Thursday, 14 December 2017

The Very Last Tomatoes and Cucumbers !

Although it has been raining a bit it still looks pretty much like this round here ! MrShoestring went to the polytunnel to start pulling out the last of the plants and was astonished to find the following !

We used the two little cucumbers and the ripe tomato in a salad and then for a filling for a lunchtime sandwich. The green ones are sitting on the counter waiting to ripen up.

I think this is a record for us, to still be getting salad vegetables in December ! I planted the tomato seeds in January so shall definitely be doing this again next year ! Anybody else still got tomatoes, the ripe one really surprised us !

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Advent Muffins

Another tasty treat for Advent time ! 

100g soft margarine
1 egg
200g self raising flour
1 tsp cinnamon
30g raisins
4tbsp honey
100ml dairy free milk
1 apple chopped
A little sugar and cinnamon for the top

Line a muffin pan with 12 cases.Mix all the ingredients (not the bit of sugar and cinnamon for the top !) together and beat well. Place scoops of the mixture into the muffin cases. Sprinkle a little sugar and cinnamon on top of each muffin. Bake at 180C for 20-25 minutes until nice and brown on top. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy !

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Be Prepared !

The snowy days reminded me of all the preparations I make in the Autumn to make sure that we are ready for unexpected wintry weather. It isn't a lot of work if you do a little bit at a time and needn't be expensive either !

The first thing is to make sure that all the cars have scrapers for ice and some sacking and a shovel in the back if it looks like snow. The second thing is that we have enough torches in the house for everyone to have one each and plenty of spare batteries. These can be picked up for £1 at a pound shop and are you need to make sure that they are always kept in the same place so people know where to go to if the power goes off. Then I make sure that we have a reasonable stock of candles, usually about 2 dozen and enough safe candle holders ! You can pick up packets of candles cheaply at IKEA and candle holders are very cheap at jumble sales. You need matches or lighters and some snuffers to make sure that you can put them out safely. We have several wind up lanterns as well.

Secondly, during the Winter I always make sure that I have the makings of a week's food in the house. It might mean running out of fresh food but there is always plenty in the freezer and pantry and this is no more expensive than normal shopping, it just involves a bit of thinking ahead. We also have some cheap water containers from the pound shop which we can fill if we hear the water might go off. We are less affected by this than others might be as unusually for the UK we have a well in the garden !

Finally you need a means of heating and cooking that is independent of the electricity and gas grid and which will work if either of those go off. We have a couple of butane gas cooker rings and a wood stove. So even if the heating goes off we can still cook, heat hot water and have one room heated where we could all sleep until the power came back on.

Yesterday, when the snow was so heavy, the telephone line was sagging closer and closer to the ground and Master and MissShoestring were very worried that the internet might go ! However, I did not share their concern since I do not regard this is an emergency essential, I suspect they might differ with that opinion ! Not to worry though, the wind as blown all the snow off the line and we still have an internet connection, much to their relief !

I hope you are all staying warm and safe !

Monday, 11 December 2017

A Snowy Day

This is what we woke up to yesterday morning !

Here is the driveway, with a silver birch looking majestic and christmassy in her beautiful covering of snow !

This is the back of the house and I had to put my snow boots on to struggle to the back of the garden !

The little shed looking very wintry !

 A lovely maple, still beautiful without all her leaves ! MasterShoestring was very keen for us to try and get the car out so he could go sledging with friends in the next village, but we said maybe he could sledge there as there wasn't much chance we would get the car out the driveway ! Instead we made mince pies. listened to carols and went for a walk to enjoy all the wintry beauty !

I hope you are all wrapped up warm and can enjoy the seasonal splendour !

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Pause in Advent 2

The second week in Advent and a time to remember friends and family, write cards, send emails and presents, make calls and have a coffee with a friend ! We are also singing my second most favourite Advent carol. When I was young and we sang this in school it made me want to go and visit all the places mentioned, especially the Hills of the North and the Isles of the Southern Seas. If you are curious about the tune the words are sung to then there are several different versions to listen to on YouTube, but some of them have different words, I like these words best !

