What I Ate: Food, Cooking and Budgets Weeks Two and Three

So I’ve not been great at updating this, so I’m going to post this today and on Thursday, resume posting on Thursdays! It’s a busy time for my brain right now so things are happening but the documentation is lacking!

In week two, I didn’t shop at all or eat much (stomach bug) and last weekend I spent £25.76, so my total is £41.69, for three weeks, leaving me for counting purposes, with £98.31 of the £140 budget I set for the eight weeks.

I didn’t take a photo of my shopping this week but from the allotment we’ve had cukes, tomatoes, kale, sweet corn and squash.

My food for workMonday to Thursday (because I worked from home on Friday)

Breakfasts – breakfast sandwich with raw vegetables

Lunches – Tomato risotto and kale

Snacks – grapes, an apple, an orange, a cereal bar and a yoghurt

Dinners (Saturday to Wednesday)

Saturday Ma stayed and we had chicken thighs and tomato risotto (I made a lot of risotto and so it was lunches for the week!)

Sunday – I didn’t eat dinner

Monday – Steak with stir fried kale and bearnaise sauce (the steak was in the freezer!)

TuesdayCourgette pasta with Sarah (there was enough leftover that I have two containers of it in the freezer for lunches next week)

Wednesday – Chicken drumsticks with corn and coleslaw

Menu planning, food prep and cooking is (like all other disciplines) a muscle, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. I’m really finding this as I progress, I’m becoming more creative and much better at noticing what I have so I’m spending less. I’m also reviving old habits, say hello baking bread! (This is currently my go to but with half white and half wholemeal flour and no kneading!)

I do tend to try and get serious about habits as we enter autumn and winter and I begin to notice changes in my mood. There was a danger that with SAD and a new role at work, that choosing to reset my budget for food would have been too much but actually, it’s the been the other way around. When I found out about the new role, I went back into therapy and I’m aware that actually what a focus on how I eat and spend money is a great (outside of it just being good practice!) because it gives me control at a time when I don’t necessarily have it elsewhere! But this has been good and I’m not feeling overwhelmed by autumn right now!


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Friday Links: I just can’t even….

Happy Friday!

So this is slightly late and short because I have had a week, new job is busy…

It’s open season for political thugs and the Tories gave them the pass

I used to think Boris Johnson could get a Brexit deal. Not after last week

The US almost tore itself apart to get to 50 states. Can DC make it 51?. History is important people!

Fat Bear Week 2019: Choose the fattest brown bear in Katmai National Park, Alaska. This is cheering me up.

Morrissey ejects anti-far-right protester from Portland concert. There is a bright side to being a kid lived mostly in my head, I never really got Morrissey, now he’s turned out to be a bigot, I don’t feel like one of my hero’s has betrayed me….


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Allotment Adventures: It Just Keeps Coming…

This week it rained, which wasn’t good for anyone’s spirits but was really good for the plot!

The produce is still coming but we are more into the leafy, green stage of the year. Every week I think will be the last week of the courgettes but they keep coming!The rosemary and tarragon have gone nuts and I still haven’t dug up the tarragon yet but it’s coming!Rent on the plots are due on 1st October but I haven’t had a letter yet! Which means that I don’t have the whole plot yet and can’t start any work, but then we get to keep our neighbour a bit longer!

So in October we need to be all about closing up or repurposing beds, at some point this month we’ll have to take up the tomatoes and plant the broad beans, we’re waiting on the borlottos and butternut squash.


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What I’ve Read – August and September 2019

So I skipped this in August and I’ve stopped counting the TBC pile. In August, I also spent £40 on books, book tokens are the best present…

The Wicked King – Holly Black

I’m really enjoying this series, no one really can be trusted and I’m really looking forward to the third.

Hot and Badgered – Shelley Laurenston

In a Badger Way – Shelley Laurenston

Both of these were light relief. Laurenston just makes me laugh!

