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Friday, 26 September 2014

Seasons of Mist and Mellow Fruitfulness

Hi folks,

"Seasons of mist and mellow fruitfulness.....,"

The heating came on by itself yesterday morning for the second time in a month.  As the thermostat is set to only 12°, the mornings must be getting colder.  I know the evenings certainly are because I'm closing windows earlier now too and it's becoming dark by 7.30pm. I have never minded the slow slide into Autumn with the welcome coolness after a stunningly  warm Summer, the bounty from the gardens, the reds and gold of Autumn leaves.... As a schoolgirl, I always loved the poem Ode to Autumn by John Keats, he summed the feeling up perfectly and reading it never fails to give me a warm glow and a frisson of excitement knowing that Christmas will be coming before the damp and miserable days of the new year.
A lovely neighbour gave me a bag containing these...


They are all home grown and look delicious. Does anyone know if the yellow pepper is Scotch Bonnet?  The grower didn't know but I suspect it might be.  I ate the cherry tomatoes with my lunchtime sandwich but what to use the chillies and pepper for, I ask myself....

I was also given these


The plum loaf was a gift for looking after a neighbour's home whilst they were on holiday and the tin of spam, a gift from Father in Law.  Bleurgh to the spam (hubby likes it on work sarnies) but yum to the loaf!  It's always nice to have free food :-)


Thanks for popping in x











Saturday, 20 September 2014

Charity Shops and Project 333

Hi Folks,

I thought I would just show you what I bought at the charity shop on Thursday...



This lovely hardback book cost me just £1.49 and it's a step closer to learning how to do patchwork. As a bonus there are some cross stitch designs in there too. Now I do know how to do cross stitch although it's been years since I actually did any.  It was a real bargain.  I actually went into the CS to see if I could find any nice bric a brac to sell on eBay so that I can save for a sewing machine but there was hardly anything.  I used to find shelf after shelf of really nice stuff but now each shop seems to have just two shelves with a few plain glasses and some holiday junk.  What has happened?  Perhaps they find clothing more lucrative to sell? There did seem to be an enormous amount in every CS mostly priced at ridiculously high prices too.  There were some quite plain tee shirts priced at £4 and when you think I bought a new one from Sainsbury's for £3.20 when they had a 20% off sale-day recently, I didn't fancy paying their price.

Project 333

I have been reading up on Project 333 with a view to sorting out my wardrobe into a wearable capsule one but I have had a bit of a day of reckoning today.  I am shocked to discover that lots of my clothes have become very tatty without my realising it.  I think the idea of the project is to have 33 decent items per season which all work together.  My TOTAL wardrobe consists of 27 items plus lots of costume jewellery :-/   I have:

Coats:
1 short waterproof
1 fleece duffle
1 black mock suede (for best) but at least 7 years old

Tops:
3 jumpers
3 cardis
1 hoodie
5 tee shirts
1 3/4 sleeve blouse

Trousers:
2 black
2 jeans
1 navy
1 black jeggings

Footwear:
Black flats
Trainers
Grey suede pixie boots
Black low heeled boots
White toe post sandals           TOTAL 27 items

The rest of my stuff is just suitable for gardening, housework and dossing in!  You don't count nightwear, undies or socks and I have discounted my lovely warm but tatty snowclearing coat.  I don't have a dress, skirt or decent blouse to my name, I am ashamed to say. Somehow I don't think I qualify for Project 333 but I realise I do need to save a bit of money for something new for Christmas day, at least.  When did I become so careless about clothes? 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

26p Pizzas and Spend as Little as Possible Day

Hi folks,

As you know, I'm a rubbish cook but I thought I'd just show you my frugal individual pizzas.  I made the bases using a really simple flatbread recipe shared by Wee Lass from Orkney Flowers BlogSpot.  All it takes is 250g of self raising flour, a pinch of salt and 150ml of cold water.  No yeast required ( I can't get on with yeast). Just mix it all together, knead a bit then divide into 4 for pizza bases and cook in a dry frying pan for about 1 minute each side ( sometimes a bit less, so watch it carefully)
I freeze a couple sometimes for quick lunches and just put the topping on fresh.


