Your frugal freezer!     

The amount of food that we waste in the Western world is really quite shocking. I do try not to buy too much but there are still times when things do end up in the bin as they have sat in the fridge for too long.

As you know, I am a bit of a freezer fan and I have blogged about freezing your own produce before. But your freezer is not just great for your own produce it’s also a good way to help you cut waste by being a bit canny… Here are some ideas I hope you’ll find useful.

Bread

If you tap sliced loves on the worktop before freezing, it helps the slices come apart more easily when taking them out of the freezer. You can also divide a sliced loaf up into smaller batches and freeze 4 or 8 slices. Convenient to take out use and also easier to store than a big bulky loaf.

Fruit

Slice lemons and limes, bag and freeze already to drop into your G&T. You can also freeze grapes and berries and make fun ice cubes – I love this idea!

Eggs

I’ve touched on eggs before, but I thought this was worth passing on: Separate yolks from whites and put them into food bags (sturdy zip lock ones are probably best) before freezing, handy for baking. Alternatively, you can beat the eggs before freezing and store in a plastic container all ready for scrambled eggs or an omelette.

Chillies

Freeze them whole and then you can chop or grate them directly into whatever you are cooking. Simples!

Meat

Separate with greaseproof paper so sausages and rashers of bacon don’t stick together.

Get it write!

I know it sounds a bit dull, but it is important to label what you freeze. You can buy indelible marker pens easily these days. I keep one in the kitchen, especially for freezing stuff. Write what it is and the date you froze it. Let’s be honest we’ve all had that moment where we’ve defrosted what we’ve thought was one thing and discovered it was another. I think my worst one was defrosting what I thought was stewed apple to make a crumble… only to find it was marrow. Fail.

Wrap it up

Again, boring but essential. Proper wrapping prevents freezer burn that can do horrid things to texture and colour. ‘Portion meals’ (like lasagne or shepherd’s pie) work well in foil trays. If you are freezing food for a short time, then plastic bags and cling film are fine. Remember to never put glass in the freezer!

Fill it up

A freezer is more economical to run if it is full. Fill free space with plastic bottles half filled with water.

If you’ve got too much of something, always think ‘freezer’ before you think ‘bin’!

 

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On your special day…

Here are two examples that use the same Lisa Audit image from Pad 2. I am a huge Lisa Audit fan, I love her style, her choice of colours and I really hope we can do more pads in the future.

The card is simple but effective – I will forever be a lace enthusiast! The base is a 180mm square card in cream, add backing papers and, of course, there’s a border on the same sheet as the image and sentiment, which has been matted on cream for the border and kraft for the sentiment. Cut out the extra roses and leave to one side. Layer up the main image onto some backing paper and then onto kraft card.

Attach at an angle and then add the label tied with lace. All the layers are also defined a bit by gently antiquing the edges with distress inks. Now add the extra roses using Pinflair glue gel.

But if you want to play with something sturdier than a card, then this plaque uses the same image and would make a fabulous little gift.

This is a thick MDF base, the first layer is a piece of torn kraft card and then the main image. This is then layered with a few extra roses and leaves. You can just decoupage the roses or if you want to splurge and use the second sheet with this design in the pad you can cut out the leaves and buds in the corners too.

The string is attached by stapling on the back into the MDF. Finally, add the ribbon and the gift tag.

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Super Sunday cook up!

I really enjoy having a mass Sunday cook up so I have meals prepared for the week and to keep feeding my freezer, sadly it is getting a bit full now so I may have to slow down!

This time of year is very veg heavy for anyone that likes growing things in the garden. I have a very clever, enthusiastic recent convert to gardening for a husband and a doubly enthusiastic, so experienced he could be on Gardener’s World, neighbour. My neighbour has acres of garden and grows a vast amount of produce (by yours and my little standards) and he is so kind and generous with both his time to discuss gardening traumas and also sharing produce. We share ours too!

So this weekend, I had potatoes, Kestrel and Charlotte varieties, some strange heirloom carrots in cream, yellow and orange. Runner beans, French beans, spring onions, lettuce (three carrier bags stuffed full) and radishes. Then my neighbour popped round and brought me another carrier bag of apples, a huge bowl of raspberries (wow!) and more courgettes.

