Monday 31 July 2017

As an occasional treat ...

We like to buy a hot rotisserie chicken from the supermarkets. Due to the price now being around the £6 mark, I like to get as many meals from it as possible. Yes I know it would be cheaper to buy and roast myself, but I simply cannot replicate the fantastic taste and moisture that the hot version has.

We bought one for this week and as soon as were home and the rest of the shopping was put away, I set to (after a cup of tea), to pick the cascass clean and the carcass added to my pressure cooker along with some bay leaves and other herbs and hot water:
The meat was put to one side:
It was cooked for 10 minutes, left to depressurise normally before having carrots, celery, onion and potatoes added to it. It was cooked for another 10 minutes under pressure, again allowed to depressurise naturally, thickened, 2 stock cubes added plus some herbs and the last bit of garlic cream cheese:
We had 4 ladles each over 2 days for lunches, so all in all, a good start.

Friday 28 July 2017

More than just a challenge

Challenges are a great way for saving for something quickly for something specific. It could be a family holiday, a looming bill, starting an emergency fund etc. Your challenge could be to lose weight or something similar. Whatever it is, a challenge can help but could you do it week in week out - for a very long time?

This is what many families have to do nowadays as prices continually rise, your favourite products might remain the same price but have become smaller and don't last as long because of this reduction in size. There may have been a time when you could afford to have your central heating on high in winter and sit around in tee shirts and shorts (I know people who still do this). You might have been able to eat out all the time or quite often, go to the cinema, meet friends in the pub, go on several holidays a year. Spend what you liked, when you liked.

You may have credit cards coming out your ears, are drowning in debt but hey, its okay, you are both working and can manage. Are you about to take on a mortgage? Before you do, ask the bank how much your monthly repayments will be should the interest rate double, or even treble, could you still afford it? You may have some savings already and in particular an emergency fund,  then wham! One or both of you lose your job, what then? How would you cope, how long will your funds last if you can't find a job soon?

You may already be unemployed or about to be, getting made redundant, retired, working but not earning enough, on zero hours contracts, or a whole myriad of different situations that have put you in a flap, stuffed between a rock and a hard place and have no idea what to do.

Unfortunately, although I can't help you with some of those problems, others can, both here on blogland, the internet in general or agencies, both government and otherwise but be careful who you approach, there are a lot of sharks in debt filled waters!

What I would say is do not despair, there is light (and often help) at the end of these long tunnels, you just have to find your miner's lamp, dig and get to the other end, by whatever means you can. It may be soul destroying at times, but you have to fight and keep on fighting.

This post came about because whilst we try to live a simple life, save hard for what we need, we find food prices (as well as utility prices) are rising fast. DB's annual pension rise doesn't even cover the monthly rise in council tax let alone other bills, so we still have to be very careful. Despite or because of this 'frugal' life, we are still managing to save each month. Whatever is left on pay day, gets put away, doesn't matter if it is pennies or pounds.

Our menu has also become a little staid and we are in need to some changes. Looking around for some new sites for recipes, these two in particular struck a chord:

here and here

Have a nice weekend folks.

Thursday 27 July 2017

On the food front...

Less is more it would seem. Having dieted from January to the end of March due to putting on weight as a side effect from my heart pills (and with the doctor's permission), I came off those pills for a time and kick started our diet with a fortnight of 800 calories a day.

It was jolly hard work I can tell you. After that, we ate about 1200 - 1400 calories a day. Having never calorie counted, that was hard to do as well.

It has, so far, paid off. DB kindly came on it with me as it would have been difficult otherwise. We both lost weight and on the whole, it has stayed off. What we gain one week, disappears the next etc.

I was perusing my tabs above and clicked on the menu one and was amazed to see how much I put on our plates - mind you, they were the smaller sized dinner plates but even so. Neither of us can eat this much per meal now, so guess something has changed inside - stomach size maybe, who knows.

For me a breakfast of a smoothie (250 cals) is the norm, DB still has porridge 5 days a week. Lunch is either soup or a few crackers and cream cheese or a sandwich plus fruit. We might have a small piece of cake or a biscuit in the afternoon if I have baked, but that is usually only once or twice a week maximum (eating not baking). A decent but not overlarge tea and maybe jam and yoghurt for supper. We eat at 5pm in the evening so usually need a small top up around 8pm.

We rarely eat sweets now so that has also changed. DB eats more than me as he needs to not lose anymore weight. He lost 2" off his waist and nearly 1 stone in weight, which has kept off. He feels better for it even if some people comment he is a bit thin. BMI wise, he is still at the upper end so we both feel his current weight is okay for him.

Mind you, as the food prices are continuing to rise, maybe eating less is also better for the purse strings!

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Wednesday 26 July 2017

How on earth ...

Is this red admiral butterfly still flying:

So tatty, maybe it had been stuck in a shed or garage for a while and beaten its wings to pieces trying to get out?

Tuesday 25 July 2017

New door

We had a new steel front garage door fitted. They did a grand job and were on their way within an hour and a quarter, after eagerly consuming a hot drink and explaining how it worked to DB who was out there, checking they were okay in the pouring rain!

