Saturday, 28 August 2010

Boots!

This has just made me so happy I'm sitting here with one boot on in my pyjamas. Yes it's gone lunchtime but what the heck. I've been busy sorting out baby things to pass on to my friend who is a first-time mum and found a long forgotten yellow box.

A few years ago I had the perfect boots, they were comfortable and went with everything and I wore them until they started to let the rain in. When the same pair came up on sale for less than half price I bought them even though it was the middle of summer and I was halfway through my pregnancy with Little Boy. They arrived but they Did Not Fit. It's ok I thought, must be my pregnant cankles, and I put them away again. Last winter I tried them on and they still Did Not Fit. I pushed and I pulled and breathed in (like that's going to help make my feet smaller!) but to no avail. Sadly I put them back in the box and had thoughts of Ebaying them to recoup the cost. I tried them on for One Last Time today and to my surprise my foot slid in. The zip went up. They weren't tight! OMG, they fit they fit they fit! I did a sort of lopsided half run to the top of the stairs to tell Mr J the marvelous news and he wasn't impressed at all until I got to
'So now I don't need to buy winter boots anymore'

where the penny finally dropped, his face lit up and he said 'That's fantastic!'

Though I have just seen that they now come in purple.........

Ms C

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Two's company

Ugly footstool has a little footstool baby. Like most younger things it is smaller and firmer and doesn't need as much work.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The List

Hey everyone, I meant to come on yesterday to blog about the weekends car boot but I ended up engrossed in knitting. I'm making something to a tight deadline and really want to get it finished. I have a major problem with finishing things, almost a phobia, in case they aren't right or good enough and I wander off and start something else. It's a silly habit of mine and one I need to break. I'll show you how I got on once it is finished if you like.

I am a biiiiig fan of car booting in case you didn't know. I've only sold once and it was quite a scary experience with people grabbing things from the car and being pushy so have tended to stick to buying instead. Sundays at the moment seem to follow a definite sequence that even the Little Boy knows off by heart. We start off at the Car Boot with Sheep and then go to the Car Boot with Donkey then move on to a local farm with a bakery for a lunch of cheese and potato pie and sometimes an ice cream, and then home. I do like my Sundays but the CBWD has started to get much better than the CBWS and if we went to that one first it would totally ruin the system! CBWS has awesome coffee and cake too which is just what I need at silly o'clock in the morning. I am not a morning person, Mr J will tell you, but it is worth it for the bargains. We both have A List. Nooo, not that kind of list! This one is a mental list of things we have been looking for or need to buy to go with other items we have picked up. Mine is full of flowery stuff and old buttons and his is mainly dead bits of computer he can pick over to make Frankenstein like computers from all the bits. I'm glad he knows what he is doing because I don't!

This week was particularly good as I managed to score some long term wants from my list! Way back at the beginning of the car boot season last year I saw a fab enamel bread bin but as we were leaving Mr J talked me out of stopping for it. I never saw anything like it again til now. All for the tiny sum of £2! It's not old but good quality and I really love it.
Doesn't the word bread look weird if you stare at it for too long? BREAD!! Oh, just me then. You can also spot the other-worldly reflection of one of my cats in it.
And this manky looking footstool believe it or not was also on my list. The fabric is dusty and the foam has collapsed but it has a good set of sturdy legs and I have plans for it inspired by this picture. £2 again!
Last of all here are a few of the buttons I have bought lately. My favourite are the chunky pink ones on the card at the top. They look like they belong on an old bed jacket.

I'd better crack on with this knitting! Till next time.

Ms C

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Elasti-cooking | Lentil and Mushroom Ragu

Yes, another cooking post hot on the heels of the last one. It has come to the time of year where the evenings are closing in, though it's felt like that since about the middle of July! I have started thinking of things to fill up my freezer that require minimal effort after the school run which will recommence soon. Oh school run, how I hate thee. Only 9 years of it to go.

This recipe is my favourite ever dinner. I first saw the original recipe on this blog and wondered about the claims of it being life changing but it is, it really is. Any recipe that gets my children using the words 'lentils' and 'yummy' in conjunction with one another is a heaven sent miracle. And of course it wins points with me because it contains wine which means I can have a glass to keep me company while cooking. Like most recipes it has evolved slightly in my care but either way it is super-tasty.

