Sunday, 12 February 2023
It was such an unusual cold
Sunday, 1 January 2023
Today is the start of the rest of our lives
- Read 23 books.
- Use up at least 23 balls of yarn by knitting or crocheting them into items.
- Use 23 new-to-me recipes and make dishes that I’ve never attempted before.
- Go to the cinema at least 6 times. (I get "free" tickets via my bank. Might as well use them.)
- Go to the theatre 4 times.
- Restart my running and run in an organised 5k race.
- Continue with my 15 minutes a day Duolingo. (I'm currently on day 943. Started in 2020.)
- 23 sessions of weight training.
- Socialise 23 times. This doesn't include the weekly pub quiz, RPG sessions, etc, that are already in my calendar.
- Blog at least 23 times.
- Spend an hour per week for 23 weeks, writing that book.
- Do 23 singing lessons/practice sessions resulting therefrom. (My voice and breathing haven't recovered from Covid in December 2019. Yes, I had it before it was famous.)
- Make 23 phone calls to family and friends, just to catch up and chat.
- Replace Lucky Car. I have no choice. At the end of August, the border of London’s ULEZ - ultra low emission zone - will be extended to include all of the outer-London suburbs. He’s diesel, 13 years old and does not comply.
- Go on a “proper” holiday, overseas. We haven’t had one since the start of the Pandemic. Destination TBA.
- Continue doing the Fashion on the Ration Challenge on MSE.
- Not buy any yarn in 2023. This excludes the one skein that was ordered before Christmas, but won’t be delivered until next week.
- Finish and sew up all my knitting and crochet WIPs or frog them. I think there are 8 in the queue, including a couple of cardigans that just need buttons sewn on. (This excludes the jumper and two pairs of socks currently on the needles.)
- Dust off my sewing machine and sew a suit.
- Complete at least one embroidery.
- Have 23 gardening sessions, where I do more than look at the weeds and lament.
- For 23 weeks, spend at least an hour tidying up. I am not one of your naturally tidy people, I want to change that. (I can put a pen on an empty table and, 10 seconds later, it’ll look like a bomb has hit it.)
In which PipneyJane goes pattern shopping
My reason for being there was to browse the pattern books for a suit pattern, so that I can make a suit from the wool fabric I picked up at that charity fabric sale in ?July. OMG was I disappointed! The last time I did a serious browse for patterns was a decade ago. Do you remember back then, when there were several different pattern books laid out on the counter, one for each pattern company? Well, now, there is one book. I always knew that Vogue and Butterick patterns were owned by the same publisher, apparently they also own Simplicity and McCalls. No New Look pattern book. No Burda, just that one pattern book to look through.
I flipped through it in growing disappointment. Virtually no suit patterns - I can recall only one (didn’t appeal) - no capsule wardrobes, and only one picture per pattern to display the garments. (How the hell am I going to know what the top of that dress looks like, if you only display it with the jacket on?). Seriously, there was NOTHING suitable for the office and nothing I would want to make. Did I miss the memo saying that nobody has to dress professionally for work anymore?
John Lewis Oxford Street also had virtually no fabric. (No suiting. What a surprise?) Last time I was in there was pre-Pandemic. The Haberdashery Department is only 1/3 of the size it was then, and about a tenth of the size it was in the 1990’s, when I worked around the corner. The lady who rang up my yarn sale told me that “nobody makes a summer dress anymore”.
It looks like I’m going to have to find the bag of paper patterns I purchased in the 1990’s. Hopefully, there will be a suitable suit pattern in there that I haven’t cut out - since I’m a totally different size now - which I can use/adapt to my current style. There may be a possibility that I’ll find something at the Knit & Stitch Show at Ally Pally next month, but unlikely. (I had my arm twisted by a friend to go to the show; the same friend who was too sick to come along yesterday.)
Anyway, the above yarn purchase brings my total spend to 69 coupons, leaving 7 for the rest of the year.
Wish me luck.
