Wednesday, 30 June 2010


Seeing how my garden is growing so well, my first lot of carrots are ready, I have peas and tomatoes growing well, the foliage from my potato plants is going well. With this first sniff of gardening success I a now wanting to grow more vegetables for when these ones are all gone.
To find information I have been trawling through the internet searching for things to plant which can (hopefullly!) feed us through the winter months.

so far I have come up with
spring cabbages which will be ready for harvest in around March.
If I plant cauliflowers now, they should be ready to harvest in Sept/October time.

So I continued looking for things to plant to feed us through November, December, January and February. Swede will apparently feed us up until January, so we will need to hibernate throughout the winter unless I can find some more which didn't need to be planted like hmm 3 months ago!

Maybe I should start planning for next year, whilst I am still sorting out this year- who knew gardening was so organised??!

Saturday, 26 June 2010

relaxing day

Today has been an absolutely gorgeuos hot sunny day, after popping to the dump, taking Dylan swimming and stocking up on food for the next couple of weeks I sat in the garden to sew hexagons. Am very impressed with the progress I have made look;

Ok so it just looks like a strip at the moment, but I feel like I am finally making progress, patience is not a strong point for me, I want i t done now. I also have an idea for a picnic blanket made out of red and blue fabrics I want to get on with, but not until I have finished this.

Dylan and I went for an impromptu walk after dinner and collected lots of elderflowers, We now have more elderfower cordial brewing (what do you mean you don't brew elderflower cordial? well what do you call it then?). Dylan has plans for us to go and pick more flowers during the week so that we can make loads more, its his new favourite drink;

We also found a couple of damson trees looking very laden with fruit, lots of foraging to come this year as I have now found apple trees, pear trees, damson trees and I already knew where to find hundreds and hundreds of blackberries.
Tomorrow we are doing a bootfair with lots of old things we no longer use, all proceeds to go towards our summer holiday, only 5 and a half weeks to go.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

soapnuts, sewing and garden happiness

remember the other week when I said I ordered a sample of soapnuts? I used them and still feel undecided. I love the feeling knowing I m using something eco, but I am not a fan of their smell. The smell does fade after being on the washing line, but what about in the winter when everything is dried indoors?
I decided that a smell should not put me off doing something so good. With this in mind I ordered 500g of them to make a more informed decision. I have found that if I add a small amount of white vinegar to the wash the smell isn't as noticable.
So today I ran out of washing up liquid, was about to go to the shop to buy some more when I saw that you can make a cleaning liquid from the nuts which can be used for just about everything; washing up, cleaning the house, washing, screen wash for the car- I am amazed how versatile it is and decided to make some.  I washed up with it after dinner and the plates were clean, the real test will be after roasts or something similarly hard to wash up after.

I also managed to finish the dining chair cushions;

 Well they are finished if you overlook the lack of zip, to fasten them! That will have to wait til next when when I have had time to go and buy them.
 I am pleased with the results of them, not exactly as I had imagined, but I like them a lot.
I am also liking how full of food my garden is;

This is our main vegetable patch, full off carrots, onions and salad mainly. The raspberried are starting to form as well. further up the garden the peas are starting to grow pods, and the first tomato is starting to grow, am so proud of my veggie babies.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

We're jamming

I love the way in this pic Stephanie was watching her feet, she loved looking at her foot prints in the sand

We had a lovely trip to the beach today. It was a bit windy and chilly, rained a little here and there but we refused to budge! We stayed until we had made our castle, then before we left Stephanie and Dylan demolished it themselves as they couldn't bear the thought of someone else doing it!

Then we got home and made some jam. W now have 5 jars of our very own jam to eat, and none of them  have lemon in- so Stephanie can enjoy it too

I have been looking through some preserving books I got from the library last week and I am very excited at the thought of filing up lots and lots of jars full of yummy sounding goodies.

on my list I want to try are;

green apple chutney

piccalilli ( I love piccalilli and really love the idea of making my own.)


lemon curd (YUMMY!)

dried apricot jam

apple and mint jelly

spiced mushrooms in vodka

blackberry jam

hedgerow jelly

roasted red pepper and chilli jelly

ok I will stop there before my enthusiasm carries me away! If I am to manage all of those from the list I will need to source some more jars, I have saved every jar my food has come in for the past year with the aim of making my own jams etc, but given that most of our food is made from scratch that doesnot amount to enough jars to complete that list, let alone the extended list if I hadn't shut the book.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

a lovely family day

Today we went PYO strawberrying, its was great, we have gone every year for the past couple of years since my lovely dad introduced us to the joys of picking our own. We picked 3kg of strawberries in about 15 minutes, there were seriously LOADS there. Am guessing the fact that it was very overcast had put off most other pickers. It absolutely heaved down when we were a couple of minutes away from the farm, but it didn't deter us. Tomorrow we will be making jam etc with the strawberries.

we went to this farm it was lovely, we are very excited that they do pick your own apples and pears later in the year. WE will definately be going back, they also have a lovely little farm shop selling veg's etc from the farm.

