Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The End is Nigh and not a moment too soon.

As the end of this year creeps inevitably towards us I am feeling somewhat annoyed.
That is the understatement of the year, in the terminology of our US cousins I am totally pissed.
After the surgery dealing with Peter's death buggered about with the death certificate and delayed it for a week, the Funeral Directors can not give a date as the "Humanitarian" who deals with non religious cremations can not fit us in to her schedule for about 3 days. To rub salt into an inflamed wound this person has announced that she and only she will read the Eulogy. Oh and if anyone would like to visit Peter in the Chapel of Rest it will cost them £80!

All I can say is watch this space, Jeannie is writing a poem and Michael will be reading it out. I will speak in Peter's  memory and I expect others will also. 
 This is becoming almost farcical, in fact it is worthy of  an episode in a soap opera.

I do have one ray of sunshine to share with you. One of the lovely folk who read my scribbling has been entertained enough to leave me a gift at Button Up and Stitch. Who ever you are I thank you deeply, I have not used it yet but be assured that it will be used soon and that I will show and tell here.

I was about to indulge myself with a good moan about how stressful the last 2 weeks have been, how I will be starting next year on a low note.
No, no and thrice no.
My stress and inconvenience is as nothing compared to what Jeannie has and is suffering, her eldest son is on the South coast about to become the father of twins and is in sole charge of a toddler. Her other son lives close but has serious health issues and can not give any support.

When this period is done and dusted I will still have my life intact, Jeannie's will be in tatters.

On a positive note Jools Holland will be working his magic as usual and ushering in the new year. I will have a good Skype chat to my family in Australia and with James, Cerys and the children in Wales and with Fran in London.
I have my friends and neighbours around me and plenty to keep myself busy.

I would like to wish all a very Good New Year.

I just remembered this and had to share it.
 I heard the tail end of a radio program recently and the person being interviewed was talking about the new Pope and the new Archbishop, he asked for there to be more concentration on giving the people what they need, which in his view was love. Hmm a bit Highfalutin for me. I would like to see a deal more action in getting the hungry fed, the homeless into accommodation and the sick treated promptly and with all due care.

This should be a time to take real action to give help where it is needed, I know that we have a moral obligation to provide aid wherever it is needed but for a while I would like to see that aid focused solely on our own population.
I find it hard to swallow our politicians on TV pontificating about how many millions and billions are being used for aid overseas when children go to school hungry, when the elderly have to choose between food and heat and when our nurses are stretched so thin that patients in hospital are left on trolleys for hours and people suffer from malnutrition and dehydration because there is nobody to make sure that they can eat and drink.

Oh Dear I seem to have jumped on my soap box again. I need a walk in the fresh air, hope it doesn't rain hard all morning.

TTFN                                                              Pam

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Looking Back, well a quick glance over my shoulder.

I am not one for worrying about what has passed, it is gone and can not be changed. I do however try to learn from my mistakes.
Over what has been a fairly eventful year I have saved a fair bit of money. I have also indulged my love of fabric, both new and salvaged from clothes, bed linen, charity shops and some wonderful wins and gifts. I value the smallest piece equally as much as the largest.
I have read scores of books, some from the library, some from Up the Amazon, and many that came as gifts.
I have tried buying from AF and found some amazing bargains. Most of my shopping has been done close to home, and I tried Aldi and Lydl for the first time. 
This year I will be concentrating on growing much more of my own food, both for the economic benefits and for the health consideration. Meat consumption will drop and exercise will increase. I would love to keep chickens but feel that there will be many overnight trips to Jeannie,s so that will be on hold for a while.
My recipe collection has been swelled from the blogs that I read, many thanks to Frugal Queen, The Iowa Housewife, MFin3, Shaz and Sharon to name but a few. All of these have contributed to my savings. I was given the Duck Dynasty cook book for Christmas and much as I love Miss Kay's recipes I think that it will be a cold day in hell before Squirrel Brains and Frog Legs are in my kitchen, Sweet Potato Pie however is on the menu for this weekend, along with Willie's Armadillo Eggs.
I joined in the £2014 in 2014 challenge, but as an over achiever set my sights on £1500, thanks to some selling of Christmas sewing and a couple of bespoke quilts I am at £550, so my goal posts will be moving.
I also joined in a fitness and weight loss challenge, I started at 11 stones, the heaviest that I have been for a long time, well I have to tell you all that I am still there. Once the funeral is behind us and my life subsides back to normality that will be my focus.
I have wittered on about my new sofa, it is here and although last years model and colour I love it, my sitting room is 3/4 painted and will be finished this weekend. I am trying to decide on curtains, I bought a great deal of material from Laura Ashley in Kings Lynn when it closed so they will cost nothing but my time. These will be summer weight as mine need replacing, my winter ones are fine.
I have done a rough stock take and I have an embarrassing amount of food tucked away, I will not be shopping for much for the next 2 months. To avoid the temptations of bargain spotting I will be using dried skimmed milk for cooking, I do not take milk in drinks and on my once a week trip to buy it I usually pick up some RTC items. I need to completely empty and defrost my chest freezer this Spring so that must stop.
I will not be making resolutions except for this, I intend to have as much fun as I can on as least money as I can.
The sun is shining and I have washing ready to go out, I will resume my normal blog writing soon until then.

