Monday, 29 October 2012

Why stitching does me good

The picture above is a photo of 'Two Elephants' which I stitched for my parents to celebrate their ruby wedding anniversary. I had been planning to do something with names and dates, but my mum said she would prefer a picture and she has always liked elephants so I chose this.

The kit came from Jolly Red, but I used mint green aida instead of the beige aida supplied in the kit. I finished stitching this in the run-up to the birth of my little boy, so it helped me to avoid fretting too much about what lay ahead.

I am very grateful to my friends who introduced me to cross-stitching about a decade or so ago. I honestly think that stitching has helped keep me sane.

Here's a few reasons why a little bit of cross-stitching does me good:
  • I find it relaxing to stitch
  • once I'm in the flow of stitching I can't fret about anything
  • a real sense of achievement when I've finished - especially if I stitch a picture to brighten up a wall
  • I particularly enjoying stitching things to give to other people
  • I don't tend to snack so much (don't want to risk getting food on my stitching)
  • I can't drink much alcohol (unless I want to end up unpicking stitches the next day)
This post was inspired by this month's Needlework Days at Feisty Tapas, which includes the following suggestion:

Cross-stitching: try it, it's good for you...

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Magpie Monday - retro desk calendar

I've been trying to buy less stuff recently. This is partly to make sure that we stick to budget and partly because we put a lot of effort into de-cluttering over the last few months so I don't want the clutter to build back up again.

So every time I go into a shop and spot something I fancy buying, I ask myself the following questions:
  1. do I really want this item?
  2. will I still want the item by this time next week?
  3. do I actually need this item?
  4. is there room for it in my life and home?
  5. do I already have something that will serve a similar purpose?
  6. can I justify the purchase to my husband?
  7. can we actually afford it?
Because of this, I have been leaving lots of nice things on the shelf in charity shops recently, including a gorgeous glass cake stand which I saw yesterday (my husband wouldn't have seen the point of of a cake stand - why not put a cake on a plate?)

So instead of showing you a photo of a cake stand I'm taking the opportunity to show off this plastic desk calendar which I spotted in the window of the local Sue Ryder shop a couple of months ago. It is about 10cm tall, and you click a button on the top to change the number.

I love it! I keep it on my desk at work. As well as liking the retro styling, I find it really practical. When I need to sign and date forms at work I can see at a glance what the date it is. Plus is only cost a few quid, so it met all the criteria listed above.

This post is inspired by Magpie Monday at Me and My Shadow. (Sorry if my fellow Magpies get a sense of deja vu - I posted a photo on Instagram when I first bought the calendar)

Me and My Shadow

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Rohan 'denim plus' skirt

This is a picture of me wearing my bargain Rohan 'denim plus' skirt. I got this skirt from eBay for less than £13 (including p&p). The full price of the current version of this Rohan skirt is £57.

Rohan stuff is always excellent and I am particularly pleased with this skirt. It has a bit of stretch and is very comfortable to wear. The 'denim plus' fabric is lightweight and designed to be easy to wash and quick to dry so it's great for travel.

I buy quite a few items of clothing on eBay. As well as saving money, it also feels good to re-use pre-loved clothing in this way. Sometimes people are de-cluttering, or getting rid of stuff after they have lost or gained weight. There is some good quality clothing available, though I tend to stick to familiar brands where I know my size. That way I am unlikely to have to return items.

The photo above was taken for FrOctober - which involves wearing dresses and skirts throughout October to raise awareness of, and money for, peri-natal illness including post-natal depression. 

I will be linking up with Magpie Monday at Me and My Shadow and the latest Frugal Friday Fashion Show at Family Budgeting.

Me and My Shadow

Sunday, 7 October 2012

My first Slow Cooker Sunday

I want to do more home cooking but because I work full time it usually seems like too much effort. So I added a slow cooker to my Amazon wishlist and my dad bought it for me for my birthday.

The plan is that we can have a home cooked meal on a weekend day without spending the whole day in the kitchen.

Here is a photo of my new slow cooker in action:

The first dish we decided to cook was Chilli Black Bean Stew from Ultimate Slow Cooker: over 100 simple, delicious recipes by Sara Lewis.

There was a bit of preparation required (soaking the beans overnight then boiling them for 10 minutes, and the other ingredients were cooked for a short time on the stove before putting everything in the slow cooker) but after that it was a case of leave it on a low heat for 8 hours and resist the temptation to take the lid off before it was finished.

So what was the end result like? Well it was delicious. The beans were cooked to perfection and there was just the right amount of chilli to give it a bit of a kick without blowing my head off. We served it with rice, and it seemed like the perfect autumn comfort food.

So I think this method of cooking could be a good option for autumn and winter weekend meals. This particular dish was fairly cheap to make, and it was lovely to have a nice evening meal to look forward to without having to put much effort in during the evening itself. Plus we have a couple of spare portions to put in the fridge for tomorrow.

I'm linking up with this week's Slow Cooker Sunday at Mediocre Mum - check out what other yummy slow cooker food people have been cooking up recently.