My reading pile – 7 May 2020

This week’s pile is a random mix of the ongoing, the half completed and the one I put off (because then the series would be over).

One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor – gifted by my mother this is an awesome story of historians and time travel.

Welcome to Night Vale by Joesph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor – I read about half of this when I got it and then put it down for some reason. It’s my favourite podcast in book form. Delightfully strange.

An Everlasting meal by Tamar Adler – I was going great guns on this and then had to take another break. When I read this all I want to do is cook.

Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck – I’m taking my time working through this because each chapter has plenty of interesting points to consider.

Locke and Key: Alpha and Omega by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodríguez – the very last volume. I’ve been saving these so I can savour each page but it’s so easy to get caught up in the storyline!

I’ve also downloaded a few ebooks to read at night if I can’t sleep.

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Playing tennis with the universe

Today it has occurred to me that life is like playing tennis with the universe. I’m terrible at tennis but bear with me.

Some days you feel good. You got enough sleep and ate well. You smash back the balls.

On other days you don’t do so well. And just to make it more interesting your tennis partner turns out to have a sense of humour. Instead of tennis balls, you’re being served fruit, scoops of ice cream and plastic rocks!

Or the game changes completely and it turns out you’re actually playing ping pong.

But remember it’s only a game and another ball will come your way in a minute.

Photo by Jeff Finley on Unsplash

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What we ate last week

Menu planning right now is a balance of making sure the fresh stuff gets eaten at the start of the week but the end of the week isn’t too dull.

I’m making progress. I know that the bread needs to go in the freezer after the first few days. And that bagged spinach needs to be eaten first.

So here’s how food went last week


Lunch – lovely fresh baguettes with the last of the vegan deli slices, pickle and spinach.

Dinner – Leftover pasta bake with breadcrumbs and a good handful of spinach


Lunch – Vegan sausage sandwiches with more spinach

Dinner – black pepper tofu with mushrooms and bok choi. Served with rice.


Lunch – crackers, hummus, salsa, radishes, spinach and apples.

Dinner – Southern style fillets with potatoes and radish leaf pesto


Lunch – Tempeh, kale and tomato salad from Salad Samurai. I had avocado on hand this week which made this even tastier.

Dinner – fried tofu, pasta and salad


Lunch – pizza style salad bowls from Salad Samurai – with a few substitutes and omissions. It still tasted great.

Dinner – Didn’t really happen. Neither of us felt too good so an early night took priority.


Lunch – TVP with onions and mushrooms in homemade sweet and sour sauce. Served with rice.

Loaded potato and leek soup with miso, rhubarb chard and sausage slices – served with bread from the freezer


Lunch – leftover soup and the last of the bread

Dinner – Vegan sausages , potato and swede mash, spring greens and gravy

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Menu plan 25 April – 1 May

Last week’s menu plan didn’t go exactly as I expected. We acquired a bag of rolls and some vegan burgers while on a post run. These made a delicious additions to the menu but threw things out a bit.

And they also meant the bread didn’t get eaten at the start of the week so the end of the week was spend picking bits of mould off. Oops. It’ll be going in the freezer in future in there’s no immediate need to consume it.

Usually I’d pick up bread or rolls as I needed them – or munch the whole loaf in 2 days as ‘snacks’. I love bread so much.

So this week’s menu is a bit vague. To accommodate unexpected burgers. And because I’m still struggling to plan based on a weekly shop. Yellow stickers used to be my inspiration.


Lunch – mini baguettes with spinach, chutney, Tofurky deli slices and vegan cheese plus radishes and sugar snap peas.

Dinner – leftover pasta bake topped with breadcrumbs served with salad, radishes and sugar snap peas.


Lunch – sausage and spinach sandwiches

Dinner – black pepper tofu with mushrooms, Pak Choy and rice


Lunch – crackers, hummus, radishes and sugar snap peas

Dinner – southern fried fillets (new addition to the local Tesco Metro) with some kind of potato and salad.


Lunch – I’ve become a bit obsessed with tempeh, kale and tomato salad and this week I finally have avocado to go in it.

Dinner – seasoned tofu with pasta and radish leaf pesto


Lunch – maybe soup? I’ve been very enthused about leek and potato soup – and there’s all that bread in the freezer

Dinner – TVP and mushrooms in a homemade sweet and sour sauce.


Lunch – more soup?

Dinner – sausage and mash with gravy. Plus greens if there are any left…


Lunch – whatever’s left turned into a salad, soup or if all else fails beans on toast (from the emergency bean stash)

Dinner – swede gnocchi

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Capsule wardrobe equals stress

One of the sure signs that I’m feeling a little bit on the stressed side is what I search for on Google. And top of the lists during difficult times is capsule wardrobes.

Of course, I never follow up on any of the suggestions combinations. The thought of having to take a toon is usually more than my brain can handle. So after making notes on my perfect ratio of tops to bottoms to dresses to jackets I stop. Otherwise I might have to make a choice about whether to donate or sell my my unwanted items.

And I’m certainly not about to spend time buying new things. My year of not buying clothes in 2014/15 went along way towards removing that urge. I have a well stocked wardrobe. The contents make me happy and only a few items (usually gifts) get added each year.

If anyone had asked I’d have guessed that lockdown would have me compiling my idea capsule. But that hasn’t really been the case. I’ve been hanging out in a handful of baggy t-shirts and those trousers that aren’t quite pyjama bottoms. For my weekly vegan bag run there’s a pair of leggings and hoodie which get washed on my return.

Yet today I did feel a tiny urge to wear something else. It wasn’t anything I acted on. But an image of a tube skirt versus a pair of jeans fluttered through my head. But the idea of wearing either, of getting dressed up to go out seems utterly alien.

