Monday, 31 October 2016

Day 305 - Blanched Sweetcorn

I picked the last of the sweetcorn last week, the cobs were still quite small but the temperatures outside now are cold and damp and the net tunnel where these were growing is only a degree warmer than outside. 

I blanched these before freezing as I have with all the sweetcorn that I have picked this year, as they tend to loiter around in the freezer for quite a while as I'm not that keen on sweetcorn, although Lovely Hubby is and that's why I grow it.  Food always stores better and retains more flavour if it's going to be in the freezer for a while if it's been blanched first.

Once again the freezer is full to the top, so I'm glad there's nothing else that needs open freezing as there is no room now for my stack of trays to sit on top of the other contents.

I think we are going to be eating well until the next growing season.

Today is a No Spend Day

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Day 304 - Filling the Cupboards

At the moment the cupboards are fuller than they've been for a while, this is due to the almost non-stop processing that has been going on over the last month or so.  The final picks of red tomatoes were added to a couple of tins of tomatoes and lots of onions to make these jars of Tomato and Veg sauce. 

I decided the label had to include the word 'veg' as I raided the bottom drawer of the fridge for all sorts of bits and bobs of vegetables.  Some radish, some courgette, some chard stems and a couple of peppers were all chopped up and added to the simmering tomatoes and onions.

You might have noticed one label is on  the jar upside down, this was done so I would remember to use this jar first along with the one that isn't full to the top or labelled, as the lid didn't 'pop' when the hot sauce in the hot jars cooled down, meaning a good vacuum hadn't been made.  The button did stay in once I touched it, but I prefer to err on the side of caution with foods that I intend to keep for a while.

Today is a No Spend Day

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Day 303 - Why the Food is Lasting So Well

Our food supplies are lasting well, really surprisingly well, and when I look at this mornings breakfast it's no wonder really.  Just one slice of bread and two of our eggs.  Lunch will be a bowl of homemade soup with veggies picked straight from the polytunnel and bulked out with a couple of potatoes.

I do like a soup with some potato in it, it seems to add a velvety thickness and mellow together the flavour of the other things you add.  So I add at least one chopped up potato or any leftover mash we have in the fridge to most of the soups I make.  So it's the home produced foods that are making our bought in foods last so well.

Someone asked what we still have growing for us to eat, so here is a list.

Spring Onion
Mixed Leaves

Cooking Apples on the far tree.

Which is not a bad list  of pickable foods as we head into November.

Today is a No Spend Day

Friday, 28 October 2016

Day 302 - The Cinema at Lunchtime

Just before lunch time yesterday I was on the computer booking tickets for Saturday night, to see the new Tom Cruise film that Lovely Hubby said he fancied seeing, when I noticed that 'Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children' was about to be shown for the last time at our local cinema.  Shown at 12.15pm in fact ... it was 11.30am.  So I quickly got changed, grabbed my bag and jumped into the car, after booking myself a ticket of course.

It was a good film and a packed house, so I'm glad I booked a ticket with my Unlimited card before I left the house.  There were all ages there, lots of groups of young teenagers, families and a few singles of around about my age.

It was a good and original film and I would highly recommend it.  I gave it an 8/10 for originality and a good story and quite a few famous faces, including Judy Dench.

Today is a No Spend Day

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Day 301 - Things That Don't Count

Project 333 comes with a basic set of rules that you can either stick to rigidly or tailor to suit your own circumstances. 

The Basics

■When:  Every three months

■What:  33 items including clothing, accessories, jewellery, outerwear and shoes.

■What not:  these items are not counted as part of the 33 items – wedding ring or another sentimental piece of jewellery that you never take off, underwear, sleep wear, in-home lounge wear, and workout clothing (you can only wear your workout clothing to workout)

■How:  Choose your 33 items, box up the remainder of your fashion statement, seal it with tape and put it out of sight..

■What else:  consider that you are creating a wardrobe that you can live, work and play in for three months. Remember that this is not a project in suffering. If your clothes don’t fit or are in poor condition, replace them.

So I am not counting the workout clothes in the top photograph.

