Thursday, 31 July 2014

A sneaky look :o)

Hello. I thought I would take a day off yesterday, to give you chance to catch up, ha ha. No, that's an excuse. I am busy with the picture, and when I have my creative head on I have to stick with it. I need time to unscramble the ideas I have, to look at the picture as it is emerging, to rearrange the pieces I have decided to put on it, and try new ideas as they come into my head. Then step back and wait. Walk away from it. Go back to it. Study it, what colours does it need? What is missing? Is it too cluttered? Lots to think about.
A couple of pictures? Oh go on then. I have cut this shape from a piece of upholstery fabric, now I am embellishing it. I sealed the edges by applying PVA glue with a paintbrush, this stops it from fraying. 
This piece is still not finished, more to add to it. The darker beads are aquamarine colour, not come out very well in the photo. 
Oooops, sorry, you didn't want to see them, did you. Never mind, just pretend you didn't look. Please excuse me while I get on. Stomach is rumbling, need to eat, then back to the stitching. Will take a day off from this tomorrow, other things to do. So for now, Toodle pip.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Drinka pinta milka day

I was reading an article this morning about how large numbers of people are switching from cows milk to non dairy milk alternatives. Apparently one in five households choose to buy plant based products such as soya, rice, oat, almond, or coconut milk, as a lifestyle choice or for medical reasons. Here is the full article.
I buy soya milk for my cereals, I quite like the taste of it. I mentioned that Tesco have put theirs up from 59p to 75p and now I don't buy it, but Aldi has something similar, for 59p so that will do. 
I quite like the idea of  almond milk but it is so expensive, so what about a cheaper alternative. I goooglied how to make milk from oats, and had a go at making some. It is so simple.
I soaked eight dessertspoons of oats in a jug of water for seven hours. You don't need to leave it that long, three or four hours will do, or you can soak it overnight. It will separate but that doesn't matter.   
Then I transferred it to the blender jug, and zapped it for a couple of minutes. I did a taste test, not too bad, tasted of cold porridge as you would expect. I had six strawberries left so I added those and zapped again. Hmmm, yes, acceptable, would have been better with more strawberries. I then added a teaspoon of honey and zapped again. It can be strained through a muslin cloth, but I didn't bother, the blender has broken it all up.

Yes, much better, like a smoothie. I've put it in the fridge and will pour it on my bran flakes in the morning. I think I could get a taste for this. Porridge oats are 75p for a big 1kg bag, so lots of 'milk' could be made with that, at a very cheap price. And it's got to be good for you, with no additives. The only concerns I have is that a carton of soya milk has added calcium, and vitamins B2, D, and B12, so I would have to look elsewhere for those.

I think there could be scope here for lots of different flavours, maybe Jane will come along and suggest what else could be added to make it tasty. Or if anyone else has some ideas. They've got to be affordable though. No point in bumping up the cost when the idea is to make a healthy alternative at a cheaper price.

And what did I have for my dinner tonight? Here it is, before steaming. From the garden, potatoes, courgettes, runner beans, broad beans, and a couple of carrots from a bag of Value. 
On the top I grated some cheese. I bought this one from the Cash and Carry. Good price I thought for £1, and it isn't out of date till the end of next month. It is ever so tasty. That's all you need for a meal.

I've been sewing most of the day, the picture is coming along nicely. Sorry I can't show you another progress photo, someone said I am such a tease. Maybe it's not fair of me to drag it out over a long period of time, posting little snippets, maybe it's better I wait until it's finished and post the whole thing. It's looking really good though, ha ha.

I see a new follower has snuck in, welcome to Tightwad Towers, or the Mad House if you like. I hope you enjoy yourself here.
That's all for now. Toodle pip.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Five year review.

I have just discovered that I am rich. I have a few bob in a current account which is my emergency fund, this will come in useful should I need to pay out for something that breaks or wears out, or I want to go on holiday. I don't have to worry, because I am not dead skint, I have got some money. YAY :o)

I've been going back over my bank statements to see how I have been doing financially since I retired five years ago. In fact my statements go back further than that to 2001. It certainly makes interesting reading, especially around the time of November 2005 when I was getting fed up with driving, cutting my hours, and running a small business trying to make up the shortfall. I was riding by the seat of my pants then, down to my last £300 in the account, and no savings to fall back on. I still don't have any savings, because I don't need any. I can't see the point in having money lying around in accounts doing nothing except earning a piddling bit of interest. I can do without all that bother. The less I have the better as far as I'm concerned.

