Wednesday, 27 May 2015

A mountain of bargains ... !

First welcome to Homemaker Tales, nice to have you here, and Weekend-Windup, I hope you find some things of interest.


Well I excelled myself the other evening.  I never know if I'm going to get anything reduced when I do my tour of the local supermarkets, it's unusual though, to come away with nothing, but this haul was over and above.

There's far too much stuff to photograph and list individually here, to name just a few there's prepared veggies, carrots, greens, butternut squash, swede, mixed peppers and more, all for 10p, there's ready made sandwiches for 5p and 10p, lovely prepared salads with sauces included for 10p, wraps with chicken and sauces for 10p, prepared fruits for 2p, fantastic boxes of chili cheese for 10p a large box (Ikg) bread and cakes in the freezer for 2p and 10p, and around 2 pounds of corned beef, (in weight) split into 5 packs for 5p a pack !  imagine all the meals I can make with that.
This was yesterdays dinner
A chicken salad with dressing and a 'side' of stir fry veggies, also 10p, pudding was some pineapple pieces for 2p, I only used half of that, and topped with reduced own-brand yoghurt, and with the money I saved I treated myself to some wine.  My friend joined me in this bounty, and I was able to give away some of my bargains, at those prices I could afford to be generous.
This was lunch, got this the wrong way round, but never mind ...
More healthy salad this time with a bread roll, reduced of course.
This is why I NEVER meal plan.  I never know what I'm going to get when I go shopping, whatever I get is what I eat and I plan my meals only after I've done the shopping and gone through what I've got.  I realise not everyone can do this because of commitments, just saying, this works for me, and meal planning would be too expensive an option.
Anyway, I've got loads of salads, anyone wanna come for lunch ?

Monday, 25 May 2015

Frugal, filling and 'almost' free meals, and on the move again ... !

I got this pack of chopped cabbage and leeks (reduced of course) and left it in the fridge for a coupe of days whilst deciding what to make with it in the most money-stretching way.  This is what I did, almost free dinners, I had an egg and bread and butter in the house, so I don't count those into the costings:

As usual I forgot to photograph it before cutting open the pack and emptying it, but here is the packet, look at the price - 2p !

Into the steamer with a chopped onion, steamed just long enough to soften, not to make it soggy.

Here is the mix in three different sized bowls, the small one I ate for my tea, the two bigger ones are in the freezer and will do for two meals each.  I added a sprinkle of grated cheese along with some black pepper, I made a basic custard with egg and milk (I always add some dried powdered milk to a custard, it more or less guarantees a good 'set' and adds protein). Just cover with sliced bread which has been buttered, and pour over the custard mix.

 Here are two after I ate one -  It was delicious - and so very frugal.

Here is a pack of mixed salad leaves, also 2p that I had with it.

Now I thought I had a small space for my sewing machine a couple of weeks ago, but now I have used that space for seed starting and potting etc., I have had to find somewhere else.  I looked around for a suitable small table with no luck, the space I had in mind is very tiny so any table had to fit with room for my foot to reach the pedal, I thought a computer desk would be ideal with space underneath for all the bits and pieces we sewers collect.

I tried Freecycle and got one, although not complete, but as it was free and beggars can't be choosers I picked it up.  The top was 'bowed' so my machine wouldn't have had a solid base, so I took that off and the machine will rest on the pull out shelf underneath.

A good wash and a wipe over with some disinfectant did the trick - all ready to be manhandled go upstairs into my bedroom.  Here it is in-situ -
I will be putting my plastic boxes of pins, needles, threads, scissors, ribbons etc. etc., up later.  I'm using my computer chair, I've turned it away because the seat is worn ! but I think that will be the first thing I make up there, a new seat cover.  I hope I don't need anything from the drawers at the back of the table !
So that was a fantastically frugal day - 5 meals for 2p and a free sewing table.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Size does matter ... !

In my teeny tiny garden attached to my teeny tiny house, I have to make use of every inch.  I can't use the garden 'proper' because the water level is so high, after only one short shower, it's always flooded, the only thing that grows there are the blackberries and raspberries which seem to love it.

I have all my crops growing in pots, I rather like growing like that because you can give each plant individual attention and move them around to catch the sun or put them in shade.  So thinking of getting huge crops from small spaces, I've started a few climbing vine type veggies and fruits to maximise space.

