Monday, 26 June 2017

Back to Work

Eid Mubarak!

I went back to the office today. I'm feeling loads better, and my appetite is back even if my ability to consume as usual isn't. I only managed a piece of toast for breakfast and half a salad... but did nibble a couple of small pieces of pistachio barfi which someone had brought into the office to celebrate Eid.

I flipping love barfi! So sweet, so pretty!

Anyway, I weighed myself this morning and I have lost a full half stone! Obviously this is too fast and not good at all, but I'm a little bit delighted as I'm now no longer in the red zone. I'm not even in the horrible orange zone. Look at the stars, look how they shine for me, and all the things I wee... cause it is all yellooo!

Well let's see how I go.

I made a healthy sweet treat yesterday. The NHS website said bananas are a good bland food if you're recovering from food poisoning. Really, I thought. So I made banana and raspberry ice cream with crushed strawberries and a square of gingerbread chocolate I was given as a gift.

Honestly, tasted better than it looked, and my belly liked it. We ended up watching Bad Teacher. Oh yeah, it's awful, but in a good way.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Going Rogue

End of the weekend, and I am shattered!

I've been working on my editing today and then I popped to the allotment again. I didn't have a lot of energy as I didn't eat very much yesterday apart from a small bowl of pasta and allotment herb pesto, so fuelled up this morning on an egg sandwich.

So this is what it looks like today:

First raspberries appearing

A glut of blackcurrants, redcurrants and some gooseberries... as much as I could picked, prepped and frozen

The coriander is now all in flower, which means...

coriander seeds!

Planted out and sowed some runners.

I am not sure my aubergines worked, so there's a sneaky pinstripe plant on the end of the row, procured from Asda so at least I'll get some. Our neighbours gave us a load of comfrey today to make plant food, so that's prepped and will be ready in a few weeks.

We have a lot of potatoes growing, but I thought I'd go an find all the rogues... the little bibbly potatoes that sneaked into odd places round the plot and started growing. I got some rogue potatoes for our tea!

Not all of them were good, but hey, free food!

Tonight, I'm planning to relax and watch a film... I recorded Identity Thief and Bad Teacher. Two brainless comedies, just what the doctor ordered. But first I will whip up a quick banana and raspberry ripple ice cream. Need movie snacks!

Friday, 23 June 2017

My crazy year

So this is my first blog post since pretty much a year ago. We've had more elections than that. Yep, let that one sink in.

Unfortunately I wasn't up to blogging much last year. I wanted this blog to be about positivity, and for a while I felt that if I was going to be writing anything it would sound like I was documenting the opposite. I tried to stay chipper through things, hence the two or three spaced out blogs from the year before, but it wasn't really working. That sounds like a repeat of what I might have written before.  Well, yes...

I think we jumped in a bit early with trying to start a new business for OH. He did try, and his friends and I tried to help him, but overall... big loss. I've pretty much felt like I was spinning plates trying to keep things going, and as well, there was all the stress of my dad's TBI.

Now, we are kind of scraping along and are playing catch up with bills and things, but work is going well, OH has a new job and that's also going well.

Time to start finding me again.

So, this is where we are: soon to be a duo-earning household, with a few more debts to chase down, no working vehicles at the moment, no washing machine (!!!) -  my friend is being an angel and taking our big loads while I'm doing a few hand washes between times.

...And my I take a moment here to praise the virtues of Savon de Marseilles - proper French laundry soap, smells lushly clean and is excellent for working on the bits of your clothes that need the most work, you know... pits, collars, crotches 😂. Try to find it online, I bet you'll only find the rustic-looking green and off-white cube-shaped bars, oh so vintage and swanky and expensive. I picked mine up in a French supermarket for about €1. Soap!

Right, Stepford Wife moment over.

I was planning to make my first blog de retour about the journey I was going to be making this weekend. I was off to a friend's 50th party in Gloucestershire, and found that the best way of getting here from Northampton with no vehicle turned out to be your normal bus. Bus! It was going to be quite an adventure... however, I've had a touch of food poisoning this week which has put paid to me travelling anywhere. I put being ill down to: a) the heatwave this week b) my inability to turn down free food. I think it was down to some slightly warm sandwiches I had at my writers group meeting this week.

The irony, this week I said I would go back to being veggie apart from where I had been catered for as a non-veggie. I thought it was ham. Turns out, may have been very wrong prawn...

