Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Still in The Dark

 I am still without my lap top, it is in for a full MOT and service. The library has had problems and now has one computer that works.

I feel as though my legs are missing, no reading blog or emails. No browsing through looking for ideas, never mind on a good note the house is gleaming. The washing and ironing baskets are empty and I have been crafting away.

The small ripple is now a cushion cover, the Seashore Ripple blanket is halfway there and i have started a new hat.

I am looking forward to a day of catching up on blog reading and speed deleting my way through emails.

I went to a meeting of the local knitting and crochet group last night and had a good time. It was only 1 1/2 hours but I managed a few rows of ripple and quite a lot of chat, not to mention tea and some scrummy biscuits. BTW I only had one, just to be sociable.

I am off out tomprrow morning to a garden center, I have no idea where and I do not mind, I am looking forward to a few hours out and about without having to drive.

The high winds that were forecast for last night missed us, thankfully, and i was quite surprised this morning to find no damage or debris strewn around.

I have 30 minutes left so I am off to get a few blogs read.

   TTFN                                                                               Pam

Monday, 13 October 2014

Yesterday, All my troubles were so far away.

We enjoyed glorious sunshine yesterday, washing done and line dried, ironed, aired and put away. Lovely. A spot of gardening, some ambling around with Ben, it was far too nice to hurry, a few jobs done around the house and a cheap, tasty dinner.

This was taken early afternoon, the sky was even bluer than on the photo. Then within a couple of hours this happened.

We did not get rain but the temperature dropped alarmingly and by 6.00 it was dark and the heating was on for a couple of hours.

Dinner was less than £1.50 for two, I had a cheaty moment and bought some chicken kiev from Lidl, half price offer and did a tray of roasted veg to go with them. I chopped up a carrot, a parsnip, a large sweet potato, half a smallish squash and 2 red onions, I also added a head of garlic separated into cloves but not peeled. I tossed these around in a splash of oil, some balsamic vinegar and a good pinch or salt and pepper. The garlic head was huge and would have pushed up the cost but was free. I went out one day last week to a "do" (also free) and bought a raffle ticket, I won a food hamper, fresh and tinned which will all be used.
I did take photos and loaded them onto the lap top which promptly hid them from me. Take my word that it was colourful and delicious. The Kievs were very tender but not so garlicky as I would have liked, I did expect this though and that was why I put so much into the veg mix. It was very filling and some veg was left over, it will become the base for soup with some stock and a few of my cherry toms and a tin of cheapo baked beans with the sauce washed off.

My new to me front door curtain is in place and looks good, I will repeat some of the photos that are awol and post later, It cost me £4.50 and is good Sanderson fabric, fully lined and still had the hooks in place.

My new crafty idea is about to commence so again I will take some repeat photos.

The rain that was forecast is here, but I care not. I have lots of things to do and only need to go out to walk Ben and we both have raincoats. I just wish he had wellies as well.

I had a very good enjoyable and productive day topped of with a delicious meal that cost very little ans cooked itself. Today I am going to cook some Lamb Chump Chops in the slow cooker, just as Frugal Queen and Karen of Chelmarsh Chunterings do. I bought a pack of 11 for just over £4 from Lidl, 3 of them will become Scotch Broth at some point, I normally use scrag end or breast for this but the celebrity chefs have promoted those cuts and pushed the price up, just as they did with Oxtail and pigs trotters.
 I do like winter food, a dish of something steaming hot with little dumplings swimming in a lake of rich gravy, heaven.
 Soup made with all the odds and ends of veg from the fridge bottom served with toast or a handful of rice or pasta added during the cooking time.
Chicken noodle soup, a stew more than a soup, made with chicken bones saved from roast dinners and hoarded like gold in the freezer.

All of these make my heart sing and put little strain on my purse.

That,s it, I am now in dire need of breakfast, oats cooked the Scottish way with water and a pinch of salt is my favourite, but as I need the calcium I will use skimmed milk.

