dear diary :: weathering the weather

I have been having so much fun today organising my new pantry I am sure it can’t be legal!!

I have still a few adjustments to make and then it will be photo ready – well when the weather is also photo ready, it has been far too dark inside to even attempt a photo shoot.

On the matter of the weather… heart goes out to the poor people of the Calder Valley, which is only a few miles from here, and all those affected by the flooding and not for the first time. As a flood victim myself I can sense the misery and frustration they are feeling at the moment and I must admit I shed a tear or two for them.

Today although not as forceful the wet, windy weather continued – the kind of day when it is wise to stay warm indoors and a special treat is required to stave off those winter blues. Whilst writing out my shopping list for the week I helped myself to one…well maybe two of these cute little Godiva biscuits (a much appreciated Christmas present)……I am only surprised there are still some left.

The weather on Saturday was not too bad at all; DH managed to get an emergency appointment in the morning with his dentist to look at his broken tooth which was becoming very painful and had kept him awake for most of the night. So we took advantage of being in town to do some shopping and later called at Sainsbury’s to top up on a few more fresh vegetables, bread and milk.

While DH was at the dentist I occupied myself having a wander around the nearby Dunelm store. I have been looking for some kind of laundry basket for the laundry room and this one which is on castors just fits the bill as it will be easy to move around.

I also called in at one of those cheap shops (don’t ask me which one – they all look alike) and I bought a large pack of epsom salts which I use when I soak my feet prior to giving myself a weekly pedicure. They were £2.49 for the kilo but later I spotted them in Home Bargains buy 2 for £4 50 (I think) making them only £2.25 each.

Next stop was B&Q for some fleece as I am on a mission to save my rhododendron from getting hit this winter by the frosts. The buds will begin opening soon as it is an early variety and last year they were ruined by the harsh weather. We got a pack of three large bags and DH has now ‘bagged’ it and I must say it does look like a bit of a monster in the garden when it catches my eye through the kitchen window, but hopefully it will do the job of protecting it from the elements.

We had a trip round to TK Max too for a couple of storage jars I had seen earlier in the week, disappointingly the tall one which I wanted for the spaghetti had gone so I had to pay quite a bit more for one from Sainsbury’s which is almost identical but £3 dearer. I love the fact they are glass and the lids are made from bamboo – only the seal is plastic.

Whilst in Sainsbury’s I noticed these little teapots with a built in strainer had been reduced to half price – £6. I have been looking at them for ages now with an idea to using the cheaper loose leaf tea as tea bags can be quite expensive for the organic decaf ones I prefer.

So that was the shopping expedition and by the time we arrived back home it was almost time to make the tea. I have been using up odd bits and pieces of veg so nothing goes to waste – I steam them, then place them in an ovenproof dish cover with a cheese sauce and add a sprinkling of sesame seeds and flaked almonds then bake in the oven or just brown the top under the grill….and in no time you have a very tasty supper dish served with a mound of mixed greens. We usually always eat at the dining table in the kitchen but occasionally it is nice to indulge ourselves and eat our supper on a tray by the fire, especially when the weather is raging outside, and just watch whatever is on the TV.

Staying cosy and warm by the fire is a good oppotunity for me to start knitting another baby jumper – I hadn’t actually noticed that the pattern had a pattern until I came to start knitting it and I am feeling quite pleased with myself that it worked out and does resemble the pattern in the picture. As a novice knitter it is always daunting to come across something new but I coped and the rest of the jumper is quite plain. I have chosen the age 1-2 years size in the hope that it will fit one of the grandchildren and that they won’t have grown out of it before I finish it.

On Sunday we awoke to the sound of wind whistling around the house and knew the storm was now taking hold. The rain was lashing at the windows and at 11am the electricity went off, flickered back into life a little, then went again but this time was off until about 3pm. The house was mighty cold by the time it was back on but we do have a gas fire in the living room – shame we only thought about it part way through and switched it on! Lunch was a can of soup cooked on our little camping stove and we were at least able to make ourselves a cup of tea.

It is funny how everything you think to do during a power cut involves electricity! In the end when I realised ironing, hoovering, washing and cooking were all jobs I couldn’t do we got out the kitchen plans again to try and resolve the many issues of all the units / appliances etc that are not going to fit where we would ideally like them.

