Tuesday 31 May 2022

My Grand Un-Boxing YouTube Video


My Refugee Food Ration Box arrived on Saturday while we were out getting our shopping just as I posted the other day, but I have waited until now to actually open it up.  Of course reading through all the downloadable information and from past experience I knew exactly what would be inside it ... but it is always a shock to see just how little there is to keep a refugee's body and soul together for one week.

In some camps refugees now get their boxes fortnightly and if they are in a family group they are given a box that contains enough for six people.  The sad thing is sometimes there simply are not enough boxes to go around and families share what they have to try to feed everyone, especially the children.

The actual box is the emergency ration and they are also given coupons by the UN or other charitable organisations which they can exchange for bags of rice or flour in the camp shops ... hence us getting the little coupons in the box that tell us how much rice and flour to add to our supplies for the week.

The actual value of the box is just over £3.

Between us our fundraising has now covered the cost of over 300 boxes!!

Thank you 💖

My Unboxing Video on YouTube

Almost my entire weeks worth of food for Ration Challenge week is now in the box and waiting until Sunday 19th June.  All that I need to add to this are the few extras that I have now earned ... the spring onions, the peanut butter, the tinned tomatoes and a drink.

It's not a lot for a week is it, or as the refugees have it ... not a lot for weeks, months, and even many, many years.

Thank you for all your donations and encouragement, it  is really appreciated.

If you do go over and watch the video could you click on the little Thumbs Up just so I can tell how many people have watched it.  (Of course if you hate it you can always click on the Thumbs Down.) Thank you.

Sue xx

Monday 30 May 2022

To Answer a Question ...


Someone asked me to explain the 'Rewards' system for the Ration Challenge and how it actually relates to refugees.

Basically, and to copy from this page of my Toolkit booklet:

 '  Refugees are resourceful, resilient and hard-working people. But to protect local jobs, many countries (including Jordan) deny or tightly limit work rights for refugees. This means they need to find other ways to provide for their families.

 Through the Ration Challenge, you are supporting livelihoods programmes in Jordan and Lebanon, which help provide a small income for refugees so they can add other food items to their basic rations. 

 You won’t have time to set up your own small business or grow a garden from scratch during the Ration Challenge, but you can earn extra ingredients to add to your rations by working hard at your fundraising. Hit the following fundraising goals, help more people, and earn these much-needed rewards.  '

In exactly one week ...with your amazing help ... I have just earned all the rewards that are available.  This means that alongside my basic ration box I now have all the rewards listed above.

My Rewards, and my choices for the ones I can choose are:

My Spice - Cumin

My team-mates spice choices are:

Paprika, Turmeric, Pepper, Onion Powder and Cinnamon

1 Garlic Clove

I don't drink tea - so no tea.


I gave away my milk allowance to a team-mate who is struggling to raise money.

My 170g of Vegetable will be Spring Onion.

My 120g of Protein will be Peanut Butter

400g Tinned Tomatoes

and lastly, the reward that came through today

My 330ml drink:  I may choose a coffee or it might be a smoothie or it could be wine!!

All these can be brought into the meal plan for the Challenge week to go alongside the contents of the Ration Box and the rice, flour and oil that we have to provide for ourselves (to keep postage costs down).

Finally, the email that arrived an hour ago -  

Hi Sue,

Thank you for going above and beyond. Raising more than £850 is absolutely incredible. You should be very proud of what you’ve achieved and the difference this will make for refugees and displaced people around the world.
We wanted to give you a reward just as amazing as your fundraising efforts, so you’ve earned a special treat, a 330ml drink of your choice to enjoy during the week.

What can you choose? It’s up to you. But it should be used in one sitting and can only be 330ml. Maybe you want to relax with a cheeky glass of wine, or maybe you’d prefer a can of cola or a barista-made coffee (oh, the caffeine)! Whatever you choose, enjoy it. You’ve earned it.

What to do next?
As one of the top Ration Challenge participants, we would love you to share your secrets of success with others. Will you share any valuable advice about how you achieved this in our Facebook group? We know the Ration Challenge community will be grateful.

The strength of the Ration Challenge community comes in sharing ideas, having tough conversations and coming together to make a difference. By sharing your advice with others, you’ll be amplifying your impact for refugees around the world.

