Tuesday 31 December 2013

Saffy Dog

Crikey, New Year's Eve ! Where did the year go. it certainly goes quicker the older you get.

Here we are on at Christmas lunch in our kitchen. My grandson is taking this photo from the sink! A head (and arm) count shows 18 plus GS.

Below is a sketch I did for my Youngest daughter as a little extra present. It is of her dear dog, who died two years ago. Saffy was a kind, loving, intelligent dog and I think that my daughter felt she wouldn't have another dog after her. As you know if you have read earlier blogs she now has a dog, Sammie, who she initially fostered and has now adopted.
Saffy used to love coming here (as does Sammie now) They live just over a mile away and when YD said     " We are off to Grandmas" Saffy would go and sit by the car. Saffy was never locked in the garden as she would sit by the gate and never go out. However, if YD didn't then get ready pretty quickly Saffy would set off on her own and walk to our place! She was often seen sitting at the side of the road, looking both ways before she crossed and then trotting purposefully down the steep hill to ours. She would arrive at the door and I would phone to say "Guess who just arrived?!"  "I know, I'm on my way now, just not quick enough for Saffy - I'm not going to tell her in future until we set off!"
We had no pictures of Saffy other than bits and bobs from when she was a (rescue) pup and parts of her disappearing into our field. So I cobbled this together from those and my memory.  It's not brilliant artistically, but I think it does capture her kindness.

I got the new "house" diary and notebooks out today. I always have a note book in my bag for lists, measurements. meal plans etc. However there is little structure in this, so I have determined that there will be More Structure in 2014!! I shall try to set a day, probably sunday, when I will plan the weeks meals and assemble a shopping list. I am ashamed to admit that I have no idea what I will spend each week, though I am always careful and frugal and NEVER waste. I don't have a fixed amount of cash in my purse and tell myself that that is what I will spend. I spend what I need to and if some is left in my account so be it, if not, then I won't be buying anything will I?
Now I can hear those of you who know EXACTLY how much you have in your bank and how much will be spent on food, cleaning materials, bus fares, presents etc. thinking "This woman can't possibly be as frugal and careful as her blogname suggests" But I am, just not ORGANISED.

 So if I have a resolution for 2014 it is to try to be more organised. This means keeping track of what money I have, Menu-planning every week, not just when I think about it and perhaps saving my receipts etc . Oh yes and I am definitely going to see if we can get cheaper insurance on the house and contents, car and breakdown cover.

Enough for now. have a a great time tonight if you have something planned and a peaceful one if you are hunkering down for a quiet night in.
Happy New Year to you all
Gillxxx

Monday 30 December 2013

Brie Parcels for tea

Hello Blogland Friends
I will attempt to proof read this post as the last one was rubbish with a round-about title!

Like all Frugellers I am looking towards a new year as an opportunity/excuse to make even more lists and challenges. We could do it at any time couldn't we? but it's not quite the same. I hope to have my list ready for tomorrow. If I do I will share it with you - whether you are interested or not!

 This week I have been processing and using up the Christmas leftovers. Why can I still not bring myself to write Xmas? My strong protestant upbringing forbids it, even now I haven't any faith. Just typing it then made me look over my shoulder - what am I expecting to see/happen ? Will I be struck down by a thunderbolt,? Will my mother appear as the ghost of Christmas past? (Actually, I would LOVE my mother to appear in any form ) I'm not a superstitious sort of person so what the heck am I worried about?!
Back to the leftovers - In the freezer and to be used in the next two weeks (while I am not going to the shops) are cheese and ham pancakes. roast pork with stuffing x several servings, cheese and vegetable pie, ham and pea soup, bubble and squeak, garlic bread,  turkey pie (for Adam) and turkey soup.
 Tonight we are having Brie parcels with Jacket potatoes, coleslaw and pickles. I bought some Brie for the cheese board and then was given a whole one as a present. Oh Yes!!!
To make Brie parcels - Cut the Brie into wedges. put a heaped teaspoon of pickle or chutney on top. Wrap the whole in filo pastry, gathering at the top. Bake in a hottish oven until golden. Done!
The filo pastry was from the chiller and had 12 sheets. So I cut the Brie into twelve pieces. I did half with Glutney Chutney and half with the red onion chutney made by EGD and one of the goodies in the hamper she made for each household who were at ours on Christmas day. As there were actually 13 sheets I used a piece of the brie I bought to make an extra one. Four pieces will go in the oven for tonight's tea and I have frozen the rest.
I've just changed my mind about what to serve with them as I have found a carton of yoghurt so I will make soda bread instead of jacket potatoes.
 before.....
 And after....... only just remembered to take a picture

 I had many presents this year, all pretty awesome. I have taken photos of frugal or home made ones as befits this blog. It would take too much space to itemise or photograph everything. Honest! I don't know why, but I have been overwhelmed.
A dear friend, who always provides the turkey for Christmas dinner.(Who, you may remember if you read a previous post, is usually named Lucky, apart from last year when he was named Willy- the turkey that is- not my friend) always buys me something from a charity shop and wraps it in newspaper while I make him something. This year he bought me three books from Help the Aged and corkers they are too.
 Here is a picture of said books. Dixie got in on the act, but you can't have too many pictures of her, so I don't mind.
 "Out of the Doll's House" by Angela Holdsworth is the story of 20th century women; "The Dairy of a Farmer's Wife 1796 -1797 " is a cracking read and great insight into the times and the third is a great frugal read. I have picked up one tip from it already which I will incorporate into my shopping list tips.
The next pic is of a hanging made for me by my god-daughter. the colours match my kitchen and it is already hung there.. I love it!
 Below is a couple of pictures of the gift I made for my Godson. He is a real country boy and earns his living chopping down trees, managing gardens and any odd jobs that someone might need doing. He is never without work as you can imagine. He would also love to have a smallholding and grows or catches as much as he can himself in his small garden and some of his parents garden. He keeps bees and rabbits and ferrets.
 I have covered over his name in case he doesn't want anyone to know he has anything to do with me! ha ha .In the file, in poly pockets (recycled) I have put a smallholders poem, a free preserve making book, from a newspaper, a jam muslin, a cider muslin, some bee records sheets from the internet, the starter recipe and some yeast for a "Herman" cake ( he lost his and has missed it)  a sheet of 1970s "homemade" labels, a bee cloth (for covering frames when the quilt is off) and a bee keeping apron that I made with some fabric he had given me in case I could use it. I embroidered a bee on one of the pockets and he doesn't think it is the least bit "Nancy"

I'll put up a couple of pics of some other presents I have made soon if you are interested.

Having put the leftovers in the freezer I realised that I was just about filling it and in a fortnight's time I will have two whole lambs back from the butcher and no space for them. What on earth was filling the freezer? Diving half way down I came across a HUGE bag of grapes, then several bags of elderberries, then plums and damsons and finally a large bag of blackberries. These were put down at a busy harvest time to process later and then forgotten. So this afternoon I have started making several gallons of wine and some cordials. Wasn't really on my list of jobs but hey ho. I'll be glad I did it.
 I shall get down to some paperwork now in an attempt to start off the New Year in as organised a way as possible...for me.. .I'm no frugal Queen believe me!
 That's all for now
Oh yes, the choice of names for the female Lucky was Luckina or Luckette. We opted for the french version and ignored the suggestion of Fanny.
Gillx





Monday 23 December 2013

A Happy Christmas and Peaceful Everybody

I expect  shan't be in Blogland for a couple of days or so.
Tomorrow during the day I need to get ready for Christmas day. In the evening we are going to an early party with YD before picking up our grandson from work and going on to a bit of a booze-up with friends. Home before midnight hopefully as Christmas day is a pretty early start as everybody arrives here for 12.00 when we open presents and then eat at about one ish. My friend  bought the turkey today. he always buys the turkey for us, which is kind of him. it is always called "Lucky" apart from last year when he bought it from a different butcher so said it should have a different name. YGD (age 7) was given the task of choosing a name and she decided on "willy". let your imagination play out the conversations over dinner. "Can I have some more Willy please?" is one I  CAN repeat! So this year we decided we would go back to Willy, until I saw that it was labelled "Hen Turkey" so we will have to think again on Christmas day!
 A large piece of beef arrived from our local butcher today too, courtesy of ED. We will have this Christmas evening when I do a buffet for when everybody else arrives. YD has bought and frozen 100 pigs in blankets ! Everybody likes these. I usually buy a largish ham for the buffet too, but the bacon/ham joints at Lidl have been so good this year that I bought two of these instead... and very nice they look too. Other contributions to the day , from the family, are the crackers, the christmas pud, cava, shloer, wine and a  brie so we are well found for food with all the home made  bread, pickles and salads. TGD and I made a trifle and a meringue today, which kept her busy as she is getting just a tad excited by now.
 EGD finished all her  home made presents today and they are safely hidden away until Wednesday. I have taken photos to show you after Christmas, she has worked so hard on them.
Anyway enough of my Christmas ramblings. it remains for me to wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a peaceful and happy new year.
A special thank you to those who follow my blog ( I do so enjoy reading yours too)
Peace
Gillx



Thursday 19 December 2013

more pallets

Hello Again
I know I am a bit tardy with the posts at the moment. After a rubbish 4 weeks with being a bit poorly I am on catch-up for Christmas. I had set myself quite a few things to make for presents, so am using every spare minute sewing or painting in the hope that I will be able to get everything finished.
I don't worry too much about food. We often have quite a few people sat around our table, so Christmas is little different really.
We will have 20 for Christmas lunch and another 8 or 10 will join us in the evening. On boxing day we go to our friends and she does everything, which gives me a little resting time. The next day is something I really look forward to .....processing leftovers!! Love it!

