Our back garden after having lived here a year and plans for next year.

Even though we are having a mild October thus far, it cannot be escaped that winter is coming.

We bought the house in February 2016 and our first summer here was spent just getting the house together and coming to terms with that my mother is terminally ill, after we received the news in May 2016 that her cancer is now too far advanced to treat.

So I didn’t do a lot in the garden. I hung washing in it on the line, and that was it.

So this summer I wanted to at least try to grow some things. I decided to try growing some herbs, and I wanted to try some nasturtiums as well. I was also gifted some plants before term ended at the college.

Safe to say, the nasturtiums did very well! But interestingly the ones that did the best were the ones we planted right into the flower bed rather than in the pot. I bought two packs of seeds for £2 and didn’t even use the other pack. I have been eating the leaves in salads and in sandwiches all summer so a very worthwhile investment.

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Nasturtiums just taking over the garden now.
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Look at it! Even the savage sage plant is a dwarf in comparison to the nasturtiums.
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Our bounty; a lone tomato. Gave it to Husband so he could have it in his salad, he said it was lovely and sweet.

Although tomato plants are not perennial, I have decided to try and winter them. I’ll take them to the top floor of our house and cover a section of the floor with newspapers – because they did grow tomatoes eventually and I want to give them a chance.

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Looking a bit forlorn now, I wonder if I can winter them?

For next year I think I will do the following:

  • I have managed to grow nasturtiums (probably through sheer dumb luck); I will try lettuce next year, and sow them as soon as it’s warm enough outside to do it. If my niece can inadvertently grow some by sprinkling some seeds in an unused sink in the garden, then I can do it too!
  • If wintering the tomato plants and pepper plant doesn’t work out I will buy some plants from the garden centre as soon as it’s warm enough. I may also try some cucumber plants next year.
  • Maybe get a fire pit or brazier? We have two deck chairs we have been gifted and it would be nice to sit outside with it in the back yard in the evening.
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The acer in the back yard is starting to turn, looking lovely ^_^

 

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Catch of the Day: Delicious reduced food.

Went by the Co-Op yesterday as I had a parcel to collect and found these little babies.

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Got all of this for £1.46! I love the reduced section! Some we had with our soup for dinner and some has gone in the freezer. Bottom Left: The Cat inspects the Catch of the day.
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The Cat enjoyed the Sun yesterday ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sharing Sherwood – meeting new people in our community and avoiding food waste.

Sharing Sherwood hosted their meal again and Husband and I went along – this will be the last one I will be able to attend for some time as I work on a Sunday while the event is on, term time. It’s a shame as I have really enjoyed the previous two times we have been. We are meeting people in the community where we live, and some people who we’ve seen previously came and said hello to us which was lovely as well.

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The menu – All delicious. The French onion soup was lovely!

The food served at Sharing Sherwood is given to them by FareShare; this is food they have collected from Supermarkets that would otherwise have been thrown out. Diners pay a donation when attending and they can also for a donation have some of the surplus food there. The money made from donations and the entry fee is then given to foodbanks in our local area.

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My dinner! Clockwise from noon we have rice, mushroom pasta, onion bhaji, vegetarian curry with quorn.

The next dinner will be held on the 8th of October – maybe Husband and Neighbor will go along.

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Got some lovely food for our donation; think the leftover bhajis will be part of our dinner tomorrow.

 

Silver Squirrels Away – how it started.

We have lived in a precarious situation financially (in my opinion) since we both graduated from higher education in 2010.

I understand that everything is relative and that there are people even in our hometown whose financial situation is far more dire than ours. Nevertheless.

For three years I jobsearched for something permanent. I worked temp jobs, did agency work and summer jobs at home until I got my part time (But PERMANENT!!!!) university gig in the beginning of 2013 and later my other part-time, permanent job at the college in the start of 2014. I also did and still do self-employed work which is as and when it’s required.

Husband could either not find anything at all or worked casual jobs/Christmas temp jobs/summer temp jobs until he got his small part time job in 2013 and his volunteering which became a casual job in 2015.

Not going to go into the amount of crap he had to deal with during his time here, and what we went through as a couple, but may save it for another post. It deserves speaking about in detail.

Like walking around doing my work one night and spotting someone’s plate being put back on the rack in the work cafeteria. It had leftover rice and a naan bread on it. I was so hungry, I was almost at the end of my shift, but didn’t have any more food with me and no money to buy any. The food practically spoke to me. So I looked around. The place was empty. I sat down and ate the leftover food, putting the plate back in the rack before leaving.

During that time I was constantly on the prowl to up our income and to safeguard ourselves in case things went belly up. It involved saying ‘no’ a lot and working out what we could do instead to not do the thing/buy the thing, but to still have a good time.

I still very much do that today, just in case. Still looking over what we spend and looking out for us. Because you never know. Maybe I’ve become jaded but from what we’ve experienced, I don’t trust anything not unless it is in writing. Preferably in someone’s blood.

With my wages, Husband’s wages and the self-employed work I do now, we are keeping it together. But after having lived like this for so long, it’s now become a lifestyle choice, as well as a necessity.

Throughout that time and now, I have continued to ‘squirrel things away’ – doing little things, almost every day, to get us money or gift cards. This includes surveys, doing product trials and focus groups, selling things on eBay, writing reviews. I keep a spreadsheet of what I get and when and I do feel it adds up overall!

So I thought I’d do a few posts about the sites etc. I use and what my experience is with them.

 

Catch of the day: Dining out again at the Sharing Sherwood project.

