Saturday, 25 March 2017

Consume Less

There seems to be a lot of talk recently about how we are all going to notice rising prices etc. while at the same time airing shows that seem to promote over consumption.  I try and stick to buying things that mainly are a  need with a few wants here and there.  I certainly don't shop weekly for recreation as many people do as I don't see the point and it just creates a lot of waste which our planet certainly doesn't need any more of.

There was one show on a week ago which I couldn't watch because it was about spending less but then began the show by having two people show off about their over spending. No doubt about it that was exactly what was happening, the wife explaining she couldn't wear an outfit more than once because she would die, look at the hundreds of pounds worth of clothes in the wardrobe still with tags on, fake shock on her face. Oh it was just dreadful, I had to turn off and the sad thing is rather than being spurred on to save I think there would be some watching who might just want all that stuff.

Those kinds of show often offer alternatives to expensive treatments that are just a bit cheaper, or slightly less expensive clothing stores and so on when really they should be saying just stop!  Are you mad?  You don't need all that crap, you won't die if you are seen in the same outfit more than once but they won't do that because really they want us to keep the wheels turning.

Another thing I saw advertised was about the hotel business and the most demanding clients, those being the super rich.  In the add it stated the hotel rooms need to be repainted every three weeks, what? Why can't they just be cleaned thoroughly? It is possible to clean marks off walls without repainting all the time, can you imagine the excess pollution that is creating.  Hotels are already really bad for waste due to the constant need for clean towels and bedding, that much decorating is criminal.  Would the super rich implode if they had to stay in a room that wasn't newly refurbished? 
I have to say I wasn't inspired to watch the whole of that programme either there just seems to be a lot of celebration around being wasteful and proud of it, very sad.

I know a lot of people will disagree with my little poster above but I hope more are starting to seek alternative ways to spend their free time.

It is often the case that as we find new hobbies we are bombarded with ideas about items we should acquire to perfect these hobbies.  In fact any new activity you take up has probably been done by someone you know,  there could be equipment lurking in a friends garage or loft, ebay and Gumtree also have lots of used items so don't be dazzled by the shiny and new.  You can find lots of free instructions and videos shared by fellow bloggers and of course the library always has lots of information on everything.

So of you decide to get out there and do something new rather than wandering around a shopping mall don't use it as an excuse to go and buy all the kit.  I think there is a funny idea in all of us that we will do better at something if we are fully equipped with all the tools.  Sad  truth is owning the stuff doesn't make you great at something and wonderful things have been created with limited resources so it's the time, desire and the effort that makes the difference.

I have noticed the hilarious contrast in that there is currently an add saying shop now down the side bar. Ha! so much for related content.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Vegan Gluten Free Carrot and Walnut Bread

I haven't done much baking for a while, I tend to go in phases with it I think mainly because due to working with the gluten free flours there are more fails than there used to be when I could just use the regular flour.  It can be a bit disheartening at times,  I enjoy cooking new vegan recipes but the baking minus egg and regular flour proves challenging.

Yesterday I had a go at these cookies here  Naturally Sassy cookies  they were supposed to be made using pecans but as I didn't have any I used walnuts they came out ok, quite chewy, not a soft cookie  once cooled but I am eating them so they work.
You don't roll them out you just shape them with your hands which was quite therapeutic.

This morning while I was up early with the dogs I made a carrot and walnut loaf.  This recipe was adapted from the book Keep it Vegan, I had to adapt it because the recipe is not gluten free and also I didn't have a courgette! 

Here is my recipe...

Carrot and Walnut loaf
200g gf plain flour
100g brown rice flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp bicarb soda
1 tsp oregano
1 carrot grated
4 pieces of chopped sun dried tomato (optional)
175ml soya milk
50g walnuts crushed (rolling pin)
1tbsp chia seeds soaked in a little water
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 200c, mix dry ingredients in a bowl, add carrot and tomato pieces, make a well in the centre and pour in soya milk, stir through nuts and seeds.  This should all come together in a piece as you stir, flour your hands and turn it onto a baking sheet then shape into an oval loaf, score top.  Cook in the oven for about 30 minutes until it sounds hollow when tapped.

