Thursday 29 September 2022

Scrumping Bags


What's the one thing that dogs walkers always have on them everywhere they go whether the dogs are with them or not?  Poo bags, or as they are also known at this time of year ... Scrumping Bags.

I was walking the dogs around the park yesterday morning and I spotted quite a few apples of various types on the trees, so I helped myself to just a few.

I added them to the apples in the bowl that Alan had scrumped for me on Sunday morning when we walked the dogs around the garden centres paddock, but he was more clandestine than me and simply filled his pockets.  Well, we were going into the cafe, and you can't really pop a poo bag on or under your table without raising more than a few eyebrows.

Scrumping is very apt for My Modern Wartime Rationing, which is has now been live for a couple of days over on my other blog ... and luckily every time I go out I have a pocket full of 'scrumping bags' just in case.  😁

(You can also click onto my other blog by clicking on the photograph of me washing the pots right at the top of the sidebar.  😉)

Sue xx


Tuesday 27 September 2022

Victory Garden, Sorting Out the Cupboards and Thank You


My little 'Victory Garden' is still producing things to eat.  

I keep thinking I should start to cut everything back but then I spot one more courgette or one more little cucumber and the sun comes out again and I think ' I'll just give them a chance to grow'.  And they are rewarding me wonderfully.  I feel a bit guilty that the leeks are not getting the space that they should, but they are strong and sturdy and holding their own again the rampant cucumber plant.

The Christmas potatoes are lovely healthy plants, whether there are any potatoes in there is a whole other matter, but the foliage is beautiful.  The spiders love joining the two beds together with webs during the night and getting to the shed means destroying some wonderful creations ... so I try not to venture in there too often.

The tomatoes in the new narrow bed are coming in at a few red ones each day.  Once they stop ripening outside, I am hoping for enough left to be able to make a jar of green tomato chutney for my rationing store-cupboard.

We are still picking lettuce leaves virtually every day and they are doing really well.  The only job I do need to do this week is to pick the apples off the tree and band the tree against the coddling moths that I have spotted this year, I'm not too hopeful for edible apples really, but Alan scrumped a few the other day so we do have some local ones ready for storing to supplement my rations.

Talking of rations, last week I had a good sort out of the store-cupboard.  It was mostly to see what I had in stock and to make space to completely clear one shelf for my rations to live on.

I have a good selection of things in, and I will be able to 'shop my cupboard' for most of the 'on points' rations for quite a long time.

Thank you for all the good wishes for my Mum in yesterday's comments.  She's safer now in hospital than I have felt she's been for a long time.  Hopefully they will be able to sort out her many medical issues, get her medication under control and send her home once she is able to manage in her little bungalow again.

Sue xx

Monday 26 September 2022

Retro Pots, Winter Woollies and a Sad Accident

I've been washing all my more retro crockery and getting ready for My Modern Wartime Rationing Challenge.  I love the small size of the dishes; I always forget how much smaller they are when compared to even my normal pots.  I eat my meals off a tea plate rather than the more usual dinner plates, but the bowls of my beloved Wood's Ware especially are teeny compared to my cereal bowls and they make my pasta bowls look humungous!

No wonder everyone had puddings after their evening meals back in the day, a mouthful or two of crumble would have been neither here nor there when served in such small portions.  I'm really looking forward to using all this again.

I also finally got around to getting out my Winter woollies out from beneath my bed over the weekend, I panicked a little bit when I saw that all my Winter clothes fitted into this smallest of my shrink-wrapped bags.

But once I let the air back in, they expanded quite nicely.

It seems that I have four cardigans and four jumpers, which along with a fleece and a hoodie that's already in my wardrobe will be plenty for Winter wear alongside my jeans and t-shirts.

I also have four scarves, two pairs of gloves and one hat ... that's more than enough for me.

Everything has now had a quick wash to refresh it and is packed neatly away in my drawer, alongside the t-shirts and a couple of long-sleeved cotton tops that I can wear under them.

