Friday, 30 September 2011


You know when you are getting old when visiting antique shops and see so many things from your own childhood.  Spent lovely morning lost in time at and the Old Barns Wolseley Bridge and  
When  I was a child television programmes frequently faltered and a sign would come up on the screen “Normal Service will be resumed as soon as possible”, and sometimes this would be accompanied by a film of “The Potter’s Wheel”
Well, this week is a Potter’s Wheel week!    “Stuff” on the domestic front has intervened and time is running out on me producing a normal blog posting.  But next week I hope “Normal Service will be resumed”.
Meanwhile, in case previous postings have not been viewed, new readers may like to have some links of previously  recommended podcasts and craft related sites,
And why is this called “self service”? Because if you are at a loose end, you may wish to see the list of blogs/podcasts on the right side of this site and click on a link and browse
Below are my three favourite craft podcasts, and one non craft related podcase, and two sites that embrace a number of crafts, and  a puzzle site, and finally a whimsical look at life from Simon’s Cat (a cat that owns Simon).

not craft related but worth listening to

All four of these have active groups on Ravelry too. 
Because these craft related sites have so much content, I am only naming three
 and if you have time left you can take a few minutes out on here doing puzzles

To raise a smile:

Hopefully next posting on here will be back to normal, and I have been trying out some new recipes to share, there will be more sites and podcasts reviewed too.


Could have knocked me down with a lamb's tail when I was given this yesterday, bowled over not only by the contents but the time and trouble taken to produce it.  But I am not going to embarrass the giver by naming them as I believe they would prefer it that way. 

Friday, 23 September 2011


Although I have been relatively busy this week, I am still wondering what to put on here!
Thursday I was reminded that the First Rule of Gardening is:  “you might think you have finished, but I can assure you categorically there is more to do”.  No matter how much I have the garden paved!  So trees have been mutilated and their offcuts hurled unceremoniously in the garden waste bin.  Ian is very adept at leaping inside the bin and compacting down the contents so more can go in.  We all know that should I try that there is every chance I would be lost in there and never seen again.

So this week my offerings are recipes of both culinary and crafty and continuing from the last couple of postings are for those “budget conscious” times!:

1)    Site of the week
2)    Podcast of the week
3)    Microwave crisps
4)    Macaroni cheese pies
5)    Simple stocking stitch gloves pattern
As with all my recipes/patterns they are mainly “suggestions” rather than commandments!
A browse around this site is well worthwhile.  To get an idea of just how much is on there hover your mouse over the headings “Free Crafts”, “Free Holiday Crafts” “Sewing and Quilting”, “Crochet and Knitting” and “More Allcrafts”.  There is something on here for everyone.  Who needs magazines, when there are sites like this?  So take a beverage of your choice, settle down and have a walk down their aisles, and see what might be your next project. 

One of the best podcasts for knitters to listen to is
Electric Sheep.  Excellent presentation of a professional level, and for those interested in knitting this is a must!  It has a loyal following and well worth tuning into.

MICROWAVE CRISPS (Probably “chips” in the US)
I am not being pretentious if I put a mention in of US terminology as my stats show visitors from across the pond I am pleased to say.
Ready made crisps are delicious and heavy on the purse as well as the hips.  So to lighten the load on both here is an alternative which I have made today.
I used the “one cal” type oil spray, and I cannot say what would happen if ordinary oil was used instead, but if anyone knows let me know and I will mention it next time.
So to make this delicious snack, simply peel an old potato, and slice as thinly as possible.  Spray a thin film of oil on microwaveable plate and lay on the slices of potato being careful not to overlap them.  Sprinkle with seasoning of choice (salt and pepper is fine on its own) Very lightly spray again with the oil.  If the oil is omitted there is a danger the crisps will just weld themselves to the plate.
I cook mine for 10 mins in a 700w microwave, so if your is more powerful reduce the cooking time.  Don’t be tempted to remove them till they are truly golden brown or they will not be crisp.

