Monday, 30 March 2015

I don't know what to spend my money on ... !

No I haven't suddenly won the lottery !  I'm talking about Sainsburys promotion on at the moment where they will double up on Nectar points.

I have £129.00 on my card, I don't spend much at all as you've probably guessed, but it's mounted up quite quickly because I use their money saving coupons plus double points on petrol.

I was going to use it at Christmas, but I didn't need too, and anyway I would like to use it for something I need myself.  So that means I could buy items to the value of £258.00 - wow !  That's household, entertainment and clothing.

I've had a think and a look around Sainsbury's but there's nothing I need right now.  My microwave could do with replacing for cosmetic reasons, but it's still working perfectly, so I'll hang on before changing that.

What I would like is a mini-oven like this :

I'm not fussed about having rings on top, I only use one usually for my steamer, but  I would like one with a grill.  The cooker in my rented home is on it's last legs and the grill doesn't work, so that would be nice but I don't think Sainsbury's stock them, at least mine doesn't, I'll have to check online.

Anyway, at the moment I'll just keep adding to the points until I need something else.

It certainly is a great offer, I'm sure it will be repeated in a few months time.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Trying to make better use of the microwave to save energy ...

Lately I've been making an effort to use the microwave 'properly'  and not just for warming stuff up and the occasional baked potato.  It's all very well to say use your oven to it's full capacity i.e. bake cakes whilst the roast is cooking, fill it with bread not just one loaf, cook several meals at once etc. etc., but I don't know about you, but unlike other online domestic Goddesses, I don't always feel like doing all that, quite frankly most of the time I'm knackered ! hence my quest for easy to remember microwave shortcuts.

I tried an egg custard last night.  I love egg custard.  The recipe was OK but a little watery.  Now this can happen with a conventionally oven-cooked custard and the way I fix that is to whisk in a couple of spoons of dried powdered milk before cooking and that thickens it up and gives a lovely creamy taste, so I'll be trying that with the microwave version too.

I used three eggs, three quarters pint of milk, sugar (to taste, I don't like much) nutmeg if liked, I didn't use the nutmeg on this experiment.

First I heated the milk in the microwave on high for 3 minutes whilst whisking the eggs and sugar as normal, then whisked it altogether, add the nutmeg if liked, then put it back in the microwave for 3 minutes.  Take it out and stir/whisk again, then you are supposed to put it back in for 5 minutes, but I didn't have the courage to do that, so I took it out another twice to stir in the 'lumps' before it was cooked.  Next time I'll leave it for the full 5 minutes and see how it turns out.

Anyway, the taste was just the same as an oven-cooked custard, just a few tweeks  and I reckon it will be fine.  Certainly an energy saver.

I make porridge regularly in the Micro, and have now incorporated a fantastically quick sponge pudding which can be cooked in a mug, egg on toast, and now egg custard.  Yes I now I have a long way to go and there are probably zillions of you out there that use your microwave to it's full potential already, but I'm slow in catching on so bear with me.

Next I'm going to try a fruit cake and cheese sauce - not together of course ! but these are the next two 'energy saving' recipes I want to try, also, cooking in the microwave cuts out all the horrible sticky washing up involved in things like porridge, sauces etc., and I'm all for that.

Here's the link to the recipe for the quick pud if you missed it:

Have a nice weekend then,  I'll be doing a little 'basic' weeding, some walking (still breaking in my new boots) some crafting for Etsy and some more microwave experiments.  Do the clocks change this weekend ?  I must check that out, I never remember !

Thursday, 26 March 2015

3 into 2 WON'T go ... !

Whatever is going on in the minds of the road planners these days ?

I had to take a friend to the emergency hospital in Shrewsbury today and had to negotiate three 'new style' traffic roundabouts - what a nightmare !

Back in the day, approaching an island, the inside lane meant you were turning left, middle one meant you were going straight ahead, and the outside one meant you were turning right.

Oh no, that was too easy wasn't it ?  it's all changed now.  Approaching the island in one of three lanes is the same but when you get half way around, the three lanes suddenly merge into two !  no-one seems to know where they are supposed to be , it is a complete shambles, and lots of accidents are just waiting to happen.

