Monday, 14 July 2014

Manky Carrot Pie and Yellow Stickers

This should have been posted  a couple of days ago but our internet has been extremely flaky over the weekend, cutting out for a few minutes here and there and for longer periods too.

I am definitely not happy with Sky broadband; we've had nothing but problems since we moved over to them about 2 months ago. The TV service is fine, although when the internet connection goes down we also can't access the 'on demand' service. Although Virgin's cable service was more expensive we rarely had problems with our internet connection and when there was an issue they'd sort it out quickly, but with Sky being satelite they like to blame atmospheric conditions etc. Also, because it shows at their end that our signal is fine they won't send anyone out to investigate why it keeps going down at our end. Whatever happened to the 'customer is always right'? Do they think DH and I get our kicks being on the phone for 40 minutes at a time while they go through the same old spiel time and time again? Is that why they won't take our word for it? And if the problems are due to weather conditions will we have internet at all during the winter? One thing's for sure, they will not be getting our business when this year's contract expires. We will probably go back to Virgin just for the internet and either get Freeview TV or do without TV completely and watch programmes through our laptops. If things get too bad during the winter we might even go to another company anyway and just have to continue paying Sky as well until the contract expires. This is a case of cheaper definitely not being better.

Anyway, following that rant here's the point of this post. 

Would you throw away this carrot? 

Many people would, but just look at it once it's been peeled? 

Not a mark on the inside of it. 

I had a few carrots like this that had gone a bit manky and just by chance I got an email from Penny's Recipes for Carrot and Onion Pie ( 

This is my version of this extremely frugal pie. Being lazy I couldn't be bothered grating the carrots and onions so I whizzed them up in my food processor and also mixed the pastry in it too.

I'm avoiding eating pastry so didn't try it but it was pronounced delicious by my 3 men and cost me virtually nothing to make.

As I'm striving hard to get the last few lbs off to reach my target weight I'm snacking on a lot of fruit at the moment so I'm always on the lookout for yellow stickers. Over the past week I've bought a lot of reduced price melon (including a huge chunk of watermelon for just 9p) and I got these in Asda a couple of days ago:-

The apricots weren't reduced but were only 67p on special offer, and I love the doughnut much easier to eat and a smaller stone than the regular kind. In the top picture there are also some Cornish crystal new potatoes reduced to 61p.
As DH has eaten out at a leaving do at college today and I generally stick to soup the day before my weigh-in, I'm doing the boys frozen faggots, chips and peas tonight for dinner. 

I'm trying to feed us from the freezer and cupboards again this week and spend as little as possible on extras. It shouldn't be hard as I have loads of stuff in. Today I've spent just over £1 and that was for paracetamol and micropore tape for the medicine cupboard.

Now, let's see if the internet will play ball and let me post this.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

I Can Crochet Update

I can definitely crochet. 

At least I can make granny squares, join them together with a crocheted seam, work a border around them and then neatly finish off the edge with double crochet. 

So here's the great unveiling of my very first completed crochet project.

I must admit to being quite pleased with the end result and it will go to my mother-in-law in the nursing home in Bridgend as a gift for her Christmas Eve birthday. I'm going to press it gently and then wrap it so its all ready for when I need to post it. One less thing to do later in the year.

I'm now looking forward to starting on another project since I've been concentrating on this one for a while. Or perhaps I could attempt to finish off my hexie quilt. Or should I start on something completely new? Or make more bags?  Decisions, decisions. I think a delve into my magazine stash for inspiration is the order of the day. Any excuse to spend a few hours looking at lovely crafty stuff.

In other news, on the strength of her performance as Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar, DD3 has been asked to perform in a play at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury. She will play the possessed daughter of one of the characters in a production called Horror Box at the end of September. I'm not sure whether I shall go to see it as she says its really scary.  Despite my enjoying True Blood and Penny Dreadful and such like on TV, I'm not so sure I can stomach that kind of horror on stage, especially as it looks like the audience might be involved in the action. I'm sure her brothers and sisters will enjoy it though. She's also in the local dramatic society's pantomime of Snow White, although she doesn't know what role she'll have yet. Now that's far more my kind of thing these days. She's also been asked to sing again at the Town Hall later this year in another 'music from the musicals' event. She'll be singing 5 songs this time including a duet with her boyfriend and another with the guy who played Judas in JCS. As she also has a full time job she's going to be rather busy with work and rehearsals over the next few months.

Since today is Thursday, we had our regular sandwich dinner tonight. Sandwich Night originated a few months ago when it was only DS1 still living at home. He would go to his Anime club on a Thursday night so DH and I would just have sandwiches and sometimes soup or salad for dinner. Since DS2 moved back home and the Anime club is on a break over the summer, I now make a bit more of an effort for the 4 of us, but we still have something bread-related for Thursday dinner. For tonight I made cheese-topped finger rolls, grilled pork sausages and fried onions. 

The rolls were made with bread flour from Approved Foods and yeast from Aldi, and just a couple of ounces of extra strong cheddar on offer in Morrisons. The sausages were 99p for 8 from Aldi and these are our favourite ordinary pork sausages as they are nice and firm and don't shrink much. The onions were also from Aldi.

