Sunday 31 December 2017

Our late Christmas is beginning...

Our visitors are on their way! Yesterday, I got some baking done and after a few hestitant starts, managed to make 6 puff pastry pork sausage rolls:
12 pork, cranberry and cheese rolls:
They look a bit odd as they started to catch half way through baking and I had to whip them out and flip them:(

Today 12 GF orange pastry mince pies, using up the remnants of last years mincemeat (it tastes great by the way):
This particular version of GF pastry is new so hope everyone likes them.

Tomorrow, Black Forest Trifle!

Have a grand celebration evening. We might be tired but shall try to stay up as so many fireworks go off. I am never sure how the dogs will react, despite them being gun dogs and used to noise.

Friday 29 December 2017

Jigsaw and Andy Murray

Welcome to Lydia and Fenella Rowe via Bloglovin.

We finished the jigsaw - 4 days:
Before we broke it up, the jigsaw carry case was tested and the whole thing shifted not one iota, so that works.

Just finished watching a one set exhibition match with Andy Murray. Bless him, he still isn't right but was warming up more after half the set and put in some occasional brilliant shots. He can't move very well yet but on occasions was able to do so, and has definitely changed his serve completely to cope with his current condition.

Can't see him playing a full match just yet and it looks like he needs to get some 'friendly' competitive games in to help get match fit. I do hope he can come back eventually and really hope he doesn't do so too early.

Like he has stated, it is no longer about playing and winning but enjoying playing. He isn't chasing ranking points or places and has won enough matches now, to chose to play what he can, in the same vein as Federer.

It was good to see him and good to see that he stepped in again to help the organisers with the exhibition match, after Novak pulled out. Also good to see that he doesn't mind about the world seeing the state and stage he is in, on his road to recovery.

Have a lovely weekend and a great New Year. We get visitors at last so shall enjoy some company.

Thursday 28 December 2017

We had forgotten....

The good and bad  sides of doing a jigsaw puzzle. It does feel good to be doing one after many years but boy, do our necks and backs ache!

This is what DB bought me for Christmas:
At the start of today (day 3), it looked like this:
By the time we had finished, it was at this stage:

We have also been for a drive to Wells next the sea, had a short but bracing walk, and the sea air did us both a power of good.

Wednesday 27 December 2017

Rain, rain, rain - updated

It started raining 7 pm last night and it is still raining. Forecast to rain until 3 pm this afternoon. We are currently experiencing high winds into the bargain. Watching the news this morning, some have had snow instead, which is expected to go by us, if the weather maps are correct.

We have huge puddles in the back garden and are keeping our fingers crossed that the garden and driveway can cope, and we don’t have a problem.

Keep safe folks.

By late afternoon, quite a lot had drained away leaving just a few big puddles:

Tuesday 26 December 2017

Having had a small Christmas meal...

We needed something a little more vegetable based, so did a quick mini shop (£5.50) this morning, for some fruit and salad ingredients which I hadn't bought beforehand.

I don't know what is worse, battling your way through a crowded supermarket or in this case, an almost empty one but with zombie like humans, drifting in front of you, exactly where you need to be!

We didn't have to queue at the till, but it too, was inhabited by a zombiefied young man, who was struggling to stay awake. Apparently he had finished a shift at midnight (shelf filling?) to be on the till this morning.

The leftover beef (about 4" worth), has been ground ready for pie making in the future, some gravy has been made and will be frozen for said pie. Leftover stock from the beef will be made into soup for the next couple of days.

After a smoothie for breakfast, a smoothie for lunch and a beef sandwich and small pudding for tea, that will be me done for today.

Back to 'normal' eating tomorrow!

Monday 25 December 2017

Merry Christmas One and All!

From our household to yours, may you find comfort and peace, warmth and humanity and be safe:
Have a lovely Christmas.

My presents from DB, E, T, and R:
2 pairs of ski gloves for walking, 100 large plant labels, gardening gloves, chocolate, dog blackboard reminder, scarf and gloves, chilli jam, puzzle and puzzle storage folder, hairbrush cleaning device.

We shall open more on our 2nd Christmas at New Year when DS and DDiL come to visit!

Sunday 24 December 2017

Chocolate coins ...

In our basket of nuts in their shells, we like to add a bag of chocolate coins, to pretty them up a little. We had missed out on buying chocolate for the tree and couldn't find the coins we wanted at the time, so I bought a 'Frozen' film version of them.

Doh! It never occured to me they might be made of white chocolate, which neither of us is too keen on, what to do with them?

Make a pudding of course!

Looking up my recipes for GF clementine puddings, see above tab, I decided to make some of those. The sugar was reduced by 20g and 40g of finely chopped white chocolate coins added. Time will tell whether the sugar needs reducing more, or more chocolate needs adding!

