Saturday, 15 December 2012

A Little Something for the Weekend (Luxury weekend breakfast)

I love my weekends and I want to make them special!

During the week I tend to grab a quick cup of instant coffee before I head off for work and if the mid morning hunger pangs bite I might just succumb to a luke warm bacon sarnie from the school cafe.
So, with time permitting at the weekend, I like to make breakfast a much more luxurious affair. Maybe not on both mornings, but it's nice to indulge on at least one of the mornings.
An example of a weekend breakfast is:

A cafetiere of fresh coffee
A slice of home made bread freshly toasted and spread with butter 
Scrambled free range egg with smoked salmon

There are one or two things that I do which for me raise this breakfast into the truly luxurious category.

The bread - this has to be decent, preferably home made bread. None of that airy white fluffy stuff that passes for bread so often.

(I never use margarine - it has no place in my house)

Scrambled egg- the eggs must be free range. I also like my eggs scrambled the traditional way in a pan (with butter!) rather than microwaved, and rather than add milk I like to add just a touch of cream.

Okay, I know what you are thinking - "no way is that frugal!!!"


...I disagree.

My bread is homemade (see this post)

While I do insist on butter, I will buy the cheapest I can find.

From an animal welfare standpoint I just will not buy anything less than free range eggs.

Cream - I add this when I have some left from a recipe during the week. This is often single cream which is less than 50p for a small pot and I find you only need a dessertspoon full to enrich the egg.

Smoked salmon - this was some of a reduced pack of hot smoked salmon from Lidl, but failing the opportunity for reduced smoked salmon, ASDA do smoked salmon offcuts for 99p which will stretch for quite a few servings of scrambled egg.

The calorie count - ooh well that's a whole other game and hey it is only once a week!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Faith, Hope & Charity Christmas Swap

I just had to pop in and show you all the lovely goodies that Rebecca from Crivens Cottage sent me when we were partnered up in Lakota's  Christmas swap.

The most snuggly scarf in jewel bright seasonal colours, just right for keeping me snug and warm during my long commutes.

A fabulous Merry Christmas Garland 

Two of the most fantastic smelling bathbomb cupcakes each decorated with a sprig of holly - seriously I wish this blog had smellavision, they are divine!

Four beautifully crafted felt baubles now taking pride of place on my tree.

The most wonderful enameled brass bangle & a pair of brilliant dangly earrings set with black stones, both are so me!

Rebecca has obviously researched my blog well to put together a swap that is so suited to my tastes.

As is usual for me I totally forgot to take any piccies of what I sent to Rebecca until it was all wrapped and packed, by which time I wasn't about to unpack it all.

Luckily for me you can pop over to Rebecca's blog and see photographs of what I sent in her blog post.

A big thank you to Lakota for organising another fab swap and to Rebecca for being such a lovely swap partner.


Saturday, 8 December 2012

A Little Something for the Weekend (Bespoke Bookmark Tutorial)

Number two of my weekend posts into injecting a little frugal luxury into life.

Do you know someone who loves books?

I'm sure you do, so here's a quick cheap and nifty little gift that could be just the perfect stocking filler.

Best of all being handmade, this is a custom made gift that can be tailored to suit the recipient...

...and even better while the gift is bespoke, the cost certaintly isn't.

(I'm going to apologise for the poor quality of the photographs in advance, my camera recently died and I got my old camera out but forgot how to adjust the settings!)

I made this bookmark as a stocking filler for my eldest daughter, she who has a penchant for all things gothic.

To fit with her personality I chose a black ribbon with copper tone ribbon ends. I set off one end with a black beaded drop that was actually from an old earring. The other end I added an ornate key charm.

I'm sure that you can see how easy it would be to customise these to the personality and taste of the recipient. Indeed I also made one of these for a recent swap using a cream satin ribbon and adding cream/gold bead detail and a vintage dress charm. Unfortunately my camera died at the time so I was unable to take any pictures before sending it off.

You will need:
A pair of pliers
Two ribbon crimp ends
Two dangly bits of your choice
Two jump rings
Approx 34cm ribbon the same width as your crimp ends

(You can source all the bits and pieces that you will need on good old Ebay.)

Place one end of your ribbon into the open crimp end and then press closed using your pliers if necessary.

Repeat on the other end.

Open a jump ring and use to attach one of your dangly bits to one of the ribbon ends.

Repeat at the other end.

That's It!!!

Keeping the place in my favourite cookery book.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

A Little Something for the Weekend (Frugal Artisan Bread)

The first in a series of weekend posts about injecting a little frugal luxury into everyday living.

Frugal Artisan Bread

Oooh I love nice bread.

A lovely organic artisan loaf, fresh from the oven, a luxury item I'm sure you'll agree.

Unfortunately it usually comes with a hefty luxury price tag as well, that just doesn't fit with the notion of frugality.

Similar loaves are priced at £2.50 and upwards!

Luxury - Yes.
Frugal - No.

Unless you make your own.

Now I know what you're thinking - "Uhhh No!! - too complicated!" or  "I don't have the time"

Well let me tell you - this will be one of the easiest, peasiest loaves of bread that you ever did make.
There's no kneading, you don't need a bread-maker and if anything it's probably easier than using a bread-maker.

It will take time (about 24hours), but it won't take YOUR time. (Well no more than 5 or 10 minutes of it.)

Take three cups of plain flour (I like organic, but no doubt cheaper with non organic - you pays your money and takes your choice.)

Put into a large bowl and add 2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp of dried fast action yeast.

Give a little stir, then add 1 1/2 cups of water. Now to get the temperature of the water right I always use 1/2 boiling water to 1/2 cold water.

Give it a stir with a wooden spoon.

It will be a very soft loose dough - not at all like normal bread dough. Cover it with cling film and leave it at room temperature for at least 18 hours. Yes I did say 18 hours. I left mine for 24 hours.

Slowly your dough will rise and eventually double in size. after 18-24 hrs (it is very forgiving, timings do not need to be exact) prepare a board by sprinkling liberally with flour.

Remove the cling film - don't throw it away yet - and scoop the dough out onto your prepared board, shaping it into a cob shape as you do so. It helps to flour your hands liberally at this point the dough is very soft. Cover with the cling film.

Set your oven to the highest setting it will go and place within the oven a covered casserole dish. An enameled cast iron casserole is preferable, but any covered casserole dish should work. After 30 minutes take the casserole dish out of the oven and remove the lid. Remove the cling film from the bread dough, flour your hands and quickly pick up the lump of dough and dump it into the hot casserole.

Put the lid on and pop it in the oven for about 40 minutes. remove the lid and return to the oven for an extra 15 minutes.

Result - a beautiful organic artisan loaf with minimal effort.

My organic flout cost £1 and will make 3 loaves so 33p for the flour. 
1 hour's use of an electric oven approx 35p
Cost of yeast and salt approx 10p

So overall cost 78p.

Obviously cheaper if you decide to use non organic flour and if you also make use of the oven to either cook more than one loaf at a time or to cook something else with the bread.
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