What shall I do with…? part 1

Tomato overload…

Some of you already know that I live in a little medieval market town, not far from the market itself. For many years, I’ve done the bulk of my food shopping there, which has saved us a fortune & provided us with plentiful good, fresh & seasonal food, with more variety than is available in most supermarkets. In some cases I was handing our money over to my children’s classmates’ parents, thus keeping our own local economy thriving.

Sadly the market has dwindled down to a shadow of its former self, and is due to close shortly, to make way for an exclusive “retirement village” or Granny Ghetto, as some have dubbed it. The fact that many of our own local elderly residents won’t be able to afford the “retirement lifestyle” and won’t be able to get to the relocated market, a mile out of town, evidently hasn’t tugged any heartstrings at planning permission level. So I’ll use these last few weeks of The Market to document some of the amazing bargains I pick up, and how I use them.

Today’s bargain was 18 x 350g punnets of Spanish cherry tomatoes for £3, i.e. 6.3kg, just tipping slightly into over-ripe territory. That’s quite a few… so far I’ve used 6 punnets in a big pot of tomato & coriander soup, along with two of the 8 courgettes picked at the allotment yesterday and one of our home-grown onions that had got a little bruised on harvesting. One more punnet has gone into a chilli this evening, leaving me with 11 to go. I was musing about whether to dehydrate some – still a possibility – but my Other Half’s face lit up at the mention of Tomato & Chilli relish. So that will be tomorrow’s major project, after producing our traditional Sunday roast dinner.

In other news, as son no. 3 always says, I have finally made the new curtains for our kitchen revamp. I’ve only had the fabric, a William Morris misprint, a mere – 3 years? – since we chose it! And there was some left over, enough to do 4 seat-pads for our eclectic mix of vintage kitchen chairs, using some foam that came up on our local Freegle group. Sadly there are actually 8 chairs, so now I have a dilemma – do I buy some more, or let the project rest now I’ve used up what I had, & get on with the rest of the kitchen?

An unusual use of a seat pad…

Startled but rather pleased…

A few weeks back I picked up a big, heavy bag of what I assumed were vintage curtains as part of a job-lot that I paid £10 for. I have since revamped & sold on the main item from the job lot at a profit; not a magnificent one when you consider the time & expertise that I put into it, but still worthwhile. So anything else I can either sell on, or use myself, from that job lot, is pure gain.

I’d bunged the bag of fabric into the porch whilst I finished updating DS3’s bedroom. Vintage curtains do sell on my stall, albeit not for very much; ’tis all grist to the mill, though, as my mother would say. I used to take the header tapes off them & sell them on as lengths of fabric, but so many people told me that they were going to make it into curtains (again) that I decided it was easier just to leave them be & let the buyers cut them up if they want to. Anyway, yesterday I hauled the bag out to investigate further…

You could have knocked me down with a feather; it contained two large pairs of very-acceptable cream & terracotta cabbage-rose Laura Ashley linen/cotton curtains, complete with tie-backs & pelmets. They show no signs of ever having been used as the fabric is still crisp & there are no fingermarks, dust or fading; there are a few plastic track hooks, but I suspect that they’re far too heavy to hang from a plastic track in daily use; the big pair are well over 3m wide each at the hems & both pairs are 230cm long. So possibly they came from a show-house & weren’t liked, or someone tried to hang them from a track that wasn’t strong enough & they were swiftly replaced by something lighter? It’s not a current pattern, but the closest I could find on their website (Baroque Raspberry) in the larger size, lined, with tie-backs, would cost £990 a pair!

It just so happened that I had recently bought fabric to make new living room curtains; I made some about 8 years ago & decided I hated the pattern about 7½ years ago, so it was high time to replace them. But I wasn’t totally sure about the new fabric, although I’d paid £9.90 a metre for it; the night before last I actually dreamt I had made it (with some other scraps) into some curtains & blinds for the kitchen, which completely changed the look & feel of the kitchen in a positive way, making it feel much less of a left-behind 80s “farmhouse” style & more of a deliberately-retro country kitchen. So that fabric isn’t going to go to waste, because the Laura Ashley curtains are perfect for the living room windows & the conservatory doors; it would be very hard to find anything to suit the space better. I have a feeling there’s enough there to do the front door, as well, if I halve the big ones widthways; they’d cover both gaps more than comfortably. As our ceilings are quite low for an old house, the pelmets would be de trop so they’ll be deconstructed & turned into cushion covers, which will take a bit of jiggery-pokery or possibly patchworking skills. The only money I’m going to have to spend is on acquiring some new curtain rings, which isn’t going to break the bank. Needless to say, I will check that my favourite suppliers down at the Tip don’t have any first!

So although I’m trying to be very strict with myself about bringing unnecessary items into the house, sometimes, just sometimes, my magpie instincts do work in our favour.

Edited to add: needless to say my favourite suppliers did indeed have exactly what I needed, and one of the big curtains has now been split into two, shortened slightly and is gracing the conservatory doors. Pic duly added; door & frame yet to be painted. Total expenditure now £3, £1 for two curtain poles complete with rings & £2 for some metal hooks on the market this morning.