Thursday, 31 December 2015

Round Up


Hi guys, Happy New Year :D
Would you believe it'll be a year in late Feb since we moved here, where did that go?


And what a year!
I've made so many new friends, in real life and through blogging, and i was kept busier than i ever expected to be. For which i am eternally grateful.


When i first started this blog i had a list of things that i wanted to learn and do throughout the year
Some of them i have done, but a lot seem to have fallen by the wayside, so i am going to keep the list and add to it for this year


The Old List


Crafts and Home


Master the knitting machine- nope, but in my defense i need 4ply yarn which i am still looking for a bargain on.

Make jumpers/socks/blankets etc from said machine- As above
Crochet more clothes and things for the home- Check- i am currently crocheting a blanket, and have made a few small things including Christmas decorations
Spin yarn- Check!
Weave-not yet, i have the kit, but just need to find the right project
Make all home made Christmas gifts- not quite, but as above, i have made my own decorations
Decorate the house- Not yet, as can't afford the paint i want :)


Garden

Convert at least half of the garden into a veg garden (the other half paved over to add a table and chairs etc and flowers for the bees)- still in the pipeline for next year

Build raised beds- As above
Grow a variety of veg and herbs successfully- As above-this year most of them died :(
Make a compost bin- i've made a compost pile instead ;)
A pond? (i doubt it, but i can hope, can't i?)- still possibly in the pipeline
Acquire a shed (again, pretty hopeful, but you never know) As above
Acquire a small greenhouse-As above

Cooking

Master bread baking! Check! First on the list to be "ticked off"
Make more sauces from scratch and can them-going to can them next year if i can afford the jars,otherwise i'll freeze them

Herbs

Dry herbs and make loose leaf teas - still waiting to grow the things first! Though my rosemary is still alive :)
Make basic medicines- waiting to grow the herbs to make them with
Make soaps and cleaning agents- I've made rosemary scented all purpose cleaner and apple cider vinegar so far :)








So, what can i add/change on this list?
For a start, more homemade drinks, which i have already got a head start on, i would LOVE to try and make my own alcohol , so i shall certainly be adding that.
Preserving foods, i would like to make more jams/chutneys/pickles etc

I would also like to start water bath canning, as soon as i can get the proper jars (Soooo expensive!!)
Build/find bigger and better shelves for the pantry







To be honest, i've ran out of ideas lol
Maybe monthly goals of some form?
Ideas, anyone?



Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Beautiful blankets, Gifts and Plum Cordial Recipe

Hi guys!
Did you all have a lovely Christmas?
Ours was nice and peaceful, apart from when we got a little tipsy, but seeing as we barely drink through the rest of the year it was well deserved!
We are still living off turkey,The Bearded Wonder has used up the last of it in some pies and they are in the freezer for when we fancy them.
I got some lovely gifts, i got a few books from The Bearded Wonder-exactly what i asked for :)  

I got the most beautiful notebook from a knit and natter friend - so beautiful i can't bear to use it haha

I got a little money too so i treated myself to some new slippers from the charity shop for the grand sum of £1.79
I also found a gorgeous throw, with a pattern that makes it look quilted- a steal at £1.50



Apparently this is winter 
I don't think our village got the message (yes, i know, i've probably jinxed it now)
This was the view this morning coming back from the shop.

Speaking of shops, i got a great bargain this morning!
3 boxes of plums for only 29p each!
One box has already been converted into cordial (we're addicted!)

It's ever so easy to make cordial
You core and slice the plums and pop them in a pan with a sprinkle of sugar
This looks like a lot of sugar but it's just the glare from the pan
Then you make what is called simple syrup which is just equal parts sugar and water (i use one cup of each per box of plums, you get around 10 in a box, then add more water or more sugar to taste once it gets going) in a pan boiled up until the sugar has dissolved
Then you pop the plums into the syrup and bring it back to the boil until the plums are soft then take the heat down a simmer and mash the plums up until they are pulp (The pulp won't go to waste as you can freeze it for crumbles and pies, which is what i'm doing) 
Once the plums are at the pulp stage sieve them through a funnel into a sterilized bottle
A note of warning (you will probably know this already, but i'll tell you anyway,just in case.) it is best to use boiling water to sterilize your bottles, pour a little in first and swill it round the bottle, then pour in the rest, as the hot water hitting cold glass can make it crack (scientific stuff lol) and this will make sure it's hot enough to pour the plum cordial in the glass
Whatever you do, don't sterilize them in the oven, as the dry heat can make them explode. 
My hubby is a trained chef, so he knows his stuff :)
To get every single drop of juice you can then strain the pulp through muslin cloth, which is sticky but very worth it :)

p.s Did you notice the new decor?
I wanted it to look nice and light- preparing for spring early haha :)
I rather like the avatar me ;)


How did your Christmas go?






