Sunday, 25 June 2017

Gluten Free Bread Success

Finally I think I have found a little packet mix that is Gf and tastes good.  I found this packet bread mix in Aldi a few weeks ago and snatched it up as you don't often see any Gf items in there and it has been sat in the back of my cupboard ever since.  Earlier today I though I would give it a try, it was quite difficult to mix as I don't have a food mixer and bread paddle just a small blender with a couple of blades.  After sitting on the worktop for about ten minutes under a tea towel I was pleased to see it had risen, in it went for 35 minutes in a 1lb loaf tin ( well actually a 2lb tin as that was all I had but I put a ramekin in one end as a stopper and shaped foil up to it!) and it came out like this...
I have just tried  a slice with some vegan spread and it is soft and tasty, my only issue now will be if they ever stock it again.  It  is called Bakels gluten free white bread mix, it was 75p and you need a sachet of dry yeast so another 15p there.  Looking at the ingredients I could probably reproduce it if I just do my own flour mix but it is just the initial outlay of buying the expensive flours to start with. 

If anyone sees it on sale anywhere else please let me know because even though it is a packet mix it is still less expensive than the Gf bread I have been buying at £2.39 for a titchy little loaf.  It makes me really cross how much they charge for all the Gf products so I make a point of not buying them now aside from bread that is.  It would be wonderful if I could permanently scratch that off the shopping list as well.

Bread is not the part of a meal it used to be but it is still handy for when I'm at work for dipping in soup or putting beans on, I do like the odd slice of marmite toast too but again this has never been the same since I had to switch to GF bread.  It will be interesting to see how it keeps, I have made Gf bread before and it didn't freeze well but the shop bought ones do (must be all the chemicals!) so hopefully I can freeze a few slices.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Sewing for Children

When my boys were small I would make sleep suits and vests and little jackets with hoods.  As they got  older I didn't make as much day to day wear as the choices for fabric for boys was not as inspiring and often worked out as expensive as buying ready made.  However I always made  them dressing up clothes, it used to be power rangers in every colour, pirates, Peter Pan which later became Robin Hood and anything they came up with I would make. 

There has been opportunities to work on the dresses of friends children over the years including a couple of flower girl dresses and some every day wear.  These have been shared before but as I was asked last week to do some more it reminded me and I looked through the pictures, here are a couple.

I really enjoyed making these and my former colleague said she is going to have a look at fabrics and get in touch, apparently this little style is quite hard to get in her daughters size.  The little hair slides were also quick to make.

Another dress I enjoyed making was this flower girl dress, the fabrics were beautiful and that is often the difference with having something made.

People often have flower girl dresses shipped in from China only to find they are tissue paper thin and don't live up to the photographs. It is worth finding someone local who can make these sort of items for children, that way you get exactly what you want and it is more unique.

It is wonderful to see so many bloggers sewing for their own children, I really enjoy seeing all the different creations and while my boys are teenagers now and don't want mum sewing their clothes they still come to me with repairs and sleeves to be shortened.  I look forward to making little items for friends in the future.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Quick Hanging Basket

My husband came home  from work today with a hanging basket he picked up at Home bargains at lunch time, it was £2.50.  That will do, seeing as the one we saw made up  the other day was £12.   I had plants already from the ones I bought on Sunday so it was up in no time.  I know you can get the plastic ones for about £5 but they usually only have about two plants in and I think the actual basket on this one is much better.

After tea I finished the other bridesmaid dress, so that is another  job out of the way and finished off the miracle morning the book I couldn't get on with last time.  After looking back I couldn't see if I had posted about it before but anyway it was better this time.  It mostly focuses on having a good positive morning routine that starts early and leads you towards getting more done. 

 I do wonder if I enjoy certain books more depending on what mood I am in to begin with, does anyone else feel this way?  The part about habits feels spot on , I know there are things I have been doing for years which come easily because they are routine.  In short if we get through the first, difficult weeks of forming a new habit and make it to a month we will have incorporated it into our lives.  There are a few good habits I would like to add.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Hemming a Bridesmaid Dress

This week I have been asked to take up two dresses for a lady used to work with, they are a very pretty chiffon on top,  so two layers to deal with.  When I have something like this I like to take my time, items for myself are usually rattled off in a hurry but not things I do for other people.

A few people have mentioned to me that they are over cautious about taking up skirts and dresses, any skirts at all that is.  If you measure accurately where you want the skirt to finish and put a line of pins there this will keep you on track, don't rush! I take longer with this part if it is something is special than the actual sewing because once you have this bit right that is most of the work done.

