Monday 30 October 2017

Mondays Fridge Soup

At the end of last week we had to call to Tesco late in the evening and for once we were lucky enough to grab a few bargains, it's pretty rare these days that we are there when the yellow stickers are out in force ... well to be honest we've just not been shopping that much recently, only going to the shops for absolute necessities. 

Anyway this morning I set about using the veggies up, they had survived the weekend very well in the drawer of the fridge, but I wanted to use them up before they got any unhappier!!

I emptied out the rest of the fridge drawer too ... 

... put back the few things that were in really good condition.

Then I got out the 'bits and bobs' bag from the freezer, I save all trimmings and stalks from the cauliflowers and broccoli for just such occasions.

Then it was time to fish out the 'flavour enhancers', some Approved Foods bouillon powder ...

... and one or two other additions.

I always find the more variety of flavours you put in the richer and deeper the taste of the finished product, and anyway I like to play.  So I chopped and diced and got everything simmering away nicely for a while and then decided it looked a bit wishy washy ...

... so I added a good squirt of tomato puree and a couple of teaspoon of Turmeric.

It looked much better !!

After a couple of hours in the bottom oven of the Aga I whizzed it up with my stick blender and had a good bowl full for my lunch ... for tasting purposes of course.

And then the rest was cooled ready to go into the freezer, with one small bowl put into the fridge for tomorrows lunch.

I had already dealt with the bargain pack of ham as soon as we got home, you don't leave meat lying around for too long.  First it was dried off slightly on kitchen paper ...

... then split into four usable portions.

Before being placed in a zip lock bag and popped into the freezer.

As you can see I am still determined to make full use of everything we buy or grow and watch our pennies and I'm gearing up for next year ... when the purse strings will once again be pulled in very tightly.

Sue xx

Friday 27 October 2017

The Sealed Pot 2017 ... and It's History

We've been taking part in a Sealed Pot Challenge since a blogger called Julie (SFT) started it back in 2011. 

The basic idea is that you have a pot of some description that you can't get into and put all your spare change or specific coins that you like to collect into it and empty it out at the end of the year, using the hoarded cash for a treat or something specific for yourselves.  Having it sealed or stuck up in some way really does deter the checking of amounts or pilfering of contents so your little cache builds up nicely and also gives you a lovely surprise each December.

The date for opening of everyone's pots was always Julie's birthday the 3th December, which rather nicely for us coincided almost with our wedding anniversary which is on the 4th, so it made sense even when Julie stopped blogging and running the challenge for us to continue with this as the opening date.

We have had many variations on the Sealed Pot, the first was this lovely number ...

.. which I bought for half price because of it's shocking Day-Glo colouring and painted up to match our farmhouse kitchen. 

In this one during 2011 we managed to save £258 in £2 coins and we used the money to buy Oxfam gift packs for family members for Christmas (goats, safe drinking water, hygiene kits and tools etc).

The next incarnation, for 2012 was this one ... because we obviously had to smash the first one to get at the coins.  This netted us £480 again all in £2 coins, which spawned a shopping challenge to see how long we could make it last as housekeeping money which we called 'The £2 Housekeeping Challenge' make us focus and spend as little as possible only the actual £2 coins were used to buy shopping ... we made it last until the following July. 

We were obviously able to seal this one up again and during 2013 we used it again managing to save £371.27, this time in a mixture of small change and with fewer £2 coins.  This money spawned a whole new Challenge, indeed it spawned a whole new blog '365 Days - £365'.

Sadly though, as you can see in this picture, after emptying it and just before we moved to this house the Sealed Pot had a very unfortunate accident.  It fell off the windowsill and broke into many unrepairable pieces  :-(

A new pot had to be found!!

Enter into the picture the tin we are still using to this day. 

The first year it was in a pristine condition and when we opened it in December of 2014 to find a smaller than previous total of £61.21.  This spawned a 'mini-challenge' to see how long we could make this last as housekeeping money.

