Made a Start

It's not February yet, but I've made a start on my attempt at uber frugality.

My bread usually comes up at 35p a loaf - or 25p if the flour's on special at Lidl - but it's white, remorselessly, tastily, but not very healthily white. Bread flour at Lidl was 60p - after a brief spell on special at 50p (during which we bought a lot!) to confuse us, it's just gone up to 69p. A 1.5kg bag makes 3 loaves.

Today I bought some wholemeal - I really think it might be worth reordering from Shipton Mill - at £1.59 and tonights loaves were a 50/50 mix. So I reckon they come out at 50p -55p each. Extravagance!

However, I did have a brain wave. I generally make three loaves at a time - a bit wasteful unless there's freezer space. The main waste however, comes when I have to slice the bread for daily sandwiches. I'm rubbish at slicing bread, and I waste too much, as well as making lumpy sandwiches.

So tonight, I've made two loaves, and 12 rolls, which is sufficient for three lunches (girls one each, Neil two) and there is no WAY one of my loaves, sliced in wobbly wedges, would have done three lots of lunches.

Simple, but I think it will make a real difference.

So, who's up for a challenge?

OK, I am way out of the loop, the last to know about anything.

Only just found the fabulous Shirley Goode via Frugal Queen's blog - and have already waded in to join the February challenge.

What a lot of good, solid information there is on there!

I'm back for another read to and to get some recipes tonight. It would be fun if lots of us were joining in.

Haven't done a MeMe for ages ...

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Taken from here

I Am
...........struggling - but prevailing.

I Want........a little house of my own.

I Should........go to bed earlier. Really.

I Wish..........that I could have had five more children. At least.

I Hate.........washing up. No, I do. Really.

I Fear.........God. That is only the beginning of wisdom.

I Hear.......the silence of late at night - husband out working.

I Search.......for all the answers.

I to put it all right.

I Regret.........selling Dragon Cottage.

I family, my dog, my goats ...

I Always.........believe the mail will bring good news.

I Usually.........find junk mail and bills!!!

I Am Not............a number. I am a free (wo)man.

I an elephant with gout.

I Sing............ but only at church.

I Never.......go in lifts.

I Rarely......have a plan.

I Cry.........when I remember Sam - our working sheepdog who died just over a year ago.

I Am Not Always.........entirely coherent.

I Lose........blooming everything.

I'm Confused........yes, that's true.

I Need........the outdoors.

I Have............the most beautiful daughters in the world.

One Good Idea.

If you're very, very short of money, and you have any garden available to you, which you can in any way utilise - give this a thought.

A packet of Suttons or T&M or similar seeds costs around about a couple of quid. There are some cracking varieties available, and some tempting descriptions to ponder, as well as beautiful pictures, a fabulous catalogue, and Alan Titchmarsh or his like (is there such a thing?) grinning at you from the depths.

This lot cost under ten pounds.

I bought Lidls seeds for my Dig For Victory garden last year and the yields were fine. Some of them were exceptional. Yes, I'd love to meander back through the hallowed halls of the Real Seed Company or even my old faithful, Edwin Tucker - but beggars, it seems to me, can't be choosers and we are in a corner here.

29p, one of those smaller packs at the front costs. If you grew a dozen of those lovely lettuces, or a pound of those tomatoes, you'd be quids in. No, it's not ground breaking horticulture. Yes, I'd love to stick to heritage varieties (the germination rate and yield of which have often been woeful, to be honest) but you know what, I can't afford to.

It's seeds week in Lidls. If you have a patch of bare earth, or a patch which could be bare earth, do yourself a favour and spend ... maybe even 87p:

to supply yourself with good, solid, staple food - vitamins, minerals and real flavour for a fraction of the cost in the shops. And it's going to go up more, believe me.

And yes there are one or two flowers in there - I treated myself. I do however eat sunflower seeds and calendula flowers!

Now, moving on, I have finally finished batch one of the marmalade, six pounds of pure tangy bittersweet joy.

And what's interesting is - either of those would qualify for a 'Choosing Contentment' slot - simple things that can fill your life with joy. Homemade marmalade - minimal cost, maximum flavour. Cheap seeds, that nevertheless hold God's promise, and really can feed a family. All that's required? Sun, rain, earth and hard work.

