Wednesday 30 December 2020

It's That time of the Year

It's that time of the year ... a little tradition of mine, the time when I sit at my computer for a couple of hours unfollowing, unfriending, unsubscribing and generally deleting.  It makes me feel better to streamline my online activity and no doubt help in some small way to keep myself a bit safer with online activities, so it's never a bad thing or a waste of time.  

I find I change in many ways, some small and some much larger and what I might have enjoyed for the last few years can suddenly no longer seem even slightly relevant to how I feel as I am stepping into a new year.  And it feels like after the year we have just survived this is even more the case at the end of this year.

Seeing the 'Friends' numbers go down on Facebook might to some be seen as anti-social and maybe even downright unfriendly, but if someone has not been a true friend or has Friended me with ulterior motives this is their time to vanish.  So friends go, pages are unfollowed, the odd person is blocked completely and my online family shrinks.

I spent a good ten minutes unsubscribing from YouTube channels that I no longer have an interest in or watch.  How I had managed to get to well over a hundred subscriptions I'll never know, but now I'm down to just forty, including the new rationing ones that I have recently found.

I find it a very satisfying time and something perhaps I should do more often, but doing it at least once a year is enough for now.

What are your little 'traditions' for the end of the year.

Sue xx


Tuesday 29 December 2020

Ten Points to Ponder


Something I was sent on Facebook by a friend  ... we all need a laugh!!

10 Points to Ponder as 2020 draws to a close ...

1. The dumbest thing I ever bought was a 2020 planner.

2. 2019: Stay away from negative people. 2020: Stay away from positive people.

3. The world has turned upside down. Old folks are sneaking out of the house & their kids are yelling at them to stay indoors!

4. This morning I saw a neighbour talking to her cat. It was obvious she thought her cat understood her. I came to my house & told my dog.... We had a good laugh.
5. Every few days try your jeans on just to make sure they fit. Pyjamas will have you believe all is well in the kingdom.

6. Does anyone know if we can take showers yet or should we just keep washing our hands?

7. I never thought the comment, “I wouldn’t touch him/her with a 6-foot pole” would become a national policy, but here we are!
8. I need to practice social-distancing ....from the refrigerator.

9. I hope the weather is good tomorrow for my trip out to the bins!

10. Never in a million years could I have imagined I would go into a bank with a mask on and ask for money.

Sue xx

Monday 28 December 2020

Yellow Snow

My grandson was at his Dad's for Boxing day, spending time with his Dad and Grandad and they were watching the weather report to see if Pete's drive back to his area of Cumbria would be safe.  Simon noticed Oscar's eyes widening as the weatherman spoke of the Yellow warning for snow and bad weather in the North of England and Wales.

Oscar had heard it as a 'warning of yellow snow' and said loudly, 'yellow snow means people have wee'd on it .... eugh!!'


Sue xx

Friday 25 December 2020

Wishing You a Very Happy Christmas


Just a quick post today to wish all my readers, followers, fellow bloggers and all my family and friends a very Happy Christmas.  

We are celebrating in a quiet way the same as so many people all over the UK this year.  There will just be the two of us and our furry little friends.  I hope your day is safe, warm and with enough food in your tummy and enough entertainment on the television to keep you happy and if you have family to talk to on phone calls or Zoom meetings I hope you get to enjoy them.

We all have to remember that we have so much compared to many, and doing the research for my new Challenge has made me realise how very lucky the majority of us are to simply know that we are safe when we curl up by the fireside with our glass of wine in one hand and a cat or dog on our laps, and it doesn't even matter that the shops closed before Christmas could be bought, because to quote a very famous green man ...

And to answer the dogs question to Santa at the top of the post ...

... Ginger reckons eating all your dinner is all you have to do to be good.

Happy Christmas

Sue xx

Wednesday 23 December 2020

Blunders and Absurdities


It's not always that easy is it? 

 But I guess we should do the best we can.

It's that time of year when loose ends are being gathered in ... or chopped off, when you look back on the last eleven months and ponder over what might have beens and start thinking about them and the possible alternatives.  

Well I do anyway!!

But then there's the beauty of looking forward to a brand new year and the possibilities it holds, and the best bit ... starting to make plans.