TTFN                                                           Pam

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Winter drawers on

Wet wet wet, not the group, just Wales. In the interests of "being prepared" I put the heating on to check that all was in order, Oops it was not. The boiler lost pressure 3 times in as many hours so I called in the A Team, well the heating engineer. He sorted that out and I turned the heating off as the house was now slowly cooking me. Had homemade soup and cheesy garlic bread for dinner, yummy.  Did some hooky before tootling off to bed around 10.00, when I came down this morning I spotted a damp patch on the hall carpet. Ben got a sideways look and I got some kitchen roll to mop it up, HA, it was not damp it was soaking. Close inspection showed that the radiator was leaking, nothing that a spanner could not deal with, the helper with the heating chap had bled all the radiators yesterday but obviously did not spot this. Oh Dear, Never Mind. Sorted (fingers crossed)
 Dinner tonight is cottage pie topped with cauliflower cheese instead of mash, served with cabbage and carrots. I love cauli cheese as a topping, it goes well on fish pie. I have served it griddled on burgers and that is amazing, so is macaroni cheese come to that. I know that it is calorific but you do not have to eat it by the pound and not every day. Sometimes I just cook the cauli in milk and mash it with a little grated cheese, it makes a nice change from potatoes. I should say now that my greengrocer has some enormous cauliflowers for 39p.

I have had a request for some dog coats so will be playing with fabric later, they are for Archie and Dolly, I will post pics once they are done. I have not sewed anything much this week, I have been hooking away.

I am almost 1/3 rd of the way on my coastal ripple now, as you can see Ben is trying to stake this out as his own.

My ripple scarf (?) is progressing nicely, I hook a row or two before settling down for the night and another couple while drinking my first cuppa of the day. The question hanging over this is will it become a scarf or will it morph into a cushion cover. The jury is out, I will think on it for a while, I have another 20 or so bands of colour before the decision has to be made.

In the last few days the leaves have started to turn yellow and as the sun gets progressively lower in the sky it turns them to gold. It is so dark at the moment that it feels like 7.00 at night, I have my lights on to see to walk round the house.

So much for stoptober, as my blanket is growing so fast I have bought some more yarn from Wool Warehouse, it is the large pack from Attic24 shop and I had a couple of extra balls as well. This is for a double blanket for a friend. 
The Stylecraft Special DK yarn is 100% acrylic and is 100% user friendly. It does not split all the time, it does not shed fibres, it is consistently soft to use unlike more expensive yarns that I have used. ( this is my personal view and is unsolicited).

I have not spent much though, my usual Thursday shop at Lidl was under £10 and I am using things from cupboard and freezer. I look forward to stocking up with the ingredients for stews and faggots, soups and bean feasts, simple warming foods from the slow cooker, yum.
I tried jacket potatoes in my slow cooker last winter and will be repeating this frequently. A jacket potato with leftovers becomes a feast with a sprinkle of grated cheese and some homemade ketchup or chutney.
Reasons to be grateful.

1.  The rain, lots of crafting time.

2.  Radio 2, in the background.

3.  My friends, a cuppa awaits me almost every day after Ben's 2.00 walk.

4.  Ben, a constant at my side.

5.  The bloggers who I read, and those who comment.

I went through my blog list and found several that had not had posts for many months, and also found some new ones to follow just by clicking on comments that interested me. A quick shuffle round and hey presto an updated blog list.

I have played catch up reading through the posts that I missed while the lap top played up, I see that Ilona has stirred up a few peeps. She states quite clearly that all she writes is what is pertinent to her lifestyle, I understand that. Some of her ideas would not work for me but a great many of them do.
Frugal Queen is sharing crock pot dinners with us, very nice and tasty. Karen from Chelmarsh Chuntering is still tempting me with her recipes, and I am still giving in.

I have totally missed Bake Off, I know that I am in the minority but after the first series I could not get into it.
I did catch part of a cooking program with Prue Leith as one of the judges, the contestants were cooking "war time" themed meals. I thought that the food was unrecognisable as war time food and that the panel were a pretentious group. I have no idea what it was called, I hope never to find it again.

I have picked some tasty ideas from many of the bloggers that I follow and some from their followers, who needs celebrity chefs and their high faluting ideas.

Right, it is still dark and raining, this calls for tea and maybe some lunch.

