Half the Garden brunch

I’m a fan of River Cottage Garden. I love the idea of upping sticks and moving somewhere rural where I can have nine bean rows and fresh eggs every day. But, anyway…

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall describes something in one of his episodes called ‘half the garden soup,’ where he basically goes around his veg patch, gathering in handfuls of everything that is good and ripe in his garden.

Sunday mornings in my house are the time to go to the fridge and see what needs used up, because wasting food is just paying money to fill your bin. I know, I know, it’s not quite as picturesque as searching happily through one’s spring garden for pea shoots or whatever, but I work with what I’ve got.

Often I’ll either create some sort of brunch, or meal plan for the next day or two. Today I found half a packet of ham with a short life-span, spring onions that had been forgotten about under a packet of sweet potatoes, past-their-date (but still fresh) courgettes, half a red pepper, and some jalapenos. I also added some chunky cubes of double-Gloucester cheese that my husband had picked up in the Spar for 20p (reduced from £2).  I also had a big box of reduced eggs.

Eggs are awesome. I had everything I needed to make a lovely frittata. Well, apart from potatoes perhaps, but I’m still low carbing.

I chopped the veggies finely, and fried them gently in some oil.

As they cooked, I broke four eggs into a bowl, whisked them briskly and added a pinch of salt and pepper.

Then I added the egg to the cooked vegetables and let them fry, mixing them slightly to begin with. After a few minutes, when the bottom of the egg mix had browned, I added a little more cheese to the top of the pan, and then stuck the whole thing under the grill.

After five minutes under the grill, the cheese has melted into the eggy mix, and the whole top of the frittata has turned a delicious golden brown. Delicious!

Add a little aioli (garlic mayo), and a big pot of coffee, and you have a brunch fit for a king- even if it did get served on one of my chipped plates!

 

Easy yohurt-making

Fresh yogurt is great for us. It’s full of protein, calcium, vitamins, and live culture, or probiotics, which can enhance the gut flora and fauna- those friendly bacteria that are increasingly being shown to be so important for our health.

I’ve been eating lots of yogurt recently, particularly for breakfast, in an effort to dodge my normal high-carb breakfast cereals. Homemade yogurt is low-cost and low-carb.

Yogurt making is one of those things that people like to believe is expensive or difficult to do. Or that you need some sort of special equipment to make it. A quick Google shows that one of the most popular on the market will put you back around £30, which is admittedly, less than I would have expected.

However, there’s a good chance that you already have what you need in your house to do it, without purchasing more kit.

In fact, other than a spoon, what you see in the next photo is everything that you need.

Above is a photo of my trusty Morphy Richards slow cooker, a candy thermometer (about £2.50 on Ebay) a dish towel, some milk to change to yogurt, and some yogurt with live cultures to do the work.

That’s it. No dedicated piece of equipment using up space in your cupboard.

The above allowed me to make 2L of natural yogurt for around 20p, because the yogurt was reduced, and the milk was free. And when its as fresh as can be, it really is at its best.

The good thing about this method is that will the whole process will take around 8 hours, it only requires about 5-10 minutes of work- the rest of the time it’s the live cultures in the yogurt that are busy.

Method.

  1. Fill your slow cooker with the whole (full fat) milk and switch it on to high. The aim here is to scald our milk. The aim of this to kill of any nasty little bacteria that might have got into our milk. This give our yogurt cultures a clean slate to work in, rather than having them compete with anything that we don’t want in our milk. It also breaks down a protein called lactoglobulin, and by doing this, we will have a thicker yogurt at the end of our process. 
  2. Keep an eye on the temperature using your candy thermometer. Once it reaches at 82-85’C, the temperature is high enough to scald your milk, and you can switch off the slow cooker. Image
  3. Now, let the temperature cool back down again. Yogurt cultures like the temperature to be around 43’C. Lift the lid off your slow cooker if you’re in a rush. I normally skim the milk skin off, but I’m not certain if this is necessary. Image
  4. Once you reach 43’C, it’s time to add your live cultures in the form of natural yogurt purchased commercially. I’ve chosen a small pot of Tesco Own Brand Natural Greek Yogurt, as I know it works. Be careful when buying your starter yogurt- some yogurts bought at the supermarket have been heat treated and will no longer contain live cultures. Either chose one that specifically says that it contains live cultures, or use the one I suggest above. I wouldn’t recommend a low-fat natural yogurt, but only because I’ve never tried that. Simply spoon the yogurt into the milk and mix well.
  5. Add the lid, wrap the slow cooker in a towel to help it keep the heat in, and then go make yourself a cup of coffee. The hard work is done. Just remember to LEAVE IT ALONE- opening the lid to see how it’s going just drops the temperature, and we don’t want that!

