Friday, 28 February 2014

What a month!

I'm limping towards the end of the month in just a couple of hours, and hoping to get to bed earlier tonight as the week has caught up with me....I'm thinking of a photo post tomorrow with a bit of a gallery of the stuff we have been doing this month, as well as a more usual financial round up.  We've taken pictures of all the puzzles the FH has been doing, and there's my knitting now as well - the scarf is nearly finished, thank goodness!

I think that today is the last day of winter officially, but I believe folk are saying that we are in for a chilly start to spring over the next few days at least.  I am glad that we have got through November, December, January and February without any really hard frosts and snowy days, and if that was winter, it was an exceptionally mild one.  But oh my, has it been wet!  We all know just how wet and windy it has been, and I wouldn't wish that on anyone again, but seems like that might have been a precursor of things to come in the future.  I don't know what kind of a summer we can hope for, but I am actually just quite pleased that the days are lengthening on and we aren't in the dark at 4pm any longer.

I'm so chuffed to welcome new readers to the blog, and new followers too!  I hope you find something interesting here, and a very warm welcome indeed to anyone who has hopped over here from Elaine's blog at Mortgage Free in Three.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Fen news

I am shattered!  After two meetings back to back last night, I took the FH and went to UJ's house and we collapsed into bed at 11.30pm, only for him to spend several hours tossing and turning, suffering with pains in his feet and just generally not getting comfortable.  It was 3.30am before we were able to get to sleep properly, and then we were up again at 6.45am to get to the hospital by 8.15am.........we sat in the waiting room and all he kept muttering was that he wanted to go home!

The hospital news is that the fluid is building up again so the diuretics have been changed and hopefully the new one will get the water shifting.  We are back again there in July, but have carte blanche as always to call them with any concerns in the meantime - and I always do - they are incredibly patient and helpful whenever I ring and I have nothing but admiration for the clinic staff who help us out.

Once we got out from the clinic at 11am though, I thought that the FH was going to collapse in exhaustion before I could get him to the car - he slumped against someone else's car on the way to ours and I was worried, but I managed to get him in and buckled up for the journey home.  Arriving home, he went straight to bed, where he has been ever since.  He had a good long sleep this afternoon and is feeling more normal again this evening, thank goodness.  A couple of long days have just worn him out completely and it is going to take him another couple to get back to where he was earlier in the week.

Tonight the EFG and I have been for our first SW weigh-in, and it was OK.  The EFG lost a pound and I divested myself of four somehow - I was quite chuffed but didn't get too excited about it. I am so proud of the EFG for achieving a loss this week, and of how well she has stuck to the plan.  I am hoping that as she loses more weight, the insulin-intolerance that the consultant says is affecting her will reduce and she will be able to lose more.  Even 10% of her body weight will be a huge achievement so that is what she is shooting for at the moment.  I could see that the time spent at the group discussing everyone's losses and gains was quite boring for her, but one lady shared that she has lost 5 stone in the time she has been coming to the group and so that certainly inspired me!

In other news, these two teenagers of mine are costing me a small fortune!  The EFG needs a cheque tonight to pay for two re-sits of modules she is going to do again in the summer exams, I have just paid out £75 for the YFG to start doing the Duke of Edinburgh Award, and now she says she needs new trainers and all the kit list for the DoE.  Along with the expenses of the Aberdeen trip in this next budget period, we are all going to be losing weight because we'll be on rations, I reckon!  There is only so much money in the pot and when extra expenses come along like this, other areas have to be cut back, as is only sensible.  None of these things are extravagant and unnecessary - I really think that the DoE will suit the YFG immensely and with her being of such a practical mindset, I believe that it will be money well spent to enable her to gain an qualification for her CV which reflects her personality aptly.  Conversations today about her future career have ranged between the army and the police on the one hand to being a midwife on the other hand, so you can see that she will definitely be Doing Something.

Night night - thanks for visiting and I hope to get back to more regular blogging next week.  Take care xx

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

It's Aldi voucher week again

True!  Get the Mirror [or the Record in Scotland] tomorrow and get your voucher entitling you to £5 off when you spend £40, and the vouchers are valid for a week until Thursday 6th March, so might even be worth getting two if you have a family to buy for and can spend £40 each week.  Hope that helps, friends xx

Catching up

There seems to have been a lot going on in blogland whilst I have been away - it hasn't been easy to get the chance to read all your blogs whilst my internet access is restricted, so I have just had a quick pop around just a few of them now that I can get onto the YFG's computer as she has gone to school.  I've left a few comments here and there too :)

My computer guru rang up last night to say that my computer was working absolutely fine - he just turned it on and away it went.  Why, oh why, then, was it as dead as a dodo when I tried to turn it on?  It did this before Christmas and made me look foolish and seems to be playing games again now.  I can fetch it back from him later this morning.....let's see how long it lasts this time.

