Archive | December 2015

Christmas Reminiscing

This is my last blog post before Christmas day.

I will be taking a couple of weeks off blogging during the festive period, but I will be back on the 8th January….. I hope you don’t mind.

SAM_2423

In the week before Christmas last year my blog post included my ‘Twelve Tips Of Christmas’ which you can find here.

This year I was wondering what I could write about and I decided to write something a little bit different from my normal blog posts…..

SAM_7963

Yesterday I started to think about my past Christmas’s and I can hand on heart say I have been very lucky as I have had some lovely times…..

……When I was small there was always such excitement in the house when my mother produced the advent calender each year….there were no chocolates in it, just doors to open with pictures underneath (except for number one and two as these had been ripped off previously, as we had the same calender every year).  Number fifteen was a large door with santa underneath saying “only ten days until Christmas’ and my sisters and I would argue over who would open it.

SAM_7966

I also remember taking part in a nativity play at infant school….There were no variations on the Christmas story in those days, it was exactly as the bible wrote and we sang beautiful carols throughout…. don’t get me wrong, I loved to see my daughters in their Christmas productions at Primary school, but it was rare to hear a carol proformed and I would have really liked to have seen them take part in a good ‘old fashioned’ nativity play.

Another memory at Infant school was making Christmas cards and posting them in our ‘schools own post box’ and it was such an honour to be picked to ‘deliver’ the cards to each teacher to give out to their class.

I also took a turn in the classroom to take a Christmas lolly from santa’s sack….such a small thing, but such a happy memory of mine.

SAM_5393

At home we had the same artificial tree every year and it always looked like it had seen better days, but I remember clearly the excitment I felt when decorating it.  It was wonderful to come downstairs on Christmas morning to find a room full of presents with the tree standing proud.  In reality there probably wasn’t many presents, but with four children in the house it always looked like there was.

 SAM_7987

On Christmas day we had a turkey dinner with Christmas pudding to follow and it was always my favourite meal of the year…..and still is!

However when I left home, circumstances meant I didn’t really have anywhere to go on Christmas day and this is when I spent Christmas day with the friends who I met at work.  I remember my old friend Helen would invite a few of us to her house and she would cook an amazing Christmas dinner and we all had so much fun.  Sadly my friend passed away a couple of years ago and I still miss her so much, but since her funeral my old work friends have kept in touch and once again see each other regularly, which I really enjoy.

SAM_5453

And then 20 years ago I met my wonderful husband and very quickly we had two children and began to start our own traditions over the Christmas period, which I write about each year on my blog.

Family and friends are so important to have around and I think Christmas is a good excuse to get together and have fun….after all, the last couple of years have taught me that life is short and we need to appreciate what we have.

So this year I will be quietly raising a glass to the family and friends that won’t be with us this Christmas, and I will be remembering the laughter and love we shared.

I wonder if you will be doing the same?

SAM_7850

Thank you for reading my blog this year.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 

Advertisements

Homemade Christmas Gifts…

This week I have been busy again.  I started the week by making another batch of laundry liquid.  It still amazes me how much I save by making my own liquid and it only takes about fifteen minutes to make approximately three months worth (and I wash a full load every day).

SAM_2461 SAM_2463

I also made some more dishwasher liquid too, using soap nuts:

SAM_2470

And I topped up my homemade multipurpose kitchen spray too, using white vinegar and a few drops of teatree oil.  The vinegar cuts easily through grease and dirt and the teatree oil turns it into an antibacterial spray.

SAM_2465

All of the above things help me to save money around the home and I don’t use any nasty chemicals either.

.

In the garden:

I also managed to buy another bag of woodchip to complete my the paths in the new area in my kitchen garden:

IMG_2869 IMG_2873

I then brought a couple of bags of soil conditioner to spread over two of my beds (I will buy some for the other beds another day):

IMG_2886 IMG_2885

I have left the soil conditioner on the top of the soil so the worms can do the hard work for me over winter.  I have also covered the two beds with weed suppressant to prevent weeds from growing and to also prevent the winter rain from leaching the nutrients out of the soil:

IMG_2889

I am already looking forward to growing crops in this area next Spring.

