Thursday 30 November 2017

All day...

I have been thinking it is Friday!

Not as cold for us overnight as predicted but boy, is it making up for it now. Strong winds, very cold and occasional sleet snow showers. We think the heavier snow showers have passed us by.

We have spent most of the day indoors apart from a quick scurry around to the post office to post letters and buy stamps.

We have just finished writing Christmas cards out and will post them tomorrow. Keep warm everyone here.

Wednesday 29 November 2017


For this, our third successive combined medical/shopping visit to Dunelm in Wisbech, it was apparent, that things have deteriorated in one area, visit on visit. This one was by far the most memorable, but for all the wrong reasons.

We arrived in the Pausa cafe at 12:40 and had sat down with coffee by 12:50, waiting for our meal. No one was in the queue in front of us so we mistakenly thought we would get our jacket potato and soup reasonably quickly.

Behind the counter however, was just one poor girl, taking orders, making the coffee, then fulfilling the orders. Chaos rapidly ensued! There was a young chap clearing tables, his first day, who was falling behind doing that, as she had to keep asking him to help then spending time telling him what to do.

DB received his meal at 13:15, having watched people arrive after us, getting their meals before either of us. He also went to the till to mention about my soup. By 13:30 no soup and by now, yet more people were getting served who had just walked in. Finally, two other people arrived to help (one possibly management), so I went to complain.

Not only was I hungry, but I now had severe  indigestion and was incensed. I didn't want to take it out on her but when asked if all was well, filled her in, as politely as possible, about what had occured.

I received an apology, was informed about staff shortages (not my problem), training 1/2 day (again, not my problem) quick turnaround of staff due to university and college recruits being taken on/leaving, (even more not my problem). I told her what a trojan the poor girl was, coping on her own, behind the counter and didn't wish to complain about her.

I informed her that I was now so mad and very hungry and was now leaving, no, I didn't want my soup (which still had not been dealt with). She offered to give me a refund and could I have the till receipt. No, she couldn't because we hadn't been given one:(

A few minutes later she came to the table and refunded us for my soup and also DB for his jacket potato - a nice gesture. We thanked her and left. In the end I had to find a supermarket to get something cold to eat on the way home.

I hope to complain officially, but after trying to do it online, they wanted so much information, after which, they then promise to get back to me within 72 hours - say what!

Don't hold your breath!

Tuesday 28 November 2017

Bring me sunshine....

It’s amazing how a bit of sunshine lifts the spirit, especially in late Autumn/Winter. Today is cold but glorious after a few days of depressing dullness. The next few days for us are very cold, wet and windy.

I shan’t be looking forward to our walk later this week. Good job we love soup, that will help. We are currently working our way through potato, leek and bacon and then mushroom soup will follow.

I learnt a new tip this week regarding oversalting something. Normally the first mentioned soup is fine, but this time I did it in the pressure cooker and it was way too salty. Checking online, a whole chopped potato cooked in it for 15 minutes then discarded or a teaspoon of vinegar added should help. Didn’t want to waste a potato so used vinegar and it worked.

Whilst we were still eating a tad too much salt, the salty taste was quite well neutralised by the vinegar. Who knew!

Monday 27 November 2017

Using some of the leftover squares

Welcome to Tree via Bloglovin.

I decided to make myself a winter walking hat - almost finished:
Tassle and pink edge to rim:

It took 4 pullouts and rethinks, before I got it how I wanted it but boy, does it keep your head warm. Looks a bit like a tea cozy:)

Still got some squares leftover!

Saturday 25 November 2017

Davis Cup Tennis Final updated

In case you didn’t know, and have broadband, BBC sport is broadcasting this event online. We are rooting for Belgium as besides the Murray brothers, we also follow David Goffin.

Belgiun lost, not surprising, as the French team had far higher numbered seeds.

However, David won both his matches, well done him.

Friday 24 November 2017

Finished ... I think!