I'm not saying I want to live on fresh air with no money at all. If the government went bankrupt and my pension suddenly stopped, I would go back to work, But as long as they are paying me enough to cover my living expenses and a few treats, I am happy. I read a lot about poor pensioners who can't manage, but to be honest, I have a pretty good life on my pension. In fact, as my header says, it's a brilliant life.

I made the decision a few years ago to cut my working hours, which cut my pay. I decided I would learn to manage on less. When the going got tough, I simply stopped spending, that was it, full stop. Can't afford it, need money to pay mortgage, council tax, utilities, food, car, one cat, none left for other stuff.

I scrutinized my bank statements, got the calculator out, worked out a plan. The plan was not to buy anything I didn't need. In 2007 I did spend some money, I needed a new kitchen because the one I inherited when I moved here was disgusting. I had put up with it for years because every penny I had went into buying the house, there was none left for anything else. So for £514 I bought a new kitchen from Homebase. I ripped out the old kitchen, put the cupboards together for the new one, and paid a plumber to fit the sink, cut the worktops to size and screw the cupboards to the wall. I wanted some electrical work doing, new sockets, but the electrician said I needed a whole house rewire. So I didn't have the sockets, and I manage with the two double sockets already there.

Once I had got back on my feet again, after years of cutting back, cutting down, and being super frugal, things started to get easier. By then I had living within my means down to an art form. Nothing more has been spent on the house, it is still standing, and I have the same decor that the previous owners left me, except I put a lick of paint on the living room walls.

I saved enough to be able to change my car, adding some cash to the pay off I got from the insurance company when the last one was written off. I was able to save up a bit extra from my pension and get rid of the mortgage.

In 2009 my total annual pension was £7,925.84, now it is £9,590.23. Yes the cost of living has gone up, everything has gone up, but I am still managing. My quarterly utilities bills have hardly changed at all, their prices go up, I use less, I will beat them. I have no mortgage to pay now. I don't pay as much council tax as I did when I was working. I negotiated a better deal on my house insurance. I cut Bugsy's insurance. A little tweak here and a little tweak there, and I don't have to worry about money any more, as I have enough.

So, I'm feeling pretty flush at the moment, but that isn't a cue to do anything rash, like going out and buying something I don't need. I don't have to scrimp every penny, but I probably will, ha ha. It's in my nature to be cautious with my money. There's no way on earth I could go out and flash the cash.

There is another reason to keep on with the money saving, and it's far more important than me living within my means. The worlds population is growing at an alarming rate, and if things keep going as they are there is going to be a massive wakeup call. There will be no gas, no electricity, no water, it will all be gone, used up, nothing left. Me using the bath water to flush the toilet, and buying second hand clothes, is unlikely to save the planet, but it makes me feel better knowing I am doing a bit to help.

Anyway, as long as that pension keeps appearing in my bank account I will be OK. I'm sure of that.

My stomach is telling me it's time for dinner, so I'll say toodle pip.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Will it work?

I woke up this morning with an idea buzzing around in my head, as I often do. I need to capture ideas as and when they happen, try them out. Before I made a coffee, and before I fed the cats, I laid a few beads out on the picture, will it work? 
I am quite liking this project, it's easier than painting because I can try ideas out first before I fix anything permanently. If you splodge the wrong colour paint on a picture, or put it in the wrong place, you have to redo stuff, and cover up the mistakes with more paint. Piecing things together bit by bit you can move things around and try several options. Working with fabric is a lot easier. So yes, I think the beads will work well here, all I have to do is sew them on.  
I've found some small white butterflies in my bit box, they were joined together in a strip and I have separated them. They will work well here among the green flowers.

