Tag Archives: charity

The animal knitathon

The animals are having a knitathon and showing off what they have made:
The cups for their coffee are on the rug that Hedgehog made; Pussy is still sewing her gloves up; Beagle is sporting his blue hat, and showing off his bells for the tree; Eeyore being always depressed is slow to knit and thus has only knitted 4 tree bells; Teddy has a hat and a bag; Dino kntted a very special small bag; Panda is wearing his jumper and Rabbit made some gloves too. unfortunately Snail failed to make anything claiming that his hands were too small to hold knitting needles and thus is looking very shameful under Pussy’s gloves.
The Animal Knitathon

I’m holding my own knitathon in Willesden Green on Nov 1st and would welcome anyone from the UK and London to come along and see and buy what the animals – and I – have made! If you can’t come, please consider making a donation at:https://bigissue.believe.in/fundraising/im-running-a-knitathon-to-support-big-issue-vendors-over-the-harsh-winter-season/. We are trying to raise money through the Big Issue newspaper to provide some winter shelters for the homeless.

Faith and Charity: Recipes for frugality

On the day on which a special edition of a newspaper reminded us of the need to write charity into our wills and told us what tasks are done with our money and how it can help those in need, I was reminded of this scrap of paper I cut out of a newspaper some time ago from something called: Sacred Space

As quoted in the newspaper:

Charity – to be moved at the sight of the thirsty, the hungry and the miserable and to offer relief to them out of pity  – is the spring of virtue:

Kundakunda, Pancastikaya 137

Let him without tiring, always offer sacrifices and perform works of charity with faith, for offerings and charitable works made with faith and with lawfully earned money, procure endless rewards.

Guru Nanak

They feed with food the needy, the orphan and the prisoner, for love of Him saying: “We wish for no reward nor thanks from you”

Quran 76 8-9

Charity is a virtue of the heart and not of the hands.

Joseph Addison

But I shall add some more quotes that resonate:

The life of a man consists not in seeing visions and in dreaming dreams, but in active charity and in willing service.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

The charity that is a trifle to us can be precious to others.


Charity is willingly given from the heart.

Rush Limbaugh

The only genuine elite is the elite of those men and women who gave their lives to justice and charity.

Sargent Shriver

At the weekend I went to a local park festival and was saddened to see a FoodBank stall there. In the midst of all our talk of tea and cakes and the abundance of food we see as we walk down any local High Street here in London, there are people who need immediate help to feed themselves for that day. I gave them cash of course, but more importantly, I have their shopping list and every time I shop in the supermarket I shall buy for the food bank too. I read that food banks are making a real come back – there are more and more of them in the UK towns and you wonder how that can be in a society which has – apparently – a fall-back position for everyone of sufficient money through the social services and income support etc for food and shelter. I am not sure that Jamie Oliver has it entirely wrong when he says that many people don’t know how to cook good quality, low cost food, but then, can they afford his cookbook? And to supply their kitchens with the ingredients? Many live a long way away from fresh food supplies at a cheap price and can only buy that which is sold to them and if that is at an inflated price so be it.

I only know my own experience when I was learning to cook and how some frugal Northern women taught me to cook frugally and also I used the cookbook about Frugal Food which was very popular at one time. We used eat (I wasn’t vegetarian then) rabbit and stuffed hearts or stuffed neck of lamb, and so on – food which is not so often seen these days, but then was very cheap and needed a long slow cook but was very tasty indeed. I also took advantage of the end of the day at markets and came home with crates of vegetables and fruit that the stall holders wanted rid of..just like last week when I got 5 kilos of on the vine tomatoes for less than £2…wonderful sauce it made too…

 So here are some frugal recipes that I’ve used in the past. One thing I’ve always found is that, on the whole, a vegetarian meal is cheaper than a meat meal and provides good tasty wholesome food. I could provide more but time is passing and I have to go out…

From BBC Vegetarian Magazine:

Mushroom and Barley Casserole.

Serves 4.

