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I had a fun time making some chocolate covered nuts yesterday for Easter, so thought I’d share it here…

First, melt the baking chocolate in a double boiler, or a saucepan in a larger saucepan with boiling water…

Then, when its melted, turn off the heat and stir in your nuts – I used hazelnuts, pecans, and almonds.  Coat them well.

Spoon out clusters of nuts – maybe 3-4 nuts per cluster –  and place them onto baking paper/parchment paper lined baking tray and decorate with sprinkles or whatever your heart desires.  Place it in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Take them out to sit until brought to room temperature and don’t melt in your hand when you try to pick it up.

If they manage to make it – store them in an airtight container and share them with all your friends!  And Happy Easter to all! : )

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!

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…

Repurposed magazine bow

Repurposed magazine bow

I love what How About Orange has posted here {a lovely tutorial} about recycling old magazines into bows!  As you can see above, it is stunning!  I wonder what else can be done with a little creative immagination to save on gift wrapping in the upcoming holiday season?

When I walked out my front door this morning I was surprised to find a friend hanging around just outside:

Spider in web cropped2

Looks like she just pitched up last night…she’s got a really strong web and actually its really well designed – maybe the best I’ve ever seen…!  The web is sort of free-styling over low shrub – really well suspended by a large shrub next to it, the gutter above and the hanging basket across our walkway…above our heads and with enough room for our door to swing wide open…!  She thought long and hard about this one!!

The really strong bit of the web (that we walk under) keeping the whole idea together...!

The really strong bit of the web (that we walk under) keeping the whole idea together...!

It was really hard to get a good pic of her in her home because she kept blowing around because of the long lead on her web…!  Amazing though, isn’t it?  I’m just going to leave her there and see how long she lasts with that design…

Autumn is in the air – don’t ya think?

Web in wreath

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1. Block Party Press ~ Fly Away Home Dangle Earrings

2. Jessica Simanowski ~ Everything is Humming, original painting

3. Rock and Gold ~ Aqua Chlacedony Textured Chain Lariat

4. Red Yellow and Blue Ink ~ Repurposed Bird Feeder

5. Euphorian Chic ~ Queen Anne’s School Day Summer Illustration Print

Our Little Family

today at the nest

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Pattern Challenge