Friday, 24 December 2010


Well Christmas eve is here and where am I? working! First time worked a night shift on Christmas eve and my girls are not happy about it. I've done well not to have worked it for the last eight years. I have to take a turn, it's only fair. Because I'm working In-laws have invited us to theirs for Christmas dinner. I will be opening presents with the family when I get in from work then it's off to bed for a good sleep then over to the In-laws later in the afternoon. Hubby and girls will be going over before me so I can sleep in peace and quiet.

I will be busy Boxing day though, got daughter No1 and son-in-law and 2 grandaughters arriving for another big meal. Got my table set today and the house clean and all bedding changed. Gammon cooked this evening and desserts made and in the freezer. Roll on 7.00am I want to get home  and start enjoying Christmas!

Monday, 20 December 2010

I'm back

Not been on for a week but I'm here now and rearing to go. Busy time for all of us but I think I'm all prepared now. All present shopping has arrived. Last one ordered on the Internet arrived after two weeks, very early Sunday morning. Everything is wrapped and stashed away. Delivery with Tesco was booked weeks ago and will arrive Thursday. Just had my last visit to Aldi for last few things to last until delivery arrives and I am not going anywhere near a shop until new year! I can't stand the hustle and bustle of shops at this time of the year, it's manic, gets me so stressed so I take the easy route, and get everything delivered.

This year we have put a limit with my husbands parents on how much we shall spend, £10 each was the limit. None of us really need anything and it is so pointless spending money on gifts nobody really wants or needs. I have pooled the in-laws money together and have made a hamper for them. I have bought things that have only been on offer in the shops like a tin of biscuits for £4 and a bottle of wine when it was on offer. I bought a lovely block note pad in the sale for 99p was originally £4.99. I am also adding a jar of home made lemon curd. 

I made a jar for the in-laws and a large jar for us, it does taste lovely. I will make a nice label to put on the jar and it will go nicely with my hamper. I will put a picture of the hamper on my blog when it is finished. I had a lot of lemons left so I made a lovely lemon drizzle cake. This I slice up and put in the freezer and just take out a slice when needed.

The lemon skins that are left get put into a container and I keep this in the fridge. I add about 4 halves to the dishwasher and they give everything a lovely fresh smell. They last a couple of washes then I put them in the compost bin.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Menu plan

Menu plan for this week is

Fish fingers, wedges and beans

Left over chicken in sauce, vegetable rice

Fish pie, carrots and peas

Creamy mascarpone tuna sauce, pasta. cheese and garlic bread

Fish, chips and mushy peas

Chicken fajitas

Roast pork loin, veg, roast potatoes and apple sauce

When we have a roast chicken I always strip the carcass of all the leftover meat then throw all the skin and bones back into the slowcooker with some peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, a carrot, onion and water to make stock. On Tuesday we are having the leftover chicken mixed into a sauce of sauteed onions and mushrooms, chicken stock, milk, parsley and flour to thicken. This will be served on boiled rice with mixed vegetables added. It makes a very filling meal just from leftovers.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Like my bargain?

Do you like my great bargain?

It's a huge stock pot I got from the charity shop I volunteer at. I got it for £2.00! It's first job was to boil the dogs carrots. I bring the pan to the boil then always turn the hob off after 5 minutes and let the carrots cook in the steam and heat from the cooling hob, it saves on the electric. The pot will be great for jam making or for boiling big hams at christmas. Really pleased with my find. 

Worked a night shift last night so didn't get up until 1.30pm. I know, it's early when I've worked nights but I get up at that time to take the dog for his walk if no body's here to take him out. I hate dog walking at the moment with this weather. The roads and paths are still treacherous in our village, nothing is melting because the temperature every morning my husband goes to work reads -10. I've nearly fallen on numerous occasions and so has the poor dog. After my walk managed to get some cooking done which I enjoyed. I boiled a gammon for sandwiches and boiled the pan of carrots for the dog. I had the bread maker on making the dough for 3 baguettes and I made a veg and tuna lasagne.We had the lasagne for tea with a baguette made into a garlic baguette and a salad.

I have 3 portions of lasagne to freeze for another day.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Fed up of all this snow now!

Getting really fed up of the snow and ice now. It's been here since Monday and I've had enough! Had a horrible drive to work Tuesday night and an even worse drive back early Wednesday morning. Got my car halfway in the drive and it ground to a halt with spinning wheels. There was too much snow on my drive it all got clogged around my tires. I'd had enough so left the car and went to bed. Had a few hours sleep then daughter No3 helped me clear the drive and I was able to get my car off the road.

