Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Yes there is such a thing as a free lunch!

Today Mr C decided to come home for his lunch and requested soup. Luckily the "freezer fairy" (as in tightwad Gazette) was full to brimful with all sorts of odds and ends (celery ends, cooked potatoes, half a tin of tomatoes, runner beans, half an onion, half a fresh tomato), so I tipped it all into a saucepan, adding some chopped spring onions that needed using up and a tub of stock from the freezer (yipee more space) simmered until soft, seasoned and then blitzed in the food processor.

Please excuse the state of my cooker, but it has been in almost constant use now it is chutney season! It has since been cleaned:)

Further exploration of the freezer resulted in some lovely tomato and herb bread, left from our last visit to the farmers market, which went down very well with the soup. We had ice cream for afters (left and rescued from the family barbecue a week ago) all items I, sadly, would have thrown away years ago, so a free and tasty lunch. What a blessing!

Needless to say the freezer fairy (an old tupperware lidded jug) is clean and ready for use again!

Breakfast- hm muesli and soya yogurt, tea

mid morning snack - a lovely orange from last weeks organic box

Lunch - as above hm soup, tomato and herb bread, ice cream

Afternoon snack - 2 little kit kat eggs (from apoproved foods - naughty but nice) tea

Dinner - hm veggie lasagne and salad - from garden and bottom of the fridge, hm fruit salad

5 a day - dried fruit, orange, various veg in hm soup, courgettes and tomatoes in lasagne, garden salad, hm fruit salad (mango, blackberries, apple, pears)

The approved food order has just turned up so I now have curry paste to last a good long time, organic carrots, dog toys (for Christmas gifts for friends pooches) cake mixes, sweeties for cake decorating, Christmas cake frills, fruit teas and coffees for Mr C! This was paid for on Wednesday last week!

Other than going out briefly to walk Penny on her first walk after the op (round the block) I have not been anywhere to spend any money! So no spend day

Monday, 7 September 2009

Todays harvest from the garden and a catch up

This is what I've managed to harvest today and I still have several courgettes and runner beans from yesterdays pickings to deal with! The freezers are filled to brimful so somethings got to come out of there! I think it may well be more of the frozen blackberries to make some more jelly! Just need to urgently find some more jars! lol!

I have been away from the blog for a few days while Penny has been getting over her spaying op! Poor little thing didn't know what had hit her and spent most of Friday night and Saturday whimpering. Thank goodness the vet gave us some painkillers for her. On the first day she was still spaced out from the general anesthesia. Several times in the night I woke to find her sitting bolt upright with very big eyes just staring into space! She has just had her first check up at the vets and is healing well, just 1 more week, another check up and hopefully back to normal Penny madness again.:)

A quick catch up on our spends:-

Thusday 3/9 - we ate out to celebrate a friends birthday.. Lovely meal and Mr C budgeted for this out of entertainments allowance ( can't go out again for a while though!) so for me it was a no spend day!

Friday 4/9 - spent the day searching for a replacement car (to take our minds of Penny having her op) very tired and short of time we stopped for a sandwich lunch at Wyevales - very nice but cost a whopping £14 :o we also shared a portion of fish and chips £5 in the evening as Penny needed our time and attention so total spend £19

Saturday 5/9 - Tea and toast for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch but a shared portion of chinese takeaway as we were still so very tired! total spent £7

Sunday 6/7 - Penny much better so visited a friends Church for Communion and discovered they have 2 collections! Also bought a couple of cards and stayed for a cuppa and a biccie (everyone so very friendly and had a lovely time) total spend £5

Monday (today)

Breakfast - hm muesli, milk and tea

midmorning snack - cheese and apple

Lunch - tuna salad

Afternoon snack - slice of lemon drizzle cake and an orange

dinner - butternut squash and bacon risotto
plum crumble (made earlier in week)

5 a day - plums, butternut squash, orange, apple, salad, dried fruits

total spends today £4.99 (I bought a toy for Penny at the vets! Had to take it away again as she was getting too excited and rushing around!)

Wednesday, 2 September 2009


I've been busy recently making Jams and chutneys! I have been lucky enough to be given plenty of apples and plums from my lovely neighbour. So just the price of the sugar(which I had in) for the jam and the vinegar, onions and spices (already in store) for the chutney. The problem now is finding enough jam jars!

Todays menu was:-

Breakfast - hm muesli and milk for Mr C/just a yogurt for me (not feeling well)

Lunch - Cheese and chutney sandwiches, crisps clementine for Mr C/Soup for me

Snack - Lemon drizzle cake (leftover from party)

Dinner - Sausages (in the remoska) mash potatoes, runner beans and carrots followed by clementines and pears

Hot soy milk drink for supper

5 a day - runner beans, carrots, pear, clementine, orange juice

More runner beans from garden to freeze down - the veg draw in the freezer is nearly full now!

Church today followed by helping at toddler group so no chance to spend there.

Total spend - £20.44 on an approvedfoods order! well they had snowmen toys for dogs (4 for £1) so enough for all my doggy friends :) also organic carrots, choc, sweeties for decorating cookies/cupcakes for MS centre, fruit teas, coffee and christmas cake frills.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Hello again!

Yes I have had to take a long break from blogging, again. I feel much better now but have missed you.

My daughter came home with the dreaded swine flu last month! I nursed her through it using plenty of anti bac sprays to avoid it speading. She had tamiflu and it started to work almost immediately. It was rotten for her but not so bad if you know what I mean, I guess she was lucky and didn't have any complications! We seem to have avoided catching it although we did both have a tummy upset so maybe a mild variant? Hope you are all keeping well and have avoided this virus.

