Going exploring in your own garden.

After having lived in our house for a year we’ve been talking about what we want to do with the garden space we have, especially the front garden, which has been a mess.

We decided to tidy it up a bit more one Saturday as the weather was ok and we had time. Husband’s family have very generously helped us with trimming the hedge and cutting back plants (we had some shears here that frankly look like a prop from a horror film, that’s how rusty they are).

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Before we started. Looking a bit drab.

While I raked the ground and weeded between the slabs, husband swept all the dirt out to neaten the front up a bit.

I was surprised at what I found while raking; found a honeysuckle among the ivy which I’m hoping will bloom as it smells heavenly, I also found these guys:

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There were quite a few of these, I wonder what they are?
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And what are these?

Who would have thought you could go exploring in your own garden?

I finished off by putting some weed-killer down so hopefully that will keep the weeds at bay. Knowing me I think I’ll just have to keep pulling the weeds up, though.

Husband’s parents and a family friend visited the day after and mother-inlaw has taken some of our pots back as they are moving plants and she has said she’ll gift us plants for the garden, which is very generous of them. I was able to use some nasturtium leaves in the salad we had which was awesome. It’s quite strong so use sparingly; I think it tastes similar to watercress.

The front garden looks much tidier now.

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Looking much tidier now.

My mother in law suggested potting up the tomato plants and the pepper plant as they need the space to grow, and I think they like it here. Thank goodness for people’s gardening advice though as I feel anything we’ve managed to do has been out of sheer dumb luck so far.

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Everything seems to be growing nicely, even the nasturtiums are starting to take off. The leaves are delicious.
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Aah! Look what’s coming out!
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Sweet peas are bouncing back but have discovered there are still aphids on them so will spray them again.

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.

New series: I am grateful for…

I wrote a post a while back about being grateful and thankful for little things.

As a reminder to myself that we are incredibly blessed and fortunate, I have decided to add things I am grateful for – when I think of them.

That already sounds so blessed/privileged, doesn’t it?

We are just so fortunate. Some things and facilities, we do not even think about, they are just sort of there, and we expect them to be there.

Today I have been grateful for two things:

  1. Our washing machine.
    We have the privilege of being able to wash our clothes in our own home, efficiently and quickly and to a high standard, whenever we need to do it, unless it’s something too bulky or weird like leather.
    I took our mattress topper to the laundrette down the road today as our washing machine isn’t big enough to wash it. I paid £6 to use the launderette and while it only took 40 minutes, I still had to get the mattress topper into a bag of some kind, take it down to the launderette, put the money in and wait there for the load to finish as it says boldly that loads that aren’t collected promptly will be removed. I then had to stuff it back into my bag and schlep it back home, sopping wet, as I didn’t have time to run it in the dryer as I would have been late for my voice work, and I couldn’t leave it there for the above reasons.
    I got there for 9am when the launderette opened, and you know, almost all the machines were taken already at that time, and people were coming to do their laundry, their normal laundry stuff. I’m trying to imaging having to do that every week and I just can’t.I am grateful that if I need to wash clothes all I have to do is go downstairs and get the washing machine going. I can leave it in the drum for a few hours if I don’t have time to peg it out immediately. And I can do this whenever I want. Without having to leave the house.
  2. Regular public transport/good infrastructure.
    To get to the launderette, I took the bus down. I could just walk round the corner from our house, down the street and onto the main road, without having to plan anything. I knew there would be a service shortly and I could just wait there for one, and sure enough when I got there the display said one would be arriving in three minutes. And it did! And it was safe to use and the bus was well maintained and it got me to the launderette in a timely manner. I had the same experience travelling back home, I could just walk a few yards down and the bus came in a matter of minutes.A book that I read once that really stuck with me puts this into perspective. If you have a chance, read Blood River by Tim Butcher, which is about his attempt to cross Congo across from east to west in 2005 on land. One of the things that really got to me was when the group he is with comes to a little town deep in the jungle. There is a railway station there, and the stationmaster still works there and attends his duties. he sweeps the platform and keeps things as maintained as he can, and waits for the trains. When he wrote the book, no trains had passed through there for SIX years. And throughout the book, Butcher encounters communities that were isolated islands in the bush, with rivers, tracks and roads growing shut as people daren’t use them as it’s too dangerous to travel (HINT: YOU SHOULD READ THIS BOOK!).

    I am grateful that we have access to good transport links that are safe to use, well maintained and that are reasonably priced. I am grateful we have good infrastructure so I can travel to work and we can travel to other places in our community. Good infrastructure also means that I can live here as I am able to travel home to see my family, on a whim’s notice if I wanted to or needed that.

 

What are you grateful for?

 

 

 

 

A Jam-packed June.

Where did June go? It seems to just have whizzed by.

Despite this, June has been a very calm month, which we needed. Calm before the storm methinks, as we have asked the union to send husband’s employer the grievance letter now. Not a moment to soon as his employers continue to be infuriating.

Good things about June has been:

  • The weather has been lovely, meaning we’ve got some gardening on. I was gifted some plants for the garden so will see if I can get those going.
  • We’ve been under budget for the groceries again, which I’m very pleased about. We’ve still got some left of the food my sister’s family gifted us in April and it’s been such a boon to us. I managed to get some lovely reduced food and bargains from the fruit stall near my work. I also managed to snag some freebies with our last shop with Sainsbury’s.
  • Having Sundays free now as term has finished at the uni for the summer. No Sundays at work until October now! Yass!
  • Visiting our friends for a weekend, which was lovely and just what we needed.
  • We managed to list 47 new items on eBay we cleared out from when we did the flooring downstairs, when we had to empty the bookshelves.

Things that could have been improved about June were:

  • Husband’s workplace are still being ridiculous. The second part of his review which was due to happen mid-June was postponed due to a staff meeting and they have not arranged another date. This is the 6th time it has been pushed back. Manager texting husband at midnight to ask if he can work the next day. Husband was pulled to one side this week and was told to get in touch with the union rep as they have been trying to ring them but not getting a reply. They want a meeting arranged so that they can ‘hear what he has been saying to the union about them.’

We’ve had a letter regarding husband’s PIP application to say that Capita will be handling his PIP assessment.

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Hmmmmmm.

Not quite sure how to feel about this.

To finish off, here is a picture of some street art we’ve got at the end of the path by the house:

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I think these are so cool. I especially like the ‘Practice Kindness’ one.

 

 

 

 

Catch of the day: Free plants for the garden!

Just wanted to share with you what I got today:

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Some of the students at the college where I work do gardening as a vocational option, and they grow plants to plant in their garden and some to sell at the summer fayre. These must have been left over as they were giving them away for free today. I got three tomato plants and one pepper plant – score! So pleased I managed to snag a few of these for our back yard.

Just have to work out how to make them grow and not inadvertently kill them now.

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