Monthly Archives: November 2010

Jack Frost

Frosted window leaves - 28th November 2010

Frosted window leaves - 28th November 2010

Look out! Look out!
Jack Frost is about!
He’s after our fingers and toes;
And all through the night,
The gay little sprite
Is working where nobody knows.

He’ll climb each tree,
So nimble is he.
His silvery powder he’ll shake;
To windows he’ll creep,
And while we’re asleep,
Such wonderful pictures he’ll make.

Across the grass
He’ll merrily pass,
And change all its greenness to white.
Then home he will go;
And laugh, “Ho! Ho! Ho!
What fun I have had in the night!

Recycle & reuse; Charity shop green cardi

Well, I am proud to say that I managed to over come my habit of starting a craft project and then putting it down and never again looking at it in spite of always meaning to finished it. I managed to find myself a small project when I found a green cardi in a charity shop and instantly had ideas for how I could add a personal touch and brighten it up. 

Before and after - 28th November 2010

Before and after - 28th November 2010

My flower - 18th November 2010

The flower is mostly taken from this pattern from Alison Hogg’s The Creation of Crazy Dazy blog although I found I had unwittingly changed it a little without meaning to and I made my own way up of putting it together.

Painted button - 28th Noevmber 2010

Painted button - 28th November 2010

As soon as I saw the cardi I knew I wanted to replace the button with a wooden one and searched high and low in two towns worth of charity shops with no luck, so I paid a visit to a newly-ishly opened wool shop and found just what I was looking for;

Petal one (inside)

Row 1: Cast on 7 stitches. Row 2: Knit 1 row. Row 3: Purl 1 row. Row 4: Cast off 1 stitch, knit to the end of the row. Row 5: Purl 1 row. Rows 6 – 14:  Repeat cast off 1 stitch, knit to the end of the row and then purl back a row until 1 stitch is left and then cast work off

Medium petal, two needed

Row 1: Cast on 4 stitches. Row 2: Knit 1 row. Row 3: Purl 1 row. Row 4: Increase all stitches, up to 8 stitches. Row 5: Purl 1 row. Row 6: Increase all but 1 stitch, up to 14. Row 7: Purl 1 row. Row 8: Knit 1 row. Row 9: Cast off 1 stitch, purl rest of row. Row 10: Cast off 1 stitch, knit to end of row. Rows 11 – 22: Repeat 9 & 10 until end and cast off. 

Outer petal

Row 1: Cast on 5 stitches. Row 2: Knit 1 row. Row 3: Purl 1 row. Row 4: Increase every stitch, up to 10 stitches. Row 5: Purl 1 row. Row 6: Increase every stitch, up to 20 stitches. Row 7: Purl 1 row. Row 8: Knit 1 row. Row 9: Cast off 1 stitch, purl rest of row. Row 10: Cast off 1 stitch, knit rest of row. Rows 11 – 28: Repeat 9 & 10 until end and cast off 

Leaf, follow the pattern from here

To put the flower together fold the inside (smallest) petal down on itself, wrap one of the middle-sized petals around this, followed by the largest petal and then the other middle-sized petal. Have a play around until you are happy with the way it looks and then sew together. Add the leaf and then plait together the left over wool to make the steam.

Chocolate and Orange Cheesecake

Chocolate and orange cheese cake - 27th November 2010

I made my first ever cheese cake last night, and very good it was too

Cheese cake is a favourite so it was madness that I’d never made one before last night, but I made it a New Year Resolution and it was the last thing left to do.

I based it on this recipe but replaced the chocolate with Fairtrade dark chocolate with orange spice and missed off the last three ingredients and added some oats to the base.

A special visitor

One of the many wild creatures we live along side here are deer, and at this time of year with leafs falling all around you can often spot small herds, or if you are lucky a large herd, disappearing back from the roadside into the trees, and  over recent years there seem to be more and more, either that or they are getting used to people and coming closer to roads and villages.  

The down side to this is that so many get hit on the roads each year. It isn’t a too regular occurrence but often at this time of year someone will come home late from somewhere as they have been assisting with a fallen deer on the roadside. Sadly this is normally only keeping them in the dark and as calm as possible whilst they die, but we always stop and do what we can.