It is a bit crumpled I know, not my doing they are both folded into small bags I think they have been ordered from somewhere.  That faint line of pins you can see is the finished length so I will leave an inch below that and cut there, it is double thickness here so both pieces will be folded towards each other so no raw edges are visible.  To get my finish length I measured 5 inch up all the way along the bottom as that was how much I was told.

I had  a little dip there so I sorted that, now the pins in this picture have been moved as I carefully folded the layers up in line with the original pins then replaced them to keep both layers in place. It was then stitched close to the edge.   I then repeated the process with the chiffon layer but this time I only took off 4 inch  so it would hang below.  One  dress down and then I was very hot, so I will finish dress two tomorrow and share a few more pictures.  The cool shower  I had when I came home from work has worn off so no more sewing this evening.

Food this evening consisted of chickpeas, onions , tomatoes, garlic and all manner of other things cooked in a pan with spices, no recipe to follow just throwing in whatever I fancied and it was delicious.  It makes me wonder why I bother with the formal recipes at times, more success seems to be  had with the throw it all in pan method.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Just Gardening

Today has been mainly a case of getting on with the garden, we go through phases I think where we believe we are on top of it and then we leave it for a while and there is nothing in the pots and the weeds creep in.  So while we have it fairly low maintenance anyway it was time to put a bit of colour in, and pull a few more of those weeds.  Hottest day I think so not the easiest task but there will always be an excuse so we got on and did a bit, there is still a lot of topsoil needed for a bed down the side but that was not something to be bought at the local garden centre.  It can be bought cheaper and delivered in a larger quantity I think.

We didn't go too mad, we bought a couple of dahlias yesterday and another today and a few packs of bedding plants at 3 for £6.  It has made the front of the house look a bit brighter and filled a couple of pots on the back, I still need to do the hanging basket, there are plants left for this but we decided the actual basket had seen better days so we need o source another in the next couple of days.
A few on the front

A dahlia for each side of the door, I already had all the pots.

There is actually a grape vine in this pot that never has any grapes.

Amazing what a difference a few flowers can make but of course the sun is also shining and that always puts a better light on everything too.

I have started to re-read The Miracle Morning which I originally read and said it wasn't very good but now it feels altogether different, funny how that happens sometimes and the saying goes you are not who you were a year ago so this time around I am getting something from it. It does make me wonder about all those books that have gone to the charity shop though because I thought they were rubbish, maybe if I had held on to them  I would have enjoyed them at a later date.

That last thought however brings me on to something I was thinking about earlier in relation to clutter. The bottom of my wardrobe seems to have got out of control and I was tidying it and adding the shoe racks when I thought 'what happened to getting rid of an item a day?'  Now that was something I started a while ago as a war on stuff but it has somehow been neglected, so I am beginning again to remove one item a day (it doesn't matter how small) of useless stuff from my life.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Charity Shop Finds

What a scorcher it has been today! We have only just walked the dogs as it has been too hot all day but really it is still baking out there now, I am not complaining it has felt like being on holiday today. I was outside drinking tea and reading at six this morning, washing out, exercise done and house all vacuumed before nine.  It makes me wonder why I can't be more productive every morning, I will try and keep it up.

We didn't go that far today but had a lovely time, we called in the charity shop to drop some items off and I saw this lovely dress, it's a size twelve so will need taking in a bit and also maxi length so I will cut a lot off the bottom but the fabric is gorgeous.
Just a quick photo on the chair before it went in the machine, but you get the idea.

I  also spotted a shoe rack for a couple of pounds which is amazing because I was just staring at the jumble of shoes in my wardrobe yesterday and thinking I need a shoe rack, and I came across one just like that.  Now to organise them, some are boots and trainers but it will be easier to keep tidy with them stacked.

We popped in the library to return a book and got these two from the new books shelf...

Hot Milk has been started already as I sat outside in the sun grabbing a bit of vitamin D, it is off to a good start.  Lunch was also outside but in the shade, you have to make the most of these sunny days. There was also quite a bit of weeding and a couple of plants bought for the pots which have been empty for ages, we need to get a couple more cheap and cheerful ones tomorrow. It is one of those things, I like to see the garden looking nice but when you buy the plants and they seem to have a short life it makes me grumpy.  Hopefully the few we buy will give a bit of colour for a good while. 

Friday, 16 June 2017

A Dress for June

Today I finished off the dress I started with the material I bought in Devon, it cost a grand total of five pound so nice and thrifty the way I like it.  I already had matching thread and it evolved somewhat as I went along.

