Food and Budget Update: 15/10 to 21/10/2016

Time for a recap of food and spending. I’m making a concerted effort to eat some meals out of the freezer and I did some food prep by making a batch of bread rolls and a loaf of bread.


I went to Lidl with Ma and spent £5.60. I didn’t take a photo of it but this is what I got:

cherry tomatoes, carrots, parsnips, red onions, butternut squash, 4 baking potatoes, plums, 2 large pots of plain yoghurt, mozerella, a pint of milk, plain flour, 2 tins plum tomatoes

Later I also bought three peppers, some pate and a tub of coleslaw which came to £3. So a total spend of £8.60.

There were two little courgettes from the allotment and lots of green tomatoes that are ripening by the kitchen window.


We on Saturday, Ma and I had plum crisp and yoghurt for breakfast. That and a packet of crisps was all I ate for the day!

On Sunday, I had leftover saute and an egg for breakfast and then lunch at Middletons in Watford. I had steak & chips and chocolate birthday cake for pudding.img_5100Monday’s breakfast a slice of toast. I had a cheese and cucumber roll with cut up carrots and cucumber for lunch with plum crisp and yoghurt as a ‘snack’. I had lentil bolognaise with pasta for dinner.Tuesday was more of the same for breakfast and lunch. I came home on that night to plumbing chaos and the news that I had no heating or hot water. Joy. Wanting to cut down on the washing up and being by this point in the day just done with it, I had toast, pate and cut up vegetables. Wednesday’s breakfast and lunch were a repeat of Tuesday’s and Ma come over on Wednesday night to help me with the post boiler installation cleaning. She is wonderful, fortunately there wasn’t that much to do so we drank wine and had pasta and chilli for dinner. Thursday, we had team building, I had plum crisp for breakfast and a baked potato and chilli for lunch. After the ‘golf’ there were drinks and snacks so I didn’t eat dinner because I wasn’t hungry

I finished the week with Friday night pizza as is traditional.

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Life Happened: Busy but you don’t know it

This week was supposed to be prosaic and a bit dull. After last week’s coughing frenzy, I wanted a quiet, easy week and I thought that’s what I got but as it turned out, it was quite eventful, it was also the first week in ages when I felt well and got things done because I had the physical and emotional energy to do them.Monday morning commute, honestly it was nice to be up to it.Rainy October evenings are not fun.Boiler replacement happened on Tuesday and Wednesday. Which meant that the cupboards either side of the washing machine and surfaces needed to be cleared on Monday night. Not pictured is everything piled up on the kitchen table! I got home on Wednesday to find the plumber having a nightmare and the news that I had no heating (not too much of a problem) or hot water (bigger problem). I do know that many, if not the majority, of the human race survives without regular access to running water, let alone hot running water and not having it for one night was a completely survivable, first world problem and once I had put the pants of perspective on, I was just grumbly about the amount of chaos that two workmen can do to one tiny, tidy flat! I kept walking into rooms and needing to re-arrange things or tidy up!On Wednesday it was all done and my kitchen went back to the tidy, organised space it usually is although it did take me a while to work out where the thermostat was and how to programme the timer!

There was team building this week too. On Thursday, the team went to Swingers for drinks and miniature golf.img_5143img_5141After Thursdsay I was ready for the weekend so having to get up and go to work on Friday was a bit of a let down. However, I was glad to have done a complete five day week at work so all good.

Saturday started early for a 9am eye test, good news is no change in my eyesight, so no need for new glasses, which is a relief, my glasses are not cheap!

My plan was eye test, library, home, allotment. Alas I was early for the library, so I went to Tescos, where I bumped into Sue and had a brief catch up. Then I went to the library, which opened late!img_5162Books returned I walked home and then went to the allotment. Ma and I spent 4 hours, Ma weeded the top end and I dug over the bottom, we laid down weed fabric and I moved the rhubarb and the lavender. It was a beautiful day and there was a tiny bit of produce too!img_5171 On Sunday, I got to grips with the flat. Mostly the bedroom and the living room because they are the most neglected in terms of housework. I feel much better for it.img_5182Sarah R came round for a catch up on Sunday afternoon and Chelsea won 4-0, a good end to a good week.


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Friday Links

Happy Friday! It’s been a more eventful week, than I planned!

Me elsewhere, I’ve finally started posting on the Ealing Dean Allotment Society website. Meet the Plotholders, Volunteer Days

Women having abortions are sure about their decision. Yep.

The path to home ownership should not be inheritance.  What I have been saying for ages..

Last week, there was a bit of panic at the news that a gorilla had escaped from London Zoo. The truth of what happened is typically British. This is my favourite part of the whole thing

…while Kumbuka briefly explored the zookeeper area next door to his den, where he opened and drank five litres of undiluted blackcurrant squash.

The mystery of Chuck Tingle.

