Sorry I've been absent from my blog this week. When I get 5 minutes to myself I will update you on all our Christmassy goings on. We have been really busy having fun...photos have been taken ready to share with you.
Hopefully I can catch up over the weekend for a fresh start on Monday. Tree decorating today.
Well yesterday's post didn't publish last night as I thought it had, so that didn't go up until this morning. Today's challenge was a bit of bad planning because being Sunday, everyone was about and we had some secret gift making to do! I decided to roll that activity over to tomorrow when the family are back at work and we can craft without hiding away! So tomorrow will see two lots of advent activities to catch up and instead I made today a family day.
We had breakfast together then Daisy had a long play in the bath (evening baths always feel so rushed as we keep to our routine to get everything done) then she helped me with the housework (she loves using her little Hoover).
Daisy loves helping me get the dinner ready and requested jelly for tea (so we made that too), then ate our roast and off for a Sunday afternoon walk with the dogs.
Tea, strictly then it was Daisy's bedtime.
Early to bed because we've got a lot to pack into tomorrow.
I will give you the recipe if anyone requests it but I think I may have already put it on my blog before???
Gingerbread is so easy to make, but not so easy to bake!
You really have to keep an eye on it! I turned my back and this is what happened :(
The rest was fine, but I'm still getting used to baking in my oven.
Daisy loves baking and that's the objective...for her to enjoy Christmas activities. Daisy had fun!
I then went on to make tiffin...
This is so good and you don't need much! A little extravagant with cadburys chocolate on top, but I rarely make it, so it was a little weekend treat. Obviously I made a dairy free version too. Recipe on request!
We used a Christmas card kit that I bought from the Carboot sale for 50p (I think) and this kept Daisy entertained for well over an hour.
We didn't use all the bits, so we have leftovers to use in other Christmas crafts. Daisy designed them all herself and chose who was getting which card before she started to make each one. She will do her writing in them tomorrow as we were giving the large amounts of glue stick chance to dry!
This cost me very little and Daisy got so much out of it. She loved the independence she had and loved making choices unguided by me. They are all very different and I really think this captured Daisy's creative side. I will definitely provide her with more opportunities to do this type of activity again in the future...thank you cards after Christmas??
The planning that I put into these advent activities has really paid off. Having a focus and knowing what we are doing each day has benefitted us both (I know what I'm doing and Daisy is now looking forward to the next envelope opening.) Tomorrow's a good one (but Daisy doesn't know it yet!)
Today Daisy is wearing her first ever Christmas jumper (50p from the Carboot) and looking very festive.
We have had loads of fun this morning with today's activity...
Make glittery Playdough
The recipe is really quick and easy
1 cup plain flour
1/4 cup salt
1tbsp cream of tartar
1tbsp veg oil
3/4 cup boiling water
Few drops glycerine
Few drops green food colouring
Several shakes and sprinkles of assorted coloured glitter
You basically mix these ingredients together (obviously I did the water bit and we had to leave it to stand for a while until we could handle the dough) and form a dough. If it's too sticky...add a little more flour, too dry...a tiny bit more water. A gentle knead and you're ready to play!
We used various Christmas cutters and lolly sticks. Daisy made stars.
Sorry I can't show any other photos I took because Daisy is in them.
Playdough is so easy to make...we won't be buying another pot of it now!!
We slightly adapted a Mary Berry recipe to suit our family (I actually hate dried fruit so miss out a lot of Christmas foods) and baked five cakes in total. Daisy isn't scared of my mixer now so we didn't hand mix for the first time in two years!
I soaked the fruit last night in tea (no alcohol so Daisy can eat it) and baked them today.
Sorry for the rubbish photo, but I was baking with a toddler and have to take photos quickly! I will add a picture of the cakes all baked tomorrow now as I'm writing this in bed! The cakes took nearly four hours to bake, then I put them in tins. I will wrap them properly tomorrow after photographing.
I love baking with Daisy and have plans to do a whole lot more with her this month.
I'll be back tomorrow with day 3 of our advent activities...we are having so much fun already!