We sat down to watch our lovefilm dvd, and discovered that the TV is broken, not good news. I can't afford a new one right now. Dylan has very kidly allowed us to put his tv in the living room so that we could watch the film. I wonder if he realises it could be for a few weeks?

I made my own popcorn for us to eat while we watched the film, I have never done it before. Stephanie and Dylan polished the lot off before I got a chance to sit down

Still nevermind, next time I will just have to make more!!!

Friday, 18 June 2010

a little catch up

Quite a lot has happened here since I last blogged, and non eof it to do with our wannabe self-sufficient tendancies!
When we got home form school on Tuesday the children's suprise had arrived- it was their long awaited trampoline! It took me a long time to build it- boy was it hard work, but was determined to do it myself. It had been up 5 minutes and Stephanie fell on it hurting her leg. It was still causing her a lot of pain the next morning so we went to the hospital where she was x-rayed just to make sure there was no breaks etc. Luckily none but it meant our week was all messed up as she was having trouble walking so didn't go to nursery and I lost the one day I have to myself for the next few weeks. Nevermind at least she is ok.

We have done lots of crafts together as a family this week.
We also made some cakes, it was Dylans school years turn to make the cakes for the cake school, so we made a few extra for at home as well, the cake stall is on a Friday and as it was Englands second match today we decorated them in the spirit of the game;

We also bought some face paints, Stephanie painted my face for the match- doesn't it look great, a rather interesting interpretation of the flag! I did sneak upstairs in half time and cut out the other 3 covers for the dining chair seat cushions, need to find time over the weekend to sew them together, embroider them and buy the zips to finish them!
I have found time this week to browse a couple of other blogs, I have found one which I like and the owner seems to share my love of lists, perhaps even likes lists more than me, look at the List its amazing, I so want to make one of those. Not sure that I have that many items to place on my list, but I do have a fair few. Maybe I will attempt a list another day.

For those of you have followed me since the beginning and remember me saying one of my aims is to pay off some of my debts, well I have managed one! Ok so it is probably the smallest but its a start- my uni library fines are cleared, now need to sort out saving for a slightly larger one! I want at least one more paid off before my birthday.....

Monday, 14 June 2010

1 down 3 to go!

I have been sewing today; I made one of the dining chair seat cushions today. I'm very pleased with how it looks, just need to make the other 3 now!

Ok so its not completely finished as I haven't bought the zips to put them in yet.

The elderflower cordial is bottled and tastes wonderful, well Dylan and I like it a lot Stephanie does not like it at all. She wants to go and get strawberries and make a strawberry cordial. We are planning a pick your own trip in the next week to get lots of yummy berries.

Have just ordered some yummy looking food from our local farm delivery website food for kent I have been prdering my vegetables from here for a while now, and we had some lovely sausages from there the other week so have ordered some more as well as some other meats. I love that I know where my food is coming from and that I can ask questions about what is involved in the making of produce such as the butter. Short of buying my own farm it doesn't come much better than this!

Sunday, 13 June 2010

time to start thinking about christmas

I have been reading my new favourite book again and have a head buzzing with ideas.

So far I want to;
1. plant lots of herbs
2. get a small holding complete with chickens/geese/cows
3. grow apple trees
4. plant some pretty flowers
5. Grow a christmas tree in a pot

Number 5 for me is the most exciting right now, I love christmas it is my favourite time of the year. I have always wanted to have real christmas tree, but have refused on the basis of it being a waste to cut a tree down for a few weeks of use before it is discarded. Growing one in a pot is an exciting compromise. I need to look into this more, but it seems perfectly feasable so far.

I also plan on starting to think about christmas presents for this year. I would like to give gifts people will appreciate this year. I don't buy for adults, with the exception of grandparents as the cost is just too huge. So for the children I want to find some gift which will be appreciated, am thinking of bowling/cinema tickets for my older neices and nephews this year. For the younger 2 I am not entirely sure yet perhaps something home made I need to think a lot more about this, luckily I have time yet.

Friday, 11 June 2010

My new challenge

I have decided on a new goal I want ot reduce the amount of waste we produce as a family. Since moving to the house and having the compost bin I have found that we have almost halved our waste. I would like to reduce this further. Currently when I put my rubbish out for weekly collection we have 1 full black bag going to landfill, my aim is to reduce this further. I have discovered one main way I can do this as most of our waste is the plastic packaging that food comes from the supermarket in, you know those clear plastic pots that your pork chops are laid out in.
The main way I can do this is by not buying these products in the supermarket. I am planning on either going to the butcher or ordering meat direct from the farm with my veg box (which I am ticked off I forgot to order this week, hence the trip to the supermarket).

