Wednesday 28 February 2024

The Final Food Shop of February ...


So Sue in Suffolk yesterday used the title I had planned for today, to quote John hey ho ... I'll still use it anyway.  😃

Now this shopping looks a lot different to the other shops as it includes things for the dogs, Alan and my Mum.  The reason for this is because I wanted to use some of the Nectar points that I accrued over the whole of last year.  I had just over £40 worth and by stocking up on the dog food that we needed and that Alan usually buys, as well as getting a couple more things to take to Mum's this week, I managed to spend £30 of them.

I did not want to risk anything going amiss with my points as it did for Ali recently, so spending a big chunk of them seemed very wise.

Here is my receipt ...

... and here is my part of the Nectar point shop, and I only had to spend £1.54 of this months money to get all of the food.

I have shopped eight times this month, weirdly I bet this is going to be the most shopping trips in one month over the course of the year, and ironically in the shortest month.

My total spend for February is surprisingly just £57.45.

I'm really happy with that and it means along with last months carried forward amount of £14.79, I now have £42.55 from this month to carry forward.  A total of £57.34 unspent in the first two months of the year.  Now it's obviously not going to be this good later on in the year as I will have to start buying more and more as the stocks in the cupboard and freezer start to dwindle, but it's getting me ahead nicely and I hope to be under budget each month for at least the first half of the year.

Oh, and I have to mention that it was buying the single courgette the other day for 73p that made me check through my seeds to see if I had any seeds for planting this year.  I found some but only for yellow courgettes and I much prefer the green ones.  So now I have a packet and with up to twenty seeds in the packet for just £2 it's a lot cheaper than buying a courgette every week. 😀

Sue xx

Tuesday 27 February 2024

Working, Reading and Cleaning

 This could be me ... if I adopted another cat and bought a goldfish.  😁

To be honest there's not been the usual amount of reading going on this month I keep getting waylaid by things I HAVE to do.  It's very frustrating!

To be honest there's not been much cleaning going on either.  😄

Sue xx

Sunday 25 February 2024

Recent Shopping ... and Old Shopping


This is my shopping for this weekend.  

A total of  £6.05 spent on things that I needed to supplement things that I already have in the fridge and to give me a bit of freshness for the week ahead.  I don't know why I bought the bread rolls really as I already have those lovely rolls from the last lot of shopping in the freezer, but I had forgotten all about them while I was out, so these bread rolls landed in the trolley.

For once I took a photo of the receipt.  A total of £6.05 spent.

I have been shopping in dribs and drabs a total of seven times this month, which is a bit ridiculous really.  I seem to have got into the habit of going out with Alan when he's doing a full shop and just picking up one or two items.  It's not really the best way to shop is it, once a week would be so much better and so much easier to document on here ... as I found out a few minutes ago when I was looking through the photos of the shopping on the computer to see how much I have spent up to now this month ... and found that I have one more photo than I have blog posts about shopping!!

So here for your delight and delectation is the missing shopping:

It's obviously an Aldi shop and came in at £8.43.  Obviously all the food is long gone now, but I'm sharing the photo that I had taken of it for posterity.  😄

From the list of photos on my computer it was obviously done not long after the first shopping trip of February, and I remember being tempted by the Cornetto's as they were one of the last of each flavour after the Aldi freezer was full of them for Veganuary.

Now I am totally up to date with my shopping photos and figures.

And here is a really good Madeleine Olivia cooking video if you would like to watch it.  I do like it when she cooks lovely food and doesn't just chatter away to the camera.

There have been far too many shopping posts this month and nowhere near enough book ones, I need to remedy that at once.

Sue xx

Friday 23 February 2024

'Let Me In' ... and Shopping


'Please let me in Mum ... this Pug's not opening the door.'

I went to Booths on Wednesday to pick up this weeks freebie, (photo below) and of course just as they want you to I ended up doing a bit of shopping.  I needed some washing machine cleaner as it hasn't been done for ages, the bread rolls as usual enticed me to buy them, and this was to be this years parsley plant.  

