Thursday, 29 January 2015

Thank You

Thank you for all the kisses for Charley, knowing you are all out there and knowing you care enough to do that means so much to us both.

*** *** ***

In my little 'Pug jug' on the kitchen windowsill are a few of the flowers I won in the draw at the Maenan Garden Club Winter meal on Monday night, the rest of them are with Charley in her final resting place, which is just to the right of the wooden trim you see in the photo.  The two larger clumps of Snowdrops on top of her were transplanted there by Lovely Hubby when he discovered them blooming unappreciated next to his wood store.

I can see where she lays, and the snowdrops that are blooming next to the stone we laid there to keep her safe, every time I am near the kitchen window.  Archie the cat is buried to the left of the birdbath, the rest of the bed contains rhubarb and strawberry plants, and now Charley is buried just outside it.  They never met in life because Archie died the day Mavis came to join our family, and months before Charley did, but knowing they were both so loved by us and are now together brings us some comfort.

The house is quiet and the dogs are subdued at the moment, they keep close to us when they can and snooze the days away in their beds when we are busy.  We have had to buy new mattress pads for the beds as Rosy would not sleep in them without Charley.  

You don't realise the life and vitality a puppy brings to a house until it is gone.  But there was some excitement for them on Wednesday when our son Jason came to visit and stayed over for a night, they love him to bits and he loves them right back.   A cold and windy dog walk on Llandudno promenade brought them round for a while, but now he has gone home and it's as though their batteries have run out.

Suky's face for once sums up how we all feel.  There's no hiding sadness in a Pug's face, they can look sad when they are happy, but when they are sad the light in their eyes goes out.

I will be back blogging on Monday, hopefully by then I will be able to get my mojo back .... at the moment I think it is lying on the hillside just outside the kitchen window.

Sue xx

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Two Kisses for Charley

We have just had the saddest of sad weekends.

Charley our beloved little Chug puppy unfortunately ran into the road on Sunday afternoon and was hit by a car.  Luckily the vet was at the practice and we managed to get her there and get her pain relief really quickly, but after a night at the vets on sedation and pain relief, then a second vets opinion and lots of discussion, we had to come to the sad conclusion that the best thing for Charley was to be put to sleep.

The hardest decision any pet owner has to make and yet somehow you pull yourself together and make it.

So there's no more running with Suky and playing by the house.

No more cuddling with your bestest buddies on Mum and Dad's bed ...

... and no more basking in the sun with your big sisters keeping you safe.

Sleep well little Charley ... you were loved.

She is now buried on our hillside, wrapped in her favourite blanket with all her favourite toys with her and surrounded by the most wonderful display of snowdrops.

*** *** *** *** *** 

30th May 2014  - 26th January 2015

Please don't leave comments ... I couldn't bear to read them, if you want to let us know you have called by please leave two kisses for Charley.  xx

Sue xx

Friday, 23 January 2015

What a Dog's Life!!

All our dogs except Rosy seem to be able to watch television and understand what is going on.  Their favourite programmes obviously are anything with animals in them, and they will sit enthralled for an hour or more if animals keep turning up.

Rosy hears things on the television and responds to the sounds but unlike the others she just doesn't put two and two together and sit and look at the picture.  

We thought it was just real things they liked to watch but now we've realised they all recognise cartoons of every type.  Their favourite film over Christmas was '101 Dalmatians', I really didn't think the flat drawing style of the old Disney cartoons would have caught their attention the way modern more lifelike cartoons do, but they seemed to get really excited by what they saw.

Of course after some serious viewing they all tend to nod off and spend the rest of the evening like they spend most evenings, cuddled up on the sofa with me.

This is Suky watching Kirstie Allsop who was wearing a big furry hat in one of her Christmas programmes .... Suky was convinced it was an animal and stared intently at the screen every time she appeared with on her head.  :-)

It's not a bad life is it, snuggling up in front of the television and the log burner on the cold Winters nights we've been having.  

What a Dog's Life!!

