Saturday, 27 January 2018

Satuday night takeaway

I don’t think so! Weather has been gloomy again. The OH and I have been in the motorhome warming it up and checking for damp etc. Usual boring stuff of laundry and cleaning had to be done. I decided we would have a curry for dinner. Not the takeaway kind. I had half a pack of diced chicken in the freezer. I had sweet potatoes that needed peeling and using up. Some tasteless budget tomatoes, an onion , stick of celery just becauseI had it in the fridge. I had a can of half fat coconut milk and some curry paste.
Chicken and onion in the pan first then add everything to bubble while slow cooker heats up. Into the slow cooker while I got on with other stuff.

At the end of cooking I added spinach and a good blob of yogurt. This yogurt is just one pound in Asda at the moment.

It tastes really good and lasts for ages. A sturdy recyclable container too that I have plans to re use. I did some oven chips for OH in my new best friend.

I bought this for the motorhome in Aldi back in the summer. It has been used in my kitchen ever since. It is a mini oven grill. It is extremely light and flimsy but excellent 
In the kitchen for small amounts when I can’t justify putting the main oven on. It was 20 pounds and money well spent. We enjoyed our curry and I opened this bottle which was given to me as a present for babysitting. 

It looks posher than it is. It’s just  prosecco. The bottle is lovely and I will keep it to 
Save my 5p pieces in. Cheers! Who needs to spend on a takeaway. This was minutes to prepare and was delicious.
1/2 pack Aldi diced Chicken
2 diced sweet potatoes.
1 red onion chopped
1 stick celery chopped
1 can half fat coconut milk
2 tomatoes chopped
2 heaped teaspoons of pataks curry paste. 
1 teaspoon of lazy garlic
2 cubes of frozen spinach
Chicken and onion in the pan first with glug of olive oil and splash of water. Add curry paste and everything else. Bubble for a few minutes and transfer to warmed slow cooker. Go away and enjoy later. Serve with rice , chips, blob of yogurt or whatever takes your fancy. We are watching the film Exotic Marigold Hotel on tv by the fire. It is really amusing. January can do one. I’m fed up with the gloom of it. 

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Sunshine food.

Sunshine? A few glimmers yesterday. I have been busy doing nanny duty looking after a 7 years old and 5 year old. The parents have had a trip of a lifetime to New York. They did and saw everything they could in 5 days. Not my cup of tea as I’m more of a quiet seaside person. The trip was inspired by sibling Steve. He had booked Christmas in New York with his partner. That didn’t happen of course. I divided Steves estate among his siblings. As he was a teacher his pension was a sizeable sum. Steve was very much a live for the moment person so my daughter wanted to spend some on a trip they would never be able to justify with a young family.
I felt suitably exhausted yesterday so very much in need of some healthy sunshine foods. While at other daughterss last week, she showed me the blog she had been following It is one pot, easy prep food with a Turkish twist. She has a face book page. I was thinking these were very frugal dinners for a young family and they look so delicious. Her one pot roast was chicken legs and a few veg. Just a glug of olive oil and a pinch of this and that makes a lovely meal out of very little.

This is her picture not mine. I am going to try her one tray curry tonight. I need to buy Garam masala but everything else I have.

I bought a lovely aubergine in Morrisons. It is huge and they are just 50p at the moment. I can’t copy and paste,  but it involves a tin of chick peas,  aubergine, Brown rice, veg stock cube and various spices all in my cupboard . The spinach is in my garden. Her recipes are mainly vegetarian lovely vibrant colours and all in one pot. I am inspired. She is a young working mum with Turkish origins. Obviously not living on the breadline  but nevertheless very good simple ingredients that don’t cost too much. As I see in my job lots of little ones with very poor diets it does my heart good to see that busy mums can achieve this healthy eating with minimum effort and money. 
I have a stock of frozen peppers, chillis, I even have tray frozen courgettes which are very acceptable in these type of recipes. I’m sure my efforts won’t look as good as hers but if they taste good that’s good enough for me.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Christmas get together

In December it snowed and was cancelled. Well today it snowed but not much.
We gathered in The Barringtons in a pub called the Fox Inn. It lies in the Windrush valley.

It looked dull and uninviting on this cold January day. Inside was more cheerful.
There is a huge mural that shows the windrush valley in Spring. 

It was good to be reminded of Spring today in the sleet and fog. The river looked too cold for a paddle as most of the Windrush is shallow enough to see the bottom. Too murky today. 