Or this lot .... two pairs of old work jeans, two shirts and one warm and cosy fleecy top for when I am either gardening or cleaning out the chickens.  I also have a fleece jacket, a waterproof jacket, a pair of waterproof trousers ... and of course my trusty green wellies.

It may seem like a lot not to count but I have worked out this is the minimum I can get by with and manage to do my 'job' properly.  I don't have 'lounge wear' or 'sleep wear' so I don't have to disregard them .... but I do have underwear, which I will be sorting through once I have completed all the clothes to my satisfaction.  I am going back to my favourite basics with this too, although it won't need to be counted ... phew  ;-)

Today is a No Spend Day

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Day 300 - A Day off from Clothes ...Almost

I went out today, to lunch with my Mum and brother to Bents Garden Centre in Manchester.  So I took a day off from the sorting, it's going much slower than I thought it would, interrupted as it is by the normal nitty gritty of daily life.

I thought I would photograph what I got out to wear as inspiration to myself to keep at it when I return.

As I got out my watch and a necklace to put on I had a good look through my jewellery, and decided because I have so little of it I will count it as ONE item in my P333.

I hope those of you that take the time to read these posts aren't totally bored with me rabbiting about clothes, but I need a break from rabbiting about food and this week is doing me the world of good  :-)

Today is a No Spend Day

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Day 299 - Still at It - Clothes - Project 333

I didn't get as far as I would have liked yesterday.  I kept attacking the wardrobe, the drawers and their contents in between normal jobs, things like dog walks, hanging washing on the line and drinking numerous cups of coffee and reading The Vivienne Files for inspiration ... far too much inspiration was collated  ;-)

The wardrobe and drawers were given a thorough cleaning out ....

... which resulted in SEVEN more pairs of shoes being discovered on the floor at the back of the wardrobe.  So that's where the Summer shoes that I had forgotten I had were!!

So I'm continuing on my mission today .... well maybe one more coffee and a bit of a read first  ;-)

Today is a No Spend Day
... being busy sorting leaves no time for spending ... phew  :-)

Monday, 24 October 2016

Day 298 - Sorting Out - Clothes

So many people have too many clothes, but I think, at last, lots of us are waking up to the fact that we really don't need throwaway fashion.  I have never really subscribed to buying lots of clothes just because they were cheap and, shock horror ... have only ever been in a Primark store once in my lifetime.  I came out with two t shirts that virtually vanished after the first wash so thin was the fabric ... I never went back.

My wardrobe is usually kept neat and tidy and I can pretty much tell you where everything is that I own.  But some things are in boxes, out of season that's not a problem but when I need anything out of the boxes I have to stand on the bed and reach over for the top ones.  I need to slightly re-organise and I'm using this round of Project 333 to have a final sort out and clear out, and put the things I will need for the next three months either in my three drawers of the chest or hanging neatly on my half of the wardrobe, with one box being used if I need it.

My little shoe cupboard is also kept neatly .... but does one person need 20 pairs of shoes?

Off to do my final sort out - NOW.  I'll be back with the photos tomorrow  :-)

Today is a No Spend Day

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Day 297 - Veggie and Non Veggie

I've been asked a few times in the past about how I cope cooking a non-meat meal for myself and a meat one for Lovely Hubby.  Usually we eat almost the same with Lovely Hubby's plate just having a slice of a dead thing a piece of meat on it and my plate having the rest of the meal with sometimes an added veggie sausage or slice of quiche.

Sometimes we eat the same meal but with different main components, such as last nights quick tea of burgers on buns.  A sliced red onion was divided between the two 'halves' of my baking tin and it was simply popped into the oven and cooked like this.

I could have used two different trays but doing it this way makes it easier.  The foil was recycled from the previous evenings tea when it had been used to cover a baked biryani on a larger ovenproof dish, so it was plenty big enough for me to fashion my usual divider.

Served two burgers to one bread roll, and with some salad from the polytunnel it made for a tasty and very quick tea before dashing out to the cinema to see the early evening showing of 'Inferno' with Tom Hanks.  Not a bad film but with one twist too many I thought.  Lovely hubby gave it a 7.5/10 and I gave it a 6.5 /10.

