Sunday, 23 December 2012

A couple of things i made earlier........

Every year I write a 'lessons learnt' note to myself as a reminder of how to have a smoother running run up to Christmas. Like many  hundreds of others I have spent many Christmas Eve's painting, sewing or embroidering and then wrapping and generally getting annoyed at myself for not having tackled some of this sooner. 
I store this note to myself, along with this years present list (as a reminder of what i gave) and the Christmas card list , in the box of Halloween stuff in the attic, because if I put it with the Christmas decorations then its just too late.

Things on the list.....
1. Start making cards/presents in November.
2. Wrap fudge as soon as its made so you don't eat it.
3. Wrapping takes half a day - don't leave it all till the last minute.
4. Aldi's version of Baileys is just fine.

For some reason, I have never managed to achieve Christmas preparation completion, and i hope i don't speak too soon, but this year has been the best yet.

Every year i make a wreath for the door. I left it a little late this year, next year, i'd like to have it done even before the tree goes up. No berries on the holly this year so I added the toadstools. I like them.

Mr Thrift Bee insisted I dug up the parsnips to day, to ensure that 'if they looked like the elephant man, we would still have time buy some supermarket ones' Dear God man, even ugly homegrown vegetables taste better than supermarket ones.

I think you'll agree though, that my slim and tall parsnips are the handsomest in the land.

Thanks to those of you who commented on Pine Cone Bob at the end of my last post. He came about after I had made my snowflake. I made several of them and they all sold at the flea market last weekend. 

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Pinecone snowflake/Making something for nothing

I gathered up bag fulls of pine cones when we felled some trees this year. They have been drying off in the shed for months. I love making something from nothing I was intent on making pinecone and beeswax firestarters. Unfortunatly they are the wrong kind of pine cone, because these little beggers only smoulder and don't catch alight.

So what to do with two large bags of scutty fireproof pinecones.......and came up with this.....

I cut out a large circle of card.

Drew a rough snowflake shape.

Cut it out.

One glue stick was the sum total expense of this project, all other materials free or produced on the ranch.
It took about half an hour in total and.....


Light faded when i got it hung up, so excuse the dark photo.

Linking to the lovely Lakota's 

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Thrift Haul - from breakfast to cocktails!

Another thrift haul that seems to have a bit of theme going on. The first find is two fibreglass rectangular trays on a stand. Anyone know what how this was used? Is it for sandwiches?

Anyway the colours were nice and they just happen to go with my second find

These cannisters with cork lids are in great condititon.

A really heavy solid wood nut dish.

I've recently acquired one of these stove top coffee maker and I've become a bit of an espresso freak. But I've picked up another now to sell. The old Alpen cannister would make a great home for homemade granola. Its also for sale.

This little coffee set has a gold snowflake design and was made in Japan. Perfect condition.

Moving onto cocktails, the ice bucket is very festive.

Mission Complete.

Linking in late with Magpie Monday and Apron Thrift girl

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Ta-Dah Tuesday - homemade pasta!

I posted a while back about a jumble sale find of amongst other things, a really nice pasta maker machine. It was missing a handle to turn and the clamp to keep it steady. I emailed the Italian company who made it and was able to buy the missing pieces from them.

I have always wanted to make my own pasta, I love a ravioli with spinach and ricotta in a sage butter sauce. But I have found it difficult to buy so I plan to make lots of it when I have spinach and sage in abundance in the garden. I may even make my own ricotta!

To start with I tried a faithful carbonara recipe with Jamies method of making pasta which could not be simpler 200grms '00 flour' and two eggs. You just mix it together, knead for 5 - 10 mins, Pass it through the machine 7 times to get the right thickness and then through the tagliatelle cutter.

Bob's your uncle! 

Throw it into salted water for 2 mins and its cooked.
My carbonara consists of as many rashers of bacon i have lurking around 3 or 4 normally which 
got cooked as I was passing the pasta through the machine. 
Into a jug I put an egg, some left over sour cream (from fajitas at the weekend) and  handful of parmasan.
I would also love to have a BIG bunch of chopped parsley but my parsley this year has pretty much failed.
 (I'm eeking out one poor plant because I flatly refuse to buy something that I should have growing in the garden.) So a few sprigs of parsley has to do.

