Wednesday 30 November 2022

I didn't really think this through ...


I thought I'd get ahead of the game yesterday afternoon and get my two new Advent calendars out and ready for action.  This Bonne Mamon jam one fitted pretty well on the little drawer unit next to my Welsh cupboard.

I hadn't really thought about the length of the Grow Your Own calendar.

I laid all the packets out on the floor, pulled out as much string as I could comfortably get away with to peg them onto neatly, and then wandered round the lodge with it looking for suitable wall space.  This was the only area suitable ... and even that meant cutting a couple of feet more off the string.

It works just fine and decorates the hall outside the bathroom door nicely for Christmas.  

I have decided that I will be rehanging the little envelopes back on their 'washing line' once I have taken my seed packet out each day to keep it looking nice and festive.

Now all that's left to do is to get last year's Advent calendar out from under my bed after I packed it away filled with the decorations for this year's tree.

Sue xx

Monday 28 November 2022

Only a Few Days to Go

 One of the perks of having a blog is being able to trawls the archives and see for yourself exactly what you did last year, or the year before or in my case back in 2008.  When I was looking at my dusty radiator shelf the other day and slightly berating myself for lack of dusting, I salved my conscience with 'Well I'll be decorating it for Christmas next week'.  Then I tried to picture in my head how I had done it last year and came up with ... a blank!!

It took me less than a minute this morning to find this shot from last year and then I remembered.  This year some things may be similar, but others will be different as looking at all the other photos that I have, it seems I've sold some of my pots, used up some of the things.

And the littlest tree from last year is now happily planted in the garden, so he won't be coming back in ... but he might still have some lights put on him to brighten the end of the path. 

I have traditionally ... well since we got married back in 2007 ... put the Christmas decorations up on our anniversary, which is the 4th of December, and it suits us just fine.  This year though it's been nice to see all the neighbours gradually decorating their houses a smidge earlier than usual.  I think we are all in need of a little bit of cheer after all the bad news, bad weather and bad fuel price predictions.

It seems nothing will make us have a dark and dreary Christmas, now I just need to go and have a rummage through the various boxes and see if I have any Christmas jumpers left to wear and start planning what I have and where it's going.  

After all there's only a few days to go now.

Sue xx

Friday 25 November 2022

Getting Ready for Even more Simplicity


I forgot to mention at the start of the week, that last weekend I emptied out the three large planters of potatoes that I planted back in August. it was only when I saw Angela's tasty little harvest that I remembered the photographs languishing in my camera.  

 I had noticed weeks ago that the foliage was all really dying back quickly, but I had to smile to myself when I rounded the corner to the shed and saw that all greenery had completely vanished ... nothing to go into my new bargain tiny compost bin then.  πŸ˜„

We didn't get many potatoes from the 18 planted but what we did get was split between the two of us.  Alan decided to try and keep his for our Christmas lunch, but I thought I would cook up half of my portion for a shared meal that night and I still have the ones in the blue bag to have for another meal.  There might not have been many, but they were delicious, and of course now I have those huge planters to plant either more potatoes in or something else for next year.

And next year I really do want to try and grow more and finally get my tiny vegetable garden into full production.  I now have both the fancy wooden raised beds and these three large planters, and once December is over I should have a good stash of seeds from my Advent calendar.

Next year is going to be a year of real simplicity as I am already making plans to stop spending on anything but the absolute necessities.  The food budget is to be cut to whatever money I have been able to make this year ... it's not been counted yet, so that could prove interesting.  As most of you are aware this year I have sold at two table-top sales and on and off all year on Facebook Marketplace.  I have just made a final book sale via Ziffit and made myself another £22.48.  

A little tip that I learnt this year, if Ziffit doesn't offer you much for your books or DVDs, try alternating with selling via webuybooksBy doing this I have managed to get quite a bit more money each time!

It all adds up, so hopefully I have enough in my little pots and boxes of cash dotted about the place to cover my housekeeping budget for next year.  I have gotten into the bad habit of squirreling away the money that I have been receiving over the year in dribs and drabs in the strangest of places, and sometimes where I expect to find money in my old Sealed Pot for example, I instead find something completely different.  Salt and spices anyone?

