being thrifty, fEAsting, food shopping, getting things done, hEAlth, healthy eating, managEAble, meal planning, trEAsury

a relatively good start…

With menu in hand I completed my Sainsbury’s shop last night after work and felt quite pleased with myself, especially as I limited myself to a hot chocolate without a little snack (I would usually have a scone to keep me going).  Even though I was aiming to buy seasonal British grown produce I noticed the  cabbage was actually grown in Spain!  My trolley was mainly vegetables with a couple of loaves of bread and a few groceries – the ones we were running out of and one or two on offer.  My total bill came to £32.21 for the week – so I am quite pleased with that especially as we are eating better than when I spend a lot more!

shopping

This was all the fresh veg that I needed to add to the bits and pieces in the fridge to make my selected weeks menus.  The cheapest item was the Kiwi fruit at 30p and the dearest the dozen mixed sizes free range organic eggs at £3.70.  I need five for the Spiced Chickpea bakes and the remainder will carry over for next week.  The herbs were on offer and I will be able to freeze what I don’t use.  In the end I decided to buy a ready pack of Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato for £1.

Fresh Veg

Last night we had the Mushroom Stroganoff unfortunately when hubby made it he forgot he was making Stroganoff not risotto and mixed the rice into the mushroom mixture – but in the end it tasted the same!  Tonight we had the veggie stew with roasted chickpeas and butter beans a good warming winter dish – we both enjoyed the new recipe but perhaps the sweet potato and butternut squash made it a little too sweet for me so I would need to make slight adjustments next time.  The other draw back is it does not make enough for 2 meals – the leftover portion will however do for my lunch.  I will have to think of something to fill the empty slot for our tea tomorrow or move everything forward a meal.

Whilst in Sainsbury’s last night I had some returns – I had bought a snuggly throw for the bed at the caravan to keep us warm overnight.  It was a knitted cream blanket with an acrylic sheepskin style underside.  I never thought to check the washing instructions when I purchased it and was rather shocked to find it was not washable.  When I found the receipt to take it back I noticed I had been charged twice for this item.   As it was part of my weekly shop at the time I had not thought too much about my bill seeming a bit dearer than normal and had not checked the receipt afterwards.

So when I asked for a refund of the throw I had bought  I mentioned to the lady at Customer Services about being charged twice and confirmed that I had only bought one – after a bit of a quiet moment and a few umm’s and argh’s she agreed to refund me the money for both.  I thought this was very good of them as I had no way to prove I had not bought two at the time.  So well done Sainsburys for the goodwill gesture – but I will be checking my receipts more throughly in future.

We are certainly getting back into a routine again, all though we are well into January now, and a few of those stubborn little tasks are being crossed off the list.  I booked the car in for the MOT and service on Friday  and made a dentist appointment for the same morning. 

 I am not sure if the car or my teeth will require any major repairs – I hope not as I need to make economies in all areas of my spending.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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being thrifty, fEAsting, hEAlth, healthy eating, meal planning, sEAsons, trEAsury

menu plan monday…

It is definitely that time of year when every magazine you look at has eye-catching headlines such as ‘Best Year ever’,  ‘Your time to shine’,  Make 2017 your year of change’  – I can never decide whether this is motivating or suggests that we are lacking a certain amount of satisfaction with our lives and are left wanting more or different.

The start of the New Year does seem to bring with it a desire to change many aspects of our life that we are disappointed with and of course we all begin with such good intentions but often by the time we are midway through February we have slipped back into our old habits and the resolutions we made become a distant memory.

If I were to make a list of all the things I would like to change it would be so long I wouldn’t have a hope of fulfilling them all this or any other year.  So then I start wondering why I want to change and I can only say to try to make my life feel better – less stressful – more as I imagine it could be – certainly happier, healthier, perhaps a little wealthier – plenty of me time, family time – a well run house, a glorious garden and even some room for creativity.  Of course I then have to wonder why on earth I am not already living this perfect life!

