Category Archives: The Frugally Fabulous Year

Guest Post: Getting Crafty with Duck Tape Decorating

Who knew there was so much you could do with Duck Tape?  After a recent conversation with Ruth, who works with Duck Tape Colours; stocking a fabulous array of ducktape for all your crafting needs, I just HAD to get her to guest post on here.  Here are some inventive, colourful and creative ways of using Duck Tape in your household and interior crafting, look out for some more tutorials on Frugally Peachy coming up!  Thanks Ruth for your post – it’s inspiring!

Duck Tape has been known for years as something your Dad might keep in the garage for DIY jobs, but did you know the product now comes in all sorts of colours and patterns for crafters? It’s perfect for interior design on a budget. All you need is a bit of creativity!

I’m Ruth and I work with Duck Tape and I wanted to introduce you to a couple of the fab things you can now do with it. But first of all, the products. No more plain grey for this feathered friend – Duck is now leopard print, bright green, yellow, pink, zebra print.  It’s water resistant and can be cut or torn by hand so is also great for use with the kids.

Just some of the things that the Duck Team have been creating are…

 

Picture Frames

New ImageFor this you’ll just need Duck Tape, scissors, a
 ruler
and your picture to frame. If you fancy, you could add stickers and magnetic strips.

Step 1: 
Cut 2 x long pieces of Duck Tape and lay them both sticky side up on your work surface.

New Image1Step 2: 
Take one of the strips of tape and place it sticky side down on tope of the other piece of tape, creating a Duck Tape strip. Repeat to get 2 strips the same length.

Step 3
: Make two double sides strips that are shorter in length the same way as you did in  Steps 1-2.

Step 4: 
Form the picture frame with the 4 strips by placing the shorter pieces in between the longer pieces.

Frame 3 Step 5: 
Cut 4 x 1 inch strips and use them to tape the frame together where the long and short strips meet – these are called place holders.

Step 6: 
Cut a strip of Duck Tape slightly longer than your short strip and place it directly over the shorter side of the frame, covering the place holder. Fold the extra tape onto the back.

Frame 4Step 7
: Repeat Step 6 on the opposite short side.

Frame 2

Step 8
: Flip the picture frame over. Centre your photo face down over the frame’s window. Secure the photo in place using Duck Tape. Turn the photo frame round!
You could use stickers or extra pieces of Duck Tape to decorate or add magnetic strips to the back to hang your photo on a fridge. Attach string to the back to hang your photo frame, or make a standing frame by taping a piece of cardboard onto the back.

Frame 6You could also create this fab cushion, which is so easy and cheap to do.

Cushion - to useadccb56bf1cb7a73c69c111dd08d0624b551ad0d

b144fbd3811cf72629178fcbc1abea0dc4be7a341b2b8b73f192300eafd794190bf944490eb6471c4d1bc954577c836c5d28bddde365e9e4a1d25af9Check out these images for a quick how-to and don’t forget to check out our website for all your duck tape needs – we look forward to seeing you! http://www.ducktapecolours.co.uk

 

 

 

Guest Post: The Potential of Handmade Merchandise

I’ve been an avid follower of Icy Sedgwick for quite a while now, her Friday Flash Fiction pieces are fabulous over on her blog and I was more than impressed with her latest offering, The Necromancer’s Apprentice.  Today on the blog, Icy shares her ideas on Handmade Merchandise – see she’s a pretty awesome crafter as well as writer!  Thanks Icy for appearing on Frugally Peachy and please do check out her work!

Apprentice_coverPublishing used to be much more straightforward. A publisher took on your book, and their marketing department would swing into gear, getting the word out and getting the cover in front of potential buyers. Nowadays, even getting a traditional deal with a publisher is no guarantee that it will receive much of a marketing push, unless you’re Lee Child or E. L. James, and a lot more of the onus is placed squarely on the author. It’s even more of a challenge if you sign with an independent publisher, or if you decide to go it alone and publish yourself.