I think they’re going to agree the expansion of Heathrow and it’s wrong. Ok yes, I do have skin in the game, I’m ‘local’ to the airport and it sucks when the planes come overhead, to say nothing of the traffic pollution. But it’s not just that, why are we still planning only for the South East of England. There are (for the moment) three other countries in the Union and a whole heap of England that is just being ignored. Infrastructure development should start there. Start HS2 in the North to link those cities together, airport expansion in the middle of the country benefits most of it, so maybe Birmingham should have a bigger airport. Politicians need to think of the entire country not just London. I love my city but the country is unbalanced.

I can’t ignore the US elections so I’m putting it all here:

America’s new silent majority.

The danger that Trump is stirring up by crying ‘rigged’ I remember back in 2010 when there was no clear result as to who the government was and the negotiations between the various parties and while I was unhappy with the government we got, I was also grateful that there would be a peaceful transfer of power. I was especially grateful later in the year when it kicked off in Cote d’Ivoire after it’s general elections that November. So, either way, I’m worried about the result of the US presidential election because Trump is a man with no true appreciation of his country or its laws or the ideals, that while not always lived up to, were vital to its founding.

Speaking of which. Federal Judge Excoriates Florida’s “Obscene” “Undeclared War” on Voting Rights

I posted those earlier in the week and then on Wednesday night at the debate it got worse.

This recap is all tongue in cheek but is also seriously scary because Trump doesn’t care about anything other than himself.

It is worth remembering that Hitler was elected and Trump doesn’t care or understand the US Constitution, how the law and politics work or what kind of violence and chaos he provokes. He’s a man-child with more ego than brains.



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My Favourite Granola

I’ve been making this granola for a while, a while ago I tried to link to the recipe (from London Bakes) and it had vanished.

I love it and I have fiddled a bit with it so I’m posting it here for no other reason than it is really good and should be somewhere I can find it easily and because I eat more granola in autumn and winter so it’s time to make a batch!

I know that I cook more from scratch than most people but I don’t believe that homemade always means better, there’s loads of things that I buy, mayonnaise for example, I’m sure that if you make it yourself it’s nicer but I don’t eat a lot of it and don’t have time, so it’s just easier to buy some.

Home made granola though, is one of the things that I prefer to make at home, because it’s really simple to make, usually cheaper and lets you control the amount of sugar. My go-to bought version is this one from Dorset Cereals and it’s pretty good, it’s also pretty expensive when you consider the cost of the basic ingredients.

One of the reasons for my deep love of this granola is that it’s a basic granola made with store cupboard ingredients that you can use as a building block. The original recipe suggests cacao nibs and if you can find them AND have the money for them in your budget, they are a fabulous addition, adding a subtle chocolatey crunch. You could also use this as a basic recipe and add the dried fruit of you choice after you’ve baked it, I’ve added dried cherries and dried apricots for different batches and they work well (I have a friend who makes this version with cacao nibs and adds dried bananas, which is great for breakfast and amazing on ice cream!)  You can customise it to suit you.

I find for breakfast pots the non-fruit version works best and I’m sure it would be good eaten with milk if you like milk, (personally I think milk is the devil’s drink!)


3 cups of oats

1 cup mixed seeds

1/2 cup honey

1/3 cup sunflower oil

2 teaspoons vanilla paste or extract


  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or non stick mat.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 140C
  3. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and spread on baking sheets
  4. Bake in oven for 35 ish minutes, turning once during that time, until golden brown
  5. Remove from oven and leave to completely cool
  6. Once cool, transfer to containers.


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Allotment Adventures: Dying back and planning

Back in May, when I signed the agreement for the plot, I was worried because I’d missed the start of the growing season (March-April) and it was a bit of a rush to get the ground clear, sort out how I wanted to arrange things and get plants in the ground so we had some produce.

I still think we did really well but I now know that I missed a couple of things. One of those things was succession plantings, all our green beans came in one glorious 4 week burst. The other thing was planning for autumn/winter growing. I completely failed to consider leeks, cabbages, parsnips and all the other vegetables that you start off in May/June and plant in over the summer to get you through autumn and winter.

I did manage to plant perpetual spinach, spring onions, chard, beetroot and winter leaves that will provide something in autumn but that was about it.img_5082

I’m not too fussed, it’s our first growing season and I’m still learning. We have big plans for next year and so work on the allotment is strange at the moment. We’ll clearing things down, the tomatoes and most of the courgettes came up this week (I’m leaving the marigolds  and two of the courgettes where they are for a little bit longer!) and planting things to overwinter.

This weekend while Ma was fighting the weeds in the raspberries (it’s going to be long battle), I planted onions and garlic. We planted 150 onion sets, I’d like to say that we ordered them because we’d thought about what we wanted and selected something adapted to our needs and the growing conditions on the allotments. However, that would be a lie, we went into Wilkinsons on Saturday and for the princely sum of £8 bought a packet of red onion sets, one of japanese onions sets and one of white onion sets. We also bought a packet of two garlic bulbs (germidor) to add to the ones I’d planted a while ago but haven’t come up yet, I think in part due to a fox deciding to make it’s home on the bed and have a good dig around! img_5085The bed at the front of this photo and the two raised beds in the background (covered with green netting) are all planted up with onions and garlic.