I was of two minds whether to put this unflattering pic in, but it gives an idea of what they are

These make a change from quiches.  If you already know how to make macaroni cheese then just use your usual recipe and use that as the filling.  Similarly if you have your own favourite pastry recipe for the case, use that.
For the macaroni cheese: 4oz macaroni cooked, 4oz cheese or vegan cheese substitute grated, 1 oz margarine or butter, 1oz cornflour, half pt soya milk or milk
Make the cheese sauce by melting butter, add flour and mix well, add milk, and bring to boil, stir in cheese, season.  Put in cool place (I put mine in bowl cold water)
For the pastry: 8 oz plain flour, 4 oz margarine, 4tbs water. 
Optinonal extras: sliced tomatoes, chopped onions, chopped peppers.
Rub the margarine into the flour till it looks like breadcrumbs and then slowly add  and mix in water until dough is formed.
Heat oven to number 6
Roll our pastry into flan moulds
Add macaroni cheese
Add topping of sliced tomatoes, or chopped onions, peppers using just one choice of topping all a mix, or all toppings.
Bake number 6 for about 15 mins.  When the crust of the pastry can be seen to be golden and starting to shrink from side of tin, it is done.


This is a very basic glove pattern and assumes that the knitter can already knit on 4 needles.   As the gloves can be tried on during knitting the measurements are approximate and can be increased/decreased.   It uses 4 ply/sock weight yarn, and can be mono coloured or stash buster stripes. If anyone wants more in depth information I will be pleased to help on an individual basis

On size 2.75 needles Cast on  52
Rib for 2 inches and increase to 60 stitches on last row.  The rib can be k1 p1 or k2 p2 it really doesn’t matter.  Ensure 15sts on each of 4 needles
Knit in Stocking stitch for 2.⅛ inches, which will be knit every row.
Thumb opening Right Glove:  knit 30, knit 9 with waste yarn and return theses to needle 2 and continue knitting to end of round
Thumb opening Left Glove: knit 36 then the 9 with waste yarn and return those sts and continue knitting till end of round
When 4  ¼ inches knitted put sts on holders for fingers.
To knit the fingers take from the holder:
Little Finger: 8 from back, 8 from front, cast on 2 from inside = 18sts, knit for 1 ¾ inches, Dec by 8 sts til 10 left, knit one row, k2 tog so 5 remain, break yarn and run through remaining sts.
Ring & Middle Finger: 7 sts from back, 7 sts from front, pick up 2 from previous finger and cast on 2 the opposite side= 18. Ring finger knit about 2 ½ inches then shape as little finger,  and middle finger knit to about 3inch to cast off
Index finger 8 sts from back, 8 sts from front pick up 2 from cast on sts of previous finger =18 sts and knit about 2 ½ inches and shape as others.

Friday, 16 September 2011


Well, not strictly true is it?  After all that would be commandment number one for a thief!  But there is a lot of truth in this old adage, which set me thinking this week still along the lines of last week’s blog on thrift related topics.  So this week the blog is about 1) more domestic economy (yawn, I know!), 2) free puzzles for free time,
3) store cupboard recipe, 4) podcast review, 5) knitting is econcomical!
As mentioned last week, I subscribe to the weekly missive from
Quite why I do this I am not entirely sure as my current budget doesn’t actually lend itself to a great deal of investments, oh alright, it leads to absolutely no investments at all!  But there are some good articles on budgeting.  This week I obeyed the edict to check out if I had any unspent Tesco vouchers in my account.  Now, I knew for certain I hadn’t as I tend to use them upon receipt.  Surprise surprise!  I had ten pounds worth languishing, all ignored, all unspent.  Shame on me!  Well it took about five minutes in total to print them off, get coat on, lock the front door so I could hotfoot it to Tesco and spend the lot.  I now have a lovely new duvet cover for free.  Please don’t spoil the illusion that I have of it being for free.  I secretly know that I had to spend to accumulate the points, but it is a bonus anyway. 
Loyalty cards can come up trumps, and it is certainly worth putting up the Nectar toolbar, and/or downloading the app, as it is easy to “forget” to get the points.  There is even the bonus of points being added when a search is made on the internet, and all for free.
However, there is always the caveat with loyalty that it doesn’t always pay, which is why insurance comparison sites exist.  And store cards can be massively uneconomical. 
Sermon over.
There is an ugly rumour going round that I spend a lot of time on my laptop.  Like all addicts I play down the consumption, so like an alocoholic saying they only have the odd tipple now and then, I occasionally go on my laptop!
During one of these infrequent visits this morning I came across this site which I found fascinating because I like word games don’t groan at the sound of it until it has been visited.  And like a couple more sites below they enable one to spend “free” time, following “free” pursuits, and so keeping the purse zip tightly shut.  There are lots of word games on this next link, and also puzzles including jigsaws! and lots on here too  if the pop ups suggest signing up just don’t bother unless the idea appeals, the puzzles will still be available.    There are loads of such sites and I am sure there will be future recommendations.

