Sunday, 28 October 2012

 A different entry today, not craft/podcast/kindle/recipe related.  So you have been warned!

 Have you turned it off and on again?
How often have I groaned when hearing that solution offered to technical issues with the computer!  Well, my iphone went on 3g strike and would happily make calls and texts, but decided not to surf.  I rechecked all the settings.  I read forums with various bits of advice, and still the recalcitrant gadget would not strut its stuff.  Until we were in Comet waiting tor out internet order to be sorted, and I had to tell the salesman I couldn’t show the email as required due to …….  He then stated the dreaded phrase.
So I did.
So it does work sometimes.

Clocks have gone back and to me that is the harbinger of winter approaching.
Winter usually means I spend more time indoors.
More time indoors means I spend more time knitting.
Knitting more, means I buy more yarn.
I think you can see where this is going……
To fund the habit, I like to see where I can be a bit thrifty but invisibly so.  I am not into leading an austere life totally bereft of pleasure for the sake of a ball of wool.

I am not about to melt scraps of soap and mould them into a “new bar” of soap (I use liquid soap anyway!).  But I have begun to realise how wasteful I am with shampoo, washing up liquid, laundry liquid etc.  I cannot believe how little shampoo I now need to get a full lather.  Hitherto I was using copious amounts and therefore buying shampoo of a near weekly basis.  I have realised too to notice if the washing up liquid I am using has the word “concentrated” on the container.  Otherwise I liberally disgorge a  good dollop, (I know bubbles per se have no cleaning properties, but I do so like a bowl of them!).  Laundry liquid manufacturers must love consumers like myself.  I hurl in a stack of liquid and then another squirt for good measure.  The other day I actually dispensed the recommended amount and found I had…..tarara… clean washing!  So I have been pouring money into my washing up bowl, and washing machine, and losing valuable yarn money in the process.

I have, however, “upset the apple cart” with my well meaning measures.  I will not forego decent toilet paper, but read somewhere that if the roll is squashed to an oval before being put on the holder it would not roll so freely and therefore the user would have more control.  This did not go down with a certain person who thought this was a step too far.

(Off the topic of frugality for a moment, but another instance where bog roll got me into trouble).  Many years ago when working for a public body that was undergoing expenditure cuts, on 1st April I put a notice on the staff notice board, stating that due to the cuts in public expenditure, only one sheet per visit to the toilet was permissible and if staff wanted more they must bring it from home.  How was I to know that the Big Boss was coming to the staff room for a meeting that very morning?
It was not appreciated!!

Back to domesticity.  I also like “handy tips” that make daily life cheaper and more importantly easier. My best email friend sent me an email this week containing a list of them, and some were really clever I thought.  (thanks Viv).  Like the one where a pull ring from a drinks can, is slipped over a metal coathanger hook, and then another hanger can be hung from the ring thus saving room on the rail and making a wardrobe accommodate more clothes.    I also liked the idea of using a staple extractor to hold a key ring open when putting on another key, this saves damaging nails. Or using a tin opener to get inside blister packs designed to keep the user out.

The problem with some frugal living solutions, is that the amount of effort needed to achieve a saving is off putting.

I make bread which is cheaper than shop bought, but only because I enjoy making bread.  I am not about to become a domestic slave for the sake of a penny or too.  But I am also not happy to knowingly waste money. 

So if anyone has any pain free tips I will receive them gratefully. The trouble with some “tips” is the idea seems novel but however clever they are, does the item made in the Blue Peter style ever actually get used like this one or the little cord holder?

Friday, 5 October 2012


This is a short entry as keyboarding is rather problematic at the moment due to carpel tunnel syndrome!  Great, another syndrome to add to my Holmes Adies syndrome.  I really would rather not go through life collecting syndromes as I age. This has meant my knitting activities are severely curtailed and I can only knit for short periods of a time. Also my cooking is reduced as chopping and cutting is not a joyful experience to say the least.

This week the knitting chat is about gloves,
Knitting can be an expensive hobby but not when such projects as these are made.  Time consuming and yet not yarn eaters, so they are more than affordable.  But more importantly they instill a great sense of satisfaction upon completion.  Also they do not weigh much on the needles!  I particularly like these sort of projects that are steeped in history and tradition.  These gloves above I made last week are made from a pattern currently sold at,  or the Winter 2011 edition of Knitting Traditions.  They are in the Dales tradition and called Mary Allen's gloves. So far on Ravelry there are only 7 projects which surprised me. 

Once I had completed the Mary Allen’s gloves, I started another pair with my own design on the back of the hand and deviated from tradition by continuing the pattern up the length of the fingers.  It is only now after decades of knitting that I have the confidence to “do my own thing”.  Hitherto all patterns have been carved in stone.  Here is the result:

The project has yet to be named so if anyone has any ideas what these gloves should be called I would welcome the suggestion.

The recipe is a minimum fuss, quick make, lunch and a leave it alone as long as you like casserole till you want to eat it!
The quick one:
Roasted veggies on warm baguettes - makes a change from pizza!
I find the bake at home baguettes ideal size for this.
Ingredients: baked baguette, from the following use one or any or all tomatoes, sweet peppers, mushrooms, onions.
Garlic and decent olive oil.  No cheating on the oil, if it is crap oil it will ruin this entirely.  Prepare the veggies used by halving the tomatoes, cutting onions into chunks, halving peppers and removing seeds, clean and slice the mushrooms.
Method: half baguettes lengthwise and lay crust down on baking tray.  Liberally spread oil over the surface and rub in crushed garlic.  Arrange the veggies used over the bread and drizzle over olive oil.  Bake number 6 for 15 mins.  Check and ensure veggies cooked. 

The casserole can be cooked on the stove top and eaten immediately or it can be put in a slow cooker/casserole dish and slow cooked for ages.  So it is a good dish to prepare say before going shopping and then on home coming it is ready to eat.

Home Coming Casserole

In the picture it can be seen that there is pasta, but this is an optional extra and not totally necessary.  400g tin of chopped tomatoes, 1 tbs tomato puree, 1 tsp sugar, 1 clove crushed garlic,  large onion chopped, 1tbs olive oil, seasoning,  4 oz dried pasta cooked as directed on the packet. Veggie meat free  Meatballs from Asda  or Redwoods

Saute onions in the oil and garlic, add the chopped tomatoes, puree, sugar, seasoning. When well combined add the “meatballs” and pasta if used, and thoroughly heat, or cook in the oven.