New Year Improvements

It’s a New Year (– well more like a young year seeing as it is already few months gone) and like many people I made plans for improvements. I don’t do resolutions. I prefer to call and shape them into Improvements.

My biggest improvement concerns Plastics. I have done some improving over the years but this is a priority improvement I have put in place for this New Year.

I decided more than 4 years ago that I would not purposely replace any of my plastic containers and I haven’t. My old plastic containers have slowly dwindled but have improvised by using largemouth pint and quart jars for left over in the fridge. Jars don’t work for all left overs but they have helped fill a growing void.

This year I decided to invest in glass storage containers. I am devastated that they only come with plastic lids but it is a step forward. I have even made a couple of crocheted covers for them to keep them safer during transporting and am really pleased. So far it has been an easy transition. Bonus they are Pyrex so they can go into the oven and freezer too.

I moved my remaining old plastic containers up to my crafty room to use there.

As well as storage containers I am doing other little things.

  • Avoid buying products in plastic bottles and containers. This is going to take some creativity to achieve. May not avoid all but as many as I can uncomfortably if necessary.
  • Replacing plastics used in freezing meats etc. with waxed/greaseproof paper and bags. I bought a pack of those food bags such as is used by pasty and sandwich shops. So far so good. Have been looking for butcher paper but it has been unobtainable so far here in the UK.
  • Trying to buy unwrapped fruit and veg. Just wish they would give more options. Like organic bananas only seem to be found in bags. Bananas are the only real organic I will go out of my way to buy for reasons of my own.
  • Washing and reusing those plastic bags I can. I will even wash the bags that frozen peas or fruit come in and use them again in the freezer when freezing fruit and veg.

There is more to do, I know, but this is a start. I do not want to make this a flight of fancy but a lifestyle change. I cannot see the reward of just clearing the house of plastics that are already here. Then I am just adding to the plastics in the garbage. I think for me it is more important to try to reduce the incoming plastics and use and re-use those plastics that are here and those I can’t avoid until I find a way to avoid them.


Decorating for the Holiday

Some unexpected circumstances have attempted to put a damper on this holiday season. I was stricken with a temporary illness, a bad respiratory infection a few weeks ago. I am well on my way to recovering but my paycheck for December shall be dismal for my affliction.

Where I work, as with many companies, there is no pay for sick leave the first week and very little for any weeks to follow. Between feeling drained from the infection and dismal at the prospects of having the physical side (money) of Christmas more or less put on hold, I fretted about putting decorations up.

Should I or shouldn’t I?

We do not always put decorations up. When we haven’t it has still been a time of good spirit and frivolity. Christmas decorations do not make Christmas. It is the outlook and pleasure of being with those you love in thought and presence for me.

Last year I was genuinely looking forward to putting up decorations for our first Christmas in our new home but it was thwarted. Not by myself but by a colleague who decided to cause upheaval by going off on stress with the plan of taking the leave to find a new job and quitting before his leave was up at the start of the holiday season. Leaving those left to cover shifts often amounting to six days a week for many of us.

I was devastated. I had been forced to abandon my decorating for the Holiday because of my work hours. There was just no energy left in me. We did celebrate, my husband and I, but our first Christmas in our new home felt tainted by the spite of another. It was nothing more than spite toward management that caused all this grief.

It is one thing to choose to do or not to do something, it is another to be forced.

This current state of affairs is of no one’s blame but my own. (Last year was not really anyone’s fault but my own either to be honest. I allowed someone else’s actions to rule my mood and attitude.)

The only possible setback this year concerns money. Money is helpful in easing the way for things, true. Yet the spirit of the season is truly not dependent on any one solid thing. It is only dependent on one’s mind, heart and desires to create an atmosphere worthy of the holidays.

It is for that very reason that we spent a day moving the decorations down from the attic and several days finally getting them up. We may have to count our pennies (more than usual) this Holiday Season but I am determined not let that stand in the way of finding that special feeling and reveling in the spirit that this time of year brings.

Houseplant Musings – Mums

I have had an aversion to fake plants and flowers in my own home for years. In others homes and public areas they are fine and acceptable and sometimes even very well suited. They are just not for me. Why because I have to dust them.

They are outlawed form my house because someone I knew used them as an excuse not to have to buy flowers on special occasions. Although that person is long gone the ban on them still stands. Only bouquets, live or potted flowers in the house.

_20171117_110609.JPGMums, Chrysanthemums or Pot Mums are lovely guests in my house and they used to be put out to waste when their best was done but what a waste. I realized that I was putting a good plant to death by putting them outside to die off and then into the composter so I read up on them. My first few attempt felt dismal but I stuck by them. It has taken months but my first second generation flowers have now appeared and I am so chuffed.

The nurseries seem to have secrets to force them into flower at their most awkward times so they are available year round for a splash of color. From what I have read Mums like short days and longer nights. They are autumn flowering plants. This is the time of year that they flower naturally.