Today I wanted to get a few jobs done so DH made the lunch – mushroom soup, delicious as ever, and for tea I needed to use up some left over mashed potato in the fridge and finish off the leeks – so the Crank’s Homity Pie was just the right recipe for this (althought they use onion but I much prefer leeks).

So that was my last few days – nothing too taxing and certainly nothing very exciting, just normal day to day stuff. Hope everyone has managed to stay safe and warm during the storm – more bad weather is forecast over the next few days – I have cleaning to do.

creating health and wellbeing

I am not sure our recent cosy supper meals are strictly that healthy – pastry, mashed potato and cheese is quite heavy and loaded with carbs – but at this time of year it feels warming and satisfying against this continuing chilly weather. Our lunch time meals of soup or winter salads are much better and I found a couple of brilliant books in the library called Savour by Amber Locke and The Soup Cleanse by Angela Blatteis.

I wasn’t particularly going to attempt a soup cleanse but the information in the book is well woth a read. I now know that amongst other things almonds regulate cholesterol levels, beetroot lowers blood pressure, as does spinach, and sunflower seeds strengthen bones.

I can recommend the book Savour – the photos are just brilliant and so colourful and I love her ideas for garnishing the soups with shredded veg, spiced roasted chickpeas, oven roasted Tofu or crumbled goats cheese – she manages to turn soup into a very healthy and nutritious meal and it is these ‘additions’ that I will be concentrating on in the next few weeks to add variety to our soup and pack them full of healthy nurtients.

Exercises are high on my list – I admit it is not an area that I am good at – in fact the words ‘fail’ and ‘miserably’ spring to mind. As hard as I try I do not seem to be able to get any routine or rhythmn going – I am at best hit and miss and at worst do absolutely nothing. I have all of the intentions but am lacking in action.

I have now printed down from the internet examples of the same exercises suggested by my physio (although she drew little stick men – I needed something more visual to help me remember them).

One of my comments recently from Linda (Occasional Scotland) was to write down the date when I do the exercises – I did this and it sure hit home that there were gaps in between the days and I am not doing them as often as I think I am. (No surprises there).

Part of the reason is just a sheer lack of time and constantly being away from home and having to play catch up – part of the reason is that although when I get down to doing them I actually enjoy them and feel better afterwards it is obviously the getting down to doing them that is my sticking point. I really am not a routine person.

Margaret another commenter asked what the exercises are for my knee – so here is the list – you can find them on the internet and you tube under these or similar headings.

  • Straight leg raises (and with belt)
  • Diastasis recti exercise
  • Side lying straight leg lifts
  • standing glute kickbacks
  • Glute bridges

So this week I am concentrating on the exercises and some serious healthy meal planning.

32 Replies to “dear diary :: weathering the weather”

  1. Dear Viv, thank you once again for another wonderful post. My goodness you do put everything into it and I really appreciate it. From our cold Southern Ontario winter I am enjoying all the differences in out worlds. Thank you for your effort and know that you make me smile. (-: Take care and cheers


  2. The little jumper for your grandchild will be adorable and the colour is so pretty. You seem to be progressing well with your knitting.
    I am a keen soup maker too and find it a good way to pack extra vegetables and fibre into our diet.i must make a pot about here times a week. I had a rummage in the freezer earlier this morning and retrieved a frozen block of chicken and vegetable soup which looks like it has split yellow peas as well.
    Neither Mike or I would ever become vegetarian but we do try to eat better quality meat and maybe less frequently than previously. I think vegetarian food can become a bit carb heavy in winter unless you give it a lot of thought. Much easier with a huge variety of salads in summer.
    Keep up the exercises, you put me to shame!


    1. I know exactly what you mean about carb heavy – it is not often we have pastry meals but I do love potatoes and find sweet potatoes, which are better, just that – too sweet. I try to balance things out with lots of greens, pulses and rice rather than pasta or grains.
      I see nothing wrong with eating meat I brought both my daughters up to make their own choice – we had veggie at home but they ate meat at other places like school and granny’s house if they wanted. I would buy organic if I did though but that is just me.
      I do need to get a grip of this exercising!


  3. We got a “stump” teapot in Sainsbury’s sale last year. I love it. It pours well, and if I’m using teabags, it takes just one to brew two good cups of tea (I always used 2 in my previous pot) I reckon it has paid for itself, and I’ve saved over £25 in the cost of teabags in 2019. (we drink a lot of tea!) I hope you enjoy yours as much.


