Saturday, 30 January 2010

5 a day box


I had my five a day vegetable box arrive whilst I was at work yesterday. Its huge! No other word for it. Unfortunately I got a bit carried away and ferreted it all away before I thought of taking a photo. I will link through to the site so that you can see sample boxes though.

In my box was;
3 leeks
5 avocados
4 grapefruit
Loads of apple
Bag of red potatoes
Bag of white potatoes
Punnet of kiwi fruit.
2 mango's
2 bags of lychee's
a bag of apricots
2 heads of broccoli
Loads of onions & shallots
a swede
a pineapple (big fella)
a large melon
tomatoes
loads of carrots
a cucumber

Maybe a few other things, so many I have lost count now!

A large string of garlic as well, just remembered that.
Total price £19.95. Accordingly tot he packaging it is £42 of fruit and veg if bought at a local supermarket.

It all looks fresh and yummy and I really like the idea that virtually get forced to learn a few new dishes to accommodate the surprise contents.

Everything arrived in a large recyclable box with very little additional bagging.

Its great. I love it. This is where the fruit and veg is coming from for me now. Now I just need to find a similar supplier of meat!

Oh, and lots of bananas. Did i mention the bananas too.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

20 years ago today

Twenty years ago today I was only just beginning to understand the meaning of tiredness, I was in a bit of pain but I had the best present I had ever received. At 12.23pm after 14 hours in labour my eldest son, Ahdel (aka Del). Wow, that time pasted really quite quickly. I was 27 and suddenly I am 47. Not sure that I am any more mature but what the hell.

I hadn't really planned to have children and certainly not that young but he was an amazing surprise. We are quite lucky that he turned out so well (I know I am his mum but he is handsome, bright, caring and full of humour,honest )considering I was half way through the pregnancy before we knew I was pregnant. I cant even bear to think of how much red wine went through my system in the months before I knew. However he was born a very healthy bouncy 8lb15oz of noisy perfection.

Two years & two months later my second surprise arrived and the doctor decided to change my method of contraception ( I test drove the first Mirenas, hence no more additions to the family however I am very glad it failed when it did and I was giving the lovely fellas that I didnt know I was missing until they arrived.

Now he has a lovely girlfriend called Bonnie. She fits right in with us and is all I could ask for, for him. He has a job which gives him plenty of job satisfaction (boat building)and enough cash,in the short term. He has a love of music and,fortunately, a talent,which is a pleasure for all of us.A sense of humour which definitely came from his mum, as he always reminds me.

I am very pleased the stork visited us 20 years ago today.


This is my little bundle having ice cream with his nan and grandad on hols.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

New Ways

Lose 1 to 2kg each month. Too early to say but looking good.

Increase exercise. Slight delay due to snow etc, starting from Monday.

Salsa lessons on a Monday night whenever possible. Just not feeling like it this month. Late night meetings mean I just want to go home,not home & out again.

Meal planning - Yes, this is working. Lots of yummy cooking is being very appreciated. I have also introduced occasional treats of puddings which seems popular.
Housekeeping planning - Also seems to be working. I do laundry during the week. Organise my tasks and try to get more done before work in the morning. Also little and often on the bathroom cleaning.

Shopping from farmers market etc. I have ordered veg box for delivery. Bulk ordering meat locally once I have room in my freezer. Minimal supermarket shopping now.

Try new hobby of glass engraving. Still waiting for my desk to be fixed and equipment set up.

I have a new organiser (book) to help me get, and keep, my ducks in a row. Also trying my best to get everyone on board. Oddly enough yummy meals and keeping the place as tidy as possible, as well as getting every ones washing back tot hem fairly promptly, is actually making them more helpful not more lazy! Who would have thought!!!

Sunday, 17 January 2010

My own mid life crisis-busy and confused.

Life seems to be very busy at the moment. or is it at every moment. I am playing perpetual catch up.

Yesterday I read the Apple Cake recipe that my friend emailed to me several time and couldn't see how many apples I needed. When did I forget that Bramleys were apples. I am not sure I like being middle aged, it seems to mean constantly confused.

I thought a mid life crisis was when you realised this is it & you had the desire to run off with George Clooney (or whoever). Mine seems to be more about getting seriously forgetful and having trouble concentrating. & seeing (but it might just be needing new glasses.)