I have added a single ruffle all the way around my jerkin - to change it from this:
To this:
And this:
Better I think. I am trying to decide whether to leave it at a single ruffle or just double the width of the ruffle up to front to make it come closer together at the front.

At least it keeps my back nice and warm. Have a grand weekend everyone!

Thursday 23 November 2017

Piccalilli and rain

Goodness me, that was some heavy rain in the early hours of the morning, absolute cloudburst! It is still very windy here but slowling down a little. I might be able to keep the washing on the line.

Thanks for all your interesting comments regarding division of labour in and around the home.

I am a little late making a half batch of piccalilli for this year and with the price of food rising, it wasn't as cheap as normal but we like it.

Vegetables used were carrots, cauliflower, courgette, onion, red pepper, green pepper, radish and mini sweetcorn. Here they are steeping in salt overnight:
I used Pam's piccalilli recipe (you can find it on my recipe tab above. Had to change the link as the old one didn't work). I always adjust it to our tastes. Here are the finished jars:
Two for presents, the rest for us.

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Division of labour....

How do you divvy up your household chores (if indeed you do)?

DB does a snack for us on the evening of our walking day as well as our Friday night chip tea. He also does most of the ironing and cleans by hand, under the rim of the toilet once a month to clear it of limescale. He also does most of the hoovering and lays the fire everyday and cleans away the ashes when needed as well as cleaning the glass on the front of the woodburner. I clean the chimney.

He will tackle any chore I set him in the garden, then does other household fixing/cleaning jobs as and when needed (pavements, weeding the gravel, cleaning out the gutters etc). He likes to keep himself busy!

I do most of the gardening, cooking and baking. Washing of clothes is done by me as well as cleaning the windows (most of the time). I generally do the dusting but not always and clean the bathroom and kitchen. He washes the pots and I dry. We both do the food shopping and putting it away.

Quite a nice division of chores methinks. He may tackle slightly more than me but I have a bit of joint discomfort which is why he tackles a few more of the heavier jobs. He is a good egg!

Tuesday 21 November 2017

I'm still having a little trouble....

Getting back to grips with normal as opposed to gluten free pastry. To be honest, I think I prefer GF so may revert back. Anyway, I thought I had rolled some out thinly enough to make some mincemeat maids of honour:
I do use a little S.R. flour in my pastry to lighten its texture so maybe I overdid it as they 'rose' a little too much. Also, the almond mixture recipe is clearly designed for 12 small pies whereas these are deep versions so only a little topping for 10 then I ran out. I have written that on the recipe for next time.

Mind you, they taste fine so that is good - phew.

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Monday 20 November 2017

The weekly loaf...

First of all, thanks to everyone for getting in touch about my last post. I was well and truly down. Feeling a little better now and one or two things have been said and acknowledged which have helped.

Having been given a silicon loaf pan for a present, I wasn't at all sure it would work with bread - well, I was wrong. Here it is fresh from the oven:
It came out easily and when knocked, had a lovely sound and was brown and crisp around its base. Once sliced, it looked like this:
The black specks are nigella seeds.

Friday 17 November 2017

It's official...

I must be a ghost! I feel as though I am fading into insignificance, with no role to play in life. A bit like a train wandering aimlessly on never-ending tracks, calling in at a friends station, or a role playing station, but no-one gets on.

Maybe its a return of the empty nest syndrome, but that happened long ago - didn't it?

I had an interesting chat with my hairdresser the other day, when she came to cut my hair.

She was saying why, when she is a good person, and would go to the end of the earth to help people out, is she without really good friends and few good acquaintances? I thoroughly understood where she was coming from and told her so.

When we first moved here, I had one or two really good acquaintances who went on to become very good friends. The kind you could talk to about anything and we would all try and help, even it it was just listening. We didn't get in each others way or become a nuisance to each other by over-visiting, but would meet for a coffee, cake, and chat to sort ourselves out.

