Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Back to normal

Good grief, that was a moany post wasn't it?!  Sorry about that.  I've put my big girl's pants on and given myself a good shake.  I can't change what others do, I can only change myself and how I feel.  Thank you so much for all your lovely comments.....I should say here that my last post was not in any way aimed at any of my readers, it always warms my heart that so many of you read and comment on my posts.  I never thought people would be interested in my ordinary life. 

Anyway, I won't let the buggers get me down (as a couple of you said!), I shall just shake it off and carry on enjoying what we do.  We had a funny moment this morning when we were walking Betty on the nature reserve....I'd forgotten to take my phone with me so couldn't take a photo - pity, it was so funny we were both laughing our heads off.  Betty came across a dandelion with a full big fluffy seed head - it was her first time of seeing one.  She stood transfixed, one front paw raised like a pointer, staring intently at it for a few seconds.  Then, all of a sudden, she lunged forward and bit the entire head off - well, a split second later she coughed and loads of the fluffy seeds flew out of her mouth, much to her astonishment - she literally stared in amazement.  OH and I just stood there laughing out loud.  For the next few minutes as we walked along, she kept giving little coughs, blowing out a few more seeds each time....luckily, there were several mini flooded patches on the grass (it had rained heavily yesterday) so she could have a drink to get rid of the rest.  So funny!

It's exactly 9 weeks today till OH retires, it's going quite slowly at the mo but I expect it will speed up the nearer it gets.  He's been told that his firm have a retirement gift list that he can choose from - the manager couldn't remember all the things on it, he did say there's a silver watch, a decanter or a pen but was sure there are others.....hope so, as OH doesn't really want any of those!  I wonder if there's a cash or gift voucher alternative?  That would be good, OH could buy something he really wants then. 

We've decided one of the first things we're going to do when he's finished work is to have a major declutter of the house and garage.  I take after my mother, I'm a bit of a hoarder - not by design, somehow we just seem to acquire a lot of 'stuff', which then sits around gathering dust.  OH however is definitely of the 'I'll hang on to that, never know when it might come in useful' persuasion, he's got a garage and shedful of oddments of wood, bits of metal, old broken tools, old holey hosepipes, a few non-working electrical items, etc.  We have quite a large trailer so can take plenty of stuff to the tip, and loads of charity shops in the town to take anything not broken, or clothes or books.  It would be lovely to be more minimalist!

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Sorry for the lack of posts, I'm feeling hard done by and sorry for myself.  Can't even be bothered to think up a title for this post - well, not one that doesn't scream of self indulgence.

I just think I spend my life doing things for and helping to support others, but nobody does anything nice just for me.  I feel unappreciated and of no value.  I feel like I'm invisible half the time, nobody seems to take any notice of anything I say. 

Saturday, 18 March 2017


After much thought, we have decided to take Betty to training classes.  In many ways she is the perfect dog/puppy - she sleeps all through the night and has done since a few days after we got her, she's completely house trained, ever since Week 2, she's not fussy about food and is happy to eat whatever we give her, be it commercial or homemade.  She's really good in the car, goes happily in her crate and we don't get a peep out of her on the journey, she doesn't mind being left alone in the car for short periods either (in fact she's usually still dozing when we get back).  She sits on command, because she's been treat trained.  Her nipping has drastically reduced and it's now just gentle mouthing, she's learnt that using her teeth is a No no.  She's teething so is going through a chewing phase, but will stop chewing anything inappropriate when we tell her.  She's not at all aggressive - rather the opposite, she's exceptionally friendly, with everyone and every dog.  Totally fearless, she's not intimidated by bigger dogs....even snarly aggressive ones (there's one living next door!) she's more puzzled than intimidated by. 

And therein lies part of the problem - she thinks every person and dog is her new best friend and just wants to play with them.  She tries to jump up at people, because she gets so much fuss made of her by most people we meet, and all other dogs she really wants to play with.  She just doesn't understand that not all people want a dog jumping at them, however friendly it is, and not all dogs want to play.