I love yellow mums – yellow is a color flower I gravitate towards but these are white. I have bought yellow and white mums but have forgotten which is which. I know the purple ones are fed a dye but I am not sure if the yellow ones are. It is really not important if the yellow ones are dyed because they are lovely too.

Whichever pot has decided to flower I am just happy I have achieved this little moment. I guess this means I will have to reconsider each time I see a lovely pot of mums available to bring home any season of the year otherwise I will have a house full of blooms each autumn and my other half may have to relocate to his beloved shed to make room.

Perhaps one day I will have to time to find a corner in the house to set up a space with a small controlled environment and see if I can trick them into blooming off season like the nurseries do.

Kitchen Things – French Toast.

After some twelve years of marriage my husband still enjoys the many wild combinations I throw his way from the kitchen. I am a super believer in trying new combinations and one I tried the other day was excellent.

I had some left over pulled pork I made in the slow cooker. I always tend to cook more than I need only because leftovers, not only rock, they save me having to cook the following night and require me to pull my imagination into overdrive to think up something new.

I love french toast because it is not just for breakfast with butter and syrup.

I threw some sticky BBQ sauce into the pulled pork. Heated it up and made french toast and BBQ’ed pulled pork for dinner(with broccoli as veg but then any veg would have worked for me because the mains were just that good). Think Beans on Toast with a twist (ok more like tornado than twist).

It didn’t take much more than 15 maybe 20 minutes from the fridge to serving (making the toast, heating up the pork and steaming the fresh broccoli (which I put on first)) and it was delicious.

French toast is something I make to use up eggs and/or bread that is past its prime. I use it to make sandwiches when a plain sandwich just seems a bit boring. It is great with sloppy joes.

If you want a savory breakfast treat make some french toast, top with mushrooms, peppers or just about any omelet ingredient, put some cheese on top and pop it under the grill. Job done!

Oh and definitely try making a grilled cheese with French toast. As my granddaughter would say. It’s gummy (good).

A Grandmother’s Art Gallery

Sometimes I stand and admire my refrigerator door. It is an art gallery of which I am full of pride – a grandmother’s pride. I was proud when they were just scribbles because in their eyes they were well imagined works of art.  I was proud when it was their mother’s scribbles that hung there (different refrigerator).  These squiggly artist are our future and they deserve our pride, our appreciation, our encouragement and always our love.

“Lily (age 6) chicken don’t teeth.” Her mom said.
“My chicken has teeth.” Lily replied.









This is Wally. ===>





Unicorn Wagon320




And then there are Princesses that love their unicorns so much they take them for a ride.

Lets Talk Wine

Another sort of kitchen adventure started about seven maybe eight years ago. The bounty of free foods or edible items here in Britain is amazing. I love the idea of getting something for little or nothing (and on the premise I am not taking advantage of others to do it).

My throw into wine making was the seemingly unlimited amount of elderberries I would see but was not sure about what I could use them for until I was reading more about nature’s bounty in various books. Elderberry wine came up again and again. I had never made wine and so started an unending adventure.

Wines I have made over the past seven to eight years include – Elderberry, Rosehip, Apple, Pear, Carrot, Parsnip, Ribena, Rose Syrup (as in Turkish Delights), Potato, Green Tomato, Elderflower, Lemon Balm, Tea and Raisin, Rhubarb, Apricot, Dried Apricot, Port. Plus a few others which I can’t remember.

The initial costs might be a little bit of an investment but most of the items except for things like yeast, nutrient, pectin enzyme, sugar etc, will be one offs. Demijohns cost a few pounds used and are cleanable. If you are thinking about trying it, keep an eye out at the local boot-sale, jumble sale, flea market for people selling assortments of equipment for wine making.

It is a creation that requires patience to some degree, only in reference to having to wait once it is racked off into the demijohns. Wines need time to make their alcohol, age and settle. I have over the years lost my taste for the effects of alcohol so I have all the patience needed.

The best book and my very first (widely recommended by any well-seasoned wine maker) is First Steps in Winemaking by C. J. J. Berry. Can’t rant enough about it. I learned so much from reading it and the recipes are straight forward. It is still my first go to book although I do have an assortment of them now.

The first wine I recommend trying is elderberry. Other than being a little messy cleaning the berries, it is one of the simpler recipes to work with. Starting simple is better than jumping in at the deep end.

I could ramble on and on about wine making. In the future I will share some of my experiences making it and sharing it as well as some ideas, tips, tricks.

African Violet Update

My single sprouting African violet has turned into three. I planted four leaves in a tub and hoped for the best back in April. Strange that it was a month between each leaf sprouting but I am thoroughly happy with the results.

They are potted and progressing. Planning to give away two of them – one has already been promised when it gets a little more robust. I know I don’t need more than one African violet but my houseplants are like pets and you always keep at least one of the litter.

I have successfully started several Boston Ferns from my main large one. I mean it is not like I did much work providing the runner a pot of soil to root into. Still it makes for happy moments. Planning on keeping those for their contribution to our air quality.

Future house plant adventures include attempting to grow Peace Lilies from seed and propagating my Dumb Cane and Prayer plant (which feels a bit daunting.