Wednesday, 5 October 2022

Facing the Fear

Bless - thank you. The commute isn't usually that bad, so I can't really complain. Sometimes I really treasure the fifteen minutes or so I have with my knitting and the peace and quiet while waiting for bear. I've turned up quite early in the past due to traffic issues, and I've got a lot of knitting done, but I've found a few short cuts that miss the worst of it so don't have to set off so early these days.

Sharon - thank you. DH and I both adore good home made soup, so we can lap it up and work around bear.

Eileen - I think all schools are having trouble keeping teachers at the moment. At least they are taking it seriously. English is a keynote subject. 

Bear has started coughing. I'm keeping an eye on him. I feel grim, but DH is definitely picking up, especially if he doesn't get carried away but takes it steady.

I had a delivery today. I've spent a fortune on duvet covers from Aldi. Well, at least a fortune for me. In the scheme of things, with the cost of thread and heading tape added, it should still work out at relatively inexpensive curtains compared to ready made. I'm still wincing at it, though. I have bought two king sized duvets and two double duvets. That gives two layers of fabric at the window, one window is 90 inches wide with 76 inch drop and one window 46 inches wide and 76 inch drop. You can't get ready made curtains for a 76 drop. You have to either get 81 inch or 72 inch. These duvet covers are 'crinkle velvet' which feels quite unpleasant but which should be useful in keeping in the heat.

And they are roughly 78 inches long, which by the time I have finished adding heading tape will fit very nicely. Of course all the radiators are under the windows, so I don't like them to hang down too much, but I don't want them too short to leave space for a draft. All I need to do is sew heading tape on one end of four duvet covers. I can line them later if I like, but with double glazing and my lack of skill, I'm leaving that for now. 

It's the sewing that's the problem. Really I should set up the sewing machine as soon as the heading tape arrives in the post and get cracking. But I'm still not comfy with my machine. It's ridiculous. It will take maybe an afternoon to do all the tape with the sewing machine, including setting up the new machine, having a practice and working out what goes where. If I sew by hand, I get sore fingers and it will take ages! As it gets colder, we need warmer curtains up soon, so I need to face the fear and do it anyway. I'll share if I get my courage up. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Tuesday, 4 October 2022

Rice Continues

Pam - rice is one of the things that I don't check the sell by date on. I'm strict on some things, but not rice or pasta. And filling up with rice makes a lot of sense. I may check out the local Asian stores, but I shop at Tesco in Batley, with a high Asian population and this rice was on a deal for Ramadan, so hopefully I can keep an eye on things there as well.

Bless - thank you! That casserole sounds like a great idea for a dinner. I've thrown in raw rice with chicken, stock, herbs and loads of veggies and baked for a while, and it has always worked, so the soup idea sounds even better.

Eileen - thank you. I have a habit of throwing all sorts into soup, and it hasn't failed me yet!

Today's commute was grim. There was a junction on a nearby motorway closed, which led to nearby roads getting bunged up, which led to near gridlock. We left the house at pretty much 7am sharp, which normally gets bear to school around 7.30am. Today I dropped him across the road from the school around 8am after sitting in queues for ages. I waited in Tesco car park for a while to let the worst of it die down before trying to get back, and there were still challenges. I'm checking the local travel maps and that junction is still closed so heaven help us tomorrow. Bear said that he was in a classroom overlooking Reception, where late comers have to check in, and he said that there were loads of buses and coaches running late and dozens and dozens of kids having to sign in. Bear travels eight miles to the school, and there are lots of kids who travel further. If we had left at a reasonable time, bear would never have made it to school before the bell. 

This meant that I set off for pick up ridiculously early and so ended up sitting for an hour in a country park car park. It's not a very big country park, but there is a cafe and a toilet and lots of good dogs. I saw a lot of dog walkers around. I actually took some pics.

The horse chestnut wasn't looking too healthy. I didn't spot any conkers, but I saw a few cases.

I got a notification on my phone asking me to leave a review of the park on Google maps. I haven't. I've only really been to the car park. I suppose I could praise the rather basic single toilet. I was there at the weekend as well with my knitting. I found the car park incredibly relaxing but I'm not sure that Google maps are after that. 

A sculpture near the cafe. Apparently there was a cold mine here before.

We had rice with the chili con charlie tonight. It's rice all the way. I'm making notes of all the hints I'm getting from you awesome people.