Yesterday I made a massive stew to last for two days. Fortunately it was fantastic, so everyone would have been happy with this. Unfortunately they couldn't leave it alone all day and now there is hardly any left for today. I guess it is there own fault for being little piglets yesterday of they come home today and get tuna pasta instead of beef stew. Bit of a let down though.

Today I need to finish vacuuming. Make some lunch (grrr - not part of my master plan).Make a birthday present for my friend, inspired by the stuff on this website. General tidy up. Make a cheese cake. Buy a ladle, as the old one broke (it was 22 years old and cheap when I first got it).Sort and put away laundry.

So best get going before I forget what I have to do. Believe me, this can easily happen.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

I'll be back later but first

someone sent me this recipe.
If I can get cooking apples I Will try it this weekend.

Apple Cake

3 eggs

150g caster sugar

250g flour

1½tsp baking powder

150g butter plus a couple of knobs

3 bramleys, cut into large bite-sized chunks

¼tsp cinnamon

3tbsp golden granulated sugar, for the top

▶ Pre-heat the oven 175ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Whisk the eggs and caster sugar, either by hand or in a food mixer until it is thick and pale.

▶ Sift in the flour and baking powder, and fold gently until it is all combined.

▶ Melt the butter in 240ml water and beat into the mixture.

▶ Grease an oven-proof frying pan (25cm x 5cm deep) with a knob of butter, then pour the batter in.

▶ Drop the pieces of apple into the mix – don't worry if it's pretty crowded in there. Brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle liberally with golden granulated sugar and some cinnamon.

▶ Bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes, then take it out and leave to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.

▶ Run a knife around the edge and turn out on to a plate, then flip again so the apples are on top.

▶ Serve hot or at room temperature with a creamy accompaniment of your choice

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Budget time of year

I notice, since I spent so much time iced into the house over Christmas, that pretty much everyone who blogs is more organised in their budget than I am. I used to have a budget in Excel which detailed all of my monthly outgoing and an 'aspire to' budget beside of it which showed where I wanted to get to. This was useful because I tried to reduce insurance payment at renewal time, cut down on power usage etc. Somehow it has all gotten away from me lately. I also have never budgeted for other things. I aim to spend about £60 per week on food but I don't log that, or how much I actually spend, anywhere.

Tonight all that is going to be rectified! I am downloading last months activity from my bank account. I will create a spreadsheet of the bills ( as opposed to what I wasted on Christmas) and use this as a basis for the master plan.I will then diarise to compare actual with budget (and slap myself on the hand or congratulate myself, according).

Categories are -

Income
Savings
Fixed (i.e... i have no control such as mortgage, council tax)
Variable (i.e. have control such as gas & electricity)
Optional (life insurance etc , charitable contributions)
Indirect (petrol,food, fun)


Fast forward 30 minutes. I have done this and found I should have far more money than I have. Hopefully this will be all that I need to keep me serious.

My bank, Abbey, were bought up by a Spanish bank called Santander a while back. As of yesterday they are re-launched as Santander. They invited me into the branch to see if I wanted to upgrade my account. Hmmm, is there a catch. I didn't find one. My banking is now free although I have to pay a reduced interest rate if I go over my overdraft. If I stay in credit then I get 6% interest on my balance (they must really like me). Best of all I can use my debit card free when I am overseas. To get to be the special person that deserves this account all I had to do was put more than £1000 through the account every month and hold a Santander mortgage. Finally I think I actually got something for nothing! The free access to money overseas will save a small fortune.

I hope this is the shape of 2010 to come.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Sticking to it

First day back at work today.

I don't waste much money at work generally. I don't have time to go to the shops on a regular basis but I can be wasteful if I don't plan ahead with my food. Today I took in cereal for breakfast & soup for lunch (gammon & green pea). It leaked in my bag so the car smelt yummy to start with and then horrid as the day progressed. Lucky the bag is washable. I have packed tomorrow lunch box already and am definitely using a different box to avoid the same again.

I had the same soup for dinner tonight. I really love home made soup. Tomorrow the old fella is cooking Mahcluta, a spicy soup from Syria. Should be enough for 2 evening meals and I will have the rest for lunches.

