Thursday, 30 January 2014

What to do on a Rainy Day.

With a little bit of this and a little bit of that I can fill my day with sunshine, well warmth and the golden glow of the oven light.
I couldn't sit still today so between the showers I took Ben and Greg out for 2 walks.
 I sorted out my sewing patterns and cut out another full skirt from my new to me pattern. The first one will have to be refashioned, I felt that the fabric was just a touch too heavy so am rethinking. The white on red polka dot is cut out and pinned together, I have a zip and will probably use a hook and eye fastening on the waistband.

At mid afternoon I had to get into the kitchen, I started by getting my pastry mix, homemade, out of the fridge and making a ball of pastry to rest back in the fridge.

While it was chilling I made this.

1/4 of a roast chicken, 1 bacon chop simmered in a little water  for 15 minutes, 2 leeks some buttery stuff, plain flour, milk and stock.

Slice the cleaned leeks and sweat off in some buttery stuff, when soft stir in the plain flour and cook for 10 minutes stirring gently. Add in enough stock and milk to give a fairly thick sauce, season and stir in the diced meats and put to cool. roll out the chilled pastry and make pies or pasties.

I got a pie for the freezer, another for my neighbour  Nev, and a pastie for lunch tomorrow, maybe.

I had some pastry left and knowing that both my neighbours have a sweet tooth I made a Paradise slice.

Line a greased swiss roll tin with pastry and spoon in some jam to cover the bottom. Weigh 3 eggs, 2 if very big, and use the same weight of caster sugar and buttery stuff, beat together with a wooden spoon, then use the same weight of half and half SR Four and Ground Almonds and stir into the mix, then add around 100 gs coconut and 400 g luxury mixed fruit (RTC if you can find it is perfect.) I have used homemade mince meat and added a little extra almonds to counteract the extra moisture, dollop on to the jam and spread level cook at 180c for 25 -30 minutes. I like this warm with a little cream, others like it with custard. I made a small round one from the excess pastry and filling mix, waste not want not.

I phoned the surgery this morning for my follow up test results, only to be told that it had been tested and on seeing the results the sample had been sent to "the lab", and no there was nobody available to give me any details, and no they could not prescribe anything until the results are back.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. A happy productive day.

2. Treats for my friends that cost little more than my time.

3. Missing the rain on my walks.

4. Despite the weather laundry and ironing done and dusted.

5. Seeing a mole pop out of his hole and sit up sniffing the air, luckily Ben and Greg were charging around on the other side of the field.

They are pretty little creatures and surprisingly fast, a blackbird sounded the alarm and in the blink of an eye the mole had turned a somersault and was gone.
I have stocked up with lemon barley water and cranberry juice, I will try the surgery Friday afternoon but in truth I expect it will be Monday at the earliest before I get any answer.

I have 6 items on my shopping list, I will go to see Mr T. on Friday and see if I can stock up enough things to get my £6 off. I have checked on line and some of my regular buys are on promotion.

Time for Tea,
                        TTFN                                             Pam

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

What a Wonderful Day

This morning the postie brought me a very special packet, well it may not be everyone,s cup of tea but it is certainly right up my street. I found it on Anglesey Allsorts on Saturday and it had my name all over it.

I may have totally ignored the stack of fabric ready to be cut for my next quilt.
I may have spend time pulling a wonderful piece of lightweight home dec fabric that I think would be perfect for the skirt and blouse.

I bought this 100% cotton print in Dunelm ages ago, I just knew that the perfect use would come along.
I also have some bright red polka dot that would be ideal for a lighter version, I will line it though as I can not be doing with petticoats. I have also added pockets to the side seams, on the polka dot skirt I may add patch pockets.

Dinner tonight was Spicy sausages and oven cooked chips, I used some red unnamed potatoes and was not impressed. They came from a bag that was a gift and I will try as many ways of cooking them as I have to until I find a way that they like. If all else fails they will become game chips and Bubble and Squeak.

I was talking to a friend earlier about our shopping habits, she was shocked at the fact that I actively hunt out bargains and stock pile on items when they are on promotion. I am certain that she thought that I was on my beam end.
Now I do not feel the need to justify my actions but I took the time to explain.
It is not a case of what I CAN afford but what I WILL afford. When I find things, that I usually buy, at a reduced  to clear price or on a very good special offer, I snap them up in as large a quantity that I can store. I am a winner in the game. If I have to pay full price I have lost. To me it is a game, it is also a safety net for the future. I am healthy and hope to have many more years of good health. If this does not happen I will have substantial savings to enable me to remain independent with support. Plus I enjoy it, I went to the Co op in Sutton this morning and large chickens were RTC to £3.50 from £5.00, all the same price but with a weight variation of 200g, that is over 6oz. I took the time to sift through and pick out 4 of the heaviest. To me that was a win win double. I could easily pay the full price, they are very good quality and a fair price but I like to play the game.
There have been times when shopping this way was the only option for me, certainly it was how I was raised. Now it is second nature to me.
Reasons to be grateful.