Let me start by saying my kids 'Don't like mushrooms, mummy' which is why I prepare this in the food processor so they are pulverised into oblivion and they can't spend their time picking them out. As I'm using the processor I may as well do the lot in there. If you don't need your mushrooms to be invisible then chopping by hand is just fine. However the mushy veg does look a bit 'bleuurgh!' while cooking. See? Yuck!
I do the carrots in small chunks as they are an accepted and popular member of the vegetable family and add some much needed colour. Because at some points in cooking this it is perfectly normal to wonder what on earth this giant pan of brown sloppy mess is. You might even panic and eye up the pizza delivery menu. Then right at the very end it starts to look right and all is well with the world.

Lentil and Mushroom Ragu
based on original from Eat The Right Stuff

2tbsp olive oil
2 onions finely chopped
1 stick of celery (hate the stuff raw and have it left from making pasta sauce)
2 carrots, finely chopped
250g chestnut mushrooms (reduced from 300g due to the pack size sold)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
250g puy lentils (I use ones sold as dark green specked lentils)
150ml red wine
1-2tbsp tomato puree
1tsp dried oregano
2x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
750ml vegetable stock (made with Marigold Boullion)
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh basil to serve

In a large pan heat the olive oil. Process the onions with the celery then add them to the pan along with the chopped carrots to soften over a low heat. While that is cooking process the mushrooms with the garlic and then add these to the pan. Cover the pan and simmer until the mushrooms begin to release liquid. Add the rest of the ingredients apart from the basil and simmer gently for about 30-40 minutes. The lentils should be cooked through though you may need to cook for more or less time or adjust the level of liquid to reach the right consistency. They should be thick but not too dry.

This is also easily adaptable for the slow cooker, you will only need about 500ml of stock. Any extra (and there will be extra!) can be frozen or made into lasagne or shepherds pie or simply served with spaghetti which is how we have it. I really love the idea of the lasagne but last time I made one using lentils it was described by the children as 'dog poo with cheese' and my pride has yet to recover.

Till next time!

Ms C

Elasti-cooking | Slow cooker pasta sauce

I wanted to include some recipes here on the blog. Mainly because as with all the other areas of my life I am horribly disorganised. I tend to lose scribbled on bits of paper with much-used recipes written on so a back-up is always handy. Sometimes I don't even include the recipe title and have to guess what it is from the ingredients!

This recipe however I have been making for so long that it's almost automatic. It started based on a recipe I found on the Nigella site but for some reason I can't get it to load for me anymore. Probably a good job I know what I'm doing for a change. It makes enough to freeze in portions for about 6 (cheap!) family dinners for us (2 adults, 2 children and a toddler.) It's very reassuring to know there is always some there and pasta in the cupboard to make a very quick meal for the children if they are threatening to implode if I don't feed them within the next 10 minutes. The sauce is full of vegetable goodness and once it's blended up they needn't know it's there.

Slow-cooked Tomato Pasta Sauce
6-8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1-2 onions, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
4-5 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 courgettes, sliced
2 peppers (red, orange or yellow), chopped
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
2x 500ml cartons passata
0.5 tsp sugar
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
Salt and black pepper to taste
Large handful fresh basil

This makes a lot so you will need a big pan and a large slow cooker. Mine is said to hold 5.7 litres as a guide, you can see on the pic it comes almost to the top. It is of the type that you can use on the hob then transfer to the slow cooker which saves a bit of time and washing up. You don't have to be too tidy with the vegetable chopping, the cooking time is long and it will all get done in the end. However the smaller they are the quicker the first stage will be.

Warm your olive oil in the pan and add all the raw vegetables in one go. Coat with the oil and place the lid on for them to sweat for a short while, stirring occasionally. After about 15 minutes the vegetables will have released some juices and gone a bit soft around the edges. Then is the time to add the tinned tomatoes. Heat them through and add the passata and the dried herbs keeping on a low heat. Once it starts to simmer you can transfer it all to your slow cooker and heat on low for about 6 hours. My low setting is not actually that low so it's done in about 4.5. I add the fresh basil at the end and allow it to wilt before blending with a hand blender. I'm on my third one now, as all the ones I have seem incapable of surviving past their guarantee.

So that's it for my first recipe! Nice and simple. I hope to share more soon though I must warn you that we are a vegetarian family so you'll have to look elsewhere for your meaty recipes. Not to say you couldn't go free and easy with a bit of pancetta or chorizo with some of these, totally up to you.