You only need a slice as it is filling, unlike regular bread which is just generally full of air.  It also has a lot of goodies in it again unlike regular bread which is often full of preservatives.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Caravan Seats and Odd Jobs

I was asked to make over the caravan interior upholstery for my husbands colleague last week. The curtains were complete last week but she didn't buy enough fabric for the seating so we have been waiting on that.

It was not an easy sew!  The fabric was woven so one side of the piece when you cut it kept unravelling in massive strips, it also got tangled around the needle a few times, oh awful stuff.  Anyway they are finished now, well I just have two scatter cushions to do tomorrow and they won't take long.

I also had some panels to sew inside some motorbike jeans this week, they are to hold the protective pads, that job was a first and also quite tricky to stitch through the padded denim. 

My job for tomorrow is to make some Mr Tumnus trousers to look like his furry legs.  I need to dress up at school next week, I will try and share  a picture but not sure if I'll do so while I'm wearing them.

So there hasn't been much in the way of garment making recently but lots of repairs for others and household style sewing.  Perhaps the brighter days will inspire me, I tend to stick to my same sets of layered clothes when it is cold.

It has been quite tricky to find something to get interested in on the TV recently, all the Scandinavian dramas I like appear to have finished and have not been replaced with anything to grab my attention.  Broad church is quite enjoyable and also The Replacement but really there is an awful lot of rubbish across the channels.  I came into the living room the other evening after doing some alterations and turned on the TV, across three channels these were the options; Britain on Benefits, Britain on the Fiddle and Britain After Brexit, I turned it straight off again!

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Schar Gluten Free Pizza Base

Being gluten free I have to admit that I miss pizza, these days also being vegan that would be a
cheese free pizza but still I do miss it.   I have tried various things to satisfy this including many gluten free bread products, it is never the same. We visited Zizis the restaurant because I read they did an amazing GF vegan pizza, it wasn't, but it was wafer thin, overpriced with practically zero topping on it.  Did I mention how I hate to be ripped off and we don't even go out that often.

So when I saw these Schar pizza bases I was excited, I love the Schar bread and although it is expensive I will pay the extra for this as I am so limited in what I can have and their bread has quinoa, linseed goodness and tastes super.  We brought the bases home today and I piled on all my lovely toppings, fried red onions, cherry tomatoes, sauce, garlic mushrooms, Italian herbs and vegan cheese. 
Now these bases were two for three pounds so again not cheap for a bit of bread but I had high hopes.

When it came out of the oven I cut it up and sat down to tuck in.  Well, dry powdery bread just like every other  gluten free product I tend to try, I was disappointed to say the least.  The loaf I buy by this make is so good I expected too much I think.  You see I had resigned myself a while ago to the fact that bread based meals are a thing of the past.  On the occasion I have some it is beans or tomatoes on the Schar toast so this moistens the bread.  I would not recommend buying this product but their loaves are good if pricey.

The best and closest I have come to enjoying something resembling a pizza is when I used a wrap as a base and just topped that with lots of veg.   The reason that may have worked better is that a wrap is so thin so you don't experience the dry floury texture of a thicker dough.

If anyone has tried anything better I would love to hear about it.  I am usually pretty good at improvising with the GF, vegan foods but sometimes on a Saturday you just want to come home and have a pizza like everyone else!

Friday, 24 February 2017


Today I have had another bit of a clear out, I was looking for a particular top this morning and thought I needed a little sort through.  Many things have just been moved along and put together.  For example summer dresses that I want but don't need yet.  I know many people take all of their seasonal stuff out altogether and rotate but I am not going through that every season.  There is also the fact that some items can span seasons with a top under and thick tights.

There  was also a few items that needed a bit of care.  A dress with a belt loop hanging off, a nice next t-shirt that has always been too baggy, jeans that can turn into shorts and a levi jacket that has always bothered me because the shoulders hang over.  So this little pile has been brought down for action, first up was the levi jacket, I marked where the shoulder should sit by laying another little jacket on top that fits me well.  There was quite a lot of unpicking involved due to all the top stitching.