I'm having an easy day today, gave keys back to the owners of the gardens I have been watering. Stopped for a natter and a coffee at one of them. Replied to a couple of comments here, will reply to emails later. Just eaten a bowl of strawberries and vanilla yogurt, lipsmackin good. Now I'm off out for a dog walk, Lady dog will be wanting a piddle. Come back, bit of sewing, lounge in the bath later. Love Sundays. Enjoy yours.
Toodle pip.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

A very nice village

It was such a lovely day today, I went a walk. I found a lovely little village. As I was passing the church a wedding had just taken place and the bride and groom were having their photo taken. The church bells were ringing to mark the happy occasion. 
Next to the church is a pretty little cottage, almost being swamped by the masses of lavender in the tiny front garden.

Round the back of the church are more cottages, each one has it's own parking space. I think these buildings used to be barns, a long time ago.

The old vicarage looks splendid, a beautiful period house.

In the High Street is a quaint B & B, someone is looking after the gardens at the front of the house.

Further up the High Street, another cottage.This one is at right angles to the road, and so has it's own drive in parking space.
This looks like a row of cottages, but is in fact one big house.

A detached cottage stands on it's own on a corner plot.

This is the road into the village. It's tree lined with wide grass verges and lots of big detached houses.

Long sweeping driveway to this house. One gate for going in, and one for coming out.
I really like this one, it's called The White House, had to be didn't it.

The churchyard looks neat and tidy.

This is the front gate of the church, leading out onto the road.
There are steps up to the front door of the pub.

The fragrance as you walk under this tree is divine. I could stand here for hours.
It's a shame the tiny flowers won't last forever.

Then I walked along a footpath behind the church.
It opens out to give wonderful views across the fields.
I didn't have to walk very far today to find this lovely village. It is my village, it's where I live. It's a place where I can walk about and chat, people are very friendly. The little black cat in the wedding picture is called Nicknack, it always comes to greet me when it sees me. The leaves growing on the detached cottage turn red in the autumn, a spectacular sight. The tree with the heavenly scent is at the end of my road, I can smell it in my garden. I know the lady who owns the B & B, and the lady who lives in the cottage next to the church. Round the back of the house that looks like a row of cottages is a public footpath. The people who live there have planted lots of raspberry bushes, and people can help themselves. I often pick a few to eat.

It's a smashing place to live, I am very lucky. Have you had a nice Saturday. Hope your Sunday is brilliant.
Toodle pip.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Visit to the 20 21 Arts Centre

I've had a lovely stress free leisurely day today, unlike the woman who rang me this morning, wanting to find a rescue that would take her bothers three cats because he was off on his travels. He is vacating his house in a week or so, and needs to find new homes for them pretty quick. Why do they leave it so late? I spoke to Sue about it as she looks after the cats we have in pens. She said this lady contacted her weeks ago, and was told to send us an email with their photo's so we could put them on our web page. Has she done it, has she heck. We get a lot of this, People think they can get their unwanted animals into a Rescue with just one pone call. Then they realise, after making many calls, that they are all full.  
Only last week I took a pone call from someone needing to rehome a cat, I said send ,me an email with a photo and description. I am still waiting. Wish people would get organised in time. Oh well, we try our best. 
Talking of cats, my two girls were late in last night, Naughty Heidi didn't come back till almost midnight, I was about to give up and go to bed and lock her out. The time now is 8.15pm and Heidi has just come in, Mayze is already in. I couldn't shut the back door quick enough YAY, they are both in, no waiting up tonight. 
I went to town today to get some bits and bobs, mainly cat food. I did a top up shop at Aldi while I was there. Bananas, strawberries, melon, cheese, yogurt, and quiche, and a carton of unsweetened soya milk. I got one last week to try, because Tesco has put theirs up from 59p to 75p. Anyway, the Aldi version is fine so I'll be getting that from now on. 
I hadn't been to the Arts Centre for ages so I thought I would go and browse the exhibitions. It's the Open Exhibition again, the one where anyone can enter. I didn't bother this time. A couple of artworks caught my eye, most of the entries are paint on canvas, but these mixed media are interesting. This one is called Fallen Angel. It's described as Mixed Media with mod-rock, wire, and paint, and the artist is Steven Jessop. 
It's really spooky, the torso and head are distorted, it doesn't have a face just a lot of screws. The lacy wings and dress have been painted a dark grey, and the roses have also been spray painted. It has been adorned with chains. It's wings are bent and it looks mummified. I think it looks very macabre, and I can't imagine what was going through the artists mind when he created it. I would like to ask him. 

