drEAming, general chit chat

too many tasks, not enough day…

Friday comes around quickly  but it is nice to have a day off work to get my house in order not to mention myself.

Yesterday during my lunchtime I visited the lending library for a browse.  It is a grand building built in 1937 with local stone and has a very central position in the town – but inside now it is quite a sad place.   Three self-service machines have taken over and the staff drastically reduced and are set to be reduced even more shortly.  I don’t like being ‘served’ by a machine and so rarely go now.

Over the last few years I became very friendly with one of the ladies who worked on the desk at the library – when there was a desk – we chatted quite often when I popped in every week but now we are limited to when we bump into each other in Sainsbury’s.  We are arranging to meet for lunch one day for a good natter – you can’t do that with a machine!

On the way to the library I took a short cut through Poundland and had to smile when I saw the bottles of thick bleach £1 each – I paid 50p in Sainsbury’s for the same size!  Not everything in the cheap shops is a bargain.

After the Library visit I went in to my bank only to find that the 5 counters have been reduced to two – I was told it is the effect of online banking and the hole in the wall machines – I even asked if they were closing down but was assured they were not but maybe they will start to install machines to do the counter jobs like HSBC did across the road.

Just having this stroll around town made me realise how quickly things are changing these days and how this upsets me as it does not feel like positive change.    With all the reductions in staff and increase in automation perhaps we will have to learn to converse solely with machines!

Anyway back to today and the task list.  This morning I took my car to the garage it had been washed and cleaned inside and out by my better half ready for the MOT and service.  All day I was keeping my fingers crossed that they didn’t find anything major wrong.  Already this year I have had a new exhaust so my car budget is a bit tight now.

After depositing the car I went on to the dentist to be patched up again – but this bill was less than £20 on the NHS for the repair of a filling – quite good value I think.

Meanwhile back at home the paperwork pile has certainly been in competition with the ironing pile and both have grown considerably during the week despite my best efforts to deal with some of it.  I keep trying to make the paperwork simpler but when the post arrives it seems to come with yet another problem to deal with.  This week we had a letter from our local council to say our Council Tax payment for December (which is sent by standing order) had not been received.  We have never missed a payment and it had clearly gone out of our bank account so where was this payment?  A few phone calls later and we are told someone will look into it.

After a flurry of cleaning downstairs and a cup of tea round at my neighbours at last the phone call came from the garage to collect my car before 6pm – we were given the news that it is probably terminal and might only have another year left as the underside is not in good shape.  Not the news we wanted to hear!

On top of all this I ended the day knowing that I had tried to fit in too many tasks and one or two of them had gone badly wrong.

The colour run wash I did on some stained sheets failed – the powder stayed in the dispensing drawer and formed a big solid lump whilst the sheets had a 133 minute @ 50 degree wash for nothing!  I only discovered this when the wash had finished.

cheesey-leek-ramekins

 

The new recipe of Spicy Chickpea bakes that I was going to try for our tea tonight did not happen either – there seems to be a sudden shortage of courgettes around here and I forgot to check again in Sainsbury’s last night to see if they had restocked.  I tried the local Co-op and Morrisons down the road but they had none either (is everyone making Spicy Chickpea bakes for tea?).  I didn’t think it very economical to drive all the way to town for one so at the last minute  I had to improvise with the ingredients I did have and make Cheesey Leek ramekins – an old well-tested recipe – just as tasty, but it was a bit disappointing as I had spent time carefully choosing the menu this week and was looking forward to something new.

On the back of today’s disasters it made me think that I need to limit myself to doing a few tasks well and not take on too much – perhaps three new recipes in one week was a tall order.  As well I should have postponed the colour run wash for a time when I can give more attention to it and I will certainly remember to check that the water has washed the powder through the drawer next time.  When I make my list for next week I am going to try and single out only two tasks to do each day and make every effort to complete them.

Well here’s to a good weekend everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

daily routine, drEAming, nEAtening, random thoughts

What greets me when I get home…

Do you remember the Siemens Advert?    If not click on below for a quick reminder.

I used to sing along to this all the time secretly wishing that on my return home after a long hard day at work my life was as easy and relaxed as portrayed in this video. 

Well I want that ‘Siemens’ life – I dream of that  tidy well run home that gleams, and of having a well stocked fridge with healthy food and our evening meal all prepared and ready to go, of being able to recline with a book or run a bath, even take time to kiss my better half – if I had a Siemens life I know I would have arrived!!

