Monday 30 April 2012

A done sort of day!

Saturday and Sunday sort of drifted by in a bit of a haze. OH woke up not feeling 'right' and wringing his hands – something he never does. “Chest pains again?” “Yes, not as bad as last time though”. So we had a quick breakfast, got a snack and drink ready and were on our way to A.& E. within 20 minutes.

You might think stopping to eat and drink before leaving a little strange but we learned just how hungry and thirsty you can get spending hours in A. & E. last July. Anyhow, I used to be a nurse and other than very elevated blood pressure and subsiding pains, everything else was okay.

Have you ever been to A' & E. early on a Saturday morning? No neither have we but it was absolutely empty (other than the ambulance side).

Within a couple of minutes of arriving, we were checked in, E.C.G. was performed and announced fine – thank goodness. Bloods taken, on our way for a chest X-Ray, then given a cup of tea to await results of said blood tests. Machine broke down, did we want another cup of tea – no thanks. 2 hours later all was declared well, no heparin injection this time but he has to go back to G.P. to see about upping or changing his medication for hypertension.

This was a re-run of last July except that time it was early Monday morning and the place was heaving. We arrived around 9:30 am direct from the surgery who thought he might be having a heart attack. E.C.G., blood tests, heparin injection off to M.A.U.

OH didn't leave until nearly midnight – someone had forgotten to check he had had his second blood test. He hadn't so the consultant who had seen him in A. & E. that morning and was just going off duty at 23:00 hrs, was very annoyed as you can imagine. He did the tests himself and 'chivvied' along the lab. Within 1/2 an hour both he and OH were on their way home.

So Sunday (still not feeling right but feeling better than Saturday) plus the weather meant another day of rest for him and baking for me.

Today, the sunshine is out, he feels good and we are busy working slowly in the garden. It has turned into a 'done' sort of day.

Put up temporary greenhouse: done

Photograph new plants for garden page – check them out!: done
Pot on tomatoes, beans etc: done
Have a cup of tea in the garden: done
Get some washing hanging on both lines: done
Oh yeah – donate blood (well only me this time as OH wasn't allowed to): done

As you can see, we are having a 'done' kind of day. Now we're going to sit down and rest. That's the best thing after donating blood, a cup of tea, club biscuits and resting for the rest of the day!

Sunday 29 April 2012


I am definitely going to have to erect my temporary greenhouse tomorrow. The French and Runner beans have had to come back inside as it is just too cold for them during the day outside at the moment. I'm sure they must think it is still winter.

Anyhow, baking day today (at least the kitchen will be warm). All this chilly weather means we have almost run out of logs and our meagre heating (normally one hour but now a maximum 2 hours a day) means our electricity for this week has gone up by 4 day units and 2 night units – shock horror!

Made my bread and whilst that was proving, got the pastry done for our roast equivalent dinner for 2 days – a steak, kidney, onion and potato pie.

Left over pastry was turned into 8 jam and oat tarts. I don't brush my pies with an egg as I consider it a waste of an egg, therefore they always look a little pale.

As neither of us was very hungry, we had a quarter each plus peas and gravy. 
Then finally, the bread was cooked.

We might have some tonight with some soup or might have a real treat of fresh bread spread with home made greengage jam! 

Now I am off to make us a cup of tea and have a couple of those jam tarts.

Saturday 28 April 2012

Two bargains

First of all, welcome to Jane and Lance who have kindly joined my blog. 
I shall pop along to yours in the very near future.

Topping up with a few extras of food we needed to begin our new menu, we got two very good bargains. A bag of tomato seconds reduced from 59p to 45p in which were 3 lb 10 oz of slightly squidgy tomatoes. Once I'd got rid of the bad bits, I was left with 1 good tomato and 10 oz of waste. Not bad at all.

Anyway, I made some fresh tomato and split lentil soup with all of the tomatoes, some red split lentils etc. This should last us 2 – 3 days.

The second bargain was 20 geranium cuttings for £3, which equates to 15p each. They are mixed colours so should look good. Although I am growing my own container plants this year and they aren't looking too bad (would look happier if only it would stop raining), I needed something long lasting to plant in my window boxes besides wild flowers. 

Going to erect the temporary greenhouse next week as the first sown French and Runner beans are getting too tall for the perspex canopy on the raised bed. I'll need to get the above geraniums and tomatoes out there as well once they are potted on.

