Monthly Archives: November 2011

The Wartime Housewife’s Secret Project Revealed at Last!

Do remember that for the last few months I have been teasing you in a naughty way about having a Secret Project on the go?  Well my darlings, it has come to pass and this is the last post I’m going to write …… on this site!

From Saturday morning ( don’t try to sneak a peek before then) The Wartime Housewife will be a Proper Website at

www.wartimehousewife.com

It will still have all the regular recipes, household hints, advice, stories, culture, reviews, muttering and unreasonable ranting that you’ve come to expect from me, but it will also have lots of new bells and whistles including

THE WARTIME HOUSEWIFE CORNER SHOP

The Corner Shop will be very much open for business from Saturday and will stock lovely, high-quality things for Home and Garden, Gifts for Children, Books, Something for the Chaps, Wartime Housewife branded goods, Seasonal Gifts and items from the Robert Opie Collection.

There is also a section called ‘Limited Editions’ and this will have things that I find – at antique markets, sales, auctions, second-hand bookshops and so forth – that I think will be of interest.  These may change on a weekly or even daily basis, so you’ll have to keep checking, as you just never know what you’ll find!

The items for sale have been carefully chosen to fit in with The Wartime Housewife ethos of buying good quality, well-designed things that will last, that will be treasured and won’t end up in landfill after a couple of months.
I have started with a relatively small collection but this will grow and develop as time goes on.

Anyone who has subscribed will automatically come with us to the new site and there will be an automatic re-direct if you inadvertently tap in the old site or forget to change it in your ‘Favourites’.

One little ‘bug’ that we haven’t fixed yet is that on pages where there are a lot of products, you will see a little italic sentence at the bottom left of the page saying ‘older posts’.  You will need to click on this to see the rest of the stock.  This will be rectified soon but if you could just remember to click this so you don’t miss anything.  This is a brand new site and there could conceivably be the odd glitch, so please bear with me – it will all come right.

I will take this opportunity to thank you all for your interest and support and look forward to hearing from you at the new site.  I also give my heartfelt thanks to Freelance Unbound, without whom absolutely none of this would have been possible.

SEE YOU ON SATURDAY!

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Filed under The Wartime Housewife Blog

Woolton Pie

No, M'Lord, that's where I wash me smalls!

Woolton Pie was created in 1941 at The Savoy Hotel in London and was named after Lord Woolton who was head of The Ministry of Food.

It can be made with just about any vegetables that you have to hand; fresh bought, leftovers, odds and ends, roasted veg, frozen mixed veg. – the decision is yours.  This recipe is about as Wartime Housewife as it gets, using all the elements of  leftovers, using what you have in the fridge or cupboard, and is very, very cheap.

The basic elements are:
Mixed vegetables
A sauce
A topping of pastry, crumble or potatoes – mashed or sliced

WOOLTON PIE

Utensils:
A deep-sided pie dish or casserole

Ingredients:
*   Mixed vegetables cut into similar shapes if possible eg julienne strips or cubes
*   White sauce flavoured with cheese or herbs or both (see HERE for recipe)
*   A quantity of shortcrust pastry OR mashed potato OR sliced potatoes
OR savoury crumble mix (see HERE for crumble recipe)
*   Beaten egg to glaze pastry or grated cheese and butter for the potatoes

Method:
Pre-heat the oven to 375 / 5 / 190
If using fresh vegetables, steam them very lightly until they are just cooked
Put the vegetables into the dish
Pour over the sauce
Top with mash, sliced potatoes, crumble mixture or pastry
Top potatoes with grated cheese or brush the pastry with beaten egg
Bake in the oven until whichever top you’ve used is golden brown

 

8 Comments

Filed under Food, Leftovers, Nutrition & Sensible Eating, Recipes, Storecupboard

Life is too short not to have a Filing System

How can people live without at least one small filing cabinet in their houses?  How do they access the mountains of paperwork which drop through our letterboxes, into children’s bookbags, handed to you on the doorstep by frightening, burly men …. oh sorry, forget that last bit.  But you get my point.

At any given time, I have a pile of papers on my desk that are waiting to be dealt with by return letter, the filling in of forms, the production of other documents, ‘phone calls at the very least and almost always requiring the handing over of shining piles of cash.

The only way of keeping on top of this lot is to have an accurate, well organised filing cabinet which is regularly scanned and weeded for superfluous and out of date papers.  I have a large filing cabinet that has been travelling with me for the last 20 years.

The top drawer is devoted to The Wartime Housewife (and who isn’t?), the second drawer is for major household categories that require money to change hands eg utilities, car, schools, bank, tax etc, important documents such as medical cards, passports, birth certificates, and instruction leaflets with their receipts and guarantees.  The third drawer is predominantly recreational – Scouts, vet, English Heritage and that sort of thing.