              TTFN                                                   Pam

BTW I have not forgotten to share my new crafting idea, I have not started it yet, still waiting for 1 thing.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Where has the time gone?

It seems ages since I posted, fist of all my laptop decided that I did not need any of my shortcuts and hid them from me. Then it would not let me comment once I got onto my blog, I dare not risk trying to write a post in case it hid itself away altogether.

Any way, I have been doing a little house work, even littler gardening, and quite a lot of chatting, oh and lots of rippling has happened.

I went through 5 scrap fabric boxes, disposed of stuff that I would never use, and still did not find the organza that I was hoping to find.

I did my normal Thursday Lidl shop and spent less than £10. I then went to Tesco as I  needed light bulbs and they had a 3 for 2 offer on.

The weather has been so variable, hot hot sunny spells, chill winds and rain, lots and lots of rain. Today we had all three at once, the sun was shining through the kitchen door and window, making the room so hot that I had to open the door, at the same time the wind was shaking leaves off the trees and the rain hammered down, it was so hard that I would not consider looking for a rainbow.

I took my small ripple out for a bit of chatter time yesterday, I want to look for a knit and natter group I think I will ask at the wool shop in Pontardawe, if there is one locally they should know.

No fresh pictures, the light has been appalling and the flash leaches all colour out.

By watching the weather Ben and I have only been caught once and we took shelter under some scaffolding, there was some tarpaulin hanging over in one place that gave us good shelter.

I missed the chance to see the film Pride in Pontardawe, I will see if it comes to Brynamman.

That,s all there is for now, fingers crossed that I can post this.

                          TTFN                                            Pam

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Cheaper than Chips.

After my bargain trip to the pictures I decided to take myself off to the boot sale at Carmarthen Show Ground, Oops. Big mistake, I can honestly say that I have never seen so much rubbish in one place before. I was hoping to find some plants but nothing but plastic flowers, moth-eaten clothes and piles of sorry looking toys, games and books. The stalls were so tatty looking that I would not touch the books. There was a burger stall that smelled of burnt stale grease and a doughnut stall that would not have tempted me at any price.
That may sound harsh but it is true, I have been to better jumble sales, far better.
To try and gain something from the day I went to B&Q and hit a small jackpot.

Two sorry looking chrysanthemums, potted on they will make good plants next year.

Three primroses, again a bit scraggy but all have lots of new healthy growth in the middle.

A pink vinca, once in the ground this will go doolally, in as little as 3 years it will cover a large area. Just what I need at the very top of the garden, it only needs dappled light as it is a woodland plant.

I wanted to get 1 of these from Lidl this week but there were none at my 2 local branches, I am so pleased at that, these cost me £5 for the 3 and they have a good root system, once potted on they will romp away.

I picked these up to fill an empty bit of ground behind the greenhouse, they will not be in the ground too long as I will start to use them green once they are a reasonable size.

I spent a total of £8.50 and saved £11.08, I am happy with that. 

I was looking for some fairly large water butts and walked my feet off looking to no avail. There is a place on the way to Ponty that has blue bins for £8, I have already earmarked at least 2 of these to be cut in half for large planters, I may have some for water as well.

After all that walking I could not get home quickly enough, Michael unloaded the car while I got the kettle on and made us a fast lunch. 
4 slices of wholemeal bread from Lidl.  15p
1/3 pack of minced beef from Lidl, salt and pepper.  60p
A sprinkle of grated cheese from Lidl.  20p

2 thin burger style sandwiches, yum.

A huge, filling lunch for 2 at 95p, less than the smallest bag of chips from anywhere round here.

Once satiated we headed off to B&Q in Neath, took Ben for a long walk along the canal and then picked up the bark that I want for the garden, 8 bags for £40, a saving of £24. Nice.
I saved a total of £35. 08 today and bought nothing that I did not have on my garden list. It was interesting to see that the reduced plant section at Neath branch of B&Q was considerably more expensive than Carmarthen, who incidentally did not have the bark in stock.

Reasons to be grateful.