I always buy one around this time of year to have in the kitchen, and once I have eaten some of it on the meals I make this week and next, what's left will be planted into the tin bath at the front door.  The parsley plant in there is a bit tough now after living through the weather we've had this winter, so it will be cut off at soil level when this one goes in.  I also need to take some cuttings from the big Rosemary plant in the back garden as the one in the tin bath has disappeared ... I knew it wasn't happy but I didn't expect it to leave home!! 😄

This week's Booths freebie was posh tomato sauce, usually retailing at £2.35 so well worth nipping out for.

The ingredients list is pretty good too.  

Of course I could make my own tomato sauce, but we all know I will never get around to it.  As I already have a tomato sauce on the go and another in the cupboard, this one won't be eaten for a while.  But better to have it in my cupboard at no cost to me than not, and it's got a lovely long date on it.

Sue xx

Wednesday 21 February 2024

Shopping Free - Seeds Free


While we were in Wales at the weekend I took the opportunity to call to M&S in Llandudno to use my £12 worth of vouchers in the food hall.  I bought these three items for me and the rest of the voucher went towards a couple of things that Alan needed.

Shopping - free.

Then yesterday this landed on the doormat. 

 My March edition of Kitchen Garden magazine with it's free seeds.  I think I have one more magazine left in this subscription and then as it was a gift, I will be letting it lapse.  I really do not need any more seeds, my little tin is full ... and they seem determined to send me Coriander seeds every other month, I hate the stuff!!

Anyway, it spurred me to go through my seeds tin and sort out all the seeds I have and remove all the ones that I won't be using.  These will be donated.

I am purposefully trying not to read any of my gardening books or magazines at the moment, otherwise I will be tempted to start sowing seeds much too early.  Although I've just realised my latest book being read this month is about gardening ... oops!!


Sue xx

Monday 19 February 2024

Eating from the Garden


Since moving from our smallholding I've been growing a lot less food for myself, but nevertheless I have still been growing something.  I think it's in my blood now and probably always will be, because homegrown, tasty and completely organic food just can't be beat in terms of health benefits and cost.  And of course I get some fresh air while I am doing the minimal work this little garden takes.

As you can see in this first photo of the long raised bed it is full, and had protection to keep the birds from pulling the onions and garlic shoots out when they first appeared.   Now that the crops are big enough and while the sun was shining yesterday I took off all the trellis' and the wire shelves that I had used to foil the birds that we entice to the garden each Winter with our bird table.  They were weighed down with blocks leftover from when we built the beds, and while that worked really well it did look a tad messy in the sunshine and was starting to annoy me.  I am leaving the straw in place for now to protect the onions and garlic from any late frosts.  But even with just the top coverings taken off the garden looks so much neater.   (See the last photo of this post.)

I decided whilst I was out to hose down the paths a bit and then pull up the last of the carrots.  These have done us proud over the Winter, with Alan picking the odd carrot or two whenever he was short of veggies and me doing the same but less regularly.

Now that the carrots were gone I pulled out the few weeds that were in that half of the bed, then lightly loosened and smoothed over the soil.  I am sort of using the no-dig method of gardening so I try not to disturb the soil too much.  I then used the wire shelves that I had just taken off the other beds to protect this bare soil from local cats.

The other half of this bed has over-Wintering onions, and this photo shows them with their trellis covering taken off.

Half an hour later and the carrots were scrubbed and ready for use.  We used all the largest ones for tea last night and simply roasted them in the oven with cumin and olive oil, as Alan was cooking a nut roast in there so it made sense to do the veggies there too.  They were delicious.  The rest are destined to become a carrot and coriander soup for this weeks lunches.

The garden on a slightly sunny February day.

Now I am planning what will be the first things to go in the half empty smaller raised bed.  I'm thinking I have to get some Spinach in as soon as possible and perhaps some early Radish, they always grow so much tastier in the cooler weather of Spring.

Sue xx

Sunday 18 February 2024

Being Prepared


On my kitchen shelves I always like to have my largest jars on display, the ones that hold the most basics of basics.  I have always done this it helps me feel prepared for anything ... 

