Sunday, 28 December 2014

Quick update and a question for you.

Thank you all so much for your good wishes and comments on my last post.
Welcome to Frugal in Essex, Sara and Ist Man on the follower bar and Lisa and Barbara on Blog lovin
 We've had the first proper winter here, with a goodly fall of snow on boxing day and freezing temperatures since, so that the slow is still with us. D. has been quite unwell with a chest infection and a dose of the Christmas lurgy that everyone (apart from me) seems to have this year.. I have been bringing in wood for the fire and the bonus of the snow is that I have bought it to the house from the log pile on a sledge!! I feel like Laura Ingalls Wilder in "The Long Winter".
I won't bore you with a list of the presents I received. I am sure each will make an appearance over the next few weeks in their turn. The present I am playing with today is the sewing machine that my daughters and granddaughter have bought me between them. It's a Brother and can be carried around, Unlike my mother's machine which is set into a table,(I had this machine serviced a year ago and it still isn't  too reliable) I also have my trusty treadle which I love. This new little number does all sorts of things. I suspect that they are also trying to encourage me to to start up a sewing group in the village hall and I would be able to take my new machine along. Crafty of them in more ways than one!
I also won't bore you with a list of the leftovers that I had such fun processing yesterday. Suffice to say that there were plenty and several meals are now in the fridge or freezer to help us through January.

Three old people in the village have died. over the last month and this makes me feel mortal! I have been thinking of what will happen when my time comes. Maudlin I know.
My youngest daughter has taken up sewing again (she is a very good machine sewer) after helping her daughter with my "surprise" quilt (Christmas present) and realised that much of her sewing equipment was missing, When her daughter told me this I started to collect equipment for her and put them in a tin for a Christmas present. One of the items I put in the tin was my mother's thimble . This thimble's value is purely sentimental. I tied a little label  with my mother's name written on it and when YD discovered this she burst into tears. (she and her sister adored my mother)
I have one or two little mementos belonging to my mother and my grand mother (none of which has any monetary value). So my question is this... should I pass these bits and bobs onto my daughters now while I have the pleasure of giving them and passing on the stories that go with them? Or should I leave them as they are and they will find them when the black rabbit has called for me?
 Over to you.

PS The hens have started to lay again. Hurrah!

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

A Peaceful Christmas to you

Hello Dear Bloggy Friends
Time marches on and there appears to be little left that could be called spare before Christmas day. So I will post my good wishes to you while I can.
Above all I wish you a peaceful Christmas. Not peaceful as in quiet (unless that is what you prefer) With 16 for lunch and another 12 joining us in the evening our house will hardly be quiet, but I hope it is peaceful and not quarrelsome! I always feel lucky to have a family that gets on well together and understands and respects their differences. (When I worked for Social Services many families feared Christmas and not without reason)
 The beds are all made, though there is still the vacuuming and a quick wipe round to be done.  I will prep the veg tomorrow afternoon, as from tomorrow teatime we are either visiting or being visited.
 Whatever isn't done by tomorrow teatime will not get done, Those who will spend Christmas with us are either family or friends so close that we think of them as family and I don't need to impress them do I? They all muck in anyway!

 Have a wonderful time in whatever way suits you and makes you happy.

Love Gill x

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Last Santa trip

Here I am again
Welcome new followers on Bloglovin.
   We decided that the walls in the large lounge needed washing before we hung any cards or lights up. I know Weaver understands and they REALLY needed doing. We have an open fire in this room and the walls are painted rough Derbyshire stone. Of course it wasn't as easy as a quick wash and they still looked dirty so we ended up painting the walls ! Which of course meant that the the ceiling had to be painted too, the bookshelves had to be emptied and the curtains down and washed once down. No such thing as a quick job eh? This "little" job has successfully got rid of 5 days which were put aside for other things..... mucking out the hen houses, moving the logs that have been dumped in a car parking space and the wood chippings that had been dumped into the other; getting the bedrooms ready for the family; composing, printing out and delivering  the Civic Society letters etc etc. Hey Ho, back on course now.
 We will get little done today as D. is Santa again.. Even though it has been pretty time consuming he has enjoyed it and the feedback from the families has been great. For £8.00 a child gets an hour trip on the canal boat with  biscuits, mince pies stollen etc at each table. There is juice and tea, coffee or mulled cider for mums and dads (and grandads and grandmas) carols are sung by all and of course  there is an audience with Santa in the galley with a small present. Towards the end of the trip Santa leaves his galley and mixes with the children and there is another opportunity for a photo shoot.
Happy times
 The downside is that Santa has put his hip out and will probably need winching onto the boat!
 I'm off now to play at being an elf. Back soon

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Blog search keywords and Santa

Hello Frugellers!
Thanks for your comments on my game pie recipe.
Today a friend called for coffee. He had been visiting a friend who has an estate and who gave him a brace of pheasants and a brace of grouse which he thought we might like. I have hung them outside until I can organise myself to process them. MORE Game Pie anyone?
 Here is a picture of my own tame Santa, sat in his galley on the canal boat on Sunday. Do you like his little stove ? He definitely had the warmest spot on the boat.

Like many of you I'm sure, I frequently look at the "stats" for my blog. I like to see what part of the world people come from, which blogs people visit me from and the searches they use to find me. The search keywords are usually Frugal; Derbyshire; Frugal in Suffolk etc. A couple of days ago however I had a few new ones One was a nasty sentence about a well known blogger and one was "youngest naked"  and another was "alert.cofrugal"  I was both intrigued and not a little cautious when I Googled each set of keywords to see what the connection was with my blog.
 Well I still don't know about the "youngest naked". some of the entries were innocuous and referred to people being naked in the bible, some about the naked earth. One or two were purporting to be about peoples sons and daughters in the bath etc- I wasn't too sure about these and couldn't help wondering if they were veiled hooks to pedophile sites. I certainly wasn't going to open them. Yes I know I have a suspicious mind and have good reason to. I could see no links to my blog or anything remotely like it, so what was that about then ?!
 I could see the reason for the link to the nasty sentence as there were words in the blog that mirror the stuff I talk about. Of course, I had to open this one... Crikey! A blogger from the states was having a rant about an English blogger and the use of a word in her blog. As a bye she was telling her readers that things are so bad in England that we all have to wear blankets around our knees as we can't afford heating, we live in poverty and squalour and are in great financial trouble, that English food sucks and that there is no wonder we have so many problems with immigrants and gays. Phew! Anyone who attempted to put another view or explanation was given short shrift, with her becoming increasingly unpleasant and rude with each commenter that didn't agree with her. She eventually said that she was not going to publish any more comments and proceeded to make several more comments herself (an original way to ensure that she is not going to be argued with!) At the foot of her blog she states " Comments are welcome, Abusive or negative ones are not" Right!
 So world wide friends I have to tell you (yes I know you know but I'm on a roll!) that England isn't doing any worse than most other countries. The food can be exceptional or poor as in other countries. While many people do struggle to heat their homes, many of the frugal bloggers restrict their heating as a lifestyle choice not a necessity because they are saving, over paying the mortgage or care about the over-use of fossil fuels. As for living in squalor...all the pictures I see of bloggers homes show pristine, clean, tidy rooms. If she wants to see untidy squalor she'll have to wait until I load a pic of my house !!
 Oh yes I Googled the third keyword and still have absolutely no idea what the link is to my blog. As some say "Go figure!!!
 All for now.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Give "em a recipe

