Thursday, 24 January 2013

Packing it all in...

I have mentioned that we have a trip coming up but have given out very little detail up until now. Myself and Jay are off to Portugal for 5 days, it was our Christmas gift to each other. An all inclusive 5 star accommodation,  flights and transfers for us both at a bargain price.

We felt that rather than buy each other useless gifts that we neither needed nor wanted that this was the perfect gift for us. This time of year is always tough for everyone and a little bit of sunshine does wonders to give you the boost for the coming year (hopefully).

Whenever we book a holiday we usually book a last minute deal and by doing it this way we can sometimes go away more than once. There are lots of different websites that give great last minute deals, we often use Icelolly * and so far we have been very pleased with the results.

I have been battling with the internet and trying to download certain documents that needed printing, they are now all done and ready. I now have the task of packing and I am unsure of what to take. I know the weather is not going to be soaring heat and sunbathing weather, would be nice though. However we only have hand luggage so everything has to be essential and right.

I have been through my wardrobe and selected what I would like to take and now I have to narrow it down again to essential items, oh decisions decisions!

Dinner last night was a rummage through the fridge to see what I had to go with some chicken fillets. Our menu had got a bit mixed up due to people not being here for dinner and changes have to be made. There was half a butternut squash, a swede and a bag of carrots and a tub of soured cream. I chopped the vegetables up quite chunky and put them in a pan and added some frozen mixed vegetables and a pint of chicken stock. I added a teaspoon of English, French Grain and Dijon mustard and a dessert spoon of honey.

Once the vegetables had started to soften I added the chopped chicken fillets to the pan and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Whilst that was cooking I made some breadcrumbs out of some rolls and the last few slices of granary bread.  grated some cheddar and mixed this in with the breadcrumbs.

I added the sour cream to the chicken and vegetables gave it a good stir and then using a slotted spoon I put the chicken and vegetables into a casserole dish poured over a little of the sauce and then covered it in breadcrumbs. I cooked this in the oven on gas mark 6 for 30 minutes and had the sauce simmering on the gas so it would thicken.

A super meal to feed six people and cost about £5.50. If you don't add the chicken but just use vegetables and add pulses it will obviously cost a lot less. Unfortunately for me the boys and Jay would probably hang me out to dry if I served them a pure vegetarian meal.

There was quite a lot of vegetable so I chopped it all up and cooked them in chicken stock and added split peas and have frozen it in batches and I can then make this dish again or even add it to a stew or a curry.

All I have left to do is a trip to the hairdressers and a quick dash to get some food in for the boys and then I can relax with a glass of vino in readiness for our little vacation. Until next time x

* No money was earned by this endorsement, it is my own opinion.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

The Waiting Game...

We still have snow on the ground which is very slippery, thankfully no more snowfall but the temperature is sure dipping. The girls are coping very well with this weather and are still laying but they still will not venture out into the thick snow around the garden. I am just having a quick coffee before going out and cleaning out the hen house, I will leave the gate open to see if they will take the plunge with the snow.

I am really getting twitchy with wanting to get on with seed sowing and getting out into the garden and get cracking with the new sowing season. I am holding off for now but once I get back from our trip I will get my hands in some soil.

I keep looking at my plan that I drew up a few weeks ago and keep making changes of what is going to grow where and keep shuffling the seed packets about to make sure I haven't forgotten any. 

I saw a programme on TV last night called Allotment Wars, it was on BBC1 after the 10 o'clock news. Well I am gob smacked that people can be so petty and vindictive over a few root vegetables! Plot holders stealing other plot holders vegetables prior to the veg growing competition! Jealousy over fertile soil, it is mind boggling. You can probably catch this programme on the BBC iplayer. Watching the plot holders toil in the soil did make me feel a bit envious, I can't wait!

As you know I have been working on a blanket, well it is almost finished. I just have to add the backing and it is done. But here it is.

I stitched the squares together so they formed rows and then I crocheted the rows together. I made the poppies and then sewed them on randomly. Not bad for my first effort. I am now working on a baby girl blanket.

Well that's me coffee all gone, time to brave the cold and clean out the girls. Until next time x

Monday, 21 January 2013

It's snow joke!