Instead, I can share with you some progress pics from the allotment. Enjoy!

What a mess!

Herbs in May, looking weedy
The darling spuds of May.
A little bit neater as I plant the peas and aubergines

Strawberries, rhubarb, redcurrants and blackcurrants and some of the herbs. Those spuds look nearly ready too!
A bit less crazy.... still loads to do.

Friday, 22 July 2016

The Bostin' Life Episode 3.

Hello, Here is my audio blog, which I'm calling The Bostin Life. I made a much cleaner version than this with a cool musical intro and outro, but the file size was too big for my host. More's the pity.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Delicious Things That Can Poison or Sting!**

Hello everybody! I'm feeling pretty cheery today as I've managed to get a lot of creative bits and bobs done this weekend: some writing, rehearsals for a show I'm in this month... and these foodie lovelies.

We've been feeling the pinch a bit  as we've launched OH's new career and had to pay out a fair whack for that, just as we've also had to do a lot of travelling to see a family member in hospital. So hey ho, it's June, the sun is shining (oh heck, that's a lie, it's been stormy all day) and we've not got much spare.

Never mind... we've been making the most of what we've got.

In the picture, you see rhubarb liqueur. Made from homegrown rhubarb, stewed and syruped in a slow cooker. We used the stewed fruit used for desserts, and bottled the liquor with about half vodka. This means it's sweeter and a bit less potent than regular rhubarb vodka, so you could have it neat over ice or with a tonic. I think with all the booze and sugar it should keep well, but I've got it in the fridge. Yummy!

And the green stuff is my ever awesome nettle pesto. I gather my nettles from a patch at the nature reserve fringed by triffid-tall thistles and nettles that I think most dog walkers would be scared of. My peasant's pesto is made of  about three fists of mixed blanched nettles, one garlic clove, one slice of wholemeal bread, French-toasted, a lump of leftover French cheese, and whizzed together with rapeseed oil - or regular vegetable oil as it tends to be these days. I stirred it into some veggie spaghetti the other night - the spaghetti was cooked in the nettle stock from blanching the leaves for extra flavour. If you've never eaten nettles, they are more spinach than spinach. Awesome free things!

Talking of free, I'm not really one for dumpster diving, but I procured some overripe bananas by someone who couldn't contemplate using them, as I said it was such a waste to throw good food away. Some went into smoothies, some went into a cake*, but my favourite thing to do with overripe bananas is to make super-healthy ice cream.

How do you do that? Well, chop up the banana into pieces and freeze it. Just before you want to eat the ice cream, take it out of the freezer so it thaws a bit. For 3 medium bananas, I added a dessert spoon of smooth peanut butter for a nice texture and flavour (you can do without if you don't have/don't like/can't eat peanuts). Then whizz it  in the food processor until it looks like soft ice cream! Simple, lovely.

Anyway, thought I'd share those with you.

*the cake was a Hairy Dieters recipe. Got the book from the library. We're still eating said cake, but the recipe calls for waaaay too many bananas, I think. Took ages to cook. Probably the worst cake I've ever made. Will just make the one from my Good Housekeeping book in future.

**Yes, nettles are the stingers. Rhubarb is lovely, but you know never to eat the leaves, right?

Monday, 2 May 2016

A Traditional Walk in the Drizzle

 I just thought I'd share my photos from today's Mayday walk. IT'S TRADITION!

We could have taken the car and explored the Northamptonshire countryside, but we decided to use pure foot power and walked to Abington Park.

Well, one tradition you have to follow when you go to Abington Park is go and see the birdies. There's an aviary there full of lovebirds, budgerigars, canaries, quails, bantams, zebra finches and other things that go "meep meep" (not Roadrunner). And of course, the fabulous peacocks. Just a couple of the blue fellas there today. There's usually a white one as well. Don't know where he's gone.

The park is a fantastic arboretum. Just look at all these trees.

 And this one is awesome. There's OH, waving.

 Abington Park sits on the site of a medieval village. Some of the structures on the park date back to those times, but there's also this fantastic house which was built in the fifteenth century and is now a museum. There are plays held in the courtyard every summer - I've even been in one of them!
Shakespeare's granddaughter Elizabeth Barnard lived there, and is buried at St Paul's, also on the park site.

There being lots of trees, there are also millions of squirrels. How many can you spot?