1.  A big saving made today.

2.  Most of my gardens needs are now met.

3.  Ben is sleeping happily after his walk along the canal.

4.  Michael is spreading bark.

5.  We stopped off at Many Tears on the way back and dropped of a stack of dog beds.

That is my supply of pillowcases used up. I need to plan a trip round the charity shops quite soon.
I nearly forgot that I did slip into Dunelm and stocked up on ball point needles for my sewing machines and a new fabric marker pen. While walking through I saw some big fleece blankets and snapped up 2, they were a very good price and I will use them to back 2 of the quilt tops that I have pieced, at £14.99 they work out cheaper than wadding and fabric and give a warm snugly quilt with a lovely drape. There should also be enough off cuts to make a few little dog beds.
 I hope that the new needles will help with the quilting, if not I have resigned myself to some hours of hand quilting.

I am of to make a start on dinner now, Pork Shanks in gravy with a tray of roasted vegetables. That will be more than enough after my lunch, I had planned a pudding but will not have room. Perhaps tomorrow will be soup and pudding, I haven't done that for ages.

Today started of grey,cold and damp but soon changed to bright sun and is still very bright although the wind has an edge to it.

                         TTFN                                              Pam 

Saturday, 4 October 2014

David Tennant is no Mr Darcy

I managed to get to Bynamman cinema to see "What we did on our holiday" and at one point David Tennant gets wet, he does not compare to Colin Firth. The film is great fun, I started off by wanting to give them all a good slap and ended up wanting to laugh with them. Billy was his normal ebullient self and there are a couple of throw away lines that are directly related to his real life.
If you fancy a look go along, it is not the best film of that genre that I have seen but is well worth watching. 
The cinema was funded by miners early last century and is lovely, a vast improvement on The Majestic in Lynn.

The weather was topsy turvy, the rain that should have lashed down all day came in the small hours and was all gone by 8, washing on the line in bright sun shine and a fairly chilly breeze by 10 and dried, ironed and aired before dinner.

We did have popcorn, toffee coated, from Lidl and just as good as Butterkist at less than half the price at 79p, we only ate half, the bag was stuffed full.

Parking was free and the journey was a 5 mile round trip, the tickets were £4 each so an evening out for less than £10 including petrol.  We talked about having chips but really did not want them. 

Ben was at home with a new bone and although pleased to see us back went straight back to his bone.

I had another disturbed night so had a lazy day, a load of washing dealt with and dinner. A little crochet, some reading and playing with Ben. I hope to have more energy tomorrow as I want to go to Carmarthen boot sale and pop into B&Q.

No pictures, I have no new ones today. All I have energy for now is tea and bed once Ben has had a quick walk.

                       TTFN                                            Pam

Friday, 3 October 2014

Rippled Away by a Little Tin Bird.

It is naughty of me to blame her but I was tempted and succumbed.
I follow Heather at Little Tin Bird via Bloglovin and yesterdays  post was about her baby seaside ripple blanket, btw it is dreamy. She also showed a diagram with a photo of a method of starting a ripple with a straight edge, just think no tedious filling in at the end. The invitation was there to try it and I did, I found 3 new balls of yarn in the bottom of my box of odds and ends. Now who hid them in there I wonder? Made a 56 chain and did a row of treble crochet, then just copied the diagram, Woo Hoo, it worked. Then decided to add in some random stripes to use up the ends of a few balls of yarn. This is serendipitous  as I was asked yesterday if I would take my crochet with me next time I go visiting and my blanket is just too big to carry around.

This will be a scarf for me, not that I have a shortage but once started I could not bear to frog it out.

To make matters worse, Bunny Mummy has posted more about Yarndale and showed a picture of Lucy's new Ripple, I Want One.
There will be a pack for sale soon..... it is on my wish list.
I am determined that if I am well I will be there next year. 

A bit more on the sewing front.

I used some of my treasured fabric as a border, I have to get some Black silk to embroider the eyes, nose and whiskers, then decide on what fabric to use for the backs. I rather fancy a fleecy feel but have struggled with quilting it in the past so maybe a flannel would be better, I have some in the stash, somewhere.

I read Ilona,s post about the TV series Cilla, I had a look round and found it on one of the catch up channels. I sat and watched the whole lot while I Rippled away with Lucy. Sheridan made a very good Cilla, I was not that big a fan of hers but enjoyed the trip down memory lane.