I looked back over my Challenge blog earlier today and did the final update of the year long One Hundred Books Challenge, the year long Challenge that carried through all the other ones.  I didn't make my target of reading 100 books by a long shot but it was nice to tie up loose ends and add the link to my new blog at the end of it, and of course the book I'm currently reading ties in neatly with the new Challenge for 2021.

A Year of Modern Rationing

No doubt some 'blunders and absurdities' will creep into my new Challenge over the course of next year, but I really am going to give it my best shot.  Me and the girls are working out the final plans at the moment.

Sue xx

Monday 21 December 2020

New Holiday Traditions


Oh yes 🎄🎄🎄

And if they also involve watching favourite, much loved films that you have seen before and can just sink into so much the better.

This year more than ever we need traditions

 A little stability

And a lot of calm.

It's up to us to find it in the mundane and the every day

It is there

If you look

Sue xx

Sunday 20 December 2020

Impress Yourself

I have always chosen to walk a slightly different path, chopping and changing along the way adapting to a stage in my life, a whim or the weather.  But whatever, I have always impressed myself.

Life has never held me back, or indeed pushed me forward more than I could cope with, and it's always kept things fresh ... and kept me with so much to blog about over these past thirteen years whether of interest to my readers or purely as a history book for myself.

Sometimes change is good and sometimes stability is good, we are each and every one of us different and unique ... and that is the best thing of all.  

I think blogland gives us all a chance to share glimpses of our lives with our readers and fellow bloggers, posts and comments connect us and let us into a special club or group of people that love the connection and camaraderie.  There are always the few that take liberties, share a stroppy mood or are simply downright rude.  They get short shift here but appear on others blog comments sections with all their bad moods, warts and ugliness visible for all to see.

I have no idea what I'm blathering on about really but the message I want to convey is clear, in life whatever you do, do it to above all else impress yourself.  

Whether it's with some mind-blowing invention, a delicious recipe, a week of sticking to a diet or a keep fit regime, or whether it is simply getting out of bed and making that delicious cup of coffee that goes back to bed with you and gives you that first caffeine hit of the day.

Make today the day that you impress yourself with one thing and congratulate yourself on that.

And can I be the first to say ... Well Done  👍

There  is a real joy of missing out that I am rather weirdly savouring at the moment.

Sue xx

Friday 18 December 2020

It's All or Nothing


Sums me up in a nutshell

It's either all or nothing!!

Thanks for all the brilliant comments on the last post

You helped

You really did.

This morning I pulled my finger out and set to to lighten my mood ... and my hair ... in one fell swoop.  Long hair, on me makes me sad, so I had it all chopped off on Wednesday.  I was lucky that I could get an appointment as now in Wales all hairdressers and personal services will once again be closing on Christmas Eve and they are busy for Christmas and to combat this rush to bring locks under control before the close down.

  Having my three months of growth chopped off made my hair so naturally dark that I found it depressing.  Under certain lights it was okay but catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror every now and then over the past couple of days ... well it was just dark and dull.  My hairdresser had kept quiet about the colour of my hair a sure sign that she didn't like it, she always enthuses when I go in with blonder or lighter brown hair, so silence means a diplomatic 'bloody hell you've gone back to brown'.  It's not that she has ever coloured it and so is missing the cash, it's always been a done at home DIY job and she has no problem with that.  As it is she spends most of her time touching up the dark roots of the Welsh farmers wives that appear in her salon when the grey gets too much for them to bear, and she relishes chopping off my short, sharp and choppy hair and getting me back to neatness as a change in routine.

So now it's done, short and blondish, not super bright blonde but enough of a lightness to reflect my recovering mood and make me smile instead of sulk when a mirror jumps out and pounces on me.

In other news, we currently have a be-masked lady going round the house, measuring the rooms and drawing little sketches in her notebook ready to have a floor plan made.  Never mind making it easy for potential buyers to picture the layout of the house it will be nice for us to be able see it too, we didn't have one when we came to see it for the first time.  Forty pounds well spent if you ask me.

The rain is still falling, the fields opposite are under water ... but now I have my head firmly above it.  Onwards and upwards and planning my Challenge for next year, keeping busy and looking forward to heading back to my little flat for a few days.

Thank you.

Sue xx

Thursday 17 December 2020

Radio Times, Bleurgh and Laughing Maltesers

I sat and read through the Christmas Radio Times today.  I started it over a breakfast of coffee and Weetabix and then when I got back from the hairdressers I sat and read it over more coffee and a sneaky couple of Co-op Custard Doughnuts.

