Tuesday, 28 February 2012

more clearance bargains

I get a real buzz out o saving money, I always head straight to the clearance aisles whether I am food, cloth or home shopping. So imagine my delight when I stumbled across wheelie bin stickers for 5p a pack. I bought 4 packs; daffodils, lilies, tulips and butterflies. I didn't buy them to pretty up my wheelie bin thought my intentions were for my house. I am so pleased with the results;

This used to be a nice but plain mirror in my downstairs hallway. I love it's new look it has my favourite flowers and butterflies on it. I have to look at it every time I pass now.

I have also put some on my front door but it is dark outside so I'm not going to attempt to take a photograph now. Stephanie used some to decorate her bedroom door too. I'll try and get a picture of how she used them another day- she is supposed to be asleep now so don't want to go and disturb her with the camera flash

Sunday, 26 February 2012


For a weekend off I haven't stopped! Today was much more interesting but physically  more work. I spent the afternoon at the allotment, Dylan sifted compost off the heap,

I dug over part of the bed where I am planning to put the peas this year

This muddy patch was thick grass when I arrived, I have a lot more to dig out but I am happy with this start. Whilst digging the grass out I had to keep digging these out;

they had been used by the previous tenants as borders but I don't want it laid out that way. They aren't going to waste as the gentleman with the plot next to mine has asked if he can have them. I pulled somewhere between 30 and 40 out today I'm not sure how many he wants but I am pleased that at least some of them will be re-homed.

 whilst Stephanie harvested rather a lot of veg given the little we planted and the time of year.

She harvested 1540g in total broken down as;
  • 290g red cabbage
  • 86g bay leaves
  • 380g Curly kale
  • 70g Rosemary
  • 714g savoy cabbage
There is slightly more curly Kale than planned as whilst there I was chatting to a couple with a neighbouring plot who told me my tall lanky kale plants will fill out if I cut the tops off. So I have done that- I hope it works as the kale has kept going all through the winter I had 5 plants that survived and they have provided for us for the past few months.

When we got back we planted seeds together using the compost we brought back with us;
  • peas
  • aubergine
  • leek
  • pepper- 2 varieties
  • tomato
  • parsnip
  • cauliflower
  • broccoli
  • green beans
  • sweetpea
  • lobelia
  • begonia
I hope some of them work. I am planning on sorting the home compost bin this week and then I can plant more seeds, successional planting is what I am aiming for this year.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Independence days challenge #2

OK so this week has gone flying past! I'm not sure that I have done much towards the challenge- shall I blame this on going back to work?

Plant something: I have put my main crop potatoes to chit, this is the closest I have come to planting this week.

Harvest something: Nothing harvested this week.

Preserve something: Linked to above- no harvest so not preserving.

Waste not: Food has gone to compost so no food wasted. I am feeling smug as we only have only had 1 small carrier bag of waste to go out to the main rubbish collection each week recently. I know no waste at all would be better, but that is something to work towards.

Want Not: When I used a jarred curry sauce in the week I have saved the jar ready for preserving/ storing food.

Eat the Food: Still working our way through the jam I made.

Build community food systems: I haven't given away any food- mostly as I have not harvested.

And a new one: Skill up: This week Dylan taught me how to change the inner tubes on my bike. I am feeling very proud of myself as he showed me the front one, and I managed the back one all by myself. I am planning on getting better at using my bike and being less reliant on the car.

I got the idea for the Independence days challenge from Angela over at The high desert chronicles  The Independence day challenge originally came from the Chatelaine's Keys

If you are inspired to join in leave a comment below linking to your blog.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Half term fun

We have had a busy week, to make up for last weekends laziness. We have been swimming twice, to the cinema and to London twice. Here are some pictures;
We watched the changing of the guards at Buckingham palace

Had a trip on the London Eye

We looked at countless building, I am really struck by the intricate carvings on the buildings. I want to try and include something into my decorating I have planned. Not sure what or how yet.

And in slightly less exciting news- spring appears to be on it's way. I dried 1 load of washing on the line the other day.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

The Independence days challenge

I have been following the Angela over at The high desert chronicles for a while. I am in very interested and somewhat jealous of her homesteading. Anyway I have been inspired to join in the Friday independence day challenge. Rather than retype in my own words I have taken this from Angela's blog- she says it all way better than I could. The Independence day challenge originally came from the Chatelaine's Keys

Independence Challenge is all about:

“The whole idea is to get the positive sense of your accomplishments – it is easy to think we haven’t done anything to move forward, but in fact, we all do, almost every day. We just think of accomplishment as a big thing – a whole day spent putting up applesauce or a hundred tomato plants. The Independence Day project makes us count our little accomplishments and see that we are moving forward. So for each week, tell us what you have done in the following categories:

Plant something: A lot of us were trained to think of planting as done once a year, but if you start seeds, do season extension and succession plant, you’ll get much, much more out of your garden, so I try and plant something every day from February into September.

Harvest something: Everything counts – from the milk and eggs you get from your animals to the first dandelions from your yard to 50 bushels of tomatoes – it all counts.

Preserve something: Again, I find preserving is most productive if I try and do a little every day that there is anything, from the first dried raspberry leaves and jarred rhubarb to the last squashes at the end of the season.

Waste not: Reducing food waste, composting everything or feeding it to animals, reducing your use of disposables and creation of garbage, reusing things that would otherwise go to waste, making sure your preserved and stored foods are kept in good shape – all of these count.

