Saturday, 31 December 2016

Good and not so.....

Not so good things about 2016:-

2 deaths of people close to our family.  It's been a bad couple of years for deaths, we've been to more funerals in the past 2 years than we have in our entire lives beforehand

Sister was diagnosed with kidney cancer....i did briefly mention it a while back, but didn't give any details as sis didn't want me to.

OH's daughter had a fast-growing lump in her breast.

My mother was told she's going blind in one eye, with nothing that can be done, and has limited vision in the other.

We were told by our landlord that we were being considered for eviction, which was a horrendous shock, along with 3 other sets of tenants.

My own health worries.....i have a mild congenital liver problem, for which i have regular blood tests.  The latest one shows an alarming rise in one of the liver blood results.  And my diabetes, generally well controlled, has been somewhat erratic recently as a result of stress, I'm guessing.

Good things for 2016:-

Sis had part of her kidney removed, she's been told that it was successful and she's now cancer-free with just a 5% chance of the cancer returning within 10 years (how the doctors know that i have no idea!).

OH's daughter had the lump removed, thankfully it turned out to be benign and she's also been given the all-clear.

Whilst there's nothing the doctors can do about the eye mum is losing her sight in, she's been having regular injections (of what I don't know!) in the other eye, and the sight in that one has actually improved a bit. 

We weren't the ones evicted, thank's a crying shame for the family with 3 young children who were the ones chucked out just before Christmas though.  Thankfully, they have found another place, but what an upheaval at just the wrong time of year!

I'm having a liver scan next week, which hopefully will throw some light on things.  And I'm determined to get back to my previously healthy diet and do a lot more exercise, which will improve my diabetes blood glucose.  Which leads me on to.....

We got Betty!  Whilst she certainly is a lot of work right now, as she's so young and hugely energetic, she continues to be a delight.  Two really good things are that she now sleeps right through the night without a whimper, and she's more or less housetrained.  11 more days till we can start taking her out for we'll be getting plenty of (walking) exercise twice a day from then on.

I hope you all have whatever kind of New Years Eve you want (quiet one at home for us), and wake up tomorrow celebrating the start of a lovely new year.  Thank you all for reading and commenting this year.

Monday, 26 December 2016


Well, Betty slept pretty well last night, lying on Dad's worn t-shirt.  So thank you very much for the tip. 

(I hope it wasn't a one-off!).

Hmm, I was going to put on a video of her having a mad 5 minutes this afternoon, but it won't load, sorry  :(

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Thank you!

I just want to say a quick thank you to both Rachel and Granny J.....both of you have suggested putting an old worn clothing item in Betty's bed.  Fabulous idea - OH is today purposely wearing an old t-shirt, which will be going in her crate tonight.

Having said that, we did actually have a much better night last night, she didn't whine nearly as much and settled very quickly indeed when I came down in the early hours of the morning to finish up sleeping on the sofa. 

So thank you both again - I'll let you know how it goes!

Saturday, 24 December 2016

She's wearing us out!

Thank you all so much once again for the lovely comments about Betty.

She continues to delight us, she's just so funny to watch, especially when she's having a mad 5 minutes - she runs around and leaps about more like a cat than a dog.  She loves all her toys, but especially a couple of soft animals - a chicken and a pig - she grabs them and shakes them like a terrier killing a rat.  We're getting the hang of the right time to take her out in the garden for a pee/poo, she does still go for a wee indoors sometimes (never a poo, thankfully) but always does it on the pee pads. 

We're also now getting into a routine of putting her in her pen under the stairs a couple of times a day, for up to an hour at a time.  It's to get her used to being left alone, mainly for night time but also so we can get on with housework, cooking etc.  She doesn't like it much and whinges to start off with, but soon settles down to sleep.  Night time is still a bit of a problem, she really doesn't like being left alone, but we're persevering, I'm sure it will get easier in a few days.  Last night was the worst, she was waking up and whining a lot about every hour.  Both of us had to come downstairs (one at a time) and just lie on the sofa for half an hour or so - we don't make a fuss of her and certainly don't tell her off, we just check she's ok and then go straight in the lounge.  It seems to comfort her knowing we're nearby.  Once she's fast asleep we go back up to bed.  I hope this phase doesn't last too long!

It's certainly exhausting....apart from the lack of sleep, having to watch her literally every moment she's awake wears us out!  It'll be much better once she's had her 2nd lot of injections and we can start taking her out for walks.  We're taking her for a free health check next Wednesday, she's due her 2nd jabs the Wednesday after that, and i'm guessing it will be a week or fortnight later when we can take her out.  So there is light at the end of the tunnel.

So we won't be able to have our traditional walk on the beach tomorrow....well, I guess we could still go to the beach, but Betty will have to stay in the car, and that wouldn't please her!  Never mind, we'll be doing it soon enough.

I'd just like to wish everyone season's greetings, I hope you all have a wonderful time, whatever you do and wherever you are.  And thank you all for reading and commenting, it's been lovely.  Oh, and welcome to my new follower Yarrow...however you found me!

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Settling in nicely

We are now a puppy owning's just like having a new baby in the house (not that I've ever had one actually, but I assume it is!).  Betty does a lot of sleeping, and when she's awake she wants our attention constantly.  Bless her, we are besotted.

The journey home yesterday was fairly uneventful, she slept most of the way but was a little bit sick a couple of times....luckily it was obvious when she was about to do it and I was well prepared.  When we got in she went straight in the bed in her cage under the stairs, which we were happy about - shows she regards it as a safe comfy place.  She soon came out and starting exploring though.  She's quickly got used to being taken in the garden for toileting and has only had a couple of accidents indoors - both times as a result of us not being quick enough to get her out.

Last night we settled her down in her cage in the playpen under the stairs before going to bed, leaving a radio on quietly and a lamp on in the lounge.  She did cry a few times, which we initially ignored as it was only for 3 or 4 minutes at a time.  However, around 3 am she began making more noise, so I got up, went down and took her outside for a quick wee, then put her back in her bed.  I dozed in the recliner armchair in the lounge, leaving her in her bed - she was fine after that, she seemed reassured by knowing I was nearby.

OH has been out this morning (to collect the food shopping, it had to be click and collect when I ordered it last week as there were no delivery slots available at all for this week!), he also called into the pet shop and bought a calming spray, it's essential oils to spray on her bedding, hopefully it may help her feel less anxious and settle easier.

She's bonded very well with us, especially with OH, he's even more besotted with her than I am (although won't admit it!), he's sitting on the floor with Betty asleep on his legs.  Photos:-

The last one's a bit blurry, sorry. 

Friday, 16 December 2016

Keeping myself busy

I've probably said it before, but I love crocheting in the winter, there's something very comforting about sitting with a lapful of blanket or throw, seeing all the rows mount up, whilst watching a good film and sipping a mug of hot chocolate. 

Crocheting has a dual purpose at the minute keeps me occupied so I'm not constantly thinking about Betty! 

I've just finished this:-

It's a pram blanket, I can show it here as the recipient (or rather, the recipient's mother!) doesn't read my blog.  I'm really pleased with how it turned out, it was one of those variegated yarns, premium acrylic but with a lovely soft cotton feel.  The only thing was the yarn had a lot of joins and knots in it, which was a pain in the bum. 

