Sunday, 20 October 2013

Those were the days, my friend ...

I've been having a bit of a wander down memory lane this week.  Looking on other blogs, I often see things from my childhood that I had quite forgotten about and they trigger a torrent of memories.

The other day, I saw a tray that we had in the seventies, but then I remembered that there were matching coasters too.  The coasters were taped to the top of a jar of something or other as a free gift, and the tray was probably an offer, that you saved coupons for and sent away.  I remember persuading my Mam to buy a jar of Sun Pat peanut butter, and as we'd never had it before she was a bit dubious, but big, round pop star badges were stuck to the lid ... there were 3 David Cassidy ones, and I got them all! Peanut butter lost it's exotic allure for a while though, as I had to eat it until it was gone ...

Thank you, Google!

My Mam was the Queen of Special Offers ... avidly collecting coupons from magazines and newspapers, saving wrappers, cutting out tokens, you name it, my Mam did it to get a free gift! Every time we walked into town, we would be urged in a hissed whisper "quick, there's a Twix wrapper, I only need one, then we'll get a Twix-a-skip".  The wrapper would be dusted off, then put under the pillow of my baby brother's pram along with the multitude of various other wrappings from the Great British confectionery cupboard. 

Similar to a Twix-a-Skip - Google

 The postman would arrive most days with exciting parcels ... Toys, games, drinking glasses, mugs, bowls ... trial offers of food, washing powder and soap.  Every now and then we'd have a Green Shield stamp evening ... Sitting round the kitchen table, licking sheets of stamps collected from Tesco ... because every little helps! The catalogue would be perused, and the order sent off.  In those days you allowed 28 days for delivery, so we'd probably forgotten what we sent for, and had a nice surprise when it eventually arrived. 

From Google - many thanks!

When I went to my Nana's, I would help her count her cigarette coupons, and we'd look through the Embassy catalogue together.  Very un-PC, being rewarded for smoking yourself to death! The amount of money my lovely Nana would have saved if she had stopped smoking, she would probably have been able to buy everything in the book ...

Google with thanks!

Perhaps I get my thriftiness from my Mam ... she was a great recycler, and armed with her Singer, would turn old towels into bath mats, and on one memorable occasion, night time nappies for my brother, with press stud fastenings ... she was ahead of her time on that one! Old jumpers and woollens would be unpicked and unravelled, the wool soaked and rolled into new balls.  Socks, past their best, would be cut up and fashioned into dresses for my Sindy doll, or made into sock puppets. 

I broke off from writing this post to go to the Sunday car boot sale at the Cattle Auction Mart, and something very strange happened ... this week I was collecting my sister, who has never been before but is on the hunt for vintage loveliness for her daughter Rosie's wedding (there'll be handbags at dawn, we'll be scrapping in the cattle stalls!).

On the way in the car, I was telling her that I was writing a nostalgic post about our Mam, and told her that the one thing I really wanted to find was a little white pyrex bowl with roses on  ... it was another of Mam's free gifts, and I had my cereal in it every morning when I was a child, that was my Holy Grail ... I had been scanning the shelves fruitlessly for ages ... I described it to her, but she couldn't really remember ...

These are the treasures I unearthed, and can you see what Helen found for me at the bottom right? Would I have found it myself  and if I hadn't mentioned it to Helen she would definitely not have noticed it ... these are the things we will never know ... thank you, Helen!

Have a lovely Sunday, and hope you have fun treasure hunting too!

Love, Claire xxx

PS : Sorry about the font, I don't know what's happened, but I'm always a bit scared in case I delete everything by messing about! I'll just leave it like this for now ...

Monday, 14 October 2013

Bits and pieces ...

A rather random post today my lovelies, hence the title! Sometimes a song pops into my head and I think "I'll have to do a post around that" or I think of a post and then try to find lyrics that fit.  Does anyone else do this? Erm, probably not! I'd love to know how you think of your post titles though ...

Have been a bit thrifty this week, not only with the treasures that I usually bring in, but at the supermarket too ... I don't want to bore you all with shopping lists, but on the way home from school this morning, I bought this little lot for less than £13 from the Co-op ... I would have bought more,  but wasn't in my car! Vegetarians please look away ... 'Best' crumpets,  Lean minced steak, 6 free range chicken breasts, 3 pork steaks, 4 Thai fishcakes, hummous, bread, red onions, and four packs of canneloni, which come in when sustenance is needed very quickly.  Oh, and the beautiful roses above were a bargain last Monday and have lasted a whole week for less than £3! My freezer is full of red, orange and yellow stickers, but who cares? We eat well for very little and it's getting to the stage were I don't want to pay full price for anything. Then again, we are Thriftwood, so it's to be expected!

