Sunday 31 March 2024

The Last Day of March, Losing an Hour and Time to Fling Open the Windows

Artwork by Lucy Almey Bird

It's the last day of March, the day our clocks have gone forward by an hour here in the UK, and Easter Sunday as well.  So I thought I would share this beautiful picture by Lucy Almey Bird, it's also one of the prints that I treated myself to recently and that Alan is paying for the framing of for my birthday.

It's just joyous isn't it. 

 Flinging open the window and letting the Spring in, in all her glory.

I did a final shop for March to take slight advantage of the bargain 15p vegetables that are available in most of the UK Supermarkets this week.  I didn't need much but I did need potatoes and onions ... so that's exactly what I bought.  As you can see I also bought a few other things.  😁

For the first time I have gone over my £100 a month budget, but only by 38p and as I was already in credit to the tune of £42.55, I am still actually under budget for the first three months of the year.

My total spend for March was £100.38

So I still have £42.17 carried over in the emergency fund from the first two months of the year, when I did manage to stay under my budget.

Wow, three months of the year gone already ... time is going by far too quickly!!

I hope you all have a wonderful Easter, however you celebrate and even if you don't, I hope you have a lovely few days of fine weather and time to do exactly what you want to do.

Alan bought me an Easter egg and a bottle of wine, I chose them and he paid as he said he couldn't be trusted to get it right ... he can't.  😄

Sue xx

Friday 29 March 2024

Yet Another Shopping Trip ... and More to Come?


I went shopping to Booths on Wednesday, I waited until then as I knew there was another freebie to pick up.

 Since I was on my own I decided to buy Alan's 'Easter egg'.  As you can see it's not actually a chocolate egg at all as he is trying to avoid chocolate at the moment, so I got him a bottle of Port.  I also treated myself to some Easter goodies, a couple more little cans of spritzer and six of my favourite chocolate bars as they were on special offer.

On the way in I spotted a trolley full of yellow stickered Hot Cross buns, so I chose us these apple and cinnamon ones, they were delicious and did us both for two breakfasts.

I've just been trying the free carton of juice and I doubt I would give this to any of the children in my family, looking at the ingredients list although at first glance they seem fine, looking into the erythritol it says:  

  • Other Side Effects: Some people may experience bloatingnausea, and loose stools when consuming erythritol.

and considering that this is only one of the many artificial sweetening sources, as well as the naturally occurring ones, I think I'd rather give them a small glass of orange juice.  It's also left a very strange taste in my mouth, but that's probably because I rarely have things with artificial sweeteners in these days.

The items crossed off went in the Foodbank trolley.  

I tend not to buy much for the Foodbank from Booths as the prices are usually more expensive there, and I like to get as much as possible for my money so that it helps as many people as possible, but when I see a good deal on something I will buy it for the trolley.

An Easter breakfast, a hot cross bun and a nice cup of coffee.

I forgot to turn the toaster down and it browned it a bit much for my liking, but it was just on the right side of being too well done.  My son used to tease me about eating 'hot bread' rather than toast as I like it so pale.  😄

So I've now spent most of my budget for this month, in fact I think I have only about £15 left in my purse.  But as Alan is going shopping later today, I might go with him and see if the reduced priced vegetables are in our Aldi.  It would be worth a little spend to get some more veggies in as I have just turned a lot of what was left in the fridge into a panful of roasted vegetable soup. 

Have you made use of the reduced priced vegetables that most of the supermarkets seem to be offering here in the UK?

Sue xx

Wednesday 27 March 2024

Four Pounds and One Pound


I was donating some shoes and other sorted out items to the local hospice shop the other day, and after a lovely chat with the shop manager ... I was a charity shop manager with quite a few different charities for a good percentage of my previous working career, so we had lots in common ... I might have accidentally wandered into the book section.

The bottom two books were from our local Hospice shop and the top two from the charity bookshelves in Booths, where I went for a coffee.  

Temptation is a brilliant terrible thing.  😁

Four books, and four pounds donated to two charities ... we are all happy.

I only had a coffee in Booths as I had already eaten breakfast before I left.  

I wanted to try that lovely bottle of organic tomato ketchup that I got for just £1 on my last visit, shown on the last 'shopping' post.  Happily, it also meant that I used the last four of my Linda McCartney sausages.  Gosh that stack of boxes of various types of sausage had been in the freezer for a long time, I'm glad to see the back of them.

The sauce was quite nice, very mellow tasting and as you can see made from the ingredients list only contained really good things.  It's rounded enough that it would also double up as a pizza sauce with lots of lovely toppings, so I think I will be fine using it up before the end of the month when it's date runs out.