We have now made four trips to the pallet pile. below is a pic of the last load.

Thought it was time for another Chicken pic. This gang of ruffians mobbed me while I was taking a pic of the pallets. you may note the odd cockerel in there...we've got our eye on those!!

All for now
Gillx

Monday 16 December 2013

Bean sorting

Back to some sort of normality here, whatever that is.
Santa duties finished for the year and Adam's last visit before the new year. YD was doing a home visit for the Labrador rescue she volunteers with, it was quite a distance away and Adam went with her for the ride, so we were able to slope off and do the Ho Ho Ho stuff. Normally we can take him with us, but we weren't able to this time. So, non the wiser, he had a great time. When they got back he set  to work on the bean sorting.
Here he is, almost finished.
I finished another present this morning, so I gradually getting there, but gosh I'm slow!
I hens have obliged with a few eggs this weekend so i will make the Pavlova for Chritmas tea later and freeze it... another job done then.
 Off to town now. I must buy some crackers while I am there for us to pull at lunchtime tomorrow. It is our "Staff Christmas Lunch" with our other Shared Lives guys and a couple of friends who help us each Tuesday.
Love
Gillx

Saturday 14 December 2013

At the Opticians

Hello All.
Well, I spoke too soon , but I am DEFINITELY feeling much better now, apart from a stinker of a cold. On the plus side the cold is bound to be gone by Christmas!
Thank you for all your good wishes.

Went to Asda to have my eyes tested last Thursday. My last glasses ( I wear vari-focals) cost just under £400 and I determined to get a better deal. A friend used Asda last time he had new specs and is very happy with the results. A couple of months ago I supported one of our shared lives guys to have his specs made there too and that went well. At that time they assured me that they could do my prescription for £99!. So what had I to lose?
It was important that the health of my eyes was assessed before my appointment at ENT in the new year and  I was delighted to find that my eyes are healthy. My prescription has changed quite a bit too. So there I am looking at the rows of specs... don't you just hate this bit? Gosh I don't know which suit me or what to choose. The woman was really helpful and I decided on a pair similar to those I already wear. She then tells me that these will cost me £89 with my voucher (What voucher?- she assures me that I have one!) Would I like to consider another pair for an extra £49? As she said this the lens fell out of the specs I was wearing, she tried to mend them but the thread had gone in the hole for the screw and I was glad that I had a spare pair at home. So  No-brainer!! I said that I would have another pair and chose something a little different to the style I usually have. I am hoping they will be ready for Christmas.
D. has his last stint as Santa tomorrow and then the suit goes away for another year. Last week he did several turns as Santa on the narrow boat that our Canal Society owns and tomorrow he is doing a stint for the Fire Service.
 I'm a little behind with the Christmas preparations now, but I'm sure that I will catch up.. And if I don't, the world won't end will it? YD came over last monday and helped me to buy a few things on the internet which has helped.
Adam is here for the weekend. I have saved all the dried beans that he has podded over the last few weeks so that he can sort them all out into colours/types tomorrow. I really know how to entertain folk don't I ?! He will LOVE doing that and it will be so useful for me too. I will put some aside for next years seed and some for casseroles.
We have been offered  whatever we want from a huge pile of pallets at a local firm. What we don't have will be burnt next week so we have been taking the trailer and have filled it three times. Hopefully we will be able to get a little more in the next few days. Some of the wood is very good quality and D. keeps putting it away for "projects" even though it is suppose to be for burning!
 Need to close for now.
Before I go I need to offer a warm welcome to new follower Myshabbychicfrugalife and to Verity and Chel C on bloglovin.
And an especially warm thank you all for staying with me and bothering to read this stuff.
Night Night All
Gillx

Sunday 8 December 2013

A quickie

Hello Dear Frugal Friends
Just a quickie.
Been in hospital again so am being a bit lax with post.
I'm really quite well now, but need to catch up on some things before I lose myself in blogland again! (it's SO addictive)
Will be back soon with my usual rambling rubbish.
Love
Gillx


Thursday 5 December 2013

Nelson Mandela

Hello All
I hope you are keeping safe in this winter storm. The wind has dropped here now, but is is getting colder. At least we have our electricity and if we didn't we would manage. But there are others who are suffering from power cuts and flooding.

Oh Dear, just switched on the news to see how the sea surge is "progressing" on the east coast and hear that Nelson Mandela has died.     R.I. P Great Man. The world owes him much.
Shall write more tomorrow. Everything seems banal after that news
Gillx

Tuesday 3 December 2013

A raffle prize and a finished present

Back in Blogland at last!
Firstly welcome new bloglovin followers ..Wendy, Julie and Hazel.
Have been taking things just a little easier this week, while getting all sorts of stuff done too.
Last Sunday I went to the Local Food Event at Belper with my youngest daughter, her daughter and her boyfriend. The main street was thronged, as were a couple of side streets. What a huge number of stalls and a good turnout of buyers too. I was interested to see the stalls of the local community groups. It is always heartening to see local people getting involved in improving the quality of life for themselves and others. I signed a petition about the National Health Service and had an interesting chat with those running the "Transitions Belper" scheme, which takes an interest in, amongst other things,  green initiatives, recycling and community gardening. While I can't commit to giving time to the scheme (though I wish I could) I did offer spare plants and seeds if they would be of use. They had a free raffle, the entrance "fee" being that you wrote an idea for a way to improve the lot of people in the town on a card which was posted into a box. The cards to be drawn the next day.  I had a phone call.. And guess what? My card was drawn and I won the prize, a hamper!! I went to collect it yesterday and it though some of it was a just a little "Coals to Newcastle" it was  non the less welcome. The lovely sturdy rush basket was full of fresh locally grown veg and bramley apples, a jar of raspberry jam, some locally ground flour ( ground in a real windmill no less) with an accompanying recipe book and and a bottle of white wine...good eh? I was determined to make the most of the bounty, so today I boiled the beetroot, made a huge leek and potato soup, processed and froze the apples (with help from a friend who had called in) and cooked some more of the potatoes to have with tonight's dinner. I Bought some yoghurt to make some soda bread tomorrow to go with the soup (Cro's recipe)
 D. said he would come with me shopping this evening, so off we set for Sainsburys and bought some "iron rations". I also needed to get some unsalted butter for the lemon curd EGD and I are to make tomorrow. We got home and started to unpack the car and I realised that I hadn't got my bag !! I had left it in the trolley in the car park ...eeek! So I ran into the house and grabbed my passport and driving license and we sped back to the shop. No bag in the trolleys, so ran into the shop and asked at customer services if a bag had been brought in ? Yes, there had and could I describe it ?... yes  I could and here was my proof of identity. Thank goodness. I am now reunited with my beautiful bag that I have had for many, many years and the contents thereof. I am not able to thank the person who gave it in, but am extremely grateful for their honesty.

I have been working on Christmas presents again this week and at last there is one I can show you as it is for my grand nephew, who is only two and a half and doesn't read this blog... really.
I found the pattern in an old pattern book (circa 70s) in a charity shop and am really amused by how it has turned out.. what a character. Ladies and Gentleman.... meet Gerald! ...


