Sunday, 27 October 2013

Mum's Virtual Tea Party

Everyone is invited to Mum's Virtual Tea Party on Sunday 27th October hosted by Mum's Simply Living Blog, you don't have to have a blog, more details here.

I love a good tea party don't you? One with lots of sandwiches and cake and pots and pots of tea.
Anyone care for a cup of tea?


Sugar, one lump or two?

And how about a little something to nibble upon?

I' rather fond of Tunnock Teacakes, how about you?

Saturday, 26 October 2013

10 Things about Halloween

Gladys Gladrags is taking part in The Haunted Halloween Tea Part hosted by  A Fanciful Twist so here goes 10 things you might not know about Halloween and Halloween customs:

 Did you know that the custom of trick or treating is believed to have developed from a medieval custom called souling?
 The poor would go from door to door asking for food in return for prayers for the dead.

And do you know why folk dress up for Halloween?
Why to fool the spirits that are wandering on All Hallow's Eve when the veil between the world of the living and the dead is said to be at it's thinnest.

Do you know the legend of the Jack O Lantern?
 Apparently Jack tricked the devil into agreeing never to collect his soul. Unfortunately for Jack when he died he wasn't allowed into Heaven and because of the agreement the Devil had made he wasn't allowed into hell either. Jack's spirit was left to wander the earth moaning about how dark it was. Someone took pity on Jack and tossed him a lump of glowing coal which he put into a hollowed out pumpkin which he now uses to light his way - especially on Halloween!

And did you know that large turnips (swedes, rutabaga) were once used to make Jack O Lanterns in the UK?
Pumkins were very much a North American crop but now they are very popular in the UK too and they make a far more dramatic, and easier to carve Jack O Lantern.

Do you know why orange and black are such popular Halloween colours?
Well orange is a symbol of strength and endurance and black symbolizes death and darkness. These two colours  symbolize the demarcations between life and death and as the veil between the living world and the world of the dead is said to be at it's thinnest during Halloween they have been adopted as Halloween colours.

And did you know that some people suffer from a Halloween phobia?
No me neither but they do and it's called Samhainophobia.

Do you know that Halloween is also known as Samhain?
Samhain is a Celtic festival, a pagan sabbat, that marks the end of harvest.

And did you know that Samhain / Halloween is also The Celtic New Year?
In the old Celtic calendar the New Year began at sunset on Samhain.

Do you know that Halloween is the perfect time for scrying, trying to see the future?
There are many ancient Halloween traditions for trying to see into the future, especially for finding out who you are going to marry.

And did you know that Halloween is a time to honour  the dead?
Many cultures honour their dead and remember their ancestors at this time of year in a way we do it too with Remembrance Sunday in November.

(Image copyright James Caton)

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

A Haunted Halloween Tea Party

It looks like it's the season for tea parties, and yes Gladys Gladrags will be joining in Vanessa's  Halloween Tea Party on Saturday October 26th.

If you'd like to join in take a look at A Fanciful Twist for more details.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Wild Damson Gin and Sloe Gin recipes

Do you see them? High up in the tree. Yes wild damsons are still to be found as indeed are sloes if you look around the hedgerows so with Christmas in mind here are our recipes for both Damson Gin and Sloe Gin. Make them now and they'll be ready to decant for the festive season. They do make rather super gifts if you can bare to share:

Damson Gin
You'll need:
1lb/454gm of washed wild damsons
 6 ozs/168gm of white sugar
 75cl of gin
Large sterilised jar

Prick the washed damsons with a fork or something and put in the jar, add sugar and gin. Shake daily but keep the jar out of sunlight. Around Christmas time strain off the liqueur and bottle.

Sloe Gin
You'll need:
 1lb/454gm of washed sloes
4 ozs/112gm of white granulated sugar
 75cl of gin
Large sterilised jar
 Prick the washed sloes with a fork or something and put in the jar, add sugar and gin. Shake daily but keep the jar out of sunlight. Around Christmas time strain off the liqueur and bottle.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Joining in ~ Mum's Virtual Tea Party

Sometimes it's nice to join in with other bloggers so I'll be attending Mum's Virtual Tea Party on Sunday 27th October hosted by Mum's Simply Living Blog. If you'd like to attend you can find more details here.

A Video Guide to Fermenting Vegetables

Want to try fermenting vegetables as a means of preservation, then take a look at this Sandor Katz video as he takes you through the process of making saurkraut:

Saturday, 12 October 2013

How to divide up (split) Aloe Vera plants and pot up to give as a gift

 Aloe Vera is sometimes known as the miracle burn plant because of the Aloe Vera gel's ability to heal and soothe burns. Apparently the Native Americans used the gel to ease sunburn.
A Aloe Vera plant would make a great gift for someones kitchen window sill, here's how to "make" your own.
  Obviously you'll need an Aloe Vera plant to start off with, it will quickly produce new plants on runners.You can see them sprouting around the edges in this pot. All you have to do is knock the plant from its' pot and gently prise away the baby plants.