Anyway, here they are ready for their lids:
Silicone paper and foil added, ready for steaming for 1 hour:
Out of their tins and cooling down ready to be frozen:
Well, they smell lovely and scraping out the tins, tasted not too shabby at all. They will do!

Saturday 23 December 2017

Seaside chips...

As we were at a bit of a lose end, we went to the seaside for our monthly treat of a bag of chips. Unfortunately, although we had planned on sitting outside, the wind was howling and very cold so we ate in.

The cafe was offering free pink fizzy but we declined, free mince pies which we ate, all in all, a lovely meal.

We wandered around for a while before heading home to a nice cup of tea. Such excitement!

Friday 22 December 2017

Crazy out there....

We did a normal food shop today and were back home by 09:10 thank goodness. Lidl and Morrison’s were both far busier than normal and it was a relief to get home!

Crazy shopping going on with food and booze positivily overflowing from supersized trollies. I can’t even begin to imagine how much will be wasted:(

It is the same at Easter. Honestly, anyone would think the shops are going to be shut for a month or more. It makes you realise just what life would be like and how ugly things would be, in a catastrophic event.

3 out of the 4 of us went out last night for our ex-school Christmas meal. When our square of roast pork came out, it was accompanied by a heaped tablespoon of mashed potato with 3 x 2”ends of carrot stuck into it. Imagine the millennium dome! T. had roast turkey and got everything with it, so maybe 3 times more than us.

We joked about what size the desserts would be. T got  2 x 1” scoops of ice cream, DB had a thin square of Christmas pudding plus brandy custard and mine was a 1 1/2” circle of white chocolate cheese cake, plus 2 quarters of a fig.

We did get mince pie and a hot drink but were overcharged on the bill by £11 so had to sort that out as well. Food was nice, service quite good, portion sizes need something changing.

Thursday 21 December 2017

An early start....

DB had a dental check up then off we went to market.

We had been struggling to find nuts in their shells so drove to a relatively near market to check it out. Had both walnuts and hazelnuts, plus we got our weekly apples, pears and some satsumas at a lower than normal price.

Bought some teacakes only to find they were not as fresh as last time. They will be used to make fruity bread and butter pudding so all is not lost, but disappointing all the same. Must remember to give them a squeeze before buying next time!

It is certainly getting busier out now, plus we have thick fog, so not a pleasant journey. Back home in time for scrambled eggs on toast for lunch, then I must prepare the small shopping list.

Although they are formulaic and often cheesy into the bargain, I have been kept entertained on the occasional afternoon with a Christmas movie - the shame of it:)

Wednesday 20 December 2017

The dining room...

As we spend most of our time in the lounge, not so many decorations get put up in here.

Our new Advent Tree and some book lights:
The mantelshelf (used to be a window), taken in the evening:

Just a few other things scattered around, plus some ceiling decorations that didn't photograph very well.

Tuesday 19 December 2017

Decorating the house at last...

When we spend Christmas on our own, I find it difficult to really get into the spirit of it, hence room decorating gets delayed until I feel in the mood to do it. Ready now!

Here is the mantelpiece:
And some of the Paul Jones paper decorations from the 1960's:
The Advent whirlything (on a temporary piece of cloth as it normally lives in the dining room:
Finally the tree - daytime:
And night time:
It normally stands on the floor but we have made it smaller - as it is in a different part of the room - by only using the top 2/3rds - looks fine I think.

There are a few other items scattered around, plus I might also bring in some greenery nearer the day.

Monday 18 December 2017

Weekly loaf and extra cheesy scones...

Having been away last weekend, my early week baking went out the window. We managed until Saturday when bread was needed!

This week, it was strong flour, spelt and some GF brown teff:
On the cheese scone front, I have normally used what has been requested in the recipe, in this case Plain (All Purpose) flour. However, when I had run out of this before, I used strong bread flour and they were so much better. So that is what I have stuck with. I also add a good pinch of mustard powder to help bring out the cheese taste, as well as putting a slice of cheese on the top of each scone before baking:

The kitchen smelt heavenly.

Friday 15 December 2017

Topping Up!

After re-jigging our menu's to keep the weekly costs down (and still eating healthily), I had money leftover to spend. Yesterday was that day and off we went to a budget supermarket and a normal one. I noticed as we walked, in that the food bank donation box was overflowing, with many things sitting on the floor beside it. I emailled them once we got home to let them know.

If you go on your local foodbank website (or The Trussell Trust one), they let you know what they are short off, so shopping can be tailored to their needs.

By the time we had dealt with that and our own needs, we arrived home and once again, after being short for ages, our long term pantry supplies are filled up.

Then we had to do our weekly shopping and by the time that was all done, I was well and truly fed up, despite only having been out 1 1/2 hours. How people shop all day is a mystery to me!