Not been in the car until this morning to go to my voluntary job. Had to visit the garage before going to my job to have them look at my exhaust on the car. My daughter No3 said I sounded like a boy racer car when I picked her up from college on Monday. Well it ended up costing me £157 for a new exhaust fitting, just what I needed on top of the week we've had.

Got a lot of soup made to stock up for the coming week. I made a batch of cauliflower and goats cheese soup. I made this with a 49p  reduced colly and a piece of goats cheese I found in the back of the freezer. The second soup was leek and potato made with 49p Aldi leeks.

They both taste really nice. Don't have to think about what to eat for lunch, just need to remember to take one from the freezer the night before to defrost.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Cinema Treat

Don't go to the cinema often but promised the girls we would see the new Harry Potter film. We had planned a drive to the coast for this Sunday but because the weather was so bitter and because of the snow we changed our treat to a cinema visit. I HATE paying the extortionate prices at the cinema. Just to get in costs a fortune so if they think I'm going to spend £2-3 on a drink or £8 for a family scoop of ice cream they can p**s off! We always take our own bottles of pop, a bag of Aldi popcorn and some sort of chocolate bar.  Today I took an Aldi chocolate bar and everything was smuggle in my large bag.

I prepared all my vegetables and yorkshire pudding mix so when we returned from the cinema tea could be put straight on and we could be eating within half an hour of getting back. Me and the girls then had a lovely walk with the dog in the dark in the snow before settling down to watch X-Factor. A very enjoyable Sunday was had by all.

Saturday, 27 November 2010


It's arrived! Not a lot but enough for me. I finished my night-shift this morning and had to scrape ice and snow off my car before my journey home. I had a really thick layer of ice on my windows underneath the snow which was too thick to scrape off. Took me ages to defrost the car. Dog walking is the first job this morning before I can go to bed.

This was the cold winter scene down a road I take the dog each morning. Not much snow but we are due more today. Well, I shall now snuggle under my duvet and see what has happened with the weather when I wake this afternoon.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

A chill in the air!

Woke up to a very chilly day. It was freezing on my early morning walk with the dog. We have had a light sprinkling of snow several times today. Decided to have a walk to the lake on our lunchtime walk as we had not been there for a while. Wish I hadn't bothered. On my approach to the lake I saw a lot of 4x4 cars all heading into the gates of a stately home on the edge of our village, thought nothing of it, then as I was walking along the edge of the lake a lot of gentry were walking to the lake with their guns and dogs. I then realise a shoot was going to start so headed to a spot I knew to get out of the way. I was heading for my escape when another crowd of gentry were coming in the spot I wanted to exit from. We exchanged "good afternoon" to each other then I quickly scarpered. Five minutes later gun shots could be heard. I watched from the safety of the road as they shot the lovely ducks I had been admiring only a few minutes earlier, poor things. That's what comes with living in the country. Sherlock (my dog) was not impressed either as his walk was not as long as we had intended it to be.

My living room windows have been looking very grimy for a few weeks now and I kept putting the job of cleaning them off. Well today,  in between snow showers I got the job done. Gave them a wash with soapy water first then I was out with my water & vinegar spray to finish them off. They do look lovely and clean now until a bird decides to muck them up again! Please wait until after christmas birds before you bombard my windows again.

Didn't know what to give daughter No3 for her lunch tomorrow so decided on making her some potato, cheese & onion pasties at 8.45pm! I made my own rough puff pastry then sauteed some onions, par boiled some cubed potatoes. I mixed the onions, potatoes and some grated cheese together and filled the pasties.

Popped them in the oven for 20 minutes. Daughter came in the kitchen when I took then from the oven. She took one look at them and said "cor, they are massive, I'll only eat half of one" Guess they are on the large size, should have made 3 instead of the 2.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

It's a dogs life

Any of you have a greedy dog? I have a Labrador and like all Labradors, he's greedy! When his yearly check-up comes around at the vets I always dread the weigh in. He was a little over weight last December so was told to weigh his food and start to bulk it out with vegetables. This can be quite expensive when your dog can consume a mountain of food .We found the solution with pony carrots at £1.50 a 12.5kg bag from farm shops or equestrian places.

We boil a large pan full and store the rest in the garage or at the back door when the weather's cold. In summer we have to cook them then freeze because they go off so quick. A bag lasts about 8-9 days.

He never misses an opportunity to eat something. He's in a carrot field which we pass every day munching on a carrot!

