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I bought some cranberries the other day from a local farm grocer and I wanted to make something that reminded me of home…but the only time we eat cranberries is at Thanksgiving or as a juice.  So, I decided to make this quick jam this morning and it has turned out lovely!

Just bring the cranberries to a boil with a small amount of water.  I used 3 cups of cranberries with about a 1/3 of a cup of water and 6 tablespoons of raw sugar.  Let that simmer for about 15-20 minutes stirring occasionally.  Then remove from the heat to cool and then transfer to a jam jar.  Be sure to keep this refrigerated and eat it in about a fortnight.  Happy jamming.

We normally eat our home-made bread so quickly that we don’t have to worry about it going stale or growing mould.  However, I know the best way to keep bread is hanging in a cotton cloth or bag in a place out of direct sunlight, heat, and moisture.  You can either purchase these or take a cotton tea towel and fold it in half, stitch it up the sides, tie it with a string and hang it from that string.  I guess the idea is to allow the bread to breathe but keep it safe from the dry air and mould.
You can also use Furoshiki, a Japanese cloth folding method to wrapping items for storage or toting.  I really love using this to wrap cakes and things that are on a plate – it creates a sort of basket effect.  You can do so much using this method – its really easy, frugal, earth friendly, fun {great for kids to do} and attractive, too!  Here are some methods for folding your cloth:  http://furoshiki.com/techniques/ After you’ve got your bread wrapped up the way you want it, you can try hanging it by another cloth or string or on a hook.
Here’s my bread wrapping tutorial:


Another way to keep bread is in a bread box.  Unless you have a pretty good box, you may still want to wrap it up in a tea towel ro something just to keep it from moulding.
Freezing is another option.  After it cools, slice it and put it into a freezer safe bag in the freezer.  Pull out the bread you want as you want it and either toast it or grill it.

There is one VERY small reason I have been MIA for the past few days: Enter Mr/Mrs Julien Haffertee Woodward – the smallest addition to our already small family {also good for our small house}.

Siberian or Campbell's Dwarf? Can anyone tell?

Let’s just say we had some generous neighbours with too many hamsters…  We are very happy to have Julien! : )

Mark and I love to eat…and we love to save money…but how do we reconcile the two together…??  Well, there’s another component that helps us to save in the kitchen – we both love home-cooked meals!  Making some things from scratch has saved us literally hundreds of pounds/dollars each year – and the best part is that its healthy, too!

We have tried to pare down our kitchen cupboard during our three years of marriage – and I think these are the three main ways we have and will save in the long-run:

Porridge Oats/Oatmeal for breakfast each morning.  A 1Kg bag of oats costs 56p and will last the two of us 5 days.  Multiply that across a year and its roughly £40, or about $65.  Compare that to Fruit & Fibre – a basic bran cereal with dried fruit – where a £1.45 box would last the two of us 3 days – a total of £175 {$280} per year!

Porridge Oatsmorning’s porridge with pecans, cinnamon and honey

Hand-baked bread instead of store-bought.  Making a multi-grain whole-wheat loaf at home in our bread-maker costs about 60p compared to £1.20 per similar loaf in the bakery at our grocery store.  Loaves last us from 2-3 days which means over a year that brings our bread consumption to £90 {$145} per year instead of £180 {$290}.  We’ve been grateful for a new bread-maker that we were given for free – but even if you bought one, it should pay for itself in a year.  So we save – and we love the bread {and its wonderful aroma}!

Oaty Bread

Grains, legumes and pulses in place of some meats.  This one is a little harder to calculate – but based on the prices of each – 8p for 2 servings of Crabeye {Pinto}beans compared to £2-3 for 2 servings of ground beef, we save £2 per meal and have the health benefits of eating high-fibre beans.  If you do this twice a week you end up saving £200 {$320} per year.  This is just a rough calculation – but you can experiment yourself with different grains to get the most savings with your tastes and needs.
Beans

Crabeye {Pinto} Beans

That’s somewhere around £425 {$680} each year we save just from making small, consistent changes to our eating lifestyle.  How are you working toward a frugal + healthy kitchen cupboard?  Share your ideas – I would love to hear them!

So my headache is better – thanks for your thoughts and prayers!  I really appreciate it!  Now I am preparing for my day and realise that I will not be able to continue in the holiday cleaning routine I had set out to accomplish this week.  But there’s always next week – I am not discouraged!  And I will still be cleaning today – just mixed in with other things on my to do list – like sewing and cooking for the weekend with my sister in law {yay!}.

However, I wanted to point you in the direction of some inspiring holiday cleaning articles to keep the spirit of preparing the house for this special time of year! I like these:

Organized Home’s Fall Cleaning Chore Checklist and Winter Preparedness Checklist

Real Simple’s Fall Cleaning Checklist and the Fall Cleaning Guide Room by Room and Systems

Passionate Homemaking’s Natural Housekeeping Carnival

What do you do to prepare for the holidays?  Its always inspiring to hear other people’s ideas and resources!

Happy cleaning!

Clean TowelsSo here’s some of the fresh laundry that I love folding up all nice!  Its one of those things that makes me feel organised and warm and squishy inside…freshly folded towels!  And if you want to know the best way to fold them…take a look here.

I’ve gotten a lot done today, but there’s still more to go, if I can find the energy…!  I thought I’d take a break though and reward myself with a little snack.

Also want to point out Berlin’s Whimsy’s swiffer cover tutorial:

I’ve used washcloths to cover my swiffer, but never thought of making an actual cover!  So, thank you Berlin/Amber for creatively designing and sharing this with us!  Take a look at her recipes – they’re also really good!  I have used the Easy Breakfast Dish many times – very yummy!