I've been enjoying some lovely reads (I love the Autumnal covers on the mags out right now)

and I've been busy with my Tattypics ... I've sold this one and received several commissions ...

Quite a cottage industry ... except I don't live in a cottage ...

Last week I visited the lovely little market town of Kirkby Lonsdale (forgot my camera, doh!) and went for lunch in a swanky restaurant.  It was my friend Tracey's special birthday and I was treating her to lunch.  We had been before and opted for our favourite dish Gambas with Chorizo and Tagliatelle.  It cost about £11 and was delicious, but thought I could probably recreate it for much less.

Tagliatelle with Tiger Prawns & Chorizo

First of all I make a basic Tomato Sauce (with a few additions!) no weighing or measuring, this is just how I've done it, but I'll put some in the freezer.

Sweat 2 red onions and 2 white onions in olive oil.  Add finely chopped chillies, garlic and ginger (I strongly recommend using a Kenwood Mini Chopper, they are worth their weight in gold!) and fry for about 2 mins.  Add 3 tins of chopped tomatoes and any tomatoes that may be lurking in the fridge,  bring to the boil and simmer for as long as you like.  The longer you do it for (up to 5 or 6  hours in a slow cooker) the more intense the flavour will be, and your home will be filled with delicious, rich aromas.

When ready to eat, cook some tagliatelle (I usually use 2 rounds per person), chop some chorizo, add to pan, and then add cooked King or Tiger Prawns and heat through.  Serve on a bed of tagliatelle with a lemon wedge, black pepper and a sprinkling of Parmesan.  It cost me less than £6 to make all this and there is probably 10 portions! (Using Aldi Chorizo and King Prawns).  You can of course add your own ingredients to the tomato sauce.

Thought I'd just leave you with these two cheery chappies! Wonder where they are now, and what on Earth he's pointing at?  Love a man in a balaclava ...

I've done a fair bit of advertising today, but swear to God I'm not sponsored by anyone ... just over-excited to share my bargains!

Have a warm and wonderful week!

Love from Claire xxx

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

All the leaves are brown, and the sky is grey ...

Well, that's September done and dusted for another year! It's funny,  the melancholia has just lifted ... it's like this every year ... all the changes have happened, not without a bit of drama, admittedly, but all sorted now, as far as we are able, and everyone's getting on with their new routines.

For the first time in it seems like ages, me and Steve got up early on Sunday morning, with the intention of calling in at a car boot sale at Ulverston, on the way to Windermere, where we were heading to pick up some much-needed Annie Sloan paint.  Just as I was approaching Ulverston, I saw a sign advertising my favourite car boot sale, which I hadn't realised was on.  I bought the lovely little English Bull Terrier dog there ... to think I almost missed him!

When we got back I set to with my tins of paint and started upcycling.  I forgot to photograph the mirror above and the table/side cupboard below before their makeover ... just believe me, they were in a very dire state!

This is a lovely sewing chest which I upcycled a while ago ... the outside was absolutely appalling, filthy, cracked vinyl ... when you opened it, it was lined with the most beautiful, vintage fabric!

I have a fair few Vintage events coming up, so the paintbrush is always out! My evenings are spent making crochet brooches and embroidered pictures, as my stall needs stocking up for the big 'C' (spoken in a whisper) events ...

Just a quick post today, my lovelies, I promise to be back soon, but my lunch is calling ... Butternut Squash and Peanut soup ... recipe below if you'd like it ... just the ticket for days when there's a chill in the air ...

Butternut Squash & Peanut Soup

2 large Onions
1 large Butternut Squash
2 tins chopped tomatoes
(any other red, yellow, orange veg you want to add!)
Finely chopped chillis, ginger and garlic
2 chicken or veg stock cubes
Smooth Peanut Butter

Sweat the onions in olive oil until cooked, add the chillis, ginger and garlic and continue to cook for a few minutes ... then add all the rest of the ingredients (chopped or diced) and bring to the boil.  Simmer for up to 40 minutes, then cool.  Blend until smooth and add a dollop of peanut butter, and heat through to melt.  Serve with a swirl of cream and lots of crusty bread and butter.

I've been quite loose with the quantities, but this does make a lot ... I decant it into takeaway boxes and freeze it so I have it handy in the right portion size.  I haven't met anyone who doesn't like this ... you can just leave the peanut butter out if someone has a peanut allergy, and it could be added separately to individual bowls and stirred in. It's actually very versatile, curry powder can be added, it can be topped with croutons or grated cheese ... the possibilities are endless!

Bon Appettit!

Oh yes, before I forget, me and Millie are a bit excited ... have booked tickets on a coach to Harrogate for the Country Living Fair at the end of November ... oooh, we're madly saving up for afternoon tea at Betty's!!

Have a lovely week, won't you?

Love, Claire xxx