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Being Green (in the tub)

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A month or so ago, a friend of mine had to move suddenly from Prague, and left me with a nice bottle of bubble bath that she had used once.  We don’t use bubble bath around here, what with our uber-sensitive skin, but my penchant for procrastination meant that the bottle hung around for a week or two.  I couldn’t decide what to do with it, since it was nice stuff, but who can you give a bottle of partially used bubble bath to?  Except me, of course…

Then, I was cruising around a new to me blog, and swiped this idea for Monster Bubble Bath.  Actually, all I did was add neon green food colouring to the bubble bath and pour it into a new jar instead of making it from scratch, but hey, it will be perfect for my nephews.

Don't you love the color?

Don’t you love the color?

I love being able to repurpose stuff, and what little boy won’t enjoy bathing in monster green bubbles?

Not Ration Hobnobs

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Oh, hobnobs, how I used to love you, and then I was diagnosed, and GF hobnobs are not sold anywhere.  *Sigh*  Actually, it’s probably a good thing I’ve gone more than a decade without hobnobs, because they are so addictive.  That has come to an end though, because I recently tried out this recipe, and my oh my, are they good.  Daughter and I made them one afternoon when she was down with a cold, and they went perfectly with posset and tea.

Posset and home-made Hobnobs, the ideal cold remedy

Posset and home-made Hobnobs, the ideal cold remedy

I must admit that this is not a ration recipe.  225 grams of butter and sugar, each mind you, is a lot of butter and sugar.  To be fair, I did get some 35 hobnobs out of the recipe, so they will last us a while, I think, if we don’t go too crazy.  I do use a similar ration recipe, which I will post soon for comparison, but these hobnobs are noticeably sweeter and butterier than the ration ones (duh).

The only caveat I noticed with making these GF is that it is better to leave them in the oven ever so slightly longer, so that they are crisp all the way through.  Otherwise, they get a bit weak in the middle and fall apart.

Go on then, no need to despair about not finding GF ones, or not finding them at all if you live outside of the UK.  They do have oats in them, so that makes them somewhat healthy, right?

To deal with a cold…

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Our whole family has come down with the lurgies this week, but thankfully it isn’t too nasty of a cold.  When it comes to medications for symptoms, we have a firm “tough it out” approach, and we generally only use ibuprofen.  I have a stash of pseudoephedrine (the real stuff), which we use in dire situations such as plane trips and maybe at night, and a children’s nighttime concoction with a decongestant and cough suppressant for Daughter to help her sleep.  (U.S. expats take note!  These drugs are not sold in Europe, so we stock up when we can and dispense sparingly.)  Mostly though, we rely on rest and hot liquids, which actually works like a charm.

I have to say, though, our favorite lurgy treatment is a posset.  I came across this a couple of times in books before I found a recipe, and I must say, I was intrigued.  Once we tried it, we were hooked, and now it is a serious comfort drink for us.

Posset and home-made Hobnobs, the ideal cold remedy

Posset and home-made Hobnobs, the ideal cold remedy

It’s not very ration-friendly, given the amount of eggs, sugar, and milk (and the lemon), and I can imagine it was one of those things that people sorely missed during WWII.  My recipes comes from Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer, quite possibly one of my most-used cookbooks (baking book?)

For two to four servings, you will need

600 mls or 2 1/2 cups of milk, full fat is best

the zest of half a lemon

some grated nutmeg to taste

two to three spoons of sugar, to taste

one egg

To make the posset, heat the milk with the zest, nutmeg and sugar until almost boiling.  Then pull the mixture off the heat and let cool for a minute.  Beat the egg in a separate container, then slowly pour the beaten egg into the hot milk while whisking furiously.  The milk cooks the egg, making the posset nice and thick, but if you don’t beat furiously or pour in too much at once, it makes scrambled egg bits.  If this happens, just strain them out and follow the procedure with a new egg.