Friday 27 April 2012

How to make your own yoghurt

First of all, greetings to my 2 new followers, Rose H. and Michelle. Welcome aboard the Norfolk Frugal express.

I have mentioned on a previous post about making home made yoghurt following instructions from Rhonda here

As I needed to make some more, (beginning yesterday Thursday) herewith the instructions and photographs.

First, set your oven to 100 Celsius and sterilize everything you are going to use for 10 minutes (if its able to go in if not put things in boiling water) once its up to temperature.

I put in my pan, whisk, spoon and storage jar – which is the only thing left in when this photograph was taken!

Put 1.4 litres of milk (any kind) into your pan, whisk in 2 rounded tablespoons of milk powder (I use Marvel), clip on a thermometer and bring the milk up to 90 Celsius – DO NOT LET IT BOIL! 

If you are going to stir it, try not to bring up any brown bits of milk from the bottom of the pan as it cooks.

The first time I made yoghurt I did it direct on the stove top, this time, I made myself a double boiler. I reckon if you have a digital thermometer you could bring your milk up to temperature in the microwave – it would be a lot quicker – again, DO NOT LET IT BOIL!

When the milk reaches 90 Celsius, remove from the heat and float the pan in cold water, leaving the thermometer in place. SWITCH OFF AND REMOVE JAR FROM OVEN.

Stir milk carefully to help bring it down to 40 Celsius. Keep a close eye on it as it reduces temperature very quickly. Remove jar from oven just before it gets to 40C. As it gets near to 40, remove from water. Carefully whisk in 2 rounded tablespoons of live yoghurt (you can use some of your own here but I don't yet know how long it stays alive!). Remember not to scrape the bottom of the pan.

Make sure your jar is not too warm, it should be warm to the touch but not boiling hot. Pour milk into the jar, put on the lid.

Wrap your jar in a large towel then put it into an insulated bag. 

If there is too much of a gap around the towel, put another one in to fill up your bag. The first time I made yoghurt, I wrapped it in two towels then left it in a waste paper basket, in my living room but out of direct sunlight.

Rhonda says it should take between 6 and 10 hours but I leave it alone until the next morning. Then you remove it from the container, unwrap it and all being well you should have yoghurt which you can store in your fridge for up to two weeks (ours doesn't last that long it is that nice).

This morning I unwrapped it and here it is, 1.4 litres, set as usual. 

Really pleased as this was my first attempt using some of our previously made yoghurt as the starter. The whey? starts to form as soon as it is ready. When I drain it off I use it in baking. I'll also strain half of it overnight through a sieve and cheesecloth to make some yummy extra thick yoghurt.

Thursday 26 April 2012

New 4 week rotating menu - photo update!!

In an effort to try and cut down our food bill and also follow some  lovely Pro Point recipes, devised by Bev. I have designed a 4 week menu - hope you can read it. We don't need to lose much weight but these recipes are so nice. DS. & FDiL. have said by following a menu plan with these meals you save money - so hopefully, it might help get us down into our £160 per month food challenge.

By using this menu, we shouldn't get fed up and if and when the weather warms up, it can be adapted to use more summery ingredients. We are going to begin today with Week 1 and Thursday – a few days after the start of this months challenge but the missed days can be added on at the end if needed.

Well, we really, really enjoyed our Week 1 Thursday meal of Cheese and Bacon Lasagne. Here it is fresh from the oven

and then served up with a fresh tomato each. 

It might have only had 4 lasagne sheets of pasta in it but it was enough.

Then to finish, we had a treat (don't normally have many desserts) of an orange with strained and thick home made yoghurt plus a teaspoon each of runny honey. 

The honey had the effect of making the yoghurt taste like whipped cream. It was a larger serving of yoghurt than normal (normally 1/2 an American measuring cup each) as we needed to finish it. Yum.

DS. & FDiL., you really need to try this one, so much nicer than the one on the original sheet I sent you. xx

Wednesday 25 April 2012

'Digesting' our £140 per month food challenge for the first quarter

Well, I have just added up the first 3 months food shopping challenge,  (January 24th to April 23rd) allowing £140 per month for absolutely everything and it has come to a total of £460.79. That is an overall overspend of £40.79, making each days food bill approximately £5.12p for us both or £2.56 each. Doesn't sound too bad when I break it down but we could do better.

Next quarter began on April 24th and will run until July 23rd. We haven't included the bit of money we spend on food whilst out on our weekly walks as the snack/meal is considered a treat. We usually only have toast or something else small for tea if we feel we need something. 