I started a couple of new treatments this summer, a new painkiller, which so far has no side effects unlike the last one which made me feel sea sick whenever I stood up! : ( I also started to have oxygen therapy under pressure at our MS centre. Whether it is the pain being eased or the oxygen I don't know but I am getting more done now so it is all good.

We even managed a holiday to Spain with our oldest friends (best man and his wife from 33 years ago!) His brother has an apartment out there so with low fees and Ryanair it was affordable. We all managed to swim every day which was great exercise for me and we also did a fair bit of walking so something was definately working for me.

Bank holiday weekend we had our family over with a few good friends and celebrated our birthdays (Mr C's is only 3 weeks after mine - we are the same age for those 3 weeks every year to his joy! Then he becomes a year older than me again!) We tidied the garden and had a barbecue! It was a lovely day. Then I did the accounts! Shock! we had spent nearly £200 on food and drink! On the plus side there is now plenty of chicken, burgers and sausages in the freezers and more than enough beer and wine for Christmas! It does however mean that money is going to be tight here for a while.

Our sons wedding is now only 4 months away and we have our friends sons wedding in October. Mr C still wants/needs a replacement car which will not be cheap and the hall stairs and landing are desperately in need of re-decorating! So I have to get strict with the budget again.

From today I will be avoiding any unnecessary spending and keeping a spending diary! Yikes! The first step is a menu plan for the week taking into account any leftover fresh food from the barbecue and of course whatever is delivered in the organic box tomorrow (too late to cancel it) and also what is available in the garden - right now a butternut squash, spinach, tomatoes and runner beans. Oh and I also have a fair stock of food from Approved foods deliveries - mainly packet soups, baked beans, savoury rice and cous cous!

Todays menu:-

Breakfast - home made muesli with a gooseberry yogurt for me/with milk for Mr C

mid morning snack - clementines and a digestive biscuit

Lunch - Cheese and coleslaw filled rolls (leftovers from barbecue)1/2 a grapefruit I have 2 left from the last organic box delivery so needs using!

mid afternoon snack - very small piece of birthday cake and a cup of tea (tea bags from approved foods)

Dinner - Pasta bake - using up sliced cooked sausages and a very spicy salsa (again leftover from the barbecue! Salsa is the large container from Approved foods and it is powerful stuff!)served with plenty of salad. Lots of water with this I think! :) ice cream to follow.

5 a day - dried fruit in the muesli and as a snack, grapefruit,clementines, orange juice drink, salad.

My Home made muesli is easily made:- 500g oats, generous handfuls of chopped dates, sultanas, figs, sunflower seeds, few linseeds, anything I fancy and have to hand really. I make this at the beginning of the week and store in a cookie jar.
I have a good supply of oats in and plenty of dates, seeds and sultanas. So that with toast and marmalade/jam is breakfasts sorted!

Total spend today - prescription charge £7.20

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Still here and recovering!

Yep! Still here and much better now it is cooler! I am a wimp and found the heatwave and the humidity very difficult to deal with, even breathing seemed hard. The leccy bill will be up a tad as I had to have the fan on 24/7. Heat definately makes the ME/cfs symptoms worse. I am working through it, pacing, new meds (again) but they are hitting the pain, and a determined mindset! I am exercising but only for short periods and rest lots inbetween.

Penny too has found the heat a pain but has today had a drastically short haircut and now lookes very poodle like. I will pop a photo on later. The lady who grooms her does an excellent job and Penny thinks the world of her. Mr C did protest a bit about the pink ribbon she added though!

Today was the 4th anniversary of the 7/7 bombings - My thoughts and prayers go out to all affected by this.

Tonight I watched the Michael Jackson memorial service, it is still hard to believe he has gone, but his music will live on!

Monday, 29 June 2009

We have pears!!!

We have had this pear tree for at least 8 years, no fruit until last year and then just 2 pears. This year looks promising though! I am keeping my fingers crossed!

It is another very hot day here and it looks like I am going to lose a few plants! Our clemetis looks very poorly despite extra watering. My main priority is keeping Penny cool, her coat needs trimming but the first available appointment is in a weeks time. If it gets too hot today I shall give her a bath. Luckily she enjoys baths!

I need to menu plan this week but know that salads will feature prominantly with tuna or cold meats and home made breads. I am still using up the approved foods stockpile, yesterday we had a barbecue (of chinese marinaded pork steaks, kebabs and spicy sausages) and added a dish of the mild curry savoury rice (5 for £1) and one of coriander and lime couscous (also 5 for £1) to the table. The rice is a tad salty but perhaps I am noticing this more now that I have cut down on our salt intake. The Couscous benefitted from a generous squeeze of lemon juice (another approved foods bargain - 9 for £1)) just before serving. I made a huge bowl of salad using some of our home grown baby salad leaves, there is loads left so thats my lunch sorted! Today is "No meat Monday" so hard boiled eggs tonight for the protein with masses of salad!

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Spread a little kindness! Paying it forward

As I mentioned in my last post, I collect meakin Poppy pottery! I loved it from afar back in the 70's but alas we had so few pennies that we had to settle for a catalogue special instead. Now with the advent of ebay, car boot sales and charity shops, I have been able to start a collection at last.

This week I managed to buy (or win) on ebay a set of the lugged soup bowls! The lovely seller on finding out (through my chatty e mails) that I have waited 30 years to get my poppy collection going, decided to deliver the bowls complete with a dinner set he had - as a gift! Wow! I am bowled over by such a kind act!

I am going to pass on the kindness though and take only what I need, the rest will go into our local cancer research charity shop. There are some wonderful folks out there, even in a recession!

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Church Fete Bargains

Just back from our Church Summer Fete and the rain held off until the end! we did well and I am so pleased as I collect the 1970's meakin poppy pottery and this little jug and sugar bowl were missing from my collection - only £1 for the 2! Back in the 70's I used to hanker after this set but we just could not afford it and made do with a cheap catalogue set of pottery to see us through. Now thanks to ebay, car boot sales and fetes I have a lovely collection of poppy pottery.