I spread some tomato puree on it



 
Topped it with some tomato slices and some cheese.  I didn't weigh the cheese but it was about 20g of strong cheese



 Then grilled it until it achieved the colour I like it to be and the tomato had softened

 
I costed it out as follows:
 
Flatbread base (8p for 4) 2p
Puree squidge (a reduced tube which cost me 20p) 1p
Tomato (69p for 6) 11.5p
20g strong cheese (350g for £2) 11.5p
 
TOTAL 26p each
 
They can be eaten cold too so are great for lunchboxes.  Obviously the topping can be changed depending on what you have in the house.  You can 'man up' the meal by adding salad and jacket potatoes,  my DH needs lots of carbs (so he says!)
 
 
Frugal Shopping Day
 
Today I fancied a walk round town. There is still quite a lot of month left so I wanted to see if I could spend only the change in my purse yet still buy a few things I needed as well as have a browse around all the many charity shops in town.  I had an emergency tenner but tucked it away out of temptation.
 
Wow, the market was on! Lots to tempt me but I didn't give in.  I did spot this gi-normous cauli though.  Firm and fresh and British! It cost me £1.20 and I think I'll use it to make cauliflower in cheese sauce a la Frugal Queen within the next couple of days.  
 
 
 
I had to pop into Boots for some shower gel as I have used the very last drop this morning.  Dove was not only half price but I was able to use a 20% off coupon making it £1.03 and loyalty points too!  I'm saving those up towards Christmas gifts....  I picked up a free Boots magazine and look what was in it when I got home....Yes, I am running out of shampoo too.... if anyone wants to pick one up I suggest you check your own Boots asap.

 
I had also got a £2 Debenhams voucher with no minimum spend required and I found a lovely toiletries gift set for £5 so it cost me just £3. It will make a great stocking filler.
 
I'll tell you tomorrow what I bought from the charity shop.  My tenner is intact in my purse, by the way ;-)
 
 
I got home around 1.30pm wondering if DH had a) eaten lunch and b) cleared up afterwards
 
Answers: a) yes, poached eggs on toast and b) you guessed it
 
He Had NOT!
 
He'd gone out chatting....
 

 
Thanks for popping in x







Sunday, 14 September 2014

Saving Electricity, Bacon Butties and Laziness

Hi Folks,

What a lovely mild day we have again today.  Long may it continue then we can all save on the heating bills. I had a bit of a shock yesterday when the electricity bill dropped onto the mat.  Where we live we have a meter but pay our bill bi-annually in March and September to a third party.  I have realised that our annual bill this year is over £560.  As this is just for cooking, the computer and one electric fire in the lounge ( our heating runs on LPG) it seems a bit excessive. I use the microwave a lot rather than the oven, have a battery powered radio, switch off lights and we watch TV for no more than 2 hours in the evening; usually the 9pm dramas and then the news.  So how can I save?  We can't change supplier, we have no control over that and we are charged 11p per unit used, so how?  I think the answer lies in switching things off as soon as possible.  For example, switching the clock off on the microwave, turning off the computer hub, and the printer (often on standby) then see how we go. If I can save just one unit per day that will give us an annual saving of £40.15  I have taken a reading of the meter and will check our usage on a monthly basis.  Any tips please folks?

Bacon butties

When we were on holiday last week DH developed a craving for a bacon buttie.  Well, I refuse to let him cook bacon in the motorhome because a) it smells for days after and b) he makes such a mess and never cleans it up!  His Dad had given us an electric frying pan so we put it outside on the grass then in went the contents of a packet of bacon.  The result was acceptable (more practise required, I think, ;-))



Anyhow, DH then wanted brown sauce on his buttie so tootled off to the campsite shop and came back with this....

 


I carefully peeled off the label to reveal....spot the difference?....


YOU HAVE BEEN DONE MATE!

On laziness

We have a communal car park here with recycling bins for paper, glass, plastic and tins with 2 wheelie bins for anything else.  This morning I found a wheelie bin full to bursting and on top was a plastic bag full of glass bottles, plastic milk cartons and beer cans.  As the recycling bins are in exactly the same location, literally an arms length away, I felt quite cross that someone just couldn't be ar*ed to pop the things through the holes.....ggrrrr...I did it myself in 10 seconds flat and the wheelie bin lid closed easily.  Honestly some people are so lazy and uncaring.  They are probably the ones who will complain when we get rats.