Other things that need to be planted are broad beans but that’s for November and they’ll go in one of the old tomato beds.img_5087This was were the first courgettes and the french beans were this year and it the bit of the allotment that is next to Joe’s allotment. I was going to dig over and sow green manure but when Ma and I took the sweet peas and metal frame up, we made a new plan. Current thinking is that we are going to cover with weed fabric and at some point before March, hopefully before Christmas this will be home to three raised beds (these ones) that are 155cm by 8ocm. Went we order those, we’ll also order a final square one to go next to the other square ones that are current home to the onions and garlic. I also want to create some smaller beds like the ones I currently have dill and coriander in for borage, parsley and chives. I’d also like to plant some more perennial herbs and lavender at that end as well as re-site the oregano  and thyme, which are still alive despite the best efforts of the courgettes and now the sage to kill them!

img_4752-1At the top of the plot, we need to move the rhubarb and the poorly lavender bushes. Once we’ve done that we want to mark out where the patio for the shed will be and cover that with weed suppressing fabric and mark out some areas at the top for re-siting the gooseberry bushes and wildflowers and so on.

I’ve said it before but the list of things that we want to do is never ending. I keep having to remind myself that the plot looks completely different to how it looked six months ago and that in six months time, when we have a shed and a water butt and more raised beds it’ll look completely different again. I’m not sure there is such a thing as ‘done’ when you have an allotment but I’m looking forward to finding out.

img_4234May 2016


August 2016

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Food and Budget Update: 08/10 to 14/10/2016

It was a week of not being very well, but I still think I did alright for food. Mostly because I was home for most of the week. When I was off last year, I got into the habit of two meals a day and that’s still my pattern when I’m home. Aims for the rest of the month have got to be about using more of what’s in the freezer and I can see a shift as the weather gets colder and there’s less coming off the allotment.


img_5049All shopping this week was done at Lidl on Friday night and the cost was £8.53. Not pictured but bought later in the week was a fruit salad and two packets of pasta which came to £3. So the total for the week was £11.53


On Saturday we were in Watford with the boys. We had pesto pasta and garlic bread (Oli’s favourite food) for tea. (There was also pick and mix!). Joe had something that Lu had made for him (fish and squash) and breadsticks. The rule is that if you’re eating and Joe isn’t, he starts roaring his discontent, so half a breadstick keeps him occupied. Oli used to do this, I don’t understand babies that don’t eat, because we’ve never had them in our family, fussy eaters as they get a bit older, sure, but never a baby/toddler that doesn’t care about food!img_5059Oli and I made a loaf of bread on Saturday night, which was the basis of our bacon sandwiches on Sunday morning.img_5060-1I didn’t eat dinner on Sunday night, I did over the course of the weekend eat a packet of mini salamis. Living my best life right there.

On Monday I ate a fruit salad for breakfast and leftover pasta (from last week) for lunch.  Lentil soup was dinner. I toasted some seeds with balsamic vinegar and then added some chard as a topping. The chard (only a couple of leaves) and the spring onion were grown on the allotment!img_5069

Tuesday is when my asthma went bonkers. I didn’t eat breakfast and although I did eat lunch (beetroot, quinoa and goats cheese salad) I basically was coughing so much that I threw it up, I didn’t eat dinner because I was coughing too much.

Wednesday was a better day. Coughing was less (although the wheezing was not) and this was also the day I realised I had caught a cold! I ate pasta for lunch (the same as last week with the vegetables and yoghurt mustard sauce) img_5048Dinner was fishfingers and courgettesimg_5077On Thursday, I was still sick and ate leftover pasta for lunch and baked potatoes, chilli and broccoli for dinner (thank heavens for the freezer!)img_5078On Friday, courgette pizza and garlic bread.

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Life Happened: Harder to breathe

Monday started with a trip to the doctors for a spirometry test. The good news is that I don’t have lung disease, but the nurse said that the results were classic asthma, my peak flow was lower than it ought to be and I needed to go back to the doctor to decide what treatment I needed. The next available appointment was 31 October!  My body had other ideas and on Monday night the asthma decided that it was not going to be ignored. On Tuesday, I arrived at work in a state, coughing and coughing and coughing. I spoke to the doctor on the phone and got a prescription for the asthma preventative and went home with the firm intention of working from home. Again my body had other ideas, asthma attack central. I was at one point considering a trip to A&E.

By Wednesday, I did do some work from home but not a lot, the wheezing was bad but the coughing was more under control. With hindsight, I can see that the asthma was set off by a cold, which came out in full snotty force on Wednesday night/Thursday morning. Cue the rest of the week feeling rubbish and being in bed and stressing about how messy/out of control the flat and my life felt.

Ma came over on Friday and stayed. On Saturday, I left the flat for the first time since Tuesday to do some shopping and visit the allotment. Ma did a solid two hours of weeding and I collected produce and arsed about. I was in bed at 9pm because I am rock and roll.

On Sunday we went to Watford for Ben’s birthday lunch!That was fun but also quite tiring and I was in bed at 9pm on Sunday.

This week is looking much more prosaic. I have work (obvs), a new boiler being fitted, a team building afternoon and lots more sleep. Rock and roll!

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