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Monday, 14 August 2017

Its getting harder!

Looking after the grandchildren is definitely getting harder as they get older and we get older. Our youngest daughters children are 12 and 6 and we  have just had them for 4 days, when we finally got home last evening we just about put everything away before we slumped on the sofa totally exhausted.  Unfortunately hubby has been providing holiday cover at work for the last 2 weeks and will be for the next 4 so he is  working  4 days each week instead of his normal 2. OUCH! 

The boredom threshold of children seems to be very low probably because of living in this technological era. Don't get me wrong they were very good when were out and we only saw them at the beach when they wanted a drink or food but the minute we would walk back in the house it was: Can I use your old iPad granddad ? Can I use your tablet nanny? I honestly think they can't sit and do nothing. I suppose every generation has gone through different things. When I was little young (as the grandchildren would still say I'm little) the only daytime television was a 30 minutes 'Watch with Mother' slot at lunchtime then you were back to the test card until teatime!

After rinsing all the wetsuits, lifejackets and kayak seats this morning I went around the garden as usual collecting anything that was ready.  The runner beans are slowing down and so are the dwarf beans.  I gave everything a good feed hoping that I get a few more harvests from the plants.  The large tomatoes are ripening now and I may try a few in the dehydrator. Each large tomato is almost 110g...YUM!

The first lot of sundried tomatoes has already been used on top of pizza and salads.  The small lot I did yesterday was made into sundried tomato paste. We are having kale bubble and squeak, runner beans, carrots  with lamb quarter pounders tonight. I'll prep the rhubarb ready for a crumble tomorrow when I can utilise the oven with some other dishes.  

I think I'm going to have to do what I used to see my grandparents doing this afternoon and have forty winks.

I can't stop yawning

Bye for now. Tx  

Friday, 11 August 2017

Shopping to save money


Shopping to save money sounds like a contradiction in terms.  But we all know that  with Brexit and the general state of the economy in the UK the only direction prices are going is up. But when this email dropped into my inbox it makes sense to spend to save.
Buy something in Iceland,  hand in my Bonus Card and I'll get a coupon for a free Ice cream worth £1.50. So that's what I did, knowing I've got the grandchildren for 4 days I bought some wraps (75p) and got the triple chocolate ice cream for FREE. 

Yesterday I mentioned that I had received  Tesco money off vouchers but you have to spend £50 to get the £7 off. Having played around with a shopping list on mysupermarket  Tesco is coming out far dearer than Asda, so its not worth using the coupon. I have just had a further refund from the tax man £39.80 so I'm going to use it sensibly to stock up on bits I need. Despite having a grocery embargo I think I this shop makes sense while some of the things I need are on offer. Luckily my shade hair dye was down to  half price £1.75 so I bought 4 which will last me about 9 months because I only use half at a time.  The coffee will take me through to February next year (5x£4)and so will the 2 large tubs of skimmed milk powder that I use for custard or cooking and in drinks when I run out of fresh. The MaMade and Jellies were free because of the £5 voucher. Some bargain bread and biscuits for the grandchildren. Ginger to make orange ginger marmalade for gifts and 1000mg Cod Liver Oil capsules for me. I swea by fish oil to keep the aches and pains at bay!

I did the ASDA price guarantee thingy too and have got a 65p coupon. 

Since 18th July I have spent £88.57 so I will have spent under £100 for the month even after buying milk and bread this week. There is approximately 8 weeks until I go on holiday and I believe there is enough food in the freezer and cupboards for that period.  I will continue on an even lower spend of £12 each week then reassess the situation.  The money I save will go into the Christmas fund because it will be here before we know it. 

Seedless blackberry cordial (No labels yet) The dehydrator has made some lovely sundried toms and I'm doing some more as we ate the first ones. I thought  I'd taken a photo but I couldn't find it.  I'm going to make some sundried tomato paste too when I have enough done.   
Thanks for all the comments on my last couple of posts. Have a wonderful weekend at least the weather is looking better.  

Problems with BLOGGER

I'm sorry if you found two posts that aren't there but I'm struggling to upload images to blogger.  The INSERT IMAGE icon is loading but I am unable to open anything whether it be from my phone or computer.  My phone is the same so I have emailed GOOGLE to tell them and inserted screen image.  In the mean time I will try other ways of getting my posts published.  

Anyone else having problems?????