.

Preparations For Christmas:

.

Well Christmas is nearly here and this week I have been turning my attention to Christmas presents.

On Saturday I talked to BBC Radio Leicester about Christmas presents on a budget:

You can listen to the interview here if anyone is interested.  The interview starts 11 mins into the show.

I love chatting to Radio Leicester and they always make me feel very welcome.  I hope this comes across in the interview.

One of the things I talked about was homemade presents.  I love homemade presents as I always say they are “from the heart and not just the bank account”.  I took in three homemade presents to show (and taste) and explained that they are far cheaper to make than buy and by making them yourself you can have far nicer presents for far less money:

SAM_2457

The present on the right looks like a Christmas pudding and my daughter made these for all her friends and teachers last year and kindly made this one for me to take to the radio show.  It is a chocolate orange with maltesers stuck on with melted chocolate and she melted white chocolate over the top (to look like cream) and she put a little bit of plastic holly on the top.  She wrapped it in cellophane and it looked fantastic.

The box in the middle had homemade truffles in.  I love homemade truffles as they are so easy to make and look and taste really good:

SAM_2455 SAM_2454

.

I also took in a present of which contained cubes of chocolate with cranberries and sultana’s and this is how I made it:

First I melted a bar of my favourite chocolate in a bowl over a pan of gently simmering water stirring all the time…

SAM_2439

When the chocolate had melted I added some cranberries and sultana’s and mixed them until they were fully coated in the chocolate (you can use anything you enjoy e.g. smarties, maltesers etc)…

SAM_2443

I then poured the mixture into a tin / container that was lined with clingfilm (you can use silicone bakeware too if you have it)….

SAM_2444 SAM_2446

I then left the chocolate mixture to set (don’t put it in the fridge).

When it was set I took it out of the mould and removed the clingfilm….

SAM_2448

I drizzle some melted white chocolate over the top and again left it to set…

SAM_2449

When it was set I chopped the chocolate into cubes and wrapped it in cellophane….

IMG_2878

Top chefs will tell you that the chocolate should be ‘tempered’ to keep the shine on the chocolate, but if you slowly melt the chocolate and keep it away from the fridge whilst setting, I don’t think you need to for this.

.

.

This week, as Christmas is near I turned my attention to my Christmas hampers.  I started by covering my homemade jars of jams and chutneys with a pretty pieces of tissue paper, tied with a bow:

SAM_2467 SAM_2466

And then I wrapped a few surprises (including my homemade wine) to also go into my hampers too and then I started to put them altogether:

SAM_2473 SAM_2477

I am very pleased with the result, though I do still have two hampers to do.

.

I also made three mini Christmas cakes this week and a full sized cake too.  The Christmas cake recipe I use is very easy and can be eaten straight away, without having to continually ‘top it up’ with brandy.  The recipe is here.

SAM_2468 SAM_2471

I like to give the mini Christamas cakes to our parents, as they are just the right size for them to enjoy.

I decorated the mini cakes and wrapped them in cellophane and I think they look great and I would be very pleased to receive one….so lets hope they like them:

SAM_2488 SAM_2489

Just incase you are wondering, I brought my roll of cellophane approximately three years ago on-line and I still have loads left.

SAM_2479

  I checked this week and you can buy a 100 meter roll of clear cellophane for about £12 (incl. delivery).

.

mrs-claus[1]

.

Before I finish today I wanted to show you a lovely couple of chocolate logs that my daughter made last week for her friends at school…..apparently they all enjoyed it.   The recipe is here.

Each chocolate log costs approximately £1.50 to make and tastes delicious……to buy a supermarket ‘finest’ chocolate log it costs £3 and I bet it wouldn’t be as nice!

IMG_2871

I also want to show you some wonderful cakes that one of my daughters friends made to take into school too this week:

SAM_2482 SAM_2481

I think the cakes look wonderful and it just shows what you can do with a little bit of imagination!

“Homemade really is from the heart and not just the bank account”

.

Thank you for reading my blog today.  I will be back next Friday as usual.

Have a great week!

Woodchip Paths & Christmas Decorations

Before I start today I wanted to remind anyone that is interested, that my usual monthly blog post of

‘What To Do In The Kitchen Garden In December’ can be found here.