Thank you again for your amazing kindness and continued support.

The Ration Challenge Team

Thank you for all the donations that meant I have whizzed through the reward levels, BUT the main thing is the money we have raised between us is now at a level that will feed more than FIVE refugees for a FULL YEAR and that is what I am celebrating.

Sue xx

Saturday 28 May 2022

The Tomato Plants Have Left the Building


The tomato plants in the little black planter were planted out as soon as we got back from our Spanish holiday, I had kept the three 'best' plants on the living room window sill for another week as a back up just in case the weather turned cold and I lost any of the first evictees.  But then yesterday I decided to be brave and pot on the remaining three, and after giving them one night in the shed to acclimatise slightly, put them outside to join their siblings.

They look good, a little bit leggy maybe but they will soon settle down now that they have so much compost to feed them and allow them to expand their root systems into.  They are currently basking in the sunshine next to our little pond, just like Alan ... although he's on the patio rather than pondside.

We were just bringing our shopping in from the car yesterday afternoon when our neighbour came over with a package for me, that had been left with him by the postman.  As soon as I opened it I knew I had to take a photo of my shopping as a comparison.

As you can see from this array of shopping it's not even a full week's worth of meals laid out, it's mostly treaty things to go with the food that I already have in.  One treat of which is a £5 tray of the most luscious strawberries.

My Ration Challenge pack has arrived and it's total value is ... 

... less than the money I spent to feed my tomato plants!!  

This puts so much into perspective doesn't it.  

My fundraising page can be visited by clicking on the Ration Challenge picture at the top of the righthand sidebar ... and I am just £10 away from accessing my final earnable reward.  Thank you so much to everyone who has already donated and got us to this amazing total.

You are the best 💝

Sue xx

Wednesday 25 May 2022

Safety First ... and Tomatoes


With our little narrowboat holiday fast approaching I decided to order the dogs a life-jacket each.  Now I'm sure Mavis would swim and stay afloat long enough to get to the canal bank and give us time to rescue her, but Suky would sink like a lead balloon!!

They were literally in the air like this for 10 seconds but we did have to check the fixings were working properly and that they were comfortable if we had to hoick them out of the water in an emergency ... and of course being a Blogger I had to get a photo.  😉

Mavis is seen here modelling a snazzy orange life-jacket.

While Suky is resplendent in a rather fetching lime green.

You can almost hear them saying to each other ... WTF is going on!!

*** *** *** *** ***

In Ration Challenge news ... late last night I was sent this to pass on to you and all the lovely folk that have donated to my Fundraising page, it was on an email telling me that I had gone over the threshold that earns me a tin of tomatoes.

But much more importantly it means that between us we have now provided enough money to feed more than FOUR refugees for A WHOLE YEAR.  I eat rations for one week and we can do this ... we are a great team.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.  💖

Our total currently stands at £734.  

You can visit my Fundraising Page by clicking on the Ration Challenge photo at the top of the right-hand side bar.

Sue xx

Tuesday 24 May 2022

Planning the Ration Challenge Week


I'm sorry to those of you who aren't that interested in the Ration Challenge but I just thought I would do another post today to let you into the secret of being able to eat relatively tasty food during a week when your entire food has cost less than £4.30.


The only way to survive this challenge with some of your energy intact is to plan. 

Plan what you are going to make from your rations and your rewards, plan out the recipes and plan your menu for the full week.  Because after doing this Challenge twice before I know that halfway through the week you develop 'Rice Brain'.  A fogginess that descends due to the sheer amount of white carbs that you are consuming, mostly in the form of rice.  I only have to do this for one week, imagine what it is like to live on this kind of diet week in week out for up to 18 years.  Yes there are babies that were born in some of the refugee camps that have now reached adulthood and are still there along with their families!!

This year just like 2020 I will be making up my raw ingredients into as many 'ready meals' as I possibly can right at the very start, because I know further into the week I will not have the patience or energy to follow even my own recipes ... no matter how simple they seem, and I will share my recipes with you as I make them.

