Saturday 28 December 2019

Back to Simplicity

Christmas has been strange.  

Lots of food, lots of television, some dog walking, a couple of short visits, one of which actually took us two days to achieve!!

I loved my simple Christmas dinner, it might not look much but this was on one of our 'big plates' and I usually eat off our small ones.  You can see the size difference in the photo at the bottom of this post.  Alan had the same as me but with the addition of a few slices of his Turkey and Duck Crown with Cranberry Stuffing and of course his absolute favourite things in the world ... pigs in blankets.

The next day I used some of the leftovers to make Boxing Day Pasties.  Using ready-rolled bought pastry to keep things hasslefree and simple.  They simply contain everything but the meat, chopped a bit more finely and moistened with a bit of leftover gravy.

They are different shapes because ...

... I had used the other piece of the pastry in the box to make four little pastry cases ready to be turned into banoffee pies.  Another of Alan's favourite things.  

I had cut out four circles to fit my little four-compartment quiche tray and then re-rolled the cutaway edges to make my half-circle pasty, using the final strip of pastry in the box to make Alan's more rectangular one.

Our finished meals on Boxing Day.  

No other veggies needed as the pasties were stuffed full of them, just a few slices of tomato for freshness and Alan had his sliced meat and leftover pigs in blankets on the side.

So why have I called this post 'Back to Simplicity'?  

Well because after a few days that have been so food focussed, here in the house, in the shops, on the television, etc, we have both decided quite independently that we need to go right back to basics with what we eat in the New Year.  I am completely dairy-intolerant, with increasing severity of symptoms if I slip up, to be honest, I would describe myself up to now as a slapdash plant-based eater, and Alan is a Type 2 Diabetic and on the verge of needing full-time tablets if he doesn't change his ways now.  It's been hard to avoid 'treats' at this time of year, but after a few, you begin to realise that if 'treats' are actually doing you harm they must no longer be considered treats!!  

So ... all the foods that we have been gifted over the Christmas period that is unsuitable for either or both of us are going to be bagged up and dropped off for the local Foodbank next time we are passing one of the supermarkets with a Foodbank trolley, where I am in no doubt that they will be happily received.  

We both have plans for the New Year, mine is to fully embrace Veganuary and Alan's is to once again do his Michael Mosely 800 calories a day diet for a couple of weeks.  Then hopefully we should both be fully back on track and raring to go.

Sue xx

Wednesday 25 December 2019

A Very Merry Christmas

Wishing a Very Merry Christmas to all my family, friends, followers and readers.  I hope you all have the Christmas that you were hoping for however that may be celebrated.

Here it's being celebrated simply just us the dogs, Ginger the cat, and the chickens.  

But I was lucky enough to have breakfast with Santa this morning.

All the very best.

Sue xx

Sunday 22 December 2019

Babies at Christmas

Christmas is all about the children isn't it, and at the moment it's all about the babies in our family.

This is Amira Vicki Wright, our newest and most girliest of grandchildren.  At last in a family of boys there is a glimmer of pink.  She's a little sweetheart, born on the 8th December and home with her sister and brothers in time for a lovely family Christmas.  

We also have a little great-nephew due on Christmas Day although Erin, our niece and his Mum, is hoping for a day or so earlier so she too can be home in time for Christmas.

Little Amira … oooh!!

Born last year, right on the last day of 2018 was our little great grandson Mason.  He's really looking forward to his first Christmas, quickly followed by his first birthday.  So it really is all about the babies here at the moment.

We are both hitting the motorway today to go and visit little Amira for the first time.

Proud Nana Sue xx

Saturday 21 December 2019

An Imposter in the Ranks

Chicken World is busy these days.

As well as our remaining eight chickens there are a plethora of small wild birds, a small gang of Starlings, a couple of crows and the most recent addition is as beautiful as any of our girls or boys. 

 They are all here, on and off,  all day every day, eating the food and drinking from the drinkers.  Our boys do tell them off in the morning though and hold them at bay until the hens have had their fill at the layers pellets and corn.

Spot the Difference.

They are all boys ... but one is not a chicken.  

Luckily for our new resident Pheasant, Alan already has a joint in the freezer ready for Christmas Day, otherwise his days may have been numbered!!

Sue xx

Friday 20 December 2019

Alan's Christmas has been delivered ...

In the immortal words of Margo 'Christmas has been delivered ...'  (yes for those of you who know The Good Life inside out, it is a slight misquote).  