Thanks to those of you who responded to my question yesterday xx
As promised, I will be blogging throughout December. I love Christmas and ever since I was a little girl I have enjoyed the whole build up from the 1st to the 24th. I hope I can achieve this for Daisy too. We began our advent today with dairy free chocolate, but also with something a little more exciting...
Daisy has 24 envelopes to open. Each one contains a card with at least one Christmas activity for us to enjoy that day. Today's card was...
Write a letter to Father Christmas and post it.
We did just that! The Royal Mail do a service where you get a letter back if you send it to a particular address. So now we have to wait and see! This will be a lovely little keepsake.
I will be sharing with you what we are doing each day of our advent. Tomorrow is a baking activity (but Daisy doesn't know that yet!)
I hope you will join me :)
A lot of my posts this month will be child related so out of curiosity, do any of my readers have younger children? A simple comment below would be very useful to me so I make sure I get the balance right. There will be baking and making etc but also children's crafts which may not be relevant to you. I really don't want to lose any followers because of the children's activities. I can throw in some everyday extras if none of you are interested! Let me know what would be useful to your Christmas countdown and I'll see what I can do.
A quick post as I am concentrating hard on decluttering. You would be proud of my ruthlessness!
A quick and easy tea...
2 cups plain flour
Pinch of salt
2 cups milk
Pack of sausages
Little oil or dripping
Chop the sausages up and put in a roasting tin with a little oil. Bake at 200oC while you mix up the batter.
To make the batter...put the flour and salt in a bowl and add the eggs. Mix, adding the milk slowly.
Beat well and pour over the sausages.
Bake for approx 45 mins at 180oC (keep an eye on it) until fluffed up and crispy golden.
We ate it with lots of veg and gravy...no need for potatoes too.
In December I will be talking all things Christmas...homemade decorations, festive food, tasty treats and gift ideas. I love Christmas and hope you'll join me!
January has a lot of changes and I plan to share these with you too...really knuckling down and focusing on what's important. Lots of upcycling, recycling, more sorting, decorating and making everywhere look pretty (on a very small budget).
I will be back before December if I cook something I think you'll like though!!
Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that we are really not getting much for our money in the weekly shop?
I have been thinking of changing supermarkets lately because of so many errors from asda with my online shop. But when I do a price comparison, asda comes up the cheapest! I really don't know what to do.
Asda is the cheapest, but the prices continue to climb. I am not happy with how much we spend and end up removing items from my basket (online) to get my spending under control. It's not always food that's the problem, as we get all our toiletries, household stuff and washing powder etc in with the groceries. It's still too much to spend though and I'm looking at ways of cutting back so I can get some treats for Christmas time. This seems to be a constant battle. After Christmas I will be focusing on this heavily and will be changing the way I shop and cook. Meanwhile, I will be making sure we have a good Christmas without overspending.
My Christmas preparations will begin over the next couple of weeks and I will be blogging my ideas. We (Daisy and I) will be baking, crafting for decorations and gifts.
The declutter/sort out is still underway...some items are ready to be gifted, some bags have already gone to the charity shop and some have been thrown out or recycled. I have lots of recycling/upcycling projects planned and will share these if you're interested?? I also have some bits I will sell eventually.
I have been cooking from scratch and baking but don't always remember to photograph it! Please comment below if you are still interested in seeing my meal plans. I sometimes wonder if those types of blog post can get boring for you? Also, if I'm cooking meals like spag bol (today) and toad in the hole for example, do you want these recipes? I don't want to insult anybody by providing the basics, but we all cook a well known recipe slightly differently.
January onwards will be frugal and I will be compiling a bank of cheap and tasty recipes to cook in the new year. A new year always inspires me to try harder.
No weekend blogging because I was suffering with a nasty headache on Saturday and yesterday was busy. Thank you for all the Halloween comments :)
As promised, the pasta bake recipe is below.
Recently I've been looking at ways to cut my food bill. We love food and we like to eat well...sometimes too many treats for me! However, things need to change a bit. I'm definitely not going on a diet (I will cheat after day three!) but I do intend to make some small changes to benefit us all. I have got very lazy lately, but baking the other day made me realise that I can fit this into my daily routine more often. As a result, I bought much less rubbish and treats and will attempt to make what we have been enjoying lately. I managed to reduce our shopping bill even though I bought baking supplies, so it just goes to show!