    Wrapping the slow cooker in a warm blanket. Please excuse the mess in the background. Mine is a small, but busy kitchen
  6. At least 8 hours later, or overnight, your yogurt will be finished. The difference will be obvious. Image Take the pot out of your slow cooker and chill it in the fridge. If you prefer a thicker, Greek style yogurt, then you can strain the whey out using a few layers of cheese cloth. I didn’t bother on this occasion.
  7. Add fruit or flavours, dried fruit, muesli, nuts etc. Whatever you would normally add.

    Image
    Homemade yogurt with halfed grapes and some milled golden linseed
  8. Eat and enjoy

 

Ebay update week 4 26/5/19

Not a big eBay week by any stretch of the imagination.

I didn’t fancy waiting around for Sunday to come round before I posted a load of stuff on eBay, so I stuck a lot of items up as ‘Buy it Now’ throughout the week, with the intention of switching them out to auctions come Sunday if they didn’t sell. I didn’t get round to changing the status today, but it doesn’t matter.

I’ve sold 5 things this week including this perfume bottle:

It was a nice little object, but I had to be very careful that I gave a full account of the damage to its feet. Hopefully they’ll be happy enough- not that I charged too much.

I also sold an old £2 coin (before they became normal tender) for £4 and a couple of toy/model knights, plus 2 more little batches from the coin collection for… not too much, but hey. Like this small set of (pre-Euro) Irish coins that sold for £1. It’s the 2nd lot of these I’ve sold, yet the older, pre-decimal ones that I’m also selling (the oldest is 1928) has had

In total I’ve posted around 14 things today, including this brass sextant that I actually quite like, but there’s no room for it any more. It has a bid already, which I’m pretty happy about.

Since starting to write this, 2 more things have also sold- 3 kettle plug leads that I rescued from a to-be-binned pile in work and also the Black Death. Don’t panic, it’s a plush toy:

Perhaps people are shopping today as it’s a bank holiday.

A rant

One thing that did happen this week that annoyed me was that someone gave me neutral feedback because ‘no contact.’ This frustrates me because there is no need to contact a buyer if everything is straightforward, and they made no effort to contact me with a query or anything- I checked. So I can only assume that they expected contact as a matter-of-course. Some businesses will send a nice little, ‘we appreciate that you chose us,’ type email, but, most people don’t read those. Private sellers generally wouldn’t unless there was some issue.

The person was relatively new to Ebay, so I guess they don’t know better, though the system prompts you to make contact with a seller if you want to give anything less than positive feedback, so I think they were just being stupid.

I try my best to be a fair eBayer. In the past, I have only given negative feedback when a company I purchased from didn’t send the item and did not reply to 2 or 3 emails, and I once gave neutral feedback when an item I’d ordered took around a week and a half to be dispatched and when I queried this, the reply was completely half-assed. In both cases I contacted or attempted to contact the seller before giving feedback, because I am a grownup and that’s what grownups do.

And breathe…

I really do (mostly) love eBay.

Slimming on a budget

My weight, which goes up easily, and down with a LOT of effort and willpower, has got out of hand again.

I don’t want to tell you what it’s currently at, but theNHS BMI calculator say I could do with losing 10 pounds, on top of what I’ve lost so far.

Ouch.