Monday, 3 October 2022
Fair well Ma’am
While others were just beautiful:
Saturday, 17 September 2022
The Queen is Dead. God Save the King!
Since her last journey will be from Westminster to Windsor, my plan now is to get up on Monday morning, take chairs and go sit on the side of the A4 with DH, and wait for her to pass by. I’ll bring my iPad and we’ll watch the Funeral via BBC iPlayer.
Friday, 24 September 2021
My favourite toy
Thursday, 23 September 2021
Channelling my inner Greta Thunberg
- Change building regulations so that all new builds have the latest version of photovoltaic cells on their roof (which are 3x more efficient than the originals). Every new house should also be built with a small S-shaped wind turbine, while blocks of flats/offices and business parks should have at least one large wind turbine. All new builds need to have off-street parking - say, one space per bedroom - with vehicle recharging points incorporated therein.
- All Government paper products should be made from recycled paper, whether it’s toilet paper purchased for use in a hospital or a leaflet to be distributed to the general population. Lead by example.
- Government procurement has long been driven by price. Instead, the first factor to consider should be carbon footprint. If xx costs a few pence more but is made locally, then that should be purchased instead of shipping it in from China.
- Ban the use of insecticides on state-owned land. Organic practices only. (I will permit weed-killers because some invasive species of weed just won’t die without them.)
- Invest in hydrogen technology and have all Government vehicles hydrogen powered. Batteries can’t power everything and their creation/recycling generates a massive amount of pollution. Battery powered lorries/trucks are impractical (very heavy) and battery powered vehicles can’t tow.
- Ban the shipping of recycling abroad. Specifically plastics should be recycled “in country”. Many British councils ship their plastic recycling abroad, where it is found years later, breaking down on a rubbish dump somewhere and hasn’t been recycled. This is a waste of resources, waste of shipping miles and creates another type of pollution problem..
- Where available, I buy recycled paper products (toilet paper, kitchen towel). Everyone should. Save virgin paper for books.
- I’ll wash and re-use the plastic bags that bread/bagels comes in, before eventually recycling them.
- Most of my clothes are bought to last, making me a follower of “slow fashion” and they get worn to death. I look for classic designs, made from natural fibres. (Today, I’m wearing hand knitted socks, a pair of jeans bought in 2018, a t-shirt purchased in 2003 and a cashmere cardigan purchased in 2019. My bra is 5 or 6 years old and my knickers about the same.)
- When I can buy clothing secondhand, I will. Three of my work suits come from charity shops, as do several t-shirts and my sheepskin jacket. (I nearly bought another suit from a charity shop yesterday but the jacket was too tight.)
- When I do buy new clothes, where possible I buy natural fibres and wear those clothes until they die. (I’d rather be considered classic than fashionable.)
- Make the best of what I have for as long as it lasts. For example, my iPhone is 5 years old. I won’t consider changing it until Apple stop updating the IOS. Why should I? It does everything that I want it to do and, last night, updated to IOS 15, guaranteeing me at least another year of use.
- Buy smart. I don’t buy something because it’s the latest widget; I buy it because it fulfils multiple purposes and does exactly what I want. This saves money as well as resources. It doesn’t matter if it’s clothes, a kitchen widgets or IT kit. If it doesn’t do what you want it to do, you’ll never use it and/or you end up replacing it three times.
- Years before electric vehicles were readily available, I went for a car that was fuel efficient, had good build quality and a low carbon footprint. (When Lucky dies, he’ll probably be replaced by a hybrid. Meanwhile, I’ll keep him running for as long as possible. Pollution isn’t just about carbon; it’s about the other components he’s made from, too.)
- With the exception of weed killer, I garden organically. (I’ll only use weed killer if the weed burner fails.)
- Buy local. Consider where something is grown and/or where it’s made. Most of the yarn I’ve purchased over the last 10 years was grown and spun in the UK. Prior to the Pandemic, my veg came from a local farmer’s farm shop. He also sold me eggs from his mate’s farm, about 5 miles away. (Sadly, they closed due to the Pandemic.)