I’ve got two books out, although my marketing strategy currently places the emphasis on the more recent title – The Necromancer’s Apprentice only came out in March, and while I’ve been undertaking the usual such as tweeting the occasional link (careful not to spam), conducting blog tours, writing guest posts (such as this one), and even holding a book launch in my hometown. That’s all well and good, but I can’t help thinking I can do more. So this is where my idea of merchandise comes in.

Merchandise is nothing new. In the movie Spaceballs, Yoda-like figure Yoghurt explains that merchandise “is where the real money of the movie is made”. Think of all the lunch boxes, colouring books, action figures, video games and clothing that accompany major Hollywood releases. Literature isn’t really as ‘hot’ on merchandise – books like the Harry Potter series, Twilight and Lord of the Rings only really have merchandise as a tie-in with the movies. True, there is a plethora of literature related jewellery on Etsy, but little of it is specific to titles, or designed to promote the books – they’re more to promote the wearer’s love of literature. So is there any way of making merchandise to sell a book? I’ve seen it done before, as my friend Synde Korman makes jewellery to promote Carrie Clevenger’s Crooked Fang novel, but I did start to wonder if I could make something to promote The Necromancer’s Apprentice. After all, people who find my goods on Etsy might be interested enough to then read the book, while people who read the book might decide to support it further by buying associated products.

MummiesI started off with these little guys – a pair of crocheted mummies. The mummies in the book are bloodthirsty and far from cuddly, but these two cute critters accompanied the paperbacks at the book launch in June. They’re not listed on Etsy just yet, but I’m hoping they’ll help pique interest. After all, I love to knit and crochet, so why not combine my love of crafting with my love of books?

I also decided to make a bottle pendant, using coloured resin, to tie in with the bottled enchantments that the book’s villain, the Necromancer General, keeps in her vaults.

BottlePendant

I made these anatomical engraving pendants some months ago but I’ve decided to absorb them into my Necromancer’s Apprentice range as I think they really fit the book.HeartPendant I’ve also got plans to design sigils to add to pendants as the use (or misuse) of sigils is an important part of the plot, and I’d like to crochet some more of the figures. There is a lot I can potentially make.

I think that’s also hopefully part of the appeal. These products aren’t just handmade – they’re handmade by the author of the book. I also hope that they have value outside of the book, so you don’t need to have read the book to necessarily appreciate them – they’re just a bonus if you have.

What do you guys think about the idea of handmade merchandise tailored to specific book titles? Would that be exciting if you’d read the book, or might it pique your interest if you hadn’t?

Bio

Icy Sedgwick was born in the North East of England, and lives and works in Newcastle. She spends her non-writing time working on a PhD in Film Studies, considering the use of set design in contemporary horror, as well as knitting up a storm. Icy had her first book, a pulp Western named The Guns of Retribution, published in 2011, and her horror fantasy, The Necromancer’s Apprentice, was released in March 2014.

Links

Website

Amazon

Etsy

Guest Post: Summer Berry Sorbet

When it comes to Summer recipes, there is nothing I like more than a little sorbet (or skinny ice cream, as I call it)!  So, with the lovely hot weather we have been enjoying, I thought I’d share this wonderful guest post from Jess, who writes over at Jessthetics, a recipe for Summer Berry Sorbet.  Go check out her blog, she’s a fabulous seamstress too and a real lover of all things environmentally and ethically friendly!

1 Hello! It’s Jess here, from Jessthetics. I’m so excited to be guest posting on Frugally Peachy today. I have a confession to make – I’m not that fond of ice cream. It’s okay, but it’s not my favourite treat by any means. I much prefer sorbet! The good news is that sorbet is really easy and cheap to make, and it’s (probably) healthier than ice cream! My recipe is for summer berry sorbet because I’m in love with cherries right now, but you could substitute pretty much any fruit that you fancy, or that needs using up.

2You wil need: 1 cup of blueberries, 1 cup of rasberries, 1 cup of cherries, 1/4 cup of sugar and a blender.

3First, remove the stones and stalks from your cherries, and blend all of your fruit, except for a couple of berries which will make a nice garnish later!

