Sunday Stealing – The Wish List Meme, Part 2

Here it is, the long awaited part 2 of the The Wish List. For part 1, click here. Why not give it a go yourself? Send me a link to your answers if you wish to steal from me. After all, it’s in the spirit of the meme that we steal from each other so go for it!


26.) If you had to order from a kid’s menu, what would you get? 

Fish fingers

27.) Do you speak any other languages?

I can get by to order food and find my way about in France, but I wouldn’t profess to be a “speaker”.

28.) Do you use Twitter? 

Occasionally. My WordPress posts are notified on there and I sometimes like to follow hashtags when we’re watching something on TV like the final of X Factor or something.

29.) Do you go onto YouTube? 

Yes. I get a bit of music ideas from there, especially to accompany my prayers in church and for some praise music too.

30.) Do you play Angry Birds? 

I used to but I got to the point where I couldn’t go any further and gave up.

31.) Do you like theme parties? 

I don’t mind them, depends on the theme!

32.) Do you like current cartoons? 

They seem to be incredibly dumbed down to the point of insulting, so no, I don’t. I remember when we were kids and we watched Scooby Doo there was an element of intelligence about it, whereas now the current ones are banal and so one dimensional they are just pap and aren’t worth watching. Things like Spongebob annoy me too, so again, no, I don’t like current cartoons. I love old ones though – give me Tom and Jerry any day!

tom and jerry

33.) Have you ever cried because you were so happy? 

Absolutely. Who hasn’t?!

34.) Who would you like to see in concert? 

I’d love to see Big Bad Voodoo Daddy in concert, but I’d want to get up on the stage and jam it up with the trumpet player!

35.) Can you swim well? 

I can swim well enough to save my life. I enjoy swimming lengths and can go for hours and hours but I can’t swim the front crawl with my face in the water so you decide, is that well enough to be considered a good swimmer?

36.) Ever won a contest? 

Yes – I’ve won solo prizes as a youngster and have won many contests with various bands over the years. My favourite was winning the National Finals in 2007 and we were promoted up a section. Happy days.

37.) Ever won a giveaway? 

Not that I can think of.

38.) Do you get a full 8 hours of sleep every night? 

Not nearly! I usually manage to sleep in 2 or 4 hour cycles before I wake up. Occasionally I sleep through but it’s not often.

39.) What tea do you like? 

Good old Tetley tea. Milk and half a sugar please.

tetley tea folk

40.) What mixed drink do you like? 

I like mixing fruit juice with a shot of vodka and topped up with soda water. This afternoon I had a cranberry and raspberry juice that way and it was refreshing and relaxing all at the same time. Nice!

41.) Do you shop at Walmart? 

We don’t have Walmart in the UK. I shop at Asda though, which is a sister company.

42.) Do you shop at Target? 

We don’t have that here either.

43.) What do you order at your local coffee shop? 

If I have a shop-bought coffee I’ll either have it just as coffee or as a treat now and again I’ll have a cappuccino.

44.) Do you drink bottled or tap water? 

Both. Lots of tap water but sometimes buy a bottle if I’m out and about. Also keep topped up bottles of tap water in the car too.

45.) Do you like homemade meals? 

That’s my preference but I can’t always do it so we eat out of the freezer or get by with beefed up snacks. Not the healthiest but it’s all we can manage at the moment!

46.) Do you like homemade baked goods? 

Absolutely, who doesn’t??!

47.) Do you shop online? 

I do.

48.) Name 3 stores online stores you would like to shop at: 

Amazon, eBay, Asda

49.) What holiday don’t you like? 

This would mean something different to UK people because “holidays” are what we do in the summer when we either fly off to the sun somewhere or head out with our tents and camp it up in Great Britain. I am guessing that the question is asking about Halloween, or Valentines or something? If so, then I don’t like any of the over-commercialised ones. Oh hang on, that’s most of them isn’t it?!

50.) What do you eat more when you’re sick? 

Probably I eat more soup. And toast. Can’t beat toast when you’re ill.



Horses for Courses

Meat (Photo credit: Divine Harvester)

It’s an old saying – “horses for courses” – meaning that for every horse there is a suitable course for it to run…but it has taken on a new meaning here in the UK recently and I find myself wondering about it in the context of which course it should be eaten in as part of a meal.

You may be aware of the news stories that horse meat has been found in numerous products in our supermarkets. The news first broke a couple of weeks ago that Tesco were selling burgers with traces of horse meat in them. That quickly changed to burgers with “significant quantities” of horse meat in them. Then it wasn’t just Tesco, but most of the other supermarkets as well who were selling meat products containing horse meat. Food was removed from supermarkets up and down the country because the reason that it was “contaminated” with meat from non-beef sources.