Ok rant over,  thanks for popping in x







Saturday, 13 September 2014

Virol and a Slippery Slope

Hi Folks,

Does anyone remember Virol? You know the stuff...thick, sticky and sweet given to you on a spoon when you were a kid?  I used to love it. Mum gave it to me on a daily basis after I had my tonsils out at the age of 5 and became very thin.  Well I came across this photo on the internet



Photo courtesy of
Market Lavington Museum

Yuk! It has taken me 60 years to realise that it contained bone marrow!  From which animal, I ask you?  It could well have set me off on a lifetime of weight watching.  I don't like eating meat or meat products now, did it set me off down the path to vegetarianism?  I blame the Government of the day for all the hype which convinced my mother to buy it! I feel traumatised......


Dear reader, you do realise that this is tongue in cheek don' t you....:-)

Thanks for popping in x











A WINNER is announced!

The winner drawn out of the hat for the handmade card giveaway is:

 
knittynutter
 
 
Congratulations! Could you please email me your address so that I can post them out to you?



I only had a few people enter the draw and wish I could have sent some to everyone but those are all I have at the moment, so sorry to the lovely people who didn't win this time.


Friday, 12 September 2014

Tredegar and the Absent Keycode

Hi Folks,

Well we had a lovely few days away. We enjoyed it so much that we managed to convince ourselves that we should stay a day longer than intended.  The weather was wall to wall sunshine so who could blame us for making the most of it.  We had packed enough clothes so why not....



When we go away I try to plan ahead and take enough food with us for breakfast each morning plus the means of making a sandwich or something for lunch. The list can be:

Cereal, milk, bread for sandwiches and toast, eggs, a couple of tins of baked beans, salad, fruit and a packet of biscuits. I grated about half a 400g block of cheddar (on offer at £2 for 400g in Morrisons) into an airtight box and it made us sandwiches for one lunch and cheese on toast for another, and there was just enough for a sandwich each on the return journey. We do budget for one meal per day out as a treat though.

Our first stop was a visit to Tredegar House which is a lovely National Trust property in Newport, Gwent.  We parked up at the campsite in the grounds and happily spent the whole afternoon there treating ourselves to a tasty lunchtime bowl of soup in the NT coffee shop.  £3.95 each for piping hot onion and leek soup with crusty roll and butter, too good to resist.  Well, we were on holiday after all....

This is the beautiful Orangery at Tredegar House 



 
It overlooks a beautiful garden in the corner of which we found this artwork. The tulip shape is made entirely out of small seashells set onto a bed of sand which gives the orange colour in contrast to the white of the shells....stunning. All four corners had one of these; two tulip ones and two Prince of Wales Feathers, I think.

 
We really didn't expect to come across a Dalek in the stable block, but there he was!  Apparently, lots of filming takes place at Tredegar including Dr Who!



When we got back to the campsite the wardens had closed the office and we were ready to settle down for the evening with a shower, a meal and some TV.  It was then that we realised there were locks on the doors of the shower blocks/loos and we didn't have the keycode!!! Crumbs!  Luckily, a kind co-camper gave us the code after showing him our barrier key so all was well.  That'll teach us to be too eager to go off somewhere :-/

More of our hols tomorrow if you can bear it...

Thanks for popping in x









Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Impromptu Days and a Reminder

Hi Folks,

As the weather is so lovely, we have decided to have a couple of impromptu days away in our little motorhome. The photo below sums up the feeling: home from home and the sea.




We are staying at a campsite on the Gower peninsula at a very pretty site which has won awards for it's floral displays. How innovative to plant up old wellies and shoes with flowers!  I might even try this at home, less to go in landfill! 




I also just wanted to remind you, dear readers,  that entries for the Giveaway end at midnight on Friday when, fear not, I will be home to draw a winner.  Many thanks to the lovely people who have entered so far. There WILL be a winner!

Thanks for popping in x

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Hi folks,

  I'm sorry things have been a bit quiet for the last couple of days but I have had  sporadic internet access and posting has been impossible.  I haven't forgotten you all, honestly!

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible......

Thanks for popping in x

Saturday, 6 September 2014

On Crafting and September GIVEAWAY!