Despite it pouring with rain here and forecast for the same on Sunday, I hope you have a grand weekend.

Thursday 14 December 2017

Master L...

Firstly, thanks for all your comments yesterday about Nigella!

DB has finished his needlepoint picture of our third grand dog, a red labrador Master L:
It still needs a quick handwash, flat drying and a light iron to even out its textures. It will then be mounted, framed and hung on our lounge walls to join his two sisters.

It involved 420 hours of stitching time between 1/2 and 1 hour most but not every day!

Welcome to Loraine via Bloglovin.

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Nigella at Christmas

I have been watching this series just to see what she would come up with. Some interesting things that might be worth doing if I could be bothered. Last night, she was 'away' and I wondered where it was filmed.

Being able to find such things reasonably quickly, as that is what I used to do, here is the kitchen she was cooking in. The fridge freezer is different, it was decorated for Christmas and filmed from the right of the island so you didn't see the breakfast bar:

You could book it this week for just a little under £3200!!!

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Away and back...

We have just come back from a weekend away with DS, DDiL and the Grand Dogs - lovely. DS was celebrating his birthday present from earlier this year with a tootle around on one of these:
DDiL decided to join him and they rode around for about 40 minutes or so. We took lots of photographs and tried to keep warm in the very cold, snowy, rainy and windy day!

Boy, where they live, did they have cold weather although the coldest night was forecast for Monday for them, we came home on that day. Mind you, despite having our heating coming on whilst away, for short periods to keep the chill off our house, it was just 11C inside, when we arrived home.

We took a slightly different way back from them, as the hills would have been too risky, and missed our turning which made it interesting to say the least. Most roads were drivable but nearly everyone was driving very carefully, even on the motorways (50 mph rather than 70 mph). What is normally a 3 hour 15 minute journey home, took just a tad over 5 hours, including a short stop for lunch.

The house still isn't fully up to our normal temperature (18C) and so far, we haven't been able to use our chocolate nut spread, as even in the kitchen, near the boiler, it is still solid!

Washing to catch up on, massage to have, soup to make, presents to wrap and I still haven't organised anything for Christmas, in the house or food department. Got things, just need to get baking and decorating, rocking and rolling!

Welcome to bronzewing via Bloglovin.

Friday 8 December 2017

Chocolate Nut Spread

Thank you everyone for your comments about my last blog post. I have no intention of stopping blogging! Blue sky and sunshine here but boy, does the north wind blow. Really, really cold.

The lovely Kate over at The Gluten Free Alchemist, recently posted about the sorry changes to the ingredients in Nutella, see here.

Now, I don't like Nutella, finding it artificial tasting and far too sweet and when you see the deconstructed photograph of what is actually in your jar, you might feel the same ugh!

However, I was intrigued by her recipe and decided to give it a whirl!

I used a mill attachment on my food processor, to grind the nuts before adding them to my processor. As I didn't have enough hazelnuts (which I had previously toasted), I topped up with untoasted walnuts. Once the cocoa and very small amount of icing sugar was added, it looked like this:
This stage tasted fab, a bit like a Ferrero Rocher. I feel an amended recipe coming here, maybe just a little melted chocolate to hold it together to make into balls?

The melted chocolate and vanilla extract were added:
Then it was all whizzed up and finished like this:
There are still tiny pieces of nut which is fine. It has quite a soft consistency at this stage and was easy to spoon into a selection of small jars:
This is meant to be stored at room temperature for just a few weeks but mine will go into the fridge until we are ready to use it (extremely difficult to spread straight from the fridge).

We won't be eating it all as some is designated for gifts. Wonder if it is stirred into ice cream it would make a 'Nutella' version?

Have a grand weekend everyone, snow not withstanding!

Thursday 7 December 2017


How or why one writes a blog, is entirely up to that individual. Writing styles change as do reasons for writing.

For example, when I started, we lived a simple, frugal lifestyle. Not excessively so, just having an awareness of food waste and willy nilly money spending.

We had had almost 6 years of huge financial restraint (see our war diary) and although things were better, we still had a way to go before feeling we were out of that particular, restrained way of living.

When you have lived, cutting all spending to the bone, it stays with you. Well, it stayed with us. Again, I can't speak for anyone else.

Time has moved on and we still live a similar lifestyle, it just seems normal to us. We try not to preach about how we live, or suggest others do the same. You may or may not find my blog appealing, but at the least, hope you find some useful information on it.

I often wonder about changing the title but with many people reading each day - though few comment:( - wouldn't want them 'to lose me'.

