Thursday 30 April 2015

Live Below the Line - Day 3

I woke up this morning to find an email had landed in my Inbox overnight, I've copied it here for you to read in full, I've also reinstated the link that is on the copy so you can go straight over to the Action Against Hunger 'Nepal Emergency' page and read for yourself.  
It goes to show all the doubters and people that laugh off Live Below the Line as a pointless gimmick, that every penny of the money we raise for Action Against Hunger and all the other charities that benefit from this week of penny pinching and being food obsessive, that our efforts and your donations make a difference .... a HUGE difference.  And that putting money into a charity's coffers help it to respond immediately when help is needed.

Thank you for helping.

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Dear Sue,

Well done on making it half way through your Live Below the Line challenge! Although your energy levels may be low, and the thought of eating another bowl of flavourless rice is not appealing, the funds you’ve raised so far will go a long way towards helping support Action Against Hunger’s life-saving work.

Last weekend a powerful 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, leaving thousands dead and even more injured and in need of urgent care and support. Action Against Hunger, who have been on the ground in Nepal since 2005, have deployed an emergency team who are working around the clock to respond to the crisis. The team has 11 tonnes of vital supplies ready to be transported to areas affected by the earthquake. Click here to find out the latest about our work in the country.

Thanks to your fundraising support through Live Below the Line, Action Against Hunger is able to respond to emergencies, like in Nepal, as well as working to develop community-based solutions to malnutrition and the hunger problem. Spread the word, keep fundraising and help Action Against Hunger to provide vital support to an increasing number of families in need.

Jenny Clarke
Senior Community Fundraising Officer

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I got the idea for last nights tea from a YouTube clip that I watched via the Live Below the Line page last week, when I came to try and find it again I couldn't, so I cobbled it together from memory.

First I whizzed up two of my crusts to make breadcrumbs and left them to go stale in the sunshine on the worktop.

I mashed together half the tin of potatoes with the whole tin of Sardines and the tomato sauce they were in, finely chopped an onion and mixed that in, but it looked a bit bland so I went out and cut a few Chives from the tin herb bath outside the back door.  It was a very wet mixture so I decided to miss out the egg I had planned to use to bind it together.

I didn't even need to dip them in egg to get the breadcrumbs to stick!!

I left them in the fridge all day sat on the breadcrumb plate to firm up a bit, and then when I got them out rolled them around again to pick up a few more of the crumbs.

Last nights tea, and very tasty it was too.  This time I cooked the rice as per the instructions on the pack and rinsed it well with boiling water before putting back in the hot pan to dry off a bit, it was much better. The total cost with banana ice cream for pudding was just 40p. The fishcakes cost me just 12p each and are something I will most definitely make again, although I'll be able to add more herbs and some chilli flakes next time to make them even tastier.

I've realised that the way I'm blogging about this week is a bit confusing, some of yesterdays food mixed with todays food etc, so I have put up a page at the top of the blog 'Live Below the Line 2015' which shows the food and costs as they are for each day.

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This morning is my Day 3, I'm a day behind a lot of folk as I missed out on starting on Monday.  I always find day three tough and it seems Jack Monroe does too.  I woke up this morning with a blog plan in my head only to find that she had mirrored my feelings exactly HERE.

I think that by day three the limited choices get to you.  Opening the cupboard and seeing it so bare brings back memories of opening the cupboards and always finding them like that, no doubt one of the reasons my cupboards are always full now  I brought up my boys living with bare cupboards, with meal plans carefully thought out and just enough to keep us all fed.  We never went hungry, I rarely went to bed with an empty tummy and the boys never.  A large pack of value bourbon biscuits and custard creams tipped in the biscuit tin every week meant that a drink and a couple of biscuits to dunk in it, always seemed a satisfactory treat for supper.  So things weren't that bad, just bad enough for a young Mum to worry about.

The good thing is we all survived those times, and came through them with lessons learnt and respect for what we have now.  Being able to give something back, even if it includes some bad memories for a while is my way of acknowledging that I went through that time for a reason.  For so many people living with empty or near empty cupboards is still a way of life, there's maybe not much we can do to help everyone, but if we can do something we should.