Sue xx

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Happy Birthday Graham

I'm off on my travels today to visit Manchester to see Mum, and my lovely little brother Graham.  Together we are going for a meal to celebrate his birthday.

Why you might ask is he wearing walking boots and a natty looking camera slung round his neck on this, one of my favourite photos of him.

Well because when he's out and about in the nice days of Summer he goes after shots like this one.

Taken in the Lake District and a really good seller when I used to sell some of them through my little shop in Ulverston, Cumbria a few years back.  My brother the talented photographer ....  I bet he tears his hair out at some of the pictures I put on here!!

Happy Birthday Graham.

Sue xx

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Almost Blowing the Budget

I had a £4 off a £40 shop coupon courtesy of Lovely Hubby, who when he buys fuel at Sainsbugs always foregoes the ease of the 'Pay at Pump' and instead goes inside the shop to pay ... just on the off chance a coupon will spew forth from the till.

It did, and I tucked the coupon into my purse.  As I needed fuel when I got to the supermarket I thought I wonder if this will work for me too.  So I went into the shop to pay and lo and behold I got another coupon, this time £6 off a £60 shop.  Now I thought long and hard about what I could possibly need that would make me spend £60 and I went in to the shop open minded about what I would buy.

( I only found out recently that as long as you spend the amount of the highest offer voucher, all the others will be accepted at the same time.  So in this instance I got a total of £10 off my £62.45 shop and double Nectar points on the whole amount as I had a coupon for those as well.)

I had a small shopping list of grapes, milk, soft cheese and coffee, all things we really needed but other than that nothing that would bring my total even close to that magic £60.  Then on my way round store I spotted the things that were on offer, and it turned out I could buy a new fitted sheet for our bed at half price, ours has gone uncomfortably bobbly and worn, shower gels and toothpaste of our favourite brands were all less than half price, so I stocked up for the next six months, and new dog collars for the pooches in my life just shouted out at me from the shelf.

I have to keep some spares in the house as Rosy is apt, every now and then, to leave hers down a rabbit hole.  So if you ever see a wild bunny wearing a red and white spotty collar you will know it popped out of a rabbit hole in our neck of the woods and picked up Rosy's while making a snappy exit!!   ;-)

Oh, and I have to confess to a new jumper for me ... well it look so good on the mannequin in the doorway and looked so incredibly cosy.  

Sainsbugs customer 'tempt them in the doorway' technique 1  -   Sue  nil

Looking at the food part of my purchases I thought I had blown my budget, after all I had only £37.81 left of my Mini Challenge budget, available to spend and on the drive home with two exhausted dogs snoring away on the back seat of the car (we had stopped off for a walk in Rhos on Sea and walked a lot further than usual, hence our being in Sainsbugs neck of the woods) I was wording in my head today's blog post.  Title ..... 'Blown the Budget', text about how I could not resist the tasty bargains that I had found and sorry but the challenge was over a lot sooner than expected.

Well to my utter delight after taking away all the non food items I was stunned to see just the above things left on the worktop, virtually all included in my Capsule Kitchen (not the Ryvita crackers) and all just coming under the available allowance.

So I spent ££36.53 and I have remaining £1.28.

Not a lot is it, but with my 47p T*sco coupon I should just about be able to last another week, if I just buy milk and a couple of bananas next week.

As is my way the breaded fish portions were individually wrapped and added to my 'fish box' in the freezer, reminding me that I have yet to make my freezer inventory.  Something I think is vital now that I have just about ran out of money and it will be nice to have a list showing exactly what is in there to save me standing with the lid open wondering what to cook.

This picture reminds that someone asked did I know of any freezer labels that didn't peel off and lose themselves in the depths of the deep freeze, leaving you with lots of boxes and packs of unidentifiable freezer objects.  Why not do as I do and simply snip off the part of the label on the food packet that describes the contents and pop it in the box or bag with the food you are freezing. 

 Sometimes I write on the label what each item has cost me for budgeting purposes, but after buying these particular fish portions constantly for a while now, I know for a fact that they come out at 83p each.  Which makes for a nice cheap tea when combined with either a leafy salad or a few chips and garden peas.

'Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves' ..... a good mantra for me to keep in mind with only £1.28 left to spend  :-)

Sue xx

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Trees and Colour

Lovely Hubby worked like a real trooper over the weekend and finished off the tree area at the far end of the paddock.  He planted about another fifty bulbs and then wheel-barrowed over load after load of chippings to cover all the bare soil.

There is still lots of work to be done in this area as it will eventually become a screen to the reed bed, pond and soak-away area for the new septic tank we will be installing for our holiday homes in the future.  But for the moment it is looking neat and tidy and at last the trees can stretch out their roots and settle themselves in ... they'll hopefully be here a lot longer than us.

The dogs hung around while I stood snapping, eager to do their usual couple of laps of the paddock and see how many rabbit dropping they can feast on before I spot them at it and tell them to 'leave it' ... they do once spotted but it's turned into a daily pudding after their dish of dog food for breakfast  :-)

There's not a lot of colour anywhere at the moment ......

... but if you look closely the heather is blooming.

The pots on either side of  the front door ....

... both with their little splashes of colour.

I also have a pot on the doorstep and I didn't realise until I downloaded this picture that something has been eating my plant :-(

Sue xx

Monday, 19 January 2015

Tidying Up the Inbox

When I have got simply no energy left for rummaging through cupboards or hoicking out boxes I sit at the computer and blog hop, a mug of coffee warming my hands and snoozing doggies at my feet it's a pleasant way to spend an hour, and a much needed rest after cleaning out the henhouse and walking the dogs around the paddock in the snow.

To make myself feel virtuous and as though I have still accomplished something useful in my mission to declutter our lives, I have taken to re-considering a lot of the emails that are landing in my in-box with alarming regularity since the new year began.

It's as though everyone is demanding my attention to look at their products, asking that I click through to websites to peruse their wares and offering me the chance to win competitions that will reward me with more 'stuff'.

Well I must have unsubscribed to around a hundred various companies over the course of the last three weeks and still I am getting the odd new one, this morning's was from Ecover.  Yes, I use some of their products, but NO I do not want to read about their stuff in my own in-box ... than you very much.

So this morning one more ...

... and hopefully one less email to read through next week.

And THE most annoying thing of all is the companies that then send you an email asking if the unsubscribe was a mistake and would you like to re-subscribe.

Sue xx

(All Images from Google.)

Sunday, 18 January 2015

A Sunday Stroll

We woke up to find a thick layer of snow coating the hills opposite our house this morning, but the sky was lovely and clear and the early morning sunshine just beckoned us outside.  We donned our coats, thawed out the truck and piled the dogs in the back.

Twenty minutes later we were on the prom in Llandudno where unusually they had the same weather as us and the sun was shining .....

... so much so it highlighted that Lovely Hubby still had his slippers on!!

Luckily they are his new and pretty substantial Hotter slippers, but still not the optimal footwear for a walk along a wet, frosty prom any day of the week.

Soon we noticed the sky darkening and a lovely rainbow fading gracefully into the sea.

Which was soon joined by a bright strong rainbow, that went from out at sea over to the front of the houses that sit behind our favourite place to eat out in Llandudno ... Osbournes.  As we stood admiring (and photographing) the rainbow the rain started falling, big fat blobs of ice cold rain.

Time to turn tail and head back the full length of the prom .... especially if you're still wearing your slippers.  I see jokes, many many jokes about this, I've got ammunition for years to come  :-)

Footnote (haha) :  The slippers survived and although a little muddy, kept his feet dry and the Hotter brand's reputation more than intact!!

Sue xx

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Shopping ... but not on a Sunday!!

I decided to go shopping yesterday to buy some more fresh stuff to compliment the food in our freezers, cupboards and the fridge.  The fridge was looking very sparse and nothing like the photo I put on the blog at the start of the week, so shopping really was a necessity. 