DH and I were supposed to be at a meeting at school tonight. They were discussing English Language and Literature for the pupils. It's a compulsory subject and apparently all of the year are struggling after going through dozens of teachers over the last couple of years. The new teacher sounds a little more effective and bear is very much in awe of him. However as both DH and I are coughing, spluttering and aching, we decided not to share the suffering and stay home. I'm sure that we'll hear about it in due course. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Monday, 3 October 2022

Darn it to Heck

Cherie - I'm going to have to try that, and I love rice pudding with sultanas.

Col  - I think that may be a good way to go, though I'll have to clear the freezer first.

Sharon - I've had a couple of 'bitsa' meals and I guess that I'll have a few more. I'm glad that you liked the leaves. I thought they were gorgeous.

Bless - I always feel that I'm letting the men down with jar sauces, not that they would notice. I'm going to have to try that trick with adding rice to salsa. We may not get through as much rice as you, but I think that we'll get through it fairly quickly. It won't do us any harm.

Eileen - I have heard about freezing uncooked rice. I heard that it gets rid of bugs, but I haven't spotted any so far.

I woke up this morning with a very scratchy chest and achy bones. I do not approve at all!

I have no real idea of what I did today. We had rice again, and I've got the rest of the sack in tupperware containers, so it should keep. The leftover cooked rice got thrown into the freezer and I'll use it up as I go. I was thinking about throwing the frozen cooked rice into a nice veggie and lentil soup. Legumes and grains together give a complete protein, and with loads of veggies in there, it would be a powerhouse of nutrition and still coming in as an inexpensive meal. I noticed in Morrisons, when I stopped to get comfort food, that the stew packs were 99p for a kilo that included a swede, carrots, onion and parsnip. Even if I was ridiculously generous with the lentils, spices, stock cube and oil, and even with the cost of the electric, that would still be an inexpensive feed. 

Bear, of course, is utterly rejecting soup. DH and I fully approve of it, especially my home made version which can often be eaten with a knife and fork. I may try variations on the theme of dal and rice with lots of good veggies on the side. Mealtimes can get complicated. 

I have been more random than usual on eBay. I'll share when it arrives, but the eBay pic makes it look like there is a fairly large pile of vintage tray cloths, napkins and doilies heading my way. I got it for 99p. The postage was nearly £15. I have no idea what to expect.

This morning had the most gorgeous sunrise.

Writing stuff - latest instalment is here

Hugs and good health to all. 

Sunday, 2 October 2022

Rice With Everything

Bless - thank you!

Cherie - knitting in the car park is actually really good for me, if there are lots of trees and nature around. I can only take so much excitement.

I'm still feeling slightly out of sorts. I had far too much rum on Friday night. I mean, rum to an excessive amount, in large quantities, almost a vatful (maybe an eighth of a bottle, which is a lot!) and it burned a lot of the lurgy out of me and so while I had a hangover and I'm not feeling utterly top form, I'm doing okay, though worrying that I'm going to get it later. DH is really struggling, though. It's lodged right in his upper chest and throat and the poor lad is seriously croaky. Bear currently is unaffected. 

I'm slowly chipping away at the stash in the freezer. Today I put three chicken breasts, which were the last ones in three separate bags (which cleared a surprising amount of space), in an oven dish and poured over a jar of curry sauce. The men will enjoy it, and it's cheaper than anything I can make, and better tasting. I also added some frozen mushrooms from the stash when I got a load marked down and some frozen onions. I feel low enough cooking a jar sauce, but at least I add to it. It's rumbling away nicely. I'm going to cook some frozen peas in the microwave as an experiment, and I'm going to serve with rice.  

I'm nearer sixty than fifty. You would have thought that I would have learned some sense by now. However there was a deal on rice a few months ago and I bought 5kg of basmati rice (which DH very much prefers) at a very good price. I can't currently find it on Tesco website, so they may have been getting rid of it, but it was something like £1 per kilo, which you can't get now. I thought I would bung some in the rice cooker (and it's so long since I used it that I'm hoping that I got it right). I tipped some into a large, airtight storage container. I now have a sack with roughly four and a half kilos of rice being held shut with a bulldog clip. I cannot imagine that this is an acceptable way to store rice. I refuse to allow it to go to waste. So now I'm wondering about the best way to store it and also how much rice we could sensibly eat over the next few weeks. It is less than you would think. DH likes his pasta bake and bear has terms and conditions about food which usually ends up either buying a salad or eating something beige. I couldn't face taking a pic, so here is a stock photo from Unsplash.

Faris Mohammed is obviously a better cook than I am. If I don't use a rice cooker, my offering is always extremely soggy or burnt. 

