Thursday 31 March 2022

My Lovely Lavender Sofa Has To Go


My gorgeous sofa has just been listed on Facebook Marketplace and I'm more than a little bit sad. 😢

Alan and Jason tried valiantly to get it up to the top floor of Alan's house, the idea was to turn the en-suite guest room up there into a proper sitting room for our house-sitters and future potential Airbnb use, but the tight turn into the room at the top of the stairs proved to be the undoing of the plan and they had to bring it all the way down again.  

For now the sofa is upended in Alan's kitchen while we put it's legs and cushions back on then and then hopefully someone will want to grab the bargain of the year.  We did offer it to my other son Simon, but I fear the colour was just a little bit too girly for the new home he is setting up for himself.

The new chairs with much better support for my back are being delivered tomorrow morning, I'm really hoping that they will be more comfortable for me.  I also had to go out and buy a new rug as this one just looks dreadful with the new colour scheme ... so it's all change after just seven months.

There's also a lot of sorting out and decluttering going on at the moment as we are doing a Table Top Sale next weekend and we are going to be literally loading Alan's car up to the gunnels with stuff that has been waiting in the spare room sine we moved in, and also things from the Lodge that I have been sorting through after realising that I really just do not need them.

Anything that I have not needed since I moved in is going and it's going to be simplicity all the way.

Sue xx

Tuesday 29 March 2022

I Did Do the Maths ... and Carried on Cooking


You knew I'd do the maths after yesterdays post didn't you, yes I just had to ... the meal came to approximately £1.20 including using half a bag of the fresh mixed leaves from Aldi as the lovely green garnish.  I rounded upwards each time so I guess it's actually a couple of pennies cheaper.  It would have been even more cost effective to use a portion of ready cooked spaghetti instead of the noodles that I had to hand as I currently have some of the 20p a pack spaghetti in the jar.  This would have brought the cost down to just 85p even being very generous with the spaghetti.

The two trays of food above that went in the oven yesterday, contain most of the fresh veggies from the fridge drawer, I want to see how many meals I can make from them.  The one at the back contains an orange pepper, some red onions and some large very soft salad tomatoes quartered.  The front one is very similar but with red and yellow peppers, red onions and one white onion, cherry tomatoes and one large salad tomato.  The orange pepper should have gone into this tray and the red one in the tray at the back as I was making a red pasta sauce ... but I got confused  😕

They are both seasoned very similarly with onion and garlic flakes, lots of black pepper and some mixed herbs and then tossed in some olive oil.  The smell as they cooked was amazing and drew Alan into the Lodge to see what was cooking.

My first meal using some of the sauce and some of the vegetables plus a little bit of dairy free Greek Style cheese was a simple pasta dish ... and a cheeky midweek glass of wine.

And the leftovers all went into the fridge and I left the whizzed up sauce in the Nutribullet cup to save creating more washing up.

Sue xx

Monday 28 March 2022

Do the Maths!!


My Low Spend Challenge is still going on in many ways, and although I decided not to push myself to post every day or even show every single shopping trip (I've had a bad couple of weeks with my back), I am still keeping the spending much lower than I ever have before.  And it's not just in the food department that I want to limit my spending this year.

The moisturiser in the purple tube ran out two weeks ago and I rummaged through the bathroom baskets knowing I had at least two of the one that I use in Summer with the SPF20 protection factor.  I found that I had four!!  It will be interesting to see how long these last.  

I should have realised that I would have more than two as I do watch out for these being on offer in Sainsbugs which it regularly is.  In fact I've just popped over and checked on the website and it's £5 off at the moment.  So buying four ready for future use saves an impressive £20 ... which is obviously what I did last time!!

I'm trying to keep my meals as simple but as healthy as I can both for my health and because the warmer weather of the last few days meant that I didn't want to be spending ages cooking over a hot stove, so something like this has been my current go to.  