And I think my husband would also admit that he’d put on weight over the last year. The two of us have done well losing weight in the past when we compete, and so we are currently back in competition. My cousin gets married in a month, and that is our time frame for weight loss. And there’s money riding on this, by the way.

We each put £40 into a box and started competing. The rules are as follows:

The first person to a stone (I’m not sure why we never went metric when it comes to weight but never mind) wins £20 out of the pot, the overall winner gets the other £60.

Sounds like a lot, you say, and yes it kind of does, but the point is that we had to put in an amount that would be hard to lose and that would be nice to win.

The other thing is, Slimming World would have cost us £30 per person for the same length of time as the contest, and the money is just gone to a business. Our way, at least it stays in our household. And should one person win the stone, but lose overall, they’re only down £20 overall.

I have more weight to lose than him, but men lose weight faster in general, so hopefully it’s a fair fight.

Once a week we write our weights up on a chalk board and compare our losses. Seeing how well your competitor is doing is a spur to keep going.

It’s been a week and a half so far and I’m currently in the lead, having lost over half a stone. I am crazy trying though.

I’m using a couple of apps to help me in my quest to beat the bulge.

First off, is Simple weight tracker (free version). And it really is what it says in the name.

You give it your starting weight, then input your new weights as they drop. The app plots a nice little graph with a (hopefully) downward trajectory, calculating total weight lost.

There’s a free version and a paid-for version of this app with more features. Thus normally means that they bombard you with ads when you use the free version.

So far I find that they haven’t done this, so I’m quite happy about that.

The other app I’m making use of is a pedometer one, which I’m having mixed feelings about.

I’m not sure how accurate the counter is. Sometimes when I count in my head and compare to the app there is a bit of a discrepancy, to my detriment.

On one hand this is a good thing, because it forces me to do more steps, but, as I’m currently doing a pedometer challenge, this sucks.

However, on the positive side is the achievements. The app buzzes and notifies you when you pass each thousand steps, covering the screen with confetti when you log in to see how far you’ve gone.

Then there are badges. They look something like this:

It’s a great incentive to push yourself further. I’m determined to get my 20k one soon- I did 18.5k the other day, and I’m kicking myself for not walking round the block a few times. Next time.

On the downside, the app does eat battery power, so my phone is constantly charging. In addition, there are adds that keep popping up, but they’re not over the top.

So, how’s the weight loss going?

Good so far. 9 lbs (just over 4kg) in 2 weeks. Such a rate of weight loss is probably unsustainable, but so long as it’s a steady drop, I don’t mind.

The other good thing is that on my husband and my walks we pop into the various shops nearby and raid the reduced sections. Losing pounds and saving pounds at the same time.

eBay Update week 2

Week 2 summary. 5/4/19

This week was the big week. I had 70-odd (some very odd!) items up for sale and 64 of those were auctions finishing on Sunday night.

It was a strange week, constantly hearing the little ker-ching of the eBay app, particularly on Sunday when the auctions were coming close to an end. That’s not a complaint by the way. I also found I was hovering on my phone, instead of just getting on with my day.

So, out of 64 items, only 19 sold through auction on Sunday. But I smashed my sales target, receiving around £120 after fees for my items. I was slightly disappointed as I’d hoped that I’d have a higher hit rate, but considering that quite a queue formed behind me at the post offices (plural: I split my trips in two because I didn’t want to overtax our local post office teller).

Not bad considering I still have another 45 items up for sale and some bids already.

I was very glad I’d collected together all of my packaging materials through the week, including a lot of boxes and a big roll of bubble wrap- all free. This meant that I was already preparing my parcels as the week went on. Most of the bubble wrap went on a single parcel of small espresso cups that had sat in my cupboard for 9 years and had only been used a handful of times. I sincerely hope they all get to their new owner safely.

A couple of boxes had to be cut down at the last minute as they were more than 16cm wide- a serrated bread knife soon fixed that problem.