The bag should be okay for now, but I think I should decant into something slightly better soon. I think that I'm going to end up in IKEA. You see, tomorrow I may as well do the big 10% off shop which I had planned to do Friday, then I can call in at IKEA on the way home. IKEA doesn't open until 10am, which is a lot later than I'm normally headed home, but if I have a good walk followed by a big shop then it should be opening as I go past and I want to pick up some frozen veggie meatballs from there. And I could do with calling in at Wilkos which is just along from there as I am out of fat balls for the birds and the magpies are starting to give me meaningful looks. 

I may or may not get the storage from IKEA. I don't want to spend the money. I think this evening is going to involve rummaging in the backs of cupboards for decent airtight storage. There may be a haphazard tower of random rice containers by tomorrow. 

I also need to use it up within a reasonable time frame. I refuse to let it go to waste, and I quite like rice. If I make a large quantity at the beginning of the week, it could end up stirred up with all sorts of scraps that I can use up. And as bear's preferred liquid with cereal is rice milk, I suppose I can have a go at that, though it wouldn't be fortified like the commercial stuff. 

I have also measured up bear's trousers. There is now a surprising amount of sock on show when he wears them, which is not surprising giving that he's thankfully growing like a weed. I bought school trousers for him but, after measuring up, he's really in men's trousers now. What a milestone - men's trousers!

Hugs and good health to all. 

Saturday, 1 October 2022

Sniff Continues

Bless - we rarely have proper chicken but it may be worth it if I get a chance to use up all the scraps. I'm sure that it would taste better. Sometimes soup is an edible hug.

Sharon - I used to have a load of soup frozen, the type that was mainly veggie and lentils with lots of spices, and it really hit the spot. I need to get back to that. 

Lurgy continues, but I did manage a brief run out to do a little knitting in a nice car park. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Friday, 30 September 2022


Eileen - bear spilled wax due to one of those strings of events that are almost inevitable. I was burning a large candle in the centre of a very stable table. Bear stood up too quickly, had a dizzy moment and, as he is rapidly approaching six foot tall, had a sort of blast radius as he stumbled and knocked over the candle. The candle went out straight away, but there was wax everywhere as it had been burning for ages and was mostly liquid. Some of the dratted stuff got onto my newish bag and soaked in. I was so unimpressed.

Wherethejourneytakesme - you need a black belt in shopping these days. I wish I had the energy for the challenge.

Sharon - I think we are all going to see a sudden jump in costs and it's going to be hard to keep up. I hope that you don't need too much of the ibuprofen.

Bless - I think I'm going to have to have a page per item in the price book as you suggest and work around it like that. I used to wait every year until the tinned soups came down to 50p per tin. The sale was around the same time each year in autumn and I bought loads. That was at a time when a tin was normally around 80-95p per tin outwith a sale. Now the same soup and the same brand is £1.45! When I saw a sale a few weeks ago that worked out at around 60p per tin, I bought a dozen. They will last maybe two months. It's a challenging time.

DH and I both have sore throats, sniffles, coughs and are full of aches. We can't call it flu, but it's not very pleasant. I ended up cancelling not only the hair dresser appointment, but also our trip to the theatre that we planned for tomorrow. I didn't do a big shop, though I booked a delivery for Sunday. This morning I was seriously worried that I wasn't in a good state to drive! I am not a ray of sunshine.

On the other hand, I made the soup! And it is so much of a win for me. Months ago I bought a pack of stew vegetables that had been marked down. There was a carrot or two, parsnip, swede, and an onion or so. I chopped them up and bunged them in the freezer. Today I pulled them out of the freezer ready to go, added some lentils, a stock cube and water, a little oil, turmeric and cumin. It took very little effort because all the veggie prep was done and I could leave it on the simmer for half an hour and it would be ready. Then DH liquidised it and it was lovely. It felt really warming. I think I shall watch out for those marked down veggies more often and make sure that they're prepped. 

I feel really good about it. And it's made me rethink the freezer and how I use it. At the moment there is a lot of beige stuff in to suit bear, but I can pick that up quite easily on a day to day basis. It would make more sense to freeze bargains. If I remember correctly (which is not guaranteed), that bag of veggies cost something like 43p, down from about 80p or 90p. There aren't any packs currently on the Tesco website, but Morrisons have a kilo of frozen casserole veggies for £1.55. Even with the lack of waste, the frozen stuff is still a lot more expensive. DH and I had a good meal out of it, and DH had seconds. I'll probably throw the dregs away because there isn't much space at the moment, but even though bear utterly rejected the soup, there were still three good portions. If I had managed it better and perhaps added a potato, there could easily have been two or three portions going into the freezer. If you add the (probably) 43p to the cost of the stock cube, lentils, spices and oil, and even the bit of bread we had with it, it still would not have been a lot per portion. It didn't even take much cooking. 

