Tuesday 30 November 2021

When You Run Out of Words


I had a totally blank mind yesterday about what to write in a blog post ... so I wrote out some Christmas cards instead and got a parcel off in the post.  Oh well that was productive!!

Today is not much better so I thought I would pinch Sue's idea from the other day and trawl through my archives to see what I got up to on this day last year.  Seemingly I was in a very thoughtful mood, just click on the date to go straight to the post.

This year has felt like another year of lockdown for me, only this time it is even more frustrating with limitations and so much pain.  Things can only get better.  I wonder what happened the year before, lets have a look ...

Seemingly NOTHING!!  ZILCH!!

The year before though saw me showing off some charity shop purchases, out of the six I only have the pale pink flowery one packed away with my Summer clothes, the rest were re-donated after a few months.

And that's as far back as this blog goes. 

Now if I go way back all the way to 2010 on my Our New Life in the Country blog, the post was recording a lovely day ... one that is well worth remembering.

The beauty of a writing a blog is that you have an online diary right at your fingertips, meaning you get to relive all the good times, or the bad, whenever you are in the mood.

Or when you temporarily run out of new words to say  πŸ˜„

Sue xx

Saturday 27 November 2021

Weekend Watching - 4


I've been a real home-bird this week.  

My back is very sore and although I am trying to keep as active as possible sometimes you just have to give in and vegetate in front of the television.  I've been watching quite a random selection of things, so I thought I'd do another little taster selection for you.  Do let me know if you are finding this boring, but it's nice for me to have a reminder of what I've been watching too.

Sunny's videos are a really calming way to spend five or so minutes, and I love the unusual foods she sometimes prepares ... and Mavis LOVES her rabbit and watches fascinated as it munches it's way through a bowl of lettuce leaves.

Eamon and Bec make for happy viewing with their positive outlook on life and all the adventures they get up to, there are no nice pets for Mavis to drool over but lots of happy times and good vegan food thrown together effortlessly by Eamon for me to watch.  

I've watched all their videos right back to them kitting out Trinity and travelling for the first time.  The cabin in Canada renovations were outstanding and they really do seem to work so hard to get themselves to where they want to be.  No wonder they are now heading towards a million subscribers.

This years John Lewis advert, I hadn't seen this on the television so I had to look for it on YouTube.  I don't think it's as good as previous years but it's nice in it's own way.  However ... I much prefer this one  ↓

Which is also raising money for charity.

And finally let's get back to some food ...

The Happy Pear's Vegan Butter Curry, now I really have to try this one, it looks and sounds delicious ... well apart from the mushrooms but I can substitute something else for them ... it was the idea of the sauce that grabbed me.

I hope you have a lovely weekend and manage to stay warm in the forecasted colder snap we are heading into here in the UK.  Me ... I'm staying cuddled up to a certain little Pug with some good television, copious cups of coffee and maybe a few little treats.  

Sue xx

Thursday 25 November 2021

Dearer, Cheaper, Larger, Smaller


Out shopping the other day in Sainsbury's I noticed that my usual coffee was on sale again.  

It used to go on sale regularly, £4 for the 300g jar size instead of it's more usual price of £7 and whenever it did I would stock up enough to last me until the next round of sale offers ... I usually manage to stay ahead of the game.  This time although it's still a good reduction the sale price has gone up to £4.50 for the same sized jar.  As you can see I bought four, saving me £10 on my four jars ...a saving still well worth having, but just another instance of sneaky rising prices that are going up in leaps and bounds rather than the pennies and pence they used to.

The £2 I didn't save this time could have bought me  5 packs of 40p spaghetti ... something that is for now still the same price, it shows the difference price hikes can make to a persons budget.

I was putting a newish pack of little biscuits into my jar the other day when I noticed the size difference to the ones I already had in there.  I can't remember how much I paid for the new pack as they have been in the larder cupboard for a while as I ate my way through the old ones.  But what's the guessing this size jump to the new larger size was done to completely baffle us in working out which is actually better value when we are in a rush in the shops.  The pack with fewer small packs inside but larger biscuits or the original with smaller biscuits but more packs   I do usually check the edge of shelf labels for  price comparisons,  it's the only way to get any sort of idea usually but these were bought quite a while ago.  Oh well, at least I have bigger biscuits to dunk in my coffee when I'm out and about.