1. Today I made a convert to careful shopping.

2. Today I stocked up on lean protein at a bargain price.

3. Today I walked in sunshine, three times.

4. Today I had exciting post.

5. Today I started making a skirt, for the spring that is on it's way.

I have had a good day today, I hope that you all have also had good days.
Do I feel guilty for not sewing quilt blocks? Not in the slightest, it will happen and once completed I will be having a layer and baste day or so, followed closely by a quilting fest. I have not made clothes for a while and it felt good to do some "for me" sewing today.
I am going to look around for a dress form, I had one years ago and goodness knows what happened to it, lost in a house move probably. 
That is it for today, oh oh, I nearly forgot, I told you about the bread tins that I found in London for £ too much. Well I had a ride out with Nev this morning to a large rambling sell anything kind of place, he wanted photo paper for his printer and I found sturdy bread tins for £3.99 and snapped up 2. When I use them I will show and tell.

               TTFN                                                        Pam

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Busy Doing Nothing, Working the whole day long.

I have been pottering around all day, in and out of the garden, pushing the vacuum cleaner round the whole cottage, picking things up and putting them where they belong, walking Ben in the sunshine and the rain. Sorted out a few things to take to the CS, and filled a recycling bag with very elderly magazines, all glossy so no good for compost.
I am sure that lots of you have days like that, butterfly days when you flit from room to room and job to job. Perpetual motion without doing much of anything. It does not feel as though I have been working but looking round I see more space, empty flat surfaces, nothing glaringly out of place.
By 3.00 I was starting to feel hungry, I had taken a bacon chop out of the freezer (Cooking Bacon from Mr S), I diced it small and poured boiling water over it to take out the salt and put it to drain after 15 minutes or so. I had a dish of homemade chunky veg soup and I strained the veg out and mixed with the bacon. That was the filling sorted, now what to wrap it in? Ding! I have some herby dumpling mix from AF. I put a pan of water on to boil and got busy. I made the mix up and rolled it out to a rough square, spread the filling over and rolled it up like a Swiss Roll, wrap loosely in baking Paper then foil and drop into boiling watere onto the trivet from my pressure cooker. I let it simmer and steam for nearly 3 hours. Now I did think about using the pressure cooker but I like the crust to be brown and a bit crisp and that needs time.

Served with cabbage, 3 hungry servings, it,s a good job that I have 2 neighbours, I turned the stained soup into a tomatoey gravy and it disappeared at an alarming rate.

I put an old fashioned steamer basket on top of the pan and in that I put a basin with around 3/4 pt of water and a chopped up chicken carcass. That gave me some concentrated stock and a dish of meat for Ben.

I had boned the chicken out a while ago and put the bones in the freezer, there was not a huge amount of meat left on the bones, I use a very good, very sharp boning knife.

I think that dinner worked out at around £1.50 including the electricity, not bad for such a good dinner.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. Lots of little jobs added up to a good days work.

2. Good food, great cost, minimal work.

3. Bones is on TV tomorrow.

4. Bright sunshine for most of the day, heavy rain was forecast.

5. Mr T has sent me some very good vouchers, I haven't been to see him for months he must be missing me.

Needless to say I will be shopping there this weekend, I have a £6 off a £40 pound shop voucher and some money off coupons for various items that I often buy, I may not need to buy them this time but I will as the savings will be worth it.

I am going to start cutting the next quilt top tomorrow, there will not be too much to cut as I will be using my scrap stash to make Courthouse Step blocks.
I am off to the wool shop this week to get some yarn ready for when my crochet hooks arrive, they have to come down the Amazon, delivery date is next Monday. I have decided on my first project and will share it however it turns out.

I feel a cup of tea is called for, then I am going to get my fabric boxes out and some fat quarters ready for the morning.

                 TTFN                                    Pam

Monday, 27 January 2014

Quilt in a Day, Very Nearly.

A warm welcome to 2 new followers, Jozzie and Caryl W, I hope you find something to interest you.
An apology to those who commented yesterday, I like to reply to each but Blogger had other ideas, words were transposed and replies put in the wrong place so I threw the towel in.

Another Announcement.