- Grow/make your own. Not only will you appreciate it more, it cuts the carbon footprint. There is nothing nicer than a just-harvested potato.
- Avoid buying food that is heavily processed. Not only will your body thank you; all those “e-numbers” are chemical additives that have to be manufactured.
- If you eat meat, then eat the whole animal, offal included. Anything less is wasteful. There is more to a chicken than just chicken breast fillets! Don’t like liver? Do you eat pate? Well, that’s liver. Get over it. Personally, I love Haggis but many people shy away from it because it’s made from offal. They’ll eat that offal when it’s in boring, supermarket sausages, but not in something as nice as Haggis.
- Do the passive things that will cut your carbon footprint. Compost your vegetable peelings and grass cuttings. Wash your laundry in cold water and air dry it. (We do. We don’t own a dryer.). Walk to the shops, instead of driving. (We walk the 1.5 miles to our local Lidl and lug our shopping home in backpacks.). Use public transport where practical. (Nobody in their right mind would drive into central London.)
Tuesday, 21 September 2021
You can see that they’re related. The third sock yarn, used on the feet, was from these socks:
Monday, 30 August 2021
Anyway, I had 20g left of the blue and 35g of the grey. I’ve been itching to use it up. My standard socks use 63g-65g of 4-ply. Since I only had 55g, I thought that, if I shortened the leg by 15 rows, did the cuffs, heels and toes in the grey, then alternated between the two colours row-by-row, I should have enough to make another pair of socks. I’ve just started the toe of the first sock. It’s not gone according to plan. I began getting worried about the quantity of the blue, so stopped using it 15 rows into the gusset. (There’s 10g left.) Ten rows into the foot, I started panicking about the grey...
Rummaging through the stash, I found the unlabelled end of another grey/black/white shaded sock yarn - maybe 5g - and alternated rows with that for 24 rounds. I think I’ve got enough to do the same on the second sock, but I won’t know for certain until I finish the toe on the first one and can weigh everything.
Wish me luck.
- Pip (Hopefully I’ll be able to share photos at some point.)
Tuesday, 27 April 2021
Do you think that I could find the recipe mentioned earlier? No. These jars remained unopened, in the pantry, for years. Fast forward to the end of last year when, in a fit of inspiration, I decided to search the internet again for a pumpkin bread recipe. On someone’s blog, I found a picture of a recipe, cut from an ancient magazine. Oddly, they didn’t give directions, just the photo.
(Sadly, while I saved a copy of the photo, I didn’t make a note of whose blog or I’d credit them.)
1 teaspoon ground cloves, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
- The day before, prepare your butternut squash:-
- Preheat the oven to 200C.
- Cut it in half lengthwise. DO NOT PEEL.
- Scoop out the seeds and discard them.
- Place the squash, cut side down, onto a baking tray and bake for an hour.
- Allow to cool before removing from the tray.
- Once cold, use a spoon to scoop out the pulp. Deposit it into a bowl and weigh it. The original recipe requires a 440g can, but I’ve made it with 450g, 350g and with 530g of pulp. All three versions have been successful.
Saturday, 20 March 2021
Lockdown 2020 - a year on....
It's a year on Tuesday (23rd March), since Britain first went into full Lockdown in the fight against COVID-19. The television is full of it this morning, which got me thinking... What have I done differently, since we went into Lockdown? There are a lot of things that I did before, that many people have adopted during this time (cooking from scratch, baking, knitting, etc), but here are a few things that I do now, that I didn't habitually do before Lockdown:-
- Regularly walking to L!dl. Our local branch is 1.5 miles away and it's become our primary grocery shop. We walk there about once a week to buy toiletries, dairy products and fresh veg. (Prior to Lockdown, we bought our fresh veg and eggs from a farm shop 5 miles away and split our supermarket shopping between MrT's and L!dl, driving to both. The first casualty of Lockdown was the farm shop - they are in the middle of a National Trust property and were forced to close when the "big house" closed. They haven't reopened.)
