Monthly Archives: October 2013

Toasted marshmallows

Fire had a couple of days of not playing ball so I’m ashamed to say I went to sainsburys to pick up some firefighters and they really did the trick as you can see!

With the sadness the last couple of days of not being able to toast marshmallows, as soon as the flames were billowing the kids got on with it and loved their Sunday evening in front of the fire!

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What a day!

So today has been a bit of a long one, I’ve been quiet for a few days I know but I’m desperately trying to get the fire up together. It is now working but I still need to finishing chiseling away the rest of the plaster so we have a bare brick chimney breast! I also need to get a grate in our dining room and do a bit my chiselling there too! But it’s working well I say that as I’ve just sat down with a fire not ablaze because the coal I bought today isn’t playing ball. I thought I’d get some coal to tide as over until we get a good quantity of wood together. And I have been told coal burns slower! Well at the moment it’s not burning at all so I would call that a stop rather than a slow down. My husband has gone to football and I really don’t want to be the helpless wife not able to light a simple fire and waiting here until he gets home to sort it out. Ill take a break while I write this and reevaluate!

Today started with my normal early morning routine of getting our birds out, feeding, checking for any problems and ensuring they are secure. This morning was amusing for me, Bauble my boy turkey was quite upset with Basil my boy bird. They were having a bit of a set too with feathers ruffling up and almost sparring with one another. I think it was a case of ‘my willy is bigger than yours’ and now Bauble is a rather well built turkey, Basil feels emasculated! Jeremy the duck however is concerned at all but he has Jemima all to himself so I think he is more than happy with his lot. They settled down, I gave them their pellets, their leftovers and some veg and off I went.

After breakfast and my eldest making some shortbread it was time to do some shopping, b&q and west midland farmers with my three monkeys in tow. You can only imagine what a long day it has been!

However I chose my slabs, picked up my compost. Oh the compost now that was a funny story. There was nobody in the yard to help so I thought I’d get them in the trolley myself. Two bags 125 litres a bag but I sort of threw them onto the trolley, paid and went out to the car. Whilst out there a rather young man came over and offered me some help putting them in the car. I accepted even though I wondered how he thought I’d got them this far. He heaved and hoed, puffed and panted and made some incredibly groaning noises attempting to get the one bag into my car, or the work horse as its recently become affectionately known. Behind him I was stood with the other bag resting on my foot. He stepped back and I threw the other bag up into the boot with one very swift motion if I so say so myself, not bad for someone of only a petite 5’1. He turned to me and said ‘you didn’t really need me did you?’ So like Basil he is emasculated too, I didn’t tell him this obviously, I can’t see comparing him to my wimpy boy chicken would possibly help this situation.

So off I drove to my next stop sainsburys, never a easy place to deal with, with three kids in tow. On the way I reminded the kids they would have a few jobs to do when they got back to which Isabella ranted ‘I’m the only one of all my friends that has to do jobs’ I simply responded ‘its good to be different’. Seriously though do no other parents give their children chores? Am I they only one left? I can’t believe it and if it is true more fool the parents. I’m nobodies slave, we are a team. We collectively make the mess therefore we collectively clear it up. Don’t get me wrong I don’t send them up my chimney, although to save the £50 I shelled out yesterday this could be a possibility, lol! Kidding really!

Sainsburys was ok, quite busy and my littlest one decided to have a clingy moment which made packing difficult.

The good thing is we survived our outings in one piece and I managed to make my £100 shopping stretch the shopping, the coal and the compost!
I’m a bargain hunter and will cut out where necessary to be able to spend somewhere else. So I now have 60 kilos of coal that at the moment I cannot get to burn, any suggestions?

When I returned, Isabella was nagging me about twig collecting. Daddy had mentioned before we could go over the park and collect wood for the fire and now all she can think about is doing this. She is a lot like me in that respect and amused by the simple things in life.