Jobs and university courses got started, one moved away, grandchildren began to arrive for another, a new partner for the other and before you knew it, we had drifted apart. It was me that kept in touch, occasionally asking to meet for a coffee until in the end, I gave up asking, in the mistaken belief that I would be missed and they may get in touch for a meet up.

Several years passed and intermittently, I would again get in touch, we would meet up once or twice, and then it would all revert to me 'doing the chasing' once again, so I gave up - again.

Like my hairdresser, I consider myself a good egg, willing to compromise and help where possible, but just where does being a compromising good egg get you - trampled on I reckon, by those who should know better, who probably believe, that because you don't protest, it must be okay to keep messing you around, falling in and out of touch or not being in touch enough!


Whilst being willing to compromise to the nth degree, when and where possible, that doesn't mean I don't mind or feel deeply hurt by having to do it constantly.

Frankly, I am getting to the 'self preservation' stage, where it would be all too easy to either sever ties completely (feels like cutting off my nose to spite my face) or telling people what I REALLY think of their constant thoughtlessness (and risk making the situation worse).

One thing is for sure though, something has to change, because I can't keep allowing these situations to go on, feeling so incredibly sad about them and feeling useless into the bargain, without a role to play.

I might still have another 20 - 30 years to live, but frankly, at the moment, I feel I would be existing rather than living them!

Hairdresser feels the same - it is at times a sad and lonely world don't you think? Therefore, I have reached the conclusion that I must be a ghost - simply invisible.

Thursday 16 November 2017

Through the front and side window...

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We have done yet more cutting back in the front gravel garden and at last, it is beginning to look a lot neater. We just need a few really cold days for it to stop growing:
I have now autumn/winter pruned the roses more than once!

The neighbour has finally changed half his fence between our dining room and them. It went from a tatty very old fence to this as he removed half the panels:
To this:
It is tall and bright tan but oddly enough, seems to throw more light into our dining room so for the moment, we won't be painting it.

He was going to do the whole job himself but we kept telling him, he really wouldn't be able to manage. There is a huge difference between putting in wooden posts and attaching panels to them, as opposed to holding concrete posts in the correct place, leaving them to set, before lifting the panels skyward to insert them.

Just the other half to do then we will be 'shut back in' again.

Wednesday 15 November 2017

Pootling around....

Just been to 3 different shopping/gardening centres to find some items for us and a present. All found thank goodness, so 4 ticks off the list.

Had a lovely jacket potato for our lunch with a topping of bacon, mushroom and cheese! Home now to our first cup of tea since breakfast.

Tuesday 14 November 2017

Blue Air Crochet...

I am at the penultimate stage of my granny square jerkin and my, at times, has the air been a bit on the blue side.

I thought I had worked out what size it needed to be and how many squares to crochet. They were all joined together and neatly edged around all outside edges. Then I tried it on again and disaster, it was all bulging and hanging outwards, especially under and around the armholes.

It was unpicked and one whole section of 3 squares under each armhole removed, stitched back up and is now a lot better:

Both front sections now match which they didn't previously but the end result of the removal of two panels worth of squares is that there is not quite enough front to it. Searching around on the good old internet, I think I have found a solution (another new technique) and if I can pull it off, will show the end result on here. Wish me luck!

Monday 13 November 2017

Make it up pudding - GF as it turned out!

We both enjoy pumpkin pie and in my winter box from last year, was a can of cooked pumpkin (I had mistakenly thought it was pumpkin pie filling). I didn't want to use pastry so had a rummage around in the fridge to see what I could use to make up a pudding as I didn't have everything I needed.

The can was emptied into a bowl, (or 1lb cooked pumpkin) and 1/2 tsp each of cinnamon, ginger and mixed spice added to the bowl. Then about a 1/3rd of a tub of mascapone cream cheese was added along with 2oz of dark brown sugar. After testing for sweetness, this was fine for us, but you could add another 1oz if you wish.