Hills of the North, rejoice;
River and mountain spring,
Hark to the advent voice;
Valley and lowland, sing;
Though absent long, your Lord is nigh;
He judgment brings and victory.

Isles of the southern seas,
Deep in your coral caves
Pent be each warring breeze,
Lulled be your restless waves:
He comes to reign with boundless sway,
And makes your wastes His great highway.

Lands of the East, awake,
Soon shall your sons be free;
The sleep of ages break,
And rise to liberty.
On your far hills, long cold and gray,
Has dawned the everlasting day.

Shores of the utmost West,
Ye that have waited long,
Unvisited, unblest,
Break forth to swelling song;
High raise the note, that Jesus died,
Yet lives and reigns, the Crucified.

Shout, while ye journey home;
Songs be in every mouth;
Lo, from the North we come,
From East, and West, and South.
City of God, the bond are free,
We come to live and reign in thee!

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Yellow Stickered Bargains

Yesterday I went shopping with MasterShoestring to do the heavy lifting, so I went a bit earlier than usual and did not expect the usual Friday bargains !

Sure enough the fruit and vegetable reductions and the ones in the meat department were still too little for me to be tempted, but when I got to the grocery section my luck was in. There was 1 packet of Barilla wholewheat pasta 500g at 38p, so I snapped it up. I never normally buy this pasta, always the own brand and now Aldi and Lidl don't seem to stock it anymore that means paying around 56p for 500g so I could see straight away this was a good buy !

Next were 4 tins of Napolina tomatoes at between 4p and 25p a tin. Some of them were chopped tomatoes and some were plum tomatoes but I still haven't been able to work out why 1 tin cost 25p, 2 cost 4p and 1 cost 6p ! Maybe it was something to do with how bashed up they were ? Anyway, definitely a bargain as even the cheapest tinned tomatoes at Aldi cost 29p !

Next was a tin of taco beans, useful for making filled tortillas, at only 9p and then 4 tins of Heinz soup at between 4p and 9p a tin. There was a slight problem with the discounted soup, as when I got home I discovered that 1 tin had scanned at full price, because the reduced sticker had not been stuck over the original barcode. I wondered about going back to ask for a refund but after totting up my savings decided that it was not worth the petrol money to do so ! Especially as chapatti flour, which we use in place of wholemeal flour was reduced this week from £5 for 10kg, to £3.50 for 10kg ! A great bargain! Thank goodness I had MasterShoestring to carry it !

So I think I might carry on shopping on Fridays !

Friday, 8 December 2017

Frugal Friday

Not a great deal to report on the frugal front as I have been busy finishing my assignment for college, I guess that was frugal as it involved no spending and no time to do any spending !

I did download the Simple Savings 2018 calendar and am wondering about trying a challenge every month next year. The 'buy no new clothing' one has gone quite well this year so maybe there are a few more things we could try next year.

The other reason we have been doing very little spending is because MasterShoestring is sitting exams at school this week and next, so I've been doing a lot of downloading of past GCSE papers. You can get these for free now whereas you used to have to pay for a book of papers. However, lots of them come with a blank page between each question, so that used quite a bit of paper and some printer ink !

We made tortillas, fajitas, mince pies, a pasta salad for a 'bring and share' lunch, cottage pie and spaghetti bolognaise. MasterShoestring chose the menu this week to make sure that there were plenty of leftovers for late night snacking !

I got a free notepad through the post and sprayed my old walking boots with weatherproofing spray as they had started to leak. I bought 6 bottles of the spray for a very cheap price a few years ago in Aldi and it is still proving useful !

St. Nicholas visited the house and left a few bits of chocolate in the shoes of those people who polish them, so there were a few happy faces first thing one morning ! Next week it's Santa Lucia, so Swedish buns will be appearing ! I love all these little traditions through Advent !

Have a lovely weekend !