Category Archives: Homemade


Over the past few months I have managed to be completely immersed in the real world – to the point my hands hovered over the keyboard whilst I remembered my password – but it has been a pleasant immersion with lots of exciting things going on that I hope to share soon.

I thought I’d stop by and share the fabric I tried batik out on for the first time whilst the rain pours down outside:

Batik fabric - July 2013

Batik fabric – July 2013

Batik fabric - July 2013

Batik fabric – July 2013

Batik fabric - July 2013

Batik fabric – July 2013

Batik fabric - July 2013

Batik fabric – July 2013

Rhubarb cordial

Rhubarb ~ May 2013

Rhubarb ~ May 2013

I have been playing around with the rhubarb patch in the garden and think I may have finally found away it is palatable; Cordial.

I’ve tried two different recipes, the first one from Colour It Green this one has a very strong rhubarb flavour which I oddly really like.

And the second recipe I based the second batch on was from Life on Pig Row. I did change this one a fair bit but it has more water in it to start with and it does make for a weaker flavour so I think I shall be playing around with the first one a little more. When I first read the second recipe I was sure that I read it had ginger in so a whole hand of ginger went into stew with the rhubarb and I couldn’t find the grater for the orange peel so no orange went in.

Gloves, fingerless, or mittens??

I have done it! I have finally finished another whole knitting project a mere 3 or 4 years after I completed my first ever projects (a knitted flower that I can’t find the post for) I have made a pair of what I am calling gloves, but they might be mittens I can’t remember what the pattern I first started to follow called them;

FInished gloves - January 2013

Finished gloves – January 2013

They were based on a free pattern from Ravelry that I changed as I went along as they were much longer than I wanted.

  1. Cast on 30st and join
  2. Ribbing for 15 rows (k1, p1, k1)
  3. Knit stockinette for 10 rows
  4. 13 rows stockinette not in the round (knit one row, pearl one row)
  5. Join then continue in the round for 13 rows
  6. ribbing for 3 rows
  7. Bind off and weave in end

It is super easy when you get going, even though it has taken me the best part of 6 months to complete. After finishing my first second glove I weaved the end in much too tightly and so the whole glove was useless, I did try to unpick it but just made a bigger mess than I started with.

They are being worn with great pride.

Chillies and Self-Watering Planters

Last week I harvested my small crop of chillies and repoted the plants back into their self-watering planters.

Chilli Harvest; a little dried after a week on a kitchen worktop - November 2012

Chilli Harvest; a little dried after a week on a kitchen worktop – November 2012

The harvest wasn’t anywhere near as big as some of those being paraded on the growing groups and forums but a small pot full is enough for to add the homegrown touch to some chilli jam, not that I would say no to a larger harvest of course!

The repoting took place a I realised that the original ‘draw rag’ had rotted away and so the compost in the top was drying out, other than that one small problem these planters seem to be working well and the repoting and harvest (and maybe the heating being turned on had a part to play too) has bought the plants back into flower so a winter harvest might possibly be on the cards?!?

Apache; this chilli seems to be doing the best on my windowsill set-up - November 2012

Apache; this chilli seems to be doing the best on my windowsill set-up – November 2012

Out of the three plants that I have ‘Apache ‘ has been the best, producing the most fruit and continually flowering when the others had stopped. The fruit has also kept the best being the plumper fruit in the photo above and didn’t start drying out on the plant like the others. This is a dwarf variety so perhaps it is better suited to being grown in pots.

I’m hoping that these with overwinter happily enough and be ready for the all go in the spring but I’m thinking I might like to add a couple more plants next year too; just need to have a look and see what is about and if I can save the seeds from the plants I already have as they are grown next to each other.

Veggie patch carrot cake

Carrot Cupcakes - 13 October 2012

Carrot Cupcakes – 13 October 2012

I’m been meaning to make carrot cake for a few years now; my orginal plan was to make it with home grown carrots but I haven’t done so well with those since deciding on that… And my plans to live off courgettes and goats cheese during the summer months have been foiled in much the same way really.

The nagging feeling of not knowing when carrots will work for me again, and if they do will I be in a position to spend enough time baking to do them justice and a special friends birthday bought out the baking trays and I have to say after a test run of cup cakes I was very please not only with the cake but also my first attempt at cake decorating; 

Vegetable patch birthday cake -13 October 2012

Vegetable patch birthday cake -13 October 2012

I used a recipe from the BBC website which I adapted to fit with what I had in the cupboard, used a butter icing for the base and made the vegetables from white icing and food colouring

Nettle soup

Especially for Shaz from Our Front Plot

Nettles - 2nd May 2011

Nettles - 2nd May 2011

Ingredients: 2 onions, chopped. 1 potato, peeled and diced. A bunch of freshly picked nettle tips, washed and roughly chopped. 1 vegetable stock cube, onion and celery seed, mixed herbs and a little butter and oil.

Method: Fry the onions on a low heat in the oil a long with the onion and celery seed and mixed herbs. When the onions are soft and just starting to brown add the nettles and enough butter to stop them sticking to the pan and cook until soft and well mixed. Add the potato and cook whilst stirring to stop the potato sticking to the pan. Add water and a stock cube and bring to the boil and then allow to simmer for 5 – 10 minutes. Whiz in a blender and serve.

Pay It Forward: The Gift

I spend too much time on Facebook and despair of myself for doing so but every so often something catches my eye, someone posts a link or makes a comment that leads me off somewhere.