Want Not: Adding to your food storage or stash of goods for emergencies, building up resources that will be useful in the long term.

Eat the Food: Making full and good use of what you have, making sure that you are getting everything you can from your food, trying new recipes and new cooking ideas, eating out of your storage!

Build community food systems: What have you done to help other people have better food access or to make your local food system more resilient?

And a new one: Skill up: What did you learn this week that will help you in the future – could be as simple as fixing the faucet or as hard as building a shed, as simple as a new way of keeping records or as complicated as making shoes. Whatever you are learning, you get a merit badge for it – this is important stuff.

OK, you can sign up in comments, publicise on your blog and tell the world – let’s see what we can get done!

Happy Independence Days!”

So here is my first entry for a Friday Independence day.

1.Plant something I have put my potatoes around to chit, ahead of planting them. Also planted some tomato seeds, pea seeds and mixed lettuce seeds they are in the kitchen window pots, will plant them out in a while when it stops being so cold.

2. Harvest something I haven;t harvested anything this week, mostly because I haven't been to the allotment, am hoping to get there this weekend.

3.Preserve something I have dried and stored some bay leaves and rosemary from the allotment. See picture at top of page.

4.Waste not I have covered some old shoe boxes to make pretty storage boxes for Stephanie

5.Want not erm can't think of anything to fit in this category- perhaps next week!

6. Eat the food

I have been trying to ensure that I have breakfast, with my porridge each morning I have been eating Jam I made last summer from foraged blackberries and apples from the allotment.

7.Build community food systems I haven't given anything away this weekend- does it count that I gave my aunt bay and rosemary the other week?

8.Skill up something learnt this week? Where some amazing fabric shops are ahead of the sewing list Stephanie has given me.

This challenge has helped me to really consider what I am doing as the week goes by. Hopefully there will be more to fill each section up as get better at considering what I do.

lazy Sunday

Do you see a bit of a trend here, lazy yesterday and lazy today! I can give you an excuse if you like- I do have a cold. Otherwise just this is what we feel like being. Tomorrow we are planning a trip to London for the day. We won't be spending all of half term curled up and hiding from the world however tempting it is right now.

On our lazy day today I have caught up with the ironing and mended a couple of tops of Dylan's that needed seams repairing/new buttons. I suspect there are more requiring the same treatment in his room- I will look when I am feeling braver.

I thought I would share some pics showing our lazy Sunday;

Exploring the icicles that have formed in the garden

Despite the snow and ice surrounding them the tulips and daffs poking up are proof that spring is on its way

the ones outside are doing considerably better than those inside

A simple lunch using up some of the Christmas leftovers and the bargain veggies bought yesterday

Saturday, 11 February 2012


Today we decided to have a lazy day to begin our half term. It began by taking Stephanie to her swimming lesson, then on to the library. From there we went to the local market we got the vegetables and fruit that the children chose. We then walked past a couple of ladies who asked if we wanted a free recipe book. Dylan loves to cook and his ears popped up, I smiled to him to let him know it was OK to go over. The recipes are from local residents, a council drive to get people healthy.w As one lady explained about the recipes in the book another offered us some banana bread and offered to make us some risotto to try. The children were very keen, they loved the banana bread, Dylan enjoyed the risotto, Stephanie not so sure.

It inspired them to cook today, they began by making french bread pizza for their lunch. For dinner they made fajitas following a recipe in the book we were given today.

After dinner Stephanie made a banana smoothie, again from the recipe book.

Then they made a cake together;

It has been a lovely way to start our half term break.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

A January update

As it is now February I thought I would post a little update on how I am getting on with my aspirations for January.

  • Sophie's knitted top, I have already started on this. I have worked on this, still not finished it though

  • Knit Stephanie's gloves I decided not to knit her any as when I sorted out her room she has several pairs after all

  • Sew blind for downstairs bathroom done

  • fix up living room cushions it's a roll over- maybe I'll get this done in half term?

  • plan what we will grow this year and when they need planting. I have started thinking about this, I have the first Early's chitting now, and some veg seeds bought. I need to sort the compost then I can get planting.

  • buy fruit/veg from farm shop I need to organise myself better in order to achieve this one.

  • work out a budget so that I can put a set amount away towards a new car. I want to do this properly, I am going to sit and plan meals for a month so that I can do the shopping and get this organised. As I want to cook meals and freeze them to make work days easier I am going to do this in half term so that I can have a 'cook-off'

  • Swim at least twice I haven't done this as I broke my toe and have been dubious of making it worse. It isn't needing strapping anymore so I am going to give it a try, was going to be today but the snow has other ideas....

  • fix bike Again, broken toe made this a lower priority in January, maybe February then.

  • I am pleased with how much I had achieved, I haven't managed as much as I had hoped that just means I now have a more realistic view of what I am able to achieve around work.

    So what are February's plans. To see if I can complete some of January's projects that I haven't yet completed.

  • knit waterfall cardigan for Stephanie - this is being bumped further down the list for when I finish my current knitting.

  • Sew curtains/blinds for kitchen

  • varnish kitchen unit

  • swim at least 3 times

  • use bike

  • continue to buy fruit/veg from farm shop

  • go for family walks/bike rides

  • plant any seeds for this month

  • plan work for the allotment Already planned and begun. So technically a 'done' item already