We have had quite a bit of snowfall in the last 24 hours and the snow on the ground was quite dense. The dogs had a fantastic run over the golf course earlier today, Jay and Adam walked them before breakfast. The above photo is taken at the entrance to the golf course.

Jay has lots of fantastic photos which I am waiting for him to send to me so I can upload them to here. I have been busy working on the blanket. All the squares are now connected and I am putting on a border. I will take a photo once it is all finished.

It was Jays Day off today so we popped into town to get a few bits before our little trip this coming weekend. I was quite surprised at how clear the roads were, everything usually comes to a standstill with just a small dusting of snow.

 I needed some more wool to finish off the blanket and grabbed a few more balls for another project.

I purchased some Pentland seed potatoes in Wilkinsons, I was hoping for a different variety but it is all they had left on the shelves. I hope they will have some more in next week.

 I also bought a smallish plastic planter trough that will fit nicely on the windowsill in the kitchen as I want to start sowing some cut and come again salad leaves as we get through lots of salad and the bags of leaves can be quite expensive to buy so we just have the iceberg. Growing the leaves on the windowsill will give us a bit more variety and will cost nothing but a bit of time and TLC as I have several packets of salad leaf seeds that I had given to me. I shall get this under way once we get back.

Another weekend has been and gone, I hope you all enjoyed your weekend. Until next time x

Saturday, 19 January 2013

First time for everything...

A short while ago I ventured outside to see to the girls, I was not out for very long but my toes and hands are  now frozen! I am presently slurping on a hot mug of tea. The girls had as usual been hanging about the gate making a right racket to go for a wander, I left the gate open like I did yesterday and the day before yet only one steps out only to turn tail and scurry back into the run which then sends the others in a flap!

I took out a tray of hot soaked bread smothered in seeds which they devoured whilst I cleaned them out. There were two eggs waiting for me today, yesterday there were three, I am so surprised that they are still laying in this cold.  As I look at them out of the window now they are all busy preening themselves now that they have filled up on their food stores.

I am still plodding along on with my blanket, I have finished making all the squares and have sorted them out in order. To make the squares I chained up 22 stitches and then I double crochet for 12 rows. I now have the momentous task of sewing them all together! As I haven't done this before I thought I would try sewing them and see how I get on. I have read that it might be easier to crochet them together. only time will tell.

I am currently boiling a gammon which we bought before Christmas and froze, they were half price so were worth buying and we will be having that for Sunday lunch, and as I am cooking it today we can then have the eggs Benedict tomorrow for breakfast. Hope your reading this Jay! 

Well that is it from me for today, I hope you are all enjoying your weekend wherever you may be. If you are in the UK stay safe and warm, I am drinking so much tea that I am in and out of the toilet like a jack in the box! Until next time x

Friday, 18 January 2013

Bit of this n a bit of that

Well the heavily predicted snow has finally arrived and we have more on the way. It is about 4 -5 inches thick in the garden. The girls were not impressed, it took them a while to venture out to the food at first and then once I put in the scraps and the hot bread and seed tray they came out as quick as you like!

I am sitting here watching them as I type and they keep standing on one foot and then the other, you can just imagine the conversation if they could speak. Clyde thinks he has the biggest ice cream cone in the world on his doorstep. He eats and chomp at the snow like his life depends on it. We are taking the dogs over the golf course this evening so I shall post some photos later.

I have been working on a project for the past couple of weeks and it is taking forever. I still have lots to do on it so here is a quick peek at what I have been doing

I decided to have jam on toast for my breakfast this morning, I went to the fridge and there was no jam left, fantastic time to open a new jar. When I make my jams I often have bits left so I end up with lots of jars with just a bit in and there was one without a label so I decided to have that one. I done three pieces of toast, two for me and one for the dogs and the jam was a very tasty yet tart plum.

I have been collecting the toilet and kitchen rolls ready for planting my broad beans. I was going to do them this week but with this weather is it really worth it? I think I will wait a couple of weeks then sow them. I have also been collecting the plastic food trays perfect for seed sowing. I am all prepared and ready to get my green fingers outs but will hold back for a little longer.

