Monday, 7 September 2015

Jam Making, Cake Making & Bargain Hunting !

This week for us has been all about preparing and preserving our allotment produce in readiness for the coming winter. The first picture shows all our jars of sweet-pickled beetroot, blackcurrant jam, whitecurrant jam, gooseberry jam, and rhubarb and ginger marmelade. I spent this morning after my acupuncture making the pretty cloth tops and writing up labels. For my birthday this year my friend gave me a pack of fat quarters (squares of pretty patterned material) and they came in really useful. I do think the jars look far more enticing once they have been "prettied up". So all those jars are now in our outbuilding which acts as part coal store and part pantry. 

Our friend/neighbour gave us two freshly skinned rabbits so my husband spent a good few hours making a wonderful rabbit and vegetable stew in the slow cooker which was then portioned up into four containers for four separate meals. Not too shabby for food which was given to us for free.

We also did pretty well on reduced items at Sainsburys on Saturday afternoon, getting 6 marinaded chicken legs for £2.20 ($3.36), some diced pork to make a slow cooker stew for £1.69 ($2.58) and two packets of eight sausages for 75p ($1.15) each !

As we had been too busy cooking and preserving over the weekend I decided to make chocolate cornflake cakes to take to work on Tuesday so that we all still have some sweet treats to get us through the week. It was a good way of getting rid of some cornflakes which, again, we were given (I don't know about you but if I have cornflakes for breakfast I am ravenous by about 10:30am so I like to stick to porridge for breakfast which keeps me fuller for longer). I'm glad I made two batches of cakes - one for work and one for us to eat at home - they're delicious :)

In our garden we now have nine sunflower plants which are six foot tall and still growing. Only one of the plants in the back garden looks as though it is about to flower, as shown above. These beautiful orange "daisies" (they're not daisies but I don't know the name of them) are also still going strong. They are such a stunning colour. 

Last weekend we treated Lucy to a new bed, as her old one was falling apart after being chewed to pieces by Whiskers. Lucy sleeps in a bed on the floor next to me and Whiskers sleeps on our bed next to me. Lucy likes her own personal space whereas Whiskers has no concept of personal space at all and I often wake to find her head on top of my face and her whiskers tickling my nose.

Although the new bed did kind of break the bank for us (£65.00/$99.00), it was worth it as it is extremely well made and the cushion part which Lucy lies on is really thick, supportive and warm. We make sure that Whiskers doesn't go anywhere near the bed as this way it should last Lucy for the rest of her sweet life. Lucy is very happy :)

In order to compensate for that expense, I did find some new clothes recently on Ebay which were a total bargain.

This lovely purple and mustard yellow cotton tunic top from M&S which had never been worn and which only cost me 99p ($1.50) plus postage (!!!!)

And this lovely acrylic jumper, again from M&S and only worn a handful of times for only £4.00 ($6.11) plus postage. The photo doesn't really do it justice, or convey the true colours which are dark teal blue and navy stripes. It looks great with my navy trousers for work.

I also bought a new winter coat but it's currently being dry cleaned so I have no photos to share with you as yet.

One last photo I want to share with you today is the starlings feeding on Aldi ginger biscuit crumbs we put out this morning. We had the biggest collection of starlings at one time and they couldn't get enough of the biscuit crumbs !

We will be going to visit Mum and Dad soon for the last visit before Christmas (sorry to use the "C" word) so I'm busily preparing everything we have to take, including their gifts so that they don't have to be posted at much expense nearer the time. As we don't have much money to spend on Christmas this year, most presents will be home-made. I've made Mum and Dad a Christmas cake which will mature nicely in time for December and this afternoon I am going to be making them some crackers to have on their table over the festive season. They will also be getting some home-pickled beetroot and home-made jams.

Enjoy your week, friends x


  1. Hello Lucy. Golly! You are loads more productive than we are! We constantly talk about the need to be thrifty and careful and grow more, but apart from blackcurrants, six lettuces and some rhubarb that's as far as we got this year! My Husband downloaded the bank statements next year we must do better! Thank you for your lovely comments you left on my blog today. And now I've found your blog and will be nipping in and out for thrifty saving advice! If your dream is to build a home in the highlands of Scotland, then you must! You'll not regret it!

  2. You have been very productive, I love home made jams & chutneys, Asda are currently selling White Currant bushes for £4.00 , I have never had White currants before, but as you have made them into jam, I think I will get one after all, I love cornflake cakes, even if you don't have hours to spend baking just rustling up something quick and easy still helps save the pennies, well done on your supermarket bargains and Ebay bargains. I love reading your blog, Marlene x

  3. Wow you have been busy but very productive :-) nothing beats the taste of home made jam and chutneys I love it and I always make my own and give them as gifts for xmas to so much nicer and more personal something home made. You have reminded me that I must get and make our xmas cake to see I cant use the C word yet either ;-) Those stirlings certainly did enjoy there breakfast. Loving your new clothes to and im not surprised Lucy loves her new bed its gorgeous :-) dee x

  4. Look at all those gorgeous jars of food, just beautiful. I love to give handmade gifts, and I love to receive them too. We have been giving handmade for quite a few years now, and all the recipients have always been happy. Your sunflowers are lovely, can't wait to see them in full bloom. We have some that are about 13 feet tall at the moment, and we are waiting patiently for them to bloom. Such lovely Ebay finds, good for you.

  5. Hi Fiona, what a lovely blog you have! Thank you so much for visiting me and leaving such a nice comment. I am following you now on bloglovin and look forward to keeping up with all your gardening, jam making and thrifty finds X

  6. Hi Fiona, thank you for stopping by my blog and for following me. I'm following you on Bloglovin. It looks like you really keep yourself busy! I have never eaten rabbit before but I do plan to try it someday. I think it's amazing that you made four meals from free food. You're my kind of woman, haha. :) Your sunflowers are beautiful! I hope you have a good weekend and I look forward to getting to know you better. :)