Saturday 31 May 2014

Charity shop shopping trip

Last weekend we had a pootle down the motorway from our home in Carlisle to Oxford, via Bournemouth  (long story).

It was an early start and my morning brew was waiting for me when I dragged my weary body out of bed and into the car, then it was onto the M6 for miles, and miles...... and miles.

We were staying at Hubster's Mum's house, and knowing my love for pottering around charity shops she took me to a couple of rather good ones.

The first one was this... The Kathryn Turner Trust.  Which is in Abingdon, Oxfordshire.

It is a large unit on a business park and it is filled to the rafters (or rather, the corrugated roof) with stuff!

So much stuff.   Stuff upon stuff with stuff underneath.



Books....  (lots)

Clothes, shoes.... mattresses.

I found something that excited me so much I did one of those little dances on the spot.  You know when you jog about like you need to pee?   That.  But it is surely worth a blog post of it's own, it's THAT exciting.   However, you can see it in one of the photos above, wonder if anyone can work out what it might be?  If you can, I might just send a little gift to the first one to comment with the correct answer)

But I also bought these gorgeous soup bowls.  They were in a set along with a coffee set, pot, milk jug, cups etc....  I only wanted the bowls so they charged me half price - £5.00.  Complete bargain.  6 bowls with lids and saucers. You might spot them popping up in recipe blogs from time to time.

I picked up this lovely frame too, for just one shiny pound.  I am hoping to somehow fit my Ganesha picture in it that I got for my birthday, it's a bit big really but I may be able to cobble up a nice background.

The next shop we went to was this one - Changing Lives in Didcot, only a few miles away.

They had a marvelous display of knitted garden veg and allotment style things in their window.  (That's my in-laws in the reflection  :)  )

A smaller shop this time, but still stuffed with stuff.

I picked myself two tops up....

A pretty David Emmanuel one.

And a Monsoon one.

Oh, and a walking stick.  I don't need the walking stick, as I don't need the other three I already have at home, but I keep meaning to do something with them..... and this was a nice one  :)

I love charity shop shopping, it has to be one of my favourite past times.

Do you?

Friday 30 May 2014

Surprise birthday trip to Newcastle

Do you remember I mentioned, in my Big Fat Birthday post that my sister had something planned for the Thursday of that week?

Well, yesterday was Thursday, and I had strict instructions to meet her in town at 10.00am sharp!   TEN AM !  TEN in the MORNING!, me??

As it happens, Hubster is off work this week so he was making breakfast and bringing brews to try and get me sorted and out in time.

I had an inkling that we might be going somewhere on the train, wasn't sure where as a previous guess had been denied, but I did think the surprise involved a train ride.

So, we were wandering around town, looking in various shops, when she got a phone call - apparently she had agreed to lend a friend a tenner so had to go down to the station RIGHT NOW to give her it.  I did chuckle to myself.  (He he he, she must think I am stupid or something).

We get onto the platform, find the train - I realise we are heading to Newcastle, but as I pass the carriage I spot the party banners and balloons.   Seriously, that better NOT be for me!

"Is that for me, that better not be for me" I said, refusing to get on the train.  "Honestly, that better not be for me!"

But as I glanced down the carriage I noticed people were sitting at the table so it can't have been for me after all - thank goodness for small mercies!

Only, it was.  Because as I approached the table there sat my besties Lezley and Lorraine  (and a rather copious amount of alcohol!!  - Well, it was 10.30am by this point)

The sly buggers!

Julie had organised a girls day out.  Apart from the balloons and the banners I was a happy bunny, and cheerfully sat down to have a sneaky wee drink.
(I don't actually like Pimms, but this was gorgeous.)

When we got to Newcastle we were looking for a restaurant called "GA GA" in a place called "The Wall".
We looked for ages and ages.  Julie had been just a few weeks earlier and was dragging us around to find it.  Upon realising that we were going around in circles we decided to Google it and discovered it was actually called "ZA ZA (Bazaar)" in a place called "The Gate".