That's why at the end of this week the £20 I have saved by not buying my usual shopping this week will be spent on a trolley full of food for one of our local Foodbanks ... if I can't shop for me I can shop for someone else.

Once again I have to say HUGE THANKS for yesterdays donations.  So thank you to Tracey Whitehead, Jason Wright, Marjorie Stintzi and  'Someone' as they call anonymous donations on the donations page.  Your money really will make a difference. 

 And you see it was worth making sure Jason got those bourbon biscuits he loved so much even when times were tough, he's a loving, giving young man that I am so proud of  .... yes you guessed,  he's my youngest son  :-)

Sue xx

Wednesday 29 April 2015

Day 2 - Live Below the Line

My cupboard at the start of the week.

And once I had prepped the bread by opening each pack and separating the slices slightly, and laying the little garlic breads on an open tray to freeze them so I can remove bread slice by slice and so the garlic breads didn't freeze stuck together ....

... this was what my shelf in the freezer looked like.

Last nights tea.  Rice and half of the tin of baked beans.  

I cooked just under half of the bag of rice, so I can save time later in the week by just taking out of the freezer and zapping it in the microwave, but I'm not happy with how it turned out.  Fingers crossed it's edible.  I always cook rice by the absorption method, which didn't seem to work as well with this cheap rice.  It's very claggy and clumpy even though I was careful to rinse a lot of the starch out before I put on to cook.  The beans however, were a revelation!!  I don't eat beans very often so maybe I just enjoyed them as a complete change ... but they were very tasty.

It was a filling although rather bland meal, but I had had a very busy day and only sat down to tea at 7.40pm when all the chores were done,  I left the rice to cook while I was walking the dogs around the paddock and watering the polytunnel, so it was at least, very nice to finally sit down with a plate of something warm and reasonably tasty.

So now I have half a tin of beans in the fridge and three bags of clumpy, claggy rice in the freezer.  If they come out inedible I will have to try boiling some more of the rice in lots of hot water and then draining it.  I really don't want to have to share my rice out between the chickens and the dogs, but at least I do have enough in reserve in case this has to happen.

This mornings breakfast.

Two eggs scrambled on two slices of toast.  I was careful to slightly undercook the eggs to leave them moist .... as I don't have the masses of butter I normally slather on my toast.  I like that it looks like a big meal but this is a small plate and my bread is small, even so it was satisfyingly filling.  :-)

Massive thanks to my two donators yesterday, Sharron Harris and Pamela Dungar, who have taken me to within sight of my target.  You are inspiring me to keep going. Thank you again and HERE is the link to my official Live Below the Line donations page, every donation no matter how big or how small is one step closer to helping keep someone that is hungry fed.

Sue xx

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Starting Off With a 1p Coffee - Updated

Well my day started off with a 1p cup of coffee, thank goodness black and unsweetened is the way I drink my coffee all the time  :-)

I tipped the jar of 47p coffee into our usual coffee container on the worktop so I won't get confused during the five days and use the wrong coffee, the normal coffee is back in it's jar in the cupboard.  Well I say tipped but I actually took the opportunity to count the teaspoonfuls of coffee that you get in a 100g jar.  The way I drink it, a pretty heaped teaspoon for each mug, you get 45 cups of coffee in one jar, so for ease of maths I'm counting each cup of coffee that I have as 1p.

While my bread was in the toaster for breakfast I tipped out the contents of my bargain 20p stew pack of vegetables, all of them were looking reasonably healthy, a spot of dampness on one carrot and a bit of mould starting on the onion, but nothing that a bit of peeling wouldn't get rid of.

I decided it might be useful to have an extra carrot in my repertoire, so I took out the smallest and fittest looking carrot and added in one of my onions from the one kilo bag of onions, which I have worked out cost me 5p each.

So one chopped Turnip ....

... two chopped Onions ....

... two peeled and chopped Parsnips

.... and two chopped carrots ....

.... make one pan half full of simmering soup.

Rather worryingly it all looked a lot smaller and less volume once it was chopped and simmering, I'm hoping it was just the big stock pan that I used, I'll be able to see how many meals this is going to make once it comes out of the Aga and is whizzed into soup.

Then I sat down with a quarter of the jar of peanut butter spread on the four rounds of toasted bread for my breakfast..

