Sunday 28 December 2014

Quick update and a question for you.

Thank you all so much for your good wishes and comments on my last post.
Welcome to Frugal in Essex, Sara and Ist Man on the follower bar and Lisa and Barbara on Blog lovin
 We've had the first proper winter here, with a goodly fall of snow on boxing day and freezing temperatures since, so that the slow is still with us. D. has been quite unwell with a chest infection and a dose of the Christmas lurgy that everyone (apart from me) seems to have this year.. I have been bringing in wood for the fire and the bonus of the snow is that I have bought it to the house from the log pile on a sledge!! I feel like Laura Ingalls Wilder in "The Long Winter".
I won't bore you with a list of the presents I received. I am sure each will make an appearance over the next few weeks in their turn. The present I am playing with today is the sewing machine that my daughters and granddaughter have bought me between them. It's a Brother and can be carried around, Unlike my mother's machine which is set into a table,(I had this machine serviced a year ago and it still isn't  too reliable) I also have my trusty treadle which I love. This new little number does all sorts of things. I suspect that they are also trying to encourage me to to start up a sewing group in the village hall and I would be able to take my new machine along. Crafty of them in more ways than one!
I also won't bore you with a list of the leftovers that I had such fun processing yesterday. Suffice to say that there were plenty and several meals are now in the fridge or freezer to help us through January.

Three old people in the village have died. over the last month and this makes me feel mortal! I have been thinking of what will happen when my time comes. Maudlin I know.
My youngest daughter has taken up sewing again (she is a very good machine sewer) after helping her daughter with my "surprise" quilt (Christmas present) and realised that much of her sewing equipment was missing, When her daughter told me this I started to collect equipment for her and put them in a tin for a Christmas present. One of the items I put in the tin was my mother's thimble . This thimble's value is purely sentimental. I tied a little label  with my mother's name written on it and when YD discovered this she burst into tears. (she and her sister adored my mother)
I have one or two little mementos belonging to my mother and my grand mother (none of which has any monetary value). So my question is this... should I pass these bits and bobs onto my daughters now while I have the pleasure of giving them and passing on the stories that go with them? Or should I leave them as they are and they will find them when the black rabbit has called for me?
 Over to you.

PS The hens have started to lay again. Hurrah!

Tuesday 23 December 2014

A Peaceful Christmas to you

Hello Dear Bloggy Friends
Time marches on and there appears to be little left that could be called spare before Christmas day. So I will post my good wishes to you while I can.
Above all I wish you a peaceful Christmas. Not peaceful as in quiet (unless that is what you prefer) With 16 for lunch and another 12 joining us in the evening our house will hardly be quiet, but I hope it is peaceful and not quarrelsome! I always feel lucky to have a family that gets on well together and understands and respects their differences. (When I worked for Social Services many families feared Christmas and not without reason)
 The beds are all made, though there is still the vacuuming and a quick wipe round to be done.  I will prep the veg tomorrow afternoon, as from tomorrow teatime we are either visiting or being visited.
 Whatever isn't done by tomorrow teatime will not get done, Those who will spend Christmas with us are either family or friends so close that we think of them as family and I don't need to impress them do I? They all muck in anyway!

 Have a wonderful time in whatever way suits you and makes you happy.

Love Gill x

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.