I've been missing from blogland for a couple of days as my Mum had a fall in her bungalow last Thursday and is in hospital in Manchester.  She has had a number of health issues that her doctor has not been very good at resolving, and it took the ambulance crew to finally put into place the care package that she should have been given by the doctor over two years ago.  Fingers crossed that once she is well enough to come home, she will be able to continue coping in the magnificent way she has up to now, it should just be a lot easier for her.

Sue xx

Friday 23 September 2022

Join the Queue Please ....


Okay ... I was tempted again, but who wouldn't be when the box for this little set of books was so lovely. 
It reminded me instantly of the wallpaper that I found in the ancient tiny garden shed of our little homestead in Berkshire, before the landlord decided to knock it down without even a word of warning.  I mean sacrilege!! I tried to peel some off to keep for posterity, but it was stuck firmly to the wood even after fifty odd years.

The blurb from the back.

And the two little books that are inside.

They have actually sparked Alan's interest in all things wartime rationing, and he's asked to have a read of them when I've 

But he'll have to wait a little bit as I am currently engrossed in this one.  

It's one of the best books for background information on the nutritional analysis of the foods recommended on the wartime rationing that I have ever read, and once you read it it's so easy to understand why most people were healthier at the end of the war than they were at the beginning.

I'm definintely going to be using the recipes and menu planning from this one.

The other best buddies, taken yesterday.

* Other dog beds are available!! 😄

Sue xx

Wednesday 21 September 2022

So, What Makes a Good Blog Post?


I've been a blogger for over fourteen years now and recently a family member asked how I found things to write about and what inspires me to do each post ... it really stumped me at first.  

I guess I am what you call a 'lifestyle blogger' ... someone who writes about the bits and pieces and the everyday aspects of their life and the people and places around them.  I've tried to pin myself down to specific things to write about with various new blogs over the years, but I always seem to bounce back to 'a little bit of this and a little bit of that'.

I guess my readers know to expect the unexpected from time to time ... like this post for instance!!

If I'm having a day when I really want to write a post, but I've done nothing that I think is interesting I will let a photo from that month's computer photo file inspire me.  The one at the top of this post for example, it's just Ginger and Mavis listening to the sounds coming through the open doors of Dad making their evening meal in his kitchen.  As the food hit the bowl Ginger's tail slowly made its way over to Mavis' as if he was letting her know that tea was nearly ready ... I quietly picked up my phone and just managed to get the shot before they both headed off for food.

I'm a blogger through and through and I always have either my phone or my camera to hand.  In fact, the camera now lives in the kitchen on the lower shelf ready to snap food and its preparation.  I got this shot because the minute I had slapped rather too much butter on this toast I suddenly had the realisation that this won't be happening in a week or so when rationing kicks in and excess butter might have the Ministry of Food or just my guilty conscience on my back.  😄

So random photos or a nice day out, a recipe that I have enjoyed making, a holiday, a washing line full of clothes blowing in the sunshine, all these sorts of things inspire me to write a post and occasionally take an extra photo to add to a post.  

But what inspires me to read a post written by others? 

 Usually, it is a catchy title, or a nice top photo, a mention of books, or maybe I am going by to see how something panned out for them.  I do know I prefer blog posts with photos, even just one that shows what the post is about.  When you click on to a post and there is just one huge paragraph of long writing it can be hard to concentrate, especially if like me you are reading on occasion at silly o'clock in the morning.

What inspires you to either read a blog post or write one?

Oh, and I do love a question that inspires me to write a blog post!!

Sue xx

Tuesday 20 September 2022

So, What Did My Gousto Box Teach Me


So, what did my Gousto box teach me?

It taught me that I much prefer simply cooked and simple tasting meals, and it taught me that I prefer a little dash of mustard in my cheese sauce, and that I love sticky onions.

Was my £15 spend worth it, oh yes.  

It made me think and it made me want to let go of so many of the bad food habits that I've been slipping into just recently.  Now is the time to head back to simplicity and my new Wartime Rationing Challenge ... and what a perfect and at times tasty way to find out.  So, for £15 it was worth it, would it have been worth the full price of £42 ... NO!!