Now this first one is a squash that I have coveted for a long time, I have not been able to get the seeds for ages, I've checked all the online suppliers for a long time but was amazed when I saw some on offer on Ebay a couple of weeks ago, so I snapped them up.   I first learned about this plant when I stumbled on this site:

The fruits grow up to one metre, but are best used when younger and smaller.  Apparently they are very prolific and can climb 30 feet !  I have 5 seeds which are very precious and are planted up and being protected and pampered.  If I get one plant I will be very happy, if I get one fruit I will be ecstatic because then I will be able to harvest more seeds.  They have the most beautiful fragrant white flowers which are a bonus but the beauty of it though is that you can also eat the leaves, I'm imagining never-ending supplies of summer greens !
Also on the same theme, I got climbing spinach seeds, which are now about 2" high and are looking very strong, so I think they will climb well.
These are from Ebay as well, but were despatched from China.
This is another climbing vine - Okra which has lovely flowers too, if it doesn't fruit the flowers are well worth the growing.  I've never used Okra, but I think they can be preserved by pickling.
Next some fruits, this is a Banana Passiflora which will live in the conservatory, they have pretty pink flowers and produce small banana-like fruits about 4" long.
This is a Magnolia Vine with edible red berries.
On my walk today I went past a damson tree that I have noticed in the past and have foraged, there were some saplings growing at the base which jumped into my basket !  (I wasn't stealing them, just re-siting !)
I also bought some wild garlic seeds.  Where I used to live in South Shropshire the lanes were lined with them but it was forbidden to dig them up.  I've been looking for some on my walks but couldn't find any, so I got seeds instead.
So I have some unusual things to try, should be fun.  My lettuces are doing well as are the tomato's, spinach, chard and kale, as well as runner and French beans, the strawberries are looking good too, loaded with flowers, so I'm looking forward to a good harvest.

Friday, 22 May 2015

So hard to walk away/Truly, madly, deeply ... !

Whilst out on a walk yesterday I saw a tiny bird right in front of me on the path.

Now my first reaction was to scoop it up and take it home to 'care' for it, but I remembered the posters on my vets wall, and the warnings from the RSPCA that there will almost definitely be a 'mother bird' around somewhere watching over it.
I hung around for a while, fighting my instincts, and made sure there were no dog walkers around, before making myself walk on.  I kept turning around to see if 'Mum' had turned up, but perhaps she was waiting for me to disappear before coming down to her baby.  I certainly hope so, it was on my mind all night.  I've tried to save baby birds so many times in the past, and despite giving them worms and grubs to eat and keeping them safe, they invariably die.  I hope I did the right thing.

Truly, madly, deeply ..... that's how much Sopicat and I are in love !!  we adore each other.  When I sit down for a break, or get my feet up, he's there - coming for his 'fix', I just sat down with a cuppa and he pounced on my legs pinning me down.

This is  his favourite position - he sleeps on me at night like that too.
So that's it now until he decides he wants to move, I don't disturb him !  HRH Sopicat rules OK ?
When he moves I dash around trying to catch up on jobs, and if he is sleeping when I come in I creep around so I don't wake him.  I hate having my picture taken and will avoid it at all costs, the camera isn't kind to me !  however I'm trying to come to terms with the fact that if I want to keep 'memories' this is something I have to overcome.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Looking forward to Winter ..... (sort of)

I hope you are enjoying this lovely day, I've been catching up on some gardening, potting things on  and up, inside and outdoors.

My broccoli was on stilts !  it had 3" legs.  This happens to me everytime I grow from seed, I've tried everything but nothing works, this year I've even got grow lights but I still get the 'leggy look'.  Anyway, I potted them up into tall pots (plastic bottles) and pushed them into the compost up to their necks, that should do it.

You see they have their own mini-greenhouse until they are settled.
I  had EGS this year (Eager Gardeners Syndrome), that means I started my runner and French beans off too early, now the Frenchies are flowering ! and can't be put out yet because they wouldn't last 5 minutes in the garden, it's very windy.
I'll have to pollinate these with a paintbrush in order to get some beans.
The runners are doing well, but as they have been grown in the conservatory, they are 'soft' and you only have to walk past them to bruise a leaf.  I've potted them up, and the only place I had for them is on the chairs in the conservatory !  I have 8 pots full, and some more coming up, they're about 3" high.
Lucy and Rasputin are keeping out of the way, high up. they know if they walk over my seedlings they'll be in big trouble.
Outside I potted up some evergreens and a couple of fruit bushes, all in all, a good day.
Now, why am I looking forward to Winter ... ?  well not entirely of course, but it's just that I know I'm not going to be cold in this igloo of a house, because I got this from the charity shop :
Woo hoo - a lovely 'as new snowsuit'.  It's padded and lined and just my size.
It has an elasticated waist with a neat belt and belt hook detail for ........ well whatever you use a belthook for.
Zipper closures on the legs.
A high, snug, fleece lined collar.
So just look at the brand name ... Trespass ... !  woo hoo again, last time I checked these suits out they were edging up to £180.00 !
Now just look at the size !  age 13/14.  Yup that's me.
(Actually I'm a size 12 - but this fits me well)    So all I need now is some skis - right ?
Actually I'll be happy to go out in this, as long as it's not snowing or I may never be seen again, but the real reason I snapped it up was I can wear this indoors over jeans and sweaters and be toasty warm.
So how much do you think I paid ?  are you sitting down ?
£1.00 -------- YES £1.00. that's got to be the bargain of the year.

Friday, 15 May 2015

A new page ...

