Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Soft Fluffy Towels

I never seem to get round to buying new towels for the bathroom, in fact, I'm quite embarrassed to admit that I've had some of my towels since we got married over twenty years ago.

Whilst doing a bit of online browsing at Marks and Spencer I came across these gorgeous fluffy towels which had been reduced. They're just the right colour for my bathroom, so I bought a bundle of them.

I had to take them outside in the garden for a photo shoot as their true colour wouldn't show up indoors.

Now I can pass all my twenty year old towels, and some newer ones, on to Archie. He needs plenty of towels for when he comes home from his walks covered in mud.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

I Heart Strawberries

Look what Daniel found today whilst picking strawberries at the allotment, a heart shaped strawberry.

You don't find any funny looking fruit or veg in the supermarket these days, they all have to meet European regulations and be uniform, otherwise they're classed as imperfect. Well, I think this strawberry is totally perfect, and home grown strawberries, funny looking or not, taste much nicer than supermarket bought strawberries too.

Daniel didn't get to munch on his find as he doesn't like strawberries, neither does Mick. All the more for Eleanor and I.

I think I may have a go at making jam this year, something I've never done before.

Friday, 24 June 2011

End Of Exams

Daniel has taken his Geography GCSE today, and this is the last of his exams. He hasn't been stressed about his exams in the slightest, unlike me, though I can now heave a sigh of relief that they're over. It's now a waiting game for the results, which are published on 25th August.

Today is also the last day that Daniel will wear his school uniform. He is going back to school in September to start his A level courses, but the sixth form don't have to wear uniform as such, just smart business wear. Ties are optional which Daniel's pleased about as he hates wearing them.

We're going out for a meal tonight to celebrate the end of exams, well, any excuse for a meal out.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Come For A Walk With Archie

I thought I'd show you a regular walk which Archie and I take. It's on our doorstep so it's really handy.

First of all we set off up the lane. It's really only dog walkers who use the lane, other than horses.

We soon come to the stables. Archie loves to see the horses.

If I click my tongue, the horses come to see us.

The elderflowers are blooming and there's lots of other pretty flowers too.

We're further along the lane now.

This is our view to the right.

This is our view to the left.

There's more wild flowers to see.

Further on and it's nearly time to turn off. There is a garden centre at the end of the lane, but Archie isn't allowed in so we don't go there on our walks.

Here is our turn off, in to the farmer's field.

We need to cross this field but we'll keep to the track at the side so as not to destroy the farmer's crops.

Uh oh, Archie. You're not being a good dog. The farmer won't be very pleased if you trample his crops.

That's better. Archie sticks to the path most of the time.

There's more elderflowers at the side of this field.

We've made it through one field and we now have to cross another field, but this time the track is right through the middle of the field.

Eating the farmer's crops is just as bad as trampling them, Archie.

Here we are at the opening to the next field.

This is Archie's favourite field. There used to be a children's playground here but all the equipment has been removed.

Archie has plenty of space to run around in this field.

What fun, rolling about in the grass.

We hope you enjoyed coming on our walk with us.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've been meaning to try this chocolate chip cookie recipe for a while now. As it was raining hard on Wednesday evening and I couldn't venture out in to the garden, I decided the time was right.

I gathered the ingredients together. I've never made chocolate chip cookies with Golden Syrup in the recipe before so I was eager to see what difference it made.

It's a really quick recipe, it only took about five minutes before it was ready to go on the baking tray.

A little under ten minutes and they're out of the oven. They're extremely soft as they're lifted off the baking tray and put on to the cooling rack, though they harden a little as they cool. We couldn't resist trying them whilst they were cooling. They were an instant hit with Daniel and Eleanor, though far too sweet for Mick who doesn't really have a sweet tooth.

I can vouch that they go very well with a mug of drinking chocolate and the latest Gardeners World magazine.

If you'd like to try the recipe for yourself, you can find it on Attic 24 Blog.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Making Money Whilst Shopping

Since I finished working last year, I've had to be careful with money. It's been quite hard as whilst I was bringing a wage home, I was quite frivolous with money and it's been a hard habit to break.

I've found that having a weekly budget has helped, and most weeks I can stick to it. What I have done is sought out ways of making my money go further. Apart from the usual buying things which are on special offer, using money off vouchers and finding the best deals, I have come across a few other ways of making money whilst shopping.

I registered for Shop and Scan quite a while ago and it was just before last Christmas that I was accepted. I've been given a hand held scanner and a book of barcodes and I scan everything I buy from the shops. Once a week I upload the information to the Shop and Scan website and send them a scan of my receipts. You don't earn a huge amount from this, but they do sometimes send surveys for which you can earn extra points and there are other panels which you can become a member of by invitation. To put it in context, I will earn enough to pay for a few people's Christmas presents, so to me, it's worth doing.

Another site I use is Quidco. This is a cashback site so if you're shopping for something on the internet, if you go through this site you will earn a percentage for doing so. I try to purchase my insurance through Quidco as you tend to get a good amount for that. I will be ordering a dishwasher this week so will go through Quidco for that, especially as it will cost a fair bit.

I have been a member of the My Survey panel for quite a while. I complete surveys online for which I'm paid a nominal amount. I tend to get quite a few surveys sent through, and the amount soon adds up.