I kept it to all healthy things and the only items I bought that weren't on my Capsule Kitchen shopping list were the milk for Lovely Hubby, the Butternut Squash and the Quorn Cottage Pie .  I don't normally buy these but at the checkout after paying for everything else I got a 47p coupon off my next shop and a 50p coupon off any Quorn product, which I had noticed on my way round the store were on special offer.  I had thought I would be able to use both coupons off it but it turned out that the 47p coupon was only valid from 17th January ... one day later ... sneaky, sneaky T*sco.  Still it did mean that I got the Cottage Pie for just one pound, which made for something quick and tasty for lunch when we got home with the shopping.

So I still have a 47p coupon to spend on some more shopping .... and next time I will read the small print more carefully.

The shopping above cost me £11.16, which means I still have £37.81 to spend.  

It's going quicker than I thought it would, but then I've not really been making an effort to use up the vegetables in the freezer, I think I should be brave, put some gloves on and have a good sort through the chest freezer to see exactly what I have in stock before I do any more shopping.  At least there's a bit of room in there now for me to be able to see what I've got and have a sort out.

Did you set yourself any challenges for the New Year, and if you did ... how are they going?

Sue xx

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Rushed Through Your Days

Do you ever get the feeling that you are being rushed through your days.  Rushed through your weeks, your months and even more worryingly, rushed through your years.

It is literally three weeks since Christmas, two weeks since the New Year, and the shops have been selling Cadbury's Creme Eggs for a couple of weeks now.  The chocolate eggs are being highlighted everywhere in the press because of the complaints about the 'change in recipe' of the chocolate and the reduction in the number of eggs you get in your 'half dozen' packs.  

Christmas seems a very distant memory.

If we are being encouraged now to buy Easter Eggs aren't we being rushed forward quite considerably.  Surely first we need to be persuaded to buy something tacky and red for Valentines Day ...

.... or extra lemons and pancake mix for Shrove Tuesday.

There is talk already of 'spring cleaning' when we are only just into Winter properly.  The last thing I want to be doing is taking apart my house and cleaning everything, I need the fluff and the dust to keep me warm, so NO I will not be dashing out to buy 'products' to clean my home.  

If the dust bunnies get too fluffy,  a good hoover and a bit of good old soapy water and a recycled cloth will keep them down until it actually is Spring and the sun once again shines in my windows.

We are being rushed forward to the next thing constantly, told that we 'need' to buy this and we need to buy that to make our families happier, ourselves more successful. and our world a more hygienic and better place to be in.

But how much do we 'need' to buy ... I think it's time for a lot of us to take a HUGE step back!!

Time to assess what we need and what we have.  To think long and hard about what we want and why we want it.  I think I can honestly say at this moment in time I do not want anything.  I have enough food in the cupboards to keep us fed for weeks, enough oil in the tank and wood in the log pile for heating the house.  I have enough clothes and shoes to last me a couple of years ... in fact I still feel I have excesses so I am about to have another few days of sorting through things and taking them to the charity shops.

I do not want to buy any creme eggs, nor do I particularly want anything for Valentines Day, a hug and an 'I love you' means so much more than a mass produced card that will no doubt be replicated on many a mantlepieces all over the country.

As for Shrove Tuesday I have flour and eggs and if I feel the urge to join in I could no doubt rustle up a few pancakes ... it seems I would be in good company.

No, I don't want to be rushed through my days ... I want to live my life one day at a time, to enjoy my days not dash through them.  

Yes we may be busy, we may have a hundred and one little jobs that needs doing, families that need caring for, animals that need feeding, walking and loving but we can take out of our lives all the extra things that fill up the time, that fill up the space in our heads with their demands.  The shopping for things we don't need, watching adverts that tell us we do need them.  Planning outings to go and buy things and fighting our way round shops full of people doing exactly the same.  

I wish the shops were closed on Sunday as they used to be, to have a day when the only shops open were the newsagents in the morning for your Sunday paper and the little corner shop for that pint of milk or loaf of bread that your forgot to buy.  Life was simpler back then and a day for breathing, relaxing and taking stock was available to all of us.