Don’t be fooled into thinking there is nothing you can do this month……..

There is loads of information in this post e.g. weather conditions expected, what to sow / plant / harvest in December, jobs to do and pests and diseases that you may encounter this month.

I hope it helps someone out there.

SAM_5091.

.

This week in the home:

.

This week my youngest daughter turned ‘sweet sixteen’….how on earth did this happen so quickly?

We all had a lovely day together and my eldest daughter made a birthday cake, in the shape of a ‘Dairy Milk’ chocolate bar (my youngest daughter’s favourite food) and it was absolutely delicious!

SAM_2413

.

Unfortunately my step father is still not well, so this is taking up a lot of my time with phone calls, hospital visits and taking my mother shopping.  My mum and dad both remarried and so between Mr Thrift and I, we have three sets of elderly parents (though my father-in-law sadly died last year).  With two teenage daughters this means that myself and Mr Thrift are part of the ‘sandwich’ generation and recently I have felt quite run down from it all, especially as I have also spent the last year trying hard to train Judy, the RSPCA dog that we adopted on top of this (though we all adore her).

However, I have no choice but to carry on with things the way they are at the moment and I can only hope they will get better over time.

SAM_2430

.

So this week in the Thrift household we put our Christmas tree up, as decorations in the house always cheer us up.

As we now have a three piece suite in our front room it was hard to find a place for our trusty old Christmas tree.  After trying different places in the room we finally wedged it in the corner, however it looked very small and hidden by the furniture…..I came up with the idea of standing it on an old plastic box to give it some height, which I covered temporarily with one of the curtains I recently brought from a car boot sale (to cover two old reclining garden chairs that I was given).

SAM_2421

We put on some Christmas music and all four of us decorated the tree with a bit of singing and daft dancing in between.  All in all it was lovely afternoon and we all think the tree looks nice due to the box it stands on and you can actually see the tree lights twinkling outside our front window for the first time:

SAM_2423

We also decorated our stair banister in the hall with our old garland and I fixed our Christmas wreath to the front door.

SAM_2436 SAM_2433

We have used the same ‘artificial’ decorations for many years now and they still look good.

This year I decided to add to our decorations with a cheap garland I brought for the fireplace.  I have decorated it with some cones and I will add the slices of oranges I am drying on my radiator when they are ready too:

SAM_2432 SAM_2424

The room is looking beautiful now (except for the carpet that we still haven’t managed to save up for yet but we are trying to ignore it for the moment).

.

This week in the garden:

.

Last week I brought some primroses for 50p each as I thought it would brighten my garden in the dull December days ahead.  This week I planted three of them in a pot next to my back door and the rest I planted in a hanging basket outside our front door….and I am very pleased with them.

SAM_2403 SAM_2405

I love primroses as they flower each year and look beautiful.

.

This week I also tried very hard to finish my new vegetable patch.  I was going to ask Mr Thrift to help me to lay the final three slabs, but unfortunately I couldn’t complete my final two beds until they were laid…..so I decided to do it myself.  I’ve laid plenty of slabs on my own when I had my allotments so this didn’t bother me too much, though Mr Thrift did tell me off!

This meant I could then continue with the final two beds next to the slabs…

SAM_2425

I then created a very small area for a flower to be planted next year, using the edging stones I have spare:

IMG_2868

And I completed the edging next to the bed in front of the fence:

SAM_2420

I then used old weed suppressant to cover the new paths, using old pins from my allotment to secure it down:

SAM_2428

And then I brought some bags of woodchip from our local timber yard and covered the weed suppressant with it.  Over the years I have found that if you place woodchip on weed suppressant, it doesn’t rot down as quickly as it does if you place it directly on the soil.

Unfortunately I was a bag or two short of woodchip so I will have to make another trip to them before I can complete the paths in my new vegetable area.  However it is looking good so far:

IMG_2870 SAM_2429

After completing the paths next week I will start to concentrate on improving the soil.

But for the moment I am pleased how it is shaping up.

.

Thank you for reading my blog this week.  I will be back next Friday as usual.

Have a great week!