I'm halfway through a lap throw, following one of Lucy at Attic24's patterns, it's also going to be a gift.  Want to get it finished before Lucy's crochet-a-long blanket starts next month, have the yarn pack sitting waiting.

I bought some more yarn last month when we were away in Torquay - not that I need anymore yarn, I didn't even have a purpose in mind for this latest yarn - I just liked the look of it so much. 

The colours haven't shown up very well, the left one is all pale pinks, blues and soft greys, the right one deep purples, blues and greens.  Got 6 balls of the pink one, 3 of the huge purples one.  I'm not going to start using them until after the Lucy CAL though, and when I've thought of what to make!

Some time in the future I will need to make a throw or something with all the oddments and half balls, got quite a lot of those now.

5 days to go! 

Tuesday, 13 December 2016


December is my least favourite month of the year.  I don't much like winter anyway, but December is just sooo busy everywhere you go, the tv has what seems like nothing but sloppy Xmas films showing, or constantly repeated adverts for what's on over Xmas, or dozens of commercials for expensive 'must-haves' for the kids, or your Xmas lunch. 

We don't really do Christmas, for several reasons.  The main one is that neither of us was brought up celebrating it, as both of our families avoided celebrating for religious reasons.  Neither of us is religious, so the same doesn't apply to us, but when you're not used to celebrating something.....well, it seems pointless doing it even if you can.  OH's children and grandchildren are all grown up and none of them live near us.  My beloved Nan died on Boxing Day in hospital many years ago and it had a profound effect on me, I clearly remember going to visit her there and seeing how ill she was, I'm reminded of it every Boxing Day.  And both OH and I hate all the expensive over-commercialism of it - not that it has to be that way, I'm well aware that Christmas can be done on a budget...or not, as you choose.  And each to their own, of course.

However, I do like certain things about Christmas - all the cheesy xmas songs, hymns or pop songs, I love them all.  We like spending a couple of days together watching TV (fortunately there are generally a few really good programmes on) and eating/drinking whatever we want, just for a day or 2, and knowing we can please ourselves doing whatever we choose.  We like to go for a walk on Christmas day, if the weather allows, preferably on the beach - everyone you meet is so friendly and cheerful (probably full of mince pies and sherry! 😂😉).  And I do love to see Christmas decorations and lights.

There's a street in Burnham on Sea, well a little cul de sac actually, that really goes to town every year on Christmas decs, they do it for charity, they have a collecting box for a couple of the local charities.  It's so well known it's even on the news and was in one of the national newspapers the other day.  Each year we keep saying we're going to go and have a look, but have never got there for one reason or another.  Well yesterday we did, and it was wonderful:-

The householders put so much effort into it, they must take weeks to do all the displays, it was absolutely lovely.  There were lots of people (I tried to take photos in between all the people) - families with children and couples young and old (with us somewhere in the middle!).  We took a bagful of change to put into the collection box.  The photos taken with my phone don't really do it justice, it truly is spectacular.  There are videos of it all online if anybody really wants to look.

Thank you once again for the lovely comments about Betty....only 8 days to go now!  And to Gemma's Person - thanks for the reminder that she may be sick in the's a 3 hour journey so we will be mindful of that, we were planning on at least a couple of stops anyway and will be taking old towels, newspapers, puppy wee pads and water, so hopefully will be equipped for everything.  Oh, and a couple of toys and her bed.  We also have a soft travel kennel she can be in securely, unless she prefers to sit on my lap (in the back seat).

Friday, 9 December 2016

Another Betty pic

She's now 6 1/2 weeks and looking unbearably cute, she's definitely grown since the last photos.  And we can see her better without the daft Xmas jumper.  I wish it was the 21st!

I expect I'll be putting a lot of pics on, as it will be interesting (well, to us anyway!) to see how she's changing, and of course to look back on when we've had her a while.

We have new neighbours 2 doors up who have a little black Springer/Cocker spaniel cross puppy (a Sprocker, they call her), who is also really cute, she's 3 or 4 weeks older than Betty.  They're going to have playdates!  It will get them socialised and used to other dogs.  The vets we've registered Betty with hold regular puppy parties, again to socialise the pups, get them used to viewing the vets as friendly fun places, and to start basic training....we'll be taking advantage of that (and it's free!).

I must finish my crocheted baby blanket, the main body is done, just 2 rounds of edging to do and the ends to sew in.  I've done no crochet this week, time has just run away with me.  Must get on and finish it in the next couple of days....the baby recipient isn't due until February, but no doubt once we've got Betty I'll be fully occupied!

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Dog stuff and cooking stuff

Very foggy morning, can't see the fields this sign of it lifting either.

2 weeks tomorrow till we collect Betty!  Some of you have left helpful comments about puppies - thank you very much.  Regarding a crate - yes we agree it's a good idea, in fact we bought one straight away, as soon as we'd seen Betty.  We've got a good size area underneath the stairs, the crate's gone there.  There's about a foot of floor space along the front of the crate, and a space the size of the crate to the side of it, this is to be her playpen.  OH is making a fence to put across the front of the space to keep her in there overnight - we didn't want to lock her in the crate.  This way she can get out of the crate if she wakes and has an area to pee in if need be (we've bought some puppy pads to put down for the first couple of weeks, she'll be paper trained by the breeder, but we want to get her trained to go in the garden asap), and some space to have a play.  We've put a nice soft bed in the cage for her, along with a cuddly furry toy for comfort (I've unstitched it, taken out the squeaker and sewn it back up!).  I'm taking a small fleece blanket when we go to pick her up, she'll sit on that on my lap on the way home (hopefully asleep!), so that will go in the crate too, it'll have my scent on so that should give her a bit of comfort also.  I think the breeder is going to give us a toy that Betty, her siblings and mother have been playing with, so another thing with a comforting scent.  We'll be taking up the suggestion of leaving a radio (tuned to a talk or classical music station) on low overnight, thank you - I also read that on a dog trainer website.  We're counting down the days now!

We've got quite a few home grown pumpkins and squashes in the utility room, it's a brick built outhouse on the side of the kitchen and has no heating, so it's always cool in there.  Even so, I noticed this morning that one of the pumpkins has gone mouldy.....I'll have to remember to check them every day from now on.  I've chopped up 2 of the pumpkins, 2 big traysful, they're roasting in the oven with paprika and sage.  Most of it will be frozen, but I'll be using some in a pumpkin quiche for dinner this evening.  Saw it when I was googling for pumpkin recipes and thought I'd adapt it a bit - I'm going to use blue cheese with some more sage, instead of the Cheddar that was mentioned in the recipe.

I'm also about to chop up and roast another couple of trays of veggies to freeze - potatoes, swede, parsnips and carrots.  They freeze well and it saves so much time when I can just grab a bagful out of the freezer and bung them straight in the oven.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Preparing for the next few weeks

Thank you for the comments, and welcome to the 2 new followers - not sure who you are but welcome anyway.

I've decided to have our food shopping delivered for the next few weeks, to save our sanity - we just loathe having to fight through the crowds in the supermarket at this time of year.  Particularly when all we want to get is food!  It will also save the problem of what to do with Betty for the first couple of weeks of having her....whether to take her with us and leave her in the car, or leave her home alone for 2 or 3 hours.  We're not really keen to do that while she's so young and we've only just got her, in case she whines or barks - having had to put up with neighbours' dogs barking their heads off for hours at a time, we don't want the same happening with our dog. 