Just simple sautéed onion, peppers and tomatoes with lots of seasoning and 'ready to wok' noodles or ready cooked pasta thrown in for the last three or so minutes.  With a handful of mixed leaves for a green hit of goodness it's a nice light evening meal or a very filling lunch.  And it's a very economical meal too with the noodles being just 79p for a double pack in Aldi (£1 in Sainsbugs) and only a quarter of a pepper, half a dozen cherry tomatoes and half an onion.  I haven't actually done the maths ... maybe I should ... but it's going to be around a pound for the whole meal.

See now my brain is screaming 'DO THE MATHS' ... I bet I have done before the day is out!!

Sue xx

Friday 25 March 2022

Tinned Tomatoes at WHAT price!!


I was rummaging about in the cupboard the other morning looking for some tinned tomatoes to have on toast for my breakfast.  I had an almost heart stopping moment when I thought I was about to use the last tin, then I moved a tin of Black Beans slightly to the left and discovered a whole other double height row of lovely tomatoey tins ... phew!!

Breakfast was had and enjoyed and the leftover two thirds of the tin was decanted and put into the fridge ready to be used for another meal.  I can easily get three meals out of one tin of tomatoes, which got my challenge brain thinking ... how many other food items do I get at least three uses out of?

That would be interesting to note down instead of just thinking about, doing and forgetting.

I don't know why this idea even came to me, but when I was out shopping later in the day I suddenly thought ... What is the price difference between the cheapest tin of tomatoes and the most expensive?

You know me I had to look!!

The ones on the left, picked up from Booths were £1.30 and the ones on the right picked up from Sainsbugs were still available at just 28p.

Wow ... that is some difference for the same sized can of tomatoes.  

I haven't opened either of them yet, but it will be really interesting to see if the taste difference is between the two in any way justifies the cost.  But I would be able to get four tins of the Sainsbugs ones for less than the cost of the others.

The big question is ... Do people actually buy these on a regular basis just as day to day tomatoes for use in pasta sauces etc?  I guess the taste test will tell me when I get around to it.

The slightly littler question is ... WHY did I buy two more tins of tomatoes when I had just discovered a row of eight in my cupboard?

And the teeny, tiny question tapping away at the back of my mind is ... How many other things are there that are so different in price that are just normal every day items of food stuff ... too many for me to buy and taste test I guess.  But it's made me think, and I will be looking a little bit harder at brands and prices next time I go shopping.

I couldn't resist showing you my little seedlings, not bad for six days since sowing.  It always pays to sow seeds a little later than you think you should.  I got home from Manchester yesterday and the Mizuna were up, then this morning all the other ones appeared.  🌱

Sue xx

Monday 21 March 2022

My Growing Space Has Gotten Smaller and Smaller ...

A bit of sunshine and all us green-fingered folk are itching to get planting aren't we  🌳  

But there's an icy edge to the breeze at the moment, and although I got Alan to tip the three bags of compost that we bought last year into the new raised bed ready for some planting next month, I quickly covered it with opened out bags that it came in, weighted down with some leftover bits from building the bed last year so that the soil underneath can warm up ready for planting next month.

 I did pinch a bit of the newly opened compost to put into these little pots to start off some seeds though.  It was nice sitting in the sun on the patio dibbing away and sowing the seeds.  Mostly vegetables but a couple of pots of flower seeds too.  And that larger green planter in the background got some flower seeds sprinkled into it too.

Taking that top photo which shows the whole of my growing space for this year made me think back to my previous vegetable growing areas.

This one was when we lived in Oxfordshire on our first farm, this photo shows just the vegetable beds behind the house, we grew all our own  onions and potatoes here, the pigs used to love home grown potatoes.    We also had a 12ftx 25ft polytunnel next to the small pig enclosure and orchard and another assortment of raised beds behind where I was stood to take this photo filled with more onions, salad crops and lavender ... lots of lovely lavender.

This was the first growing year at our rented small holding, utilising the plastic beds that we had brought with us from the first farm.  The wind had kindly ripped down the polytunnel and left them all exposed for us to disassemble.  Here we just had about 5.5 acres, mostly given over to field and chicken enclosure.