1 tbsp oil

225g baby onions

675g mixed mushrooms (ensure there are plenty of chestnut for they hold their texture well) some tinned or dried can be used, if using dried then use the water from them to add to the stock

2 chopped garlic cloves

100g pearl barley

2 tbsp soy sauce

3 tbsp dry sherry (optional) use red wine vinegar , balsamic etc instead

300ml veg stock – you may need more

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

  • Heat oil and saute onions until soft and brown.
  • add mushrooms and garlic and cook on high heat until mushrooms begin to soften and release juice – around 4 mins.
  • stir barley, soy sauce, sherry, stock and season.
  • simmer 30-40 mins until most of the liquid removed and barley soft.
  • add parsley
  • serve with mashed pots or good fresh bread.

Curried Potato and Spinach layer

serves 4

oven 190/375/mark 5

(magazine unknown)

900g potatoes, thinly sliced

200g quark

2 tsp curry paste (you choose heat)

2 tbsp milk

125g fresh spinach


  • cook potatoes in boiling water for 3 mins
  • mix curry paste, quark and milk together
  • layer potatoes and spinach in dish with quark on each layer
  • finish with potato layer
  • cover
  • cook 40 mins
  • uncover
  • cook 15 mins until top crispy

Cold and Yet More Cold and Japanese Magazines

Well the weather isn’t getting any better. Yet more snow this week and the temperatures barely above freezing but with an icy wind. And they say it may not get much better for a month!

This was rather disappointing to our visitor last weekend as he had come to see an English Garden and to report on it for his magazine – Mr Partner  (http://www.mrpartner.co.jp) – a lifestyle magazine which features English life quite often. They had decided that for the May issue they would feature English gardens.. ho ho. We had so little so show them. However we did our best and made a quick visit to find what was in flower at the store and plant up some new pretty blue pots on the patio and some lovely red flowers too.

So along came one of the Editors – lovely man who had some grasp of English and a very handy tape recorder who spent 2 hours with us! He photographed outside and inside – he was interested to see I had begonia corms on a windowsill warming through and beginning to sprout. He said that would not happen in Japan as they do not have windowsills … or at least ones wide enough. He also said that even where Japanese people had gardens, even if small, they used them mainly for storage and did not grow anything.

I had to prepare an English tea and cakes for him, as we provide that for our visitors. So out came the best glass cake stands and I made a lovely beetroot and pineapple cake with a cream filing and topping taken from a Delia Smith idea (the topping not the cake recipe).

He took photos of me pretending to plant something outside in my padded coat and then of both my husband and myself indoors. He asked and photographed the water system we have as that was one thing that had attracted his attention on our website (http://www.ngs.org.uk/gardens/gardenfinder/garden.aspx?search=type:advanced-pc:NW2+4DX-d:1-dr:6&id=22805). We have harvested as much of our rainwater as we possibly can both front and back. And at the back it is piped into a huge tank hidden under a bed of miniature and low growing plants. It is then piped down the garden to 2 taps for easy watering at the back of the garden. We were the only London garden he was visiting so can’t wait for the mag to come out to see what he has put in.

We do say on our website that we are to visitors  by appointment from March but this year of course so little was actually in flower. Many of our daffs are still thinking… usually of course the spring meadow has come right up and is beginning to fill out with flowers for the bees from symphitum and so on, but there is almost no sign of them so far… (We open for charity and only charge a small fee to cover costs for tea and cake and give our receipts to charity)

Still he seemed interested in what I had to say and went away with lots and lots of digital photos of the garden as we built it and how it has transformed since our first plant Dec 2007 – so we are now coming into our 5th summer. And we now have over 40 clematis! We went and got 3 new ones this afternoon from someone who has moved and there are several from my birthday present too waiting for planting including one for a hanging basket – new way of breeding them. I’m so looking forward to planting them and seeing them grow!

This is 20111

This is 20111

an overview DSCN1339 DSCN1317 DSCN1331 DSCN1286 DSCN1297

The garden 2012

The garden 2012

Overgrown and ivy everywhere

Overgrown and ivy everywhere

The original state of the back garden

The original state of the back garden

IMGP0283 tree58a4

The garden we started with in 2007

The garden we started with in 2007 halfway through its tranformation