The girls have finished feasting and have retired back into the coop, sensible little girls. Right I have things I need to do. Until next time x

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

A day out CS shopping

We awoke this morning to a smattering of snow, not a lot to shout or wail about however it was rather icy and taking Max and Clyde for a walk was a slippery sliding adventure! I did manage to stay in the upright position but I did have to giggle when Clyde was pulling Lloyd along ahead of me, all he needed was a sledge.

I had arranged to go out to Felixstowe with mum and dad today and thought it would be cancelled but the weather was no where near as bad as I thought it would be and so at 11 am on the dot mum and dad arrived to take me out. It was bitterly cold down at Felixstowe, for those that are not local it is right down on the coast. We just stayed in the main shopping area, my leg is still not too good so a walk along the front was not on the agenda.

I think I managed to drag mum and dad into every Charity shop in the high street, I managed to find some great bargains and mum and dad even bought a couple of things. Some of you may baulk at the idea of entering a charity shop and would die of shame rather than be seen in one. I will admit in my teens and twenties I would of been the same but have you been inside a charity shop lately?

There is no nasty niff for a start and everything is clean and tidy and very well organised. In some shops the clothes are all colour co-ordinated and some of the displays and windows look amazing. You would not even realise you are looking in the window of a charity shop.

This little bundle set me back about £15.00, The wool is brand new but the shop makes a profit and it is reasonably priced. I have floral and gingham fabric in this little bundle and to purchase this from the haberdashery would of set me back about £60.00. I have two men's extra extra large shirts in gingham and the remainder is sheets and duvet covers all in excellent condition.

I am wanting to start quilting or at least have a go and by getting my fabric in this way it makes it much more affordable.

I also purchased this beautiful hand crafted bowl made of pottery and glazed.

I saw it and just had to have it and at only £4.00 it was hard to resist, it will make an excellent fruit bowl to put on the island. I am a bit hesitant to put any type of holding receptacle as it does not take long for it to fill up with useless crap, especially crap from the boys and Jay's pockets.

We enjoyed a lunch of fish and chips with a cup of tea in a little fish restaurant in one of the side streets, I won't be needing dinner later!

Once I was home the snow started to fall quite heavily, just in time for all the school run mum's, perfect timing as usual.

It has stopped again for now but I am sure we are in for plenty more. I don't mind being snowed in I have plenty to keep me occupied for now, especially as Jay sorted out my pinking shears. Apparently they had to be twisted the opposite way first or something like that, but they seem okay now.

Time for a cup of tea and to watch one of my favourite TV programmes, the antique road trip. Until next time x

Monday, 14 January 2013


I have been waiting for a pair of pinking shears to arrive from ebay, this morning they finally arrived however they don't work! Never having owned a pair of pinking shears I thought perhaps I had to adjust them somehow for them to open but there is no actual screw. I have emailed the seller and am awaiting a reply. I have been wanting to get a project started and now I still have to wait, argh so annoying!

Anyway rant over for now, I ventured out into the cold earlier and cleaned out the girls. The chicken proofing on the small raised bed appears to be working, the girls walk around it clucking but do not attempt to jump up onto it. Unlike Clyde who keeps jumping up onto the large raised bed, the blooming great lump, why I don't know but it does look comical with him standing in the raised bed. I keep telling him off but he still does it. Once I plant stuff in there, I will erect canes and netting to stop both him and the girls from getting on there.

Even though it is bitterly cold outside the sun was shining and it was lovely. The girls were having a great time bathing in the fruit border.

To get them back in the run I gave them their scraps, Clyde was hot on my heels just in case anything drops, and there he was munching on a flipping cabbage leaf! He will stand beside the run just in case the girls happen to flick anything in his direction, that dog just lives for food.

My lunch is calling a lovely prawn salad made by Jay, until next time x

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Taking time out...

I am still without my truck, it has been almost three weeks and I am really missing having access to it. It was Jay's weekend off and we or should I say I was hoping to do a bit of pottering in the garden however it has been very damp and rather cold and Jay wanted to do something else.

I'm glad we did as it meant I got to go out. The dogs went for a long walk, we popped into town and then went for a drive.


We went to Pin Mill where I had the best ever hot chocolate! The above photos were taken from the Butt & Oyster pub car park. From here we drove on to Shotley Marina where we had a coffee and the most delicious slice of caramel shortbread. It was huge.