As the very wonderful Jonathan Brain would say (you'll have to shout to get the feel): WOW! HOW AMAZING IS THAT?
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The little things that we can choose to allow to make our lives special.

Freecycle {smile}

If you decide to join in, please post a comment and link back!

This Moment


A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour and remember.

Joining in with Soulemama for the first time.

Into the teeth of the wind.

One of my aims for the year, is to use what I have. It's part frugality, and part shedding of un-needed stuff.
I've always wanted to grow herbs, and this is one of my big things this year, but I had an entire Ziploc bag full of seed packets - some of them a decade old! - and each year I've thought, they may be too old to germinate ... oh wait. They may not.

So today I sowed thirty herbs -each of them in a small square 7cm pot - thus chancing only a handful of compost, one small pot, and a few minutes of time for each herb. They will grow, or they won't. I've got 15 hardy perennials in a tray in the polytunnel, roughly speaking all these need some cold and will pop up when they're ready. I've also got 15 mainly annuals who might need a bit more warmth, and are probably really waiting for spring, on the kitchen window sill.

In the garden, despite a bitter cold wind, I decided to tackle the black plastic - roughly half of my open ground has had silage plastic over it this winter, and now needs to be open to the frost and the cold for a bit, before I want to use it. The other half has had plenty of frost and snow, and is growing a coat of weeds, so it needs the black plastic, to kill off the weeds and warm it up for planting.

A half hour onslaught on the woody nightshade, now dead and needing to be pulled up and burned before it starts up again, provided some healthy exercise and actually warmed me up a bit! Still a lot to do out there, and tomorrow which is usually one of my house and paperwork days, may have to turn into a work day.

This evening -marmalade preparation really had to begin! Got them juiced and the peel shredded ready to go tomorrow.

Tired but pleased at progress. Just now need to get this sorted so that I'm done before 10pm ! This is winter. I should be knitting by the fire by then!


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It's finally quiet. Been some day.

My puppy (no actually, he's a big boy dog!) went to the vets to be castrated. That was something of a drama. The vets have got a bee in their bonnet about him, I think because they mistakenly had him sussed as a Lab x Staffie (he's not he's a Beagador, labxbeagle) so they were not prepared to sedate him themselves, and wouldn't remove him from his cage themselves when he came round. It's been a bit traumatic, and he's a lot upset. Finally he's sleeping peacefully in the kitchen, by the fire, whimpering sadly in his sleep now and again.

Car broke, children had dental appointments, we had to fetch a ram ... in the truck, with the children, on the way to the dentist, because petrol is such a price, and he was in the same direction as the school know, run of the mill country day.

Now the children are in bed, Neil is out driving a taxi, I am curled up on my new (to me - from Freecycle) enormous sofa, in a nest of afghans, books, laptop, notepads and dreams. The bread which I set to rise and then forgot to bake has duly been baked, while I had a bath, so the house smells of hot crusty bread, and is quiet.

It is still only January, but as we hope to really get the farm moving this year - after a long and kind of cloudy departure from our true course - we need to be working flat out. Especially as I am away soon to do my Permaculture Design Course.

For years we have wanted to do the Sustainable Land Use Course with Patrick - I wouldn't want to do a PDC with anyone else, he's my total Permaculture Hero! - and this year by hook crook and hard work, we've made it possible, I can hardly believe it. We took our caravan up to Ragmans at the weekend, as it's being used as extra accommodation during the first three weeks of the course, before I grab it for myself for the last two weeks. It was so great to look around the place, the bunkhouse and communal eating area only nudge my community minded little soul a little further toward the truth.

If I could live in a chapter of the Bible it would be Acts 2.

43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

I'm excited about this year, it's going to be amazing. I want to know so much - I am knee deep in books, the current one being 'The Untold Story of Milk' - and plans. Plans to go to market, plans to be out in the community, to stop hiding behind the internet, and get out there.

I want to get a spinning wheel, and spin some of that glorious Jacob wool for myself, I want to make more yoghurt and kefir, and cheese from our lovely goatsmilk, I want to eat more vegetables and less meat - we are now committed to not eat meat we have not met - and to live at peace.

