Wednesday 30 July 2014


DS and FDiL have had a difficult time of it all recently. His workplace started messing about not paying wages on time, earlier in the year, but the month by month delays carried on. Eventually, he was not paid at all for June and July.

Both sets of parents have brought each of them up to understand the need for emergency savings and this they had done. We all offered financial support if needed, still they endeavoured to deal with it on their own, (my heart just soars with pride at their strength).

Loving where he worked and where they lived, he hung on and hung on in the hope the financial problems would be sorted out. They weren't. Still he hoped and hung on, but was also wise enough to begin looking elsewhere.

In his line of work (the gaming industry), life can be itinerant as DS was about to find out. If you are a hard worker (he is), your reputation goes ahead of you (it did) and within a very short space of time, he was invited for interview. The new place has many people in it that he knew from his current work place, university days etc. He and boss liked each other, and an offer was made.

He hung on for just a few more days before accepting, as no financial information was forthcoming from his current place. He started this Monday (on more pay) but now has to drive quite a long way to and from work. As they are getting married early next year, they are not contemplating moving at the moment. He was finally paid everything he was owed, just before he left.

Well done guys, you won through in the end and karma is now taking you along another route.

Monday 28 July 2014

Welcome and busy

Welcome to Jane Galliford and Janice Piper via Bloglovin. You are most welcome.

Although yesterday was still quite warm, it was at least cooler for me to be in the kitchen baking. First thing was some bread, a mix of white, brown and polenta. It seemed drier than normal but seems to have risen okay:

Due to the temperature, after it is sliced, it goes into small bags for freezing, half a loaf at a time:
Once that came out of the oven, something for DB went in. He had run out of Granola, so a batch of Black Treacle Granola was duly made. He normally only eats this on Saturday morning but we both like to sprinkle it on home made yoghurt:
Only the oats and seeds bake in the oven, we like everything else fresh.

Then a quick break for a meal, grilled chicken, a few chips and loads of our green beans. By now the oven was beeping again to let me know the granola was ready. The last few sad blackcurrants, along with a few blueberries and a good sprinkle of dried coconut, were folded into a one egg sponge mix. I managed to get 5 muffins from it:
We shall have half of one this afternoon with a cup of tea. Two will be served for supper with some custard. The other two will be for a snack with a cup of tea tomorrow.

In-between doing all of that, I took 10 minutes out to make 4 litres of washing machine liquid, this time, incorporating some aromatherapy oil. I have no idea whether it will stay in the clothes but the liquid smells lovely:
Finally, in the garden, I pruned things, dead headed and gave everything a very good water. The next few days are set to be a little cooler thank goodness. However, although no rain was forecast for us until the beginning of next week, it thundered and rained enough overnight, to water the garden nicely.

Friday 25 July 2014

The unusual...

DS and FDiL for Christmas, bought me a gift of unusual vegetables. One was a purple carrot:
Quite a decent size as well. From the same gift, I am also growing Tigerella Tomatoes but they aren't quite ready yet.

Another new vegetable/fruit that I bought off the internet, is a Cucamelon:
Out of the 4 plants I sowed, just one stayed alive, just as well, as it is rampaging all over its designated spot. Each pod is about the size of a large grape, although I am still trying to work out when to harvest. They do taste very refreshing, a cucumber lemon cross.

They were both added to a nice colourful salad (the lettuce, Little Gem,  was also our own):
The salad was eaten with home made quiche, the pastry of which was biscuit like and very fragile, due to the heat I think:
It went down a treat. The quiche lasted us for 3 meals each and despite the pastry, tasted fine.

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Savings and interest...

Weather wise, the past few days have been hot and humid and the next few are forecast to be the same. Today however, is very different. It is 20C, cloudy with a cool, brisk wind. I have on my thinking cap, it is cool and lovely!
Living a simple life which is often frugal, being able to save in any way in this household, is our number one priority. If you are in debt, you need to know how much, what kind and where to make savings in your 'entire' household to begin to tackle it. I use the word 'entire' to speak not only for everyone who lives with you, but 'entire' as in using your brain as well. Everyone who lives with you, should ideally being singing off the same page, many brains make 'light' work! Your debt will diminish more quickly if you are all able to face up to it and tackle it as a unit. If not, don't despair, you can still do something. Anything is always better than nothing.

There are many blog's around that offer better advice on this but here is how we do it.