   My youngest daughter says I am getting a bit too political and to "give 'em a recipe !"
So I stuck my bottom lip out and stamped my foot because I have been enjoying the discussions, then Sol asked for my game pie recipe and I thought "Oh alright then"
 It's rather difficult to give recipe for this as it rather depends on what game I have collected, or more usually been given.
It is not unusual for me to come home from shopping to find half a dozen pigeon  on my door step. My godson often comes across a pheasant or two when clearing and cutting wood for people and last week my YD's next door neighbour gave her a couple of grouse as "your mother might like these" All this bounty I process by just cutting out the breasts and legs as I rarely have the time or inclination to pluck the little critters. I label these bits of meat and freeze them. I always have rabbit in the freezer  and the occasional cockerel and by Christmas I will have the makings of a game pie. As you all probably know all those meats are quite dry so I always add some belly pork and some bacon if I have it.
Turn the oven on to 200 degrees
Rough mince or finely chop the meats , weighing about a pound, and place into a bowl. Add salt and pepper, a sprinkle of dried thyme and a scant teaspoon of mace or nutmeg if you haven't got mace. Look at the mixture and gauge what size tin you will need ( I quite like to use a shallower tin than that which I use for pork pie)
Some people add Allspice, juniper berries or onion too, it's up to you really.
Now make the pastry
This a a hot water crust pastry, such as for pork pies (sorry if I'm insulting your intelligence but not everybody might know!) Shortcrust or flakey pastry would be cooked before this filling.
You will need
I lb Plain Flour
2 teaspoons salt
4 ounces Lard
Third of a pint of water
one egg
Put the flour and salt into a bowl
Melt the lard and water and bring to the boil. Pour immediately into the flour mixture. Mix this as quickly as you can. It should form a sort of paste ball. Working as quickly as possible, turn this onto a floured board and  knead until really smooth. take care the dough is hot! and needs to be kept as warm as possible or it becomes less pliable.. Put a quarter aside for the top of the pie(if it is a to be a deep pie or one third if it is to be a shallow one) keeping it warm. Mould the rest of the pastry into the tin, try to make the sides and bottom of equal thickness. Now add the filling, pressing it down into the pastry case. Roll out the smaller piece of pastry to cover the pie, pinching the edges together, you can do a fluted edge with scissors and add some pastry leaves to decorate if you want (not compulsory). Make a hole in the middle of the pie and brush the pie with egg.
Place in the hot oven and cook for 20 minutes. Turn the oven down to 150o and cook for a further hour and a half.
If this were a pork pie I would add the jelly here, but I never do with a game pie.
Allow to cool before removing from the tin.
Hope this has all made sense. If not just comment and I will explain further.

Tomorrow my husband carries out his first Santa appointment of 2014. The narrow boat owned by The Friends of  Cromford Canal will make three trips on the canal, full of children. The first trip is at 11 o'clock. His "Reds" are hung up and he is raring to go (not really, he's not in the swing yet so he is a little nervous) He'll be back to his Ho Ho Ho self after a few minutes. he will repeat these three trips over the next three Sundays.Phew! I shall go along as his helper and chaperone.

All for now
Thanks to those who commented on my last post

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Are you ready to fill your trolley for Christmas?

 Hello All me again. It has been a fortnight  since my last post..where did the time go?!

Welcome to a new follower on bloglovin, I'm afraid I can't tell who it is as everything has disappeared apart from the numbers tally at the top of the page! I do know that a new follower on the side bar is Irene. so a warm welcome to you too from a cold frosty and sunny Derbyshire.

Many thanks to all you good people who have commented on my last post with your interesting views.
Sol and Pam were commenting about full trolleys. The trolleys they were talking about were full of "coupon shopping."  Will someone do a post about that or at least tell me all about it ?

Coincidentally I've been thinking about full trolleys and had just started to think  about this post.
 The full trolleys I've been thinking about are not the full trolleys of mums with children, who shop for the whole week,(with luck without their help because you know how that adds to your trolley!) No the picture in my mind is the supermarket "Christmas Trolley"

 YD and I went present shopping last Friday. We have been saving up all year. We put £5.00 aside each week, which our friend C.  looks after for us. YGD and GD and C. are also in the scheme which we call "The Christmas Club" Last week she took the money out the the building society account and we were presented with our envelopes of cash. This means we can shop anywhere we like.. markets, street traders, farm shops as well as conventional shops.  Some crafting and a spot of ebay/ amazon shopping should see the many presents we give sorted. And I am sure that all the items combined would fill a trolley. However, this isn't the full Christmas trolley I am picturing.
No, firstly, it is the FOOD trolley
Firstly, let me say that I know that if you are working full time it can be difficult to spread your shopping out over a period of time and that Christmas can suddenly be there biting you on the bum.
 Until I retired five years ago I worked full time, ran a smallholding, supported D. with the B&B and our shared lives guys and my daughter with her children. So I do know what it is like to fit shopping in around earning a living!!
The Christmas trolley is quite another animal! it is piled high with foodstuffs (some couples even have a trolley each) Crisps and stollen, Christmas cake and mince pies and Christmas pudding and brandy butter, several alternative puddings for those that don't like Christmas pudding. - ice cream and cheesecake, trifle and chocolate torte, chocolates and tins of biscuits and sweets, pickles, nuts and several types of savory crackers, dried fruits and we haven't seen any real food yet - maybe that's in the second trolley. When you engage these shoppers in conversation (which I can't resist!) it usually transpires that there are eight of them for Christmas dinner at theirs' and that's it! Just how much food can eight people eat in one day? If they have folk staying over they have often planned for a smoked salmon and scrambled eggs breakfast with bucks fizz, followed by a four course lunch/tea and then there is supper and the nibbles. It's like an "All you can eat of the most expensive food" marathon. With the associated stress of the juggling act that is cooking an elaborate meal.
Which brings us to another trolley....
 The Christmas STUFF Trolley
If you are reading a blog with Frugal in the title it is probable that you will be using the Christmas decorations that you used last year (and many years before that) with the addition of some made by the grandchildren or that you have crafted from material from your stash. You will also have bought out the "Christmas tablecloth and napkins" You may have gone for a walk with the dogs and bought back some holly and yew and fir cones to "Deck the Halls" In will come the fir tree you keep in a pot outside and that gets bigger each year until it has to be planted in the garden, or the artificial tree from the loft, or maybe you paint branches to hang  your decorations on.
Mmmm.... not the full trolley brigade. They have to change the colour scheme each year, from tree to decorations to the colour-schemed "Christmas table" This may include a whole new set of cutlery and crockery, napkins and rings, centre pieces and candles, all must match in this years' latest colour that the shops have brain-washed the Christmas Stuff shopper into needing. (I noticed a lot of pale aqua this year, I wonder if that is the latest Christmas colour?)
 I have just touched on the contents of these trolleys  and I do hope you can add to these.
Or shoot me down in flames!
 I'm sounding like I don't like Christmas or that we are going to sit in our cold house with a blanket around our knees eating stew and dumplings on our own because we are too tight to spend anything. Not so!
This is the picture I posted last year of Christmas lunch at our house.....
It will be the same this year.
In  the early evening we will push one of the tables back (return the other to another room) and put a  buffet out that will stay there all evening as my sister and nephews and their families and random friends arrive. (open house.. pop in if you are passing, but if you want to stay over you may need to share a bed or sleep on a sofa!)
All for now.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Price War..Good or Bad?

I see that Asda is ramping up the price war.
In the short term this has to be good for those of us who have a limited income. But long term?
Rest assured that the price cuts will not be taken by the supermarkets, they will betaken by the farmers, growers and producers.
 Already the price war over milk has led many farmers to the brink of bankruptcy. Many have just given up as it is not sustainable as they are earning, in real terms, about £2.00 an hour. Is this what we want ?Who wants to earn £2.00 an hour to work high days and holidays, weekends evenings and early morning 365 days a year?   Have we got so obsessed with being frugal that we are now just plain selfish and mean, not caring about the impact of us grabbing yet another bargain?
Nobody is worse than I at grabbing a bargain. if you will read my last post I have even posted a picture of three really cheap products I bought the other day. - Sugar, Veggie Oxo and toothpaste (with a free toothbrush)  I know next to nothing about how or where the latter two are made and where, but I do know that half of the sugar we use is now produced in this country ..Hurrah!...but are we now squeazing these farmers to take less and less profit so that supermarkets can sell cheap, while not loosing themselves? How long will these farmers consider it worth their while ?
Will (cheap or otherwise) imports be the answer? Do we want to become dependent on other countries for products over which we have no control, either for quality, availability or price? As the world struggles to feed an ever-growing population where will it leave us if these producers realise that they need to feed their own?
 Just a few thoughts. Gosh I've really "got it on me" this week haven't I?!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Update on the week and a pic of the Grandson!

