Monthly Archives: November 2009

Buy Nothing Day 2009

Well, yesterday was Buy Nothing Day and nothing was bought that wasn’t needed. Electric had to be bought as we have a pre-payment metre.

Being on a training course all day helped, and having almost no money until pay day also helped a great deal too. There was a big debate about if it was ok to go to the opening of the new wool shop or not, but that is a treat for later in the week

Christmas tree earrings

Seed bead Christmas tree earrings in green and redWell, the long dark evenings really do seem to be the time to spend being crafty and making things, in between my habit of wasting a lot of time on the internet which I’m getting increasingly annoyed with myself for doing.

This time it has been seed beading and I have been making little Christmas tree earrings. I came up with the design half way through December last year, when it was much too late to really do anything with but I was pleased with the idea.

Seed bead Christmas tree earrings in green and redI have been planning on making some and maybe taking them to Christmas craft markets with a friend since October, and so far I have managed to make the grand total of… TWO PAIRS.

I have added the green and gold pair to my Etsy shop as I do plan on making more and adding them before the end of the festive period, it is still not quite December the 1st after all. With the red and green pair, the very first complete pair that I made, I would like to send them to one of my blog readers.

I have seen a few give aways and posts about things that people have ‘won’ or been given lately and it seems a nice idea, and as they are the first pair that I have made I would like them to go somewhere special where they will have a story attached to them.

So if you would like a chance of ‘winning’ them please leave me a message saying so, making sure that you include a valid email address in the formy bit. On the 5th of December I will put everyone’s names into a hat, or more likely a bowl or box, and pull one out. Simples (yes, I have been watching the meerkat advert)

Potato planning: A plan

During the wet weather this weekend I’ve sat down and gone through the potato seed catalogue and decided what I think is going to be best to grow next year. Potatoes are very much a staple food here, but even so I did go a little over board with my seed potato buying this year and, partly as a result of having too many to plant and them going out too late, we got a very poor harvest.

Next year I have decided to scale back on potatoes but still have a go. I’ve picked out one for each type; first early, second early, etc.

For the first early I am going to try Mimi again, even though we didn’t get a single one this year I would still like to give them another go. They are a dwarf variety and meant to do very well in tubes but the tubes I had didn’t seem to have enough drainage and so kept flooding and becoming waterlogged. Next year I am going to try growing all the potatoes in tyres on the allotment so this won’t be a problem, unless we geta LOT of rain.

For the second early I’ve chosen Charlottes, I know we like this variety and even though it is a salad potato when it is available in the shops we use it for all sorts. They also seem a reasonably popular variety so I hope this means that they do well.

For the early main I have picked Maris Piper, Rhys requested that we had one ‘Maris’ in the selection as he likes floury potatoes, so here we have it. Also as with Charlottes, it is a variety that we’ve heard of and indeed have had several sacks of this year alone so hopefully should do well. 

And finally, for the main I’ve chosen  Druid, which according to the catalogue has ‘huge yeilds’ and is ‘ideal for the organic grower’ because of its resistence. I don’t really think of us, or the way that we grow food at home, as organic growers but I suppose we do.

I’ve already started a bed on the allotment for potatoes, one of the new beds has been lined with cardboard then a layer of manure and now I am adding old tyres with more manure in ready for the spring.

Buy nothing day – 28th November 2009

I’ve just been reminded of this year’s Buy Nothing Day, it is on the 28th of November. A week on Saturday!

Buy Nothing Day is something that I always mean to take part in but like Earth Hour and Downshifting Week I forget that it is happening and just carry on as normal but this year I am hoping to remember…

Spinning round (monday)

This weekend has been a bit of a wash out, firstly because of the bad weather on Saturday and then because of my stupid bad health on a clear and sunny Sunday. I have the bug that has been going around the family, it starts with a headache which I have had since about Thursday and for a few of us hasn’t gotten any worse although it’s not a normal headache and just carries on regardless of any painkillers taken or resting. For the ones of us, me included, for whom the bug as gotten worse it has then led on to dizziness and sickness, which is what I spent a lovely sunny Sunday doing and am off work with today.

On Saturday the weather wasn’t terrible, but it was very windy and raining which was enough to put me off trying to get anything done outside, I did venture out a few times but didn’t really get very far before coming back in before deciding if there was anything I could be doing in spite of the weather.

I made a half hearted attempt at being productive inside, which didn’t work and I fell asleep for most of the afternoon in front of a video. In the evening though I got my wheel out and finished spinning, and then plied the bag of wool that I got with my drop-spindle.

Finished wool on the niddy-noddy - 18th November 2009

I loved the colours and the order that they were in in the bag so that was the order in which I spun them.

Red, white, chocolate, orange, aqua, claret and dark green.

When it was first on the niddy-noddy it was a little like holding a prize, so I gave a little speech;

Plied wool - 18th November 2009

“I would like to thank the sheep, who I have unfortunately not yet had the pleasure of meeting, also the people who have helped me learn my craft and the rainbows for the inspirational colours.” It wasn’t exactly what I said but is near enough.