I have no idea how much there is, but I managed to get rid of most of the small change when we did the table-top sale so it is at least in one and two pound coins and notes which will make shopping with cash much easier.

I have tried doing variations of this a few times and I always seem to make it more complicated than it needs to be, so this time I am keeping it really simple and just having the pot of money to dip into whenever I need to shop.  When it runs out, it runs out ... as simple as that.  So, the only real Challenge is not to dip into it too often!!

Sue xx

Wednesday 23 November 2022



Sometimes taking a step back from things and giving yourself permission to say NO is exactly what's needed to keep your sanity.

It is such a little word and yet is has the power to hurt at times, the power to free you at others and can be tempered with 'but ...' when you need to be gentle.

November, a strange month for sure, but one that leads us into December and all that that has to offer ... if you have the courage to say 'no' occasionally.

Sue xx

Monday 21 November 2022

Eight Meals for Under Two Pounds

I have been on a mission recently to eat my way through the contents of the fridge and freezer, trying desperately but not always succeeding  not to make too many portions so that the fridge ends up filling the freezer ... if you know what I mean.  

The other day I bought a bag of baking potatoes from Aldi's Super Six, 13 potatoes for just 99p a real bargain.  I decided to use three of them straight away to help use up the last of the celery, carrots and onion from the fridge.

With the addition of some store cupboard staples to add a real blast of flavour I set to chopping and slicing to make myself a large pan of vegetable stew.

I simply add a dash of oil to the pan and then after washing I chop, slice and add to the pan the things that take the longest to cook first.  In went the onions, then the carrots, then the celery and finally the potatoes.

Once everything had been sautΓ©ing together for about five minutes, I added all my bursts of flavour and the stock powder with about a litre of water.  It was brought to the boil and then left to simmer for about 25 minutes.

Then it was time to divide and conquer.  

Two bowls of vegetable stew, one eaten straight away and one left to cool.  Two portions of pasty filling lifted out of the pan with my slotted spoon and left to cool.  Then the rest of the contents of the pan were whizzed up with my stick blender and made me just over a litre of nice thick vegetable soup.

I filled my two largest bowls with soup and then froze two more portions for another week ... sorry freezer, I know I'm supposed to be emptying you!!

The two containers of pasty filling went into the fridge until the following day.  Then I got out the pastry from the freezer (yay!!) and let it thaw and come to room temperature, before making myself two lovely and very big pasties.

One to be eaten straight away ...

... and one in the fridge.

I did my workings out the next day and found that counting only the foods I used, and always rounding the points of a penny up, my eight portions of food cost me:

3 potatoes = 24p
1.5 onions = 11p
2 sticks of celery = 7p
3 carrots = 12p

2 tsp dried vegetable stock = 2p
herbs and spices = 10p
2 tsp olive oil = 2p

ready rolled puff pastry = 1.05

Total = £1.73.

As I ate each bowl of soup with a slice of toast that added 5p per slice to the final cost of the meals, so I came in at £1.93.

Under two pounds for eight very filling meals.

Of course, you could add all sorts of additions to the basic starter pan using whatever you have lurking in the freezer or fridge.  Frozen vegetables work just as well as fresh and usually cook a lot quicker ... although cooking gently and for longer can greatly improve the flavours, especially with your onion, celery, carrot starter.  

Once you've made the basic pan of stew you could add different things to the stews, the pasties or change some of the soups a bit by adding curry powder or other spices to half of the amount you have.  You could add sausages, tinned or cooked meat or fish to any of the portions and have something completely different flavour wise.   

I just thought I would share this as a basic idea for cheap, warming foods on these cold dreary days. 

 Tonight, I am having the second pasty for my tea ... and I can't wait.

Sue xx

Thursday 17 November 2022

Grow Your Own Advent Calendar


I said I wouldn't buy an Advent Calendar this year, but then I saw this really lovely Grow your Own Advent Calendar advertised and went to the website for a closer look.  

