Thursday, 14 December 2017

Roll on Spring!!

Thanks for the Betty comments, I wonder when she'll get to experience some proper snow?!

We've had so much torrential rain, heavy hail and strong freezing cold winds this past week, it feels neverending.  In between the rain and hail, we've had very brief (like, 10 minutes) periods of sun, but it catches you go out quickly to do a job outside or take Betty out, and within a few minutes the sky has come over black again and you're getting soaked.  And it's so blooming dark - bad enough that the days are so short now anyhow, but every time the clouds and rain come, it goes so dark that we have to put lights on.  I'm fed up with it, it makes me so grumpy.

The forecast for tomorrow is actually a lot better...let's hope they're right!  And roll on the 21st (next Thursday), when it's the winter Solstice and the days start gradually getting longer.

I really, really hate winter!

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

BettyBoo and the snow

Thanks for the comments on the last post.  Will have to go in a shop today and get a top up of fresh stuff, I will be as disciplined as possible!  Also have to go to the opticians to get my new glasses changed from varifocals to ordinary single vision lenses.  This is the second (3rd, possibly) time I've tried varifocals and I just cannot get used to them - same problem each time, I find it difficult to cope with the ground being so blurry, it makes me feel very uneasy.  Oh well, back to swapping between my distance and reading least I'll have quite a substantial refund of cash back, as varifocals cost so much more than ordinary lenses.

We had hardly any snow to speak of.....Sunday it rained heavily most of the day, but then it started snowing late afternoon.  At first it wasn't settling because the ground was so wet, then we had great big fat flakes coming down for about an hour and gradually it began settling just on the grass.  We let Betty out in the garden to see it.....she was totally fascinated.  She just stood still gazing around for a few seconds, then suddenly started running around the lawn with her face pushed into it, literally hoovering up the snow, it was just so funny to watch.  OH went out and made a couple of (very small, since there wasn't much snow!) snowballs and threw them towards her, she crunched them up as if they were treats.  

You can see from the pics just how little snow we hour later it had all gone.

Got up early this morning, having woken about 5 am and not being able to get back to sleep....the sky was midnight blue with not a cloud in sight, but loads of stars and a bright sliver of moon - beautiful.  Betty got out of her bed to greet me when I came downstairs, then went straight back to bed, obviously thinking 'well you may be a mad woman who gets up early, but I need my beauty sleep'.  She does like her sleep, she's a right teenager in the mornings and doesn't like getting up early.  She also sleeps a lot during the day:-

She looks so angelic when she's asleep!

Friday, 8 December 2017

Getting the hang of this!

Thanks for the comments on my last post regarding using up stuff.  Using out of date milk for 'cream of' soups is a good idea, I hadn't thought of that, thanks Gemma's Person.  It's definitely soup weather now....although it's sunny and it's doubtful we'll get much (if any) of the snow other areas have had, it's blooming freezing cold.  I've got lots of frozen veggies, plus leeks, carrots and potatoes in the garden, plenty of dried pulses, frozen bacon bits leftover from the last boiled gammon we had, so lots of scope for soups.

I think I'm getting the hang of making meals from what we have.  Following the chicken and bean hotpot we had the other day (which was a big success, OH loved it), I had plans to make a sausage Bolognese to have with spaghetti the next day, I knew there was half a pack of sausages in the freezer.  But on going through the big freezer I found a tub of sausage pasta bake I'd made ages ago, so thought I might as well use that up first.  There was also one sachet left of frozen tomato & basil sauce, so that was mixed into the pasta bake when both were defrosted.  I topped it with grated cheese and breadcrumbs made from a crust of stale bread, heated it through in the top oven and we had it with buttered Savoy cabbage.  I'll make the sausage Bolognese another day, using the sausages deskinned and rolled into small balls, and a sauce made from homegrown cherry tomatoes - I have several bags of them in the freezer.

I'm keeping a large tub in the freezer which I add leftover cooked veggies to (like leftover cabbage from yesterday) - I usually do bubble and squeak with sausages or baked beans and a fried egg, but might do something different with the next lot.  Perhaps mix with homemade tomato sauce and top with mashed potato for a veggie cottage pie, or add gravy and leftover roast chicken and stuffing and make into a pastry pie.

Today we're having a fishy thing (well, it is Friday - we traditionally had fish and chips every Friday when we were kids at home).  Half a bag of frozen prawns, I'll mix them with a tin of salmon and sachet of Hollandaise sauce and serve on a bed of brown rice, with frozen veg on the side.

Had another idea to use up a large bag of blanched whole almonds I'd bought reduced to a ridiculously cheap price as they were on their sell by date a couple of months ago....they've been sat in the cupboard ever since.  I saw on FB that someone had made spiced roasted nuts for Christmas and thought great, I'll do that with the almonds.  

So I've started making small dents in the larder and freezer stores.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Meals from stores and using up out of date things

Thanks for all the comments on my last post, good to see I'm not the only one who can't leave a bargain!  But when you're trying to cut down on spending, and your cupboards/freezers are full, there's really no excuse to buy more stuff....  So the rest of this month is going to be as low spend as possible, even if it does mean sending OH to get anything necessary.

I thought it might be useful to post about meals I make from what we have in store, especially if it uses up things that are on their way out or are already out of date....after a sniff and taste test of course, to check they're ok to eat.  Might give me inspiration if in the future I can't think what to cook with what we have.