This is one of my worst nightmares and my case was proved right this morning when I saw two cars collide directly in front of me - just feet away.  I couldn't blame either of them neither knew where they were supposed to be, no road markings on this new roundabout to help, I just managed to stear away to the right to avoid being involved.
How stupid this new system is.  I've spoken to taxi drivers who also have trouble knowing which lane they are supposed to be in and even bus drivers are struggling to get it right.

Madness !!!

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Fabulous fabric bargains ...

I'm always looking for fabric to use for patchwork/rag rugs etc., I refuse to buy new off a roll, to me it's a complete waste of money, you get so much more from a duvet cover or sheets.  I love to see all those cutesy 'fat quarters' though, but would never buy them.  I also love used fabrics because they soften with wear and have that vintage 'lived in ' look which I find makes a home look like  home.  I'm afraid to touch stuff made with new fabrics let alone use them !

Anyway, I got these yesterday from the charity shops:

Isn't this just gorgeous ?  it's a quilted single bed cover, looks like it hasn't been used.  It's the perfect size for throw for an armchair or a summery table cloth.  It would look lovely for a table cover for a BBQ in the summer.  Ah yes, I can see it now, the table will have this cover on it, very old wooden slatted chairs with  hand embroidered cushions would be arranged around an old metal table, candles would burn in home made jam-jar (canning) containers.  The BBQ would be behaving itself, the food would be cooked perfectly, the would be no spills to damage the cloth, soft 'folksy' music would play in the background (probably Enya), pretty little seed lights would festoon the trees and bushes, and to complete the scene, I would be floating around in a full-length flowing vintage Laura Ashley dress, perfectly tanned sipping a glass of wine.

Right, back to reality, here's some more pictures of the detail :

This definitely is not destined to be cut up !  -  £2.00
Now for something completely different ...  a fantastic deep, dark, 'mysterious' looking single quilt cover, lots of useable fabric, a fantastic deep red ribbon band and just look at that applique work - be still my racing heart !  it has sequin trim too, this is going to be used in my 'altered couture' work, I have plans for it already.

Never mind the creases, I just pulled it out of the bag.  It's deep purple by the way.

Next I got two - yes two! - king sized quilt covers in this pretty rose print, patterned on both sides so very useable.  The woman in the shop knows I upcycle stuff and asked if I would be cutting them up, when I said I would, she went in the back and brought 4 pillow cases to match, they weren't included in the sale because they had a little wear, but that's no problem, I can cut around it.  A bonus !
£1.00 each !
and finally, last but not least, this pretty necklace :
Lots of potential here, 5 rows of shell beads, leather thonging and silver coloured jump rings.
All in all a good haul don't you think ?

Monday, 23 March 2015

Spring Cleaning, (lack of) gardening and other stuff ...

I'm not talking about housework type spring cleaning, but computer cleaning.  I checked all the stuff I have stored on this little laptop and it's mind-boggling.  I'm always complaining about the slow speed and response of my LT and I'm sure all this stuff is clogging up the works.

So I've done a de-frag as well as empty the mail boxes, I keep up to date with the inbox, but the spam and deleted stuff was chockablock !  so all that has gone too.

Next was the pictures I have stored on here - Oh Lordy, I must get something done with them all.  I've deleted the zillions of pictures I've taken of stuff for Ebay, and loads of motivational stuff I steal collect from the net but I have loads of personal pics too that I must sort.  I need to learn how to transfer them all on to a disc, I don't have a clue how to do that, and I don't have the patience to look it up either, I'm not the most patient person, I get angry and frustrated if I don't know things 'yesterday', tomorrow won't do.

Then there's the shortcuts !  oh dear, the shortcuts.  I never add anything to my favourites because I never look in there, instead I add a shortcut to the screen 'cos it's quicker to access.  My screen was FULL of them.  In the past I've had so many they've spilled over into the margins.  I put stuff into folders and still have loads.  There's so much of interest on the www isn't there ?  so much to learn and research so I add a shortcut so I don't lose it.

Anyway I think it's a little bit faster now.