It’s the second Sunday of the month again, so this evening Husband and I took our neighbour with us and we went to have dinner at the Sharing Sherwood project again.

At the Sharing Sherwood project volunteers cook food given to them by the organization FareShare (they collect food from supermarkets that they would have binned and distributes it to soup kitchens and food banks) and people can come and eat for a donation. The money collected goes to foodbanks in Nottingham.

We had such a lovely time when we went last time and were determined to go back again as it’s such a lovely idea. Last time the donations made plus the entry money totalled £155 – this is a great help for the project as they are hoping to donate at least £100 to each foodbank in December this year from what they’ve made from the dinners.

Hard to imagine that if the food served there had not been snapped up by FareShare it would have been binned by the supermarkets! I have already pencilled in that we’re going next time it’s on in September.

There were fewer people there than last time. We guessed it was because it’s school holidays now and so many of the families who brought their children last time are away on vacation.

 

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Tonight’s menu. All delicious.
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The donations table. You make a donation and then you can help yourself to the food. Someone had also brought in a basket of rhubarb and several giant marrows from their garden to share.
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My lovely dinner! Going clockwise we have a vegetable bake, asparagus, red cabbage, afghan pilau rice and vegetable curry. Topped with fresh chopped coriander. I may have gone back for seconds…
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Our haul from the donations table today, plus one of the marrows. So glad we could go along this time. Need to look up what to do with a giant marrow now!

6 ways to save money some people may find odd.

  • Take husband with you when you go food shopping. No, really! Husband is a stickler for lists and if I try to put something in that is not on the list, he will promptly put it back, stating ‘it’s not on the list.’
  • Keep bread bags, bagel bags, cereal bags when they are empty. Wash them and hang them to dry, to then reuse to wrap food in, or to take lunch to work, or to scoop out the litter tray. I wash mine and hang them on the line outside. Why no, I have no shame, why do you ask?
  • Save aluminum foil. I support the students at work by buying food from them when they do cafes or have a breakfast club and it comes lovingly wrapped in lots of foil. I carefully fold this up and take it home to reuse, for example to put on the cat’s tin of food in the fridge.
  • Cut everything that’s in a plastic bottle up to get the last bits out. Toothpaste tubes? Sure. Conditioner bottles? Yessir! Squeeze mayo? Certainly! Toothpaste tubes I cut off the ends and put my toothbrush in to get the last of it out. Conditioner bottle and condiments bottles I cut into halfway through halfway down the bottle. That way you can fold the bottle over and stop it drying out while you use the rest of the product up. AND it makes it easier to rinse out before you put it in the recycling.
  • Eyeing up piles of stuff that has been dumped or flytipped in your neighbourhood to see if anything is of use. Hey, one man’s junk and all that!
  • Not actually taking any money with you when you are out and about. It’s stopped me spending on more than one occasion as I didn’t have cash and the vendor didn’t take cards.

Avoiding food waste: Dining at the Sharing Sherwood project.

One afternoon I had a look at the library notice board after collecting some books, and I came across this notice:

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It said that for a suggested donation of £2.50 per adult and £1.50 per child, anyone was welcome to attend and eat food that would otherwise had been thrown out by the supermarkets. Food is collected by FareShare that supermarkets need to get rid of due to their use by/best before dates, and Sharing Sherwood cooks the food and serves it to people who donate to eat. The funds are then donated to food banks around Nottingham.

Husband and I have lived here for a year now after we bought our house but want to get more involved in the community so we decided to go.

In addition to this, I am very passionate about food and food waste – wasting food is criminal in my opinion is a waste of precious resources and labour.

We have a food, toiletries and clothes bank at the college for hard up students – it is surprising and shocking to see how deprived some of our students are. As a department we also collect food for the food banks every summer as children who normally get free school meals have to be fed in the summer as they aren’t at school putting extra strain on people’s household finances.

Sharing Sherwood meets at the church up the street on the 2nd Sunday of every month at 6pm.

Husband and I went along, and paid at the door before finding a seat.

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Our menu for the night.

We had a lovely time there, trying the different food – there was loads of food to be had and everyone could have seconds if they wanted. 70 people attended and it was nice to see how varied the group was, from people with families to students to pensioners.

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Delicious food, rescued from an untimely end in the bins! Going clockwise from 12, we have carrot and parsnip fries, tortellini pasta bake with tomatoes and feta, asparagus and edamame beans, salad cream, green salad with feta and falafel. All delicious.

Everyone pitched in with cleaning up and putting stuff away afterwards, and this session we were told raised £155 for the foodbank. People are encouraged to bring a drink and a container when they come as they hand out the leftovers afterwards, so as to not waste food.

The food was delicious and there was plenty of it; we wouldn’t have realized this food was ‘out of date’ if we hadn’t been told. We think this is a brilliant idea, and husband and I said to each other several times how unbelievable it was that this food had not been snapped up by FareShare, it would have gone in the bin as it was past it’s ‘use by’/’best before’ date.

I spoke to one of the volunteers and they said that the only thing they did not get a lot of was meat as it’s hard to store and keep fresh until they use it. But with all the food that was available, it didn’t even occur to me that the meal needed some meat, it was fine as it was.

They also had some food laid out on one of the tables where you could help yourself, for a donation. We made a donation and took this home:

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More food saved from the bin! We may or may not have already quality assured the Special K biscuits. Can’t wait to try the soups.

The next dinner will be held on the 13th of August and I’ve already put it in my calendar so husband and I will go again!

If you want to read more about the project and join their FaceBook page you can do so here.