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Decorating Again & Judys Birthday

Yesterday it was Judy’s 5th birthday and we bought her a few little presents.  She gets very excited when I give her a present to unwrap and her little tail wags like crazy whilst she is trying desparately to tear the paper off with her paws:

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She seemed very pleased with the ball my daughters gave her.  You fill the ball with dry feed or treats and she pushes the ball around to make them fall out:

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And she also liked the ‘doggie treats’ and tennis balls that we gave to her:

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I also bought a ‘doggie cake’ from the pet store which she absolutely loved (unfortunately I didn’t get round to make a dog cake myself):

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Today it is a year since we brought Judy home from The RSPCA.  It really has been a rollercoaster ride, but I have learnt so much after all the training.  She has turned into a lovely dog and companion for me and I am so glad I persevered with her, rather than give up like her previous three owners did.

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This week in the home:

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This week I have finally got around to decorating my youngest daughters bedroom.

After clearing everything from her room I started off by removing the very old shelves that really needed to be replaced and filled all the holes around the room with some filler.  When it was dry I sanded the filler down until it was all smooth:

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I then sanded down all the woodwork in the room ready to begin.

I started by painting the ceiling and woodwork and then I pasted thick lining paper (1400 grade) on the walls to help to hide all the lumps and bumps.  We did consider plastering this room but it would have been too expensive for us and the lining paper was a cheaper option.

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When it was dry I painted the walls the colour my daughter had chosen….a ‘soft grey’ and I think she chose well (though I did have my reservations when she first told me she wanted this colour).

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I decided to paint her wooden curtain pole white, to match the room (it was previously a ‘wood’ colour).  It took three coats of paint and I couldn’t face painting all the curtains rings so I brought new ones, but they didn’t cost too much and it was still far cheaper than buying a new pole:

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I still need to put the curtain pole back up and I also need to put together the bedroom furniture that we are hoping to have delivered next week (an ‘early’ birthday and Christmas present for my daughter).

And finally I need to make a pair of curtains for the room….we looked in every shop I could think of for a ready made pair of curtains, but my daughter didn’t like any.  In desparation I took her to a material shop and she found some material that she loved, so I now have another job for next week:

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I love decorating, especially when I am pleased with the results.  I’ll show you a photo of the completed room next week.

Judy keeping me company while I decorated the room

Judy keeping me company while I decorated the room

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A few other things before I finish for this week:

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This week I made some butterfly cakes to show off the new cake stand my daughters bought me for my birthday last week……I really love this present!

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I also made some more dishwasher liquid out of soapnuts:

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While I was out and about this week I noticed that the seeds at Wilkinsons had been reduced to 20p so I stocked up with the ones I know I will definately use:

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In the garden this week I found that unfortunately the broccolli ’60 day raab’ that I sowed in the middle of August is flowering…..so it does grow quickly (as the name suggests), but it has gone to seed before it’s possible to get even a tiny crop, so I won’t be growing this again.  I made sure it was fed at the beginning and it was well watered when the weather was dry, so I can only think the ground wasn’t firm enough for it (brassiccas like the ground to be firm).  It was a free packet of seed so I haven’t lost anything but time:

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Also in the garden the leaves are falling from my neighbours trees and I will need to collect them up next week.  Previously I had grass in this area and I would just run over the leaves with the lawn mower to quickly remove them, however this isn’t possible in my vegetable garden so I will need to get down on my hands and knees:

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My Cosmos is still flowering well:

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And the tomatoes that I picked two weeks ago when they were nearly all green, are ripening well in my greenhouse…..(I am very pleased as I really don’t like green tomato chutney):

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So that’s it for this week.  I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog.

I will be back next Friday as usual.  Have a great week!

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Laundry Liquid, Planting Leeks And Training ‘Cordon’ Tomatoes

It’s Friday already and I’m not sure where the week has gone to.

I started the week by making some of my homemade laundry liquid.  I’ve been using homemade laundry liquid to wash my clothes for quite some time now and it washes well and is so much cheaper than shop bought wash powders and liquids.  Infact, a few months ago I worked out that it cost me approximately £1.75 to make and I managed to get 71 washes out of it, which worked out to be a staggering 2.5p per wash. I challenge any of the supermarkets to beat that!

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I really don’t know where I got the recipe for homemade laundry liquid from, it was somewhere on the net, so I can’t take any credit for it. As it’s been some time since I last wrote how to make it on my blog, I thought I would write the recipe again for anyone who didn’t see it the first time around.  It only takes about fifteen minutes to make, but I think it’s time well spent:

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Laundry Liquid

1 cup of soap flakes

½ cup Soda Crystals (also known as washing soda)

½ Cup Borax (in the UK it is a substitute of borax which works well)

1 ½ litres of water

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Put the above ingredients into a saucepan and heat, stirring until the soap flakes have dissolved.

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Pour the mixture into a very large bucket and then add a further 8 litres of cold water.

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Stir and then pour into containers, leaving space at the top so you can easily shake the container before you use it.

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You only need approximately a quarter of a cup of washing liquid for each wash.

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I use old plastic milk containers to store my liquid in. The recipe makes just over 10 litres of liquid which I found was enough for 71 washes.

