Saturday, 24 August 2019

Finishing off Challenge Four - Down to Basics

I didn't realise until the other day that I had never really ended Challenge Four - Down to Basics.  It was interrupted for a very good cause ... the Ration Challenge ... and then never returned to.

So I'm here today to bring things up to date.

These photos are of the cupboards in our Welsh home, as you can see much emptier, neater and slightly re-organised.  As we ate from the various cupboards and spaces appeared I took the opportunity to put like with like, to actually get rid of some very old foods that were seriously out of date and of no use to anyone, and to generally have a bit of a re-jig of the kitchen.

The top photo is my cupboard of jars, it 's always been a bit of a mish-mash, but now it is a slightly more logical one and it now also holds all of our the spices, mostly in the basket.

This is how it looked back in June.

This was my shelf of spices in the 'medicine' cupboard, now the medicine cupboard is just that ... and these things are all relocated into other cupboards.  Spices into the top photo and the tins into the one below. 

The main food cupboard.

This now contains all our condiments and all the tins of food.  Refreshingly there is nothing hidden behind the row of various packets of rice, noodles and jars of honey on the top shelf ... just empty space.

In June it looked like this.

So it's not really emptier now, just more logical and with like grouped with like.  It also makes knowing what I need to buy when out shopping a lot easier, as even just a quick glance at this photo tells me I have four cans of tomatoes left and once I use two of them it will be time to stock up again.

The 'baking' cupboard as it looked this morning ...

... and as it was in June.

The tall larder cupboard this morning ...

... and back in June.

Not so many snacks, treats and sweet things as I just don't eat them at the moment.  There will always be lots of tuna in there as it's Ginger's staple diet ... bloody fussy cat!!

So you can see we have been gradually eating our way through the extensive stores even if I haven't been blogging about it.  I always hold myself accountable to myself before anyone else.  So if I start something I do try and see it through.

I am on the verge of trialling a whole new and simpler way of shopping and eating with a limited number of foodstuffs but have been taking the time to see if this is viable or am I challenging myself a step too far.

Only I know the answer to that ... but of course I will let you in on what I decide  ;-) 

Sue xx

Thursday, 22 August 2019

And So I'm Back ...

'And so I'm back, from outer space.

I just walked in and found you here with that sad look upon your face.'

To slightly misquote Gloria ... I'm back  :-)

I pulled up the photos I had gotten lined up on the computer for my next Challenge and then decided I'm not ready for this Challenge yet.  But here they are anyway and my reason for taking them was shock and surprise, so it would be a shame not to share them and chat briefly about them. 

I photographed the Ecover refill station in Booths at Garstang as I was so pleased to see it there.  I immediately bought myself a bottle of liquid clothes washing stuff for use at the van and a small bottle of conditioner, with the idea that now I could just fill them up whenever I needed to and no longer have to worry at the lack of local recycling facilities.

Then literally along the next aisle, I came across this.


Crisps in a plastic bucket.

Bloody ridiculous.

Do people actually buy these ... and why?

My eyes were also drawn to this 'Natural Multi Cleaner' in a cardboard bottle and I thought what a brilliant idea ... then I saw the price!  

My first reaction was total astonishment, then I saw the little bottle in the bottom left-hand corner of the label that states '25 spray bottles' and I realised that this was a super-concentrated formula and therefore yes, a brilliant idea.  One bottle of this and you have enough product for 25 refills of your empty spray bottle and no need for an extra 24 plastic bottles needing recycling or going to landfill, and sooo much cheaper as well.  But I do think they need this information to be a lot bigger and a lot clearer at first glance.  How many just like me, have disregarded product this just because of cost and moved off before reading the label properly.

I Googled the company this morning and I am now of the opinion that yes, this is a good product and a really good idea ... they even say you can split the recyclable packaging when you have finished using the product and use the cardboard as a little planter.

*** *** ***

Anyway, this is all by the by as for now this is not my next Challenge, to be totally honest I'm not entirely sure what is, as we are still working our way through simplifying the cupboards, which was if I remember correctly Challenge Four - Down to Basics, the Challenge that was never really finished off properly on here as I jumped feet first into the Ration Challenge.  We have continued and done well, albeit rather slowly at this and although we have been shopping numerous times since I left the blog back in June, we have slowly but surely either eaten or gotten rid of lots of the foods that were in the cupboards and freezers both at home in Wales and here at the Van.

That we still had some foods remaining after such a long time ... and after so many similar Challenges ... was an indication that we were just not eating some things that we had in store.  It made me think that I really needed to do an assessment of what we do actually eat and therefore what we do actually need to buy on a regular basis.

Which gives me a glimmer of an idea of what could be my next Challenge.  I'll be back again when I've figured it out ... or a bit sooner if you would like to see the current state of the cupboards.

Sue xx

Thursday, 27 June 2019

My Biggest Challenge ...

My biggest Challenge is ... ME.

And so for a while this blog is going to hibernate.  I'm not going to close it down, or say 'no more'.  But it is going to have a little rest while I concentrate on the changes that I am currently documenting over on my other blog.  I feel that they fit in better over there.

Because in so many ways I really am moving slowly and surely over to ...

A Smaller Life.

I am going to do just that  😀

Sue xx

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Ration Challenge - Thank You

I wanted to quickly pop on to share this lovely little film with you.

It's a THANK YOU from Concern Worldwide UK to all of the Ration Challengers and their supporters.


Thank you.