2 for the price of 1 this week! Grandmother’s Jewels and pasta salad.  These are recipes pertinent to this blog’s theme as hopefully most or all the ingredients will be in the store cupboard.  If not, it will not break the bank.  As always, there is no ingredient that must be included, and others are always a welcome addition!  It is the colours of this salad that result in the name of the dish.   They dish benefits from being made in advance so that the ingredients can benefit from the dressing.  If desired the  Grandmother’s Jewels can be made, and halved.  Use half as it is and the other half is to be added to cooked pasta for the pasta salad. The dressing is given at the end
Grandmother’s Jewels:
Ingredients: Choose at least 3 of:
Tin of red kidney beans, tin of sweet corn, tin of flageolet beans, tin of chick peas (garbanzo across the pond!), tin of white kidney beans, tin of pinto beans
Use all or some of:
Bunch of spring onions chopped, or shallots, or ordinary onion
Red and/or Green Pepper chopped into chunks.
Drain the tinned ingredients and put in a bowl, add the onions, and peppers, and dressing, and leave till required.

Pasta Salad
Ingredients: Grandmother’s Jewels, 4 to 6 oz dried pasta.  The pasta can be shells, twists, penne, etc.  Just use what is in the cupboard.  Cook the pasta and add to the Grandmother’s Jewels. Add dressing and leave till required.

4tbs olive oil (don’t be frugal with this!)
2tbs white wine vinegar
1tsp sugar or honey
Seasoning to taste.
Mix all dressing ingredients well and pour over.  


This week it is Knit Spin Cake
And it is “what it says on the tin”, easy to listen to, the cake part is a recipe that is easy to follow and without exotic ingredients one can never find, the knitting and spinning will appeal to most crafters, and the reviews on knitting shops and sites are very informative,  This podcast makes for pleasant listening.

Ok, unless one undoes an existing garment and recyles the yarn it isn’t free, but tempting though it may be to only buy upmarket yarn and wallow in luxury, it is not a prerequisite. Small projects are not a drain on the finances, and can be as economical as buying ready made, for instance socks and gloves.  Hands go up in horror when some knitters hear the words “socks and gloves” because their creation is surrounded by mystique of knitting on four needles, or in the round etc.  Socks are easy, fingerless mitts/gloves are a doddle  Repeat after me “socks are easy fingerless mitts are a doddle.” So long as the knitter is not intent on creating lacy/cables/fair isle socks, and will actually read the pattern slowly and carefully, then any knitter can enjoy the sensation of wearing hand knitted socks.  If the leg is not knitted too long it is even possible to make a pair out of one 50g ball of 4ply.  It is suggested that a simple pattern like this is tried for first attempt.  But if knitting in the round is a new technique, then go for fingerless mitts, as they do not have a heel to learn.
Fingerless Mitts pattern: Using 3.5mm and sock wool or 4 ply, cast on 60, put 20 sts on 3 needles and join being careful not to twist, rib for 2 inches, then knit plain every row which creates stocking stitch, till base of thumb, then stop knitting in the round and go back and forth for about inch and half, revert to knitting in the round till base of fingers reached, then do 5 rows of rib.  Cast off in rib.  Hey presto fingerless mitts!

Friday, 9 September 2011

This blog comes with warnings!!!

Warning 1:  Don’t read this paragraph if you are a meat eater!  As it is a biased paragraph.
Discrimination in eating out is rampant.  Why do restaurants think it ok to offer flesh eaters a wide choice of meals and then have a throw away line at the bottom of the menu saying “vegetarian option available”?  Well they don’t reduce the price to vegetarians to reflect the lack of choice.  Would meat eaters be happy if the menu said "meat option available?".  Part of the dining out "experience" is to be afforded choice, and not to be virtually told "this is what you can eat today", and the next waiter that yells disdainfully "Who is the vegan?" when approaching the table is going to get some retort from me that is not expected in polite society.  They do not use that tone when asking who order the Tbone steak at the table, but a more gentle enquiring tone. 
Warning 2: Opening your purse can damage your health!

