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!