We had a long budget meeting at school yesterday morning and examined the accounts as usual - it is always a long meeting, so I shouldn't complain about that, but the FH was getting peckish for his lunch by the time I got home.  He had had a visitor as well so he had had to come downstairs to let his friend in and make a cup of tea to have with him.  He has the lunch club today, so I hope he doesn't tire himself out because we have a trip to Papworth tomorrow, so we are going to UJ's house tonight, after I have been to a Governors' meeting and a Preachers' meeting!  We won't get to UJ's house until past 10, I should think, but it will be worth it in the morning not to have to leave here at 7am!

There was a small spend at the supermarket last night when the EFG and I came out of gymnastics, because the other place didn't have any fromage frais on Saturday so she wanted to look for some in Sainsbury's, and we got lucky!  We also bought some more baking potatoes [they are a good staple on this eating plan] and fruit - lots of fruit!

I'm off now to do some tidying up and ironing so that I can leave the place tidy for UJ and the girls tonight.  I may get back to have another trip round some of the blogs I missed this morning, if I get a chance for a cup of tea later, otherwise, I shall see you all tomorrow.  I am hoping to be able to report some successful weight loss after we weigh-in tomorrow evening........

PS A very warm welcome to the new followers - good to see you and hope you find something interesting to read.  Leave us a comment now and again :)

Monday, 24 February 2014

The saga goes on

The computer came home today, working well, and lasted all of three hours before it died again.....so it is going back to the repair chap in the morning.  Not good.

It has been weird today with the girls going back to school again after having had them at home for a week.  Quiet and peaceful, but strangely a bit lonely as the FH has been in bed all day resting his feet and doing a jigsaw of Paddington Station that he borrowed from chapel yesterday.  It's another Ravensburger one and very well made.  The picture is quite finely detailed and he is finding it quite a challenge - but it keeps him occupied and awake!

I have got all the documents ready to submit for the first two sections of Faith & Worship, and I am taking them to my tutor's house next week to check through it all with her and then it is going in the post to Methodist HQ for assessment.....nerve-wracking much, as the girls would say!  Still, I am very chuffed to have got it this far, and just hope that it all passes muster.  I hope that the next 7 units just don't take me three years to get done - I need to rev this up a little whilst the FH is in reasonable health, as it was last year's illnesses which slowed me down.  I shall put the flags out when this goes in the post next week as it will represent a considerable milestone for me.

Frugality this week is being focused on staying out of the shops and keeping my pennies in my purse.  I have put the lunch money for the FH on Wednesday, the Slimming club money and the piano lesson money all in little envelopes so I know that I have the cash set aside for each of those things.  The girls are making their lunches for school and the FH and I are staying at home as much as we can this week - he has an appointment at Papworth for a check up on Thursday and I have some meetings to go to but thankfully I shall avoid temptation because none of them are anywhere near a shop.  I have been mulling over having a supermarket delivery once a fortnight, as some of the shops have good offers on delivery passes at the moment.  One of my neighbours has a regular Thursday 5pm delivery from that supermarket, and I wouldn't feel as bad about having a delivery if  I ordered one at the same time, but I am not sure that I want it from them, so that defeats that object!  I hate to see the vans coming on to the estate two or three times a day some days and just wish that the shops would find a way of letting us know when someone else in our postcode area is having a delivery so that we could contribute to saving some petrol usage - for the environment's sake, not the shop profits, by the way!

Anyway, time I was thinking about tidying stuff away and heading to bed as I have an early start in the morning.  Cheerio!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Weariness

It's the computer issues that are making me weary tonight - begging the girls for "turns" on their computers, not being able to submit my Shop&Scan data this week, the incessant passwords for multiple accounts that have to be signed in and out when you are using someone else's computer, and the whole heap of hassle.  And there is also the wonder of whether the chap will actually be able to fix the flipping thing........and if he can't?  Don't really want to go there just yet....it might get expensive.

Today has been lovely in many ways - we had a new-to-us preacher at the chapel this morning, an Australian lady who is very keen on gadgets and technology!  She'd be stuck in a power cut.  It was a good service though.  This afternoon I have finished the ironing heap and got it all moved up towards the ironing pile, and cooked a very scrummy tea - salmon in parcels with lemon  juice and veg for me, and with "lightest" Philadephia on the veg for the others.  The EFG also made a mousse from Cadbury's Highlights hot chocolate sachets and Quark.  I didn't get one of those, but it was a lovely tea.  I have also done some exercise with her as well - Davina again.

Tonight I have had an evening in front of the tv with the knitting, and enjoyed watching Countryfile, Call the Midwife and then a film with Tom Berenger [haven't seen him in anything for years] called Sniper 3, and then I have just caught up with this week's episode of Line of Duty.  That represents most of my week's tv!!

Back soon - have a good week xxx  Battery is dying so got to publish quickly and go!