Total cost for breakfast (including 2 cups of coffee) =  18p

Back later with an update.

*** *** ***

There I told you I would be back!!

When the stew/soup was cooked I had a taste and it was a bit bland, so I decided to make a purchase ... 

... from my freebie Sachet Stash.  

And as my frozen Mixed Vegetables weighed in at 11g more than the promised kilo, I picked out a few peas to add a dash of colour to today's lunch.

There ... much better!!

A good amount of soup left over.

Today's stew and three portions of soup.

A happy coincidence, but not quite an accurate statement .... it was good stew just not 'A Taste Sensation'  :-)

The pricings for four meals. 

One is now in the fridge for tomorrow's lunch and two are safely tucked into the freezer for later in the week.

Why am I doing this you might be asking yourself .... well I can't say it any better than THIS is explains it all so well.

To visit my fundraising page go to HERE

BIG THANKS today go to Nicola H, Chris Barrett ... in memory of my cousin Tony, and Joan Shaw (my Mum) for their wonderful donations.  Thank you. 

Sue xx

Monday 27 April 2015

Live Below the Line - The Shopping

I had a rethink about my Live Below the Line shopping.

I had bought a couple of things from Asda, a couple of things from Tesco and was about to shop around to make the best use of my remaining couple of pounds, then I thought ..... 'hold on a minute if you had just five pounds to spend to keep yourself fed you would not have the wherewithal to go driving round from shop to shop just to save pennies'.

SO .... I took my five pounds and went to Asda at 3 o'clock on Sunday afternoon, knowing that whatever was there I would just have to make the best of it.  I had looked at to see what I should be able to get, and wrote myself a list with prices alongside the items I hoped to be able to buy.  Then I simply hoped that they would still have some of their value lines left at the end of a busy weekend.

They did .... phew!!
My supermarket shopping trolley is pictured at the top.

This is it unpacked later on at home.

I also nabbed a few real bargains with it being so close to closing time.  

Two loaves of brown bread for 3p each and a pack of 10 little garlic breads for 10p.  I did have a 30p brown Value loaf in my shopping trolley but that went straight back on the shelf when I managed to get these instead.  Because I had saved 24p on my bread I went over to the fruit and veg aisles to see what had been reduced there,  there wasn't much but I did mange to get this stew pack for just 20p.

Here's the receipt, showing that my shopping came to £4.18, I was pleasantly surprised. 

So when I got home I added half a dozen of our free range eggs, which at cost price are 48p and a bottle of Sparkling Water that I already had in the cupboard that had cost me 17p ... which brings me to a new total of £4.83.

I am going to use the remaining 17p to purchase whatever I need from my 'sachet tin'.  

Whenever we are eating or drinking out and about I bring home any unused sachets that we have on our tray.  I do not pick up extra just for the sake of getting freebies, all these are sachets that would have been thrown away if I had not brought them home with me.  So I have decided that I will make good use of them, and at Lovely Hubby's suggestion I will charge myself 1p each for them.

I'm pleased at how far I have managed to make my five pounds stretch, I just have to figure out a menu plan now ready for when I am starting my Live Below the Line challenge on Tuesday morning.  A day later than most people as I am off to a family funeral on today which is the official start date, but there are lots of people who have already done this challenge or will be doing it in the next few weeks ..... so if you are tempted to give it a go there is still time to join up!!

Huge thanks for my first three donations go to Lovely Hubby, Mary Dawson and Barbara Grant, I am very grateful and it has given me a real boost to see the coffers swell so early on.

This year I am raising money for Action Against Hunger.  To find out more follow this link.

But briefly ...

Action Against Hunger is an international humanitarian organisation committed to ending child hunger. We work to save the lives of malnourished children while providing communities with sustainable access to safe water and long-term solutions to hunger.
We run life-saving programmes in 45 countries helping over 9 million people every year facing emergency situations of conflict, natural disaster and food insecurity. 

My donations page can be found HERE.  Again many thanks to those of you that have got the ball rolling with your donations.  Now I just have to plan a menu and see if I can make this food last me the full five days..... I'm hopeful.

Sue xx

Saturday 25 April 2015

Polytunnel Views, Planting .... and Live Below the Line

The view of the polytunnel at the start of this weekend, it's already changing in there, I'm in a busy, busy frame of mind and things are getting done at the moment !!