We no longer need to be as frugal as we once did as our financial circumstances have changed over the years. Do we stop? No we don't. It would be so easy once finances are better to quickly revert to the old slip shod way of running your life. That is the road to ruin my friends and once travelled, you should never, ever, want to travel it again.

If any of you have monetary savings, how often do you check the interest rate? Most good on-line savings accounts, offer a reasonable rate for just one year. On the anniversary of them opening, it will drop down massively, usually to just a fraction of a percent. This includes ISA's (or the new ones NISA's), especially if they have a fixed rate. Write down the end date of any account and check it close to that date to see what the rate will change to.

For example, we have a monthly savings and a bills account. We try to keep it all with one bank for ease of transfer from one to another although the new banking system is quicker than the old. However, our rate finished on the 19th July so a couple of days before that, we started looking around. Not much out there, and our bank in particular is one of the least attractive. The first things we did was to get them to convert the old ones into new ones, lot less work for us!

As their rate is low but we still want to use them, the amount in there will be kept as low as it can. What isn't needed in the next month will live in a higher interest ex fixed rate ISA, whose rate has dropped but is paying out more than any savings account I can find and more than some ISA's.

Yes, it may seem a lot of work but as we check and move money around all the time, we are used to it. If a company isn't willing to invest in us, we don't invest in them.

The same thing applies to your mortgage, check it, could you get better elsewhere? If so, can you move it. If you can, do so, if you can't why not? Find out the reason then move when you can.

More next time.

Sunday 20 July 2014


Welcome to three new followers, Kate Walters via Bloglovin, plus Leanne Bower and Morning's Minion via here.

The freezer check list that resides on the fridge door, had become a mess of incorrect items. Off we trundled to the outside freezer first, checked and chucked away just a few items of way outdated fruit juice. Ah well, can't be on top all the time.

Indoor freezer received the same check, no throwing away in here, now we are up to date. There are still a few winter meals inside that can be used up on cooler days - again, this is a screen shot so a little blurred - hope you can read it:
I kept out half a bag of our own blackcurrants from last year (painstakingly picked a few at a time and frozen), plus a bag of our rhubarb (which this year seems on strike). Once thawed, they were weighed and had equal amounts of sugar added to them to make blackcurrant and rhubarb jam.

Here they are in the pan, sugar slowly dissolving:
It took twice as long to set as normal, due to rhubarb being low on pectin. I had added quite a lot of lemon juice, which has made it quite tart but we like jam that way. Finally, it set, and here it is, so dark you can't even see through it!:
Look at those bedraggled hydrangea's in the background:)

Friday 18 July 2014

More wild plums

Having harvested some wild cherry plums the other day, we went to 'our' spot to see if any
more were ready. Nope!

Not giving in that easily, the next morning, we set off to drive to the nearest location, we could have walked but it was roasting hot even at 9.00 am. Not many more red ones, but the wild yellow Mirabelle ones were beginning to show, so picked those instead:
We think maybe 3lb or so in the sink, soaked off the dirt and dust. There are a few red ones in there as you can see, we added them to our harvest from the other day and managed to a second tub of those, ready for the freezer:
We don't often have a Chinese takeaway but when we do, save the tubs. They get used time and time again. We froze 1.5lbs of the plums in a bag, for turning into plum and date winter chutney. The rest, 2 tubs with about 12oz in each, plus another tub of red ones, were frozen ready for pies/crumbles in the winter:
Such fantastic colours don't you think? You can read about Mirabelle plums here
I didn't know until I read it recently, that both types of these plums are banned in America.

Thursday 17 July 2014

Light Exercise and harvesting

The other day, we went for a brisk walk just around the corner from where we live. We know there are one or two red cherry plum trees there, but not having seen any blossom in Spring, wondered if there would be any on the tree!

There are not many, but after 10 minutes collecting and a brisk walk back home, we have managed to pick another 2lb in various stages of ripeness:
The colour of the ones on the left are those that are fully ripe. The half yellow ones and the paler red will be left on the windowsill for just one day to ripen them enough for eating/cooking!

My few broad beans are ready for harvesting, so using the mushroom risotto recipe (from my recipe tabs), we changed the amount of mushrooms for fresh de-skinned broad beans and mint:
It was fabulous!

Tuesday 15 July 2014

Tootling about!

The other day, I picked all the odds and ends of fruit and managed to pick just enough to make a crumble:
I found the last of the gooseberries, 3 Autumn raspberries, about 4 blackcurrants (infested and rubbish this year) and some more blueberries.