And that is where I need the price book. Not everything that is marked a bargain is actually a bargain. I'll still be buying my frozen onion. But I need to recognise a bargain when I see it and use it properly. 

Writing stuff - I put a small post about what is happening on my writing blog here. I'll be taking a few stories down on Sunday. It will be incredibly good for me to have a sort through.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Thursday, 29 September 2022

Second Verse

Sharon - thank you for the lovely comments on the photos. Your opinion means a lot. The shop is so amazing that I'm trying to think of excuses to go back. There is a sort of similar bookshop in Holmfirth (or was) and I'm planning a trip there. Being able to rummage for the unexpected is part of the fun!

Bless - I think this hardward store is a similar age to yours. He said that it had been open for 67 years. There is something so reassuring about those shops. 

Well, my stomach is currently behaving but I'm having all sorts of fun with what feels like a sinus headache. I am not looking forward to the hairdressing appointment tomorrow. I'm definitely feeling under the weather. I suspect I'm getting a cold, and with all that has been happening, colds seem to be so much worse now. DH is also rough. He has a sore throat and is not on top form. I picked up a wide selection of throat sweets for him and we are all having an early night.

I am going to settle down after this and write some lists. I've been having a little success with them this week, and they are keeping me on track. I've got a notebook for my price book. I thought I'd share my processes and mistakes on here, because it may be useful to others. 

This is my new A5 notebook.

The tabs are marking sections as it's a project book with inbuilt dividers. I thought I would mark them as 'Fresh', 'Frozen', 'Food Cupboard' and 'Misc' (I had some rude ideas about something that would represent a mish mash of cleaning and health and that would start with 'F' to keep the theme, but I'm going with 'Misc'). 

I'm not entirely sure how it will work. For example, there is no point in me buying bagged salad in bulk when there's a good sale, so do I track it? DH has a bag every week. As it is such a regular buy, I may keep an eye on how it goes and just track the price so that I have an idea of how the budget will work. On the other hand, if I see mushrooms at a good price, I can chop and freeze them, and the same for root veg, so that is probably worth recording. 

I jotted down some prices.

I will never win prizes for penmanship. But I think I need a separate page for each item, and I need to be more specific. Currently, on Tesco's website, there are Rosedene cheap small pears at £1.73 per kilo, Conference pears at £2.79 per kilo (half price with Clubcard), Seasonal pears at £3.82 per kilo and organic pears at £5 per kilo. I need to check out the farm shop for these as well, as they may or may not be equivalent prices, but they may be better quality. I'm working through ideas, and I'll share as I go. I'll get rid of this page and start again. I knew that I would be changing my mind a lot, which is why I'm starting out with an extremely inexpensive notebook.

I'm still keeping my shopping list notebook. I use it intermittently, but I've been using the same one for ages. I try and use up all the page so stuff gets squeezed in all sorts of corners. 

It's getting a bit battered, but I'm using every scrap of it. 

I still haven't found a handbag that I like, after bear spilled hot wax on the current one. I dug this out of the back of the warddrobe. I got it ages ago from my friend eBay, but there was a smell. The smell has pretty much gone.

It's a little bigger and will take both the shopping list and the price book as well as the rests of the rubbish I lug around with me. 

I need to sit down after posting this and make a shopping list. I could do with getting the 10% off shop done tomorrow, and my ideal schedule would go - drop off bear around 7.30am (his choice!), then go straight to Tesco and do the big shop, hopefully finishing not much later than around 9.30. I don't need huge amounts, but I need a few bits and I may as well group them together and then get the money off. It costs £7.99 per month for the Tesco Clubcard Extra, so I need to get more than that using the 10% off shops. Ordinary clubcard reductions don't count as you get them with the free clubcard as well. I want to pick up some clothing (10% off F&F clothes if it's not already on sale) and shop for some Christmas presents. I also need to call in Aldi for a tiny bit or two before diving home and grabbing a shower then heading back towards Heckmondwike for my appointment at 12pm. By the time it's finished, it will barely be worth going home to come back, so I'm planning on getting some serious knitting done as I wait to pick up bear. 

Then home, and I'm risking letting you know that I'm planning homemade soup for DH and I. Bear has utterly rejected soup, so he will have something beige. Normally if I even whisper what I am planning for dinner then it all goes wrong, but I'm hoping it will work out. 

Writing stuff - I'm still planning on removing some of the stories under A Whisper in the Shadows so dip in if you feel like it before 2nd October.

Hugs and good health to all.