That is the sum of my telly viewing until I find something else that catches my attention. I am waiting for the new series of Bones which will probably be next year, in the meantime I will read.

Reasons to be grateful.

1.  More glorious sunshine.

2.  A coffee date with Maggie.

3.  Michael cooked a delicious meal yesterday.

4.  Ben was much livelier yesterday.

5.  The film" What we did on our holiday" is being screened in our local cinema, and I am going tonight.

I will have to buy popcorn, I can not go to the pictures without popcorn, I am sure that it is the law.

Now I have to go in search of black embroidery thread.

     TTFN                                                          Pam.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Stitching through the rain.

Well, the weather girl got that wrong, bright sun, temperatures in the 20's. Hmm, she must have been talking about Vegas. I sat down to do a little sewing once Ben had been out for a little walk and had his breakfast. There were 3 pillowcase beds ready to sew, done.

I will be in Ammanford this afternoon and must scoot round the Charity Shops and search out some more, so easy and quick to make.
When I went to visit Maggie on Tuesday she gave me this skirt for my scrappy patchwork.

I love the vibrant colour and the embroidery print but not for patchwork.

I have a new idea up my sleeve and this will fit right in, I hope, all will be revealed in due course. I have bought some materials on line and should hope to have them by the weekend.

I was blog hopping yesterday morning and found a pattern for a Cat and Kitten, along the style of the doggy cushions, for sale!!! Who would need to have a pattern to make something as simple as these.

I just drew a little sketch and laid out my squares ready to chain together.

Mum, on a blue background. I will add another band and then a border and a quilt will be born.

Kitten, so cute, she has not had the background strips added yet, I have to cut more of the blue and the light is going and I am off to the library. On both of these the buttons and whiskers are just positioned to show the idea, I will be embroidering the features, I do not want buttons and thread ending up in any tummy. I will turn them into little quilts suitable for either a small child or a pet. These will be going to Many Tears along with the beds, they do have cats there, and will be on the craft stall.

I really want to make both of these and the Scotty Dog with 5" charm squares I think they will be an ideal way to work through my scrap boxes. I have pulled 3 of the  boxes from the top of my bookcases and must go through them this week. It is not in the interest of sorting them out, there is a large piece of organza that I want to give to Maggie somewhere in the stash. All I have to do is find it, ALL, who am I kidding, It will be like mounting a serious attempt to climb the Matterhorn.

I popped out for an hour yesterday afternoon, Ben had a little walk and I took him to have a play with some of his pals. There were 5 of us and 4 dogs, the sun rolled out for us and we managed to sit in the garden. Ben was very funny, he managed to sit on everyone's lap and get a cwtch, but as soon as one of the other dogs came to me he was there in a flash letting them know that I was HIS person and not for sharing. This is the first time that he has done this. I let it go for one time as he is normally not bothered at all, if it happens again he will be gently put in his place.

Reasons to be grateful.

1.  Good times with friends.

2.  Lots of crafting going on.

3.  My pile of sewing donations is growing fast.

4.  The first chill of Autumn is still being held at bay by the sun.

5.  I have enough green tomatoes to make a batch of chutney.

During the past week or so I have been looking back across the years. I was the eldest of 5, and from the moment that my first sibling was born I became a mini carer. a sister, 2 brothers and a final sister spread out over 12 years and my caring skills and instincts were firmly in place.
I married, had a baby with health issues, bronchial issues and some periods in hospital with severe croup. Later he was diagnosed with Renal problems and went on to have 3 Renal transplants. Along the way my siblings spent their school holidays with me as my Mother worked. And so it rolled on, I feel that I have spent the biggest part of my 63 years looking after others. 
Do not misunderstand me, this is not a general "poor me" moaning session, apart from the health scares I loved it all, a house full of my family, a large garden and a dog all in glorious countryside. I baked and sewed, knitted and played to my hearts content. As the children grew and did not need minding I started work and met a new way of life. Still tearing around, filling every minute of the day with activity.
Now that I am looking forward to the last third of my life I feel that it is time to change my perspective. I now feel that this is my time, time to pick and choose what I want to do and when I want to do it.
For instance I have said " No, sorry but I can not help you at the moment" to a couple of people lately, this is because I am helping Many Tears. My choice, to please myself.
I am planning on at least a week with Jeannie before the winter sets in and will be enjoying some quality time with her.
I have made friends with one of the volunteers in the local library and we are planning to spend a little time together. In order to do these things I will be curtailing the time that I spend elsewhere.

