Saturday 30 October 2021

Inspiration for Decluttering


Inspiration for a good decluttering session can come from many places, personally just recently while I have been forced to take things easy ... so bloody easy ... I have been plonking myself in front of the television and watching YouTube videos from all over the world.

I grab a snack, as seen here a pitta bread pizza, or a big mug of coffee and tumble down a rabbit warren of many twists and turns.

I paid for and watched this particular film a few years ago and then last week found it again on YouTube.  It's something I would loved to have done if I had been able to when I moved into my new place ... not the naked bit though 😄  I think I would have started with just ten items and then added things over the course of six months.  It's fascinating to watch though and there was a Channel Four series that was based on this guys idea a few years ago, but I can't find any of that online.

Next I found this guy who set himself a challenge based on the My Stuff Video, equally as fascinating.

And then of course there are the original Minimalist guys and their  Less is Now and other documentaries on Netflix.

And of course things shift and change as you move through life, but these days I think most us would agree that we own far too much 'stuff'.  More than we need and more than our children or family will want to be left with once we are gone.  How easy life would be ... and here speaks someone who has just moved from a caravan, back to a house, into a flat and then into a lodge all in less than a year.  If I ever move again it WILL be with even less for sure.

Now I'm off to tumble down yet another rabbit hole, who knows what I will stumble across this time.

Have a great weekend.

Sue xx

Thursday 28 October 2021

Gearing Up for a Challenge

 I have decided that after I have just wiped out a massive proportion of my savings on a humongous purchase that will hopefully provide better for our futures than just money in the bank earning no interest  that I need to ground myself again and start building up the little cash pot that I have left. 

 So next year is going to be a pull in the belt and get back to basics type of year so I can bank a larger proportion of my wages each month.  If it all goes to plan it will be the year of The Teapot Challenge.

Those of you who have been reading along for a while know that I love a Challenge, and indeed I have another blog totally devoted to them although that has unfortunately been a bit neglected this year due to health events overtaking me.  So now I have decided it is time for me to start planning for the year ahead, well you have to have something to look forward to don't you!!

The Sealed Pot story started way back on my old blog Our New Life in the Country in 2011 and we have been using it in one form or another ever since.  My beautiful old enamel teapot took over from the Sealed Pot when the Sealed Pot were using then became too mangled to use.  Each year we would put change and sometimes £2 coins as well into the pot ready to have a grand opening on our anniversary each year, the contents were then used for various things and they have funded quite a few Challenges in the past.

This time whatever I already have in the pot and whatever I can add into it in the run up to and during next year, will be used to fund next years household spending for just me here at Lavender Lodge.  Money going into it will be acquired by selling stuff  that I no longer need or want, and after the move from the house in Wales and then from the flat, the slow filling of the Lodge as I unpack and rediscover stuff  has shown me that I have far too much.

I have been watching some brilliant YouTube videos and films that have inspired me to crack on and get back to a simplicity that I love and that makes me feel so much better.

The bag of coins in the photo above was the change that was in the teapot when we moved, bagged up so they didn't spill everywhere and that have been there since it's opening and counting last year, the notes I have somewhere safe ... I'll find them eventually 😄

The five pound note is from my first sale ... a bag of toiletries that I didn't want ... and the green enamel breadbin is awaiting pick up this morning.  It's only a fiver so you can see a bit of a theme developing here can't you ... virtually everything I sell will be five pounds, I want quick sales to get things out of the way!!  So if I can find twenty items to sell that will be another hundred to add to the teapot.

As one thing goes I add another to my Facebook Marketplace page to keep the numbers of things available manageable.  Just added to replace the breadbin are these jars ... fingers crossed for a sale soon.

I have decided that Facebook Marketplace is the way to go as I don't want to be faffing about posting things off.  This way people come to me to hand over their cash and take away my clutter.  We have also just heard of an indoor table-top sale nearby so we might have a table at that and share the proceeds.

She's just come for the breadbin ... so here's another £5 for the teapot.

It's going well up to now.

Sue xx

Wednesday 27 October 2021

Folded Tortillas


One of my favourite lunches or quick snacks at the moment is the Folded Tortilla hack that went viral a few months back on TikTok.  I resisted trying these at first as they seemed to be everywhere, then one day I just had bits and bobs in the fridge, nothing worthy of a good lunch on it's own and remembered that I had a pack of tortillas in the freezer so I decided I would give it a go.