We all though still have it in us to make life simpler and make life special, if that is what we choose to do, and if you are one of the people that loves the hype, loves the hustle and bustle, loves being pushed along on a conveyor belt of consumerism and loves keeping up with Jones, then I'm sorry this wasn't the post for you was it  ;-)  

We each only get one life,  it's not a rehearsal for another one, a better one, a different one ... this folks is it.  Our lives.  Make your days count and DO NOT let anyone rush you through them ... they are YOURS all yours.

Sue xx

All pictures and images from Google Images 
..... who even knew there was a whole page there full of dust bunnies!!   :-)

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Early Morning Darkness

We planted six trees on Saturday and I've been meaning to photograph them for posterity (and you)  but I keep forgetting to take the camera out with me and my phone has had a week of playing silly buggers!

This morning although it was still vaguely dark on our doggie walk around the paddock I did have my camera with me, so these dark and dismal pictures will have to do.  I could nip out now and take some, it's lovely and bright at the moment but as is the way here on this little bit of Welsh hillside the rain is also falling and every now and then keeps trying to be snow ... so I won't bother.

We have put in three Oak and three Birch, they will be joined soon by some Almond, Walnut and another nut tree whose name completely escapes me (lovely Hubby did the order) and then eventually by a pond, bamboo and reed area.

The big mound that you can just about make out is the pile of nettles roots that we had to dig out to get the area vaguely clear.  I say we .... but we had a little bit of help from Arthur and his little digger, thank goodness for boys and their toys.  No doubt there will still be lots and lots of nettles left but we will keep a beady eye out for them in Spring and zap them as they appear, well after we have picked their tenderest shoots and leaves for nettle soup and nettle pesto, might as well make some use of the little blighters!!

The area seems so much smaller from halfway up the paddock. 

 If you think our road is always deserted think again, I had to wait ages and takes lots of photos to try and get the pictures 'car free'.

Back tomorrow with some lighter, brighter pictures.

Sue xx

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Mini Challenge 2015

My Mini Challenge for 2015 is simply spending the Sealed Pot money on food to supplement what is in our fridge, freezers and cupboards and seeing how long I can make it last for.

Well at the end of last week I had to bite the bullet and hit the shops, the milk was all gone and I was craving bananas!!  As I am also taking part in Courtney Carver's  Capsule Kitchen Challenge I was determined to only buy things on my list of 33 foodstuffs, and I managed it apart from the little fresh cream cakes which were a little treat for Lovely Hubby's birthday at the end of last week.

You will notice that I also bought beetroot which initially was not on the list, but as it was on special offer and we both love the stuff I decided to swap out Leeks from my list and replace it with  Beetroot.  The leeks I have growing are tiny, tiny and as such will not be harvested for a long time, in the meantime I will have beetroot.  It's good in salads, sandwiches and makes juices look and taste amazing, so it's on the list.

In total I spent £12 24 on the things above, which means I have £48.97 left.

The single bottle of Sparkling water is representing the ten bottles that I bought.  I just couldn't be bothered to put them all up on the work top and then have to move them over to the cupboard and fridge so I just put the one on the worktop for the photo.

This was our fridge at the beginning of last week, we have chomped our way through some of the foods, and some of the excess Christmas foods have now been popped into the freezer, including the wedges of Stilton that I bought Lovely Hubby, this has now been portioned, individually wrapped and is now hidden away in the cheese box in the freezer with lots of other bits and pieces of cheese.  I love having my 'cheese box' it means that I have a selection of cheeses to vary the taste of quiches, pies and to add to salads, and by freezing them in small portions means that I can have a mixture of flavours and colours, and of course there is also always a box of grated Cheddar and of Parmesan style cheese available to use straight from the freezer.

Our hens have started laying a few more eggs now and their lovely offerings are gracing many a breakfast ....

... and give me an excuse, if ever one were needed, to use my favourite little egg cup.  Hand painted by someone with the initial 'D' in 1956 and picked up by me for 10p at a car boot sale many, many years later.

Sue xx