I had half a tin of baked beans in the fridge, 1 chicken breast left in a frozen pack, plenty of tinned tomatoes and pulses in the cupboard, still lots of leeks in the garden.  A small cupboard full of herbs and spices.  So I've done a sort of hotpot, using bbq spices and herbs.  Sliced a leek and diced the chicken breast and lightly fried them both, then added 2 heaped tsps. bbq seasoning and stirred it all in until the spices were smelling nice.  Added the half tin of beans, a tin of chopped tomatoes and one of white kidney beans (been in the larder forever, can't remember why I bought them originally!).  Put in a tsp dried sage and 2 tsps. parsley, a squirt of tomato puree and a splash of Worcestershire sauce.  Gave it all a thorough mix and will put it in the oven later this afternoon.  We'll have it with some of the chilli cheese cornbread I made the other day....made a trayful, cut it into squares and froze it.  Will warm it through in the oven.

I also discovered, whilst looking through the larder cupboard in the utility room this morning, that 2 cartons of the longlife milk (I have about 8 in stock) are a few days out of date.  Having opened them both, sniffed and tasted, they were fine, so to avoid them going off I've made a rice pudding in the slow cooker, demerara sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg added.  It's smelling lovely.

So that's today sorted, and I know what I'll do for tomorrow.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Changing the mind set

I've come to the conclusion that the best way to save money on shopping is....not to go in any shops!  (duh, hardly a revelation is it, more like common sense).  

Case in point - yesterday I had a list of 6 items I needed as we'd run out of them....came out of the supermarket with double that number (and having spent more than twice what I'd anticipated).  To be fair, I did buy some chicken, steak mince and sausages that were all reduced and have gone in the freezer, a pack of dog dental chews and OH picked up a couple of things he wanted (bottle of squash - I don't drink it - and some disposable razors). 

But that's the way it always goes....for the past month or so I've looked in the freezers/cupboards, done a menu plan for the week and written a shopping list, but I always end up buying stuff not on the list.  I don't buy anything frivolous or strictly unnecessary, it's always things we'll definitely time.  But I can't resist a bargain - if I see something on a good special offer, or fresh meat/fish that's been reduced because of the date, then I usually buy it.  It's now got to the point where the fridge, freezers and larder cupboards are very nearly full, so I definitely don't NEED to do any more shopping for at least 2 or 3 weeks.  Well, except maybe for fresh milk (we have several packs of long life milk in the larder, which I'm quite happy to use but OH doesn't like it) and fresh veg/fruit.  

I reckon the safest thing to do is write a list of essential items only and send OH to get them.....he's far less likely to buy anything not on the list.

Perhaps if I stay out of the shops for a few weeks and just send him when absolutely necessary, I might be able to break myself of the habit of buying extras just because they're on offer or reduced.  

I need to have a few weeks of using up what we've got before I go shopping again.  The trouble is, I do like to open a cupboard or freezer and see a good stock of food....I guess it's because when we were kids at home, Mum didn't have much money and couldn't keep a full cupboard, she just couldn't afford to (single parent of 4 kids on benefits after dad buggered off).  But I have to remind myself that, nice as it is to see a full food cupboard/freezer, it's there to be eaten, not looked at!

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Busyness....and a strange feeling!

Been busier than usual the last couple of weeks (as we all are, I guess).  My mum has been very unwell, so we made a quick unscheduled visit up to the Midlands to see her.  She's on the mend, thankfully, but I am always surprised at how much frailer she is every time I see her now (which is 2 or 3 times a year, but hopefully will be more often from now on).  She is 81 though, with numerous ailments....none drastic, but all of them together have quite an impact on her.  I'm so thankful that my sister lives next door to her and pops in every day, I'd be so much more worried about her otherwise.

We've also had several health-related appointments - just routine things, but they've all seemed to come within the last couple of weeks.  That includes Betty, she's got her recurring ear infection again so has been back to the vets twice.  All under control now.  I have an optical and a follow-up GP appointment this week, OH has the dentist....that should be it then.

Over the past few days I've had this strange feeling creeping up on me....I am beginning to feel quite.....Christmassy!  This is a very odd feeling for me - as I mentioned before, we just don't 'do' Christmas.  Other than loving all the old and cheesy Christmas songs, and liking decorations and lights (on other people's houses, not ours!), the festive time of year leaves me quite unmoved.  But the other day, I made several jars of excuse being that OH likes mince pies, and I quite like mincemeat icecream, and I occasionally make a cake with mincemeat in it.  I bought a pack of (charity) cards a few days ago - we haven't sent Christmas cards at all for the past several years, preferring to make a donation to a favourite charity instead....all our friends/family know we don't send Christmas cards, so quite why I bought them I can't really say!  I noticed one of my friends on FB has today made a tray of spiced mixed nuts and immediately thought how lovely they looked and I must make some for Christmas too.  And I made an ivy and berry (fake not real) wreath for our front window at the weekend, using things I had in the house already.  What is happening?!?!  Perhaps it's because we've been invited to spend Christmas day with our lovely friends, staying overnight.  We've done that before, a couple of times, and had a wonderful time.

I doubt I'll be going as far as wrapping presents (we don't buy any and that's not about to change!), buying a tree or going on a mad supermarket dash just before the day though!

Sunday, 19 November 2017


Does anyone know how to block somebody on Blogger?  

I've started getting quite a few spam comments (must mean I've arrived! teehee), none of which get published as I have comment moderation on.  However, I've had several recently (nearly every day) from the same person - nonsense stuff, a load of gobbledy gook that's clearly of foreign origin.

No big deal really, it would just be easier if they couldn't get through.