacDonald's food though ... is it even actually food?  It sat like a lead balloon in my stomach for hours after I had eaten it.

The front doors of the hotel, a welcome sight after the long journey.

We had a wander around part of the grounds opposite the doors just after we arrived, so that Alan could point you in the direction of the view.

It was lovely sitting on the wall and drinking in the rolling hills and watching the wildlife ... I do miss having a view from home.

Just one of the 'proper posh' ceilings in the main rooms.

We were sat waiting for a quiz to start when I took this ... sadly we didn't do very well, so we had to go and commiserate with ourselves over a drink on the terrace, now that went so much better. 😁

Each night there was entertainment from the 70's.  

The first night was a Carpenters tribute act, not bad at all.  The second night a Fleetwood Mac cover band, I don't know much about Fleetwood Mac but Alan was impressed, and then on the final night the room was really rocking with T. Rox.  A T.Rex tribute act but who also sang songs by Mud, Slade, Bryan Ferry and even a couple of Bay City Rollers tracks.  They really got everyone up and dancing the night away.

Of course Alan couldn't resist sitting on one of the lions for a photo opportunity.

It was a relaxing few days and we both enjoyed most aspects of it, especially the food as it was so nice not to have to think of what to make every night ... or have to wash up after it.  

But somehow now that I am back home I am glad that I'm back to simplicity, and to be honest I would much rather have my caravan back and the little clubhouse that was there if you wanted entertainment on a Friday or Saturday night, or could be easily ignored if you just wanted your own company and a glass of wine on your own patio with snoring dogs at your feet.

As we drove through the gates of the hotel to head for home I was actually looking forward to getting home and my own bed ... even if I did have to think what was for tea and wonder what I had in the freezer.

Sue xx

Monday, 29 May 2023

Magical Older Dogs


There something magical about older dogs, and cats too for that matter.

They settle down to be comfortable in their own skin, but just like us older humans they can have those wonderful crazy moments of sheer joy and unbridled lust for life.  Their fur turns greyer, their eyes look cloudier but wiser and when they look up at you, their human friend, you can almost see the shared history they are remembering.

Suky aged two.

Suky aged 11.

Mavis aged two.

Mavis aged 12.

Ginger aged four.

Ginger aged 13.

Magical older friends. 💝

Sue xx