The last picture demonstrates how I painted the giraffe markings on the "suedette" fabric that was in a large bag of material given me by a friend. I can just imagine little Marius with Gerald tucked under his arm, as that neck is made for the job.
Going to sit and watch a spot of television now while I do some hand sewing (another present) There is a new series on Pilgrimages which could be good.
Goodnight dear Frugal brothers and sisters. Many thanks for your good wishes
Gillx

Friday 29 November 2013

A Rubbish Week

Hello Frugal Friends.
Not been posting for a little while as I have had a rubbish week. Firstly I put my back out. Don't know what I did differently, but I managed it. I'm usually quite good at not doing things I shouldn't as I have Ankylosing Spondylitus which over the years has nearly disabled me, but of recent years has been better managed (by me!) Then yesterday I had another "episode" similar to earlier in the year when I lost my balance and was very sick and I ended up in hospital. So went to the quacks today and he has referred me to ENT and given me something to take when I am nauseous . So I am doing plenty of hand sewing and sitting around and feeling okay again now. Tomorrow I shall attack all the stuff that I didn't do this week and write a coherent blog (yes, I know that would make a change!)
So until tomorrow folks
Gillx

Monday 25 November 2013

More bonfires and getting started on Christmas

Hello Again.
Having lots of problems with the internet and the phone, so I haven't written a blog for the last couple of days or so.
We have had a good weekend in the garden and the field. D. and the guys brought in the last of the branches from some clearing they had done a few weeks ago. D. managed to get quite a large pile of small logs and the rest went for another fire this weekend (Adam is here again!) One of the other guys had munched some in the muncher (!) to put down in the chicken run where it is a bit boggy, but we can't justify doing that to all the branches because of the electricity and the ash from the fire is good for some parts of the garden and greenhouse.
Here is Adam yesterday, his second day of burning twigs - gosh, we know how to treat a guy!!
The straight poles behind him are for next years sweet peas. Though Adam thought they would burn well and we had to keep taking them out of the brazier.
 The family called in for tea yesterday, so I whizzed out to buy two Lidl (not big) chickens and defrosted half of the Christmas stuffing to go with them, I can soon make some more. So today I made a chicken pie with the leftovers for D. and Adam next weekend and then put the rest into the pressure cooker to make a soup for wednesday. Tonight we had cockerel curry with egg fried rice.

On countdown to Christmas now. Yesterday EGD asked me if I had spent the £10 Argos voucher I had. Frankly, I had forgotten about it, so I had a look and it expired today, so I set off hotfoot to Argos, which is 5 miles away. I planned to get a Scrabble set for YGD to go with something I am making her. They had a special offer on with 2 games for £30 (instead of £40) so I bought 2, which with the £10 off meant that I got one game free. Brill!
While I was in town I went into B&M (or is it M&B?) and bought  four boxes of red oxos for D. He has taken to drinking them instead of coffee or tea and at 15 calories a drink (I googled that) are better for him than sweet coffee. I also bought some tinned sardines and pilchards for the stores. oooh yes and some Chivers orange jelly and mandarin pieces for the old fashioned orange trifle I always make because it is YD's favourite.        A message for Cro here -they had Fray Bentos tinned pies too!
 I finished a project for Christmas yesterday and remembered to take a picture of it to show you after Christmas. So that's two presents down and only 26 to go! YD and I are going shopping on friday with our Christmas savings. We save £5 per week with my friend and her daughter and then we have cash to do the markets and the like. I also started a little sort-of sealed pot thingy about four months ago, which, it is hoped, will buy us lunch while we are out shopping. I have no idea how much is in there. We might have enough for a proper sit down meal or just a sandwich, we don't mind.
I think that that is all for now.
Welcome new Bloglovin friends. Please drop a comment in whenever you feel inspired to. Unless I am missing something - and I probably am knowing me- I can't always access any information on followers on Bloglovin, so don't always get a feeling for what may interest you.
Night Night
Gillx

Friday 22 November 2013

A de-clutter - thimble found!

Cold today, but fine, that will do me.
Had a grand de-clutter in "my" room today. This room is next to the kitchen and is always warm because Percy the parrot lives there. It also has a small TV and my laptop --- what more do I need?! However, because I "work" from here it is covered in documents, maps and books some sewing and trays of seed drying. There are two floor to ceiling bookshelves, which had got into a bit of a state and several piles of papers and files. Much of this mess was the post-research-for-the-exhibition detritus. I had found a couple of perfectly sized boxes and so was able to organise much of the paperwork.
I have taken a picture of part of the organised room to show you what a good job I had done. Looking at it now I realise that the tidy-minded minimalists amongst you may wonder if it is the "before" shot and if I understand the term "de-clutter"!

It's good for me and a HUGE plus is that I have found my best thimble.. hurrah! my perfect fit, silver thimble that has been missing for about 4 months.

 This morning one of our foster children from years ago turned up for a chat. He stayed for a couple of cups of tea and cake and then lunch. Someone had given me a large jar of coffee so I shared it with him and as I was wiping out the preserve cupboard, gave him a large jar of damson jam too. It's not much, but it helps a bit and his circumstances are somewhat stretched. I didn't want to pry or insult him but I suspect he is feeling the cold and his clothes are more fashionable than warm. I shall get some stuff together for if he calls again, as he will probably accept a Christmas present but not "charity".

 Adam will be with us this weekend and, as it looks as though it will be dry, we can have a bonfire. Adam's favourite job and an opportunity to do some more tidying. He also likes to push a wheel barrow, which is good as we have three tonne bags of horse manure to move!

 Enough for now. Before I settle down for a spot of hand sewing with my lovely thimble I'd like to give a warm Derbyshire welcome to Patricia from Tarragon and Thyme.
Gillx

Thursday 21 November 2013

Sewing and last night's tele

Little bit of a de-clutter today - the sock drawers! Not mine you understand, but the grandchildren's. They are always leaving clothes here and I do try to keep a change of clothes for each and also for the shared lives guys. What a mis-matched, holey lot there was! There was only ten decent pairs to put back into the drawers. I will explain what I did with the odd socks later.
I then had a look at my working shirts, as I noticed that two were was very frayed around the neck when I was ironing. I knew I would be sewing today, so I thought it would be a good time to turn the collars. On inspection they revealed I had already turned them! So nowhere to go with these, very frayed, thinning shirts. Too far gone for patchwork, I took the buttons off and threaded each set onto a piece of cotton for the button tin and I ripped the rest up.. more later
When EGD hasn't been working, or looking after her own house, she has been here with me making presents. She has attempted some sewing that has been a little more difficult than she is used to, as she only started sewing in the last few months.  She has done really well and we will take a photograph of it before it is wrapped and then put it on the blog after Christmas. I have been sewing at the same time as I am a two-machine household! While we have been cutting out I have save been saving the trimmings.
You know what is coming I expect -
 I sewed an oblong of two pieces of off-cut material approx 36 x 7 inches and stuffed it with the ripped  shirts, holey socks and sewing trimmings to make a draught excluder. Don't you just love it when stuff comes together?! (sorry about the quality of the photos)

 Note the loop on the draught excluder. This is to hang it on a hook I have behind the door, for when I don't need it or it is getting in the way.

Just in from the garden with some fresh parsley as we are having fish tonight with our Pink Fir Apple potatoes, parsley sauce, peas and spinach.

We watched The Tudor Monastery Farm again last night and thought it much better and really interesting. I DO love Ruth!!
Also watched Adam and Nigel's new series on growing and cooking their own food. Some of it was good. I enjoyed watching the growing of the Durum Wheat for making pasta. But, as usual, Nigel, who is a lovely bloke, wound me up over his "simplicity". Every time I watch his programmes, (which are cooking pornography) he says he is being simple and then complicates a perfectly simple dish with more (extremely expensive) ingredients. I doubt you will ever see Nigel at Sainsburys buying cooking bacon. Anyway last night they had asked shoppers in the street if they had ever cooked  roast beef. None of them had for various reasons. So Nigel reckoned that he could show them how to make a roast beef dinner SIMPLY and easily. Well!! the basting juice was a work of art (banana shallots no less!), the brussels had fried bacon and almonds with them (isn't that a meal in itself?) he also made a huge yorkshire pudding on top of mixed roast vegetables. The roast potatoes were "normal" as was the beef. They then invited the people they had interviewed to sit round a huge table to eat the roast beef dinner. They all declared it delicious.. they would wouldn't they, they  never said they didn't like eating it, just cooking it! Then Nigel and Adam smugly declared that the meal was a success and that they could hear people chatting together, suggesting that the meal had caused that NOT the fact that they were eating around a table. They would have chatted just as much if it had been pizza.
 And as for making a perfectly reasonable and tasty Ragu for the lasagne when demonstrating they could make one as cheaply as buying one ready made, I thought this was going well until they threw a huge piece of  pork spare rib into it to improve the flavour etc. That would have made another meal!
   Rant Over.
Getting ready to settle down to some cutting out and then sitting in front of the TV to do some hand sewing.
Good Evening All
Gillx

