Sunday, 15 December 2013

Today's mission. ..

Make do and mend! I've abandoned my knitting for a little darning and sewing on of buttons. Very dull but very satisfying

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Going nutty - the season for free food

So, scouting out my new territory has revealed some glorious riches in the way of foraging.  Wild plums, heaps of elderberries, I'm sure there are some heavily laden brambles along the river and oh my!  A gloriously fruitful walnut tree right behind my house.  Look at these beauties:

Shame it's too late to utilise this interesting-looking recipe for pickled walnuts, but apparently you have to pick them in June.  Pity, as it'd make a super Christmas present, never mind, maybe next year!

This year I'll just have to gather the ripened nuts and maybe package them up into little bags as gifts! Unless you have a better idea.  Any good walnut recipes out there?

Must check out those plums again later to see if any more have ripened and go along the river for some blackberries.  For now, though, I'm chained to the sofa with a vomity toddler.  Poor Cub.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Poetry Thursday

I have revisited some old thought processes this week and a poem popped up. Enjoy!

Ode to a Toddler

Like a small goblin I find you squatting, unexpectedly, on the kitchen table
Chewing thoughtfully on a screwdriver .
Nothing new. A hundred times a day you find new ways to instill
Terror and make me fear you will be killed.
I wonder how it could have been that my mornings were peaceful, slow and sleepy
Now so manic; flustered and panicked,
Chaos never far from anywhere you are.
Eyes full of mischief, hands and mouth full of jam, or mud
Or worse – that scarlet welt welling such new blood.
No quiet. No respite. Never more will peace be mine.
My boobs no longer my own, nor my nights, nor my time.
Even the simple sanction of a shut bathroom door:
Denied me, or woe betide me!
Everything, now, is yours, forever more.
Mad professor hair, a gleam in your eye, a wicked giggle,
New delight after new delight; tiny bare toes, a soft tummy to tickle.
My life, never dull, never drear, Now you’re here.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Spring cleaning? No. Spring *crafting*!

March is a busy enough month in our household what with 3 family birthdays in close succession as well as Easter and Mothering Sunday, so why on earth I decided that what I really needed was a few more craft projects is utterly beyond me.  However, that’s exactly what happened so I have been busily crafting away and saving ourselves a bit of money at the same time.

I shortened the curtains from our old house so they would fit our new one better, then made some cushion covers from the leftovers – with a little ‘help’ from the Cub…

The pattern I used was a simple Oxford edged envelope design as explained here:

I then embellished them with a simple broken line stitch around the edge and an embroidery design in the centre.  To cheer the monotony of beige I used 3 bright colours that will feature elsewhere in our sitting room when I’m done: hot pink, turquoise and orange. Psychedelic  it may sound, but the effect was discreet and pretty.

Oh, and I’m working on some tie-backs for the curtains.  So far I’ve crocheted some turquoise ones and was planning to decorate them with crocheted flowers in different colours, but I’m starting to waver (now I’ve actually made the wretched things) and may go with fabric tie-backs made from leftovers and use the flowers on those.  I may have to fake up one of each and decide which I like best when I’m done.
 Here's a little picture of my shortened curtains and make-do tie-backs. Please ignore the baby jail and laundry drying over it. It rather spoils the bucolic prettiness of a rocking chair by a window :)

Monday, 11 February 2013

Valentine's Shortbread

Oops - just discovered this post in draft form from the year before last! With Valentine's Day not that far off I thought I'd post it now to give you a little time to eat-- test a couple of batches before Feb 14th finally arrives!  I might even be making some more myself, I think the husband will probably appreciate it more than the crochet hearts I was planning --to suit myself-- !

So, whilst I love the way my darling husband spoiled me for Valentine's Day, I personally refuse to spend money on such a commercially inspired occasion. That being said I still want to take every opportunity to show my chap how much he means to me, so I make him something sweet to make him smile. Shortbread is one of his favourite things and, several years having now elapsed since the shortbread disaster of 2007 (it turned out that my scales were broken, but it still left me with a shortbread paranoia) I felt brave enough to have another stab at it.

I found a well-recommended recipe online, adjusted it to add choc chunks and make the pieces heart-shaped and baked him a batch which, I am reliably informed, was utterly delicious ;-)

I also drew him a card (which still needs colouring in, oops). I think he liked it.

So... do you mark the day? What did you do this year?