 Thursday saw lots of activity outside of the tunnel, it was too hot to be inside for long, in the tunnel it was reaching temperatures of well over 30 degrees, so I took myself onto the hillside to plant a few of it's former occupants ... the Courgettes.

This was them before I took the largest and strongest outside. 

And at last it's starting to properly take shape on the hillside now.  

The supports have been put in two of the beds for the Runner and Dwarf Beans, just two fence posts and a rectangle of stiff wire that we had lying around the place.  Beans don't need to be rotated into different beds like some plants and anyway I am thinking of following the 'Back to Eden' method of not rotating my crops, just plenty of mulching and really looking after the soil.

Following the link above will give you access to watch the entire film for free.  The link to watch is under the 'Donate' button, just ignore the Spanish subtitles .... unless you speak Spanish ;-)

Once the Courgettes were in I covered them with my net tunnels, I cut one of them in half ... the deer had chewed through them at our last place anyway, so it was no problem to take scissors to them now.  Two of the courgette plants are covered with my glass cloches and one has to make do with a plastic top from the polytunnel weighed down with a couple of stones.

It's been good this week really getting stuck in with planting food for us to eat.

Unfortunately not much of it will be ready for next week when it's Live Below the Line time again, maybe a few of my Radishes but that's it!!   I have already spent £2.98 of my £5 I have to now sit and plan very carefully what I'll be spending the other £2.02 on to keep me fed for the five days of the Challenge.

To visit my Live Below the Line page click HERE.  Lovely Hubby has once again started off my fund raising with a magnificent donation, now I can't change my mnd, I have to buckle down and get on with it.

I will be starting a day late this time as I am attending a family funeral on Monday and I don't think it's appropriate to have to explain why I wouldn't be eating.  So on Monday I will let you know what foods I have decided to buy and then each day you can see if I do manage to make that little £1 per day stretch to feed myself throughout the Challenge.

Sue xx

Friday 24 April 2015

The Road Splay

Splay, a verb meaning slant, slope or spread outwards;

Our road splay has progressed nicely over the last week, the actual splay work onto the road is complete and now that will be taking a bit of a back seat while the work on digging into the hillside takes place.  The main thing is we were able to send back the traffic lights after only four days, much to the delight of all the hundreds of drivers and buses and cyclists that use this busy A road on a day to day basis.  With the driveway widened out-ways we can now see much further in both directions when we are trying to pull off the property

These are just a few of the many photos that Lovely Hubby took so that we have a record of what we have done.  The highways people have been round and inspected the work and it has all been passed as having been done to a very high level of workmanship.

The new slant down to the old existing drain.

And the new drain in the road that we had to install, showing the pipe that will lead directly to our water soakaway system.  This means that no rain water off our hillside will puddle on the main road like it used to.

Once the drains were in and the pipes connected the foundations for the new walls were laid ...

... on both sides.

Looking good, a nice neat job that will eventually be tarmaced right up to the road when our drive work is complete.  This concrete line had to be installed to support and protect the main road.

The wall started going up the day after the concrete had set.  Lovely Hubby was the labourer and Arthur did the bricklaying.

Both sides eventually took shape nicely.

Here you can see the square access cover (that is alongside the polytunnel) over our huge concrete soakaway rings with the pipe leading to the pipe going to the drain in the road.  It is all starting to make sense to me now, I have a very clever hubby that designed all this.

This is the round 'thing' in the middle that all the pipes converge into so that water soaks away unimpeded.

A little bit of finished stonework on the corner, the rest of the blocks will be clad in lovely dark grey Welsh stone as soon as the next lot of digging work is finished ... of course there will be pictures for you to see then!!

I apologise for this being potentially THE most boring post you have ever read, but as it is a major development on our property it's one I needed to do for the record.

To make up for it, and for all those of you who wanted to see more photos of our little holiday cottage of last weekend, I have uploaded most of the photos I took.  The are on a separate page at the top of the Blog entitled. 'Pontbrenmydyr'.

I'm off to plant some fartichokes now .... of course I mean Artichokes ... but for those of you in the know  ;-)

Sue xx