4Next you need to make some simple syrup. As the title suggests, it really is simple! Pop your sugar in a pan with 200ml of water and stir over a medium heat until the sugar’s dissolved. Then bring the water to the boil and turn off the heat.

5Once your simple syrup has cooled, combine it with the blended fruit and put the mixture in the freezer. It’ll take hours to freeze, so I suggest doing this in the morning ready to eat in the evening, or leaving it in the freezer overnight.

6Once your mixture has frozen, blend it together until smooth and put it back in the freezer for half an hour.

And that’s it! Scoop out your sorbet, add a couple of berries on top and gobble it up before it melts. Much more refreshing than ice cream, am I right?

7Thanks for letting me guest post on your blog Emma, and I hope you have a wonderful month of writing!

Thanks Jess…I might be a little too distracted to write with this gorgeous recipe! Thanks for sharing!

8

Hello July, Hello 30!

neo 1So, July arrived in a haze of hot days, long nights and a whole load of Nazi research.  How’s it panning out for you so far?  It isn’t long until the stretch of Summer Holidays is upon excited school children.  Then again, neither is it long before I kiss my 20s goodbye.

It is today in fact!  Hello 30…my, you’re looking rather appealing and exciting!

The last ten years seem to have gone by in quite a blur.  Well, actually, not really.  I’ve lived in three cities, had several jobs, climbed my way up the corporate fashion ladder – only to jump off at the top, in a desperate attempt to escape!  I’ve had wonderful trips abroad, made some lifelong friendships with some amazing people, had some great experiences, loved, lost and learnt all about love, in the form of having my little lady!

meanddaisyI was lucky to spend last weekend with one of my closest friends, Lucy, who came to see me from London – we had some drinks out with other friends and a good old catch up, plus a lift in a VW Transporter – which was an entirely new experience for me.  Today, I’m sticking to the usual routine of singing group followed by a Birthday lunch with my extra special Mum Mafia.  Tonight it’s all about catching up at The Gladstone and TOMORROW, I’m getting my dancing (or indeed just ability-to-stand) heels on for the Most Ugly Child EP launch, with support from one of my favourite local musicians, Ryan Thomas.  30 ain’t looking too bad at all!

Birthdays always make you reflect on the last year, or ten years.  To think, this time, 10 years ago, I was finishing off a degree in Dance, bothering the DJs at Reflex for playing enough Duran Duran for my Birthday, not sure where I was headed and I was sporting an interesting choppy hairdo that changed between blonder than blonde and browner than brown!

To be honest, I don’t know if I am where I ever thought I’d be at 30 – ‘op North’, single mama with a penchant for DIY and Elvis.  Then again do we ever know what we really want?  So, before I get all too deep and meaningful, I thought I’d share some of the things I feel really proud of, in my 30 whole years on this planet.

1. I guess it goes without saying that I’m proud of my little girl.  She’s a joy to be with everyday and the absolutely best daughter you could ask for.

2. I’m proud to be a perpetual dream chaser.  I’ve never wanted to live a linear life, I like the life I have.  I can only hope to fulfil some of my bigger ambitions in the next decade too, but I’m proud to be motivating myself to make in-roads.

IMG_20131012_220858

3. I’m proud to be strong and absolute in doing what’s right for me and my family.  There is a strength that only comes from going through hell – learning to embrace it is so important.

4. I’m proud of my ‘how hard can it be’ attitude.  Without that, I don’t think there would be a blog, a #craftblogclub, a patchwork chair or even a working relationship with a sewing machine.

5. I’m proud of my Mum, who taught me how to do everything, I can only hope to be the same level of awesome for Daisy.

6. I’m proud to have lived in London, it was bloody hard and bloody expensive.  But, after two and a half years, I miss that old place so much and I’m sorry I didn’t take care of us a little more, old girl!

7. I’m proud to be unique – it makes comparing yourself to others a LOT easier!

8. I’m proud to be a non-consumer and I’m proud of my little blog, wherever it may take me next.

9. I’m proud of my endless ability and patience to apply eyeliner every day!

10. I’m proud to have such wonderful friends and family around me, who support whatever I do – it means a lot and I’m eternally grateful to you!