And look who's photo I found in the same file as the last one ... a very young and pretty Suky.

And of course most of you will remember our small holding in North Wales before we moved back to England.  Lots of growing room on the hillside along side the little orchard and Summer chicken run. 

 With the green Net Tunnel, designed with a wire mesh bottom layer to keep the pesky hillside rabbits off some of our salad crops and with space for the Blueberries, so we could eat them instead of the birds ...

... and the polytunnel, filled with the tender indoor type crops, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, spinach, and delicate leaves etc.

These two tunnels were also 12ft x 25ft as it was a size that really suited us.

My new growing space is just 6ft x 8ft ... and that is the total floor space, the actual raised bed is much smaller. So I can see that I'm going to have to get very inventive this year.  My main plan is to use the wooden bed for salad crops... spinach, lettuce, radish, spring onions etc and then have some French beans in the small black planter on the opposite side, with some Bags for Life being lined up along side it for a few potato plants.  Oh and a couple of large pots for courgettes.

And of course I can't forget my little tin bath at the front door, which is very handy for snipping herbs from when I'm in the kitchen, so it adds another couple of foot of growing space.  I might put a few garlic cloves in here too, all that wasted space makes me want to fill it a little bit more.

My newly sown seeds were basking in the early morning sunshine when I pulled back the curtains this morning. 

Sue xx

Saturday 19 March 2022

How Do I Shop When I'm NOT on a Challenge?


So, how do I shop when I'm not on a Challenge ... well to be honest not that much differently.  

I didn't go out with a list this time, naughty me!!  I knew I wanted to 'stock up' on a few things but I just can't get my head around buying more than I need now.  I have plenty in the food cupboard, lots of tins, packets and jars so apart from there being not a lot of room to slide extra purchases in I just didn't want to over-shop at all.

Even with two bottles of wine this Aldi shop only came to £22.75, which I was really pleased about. 

 I did buy a couple more boxes of the Salt and Vinegar No Fish Fillets as I saw a label on the shelf edge of the freezer that simply said 'Cancelled' and had a little panic.  Of the five boxes that were there I graciously only took two leaving the others for someone else.

So my weekend treats were wine, dairy free ice-lollies, some new-to-me crispy nibble type things and my 'pathetic bulk buys' were two garlic breads for the freezer, two more packs of noodles and a bottle of lemon juice.

Then I lost my shopping mojo and headed for the checkouts, where I had a lovely chat with the guy on the till which made the whole shopping trip seem a lot nicer.  This sunshine is bringing out the best in people isn't it.

Sue xx

Friday 18 March 2022

Books as Ornaments


Alan bought me a lovely bunch of flowers yesterday, just a happy thought or a guilty conscience ... we'll see  😄

Anyway they were really colourful, he forgets I like white, lavender and green and just abseils down the route of every colour under the sun.  So to calm things down a little I put most of them in my plain cream jug and rearranged the books underneath it to all white ones.

This books as ornaments thing makes me happy, and as the bookcases around the lodge are all full to capacity and beyond it's very necessary to use them as such.

Also making me happy when I took this photograph early this morning was the sun already streaming into my living room,  and watching The Cottage Fairy on YouTube as she shows us around her new home.

And here especially for Sue ... a clearer look at the titles I chose this time.  💖

Sue xx

Thursday 17 March 2022

No Food, No Stuff ... and Death to the Dust Bunnies


I think I'm sick of food!!

Eating the food, buying the food and blogging about the food ... so I decided I would start to do a bit of decluttering and sell a few more things instead.

I started to think about getting rid of stuff when I was dusting the other day.  Now dusting itself is a thing I do only when I have absolutely nothing else to do, I would prefer to read a book, play with a dog, talk to a cat, dig a hole ... anything except move dust from one place to another.  I wonder how much dust we make, churn up and remove in our lifetimes ... I would hazard a guess at enough to stuff a double mattress with.

Anyway as I dusted the bowl in the photo, the bowl that has sat there since the day I moved in and although looked very pretty was actually doing nothing except taking up space and catching some of the aforementioned dust.  I decided I had dusted it for the last time.