 I'm so glad we got just the one slice!

As we done so much walking yesterday my leg has been quite painful so today has been an indoor catchup sort of day. Ebay has a zero insertion fee this weekend so I have uploaded  48 items. I want to replace the hen house, so all funds will go towards buying the girls a new home.

Dinner is cooking and I have also baked a chocolate sponge, time to put my feet up and do a bit of crochet.
It has turned quite cold and we have had snow forecast, whether it will turn up is any ones guess, as for me well I hope it does not! I hope you have all had a great weekend. Until next time.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

What a waste!

I saw on the news last night that half of the food produced in the world never even reaches the plate, what an utter waste of time, resources and food! We are told there are starving in the world yet how can this be with all this food going in the bin and not even being fed to animals. Crops are left in the field as they do not meet the EU standards or the cosmetic that supermarkets require. How bloody stupid!

To read more on this or to see the video from sky news click HERE

This Christmas was probably the first year that our food waste amounted to one tub of cream that went out of date and had to be thrown out unopened. We used up all that we had and any food scraps are fed to the chickens and they did not get much.

This was possible because I only bought in what I needed and what I know we would use. I made a lot of cakes, biscuits and pastry things and these were all eaten. We were not entertaining so there was no need to buy just in case  someone popped in as I keep a well stocked store cupboard and can whip up a cake or some pastry in a few minutes or even a loaf of bread. My cupboard is not still full up with Christmas food that will end up in the bin as it runs out of date as it has in the past.

Some people will say I am being a Scrooge or tight fisted and yet this is not the case. We don't go without and we still eat well. It is down to choice and my choice is to be sensible in what I buy, why would I want to throw £'s straight into the bin?

As I have said in previous posts writing out my monthly menu has really helped to save us money where food is concerned and also cuts down on food waste (there isn't any!) Before my menu making days we would often buy a takeout even though we had a freezer full of food, my shopping would be about £100 a week and I would forever be throwing uneaten food in the bin.

I have found some great resources on how to cut down on food waste in the home.  Is a great site for finding out more on how to save on your food wastage. It has all the facts and figures on food wastage, a recipe page, a page where you can type in your leftovers and it comes up with a recipe. Portion planning and how to store food which is also important to stop your food wastage.

This is not only about saving money but also the impact food wastage has on the environment. It is staggering the amount of water that is used in food production and with food being wasted so is our precious water resources. The carbon footprint is staggering in food production, from imports to the packaging and food thrown away in the landfill sites.

Taking a step back and looking into something can be truly eye opening and amazing. It wasn't until I thought I would post about food wastage and looked into the facts that I realised the amount of other resources that goes in to food production and then for it all to be wasted in excess is quite saddening when there are starving people in the world.

I will step of my soap box for now, until next time x

(No money was earned through the mention of the above websites, the opinion is my own)

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Great site to get you saving

I was just going through my emails when an email popped up from moneysavingexpert As it is the new year and a new start If you are wanting to make changes and saving take a look at this website. Whether you are looking to make saving on your utility bills, food shopping or holidays this site really has lots of great tips and advice and points you in the right direction.

I signed up to this last year and get regular emails with the latest up to date offers and have turned to moneysavingexpert when looking for a new bank account, insurance and also to change electricity & gas suppliers.

Right enough dithering about dinner needs sorting. Until next time x

(No money was earned by my recommending the above mentioned website. The opinion I have given is my own)

Clear blue skies

A Perfect day!

With a day like this how could I resist pulling on my wellies and venturing out into the garden. As I sit here typing not only do I have rosy cheeks and a daft grin  on my face I also have mud splatters!

I managed to wobble on the ladder and clean out the guttering, however I did have to use my hoe to reach some areas as with me not being very tall and just a small pair of steps I could not reach over the compost bins and there was no way I was going to empty them out and move them.

I ripped off the netting (this is how I got the mud on my face) and pulled on my pink rubber gloves and scooped out all the muck and debris. It wasn't as full or compacted as I thought it would be, it is the blooming catkins from the tree. To be honest the tree is a pain in the butt, but Jay wants to keep it even though he is not the one who has to clean up the leaves ect! It does give us quite a bit of privacy and does add shape and structure to the garden. Perhaps I can persuade him to remove the sliver birch and replace it with a fruit tree. (hint hint if you are reading!)