When I saw that it was reduced and its cost made me immediately qualify for free postage and packaging, I fell hook line and sinker into the advertisers grasp.

And I am so glad that I did.

Available from Trees Bees and Seeds

What you get inside the box.

A 10m jute rope washing line, 25 little pegs, 25 'Gift Wrapped Surprises' and a seed sack to store all your seeds.

So, once you have it pinned up and stretched out, and all the little envelopes pegged on the line you also have a lovely Christmas decorative garland of beautiful little envelopes.  That I think I will refill with something completely different and use again next year.

Temptation ... it's a wonderful thing!!

Oh, and did I mention that last week in Booths Alan spotted this.  It was actually cheaper than when I bought it two years ago, Alan talked me into it and bought it for me ... 

... and in return I bought him the Lindt chocolate calendar.

So last year I had toiletries and socks, and this year I have seeds and jam ... and of course I have the online Jacquie Lawson Advent Calendar once again, the best £7 that I spend every year.

It keeps December interesting for sure.

Sue xx

Tuesday 15 November 2022

Less Books, More Space, More Pots


Happily, I have now sold, donated and passed on enough of my books to completely free up the bookcase from the bedroom.  You have no idea how happy my new more streamlined bedroom makes me.

I put the bookcase onto Facebook Marketplace for £10 and it was snapped up in two days.  It was only when the lady came to collect it and handed me the crisp new tenner that I realised that the bookcase had only cost me £8 about three years ago at a local car boot sale.  So pretty good value, three years of use and then a two pounds profit. πŸ˜€

I finished sorting out the bottom cupboard of my living room bookcase the other day, and the books that I did decide to keep from the bedroom bookcase have ended up in there.  It very satisfying to have all the non-kitchen books in one place, well virtually in one place there are a few decoratively dotted around still ... but you'll never cure me of that!!

I think I mentioned last week that Alan had bought me my Christmas presents while we were at Dunelm, he was determined to get them nice and early this year ... and they are already in use.  He bought me a microwave, a new electric kettle and a few pieces of green tableware.  

I saw and fell in love with some handmade green bowls, so I chose the minimum that I thought I could get away with ... and then Alan persuaded me to get the larger plate too.  Which I guess with Christmas in mind, and perhaps needing a plate of sharing nibbles, was quite a good idea.

They are quite a bit greener than this photo shows them, but the light in my little kitchen corridor is terrible today. The rain has not stopped since last night, and I have had to have the light switched on just to be able to see to type.

What are you getting for Christmas this year, a want or a need?

 Mine ... unusually for me ... is definitely a want, as I already had my white crockery, plus some of my retro pretty plates that luckily match in beautifully with my new purchases.

Sue xx

Saturday 12 November 2022

Vitamin Delivery, a Days Food for Me ... and Then a Real Shock

It's been a week of deliveries this week.

First there was the pasta that I talked about on the last post, then my sons Christmas presents arrived and are currently filling up Alan's hall space. Then yesterday my year's supply of Veg1 vitamins came via the postman.  I buy mine from the Vegan Society, as I'm a member I get 10% off my order ... every little helps and all that!!  

Not eating meat I do need to ensure that I have a good supply of B12 in my system, people that do eat meat have it because the animals that they eat are given the vitamins in their food.  Sadly, most animals no longer get to graze outside enough to have it in their systems naturally as B12 comes from the bacteria found mostly in soil and untreated water.  

Anyway, I now have enough to see me through another year and typing this has made me realise that I have yet to take todays tiny chewable tablet.

You can tell that the weather briefly went much cooler ... although it was 17.5 degrees here yesterday ... as I have once again started having porridge for breakfast most days.  My favourite is with a banana sliced and cooked into it for the last couple of minutes.  Having the banana in the porridge and thoroughly heated up, rather than just sliced cold onto the top is a real gamechanger.

Lunch on this particular day was a delicious hummus and salad bun, followed by a delicious dairy free chocolate bar.