Gardening, or lack of it.  I love growing my own food as much as possible and at one time had my own veggie box scheme up and running.  However since living here I've realised I'm wasting my time, money and effort trying to grow anything.  The ground is always soggy and spongy due to the level of the water plain (sp?) and everything I've tried to grow here for the last three years has been drowned or rotted away.  It doesn't help either that all the houses around me are slightly raised and all excess water drains into my garden.

 Everything that is except a thornless blackberry I bought from the smallholding and several raspberries, they seem to like wet feet roots and have thrived, so at least I have lots of soft fruit for the freezer.  I have ornamentals and trees in pots waiting for my move, but just no room for veggies or salads in pots or anywhere else for that matter, so it's very frustrating at this time of the year when so many bloggers are posting about how well their seedlings are doing etc. etc.,

I suppose I could always grow rice ... ? 

or keep ducks ... ?
I love these Muscovy ducks, they grow quite big, but are lovely natured, also they don't quack as such, they hiss, but not in an aggressive way.  They lay lovely eggs too.  When I lived in the country I had a Muscovy duck go missing and thought the worst, that a fox had got her, but one day she appeared waddling across the lawn with a 'crocodile' of tiny ducklings behind her !  she had hidden at the back of the barn to hatch and protect her brood.  Somewhere I have pics of them and one day I will get around to sorting them out.
Here's some stuff I made some time ago with the intention of putting into the Etsy shop, but I put them in a safe place and them forgot where they are !
A set of place mats I made from squares of denim with applique hearts on, they have wadding in the middle and a lining
A couple of lined peg bags
They're around somewhere but no idea where !
Note to self:  next house must have a spare bedroom (or two) an integral garage, a utility room, a garden shed or cabin and a store room.  (in my dreams!)

Sunday, 22 March 2015

It's difficult to get any work done here ...

Well after yesterdays post about not getting anything done because of feeling guilty, I have another problem:

I only got up to put the kettle on and Sopicat decided I wasn't going to do any more work on the computer.

Nope - he's not moving.

This is the cold shoulder treatment -   I did manage to get a cushion under him though to stop him damaging the laptop.
Only one thing for it then - food.  No I don't usually feed him on the sofa but needs must !   Notice the scratched sofa character of the sofa ?
Just when I thought I could get some work done, I noticed this:
Rasputin (aka Thug) decided to make a nest in my box of knitting wool
Nope - I'm not coming out - handle it !
  You can see my latest knitting project in the background of these two pics.  More of that soon.
Going back to yesterdays post, thank you to those who posted a reply, I'm amazed that  other ladies had similar experiences to me.  Carrie left a very profound comment, pop back and have a look if you have time.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Do you feel guilty ... ?

I wish I didn't feel guilty every time I want to do something for myself !  I blame my Mother for this, (she will probably start hurling thunderbolts down at me now)

I was brought up to accept that we should be 'working' all the time, i.e.housework in her case.  To say she was fanatical is putting it mildly, she made Hyancinth Bucket look like a slob !  (for the benefit of foreign readers, Hyancinth Bucket is a fictional TV character who lives for housework)

Nowadays, I recognise that my Mothers 'condition' was definitely OCD - and then some.  She just couldn't stop cleaning, all the time ****** cleaning.  Now I like a clean and tidy house, but this was over and above.  I had a miserable childhood because of it.

Anyway, I'm digressing.  Some of this behaviour has definitely been ingrained into my being.  Don't get me wrong, I am not a complete 'neat nick' who has a home like a photo shoot (well I'm sure you've seen some of my pics anyway), but my problem is, when I want to do something I love/like/am planning/looking forward to doing that doesn't involve housework (!) I feel so guilty that I don't get it done most of the time, hence a lot of procrastinating goes on here !

I know this sounds ridiculous, but when I'm ready to start/finish a project, I look around for things that 'must be done' first.  It's as if I have to earn the right to do my own thing.  I start looking at the skirting boards, or the windows, or the tops of pictures - I could scream !!

So that's where I am right now.  I have an 'altered couture' project that is almost finished, but I just can't do it because I think (believe) I should be working on something else.  It's a wonder I get anything done at all.

I can't sit still for a minute, I have to be up and 'doing' most of the time feeling I'm wasting time if I'm just sitting and 'being' - oh no, that simply isn't done.