It's been a revelation.

In my case while the wrap thawed out, I chopped my little piece of onion and two cherry tomatoes.

Then I made the slit from the centre of the circle to one edge and spread out a tablespoon of green pesto onto each tortilla.

This then gets folded over and your next ingredient goes on the next quarter, in my case it was the onion and tomato.  Then you fold again and add another ingredient, always trying to finish with your cheese or melty ingredient as this helps to stick the folded tortilla closed and make it a bit easier to eat.

The final stage is to fry in a little oil for about 4 or 5 minutes each side to make sure all the fillings are nicely warmed through.  It's a great way to use up bits and bobs and then can be made savoury or sweet.

Have you tried these yet?

Sue xx

Monday 25 October 2021

Parcels, Freebies and Eco Eggs


It was all deliveries on Saturday, I was up and down like a yoyo answering the door ... which is all good exercise I guess 😁

I do seem to have spates of ordering things and then go a long time before ordering anything else.  I'm thinking of taking a whole year off from any new purchases at all next year .... we'll see how that one goes then!!

In this particular box was my delivery of crisps and my new Eco Egg, something I've been keen to try for a while but I was working my way through my last Smol order.  With the next delivery of Smol not due until 1st November I thought it a good time to try out the Egg.  I'll let you know how it goes this week, the first load is in as I type.

Also arriving on the same day was my 'free gift' for signing up for the Country Living subscription, and I must say I was pleased with this.  Although the calendar is a bit wishy washy for my liking, the diary and the Christmas 'extra' magazine are very good.  I was expecting the 'extra' to be a supplement, but it's a full blown Christmas magazine which will be in the shops at £6.99 nearer to Christmas.

There was also a new rechargeable torch for Alan, I ordered it to come to me as I have Amazon Prime so all my deliveries are next day and free.  One of our other ones died a sad death just before the move and at this time of year you need a good strong pocket-sized torch for dog walks and picking up purposes  😉  

The final thing via the postman was Gingers monthly flea and tick treatment, which is on subscription from Pets at Home.

My Country Living goodies.

And my crisps.  I found I still had one pack left from the last order when I went to put the new ones away.  I order these via Amazon now as Ten Acre have stopped selling direct to the public and Booths have stopped stocking them at all 😞

It's hard to find a good cheese and onion dairy free crisp, and these are the best ones I have found up to now.  Even the BOSH boys vegan Kettle Crisps pale into insignificance beside Ten Acre.

I had two more deliveries last week that I will have to show you another time, let's just say my teeth are itching at the very thought of these.

Sue xx

Friday 22 October 2021

It's a Bit of a Book Week


It really has been a bit of a book week this week, first I got my pre-order of Nigel Slater's latest offering ... and isn't that cover just glorious.  I love Nigel's writing and his recipe books aren't just recipes they are reminiscences and essays that carry you through his books until you are in a different world.  A world where you want to go into the garden to snip a sprig of rosemary and then nip to the lovely old fashioned corner shop for a pound of freshly made sausage links and a pouch of coffee beans.  Then you come to your senses, make a Nescafe, grab a biscuit and sink once more into his words.

The second new book was my pre-order of my former Blogging Buddy Elaine's book A Horse, a Husband and Cancer.  A poignant book that has been sat by my side waiting to be read since it fell through the letterbox, but I need to prepare myself for this one.  We were inconstant communication via Facebook, Messenger and via our blogs for so many years that to not have her any more, and to only have her words is hard.

Sadly she lost her battle with cancer on 5th January this year, but boy oh boy did she put up a good fight over all those years.  Her husband Mark carried on her blog (same title as the book she was already part through writing, and which is on my sidebar ... as she has been since her Ted and Bunny days were listed on my old blog Our New Life in the Country) telling the end of her story as was her wish and so many of us read along each week through blurred, teary eyes.  Now all I see are her comments popping up almost daily on my Facebook Memories page, on jokes shared that remind me of our similar wacky and at times totally irreverent humour.

The book will sit close to me until I can bring myself to read it, there is no rush.