I soaked 85g of dried chickpeas last night to see what the soaked and cooked weight would be for Challenge week and as you can see from my plan I got 200g in total.  So todays lunch will be some hummus, and I might even have a practice make of some basic falafels, luckily last night I watched a 'fast food' programme that I had recorded a while ago that showed falafels being made so I have a few tips in my head.

Thank you to all those of you who have donated and for the support shown to me already by so many, everything really helps, be it sponsorship or simply pom-pom waving and cheering from the side-lines.

The link to my Fundraising Page will remain on the top of the right-hand sidebar until after the Ration Challenge is over. Clicking on the picture takes you straight there and you can keep up to date with the current total raised, the rewards I have earned and the messages from all my lovely sponsors long with my 'thank yous'.

A massive thank you to everyone.

Sue xx

Monday 23 May 2022

Thank You .... and Sharing an Email

I don't know where to begin, I have to simply say from the bottom of my heart ... THANK YOU  💖

I only signed up for this years Ration Challenge on Saturday afternoon and already with your support I have reached the amazing sponsorship total of £397.  This means we have already raised more than enough money to supply ration boxes to two refugees for A WHOLE YEAR!!

And once again this is how I am looking at my fundraising.  Although the money is spent in many ways to help refugees from all over the world ... this year including Ukrainian refugees ... if I focus on the food side of things it really keeps it on my mind how many people it's possible to help.

£166 = A Years Food for One Refugee

£332 = 2

£498 = 3

£664 = 4

£830 = 5

£996 = 6

You get the picture, and it's these figures that I have in my head every time I get an email like this one - 

*** *** *** *** ***

Amazing Effort!
Hello Sue,

Congratulations! You've just earned 170g of a vegetable of your choice to enjoy during the Ration Challenge.

Fresh food can be hard to come by for many refugees. Some might have the space and resources to grow their own small garden, and others might save money to buy fresh vegetables from the market. Because you've worked hard on your fundraising in this challenge, you can add 170g of a vegetable of your choice to your week’s worth of rations.

Our partner in Jordan is improving access to vegetables through their production kitchen programme and the establishment of greenhouses where vegetables are grown based on the needs of the local market. Here, refugees are growing fresh produce like courgette, cucumber, tomato, aubergine, cabbage and cauliflower. Feel free to choose one of these or any other vegetable of your choosing. But remember, you only get 170g, so you'll probably want to pick something that does not weigh much so you can enjoy more volume.

More importantly, you've raised enough to provide a refugee woman in Jordan with the training she needs to start her own business. This incredible gift could be the first step to self-reliance for her family. We can't thank you enough for your great fundraising efforts and for making a huge difference to the lives of refugees.

But why stop here? Now is the time to increase your target. People are more likely to keep donating if you haven't yet reached your goal, and they will want to help you achieve more rewards. Log in now and increase your fundraising target today.

Thank you for standing with refugees.

Carrot on! 🥕

The Ration Challenge Team

*** *** *** *** ***

I have to admit I do immediately think 'Yay, another reward earned' but then straight away I check my little list and see what this also means right back at basics ... how much food to keep people alive with their own ration boxes.  The rewards are nice, and yes they really do help to relieve the monotony of a rice based diet but they are not the be all and end all.  If anything the levels just make me want to do better, to provide more for the people that really need it.

Going back to the email, I don't know if I do want to increase my target or not, perhaps I will but I need to think about it.  Anyway it's just a number, the help that between us we are providing is so much more valuable than any number written on a page.


Sue xx

Edit - I meant to add that I have now added a link straight to my Fundraising Page at the top of the righthand sidebar.  It makes it easy for you ... and me ... to get over there to check on my progress and read the messages.  😃

Saturday 21 May 2022

The Ration Challenge 2022


I've only gone and done it again ... I've just signed up for this years Ration Challenge.

 I missed out on last years because of health issues but I should be fine for this year and I'm determined to do it.  Hopefully I'll be able to bring into play all the things I learnt from my last two goes at it.  This year the official week is from 19th until the 25th June although it is possible to do it at any time if those dates don't work out for you.  

THIS  ... explains how it all works so much better than I could.

My fundraising page is HERE,  

The idea of fundraising early is so that you can 'earn' food rewards for passing various levels.  So I am mentioning it here and on my Facebook page in the hope that I might be able to earn myself a vegetable, or even a tin of tomatoes.  Up to now I have a spice, a single clove of garlic and salt to add to the basic rations.  😀

I last did the Ration Challenge in 2020 and my first go at it was in 2019.