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Saturday

Quick post as my time on the YFG's computer is running out - she wants to do something on it herself soon!  I have been nosying around your blogs quickly, checking my bank, my emails and FB contacts, and it is shocking how quickly 20 minutes can pass as you faddle around on the computer....I have definitely got more knitting done this week!

So today....long lie in until 9am, sitting in the sun enjoying a cup of tea this morning, making some leek and potato soup for my lunch, food shopping this afternoon, tea before 6pm as the EFG is babysitting tonight, and a HUGE heap of ironing to attack tonight whilst the YFG and I watch a film as I think the FH is off to bed soon with a jigsaw - he came shopping with us this afternoon and he needs to get his feet up now.

No time for photos today, either, but the jigsaws are still in a nice heap so I shall get to them soon.
I hope you are all having a good weekend, but I have read on MSE that there is some more nasty weather coming in from the Atlantic tonight and tomorrow, so please stay safe if your area is affected.   See you tomorrow xx

Friday, 21 February 2014

Walking and cinema

We have had another good day together today doing half-termy things! The girls and I packed up our crafts and went to the chapel group this morning: the weather was so bright, clear and sunny that we decided to walk the mile there, and hope it wasn't going to come on to rain when we had to walk the mile home again!  It didn't, and we had a good session of knitting and chatting at the group.  The other ladies were pleased to see the girls, and wanted to know how they are and what they are up to.

The EFG received an official letter this morning, which turned out to be from Student Finance England with an offer of finance for her first year at uni.  We may not know for sure where she is going, but she has the offer of the money to go with now at least....

After a quick bite to eat, we set off to the cinema this afternoon with one of the YFG's mates in tow.  The Monuments Men was the film of choice today, and the Tesco Clubcard vouchers just about covered the cost for three of us - now that I shop there less, I consequently get less vouchers, but I had just enough this time.  We may have to go less often in future, as I refuse to pay the exhorbitant prices - and it was very chilly in there too - they are skimping on the heating these days.  I wished I had put a thicker coat on!

(image from bbcamerica.com)

I really enjoyed this film and it was very interesting to find out more about a part of the Second World War that I had not heard about before.  I'd recommend it, and there was a very broad age range of people in the cinema with us this afternoon, so I think it is appealing to a wide-range of audiences.

Yesterday evening, the EFG and I joined Slimming World, as we have just six months before she leaves here and I want to help her to develop some strategies for losing weight and keeping it off, and we are both hoping that this helps.  I could do with losing some weight too, so we are a mutual support group for one another here during the week, and then we are going to see the group each Thursday night for an hour.  It isn't too far away but it isn't on our doorstep, but there are groups in every direction from here and this one just fits in quite well with the weekly schedule.  It's going to cost me £9.90 each week, but I think it will be worth it for six months, especially if it helps her.  We have planned to set aside time tomorrow morning to work out how to modify our menu plan and prepare a supplementary shopping list for the week ahead.

And I am still knitting....plenty of time for knitting as the computer is still not fixed!


Thursday, 20 February 2014

Day out

We have had our day out today - the YFG has had a train trip to Peterborough and the EFG and I have had a brilliant poke around in Ely.


On the way home, we stopped and took some photos of the local floods.  These are on a floodplain which forms part of the drainage system of the area.


This area flows wide and not too deep for about 20 miles or so, right through the heart of the Fens.  It floods most years, and a lot of water from the Bedford region comes through here as well, I believe.  The Welney wetlands are part of this area, and Sir Peter Scott's Wildfowl and Wetland Trust has a site here.  Countryfile showed their presenter Julia Bradbury there on a recent programme, but she must have visited before the flood rose to this level.


There are actually two channels here, but when the water comes up like this, they seem to merge into one.

I shall try to take some photos in the daylight tomorrow of our purchases and bargains - we had a lovely time in the charity shops, and a fabric shop [!] before we retired to Sainsbury's for a well-deserved cuppa for a treat!

Still on the EFG's laptop so time is restricted.  Off to knit again now xxx

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

A bit of knitting


The EFG found this pattern and wanted to try to expand her range!  We both had a go, but hers is better than mine because her knitting is tighter than mine.

She found it here at Knitting Bee, and I'd encourage knitters to go and have a look at all the free patterns.  We plan on trying more of these lacy ones.

I'm still working on the scarf for the YFG which is progressing nicely in that I am on to the 3rd ball of wool, and the EFG also wants one, in a different colour.  

I have also started a diagonal square with a little border which I am enjoying because it is really plain and simple, knitted in garter stitch and a pleasure to knit.

We have UJ here tonight staying over because the girls want to go out tomorrow and the FH is not up to coming too: the YFG is going to Peterborough on the train, so I shall have to drive her and one of her friends to the station, and then the EFG and I are going on a little road trip of our own to Ely.

It is too long to leave the FH on his own, so UJ will keep him company for most of the day.  I expect that I shall be home by 4pm at the latest, and UJ has plans for the evening, so he'll probably leave soon after I get home, but I am very grateful for him coming.

