December 8, 2013 § 2 Comments
I haven’t written in a long time, I know, I had some visitors last week and have been a bit out of sorts.
Firstly, as you can see from the picture above, today’s the day for the tot-up of the Sealed Pot Challenge over on SFT’s (Saving for Travel) blog :) December comes around so quickly! Every year you can join in with the challenge and stash away any extra pennies towards a particular goal and on a certain day we open them all and count up how much we saved. It’s a really nice way to catch some of that money that otherwise seems to fritter its way into nothingness and let you have something that you wanted for yourself. I find SFT’s blog really inspiring not just for saving and traveling but for staying motivated and focused on your goal.
This year I would say I managed a C+, the goal was to put away 2€ a week, which I thought I managed to do but in fact I came away a little short. Not to matter, I will put it towards some new simple jersey bedlinen that I have wanted to have for a long time :) It’s a little “Happy Christmas” to myself :) A lot of our bedlinen has been gifted to us, and although we were happy to receive the present (that we needed at the time), they don’t really match and aren’t really my taste. They will be washed and put in the charity collection dispensers.
Another little funny thing is that out of the coppers saved I was able to bundle them up into amounts I can put in the stamps machine and this will pay for christmas postage. Putting €3 – €4 in coppers to work is not too shabby either! The little paper Poinsettia flower is what I am sending as cards this year. I’m hoping that they will get reused as a decoration by the recipient! (I did not cut them out myself, I bought them in a craft-shop). Am I the only person who loves getting rid of coppers? Somehow I see it more like clutter that just sits around but it really adds up!
November 7, 2013 § 2 Comments
After Hallowe’en at home, I was craving my granny’s chicken and vegetable soup. She had told me how to make it a few years ago but it’s never quite the same as when she makes it! It does taste pretty close to the real thing. It’s almost like scotch broth, a clear, unblended soup with pieces of fluffy barley and short bits and shreds of chicken. It requires a little bit of “Soup Mix” steeped overnight, which I have never seen for sale in Germany but it is one of those un-glamourously packaged foods for sale in the supermarket at home. Soup Mix is not just any old packet soup mix, but a particular mix of yellow split peas, red lentils, barley and split green peas. I only had pearl barley so I used that. It’s quite uncomplicated to make, you just need time to let it cook.
- A handful of soup mix, steeped overnight
- Two chicken legs (what I used) or some chicken thighs or some leftover roast chicken or shin beef
- A large carrot, cut into small cubes
- A large parsnip, grated
- A stick of celery chopped finely
- A small onion, chopped finely
- A chicken or vegetable stock cube for a litre and a half of water (can add more after)
- A large handful of parsley torn quite loosely (and keep a few sprigs for decoration)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Put all of the above in a large pot that has a lid (or a slow cooker) and leave on a low heat for a few hours. I did mine in the crockpot overnight on medium and when I lifted the legs out to shred the meat a little bit and discard the bones, most of the meat just fell off back into the pot as I was trying to lift it out! LOL! You can add more water later if it is too stew-y for your liking. It’s supposed to be a broth.
I hope you enjoy it if you would like to try to make it. It freezes really well. I have never tried to make it with the shin beef as yet. I had some for lunch today and it was soooo good :)
October 27, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Hello dear readers :) Yesterday I had a go at making the barmbrack that I had mentioned in my last post. I had intended to give it to the charity auction, but didn’t get the time to make it so I raffled off some lovely books instead. So, in the end my raisins were soaking in tea for 5 days! LOL! And here is how it turned out:
As you can see, I have not taken a bite yet, but it looks and smells like brack (in Ireland we just call it brack). In Ireland, it’s not quite hallowe’en without a cup of tea and a slice of buttered brack :)
Looking through lots of online recipes, it was actually quite hard to find one that isn’t like a fruit loaf or like a soda bread and one that is made with yeast because from my memory that is quite essential. My boyfriend commented that it also looks like a “real” brack. Supermarket-bought brack is more often made in a round shape, but my round cake tin is too big so I just baked it in my loaf tin.
The brack itself is an old hallowe’en custom, where different little objects (usually at least either a coin or a ring) are baked into the cake. Finding the ring foretold love or marraige for the finder in the coming year and the coin meant that the finder would have some luck financially. In keeping with the tradition, I baked a cleaned €2 coin, wrapped well in tinfoil into the cake :)
October 20, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Hello friends, and an especially warm welcome to two new followers, Bombladoze and Rebecca Anne :) I hope you’ve all had a wonderful week, I have just got through week 2 of my physio and my shoulder is feeling so much better already. I’ve been feeling so grateful this week for all the help to make me better and have been doing great.
Coming up this week at work we have an annual charity event which this year is going to be a kind of an auction-style affair where we will be offering items to be auctioned and the money going to a good cause. Most people seem to be offering unwanted gifts, and I have rooted through my belongings and cannot find a suitable object to give, so I had considered making a traditional irish hallowe’en barmbrack. I have never made one before, so am absolutely going to make a test version first!