Oh, and we're definitely getting her on the 21st, so not long to go now, 2 1/2 weeks!

I made the Christmas cake this week.....well, it's just a rich fruit cake really which will be fed with booze - no marzipan or icing as OH hates them, and i'm not too keen either, far too sweet.  I've also made mince pies and sausage rolls, which are all in the freezer or they'll get eaten within days.  That's it for advance xmas prep and cooking.  As for the day itself, we're going to have gammon, I'll parboil it then roast with a marmalade glaze.  Neither of us is particularly fond of Christmas pudding, I'm going to make a trifle instead, which we hardly ever have.  We don't normally have puddings at all actually, even when we go out for a meal, but it's nice to have one occasionally.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

December grrr

That was me growling, not the dog, we haven't got her yet  haha.

So begins my least favourite month of the year....I guess mostly because we hardly bother with Christmas, if at all.  But of course lots of people do, which makes going anywhere or shopping for just mundane everyday things like food a complete nightmare, as everywhere is so blooming packed.  I think I might plan to have my food shopping delivered for the next few weeks - it'll hopefully save money (although I'm doing quite well on cutting the shopping bill), but will mainly do away with the problem of the crowds in the supermarket. 

I also don't like the fact that the days are still getting shorter, although at least it's the shortest day on the 21st of this month, so not too long to wait. 

But this month there is one big thing to look forward to.....Betty!  She will be ready for collection on the 21st, but we might not be able to pick her up until the 28th or 29th, depending on OH's shifts.  Hopefully he might find out today what shifts he'll be working this month and over New Year, they change them all about at this time of year, it's a right nuisance.

Today I will put up my one and only Christmas decoration (see, I'm not all bah humbug!  😉🎅 ) - a lovely little wreath of twigs and berries - in the hall window.  We do also usually put cards on the living room hearth, but won't this year - Betty will probably eat them lol. 

This is the scene from the front bedroom window this morning:-

Glorious sunshine and a hard frost over the fields....just beautiful.

Thanks for all the lovely comments about Betty.  We're so looking forward to getting her, she will completely change our lives, I'm sure.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Another pic

Dc of Frugal in Norfolk has asked about Betty's parentage.....sorry, I forgot to mention it.  Her dad is an English Bulldog, mum a Shar Pei....hence her being a Bull Pei (made up name I guess, like cockapoo, labradoodle, etc.).  We think she looks more like her mum, whereas her brother, who we were initially thinking about having, has more of a bulldog look about him.

Been busy researching vets and insurance, and looking around the house checking what we've got to move round/cover up/put out of sight.  My wool and WIPs I have in bags beside my armchair have definitely got to go upstairs!  And there are some trailing and loose leads for electrical things that OH needs to deal with.

Oh, and when we have her home, we shan't be putting xmas jumpers or reindeer antlers on her, like the breeder keeps doing when she sends us photos!  Oh well, each to their own I guess - it's not us though  😒

Friday, 25 November 2016

Puppy pic

Our little Betty.  The breeder is going to send me more pics and videos regularly, until we go to collect her after Christmas.


Thanks for the comments on my meat post, it seems lots of us are eating less meat and more veggie meals.

After much deliberation over the last couple of weeks, we've decided to have a dog.  We always used to have dogs years ago, mainly large ones - German Shepherd, Red Setter, couple of large mongrels.  After the last one passed away we got a caravan and decided not to have any more dogs for a while.  Whilst I know loads of people take dogs away in their caravans, we felt a van was just too small really for a dog, especially the large ones we favoured.  Having got rid of our caravan a while ago now, we've decided we want a dog again. 

We worked out what we want in a dog now, bearing in mind the fact that we're both getting on a bit(!!), where we live, our lifestyle etc.  Basically, we want a smaller dog who isn't too lively, doesn't require hours of energetic exercise, is placid and easy-going, friendly and loyal.  But not a handbag dog!  Oh, and we also want a puppy, not an adult dog (we've mainly had adult rescue dogs in the past, but they can be a bit challenging) - a puppy should be much easier to train than an older dog who may already be set in its ways with bad habits.  Plus the life span of an older dog is obviously less.  Having researched breeds, an English Bulldog seemed to fit the bill - and I've always liked them anyway, their ugliness and grumpy expressions make them just beautiful in my opinion.  However, the prices put me off - a purebred English Bulldog puppy would be upwards of £2000!!  REALLY?!  I even saw one on sale for £6,500 - for goodness sake!  No way would we pay that, even if we could afford it - which we can't.

Anyhow, to cut a long story short, last weekend we saw some puppies advertised for sale, they're crossbreeds, look adorable and are a price we're willing and able to pay.  I rang the breeder and had a lovely chat with her, she sent me loads of pictures, so we went to see them.  She answered all our questions, showed us everything we wanted to see, she owns and showed us both parents, who are both lovely friendly healthy dogs.  She also has 2 adult dogs she kept from the previous litter, so we know what the puppies are going to look like when they grow up.  And of course the puppies were gorgeous, we've chosen a cuddly, wriggly, squeaky little girl who we are calling Betty.  They're just over 4 weeks old at the moment, so we'll be collecting her just after Christmas.

We can't wait!

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Making the meat last

I had a good look through the freezers yesterday and noted down exactly what meat we've got in there, it's more than I thought:-

1/2 a lamb (that's 16 chops, 4 joints, rolled breast, liver and kidney)
20 chicken thighs, divided into 5 packs of 4
12 pork steaks, in packs of 2
2 packs of steak mince
3 packs of back bacon
1 pack of pork mince
20 pork sausages, frozen as 4 packs of 5
1 whole organic free range chicken (bought for half price as it was on it's date)
1 small gammon joint

I'm going to set a mini challenge to see just how long I can make this meat last, without buying any more until it's all used up.  Having said that, OH has said he'd like a beef joint for Christmas, so we will be buying that.

We are big meat eaters, we do tend to eat meat most days, although I have been trying to do a veggie meal once or sometimes twice a week lately.  But there's no reason why we can't have more veg-based meals, and I'm certainly going to try using less meat in recipes, bulking the recipe out with more veg or pulses.  The pork steaks, for example, are big thick ones....we could have just half of one each with more veg.  Or I could use one diced up in a risotto or something, and with plenty of veg added that could even stretch to 2 meals for the 2 of us.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

My (not so secret) vice

I love crochet, especially in the winter, there's nothing nicer than sitting crocheting in my recliner armchair, with the lovely blanket WIP on my lap keeping my knees warm, and watching a good film.

I mainly crochet baby blankets, bed size blankets and lap throws, some for us, some as gifts.  I keep thinking about maybe trying to sell some on Etsy or ebay or at craft fairs, but just haven't got around to it.  I do fairly straightforward things now.....when I was in my teens I used to make tops or cardis, and once made a very fine cotton lace tablecloth as a present for my mother - don't have the patience for that sort of thing now.  And in any case, my eyesight's not that good anymore!

When we were away last week, I went in a lovely wool shop and bought some beautiful yarns, 3 different lots, enough to make 2 or 3 throws plus some hats with the clever Loom Knitting kit I also bought. I can't knit to save my life, but the loom knitting frames are like giant versions of those French Knitting things we used to do as children.....cotton reels with 4 nails banged into them.  Even I can manage that sort of knitting!