All chucked in frying pan with a little of the pasta water......Ta-Dah

The homemade fresh egg pasta cost approx 10c per person! I used to buy Lidl egg tagliatelle for €1.69 and use half the box for a meal for three of us. (I would still recommend it) If I make this dish one more time I will have recouped my 'investment' of €1 for the pasta maker!

                                                    Easy, Quick, Thrifty and absolutely delicious.

                                                    Linking to Lakotas Ta-Dah Tuesday

Monday, 19 November 2012

Secret ingredient

 Over the week-end we made our Christmas pudding. Such an easy thing to make, I won't bore you with a tutorial, if you make one, you probably use a family recipe. If you don't make one you either don't like pudding  or you are happy to buy one. 
I make my Mums recipe, because I love her Christmas pudding and I make brandy butter to go with it, because that what Mum always does. 
I worked out last year that making my own is about a quarter of the cost of buying a good one. 

It has become a thing Little Bee and me do together, because weighing out the ingredients, juicing fruit, chucking it all in a bowl and stirring are all things Little Bee excels at. If baking involves snaffling handfuls of sultanas and almonds and glace cherries then HappY DaYs !!!

There is less 'snaffling' when it comes to adding the wet ingredients. Home grown eggs are a must, obvs.
Mums recipe calls for Guinness and brandy, but since I have been making my own the only ingredient I substitute is the Brandy.

You are unlikely to have come across Old Monk rum unless you are one of the lucky people to have holidayed or visited  India. This bottle of rum is a remnant of the last time I traveled to India which was for our honeymoon in 2005. In a previous career I was fortunate enough to travel there at least twice a year for the best part of about 20 years. It took a while for me to fall in love with the place, but I eventually I did.

750mls of Old Monk cost Rs.175 which is just over 3 quid, and it is so out of date its not funny.
Little Bee said it smells like nail varnish  remover but as soon as I opened the bottle....

I was transported........ here. 

Which isn't bad for a sniff, in my kitchen, on a stormy afternoon in the Wicklow mountains.

Linking with 'a very dark horse's Christmas traditions

Thursday, 15 November 2012


When I was living in Central London 15 years ago I had a friend who used to swear by her wind up parking angel to help her to find convenient parking spaces. When you wound the angel up, her wings would flap and by the time she stopped flapping a space would miraculously appear. I witnessed it on several occasions and although we always got a space, I would never be so daft as to think this plastic bit of tat was responsible.  

I'm aware that some people put a lot of faith in angels (not made of silver plastic) and i say each to his own, whatever rocks your boat. 

A couple of weeks ago after an initial viewing at the auction I frequent occasionally, I stopped in a nearby town to run into a few charity shops. This area is quite difficult to find handy legitimate parking spaces and they do need to be legitimate as this place is also crawling with traffic wardens.

Anyway, without the help of any angels whatsoever I found a spot and put 30 minutes money in the metre.
There are three charity shops in the same stretch and I duly browsed each one. I made a few purchases and simply lost track of time. I went running back to the car, relieved to see no sign of a clamp or warden. As I drove off I notice the 'documents enclosed' plastic pocket tucked under the windscreen wiper.

Feck!! Feckity!! Feck!!!(or something similar) Parking tickets/fines are not very thrifty. When I go to ridiculous lengths to  save every penny and get the best deals, then having to fork out on a parking ticket is going to be extremely painful.

I was furious.....I stopped the car and retrieved the damned thing.....opened it........and this is what I found.

Well knock me down with a feather (white feather?) What a wonderful feeling this was. 
I went from fury to euphoria in seconds. Yipppeeee! How fantastic.

Seems that local businesses are at loggerheads with the traffic wardens. Their prolific ticket issuing is potentially damaging to business in the town.  Volunteer Parking angels are feeding lapsed metres to ensure customers are not put off  shopping the high street. Having googled for a parking angel image, I discovered that in Devon/Exeter way the same scheme is happening.  Anything like this happening in your area?

