Sunday, 12 June 2016

Delicious Things That Can Poison or Sting!**

Hello everybody! I'm feeling pretty cheery today as I've managed to get a lot of creative bits and bobs done this weekend: some writing, rehearsals for a show I'm in this month... and these foodie lovelies.

We've been feeling the pinch a bit  as we've launched OH's new career and had to pay out a fair whack for that, just as we've also had to do a lot of travelling to see a family member in hospital. So hey ho, it's June, the sun is shining (oh heck, that's a lie, it's been stormy all day) and we've not got much spare.

Never mind... we've been making the most of what we've got.

In the picture, you see rhubarb liqueur. Made from homegrown rhubarb, stewed and syruped in a slow cooker. We used the stewed fruit used for desserts, and bottled the liquor with about half vodka. This means it's sweeter and a bit less potent than regular rhubarb vodka, so you could have it neat over ice or with a tonic. I think with all the booze and sugar it should keep well, but I've got it in the fridge. Yummy!

And the green stuff is my ever awesome nettle pesto. I gather my nettles from a patch at the nature reserve fringed by triffid-tall thistles and nettles that I think most dog walkers would be scared of. My peasant's pesto is made of  about three fists of mixed blanched nettles, one garlic clove, one slice of wholemeal bread, French-toasted, a lump of leftover French cheese, and whizzed together with rapeseed oil - or regular vegetable oil as it tends to be these days. I stirred it into some veggie spaghetti the other night - the spaghetti was cooked in the nettle stock from blanching the leaves for extra flavour. If you've never eaten nettles, they are more spinach than spinach. Awesome free things!

Talking of free, I'm not really one for dumpster diving, but I procured some overripe bananas by someone who couldn't contemplate using them, as I said it was such a waste to throw good food away. Some went into smoothies, some went into a cake*, but my favourite thing to do with overripe bananas is to make super-healthy ice cream.

How do you do that? Well, chop up the banana into pieces and freeze it. Just before you want to eat the ice cream, take it out of the freezer so it thaws a bit. For 3 medium bananas, I added a dessert spoon of smooth peanut butter for a nice texture and flavour (you can do without if you don't have/don't like/can't eat peanuts). Then whizz it  in the food processor until it looks like soft ice cream! Simple, lovely.

Anyway, thought I'd share those with you.

*the cake was a Hairy Dieters recipe. Got the book from the library. We're still eating said cake, but the recipe calls for waaaay too many bananas, I think. Took ages to cook. Probably the worst cake I've ever made. Will just make the one from my Good Housekeeping book in future.

**Yes, nettles are the stingers. Rhubarb is lovely, but you know never to eat the leaves, right?


Monday, 2 May 2016

A Traditional Walk in the Drizzle

 I just thought I'd share my photos from today's Mayday walk. IT'S TRADITION!

We could have taken the car and explored the Northamptonshire countryside, but we decided to use pure foot power and walked to Abington Park.

Well, one tradition you have to follow when you go to Abington Park is go and see the birdies. There's an aviary there full of lovebirds, budgerigars, canaries, quails, bantams, zebra finches and other things that go "meep meep" (not Roadrunner). And of course, the fabulous peacocks. Just a couple of the blue fellas there today. There's usually a white one as well. Don't know where he's gone.


The park is a fantastic arboretum. Just look at all these trees.

 And this one is awesome. There's OH, waving.

 Abington Park sits on the site of a medieval village. Some of the structures on the park date back to those times, but there's also this fantastic house which was built in the fifteenth century and is now a museum. There are plays held in the courtyard every summer - I've even been in one of them!
Shakespeare's granddaughter Elizabeth Barnard lived there, and is buried at St Paul's, also on the park site.


There being lots of trees, there are also millions of squirrels. How many can you spot?


 And some of them are very bold and will come right up to you.

There are some really good play parks for the kids, and lots of gym stuff for, erm, adults, too. This one makes you think that gravity has stopped working.


When we got down to the boating lake, it started to pitter patter.

 All these photos were taken in the rain. Very nice lake though. We got chatting to the bailiff who was fishing and had been landing some small tench and perch before the rain. We learned that there are some 20lb carp in this lake. A good fishing lake that OH can walk to with only £15 license fee per year! I think I know what to get him for his birthday now.





