Friday, 22 November 2013

My Kind of Shopping

Our recent grocery shopping has been mostly happening at Morrison's.  Normally I prefer shopping around and changing the supermarket each week, depending on offers - but shopping at Morrison's in order to take advantage of their Christmas Bonus offer has been OK, especially as the £40 required weekly spend is not our whole grocery budget, leaving a bit available for any fresh produce top-ups, or Lidl's half price weekend meat offers ;o) 
But then we got a £10 off a £50 spend voucher for Sainsbury's.... And as we only need 9 vouchers over a 10 week period to qualify for Morrison's Christmas bonus, we thought, well.... It'd be rude not to.
So here it is - £50.99 worth of groceries.
And here is what we actually paid for it:

Yup, a whole 49 pence.  £17.50 worth of Nectar points (gathered mostly through credit card use - credit card paid in full each month - and AdPoints);  £23 worth of Luncheon Vouchers (earned by answering surveys)..... And all that shopping up there ours for 49p.
I must shop like that again some time soon !

Monday, 18 November 2013

Coconut Loaf

1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup dessicated coconut
1 cup milk
Mix all together, pour into a greased loaf tin, bake on 180 C for 40-45 minutes. 
Try to take a picture before it's all gone.
I did it.  Just ;o)

Sunday, 17 November 2013

I'm Still Standing

Well, just about.

Thanks to all who have left comments in my absence - Barbara, I suspect that part of our energy savings with the stove top kettle is the fact that gas is still cheaper than electricity - but on the other hand, a stove top kettle still does not heat up as rapidly as plug-in electric kettle would (those are the energy guzzlers, the things that heat up really rapidly), so I would imagine that you'd still save money by switching.  Don't just take my word for it though, do a bit more research first..... Or try taking an electric metre reading before and after boiling a kettle, and then before and after boiling the same amount of water in a saucepan with a lid - the energy use of a stove top kettle will be similar to the latter.

As for the kettle itself - I just had to get a new one I'm afraid (after a couple of years, the lid on the old one fell apart - I held it together with superglue for a while, but a replacement was needed asap) - it's this one.

Right, now I'm done trying to sound like I know what I'm talking about, here's a bit of what I've been up to over the last week or so:

                                              Blankets on the sofa to help keep warm:

Stocking up on half-price pork in Lidl and a beer kit in Tesco (down to the last three bottles of the last batch):

Couponing - free stuff  (not something I'd have bought otherwise)

....and heavily discounted stuff:

Baking bread. The cheese and onion loaf was a hit - why does it always happen with the stuff I create to use up random imgredients that have been hanging around for yonks ?  In this case, dried onions - all gone now. 

Dealing with the last of the pumpkin flesh - cubed, roasted, frozen.

Marvelling at the garden mid-November - I've never seen it look so - well, floral - this late in the year. Not to mention the sunshine.  It does mean that windows need to be kept clean though..... Not usually an issue this time of year !

Taking random photos of the sky at different points in the day:


Watching this fella play Richard II
Making Christmas cards.

Laters, 'gators.....

Friday, 8 November 2013

It's Friday !

Woo-hoo !

So, after a week of colleagues being off sick (meaning mucho work for those of us who remained standing); a week of fighting their bug off myself (that elderberry syrup I made the other day rocks), and the general time-of-year overwhelmingness of it all....

....I am just so pleased and happy it is Friday at last and I get a couple of days where I at least do not have to go to work, even if the rest of my life is unlikely to step it down a notch just because it's the weekend.

You never know though :)

But hey, I did clean my windows this week, and now we can see through them, which is definitely a bonus when it comes to windows.  I made and ate lunchtime bean salads


                             We sparkled sparklers and ate jackets and bangers on Bonfire Night


And I gutted Jack and got another 1.8 kg of pumpkin to play with


We ate Tarka Dal with our cous cous (only 20 packets left, wey-hey !)

Half a cup of red lentils
3 cups of water
1 flat tsp if salt

Bung it all into a pot, bring to a boil, then simmer for 20-30 min until you are left with a thick soup.

1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp chili powder (or to taste)
Oil or ghee, for frying
Dice and fry the onion; add crushed garlic and the spices, give it a good stir.  Add to the lentils.
As ever, it doesn't look pretty.....

But it tastes like heaven.
And then there was the free stuff....


                                                        .... and the heavily discounted stuff.

And finally, there was a copy of Terry Pratchett's   Raising Steam.  I might be behind on pretty much everything..... But I am keeping up with my reading.  Some things are just too important.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Elderberry Syrup

Take some elderberries and stick them into a pot, with just enough water to cover ('scuse the steam, they wuz boiling).  Bring to the boil, simmer for 20 minutes.
Strain into a measuring jug.  For every pint of juice, add a pound of sugar and 12 cloves.  As you can see, I barely managed a quarter of a pint, which is a shame.  I might have to go out and see if the late onset of winter means there are still elderberries knocking about on trees anywhere.
Bring back to the boil, then simmer for 10  minutes.  Allow to cool, pour into a sterilised bottle. If you have loads of syrup, requiring numerous bottles, try to divide up the cloves equally between bottles.
Take a spoonful when needed to combat colds and flu.  In fact, if you have plenty, feel free to take a spoonful every day and prevent, rather than cure.  I shall have to hoard mine carefully to use only in dire emergencies though. 
And if you are stuck for something to do whilst the syrup is simmering away, feel free to attend to your drains, as I did.  Of course, once I've done that, I went to catch up with my blog reading (been saving them up for a lazy afternoon), and found that I could have used salt for the same purpose, which would have been a more frugal option.
My way is more spectacular though - feel free to invite small children to watch and charge them admission to offset the cost of ingredients. 
You will need soda crystals, citric acid, and a kettle full of water. 