Ah well, onwards and upwards. I'll go to my food challenge page now and get it up to date.

Tuesday 24 April 2012

Come back Sergei, come back!!

Well, I find myself in a similar circumstance to Scarlet in that I have lost a follower. Can't work out who it is though as my list only changed from 38 to 39 in the past couple of days. Maybe someone had followed me twice, or changed blogs and their old blog has finally disappeared – who knows. “Come back Sergei, come back”

Had my next eye check up at the hospital. I still have this weird thing going on in the back of the eyes but it hasn't grown or changed so that is good.

My field tests are also very good. I have the continued flashing which indicates my posterior viscous detachment is still ongoing.However, he doesn't want to see me again for a year unless of course I get the old black curtain forming which indicates a retinal detachment and I would need to go immediately to A & E. Hopefully, that won't happen.

Other than that, not a lot is happening. Just had my hair low lighted at home, to give it a little more colour. A nice hair cut and blow dry finished it off. All for £30, not bad methinks!

Monday 23 April 2012

Using up leftovers from 2009 and 2010!

Firstly, welcome to my new followers Jellie and Kim.

Yesterday saw me digging around in the bottom of my frozen fruit draw. I came across some gooseberries from 2009, maybe 1/2 lb or so. Doing the same in my preserve cupboard, I found some 2010 Blackcurrant jam.

Wondering what I could make as I didn't have any margarine, butter or eggs, the fridge held the answer - reduced fat suet. That's it, a jam and fruit roly poly!

I weighed 4 oz S.R. Flour, 2 oz Suet and put them in a bowl with a tablespoon sugar.

I added enough water (just a few tablespoons) to bring it together and rolled it out around 8” - 10” or so, and lifted it carefully onto a silicone baking sheet.

A layer of the blackcurrant jam was put on the pastry, leaving the edges clear for sealing.

Then 3/4 of the jam was covered with the cooked, mashed and well strained gooseberries.

The outer margin was dampened with water and the whole thing rolled up, and lifted onto a baking tray.

It was cooked at 190 Celsius for 30 minutes, removed from the sheet (as it had just started to boil over the edges of the silicon sheet and I wanted to get the baking tray into soak).

We had half of it with a little cream (after having for our main a pork curry and rice) and tonight, we'll finish it off with a little custard after some mushroom risotto!

To cheer ourselves up during Sunday's appalling wet weather, I nipped out in-between showers to pick some flowers.

Sunday 22 April 2012

Making citrus cleaner

A lovely sunny morning has at last arrived and I've been potting on my tomatoes, peppers and other things currently outliving their pots in the conservatory.

I've done a load of washing (in shampoo having run out of laundry liquid - must make some). I was going to put it on the line but as it is bedding and is now clouding over, has been left inside. Duvet covers and sheets are not the sort of washing you can dash outside to retrieve very quickly.

Having made my own yoghurt I'm now turning to cleaners. I usually use vinegar and or bicarbonate of soda. Clothes are washed with frugal laundry liquid. On this lady's web site, she tells you how to make citrus cleaner which can be used on most but not all surfaces - Citrus Cleaner

Anyway, here is me making it:

Take a large jam jar and 3/4 fill it with white vinegar (I used distilled) but was so shocked at the hike in price, am going to look elsewhere for it!!

Peel any citrus fruit using a peeler, or you can peel it first the normal way then remove the excess pith and use the skins. Anyway, I choose to do it like this as I intend to chop the orange up to put into my yoghurt.

Put the peel in the jam jar. Put on a sunny windowsill and wait for 2 - 3 weeks. You don't have to make it all in one go, it can be made one fruit at a time as and when you eat them.

Once it is ready, drain it and mix the citrus vinegar 50/50 with water. Put into a spray bottle and off you go. Although she doesn't say so, I have read somewhere else that the skins can be composted. She also seems to keep different citrus fruit separate - don't know if you need to or not.

QUESTION: If I use vinegar as a fabric conditioner in my washing machine, could this be used to add scent to the clothes or would the oils make a mess of them?

Anyway, I'm going to try with my towels once it is ready as I tumble dry those and am curious if it will make them smell of citrus.

As I was making bread yesterday, I decided to 'drain' my yoghurt overnight to obtain some whey. Got almost enough so added a little water to it. Anyway, the bread came out very well and the yoghurt is more delicious than it was at first. Had a small bowlful each (half a cup) with chopped orange and honey. One more bowl each left then shall have to make some more.