... remember my shelves in Wales. 💖

As well as me finding that food is very decorative when stored this way, it is also completely on show when not behind cupboard doors, and as such inspires me to use it more.  With less shelf space now a lot of my jars are actually in the cupboard but my most used are still out on a shelf.  I have three types of pasta - spaghetti, fusilli and tagliatelle, porridge oats, brown rice and now that I have bought it, my Gram flour.

So with the addition of just water, oil and salt and pepper, if push came to shove I could actually live happily for a day on the contents of just my shelf alone with no problem.  Yes, I LOVE a bowl of hot salt and pepper rice. 🥣

The other day tagliatelle was on the menu was because the jar had been calling to me for a while.  It was a simple evening meal, just cooked tagliatelle dropped into a pan of sautéed veggies and a large dollop of hummus, watered down to a good consistency with some of the pasta water.

Simple, filling and healthy ... and very, very tasty.

Sue xx

Friday 16 February 2024

Two Shopping Trips in Three Days


The cupboards and freezer are still pretty full so there has still been no need for a 'big shop'.  I am mainly buying things as and when I need them and this week I fancied some bread rolls for my lunches.  With Shrove Tuesday on the news everywhere I suddenly felt the urge for pancakes and went into the cupboard to get my Gram flour out (this makes my favourite sort of pancakes) ... I didn't have any!!

Aldi don't sell it, our Sainsbury's, which is a pretty small branch, didn't have any on the shelves so it was a trip to Booths, where at last I found it, along with some of my favourite bread rolls. Total spend in Booths - £3.85.

Of course by the time I had gotten it home I had completely gone off the idea of pancakes anyway.  😄

Two days later it was time to make our lunch to take to Mum's and Alan had requested some salad to go with our sandwiches, specifically some radishes, so I went and got some and with the garlic being 'price-matched' to Aldi and on only 95p I decided to get myself some as I've finally finished all the cloves of garlic from the freezer.  Total spend in Sainsbury's £1.54.

Total spend altogether this week - £5.39.

Isn't it satisfying when the new pack of something fits completely into a jar.  I filled the oats jar up the other day after using up the last of the old oats and with a shake or two of the jar to settle things down, the full bag fitted in nicely.  😁

Sadly it didn't work out that well for the Gram flour!!

Sue xx

Wednesday 14 February 2024

A Very Early Birthday Splurge


 Creating Comfort  - Artist Lucy Almey Bird   

I discovered a 'new to me' artist a couple of weeks ago and I absolutely love her work.  So I just thought I'd share a link on here so that if any of you like this sort of gentle look at lives lived with books and simple countryside things, you can nip over to her website and click onto the 'Shop' header to look at her prints.

Lucy Almey Bird

A Good Book - Artist Lucy Almey Bird

Be warned though, I was tempted ... I might have ordered a couple of prints.  😁

A birthday splurge from me to me, it's only a couple of months early!!

Sue xx

Monday 12 February 2024

A Reading Sort of Day


It's a reading sort of day for me today.

I was up early and the washing has already been done, now it's on the airer in the bedroom garnering all the heat from the lovely Winter sunshine outside the French doors.  The dogs are snoozing in the two dog beds that are catching the most sunshine and as usual Ginger is on my his pouffe ... it was bought for me to put my feet up on but I rarely get to use it, and if I dare to put anything on it when he is not around, the look I get when he comes back in is enough to put me in my place for a good few days!!

Before I get stuck into my book I took ten minutes to write our this weeks menu plan.  It's a good job I have just put this photo up as I had forgotten ...

... to get this out of the freezer.

Oh well it defrosting now and should be great for teatime.  Now it's time to put the kettle on and pick up my book again ... even if I can't put my feet up.  😸

Sue xx

Sunday 11 February 2024

Seven Days of Unpacked Lunches


Remember the days when your Mum sent you to school armed with a delicious packed lunch ... no me neither!! 

Back in my school days it was either home for your lunch or staying for school dinners.  For the first couple of years at school I got to walk round the corner from school to home every day and have my lunch with Mum.  Usually it was a sandwich or something on toast ... just making myself egg and cheese on toast now takes me right back to those happy days.  

Once my brother was old enough to start school Mum got a job as a dinner lady so that she could have school holidays off to look after us, and it was school dinners for both of us.  We couldn't get away with leaving anything on our plates or Mum would be told by one of her colleagues.  Drat!!

