Thanks for checking this out...

Ta muchly for visiting. Here you will find musings, ramblings and a few statements of fact. They say women can have it all, motherhood, careers and crazy social lives. But what if we don't want it all? What if we want some of it sometimes and other bits not so often? Here I'll mix and match as the whims and energy levels take me. Your tuppence worth is always welcome!

The mask...

The mask...
Life is for loving and living no matter what it involves...

Friday, 24 September 2010

The best laid plans...

I'm not a mouse or a man but my best laid plans most certainly went astray this week. The whole creating yumminess on a budget thing has been going remarkable well even if I do toot my own horn in saying it, so I guess it was time for a cock-up.

For days I'd been gathering in the ingredients for a stuffed cabbage, mentioned before in this blog, the stuffed cabbage is a delight and wonder that belies its grim institutional sounding name. Every trip into town was a recce for another component, all ingredients were located at rock bottom prices starting with the savoy cabbage and ending with some pine nuts (ooh they are pricey little nuggets at the moment - has there been some harvest failure I don't know about?)

Hubby was excited, I was salivating, toddler boy was fascinated and baby girl couldn't care less. All was well in the kitchen as the ingredients took shape into the dish. Now a stuffed cabbage does taste amazing but it is a major faff to make. The French do like their food a tad tricksy on the prep front. So tomatoes had been skinned and cored, pine nuts toasted, bacon diced, onion chopped, breadcrumbs whizzed and cabbage leaves blanched and assembled.Not to mention the crushed garlic, minced pork, blended herbs and beaten eggs. Finally I layered up the leaves with the stuffing and tied it all up into a big muslin wrapped cabbage again. This went to rest in the mixing bowl while I prepped the sauce it cooks in.

Shallots sauteed in butter while I diced potato. I was just peeling the carrots when disaster struck. Toddler boy got over curious and upended the mixing bowl, shattering it all over its contents. Unless we wanted minced insides there was no way we could eat the cabbage. Disappointed is too mild a word. Never have I wanted to eat something so much as that cabbage, nope, not even that hidden choccy bar during PMT. Toddler boy picked up on the enormity of his actions as he inserted a very heavy "sooooo" before his "sorry".

But in the spirit of the blitz (very topical me) I sliced the peeled carrots and whipped out the hummus for a little pre-dinner nibble. After a few more were added to its number the diced spuds turned into a buttery mash. The poor sauteed shallots were rescued by turning them into a white wine gravy (which nearly ended badly when the stock cube refused to co-operate and formed huge lumps throughout the sauce - thank heavens for a whisk Mrs Beeton indeed). A packet of herby sausages pulled from the freezer provided the pork fix and dinner was saved.

It wasn't stuffed cabbage though was it? Grrr...

What we should have been eating...

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Why shell out more?

The egg man is our weekly pilgrimage. We get through the eggs in this house. I blame the brownies - as in the cake not the fairy folk. Not that we make them every week or anything but it's a 3 egg deal when we do. Then there is lemon drizzle cake, cookies, omelets and my favourite a tortilla or Spanish omelet to distinguish it from its flatter bready cousin. Yup, we like the eggs. Thankfully we like the fruit too or we'd be in a right...err..bind.

If the veggie patch fails again - or rather if it falls siege to the entire South Coast population of slugs and snails for yet another growing season (death to slugs and snails, show no mercy) then we're toying with the idea of swapping the soil for a chicken coop. Ooh home grown eggs, can you imagine? We could try that grab them while they're hot game and squish them into squares, sooo much easier to slice. It is definitely a plan.

But in the meantime it is the egg man. He lives in Brighton's open market and sells the best eggs ever, free range, locally sourced and totally non corporate. There is usually time for a chat about the world and life in general thrown in with the eggs. Toddler boy loves him, hands over the cash with a chesire cat grin. And the best bit is that there really isn't much cash involved. His biggest baddest ovum are a mere £1.18 for six and those babies are big, mahooosive. His mediums (89p for half a dozen) are about as big as the best the supermarkets offer in their large range. The eggman can't be beaten - although his eggs can and make a rather nice meringue if you do.

Urban freshness at Brighton's open market

Friday, 10 September 2010

Nifty thrifty

One doesn't want ones little ones to look like scallywags does one? Not at all. Nope. Brighton is a city where funky is taken on as a religion and to lack style, well, it is a sin. So what can one do if one lacks the budget to get 'the look'? One can fiddle and fake it, that's what. Or tell the fashionistas to go shove their style where needles fear to thread. But being a polite young woman (yes young thank you very much) I would never be so rude. So fiddle and fake it wins the day.

Out browsing in the North Laines I stumbled across a new shop selling sweet, sweet dresses. Hand made in the funkiest of funky fabrics. Ah my baby girl would look just darling in one of these beauties. Shame about the price tag then. For a mere £27 daughter dearest could sport a dress to make the toddlers drool with envy, or at the very least the yummy mummies nod with approval. And who doesn't want to see that? Yes that £27 would bring smiles and joy to my wee one for all of 3 months at the rate she's growing. Or I could go to H&M kids and get 3 for that price. But they wouldn't have the kudos would they?

Ah that dress sparked an itch I had to scratch. So a plan was devised. There is a marvellous lady who sells the most amazing fabrics in Brighton (Michelle Le Maitre. 20, Church St,) and at £12 a meter they make it easy to create fresh and funky clothes at a fraction of the cost of buying them ready made. One meter was plenty to create a dress exactly like the one in the shop - 2 dresses if I cut carefully and lined with a plain fabric. What is not to love about that? 

So I got out the brown paper and a similar dress to make my pattern. Snipped and pinned and sewed and tweaked. And voila - a dress. Unique. Funky and most cost effective. Itch scratched. Baby girl got 'the look' and I got a pat on the back. Yay!

A toast to the new dress mummy dearest...
Baby catwalk
Up close and funky

Friday, 3 September 2010

In this we trust

The best thing we bought this year was annual membership of the National Trust. So very middle aged of us - for shame and not even forty. Ah yes a few sweet years still linger between me and the big FourOh. However I don't need to wait for the widening waist band and slipping dress sense to enjoy the bounty of this most illustrious organisation. National Trust is where it's at I tell ya.

For a mere eighty quid a year we can truss up the kids and shake them down in country estates, castles, glorious gardens and wild woods. Space, oodles of the stuff in every direction and fresh air coming out of our, well, our mouths. Breathe in - annnnnd- breathe out. It is like therapy for all the family. And the best bit is it's not retail therapy.

I have become the picnic guru. Who wants egg sandwiches and sausages everytime? Nope, no one. But even on a budget a picnic can be a treat. I've been getting glam with the sarnies, going for wraps or diddy ciabatta slices to shake it all up. This is for me really, my chance to get creative with the day. But with places like Aldi the baby girl and toddler boy (and me and hubby-man) are scoffing serano ham and cream cheese on ciabatta - yum.

On the baking front I can whip up a batch of the best brownies ever for less than £1.50 and that'll make enough for at least 2 trips out. It's the Hummingbird Bakery recipe and is the fruit of much searching on my part for the ideal brownie. Try it - I swear you won't regret it.

So, we've had top notch grub, amazing scenery and exercise beyond the minimum requirements. All on a shoe string. If you use your membership more than four times then every visit after that is free really as you're looking at £20 a pop for 2 adults to get into most places - under 5's go free anyway. We use ours every week almost, it has become the Saturday tradition. Scoop up the kids and go get some culture in the great outdoors. Toddler boy loved his last day out so much he danced round the kitchen singing 'I love the world' when we got home. Can't ask for more than that really.