Much too tasty for its own good!!

Tea was of course some pasta.  This time cooked with broccoli and peas and then I stirred through a bit more of the hummus to form a delicious sauce with a dash of the pasta cooking water.  Once in the bowl it was topped with some grated Violife.  

I buy the blocks of Extra Mature and grate it myself.  Ready grated cheese always has something added to keep it flowing separately, usually just cornflour, but I really don't like the taste of that in my cheese, so I just grate a whole block or two at a time and keep it in a lidded container in the fridge.

Sadly, when I went to The Vegan Kind online supermarket to pick up a photo of the chocolate bar, I came across THIS message ... wow, what a shock, and what a shame to lose them just as I was about to put in a Christmas order.  There are so many companies really struggling at the moment.

Well, that was definitely not what I was going to post about when I sat down today, but sometimes you just have to go with the flow. 

Sue xx

Thursday 10 November 2022

Splurging, Decluttering ... and First Christmas Presents

I discovered ZENB pasta while watching a YouTube channel, so I decided to check out the website for myself.  When I was offered a 40% discount on a first order just for signing up for the newsletter, I thought to myself why not try it.

The pasta is made with yellow peas instead of wheat so I thought it might be tasty, and it really is!!

I may have gone a little bit mad with my order, but already my purchases are proving to be very useful.  The Agile Bowls are like a healthier Pot Noodle and come with an additional sachet of olive oil to pour over the cooked pasta once it's ready to eat ... a revelation in flavour for sure.  

I've sort of gotten fed up with bread this week, so I took one to Mum's yesterday for my lunch instead of the sandwiches I usually have ... I still made sandwiches for Mum and Alan, and after a horrendous journey in torrential rain for the first half before arriving in a surprisingly sunny Manchester, a hot lunch was just what I needed.

If you fancy learning a bit more about Yellow Pea Pasta, the website is HERE.

Meanwhile the decluttering is ongoing. 

I took all the coursework, recipe folders and the box full of more recipe folders out of the bookcase cupboard and went through them all carefully.  I chose to do it the day before the paper recycling bin was due to be emptied so I would be ruthless and have no chance to change my mind ... and it worked a treat.

Now all the recipes that I want to keep and that might actually get made up again, are in the one black folder, and there is lots of space for me to continue doing the same thing with another stash of recipes that I have.

I am going to use the bottom of the bookcase cupboard to house all the books that are currently left on the bedroom bookcase, and then that bookcase is going.  So, I will have more space in two rooms out of my three-room small home, it's starting to feel very liberating.

Although I have just acquired a few new things from Dunelm for the kitchen as my Christmas present off Alan.  Some things in and somethings out, it's pretty balanced I guess.

Premiered today ...  the John Lewis Christmas Advert 2022.

Yes, it made me cry.

My best friend went into care on Christmas Day many, many years ago ... so it was bound to.  πŸ’

Sue xx

Sunday 6 November 2022

Of Curtains, Candles, Books and Netflix


In this the last month of Autumn, it's really nice to be really slowing down.  

Closing the curtains early, lighting a candle or two and cosying up with a good book, a good television programme or Netflix film while clutching a mug of coffee and maybe a biscuit or three to nibble on.  Pausing only to brush away the crumbs, refresh the coffee and relish the moments that you have created.

I may have slowed down to almost a standstill, but it really doesn't worry me one iota.

Sue xx  

Friday 4 November 2022

Getting Ruthless ... I'm Eating the Ornaments

Well Halloween has been and gone and the little pumpkins have been sat in the kitchen waiting to be used.  I didn't get around to making the soup the other day, so I did it today instead.

It was a simple enough job to slice the pumpkins in half, remove the seeds ...

... and then chop them up a bit smaller and add them to the Remoska with a chopped onion, some celery and a couple of big fat garlic cloves.  With a sprinkle of salt and pepper and then a glug of oil they were then left to their own devices for an hour while I read my way around blogland with my morning coffee.

Puttering away while I enjoyed my coffee.