Two beaten eggs were blended in and the mixture poured into a greased dish:
 and it was baked for 35 - 40 minutes at 190C until it was just set:
We had a 1/4 each with some stewed plums and really enjoyed it. Yes it lacked the zest and juice of an orange and lemon as per the original recipe but was very nice as it was.

I also reckon that if you slowly cooked the pumpkin puree with the sugar and spices, left out the eggs and then when cold, layered it with whipped cream into glasses, it would also be lovely.

Saturday 11 November 2017

Even though....

We are spending another Christmas on our own, that doesn’t stop me making a few festive items for us and family when they visit later on. Today, I made a half batch of Delia Smith’s Christmas mincemeat but dropped the sugar down to 4oz rather than 6oz.

The kitchen smells wonderful as it sits cooling down, allowing the melted fat to coat the apple which seems to stop it fermenting. It easily stores from one Christmas to the next so there is no need to rush to use it. We find shop bought mincemeat far too sweet and sickly.

Next some piccalilli and marmalade methinks!

I was looking forward to watching Jamie in the doubles at the atp but the BBC tend to only show the singles matches (no Andy this year but we also follow Goffin). We have subscribed to t-n-is tv to watch it. All 30 matches for a few pounds, not too bad at all.

Have a lovely weekend folks.

Thursday 9 November 2017

Winter weather predictions...

Once again, the newspapers are predicting very cold and prolonged snowy weather for winter. Most years they are incorrect. However, just in case that happened, for those of us without close access to shops, what would you put by, either in your freezer (hoping for no long power cuts) or cupboards?

My freezers have enough in them to give us a few meals and or puddings. The store cupboard has enough for light meals, hots snacks etc.

I think our alltime go to would be soup, both for snacks and main meals. So with that in mind, and the possibility of needing to cook on a camping gas stove, herewith some things I am never without:

Lentils, dried peas/beans (thermal cooker as it requires no power once the gas stove has begun cooking them), tinned peas, beans, tomatoes, vegetables, rice, pasta, flours (dumplings would fill us up and quick bread making/drop scones, that could be done on the gas stove), items for puddings such as tinned milk, rice in all forms (thermal cooker again), tinned fruit amongst other items, a cake and some biscuits, crackers, butter (fridge) and oats.

There are probably more items I could name but what about you. When DS was born and the day after we came home, our village was cut off for a whole week. The local post office store ran out of most food in two days with panic buying going on. Luckily for us DB had done a major shop before DS and I came home so apart from bread, we were okay for us and him. We had no idea how long it would be before we were reached by the highway agencies.

That has never left me and whilst no such bad winters have hit that hard again, I like to be prepared, especially if the power cuts are for a long time and we lose the freezer food.

Wednesday 8 November 2017

Stretching a cheap meal even further...

First of all though, congratulations to Andy and Kim Murray on the birth of your daughter this morning! Great to see you playing in your charity match last night. Keep getting that hip better.

One of the cheapest meals I make is  a mushroom one. It could be curry, chilli, bolagnaise, goulash or in a sour cream sauce. The main 'expence' is mushrooms and onions, followed by a bit of chilli, curry paste or said cream, sometimes a little Quorn gets added as well.

Yesterday, I wanted to stretch a meal further. I realised that this is a 5 week shopping month and I had only allowed money for 4 weeks. Yes, I could use an extra weeks money but reckon if I stretch some of the meals, like this one, there will be no need.

Using 1 punnet of mushrooms (special Lidl deal 69p), 1 onion, 2 tablespoons curry paste, 1 tablespoon tomato puree, 1 tin butter beans, 1 stock cube and a little coconut milk powder, I made this:
We had one plate each and this much was left over for another day:
Including the rice, it came to about £2 for 4 meals, so 50p per person per meal. Not too bad at all!

I did the same with tomatillo chicken the next night and vegetable bolognese sauce last night, an extra three meals in the freezer without really thinking too much about it.