The final book this week ... the Christmas at Booths annual offering.  

A freebie that is far too good to be given away in such huge quantities in the stores, but one that I pick up every year without fail.  Although this year I went through it carefully and counted the vegan offerings ... 17 if I have counted correctly, and most of those were fruits and vegetables.  Would I buy it if there was a charge ... I doubt it.

But I will pass it on to a neighbour rather than popping it into the paper recycling bin, it's far too good to be flicked through only twice (once by me and once by Alan) and then discarded.

And now I have to fight the urge to buy more books, oh the thrill of opening a fresh new book, it's hard to resist!!

Sue xx
Bookaholic Extraordinaire

Thursday 21 October 2021

Shopping, Bagels and a Frugal Tip

Alan gave me a lift to the opticians yesterday morning, I had to sign an NHS form to allow them to claim for all the emergency tests they did on my eyes last month.  The were brilliant considering I hadn't even been signed up with them yet since we moved into town.  I got a same day emergency appointment and had every test possible run on my eyes and temporary glasses prescribed.  

Anyway I digress, while he was waiting for me Alan picked up a pie for his lunch and a ham hock for his tea from the pie shop a few doors down, and then we both called into Sainsbury's as we have to pass it on the one way system to get home.  Three birds with one stone ... it just had to be done while the rain poured and we were out anyway.

I bought a few things that I had run out of and then I spotted the Meatless Farm Mince, I've not had that since I did This Challenge in June of last year.  I remember it being very good and as it was on offer I decided to buy myself some and make a few meaty dishes,

I was also tempted by my favourite bagels being on special offer and bought a bag.  When we got back I gave one to Alan for his elevenses ... well you have to pay the ferryman and all that 😀😄

I popped one for me into the toaster and while the kettle boiled I sliced the others to pop into the freezer.

Sliced first and then frozen you can then take out as many halves as you want for a snack and you don't run the risk of slicing through your finger while trying to halve a full frozen bagel.  And if you stack them this way they don't stick together while they freeze.

This is one money saving tip I have given a few times over the years, but I was recently asked by a new reader to repeat some frugal tips ...  so here's the first one, I'm happy to oblige.

Well the goods just had to be sampled didn't they, so it was time for a second breakfast 😄

Something to watch over a nice cup of coffee and a bagel, that might help you understand why I don't eat meat.  I love Those Vegan Guys, it must be the accents reminding me of my roots. 💚

Sue xx

Tuesday 19 October 2021

An Offer Too Good To Miss ...?


An offer too good to miss ... well it was for me anyway!!

I was in Booths the other day picking up a couple of much needed supplies and I decided to treat myself to the November edition of Country Living.  In it was this flyer, now usually I don't bother reading any inserts they go straight into the paper recycling bin, but this one caught my eye.  I used to buy Country Living every month and I had a few years of it on subscription at one point too.  Then I stopped ... at £4.99 a copy, although it's cheaper than some other magazines it's still a lot of money for something with lots of adverts in, even if some of them are glossy 'advertisement features'.

Anyway I read through the blurb and decided that I would buy myself an early Christmas present.  A years worth of Country Living for £2.49 a copy and a 'free' CL Diary, CL calendar and Christmas Special.  If I'm enjoying it by this time next year I may let the direct debit run and get another year of the magazine at £3.49 a copy or if not I will just cancel.

I've shared the photo of the flyer in case any of you want to take advantage of this offer too, although it's only open to UK residents unfortunately.  And here is a link to the webpage to make things easier -  Country Living.  (I went for the Best Deal £29.94 option.)

Sometimes you just have to treat yourself it's the law 

... okay, okay I might have just made that one up 😉😄😄

Thanks for all the lovely comments yesterday, I won't mention my back again until I have more news,  but it was nice to feel all the support from you lovely lot yesterday.

Sue xx

Monday 18 October 2021

Am I the Only One ...


Image from Google Images - BBC Good Food - Porridge Bowl

Am I the only one who looks at a bowl of 'porridge' like this and thinks 'for God's sake just give me a bowl of porridge ... please'.

Google Images - Stock photo

Just nice warming, plain porridge made with water in my case but occasionally with a splash of almond milk to finish.  Some days I do take the more healthy road and add a sliced banana or a dollop of apple sauce but I make sure that gets eaten up in the first few spoonfuls so that I can finish on a nice plain porridge taste.