The damask tablecloth and napkin set were only £1 as well. Our favourite teapot broke this morning so this lovely large stainless steel pot at £1 was a timely find and it pours well (we have just tested it!). The paperbacks were 3 for £1 and the fab Readers Digest Complete Library of the Garden
set another £1. The cake was a lot more at £2.80 but very yummy and all in a good cause, I was secretly pleased that the 2 banana breads I had supplied had sold early on in the afternoon.

Great fun and caught up with a few friends that we hadn't seen for a while. I also have a huge evening primrose plant to go into the garden as soon as I can make a space! Don't you just love summer fetes?

Thursday, 18 June 2009

My new favourite toy

A citrus press! I found it in a charity shop for £4 and it is already earning its keep. We often get oranges in the organic box and this is such an easy and nice way to use them up.
I sometimes find a traditional juicer difficult to use as I get some weakness in my wrists but this is so easy!

I am sitting at the computer eating up leftover asparagus and mushroom risotto, yummy and comforting. I have all the signs of a relapse and still have a busy week ahead, so I am looking after myself and pacing like mad! Tonight our daughter has got us tickets to see a London show - Hairspray with Michael Ball before he leaves! She has booked us into the dress circle as there are no stairs to negotiate, thank goodness. I am just dreading the journey but will have Mr C to hold onto for support!

Tomorrow i go to our local MS support group and am going to try a massage to help with the leaden muscles, also hopefully oxygen if I am still shattered. Fingers crossed!

This Saturday is our Church summer fete and I must make a couple of cakes for that and of course attend so that I can check out the White elephant stall!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Blessings-things I am grateful for

Yesterday I visited my friend L in hospital. 10 days ago she had major surgery - her 20th op in 10 years. It was a difficult surgery, quite experimental and as on the other occasions she said her goodbyes before hand. Yesterday she was out of ICU and sitting up in bed drinking the 2nd of 2 cups of tea! We are so relieved! Her recovery so far is truly a blessing for her family and friends.

I often find that I focus too much on the bad things so today I have been thinking about all the other blessings in my life:-

My faith - In the past I may have let go of God at times but he has never let go of me

My family - so loving and supportive

Penny - our loving cuddly funloving cockapoo dog

All my friends

My church and all my friends there

Good neighbours

Cats - I may be allergic to them now but still love them and often stop to chat to the neighbours moggys

A comfy, warm home

Running water - yes I have been on the wateraid site again!

Enough food to eat - Especially since I discovered "Approved food"and "Goodness direct"

My health - The fact that my ME is so much better and not getting worse

My doctor - a lovely supportive Christian dr

My local MS centre - they support folk with ME and other illnesses as well

My Garden - when all seems bleak just half and hour in the garden lifts me up


Risotto - I love this meal as it is so easy to eat and digest no matter how fatigued I am.

Books - and a husband that also loves books so doesn't complain abour the space they take up! A good book can take you away from all your troubles.

An empty ironing basket - just doing half an hour a day keeps me on top of it all

A library of films to watch - I wish more of them were on dvd but films on videos can be picked up at 25p each in our local charity shops. If you had told me 20 odd years ago that I would have more than 50 films on the shelves to watch whenever I wanted, I would not have believed it!

I know I could add more if I thought about it but I won't bore you! Have a little think about your own blessings, I can guarantee it will meke you feel good.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Another kind of scrapping - Giveaway 2

I love to make cards and have dallied in scrapbooking but have collected too much! I can't move! lol! I have been sorting out my craft space and found these items surplus to my needs, hope someone can give them a home. Just leave a comment and Mr C will choose a name.

After a weekend of entertaining we are back to a storecupboard challenge again. I have 1/2 bottle of white wine to use up (we prefer to drink red) so I will make a rissoto tonight. I have just found a tin of asparagus spears (from an approved foods order) some mushrooms and some garlic from a value pack. We have some arborio rice and a small amount of parmesan cheese so we are good to go. I would normally add some bacon but have decided to join Sir Paul Macartneys "No Meat Mondays" (brilliant idea!) Pudding will be ice cream and a tin of strawberries from the back of the larder as the birds keep nabbing mine! Lunch is an egg and cress (grown on the window sill) bread roll.

We had some excitement today after Pennys walk. We got into the house to find a young starling sitting in the conservatory!!! No windows were open so it must have come out of the tiny gap above the fireplace in the living room. Penny was very good and stayed in her bed while I opened all the windows and doors. The bird was very calm so I guess had only just come through and was not in the least afraid of me. I lifted up the curtains and the teenage starling flew out through the front window to freedom. Phew!

Sunday, 14 June 2009

To scrap or not to scrap? That's the question!

Mr C would like to update his car. Fair enough he uses it for work and can claim some limited mileage on local journeys. Out of the county and the firm hire a car for him. We would normally look at another second hand car maybe 3 - 4 years younger. Now we have the added temptation of the governments scrappage deal. Not on Mr C's car as that isn't old enough! Oh no now he is looking at my beloved renault clio which is indeed old enough but has given no trouble apart from a flat battery. It is, according to the government old enough to scrap and be sent to the crusher! How sad is that! Glad we don't treat people like that (well we don't yet do we?)

Yesterday we took the clio out for a drive (looking at second hand caravans but that is another story). Even Mr C had to admit what a lovely little car the clio is, so I guess he is now having second thoughts as well, it is too good to scrap! Apparently on reading various articles online, it would seem that the government scrappage scheme isn't the gift it at first seems to be. The thought is that dealers/manufacturers have upped the prices on the new cars to cover the £1000 they would have to pay! Cunning and clever and not very helpful to us! A new car would lose value the minute we drove it off the forecourt. So back to the drawing board we go, maybe to do as we normally do and find a younger version of what we have and trade in Mr C's car instead. Oh and if possible will tow a nice cheap little second hand caravan so we can have some quality time together without endangering our mortgage payoffs!