 And some of them are very bold and will come right up to you.

There are some really good play parks for the kids, and lots of gym stuff for, erm, adults, too. This one makes you think that gravity has stopped working.

When we got down to the boating lake, it started to pitter patter.

 All these photos were taken in the rain. Very nice lake though. We got chatting to the bailiff who was fishing and had been landing some small tench and perch before the rain. We learned that there are some 20lb carp in this lake. A good fishing lake that OH can walk to with only £15 license fee per year! I think I know what to get him for his birthday now.

Finally, a drizzly picture of "The Pigeonry". More than a simple dovecot, this was originally built as a water tower to pump water for the manor house.
We put up with the rain for a bit before deciding to duck inside for a hot chocolate. No ice creams from the van today. When the rain showed no sign of abating, we braved it again and I think a suggestion of popping into another pub on the way home was briefly considered. Luckily, just as we neared said pub, the rain stopped and we sensibly decided to go home for a nice cuppa instead. Temptation avoided!

Well, we may have been soggy, but it was a nice, energizing walk. Think we did about 5 miles. My knee might need a bit of Voltarol, mind.

We settled in, and watched Being John Malkovitch which we recorded yesterday. Bloody hell, why have we not seen this film before? It is extremely weird and just a bit brilliant. I like weird, me.

Friday, 29 April 2016

The Return of the Wench

Hello everyone. It's been a while, but I've been properly missing the art of oversharing that is keeping a blog.

For a long time, I've not felt like writing, and I thought I might become an audio blogger instead. However, whilst writing things can lead to whimsical musings, tangents and even accidental poignancy, I felt that there was something about the medium of voice-based broadcasting that compelled me to tart up and slick down my personal life musings. Not quite me...That said it was jolly fun to do, so I am feeling tempted to do this and a podcast. Yes, podcast - not audio-blog. And if I'm going to do one of those I might as well make it something worth listening to. Useful and entertaining! (Hopefully.) So look out soon for Confessions of a Frugal Wench. Or another name. I can't think of anything better right now. Froogy McFrugalface?  We'll see.

So since my last update, my life has been more fraught than a soap opera.  Last year I must have angered the Piggy Bank Gods as I had to take on more debt to help OH buy his house and make urgent repairs. As a lifelong careful person, it was a horrible feeling taking on such a large and long-term responsibility. I've worked hard though, and have been able to chip away at it and overpay occasionally, too. It's still huge and scary and will be for some time, but I'm doing all right.

Secondly, it's been a tough year for OH. His health and happiness are my main focus(es), so everything I do is to make sure he is happy and healthy. One of the other big things I have done is to support him in a new career as the old one was a bit pants and driving him crazy. He is a market trader now, and it's early days but just look at that big grin. Job done. It does mean our income is greatly reduced for now while I support him as a business start up, but again, we're fine. Fine, I tell thee!

I've had another huge crisis in my life this year concerning a family member nearly dying and subsequently being very poorly. I don't want to share any more about that, just to say it's had me thinking more about what is precious to me and my life priorities.

I've had to make a bit of space in my life for all these huge issues, and have eased off on the work a bit while I gather my wits. I think giving myself that space has enabled me to start thinking a bit more creatively and recently I've been wrestling with novel plot points and scratching at stories. Makes a change from just working on other people's, and I do believe I like it.

So, low-cost living is newly in focus. Whilst this is proving slightly incompatible with the delights of the pub, I still wanna have a good time. Well, I'm back into reading - big time - and I'm currently reading 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough, with an eye on Chris Beckett's Mother of Eden and Adrian Tchaikovsky's Children of Time next.

I'm trying to grow my Aldi seeds. Think the potatoes are going okay, but nothing is happening at all with the French beans, cauliflower and cabbage. Oh garden, woe is me!

I've been knitting too. I gave up on that fiddly collar, but I'm now working on a jumper made with this gorgeous rainbow Aran - again, from Aldi. The pattern is a vintage one I was given as a present. I swore a lot at this one when I started too, but it looks great now. Aldi wool is awesome. I'm going to have a proper Aran jumper for under £15!!

I am also massively into my true crime podcasts.  Serial, Undisclosed, Truth and Justice, Real Crime Profile and Breakdown. All free, and highly addictive.

Anyway, they say the best things in life are free. What are the free things you do that make you happy? (Keep it clean!)