              TTFN                                Pam 

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Just Hanging Out.

Jeannie and Ben having a silly moment together. He is spending  lots of time on her lap.

TTFN                                  Pam

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

A Dog's Work is Never Done

Just look at all this junk that I am tidying up. Do you think my people will be pleased?

I made my list, all my jobs are done. I have ordered a new bone.
Merry Christmas.                  Ben

Monday, 23 December 2013

This Visiting is Very Hard Work

So many laps to sit on, so many hands to pet me, all the residents to meet and greet 3 times a day is lovely but makes one of us a tired little man.



Ben is loving it, he just has to have the odd 40 winks to recharge his batteries, and so do I.

TTFN                                     Pam

Sunday, 22 December 2013

One of us is a little bit too full of Christmas, he was very sleepy after a long walk and Fran took advantage.
We are on countdown, are you?
Nigella,s Gammon in cola today, chicken and chorizo tomorrow and Ifits on Tuesday. I will be making sausage rolls and mincemeat shortbread slice and the chocolate roulade, thank you Mary Berry I have used your recipe for many years, lashings of cream will be swirling round the kitchen for Ganache and just on a spoon to taste. There are 8 retirement flats in this complex and all the residents will be popping in during the day, so I will be in baking heaven.
Toodle pip.

              TTFN                           Pam

Friday, 20 December 2013

A Sad Goodbye, A New Era.

On Tuesday I had a phone call to say that Francesca's grandfather had deteriorated badly overnight and I needed to get to see him ASAP. I rang Fran at work and she got underway as quickly as she could, I threw some things into a bag and set off myself. My journey was easy and quite fast, I arrived and had a couple of hours before he slipped away. Fran was caught up in London traffic and arrived about 3 hours later.
I left my laptop at home and forgot my phone charger so I have been completely unable to access the internet. I am home overnight and will be returning in the morning. My lovely neighbours are keeping an eye on my home, watering the plants and so on.
I will be staying "up North" over Christmas and until after the funeral, Jeannie has become a very close friend over the last few years and I will be there for her as long as she wants.
This is the beginning of a new way of life for her, She and Peter were together for over 30 years, it may have been second time round for them both but it was never second best. They were sweethearts to the end. I have lost a dear friend and Fran has lost her beloved Granddad.

It would have been my son's birthday on Wednesday and for the first time it went by without it registering until I went to bed. We have and will be really busy so communications will be as and when.

Have a very good Christmas, get plenty of rest and remember She who cook's NEVER washes up!

                                      TTFN                              Pam

Saturday, 14 December 2013

How Bluddy Much?

A warm welcome to Hannah Collier who has joined this Motley Crew, it is good to have you with us.

I have really pushed the boat out today. For months I have been debating as to when to replace my sofa, not whether definitely when. Well today was the day, several months ago I found a sofa that I really liked, solid looking but yielding enough to be comfortable without the feeling of sinking into a big marshmallow. It was perfect except that it was black and £gulp, today while idling some time away with a cup of tea I had a little look online and WOO  there was my sofa BUT it was a Deep Chestnut Brown and even better it had been reduced by 50%. I smelled a rat and looked elsewhere, in Black it is still £gulp and the brown is last years colour! Do I care? ooh no. I made a phone call and asked about a matching footstool, the very nice man told me that it was an end of line clearance as that colour would not be repeated, so no footstool. I hummed and haahed and he offered 10% off plus free delivery I pounced. I do not want it until after Christmas, there will be a procession of peeps, children and assorted dogs through here and my new sofa is not going to get that in its first few days. 
Happy happy and as the painting is well underway I am off tomorrow to look at rugs. It's good to save and it's magic to be able to score a bargain because you have saved.

I had an incident yesterday that drove me to get rid of a heap of "stuff", it involved an over full cupboard and bare toes, lots of hopping and a few choice words and 2 ice packs. The stuff has gone most of it had not seen the light of day for over a year.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. The light at the end of the decorating tunnel, first stage is in sight.

2. Ben has had 2 good runs with Greg today and is snoring gently on my feet.

3. We have had sunshine all day.

4. I am being chauffeured out tomorrow, rug shopping.

5. A big pot of Chili is scenting the kitchen.

To celebrate my buy I have been playing in the kitchen, sausage rolls, apple pie and crumble and a tray of Brownies ,oops, 1 for me and the rest for next door.

I am going to clear the decks and settle down with some hand sewing.

                          TTFN                                 Pam

Friday, 13 December 2013

I Found Nirvana, 15 Minutes Away

Welcome to Sue from East Yorkshire and Julie, lovely to have you with us.

Well I am full of that Friday Feeling, and not a chocolate bar in sight. Today is Fridge Bottom Dinner day, I empty the fridge, clean and replace all the bottles and jars, then dinner is made out of all the fresh veg and any leftovers found lurking within.
Tonight it will be a veritable feast.