The next year, 2015, saw it a little bit battered (that double sided sticky tape is a b*gger to get off)
but over the course of the year we had managed to save a grand total of  £328.71 which spawned another stand alone blog for 2016   'A Year Without ...' when we used the Sealed Pot money along with Nectar points, coupons and vouchers to pay for our daily housekeeping

The same tin was used, in it's now even more battered state, all through 2016 to save up again, but in December of that year I decided to close both blogs down and give up blogging for good.  Although obviously as you are reading this it turned out to be a temporary thing ;-)

For a change we decided to spend the money on ourselves, we had a grand total of £449.60.  We split it down the middle, I bought a dress and a couple of pairs of shoes for myself and Alan treated himself to a new power tool and it's accessories, the leftover cash paid for a nice meal out for us both.

Of course even though I thought I wouldn't be blogging anymore we are so used to doing this after all these years, that the tin was resealed and was back in use immediately .  Over the course of this year it has been fed with all sorts of coins, including once again a good number of £2s.  I was sorely tempted to open it up the other day, as it is so full that we have to give it a little jiggle to get any new coins in, but I fought the urge and decided to weigh it instead.

My normal scales said "err... get off you're too heavy".

(It means error really!!)

 I got out the other scales.  It turns out we have almost 6kg of money, I wonder how that will convert to actual hard cash?

So what are our plans for this cash?  Well we are in the early stages of thinking up a Challenge for next year, something along the lines of the previous ones, as we need to have a real cash saving, money scrimping year next year with the idea that we can then pay off the small mortgage that we raised on this house which we took out to buy our investment/retirement property eighteen months ago.

Fingers crossed that 6kg of coins is a good amount then ... and roll on the 4th December when I can finally prise the lid off and see what we actually have available.

How many of you joined in with the original Sealed Pot Challenge or do something similar now?

Sue xx

Sunday 22 October 2017

Books, Books, Books and More Books .....

Mission accomplished !! 

One completely empty bookcase ready to be moved out of the living room ready for it being redecorated, and the even better knowledge that there are no books to go back onto it once we have finished the room.

Seemingly back in February 2015 we had 619 books in our entire collection, as documented and pictured over three blog posts starting HERE.  If you want to read all three posts just click on 'Newer Post' at the bottom of each day.

After sorting through and tidying up each bookcase ...

... and each ledge ...

... and shelf downstairs, I worked my round the upstairs rooms.

Mostly fiction in the spare bedroom,

... an astonishing amount of books in my bedside cabinet.

Including one on top that I nearly forgot!!

Some more on Alan's side of the bed.

There were even a few lurking behind the computer screen.

And to the left of the desk in the office, another selection of Alan's books.

I drew a little plan so I could write the number of books on each shelf down in case I lost count, and as you can see in the end there was a grand total of 569.  So a lower number than two and a half years ago, but still a large number of books considering how many we have sold over the car boot season.  I guess there have been a few new ones in and lots of old ones out but luckily more out than in  :-)

So my plan over the Winter months is to hopefully read lots and jettison even more books ready for selling next year, and if possible whittle down the collection to a nice round 500 .... or even lower.

Hands up who else is a bookaholic  :-)

Sue xx

Thursday 19 October 2017

Mentioned in Despatches ... and Stripping Clothes and Paper

This week myself, and a number of other bloggers that live and grow here in Wales ... a couple of whom some of you should know ... have been featured in a Thompson and Morgan blog post.  My bit has this photo of the polytunnel.

It's a lovely piece and well worth a read.

See it HERE.

Meanwhile on this chilly damp and very Autumnal day I'm very firmly indoors and the place looks like a bomb has hit it, well  the bedrooms do anyway as I tackle something I've been telling myself to do for ages.  Sort one final time through all my clothes and finally get rid of everything that I don't wear, things bought that just aren't 'me' etc etc.