Today I am going through my kitchen cupboards, fridge and freezers to see what we've got. I haven't meal planned for this week yet because I know we have plenty and I will 'shop' from my own stores! I bought lots of veg and hope to use the slow cooker as much as possible. Tonight we are having our roast (pork) and the rest of the week is undecided as yet!
Something else I am trying is cooking once but eating twice. Sadly our microwave has died on us, but I can still do this. I cooked double the amount of mince we needed and made it into a tomato ragu style meat sauce (just mince, onion, herbs, Worcester sauce and passata.) the first day half was used for my pasta bake and the other half was stored in the fridge and turned into chilli the following day. It only took a few minutes to prepare and we didn't mind eating mince two days running. So here is my pasta bake recipe...
You will need:
Mince (I used beef)
Onion (finely chopped)
A sprinkle of herbs
A dash of Worcester sauce
A carton of passata
Pasta (anything you've got)
A white roux sauce (butter, flour, milk)
I haven't given exact amounts because it is a throw in type of recipe that I made for my family. Just use the usual amounts of mince and pasta you need to feed your family (or do double for the following day like I did)
1). Brown the mince with the onion. Add the herbs and Worcester.
2). Simmer the mince with the passata while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
3). Put the pasta on to boil and cook until ready.
4). Make the white sauce by melting a little butter, stir in a tbsp of plain flour, then add the milk slowly until the sauce has thickened and is pourable. (I'm sure I don't need to tell you how to make a white sauce)!
5). Stir the drained pasta into the white sauce and pile into an oven dish.
6). Top with the meat sauce and sprinkle with grated cheese.
7). Cover with foil and bake @180oC for 15mins. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 mins.
8). Serve with salad and garlic bread or veg.
You could cheat by buying the white and tomato sauces if you like.
I know I promised my recipe for pasta bake next, but I'm feeling a bit deflated today. That will be my next post now!
This morning we were up early and baking for Halloween. I don't have any sweets in the house and know I have to have something for the trick or treaters. The icing turned out horrible because the orange food colouring I used contains paprika...the cakes taste of paprika! The trick or treaters are in for a shock!
I just don't get Halloween! People go silly for it, buying costumes, face paints, decorations, treats and pumpkins. Daisy is only 2 and is actually frightened by anyone wearing a costume on tv (even a bumble bee!) we are not joining in. We haven't done a pumpkin this year either. You may think I'm a bit miserable! I'm looking forward to November and planning a lovely Christmas instead.
Also, what is going on with the weather??? It's so warm here today. Brilliant for getting the washing dry! It's November tomorrow but it's so mild still.
I'll leave you with a little more baking from this morning...
Mary Berry all-in-one Victoria sponge...comment if you would like the recipe...cheap and easy!
Hopefully back tomorrow with a blog post about cooking once and eating twice. Pork chops and roasted veg for tea and hopefully not too many knocks at the door!
I've been away from my blog during October for a number of reasons, but I'm back now! So here's a little update for you.
We've been on holiday to Lancashire...
This was the view from our cottage (look at the blanket of fog!)
The cottage was built in the 16th century and had some quaint little features. The area was quiet and peaceful and we had the most gorgeous weather for October.
One day we went to Morecambe Bay and it was so windy! Sadly this is all that was left of the Eric Morecambe statue.
This viaduct is massive! Sadly no steam train but we did see a modern train go over.
There were beautiful views as we travelled across the Yorkshire dales...
Quaint vintage shops...
And fish 'n' chips!!
When we got back I got ill with a cold and there was heaps of holiday laundry to catch up with.
On Saturday we decided to sell at our favourite Carboot sale...
I sold loads of stuff...cleared some clutter...made some pennies for Christmas! We won't be doing another one though, so I have bagged up a lot of things to go to the charity shop. I will also donate items to a lovely lady who knits for Daisy as she runs a church pre-school group and will use toys and books that Daisy has grown out of. The clutter pile has reduced hugely and I will continue with this until it's completely gone. I need to make room for Christmas!