All these will be chopped up, the swede, parsnips and carrots will be 1" dice, the rest about half as big again, I am not going to measure them, just trust my "eye"

I will put a glug of oil into a bowl, into that will go a double or treble glug of Balsamic Vinegar, this one is flavoured with Maple Syrup (it is the real deal from Canada), a good pinch of coarse sea salt and a doubley good grind of black pepper, also coarse. 3 cloves of galic creamed into the brew and then all the veg tossed in the mix. This will need around 35 minutes in a fairly hot oven and 5 minutes before it is ready I will stir the chestnuts in. These were a lucky find last year at a very good price and are still in date by 4 months, sad to say this is the last box, boo hoo. There will be far too much for 1 meal so some will feature stirred through some couscous  and topped with a minty dressing and maybe there will be enough to blitz into a sauce for some pasta.

Thanks to MFin3 I am the proud owner of a shiny new pressure cooker ( I used the link on her blog ) half price from up the Swanee oops wrong river, he he. I amend that to say it will be shiny when I have washed it, it was due today but a tasty man from Frank Ifield brought it late last night, at least I think he came from Frank he had Yodel written all over him.

And now to the post title.
My Indian Princess, still nameless. has gone to be tuned up. The lovely peeps at Button Up & stitch gave me a contact in Terrington St. Clements. I gave him a call yesterday and he uttered those magic words "Pam D. Come On Down" well almost, what he said was if you leave now I will still be here to see it. So off I went, Heaven is a workroom full of sewing machines in various states of repair and a garage full of even more waiting for the treatment. We talked for an hour and I saw lots of treasures, I may even be acquiring one in January, it will be a part exchange. He was quite excited to see the Indian girl, the first genuine Indian built Singer that he has come across. In the end I had to leave, he was due to go out and I had things to do, rest assured I will be going back. I would happily spend a day just looking at all the treasures, much better than pushing and shoving my way round a shopping mall.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. A new found friend, at last someone to talk sewing machines with.

2. A no spend week in front, I have enough veg in the freezer for the week and I have milk tucked away in there also.

3. My wall will be finished today, woo hoo

4. My friend George, 87, had a cataract removed early last week and has had the thumbs up from the Doctors.

5. A really special meal tonight at a bargain price.

I have been watching The sublime Nigel on the TV on and off for a week and will be trying one of his dishes tonight with my roast balsamic veg.  Crackling Pork Belly, the little joint is sitting in the fridge in its spice rub soaking up all the delicious flavours. It is no where near as big a joint as he cooked but I have used the same amount of spice mix and will be adding the potatoes to this for the last 40 minutes or so. With the roast veg it will be a feast.

I am going to make a batch of his Ginger Chocolate Oat Bar as well, I want to try this out as a possible addition to my Hampers. While I am at it I may make his Black Banana Cake, I use dark chili chocolate for an extra kick, it will be sliced, wrapped and frozen as soon as it is cold. The last time I made it a 2lb loaf cake evaporated in 2 days, warm with cream ooooooooh.
PING so that's where that extra weight came from. Oops

I was going to take a leaf out of Frugal in Bucks book and try running this morning. Fortunately Unfortunately I missed my footing coming down the stairs first thing and bounced down the last 4 on my Butt, which is far too tender to consider running a bath never mind running the pavements.

Enough of the chitter chatter I have veg to chop and Tea to make and drink.

                         TTFN                                         Pam

PS if anyone has an issue with the content or language that I have used then I suggest that you need to get a life and leave me to lead mine as I see fit. Of course you could leave me a comment with some constructive ideas, I like those.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

"I Don't Bloody Believe It"

Well today was a rinse and repeat as far as the weather went, foggy, cold and windy. Not so much as a single glimpse of the sun, you know, that round yellow thing in the sky that comes to the UK for a fleeting visit every now and then.

Ben and Greg were walked, three times so far. Greg is fine he is tall enough to avoid the wet grass, Ben has had 3 different coats on today, they help to stop him looking like a wet rug. They are all draped around drying off, dare I say it, ready for tomorrow.

I tootled off to see the Occ Health Nurse, now she has been with us for more than 5 years. I realised today that what she knows about the day to day work in the factory could be written on a pin, the pointy end!

She is of the opinion that there is a job that only involves paperwork and a "bit of filing" and that I should be able to sit, stand or wander around as the need arises. She can not imagine why there isn't a hulk of a man to do all the heavy lifting and moving. She finds it incredible that I have to swing 300Kg through the air on a hoist. 

The mind boggles, well it would if it wasn't in a state of shock. She says that a job to her specification will be offered to me by Friday, I will not hold my breath.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. 2 quilt blocks, 12 1/2" unfinished done and ready to go off to the US.

2. My savings challenge account is opened with a £50 deposit.

3. Ben is snuggled up beside me snoring gently.

4. A long chatty phone call from Francesca this lunch time.

5. A tutorial on different ideas for sashing quilt blocks from The Missouri Quilt Co has inspired me.

It is the little things that make my day, someone holding the door open. A cheery "good morning" from a stranger. A shop assistant who knows her stock, and is not afraid to say "I am so sorry but we do not have that today" rather than waste 20 minutes looking in vain. That is how long 3 of us stood in a shop while the assistant searched for an item, only to be told that the item was listed next to the Till as out of stock.