Now I hate wasting food, especially organic home grown yumminess …. So I had to get a plan! I have limited space in my freezer so it had to be a compact plan! The lettuce I really liked in the lettuce soup that I posted about recently but I would end up with oh so many containers. So I took a short cut and did the first stage of the soup, by wilting the lettuce in chicken stock and then pureeing. That way I only had 5 containers to store!  The apples, hmm, well despite my daughter suggesting her horse ‘needed’ a constant supply of apples, these were too delicious to part with but we don’t eat many puddings these days (dieting grumble, grumble!) so I turned the apples into apple purée and am going to freeze it in little containers that can either turn into apple sauce or be added to parsnip and apple soup.

Then I started on shepherd’s pies to use some of the potatoes and added squash to the mash. Then I made quiches, one for this week and one will just have to freeze, they are ok defrosted but improve with reheating. I now have close to zero room in my freezer but it feels as though I have had a good and successful day – phew!

 

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Creative chaos or just a mess?

As we all know on this blog, crafters are all pretty wonderful people! Of course, we are all different in what we like and don’t like and how we approach things. In our work, some of us are tidy and some of us messy. Does it matter if you have everything neatly stored and colour coordinated… or your desk (like mine!) is an eruption of colours and bits and pieces? The general view always seems to be that tidy is best. Well, hang on, there’s some good news for those of us on the messy end of the scale – I’ve just read that there is growing evidence that being tidy can actually hamper your creativity!

My desk, just now!

Being messy has its plus points. Messy can be read as ‘interesting’. If you stick to a strict regimen, you may well get lots done, but is what you produce any good, or original? A horrible term ‘thinking outside the box’ is, I think, meant to encourage you to look at things from a different, perhaps quirky angle. In a recent blog, I wrote about making the most of your dies and using them in different ways from how they were originally intended. It seems obvious, but sometimes, you just have to stand back a bit and let your mind wander… yes, I know, mine wanders a lot!

I think most of us would own up to having too much ‘stuff’ in our lives and can spend a lot of time trying to ‘de-clutter’. Just have a look at top-selling books on Amazon and you’ll see there’s a whole industry in it! But if you go too far the other way, that empty minimalist way of living can be too restricting. There’s nothing less inspiring than an empty wall.

Some really creative and clever people had chaotic desks. Asked to name a brainy person and many of us would come up with Einstein. I am pleased to report he had a fantastically messy desk! So too, apparently, does the domestic goddess Nigella Lawson, so there’s hope for us all.

The theory seems to be that a messy and chaotic approach to work and creativity often leads to a fresh way of thinking. There’s been lots of research done that proves that messy=creative. How many artists’ studios have you ever seen that are tidy?

Unfortunately, the idea that ‘messy is bad’ is taught to us from a very early age. But surely, being allowed to make a mess has to be a good thing if that is how you prefer to live or work. Trying to force yourself to be tidy cannot be a good way to live – how are you going to express yourself? And let’s face it; most children are happiest when they are allowed to make a mess!

Life is a messy business. So much of my ‘clutter’ is actually my ‘happy memory’ bank – photos of my parents, my granddaughter’s artworks, a shell I picked up on a far way beach… and so it goes on. As a fellow crafter, I am sure you know just what I mean. Enjoy your mess! Smiles, Joanna

 

 

 

 

 

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Is it a beach hut… or a shed?

I decided to do a blog about this card today to underline the flexibility of dies. Technically this is sold as a beach hut, (see my previous blog!) and very popular it is too, but I loved the use of it as a plain old garden shed. It fascinates me how a different paint job or colouring treatment or however you like to look at it, can turn it into something quite different.

I was reading an article the other day about ‘Man caves’ and thought how nice it must be for a husband to be able to choose everything without female input and have a little world that is completely his own. I offered Richard a shed down the garden and his response was: “What’s wrong with the garden shed we have now, it’s not full yet?” OK, he obviously doesn’t feel he needs a man cave, but time will tell!

However, in tandem with that article was one about ‘She sheds’ and it occurred to me how lovely it would be to have, say, a fairy garden interior, or whatever your favourite dream place is. I’m not sure if I have the time to do anything for now, but I do know I will be exploring the lovely ‘fairy door’ idea for spots in the garden to make sure Grace grows up with the same love of fairies and gardens as I have… Watch this space on the website is all I will say!

To go back to this card, the image was from ‘One Summer’s Day’ CD which features artwork by an American lady called Barbara Mock – such lovely designs on there, I do enjoy using it.

So how about a man’s card with a shed on it, or a card for a keen gardener with the door of the shed opening to have tools spilling out? So why not have a look at all your dies and ponder alternative uses for them!

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