Quilt top number 3 is finished. I was reading my new book from  Camille, of Bonnie and Camille, and I saw her "big block" version of Churn Dash. It has taken an old block and made it thoroughly modern, I fell in love there and then.
I slept on it and remembered that I had some Savanna Bop in my stash, I bought it ages ago at a really good price. So I made a block and used some bright Turquoise for a bold splash, then I made another with a different print, they looked so good together that I made 2 more and a quilt was born.
I have 2 more prints from the collection and a plan is fermenting for number 4. 
There is a great deal of white space in this and I am thinking of using a bold cotton for the quilting or a little applique here and there.
If I had only spent the day sewing I could have made 2 like this with no problem, I normally make quilts with lots of small pieces so this was very new to me. I would not want to make every quilt with big blocks but a fast finish gives you a feel good glow.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. One step nearer to my donated quilt total.

2. A gift of an old Randolph Scott film on DVD.

3. Sunshine this afternoon.

4. The viral video from BBC Radio 2 today is brilliant, I have only watched it 3 times.

5. I thought that I had to have an external door replaced, but the nice man who came out to look at it found that it was any easy fix and charged me £10.

I don't watch the Radio 2 things usually but was listening to Steve Wright and he played the sound track, I logged on to Facebook and watched it and watched it and watched it. Ben was watching as well but was not impressed.

An easy dinner tonight, minced beef cobbler with roast root veg. At less than 90p a serving and very tasty I am happy, and very full.

I may have a day off sewing tomorrow, I have sewed my way through 3 quilt tops and want to do some other bits and bobs before I start the 4th. I also want to vacuum all the threads up, they have trailed all over the cottage, it is also time I washed all the paintwork down. I do not like housework but equally I do not like being in a muddle.

In my quest to learn to crochet I have bought a set of hooks from up the Amazon, I now have to get some yarn, I have a "how to" book and have found some tutorials on You tube. I will not give in, I have seen some truly gorgeous crochet on some of my blog list and I want to do that.

Oh My, it is gone 7 and the sink is full of dishes, I need to shake my tail feathers.
       TTFN                                                                  Pam

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Peace out of Chaos, Thanks to Dreamer.

Welcome to 2 new gang members, Fearless Life ( I would love to know the reason behind that title) and Claire from Thriftwood who like me is rather fond of Afternoon Tea. When Fran is home we do a proper tea, Royal Albert china, scones, jam and clotted cream, little sandwiches, the full monty. I do use my china every day but if I ate tea daily I would have to be wheeled around in a barrow.

An Announcement. 
The second quilt top for donating is finished.

I used a stronger range of colour and pattern in this one, making it more suitable for a boy, although it would be fine for a girl.
2 down, 2 to go, I have masses of strips of various length and width ready cut but will use a different layout for the next 2.

I asked my butcher for a bone for stock, just look at it. That pan is 20" across, I got lots of lovely stock and Ben looked at the bone, then looked at me with a dazed expression. He did however take every scrap of meat and tissue off it and slurped just about all the marrow out, I scooped the remainder out with a long spoon handle for him.

I read Dreamer.s blog and when she first started this off I did not really take it in.

52 Projects

Then after reading how others had taken it up I decided to have a go. That was one of my better choices, I have drawn up a list, BTW I love me a list. The first 3 were simple carry on with decluttering,
1, The built in sitting room cupboards, DONE. 
2, My wardrobes, DONE.
3, Take at least 2 boxes of "stuff" to the CS. DONE.
This week, number 4 is to finish putting Fran's bedroom to rights, it should have been simple and done this morning.....................but I am quite clumsy and while moving things around I managed to stand on the overhead light shade. It broke and I spent 5 minutes picking up bits of coloured glass with one of those sticky roller doodads. I will be visiting said CS on Monday to look for another, possibly a material covered one that I can revamp with one of the fabrics in her quilt.
Number 5 is to empty the little conservatory and give it a birthday, it tends to get used as a "mud room" in the winter. I know that winter is not over but I have to let my eyes go out of focus when I go in there it is in such a sorry state.
I digress, drawing up the list has galvanized me into action, I knew these things needed doing and writing them down was just the shove that I needed. So far I have got 25 listed, when I am nearly there I will look again and finish the list. 
A few things that were going to require money being spent have been put on hold. 
Wonderful news, Francesca has been accepted to sit the New York Bar and it will start with a course in early March at a cost of £How Bloody Much!!!, Then in April the exam fees have to be paid, More of the same, Then she has to go to New York for 2 weeks, the exam is in 2 parts and they are 2 weeks apart.So flights, hotel etc. etc. and there's more gone.
She has her student loan and her LPC loan to pay off and is ploughing through those. I do not want her to cut back on those and another loan would be a stupid way to proceed. Her Dad and I discussed it and we will each lend her half the total. It must be a loan, albeit interest free and payment will be organised by monthly transfer from her bank.
Obviously she will need spending money and probably definitely some new clothes, she is going to New York after all. That will be covered by early Birthday and Christmas money.
We all thought that it would be next year before this happened but really the sooner the better, just think by mid August (fingers crossed) she will be fully qualified.
Reasons to be grateful.

