Saturday, 17 March 2018

Thank You ... and Goodbye

I'm done blogging ... there are a few reasons, but they are mine to know.

I am not upset, I am very well, no one has upset me, I have not been trolled etc etc etc

I have just plain and simple stopped blogging and that's it.

Thank you for reading my scribblings across the years.


Sue xx

Friday, 16 March 2018

Knocking on the Window

We have a regular visitor to the kitchen window recently.  Ever since we started having the windows regularly washed by our new window cleaner actually.  I don't think he likes the glass being so clean.

The first time he came he flew into it with a bang.  Then he came back again, over and over again, wiping his feet and wings all over until we could only just see out.

Now he comes regularly and sits on the windowsill tapping on the glass, when he knows he has attracted our attention he just walks off and leaves us stood at the window.

The first few time I thought he was doing what another little visitor, a Robin, does regularly and that is letting me know the bird bath is dry, but no, there was water in the birdbath, food left out by the base of the tree and all was well with the world.

Now we are so used to the tap, tap tapping that we just say 'he's back' and let him see that, yes we are at home.

The suddenly yesterday he came back with his wife.  First he came alone and tapped on the glass, as soon as I walked towards the window he hopped over to the gap into the woodland and came back immediately with Mrs. Blackbird.  She wasn't as impressed with us as he obviously is, and quickly set off back to the woods leaving Mr Blackbird to mooch about on the grass for a while before running after her to see what she was up to.

We feel like animals in a zoo with him being the visitor checking up on us in our glazed cage.  At least since Alan washed the window again this morning, only a couple of days after the window cleaners visit as we couldn't see out properly, Mr Blackbird seems to be respecting our right to light and has only been at the glass once today, making do instead with running up and down the window sill while he keeps an eye on us.

Sue xx

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Back to Normal

We're back to normal now after Living on Rations for a month.

Taking the rations or what was left of them off the kitchen shelf meant I could have a good wipe down, something I usually do about once every couple of weeks, but it was so much easier this time with everything off 

Putting things back to normal made me smile, I like my shelves.  We don't change the things on these shelves much as they are things in regular use not ornamental items, so there was not much different to how it looked a month ago.

It was when I was emptying the shelf that I noticed something that hadn't been tried or used at all during our rationing period ...

... the Camp coffee.

It has been put into the kitchen cupboard, for some reason I can't bring myself to try it, I will pluck up the courage ... one day!!!

Something that has changed since rationing is my use of wholewheat flour.  We really do prefer things made with it, not wholly with the brown flour but with a good percentage.  It really adds something to the flavour of most cakes, pastry and in this case scones.

Homemade scones with homemade jam, not a bad afternoon snack :-)

Sue xx

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Getting Overly Excited ...

On Sunday night we were sat quietly watching the film The Edge of Love, a biography/romance film about the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas and his wife and friends, when Alan suddenly said 'there's your teapot' ... and sure enough on a table on the television there she was, my lovely enamel teapot in use.  To say I got a bit excited was an understatement ... I laughed afterwards at my reaction but I seem to have developed a real love affair with enamel kitchenalia :-)

We couldn't use my teapot for tea unless we had a houseful of guests as she holds enough for at least six big mugful's of tea or coffee .... or I guess at least a dozen wartime sized cups, but at least she is in everyday use collecting our small change instead of having a sealed pot.

Bought at the same time as my teapot were these brass candlesticks ...

... which in my opinion finish off our mantelpiece perfectly and which are also in regular use. 

We love to burn nightlights and candles, it makes for very atmospheric cosy nights in during the Winter especially, with the log burner blazing and snoozing animals on the mat in front of the fire.

I've really developed a passion for nostalgia and yesterday whilst downloading some photographs from my camera played with the effects on some of them.

Doesn't this food cupboard photograph look so much better in a black and white photo ...

... than it does in a colour one.

 Maybe I should have used black and white for the photos used on the blog during our rationing challenge ... ah well too late now.

Sue xx

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Shopping for Fresh Stuff

We called to Asda to pick up some tuna for Ginger so while we were there we picked up the bit of shopping that we needed/wanted for this week.  I say needed/wanted because although we needed some more spread all the rest were things that we both wanted.  Alan chose the melon and the peppers and I wanted some more tomatoes.  Even though tomatoes are out of season at the moment in the UK and compared to home grown ones taste of nothing much at all, I really wanted some more as  I enjoyed the ones we had whilst on rations so much.

I accidently threw away the receipt so I wrote down what these items cost me for posterity.

Left in The Purse £274.39

Remember our 12p each yellow stickered red roses that we bought two days after Valentines Day for each other ... well they've dried out lovely.  We currently have them on a saucer on our little dining table in the living room where they look very pretty. 

Not a bad investment for 24p  :-)

Sue xx

Monday, 12 March 2018

Living on Rations - Week Four - Day 28 - Final Day - Answers

Well here we are,  our last day of rationing.