There are hundreds of jokes on the internet about it – “I don’t mind Asda burgers but I prefer My Lidl Pony” being one of my favourites, alongside “Tesco are removing their veggie burgers from the shelves because they suspect they contain traces of uniquorn” – but there are some really serious issues here.

Firstly, we are being peddled food products labelled as “beef” that quite clearly isn’t beef at all. The latest company to admit this is Findus who today have informed us that their beef lasagne contains up to 100% horse meat. ONE HUNDRED PERCENT HORSE MEAT?? So, no beef then? How can they sell something that it quite clearly isn’t? If it says it is beef, then it should BE beef. There are laws against that aren’t there?

Secondly, how can these companies not know that their beef supplies have been compromised and they have been purchasing horse meat all along? Maybe they knew about it and because it was a cheaper meat they thought they could get away with substituting it? I don’t know, but I’m asking the question about them cheating their customers.

Thirdly, if these companies didn’t know they were getting horse meat instead of beef, what else is in their supplies that they don’t know about? What quality controls are in place to make sure the meat isn’t contaminated with unlicensed drugs (animal antibiotics or steroids for example) or other contaminants that we don’t know about? How can we be sure that the animals have been slaughtered humanely and hygienically? The short answer is that we can’t.

All that to one side – that we have been fobbed off with alternative meat to that which is labelled, possibly contaminated by drugs and other substances and from unchecked sources – what is it about horse meat that makes us Brits so squeamish?

It is well known that horse meat is eaten widely on the Continent and in other areas of the world, and history teaches us that horse meat was eaten here too when economic times were tough. So why don’t we eat it now? Is it because we are so fond of our horses as pets, or as sources of gambling income? But not everyone can afford to keep a horse as a pet, and not everyone bets on the gee-gees, so why don’t we see them as a food source? We eat rabbits, and the same argument could be applied there – they are most definitely domestic pets!! – yet we generally don’t get that squeamish about eating them.

Maybe there’s something in the name we use for it. We call cow meat “beef”, pig meat is “pork” and sheep meat is “mutton”. We call chicken, ducks, geese “poultry” and so on, so what if part of our squeamishness comes from the name “horse meat”? Would we be more accepting if it was called something else? Cheval, perhaps.

I saw a TV phone in this morning and they were discussing the latest in the horse meat story, and they were asking people to phone in to say whether they would still eat the 8 for £1 burgers if they were labelled as horse meat, and by and large (although it was only a small sample of people who expressed their opinion) the answer was “yes”. As quality food is getting to the stage where most people can’t afford it and rely on ready meals to feed their families, then maybe we do have to address the issue of consuming alternative meats such as horse. If it is cheaper and leaner than traditional beef, then why not make it widely available to everyone?  My own feelings are that if I were to purchase a ready-made lasagne from a budget range and it was labelled as horse meat then I would think twice about it. If there was a softer name for it I probably wouldn’t mind and would tuck in with gusto. In fact, I probably have already done so thinking it was beef not so long ago!

It does raise the question about the cost of “real” food: we are being told to eat more healthily, cut down the fat, the salt and sugar in our food, to eat fresh and not rely on processed food etc. Which is great and noble, but in these days where families are cash- and time-strapped, how are we supposed to do that day in day out?

We have seen a 400% rise in the number of people who use food banks in the last two years alone. Those food banks don’t generally have a massive glut of fresh meat and fresh vegetables, they tend to be made up of processed and convenience foods such as the ones that we are talking about here. It makes me wonder what has happened to all that food that the supermarkets have removed from their shelves in the last couple of weeks. I wouldn’t bet it has gone to feed people in genuine need, horse meat or not.

My final point about this food debacle is that it has highlighted just how far we have come in the space of a generation and our attitudes towards food, families and home economics. We can no longer rely on our high street butcher for our weekly meat purchases because the supermarkets have priced them out of most people’s budgets (and now we know how!); there is a huge gap in our home economic knowledge of how to make fresh and healthy meals quickly and on a tight budget (they managed in the Second World War, why can’t we now?) and despite the glut of cookery books available to us from a whole plethora of celebrity chefs, we STILL don’t know to make the best out of what we have available to us. The cookery skills needed to make decent home-made burgers are sadly lacking. We know how to confit duck legs for example, but bubble and squeak or toad in the hole? Forget it.

So, to finish, I heard today that the boss of Findus was skittish about going into the TV studio to be interviewed about his company. Apparently he had to be blindfolded, spun around three times and backed into the studio he was that nervous!