Ms C

Friday, 20 August 2010

Swaps and spoons

Hi again! I'm on a roll with this blog posting. I'll try and keep it that way so I don't end up bogged down with all the things I want to post and get disheartened when I don't get chance to. I am gradually sorting out my links to other blogs and getting things how I'd like them.

I decided to go on a bit of a hunt for goodies yesterday, Mr J was home so I left the little ones with him and set off for my favourite charity shop. I have recently donated a lot of things there so I hadn't been in a while. I don't want to see my old stuff, only other peoples. There is always lovely furniture there, most of the things from my house have come from there or Ebay. I thought there was nothing for me this time until I was just on my way out and spotted a slightly grubby box that I just had to look in and discovered these lovely bright vintage coffee spoons. The make is called Chromepride but I can't seem to find out much about them online. I'd love to find some more. I think they will serve some light duty by living in the sugar bowl. Ok, sugar bowls. I have so many I have to rotate them so they all get a turn to actually do their intended job.
I then carried on to the market where I had found some vintage knitting patterns last week but hadn't had chance to look at them all and wanted to return to have another peek. Sadly it seemed I had already seen the best of them and the rest were very mohair and 80's which isn't an era I like very much even though I grew up in it. My day out then turned a bit sour as I came back to the car to find the door lock all blocked up with chewing gum which upset me a bit. It's an old-ish and simple car with no automatic locking so I had to remove it all before I could carry on my way to Hobbycraft where I stocked up for a couple of projects. I ended up straight in bed with a migraine when I got in, possibly because I'm such a stress monster when things go wrong! I don't think these people give a second thought to how their messing about can affect others.

Ok now on to the swap. There was a swap taking place over on Ravelry on the We Love Lucy group, Lucy being the lovely Lucy from the crochet blog Attic24, and I was paired up with Carissa from Canada. I was very late sending all my things off as everything seemed to go wrong here at home at once (so sorry Carissa!) and then when I did receive my lovely parcel my camera cable went missing so I am also pretty late with my thanks too. Very poor show, and the reason I have skipped the current swap as I need to get myself better organised before undergoing another! I also didn't take pics of what I sent but I really hope Carissa liked her parcel.

You want to see what I got? I had a lion tape measure, which is so me as I am a very proud Leo, some souvenirs of Calgary which aren't pictured as they have been whisked away to various corners of the house. My daughter has the little toy in her bed as she swooped on it the second my parcel was opened! I also had some tea that was very nice. But my favourite part was the yarn! I can honestly say I have never had anything quite so lovely given to me before. This one is a laceweight which I have always been a little scared of, but I am determined to make it into something very special even if I do have to wait a little while to get my skills up to scratch. I have a few friends at knitting group that I can ask for help with shawls as they have done them before so it's all good. The second is a Fleece Artist sock yarn, beautiful colours that won't be hidden inside shoes! I think this will become a scarf or shawl. They are both so soft and gorgeous. Thank you so much Carissa!
You can also see the funky lion tape measure on this pic, shown along with my new car boot sale bargain duvet set and curtains.

I have been doing a lot of furniture sanding and priming as well but the weather has slowed me down a bit with the constant rain. Plus I also made a hideous mistake with the primer which Mr J put down to me not reading the tin properly. I denied all but between you and me he was right. I can be a bit on the impulsive side it has to be said.

Till next time!

Ms C

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Buttons and bags, oh my!

Hi again!

So the other day was a special day for me. New blog, new name and also my birthday! Though let's face it by this age nobody can really be bothered about it. I may possibly have had a gift of Tesco Value chocolate but the quicker that is glossed over the better, hmm? As I'm used to it I have learned to sort my own treats out and stumbled across this beauty on Ebay.


As a major fan of vintage buttons my heart just stopped when I saw it. I have a small collection of buttons myself that my little boy has taken to playing with and needless to say some are lost. But this is in a different league altogether. I had two whole days to wait before the auction ended. I bid my little heart out last night but unfortunately it wasn't enough and I lost. It was nice to dream though!

What I did get though is this from my lovely husband.



A just-for-me bag. No wipes, plastic cows, raisins, biscuit crumbs or leaky drinks. Bliss!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Hello there!

Welcome to my new blog! For many reasons I have felt the need to shrug off my old online incarnation - same old me, new name! I hope you will join me in this brand new stretch of my bloggy journey.
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