And I noticed yesterday that Lucy of Attic24 is going to start a new Crochet-a-long blanket in January, she's just made the wool pack available in Wool Warehouse.  I love Lucy's designs, so of course I just had to buy that as well.

OH keeps having little digs about the amount of wool I've bought, but I tell him it's all useful, it keeps me happy and occupied whilst he's at work, and at least I'm not buying clothes or shoes or unnecessary crap!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Bargain shopping and meat order

We've got quite a few outgoings this week, so I decided to use the nectar points I've been collecting since January for the shopping.  I've accumulated £46 worth of points, pretty good going.  Shopping came to £40.29, so it cost me 29p in real money - bargain. 

We collected our meat order today, I generally reckon on spending around £100 on meat every 3 months - as I said in a previous post though, the meat has been lasting us longer than that, more like 4 months, so it'll be £100 ish 3x a year now.  We got 1/2 a lamb, chicken thighs (19 or 20 of those) and 10 large lean boneless pork steaks, it came to just over £90.  All the meat is from local farms, we've had it all before and it's delicious, the pork steaks are the best we've ever tasted.  The lamb was a big one, it's come as 16 chops, 4 big joints (shoulder and leg, each cut in half), huge breast which the butcher boned for us, I stuff and roll it myself, liver and kidney.  We've still got 2 packs of steak mince, a pack of back bacon, 2 pork steaks and 4 chicken thighs left from the last order, we're having the chicken tonight. 

We don't bother much about Christmas, I don't like all the commercialism of it and object to paying overinflated prices for stuff that gets used once a year.  We don't buy each other Xmas presents, we have everything we need or want.  Since OH only ever has 2 or sometimes just 1 day off over Christmas, we don't go anywhere or have anyone to stay (our relatives all live quite far away), we just prefer to stay in, eat some nice food, watch something good on TV and enjoy spending time together.  We don't have turkey since neither of us particularly like it, we have a roast of something we really do enjoy.  We're thinking about beef this year, we don't have beef that often.  Or maybe a nice big gammon joint.  Think we'll go back to the butchers next week and have a chat with him.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Back to shopping, stocking up and budget

Thank you for the birthday wishes.

Now we're home and getting back into some sort of routine after a bit of a disrupted few weeks, I'm thinking about our budget and shopping habits again.  Planning, putting money aside, and stocking up I think is definitely the way to go - well it is for us anyhow. 

For the past couple of years now, we've been saving all our £2 coins, and some £1, this is used to pay for diesel when we go away.  This year we'd saved enough to cover all of our fuel for our Scotland trip, Torquay this week, and we still have £24 left in coins, which I'm really pleased about.  By the time we go on our next trip, which most likely will be around next Feb/March, we'll have more than enough to pay for that too.

We have 2 bank accounts, the main one and another which is the car account - a standing order goes from our main account every month to the car account, this is used for tax, mot and insurance, plus an amount to pay for any parts or work needed for the car.  We also have a savings account - if OH's done some overtime, the extra pay gets paid into there.  Also, every couple of days I check our main account balance and transfer a bit over to the savings account....I round the main account balance down to the next £10 - i.e., if we had, as an example, £258.30 in there, I'd transfer £8.30 into the savings account.  I find this a very easy way of adding to the savings, and hardly notice the difference in the main account.  The savings account pays for our breaks away and for replacing any household items that break down (we need a new kettle, eg, as it's on the way out).

For a couple of years now I've been stocking up whenever I see a good offer on something we use regularly.....our favourite antiperspirant, toothpaste, coffee, etc.  Luckily we have the space to store extras, we have a good sized utility room (it's an outhouse actually, brick building tacked onto the side of the kitchen, used to house a loo, coal cupboard and fire with bread oven, all long since gone before we moved it's just a large room with a cupboard for the boiler, plus kitchen cupboards and worktops installed by the previous tenant, with my washing machine, tumble dryer, extra fridge and freezer in there).  This year I decided to experiment with getting a bulk order - supermarket delivery - of all the toiletries, washing up stuff and non-perishable foodstuffs, I aimed for 6 months' worth of goods, estimating the quantities.  It's worked really well, the 6 months are now up and we have almost run out of some things (coffee, baked beans, washing up liquid), but still have plenty of other stuff (tinned tomatoes, sweetcorn, chickpeas, toothpaste).  So now I know what to get more of, and less of, when I put in another order next week.  I'm going to set up another account to put money into to do a bulk order twice a year of the non-perishables, and a bulk meat order too.  We get our meat from a local butcher, he knows us and always gives us a good discount for buying in bulk and being regular customers.  We've been doing this every 3 months, but in practise the meat lasts us longer than 3 months, so will now do it every 4 months, or even 6 if we can. 

Next I'll tackle the weekly shopping, I want to see if I can get it down to fortnightly.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Just back

It was my birthday last Sunday, and a few days before we made a spur of the moment decision to go away for a short break.  Having done a bit of googling, I found an apartment near the harbour in Torquay that was very reasonably priced, so it was booked and paid for.  Torquay's not very far for us to go, it only took us about 1 1/4 hours to get there, so was ideal for a quick short break.  We had a nice time, friends of ours also happened to be on holiday down there and so we met up with them a couple of times, and my brother (whose birthday is also this week) and sister in law came up from Cornwall to spend the day with us too. 

We've decided that we're not really bothered anymore about having one long holiday, with perhaps a couple of short breaks, each year.  Both of us feel we'd rather forego the long holiday and have more short breaks - brother and SiL are always happy for us to go down and spend a few days with them, which is lovely.  We do tend to avoid going there during the summer holiday season though, Cornwall is just far too busy during summer nowadays.  We're also thinking of spending 3 or 4 days at a time in neighbouring counties....we feel we don't have to drive 100s of miles anymore to feel like we're on holiday, it's the break from routine in a different place that's important.  So that's what we're going to do next year.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Yes I've been!

Thank you for the comments....and yes I did mention my cough to the nurse when we went for our flu jabs yesterday.  She said the current cough doing the rounds does seem to drag on for weeks, she also said it could be down to catarrh.  I do have what feels like a pool of thick glue stuck in my throat, and no amount of coughing seems to shift it.  She mentioned an amino acid she'd heard of that apparently is good at dispersing mucus.  I googled it, it's called n-acetyl cysteine, it comes in tablet or powder form and you can get it in health shops.  It has glowing reviews for mucus dispersal and is apparently also used in hospitals following paracetamol overdose, and for liver or kidney complaints.  I've ordered some, should be here in a day or two. 

Meanwhile, the nurse said we may get a headache or some nausea after the jabs, as well as a slightly sore arm.  I don't normally get much of a reaction to them, but she was right about the came on in the middle of the night and it's lingered literally all day, still got it now.  Although I don't suppose the coughing helps.  One lot of paracetamol early this morning did dull it a bit, think I might have to take some more soon.

We're trying to eat a really healthy diet this week, in an effort to perk ourselves up a bit, I'm also cutting down drastically on dairy stuff to see if that helps with the catarrh problem.  Yesterday for dinner we had cod baked in a foil parcel with lemon and thyme, today we're having roasted organic chicken thighs (a reduced to half price bargain in the supermarket yesterday) with veggies.  I also did a beetroot and feta pearl barley salad for was nice but I think I'd rather have had something hot - it's quite grey and chilly today.