Our evening meal on Sunday eaten in front of the television watching an episode of McDonald and Dodds was the Classic Plant Based Cheezeburger with Sticky Onions.  It was supposed to be served with a side of chips, but we both decided that would be too much.

Instead, I added the small bag of mixed leaves from the pack to a handful of homegrown leaves and one of my homegrown cucumbers, and a couple of extra cherry tomatoes from the plant outside the back door were added to the tomato trimmings that I had after taking off the 4 slices that I needed for the burger.

It was delicious, and the extra salad and no chips was the perfect amount for us both.  Alan is a real salad fiend and will choose salad over chips every time we are out for a meal.  His is the larger salad on the left ... I get jaw-ache with all that chomping if I eat as much as him. 😄

I had saved one of the recipes that was the quickest to make for us to eat during the Queens funeral yesterday, this was the Plant Based Broccoli Cheeze Pasta.  It was absolutely delicious and in my opinion the star of the four meals.  I managed to make it in just over the quoted 10 minutes, while the Queen's coffin was on the way to Windsor.

We had it with a glass of wine and a toast to Her Majesty.

Wasn't it a brilliant day, and in my opinion the only thing that is spoiling it for me now is the constant nit-picking of mostly American 'journalists' who are just determined to fan the fires of old news and create rifts that are mostly not even there.  Here in the UK, we do this sort of occasion so well and I am honoured that this is the second State Funeral to be held in my lifetime, although of course I have no memory of the first one ... did we even have a television in our small family home then?

The meal I had on Saturday was the Tofu Fish, Chips and Mushy Peas.  

The least said about this one the better.  Alan had said a firm no to this particular meal, so it was just for me.

The chips were fine and luckily, I could have both portions, although cooking them in the required amount of oil and in the oven made my little lodge smell like a Chippy for a full 48 hours afterwards.  The peas were lovely not mushed up, oh how I hate mushy peas of any description, slightly squished maybe but mushed ... never!!

But Tofu Fish I did not enjoy at all, I was brave and used the Marmite in the batter and rather amazingly that was the nicest part of it, but I have never been a tofu fan, and this has cured me of any desire to try to get it into my diet.

The final meal should have been this one, but to be honest I just cannot face all the faffing about with the Aubergine Pickle so I will be simplifying it right back to Coconut Dahl and Rice ... and enjoying it my way.

So, getting the Gousto box for that brilliant price was really worth it for the lessons that I have learned this week, and to really bring it home to me that eating simply IS the way forward for me, whether it be wartime rationing as is the plan or simply eating foods that do not require a multitude of steps to bring forward a flavour.

I guess I am just a simple girl ... and perhaps I had forgotten that.  

Sometimes you need a little reminder.

Sue xx

Monday 19 September 2022

Queen Elizabeth II


Queen Elizabeth II

21st April 1926 - 8th September 2022

Rest in Peace 🌹


Saturday 17 September 2022

Something Different for the Weekend - Gousto Unboxing Video


The other week I was watching an Instagram clip and there was as 65% discount code for a first ever Gousto box, and as I have never had one of these subscriptions before I suddenly thought what a perfect ... and affordable ... way to see what all the fuss is about.  

First I had to choose when to have my box delivered, obviously we were going away on holiday so that week was out, then last week I was running down the fridge, freezer and cupboards a bit ready for my wartime rationing challenge to kick off  (away with you temptation) and then I realised looking into my now nearly empty fridge what a perfect way to end my modern eating and move on to austerity and simple food.  So, I chose my five meals paid the first payment and placed the order and sat back and waited for my box.

My box should have cost me £42.99 plus delivery cost, but as a first order and with the offer of free postage and packing it came to just a smidge over £15.  Not bad I thought, five meals for two people for that amount.  I was happy.

And here without fanfare or any to do of any description is my very amateur unboxing of my first Gousto box.  Spot the two very un-deliberate mistakes if you can.  😄

No sooner was the box unpacked than we decided to have one of the meals for our tea.  Alan was not keen to try the Tofu Fish and Chips, so we decided on the Baked Butternut Squash Biryani with Cultured Coconut.