All these foodie thoughts and price comparisons (and watching Miguel Barclay on YouTube this morning) made me realise just how much I was missing my Challenges recently.  I really do have to figure something out ready for the New Year.  I have my enamel teapot filling up nicely and the money it contains by the end of the years will hopefully fund whatever Challenge or Challenges I decide to do. 

What sort of Challenge would you like to see if you could choose any one or more to set me?

Sue xx

Monday 22 November 2021

Meanwhile Out in the Garden


Alan bought himself an early Christmas present yesterday.

He's always loved feeding the wild birds but back in Wales we had no reason to put out fat balls or bird feeders with seeds or peanuts as all the local wildlife just mucked in with the chickens eating all of the mentioned directly from Chicken World.  Now with our own little town garden we are slowly making it more wildlife friendly and getting in supplies for the little birdies seemed a good step. 

We already have the little drinkers for the birds and the old stainless steel sink from the kitchen as a pond ... and of course they have the canal just over the fence ... so food for the birds was the next logical step now that Winter is almost upon us.

Obviously we will have to keep an eye on Ginger as those little platforms temporarily holding fat balls ... put there to discourage him ... just look like little cat platforms to me!!  I honestly thought it would take a month or so for the birds to find this and be comfortable feeding from it, and with the washing hanging outside yesterday wafting in the breeze I thought this would put them off too, but by last night half of one of the fat balls was gone ... I'm just waiting to see if a seagull will carry one off  πŸ˜„

Round the corner the little shed and the raised bed have settled in nicely ...

... and something that has really surprised me is how happy this Spider plant is outside.  I was going to bring it in yesterday but it is the healthiest it's ever looked and it's been out there since the shed was finished.

I'll keep an eye on it and probably bring it in at the first frost, unfortunately it will have to go into Alan's as I have no more room for plants here ... so that will sound it's death knell then!!

Sue xx

Saturday 20 November 2021

Weekend Watching - 3


Sometimes on these cold, dreary November Days it's nice to come in from the shops, hang up your coat, then put the kettle on while you grab a packet of biscuits and sit down in front of the television or computer screen for a bit of relaxing screen watching time.

So here is something for your weekend entertainment, just a couple of the things that I've been watching this week.

I Found New York's Smallest Loft... and It's Cheap - YouTube

Find somewhere to live in New York with Cash Jordan ... some of these apartments and town houses are amazing.  And I could quite happily live in lots of the tiny ones ... I think I would need one with a little balcony though.

THE CORNWALL VLOG feat. cornish pasties, ice cream, beaches and more - YouTube

Grace Booth on Extra Grack, her second channel ... the first is called Grackle.  Just a young girl that brings a breath of fresh air to YouTube.  Not in the usual 'Influencer' mode at all.  Throughout me being forced to rest so much she has been something that I could just have on while I ate my dinner or just vegged on the sofa and I have managed to watch virtually every video she has made on this channel.  Also Mavis is in love with Banksy, her cat.

Scrumdiddlyumptious, just music, food preparation and easy watching, quite fascinating and good for ideas even if some of the actual recipes are HUGE or just not my cup of tea.

Sopherina, a channel with lots of food taste tests and food shopping hauls.  Sophie and her lovely hubby and now joined by their new baby Orin have just started off their annual Christmas taste tests of all the new things available our favourite supermarkets.  It's nice to watch to see what's available in the shops and just pick up on their happy joie de vivre.

Hope you enjoy a little watch at some point over the weekend.  I'll make it my mission to find you some more for next week.

Have a great weekend.

Sue xx


Friday 19 November 2021

Reaching for the Light ... and My Results for Mum


My spider plant loves it on top of the larder cupboard and really reaches for the light from the Velux window.  I wish I could reach up so high but even watering this is now out of question and once every two weeks I ask Alan to lift it down and give it a drink.   I could of course move it somewhere lower, but it loves it's new position so it can stay reaching for the light as long as it's happy.

Google image.

And the reason I can't reach upwards is my back.  

I promised my Mum I would post pictures showing the results of my MRI scan on Sunday so here is a Google image that I have added  circles to to show where the fractures and nerve impingements are.  This first image shows the original fracture that showed up on the X-ray a couple of weeks ago in red and the original painful area from back in May when all this trouble started circled in green.

And here is the updated version with the original T12 fracture circled in red as it is classed as severe, then there are three other fractures that showed up on the MRI and classed by the radiologist and the MSK team as mild to moderate.  

The two red stars are at L5 (original injury) and L1 and these are nerve impingements.

