Thursday, 31 January 2013

My plans for affordable food (make it up as I go along)

I have been reading posts from menu planning Mums with admiration. It is very appealing, and it is stops the ridiculous food waste apparently endemic in most households it has to be applauded.

I realised that I have a very different approach (no surprises then). I reckon that I save up to £50 a month by gently eeking out my groceries, and refusing to do a 'weekly' shop and instead just buying when I absolutely have to. I can usually get a day or so of good food from what, on first inspection, looks like a barren fridge.

I have to think on my feet, sometimes when I start cooking I don't even know exactly where I am going!

To do this I need to stock up on a few basics. I start with a veg box (I alternative between veg and fruit & veg boxes as I am a bit remiss with eating fruit). I am not dogmatic about organise, but the box is a good discipline and I have even learnt to like beetroot! Here are a few links that I find useful What you should and shouldn't buy organic and at a glance table of what to and not to buy organic

I was rather freaked out my the horse meat saga so it has strengthened my resolve to shop only at our farm shop for meat. Poor DB would like meat three meals a day, but for a variety of reasons we tend to eat very little the Husbter has just signed up to a green scheme at work to eat 40% less. The localfarm shop is great, the lamb comes from their farm, the beef comes form his brother's form less than 20 miles away and they make their own sausages (okay they use bought spice mixes, but they do make random concoctions too - marmite sausages anyone?) They also have a children's petting farm so we can buy some feed and toddle off to chat to the aaaaas and chooks.

I do an on-line supermarket shop, but I see how long I go between shops. I tend to be eek out more from my existing ingredients than I think I can. The benefits of an online shop is that you can have a budget and stick to it - there is no embarrassment in putting back those expensive biscuits that jumped into the trolley, and no pissed off children to cajole.

I also go to the Chinese supermarket because it is fun! I don't want my children to be scared off new things, so as well as my invaluable wonton wrappers and gyoza pancakes, we always try something new. The only rules are that we ask how to cook / prepare the goodies, and if we don't like it I do not create a drama. I do not want meals to become a battle zone!

Also, I volunteer at the amazing Truefood Coop. Mainly because it is fun, and it is the kind of place that if you don't support it will disappear. It is an organic food cooperative, great affordable and ethical food and way more fun to shop at than the supermarket. You can fill your own kitchen canisters, avoiding packaging waste and have a cuppa while you add up your bill (much of it works on trust); if you have little ones with you they can push their own toy trolley or sit in the toy and book corner.

Finally, is shop at Costco. Food for Mr Woof pays for the membership fee, then I shop carefully for other bits and pieces. I tend to buy cheddar and goats cheese. The goats cheese is immediately portioned, wrapped and put in the freezer. It is also great for book sets for little people - worthy party bag fillers :)

My freezer etiquette: always divide and wrap individual portions. Keep track of what goes in and check the Hubster goes not fill it with unidentified brown bags (fortunately mainly chilli or curry) ... I fail at this.

My secret stash of magic food:
Freezer - chicken, salmon, prawns, peas, goats cheese, wonton wrappers or similar and fish fingers (most bought then they are on a special deal).
Fridge - carrots, butter and chorizo
Store cupboard - passata (checked for salt content), flours (bread, wholemeal, plain, self raising - and now I am truly posh pasta flour), dried fruit ( apricots and dates etc), cashew nuts, peanut butter, sweet chilli sauce!


Up to mischief under the food table at a party

There are many forms of loneliness. The worst kind of loneliness is that feeling when you are surrounded by people. That feeling of being present but invisible and out of touch with the nuances of what is being said, feeling in need of an interpreter despite understanding the individual words.

Do you know the feeling: being in a room, which seems to be filled to capacity with just the two others you stumbled upon? They are on a wave length, try as you might you just can't tune into their space. I get that feeling and I grin from ear to ear! I have an amazing relationship with my children, but I think it is great that they can go to a zone where no adult can join them without breaking the spell. Whether the Pickle is teaching DB a craft activity (yes, it is messy) or they are dashing in and out of the shower like demented penguins, it is great to see that bond grow.

As for loneliness, this can be pretty much banished. To know that you really belong, to feel unconditional love is a security blanket that can stretch across continents. It took a while for me to develop my own bonds, but I have a handful of friends, my cottage family and, big sigh - finally, my Mum who I can count on; not to rush to my side, but simply for me to know they are there so that I can find my own strength to overcome any obstacle.

I was going to end it there, but then I saw a pic of me and Lydia Swan. Ms Swan was the first friend I made when released from the straight jacket of school. We had assumed we would always be the proverbial round pegs in square holes, then we met and our idiosynacies became admirable talents and we never looked back.

One evening we were visiting the Gorgeous Ms D and we were talking long into the night, so we bedded down for the longhaul. Just as Ms D wondered if we had an 'off' setting we drifted off to sleep mid sentance. Her sigh of relief was quickly replaced my a squeak of stunned exasperation, to a beat we started to snore at one another. This continued all night long. The next morning we simply yawned and continued where we had left off the night before, so Ms D firmly kicked us out and finally got some sleep. That has to be a very special kind of a bond!

Nostalgic photos. Ms Swan and I almost being thrown out of a bar and later in the bathroom trying to survive a hangover. Remember photobooths? Snaps in the photobooth used to be proof that you were best mates before camera phones! Ten years on and you can see us visibly aging at one of the dinners at a cottage before my 30th Birthday, joined by boyfriend and the talented Miss Fit. All three ladies are now Godparents and the boyfriends now husbands.

