The intention: No Spend January

Happy New Year! Here’s hoping that it’s a year full of love, health and happiness for you. We hope you’ve had a brilliant Christmas and Santa delivered everything you wished for. My two (and me) have been spoilt and got to spend some gorgeous time with our family too. We’re feeling blessed.

Oh how can it be over so soon, Delilah?

I have mixed feelings about 2021. I mean another covid year for a start, but it gave me my wonderful son. So who could be happy to say goodbye to newborn days, the new baby smell and all the newborn cuddles? But besides the loveliness, there’s been some moments I’m happy to be leaving behind in good ole ’21.

My little Euan boy

With January 1st comes the refreshed hope for the new year and version 6.8 of our best selves. And for the last few years I’ve not taken part. I’ve well and truly left the resolution making to the well meaning and permanently optimistic among us. I’ve honestly not made a single resolution, for at least three years, because I’ve given in to the forgone conclusion that by the 8th I’ll be no longer doing my best or chasing the resolution. On lucky years, I have probably last till about the 23rd of the month max, then those old habits have crept back in.

This year however, I thought I’d give a no spend January ago. Its only and month, that’s simply 31 days to not buy anything absolutely necessary. So here’s the plan. Pay the bills, meal plan and stick to a list for shopping, and anything apart from the essentials will be staying in the shops while my pennies stay firmly in my own pocket for a change. Anything saved from this endeavour will be planted into savings.

I intend to meal plan weekly, I’ll share my plans as I do them. They’ll be in keeping with slimming world and family friendly meals so I’ll link any borrowed recipes and share any I make up too. Weekends we will utilise local haunts and free things to do, packing picnics and snacks if the rain holds out or we find indoor picnic spots.

Ideas for no spend incoming!

I’ll be plotting out my incoming and outgoings for the month with you, which I know will be tight as I’m currently on maternity pay, coming off that and going back to work which will leave me brassic for a week or two because where the mat pay stops and my wage starts there’s a lull in the middle. This will actually be the first time I’ve ever committed to a no spend month, and I know my bank account will be looking forward to it. I’ve always found money difficult to manage and talk about(I’ll go into why another time), but I’d really like to change that this year.

How about you? Will you join me? Have you done a no spend month before? Do you think I’ll stick it out?

Love and best,
L, xox.

DIY Jam and a Touch of Green Stuff

I’ve been spending my mornings inspecting my garden veg patch and I take delight in seeing my produce grow. This morning was no different apart from my poor tiny cucumber plant had been munched by some little critter (slugs I expect). So with a quick question to my Facebook gardening community, I got outside dug it out of its little space in the veg bed and re-potted it. Turna out it was far too early to be planting a cucumber outside anyway. Lesson learnt! It’s now safely inside the propagator/mini greenhouse with the hope it might survive it’s near death experience.

Miniature Cucumber plant; clearly the slugs had a party.

Lettuce, kale and radishes are doing pretty damn perfect in the veg bed. The peas are peeping, the carrots have started to sprout, rainbow chard is popping up left, right and centre too. Leeks are few and far between with only about 4 sprouting so far but beetroot looks good at the moment. My chillie plant on the other hand is inside on the kitchen windowsill and it is thriving. It makes me ridiculously happy to see it all doing so well.

Chillie plant.
Red lettuce
Carrot seedlings
Peas peeping

Today had been awfully miserable weather wise. We’ve been tuck inside our four walls, jigsawing and baking. Dee and I made some fruit and cherry scones and some homemade jam. Bit of a use it up/budget bake to be honest but after just paying for our new kitchen (doing a little dance) which has used up our savings entirely we should be watching what we spend so it’s not a bad thing.

The jam was easy. Frozen mixed berries I used about 500g from the freezer along with sugar to taste (about 2 tbsp) boil the heck of it. Mash the berries together a little Take it right up to 105c and then pour it carefully into a pre-serialized jar. We like the seeds in but strain it if you dont, but please be careful as it’s like molton lava when its finished cooking. But yum, how easy!

Mixed Berry Jam.