Courtesy, kindness and politeness cost nothing and brighten up the day. I read a blog post recently, one that I usually enjoy. Most of the post was spent putting people down because of what they did to improve their lot. It was a bit of a back stabber.
 I picked up on several of the bloggers referred to and it made me uncomfortable.
I am sure that I was in there, fine, I do not preach that my way is THE way. I read a mixture of blog types and don't have to agree with everything that I read. BUT it is not my place to agree or otherwise. I write my blog my way and those who don't like it can do the other. And I mean that most sincerely folks. Sometimes I feel that I am being encouraged to behave in a particular way whether I need to or not.

I do not need to live on £2 a day, I do mostly. I do not have debt to pay off, I never got into debt. My Grannies mantra was " Never a lender or a borrower be" I have seen her make up a food parcel for someone who asked to borrow money, and it was always a gift. I remember my uncle asking to borrow a fiver. Her response was to give him the money and she told him not to give it back but to keep it safe till he needed to "borrow it next time"

I don't have to buy RTC food, I do as I find it hard to miss a bargain. But I will happily cook 20p a Kilo parsnips and serve alongside a Ribeye Beef Roast.

Live and let live, If you can not find something pleasant to say then keep it buttoned and go and have a cold shower. I left a snippy comment but it wasn't published, hmmm am I surprised, is the Pope Catholic, Does the Bear ..... go in the woods? I have never managed to fathom out what pleasure can be got from setting out to hurt deliberately.

enough already, soap box put away.

              TTFN                                       Pam

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

A Misty Mellow Day.

Welcome aboard Sandra Sews, I hope you enjoy the chatter.
The day dawned, well nearly, it may have been dawn but it was so foggy that it may as well have been midnight. 
Ben wanted a long walk, I wanted a long scarf. 
Ben thought it was wonderful to dilly,dally and dawdle along just smelling the smells and scent marking every 3 steps, I thought longingly of the sofa and hot strong tea.
Ben won hands down. 
We had a little breakfast, when I say we I mean Ben, I settled for tea. A little light housework and a little food prep for later then we went out. Their is a farm shop/ garden center/restaurant/gift shop/foodie hall just through Wisbech and I have been thinking of paying a visit for a while. A neighbour was going so I hitched a lift, first impression, was Ooh this will be costly and I wasn't wrong. Having said that I picked up some cinnamon sticks at a very good price and a bottle of Maple Balsamic Vinegar at a giveaway price. Total spend £4.97 happy happy.

I came back in time for a quick cuppa before taking Ben out with Greg. Once home it was action stations, 2 spiced apple cakes into the oven and a batch of Lentil soup on the go. I had every intention of following MFin3's recipe but lurking in the fridge was a bit of squash, 1/2 red onion, a few sticks of celery and a big slice of red pepper. i took 1 stick of celery along with the rest and chopped them up quite fine and sweated in a tsp olive oil with 2 tsp ground cumin, while that happened I took half of 2 different dried peppers Chipotle and Poblano (bought in a Deli in Tenby) chopped them up popped in a bowl and poured on a splash of boiling water to rehydrate. Once the veg were soft I tipped in 1/2 cup of red lentils and around 1litre of veg stock drained the peppers and added them. I brought this up to simmer plopped the lid on and left it while i washed up and tidied round. By that time the lentils and veg were cooked so I seasoned and added a little finely grated lemon zest. it was very tasty and for pennies made 3 good servings. I had 1 for lunch with a slice of granary bread.

The cakes turned out well and I used the residual heat to dry out some bread for crumbs.

These will go into tins and will be gifted to my neighbours tomorrow, they are quite moist and will keep in the fridge for up to 10 days, I should say that they could keep 10 days, they may last 4, if they are lucky.
Cooking and lunch done I got the ironing out of the way before Ben and Greg went out for their second and final play for the day. Since we have been doing this Ben seems much happier and Greg is losing his um fat.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. Bargains for the pantry.

2. Lovely smells wafting around.

3. A happy pair of dogs, all wagging tails and bouncing around.

4. A successful repair to my wall.

5. Playing some of the CD's that I "found" again in my decluttering. 

Tomorrow I am off to work to see the Occupational Health Nurse. It will be interesting to hear what she has to say. I still have to take all my discarded stuff to the charity shop, I ran out of time today because I went gallivanting this morning.

I will be glad when the cottage is straight again, I can see the space that I have gained but can't enjoy it.

                               TTFN                                     Pam

Monday, 9 December 2013

There I was, watchin' this hole, hole in the wall, wide and sorta tall.

My apologies  to Mr Cribbins, But just have a gander at this.

It has now been plastered and when dry will be skimmed, but   I don't care!  I'm walking on sunshine and I'm doing a happy dance.

I took Ben out this afternoon and on the way back I stopped to talk to a couple who are emptying their garage so they can get the car in. They moved in just over 2 years ago, filled the garage, shut the doors and forgot about it all. He had just come out of the forces and was adjusting to life as a civi and she was polishing up her nursing with a refresher course (for want of a better name). Now they decided with a weeks holiday and family coming for Christmas that having a usable garage might be handy. I laughingly said, If you've got a vintage Singer in there I'll buy it.