I am trying not to spend money between grocery shopping sessions unless its unavoidable, like posting parcels or paying my lottery contribution. I am really sensible in my planned shopping but sometimes the money does drip away at other times. This has definitely to be avoided.

I also designed a little grid to print off and stick to the fridge every week.
Column 1 -Days of the week.
Column 2 -Who will be around at dinner time.
Column 3 -Proposed meal.
I am hoping it will stop the 7pm arrival from work to find I haven't actually taken anything out of the freezer yet (reach for the phone.........).

Of course sticking with it is the key.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

A good day

Cooking -
roast lamb, lasagna, rosti pie (an experiment) and cheese and onion potato pie All done but the potato pies were disastrous. I will make an effort to read a recipe next time.

Cleaning -
Vacuum upstairs. Quick dust and tidy but mostly it is fine. Done.
Upstairs bathroom needs no attention since it was virtually remodeled this week and scrubbed within a inch of its life. Didn't need doing, ha ha.
Stairs - vacuum.Done.
Downstairs floors - sweep and mop.Done.
Sitting room - light tidy.Done.
Kitchen - scrub up!Done.
Also conscript youngest son to move a couple of large items to new homes. Failed. He is aching from snowboarding but will do it for me during the week.

It is going to be even colder tomorrow. What shall I do with my day? I am thinking
baking cakes & maybe some knitting. There is a farmers market but I would think it will be cancelled. In fact I dont think I need to leave the house all day. Lovely.

Weekend Chores

I have now been off work since 24th December,by adding a flexi day and four days annual leave to the standard Christmas break. I vaguely remembered I had a job on Tuesday when the boss phoned up with some questions but otherwise I have been in complete denial. Today is the beginning of reality. Work starts Monday morning at 8am but first two days of chores Not especially looking forward to work but certainly looking forward to my chore days.


At the moment I am blog reading, drinking coffee and have just finished my toast but as soon as the old chap goes off to work I have no further excuses and its time to start.

Cooking -
roast lamb, lasagna, rosti pie (an experiment) and cheese and onion potato pie (another experiment since I watched the Hairy Bikers on Iplayer last night).

Cleaning -
Vacuum upstairs. Quick dust and tidy but mostly it is fine.
Upstairs bathroom needs no attention since it was virtually remodeled this week and scrubbed within a inch of its life.
Stairs - vacuum.
Downstairs floors - sweep and mop.
Sitting room - light tidy.
Kitchen - scrub up!
Also conscript youngest son to move a couple of large items to new homes.
If all that is finished today then I am sorting out my new office tomorrow and sorting through the Christmas decorations to see what is superfluous. I also want to set up my office desk for my glass engraving equipment.

It snowed in the night again and the temperature is currently minus three. However a couple more days and we think it starts to get back to normal. It is beautiful but not awfully convenient. It would be okay if we had it often enough to learn how to deal with it but once every thirty years leaves us as amateurs every time.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Definitely still winter

Sometimes we have a few cold days around here but in Hampshire not so much snow or anything very exceptional. It is apparently something to do with the Isle of Wight protecting us. When I was a girl in Devon things were much snowier. The big freeze was the winter after I was born (1962) and I didn't leave the house for 2 months. It snows from Boxing day until 8th March I read yesterday.

To be snowed it seems to me very odd. My son and his girlfriend are house-sitting in WInchester. They can get out on foot but not by car. She can walk to work at the hospital up the road but he cant get to work in SOuthampton and even if he could no-one else has made it in, so not much boat building being done this week. He needs to work, he isnt good at home alone. Youngest sons college has closed again today. He says it is the best start to a new term ever! One day in, three days off, another day in and then a weekend. Result! All of the old chaps classes are cancelled so far this week as well. No-one wants to battle the snow just to jump into water for 30 minutes . I imagine icicles hanging off body parts if they did try it. My work is still going string although a few have worked from home. I have two more days holiday and a weekend before I have to worry. I am going out visiting shortly though. The 4x4 is finally getting used (uses LPG - very green, dont worry). My dad is off to hospital this pm too. I am glad they havnt cancelled as I thought they might but aparenly all staff have managed to get in. My sister is drivin him up in their 4x4 because the roads around his house are impenatrable. We cant even get his car out of the garage.