I made up around 1/2 quantity of crumble mix, using margarine as the butter was too soft.Some oats were added for good measure:
We ate half with some custard, the other half was finished off last night.

Yesterday, we both trundled off to our local woods with 2 bags, ready to pick more pine cones. We use these as emergency fire lighters only. Would make too much of a mess in the wood burner chimney to use them routinely. However, if a log is added that refuses to go for some reason, around 6 - 8 pine cones tucked underneath it, usually does the job.

We have already got one quantity and this will probably be the last, though don't hold me to it! They had obviously fallen open then closed in the rain, as loads of pine needles are stuck inside. We will put them out in the garden on a garden tray for a few days, and as they open, will pick off the needles and pack the cones into storage.

Here was the amount collected tipped out of DB's bag:
Then my bag added on top:
It was so warm out there, they opened nicely. The needles were added to the soil around the blueberries.

Sunday 13 July 2014

This and that...

Now we know that the red cherry plums are beginning to fall, we really must make the effort to go and get some. These will be used in jam, chutney, puddings etc. Whilst they are really nice to eat raw, once cooked, they become like most plums, quite tart and need the addition of sugar.

We had half the remaining plums stewed with custard for supper last night. The rest went into wild plum ice cream:
They don't seem to have imparted any colour but have added a very delicate taste.

Yesterday afternoon, our neighbour J. shouted out the front, 'Have you seen the size of this moth out front?"

We went and looked. Sure enough, sitting on the lamp-post between our two properties, about 3' off the ground was this huge moth, obviously asleep and in our opinion, lucky not to have been eaten by birds:
It looks like this when its wings are open, and they measure around 4.5 inches across. What a joy to see. I have only ever seen their caterpillars before, once they emerge from the ground where they pupate, guess I won't be seeing that stage any time soon!

Saturday 12 July 2014

Ultimate Tram Driving Experience at Crich Tramway Museum

Welcome to Brenda Carman via Bloglovin. This is our third cool day on the trot although it is supposed to get humid today!

The main reason we went to DS's and FDiL's recently, was for DB to receive his birthday present from last year, a driving experience at Crich Tramway Museum. He was so surprised with the gift but due to family problems, we had to cancel last year and take it this weekend.

Herewith a few photographs. DB driving and in case you are wondering, the senior training driver is stood off to his right!:
From the front. As you can see the tram is reserved just for us (plus other chap who was driving and his friend), no other members of the public are allowed on:
Moving the trolley pole into position. The chap with him is another senior driver but was conductor for the day. DB had also changed the points just before this:
FDiL switching the trolley pole around at the top of a very steep hill. I did this, it was quite hard work! As you can see, she has the conductor and driver with her:
Finally, just to show we were all enjoying ourselves, a picture of the dogs, who were very relaxed:
We had originally booked the Sunday but for some reason, it got over-booked (only 2 people allowed to drive). Due to this DS and FDiL would also be allowed in for free! We happily moved to the Monday (less people anyway). The day included a welcome drink, instruction for the drivers, lunch for two (turned out DS and FDiL could also have had a free lunch but they had brought pack-up), as many rides (and drives) as they can fit in (we did 4 return drives in the time), a finish drink and cakes, presentation of badge and a goodie bag.

It is a wonderful place to visit, especially on special days, such as Wartime Weekend, Victorian or Edwardian Weekend etc. More information about the driving experience and other general information can be found here

Thursday 10 July 2014

Welcome, plums and tomatoes

First of all, welcome to Bonnie The Frugal Apprentice.

Yesterday, I showed you the red cherry plums we picked in the wild. We had several of the split ones with some ice cream for supper. The rest were on our porridge this morning. The other topping is ground linseed:
I have been dutifully spraying my tomatoes with disprin in the hope (in all this wet weather), of keeping the dreaded blight at bay. Too early to tell yet but they don't seem to mind. I always take inter-nodal cuttings for a later growing season. These plants, other than last weekend in the rain, will be grown indoors in the conservatory. Providing they aren't already harbouring the disease, will hopefully grow well. On the right are some later cuttings than those (which I don't normally take). They may well be too late and they need dividing and potting on. These indoor plants are also sprayed, just in case:
I'm off to the dentist later this morning for some treatment. Whilst away over the weekend, I chewed a sweet (not toffee) and pulled out part of a filling. I don't have any pain so am hoping they will just grind down the sharp edges!

Wednesday 9 July 2014


Would you believe it, this is my 700th post - wow, where does the time go!