Bye for now. Tx 

Wednesday, 9 August 2017


I often use sugar free jelly to make trifles as Hubby is an insulin dependant diabetic and I am always watching my weight! I used to be able to get Sugar Free Jelly from Aldi and it was much cheaper then the leading brand Hartley's or indeed the supermarket own brand. However, over the last year the supermarkets 'own'  has disappeared from the shelf and Aldi doesn't stock it anymore. So I've been buying Hartley's at 80p - £1 for a twin pack.  I fully understand the idiosyncrasies of sugar free jelly compared to normal jelly, for example you can't add certain fruit as it stops the setting process. But I add trifle sponge and it sets perfectly. 
Smashed Trifle Sponge

Cold custard added, spray cream on top just before serving 
YUM!!!! (I allow 100 calories for this)
Over the last 6 months I have had 3 sachets that have not set, despite following the instructions completely.  So I emailed Hartley's customer service to ask if any one else has had this problem as I'd also noticed it was the Raspberry flavour jelly that was failing,  my own personal favourite. They responded quickly wanting the batch number and sell by date from the packet used.  However this only appears on one side of the twin pack, so after digging through the bin to find the discarded packets I was able to provide them with the information requested. They replied with and an apology and said they had sent me a voucher by way of a goodwill gesture. A £5 voucher arrived last week  and its been in  my purse ever since. 
Hartley's Voucher
I have also received some Tesco vouchers but as you've got to spend £50 I don't think they will be used. The weather forecast for yesterday was light rain during the afternoon so I used the morning   to cut the lawn,  tidy the garden  and cut flowers.  Beautiful smelling sweet peas.
The colours are amazing and
one matches my little velvet bow.

Oh the perfume!TT

The afternoon was spent making seedless blackberry jam.  I won't bore you with the details but I will say seedless is time consuming because it takes ages to push it through the sieve, but its worth it. The kilo of fruit only made 3.5 jars but the fruit is free.  Today it started raining steadily at 12 so I have more blackberries to process but this time I'm making cordial.  This will be lovely with a cheap and cheerful prosecco, cava or sparkling water. I'll update you with the pictures tomorrow. 
Seedless jam

When I got my new laptop I signed up for a one month trial for Office 365 which I loved and used WORD to make all my produce labels  but to buy the package is £79, far too expensive and I'm looking for a cheaper version or alternative as my trial has ended. Hence my labels aren't up to the usual standard! Back soon. Tx

Monday, 7 August 2017

The Weekend

Thanks as always for your lovely comments. 

We went away for the weekend on Friday so hubby and friends could do some diving at Stoney Cove.    Our Premier Inn was 8 miles away at Fosse Park (Leicester), arriving at 3:40pm we had the good fortune to see a large Asian wedding party dressed in the most exquisite outfits in a rainbow of colours leaving to attend the wedding. The local weather forecast was dreadful but it wouldn't matter for the divers just us spectators and we were luck up until lunchtime on the Saturday when the biggest black cloud I've seen in a long time descended over the of quarry. It poured with rain and hail for over an hour leaving me soaked through to my underwear in a matter of seconds. 

As the wet weather forecast was fairly universal for the whole country I didn't bother watering the garden before I went but I did soak everything in the greenhouse rather than get my brother round to water.  Arriving home last night I was shocked to see the lack of rain in the water butts.  Our neighbour said there had been a couple of claps of thunder and a small downpour but that was it.  After unpacking I went around the garden and greenhouse  watering everything as well as harvesting. 

I'm putting 3 cucumbers outside for people to take. Cucumber in balsamic.
Courgetti in the steamer and sliced courgettes ready for the freezer. 
I have peeled and sliced one of the  cucumbers, seasoned it and added raspberry balsamic vinegar, YUM.
Runner beans, black & green French beans. 
Beans, beans and more beans.  The runner beans (and cucumbers) are going crazy.  I picked a load Friday and dropped them to my sister along with 3 cucumbers. Last nights harvest prepped, I have put them in water as I haven't made my mind up whether to use them fresh or freeze. The courgettes are slowing down as I'm down to one plant but they are still getting fat, just right for courgetti as we have bolognaise tonight. The tail ends of the courgette are sliced and frozen. 

And of course all the peelings go to the composter which will enrich the soil over winter so everyone is a winner.

Not sure there is enough sun today but I had to use these tomatoes up , the fan works well making sure there is no condensation. I have a thermometer somewhere I must find it, would love to see what sort of temperatures it can reach in there.  Despite ordering the sunshine this week the weather looks.  CHANGEABLE, so I'm not picking any more small toms until they can go in the dehydrator. How was your weekend? Bye for now. Tx

Friday, 4 August 2017

Catchup and Bargains

I managed to get the dehydrator box painted and hubby made the shelves out of some mattress bases that we had from our eldest daughter.  There were 4 and they looked so useful as plant climbing frames we couldn't just dump them.  Anyway hubby too two of them to work and altered the size to make a top and bottom shelf. Each shelf will have a piece of plastic netting on that the food will be laid on to dry.