On walks now, we keep her on a short tight leash when we see other people and dogs, but she still strains at the lead and yelps and yelps until they've gone past.  She then whines and looks totally forlorn for a minute or two, as if we've spoilt her whole day!

And she constantly pulls at the lead - well, I say constantly, very occasionally she will walk nicely beside us, but that only lasts a couple of minutes, then she's back to yanking our arms off and practically choking herself.  We've watched loads of training videos by several different trainers and have tried all their suggestions, to no avail.  So training classes it is, as I'm fed up with having an aching shoulder and neck!  The first class will be the week after next, I hope it does the trick.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Breakfasts, lunches and dog food

Thank you Simple Living, Sheila and Gemma's Person for the comments on my menu plan.

I forgot to mention what we have for breakfasts and lunches.  I don't often have breakfast, maybe once or twice a week, and it's usually Greek yogurt with a few berries and nuts, or maybe bran flakes with nut milk and some berries.  When it's really cold in the winter we may have porridge (which we like made with water, no sugar, but with a few sultanas mixed in and a big splash of cream on top!).  OH usually has toast for his breakfast.  Occasionally on Sundays or when we're on holiday, we have a full cooked breakfast. 

Lunches are usually soup with homemade croutons when it's cold, maybe salad with ham or cheese or canned fish if it's not cold.  OH may occasionally have a sandwich instead with a cup a soup, I'll have sliced cheese with rye crispbreads and a few olives and cucumber slices.

Gemma's Person asked about desserts.....we rarely have them - well, OH has a yogurt after dinner.  I'm diabetic so hardly ever eat sweet things.....I've found it much easier to get into the habit of just not having them at all, rather than trying to eat a tiny portion of something that I'd really like to eat a lot of!  I'm not a saint though, on rare occasions we may have a Danish pastry or share a cake when we're out and in a coffee shop!

I made a week's worth of dog food today, it was turkey mince which I cooked in a little water in a saucepan (I nearly added seasoning but stopped myself just in time!).  Cooked a large sweet potato in the microwave, then mashed the flesh when it was cool enough to handle.  Boiled a head of broccoli and roughly mashed that.  Mixed the whole lot together in a large bowl, with a can of garden peas (having first checked that they were just peas in water, nothing else added).  Divided it into 7 portions.  I gave Betty half a portion at lunchtime, to see how she got on with it....she loved it, licked her bowl clean.  I've kept a couple of portions in the fridge and frozen the rest. 

I also made sardine oatcakes, following a recipe I found online from a very good website he's a dog walker who, in conjunction with a canine dietitian, makes his own dog food recipes.  The mixture made over 80, luckily Betty loves them too!

Following a recommendation from a dog owning friend (thanks Aly!), I tried Betty with a scrambled egg....yep, wolfed it down (she's clearly not a fussy eater).

So our plan is to give her scrambled egg for breakfast, my homemade food for lunches (sometimes it will be sardines or liver with veg, instead of turkey) and her complete dry kibble for suppertime.  We will continue to give her this as it contains the vitamins and minerals she needs.  The oatcake biscuits will be  treats, along with dried out liver (strips cooked in a low oven for a couple of hours, then cut into tiny pieces) as training treats.  This is of course after we've monitored her for a couple of days to check that she's ok with the new homemade foods.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Menu planning

Thank you for the comments on my food shop, I do like Lidl and am slowly getting into the habit of shopping less often - you're right, Dawn, this is definitely one way of spending less.

I thought it might be useful to blog my menu plan each will encourage me to keep doing it, which in turn helps with the shopping, and I can always look back at previous menus for inspiration.

So this week:-

Sunday (yesterday) we had sausages, roasted parsnips and sprouts, cauli & broccoli in cheese sauce (double portion made so the rest has been frozen for later)

Monday - Chicken & mushroom risotto....need to buy the chicken, I was under the impression we had a couple of breasts in the freezer but can't find them, must have used them (another good reason to maintain an inventory!)

