Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Keeping it real . . .

 I had another negative comment on my Spam post over at the food blog during the night.  One positive one and one negative one.    This one kind of reminded me of my ex boss in that it was cloaked in a smile.  She used to smile while she was slagging you off and knocking you down too.

I too have noticed the increase of product(s) endorsements on your blog. You kindly buffer it with lovely recipes and pictures so thank you for that. However, in a world riddled with ads, I wanted the comfort of a friendly blog with lovely doable recipes which you have long provided. I will accept your invitation to stop reading your blog, with regret.  

And so I thought . . . is my blog riddled with ads???    I went back over these first eighteen days of June and this is what I discovered.  

In eighteen days I have posted thirty five different recipes.  There has been one post which has been a give-away post offering people the opportunity for people to win their own Tefal Opti-grill.  The Tefal people, as you know, sent me a grill to try out and when they asked me if I would post about their give-away, I kindly said that I would.   This is a fabulous grill and I love mine and I thought it would be nice if my readers could have an opportunity to win one.  It's an expensive piece of kit!  Seven of my recipe posts have been product reviews, only three of which did not have a recipe included.  I did not count the Farmer's Choice ones as product reviews.  I am a guest author on their site and I provide them with three recipes a month for people to make, recipes which I think my readers will also enjoy and so I post the photos of the recipes and links so that they can go and get the recipes for themselves.  So, bottom line, out of 35 posts, only three were product reviews only . . .  without recipes, one of which was for a coffee coconut water drinks, which I honestly told people that I had been unable to taste because we don't drink tea or coffee.   The second one was about these delightful little tea wands I had been sent that I thought were fabulous and wanted to share.   The third was for some really delicious juice drinks which I had been sent that I wanted to tell you about.



Truthfully I like to try out new things and I like to share with my readers my findings.   There are a lot of bloggers who take the free stuff and then just post what is written on the box, or on the back of the book, etc.   I actually try everything I am sent and then talk about my experience in using it, and I endeavour to be honest with what I share with my readers.

Most of you will remember when I lost my job four years ago now.  I began my food blog when I was working at the Manor.  I wanted  a place to write about cooking that was completely separate from my every day thoughts.   It was easy to do because I cooked in two locations every day, and both meals were completely different.   Dinner parties gave me the opportunity to share a LOT of new recipes and classy out of the ordinary ones as well.   Then I lost my job, which in retrospect wasn't altogether a really bad thing.  But it did leave me unemployed and with the present economy I have never been able to replace it.

In all truth, without those Farmer's Choice posts I do each month, and the few cook-booklets I manage to sell,  I would not be able to pay off my credit card.  Yes, we were foolishly in debt when I got made redundant.  We live now on my husband's basic state pension.  We had a brand new car, which I had worked really hard for, but which had to go.   We now drive an old banger which we hope and pray will last us until we have our debts paid off and some money in the bank to buy another old banger.   Without the Farmer's Choice posts . . . I would quite honestly have to go bankrupt and I don't want to do that, and so I try to pay off my debt as best as I can and I work hard to do it.

In all truth, those food products which I get sent help us out a lot.   Without them our food storage would end up disappearing at a much faster rate and I wouldn't be able to share the many recipes which I do share.   The cost of groceries has sky rocketed over these past few years and there are some weeks where all we can afford to buy is bread and milk, and maybe eggs.  That's the truth.

Every eight weeks we make the choice to buy food or have the dog groomed.   We have the dog groomed because she has to be groomed, and we make do by eating what we have stored.  Oh sure, the church would help us if we asked.  But we don't ask because it is our own fault we are in debt.  We didn't heed the advice our leaders had been giving us to stay out of debt.  We foolishly thought I would be in work for at least another ten years which would enable us to pay off our debts.  It's not the church's responsibility to help us now.  It's ours and we bear the burden of that on our own shoulders.    