Tuesday 19 November 2013

The Radio Interview

Hi Guys
Well, this morning didn't go too badly. Both my daughters tell me I didn't sound a total t**t or too posh! So praise indeed!
I got up at gnat's fart and fed the animals and then got changed and had a bit of a splash -The smell of chicken poo tends to increase with the reduction of space and I thought a recording studio might be a bit smallish. I set off to the great metropolis (Derby) in the rush hour traffic, counting my blessings that I am now retired and don't need to do his madness anymore. I managed to get bullied into the wrong lane and missed my turn so travelled around Derby a bit until I found my way again. It was obvious I was going to be late by now and I could feel a bit of a panic rising. So I asked myself what was the worst that could happen and decided there was nothing bad could happen... I wasn't going to lose money, or a job and I could always pull over, phone the studio and tell them I was unable to make it.  And then there I was, 10 minutes late but safe and sound. As I pulled in to the car park a technician phoned me to see if I was okay. I apologised for being late and he came out and led me into the studio, saying  No probs as they were running a little late because of a particular caller. I sat down in front of a mic with my cosy head phones on and we were off.
 Strangely the basket of produce I took was quite useful in the interview. But colourful? Not too sure about that. here is a pic of the basket and contents
We did talk about the preserves and the makings of stuffing and of gifts for friends and family. we talked about living within our means and saving a little each week towards Christmas, about buying too much and thinking about what you really need. All in all not too bad.
The caller who was making the show run late was an older guy whose son-in-law was on £50k+, they had 5 children and he and his wife were losing the child benefit and were struggling to cope and may have to get a loan for Christmas. I was fascinated!
 I have nearly cleared the greenhouse today, just half a dozen tomato plants left to cut into pieces, bag and take to the tip. I never compost potato or tomato plants because of spreading disease. The very last kilo of 2013 green tomatoes is now sitting in the kitchen, wondering if it will bother to ripen or go squishy.

 EGD has just called for advice on mending trousers. She had a go and broke the only needle on her mum's sewing machine and felt discouraged. I have shown her how to sew seams and the wonders of wonder webbing for frayed hems. Hopefully she will feel confident to have a go herself next time.
 I'm feeling a bit tired tonight and I have still to fetch D. from the pub. Hey Ho, not long to go. It's tiring being a super star!
Anybody got any good recipes/ideas for sweet chestnuts?
 Goodnight dear frugal friends.
Gillx

Monday 18 November 2013

On the radio again

Evening All!
Firstly, Hello and welcome Blondie.
Thanks also to those who commented on my last post (toot, toot).
Had a call from the local radio station this afternoon. Can I come to the studio and talk about ... I'm actually not too sure really. Something to do with Frugality in winter/ at Christmas. Also as a smallholder how did I prepare for winter/ Christmas? So I'm not too sure is they want to talk about being a Frugal Smallholder or just frugality generally. I believe there is another guest in the discussion too.. but who? The guy asked if I could take in some produce I had grown too, just to add a touch of colour, which I am sure you will agree is pretty difficult on the radio!
So tomorrow morning I shall be setting off to Radio Derby (with my harvest festival box) I have agreed to be there for 8.30. So wish me luck!!

Below is a basket of sweet chestnuts. EGD collected them whilst walking her dog in some local woods. They are not huge, but certainly worth having. I have placed three Jonogold apples next to the basket so that Frugal in Suffolk can have a look and see if they look like hers.

 Just back from a talk on cycling across Alaska. It was presented at our canal society meeting tonight. While the link with canals isn't even tenuous, the talk was surprisingly enjoyable. D. and I made final plans re. his stints as Santa on the canal boat at Cromford. So if you have a young person who would enjoy meeting Santa on a canal boat and go for a little sail the 11th of December is fully booked, but there are still places on the 8th at 11.00 or 1.00.
Off to make a cup of tea now and a chill out for a bit. I bet I don't  sleep too well tonight thinking about tomorrow.
Until tomorrow dear Frugal Friends
Gillx

Saturday 16 November 2013

Hello, my name is Gill and I am... slim!

Sorry about all the typos yesterday, clearly a case of brain fade.
Well, "Life of Pi" was worth a watch, though did mean that I went bed later than I would like.
Had a sort out in the dry foods cupboard this morning and had several odds and ends to use up, including the odd date or two, the last of last years cobnuts, one piece of crystallised ginger... you get the idea. I decided to make a fruit cake and add  a packet of Lidl mixed fruit to bulk it up. I then realised that I had no eggs - Yes I know I have a flock of chickens, but this week from up to 50 birds I have had 6 eggs !!! it is verging on catastrophic.
So off I went to Googleland to find an eggless fruit cake recipe. 3 cakes now in the oven and I have no idea what they will be like, will let you know how they come out and give the recipe if it is worth it.
Some more sage and onion stuffing made today from crust from the last couple of days and a home made loaf that had gone dry (and we have no meals with toast planned)

I have been reading lots of posts, some of which I guess might be inspired by Frugal Queens latest blogs about loosing weight and exercise and also quite a lot about meals for those who are wheat intolerant. So here is where I have to make an announcement, somewhat along the lines of that made at the beginning of an AA meeting, which is ....... I don't have a weight problem, unless wanting to put weight on is a problem! I don't need to exercise or go to the gym, because I don't keep still long enough and even when "resting" my feet are twitching and I have absolutely no allergies or intolerances -of the food variety at least- I have plenty of the other! Now clearly I am no expert on diets, but for what it is worth, I have made an observation which I think might explain a teensy part of weight gain in SOME....
Before I retired I worked for many years in teams made up entirely of women. Many of these women were on diets -all the time! I know all about cabbage diets, banana diets, that disgusting Atkins diet, you name it I have heard about it. ( not too much about eat less and get off your arse more diet it has to be said) I would occasionally go out for a meal as a team building sort of thing, those who know me know I don't like going out for meals, but in the interests of the team - no problem. Sooooo to my point! (at last you say) Without exception those who struggled with their weight  hardly spoke during their meal as they were too busy eating. Head down, forkful into mouth before the last forkful had been chewed and swallowed. The cutlery never left their hand even if they stopped eating to have a sip of a drink. The skinny minnies amongst the group, talked and talked (too much?) and, gesticulating, waved a loaded fork in the air for minutes before finally eating something. The skinny minnies often left a little bit of food on their plate too.
I suppose I will get an awful lot of flack for this. You will say it is alright for me to be smug and judge, but believe me, I am neither smug nor judgemental.I am relating observations I have made. (and yes I know many people have a medical reason for weight problems, I'm not discussing them)
 I am SO going to regret this post! oooh er! What have I done?
All for now off to squeeze some chickens as i'm desperate for eggs (joke)
TTFN
Gillx

Friday 15 November 2013

My New Picture and more preserves

 This will be my new picture as soon as I can find out how to load it so that it appears on the side bar and as a follower (only managed to put it on my profile in the side bar so far) Angelsy Allsorts suggests I be a chicken so here is a  picture of a Derbyshire Redcap, so appropriate for Frugal in Derbyshire don't you think?
This morning EGD called again and finished off the shredless marmalade. The fruit had been straining all night and produced 4 pints of juice.. the picture on the left shows what she made from this. The picture on the right shows what we made yesterday. To the rear is the marrow and ginger jam I made from Frugal in Suffolks recipe and the jars in front are RGD's red onion chutney. She took these pictures and I wasn't going to show them as hers are for presents. She said it didn't matter as only her mum was likely to see this blog and she had actually asked for shredless marmalade in her hamper.
 The colour of the marrow and ginger really is very good. I shall be making a teamed ginger pud with spoonfuls of this jam in the bottom of the basin this weekend mmmmmm
After we cleared away my friend came to cut my hair, she had her daughter with her as she and EGD were off with their dogs for a walk. So the two girls and my friend stayed for lunch and after my hair was cut and some more friends arrived to borrow a map they wished to photocopy, D. and I set off for a cup of tea with a friend of ours, who we have neglected badly of recent weeks. we finally got home 5 hours later!. So after a meal of left overs we have finally settled down  and are going to watch "The Life of Pi" while i do a little hand sewing. and then bed!
Welcome to my new followers on Bloglovin
In haste...Good night dear friends
Gillx