I also made a tray of brownies as a treat for dessert to serve with vanilla ice cream. 

My greedy lot wolfed everything down so quickly it was only at the last minute I manage to snap a few pictures.

As I'm trying hard to stick to my diet lately and stay off the bread and cake, I had Quorn sausages, eggs fried using Frylight spray and baked beans, and a yogurt for dessert (although a few brownie crumbs might have snuck into my mouth when I was cutting them into pieces). 

Talking of my weight...guess who got her 4 1/2 st award this week?  I've had a surge of determination during the past few weeks and have lost 5 lbs over a 3 week period despite having 2 birthdays to celebrate. I've also raised my target by a few pounds so I now only have 4 1/2 lbs to lose. I decided to settle for a slightly higher target weight and will try to stay a couple of pounds below it rather than aim for lower and have trouble maintaining, which is what has happened in the past.

Right, I think that's all I have for now. Hope the weather is better where you are than it is here in Dover. Whatever happened to our summer?

Friday, 4 July 2014

Break a leg!

Quick update before we go out the door to see DS2 play a gig in Deal...hopefully, unlike last time, this one will actually go ahead and he'll get paid for it.

Of course, the title could refer to wishing DS good luck for his gig, but actually it's me who has broken something; not a leg, but a toe. Look away now if you're squeamish or don't like anything to do with feet.

This is the selfie I took of my poor toe, almost black after the silly thing decided to move in the opposite direction to the others when I came downstairs this morning.

It must be broken with the way it's swollen, the colour it's gone and how painful it is, but there's no point going to minor injuries as they don't even x ray breaks to toes any more and would only strap it to the next one anyway, so I've taped it to its neighbour myself. Now I'm hobbling about and my plans for a nice long walk this weekend are on hold until further notice.

I still limped to the bus station this morning to catch my ride to Hythe for a bag making workshop. No way was a little thing like a broken toe going to stop me going, but it was painful and the walk probably didn't do the injury any good. 

Anyway, this is the bag I made:-

And this is Shadow claiming it as his own. 
He fell asleep in it for hours this afternoon and I had to wait for him to wake before I could take it back to actually use as a shopping bag.

Okay, that's all I've got for now. Hope everyone has a good evening

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Makeshift Garden-Less Gardening

Inspired by what I've seen on other blogs I thought I'd join the green-fingered brigade and write a gardening post.

As for the title...well, I don't actually have a garden, just a pitifully small L-shaped concreted back yard with enough room to string a few washing lines across it and very little else. Nevertheless, today I've been gardening.

In the past I've grown quite a few bits and pieces in pots but haven't been organised enough to plant anything for a couple of years. I hadn't intended growing anything this year either but a lovely generous lady at my slimming club asked a few weeks ago if anyone wanted some tomato plants. Free is my favourite price so I thought I'd take a couple and see how that went. I still had some pots and plastic planters and also 1/2 a bag of compost from previous attempts, so the plants went into a nice big terracota flower pot and they're doing quite well and have now sprouted some pretty yellow flowers. I'm hoping to add a homegrown tomato or two to my salads in the near future. 

I hadn't intended planting anything else this year, but an idea in this month's Craftseller magazine caught my eye and I thought I'd give it a go. The project was to make a hanging basket from a metal colander. I had just the thing languishing unused at the back of my cupboard; a cream and green enamelled colander. I decided to make a mini herb garden as I already had some packets of seeds, and all I paid out for extra was a pack of 2 hanging basket liners from Poundland. 

This is the result of my makeshift hanging basket herb garden. 

It's not as pretty as the one in the magazine that had proper chains to hang it with, but then that one was intended to be sold for profit. Mine is suspended by some old boot laces but it does what I want it to and I'm hoping the seeds (basil, marjoram, chives and parsley) will sprout as they are a couple of years past their sell-by date. I'll keep you updated if (when) I actually get plants growing in it.

While I was sorting through the seed packets I came across salad leaves and lettuce. Using the last of the compost, I sprinkled those in one of the plastic planters. I've previously had good results with baby salad leaves and would love to be able to pick my own instead  of buying packets of chopped leaves that go off in a couple of days. 

Since I was on a grow-your-own-without-a-garden roll I also made a cress tray from an old ice cream tub lined with dampened toilet tissues and placed it on the kitchen windowsill. Once again, the cress seeds are out of date so I'm not sure whether my efforts will be successful, but I hope so as I love egg and cress with low fat mayonnaise on a jacket potato.

It just goes to show that anyone can grow their own veg at very little cost. The seeds themselves are the most expensive item nowadays as compost can be bought cheaply at a supermarket, and containers can be improvised from almost anything. If I'd had to buy my seeds then Ebay is the place to look or the £1 shops in the Spring as this time of year most have very little choice of seeds left.

I'm open to any advice from seasoned gardeners out there. I also wonder whether anyone else remembers growing cress in this way at school or, as my kids did, on damp cottonwool stuffed into an eggshell with a face painted on it so that it looked hair.