This piece is a lot prettier. The Secret Garden, by Gabrielle Harris. It looks like she has taken two square pieces of fabric, a back and a front, stitched them together and put wire around the edge to mould it into a bowl shape. Then added simple embroidered and beaded tree shapes, with a pond in the middle. I like this piece. The colours are vibrant, and the embroidery detail is attractive. 

Remember I said my letter 'n' was playing up on the keyboard and driving me nuts. Well tonight it's the letter 'h'. I struggled on with it, thinking I would have to get a man to come and look at it, but no, I won't have to, I found what the problem was. A small black bead was rolling around between the letters, ha ha, silly me. Those pesky tiny beads get everywhere. All is fine and dandy now.

Welcome to Beverley in California who has just sent a comment to a post published in March last year. I get to read all the comments no matter how long ago the post was written. Beverley is working her way through the whole blog, she will catch us up soon I think.

Talking of comments, did you notice what I did recently. The post on Tuesday, In answer to an email, had a couple of spam comments, sent anonymously as most of them are. They were very complementary about the blog, I thought it's a shame to dump them, so I doctored them to remove the link, and re posted them, ha ha. So one in the eye for the spammers, turn a negative into a positive, and get yourself some extra comments.
That's all for now. Have a nice weekend. Toodle pip.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Bit by bit.

A lazy day today, too hot to go out, just a few bursts of tidying in the garden, then inside to cool off. A bit more done on the picture. Here is another snippet.  
I am outlining the flower with silver metallic cord bought from Woolworths closing down sale for 50p, using silver metallic thread to stitch it on. It's coming together bit by bit as more ideas spring to mind.

Sorry this is a short post, but now the back garden is in the shade I'm going to get the mower out. Then there's my watering up to do, and the two houses. I think we are going to have to do as the Spanish do in the afternoons, take a siesta and work later at night.
Tatty byes for now.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Don't bug me

Phew, it's been a scorcher today, I've been in and out like a fiddlers elbow. Tried to do some hedge cutting, but after 20 minutes had to come in or I would have been burnt to a frazzle. Good day for drying washing though, bed stripped, 30 minute wash, ten minutes on the line and back on the bed within the hour. 
Thank you for the fantastic response to yesterdays post, there was a lot of good advice on there. As usual you came up trumps and added a bit more flesh to my post. I'm sure the reader who sent the email now has all the information she needs to plan a fantastic veggie diet for her family. 
I've been doing some more prepping for my picture, making some beady bugs and flowers. I found the instructions in a library book, Encyclopedia of Crafts, by Martha Stewart. It's an A to Z guide with details of how to make all kinds of things. Not a book I would buy, lots of crafts that I would maybe not want to try, but a useful addition for someone who collects crafting reference books. Here are my efforts so far.
The flowers I made with floristry wire which someone gave me.  

I needed some finer wire for the bugs, because it has to go through the centre of the small beads several times. For this I have fine wire which I recovered from an old video player I broke up. It's surprising what useful bits you can find inside. All you crafters out there, if you throw away anything electrical, take it apart and see if there is anything useful inside, before you dump it. This wire, although it is tightly wound, will pull out from the centre of the spool.

I need a few more bugs, something I can get on with while I watch catch up TV. By the way, did you know Dragon's Den is back, I like that programme, and they are filming another series of Mr Selfridge. Not sure when that will be broadcast, can't wait to see the luscious Mr Piven again :o)

I'm off now, plants to water now the sun is going down. Toodle pip.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

In answer to an email

Good morning. Another email question to answer. Thank you for asking, no need to reveal the identity of the sender, I know who you are.  