It usually makes me feel all festive and happy as I circle things I really want to see or to record for future watching, but this time my mood slipped and slipped until very unexpectedly I burst into tears.

Never has the Radio Times made me cry before!!

I feel I am living on the edge of something, or perhaps on the edge of lots of things.

I made myself stop snivelling and went outside and filled a barrow full of logs for the fire tonight, hoping the fresh air and physical activity would pull me up from this downward spiralling whatever.

I stood and looked at the twinkly Christmas lights at the front door for what must have been an age, just stood standing there ... to quote Nellie Pledge ... for far longer than was normal.  During the day they don't look that much, but at night they are pretty and twinkly and look amazing as you drive past the house.

I came back in had more coffee and did the puzzles in the Radio Times to get my brain working while I warmed up, it didn't make me cry again  ... bonus!! 

I'm glad I managed to get my hair cut, because the First Minister has just announced that hairdressers will once again be closing immediately after Christmas.  

I wish I could just curl up into a ball of fluffy duvet with a coffee machine at my side, Netflix on the television, my chocolate stash close by and an automatic dog walker to walk the dogs.

I also wish someone would invent vegan Maltesers, because Alan has gone away leaving a box of Maltesers in the fridge and every time I open it they laugh at me 😆

Sue xx


Wednesday 16 December 2020

Passing the Baton


At last ... a bit of blue sky and the rain has stopped!!

It's been dire since I set off from home to head home for Wales, don't worry my journey was totally allowable even considering lockdown restrictions as it is all work related, due to Alan being involved in something in London.  So I came back to Wales, picked him up and dropped him off at the train station and he headed down South.  Handing the baton of animal care over in one fell swoop and meeting no other living person in the process.

Being back and the non-stop rain was making me feel a bit blah ... hence I think my splurge pictured on yesterday's post.  God we all need a treat now and then ... and this was mine.

Now, as well as having enough treats to sink a battleship, the rain has stopped and there is blue sky.  I didn't know how long it would last so I dashed out with my camera to get photographic evidence.  Oh, how I would love a frosty, cold, white Christmas, it would see out our time here in Wales in style.  But I doubt it will happen.

The view this morning.  

The fields are still water-logged but there is grass visible and the works along the railway line, that took over a year to complete seem to have held out ... although to be honest I can't recall seeing a single train on the track since I have been back, so who knows!!

Our paddock is saturated but as we drain downhill the water runs off even though the ground is a boggy mire.  Suky hates it, little Puggy feet don't like getting wet and a walk around the edges of the field needs treats of enticement ... maybe it's all a ploy for treats and she secretly loves a good wallow in mud, who am I to know the answer!

The sheep have gone from our land, picked up on Sunday afternoon by Will, the shepherd and his son Taryan.  Five chubby this-years lambs off to over-Winter nearer to Will's home base and be fed on short grass and sheep nuts for the rest of the year.  Our fields will be rested until hopefully any new owner of this land will allow Will to graze his oddments on the grass that grows so plentifully because of all the rain.

It's a good arrangement that keeps the grass down and the land manured in a natural way.

In other news my signed copy of Miguel Barclay's new book arrived the other day.  

It's not a bad book, but to be honest I was disappointed that the recipes are now for FOUR people not the ONE that the other five books catered for, and the 'store-cupboard' banner is slightly misleading in that each recipe uses one or two store-cupboard items but then adds lots of other fresh things too.

So in my opinion it does not have the USP that the others have and like all my other recipe books I either have to do the maths and reduce my ingredients or find the space to store three more portions for future eating ... not easy to do when you have the freezer capacity of a biscuit tin.

*** *** ***

Edited to add:  The rain came back WITH A VENGEANCE.  The skies turned dark and the chickens ran back into the house.  Gloomy North Wales at it's best.  I think I HAVE to go to the shops to be in bright lights and Christmas music ... but first I'm booked in for a much needed haircut.

Sue xx

Tuesday 15 December 2020

Oops, I Got a BIT Carried Away ...