We no longer live that hugely restrained way of frugal living but still live what we think of as frugal and simply. We menu plan, use food stock taking charts and most if not all meals and baking, are cooked from scratch. We make our own washing machine liquid (recipe has changed many times until the current one which we really like - thanks Mr. H. M.) White vinegar has replaced fabric conditioner and is also used amongst other things, to clean the house.

Yes, we have a light lunch out when on our walking days but that is our absolute treat. We are careful with our money and manage to save every month. We budget for changing the car (which we have just done), all our bills, logs for the burner, an annual holiday and gardening things. We have a small garden with raised beds to grow summer vegetables (plus leeks for winter), fruit trees and a fruit cage for soft fruit.

We have both worked hard during our lives but for now, I cannot contribute any money as I have to wait another few years for a delayed government pension. We live on the pension provided for DB. As we age, we hope our savings will allow for any help we may need in our own home rather than in a home, but who knows.

My blog is slowly evolving, but then, so are we. Yes, it still reflects mundane things, things that concern me or those around us, but it is primarily for my family members, so they can touch base with what we are up to. If it is also of use to others, then that is a bonus.

For whatever reason people give up blogging, that is their choice. Whether they choose to leave their blog up or take it down, is again their choice. I prefer the former but wouldn’t vilify a blogger for the latter choice. Each to their own.

Wednesday 6 December 2017

By 09:15...

I had a loaf of bread on its first rise, had looked up (but not yet made) a recipe for cheese straws and a batch of quorn and mushroom chilli con carne was on the go on the hob.

I don't know about you, but when I want to bake anything, especially bread, I like to start first thing otherwise I never seem to get going and things usually go wrong.

One down side to this is that I quite often forget about the bread because I forget to put the timer on. I can visit the airing cupboard for some reason (such as getting a towel, hanging up a tea towel, or knocking the heating on or off.

I look down and there it is, practically climbing out of its bowl or loaf pan (depending on what stage I was at). A climb out the bowl is easier to deal with, as if its climbs over the edge of the loaf pan, you end up with winged bread.

Nothing too bad in that, I cut them off and we enjoy them as a treat, usually spread with butter and home made jam!

Finished items!

A white loaf with barley malt extract:

 A pan of quorn and mushroom chilli for tea plus 2 containers for the freezer:
And some very nice cheese straws:
The recipe for which came from this site, however, I did find that 7 minutes was way too short (a mistake perhaps) and I needed to cook them for 14 minutes. I also needed almost 2 tablespoons of water but be very careful not to overdo it, same with the cayenne pepper.

Tuesday 5 December 2017

Save refuges for women

I have just been sent this link,

If you or anyone you know, has ever been affected by this, please let them know. It is one of many on this site. This or others on there, may be of interest to you. Please take a look!

All being well....

We should not have to go into a town or city until next year!

We have finished our present shopping, only weekly food to go as per normal. Just one or two extra items will be added each week for the next 3 weeks, a joint of meat still to buy, to complete that side of things as well.

Last week, the shops were relatively empty but today, by 9:30, queues were getting longer at the tills.

We saved every £2 coin we received this year and used that for most of the presents. Food buying has come in as per usual so other than one bottle of Tia Maria and one of Bailey’s which was purchased by DB, we just need to get a couple of beers and cider.

Christmas on a budget - great!

Monday 4 December 2017

The importance of backing up your blog...

Firstly welcome to Pauline Hermansson via Bloglovin.

I cannot stress enough, the importance of backing up your blog on a regular basis. Sometimes, domain issues occur whereby you may go online to your blog and find it has disappeared. If you are with blogger (or perhaps other big blog sites such as wordpress), this shouldn't happen, but it may.

I don't know about you, but I would hate to lose the last few years of my blogging life due to some technical issue. This link should help you back up your blog contents, theme or import something into it.

I have been asked if I know what has happened to Frugal Queen as all her online accounts seem to have disappeared. I'm afraid I don't know.

Saturday 2 December 2017

The dreadful practice of gazumping ...

I don't know about you, but buying a home is stressful enough without people swindling you out of it. To me, in England at least, if you put in an offer on a house, and it is accepted by the sellers, then that offer should stand. No-one else should be able to come along and pinch your house off you, because they offer more money!

Years ago, when we were looking at buying, we were quite often encouraged by estate agents to put in higher offers on houses we liked, even though an offer had already been accepted.

This smacks of greed and a complete lack of morals on their behalf, as lets face it, a higher offer gives them more commission and I am sure, is their main reason for encouraging such a diabolical practise.

A family member (cash buyer), was recently gazumped out of their future home by the sellers, despite the sellers wanting a quick sale.  I'm sure karma will have something to say about that further down the line. As it happens, they have now put in an offer on a similar sized house, far cheaper, and have begun the buying process once more. I hope they succeed this time.

Have you ever been gazumped, or been encouraged to gazump?

Have a great weekend everyone.