 Hello Fellow Frugellers
Hello to Retireewannabe on the Follower bar I have been reading you blog for a little while now I should go over there and click on too. I see I have a couple of new followers on Blog lovin, but the list of names have been juggled, so I cannot work out who they are. You are welcome non-the-less.

This is the post I started before I "went off on one" and wrote about Guns. Thank you for all the thought provoking posts, which I am determined to answer ( apart from two that seemed to miss the point)

To update you on the past week
. My nephew. P's funeral was last Thursday. What a huge turnout. The firm he worked for closed the factory and several cars and a coach all full of people he worked with attended. The room was packed to bursting, with rows of people standing. What a send off! His children read a poem together, his wife said a few words and his two brothers gave a lovely warm speech that made us laugh and cry in equal measure. We sang "Dear Lord and Father of Mankind" Which our family has at weddings and funerals alike and "O love that will not let me go" which no one  knew the tune to and had such high notes that non of us could sing. Afterwards everyone went to a local hotel and reminisced and gossiped generally. My eldest daughter and my sister's youngest son had been to the hotel in the morning and put up lots of pictures of P. around the room, which were really nice to look at.

We returned home in the late afternoon, hoping that the fox hadn't spotted we were out, put the chickens to bed and raced round to the village hall in time to help set up for the Remembrance Evening. This too was very well attended. The Mayor and Mayoress of the nearest town turned up and thanked me for inviting them. Which was nice as we didn't ! but it was good to see them and the older residents were pleased at their attendance.
 Everyone had  a nice time, staying on after the little service for tea and cakes and a look at the histories we are collecting on each person named on the memorial.
Finally, everyone left, we cleared up and went home, totally Kn******d and emotionally drained.
Good day though!

A few random pics for you now...
Can you see the visitor to our beehives? He doesn't appear to have lady friend and our cockerel keeps eyeing him up in case the pheasant is considering a cross species coupling !
 Thought I would share these bargains with you... from Poundstretcher and B&M
 18 veggie cubes for 89p from B&M and 1kg sugar and a large tube of toothpaste for 49p each.. and you get a free tooth brush as well. I bought quite a few bags of the sugar for the store cupboard and a years supply of toothpaste.
My daughter considers this the saddest pic I have shown yet!

On Sunday the family were here for tea  including GS who is usually at work .  How times change.. After nearly two years working as a barman in a small village pub, where everyone pulls their weight to make a pub run smoothly, here he is... Seeing some pots needed washing,, he rolls up his sleeves and sets to.! GS is a great individual, who for many years has struggled to see the world as others do, struggled with social occasions and struggled to work in a team.( He has more than a passing resemblance to Sheldon from the Big bang theory in many ways !) Now look at him.  We are so proud of him!!
Enough for tonight.
 Thanks to Sue  (SSS) for the heads up on the "Secrets of the Castle " Series with Ruth Goodman et al on TV tonight. I have put it on to series record. Hope it's a good one.
Night All

Monday, 17 November 2014

Would YOU use a gun?

Hello All
 I was going to write about all sorts of frugelly things and tell you about my week, but have postponed that until tomorrow(?) as I feel inspired the talk about something different.

Like many of you British smallholders I follow several American/Canadian Homesteaders. I love to read about the climate extremes, about living off-grid, the crops they grow and many other subjects.
 A few months ago I joined the facebook page Farm-chat Girls ( yes I KNOW I'm not a girl, but I used to be and the term "Girl" tends to be used pretty loosely on this page). Anyway, back to my point. I usually find much to relate to and agree with, but last week there was a post by a homesteader, who asked if others thought she was paranoid and overly protective because she used a gun and had fences around her property to keep people out. She had many replies from women who agreed wholeheartedly, who don't want anyone on their property at all, Don't trust the incomers from the towns, which are getting closer to them , Nor being happy about being on their own in the remote places that they have chosen to live in because they are remote and they don't like people. They tell of putting up signs saying trespassers will be shot, fix it so that the meters are read from outside the property or electronically so that even the meter man  needn't access the property.. And so on.... I stuck my head above the parapet and said that my doors and gates were open and the gates that were closed were to keep sheep in and dogs from going on the road. (and that our gas man was a good bloke and actually came into the house to read the meter) A couple replied to my comment, one of which told me that she had had a large amount of  expensive fencing stolen and so didn't feel she could trust anybody and needed to defend her property..
I didn't keep the conversation going as I didn't want to set off a major argument, but I wanted to say that shooting someone because they stole from you or trespassed on your property, seems a little extreme. ( not to mention that you would be locked up in this country if you did!)
 Not that they want me to, but I felt rather sorry for these women, who seem to live in fear, distrust and feel they don't need their fellow man. These women are all Practicing Christians. You might ask where that comes in the equation and normally for me it wouldn't, but their references to the bible, prayer, thanksgiving etc. positively litter most of the posts. Killing people is not something the God I was taught about would have been happy with. I need to honest here and say that I am no longer a Christian, nor a believer in God-who-made-all, but do accept that others do and respect this.

 What do you think ? Am I naive ? Insensitive? Plain wrong?
 I'd love to hear, while almost fearful of your answers.

Hope there are not too many typos, but am in haste and  about to go out to listen to what the leader of the Green Party has to say. She is speaking in Belper tonight.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Four Fruit Marmalade

Hello All, been a few days again since my last post, but I have been really busy.

Today my eldest granddaughter has been here making more presents. She is perfectly capable of  cooking and sewing independently, but likes to have company and the occasional word of encouragement.
 She has been making red onion chutney, marmalade and progressing with one of the quilts she is making. She prepared the fruit for the marmalade yesterday and left it to soak in water overnight. Using a recipe from an old recipe book of mine.
She bought the ingredients from Asda. I never go to Asda, but am very impressed with the quality of the fruit she bought - Grapefruits, oranges and lemons, all very juicy and fresh. We decide to double up the recipe to ensure she had enough for the little jars she has bought from Ikea. In truth she thought one and a half  times the recipe would be enough and I thought we should double it up.
 As she progressed with the marmalade it looked as though she was right and we might need to put a few more jars in the oven to warm and then some..!!
 Here is the recipe (not the double-up one!)
2 grapefruits
4 sweet oranges
4 lemons
1 and a half pounds cooking apples
6lbs sugar
7 pints water
Wash the fruit, cut the citrus fruits in six downwards and slice these segments thinly, discarding the pips We cut out the thick pith from the grapefruit as it would have made the marmalade bitter   (No I don't put the pips in a muslin cloth to cook with the juice !) Peel, core and chop the apples and put these in a large bowl with the other fruits and the water, cover and leave overnight.
The next day, pour all into a preserving pan and simmer until reduced by about half and the fruit is soft and tender. While this is happening, put the sugar in an  oven proof dish or bowl and put  the oven to warm. When the juice is reduced add the warm sugar. Put clean jars in the warm oven.  Boil the mixture rapidly for about 10 mins and then  keep checking to setting point. Pour the marmalade  into warmed jars and cover.
We priced the ingredients which for double the amount in the above recipe was £9.30 ( we used our own apples, so no cost there) and the yield was 24 lbs  - More than we expected!