1. A wet, wet wet day. What doesn't come down as rain could come down as snow.

2. Fran's wonderful news.

3. The fact that the money is there for her.

4. Being half way through my destash quilt project.

5. Finding enough quilting fabric in my wardrobe to back at least 3 of the quilts without joining bits together.

I have a reasonable sized piece of Minky and will use that for 1 quilt, the last time I tried it was very hard work, I have read a tutorial about this and picked up lots of tips so I feel quietly confident. The wadding is ready to use, I buy it by the box as I use so much and it gives a saving, thanks to the lovely Ladies from Button Up and Stitch. Oops that reminds me I have signed up to do a class in Foundation piecing and can not remember when it is, must pop in and check.

Sausage casserole Ding for dinner with some cabbage I think.
My pills seem to have done the job, no more pain and running up stairs every 10 minutes, phew. 1 more to take today and that is it.
I only took 2 books from the library Friday, because I have some from Christmas to read, and found that I had read 1 and could not get into the second. More time for sewing then.

Ben is huffing and puffing around my feet so I better find our coats and go take the air.
         TTFN                                                          Pam

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Saturday Sunshine and Monsoon

What a day of contrasts, we started off very cold with grey skies. That went, kicked into touch by bright sunshine and a brisk breeze. I took Ben out and he romped around the field. Meanwhile I got a load of washing on the line. I brought it in,ironing dry, and it is now done and tucked away. We have just had a thunder storm right overhead, with streaks of lightning and torrential rain. 
I have continued picking my way through the house and filled some bags and boxes for the CS. It seems as though the more I turf out the more there is to go through. Yesterday I opend a top cupboard, moved a box and found a bundle of fabric that I had obviously stuck up there and then forgotten.
I need to allocate a few days to just sew, I haven't done much in a few days but do have the urge to sew tonight.
Yesterday I managed to clear some things from the garden, broken pots, odds and ends of netting and fleece, empty compost bags and so on. I do grow potatoes in compost bags but these had been used 3 times and were disintegrating. This has all been put into rubble bags and is heading for the recycling center during the week. I must dive right into the shed and remove a dozen or so paint pots, these have also been planted up in the past but I have too many.
I have been watching a run of repeats of Doctor Who and enjoying vegging out and doing a little stitching. Nothing remarkable, just trying out some new stitches and getting used to doing some hand sewing other than patchwork.
I have been reading back through some of the blogs on my list and clicking on comments and exploring further afield. Some bloggers seem to have three times the hours in the day that I do. Perhaps they just move at top speed all day, every day. I like to be busy but I do have Ben to walk, cleaning, washing and ironing and so on. Having said that I start my day with a pot of tea and go through emails and then spend a half hour,at least, on blog reading. Naughty? maybe but now that I do not work my time is my own and I am enjoying it.
No photo,s today, I haven't taken any for a few days and my batteries are on charge, both sets! I can not think how that happened.
Fish and chips for dinner last night, it is ages since I cooked them it hardly seems worth it for 1 but I had company. Tonight I am having  Cottage Pie with cauliflower and cabbage and lashings of gravy.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. I am off to visit Jeannie next weekend

2. Washing done and dusted for a few days.

3. I am planning a trip to the big garden center just outside Spalding for next week.

4. 2 Duck Dynasty books to read.

5. My new Quilting book from Camille Roskelley arrived. 

I feel for those in flooded areas, more heavy rain is forecast and the ground is at saturation point now. I still need to contact the British Red Cross to donate my quilts, I intend to wait until they are all finished and ready to go. I need to get a wiggle on as my next projects are at the planning stage.
I managed to develop an infection which has had me running backwards and forwards to the loo. I am so glad that I no longer pay for prescriptions as I was given 6 little pills. I just have to drop another urine sample at the surgery on Wednesday. Don't you just love those dinky little containers,  obviously designed my a man with no imagination!

Right, I am off to make tea and cook dinner, well cook the potatoes as I made a batch of minced beef and veg in gravy earlier.
     TTFN                                             Pam.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Recipe for Julia, and Ben, Before and After.

Here is the recipe for the double choc chip cookies, my way.

