Friday, 28 June 2013

Reasons to be cheerful!

Sorry I haven't posted for a while, I seem to be chasing my tail a lot these days. Malcolm working full time again (yay!), my work schedule changing weekly to fit around school trips, sports days etc., new job jitters and general, everyday 'stuff' seems to have me more than usually frustrated and tired. 
I'm also trying to get my house in order, quite literally, but with each task I begin to tackle  I'm thinking of all the others still to be done! Add in the mountain of debt we're supposed to be trying to clear and......well....*@#*!!
Anyhoo, time to find something to make me smile :-)

I made my first sale on Etsy! These lovely little crochet pots are winging their way to a lovely lady in the USA, I do hope she likes them.



Don't get too excited, it's taken me a year to get a sale, but hey it's a start :-D 

The lettuce is growing well,



enough to make a salad to go with our quiche, they're sort of 'cut and come again' so I just pick what we need, when we need it, no more left over lettuce going soggy in the salad drawer,



and the spring onions are growing too. I know I should probably thin them out but it always seems mean to the ones I remove!!


The pumpkins have failed to put in an appearance, though!


I used Frugal Queen's idea of making an inventory of food in an attempt to get meal planning under control (we used to be sooo good at this!!)

Freezer
Dry goods
Tins/jars
Baking
Seasonings/spices
1 portion lasagne
¼  pack prawn crackers
Hoisin sauce

Fajita mix
Sm. Pot cooked, diced pork
Gravy powder
Wholegrain mustard
Golden syrup
Malt vinegar
4 bags fresh herbs
Cornflour
½ jar gerkins
Black treacle
Sea salt
5oz sliced crusty bread
Red lentils
½ jar pickled onions
Custard powder
Fish sauce
Sm. Portion hot pot
Star anise
¼ jar beetroot
Suet
Oyster sauce
4 flour tortillas
Cinnamon sticks
Branston pickle
Cocoa powder
Rice vinegar
7 homemade samosas
Box cloves
Pear halves
Gelatine
Dark soy
½ bag cooked mussels
Box dried red chilli
Sardines
Baking powder
Light soy
3 orange lollies
Box whole cardamom
Beetroot pickle
Bicarb. Of soda
Sesame oil
8 pack white rolls
Barley
Marmite
Cream of tartar
Chilli sauce
½ bag peas
Broth mix
Honey
100’s and 1000’s
Worcester sauce
½ bag sweetcorn
3 poppadoms
Peanut butter
Glace cherries
Balsamic vinegar
½ pack raspberries
½ pack lasagne
Chocolate spread
Easy bake yeast
Sherry
1 mini choc ice cream
Mixed pasta shapes
3 cartons chopped tomatoes
Mixed fruit
Ketjap manis
4 portions Bolognese type sauce
Spring roll wrappers
1 tin corned beef
Currants

500g lamb mince
Egg noodles
1 tin cannellini beans
Few sultanas

2 sm. packs beef mince
Basmati rice

Handful dried figs

500g pork mince


Sm. pack flaked & ground almonds

2x8 pork sausages


Vanilla extract

1 pack cass. steak


Jelly glaze mix

1 pack pork chops


Handful mixed nuts

Whole chicken


Plain flour

Ready made steak pie


Self-raising flour

5 chicken breasts


White bread flour




Icing




Caster sugar




Demerara sugar




Wholemeal bread flour




Dess. coconut




Ready to roll icing


 and as a result we also have two scrubbed clean and organised kitchen cupboards! Two birds with one stone - result!

Just a few reasons to be cheerful but I'm feeling better already! Perhaps the best thing that has happened this week is that Malcolm received his first full months pay cheque in three years and his self-esteem is well on the way to being fully restored :-D (I'm now off to pay the car tax!!)

Peace, love and marshmallows 
Louise x  


Saturday, 15 June 2013

"It's the same sun...

that shines here!"
These words, or similar, were often spoken by my father-in-law when extolling the virtues of a British summer. Sitting in our garden, in the recent glorious sunshine, I have to say I totally agree. 
Not being a particularly avid gardener, I tend to leave things to Mother Nature rather more than I should. She must take pity on me at this time of year though, sending me splashes of colour from peonies, vincas, aquilegias and the like. The only other time of year my garden looks good is in the Winter when it's covered in snow lol!
Thanks Ma!



Peonies
Vinca


Aquiligias

Some of her choices are less welcome, but just as pretty in their own way!




Last year we let the brambles grow and had enough for an apple and bramble crumble, yummy!

                        
My kiwi plant has, up to now, only produced one fruit - and that was nabbed by a hungry bird. Imagine my excitement when my husband spotted these!





Now, what to do about those pesky birds?
I found a forgotten half bag of compost in the shed so decided to sow some left over seeds in a few pots and see what came up. The seeds were out of date so I wasn't sure, but it was worth a try :)



         The mizuna, lollo rosso and spring onions are coming up!                                          
                                                   

Still no sign of the pumpkins though!
I can't post photos of the garden without including some of our Labrador, Angel. She loves to sit in the sun watching the birds and the bees. However she also likes to 'help' with the gardening; if I prune she prunes, if I weed she weeds, if I dig she digs. She has also riddled the lawn with yellow patches, but we love her non-the-less!

My favourite photo!



It's thirsty work this gardening lark!

It wasn't me!



Love you, Dad
Malcolm will kill me for this!!!

                                                        
                                                   



Friday, 14 June 2013

The House-proud Sloven: An end to procrastination!


My New Year's resolution was to stop procrastinating This, I thought, would roll a multitude of possible resolutions into one - losing weight, paying bills on time, shaving my legs regularly - all the usual stuff including 
keeping up with the housework!!
As with every other year, I managed to keep it up for a week or two (well paying the bills at least, lol) then slid back into my normal way of life.
Now that I am beginning my 'cleaning journey' I realise that one of the easiest fixes would be to 
just get on and do it!
I need to stop wasting time reading blogs about other peoples amazing homes and how they maintain them, close my laptop and open my eyes as to what my own home needs!!
The other thing I noticed was the amount of time I wasted while waiting for other things to happen. Here are a couple of examples of this weeks remedies;
  • while waiting for potatoes/pasta to boil clean down areas of the kitchen instead of watching bits of Only Fools and Horses (I've seen it a million times anyway!)
  • tidy and clean the bathroom windowsill and sink area while dying my hair (I can read my magazine this evening without feeling guilty)
Blackberry ice-cream anyone? 
Something I have done occasionally is to use 'spare' washing up water for kitchen cleaning. You know how it goes, you wash a couple of glasses then, instead of wasting the bowl of hot soapy water, you wipe down surfaces etc. Well now I try never to throw away practically clean water without using it for at least one other job first. This way all those little jobs I previously put off are now getting done automatically :)
Here's the latest;



I cleaned out my glass cupboard and washed all the glasses. This is right next to the sink so there really has been no excuse ( the sloven in me left the top shelf coz it didn't 'look' dirty and we never use those glasses anyway - one step at a time right? lol!)
So far this morning (my day off) I have hung out the washing, changed our bed, re-loaded the washing machine with the bedding, washed the dishes, cleaned the kitchen table and mats with the left over soapy water, emptied the bathroom and bedroom bins and written this blog. Now I'm off to do a small pile of ironing - rather than leaving it to toppling height  - so that I can spend the afternoon crocheting granny squares and feeling pleased with myself!

A little P.S.
Earlier in this post I referred to myself as 'wasting time reading blogs'. Now as you all know, otherwise you wouldn't be here, blog reading is NEVER a waste of time!!!
Here are some great ones relevant to this post (and much more besides :))

Have you any favourite cleaning blogs? Or any useful tips?
I'll be posting my first 'cleaning list' soon. I DO love a list, don't you?


Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Waahaay! I've got a new job!!

I am soooo excited tonight as I was offered a new job today!


Just before the half term holiday I learnt that I would be made redundant in the Summer from my job as a Teaching Assistant. It wasn't too much of a surprise as the child I support is leaving to go to middle school. The school, like many, is also facing budget short-comings so there is no spare money to keep me on for September.
At the moment I am only working part-time - 12 hours a week - so I was looking for a post with more hours anyway. With this in mind I had already had an interview for a new job as a Childcare Practitioner at a Pre-school. Although I was told that my interview was good, someone else had scored higher so I was out of luck.  
The following month another post at the same Pre-school came up. I had been assured that they would be glad for me to apply again, however my confidence had taken a knock. Was I too old ? (I'm 49!), did I have too little experience with that age group? Well I had nothing to lose and I really would like the job so....

......now I have a new job for September!! 37 hours a week, term-time only ( so I can still be around for my 14 year old, whether he likes it or not!) and a new challenge that I'm really up for :)
Best of all it means that my husband won't have to go through the humiliation of applying for benefits again when his job finishes at the end of September. (Oh the posts I could write about the UK benefit system!)

Saturday, 8 June 2013

The House-proud Sloven: My attempts to be more of the former and less of the latter!

As you will probably have gathered from the title I am not the worlds best housewife!  I would love to have a beautiful home but I find cleaning the most thankless task in the world. We have a saying, "It's like painting the Forth Rail Bridge", it takes so long to get to the end you have to go straight back to the beginning and start again! 

With 5 of us living in a small semi - not to mention the biggest Labrador in the world - I regularly find myself fighting a losing battle. Don't get me wrong, I DO clean, but I would rather be crafting/cooking/reading/blogging or a million other things!! Malcolm helps out, of course (and the kids - I leave their rooms to them) but neither of us is particularly D.I.Y. inclined and money is always thin on the ground!

The upshot of all this is that after 11 years of family life the old homestead is looking more than a little sorry for itself. 

Sooo........I'm going to take action!
I am going to give our tiny castle some overdue T.L.C.
Keep tuning in to see how I get on, I would love to here your tips and strategies too :)

Friday, 7 June 2013

Free F&F clothing with Tesco Clubcard!


Let me start by assuring you that this post is not sponsored in any way by Tesco Clubcard, I   just happen to be a Clubcard member as it is one of my local stores ( I have a loyalty card for the other one too, to be fair.)
I am posting this info for any other card holders out there so that you don't miss out on a good deal.
The other week I received my Clubcard vouchers to the value of £7.50
Great, I thought, some money off my next shop. I'll just check online to see if there's anything else I can exchange them for. 
To my surprise I had £26.50 in unclaimed vouchers!
Better still, under the Summer Voucher Exchange, I could swap each £5 of vouchers for £10 of tokens to spend in various departments in store or online. 
All in all, I had £50 to spend!!
But the savings didn't end there. I took a look at their clothing from F&F and found that if I spent £50 or more the p&p was free. A savvy half hour later and I had ordered a pair of loose chambray trousers, some jeggings, a summery top and a pair of white, skinny jeans (I know, I know - with a Labrador in the house - lol!) all for £50 exactly.
So there you go - free clothes!!
Delivery was quick and everything fitted (surprise indeed) as is of a good quality - result :)
If you have a Tesco Clubcard be sure to check out your unclaimed vouchers and the Summer Exchange. You have until 2nd July to exchange your vouchers and until 11th July to use your tokens.
DON'T MISS OUT!!