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Happy belated new year all.
I can’t believe its been so long since I wrote on my blog. Things have been hectic here.
I’m a grandma now! My daughter Keelie gave birth to a beautiful little boy just before Christmas. She is taking to motherhood so well. She sends me picture text messages most mornings once she’s dressed him to show me how cute he looks in that particular days outfit. I’m very proud of her.
I also got another new baby at Christmas… a brand new embroidery machine! Its wonderful but I have to admit I’m still a little nervous about using it. It is sitting in the corner looking all majestic and keeps giving the evil eye to my old Bernina. I hope to start embroidering little shirts and things for baby Dylan. Once I get the hang of it i’ll put some pictures up if anyone is interested.
Well its only a short post today. As many of you know the tenth would have been my beautiful daughters birthday so its quite a difficult time for me right now. We are hoping to go to the seaside again as we did last year. That was beautiful. Walking on the beach with a weak sun trying hard to make us smile. We had fish and chips near the sea and watched the world go by. I think its important to go out and do something to celebrate the day. Happy birthday to my little darling x
I know I’ve not written anything on my blog for a while but there has been so much going on at this end.
We have finally got most of the renovation finished, just waiting on some new doors coming and then we can actually sit down and relax on an evening!
I’ve been walking the legs off the dogs and we all feel better for it. Well when I say ‘we’ that’s probably just me as the dogs favourite hobby is sleeping. They have such an easy life. They get up, have a little snooze while i’m getting ready for the walk, have food, then a couple of hours serious sleeping after the walk. Wake up in time for a bit of stick throwing or play fighting, then time for more food before settling down for the evening. Honestly they are not themselves if they don’t get a good nineteen hours sleep a day!
Anyway we go over into the national forest checking out the wild trees and bushes and remembering where all the best rosehips and apples are ready to start picking them later in the year. I’ve found some apple trees out in the forest that have lovely sweet apples on them. I plan to make wild apple and blackberry jam at the end of the week. Talking of blackberries, I’m really dissapointed in this years crop. I guess its due to the bad weather but most of the berries are small and hardly worth picking. Anything of a decent size is mushy. I’ve usually got a glut of them in my freezer by now but I’m struggling to get enough for a decent jam making session. I hope the weather dries out a bit and they improve
I hope to post a bit more often now the nights are drawing in. I’m sure that will please my parents. My mother keeps telling me that I should update it more often so people can see what I’m up to. My dad says if I don’t write something soon he’s unsubscribing!! I don’t know… forty one years old and I’m still getting told off by my parents!! Bless them both
Well I’m going to shock you all now with my good news…..
I’m going to be a grandma!!!
My second daughter has announced that she is expecting her first baby. I feel its a gift to our family as the due date is Christmas eve. Last Christmas was so empty without my eldest daughter and although I don’t think for one minute that the baby will replace her, thats impossible, but I do feel we now have something to look forward to. A hope for the future. I feel we deserve this baby and it already has so much love around it.
She has had a scan and its amazing to see that tiny little heart beat on the screen. She is due another scan in three weeks time and we will find out the sex of the baby. I think its a girl but we’ll see.
So it seems my life is going to get a whole lot busier. I’ve already put my name down for extra babysitting yaaaaaay!
I’m sat in the room listening to the thud of the builders hammer as he puts in a new staircase. I feel bad for sitting at my laptop whilst he is working hard… even though we are paying him! It seems an endless job this renovating malarky.
The kitchen is nearly done now, just needs the finishing touches like curtains and things. I love how its turned out. We had room to make a utility area and its got a pantry in yaaay! I’ve waited twenty years to design my own kitchen. I usually end up inheriting someone else’s design and ideas but this is ours and I’m happy.
Of all the rooms in the house I’m most excited about the kitchen because its where my cooking hobby takes place. If I’m feeling a little down I’ll go into the kitchen and cook up some comfort food such as chocolate chip cookies.
I spend hours in the kitchen roasting tomatoes for pasta sauces, bottling jam etc. You can usually hear the whirring of the Kenwood chef in the background making up the next batch of butter or a couple of eggs to make a cake.