Quiet. Good productive time. Puppy has stopped whimpering in his sleep. The rain is tapping on the window. Time for bed.

sigh ...

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Where were the words I meant to say?

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Something of Spring

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has been in the air, though it is only January.

for the first time in months, there was this, for a start.

and the view in the lane has been like this - look, no snow!

There is green goodness in the garden - this is Black Tuscan Kale, which thankfully we all love and revere - because we have a lot of it!

The smallest shoots of spring goodness are growing in my tunnel in a tunnel.

and in the kitchen, goodness from the fruits of autumn. Oh, how I love these squashes.

and the daily goodness of milk - we just have one goat in milk at the moment - our dear old Scallywag - and this is our daily quart of milk - along with the pile of books which seem to follow me everywhere, as I seek information and inspiration!

So many good things.

The fact that I am fairly sure the soap I made last night has gone horribly wrong almost seems unimportant! Almost.

Tales from the Green Valley


Just talking about this with someone, and wondered if anyone else enjoyed it? I'd not seen it in the original, and after my friend Ali raved about it, I watched the whole thing on a daily rerun on 'Yesterday' with Boo when H was away at camp last year.

So fabulous. Love Victorian and Edwardian Farms, but this one was the best!


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I've had an idea.

Just driving home from taking girls to school - I don't do that very often, any more. (When Neil lost his shepherding job last autumn, we were 'blessed' by his being offered a taxi franchise - yes, I don't mean to be sarky, it really is a blessing. Of sorts. Anyway, what is a real blessing is he manages to incorporate the morning school run into his work day.)

Along the way, there are 'points' of inspiration for me - a farm in a valley with a sad tale to tell - a stone square house crying out for a family from Jane Austen - and a little van with 'Annie's Catering' on it - don't ask me why, but strange things make me connect with destiny !

And this morning ... I had an idea. A sort of businessy, stream of income idea.

It's a secret though, I need to go chat to a special online friend about it, and do some more thinking.

Then I'll tell you!

The day of small things

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"For by what a man is overcome, by that he is enslaved" - 2 Peter 2:19

So, positive thinking. It's a good thing, yes? Well.Yes. Unless ...

I'm beginning to think that positive thinking, like alcohol and money, can be good for you , or bad for you, depending on your personality type.

I've spent many years trying very hard to do the whole positive thinking thing. I was trained at the best Customer Contact company in the world. The words 'Be * Do * Have' were engraved on my heart.

It's stopped me.

I've made everything complicated. I've not done the simple things, because of course, I must do the big thing. I've taken on big courses - which now I have to do - to aim for big things. Because I've been trained to believe I can be the best, the biggest, the star - I've rejected being OK, and happy with it.
When you're trained to think like that, it can get to the stage where you sabotage the small things, because they are not the big things. You don't allow God to take hold of the seed and make it grow. You kill the seed, just for not being the tree.

So this is my year of small things. I simply want to grasp each small moment, cherish each small prize.

I have four ideas for 2011 - and they are :
  • work - don't talk and plan things, don't draw any more diagrams, get out there, and work on things.
  • sew - get back to proper dressmaking
  • decorate - make the house OK - comes from a time when I did this and felt good.
  • complete - tie up the loose ends. Tidy things up.
but my over riding thing for this year is - use what you have, do what you can, don't be belittled by big dreams. It's a year of small things, and definite small steps.

  • work - rather than planning great things, rebuilding the box scheme from scratch - my small step is to grow what we need, and sell surplus via the Country Market.
  • sew -rather than always trying to do something original, cleverly crafted, and ending up stuck - my small step is to do something I can do - plain straightforward dressmaking, as I was taught in school. With a pattern. And fabric, bought for the job.
  • decorate - rather than dreaming over total overhauls here and there, concentrate on the small patch ups that are needed. I can make curtains, by the way, rather well. Haven't made a single pair for this house, yet.
  • complete - there are so many loose ends and odd things in my life I can't tie up. Symbolically, I'd like to tie up some of those I can. A dozen or more part completed craft projects are blocking creative flow ... so it's can them or complete them. I've started on one already.

2011 - My year of small things

New post up at tlw

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A new post at

featuring thoughts gleaned from three soulful bloggers - and my own attempt to make sense of New Year.
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