Saturday 21 April 2012

Are you struggling with the new interface?

Having fathomed out how to use the bits of the new interface I actually need, thought I would pass my findings onto your good selves! Apologies if you have already fathomed out how to use it.

I posted yesterday on how to get back to your old blogger interface but I'll put it here as well so everything is together on one post.

You will find that this new interface pops up constantly even when you have clicked 'return to old blogger interface'. Should you find yourself yet again on the new interface, look for this symbol.
Click on the little wheel thing and the drop down menu lets you revert back to the old interface.

Now for the rest of the things I have found how to use:

Depending on where you were on your blog when you signed out, these pages may appear in a different order. Anyway, if from your home page you click DESIGN, then this new style dashboard will arrive:

You can click the buttons on the left to go from here (and I do this further down on this post) but for now, I'm going to start on my actual web page which is usually where I arrive when I have signed in. I go top right and click New Post.

A post screen will open up with what appears to be an extremely small window. 

Don't worry, you can make it bigger by clicking on the LITTLE DOWN ARROW at the bottom of the screen where you type in your entry.

When you have finished typing in your post, don't forget to label it. You can find this feature on the right hand side of your post page:

Now either save your post to keep it in draft, preview or publish as normal. However, if you want to return to where you came from click the CLOSE button at the top.

You should return to a screen like this:

The left hand side of the screen will allow you to go where you wish. This is the same as the left hand side of the screen should you have chosen the DESIGN button rather than the NEW POST button at the start. So now you can edit posts, pages etc or return to your post and carry on writing.

Say you want to create or edit a page. Look left and press the page button.

You will come to a screen like this:

At the top is the button to create a new page. The rest of the screen allows you to edit, revert to draft or delete a page etc.

By always looking to the left of the screen you can click on comments, stats etc.

This button at the very top left of your screens, takes you back to your dashboard. 

If you see this button (without the word Blogger next to it), pressing it will take you to the list of those you follow. 

It will bring you to a screen like this:

Hope you don't mind Sarina, your post just happened to be at the top when I took a screen shot.

Anyone who has recently posted appears in the main screen, but to the left hand side of the page are the rest of the people you follow and you can click on them to visit their blog.

However, if you look to the right and click on the little wheel symbol:

It will take you to this screen:

Here you can manage your followers, add new ones or remove etc.

Once you have finished, towards the top is a small 'return to dashboard' link.
When you have finished working on your blog, look to the top right of your dashboard. Here you will find this button:

Click on the down arrow and you can then sign out.

So hopefully, I have covered most of what you will need, just press buttons and experiment. I don't know how long they will allow us to use the old interface so I am trying to get used to the new one. I'm not yet using Google chrome, heavens knows what that will add to the mix!

If you have found this post useful, please feel free to link to it on your blog. The more people read it, the less frustrated they might be.

Friday 20 April 2012

The new blogger interface (how to get your old one back)

New blogger Interface:

I've noticed some comments about the new blogger interface and those wishing to get back to the old one. Well you can, temporarily. On the top right of your new dashboard is this symbol. 

Click on the little wheel thing and the drop down menu lets you revert back to the old interface. 

Hope this helps you all - don't know how long they will allow you to do this though.

Thursday 19 April 2012

Yoghurt and other nice things ...

Been spending a bit of savings today. Had to get a quilt cover and some new sheets. We drove over to Wisbech to a really good shop called Dunelm (they are in some other places as well). Bought said items plus a nice large rug for the dining room. 

We are beginning to flatten the carpet as we walk through. It was originally bought for the back door area but seems too nice. However, if it ends up there, I must remind myself not to get upset when it gets grubby - message to self.

It's too big to wash in the machine but will be power hosed gently (when hosepipe ban is no longer on) to clean it. We also topped up our tea towels and got some things I needed to keep separately for making yoghurt.

Made my first full batch of yoghurt yesterday. Here is my baby, ain't she grand!

I rounded the 2 tablespoons of dried milk and the yoghurt starter and it is a lot thicker this time. I shouldn't have to buy starter (a small tub of live natural yoghurt) anymore, just need to keep 2 tablespoons of this. 

I've been reading from the same site that if I strain it through a nylon sieve or cheesecloth, it will become thicker still and can be used as Quark or cream cheese. The whey that separates out of it, can be used in baking or turned into ricotta cheese. Sounds a win win situation to me!