OK…I’m leaving it there for today, I’m off to sing my heart out with Little D and welcome in the mystical thirties with the most yummy traybake I’ve EVER baked!  See you on the other side

thirtyStay Peachy x

 

#CraftBlogClub – ‘You Complete Me’ Challenge Reveal…

craftblogclub badgeSo, I have a little confession to make before I get into trawling your wonderful makes!  I haven’t completed my project :(.  I feel like the worst host ever, but I was inadvertently left without a table on which to use my sewing machine for nearly three weeks, which has inevitably left me very little time to complete ANYTHING I need to.  I’m behind with my sewing projects already BUT, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  Here’s my WIP so far…

The Scrappy Patchwork Chair

chair 1The purpose of ‘You Complete Me’, was to bring to light just how many WIPs us crafty lot have and really take the time to get ONE thing finished.  I blame external incidents for my unfortunate half-finished masterpiece, that and a particularly nasty delivery driver.  BUT, it has been fabulous to see so many of our #craftblogclub crew working so hard on projects they had near forgotten about, over the last few weeks – my Twitter feed has been littered with lovely WIP photos and posts and I can’t WAIT to see some finished projects.  So please, do link up below and share your work!

For my ‘You Complete Me’ challenge, I decided to challenge myself with some new crafting ideas and creating something of a statement in my lounge.  These old chairs were given to us me by some relatives who had no use for them anymore.  Though they were specifically ‘conservatory chairs’, at the time I really liked the shape of them and the comfort too – plus the footstool would be a great added extra for lazy knitting evenings sat in front of the TV.  They did, however, need a lot of TLC and I thought our ‘You Complete Me’ challenge would be the perfect time for me to get to grips with covering them.

patchwork close upAs I’m in the midst of painting and DIY-ing my house at the mo, I decided to try and make this chair a real statement in my lounge.  I had already painted a red accent wall and decided to trawl through my fabric and see how little I could spend patchworking the chair.  I had a lot of teals, turquoises and blues, which I felt would blend in really well with the red.  To finish, I decided to contrast the footstool by knitting a stripy cover using the same colour palette.  This would blend in with the blue hues on my sofa cushions and I even have a couple of knitted squares, ready for a sofa throw in the same palette too.  What could go wrong, thought I?  Well, to be honest, I’ve never patchworked a thing in my life.

Being the renegade crafter that I am, I thought starting off with big patches measured, ironed and sewn into place, couldn’t be too difficult – luckily I possess a lot of the ‘how hard can it be’ attitude, so the effect is already really starting to look great on the chair.  Being quite the sewing novice still, I decided to sew each of the top cushion sections and leave an open end on both.  I’m toying with the idea of hand-sewing press studs to secure the cover in place, but it does seem to fold and sit quite nicely without, footstoolwhich I’ll be thankful for when it comes to washing the covers!  I’ll get there, just not this month.  I did have to purchase a little more fabric, but the total spend on this project was just £11.98 – though I should replace the foam at a later date too.

I’m planning to get this baby finished as soon as I can, then I’ll post some finished photos and updates on my new lounge.  It has been a great way of working with patchwork and I do feel I’ve created something really unique for my home too.  I think it has a charm to it, the not-so-perfect patches, there is something quite fairytale-cottagey about it, which I think I quite like!  Just nod and smile.

So what about you guys?  What have you been up to and DID you manage to complete this project on time??  Stay tuned, I’ll be setting up a #CraftBlogClub makes board on Pinterest to showcase our wonderful work!

armchair 1Stay Peachy x

Come Join Us..



Reflections: Six Months In….

love financesWell, I feel as if I’ve barely scratched the surface of creating a ‘homemade life’ and I’ve just realised I’m six months in to my Frugally Fabulous Year already.  And what a year it has been!