It's Christmas and the shops are full of so many treats

I was stuck at home and an email pinged into my inbox telling me I had a £10 off voucher still to be used

I like chocolate

I like sweeties

I have been so good for so long

I like getting parcels to unpack


Just a few of my excuses for going wild in the virtual aisles at The VeganKind Supermarket

I had calmed down a bit by the time the parcel arrived just 48 hours later ...

... GULP!!

At first I was shocked

Then I got the giggles

It was worth the order for the the giggles

It doesn't looks quite as bad neatly contained in a basket ... does it?

Suky seems to be telling me 'yep it's as bad, no matter how you package or condense it'.

On the plus side 

I will be sharing a few of the things

And I have come to the decision that whatever is leftover after Christmas will be my sweetie allowance for the whole year of modern rationing that is coming up.

I better go a bit easy at Christmas then  😄

Sue xx

Monday 14 December 2020

Sweet Caroline, Jam and Rain


Just brilliant!!  😁

My little advent calendar jams are going down a treat.  A different jam every time I'm in the mood for a sweet treat is lovely ... and there's a couple of marmalades that have appeared now too.

It's been a wet few days hasn't it?   I'm positively not enjoying being temporarily house-sitting in Wales while Alan has to work away.  Everywhere is completely waterlogged ... and the chickens are sulking!!

Sue xx

Saturday 12 December 2020

Measure Twice ...


You've heard that old saying 'measure twice cut once' haven't you, well I've just invented a new one for me ... 'check measurements woman, just bloody check!!'.

I bought a gorgeous set of corner shelves off Facebook Marketplace yesterday.  I asked the seller if they could deliver them as I knew anything bigger than an egg cup wouldn't stand a chance in my Fiat 500 and they agreed straight away, they were very local so I wasn't being too cheeky.

Scott and his girlfriend came yesterday lunchtime, him hunched in the driving seat of his Volkswagen something or other, with the back seats down and my new-to-me shelves pressing him forcefully into his steering wheel.  Between them they very kindly carried them in for me, with me social distancing and not helping much at all.  Then they left clutching their money and an extra fiver for delivery that I insisted they take.

It was only when I stood back and fully took in the shelves lying on their side in my hallway, with barely a few inches for me to walk by them that I realised the slight error of my ways.

I dragged them upright and pondered.

I walked around my little flat and took in all the corners, where would they go?

Moving what was originally in this corner out of the way and inching the shelves this way and that from the hall to the living room, I managed to get them into the corner, with just enough of an angle to avoid the radiator.  Pretty good actually I thought, this will do nicely.  

But the waist high, shallow corner shelves that thought I was buying they are most definintely not!!

'Mum ... remember to measure things next time!!'

They are gorgeous and the beautiful rounded back shows they are quite old, but very well looked after and renovated.   I'm loving them now that they are in-situ and hopefully by hook or by crook I can also fit them into my new even smaller home in a few months time.  If not, well Alan will have a couple of spare bedrooms that they will go in  😃

I'm also loving this bauble shaped Christmas plate that I picked up from the Sue Ryder charity shop the other day, it sits neatly on the shelf with my little American pick up truck which was also from there.  The plate was £3 reduced from £5 and the truck that I had hoped to buy for £7.99 before we went into the second lockdown was reduced to £4.99 as soon as they re-opened.  My bargain Christmas new additions for this year ... and they look lovely illuminated by my salt lamp on my new shelves.

Snippets of home.

Sue xx


Friday 11 December 2020

December Dark

And it is dark isn't it 

The nights draw in so quickly

And the mornings wake so late

Time to slow ourselves

To breathe 

To wind down the year

In a calm way

Niamh over at Fairyland Cottage has the right idea 💜

And so does The Cottage Fairy 💙

Just a couple of relaxing YouTube clips to enjoy whilst cradling a cup of coffee between your hands.

Sue xx


Thursday 10 December 2020

The Christmas Tree That ...


The Christmas tree that ... sums up 2020 to perfection.

Aldi supermarket in Garstang, I love the managers sense of humour 😄

I do hope that once the toilet rolls are taken down they are well shaken before they no doubt make their way into the staff toilets!!

Sue xx


Wednesday 9 December 2020

A Little Bit of Wartime Reading

I was asked for a close up of the top shelf of the bookcase that I showed on yesterdays post ... so here you are 😀 

It's my collection of wartime reading and ration cooking books, which I find really useful for budget or frugal recipes and which were mostly collected a couple of years ago when I did a Wartime rations Challenge and we both ate the same rations as a couple would have during World War Two here in the UK.  It was fascinating and taught us both a lot.