I have been following your blog for quite a long time and really enjoy it! Thank you!!! I'm a single mom in the US with 2 kids still at home. I am very frugal. I am trying to get more into a vegetarian lifestyle both for health and financial reasons, meat prices have gone CRAZY!!!!  I look at your meals and always feel inspired. My request to you is to run an article about moving to a vegetarian diet. How does one do that? I am used to simple meals at home- usually a meat, a veg and a side dish like corn or potato. When I remove the meat from the plate it just looks like something is lacking and we don't stay full long enough. Your food looks more like meals! Please help us readers, and I am sure MANY would be helped by leading them to a more vegetarian diet. Do you recommend any cook books for us beginners? I bought the Moosewood cook book (used of course!) for vegetarian cooking but it calls for a lot of spendy ingredients and most of the meals are very heavy with fat.
Any help is greatly appreciated.

First and foremost I am not an expert in nutrition, the food I eat suits me, it may not suit everyone. The information out there about what you should or shouldn't eat is mind boggling confusing.  I see you have children, I don't know their ages, but one thing you must do is to give them a varied diet, a growing body is different to, say my 65 year old body.

You want to incorporate more veggie meals but it looks like something is missing on the plate when you leave out meat. Your cooking has probably followed the same pattern for a long time, meat and two veg. You see, that's where people are stuck, in the past, it's what they have always done, it's what their parents did, and they have continued the cycle. You need to get off the bike.

Look at my plates of food, there are no gaps there, my plates are full to over flowing. Portion control by all means if you are going to eat high calorie food, but if you eat lots of veg as I do, you can stuff yourself. The key is to eat more of what goes through you quickly, and less of the heavy stodge, including meat. Last night I ate my usual plate of steamed veg, potato, broccoli, broad beans, carrots, courgettes, and spinach, there was no room on my plate for anything else. So, an option is to fill the gap with even more veg. Instead of two veg, make it four or five veg.

If you find a plate of veg too boring you can disguise it in some way, by mashing it up, turning it into veggie burgers by adding beans, chick peas, lentils, peas, grated carrot, any grated root vegetable. Bind it with an egg, and grill your burgers. You can fill pies and pasties with veg, maybe add some cheese, maybe some nuts.

You don't have to go all the way and ban meat from your diet altogether. If you want to eat some meat it's best if you can buy good quality but buy less of it, maybe have one or two meat meals a week. If I wanted to eat meat, (heaven forbid, I couldn't stomach it), I would buy a small piece of the best steak, and that's about it. Any other meat products you are better off buying the lean meat and making pies, sausages, and burgers yourself, so you know what's in them.

You mention that you don't feel full for very long if you only eat veg. As I said, eat more of it, or add something that is more filling, such as beans or rice. It's ok to snack between meals, I do when I feel hungry. I eat dairy so I might have cheese and crackers, a yogurt, a few walnuts, a banana, some grapes, a piece of wholemeal bread with cream cheese or peanut butter. You could make a pasta salad and keep it in the fridge for dipping into. Or a rice bowl with sweetcorn and peas. Make sure you use wholegrain where ever you can.

Another thing to think about, your stomach stretches to accommodate the amount of food you send down there. If you are feeling hungry you are tempted to put more fillers in. I don't know what your weight is like, but if you are skinny maybe a healthy snack or two, but if you need to lose weight ignore the hunger pangs for an hour to give your stomach chance to shrink a little. It's like stuffing a balloon.

I don't buy cookery books, as I make up my recipes, but I do have one out of the library at the moment which is interesting. India's Vegetarian Cooking, by Monisha Bharadwaj. Some of the food in there looks delicious. A quote from the author......'Much of my home cooking is vegetarian, because that was how I was brought up. All my favourite foods are from the vegetarian world. I also feel happier, healthier, and more energetic after a vegetarian meal'.

Looking at the ingredients listed for her recipes, there are indeed a lot of 'spendy' ingredients. I don't keep large amounts of herbs and spices, I can't afford them, so I use recipes for ideas, then adapt them to suit what I do have in my cupboard, using substitutions where necessary.

While I am on this subject, there was also a mention of protein in my diet, am I getting enough.. I've been looking around various web sites and have found a list of foods which supply the body with protein.
Beans. Lentils. Peas. Chickpeas. Whole grains. Quinoa. Wholegrain bread. Brown rice. Barley. Tofu and Soy products. Wholewheat pasta. Nuts. Seeds. Peanut butter. Eggs. Dairy. Cheese. Yogurt. Potatoes. Green leaf veg. Meat substitute. -  burgers, sausage, mince, soya chunks etc. I am getting nearly all these, except tofu, I don't like it. It is a general misconception that you need to eat meat for protein, you don't. You can get enough from lots of other foods if you eat a varied diet. People make assumptions about my diet from the pictures I post here. They need to live with me for a week or more, to see how varied my diet is.