I have now been told to wait to be contacted by the Spinal Care team at The Royal Preston Hospital, so I will keep you ... and my Mum ... informed as soon as I have any more treatments news.

Sue xx

This blog post will self-destruct in one week .... I hate medical stuff 

Thursday 18 November 2021

Christmas is Coming ... Just Do It YOUR Way


Christmas is coming in at us at a pace this year.  

The Christmas ads are urging us to spend, spend, spend more than ever before.  Seemingly because of last year we are all being encouraged to spend twice as much this year.  Yes, we were 'confined to barracks' so to speak, but most of us managed to muddle through with the help of alcohol, food and television.  Do we really need twice as much money spent or food to eat this year?  Now I actually like watching Christmas adverts on the whole, after all they make a pleasant change from insurance, funerals and charities begging for just £2 of your money once a month for life to save all the poor little doggies ... for God's sake spend the £50,000 the advertising has cost you ON the actual doggies!! Sorry for the little side rant, where did that come from!!  What I was going to say was at least they show happy families, nice food and glamourous people in evening attire doing ridiculous things clutching bottles of perfume.  How the other half live eh!!

But the pressure on parents must be enormous these days, it seemed bad enough when my two were little all those years ago and I remember spending more money than I should have at the last minute due to advertising pressure.  But spending the following weeks child benefit and thus the food shopping money on a couple of extra gifts for each of them to open under the Christmas tree never made them happier or made Christmas 'more special'.  What made it special was time with us, playing games together, visiting their grandparents and playing snooker with Uncle Graham.  Those are the memories that they treasure now in their 30s and 40s.  (It always shocks your opponent when you play snooker or pool left-handed and you are a right-handed person ... those lessons were worth it!)

And while I understood the need for sparkle and early fairy lights last year why are there so many houses fully decorated already ... and I hasten to add a lot of these have been up and twinkling through windows in the dark of the evening since October. 

 Pumpkins and Christmas Trees a lovely double celebration ... gosh it must get confusing πŸ˜πŸ˜‚

Of course there are those that say this ☝

And yes you are more than entitled to your opinion, but I am firmly in the camp of at least wait until the 1st December.  I mean think of the layers of dust .... or do you actually dust your Christmas tree?  I mean I see December as the once a year month I have off from dusting, I just lay out a garland, stand cards on every surface and warn everyone NOT to write their names in the dust or Santa will be cross. πŸŽ…

But my main message is, no matter what everyone else says ... me included ... do Christmas your way and resist pressure to spend more than you can afford to spend.  If you have thousands in the bank and no other use for it, ignore all the frugal bloggers making Christmas crackers out of newspaper and trees out of twigs and wrapping gifts they bought in the January sales and just blow it on all the Christmas things we are told we need and have to have to enjoy the holiday season, the Christmas bedding, the cushions, the crockery, the magazines, the Advent calendars, the excessive gift buying BUT and yes it is that great big but ... if you don't have that much just keep things simple.

Watch the Christmas movies, you know the ones that started on the Christmas Movie Channel and Channel 5 on 1st October and ones that make you go 'awww' when the girl always gets the guy, the dog always get a new home, and Santa always saves the day.  Read the books ... the charity shops always have lots of brilliant children's Christmas books at this time of year.  Have a games day, or a Harry Potter marathon movie watching day with popcorn and hot chocolate.  In short do the things that make the memories ... one day in the future that could be what you treasure the most.

When asked a few years ago about his favourite childhood memories of Christmas Day, one of my sons said it was the year we got wrapped up and walked on the beach in the afternoon and thought we were in quicksand when it got boggy, but his Dad saved the day and rescued us.  The Game Gear that we had maxed out the credit card to buy was third on the list ... second place went to the mint flavoured Vienetta that we had instead of Christmas pudding.

It puts a lot into perspective doesn't it!!

Sue xx

Tuesday 16 November 2021

Scanners and Birthdays

Photo of Mobile MRI Scanner from Google Images

Well I finally went for an MRI scan on Sunday evening, a very strange experience I must say and something I hope I don't ever have to repeat.  But isn't technology wonderful, and the thought of this particular scanner being driven all around the UK is amazing.  I have overtaken one on the motorway before but never realised the complexity of the inside.  This is the exact layout of the one I was in.