As I got that job done quicker than I expected I thought I would sort out the small raised bed and transplant the strawberry plants from the various pots and containers about the garden. First I emptied out three used growbags onto the bed and dug this in with some blood, bone & fish meal. I raked it over and planted the strawberries. There were twelve plants, hopefully they will grow, if not I will be off to the garden centre to buy some more.

As you can see I have chicken proofed it, I just hope the little dears will keep off it! Whilst I was out there I had a look about the garden to see what jobs needed doing. As it has been so wet everywhere is just slimy and green. The garden furniture, the decking, the garden bench and even the patio. I have also noticed a couple of the fence posts have rotted so these will need replacing too. The jobs todo list is getting longer by the day!

It is supposed to be cold but dry at the weekend and it is Jay's weekend off so we are hopefully going to be spending sometime in the garden and having a sort out.

Well I need to go and have a shower to clean this muck of my face and out of my hair! Until next time x

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Planning and Plotting

We woke to a miserable damp and misty morning which did not improve at all today, a typical winters day. I would much rather have a cold blustery dry day with a hint of sunshine thrown in for good measure that is my perfect winter's day and great for going for a walk or even a bit of gardening, oh well perhaps we will be in for some nice weather soon.

Anyway we got the shopping out of the way we had to also go and purchase a new tumble dryer, all my efforts to keep the old one going was no longer an option and with six of us I can not forgo having a dryer. We went to both aldi's and farm foods and spent about £150.00 and this will feed all six of us plus the additional mouths that we have at weekends for the next three weeks and perhaps a few extra days. This shopping included toiletries, detergents and other household items. We will probably spend an additional £20  during the month for milk and fresh produce as and when needed.

Below you can see a shot of our menu, I have only done it for three weeks as myself and Jay are away for five days at the end of January and I will just make slightly more of the meals we have during January and freeze it for when we are away.

I did post the link for a meal planner in a previous post but you can see it by clicking here There are also filled in planners and lots of recipes to suit all budgets and tastes.

Jay made us a lovely brunch of eggs Benedict made with fresh eggs from the girls and a beautiful piece of home cooked gammon perched on a toasted muffin and dressed with Hollandaise sauce. 

I went out and cleaned out the girls whilst they ran about and rummaged about the garden.I have had a look at the roof on the summerhouse, I need to clean out the guttering on the summerhouse as they have become blocked with leaves and catkins from the silver birch tree. I did put netting over the guttering but they have still filled up and blocked and this is forcing the water into the roof and causing the leak.  So now I know (or think) I know what is causing the problem I can fix it. I will hope to get this done either Tuesday or Wednesday this week weather permitting of course. 

I have also been doing my planning for the vegetable garden. I grabbed my boxes of seeds from the summerhouse and had a look through to see what I had and to make sure all was in date. I have been reading through my previous posts from last year to see what was a good grower and what wasn't and to be honest there was not that many successes!

I have decided to grow a selection of salad crops in various pots and containers up on the decking and hopefully they will not suffer to much slug damage by being up off the ground, especially if we have the wet weather we had last year. I will also have the tomatoes up on the decking growing in pots. 

I am growing my strawberries in the small raised bed, the girls are little monkeys and keep jumping up and digging here so this might be a bad move unless I can keep them off.

In the large raised bed I will be growing peas, beans, carrots and the new vegetable I am going to try and grow which is fennel. I will not be bothering with onions this year but I will be growing more salads and herbs and will hopefully have better success with the sweetcorn and I also want to grow Jerusalem artichokes. I will grow the potatoes in the growbags as usual. 

In the vegetable plot I will have various cabbages, broccoli, cauliflowers and leeks in one section. In the next section I will have beans and sweetcorn and in the last section I will have squashes,courgettes and hopefully squeeze in a pumpkin plant. 

This is just a rough sort of plan, it always changes as time goes on but it is something for me to aim for. I will be sowing my broad beans direct in the ground in March and also the leeks. In the greenhouse the first sowings will be herbs, peas and cauliflowers. Last year I was sowing already but I am going to wait it out this year and hopefully have a bit more success.