The forecasters are saying it's going to get a lot colder this week....winter has arrived, I think!

Sunday, 30 October 2016

It wasn't the cough that carried her off....

Firstly, thank you to everyone for your lovely comments, I think my blogging mojo is starting to come back. 

I haven't felt well since we came back from Scotland 3 weeks's nothing worth bothering the doc about, the cough is still dragging on...and on...and onnn! with no signs of letting up, although I am coughing a lot less frequently now, just still as violently.  My ribs feel permanently as if I'm being kicked by a footballer every day, from coughing so much I guess.  Other than that, I just feel exhausted and really run down.  I suppose these things take time to work through your system, I do seem to be susceptible to slow-clearing coughs since I had whooping cough a few years ago.

I'm starting to feel like cooking again.....proper cooking I mean, rather than just grabbing something out of the freezer and bunging it in the oven.  So I guess that's a good sign.  I don't like Winter, it's my least favourite season, but it does mean lots of stews and homemade thick hearty soups, the one good thing about it. 

Putting the clocks back an hour means we'll have nice light mornings again for a while - lovely, I'm definitely a morning person.  But we'll still be having a bit less daylight every day, boohoo.  At least the shortest day is in December, just before Christmas, so it's not really long to wait before things start picking up again, that's something to look forward to.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Normality returns (hopefully)

Sorry for the absence, it's been a funny few weeks.  A family member with cancer, now operated on and recovering, hopefully....death of an extended family member necessitating a 10-hour round trip for the funeral....OH had a minor accident at work ending up in A&E (thankfully he was fine after a day off work)....visitors who were supposed to be staying for a couple of days, who cancelled at the last minute, which I was quite glad about as am still a bit under the weather, especially after the funeral.  It was the nicest funeral we've been to, if such a thing can be said about a funeral, but the travelling just about finished me off.  I didn't want to talk about any of this at the time and struggled to find anything else to write about, plus I didn't really feel like blogging anyhow.  When I made my last post saying I was taking a break, it really did feel like a huge relief.  If blogging/writing a diary becomes a chore, then there's not much point in doing it.

A bonus was that it gave me time to read and catch up with other blogs, something I'd neglected for a while....I even managed to start commenting again.  If people take the time and trouble to read and comment on my blog, then the least I can do is reciprocate.  I will try to ensure I keep up with the blogs on my list.

So what have we been doing recently?  Well, I guess the big news is that the landlord has told us he's not booting us out as we have always paid our rent on of the other tenants has been given notice though, sadly.  Well, that's life I suppose, when you rent privately you're at the mercy of your landlord.  It's a shame for them though as they have 3 small children and now have to find another home in the run up to Christmas.  They're hoping to get a council house, I hope they do, it'll be more stability for them.  We don't exactly feel safe here anymore, but at least we've got a reprieve for a while.

We've been busy dealing with the harvest of our autumn veg, preserving it to see us through the winter.  Most of it's been frozen - thank goodness we have a small chest freezer (given to us) as well as an under-the-counter upright in the utility room, plus a large fridge/freezer in the kitchen.  Some of the root veg I blanched, some I just chopped up small in the food processor and froze raw, to be added to soups and stews.  Some I chopped into large dice and roasted first, a bagful can be grabbed out of the freezer when I'm short of time and thrown in the oven still frozen to heat through, or it's nice cold with a blob of mayo.  The pumpkins, butternut and acorn squashes are stored in baskets in the utility room, having no heating it's always cool in there.  We have 4 net sacks full of red and white onions in there too.  We haven't enough pumpkins to last through the winter, but as there's tons in the shops for Halloween (oh how I hate that, it's just another massive excuse for the shops to try and get everyone to spend loads of money!!) and they're ridiculously cheap, we've bought a few more, as they store so well.  We have loads and loads of French beans in the freezer, they did exceptionally well this year.

That's about it really.  I've just started on another crochet blanket, I do love crocheting blankets and throws in the winter.  We have enough for our own needs, but I'm aiming to build up a stock of baby blankets and lap throws, as they make good gifts.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Taking a break

I'm feeling quite a bit better, the cough is lessening a lot.  But I just don't feel like blogging.  We've had a lot going on recently which we're very preoccupied with, house stuff, family illness, other stuff, and for a couple of weeks now, blogging has just felt like a chore, one I could do without.  It was getting hard to think of what to write, seeing as I wouldn't be writing about any of the personal stuff.  And so I'm taking a break for a while.  I'll still read everyone else's blogs, that gives me great pleasure, and will comment when I can.  Be back in a while....hopefully.  Take care everyone.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Be back soon

Came back from Scotland with a cold & cough which rapidly developed into bronchitis.  Feeling a little better today, not coughing quite as much and my ribs aren't so sore from all the coughing.  Still got explosive headache though, and some more sleep would be good.  Back next week probably, and hopefully with lots of Scotland photos.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Still here!

We've just yesterday got back from a holiday in Scotland, which was absolutely amazing.  Took 100s of photos.  Will be back in a few days, once I've put them on the laptop and done all the washing and unpacked and put everything away (every room in the house seems to have stuff we brought back from Scotland in it!). 

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Having a look

Thanks Dawn for the suggestion of growing some veg in containers, so that we can take them with us if/when we move.....very good idea.  It would also be a good idea if we move to a place with a garden that's overgrown and needs work before we can start planting - at least we'd have some produce growing whilst we were getting beds prepared.

Recently, we've had a walk round a couple of very pretty small villages that previously we'd only ever driven through, not stopped at.  Both are chocolate box pretty with lovely old houses, one has just a couple of shops, the other has about a dozen, a few of which are high end (expensive!) craft/gift shops.  We were looking, more out of curiosity that anything else, with a view to the possibility of property rentals.  It turns out that both villages do actually have rented properties there, but they don't often come up for rent (understandably - if I lived in a place like that, I'd want to stay there too!).  And, crucially, the rents are way out of our league.  Sadly.  So we need to set our sights lower.

I'm looking online for rental properties every few days....I was looking every day, but seeing the same houses every single day was getting a bit frustrating, better to do it just once or twice a week, when more have been added.  We're also choosing an area to look at and taking a drive out there once a week.  That gives us a good idea of facilities and services nearby, something which we don't have here.  Living in such a rural area, whilst relatively traffic-free (other than tractors and farm vehicles) and of course having beautiful country views, does have its drawbacks.  We feel that as we get older, it would be better to live somewhere that does have a couple of shops, GP, bank or post office and a bus service nearby, none of which we have here.

We aren't panicking, now the initial bombshell shock has worn off, we both feel that something will turn up sooner or later.....after all, the place we live in now just fell into our laps without us even looking!

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Worth it and not

Thanks for the comments on my shopping post.....Rachel, the only reason I don't mention by name shops or branded products is that I've found when I do, I get bombarded by adverts for them.  Not pop ups, I don't have any of those....but on my home page and those websites, blogs or pages I visit which allow adverts.  I always think it's a little bit scary and 'big brotherish' when, 2 minutes after I've mentioned the name of something, it just happens to appear in an ad - we are being watched!!  I reckon it's a downright bloody cheek that somebody somewhere is reading absolutely everything I write....not just this blog (of course my readers aren't bloody cheeky!!), but even my private emails.  Even if it's not an actual person, but some kind of computer programme - well, somebody had to input that programme in the first place.  Invasion of privacy I think.  Ok, rant over lol.