Both times between us we managed to raise an amazing amount of money.  The first year we raised £780.90 and then in 2020 we went all out and managed a magnificent £1,650.00. 

I will try not to be begging for money every day during the Challenge as I do realise what tough times we are living in, but it would be brilliant if anyone can spare a pound or two.  You really do not need to donate the large amounts that appear on the donations page you can choose to donate from as low as one pound and with gift aid even that would be raised to £1.25 if you are a UK tax payer.

Now all I have to do is to decide whether I post all about my exploits on this blog or instead go over to my Challenging Myself blog and use that again.

So much to think about.

If you fancy a go yourself ... and it is for a really good cause ... copy and paste this to take you to the signing up page. 


Let me know if you do sign up and I'll be straight over to sponsor you.  It's a cause that is very close to my heart.

Sue xx

Friday 20 May 2022

Thank You ... and Gather in Your Onions


Thank you for all the comments yesterday. 

 It would seem that we are all on the same wavelength, I thought we would be, but it was nice to hear from so many of you and some new commenters and gather in all our opinions.  I typed onions there at first instead of opinions and made myself literally laugh out loud ... and of course spell check did nothing as onions are a word.  So gather in your onions to your hearts content. 😄

I seem to be having two Fridays this week as I was convinced it was Friday all day yesterday, not that I'm complaining ... I have always loved That Friday Feeling.

My only question to you today is - What are you looking forward to over the weekend?  

If the weather plays fair I intend to pot on some tomato plants, have a tidy up of the paths and sleeper edges and then set Alan free with our new pressure washer to clean up the patio area which has lots of  unsightly green bits.  Then we may even go out for a coffee and a slice of cake and take the doggies with us.  They love the social side of it as much as we like the cake.

Sue xx


Thursday 19 May 2022

A Storm in a Teacup ... or a Slippery Slope?


Why are so many people on social media in such a bad mood!!

Why are so many people posting negative and just downright rude messages to people who post on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and to a slightly lesser extent on Instagram, YouTube and here in Blogland, is there really any reason to take your own unhappiness, anger or simply bad mood out on other people to try to drag them down to your level. 

 Do people that for one reason or another put their lives out there for others to read about or watch really have to put up with people that actually have no interest in their lives firing off nasty, rude and negative comments just for commenting's sake.

Let me just clarify that I am not accusing any of my lovely regular readers of any nasty intentions or nit-picking but I am suddenly seeing, on many platforms, the reason that so many people are now being labelled as 'snowflakes' 'Karens' and much, much worse.  Oh, who would be called Karen in this day and age ... I really feel for you, a couple of my best friends at school were called Karen. 

Yesterday Thrifty Lesley was called out on Facebook for calling her page 'Thrifty Lesley - For Fabulously Frugal Food' and told that she was part of the problem.  That frugal food wasn't fabulous and she should be out there rallying, writing to her MP or indeed standing for parliament herself not posting recipes that help people make the best out of what they have.

What the actual F*CK !!

Madeleine Olivia was jumped on last week by numerous people for daring to share a recipe for Chickpea Tuna on her TikTok and told how disgustingly awful it and all vegan food was, while over on Instagram ... which is still usually a lot more civilised ... she had nothing but praise and 'yumms' etc.

  When did we stop following our Grannies advice and just keeping our mouths shut  ...and the modern version our fingers off the keyboard ... if we had nothing nice or at the very least constructive to say?

So what's your opinion on this, is it just a storm in a teacup or a more worrying downward trend in a lack of compassion, manners and common decency?

Sue xx

Wednesday 18 May 2022

Taking to the Water


We are both finding it so hard to get back into the swing of day to day life.  A mixture of feeling pretty yuk and not being able to go out much means that all routines are completely out of the window.  So what do you do when you just cannot get out of 'holiday mode' ... why you book another holiday of course  😀😄

We have just had ten days in the Spanish sunshine, we have a five day Warner Leisure Hotel holiday booked for September, so what could I choose that is completely different to fill a gap in the middle?