It looked neat when I started on Tuesday late in the afternoon while things were still confined in boxes, hung in the wardrobe and safely tucked away in drawers ....

... then I started hanging things on doors, draping things all over our bed and the spare bed and I quickly lost the will to  live, went and fed the dogs and took them for a walk.  Yesterday saw me turning a blind eye to the mess and driving to Manchester for lunch with Mum, today sees me putting off finally finishing the task by blogging about it instead  ;-) 

But once I've finished this post and drunk my coffee I will get stuck  right back in and once and for all minimise my clothes to a level I'm happy with.

Did I mention that I'm simultaneously stripping out the living room ready for redecorating at the weekend?

No wonder I get confused  :-)

Sue xx

Monday 16 October 2017

The Last Of ...

At the start of the growing year it's all about 'the first of the ...', now we are into the tail end of the growing year and it's pretty much all about ' the last of the...'.  This morning I brought in the last of the Broccoli, the chickens were lucky I gave them all of the leaves and some of the stems ...

... but the rest went in a big pan to make this weeks lunchtime soups.

I padded it out with some celery, a couple of onions and a couple of homegrown potatoes, then a handful of soup mix for added goodness.  After the first stirring I decided a few cloves of garlic and a pinch of chilli flakes would be a good idea.

They were ... the finished soup is a well rounded very healthy tasting panful of green goodness.  Much nicer than some other green things we've been trying recently.  I'll tell you more about that tomorrow, for now I have to get off the computer as it's telling me it wants to start an 'important update'. 

And anyway I need to feed and walk the dogs before the weather turns any nastier than it already is here.  We woke this morning to a weird and slightly eerie yellow coloured world and after a day of sunshine and blue skies it looks like the high winds have brought the yellow clouds back again to round off the day.

So that's ' the last of ... my blogging ' for tonight then  ;-)

Sue xx

Saturday 14 October 2017

An Autumnal Still Life

Stepping out into the drizzle of this morning to pop something into the recycling stack, my eyes rested on the scene from the back door.  It's like an Autumnal still life ... so I nipped back inside to grab my camera. 

The leaves falling from the trees tumble down onto the pots on the patio with any hint of a breeze, blurring the edges of pots, saucers and tarmac and giving everywhere a coating of the finest of autumn colours.

Standing out from all this are the beautiful Cosmos flowers, pink and white and crisp for a day before the damp in the air ages the petals far too quickly, but as soon as one flower fades and drops another is there to take it's place.  I sold lots of pots of these at car boot sales over the Summer so I do hope the people that bought them from us are enjoying as good a display as we are getting.

The old tin bath full of herbs is scruffy and looks to be way past it's best, but the herbs it contains are still in almost daily use as one of us steps out from the kitchen, scissors in hand for a sprig of this or that to add to whatever dish we are making for our tea. 

An Autumnal still life .... perhaps it's hiding my mojo  ;-)

Sue xx

Thursday 12 October 2017

I've Lost My Mojo ...

I've lost my mojo!!

I feel just like this little doggie, although it's a bit chilly to fling myself face down on the patio and anyway my sore back wouldn't allow it  :-(

Tucked away with my mojo is my 'blojo '  ...  I'm being very careful not to add a couple of additional letters there  ;-)

This might have happened !!

Remember when 'Mojos' were sweets along the lines of these Fruit Salads and Black Jacks ... very politically incorrect I assume these days, but we were innocent back then and life was so much more simple.

Anyway at the moment life is strange, I haven't been able to do the things I thought I wanted to do, I don't know if I even want to do the things I think I should want to do ... and even if I try to do them and succeed a little bit it puts me back a few days and further into the confusion.

Now I bet you're as confused as me, if you've lost your mojo and happen to find it. see if it has a friend there with it, if it has and you think it's mine please send it back here as soon as possible.  If when it arrives it's not actually mine, I will start a collection and distribute them to anyone else in this position at a future date  ;-)

Sue xx.