News on the computer is that the chap is finding it a bit challenging.  He has tried a new power supply unit and that isn't the trick, so he's trying other things now.  He has been updating me through messages on FB but I guess he will ring me tomorrow with a verdict as the EFG will be booting me off her laptop shortly.

Hope you are all well.  

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Scaling back

It had crossed my mind earlier this week to take some time away from the internet and try to spend more time with the girls and the FH since it is half term here this week.

I hadn't made any concrete plans for this, but fate seemed to play right into my hands this afternoon.  I had been on the internet briefly this morning but went out at lunchtime with the YFG to school to label more books up for Accelerated Reader, and then came home at about 4pm.

I put the kettle on for that vital "I'm home" cup of tea, and the trip switch blew straight away.  Cue kettle put to one side, and the little travel kettle brought in from storage to make the tea.  Once I had tea in my hand, and gave the FH his, I pootled off to the computer to catch up on stuff, but it wouldn't turn on.  At all.  Dead as a dodo.

It played this game before Christmas and when I got it to the repair man, it happily started up and made me look a fool, so I waited and waited, and still it won't go, so I have made arrangements to take it to him in the morning.

Now that leaves us with the desktop which the YFG uses [where I am now] and the EFG's laptop.  Use of either of these will be inconvenient, and carefully timed by people breathing down my neck, wondering how long I will be ;)

Looks like I am on an internet-restricted day or so.  Fingers crossed that the chap can wave his magic wand and repair it - again!

Monday, 17 February 2014

Chinese night



We may be a little late for Chinese new year, but the EFG and FH enjoyed the Chinesey pork tonight, the recipe which Frugal in Suffolk shared for me the other week.  It got on to the menu plan for this month and although today wasn't the designated day, nevertheless, it has been eaten tonight!

We were supposed to have it yesterday, but the pork wasn't removed from the freezer so we had to have veggie risotto last night.  However, the wrong pork was brought out this morning - I just can't win sometimes!!  It didn't matter - the pork and sauce still went down well.

I cooked the pork with the Chinesey sauce for the EFG and the FH, the YFG can't eat pork so she had some frozen leftover lasagne, and I had some of the pork but with some sweet and sour sauce because the hoisin sauce has got wheat in it, which I can't eat.

The noodles are from AF and are getting quite ancient, but they are vacuum packed and still very edible.  The sweetcorn was Best Before two weeks ago, but steamed up beautifully, and the beans were from the freezer.  I had leftover risotto and beans with my pork.

And the verdict?  The FH wants to know when he can have it again, and was there any more.  The EFG was also keen and said she liked it, so hats off to Frugal in Suffolk for a successful recipe and many thanks for extending the Fen repertoire of meals!

Yesterday

No pictures, I am afraid, but yesterday was a glorious day in the Fens.  I sat outside under the verandah with a cup of tea when I had been hard at work cleaning out the chicken houses.  It made me think, as I sat there and looked around.  16 or 17 things to be thankful for yesterday:

Sitting outside in the sun, warmth on my face.
Three birds sitting on a neighbour's aerial, against the backdrop of the clear blue sky.
The cat, languishing in the warmth of the patio.
A gentle breeze, rippling the leeks, nearly finished now.
The sound of the chooks, chuntering to one another in their run.
Satisfied feeling of bedding all the chooks down on clean fresh shavings this afternoon.
The excited cackle from the henhouse as an egg is laid.
Hanging out yesterday's laundry in the sun in the verandah, smelling fresh and clean.
Small puffs of white cloud, high in the sky.
Bare twigs showing buds of new life on the bushes in the top run.
Finding a warm egg, new laid and brown.
The peace and tranquility of sitting in the back garden on a Sunday afternoon with my tea.  The only noises are the birds close by and distant vehicles, with the odd faraway dog barking.
The growing scarf in the new pattern, which the YFG wants...
The peace of knowing what is for tea!
No school uniforms to iron tonight because it is half term and they can wait.
The chickens preening themselves in the sun by the house wall where it is warm.
The growing heap of clean brown eggs in the utility room now that the chickens are laying again!

A lot to be thankful for.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

New friends

I have spent some time looking around blogland this weekend and finally made time to update my blogroll with friends old and new.  I have come across some "new to me" blogs which you all seem to know about already, so I am just catching up, but if they are new to you too, I hope you like them!

A search on Sunday

I am looking for a pattern to knit this adorable rabbit.  Rabbit was a gift to the EFG shortly after she was born from a lady who was in my uni classes - she was a mature student living in the area, and she took a few of us younger ones under her wing!


Rabbit has been well loved and I would like to have a go at making a new Rabbit, although this old one will always be cherished.


Is there anyone out there who has any idea where I could find the pattern for this cute bunny?  She's dressed, with these lovely long ears, and is gently stuffed.