Yesterday I made a lovely tea...similar to lasagne but much quicker and easier...
I've got loads of plans to make, lists to write and things to get on with and I'll be back soon with some more cooking, baking and homemade goodies.
1. Finely chop 1onion, 1 red, yellow and green pepper and 2 rashers of bacon.
2. Fry gently in a little olive oil until softened and light brown. (Meanwhile, cook a couple of sachets of boil-in-the-bag rice.)
3. Add a handful of frozen peas and Sweetcorn, a pinch of herbs and a dash of Worcester sauce and stir in 1/2pt chicken stock (I use a chicken oxo). Stir and add the cooked rice. Simmer for a few minutes until the rice has absorbed the liquid.
4. Serve! We eat this on it's own...it's very filling.
Feel free to share any quick recipes you have.
Thank you for your comments, it's great for us to share ideas!
September was an expensive month for us and sadly not enough thriftiness going on. There were also a couple of distressful events and this impacted on my blogging. I'm not going into great detail because my blog is public...I was very upset but it's sorted now.
Today my slow cooker is on, even though it's warm and sunny here again. It's a simple beef casserole, but I thought I'd share my little cheat (shortcut) when I'm short of time...
This is simply diced beef (I don't even brown it anymore), a pinch of smart price mixed herbs, a couple of dashes of Worcester sauce and a packet of this...
Casserole veg, chopped and washed ready to simply chuck in! It costs £1, but I think it's worth it. I didn't add any other veg because there is a mixture of onion, leek, carrots, swede and potatoes.
I then make up a large jug of gravy and stir. I cook it on high for an hour then turn it down to medium for the rest of the day. An hour before we want to eat, I will make some suet dumplings and pop them on the top.
Perfect, easy and delicious!
I like to cook from scratch, but some days I want to do other things and so the odd shortcut is fine!
Let's face it, it takes very little time or effort to take something out of the freezer and bung it in the oven for 20mins...easy peasy, dinner is served! I am at home and I do have more time, so there's no excuse! I prepare my veg in the morning and try to get everything else ready so I can forget about it until later. I hate having to rush about later on. Today I felt like cheating :)
Does anyone else have any shortcuts to share?
I don't know if you enjoy seeing my Carboot finds, but here's some more!
I love reading and don't do it enough. I have been inspired by the amount of wartime books on offer lately at the car boot. I managed to pick all these up for £1.60.
These bits for Daisy cost £1.50 (for her Christmas stocking).
At 20p each, I was really happy, especially as one is a next winter coat! The seller even threw in a pretty dress for free as she'd seen me looking at it and put it back!
Something is only worth what you are prepared to pay for it, and I paid £1 for this dress. It's lovely and just what I was looking for. The Christmas card making kit was 20p! Brand new and although a bit tacky, it will keep Daisy amused in December. I can't grumble at spending 20p for a few hours entertainment. Daisy can personalise them as she chooses and send out her own cards at Christmas.
My final purchase was this rocker/see-saw. It's little tikes and it's pink! This was £3, but I know they are quite costly brand new. Daisy will play outside whatever the weather and loves it already. We've been looking out for garden toys like this for ages.
I'm sensible carbooting and don't buy impulsively any more. We are hoping to do some selling very soon...wish me luck! I hope to clear loads of the clutter that's stacked up and make some pennies to go towards Christmas. That's it for now.
This week I have lots to do and big plans! I have made a list of everything I want to get done (it's long!) this means that meals are a bit more simple than usual. I have been enjoying trying out new recipes and rediscovering old favourites, but there will be a few cheats this week to free up my time a bit.
We were given a beautiful joint of beef on Saturday, so that was our Sunday roast (kindly cooked by my lovely hubby) with all the trimmings.
Yesterday we had a chicken breast joint (the sort you get in a foil tray...a poor substitution by asda), jacket potatoes and salad.
Sorry if these photos are getting boring, but I've started squirreling bits away for Christmas now. This is what I picked up...