To try and get the colours in the right order I split each rolag into equal-ish lengths and spun these. I managed to spin them quite evenly really, considering it was my first proper attempt but I still ended up with different lengths of colour so it goes nicely from one colour, mixing for a while with another and then into another colour in a nice way. 

My untidy attempt at making it into a skein - 18th November 2009

 My camera is still broken so until Christmas when I (hopefully) will be given a new one I only have my phone camera to take pictures with which isn’t the best or any good indoors.

Best blog award

bestblog-awardJo from The Good Life has very kindly given me a “best blog” award. I only found Jo’s blog a week or so ago but have been enjoying catching up with all her posts. Thank you Jo, and good luck with your Christmas potatoes which are looking good!

The rules of this award are as follows: Post the award on your blog along with the name of the person who passed it on to you and link to their blog. Choose up to 15 blogs which you have recently discovered and you think are great and pass it on to them. Don’t forget to leave a comment on their blog to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

 This award comes at a very good time for me as I have been finding a lot of interesting new blogs lately, and so I would like to pass the award on to:

A year in the life of…

The Sustainable Smallholding

UK lass in US

Bring me sumshine



Mushroom kechup

I finished making mushroom kechup with the mushrooms that weren’t eaten on toast the other day. It tastes a little too vingery really but is ok.

I VERY loosely followed a recipe for it from Food as Gifts by Jo Marcangelo which is a lovely book that I got from a LETS meeting a while ago.

Image003Ingredients: 2 ib (1kg) large, open mushrooms, 1 oz (25g) sea salt, 1 level teaspoon black peppercorns, 1 level teaspoon whole allspice, 10 cloves, piece of root ginger, 1 pint (600ml) vinger

1. Cut off the bottom of the mushroom stalks and discard. Break them up into small pieces and place in a bowl. Sprinkle with salt, cover and leave to stand for about 12hours. 2. put the mushroom mixture in a saucepan and mash up. crush the spices and add to the pan along with the vinger. Bring to the boil and leave to simmer for 30minutes. 3. Pour the mixture into a blender and puree it. 4. Pour into hot, sterilised bottles, leaving a 1inch (2.5cm) headspace, seal while hot with screw caps. 5. Put a thick wad of newspaper in the bottom of a large deep pan and then stand the filled bottles on this. Slacken the screw caps by a quarter of a turn and slowly bring the pan of water to the boil and simmer for 30minutes. Remove the bottles from the water, tighten up the tops, then cool and label. Store in a cool, dry place.

I didn’t weigh anything, I just used all of the mushrooms that were left, a good half a basket full, add what I thought was enough salt and ended up leaving it for over 24hours in the fridge. I left out the cloves as I couldn’t find any and the all spice was already ground. I left the mixture to simmer on the Rayburn and came back in from the garden almost an hour later, it really didn’t feel like an hour, and as it wasn’t meant as a gift and I think it will get eaten soon enough I didn’t bother with steps 4 or 5 but just put it in clean jars.

Bonfire night

Today has been a good autumny kind of day, not to windy, mostly bright with only a few bitter cold showers.

The garden, and goat pen, are starting to get very muddy again. A productive afternoon was spent in the garden sorting, the morning disappeared somewhere too but not as productively, I remember looking at the clock and finding at it was already half past one with nothing done.

A pile of sacks of manure was cleared, unfortunately not to the allotment but to some local freecyclers. Even though the allotment needs as much manure as possible on it but it is the time it takes moving it up their and in the next couple of weeks there is the muck heap garden to be taken up there to make way for the new goat housing.

A fire was lit and lots of old branches were sorted, broken up and either burned there and then or put to one side for cutting up for the Rayburn and indoor wood burners. Over the summer a lot of twigy branches have built up from the greens feed to the goats, and now that the garden is gettting muddy they are starting to get walked into everywhere.

Then this evening we went out to see some fireworks. (photo to follow when I get bluetooth working)

Fungi gathering

Image002.1This morning I went fungi gathering on May Hill with some friends.

I haven’t been to May Hill for a few years but it is always something we mean to do come mushroom time, and this year we have started harvesting a crop of Parasol mushrooms from the garden which have started growing after we gathered some from May Hill, bought them home and never got round to doing anything with them and so chucked them out.

We were there a little late, and most mushrooms had started going over but there were planty of different types and it was a lovely walk.

Image020.1We took my basket and a book that I found in a charity shop and, as well as the Parasols, came away with some Wood Blewitts, which are unusual because they keep their blue-ish colour after cooking.

Some of the Parasols have been eaten on toast with scambled egg and the rest I am going to try making some mushroom kechup with I think.


Normal service returned

PICT0038We have been without, or with only and “intermittent” (only working when I am out), internet service for the past week or so.

This normally happens once every few years when our phone line that runs through some trees gets rubbed through and doesn’t work, but it has happened a few times this year so maybe BT have changed the quality of the wires they use.

It’s been nice not having the internet though, it can be such a massive time waster. I have done loads of spinning and other writing, hopefully I will be able to stop my self being so sucked in now that I’ve had some time away from it. It is a useful resource but real life is just as nice.

SEED PARCEL – This is now on its way!