Monday, 8 June 2009

Relearning the 3 R's mantra

REDUCE REUSE RECYCLE all wonderful ways of saving money and we need to save the pennies right now! In October of this year we can make another 10% payment off the mortgage! So we have to find nearly £7000 added to the costs of a family wedding, which although it will be a joyous time, will undoubtedly cost a goodly amount.

We have some savings in ISA’s but don’t want to empty the pot completely, leaving the cupboard bare. We must find other ways. I haven’t returned to work, having found the stress making my symptoms worse each time I try. I don’t claim benefits of any kind, the stress of going through that experience would definitely have a negative effect on my health! Mr C earns a reasonable wage at the moment, we can pay our bills and save, we have no other debt than our mortgage but we must pay this down, we do not want to be saddled with this when Mr C retires. I must try to “earn” the extra needed by saving in other ways. If we spend less we gain more!

REDUCE – means we simply buy less! Foodwise I have always kept a good store cupboard and buy in bulk sometimes as I like to cook in bulk, freezing the extra meals down to cover those bad days when I have no energy to cook. Could I cut down here? I think wiser meal planning would help, smaller meal portions would help our figures (financial and otherwise)  Growing more of our food would cut costs, this year I hope to harvest runner beans, French beans, courgettes, lettuce, tomatoes, radish, potatoes, fruit, spinach, garlic, and later on, cabbage and Brussels.

Clothingwise, we are both hoping to lose some weight before the wedding. Our wardrobes are full – most of my clothes come from charity shops and I have shopped that way for many a year now! So nothing new until nearer the wedding and then I shall be looking at discounts, sales etc.

Holiday- we have had a week away in Wales, self catering and very cheap but fun and have booked to go away with friends (our best man and his wife) to stay in his brothers apartment in sunny Spain, so also very cheap. Our friends also need to cut back on spending so we will take it in turns to cook and treat ourselves to a meal out at the end of the week. Mr C deserves a holiday away as he works so hard during the year.

Garden – I have spent far too much in that area already (trying to get it looking nice before we have visitors) so will just look after it with time and effort now. I have lots of reusable pots and will swap cuttings etc with friends when gaps need filling.

REUSE – Instead of buying new I must ask myself if there is something at home that could be used instead. Aprils Use it up challenge taught me that a lot of so called “rubbish” can indeed be re-used and made into very useful items.

Years ago when I was young and keen to learn to sew, my Mum who couldn’t afford to buy me the material (which would possibly be wasted) asked around the family for old clothes that could be re-purposed. My Aunt Mary had some lovely old skirts from the 50’s very full so lots of material. Mum showed me how to take them apart, wash and press them and lay the pattern pieces (traced out from her copies of Burda magazine) and cut and sew some “new” dresses and all for the price of some cotton thread! I am going to do some more of this.

I may never throw an old pillow out again now I know how useful they are! Spare dogs beds, garden cushions, indoor cushions, stuffing for craft projects, kneelers for gardening etc.,

RECYCLE – Our local council have a very good collection service going so I do recycle a fair bit more than I did. All glass, tins, foil, plastic bottles, cardboard, paper get put out on collection day. Sometimes I can find a use at home for these items, glass jars for preserves, bottles for home made lemonade, plastic bottles for home made ginger beer (glass would be too dangerous – I well remember my Mums gingerbeer exploding in the larder).

Lots to think about and no matter how much we think we do now, there is always room for improvement and hopefully always more savings to be made.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

1st Anniversary giveaway!

Tis a whole year since this first post marked my beginners journey into blogland and "meeting" so many lovely friends so today I am going to offer the first of 4 giveaways to celebrate! Now that more parents are hosting home made childrens birthday parties, many mums are on the lookout for party menu ideas and this book is full of them. From a super pirate ship to a healthy looking sandwich house! Cake ideas include a stable, helicopter, engine, mushroom house, post box and record cake!

This book has been loved and used so apologies for the odd mark or two! My children are now grown up so hopefully this will be loved by someone else now. I shall also be rummaging through my fabrics for some more giveaways! Just leave a comment on todays post and Mr C will pull a name from the hat!

Monday, 18 May 2009

Best before but cheaper after!

I recently made an order to Approved foods, a company which sells food approaching it's best before date. The saving can be incredible - all the above for £20 plus delivery of £5.25
I haven't found anything bad yet, the tins of oats (50p each) are just the right size for when I make up a batch of muesli, The dates (£2.50) are delicious and yes that is a box of 3kg (I am going to be busy baking for a while!) The most expensive things overall are the dental sticks for Penny as I order quite a few (60p for a packet of 3- I ordered 10) and break them into halves for her. The orange juice (3 bottles of £1) is lovely and we are fast using that up! Haven't tried the spicy tomato ketchup yet.

I know more and more folk are looking at buying this way, it is a cheap way to fill up the shelves, what do you think? Worth the savings or a step too far? It does of course keep the stuff out of the landfill!

Monday, 11 May 2009

Through the woods to the sea - blowing the cobwebs away!

Just back from a week away in Wales and I feel so much better for it. We took some photos so you can join us on mine and Penny's favourite walk through the woods to the coast:-

Our favourite walk in Wales starts with the path that travels through the woods.

Past the bluebells - I love this time of year!

coming out of the woods now and towards the sea!

Nearly there!

we have to scramble over these rocks to get there, a bit tricky for Penny and I

Hooray the sea! It was a bit cold for a paddle!

Penny loved the sea!