More yummy comfort food planned for dinner tonight. Meatballs and spagetti sounds good to me.

Must go, there is a polar bear in the garden...

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Winter Home Economics

5th day of January today and up to our elbows in frost and ice. We are expecting 30cm of snow tonight. Very unusual for the South Coast of England. Its also cold. Not Canadian cold, I admit, or Danish cold but for us wussie Southerners it is quite cold enough. We have a couple of candles burning in the sitting room to give the illusion of heat! We do have the central heating on It is on 15 degrees but it is actually keeping us pretty warm. All the curtains (which are thermal lined anyway) are closed up tight and we have fluffy blankets to snuggle up under.

I am also sticking with my internal central heating plans. Porridge for breakfast, soups and stews at all other times. Scrummy, warming, economical. Last evening we had tomato soup. Tomatoes were reduced to 10p per bag in ASDA. Some garlic, onion, coriander spice (not the leaf) and cumin were fried off in olive oil. Add the tomatoes, five green chillies chopped and chicken stock and simmer for 90minutesish. Really tasty but next time more stock as it got a bit thick near the end.

Today I cooked. A reduced piece of pork in the middle of a large tin (that i had for Christmas actually), a portion of my home made chicken stock, more of the ASDA reduced tomatoes and lots of ASDA seriously reduced new potatoes. These were £2 a bag down to 20p. A few carrots and mushrooms, an onion, some slices of french sausage. Near the end i added pinto beans. The spice from the sausage made other spices unnecessary. It looks and tastes a bit like casoulet.

I love having the week off work. I hope I can continue cooking, shopping and so on with the same enthusiasm when I get back to work.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

All change

Of course, its January, everyone makes plans to change. So we do it too.

Soups, mainly vegetable, feature a lot in our new plans. The old chap is in soup making mode. He will be filling my freezer with exciting new tastes. Soup is healthy, frugal, yummy and helpful to our weight loss plans. 2010 is the year of the Soup.

In the freezer are two (almost) empty plastic containers. One will collect raw chicken bones as we bone thighs etc, the other will collect raw lamb bones when we make kebabs or sausages. Either will happily receive bits of onion, celery etc. Once they are fill they will be boiled up to make stock. I experimented with my first tub through November and December & my lovely stock is now nestling in the freezer with ambitions to form the bases of a soup.

The freezer and fridge, even the cupboards are bursting with food. I cant miss a bargain and everything is reduced each time I visit the supermarket. I just need to be careful not to bulk feed just because I bulk bought.

I am also hoping to build up my daily walks until I can walk to work. The pain in my hip suggest this may be some time but I am not giving in.

Now I have another week before I return to work ( annual leave not just a long Christmas Break.) I am trusty assistant in the house work department (big housework, tiling etc not just cleaning).

Saturday, 2 January 2010

2009 just didnt want to go quietly

As we knew it wouldnt.

The old chap has a friend who lives in Peru. He used to live in the UK until about 2 years ago, and had lived in the states & Canada. A master of the visa system I think. The two guys normally speak to each other once a month to catch up on gossip. Last chat was 1st December. Yesterday the old chap phoned a friend in Slovakia to wish her Happy New Year and instead received the news that his friend in Peru had died. Heart attack on 3rd December, aged just 35, newly married with a little daughter. We culdnt beleive it, surely a heartless prank. We phone his mobile repeatedly. Eventually a woman answered. Spanish is not a language that either of us knows but tears and despair cross any linguistic barrier. So so sad, He was always a wanderer and never settled with anyone but actually seemed to have found peace and was happy with his new family.

2009 wasnt a good year to be friend or relative, or even pet, of ours. There have been so many losses that I am begining to feel personally responsible. We are the only thing that everyone has in common, apart from the obvious. Thank god it is 2010 and please let it not be our turn.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to everyone
We didnt go out as the old chap is not feeling so well from his operation yesterday (dont ask - just know that sitting down is not comfortable).
One more thing to add to my list of resolutions/things to change. I must label frozen food packages. That should stop me arrivng at work with what i think is soup and it turns out to be sauce or gravy.

Lets talk about something good!

I went to the other house and it was lovely! My dad came with us, with my youngest son, for the first 5 days.  Its his first time since ...