Sunday, 21 December 2014

Last Santa trip

Here I am again
Welcome new followers on Bloglovin.
   We decided that the walls in the large lounge needed washing before we hung any cards or lights up. I know Weaver understands and they REALLY needed doing. We have an open fire in this room and the walls are painted rough Derbyshire stone. Of course it wasn't as easy as a quick wash and they still looked dirty so we ended up painting the walls ! Which of course meant that the the ceiling had to be painted too, the bookshelves had to be emptied and the curtains down and washed once down. No such thing as a quick job eh? This "little" job has successfully got rid of 5 days which were put aside for other things..... mucking out the hen houses, moving the logs that have been dumped in a car parking space and the wood chippings that had been dumped into the other; getting the bedrooms ready for the family; composing, printing out and delivering  the Civic Society letters etc etc. Hey Ho, back on course now.
 We will get little done today as D. is Santa again.. Even though it has been pretty time consuming he has enjoyed it and the feedback from the families has been great. For £8.00 a child gets an hour trip on the canal boat with  biscuits, mince pies stollen etc at each table. There is juice and tea, coffee or mulled cider for mums and dads (and grandads and grandmas) carols are sung by all and of course  there is an audience with Santa in the galley with a small present. Towards the end of the trip Santa leaves his galley and mixes with the children and there is another opportunity for a photo shoot.
Happy times
 The downside is that Santa has put his hip out and will probably need winching onto the boat!
 I'm off now to play at being an elf. Back soon

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Blog search keywords and Santa

Hello Frugellers!
Thanks for your comments on my game pie recipe.
Today a friend called for coffee. He had been visiting a friend who has an estate and who gave him a brace of pheasants and a brace of grouse which he thought we might like. I have hung them outside until I can organise myself to process them. MORE Game Pie anyone?
 Here is a picture of my own tame Santa, sat in his galley on the canal boat on Sunday. Do you like his little stove ? He definitely had the warmest spot on the boat.

Like many of you I'm sure, I frequently look at the "stats" for my blog. I like to see what part of the world people come from, which blogs people visit me from and the searches they use to find me. The search keywords are usually Frugal; Derbyshire; Frugal in Suffolk etc. A couple of days ago however I had a few new ones One was a nasty sentence about a well known blogger and one was "youngest naked"  and another was "alert.cofrugal"  I was both intrigued and not a little cautious when I Googled each set of keywords to see what the connection was with my blog.
 Well I still don't know about the "youngest naked". some of the entries were innocuous and referred to people being naked in the bible, some about the naked earth. One or two were purporting to be about peoples sons and daughters in the bath etc- I wasn't too sure about these and couldn't help wondering if they were veiled hooks to pedophile sites. I certainly wasn't going to open them. Yes I know I have a suspicious mind and have good reason to. I could see no links to my blog or anything remotely like it, so what was that about then ?!
 I could see the reason for the link to the nasty sentence as there were words in the blog that mirror the stuff I talk about. Of course, I had to open this one... Crikey! A blogger from the states was having a rant about an English blogger and the use of a word in her blog. As a bye she was telling her readers that things are so bad in England that we all have to wear blankets around our knees as we can't afford heating, we live in poverty and squalour and are in great financial trouble, that English food sucks and that there is no wonder we have so many problems with immigrants and gays. Phew! Anyone who attempted to put another view or explanation was given short shrift, with her becoming increasingly unpleasant and rude with each commenter that didn't agree with her. She eventually said that she was not going to publish any more comments and proceeded to make several more comments herself (an original way to ensure that she is not going to be argued with!) At the foot of her blog she states " Comments are welcome, Abusive or negative ones are not" Right!
 So world wide friends I have to tell you (yes I know you know but I'm on a roll!) that England isn't doing any worse than most other countries. The food can be exceptional or poor as in other countries. While many people do struggle to heat their homes, many of the frugal bloggers restrict their heating as a lifestyle choice not a necessity because they are saving, over paying the mortgage or care about the over-use of fossil fuels. As for living in squalor...all the pictures I see of bloggers homes show pristine, clean, tidy rooms. If she wants to see untidy squalor she'll have to wait until I load a pic of my house !!
 Oh yes I Googled the third keyword and still have absolutely no idea what the link is to my blog. As some say "Go figure!!!
 All for now.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Give "em a recipe