I love wondering around car boot sales looking for old cast iron pans for renovation projects. My favourite cooking pots are old cast iron ones that I’ve sanded down to the iron and re seasoned. They become non stick and can their heat well so are money saving because you can turn off the pan and it will continue to cook for a little while and keep the food warm for ages. No one else is allowed to use my favourite pans and I hide them at the back of the cupboard!
We had a discussion over on MSE about moneysaving and is it worth it and I have to say that I would be lost if I didn’t have all my kitchen projects. I could stop making everything from scratch and have lots of extra time but what would I do with that time? I get so much pleasure from cooking and its made all the better if I found the ingredients at a reduced price or growing wild. Moneysaving is no longer a necessity for me but I think its in my blood now. If I go to the supermarket which is not that often these days as I try to use the farmers markets as much as possible, then I make a beeline for the reduced section. If I find a stash of cream for buttermaking or perhaps vegetables for sauces then I walk around the rest of the store excitedly planning what to make with my haul….. please tell me i’m not alone in this
Juice bars seem to be springing up everywhere and people are talking about the advantages of wheatgrass juice and sprouting seeds.
As a person who mills my own flour, I always have a large supply of wheat grains in stock. Sprouting grains is incredibly easy to do and you do not need fancy and expensive machines so save your money and use an old container and your windowsill.
I have an old Tupperware steamer that I use for my sprouting grains. It is in three parts. A base, a middle colander type basket and a lid. This is rather a sophisticated set up actually and you can make do with an old jar and a pair of clean tights for straining the liquid off.
This is my method.
I get a few grains of wheat and rinse them under the tap to remove and dirt and debris. Then I leave the wheat grains in plain water overnight just to get the germination process started.
Next morning I drain them off and just leave them. Within a day the little shoots are beginning to come through. A couple of times a day (when I remember!) I take the middle part of the steamer with the seeds in and let the water from the cold tap very gently wet the seeds. This keeps them hydrated and ensures good germination. A day or two later I start nibbling on them every time I walk past the windowsill. They have a lovely fresh taste that I would liken to podded peas.
You can sprout lots of different types of seeds and grains so experiment. They are so good for you… its like eating little nutritional powerhouses!
Here’s a picture of my seeds set up. As you can see, the little steamer works perfect, no need for expensive seed sprouters!
Don’t worry about liquid feeding the seeds. Each seed comes with its own little food supply built in and that will last it until you eat it.
If you leave the seeds for a week or so you will have the wheatgrass that is often seen in the juice bars.
At this stage you can juice the seeds and make delicious wheatgrass juice. If you don’t have the right type of juicer for the job then its best to eat the seeds before they grow to this stage. They are still edible but you will probably end up spitting out the fibrous part once you have extracted all the juice and goodness from it. Not very ladylike, but a lot cheaper than buying a glass from a juice bar!
Easter already, I can’t believe how fast the nights are drawing out. Soon we’ll put the clocks forward and look forward to the long sunny evenings. But for now we’ll make do with the snow thats forecast this weekend!
I want to show you what I received through the post yesterday. Two lovely egg cosies knitted by my fellow blogger Indiebird. We’ve built up quite a friendship through our blogs and I want to thank her on here for doing such a lovely thing for me. I am going to have them on display in my dresser for everyone to see, they are very lovely and I don’t know if I dare use them in case I spoil them!
How clever is she?
I keep looking at them and smiling because they are soooo cute!
I don’t know if you have noticed but i’ve changed my header picture. That flower is actually growing in my garden. I keep looking at it and thinking how pretty it is. I’m really pleased how nice its come out as I’m not the best photographer!
Have a great Easter everyone. Wrap up warm.
Every third Saturday of the month is Ashby de la Zouch farmers market. I love to go along and check out all the lovely stalls, sometimes I treat myself to a freshly cooked burger whilst browsing. There’s a real mix of characters and I always ask questions of the stall holders as they have such a wealth of knowledge between them that they are willing to share. Most of them stand out as being really passionate about what they do. I buy from them and feel happy to know a little about the meat I’m buying.