The title refers to what we've grown this year.  We have had an exceptionally good harvest of onions, carrots, French beans, the dreaded courgettes of course, tomatoes, summer squash, cucumbers, raspberries, blackcurrants and strawberries.  We've also got loads of leeks and butternut squash yet to be harvested.  Don't know about the sweet potatoes and oca yet, they'll come later's the first time we've grown both of those.  Not sure about the purple sprouting broccoli or Brussels sprouts yet either, as they're covered up with a netting cage.....they've certainly put a lot of growth on. 

What haven't done so well are potatoes (we've given up growing maincrop spuds in the ground....they get eaten to buggery by slugs).  This year we grew only new potatoes in bags - we've done this before, but didn't have as good a yield this year as in previous years.  The peas (I absolutely love fresh peas, one of my favourite veggies) were doing fine until a sudden and extremely virulent attack of powdery mildew - to do with the weather I expect.  Mooli (Japanese radish) both bolted and were eaten to death by slugs.  Ordinary radishes too get chewed so much before we get to them!  We may have better success with growing those in pots.  Lots of onions started to bolt in early summer (a weather thing again I guess) - we cut off the flowering shoots as soon as we saw them, which seemed to save a lot of them.  Some still developed thick stems, I've made sure to use those first as they won't store.  The blueberries (we have 2 bushes in pots) were doing reasonably well, but the birds absolutely love them.  We had covered them with fleece just before we went away for a few days, but whilst we were away it was extremely windy here, the wind blew the fleece off and the birds had a feast.  We managed to get just a couple of tubs' worth to freeze.  Oh well, they're just as entitled as we are to eat, I suppose!  No pears or plums yet, but the trees are young.  We've had about a dozen apples though, our first year for them from this young tree, a Fiesta variety.

So about now we would be starting to make plans for what to grow next year.  However, since we have no idea where we'll be living next year, we don't know yet what to do.  It may of course be that we're still here, but probably won't know until around February whether that's possible.  And if we do move to a new place, it may be that we have to start a veg plot from scratch...another unknown. 

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

More on the food budget

Thank you once again for all the comments and news to report, but we have been proactive in trying to come up with a list of all our options.  Putting it all down in writing will I think help a lot to clarify things and clear our head in particular has been filled with a whirling mass of thoughts and ideas, none of which I can think about clearly as they're all so clouded by everything else in there. 

Anyway, for the past few weeks we have been thinking about the food budget.  Keeping on top of the freezer and cupboard inventories by deleting things as they're used and adding new things bought or meals made and frozen has been a huge help, as has ticking off meals from the menu plan I made, and adding more to that.  I have also stuck to writing a shopping list every week, which I think is almost certainly the best way to keep the spending down. 

We normally do our shopping in Mr S****burys, simply because we like it - out of the 3 supermarkets in our local town (the others are M****sons and A**a) it's the nicest shopping experience (if food shopping can be said to be nice!), we like their wide range of products and they're pretty good quality.  M****sons is ok, it's cheaper on quite a few things, although not all by any means, but their shelf edge labelling leaves a lot to be desired - the labels are often missing or in the wrong places.  A**a I don't really like at's generally far too busy for one thing, seems to have far more shoppers with noisy children in tow, and the staff aren't as polite! (apologies to any readers who might work there, that's just our experience of our local store).  It's also not that big, so doesn't have as wide a range of products.

The week before last we tried L**l, last week it was A*di.  I wasn't that impressed with L**l, A*di was better, although it was MUCH busier - a result of their massive TV ad campaign, I guess.  But we found with both of those it just wasn't possible to get all of our shopping....they may both be pretty cheap, but are a lot smaller than the big supermarkets and with very limited ranges (I notice they both have loads of crap sugary stuff though, cereals, sweets and cakes!).  So both times we had to also go to one of the bigger supermarkets to get what we needed.

So we've come to the conclusion that it's not worth doing our shopping in either of those.....having to then go on to another store to get other stuff is not cost or time effective.  I think we will continue to do most of our weekly shops in S****burys, but perhaps try to extend the time between shops to fortnightly.  And for dry goods that I generally buy in bulk once every couple of months or so, I'll check online first to find out where they're being sold the cheapest.

Now I have a clearer idea of what we need to buy and where we will be shopping (and how often), I can start thinking about when to begin with our new monthly food budget, and how much to set it at.  We've got a holiday coming up very soon, followed by relatives coming to stay, so it may be best to start after that.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

To expand a bit.....

Annie b - no you didn't offend me, not at all.  As I said, following your comments I did look into retirement housing locally and found it was all large blocks of mainly 1 bed apartments or flatlets, with shared outside space.  That's just not for us.  And our local Council will only allow us to have a 1 bed flat, so again that's not an option for us.

Some people might think 'well beggars can't be choosers' - not that anyone has said anything like that to us, they haven't.  But if we're being evicted, then surely we should take whatever is offered to us?  Well, to expand a bit further.....

Yes, husband is technically an OAP as he's 65, but he's fit and healthy and in no way regards himself as a pensioner.  And he doesn't look his age - nobody believes it on finding out his age.  He's still working as an HGV driver (albeit part time now), mainly because he doesn't feel old enough to retire!  He also feels that if he gives up work, it might have a detrimental effect on him....he worries he might then begin to feel old!  I'm 56 but certainly don't feel my head I'm permanently 39.  So the idea of living in old people's accommodation fills both of us with dread - it's just not us, we're too young!

None of our family live close to us, most of them live in the Midlands, some in Cornwall, some in London.  Thus, when they come to visit, they stay with us for a few days.  So a 1-bedroom place is not an option for us.

Our garden is very important to us, we grow a lot of fruit and veg, aiming to be as self sufficient in produce as we can.....not just for financial reasons, but because we like doing it!  There's so much satisfaction in growing and eating your own food, it's not covered with pesticides or grown in artificial or unnatural ways, and it tastes so much better than shop bought.  And I love to have a pretty front garden with lots of flowers.  We spend quite a lot of time in our garden, husband more so than me, and when he does eventually retire from paid employment, he wants to spend even more time out there.  So any property we move to simply must have a garden.

But everything is so up in the air at the moment, and until or unless we get something in writing, we simply don't know what's happening.  So life goes on in the meantime.

Thank you once again for all your comments and suggestions, I really appreciate all of them.  Also, I appear to have some new followers....not sure who you are, but am happy to have you.  Sorry I haven't got anything particularly interesting to tell you though!

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Mountains of veg

I spent most of yesterday morning prepping a load of our veg for the freezer.

Husband had brought in a large trugful of carrots, a net bag of red onions (about a dozen, and they're all massive, biggest we've ever grown), and bowlful of green and yellow French beans.

The beans I've prepped and wrapped in clingfilm again, in meal size portions, same as I did last week.  Another 6 of those in a bag in the freezer, to join the 10 I did before.

I halved some of the carrots and quartered some onions and threw them in the food processor, chopping them up fairly small.  Filled 2 large ziplock bags, flattening them out to freeze.  It's easy then to take out a bag and break off a suitably sized chunk....I use it straight from frozen, into a saucepan with a bit of oil on a low heat until it thaws and starts to heat through.  Means I have the base of a sauce, mince dish, stew etc. without the bother of having to chop the veg from fresh, and of course saves time.  I did this last year and it was very successful.

