Saturday, 11 July 2020

Simple Days and Simple Pleasures

I am sure that you, like myself, have been very reflective during this period of enforced lockdown and isolation and the varying degrees in between which we have all faced during these very surreal and often frightening times.  

I have to admit that I have a bit of a careless side to myself,  to the point of actual sabotage, c'est la vie and all that and fate will decide.  

Well that's all well and good for me when it's just my life and effects no one else; however as I now care for my Dad full time and I value his health and well being very highly,  I find myself these days and very naturally putting someone else's wellbeing before my own and I also find myself getting scared unlike I never did.  

As such I have instinctively abided and exceeded Government advice regarding the health and wellbeing and isolation of those of his age (86 years old) and who have like him a myriad of health issues.  

So for the past 4 months (before Government dictated) myself and Dad have been in lockdown and we have now both got a little stir crazy; we seriously haven't been anywhere, well I have been out in the car about once a fortnight to pick up a click and collect food shop from Tescos, but apart from that the outside has literally another planet that we have yet to discover!!!  Dad however has been in complete lockdown.

Things however have now changed as this week Dad became very low, to the point of depression.  Sometimes you have to weigh up physical versus mental health,  he told me that he's 86 years old, that he has lived his life and there is no point him living any longer if he can't see and hug his children and grandchildren.  It was for me a bit of a reality check I was so focussed on protecting him from this awful virus that I lost sight of the point of living,  and he's absolutely right, you really have to balance mental and physical health and determine what is most important; context being everything.

 So this week I decided to relax a little and took Dad out onto the sea front for an ice cream which was completely socially distanced.  

I also had my sister and her son (his daughter / grandchild) over for the day in the garden this week and today my brother and his daughter (son and grandchild) came for a couple of hours to see him.  

The result at the end of this week is that he is so much brighter and healthier and he feels life is worth living.  

So what I would say in the final analysis is that we all have to navigate these very unsure waters as best we can, we can take onboard the best advice,  but ultimately we need to do what is best for ourselves and our own. 

Life is ultimately short and especially if you don't feel you have that many more years to come, you must do what is best for your own mental and physical well being without compromising the health of others.  Please stay safe and do what is ultimately best for you and your loved ones.  Love to all xxx

Thursday, 25 June 2020

It's Been a While

So it has been a while in this mad and crazy COVID19 world.  How are you doing?  I hope you and yours remain safe and well.  We have well and truly been in a lockdown bubble which I began before Government Advice when I saw what was happening in Italy.  Dad is 86 and has Parkinsons, Kidney Disease and a myriad of other ailments so I couldn't take any chances.

I decided (as hubby is a key worker and has worked throughout) that myself and Dad would lock down and maintain social distancing with hubby.  So far so good, Dad is well and robust helped by the good weather of late and he can sit on the patio to get fresh air with his radio and paper.

But over 40,000 deaths is 40,000 too many and I feel for them and those they left behind.  We can only do what we can do.

I know and understand why the Government want to restart the economy so reopening restaurants, pubs and air corridors to key countries for holidays.  Personally until there is better evidence ( a single day without deaths would be great( cure or vaccine, we remain incredibly cautious.  I will continue to carry out only essential shopping and we won't meet people unless its outdoors and at least 2 metres apart (in spite of the new 1 metre rule).  Death is ultimately inevitable we all know that but lets not give it an upper hand.  Stay safe, keep well, do what you think and feel is right.  Personally gloves and mask for when I do have to go out are firmly part of my wardrobe.  Every little helps I'm sure.

Wednesday, 25 December 2019

Did You Enjoy Your Christmas Dinner?

Well Happy Christmas one and all.

For most of us, the dinner is the main event, particularly after the Childhood present frenzy has left us.

In the last few days, in most of the National Newspapers, there has been an article about a grandmother of 4 who charges her family £35 per head for Christmas dinner (booze included).  

I was a little taken aback,  I know as a frugal person that to share the cost of Christmas is a very sound thing to do and I do applaud that, however personally I prefer a Jacobs Join kind of affair where everyone brings a dish but if people prefer not to, to just share the actual cost of ingredients is grand and not to make a profit.  Article from one of the papers below

What concerned me was, and if you are to believe reports, she makes a £150 profit from this from 12 of her nearest and dearest.  I have a problem with this, but I also do question her actual costs and if that figure is in itself accurate?   Based upon the Maths and again if its how its reported, which may not be the truth, it works out at (after deducting her profit) her actual cost being £22.50 per head. 