Summer holidays have gone and the card bills are coming in to pay for those hazy lazy days.  Christmas is coming with all its attendant expenditure.  So is it time to look at some money saving sites?  There are numerous ones to visit for both crafters and non crafters alike. 

So with domestic expenditure in mind…..   This site is rather like having a magazine to browse through, the headings on the tabs are: Money Saver, Family, Recipes, Diets, Health, Sex & relationships, Fun & Win.  The Money Saver page  has vouchers/coupons/money saving tips etc and some of the days out vouchers are real savers.

I know in “polite society” money was not a subject up for discussion, but one needs to  be financially aware, and one of the most informative sites is  Martin Lewis  is a reliable source of information  and his newsletter which can be subscribed to for free is a gold mine of information and potential money saving ideas.   This site points the way to bargains of the week in supermarkets and departmental stores,  and “free stuff”  there is information on cheap petrol and diesel, besides all the usual “financial” information  this site has to offer.  He also announces Travel Lodge Sales and this week it was for rooms from  £12 a night.  I checked the site and there were lots of rooms.

With a rather quaint retro air  take a look at   This site is loaded with tips and money saving ideas, besides having a good free resources for crafters, and  even home made beauty recipies.  Again a weekly newsletter is free to those who leave an email address.   There are also home remedies, and lets face it you cannot fault a site that gives as a remedy!!!  I think if it doesn’t cure the arthritis it probably helps the suffer forget they have it!
Podcast Recommendation:
For those wanting to listen rather than read about frugal living  try  which combines crafting with money saving in mind.  The description in itunes says "I will be sharing ideas on saving money, both on yur craft, and in your daily life if you are a crafter, or anyone on a budget, this is the show for you" 
Warning 3: bread making is addictive
Recipe of this blog: Soft bread rolls

Over the next weeks I hope to give more bread recipies, but will start with basic recipe that will give confidence to those who have not baked their own bread before.  Bread making is easier than cake making anyday!  But if anyone wants more information or clarification on this or any of my recipies then just get in touch.
This can be made into a loaf, or rolls.  Ingredients are:
1 lb strong bread flour
1 sachet easy blend yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 oz margarine/butter/soya spread just choose one of these.
½ pt milk – or soya milk which should be tepid
Method: Put the flour in a bowl and add yeast granules, salt and sugar.  Melt the margarine and put it in the tepid milk.
Slowly add the milk/margarine and keep mixing flour and liquid.
If the dough is too sticky then stop adding the milk, if it is too dry then add a little more milk.  The idea is to achieve a dough that is soft and pliable, which doesn’t leave any flour in the bowl and doesn’t stick to the bowl. 
Then knead the dough by pummelling the life out of it, (great stress reliever), this should take about 10 mins by hand, or 3 in a big kitchen mixer.
Put the dough in a bowl and cover with damp tea towel or cling film, make sure the dough will be able to rise to twice its size without the cling film or cover hampering its progress.
If placed in a warm place* the dough should have risen sufficiently in about an hour.  Don’t worry if it takes longer.
Then take dough out of the bowl and divide it into 6 large or 8 medium pieces.  The dough will have now reverted to its former size. Knead each piece lightly and shape into rounds, then place the rounds on a lined baking sheet and flatten the round.  Sprinkle with flour.
Leave to rise, covered with damp cloth, or in a plastic bag which is not closed at the end, for 18 to 20 mins.  Then bake on number 7 for 9 minutes.  Check they are done, they will sound hollow when the bottom of the roll is tapped lightly.  If necessary put back in the oven to cook a little longer.

*re the warm place, I place mine on the stove top, ensuring no rings are alight, and turn the oven on low.  Or I put the dough in the airing cupboard.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Necessary Adjustments? I don't think so!

