Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Stretching the money

After Xmas expenses it is time to find some cheap and filling meals. 

Reading another blog I was inspired to retry a soup I did in November. Tomato and lentil soup.  I had a pack of tomatoes in the freezer which I dug out and used with 2 oz of lentils. Plenty of spices and onions and a quick buzz with the blender.  Its a good filling soup

For a warming lunch I boiled lightly two large potatoes thickly sliced.  At the bottom of an oven proof dish I put some diced onion and bits of cooking bacon. Laid the potatoes on top doused in a thick cheese sauce.  I had brought some heavily discounted cheese in the local supermarket last week so this week the sauce was rich with oak smoked cheddar and the top was thickly covered with crumbs of Stilton. Baked till the potatoes were soft and the top brown. Yum.

I also had some odds and ends of milk I threw in the freezer as we departed to London for Xmas.  Cheap pudding this week was to defrost these and had a baked milk rice pudding. These were easy to cook along side the two roast chickens I got of £7 in the local Co-op. Good offer as the chickens provided us with 8 generously full meals for the two of us.

Obviously we are not in the weight loss regime just yet.  Unlike the TV which has so many diet programmes that it is getting boring.  Plenty of chores like bringing in wood for the fire and clearing the fallen twig bits off the silver birches in the front garden after the recent windy days. Let alone having a good tidy up!

Monday, 8 January 2018

Time to remerge

After 15 full days being grandparents we are at last set free to relax and spend time doing our thing.  Hats off to the grandparents on the other side of the families who look after the little ones on a more frequent basis. We are the " holiday" grandparents; having them for week at a time instead which in many ways I find distressing but its about enough for granddad.  He is not sure C's furry halo is deserved!

We have been lucky this winter - little snow, just one big windy storm, and no serious  flu here so far. But we have had an extraordinary amount of rain - the veg garden soil is like liquid soup and there are laying large puddles of water on the fields.  Could not get on it to pull the carrots or parsnips or leeks.

Now Xmas is over preparation for spring has started here.  The poly tunnel main bed has been renovated and some cauli plants put in for an early crop.  The onion seeds have come up after just a few days and the fresh seed purchases are arriving by post.  The seed potatoes are laid out in the shed to chit.

Today I have found the first snowdrop in a sheltered spot, the hellebore's have started flowering and the wiegelia are flowering.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Specialist shops

As we crossed London over Xmas we took the opportunity to visit Campden street market and look at the old stables that served the railway and canal complex in Victorian times around Campden locks.  We loved the atmosphere of street food, vintage clothes, ethnic lighting and jewelers. But there were two specialist shops that made us smile.

A FLIP FLOP shoe specialist shop.

and the Moomin specialist!!!

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Gettung ready

No, not for Christmas.  Getting ready to start planting seeds! First delivery of onion seeds, spring broad beans, etc and the hot mat brought in and set up in the conservatory. 

All ready for getting going when we return from our holiday. Handed all the Xmas arrangements to sons - Mother's revenge. At last.

To relax today we went down to the River Ouse and took our boat out for a short trip to the River Wisey. Dead flat and a bit misty on the fields and very very quiet.  Then we went for a nice hot snack at the Windmill Cafe in Denver village.

I hope you all have a nice Christmas break.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Next bit of kitchen

Kitchen was disrupted again for 2 days while the husband fitted the kitchen hood. Luckily I was able to switch the menu to meals that needed little prep or cooking - risotto which is all cooked in one pan and fresh fish fillets quickly rolled in golden breadcrumbs with a few chips.

More trailing wires and plug swapping until the electrician comes in the New Year.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

The water meter and the bill

The water meter was fitted under the sink at the beginning of the week so the husband has been monitoring what makes it tick round most. As there are no cupboard doors you can hear it clearly whenever water is used.  I have not helped his calculations by my antics with the dishwasher.

I can only hope that it will work out cheaper than the non-meter bill of £550 per year. Going through the bills I see that the water costs have increased by £42 over the last 3 years.  The water supplier says on a meter we should pay around £350 a year.  The difference has been ear-marked to install 2 more water butts for garden watering.

They sent a letter on Wednesday saying they had changed our monthly direct debit to £30 per month for the next 2 months.  On Thursday they sent a statement saying because we had changed mid year we were £58.92 in credit with them.  We expected another letter on Friday to explain one cancelled the other - nothing happened.  Suppose we will have to chase, and chase, and chase for clarity.  Hate direct debits it feels like you have no control of your bank account.

Apologies for keep changing the layout - I am looking for something exciting for the new year.

Friday, 15 December 2017

Branded product mistakes

Frugal in Essex/Retireewannabe's post today on eschewing branded products especially household ones made me smile today.  I have had a torrid week having brought a well known brand which simple did nothing it was supposed to.
Regular readers will know a few weeks ago I got a dishwasher. After using up the free tablets, I purchased a branded set of products as indicated (think race and the word for the end of a race - to avoid libel).  Imagine the horror of opening the machine to find everything inside covered in a gritty, grey marks.

Checked everything, salt, settings, rinse.  Tried to rewash several times - cutlery, saucepans, mixing bowl, plates and cups).  Took it all out and tried to wash it by hand.  Everything cloudy, gritty, scoured.  Ran it empty. Scrubbed the drain and filter. Panic.

Husband double checked everything and suggested this and that. I checked the internet and product reviews and found others had the same problem but no solutions.

Tried the product website - the customer contact help form did not work but there was a link to Facebook. Tried that and sent a message. What do I do? Is the machine ruined?

Their reply was to wash everything with vinegar to remove the gritty residue. I did this for about an hour today (90% success) and then had to go out in the freezing rain for fresh air. It smelt like an explosion in Nellie Pledge's pickling factory (you have to be a certain age to remember Nearest and Dearest).  Hardly a Christmas smell.

I also purchased a cleaner and ran the machine on a hot wash as the baskets felt gritty. Purchased eco brand tablets and tried another wash - SUCCESS!  I think I wasted loads of water and electricity and washing up liquid, and half a bottle of vinegar, trying to resolve this.

The manufacturer is offering me coupons for their products - I am not sure I can accept those as I have had no explanation as to why the product did not work. I would I trust them anyway?  I have no reassurances the product had not caused long term damage. My nerves are shredded!! I am still emailing them to resolve my issues!!!

I shall be double checking reviews of products before trusting main brands again.

Stretching the money

After Xmas expenses it is time to find some cheap and filling meals.  Reading another blog I was inspired to retry a soup I did in Novembe...