Thursday 14 November 2013

A new picture? and a few tasks



Another bloggy question - Why is my picture not showing when I follow? Mind you some might think it a blessing !
I think I might change my picture, as the one I have been using is several years old. I still use it on Facebook too. So maybe time for a change. I guess it would be kinder all round if it wasn't a picture of me this time.  mmmmm what to choose  A Goat maybe? or a Chicken? or perhaps some kind of vegetable ?? perhaps I should ask you dear frugellers. But which vegetable springs (onion, cabbage) to mind when you read my blog? Heck I don't know, I'll give it some thought...watch this space.
 Today, I have had to throw away one of my slow cookers. I realised that it was not cooking stuff yesterday, after a few days of stuff not being quite right. So towards the door it went. You need to understand that, as yet, D. hadn't given it the once over and declared it officially un-saveable. So while I'm waiting for the king of make do and mend, otherwise known as makedo and bodgit to give his verdict I prepared a leek and potato soup to go in the other one. As I stirred the stock into the veg, there was a familiar sound. So I emptied out the contents, had a good look at the pot and confirmed that the sound was of a cracked pot! You know what I am going to say next don't you ? I put the pot from the electrically suspect cooker into the electrically sound cooker. At least I have One decent cooker now.
 I finally managed to get my garlic in today. I usually plant it on bonfire night, but what with all that has been going on I slipped behind with this. So job done - 50 cloves in.
 It looks as though there will be another, harder, frost tonight. I managed to take in the last of the dahlias and put them into the greenhouse, along with the spray chrysanthemums. There  is also one pumpkin and two marrows in the shed, which might be affected by frost, so they came into the kitchen. The marrows looked as though they might be going soft so I looked up Frugal in Suffolk's recipe for marrow and Ginger Jam.
YGD turned up to make the preserves we shopped for the other day and we added the marrow jam to our repertoire. And very nice it looks too, a lovely colour. (Can't tell you what else we made as it is a Christmas surprise )
 I have recently started following the Iowa Housewife. Yesterday she commented on my meringue post, with a method of making pastry cases that I haven't thought of before. Have a look at her comment two posts before this one on my blog (hope that makes sense)
 It might be cold outside, but I'm BOILING here! with (one) slow cooker on, three preserving pans bubbling, the oven on cooking a sausage pie and a quiche, while heating jars. it's pretty hot in here.
As soon as it is cleared away I shall go to the considerably cooler, sewing room and do a few lines of a present I'm making.
 Not too sure about last night's TV viewing. Hercule Poirot had a  couple of weak points I thought and I'm not too sure about the Tudor Monastery Farm yet. I've really been looking forward to it, but did find that D. and I shouted at the screen a couple of times!
 Lots of blogs to read tonight. Shall I read them before I retire to the sewing room ? yes of course I will!
Welcome Julie and Helen, I am so pleased to see you here.
See you soon
take care
Gillx

Monday 11 November 2013

Tomato and Bean sorting

Hello All
Back to my computer.
It's been a busy couple of days., mucking out the hens and rabbits, taking in the delicate plants ( not many of those as I don't really do delicate) burning twigs, bean plants, spent blackberry canes and all the other detritus of late autumn. The family have been for tea and Adam has been this weekend. Today EGD and myself went shopping for the ingredients for the rest of the presents she and I are making for family at Christmas.
 Below is a picture of Adam sorting the last of the tomatoes. he really enjoyed this task as he likes things to be organised and in their place. He was a little sad when he finished this big bowl full. However I had another bowl in the fridge, so he was extremely happy. The green ones are now to the side of the kitchen fire, with half the red ones back in the bridge and a the rest of the red ones processed for passata and paste.
  I then sorted through the beans, giving Adam the dry ones to pod and put on a tray to finish drying for next year's seed or into jars for cooking in the winter.   I picked some more beans  and ED and YGD shelled them on sunday  and when Adam comes next there should be several trays of beans to sort into colours/ types and place into jars. he will love that!
I'll take a picture when all the beans are ready and  give a bit of a run down an their uses.

Today D. has been attacking all the niggly little jobs that have cropped up over the last few weeks while we have been busy with the exhibition and the the re-siti ng of the memorial. The programmer for the central heating, which we rarely use, stopped working, the bathroom and study strip lights were not working and my sewing machine was playing up. So while YGD and I we shopping. D. set to and solved all the probs. What a star!!
I usually plan my weeks meals on monday, but for some reason I haven't done that today. I shall have to do that tomorrow or I will waste stuff .... and that would never do!!
 I also need to sort out D's " Santa diary" He has a Santa costume that I made for him some years ago  and he is in some demand as Santa  (  he has white hair and actually doesn't need a cushion up his shirt!) As he is CRB checked because of our shared lives work and provides his own costume he is extremely popular. However he doesn't accept many offers as it is really quite tiring and stressful.
 Enough for tonight
I'm thankful for the roof over our heads, while others in the world have lost what little they had to the forces of nature.
Sleep well dear frugal friends
Gillx



Saturday 9 November 2013

meringues

Whoops
Just posted two pictures with no explanation!
In Brief then (as I am cooking tea at the mo) The first picture is the first, and only, picture of the mini-meringues I made on thursday. This picture demonstrates how I blind bake the cases. I cut out the pastrey and line the tins. After pricking the base with a fork a couple of times I then place a paper bun case inside the pastry and fill it with dried beans and peas. ( I keep a large jar of mixed dried legumes for blind baking ) the trays go into the oven for 10 minutes and, after emptying the beans and paper out, for a further 5 mins. At his stage you can freeze the cases for another day if you want to.
next I put a good spoonful of cooked bramley apple in each pastry case before piping meringue on the top, ensuring that it buts up to the side, with no gaps for the apple to get out of. These then go into the oven for 4 mins on 200o and are turned out straight away onto a cooling rack.
Hope that all made sense, if not, it serves me right for rushing!

The next photo was taken by YD today after I took in as much as I could from the garden, before tonight's expected frost wipes out the toms, celery, squash, baby spinach and beans. I also took in the last of the bramleys and some beetroot and parsnips for tomorrows tea. The beans are the last of the drying borlotti and drying butter bean.
Back to making the chicken pie that we always have when Adam comes to stop.
 Will make a more coherent post soon!
Gillx

Friday 8 November 2013

On the radio and the TV

Phew ! What a day!
 Up at 6.30 so that I could meet with a reporter  from the local radio station for the early morning show. Talked aboutt he meeting tonight
Home to let the chicks out and feed them and the rabbits.
Started making my individual apple meringues. half in and the phone rings. it's the local TV reporter,  "Could he come and get a picture of the memorial ?
Yes, no prob says I. When I get back in the kitchen I smell burnt meringues. Oh B****r !
 So I take those out and put the rest in, fogetting to take a picture of the second satge before the meringue.
Fly upstairs to change my shirt which was a bit ditched now from cooking etc. The phone rings again "Can I spare a couple of minutes to complete a survey?" I very politely told her no, but maybe too politely as it took quite some time to tell her I had no time , and guess what ?! I burnt the second half of the meringues! Grrr. Now a few burnt meringues is not the end of the world, but I had already taken pictures of the first steps to show you guys and now I shall have to show a picture of burnt meringues with the middle stage missing.
 Round to the caretakers to get the keys and back to the hall. Where I meet an elderly lady who doesn't mix too much since her husband died a couple of years ago. I'm looking forward to tonight she says. I was SO pleased !
 The guy with the camera  arrives, we talk about the memorial and he says  " can I get a shot of you polishing the memorial?" Okay, I grab a tea towel and try to look as though I'm the sort of person that dusts stuff (I'm not)  I'm blabbing on about how nice it was to speak to aforementioned woman and he asks me to wait until I face the camera before talking, when he will ask me a question. I then realise ,doh, that he has a video camera. For the next ten minutes or so he has me polishing stuff, walking in and out the door to the hall and speaking directly to camera about how we came to get it etc. Thank goodness I changed my shirt!

 I wrote that yesterday, prior to icing a couple of slab cakes and setting up the hall for the re.dedication.
 I shan't bore you with the usual stuff I do wether I am organising an event, suffice to say that both D. and I and the animals managed to grab some food and we and our clothes were clean when we set off to the hall.
And I managed to forget to take a pic of the meringues !!
What a great turnout ! many local people turned up, as did a quartet of councillors and the mayor (and we didn't even ask him!). As folk came through the door several said that they had just seen me on the tele.
The raffle and sales of preserves raised over £50 for the British Legion - a representative of which attended and laid a wreath. The vicar held a (very) short service and then nearly everybody stayed for tea, cakes and a chat.
 A great night but gosh I was tired. I was in bed by eleven, which is early for me, and I even slept most of the night.
 Up earlyish to accompany D. to the hospital for some routine stuff. Home in time for lunch with one of our shared lives guys and YGD, who had come to look over some recipes and patterns with me.
 Since then I have answered the phone and emails and facebook messages which have been coming in thick and fast, just when I thought that I would be settling down to some sewing and taking a break from Civic Society stuff.
I have promised myself that I will deffo do some cake recipes and a couple of patterns for the blog tomorrow and get back to blogging about the stuff my frugal Friends  follow for!
Welcome Julie on Bloglovin !
But for now I'm off to make tea and then do NOTHING tonight
until tomorrow Dear frugellers
 Oh yes and well spotted Sandie !!! I have seen it now, all half a minute of it, with quite a lot of my left nostril.
Gillx

Tuesday 5 November 2013

Doggie Dishwasher and a new shop in town

Today has been a little busy.
I have been getting a couple of display boards ready for our social evening on thursday. I have also returned some equipment that we borrowed at the weekend and made some phone calls to firm up the itinerary and allocation of tasks.
 After popping to the shops, I then started some baking. here is my new dishwasher!
 This is Sammie-was-foster-dog-now forever-YD's dog! She thought he had developed some sort of ecema (how DO you spell it?) and then realised it was dried cake mix!
While in town I popped into Sainsburys for some cooking margarine and noticed this pack of "cooking" bacon for £1.10p. It is four thick bacon chops and a couple of bits. I cooked them all once I had opened the packet. The two larger chops we had with potato rosti from a couple of large potatoes from the garden, some scrummy, ripe, homegrown tomatoes and a couple of our eggs.