I looked at the picture of her Christmas dinner below and I was quite frankly aghast.  Unless each person drinks at least 4 bottles of wine each I can’t see where the money is spent? 

Her dinner and I don’t mean to disrespest anyone but if I was served that, which looks like frozen Yorkshire puds with Paxo stuffing and frozen peas and hardly any meat and with a dribble of gravy I would send it back.

So I just want to show you an actual homemade and frugal Christmas Dinner (apologies I forgot to take photos of the puds but they were drowned in Brandy Sauce so all you would see was white) which came in at £5.54 per head using quality products and frugal tips. 

So our starters

Homemade Smoked Salmon Mousse Parcels with a little side salad of cherry tomatoes, spring onion and balsamic glaze with 3 pieces of Tesco’s French Toast came in for 44p per portion.  Admittedly due to sister making the salmon starter in return for 12 of my mince pies which cost me £5.90 to make so cost me in actuality 94p per portion.

Homemade Chicken and Ham Terrine (recipe courtesy of Slimming World and so flavoursome and meaty) with a little side salad of cherry tomatoes, spring onion, a few pickles and balsamic glaze came in for £1.74 per portion with two thick whopping slices of terrine plentiful for any starter. 

Main Meal

We don’t like Turkey so I bought a medium chicken from Tesco’s for £2.95 cooked to perfection it turned out uber Moist.  A gammon joint (which I glazed in Honey) was £2.99 ( noting I still have lots of meat for sandwiches even after the main event.  I bought I bag of Tesco’s Redfearn Carrots and Parsnips for 19p each (Made carrot and swede mash), Potatoes, for £1.59 which provided loads for both Mash and roast potatoes and still left over.  A cauliflower for 29p (Made cauli cheese).  

Sausages (quality Irish sausages 12 for £2). Finest Tesco’s Streaky Bacon 12 Slices again for £2, ends up with whopping pigs in blanket for 34p each (don’t do the little chipolatas).  Stuffing (no paxo involved ! purely pork meat, herbs, onions, breadcrumbs, seasoning) free from Sister.  Gravy granules (bisto finest well it is Christmas, 25 per head) .  The actual cost of the main meal – photo below turned out to be £2.98 per head.


Christmas Pudding courtesy of Iceland it was a great pudding soaked in Cider, brandy and Sherry and was really lush, boozy, fruity and moist for just £1.19 and will feed 4 people,  Topped off with 500ml, (again for 4 people more than enough) of Brandy Sauce at £1.25 per pot.  Dessert ends up being 61p per head.

So for a fabulous 3 course meal and a couple of things I bartered and exchanged my homemade goodies for (which I've included my costs for ) actual cost a total of £5.54 per head, and I don’t mean to be bitchy but I think my Christmas dinner looks better than the photo the papers provided and everyone thought tasted fabulous with very full bellies. 

So where did her other £30 per head go? It is reported that this includes booze and other things but crikey unless you have 12 alcoholics around your dinner table,  I can’t fathom how its spent and I personally would be a little disgruntled if any family member of mine tried to charge me £35 for a dinner?   

So what I would say is you can have a fabulous, lush, indulgent and quality Christmas meal for little cost;  you just have to be a savvy shopper and also share your skills with friends/family.
Perhaps if she did a Jacobs Join as I mentioned above and other members of her family brought a dish, even if they can’t cook, bring some wine or cheese etc,  you can have a lovely family meal and with booze without it costing an earth and certainly not everyone having to find £35 each. 

Friday, 20 December 2019

Love your Library

Dad and I have just got back from our weekly trip to the library, it’s a recent thing we do.  Dad loves reading; my siblings and I a few years ago all clubbed together and bought him an Ipad.  

He’s got a very active mind, thank god and has always had a passion for politics and history.  Via his Ipad he reads all the major newspapers each day as well as Reuters the news agency.  He’s a great person to have at a dinner table because he is so well read, he literally will know something about whatever any guest talks about. 

I love my kindle, which is my must have when we go on holiday as in a week on holiday I can easily read a book a day.  However it can get expensive and I did get into the bad habit of buying about 3 books month, as via your kindle it is so easy, literally just a click but it totted up to easily £18 per month. 

In Lancashire our County Council was in the process of closing all local library's to save money, it ended up losing the Labour Administration the election as the uproar was unprecedented with the new Conservative Council promising they will protect them and they remain open.

