The Friday Feast…

A weekend at home at last – I felt so exhausted this morning that it took quite a while to get myself into gear – so my Friday Fling today was a sit down job and I went through a pile of magazine cuttings labelled ‘Home and Cottage decor’ and threw away any unwanted articles and outdated pictures.

Once I regained some energy to tackle my Friday Tidy I concentrated on getting my kitchen back to a presentable state and in the process I checked the fridges for leftover food.

I am always looking to be as Thrifty as possible and I hate waste so I make Friday my use it up day.  I was quite pleased with myself when I discovered there was nothing to throw away – in fact I was worried that I might not have enough food to make an evening meal but I always enjoy the challenge of making a meal from whatever I have leftover.  We have had some strange concoctions over the years!

In the Fridge

I found a few sticks of celery, a handful of cherry tomatoes, a bag and a half of carrots, some sweet potatoes and 1 egg.  I also needed to use up the end of the jar of tomato paste and the very end of some cheddar cheese.

In the Vegetable Rack

I had onions and a new bag of baking potatoes.

In the Store Cupboard

I had a bag of mixed nuts getting to the end of the best before date and a few slices of bread in the bread bin.

After looking through my recipe folder I decided on a Walnut and Tomato Slice – a recipe which surprisingly incorporated all the above items – I should also have put in a red pepper but I had to make do without.  I baked the potatoes and had peas from the freezer and made a little gravy.  I left the sweet potatoes for tomorrow to make soup with the full bag of carrots and more onions.

This was the result and below is the recipe.

Walnut and Tomato Slice

4oz Wholewheat breadcrumbs

4oz Walnuts ground (though mine was a mix of walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts and almonds).

2 Stalks of Celery chopped (I actually used the left over 4 and it was still fine)

1 Onion finely chopped

4oz Carrot finely chopped and part boiled or steamed.

1/2 red pepper chopped

1/2 tsp Thyme

1/2 tsp Sage

1 free range egg, beaten

2 tbsp Tomato Puree

1 tbsp olive oil

Ground black pepper

a little salt to taste

2 Tomatoes thinly slice (I used Cherry tomatoes cut in half)

1 tbsp Sesame Seeds (I used a sprinkling of grated cheese as an alternative).

  • Cook the onion and celery together in the oil and add the red pepper until soft.
  • Mix the breadcrumbs, nuts, herbs, salt and pepper, tomato paste and egg in a large bowl.
  • Add the onion and celery mixture and bind all ingredients together. 
  • Turn mixture into a greased loaf tin and press down (Tip: place a greased strip of greaseproof paper running along the bottom and up the two ends of the dish for ease of turning out after cooking).
  • Arrange the tomatoes along the top, sprinkle with sesame seeds or cheese.  Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes at Gas mark 6 (200C or 180 Fan Assisted) remove the foil and bake for a further 10 minutes.
    Serve hot or cold

It was delicious and could be adapted depending on what you have available – next time I might throw in some mushrooms.

Have a good weekend – lets hope the weather is fine.

Flourishing Friday…

My day to get things done and what a lot I have to do…

My Friday Fling will be concentrated this week around my ironing mountain, which at the moment looks more like a Volcano. Look away now if you might find this picture too distressing!

Sorted neatly into piles of like with like it doesn’t feel so bad.

As most of the clothes from our wardrobe (which is almost empty) are somewhere in this pile I will check as I iron for items I no longer wish to keep and discard them as I go along.

All finished and ready to put away.

My Friday Tidy will be concentrated in the kitchen and the fridge in particular – it would normally be almost empty too by today but I went shopping last night which is not my usual day as I purposely tried to delay it so that the money will stretch further and to force myself into using up items from the fridge, freezer and store cupboards.  It was a rather odd week with daughter and her partner and my husband all coming and going.  The only person I knew would definitely be in for tea was me!!

I urgently need to reconnect with my finances which have taken a back seat recently.  So let me introduce Finance Friday or maybe I will call it Fiscal FridayFiscal in the dictionary definition means ‘pertaining to financial matters in general’ …and it has a nice ring to it… and sounds very grand – probably as it is a word used mainly when discussing government budgets but as my own meager (or non-existent more like) budget is becoming as big a mess as the world economy  is at the moment I think Fiscal is appropriate.

So here we have my concentrated effort towards financial freedom –I hope it goes as well as my effort to leave work early.

Step 1 – Don’t Panic!