Today is a No Spend Day

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Days 295/296 - Borrowing Books

I missed posting yesterday as we were here, there and everywhere ... all day.

One of the places we called to was the local library, as although we have now lived here in North Wales for three years we had yet to join.  I asked one of the librarians if it was a well supported branch and she smiled and assured me it was, the other librarian came over to join in the conversation and we chatted about the threat of closure to some libraries in the UK, they were very happy that their usage and joining figures were exceptionally high so we should get to keep this lovely little branch for a long time ...phew!!

Of course although we said we would just have a little look around to familiarise ourselves with things there I did find some books that I just had to borrow, and Lovely Hubby picked up a 'Learn Welsh'  book and cd set to keep his evenings in his digs productive,

So now we both have library cards tucked in our wallets and the safe knowledge that reading matter will always be available to us ... no matter how strapped for cash we might be in the future.

Today is a No Spend Day

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Day 294 - Things With Numbers

I've always been fascinated with 'things with numbers', set amounts, limits .... as you might have guessed from my various blogs and Challenges over the past few years. 

People that declutter to the point of only living with 100 possessions,  (see here), people that whittle that away to less and something that caught my attention a few years ago ... Project 333.   I'm just about to set to and put this into action properly again.  I've been doing it on and off for the last four years, but it seemed to slide last year because of Marie Kondo ...

...and her magic art of tidying.

After following Marie's instructions (and really enjoying the process), suddenly all my clothes and accessories fitted neatly into my half of the wardrobe and drawers instead of me sorting out seasonally and boxing somethings up, so they all stayed out.  But now I've decided to choose thirty three items of clothing to use for the final part of this year of living without new clothes ... it just makes sense. 

So I have decided to make the new clothes that I flipped out and bought last week the cornerstone of my Autumn Winter P333 collection, and so once I get off the computer I will be emptying out the wardrobe and drawers and picking my thirty three items.  It will be a bit easier now that the weather has settled down to proper Autumn chilly weather and no sudden freakishly hot days to upset the applecart.

This is a collage of the clothes I wore on the January 2014 round.

(To read more about my Project 333 adventures see HERE.)

I doubt I could ever manage living with just 100 items in total .... but I would love to try :-)

Today is a No Spend Day

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Day 293 - Like Buses

Money Spent Today - £6.40
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent - 0
Money Spent in Total - £328.71- All the Budget Now Gone
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent in Total - £300.75
Money left in Housekeeping Fund - 0
In the Red by -  £6.84

My shopping days it would seem are like buses, none for ages then a few come along all at once.  This time I dropped into Tesco for a tub of ice-cream, Lovey Hubby likes it with his crumble, I like it too but I try not to succumb to temptation, I like breathing through my nose to much and anything with milk in it blocks my sinuses for twenty four hours  :-(

Everything else (apart from the Vienetta) was a yellow stickered bargain.  Not totally bargain-alicious but enough to tempt me into spending.  Seemingly I hit the store at just the right time, all the fridge section and half an aisle of ambient had been yellow stickered in a mass sort out of stock.  The reasons for the ambient reductions were on the shelf edge labels and varied from short dates, last of stock, change of packaging etc ... it made for interesting reading, but as you can see they only tempted me with the half price rice cakes.

The Vienetta is all gone .... somethings are just too tempting ...and breathing through your nose is vastly over-rated  ;-)

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Day 292 - The Eleven Pence Shop

Money Spent Today - 11p
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent - £9
Money Spent in Total - £328.71- All the Budget Now Gone
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent in Total - £300.75
Money left in Housekeeping Fund - 0
In the Red by - 44p

We needed white pepper and salted peanuts, you wouldn't think the word 'needed' and salted peanuts were so inter-twined would you, but such is Lovely Hubby's fetish for his salted peanuts after a long sweaty day working outside, it really is a need rather than a want.  So off I go when needs must to replenish his little jar and keep my man happy.

The bread rolls were for lunch that day and the bread was thrown in the freezer.  I always see bread in one form or another as an ideal way to bring the shopping spend as close to the voucher amount as I possibly can, and in this instance my maths worked out pretty well.