The best thing about this is it gives me the license to spend a guilt free €20 in the area and €20 donation to the angels.


Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Ta-dah Tuesday - eggcellent!!!!

Two months ago with Little Bees birthday money we went shopping for a new flock of hens. I posted about it here. and here

Betty, Ginger, Rosy (showing her backside) Bluebell and Russell (Crow)

The hens, we were told were about two weeks away from laying.
Hens start to lay at about 26 weeks old, you can tell when they are close because their combs go redder and redder. We waited and watched patiently........the weather turned a bit colder and the days got shorter and both less heat and especially less light will slow down egg production, or in this case delay it starting. They could, of course, have been younger birds, but they were bought from a lovely free range hen seller who is unlikely to have lied about their age.

We went to Scotland last week for the weekend (and had a fabulous time). Our neighbours very kindly fed and locked up the flock at night. When we got home I went to feed them and found four lovely fresh eggs waiting for me. I am so happy to be back in our own egg production again. In fact i was so excited I forgot to photograph the eggs but cooked one up for Little Bee to have when she got in from school.

Ta-Dah! Happy Days!!

Friday, 9 November 2012

Buzzed off.

After an absence from posting for a while I read Me and my shadow's husbands post about cold water swimming (rather him than me!!). Missie Lizzie extends an invitation to give free reign to the 'other half' and suggest he guest blogs on his obsession hobby. 

Tonight I have offered the same opportunity to Mr Thrift Bee to which he asked 'Can i write anything i want?' my reply of 'within reason' was met with instant grumblings about freedom of speech, censorship and wishing to be truly free to express himself.  

So,  instead I will take this opportunity to publish a collection of photos that have been a draft post for a couple of months. Taken throughout the summer of  my old mans hobby......Beekeeping.

We have seven hives in our garden. Two of them are on the roof of his shed.

As he is a carpenter by trade, he is able to make all his own hives. Which he does on an ongoing basis.

Which is more shocking the love of my life in a  space suit and marigolds or the large swarm of bees on a branch which he brought to the window to show me???!!!!

There are, of course, wonderful rewards. Little Bee is mighty knowledgeable about the life of a bee colony and how honey is produced. She is holding a frame of capped honeycomb. 

And here, on  my scorched kitchen table is another frame full of honey.

The two active cells have baby bees in them, they are in the process of cutting themselves out.

A fairly crude way of extracting the honey from the frame with a spoon.
(We needed a jar to enter into our local agricultural show and as usual had left it until the last minute)

Strain out the wax and........

Runny honey.(and a pretty sticky kitchen and a six year old rushing on a natural sugar overload)

Heather honey.

The clear honey was produced before the heather flowers in August. After that the honey produced when the bees forage on the heather is much stronger and gloopier (and more difficult to extract)

This was the result from the few frames he scraped.  I have to admit it is one of our most precious home produced harvests. Like a full log pile, a cupboard full of honey is extremely comforting.

I posted about the show he entered our honey in here.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Ta-Dah Tuesday - Trip the light fantastic!

I'm sure I'm not alone in getting stuck into a certain category of thrift and perhaps going a bit overboard every now and then.  Both Mr Thrift Bee and Little Bee have started saying 'not another lamp' when I come home from a days scavenging shopping. But one of these angled lamps has been on my thrift list for a while. Its really heavy base prevents it from falling over. I'm thrilled with it.

This is the third standard lamp I've bought in the last two weeks. One I'm keeping, the second is for a friend who said she wanted one when she saw mine. This one is for selling at the flea market. It has a lovely mid century modern feel about it, but the shade is a bit dull. What i'd really like is a straight sided circular shade and will keep my eyes peeled. In the meantime I decided to give this shade a makeover.

Using some recently thrifted paper tablecloths,

some spray adhesive and watered down pva glue

It took a while to work out the best way to cut the paper but my boring cream shade became....


And looks like this lit up.