A tbsp. of soda, a tbsp. of acid, and hey presto - fizz and hiss and foam like there's no tomorrow.  As the stuff is doing its, well, stuff, to your drains, put the kettle on and once it's boiled, tip it down the drain.

All done.
As for dinner, well, a Sunday with OH home means roast potatoes, which tonight were accompanied by a chicken pie.
Here's the filling - chicken and sweetcorn in white sauce -

- and here's the pie. 
I helpfully labelled in case I forgot what it was before dinner.  It worked - as I took it out the oven, I read the crust and immediately knew it was a pie.


And I am still writing, and that makes me happy, even if it is a contributing cause of suddenly existing in a state of utter overwhelm.  Still, one day at a time.... Sometimes that's all we can do.


Saturday, 2 November 2013

Keep It Clean

Yesterday I ran out of washing powder, which meant that today was a good day to try something I've planned to do for a while - that is, use the ingredients I had in already to make my own laundry powder, rather than rush out to buy some more.
The recipe I followed was
2 cups grated soap
1 cup borax
1 cup soda crystals
Simples.  I grated the soap - think I need to try to grate it finer next time.  Trial and error, that's the way it usually works.....

.... well, coarse as it was, I mixed the lot together, put the remaining ingredients back into their box, and now I just need to wait until I have a load of laundry to wash. 

That having been taken care of, I went and started a novel.  Then I chopped an onion, crushed a clove of garlic, chopped a carrot and a potato, and then tipped the innards of my Jack-O-Lantern into the mixture.  Barely cover with stock, bring to boil.... Remember you forgot the celery, run outside and pick a few stalks, stick them in.  Take a photo.

Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 35-40 minutes.  Leave to cool slightly then blend with a stick blender.  This will be our dinner tonight, with a granary roll each.
Lunch was this:  onion, pepper, peas, tomato sauce

and orzo pasta

And I've eaten rather too much of it.

Other than that, I have changed the comment form to allow people to comment without a Google account or similar - so if you've been put off from leaving a comment because you do not have an online account, do say hello now - I love hearing from you :o) 
Of course, I am aware that allowing anonymous comments can lead to nastiness and spam - but we'll burn that bridge if we ever come to it.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Want Want Want

There is so much I want to write about at the moment.  Storecupboards - what to store, and what I have in. Leading on to menu planning, and how I do it. How to have a home cooked meal on the table even when you work full time plus and your brain has turned to sawdust and your autopilot (itself turned to sawdust) is running your life.  About home educating for A Levels and the challenges and triumphs of growing a young adult who does not fit any known mould.
Then there's all that stuff I first need to find time and energy to do before I can write about it - like making blackberry wine, or elderberry and clove syrup.  This latter I really must hurry up with, as it's only a matter of time now before someone comes down with the sniffles.
Plus the final tally of STOP-tober, and what the month taught me, and what I will take forward.  And various other things stemming from that, things I fail to even remember what they are,  all stuck in the blog post drafts, to be attended to.... Some time.
And then there is other stuff, like book reviews, and my rather belated discovery , after a decade in which I managed to notch up just one single theatre visit (and that was last year, with DD), that now every Cinderella can go to the ball for the price of a cinema ticket, thanks to the live theatre broadcasts (and some much-welcomed repeats) to local cinemas.  I won't say it's as good as being there - it isn't - but it's the next best thing.  And certainly after a show like the one we've seen last night (Danny Boyle's  2011 staging of Frankenstein), the bulk of the audience seems to forget that they are not really there, and that a standing ovation is neither here nor there a couple of years after the actual night of the show.
Still.  There is a magic about make-believe.... And this was about as magic as they get.
So yes, I want to write about Frankenstein, and what the story means to me.  Some day.
Not to mention that, after I got An Idea a couple of weeks back, and cramped my right hand into a claw feverishly writing down a 5000 word synopsis for a novel (it has to be longhand at this stage, else it evaporates - mercifully, now all that is down, I ought be able to type from now on), and what I would really, really like to do, is challenge myself to write a first draft of this novel in the next three months.... To have this first draft, at least, finished by my 37th birthday.  Because, for some reason, this feels important.  To me, for me. 
And in order to start as I mean to go on, I really should have started today.  But I didn't, and I won't.
I did manage to get everyone fed  two or three meals, depending on their availability at home; I went to work and did the job I am paid to do:  and I have kept on top of the laundry.  I have even washed up after dinner. 
However, that is all there is for today.  I am now running on empty, which is why I remain stuck in the wanties for a little while longer, and as none of those fabulous posts I would really like to write for you are getting written tonight..... I am just going to stick some random photos of our dinners and similar to the bottom of this one and be done with it for tonight.