Valentine's Shortbread

115g unsalted butter, at room temperature
55g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
130g plain flour
35g ground rice
50g dark chocolate chopped into large chunks
Caster sugar, to finish
1. Pre-heat the oven to 150C. Put the butter into a large mixing bowl, and beat until soft. Beat in the sugar and salt.2. Sift in the flour and ground rice and mix to a smooth dough; add a little extra butter if it doesn't come together into a dough3. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment, and pat the dough out to 1cm thickness and use a heart shaped cutter to cut into biscuits place on the baking sheet and put in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes until firm. 4. Bake for around half an hour until cooked through, but not browned. 5. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes, then sprinkle with caster sugar and transfer to a wire rack. Once cold, these should last for a good few days in an airtight container

Friday, 8 February 2013

Testing testing 1 2 1 2

I just downloaded a shiny android app so I can blog on the run. The only down side? Auto fill. Grrrr.

And that's pretty much the sum total of my post for today, except I'll add a picture of the cub, because he's just so darn cute

posted from Bloggeroid

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Store cupboard soup and musings on washing

Oh yes, today is a good day.  There's sun, it's mild enough that I could hang the washing out in just a top without freezing and it's windy enough that it was worth hanging some washing out - hurrah.  There's nothing like pegging out a fresh damp wash to make me feel really happy, silly, I know, but it's got funny little rewards like not costing anything and smelling all gorgeous and fresh.

So, my washing is drying on the line instead of on the heated airer.  The cub is having a nap upstairs - a very odd nap, as he decided he didn't want his normal morning one and seems to have amalgamated it into his afternoon nap by bringing it forward 2 hours.  Oh well, peace and quiet for Mummy and any sleep is better than no sleep at the moment, even if it is at a funny time!

I'm making the most of my time by setting some soup to cook whilst I'm faffing about on the internet working.  It's a super simple soup.  The Cub loves it, the Viking loves it, even I like it and I'm not a huge soup fan.  It's made entirely from store cupboard ingredients and is pretty economical to make.  I invented it when I was first weaning the cub and wanted something quick, tasty, nutritious, filling, cheap and that would stay on the spoon reasonably well as he tried to guide it to his mouth!

Spicy Tomato and Lentil Soup

Baby endorsed!
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 or 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tin tomatoes (Tesco Everyday type is fine. No need for fancy ones!)
1  smallish cup of dried red split lentils
1/2 pint hot stock (chicken or vegetable)
1 or 2 tsp dried mixed herbs
dried red chilli flakes to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Soften onion and garlic in a couple of tbsp of sunflower oil.  Add the rest of the ingredients and allow to simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the lentils are really soft and pulpy.  I choose to blend it with a hand blender at this point, but the Viking quite likes it as it is and the Cub has expressed no definitive views on the matter.  Once it's blended you can add a bit more water if you want it thinner or simmer for longer to reduce it.  Serve it hot with a good handful of grated cheese on top (and some salt, if you're over the age of 10).

Now I'm going to see if there's time to have lunch and start the bunting for the Cub's room...

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Bye bye birthday cards

We moved house just recently and were seriously remiss in our throwing-out before we moved and are now stuck with large piles of stuff we need to shift one way or another just so we can clear our sitting room.  Whilst engaging in a mass clear-out of paperwork I happened across a heap of cards I had previous deemed just too pretty to bin out of hand.  Well, desperate times call for desperate measures and I braced myself to chuck the lot in the recycling pile when I had a minor brainwave, got out my scissors and chopped them up, where possible, into pretty gift tags.

Now I just need to come up with an upcycling scheme for wrapping paper (would dyed/painted newspaper look nice enough?) and my gift-wrapping will be both economical and ecological!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Yoo hoo, I'm baaaack

Wow, I don't even want to think about how long it's been since I posted on here.  I've re-found my inspiration, though, after an amusing article on Radio 4, You and Yours yesterday.  It had this mother talking about how she had come to the sudden realisation that she didn't need to spend masses of money on her two year old, including such gems as "he can actually just have the same Greek Yoghurt that we're eating, I don't need to buy him the organic sugar-free baby yoghurts he's been on since he was weaned".  Well, excuse my French, but no shit Sherlock.

Some of us have no choice but to make do, mend, save, scrimp and otherwise find cheap or free ways of doing things that other people throw money at.  The fact that I enjoy being a tight-arse over matters financial is neither here nor there!  So now I've nurtured my cub for over a year, got him walking, (sort of) talking, eating and expressing his unique little personality with great forcefulness, I decided to come back and share some of my money-saving exploits yet again, only now with added baby.

Today's money-saving tip (and I'd like to start off with the blindingly obvious, because it's fun to annoy people, plus this is what we've done in the last few months): look into whether you really need a second car. Hah.  We need the first one for my husband to commute (it's more expensive on the bus, we checked!) but I can now walk everywhere, so I do.  This has the added benefit of losing weight (yay) and the downside of all my clothes now being too big. Sewing time!

I feel very virtuous, but on days like this when the streets are slick with compacted snow and I have to get to the other side of town, I do heave a bit of a sigh before bundling me and the cub up in our heavy-weather gear and setting off.