He said " as a matter of fact we have a BRAND NEW TREADLE machine that we bought in India, the machine is a Singer and is still in the box, The frame and table were made locally so do not have the Singer badge. Would you like them" I nearly fell over, took a few deep breathes and managed to squeak, "can I have a look?"

Here she is, still dusty but connected up and running. I did not work her, she needs a good oiling and I will take her to the Singer shop for a once over. As you can see the table is a fairly disgusting orangey thing, if I can not find one on the internet I will sand it down and stain it a better colour.

I was only congratulating a fellow blogger on her treadle find a couple of days ago.  Now I have one, I have been searching for one for ages, all I found were either in need of a boatload of money spent on them or as dear as fire is hot.

I will be on the phone tomorrow to book her in and hopefully it can be done before Christmas.

I have some new followers to welcome, Kankerdoodle and Melanie.
Melanie blogs at The Patchwork Robin and I am green with envy at her beautiful makes.

Reasons to be grateful

1. My new machine, power cuts hold no fears for me now.

2. Lovely people and their generosity.

3. The good neighbour who collected and delivered it for me.

4. All the bloggers who are holding a giveaway day on their blogs today.

5. My car boot full of things for the charity shop and the wonderful space they have left me.

I had to struggle to get past number 1, such a small thing as which way I took Ben and what time I went influenced this. Had I turned left out of the door or gone sooner or later I would never had known. Chance or luck, call it what you will, it was there for me today. No I have not rushed out to buy a lottery ticket but the Dogs Trust will get an extra donation from me this Christmas.

I have to get my self into the kitchen, dinner time approaches and excitement has not diminished my appetite. I am making khichri from MFin3, Elaine posts some great recipes and this is the latest in a long line that I have made. It may be a breakfast dish but I am looking forward to my dinner. Oh and while I was nosing round the site I used her link to buy a pressure cooker, I had one years ago and I am not sure what happened to it. Mine should arrive this week.

                          TTFN                                           Pam

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Two Step Forewards, One Step Back!

Oh my  we have been busy, after the skirting board discovery, much scratching of heads and ifs and ands talking a decision was made to crack on with the decorating.
The coving could be done, the cupboard doors, the 2 doors out of the room and most of the skirting could all be glossed, leaving a stand alone wall that joins the rotten bit to be done once replacement has happened.
So a start was made, Saturday all went well, I even gave the windows a thorough clean inside and out, nets down and washed,shiny shiny.
Today all started well, then it went belly up, while scraping down some loose paint on 1 wall a little plaster fell away. On investigating a bit more fell and then some more. I now have a semi circular cavity right down to the brickwork 2' long by 18" wide where, I think, the plaster was too dry. It is all in hand and should be made good next week. The joys of living in such an old house.

On the other hand I have sorted through the CD,s and the DVD,s and have a large bag of each to dispose of. I haven't summoned up the will to go through my cookbooks, it will be painful.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. 2 jobs knocked off my list.

2. Sparkling windows, inside and out.

3. Two sunny days side by side to walk Ben.

4. An offer of some well berried Holly for my mantelpiece.

5. A long chat on the phone with Fran later.

I changed my bed and vacuumed as usual and I am amazed that Ben has any hair left, that was all that was picked up. 
I have linen on the bed that has been buried at the back of the cupboard for months if not years.
I have a delicious dinner cooking and the smell is driving me mad, add to that the fact that I spent an hour watching the sublime Nigel cooking yet more Festive food, and it is no wonder that I have "the Rumblies in The Tumblies" and quite a bit of mouth watering going on.

               TTFN                            Pam

Friday, 6 December 2013

The Race is ON.

I have decided to jump the gun on my £1500 in 2014 challenge and start today. My Co op Divi has been added to my balance, although it is less than last year, my total stands at £46.74. That sum will be rounded up to £50 and used as the first deposit into the challenge account. I am no financial wizard so I will be trawling around to find the best place to open this. All suggestions gratefully received.
 On the topic of receiving, the mince pies met with a very warm welcome, as did the sausage rolls.

My spend today was £2.35 on the greengrocer market stall, I will buy milk during the week which will take my purchases up to £3.35 for the week. Do a little happy dance....... 

If I could I would add one of those slidey things to the side to show my savings, instead I will just put it in the post every time I make a deposit.
 This is a short post as when I had the room cleared ready to go I  discovered a patch of skirting board with about as much substance as a warm marshmallow. 
At the beginning of last winter the down pipe came away from the wall, there was some water ingress but the pipe was put back and plaster dried out and was painted. I now realise that the Bodger/Idle Bugger who did the work skimped on it. The skirting has been slowly rotting away and needs to be replaced, I know a man who can BUT not till after The New Year. My paint and brushes have been returned to the Glory Hole cupboard under the stairs for a month or so. RATS RATS and RATS again.
And there's more.
I have intended all along to start in Fran's room but there is too much of her stuff in there so I started in the lounge.  I wanted to move the furniture around, to make more use of the natural light, and the sofa is too big for where I want it, more rats. However it is there where I want it and it is staying put until I source a replacement on Lobay or somewhere similar. I will not be rushing off to "Pile it High sell it NOW" furniture shop to get a new sofa for Christmas in the permanent sale. My room is nearly in order, my recently emptied built in cupboards have been stocked with all the sewing clutter essentials and I have my machine table set up under the window, lots of natural light. My cutting table, drop leaf, is on the opposite wall and there is room for my ironing board as well.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. The Challenge is on with a good start.