At first we were very optimistic and thought I would get a new job right away, no problem.   I could have gotten a job doing the same thing, but having been burnt I didn't want to risk everything again like that.   My husband is in his mid seventies and I didn't want him to have to go through the lose your job/lose your home scenario again.  At his stage in life that is far too stressful.  But I am 58 years old now and nobody wants a 58 year old cook whose body is riddled with arthritis and whose wrists cannot bear the weight of a large pan full of food, and who can no longer stand for 8 or 9 hours at a time.  In reality there are thousands and thousands of young people pounding the pavements looking for work.  What hope do I have?  Slim to nil.  Reality bites.


And so I do what I can to supplement Todd's pension and that means that sometimes I have to post something that isn't entirely off my own back.   That sometimes I have to write about things that aren't necessarily totally food based, and I am sorry about that, but life is what it is.  I'm dancing as fast as I can.   It makes me really sad when people feel they need to denigrate what I do . . .  when people think they have the right to tell me I shouldn't be doing this or I shouldn't be doing that.   When people overlook all the good things that I do and dwell on one post about Spam, and use that to judge me and then discard me as worthless.  And the truth is . . . I didn't get paid or sent any spam for that post.  I simply did it out of the goodness of my heart because the Spam people had been good to me in the past.

Reality means that, yes . . . we do have to eat spam sometimes and hot-dogs and tinned corned beef.   We eat more pasta than Todd would like to eat.  We don't get to go on days out much these days because of the cost of petrol.  I don't go into town because I don't have a bus pass and I don't have the £2 to take a bus.  I don't have the money to buy more cardboard mailers to mail out my artwork, or to buy more business cards,  or more paints, or to do a lot of things.    But I live in hope.

Know what . . .  sometimes life sucks . . . but most of the time it's really really good.

Life will go on.  Thanks for letting me vent.

Now back to my regular programming.

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Cooking in The English Kitchen today  . . . Cheesy Smoked Sausage and Corn Skillet Supper.   A delicious store-cupboard meal.  Quick and easy.  Simple ingredients, wow flavours.  

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Have a fabulous Saturday!  Stay happy and stay safe!



  1. As an American expat living in Vienna I must tell you that it is a joy to read your blog! I do not mind reviews over certain products--actually I enjoy them as it is the only way that I hear about certain products. Keep on the good work!

  2. Thank you so much for your lovely comment Jeanne! How exciting that you live in Vienna! I am intrigued and would love to know how you came to be there. Todd and I were lucky enough to visit Austria when I was working, several summers ago. It is a stunningly beautiful country that we hope to be able to return to one day!

  3. I thought I might put in my two cents. Blogs are time consuming and they are gifts and people don't have to read if they don't want and you do a beautiful job, but there will always be people who complain. Just ignore them, and go with your own good intentions. Your joy shines through it all. xoxo

  4. Marie please do not be upset. There are many people out there who use blogging for income and they are not always honest about that fact. Do not give the people who wish to be critical hurt you.

    Lots of love always.

  5. Oh I need to edit my comment.

    It should read do not give the people who wish to be critical the power to hurt you.

  6. Susan, it means the world to me that you would take the time out of what I know are very busy days to stop and leave me a comment. Thrilled beyond measure. You are so right. This is a gift from me to my readers. I will continue to do what I do with a song in my heart. Thank you so much!

    Suzan, you are such a dear friend. You are so kind and are an amazing example to me of tolerance and love. The way you have cared for your parents these past years despite all of the problems and angst amazes me. Thank you for your words and your love. xxoo

  7. Imagine what vloggers have to put up with! The smart ones just ignore the criticism. Or they make it look that way, anyway. Carry on!

  8. I love your blogs, Marie - so colourful and informative; I really don't know how you get to cram so many facets into your life.
    Anyone who gives up on you is the loser.

  9. Having worked with the public in the past I know that you cannot possibly make everyone happy. In a way your cooking blog is a mini business for you so I guess you'll have to expect some negative aspects. We all do what we have to do and if we do the best we can with what we have that is all any one could possibly do. Don't let the comments waste any more of your time...Do the best you can and leave it at that. I give you lots of credit for trying to make your life a little better. Hope you have a wonderful Wednesday!