I am currently teetering on the edge of making it a year long Challenge for next year.  It was a healthy diet and a cheap one at that.  I really enjoyed doing it for the simplicity of the food, I guess I could give it a modern twist in some way if I did it for a full year.  We'll see.

Anyway ... here's a close up of the books.

If you click on any of the photos they will open up to a larger size for you to have a closer look.

The ones in the vintage drawer.

Inside the little basket are these wartime replica packs of leaflets, cards and postcards.

A tiny cookery booklet ...

... and of course my Ration Book  😊

Oh and I had this one on my bedside table so it missed being in the photos.

Hope that helps those of you who asked to see them in close up.  Do many of you have any of these books and an interest in this era?

Sue xx

Tuesday 8 December 2020

Books ... and My Little Christmas Treat

One job I was pleased to get done at the end of last week was to get most of the books I have brought with me from Wales onto the £8 car boot sale bargain bookcase.  

The bookcase was waiting to be painted before I filled it up with books, but in my bid to 'tidy' up the large spare bedroom here at the flat I had filled it's shelves with all sorts of detritus and I could never be bothered to empty it all again to begin painting.

Then I brought another bag full of books from Wales last time I had to go there and the other day I thought enough is enough time to put most of the books I have here in one place so I can see exactly what I do have.  So I completely emptied it, put away anything that wasn't a book, dragged it out into the hallway and collected together all of the books except the recipe books I have on the kitchen worktop.  Now I smile as I pass and my books/friends are back where I can see them numerous times during the day.

 Also as we have now found somewhere to buy here in Garstang and I sort of know the colour scheme I will be going for I have decided to hold off with the painting of it until I can have a big batch of my chosen shade of retro green made up again.  It's been eleven long years since I fell in love with this particular shade and I doubt I will ever tire of it.

My little Alien TV stand/bedding box will point you in the direction I am going, although this photo shows it looking slightly bluer than it is in the flesh and I think I will be warming the greenness of it a little bit more.

At the moment my new little narrow kitchen looks something like this ...

... just six foot wide and startlingly bright in shades of white and turquoise-y blue and I feel the need to tone it down and cosy it up.

I am really pleased that at the near end of the run of kitchen units there should be room for my beloved Welsh Bread and Cheese cupboard, which will then be the larder for all of my food supplies.  This will bring additional warmth into the place with it's lovely rich old pine.

Wow ... I veered off subject a bit there didn't I ... I was talking about books and I've given you a glimpse of my future!!  Well anyway the bookcase will most likely be painted green to bring colour to my new home as it's wood doesn't match anything else I have.  I'll do it once I have moved, or just before.

My little Christmas treat to myself is this Emma Bridgewater Christmas tree decoration sized jug, ordered at the same time as the two mugs but it took longer to come as I had it personalised .  And as I purposely chose it not to be too Christmassy it can stay out all year round  😀

Sue xx

Monday 7 December 2020

The Holly and the Ivy

The Holly and the Ivy in one spot together on the riverbank ... every bloody day when I pass it it gets the song in my head and I fight to shake it off for ages.  Very festive but very annoying ... although in a good way I guess.  😄

Fuelling me at the moment are simple meals made from simple ingredients.  

I made a gorgeous Potato, Quinoa and Chickpea coconutty curry for my tea yesterday but while I let the flavours develop more on that, there was a baked potato and homemade coleslaw for my lunch  I feel better for eating more nutritious food, but it's a vicious cycle isn't it, when you most need it you feel the least like making it.  I had to force myself out of a fug of eating all the packets and ready made things in the cupboards and actually get out some ingredients before they all went off.

A woman can not live off vegan sausage rolls and crisps for too long!!

Cheering me each day have been my Advent Calendars ... I know I'm just a great big kid 😁

But searching for the date, opening the little door and revealing a Christmassy image in one, a jar of jam or marmalade in the other and a little animated clip or cartoon in the Jacqui Lawson online one is making my day.  Finding the little Gonks is also proving fun and having them ding, dong and dance on the shelves of the Christmas holiday cottage makes me laugh, you won't know what on earth I'm on about if you haven't got this years calendar, I've not lost my marbles completely ... honestly!!

Sue xx