There’s a man there who sells roosters. I always make a beeline for him as rooster is a fantastic alternative to chicken. Unfortunately in today’s society of egg farming and high output production there is often no place for the males. The chicks are sexed at a very early age and the males are often destroyed as they are no use to the egg farmer and to keep them alive would cost as they need feeding. Anyway that’s a debate I don’t want to get into here….
The roosters that I buy lead a good life. They sit around all day looking manly and keeping watch for danger, get up for a spot of dinner, maybe strut their stuff if they have the urge and then its bedtime! The meat of the rooster tastes like chicken but much stronger if that makes sense. The rooster doesn’t have to stress its body by using valuable energy and nutrients in the process of egg making each day which results in a wonderfully flavoursome meat. The stock from these birds is a thick gel that smells divine and is so deep and rich that it lifts any dish that it is used in. The rooster isn’t an expensive bird. I find it cheaper than an equal sized organic chicken in the supermarket.
I also bought some wonderful rare breed beef. I tend to buy a piece larger than I need so I can use the leftovers to make a meal for the next day. I treated us to some fillet steak too but we haven’t eaten that yet as I’m saving it for a nice weekend meal with a ton of onion rings all smothered in a mushroom sauce… I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!
I bought a couple of nice pork joints, chops and tenderloins for the freezer and some good streaky belly and shoulder to make into sausages. I shall be doing a sausage making entry shortly if anyone is interested?
Here’s just a selection of the meat I bought before I portioned it up for the freezer.
Another really good buy is the lamb pieces. I get a decent sized pack of gorgeous free ranging lamb pieces for a couple of pounds. I freeze them and use them for casseroles or curries. The flavour is so different to what you get in the supermarket and probably works out cheaper!
I came away with a real haul and hopefully that’s the families meat supply sorted until the next market. I also bought veg and ordered some oat groats as I like to mill them myself for porridge and muesli bars.
If you get the chance to visit a farmers market then I highly recommend it. Its such a relaxed atmosphere and I’ve noticed that lots of people go with their families and treat it as an afternoon out. No one seems to be in a rush and there’s always plenty of time to just browse and read the labels and information boards to find out more about where the products come from. There’s always children running about and quite a few people bring their dogs. I daren’t take my two boxer dogs as they are fed a raw meat diet and I have visions of them running around with sausages in their mouths being chased by angry stall holders in that Benny Hill style…. bless em!
So here I am with a well stocked freezer full of locally grown, thoughtfully raised meat. I feel good supporting the local community and feeding the family with ‘happy food’ Oh dear I’m sounding a bit Delia Smith now, well before she lost the plot and brought out her new book…. another entry for that one methinks!
For anyone who doesn’t know the history, I was invited by Martin Lewis, the money saving expert of it pays to watch (here’s the link, definitely worth a look http://www.itpaystowatch.co.uk/ ) to do a few short films on the way I live my life. The first one was on chicken keeping and this most recent one was about the beauty items I make.
Now the first time around I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve never been on TV before and I thought the camera crew would be the ‘luvvies’ we all hear about, but that was not the case, I had a lovely team and the filming turned out to be quite good fun!
For the second filming we concentrated on body butter, skin toners and body scrubs. I had a few jars ready but they wanted something a little more uniform in size so off up to Tesco we went, looking for some cheap jars. We looked everywhere but the cheapest plain containers were well over a pound and weren’t that nice. As we were about to leave we stumbled on some ‘soon to be out of date’ Christmas chutney in sweet little jars for just 10p… sorted!
So back to my house to empty out the contents of the jars. It looked sort of green and slimy. Now I’m all for moneysaving but I have my limits as to what I’ll eat… so I offered it to the dogs who just sniffed it and walked off with their heads in the air as if offended. Now we aren’t talking fussy dogs here, they scoff things out of the bin as if they were attending a banquet and finding chicken poo is a real highlight of the day, but Tesco’s chutney is not for them i’m afraid.
Laura from the camera team starts the unenviable task of peeling off the labels and cleaning the jars whilst Ray (the cameraman) builds up cameras the size of a small space station.