  10. Hang in there Marie - do not let the few bother you. I love your blog and have no problem with what you post. And we love Spam! I loved your poor man's steak.

  11. Well said Marie..
    I can't believe it AGAIN.
    I will continue to say that you deserve everything that is sent your way.
    Geesh,geesh geesh.

  12. PS..I forgot to mention the gardens! How could I..?
    That's how much I am taken aback by the poster:)

  13. I can't stand spam, but that doesn't mean I'm going to get mad at you for posting it! I can't stand cilantro either, but I don't prowl blogs looking for recipes with cilantro to scold those bloggers! My husband LOVES spam. He even has this recipe for "spam sushi" where you wrap spam and cheddar cheese and rice in seaweed paper... so bizarre! :) As for the complainers, don't spend another second worried about them. You have hundreds of faithful followers who understand how hard you work for every post you show us, and will stick with you forever!
    PS- Susan Branch!!! Her comment is like your first comment to me! Our blogging idols!! :)

  14. Well said Marie. Some people don't look past their own wants and comforts to see how life affects others. I'm always in debt! I just start to save something and, as I say, my car hears about it! I live pay to pay, and in spite of the many times I've worked hard to get ahead just to be knocked back a bit, I keep on trying. I buy the 30% off stuff at the supermarket because there's nothing wrong with it; we eat beans and lentils with cheese topping because cheese by itself is an extravagance for us. And I meter out the servings of food so it can go further.

    So you go ahead and do what you have to. I really enjoy your blog as do so many others. Cheers from good ole NS!

  15. Blog reading expands my horizons. I am grateful for all those people like you, Marie, who can compose a sentence and keep my interest, either with wonderful prose, insightful thoughts, striking artwork or stunning photography. It is a gentle way to start my day with new friends. From time to time, I will cull my blog choices when they don't meet my needs any more. Just like you might let an old friendship dangle a bit, I don't feel the need to stomp on the writer. I quietly go away. Too bad everyone doesn't do that.

  16. Hi Marie
    You know I've been reading your blog for years and I really enjoy them. (even if I don't post comments)...I love your outlook on life and I love hearing about what you are up to and what you are making or painting.I think you should just ignore these vindictive people. If they don't like the content of your posts, they are free to stop reading. You shouldn't have to justify yourself like this.
    Chin up
    Sandie X

  17. Oh my . . . I have to say that I am bowled over and in tears over all of your comments. You have each touched my heart in a wonderful way and I am so very grateful to call you my friends. I can really feel your love for me and I hope that you all know it goes both ways. You are right, I should just ignore the haters and keep doing what I like to do. As long as I am doing my best and being honest about what I am doing then that's what counts. If they don't like it, they don't have to read it.

    I have really struggled with adding comment word verification/approval over the years. I have never wanted to do that because I think it just makes it harder for people to comment and personally I am a person who will walk away nine times out of ten than try to use it because nine times out of ten I get it wrong! My brain gets all muddled. I was sorely tempted to add it this week, but I am not going to because I want my page to be reader friendly. Spam friendly too! (As in the meat not as in stupid link droppers! They can stay away!)

    April, I had to laugh at Stephen's Spam Sushi! That is a first for me! Somehow I think it's going to stay very unique! lol

    Laura, Pam, Bunny, Monique, Doris, Sandy, Coleen and Dee, Jeanne, Suzan and Susan . . . you have made me smile. Thanks to everyone for taking the time to put a smile back on my face,and ending my day in a much better way than it began. ☺

  18. Your blog, your choice what goes on it. You never need to apologize or explain yourself. It is _your_ blog. I hate those little things that float every time I move the cursor. Do I hate them enough to tell you to remove them? Am I that entitled a person that I think your blog should reflect _my_ taste instead of yours. I don't think so. I look forward to your new posts every day. Your blog is bright, and funny, and always a good read. What more does it need to be?