Anyway, price wise (not including electricity to sterilise the milk) works out at 62p for 1.4 litres. The milk came from Aldi at £1.00 for 2.2 litres of semi-skimmed. From Farmshops, it would have cost me 57p. I'm not including the electricity as our local shop doesn't sell natural yoghurt and we have to drive to town to buy it. I reckon the cost of electricity is cheaper than petrol.

When you think how much it costs to buy a good quality, low fat yoghurt, this is amazing. You can also make it using skimmed milk or all milk powder to make it.

The link to it is on my post for Sunday 15th April 2012. 

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Warming the cockles of our hearts!

Being such a chilly day (and we have warmed up our hand bean bags once already), I thought some oven roasted vegetable soup would warm us nicely.

Vegetables available today were: 1 1/2 onions, 1 courgette, 1 green pepper, 2 small potatoes, 1/2 butternut squash, 2 large carrots and 2 cloves of garlic. These were chopped into large chunks, drizzled with oil, celery salt (you can use any kind here) and pepper. Here they are before cooking.

They were placed on foil inside my grill pan and roasted for 1 hours at 200 Celsius, turning over half way through. Here they are hot from the oven.

Once done, carefully remove from the foil into a large pan. Rinse the foil off with a little boiling water to remove the lovely bits and pour this into the pan with the vegetables in. Add boiling water to cover the vegetables plus another 1” in depth. 

Squeeze in 2 tablespoons tomato puree and 2 stock cubes. Bring to a boil then simmer for 10 minutes.

If you want a chunky soup, remove a ladle or two of the vegetables before mashing or using a stick blender. Once blended add the vegetables you have saved back into the soup.

If you want a pureed soup, blend it all together. There should be no need to thicken it.

Serve with some nice bread and salt and pepper to taste.

Origins - the movie!

As it is such a miserable, wet and cold day, I have been busy over on my other blog A Liminal World. 

The final part of my major exhibition was this animated piece of graphic notation. Unfortunately, I can't embed it here as it is linked to my other blog. Here though, are two stills from the video:

If you want to know how and why it was created, you'll need to pop over there and read the last two items, which are tagged under the label Origins.
It was displayed in a blacked out booth, on a 42” plasma television screen and with a settee to sit and relax on.

Monday 16 April 2012

Welcome to my new follower Naomi – glad to have you on board.

Well it has been another sunny but very cold day again. We went for a 
2 1/2 mile walk around out local countryside. Could have kicked myself as I forgot to take my camera. 

There was much wild plum and sloe blossom, a few rogue tulips and other garden escapee's. Sitting on the top part of a ditch, underneath the bare hedge, was a female pheasant on her nest.

We had an amazing hour or so yesterday of rain and hail. The garden turned white at one point.

I've been busy over at A Liminal World, putting together the final part of my year 3 work. Just the DVD to get organized – based on my family tree information then that will be that.

Sunday 15 April 2012

Hoorah and welcome!

Yesterday, I made my first batch of home made yoghurt. I used half the recipe (wasn't sure if the whole recipe would fit my jar - looks like it will) as per Rhonda Hetzel's  instructions which can be found here

I have made it before, years ago, using a yoghurt maker but somehow, it never came out correct. The machine always seemed too hot and it was always too runny or had a strange taste and smell. This one smells and tastes good. It is more like a natural yoghurt than a Greek one. Rhonda suggests adding a spoonful of jam/honey or whatever when using it to add flavour. I can also strain it to make Quark and other lovely things. We are both keen to do so, will let you know.

Half the back pond area has put on some early growth. The rest of the plants are just peeking through.

The gooseberries and one of the blueberries are in flower and it is nice to see the bumblebees can get in and out of the fruit cage okay.

This red flowered quince bush is at the front of the house. It also provides us with a few fruit but I have noticed, only a small part of it is flowering. Maybe the heavy frost got to it in winter.

Finally, welcome to our new bird, the cockatoo. 

He looks a little sad doesn't he but he'll soon make friends!. We decided to add more pinky-orange colour to him as he looked a little insipid. We don't try to make them authentic, just representative of what they should look like. I think once the loganberry gets going and covers them all slightly with leaves, it will look very jungle like in there. Hubby is now re-painting Indian Joe - watch this space!

Also, the first two early strawberries have begun to put out some flowers.