 This week Dominic, my eldest son was 32.  And I am convinced that this is a mistake!  32 years ago?  I remember it so vividly.  And that makes me 63 for sure, and I know my body has raced ahead of my brain.
It takes getting used to “being a pensioner”.  I still have not perfected the art of ramming my supermarket trolley into the ankles of the shopper in front at the till.  I still like mini skirts (shades of Marina in Last of the Summer Wine?).  Fortunately my free bus pass is not subject to time constraints, so I will never be a “Twirly”.  I hope to grow old disgracefully and never to quite manage to adjust to “being a pensioner”.
But to cut to the chase, this posting will have:
1)      A couple of crafting sites worth seeing
2)      Dilemma Scones
3)      Meet the Jenkins
4)      Podcast recommendation
I  am heavily biased towards knitting but two sites this week may be of interest to those who prefer crochet or spinning.  is an excellent source of spinning related articles.
There are good free pdf downloads, such as their Drop Spindle Spinning:Learn How to Spin with Drop Spindles, also An Intriduction to Spinning Wheels: How to Use etc and last but not least their excellent free Guide to Processing Wool to Make Wool Roving:Washing etc.  The site is user friendly. It doesn’t matter if the spinner is experienced, there is often a tip or two in these that can still be useful.  There is a newsletter to which one can subscribe.  Pop in and have a look at this worthwhile site.

For crocheters: There are loads of free patterns on 
This is definitely a "get a cup of tea/coffee before you start site" as there is so much to see.
This site has the facility that the user can store patterns they like on the site in their own folder.  Registration is free and then all the patterns become available for download or keeping in the personal folder.  Wide range of patterns.  They have good product reviews and giveaways. Again this is a site with a regular newsletter if the reader wishes to subscribe.  
 The Great Debate Recipe

The Great Debate continues.  The English have their priorities in life, and some are of the utmost importance to them in how they conduct their daily lives.  One of these is “cream or jam first” on scones.  I kid you not.  This can even be determined by the county in which you live.  There are numerous sites on the internet giving views on this vital topic.  Being vegan makes it easy, no cream at all!  Just jam.  The Ritz in London comes down on the jam first side. 
So the recipe of this posting is Dilemma Scones.  The dilemma being whether to eat them spread with cream topped with jam or visa versa.  I leave this choice to your personal preference.  There are no MBear Scone Police!

Scones are the archetypal English High Tea staple, but can of course be eaten for elevenses or snack times.  They are best served on day of baking or next day, but don’t keep too well, but once they have been tasted it becomes evident that storage is not a problem as there will be none left to store!  As always this recipe is one I have “tweaked” to suit my own taste
Vegans can use soya milk and vegan spread as I do, otherwise:
Ingredients: 8 oz self raising flour, 2 oz caster sugar, ¼ tsp salt, 1tsp baking powder,    2oz sultanas, 1 1/2oz margarine,1/4 pt milk.
Sieve flour, salt and baking powder together then rub in the margarine till mix resembles breadcrumbs.  Add sugar and sultanas. Gradually add the milk mixing until soft dough is formed. Place dough on lightly surface and gently pat or roll till ¾ inch thick. Cut out into rounds, place on baking tray, brush with milk.
Bake at number 7 for about 10 mins.
They are ready to come out when golden brown on top

Let them cool on a rack so they don’t have soggy bottoms!
Meet the Jenkins
Who lives in a house like this?  Well Mr and Mrs Jerome Jenkins do.  They have inhabited the flat above their shop since they moved there after their honeymoon in 1927.  Mr Jenkins had wooed her and won her heart two years after opening his antique emporium.  They are now in 1939 and will remain in that time for the rest of their days.  They do not have electricity as Mrs Jenkins “cannot be doing with new fangled things like that”.   Thus far they have not been blessed with children.
Here are some pics of their dwelling.  I have enjoyed making their bedding, armchair in their bedroom, and suite in their sitting room. 
The Antique Shop

Mr and Mrs Jenkins put their feet up at the end of a long day
Mrs Jenkin's Domain!

All Mod Cons!
And so to bed!

On itunes or via own site  this is a podcast by a real life shepherdess!  For those interested in fibres her essays on different breeds of sheep and their fleece qualities are invaluable.  She tells us of her day to day life on the farm and keeps the listener abreast of the progress of the lambs in her flock.  She gives tips on getting the best from Ravelry.  There are also book reviews etc.  An all round interesting podcast.