Wednesday, 23 December 2015

And So This Is Christmas- super quick non alcoholic mincemeat

Hi guys :)

Just a rather quick post sharing my super quick non alcoholic mincemeat recipe

YOU STILL HAVE TIME :)
This is not a measurement specific recipe, it's very much a chuck-it-all-in and adjust to taste

Recipe:
1 bag mixed dried fruit - you can buy own brand for about 85p (ish)
half a carton of apple juice
4 heaped tablespoons muscovado sugar- helps make it lovely and gooey, or you can reduce to two/three if you don't want it too sweet
half a grated bramley apple (or whatever apple you have to hand)
zest of half a lemon
juice of half a lemon (you can put the rest of the lemon to use too, slice thinly and dry it on low in the bottom of the oven for a few hours- et voila  -dried lemon peel- you can pop it in a cup of herbal tea or add to other recipes :)
a handful of beef or vegetable suet-whichever you prefer

Method
Whack it all in an oven dish and give it a good stir
Pop it in the bottom of the oven and bake on a very low heat for around half an hour, you will have a lovely sticky gooey mincemeat- also delicious in cakes if you have some left over :)
Enjoy :)



I'm still in the kitchen making drinks and baking
Our pantry now looks like a micro-brewery- but only one bottle is alcoholic, which is the rose wine in the middle.
i made more ginger wine, more lemon cordial and some raspberry cordial- yummy!
the raspberry cordial is the one on the end- such a beautiful jewel colour :)

I'm also making some onion chutney tomorrow as today we got a great 2 kg bag of onions for £1 at Morrisons :)
I do so enjoy making everything myself



Just a little note to say...   :-)


I've also got you all a Christmas present!

I've made a wee  Printable (click on the link) they are little labels for your home made produce, including one for wine bottles 
I'm not entirely sure on how you go about it, but i think you click on the link, which will take you to my Google Drive, which should have the option to print somewhere

Will somebody let me know if it works? :)



Sunday, 20 December 2015

It's The Final Countdown!


Hi guys :) 
Are you almost ready for Christmas? 
Only five days left to go, and i can't wait 
I adore Christmas, and i am always very laid back about the whole thing, i just don't see the point in stressing about it, but that's just me :)

To be honest, we didn't even plan what we were going to eat until we finally went out shopping on Friday, we didn't buy a full turkey this year, as it's just the two of us, so we got a nice fat turkey leg and thigh joint for only £4.12, which will do us nicely and still make a few more meals out of it.

I got one present early, a bread slicing guide, found in a charity shop and bought for the princely sum of £2 :D
It's a bit of a funny present, for most people, but i really wanted it, as i'm terrible at slicing my home made bread and end up with a lot of half slices and crumbs 
I've asked for a dehydrator for my birthday in January haha :) 


I've been baking some doggy biscuits for the puppy we look after now and then 

I've been making some non alcoholic mincemeat, using apple juice instead of brandy
I'm making a lot of non alcoholic stuff this year, we just can't afford it at the minute, but we are getting in some cheap wine for Christmas day, thank goodness! 

I added some flooring to the pantry on Friday,these were in a pack of four from pound land, so i just need two more :)  
Only problem is, even though they claim to be self adhesive, they don't actually stick to the pantry floor so i've had to overlap them so they don't slide around!
The reason i decided to put the shelves back in the pantry is that we are finally going to get it damp proofed in the new year!
Wahooo!!
We had a specialist in a few weeks ago and our housing association has finally admitted that there is a damp problem in the pantry and the downstairs loo, so i can finally start to use it to store food again , but i am making sure everything is in jars, bottles or tins for now though :)



This picture shows only one bottle of ginger wine left. We are halfway through one bottle, i am gifting another and i managed to drop the fourth! :( 
The bottle on the left is Lemon cordial, which we also love here (also non alcoholic!!)
I plan on making so any more drinks next year, lots of cordials, and , hopefully foraying into the world of proper homebrews :)

I've also been attempting to dry out some roses, a rare treat, they were reduced to £1.29, i'm hoping to make potpourri with them :)



Lastly, this is officially my favourite breakfast of all time.
Home made bread, spread with butter, topped with cheese and lightly toasted :)


If i don't post before, have a very Merry Christmas


Thursday, 17 December 2015

Homemade Non Alcoholic Ginger Wine



Hi guys :)
I was introduced to this delicious drink when we were peeling potatoes for the Christmas lunch last Sunday, and today i gave it a go and made my own. 
It's soooo yummy, it will blow your head off if you gulp it down, like my poor unfortunate hubby did, before i could warn him, but if you sip it nicely it is really quite lovely.
It's non alcoholic and it makes the perfect warming winter drink 
(apart from mulled cranberry juice, of course!)