In the summer months it is pleasant to sit out and watch the river go by. I had Cotswold roast beef and Spiced Apple crumble for dessert. The weather  today certainly doesn’t do this place justice. It was lovely to see everyone but good to get home before the fog came down. Very drab pictures today but it would look completely different in a different season. Roll on Spring when the village greens and verges emerge in a sea of yellow daffodils.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018


I took a trip to the local Burford Garden Company. It was very quiet yesterday. The smells and sounds are very soothing when it is not busy. There was some jazz music softly in the background and there were scents of all kinds as you walked around the different areas.
The prices are ludicrous and only a few people can surely justify buying from here. I saw these Emma Bridgewater mugs at 25 pounds each.

Another thing I saw was some wall art. I went look at the price. The large one was unpriced  but the smaller ones were 100.00 pounds.

They were cards with letters on arranged to make words. Something like that could be easily done a home. The frames were not of great quality in my opinion. I decided to get creative later in the day in honour of Steve. I went in the local TOFS (The Original Factory Shop)where I bought some onion  sets for the garden and some seed potatoes for my tubs. I picked up a  frame in their sale for 1.99. I  had some black and white prints done at photobox recently and you get loads free of the standard sizes. The postage is usually a bit cheeky though,  so to make it worth it,  I got quite a few done with the intention of doing a scrap book with the grandchildren of Steve and his dancing. I picked out the following three of him at his work studio.

Voila! I love it. I think it is as arty as anything I saw yesterday at Burford. I put it in the hallway. 
I went to Burford Garden Centre for seed inspiration and after reading all the packets carefully I have decided on Brussel sprouts and Savoy cabbage for the winter greens along with spinach. I also fancy having a go at red and white cabbage for coleslaws. I will now visit a Poundstretcher when I am next going that way and buy the seeds there. I was very good at Burford yesterday  and my purse stayed shut. The Christmas Sale had things  at 70 % off but the prices were still more than I would pay. I enjoyed the stroll around. 

I picked theses tete a tete bulbs up from Morrisons at 50p  per pot. They looked a bit sorry for themselves so I have planted them in this old pot and here I have another Burfordesque style pot of bulbs. Similar to this at Burford  yesterday were 12 pounds.

When they have come on a bit in the sun roomI will take them up to Steves spot. I can hear him chuckling. “ Mum, you are such a cheapskate.” I am proud to be thrifty and it doesn’t mean I can’t have nice things. A bit of imagination is all you need.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Weekend treat.

We took a trip to see daughter no 2 and bundle of joy. Her hubby was away so we arrived to keep them company. Saturday we ventured out for a walk in Epping Forest. Where we went was a good path where we could push the pram. We had to clean the mud off the wheels later and our boots. It was lovely to get out though. Baby was awake the whole time looking and listening.
The ducks were making a real racket. There were beautiful vibrant colours.

We saw a fat robin sitting in the trees just watching and resting.
We didn’t see the sun all weekend. 
Yesterday we walked into town for a lunch treat. Daughter got a 40% off voucher for Cafe Rouge. We would rarely go anywhere like this. We had a table with space for the pram and a lovely lunch. I had a steak baguette. I also enjoyed a nice glass of wine.
Back to reality today. If  I get on well with my tasks I have promised myself a trip to Burford Garden Centre. Too expensive to buy anything but I want to get seed inspiration. I want to look and study their cabbage and brassica seeds. 

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Back to work

I haven’t worked since the 22nd December. It somehow feels so long ago. It is another bleak January morning and getting out the house seems a chore today. I have been in London with daughter 2 and small bundle of joy. He wasn’t a bundle of joy yesterday though as he had a really high temperature after his first immunisations. I will see him again soon for a cuddle.
I am walking to work. It is about 1.5 miles. I have some new uniform to wear and although I tried it on before the holidays the spare bit around my middle seems much too prominent. I tried really hard to be sensible over the holiday season but obviously not hard enough. I hope being more active at work will remove the sluggish January feeling. I am 56 and my body is migrating to the south.
I have never wanted to look like Barbie although I was a tiny waisted thing until I had twins. Things never looked the same again after that.
After work today I will do a vegetable and fruit shop in Aldi. Best foot forward and I will try and find my mojo. Nothing like working with little 2 and 3 year old little people to keep you active and entertained.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Thawing out the van

In the cold and damp weather we have had in the last few weeks we decided to hook up the 240v electric and get the heater on for a bit. Even the cushions feel cold. I couldn’t smell any signs of damp  and my sense of smell is particularly good.

I buy theses hanging sachets from Poundstretcher and since putting one in the wardrobe in August it has gathered moisture. They are not recyclable though so I will find an alternative when it is full. I noticed the dishwashing detergent has gone cloudy. Probably has been sub zero in here. The OH started theengine up and she started first time but with a blue cloud of diesel fumes.:( Nothing we can do about that one really. I hate the thought of polluting the environment but the emissions are well within the legal limit according to the MOT. OH said all vans do that when the engines are cold.
I got these plastic mirror stickers for 1.99 and they have covered the nasty chip marks in this door.