The fan has arrived but the Perspex hasn't. We've  gone with Perspex for safety reasons. The problem I've had is that the tomatoes were getting over ripe and I needed to use some of them rather then they go to waste.  I DON'T DO WASTE! So I made a simple rich tomato sauce using tomatoes, onions, garlic, seasoning, a little red wine and tomato puree.  Once the sterilised jars were filled the jars were placed in a pan of boiling water for 25 minutes to complete the canning process.  

After dropping off some cucumbers and runner beans to my sister I called in at Asda to use my Fairy Liquid 50p coupon as they had a Mega bottle for £2 (1.350lt). I got all this for £2.63

My luck didn't end there, I also got these from Morrison's. Two lots of  Barbeque Turkey 15p, Skyr yoghurt which is gorgeous 15p, Butternut squash and chilli soup 15p, cheese 25p.

And when I called in Sainsbury's to meet my grandson on his birthday I found my cooking sauces on offer for 50p, best of all I had £5 on the Nectar card so I stocked up with 4 jars and some sweeties for the grandchildren. 
Hubby brought home another lot of blackberries from his yard at work, they are beauties, large, fleshy and sweet. I open froze them before placing them in a bag in the freezer.  Next week I will get around to make some seedless jam and cordial as I need the space in the freezer. Freezing the berries helps to break down the skins in cooking. 

This week has been brilliant for bargains and will certainly help the monthly budget.  I've never been overly lucky with yellow stickers because I don't shop often.  I can see how people get addicted to this practice. Have a lovely weekend, I hope the sunshine returns soon I have some sundried tomatoes to make! 

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Easy Ways to Save Money

Thanks for the comments and emails I received regarding yesterdays post.  I thought I'd write this post as some of you are not aware of the offers that can be found if you know where to look. One of the easiest ways of saving money is to sign up/register on various sites.

Spend £10 on at least three occasions between July & 20th August
and get £5 on your card to spend between the
26th August and 10th September.

I have an Iceland bonus card and its registered to my email address and postal address.  They send messages electronically and by snail mail.  I wrote about the £5 one a few weeks ago after receiving this in the post. When I first started signing up to various websites to be informed of their deals I decided to get myself a new email address so my normal inbox was cluttered with rubbish.  

By browsing Lidl leaflets on line ( you can see what's on offer over the next few weeks.  I find it easier to access from my phone I don't know why, if you click on the photo it will enlarge and you can see the mobile address.  You may have to enter your post code as offers  vary around the country apparently! Having the full brochure to browse means I can prepare a shopping list in advance. I also know if  their weekend deals are worth getting out of bed for. You need to be outside the store at opening time at the weekend! 
Last weekend 29th & 30th July
Next weekend 5th and 6th Augu

Do you use Facebook? I'm not a fan and nor are my family,  except for selling stuff and following large companies. I have recently started following  Lidl because if you agree to the notifications through FB then you will be told when there is a printable £5 off coupon.  No having to buy a newspaper to get it but it will only print from a laptop or computer. Other large companies will notify you when there is a special offer on. 

Money saving expert is a great source of information.  There is a supermarket coupon section on there were you can browse to see if its worth printing out any coupons.  I have printed a Fairy Liquid 50p off one because I only have one bottle left in my stash. I have used the Mysupermarket App to find the largest cheapest bottle which happens to be Asda 1.35litre Mega bottle  for £2.00,  50p cheaper than any other supermarket so it will cost me £1.50 BARGAIN. 
Print Coupons in your own home
MSE also tells you about specials like The Covent Garden Soup company one recently.  He provided a link to be able to print a £1 voucher and as Mysupermarket said Asda and Morrisons were both doing that soup for a £1 it was essentially FREE and you can't get better than that.  Plus you will be in the loop for further offers but you do have to check spam folders because I've found money saving emails in there. 

Some people may find this a bit of a faff but its there if you want it. I'm just a little addicted to getting stuff cheaper. I would love to hear from others how you manage to get cheaper shopping. What websites do you go to? How do you do it? 
Slow down Nanny is coming!

Look who I've been looking after, my lovely grandsons. I'm the one running behind!!! Back soon. Tx

Monday, 31 July 2017

Saving Money

One sure way of saving money is to plan your meals, shopping and outgoings. Has anyone been watching that ITV program EAT, SHOP, SAVE.  Each week a family declare what they spend on food which is usually a jaw dropping amount.  One young couple with a toddler spent £50-£60 a week on takeaways alone and had consequently cancelled their wedding because they couldn't afford it. Does that surprise me........ermm NO!

I'm amazed how many people have no idea of their outgoings, food bills or household bills. Until you get to grips with your finances you cannot begin to save. When I saved over £25K in the two years prior to retirement I learnt so much and despite being better off now I still do all the things I did then. And as I'm on 4 month money saving exercise I will be tweaking my finances even more. 