One thing to remember is you won’t see lots of bubbles when it washes, but this doesn’t matter. Wash powders that you buy actually have bubbles added, not because they are needed, but because people think their clothes aren’t washing properly if they don’t see bubbles.

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Tomatoes

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This week I removed most of my staging from my greenhouse, so I could put my tomatoes and cucumbers neatly, as it was getting a bit cramped in there.  I have four tomatoes called ‘Moneymaker’ and four of a heritage variety called ‘Wladecks’.  The heritage variety is a beefsteak tomato.  I also have two cucumber plants.

As the above plants grow, I tie them to the canes that I have put in the pots, to help support them.

Just in case you haven’t grown tomatoes before, it is very easy.  There are two different types of tomato, a ‘bush’ tomato and a ‘cordon’.

I am growing a’ cordon’ and it is trained up a support, by tying it to the support as it grows,   Also, side shoots will grow between the leaf stem and the main stem (called the leaf axil) and all you need to do is ‘pinch out’ the side shoots as they begin to grow (which means removing it by pinching it off using your thumb and finger nails).  There is a photograph of a side shoot below:

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The only other thing to do is to feed your tomato plants regularly after you can see your first tiny tomato has formed and started to grow.  Also keep the plants well watered and you will have lovely tomatoes soon.

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Planting Leeks

One of the jobs I did at my the allotment this week was to clear the kale that I left to flower for the bees, as it had just about finished flowering.  I put it all in my compost heap, as the thick stems will eventually rot down, though it does take quite some time.

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I then dug the area over and raked in some blood, fish and bone, ready to plant my leeks.

I sowed the leeks back in January, so I was very careful not to drop them when I transported them to my plot (as I did with my sweetcorn last week).

My dad taught me how to transplant leeks and just in case you are reading this and you have never grown leeks before, I thought I would show you how I do it:

First I use a dibber to make a hole approximately 15cm deep.

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Then I cut the end of the roots off each leek.  This was done in the past as it was thought to stimulate the roots into growth, but I have read that it doen’t really make a difference.  I still do this, simply because I find it helps to make it easier to push the leek into the hole that you have made with your dibber.

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I push the leek into the hole I made with the dibber (sometimes it’s easier to twist the leek to get the roots to go down into the hole).

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Plant the leeks 15cm apart, in rows 30cm apart.

You don’t need to backfill the hole with soil, just water each leek and let the water settle the soil around the roots.

I don’t do anything more to my leeks, except weed around them.  They sit happily over winter too.

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Just to finish off with today, I thought I would show you my beautiful oriental poppies that have just begun to flower this year:

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I hope you enjoyed reading my blog today.

I will be back on Monday at approximately 4pm.

Karate, Painting And A Bargain Ice Cream Maker

I thought I’d start by saying a big ‘Well Done’ to my two daughters, as they both passed their Karate grading this weekend and they are now proud owners of ‘Yellow Belts’.  This is the third belt they have acheived so far.  This time last year we thought my eldest daughter wouldn’t be doing Karate again, as her asthma was so bad, so we are very very proud of them.

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Some of you will already know, that all of last week I was painting our hall and landing.  I finally finished painting the downstairs yesterday, though I do still have the woodwork upstairs to finish.

I am very proud of it so far.  It now looks very clean, instead of dull and grubby:

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We had two sets of wall mounted coat rails on our wall before I started painting, but both of them had a couple of hooks that had broken.  I decided to take the rails off the wall and throw them away and buy another two.

   I visited B&Q and Wilkinsons to buy them, but I was surprised to find that the cheapest were £16 each!

I decided to look around and I found four new hooks, exactly the same as the ones that had broken, for just £4.96.  I then pulled the old coat rails out of the wheelie bin and gave them a good clean and Mr Thrift replaced the broken hooks with the new ones.

One of the broken hangers

One of the broken hangers

We are very pleased, as this saved us £27.04 for both rails, just by spending five minutes extra repairing them.

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Over the weekend, I visited the British Heart Foundation charity shop in Leicester.

It is a wonderful shop with lots of furniture, TV’s, washing machines etc.  It was fascinating to walk round.  They have a good electrical section and I spotted an ice cream maker, which was in really good condition.  It looked as though it had hardly been used.

 Last year, I borrowed my sisters ice cream maker to try it out and it was a great success.  I have been looking for a good ice cream maker to come up on EBay for months, but the ones that I have found usually have a smaller bowl.  This one is a 1.45 litre capacity which is much better for a family.

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As you can see in the picture, it is in good condition, with the original manual and it has a book to go with it.  The box is a bit battered, I suspect it was one of those appliances that ended up at the bottom of a cupboard and was hardly ever used.  But for me it will be great.

They charged me just £10 for the ice cream maker and they even gave me a six month warranty on the appliance, because it is an electrical item….I don’t think I could do better than that!

It will be so useful as I can now start to make dairy free chocolate ice cream for my youngest daughter and this should save me pounds if I can find a good recipe.  If you know a good dairy free chocolate ice cream recipe, please let me know.

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I am hoping to finish my painting in the next few days, so hopefully then I can get back to normality again and catch up with things that have got behind, like my batch baking and my allotment planning.

All being well, I’ll be back on Friday evening.

Thank you for reading my blog.