Happy jammin’

Love,

L, xox

How To: Dog Treats

Making something seem the sweetest way to pass some abundant time during lockdown. If like me you’re totally sick of eating your baked good right now and do not want to put on another half pound, pound or hell even a stone, then might I suggest a treat for our four legged friends?

Dee and I make “Aro Doggie Biscuits”. Super simple, “easy squeezy peasy lemons” as Dee would say (then follow it up with “I’m a funny thing mummy” and a big cheesy grin on her darling face). There are only 4 ingredients (3 if you dont count water) and super great for little ones to help you out with or just take over till its time for popping them in the oven. I’ve adapted this recipe from one I found online, if I can find the link again I will post the original.

Ingredients:

1 & 1/2 cups of Plain Flour

1 Egg

2 tbsp of peanut butter (optional)

Water enough to form a dough

You guessed it, combine all the dry ingredients till thoroughly combined. Add in the peanut butter and tablespoons of water until it forms a soft (but not sticky) dough. We used our hands but feel free to use a dough hook in a mixer or a fork or spoon or whatever is to hand. I ain’t prescriptive about these things.

Roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick and then use a cutter to make small shapes. If you have no cutter, just get creative, use your hands and make little shapes that way. On a lined tray, bake for around 12-15 minutes at about 180. Perfect little treats, made by you for your furry friends.

How simple right? A tiny activity to get on with in lockdown. That’ll take up at least half an hour (including the washing up).

I hope the majestic floof in your life enjoys as much as Aro Doggy does.

Love,

L, xox

Apple Crumble(v) and A Missed Easter

We made a use it up crumble.

And here is the recipe. It’s totally vegan unless you choose otherwise; so stay wild moon child and eat this to your own taste, vegan or not its delish.

Baked apple crumble, straight from the oven.
A recipe for a classic favourite, with a vegan twist.

Ingredients

120g Plain Flour
60g Vegan Buter
60g Caster Sugar
40g Oats

A round about method (and commentary).

Get your hands in! Rub the butter into the flour until a breadcrumb consistency. We like a mixture of fine and larger breadcrumbs. Add the oats and sugar and mix it well.

For this particular crumble I peeled 5 small apples we had left over in the fruit bowl and 2 small pears. I sliced the apples and chopped the pear in to cubes, threw them in the old school enamel pie dish we inherited from Mans Nan (we lost her just before Christmas and we miss her so). I mixed in about 30g of sugar and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon because, well cinnamon and apple; enough said.

Cover it over with your crumble topping (great to mix in a handful of chopped pecans if you have them too) bake for about an hour until golden and crisp on top. I use a gas oven currently and I go medium to low heat for this one.

Enjoy your crumble – served with custard, ice cream, cream or your fave vegan alternative. I had a bit with alpro plain yogurt. Delish.

Dog pretending not to look at a bowl of apple crumble
Aro the dog looking at our homemade apple crumble.

We’ve had an indoor/outdoor kind of day. We’re in week 3 of lock down and these days are merging into one. Don’t know what day it is most hours and the fact is, it could be three months of this. I’m hoping to utilise some of the time to plan and knock out some publishables in prep for post lock down days, back to work times and ‘normality’ (what ever that is). In the meantime, we will cook, bake, laugh, love, play, make a mess (constantly), clean up the messes, drink wine, write, create and just be in our home.

Little girl in the grass with a watering can plant pot
Dee sits in the grass with her nuby cup and some sweet yellow flowers in a watering can.

As always, I am grateful for all that I have right here. I am however missing my family and my friends. I miss nipping to mum’s for a cuppa and a 3 hour chat. I miss randomly getting together with my sister and brothers, my friends, and of course my Grandma who is more isolated than ever. I miss my sweet nieces and my nephew. And we have fully missed my mum’s and step dad’s Easter Gathering with all of that side of my family. The Easter Bake Off competition we do, which I’ve been band from by the way (untouchable skills you see), the kids Easter hunt and just being together; laughing and enjoying the company. Until we can, know we miss you the most, love you the most and cant wait to see you.

L, xox