Taken from the Vegetarian web site.
There are many protein rich foods for vegetarians, rivaling the protein content of meat products. Popular concern that vegetarians lack protein is misplaced and plant protein has the advantage of containing reduced saturated fat associated with meat protein.

Take from the No Meat Athlete web site.
Tell someone you’re vegetarian, and the first objection you’ll likely get is, “But where do you get your protein?” (Never mind what kind of shape the person asking is often in.) I personally have not let the protein issue affect me, choosing instead to cook and eat a wide variety of foods and trust that I’ll get enough protein and all of the essential amino acids, and I’ve never felt better. 

I hope that I have given food for thought here. Eating a no meat diet is not that difficult. Please try it, use your imagination, serve up a few meals and see how you go on. I'm going to sign off now, the letter 'n' is not working properly on the keyboard, and it's driving me nutty. Also, my breakfast porridge has gone down, I'm now going to eat a banana with yogurt, then I'm off outside 'cause it's a nice day.
Toodle pip.

Monday, 21 July 2014

That's all you need, really ;o)

Phew it's hot today, almost too hot to be outside. I sometimes put a chair out in the garden, and sit down for all of ten minutes, then I can't be still for any longer and have to get up and do something. I went to the crafty club this morning, not quite as many there, probably on holiday. The club is a year old now, it doesn't seem that long since we started. 
What have we here, tis the salad season and my plate is piled high. Yesterday I had spinach, salad leaves, grated carrot, cucumber, grated cheese, mushrooms, and walnut pieces. It takes me nearly an hour to eat this, as I munch my way slowly through it. I usually read something while I am eating, either a magazine or on the computer. Yesterday I was watching yoootooob vids, old Coronation Street, and 'how to', crafting ideas.  
There was a big bag of mushrooms in my shopping, 4p on a yellow sticker. My friend mentioned mushroom soup and I thought I'll give it a go. Never made mushroom soup before, don't know what goes in it apart from mushrooms. So, I chopped some and boiled them in water. What next. I added a veg stock cube, a shake of black pepper, and a shake of garlic powder. It looked a muddy brown colour. Then I thought, add a whole lot of spinach leaves, they filled the pan but soon shrunk in size. I transferred it to a mixing bowl and zapped it with the stick blender and tasted it, bloomin lovely, so I put half in a small bowl and drizzled the last drop of cream over it. Scrumptious. I had planned on saving the second portion to eat today, but I'm afraid it got to 8.30pm last night and I thought stuff it, I'm going to eat it now, ha ha. Give it a try, mushroom and spinach soup. You could get away with half a stock cube though, it doesn't need a whole one.
I don't know about you but I am a bit lazy where hair washing is concerned. I want it washed and towel dried quickly, no faffing about with rinse, apply conditioner, and rinse again. I had a bit of a sort out in my bathroom cabinet, and found the tea tree conditioner that I bought yonks ago, it's at least 15 years old. The VO5 conditioner I found in the house clearance skip, a few moths ago. Shame to leave it there to get chucked away. Anyway, what I am doing now is using it as shampoo. I am determined to get rid of it. It works very well, and it's better than it cluttering the cupboard up. If you have accumulated a stash of conditioner which you may ever use, why not give it a try. If you don't want to use it every time you wash your hair until it's gone, try using it every other wash.

I walked around the corner to a friends house yesterday to collect a key, they have asked me to water their plants while they are away this week. Mrs friend cut me a cucumber from their greenhouse, very nice of her I thought. Then Mr friend came to the door and said have we paid you. I said, don't be daft, I don't want anything, just glad to help out. Then he appeared with a bottle of wine and handed it to me. I said, thank you that's very kind. As I walked away I  looked at the wine in one hand and the cucumber in the other, and chuckled. Ha ha.

Toodle pip.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

What did I buy?