Then years later along came my sons, and yes they did have forays into packed lunches.  Gosh it was hard with my youngest, he wanted packed lunches  but he didn't like bread or butter so it was always an amalgamation of anything else that I could think of.  Lunch boxes weren't insulated in his day so unfortunately I could never send him with leftovers.

Anyway whizz forward far too many years to mention, and here is a photographic representation of my 'unpacked lunches' from last week.

Monday - Pizza made on one of the garlic breads from the freezer ... yum!

Tuesday - I switched lunch and tea around and had some spaghetti with pesto and veggies.  (My tea was a fish finger bun with salad.)

Wednesday - A bowl of Vegetable Stew, another switch around with teatime.

Thursday - I had thawed out a roll of puff pastry so I decided to use it all up on Mediterranean Veg pasties, using the odd bit left over to make a jam one for supper time.

They were huge, and reinforced my opinion that puff pastry seems to be all puff and no substance.  I won't be buying this again, it will be far better to make my own shortcrust pastry from now on.

Friday - Homemade soup from the freezer with the remaining garlic bread for dunking purposes.

Saturday - My other planned fishfinger bun with leftovers of salad from the fridge.

Today ... Sunday - Another block of homemade soup thawing out ready for lunch.  Sadly there is no more garlic bread but I might add a slice of toast.

And now it's time to write out my menu plan for the coming week, once again I will be doing a five-day menu plan as this worked out really well for me last week.

Who knew that one of the hardest parts of being an adult would be to think of what to eat at every mealtime.  😁

Sue xx

Saturday 10 February 2024

Cleaning the Shelves, Re-organising the Books


Last week I decided it was time to slightly change up the kitchen shelves.

They have been almost exactly the same way since I moved in here almost three years ago so it was time for a bit of a refresh.  Of course there's not much I can really do with all the books as there is nowhere else for them to go, so it was a question of taking them down, cleaning the shelves and then putting everything back in a slightly different fashion.

The foods have to stay in the section on the left for ease of use, as it is directly over the worktop and where I make my porridge etc.  But some of the books could be moved down onto the lower shelf replacing the large mixing bowl that I don't use very often.  I tried to make it the books that I refer to the most that moved down, a few of the books had to go onto the little drawer unit next to the food cupboard to make enough space on the very top shelf for my mixing bowl and the enamel 'flour' bin.

It's nice to have a change, and I always find when I move books around that I want to have a browse through them all over again.

And what better thing to do after a couple of hours of climbing up and down on the little step ladder than sit down and peruse a couple of cook books.  😀

This is the view from the other angle, my kitchen is too narrow for me to be able to take a straight on photo of the shelves.

 Shelves cleaned, books replaced and books browsed through with a cup of coffee or two ... not a bad way to spend a freezing cold day.

Sue xx

Thursday 8 February 2024

My First Shopping of February


My first shopping of February.  

A grand total of £25.04.

The prices shown are the prices that come from me having my Nectar card and me buying things that were on special offer.

I decided not to buy too much fresh stuff this week as I really want to use some of the frozen vegetables in the freezer and the last of the odds and sods of salad in the fridge drawer.  I treated myself to some healthier crisps and I needed a bag of the Harvest Snaps that I take to Mum's for us to go with our sandwiches.  I always make us a picnic lunch when we visit as Mum really appreciates not having to think about what to make for at least one meal a week.

These biscuits are a bit of a treat for me. 

 I got myself this tin just before Christmas filled with individually wrapped Oat Flips and they were delicious.  I do have to admit that it was the tin that drew me to them, I just love the colours of it.  But then the biscuits were so tasty and with such relatively good ingredients that I have been looking for them ever since the tins vanished from the shelves in Booths.  Then the other day I spotted the lady putting them out on the shelves and they were on special offer!

Not too bad compared to ingredients on other biscuits. 😐

So another eclectic week's shopping for me this week as I continue to eat my way through all the foods that I already have.  This morning's breakfast was three of my Linda McCartney sausages on one of the oven-bottom muffins with tomato ketchup ... a proper Manchester lass' breakfast.  😃

Sue xx