I have had it years but it is such a lovely soft cord, maybe it will get more wear in the summer now the shoulders are better fitting.

I removed thirteen items of clothing that have not been worn over the past year and that I can't see me wearing again. In truth some of them should have gone with the last lot that went to the charity shop but I don't find this easy as I am not quick to buy new.  There is a little bit of me thinking I might need that so I have to be ruthless with myself.

There were also two books on the pile, a shirt of my husbands (I had permission!) and a fleece one of the boys had outgrown. I have not been far in way of walking due to mad weather yesterday and todays business, just the usual places.   I have begun to do the reupholster job on some seating and curtains for a colleague of my husband, it is for a small caravan. The curtains are finished but she needs more fabric as by the look of it she just guessed and there was no where near enough for all the seating.  So more on that next week.

Quite a few people have gone on their travels, we have done this at February half term in the past but after cold weekends in Amsterdam, Paris, Lego land and Loch Lomond we decided to give this one a miss.  Unless you are following the year round sun it can be a bit chilly and with three dogs now our holidays involve a lot of being outside.

Whatever you have been up to this week I hope you have had a good time, I know a lot of you not working in education will have had a regular week but maybe you managed a day off with the children.

Monday, 20 February 2017

So Much Space

I have been thinking recently about how we view and use our space or more to the point about how I do.  After talking to my husband about putting in another bathroom downstairs we decided against it, the reason being that we manage with the one and we have done so for all this time so is there really a need?  I know there are probably a few wondering how they would do without their second or third bathrooms but it really is just a matter of what you are used to and how you use things.

My sons are now teenagers, the oldest is working and three of us like to shower in the morning and the youngest likes to do so in the evening.  I am first up and out, oldest son goes in straight after me closely followed by the youngest to wash and do his teeth and my husband goes in after that.  It works, we have the occasional shout of hurry up but mostly it is a good system.

But it is not just bathrooms though is it, we seem to be conditioned to believe we need more space when actually we probably spend most of our time in the same areas.  Of course if you have a larger family then you will need more space than a childless couple but sometimes it is about storing stuff.

While out walking yesterday we saw this property for sale and it is also yesterdays picture of the day.
Yes a church that you can live in.

Now I'm not sure if I like the idea, when we got home I looked at the pictures of the interior and as you could see from the outside the building is vast.  Inside while nicely done there is no sense of cosiness, it is just so big.  I would also imagine the upkeep on the exterior would be a money pit but someone will no doubt buy it because they are attracted to the amount of space it offers, which also needs to be heated, cleaned and lit.

We have talked about the possibility that we may move one day when we retire but if we do it would be more about the outlook and the location than the size of the property.  I watched a Ted talk by Graham Hill here where he show off his apartment designs, every item is multifunctional and you make the most of the space you have.  While I wouldn't want such a minimalist look the ideas are super and certainly give us something to think about in our ever expanding population.

So I think I will embrace my one bathroom and be grateful that my sons accept our little rota without complaint and also that I only have the one bathroom to clean.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Sunny days

We have finally had a bit of sunshine this week so I managed to get  a couple of pictures without a grey sky, yesterday and today.  I went out early for dinner with friends last night so  I'm posting that picture now.

This was from a distance so hazy due to zooming in on a non powerful camera,  nice to see the horses in the fields.  There is a field nearby with alpacas so I may have to wander over and take a photo of them one day next week.

This one is from my walk today I was under the cover of trees so it appears darker than it was.

 Other than getting out with the dogs and doing the food shopping I've not been up to much today but I have decided that from this week I will be saving my receipts from my food shop.  Just to get a clearer idea over the course of a year and also because I am fed up of hearing how our food prices are going to go up so I thought I would monitor it myself.

I don't really buy anything in bulk, I wonder how much could be saved this way so I am going to look into that. I keep the food shop pretty reasonable but there is bound to be somewhere I can improve, I don't have a big freezer so it can't be too much frozen stuff but otherwise I'm curious.