A letter to a much older Becksie

Lately we’ve been thinking a lot about old age.

Lizzie and Becksie visit a lady who has become a very dear friend, and a few things and the impending 2nd anniversary of Becksie’s Nana‘s death have really got us thinking. Today Becksie writes a letter to a future self in the hope that it will help her deal with this most difficult of challenges.

Dear older, hopefully more patient and understanding, Becksie.

old becksie 5As I write this your hair is brown, you have a few wrinkles (but not many). You are just 30 and it feels like being 30 has opened a real realisation to you – that you will age and those around you will too. It’s a sad and scary fact but if your sitting here reading this don’t be bitter if your body or mind don’t work so well, be grateful you have the privilege of old age. Many don’t and would love to be sat where you are right now.

old becksie 8I hope you have lived a very happy, colourful and carefree life. I hope sincerely you heeded your lovely Nana’s words to store up many memories. I’m hoping your discovering her words to be great advice. I’m guessing she was right that as you sit there these memories are what you live to replay and remember.old becksie 7

Don’t make things hard for your child Lizzie and any siblings that by this point she has had for many years. She and her team are doing their very very best.old becksie 3 Just like when they were tiny and needed care you were winging it because it was new to you, they too are winging it now. Did you get it all right? No! Did you pick all the right battles? No! Did you bend the truth to make it easy because you loved them dearly and had their best interests at heart? Yes! Don’t be cross with them or those around them, they are doing the best job they know how to do. Thank them and tell they are doing well, your reassurance will still matter. Remember whatever decisions they make, right or wrong, they are doing it for you because they love you. If you feel angry with them do the loving thing and wait  until they are out of the room before you explode.

old becksie 4

Don’t worry though I am not asking you to lose who you are, that stays right until the very end. old becksie 11That’s inside. Your body can get weak or your mind start to get fuzzy but you remain. Remind people of this. If you are able, challenge people talking as if you were uninvolved in you. If you are unable I trust you instilled this notion into your children enough so that they can challenge it on your behalf.

old becksie 6Remember body functions are normal and not to be ashamed of, you’ve been having them a long time and if anyone rolls their eyes when you make a mess remind them what an expert you are at having these body functions. Apologise if you wish but feel no shame!

scones8Put your feet up – rest them on higher ground. Remember how cross you got with your Nana’s refusal to do so. You wanted her to do it to reduce the swelling and relieve the pain. It’s your turn now!

old Becksie 1Eat and drink what the heck you like. You’ve waited a long time for the day where an entire tray of brownies still warm from the oven is ‘ok’ to eat in one go. See there are perks to old age as well.

old becksie 12Get your hair done at every opportunity, paint your nails or demand (kindly) they be painted for you. Have a wash and get dressed every day that you can – even if it means accepting help. Keeping clean and tidy, facing the day in your best will make this better.

old becksie 13

Talk to young people with kindness and grace. Tell them your advice but in the right fashion and at the right moment. You may be old but you can still have a laugh and its amazing how laughter winds back the years.

old becksie 10Go outside (or ask to be taken outside, waiting patiently until someone has time to take you), breath in the air, hear the birds. Close your eyes and be the younger you – the breeze will still feel the same. Go outside at night and look up, the stars will look the same as they do as I’m writing this. No one can change that. Technology will have changed but those stars will be constant.

Write down your story. People need to know. What you’ve done is incredibly important and someone somewhere will be very interested even if its only your grandchildren.

Feel a sense of pride and self congratulation, you did the best possible job that anyone anywhere could have done. Feel no self doubt, you were the right woman for the job of you.old becksie 14

Be at peace with yourself and the world and when it’s time to go do so with courage and not fear. See it as the next big adventure.

All my love

Becksie (aged 30)


Thursday Night Tea Number 7

Lizzie and Jessica relaxing whilst tea was cooking

Lizzie and Jessica relaxing whilst tea was cooking

Well…… It’s Thursday night and we have a confession despite remembering this morning it was Thursday Night Tea night by tea time we had erm……… forgotten!

Becksie and Lizzie had been on an adventure and so we got home late and popped on a very quick tea. Half way through we realised it was Thursday night tea! Ooops. Becksie then had a chiropractor appointment and so…… here is an excuse for Thursday night tea post.thursday 7 3

No recipe – just a picture of our sausage meatballs in tomato sauce with pasta!

Our apologies for a double rubbish effort.

thursday 7 5This weeks shopping was from Faringdon – a total spend of £27.60 and then Ian got a few bits in Oxford – £8.00 a total spend of £35.60.thursday 7 6

We promise to try harder next Thursday 🙂 

Wardrobe Wars

wardrobe 3Becksie’s wardrobe was looking a little bit depressing! It was full of stuff! It was overwhelming and it was hard to deal with. So finally guided by the principles of our year with less we set to and sorted it out! We also did Ian’s and…… you guessed it Lizzie’s.