All you need is ginger compound, 1.6kg of sugar and 5 pints of water
Notice the chicken lurking in the background?

The basic recipe is just stir in the sugar with 5 pints of hot water, let it cool then stir in the full bottle of the compound then pour into sterilized screw cap glass bottles :)

Another chicken lurking, these guys get everywhere!

A great tip i got from a friend was to stir in a cube or two of jelly, to give it a more fruity taste , i chose blackcurrant :)

I got the extra hot version, as that was all they had in the chemists, so if you find it's too hot you can dilute it with water
Will you try it?






Saturday, 12 December 2015

Dashing Through The Snow!


Hi guys! :) 

I expect you are wondering how the Coffee Morning went? 
It was amazing! 
We raised a grand total of £447.00!

We held it in aid of Tabitha's Toys (click the link for more info), a little girl who sadly had Edwards Syndrome, and her parents set up the charity to provide sensory toys for children with complex disabilities in the north east, free of charge.
So the money we raised will go towards more sensory toys and equipment :)

Irritatingly, i don't have a record of the day because i completely forgot to pick up my camera before i left :( 
But i can say with great certainty it was a success!
We sold lots of things we had made, and cakes and of course tea and coffee, 
We held two raffles, the community businesses were wonderful and donated a lot of prizes,and first prize was a luxury hamper that the knit and natterers put together, and we raffled off the blanket we made, and guess what? 
The winner was one of our own knit and natterers husbands, she persuaded him to buy a few more tickets before he went home and he obviously has a lucky streak :)


Brrrr!! It's so chilly!
The heavens opened this morning and we got a HUGE snowfall!
It's only just starting to slow down now.
This was this morning, about 10:30 
Then to this in just a few hours!
 You can also see where the fence fell down last week, i must get onto the landlord to fix it! (yet another job!)
This bush is where the birds normally sit and chatter  

Hopefully that is the end of it now, it's so high if it carries on we'll be snowed in tomorrow,  we are at a Christmas lunch on Monday at the community centre and we can't miss that as The Bearded Wonder is helping with the cooking!

Not that i'm complaining or anything... haha ;) 

I've finally finished my hot water bottle cover, this has been on my hook for about 3 weeks as i kept forgetting about it. 

 We also finally got a very lovely new wardrobe, courtesy of a kind bloke from freecycle, and i must say, it looks very well in our room, as if it it was made for that corner :)
It's nice to be able to hang things up again


This is the main reason that i kept forgetting about my hot water bottle cover, as well as the coffee morning i've been making my Christmas cards 

All hand drawn :) sorry the photo is so rubbish, my hand wouldn't stay still when i was taking the picture.
I've also been busy with my tree, which we also got for free from a lovely friend, after it turned out we managed to leave ours at the old house when we moved! How i did that i do not know, as i'd have sworn i put the tree in the van, but apparently not!
Everything on it is hand made, (which i'm incredibly pleased about!) apart from one garland at the top which i got from poundland.
I still have a few things to make, as i want to make a pine cone garland, and some twig stars, so they are still on my list of things to forage for :)

I love my little white ornaments, i made them from baking soda clay, which is basically cornflour, baking soda and water, then heated in a pot and stirred until it forms a ball 
It's lovely to work with :)

Ok, so far i think i've covered everything, this post turned out a bit longer than i'd planned haha :)

So what ave you guys been up to? :)


Sunday, 6 December 2015

Feeling Powerless-Storm Desmond

Hi guys :)
What a rotten last few days eh?
We had two powercuts yesterday, one at midnight, lasting until 2:30am and we got home from Leeds to another at about 6:30pm lasting until about 8pm, so really only a few hours, but as they were both when it was dark outside it left me feeling really glad we had filled the flasks and had candles in the house!
Amazingly our house didn't suffer much damage apart fro the power cut, another fence has fallen down, this time on the other side, not the one that had just been fixed (i would NOT have been happy!) and the wheelie bins decided they would like to go on an outing to the bottom of the garden, but that's it, thank goodness.
The whole village has had rather a few broken fences, felled trees and lost roof tiles, but i don't think anyone has been hurt. As we are on a hill we are lucky we haven't been flooded out, unlike the poor souls in Cumbria

I've made a Pinterest board with general hints and tips on preparing for emergencies etc, most of it is common sense stuff, but handy to know :) So feel free to pop over and have a look 

.
 I am very much a "prepper"
 I hate not having something in the house when it is so easy to quickly pick them up on a shopping trip, slowly building up a store so you know you have it there when needed.