Our reward after all that exercise was one of Thelmas lovely welsh cakes and a huge mug of tea at the cafe on top of the cliff! The sheep kept us company! The coastline in the distance is Somerset!

Friday, 1 May 2009

The cats turn

I just love this! Reminds me of a couple of cats who used to own us! To make up for the dog poems this is one for all the owners of cats who own us!


Hamlet's Cat's Soliloquy
by William Shakespeare's Cat

To go outside, and there perchance to stay
Or to remain within: that is the question:
Whether 'tis better for a cat to suffer
The cuffs and buffets of inclement weather
That Nature rains on those who roam abroad,
Or take a nap upon a scrap of carpet,
And so by dozing melt the solid hours
That clog the clock's bright gears with sullen time
And stall the dinner bell.

To sit, to stare
Outdoors, and by a stare to seem to state
A wish to venture forth without delay,
Then when the portal's opened up, to stand
As if transfixed by doubt.

To prowl; to sleep;
To choose not knowing when we may once more
Our readmittance gain: aye, there's the hairball;
For if a paw were shaped to turn a knob,
Or work a lock or slip a window-catch,
And going out and coming in were made
As simple as the breaking of a bowl,
What cat would bear the household's petty plagues,
The cook's well-practiced kicks, the butler's broom,
The infant's careless pokes, the tickled ears,
The trampled tail, and all the daily shocks
That fur is heir to, when, of his own free will,
He might his exodus or entrance make
With a mere mitten?

Who would spaniels fear,
Or strays trespassing from a neighbor's yard,
But that the dread of our unheeded cries
And scratches at a barricaded door
No claw can open up, dispels our nerve
And makes us rather bear our humans' faults
Than run away to unguessed miseries?

Thus caution doth make house cats of us all;
And thus the bristling hair of resolution
Is softened up with the pale brush of thought,
And since our choices hinge on weighty things,
We pause upon the threshold of decision.

From the book: Poetry for Cats:
The Definitive Anthology of Distinguished Feline Verse
by Henry Beard

I may not be able to post for a few day as I am off to visit family. Hopefully when I do get back to you I can post about the super bargains I have found at welsh car boot sales and charity shops! We are also about to celebrate, today, 33 years of marriage!!!!!


Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Blanket squares progress

My ancient copy of Golden Hands Book of Knitting Patterns! I have always wanted to knit this up and 30 odd years later I have finally started :) I don't think I will bother with the pom poms though! Might be too tempting for Penny! Many of the other patterns look good as well.

I have just started square number 27!!!! Need another 133 at least so a long way to go but they are very easy, just garter stitch, 23 stitches in double knit on old size 6 needles. I don't need to concentrate on a pattern so can watch tv or take part in a conversation at the same time. The yarn is left over from making the fingerless mitts for my friends at the ms centre.

I have just got back from a brief shopping trip to our local co-op (part of my avoiding using the bigger supermarkets and supporting our local businesses, I also use the farm shop and market) While searching for ginger biscuits (to help fight the dizzyness and nausea) some youngsters from our local college came in, a merry group of kids but one lass called out in a loud voice to her friend "Choose whatever you want (very generous) don't worry about it I will put it on my card!" Isn't it worrying that card payments are not seen as real money?

Money spent today - stamps £5.60/ ginger biscuits, cake, crystalized ginger, dog chews and reduced cauli and broccoli £7.27

Monday, 27 April 2009

A funny for you!

Yesterdays post was a little sad, so today I have posted a funny for you. It certainly cheered me up so if, like me, you have had both a cat and a dog in your home, you will appreciate just how true this could be! :)


8:00 am - Oh Boy! Dog food! My favourite!
9:30 am - Oh Boy! A car ride! My favourite!
9:40 am - Oh Boy! A walk! My favourite!
10:30 am - Oh Boy! A car ride! My favourite!
11:30 am - Oh Boy! Dog food! My favourite!
12:00 noon - Oh Boy! The kids! My favourite!
1:00 pm - Oh Boy! The yard! My favourite!
4:00 pm - Oh Boy! The kids! My favourite!
5:00 pm - Oh Boy! Dog food! My favourite!
5:30 pm - Oh Boy! Mom! My favourite!
6:00 pm - Oh Boy! Playing ball! My favourite!
6:30 pm - Oh Boy! Sleeping in master's bed! My favourite!


Day 283 of my captivity. My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength. The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet.
Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a "good little hunter" I am. Cretins!* There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of "allergies." I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage.
Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow -- but at the top of the stairs. I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released - and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded. The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now...

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Effects of the credit crunch on pets.

From the RSPCA website:-
Now we’re seeing the animal victims of the credit crunch. Abandonments are steadily increasing and RSPCA Animal Centres are bursting at the seams. The need is very real, and very urgent.

For me this poem says it all,

Do I Go Back Home Today?
By Sandi Thompson

When my family first brought me to live within their home. They cuddled and they pampered me and groomed with brush and comb.

They played with me and laughed with me and showered me with toys. I sure do love my family, and all the tiny girls and boys.

The children loved to feed me; and give me special treats. They even let me sleep with them - all cozy in their sheets

I used to go for lovely walks, often several times a day. They even fought to hold my lead, I'm so very proud to say!

These are the things I'll not forget - a cherished memory. for now I'm in a shelter, bereft of family.

They used to laugh and praise me when I played with that old shoe. But I didn't know the difference between the old one and the new

The kids and I would grab a rag, and for hours we played tug. So I thought I did the right thing when I chewed that bedroom rug.

They said that I had lost control and would have to live outside. I didn't really understand this, though I really, really tried!

The walks they stopped one by one; they said they had no time. I wish that I could change things; I wish I knew my crime.

My life became so lonely shackled to a metal chain. I barked and barked continually I thought I'd go insane.