I had always thought all the ingredients for each meal came in individual bags, but maybe that is one of the other subscription boxes, anyway I separated out all the ingredients that I needed for the dish and set too following the instructions.

They were really easy to follow, even for someone likes me that doesn't seem to be able to follow a recipe without going back over and over reading through things.  I am much more of a chuck things in the pan and see what happens type of cook.  Anyway, I loved the way this was all set out, easy to follow and absolutely step by step, even down to 'put the kettle on'.

I made the meal in just over the time the recipe card said it should take and as we both are not keen on chillies; I heeded the warning to go easy on them if this was the case.  Instead of the whole chilli I just chopped up about a third of it to sprinkle on the finished dish 

In our rush to try out the meal I totally forgot to take a photo.  So here is the finished dish as it looks on the Gousto website.  If you imagine this halved and placed artistically onto two white bowls with a dollop of yoghurt each and much less of the chillies and coriander (neither of us are fans of coriander) that is what we had.

Verdict - very tasty.

But the chillies even in their much-reduced amount were far too hot for both of us, it was pretty filling and something I really loved was the very minimal washing up.  Just the one pan that it was cooked in, a chopping board, knife, two bowls and two forks ... oh and the free wooden spoon that I got in my box.

Now all we have to do is to choose the next meal out of the four that are left.

Sue xx

Thursday 15 September 2022

Alan Hits the Heights


How brave is my man, seen here cleaning out the gutters!!

You might take one look at these photos and think 'that's not too bad I could do that!'  But Alan has a real fear of heights, so much so that he could not even walk the lower ramparts around the edge of Conwy Castle, he froze completely on the London Eye ... and our souvenir photo shows a white ghost of a man clutching the handrail and me with the whitest of knuckles.

We've had one of the dry verge ends of the roof hanging off the side of Alan's house for months now.  We were going to do something about it in Spring and then our neighbour spotted that some birds had built a nest in the space behind the edging cap.  We both witnessed them flitting in and out feeding their young for quite a while, so we left things as they were and just prayed that the large piece didn't fall off completely before the babies fledged.

Alan working under the watchful eye of the guy who owns the cherry picker.

He did great and the job was done in ten minutes, although I'm sure it felt a lot longer than that for Alan.  He did manage a tentative wave when I asked him to ... yes, I'm cruel like that.

And before long he was being slowly lowered back down to earth ...

... knuckles not quite so white, but still looking a little worse for the high-rise experience.

The guy with the cherry picker took pity on Alan and went up himself to check all the back flat roof part of Alan's house and clean that up before he left.  So that's both our homes nice and safe for Winter, gutters cleared, loose bits reattached, flat roof clear.  Because while he was in the maintenance mode Alan also cleared out the gutters on my Lodge ... which luckily are only about eight foot off the ground and reachable with a small ladder.

I also have interior winter prep in full swing as it's been getting so much colder in the evenings this past week.  Today I am washing the 4.5tog duvet and putting the warmer 10.5 duvet in the cover instead, these last few nights have seen me piling the bed up with additional lightweight covers to try and keep warm.  While I'm at it I will also be packing away the lightest of my summer clothes.  It will be so nice to see some of my old faithful woolly jumpers and some darker colours again.

Are you starting to plan for the coming cooler months?

Sue xx

Tuesday 13 September 2022

In Safe Hands, Sulking and Books

Someone asked about the animals while we were away, well for the third time this year we left them at home in the capable hands of pet sitters ... from reputable companies twice and once with Uncle Jason and Aunty Tash when we nipped back to Wales for a couple of days.

Sonya, Andy and their daughter Hannah, a lovely family from Queensland, Australia were originally pet-sitting their way around the UK before Sonya was offered a job with the NHS.  Now they are visiting Ireland and then she's re-entering the country this time on a work visa, and they are all staying for two years ... our motley crew and little town didn't put them off the British way of life then!!

To say our animals fell in love with them would be an understatement.

Mavis sulked and refused to eat for 24 hours and spent all her time sat on the doormat after our return waiting for Andy to come back.  Ginger has taken to sleeping on Hannah's bed, her staying obviously brought back happy memories for him of his first owners and he spent every night with her.