I wonder how things will when lockdown restrictions are slacked at some point. Will we all be desperate to get dressed properly again? Or will jogging bottoms become the new office wear?

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This week’s reading pile – 20/4/20

So here’s what I actually have on my pile for this week.

I’m trying not to binge my way through the Locke and Key graphic novels. But it’s hard. I want to gorge myself on the pages.

I expect to finish Ancient Rome on 5 Denarii a Day this week. It’s been a really fun and informative read. I was reading it and a load of other books on the subject to prepare for a trip to Rome in May but guess that’s off the table now. Travel in books in safer right now.

I’m reading a section of An Everlasting Meal every day. This is so I can enjoy thinking about what I’ve read. This is so beautifully written.

Dickens is a struggle. I sink into the story for a few pages and then abruptly am hurtled back to reality. Maybe I just need to get into the right mindset.

I started The Power last year and then put it down for some reason. Seems it like a good time to pick it up again.

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Menu plan 18 April 2020

I’ve been doing a menu plan using a Trello board for about 6 months now. I like being able to add ingredients and ideas to one list and then pull them to others.

Usually I’d have about 4-5 days of meals planed. The rest of the week would be made up of leftovers, other food items I bought or eating elsewhere.

Now I run out for food once a week. And we eat pretty much everything I make. So I’ve been trying to plan for 7 days.

It goes against the grain. I can’t shake off the possibility of spotting some amazing looking vegetables on a market stall. Or finding some reduced ingredients that inspire a dish. And right now the only place these are going to happen is in day dreams.

So here’s what I’ve got so far


Lunch – sandwiches with Tofurky deli slices, spinach, pickles and vegan mayo. Maybe a spoonful of Branston Pickle?

Dinner – Nachos cooked in the remoska and layered up with tortilla chips, violife vegan cheese, salsa and the left over rice and beans.


Lunch – Last week I massaged kale for the first time and the result was delicious. So once again we’ll enjoy some variation on the BKT Bowl from Salad Samurai.

Dinner – more Salad Samurai inspiration. I’ll give the Smokehouse Chickpeas and greens salad a go (and clear green remaining spinach before it goes slimy).


Lunch – some variation on minestrone soup with the last of the home made pasta

Dinner – baked potatoes, hummus and any stray salad leaves.


Lunch – leek and potato soup and bread

Dinner – Rice, chickpeas and spring greens with a tahini sauce


Lunch – leftover soup and more bread

Dinner – Millet, broccoli and tofu with a peanut sauce.


Lunch – suspect supplies of fresh foods will be low by this point so lentil soup. If bread is low then I might serve it with flatbreads or gram flour pancakes.

Dinner – Peppers stuffed with leftover rice and chickpeas. More tahini sauce!


Lunch – the remains of the lentil soup plus any other random leftovers

Dinner – pasta bake with swede and a creamy sunflower seed sauce

Let’s see how this plan works out. Will I stick to it? Or just eat all the bread in the first 2 days?

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It’s like being in a sitcom…

Only not quite so funny.

Lockdown in the U.K. reminds me of a period of time at university. It was coming up to my finals. Classes had finished. I’d turned in my dissertation. My whole focus was preparing for final exams. So for a period of weeks I stayed home and studied.

I only left the flat to go to the supermarket and to go to work. And my memories are all of being in the hipster basement flat I shared with my boyfriend.

Just like a sitcom people came to us. Friends dropped by for a cuppa and a chat. Family members phoned to see how were. But just like a sitcom we only saw the inside of the flat, not the outside world.

And now 24 years later I’m getting the same feeling again. Only there’s no final exam deadline . I can’t go and study in the library for a change of scene. Friends don’t drop by. They are also living life on a single set.

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It’s been 14 years

On 12 April 2006 I published my first blog post. It makes me cringe now to read it but it doesn’t really matter. No one else read it. Or they might of but I don’t think Blogger back in those days did much in the way of stats.

Of course, I installed a visitor count widget at a later point and thought it was state of the art. But these were days when blog posts rarely featured photos.

To add a photo you have a number of options.

You could take a photo with a camera that used film. Then develop the film. After that you just had to scan the photo and then get the photo onto the computer you were blogging from.

Or you could use a digital camera and then load the photos to the bit of specialist software that came with the camera.

Or you might take a photo on your phone. But it would be blocky. And you’d then have to plug your phone into a computer with the right software to make use of the photo.

It was way too much hassle for daily posts. So instead posts are text heavy. And I did go through a phase of using different coloured fonts to make my ‘what I wore’ posts a bit more visual.

And isn’t it strange that as blogging became easier I felt less inclined to do it. Maybe because there are so many slick looking blogs. And the blogging world has changed so much. It’s become so professional.

And yet I still return to blogging every so often. There’s more room than on Instagram or Twitter. They aren’t called microblogging for nothing. It’s a space that’s more comfortable than Facebook.

So who knows what I might be saying here in 2034?

Probably not 2006

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Lockdown stroganoff

Stroganoff is a dish I make on a semi regular basis. I make it with mushrooms, frozen peas and chunks of vegan burger. When it come to the sauce it’s either based on cashew nuts or plant milk.

However lockdown has left me with just a handful or 2 of cashew nuts. And the mylk is getting saved for granola.

However bizarrely I do have loads of sunflower seeds and plenty of miso. So I fashioned a sauce from these with plenty of paprika and black pepper plus a random spoonful of hummus that I froze at some point.

And amazingly it turned out ok. The sauce was plenty creamy. It worked well with the other ingredients. I had an excuse to make a batch of fresh pasta to serve with it.

In the strange world of lockdown all seemed ok for a while. Truly comfort food.

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