So they took me to the shelter but were embarrassed to say why. So they said I'd caused an allergy, then said their last goodbye.

If only I'd had training, as a tiny little pup. I wouldn't have been so hard to live with, when I was all grown up.

You only have one day left", I heard the kennel man say. Does that mean I have a second chance? "Do I go back home today"?

It must be terrible to be suffering so badly during this credit crunch that you have to give up your family pet and I feel for those who truly have no choice. For us Penny is our family and there are many, many other things I would rather give up in order to keep her. She is our friend, affectionate companion, playmate, toddler, responsibility, get fit buddy, sympathetic listener, adoring fan, door greeter, muddypaw print supplier, stranger alert system, crumb cleaner system, lap warmer, foot warmer, shadow, alarm clock, reason to be home promptly etc., etc., We adore her too!

Today while walking Penny we met a very happy young staffordshire pup who had a great time playing with Penny, her owner said they had only recently rescued her from a shelter, what a wonderful 2nd chance they had given her. I am more determined now that if/when we get a 2nd dog it will be a rescue dog.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Use it up - Pillows to garden seat pads

Cutting the pillows in two was not an easy job, there was so much stuffing in them!

Pinned and ready to sew

All the stuffing left over, plenty for the next project!

From my material stash! Bought many years ago, at a bargain price, in Cardiff, originally for bedcovers.

The almost finished result, Far from perfect, I could have placed the ties better and I will be stitching down the centres and adding some buttons. They are functional though and new ones would have cost at least £3 each, I found 4 in a charity shop for £6. I had almost everything in the house for converting the pillows into seat pads and only spent £2.70 for the tape to make the ties. So I saved £3.30 over the charity shop ones.
Use it up Challenge- Pillows to garden seat pads - £3.30

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

The magic porridge pot!

Well almost magic! Another porridge pot used up and saved from landfill! We needed a doggy treats pot, to be kept ready by the door, so that we can get Penny into her bed when visitors arrive or if we go out. I can see a whole load of possible uses for any more pots that come my way!

I may not be blogging for a few days as I have yet more new medication to take which might make me a tad drowsy, hopefully it will sort out the dizzyness (labrynthitis). I still hope to get those garden seat cushions finished though which will have saved a couple of pillows from landfill!

Over the Easter weekend I read Dick Strawbridges book "It's not easy being green" and, before the book goes back to the library, am investigating the websites he recommends that sell green and ethical skincare products and cleaning products (although I do now use a fair bit of white vinegar and bicarb of soda!)

I have also started knitting 5" blanket squares, so I can use up all the yarn leftover from knitting all those fingerless mitts! 6 so far so a long, long way to go! :)

Use it up challenge savings - £1

Sunday, 12 April 2009

First Bee!

I hope you all had a Happy Easter! A quiet Easter day for us today, I have been having dizzy spells and didn't manage to get to church until the evening service, we were given a creme egg at the end of the service though! :) I am starting to feel a lot better now but have not ventured into the garden so the above photo is one I took earlier. It is the first bee I have seen in our garden and I was pleased to see it, hopefully there will be more around to help pollinate later on.

As chocolate is so bad for puppies, Penny has a huge rawhide chew to play with! Never have we seen her so content and quiet!

Thursday, 9 April 2009

From porridge pot to button pot

With the Use it up April challenge, I was very reluctant to throw away this container with its cheerful yellow lid.

After much pondering, this is what I did with it, using up some scrapbooking paper and embelishments that have been hanging around for far too long! I already have plans for the next pot (dog treats tin) and so I am itching to open another tin. The oats have come from www.approvedfood.co.uk an online company that sell food approaching (sometimes over) its best before date (not use by date so ok to eat) I found out about them on Moneysavingexpert (thank you folks!) These oats are best before september 2009 so perfect for our home made muesli! The organic cuppa soups are good as well.
I have spent £1 before now on a storage tin so that will be my saving today.
Use it up April Challenge savings - Porridge pot to button pot £1

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Simple springtime pleasures

What a lovely spring day it's been today! This primrose has given us such pleasure over the years, it must be about 10 years ago since Mr C bought it home and we planted it and it never lets us down, we know when this one flowers then the better weather is definately on its way! I have since weeded the grass from around it! :)

In the meantime I am catching up on the washing and ironing, I love to see clean washing line drying and to iron it on the same day seems to fill the room with the fresh air smell of spring. It doesn't take much to please me!

Tonight we are having a treat, 1 portion of fish and chips between the 2 of us, which is plenty but I fill the plates with veg as well. Then we plan on watching one of our charity shop videos. Entertainment for 25p!

Monday, 6 April 2009

Use it up April update

Not a lot to report as we had family to stay over the weekend, which was wonderful. I did however discover that the potatoes in my sack from our local farmshop, were starting to sprout, so I set to and peeled my way through half of them, making sure there were absolutely no green bits left to upset anyones tummy, and cooked them up to make a mountain of mash potatoes! Enough for 4 meals in fact! 2 of which we have eaten, 1 for tonights meal and 1 for the freezer. I reckon that is at least £2 saved!

I have a couple of old pillows to do something with and am going to have a go at making 4 seat pads for our garden chairs. I have some old curtaining fabric to cover them with. It could take me a while to finish this project (alongside more fingerless mitts to knit) but I will post about this later.

Still saving up the loo roll inners for my runner beans!

Determined not to give easter eggs this year, as there is far too much unwarranted packaging, I have ordered some additive free freshly made fudge from a friend. The boxes are made from recyclable cardboard and are beautifully wrapped up ready to give, or can be posted direct for you. The fudge is delicious, very like my Mum used to make and comes in several different flavours. I found some chocolate in the cupboard, so may make up some little chocolate shapes as well.