Once everything was lovely and soft, I tipped the vegetables into a pan added some boiling water and a teaspoon of stock powder and left it to cook on for another 10 minutes before whizzing up to a lovely thick consistency.

So my two tiny pumpkins and their veggie friends gave me two gloriously colourful bowls of soup.  One for lunch immediately and one for tomorrow ... if I can wait that long.

And my little Halloween display has changed for a while ...

... to this.

My painting, the one done by my son which is usually on the wall here is currently at the framers being framed, so I thought I could get away with a little blue-ish display for a while.  I'm making good use of your card Sue.  πŸ˜€

Sue xx

Thursday 3 November 2022

Less Books, Behind Closed Doors and Shopping Lists

 I'm loving my streamlined bookcase so much.

Sorting through the books and selling so many of them over the weekend has made a huge difference.  To you it may not look that much different, but I know what was there, what has gone for good and how it is making me feel.

I guess I need to go around the books I still have and have one final count of them, just to see how many have left the lodge.  I am seriously thinking of having a non-book buying year next year, or maybe allowing myself a set number so that I choose wisely and only buy the most important ones. 

 Yes, there are important books to me and there always will be. πŸ˜€ 

Next on the agenda is checking once again behind closed doors.

 I did most of this before the table-top sale on Sunday and added things from under the bed and from the cupboards to the boxes of things that we took with us.  But still hidden away in there are the things that wouldn't have been saleable, and I really don't need all of them anymore.  My coursework for example for my nutrition courses and recipe files from the Happy Pear courses that I did.  I am going to go through all the recipes printouts and only keep the ones that I know I will use again and again.

I did the first folder this morning, this one was full of all the information that you are asked to leave for the house sitters when you leave them in charge of your home and pets.  We have decided that we won't be leaving the dogs with other people again now that they are older, instead next year's holidays will include them in our travels.  Ginger will be happy to go to Jason's house, or Jason will be happy to come to ours now that he's discovered that our Thursday market has a brilliant and very large bookstall ... and my son is as into books as I am.

I didn't waste any of the paper and recycled it for my own use as shopping lists or just scrap paper.  I'm going to have a lot more of these by the time I have gone through the other folders.  I may never need to buy note paper again.

Sue xx

Tuesday 1 November 2022

Going, Going, Gone ... I Blame the House


By the time I managed to get to the front of the table to get a quick photo, some of the best bits had already gone to other stall holders.  We didn't mind at all of course, after all money is money, the general public and traders weren't allowed in until we had all set up our stalls and been able to relax with a free cup of coffee.  Then it was sell, sell, sell for the next few hours.

Virtually everything sold, and even at the very end when the village hall went quiet and virtually all the customers had gone home, we were still selling to the other stall holders once again.  We reduced our prices right down and others who did regular car boot sales and tabletop sales were buying off us ready for their next events.  

We came home with one box of books and one of assorted bits and bobs.  It made for a quick unloading of the car at home, which was good as Alan needed an afternoon nap before hitting the road for Berkshire and a day in the office yesterday.

My little place is looking much neater now, the top of the bookshelves no longer has a basket and bowl to catch my eye, and my lovely Welsh Bread and Cheese cupboard larder is minus its Spider plant and trug ... and I especially like the look of the bookshelves now that the books are all stood neatly instead of being stacked here, there and everywhere.  

Will it last?  For a while at least ... but you know me, I am always acquiring new books ... I do think slowly decluttering is most definintely the way for me and living with what you have and then realising that you can live with less and less and yet somehow get happier and happier for it, is even better.

I like that blogging about my home makes me more mindful of it and what I have in it.  Looking back over the years when we had so much more makes me realise just how much we have gotten rid of.  I blame most of it on moving into a big four bed farmhouse and the need we felt to fill it with stuff ... well blaming a house is better than blaming me for buying the bloody stuff. 😁

I'm off now, I need to see if I can turn two teeny, tiny pumpkins into a bowl of soup ... that waste not want not wartime rationing mentality is and always has been deep in my soul.

Sue xx