However, in my Economy mode I am whizzing straight past all the magazines with such appealing headlines – I already have a subscription to Country Living magazine (Xmas present) so for as long as I can hold out that is my lot.

This month I am concentrating on compiling Menu plans – mainly for our evening meal at present and then I will deal with my lunches later so I don’t make things too difficult for myself all at once.  I am aiming for low-cost, no waste, nutritional meals using seasonal fruit and veg as much as possible and also using up items from my store cupboard, fridge and freezer.  See the list here.

I have laminated my Good Food – Get 5-a-day every day chart of seasonal winter fruit and veg – this tells me all the British grown fruit and veg and also those items from further afield that are in season and therefore should not be too expensive.  Blueberries and Strawberries are not on the list so I will use up any frozen berries to go with my natural yoghurt for breakfast.

 

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My menu plan this week uses up a few items already in my stock cupboard but most of the veg I will have to buy fresh as I only have celery, carrots and onions left over together with some rather soft radish and a bit of dubious broccoli.

The sprouts, parsnip, leeks, cabbage and beetroot are all in season and British, the Sweet potato is also in season although not grown here.

The items not listed as seasonal are broccoli, green beans and mushrooms.

I am introducing 3 new recipes this week –

  • Vegetable Stew (substituting Sweet potato for the Butternut squash – this will also use up the remaining leek from the Stroganoff on Tuesday).
  • Spiced Chickpea bakes
  • Herby Brown Rice Salad

From my choice of fruit and veg I am told that I will be enhancing my Beta – carotene intake effective against viruses and bacteria, Vitamin C  for my immune system and phytochemical that help the digestive system.

I am looking forward to making the new recipes – if they pass the taste test then I will put them into my recipe binder – if not they will go straight in the bin so I am not keeping recipes that I will never make again.  Any modifications I will add notes to the recipe for next time.

I will be going shopping tomorrow night so will then know just how economical my shop is (or not!) in financial terms – bearing in mind the cold weather a warming Vegetable Stew sounds just right this week.

Have a good week.

 

 

 

 

beach cottage, bEAching, drEAming, general chit chat, hEAlth, wellbeing

life at the moment…

I hesitate to write this post as I wish it could be more cheery – but unfortunately my life at the moment is all at sea and I do not seem to be able to recover from one blow before the next one happens.  But for the sake of documenting everything in my blog I feel I have to mention both the good and the ‘not so good’ even if at present it seems a bit weighted towards the not so good!

I am actually writing this from my sick-bed – yes my ‘wellbeing’ is not improving as I intended this year.  So far I have been out of action since Wednesday evening when I got home from work.  I haven’t seen a doctor but I am pretty sure the diagnosis would be tonsilitis or Strep throat (which I understand is the bacterial form).  My glands are so swollen I look a bit like I have mumps.  In some ways I quite like the plumpness as it smooths out the wrinkles!

The upside is I have enjoyed snuggling down under the weight of the extra covers and falling into a long blissful sleep knowing that I am of no use to anyone at the moment – and no doubt I have lost quite a bit of weight because the constant nausea and painful throat have prevented any food passing my lips!

So while I am out of action I thought this is a good time to catch up with my blog and write a long overdue update.

On the family front –

The funeral of my mum-in-law took place on 4th February, ironically the same day as my dear dad died 9 years before – so it was a doubly hard day to get through but I had lots of precious memories to console me.  It was well attended by family and friends who came to pay their last respects and after the crematorium we had a lovely service of remembrance of her life in the church she had worshipped at for many years, singing her favourite hymns and followed by a good cup of tea and a buffet lunch in the church hall.  She would have approved I am sure. It may well be the last time we visit Shrewsbury and I am sad about that – it is a beautiful place.