Just adding a recipe for Lauradeanne for home made yogurt in a thermos
Home made yogurt (Shirley Goode recipe)
1 pint (570ml) milk
1 tablespoon dried milk powder
2 heaped teaspoons bought natural yogurt (I used Yeo Valley organic) remember to take it out of the fridge well in advance to take the chill off it.
Heat the milk to boiling point and boil for 1 minute, remove from heat. Cool slightly and stir in the dried milk powder.
Cool to 100F very slightly above blood heat (blood heat is where it feels neither hot nor cold so just above that) Put the yogurt in a warm basin and add a little of the warm milk and blend together. Add the rest of the milk and stir well.
Pour into the thermos, cover and keep in a warm place (I left mine on the kitchen worktop) and leave for about 8 hours (overnight). Once the yogurt has set place into a bowl and keep in the fridge.
We like to serve ours with some home made fruit jam stirred in, turns into that fab pudding "Eton Mess" by adding a little crushed meringue (I make micro meringues if I have a spare egg white - great fun).
Cost to make 30p (max) for 1 pint natural yogurt using mostly organic ingredients.

Use it up savings - £2

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Power cut silence

Yesterday we had a power cut. We were warned it would happen (for essential maintenance in the area) so we had the chance to get up very early, get through the shower, warm up the house a bit by turning on the heating early for a short while, settling down with a hot drink, charging up the mobiles and toothbrush etc, etc.,

However when the power went off, what we surprisingly were not expecting was the silence, no radio, tv, the central heating pump was silent, even the builders working at the building site at the end of our garden, who have their own generator, were quiet, no electric needed for brick laying!

At first I felt terribly restless, even slightly panicked but we had wind up and battery radios, water, food (cold but edible) warm clothes, plenty of books to read. I soon started to realise just how lucky we are! Actually I felt more rested in the end, no constant bombardment of noise, wonderful!

Be warned though that the wireless phones didn't work, I had hoped they would hold their charge for a while but now realise they are totally useless without electric! Luckily we still have a couple of the old style cabled phones so I could phone the dentist.

We were out when the power came back on, J at the ms centre was celebrating her 70th landmark birthday and spoilt us all with a lovely spread, sandwiches, cakes, crisps and wine or juice. J told us that in her 70 years she had never had a birthday party and was going to make up for that now. Wish I had known earlier, she is a lovely lady and I could have baked her some cookies. I was kept busy helping out as much I could and the time soon rushed by as it always does when you are having fun.

It was then time to head home for a much needed rest, dinner was all sorted, leftover fish pie from the night before. I have had more requests for fingerless mittens! So I am still looking for bright and cheerful varigated dk wool but don't think I will manage to get down the town for a while, my legs are a tad lead like! I have enough wool to be getting on with anyway. I have saved a couple of loo roll inners from the landfill for the runner beans but that is all for now.

Tonight we have my son and future daughter-in-law staying and I am going to make them chicken everglades - chicken breasts wrapped in ham and cooked in a white wine, mushroom and garlic sauce. Fingers crossed it works!

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Rescued apples

Today I saved about 10 wrinkly apples from the bin! Carefully peeled and chopped and popped into my Mums old tower slowcooker, with water, brown sugar, sultanas and cinnamon added and left all day to cook. I now have 2 containers of spicy apple pie filling, not sure what that would cost to buy but the apples, being organic were around £2.40 and pie filling is not cheap, so I will count that as my saving - in the bad old days they would have been thrown!

As you can see the developers house building is sadly going ahead. Look how close to the neighbours fence the building is! Also how tiny the garden is! The leaves on the left hand side of the photo are from the tree at the bottom of their garden/my fence! I would want a lot more garden if I had half a million to spend.
Use it up challenge savings - £2.40

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Sheets to dusters

Well one sheet anyway! An old single size fitted sheet. We no longer have a single bed in the house and anyway this sheet was well and truly past it, so no good for the charity shop. In fact I had put it into a bin, then thought "Noooo!" and hauled it out, cut off all the elastic (which unfortunately was in a state otherwise I would have used it in the garden) and then I cut squares and rectangles out of all the respectable jersey fabric to make 6 dusters (perfect for when I use the beeswax polish on our old second hand teak coffee table, then I had one large piece left which will make a small dust cover for when we next decorate.

I can't remember what the sheet cost originally (probably £4) but 6 dusters would probably cost about £2 so I shall count that as my savings.
Use it up challenge savings - £2

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Use it up Challenge for April

Now I know you can buy frozen peppers fairly cheaply, but this one was an organic pepper, left over and forgotten about, languishing at the back of the fridge. I almost threw it away as it was starting to get soft but thought better of it, chopped it up and popped it into the freezer. It will a great little extra for adding to a quiche or a stew later on. A whole organic pepper would cost about 70p so half an organic pepper must have saved 35p being thrown into the bin!

It got me thinking about all the "stuff" we just take for granted and throw into the bin and add to our over full landfills. I don't know about you but I am feeling very ashamed of all I have thrown out in the past. We have been so very lucky in this country but we cannot afford to take that for granted.

So to get me into a new and more thankful state of mind, I am starting a "Use it Up challenge" for April and am going to list (and hopefully post photos)of all the "stuff" I will save from landfill. Anyone want to join me? Just post a comment about what you are doing or blog about it if you have a blog. I know a lot of you are already doing this but together we can start to make changes and maybe raise awareness.
Use it up savings - 35p

Monday, 30 March 2009

Hello! I'm still here, just getting used to the new prescription. All is ok, in fact better than I have been for a long while! I do hope I never have to take beta blockers again though! I managed just over a week and had to come off them as I felt so ill!