She wears a matching pair of knickerbockers or pantaloons under her dress.


Her dress buttons at the back of the neck.

I am getting more adventurous with my knitting these days, and would love to tackle this but I have looked around for the pattern to no avail.  Any clues or advice would be very welcome.  Given that the EFG will be 18 this year, it is not a new pattern and it may be that someone has an old copy - or maybe it was in a book.  Sadly I have had no contact with the lady who created Rabbit for many years and have no idea where she is now.  She is often thought of, though, and Rabbit is still a well-loved gift.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Windy night

I thought it hadn't been that bad, actually, as I slept right through, but the EFG turned her bed around as the wind was driving right at her bedroom window and she was frightened it would blow a pane of glass in on her, and apparently the FH was awake listening to the howling gale a lot in the night too.

This morning, though, when I went out to let the chooks out, I noticed that the greenhouse had moved.  This is a glass greenhouse on a small concrete wall base, which the FH in his wisdom [ha!] said that there was no need to screw the greenhouse down to the base as the weight of the glass would hold it down.......it moved two inches last night!  I have no idea how we are going to move it back, and I checked on it several times during the course of the day to make sure it hadn't gone any further, and the rabbit which had been living in there was evacuated quickly this morning to a fresh abode, probably a lot safer!

I went out again mid morning to check that nothing too much was on the move, and noticed a fence between two of the runs was moving around a great deal, and since it was partially attached to the neighbour's fence, I thought that I should take it down in case it came down in the wind and damaged the neighbour's fence in doing so.  I was doing this on my own, it was quite a substantial fence, and the wind caught it as I was manoevering it, sent me flying on to my backside and caught me a blow to the forehead, upon which I saw stars for a minute, and had to come in and lie down once I had secured the panel....I had to lash it to a ladder bracket on the back of the shed as otherwise I was afraid it would have gone sailing over into another garden and done more damage!  It was only a dividing panel to keep two sorts of chooks apart, but we can manage without it for now.

The FH has spent the day in bed, not that there is anything actually wrong with him, but his ankles are swelling and the only way I can keep them from puffing up too much is to keep him in bed!  If he gets up, as he did yesterday in the late afternoon, the fluid soon settles round his ankles and makes them uncomfortable.  He is quite happy there, and seems to think that being in bed is a small price to pay to avoid another spell in hospital.  He has the tv, upon which he watches the Olympic speed skating whenever it is on, he has a couple of magazines someone send him the other week, and he has a beautiful steam train jigsaw that I was lent at the craft club yesterday - with the aid of the back of the one of the EFG's GCSE Art pieces for a table, he has done several hours at that today!  He missed three days of a diuretic tablet last weekend because of a mistake the surgery made with his pills, and I am hoping that once the medicine builds up in his system again, his ankles will be fine again.

Hoping that you are all safe and well, warm and dry tonight, and God bless those that aren't, wherever they are xxx

Friday, 14 February 2014

Battening down the hatches

The wind is definitely getting up in the Fens tonight, but we seem to be ok at the moment.  I've had an evening of watching tv by the fire, and knitting, so nothing terribly energetic, but not a penny spent today either! I've even sold three boxes of eggs to friends at the craft club at chapel this morning.

The EFG has been out babysitting round the corner and come home with £20 in her pocket and a booking for next weekend to put in her diary too, so she is happy.  We are also looking into the possibility of a summer job for her nearby as well - we went to a local cafe which is advertising and put her name on the list: there is the chance of a trial day at half term so we are hoping for a phone call about that.  Pennies in her bank account before she gets to uni will only benefit her in the grand scheme of things, after all.

Night night all - stay safe xxx

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Family traditions


The EFG seems to be keeping the knitting tradition going in the family - she has been knitting these lovely wee hats for the Innocent Smoothie campaign to raise cash for Age Concern UK [I think!].  She just missed the deadline for sending them in for last year, so she has just kept knitting and will continue as long as she can, so that she has a good stash to send in this year.  

Mostly she is just using up odds and ends of my wool, and making interesting colour combinations.  She is a kind soul and thought that this would be a good cause, and it is good for her as the hats don't take long to complete in between everything else she is up to.


An Island Parish

Image for The Wheel Has Come Full Circle
(image from bbc.co.uk)

Currently one of my favourite programmes on the tv is "An Island Parish".  Life on a small island fascinates me, and this series is set on Sark, in the Channel Islands, which are Crown Dependencies.

It's all very interesting indeed.

It has a thrifty side to it, as I imagine that these people have to have a level of self-sufficiency and inventiveness of their own, and can't be running off to the shops every minute when they "need" something.  There seems to be a strong community spirit, which is heartening to see, and above all, I like these programmes because they include the churches on Sark.  Indeed, the whole series of "Island Parish" programmes have centred around parishes and their local ministers of one denomination or another - on Sark we are following a Methodist lay preacher [in the photo in the blue jacket] and the CofE incumbents - there is a new one each month as the church there has no permanent vicar in place.