I feel a little guilty about not mentioning my first 'marriage' to DIY Janet - but that will have to wait for another day.

This was written inspired by a prompt from The Gallery. Click on the badge to the right and enjoy the other posts.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

January glossybox

I was inspired to review the box by another blog - it was a great post but too factual. So here I am going to offer my biased, uncensored and unsponsored opinion. (I paid in full for the products but all images are captured from the
Glossybox site). Reading this through one day later is seems a mite snarky but what the hell - i can only add that i am looking forward to the next box).

Packaging is bound to set my pulse racing. A box of treats for me! This one was themed 'detox' - meh? Mum to a baby, retox would be more fun!

Gee thanks Glossybox. I have had this sample before, from you or it dropped from a magazine. A face musk that needs me to sit still for 15 mins, fiddling about with horrible metallic pouches - no thanks! Must I feel grateful for paying for a crappy marketing sample? Do I look that desperate? Bin it with a snarl!

Interesting...mmm. It looks unctuous and goes on like...a pumice stone. It feels so puritanical it must be doing some good. I guess it can do no harm adding this to my tool kit.

A toner. Well as Sister Sally of the Immaculate Complexion (beauty journalist Sali Hughes ) says that serums have taken over from toner, and even if I misquote her I am sticking with it. Besides, I like my old faithful LIz Earle spray toner with none of the faff of the needing cotton wool like this one. I love the ingredients though, so I may reconsider.

A lip balm, a very nice lip balm. The flyer reminds me that lips can show signs of aging so we should look after them(self edit - this is factually incorrect, but it is what i remembered, so the senitment stands). Well, if that is the case **** off Glossy Box, I'll return to my Viva Glam lippy and look a mad old bird. When I forget the tone of the flyer, I think I will enjoy this.

I love Paul Mitchell products. I look forward to using this. I have a little pile of soaps awaiting their turn, I will enjoy this after the gorgeous jasmine soap that I have set my heart on using next.

Oh, I forgot, there was also a 'glossbox' branded eye patch in pink satin. How could I forget that? Do they slip the extras in when they know the box is a bit crap? Apparently the Birch Box was a bit shot this month too, but looking at it I am not sure. Will I keep subscribing? For the time being, as everywoman I almost cancel they come up with a corker, so I will let you know next month.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Time just flu...

I have been on a blogging hiatus. It started with a bug, and as I reenter the world after another bout of snuffles and coughs I am blogging again. I blame the angry pixie, he filled my head with cotton wool and six inch nails, leaving a raiser blade in my throat for good measure. The bastard!

The more time I spent away from my blog the more I questioned why i write. Internal monologues are most intractable. I have been writing off and on for a few years, but still feel like a newby, struggling to find a voice.

I want to be honest, but does that make the blog worthy and lead me to reveal too much. Should I just work back from a punch line. Should I edit more heavily? The Bloggess writes six posts for every one she publishes.

So why do I do it? Exhibitionism? No. I want to write and have the discipline of getting some words onto paper. If I edited and subedited it would end up by being tortured navel gazing. It is part dairy and part evidence that I exist - I feel an invisible woman, not Sarah anymore but my life is all a reflection of my family and animals.

Primo Levi wrote that before you can write you need to have something to write about. He was a genius but he also had rather more raw material than anyone should ever have to endure. Instead all I can offer is the view of earth form planet Sarah where I enjoy the pretty good life, complete with children, craft and cooking.

Monday, 21 January 2013

New year

Flu, lethargy, Christmas, loosing my voice, too much reading and not enough writing. I am slowly getting used to the New Year and it is time that I let out my first blogging squeak.

Getting ready for 2013 i have even weighed myself, and after i shovelled a couple of pounds of dust of the scales I was amazed that I was the perfect weight ...for a six foot man. I did check my BMI and I was pathetically pleased that I was classed as over weight not obese.

I am pretty healthy, I walk briskly for at least an hour, often two, a day and I eat a healthy vegetable packed diet. There are a few myths that I must quash: food from the children's plates have no calories, i must taste the food as a go along...with a table spoon, if I eat really quickly my body won't catch up.

I once made a resolution to change, it was not for the New Year, but on a mid summer solstice. Typical of me really, but it was over a decade ago and it still resonates today.

Auntie Goth was interested in paganism and wanted to go to 'a henge' for mid summer, and as I think that you should explore all beliefs except racism and putting pineapple on pizza I decided to help. DIY Janet lives just up the road from Avebury, so a plan was hatched. Sadly AG was off in Eastern Europe so Janet and I went on a clueless pilgrimage regardless.

Determined to be there at dawn we seemed to set off shortly after the pub closed. There was the gentle sounds of cloaks swishing and intense murmuring. We thought we saw a stone move, but it was just a sheep ambling past, baffled at the influx of the great unwashed. When the Druids started to turn up full of purpose it highlighted our cluelessness, so we ambled off. Before we left we decided to make a resolution, it seemed that we should do something profound.

So have a made a resolution to loose weight? well, I have bought myself a rather fine red nail varnish from. Illamasqua and it is in the Hubster's custody until I loose half a stone. I intend to raise the bribery stakes as the year goes on.