Friday 31 May 2024

The Books That I Read in May

 I didn't read anywhere nearly as much as I would have liked to  do in May.  Life and busy-ness just got in the way, and in the evening collapsing in front of the television binge-watching Silent Witness seemed to take over.  I must do better ... for my sanities sake, I dreamt I was looking for forensic clues in a huge pile of sofa cushions the other night!!

To the books, the first book I read this month was The Farmer's Wife and I absolutely loved it.  The blurb on Amazon talks about it so much better than I could. 

With honesty and grace, Helen shares her life in days--sometimes a wonder and a joy, others a grind to be survived--weaving in stories that read like a well-written pastoral novel. The Farmer's Wife is a book about the love of life, the nourishing simplicity of everyday work, and sharing stories around a family table full of good food.

Full of gentle wisdom, this book is an honest portrait of rural life and an authentic exploration of both the hard work and reward of keeping a home and raising a family--even though the job is often thankless and invisible.

Also included are simple recipes and dozens of guilt-free "Survival Mode" meal ideas.

The recipes, hints and tips are really good and I enjoyed the mix of autobiography and recipe book in one.  The time-line jumping was easy to cope with as it was so well written.

I highly recommend it, and it is now available in paperback.

Next I read the book I bought off the charity shelf in Booths, with the one pound coin that Alan found. 

 I didn't know if I liked this at first, it's one of those books when occasionally a whole paragraph is used when a simple sentence would have sufficed, but chapter by chapter I got into it more and more and by the end I found myself really enjoying this read.  The only slightly strange thing was that it seemed to have a very sudden ending.

Recipes from an Old Farmhouse by Alison Uttley

This is an absolutely delightful book, originally written in 1966, my edition is a 1978 reprint ... coincidentally the year I first got married ... and is really showing it's age.  I had to be careful reading it to keep the pages from disengaging from the spine.

But it was worth being careful for.

The illustrations before each new section were beautiful.

The attention to detail amazing.

And believe it or not that is the total number of the books that I read in May. However, I'm not being harsh on myself as this wasn't all I read over the course of the month, as there was lots of proof reading for my day job too, but compared to the books that I choose to read that sort of reading is complicated and deathly boring!!

I must do better in June, so I think I will start off with a couple of old favourites to get me back on the straight and narrow.  For once I am going into the next month with no book on the go, what are you reading at the moment?

Sue xx

Thursday 30 May 2024

Inside the Book Cupboard ... and the Straggler Books


The bottom half of the large bookcase is the 'book cupboard', they are not hidden from view because they are bad, special or for any other particular reason.  It purely that there are two more shelves in there that I can use.  

And where there are shelves in my opinion there should be books.  😁

There are a total of 87 books in here ... not counting the ration book and a few assorted WWII leaflets.

With the other books out of the way, here are the books on the shelves.

And here are the ones that don't fit in neat lines and usually reside in front of the others.

So this piece of furniture is actually holding a grand total of 240 books, no wonder I love it so much. It has been very useful since I bought it way back in 2008 as a display area used in my tiny shop, and it's survived six moves as we have changed our lifestyle and our homes.

This is my little green bookcase on the living room wall.  It holds 17 books.

The radiator shelves also has 17 books on it.

And finally in the living room, my plant is on top of 4 more books.

It's been nice having a good count up of my books and moving some around a bit as I found some that were in the wrong place and needed to be back with their friends.

There's just the cook books left to have a dust and a count of but I don't think I have made many purchases of cookbooks recently, so that could just be the same number as last time I did a little stocktake.  But I'll still share the photos if you are interested and for posterity.

Sue xx

Tuesday 28 May 2024

A Catch Up ... and an Explanation


I bought this shopping well over a week ago and just haven't have the time to upload the photos or talk about it on here.  The ready rolled pastry was a shortcut for myself to turn the leftover shepherdess pie filling into a couple of pies, the lemons because I was down to my last morning slice and the rest because I wanted them.

The receipt.

Calling in Booths the same week for some magazines from my Mum, I spied these in the Reduced to Clear trolley and thought they were a bargain ... and I needed some potatoes.

After this shopping the challenge has all gone to pot for this month, the main reason being that my Mum was rushed into hospital at the beginning of last week.  Once you are driving up and down the motorway and eating what you can when you can, whether it be from home or out and about, it's just too hard to keep tabs on spending.  So the card has been used instead of cash, and the will to keep tabs on spending has vanished.

So for the rest of May I will be letting the challenge slip and spending whatever I have to, when I have to, without worrying about it.

As well as Mum being in hospital our Welsh flat has sold and all the final paperwork is being dealt with, mainly by the solicitors and Alan, who has been marvellous at keeping the paperwork on track.  We had to call there for the last time on Friday night, combining it on the way with a visit to Mum who is in hospital in Manchester.

The sight that greeted us late on Friday night in the back garden was an amazing meadow like vista.  My brother generously said it is just our attempt a a 'No Mow May'.  We closed the curtains on it and went to bed. Although it was pretty and the wildlife obviously loved it, we knew that we couldn't leave it to get even longer for the new owners.