Preheat oven to 109c/375f/gas 5. line 2 baking sheets with non stick baking paper.
Break up 100 g Dark Chocolate and 100 g Milk Chocolate.
Cream together 110 g buttery stuff (suitable for baking) with 200 g light brown sugar, I use a wooden spoon but you can use a hand held mixer, it does not have to be light and fluffy.
Stir in 1 beaten egg and a few drops of vanilla essence, mix well. It may look curdled but beat it hard and it will give in. Add 165 g Pl Flour, 1/2 tsp Baking Powder, 1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda and 30 g cocoa powder and mix well so the colour is uniform, it should be quite stiff. Stir in the chocolate and mash well in with a wooden spoon, I use an ice cream scoop to make 5 cookies on each sheet, spaced so that they can spread out.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, they will be very soft and have cracked tops, remove from oven and leave to cool on the trays.
My fan oven needs the full 12 minutes, I have used choc chips but prefer to use chopped up bars, much cheaper. I have used half chocolate and half nuts/stem ginger/dried fruit and even shredded coconut.

My daft dog snuggled down on Fran's lap, before his visit to the groomer.

And here he is super smooth, I love him both ways.

A mixed up day, we have had brilliant sunshine, pouring rain, hail and dark grey skies, slight breeze and howling wind. I did get my washing dry outside though so it wasn't too bad.
I have been pressing and cutting more strips of fabric for Boy,s quilt blocks, tedious but it has to be done, I have enough sewn up for 1 top and decided to get the second one done straight away. It just made sense to use all those colours while they were out. 

Reasons to be grateful.

1. Line dried washing, smells sweet.

2. Lots of sewing ready to go.

3. My little smoothy Ben, snuggled on his favourite cushion.

4. Bones is back on the telly next week.

5. My lovely neighbour has copied some treasured LP,s on to CD,s for me.

My house looks as though a hurricane has been through, the ironing board is up with an overflowing basket beside it. I have my 3 tiny scrap bins out, 1 each for selvedge edges, strings and crumbs. My newly cut strips are stacked on the table ready to be paired up, the extra cuts are stacked by colour ready and waiting to go into their respective plastic boxes. I have 2 sewing machines set up and a pile of bobbins ready to be wound on one of them.
All that I really want to do is sew but I will make a brew and then clear the decks so that I can be guilt free.
I will take Ben out for a walk, he doesn't go far but likes to check the street out before he retires for the night. Once I start sewing he will curl up on his bed and snore gently.
Tomorrow I have to go and buy a man hole cover for my drain, I noticed this morning that one has a big crack in it. There is a lot of plant debris around but it is too wet to even think about touching it. I have a van coming Saturday week and intend to clear my little shed, I will bag up anything that is too woody to compost and take it all to the recycling center. The hire of the van and driver is a reasonable fruit cake and apple pie.
Dinner tonight was a frugal fridge bottom salad with a jacket potato
and a little grated half price cheddar. I had a dollop of my Christmas Chutney and it was very tasty and filling.
Right, time for that tea. 
           TTFN                                              Pam

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Putting my Money Where My Mouth Is.

That is what my Granny used to say if someone was pontificating, telling us all how "it" should be done. "Stop talking about it, put your money where your mouth is and go and do it"
Well yesterday I ran on about food thrift and blogger recipes, today is a dreary and damp day so it is Play Time in the kitchen.

First of all, those fancy sausages that I bought in Beckenham, not worth the price, not really tasty and quite chewy, so what to do with them.
The Italian and French ones were very samey, just a slight difference in size and seasoning, I dry fried them ready for the slow cooker treatment.

Once they had some nice brown markings I put them into the cooker and started on the veg.

2 carrots, 1 small onion, 1/2 a small swede and half a soft red pepper, a little sizzling and into the cooker.

The end of my last butternut squash, a lonely leek and a stick of celery, a finely diced red chili and some garlic were next, duly sizzled and added to the pot.

I pulled some home made passata from the freezer and used a tin each of chickpeas and chopped tomatoes, these were either 4 or 5 for £1 in Sainsbury,s last year, I filled a trolley! I heated these up and added a heaped spoon of smoked paprika and a tsp of dried herb mix. They went into the pot with a good grind of black pepper and enough chicken stock to just about cover everything.

On low for 5 to 6 hours, as the sausages were quite expensive and huge I will cut them into chunks when cooked, that way they stay in nice firm pieces. This lot will make 8 or 9 meals and will be served in Yorkshire Puddings, with rice, cous cous, pasta or mashed potato, depending on how I feel at the time.

When ever I see these sort of prices I pounce, the chili bags go straight into the freezer, I just take what I want out and chop them up frozen. The carrots will be mostly used today and any left will go into veg hash and be frozen 

These are some of the seeds from my squash, I will wash the fibrous flesh off, drain and dry them before sowing them in pots. I pick the best squash and then the fattest seeds and sow many more than I need. Then I once again select the best looking plants to grow, the rest go to neighbours and/or the charity shop.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. Lots of tasty dinners to be squirreled away.