- Buy the Sunday paper from the local branch of the C0-0p. Again, this is a walk, whereas previously we'd drive to MrT's.
- Going for a walk "after work" every evening. We've both been working from home since Lockdown started. This is the only way to get that mental space between work-life and home-life, which we'd normally get from a commute. Another plus side is that, unlike many people, I haven't put on weight.
- As you may have gathered, I'm not doing a lot of driving now. The money that I've saved by not buying a tank of diesel every week is going into the "Car Account" instead, to be spent on services, insurance, road tax and the inevitable replacement car.
- Use my "morning commute" time to exercise. Rather than get up later, now that I'm working from home - which might upset DH's daily routine - I use that time to exercise. I've done the Couch-to-5K and now run 3 times a week. On the other 2 mornings, I do some yoga stretches and I've started doing a bit of weight training.
- Learned French via Duolingo. (It's free.) Today is day 296 of my current streak of lessons. I'm spending less than 10 minutes a day and have learned considerably more words than I did in four years of French at high school. I'm not sure I can string a sentence together and I doubt I'd understand if my French colleagues started talking in their native tongue, but I know far more than I did.
What about you? What are you doing differently since you went into Lockdown?
Sunday, 7 February 2021
It’s all about getting the biggest bang for your buck
How’re is your February going? Are you coping with the bad weather, the never-ending Lockdown and the inevitable tightening of belts? I’ve always found February to be a tougher month, financially, than January. In January, you run out of cash early because you were paid before Christmas and end up in debt/overdue on payments; February is when those debts have to be paid back. (You may remember me mentioning that tough February 30 years ago, when Dumbo left me with little more £20 to get through the month. It was the inspiration for several years of the “£50 February Challenge”.)
We went to the Butchers’ yesterday, spending £55.70 from the Meat Fund. Since our meat shopping is all about getting the biggest bang for our buck, I thought I’d share what we bought, what the plans are for it and how many portions we’ll get. The butcher doesn’t do an itemised bill, so I’m only recording prices where I saw them and can remember them. Remember, there’s only two of us in this household.
- 1 large roasting chicken - £7.99 - dinner tonight (we’ll eat the legs), chicken fajitas on Tuesday and chicken risotto on Wednesday. That’s at least 10 portions, plus stock.
- 1kg minced beef - at least 16 portions when padded out with veg, lentils/beans, etc
- 1 rolled, stuffed, boned breast of lamb 1.2kg - £13.60 - minimum of 4 portions of roast lamb. The butcher cut it in half for us, so we have two roasts.
- 8 chicken breasts, average weight 200g each - between 16 to 32 portions, depending on whether I double up in a recipe. I usually only use one in a stir fry or chicken pasta dish that serves 4.
- 8 large chicken thighs - 8 portions of chicken tray bake.
- 4 pork chops - two will definitely be served as chops, while the other two may get chopped up to make pork-and-beans and a stir-fry. Either 4 or 10 portions, depending on the outcome.
That’s between 54 and 80 portions of meat-based meals. As I said, it’s all about getting the biggest bang for our meat-buck.
With the exception of tonight’s roasting chicken, I have just finished shoehorning it all into the freezer. Everything has been “bagged and tagged”. I had to do it in stages to maximise space/freeze things in shapes that will stack and fit together, especially since the freezer was pretty full already with lunchboxes, tubs of soup/cooked pulses/homemade ready meals and sauces, not to mention the haggis that threatens to leap out at you... The mince was divided into 4 and carefully stuffed into freezer box to form 4 rectangles. The chicken breasts and chops were bagged separately and frozen to be as flat as possible. The chicken thighs were bagged in fours, while the lamb was stood on its end, to freeze upright.
As you can see, once again, I win at freezer Tetris.
Thursday, 31 December 2020
SitRep 2020: Review of the Year
- Knit 20 balls of yarn (that's between 3 & 5 jumpers worth). 41/20 - I finished the jumper I was knitting (5 balls), completed the next one (finished on 13 balls), finished the third (8 balls), fourth (9 balls) and fifth (9 balls). Also completed are three pairs of socks.