I went out to build up my herb garden, throw the new compost in and plant the half dead bargain plants I got from high field. I buy many of my plants half dead, end of season and without blowing my own trumpet I’m pleased to say I’ve not had one failure. If you take one thing away from this then remember to wait for your plants. Buy end of season and you will find that £4 herbaceous for your border down to 20p. Also buy seeds rather than plants. Yes it’s more time but so much less money. And if you have friends that fancy trying their hands at seed sowing, buy different seeds and split them all up between you. You save an absolute fortune. My mission this year was to redo my garden for free and I’ve not done bad. I was bought some plants for my birthday, I spent a couple of quid at high field and bought compost but other than that pretty much all free. Bricks and bird houses from free cycle, screen and wood for fencing from my friends shed, already had roses and there would loads of slabs in the garden. Still work to be done and some of it will cost, for example the gravel but I’m doing well so far.

So off we went stick collecting. Can I just say to any of you that have an open fire this is such a fun afternoon out, my three kids loved it and it cost me nothing at all and wore the baby out ready for bed this evening.

So baby in bed, awaiting the return of my husband and the other two snuggles under blanket with me watching My dog Skip. Seems pretty good so I’m going to get back to my hot chocolate and go have a serious talk with my fire!

The new fire is here and I miss my grandad!

When we moved into our house the people before had closed off the lovely fireplace and put a horrid gas fire in place. It really is awful, I don’t think I can even give it away. Anyway we have now decided to open up both fireplaces so the gas engineer will be here Wednesday to remove them and we will be replacing with open fires, I cannot wait! I’ve picked up a posh looking grate for the living room today from a gentleman selling on eBay. I was quite proud of myself because I don’t really use eBay! The Luddite in me stresses about it, money transferring via computer, meeting strange people to pick things up etc.. However after making myself realise its really no different than buying in the paper or picking something up from free cycle I bit the bullet and made an offer on this fire which was accepted! It’s a lovely looking fire (pictures will follow over next day or so) and it has the bonus of the heat reflective concrete slab at the back. The theory apparently being that it directs heat back into the room. Apparently wood burners are more cost effective because they don’t allow heat to escape up the chimney. However I will point out I’ve only heard this theory from those who sell and/or fit wood burners so perhaps a little biased?

Anyway open fires have stood the test of time and it puts me another step closer to my self sufficiency lifestyle. Not only the heat aspect but I can’t wait to cook some jacket potatoes on the open fire on bonfire night!

Hopefully it will significantly reduce our heating bills! I have access to free wood will have two chimneys with a fire so house should be lovely and toasty!

Today I spoke to my grandad. My grandad is nearly 88 and not enjoying the best of health these days which is quite a trying time for him as he has always been an active man. He is quite old school so the man goes out to work and brings the bacon home so to speak and the lady stays home but he appears to have accepted that isn’t how people live today. I rang him to talk about my allotment which again being old school the sight of me in wellies with a spade had him in hysterics. It was lovely to hear as prior to this he had sounded very down and fed up with his current situation. I should explain he lives around 250 miles away and I’ve not seen him in 8 years because the trek with small children and often a job and all the day to day things just hasn’t been possible. A feeble excuse I know as 250 miles is perfectly drivable but it takes 4/5 hours so hardly day trip. Another feeble excuse but the years just fly by and suddenly you sit down and realise quite how long it’s been. This saddens me as I know he’s quite ill now and I kind of feel I’ve missed the boat a bit. He hasn’t seen two of my children, he moved over there when I was a baby so didn’t really watch me grow up and I feel now its too little too late. I rang him today because I had been out in my garden cleaning out my chickens and putting down grass seed and just thought of him. He loved his garden and held down two allotments. At that moment pottering in my garden I wanted to tell him what I’d been up to and his love for gardening hasn’t finished with him, I absolutely love it. He seemed so proud of me, all be it laughed at the thought of me digging and putting in potatoes! He told me what he used to grow and how fed up he was that his garden is so out of control because his knees and back don’t allow him to keep it up together. He told me how he had some gardening books that are many years old that he would give to my uncle to pass to me when he was next around. I’m not ashamed to say I shed a little tear when we said our goodbyes

The writer in me

I have been writing for many years, ever since I can remember. It has often been said by my parents I was born with a pencil in hand and ideas flowing off the page. Quite typical for me when it comes to writing I have loads of ideas, my imagination runs wild, I have at least 20 story ideas in my head right now and an endless supply of pretty notebooks. I love pretty notebooks, the only issue being I forgot which notebook is for what. I strive to be organised and have a notebook for each project, idea etc but the truth be known I rarely have the time or inclination. I am so organised with my home life and now my work life, my social life and free time I want to enjoy. And how can writing be creative if its so stringently organised?