Step 2 – Look at the figures – go through all our spending and bills and statements

Step 3 – Panic (as I know even now they are not going to look good) but I will bear in mind that seeing the figures in black and white will help to diagnose where the difficulties arise

Step 4 – Look at what is working – then look at what isn’t working

Step 5 – Make a plan and develop a course of action to work on the areas that are definitely not working

  I refer anyone reading this to a marvellous piece of advise I read in The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin –   No 8 of her Twelve Commandments –       Identify the problem.

In my mind a very clever little statement that I come back to time and time again for many issues in my life.  (thank you Gretchen!) 

If you can identify and isolate the problem then the rest falls into place.  So next week I plan to look at the figures and identify the problems then set a course of action.
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Tidy Friday…

I just had to take a photo of some of my gorgeous presents.

These little vintage cups, like a dolls tea set, are actually measuring cups for 1/2 teaspoon to tablespoon quantities and the birthday bunting  – isn’t it just so cute? –  it is teeny tiny and made out of thin painted wood.  The card is applique and embroidery and the stocks and roses in the background smell wonderful.  As well as the above I received a bottle of Neal’s Yard Seaweed and Arnica Foaming Bath (just in time as I have recently finished the last one), a book on running a small holding as a business, a beautiful silk top from ‘Mint Velvet’ and a goat from Oxfam which will add to my collection (so far I have Arthur and Annie goat and Alfie Alpaca).  I love all my presents – my friends and family know me so well!

After my ‘doing nothing’ day yesterday I felt quite refreshed but thought I had better get on with doing something today so I had a quick Friday Tidy with a bit of a Friday Fling thrown in.  The weather was back to its usual wet and dismal self so my plan to do a Friday Fling in the garden shed has had to be postponed but hopefully not for too long.

So I turned my attentions to the kitchen.  I do find cleaning and putting the kitchen back in order quite therapeutic – I like the gleam of the sink and appliances and the clear surfaces when I have done.  I learned long ago when we bought our first old house and the kitchen was pretty tatty and waiting a complete makeover that cleaning and shining all appliances and surfaces makes a difference and any kitchen can be transformed even if it is shabby.  This is the trick that they use on adverts for cleaning products – just watch one and you will see!

I always start with the sink and find that the best thing to use is a sprinkle of soap powder and rub with a non-stick pan scrub or one of those Eco pads that come with the Eco cloths.  I finish off by putting a couple of cupfuls of Soda Crystals down the plug hole followed by a kettle full of boiling water – this freshens and clears the drains.

At this point I empty the fridges of any old food and then do all the washing up including any recycling such as empty jars removed from the fridge.  When everything is clean and put away I wipe down all the surfaces with a cleaner and wash and polish up the kettle and appliances.

The kettle has seen better days and the limescale around the spout has built up again and now looking quite yucky – so out came the vinegar and after a few attempts it is now much improved although not gone altogether. A good wash with soapy water and a rub with a soft cloth and it comes up like new.

This Friday I had a mini de-clutter all around the kitchen removing bits and pieces that have accumulated over the last few weeks.  Items that needed returning to their rightful places or put in the recycle or just dealt with – I am never quite sure how all this stuff ends up in the kitchen or who puts it there (or should I say ‘leaves’ it there) – does anyone else have this problem?

Whilst decluttering I made sure anything that needed refilling such as the storage containers and cleaners were topped up and I checked over the cupboards where I keep the staples such as sauces, pasta, rice, cereals, supplements, etc to update myself with what I had in stock and make a note of any food we are running out of as well as removing anything that was past it.  Apart from an empty Mango Chutney jar and out of date Jelly to throw away all the cupboards needed were a quick tidy and a wipe down.

I have been trying to do this more regularly as time allows and find that it is less wasteful both on food and money as I can pull out things that need using up to prevent them going out of date.  Like on my dressing table I have a toiletries use up box’ I have started a kitchen ‘use up box’ – this week for instance I know that I will have to make a Nutloaf to use up some of the nuts that I have so I can build this into my menu plan.

Finally a quick once over the notice board, water the plants and sweep and mop the floor and I am done.  When my kitchen and cupboards are clean and in order I always feel better and more in control.

So my kitchen is ready for another week – I just wish I could wave a magic wand on the rest of the house.

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The Friday Fling                That Friday Feeling

Ready, steady, pack…

Rain, rain and more rain…but I am sure it is about to stop because a) – it has now rained constantly almost since that sunny day in March when my sister got married (and how lucky was she!) and b) –  tomorrow we are going to our cottage for 2 weeks…yeah…and I have ordered good weather.  We set off tomorrow for Scotland to escape our normal busy lives here.