2. I found so many "lost" things as I cleared the room to decorate.

3. I found my thimble, it was my Grannies so I am VERY grateful.

4. My house suddenly appears bigger.

5. I now have a few weeks to play with my sewing.

In a way this has been a blessing, there are several sewing finishes that can happen next week, they were going to be put on hold till January, my 3 quilts can be basted and quilted and my aprons can be cut and made. I also would like to make some more cushion covers. I am gonna be busy busy busy, while my hands are guiding fabric through Little Gem they can not be guiding chocolate into my mouth so it is win win.

Tea then walking Ben with Greg, his new BFF, Greg is a black and white Border Collie and Ben runs like a steam train to keep up with him, good for both of them.

                          TTFN                                    Pam

Thursday, 5 December 2013

It's beginning to smell like Christmas round here.

The first mince pies with this years mincemeat have come out of the oven.

These are destined for the CS tomorrow morning, it is market day and they won't have time to pop out to the bakery , while I was rolling pastry I made a few sausage rolls as well, the pastry ran out before the sausage meat so I wound a cut of strip around the last one. I don't like to re roll shortcrust pastry, it makes it a little tough. I don't waste any, I cook the off cuts and just pop them on some cooked fruit for instant pie, it,s a cheat but that's what you get in many a restaurant. 

I caught the lovely Nigel cooking Christmas leftovers on TV last night and tonight I copied one of his dishes.

Bubble and Squeak cakes, Nigel made his with roast parsnips and sprouts and put a little bit of cheese in the middle. Fine, I had parsnips but no sprouts. What I did have was cabbage, broccoli and some carrot and swede mash so that's what I used, I also had a piece of RTC Cambozola and used that, a dusting of flour and a rest in the fridge to firm up.

I browned them in a dab of butter and a slug of oil and popped them in the oven with the baking for 15 minutes, too good, much too good.

Another batch of Delia's mincemeat, I wasn't drunk just suffering from a slight list to starboard. These are all for gifting.

Apart from that I have been clearing my dresser and I have a box of stuff for the CS, I am also emptying my bookcase. I now have enough space in one of the built in cupboards to hold everything so the bookcase is going.

I have a big mirror hanging over the fireplace, I want to move it opposite the window to help the low light levels. I am thinking of making a wall hanging to replace it.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. The sweet smell of mince pies drifting round the cottage.

2. 5 jars of lusciousness sitting in the kitchen.

3. More floor space coming my way soon, very soon.

4. Ben running around with Greg, the dog next door, ears flapping, tail going round in circles.

5. A meeting with an old friend this morning, a gossip and a good catch up.

All in all it has been a good day, it has been cold and windy, there was a flurry of rain but the wind was so strong it blew the clouds away.

Tomorrow I will finish clearing the bookcase and claim that floor space. No sewing for me before Monday, it will be brush and gloss or emulsion, lovely, pray for a dry day the windows will be open.

                   TTFN                               Pam

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Four Down, One to Go.

Firstly a big welcome to a new follower, Hazel, I hope you enjoy your visits.
Secondly I have made a start on my challenge, a pattern has been drawn up this morning for aprons, this is for someone I know who is not very tall but quite round, she describes herself as a Little Norfolk Dumpling. She is not hugely fat but when you are only 5ft any size bigger than Posh Spice looks big. most aprons are too long for her so she folds them at the waist which means she loses the pocket and the top flops around. She wants 5 in the new year, not before as she doesn't plan on washing up over Christmas, clever girl.

I found a new blog to read from a comment on yesterdays post and will be going back later armed with a mug of coffee and maybe something " naughty but nice". I will set my timer so I don't outstay my welcome.

I took photos of my CS buys but the colour is not too good, it has been a grey day.

The colours are too dark, the background is much lighter, if it is brighter tomorrow I will try again.

This is better, I see lots of use in this double duvet cover, it is poly cotton but will back some of my vintage fabrics.

I have had my 4th visit to Miss Whiplash, 1 left to do in 2 weeks time, she is very good and is working out a muscle strengthening exercise routine for me. My movement range is much improved although I still have stiffness and the aches and pins that go with it.

Tomorrow I will be washing paintwork down ready for painting Friday. I have emptied my linen cupboard, now I just need to weed all the unwanted things out. How did I end up with so much, I'll tell you how. I have a friend who changes her colour scheme when the wind changes and passes her cast offs to me. She buys towel sets and only uses half of them, I get the rest. I have told her that she has more money than sense, her reply is that she can afford it and is keeping people in employment.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. A good friend with a generous streak.