2. The day may be wet but it is warm.

3. I had a parcel from up the Amazon this morning.

4. Marina is still holding firm, she will never get better but is not giving in or up.

5. I picked up a £2 coin in the car park yesterday.

I have a pan of minced beef and veg simmering away, that will make shepherds pie and some double crust pies for the freezer. I used the same mixture of veg as the sausage  casserole just diced finer and browned it off with the mince, added a squeeze of tomato puree and some stock. I will thicken it then chill it down and portion it out. Then decide what to make and how many servings I want. I use 80/20 % mince as it has more flavour than the very lean. If too much fat renders out I drain it off and use to  fry off veg for another meal, why waste all that flavour.

Here it is, browning nicely.

Oh yes, my parcel, I almost forgot.

Inspiration for using my scrap pile and at just £1.20 a steal. Full of good ideas that will use all my little snippets.

TTFN                                                  Pam

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

When Less really is More.

When I was in Beckenham on Saturday I had a wander round Mr S's store, just checking it out you understand. I saw these and pounced.

The magazine is called "Live well for less" and there was a display of recipe cards with it, as you can see the key ingredients are mostly ready prepared or tins and jars. The most expensive was the Moroccan Lamb with chickpea spiced rice at a massive £3.36 per person. The lamb is meant to be 300g of leftover roast, I expect that they costed it with Leg, there was a long list of ingredients including courgettes, a tub of pomegranate seeds and prepacked flat leaf parsley 1.4 of a pack. Who buys those little packs uses a 1/4 and saves the rest, not me. if it wasn't in the garden I would buy a growing pot and keep it for as long as I could. Pomegranate seeds, I would buy 1 fruit and squeeze the seeds out.
The next was Beef, vegetable & ale pie at £2.97 per person, this calls for a 700g prepared casserole veg pack, a jar of cook in sauce and ready rolled pastry.

In my life it would have been breast of lamb, and herbs from the garden, chickpeas soaked overnight and 10 minutes in the pressure cooker and there may have been Pomegranate if I found one RTC.
The beef pie would have used a selection of veg from the fridge and home made pastry prepared by my own fair hands, I use a can of cheap bitter for beef in ale and freeze what I do not use. The 300g of left over roast beef would have been slow  cooked brisket and probably RTC.

With careful shopping and a meal plan you can live well for less but not from this magazine. What you need to do is go and see Frugal Queen, MFin3, and all the other thrifty blogs out there. Most have recipes on a regular basis, I am making new meals all the time from my blog list, tomorrow I am cooking Hoppin John and corn bread from Helen the frugal knit-wit. I have cooked recipes from Foster Mummy, Mum, Sue and The Iowa Housewife to name but a few. Now I am as tight as a duck,s bum, and they are water tight, and all these bloggers know how to make a pound do the work of 3 or more, and share their knowledge freely.

I think Mr S. should hang his head in shame, perhaps he needs to read a few blogs.

I missed this from my blog post yesterday, it is a stack of 5" charms and some fussy cut squares, oh Patty you are truly a star.

I emptied my penny jar into the counting machine at Asda today, I walked away with a voucher for £8.20, not much maybe but it was all 1 and 2p coins. With this largess I purchased, 3 fillets of River Cobbler reduced to £1.40, a pack of 3 Salmon steaks reduced to £2.30, 2 pints of whole milk 79p, a head of broccoli 28p and a cauli 30p. That left me with £3.13 so I treated Ben to a box of Bonio on offer at £1 and spent the rest on tins of chopped tomatoes, puree and boxes of passata for the pantry.

Now that is how you live better for less, There are 3 fish pies in the freezer, 2 serving size. Ben has some salmon for the next 2 days, it is good for his skin, and 4 cauli and broccoli cheese dishes are waiting to be frozen. My tomato shelf is groaning and I am a happy bunny.
To put icing on the cake I popped into the Co op and picked up some mature cheddar half price, that is grated and frozen down as well. I do not miss the copper coins and regard my shopping as almost free. I had to go to the bank so even my petrol was used to save money.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. Almost free food, tucked away for future meals.

2. A foggy start to the day that cleared to bright sun.

3. Laundry and ironing done.

4. New recipes to try out.

5. An evening free to wallow in blog reading, and maybe a double choc chip cookie to enjoy.

There is no maybe about it, I made a batch on Friday from  Baking Made Easy by Lorraine Pascal. They are super indulgent and very chocolatey, I keep the cost down by chopping up 2 bars of chocolate from the supermarket, much cheaper than buying choc Chips and make no difference to the end result. I get 10 big cookies from the mix and manage to only have 2, the rest I share.
I will have to cost the recipe out, I have been told by everyone who tries them that they are the best cookies in the world.