I took it's photo and added it to my Facebook Marketplace page ... it sold within two hours along with a folder containing 120 DVDs that I knew I would never watch again to the same lady.  The DVDs were for her Mum to watch and the bowl ... well I guess she'll either be selling it on for a profit or dusting it for the next few years.

Either way I now have £10 in my coat pocket that I can drop in the collection buckets for the people of Ukraine next time I go shopping or for a coffee at Booths.

And one less thing to dust.  😀

Sue xx

Wednesday 16 March 2022

Everything was going so well ...


When I don't hear from my sons I know everything in their worlds is going well, and then the other day they both contacted me minutes apart.  I'm used to it and the lack of contact doesn't faze me at all, we all plod along in our own little worlds and connect when we need to ... it's just a boy thing.

The sudden double messaging and wanting to talk to Mum was a real 'sh*t hitting fan' moment for sure!!  

Are you allowed to put your boys up for adoption when they reach 35 and 41 ... no I thought not 😄😆😅

I'm only kidding ... I'm always here for them and they know it, they just need to learn to pace themselves and have crisis' that are more staggered and maybe give me slightly more than a ten minute break between having to offer an ear, advice and the voice of reason.

In a nutshell ... and not giving away too much of their personal information ... my younger son now has Covid for the second time (triple jabbed and careful when out and about so no fault of his own) and my eldest is right at the beginning of a split from his partner after it being verbally on and off for a few weeks.

It makes our home life seem very peaceful at the moment, I shouldn't say that should I something is bound to go wrong now!!  Enough of my waffle anyway but I thought I would make an appearance to tell you why there is a lack of appearances this week.

I'm going to write me a menu plan and do something 'normal'.

Sue xx

Sunday 13 March 2022

Be tender and fierce ...


There's not much to read here today ... so grab your coffee and visit some of my friends on My Blog List on the sidebar ... enjoy 💖

Friday 11 March 2022

Me, Musings and Memes

I'm taking a couple of days to reset, to rethink and rebuild.

I also ... in a moment of madness and/or clarity ... booked us another smaller holiday for later this year.  I think it's time to look after ourselves in any way we can, while at the same time thinking how our lives impact on those around us and what we can do to help ourselves and others.

My first task in helping my own mental health was to make the decision that I must try to remember that everything is not black and white, and I should not get bogged down with this or that ... it could just be that the maybes and might be's are more than enough.  Perhaps I work best in the shades of delicious grey that inhabit the spaces in-between.

You'll get some memes that resonate with me at the moment over the weekend while I calm myself, nurture myself and relax.  But first I have to find some house-sitters for two holidays now ... oh well there's a task and a half for this afternoon.


Sue xx

Thursday 10 March 2022

Shopping for 54p ... and Donating via Nectar

I thought I went out in a 'stock up the cupboards' mood, but it seems as though I find it hard to buy more than I actually need at the moment.  I did manage to get two each of almond milk, tinned potatoes and the various purees that I use, some vegetable stock pots and a bag of penne pasta, all of which have long dates on them.

I also needed a couple of birthday cards for my Mum.

At the checkout I remembered my Nectar points and decided to pay for the shopping with some of them, making this a 54p spend.

I picked up a selection of the free magazines on the way out, I don't usually bother  but there were stacks and stacks of them.

On the way home I called to Booths to pick up this weeks cardholder free gift, a tiny little chocolate bar.  It usually retails at £1.30 which at first I thought was ridiculous ... but it is gorgeous chocolate and I actually think I would buy this again as a very special treat.

When I got home my phone pinged and I had an email from Nectar saying that you can now donate your Nectar points to Ukraine via the Comic Relief charity, so I checked how many I had left and sent as many of them as I could ... you can only use them in multiples of £2.50 ... off straight away.

I am still thinking about the future of this Challenge but as you can see from my purchases I do think it's over and my blog will revert to day to day life, with budgeting, food and growing here at Lavender Lodge.  Thank you so much for all the comments yesterday, reading each and every one got me thinking so they were really helpful.  Thank you.