It's on Friday nights so I am looking forward to tomorrow's episode already!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Changes

I was a little bit ill yesterday and it would seem to have been something I ate - not gone off or bad, just with an ingredient in it that I can't stomach......but the thing is that the packet has hardly changed at all, nothing to flag up the change in the allergy information, so I didn't notice until I went looking for the culprit for yesterday's episode.  Just wish that companies who make food and who obviously realise how important allergy information is these days would make it clearer when they change a recipe even slightly - just a little flash on the front of the packet which said, "New recipe" would have done the trick.  I have passed the offending food on today to a family with a coeliac child as she only needs the gluten free aspect of the product and the fact that it now seems to contain traces of dairy won't bother her.

I have also therefore had to have a Googling session to try to find a recipe to replicate the food, as my system definitely works better with a good dose of seeds each day.  It could be as simple as just eating the seeds, I suppose, but there have to be ways of making them more palatable, perhaps.  I have found several recipes to try so when I take the YFG to her piano lesson tomorrow, I shall hit the health food shop in town and see if they have some suggestions there.  They will also sell the seeds in packets in the supermarket, so between the two, I shall have seeds again tomorrow.

I am knitting a new pattern for a scarf, and it is all Helen G's fault ;)  I bought a copy of the sock pattern that she recommended, but whilst I was there, I also got a lovely pattern for hats and scarves as I thought it was time I tackled a new pattern!  It was also a way of putting off getting stuck in to the socks - I have read the pattern for the socks and still don't understand it, so I shall be using youtube and asking you all lots of questions when I do begin!  I have some lovely Rowan Renew yarn that I bought ages ago and I have started on a scarf with that.  I think that it will take about 4 or 5 balls, but it can't take many more because I only have 6 in Diesel [blue] colourway.  I had thought that I would make myself the scarf but the YFG has declared that "I would definitely wear that!" so I may have to share it.  Photo perhaps if the light is better tomorrow.

Frugal tip for today is a very simple one - stay at home, knit, watch the Olympics, chat by the fire - it is a lot cheaper than going anywhere at all!  The weather has been horrid here - horizontal rain, wind and then the next minute - beautiful blue skies with clouds scudding along and a rainbow - it really doesn't know what to do for the best!  I hope you are all safe, well and warm tonight xx

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Precious time

Time.  

Sixty minutes every hour and twenty four hours each day.  

Choices about how to spend them, wondering about whether we do it well enough all the time.

The FH has been on the phone to his friend tonight.  They've known each other probably only about 5 years at the most but they share a lot of common interests, so they get along very well.  Friend T has leukaemia, and he has told the FH tonight that he isn't going to make it.  He's spent weeks in hospital and now he has come home to spend what time he has with his wife and wider family.  The FH has been in tears here tonight.

Really makes you think.  Sorry that I haven't any other thoughts tonight - kind of absorbs all of your thinking when you hear news like that.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Monday? Where did it go?

I'm a bit frantic at the moment, getting two sections of the Methodist Local Preacher's course ready to submit, and I have lost some vital bits..........

You should see the mess I have made looking for them........the tutor is coming in the morning so I managed to fling the hoover around the sitting room this afternoon, but the room is also festooned with washing so that isn't a great look - she's a mum too though, so she should be kind :)

Frugal?  Mmm - we have done some of that today: the EFG made sort-of samosas for tea.  They were going to be samosas using left over filo pastry but that was far too dry and so that has gone in the chook bucket and she used up some puff pastry instead to make triangular parcels which she filled with a spicy chickpea, onion and bacon concoction and baked in the oven.  The gang ate that with a side dish of peppers and cucumber and apparently it was quite filling.  That leaves the mozzarella baked spaghetti dish for tomorrow then.  There is a menu plan done, it just hasn't made it here yet.......do bear with me, please - it's been a l-o-n-g day!

More frugal?  The Book People catalogue went straight in the bin - best place for it as it is far too tempting!  And I have bought the FH two absolutely gorgeous puzzles today from the doctor's surgery in the village for the grand sum of £1 each.  One is a Ravensburger [click to see] and the other another quality brand, and both 1000 pieces.  They will keep him occupied for a while!

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Contentment helps to save

There can be no doubt that advertising agencies have one agenda, and that is to persuade us to part with our cash, but I have thought a lot today about contentment: being satisfied.  If you are satisfied with what you have, you do not go out and buy the next thing that is all the rage.

Every morning in this showery and blustery weather, I put on my outdoor gear.  It comprises of a rather large [much too large, actually!] waterproof coat that my mother bought me in 1992, a crochet hat that I bought from a LETS exchange lady in 1996, and occasionally some wellies that were the FH's and date from way back when.  I must look a sight, but since only the chooks are going to see me, I don't really care.  Those things do the job that I require of them - to keep me warm and dry whilst I do the garden chores each day.