Well as they say ‘ Dream on’ in real life what do I have?  I have the ‘Frenzied’ life.

It begins in the hallway when I arrive home and trip over yet another pair of shoes that won’t fit on the rack (usually because all the shoes have migrated from the wardrobe to the hallway – they obviously have feet of their own) and sigh as I pick up yet more junk mail to deal with together with the third charity bag this week and it is only Wednesday.   I go straight upstairs park my bag and hang my coat noting that I must have been late this morning as the bed looks like it had a bad day and resembles a half-hearted attempt at being made; but I persuade myself it is not worth remaking it now as it is only a few hours from bedtime and it is going to get crumpled again soon – right?. 

I head on down to the kitchen to make a well deserved cup of tea (should be herbal or green but I think what the hell and go for normal).  Then I decide that hunger beats healthy and I opt for whatever I can grab as a quick snack. 

Hunger pangs now replaced with guilt pangs for the added calories I have just consumed I rush around the kitchen like a whirling dervish tidying up and dealing with the endless waste management – the washed and drained recycling (tell me where is that in the Siemens house?), emptying compost and rubbish bins and a general putting things into order ready to begin the cooking marathon.  I look in the fridge trying to remember exactly what I had planned on the menu tonight before realising what it was that I dashed into Sainsbury’s for after work when I got diverted and ended up in the magazine section.

If I am lucky by 8 o’clock if hubby is back from work we can eat and relax for half an hour before returning to the kitchen to wash what seems like every dish we own.  After doing bits of paperwork, bits of washing or ironing and checking emails I find it is almost time to collapse into bed, I might just have time to do a post or soak my feet before I do!  My life just does not match up to the Siemens life…yet… but on the bright side after a summer of hard work I am s l o w l y reducing the stuff in our house and the things that remain will eventually have a place and a place with space and this I am sure is key to helping me become more organised.

You can always tell a very expensive clothes shop as they have a minimal stock all beautifully displayed with space around each item and that is how I see our finished home.  So I will keep replaying the Siemens life to remind me that the Future is certainly moving in and hopefully my Frenzied life is on the way out.

celebrations, fEAsting, recipes

Bake me a cake as fast as you can…

Last Tuesday I baked cupcakes for my daughter’s birthday on Thursday.  The first batch of chocolate ones did not make the grade –  they were hard, dry and quite floury more like a craggy chocolate pudding so I tried a second time with a plain mixture to which I added stewed apple in the middle and sultanas.  On Thursday I added a vanilla frosting topping and an iced decoration courtesy of Sainsbury’s.   This time they were light and extremely delicious – I will definitely make this recipe again.

150g unsalted butter (I used Bertolli Olive Oil spread)

115g caster sugar

1tsp French Almond extract

2 medium free range eggs

140g self raising flour

50g sultanas

100g cooked Bramley Apple sauce

I mainly use Organic and natural products where possible.

To make

Preheat oven to 180C, fan 160C, Gas 4.

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, add Almond extract, eggs and 1tbsp flour and continue beating until combined.  Add remaining flour and sultanas and fold in.

Place 12 cupcake cases in a tin and fill each halfway with the mixture and a good teaspoon of apple sauce into each and top with remaining mixture.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden.  Leave to cool for a couple of minutes in tin then place on a cooling rack.

On Friday we had those Cheese and Leek Ramekins again.  This time I took a picture of them before they went in the oven and below is the recipe I never got around to posting last time.

Cheesey Leek Ramekins

My advice is to weigh and  prepare all the ingredients before starting to cook.

1tbsp olive oil

500g leeks, finely sliced

3 large eggs beaten

100g wholemeal breadcrumbs

125g mature farmhouse cheddar cheese, grated

1tsp dried tarragon or try it with a few stalks of freshly chopped chives

salt and ground black pepper

1-2 tomatoes sliced to place on top

To make

Heat the oil in a pan and gently cook the leeks for 10 mins.

Mix together the eggs, breadcrumbs, cheese and tarragon or chives.  Add cooked leeks and season mixture.

Spoon mixture into greased ramekin dishes. Place a slice of tomato on top of each. Bake at 200C or Gas 6 for about 15 mins until golden brown.  Leave to stand for a minute or two then run a knife around the edge and turn out.  Serve with a salad.  Can be eaten hot, warm or cold.

These are really good to take to work for lunchtime the next day with a salad.