>One project a month – October

>I took another half a day off yesterday to run some errands I know I won’t have time to do in November, but that need doing so I can get stuff done. On Wednesday evening I decided to take stock of what was in my baking cupboard. And what a good job I did. I binned – that’s CHUCKED OUT – 2 whole carrier bags (bio-degradable, of course) filled with out of date ingredients. I was SO annoyed with myself for the waste – waste of food, waste of money, waste of landfill, waste of 2 otherwise perfectly good carrier bag bin liners. And at a time when I’ve been struggling to make ends meet too. Basically, guff had been pushed so far out of sight I’d forgotten I had it.

On Thursday morning, however, I rescued a lot of the dry ingredients from the bin (good job I’d packed it all into carrier bags, eh?) because a friend asked if I could feed any of it to the birds (thank you, Jill). I’ve looked up a few bird food recipes, but basically flour and fat can be mixed with loads of things to provide healthy, nutritious grub for our wild birds – fruit, seed, nuts, pasta, rice. I often spend a fortune (budgeted) on fat cakes and the like so I’m going to try and make some for a change.

The main errand was to get a set of half decent steps for home. Most people that have done work for me, and even friends that have helped me with stuff, know that the step ladders I already have are potentially lethal. They’re the kind that convert 3 different ways and either chop off your fingers as you try to erect them, or they collapse the moment you put your entire weight on the top tread. They’re okay for occasional jobs, like getting up into the loft (and if you know what they’re like), but the reason a lot of my baking goods got pushed out of sight is because I don’t have any steps in the kitchen and can’t always reach to see even when I use a chair. So I bought a set of 5-tread alluminium steps with a proper platform on the top.

I got a bit of bird seed and 4 fat cakes so I at least have trays the right size to make my fat cakes in in future. One bag of seed will be used in my recipes, the other is for ground feeding, soft-bill birds such as blackbirds and thrushes.I also got 3 brass curtain tie-back hooks for when I’m ready to drill some holes into the living room wall, and 2 robe hooks for the back of the spare bedroom door and the bathroom door – 2 future projects.

The other reason I bought the steps was so that I could do October’s project of the month – replace a spotlight bulb in my kitchen. The ceilings are high anyway and the kitchen spots are fixed right to the ceiling so don’t even dangle down, and every time a bulb goes it’s a major operation with the lethal steps to get it changed and often why that job gets left. The spot that’s out is the one that covers the kitchen sink, and when daylight showed that I hadn’t washed a couple of utensils properly I realised something had to be done. So I got the steps and changed the bulb. Whoop-whoop! No pictures, too boring. But another teeny tiny chore that needed doing and that might have carried on needing doing had I not launched my one project a month thing (thank you, Josie).

It’s Friday, and the start of a very, very, very busy weekend. Tonight I’ll do the weekly shopping on my way home again, and will remember to pick up some Tesco Savers bargain dried fruit to add to my bird cake recipes. They’re not getting the good stuff I got for the Christmas and saffron cakes. Then it’s a Benny Hill-esque dash to get ready to go out as it’s the gig buddy’s birthday and we’re off to our local club to see a band and meet up with other mates.

Saturday will be chores, chores, chores and some baking, as I never managed any during the week. I want to make that bean and sweetcorn casserole, a gingered pumpkin pie, some Halloween buns and cookies for Trick or Treat, and maybe the Ipswich lemon pie. I’ll make the pastry and cookie dough tomorrow but make the pie and cut the cookies on Sunday. Saturday afternoon I’m off to Matlock Bath for the last day of the illuminations and fireworks, and to meet up with me ol’ mate Nidge from “home”. We have a lot of catching up to do, apparently.

Sunday morning I’ll finish the cookies and the pie (if I make pastry on Saturday). I’m hoping a night chilling in the fridge will make the cookie dough in particular easier to work with. (Devon – help!) They’re cinnamon cookies – it’d be really great if I could find some Halloween cookie cutters between then and now, otherwise they’ll just be circles and stars. Sunday afternoon is the second of my NaNo kick-off parties, this one in Sheffield. And Sunday night will be Trick or Treat between the television shows.

On Monday … hundreds of thousands of maniacal writers around the globe will sit down and attempt to write a novel in a month. 50,000 words in 30 days, averaging around 1,667 words per day. Yup, on Monday, NaNoWriMo begins … (gulp).

Have a great weekend.