Monday, 22 November 2010

Menu Plan

Went to Aldi this morning after dropping daughter No2 at college. Didn't need much, got most things in freezer. This week on our menu plan we have

Egg, chips, beans, bread and butter

Mascarpone tomato sauce & tinned tuna, pasta and home made garlic bread

Beef & Ale, dumplings, cabbage & mash
Me- Vegetable stew

Home made Turkey nuggets, wedges & beans

 Hubby- left over beef & ale or left over beef & onion pie
 Me & Girls- at parents

Chicken/tofu Fajitas

Slow cooker chicken casserole, cabbage, mash & Yorkshire puddings
Me- left over vegetable stew, cabbage, mash & Yorkshire puddings

Bought a £2.99 gammon in Aldi which I simmered in a pan of water then roasted in the oven with honey drizzled on top for the last 15 minutes of cooking.

I let this cool then sliced it on my slicing machine. This will do for sandwiches for the clan for the week.

Bought a bottle of ale in Aldi and this is now in the slow cooker with a selection of Aldi 49p veg and some stewing beef I defrosted overnight. Will cook this all day, leave in the fridge tomorrow then eat for tea Wednesday. Stews and casseroles are lovely left a day before eating.

Not looking forward to the cold weather we are due later in the week. Thankfully Hubby got all the loft insulated this year when rolls of insulation were on offer. We should be nice and snug this year. Hubby set timer on the central heating yesterday so prepared for the cold front coming.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Enjoyed today

I love my Mondays and Thursdays when I have a full day at home and nowhere to go. Once kids were off to school and college and I'd walked the dog it was time to get busy. Bedding stripped off my bed and in washer and a whizz round the downstairs floors and the stairs with the vac. Breadmaker on with a batch of hot cross bun dough. Kids have these toasted every morning for breakfast.
 Don't bother with the cross, too much of a faff  but I always sugar glaze them.

Had the slow cooker on whilst the breadmaker was on. Today spicy lentil soup was in the pot. I used up the last of the marrow, 1/2 green pepper, carrot, tin chopped tomatoes, an onion, veg stock and lentils. I toasted some garam masala and curry powder in a frying pan then popped that in the pot too.

I blended the soup and had a portion for lunch. Don't waste money buying containers to freeze stuff in. I save empty marg tubs to use for freezing. They are the perfect size for one portion and stack great in the freezer. I stick a bit of paper on the lid with what's inside.

Made a nice tea tonight with some leftover chicken from the freezer. I cooked some onion, mushrooms and pepper in a wok, added chicken stock, soy sauce, garlic, ginger and some cornflour then threw in the chicken and some cooked noodles. I made mine with veg stock and tofu. A very tasty meal made in 15 minutes. Even stir-fry hating daughter No2 admitted it was nice.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Quick Visit

I've had no time to post today as I've been very busy and now I'm at work.Tuesdays are always busy for me as I voluntereer in a charity shop twice a week then I usually rush home, make tea then get ready to do a night shift at work. The little time I had at home today was taken up with the job I hate the most, oven cleaning! Can't stand the job but it did look a mess so the deed had to be done. Washer was put on a  30 degree wash with 1 1/2 washing tablets. I never put two tablets in a wash, they always seem to wash fine. Maybe I should try one tablet sometime and see what the results will be like. Washing draped on airer in dining room before leaving for the shop.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Day at home

Well, never done a blog before so a bit slow on the technical side of setting everything up so please be patient with me. Thought I'd set up a blog to help me concentrate better on my grocery challenges. If I'm having to write down daily what I've cooked and spent on food it may make me stick to my budget better. Not doing so well with the budget this month so come pay day a new frame of mind and a new budget to challenge me for December.
Looked in the fridge this morning to find not a lot. Need to get some shopping in Aldi later to get us through the week with what's in the freezer. Freezer full, plenty of meat in there but need veggies to go with it and fruit.

Found some mushrooms on the turn in the fridge along with a part used marrow and a small green pepper so all going to be chopped up and cooked in the slowcooker with some onions and passata to make ratatouille.

 Whizzed round the house with the vac and cleaned glass coffee table with my water and vinegar spray. Never buy glass cleaner, always use my spray and it does a great job. Bread makers on and when it's finished will be making pizza bases for the weekend and baguettes, all will be squashed in the freezer somehow. Pizza bases are part baked. Really am going to try and eat throught the freezer over the next couple of weeks so I can get my turkey in there and make space for other christmas treats.

Whenever I make something with pastry I use the trimmings to line individual flan foils then freeze them so I have a handy stash of cases to quickly make a mini quiche for daughter No3 to eat at lunch. Because oven was on I quickly threw a bit of onion ,tomato, sweetcorn and cheese into a case and added a beaten egg. Lunch for one sorted. I take the quiche out of its foil and wash and re-use these. The quiche is then popped into a suitable container for lunch tomorrow. My lunch will be spicy pumpkin soup from the freezer, made with the scooped out pumpkin of our Halloween Lantern.