Pour into mugs or cups and serve to the suffering soul who needs it.  (Posset is apparently also a hangover remedy.)  For those with a cold, it goes quite well with freshly baked cookies and a movie…

Frugal Silver Polish

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I’ve had some family heirloom baby cutlery languishing in my flatware drawer for longer that Daughter has been around, and I unfortunately never used it for her because it was so tarnished.  I’ve been decluttering a lot in the last year or so, and I finally decided to either keep that family heirloom stuff for use with visiting little ones and get rid of the natty plastic stuff or keep the natty plastic stuff and get rid of the silver.  This resolution coincided with me coming across this blog post, where Jen of My Make Do and Mend Year talks about polishing silver with a banana peel and some baking soda.  Needless to say, I felt compelled to try this before going out and buying silver polish (which, frankly, stinks and brings back some unpleasant childhood memories).


Before I polished the baby spoons, with decades of tarnish on them

Jen’s directions involve blending a banana peel with baking soda and water to make a paste, but I’m lazy efficient by nature and cheated by just dumping baking soda on the mushy inside of the peel and massaging the peel together until I got a paste.  Then I used the banana peel to rub the paste onto the spoons, mostly so that I would not have to clean a rag, and added more baking soda.  I’ll be darned if it didn’t work like a charm!  Afterwards, I just dumped the banana peels into the compost bucket and washed the cutlery normally.

After I polished them with banana peel and baking soda

After I polished them with banana peel and baking soda

Voila!  I’m still a little stunned, because not everything works out that comes off the internet, but it certainly worked well enough that I’ll never buy silver polish again.  Bananas, people, who knew?

Counting blessings

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This week seemed to be full of little austerity pleasures, and I just wanted to share a few…

We were out of jam, so I rummaged around in the freezer and found some rhubarb leftover from a visit to an aunt last year.  I made enough jam to last us through the next month, and even though I’d never made rhubarb jam before, Husband and Daughter are quite pleased…  (I’m not really an accomplished jam maker anyway, but winging it worked out well in this case.)

Daughter has a birthday party this weekend, and somehow I managed to knit a lacy scarf as a gift with bamboo yarn I had in my stash.  Daughter made a card, and now we’re set for a gift, without ever having left the house…

Daughter also decided, of her own accord, to make lavender water for the birthday gift.  I added a slug of vodka to keep the solution from going off (you can’t smell it after a few hours), and then we labeled it and added it to the gift…


A gift from the heart - a handmade card, homemade lavender water, and a knitted scarf

A gift from the heart – a handmade card, homemade lavender water, and a knitted scarf

I threw together this honey lavender cake with lemon-basil frosting with what I had laying about the house, with just a few hours warning.  The cake is divine, and I’m even more impressed that I didn’t even have to go to the store…

Daughter starts a reading club soon, and the book isn’t available on Kindle or at any of the libraries here.  I was gnashing my teeth about spending a ton of money for a book in English, but then I checked my list of books that Daughter has already read.  It turns out that I bought the book for her at a charity shop on a trip to London, and she read it so quickly that we left it there for my nephews.  She remembers the book well enough, so the problem was solved, without even leaving the house…

I’ve been trying to buy new cookie sheets, but had been having a really hard time getting the size that would fit in our oven.  On the third trip to the store, I managed to return the second set of cookie sheets and get ones that were the correct size (I was clever enough this time to bring one of my old ones with me).  It turns out that the store was having a big sale, and I ended up saving quite a lot, though it took me three trips to the store…

Over the summer, I found two new (to us) libraries with loads of English books for Daughter to read.  They know us well enough now that they let us take out twice the number of books if we need to, which we did for our trip to Croatia last week.  As I returned twenty books to various libraries, I was reminded of how little we pay for the privilege of reading all of those books.

Lastly, I managed to salvage a pair of Husband’s beige trousers by dying them black.  They came out more of a very dark grey, but Husband is happy,