We’re having spaghetti bolog-neighs for tea tonight.

Your comments, as always, are welcome.





Failed Resolution #1

Conversation between Kevin and me whilst Christmas shopping in Asda two days before Christmas:

ME: I’m just going to get a bunch of that mint.

KEVIN: Don’t get any mint, you never use any and it will still be there in the middle of January.

ME: No, honest, I’m going to make Mojitos over Christmas. In fact, I’ll get two!

KEVIN: Pam, you NEVER use any herbs you buy in Asda, don’t get any.

ME: Kevin you’re such a spoilsport. I’m sure Emma would love some Mojitos and you can’t make them without mint!!

KEVIN: Don’t pick them up, they’ll go rotten….

ME: I promise, I’m going to use these (placing them triumphantly into the basket). In fact you can call it my first resolution this year = “I will only ever buy herbs in the supermarket that I am definitely going to use USE……”.




Kevin 1, Pam nil……



Sunday Stealing – The Twenty-Fiver Meme

I am in the mood for a bit of lightness on my blog today and so I hopped over to my favourite rip-off site to borrow one of their memes to join in with. You can find them here at Sunday Stealing: The Twenty-Fiver Meme if you fancy having a look at what they’re up to. The only rule they have is that if you borrow a meme then credit it back to the person you borrowed it from. Cheers to all of us thieves!
1. Tell us about something that made you laugh last night. We have been catching up with Red Dwarf on TV recently in anticipation of the new series, and Ethan loves doing the comedy walk a-la Cat. He did it last night going in and out of the living room and he had me rocking with laughter!

2. What were you doing at 8 PM last night? Apart from watching Ethan doing his Cat impression, we were tucking in to home-made burritos and the first bottle of wine in about three weeks.

The makings of our burritos for tea, plus a bowl of garlic breaded mushrooms. Good old Asda!

3. What were you doing 30 minutes ago? I was reading (Ivy Malone book 2) and half watching Come Dine With Me over the top of my Kindle.

4. What happened to you in 2006? (Feel free to republish an old post from ’06.) 2006 was the year that we got our first caravan. We took it on a trip to Scotland and it was a great summer holiday. Very happy!!

5. What was the last thing you said out loud? I took a cup of tea out to Kevin (“sorting out” the garage this afternoon…..) and I said “Here y’are”.

6. How many beverages did you have today? Cup of tea with breakfast, cup of coffee after church, glass of water with my lunch, cup of tea just now and a glass of water to take some medication. That would make a total of 5.

7. What colour is your hairbrush? Black and grey.

8. What was the last thing you paid for? Groceries in Asda yesterday.

9. Where were you last night? At home with my boys.

10. What colour is your front door? It’s white, but we don’t use it. We always use the back door (which is on the side of the house, just to confuse things) and it’s black.

11. Where do you keep your change? In my purse or in little piles all around the house. It makes finding Ethan’s bus fare for school a bit like a treasure hunt each morning!

12. What’s the weather like today? It has been extremely sunny, then really muggy, then we had a sudden cloud-burst, then it went back to a bit sunny and is now getting muggy again.

13. What’s the best ice-cream flavour? Honey and ginger.

14. What excites you? Music!! I love playing it, listening to it, arranging it, conducting it, talking about it, planning for it…. cut me in half and I bleed crochets and quavers!

15. Do you want to cut your hair? Funnily enough, no. I had it cut on Friday thank you.

16. Are you over the age of 35? I certainly am.

17. Do you talk a lot? Not really. For one thing I spend a lot of time alone, and for another, I seem to have lost a lot of my self-confidence in the last couple of years so even when I’m in company I tend to keep my thoughts to myself.

18. Do you watch Franklin and Bash? No, never heard of it.

19. Do you know anyone named Steven? My cousin is called Stephen, but his name is spelled with “ph” not “v”.

20. Do you make up your own words? I’m not that clever!

21. Are you a jealous person? Meh… I used to be, but not now. I have come to terms with a lot of things that made me jealous in the past but I’m a happier person nowadays and I’m happy to just let things be.

22. What does the last text message you received say? “I’m staying out after all. I’ve fed the men and I’ll see you tomorrow”.

23. Where’s the next place you’re going to? The kitchen to make some food.

24. Who’s the rudest person in your life? I couldn’t possibly say because they read this blog sometimes!! All I will say is that this person is a very self-centred person anyway and therefore rudeness is second nature to him. He doesn’t even see the need for anyone else’s point of view or concerns etc so therefore he has the right to ride roughshod over whatever anyone else is saying/thinking/doing/suggesting/arguing…

25. Are you crushing on anyone that you shouldn’t be? Not at the moment, no. But would I really tell you that on a public place such as this website if I were?! Go figure!