Four one pound books, and a one pound jar of tomato ketchup.  😀

Sue xx

Monday 25 March 2024

You Wait for Ages ... and Then Two Come Along at Once


You wait for ages and then two come along at once, a frequent saying back in Manchester when we had been stood at the bus stop for ages and then two rolled up together.  In my case though it is shopping trips.

I shopped twice last week, just little top up shops, the first was the one shown last week where I spend just £2.02 and this is the second one ... spending a grand total of $4.05.  And getting a free coffee bag with my Booths card.

I have never tried a coffee bag before, so this will hopefully be a tasty novelty.

I have no idea how much a full pack of these is to buy, but the free gift of one coffee bag rang up as 10p.

The receipt.

So my total shopping for last week was just £6.07 ... and a 10p freebie.

Some things I picked up on Sunday before we went to visit Mum in hospital.  

I'm classing this as this weeks first shop and it came in at £12.15.  The liquorice packs were bought in pairs, one for me and one for Mum of each type as they were both on special offer and we are both liquorice fiends.  But I'm only counting mine as from my own budget.  The little cans of wine and spritzer are lovely for a single cold drink after a hard day, and there have been a few of those recently.

And the lemons looked like this by the end of the day, already to be open frozen for my single slice to be used in a drink each morning.  A healthy start to the day that I really enjoy.

I don't really know if I need any more shopping this week, but I might take advantage of the cut price vegetables being offered by most supermarkets for the Easter weekend, and a full bottle of wine might be a nice treat for over the Bank Holiday.  I don't really go down the 'special food for Easter' route, and the thought of all the lambs being consumed just horrifies me.  I guess that's what comes of getting to know so many of them in the past.

Sue xx

Sunday 24 March 2024

Swinging, Climbing and Growing


This popped up on my Facebook feed the other day, and it brought to mind something similar that we did.  Although ours wasn't just a den it was also edible.

We took the swing that was on our rented farm and repurposed it as a frame for our beans and peas to grow up.  Of course it meant my swinging days were over for a couple of months, but the final results made it more than okay.

The climbing frame got the same treatment, but as I had never felt the urge to climb on it, it didn't curtail my outdoor entertainment at all.  😄

We were very tempted to make use of the trampoline that we had at our rented smallholding like this, but unfortunately we had too many chickens to make it viable, and of course the geese were too tall.  😁

Unfortunately, I can't make use of any of these ideas in my new much smaller, and chicken-less growing space, but it's nice to look back and it does make you see things in a new light and make good use of what you have.

Sue xx

Friday 22 March 2024

'It was one of those March days ... '


This is oh so true today.  💖

The washing is blowing in the sunshine, and while I tried to sit out in the garden to finish the final chapter of my book, it was just a tad chilly.  So I made a fresh cup of coffee and retreated to the warmth of the living room.  The sun coming through the glass of the French doors feels wonderful, and now I am inside my coffee is staying hot.

The dogs assumed their usual basking positions.

And the final two slices of the banana bread was consumed with far too much butter ... naughty but delicious.

It's hard to believe that this photo was taken way back in 2009. 

 My grandson pictured here, was 19 yesterday.  He now has a daughter of his own and of course that makes my son Simon, in this photo with him, a grandad and my Mum a great-great-granny.  I rarely share family things on this blog but this photo just makes me smile, and happily it made my grandson smile yesterday when I put it onto his Facebook page.  Being a dad himself he has now really matured ... although saying that they are off for a week in Ibiza next week and he's been sharing scenes of raves on his Facebook page!!

Sue xx

Thursday 21 March 2024

Emptying the Fridge ... and Making Banana Cake

I'm really trying not to go shopping until I have emptied the fridge of (at the very least) all the opened and half used things in there.  

So, the other day I decided I would make immediate inroads.  The dogs got that leftover corned beef on the bottom shelf, that I had forgotten all about until this morning (it had been on the top shelf out of my sight as I can't stand to see meat in my fridge) and they were very happy.

I opened the egg box and there were only two eggs left.

So I got them out of the fridge first thing and let them come up to room temperature, and then I had one of them fried on toast for my breakfast.

The other was to join this very sad banana in a small banana cake.

So after weighing the egg and then adding flour, spread and sugar in the exact same weights I added the mashed up banana, a dash of vanilla extract and some baking powder ... I wasn't sure if this was self raising flour or plain ... and mixed it all together before pouring it into a lined 1lb loaf tin.