2. A warm glow from my new stretching routine.

3. Ben is still clean and sweet smelling.

4. A pattern won on a giveaway I had forgotten about.

5. A surprise phone call from an old work mate.

I have a simple dinner planned, jacket potato, and salad, I will put a little blue brie in the potato, I got some less than half price Cambozola and it is portioned up and in the freezer. Sometime in the next few days my Co op dividend will be added, I will have no problem spending it and the money equivalent will go to my challenge.

I feel the need for tea so it is                       TTFN            Pam                    

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

2014 A Challenge To Myself.

I follow Sara @ A Frugal Wife, she has set herself a challenge to earn/save the sum of £2014 in 2014. I think that is a good idea and am going to be a copy cat. BUT as I am a bit of a control freak crossed with an overachiever I am setting my target at £1500 and we will see what happens. I will open another savings account and report my savings as and when they happen, this will be my Sealed Pot aim for the year I am not sure have no idea what I will use it for, perhaps inspiration will strike me.ed

I read a wide variety of blogs, some I follow some I keep bookmarked to find them fast. I like to read about what people do all over the world, I sometimes shake my head in disbelief but hey ho, if we were all the same it would be Boring. 

I started this blog as a record of what I do to save money, time and how I fill that time, usually sewing or cooking. I am not houseproud bit I can not stand clutter so I blitz through regularly, I take the opportunity to dispose of anything that I have not used or worn for at least a year. 
I try to keep my books under control, my cook books are the worst offenders, I have 6 out at a time and when I have made 4 dishes from one I change it for another. If one stays unused on my shelf for 3 months and is not used then it is out.
I have a large collection of music and DVD's, they are next on my "hit list" I intend to be ruthless, if I don't see myself playing or watching again then out it goes.
Over the next few months, I know it will be months as I can not remember what is in the loft, ( Bad me.) I will go through every cupboard, glory hole, storage box and the loft. I will do a car boot with what I discard and what doesn't sell will be donated. 
I have clothes that although I love them, I know that I will not wear them again. My linen cupboard needs an instant diet, I am sure the door is bulging. The only areas that will remain intact are my sewing and cooking supplies.
I aim to use my stash of fabric to make money towards my challenge and will eat my way through my food stocks. Depending on how much time Francesca spend here my food stocks will feed me very well for a few months, all I will need is eggs, dairy and fresh veg. I have plenty of fruit in store, either fresh, frozen or in jars. The garden will be rejuvenated and more growing space will be found. 
I have made a firm decision not to return to work and I still intend to succeed with this challenge. I feel so motivated that I could almost wish Christmas gone, almost maybe.
I feel that this will enable me to cope with full retirement, I am already planning my garden changes. I have a list of items to make from my fabric stash and I will be exploring lots of frugal recipes. I will get a head start on the food as I have been offered a brace of pheasant from each local shoot, and there are not many weeks without 2. I can get 4 good meals plus stock from each bird, and pheasant pate is sublime.
Oh my word this has become a ramble.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. An exciting challenge.

2. Lots of free top class protein coming my way.

3. An evening or three reading seed catalogues, lovely. 

4. A sweet smelling Ben, bathed yesterday.

5. A bag of huge pine cones, dried, ready to craft with. Free

I have just realised that I did not photograph the linens that I found in the CS, no time now so another day.

I will pop this memory of last summer in, two weeks to the shortest day and then the tide turns and the days get longer.

 I am making a stir fry for dinner and it is time to get slicing and dicing.

                          TTFN                                 Pam 

Monday, 2 December 2013

A,Lost Thimble and a Sore Finger.

I have had a couple of iffy days, backache and aching joints, hey ho. I am persevering with the exercises and reciting the mantra, No gain without pain. I was too achy to sit at the machines, even with "auto pilate" on little gem it was too uncomfortable, so I dug out a hand sewing WIP.

Once I have finished this round of greens I will do another in pinks.
That will be enough and I will square it up and quilt it on the machine.
I did a very easy, simple dinner. Tagliatelle with a sauce of little sausage meatballs in a spicy tomato, onion and pepper sauce. I used 1 pack of hot and spicy sausages RTC 50p, 4 rashers of bacon 30p, 1/2 red pepper, 1/2 green pepper from a RTC bag 22p, garlic  free from the garden and 1/2 red onion 5p, homemade tomato sauce 20p. This made enough sauce for 4 meals at 32p each the pasta cost 15p so my delicious dinner was 47p, round it up to 50p to cover seasoning and a pinch of mixed herbs.

 I had to bath Ben this afternoon he decided to jump into a very smelly ditch on his walk, Eau de Swamp is not pleasant I assure you.

We have suffered a minor disaster in the village, the shop closed on Sunday and by this morning it had been stripped back to bare bones. There is a notice on the door stating that it will open early January under new management, not really helpful to those who rely on it for everyday basics. Our next nearest shop is in Tydd Gote, about a mile away. No problem to the hale and hearty but too far for an elderly person to walk there and back with a bag of shopping and the owner is planning to retire soon. Bad and Sad Times.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. Ben smells as sweet as a flower.