My Day Today

Today has been an unusual day in the Smith household. Kevin and I have found ourselves childless for the day for the first time in about 19 years. Ethan was out with the Youth Band at the Severn Valley Railway and their 1940s reenactment weekend, and Emma was working all day today which left us on our own for the first time in so long it felt weird!!

Well, weird for the first five minutes anyway. We were able to go to the church coffee morning without having to clock-watch for picking Ethan up from Music Centre (his usual band on a Saturday morning) and we were able to have dinner at McDonalds without having to argue first. Not only that but the trip round Asda afterwards was an absolute breeze! No arguing, no saying “don’t touch that”, “don’t pick that up”, “put that down”, “no you can’t have it….” a million times each. No distractions, no wondering where the boy was because we’d moved aisles and he was sulking somewhere near the cheese. No dodging out of the way of the boy’s dodgy trolley-management technique that involves skinning the back of your Achilles tendon every ten steps or so. No fifteen hundred questions about the differences between the fruits in the greengrocery section. Ah…. bliss!! We even managed to get all the shopping home in one piece and get it all put away without most of it being demolished by a famished teenager who could easily eat his own bodyweight in food twice a day if he was allowed to.

We dodged the rain in the car park – hilariously there was a mercurial change in the weather that saw a little pitter pat of rain as we loaded the car turn into a total drain-blocking cloudburst the second Kevin stepped away to take the trolley back to the little shelter. He took refuge in the trolley shelter with a couple of other people who got caught out, but the rain was bouncing so hard back up and inside it that his jeans were soaked right through to his skin up as far as his knees!

It was nice to just have a nice chilled out day together, having a chat, having a laugh, enjoying each other’s company and having just a general “isn’t it great when you don’t have to look out for the kids all the time” kind of a day. We had planned on doing a lot today, like a bit of housework that I’ve not been able to manage all week and need help with, and finally getting to grips with how we’re going to finish our bedroom off (it still looks like part-office, part-bedroom) but we just settled for coffee, shopping and watching the tennis. I even had time to literally stop and smell the roses this morning.

Here’s a photo of one of the roses in our front garden taken this morning on our way out. It’s beautiful isn’t it?

After 26 years together, I think we’ve learned that these types of days really are the best.


Quick edit: here’s my son playing his trombone earlier today at the Severn Valley Railway. Proud mummy!!!!

A-Z April 2012

S is for Six Word Saturday

S is for Six Word Saturday

I have only ever participated in the Six Word Saturday meme a handful of times, and I thought that seeing as though today is Saturday and today’s letter in the A-Z challenge is S it was too good a coincidence not to capitalise on.

My six words today are:







I’m not sure whether I’m supposed to leave it at that or whether to give you a sentence about each one so if you just want to know the six words then stop reading NOW but if you want the explanation, scroll down and keep reading 🙂

Snooker – it’s the start of the 17 day snookerfest that is the World Championships today. I love my snooker and it’s the perfect backdrop to….

Crochet – I started another blanket today using big granny squares and a variegated yarn. I need to occupy my hands and my mind because I have had to take….

Tramadol – the episode that started building up last weekend is still in full throttle and I am starting to doubt my ability to keep it together until it passes. The pain is still cutting through the tramadol and whenever I catch my reflection in the mirror I look like Caspar. I thought I would chance my arm this morning by going to…

Church – we have a weekly CAMEO session at church on a Saturday morning (Come And Meet Each Other) and I usually go for a chat and a coffee with some of the other ladies who do handicrafts. My Mum was on a training course today and she’d asked me to run the session today which I was glad to do but has left me really struggling to get comfortable because of the pain this afternoon. Kevin has had to do the weekly shop on his own this afternoon (I’m just not up to a trolley dash round Asda today) and he is bringing back…

Pizza – don’t know what it is about Asda’s create-your-own pizzas but they are rather delish. We are having one tonight because a) I don’t want to cook and b) we’ve not had one for weeks and are getting withdrawal symptoms! We will be having pizza, garlic bread and breaded mushrooms and salad for tea while we enjoy…

Music – on TV tonight. A veritable feast on both sides tonight!! First off it’s The Voice at 7pm on BBC1 and when that goes off at 8.30 it’s a quick turn over to ITV to catch Britain’s Got Talent. By the end of that I suspect I’ll be more than ready for bed haha!!