Thirty minutes later I had the cutest little banana cake.

And while the oven was on I started off a baked potato for my lunch, finishing it in the air fryer when the oven was turned off.

Not much inroads into the fridge yet but as you can see I have some lovely little desserts for the next few nights, alongside my lovely tasty banana cake.

Sue xx

Tuesday 19 March 2024

Minimal Shop ... and Yucky Sauce


I've just been going through all of the food shopping entries in my diary and I am surprised ... I am doing pretty well.  Especially on the money that I have spent up to now, or should that be the money that I have saved up to now.

There is space appearing in the cupboards at last, although there's not a lot of space in the freezer yet as I keep adding half of the meals made with food from the freezer back into the freezer.  I have still shopped more than I meant to shop, temptation when you are out and about is the worst thing.  And seemingly now that I am an adulting adult, most of my outings of choice seem to be to food shops. 😄

So I want to make a real effort to use up what I have and buy even less, if that is possible.  I just need to get my brain in gear and make meals that I have obviously been putting off making, so that I can use things up that I obviously bought in the past on a whim.

Although some things I should never have bought in the past.  

This Sacla Ch**se Sauce had been in my cupboard for a long time, so last week I decided it was time to use it.  I really don't know why I bought it, perhaps it seemed an easy shortcut for a quick meal, but it was very disappointing.  Minimal cheesy flavour and a strange wallpaper paste-like texture.  Never again, the reviews on the Sainsbury's page for the product seem to mostly agree with me too.

I actually wasted the last of my tagliatelle on this, and sadly half of it ended up in the bin.  It takes a lot for me to throw food away, but I couldn't think of anything to do to make the 'leftovers' edible.  😒

This weeks little top up shop, bought while I was out getting dog food was just for the three things in the top photo.  So just £2.02 spent.  I must make sure to plant a couple of cucumber plants once I get sowing seeds in a few weeks as I am developing quite a taste for cucumber as a little snack.

Sorry for not replying to comments on the last post, but my Mum was taken into hospital at the end of last week, and as you can imagine everything is a bit here, there and everywhere at the moment.  Now we have visiting and phoning times between the family organised a bit, things should start to get a little more 'normal' ... whatever that is.

Sue xx

Sunday 17 March 2024

'I'm not buying anymore books ...'

I'm not buying any more books I said to myself when my credit card statement came in the other day, and I saw how many books I had bought from various places last month.  I paid the bill in full, as I always do, and set it in my mind to be good and have none on the bill next month.

Then Alan asked if I fancied going out for a spot of lunch yesterday, and as our café of choice was directly opposite the Save the Children charity shop it seemed rude not to go over and have a little peruse of the shelves.

Ten minutes later I came out with five books and five pounds lighter.  But the good news is they were paid for in cash and there will be no incriminating evidence present on next month's credit card bill.  😁

How could any book love resist these at just £1 each.

Sue xx

Friday 15 March 2024

A Trip Down a 'Challenging' Memory Lane

 I fell down a rabbit hole of my own writings the other day, and then returned today to see what happened next.

I used to have a blog called Challenging Myself, in fact I still do I just don't write on it anymore.  It lies dormant as I felt 'all challenged out' for a while.  I was checking the old blog to see the stats and to see if anyone was still reading it or finding it useful, and surprisingly I found that it still visitors every day.

  So I decided to become one of them and read my own ramblings.

The post that caught my eye first was the one that had this as it's header photo and the title that grabbed my attention was 'Crazy Days Challenge - Day 999 - Challenging Myself to Give a F*ck' ... now you can see why, that's enough to catch anyone's attention! 😆

I read this post, and then went right back to the first day of this particular Challenge, which I had named The Crazy Days Challenge - Life in Lockdown and I was hooked.  An hour later I came up for air and coffee and then bookmarked the page I was up to and actually got on with some work for a while.

It's funny how interesting reading your own words four years after you wrote them is, and that was a weird time period in all our lives wasn't it.  Lockdown and it's own challenges caught us all unawares for a while and caused lots of problems.  Perhaps this is why I had never revisited these posts, but now that I have read them I am glad I did.

We all learned a lot about ourselves and our lives over that period, and I do feel that though we all had to face some really tough times we came out of it with a different appreciation of what we have and what we are capable of.