The Stone Sky – N.K. Jemsin

This was a really good end to the trilogy, a resolution but not an end

Madensky Square – Eva Ibbotson

This was one of my birthday books, I’d read an article just before it about the five children’s books everyone should read.  For the record I’ve read 4 of the five, the one I haven’t read is the Eva Ibbotson. The comments are a delight but no-one mentioned Paula Danziger or Nat Hentoff who wrote books that I adored when I was a teenager but someone did mention that their favourite adult Eva Ibbotson was Madensky Square, which was one of hers that I had never read. So when I saw it in the Waterstones in Newcastle when I bought books using my book tokens from Ben and Laura (£40 on books, it’s my happy place!) it was a no brainer and I bought it. It was delightful. I described it to Ma as like Barbara Pym but nice (we all know that I have issues with Pym). The writing feels 1950’s-ish but the people in the books are human. Ibbotson was born in 1925, in Vienna and all of the books of hers that I’ve read seem to have a childlike yearning for Vienna and a London, as she may have experienced it as a child, her parents divorced when she was little and her mother was banned by Hilter in 1933, both of them ended up in London in 1934 and her father was in Edinburgh from 1928. This has a yearning for a time that may not have actually existed, but it feels like she remembers the kindness of all of those places and it shows in her books. Susanna’s life could be viewed as tragic but it isn’t because she engages with the life she’s in, even when she doesn’t want to. This book is about how community saves us and about how we find things to do, that are important, even when we don’t get our happily ever afters. One of the reasons that I loved it so much is that it’s about what you do when life happens so differently than the life you planned. It’s just what I wanted to read and I didn’t even know it.

Brazen and the Beast – Sarah MacLean

I loved this but there is a point in this series where I want to start banging heads because the men in them can be very dense!

The Wallflower Wager – Tessa Dare

This was lovely and fluffy and there was quite a bit of handwaving required but I loved the relationships in her book, not even necessarily the main couple but the friendships. In this there is a thing with the housekeeper and the architect that had me in fits.

Kill the Queen – Jennifer Estep

Protect the Prince – Jennifer Estep

I read Kill the Queen and Protect the Prince out of order and the first one was better, I thought some of it was overwritten in Protect the Prince but now I’ve read the first one, it makes more sense. Everything seems to be a trilogy but I’ll read the next one.

The Right Swipe – Alisha Rai

This came out in August, so I’m calling it a birthday present and I really liked it. It wasn’t as angst ridden as the other one but I’m pleased that even without quite as much angst, Rai makes her characters real and the story believable.

Early Riser – Jasper Fforde

Another of my birthday books, I love Fforde and this was just perfectly bonkers. We’ll always have the Gower!

Wolf Rain – Nalini Singh

Library book, I’ve been much less interested in the romances than I’m interested in the overarching story….

Archangel’s Prophecy – Nalini Singh

Also a library book and a bloody cliff hanger, the next one is on order.

The Testaments – Margaret Atwood

This is a much less dark book, than The Handmaid’s Tale. It’s feels more hopeful and that in some ways is a relief and some ways a loss. There is lots of detail and at the same time not enough. I have to admit, I’m more interested in the Marthas and the Econofamilies in Gilead than I am the others strata’s of the society..

Turning Darkness into Light – Marie Brennan

I really enjoyed this, I hope there are more.

Beauty and the Bayou – Erin Nicholas

I love this sort of easy small town story because I know nothing about it and can’t get hooked up on the stuff that doesn’t fit!

Shacking Up – Helena Hunting

This has been sitting on my kindle for two years, it was time. It was complete fantasy but fun for all that and it took up a couple of hours on a Sunday.

Seduced by a Pirate – Eloisa James

I bought this on 23 September 2017, and finally got around to reading it on Sunday 22nd September 2019! It’s an novella and I pretty much love everything that James writes (sure she hits the same notes, all the time, a HEA always comes with copious amounts of small children and parents are always involved with the care of their children in a way that aristocrats in the 1800’s would not be but I can handwave that because I right her writing so delightful!)

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing – Hank Green

This is a book from my birthday book buying. I really enjoyed it but I’m still not sure what I think. It was remarkable and optimistic…

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Monday Miscellany: You need a spreadsheet

Happy Monday!