It really did give me food for thought, as its one of those things that we just take for granted and one of those things that unless we use it, we really do risk losing it.  I decided that we would support our local library as best we can and at the same time save me oodles of cash.  So each week Dad and I go and browse through the shelves and pick up a new book.

It really does amaze me that (and I know we all pay taxes etc) that we get the opportunity to get books and enjoy what is a great hobby, for free.  So love your library, use it, cherish it and enjoy a free hobby.

Thursday, 19 December 2019

Left Over Roast Lamb

Last week Tesco’s had legs of lamb for half price so I bought a whopper for £11.  Now I slow roast this in the oven on low heat with onion, carrot and stock for about 5 hours. 

We have relatives coming tomorrow and I’m making lunch of shepherds pie, I prefer to make shepherds pie with shredded leg of lamb rather than mince.  So for this one meat joint I have managed to make enough shepherd’s pie mix for 2 pies each feeding 6 people.  Dad had a hot lamb and onion sandwich for his lunch. 

I’ve used the rest, in a lamb and veg soup which has made 6 portions.  Taking into account the cost of the veg and stock used (£3.18).  I have made 13 hearty meals for 75p each. 

So this is my Lamb and Veg soup its one of those left over chuck it all in meals and it really does taste delish. 

I start off by boiling the lamb bone in water with an onion, carrot, herbs and black pepper with a lamb stock cube which is the basis of the soup stock for about 40 minutes creating a really rich stock.

Gently fry a chopped onion, 2 sticks of celery, 2 carrots, one diced pototo, add in a litre of the stock you've made and simmer for 30 minutes.  But you can add in any left over veg you have.   

I take out half the mixture and blend to provide a bit of thickness to the soup.  Add in left over chopped lamb meat and simmer again for 10 minutes.  Add seasoning to taste.  Uber flavoursome.  

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Fair Exchange Is No Robbery

My sister and I have our own skills, I like to think we are both great cooks, we are each other's harshest critic and wouldn’t think twice of ripping our culinary attempts to shreds (ha, ha) the fact that we both survive unscathed is real testament.

We have however our strengths, mine is primarily baking not just sweet but savoury (my sausage rolls are legendary)  hers is wholly savoury.

So in exchange of my homemade mince pies (pastry recipe courtesy of Paul Hollywood, really rich butter pastry and the lightest and most delicious I’ve ever tasted, its really hard to handle due to the amount of butter but its worth it).   Mince meat courtesy of me, lots of fresh orange zest and brandy and mixed spice hic.  

In return I get several smoked salmon starters which is her homemade salmon mouse wrapped in smoked salmon like a little parcel, as well as the meatiest pork, sage and onion stuffing.   

To buy the quality of Salmon starter and stuffing that she provides me would easily cost £18 in the shop.  The mince pies I make her from a bakers (obviously you can get cheaper pre packaged pies from the supermarket for a snip at the price, but not the size and quality) could easily cost you £12.  However costs me £5.90 to make.  I really feel I’m up on the deal ;) , so share your skills and save some cash 

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Make It Yourself and Save Pounds

We have four graves which we visit at Christmas of parents and grandparents we have sadly lost.  My hubby likes to lay a Christmas Wreath as a mark of respect and in previous years I have bought these.  This year I looked in our local garden centre where they were retailing for a startling £26.99 each yikes.  Even the cheapest at Aldi which I didn't like as it was a bit too jazzy were retailing at £9.99 each.

So I decided to bite the bullet and make my own.  I bought 4 rattan wreath rings from Ebay at 99p each and used foliage, holly and berries from our garden.  I am lucky in that respect, we have a very mature garden with big evergreen hedges, trees, bushes and shrubs and 3 very large holly and berry bushes which look lovely at this time of year. 

I bought 2 oranges and sliced these and put them on a baking tray on a low heat in the oven for 2.5 hours to dry them out.  I added a bit of old ribbon (I always save ribbon and wrapping paper etc from any gifts we get over the years) and e voila my own hand made, home made wreaths.  For a bit of my time and at a cost of £1.14 each, £4.56 for all four.  Hubby is delighted and I have to say so I am I, I've made 4 for half the price of one of the cheapest ones I could find, now that's a saving. 

Simple Days and Simple Pleasures

I am sure that you, like myself, have been very reflective during this period of enforced lockdown and isolation and the varying degrees in ...