When the car needs insurance or an MOT, I go the Car File and take out the envelope marked ‘Car Docs’ which contains MOT, Insurance policy and the log book.  Today the Inland Revenue needed a copy of a document from several years ago and I was able to go straight to my drawer and retrieve it while the chap was on the ‘phone.

The thing about accurate filing is that it saves so much time.  Having systems for dealing with incoming mail and tasks means that you have infinitely more chance of keeping on top of things and significantly less tasks of letting something critical slip through the net.

I have an In-Tray next to my desk where papers go for sorting.  I then have three magazine holders on the other side of my desk marked ‘Things to be Done Imminently’, ‘School & Scouts Letters and Forms’ and ‘Things to be Kept at Hand’.  The things in the first two holders will also appear on my (typed) Things To Do List which is pinned to my noticeboard and, when completed, the documents are either filed or thrown away.

I also have plastic folders for ongoing issues (in the To Be Kept at Hand), such as the car accident I had last year and every time I make contact with the insurers, I add a note to the file with the details so that I have an accurate record of every step.

The other things I do which I find endlessly useful, is I keep a sheet on the computer which has a list of all my regular income and expenditure on a monthly basis and every time something changes, it is updated and a printout stored in the file.   This not only helps me to keep a tight rein on my finances but I am frequently asked for this information and I save so much time by having the data at my fingertips.

My only problem is that I do have a box of filing which came with me from the old house, but it is only small and if something isn’t in the file, it will be in the box.

Without these systems I would probably be in jail.  I have poor short term memory and too many demands and variables in my daily life.  My brain is, by nature, chaotic and I impose these structures in order to function. Before I realised the value of systems, I lived in chaos and was constantly fire-fighting.  Life is just too short.

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Filed under Household Hints, Life in general, Slider

Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child has been running for nineteen years and is an initiative of Samaritan’s Purse, a relief and development organisation operating in Eastern Europe, Africa and Central Asia.

Every year the UK sends over a million Christmas boxes to children from ages 2-14, in seriously disadvantaged circumstances in the most desolate of places where it would be easy for them to think that the world has forgotten them.

Individuals all over the country get a shoe box, cover it in wrapping paper and fill it with small gifts of toys and sweets, educational supplies, wash kits, gloves and hats, little trinkets etc appropriate to the age and gender of your selected category.   They give you a list of the sorts of gifts that are welcome and those that are inappropriate..  A donation of £2.50 to cover the logistical expenses is popped in an envelope and placed in the box (or you can donate online) and the box is then dropped at a collection point near you such as a school, college or shop.  These are then collected and taken to major distribution points and thence to the people in need.

It’s hard to imagine how little some of these children have; many are orphaned, living in terrible poverty or in refugee camps and every day is a struggle, and the boxes full of surprises give them hope and remind them that they have not been forgotten.  I always put a Christmas card in the box addressed to ‘My dear friend’ to let them know that a family in the UK is sending love to them and sharing a bit of our own good fortune.

There is still time to do a box.  This charity operates in the United States and other European countries – it’s not just in the UK.  We get so much pleasure from choosing the things to go in – why don’t you have a go?

If you’re not sure where your local collection point is log onto their website at www.operationchristmaschild.org.uk or telephone them on 0870 011 2002 / 01392 455036 and they will give you all the information you need.

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Filed under Children, Christmas, Slider

Sunday Poem 112

Two Wars – by Edmund Blunden (1896-1974)

Professing loud energy, out of the junction departed
The branch-line engine.  The small train rounded the bend
Watched by us pilgrims of summer, and most by me, –
Who had known this picture since first my travelling started,
And knew it as sadly pleasant, the usual end
Of singing returns to beloved simplicity.

The small train went from view behind the plantation,
Monotonous, – but there’s a grace in  monotony!
I felt its journey, I watched in imagination
Its brown smoke spun with sunshine wandering free
Past the great weir with its round flood-mirror beneath,
And where the magpie rises from orchard shadows,
And among the oasts, and like a rosy wreath
Mimicking children’s flower-play in the meadows.

The thing so easy, so daily, of so small stature
Gave me another picture: of war’s warped face
Where still the sun and the leaf and the lark praised Nature,
But no little engine bustled from place to place;
When summer succeeded summer, yet only ghosts
Or tomorrow’s ghosts could venture hand or foot
In the track between the terrible telegraph-posts, –
the end of all things lying between the hut
Which lurked this side, and the shattered local train
That.
So easy it was; and should that come again -.

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Filed under Poetry, Literature, Music and Art

Rev-ved up on BBC2

Aahhh – the beautiful Tom Hollander.