I haven't managed to sew a stitch so far this week, but the cottage looks quite tidy and I have donated a pile of stuff to the CS giving me lots of space. I do have a stack of blocks next to the machine ready to sew together in the morning. I need to earn my sewing time and can not enjoy it if there are jobs that need doing in the house.

Fran turfed out a stack of books, all in very good condition so I took them to the Library, some will stay there, some will go to other branches and some may be sold. I take books out regularly and like to support my local branch. Many of my friends do the same and we have an excellent range of books to choose from. I am sure that it all helps to keep it going.

Time for a brew I think.

TTFN                                           Pam.

Monday, 20 January 2014

My Avalanche of Kindness

Welcome aboard to Claire from Thriftwood, I tried to reply to your comment but Blogger dug his ( of course it is a male, awkward to the 'nth degree) heels in and would not let me. I have read that a few people are having the occasional problem, I have myself, but on my own blog! Hey ho onwards and upwards.

Now for the good bits, very very good.

When I opened my parcel this avalanche erupted, strips and strings and squares and scraps

Some trimmings from projects, these got me wondering what they were part of.

Wide strips mostly WOF, note the green in the front, so lovely.

These are larger pieces some with interesting gaps, yet again they got me wondering what the gaps had become.

Then these 12, fat quarters and bigger, such yumminess in such a small parcel. The box was 6" square and 6 1/2" tall, I think Patty must have waved a magic wand to get it all in.
There is not one single pattern that is in my stash and I have to keep looking and stroking them. I also have to tell you that this fabric will not join the stash until my 4 charity quilts have been made. Selfishly I am keeping this for me, I see a new quilt in my bedroom this year, I have an idea forming and as soon as it has rooted properly I will share. 
 And now for something completely different, Tights, winter tights, warm and woolly, patterned and brightly coloured. What size should I be buying? In my collection I have small, medium, med/large, tall and small/medium. All of them fit me perfectly! I also have a pile of large, medium and small/medium that either pull up under my chin (that will be the medium) or sit just below my hips even though the legs are too long ( think Nora Batty).
Oh I nearly forgot the ones where the crotch sits at mid thigh and the top is big enough to have a party in. Who on earth designs these and who for? Does anyone have any suggestions, I do like M&S but they have a small colour range. I like bright and bold (think Sue Pollard meets Zandra Rhodes).
When I worked it was jeans all the way, now I like skirts and tights. Francesca turfed out her surplus skirts and I hoovered them up, as she is a few inches shorter than me thick tights are a MUST.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. My lovely, lovely parcel.

2. The people of Blog land, who give so generously. Both of material gifts and help and support.

3. Sunshine, I will never cease to be grateful for that, especially in the winter.

4. Ben, as smooth and soft as a piece of velvet.

5. My wellies, an essential clothing item for walking said Ben.

I have a theme for tomorrow that I find interesting and fits my Frugal ( tight fisted) shopping and cooking ideals. I would have shared it today but for my tremendous pile of goodies.
TTFN                                   Pam

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Splashing back to Tydd

I want to begin by welcoming Kim, Bridget and Brenda to the "gang" I hope you find something of interest.
 Have any of you popped over to see Sue Baxter Wells yet? She has been leaving interesting comments on lots of blogs recently,  she  blogs at Brown Calico Curtains and hails from the top most Eastern Corner of the US. I have a question for you Sue. There have been a few comments floating around about "circles" what they are and how they work. Would you like to enlighten us?

What a wet few days/weeks, there have been a few dry bits but nowhere near enough. I feel that I have been paddling forever, even on the dry sunny days I squelch with every step.

The funeral went as well as these things do, it was a simple service as planned ages ago. A few unwelcome people turned up but were ignored and left to stew in their own juice.
Jeannie was supported well by her sons, David and Carl, Peter's Grandchildren Francesca and James and their dad, Michael. There was one moment when I had to hold Fran close but she held up well. She adored her Grandfather and was adored right back.
Jeannie wrote a couple of pages for the eulogy but asked Michael to read it out.

Fran stayed here until Saturday and we did lots of chatting and remembering, we also sorted out a car load of her possessions to go back to Beckenham. We were up early and on our way by 8.00am. The journey, thanks to Tom Tom, was straightforward and 2 1/2 hours long.
Ben snuggled next to, on and around Fran the whole way. We had a quick brew and then walked the High Street, I could not resist popping in one shop and they kindly allowed me to take these.

