Friday 28 June 2013


Subject to the usual legal stuff I am thrilled to announce that we accepted an offer on the house this afternoon.  I finally get to move on with my new life.  Once all the costs are worked out and we divide the proceeds 50/50 I should have enough to buy a nice house in a nice area for me and the Teenager.

It's been a long process over 2 and a half years. At times it was very stressful and I thought I'd never make it.  But here I am, proof that there is life after divorce. And it's a pretty great life.  I have a wonderful family and great friends.  But best of all I have an amazing partner.

I am a very lucky girl to get a second chance at love and life.

Thursday 27 June 2013

Lilac heart jacket

Middle son who now lives in Vienna was home briefly for a holiday.  He had left a lot of stuff behind last year so was sorting what he didn't want/need any more.

This is a white cotton jacket about 4 years old.  It was bit grubby so I washed it then chucked it back in the machine with a packet of French Lavender dye.  It came out a pretty lilac colour.

It was nice but a bit boring.  So I went to my quilting fabric stash and cut out some triangles and used some iron on sticky stuff (loads of brands are available but can't remember which one this is as I've had it a while)

I arranged them in a heart shape on the back of the jacket, inspired by a patchwork pic I'd saved from the net ages ago.

A little pinning and ironing took place, followed by a lot of machine stitching.  That took forever as I had to unpick one side of the lining to get access to make the back lie flat for stitching.  Each wee triangle (19 of them!!) was a bugger to stitch.  And all those thread ends.......

But I'm happy with result.  The zips are nylon so remained white but they're a nice feature against the lilac colour.

And the heart turned out great!  My triangles moved a little during stitching so the final placement is a bit 'neater' than my original plan.

So for a day's work I have a new jacket that didn't cost me any money. I might put it on Etsy to sell.

Saturday 22 June 2013

Refashioned clothes

Remember that plain white shirt? Here it is after dyeing it red.  What I didn't realise was that the thread wasn't cotton so it stayed white!  But it looks good with the white contrasting against the red.

I cut off the big collar and left a small mandarin style one.  I shortened the sleeves.

I removed the buttons hoping to replace them with red ones but I didn't have enough in my stash.  So I had to sew the original ones back on!

Can you tell I'm rather pleased with it? :-)

Remember this shapeless dress?  I unpicked the back darts which were in a weird place and chopped the bottom off.

Summery floral tunic style top!

An M&S cotton wrinkle dress 2 sizes too big, weird colour combination and one of the straps was actually sewn twisted!!  I removed the bottom layer and re jigged the straps.

I would have liked to alter the bodice but it's asymmetrical and one side has a zip.  Don't think I'd wear it in public but good for pottering round the garden.

None of the above cost me a penny as they were all donated by my lovely mum.  Even the red dye was free!

Can't beat free clothes :-)

Friday 21 June 2013

Forward planning

While I'm hopeful that things are about to happen I'm not counting my chickens yet.  But I can't just sit and do nothing so I'm planning ahead.  I'm trying to use up stuff in my freezers so they can be moved empty.  I found 2 bags of blackcurrants from my mum's garden at the bottom of one.  While I like them they're a bit too tart for me just using them on their own.  So I decided to make some cassis which I can use for gifts.

Blackcurrants plus sugar and topped up with cheap gin or vodka.  Shake once a day until all the sugar has dissolved and then store for 2 months to mature before straining and bottling.  I did these last night and already they're turning a glorious blackcurranty colour.

I scored some great bargains at Sainsbury's last night.  Fish pie with salmon for 10p!! Popped it into the freezer for a lazy supper next week. The Teenager loved the fancy yogurt.  It's a new luxury brand The Collective and costs £2.39 a tub. I'd never pay that much so I was pleased I got it for 59p. 

I feel a potato related post may be next as that's a big bag for just 2 of us!!

Thursday 20 June 2013

On ice

I bought this bottle of champagne last month as it was half price.  I was hoping that within a short time I would have the occasion to open it with my beloved and celebrate.  I put it in a cupboard and waited.  And waited.
Last week I had a job interview.
Last weekend I viewed some houses and found one I want to buy.
Two days ago I was offered the position of supply teacher within the council area I am hoping to move to.  I put the bottle in the fridge.
Yesterday the lady who wants to buy my house came back for a 4th viewing with a builder.  She's saying and doing all the right things but as yet has not made a formal offer.  In Scots law once a formal offer has been made and accepted it is difficult to back out unlike English law. 
So for now the champagne is on ice.

Tuesday 18 June 2013

Dye and chives

This is a blouse I've had for at least 10 years.  Nice fitted body but sleeves and collar are too manly for my taste.  Although it's in good condition it wasn't quite as white as I'd like.

So I chucked it in the washing machine with few white cotton t shirts that had seen better days and a packet of Tulip Red fabric dye that was given to me.  Now that's pretty red looking!!

I'm rather pleased with the result!  But I'm not finished yet.  I'm going to remove the floppy collar and do something with those sleeves.  Watch this space!! (and I still have 5 other packs of dye in different colours!)

Elaine over at MF reminded me I wanted to make chive flower vinegar.  Last year I had hardly any flowers so didn't bother.  This year I have several clumps of chives in flower so started a batch.  I checked this morning and it's already taking on that lovely purple colour.  That's a litre of white vinegar so there will enough for me to use and some to put in pretty bottles to gift.  A really easy frugal gourmet gift.

***quick how to make chive flower vinegar now on my other blog***

Friday 14 June 2013

Decisions, decisions

I have some very big decisions to make in the next few weeks.  It's all rather scary and I'm worried about the making the wrong choices and how that would impact on the Teenager.  Family and friends are both helpful and non helpful but ultimately the decisions have to be made by me.