Photo of Mobile MRI Scanner from Google Images

I should get the results as soon as my GP gets them which according to the radiologist will be in two to four weeks.  I'll carry on with the painkillers in the meantime, and being super careful.  We rounded the evening off with a coffee and a takeaway at my younger sons house in Blackpool, which was where I went to for the scan.  It's good when there's somewhere friendly to go after a very strange experience.

In other news it's my eldest grandson's 22nd birthday today ... gosh don't they conspire to make you feel old!!

 He's a great man and a crazy, happy Dad to his son Mason ... yep, I'm a great granny!!  Shortly to be two times over as one of my other grandsons and his partner are expecting a little girl in March.  Doesn't seem that long since they were all at school, where do the years go?

Sue xx

Friday 12 November 2021

Weekend Watching 2


Sometimes a Saturday morning just has to start with a bacon butty, and these 'No-Pork Streaky Bacon Rashers' from Aldi are a pretty tasty occasional breakfast, and they make the lodge smell gorgeous as they cook ... Alan falls for it every time I cook them and thinks I've gone back to the 'dark-side'.

No little piggies were harmed in the making of this meal ... now why did Spellcheck want to change that to Pygmies?  πŸ˜„πŸ˜†

Half of the pack of the rashers and two slices of bread gave me enough for a tasty breakfast with a few little pieces left over for the dogs, who are convinced that Mum has the real deal and want their share of the bacon breakfast.

And it's nice to eat my breakfast while I'm watching YouTube clips of other breakfast ideas for future days.

And ever since doing the Ration Challenge a couple of times I love parathas and I make them at least a couple of times a month.  Watching them being made here by someone more expert than me was really relaxing.  They are just a layered flatbread by any other name ... and they have lots of names depending on which national cuisine you are visiting.

And it's always nice to have a look at someone else's small living space, in this case over 200sq ft larger than mine.  What is it about small living spaces that intrigues so many of us so much?

Something else I've done this week in-between watching numerous YouTube clips and the second series of Killing Eve on iPlayer, is to sign up for and start playing with this years Jacquie Lawson online Advent Calendar ... possibly the best £3.70 I spend all year.  This years looks as beautiful as last years, and with the room to decorate and all the games to play you can start enjoying it immediately.  I still have last years saved on my computer and I've been playing the games all year when I'm waiting for something to download or just fancy a little play.

I might just go and decorate my virtual Christmas Tree while I wait for the kettle to boil ... it's coffee time.  πŸ˜€πŸŽ„

Sue xx

Wednesday 10 November 2021

Hidden ... and Not So Hidden


Living in a small space means that some things just cannot be hidden.  When I'm making full use of the sunshine through the French doors even though the rain is pouring down outside, the washing is there for anyone to see ... lucky then that's it's usually just me.  πŸ˜€

Somethings are not exactly what they seem, and storage is found and used in many ways.  The little green chest holds my collection of Beryl Ware pottery, the red flour-bin is full of packets of desiccated coconut, ground almonds and sweeties.

And hidden in the basket are crisps, ready to bake bread rolls and my potato bag.

You never know what you are going to find hidden away!!

In full line of vision the other day ... just after Alan assembled it ... was Ginger, trying the bottom shelf of the new office shelves for size.  He loves to watch the world go by on Alan's window sills and now it seems he loves to watch Alan work from his brand new vantage point.

Sue xx

Monday 8 November 2021

Just a Few Books


On the last post Heather asked me what the books were under my plant on the sideboard, so I thought it would be easiest just to show a photo.

There are a few more on the shelves to the left of the television, and a few more in the cupboard below, which I forgot to photograph!

There's a handful on top of the bookcase in the bedroom.

Here are two of the shelves below that little pile ...

... and here's the best shot I could get of the bottom shelf.  

There not much of a gap between the bed and the bookcase, and I'm not that good at manoeuvring at the moment!!

Walking back into the living room I spotted these on the little green shelves.

And then of course there are my favourite cookbooks all waiting and ready for action in the kitchen.

And one final book ... one that was recommended by Margie from Toronto one day last week and that spiked my intrigue straight away.  I thought it would be an ideal book to read just before I start on my not buying year next year.  So that is waiting for me on the shelf above the radiator in the living room.

I do like to have my friends all around me ... have you got your books dotted all around the house or are yours neatly on shelves in a specific space?

Either way I do hope you love books as much as I do ... Sue I know you do  πŸ˜ƒ

Sue xx

Saturday 6 November 2021

Weekend Watching


Ginger is turning into an avid television watcher, usually it's from the sofa but yesterday he took things to a whole new level and got up close and personal with Cottage Fairy.