It began quite a bit longer then I decided I don't like them that length and chopped off the bottom, the sleeves were also longer, then one had elastic but that that didn't quite work with this fabric so out it came!  Then I shortened those as well, I tried it on and decided the neckline was a little dull so I cut a line down the front, faced it with some cotton and added some ribbon loops and a ribbon tie.  The loops were made from the hanger tabs you get at the shoulders in clothing but no one ever uses.

I have taken a few photos some on the mannequin and some on me.  It is a light fabric so I may add a quick skirt lining using some cotton or satin I have already, I like my skirts to feel like they won't blow up or even if they did to have a lining safely underneath so it is likely that is what I'll do.

It has an elasticated waist so can be worn without a belt.

After taking this photo I made a little loop for my belt as the excess was annoying me when it kept falling down.

Now I do like dresses and especially summery ones but the reality of it is we only get a short time to wear them here in England, so I will definitely be making a top of some sort with the other piece of fabric then at least I can wear it with jeans on a dull wet day with a jacket on if I go out.

Sad news for the day is that I had another disaster from Vegan food magazine.  This time it was buns, they looked good again, the ingredients looked promising but as I was mixing it I thought the consistency looked wrong. They were just like rubber, awful!  Right now they are in the bin and I am annoyed at the waste of food again.
Now I know that they weren't over cooked as I tested them at the required time and they were still catching on the fork so they just had an additional few minutes.  I know it is harder with specialist flours but even cakes I have thrown together myself with GF flour have come out better than this, grrr!   They were almond and cherry in case you were wondering.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

A Fab School Trip

Today I had the treat of accompanying Y6 on their trip to Crucial Crew in Rotherham. This was a really interesting day out and I am sure the children got lots out of it, I had heard about it as both of my children had been on the trip in Y6 but as I mainly work with younger children I had never been myself.

If you are not familiar with this, the whole place is set up like a film set so that the children can experience and learn about different personal safety situations in a lifelike setting.  A lot of the staff are volunteers but some are employees of the fire service, police and St John ambulance etc.  I felt it gave them a taste of what could happen in a way that we couldn't in school. Anyway this may not be of interest to everyone but I just thought I would share as education often gets a bad rap and we fail to celebrate all the wonderful work that goes on. Thank you to all the staff and volunteers at the Lifewise Centre Rotherham

Dinner today was very simple just some veggie roll things for me with a baked potato and beans and fish for my husband and younger son. The thing is I really enjoyed it, so I spend all this time trying to find new recipes and faffing about in the kitchen and the thing I enjoy the most all week is just the easiest, throw in the oven meal.

That is my working week done for this week and I really can't explain what a difference it has made to have Friday off.  Of course it  reduced my income but as I watch what I spend this has not made big difference.  Everyone lives to their means so you naturally make adjustments as your circumstances change, the only difference being I chose to reduce my hours.  

We are not all the same and I know some people recoil at the thought of buying second hand, DIY, home cooking and sewing their own clothes but for many these pursuits are not only money savers but also hobbies.  Time is precious and I don't think you can buy peace, so if you ae feeling overwhelmed have a look at where you can cut costs it might just save you a day a week.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Bits and Pieces

A few random bits today grouped under one heading, the first being the pieces of my dress that I am in the middle of making.  I did mention that I needed tops and that is still the case but the piece of fabric was big enough for a dress so it seemed a waste not to make one and have a big bit left over.

I still have unused patterns left from the sewing magazines that I got at Christmas but as I didn't like one of the patterns I tried I have just returned to cutting around my own clothing.  This always seems to work for me and the fit is much better with my try as I go approach.

Now this is the fabric that changes colour in different lighting, I have decided to do an elastic waist which will then have a belt worn over it and small sleeves, I am undecided at this point whether to line the dress or not.

Last week I decided to buy Vegan Food and Living magazine, I am not a fan of magazines in general as they are usually full of advertisements and  a bit of a waste of money.  The only reason I requested a couple at Christmas was because they contained free patterns so I had been debating with myself if it would be worth the five pounds to buy one about food.

Well I bit the bullet and it has been quite an interesting read  but sadly the first recipe I tried did not go down well.  My husband politely ate it but told me after it was bland, I felt the same to be honest and youngest son just said this is horrible.  Oh dear! 

It was three bean paella and did look promising in the photo and ingredients but I hate it when that happens as you feel like you have wasted time and money, I ate all that was on my plate I mean it was healthy if not that tasty but with so many flavours in there I am baffled as  how it could taste so dull.   I took left overs the next day to work not being one to waste food but it tasted even worse and did end up in the bin.  Here is the magazine photo...
Now I probably won't try everything in the magazine but I have decided to at least try one new recipe a week from it for the next few weeks, I will keep you posted and won't let this little mishap put me off.