So near, and yet so far....   :)

This restaurant is a massive buffet place, with all different styles of food - Chinese, Indian, Thai, Italian, Pizza, Mexican, Old English, and more. (Oh salad too, we skipped that bit).

After a bowl of pasta made just for me at the pasta station, and (ahem) 2 and a bit plates of food, we were starting to feel a little stuffed.

Pudding time!

There were many, many puddings on offer, luckily only 4 were available to me (as a veggie) and I only liked two of those.  I say 'luckily' as I literally had no room left to squeeze them in. 

But I tried.  A little lemon meringue pie and a little banoffee pie.

Couldn't finish it!

Feeling more than uncomfortable we set off for a bit of shopping.  It was blooming hard work carrying all that food around, I can tell you.

We found a Primark (we don't have such a thing in our fair City back home)  and spent a good hour or so wandering up and down between the floors.

Julie bought two pairs of shoes.  She couldn't decide between white with blue stripes, or blue with white, so she got both  :)

All too soon it was time to come home again.   We jumped on the train, with out left-over cans of alco-pops and groaned all the way home about how much food we had eaten.

What a great day!   Thanks to all involved, but remember, I owe you one now  ;)

Thursday 29 May 2014

Garlic Mushroom Risotto

I shared this on Facebook a while back with the hashtag #ShareYourTeaTuesday and thought you might like the recipe, as easy as it is  :)

It's a creamy, low fat, garlic mushroom, barley risotto.

All you need is:
  • Barley  (or rice of course, but barely has a lovely texture to it)
  • A tin of condensed soup - I used mushroom, but asparagus or celery works well too.
  • Spinach leaves
  • Mushrooms
  • Olive Oil
  • Chilli Flakes
  • Garlic

So what you do is:
  • Wash and chop the mushrooms, then chuck them in a good non-stick pan with the chilli flakes, garlic and olive oil.   I never worry about measurements, just chuck in what looks right.

  • Once the mushrooms have softened slightly, add a real good handful of spinach - this stuff wilts away to nothing so you can't have too much  :)
  • Boil the kettle at this point.

  • Then add the well rinsed barley and kind of stir-fry it to toast the barley to give it a nutty taste.

  • Now add a mugful of boiling water to the pan and give the barley a good hard simmer for a few minutes.

  • Drop in the condensed soup and stir until it is all creamy.

  • Wash out the can with water and add to the pan.  You may need to add more water as it cooks, just play it by ear.
  • Simmer for half an hour or so, or until the barley is firm but not crunchy, stirring regularly.

  • Eat with a rather large glass of wine and sprinkled with black pepper   :)

Join in with #ShareYourTeaTuesday and let's all inspire each other  :)

Wednesday 28 May 2014

My big fat Birthday

Last Saturday (24th May) was my Birthday.

My own Birthday is never something I really bother with - I always tell people "not to bother", but they don't listen.

I think it stems from when I was young, we always seemed to be on Holiday on my birthday, which was great - it somehow feels more special as everyone is together.  However, it was usually a holiday camp like Pontins  (never Butlins) or Haven, or an independent, and there was usually entertainment.

Of course, the compare always asked "Any Birthdays in the house?" and the birthday kid would have to get up on stage while everyone sang 'Happy Birthday', then they got a t-shirt.   On my 10th birthday I remember the t-shirt being bright yellow with the camp's logo on the front.

My parents used to ask "don't you want a t-shirt?".  I kinda did want the t-shirt, I just didn't want to stand on stage while everyone sung to me, so I used to beg them to keep quiet.

I still feel the same, I like to brush my birthday under the carpet.  And, actually, I succeeded for many years until the good old rise of Facebook.  Even though I don't have my birthday listed on there, it only takes one person to know and put a "Happy Birthday" post on your wall for the WHOLE WORLD AND HIS WIFE to start wishing you birthday greetings.   :)

So, I suppose (begrudgingly) I should embrace the whole birthday thing and roll with it........ (I do like pressies though  ;) )

On the morning of "The Big Day", my lovely Hubster made me a brew and brought it up to bed, where he gave me a pressie from his Mum  (it has arrived in the week, addressed to him, because I cannot be trusted not to open it.  I accept and admit this allegation)

It was a cute owl bag, perfect for a project bag and just my kind of thing  :)

Look, full of wool already, how did that happen?