It's always worth checking Money Saving Expert. As well as giving advice about most things you're likely to buy, there are many specialist forums advertising deals which members of the public have found.

Another site worth checking out is Hot UK Deals. This is updated throughout the day and there are lots of supermarket deals to be found.

I used to sell lots of things, especially clothes which Daniel and Eleanor had outgrown, on Ebay. I made lots of money doing this, but with the fees increasing so much and the time it takes to list everything, I've stopped selling on Ebay now. All their old clothes now make their way to the charity shop.

I hope I may have given you some ideas here. Do you have any others that I'm not aware of?

Friday, 10 June 2011

Rescue Me

I never seem to find time for reading these days, but I've finally got round to picking up one of the many books I had bought for me for Christmas.

Rescue Me by Melissa Wareham is about the fifteen years that the author spent working at Battersea Dogs Home.

I'm about half way through the book now and can't put it down. As you can imagine, there are some sad stories and I have found myself wiping away a tear, but there are also many happy and funny tales. I keep glancing up and noticing the rest of the family giving me funny looks as I let out a chuckle.

I'm sure that any dog lover would enjoy this book. I don't think it'll take me long to finish it.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Granny Squares

After much deliberation over which type of crochet blanket I would make, I've decided on granny squares. I may be a little foolish taking on such a big project when I've only just learnt to crochet, but I figured I could take it slow and do it in my own time.

I've got seventeen different coloured yarns to work with and I want to make it completely random so I'm closing my eyes whilst I plunge my hand in to the bag of yarn to choose a colour. It's quite a challenge as I usually like to be in total control.

So far, I've made fourteen squares. I can't believe how easy they are to do once you get going. Why didn't I learn to crochet years ago? It's really relaxing to do whilst watching television, unlike knitting where I have to count stitches.

The only bit I'm not looking forward to is sewing it all up, though I know there's ways of crocheting the squares together, so I'll look in to that.

Now, where've I left my hook?

Friday, 3 June 2011

Grassington and Bolton Abbey

I didn't realise that the weather was forcast to be so good when we set off for the Yorkshire Dales yesterday. We were totally unprepared, Eleanor and I were wearing jeans and Daniel was wearing tracksuit bottoms. Mick was ok as he always wears knee length tracksuit bottoms, he never feels the cold.

The first place we headed to was Grassington, a small market town in Wharfedale. We had a wander around the shops and I was pleased to find the three colours which my local yarn shop didn't have in stock when I purchased the yarn for my crochet blanket. The main street in Grassington is really pretty.

There are some gorgeous guest houses. This one took my fancy.

Mick treated me to this bag, Knitting is...good!!! I think he's fed up of seeing yarn all over the room and thinks I'll keep it in this instead. Eleanor got Shoes are...Good!!! Typical girl.

After Grassington, we headed to Bolton Abbey which is about nine miles from Grassington. It's on the banks of the River Wharf and within the estate is a ruined twelth century priory.

Sir Edwin Landseer painted Olden Time At Bolton Abbey, but I much prefer JMW Turner's Bolton Abbey.

To get to the river we had to cross a field. This sheep was very nosey and wondered what we were doing so close to her.

We decided we'd take one of the walks on the estate so we crossed the river and headed off. Some of the scenery we encountered was breathtaking.

I keep telling Daniel and Eleanor that money doesn't grow on trees but I began to wonder when we came across this fallen tree.

There are three money trees at Bolton Abbey, the first one fell in the late 1980's and was pulled to the side of the path by the Estate foresters to make it safe and provide a habitat for insects. Coins have been hammered in to the trunk, apparently bringing good luck, and it's now a much loved feature of this particular walk.

Further along the walk we came to a ford. By now we were all flagging under the heat, so the paddle was very welcome for Eleanor and Archie.

I decided that a paddle wasn't for me, especially after Eleanor squealed that the water was freezing cold. I crossed a little further down the path by this bridge.

A little while later we came to this stile through a dry stone wall. Here's Daniel crossing it.

I was wondering how we were going to get Archie over, but look what we have here... I was going to say a doggy stile but that sounds a little rude, instead I'll call it a doggy crossing point, a hole in the bottom of the wall.

Towards the end of the walk we were right at the side of the river. This gave Archie a great opportunity to jump in and cool off.

We had such a brilliant day yesterday, that although I've got many places yet to visit from my 'must go there' list, we decided to pay Bolton Abbey another visit today. This time were were prepared for the weather, Eleanor in her bikini, and the rest of us in shorts. There was no walking today, today was for relaxation. We parked up at the side of the river and didn't budge all day.

Eleanor enjoyed wading in the river and catching crayfish. I should mention that this critter only spent a couple of minutes out of the river for a photograph, he was replaced where he was found.

Archie enjoyed himself. His swim's certainly cooled him down in the heat of the day.

Everyone ran for cover when he emerged from the water. Just look at him shake. The water goes everywhere, and look at those big ears.

We've all enjoyed our staycation. Although the weather was rubbish on Bank Holiday Monday, it came good in the end. I'm sad to see Mick back at work on Monday and Eleanor back at school, though I'll have Daniel home with me now until September apart from the times he's got exams. I'm hoping to put some time in at the allotment tomorrow so I hope the weather is going to be fine but a little cooler.