Just a quick post to say I've started a new page 'Reasons to be thankful'.  I really don't keep these pages up to date, I must do better !
Back later this evening with a proper post, and why I'm looking forward to Winter - yes really !

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Cushy ... ! and some great money-saving coupons

I don't really need anymore cushions, but these were too good to walk past.

There were 8 of them, in almost mint condition.  Brown/cream heavy weight silk fabric with zips.  The pads inside are immaculate, these would have been at least £3.99 each.

I paid 25p each !
Now some coupon bargains, I got this one from Tesco, as you can see I got £2.81 off my next shop, that will buy some cat food !
Here are some Sainsbury's vouchers
Triple Nectar points on the next shop
Double points on fuel.  Did you take advantage of the recent promotion for 10x points on fuel ?  I filled up the day it started, then again a month later on the day it finished, so I did well on that offer.
This is a good one, 6 tins of Butchers cat food, which is very good, but there is an offer to get the full price back i.e. £3.26 if you just send the yellow 'flash' on the wrapping together with the till receipt and you can get your money back, now that's worth it.
A good day for saving money ...

Monday, 11 May 2015

Why do I do this to myself ... ?

My head is like a pressure cooker - again.  The reason ?  ******* technology ! Life used to be so simple, no buttons to press or click, a window was something you looked through, a mouse is what the cat brought in, there was no such thing as social media, computers used to be housed in huge rooms (and that was just one!), 'online' usually referred to a train journey, and the closest thing we got to shopping from home was a catalogue that allowed us to pay in monthly instalments.

My brain hurts.

I've struggled my way through sorting and setting up a Satnav, a state-of the-art digital camera, installing Windows 8 - argh - don't ask ! and a mobile phone.  I've written an ebook and almost took myself to breaking point trying to 'format it' - honestly you need a university degree to do that, I had to admit defeat and pay to get it done professionally but not before the effort turned me into a quivering wreck !  In the past I have set up and run websites and of course, I sell my stuff on Ebay and Etsy, none of these things have come easily to me.  My poor old brain cell is knackered !

So what's going on now then ?  for some stupid reason I have decided to make and publish some You Tube videos - I now know I have completely lost control of my senses - only a complete idiot would do such a thing.

You see I hate to admit defeat, I think if someone else can do something, then why can't I ?  well the answer is that most of the younger generation have had some sort of instruction in all things techno.  I wonder how they would get on if, like us oldies, they had to figure it all out by themselves with only online instructions to follow ?  trial and error is how it works.

I don't want to be an old granny who tries to use a mobile phone to change channels on the TV, or whose grandchildren look on with sympathy and impatience, thus I will keep learning and not give up, and hopefully will not be looked on as someone who should be in a home for the bewildered.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Decorative or Functional ... ?

Today's home furnishing trend is 'uncluttered'.  It's taken a few years to take hold, I can remember when the idea of 'minimalism' first reared it's (ugly ?) head.  My daughter had (to my mind) a home beautifully decorated with antique furniture, paintings etc.,  overnight, she had a complete change of heart and her mahogany dining set, Victorian bedroom furniture, French Salon items, paintings, etc., all set to a backdrop of Laura Ashley decorating style with the most fantastic curtains, bedding etc., she decided she wanted clean lines with little housework as she was working all day and didn't intend to stop.

I completely understand being too shattered to do much cleaning, life has changed, and the younger generation don't want to be 'tied' to a houseful of antiques these days.

I was lucky enough to be offered to buy some bits and pieces from her, I couldn't afford the really good stuff, but still have some items now that give me pleasure.

Anyway, the reason for this ramble is I have to keep 'inventing' more and more space in this 'tardis' I live in.  I cannot bear to get rid of my antique stuff, unlike the modern generation, I actually like my 'stuff' around me, I like to see it, admire it, and feel comfortable with it in my own space, however small.

This presents problems as you can imagine, I'm hanging on in there in the hope that my next move will throw up a larger house (it would be difficult to get smaller !) so I can unpack my treasured items.

In the meantime, I'm converting 'decorative' corners into 'functional' as much as possible.  Here is a case in point :  - or not !  at this point I went away to find a picture of a corner of my 'diner' area to show you, but I can't locate it ! it had in it an antique butter churn, some copper pans, vintage baskets hanging from the ceiling, that sort of thing, lovely to look at, but no use at all !  anyway, here is the same space after I've turned it into 'functional'

It probably still looks like a photo-shoot, but these are the things I use everyday, various size plates and dishes, scales, my steamer, spice carousel, dishes for individual pies, etc., and a basket containing cuttings from the plant above. 

I've still 'snuck in' a bit of 'decorative' in the area though:

This is one of those kitchen trolley thingies from the other house, nowhere to put it in my present kitchen.  The messy bit in the conservatory shouldn't have been in the pic, but it's just some fabric I draped over a dark antique cupboard to stop the sun from fading it.  Again, there is no room for it inside the house.  Little Lucycat is pretending not to notice what's going on.



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