Tuesday, 17 January 2017

When The Sun Shines

Yesterday was calm and sunny so I ventured out into the garden.

In the autumn we chopped down a couple of trees and the plant tangle at the bottom of the garden (I say that as though the bottom of the garden is more than a few metres from the house!), you can see the before and after here. The pile of debris has been behind the garage ever since, yesterday I started to do something about  despite Dan being King of the Green Bin. I filled the bin then chopped up all the remaining smaller bits and tidied them into the bulk bag the garden cobbles came in. I just left the larger branches stacked up. It didn't take all that long and it looks so much better, and is less of an assault course for the window cleaner. OK, so I haven't actually done anything but I feel like we're a bit closer to a garden I want to look at rather than avoid.

I also spotted the first snowdrop of the year and lots of green shoots, all that bulb planting was worth it.  It's raining today so I feel even better about getting out while the sun was shining. 

Monday, 16 January 2017

Focus and Primp

Here's a sentence you don't write everyday - I read something really positive on Facebook yesterday, this article, it asks the question 

"Why can't you accomplish your ten year goal in the next six months?".

I don't have a ten year plan, but we do have some things we want to do, and it got me thinking, why can't we accomplish some of our goals that we think will take another 8 months, or a year, or more. I spoke to Dan about it and with a bit of thrashing about (and in Dan's case getting wrapped up in the detail) we think we're going to move one of our end of the year goals to a spring one. 

We need to have some work done on the bathroom (you can see our temporary leak solution here) and were going to have everything replaced, we then downscaled the job - by deciding to keep the original bath and sink and just have new tiles, shower, toilet, cabinet, light, radiator, flooring, bath panel and bath screen. We've now decided to just replace the tiles, shower, cabinet, light, bath panel and bathscreen. Eventually we're going to need new central heating so we're going to live with the radiator we have until then. I know we should probably have the heating done first but I am sick of showering in a place covered with plastic bags to stop the water leaking into the kitchen and we won't have enough money to do both.

Assuming we can find someone willing to do such a small job we're hoping to have it done around March or April. I'm almost excited!

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Eat In, Eat Out

After the trip round Unicorn on Sunday we didn't really go shopping this week, just nipped in for broccoli, mushrooms and bleach. Despite this I still need to recoup some cash as we had to replace our carbon monoxide alarm (£20), we ate out for my birthday and it was our wedding anniversary yesterday. 

We weren't planning to do anything for our anniversary, we make more of a thing of the day that we met, but due to some bad planning we didn't have anything to take with us to the football for lunch. As luck would have it on Friday night Dan was pointed in the direction of a newish cafe with some vegan options, right in the centre of Burnley - Little Barista. 

 I have to say I was impressed. A good choice of teas and coffee, almond, coconut and soya milk are all available, although at extra cost. There was not one, but five sweet treats - apricot croissant, carrot cake, a fruit crumble bar, chocolate and walnut brownie, and a coffee and orange cake. There was even a sandwich! We shared the sandwich, which they called a taco, it was a soft flatbread with roast vegetables, served toasted, it was really very nice. On this occasion neither of the soups were suitable for vegans but they do have sfv soups regularly.  

We went halves on the cakes (coffee orange on the left, chocolate walnut on the right, the chcocolate one was served warm). They weren't cheap but they were amazing! Also on sale were 10 Acre crisps - yes including When The Cheese Met The Onion, Karma Cola and Whole Earth soft drinks. Oh, and the staff are some of the most pleasant you will come across and were more than happy to help.

As a result of all this spending the menu plan is being stretched as much as possible. On Thursday I made a big pan of spicy rice with lots of veg and black eyed beans, there was a bit too much for one meal, so before I stirred in the rice I kept some of the veg mix aside to have the same again the next night. I don't always want to eat rice, but when I'm in the mood it's all I want to eat! I added an extra couple of pepper slices from a jar of roast peppers, a few more mushrooms and some pumpkin and sunflower seeds. We also had some cauliflower fritters. 

A small cauliflower, or half a large, some fresh coriander, water and the above spices and gram flour, blitzed up and cooked in the frying pan. The original recipe can be seen here.

We ate some with our spicy rice, but had enough mixture left to have some when we got home from the match (Up The Clarets). Served with a little bit of salad, some houmous, mango chutney and hot sauce. Lovely!

Today Dan is making bread and I will be making a mushroom, chestnut and sage bulghur bowl, another pantry meal, another budget stretcher. 

Friday, 13 January 2017

The Luck of the Draw

Since Christmas we've had so many donations at the charity shop, a mixture of unwanted gifts, surplus decorations, and people having a general clearout, so we've been running a tombola. 

My Tuesday colleague chucked 50p into the pot and said if he won he'd give me the prize as a birthday present, I crossed my fingers and hoped it wouldn't be the novelty toilet paper...

He won! So this was my prize/gift

a cute recipe binder. It was really good timing too as I'd dropped the box I keep my recipe cards in and it snapped into several dangerous looking shards, and the cards were being strewn all over.

It has some pockets for bits and bobs as well as pages to write recipes. I'm copying my favourite tried and tested recipes into it then the cards can go away.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Cookbook Declutter

The book cupboard in the kitchen can be a bit of a stash and dash place, so things are put away, but not always neatly. I also rarely go through it, today was that day.

It still needs a bit of primping.

Three notebooks, a folder from the City of Manchester Stadium (I don't know how long it is since it was called that) and assorted books will be leaving this place. These are the books, if anyone wants one of them let me know. 

Other than the Quorn one, which was a freebie from somewhere, they're all used, so not in as new condition. Now time for a brew.

Splashing Out

The charity shop must have influenced me this week as I find myself this morning with empty cupboards and buckets of hot soapy water. 

I can't remember the last time I bought a bottle of bleach, but I bought some on the way home last night and today the kitchen is getting a deep clean. It could take a little while, but the weather's not good so I'm not going anywhere!

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

When You Wish You'd Never Asked

Yesterday at the charity shop I asked the manager if there was anything specific she wanted me to do today. She thought about it then said she didn't like the look of the front of the shop so if I could put my thinking cap on and rearrange it. By the front of the shop she means all the ladieswear, including shoes and accessories i.e most of our stock. 

"You're creative, use your imagination" she said. Then her brow furrowed and she asked "do you wish you'd not said anything?"

Erm, a little bit!