I was very good, thinking of my waistline, and only bought some chocolate covered coffee beans as a gift for someone. There were many of my childhood memories in the shop but the prices!

After all that walking our tummies were thinking that our throats had been cut so we popped into the local bakery and bought some bread and, shame on me, pasties. Not too huge and absolutely delicious, washed down with another brew they gave us energy to walk in the park.
 Just 3 minutes gentle stroll from the house is a lovely park. Lots of walks, some were marked as NO DOGS but the majority is dog friendly. Although there were loads of dogs running free I did not let Ben off his lead.  There was a lot of open water and many of the paths had run off water flowing across them ( lots of mud). We had to make a detour as one path was under about 6" water for a 20 yard stretch and the surrounding ground was completely water logged. There were several little weirs and I got close to this one.

A few steps and there was a plethora of bird life to watch, there are swans in the background who stayed well away from the hoi polloi. Too far for a worthwhile photo with my little camera.
After well over an hour we left the park and went back to the high street to visit the Sausage Shop, they make an amazing array of sausages from Plum and Ginger to Toulouse Garlic with 5 varieties of Lamb, in Lamb casings, and 9 Chicken types. There are also gluten free, beef, kangeroo and vegetarian. I bought 2 each of 4 varieties and will tell you about them later.

We had yet more tea and I left at 4.00, it was a good decision as the traffic was very light. I was home, indoors drinking tea before 7.00.
Leftovers for a quick dinner, a wedge of chicken and Leek pie with half a tin of baked beans that were left from Fran's lunch on Friday.

I had a knock on the door this morning, the Postie left this with a neighbour yesterday.

It was absolutely stuffed to the gills, and I will share it tomorrow, at the moment I want to lust over it in private. mmmmmmmmmmmm.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. An easy and rewarding trip to London.

2. A drool worthy parcel from the US.

3. Ben tired and cuddly after his busy day yesterday.

4. Seeing Michael dry and looking better for it.

5. James asking me to make a cake for his wedding to Cerys.

The date has not been set for the wedding yet, hopefully later this year. I have offered to share the cost and the work of the catering with Cerys,s Mum. It is as good a reason for a long trip to Wales as I could want.
That will be another quilt then, do I feel up to making a Double Wedding Ring?

Now I have a thank you to write and send off for my lovely parcel.
Stay dry and well.          TTFN                             Pam

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

A good day in Tydd, a sad one tomorrow.

Today has been a gloriously sunny day, no wind and real warmth from the sun. I did manage 3 walks with Ben and Greg joined us for 2 of them. The rest of the time I have been sorting out fabric, getting Francesca's room ready for her and cooking for tomorrow.
We are having chicken pie with carrots and swede mash and cauliflower, followed by Apple Crumble and custard, and I have managed to cook up 4 litres of chicken stock for the freezer.
 I am making and taking a selection of sausage rolls and mini quiches and will make some sandwiches when we arrive, the cakes were made earlier. Jeannie has both her son's with her and I offered to make the food so it is one less thing to worry her.

Last nights dinner was very quick and easy, I toasted some English Muffin Bread, the recipe came from The Iowa Housewife blog, and had baked beans, grated cheese and scrambled eggs. Yummy, the bread was very good toasted, so good that I made 2 more loaves today.

I emptied cupboards and rearranged lots of things to gain some smallish plastic storage boxes for my quilting projects. I like to cut all my fabric before I start to make blocks, this meand hundreds of different sized and coloured pieces floating around and piled on every flat surface. Not any more, I now have a dozen boxes so as I cut each colour it can go into a designated box, some of them have dividers so either 2 colours or 2 sizes can be stored together.

I have my little Indian Singer back from the work shop. She has had a full service and just needed 2 little parts that had been damaged in transit at some point. In the interest of smooth operations I have also bought new treadle belt, I ordered it yesterday lunch time and it was here this morning, how good is that.
 I can not see myself touching her until next week, Fran is here till Saturday and I am going to London with her for the day. Sunday I will put the cottage back to rights so Monday is probably the day.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. The garden is starting to dry out, soon, soon.

2. My spring bulbs are pushing through the ground at an alarming rate. Fingers crossed for no really hard frosts.

3. The village shop is having lots of works done and should reopen soon.

4. A very kind person has given me a DVD of the events of  Feb 3rd 1959. I have been a fan of Buddy Holly, and The Big Bopper for as long as I can remember.

5. My fabric scrap chaos has been tamed. Still a bit of a mountain but under full control.

There are some delicious smells wafting through from the kitchen, time for an oven check. 

                         TTFN                                           Pam