                                                   Jenny

My Mum-in-law 1924-2015

– some of my favourite pictures of her in her younger days

My younger daughter had her operation to remove 3 wisdom teeth under general anaesthetic just days before the funeral and I travelled up to North Yorkshire to stay while she went into hospital.  I went to look after baby L for a whole day by myself – heaven!  Both are recovering well after their ordeal – my daughter and baby L!

Baby L

My elder daughter and her partner are still with us – still trying to complete their kitchen – but it is a slow job, the main reason being that the guy hired to do the job had to move on to his next job after Christmas before finishing theirs and ours (remember our bathroom – still not complete either) so he can only work on their kitchen on a weekend.  Tricky position – he is a friend!!  It is difficult though having them stay whilst we have only one bathroom operational and the house is full of our cottage contents.

That leads me on to the cottage flood progress report –

Cottage Kitchen Strip-out

The kitchen – now without units and flooring

Bathroom Strip-out

The bathroom without any conveniences or flooring!

All went well with the strip out although as the photos show it looks pretty dire to me and at the beginning of December we were called up to Scotland for a site inspection and to discuss the reinstatement works of each room.  We progressed around the cottage ending up in the old wooden conservatory.  This had now been stripped of the pine boards cladding the inside –  it was at this point that we noticed a few jagged remains of a material,  which we have since had tested and confirmed as asbestos sheet, lodged between the outer and inner frame.  So now as it is classed as an ‘elf and safety’ hazard no one, not even us, are allowed to go to the cottage as the whole conservatory has to be removed by men in white suits before the drying out and reinstatement can begin.

We also received the oil boiler report and it appears that the oil tank outside feeding the boiler probably moved during the flood and has caused a leak in the feed pipe – the worst thing is we had just had a delivery prior to the flood.  If it is not a leak then we can only assume the lack of oil to be able to test the boiler is maybe due to theft which is a pretty common occurrence where you have an abundance of oil tanks in an area.

I finally finished the contents list but on doing so realised I had not been correctly advised.  It turns out that they require the price for us to buy new items – I was led to believe they wanted the price we paid with evidence so I spent hours trawling through my box of receipts.  Now I will have to spend hours trawling the internet.  Nothing like doing a job twice!

And finally a word about work –

After a lot of thought recently I came to the conclusion that work was just not working.  I am feeling very tired and extremely stressed.  I had been looking to decrease my hours and this has not happened due to two things – my colleagues long-term sick leave and the powers that be – the management – deciding that it was a good idea to hire someone who is commuting from Cornwall, a distance of 350 miles, to help out – really?

This has turned out to be a bit of a disaster for me and increasingly difficult for the person concerned.  In fact his wife wants him to stop coming but secretly I believe he quite likes escaping up here for a week or two.  However, the week on week off agreed at the start soon turned in to one week on two off and even this has not really worked out due to commitments in Cornwall with his business there.  The ‘help’ is fast becoming occasional and spasmodic.  This has meant I have had to go in to work on both Saturday and Sunday for the last few weekends just to keep on top of the urgent work.

This is definitely not what I want to do – so I had made up my mind to leave and out of generosity or loyalty even said I would look at working until the end of May.  Once I made this decision and announced it to my line manager I felt heaps better and even though it seemed tremendously risky (and there is no way you could call me a risk taker) as I have no other job lined up I had settled my mind to it and whatever happens in the future cannot be as bad as I am experiencing at the moment.

Well that was on Tuesday.

On Wednesday my line manager called me in and asked if I would stay if things were improved in some way.

Well that was unexpected and has put a spanner in the works.

I won’t say anymore at the moment – you never know who is reading do you!!

Now to the good news – yes really… I do have a silver lining.

We get a new conservatory paid for on the insurance – I am not sure how I feel about this as I loved the shabby chic 50’s style of the old one but it would not have lasted for ever.cropped-cottage-gutters.jpg

Baby L is to be christened in March on the 15th – Mothers Day – a double celebration.  I have been preparing the dress – an old family heirloom – just hoping she doesn’t grow much more in the next few weeks LOL.