I was completely missing in action last week with a stomach bug! I had a day out and worked from home two days, most of the time I wasn’t working or throwing up was spent sleeping.I also got a series of texts from Ma’s friend Sally (they were both in France) about Ma’s extreme organisation. Don’t ask my mother, what you’re doing wrong because she will tell you and show you what she thinks you should do. Which all starts with not living in a mess and the budget spreadsheet. Sally expected sympathy from me but while I’m not at my mother’s level of organised, I know when she’s right (all the time, except about the constitution and the best football team in London). Sally will be tidied up and budgeting by Christmas….This week’s plans are all about a new role at work, I start on Tuesday and there is lots to do and lots to learn! I’m also trying to adjust in a more positive way to the onslaught of autumn, it’s dark at 6am, which sucks because that’s when I get up in the morning. So plans are all about making sure that bedtime is consistent and I want to make an effort to be disciplined about the things that I should do but really don’t want to do (like ironing and laundry!). Sarah is coming over on Tuesday for dinner but other than that, I’m have nothing social planned…

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Friday Links: Everybody is making excuses but nothing is getting done

Happy Friday!

Cameron may have fought Brexit. But it was his policies that made it happen

There is a belief around at the moment, encouraged by many of the 21 Conservative MPs recently expelled from the party by Johnson, that it is only now that their party has become unprecedentedly nasty and irresponsible. But in 2013, I can clearly recall seeing huge hoardings at the Conservative conference in Manchester with such crude slogans as “Welfare capped”, “Immigration down”, and the dog-whistling formulation, “for hardworking people.”………….No one should now let him get away with styling himself as the failed pioneer of a softer, more sympathetic kind of politics. Whether or not he was privately uncomfortable with them, these words alone confirm not just that Cameron looked like an enthusiastic participant in the hostile environment doctrine that led to the Windrush scandal, but that Faragism had already infected the Tory soul.

David Cameron’s self-indulgent sorrow doesn’t excuse his cowardice. I’m struck by the interviewer, who said that in a 90 minute interview, Cameron didn’t use the word sorry. This is the thing. Where we are now, we’re their because of Cameron’s hubris and he won’t really be the one to suffer…

Inheritance tax would be scrapped by the Brexit party – good news for the very rich

The case for a 4-day workweek

My Parents Are Spoiling My Little Sister. Just read the last problem and answer. Gold…..

For Palestinians, Israel’s elections promise nothing but defeat

Bettel’s anger highlights a bleak truth: the EU27 just wants Britain to go

Baking Isn’t Hard When You’ve Got a Library Card. My library doesn’t loan out baking pans.

50p at 50: how Britons’ living costs have changed since 1969. This is fascinating…

‘Okra is the most foul thing ever grown’: chefs on their most hated ingredients. This is great and I totally agree, I hate okra

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Allotment Adventures: September jobs

September is a strange month as we come to the end of the summer crops, everything looks a bit straggly and we have to start making decisions about whether to push a crop another week or pull it up.

This weekend we pulled out the french beans, the Georgia Candy Roaster squash, some of the courgettes and three tomatoes. We left three courgette plants, the crookneck squash, the cukes and the rest of the tomatoes. I did have a worklist for work and here it is. I don’t think we did badly

  • Plant leeks
  • Pick the last French beans and take them up
  • Attend to the tomatoes
  • Weed everything but particularly the plot edges, paths, rhubarb and the section of Joe’s plot that we’re growing on
  • Collect marigold seeds
  • Dig up the tarragon plant
  • Collect any fallen leaves
  • Raise the netting on the cabbages and weed
  • Sort out the chard bed
  • Cut the leaves that are covering up the winter squash so they can start to mature

It feels like a lot of things I want to do can’t get done until we have a final date for having the whole plot because I can’t do some of that work until I have it, however, it’s not mine yet and I don’t want Joe to feel as if he’s being hustled off the plot! We did spend a lot of time on Saturday, weeding that section of the plot and watering Joe’s tomatoes, as Ma said if we don’t do it now, we’ll only have to do it later!

Here is the list for the next two weeks

  • Collect marigold seeds
  • Dig up the tarragon plant
  • Collect any fallen leaves
  • Raise the netting on the cabbages
  • Sow winter salads
  • Sow broad beans
  • Sow sweet peas
  • More weeding
  • Prep for Halloween
  • Start clearing and covering beds
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