A team effort

A team effort

As is very often the case the starting was the hardest part but 5 minutes in Becksie was (sado alert) actually enjoying herself. A huge pile for the charity shop, a pile to ebay, a pile of things to offer to a few specific people and (Jen – chief make do and mender and the reason Becksie is now a regular patcher) a mending / to upcycle pile.

The mending pile!

The mending pile!

The result – a clutter free wardrobe, major mending satisfaction and a sense of freedom from ‘stuff’. Yes my friends we applied ‘no supermarket logic’ to our wardrobes and now feel better about our clothes. Every garment fits, suits and is in a mended state. We even have a list if the bits and pieces that we need to get in order to enhance our wardrobe. Top of Becksie’s list is……… a new dress which she is planning on making all by her self in order to a) have a new dress b) increase her sewing ability c) cross an item off her 30 list and d) in order to feel very proud of herself.

wardrobe 6Whilst clearing out the wardrobe Becksie found three pj tops that she had barely worn. Each of their pj bottom buddies are firm regulars but Becksie gets annoyed with the button up tops and prefers Ian’s t shirts to sleep in (too much info? Maybe!). Anyways these tops were crying out for an upcycle so Becksie made a few pairs of pj bottoms for Lizzie from the sleeves. After doing this she set herself the challenge of also making Lizzie a pj top from a very old (it’s from Tammy Girl Becksie has had it that long) top. So with only a pair of Lizzie’s existing PJ’s, scissors, pins, thread and her sewing machine she set out on an adventure which ended with the PJ top to tiddly toddler’s PJs upcycle! Amazing fun.wardrobe 1

One happy Lizzie, one happy Becksie.

Matchy Smatchy

Matchy Smatchy

PS – out of the PJ top scrap we also made Narna a gift so she too can be in the matchy smatcy club – Narna it’s in the post!

Remember to reduce, reuse, recycle!

PS – If you haven’t already we would be really grateful if you’d fill in our little impact study – you will be entered into our wonderful prize draw………


Thursday Night Tea (a sort of take away) number 6

thursday 6 (7)Well it’s Thursday night once again and that means only one thing…….. it’s time for another Thursday night tea post! Today however we played a little blinder; as Becksie had been on the radio this am in Oxford (starts 8 minutes into the show) it meant that Mammar was with us and needed taking back home so…… we texted Da to say we were coming for dinner, and could he please photograph what he was making for tonight’s blog post. Result free tea. Photo’s taken and a free recipe from Da! In order to not be too mean Da dictated the recipe to us – so we are are nearly ready to present Thursday Night tea (a sort of take away) very shortly.

Before we crack on with the recipe we’d just like to say thank you so much for the overwhelming response so far to our impact study – we are quite frankly amazed. We’d love to continue to build the picture on the impact of our actions and so if you’ve changed your shopping habits in any way as a result of our ramblings please fill in the form below. All entries will be entered into a wonderful exciting (prize to be revealed type) prize draw. Thank you and we hope you will be equally AMAZED when we publish the results.

And now…….. Da (it’s sort of) over to you………

Special Egg Fried Rice:

thursday 6 (9)Cook your rice a few hours before you plan to eat it. A mug full of dry rice for four people is just the ticket. Cook it until just soft then rinse in cold water and leave it in the sieve for about ten minutes so all the water is drained away. Spread it on a plate and store in the fridge for a few hours.

thursday 6 (14)When you are ready to cook your special fried rice you can use whatever bits and pieces you have to hand – this is a great recipe for using leftovers. We had a small amount of left over cooked pork, a few frozen prawns that needed using and from the garden some spring onions, early purple broccoli, chard tops and (not from the garden) a cup full of frozen peas.

thursday 6 (13)Wash and clean the chard and put on to steam. Cut up the pork into thin strips and marinate for about 20 minutes in oyster sauce. thursday 6 (11)Cut the spring onion length ways and soften in a frying pan (we used a little bit of leftover pork fat). thursday 6 (12)Set this to one side. thursday 6 (1)Fry a couple of eggs – as shown in the picture. Set to one side and give the pan a wipe (a flavour keeping=in method).

thursday 6 (2)Heat a teaspoon of oil and fry the broccoli, prawns and peas with a dash of oyster sauce, set to one side. Once again using the same pan fry the marinated pork.thursday 6 (3)

Wash the pan (or….. Use a different one). Heat the pan with a tablespoon of oil in until it is really hot then add the rice, some light soy sauce and the egg and stir fry until an even colour. thursday 6 (4)thursday 6 (5)Put the rice into a large serving dish, quickly give the pork, onions and veggies a quick re-fry, add to rice and mix and ….,.. serve. thursday 6 (6)

Pudding……… by Mammar – a classic yogurt and muesli winning combination! thursday 6 (8)

Impact Scale

impact 5

Just wondering……….