I'm sure you can guess by the photo at the top of this post that I chose a narrow boat holiday, and one that is extremely close to home.  There is definite method to my madness as Alan is currently still debating about whether he wants to buy a narrow boat to renovate as a bit of a hobby and it seemed a good idea to 'try before we buy' and combining this with a luxury no-lock, cruising the cut, mini holiday seemed an even better idea.

We had to go for one of the larger of the four boats on offer by the Duck Island Boat Company which is a small company close to home in the local marina, as they are the only ones that you can take your four legged friends onboard with you ... but this should be no hardship at all.  With the potential for a bedroom and a bathroom each we can spread out to our hearts content in the 56ft long boat.  Of course booking so last minute meant that we had to take the dates that were available, which luckily fell just right for us.  It's going to be a total luxury sort of narrowboat holiday, something that we really do need to keep in mind if Alan is buying an old boat to do up.  I doubt his will have proper flushing toilets and two en-suites!!

So we have something exciting to look forward to in July ... now what on earth can we do in June?

Sue xx

Oh, and if anyone would like 15% off a White Stuff order I have a link you can use.

Monday 16 May 2022

Back Home with a Tan, a Crash and a Ping

We're back home after a wonderful ten days in Alcudia, Majorca.  

With lots of sunshine, good food and a child-free hotel it meant that there was plenty of relaxation, some drinking and lots of rest ... just what we both needed.  I managed to read my way through four books, yes FOUR books in 10 days, a record even for me.  Two fiction paperbacks that I left behind to make our luggage even lighter coming home, and two on my phone which picks up all the books on my Kindle account.  In fact I sold my actual Kindle years ago when I found I just wasn't using it.

We both travel really light and had just one suitcase between us that weighed less than 15kg, even though we were allowed up to 32kg in one case if we needed it.  Alan also had a small backpack just containing our lightweight jackets and our holiday paperwork and I had a handbag.  We were amazed at the amount some people turned up with, all adding to the chaos at Manchester Airport.

We didn't stray very far from the hotel at all, we just had a couple of short walks and sits on the beach watching the day cool down, and just a few hours one day in Port Alcudia people watching from a pavement café, and watching all the preparations for the Iron Man Competition that was taking place on the Saturday.  We actually got to see the runners going past our hotel in the 27 degree heat on the day of the competition ... madness!!

We both topped up our tans, Alan more so than me as he is a real sun worshipper and he also had a few  dips in the hotel pool, although judging by his gasps the water was cool enough to put a lot of folk off going in at all.  But over the course of the week as the temperatures rose more and more people started risking a dip and swimming a few lengths.

We got home to find all the animals very happy, the house left super clean and tidy by our house-sitter ... and the potato plants now looking a lot more impressive in their Bags for Life just in front of the shed.  Time to top them up with some more compost I think.

There had been a crash landing at some point during the week, as once again Ginger had used the top of the cold frame to jump down off the fence onto.  I think it is beyond repair this time so I will have to have a reconsider for next year.

Somehow all the plants have survived, no doubt due to the cooler weather and rain that Kathleen our house-sitter said she had virtually all week.

The Courgette and Cucumber plants are also looking good.

As are the Tomato Plants that still live on my windowsill in the living room.

The past couple of days we have been making good use of the sunshine and breeze to get all our holiday washing done, well we have had to find things to do at home as just two days after we got  home than we were both pinged by the NHS Covid App.  So following the updated instructions we are still in isolation for the next few days.

So it's working from home for both of us ... and early morning doggy walks up the deserted canal.

Sue xx

Friday 13 May 2022

The Green ... I Love the Green


Torn between two worlds!!

I love this photo of my kitchen when it had almost been completed, the empty spaces, the clean lines, the promise of what could be.

I also love the homeliness of my clutter.

The basics out ready to be used, the books ready to be pored over and inspiration picked up and be acted upon.  The day to day life that this scene shows I live.

And the green ... I love the green.

Sue xx 💚

Thursday 12 May 2022

I Travel Light


I've packed up

I'm headed home

I travel light ... except for books  


Wednesday 11 May 2022

Discard All the Rest


I'm still on my decluttering journey

Will I ever arrive at the destination

I really don't know

But I hope so.


Monday 9 May 2022