Here is the finished product.
Enough for all the hampers she is making and lots to spare. We will look out the marmalade cake recipe tomorrow!
While she was making the marmalade and she and I were sitting either side of the table doing some hand sewing of the quilt, the chutney was bubbling away and reducing until it was nice and gloopy and then put into warmed jars.
I have been trying the odd recipe out that fellow bloggers have been sharing. I hope to tell you how I got on with these in my next post. I hope I will be posting again soon, however I have another busy week with a Remembrance Evening hosted by our Civic Society next week, which entails quite a bit of organising and running around. When this week is over I hope to get stuck into tidying up the garden and some serious Christmas present making. I am SO behind with this this year.
All for now
before I go a warm welcome to Karyn on Blog lovin
Back Soon

Monday, 3 November 2014

Thank you

Hello Fellow Frugellers.
Firstly a big THANK YOU you for all your kind words of sympathy after my last post. The autopsy is tomorrow hopefully. As he didn't die at home, but in another city (where they were visiting his daughter at Uni) the next hurdle will be getting him home. Mind you the undertakers will take care of that and make it as stress free as possible I am sure. So we are just waiting on news so that we can move the official stuff  along for his wife and children.

On a much lighter note another big THANK YOU to the Weaver of Grass who posted some fabric to the "young quilters" that I wrote about on October (24th) They are absolutely delighted with them. It was so kind of her.

 Hope you like my new header picture, just a little premature, weather-wise I know. It is of our house, taken from the front  (bee) garden not last winter but the one before. I wonder if it will look like this again this winter?
  Off to tidy the kitchen table for the Civic Society Committee meeting.
Back Soon
And thank you again

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Good and bad news

Hello All
Sorry about the mess that is my blog. have tried to put a new header picture on and everything has gone wonky and I haven't had time to work out what has gone wrong.
The last couple of days have been frantic
The Exhibition this weekend has gone really well, with a good turn out, lots of interest and participation in the walks. representatives of  other groups wanting to be partners with us. Tea and cakes went well and made a bit of money for the society.

 Well that's the good news.

 All this has been overshadowed by the sudden death of my dear nephew. My sister's middle son, aged 47, died in bed on friday morning at his wife's side. Totally unexpected and we are all in shock. My sister's boys and my two daughters have always been extremely close. As children they ran as a pack and continue to be close and care about each other in their fourties. I feel for my sister and can't imagine how she must feel. All I can do is be there for her, her daughter in law, her sons and her grandchildren and of course for my girls who are incredibly upset.

 Enough for now
Back soon

Thursday, 30 October 2014


Hello Each
And Welcome Laurie on the follower bar and Jeanne and ?  on Blog lovin to Derbyshire Fugality!
Today I've gone all burgery. i.e Thinking about burgers.
Picking beans today I was checking how my butter beans are doing. They have been a little late coming, as have all my green beans.
The first pic shows the butter beans "Fagiolo di Spagna". The beans are filling up but not really drying yet and we are now worried that the frost may get them first. It is no use picking them too soon as they will not dry. All would not be lost if I had to pick them early as I would get large flagolet. However, I don't really want flagolet I want a dried bean that will keep throughout the winter and beyond, giving me next years seed too. I grow another white bean for drying too. This is Emergo ( Czar and Moonlight also give white beans) which is a white flowered runner bean (Czar and moonlight also give good white beans). These can be used as a runners (as indeed can the butter bean) but it also makes a passable dried white bean too.

On the right of the next picture are ready dried beans - Emergo to the right and butter bean top left. (smaller pod) To the left of the pic is a butter bean that will be used as a flagolet. As you see the Emergo have more, smaller beans.
Both are perfectly acceptable. So what to do with the beans? This brings us back to the start of this post....
Butter bean burgers.
Soak a couple of handfuls of dried beans overnight and then cook (without salt at this stage) in the slow cooker or on a low heat until just soft. Drain and chop coarsly and place into a bowl.
Saute a chopped onion and a clove of garlic in oil. add to the beans
Then add an egg
a couple of ounces of grated cheese
Breadcrumbs made from a stale slice of bread.
salt and pepper
Mix all together and form into burgers. You may want to roll them in flour or coat in breadcrumbs, but I don't.
Fry these in a (very) little oil.
This is a basic recipe. you might want to perk it up a bit with some chopped fresh chilli or any spice of your choosing. You can leave out the cheese too if you wish. If you haven't any dried beans use a standard tin of Butter beans.
Lentil Burgers
I gave the recipe for these last year, but don't know how to direct you to the recipe so I will repeat it here.
Cook 6 ounces of orange lentils in a pint of stock, made from 2 veg stock cubes. When they are soft drain them, squeazing as much water out as you can and place the lentils into a bowl.
Finely chop an onion, a carrot and a sick of celery and add to the lentils.
Add 2 ounces of porridge oats, garlic salt and salt and pepper. Mix and shape into four burgers.
Fry in a (very) little oil.
As with the butter bean burgers you can add extra spices to suit.
We tend to eat these burgers in the winter from our stocks, but they are also a great addition to a BBQ.
D. and I spun and jarred  the last of this years honey yesterday. What a good year it has been.
Lots of random misshapen veg in the slow cooker morphing into a chutney today, so things are starting to come together for winter.
I must now "Step Away From the Computer" and get some more work done on the boards for the weekend's Civic Society Exhibition. Lots to do still. It should be good though.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Young generation quilters

Hi All
Quick one tonight.
Today our eldest granddaughter and our goddaughter came here a for a sewing afternoon. They have been working together on some quilting. Their first go at it. They are making quilts for Christmas presents. Here they are in our biggest spare room tacking layers together...
And here they are fixing my walking foot to EGD's machine. This proved a little troublesome, but they finally got it right...
I really must get going on my Christmas present making, but I am still knee deep in produce from the garden and our Civic Society Exhibition is only a week away and I still have lots of baking to do and we are nowhere near having the exhibits ready.
 I'm sure it will all work out over the next week. It has to really.

 I noticed that some of my post views come from Twitter and I have no idea how, So I joined Twitter to find out and am non the wiser!

Thank you for the kind comments about my youngest granddaughter and my parsnip(!) in my last post. I will try to get back to frugaldom  in my next one.
Back soon

Wednesday, 22 October 2014


Evening All

A special Hello to Helena on Bloglovin

Tonight I am posting purely to show off !
I have just received the latest photographs of my beautiful youngest granddaughter. It was taken seven years after this one...
This is her first meeting, age two, with a four legged friend. She had just got off this donkey after a little ride around a small field while we were on holiday (that's not me holding her obviously!)

And now, seven years later,  with her pony......
And all dressed up.......
This child and her older cousins bring us such happiness.

And a bizarrely different brag.....
Pulled today to make some spicy soup and judged to be the smallest, before pulling. Goodness knows how big the others will be ! (the rule shows inches by the way)
Not the most beautiful parsnip, but still tender and sweet despite its size. It is now in the slow cooker with onions, carrots, celeriac, cumin, paprika and stock.
End of bragging!
Back soon

Monday, 20 October 2014


Hello again
I'm really pleased to welcome Cochranegirl on the follower bar and Chris on bloglovin.

Today has been a "leftover" day.
We had roast lamb yesterday. I always cook extra vegetables, but this time there was a little lamb left over too. I put some slices in the freezer with the leftover gravy to have another day with vegetables. The rest I pared off the bones. This yielded 8 ounces of meat. I minced this with an onion, a carrot , a thin slice of squash, some mushrooms and a clove of garlic. I then cleaned the mincer out with a crust of bread and added this, a spoonful of chutney, some chopped parsley and half an egg to the mix. I rolled the mix in seasoned flour and voila! Rissoles.

 I served these up with bubble and squeak - leftover potatoes and cabbage from yesterday and a couple of scallions from the bunch my friend gave me - Marmande tomatoes from the greenhouse and some of the mushrooms picked by my daughter and granddaughter
 I wonder why we don't have these more often as they were very tasty and can be made with whatever cold meat you have to hand. When I was little we had them often.

In case you think that this frugal( tight?) woman is going to waste half an egg. I haven't. I have mixed this with some milk  and will use it tomorrow when I make some fish cougons.

 We have just got back from a talk about William Jessop, Engineer. at our Canal Society and very interesting it was too.
 Hot milk and to bed methinks

Making ready

Hello All
 Welcome to Rose and Sam on the follower bar and Julie on blog lovin. Do join in the conversations and discussions (which can get rather interesting at times as my followers are interesting people!)