2. My dinner was delish and filling.

3. My lovely neighbour Marina is still doing well despite the Leukemia.

4. Francesca is settling in well in London.

5. I found a vintage sheet in the charity shop this morning £1.75, it is in perfect condition and is big enough to back a quilt and more.

I went into the CS just on a whim and could not believe my luck, it is in the washing machine now, when dry I will photograph it.I also picked up 2 double duvet covers for the same price. I will turn them into something, they are soft and pretty enough for baby quilts.

There is a big appeal for the local food banks ready for Christmas, the children will be at home for 2 weeks and they will miss out on their school lunches. As I have all my cupboards and freezer full I will be doing a shop for them, I plan on filling a trolley and spending my Tesco points. I have over £60 and really do not need them myself. I plan on using £20 to double up for toiletries, I should be able to get a decent amount of smellies with £40.

I am hoping to spend some time in the kitchen this evening, I have found a few interesting recipes in Blogland plus I want to make a batch of mincepies for the stalwarts who run the CS. They were saying this morning that the woman who usually bakes for them has moved into sheltered accommodation and has not got the room.
Now I think it is time for tea, and lots of it.  Oh the blog title, my thimble is missing and as I am handsewing I have pushed the needle into  my finger tip a couple of times, not nice, I don't want to bleed on the fabric. I seem to remember hearing something hit the floor and roll on Saturday so the sofa is coming out later, fingers crossed that I find it.

            TTFN                                              Pam

PS Do you look at other peoples blog list and have  a dip in , I do and have found a few new ones to follow, tip toe through mine, you never know what you may find that takes your fancy.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Saturday, All Work and a Little Play.

A busy busy time here in South Lincs. I seemed to have worked all day yesterday and again today. My big shop is done and tucked away, all done until January. I have filled up with all the boring stuff, loo rolls, washing up liquid, scouring pads, shoe polish etc etc. My favourite stick deodorant was on a good offer so I emptied the shelf, I can't be doing with roll on and will not buy anything in an aerosol can except my fabric glue. I do object to paying through the nose just so I don't offend someone elses.
I filled the flour bins, sugar jars and piled in some more dried fruit, I can not run out of mincemeat, and all the odd bits like Mulled Wine spice and hot pepper sauce. I don't mull wine but I do make a hot spiced apple drink.
I wash and cut up enough apples, of as many different varieties as I have, to just about fill my biggest pot. I take out the cores and any bruised bits, just cover them with water add a mulled wine spice bag and a few extra cloves and bring to the boil, cover and simmer till the apples are very soft. I turn off the heat and leave them covered to really let the flavours infuse. Then I strain them through a muslin lined sieve and chill the juice till I want it. It isn't bad cold but it is delish hot, I don't sweeten it but for those with a sweet tooth a little maple syrup would be perfect.

I pushed the boat out and bought some Venison, it will make 6 to 8 meals for £7, which is much more than I normally allow for meat but I love it. I offset the cost with some cooking bacon and smoked salmon trimmings and the savings made on my other shopping. I had a £10 voucher and I got 10p a litre off my petrol so I am happy.

Fran sent me this and I thought i would share it with you.

I have to go, no time for more my cooker alarm just went off.

TTFN                                    Pam

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Christmas is here, well almost.

I have finished Francesca's new quilt top, over the next 2 days I will get the wadding and decide on the backing. I am going to make it reversible, I am sure you will understand why when you see it.

It is a big one and once quilted I will be able to get a better photo.

It is a "cheats" version of Cathedral Windows using fabric from Kate Spain, one of my favourite designers. I may have mentioned that Fran is a Christmas fiend, she loves it and has snaffled her Christmas cushions already. I am going to make it reversible so that she can use it all year round. This will have to be the last one for her as she will have 6.

I have had an interesting day, I have been cadging a lift to walk Ben with a friends dog, round a set aside field in the next village. This afternoon he came face to face with a feral chicken, the bird lost some feathers and Ben collected a few pecks and a wounded pride. Then he got a severe telling off from me, his playmate just looked on with disdain written all over his face.
He needs to learn better, next time it could be a rat that will attack.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. Ben did not catch the chicken.

2. The chicken did not catch Ben.

3. My friend was helpful in keeping her dog, Gin, back. 

4. Gin was so good and sat and stayed.

5. I have a long lead for Ben tomorrow.

Once I have full mobility Ben will be back to long road walks, until then being on a lead will perhaps teach him a lesson.

I sent a present off to my Brother and SIL in Perth today and have just spotted their Christmas Card on the side, oh well it can go tomorrow.
I have 2 more to get in the post and that will be done for the year. Fran is having her quilt, a stack of books and some bits and bobs. We decided to keep it low key this year because of her move and my hopes to sell and move.

I watched the second episode of Nigel and Adam's Farm program this afternoon, it is good. 

I was in bed by 9. last night and asleep by 2 minutes later, The massage and exercise wear me out goodness knows why, I am after all lying down!

Dinner tonight is Brisket in a spicy marinade in the slow cooker, with a selection of fresh veg, the leftovers will make rissoles for several meals.

Talking of dinner, the smell from the kitchen is fantastic so I am off to investigate.

             TTFN                                        Pam