I think it will be another sofa day today, just hopping up every now and then to keep things moving but it's grey and very cold outside so me and the animals are going to keep cosy with YouTube, coffee and sweets.

Amy has just posted a new video so that will be my first stop once the kettle has boiled.  Does anyone else find someone they like watching and then have a good old binge-watch.  I've been subscribed to Freakin Frugal for a long time now and it's quite addictive watching the amount of food they manage to stop going to landfill.  Feeding your family for free, now there's a good incentive to climb into a dumpster/skip.  Unfortunately it's illegal in the UK as all supermarket dumpsters are on private property and usually behind locked gates ... drat!!

Yesterday I watched half of the first series of Killing Eve on BBC iPlayer,  I meant to just watch the first one and then got a bit carried away ... oops  πŸ˜„

Of course there's someone lots of us bloggers know that has got a very popular YouTube channel now ... Frugal Queen.   Called Frugal Queen in France she gives lots of her hints and tips for continued frugal living now that she and Mike have both retired to the countryside.  There are some brilliant recipes shown including this latest one, and with over 10.5 thousand subscribers she's doing really well.

So while I get stuck in with some watching I thought I would share some of what I'm seeing with you, just in case your weekend is looking to be as grey and chilly as mine.

My son is out delivering heavy machinery, so the only thing he'll be watching is the road.πŸ˜€

Have a great weekend. 

Sue xx

Thursday 4 November 2021

Flat Packed Christmas Trees and Mashed Potatoes


My first Advent calendar arrived one day last week.

I ordered mine from The Vegan Kind an online supermarket, you can check out the website here if you are interested  -  if you go over using this link you will get £10 off your first order  https://prz.io/y4AdPJUp

It's one of two brilliant vegan sweet companies that I frequent a little bit more than perhaps I should😎  ... but this one does do a wonderful range of proper food too with delivery straight to your door.  

I decided to avoid getting a chocolate one this year as I have quite a lot of chocolate in the fridge at the moment which should last me to Christmas and beyond.  Instead I went for this one. but I didn't realise for some reason ... I should have seeing the shape of the finished article ... that it would be a self assembly affair.

Oh well, that's a little cardboard Christmas Tree that I have to build, and lots of little boxes!!

Oh and the added thing of actually knowing what is in each little box ... I'm definitely missing the surprise element with this one then  πŸ˜„πŸ˜†

The Shepherdess Pie that I started making on the last post went down a treat, and I made myself enough mashed potato to fill a delicious Potato Pasty that I had for my lunch yesterday.

Does anyone else love mashed potatoes (and sweets) as much as I do?

Sue xx

Monday 1 November 2021

When Wheelie Bins Come Knocking


The 'plastics and glass' wheelie bin came knocking on the front door at five o'clock this morning.  He had his lid entangled with the blue lidded paper recycling bin and he had somehow managed to mount the door mat and get right up to the front door.  I sorted them out and pushed him back into place then grabbed a glass of water and went back to bed for an hour.

When I got up he was back at the door again, although this time waiting quietly.

I know the weather has been atrocious over the last few days, but you know it's bad when even the wheelie bins want to come inside.  πŸ˜„πŸ˜

My first job today was to turn the pack of Meatless Farms Mince that I bought the other week into shepherdess pie bases.  I call them that in my head although I use this mince/carrot/celery mix for lots of other purposes too.

The shape and portion size that I freeze makes for a good pasty filling, or once thawed out and with peas added a good topping for some pasta, and it's nice to have a little stash in the freezer.

I freeze them like this as if I am making a shepherdess pie I like to have A LOT of mashed potatoes and if I added the potatoes before freezing I just wouldn't be able to get the lid on.  I could quite happily live on mashed potatoes with lots of salt and pepper and slightly too much butter melted in so I pile the buttery mash on and then just cook for 25 or so minutes at 180 degrees.

I'm having an easy day today as we went to visit my son and his girlfriend yesterday and a whole day of sitting in the car and then in their house has really seized me up and made me sore.  But it was well worth it, it was so lovely to see them and their doggies again.

I hope you are all safe from this awful weather.  We have lots of lying water in and around town and while some of the roads need care to travel on and the river and canal have both risen dramatically, we have gotten off relatively unscathed considering the sheer amount of rainfall we have had.  Much better than some people near where my son lives who have been flooded out of their homes and businesses yet again.

Sue xx