Good morning, bright and sunny here in North Lincolnshire, so pleased that storm has passed over. I was awoken at around 2am when the bedroom was lit up, then an almighty clap of thunder. It went on for almost an hour, quite amazing to watch as it went on it's way to wake up other parts of the country. With my sleep disrupted I stayed in bed an extra hour this morning. 
So, what have I been up to? I am revisiting my childhood here, ha ha. Browsing the baby food section in Aldi a week ago I spotted chocolate pudding at 25p a small tin. Wonder what that's like I thought, let's try it. Should be ok if it's made for babies, not so many nasties in it. Might make a nice alternative to yogurt or chocolate mousse.
Twas a bit bland, only slightly chocolatey, and not very sweet. Probably a good thing, not to get babies hooked on sugar or chocolate. The label says, gluten free, suitable for vegetarians, source of calcium, can be eaten hot or cold, so I suppose it could be useful for adults who crave a little bit of sweetness and have to watch their diet for whatever reason.

Now I have a dinky little tin to play with. Wonder what I can make with it  ;o))

I popped round to see a friend yesterday to offer some courgettes from my garden, I have loads of them at the moment. He said he loves them. He gave me a sample of some home made wine he has brewed, I must say it was delicious. He has bottles everywhere, stacked in his garage, and demijohns of the stuff waiting to be bottled up. He had a firkle around and handed me this bottle of Strawberry wine, bottled on the 1st May 2011, not to be drunk before 1st May 2013. I have instructions to serve it on ice cubes, so I had better get the trays out of the cupboard and freeze a few. Woohoo, can't wait. Good swap I would say.

I have another swap for the courgettes, they like them next door and gave me a cucumber in exchange. More to come, and some tomatoes when they are ready. I like this swapping lark. 
Another lunch made with broad beans and courgettes, this time with mushrooms added, and instead of the garlicky cream cheese I have used whole grain mustard to spice it up. Served on a thick slice of wholemeal bread, it makes a filling lunch. Another variation would be serve it with rice or pasta, to make a bigger meal. Or even mashed potato would be nice. 
Last night I did the supermarket dash. I suddenly realized I had a £3 off  a £20 shop voucher, which must be used by today. So as soon as I had swallowed my last mouthful of dinner I was off in my car. I had missed some of the yellow stickers because of my lateness, nevertheless I managed to bag some spinach, salad leaves, mushrooms and wholemeal bread at really cheap prices. I added everything up that I put in my trolley and when the magical £20 and a bit was reached I headed for the checkout. You might be interested in what I bought and why I bought it, so I will list everything here.