Baby L with trifle

Well that is all my news to date have a good week everyone.

PS – As I wrote most of this yesterday and finished it today I am in fact now feeling loads better.

drEAming, fEAsible, my goals, random thoughts, taking stock, wellbeing

A new journey…

I know I am a little late in saying this but…

Happy New Year 2015

 

After a long and sometimes difficult year I was quite glad to say goodbye to 2014 and welcome the new year – a fresh start and a new journey – below is a quick photo reminder from some of my posts last year which include one or two of the more memorable moments.

2014 in pictures

 

However, only a few days into 2015 we received a phone call from the care home where my mum in law lived to say mum was in A&E after being resuscitated from a choking incident.  Sadly she never regained any consciousness and died a few days later only days away from her 91st birthday.  Such a sad end – but her quality of life had not been good for the past 6 months with the worsening of her dementia and the Parkinson’s so in a way it was a blessing for her that she slipped away peacefully to a long earned rest.

Just before this drama occurred I had begun writing this post and thinking about what I might do this year as I pictured a whole new year stretching out in front of me – quite unblemished, as it was then, like a fresh fall of snow before any footprints appear.

I began by thinking about my focus word for the year – last year it was Focus and for the early part of the year this kept me on track, but as the year went by my Focus changed not surprisingly when we experienced the flood.  The impact that has had on our lives together with my colleague being off work ill has been tremendous.  Now I feel I need to get back on track, sort myself out and turn my dream of a simple and healthier life into reality.

After much deliberation over words I have finally chosen Wellbeing – I believe this encompasses all I want to achieve this year.

I wasn’t too sure exactly what came under the umbrella of wellbeing so I started with the dictionary definition

well-being or wellbeing
noun
a contented state of being happy and healthy and prosperous

Of course I had to go and choose a word that had alternative spellings and after checking up on the difference I have chosen to go without the hyphen – this is the more modern interpretation as wellbeing is becoming a recognised term in its own right and I am told the hyphen will eventually be dropped just as similar ‘brought together’ words have in the past – I am just helping to accelerate that transition – so I apologise to any traditionalists that may be reading this!

My choice of Wellbeing is not because I feel really unhappy, unhealthy or lacking but the state of good health is not just the absence of disease – well not in my mind anyway.  If anything this last year has been quite a roller coaster from start to finish even the most positive of events – becoming 60 and a grandma within a couple of weeks was equally as stressful and emotionally challenging as becoming homeless due to the flood!

I have read that by taking care of what is important in one area can make life easier in another. Likewise, neglecting one area can negatively affect another. It is all about keeping life in balance – so I will be putting this to the test.

The areas that I will be looking to bring into balance are probably the same for most people who work and run a home

  • Personal & Leisure & Family – taking care of myself and allowing time for myself to enjoy my day-to-day life as well as spending time with friends and my family – it will take into account my hobbies and things I like doing recreationally – maybe starting new ones who knows!
  • Home – this is how I will deal with all the management of the house – housekeeping – decorating – gardening – general upkeep
  • Health – the goal here is to become healthier both physically and mentally and will include exercising – meal planning and putting to right any niggling health issues
  • Work – I think this speaks for itself – I definitely need to find an answer to reduce the long hours I have been forced into doing
  • Finances – this area had plenty of focus last January but is ready for another minor overhaul

In addition I want to take steps to slow down, where possible the pace of my life, and make it simpler so that I am able to live the moment and enjoy the day and not feel quite so guilty when I find I am doing one thing instead of dealing with another.

So there we are Project Wellbeing – all I have to do now is work out a plan of action and I feel my first task is to establish some routines to provide some stability to my life.

Hope you all have a good weekend – I have a bit of catching up to do in blog world but I know from my quick scans of my favourite blogs that many of you are well into any new challenges you have set for yourselves  I hope I will have time to leave the odd comment again soon but this might be after the funeral when life has calmed down a bit over here. x