Hi Folks,

I love cardmaking and papercraft.  I developed an interest after a back injury which kept me virtually housebound for months and have been crafting ever since.  A friend owns a shop and buys cards from me to sell in it now and again but I make so many that, if I'm not careful, I will drown in them!  Lots get sold for charity too.  The cards in the photo are trials, samples and 'use up the oddments' cards and I wondered if anyone reading this would like them? They all have blank inserts for your own message and are packed in cello bags.  If you have a charity stall you can sell them on or would just like to keep them for your own use to save a bit of money, then that's ok too.


If you would like to win them then please:
 
Post a reply including the words YES PLEASE
 
As I am a new blogger I will make the closing date midnight on Friday 12th September in order to give people time to find me and I'll pick a winner out of the hat on Saturday 13th.  I'll announce the winner on here on that Saturday and he/she will need to supply an address for posting to.
 
Unfortunately, due to the high cost of postage the winner will need to be a UK resident. Apologies to any overseas readers.
 
Good luck!

Friday, 5 September 2014

Strawberries and Autumn Resolutions

 
Hi Folks,
 
I had a pleasant surprise today when I had a browse around the garden. Now I do more browsing than gardening really, I am ashamed to say, but I think I mentioned that our strawberries had performed abysmally this year and we had no runners forming from which to propagate new plants.  Well look below! Ta..Daa!  Shortly after tidying up and pulling the old plants into a sunnier spot these runners seemed to appear from nowhere.  They were quickly pinned down and seem to be happily rooting themselves into the little pots.  Perhaps we will have 2 new plants next year after all.
 


Another Small Treasure had shown itself too...the tiny Hederifolium which is a sure sign that it's already September and Autumn is on it's way.



Preparing the Autumn Finances

Autumn brings a reminder to check the finances and ensure that we are on budget before the Winter and associated big spends set in.  You know the sort; heating, warm clothing, fuel for cooking hot meals (salads just don't cut the mustard in cold weather). 
 
We don't have unlimited broadband and we received the message that we were close to our broadband limit for August.  Now we are allowed 10GB per month and are usually well under 7GB of that allowance.  When I checked, however, we had used almost 9GB !  This is unheard of as we rarely watch downloaded films or anything. Then I read an article on Martin Lewis's www.moneysavingexpert.com  about Facebook using Autoplay for videos in the newsfeed.  I am convinced that is the culprit because I have caught these things playing on in the background and wondered what was going on.  I fiddled about within the 'settings' until I found where I could click autoplay to 'off''.  I did it both on the tablet and the PC so I'm hoping that has cured the problem. If you find your smartphone is eating data I suggest you check it out.  Loads of posters on MSE are adept at helping out technophobes like me.  Thank heavens for MSE, or we could have been hit with a bigger bill than expected.
 
De-cluttering

The next thing to concentrate on is de-cluttering.  When we moved here it was from a 3 bedroomed detached house and we got rid of so much stuff to the charity shop it was unbelievable.  Things went into storage and were never really missed so we sold loads of them too and resolved never to hoard again. It's now time to have a sort out.  Excess books to charity, old clothes and magazines to the recycling, that sort of thing.

Project333

I have read about this from other bloggers and the minimalist ethic appeals to me.  I must find out more....Has anyone reading here done it?  How hard is it?

In the next day or two there will be a giveaway.  Do come back to find out what it is ;-)

Thanks for popping in x





Tuesday, 2 September 2014

September Harvest Giant

 
Hi Folks,
 
Do you remember me telling you that I'm a poor gardener but am attempting to grow some veg?  Well, on Sunday I decided to pull some more parsnips for dinner.  I pulled 3 perfectly ordinary ones then struggled with the fourth.  For some reason I wasn't strong enough to pull it out.  I had to resort to a trowel to help me and no wonder, it measured almost 10 inches long with a girth of around 8.5" !  Now DH was pleased with the size but, to me, small is beautiful; tender and sweet.  Yes, it was as tough as old boots when I roasted it with the potatoes.  For heaven's sake why do I listen to a man!
They are supposed to be coreless parsnips but I took out the core anyway and still it was tough.  Any suggestions as to how else I could have cooked it other than simmered in a stew would be much appreciated....
 
 


Whilst tidying the garden I came across this little chap eating his breakfast.  What a shame my photography skills are no better than my gardening ones....



I almost forgot, I found four luscious strawberries too tucked away at the back of the plant.  They were lovely sliced up into the last bit of yogurt for lunch.

Thanks for popping in....