Likewise this teapot sticker for the same price covered a scar in the wall. My next project is to make a shelf with a bar across to house my tea/coffe/sugar tins.
I picked these up for a pound each in the charity shop. They are lightweight so ideal. They are better than what I have in my kitchen so was tempted to keep them indoors but the colour is good in the van.

This map is like a scratch card. You scratch off your destinations. We certainly have a lot of the UK to explore. This also covers up a damaged patch.
I need some compost to start some seeds going so will take the van for a run to warm up the engine a bit. While in our local b and q I will have a look for some paint so OH can start the living room.
I am thrilled that we have now somewhere nice to sit while the living room is in a muddle. I sit here often and I think Steve would like it that we have made the room a family space. The sofa bed has been used quite a bit over the Christmas period and the OH and I have appreciated a cosy spot to eat. The garden room only gets heated for visitors. When the sun was out yesterday it did reach a balmy 16 degrees for a while. Off to the garden centre now. It has started to sleet. It certainly feels like a cold January day. I’m wrapping up warm. Roll on th Spring!

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Plastic fantastic?

I went to do a food shop in Aldi today. I went to Aldi because I want to shop as cheaply as I can. Success. I got everything I needed and stayed within my budget. While I was putting the shopping away I had a feeling of overwhelming disappointment. I was listening to Jeremy Vine on radio 2 debating the plastic recycling crisis facing th UK. China has pulled out of taking a quarter of our waste to deal with. However, we are still buying over packaged, Chinese, cheap goods. I wouldn’t mind betting that much of the plastic used  by Chinese manufacturers is not easily recyclable. Today I could not recycle any of the plastic my fruit and veg was packed in . I understand the science and that different types of plastic don’t mix and therefore cannot be recycled easily. I can only imagine that non recyclable packaging is the cheapest option for our supermarkets and helps to keep the costs down.  It is a vicious circle then. Our local greengrocer has gone, not being able to cope with an Asda and Aldi within striking distance.  I hope the government are concerned enough to act upon this problem swiftly. We as a country have accepted reusable plastic shopping bags. I have washed mine out today. They are drying in the sun room as I fear the wind would have taken them if hung outside. I would like to vote with my feet and not buy anything with unrecyclable packaging. I can’t afford to do this as I live far away from large towns. Unless I get in my car and burn fuel I am stuck with what is on offer to me around here.
Today I have been seed sorting. I am more determined than ever to use every tiny bit of growing space to grow my food. I am sad that the UK is in this packaging pickle and hope we can turn things around for a better future.

Monday, 1 January 2018

2018 getting back on track.

My best Christmas gift. A gardening magazine and free seeds. 
It is pouring with rain and I am looking out on the veg plot and trying to plan. I have been a trial and error gardener and now know what works on this plot. I have tried really hard with carrots and root veg but I don’t think my soil is right. I am planning a raised bed for these this year. Potatoes will be in tubs as I have a limited space. I did enjoy the potatoes but for what I harvested, I used a lot of plot space. I will try again with a brassica bed and make a frame to keep it covered away from nibblers and pests. I have enjoyed many successes so I’m not disheartened. I still have runner beans in the freezer. The courgettes were never ending. I enjoyed fresh raspberries until the last week of November. I will try for more winter vegetables this year. The homemade compost has been a success as yield was good for the successful plants. I prefer not to use chemical fertilisers. My new greenhouse has been great. If anything it was a little too warm at times. I will invest in some decent greenhouse mesh for the hotter months.
We hope to enjoy some trips in the van. We are planning short trips throughout the year and to be as spontaneous as we can. This isn’t possible in peak weeks but I want to have the freedom to go whenever it is convenient and of course, if we can afford to.
To make sure we can afford to, We will stick to our simple lifestyle choices. If we don’t need it we won’t buy it. If I work extra then that money will be saved. We will continue making and mending. Cooking from scratch and careful shopping all helps swell the leisure money pot. When I say leisure that will be diesel for the van, site fees and food in the van cupboards and fridge. All we need then is good health, good walking shoes and we can enjoy this beautiful country.
At home I would like to revamp the lounge as cheaply as I can. A “lady” shed in the garden would be nice but we will have to see what funds will allow. So many plans. Plans are good but taking life a bit at a time is also good as sometimes plans change. That’s enough plans for now. It has stopped raining and I feel an urge to get my coat on and get out. A lot of comfort food has been consumed and I need to get rid of my extra wobbly bits.