- 20 minutes a day learning French (via Duolingo and TinyCards) for 20 weeks. 31/20 weeks. Absolutely smashed this, thanks to Duolingo.
- 20 minutes exercise a day for 20 weeks. Walking 30 weeks, weight training 5 weeks, running 20 weeks.
- Read 20 books. 6/20. These are listed In the sidebar on the right..
- Try 20 new dinner recipes. 5/20. I am a cook! How can this be so difficult to achieve? I’ve made Chicken a la King, a chicken tray bake from New Idea and Lidl’s Mediterranean Meatball Bake, Slow-cooker barbecued pork, Lamb Moussaka.
- 20 gardening sessions. 14 proper ones plus a couple of minutes mucking around with seeds.
- Explore 20 new places 7/20 - the cathedral at Bayeux, Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester city centre, Cheltenham city centre, Great Witcombe Roman Villa, Painswick Rococo Garden, some of the back streets near home.
- Attend 20 "shows" (concerts/plays/films/BBC recordings/exhibitions) 3/20 - Frank Skinner’s “Showbiz”. The News Quiz. The Troy exhibition at the British Museum, Chelsea vs Leeds (after Lockdown).
- Do the 2020 Fashion On The Ration Challenge and keep within the coupon count. 60/66 coupons used. These are listed in the sidebar on the right.
- Phone family/friends to chat 20 times (I'm hopeless on the phone). 20/20.
- Lose 20lbs. 10/20. (To be honest, I’m just glad I haven’t put any weight on given the “Covid Calories” everyone is eating.)
- Mend 20 items of clothing (yes, that includes sewing on buttons and taking up hems) 3/20 - hemmed trousers from a suit purchased in 2018 (I’d only worn the skirt and jacket, not the trousers). Mended the pockets of a different suit jacket, bringing that suit back into rotation. Repaired the pockets on DH’s shorts.
- Declutter 20 items.
- Run 20 miles (but not all at once) 20 miles (started running again on 13.7.20 - doing couch-to-5K).
- Save 20 x £20 out of my “allowance”(£400) £400/£400
- Make 20 site visits for work, earning mileage 20 times (it goes to the car fund). 29/20.
- Write 20 blog posts. 25/20
- Log 10,000 steps on my Fitbit on 20 or more days (harder to do than it sounds). 37/20: 11.1.20 10505 steps, 22.2.20 10603 steps, 7.3.20 13527 steps, 21.4.20 10524 steps, 3.5.20 11,196 steps, 4.5.20 13,956 steps, 17.5.20 14,066 steps, 18.5.20 15,046 steps, 19.5.20 11,567 steps, 30.5.10 10,079 steps, 31.5.20 11,160 steps, 13.7.20 11.287 steps, 18.7.20 15,001 steps, 20.7.20 10,005 steps, 22.7.20 14,830 steps, 16.8.20 10,954 steps, 17.8.20 10,952 steps, 24.8.20 11,823 steps, 26.8.20 11,402 steps, 2.9.20 10,757 steps, 7.9.20 10,714 steps, 13.9.20 10,604 steps, 18.9.20 10,946 steps, 20/9/20 11,653 steps, 21/9/20 11,374 steps, 23/9/20 10,069 steps, t5.10.20 10,355 steps, 6.10.20 13,074 steps, 9.10.20 11,012 steps, 11.10.20 10,301 steps, 18.10.20 16,786 steps, 20.10.20 16,212 steps, 21.10.20 10,341 steps, 22.10.20 11,729 steps, 23.10.20 10,298 steps, 6.11.20 10,366 steps, 11.11.20 10,100 steps, 12.12.20 11,181 steps, 30.12.20 10,061 steps.
Have a party in the summer and invite at least 20 friends.Do singing exercises for 20 weeks to rebuild my voice. 2/20.
- Watch at least 20 programs that have been on the DVR since 2018. 14/20.