So the next day Alan got stuck in, aided and abetted by a certain little Pug.

There, a few hours later ... much better.

It wasn't all hard work and we made the most of the lovely weather with a walk on the promenade in Llandudno, and a fish and chip lunch.

The dogs people watching on the prom, since they got older it's one of their favourite pastimes.

Then after another good nights sleep, a cooked breakfast in Tesco and a bit of shopping to take home with us.  There was time for another hospital visit in Manchester on Sunday, and finally home to get stuck into some more of the paperwork concerning the lease.  It was a lot less complicated to buy this flat when it was brand new that it is proving to sell it, it's freehold all the way for us from now on!!

It's been quite the Bank Holiday weekend!!

So, to keep things easy for May I am classing the month as a Total Spend of £100 ... and not even worrying about it at all.  I will leave the carry-over figure as it is and move forward.

Yes there has been a stash of chocolate purchased for those collapsing on the chair with wine and chocolate moments that are sorely needed at the moment.

Sue xx

Sunday 26 May 2024

The Large Bookcase


Back in March I counted the books on my small glazed bookcase and posted about it HERE,  I meant to carry straight on and count all my books, but time and other things wait for no woman, and I just never got round to doing it.  

So when the sun briefly showed her face the other day and highlighted all the dust on the edges of the shelves of the large bookcase ... it is stood next to the windows and French doors of the living room so the dust positively glowed ... it seemed like a good opportunity to have a good dust and wipe down of the shelves, and a count of the books.

The photos were taken after dusting ... the dust bunnies were shy!!

And now a close up of the shelves and the count.

Top Shelf - 49

Second Shelf - 44

Three more wartime books that were elsewhere and I decided to re-unite with their chums.

Second Shelf - 47

Third Shelf - 32

Fourth Shelf - 25

Total Books on Large Bookcase = 153

And then I put all the bits and bobs back onto the shelves and went and made myself a cup of coffee, well I deserved a sit down, a drink and a read of my current book after all that counting. 😁

My current read is the book that is missing from the first and last photo, and appears as if by magic on the photo of the second shelf.  The book that I am currently reading nearly always lives on the stool that I use as a side table next to my chair, so it was only fetched back to join it's friends on the shelf while it was being photographed.  πŸ“š

I'll leave it until another day to open the cupboard at the bottom and count the books in there.  πŸ˜…

Sue xx

Thursday 23 May 2024

Rosemary's Babies

My huge homegrown Rosemary bush in the back garden was getting seriously leggy and looked very worse for wear, I don't think I've trimmed her of more than the odd culinary stem, as and when needed since I originally put her in situ.  So last week I snipped her back to ground level, which incidentally gave the rampant rhubarb much more space to continue over colonising the chippings area of the garden, and then sat in the sunshine snipping away to make a few cuttings.

As you can see I got a lot of cuttings.

I've been changing the water whenever I think of it and now a week later about a third of the cuttings have tiny little roots.  So Rosemary has definitely had babies ... lots of them. 🌿🌿🌿  

And now it's time for a cup of coffee and my current book.

Herbs and books ... it's not a bad day.

Sue xx


Wednesday 22 May 2024

Day Seven - Final Day of Challenge ... and The Leftovers

The final day of the challenge and it was scrambled eggs on toast for breakfast again, same photo, same scraping of mayonnaise on the toast before being topped with a mound of eggs.

That's the last of the eggs, at the end of the week.

Once again I am 'double breading' and for lunch I had beans on toast. 

 I planned it badly ... on day five I had a third of a tin of beans on two slices of toast, and here I have half a tin of beans on my final slice of bread, which was the crust of the loaf.  I'm strange in that I'm not keen on the crusts (heels/ends, whatever you like to call them), I usually use them for breadcrumbs or croutons, or even toast them, crumble them finely and put them out on the bird table ... our chubby pigeons love them ... but smothered in this many beans I managed to eat this one. πŸ˜„

So that's the last of the bread on the final day, I planned that well. 

My final meal of this week's challenge was the second portion of pasta with a good sprinkle of my grated cheese.  It was not quite as nice the second time around, but for cooked pasta that had lived in the fridge for two days it wasn't too bad.

My cupboard leftovers at the end of this £25 shopping from home week ... minus a jar of curry sauce which I can't find, but I know I haven't eaten!! 

The mayonnaise bottle has changed from the original one, as that only had a couple of tablespoonfuls left in it so that was used up very quickly

The leftovers in the fridge.

I have decided that the Shepherdess pie filling and the cheese, along with a bit of onion from the salad bowl will be the filling for three pies with a pastry crust, and the salad will be eaten alongside one of the pie meals.

So, it's been a really good week.  

I think that I've eaten well and very healthily, I've felt satisfied every day and having the rough menu plan to work from and to keep me on track, has meant that I've made pretty good use of everything that I chose from the cupboard and the fridge at the start of the week.