My primary school teacher Mr Lucas attempted to get me organised. He said the issue he has wasn’t my writing as such, I wrote loads, I would come up with amazing stories however they were often disorganised. By this he meant because my brain was always thinking a paragraph ahead my sentence structure would suffer. I’d insert words from the next paragraph into the paragraph I was writing, I would start one sentence and finish another. To combat this he asked me to bring my work to him after every sentence. The idea being if I only had one sentence to think about I would slow down. It was a great idea but probably not very practical. In 1986 class sizes were smaller however I doubt he had that much time to do this full time. So as soon as this stopped I reverted back.
I’ve got better as years have gone by but I still have to edit heavily and find silly silly mistakes. My spelling is impeccable however! But I do go off into my world and just write and write and sometimes lose what I’m writing.
I’ve even written a sentence asleep. It didn’t make sense but I had been writing I must have dozed and then woke up to find 6 words on the page! You may say this isn’t possible but I think my brain just takes a while to switch off which is possibly why I’m often still awake into the early hours reading or planning my next project or just sat with my thoughts running through my head and wondering what to do with them.

Anyway where were we? This is a habit of mine having to go back and see where I started so I can finish that story after the one I’ve diverted too!

Yes my pretty notebooks. Currently I would say I have 30, I am, this week going to organise them and label them and actually use them. My other issue being I ran out of time to write in them. This is why I finally decided to embrace change and get into blogging. I’m not one for technology, my husband affectionately calls me a Luddite. But I love pencils and notebooks, I love proper books and I love listening to a good record, nothing else crackles the same!

However the positive outcome of blogging is its got me regularly writing, I actually think after four posts I’m addicted. As soon as something happens I want to blog it and work out how I can link it to my self sufficiency theme.

Entirely by accident I have discovered the iPhone does an app. I’ve had this phone for a while, nearly a year in fact and I still don’t really use much of it! But my laptop is broken and we are borrowing one which is quite slow so I thought I could possibly use WordPress on my phone through the Internet. Low and behold I googled it and it pointed me towards an app. All I had to do was install it (and remember my password which led to me spending far too much time trying to work out how to reset the password I didn’t realise I had). So now I think it will be a worse obsession because I can nip into my blog and update, add a page, a photo. I won’t need to constantly load up the laptop which has possibly put me off before. So there you go I’ve said it, I’m actually impressed with this technology and its actually going to make my writing self write.

So when I start NaNoWriMo in a couple of weeks as well as my self sufficiency updates ill be posting word count updates. I have a type if story in mind. I want to write something historical, possibly wartime England, not actually got a specific idea yet but going to brain storm next week with some history books in hand in the hope ill have that eureka moment.

Watch this space!

Aarrggghhhhhhh hanging clothes isn’t rocket science

So I’ve finished work for the weekend. Was a tough shift, well not tough because I did so much yesterday so was really ahead of myself but I had to do a mega clear up. That’s not too bad you might say but actually it’s a lot harder than you can ever imagine. Two and a half hours of crawling round floors picking up clothes and hangers, re-hanging clothes, finding shoes lost partners, matching clothes sets back up, picking up oddments of paper, size tags, receipts, odd socks and gloves. You wouldn’t believe what you find crawling around under clothes.

Now I’m not a clothes shopping sort of girl but for all you shopaholics out there please note it is ok to re-hang clothes once you have tried them off, looked at them, felt the fabric etc etc.. In fact I have re-hung around 3000 clothes overnight and my husband will vouch for the fact I am alive and kicking, all be it a bit tired, I am in no way traumatised by such an event. So try it today, just hang one thing see how it feels, take that step and who knows next time you maybe able to re-hang everything you pick up when you are wandering around. And if you do fine this emotionally traumatic I have a number for a fantastic therapist!

Right will be back later after a sleep and have a plan formulated starting with fig jam! Will share the recipe later!