I've also made us a little "Emergency kit" this is the first of many that i shall be making over the next few weeks, with various things added such as more candles, torches, solar lights, dried food packet such as Super noodles,pot noodles, cup a soups, mug shots etc
This is the "Drinks" kit, it is filled with tea-bags, coffee mate, dried milk powder, sugar, tea lights, a lighter and some of those "all in one" coffee packets, they were from pound-land, and they actually taste quite nice, and you get a good amount in the pack :)

It all fits quite nicely in the tub, i shall be adding matches to this tub when we next go shopping. I've also added a few Oxo cubes, in case we fancy a change of drink, and i shall be looking for others such as hot chocolate etc
We also have a corded phone, so we can call out in emergencies, and check up on family and friends

Do any of you prepare?
We don't have much choice as we live in a place that loses power quite a lot in winter, according to the locals, due to the high winds.
The thing we didn't bank on was having no heating after the power was restored, for some reason we had hot water but the central heating wasn't working, so we went to bed with hot water bottles and plenty of layers of clothes and blankets.
A phone call from the gas engineer came this morning, and it turned out there is a button you have to press on the thermostat to tell the boiler to fire up, as it's electric it went back to it's usual setting once power was restored, so that's one thing we will have to remember next time haha :)

So, do any of you have any tips? Or ideas on what else to put in an emergency power cut kit?

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Every Time A Bell Rings, An Angel Gets His Wings


Hi guys! :)
God, isn't this weather terrible? I planned on going to find some pine cones and twiggy things to decorate the Christmas tree, but it's just too miserable to go anywhere unless necessary :/ 
One day this week i will be going to find some, whatever the weather!

I've been busy making decorations to sell at the Coffee Morning next Thursday, i promise i shall put more details in a post next week 

I've been making quite a few of these little angels, also to sell

I've also crocheted some little Christmas puddings , but the photo has disappeared.


I spent a very pleasant hour organizing the pantry/bookshelf and popped everything in jars that i had saved just for this :) i love re-using things :) and it all looks nice and neat and tidy (though it probably won't last!)


I've also got some apple cider vinegar on the go, it smells delicious! I love it as it's a great natural cleaner


We also finally got the fence fixed! Hip Hip Hooray! After 8 months of waiting for the housing association to sort it they finally got round to it!

It looks very strange now after seeing it down for so long.

I've also been making mulled cranberry juice
I LOVE  mulled cranberry juice. It's much cheaper than wine, and just as delicious 
I had some Schwartz mulled wine spice sachets left from last year, but the basic recipe is:
4 tablespoons light brown sugar
200 ml water 
500ml of cranberry juice
a smidge of lemon juice
one orange, sliced thinly
1/2 tsp of honey
Spices:
2 cloves- or a smigden of ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (or a cinnamon stick if you have one at the time)
a pinch of ground ginger

(You can also make some home made spice sachets from coffee filters, instructions here
Combine all ingredients in one large pot
Bring to boil and let it gently simmer for 10 minutes
Serve in a pretty glass and enjoy :)






Saturday, 21 November 2015

Warm In Winter and Baking Day


Hi guys :)
(Yes, I've changed the blog again, it desperately needed a refresh- variety is the spice of life, right?)


Well, the snow is here, in case you haven't guessed by looking out of your own windows ;)
I had to dive out in the snow this morning to rescue my poor leeks! 
As you can see from the photo these were the only ones I managed to save :( I think the  others had decided to go to seed as they hadn't grown any more. Never mind. At least I've grown something rather than nothing :)

I really don't like snow that much. It looks pretty, but it's a pain to walk in, as we live at the bottom of a hill, and the shop is on the other side of it! Luckily, we went food shopping yesterday and got everything we'd need for the fortnight, and got last bits and pieces today, so we won't need to leave  the house at all :)  
I'll admit it does look very pretty

Yesterday i dug out the thick duvet and added an extra blanket as well as the blue throw
I also picked up this flannel sheet the other day when volunteering at the clothing bank, and my goodness the difference in warmth when getting into bed with a flannel sheet is amazing! Sooo lovely and warm, and you don't get that cold shock that you normally get when you have normal sheets, i highly recommend them for winter! 



I'm doing lots of baking and cooking today, I've got a chicken roasting ready for teatime, then the bones are going into the slow cooker for stock,I've already got lots of veg scraps in the freezer ready to go in too :) Then with some of the stock I'm making lentil soup, the rest shall be frozen.

I  also made some delicious scones
and a rather funky looking loaf of bread, but i promise, it was delicious! 
It shall be going with the lentil soup later :)






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