Wednesday 30 April 2014

Live Below the Line - Day Three

The cupboard looks bare by normal standards, but brings back many memories for me of days when my cupboards would look like this or even emptier.  For me that's the bittersweet side of Living Below the Line this week, the knowing that years ago I lived this way ... for real.  Scrabbling together meals from what I could afford to put into the cupboards ...

... from the couple of things that were left in the freezer ...

... and from remains of jars in the fridge.
Day three of my Live Below the Line week saw me once again having peanut butter on toast, cut artistically into triangles so you can see that they are indeed different slices of toast to the ones of Monday and Tuesday with a black coffee.  I must say this coffee is very drinkable at the time you drink it, but it always leaves me with a weird aftertaste that needs a glass of tap water to wash away the taste of it, I'll be glad to see my Nescafe again at the end of the five days.
Lunch was the same Rice Salad as Monday, I forgot to take a photo of this but it looked pretty identical. 

For tea I had Spaghetti and the second half of the jar of sauce, and I have to say once cooked it pretty much resembled and tasted like a tin of spaghetti in sauce like I used to eat years ago on toast.  I'm glad this is the last of the pasta sauce, it might be cheap but it's packed full of sugar and salt and tastes so artificial.  I was however pleasantly surprised to find a few bit of actual tomato in there!!
At the start of the week I had decided to have a fifth of the tin of peaches and rice pudding each evening for supper but I found myself just not fancying it and made do with a couple of cups of coffee each night after tea instead.
Todays food came to the grand total of 76p ..... WOW!!
I bet you can't guess what I'm having for breakfast tomorrow ;-)
Here's the LINK to my fundraising page, thank you SO much all the wonderful readers of this Blog that have already donated to Send a Cow.  I have slightly upped my target as I have already passed my initial target of £250 .... and it's all down to you - THANK YOU.
I wonder how many cows we have enabled to be sent over to Africa already, how many families are we helping to help themselves?  One thing for sure we ARE helping :-)
Sue xx

Tuesday 29 April 2014

Live Below the Line - Day Two

My second day of Live Below the Line week started out very 'carby'.
Three rounds of peanut butter on toast and a couple of black coffees. I usually buy smooth peanut butter but I must say I was getting used to this one, although the coffee left a weird aftertaste in my mouth and I usually followed it with a glass of tap water, saving my Sparkling Water to have with my tea each day.

And it was followed for lunch with my only two little eggs poached on yet another slice of toast, with another black coffee.  A scrape of butter on the toast would have been nice, but hey ho I didn't have any, so I was careful to leave the centres of the eggs a little runny so that once I cut into them there was a least some moisture on the toast!!

And for tea - pasta!!

But it was my most successful meal of the week, and luckily I had enough ingredients to replicate it once more later in the week.

Fishy Pasta

Half a jar of Fish Paste
Third of an onion
25g Broccoli picked from the Mixed Veg Bag
25mls of Mayo
125g Spaghetti

Cook the spaghetti in fast boiling water for the time stated on the pack, adding the Broccoli three minutes from the end of the cooking time.

Add a dash of the pasta water to a frying pan and 'fry' the onion, after five minutes add the fish paste and cook briefly, then add the Mayo, this simply adds a creaminess to the dish.

Spoon the pasta into the frying pan, slopping in some of the cooking water t thin down the sauce if necessary.  Eat immediately and enjoy.

This was inspired by Jack Monroe's recipe Creamy Salmon Pasta and even though I didn't have some of the ingredients it worked a treat.

Supper was simply a cup of black coffee at the computer while I read through and watched THIS to refresh my mind about why I was doing this.

Thank you for all your wonderful donations that are helping me help some wonderful people to help themselves, 'a hand up not a hand out', such a wonderful way to donate.

Sue xx

Monday 28 April 2014

Live Below the Line - My Food - Day One

It's here - It's Live Below the Line week and this is the food I ate when I did the week slightly ahead of time, as to actually do it this week would have been impossible and I wasn't going to miss it for the world.
Of course I am very aware that I have the luxury of being able to choose when to do my week of truly frugal eating for so many folk it's the norm, the day to day reality of eating to exist.  We are so lucky those of us who can afford to shop ... really shop for the foods we fancy eating and not just those that we have to buy to fill our families empty tummies.
To donate to my fundraising page  click HERE, thank you to all those of you who have so generously donated already, I am truly amazed at your generosity - THANK YOU.
As you can see from the top picture I managed to get quite a lot for my money, but would it be enough to last me through the full five days?   It was up to me to make sure it was.  My first job after taking the photograph was to stash it all away safely.  So the frozen veg went in the freezer alongside the bread ...
... which I first opened up and separated the slices of ....