And this is how we have come to a have a not so usual guest;

Gracie - November 2010

This is Gracie. At first she was named Hope as we weren’t sure if she would make it through the first night, but is more of a Gracie than a Hope.

Her mum was hit by a car whilst crossing the road and Gracie was hit by the car following. Her mum was killed outright but Gracie got up and ran off up the hill where middle-younger-sister caught her. It is likely that she was concussed (after speaking to a wildlife centre) as she didn’t seem to be able to see and she has lost some teeth but is doing fine and we will release her back into the wild as soon as we have arranged somewhere safe for her.

Many people don’t know what to do with deer; especially an injured one and why would anyone? Deer are not social (with humans) animals in any way and should be left alone if at all possible to stop them going into shock which they can die of. If it is not possible to leave them alone then beware that they are VERY strong, even the littles ones. Decide what you are going to do and do it, trying to catch one and then not will only scare them.  Keep them in the dark, a blanket or jumper over the head will stop them panicking as much, and as quiet as possible as they won’t find ‘soothing’ noises soothing. If you are not able to deal with them then find someone who can e.g. a wildlife centre or a vet.

Middle-young-sister only caught Gracie as she was hurt and not behaving in a ‘normal’ way and we had a suitable place to put her.

Sadly if you are able to get anywhere near a deer they are normally more hurt than they may look.

Seed saving

Over the past year or so I’ve been more and more interested in where the seeds for the vegetables, and next year flowers, that I want to grow actually come from. And it really isn’t easy to answer questions like where was this grown, how was it grown and will it actually produce anything if I grow it on my wind-swept allotment plot.

Horse chestnut seeds - 21st November 2010

The answer to this is something that I have been developing and refining for a while now, last year I tried to only buy seeds from The Real Seed Company and if I couldn’t then I made sure I found a non-F1 varieties, in fact I think I found The Real Seed Company when searching for a non-F1 variety of sweetcorn so my thoughts and actions about the subject have criss-crossed a little.

My reasons for stopping using F1 varieties was something a long the lines of by growing F1 varieties I wouldn’t be able to save my own seeds and have them grow ‘true’ again, my reasons for buying seeds from The Real Seed Company was that I would be able to save my own seed, with a little work, and had a postcode for where the seeds were grown.

Bobby (french) beans; hopefully the start of next years crop - 19th of November 2010

 I failed to do that ‘little work’ this year and so had set myself up to buy next years seed again. That is until I went to a Seed Saving talk given by Jude and Michel who set up The Seed Savers Network 25 years ago, The Seed Savers Network coordinates a network of seed saving groups across Australia and now works in 20 other countries across the world as well. 

I very stupidly didn’t take any notes like I had planned to but the most important message that I took from the meeting is to just go for it. Seed saving is something that the majority of people no longer feel they have the knowledge or skills to do in this country and that also seems to be spreading now to third world countries too. 

So I am going to stop making excuses as to why I can’t and just go ahead and do something. I have a few beans left at the allotment that were missed and so now hopefully have seeds big enough to grow from next year, I have my lovely squash that I grew this year, a courgette that turned into a marrow that i picked before the first hard frost hit and some squash seeds saved from squash ‘bought’ at the last LETS meeting and there are pages and pages of information and seed packet templates on Google.

And the answer to my excuse about not doing the ‘little work’ so as these seeds grow true again next year; well we all like to try growing new things and so long as it tastes good what does it matter if they are not the same as last year. I may even end up with my very own local variety in a few years time.

Save our public woodland and forests – My Local Campaign

This is a Youtube video put together about the sell off of the woolland outside my gate and where our sheep graze; 

The woods local to me are not the only ones that could be sold off, if you too believe this to be wrong please sign the petition and pass it on to friends and family.

Allotment up-date; The news we have been waiting for

Runner bean - 16th July 2010

This morning was a very important time for the future of our allotment site, after months of work we voted to form our own allotment society and signed a tenancy agreement which takes effect from the 1st of January 2011.

Since the beginning of the year the site has been in a positive but uncertain state as the person who originally set up the site, held the lease with the land owner and had all the tenancy agreements with plot holders; well, did a runner basically and it has taken us until now to pick up the piece and plan away forward for our site.

We technically formed our own society back in August but todays meeting was to put forward the plans that the committee have come up with to the other plot holders so if there wasn’t enough agreement then by lunchtime today there would have been no point in our society and no more allotments but the plans were agreed!