Sue xx

Wednesday 9 March 2022

Do I Go On?


With fuel prices of every description soaring over recent weeks, and things only set to get worse as the vehicle fuel prices start to affect the prices of everything in the shops I am seriously wondering if I should even go on with my Challenge.

Just over two months into the Challenge I feel de-railed and unsure of what I'm doing.  My total No Spend Year failed miserably and now my Low Spend Challenge may go the same way.  Am I just down because of world events or what ... I really don't know.

Alan needed to top up his tank yesterday to get to work and for half a tank of diesel it was over £70, luckily for us fuel for the vehicles is a business expense so it doesn't hit us too hard in our personal pockets, but it's still shocking.

The food prices in all the supermarkets are creeping up and not slowly, they leap up in 10p or 20p increments which must be absolutely terrifying for those people truly living on a tight budget.   I feel wrong in so many ways to be playing at having a tight budget just for budgeting's sake.

Anyway I'm thinking long and hard about it all at the moment, I thought it only fair to warn you.

Sue xx

Tuesday 8 March 2022

Smiling ... and Helping in Small Ways


I smile every time I open the fridge at the moment, so much colour and freshness ... I really am spoilt for choice.  My meals all this week are going to be based around this beautiful splash of colour.

I am also smiling a the good folk who are booking Airbnb rooms in Kyiv and all over Ukraine, with the sole purpose of getting the money to the people who would normally be renting their spare rooms to visitors to their country.  Instead the people left in the city with those spare rooms or hotels are helping their newly homeless neighbours, but the money received from their Airbnb accounts can really help them out in a very direct way.

 Some people are just good, they will basically find anyway possible to help the other the good people no matter where they are in the world.

Edited to add:

 After reading Jayne's comment below, I went over to the Etsy website and made a few purchases (the Challenge was momentarily cancelled).  One actual thing from a lady in the UK raising money for her family back in Ukraine and two pdfs, the one above that I have printed out.

There are ways to help.

Sue xx

Monday 7 March 2022

Shopping - My First Visit to the Shop in March


Six days into the month, and with a virtually empty fridge when Alan asked if I wanted to go to Aldi with him I was definitely going to say a very clear yes wasn't I. 😀

I had a list of seven items that I needed and had checked them out on both the Sainsbugs and Aldi websites to compare prices.  In Sainsbugs my shopping would have cost me £5.55 and in Aldi it came to £4.67.  It was a no-brainer and Aldi it was, and knowing that I had over £5 more to play with made me think what would I like as well as what did I need.

On my list had been:

Iceberg Lettuce
Cherry Tomatoes

I added:

Small Apples
Easy Peelers
one more bag of Flour.

I half expected it to be just over my permitted £10 a week food budget but I was prepared for that with the £19.09 of left over money from the first two months of this year in my bag.

As you can see it came to £9.78, giving me 22p change.

What a good result.

As soon as we got back I did my usual thing of washing, drying and putting into bags and bowls all the new foods.  It was a good job I did as some of the onions were a bit iffy!!

It's so lovely to see all the colourful fresh new foods for this week.  

There will definitely be no scrimping for meals with all this and the freezer foods that I showed you last week.  I need to try to remember to take some photos of my meals this week as I use up the new supplies alongside the old ones.

At the moment I am debating whether to spend my leftover £19+ on some long-life food items to perhaps help me combat rising food prices later in the year due to current world events, but I have been unable to commit to doing it yet. I think that this was on my mind when I bought the two bags of flour instead of just the one that I knew I would be needing soon.

 What would you do?  Save the money or spend it on pasta, rice and tinned foods?  

Sue xx

Sunday 6 March 2022

An Extra £5 ... and A Good Store


Yesterday I got my latest Booths voucher through the post, now it's only for £5 but when you're doing a ten pounds a week housekeeping Challenge, suddenly £5 seems a lot of extra money.  