I suppose I'm too old now to change, the way I try to get around it is to get all my chores done as early as possible, then really try to switch off and stop looking for jobs so I can indulge myself in some crafting.

I'm sure my Mother ascended into Heaven on a vacuum cleaner and is now happily dusting the clouds.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Look at these fantastic bargains ... (with Sopicats permission !)

I got two fantastic buys from the charity shops yesterday, it's almost as if I'd put my order in, they're two things I've been thinking about buying and they both 'presented themselves' yesterday.
Sopicat says I can show them to you as long as it doesn't take too long  because he wants feeding.

Hurry up - I know you've got fish in the cupboard and I want it !!

I said 'HURRY UP'
Well I was actually on my way to buy a new frying pan, my old one has long since given up the ghost so I binned it, knowing I had to get one asap.  I have to walk past a charity shop to the 'frying pan shop' and I had made up my mind not to visit any more for a while (oh yeah ) because I'm trying to get rid of 'stuff' not keep on bringing it in.
However, an invisible hand reached out and pulled me in and what was the first thing I saw ?
I couldn't believe my eyes and grabbed them quick.  They were being sold as a set and as you can see are in virtually 'unused' condition.  I've since checked online the prices of these and on Ebay as well, and they would have cost me new £69.00 ! well I could never afford that, but guess how much I paid for the three of them ?  go on - have a guess - £3.00 for the three  !!!!!  there's a standard frying pan, a square griddle pan and a deep 'wok' style pan - brilliant.
So as if that wasn't good enough, I got another fantastic bargain.  I had to go and pay some bills at the bank, and there are several charity shops close by, that invisible hand got me again, and this time I got these :
Woo hoo - 'Head' walking boots in fantastic condition.  Just a little dried mud which I will remove with a dry brush.
  Look at the soles, I reckon they were only worn once.
 Check out the price tag - £3.00 again - !!!  I've wanted some for ages, the trainers I wear for walking aren't strong enough and I always end up with sore feet.   Another reason I had to have them - they have green on them - forgone conclusion !   I checked the price of these as well and they would have cost upwards of £44.00. What a lucky day.
Better go now, I'm being mugged by Sopicat.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

The big reveal ... !

I've been working on a 'raggy' project for a while and now it's finished, I can show you.

This is where it started, gathering the materials and cutting into strips ready to start.  In this project, I also incorporated some handspun Norwegian Lopi wool.

Under production - you can see now it's a knitted project.  I started tearing the strips but that just produced too many hanging threads.  I  like to leave them for texture and 'character' but they were too  long and getting tangled in my fingers, so I started cutting the rest.  The preparation takes the most time in this type of work.
Almost there.  The colours are black/pink/burgundy, it looks purple, but it isn't.
Here it is looking very mysterious - ready to be unveiled.
Ta - Dah
A close up showing the heavily textured fabric produced.
The back view, mostly knitted plain hardly any loose ends, just across the bottom border, this is for comfort in wear.
I've enjoyed making this.  It's definitely different, and there will never be another one made !
The fabric is silky, with cotton contrasts.  Upcycled and prewashed.
I can see this being worn by a young woman/girl on a beach over a bikini, or with shorts or jeans.
I'm planning another one now, but in the meantime, I've been unpicking a cardigan I got from a charity shop for £1.  The colours just drew me to it - green of course.
I am winding it all into separate balls and I will knit it using the domino/patchwork/entrelac/freeform technique.  It will be a labour of love and one of those things that I will pick up now and again, I don't think I could sit for hours and work on it.
Here it is being unpicked, you can see all the lovely colours.
Well the raggy top will go to Etsy tomorrow, I'm too tired now.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Happy Mothers Day ...

Hope all you Mom's out there are having a nice day.

My son called this morning with my beautiful granddaughter.  I've been buying Pandora items for my granddaughter and daughter in law and really love them, so imagine how pleased I was to find I have one for Mothers day with a 'cat' charm of course !  also wine to drink this evening.
I've been for my daily walk and am looking forward to feet up time with a glass of wine, knitting and something good to  watch on TV.
Enjoy your day Mom's ... !


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