Feeds:
Posts
Comments

I have decided, if I am going to justify my habit of buying fabrics, hoarding clothes that need a little alteration, and such, then I need to make some actual time to do some sewing.

The idea fits in well with the fact I am on a bit of a budget, I like recycling and well.. I may have mentioned it… I like fabric….

So, the plan is to carve out that time, and actually get on with.

To kick start me, an easy project, un-beiging a beige jacket.  It’s a perfectly good jacket, light-weight, ideal apart from… it’s beige.  20170628_160829I don’t know why I bought it… ok actually I do, I was brought up with the idea  that buying ‘neutral’ colours was a good choice, as then the item will go with everything..  Good idea.. apart from the fact that I like colour. So I have a tendency to put down the colourful thing in a shop, opt to buy the sensible, then never wear it because it is…sensible.

See how neutral it is? I took this picture inside the greenhouse (it was a rainy day, ideal for project) and it blends into the stone wall…..bleuh….

So to resolve this issue, I decided to dye.  Studying the label I established that the main outer of the jacket was cotton but the faux fur, lining and zip  (and maybe the stitching.. that can go either way) were synthetic and would not pick up the colour. So I had to choose a colour that would go well with the faux fur etc. I went for dylon emerald green.  (cos you know… I do like green…) Then I weighed it and tried to estimate how much of weight was in material that would pick up the dye… Then shoved it into the washing machine.

20170630_125951

And it worked, I like the contrast with the fur and buckles, the stitching does show but it’s fine.
I love my ‘new’ jacket 20170703_092833

wp0620e40a_0f

Courgette season is upon us, and as always the forums and groups call out for courgette recipes – and frankly some are a bit scary, but there are lots of great recipes and a few winners. This is my contribution, first posted in 2012 (!), the courgette bhaji – definitely a family favourite:

 

 

 

 

courgette bhajis
3 or 4 courgettes
1 tsp black onion seed
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
1 tsp salt
gram flour
oil for frying
For this I use 3 courgettes – but I probably pick slightly bigger than shop size.
Grate the courgettes using a food processor.  Tip everything out, liquid and all, into a bowl and fish out any bits that did not get grated and slice them up.Now stir in the spices and salt, and mix well.Add gram flour and stir, and keep adding more gram flour until everything comes together as a sort of ball, and is fairly stiff.  How much gram flour depends on how juicy the courgettes are!Heat oil in a frying pan or wok, and when the oil is hot enough (test with a shred of courgette – it should sizzle instantly), drop small amounts carefully in – about a dessert spoon is enough  -much more and it wont cook in the middle.  I use my hands for this.As soon as they browned on one side, turn and fry until cooked on both sides. Lift out and drain on kitchen paper, whilst you cook the rest.

Serve with a cucumber raita or as a accompaniment to a curry.

pregnant pond

frogspawn 2017

The frog love in has been successful once more. This is the earliest to date, in the same pond, although only by one day:

2007 14/2
2008 8/2
2009 13/3
2010 21/3
2011 26/2
2012 25/2
2013 9/3
2014 18/2
2015 20/2
2016 02/2
2017 01/02

I really should do a graph some time..

no dig

31082842545_932e299d28_oI’m going to give a go at growing veg in a different way. Mostly, I  wanted to break the growing areas up into manageable bits.  It’s a visual trick really, but I figured it was all so much less daunting if you could see it as one small bed at a time, rather than a massive unmanageable area. OK so the beds aren’t that small but still…

31047076566_9cd547e6f9_o

With this in mind, I researched various gardening set ups and am planning on dabbling with the no-dig method.

I have always ignored it as a method, because  quite frankly the do-dig method works very well.  There I said it.  Furthermore, I’m going on to say both methods appear to work. Controversial of me, I know – as usually people have to choose a side and laugh at the other.  With the ‘old allotment boys’ laughing at the folk who “think they don’t have to do any work” and the no-dig gardeners rolling their eyes at the ‘old allotment boys’ and sighing “at what cost to the soil” and stating that the old method doesn’t work… and “why do work you don’t have to do?” and so on.

It’s ignorance that is the problem – no-dig doesn’t mean no work – seems to me there is a lot of time spent moving compost about and mulching and weeding.  And the digging method does work, because you know….people have been using it all this time. I really dislike the snorting and laughing at the other camp – it doesn’t matter – do whatever works for you. I particularly dislike being told by anyone without successful experience…

Anyways, most of my experience with veg growing has been by trial and error – this is true for most gardeners and different things will work with different climates and different soils etc.

As I read more about it, it turns out that some of the things we just naturally arrived  at doing, fit in with the no-dig way – for example I try to start as many plants as possible as modules in the greenhouse  – they just do better.   And I haven’t fed my tomato plants  in years … well.. forever. Because we always replenish the greenhouse with compost from the compost heap.  And as it goes I always put the wood ash from the fire on the heaps so there is no potash shortage, and have always had good tomato crops.  Also when adding compost to the veg beds before planting out the hungry plants – like squashes beans and sweetcorn, we have just added a layer of compost on top.  These are all part of the no-dig method, and I have been doing it all along.  Who knew.