Later, he showed me how to open it, from both the outside and inside - and we got locked in. One of the locks didn't quite slide out properly and he had to walk all around the house to unlock it from the front, which was a bit of a problem. He eventually managed to sort it out.

This week, we had the old and slightly rotten (and much mended) side door changed for a UPVC version:
So much better. Both had been saved up for and we shall pay our debts this coming week when the bill arrives.

On a slightly different note, who would have thought we would still be eating soup n the last week of July? Some days recently have been just 14C!

Monday 24 July 2017

Holkham Hall Fair

Despite a not very good weather forecast, we had good weather whilst we attended this fair. It is quite expensive and we usually pay early to get a good discount (£3.50 in this case).

I kept forgetting to take pictures as there is so much to look at. Loads of scurrying and gun dog events to watch, some very funny with some dogs and owners not having a clue, often getting distracting by what was on in the next bit of field.

Puppies galore were bounding around, there were horse, ponies, ferrets, birds of prey etc. Lots of plant and craft stalls and outdoor clothing shops.

DB bought me an early birthday present, something I have wanted for a long time - a wax jacket:
This one is brown but the one we got was dark green. It was also £5 cheaper than buying online so that was good.

Herewith just a few horse/pony pictures when I finally remembered to take some:

Fancy camping in this:
Although we were only there for a few hours, we really enjoyed ourselves.

Sunday 23 July 2017

End of War Diary

The final installment of our War Diary for Year VII has been published. Although we carried on for much longer, (and much of its ideals are still practised today) dealing with rations and trying to live a simple life, I only wanted to print those bits that corresponded with the actual years of WWII.

I hope you enjoyed reading it and have found it useful.

Thursday 20 July 2017

Raised bed worm tower

I have been reading about worm towers for quite some time and as I have 3 decent sized raised beds and 3 old flower pots to utilize, decided to rope in DB to help me build one!

Herewith just one of many videos on the subject to view here

There are many variations on these and some say to use only compost worms, others that garden worms will infiltrate into it and work as well. I am trying the latter for now but if I find some compost worms in my larger bin, might add a few of those as well.

First of all, one large plastic defunct tub, with 1" holes drilled into the sides and bottom, and smaller holes near the rim for ventilation:
Some old door flyscreen net around the ventilation holes to try and keep out the fruit flies:
A hole was dug in raised bed 1, the base filled with our own compost and the pot put on top.  A little more compost was added and some shredded paper which was watered well.
A few kitchen waste scraps were put on top and a little more water added:
I currently don't have a garden saucer large enough to cover the top of this so have used a garden tray as a temporary lid:
When I have a bit more time, I shall hunt through our compost bin for a few more worms to add to it.

Have a grand if wet weekend everyone!

Wednesday 19 July 2017

A few vegetables

Welcome to suepoo via Bloglovin. Two or three thunderstorms here last night and a good amount of rain thank goodness, not too drastic but the road almost flooded over the kerbs.

In bed 1, broad beans have been harvested and some dwarf french beans and lettuce sown in some pots. A sad tomato is also here and some new parsley:
Bed 2 has seed sown leeks and a few leftover beetroot:
Bed 3 has some carrots, lettuce going to seed and the odd beetroot or two:

Bed 4 on the patio has beetroot and Hungarian hotwax chilli peppers in it:
We have had a few beetroot and chillies from here already.

Between beds 2 and 3 is a small herb garden. A baby rosemary in a pot in the middle, thyme, sorrel and oregano in two old green trugs:
Finally on the back mini patio is a raised apline planter:
Although mainly flowers, it also has 3 thymes in it!

Could be doing better but too many things were happening in the family when I needed to be here so the vegetables have suffered a little.

Ah well, onwards and upwards!

Tuesday 18 July 2017

Productive back garden

Thought it about time I showed you some of the back fruit garden. It is suffering a little from lack of rain but is managing to cope reasonable well. First up a ten year old 'dwarf' conference pear:

 Apple Laxtons Superb:
Apple Egremont Russet:
Red Pear:
 Victoria Plum:
 Czar Plum:
We also have a Spartan, James Grieve and Fiesta apple tree but they don't have much fruit this year despite loads of blossom.

New 2 years ago was a greengage which has a few fruit on it. In the fruit cage is a blackberry beginning to fruit, 2 small blueberries which have less fruit than normal on them, a new red gooseberry, a small rhubarb and a blackcurrant.

Monday 17 July 2017

Back to normal bread

Although we have found the bread recipes from The Glutenfree Alchemist's website wonderful, we have missed normal bread. As we don't need to eat GF, we have decided to go back to non GF bread. We will however, keep baking cakes from her wonderful site!

We have invested in bags of light rye flour, malthouse and wholegrain spelt, and found a new recipe to try from here:

We baked half of it to begin with, didn't use the sugar, used wholegrain spelt instead of white flour as it was all we had and forgot to add the caraway!

Texture was light and springy, and it didn't have an overpowering rye taste. We shall try it again, remember to use the caraway seed (we prefer it ground), use white flour instead of wholemeal spelt and see how that goes.