Our hamper gifted to us every year since Alan started working through the agency he works through arrived yesterday.  The first year they sent us a small Fortnum and Mason hamper, then every year after that until two years ago it was the extra large Fortnum and Mason hamper.  The past couple of years it has been a Regency Hamper, just as lovely but with less jam and slightly less posh wine, although with the addition of posh cheeses and smoked salmon.

Alan did the unpacking, after all most of the food that is in it is what he will be eating … I might be able to help him with some of the wine though  

Out of the entire contents of the hamper there are three things I would eat, three things that have not contributed to the death of an animal or a fish. 

A pack of four mince pies, a jar of red onion marmalade and a bag of crisps.

This time of year is especially hard for vegans ... not the eating of tasty food you should understand, we have SO much of that we could never go short by any stretch of the imagination.  It's the row upon row of dead flesh in the shops and supermarkets.  Packaged up to look as far removed from the dead body it came from as possible.  Hygienically shrink wrapped, placed on trays and titivated up to look pleasing to the eye.  It doesn't. ☹

It is not pleasing to the eye in any way once you see it for what it is.

I'll not rant and rave on here, this is not what my blog is for.  This blog is my day to day life both here in Wales and at the Van.  But occasionally I do feel the need to explain myself on a post … getting it down in black and white is the only way to get it out of my head.  Because most of the time that is where it is trapped.  There is no one in my family that I can turn to when all this gets too much, so I have to let  it run it's course and once it gets filed back in the 'why is the world so bloody cruel ' box I can breathe again … for a while.

The saving grace of yesterday was my new subscription copy of Vegan Life being delivered at the same time as the hamper.  Earthling Ed's face has never been more welcome.  Although I do have to catch up with my reading and read the December issue before I start on this one.  

Sue xx

Tuesday 17 December 2019

A Post by Mavis

Hello my name is Mavis.

Lots of you already know me and my story … it's nearly six years since I came to live here with Mum and Dad and all my furry and feathery friends.

I'm looking sad because I was at the vets all day yesterday having lots of my teeth out.  The vet took out 12, but she said I have lots left.  I had 6 taken out when I came back to live with Mum and Dad after the bad people pinched me and forgot to feed me, so if 18 have gone I must have started out with a lot!!

My mouth was sore before with my wobbly and bad teeth, but now it's even more hurty.  I'll have to trust Mum that it was the right thing to do but at the minute I am not sure.  The best thing about being hurty though is that I am getting nice things to eat.  I had chicken and rice for breakfast … not the chickens that live with us, at least I don't think so because they are all still outside running around with Mr and Mrs Pheasant who now also live with us,  but the sort of chicken that Mum makes smell nice and that comes out of the warm Aga thing that is next to my bed.

Yesterday Mum bought these from the charity shop.  We don't really play with toys but Mum says Father Christmas wants us to have some.

Mum wrapped them in paper and gave them both a bacon chew to eat while they are inside the paper, they smell nice now and if Mr Christmas lets me I might change my mind and play with these.

I think Mum has put them under this little tree to tease me ... I can smell the bacon.  If I had my teeth back I might have had a bite to see if I could make the treats fall out.  But I think I'll leave them for now as I have just had my medicine and I'm feeling like it might be time for a little nap.

Hurty teeth are not nice, I hope the ones I have left will be good and stay where they are supposed to be.  Time for a nap.


Mavis xx

For those of you who don't know Mavis … or a recap for those of you that do

Monday 16 December 2019

My £26 Coat

I wasn't going to get myself anything for Christmas, but when I saw this coat in Asda this morning for the princely sum of £26 how could I not buy it.  And that's full price, not some special offer or anything.  

An absolute bargain  😃

I'm a happy girl with a new Winter coat so I really splurged and bought Alan a Toblerone for £3 ... now we're both happy.

Sue xx

Sunday 15 December 2019

Filling the Shelves

Today, ignoring the poor little undecorated Christmas tree, I instead set too and started to fill the bookshelves, something I've been itching to get done since the house was redecorated from top to bottom over the last few weeks.

To both of us, a house doesn't feel like a home until there are shelves filled with books.

This built-in set of shelves used to be packed from top to bottom, but since our sort out earlier this year there are now some gaps, and hopefully after some more reading and sorting there will be even more gaps before we pack the books away again when we come to move house.

My ex-shop display cupboard empty and cleaned and back in place ready for filling.

Now that's better!!

But this does highlight that we have lots of sorting out to do with the books still, as when we move this will be our main bookcase.  Luckily, as you can see, there are a few gaps where the Christmas cards are and the cupboard beneath the shelves is almost empty.