Most days, I am still wearing those Value jeans that I bought from that shop for about £10 some time ago.  There are two blue pairs and a newer black pair now, and they are my "out of the house/looking presentable" uniform.  They do all occasions, at school, preaching, doctor, dentist, shopping, visiting, etc.  And with them, a pair of Lakeland walking boots.  Pretty much all year round, I live in those boots.  They are comfortable, presentable, and I could walk several marathons in them, I am sure.  I bought two pairs of them many years ago: there was a lady's pair in navy blue for me and a sandstone pair for the FH.  I wore mine out and they went in the bin several years ago, full of holes, and he had not worn his more than a handful of times, so I am wearing his out now!  I shall mourn them when they go as I know I shan't find another pair.

And the sofa we sit on is easily 16 years old, if not a touch older.  Getting a wee bit threadbare here and there, but still comfy.  Still does the job, even if it is now covered in throws to make it a bit more presentable.  The FH loves a recliner with footrest that my Dad passed over to him when he bought a new electrically-powered model, and the other argued-over chair is a wing chair that the FH's sister gave to the EFG.  I don't think we have ever darkened the door of DFS or SCS or whatever those sofa emporiums are called!

My thought for the day today is that I need to extend this contentment to other areas of my life.......

Thoughts today for the people of Oxfordshire and Somerset whose lives are being turned upside down with all this water.  We sang "Shine, Jesus, Shine" this morning in chapel, and I thought it rather an unfortunate choice when we got to the line about flooding the nations, albeit with grace and mercy.

(image from telegraph.co.uk)

Congratulations to Jenny Jones on winning Team GB's first ever medal on snow and first medal of these Winter Games in Sochi.  I think that throwing yourself around on a snowboard like that looks particularly mad, but she is brave enough to do it so good for her!

The young 15 year old Russian ice dancer, Yulia Lipnitskaya, is doing amazingly well and her skating is just beautiful - I could watch her all day!


(image from ctpost.com)

She is so flexible but even I wonder how on earth she manages to get her leg up there and skate at the same time?!?!

Friday, 7 February 2014

Your comments please

At the chapel, we have to do quite some fundraising, but we are running out of interesting ideas!  We do the same things, year in and year out, and frankly, we need a change.....I thought it worth flinging the idea out there and asking the collective brain power of you dear readers - what could we do for fundraising?

Bear in mind that we are talking about an 80 year old woman and me doing the bulk of the organising, we can seat about 75 people comfortably, we have a very small kitchen, and we are in a rural village.

We already do coffee mornings, the annual overnight sponsored knitathon in August, a Strawberry Tea, Harvest Supper, etc.  I am desperately casting around for some different ideas.........

Anyone out there got any brainwaves for me?  What do the organisations you support do to raise cash?

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Down time

Having come down with the lurgy through the generosity of the girls, I struggled through a church meeting yesterday morning and then came home to sit and snooze in the chair for much of the afternoon, after I had typed up the minutes of the meeting.  The girls came home from school, and the YFG was good enough to cook our tea - she had fish pie and made me some risotto, which was lovely.  I am not sure what the EFG had, but I think she cooked her own.   The FH and UJ had had a hot lunch so they just had a sandwich.

This morning I had a lie in until 8am and then got up to sort out the chooks and the FH's pills.  He got up and made his own breakfast today instead of waiting for me to do it for him.  Once I had come in again from the chook chores, I set up camp in a comfy chair in the sitting room with the EFG's laptop and some knitting and books.  

The FH made some leek and potato soup which was going very well until he had a poke around in the fridge and found a tupperware of something he thought was leftover soup, so he chucked that in as well.  At that point he caught a whiff of almond and realised that it wasn't soup at all - it was actually the almond mixture we use for filling Bakewell tarts!  That load of soup had to go to the chooks, and then we had to fish some frozen soup out of the freezer.

I've had a productive day in that I have cast on a knitted hat, and done several rows.  I've caught up with some programmes on I-player and youtube, and I have had a flick around on the blogs, and even found some new ones to enjoy.  I've taken a call from a friend whose MOT had run out on her car and recommended a garage which may have been able to do the MOT today - she has rung back to say that yes, they did slot her in and it failed!  

The only thing I have had to do outside the house today was to take the EFG to town to pick up her new glasses this afternoon - her glasses are a very striking style and not entirely to my liking, but she loves them and I will get used to them!!  Now the FH is cooking the tea and we are looking forward to seeing whether we still like George Gently on the tv later.  I'm not planning to do much this evening, and I shall delegate the hanging of the washing on the airers after tea.

I'm getting over the lurgy, and I shall be back to normal very soon, but I am enjoying a little down time, I have to admit!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Spring too soon


The chooks had a very happy time in their revamped house and enclosure in the sun yesterday, and are thoroughly enjoying having solid ground under their feet again instead of mud!  They have christened the house by laying us a couple of eggs already too.  