Usually we let the hens our of the orchard when the gardens are finished for the summer. We empty the greenhouse and leave it open for the chickens to use a clubhouse, where they gather to dustbath and have a bit of a chin wag, especially when it rains. In the gardens, we pull up the old plants, give it a bit of a weed, firm up the netting over the brassicas and then throw compost, muck and grass cuttings over the lot and let the hens out . They scratch about and aireate the grass cutting, eating the slug eggs and other critters while activating  the compost with their droppings. This is a time that we look forward to and is part of the cycle of our smallholding. However, this year the gardens are still producing and chickens don't carry little books identifying the difference between veggies and weeds.
 The greenhouse is still producing tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers  and in the garden we still have beetroot, courgettes, corn salad, lettuce, celeriac, beans and squash as well as the winter crops of parsnips, leeks, cabbage, brussels and kale which we expect to cover against the chickens.

 Last week I cooked a bacon joint in the slow cooker. it wasn't at all salty so I used the cooking liquid to make a lentil soup. I had made a large ratatouille too. this weekend I blitzted the remainder of this and added it to the remainder of the lentil soup and have frozen the result in individual servings in plastic pint glasses. EGD has already taken a couple away for her and her boyfriend's lunch today.

 One thing our chickens hate as much as rain is wind (it ruffles their feathers). and it looks like we are in for some doesn't it? The tail end of Hurricane Gonzalo is on it's way to us and should reach us as high winds.We always have candles and torches throughout the house and I just checked they were where we could find them as we can lose power around here when we get high winds
 D. has been clearing the barn gutters out today. Last time there was rain the ones facing the house overflowed, so up the ladder he went and found that the gutters  had been distorted by the wisteria. So a pruning job was needed and then the bracket thingys had to be adjusted. While he was having a "barny " time he checked the drains that go under the barn. All is now sorted in this corner of the smallholding and ready for winter. He will check on the other areas tomorrow.
Another job that needed doing with some urgency before any winds arrived was to move the swarm that we had we had collected and hived on the woodshed roof. We thought it might just be caught by a gust and dislodged. As we were going over to see our friends last night we planned to take it down from the roof, take it with us to our friends (four miles away) and leave  it there for a few days, returning it back to ours in the position we have made ready for it with our other hives. The hive was very heavy and it started to rain as we set up, but we persevered and got the job done. Here is a picture of the day we housed the swarm (July) Image the scene last night in the dark and the rain. D. up the ladder and me standing behind the smaller hive ready to receive the hive from him.

 Adam has been here his weekend and was in seventh heaven. Firstly  D. was cutting  and splitting some seasoned wood in the pile down the paddock and it needed ferrying to the house. Adam loves using the wheelbarrow so he has been barrowing  logs up the paddock and stacking them against the
alcove outside the lounge door. He didn't make too bad a job of stacking either. I only needed to tweak the position of a few logs when he wasn't looking.
Next , I fetched some cement from B&Q  and he was there at the car with the sacktruck before I was parked up, waiting to ferry the bags into the shed.
 The girls were here for tea yesterday. YGD was very excited as she had a present for me.... A huge bag of mushrooms! They were growing in a field at the stables where she keeps her pony and she and her mother had spent half an hour picking. Apparently they had not made a dent in the crop which was mammoth. Here is the mushroom party sorting out the bounty. Adam looks a little bemused doesn't he?

 We fried the really open ones and steamed the less open ones and put them all down  in the freezer. The just opened ones we have put on racks to dry and the button ones I have put in a paper  bag in the fridge to eat during the week. I'm not a great fan of mushrooms but can eat then when they are included in dishes like lasagna, D. on the other hand loves them in any way and out Eldest Granddaughter is a fan too, so they are very welcome.
 I made the baked apples that I mentioned couple of posts ago for pud.
With help from YGD I made a pound of shortcrust pastry and put in the fridge. We peeled and cored 8 large Jonogold apples
We then made a mixture of currants, sultanas cherries and brown sugar,  and a mixture of chopped hazel nuts and honey. We rolled out the pastry and cut eight circles round around a side plate and placed an apple in the middle of each round,  We put the fillings in the hole with a knob of butter on top and gathered the pastry up around the apple. We then turned the apples over so that the join was underneath and placed them on a floured dish . YGD cut a couple of leaves for each apple from the pastry scraps and placed these on top and sprinkled a little brown sugar on top.   They turned out very well and we served them with custard.
Enough for now. Bit of a random post today.
Back soon
Keep safe all

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Wood, munchings and apples

 Hello and welcome to Dani fro  Eco footprint South Africa and easy Stitcher on the follower bar and another follower on Blog lovin. I can't work out who you are.

This post will be of a lighter nature than the previous ones. and quite right too you might say. I think I might resurrect the subject of Child Labour another day when I'm up to it!.

We had most of this week planned but, as ever, it was not to be.
The central heating broke down. (pump ) The house is on total disarray while carpets have been rolled back and floor board lifted to get to the blasted thing. While doing this D. thought it was time that he replaced the three way valve that had been "iffy" for some time. All this has entailed me running from sewing room to cellar to corridor and back again.shouting "YES" or "NO" to questions and pushing buttons on request. Such Larks! Anyway all fixed now. I guess the most difficult bit was getting the parts, but D. ever-inventive sorted that out.
  We were offered two lots ( and I mean lots) of logs between a foot and six foot long and very thick, which we have collected in the rain and the dark as they had to be taken that day. Thank goodness for our trusty Berlingo. We were then told that there were some chippings for us if we took them away within three hours ( Berlingo and trailer this time) The trailer, which is not small was filled and two tonne bags of chippings were strapped on top of those.
The chippings are for the "Bee garden" at the bottom of the front garden, which we are making easier to maintain and access. Winter is the perfect time to do this when the bees aren't active. Mind you they have been flying in between the showers as it is not particularly cold and there is quite a lot of ivy flower around.
 It has been a good apple year for us this year, with the exception of the Russett. The Jonogold in particular has given a huge crop of very large eating apples.

 I have been looking at recipes for baked apples which don't involve dried fruits as half the family don't like raisins etc. Next time they are all here I shall bake some with dried fruit and some with ...Rolos!! Good idea eh? not mine. I googled it. If you have a favourite recipe for baked apples ( I will bake them in pastry) please share.
 Here is the crop from our oldest tree, which is proably 15 years old
I bucket of wormy ones had already been given to the chickens.
And here is the crop from the youngest tree (5 years), minus half a bucket still to be picked.
The green apples to the left are Bramleys.  I also put a vase of flowers there for you to see. These are the flowers of Jerusalem Artichoke. The stems were over ten foot high with these little beauties right at the top. You can see they are  sunflower family.

As mentioned before we are still getting lots of veggies from the garden
Here is our evening meal on Monday.
Stuffed marrow on a bed of vegetables and tomatoes with jacket potatoes. I used a little minced lamb with the stuffing of minced onion, squash, carrot and bread.
Last night we had jacket pots again  with a ratatouille thingy, roasted Crown Prince Squash and grated cheese. ( I didn't grow the cheese)
Well that's enough bragging for now.
Off to barrow and spread munchings.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Beyond their means

 Hello  Frugellers
And Welcome  to Deb and the Pensive Pensioner on the follower bar and Jane on bloglovin

I take the Independent on Sunday each week. The finance section usually does a "Health Check" on someone who wants advice to sort out their finances, usually for a particular reason, such as saving for a house, world tour, children etc.
This weeks "patient" was a woman who wanted to clear her debts and focus on being able to provide financial support for her family. This 46 year old single mum with two dependent children  ( aged 20 and 16) earning £18,000 p.a owed £14,000 personal bank loan; £6,000 overdraft; £7.000 credit card and £1,500 on a post office card. The cards were both on 0% deals, due to end  on March 2015. She bought her house in 2001 for £42,000 on a repayment mortgage which she had remortgaged to get some work done., her outstanding loan now standing at £77,000 Unsurprisingly she has no savings to fall back on.
The reason for the health check.. "Once I have paid off my mortgage, I'd then like to help my children take their first steps on the property ladder"
How does this woman sleep at night? What circles does she move in that have inspired her to believe she is in a position to help her children to get on the property ladder and what example is he setting these young people anyway? If she concentrates on just paying  off her cards/overdraft, cutting up her cards and living very frugally, it will be well over  ten years before she is out of debt, when her children will be over 30.
I've been thinking about this woman ever since I read the article yesterday.
Am I in a minority believing that children should be taught the value of money and encouraged to pay their own way as much as possible. If they are in full-time education there are always paper rounds etc. ( e.g my youngest granddaughter used to do washing up in a local resteraunt when she was 14 to make a bit of money, my eldest did a paper round from 14 to age 17 when she started work)
 Just before I retired I asked a colleague why she wasn't retiring yet as she was older than I? She told me that she wouldn't be able to retire for another four years as she was paying her grandchildren's university fees so that they had no debt when they qualified. Her worry was that she was not made redundant before this date. I'm trying to imagine my daughters "allowing" me to work beyond retirement age because of their children.
I know it's horses for courses and some of you might think I'm harsh and judgemental but I'd still like to hear your views anyway

Friday, 10 October 2014

You get what you pay for?