Still got loads of carrots and onions....thankfully, the onions store well (tons spread out in the polytunnel, with door and vents wide open, to dry them out).  Some of the carrots I'll cook and mash with dill and parsley and then freeze, some will be sliced, blanched and frozen, the rest to be eaten fresh.

After lunch we went to our local beach for a walk, it was good to be out in the fresh air, even though it was pretty warm (bit too warm for me, but the sea breeze helped).  Didn't think to take any photos, not that it's a particularly attractive beach anyhow, but it is our beach and we like it, I love the fact that we live just a few minutes drive from a beach now, when for years we lived in the Midlands, about as far away from a beach as we could get!  It's one of the things we will really miss if we do have to leave here.

Kate and a couple of other people have suggested we apply to our Council.  I have looked into this, and it's not very promising.  Our Council works on a points system (don't know whether this is a national or local thing), you're allocated points depending on a number of things stand, if we applied we would be right at the bottom of the list (the CAB confirmed this).  We would be given a lot more points if we were given a notice to quit, though.  Council properties are allocated on a bid system - you enter a bid (which is an expression of interest, not a money thing) if you see a property you would like - but you can only enter a bid on a property you are eligible for, and if you have sufficient points.  And the Council will decide who out of all the interested parties gets the property.

The Council will tell you what type of property you are eligible for, based on your needs - family size, ages, disability if any.  We are only eligible for a 1 bedroom property - which for our Council means a flat.  If we were accepted onto the Council list, we could only therefore get just that - a 1 bed flat.  Meaning we couldn't have family to stay, which we do quite often, and of course no garden.  None of our family members live near to us, so when they visit they stay for several days.  And our garden is extremely important to us, not just for sitting in but for growing all our produce.  So for us, applying to the Council would be a last resort, if we do get evicted and haven't found anything else by then.

I do appreciate all your comments and suggestions, thank you very much.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Thank you

for all the lovely comments, it's nice to get them when we're feeling like nobody cares or wants to help.

We went to CAB yesterday (not an experience I wish to repeat anytime soon) - we were there nearly 2 hours, most of that in the waiting room and another 15 minutes waiting for the advisers to come back with some information sheets (which actually turned out to be no help at all).  The 2 lady advisers we saw (one was a trainee) were very kind and sympathetic, they just had no useful advice!  Literally none.  They didn't tell us anything we didn't already know.  I'm not knocking them, just saying it was a complete waste of time.

I've spent ages online searching all the letting agents' websites - rents are a bit of an eye opener.  Our rent here is very reasonable for a 3 bed house, it's because it's on a farm in a rural area with no local amenities, rental places in less rural spots (which most of them are) are so much higher (and I'm talking 100s). 

It was suggested (by annie b I think) that we look at retirement housing.  I quickly found around a dozen not too far away - they are all large blocks of apartments with shared garden areas, varying facilities, some are sheltered or assisted housing, some with different criteria for potential occupants.  None are what we want, even if we fit the criteria - husband may be 65 but he's not old yet!  And i'm 10 years younger.  Basically, both of us feel we don't want to live in an old peoples home, which is more or less what they are, even if you do have your own flat.  And we want a house, not a flat, and it must have a garden.

So we just keep on looking, until we find a suitable place, I guess.

It may be that we're not the ones the landlord decides to boot out in 6 months time.  But we now know that, far from us being able to live here indefinitely as he gave us to understand when we first moved in, he will kick us out as and when it suits him.

Friday, 2 September 2016


....dropped on us by landlord yesterday - he wants to evict either us or one of the tenants in the other 3 neighbouring properties he owns, in six months time.  Why?  So he can move one of his workers in.

So, after everything we've done to this house and garden (and at our own expense, as we were under the impression that this would be our home for the foreseeable future), we could be homeless in a few months.

We have absolutely no idea right now what we will do if that our stage in life (OH is mid 60s, I'm mid 50s) we don't want to be moving every 5 minutes.

That's the trouble with being a private tenant, you're at the landlord's mercy.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Comments and dealing with produce

Thank you for all the comments on my food budget post.  Pam yes we've given quite a lot away this year, we'll not grow so much of those things next year.  As Dawn says, I am hoping the next few weeks will throw up some highlights of things that we can address.  I do get the occasional order from Approved Foods, we also have a look in Aldi sometimes....there's also a Lidl but we rarely went in there....having had a quick look round the other day I was quite impressed so we will do some shopping there occasionally.  Marlene made a good point about not bothering to grow stuff which is cheap to buy....I did wonder whether it's worth growing as many onions as we do, for example.  But I think we will continue, as I use loads of onions in cooking.  Rachel, £76 on stuff you didn't're worse than me!!!  hehe.  It's so easy to do, though, when you haven't got your eye on the ball.

I'm in the throes of dealing with all our produce that's coming thick and fast at the mo.  Yesterday I prepped and froze loads of French beans, I did them in 2-portion packs.  Read a tip somewhere (can't remember where) - when you have a lot of stuff to freeze in portions, rather than using lots of individual plastic bags, wrap the portions in cling film and then put all the wrapped portions in one bag or box - brilliant idea.  10 lots of beans done that way.  I also did 2 large jars of cucumber fridge pickles, using the method that Dawn suggested from the 2 Men and a Little Farm blog - thanks both.

Today it's carrots and raspberries (not both together hehe).  I've got a (bought) large swede, will boil it up together with a load of chopped carrots (OH brought in half a trugful this morning) and then mash it all together, that'll be frozen in portions in plastic boxes.  I buy sets of 8 or 10 oblong plastic boxes with lids for £1 from one of the cheap shops, they stand up well to freezing and can be re-used loads of times before they split.

The raspberries I'll just stew and freeze in portions, we have stewed homegrown soft fruit with Greek yogurt, or porridge in the winter.  Will have a large colander full of tomatoes to deal with tomorrow, so it will be pasta sauce making.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Working out a food budget

Dawn of Doing It For Ourselves has blogged today about her monthly food shop - thanks for that, Dawn. 

I know each of us has different circumstances....there's no way our monthly food budget could ever be around £20, I would struggle with £20 per week.  We have a normal size garden so cannot keep any livestock, which means we have to buy meat and dairy stuff.  We did briefly consider keeping chickens (we have the space for up to 6) but after working out pros and cons we discounted it - there were far more cons than pros.

We are growing as much produce as we can, however, this is only our 3rd year of doing it seriously and we are still on a learning curve, working out what works in our soil/climate/area and what doesn't, what we need more (or less) of, what isn't worth growing in future due to poor yield or too much work involved to grow it.  We are aiming for eating seasonally but also growing enough storable or freezable produce to keep us going all year round, we'll get there eventually, I'm sure.

For the next few weeks I am going to monitor our shopping, seeing how I get on with writing (and keeping to) a shopping list each week and working out if we can go for longer than a week without shopping (better planning, in other words).  I'll keep all receipts and in a few weeks hopefully I'll have a better idea of a monthly shopping figure.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

It works!

Doing a food inventory and menu plan, that is.  A couple of months ago we had a big supermarket delivery of tins and packet stuff, so the larder cupboards are still pretty full (extras we keep in large plastic lidded boxes in the outhouse, erm, utility room).  3 or 4 weeks ago we got a bulk meat order from our local butcher, hence the nearly full freezers, so we really are well stocked up.  So why I let things slide and fell back into the nasty habit of shopping without a list and just buying things willy-nilly, I don't know, there's no excuse except sheer laziness.

