Sunday, 15 October 2017

Shoe tidy tray

Our conservatory/back porch suffers from our constant in and out from the garden. Shoes and boots are slid off and abandoned, with mud or dust tracking everywhere. I have tried cardboard, newspaper, plastic bags but they get kick or blown away. So when we arrived in Scotland and saw this at our holiday cottage - WOW!
A simple very large plant watering tray! ~Why did I not think of that before?

Less than £10 in garden centres - or worth scrubbing the one currently hosting 3 dead cucumbers in the greenhouse!

Super holiday cottage by the way - a wood chalet that is highly insulated and is very warm and cosy even in poor weather in mountains of Skye!  Great for our anniversary trip (thanks for the good wishes from other bloggers)

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Autumn colour

I have really enjoyed the last few weeks of colour in the garden.  Lilac is our theme at present.
Autumn crocus. These keep popping up in odd corners and our neighbour keeps giving us more bulbs as well.

Perennial asters in a ball of colour!  I made this plant by gathering seeds from one we paid £4.99 for 18 months ago.  It is just as good as its "mother" plant.

Annual asters. I brought these for 25p a packet in Wilco and did not get to sew them till late - but they have been great value in the borders and as cut flowers.
This colour is especially significant to me as it was the colour of my bridesmaid dresses and bouquets in October 1971.  It is our 46 th wedding anniversary.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Demin bag

I was in our local Co-op the other day and the woman in front of me was packing her shopping into a tote bag made of denim and leather. "I want one of those.  Its a great colour for autumn/winter and sturdy for rainy days - not like my summer ones made of old skirts and shirts." I am not usually jealous of others' fashion but this just struck my fancy.

As I cycled home with the emergency milk purchase (too many late night hot chocolates and a rice pudding had upset my shopping routine) I ponder on a pair of jeans I had tried to unsuccessfully alter the fit of some time ago and were still unworn in the drawer. They were old fashioned thick material ones with double seams (currently I prefer the lighter ones with a bit of lycra from a cheap store Mat**lan). 

I fished the jeans out and a sharp pair of scissors - after much hacking I had two rectangles and three strips for the sides/bottom plus two wide bands for handles. 
I put a new size 14 sewing machine needle in before starting this project and threw it away straight after. The thick material and going over the double seams blunted it completely.
As you can see I added a gingham lining to the bag and handles.  I made the handles quite wide as my last bags were narrow and painful if overloaded.  I also inserted some cardboard (cereal packet) to make the sides stand up!

Great make - it holds 8 paperback library books.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Shopping just in time

I was amused by Life After Money's blog and U tube video the other day about not shopping until unless you really you need to.  Look at our fridge 6 hours before the on-line supermarket delivers the fortnightly regular shopping.  I really need our shopping!

Half the jars in the door are jam stored there for the winter. What did we have for lunch? No eggs, no meat, no ...anything really.  Last two slices of bread, with a mix of last bits of cheeses grated and toasted with sliced tomatoes from the garden. Last two pears from the garden (finally ripened) and last two squares of home made carrot cake with a cup of tea using the last inch of milk.   Least it was easy to clean the fridge!

The fortnightly £42 shop (including £1 delivery charge and  £7 spent of stocking up loo rolls while they were on offer) but with plenty of basics - milk, marg, butter, eggs, cheese, for the fridge plus flour etc for the store cupboard means cooking fresh from scratch can continue.  We spent £26 in the butchers and £13 in the fish market in the next village, which will last over the next fortnight.   So about £40 per week for the two of us at the moment.  I keep about £10 in the house for the odd purchase in our limited village shops if needed.

Before I book the next basics order I will look carefully at the seasonal changes - its time to think about stews with dumplings and milk puddings. 

Monday, 9 October 2017

Autumn King carrots

An old fashioned variety but it has given as some very good late crops.  Two rows still doing well in the veg garden at the moment.

Nice long straight carrots!

So its been carrot soup, carrot cake, steamed carrots with every evening meal, grated carrots with salad.etc etc.

These will last till Xmas.  I recommend this variety.

Meanwhile I will sow some faster growing varieties in the poly tunnel for early spring.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Own brands and quality

I depend a lot on supermarket own brands to keep the cost of food/household goods down.  Some branded things I can't give up simply based on taste - cornflakes, tea bags, custard powder.  But other things if the product OK; its OK. I'm not fussy.  But this own brand kitchen foil has changed and is now a joke item. The one on the right.  It sticks to meat, tears easily and is thinner than foil round mints!  I brought the one on the left in Wilko for 80p and is 4 times thicker.

So disgusted went on supermarket on line shopping and gave it a very poor review. I found 20 other poor reviews made recently.  I do hope they take notice and re-instate their previous standards.

Talking of standards did you see that ITV report on a chicken packing factory last week?  Yuk Yuk Yuk.  I'm sticking to getting local meat from our local butcher - more expensive but we eat a little bit less and enjoy the really good meat supplied.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Blouse project

I have been going through the blouses I made for summer wear.  Most worked well but there were one or two aspects I could improve for next year's batch.

Square neckline pull over top - With a couple of extra inches on length so they did not ride up when gardening they fitted well. But the shoulders kept falling off. Or as my husband says I looked like I had one of Carole K's (Gardeners World) cardigan's!

Button through top - great fit except the neckline may plunge a little too much for gardening.

Yoke top - higher neckline, cap sleeves keep the top of the arms safely covered.  But if you need to put on a cardigan the yoke puffs out the front uncomfortably.  Also too short in the body.

I am adapting this classic pattern into a blouse. I like the rise around the back of the neck, and that makes it a nice warm autumn blouse.  I am smoothing out the pointy bit.  I have had 3 goes making the pattern with spare material so far (too short, too tight round the bust, more swing needed in the back) - working up to this lovely bright fabric I treated myself to!  The prototypes will go into the gardening blouse draw and will get some wear next year.

I saw on Bobo Run's blog that she had found a pattern for bibbed overall's - now that is a pattern I would like to try for gardening!

Friday, 29 September 2017

Saving some money on the mobile?

I have long criticized my husband's choice of mobile phone provider and contracts mostly as we never  use the minutes or texts all up and we NEVER use the data allowance for a mobile device.  If we are out we are out to see the scenery, enjoy being with other people and explore for ourselves - not use Google or constantly check the virtual world.   So finally after yet another change in contract charges and another bill error they can't explain or put right, he has given up with contracts and listened to me and our eldest's advice.

Image result for mobile phones

We have a cheap phone (very old fashioned) and now a £10 PAYG sim card deal.  One from a supermarket where you get club card points  and access to a real person standing in the local store that can sort problems there and then (like unlocking).  I have a bet we will not use £10 in a month so it will be cheaper than the provider's last ditch offer  to keep us on their list. I shall win this bet - its been 6 days and we have not made a call or a text yet.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Opps in the decorating

We are very experienced in home decorating yet we managed to trip ourselves up today.  We were revamping the existing varnished shelves by adding some new wood and re jigging the old shelves around - so we had to prime all the surfaces. We grabbed some primer at the store the other day without really looking and it turned out to be oil based paint.  It was terribly smelly but did the job: then we used some oil based undercoat from our shed which was equally smelly but did give a good finish.

That over, next day we planned to use some water based gloss paint to finish it all off. But it did not take and the paint went a bit weird.  If I was making a cake it would be that point when the mix "curdles" and "separates". Apparently you have to wait a week to let the "solvents" mature and dissipate in the oil based paints.  That has never happened to us before.

Ah well. lesson learnt.

New plan to move the room forward and return the "stuff" so that the second bedroom can be cleaned up and we can get at the wardrobe for a change of clothes!

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Ripening pears

Despite our early spring fears about our tree fruit the Bramleys and pears have produced some fruit. We were unsure how to tell when pears were ripened. Apparently you pick them when a gentle pull detaches them from the tree and put them in with bananas -  this worked well for the comice pears.  But these conference pears have been in the bowl for a good week.
 Fresher bananas on today's shopping list. 
Any ideas? Or just cook with them to soften?

Tuesday, 26 September 2017


Image result for exhausted decorator

The decorating of the third bedroom is proving to be a chore. My husband decided painting over the embossed paper would not do and we took it all off.  Revealed cracks; so lots of poly-filler needed.  Painting the wooden shelves white has involved smelly primer and  undercoat in vast quantities.

The house is a mess, stuff everywhere, evening meals have been a strange, dis-organised mixture.

I am exhausted and my husband's arthritis is throbbing.  Be glad to finish this project.

Been lovely weather which the local army airborne division are taking advantage of - we have been buzzed by pairs of army helicopters for the last two days.  What is that all about?

Saving my winter waterproof coat

We are planning an autumn trip to Scotland which prompted me to suggest to the better half that I might need a new coat.  I brought current one in a sale in GO about 5 years ago for £20; it was cheap mostly because its bright red and partly it was mislabeled size 20.  Its actually barely a size 16. The red is only a disadvantage when hiking if you need to pop behind a bush!

My only worry is the coat is grubby on the sleeves and I am not sure its totally waterproof on the seams.  We stopped in a a well known outdoor store the other day to do a recce and I found a good quality one. Then hurriedly let go, and told my husband to step well back - "don't touch" I hissed looking round for any shop assistants.  "Why?"  "Its £199.95!!"  "Well, your not having that one.  This one is £80 but I think you old one is better quality." he replied.  "I'm just not sure its as waterproof as it was" I was explaining when a nearby customer suggested re-proofing like her friend did. She was called over the friend and gave us some hints about doing it.

We brought some half price waterproofing on the way out. Next sunny period in the weather I will have a go.  It was £7.  So could be a lot cheaper that a new coat.

Has anyone tried to do this?

Wednesday, 20 September 2017


My husband seems to have adopted a baby hare.  Or it has adopted him!

It pops out of the raspberry bed, or the beetroot row or from behind a fence post just a few feet in front of his ride on mower.  After several  near misses/near heart attacks he has taken to walking around making a noise before starting out to mow the field areas.

Not too much damage being done. He chased it out of the poly tunnel one afternoon where it was hiding in the strawberries and snacking on lettuce. He has recorded  midnight snacking on the pea row on his wildlife camera - no wonder our pea crop has been hopeless.  When husband has got it to move it bolts for our neighbours cabbage patch.

To remind him to check the field first I have painted him a hare picture for the conservatory.

Grandson thinks its hilarious. His favourite videos and books are about Peter Rabbit sneaking around Mr McGregor's garden.

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