Right now I have some darjeeling tea steeping and cooling in the kitchen. When it’s cool, I will soak some dried raisins and sultanas in it overnight and then I will be ready to go. It was honestly quite hard to get a recipe for an authentic looking brack, many of which seem to look more like our traditional-style wedding cake or a fruit loaf. It is kind of like an ordinary soft white bread with raisins and currants in it that tastes a little bit sweeter and has a kind of a “glazed” effect on the top. It tastes delicious toasted with some butter. I have decided to base it on this recipe as many of them don’t use yeast which I thought was fairly I’m not entirely sure if darjeeling will be strong enough to give a strong enough tea flavour but I thought it might be nice and fragrant.
I have been working so hard recently on such mind-numbingly boring jobs that my work kindly gave me some amazon vouchers. I put these to good use and purchased my long-awaited slow cooker as well as an e-book with lots of ideas for meals. My first meal from it will be a sweet potato and carrot soup (not a recipe from the e-book). I love that the slow cooker is so much more energy efficient than having the hob on. I often say to my boyfriend that our poor oven had no idea what was about to hit it when we moved in! LOL!
In other news, I have been chipping away at relining my not-quite-depths-of-winter coat all week and am so proud of my work! It is not perfect but it looks so much better now. I will get at least one more season out of it if I give it a good brush:)
How I did it? I carefully took the panels of the original lining apart using the stitch ripper, and used these as a template, numbering them as I went along. I traced around them leaving 2cm of seam allowance, cut all the panels out again and beginning in the middle sewed them back up using the sewing machine. To put them back into the coat I hand sewed this large panel in and then did the sleeves at the very last. Now it looks like this:
I was so pleased with the results of this”project”, it really gave me more confidence to take on more clothing projects and maybe even try to make my own top or something using an old top as a template :)
October 13, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Hello to you all! Hope you had a great week and are having a relaxing Sunday. This weekend was quite busy but also lazy. This week was eventful in that I began some long-awaited physio on my shoulder which is already having a great effect.
It was a busy weekend, because we put our winter tires on the car, replaced the shower “hose” and I began to take on a task that I had put on the long finger for quite sometime now – relining my autumn coat. I also eventually purchased a new pair of what I would call stylish not-deep-winter boots. I will show those on the wardrobe planning page.
Here is how shabby the coat lining looked before (you can see I have LOVED this coat):
And here is what I made to be sewed into the coat instead:
I think it’s a beautiful coat and is far too good to be thrown away. All it needs is a new lining and a bit of a brush.
I didn’t make a proper template of the lining panels, I just ripped them out really carefully with a stitch-ripper and then numbered them all and gave a seam allowance of about an inch. I have no idea if it will all line up, but so far it looks ok!
I will present the final coat when it is done ;) Sometimes you don’t need to go out and buy something, especially when it just needs a bit of a repair.
This week I received a voucher from work for amazon, and purchased a crock-pot with it, so I am very excited about that. I have wanted one for a while now and am hoping it saves me lots of energy and time in the kitchen :) I
October 5, 2013 § 4 Comments
Hello dear readers, these are some pictures from Bremen this morning. We decided to spontaneously take a break there because we had an extra long weekend due to a national holiday, the “Day of German Reunification”. It was a toss up between Berlin and Bremen and Berlin seeming to be very hard to get a reasonably priced room in a hotel, we decided to finally visit the Hanseatic city of Bremen as it may be less busy and more budget-friendly on this occasion.
Bremen is only an hour from Hamburg, and is as I would describe it, a smaller and more traditional Hamburg. There were plenty of tourists, Russians, Americans, English and Irish and the locals were friendly. Our hotel was not at all budget-friendly, but we did want to use a pool and sauna and have a king-size bed and a big spoil-yourself breakfast :S
The town-hall marketplace was very sweet, and we had dinner in a japanese restaurant (not the most budget-friendly choice in this case, but there were plenty of free seats and we were very hungry!) A better choice would have been the adjacent Schuettinger brewery, where pub-grub was in generous portions and delicious looking and smelling. Another little gem was the Café Knigge with absolutely amazing looking cakes, particularly the Kapuziner cake.
It was so nice to get away from it all, it did us a world of good after the manic last two weeks at work and our sights are firmly set on more saving and travel, after a little splurge this weekend :)
September 14, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Hello friends, I hope you had a wonderful week? This past week was very very busy for me, as reflected in my menu planning and wardrobe planning pages. I was so glad i had pre-prepared outfits, but my menu planning went absolutely out the window and we reverted to frozen pizzas and crisp sandwiches! Terrible!
In between, I ended up at a very posh party that I wasn’t invited to, where i still had to try to do some work at … that was awkward!!! But glad I was wearing something fairly decent. Everyone else was in fancy frocks! Moving on swiftly…
The end of September is always the time that I have to organise a birthday package for my folks back home. It’s convenient they all have their birthdays at the same time, and I know they look forward to receving a special parcel from Germany. I have a good idea for this year, I want to buy something they need, will have and use for a long time – nice new slippers. I will do up a little “feet treat” box with different little things for them to enjoy.
My dad really loved getting hard-soled slippers about 5 years ago. They look a bit like this (same brand), but half-open:
In the meantime, their newly adopted little furry family member who they love very much, has since chewed the top part to bits. The bottom part has amazingly remained intact! My mum’s didn’t stand a chance, as they were made from soft felt and cotton.
Both my parents love to walk around the garden in their slippers, so hard-soled ones are very practical for them – and they can’t be bought at home, just something cloggy or birkenstocky or indoor-only padded. I hope that this time of year that I can get something a bit funky for them. Wish me luck!