So, things that sold well were clothes. The biggest surprise was a maternity dress of mine that sprang from around £8 to around £18 at the very last instant. It was a nice surprise and made up for a beautiful Wallis dress that only went for around £3. Another dress that sold well was a Mantaray summer dress. The pregnancy dress was a size 18, the Mantaray a size 16 and I wonder if that was the pattern. From years of yoyo dieting I have, unfortunately got a wardrobe full of various sizes of clothes, so perhaps I’ll see what else can go.

In addition, a little Mini Boden cardigan sold well. I’d picked it up a while ago in a charity shop for 50p with the plan of holding onto it until it fitted my girls, but eBay day said that it needed to go. It went for around £6.50, so a nice mark up, which helped with some of the losses or depreciation in other items, like my Nintendo DS, which had been expensive to buy and only sold for about £12, including a game and a case. With it, I should perhaps have used the ‘Buy it now’ feature, instead of the auction. Still, it had only been gathering dust, so off it went.

A couple of large books also sold. My problem there is that i don’t have a suitable parcel. I’ll either have to cobble something together or buy something…. I’ll try cobbling first.

Things that didn’t sell were the coins, apart from a nice Russian one from the 80s. Perhaps a bit of patience is needed on that.

The Ebay photo was a bit better than this one

I had automatic repost on most of my items, and went back in to my account to manually repost the rest. 6 items are sitting with bids on them, and I’ve sold 3 PS4 games as ‘buy it now’ this week, so the decluttering is continuing with no additional work from me.

Maybe after another week of trying auctions I’ll swap them back to buy it now and just leave them to sit.

I’ve also, to be honest, collected together a bunch more items to post on Ebay, though I’m not rushing to get them all up.

eBay update week 1

Week 1 summary. 28/4/19

Seven items sold in my first week of auctions, as well as five ‘buy it now’ (BIN) items, so ten sales total.

That’s approximately £30 after fees for the BIN and around £42 after fees for the auctions. £72 in total. Not bad at all for a days’ work. Of course, this is me just recouping money that I’d previously spent, rather than me making profit, but, frankly it’s nice to recover some of the value of things.

I was a bit disappointed in the price I got for my bugle (but, y’know, not everyone needs one), and a nice brand new with tags (BNWT) bodywarmer that was my husbands- both had had a few watchers, but they didn’t translate into high figures. The pair of Crocs though sold for a surprising £10. I’d have been happy with half of that.

 

Three auction parcels are posted and off to their buyers, two more are still awaiting payment and the last two are still here because I need suitable boxes for posting them. Fortunately I should be able to recycle some boxes from work, so it won’t cost me anything. I’ll have to be more organised for next week though as I currently have 64 auctions up for sale and already have bids on 7 items. There’s a big interest in the clothes I have up for sale. There’s also plenty of watchers and views of other items, so I’ll hope for the best. As soon as something gets a bid I’ll package it up so it’s ready to go, rather than panicking and trying to do it all on Sunday evening.

Thanks to a friend I have a big stack of used jiffy envelopes to reuse so anything that’s small enough will go in those. It’s good because it means I can keep my posting costs low, whilst reusing something that might otherwise be bin fodder. Seeing as I detest single use plastic, it’s gratifying to be able to give it another go in the post.

But, even with 12 items away to new buyers and 64 for the incoming week, there’s still more work to be done to put items up for sale on eBay: more clothes, more coins, a couple of books and at least one pair of shoes.

However, I’m not going to rush putting up more things for sale. I’ll take my own advice and do this bit by bit.

EBay update week 3

Week 3 was relatively small. I haven’t posted any new items this week, so it was the same ones from last week riding over again.

I had a few bids throughout the week, but not too many. And none for big money- but still, they were coming.

One of the first things to collect a bid was a DVD box set of Eerie Indiana- remember that show?

I’d had the DVD up for sale for ages as ‘buy it now’ but I bit the bullet, lowered the price and let it go as an auction. Off it went.

I also sold ‘Pushing Daisies’ a great show from about 10 years ago that I loved, but was sadly cancelled after season 2 without any proper conclusion. Anyway… it’s sold.