This month has really been a time to reflect on the past six months and, amongst all the list-making, I do feel that I’m starting to re-evaluate my goals for this year and make some long term plans for me and D, my career, our house (mostly patchworking) and our future,

With that, comes the ever-present need to continue watching, monitoring and (hopefully) growing our finances.  So what exactly is it that I’m ‘saving’ on this year??  I think I gotta get serious with the ‘nitty gritty’ side of being frugally fabulous – when I write about my ‘previous London life’, it seems almost a million years ago.  All that Starbucks-guzzling, Whistles-wardrobe-stuffing and band-chasing seems lost in the midst of time, babies and DIY-obsessing.  So how do I really know HOW to save on what I’ve already cut back?  So, six months in, I gave myself a little financial refresh – here’s what I’m doing…

BE METICULOUS – OFTEN

It seems like the most BORING job in the world, but someone has to do it.  And until you can afford an accountant to balance your incomings and outgoings, it needs to be YOU.  At the moment, I am finding it easiest to manage my finances on a fortnightly basis.  Every two weeks, I painstakingly go through my bills to stay on top of my finances.  YAWNSVILLE, I know BUT – at this point in the year I have paid off 75% of my overall debt, so it’s gotta be worth doing, right?

joy jarREMEMBER YOUR JOY JAR!

I had this Joy Jar idea back along – a little jar (beautifully decorated with lace, it was) for all the money you save each month (no matter how little).  Despite my retirement from High Street shopping, I’m still a great believer in treating yourself to something off the wishlist.  So, whatever the dream, keep your joy jar brimming with whatever you manage to save and that necklace, vintage dress or holiday will seem that little bit closer!

GIVE YOUR HOUSEHOLD BILLS A SPRING CLEAN

With my break up, came all the necessary paperwork, bills transfers and a new consetina file to stuff it all in.  BUT, it was also a great opportunity to give my bills a bit of an overhaul and I managed to lower my electricity and gas bill by £12 a month – based on current meter readings and usage over the past 6 months.  What’s more?  My electricity and gas company of choice, also recommend a re-check every 3 months so, to get the best out of your bills, take advantage of this regular overhaul.

LITTLE LISTS…LITTLE LIFESAVERS

List-making is a way of life for me! Shopping lists save time and idle wandering, meal planning saves precious time with Miss D and a little extra cash in the bank (not to mention space in the wastebin) and even wishlists give you a, sort of, focus.  Lists provide the limits that we need, sometimes BUT they are, in themselves, limitless.  Starting small, I’m in the process of setting myself daily, weekly and monthly goals and so on and so forth.  These aren’t all financial, it has to be said, but does put the four quarters of life into a stark (and often exciting) reality.

receipt reflectionsAnd FINALLY…THE BEST EBAY BUYS ARE SEASONS AHEAD

If there’s one thing to take from years in fashion retail, as discussed with my equally fabulous friend this week, who is busy scaling the dizzy heights of Liberty these days, it’s that you possess the unequalled ability to shop SEASONS AHEAD!  Once a fashion retail muggle, you will forever be shopping the trends rather than what’s just hitting the shops…so how does this save money?  Well, whatever your shopping style, you’re bound to find the best out-of-season bargains exactly then, out of season.  If you’re serious about bargain hunting in the wardrobe department, why not take a little bit of Pinterest and Vogue around with you and keep your eyes open for winter coats in the heat of Summer and Summer skirts in the January sales.  My mind is already turning to customising one of my favourite winter capes and just how I could integrate some Bradshaw-inspired dusk pink into my blacker than black wardrobe!

Do you feel the need for a little financial overhaul?  What tips do you have for penny pinching?

IMG_20140604_164025Stay Peachy x

 

 

 

Reflections: Exhausted Workers and ‘Vintage’ Overuse

Wardrobe 1Last night, I decided to opt for some quiet time and recorded the new programme ‘This Old Thing'; in which the ever-wonderful Dawn O’Porter tried to convince fashion and High Street lovers that Vintage is the way forward.  I had some great feedback about the programme from friends and visitors to my FB page, so great that, in fact, I thought there was just too much media fodder NOT to talk about the art of vintage/secondhand shopping.