Sue xx

Wednesday 13 March 2024

She Gathered Beautiful Things

Art - John French Sloan - A Woman's Work 1912

She gathered beautiful things along the way to pass on, but not clothes or jewels.
She gathered starlight when she couldn’t sleep… and sprinkled it on her stories so that the children of her children would listen in wonder and remember with delight.
She gathered lessons, learned at rock bottom, and shared them with strangers and friends alike, to save them the need to sink so far themselves.
She gathered precious, life-giving laughter, and regaled the world with the humorous reminiscing of her follies, her foibles and her mishaps.
She gathered things that may not have caught anyone’s eye in auction, but when examined closely, became true treasure maps, to this life’s gold mines.

SHE GATHERED From ‘I Wish I Knew’ by Donna Ashworth

Sue xx

Monday 11 March 2024

No Shopping - Shopping - and Butter Chicken Curry

I did quite well from the start of this month with no shopping being done until the 5th, well I guess it seems good when there was so much shopping done in bits last month.  😉

I was determined to make good use of all the tiddly bits in the fridge before venturing out and by virtually sticking to my menu plan all through last week not all in the right order or on the right days, but of the fifteen meals I had on the plan I made and ate eleven of them, with the other meals being made from leftovers the next day.

One meal changed slightly to use up a half bag of vegetables and some of the spinach pellets that I had in the freezer, and a pouch of 'Butter Chicken' sauce that I found in the cupboard when I was having a bit of a rummage.  Don't worry there was no chicken in the sauce and no dairy either, so butter chicken is a strange name although it does give you the idea of what flavour to expect.  😁

So no dahl was made and the lentils lived to fight another day!!  The curry was delicious and as I have another pouch in the cupboard this will be replicated at some point, and I still have another portion of the curry to have for my tea tonight.

The first shop of March came to £18.15 and included some wine for a weekend treat.  It was low on fresh fruit and vegetables as I do still have some salady bits in the fridge drawer and I'm determined to use everything I have in before stocking up again.  So really this was just a shop for the weekend ... with a cucumber and a banana thrown in for good measure.

Just a couple of days later and Alan was going to Aldi.  It would have been rude of me not to go with him and have a coffee at Booths while he partook of a cooked breakfast.  Seemingly now he understands the mantra of never shopping on an empty stomach.  😁

Neither of us needed much but we both seemed to come out with quite a bit, although Alan more so than me as half of the shopping in my trolley was for our local Food Bank and could be dropped off before I left the store.

So all the crossed out items were just the pet and toiletry items that went straight into the food bank trolley on my way out.

Eleven days into March and I have shopped twice, but not for any huge amount of food.  Lots of little top up things to complete the meals I have in mind along with a few treats to keep me sane and a couple of packs of beetroot as I have been reading up on how this is supposed to be really good for high blood pressure.  If next time you see a photo of me I'm tinged a bit purple you'll know I took it too far!!

Sue xx

Saturday 9 March 2024

Emptying the Fridge While the Dogs Snooze On


The dogs are good at making the most of the sunshine through my French doors.

Tuesday morning Suky tried to get into the littlest bed with Mavis as that was the one perfectly positioned in the sunshine, she does that regularly but Mavis is not keen on the double decker method of doggy sleeping, so I moved the other small bed into position and they both snoozed the morning away in their own beds illuminated by the warming sunshine.

While they snoozed I was busy in the kitchen peeling, chopping and saving things.

I needed a clove of garlic to go with my tea so I took the time to separate all the other garlic cloves too,  they were put in a tub to go into the freezer.  Garlic freezes really well like this and is useable straight from the freezer.

Everything ready for my tea later on in the day.  

I find if I do this while I'm in the mood life is a lot easier.  The tub of garlic cloves went into the freezer, the rest of the onion into the fridge and all the peelings into the compost bin.

A bit later I got the tomatoes out of the fridge to come up to room temperature.

And this was the finished result.  I had forgotten to add any green veg, so a little sprinkle of parsley saved the day.  A quick and simple, but very tasty meal.

  Wednesday saw me using more of the bits and pieces from the fridge.  

I decided I would use the last little bit of this jar of beetroot to go with my lunch, so I drained it from the vinegar and decanted the vinegar into a clean jar to be used in the making of a salad dressing on another day.

This lunch was to be the last of the beetroot, the last of this jar of mayonnaise and the last of the block of cheese that I had ready grated in the fridge.  I do loving making a meal out of bits and pieces, and of course clearing space in the fridge is brilliant too.

My finished lunch.  

A tasty couple of meals and now that  the fridge is looking pretty sparse it's time to get a little bit of shopping to top things up for the weekend, which happily will be the first shop of March.

Hope you have a lovely weekend. xx

Sue xx