Oooh, a desolate kitchen corner.

That's better ... a happy kitchen corner.

And this brings us on to the next job ... emptying the teapot.  Which now stands in for our Sealed Pot, holding all the odds and sods of change from our pockets and purses, and that gets emptied once a year usually on our wedding anniversary ... late again!!

That poor little Christmas tree will get decorated ... eventually 😉

Sue xx

Saturday 14 December 2019

From One Prize Winner to Another ...

I'm on the Abi Caravan Facebook page, as the owner of an Abi caravan it made sense to join, and every now and then they have little competitions.  In the last couple of weeks, I've won two of them.  The first prize I was sent was a plastic wet weather poncho type thing, handy to have in a Van I guess for dashing out in the rain.  This morning I received my prize for winning a caption competition ... it was a framed copy of my winning caption ... now that made me smile.

Rather handily it came in a very snazzy orange padded envelope ... which is the perfect size for passing on the magazine that I have just done the draw for. 

Now to the draw ...

I had ten comments on the last post, so I put all your names in the hat ...

... or rather the empty waste paper basket that was sat next to my desk  😁

And the name that was drawn out of the basket ... no looking I promise ... was Lee, who was the second person to comment on the last post.

Hi Sue, my daughter has embraced the Vegan life and I am just starting to learn al about this way of life so would like any tips and a calendar would be great, many thanks

Thanks to everyone who took the time to leave a comment, I'm just sorry you can't all be winners.  This issue of Vegan Life is in the shops at the moment though if I have spiked any interest.  If you don't want to splurge on a magazine, and yes they are expensive these days if you buy them from shops,. Veganuary is totally free to sign up to and you will get lots of helpful information from there even if you don't actually decide to participate in a month without meat.

I'll be back soon with a more normal blog post about getting our house back to normal ... in the meantime, I am going to get back to getting our house back to normal!!

Sue xx

Friday 13 December 2019

Who's Doing Veganuary

So is anyone that reads my blog posts going to have a go at Veganuary this January?

  It doesn't matter if you are an omnivore, a pescatarian, a vegetarian or a vegan ... anyone who fancies a Challenge in January can sign up.

By signing up even if you are vegan it gives the Veganuary team a good indication of the number of vegans there are in the countries that take part.  After the month is over there is a short questionnaire to fill in and it really does help to compile figures of the various countries eating habits.

Trying a vegan lifestyle is soooo much easier these days and it's even easier when I first signed up in 2017, and then it wasn't that bad compared to a decade ago.  There is now so much choice of vegan ready-made food in the shops, as well as the vegan food that everyone who mocks vegans seems to forget that they eat too ... fruits, vegetables, bread, pasta, rice, biscuits, snacks, dark chocolate etc etc

If you are interested you can sign up here:  Veganuary

When you sign up you get a free downloadable celebrity cookbook full of really useful recipes.  All through January you will get a daily email with hints, tips, news and recipes and basically just lots of help and advice.  There is also a brilliant Facebook group that you can join with lots of like-minded people and vegans of all ages and experience.

One of the reasons I ask is because I have just treated myself to a new subscription to Vegan Life magazine, and they have accidentally sent me two copies of the December issue.

It also comes with a free 2020 calendar.

If you are interested in veganism or are already a vegan and would like to have one of my copies please leave a comment below and if there is more than one comment by this time tomorrow I will do a little draw and send the spare copy and it's accompanying calendar to the lucky name picked out of the hat.  I'd just like it to go to someone who would find it useful.

Sue xx

Friday 6 December 2019

What to Buy Me, or Not Buy Me for Christmas

VeganKind Christmas Selection Box 2019

It seems that most the vloggers and bloggers that I follow on the internet are doing sustainable gift guides.  Lovely to watch even if they are getting slightly repetitive with the same products being recommended here there and everywhere. 

I was thinking about it the other day, and I thought I must be the hardest person in the world to buy a gift for … mainly because I don't want one ... but also because I only use the things I use.

 I am allergic to perfume, so therefore allergic to most things with perfume in them.  I have a couple of body creams that I'm fine with, but only one that I love so I tend to stock up on it when it's on offer three for the price of two at Boots.  When I travel I have a couple of mini sized pots that came free with magazines that I fill up from the larger one.

  I'm pretty safe with hand creams, and strangely I am okay with most bath foams, although anything lavender is a favourite, so that tends to be what people get me if they really want to buy me something … and I don't mind having a stock of those tucked away out of sight in the bathroom cupboard.