What have you done today to make your nest tidyer, cleaner or more beautiful?  I would love to hear!

So, I am cleaning this week in preparation for the holiday season…and I am determined to have fun with it!!!  So, here’s a little inspiration for you to have fun whilst getting some of that ‘summer play’ residue off your little nest!

Day 1 to-do:

1. Tackle that laundry…everything that is machine washable – wash it today!  Luckily I have a laundromat within walking distance so I can take several loads there too.  Do what works for you…just get it done!

2. Tidy in 10 – go to each room in the house and tidy away as many items as you can in 10 minute intervals.  You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done in that small amount of time!  If you know something will take days to go through {family photos for example…} make a tidy spot for them and put that on your to-do list.  You can conquer that one properly when you have a tidy and clean environment.

3. Clean floors…while your rugs and other items are in the wash, sweep, vacuum and mop!  But don’t forget to play your favourite music!  I like to make mine upbeat so that I can add a little jig here and there!

4. Take a shower and take your toothbrush too! Bring your dedicated cleaning toothbrush in the shower with you and scrub that grout till it sparkles! You never know, maybe the toothpaste will help too…!  While you’re in the bathroom, clean the toilet and sink too…you won’t regret it!

The object of each day is to make it cleaner than it was before!  This isn’t an exercise in perfection, but in cleaning.  Don’t be discouraged if everything isn’t done in one day!  However, remember not to embark on anything you can’t finish on top of all the cleaning you’re doing.  Like sorting the DVD collection or your wardrobe.  I find that when I try to ‘tidy’ these bigger things whilst spring or holiday cleaning, I make more of a mess than what I started with – and then I get discouraged.  Acknowledge the need to go through these things, and set a hot date with them for the future!

Happy cleaning and see you tomorrow with more! ; )

Ingredients for an autumn salad

Ingredients for an autumn salad

My outlook on cooking has totally changed now that we have grown some of our own successfully this year.  We’ve had some amazing marrow (squash) and courgette (zucchini) and some creamy little potatoes too.  Only a few of our tomatoes survived the blight…  But oh my!  Its been an adventure!

Courgette and Yam

My man’s parents also grow their own and we often get produce from them or from like-minded friends of theirs.  We’ve also gone to this awesome place called Millets Farm where you can pick your own produce.  Their shop is filled with information on where they’ve sourced their produce from – very helpful stuff.  We were able to buy everything local and fresh – it was great!

Mashed potatoes and yams - scrumptious

Mashed potatoes and yams - scrumptious

There’s something in knowing where your food comes from that gives you a greater sense of its value and nature…  I am hoping to be able to grow a winter salady crop so that we can keep our spirits up during the short, dark months before spring.  If you haven’t tried growing your own – I would definitely recommend it!  A little pot of chives will last years and you just trim when you want some with your jacket potato…

Cable Dishcloth

I made this little dishcloth, and a friend in a dark turquoise, based on a simple cable pattern and some rib stitching at either end.  I love the softness of it and the colours I chose in Debbie Bliss’s Cotton DK.  I could make 50 more of these – I love them so much!!!  I think they will definitely help to inspire me to do the washing up… ; )

Last night my husband and I went out on a date – and I enjoyed it sooo much!  As soon as he said to look at the movie line-up in town and choose one…I was off in lala land!  He went to his club football {soccer} match and I had several hours to agonize over what to where and get my evening make-up just right…  I felt like a little girl again with all the excitement pulsing through my veins!  It was a special time set apart for the man I love and me to invest in each other!  Did I mention that I love dressing up for my man??!  It was great!!!  I meant to take a photo before we left…but some moments aren’t meant to be intruded upon and I left it be…  But I will always remember his smile and the way we looked at each other {and laughed!} throughout the film…

I would totally recommend this film to bloggers and food lovers {and food eaters!!} near and far…  Julie and Julia was a real hit for both of us – and a great date movie in my opinion because a) it was about two married couples eating a lot! {inspirational} and b) at least when we went, the theatre was scattered with middle-aged women who laughed hysterically at every “funny” thing that Julia did…  We joined right in and were at some points nearly in tears because some of them were sounding a lot like Julia when they giggled!  So loud and high pitched…!!

An awesome cast to top off an great story!

An awesome cast to top off a great story!

Oh, it was definitely a film to remember!  And when we got home we {my hubby, I might add} found Julie’s blog and we enjoyed reminiscing through it after feeling as though we’d just gone through that year with Julie!  Fun!

As we were online, I decided to search facebook to see if my old friend and mentor had joined facebook, her name also Julie…  and to my delight I found her after several years of bad {non-existent} communication {my fault}!  I am so happy!!  She taught me a lot of the foundational things I know about quilting and making handbags…and has definitely been an influence on my style and womanhood!  She taught me things like how to fold a pillowcase – Martha Stewart’s way…and to always drink whole, fresh milk  – I didn’t do enough of that, Julie, and now I am dairy-free because of it {should have listened to the Dairy-farmer’s daughter…} and how to keep memories through photography…  And so much more!  And, now, what a delight it is to see her family grow…

My dear friend Julie and her family

My dear friend Julie and her boys

By the way…I totally recommend the Martha stewart pillow-case folding treatment {bonus: it works for any kind of towel too!}…

Marthas towel-folding expertise...

Martha's towel-folding expertise...

Now, we’re off to our cousin’s baby’s dedication in London, which will be fun as we’ll no-doubt see lots of family as we gather to commit this lovely little one to God’s care…

Enjoy your Sunday!

Our Little Family

today at the nest

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Pattern Challenge