  4. So sorry that you’ve had power cuts. It’s such a disruption, and makes you realise what you take for granted. We have an open fire currently and have been getting quotes for installing a wood burning stove, but it’s another whole chunk of money that we may not want to spend right now with so much else streaming out of the bank accounts with the building work.
    I like the look of your exercises. I have the last 3 among mine. I have to say that I’m no paragon. My list of exercise dates shows I’ve missed the last 2 days – must get back on track today. Like you, I’m finding it hard to get into a routine at the moment. Last week was a week of multiple tradespeople roaming through the house, and because I didn’t do my exercises before breakfast there didn’t seem to be a space to do them for the rest of the day. I don’t know about you, but unless it’s an actual class that I’ve paid for I’m hopeless at doing exercises in the evening. Definitely on a wind-down towards sleep! But if you can get up a good run of days then you will notice the benefits and that will help to keep you motivated. That’s the annoying thing about muscles – they need time and regularity to strengthen, especially after a certain age. It would be so convenient if just reading the exercise sheets would do the same thing!
    It is so satisfying using up veg and bits and pieces. Just yesterday my husband commented that we seemed to be much better at doing that recently, and I do find it interesting devising ways to use fully what we’ve bought or grown.


    1. I secretly love ‘using up’ whatever it is – it is the completer finisher in me!! I cannot bin anything and probably send stuff far past selling to the charity shops – our village charity sells anything and there is always someone wants to buy it.
      Ahh the exercises – I read the books, watch the videos and then wonder why nothing helps me – it is because I don’t actually put the time in to do them!!


  5. Looking forward to seeing the pantry in the good light of day. Can well imagine how much fun it has been for you to find a place for everything–just the right place.

    As for weather-woes, as you remarked to Deb, there is more than enough of the bad stuff to share-no matter where one lives. We had your storm before it wended its way across the Pond and now we have more rain. Sigh. Just glad I don’t have to commute in it anymore. Will make spring days to come even more enjoyable by comparison–I hope.

    Love your new garden sculpture (aka bagged Rhodi). You need to name it–something like ‘the waiting chair’ or ‘before the bloom’. 🙂


    1. It is quite a ghostly shape especially in the twilight – it keeps making me jump! I like your names for it, I only hope that it doesn’t bloom inside the bag and we miss it. The last two years the buds had just opened and we had a dollop of snow or frost and the flowers dropped off early. I feel sorry for my daughter returning to work just as the bad weather is in full force.


  6. Your vegetable bake and Homity pie look delicious. I think they may both go on my menu 🙂
    I can’t wait to see your pantry finished and I love that you are enjoying setting it all out. I’m sure I shall be green with envy as I would love a pantry but we have no room for one. Instead I have a large shelf unit out in a brick built shed which we call The Apocalypse stores….lol. It does it’s job but I would love something pretty.


    1. We may have a pantry but the reason is because we have such a tiny kitchen and I was so fed up of scrabbling around on my knees trying to get things out of those corner cupboards. As I get older it gets harder. Even when we get a new kitchen in place the same ‘U’ shape plan is the only option so we will still have corner cupboards. Changing the downstairs cloakroom into a pantry has solved a lot of problems for us and now what is left in the kitchen cupboards is much easier to get at.
      I love the name of your store – you could hang a nice decorative heart or plaque on the door and make the inside pretty using shelf edging in crotched lace and then it would resemble something out of Country Living – in fact I am sure they would be interested to do a photo shoot as they are into ‘rustic’ country look at the moment!!


      1. I just couldn’t cope with wasted space and crawling down to corner cupboards so I went with parallel galley style , drawers with a big bench top/ breakfast bar, which is my fabulous work surface at perfect height.
        After 3 decluttering forays I realised there was so much stuff I just didn’t need.
        Looking forward to seeing the pantry all sorted and stocked.


        1. We considered doing away with the sink unit at the end of the units but it isn’t possible to then fit the sink, fridge and cooker in easily – pleased it worked for you though. We are going to access one corner unit from the other side via the dining room – in fact we will just create a hole for cookery books. The other one will just hold very long term storage or may even end up as wasted space but we will not be losing a lot. We are looking at pan drawers this time round – they had not been invented when this existing kitchen was put in!