The extra bacon, which I have now frozen, will go into a quiche at the weekend.
I called into a new shop in town (Ripley) called Boyse. I am very pleased to see a new shop opening as so many have closed. This shop sells all sorts of hardware and soft furnishings  and...fabric!!!! Not a lot to choose from at the moment, but the assistants tell me that there has been a surprising amount of interest in this, so who knows?. There is also a pretty good haberdashery section, so I'm well pleased. I bought some material to complete a certain Christmas task and a few squares of felt for another.
 A warm Derbyshire welcome to new follower, Mickle in New  Zealand, who is also a cat lover. I'm also  pleased to welcome Pam from a Good Life in Tydd as a follower. She and I have been reading each other's blogs while believing we were following each other! I guess I need to sort out this sort of thing so that I don't miss those blogs that I have been reaching by "blog-jumping" from other favourite blogs. Crikey, another thing to sort for the new year.
Off to join D. and some friends at the pub -I'd rather stay in the warm really, as it has dropped cold this week. All the extra curtains are now up and extra blankets on beds.
keep warm dear Frugal friends
Gillx

Monday 4 November 2013

My Carrot Cake recipe

Great weekend, but gosh I'm tired! The maps and pictures from the the exhibition would normally be covered in polythene and packed away. However we are hosting a re-dedication evening for the village war memorial on Thursday and as many older people will be attending we have decided to put some of the smaller exhibits that contain old photographs around the room to be enjoyed.
Today I caught up on the washing and put as much as I could on the line as rain is forecast and then it will be a touch of of the widow twankeys all over the house.
I managed to strip about twenty of the bean plants, yet again before the rain. Picking beans in (or indeed after) the rain is THE wettest experience, from all angles. Today all the french beans came down and most of the Borlottis with help from EGD. There were few worth eating green but plenty for drying, so there are even more trays around the house.
 Tomorrow I start to bake for Thursday evening. So it will be carrot cake day.
I know everybody has a recipe, but hey ho here is mine and I shall reduce it to one cake's worth ,I usually bake in industrial quantities. So for a 9 or 10 inch diameter tin....
mix together
9 ounces SR flour  - half and half wholemeal and white is good but not essential
9 ounces sugar  - white will do
2 tablespoons cinnamon
pinch of salt
 then add
200 ml oil - rapeseed, corn or vegetable - whichever is cheapest
4 loosely beaten eggs
  stir and then add
 9 ounces grated carrots

If you wish you could add walnuts or sultanas at this stage. I don't do this as I am usually baking for others and adding too many ingredients reduces the numbers of people who can, or want to, eat this cake.

 Pour into a greased and lined cake tin and bake at 180 for 35mins. (or until it springs back when pressed gently)

This cake is good just like this, but is traditionally iced with cream cheese.  Which I don't do!  No surprise there then! As you will have noticed I use oil for this cake and so I continue the no-milk product and make a simple icing made with icing sugar and the grated rind and juice of a large orange. Spread this fairly thinly over the top only, which is sufficient and makes it easier to eat.
This is not an expensive cake to make especially if it is kept simple.

I have started on a couple of Christmas presents today, just to relax. I can't say what they are because we always keep our gifts a surprise. As I finish them I will try to remember to take a photograph to show you after Christmas. Also did the final planning with EGD for the presents she is making. I have just realised that I have used the "C" word twice now. oooh er! Must be getting closer.
 If anyone is interested I will put up the recipes for the rest of the cakes as I make them.
A huge welcome to my new Blog lovin followers, I hope you are enjoying following my somewhat rambling blog.
Until next time,  night, night dear Frugellers
Gillx










Saturday 2 November 2013

Back from the exhibition

Hello Again
Back from the exhibition and having rested by sore feet I'm sat back at the laptop.
Well, today was a great success. Not so much for the numbers through the door, though they were pretty good, but because of the atmosphere and what was achieved.
 People came to look at the maps, models and old pictures , then sat down for a cup of tea and some cake and then they talked   and talked   and talked. They talked to us and each other and to people they had never met before and they met old friends that they had gone to Sunday school with 70 years ago. Some looked at the exhibits with a learned eye and others with a moist one. It was wonderful. We recorded stories  -  "while I'm still breathin me duck !" corrected facts that we were unsure of and filled in gaps in our knowledge.
A couple of our members took a group on a heritage walk around our district, which has a rich industrial heritage. We are not always pretty, but we are interesting. When the walkers came back they were all ready for a cup of tea and a sit down in the warm (oh yes, and the loo!)
Tomorrow we do it again. I hope I enjoy it as much as I have today.
Oh yes! and the cake went down well too.
When I got home tonight I prepped tomorrows dinner (tea) I have made a huge lamb casserole and have the cobbler ready to put on top. Potatoes and carrots peeled, cabbage shredded. I have also weighed out the makings of a chocolate pud and some drops scones. YD will be helping out tomorrow (bless her!), so one of us will nip back to put the dinner on. When ED and family arrive they will help us to dismantle and get everything back to ours, wrap it up in plastic and put into the hay loft for safe keeping.
 Then we can sit down to a family meal.
 The fireworks are banging away outside tonight (bonfire night, dear non-UK friends) I was worried that Dixie our cat might be upset by them. (Unfortunately we don't have Annie our goat to worry about this year - she used to hate them so we would leave a radio in the goat house for her) I finally found Dixie asleep in a tray of beans I was drying. I stroked her gently, She looked up at me... and signalled "sod off!" so I guess she is okay with the fireworks this year!.
I think a cup of hot milk and an early night with a book is called for. I have a great book I am reading which is lengthy and very carefully researched . It is called "The Fatal Shore" by Robert Hughes and tells of the penal transportation system which was the precursor to origin of Australia. It is not an easy read, but truly Epic.
Goodnight dear Frugal Friends.
Gillx

Off to the Exhibition

Morning All !
--   and a special welcome to Kate from Pennsylvania, nice to see you here.
Just back from hanging balloons outside the village hall. This weekend  we hold an exhibition and some walks as part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Discovery Days ( what a mouthful)
 The weather isn't looking too kind, but we have done our best, so we shall wait to see who turns up. I cooked slab cakes - lemon drizzle, ginger, carrot cake and apple cake for the refreshments. My colleague reckons I should put a sign outside saying "come and get your five a day here". If they don't have the saying in your country, it means you should eat five vegetables or fruits each day.
The animals.who are now knee deep in mud, are fed and watered(!) and tonight's veg are prepped, so I will have a shower and then wend my way round to finish setting up.
  See you later and let you know how we got on.
Gillx

Thursday 31 October 2013

Running ragged and a Hallowe'en bargain

Hello All
I've been a tad tardy with my posts this week but I have been chained to my PC, printer, phone and boards  of all shapes and sizes, while preparing for our Civic Society Heritage Exhibition. There is much for me to do at this yearly event as I do all the organising of people and their exhibits, bake most of the cakes for refreshments and so on and so on. This week our chairperson has fallen ill with some virus and I seem to be the only person in whom she has shared her thoughts and research. It has meant that she will not be leading the heritage walk around the district either. So today I have organised another (different) walk by another member, phoned everybody and his dog to have the info changed and generally run myself ragged trying to patch stuff up.
 Gosh I feel better after having a good moan to my blogging friends!
 So what else have I been doing?
YGD came to stay on tuesday through till wednesday. We made flapjacks, toad in the hole and leek and potato soup. We did all our usual outdoor stuff - mucking out rabbits, picking veg and walking foster dog who was also staying for the day. We then went out for the afternoon with grandad to look at the new boat bought by the canal society and also had a look around Arkwright's Mill.
 A couple of years ago I picked up a hallowe'en dress from a charity shop for a pound. It was far to big for the little princess then, but fortunately I remembered it and pulled it out this week to find it fits her exactly after a few judicious tweeks with my needle and thread. She is thrilled and has worn it tonight at a little Hallowe'en tea with a few friends.  Here she is.