In truth, has there ever been more of a prevalent time to shop second hand and source your clothes from somewhere other than the High Street, than now?  I’m not talking economic downturns, I’m talking about the shocking story in the media this week about the Primark shopper who found this rather sobering label in her recent purchase, presumably written by a despairing over-worked employee in one of their sweatshops, or a bunch of guerrilla crafty-minded activists. 6213002-large Sadly, this isn’t the only case like this that has been reported, yet Primark and its other fast-fashion conglomerates continue to rake in profits like no tomorrow whilst shoppers give little or no thought to how or why their beautiful, affordable clothing really are SO cheap.  Everything, no matter which way you look at it, or what side of the world you are fortunate to live on, comes at a price.

After catching up with ‘This Old Thing’, some of the attitudes of not-easily-persuaded shoppers feel almost alien to me, as someone who revels in rummaging through charity shops and thrives on the adrenalin of eBay bids.  I’ve said it plenty before on this blog and I’ll say it again, for all its fast fixes – I don’t miss the High Street at all.  But it does lead me to question, is a love of vintage and secondhand really innate, does it grow with your own personal style?  Or can it be taught?

Firstly, like some of my Facebook Peachy People, I’m not sure I like the word ‘Vintage’ being banded around as often as it is.  It is, after all, mostly a euphemism for ‘second hand’, just as ‘Nouvelle Cuisine’ was a euphemism for ‘hardly anything on your freakin’ plate’.  My love of vintage stems from my desire to not look like anyone else and the freedom a mix and match wardrobe of good quality pieces from all the very best decades can bring you.  I’m in love with fashion in the same way that Coco Chanel was, I love how clothes can accentuate your personality and make you feel.  I’m not a follower of trends, I like to think I look comfortable in my own skin and I like to feel unique, that has been a lifelong desire of mine.

I don’t think about whose bodies my clothes have previously encapsulated my ‘vintage’ finds, a common concern for the guests on Dawn O’s show.  I have a washing machine after all.  I really do enjoy the process of rummaging through the bits and bobs, as I know many people do.  I like the feeling of authenticity in my pieces, I love the stories and tales that could be hidden, pressed into each thread, I like that my wardrobe is a mish mash of one-offs and  quirky tastes.  It is a more rewarding hobby, in my opinion, to find your own fashion in the treasures of people’s pasts than in the racks of monotony.  But that’s just me.

Becoming a lover of vintage secondhand, in favour of all things High Street, is not a learned behaviour, I don’t think.  I think one has to feel connected to the past, long to relive decades gone by, to find their own sense of personal style in everything that has, sort of, been already.  Yes, you can do the ‘Mad Men’ trend, for as long as H&M stocks that shape, but a love of real secondhand fashion takes dedication, focus and a little bit of disappointment, sometimes.  Which simply isn’t for everyone.

But, with all this news of hidden labels and cries for help, can we really afford to be so in love with fast fashion anymore?  With news that H&M has a sweatshop running in the UK, the problems faced by these exploited workers – all in aid of all things ‘affordable’ – are even closer to home than we like to imagine.  So, with that in mind, I’d like to fly the flag for all things vintage, secondhand and even me-made, safe in the knowledge that I won’t be finding any hidden labels in my clothes anytime soon.

Are you following a Frugally Fabulous Year?  Fancy doing it?  Keep it here for more handy tips on life without the High Street!

meStay Peachy x

 

Sherwood Art Week and A Crafty Meet-Up

bannerLast weekend sort of flashed by in a yarn-bombing blur and, to be honest, much the same is to be said for this week so far.

On Saturday, I had the great pleasure of finally meeting my wonderful two #CraftBlogClub co-hosts, Katie and Fiona, in Nottingham.  Since the two lovely ladies hopped on board the good ship Craft, they have been such a huge help and it was lovely to finally meet up and talk big plans for driving #CraftBlogClub forward.  More on that to come, in the meantime we were all busy updating the Twitter account and brainstorming new challenges and topic ideas for our weekly chat.