Pay It Forward Gift Card- 1st February 2011

Pay It Forward Gift Card- 1st February 2011

One such comment was from Tracey Smith, who is the author of  The Book of Rubbish Ideas, when she started (or possibly carried on) a ‘Pay It Forward’ handmade gift exchange. The idea is that she will send out three handmade items to the first three people who respond, who in turn repost the comment and send out three handmade items to the next three and so on.

I was number three to reply and before going away received this lovely ‘slow down’ tea card, Thank you Tracey! Now I have my ‘Pay It Forwards’ to make and send on to Anthea, Sue, Ren and Jane. I just have to set up my craft things and decided what to make.

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.

World of Willow

Willow catkins - 18th April 2010

For a while now I have been looking at getting some willow, the more I have looked into it the more I have liked the idea. After going on the basket making course last year it seemed time to get some. But what? There are some many different types out there, all are good for different uses and different conditions.

I wanted something that would help with drainage in the goat pen, grow reasonably quickly and be useful for making baskets and possibly using as a feed for the goats. After spending much time on the internet, looking at all the pretty colours and all the different uses I came across a listing for a collection of willow on ebay.

From there I found the World of Willow website and emailed Gwen, asking if she might offer me a special offer or collection. After letting her know what I wanted, she went one better and GAVE ME a lovely willow collection!

It arrived at the start of this month and is doing well; there are seven different verities in a range of colours from yellow through to black. Ideal for making lots of nice coloured baskets with. As well as the basketry collection there are also hedging and windbreaks, fuel and short rotation coppice andwildlife and bees collections. With a few more collections for livestock, small animals and bees.

It is now a bit late in the year for buying willow cuttings but World of Willow also run courses, at one of the best prices I have found. When I was emailing Gwen she mentioned that she had just collected a yurt to run them in so it sounds like they will be in a lovely setting as well.

Once upon a time, many moons ago…

I was learning to knit again. It was on this day in 2008 that I posted my first proper blog post.This is my second blog, the first one was very much a warm up to this one. And having spent some time reading back through my posts I thought I had posted most of it on this one any way, and all not that long ago either! I began blogging in November 2007 with this: 

A place to begin…Last night I finally got the push I needed to start off, I was on a forum and someone said that they would love to follow something like this, there are already loads of popular TV series, books and magazines about self sufficient so that must mean that other people are interested to. So this is my two pence worth to add to. My idea is very simple: produce as much food for myself as is possible with what I’ve got, that said I already know that it isn’t as simple a task as it sounds. I also would like to learn how to live as cheaply as possible and make some money from the things I enjoy doing.

 What I already have/where I’m at: I already keep goats, two of whom are in milk but I’m not milking them at the moment for no really reason other than the fact that I haven’t sorted myself out into doing this. I have quail; I got some for my last years Christmas present (in April, but I said I wanted to wait to get what I really wanted rather than having something else) from these there is one male left and I brought four more the other day, two females and two males and I brought 24 eggs, 12 of two types, for hatching from ebay last night, they should arrive on Tuesday next week.

 I’m a vegetarian, but others in my family eat meat, and I’ve got most of a vegetable garden up and running now but ‘the family’ have just been told that we can use part of a field we keep donkeys on as a vegetable garden as well which is quite a big space. I’m going up there tomorrow to start clearing the ground and covering some of it with manure ready for the summer.

 “The Family”: that is me (eldest daughter) my parents, my two younger sisters, a younger brother and my boyfriend. ‘The Family’ also includes a whole host of dogs, cats, ponies, donkeys, cows, sheep, chickens, ducks, rabbits and a guinea pig. I don’t think I’ve left anything out but I might have.

 So there are a lot of us, some useful others not so useful. I plan to be adding more very soon and to start adding some photo’s when I’ve got to grips with how to do things on here.

I changed blogs as I wanted to have more control of the way that it looked, and in particular a banner that I could add my own photos to.  A train track in the middle of nowhere is nice… But it wasn’t really what I was looking for. 

So what has changed since my first ever blog post? Well, I have almost finished my first own-spun and knitted project… more details coming soon. 

I have grown my own potatoes for the first time, and leeks, and carrots, and some other thing too; I have made butter and cheese from our own cows milk and cream. I have started keeping chickens, and am having another break from keeping quail, mother has the remaining trio that I had. 

‘The Family’ has grown, my baby sister will be eighteen this summer, we all have boy/girlfriends and although we are all still one big family it feels like we are also splitting off into our own little families as well. 

I am a published magazine writer… Twice. 

I have a much better job and am in much better health then I was back then. I have survived no less than two redundancies. I have become much more of an ‘outdoors’ person, even in the pouring rain I am still happy enough (cue a week long down-pour, sorry) and have much more of an idea of who I am and what I want to do. 

All this sounds very fluffy and… Picture prefect, but the thing is the milestones for ‘this kind of life’ are more woolly or yearly events than anything else. Lambing is followed by shearing, sowing time is followed by the growing season, followed by harvest time… Each year starts with hopes and dreams of building on what has been started the year before, which is followed by successes and failures, wet muddy times followed by the smell of grass cutting and fat happy animals sun bathing. It is a circle that keeps going and has no really ending. 

So here I am again, writing a blog post, in the middle of lambing. It has been raining outside and it is probably not all that different to the very first time I put fingers to keyboard for the first post of this blog and that is just fine by me…