The cakes were a treat, I need to set to and make some of these myself, I used to but have gotten out of the habit, maybe Winter is a good time to get back to baking some sweet treats occasionally.  As for the broccoli ... well as much as Lovely Hubby needs his salted peanuts I seem to have developed a need for a delicious biryani that contains half a head of broccoli .... guess what's for tea tonight then  ;-)

The unusual looking thing in the plastic bag is actually just a sweet potato :-)

Monday, 17 October 2016

Days 290/291 - Making Things Last

It's that time of year when I put my Summer shoes through the wash ready for only very occasional wear in the Autumn and Winter.  I don't like wet feet so unless it's a guaranteed dry day these don't see much daylight at this time of year.

I usually hold my breathe slightly when I come to open the door of the washing machine, to see if my shoes are still in one piece, but up to now I have always been able to take them out of the machine in one piece.  I was pleased the red ones survived as they had been bought quite cheaply in the Sainsbury's sale at the end of last Summer and hadn't been washed before.

The green ones were bought in 2013 from the Hotter shop and had been in use all though that Summer, all through the Summer of 2014 ....

and all through the good weather of 2015.

So after wearing them on and off throughout this year this was their fourth washing machine adventure ... and still they have come out looking fresh and ready for next Summer.

I can't remember how much they cost, a little bit more than I usually pay for canvas sneakers, but whatever it was they have been worth every penny.

Today is a No Spend Day
... as was yesterday when I didn't have time to post!!

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Day 289 - Clothes ... Fail

What is it with me ... first I went into the red on the housekeeping part of the Challenge the other day, and then yesterday I got so frustrated with my clothes that while I was out I went and bought £100 worth of new tops from M&S, well it would have been almost £100 if ....

... this T shirt that was labelled as £22.50 hadn't come up on the till when the assistant scanned it ... at just £1.99. 

There things are not so bad after all  :-)

Proof of my bargain of the day.

But it's still a fail on the Challenge in the clothes department now.  Still I guess having my first clothes purchases of the year in the second week of October is not too bad.

Today is a No Spend Day
... this little tag applies to the housekeeping ... not clothes .... phew!!

Friday, 14 October 2016

Day 288 - Delicious Aromas

The house smells delicious this morning, the best sort of air freshener there is ... well as long as you like roasted vegetables and garlic, lots and lots of garlic ;-)

I spent the majority of yesterday both making Green Tomato chutney and roasting trays of garlic laced vegetables and then tipping them into my big jam pan and adding other ingredients to make us jars and jars of summer trapped in a bottle ....well that's what it will taste like when we use the sauces on our pasta, pizzas, in soups or as a side to other meals.

As we sat watching a bit of television last night we kept hearing the distinctive 'pop, pop, pop' of the lids as the vacuum was created, each one brought a smile to my face knowing that the sauce was preserved and safe to keep in the cupboard. 

The one that didn't 'pop' and the one that was only half full will be used first, well with the smell that is still lingering round the house one or more of them was always destined to be used straight away.  Never before have I fancied a big bowl of pasta drenched in tomato sauce for breakfast.

I did take a photo of the jars but it's downstairs trapped in my camera ... so you have got a photo of one of the chickens for no other reason than I like it  :-)

Today is a No Spend Day

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Day 287 - Into the Red .....

Money Spent Today - £5.06
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent - 0
Money Spent in Total - £328.71- All the Budget Now Gone
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent in Total - £291.75
Money left in Housekeeping Fund - 0
In the Red by - 33p

It had to happen.  I thought I might have squeezed a few more weeks out of my £4.73 but it wasn't to be.  I needed fuel yesterday and I also needed onions, it made more sense to get them both from the same place which in this instance happened to be Tesco.

So I shopped with cash and went slightly over what I actually had available, and the annoying thing was if I had just checked the cupboards before I left I would have noticed that I actually had two bottles of Red Wine vinegar, it as white I had run out of ... how ironic that it was Red Wine vinegar that plunged me into the red!!

The half carrot, in case you are wondering, was purchased for Suky the Pug who was with me, it was a full one when I paid, but she ate half on the way to Mum's house yesterday.

