£1 grog: How to make wine on the cheap (using fruit juice!)

The world needs more cheap booze.  Wine and beer are damn expensive. Clearly, the answer is to make your own.

I’ll come clean, to start with:  I am not a winemaker.  I am a total amateur.  BUT, you can use ingredients from the supermarket, equipment from a car-boot sale and be up and running this weekend for the same price as a bottle or two of wine from Asda… and after about 3 weeks you’ll end up with 15 bottles of the good stuff.

So how do you do it with no prior knowledge without it tasting flippin’ awful?

Like this… Continue reading

Vintage Linen is too Good to Part With…

Whilst sorting through our stuff (yes, this process is taking forever) I decided I really should do something about my endless supply of vintage linen. Doilies, place mats, napkins, handkerchiefs, the list goes on and on and I just didn’t think I’d be able to use all of it. I’ve already sold a lot of my lace trims, and I’ve given other stuff away, but what about these larger items? We used a lot of them for our wedding, so I was struggling to part with them. I was laying them out on the table to go through them when it occurred to me that they would make a great patchwork, and as we don’t have a tablecloth, it seemed like the ideal thing to make!

I positioned them all out on the table and pinned them together. I then ran them through the machine, zig zagging them together. This probably wasn’t the correct way to do it, there was a bit of buckling and ruching, but hey! I’m still learning! The result is a little rough around the edges, but I like it that way, and more importantly, I used my linen for something genuinely useful!

WP_20140609_007

WP_20140609_002

WP_20140609_004

Sugar free Jelly Worm Recipe

WP_20140605_010

Sugar is a big no no in our house. Don’t get me wrong, I have an obscene sweet tooth, but if the toddler so much as walks past the sugar bowl she becomes possessed by some sort of hideous toddler demon that is out for your soul! For a while I worried about ADD or hyperactivity, but it soon became clear that it was the sugary treats that was turning her into the very epitome of the terrible twos. Once I started to cut out pure fruit juice, chocolate, commercial ice lollies etc. we had our lovely happy daughter back. That is, until she goes to her grandparents and comes back kneed deep in marshmallows and chocolate buttons!

Of course, I don’t want her to miss out. Her diet was already slightly limited by her peanut allergy, so no sugar knocked even more items off her possible treat list. I started doing some research and found a wealth of recipes online. Unfortunately, the ones that replace chocolate recipes usual include peanut butter, so that’s a no go, but I did find one for jelly worms. She does love a gummy sweet, and she also loves worms, so I thought I’d give them a go. They were super simple and went down a storm. Now all I hear is “Can I have 1 wiggly red thing please mummy. No, two wiggly red things!”

 

Ingredients

  • 2 packets of sugar free jelly crystals
  • 3 packets of gelatine, or 3 leaves
  • 1 cup of water

Soak the gelatine leaves if you’re using them. Bung all of the ingredients into a saucepan and simmer until everything is dissolved. I then lined a lasagne dish with clingfilm and poured it in there. It should be a 1cm approx layer across the bottom of your container. Then out it in the fridge. It sets pretty quickly, I think it was in there for barely an hour. Then turn it out carefully and cut into strips. Hey presto, jelly worms. AND no more toddler tantrums! Bonus!

Saving money with LED lighting – a review

WP_20140604_003

It is no secret that I love a bargain, so when the lovely Jen at MyMakeDoandMendYear  featured an article about LED lighting with a giveaway I was pretty excited. We switched to energy saving lightbulbs when we moved into our current home, and although they have saved us money, they give me the most chronic headaches. The yellow dim glow just isn’t good enough, which means I don’t really put the lights on very much. This leads to Jamie constantly announcing that it is ” like a morgue in here” (which is ridiculous, as outside of horror films, I imagine them to be brightly lit, but anyhoo)…

So I commented on how I was looking for alternative lighting and would love to try an LED bulb out, and I was promptly sent one to try. I asked for a narrow lamp fitting, as I wasn’t sure what light fittings were available in my new house, so thought it best to get one I could bring with me. I tried it out and I wasn’t dissappointed, the light was immediate instead of being a slow build up as with the energy saving bulbs, and it has a nice cosy glow, instead of the dim yellow one that makes my head hurt so much.  Most important of all, I was amazed to read about the savings I could make by moving to LED lighting. As our new house has some halogen light fittings I think it’ll be well worth an investment. Just to show you those savings, here is the infographic that accompanied my new bulb

Won’t Cost the Earth – An infographic by LightBulbs-Direct to promote the Benefits of LED Bulbs for ‘Big Energy Saving Week’. To view the full image click here.

 

Disclamer, I was asked to review this bulb in exchange for a sample.

My Japanese Potato Salad recipe

WP_20140207_003

As you can probably guess, we eat a lot of Japanese food in this house. It’s healthy, easy to cook, and absolutely delicious! One of my favourite things to have in the fridge is Japanese Potato salad. It isn’t necessarily very healthy, but it is incredibly scrummy, and can also be a great way of using up bits and bobs in the fridge! This recipe isn’t strictly the ‘proper’ way of making it, it’s just a simpler way of doing it that works for us! If you don’t have Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise for this recipe, then normal is fine, but there is a recipe here for Kewpie style mayonnaise that tastes pretty much the same!