   My youngest daughter says I am getting a bit too political and to "give 'em a recipe !"
So I stuck my bottom lip out and stamped my foot because I have been enjoying the discussions, then Sol asked for my game pie recipe and I thought "Oh alright then"
 It's rather difficult to give recipe for this as it rather depends on what game I have collected, or more usually been given.
It is not unusual for me to come home from shopping to find half a dozen pigeon  on my door step. My godson often comes across a pheasant or two when clearing and cutting wood for people and last week my YD's next door neighbour gave her a couple of grouse as "your mother might like these" All this bounty I process by just cutting out the breasts and legs as I rarely have the time or inclination to pluck the little critters. I label these bits of meat and freeze them. I always have rabbit in the freezer  and the occasional cockerel and by Christmas I will have the makings of a game pie. As you all probably know all those meats are quite dry so I always add some belly pork and some bacon if I have it.
Turn the oven on to 200 degrees
Rough mince or finely chop the meats , weighing about a pound, and place into a bowl. Add salt and pepper, a sprinkle of dried thyme and a scant teaspoon of mace or nutmeg if you haven't got mace. Look at the mixture and gauge what size tin you will need ( I quite like to use a shallower tin than that which I use for pork pie)
Some people add Allspice, juniper berries or onion too, it's up to you really.
Now make the pastry
This a a hot water crust pastry, such as for pork pies (sorry if I'm insulting your intelligence but not everybody might know!) Shortcrust or flakey pastry would be cooked before this filling.
You will need
I lb Plain Flour
2 teaspoons salt
4 ounces Lard
Third of a pint of water
one egg
Put the flour and salt into a bowl
Melt the lard and water and bring to the boil. Pour immediately into the flour mixture. Mix this as quickly as you can. It should form a sort of paste ball. Working as quickly as possible, turn this onto a floured board and  knead until really smooth. take care the dough is hot! and needs to be kept as warm as possible or it becomes less pliable.. Put a quarter aside for the top of the pie(if it is a to be a deep pie or one third if it is to be a shallow one) keeping it warm. Mould the rest of the pastry into the tin, try to make the sides and bottom of equal thickness. Now add the filling, pressing it down into the pastry case. Roll out the smaller piece of pastry to cover the pie, pinching the edges together, you can do a fluted edge with scissors and add some pastry leaves to decorate if you want (not compulsory). Make a hole in the middle of the pie and brush the pie with egg.
Place in the hot oven and cook for 20 minutes. Turn the oven down to 150o and cook for a further hour and a half.
If this were a pork pie I would add the jelly here, but I never do with a game pie.
Allow to cool before removing from the tin.
Hope this has all made sense. If not just comment and I will explain further.

Tomorrow my husband carries out his first Santa appointment of 2014. The narrow boat owned by The Friends of  Cromford Canal will make three trips on the canal, full of children. The first trip is at 11 o'clock. His "Reds" are hung up and he is raring to go (not really, he's not in the swing yet so he is a little nervous) He'll be back to his Ho Ho Ho self after a few minutes. he will repeat these three trips over the next three Sundays.Phew! I shall go along as his helper and chaperone.

All for now
Thanks to those who commented on my last post

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Are you ready to fill your trolley for Christmas?

 Hello All me again. It has been a fortnight  since my last post..where did the time go?!

Welcome to a new follower on bloglovin, I'm afraid I can't tell who it is as everything has disappeared apart from the numbers tally at the top of the page! I do know that a new follower on the side bar is Irene. so a warm welcome to you too from a cold frosty and sunny Derbyshire.

Many thanks to all you good people who have commented on my last post with your interesting views.
Sol and Pam were commenting about full trolleys. The trolleys they were talking about were full of "coupon shopping."  Will someone do a post about that or at least tell me all about it ?

Coincidentally I've been thinking about full trolleys and had just started to think  about this post.
 The full trolleys I've been thinking about are not the full trolleys of mums with children, who shop for the whole week,(with luck without their help because you know how that adds to your trolley!) No the picture in my mind is the supermarket "Christmas Trolley"