To try and soften the blow of having no cash left I picked up the latest free magazine  :-)

Today is the Day I Ran Out of Cash

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Day 286 - Making Good Use of Apples

After a windy day last week most of the apples came down off the 'Rosy Red' apple tree, we have no idea what variety of apple tree this is, it's a very old one,  but this describes the apples this year, they were much greener last year ... weird eh!!

Some of the apples we left on the ground for a while for the wildlife before transferring to the compost bins as they were pretty nibbled at but the best we brought in and turned into apple purees, apple tarts, apple and blackberry jams and a few were even eaten by Lovely Hubby as .... well just apples.

This week, every now and then the odd one has fallen from the top branches, I didn't even realise any were left until they appeared rosy and red lying on the grass, and I've been bringing the best of them in and leaving the rest for the wildlife and the chickens.

Yesterday I made a batch of Apple Turnovers with some basic shortcrust pastry and a small amount of sugar.  The kitchen smelt fantastic, sometimes it's worth baking just for the wonderful smell its leaves around the house.

One was eaten for supper and the rest are now wrapped and in the freezer .... somehow I got them in  ;-)

Today is a No Spend Day

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Day 285 - Rummaging Through Cupboards

Things are just starting to get interesting here, to be fair I thought it would happen a lot sooner, but now and only now am I reaching the back of some of the cupboards and finding things that I had either forgotten about, or put to the back of my mind for the time being while we have been living off the freshly harvested stuff, and the things from the freezer in my bid to empty it ready for the harvests to go in.

The other day I found these, a tin of strawberry jam base and an almost full bag of jam sugar.

As I had just picked a surprise late harvest of Blueberries from the net tunnel, and I knew there was a tub of mixed strawberries and raspberries in the big freezer, I knew straight away what I would make ....

... a few jars of mixed berry jam.

I like the feeling of pulling things in from here and there and making something useful and tasty out of them.  So these along with the other hundred or so jars of preserves (might be a slight exaggeration, I shall have to count) should last us easily through this Winter and beyond.

Today is a No Spend Day

Monday, 10 October 2016

Day 284 - Buying Books

Yesterday in the comments Beachcomber asked me this ... "Have you a long booklist waiting for January 1st?" ... a clever question. 

The answer is yes, of course I have .... after all I'm a bookaholic!!

But, and it's a huge big bold BUT, I won't be dashing out and buying all the books on my list in January of next year.  I have found that through doing this challenge,  although I do the usual 'ooh look there's Jamie Oliver's new book .... I don't have the urge to take it straight to the checkout and bring it home from the shop with me as I would have done this time last year pre-Challenge.

I have browsed through the just released books that have appeared on the shelves in the supermarkets and our local Waterstones, and even on occasion ran my fingers over the spines of the books on the shelves and pulled the occasional one down for a closer look.  I have felt a real pang of wanting to buy a nice new book but it has passed quickly and once home I don't dwell on what I might have owned as I once, not so long ago, would have.

I have parted with books I thought I loved at the car boot sale we did, after finding that in fact although they were full of lovely pictures, the recipes in them were not for me and would most likely never have been made, so they simply would not be earning their place on the shelves.

And we have made a decision over the last weekend that YES we will be doing a fresh Challenge next year, although it will be incorporated on my main blog  not on a blog of it's own.  Part of that will mean we finally get round to joining the local library.  So because of that the books on my list of 'must see, might own' will be picked up from the library first, and only if they fulfil the criteria of being very necessary for one reason or another will they be purchased and added to our bookshelves.

Today is a No Spend Day

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Day 283 - Musings

I've got less than a fiver in my Challenge shopping cash pot, I've got my M&S vouchers too and the Nectar point stash that has reached the dizzying heights of just over £10, should I be worried?  At one stage in my life I might have been, but if this Challenge has taught me anything it's taught me that you don't need much ...  you don't need much at all.

As the cash amount plummeted somehow my spirits have soared.  I've always been good of making something out of nothing, be it food, shop stock ... both mine and the charity shops that I have managed in the past.  You bulk things out and make them bigger creating illusions of plenty and somehow plenty appears.