This wee primula is coming up and showing us what it is made of, but I hope it isn't a bit too soon.  With all the rough weather still coming, I am keeping my fingers crossed it doesn't get drowned or blown away.


These flowers are from seeds that the EFG set last summer and they have managed to keep growing through the mild winter we have had so far, and now seem to think that spring has sprung.

Thank you for all your kind words about the YFG's sewing and the EFG's baking skills - I am already a v proud mummy indeed!

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Seamstress in the family

The YFG seems to be really inspired by her Textiles GCSE work, and has produced this gorgeous bag over several hours in the last two evenings.  I have been very impressed with her knowledge and understanding of the techniques, even if her finishing needs a bit of polishing.  She used some fabric from Dunelm Mill, and the pattern was from a CathKidston book.  Not bad, I thought:


It is not a basic bag, either, in that there is a front pocket on this side, fastened with a button, and there is a further pocket on the inside, and the whole thing is completely lined with the same fabric.  I think she may have a hobby developing here. I'm going to send her over to have a look at Ilona's bags too.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Cooking show pictures


The chocolate medallions that the home economist team [EFG & I] made in advance.  Very simple: melted chocolate swirled onto greaseproof paper and then dotted with cherries, dried apricots, and crushed Smarties.  They only need to be chilled for about 20 minutes and then they can be peeled off the paper.  It is loosely based on a Woman's Weekly recipe.


These are goat's cheese tarts: the recipe called for all sorts of other ingredients which we didn't use in our modifications!  It was bought puff pastry, tomatoes and cheese, sprinkled with mixed herbs.  Once cooked, they were adorned with a mixture of watercress and rocket, and really looked very good.


These gorgeous jammy dodgers which the EFG made were just for the refreshment table but they were popular and the YFG was lucky to get just a couple when we got home!


And the mini bakewell bites - I think that these were what swung it for the winner!  They were made in a Pampered Chef mini muffin pan, and the EFG completely modified this recipe from one she found on the internet for a single large pie, so she did well.  

It was a great afternoon's entertainment and the total raised ended  up at £230 so the funds have had a good boost this last weekend.  I am sure that some of the other chapels in the circuit will be having a go at this as a fundraiser before too long!

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Creative thinking

What with all the baking going on here these past few days, we have been feeling quite creative.  The hen house has been revamped and re-created, and so the hens have been moved into it tonight after some effort by the whole family this afternoon in the lovely sunshine to put the blessed thing back together.  The air turned ever so slightly blue at one stage when the things weren't going the FH's way and I do believe that chicken pie was even mentioned......The hens will be very happy to get outside again in the morning, though, so it will have been worth it.  Hopefully they will be inspired to get creative and lay some more eggs.  Valentine's Day traditionally [according to UJ] marks the time at which they get going again!

The YFG has had her sewing machine going this evening and is beginning to make a bag which she has found the pattern for in a CathKidston book I bought some years ago.  Glad someone is making use of it at last, I suppose!  It is quite weird to be sitting downstairs by the fire and be made to jump by the sudden noise of her sewing maching revving up in her bedroom right overhead.  I'll get used to it, I dare say - this Textiles GCSE is only just begun.  She has scored an A* for her first project, so she is encouraged and keen to do more.

I have been looking at sock patterns again on Pinterest.  Some people seem to move on to socks pretty quickly when they learn to knit, but I am still on my faithful hats and scarves.  I have been thinking that it may be time to progress......I can't get the image of my grandmother knitting on dpns and making UJ's work socks out of my head and it looked really complicated, and she always muttered on so much at the heels that I am burdened with the thought that it must be really difficult.  I know that the solution is just to try a pair and all will be revealed - and I am sure that some of you will comment and just tell me that it isn't that hard - but it is like the dreaded tax return, probably, in that the thought is much worse than the actual deed!

And I have been thinking about photography more too.  I would love to take more photographs, and since the EFG got her new camera with her renewed phone contract last month, she has been taking some fantastic shots.  I can't believe that such stonkingly clear pictures come from a phone camera these days, but they do.  She took some lovely pictures at the cooking show yesterday that I will get her to email to me so that I can share with you.

We only have 26 days left in February, so maybe it can be my aim to be more creative in February.  The girls will be working with me after school tomorrow on the menu plan for the month so that they can have more input into the month's eating.  Will get that up as soon as it is ready.


Saturday, 1 February 2014

Saturday edit

One child nearly back to normal - thank goodness.  Unfortunately, the other one going down with the flu-bug.

Two hundred pounds raised at the cooking show this afternoon - wow!

Three boxes of cooking paraphenalia to sort out in the morning....

Four hours of sleep last night just was not enough.

Five eggs laid today - looking positive.

Six-ty people at the cooking show - fantastic turn out from the village and church friends across the circuit.

Lots of ideas for a fab February - but they will have to wait until morning.  

Night, all xx