We spent the majority of the day at the Nottingham Contemporary – a perfect gallery venue with a cafe bar, freshly prepared food and child friendly too.  We chatted about all things craft, business and The Tudors (that was mostly me, lowering the tone).  It was so wonderful to meet the ladies I have been chatting to, and who have provided such great support for my idea, in ‘real life’!  Both Katie and Fiona are passionate about craft and passionate about the community we have built, I look forward to sharing more information with you all soon – but a huge thanks to Fiona and Katie for such a lovely day and, if you haven’t already, please check their blogs out!

CraftBlogClub ladiesSundays in Sherwood tend to be pretty quiet, but with the lovely weather and the tale end of Sherwood Art Week, Little D and I decided to take a walk up to the community centre to check out the Remarkable Recycling Gala; a fab day featuring recycling workshops, lots of interesting info and some lovely craft stalls.  D was a little young for most of the workshops, but it was fantastic to see lots of local children getting involved with craft projects and learning new skills.

Sherwood WIFor me, the real magic of Sherwood Art Week lies in the installations that pop up along Mansfield Road – this year there were some amazing Yarnbombs and some wonderful installations celebrating local artists in the shop windows.  So, with that in mind, what kind of renegade craft-blogger would I be if I didn’t share some of these with you?!  Check out some of these lovely images from our stroll on Sunday – I can’t wait for Sherwood Art Week next year!

benchyarn bikebike close upcaterpillar

Stay Peachy x

The Frugal Kitchen: Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

IMG_20140617_180410It isn’t often, at the moment, that I’m getting a sweet craving; but when I do…I need it NOW!  I’ve taken to keeping a few bars of Lidl dark chocolate in the house, just in case the baking mood overtakes me! And on Monday…it sure overtook me!

I make no secret of the fact that I potentially view Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups as one of the greatest creations of the modern day.  I love those things, the familiar orange, garish packaging, the satisfying crunch that leads to a smooth hit of peanut butter.  If you’ve seen Fifty First Dates and you’re anything like me, then that scene when Adam Sandler is given a huge box stuffed to the brim with Reese’s is a bit like porn!

Anyway, with a taste for peanut butter and about half a jar left milling around in my cupboard, I decided to try my hand at a cookie homage to my favourite sweet.  I tried a basic peanut butter based recipe and dipped half the cookies in melted dark chocolate for an extra hit.  As usual, I rustled these up from bits hanging around in the kitchen cupboards – and the choice of Lidl chocolate is only 35p per slab, an absolute bargain!  Try them if you dare…

Ingredients (To Make Approximately 8 Large Cookies)

100g Golden Caster Sugar

100g Demerara Sugar

140g Plain Flour

120g Butter (softened)

1 Large Egg

1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda

1/2 tsp Salt

Approx 3 heaped tbsps Smooth Peanut Butter (crunchy is an option)!

100g Dark Chocolate

Method

Preheat the oven to 170 C /150 C for Fan Oven.  Grease a flat baking tray and line with greaseproof paper.IMG_20140617_180513

In a mixing bowl, cream together both sugars and the butter until light and a little fluffy.  Then add your egg and beat until combined.

Follow this by adding the dry ingredients to your mixture – the flour, bicarb and salt.  Mix with a spatula and ensure that the mixture is all incorporated.  Finally, dollop your peanut butter in and mix until combined.

Using a dessert spoon to roughly measure, separate your dough into 8 equal sized balls and place on your prepared baking tray.

Place the cookies in the oven for approximately 20 minutes – the cookies should be golden brown in colour but not hard.  Remove and leave to cool.

Meanwhile, over a pan of boling water, heat your dark chocolate in a bowl.  Once the cookies have cooled, dip one side of each cookie in the melted chocolate, place onto a cooling rack and allow to harden.

Go put the kettle on, relax and enjoy a cuppa with your new favourite frugal cookie!

IMG_20140617_180449Stay Peachy x

Living In a Material World And I WAS A Material Girl….