A Health Update

I thought I'd do a quick one-off health update as lots of you have been very kindly enquiring about my health, and I have now finally got the results of the x-rays I had a month ago.  They had not been forwarded to my doctors office but after managing to get a telephone appointment and speaking to him last Thursday he sent for them immediately and then I had a face to face consultation for over half an hour the next day - yes actually in the surgery with a doctor!!

Basically my initial problem was with L5 (circled in green) and started with stress tissue damage and inflammation causing damage to the vertebrae.  This then led to my muscles reacting and protecting that area which in turn caused a fracture higher up in my back T12 (red circle).  This has now collapsed and is triangular shaped instead of being square.

I am really lucky that the radiologist at the hospital noticed the now very pronounced curve to my back and made a point on one of the three x-rays taken, of x-raying higher up than he had been instructed to.  This cleverly captured both the fracture that was higher up as well as the damage in the lumber area that he had been asked to x-ray.  If he hadn't done that I would now be waiting for an x-ray on the thoracic area of my spine.  It's nice when people work together to save the NHS time and money.

I am also very lucky in that the particular doctor that I have been talking to and finally saw on Friday also works at a specialist spinal clinic, as seemingly GPs these days cannot request MRI scans but in his position at the clinic he can.  I am now waiting to hear firstly about a DEXA scan and then afterwards if necessary an MRI.  This is to see if I have osteoporosis, which is quite likely as my Mum has it and possibly my gran also had it.  So more waiting but this time with more painkillers and at least knowing that the doctor finally knows most of the extent of my problem.

While I wait I am doing everything I can to help myself including a healthy diet, mild exercise, lots of rest, losing weight and learning to meditate.  The latter will help with my high blood pressure as all the tablets up to now that the doctor has tried me on have given me serious side effects that meant I had to stop them.  All this off my own bat but now with the doctors full agreement.  There now I've turned into a moaning about my health type of blogger - BUM!!

Anyway enough about all that .... what is your opinion on porridge?


Sue xx

Sunday 10 October 2021

The Changing of the Seasons


No matter what this late in the year warmth and sunshine is telling us at the moment, it really is the time of the year to bring out the woolly pullies and stash away the lightest of Summer clothes.  Even in the unusual warmth of this years October it just feels wrong to me to be wearing light, bright colours so the only t-shirts I have left out are the more muted shades and the darker stripes that will see me through Autumn and Winter as an additional layer under cardigans, jumpers or fleeces.

So the other day the big swap around was done, well it's not really that big this time, just one drawer to empty of t-shirts and light tops and a few hangers to pull shirts off and then a quick switch over to jumpers and cardigans.

All the tops and shorts in good condition ... and that was most of them ... were quickly popped into the storage bag that the jumpers had come out of and in a flash of the hoover sucking the air out they were ready to be stashed under the bed.  The couple of t-shirts that were past their best were relegated to the 'sleeping in' pile in the drawer next to my bed.  No doubt in a few months they will be downgraded once more to the 'nice soft duster' pile.

Thank goodness for a little bit of secret storage!!

You would never know anything had changed 😃

Sue xx

Friday 8 October 2021

Lazy Week, Cosy Afternoons


It's been a lazy type of week, my ongoing health problems keep me in most of the time, but this week we did go out on Tuesday to Poulton le Fylde to get Alan measured for a couple of new suits.  He needs to be very smart for work on the occasions when he has to venture into the office or to meetings, working mostly from home means jeans and t-shirts even when on secure line meetings, when visibility with other attendees at the meetings is a personal choice.

Anyway we found parking close to the tailors so I managed the couple of hundred yards walk to the shop, and very handily the carpark we were in was adjacent to a Wetherspoons so it would have been rude not to stop and have a spot of lunch.  We must remember to time the visit to pick up the finished suits with lunchtime ... the meals we both had were very tasty and very well cooked 😃

Yesterday I somehow came across a totally new to me YouTube channel.  Although it is in Russian most of the videos, of which there are only a few at the moment, have English subtitles.  The gentle music and the Summerhouse home that Daryadarcy is creating was absolutely lovely to watch and to relax into.