Oops, I have started to waffle and ramble. It must be due to my very early morning start, the past few days I have been waking at Stupid O'clock and once I am awake I am up. If I do snuggle down and fall into a sleep I suffer all day for it.

Have a good day, the sun is doing it,s very best here.

    TTFN                                                       Pam

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Looking back at September

This is a double first for me, I do not usually look back at much but I have been reading one or two blogs that do a "Slow Living Monthly Nine" and like the idea. So a copy cat post ;-)

1. Nourish.
Well I have certainly nourished my body and my soul. I have simplified my cooking in lots of ways, cut down on ingredients, reduced the amount of animal protein and increased pulses.
I have taken time to just enjoy the views and my surroundings.

2. Prepare.
I have excelled myself in this area, I built up such a stockpile of food that it has taken a low spend September to make a hardly noticeable dent in it. I have jammed and jellied to my hearts content and dried chillies and herbs.

3. Reduce.
My self imposed challenge to make 100 items from stash may not have been achieved, but I did make a great deal of things and many of them were from new materials for gifts.
I have recycled items of furniture and upcycled bedlinen and curtains into clothes and cushions, plus a pile of dog beds.

4. Green.
I recycle every bit of waste from my home, raw fruit and veg go to compost, cooked foods and meat waste go to the council compost scheme. Paper, card and plastic are also bagged for collection, tins and glass have their own bin and fabric is re purposed.

5. Grow.
I have had tomatoes and herbs from my garden and fresh flowers. I have planted trees, garlic and herbs with more to follow. I have harvested Apples, Beans and Courgettes from my garden and as gifts. I have picked countless black berries, hazel nuts and rose hips from the wild spaces.

6. Create.
Oh Boy have I created, cushions, aprons, bags, toys, skirts and on and on. Then there are the dog beds, an ongoing make. I have crocheted flowers and leaves and started a new Ripple Blanket.

7. Discover.
I have found new friends and a slower pace of life. I have just started to explore a new craft ( more on that at a later date) and read voraciously.
I have found footpaths and little lanes to stroll along with Ben.

8. Enhance.
I have made/found time to spend with my new friends, some of them leading quite solitary lives. This has enhanced my life and hopefully theirs.
I have given time and material support to Many Tears which will be ongoing.

9. Enjoy.
More than anything I have so enjoyed these first months in my new home. Yes there have been things that I have missed but other things have taken the empty places over. I have talked, laughed and cried. Learned a few Welsh words and phrases. Restyled a neglected garden (with muscle courtesy of Michael) and turned a house into a home. The enjoyment factor has been high, long may it be so.

The enjoyment factor is off the hook here, Ben was just out of shot and his pals were waitiung for him to catch up.

The last few days have been bumpy but it will pass, and the fun will prevail. 
Thanks to all the wonderful blogs that I read my spending has diminished and my skills have expanded and been honed. Lucy from attic24 and Bunny Mummy in particular are responsible for my new love affair with crochet. Jack Munroe has taught me how to eat astoundingly well on pennies, with support from Frugal Queen and a cast of dozens. I could carry on like this and write a full length book but you know who you are, as does anyone who reads my blog list. I just have to add that Karen is a naughty blogger who shows pictures of her glorious baking sending me into the kitchen on a regular basis, Alice Cake anybody? then there is the embroidery, drool drool.
Enough already, I have not even had breakfast yet. The flesh is not that strong.
Tea and more tea then a walk with Ben before I sew the last 3 beds for Many Tears, I have also pulled 3 of my scrap boxes down to cherry pick through, I hope to make a few more things to put on the craft stall at the open day.

   Enjoy your day.

       TTFN                                                          Pam