As any vouchers or coupons that arrive after the start of the Challenge are outside the Challenge total funds this can be used for anything I want.  I have one £2.50 Tesco voucher still to use up within Challenge funds and of course there are the Sainsbury's Nectar points still included for now.

 It didn't take me long to figure out that this particular voucher would mean I could buy myself a little treat for my birthday, which is next month ... something to look forward to.

What would you buy yourself for your birthday with a £5 supermarket voucher bearing in mind that this particular one is a slightly more upmarket supermarket.  If you don't know Booths, it's along the same sort of lines ... and prices ... as Waitrose but is a family owned supermarket that specialises in local produced products and supporting the local area that each branch is in.  They are a good store.

They have already removed all foods that have any connection with Russia from their shelves and have started a cash collection point for the people of Ukraine in every branch, which they are going match pound for pound up to the value of £15,000. 👍👏💖

As I said they are a good store!!

Sue xx

Saturday 5 March 2022

Two Sausages - Four Sausage Rolls


I thought I would try to use the last two Linda McCartney sausages from one of the boxes in the freezer and make myself four sausage rolls.  Now I love sage and onion stuffing so I thought that a mostly stuffing filling with just a hint of sausage would be really good.

 I let them thaw for a while and made up a small bowl of stuffing, mashed the two together and cooked them in the sausage roll maker.

Now they were nice and made for a very satisfactory lunch, but they were just a little bit too bland as they were.  Next time I will perhaps add some very well seasoned and 'chilli-flaked' mashed potatoes to the mix and perhaps some cooked onions too.  If I do I'll report back.

As you can see I am still having great fun experimenting with my sausage roll maker.

Sue xx

Friday 4 March 2022

The Last Tomato

Yesterday I made a slight inroads into the No Fish Fillets from Aldi ... I had one on a bun for my tea as I just wasn't that hungry.  They make a nice quick snack as they cook in the Remoska in around 20 minutes and on a bun with some mayo are delicious.  I usually add some lettuce but I have run out of all salad stuff now.

 I had used the last of the salad stuff ... which was a single tomato ... the day that I photographed the contents of the fridge as it just looked so lonely.  It's surprising how even just adding a tomato to a slice of toast makes for a more filling breakfast.  I always cook fresh tomatoes in olive oil with a sprinkle of garlic powder ... yummy 😋 

I hadn't realised that there were four boxes of the No Fish Fillets in the freezer ... that's what happens when you keep putting things in and putting things in without eating through the older contents.  It's oh so easy to buy something you fancy or make something and freeze the excess and then just dip into the top of the drawers and eat those things within a week or two, leaving the older stuff to languish forgotten and unloved.

Now I have it in my head what I have I will build next weeks meals around some of it adding the salad stuff that I have just put onto my shopping list for the weekend.  I do like to have some fresh stuff in, even if the shelves of my fridge look a little bare there's usually food to be had in the drawers.

Sue xx


Thursday 3 March 2022

Reminded ...


Yesterdays little foray into filming the contents of the freezer drawers and putting them on my YouTube channel for all the world to see, was a really good way of reminding me exactly what was in there and it has already encouraged me to use some of the things that I found lurking in the depths.

This mornings mid-morning drink instead of being another cup of coffee was a delicious smoothie made with some of the banana, half of the baby spinach and half an apple.  I will have another one tomorrow to use up the other 'halves'.

Very tasty and a very pleasant change.

But I still need a coffee to wake me up, time to put the kettle on methinks 😁

Thanks for everyone that watched the little clips and special thanks to those of you who clicked on the thumbs up and the couple of you that subscribed.  It makes me realise why those YouTubers I watch regularly always beg on every video that they put up for likes, comments and subscribers to help with their sites algorithms.  Of the almost 500 people that viewed the videos only a few liked them and even less subscribed ... it's a good job I didn't do it for the numbers.  😄

I guess it's similar to the statistics we get on our blogs, so many read from all over the world, a much lesser number subscribe and only a few comment.  But it was really interesting to delve into the facts and figures of a new media.  I'm off to check my blog stats now, I haven't done that for ages.

Sue xx