Summer growings; my allotment plots - 24th July 2010

We now have the job of encouraging new plot holders to the site, our site was never full and sadly we have lost some plot holders though the uncertain times, and making some improvements to the site; we would like some sort of water, most likely some sort of water collection system, some better fencing along at least one side of the site and drainage. 

My role in all this is publicity and events; the aim of both is to encourage more plot holders to the site so if anyone has any ideas or tricks they have learned please do share them with me.

Dear Secert Santa

Under my normal rules talk of Christmas is banned until December the 1st and only then if people really have too but this year has been different, I have not managed to avoid noticing the shelves in supermarkets became laden with Christmasy things at the same time as they bought out the Halloween things e.g. as they packed the summer BBQs, furniture and outdoor games and I have already spent some time poking fun at some friends who have already completed and wrapped their Christmas shopping (their argument is that it is now done and, apart from food shopping, there is nothing more to do and so can enjoy themselves and possibly poke fun at me when I go shopping in the week before Christmas…)

But any way, that is not why this year is different. This year we are having a family ‘Secret Santa*’ instead of everyone getting everyone else something we have all taken a gift tag with someone’s name on it and we have all written a list or something that we would like, to the value of about £25, and stuck it to the fridge.

Hopefully this will mean that everyone gets something that would like to open on Christmas Day and not so many ‘things’. I like the idea of a family ‘Secret Santa’, it makes the idea of present giving a lot simple and more personal.

*normally we only have Father Christmas at home but ‘Secret Father Christmas’ doesn’t flow so well

Save our public woodland and forests

The Government is proposing to sell of woodland owned by the  Forestry Commission all over the UK to help clear the deficit. They have said that it is not fair for future generations to be paying it off but personally I would like to keep our public woodland and help pay off the deficit;

The government wants to sell off more than half of our national forests to private firms. This could mean ancient woodlands are chopped down and ruined. Wildlife would have to make way for Centre Parcs style holiday villages, golf courses and commercial logging.

We need to stop these plans. Ancient forests like The Forest of Dean and Sherwood Forest are national treasures – once they are gone, they will be lost forever.”

If you too believe this to be wrong please sign the online petition HERE and pass it on to as many friends and family as possible


Living the good life by Linda Cockburn

 I found this book on one of those tables full of books in a warehouse shop or Countrywide stores, mostly they are filled with cook books or nice card-notelet sets or books that hold no interest to me but just sometimes they hold a real little gem and this is one of those gems.

Living the good life by Linda Cockburn

Living the good life is mostly written by Linda Cockburn and it is a record of her families attempt at not spending a penny for six months. It is mostly written in diary form, which is my favorite style of writing and also includes lots of information about the topics that come up during the six months e.g. compost loos, water storage and lots of yummy sounding recipes.

The book was written when the family lived in Australia, although I believe they have since moved to New Zealand, and so it felt a little odd at first that they start their challenge at New Year when they are already well into the growing session but I soon got use to that and loved reading about all the exotic food they were able to grow which are just ‘normal’ foods for their climate and enjoyed even more reading about their day-to-day routines like feeding chickens and planting out seedlings.

I’m not really sure how to explain in words how much of a pager turner I found this book or why but almost all of the way through I was sat thinking “I want to move to Australia and have my own power from the sun and grow food like that… But they have a serious water shortage and I should be thankfully for what is here”

I got the impression, or perhaps it just said it somewhere in the book, that they have been planning for their challenge for a few years and so had time to put in place water collecting systems, compost toilets and solar power for the house.

It was interesting to read throughout the book how the family, or Linda at least, stopped wanting to buy things. Not completely, I think everyone has a list of things that would make life easier, but stop spending for pleasure any way and I think that has helped change my own mind set about spending as well.

 Spending money to cheer ourselves up seems to be a mind-set that people are almost born into now a days, which is so sad as it means we can easily miss out on some very pleasurable things just by being in the cycle spending all our time working to pay for or buy the things that we think we want or are too busy to do for ourselves and then all too quickly feeling unfulfilled and having to work hard for the next thing we think we make us happy.

I think there is a real art to only spending money on things we really need and being happy with what we already have and this book shows it off beautifully.