 YD and I went present shopping last Friday. We have been saving up all year. We put £5.00 aside each week, which our friend C.  looks after for us. YGD and GD and C. are also in the scheme which we call "The Christmas Club" Last week she took the money out the the building society account and we were presented with our envelopes of cash. This means we can shop anywhere we like.. markets, street traders, farm shops as well as conventional shops.  Some crafting and a spot of ebay/ amazon shopping should see the many presents we give sorted. And I am sure that all the items combined would fill a trolley. However, this isn't the full Christmas trolley I am picturing.
No, firstly, it is the FOOD trolley
Firstly, let me say that I know that if you are working full time it can be difficult to spread your shopping out over a period of time and that Christmas can suddenly be there biting you on the bum.
 Until I retired five years ago I worked full time, ran a smallholding, supported D. with the B&B and our shared lives guys and my daughter with her children. So I do know what it is like to fit shopping in around earning a living!!
The Christmas trolley is quite another animal! it is piled high with foodstuffs (some couples even have a trolley each) Crisps and stollen, Christmas cake and mince pies and Christmas pudding and brandy butter, several alternative puddings for those that don't like Christmas pudding. - ice cream and cheesecake, trifle and chocolate torte, chocolates and tins of biscuits and sweets, pickles, nuts and several types of savory crackers, dried fruits and we haven't seen any real food yet - maybe that's in the second trolley. When you engage these shoppers in conversation (which I can't resist!) it usually transpires that there are eight of them for Christmas dinner at theirs' and that's it! Just how much food can eight people eat in one day? If they have folk staying over they have often planned for a smoked salmon and scrambled eggs breakfast with bucks fizz, followed by a four course lunch/tea and then there is supper and the nibbles. It's like an "All you can eat of the most expensive food" marathon. With the associated stress of the juggling act that is cooking an elaborate meal.
Which brings us to another trolley....
 The Christmas STUFF Trolley
If you are reading a blog with Frugal in the title it is probable that you will be using the Christmas decorations that you used last year (and many years before that) with the addition of some made by the grandchildren or that you have crafted from material from your stash. You will also have bought out the "Christmas tablecloth and napkins" You may have gone for a walk with the dogs and bought back some holly and yew and fir cones to "Deck the Halls" In will come the fir tree you keep in a pot outside and that gets bigger each year until it has to be planted in the garden, or the artificial tree from the loft, or maybe you paint branches to hang  your decorations on.
Mmmm.... not the full trolley brigade. They have to change the colour scheme each year, from tree to decorations to the colour-schemed "Christmas table" This may include a whole new set of cutlery and crockery, napkins and rings, centre pieces and candles, all must match in this years' latest colour that the shops have brain-washed the Christmas Stuff shopper into needing. (I noticed a lot of pale aqua this year, I wonder if that is the latest Christmas colour?)
 I have just touched on the contents of these trolleys  and I do hope you can add to these.
Or shoot me down in flames!
 I'm sounding like I don't like Christmas or that we are going to sit in our cold house with a blanket around our knees eating stew and dumplings on our own because we are too tight to spend anything. Not so!
This is the picture I posted last year of Christmas lunch at our house.....
It will be the same this year.
In  the early evening we will push one of the tables back (return the other to another room) and put a  buffet out that will stay there all evening as my sister and nephews and their families and random friends arrive. (open house.. pop in if you are passing, but if you want to stay over you may need to share a bed or sleep on a sofa!)
All for now.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Price War..Good or Bad?

I see that Asda is ramping up the price war.
In the short term this has to be good for those of us who have a limited income. But long term?
Rest assured that the price cuts will not be taken by the supermarkets, they will betaken by the farmers, growers and producers.
 Already the price war over milk has led many farmers to the brink of bankruptcy. Many have just given up as it is not sustainable as they are earning, in real terms, about £2.00 an hour. Is this what we want ?Who wants to earn £2.00 an hour to work high days and holidays, weekends evenings and early morning 365 days a year?   Have we got so obsessed with being frugal that we are now just plain selfish and mean, not caring about the impact of us grabbing yet another bargain?
Nobody is worse than I at grabbing a bargain. if you will read my last post I have even posted a picture of three really cheap products I bought the other day. - Sugar, Veggie Oxo and toothpaste (with a free toothbrush)  I know next to nothing about how or where the latter two are made and where, but I do know that half of the sugar we use is now produced in this country ..Hurrah!...but are we now squeazing these farmers to take less and less profit so that supermarkets can sell cheap, while not loosing themselves? How long will these farmers consider it worth their while ?
Will (cheap or otherwise) imports be the answer? Do we want to become dependent on other countries for products over which we have no control, either for quality, availability or price? As the world struggles to feed an ever-growing population where will it leave us if these producers realise that they need to feed their own?
 Just a few thoughts. Gosh I've really "got it on me" this week haven't I?!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Update on the week and a pic of the Grandson!

 Hello Fellow Frugellers
Hello to Retireewannabe on the Follower bar I have been reading you blog for a little while now I should go over there and click on too. I see I have a couple of new followers on Blog lovin, but the list of names have been juggled, so I cannot work out who they are. You are welcome non-the-less.