I found a really good website earlier all about companion planting. I like to be as organic in my vegetable growing as possible and by growing certain plants together this can help combat the pests that attack our plants. I am going to plant basil with my tomatoes as this improves flavour and growth. 

I will again plant marrigolds around my brassicas and I will also be planting basil, thyme and sage amongst the cabbages and also using mint as a mulch helps to keep the cabbage white butterfly away. Anything that will help me to get my greens to the table in an organic way will be used!

And planting chives, leeks and carrots together helps to combat carrot fly. I don't know if any of this will work but it can't hurt to try. 

The website to find out all about companion planting is Golden Harvest Organics and can be found HERE

Well that is it from me for now, I hope you have all had a great weekend. Until next time x

Saturday, 5 January 2013


Another job done and dusted! We have been having a bit of a move around and it was time I tackled what I call my messy area. I am having to share my space so I had to have a major throwing away session and have a good sort through everything rather than just moving it about and hoping it would all shrink and disappear.

I have to admit I am not happy about having to share my space, but Lewis does have the smallest bedroom in the house and when he has friends over they tend to take over the lounge. Having quite a large family can be difficult sometimes when it comes to having your own space, it is often a case of muddling through and getting on with it. I can always go and sulk in my potting shed if I want to especially when all their noise drives me crazy!

Anyway here is a look at what I have been up to for the past couple of days.

In the middle of it all
There is still some bits to sort out but I am almost done, but it does look a lot better than it did and I will say that the top picture was taken once I had started emptying things out and sorting through all the paper work.

The lounge is coming together nicely, I just need to get the tables finished and get Jay to order the blinds. It still has the look of a waiting room with all the seating but as I said before there are many bottoms that need a seat!

Getting the indoor jobs done now gets me another step nearer to getting down to the potting shed. We are doing the food shopping tomorrow so once that is all done I will hopefully still have enough light and time to see where the leak is.

We have a full house again tonight so I better make a start on feeding the hoard. On the menu tonight is a vegetable curry, chicken tikka masala a vegetable byriani and nan breads, all home made except the bread, there just wasn't enough time. I hope you are all enjoying your weekend, until next time x

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Clearing the decks


I am making a fresh start today, Jay has gone back to work so I can get on and get stuff sorted. I have cleared away the Christmas decorations and already have them back up into the loft. I have done several loads of washing and given the kitchen a good tidy up and clean. It is amazing how much rubbish and bits of this and that accumulate on the Island in the kitchen. 

I have been out in the garden earlier and cleaned out the girls, they have been out and about in the garden as it is quite a fine day and they can keep out of the muddy run and enjoy digging for grubs in the drier soil and  also enjoying a dirt bath. I have just put them back with the aid of a few handfuls of corn. We have been quite lucky we are still getting one or two eggs a day.

I still haven't had a chance to go through my seed box yet or sort out the garden plan,  I am hoping to do at the weekend. I have had a quick tidy and sweep up in the summerhouse as one of the boys had spilled quite a bit of chicken feed all over the floor, it is blooming freezing down there and damp too because of the leak we have. I am hoping to get that sorted out this weekend also.

The to do list for major jobs about the house is growing along with an immediate list of jobs that need doing as soon as humanly possible. I have so much I want to do but as usual not enough hours. I will have to work on my time management! 

The new monthly menu needs doing, I know the freezers are quite empty but the store cupboards are well stocked, I will do a check and then see what can be made with what I have then work on what we have left with the remaining days. It can be quite a challenge writing out a menu for a whole month and is quite time consuming, however it does save both time and money in the long run. We have a set budget and I am hoping to come in under the set budget and set it aside for other things. 

If you want to do a menu then Netmums has a great meal planner  which you can download, both a weekly and a monthly planner are available as well as some great ideas, recipes and tips for meal planning. 

That is it from me for today the hoover is on standby. Until next time x

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Happy New Year!!!

Happy New year!!!

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy new year, and a big thank you to you all for visiting and reading my blog. Thank you all so very much for your support and I hope you will continue to join me in the coming year. Until next time x

(Image Courtesy of )
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