Jelly KittenI’m writing this post just as the week from hell is about to close.  Hell as in my kind of hell, no deaths, destruction (of sorts) or even power cuts.  This was the week the shit decided to fly at the fan.  We’ve had lost toys, replacement toys lost, courier mix-ups, new dining tables not delivered, paying through the nose for further deliveries, rude tweeple and learning how NOT to promote ANYTHING you EVER do on TWITTER.  If I had the world’s biggest hood, I would happily wrap myself up in it and hibernate until at least September.

Whilst I’m not expecting a call from the Red Cross ‘Peachy Aid – Dining Table Crisis Fund’ anytime soon, it has certainly been one of the first weeks in a very long time, that I have moped.  And boy, have I moped long and hard.  What started with a lost bunny rabbit in town, became a fiasco in which I felt physically cheated out of £7.50 by an anonymous playgroup bully.

I don’t often write about Little D on this blog.  But I will say this – for all of the 15 months she has been alive on this planet, she has been a total joy.  She is a happy, lovely little girl who shrugs her shoulders like my Great Grandmother did and waves at invisible people in my kitchen.  She’s well behaved, funny and going on about 12 already.  So, when one of her beloved Jelly Cat Bunnies finally took a tumble into the lost world of town, I wanted to treat her to a replacement.  The replacement, to my surprise, was an even smaller Jelly Cat kitten that she appeared to fall in love with whilst I was faffing about with a magenta bunny in the shop.  At £7.50, he was a bargain compared to his Jelly Cat posh friends, so we bought him, took him home and for three glorious days, he didn’t leave D’s side.

Thursday morning came and went with the usual chaos of singing group and the laughably named ‘Carnage’ ‘Chill Out’ playgroup session, that I barely recognised the absence of ‘Little Kitten’, until we were halfway out the door and D was halfway to Nod Land.  A few firm promises from the (it should be said ‘very helpful’) volunteers from playgroup later, I returned home with a snoring child and a seething attitude.

It wasn’t until later that I actually started thinking about what value I had placed on this little ball of synthetic fluff.  More to the point, who was I really upset for?  I mean, sure, Jelly Kitten filled a fluffy void for a bit, he wasn’t cheap, but the little girl he belonged to didn’t seem to have a care in the world.  I was being materialistic.Jelly Kitten Book  Perhaps Jelly Kitten hadn’t indeed fallen into the hands of a playgroup terror, or been prised from D’s unsuspecting baby-grasp by a big bully three times her size.  Perhaps he was found abandoned on the floor, discarded for lunch or something new to play with, by a lovely little girl who thought she could offer him a new and loving home.  Either way, we are talking about D, a baby whose favourite toy to cuddle up with, is a battered, old cuddly cow who can be seen photobombing pictures of MY birth in 1984.  Buying a replacement stuffed kitten didn’t make her any happier, or even more aware of the sad passing of Little Bun.  She awoke later that day, completely unphased by the whole thing, ready to face an afternoon of pretending to read old Ladybird books, trying to grab at remote controls and other things she generally isn’t allowed near and singing along with those dreadful Pajanimals; ‘I could learn a lot from this child,’ I thought, as she collapsed in a heap of laughter, whilst trying to talk through a toilet roll.

And I think I’m right.  The more that time passes on this Frugally Fabulous Year, the more I am really learning about what I place my value on and just how it affects me.  Long gone are the days of replacement clothing and shopping sprees to fill the void.  I needed to learn that if I was willing to risk £7.50 in the first place then I had to be willing to let it go.  Peachy, thought I, you are failing at this bloody task, steering clear of the High Street is one thing, teaching your daughter all manner of pinning value on a teeny stuff animal just because he was NEW, is NOT!

So, there was no replacement toy mark II (though I’m still hopeful of finding Jelly Kitten amongst all the other old, stained playgroup toy boxes next week).  Instead, I took D out to the back garden and watched her gleefully water her shoes the plants and pull out all subsequent plant labels.  And you know what?  That memory will absolutely last a lifetime, no £7.50 cost incurred!

Jelly Kitten GardenStay Peachy x