Monday, 30 September 2013

Review of the month - Looking Back at September

  1. Him Outside had the second stent done with no problems and is feeling very well.
  2. We earned enough money to cover everything for next month (here is our budget)
  3. Some money has been put into the ISAs for winter.
  4. The campsite continued to be busy
  5. Lots of lovely weather
  6. We spent less than we had allocated
  7. Food spending was well under budget
  8. From the garden we had aubergines, tomatoes, cucumbers, courgettes, runner beans, cauliflower, potatoes, onions, cabbage, peppers, beetroot, lettuce, radish. So..................
  9. We were almost self sufficient for vegetables - spending just £1 on carrots and a punnet of yellow ticket cress.
  10. From the garden we had plums, greengages, autumn raspberries,figs, pears, cooking apples and the first eating apples.So....................
  11. We were almost self sufficient for fruit - 4 punnets of nectarines and a few apples early in the month were all that we bought .
  12. Lots of lovely library books again
  13. A nice big cheque for the field rolling job
  14. We spent a few hours sitting on the beach and listening to the waves.
  15. We came home from the coast via Sainsburys and found some reduced meat, value bacon and very cheap engine oil.
  16. 3 Really big bargain buys- His work boots for £6, 5 Epson ink cartridges for £10 and a pair of almost new Crocs for £3.
  17. Lots of chutney and relish has been made.Plans in hand for more.
  18. We have a huge tree full of Bramley apples, lots of Squash and several pumpkins to sell.
  19. New chickens are looking well and have started laying.
  20. We went to the Suffolk Smallholders AGM and met up with folk we haven't seen in a while.
  21.  Thanks to the blog we have a new writer for the Penny Pincher letter writing group that I belong to.
It was such a good month that I can't think of anything at all to put in the negative list. How lucky we are!

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Sunday sort out

First job this morning was to unpack the 4 boxes of books brought back from the AGM yesterday. I  made 4 heaps; charity shop, to keep, campsite library shelves, and car boot sale. The problem with the "to keep" pile was that I hadn't got room for them. So I had another sort out and moved some books out into the shelves in the front hall where I keep the campsite leaflets. The car boot ones have gone into boxes into the roof cupboard as we are not planning to do a sale for a couple of years. Charity shop ones are in the car ready for the next time we are in town and the ones for the campsite library will go out there next year. So THAT'S IT. No more selling books at shows and DEFINITELY no more buying books to sell.

Next to sort out was cooking apples, squash and pumpkins to put out for sale. We've already sold about 40 squash and there are around 100 still to sell. Our best ever year for squashes. Pumpkins are not so good, lots of little ones but not many Halloween pumpkins and the biggest are still very green.

Third on the sort out list was to work out what we are having for dinners next week and to decide which jobs will get done in what is actually a very busy week. ( Him Outside has 3 trips to hospital outpatients for a start).

After the only caravan on site left at lunchtime Him Outside sorted the campsite by cutting the grass and emptying the bins. We are now empty on the site until next weekend.

I spent a little while sorting out tomorrows blog - my review of the month for September. Doing tomorrows blog before today's is what you call getting ahead of yourself!

My final sort out job was to collect sort and box up the eggs. The 24 young hens who have now been here a month are starting to lay, with 11 little eggs today.

I'm pleased to report that I now have 70 followers over there on the right.( I don't count bloglovin followers as proper followers as I like to see the little pictures!)  Welcome and thank you for clicking.

Back tomorrow with that review of the month.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Buying and selling books on a sunny Saturday

We've had an in and out day today.

As you know I LOVE secondhand books and that was what today was all about.