Having done the inventory, I sat down and started on a menu plan.  Well, in no time at all I'd come up with 3 weeks' worth of main meals - three weeks!  And that's just using what we have already, with no extra shopping needed.  I could actually have done another couple of weeks (I will do when we're nearing the end of the 3 weeks) as there are several packs of beef mince, chicken thighs, pork steaks and bacon in the freezer.  Lunches are usually cheese, hard boiled eggs or tinned fish with salad, breakfast I rarely eat except maybe some yogurt and berries (our own, out of the freezer) occasionally, OH usually has toast.  We have enough tea and coffee, bought on special offer when I did the big supermarket delivery shop, to last for several months yet.

So for the next 3 or 4 weeks, all I will need to buy will be some dairy stuff, salad leaves (we have plenty of our own tomatoes, cucumber and radishes), and some bananas and pears for OH.  Oh, and bread for husband....I don't make my own anymore since my bread machine packed up, my hands and wrists just aren't strong enough for kneading nowadays.  I did consider buying a new (or second hand) one, but have decided not to as I have a bit of an addiction to homemade bread and eat too much of it!  Supermarket bought bread just doesn't tempt me anymore, thankfully. 

I know some people set a shopping budget....I've never actually done that, I generally have a rough idea of how much I'd like to spend on the weekly shop, although often go over that, and do have a set budget for the bulk meat orders we get.  But now I'm seriously thinking of working out a set shopping budget, probably a monthly figure, taking into account the amount of veg/soft fruit we grow and thus don't need to buy.  However, I do like to take advantage of special offers on dry goods/toiletries etc. that we normally use, and stock up when they're on a really good deal, so maybe I need to set aside an amount for that too.

So that's a plan to work on.  I do want to rein in our spending, as OH will be retiring altogether (he currently works 3 days a week) within the next couple of years, and we need to be ready well in advance for living on a much reduced income.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Menu planning and cutting back on food shop

I really must make the effort today to start menu planning again, got out of the habit of doing it and that's been reflected in our shopping bill.  Our weekly shop cost has been rising recently, and we've bought a few things we didn't need to, as we've found when putting the shopping away and discovering things we'd already got.  Haven't written a shopping list lately either - fatal mistake. 

The freezers are pretty full, we're well stocked up with dry goods and have lots of garden produce, so there's no excuse for blindly shopping without a list or menu plan, ending up buying stuff indiscriminately.

So that's the job for today when OH has gone to work this afternoon - freezer inventory, menu plan (I reckon I could do at least a fortnight's meal plan with what we already have) and reinstate my shopping list of things we actually need.

Friday, 19 August 2016

A quick wave and a 'No Thank you!'

I know I've not posted much lately....seem to have got out of the habit a bit, plus we've been out and about quite a lot recently.  No new to us furniture acquired, nothing crocheted to show.....well, I have a few WIPs but haven't finished anything, it's been too hot and sticky to crochet.  Still on the lookout for a second hand wardrobe for the twin spare room - the trouble is, I'm quite fussy, I have in mind what type of wardrobe I want and haven't yet found one that totally fits the bill.  I'm sure one will turn up eventually.

Recently, I've had a few emails from people with a business or website that they'd like me to promote on my blog.....although they don't come out and say that directly, they write a few flattering words about my blog first.  Well, I'd just like to say to anyone who might have that idea in mind.....Thank you for showing an interest, but no thank you.  This blog is purely my diary, I don't write it for anybody's benefit but my own, I am not going to get into promotions or reviews for anyone else - well, unless it happens to be a review of a product or service that I myself have purchased and not something that I've been asked to review.  Others may well do that, and that's fine, that's their choice, but I'm not going to.  I guess I should put a note on my sidebar saying that.

Thank you for the comments on my last post Food Talk, and welcome to my new follower Simple Living, I'm glad I found your blog.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Food talk

Thank you once again for the comments....interesting to see who grows how many courgette plants.  OH has now pulled up and thrown away half of the plants, it had got almost to the stage of divorce if he kept bringing any more in!  We are now only going to grow two next year, 1 green, 1 yellow....we'll buy them as plants, that way he can't surreptitiously sow/grow any extras!  In answer to Frugal in Essex, we grow them outside, where did you grow yours?  We do like courgette bhajis, thanks for the reminder Dawn...and Scarlet, I guess fritters are much the same thing depending on spices.  I'm going to do a batch of those for the freezer.  We're also not going to bother with the Summer Squash next year.....guess what, they're just like big round yellow courgettes!  And we've got more than a dozen growing on just one plant.....

We've been eating a very low carb diet since Jan/Feb, following the principles of the Blood Sugar Diet by Dr Michael Mosley (I'm diabetic, both of us are overweight).  We both lost around a stone very quickly, then the loss slowed down, and we gradually started eating more carbs (we didn't follow the diet slavishly anyway, OH would never survive on 800 cals daily, not with a physical job).  Both of us have noticed our weights starting to creep up though, and I'm feeling the effects of too many carbs - bloating, sluggish, achey joints.  So we're back to less carbs and eating healthily for the time being.

This morning we had a veggie frittata for breakfast, then tinned salmon and salad for lunch.  For dinner I've made pork, apple and sage burgers, we'll have these with salad leaves and I'll make a chickpea salad.....tinned chickpeas, homegrown chopped tomatoes, cucumber and red onion, with cubed feta and a balsamic/olive oil dressing.

Tomorrow we're having steak and steak half price off the reduced shelf in the supermarket. 

Monday, 1 August 2016

Garden produce

Thanks for the comments on our holiday and garden pics.  Just one pic today:-

Harvested from the garden this morning, had to get out there quick before the rain started.  It's forecast to go on all day, through the night and into tomorrow - the garden is crying out for rain, it's so dry out there, veg and flowers are suffering and the grass is going brown.  We haven't had any significant rain - well, not enough to fill the water butts or do the veggies any good - for weeks.

We are, yet again for another year - inundated with courgettes, we're picking several every day, eating them in some form or other nearly every day, and giving loads away.  I think we have 8 or 9 plants.....when I told OH I wanted just 4, 2 green and 2 yellow.  Sigh.  He does this every year.....I tell him how many I want, he sows 3x as many seeds 'just in case they don't all germinate'.  Well, they nearly always all do, and then he can't bear to throw away any healthy plants and wants to plant them all 'in case any die'.  Well guess what, they never die!  Grrr!  Next year I am insisting on just 3 plants, 1 green and 2 yellow, that's sufficient for our needs.  And if he surreptitiously plants any more and I find them, I will bloody well pull them up!

However, we will grow more peas and French beans next year, I just love them, and they freeze well, unlike courgettes (unless they're cooked in something).

As well as frying, grilling and roasting the courgettes, we have them a lot in frittatas.  I also grate them and use raw in coleslaw or salads, or add to mince dishes.  I did try making the courgette cake a couple of years ago, but it didn't really go down well....even husband (who loves cake) wasn't that keen, nor were the couple of unsuspecting guests I tried it on.  And I have to say the green flecks in it put me off!

If we didn't live so far off the beaten track, I could sell them at the gate, but we don't have any passing traffic!  I think our few neighbours run away now if they see us coming with an armful, tee hee.