So then its down to the serious stuff. I simply have to stand there and describe in detail how I make body butter in my food mixer. Simple, just a two minute job you’d think, but no. We have to do it loads of times so the camera can take different views. We do it close up, far away, wide angle… I don’t actually know what wide angle is but I just nodded in approval when Ray suggested it so I looked like a real TV personality…
I quite enjoyed the practical side of filming but the ‘talkie’ bit was quite boring. I sat in my lounge on a little stool with camera’s and lights pointed directly on me. Its very hot sat there and even with the windows open I was sweating. The plan was that Laura would ask me a question about my beauty products and I would answer, including her question in my answer so people would know what I was talking about. Fine so far, Ray shouts ‘action’ and we are off. Laura asks me what ingredients I use to make my body butters. I reply “The ingredients I use to make my body butters are.. No idea” I’ve completely forgotten for a second….. this filming isn’t as easy as you may think! So we try again and this time its better. Laura and Ray are brilliant at this and they put me at ease. An hour later and this bit is finished… hooray!
Time for more of the fun stuff. Ray wants to get some close ups of the beauty products I make so we start making things look pretty. We add bows and ribbons to make the products look good enough to give as presents. The show is going out just before Mothers day and Martin’s team hope to show how to treat Mums with money saving ideas.
Here we are busily packing up body scrubs and bath bombs.
We worked hard for about ten hours but there were a lot of fun times. I don’t know what I’ve said wrong here but it obviously tickled Laura and Ray.
The team left in the evening and I was exhausted! I can’t believe how tiring it is doing this kind of thing. I’m so thankful to Martin Lewis for inviting me onto his show. I’ve done something that most people never get the chance to do and it spurred me on to doing the blog. Martin has thanked me personally and that means a lot that a celebrity would take time out to write to me.
‘It pays to watch’ has had fantastic audience figures and has now been commissioned for a second series so be sure to watch Channel 5 on Wednesdays at 7.30pm. Hey I sound like a TV presenter, I wonder if they have any jobs going!
Well its March 3rd again. My birthday. What will I be doing today then? Something moneysaving, glamorous, high flying? No I’ll be staying in bed. I’ve been in bed since Friday with a stomach bug. I can’t remember when I last felt so ill
I went to bed on Friday night with a spring in my step and feeling fine only to wake up a few hours later feeling like I was about to humanly combust! I was sweating from every pore and could hardly stand up. I spent the night on the bathroom floor try to cool myself down on the floor tiles. Hey I know how to live the high life.
So we fast forward to Sunday. As you know it was Mothers day and I had been looking forward to a day of pampering and scoffing chocolates by the pallet full, but no. I hadn’t eaten since Friday and I slept a full eighteen hours of Mothers day.. I woke up just as the kids were going to bed.
My family have been generous with the sympathy though bless them. My daughter did a flying leap onto my bed and asked what I was making for tea!
I’ve laid on my bed listening to the chaos going on downstairs. The family are trying to organise themselves but they are not used to this ‘housework’ malarky. I start to smell burning on Saturday evening and shout downstairs to hubby who rushes into the kitchen shouting rude words at the pasta he was cooking. By the time he gets to the cooker its a carbon mess in the bottom of the pan……. please god don’t let him be using my Le Creuset!
And as if he can read my thoughts, darling hubby shouts upstairs “its ok its not one of your best pans” Phew I got a bit worried there! Actually I shouldn’t have been so concerned, the family have strict instructions on which pans are safe for them to use. I had to enforce this rule after catching my son scraping his beans from my favourite pan with a metal spoon. To this day he says I over reacted as I span around the room like a crazed banshee threatening to cut off his fingers if he dared to even hold another metal object within thirty feet of my Le Creuset.
And now here we are on my birthday. I think I’ll treat myself later and have a slice of toast.. well I don’t want to overdo it. I feel a lot better than I have done so I may try a trip downstairs later.
Is it wrong to say I’m feeling a slight sense of satisfaction in knowing that the family don’t do so well without me. It was late Sunday evening and I had to tell hubby that if Alex’s uniform wasn’t washed soon it wouldn’t be dry for school this morning. Its amazing how routines fall apart so quickly! I think I may be appreciated that little bit more when I finally feel up to cooking and cleaning again.
So happy birthday to me. I haven’t been sick once yet today… things are looking up!