Two Asos jumpers...I'm so short of clothes and I rarely find my size at the carboot. One was a treat from Charlotte :)
I love the colour of the scarf (50p) and the DVD is an old '80s favourite of mine. The card was only 10p and the Christmas DVD was a waste of money sadly...
When we buy DVDs, we always check that the DVD is actually in the case. This has two discs...both of them are disc 2!! So the film isn't actually in there :(
...a lesson learnt.
The two pink sheets will be made into cotbed sheets for Daisy's bed, they were 50p each and I wish I'd bought more. The seller also had the candy stripe ones, all in really good condition.
The daisy card will be framed for Daisy's bedroom (10p).
The peppa pig stickers and sticker book were 10p each.
The tweenies puzzle was 20p.
Here are two footless babygros (£1), a raincoat, denim and poppy shorts to be worn with tights for autumn (£1), skirt (20p), leggings and pumpkin patch top (50p) and a pair of peppa pig sunglasses (free...just because Daisy is so cute and the lady wanted them to go to a good home!)
Sorry...the light coming in through the patio doors has made this photo a bit blurry. I will list what's here for Daisy...
Dressing up dress 20p
3 x peppa pig DVD boxset £2.50
In the night garden watering can. 20p
Macca pacca. 20p
Waybuloo toy 50p
Cuddly rabbit. 50p
Iggle piggle. 20p
Upsy Daisy. 50p
Charlie and Lola hot water bottle. 20p
Nemo book. 10p
Peppa pig socks (new) £1
Spotty shoes 50p
Finally, some mega blocks.
Everything will be washed now and either used, or put away for Christmas. I already know what I need to buy, but these little cheapy extras I pick up as stocking fillers. We all have stockings in my house...such a lovely cheap way to exchange gifts. They can be second hand like from the boot sale, handmade, or from the pound shop etc, nothing costs much, just a few presents to put a smile on someone's face! I especially love to have a theme to the stockings (eg: a baking one) and I will be sharing these ideas with you when my Christmas preparations are fully underway.
In other shopping news...
I am now having my shopping delivered on a Saturday. This means we can have a Sunday roasting joint ready and fresh to use the following day. It also helps us to have Sunday as a family day, doing what we want and not having to be at home waiting for the delivery.
I love Saturday morning carbooting (buying not selling!)
Just lately we haven't been going as much, because I have not been comfortable sitting in the car (with my poorly back), plus the rain had made it pointless going! The last couple of Saturdays we have been really lucky in finding bargains though...
This wooden shop has provided us with hours of good quality play. It cost me £7.50, but came with lots of extras and has been worth every penny...these are not cheap bought brand new.
A bunch of books, puzzle and a DVD...Daisy loves anything jungle or farm animals.
I've even started to collect a few bits for Christmas! The highland cow was free from the lady I bought the shop from.
I love picking up books for 10 or 20p. I will spend 50p per book usually. I always look out for books set in the 1940s and '50s. I was definitely born in the wrong era!
I've been looking out for Witney blankets for ages now and finally found one! It cost me £1 and is in excellent condition. If fits a double bed, so will be very welcome on our bed during the colder months.
On another trip I picked up...
Peppa pig magnets for 20p, carefully placed on the fridge freezer by Daisy.
Still on the peppa pig theme...a little carry box/tray for Daisy's gardening tools and a little cup. A second pair of wellies for the mucky weather. We walk the dogs a lot and it can get quite messy! These have drawstring tops to keep the wet and mud, or snow out. A gift from auntie Charlotte xx
Daisy loves anything Peter rabbit and my books were 20p each!
Another 20p book and some cuddlies for Daisy... Tv characters for a fraction of the price bought new.
Two Christmas dresses and a jumper for Daisy. Children's Christmas clothes are not worn for long and they've grown out of them the following year, so I was pleased to find these.
Clothes to grow into except the raincoat that fits Daisy now...a bargain at 50p!
Finally, a top and cardy for me. I rarely find my size when carbooting.
I spend very little money to get things that I wouldn't buy brand new.
Does anyone else go carbooting on a regular basis?
What bargains have you picked up? Charlotte found an armchair (very modern and in excellent condition) for £5!! It only just fit in her car but well worth the struggle.