Don't you just love the free gifts from nature? Out on our walk this week (more about that on my other blog later), we found some wild plums falling off the trees (Red Cherry I believe). Once we had finished walking, we got a carrier bag out of the car, re-walked the first 100 yards and began picking them up. Barely 10 minutes later we had what felt like 4lb in weight.

They were quickly washed and sorted. The over ripe barely edible into the compost caddy, the slightly soft and split (on the right of the picture) for immediate eating (and making into ice cream!) and the still intact, on the left, for later eating:
Aren't they just beautiful? Sitting on the far left, is our second bowl of our own Blueberries, which we will eat both on our breakfast porridge and mixed in with home made yoghurt for supper. Ah, nature at its kindest and most bountiful.

The yellow wild plums, (Mirabelle), are still green but we should be able to harvest them in 2 - 3 weeks. Yum Yum!

Here is a link to a blog of someone who discovered wild plums for the first time here
More information can be found on the red ones here

The yellow Mirabelle plum is slightly larger and has a slightly different texture, more like a Victoria. More information about them can be found here
Happy hunting!

Tuesday 8 July 2014

Just a quickie...

First of all, a big welcome to Hazzy.

We have been away for a long weekend with DS and FDiL to celebrate and have a special birthday present (from last year) for DB. More about that when they send us the photographs!

We are both very tired this morning. Slept well though. Saturday we spent the whole day here
as they were part of a Working Dogs Demonstration Team. Here is FDiL in the ring with Master L (now 6 months old). He is only just beginning training so was in there whilst they were setting up the arena:
Here is one of the other chaps (can't for the life of me remember his name) with one of his 7 dogs:
Just in case you were wondering where the other grand-dogs were, here they are resting after another demonstration, in the back of the car (under the shade of a big tree) with DB:
Master L. at the back, Miss M at the front ready as ever to get out, and Miss S - head shot only!

Sunday was spent browsing the shops (bought only Wheatgerm), then Monday we were off with DB to celebrate his present.

Saturday 5 July 2014


Despite the heat, I needed to make an impossible quiche for tea so also did some muffins. I don't use a muffin mix for this, just a 4 egg Victoria sponge mix. I didn't have enough fresh eggs due to no churn ice cream making, so utilized one dried egg from our stack kept in the freezer. By the way, the ice cream still worked fine with natural yoghurt (home-made and strained a little in our case). The texture was slightly different, not quite so fluffy, but the taste was still very good!

I had in a big bar of Milky Bar white chocolate, so half of that was chopped and added to the mixture, which was then divided in two. The muffins in the blue cases had our blueberries added. The ones in the red cases, the few strawberry slices I had dried and then re-hydrated:
I think I chopped the chocolate too finely as we could detect it in the texture but overall, they were a great success.

I made the quiche following Rhonda's recipe (see Recipe tab above) but left out the onion as didn't have any. I made ours using 3 fresh and 1 dried egg, ham, pepper, tomato (de-seeded), Red Leicester cheese in the mix and Parmesan sprinkled on the top:
Some was eaten fresh, the rest warmed up.

Thursday 3 July 2014


Welcome to Lorraine via Bloglovin, glad to have you aboard the old Norfolk Express.

When it comes to slicing gooseberries for my dehydrating trial, I must admit, I have shown a remarkable amount of patience!

My 2lb bowl of berries (pour harvest this year):
Made 3 full trays of slices:
Which in turn produced, one small jar of dried, tart loveliness:
There is still half a tray drying and I filled the last tray with some slices of pear. I have no idea at present what I shall use them for, but something will spring to mind. I probably won't repeat this but was curious!

Tuesday 1 July 2014

Rain, rain, go away (for now at least)

We have had several days of heavy rain showers since Friday. I really hope that the aspirin treatment for blight, will be successful on the tomatoes. I was going to do it every 10 days but due to the weather being cool and often wet, have brought it down to every 7. If we ever get any summer (I know, in a few weeks time it will be burning hot), I hope some tomatoes actually grow and survive!

There were lots of reasonably local gardens having Open Gardens last weekend. They must have been really upset. Yes, you can dress appropriately and traipse around, but it doesn't really cheer you up (as it usually does), or help their gardens, having their lawns squashed.

It was so miserable on Sunday morning, soup was made for lunch. I mean, hot soup in flaming June:(

What a difference today, The sun has finally made an appearance, I'm hoping my hydrangea will find the energy to stand tall again, after its battering in the rain: