Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Today has been a good day!


We are facing more difficult times ahead (when will our luck change?), but staying as positive as we can.

Today I noticed that Shirlie Kemp had replied to a comment I left on her blog. She has actually looked at my blog!!! I absolutely loved Wham and Pepsi & Shirlie in the '80s, So I can't believe that Shirlie would have the time or interest in my little blog. That was a boost that I badly needed - thank you Shirlie x

Please take a look at Shirlie's blog. She creates beautiful images with her clever styling and photography.


Well I wonder what tomorrow will bring???!!!

Mandy x

Monday, 30 January 2012

Sewing again...


Today I've been busy doing housework and sewing. I had a seat pad for my rocking chair, but the fabric was quite dated. Well today it is covered in a lovely gingham check fabric:

Who knows what tomorrow brings???

Mandy xxx

Sunday, 29 January 2012

I'll try again, baking day photos...


I hope I have better luck with the photos today!

A victoria sponge

Cornish pasties - this is the first time I have made these.

Melting moments dipped in chocolate.

Melting moments filled with butter icing.

Vanilla cupcakes - decorated by my lovely girls.

Plain scones and fruit scones.

Sausage rolls - a Paul Hollywood recipe (the one with caramelised onions)

Afternoon tea

I love to see the table spread with goodies and now the leftovers are in tins ready for pack-ups this week.

Mandy x

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Baking Day


Today I have been busy baking...

Sadly, my photos are not loading today, so it will have to keep until tomorrow now :-(

Until then ...

Mandy x

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Corned Beef Patties and Flo in the Snow!


Today I made a really simple but tasty tea - corned beef patties and salad.

I mixed mash potato, chopped onion, corned beef, worcester sauce and parsley together. I dipped each handful in flour and shaped into patties. These were fried until crispy on both sides.

I served them with salad and sliced beetroot. They were really filling.

Pudding was ice-cream, broken meringue nest and chocolate sauce or chocolate curls.
I am trying really hard to use up as much as possible rather than throw food away. This pudding was a use-up kind of pudding.

This evening, Flo had her first experience of snow!!! She loved it, she ran around with Jake and didn't want to come back inside.

Tomorrow, I plan to do some baking ...

Mandy x

Tuesday, 24 January 2012



I have been busy taking photos with my new camera.

Flo and Jake relaxing

Flo loves having her photo taken!

Charlotte made me a gorgeous chocolate cake

Flo likes to see what's going on...

Charlotte busy making my cake

Back to Flo again - she's so lovely!

Jake's having a little snooze

So good to have Alice at home for my birthday :-)

Another year older

More photos to come ...

Mandy x

Monday, 23 January 2012

It's my birthday!!!


Today is my birthday and I'm 41.

I've had a lovely day (and weekend) but I'm off to bed now, so tomorrow I will post some photos (I got a camera from my lovely husband).

Until then ...

Mandy x

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

I've been sewing!

I've just completed my first piece of sewing! I've made a sausage dog draught excluder. Sorry no photo yet because my old digital camera has given up on me now. I've got my fingers crossed for a new one for my birthday (on Monday) X

Alice came to see me this morning - she went to the doctor and her chest is still bad.

After I'd done a bit of sewing, I decided to bake a cake (again sorry no photo), a chocolate cake :-)

For tea, I made a beer batter and fried some fish. It was lovely.

Tomorrow I think I might sew some more - another sausage dog for another door.

See you tomorrow

Mandy x

Monday, 16 January 2012

My first attempt at sewing

Hi everyone,

Today I actually mended my son's work jeans! He said it didn't matter what they looked like, he just needed the tears in the knees sewn up. I had a go and I did it!!! Ok, it wasn't beautifully neat, but the holes have gone. Now I'm in the mood for more sewing. If it works, that's brilliant, if it doesn't, then I can always unpick it and try again.

Last week we decided to give Aldi a go and we were pleasantly surprised. We really went for the 'super six' (we bought - celery, sprouts, tomatoes and savoy cabbage), but we ended up buying a few other bits too.

This morning I filled a flask with spare boiled water from the kettle. This is a tip I picked up from Frugal Queen. I read lots of blogs, looking for new frugal ideas. I really need to keep on cutting back. I also read what the 'oldstylers' have to say on moneysavingexpert.com. I have been getting ideas off here for some time now, the posters on there are fantastic at money saving and really inspirational.

I have continued to cook from scratch since my last post. Tonight we had roast duck, roasties, stuffing balls, savoy cabbage, sprouts, carrots and homemade gravy for tea. I have changed to Monday's for a roast, because this is when Alice comes to eat with us. She has had bronchitus and has not been looked after very well by the familly she has chosen to live with. I have persuaded her to have tea with us, stay the night, and then she sees her Social Worker/Counsellor the following morning. Tonight is the first, so hopefully it will continue. At least I can check she is ok and get some veg down her. Alice recently had a bowel infection which landed her in hospital in severe pain. This pain has returned tonight. Poor diet and hygiene was the cause of this before. She is fed rubbish and their shower is broken, hence the pain is back. This is the sort of family that would spend their last fiver on fags, rather than food or electric. This is the family Alice now lives with - she's 16, this is why my headaches are so bad. On the positive side, she has had a roast dinner, tablets for her pain, a warm house and a clean fresh bed to get into. It's a shame that it's only one night a week.

Mandy x

Monday, 9 January 2012

Batch cooking and pastry making


Yesterday I cooked a beef casserole in my slow cooker (instead of a roast), making enough for two meals. Yesterday we had it with dumplings and today I made it into a pie. I'm trying to save on our electric bill (already cut down on gas) as it is always massive.

I didn't make any New Year resolutions because I always fail by the end of January, but I have decided to try to get better at some things and to try out new things. Pastry is something that I am not particularly good at, but I think it is improving already! I also intend to practice making bread and biscuits. I am a cake baker, but struggle with biscuits and pastry. I use my breadmaker, but I want to make it by hand now that I have the time.

The new things I want to try is sewing and crochet. Today I began my sausage dog draught excluders. I will post a photo when they're finished.

I got two loads of washing dry on the line today, can't believe how mild it still is.

Tomorrow I'm going to sort out all of my craft stuff so I know what fabric etc I've got to play with.

Mandy x

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Freebies at the dentists!!!


This morning we went to the dentist. This is a big deal to me because it really scares me. I worry about for ages before I go and this was only a check up! Thankfully I have no further problems, but I still have treatment hanging over me. I need to have a root canal treatment and then a crown on one tooth, but as it will cost me over £1000 and I don't work at the moment, it may have to wait a while. I have the money saved for the root canal (£520), vut not the crown yet. My teeth cause me a lot of problems. I have extra nerves in my bottom jaw which means I am never completely numbed for a procedure. The dentist has reassured me today that she will use different methods to make sure I am numb so I don't need to worry.

Another problem is that I have very thin enamel and this is because I suffered with hyperemesis gravidarum (severe morning sickness) with Alice throughout my pregnancy. The acid eroded my enamel and this means I am prone to fillings.

My wisdom teeth are impacted and some not even through yet, but causing me trouble. I have to have the top wisdom teeth out at the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford because they have cavities because I can't get to them to clean them properly. The dentist can't get to them to fill them so they have to go. This will be done under local anaesthetic so I am petrified to face this. The surgeon said that my nerve runs so close to my bottom wisdom tooth that he will not remove it. If he touches that nerve, he will paralyse my face, so he won't take the risk. 

Another problem is that I suffer from bruxism (tooth grinding/clenching) which led to TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder). This can be really painful. I have to wear a mouth guard at night to protect my teeth and relax the muscles in my jaw. This has been caused by my stressful life and traumatic experiences.

My teeth have caused me a lot of anxiety over the past few years and cost me a huge amount of money, but I need to preserve them cos I won't get any more! So I was really pleased to get a couple of freebies today... toothpaste samples!!! There were two boxes of different samples and Alice picked up one of each. We discovered later that Charlotte had also picked some up too. They are travel size, but they were free! They will do for the kid's bathroom because I have to have special toothpaste because of my thin enamel.

I have been a bit happier today because Alice was with me, but now she has gone back to her boyfriend's house. Tomorrow is another day.

Much to the horror of my family, we had ham salad and new potatoes for tea. They were annoyed because it's winter. I was bored of meat, spuds, veg and gravy dinners and fancied a change. When I'm down, I really lack motivation to do anything and that was what I was like yesterday.

After the dentist, we had a look round a couple of charity shops. Why are they so expensive now??? Every jumper I picked up was at least £7.99. I can buy them for less in Asda. I didn't buy anything.

Looking forward to a relaxing Sunday

Mandy x

Thursday, 5 January 2012

The headache from hell

Today has been good and bad.

Yesterday was really distressing in the evening and I developed a headache. It was the sort of headache that is still there when you wake up. This morning it was still there and refused to shift with tablets. It was so bad that I tried to have a sleep this afternoon just to have a break from it. When I woke up it was still there! I really didn't fancy cooking tea because bad headaches make me feel sick too, but i forced myself to make a game pie for Steve. So tea today was:

  • Game pie, boiled potatoes, mixed veg (frozen) and savoy cabbage for Steve
  • Cheese and potato pie for me and Charlotte (my feeling poorly food and Charlotte doesn't like game), and Ashley doesn't work Fridays so I don't need to save him a dinner today.
  • Pudding - while I needed to make pastry for the pie, I decided to make a lemon meringue pie for pudding.
So not much achieved today, but I'm feeling a bit better so hopefully I'll get on really well tomorrow. My headache was brought on by stress (which I suffer with), but at teatime some of my stressing was helped, because Alice came home for a visit!!! I haven't seen her since before Christmas and she stayed for a cup of tea and a piece of my lemon meringue pie. She has promised to come home for tea tomorrow too! I'm sure that's why I feel a bit better now. If only life were simple. So that was the good part of my day. I'm trying to be positive... tomorrow will be better :-)

Thank you for reading and thank you to my new followers - I'm up to 7 now!!!

Until tomorrow...

Mandy x

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Meatballs, doughnuts, flapjack and cake

Today I made meatballs and tomato sauce for tea. While it was cooking, I decided to do some baking. I made:

  • doughnuts (without yeast and for the first time)
  • flapjack
  • iced sponge
  • sponge with jam and coconut topping
These will feed Steve and Ashley in their pack-ups and save me money on chocolate bars etc. All recipes came from a school dinners book (which I love). Sadly no photos because my camera batteries need charging. I'll take some tomorrow, although there will be a few slices missing!

I got another load of washing dry, it just needs airing. It's been really cold today but windy so it does dry.

More tidying and laundry tomorrow ...

Mandy x  

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Sorting the house one step at a time.

Today I have cleared a huge ironing pile. I have always left this chore until there is a mountain and then stood for hours ironing (which is no good for my back). From now on, I will do the ironing as the clothes are dried. One small change to make life easier for me so my house runs more smoothly. I have time now each day, so no excuses!!!

I have got a line of washing dry outside again today. I did need extra pegs though. I have managed to keep my washing up-to-date for quite a few weeks now, so my small changes must be working. I just need to remove bad habits and replace them with organisation.

I have meal planned this afternoon, ready to do an online shop tomorrow - another much needed change in lifestyle. Today I ate the leftover potato bake and jelly with cream for my lunch. I am getting much better at using leftovers, rather than throwing food away. I can't afford to waste a penny!

For tea today, Steve had roast mutton, roasties and veg. Ashley had the roasties and veg, but with sausages and Charlotte and I had sausage, mash and beans. I will have the mash and remaining beans for my lunch tomorrow (I can't seem to cook for four instead of five).

Charlotte very kindly dyed my hair for me this evening. I seem to have many more grey hairs in the past year and they come through much quicker than before. I can't afford for my hairdresser to dye my hair, so Charlotte puts a box dye on for me instead.

Tomorrow is another day and I hope to achieve lots in the house.

Until tomorrow ...

Mandy x

Monday, 2 January 2012

The decorations are down

Well the Christmas decorations are down and packed away for another year. I haven't felt christmassy at all, when I normally love it. I'm actually glad it's over.

Today I have got my washing dry outside. I wouldn't normally dream of hanging out washing in January, but it's been so mild and windy, so it's been drying really well.

Tea today was cold beef and a lovely potato bake:

  • grease an ovenproof dish with butter
  • slice potatoes and an onion
  • layer potato and onion then repeat
  • pour over a pot of single cream (or milk)
  • sprinkle over some parsley and black pepper
  • dot with butter
  • bake for 1 hour @ 200 oC (you may need to cover with foil if the top gets too brown)
We had jelly and squirty cream for pudding.

I've got a really busy day ahead tomorrow. Steve, Ashley and Charlotte are back at work and I've got loads of housework to do.

An early start to look after Flo, so I'm off to sleep now. I always listen to my ipod because I have trouble getting off to sleep and music helps me. I will listen to Scritti Politti first then maybe The Communards or Alison Moyet or Pepsi and Shirlie. I LOVE my 80s music!!!

Night, night ...

Mandy x

Sunday, 1 January 2012

A new year, a new beginning ...

I'm back after three months of hell. Sadly life is still treating us badly, but I am trying to look for the positives and hope to take up my challenge again for the new year.

Since I last posted, Alice has left home (against our wishes) and I left my job. Life became too much to cope with and I was signed off with stress. Something had to give and it had to be my working life, so that I can concentrate on improving our home-life.

Christmas has been sad because Alice refuses to be in contact with us and didn't even wish us a Happy Christmas. She hasn't spoken to us since just before Christmas. She fell out with her sister, but wants nothing to do with the rest of us either. I can feel myself slipping backwards emotionally, so I am trying really hard to control it.

On the positive side - Charlotte got a puppy! She's a bulldog cross and she's gorgeous!!! She's called Flo and she's the one with the black spot on her head. She has 10 brothers and sisters! More photos to come of Flo, she has grown quite a bit since this photo was taken with some of her brothers and sisters.

Now that we are down to a single income, we really have to tighten our belts, starting now. I have been cooking from scratch everyday since finishing work. Today we had roast beef, yorkshire pudding, roasties, parsnips, broccoli, sprouts, carrots, swede and homemade gravy. The beef was bought with voucher savings from Asda. There is still quite a bit left, so we will finish that tomorrow.

I plan to keep decluttering and start to sell stuff on ebay until the carboot starts again in March. It's a slow process, but I am getting there.

What we really need to do is cut back on our electricity consumption (the bill was huge yesterday). We have done well with the gas bill, because we wrap up warm, rather than have the heating on all day.

I hope to get on and keep myself busy so things get sorted and I have less time to worry about Alice and all of our other issues.

I'm going to use this blog to keep me motivated - I need to make changes!

Until tomorrow ...

Mandy x