This morning it was toast for breakfast, served with a titchy tiny bit of spread ... getting every last bit out of the tub ... but with lashings of homemade orange marmalade. Lunch is a tub of soup from the freezer with toast and our evening meal will be a hotch potch of leftovers to empty out the freezer and fridge shelf.  A jacket potato with vegan cheese, some Shepherdess Pie and the last pork chop.

We did it  :-)

*** *** ***

To finish off the Challenge I promised to answer any questions that you wanted to ask about the Challenge so here goes -

From Winters End Rambler:  It should certainly have proved frugal for your years main challenge if nothing else! x

It has really helped us.  In total over the 28 days of the challenge we spent just £24.49 on food.

From Faith:   Any individual recipes you spotted that you'd like to cook afterwards, even if you're not doing full on rations?

We are definitely going to be having Tomato Macaroni Au Gratin again and again.  Other favourites were Smothered Sausages and Woolton Pie (with a wholemeal pastry topping).

From Sue:  My question is did you get fed up with mashed potatoes?!

No, we surprisingly we didn't get fed up of potatoes at all.  We had them baked, boiled, made into wedges and yes, mashed.  I think we might have a few days off from spuds but on the whole we haven't been put off them  :-)

From Catz:  My question is did you have any serious cravings for food/drinks unavailable to you in wartime?

We did crave fresh salady vegetables.  I had some Iceberg lettuce in the fridge at the start of the challenge and we really made it last as long as we could but once that was gone we missed it.  I did kind of cheat as they are out of season and bought us some tomatoes and again we made these last for quite a few meals.  Of course our onions had to be used very sparingly as well so we missed having onion slices on sandwiches.

Oh, and I missed my copious quantities of sparkling water .... but it was my intention of using rationing to break this habit.  I only used about two large bottles over the course of the month and this was to top up my small bottle for travelling and for drinking at the cinema.

From: Margie from Toronto:  I would like to ask if you got bored with anything in particular and how do you think singletons living in the city would have coped?

The thing I got bored with the most was the lack of spontaneity. 

Usually even if you have menu plan for the week ahead you can chop and change, throw the plan out of the window for a day and raid the cupboard for something completely different if the mood takes you.  With a smaller amount of food in stock this was not really possible, other than switching between the days we had certain things, or changing the way I cooked the vegetables, ... mash instead of boiled potatoes etc.

Singletons living in the city would have had a much harder time of it, and I think they really did in wartime.  Unless they had access to some outdoor space to grow at least a few vegetables to add to their ration it would have been extremely difficult.  Also the points system was not geared very well for single people.  Just 16 points per month was allowed for each person and some tins of fish and meat were a full 16 points.  This is where vegetarians would have been better catered for as they could have bought a lot of dried pulses and things like rice with their points but not meat products like Spam etc.

From Alice via email:  Have you lost any weight during this Challenge?

I seriously doubted that I would lose any weight over the course of the last four weeks as I have literally felt podged,  BUT ... I have lost one pound and luckily according to our WW scales it is one pound of fat ... result.  Alan has lost 4lbs so he is very pleased as at no time has he been hungry.

From Caroline via email:  Have there been any health repercussions during the Challenge due to all the unhealthy carbs?

Actually no not at all, I think because you might be eating more carbs but at the same time eating a lot less protein your body does learn to adapt very quickly.

Our health stats are really quite good.   I have high blood pressure but my blood pressure readings went down by around 20 figures and my blood sugar dropped by point two ... although I am well into the normal range anyway.  Alan who is diabetic found his readings went down by 3.2, still higher than it should be but surprisingly not affected in any detrimental way by the amount of carbs consumed.  

We both lost a little bit of weight and I lost an inch off my waist, which can only be a good thing.

From John via email:  Did you miss shopping and filling your supermarket trolley with anything you fancied?

Yes, I did miss shopping, but luckily the year long Challenge that we were already doing had already tempered my shopping habits drastically before this Challenge had even begun.   I also found that I looked at the vast array of available food, especially imported out of season food in a whole new way.

From Elaine via email:  Are there any changes that you made during rationing that will be remaining with you after your rationing ends?

Yes ... I think we will be even more inclined to eat seasonally and produce as much as our own food as possible.  I will also try and keep up with the menu planning.  It does take a weight off your mind if the meals you are eating each night are at least listed and you don't have to stand at an open fridge every day and ponder.

From Candace:  Did you find anything that you want to eat less of going forward? 

From the foods we have been eating during rationing my first thought would be to eat less bread going forward ... it really seems to bloat me ... maybe I'll go back to eating just a couple of slices a day instead of a third of a loaf   ;-)

From what we have learnt during the rationing period I would also say that except for maybe a splurge on salady things for a couple of days now that rationing has ended,  I think we will be eating much less out of season foods, and also things that the supermarket may  call food but are in fact manufactured, processed items.

From Liz Bloyce: Hi, have you come across what the rations were for toddlers?