Tuesday 7 November 2017

I picked...

These last few flowers from my garden before the predicted first seasonal frost arrived:
As it happens, the predicted temperature was 4C but despite getting down to 1.5C, we had no frost. The next night we did, -1.5C.

I don’t think I have seen lavender re-flowering, nor roses or snap dragons flowering non-stop, for quite a few years. Whilst it is amazing, it does indicate a shift in the seasons and temperatures rising slightly, later in the year. The orange rose, Abraham Derby still smells heavenly but the lavender has no smell. Not surprising really when it needs the hot sun to release its oils. Still pretty though.

Unless things change this year, we won’t have had a good session of snow for quite a few years!

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Monday 6 November 2017

Braving the shave...

My DDiL braved the shave last week, along with countless others no doubt. She went from almost waist length hair to a very short crew cut (a number 1 I think on the shears).

She was raising funds for Macmillan who nursed her father before he died earlier this year. She wanted to raise £1000 but raised 2 1/2 times that amount including gift aid.

Well done darling!

We had our first light frost last night, -1.5C. Slightly warmer nights though for this week predicted.

Friday 3 November 2017

Menu plan update

The shopping for yesterdays meal plan came to a total of £31.11 minus the £7 for glue that DB purchased - so a grand total of £24.11 for the weeks food:
Lunch out has been cancelled so a meal from the freezer will be used for that date.

Herewith a selection of meals we will be eating for the rest of the month:

Bratwurst, Fish or Egg and chips, Macaroni Cheese, Roast Pork, Quorn Curry, Quiche, Homemade faggots, Liver & Bacon, Chicken Goujons, Vegetable chilli, vegetable curry, sausages, mushroom stroganoff, mushroom goulash, cauliflower cheese, jacket potatoes.

I just had some sad person (advertising young women for sex) try to follow me, they have and although I can't get rid of them, will delete all content from them.

Have a nice weekend everyone.

Thursday 2 November 2017


One of the things I have found most useful in helping to keep down food shopping, is menu planning.

I currently operate a printable 5 week evening menu plan. As each week finishes, it gets cut off the sheet. The plan operates alongside our outdoor and indoor freezer checklists. That way, I know what we have, where it is, what I need to make to stock up freezers and if money is tight one week, evening meals for a week can be taken from these freezers.

Our menu for the week to come is this:
A * donates the whole or most of the meal from the freezers.

Everything we need for our breakfasts for the above week we already have apart from the yoghurt and some of the fruit on the shopping list element of the menu. Lunch is usually soup which I make up from the list or freezer. Evening meals are what you see here.

I try, when possible, to buy a few extra items each week for my store cupboard. This week it is the butter beans, sugar (for marmalade), Mandarins, Almonds and Walnuts. Seems a lot but I have money to spare for these extra items leftover from other weeks. Some weeks, I may buy nothing or only one item. Sometimes, I buy one item for Christmas etc.

Once I have been shopping I will let you know how much it cost. Even if it is over my usual weekly allowance, I will make that up further into the month when I can bring in more meals from the freezers.

Wednesday 1 November 2017

All gone!

Our visitors and dogs have left and we are back to just we two! It was so lovely to see them all, can’t beat a good hug from both humans and dogs.

The dogs loved their biscuits and the gluten free and ‘sugar’ free crumble, for one, went down a treat. The flour was exchanged for gf and then a tablespoon of maple syrup ‘forked’ into it to create a slight crumble effect. Instead of using fruit that needed sugar, I finely diced them an apple and pear and tossed those in a little plum juice for extra flavour.

We had a good long walk, ate, chatted and played Pandemic Legacy. We lost both games, darn, that game is very good at holding its own!

Lit the wood burner for its first proper burn on Saturday as it was decidedly chilly on one evening. Methinks it will be needed this weekend as the night temperatures here are going to be around 3 C.