Sue xx  

Monday, 24 June 2019

Ration Challenge - End of Challenge

It's over, my Ration Challenge is done and dusted although there are people all over the country starting late and still doing theirs now.  I think this Challenge and it's way of fundraising goes on until August  ... but for me that's it.


My basket above contains ALL of the food I have left except for a half portion of Dhal that I have just discovered in the fridge.  I'll have that for lunch ... with some rice.  

Nope, the excessive consumption of rice last week has not put me off one bit, I thought it might but I'm fine.

The salt cellar in the top photo started the week full to the top, so it goes to show how salt was very necessary for flavour and cooking.

I ended the week in the caravan park clubhouse playing bingo and drinking soda water with ice and lemon.   It was a good night out although neither of us won anything, and I spent most of the evening thinking about food on Sunday morning 🤣

So ... what were the highlights of the week for me and what went well :

Simple foods.

Menu planned.

Helpful family and friends, no one tried to push foods on me that I couldn't have.

Minimal rubbish - there was nothing to throw away.  The cardboard box, the kidney bean tin and the oil bottle, once it's all used up, will all go into the recycling boxes at home and the little plastic bags and the grey delivery bag are all able to go into the supermarket carrier bag recycling boxes.

No food waste, although to be honest I very rarely have any!

I enjoyed the simple cooking.
Making up to days rice at a time worked well, and gave me the feel of ready meals when I had no energy left to think straight or cook from scratch.  I used up all my ingredients in one go ... for instance when the kidney beans were cooked with a little chopped onion, half were eaten with rice and the other half whizzed into a Kidney Bean Dip for future use.

The Gold Star of the week goes to Dhal. 
Using two thirds of my red lentil ration (including the 120g I was allowed for not having any sardines), my earned spice Cumin and one of my onions to make a large portion of Dhal was a genius idea of mine.  It added a pop of flavour, colour and perhaps most importantly protein to every bowl of rice.

So ... what were the low points :

Lack of choice. 


Rice Brain 
A fog of indecisiveness,  lethargy and complete bleugh that descended on the third day. 

Lack of caffeine 
The hit I got after my Wyevale coffee 'earned'  for getting to over £600 was amazing!

Struggling to blog
Definitely a sIde effect of Rice Brain - see above!

No spontaneity. 
I'm a very spontaneous sort of person, with food, outings and things that I do.  Not being able to grab a coffee whilst out and about, not having the ability to rummage through the cupboards or the fridge for a meal, or have the energy to simply get on with a job was VERY hard.

And finally ... THANK YOU.

Thank you to each and every one of you that contributed to my Ration Challenge sponsorship money:

7 Anonymous donors
a late donation from 
Margaret my hairdresser

I thank you all from the bottom of my heart and hope that I haven't missed any names off the list.  But please know that even if I have ... between us we have managed to raise the magnificent sum of:

£770. 90  


If this was to be used just for buying food rations we have raised enough money to feed FIVE refugees for A WHOLE YEAR.

The Ration Challenge UK total currently stands at £771,965, how absolutely wonderful that we are a part of this magnificent fund raising.  There is nothing else left to say except ... what a brilliant result,  and once again thank you.

Sue xx

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Ration Challenge- Day Seven

Hot water before my Rice and Dhal breakfast ... I don't know why I put a spoon in and stir it but I have found myself doing this all week  😀😃🤣

Lunch was two of my remaining flatbreads with the last of the peanut butter ... it's all 'last ofs' now.  At last the finishing post is in sight.

My tea, eaten late was Rice and Dhal.  Making the dhal was a genius idea, even if I do say so myself. It's added flavour to my rice and made two rice meals a day so much more bearable.

Breakfast this morning, the last of my lentil soup, the last of the flatbreads and the last of the hummus.  Enjoyable and filling ... the last breakfast of the Ration Challenge.

The dogs rather sensibly keeping out of Mum's way 🤣🤣

Sue xx

Friday, 21 June 2019

Ration Challenge - Day Six

Day Six sees me sat here fuzzy headed, eating rice and dhal for breakfast and drinking hot water.  Who knew hot water was nice ... not me for sure!

This basket of food, five ready-made flatbreads ...

... and this shelf of food in the fridge are my supplies for the final two days of the Challenge.  

Although as I took the photos last night there is already missing from my 'storecupboard'  two portions of rice, the one that I'm eating now and one for my tea tonight ... and the green lidded tub of dhal.

Breakfast yesterday was rice and dhal, lunch was a portion of my lentil soup and two flatbreads.

I was so happy with how my flatbreads turned out that straight after lunch I set to making some more.  Using up all of my flour.  It was only when I finished cooking them that I remembered I was going to make some pastry to have a Dhal Pasty ... oh well at least the flatbreads are delicious. 

For a late tea I cooked up my last three falafels.

I had them with two of the smaller flatbreads and most of my hummus.  I was going to eat it all but I was full, yes you read that right ...FULL.  Lots of chickpeas equals lots of protein and it really worked to fill me up.

If you been counting flatbreads, yes you're right there seems to be one unaccounted for!!  As I was bagging them up last night my hand brought one up into my mouth and I ate it ... my brain was barely involved 🤣🤔🙃

I have now done five days of eating rations,  tomorrow will be my last day eating like a Syrian refugee in the refugee camps in Jordan ... a total of seven days.   We've all been doing this to try to bring attention to and raise money to help them, but for refugees it has gone on and it goes on for MUCH much longer.

Thank you to everyone who has sponsored me, including Sheila who sponsored me yesterday.  It means so much that you care as much as I do.  I will be listing all my sponsors on the final day, thank you to you all ❤

My Ration Challenge page.

Sue xx