The magazine did have some interesting reading and not that many ads so I was pleasantly surprised at that but I won't be buying every month as I don't think it is necessary, they do have interesting content on their website.
I find it quite amusing that the Buda bowls on the front cover are considered a recipe, surely that is just arranging different foods in a bowl? 

At the moment I am still reading this book...
It is good but it is one of those that seem to take forever and I had promised myself I would read more by authors of some depth, the thing is I can't just whip through them and I tend to stop and think for a while, or sometimes think 'what?' as there are some strange goings on.

Also getting a repeat read through was this little book...
Very short but such a lot of wisdom, I know the message so well but just need a reminder from time to time, we are what we think.

Today has been a beautiful day and I have had a lovely walk with the dogs when I got in from work, early finish today out on a school trip all day tomorrow.  There was also a bit of sitting outside with a cup of tea what a difference the sun can make.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Kale and Mushroom Risotto (Vegan)

Just recently I have been browsing lots of recipes, I feel the need to add some new ideas to what I eat as I have been rehashing the same recipes for a while now.  I think this is mainly because you come home from work and make the things you know will work, everyone (or some of you!) will eat and that don't take too long. The other reason is that I hate it when you come across recipes that require lots of ingredients that you don't have and may never use again.  This can be a waste, so often it puts me off.

While on holiday I made a recipe I saw in a Tesco magazine that was in the cottage we stayed in, tender stem broccoli with chilli and rice.  Now I ended spending a bit on ingredients there but I feel I will use them again as the dish went down well.

Yesterday I made Curried lentil balls from the Vegan Food and Living website, I forgot to take photographs but it was so nice and I have saved a portion for in the week.  Today we haven't strayed from home at all as we need to keep an eye on the little dog who is ill, he needs rest and can only have small amounts of food but I have to say he appears much better today and keeps trying to get the other two dogs to play.  I decided to cook some lunch and use what I have in so here is what I made...

Kale and Mushroom Risotto

300/400g of white rice (the cheap stuff)
100g of red lentils
1 veg stock cube
1 red chilli
2 garlic cloves
75g Kale
50g mushrooms
1 teaspoon Oregano
1 tablespoon Nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 cup vegan cheese sauce ( made with hot water and powder from Holland and Barret)
salt and pepper to taste
Boiled water as required
olive oil
1 small grated piece of Prosociano vegan cheese from Tesco (if desired)


Wash and finely chop kale, chilli and one garlic clove, fry in the pan for a few minutes until the kale has halved in size.  Transfer to a plate and set aside, heat oil in the pan and fry the rice and lentils for a few minutes gently then add the stock. 

After a few minutes as the stock cooks down begin to add more water as required from a boiled kettle.

While the rice and lentils cook slice the mushrooms, after about fifteen minutes add the mushrooms and the other crushed garlic clove, cook for five minutes more then add the kale mixture, cheese sauce, oregano and yeast flakes.

Keep stirring as it cooks down and begins to stick, about another five minutes, add seasoning and serve. I added grated Prosociano vegan cheese once it was cooked and stirred through, I bought this on holiday and while it is not cheap I really like it and you only need a little.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Half Term Break

We have just returned from a break in Devon, we came home early as one of the dogs is ill so while he is resting beside me I thought I would update here a little. 

We stayed in a property that was converted from an old barn, it was very nicely done with lots of little touches like fresh flowers in  every room.  It had a living room upstairs with a nice balcony overlooking the owners land, very private and quiet. It was close to Barnstaple and we also visited Woolacomb and Bude while we were there.

The dogs loved being on the beach the downside being that now I am worried that it was something from the beach that has made the little one ill.

The photographs above are from the two days we actually had sunshine as mostly it was grey and overcast, in typical fashion it was glorious all day yesterday as we travelled home. We enjoyed the change of scene it is just a shame it was cut short.

I did spot a little fabric shop in Bude and bought two pieces of fabric...
This is a stretch chiffon.

This one is quite unusual, you can't see in this picture but it is brown in the daylight and green when you are inside.

I really want to do dresses with both but what I need are more tops as in reality that is what I will be wearing with jeans when I'm home walking the dogs.  Some thinking required first before I decide perhaps.

Another Shift Dress

The dress I made today is from the free New Look pattern I got with Sew magazine last month. It is very similar to the scuba dress I made bu...