Children under five (along with pregnant women and nursing mothers) had a green ration book and would be entitled to the first choice of any fruit available, a daily pint of milk and a double supply of eggs.  Children between the ages of five and sixteen years of age had a blue ration book which gave them choice of available fruit, a full meat ration and half a pint of milk a day.

From e: I am wondering how this experiment will influence your portioning, shopping and savings habits going forward and also if you feel healthier or are any lighter since this began?

Now that rationing is over I will be going back to our regular portioning sizes and mostly using our smaller sized plates.  Some rationing portions were huge and some tiny it was very strange.  I will continue with our Challenge year shopping using money from The Purse until it runs out.  We only buy what we can't produce ourselves usually so that will continue, but I will perhaps push myself to produce even more for ourselves.  I need to get better at  successional sowing of seeds and not having gaps, between one crop and the next, and I should try to reduce the 'hungry gap' even further for next year.

I don't feel any healthier, in fact I feel quite lethargic at the moment, but that is perhaps due  to the fact that the weather has been dire and I have not done much outside work to off set the amount of stodge I have been eating.  But now even if I don't get outside much over the next week or so I can at  least go back to eating more salady based meals and smoothie type breakfasts.

Somehow I have lost one pound of fat and an inch off my waist though ... so that is good  :-)

Musings from me:  

On the whole we loved doing this challenge within a Challenge.  It reinforced in our minds that the way we live is by and large a good one for us and would be our salvation if anything awful were to happen in the world in the future. 

It showed us that what we are doing here on our own five acres of Welsh hillside, producing our own fruits and vegetables, raising the hens for eggs, using wood from our woodland for the log burners, having solar power and a rainwater harvesting system and living simply is a good way to live and one that a lot of people aspire to. 

Even now at the end of a very changeable Winter I could go out and from our own land scrape together the makings of a meal with no help from supermarkets.  The veggie patch and the tunnels would supply the means for vegetable stews, soups and warming casseroles.  Of course the hens supply us with eggs each day so that would be breakfast taken care of.  There are enough pheasants roaming the woodland to give Alan the taste of meat in his portion every now and then, and soon rabbits will be making an appearance ... although if he shoots the Easter bunny I will be very unhappy. 

When we started this way of living it wasn't meant to be any kind of survivalist way of life but I think living on rations even for such a short time has proved to us both that we could scrimp and scrape a life on very little money here on our small homestead if we had to, and that of course is just what we are doing this year while we save like mad to pay off the final bit of our mortgage.

So now it's time to rip up the ration books and get back to the main Challenge ...

Digging for Victory on a Welsh Hillside

Rationing is over  :-)

Sue xx

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Living on Rations - Week Four - Day 27 - Leftovers and Questions

These final few days of our wartime rationing challenge has really got me thinking.

We are steadily working our way through the last of the things in our wartime store cupboard stash.  Contrary to what some people think we have not been eating foods from our usual cupboard at all, well maybe a couple of little 'cheats' a pinch of chilli flakes in the soup pot, a squeeze of garlic paste when I had forgotten to add a chopped garlic clove to a dish and it was almost cooked are two that spring to mind.  Each time I have thought well yes, it's a cheat but if I didn't have them already opened (and invented) I wouldn't have used them.  And we do have to remember that we have 21st century taste buds and are used to spicier foods now.

Since I took these photos, the dried fruit in the top picture has been put to soak in hot coffee and sugar ready to make my 'Tea Bread' and the leftover Macaroni dish from the fridge, in this photo has been eaten so our supplies are dwindling.

(The stacks of spreads and vegan cheeses at the back of this shelf are out of bounds normal supplies that I have been weighing out our rations from each week.)

Just about to be used are the leftover baked beans in the little white pot at the front of the fridge shelf and the Lurpak and Flora spread tubs are almost empty.  The tub of pre-cooked chickpeas are just about to be turned into a portion of chickpea tuna for my dinner ... which will include another cheat, a bit of a bigger one this time as I need half an onion and a stick of celery and squirt of mayonnaise.

I never said I was perfect ... but I am honest  ;-)

In the freezer the two slices of bacon and sausages are missing now from the shelf and are currently thawing ready for a 'full English' when Alan comes in from hacking at pruning the front flower bed and sits down to watch his rugby match.

So everything is getting sparser and sparser as this Living on Rations challenge draws to an end, and for the final post in this series tomorrow I am going to throw the floor open to you.  All those of you who have been reading along and cheering us on from the side lines over the last four weeks can have the final word.

What would you like to know? 

Have I missed out information that you would have found useful? 

Have I talked about but not written a recipe out that you would have liked.

Have you done, or are going to do something similar and would you like us all to dash over and follow you?

Any questions you have to do with this challenge will be answered on the next post.  In the meantime I leave you with this question ....

.... do any of you know what the ingredients are for this cake recipe taken from the Ration Book Cookery book in the photo?  I don't have a clue and don't own a bible, which is shocking knowing how many books I do own!!

Sue xx