Last night, the much anticipated second series of ‘Rev’ was shown on BBC2.  Hollander plays a young vicar, Adam Smallbone, who has relocated from a rural parish to Hackney in the East End of London.  Rev. Smallbone is an ordinary person, an ordinary man.  Not a comedy vicar like Dawn French, Ardal O’Hanlon or Derek Nimmo, but a kind and humorous man who is riddled with self doubt, who makes mistakes, and who truly cares about his parishioners and believes he can make a difference, however ill-judged some of his endeavours turn out to be.

I won’t tell you the plot of the first episode because I really, really want you to watch it on iPlayer/Catch Up etc and then continue to watch the rest of the series avidly. I will tell you though, that there is a striking cameo by Ralph Fiennes as the Bishop of London, and Hugh Bonneville appears as a white suited, ambitious and worldy colleague.

His wife Alex (Olivia Colman) has her own career as a solicitor and she really struggles with the 24-hour nature of his vocation.  She loves him so much but desperately wants to spend time with him alone and is keen to start a family but, as she points out to him, ”You don’t shag me enough.”

Some of Smallbone’s finest moments are when he is sitting on the bench outside the church, fag in hand, discussing his problems with the local drunk, who frequently offers a weird kind of sanity.  He is out of his depth, burdened with a shrinking congregation, a crumbling building and a dysfunctional but devoted support team.  And yet, as in all his roles, there is a beauty and stillness to the character which takes your breath away.

I have never seen Hollander in a duff role.  Everything he does has depth and conviction whether he’s George V in ‘The Lost Prince’, the cold and calculating Beckett in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ or the flamboyant Darren in ‘Bedrooms and Hallways’.

And he’s really, really gorgeous. Which is nice.

17 Comments

Filed under Poetry, Literature, Music and Art, Reviews, The Gallery

Ill-mannered letters and other people’s whiplash is grinding me down

Angry Bird - like wot I am

In fact, it’s not just the paperwork, it’s the tone of the paperwork.

Having recently become self employed, there is an astonishing amount of paperwork required of me on an almost continual basis, mostly because there are lots of things that I now have to pay for which I didn’t before.  I am also constantly asked to account for myself to various bodies and, whilst I understand that this needs to be done, I come close to getting upset by the hectoring tones of many of these letters.

One letter, asking me for details of the work I have been doing has the penultimate paragraph in large, bold type, some of which is underlined, threatening that if I don’t provide this information within 15 days the payment in question will stop.  This is the first letter of its kind from them and I would mind less if it hadn’t, in fact, been sent to the wrong address.

I have two other ill-mannered letters this week.  The first one regarding Council Tax which is threatening me with court action if I don’t pay £27 which is 7 days overdue.  They informed me that I was  constantly falling into arrears in this financial year and that it simply would not do.  I only received the letter confirming my Council Tax bill three weeks ago.

The second made me want to spit blood with rage at the hypocrisy of it all.  For the first time in a very long while, I was overdrawn at the bank.  Overdrawn by £8 for a grand total of 4 days.  This meant that a direct debit was not paid and for which I was charged £8.  Fair enough.

What was not fair enough was the letter that I subsequently received from my bank lecturing me on the evils of being in debt, that it was totally unacceptable to overdraw without authority and would I like to see an advisor and go on a debt management course.

Do you know what?  I would like the banks to go on a debt management course.  Added to that, I would like the writers of these letters to think twice before assuming that everyone is a work-shy, backsliding criminal.

I just get angry, but I wonder what an elderly or vulnerable person would feel like if they received letters like these.

And whilst I’m on the subject of getting angry, I would like to share with you my entire morning spent trying to get a quote on my car insurance.  My insurance has gone up by over £250 since last year and that was the cheapest quote I could get.  I was expecting it to go up a little bit because I took someone’s wing mirror off back in July and, apparently foolishly, owned up on the flimsy grounds that it was categorically my fault.

I asked each insurer (I rather quaintly get my quotes from humans on telephones) why premiums had gone up so much.  Each one told me that a large factor was the no win no fee companies urging people to claim for whiplash.  Apparently the new trick is to get your friend to bang into your car from behind, you both claim on your insurance, then get a whopping payout for whiplash – the going rate is currently £2k.

When some stupid tart ran into the side of me a year ago (still not gone to court, incidentally) I was bombarded with calls from claims companies for weeks afterwards asking whether I was getting headaches or back pain. Several of them suggested that I was foolish not to claim as whiplash was virtually impossible to gainsay.  Needless to say, I refused to play the game, again on the frail excuse that I was not actually injured.

Nonetheless, my premiums have gone up by £250.

I am very, very cross.  I probably blame Thatcher.

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Filed under Life in general, Transport