  7. It has been quite some weather hasn’t it. I am so glad to hear that you have not been flooded. I hear you on the getting into a routine with things. I do exercise every morning too, in my case it is yoga, I have been struggling to make it happen too, weirdly since changing my housework routine I have found it so much easier to make my yoga happen too! Not quite what I was expecting but my mornings now have a lovely shape to them. I hope you can find a way to make it all work too.


    1. Now we are both at home all the time I don’t think my mornings do have very much shape to them – there is something to be said for going out to work. I keep trying though and am sure something will evolve that I am happy with.


  8. For a novice knitter you have a beautiful tension! I really feel for people who have been flooded. The amount of damage done and the time it takes to get things back to normal must be heartbreaking, stressful and also very costly.

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a plant being wrapped in fleece but what a good idea if it saves it from the frost. I might buy some for myself lol. Those homity pies look delicious and just the sort of thing I’d enjoy. Enjoy putting the finishing touches to your pantry. xx


  9. The baby jumper looks beautiful, a site that has lovely free beginner patterns is Tin Can Knits and their Flax or Flax light ( different ply yarn) is top down so you can play with sleeve and body length. I did a toddler size to get my head around the construction , it’s pretty easy, then knit 3 adult size.😁


    1. Thanks for that information Margo I will certainly look into that. Sometimes I am able to get a lot done then it gets left for a while – unfortunately the grandchildren don’t stop growing in my dormant periods!


  10. Loved reading about your “normal day to day stuff” as each one of us live such different lives, even if we think it is only mundane and not that interesting 🙂
    Hot comfort food while snuggled down indoors sounds great for those horrid winter days. Being in the heat of summer here, we are having salads with all the windows open and the fans all turned on.


    1. Sometimes it is hard to get your head round the fact that whilst it is freezing cold in one part of the world it is extremely hot in another. In some ways the world feels very small – TV and air flights has made it so because we can access it easily now but in fact we are thousands of miles away so not surprising really that the weather varies so much.
      I am always interested in other peoples ordinary lives too. x


  11. Such a full post Vivien that it is difficult to choose which piece to comment on! You have convinced me to go back to loose leaf tea. I don’t even know when or why I started to use tea bags! Your knitting is very well done and so intricate – a lovely soft colour too. I am sure I am going to have pantry envy. I have always wanted a pantry as my kitchen drawers and cupboards get warm in my tiny kitchen. I would prefer a walk in pantry to a walk in wardrobe! I hope you are having a good week. x


  12. How lucky to have other power sources besides electricity. Imagine if you had no gas and no wood burner! It all sounds so cosy. You make me want to join you for soup, Viv. I can read whilst you knit.

    I have a little tea pot with a basket for the leaves. We rarely use tea bags anymore. I only use them at work. Too much unnecessary rubbish. And the pot with a little insert to hold the leaves takes no time to make and empty. Mr S has his favourite tea pot which also has an insert. His is bigger. A six cup pot. He drinks huge mugs.

    I love the knitting – beautiful colour and pattern. I could never do one where my errors in slipped stitches and irregular tension showed.


    1. When I first started knitting it was a bit like knit one, slip one or lose one. Luckily now even after a few years not knitting it all starts to come back and You Tube is great when I need more advice.. Thats a lot of tea for Mr S!!


  13. I had to scoot by to make sure you were okay – the weather has been so scary. You should dress your rhodedendron up like that for Halloween, it would be awesome. The soup books sound awesome, and may invest as I have ordered a soupmaker. And thank you for the heads up about the teapot at Sainsburys. I was gifted some loose, flavoured tea by friends and my insulated pots wouldn’t really work with it. Take care x


  14. I try to ignore the weather January through March and just get on with things, except when there are storms. I hesitate to buy tickets to shows because I’d lose out if the show went ahead and I chose not to drive in the snow! But there is always stress around making necessary appointments and wondering if you can get there. We had a snow day in January for which both of our workplaces were closed all day AND there were no power outages: everyone keeps their fingers crossed for a few of those each winter (so cozy!) but of course they are rare.

    I love your new purchases, your knitting and your scary rhododendron 🙂


    1. I know what you mean about buying tickets. I even hesitate when the weather is good as often I have booked things ahead of time and then something happens and we find we have to cancel. I am dithering now about booking to see another Alan Ayckbourn play in June.


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