As we’ve said a million times this experiment changed our lives for the better. On us it has had a huge impact in many respects. We also hope that our actions have had an impact on our local economy. Even a few months after the end of our official year it’s so exciting to receive so many emails, tweets and facebook messages from our lovely readers who have decided to go supermarket free (either totally or just a few elements) as a result of being inspired by our journey. It is extremely humbling to hear your stories and experiences and we thought how interesting it would be to put a figure on the wider implications of our very personal journey.

 Obviously this is probably completely flawed but bear with us. We thought if we had a list of people, what they’d done and the amount of money they used to spend in supermarket and for how long they had moved this money elsewhere we could……… do some sums!

This weeks shop

This weeks shop

impact 4

This is for no reason other than interest but we also thought you too might be interested to see the figures as well.

So if in any way our actions have changed your shopping actions please fill in the below form and ……. watch this space.impact 2

One of our lovely followers who has done a bit of the old ‘life without supermarkets’ is the lovely Heather. We were really excited to hear about her experience and we thought you would be too. We haven’t had a guest blog for ages so with a rather excited cheer…….Heather…… It’s over to you.heather

Hi, I’m Heather and I live with my husband Neil and our 2 boys aged 9 and nearly 7. We / I decided to have a month of being Supermarket Free for January 2014. It was very difficult to know in the beginning as to whether this would be a success or not. For me I want to make better ethical choices about shopping, for Neil it’s the cold hard facts of saving money. He was also very anxious about the number of Nectar Points he was going to miss out on (we’re Sainsbury’s shoppers).

To start off with we entered January with a lot of food from the Christmas period so we didn’t have to buy much, which is helpful. Although we’ve historically always spent a lot of money on food, we don’t waste any and will always use up everything we have.

Our first big food shop came and it was tipping it down with rain! To make our lives easier we left the boys with their grandparents for a couple of hours and embarked on the shopping ourselves. We had some interesting experiences, like discovering a gorgeous parmesan cheese in an independent Italian Deli and chatting with market stall holders in Watford Market. Another plus was the whole thing only took 1 hour and 15 minutes even though we’d been to 4 shops and the market. That certainly was surprising! However all in all it was a mission as we had to carry bags of heavy food through the driving rain back to the car.

As January went on I discovered a large ish Asian grocery store in North Watford that I have used for a top up shop most weeks. Their fruit and veg is unbelievably good value and they sell all sorts of interesting Asian foods which we love in our house.  Then every Saturday I have completed the bulk of the food shopping at Watford Market. They have a great Fruit & Veg stall, a butchers, a small deli counter and an “ingredients” stall which sells all kinds of nuts, seeds, oats, spices and so on.

We have a weekly veg box delivered from Abel and Cole www.abelandcole.co.uk and we have daily milk delivered by the milkman, we’ve been doing that for about 9 years or so.

Toiletries, and tinned or dry goods have come from B&M Bargains, Wilkinsons or Superdrug. We had to allow those as there isn’t anywhere else. I have had cleaning products delivered from www.ethicalsuperstore.com and I checked out other online food retailers as well such as Approved Food.

The main points which I’ve had to adapt to is: meal planning and making more from scratch. Now, I’m a meticulous planner with food and I love making things from scratch. However I had to make sure I had a concrete plan as to what we were all going to eat each week and where that was going to come from.  I’ve also created a new routine of cooking up a batch of soup every Sunday to last me the week for lunches. Previously I would go to Waitrose near my work and buy their ready-made chilled soups. I’ve also been home making bread (I was given a bread maker) and pesto sauces for pasta. Again things I’ve made before but only as one offs, not a regular event.

There’s only been a couple of down sides to not shopping in supermarkets. One is that the boys missed a couple of food items that they love but I just couldn’t source from anywhere else. Also the carrying of the food – it’s heavy and occasionally needed multiple trips back to the car when I was shopping alone. One other point is it’s hard to be caught on the hop. If the boys suddenly fancy something for dinner or as a snack it’s not usually available and they have to wait until I go shopping. Also if we have a friend back from school for tea that’s unplanned then it sends me into all sorts of panic!


Neil really wasn’t on board with this process in the beginning but these facts speak for themselves: In January 2012 we spent £592.75 in supermarkets and Abel & Cole. In January 2013 we spent £577.42 in the same supermarkets and Abel & Cole. In January 2014 we spent: £316.63 in no supermarkets and Abel & Cole. WOW!!!

We have now decided that we’ll continue in the same way with shopping. Most of our food is bought at the Market and other independent stores around Watford. However if we really need something that can’t be bought elsewhere then we are allowing a bit of Sainsbury’s shopping. For example this weekend we spent £27 in Watford Market and £8 in Sainsbury’s and I think we can live with that.