There is still quite a lot of produce hanging around the house which I am doggedly processing. There are beans and nuts drying on all sorts of surfaces around the house, trays of tomatoes in the fridge, boxes of seconds apples waiting to be frozen or jammed and a marrow mountain to be tackled (goodness knows what I shall do with all of the marrows)
When the Civic Society functions are over I shall attack the fruit glut I have frozen and the Christmas Sewing. I am really looking forward to it.
I notice that most people in frugal land know exactly how much money they have in their purse/ bank and how much they have spent/ saved. I think I should have a go at being better organised this way. I AM really careful and frugal to the point of tightness at times, but I don't think I could demonstrate this. So I am determined that over the next few weeks I shall learn from you all and set up a system for the new year. So ideas / methods welcome folks!
After my little rant about wheat the other day, I was pleased to hear from peeps about how it affects them. I received a very interesting comment from Kris, who has put a link to an interview with a guy who believes that the make up of wheat has been changed. As you know, I am rubbish at links (another new years resolution?) so if you go to the comments section of my last post and look at the comments from  Kris you can follow the link from there.
That's all for tonight I'm ready for an early night.
Gillx

Sunday 27 October 2013

Impending storm and gluten free cake query

Well our loins are girded and we are well stocked up with the ubiquitous Kendal Mint cake! (or chocolate if you are Simplesuffolksmallholder)
Over the last fortnight we have had two power cuts of a minute or so and one of 55mins. Does this mean that we have had our share of power cuts, or that our power system is a bit fragile?! The next 24 hours will test it I reckon, with a storm forecast to hit us over Sunday night. The south is expected to get the full force with the Midlands (us) a little less so. Today we will walk around the smallholding, checking the drains and tying down anything that might blow away. As three of our trees have lost large branches this year (getting a bit creaky, like us!) we have an eye on the others, especially those near to buildings and greenhouses.
 The poor chickens are up to their knees in mud in the orchard already, but at least they can get to the rest of the place now that the gardens are secure. What they hate more than mud is wind as it blows their feathers about. Poor things, they aren't going to be too happy are they?
Here is a picture that EGD took on friday as she arrived at the gate to the field. A goodly few of the chickens are scratting about in the paddock and beyond them you can see D. walking towards me in the distance. I am holding Suzie the sheep who was kicking at her sides, a sure sign of fly-strike. fly-strike is where a fly lays eggs deep in the wool of the sheep, which hatch into maggots, which in turn eat into the sheep's flesh.. Yes I KNOW! it's disgusting and upsetting. We cut away the wool around the infestation and scraped away the maggots (which incidently the chickens love) onto the ground. We then treated the area, which is quite sore as you can imagine.. We will keep checking on them to ensure that they are clear. We have kept sheep for over thirty years and have never had to worry about strike in late October before, but the weather is warm and wet, which are ideal conditions I suppose.
Some of the family will be here for tea today. I have bought a couple of chickens,, which is much more than we will need, I have also done copious amounts of veg - but I have plans for the leftovers..of course!
Two large apple cakes, using maggotty - less the maggots -eaters are now in the oven as I have started baking for the Discovery Days Exhibition presented by our Society next Saturday and Sunday and a dedication service and social, hosted by us on the following Thursday. I made a huge Ginger cake yesterday  and will probably start on the Carrot cakes tomorrow ( a great favourite).
I was wondering about making a gluten free cake as half the world seems to be gluten intolerant at the moment. Has anyone any good recipes to share?
So many people have intolerances nowadays that that  I wonder what is behind it all. As an organic grower and beekeeper I have my suspicions, but something has surely changed.. When I, and indeed and my children, were at school I never heard of a single child who was allergic to nuts and the child who had asthma was rare. In fact when I was at school a child with asthma was likely to go to a special school for delicate children. My understanding is that now many children have inhalers that they take to school. For a staple, like wheat, which has fed this and every nation for thousands of years, to make people ill is a cause for great concern.
It surely isn't enough for us just to change our diets..Are we asking the powers that be what is being done? Why have people who have enjoyed the usual diet of our country suddenly become intolerant of something that forms a major part of that diet?
Rant over.
Off to draw a map for the exhibition now. it is a huge one of the villages that our society covers and it is mounted on ply from solar panel packing  -  of course!
Gillx

Thursday 24 October 2013

Shallots

Here is most of the shallot crop.( I wish I had weighed them )  I have used a few already.
They are now completely dry so that I could sort them.

The jar, just out of the picture, is an olive jar from Lidl (or Aldi) given to me by a friend. I used it last year for the Christmas pickled onions and it was perfect, so I saved it for this year.
How I pickle onions - boring!
I peeled the shallots and packed them into the jar, sprinkling salt over each layer as I did so.
I then boiled up some malt viengar with a couple of sliced cloves of garlic, a few black peppercorns and a couple of tablespoons of honey. I put this aside to cool.
Today I poured away the resulting liquid from the shallots and washed and drained them.
I then poured the vinegar over the onions....... I told it was boring!

As you can see, in the picture below, I have sorted and tidied up the smallest shallots into the cage and made a couple of strings, which will keep well into 2014.
With the remainder I made a generous bowl of onions a la grecque. Gosh I'm posh !
This is really onions in a tomato sauce. ....
Simmer peeled shallots/onions in -
 A couple of cups of white wine.( I used half red wine and apple juice, as that is what I had!)
half a cup of tomato puree (home made)
a couple of tablespoons of sugar.
a bay leaf.
The classic recipe calls for juniper berries, which I believe should only be used in gin!
After  approx 20 minutes take the onions out of the liquor
Reduce the liquor by half and then return the onions. You can now add fresh basil if you like.
I don't need this immediately , which is okay because it freezes well.
If I were you I would keep tasting the liquor and adjust to suit.
So ( I've got to say it!) That's Shallot!!

Yesterday, after posting some more Civic Society Newsletters I set to work on the garden as it had stopped raining and the sun was shining.
I covered in netting - The leeks, the silver beet, the perpetual spinach, the beetroot and the last of the marrows and squashes. In the paddock garden the brassicas are already covered in netting.
 So today I have let all the chickens out of the orchard and they will have total free range over our two acres for the winter.
 All for now Frugellers
Gillx




Sunday 20 October 2013

Slow cooker bread recipe

There has been quite a bit of interest in the slow cooker bread I've been making.
I thought I would give you the recipe I have been using  in case you couldn't find it in Elaine's blog. I have altered it ever so slightly, though I am still plagiarising her recipe!
Mix together -
  20 ounces strong Flour
 one teaspoon of salt
 one teaspoon sugar
 3 tablespoon oil
7g (one sachet) dried yeast
 Add 10 fl ounces of luke warm water and kneed for 10 minutes or so and shape into a loaf.
Place the loaf on a sheet of greaseproof paper in the slow cooker and cook on the highest setting for two and a half hours.
 seemples!!
The first loaf I made was a mixture of wholemeal and white and the second white only.
I reckon that just about any bread recipe would do and I'm going to have a go with my usual, not so different, recipe that I  use when cooking bread conventionally.

 My slow cookers have been working overtime over the last few days. Sometimes I have been waiting for something to finish so that I could wash the bowls out and put the next thing in.
 I have made carrot and cumin soup; Tomato Soup; Bread; Lamb casserole; Stock from lamb bones; Chutney; rice pudding.
 As mentioned yesterday Adam was with us this weekend. Here he is sorting through beans. After he has podded the dried runner seed he and I will attack the pile taken from the almost finished climbing french beans (blue lake) Some are mature enough to go for drying a few were young enough for eating sliced and green and the big, lumpy green ones are yielding a bowl of flagolet.

Crikey those windows could do with a wipe!
Adam and D. finally got the guttering up on the workshop and not before time as the heavens opened and we even had a rumble of thunder.
I hope it keeps dry tomorrow as I will start posting the Civic Society Newsletter around the district. I will then try to get some of the gardening done that I didn't do today!
Will be settling down to do some mending tonight. there seems to be quite a sizeable pile to do.

