Friday, 31 October 2014

Halloween...I just don't get it!

Hi everyone,

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!

Does anyone else not like Halloween ??

Thanks for reading,

Mandy x

Thursday, 30 October 2014

I'm back! Holiday, illness and carbooting...

Hi everyone,

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.

Thanks for reading,

Mandy x

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Bacon Risotto...a quick and easy recipe

Hi everyone,

Here's another easy recipe for you...

Bacon Risotto

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!

Thanks for reading,

Mandy x

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Cooking from scratch...a shortcut

Hi everyone,

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.

Thanks for reading,

Mandy x