Friday 14 July 2017

Come what may ...

There will be a British winner of the mixed doubles at Wimbledon, as both Jamie Murray (with Martina Hingis) and Heather Watson (with Henri Kontinen) are in the final, yay!,,,

Thursday 13 July 2017


Visiting DS and DDiL last weekend, we got to see the dogs. Herewith Miss S., the eldest at 7 and in the medium sized dog bed:
Then the second eldest at 5, Miss M., the smallest of the dogs but in the biggest bed:
Finally Master L, the youngest dog at 3, also the largest and for a change, on the largest bed, he usually ends up on the smallest bed!

Wednesday 12 July 2017

Still my tennis hero.....

No, he didn't play badly, he is injured! How the heck you even got this far Andy is just amazing so well done for trying your best. All we can ask of anyone is their best. Now you need some time out to get properly fit.

As for those 'fans' whose geographical brain freeze allows them to change his nationality, depending on whether he wins or loses- sigh - lets get it straight. He was born in Scotland therefore he is Scottish. Scotland is part of Great Britain making him British as well. Now you know.

We still have some players in, which is just great, so lets cheer them on. Others have gone deeper than before but are now out, well done to you all.

Tuesday 11 July 2017

Two Beauties ....

We visited DS and DDiL this weekend. Got to catch up with the grand-dogs and meet our grand-horse 'Lunar" for the first time. She is 14 months old and with DDiL, attended her first Western riding event.

She is too young to be ridden so did a walk and trot around the ring. I don't understand all the in's and outs of it all, being new to Western riding events and shows but she was nice and calm and did very well.

From what I can gather, they only give rosettes to those who do really well. For example, you might have 6 in the group and only a few (if any) will get an award.

Anyhow, DDiL was stood in the ring at the end and they announced they would be awarding 1 less rosette than those in the ring so she stood there, just happy to have done well.

Her name was called out and there was no response from her for a few seconds, then she realised the 'whoops' of joy from the stable she is with, were for her and Lunar and almost burst into tears, such was her shock - 2nd place!

The other event she was in - 2nd place. Go girls!

Herewith a picture of them both just as they had finished - isn't the braiding of Lunar's mane beautiful:
All in all, a lovely visit and we got to meet horses and riders and see what these things are all about.

Friday 7 July 2017

A quick pee...

That was how long the rain lasted here last night. Rumbles of thunder in the distance and it was over. Just shows how the rain varied across Norfolk.

This morning saw me give the garden a good soak as my vegetables are not at all happy and keep drooping. Also with new plants/shrubs in, I need to prevent them getting stressed.

Harvested our second small crop of beetroot for tea and all our small crop of broad beans, for the freezer.

Looking forward to tennis this afternoon, still quite a few British in, including in the doubles.

Have a grand weekend everyone!

Wednesday 5 July 2017

Fixing a squeaking maxiclimber

I have been asked where we cleaned our maxiclimber to try and remove its annoying squeak, this is what we did. Most people seem to have returned theirs but we wanted to try cleaning it first. Should you chose to do the same and it doesn't work or you cause damage, don't blame me!

 See where the arrow is pointing:
When you lift up the pedal (on each side in turn), we found a black line on 2 sides and sometimes all 4 sides of this rounded square bar. It appears to be rubber/plastic deposits from a black roller further up, that allows the outer pedal bar to slide up and down over this inner bar.

We used a non scratch sponge pot cleaner and first of all used neat washing up liquid to scrub off said black marks. Then it was dried and using a soft cloth, rubbed the whole area from top to bottom with a light coating of WD40. This treatment was then repeated on the other pedal bar.

We found the squeak went away for about 2 weeks before reappearing, most annoying.

UPDATE FROM ORIGINAL POST: We now use just washing up liquid to clean away the marks, in the hope it might give less longterm damage than WD40.

Tuesday 4 July 2017

Having a laugh....

Our chiropractor is a very jolly lady who laughs a lot. Absolutely nothing embarrasses her and you can chat about anything, which we do. Whilst DB is being seen to you can here them both laughing and the same happens when I am being worked on.

We had an early light lunch in the nearest Dunelm store where I also purchased a new 9" square silicon baking tray and two flannel mittens. I don't normally use a flannel but am having some treatment at the moment which involves washing off cream before applying a new layer, so a flannel achieves this easier and more cleanly.

All the shrubs we bought for the front gravel garden are in and it is starting to look more how we want the next phase of it to look.

The dead clematis from near the oil tank has been removed and replaced by a goldheart ivy.

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Monday 3 July 2017

Up early...

Returning to bed after a bathroom break at 04:15 (for heavens sake), I got up at 05:30, having failed miserably to get back to sleep.

I have been sitting quietly in the front room as DB is fast asleep for a change. We have been busy putting in 10 new shrubs into the front gravel garden, 2 a day, and should finish either today or tomorrow. It is starting to look more how I envisioned.

We had the chance of centre court Wimbledon tickets today, but they would have cost £150, then train fare on top, food and drinks etc, we reckon would have cost more than £230, so declined. We would have seen Andy opening up the tournament, but hey ho, such is life!