In the meantime, in order to keep focused, I have been knitting more of Elizabeths pattern for fingerless gloves. I took a pair into the MS centre for a friend, she suffers pain in her hands and warmth helps to relieve the pain, as a result I am now on my 10th set! lol! All I ask is a donation to the MS charity. It is doing me good too as I feel I'm helping, all be it in a small way, and it keeps me occupied and less likely to get worried and stressed. Above are a few of the sets that now have new homes. I am trying to find some bright and funky wool for the next set.

Penny has been great company, hardly leaving my side during the day and very cuddly. I am managing small walks with her again and Mr C gives her longer walks when he is home.

Today I managed to clean the bathroom thoroughly and also the kitchen, so I have achieved something. The rest of the house will have to wait, small cleaning sessions work best. Dinner is slow cooked beef stew, mash potatoes and runner beans (from last years crop) followed by apple crumble (using a healthier whole meal flour and oats topping) and soya ice cream - yum! Then I will be back off to bed to knit and rest some more!

Thank you for your messages, it was very kind of you and I promise to catch up on your blogs very soon. Hope you are all keeping well

Catz x

Thursday, 5 March 2009

A haircut, a rest and wateraid

Finally we got Penny to the groomers, now she looks a bit like a lamb!lol! but is a lot easier to look after and no more tangles!

I've been resting up again and adjusting to a different medication so life has been a tad quiet around here. One constant source of amusement is daytime tv and while flicking through the many channels available these days, I caught a couple of programmes on wateraid projects. Now here in the UK we have for most of the year anyway, a ready and available supply of water, we often take it for granted and that is to our shame! I am becoming more aware and have a bucket in the shower and for placing under the dripping bath tap (a bucketful will do as one flush) the tap is due to be fixed soon. I decided I needed to know more and clicked on the Wateraid site to find out all I could. I soon found this page and with Mothering sunday on the 22nd March this year, and although My Mum passed on 14 years ago (round about Mothers day) I decided to order 2 taps in memory of her, After a childhood of depending on a well in the garden and many years of living abroad with sometimes limited supplies of water, I think My Mum would have appreciated this. Please check it out, there are lots of gift ideas there and World Water Day 2009 is on Mothering Sunday.

World Water Day 2009 22 March 2009
World Water Day is a global day to highlight the importance of clean, safe drinking water, and highlight the fact that almost a billion people worldwide do not have access to it. WaterAid supporters mark the day with a series of events up and down the country. Why not contact your nearest WaterAid group to find out what they've got planned? Find out more at www.wateraid.org/wwd

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Water butt progress!

A sea of mud but at least the sheds are now where they are meant to be, as is the greenhouse!
The veg beds need feeding with compost and edging, the paths need sorting out. I think what we need most of all is a drop of sunshine! Our garden, although long is also very narrow at the end. Our new fencing is on the left hand side, our neighbour will be replacing the right hand side with similar fencing soon, which is good but will make the garden look even narrower. At least we can't yet see the building works at the end of the back fence, that could all change by the end of the week!

For any water butt geeks out there (I blame Gavin's posts for encouraging my water butt geekiness! lol)The larger water butt is linked up to guttering on one side of the larger shed and all of the small shed at the back. The smaller water butt (at the front)is linked up to guttering on one side of the bigger shed.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Birds of a feather

How pleased I am that these trees were saved from the developers and their building plans! I think the pigeons are happy too! A good tree comes in pretty handy on a soggy day. This was taken a couple of days ago and the builders are now back, the brick level is going up and soon the walls will be visable above our fence :(

Now our sheds are moved to the bottom of the garden, with the water butts connected, I don't mind so much, yet! I have the vegetables and fruit planting to plan. Today I found fruit bushes in Aldi and have bought 3 gooseberry, 5 blackcurrant, 5 raspberry and 2 tayberry bushes. That should fill up some of the spaces. I must get my seed potatoes soon and begin chitting them in empty egg cases in the shed. First I need some more compost delivered, to dig in to get the soil ready. So much to do and I need to slow down and pace again, so the knitting is out as I have had a couple of requests for some fingerless gloves from my friends at the ms centre.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Valentines Day Cookies

I've had some fun, I've made a mess! lol! and then I took these cookies out to share with my friends at the ms centre. Fun all round and less calories for us! I did make a couple for Mr C though!

Lemon Kisses
4 oz (100g) butter or margarine
3oz (75g) caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp lemon juice
8 oz (200g) plain flour
Cream the butter and sugar.
Beat in the egg with the lemon juice.
Fold in the flour and form into a soft dough.
Roll out the dough on a floured board and cut into shapes.
Bake for 10 - 15 minutes at 375F/190C/Gas mark 5
Leave until cool and then ice and decorate. We make a glace icing using lemon juice instead of water and it is delicious!

Off now for a proud mummy moment - my son is going to be on tv!!!! mind you it is about football lol! Tomorrow I am going out with my future daughter in law (I love saying that) and my daughter to look at wedding dresses! Very exciting!

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

We have water butts!

Yes they have yet to be connected, although I think the recent deluge would have overwhelmed them! That reminds me I must check the state of the existing water butt near the house!

I am so pleased to have these water butts, once they are connected to the recently moved sheds at the far end of the garden, watering the new veg patch will be much easier.

A recent photo of the state of play at the bottom of the garden! I know it doesn't look pretty at the moment (at least we can see it now the snow and puddles have receded!) but the sheds are now in their permanent position on hard standing bases, the new fencing is finished, the rotovating will be finished today and soon the greenhouse will be moved onto it's new base behind the old summerhouse. One bonus with having a sort out, we found an old window down there and, with some old breeze blocks, will hopefully make a cold frame with it.

I went to a "potato day" with a friend at our local garden centre but there was nobody about, no talks, just one leaflet and lots of bags of seed potatoes! :( Never mind I have my gardening books, the internet and determination - I will have lots of home grown potatoes this year! Now what else can I grow down there?