... and then resealed with a clip so that I can get out a slice at a time without struggling. 
This cheap bread at just 45p a loaf felt like a heavy brick when I bought it and I really thought it was going to be dreadful, but after separating the slices I realised that it was just densely packed and was actually a lot fresher than it had felt.
The coffee was stood ready for action next to the kettle :-)

And everything else was stashed on it's own shelf in the cupboard.

Then I set down to work out how much I had of everything, and how best to use up what I had over the five days.

Breakfast Day One

Weighing out what I had allocated for each meal seemed like a good idea, especially at the start of the week as I really didn't want to eat everything up too soon and leave myself hungry.

Lunch - Rice Salad and tap water.

I got adventurous for tea and made a Veggie Bake.
Part of  an onion (about a quarter)
180g of the Mixed Veg
220g Pasta Sauce
1 slice and 1 crust of bread turned into breadcrumbs.
I simply started off the veggies in the pasta sauce, then transferred it to an ovenproof dish and topped with the breadcrumbs.  Thirty minutes later it was slightly overdone but still very edible.

I was going to serve it with rice but there was so much there I didn't bother, as it was I couldn't finish it all off.  It wasn't very successful really, I think the sauce was just too overpowering and sweet for my taste,  I'm used to the more subtle taste of homemade sauce.
But it filled me up and that was the object of the exercise I guess.
And then over a cup of coffee I worked on this plan of my foods for the week. 
I really wanted it down in black and white what I had available for each meal, the foods, the quantities and the costings, because I knew from previous experience that if I just hazarded a guess I might be hungry some days and then perhaps left with uneaten food at the end of the week which would have been lovely to have earlier on.
Back tomorrow with my day two food.  Are you or is someone you know 'Living Below the Line' to fundraise this week?
Sue xx

Thursday 24 April 2014

Totally Touristy Day

Yesterday we had one of our totally touristy days,  showing our houseguest of this week Lovely Hubby's sister Alison part of our local area.
First a few hours looking round Conwy and it's castle.
Lots of climbing round stone staircases ...

 ...loving the shade of green that decorated the inside of the many towers,
popping in and out of doorways.
And reading up on what we were seeing.

Hanging over the castle walls to see all around us,
 and marvelling at gorgeous pockets of surviving history.

Many photos were taken and we had a brilliant time.
We didn't go in here as there was quite a queue and I've seen the inside of this sweet little house years ago.  Highly appropriate that years later I had the smallest shop in Cumbria :-)
We had a wonderful time and then topped off the day with another visit to Bodnant, to the craft centre, the garden centre and then the coffee shop followed by a quick look round the farm shop.
Sometimes it's nice to be tourists in your own area.
Sue xx

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Weeds and Trees

We are gradually and steadily digging up the weeds in the front flower bed.  It didn't seem much of a job when we started but the weeds must have been plucked off at ground level for years and never fully uprooted and as we are trying to make a good job of it, we are trying hard to dig out all the well established roots.
Trying not to disturb the roots of the shrubs and plants around them slows the job down considerably but we are determined to do it properly.
It's worth it when we get to a stage where we can give the remaining plants a good water to apologise for disturbing them, and scatter on a layer of bark chippings as mulch  all around to keep the sun from burning their roots.
And talking of bark chippings ... we are amassing quite a lot of chippings and sawdust as the large old oak tree is finally being 'planked'.  After lying on the hillside in all weathers to let the rain wash the tannins etc out of the wood, it is finally ready to be made into something usable. 
Of course all the smaller logs are to be stored for firewood and in a couple of years they will be seasoned nicely and will be used to keep us all cosy in the house, but the main trunk of the tree once the slices have been thoroughly seasoned, which we have been told will take about three years,  one year for each inch of thickness of each slice, are to be turned into furniture, some for us and some of the pieces will be for sale.  It's all part of Lovely Hubby's long term retirement plan. 
I find it lovely that part of his retirement plan matches my paternal great grandfathers lifelong business which was making furniture out of oak.  He had a workshop directly above a garage in Hulme, Manchester above a couple of chaps starting their first car business, they were a certain Mr Rolls and Mr Royce.  When he had a large piece of furniture to get out of the workshop he used to lower it down a trapdoor in the floor into their garage and they would help him take it out to the front.