Just back from town.
 My first port of call was the shoe shop.
 A few days ago I went to Clarkes for my bi-annual shoes. The choice wasn't brilliant but I did find some that looked sturdy enough and at £55 the amount I would normally pay for my best going to town/ pub shoes. I have always thought that you get what you pay for with shoes and unless I get lucky at the charity shop I am happy to pay for shoes that last. I asked the guy in the shop why they didn't make shoes that could be cobbled any more. He looked at me in a pitying sort of way and said that cobbling was expensive. I replied that it was not as expensive as a new pair of shoes and that I like to mend and keep things going as long as possible and did not like the throwaway society I was forced to live in. ANYWAY off I set with my new shoes, which I expect to last for two years if I look after them. I polish our shoes each Sunday and do the odd stitching job and generally nuture them.
 On Wednesday I wore them for the first time to the Memories afternoon at our village hall which is 50 yards away. It rained while we in the hall and when I got home and took my shoes off my socks were wet along the outer front left foot!
  I took my shoes and receipt back to Clarkes. I explained that I had worn the shoes for first time and walked on 50 yards of wet pavement and had wet socks.
 "Well they are not waterproof you know" he informed me
 " I didn't jump up and down in puddles, I just walked along the pavement" I told him
  "Shoes will let wet in" he imparted " These shoes I am wearing now (pointing) if I walk around in the wet for a few hours, I find my socks get wet"
 "And if you wear them for 2 minutes"? I asked " I suggest you get your shoes from a reputable shoe shop" I advised
 "Sometimes its the way they are"
"I have spent £55 on shoes to keep my feet warm and dry. That is the purpose of shoes, This is England. It WILL rain. maybe I should go to live in Spain to ensure my feet will be dry"(getting a trifle sarcastic now)
. Would you like your money back or a replacement?" he asked as though doing me a favour.
 He then told me how his children often come in with wet shoes/ feet and he has to put newspaper in them to dry them. The inference being that maybe this is what I ought to have done rather than complain.
 "As I need shoes, not being the sort of person to buy something I don't need, I will try a replacement" I replied.
 So I looked at the shoes and found another pair that fit. These shoes are not made by Clarkes, but then neither were  the first pair, they were £10 cheaper, hopefully not £10 less waterproof, We shall see... watch this space!

 My next port of call was the printers to get  a copy of a wonderful large photograph that was bought to the Memories afternoon. I finally found somewhere to park, walked back to the printers to find that they were closed and a notice telling me that to provide a good service they would now open from  8.30 until 12.30 Monday to Friday. So back on Monday morning then. Terrific!

 A quick whizz around Lidl went pretty well and an even quicker whizz into Sainsburys to buy "One Particular Thing" for ED's birthday next Tuesday went according to plan too.
 I then dropped some pamphlets off at a  Society Committee members house for posting and my round trip was complete.
 Time for a cup of tea methinks, but before I settle down I will collect the eggs. D.had been pressure washing the barn (chickens) and I slipped and crashed into the wall banging the arm that I had had my Pneumonia jab in this morning and bending my thumbnail back in a rather grotesque fashion. It is a now a very pretty colour and I am feeling a little shaken.
 So here I sit in the safety of the room that houses my laptop amid the comfort of my bloggy world and I plan on staying for some time yet!
All for now

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Waiting for the oven engineer

   Hello All
 Hello especially to Bob, Jane, Tania, Jenny, Kim and Retiredwannabe on Blog Lovin and Chickpea, Angela and The Saver of Suburbia.                                                                                                               I noticed, with embarrassment that I spelled Licence wrong in my last Post Title. I know I often spell stuff  incorrectly, but in a post title! How come good old spell check didn't spot it? I have only just realised .. it's American! Slow aren't I, I bet you all knew that already.

Well the last post seemed to strike a chord, in no small measure due to SSS sharing my post on her post! Not everybody agreed with me which I have no problem with, but many did and there were lots of interesting comments.

  Been baking as best I can this week, for our memories afternoon at the village hall. We held similar afternoon n for the ex- workers from a local factory that closed in 1995 earlier in the year. It was such a success that we were asked if we would do another and we thought "why not". We have many photographs to share and will provide tea and cakes. The problem I have is that the thermostat in my oven is playing up and the oven man could not come until today and the meeting is today!. So I have been peeking into the oven and putting an oven thermometer in and out. Not the ideal way to cook sponges! Unsurprisingly, the date and walnut and the carrot cake are faring better than the lemon drizzle which is less forgiving!. So I am sitting here waiting for my knight in shining armour to arrive, hopefully this morning.
 I don't know about you, but I like to look through the blog stats each day to see where readers come from and what they are reading. Yesterday I noticed that someone was reading an old post entitled "Growing Willows" from February this year. So I clicked onto it to see what pearls of wisdom I had imparted.  mmmm Oh well! One thing I did write about was about starting off this years sweet peas. I was really glad to have found this because the sweet peas this year have been wonderful, with a beautiful fragrance. Lots of people have asked me where I bought the seed and I haven't been able to remember and there is was in february's post.... Lidl!!!
 The phone has just rung.. The engineer will be here between 10 and 12 and as the Society Committee members will be here at 11 and we have to be at the hall by 12.30 I had better get my skates on.

 Back soon

Thursday, 2 October 2014

I WILL be spending this month AND paying for myTV license

 Folk have been discussing going a month without spending/buying, using up stocks and what is in the cupboard, emptying the fridge and so on.

I can't think of anything worse than using up my stores or having an empty fridge.

I spend a great part of my year growing, cooking and processing food. I rarely just eat what I have grown with no thought to the possibility of putting some by for a time when there isn't much coming out of the garden. I spend a great deal of time planning a garden that produces something each month of the year.  Granted there is less available in the winter and spring, but I have preserved, dried, pickled and frozen from the Summer and Autumn glut for times like these. I cannot grow all we need, some years I have enough onions for a whole year, the next year I only grow enough for a couple of months. That's okay, I go to the shop and buy them. What I would struggle with would be not having a couple of onions in at all times.
 I struggle to see how using up the stores saves any money. It will mean that for a given time you won't spend and therefore you will have money left over. Okay so far.. Do I take it that you won't replace the items used up?
Now I'm as guilty as anyone of having stuff in my cupboards that has been there for months because I haven't got around to using it up, probably because I really don't fancy them. Some weeks I will make myself use these up and may never buy that item again, but usually I will use up and buy again to ensure that I am rotating stocks.
 Note my use of the word "stocks" I suppose this is telling. I see my blog as about frugality and self-sufficiency, with some (too much?) family stuff thrown in. Some might call me a "Prepper" and to a degree that is true - I do like to be prepared! A few years ago when we were without electricity for six days and water for two, the people in our village didn't think us quite as weird as they had before!. We fed several people and provided flask upon flask of hot water. We gave away candles and matches and shared what we had .We were comfy, warm and fed and were able to keep ourselves entertained without any power. There are those who eschew TV, but laptops, mobiles and ipad need recharging for continued use too. I must admit to feeling extremely smug that I had a treadle sewing machine and a wind-up radio (the sin of Pride I know).