Tuesday - Chilli with cheesy cornbread....have everything in stock for that, will make double so one lot can be frozen

Wednesday - Pork shoulder in cider in the slow cooker - need to buy the pork.  It will make enough to freeze for another day, probably two.

Thursday - Salmon with noodles and stir fry veg.....just need the veg.

Friday - Cottage pie and veg - all from out of the freezer

Saturday - Cauli & broccoli cheese with bacon and tinned tomatoes.....the remainder of Sunday's cauli cheese, bacon & tomatoes already in stock.

I'm going to start making some - not all - food for Betty too, will do another post about that.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Shopping cracked

I've got the shopping down to a fine art now.  We generally do it in Li*l now, I've found I prefer it to Al*i.  I can't get absolutely everything I want in there, like my Lactofree milk e.g., so nip into S*burys for the odd bits....handily, it's next door to Li*l.  About every 3 or 4 weeks we do a full shop in S*burys or Morr*ons, as obviously being bigger stores, they have a much wider range of stuff.  I now always do a menu plan and shopping list too.  Doing all this has saved us I reckon about £15 or £20 a week, which I'm really happy with.  We're also working towards going shopping less often, we've stretched it to about every 9 or 10 days now.

This morning my shopping came to about £56, but it should last us for about a fortnight.  I bought steak mince, bacon, liver and a trayful of butcher's sausages which had been reduced as short dated.....all the meat came to £9.80.  I've portioned it up for freezing, it will make a total of 13 meals for 2 bulked out with veg, pulses or grains, so working out to around 75p per double portion - bargain. 

I don't buy dog food from supermarkets.  We get it online, a 12kg sackful of dry complete food, which will last for ages, and it's delivered for free.  It's from a reputable company and is very good quality with high meat and fish content, plus vegetables, salmon oil and vitamins/minerals, with no artificial colours, flavours or E numbers.  It's not cheap, but we've done a lot of research and don't want our dog having the doggy equivalent of rubbishy fast food.  And as it's such good quality, we can feed her less of it.  So saving money on our food shop means we can afford to buy good food for Betty, we want her to have a good long healthy life.

Thank you for all the comments, I'm glad the lazy lasagne seems to be popular.  I'm all for meals that are easier or simplified versions of the originals.  If any of you have ideas for your own quicker, simpler or thriftier versions of meals, I'd love to read about them.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

A cooking and freezing day

Thank you for all the good wishes for OH's impending's now 13 weeks exactly. 

I've had a day in the kitchen, doing a lot of cooking and veg prep for freezing.

Started off by making what I call a lazy's basically mince cooked with onions, mushrooms and chopped tomatoes, pasta shapes part cooked and mixed with cheese sauce, the whole lot all mixed together, piled into a dish and sprinkled with grated cheese.  Saves all that faffing about with building up layers, but tastes much the same as a proper lasagne.  It made 3 lots of meals for 2.  One we'll have tomorrow, the other 2 have been frozen.

Diced swede and carrots boiled together, then mashed with parsley & thyme and seasoned, divided into portions and frozen.

Did a big trayful of roast spuds, enough for several meals, all portioned up and in the freezer.

2 massive sweet potatoes scrubbed and stabbed, cooked in the microwave until tender, then when cool enough to handle, halved and the flesh scraped out.  Mashed with smoked paprika and seasoning, portioned and frozen.

3 rashers of bacon chopped and fried in butter and oil with a finely sliced onion in a big pan, then a whole Savoy cabbage shredded and added, stir fried until cooked.  One portion to go with dinner tonight, the rest frozen.

Oh, and husband made a wholemeal loaf (under my direction).  It's risen beautifully and looks lovely. 

I should have taken photos of everything, but didn't give it a thought, sorry!

Now I just have to prepare tonight's dinner - diced chicken breast sautéed in oil & butter, with sliced mushrooms and onion, the zest and juice of a lemon added to the pan along with some sage.  To be served with new potatoes and some of the Savoy cabbage.