4 tins of chopped tomatoes. I had picked up two tins from the Value range, but when I got to the World Foods aisle I saw that a similar product was 39p each, 4 tins for £1, so a cheaper price.
2 tins of Value peaches, 35p each. I like to have some in the cupboard, I split the tin into three portions (11.5p per portion), and eat it with two spoons of plain yogurt on the top.
2 tins Value rice pudding, 15p a tin. For the store cupboard. I heat half a tin in a mug in the microwave, when eaten I pour the other half into the mug and keep in the fridge to eat the next day. 7.5p per portion. I will make a note here, I never have a pudding after a meal. By the time I have eaten a meal I am full. My occasional sweet treat is eaten in between meals, mid morning, mid afternoon, or at 9pm in the evening, and not every day.
2 jars of Value pickled onions 30p each, and 2 jars Value pickled beetroot 39p each. I add these to salads if I am a bit short of fresh salady stuff. I sometimes use pickled onions in cooking if I don't have a fresh onion.
Olive oil, completely run out so I needed a bottle. Chose the best I could afford, £2, looked for special offer.
Small jar Mayo. Tesco's own label but not Value. I've tried that and it's not very nice. I don't very often buy mayo, I consider it a treat, not a must have.
2 tins of tuna in brine, Tesco label. 45p each. Not for me, but for Bugsy as a treat. He is getting on a bit now and can have whatever he likes.
Bag of Value carrots, 1.5kg, 89p. Like to eat lots of carrots, steamed or grated on salads.
Packet ground almonds. Add these to breakfast cereal, to rice pudding, to yogurt, or eat it straight out of the packet with a spoon.
Packet of ground rice. This is something new to try, I remember it from mum making puddings with it. This is an experiment. I have added a teaspoon of it to my porridge this morning, will try different ways of using it.
Bag of frozen Quorn mince, £2.00. It has 50% extra in it, and I had a 65p off voucher, so a good buy. Handy to have some in the freezer, lots of uses for it.
Bag Value frozen green beans. £1.00. Still waiting for mine to come in the garden.
Small punnet picota cherries £1. A treat, I love cherries, won't pay more than £1.
Salad tomatoes, 69p. Haven't grown any this year. Don't mind buying Holland tomatoes, but won't buy them from further afield. They generally have no taste and have thick skins.
6 pack flavoured yogurt £1. This used to be a regular purchase of mine, now it is relegated to an occasional treat because I eat more plain yogurt now.
Danish blue cheese, and Brie cheese. These are treats. I usually buy mature cheddar, but the price keeps going up and the pack size is shrinking, so now looking at cheese as a treat and not as a must have.
6 FR eggs. I usually eat six eggs a week. Added to salads, or scrambled into other ingredients, with an occasional omelette. Never fried.
2 bags of yellow sticker baby spinach. Can't get enough of this, eaten raw in salads, added to sandwiches, or very lightly steamed with veg, (only needs 30 seconds).
2 loaves weightwatchers wholemeal bread, yellow stickers. Don't care that it's for slimmers, it's wholemeal and it's cheap, 9p a loaf. To go in freezer for future use, as I already have a loaf open.
Big bag of loose weighed mushrooms, yellow sticker, 4p. I will make sure I eat them before they go off. Got to at that price. Cooked or eaten raw with salad.
Bag of dry cat food, £1.25, on offer. A new one to try to give the cats a bit of variety.
Total shop came to £21.97, reduced to £18.32 with vouchers. Enough in to last a while.

Thank you for reading. I will go outside now, while the weather is nice. I hope you have a nice Sunday.
Toodle pip.
PS, Will reply to emails soon, many thanks.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Whip up a quickquilt

I've had a change today, instead of hand sewing I've been machine sewing. Wanting to use up some bits and pieces of cotton fabric. Don't want to make a big quilt, but a little quilt for cats would be nice, not for me but to give to someone else. This is the easy quick way, I've shown this once before, when I turned a piece of quick quilt into a curtain. This is the same principle. I find it easier to sew the bits onto a bigger piece one by one, rather than join them all up. 
The stripey backing piece is from an old worn out flannelette sheet, cut to a 24 inch square. I've cut two pieces to make it thicker. First choose a piece of cotton fabric, put it face down in the centre, and sew along one side. Then turn it over with right side up.

Then get a second piece, right side down, and sew along one edge. Turn it right side up.

Then do the same again on the other side. Right side down, sew, turn it right side up.

And so on.....keep adding more pieces. Pin the edges down to keep it flat. Iron if you want to.  
Add more to it and it grows bigger.

You need longer pieces so you might have to join a few shorter pieces to make a strip. Put the strip right side down and sew it on in the same way.

All done, when the patchwork reaches the outer edges time to finish it off. It doesn't matter if the edges are not 100% straight. I don't have any wadding so I have put another piece of the stripey sheet on it. The backing is is a piece of red cotton sheet. Cut it bigger and bring the excess round to the front to make the border. My quilting is not fancy, just straight lines to keep the layers together. I want to start in the centre and work my way towards the outer edge, but Bugsy has decided that the sun is too hot in the windowsill and he wants to lie on the table for a few minutes. Come on Bugsy, you are in the way. I get him to move by offering a tasty piece of chicken.

All finished, doesn't take long to run one of these up. A mat for a cat. Five layers thick and washable. It can be put in a cat bed, a box or basket, or can be put on a chair if you want to keep the chair free of cat hairs. Janet has seven cats, I'm sure she will find a place for it. 
Here is another snippet of the picture I am creating, it's on the back of a piece of upholstery fabric. Long way to go yet, will show more as I add to it.
I feel a bit peckish, time to make my dinner. Won't be anything fancy, can't be bothered to cook.
Toodle pip.