 These can then be potted up individually in the container of your choice.

For something different how about using a mug?
If you get the babies potted up earlier enough you can grow them on for Christmas presents, they make great gifts for teacher and an unusual hostess gift.
Don't forget to add a homemade tag explaining that the Aloe Vera is the miracle burn plant, something like:
To Heal Burns: Break off one leaf at the base of the plant and squeeze the gel onto the burn.

Friday, 11 October 2013

How to Decorate (Ice) Halloween Biscuits (Cookies) a Video Tutorial from Biscuiteers

Biscuiteers make and sell the most glorious biscuits, chocolates and cakes and they send them all over the world (not the cakes). Trouble is they aren't exactly within my budget at the moment at £30.00 for a mini tin of 9 sugar skull biscuits BUT, kind folk that they are, they have produced a super little video showing us how to ice our own Halloween skull cookies. Of course once you learn the technique the world's your oyster so to speak and you can come up with all sorts of wonderful iced biscuits at a fraction of the cost. They'd make marvellous pressies.

Monday, 7 October 2013

How to Dry Hydrangeas - A Homemade Thrifty Christmas Post - A Bouquet of Hydrangeas

Hydrangea drying 002
A "bouquet" of dried Hydrangea flowers would make a stunning gift this Christmas and if you get started now it could cost you absolutely nothing other than your time but that's dependent on your choice of wrapping.

Hydrangeas couldn't be easier to dry. In fact they are so obliging that they can be left to dry on the shrub.
But, if you'd like petals with some colour that are a little  less crunchy you can dry them using the water dried method, it's very easy.

Simply cut your flowers with a 12" stem, strip the leaves and place in a vase in fresh water. Put them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and leave. When the water has  evaporated the flowers will have dried and be ready for you to wrap as you choose. How about:

Packaging some long stems in a box with tissue paper of flowers - so glamorous.
Wrapping a bouquet with vintage sheet music
a remnant of beautiful fabric
some newspaper or brown paper with a gorgeous bow.
Making an arrangement in a vintage vase found at the charity shop or car boot.
Using the heads to make a wreath.

Add a homemade tag, you could make one from a brown luggage label, and present!

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Cardboard Costumes for Halloween

How thrifty is this? Make your own costume from cardboard, you can get boxes for free from the supermarket and it's good for the planet to recycle and reuse too!

Cardboard Kid Costumes! from maxwell ryan on Vimeo.

Tinned Potato Bake with Bacon and Cheese Sauce - Fab Frugal Food

So here is one of my Fabulous Frugal Food recipes. This potato bacon and cheese dish is real comfort food especially on a cold day, very quick to make and cheap as well.

I use one tin of supermarket value potatoes (currently 17p per can)  per person but if you haven't a very large appetite or you wanted to serve as a side dish one tin would do two people.

Fry chopped bacon until cooked meantime slice the potatoes and put in an oven proof dish, when the bacon and onion are cooked mix with the potatoes, season as required and add cheese sauce.

Grate some cheese on top and pop in a medium oven until heated through. And that's all there is to it. Serve with chunks of wholemeal bread.

As for the cheese sauce you can make your own with milk, cheese, flour buy a packet mix to make with milk or as shown here use Bisto cheese sauce granules (99p a tub of several servings from 99p Shop). The Bisto cheese sauce only requires the addition of boiling water making it the most frugal option.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Looking for thrifty ways to get the washing dry.

As we gradually enter into Autumn I'm once again presented with the age old dilemma of how to get the washing dry. Today three bath towels have hung on the line all day and are only fractionally less wet than when they went out there. 

So what to do?

In a bid to reduce the electricity bill I'm trying to avoid using the tumble drier which is a bit old and inefficient anyway.

Haven't resorted to putting the heating on yet so can't dry them off on the radiators.

The Frugal Queen suggests  "Hang your clothes outside to dry, on on a clothes rack indoors. Clothes will take around 24 hours to dry." Unfortunately this doesn't seem to be happening though I guess I do need to give them another 12 hours or so, let's hope it stays dry.

I remember once reading a frugal tip about towels and that was not to use them but to dry yourself with a face flannel instead. I imagine that would save loads on the washing / drying but somehow I'm just not ready for that yet and it would certainly be a step too far for the rest of the family.

So any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Image:Alex Proimos licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Thrifty or Frugal

Lately I've been reading quite a lot of blogs with the word "frugal" in the name which led me to ask thrifty or frugal?

Thrifty definition:

"using money and other resources carefully and not wastefully"

Frugal definition:

"sparing or economical as regards money or food"

So the same thing really, now all I need to do is figure how to BE thrifty or frugal!

Definitions from Oxford Dictionaries