Have been doing a lot of thinking today, some products I buy in the supermarket because thats what I have always done. I don't think I can realistically stretch my budget to buying erveything from the farmers, so some things will still have to be purchased in the supermarket. I try to drive as little as possible especially now I need to drive the children to shool/ nursery everyday as the distance would be impossible for us to walk and still be on time, or not need to wake up at stupid o'clock! So I try to combine trips like going to the supermarket when I dro the children up, therefore reducing the amount of miles I would drive if I made seperate trips out.
I have a supermarket I prefer to use, but it is not near to the school so today I went to the one nearest the school. I found though that a lot of the produce that I know I can get british of, were not available from the UK in this supermarket. So I have ended up buying products with huge food miles.
Clearly this doesn't make sense, I drove 5(?) miles less to buy food that has flown hundreds of miles more. So lesson learnt when I do have to frequent the supermarket I will go to my preferred one and have food without the massive airmiles.

I guess then that there are 2 new efforts for me to make from that long rambling post
1. to buy less at the supermarkets thereby reducing waste
2. To reduce the airmiles my food has flown to get to the supermarket when I do have to go there.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

First foraging of the year.........

these are some unidentified plants.

One I did identify was the elderfowers; so we made some elderflower cordial, after LOTS of googling I found that I can use ascorbic acid, rather than citric acid. Then I left out the lemons and am hoping for the best, by leaving all the citrus ingredients out then Stephanie can have a try, just hoping that the taste is not desperately impaired by the lack of citrus fruits.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

not much talking but lots of reading!

I have been absent from blog land for a few days, due to busy real life! I have done lots of reading about more eco changes we can make as a family. I have been reading about using herbal infusions to help medically with coughs/colds etc; as a result I am planning to grow some herbs. I have tried in the past but they were not successful- this could have been due to trying to grow them in my flats kitchen, the kitchen there never had a window. My kitchen in the house has a nice size windowsill, which will be good to grow some herbs on according to my new book.
Talking of plants my garden is looking good, my strawberries have small green strawberries on am feeling rather excited about the fruits to come.

Another interesting idea I have been reading about is that of not using the soaps and cleaners which I usually use that contain all sorts of harmful chemicals. I have been replacing my existing products with eco versions as necessary; which are much better for the environment. I have also discovered soapnuts.
also found more websites which say that you can use them for more than cleaning your clothes, you can use them to make a liquid to clean the home, as well as your body and hair. Sounds pretty amazing things, can't wait to get my free sample and try them out.

I have made another pretty little dress with the plan to selling it, I still haven't decided the best place to sell it yet. So will store it and hopefully make some more produce by the time I have decided.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

I'm loving-

I received my new book today- I love it! It is simple to read, clearly laid out andhas some fantastic ideas in it. It contains information on different plants you can grow, no matte rthe space you have, It has some lovely looking recipes in- I am especially excited by the basic cordial recipe as it does not need to have citric acid in, which is in supermarket squashes and cordials and Stephanie happens to allergic to. I plan on trying out the recipe very soon to make a squash which she can have. There are also sections telling you enviromentally friendly cleaning products you require. I am only a quarter of a way through the book and very excited by it.

After spending a lovely afternoon catching up with a friend and letting our children play in her garden, I came home to sit in our garden and read my book. Things the book have me wanting to try since I picked it up
  1. making cordial
  2. another attempt at baking bread
  3. growing herbs
  4. growing fruit trees in pots
  5. cleaning with less chemicals

Pardon? you want to know where to buy this amazing book and what its title is? Wall seeing as you asked it is called "A slice of organic life"


A small update on the quilt, I have decided to sew my hexagons into flower shapes, which joins 7 hexagons at a time, then eventually I will join the flowers to make the quilt, or thats what I am hoping will happen. So far I have 7 of these little flowers made. So a way to go yet, but its definately progressing.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010


Look I put this up this afternoon- am very impressed, I decided to give the DIY another try after the success of the spice shelves I put up in the kitchen. I am very pleased that its up, straight and full! It was rather heavy to hold and mark where the holes needed to be drilled at the same time.

I have also done a littel more sewing on the dress I started the other day, and have sewn more hexagons together for my charm quilt. I know have 6 flower shapes sewn together, I am aiming to have about 9 flowers in a row for my quilt so it is nice to see progress coming together.

Tomorrow Dylan is off out for the day with his friend, Stephanie and I are planning on going to play at a local indoor play centre, I would also like to get the zip I need for the dress and have that finished and a little more work on the charm quilt.

For now I am off to complete another unfinished project- reading my current library book!

Good night all