We are going to a special place that is just as unhurried and stress free as you can get…

where we are hidden away with a gorgeous view to wake up to…

and my flowers are well in bloom…can’t wait to see my garden again.  It is always a surprise to see how much everything has grown.

But before then the packing has to be attended to and as always the question is where to begin.  Of course I won’t be even attempting to do the Friday Fling today

  • Finish bits of washing for holiday
  • Change and wash bedding – I like to put fresh bedding on before we go so it is clean to come back to.
  • Wash clothes ready for work when we get back – I may not get them ironed but I know they will be clean for our return.
  • Ironing to do – as much as possible
  • Prepare clothes to take with us
  • Pack some basic food items – we will shop for rest when we get there
  • Quick flick round with the duster
  • Run hoover over the floors
  • Check bank accounts
  • Water plants indoors
  • Clear out the fridge
  • Have a sit down for half an hour and a cup of tea!

So I won’t be blogging for a while until my return as we don’t have TV or phone or computer at the cottage – no technology just a mobile that only works at the bottom of the garden.  Bye for now…

The Friday Fling…

Having thought long and hard about the problem I have with ‘stuff’ and my longing to have both space and a simple but beautiful collection of things around me that I need and use or love and cherish I have decided that I am going to be ruthless and really, really get rid of all the things that I do not use or do not need and this will include those someday I might items – you know the ones – someday I might use it – someday I might need it – don’t we all have them?  Maybe I am the only person in the world who does and that is a scary thought.

So I am introducing you (and myself for that matter) to the Friday Fling.  Friday because it is my day off and Fling because I am going to go through my whole house (but not all today!) inch by inch seeking out those things I do not need or want and Fling them for good. So be warned ‘stuff’ I will find you –  there is no hiding place!

If you would like to join me I would love to here from fellow travellers out there wishing to organise and simplify their stuff too – especially if you have any useful hints and tips.

Making a start

For want of a better place I will begin in our bedroom with my dressing table drawers.  I know it is old fashioned to even have a dressing table but I do like to sit down on the job and have a mirror in front of me and everything I need to hand ready for any major indulgent pampering session I may undertake or just to make my daily routine getting ready for work a smoother operation.

Bearing in mind I only went through these drawers a couple of months ago for a clear-out, I did not expect that I would find very much to fling but with my new mind-set in action, I discovered I was wrong and I have plenty to throw out.  I use the word ‘throw’ loosely as you know me I cannot see good things go to waste and that is probably why they are still here and have missed being cleared out for the last few years!   So for any environmentally obsessive readers like me take note that if it is at all re-useable it will not go in the bin to landfill I will find it another home – just not in my house.

So from the first drawer here is my collection of items of old nail polishes and a couple of make up compacts that I have had for ages and felt that I might use someday.  Some are brand new and some so old they have most likely gone off.

They are ALL GOING OUT and the good point is, apart from 2 bottles of nail varnish, everything else came free in one way or another – so I can feel relieved that I am not getting rid of anything that cost me hard-earned cash in the first place (another of my pet hates!)

Like a capsule wardrobe my new streamlined collection now looks like this…

A small select selection that includes a French manicure set, a very dark polish for parties, a rich Fuschia colour for pretty toe nails for summer and an all-purpose pearly pink for everyday finger nails.

Add in a hand scrub and hand cream, cotton buds and toe separators…

all neatly contained in a Muji container…

…but there is always something that doesn’t quite fit!!

– this really bugs me when I cannot keep everything together because one item is too tall or too fat, too long or too short – you know what I mean.

So on to the next drawer and these are now my keepers…

my useful massage and skin brushing implements

a selection of eye makeup compacts

three types of foundation – a light one for everyday with sunscreen, one light mousse without for parties and do’s and a tub of The Body Shop mineral face powder with brush.

moisturisers for both day and night-time, for body, face and feet and a moisturising vitamin mask for once a week to re-hydrate my skin. These are all decanted into these handy little tubs which stack neatly.

An assortment of skin toner, eye make up remover, basic Calendula and Tea Tree cream for skin repair (spots and rough elbows!), under eye rescue cream and gel (for my bags in other words.  Everything stored in clear Muji containers.

In the final container – cotton wool pads (indulgent luxury not ordinary), make up sponges, make-up brushes, mascara – brown and a small trial adventurous blue for summer, lipsticks and gels and not forgetting the cover up stick,

and a couple of basics.

So there you have it what more could a girl need?

Everything I am keeping are things that I know I use constantly (everyday in most cases), with the odd item specially for occasional use – and although there still seems a lot of stuff I am not sure I could  limit these any more unless I was going to be dropped off on a desert island where I had to choose only 3 products – now there’s a thought.