I won't be able to go into a second week as something has cropped up at home and I need to help deal with that as a priority.  But this one week has been good and is perhaps something I will consider doing again in the near future.

Thanks for reading along, and I hope at least some of you found it a bit interesting.  It was good for me to get it all down on here and use my blog as a way to keep myself focused.

Sue xx

Monday 20 May 2024

Days Five and Six

 This is the food that I 'bought' from my cupboard and fridge at the start of this challenge, and looking at what I have left now there's a lot less, but then I am well into the week so it's to be expected.  It's funny I don't see less available food and panic, instead I'm looking at it as a well thought out challenge that is completely on track.  And that is very satisfying. πŸ˜€

I should even come out of the week  with leftovers, which I am now wondering if I should turn into the start of a second week.  Which could be interesting if I made a good effort not to repeat too many of the same meals, although I might have to buy a couple of things to enable it to work. 

Anyway here are the meals from day five and day six.

Day Five Breakfast

Just a simple slice of toast with peanut butter, I even shared a little bit of the edges with the dogs, they do love peanut butter.

Now this is something that I rarely do, have bread twice in a day, but I was really fancying some more toast ... so I topped it with beans. 

I mustn't have shared the beans out very equally because this is what I thought was a third of a can and it definitely looks more than that.  I obviously short-changed the two baked potato meals!!

My evening meal on day five was a pasta bake.

For the pasta bake I used one tin of tomatoes, one onion and a sprinkle each of garlic granules, onion powder and mixed herbs, and made a very simple sauce which I left to simmer away for a long time.  The flavour was amazing on the final sauce, I had added two thirds of a can of water as well when I rinsed out the can to get every last little bit of the tomatoes out, but there was no wateriness to the finished sauce.

I then poured it over four big handfuls of the dried pasta in my ovenproof pan, stirred it all through and with the lid on, left it to cook for around 45 minutes in the oven.  It gave me the two portions of pasta bake that you can see above.  The one with the cheese was my meal and the one without was my leftovers ready for the final day.

What is it about pasta that two hours after eating it even with a really good sauce you find yourself peckish again.  So I had a small bowl of salad for supper.  

Breakfast on day six was another bowl of porridge and peanut butter, my third and final one of the week.

Lunch was another fish finger butty, using the last of my fish fingers.  If I do decide to do another week, I must be strong and not buy another box of fish fingers, it makes for a lazy lunch that I could eat every day ... but shouldn't really!

I did follow it with a large bowl of salad ... a nod to health and freshness.  😁

For my tea on day six I had the large Shepherdess Pie.  Gosh that was so filling!!  My appetite has definitely shrunk these days, I'm glad I didn't serve it with anything else, as it was I had to sit still for an hour to let it slowly digest.  But gosh it was tasty.  πŸ˜ƒ

The final dish of pie filling will be carried over to next week, as I want to eat the other half of my pasta bake tomorrow.  I will be back tomorrow with my final days food and a photo of what I have left at the end of the week.  There's not much, but there is enough to give me a starter for a second week if I do decide to do it.

Sue xx

Saturday 18 May 2024

Days Three and Four


Day Three Breakfast.

Yes, it's the same breakfast as on Monday morning, so I'm using the same photo.  It's delicious, warming on these chilly mornings that we are still having, and keeps me full for most of the morning.  I had my second banana mid-morning with a cup of coffee, I wasn't overly hungry but I just fancied something to eat.

Lunch on day three was a cheese salad sandwich.  

I got a bit carried away with the lettuce, too much lettuce and not enough cheese.  My mind obviously wasn't on the preparation.

My tea on the third day of this little challenge was a nice simple one using up some of my leftovers.  The leftover mashed potato from making the Shepherdess Pies on day two, and the little bit of grated carrot and onion also leftover from the pie filling was turned into a basic coleslaw with a dollop of mayonnaise.  

This was a really tasty meal and I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it just goes to show that a tasty meal does not have to be complicated in any way.

I do love leftovers.  πŸ˜€

Breakfast on day four was two of my eggs scrambled and served on one slice of toast.  I haven't got any spread of any description for this week, so I used a small smearing of mayonnaise to moisten the toast a bit, it worked well.  

Simple, but again delicious.

My lunch was another of the Shepherdess pies, and again I'm using the same photo as I used the other day.  I have one large pie topped with mash left and the one that I left un-topped.  

Another duplicated photo, but my tea on day four was the same as my tea on day one.  Cheesy beans on a couple of small baked potatoes.  That's it, all my potatoes have been used up now.

Another good, and very filling couple of days.  

I realise I may seem to be low on fruit this week, but I just don't eat a lot of fruit as I much prefer vegetables.  I worked out the macros at the start of this when I sat and did my menu plan and everything was pretty healthy.  I'm averaging four of my five a day and getting around 50g of protein per day ... which is the recommended amount for women.

I'm feeling great and I'm very happy with my choices, which I think when it boils down to it is the main thing for me.

Sue xx