There are lots of calls on my time in other areas of life, and a certain amount of stumbling about trying to find my feet in difficult times… so no promises. But these new beds are inspiring, and doing things differently suits.

31047053046_12a396ec53_o

So, it’s tweaking my veg growing habits into a slightly new but actually not that new way.  And venturing back out gradually, one smaller bed at a time.

and then…

…it all went wrong.

The day after my last post, the one with the happy family scene with frog biscuits… we lost himself.  Colin.

It’s been over seven months now. Please don’t think I am now ok. I don’t believe I will ever be ok, I’m just not going to talk about it here.  (I am talking about it elsewhere, and if you really want to know how that’s going, then drop me a message and I will give you a link)

So now, life is changing dramatically, and I don’t know which way we are going, and amongst everything else,  I pondered the blog and whether it was time to delete it.

But then something happened…someone (no one I know)  pinned a picture of mine on pinterest and it was this one14752907657_c85a71c5aa_c and when I clicked on it, and read the blog post it relates to, its just an ordinary day in August 2014, when we went to the beach.  A snapshot of our life.

And it struck me then, that it was brilliant. Our life was brilliant.

Other people climb mountains or visit iconic sites, but for us the adventure was  being self sufficient, self reliant… the journey was about learning new skills, the pleasure was having done it ourselves. We took time to enjoy the smaller but beautiful things, like breakfast on a sunny beach, a bonfire on a winters day, a home grown meal, watching shooting stars  lying on the loungers in the dark night garden, picking up beach glass……

but mostly…time…we took a lot of time to be together. I know that not everyone will understand, and I don’t care, because we did. We got it.

 

So no.. I’m not going to delete the blog , I’m going to leave it in place, holding the images and chatterings of  some of our time. And by and by I shall add to it; more of what we started.

 

leap year food

leap frog biscuits I’ve been researching, and the only leap year specific food I found was a South African pudding that looks suspiciously like queen of puddings, renamed.  What’s that all about? a once every four year day, and nothing special to celebrate it?  Well, what we say in this family is, if there isn’t a tradition in place that you like, make your own.  And so I give you:

leap day biscuits 

(A.K.A.  fennel shortbread)

225g salted butter

110g sugar

225g plain flour

110g corn flour

1 heaped teaspoon fennel seeds

green food colouring (optional)

Preheat the oven to 170 C/ 150 C Fan Prep some baking sheets with baking paper or the like

Cream the butter and sugar together and add the food colouring if using – I used 1 tsp of green and they only came out with a hint of green after baking, but I probably would just leave it out next time.

Add in the flours and fennel, mixing until you have a ball of dough. Roll out on a floured surface and cut out the shapes you desire. – I went for frogs because.. you know.. they leap?
besides which cutting out frogs means you can have something as mad as a box of frogs.

 

Bake for 15- 20 minuits. Allow to cool a little then finish of on a drying rack.

We shall have this biscuits after our main course of toad in the hole. More leap-minded food.

It’s such a slow, ongoing process, this home improvement thing,  particularly with other calls on our time – namely the sheep and chickens, work, wanting to go out cycling and other jollies, and dealing with serious health issues (himself – stable now).  However we have now made a bit more progress in our kitchen – the previously blanchmange pink alcove (was it a window or a chimney?) is now a mostly white alcove, sporting a new bespoke (we made it) free standing unit with reclaimed wood counter.

 

No mean feat.  The alcove had a huge layer of cement and many, many coats of gloss paint on it, all designed to hide the water feature behind…  The incredible damp was dried out, the mud removed and  the stonework repointed, the original brick hearth was found – yes it was a chimney – the original one we assume since the kitchen has another one, complete with the remains of a (sort of ) filled in bread oven, and a lot of soot. The chimney had to be insulated and capped off  – more so than the previous owners efforts with a plank and a bit of fibreboard (no wonder there were so many drafts).

IMG_3787

a delicious combo of horrid pink and horrid damp

 

We had a bit of a break then, re the health issues and a think about what we are doing, decided we like what we are doing, and picked up home improving again.

Just before Christmas the aforementioned water feature made an appearance.  It turns out if the gutter becomes blocked, the rainwater overflows and pours directly into our house wall – the walls being somewhat not straight – and the water turns up as a mini waterfall in the kitchen at the back of the alcove – hence the slight yellowing of the clay paint.  This has been going on for decades, hidden behind the cement and gloss paint barrier.  So we shall solve this problem from the outside and repaint then.

IMG_4941

reclaimed wood, diverted from the log pile

And now we have a nice open fronted unit – open so the damp can continue to dry out, and I have put my nicer pans there (the more disgraceful ones can hide in a cupboard). I love the counter – made from reclaimed wood from a packing crate.  It looks shiny as I have just treated it with Danish oil, with built in wood stain.