In total 10 items sold this week. This time there was a different pattern to the bids. There were a lot more last minute bids of items that I didn’t think would sell, like a random camera case for example. All for very small amounts. If I’d only been posting one item, I might not have bothered.

The odd thing was that my Chinese chess set which had no bids last week suddenly had a small bidding war, pushing the price up above the asking price. A couple of extra pounds in my bank. I tweaked the title a little between last week and this and I guess that maybe made it easier to find.

Strange that after 2 weeks these things suddenly sell, but I suppose it entirely depends on when someone searches for something.

I don’t mind. It’s more space in my cupboards, and it’s passive income, which is even better.

And someone posted this to a facebook group I’m in, which I think is helping me a lot.

Now it’s just a case of trying to convert it back.

Next, to sell a couple of big items in the garage 🙂

Want Cheaper cinema tickets? Join the club!

We’re currently sitting in the Dundonald omniplex, waiting for the movie to start. It’s Avengers: Endgame, for your information, but I’m not giving any spoilers, so don’t worry about that.

We got our tickets for 10% off the price of our tickets, by simply signing up to their online membership and buying your tickets online.

If you’re an avid cinema goer, that could save you a lot of money over the years.

And, if you’re not near Dundonald, never fear, a lot of cinemas offer similar schemes. Why not have a look before you go?

I would say it we could have saved us some money towards our popcorn. But then, we don’t buy popcorn at the cinema (the markup is insane).

I won’t suggest you bring your own snacks. Because… munch… I’d never do that myself.

EBay update

Hello folks, I’ll keep updating this page to let you know how the effort of eBay day pans out.

The whole thing, has taken a looong time; photographing, compiling, writing, photo editing etc. And I still have a bundle of clothes to put up for sale- they needs an iron to look at their best, so I’ll hold off on that for now.

Honestly, I’m not sure if I’d ever do this again as it’s been such an effort, but, hopefully after this I won’t ever have so much clutter again. It would have been better to do like 2 items a day, over a long time, but then, if not for eBay day I probably wouldn’t have bothered bringing all my items together and working my way through them. Swings and roundabouts.

So, so far I’ve sold 5 items, and I have bids on another 5 items. I also have 23 watchers on a pair of Crocs, which I think might be a record. Watchers don’t necessarily turn into buyers, so I won’t count my chickens. So far that equates to roughly £20 after fees. Like I said, it won’t make me a millionaire, but that’s not the aim.

I’ve already got some of them wrapped up and ready to go. Hopefully no one wants extra photos…

I was only able to get a few items up in time this week- auctions perform best when they’re 7 days long, and finish on a Sunday evening, so I only got a few up before I ran out of Sunday. I’ve used the scheduling tool for another 55 (!) lots to start next Sunday. Even if I only get the asking price that would be over £100, but I’m really hoping to double that. I’ve kept the starting price low to try and attract buyers, so we’ll see.

To see how the eBay adventure went, please click on the links below:

Week 1 Summary. 28/4/19

Week 2 Summary 5/5/19

Week 3 Summary 12/5/19

Happy eBay day!

Just a quick post tonight.

According to a survey by eBay we have around £4000 of unwanted goods in our houses.

I didn’t believe that to be true for myself. Or at least, not anymore.

But then, today was eBay day.

I cleared the dining table and I gathered up everything I didn’t want that I figure would be saleable on eBay. Small, tacky or very heavy things will be sold locally, or donated.

And I was blown away by how much stuff I had. And this was before I went through my clothes.

It’s been a day of photographing everything, and hopefully getting it all up for sale this week.

One thing I stumbled upon was my old coin collection. There’s nothing in there that will make me a millionaire, but a few things that should be worth a fiver or so. I reckon about £50-£60 if I break it all up into sensible batches.

Keep scrolling if you want to see some of my eBay fodder.

A small selection of my coin collection
A shogi board that’s sat in my attic for years
I love this, but hopefully it’ll go to a new home soon
And some geekery, of course

And… A military bugle, because every house needs one (except mine)

I’ll keep you posted.