  19. Marie, I havn't read what everyone has been commenting but I am pretty sure they are all in a similar vein...defending our dearest Marie...PLEASRE MArie don't let these negative people spoil your day. I know it is hard when you are trying so hard to just be yourself and share your love with us all, but just when a comment looks like that...dont even read it...They are not worth the time of day.. Take care and I am sure soon now your financial situation will get better and your expertise will be recognised..much love flying up North xxxx

  20. Oh, Marie! People can be so cruel. I do hope you will continue to post about whatever makes you happy! Your blog is just lovely! On a side note, as a child, I ate many a can of corned beef and loved it!! My mother mixed potatoes with it and served it over rice. Both filling and tasty! ~ Donna Elizabeth =)

  21. I must tell you Marie that I don't follow many blogs but yours has been a must for many years. Not only are your recipes top notch but you also have a huge heart that is pure in spirit. You are a very caring and giving person that I have always connected with. I'm so sorry that sometimes unkind (most likely unhappy too) people have to unleash their meanness. You do not deserve one bit of that. Please know that you are truly loved and are a great blessing to all of us that read your blogs. Even though it's a lot of work and money to maintain your blog, you diligently keep going at it and bring so much happiness to people and to their family through your recipes. A big thank you for all that you do! Love you lots! xo

  22. Hi Marie
    I read your blogs (English kitchen and this one) everyday and thoroughly enjoy them! I've been a reader now for 3 years...guess I'm a "lurker" though because I rarely comment. Today I just had to comment to tell you to please just ignore the mean spirited folks who get enjoyment out of criticizing others and tearing other people down. They are not worth an ounce of your energy because you have so many others, like myself, who just love following along with your life and hearing your thoughts. I also want to thank you for including "cups, ounces, etc." in your recipes because I live in the US and don't weigh my ingredients like folks in the UK. Having measurements that fit my way of cooking is so helpful.
    On a final note, I'm a "senior" like Todd and I grew up eating SPAM and loved it...still love it. My Mom fixed it all sorts of different ways and it was one of my favorite childhood foods.
    So, dear friend, just keep "doing your thing" as always and ignore those ugly commenters who have nothing positive going on in their lives but seem to feel happiness by being mean to others. They aare not worth even a tiny thought. :)

  23. Dear marie,
    I am joining your supporters...ignore the negative remarks and focus on the positive. You need to take care of your family and this is your blog.
    Thank you for all your recipes.

  24. Sorry about the sparkles excentric, but as you know I am a sparkly kind of gal! Glad you are willing to tolerate them for me and happy for your support! ☺

    Sybil, thanks to you too for your support. We've had each other's backs for a very long time now haven't we. Ever since the AOL journal days. My gosh that seems a lifetime ago now! I love you my dear friend.

    Donna Elizabeth, many thanks to you too for your support! It means the world to me.

    Valerie, I still can't get over the fact that while your son was serving here in Chester on his mission you were reading my blogs and neither of us made the connection! That just shows you how amazing life is! Sometimes we don't even know how amazing! Love you too! And thanks!

    Lynney I started adding the conversions because I realized how difficult it was for people on both sides of the pond to figure out the measurements. Because I have done it both ways, it's just easier for me to add both measurements. I am glad it is appreciated! Thank you too for your support!

    Marlsable, thanks also to you for your love and support. I will try to focus on the positive and let go of the negative.

    A big part of why I can do that is largely due to you my blogging family. Love you all!

  25. I am catching up on all your posts. I love your writing, your photos and the colorful mix. People bore me with their judgements towards others. You write a beautiful blog and if you can make some money on it you should. And blog about Spam, eggs, tuna, and anything you want to. No one eats everything. I need to book mark your blog so I don't miss out on anything.

  26. I am catching up on all your posts. I love your writing, your photos and the colorful mix. People bore me with their judgements towards others. You write a beautiful blog and if you can make some money on it you should. And blog about Spam, eggs, tuna, and anything you want to. No one eats everything. I need to book mark your blog so I don't miss out on anything.

  27. Thank you so much Gayle! You make me smile. Please do bookmark the blog so we can visit more regularly! xxoo


Your comments mean the world to me, and while I may not be able to address each one individually, each one is important to me and each one counts. Thanks so much!