It's easy to do with food, you take a small block of cheese and grate it and voila you have a mound of lovely cheese on your plate that looks as if it would make a whole loaf full of sandwiches.  You take a small pack of mince, beef or veggie, add a handful each of chopped carrot, onion, celery, some herbs, seasoning cook it slowly together and then pour into an ovenproof dish and top with the mashed flesh of a couple of jacket potatoes and suddenly there is a Shepherds Pie to feed a family.

All of us cooks, save the few that serve up 'ding cuisine' are magicians of making more out of some, think about it  ... when has it ever turned into less ... well unless you count the shrinkage of water-filled meats that shrivel up to pathetic little replicas of the product that was on the front of the box  or pack they came out of. 

We make a meal from a few ingredients on an almost daily basis.  We fling open the fridge door, spy the lone dish of leftover boiled potatoes, the half onion that we meant to wrap but instead plonked on the shelf to dry out forlornly on it's own, as we instead distractedly reached in to wring the last glass of wine from the bottle in the door shelf.  We take our paltry offerings chop them together tip them into a bowl of beaten eggs and cook slowly and watchfully.  Never has a Spanish Omelette tasted so good as the one that appeared from nowhere :-)

My motto from now on.  For food, for books, for clothes, for life.

Today is a No Spend Day
... well it would be after this post wouldn't it  :-)

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Day 282 - Apple Tart

The apples are still dropping off the trees with gay abandon, and I really am trying to use up as many as I can. 

With the freezer pretty full to capacity we are trying to eat what I make while it is fresh.  Although I have just discovered another box of jam jars that are crying out to be filled with either chutney or some more jam ... not that we really need any more, but it would use them up and fill up the Preserves Cupboard even more.  I have just over half a bag of preserving sugar left, so maybe a bit of both is on the cards   :-)

This weekends offering, to be eaten with cups of tea and coffee in between creosoting planks of wood for the workshop cladding, has been this rather large Apple Tart. 

Ooh look there is some missing already!!

It went down VERY well ... with the last of the squirty cream.

Well it would be rude not to sample the creation while it was still warm wouldn't it   ;-)

Today is a No Spend Day

Friday, 7 October 2016

Day 281 - The Girl on the Train

Wow, what a brilliant film.  Well we enjoyed it anyway last night at the cinema.

Luckily I had not read this book, although it topped many bestseller lists when it came out, so I did not know the twist in the ending.  Indeed I would say this is definitely one occasion when watching the film first is preferable to reading the book first.

Emily Blunt is a brilliant actress and she really IS the character she plays, dowdy clothes, alcohol dulled skin, bloodshot eyes etc.  The only time you see her as the pretty actress she really is, is in the final few scenes of the film.

Highly recommended viewing.

Today is a No Spend Day

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Day 280 - Sneaking in EVEN More Into the Freezer

Even though, as I said the other day, the chest freezer is full, I somehow keep managing to sneak more and more bits into it.  These two bags of blitzed cauliflower, for use as either cauliflower rice or to be added to soups, or to be used to make a pizza base, something I haven't tried yet, slid neatly into the gap at the very top and the lid still stayed shut without the warning light coming on.

Every time we eat something from the freezer I think to myself  'phew there's a space I can pop something into', at this rate the contents are never going to go down, but it also means we won't be going hungry even when that piddling amount of cash runs out  ;-)

Today is a No Spend Day

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Day 279 - Shopping with ... Shock Horror ... CASH!!

Money Spent Today - £2.90
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent - 0
Money Spent in Total - £323.98
Vouchers/Coupons/Points Spent in Total - £291.75
Money left in Housekeeping Fund - £4.73

In a total reversal of my last shopping expedition when I spent only a voucher and no cash whatsoever ..... this time I spent only cash!! 

So now there is the piddling, less than five pounds, amount of just £4.73 in the cash kitty.  At least I still have the M&S vouchers and some Nectar points, but the question is .... can I make the cash last long enough to supplement them.  It's no HUGE thing if I don't, I'll just go into the negative, but I'd like to avoid that for as long as possible.

The good news is that because I bought this milk instead of thawing out the one that was in the freezer .... we got back from a weekend away to no milk and no bread ... there is still a carton in the freezer for use next week.  So hopefully I can refrain from spending anything for the coming week.