 Incidently, talking of TV, I do watch TV like most of you I am sure, I hand sew and knit or I un-knot string, or crack nuts or plait garlic etc. while doing so as I am not too good at just sitting. I watch programs that enrich and teach me . I also watch programs that make me laugh. If I assess my viewing I guess I watch BBC programs most of the time  I do feel that I should pay to watch these programs and do not subscribe to the idea that it is okay to not have a license because I am watching it later on my PC/laptop. That is just expecting someone else to pay for a service which is then "stolen" by people who think it is clever to steal something paid for by another. That is more mean than frugal! oooh controversial Gill!

 Guess I must be in that kind of a mood tonight and it certainly isn't "That time of the month" just cussed (almost) old age.
 All for now

Putting down for Winter

Hello All,
Especially to Jane on Bloglovin
It's been a week of processing the harvest and starting to get the bees ready for winter.
Over the last few weeks I have been drying various bits and bobs around the place. This week I have been putting these down for the months ahead.
Here is one corner of my kitchen. ready for sorting. The buckets are full of honey, which are here to keep at a warm temperature to enable us to pour easily into jars, when we get time. Elsewhere in the kitchen there are baskets of onions, chillis, more herbs and hops and winter squashes and buckets of apples to sort.

 It has been a good nut year and I have been looking into what I can do with them apart from shelling and drying them and putting them away for baking. So how's about this for an idea?....toasted cobnuts in honey. Bob, one of the Shared Lives guys has been helping me shell the nuts, which has been great as it can be a bit of a strain on the old arthritic hands. Surely there is a better way of shelling nuts than the old nut crackers?

 Here are three jars that I think might do for Christmas presents. Sorry about using the "C" word, but today is the 1st October and if you make your own presents it is time to get started.
  Top left of this picture is a super of honey.
  This week we have started to go through each bee hive to put in the Antisan strips. These are strips of plastic that are infused with a chemical that kills the Varroa mite that has been wiping out colonies world wide. The strips are hung between the frames and left for 6 to 8 weeks before removal. As you may know we do not use chemicals here on our smallholding, but we do have a duty to do everything for the bees, who battle so many demons over recent years. Until a non-chemical Anti-Varroa treatment is found we will use this one. We are a little late doing so and have to hope for a warm interlude when the strips need to be removed, so as not to chill the bees.
When we took off the honey a few weeks ago we returned the spun supers for them to clean up on each hive. Whilst going through the hives and removing the cleaned supers we have found that a couple actually have stores of honey over and above those we leave for the bees for through the winter. So we have an some unexpected extra honey!
I have put  morning aside to sort the apples before the next lot become ready. There are quite a  few that are bruised or wormy, The cookers I shall peel and freeze and the wormy and bruised eaters I will probably give to the chickens and rabbits, who LOVE them. The perfect apples I shall wrap in paper and put in trays. I will also put a few in polybags in the bottom of the fridge for the next few weeks. The apples are - Eaters - George Cave and Sunset. Cookers - Grenadier(not a good keeper) Gilly's Pippin (named after me by my husband ) and some early Bramleys.
Still to come are eaters, Jonagold, Braeburn and Russet and the main Bramley crop.
  Off to get ready for an Appley Morning
  Back soon

Monday, 29 September 2014

Three pies


"Why do we grow pumpkins if we do nothing with then?" asks D.
Actually WE don't grow them our grandchildren do and they love to see the big yellow balls growing and growing. I do put pumpkin into soups, last week half a Pumpkin went into the tomato soup and nobody knew, as it was willy whizzed into the pulp. I also roast the plumpest seeds for a snack, so we do eat some pumpkin  He was getting a touch narky because he had banged his head on the mobile that is three pumpkins in nets hanging in the end garage
. "Why don't we have pumpkin pie?" he says.
 I'm pretty sure we don't like pumpkin pie as I made it MANY years ago and I'm sure nobody ate it. However tastes change, so I determined to make one for Sunday's pud. The family were round for tea ..Roast lamb (don't ask) I had picked up a few brambly windfalls too. So I made two pies so that we had a choice of puds.
Crikey! life really is too short to spend, I don't know how long, getting the pumpkin puree right! However I persevered and in the oven it went with the apple pie.
 A couple of hours before tea our eldest daughter and husband with their daughter arrived with a bag full of veg. YGD's homework was to make a Woolton pie. They are studying WWII and she is really interested in the subject. I thought it was something she fancied doing, but it really was homework for the whole class! (I really can't imagine ALL the children doing it) Anyway, off she set with her recipe and copious amounts of veg were peeled and chopped. "Good grief" I said. "Is this for one pie for a street party?" She kept doggedly to the recipe and a huge saucepan of vegetables were bubbling away on the stove with the Marmite and oats.
She then made the pastry which went together well. Meanwhile her dad was taking pictures for her schoolwork. After the pie was made there was a huge quantity of chopped cooked veggies left, which will make a soup and a cheese and veg pie with some left over cheese sauce from our main meal.
The pie went in the oven  at 180 which was an educated guess on my part as there was no temp give in the recipe (just "moderate")
 After our roast (delicious) it was time for ...THE PIES.
 Everybody had to try the Woolton pie first and it was very good.
Then came the the pumpkin pie......mmm... NOT a success ! D. valiantly ate his "It's okay, but I wouldn't want it often" and the rest of us had one spoonful and went onto the apple pie.
The apple pie was eaten before I could take a photo of it , but here are the other two..
I think the Woolton Pie might make an appearance another day, the apple pie definitely will  and the Pumpkin pie.........?I think not!

Back soon

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Potatoes and Tomatoes

Hello fellow Frugellers
  Firstly a warm welcome to Julee on the follower bar and Sue Aimee and Jane on Blog Lovin

 Disclaimer .... If you don't grow potatoes or tomatoes you will probably find this post boring

  I finally managed to get all the potatoes up today. we don't grow a vast amount, just a few pink fir apples and a few maincrop. This year I grew from my own seed, which is not really a good idea, but I found twenty little Sarpo Miras  potatoes in a bag under the stairs and thought "Why not?" So in they went next to a few pink fir apples. If you read an earlier post you will know that the PFAs got blight, but the SM looked to be free, as per the claims.
  Here are the SM earlier this summer

  And here is the blight-affected PFA with the SM next to them a little later.

 And here is the first SM plant being lifted on Sunday.
 And being taken to the shed for drying before bagging (Adam is showing an interest)

  As you can see the crop is VERY good. I have weighed the potatoes from each plant. They have ranged from 3 kilos to 7.50 kilos. The total crop was 102 kilos from 20 plants - an average of 5 kilos a plant. I planted the seed in two rows approx 5.5 feet apart with 18 inches between each seed.
As is usual there are a few that have been speared with  the fork and a (very) few that have been slugged. I will proccess  these this week. As I have quite a bit f fish I can feel fishcakes on the way!

  You may remember that earlier this year I experimented with aspirin and willow water sprays on the tomatoes to deter blight. I can't tell you how successful this was as NONE of the tomatoes in this greenhouse have had blight, nor the smaller greenhouse in the front garden. Meanwhile the outside tomatoes are showing some signs. I will try again next year to assess with Aspirin and/or Willow water. Not very helpful  really.
 The tomato crop has also been good this year. After a week away there were lots to pick and sort through. Split ones to make puree/passata,  really rubbish ones for the chickens and good ones to eat and sell. Today my friend, who was here for the day, picked ten kilos from the big greenhouse.We never went near the small greenhouse, which has a slightly later crop of  Romas and Marmande. I'll do that tomorrow.
  In the next post I will tell you what did badly!

  Off to try to clean my nails out (yes I know I should wear gloves!) before I start the first of several baking sessions for the Civic Society events... thank heavens for freezers!