 Eventually the site of the old oak tree will be hidden by our garages with solar panels on the roof and LH's workshop at the end.  It was such a shame that we had to chop down this most magnificent of trees in the first place but knowing that every inch of it is being used makes it fit perfectly into our plans, both short and long term.
And I think that the number of trees we have planted over the last few weeks slightly makes up for our cutting this one down in what looked like it's finest hour.
Sue xx

Tuesday 22 April 2014

Live Below the Line - Version Five

100g Coffee 50p
Rich Tea Biscuits - 25p
Start your day with a couple of biscuits and a cup of coffee.
Lemon Curd 2 x 22p = 44p

Brown Bread  - 50p
(or you could have white bread for the same price)
Toast with Lemon Curd for lunch.
You'll be able to have 4 slices a day and lots of lemon curd with the two full jars spread out over the week :-)
Lager £1 for 4 cans x 2 - £2
Forget tea go straight to the alcohol ....

2 litres of Lemonade 17p
... making it go further with a good glug of lemonade.
Chocolate 30p
(also available as milk or dark chocolate)
When you get the alcoholic nibbles a square or two of chocolate should help.
And if you feel really guilty by the end of the week there's enough room in the budget for one whole
Banana  (at just 10p).
Total spend for this Live Below the Line weeks shopping is £4.96.
*** *** *** *** ***
This one is a bit tongue in cheek, but who knew that you could get Lager for 25p a can.  So in the interests of research I actually bought some last weekend and we had a couple of lager shandys after working outside all day.  It is very weak but tastes really nice.  Ideal for when a long cool and slightly alcoholic drink is called for (it is just 2%) on a hot sunny day.
So looking at this shopping list it just goes to show that you can do the Live Below the Line Challenge YOUR way, whatever way that might be.  The first year I did it I heard of a student that simply bought 5 huge Mars bars and a multipack of cans of Cola and that was it ... for the entire five days.  I wouldn't recommend that but it was his choice.
What would your choice be?
If you are going to be taking part in Live Below the Line this year, which starts on 28th April and runs up to and including 2nd May let me know, and if you're blogging about it I'll link to your Blog to pass on the inspiration and encouragement for others.
Back tomorrow with a definitely non-foody post.  We got a yard full of men!!
Sue xx


Monday 21 April 2014

Live Below the Line - Version Four

Fruit Yogurts 2x4 at 33p = 66p
I call this one the 'No Cook' Live Below the Line.
The only thing you will have to do all week is to make coffee and warm up a can of soup each day.
How easy is that!!
Pork Pies - 4 for 85p
12 bags for crisps for 70p
Breakfast is coffee and a yogurt or two.
Lunch will be a pork pie and a bag of crisps (or two)
One day in the week it will have to be a Crisp Pitta bread for lunch, as you only get 4 pork pies in a pack, but I like a crisp butty occasionally, it would be a bit dry with no butter but you could use a smear of your teatime soup to moisten things a little :-)


Soup 25p a can x 5 = £1.25
 - choose a combination of your favourite from Chicken, Tomato and Vegetable.
6 Pitta Breads for 22p
And your tea is a can of soup with a pitta bread, either as it is or toasted to dunk into your soup.
100g Coffee for 50p
2 packs of biscuits at 35p each = 70p
And you can pad out the day with coffee and biscuits to keep your tummy from rumbling too loudly.

1 banana 10p
There's even enough left in the kitty for a banana, in case you start missing your fruit too much, I know I would be by this stage.
With a whole 2p left over - you've cracked it again.
*** *** *** *** ***
Are you feeling inspired yet?
Do my choices make you think you can do better?
I bet you can!!  Do you fancy giving it a go this year and raising awareness of poverty all over the world, including in this country.  Never have our food banks been more used.  Never has there been such a huge increase in food prices with wages staying at or around the same level. 
If nothing else taking part in the Live Below the Line Challenge can only open your eyes to the foods that we take for granted each and every day.  The sheer abundance of foods available for those that have the money to buy anything they want to.
What IS Live Below the Line ??
Read all about the Challenge HERE
Come back tomorrow for my final inspirational five days worth of foods that YOU could buy with your £5.
Sue xx