Before I close I want to welcome Angela from Smallholding  Pleasure or Profit. Oooooh lots to talk about ! Good luck with the bread!
Back soon
Gillx






Saturday 19 October 2013

Meeting new Smallholders

Adam, our guy from shared lives is here for the weekend. For my recent followers/ readers the Shared Lives Scheme is run by Social Services and places adults with particular needs in ordinary homes where they "share the lives".We offer day and respite care to three guys, who I call Adam, Bob and Colin in this blog. D. likes to call them his "work experience guys" as all three like to work on the smallholding, helping and learning and joining in with everything we do. They are in effect members of our family. Adam has been coming to stay with us at weekends since he was 18 and he is now 43, so he really is like a member of the family. Bob and Colin come during the week, staying for the day. D. involves them with the community work we do. Some of this is helping to restore the derelict canal that runs through our village, sometimes we litter pick or cut back shrub and weeds.
Today Adam and D. have been attempting to put up some guttering around the workshop. I say "attempting" as after travelling to a not-so-near suppliers for connectors etc for the guttering, they found that half the stuff they bought would not fit. I think the language would have been bluer had not Adam been holding the other end of the guttering!
Meanwhile I was doing my own cussing while attempting to load and print out a document that the Chair of our Civic Society had emailed me. She had sent it in a different format to the one I usually use when printing out our Newsletter. Eventually, YD turned up and sorted it out for me, loading "cutePDF" that enabled me to start printing out the 250-odd copies of the 6-sided Newsletter. I shall do this over the next couple of days and post them next week.
Yesterday I said that I didn't know that people were going to descend on us yesterday. This wasn't strictly true as we DID expect a couple of women who were considering keeping bees. YD had met them when she was visiting them as potential foster dog carers for the Labrador Rescue . (yes, they were PERFECT for the job) They have been smallholding for a short while now and wanted to talk to someone about keeping bees. So YD invited them to come and talk to us. We really enjoyed talking to this delightful women - mother and daughter -and felt again the excitement and the promise of being new smallholders. I do hope we will see them again.

 Adam's favourite chicken pie tonight (made from left-overs from last time we had roast chicken) with mashed potatoes and cabbage. No room for pud. Phew! Good job - I hadn't made one!

Hello and welcome to Sumdayiwillc and pattyinstitches I'm so pleased that you have chosen to follow my ramblings.
I've had an extraordinary number of "hits" on my blog over the last couple of days. Looking at the stats the referring source is Rhona's "Down to Earth" an Australian blog I have followed since I began blogging. She had put a link to my blog for suggested reading over the weekend after I had made a very short comment on growing garlic on her blog. Rhonda Jean, who is also an author, has five and a half THOUSAND followers! rightly so - pop over to have a look if you haven't already -  she is HUGE.

The weather has been mixed today and it has been difficult to settle to anything outside because of that. I'm hoping that I can settle down to clearing one of the gardens tomorrow, getting ready to let the chickens out of the orchard for the winter.
Back soon.
 Take care of yourselves
Gillx





Friday 18 October 2013

A day of Guests

Hallo All
What a day ! Just about anybody that could call, has done! At one time there were six cars in the drive and I wasn't expecting anyone!
Fortunately, EGD arrived at 9.00 (with her dog) and helped me bone and dice a couple of small shoulders of lamb for a huge lamb casserole, which we will have as a cobbler on Sunday, with a few portions in the freezer too. I had put a white loaf in the other slow cooker first thing to see how a white loaf  fared cooked this way. As I was processing what was leftover from the lamb (bones for a stock, fat for dripping and residue for the wild birds and a little something for the dog) I realised that we had nothing to serve people with their cups of tea, so EGD made a batch of biscuits. She made a pound of plain mixture which she split into three... some broken chocolate in one third, some ground ginger and  crystelised ginger in another and the remainder plain. What a useful and lovely young woman she has turned out to be!
I managed to finish picking the eaters today between guests and before the wind and the wild birds ruin any more. Three buckets of decent long keepers down for Christmas and the new year. I might even sell a few!
Oh yes I also picked 10lb of tomatoes, which I shall make into passatta (is that how you spell that?) this weekend.
 So it is now 10.30 and I have just sat down to write this post and read a few I follow.

I have a few new followers today, who are from several countries.. How exciting!!
So a really warm welcome to Julie in Canada; Asparagus Pea in Wales; Winklecrazyidea in Norway; Ailsa in Western Australia; and Milow (I don't know where you come from Milow - do comment some time and tell us about yourself) I'm looking forward to getting to getting to know you. please leave a comment some time
I'm going to have a small scotch now and get myself to bed.. busy weekend ahead.
Not the most interesting post tonight... apologies ! I will try better tomorrow.
Sleep well Frugal Friends
Gillx

Thursday 17 October 2013

Quick Ginger Pud and my secret is out!


The bread I made in the slow cooker was really nice. It was not soggy as I thought it would be. It took 2 and a half hours in the crock, not proving, just a ten minute kneed and then straight in on high. The underside was crispy which was quite nice. I made mine from 2 thirds strong white and 1 third wholemeal flour.
 shall definitely make it again. Along with soda bread, which I am practising with - made with yohurt not a sourdough starter. Both these recipes will give us a nice fresh loaf  to have with our midday soup.

 Many years ago I used to do microwave cookery demonstrations with a group of disabled women. The following recipe is a bit of a favourite, takes little time or effort and is a lovely frugal winter pud for one or two or however many. Today I have used windfall eaters and taken out the wormy and bruised bits. If you have a large perfect eating apple that will do for a single serving.
You will need
 One large eating apple
One tablespoon of Water
One Tablespoon Sugar
Four Ginger Nuts (biscuits) Lidle do the BEST at 35-39p for 30
Method
Make a cup of tea.
Crush the ginger nuts into crumbs.  Slice and core the apple and place in a bowl with a tablespoon of water, sprinkle a tablespoon (or according to taste/diet) of white or brown sugar. Over this sprinkle the crushed Ginger Nuts. Put in the microwave on high for one and a half minutes... DONE!
Sit down and dunk half a dozen of the remaining Ginger Nuts in your tea.! You know you want to!
This pud can have oats or nuts added, which improve food value, but starts to get expensive. You can serve this with whatever you want to or have it on its own


 When we were travelling back from Cornwall last weekend YD made a huge lasagne and a pasta bake for tea (bless her)  As she was putting the pasta bake in the oven I looked to see which dish she was using and realised it was my megga chocolate trifle dish!. I use this dish at all our large parties and it serves LOTS. "I don't think you can put that in the oven" I said. "Of course she can" says D. "It is made of strengthened glass.. the glass insert in washing machines is pretty tough stuff" So my secret is out .. My trifle dish is the glass front to a washing machine !! Here it is....

Watched a bit of Hugh Frearnley Whittingsthall (?) the other night. What WAS he doing pratting around with those goosegogs for a preserve?. What a faff!

I'm actually going out tonight to a charity fashion show ! Yes I know! me! As D. said " I didn't think Help The Aged did Fashion Shows" cheek!
Off to the shower
TTFN
Gillx

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Apples and Slow Cooker Bread

Just like The Squirrel Family I've had an appley day today. I have sold all the cookers and windfalls I felt I could spare, so now is the time to look at what is left. Though I do have a Jonagold tree with a couple of dozen apples on, not quite ready for picking (This apple is a very good keeper and will last into the new year)  Below is a pic of what I bought in to sort. In the outhouse there are two trays of eaters and three bags of eaters in the beer fridge. As you can see these are are cookers and a tray of mixed windfalls. I have to say I started with all good intentions to process them all but failed dismally!
The ones in the front -Arthur Turner - were very disappointing and badly marked with bitter pit, which I usually get with my Grenadier but not these, usually. However I did manage to save some. I then looked through the Bramleys and put the perfect ones to keep, some in a tray and some in the beer fridge. Of the rest I par-cooked up half for the freezer and left the rest to attack tomorrow. Of the tray of windfalls I cut up and cooked half with enough water to cover. this I will strain to make a jelly with ...damsons?' Rowan berries? blackberries? Rosehips? dip, dip, dip  Blackberries I reckon.
So I didn't process everything, but did make a start.
What I DID do was make a loaf in the slow cooker. Brilliant!!! You know how it is, you look up the latest blog of someone you follow and then you have a peek at someone they follow and so on and before you know it you can't remember how you came to be where you have landed! Where I did land was at Frugal mum of three, where I copied her recipe and instructions for a loaf made in the slow cooker. It is so easy and the end result looks pretty good. I haven't tasted it yet, as I am waiting for it to go cold so that I can properly assess the success. but it does look BDG !
 Sausage and mash with fried onions, mashed carrot and swede and runner beans for tea.
My back was a bit achey his afternoon so I sat and did some mending and then put a zip in Godson's trousers, taken from some old trousers of mine- perfectly good zip, why waste it?
I am going to have another go at watching "Masters of Sex" tonight. I am particularly interested as I used to give Sex Education classes many years ago and there were not that many useful books on the subject. Can't say as I was that impressed with the first episode as it was very glamorous and pretty pornographic in a titillating, rather than an informative sort of way.
Until next time.
Hallo to those following on Bloglovin !
Gillx