 

Ingredients

  • 1 medium potato
  • 2 boiled eggs
  • ham or cooked bacon
  • mayonaise (preferably Japanese if you can get it!)
  • spring onions

Peel and boil the potato whole. It is done when you can easily push a chopstick through it. This takes longer than you think! Mash together the eggs and mayonnaise. Slice the ham or bacon up into tiny rectangles and stir through.  Mash the potato and add the spring onions. You can also cook some cabbage or onion to add  to the spring onions. Mix the egg mixture to the potato until it is a smooth consistency, adding more mayonnaise if you need to. Feel free to add any cooked vegetable that needs using up!

That’s it! It keeeps in the fridge for a couple of days, but chances are, it won’t last that long! You can eat it however you want. I like to eat it from the fridge, with a spoon!

Finishing up toddler makes – a frugal birthday and some dressmaking

Whilst I’ve been sorting out the house and packing ready for our big move, I’ve also been making sure that I’ve finished all my WIPs and projects. The last thing I want is to move with lots of half finished things in project bags that could get lost or damaged in transit. I’ve started with the smaller things, socks and such that I’ve started, and most importantly, I’ve finished the Toddler’s birthday presents! Continue reading

Home made Washing Powder

WP_20140526_002

I actually made this quite a while ago and I’m down to my last cupful, but I thought I would share this recipe with you as I’ll be definitely making it again. It contains borax substitute which isn’t particularly easy to get hold of. If you can pick it up from a local hardware store then that’s fantastic and it will definitely save you money. I had to get it from Amazon for around £3. This meant that the whole box (around 50 washes) cost about £5.50. That’s not as cheap as it would be if you could source borax substitute cheaply, but still cheaper than most washing powders. Not only that, but I know what is in it. My daughter and myself both have sensitive skin and allergies and have been fine with this powder, which is more than you can say for some of the big brands.

This powder is great, but you will have to use a stain remover or pre soak for tough stains. No different to commercial powders there really, but it does clean your clothes well and you don’t need to use as much. I use 2 tbs per load and it does fine. Also, you can add a scent to your powder in the drawer. Anything you like really. At the moment I’m using a strawberry diffuser oil thingy, but check that what you use won’t ruin your machine!

The recipe I use is

  • 500g of borax substitute
  • 750g of soda crystals
  • 3 household soaps
  • 3 cheap body soaps

You can use all household soap, or all normal soap. You can buy 3 bars of body soap for 50p in Sainsburys. You need to grate the soap so it is really fine. This will no doubt hurt your hands! It certainly did mine! If you find the soap pieces are a bit big then you can use a stick blender to break them up a bit. Mix the soap pieces with the other ingredients. Make sure that you are wearing gloves and that you don’t stand with your face over it, you will taste soap for days! Once it’s mixed together you can use it right away, all you need to do is give it a little shake everytime you use it to ensure it is evenly distributed. Et voilà! Home made washing powder!

Freegan Treasure – what a find!

I’ve not written a blog post in an awfully long time! You see, we’re trying to buy a house, and as I sure you’re well aware, it is the single most stressful thing ever. We seem to be paying various people lots of money, and I’m doing all their work for them! Anyhoo, we’ve also been super busy sifting through all our rubbish and clearing it out.  Continue reading

My DIY skirt

I’ve been glued to the telly for weeks watching the Great British Sewing Bee. If you don’t know what this is, it is a program where amateur sewers make 3 garments every week which are judged on fit, technical skill and creativity. One is voted off every week until eventually one is crowned Britain’s best amateur sewer.  Continue reading

Homemade Coffee syrup

I don’t like shopping at Sainsburys, some of their prices are ridiculous, but it happens to be the closest supermarket to my house, and if I need to pick up a couple of bits and don’t want to walk into town, I grit my teeth and go. I’ve been going more often recently, as they are the only shop that sells the Japanese ingredients I have been using.

On one of my recent trips, I noticed a few bits on the reduced section. They are usually very stingy with their reduced food, and they never reduce fresh food, which is suspicious. I did see that they had some baking goods, in particular cinnamon sugar, reduced from £2.99 to 39p.

WP_20140307_001

Ordinarily I’d whinge and moan about how I could make cinnamon sugar myself at home, but this time I bought it. I had something in mind. I had recently won a competition on Twitter and been sent a lot of coffee samples. Now, I like coffee, but I have a really sweet tooth, so when I saw this, I decided to make coffee syrup from it.

It was so quick and easy, I just added the sugar to the pan, and then used the pot to measure out the same amount of water, then I heated it on the hob until the sugar had dissolved. I then used this cut glass jug I got from a charity shop to store it in.

WP_20140307_003

Now I have delicious coffee shop grade drinks at an absolute fraction of the price. The syrup should last for quite a while, and it cost the same price as a shot of syrup at the coffee shop!