I came across this piece of advice by Dr Barker of the OU.  It's been very useful in making me think about a few things.

Dr Barker's Decisions Making Tips

When we're not sure what to do, there's a tendency either to make a decision far too quickly or back off from the decision altogether.  Both should be avoided.

Instead, embrace the uncertainty.  It's not an easy thing to do but you should sit out your decision until you've gathered all the information and set out all the options.

Think about what you value and makes a good or meaningful life for you.  Tuning into this can help with the decision.  How will your choice fit your values in life?

Will your decision open up future options or limit them?  Imagine you've made your decision, do you feel lighter and freer or more constrained?

I get the feeling it's going to be a rather emotional weekend as I thrash out a few things with my loved ones.  But I'll get there.

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Caramelised apple sponge

Thanks for all the apple suggestions :-)  In the end I peeled and cored them.

I put them in a pan with a squeeze of lemon juice, a splash of water and a large spoonful of dark brown sugar.  They simmered for about 10 mins until soft and caramelly (sorry non technical terms but you get the drift)

I put them in the bottom of a pudding basin, topped it with a sponge mixture and steamed it for an hour.

Turned out all right!

I had mine with some pouring soya yogurt. Twas very nice indeed.  It fed 2 of us 2 nights in a row.  A frugal gourmet pud made from some sad wrinkly apples and storecupboard ingredients.

That light at the end of the tunnel is beginning to be seen :-)  I have a very interested viewer who is saying and doing all the right things so hopefully I'll have some fab news to report very soon.

On the job front, I had an interview today to get onto the supply teaching list.  It went well so here's hoping I get some work when the new school year starts in August.

Still feel it's not quite happening yet but I have hope, more hope than I've had for a while so fingers crossed.

Friday 7 June 2013

What's up with tomatoes??

While the cost of fresh fruit and veg has gone up, I think the quality has come down.  I'm fed up buying stuff that has very little flavour.  On principle I refuse to buy fruit out of season.  Strawberries in December? Come on!!  Not only do they cost a small fortune and have been flown in from goodness knows where, they don't even taste like strawberries.
So on seeing British tomatoes in Sainsbury's I treated myself to some Taste the Difference ones on the vine (ie more expensive) and looked forward to having them. But I was disappointed.  They were pretty tasteless. Both varieties! I briefly considered returning to the store to complain but a round trip of 30 miles just to return some tomatoes seemed daft and I wasn't due to be back in town for several days. 

So not wanting to waste them I sliced the big ones in half sprinkled a little sea salt on them and roasted them in the oven.  Flavour instantly improved.

I served the little ones with some pea, prawn and basil risotto (all ingredients from my freezer) and had a bistro worthy meal.  The large ones were doused in a little balsamic vinegar and used in a salad the next day. And very nice they were too!

Problem is I want to eat fresh tomatoes and I want ones that are grown in proper soil outside.  Not kept in a greenhouse and grown hydroponically.  And I'd be happy to pay a bit more for them and peppers, cucumbers, apples etc if they tasted real.

Now, I have 5 tasteless apples in my fruit bowl.  What can I do with them I wonder?

Thursday 6 June 2013

Tightening my belt

Round here there's a feeling that things are about to get worse before they get better.  When the house went back on the market last August all my plans to create revenue were based on building up several small streams of revenue using the house itself.  But with the prospect of moving at any point none of these came to fruition except The Tartan Tower and that doesn't generate much money.

Simply, my monthly outgoings exceed my income.  And until I move I can't increase that income for several reasons.  I have a monthly budget and can cope with the normal monthly expenditure but it's the unexpected things like car repairs and vet costs that have made me reach for the credit card.  This morning I was at the dentist and hygienist.  That cost £46. One filling needs replaced and I need root canal treatment on another (approx. £230) Tomorrow my car needs a service and an MOT to stay on the road. My one credit card is fast approaching its limit.

I keep telling myself once the house is sold and the money is released everything will be resolved but until then my already tightened belt will need to be squeezed even tighter.

I've already stopped giving myself pocket money and will probably need to stop the teenager's. I've cut back on food spending.  I don't buy clothes.  We don't eat out.  We don't go to the cinema. We're going wild camping for our summer holiday.

I'm sorting through my books and clothes to sell.  I've already sold my gold jewellery, CDs and DVDs.

I know there are many people out there in worse situations than us so I try not to complain.  I know there will be a light at the end of my tunnel eventually and that's what keeps me going.

Wednesday 5 June 2013

Spotty Dress Refashion

I finally got round to finishing taking in this dress.  It was 2 sizes too big so it was an easy fix to take in under the arms.

Since I'm a classic pear shape (ie hips much bigger than bust) I didn't need to alter the skirt part.

It had a belt that was rather flimsy so I used it make a matching flower with a big button from my stash following a Youtube tutorial.

It kinda gets lost on the dress so I'll probably wear it on a cardi or jacket so it gets noticed.  If you look closely you can see the Teenager reflected in my sunglasses!!

I love this dress.  It's just a simple cotton one but it's lined and now it fits me perfectly.  Plus it was free :-)

Tuesday 4 June 2013

Jelly on a plate, jelly on a plate.....

.....Wibble, wobble, jelly on a plate!  No idea where that song comes from but I always sing it when I make jelly!
I was getting bored of plain jelly with fruit in it so I played around and made some fruit fool type desserts.

I drained the juice from a tin of basics peaches and used it instead of cold water in making up the jelly (using a quarter less liquid).  I pureed the peaches and mixed it with the jelly.  I poured it into glasses to set.

This is peach and orange fool served with natural yogurt

What else could I make?  I defrosted half a bag of frozen strawberries and blueberries, pureed them and added them to the jelly mix.

More sneaky ways to get fruit into the kids without costing a fortune ;-)