Are you glad you stuck with the explanation or would you have preferred the enigmatic list beforehand? What would your six words be today? A sentence will do if you don’t want to share six different things but either way I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to and/or what you are planning for today!


Tea Tonight

Gotta share it with you….tonight’s tea was a stonker!!!

As you may or may not know (or care) our finances are in dire straights at the moment and so finding interesting meals that are not only nutritious but cheap to make has become a bit of a quest for me. Tonight’s tea was something that I’ve not tried before and I’m really pleased to say it has turned out rather well. Unfortunately there’s no picture….we ate it before I thought to take a photo of it…but I’m sure you can imagine what it would have looked like!!

Pam’s Bacon and Spinach Spaghetti:

Throw some frozen chopped onion into a pan with some olive oil and garlic granules (Asda do a brilliant selection of frozen vegetables for £1 a bag – these chopped onions are a complete godsend). While they are cooking and browning a bit, put a pack of spaghetti into some boiling salted water. To feed 5 of us, I used a 350g bag and it was plenty.

When the onions are defrosted and starting to brown, throw in a pack of bacon pieces. I had a 125g pack of smoked bacon lardons in the fridge, but I suppose you can use proper bacon or the unsmoked bacon pieces if you like. I could have done with a bit more in ours tonight, but because I used smoked bacon, the flavour was there even though the meat content was a bit low!

Next, put in about 350g of chopped frozen spinach (from Asda again!) with a bit of water and then cover the pan with a lid til it has defrosted. You might need to mash it around a bit with a wooden spoon as it defrosts, and don’t be alarmed as your onions go green.

Once the spinach is defrosted and spread around the onions and bacon, add four tomatoes that have been cut into cubes, season with salt and pepper and cover the pan again for a couple of minutes. By now the spaghetti should have cooked so drain it and add it to the spinachy/bacony mixture. Stir in a 350ml pot of creme fraiche and serve it to your hungry tribe immediately.

Total cost of the meal:

Spaghetti – £1 (multibuy at Asda), bacon pieces – 50p (multibuy from Iceland), onion – approx 5p (portion of a £1 bag from Asda), Spinach – approx 30p (1/3rd of a bag costing £1 from Asda), creme fraiche – £1.15 = £4 for 5 grown ups

Feeling rather full and rather pleased with myself!!




Saturday’s Post

I was struggling for something interesting to write about today, and I thought you might like to hear what I’ve been up to today, Saturday 20th August 2011.

Nothing spectacular I hasten to state!! I suppose you could say that today has been “significant” rather than “spectacular”.  You may or may not know that my sickness benefit has now been stopped (I will write about that at another time, when I can speak about it without getting angry and shouting at my laptop screen) and as such, money and cashflow are MAJOR issues in the household. I am reluctant to sacrifice health for cost, so I have been working hard to find ways of saving money and spreading what we have that little bit further.

This morning was the first step in the “shopping for food” category of spreading our cash further, which saw me having a look for “store cupboard cooking”, and “meals to make from a few ingredients” and I was really chuffed to fall upon a couple of websites that were really helpful. First off, thank you to, which turned out to be a complete surprise for me because I thought they would be full of yummy mummies with more time on their hands than common sense, but as it turned out their recipes look to be really inspiring.

Also, a big hand clap goes to the BBC Good Food who have got a huge plethora of ideas on the healthy-but-cheap side of things.

The biggest cheer should go to Sainsbury’s who, with their “feed a family for a fiver” campaign have come up with oodles of great meal ideas that (for once) don’t include a load of strange ingredients, and are genuinely within the reach of people who are struggling to make ends meet. Or meat, in our case.

So, armed with a binder full of recipe ideas from these three sources I set off with my husband to Costco, Aldi and Asda to stock our cupboards, freezer and fridge with all the necessaries to see us through the next couple of weeks. Bearing in mind that the kids are still off school and lunchtimes have to be counted for (I don’t usually eat when I’m home alone) it was no mean feat to kick of our £400-to-feed-a-family-of-five-for-the-month budget to a flying start.

For tea/supper/dinner* (delete as appropriate for your distance away from Manchester) we are having chili with bacon and onion potato skins, and I have tried to make falafels for the first time. They look ok, but we’ve not tasted them yet….I’ll let you know how it goes!

We’re settling down to watch the X-factor now. Oh god, Christmas is on the way!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Saturday Six

Saturday Six


Six things I’ve done today:
1. Dropped some furniture at The Mustard Tree

2. Collected my prescriptions

3. Bought a bookcase or two

4. Been to Asda for tea

5. Lost my rag with my husband

6. Drunk my fair share of 2 bottles of wine

Happy saturday everyone!!