Having re-acquainted myself with the contents of my freezer and store cupboards I  put together a shopping list.  I have been using Iceland so I get my £5 back for £30 (3 x £10) spend. I also admit to spending in Lidl on their 'weekend special offer', I got their  bargain spreadable butter  6x 79p. A few months back I picked up three of their laundry liquid for 89p a bottle. 
79p weekend bargain

With the garden producing so much fresh produce at the moment I am spending very little on vegetables.  After sorting the garden on Friday and Saturday I set a meal plan for the week. My batch cooking session produced 14 meals for 2 people: (home produce or foraged in red)

15 Turkey burgers(3x2meals):Turkey mince, lentils, stock cube,breadcrumbs, egg, onions, garlic, seasoning.
Chicken Supreme(2x2meals): Chicken, mushrooms, onions, garlic, celery, pepper, Sainsbury's mushroom sauce 89p, seasoning. 
Chicken curry (3x2meals): Chicken, curry paste, onions, garlic, courgettes, potatoes, tomato sauce, stock cube. 
Fish Pie(2x2:meals): Bassa, haddock, salmon and mackerel, finely sliced courgette, Sainsbury's dauphinoise sauce 89p, seasoning.
Bolognaise(1x2 meals): 5% steak mince, lentils, onion, garlic, tomato sauce, mushrooms, stock cube, seasoning.
Cottage Pie (2x2 meals): 5% steak mince, lentils, carrots, onion, mushroom, potatoes, celery, stock cube, gravy granules, seasoning, milk/butter. 
Tomato Sauce for Pizza (1x2 meals): tomatoes, onion, garlic, tomato puree and seasoning. 

All the above meals will be served with home grown veg either: French green beans, mushrooms, runner beans, potatoes, sweet corn, beetroot, salad, cucumber courgette, kale and carrots.

Fish Pie 2 large (hubby) and 2 small (me)

Chicken curry & Chicken supreme

Chocolate, caramel shortcake.....YUM
It was a busy session but hubby helped out and we even got some baking done too.  We had a go at millionaire shortcake (Caramel shortbread), not the best of presentations but the taste is divine.  I have made lots of space in the freezer because I used lots and lots of bits and pieces up.  I know there will be meals to go back in but some will be left in the fridge.
More beans and courgettes, can you see the last mushroom
I foraged. A huge steak mushroom with bolognaise and cottage pies. 

Peeled, sliced and blanched ready
to be open frozen and bagged. 
I have also been busy blanching vegetables for the freezer as the runner beans are going crazy, every morning the plants are full of bees.  I must have picked at least 12lb so far and 5lb of French beans. Tonight we will have tortilla pizzas using my tomato sauce, ham, cheese and mushroom. It will be served with a beetroot salad.  A couple of 'meat free meals' each week help both the budget and our health.  These meals tend to be quiche, pizza,  risotto and vegetable/spinach pasta.

I have been very lucky to find a source of large field mushrooms over the last two weeks. Unfortunately the council mowed the grass verge where I found the biggest ones. It was almost an exact ring but I didn't have my phone to hand.  When I went back there was only a couple of broken ones left. Do you forage? Bye for now Tx 

Sunday, 30 July 2017

The Beach Hut

We were very fortunate with the weather on the whole for our beach hut week.  It rained late afternoon on Sunday and Thursday but the evening turned out lovely. The hut was well equipped and even had a porta loo which was a god send with so many young children.  My friend brought her pop up gazeebo and small portable barbeque and we had a couple of lovely evenings with food off the grill.

All the grandchildren came for 6-7 days and they played with out drama . We have the beach hut again for a weekend next month and fingers crossed the weather is kind to us.

The only problem with having the hut for the week is that things at home have been ignored and I've had a mountain of things to do since.  I stripped the bed yesterday and caught up with all the laundry used on the beach. The garden and greenhouse was way overgrown and took almost all day yesterday to sort out. The lower leaves on the tomato plants stripped and all the ripe produce picked. 
Another lot of beetroot picked and prepred,
I've planted the last of the seedlings.

This is the carrots from the small 10 inch pot
 Not a bad little experiment
Trying to get the dehydrator finished so I can do
some  sundried tomatoes.

The lawn was cut and a batch of feed made up for all the plants. All the vegetable harvesting and preparation has meant the compost heap is getting larger.  The compost which is breaking down nicely was turned and mixed, I added some shredded paper and grass cuttings between the layers. of heavier vegetation.  Hubby transplanted one of the butternut squash plants from a tub into the garden, I hope it settles and produces some squash.  Back soon. Tx