 Until next time

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Back in blogland

Back from Cornwall
The weather was lovely. A little bit of mist that lifted to beautiful afternoons and evenings,
D. Was able to fish every day and we bought home a  travelling freezer full of fish. I had some pretty good CS finds - gardening clothes, a lovely boucle jacket and a pullover. My friend J, with whom we stay, had collected several bags of rubbish flour from the mill she volunteers at, for our chickens. Good hauls all round.

 We collected an animal trailer from a friends on the way back. We need this to take the sheep on their final journey on monday. As we keep so few animals nowadays we can't justify keeping an animal trailer, so sharing is the answer.

Tomorrow we will be picking and picking and gathering and collecting. Some stuff for eating, some for selling. The garden looks as though we have been away for a month not a week! A friend is coming to cut the family's hair (whoever turns up gets a haircut!) and then staying for tea. Then it's over to some friends for the evening and another weekend's gone.
 Just a quickie tonight as I am taxi for my daughters who are getting together at the nearest town with some friends.
Back soon

Saturday, 13 September 2014


Just about to leave for Cornwall.

Over the week I lay things out on a spare bed when I come across them/ iron them etc. Yesterday I put the bag out to pack and look who packed herself !

Do you think we should take her with us? I shall certainly miss her while we are away.
many thanks for your comments yesterday.
In haste

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Adam, Tomatoes and The Wall (and fishing again)

Hello All,
Thanks for your comments and good wishes for Adam
Here is a pic of his newly designed head
Looking nice and clean and dry now don't you think? the softy rested his head on my legs so that I could get this shot.
(whisper this) Is this a good time to remind you why we bought Adam as a cade lamb?

Moving swiftly on....The garden is still doing well and the tomatoes are exceptional. Here is a picture taken this week of the first part of the greenhouse. For September this is pretty remarkable for us.

As is often the case though our beans continue to be awful!

It has been really hot today and the Goathouse crew (that motley selection of orphans) were out half in the sun and half in the shade of some old redcurrant bushes. What a lovely group they are and so good natured.

These redcurrants are next to THE WALL. that D. is rebuilding after it was demolished by next doors' bull. Here it is. I think you will agree that is substantial and bull-proof. In fact in the case of a nuclear attack you could be pretty safe behind this wall. - or at least you will be when it is finished!
I have just looked back at this post so far and realised that I have posted pictures of a sheep's head, some tomato plants and a wall!  Good grief it's a wonder people bother to visit this blog when you think about it!

I have finally finished writing, printing and then posting ( with a HUGE amount of help from Nigel,) the yearly newsletter from our Civic Society. We post to 400 houses in the district to let people know what we are doing and what events are to be held in the future.  This Autumn/winter we are particularly busy with a Memories get-together for a local firm that closed in 1995,(October) A weekend Heritage Exhibition (early November) and  a Remembrance Evening (Mid November) There are pamphlets to be written, exhibits to be staged, walks to be organised and  histories of those fallen soldiers named on our little war memorial to be collated into booklet form....and copious amounts of cake to be made for each event!!
So no problem, as my mother said. "If you want something doing.. ask a busy woman"

On Saturday morning we set off for Cornwall for a WEEKS(!) fishing. not me you understand, D. will be fishing, while I help my friend, with whom we stay in Callington, with two handed jobs she saves for me, CS shopping and of course processing any fish D. catches. I am hoping to have couple of days completely to myself and will be taking the means to make a couple of Christmas presents I have in mind. Can't say what they are as the proposed recipients may be reading this.
As usual YD will be here holding the fort while we are away. If I can get the mice that power the treadmill that works my friends computer to do some work I shall blog from Cornwall.

Bye for now Gillx

PS. I have just remembered the new hens we have "rescued" Will tell you next time.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Of harvest and lost horns

 hello Dear Frugellers                                                                                                                                                                    Before I ramble on with some random stuff I must say Hello to Pat on the Follower bar and Michelle, Kimberly and Aimee on Blog lovin. Glad to have you on board.

I also need to apologise to Beth as I gave her blog address wrong, So here it is again. Pop on over to see her great Hob Nobs recipe. She can be found at  "ten tiny toes and a button nose.blogspot" (thanks Helen for your help with this)
                                                                                                                                                                 It's been quite a few days again since I posted, but I am sure that many of you are like me with buckets of stuff coming from the garden to be processed. We can't move in the kitchen for buckets of apples, tomatoes, courgettes, beans and sweet corn. On Gardener's World the other night Monty Don was saying that harvest were 2 to 3 weeks early this year. The next day I went out to check my mid-seasons apples and... he's right! I picked several buckets of apples and even some of the Bramley's were ready.  I usually pick the Jonogolds (which are laden this year) in October/early November. I shall have to keep my eye on them. They are a good keeper and give us apples into February/March.

 We still haven't had time to jar all the honey and will need to put a day a side to get this done. I am pleased with how it is selling, something we haven't been too successful at before. Most of our sales have been to people who have asthma and believe that local untreated honey will help them. This year we have kept the honey from each hive in separate buckets as we have extracted it. Each of our hives is numbered, which helps us to keep accurate records. As we have jarred from each bucket we have put the number of the hive on the jar label. Our honey customers have this pointed out to them when they buy a jar and we have taken to saying "This honey is from Hive No. ... Would you like to view that hive?" Not one person has said No and have been excited and happy to look at the hives!

 When I was picking apples the other day I looked through the orchard fence into the field and saw something bright red moving about..On closer inspection I realised that it was Adam the sheep covered in blood!. I scrambled down from the ladders and ran into the field. Poor Adam had lost most of one of his horns. It was shorn off about an inch from his head and blood was allover his face and chest. it had obviously happened some time before as the bleeding had stopped.We cleaned him up and set about drying the wound. the biggest problem was the flies, who saw an opportunity to lay eggs in an attractive place and were bothering him. We have been seeing to him several times a day and it is all completely dried up now and looking clean and tidy. We still haven't found his horn though!

D. has been spending much of each day re-building the dry stone wall between ourselves and next door. Dry stone is not exactly accurate as he is using quite a bit of concrete too. The main reason for this is that the wall was breached some while back by the neighbours' bull, who fancied the fresh grass clippings on the compost heap. Even the best of stone walls get be pushed over by a determined bull. So D. is talking no chances and firming up the wall as he re-builds

I have just realised that it is gone midnight and I'm tapping away here as though I don't have to be up tomorrow.
So I will return tomorrow and tell you about our new chickens and what else has been going on here in deepest Derbyshire
Good Night All
Gill x

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Youngest Granddaughter, Cookies and another Scrumper

YGD has been staying over this week and last week and I'm delighted to say she will be back for a couple of days next week
She is now 9 and pretty independent and really enjoying the freedom that a couple of acres gives an active child.
 Here she is whizzing around on an old bike that grandad has dragged out of the loft. He has highered the seat and handlebars, oiled the odd nut and away she goes up and down the drive and between the buildings.

And here she is on the "swing" that grandad has made for her in a damson tree. Shy isn't she?!
 And with the doll she bought with her birthday money. She has combed and plaited the dolls hair time and time again. There seems to be quite a lot of hair on the brush and I have to keep reminding her that it won't grow again!

   Something else she has enjoyed doing is baking. What child doesn't ?! Our favourite thing to make at the moment are biscuit/cookies from a recipe I found on Beth's blog..."Twenty tiny toes and a button nose" (still don't know how to do a link) These are called "hob nobs" we have made them slighter bigger than she suggests and this means that they are soft in the middle and are little like a cross between a hobnob and flapjack. they are DELICIOUS. We also made some with honey instead of golden syrup and they were just as good. As I have plenty of honey I shall always use that in future. Pop over to Beth's blog to get the recipe.

 We noticed that the Charles Ross Cookers were being pecked by the birds. We thought probably blackbirds,who have also been pecking at the windfalls. We were wrong ! Here is the culprit...
I suppose it IS a black bird!

All for now