To go back to what the vloggers that I follow are suggesting as gifts ...

I don't need a thermos style travel mug or a bamboo travel cup as now own more bamboo cups than I will ever get through in my lifetime, thanks to that being a 'good present idea' in lots of peoples minds, it really was.  But no more … please!

I have a brilliant set of metal drinking straws, not that I like them that much but they are better than plastic straws.  Obviously these will last me a lifetime, unless I do a Uri Geller and bend them out of shape 😄

I have a bamboo toothbrush and absolutely love it, and I will be investing in more once I have used up all the new plastic ones I seem to have both here at the Van and back home in Wales.  Why have we got so many .... I have no idea!!   Once they have outlived being toothbrushes they go into the box under the kitchen sink to be used as little cleaning brushes for round taps etc ... really useful.

VeganKind Selection Box 2018

This year like last year I have treated myself to the VeganKind selection box.  It's good to have a little assortment of goodies in the house that are suitable for me to eat when Alan tucks into his milk chocolate covered brazils and other assorted Christmas goodies while we watch a film.

So as well as being the awkward bugger who can't be bought perfume for, I also can't be bought a box of chocolates, a cheese board or even an off the shelf hamper.  Which is drummed home to me every year when Alan's hamper arrives from the agency he works through, and out of the thirty or so items there are if I'm lucky one or two that I can eat. 

This isn't a whingy, whiney post  (or is it 🤣)  it's just me talking to myself and wittering away.  Trying to explain why I'm not the easiest person to buy presents for.  

One thing that a lot of folk are coming around to realising this year though ... and about time too ... is that why buy for buying's sake.  Why has Christmas got SO commercialised that we are swapping presents with people we hardly know, not knowing what they want or like or need.  If we all just stopped, after sorting it out with the people we used to buy for, we could draw things back to how it used to be.  Buying presents for our immediate family only, or if they are all on board pull back even further and give that most precious gift of all time.

A visit to an elderly relative or neighbour with a small bunch of flowers and time to sit and have a chat, a meet up for a coffee in the run up to Christmas with time to exchange hugs, a catch up on news and a flurry of good wishes are both surely more heart-warming than a gift set of talc and perfume arriving through the post to be put into the cupboard with last years, and the years before.

However you do Christmas is right, it's good if that is how you want to do it.  I'm just whittering, stop me now, force feed me dairy free chocolate and tell me to shut up 🤣🤣

Sue xx
(not Scrooge honest ...)

Thursday 5 December 2019

Christmas Image

Sorry for not being at the computer to answer all the questions about the little Suky and Sue image used on the last post.  It was taken from an advert for Christmas personalised mugs that I almost got tempted into buying.  

I don't 'do' Christmas china, indeed I don't do decorated china at all, virtually everything I own is now plain white with an indented stripe, no colour.  But things you have just for Christmas and then have to pack away and cannot in a realistic way use all year round are just a total no-no to me now.  So thank goodness with my sanity returning I simply clicked off the website.  Later I saw that my cousin had also picked up on these images and used her photo on her Facebook page, a bit naughty I know, but then I decided to go back on the website and rescue my images and save them onto my computer.  Later I turned the files into png images so I could use them in the future. 

They really are brilliant aren't they.  And in an effort to put the record straight and apologise to Gossby for not linking to them last time, here is a link to the website.  I don't usually do any sort of advertising on this blog but …. it's Christmas!! 

Sue xx

Tuesday 3 December 2019

Packing Away

Bit by bit this week things have been packed away.  

Some things stored under the bed here at the Van, which is now full to capacity, and a few things to go home.  Some things have gone to the charity shop and some old and broken things into the bin.

It's not been possible to send things home to Wales with Alan each week, as the house is still in such a state of disarray that to add to Alan's discomfort there would have been unfair.  It's been good as it's made me reassess what we own here and what we actually need.

Most of the pretty 'clutter' from the mantlepiece is actually useful stuff but this week even that has been packed away.

All that's left are the few new Christmas things ready to go home with us on Sunday, the radio, the plant and the little money box, oh and our anniversary cards.  I quite like the new simple layout, it makes for a nice change even if I don't usually bother swapping things round much.

It's been a cold few days and nights here in Scorton, and evenings have been spent snuggling under throws reading or watching the television ... and the nights cuddling into hot water bottles.  Suky loves her hot water bottle and snuggles so closely into it that it's still warm in the morning, which sets my mind at rest as I know it means that she too is reasonably warm during the night.

Image - Gossby

Sue xx