They have obviously just about forgiven us now that we have been back home for four days.  Going away and leaving them, although knowing that they were in the safest of hands was hard.  So much so that we have decided that any breaks that we decide to go on next year should be dog friendly and Ginger can go off on his holidays to Blackpool and stay with Uncle Jason.

You can almost hear Mavis asking, 'Where's Uncle Andy?'

In other news ... I have to hold my hands up and say that while we were away on our travels two more books arrived for me.  These look really interesting ... now I just have to get around to reading all my new acquisitions.

If I ever go on Mastermind my specialist subject could be Rationing During the War Years. 😄

Sue xx

Monday 12 September 2022

A Holiday We'll Never Forget


They say when you hear of a death or something equally shocking you will always remember exactly where you were and what you were doing.  

I was wallpapering my shop walls when I heard on the radio that Diana, Princess of Wales had died, I was sorting through a delivery in the upstairs stockroom of the Scope charity shop when the Twin Towers went down ... and when the news broke that our beloved Queen had died we were sat waiting for our evening meal to be brought to the table before going into the show lounge to watch ' A Tribute to Queen' ... the group not her Majesty.

Of course, the show was cancelled, and all entertainment stopped for the evening.  The staff all changed into black dresses and suits and the huge screens all over the hotel showed the news until the last guest departed for their rooms.  We sat quietly drinking our wine, both deep in thought at times and reminiscing at others.

Such a sad end to what was a lovely holiday.

Each day had started with a lovely breakfast.

We had a game or two of giant chess in the gardens, then puzzles in the lounge.  Alan enjoyed the swimming pool and steam room every day over in the Spa, and I got lots of reading done.  We took part in some of the quizzes in the afternoons and generally relaxed and enjoyed ourselves.

We went out to an Antiques Centre one day and Alan enjoyed a cream scone, oh he does enjoy a good cream scone. 😄

I decided on something more tangible than a cake, although I did enjoy a coffee while he chomped away.  I bought this lovely butter knife and three 1930's Solian-ware Soho Pottery plates as my treat for the day.

The rest of my holiday 'souvenirs'.

Half used toiletries, excess sachets and napkins ... and an apple and a banana that we took one day for a snack and never got around to eating.  The VIP cards and the stars were left on our table each night to show that we had the VIP package and get us a drink of our choosing from the bar free of charge.  On the last night with the sad news of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II we drank our bottle of wine to toast her life but decided that any extra drink would just be too much.  Instead, they are souvenirs of a lovely holiday ... but one that will always be tinged with loss.

RIP Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II   

🌹 ♥ 🌹

Sue xx

Thursday 8 September 2022

Fessing Up ...


I have to confess ... after my big book post of the other day and getting to the final count, I had literally just pressed Publish on the post and there was a knock at the door.  It was the postman with these purchases.

I had forgotten about pre-ordering the latest Miquel Barclay book many weeks ago, but here it was on the day of publication fresh from Amazon.  From Ebay there were these Be-Ro books.  A bang up-to-date edition and a really old one from just after the war years. 

 I couldn't believe the fantastic condition of the old one, it had literally never been used.  I doubted its authenticity for a moment but the old staples and slight rust marks where they are give its age away nicely.

Front covers.

I bought one of each so that I could compare how things have altered over the years.

Back covers.

And inside.

I'll give these a good look through when I get back, even I don't take cookbooks on holiday with me ... well rarely.  😁  

Then later in the day another book arrived via the Amazon delivery driver.  Now this one looks really interesting ... although is one week on rations enough for anyone to really get a taste for it?  I don't know, when we did it last we did it for a month and that seemed just about right.

Anyway my book total now stands at - 340 ... a nice round number in my opinion. 😀

Oh, if you were wondering why I have two of the latest Be-Ro editions it's because it's how this particular seller was selling them, and I thought it would add to my little collection of giveaway items that I'm putting together for my other blog, ready for when I start the new rationing Challenge.  Just a chance for some of the Subscribers of that blog to perhaps win a little something related to what I'm doing.

Sue xx