I always look forward to her beautiful cards, they are hand made using the craft of "quilling" (rolling paper up into little shapes, although I am sure there are better explanations)

Just look at the work that is put in, tiny little scrolls of paper, sprinkled with glitter..... gorgeous.

Speaking of home-made cards, I also got this beauty from my friend, Jan.  Isn't it just so pretty?

Hubster had got me tickets to go and see Dolly Parton in June, so really looking forward to that, apparently he has something else in mind too, but they were out of stock, so will have to wait for that :)

After a brew and toast it was time to go and visit Ruby the puppy.  Hopefully we are coming to the end of our visiting this week and will be bringing the little monkey home.

As it was my birthday, I bought 40 tennis balls for all the doggies they have in the refuge at the moment, that was my birthday gift to them.  Hope they enjoy them  :)

Then I had to wait patiently for Shona to finish work so she could give me her pressie.  She got me tickets to go and see "The South" a band made up of former members of "The Beautiful South".  We are going together, having a night away - a nice meal, a night in a hotel and a few glasses of something naughty I suspect  :).  Really looking forward to that.

Marie made me the most marvellous paper-cut of Ganesha, the work that has gone into this is amazing, I need to get it framed and on the wall as soon as  :)

On the evening, Hubster had booked a table at a posh restaurant, just out of town at a village called Wetheral, which incidentally is the same village as the refuge that Ruby is at.  The restaurant is called Fantails.

I had the most lovely nut roast, topped with goats cheese and served with home made chips and fresh veggies.   Stuffed as a little piglet I was!

We were offered desert, as you are, but decided - for some random reason - to land on my parents door step with some cake and have a little birthday get-together.  At 10pm at night!  Collected Shona & Marie and my sister Julie on the way, and we are ate cake and drank wine  :)

My birthday is continuing throughout the week, as my sister has something planned for Thursday, I have the concert with Shona  on Friday, and hopefully Ruby will be home at the weekend.

Happy days  :)

Saturday 24 May 2014

Crochet Mohair Scarf

I had a huge cone of mohair yarn, it was the palest pink, but if you looked carefully you would find glints of white, darker pink and lilacs mixed with white.

No idea what I was going to do with it, but I grabbed a hook and just started to crochet.   

At first I started with Granny Clusters (groups of three Trebles), but after a few rows I felt it needed something else, so I added in a few rows of Double Trebles.

Quite pleased with it.  nice and soft and snuggly.
Although, personally, I cannot wear mohair as it makes me itch!

I might make this into a kit....... one day  :)

Friday 23 May 2014

Overlocker Sewing Machine

Way, way back many centuries ago.....  well, in August 2011, I bought a pattern for a jumper coat.

Photo used from Katwise Etsy Account.
The technique was to cut up strips of old sweaters and sew them together using an overlocker sewing machine.  I didn't have an overlocker at the time, but I bought the pattern anyway, as it's just a bit too cool and hippy  :)

You can find the pattern HERE if you fancy a go yourself.

Anyhooo months later, in November 2012 would you believe an Overlocker popped up on a Facebook selling site?  No?  Neither did I.  I was bouncing about in my office chair like a woman possessed.

Even then I had the patience to go in with a lower offer, and it was accepted!  I got this 9 month old overlocker for £65!  Bargain!

For months it has sat in the box, unloved.  To be honest all those dials frightened the life out of me.  It takes me all my time to thread my single sewing machine needle, never mind four of them!  Not attempting it, no way, no how.

Fast Forward 18 months and I got talking to a friend, who uses an Overlocker quite regularly.  She offered to give me a lesson, so off I went, box tucked under arm.  She took it out - whipped in the threads at record speed, threw a bit of fabric at me and it worked!!!  I overlocked something  :)

Right then, off to the charity shops for some pretty coloured sweaters   :)

ps: The Amazon links are affiliated  if you click and buy I might get a few pennies.  Just so you know :)