Although every time her beautiful cat came on the screen Mavis got a little excited.  After a while she settled down to watch with me, cocking her head to one side whenever the cat appeared on screen.

YouTube Link for anyone watching on phone etc.

Click on the photo to have a little watch yourself and you will realise why I found it so enthralling and relaxing.  She has a very similar taste in vintage and also re-using the things that she found when they bought the little summerhouse to me.  I have included the written link for anyone watching on a mobile device.

It was nice to sit and watch yesterday on a gloomy Thursday teatime, and seeing all that pretty china being broken up for the splashback it somehow reminded me that I had yet to unpack my shopping bag full of Beryl ware that was languishing in Alan's spare-room.

I knew I had one of my pretty plates missing!!

Sue xx

Monday 4 October 2021

Do I Still Do the Things?


The fridge is fuller after a weekend shopping trip you can stop worrying about me now  😉

Someone asked me the other day if I still do 'the things that I used to do'.  

The short answer is Yes.

I still drink my coffee black, still eat the same foods, in this case yellow stickered strawberries with my morning Weetabix.

I still pick up the unused sachets etc if we eat out and don't use all the condiments.  This was from a couple of weeks ago.

And this from yesterday.

If we need anything from Dunelm ... and this week I needed a Winter-weight duvet for my bed ... we tend to go first thing on a Sunday morning.  Before getting our shopping we usually treat ourselves to a coffee in the café and for the last few months you have been able to buy a bacon bun for just a pound with each cup of coffee.  Now obviously I don't eat bacon but we still take advantage of the offer and get one each,  Alan then moves the four slices of bacon from one bun and adds them all to the other.  Meaning he is getting a well filled bun and a lot less carbs, which is the best thing for a diabetic.  

Well you know me rather than seeing a bread roll go to waste I scoop it up along with any other condiments and take it home wrapped in a poly bag if I've remembered or a serviette if I haven't.  I usually have a couple of twin packs of Lotus Biscoff biscuits in my bag so I have them with my coffee.

Yesterday we called to Aldi on the way back for a bit of shopping so I treated myself to a tube of Stackers, their version of Pringles, to go with the bun.  Which once home was filled with cheese, spring onion, mayo and iceberg lettuce.  It was a lovely lunch eaten while watching back to back episodes of Martin Clunes in Manhunt, series two.  Gripping stuff for a Sunday afternoon.

So the answer to the question is most definintely yes I still do all the things I have always done, eat the mostly the same things, buy yellow stickered bargains when I see them, pick up the spare condiments and binge watch pre-recorded programmes on the television so I can whizz through the adverts and not have to wait until the next day or week to see the next episode.  

I'm sure there's a lot more things that I 'still' do, but at the moment there are a lot of things that I can't do because of my ongoing health issues, which is very frustrating but I am working on things slowly but surely and I can see a glimmer of light at the end of this long tunnel.

Sue xx

Friday 1 October 2021

October is Here


Wow, October is here already ... how the bloody hell did that happen?

If one more person asks me what I'm doing for Christmas I'll scream!!
(And YES that includes YOU Alan 👉)

Summer is almost completely packed away here, although there has been some preparation for next year to lighten my mood and give me the hope of actually doing some growing once again.  My posh new raised bed was built last weekend and was filled with the compost and manure that we already had waiting and there are three more bags to top it up to the top with in Alan's car boot.  These will just be placed on top as they are so that all the nutrients don't get washed away by a Winters worth of rain.

There has been some homegrown food this year thank goodness, our little apple tree gave us three apples, which were very unexpected considering the transplanting and waiting around in it's pot for so long, but very welcome.  Alan had two of them and made a pie and I have this one in my fridge.  And we have had a constant stream of Courgettes from the three plants I grew in pots while we were still at the flat and transplanted into the flower bed when we moved here ... oh and a couple of marrows when we didn't spot a courgette in time for it to qualify as such!!

It's a good job we have something homegrown as my fridge is a bare and desolate waste ground at the moment, that's what happens when you get used to living with a tiny fridge and suddenly you have SPACE to expand your horizons. 

 Don't worry it will be filled once I go shopping ... and you know I have a bit of a larder of tins and dried food  😉

Sue xx