Finally, a drizzly picture of "The Pigeonry". More than a simple dovecot, this was originally built as a water tower to pump water for the manor house.
We put up with the rain for a bit before deciding to duck inside for a hot chocolate. No ice creams from the van today. When the rain showed no sign of abating, we braved it again and I think a suggestion of popping into another pub on the way home was briefly considered. Luckily, just as we neared said pub, the rain stopped and we sensibly decided to go home for a nice cuppa instead. Temptation avoided!

Well, we may have been soggy, but it was a nice, energizing walk. Think we did about 5 miles. My knee might need a bit of Voltarol, mind.

We settled in, and watched Being John Malkovitch which we recorded yesterday. Bloody hell, why have we not seen this film before? It is extremely weird and just a bit brilliant. I like weird, me.

Friday, 29 April 2016

The Return of the Wench


Hello everyone. It's been a while, but I've been properly missing the art of oversharing that is keeping a blog.

For a long time, I've not felt like writing, and I thought I might become an audio blogger instead. However, whilst writing things can lead to whimsical musings, tangents and even accidental poignancy, I felt that there was something about the medium of voice-based broadcasting that compelled me to tart up and slick down my personal life musings. Not quite me...That said it was jolly fun to do, so I am feeling tempted to do this and a podcast. Yes, podcast - not audio-blog. And if I'm going to do one of those I might as well make it something worth listening to. Useful and entertaining! (Hopefully.) So look out soon for Confessions of a Frugal Wench. Or another name. I can't think of anything better right now. Froogy McFrugalface?  We'll see.

So since my last update, my life has been more fraught than a soap opera.  Last year I must have angered the Piggy Bank Gods as I had to take on more debt to help OH buy his house and make urgent repairs. As a lifelong careful person, it was a horrible feeling taking on such a large and long-term responsibility. I've worked hard though, and have been able to chip away at it and overpay occasionally, too. It's still huge and scary and will be for some time, but I'm doing all right.

Secondly, it's been a tough year for OH. His health and happiness are my main focus(es), so everything I do is to make sure he is happy and healthy. One of the other big things I have done is to support him in a new career as the old one was a bit pants and driving him crazy. He is a market trader now, and it's early days but just look at that big grin. Job done. It does mean our income is greatly reduced for now while I support him as a business start up, but again, we're fine. Fine, I tell thee!


I've had another huge crisis in my life this year concerning a family member nearly dying and subsequently being very poorly. I don't want to share any more about that, just to say it's had me thinking more about what is precious to me and my life priorities.

I've had to make a bit of space in my life for all these huge issues, and have eased off on the work a bit while I gather my wits. I think giving myself that space has enabled me to start thinking a bit more creatively and recently I've been wrestling with novel plot points and scratching at stories. Makes a change from just working on other people's, and I do believe I like it.


So, low-cost living is newly in focus. Whilst this is proving slightly incompatible with the delights of the pub, I still wanna have a good time. Well, I'm back into reading - big time - and I'm currently reading 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough, with an eye on Chris Beckett's Mother of Eden and Adrian Tchaikovsky's Children of Time next.

I'm trying to grow my Aldi seeds. Think the potatoes are going okay, but nothing is happening at all with the French beans, cauliflower and cabbage. Oh garden, woe is me!

I've been knitting too. I gave up on that fiddly collar, but I'm now working on a jumper made with this gorgeous rainbow Aran - again, from Aldi. The pattern is a vintage one I was given as a present. I swore a lot at this one when I started too, but it looks great now. Aldi wool is awesome. I'm going to have a proper Aran jumper for under £15!!

I am also massively into my true crime podcasts.  Serial, Undisclosed, Truth and Justice, Real Crime Profile and Breakdown. All free, and highly addictive.

Anyway, they say the best things in life are free. What are the free things you do that make you happy? (Keep it clean!)

Friday, 25 September 2015

A Sheep Called Timothy

Hello everyone, recently back from my holidays, I have a late-night recorded audioblog for your listening pleasure.





...and to accompany the recording, here are some photos from beautiful Cornwall.