This is the post I started before I "went off on one" and wrote about Guns. Thank you for all the thought provoking posts, which I am determined to answer ( apart from two that seemed to miss the point)

To update you on the past week
. My nephew. P's funeral was last Thursday. What a huge turnout. The firm he worked for closed the factory and several cars and a coach all full of people he worked with attended. The room was packed to bursting, with rows of people standing. What a send off! His children read a poem together, his wife said a few words and his two brothers gave a lovely warm speech that made us laugh and cry in equal measure. We sang "Dear Lord and Father of Mankind" Which our family has at weddings and funerals alike and "O love that will not let me go" which no one  knew the tune to and had such high notes that non of us could sing. Afterwards everyone went to a local hotel and reminisced and gossiped generally. My eldest daughter and my sister's youngest son had been to the hotel in the morning and put up lots of pictures of P. around the room, which were really nice to look at.

We returned home in the late afternoon, hoping that the fox hadn't spotted we were out, put the chickens to bed and raced round to the village hall in time to help set up for the Remembrance Evening. This too was very well attended. The Mayor and Mayoress of the nearest town turned up and thanked me for inviting them. Which was nice as we didn't ! but it was good to see them and the older residents were pleased at their attendance.
 Everyone had  a nice time, staying on after the little service for tea and cakes and a look at the histories we are collecting on each person named on the memorial.
Finally, everyone left, we cleared up and went home, totally Kn******d and emotionally drained.
Good day though!

A few random pics for you now...
Can you see the visitor to our beehives? He doesn't appear to have lady friend and our cockerel keeps eyeing him up in case the pheasant is considering a cross species coupling !
 Thought I would share these bargains with you... from Poundstretcher and B&M
 18 veggie cubes for 89p from B&M and 1kg sugar and a large tube of toothpaste for 49p each.. and you get a free tooth brush as well. I bought quite a few bags of the sugar for the store cupboard and a years supply of toothpaste.
My daughter considers this the saddest pic I have shown yet!

On Sunday the family were here for tea  including GS who is usually at work .  How times change.. After nearly two years working as a barman in a small village pub, where everyone pulls their weight to make a pub run smoothly, here he is... Seeing some pots needed washing,, he rolls up his sleeves and sets to.! GS is a great individual, who for many years has struggled to see the world as others do, struggled with social occasions and struggled to work in a team.( He has more than a passing resemblance to Sheldon from the Big bang theory in many ways !) Now look at him.  We are so proud of him!!
Enough for tonight.
 Thanks to Sue  (SSS) for the heads up on the "Secrets of the Castle " Series with Ruth Goodman et al on TV tonight. I have put it on to series record. Hope it's a good one.
Night All

Monday, 17 November 2014

Would YOU use a gun?

Hello All
 I was going to write about all sorts of frugelly things and tell you about my week, but have postponed that until tomorrow(?) as I feel inspired the talk about something different.

Like many of you British smallholders I follow several American/Canadian Homesteaders. I love to read about the climate extremes, about living off-grid, the crops they grow and many other subjects.
 A few months ago I joined the facebook page Farm-chat Girls ( yes I KNOW I'm not a girl, but I used to be and the term "Girl" tends to be used pretty loosely on this page). Anyway, back to my point. I usually find much to relate to and agree with, but last week there was a post by a homesteader, who asked if others thought she was paranoid and overly protective because she used a gun and had fences around her property to keep people out. She had many replies from women who agreed wholeheartedly, who don't want anyone on their property at all, Don't trust the incomers from the towns, which are getting closer to them , Nor being happy about being on their own in the remote places that they have chosen to live in because they are remote and they don't like people. They tell of putting up signs saying trespassers will be shot, fix it so that the meters are read from outside the property or electronically so that even the meter man  needn't access the property.. And so on.... I stuck my head above the parapet and said that my doors and gates were open and the gates that were closed were to keep sheep in and dogs from going on the road. (and that our gas man was a good bloke and actually came into the house to read the meter) A couple replied to my comment, one of which told me that she had had a large amount of  expensive fencing stolen and so didn't feel she could trust anybody and needed to defend her property..
I didn't keep the conversation going as I didn't want to set off a major argument, but I wanted to say that shooting someone because they stole from you or trespassed on your property, seems a little extreme. ( not to mention that you would be locked up in this country if you did!)
 Not that they want me to, but I felt rather sorry for these women, who seem to live in fear, distrust and feel they don't need their fellow man. These women are all Practicing Christians. You might ask where that comes in the equation and normally for me it wouldn't, but their references to the bible, prayer, thanksgiving etc. positively litter most of the posts. Killing people is not something the God I was taught about would have been happy with. I need to honest here and say that I am no longer a Christian, nor a believer in God-who-made-all, but do accept that others do and respect this.

 What do you think ? Am I naive ? Insensitive? Plain wrong?
 I'd love to hear, while almost fearful of your answers.

Hope there are not too many typos, but am in haste and  about to go out to listen to what the leader of the Green Party has to say. She is speaking in Belper tonight.