St Nectan's glen - a magical pilgrimage
The view from the boat in Mevagissey harbour

We almost had Carlyon beach to ourselves

Just outside the youth hostel in Boscastle harbour

The sea! The sea! Looking out from Boscastle harbour

Staring into the blue: OH is poised above the remains of the old lido in Boscastle harbour


Timothy was constantly eating - except when he was knocking the door to come into the bar.

Oh... this is the bread I made. Took it out of the oven just before recording. It wasn't so orangey-pink, that was the lighting.


Sunday, 23 August 2015

Weevils versus Weebils

Hello everyone, I'm back - this time with an audio blog.




And for this post, here is an accompanying picture:

This is a weeble; a happy little egg person.

My knitting so far.

 
 
 

Monday, 8 June 2015

The Big Bad "I Said No"

Hello everyone. I haven't posted for a couple of months, but time has passed nonetheless and I am a little further down the road.

We are on the road to recovery, both in health and finances. It is a long road, but after a period of feeling rather bleak, I hope I am justified in feeling a bit more positive.

My garden needs a lot of work, and it needs to be done as I have looooaaads of seed potatoes to get in the ground. Bought them from a lucky dip for 5.95 including post and packaging and got 100! 40 have gone to my bro. Better start digging for victory!

 Today's blog title comes from another cartoon - this one from the 80s. Remember Stoppit and Tidyup? They tried to do whatever they wanted to do before The Big Bad "I SAID NO" turned up.





Scary... but I have to work out am I trying to be naughty and get away with what I can before the BBISN appears, or am I in fact scared of turning into the Big Bad "I SAID NO"?

Actually, what I'm most scared of is that I sound like the BBISN, whereas in fact I say"Is that a good idea? Are you sure you can afford it? Really? Oh, all right then..." It's a begrudging yes, so the light mood of benevolence and hedonism is still denied and no one relaxes.

At Weight Watchers we talk about diet saboteurs. It's really funny, but I think you can also get savings saboteurs.. and would you Adam and Eve it - very often they can be the same thing!

I need to make a promise to myself that I will listen to the small voice that says "I can't afford this" and just say no to things calmly and with self-assurance.

In the meantime, I've had a bit of a Stoppit and Tidyup moment, and sorted out around 40 books for sale from my book-cluttered office. They're in bags ready to go, and already my office is a nicer place to work. Have I been Kondoed? I think i may have been!




Friday, 27 March 2015

Happy as a Pig...

A friend asked me about my blog the other day, and I told him I had no heart for it at the moment. The problem is I have had a happy ending fail and I didn't know how to write about that... except maybe as a fairy story.

Once upon a time, there was a Pig Princess. DAMMIT I WILL BE A PRINCESS!

And the Princess Pig lived with her Prince in a house of straw.  But the Wolf of Worry kept blowing bits away and the house got smaller and smaller, no matter how hard the Princess kept waving her wand to try to fix it all. No, the wand is not a euphemism, and the wolf was not Taylor Lautner... he's a bit young anyway.

One day the house blew clean away. The Princess ran and ran and found herself a nice little house of bricks, where she would be safe from the Wolf of Worry living all by herself. But that made her sad, and so she was very happy when the handsome Sir Pigalot came along with a big grin on his face and a spring in his tail. And yes, he did have a sword, but it was a proper metal one for reenactments and not what you're thinking.



The Princess left her house of bricks to go and live in a charming house of sticks with the piggie knight. Other piggies went to live in the house of bricks and they paid the Princess in turnips. Yes, turnips. Just go with it.

Anyway, she was very happy (and she still is)... but occasionally the Wolf of Worry pops round and tries to wreck things. If only they were living in a house of bricks, like the one the Princess owns but no, they just have the tumbledown sticks, and they still need to be paid for too. They have enough turnips at the moment (and probably far, far too many judging by their fat little bellies) and in this regard they are so much luckier than a lot of other piggies out there. But at the moment, Sir Pigalot isn't going on many adventures - he's just had enough of fighting dragons and Wolves of Worry all the time. He's not the happy piggy he once was, and the Princess doesn't know what to do.

One day, he'll be a happy piggy again, but we need to find him something to do that doesn't involve fire-breathing dragons.

What adventures could we go on next?

***
With thanks and love to my dear OH who I showed the story to, and who said I could share it.

Hello new follower, Frugal in France. As you can see, it has been a bit echoey round here lately, but I will try to post more often.