 First we went cross country, through lovely Autumn sunshine and scenery to a small village in the wilds of high Suffolk. There are a whole group of villages collectively called "The Saints" and in St James they have an annual secondhand book sale in aid of the church. I don't know where they get all their books from but the village hall is always packed full of books and people.
I found a few but didn't spend a lot as they only charge 50p or £1.
 Many years ago when we had livestock on the holding I found I had collected 10 books on goat keeping. Now nobody needs that many goat books, so one year we booked a stand and took all our spare unwanted books to the Suffolk Smallholders Society annual show. This grew year by year so that we were spending lots of spare time hunting charity shops and sales for Countryside, Livestock and Smallholding books and taking them to several Country shows every year.
Once the SSS stopped having a show and books got harder to find we stopped buying and selling until all we have left were about 4 boxes of books which this year we took along to the SSS AGM to see if we could finally get rid of them all.
 We are honorary life members of the SSS as we were very involved with the Society in the early years so we try to go to the AGM when we can and there is free food- always a bonus!
We sold a few but came home with 4 boxes still full. I shall have to have sort out and pass them on to a charity shop or anyone I can think of who might like them because we really don't want to take them anywhere ever again.
After such a busy day which we have become un-used to recently, I think we need a rest.
Hopefully I'll be back tomorrow  to tell you we've done nothing all day!

Friday, 27 September 2013

Get on yer bike!

Ever since I was little I've always had a bike, I prefer cycling to walking any day.
 In one place we lived I cycled with two children on the bike. The little 2 year old fella on a seat on the back and the 4 year old daughter on an adapted crossbar seat between me and the handle bars. Often M would fall asleep and I'd be biking one handed with a hand behind me propping him up. This was done 2 miles to playschool and back simply because we couldn't afford the petrol for the car - Happy Days!
 For many years here we had just one vehicle which Him Outside used for work everyday, so it was either cycle the 2 and a half miles to Saxmundham or Leiston or stay at home. Since he packed up full time work  I've not been biking so regularly because he was often going to the builders merchants, garage etc I would go along with him and get the shopping. This summer it's been his endless trips to doctors that have made cycling to town unnecessary and my bike has only been used for the once a month trip to the library van. I've really missed getting on my bike.

So as things in the garden and campsite are slowing down and I had a bit more time I dusted it down and cycled  to Leiston for the bank, building society and to get some milk. The weather was lovely and I saw all the things that you don't spot when driving.Now I'm back on my bike I hope to carry on all through the Autumn.
(Though  it will be a while before I catch up to my friend A in a village in Essex. When they took on an allotment 6 miles away from their house they started cycling there everyday and reckon to have cycle 1000 miles in less than a year. Wow!)

And while I was in town look what a bargain I found in the Hospice charity shop


Crocs - the smallholders best friend apart from wellies. Proper Crocs not the cheap thin imitations that let thorns through. My size and only £3 you won't believe how quick I was into the shop after spotting them in the window!

Look over there on the right- I'm now up to 66 followers ( not counting bloglovin followers), I'd love to reach 100 by Christmas so click on and follow. Welcome to new followers and lovely to see new folk leaving a comment. I don't always get around to replying individually for which I apologise, it's because I'm always in a rush to get on with the new days blog. So much to tell you!
Back tomorrow with lots of news about the Suffolk Smallholders Society.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Old enough for thermal vests?

Once you get on the list for a Damart catalogue they seem to come quite often. Every autumn I look and think perhaps I ought to buy some thermal vests. Each year I decide I'm not old enough and I can make do with my summer vest tops when I need an extra layer. Then during last winter I had some days where my back and shoulders just didn't seem to get warm, so maybe I am old enough. In the  catalogue they are £17 each - far too much. I looked on the M & S website and they are £16 for 2 and the same at Debenhams. Him Outside said check ebay and of course they had some M & S, my size. new pack of 2 for auction. Which I got for £9. I shall now be toasty warm on the coldest days, but by golly I will feel ancient!

Him Outside got a nice cheque in the post this morning. It was his pay for the nearly 30 hours he did driving up and down fields with a big tractor and a roller. "The easiest £300 I've ever earned" he said.

It's been another lovely autumn day here, we've been treated to sunshine and blue skies. It was time for a wander around the garden with the camera.
Beautiful Bramley Apples.
 We started selling these on Sunday and for the first few days they were a bit slow going but today I've been picking and bagging and putting on the stand and they've been flying. We decided that as there are so many apples around this year that we would sell them for a £1 for a big bag full- just under 4lb. So good value for everyone to buy and enjoy. Our apples will be in many freezers in the Knodishall area this year.
What a sad sight.
 The last few tomatoes in one of the tunnels. No more to sell as we can eat them as they ripen slowly. Once we get a frost I will pick them, spread them out on newspaper, on trays and keep them in an unheated room.They will carry on ripening and we may still be eating them in December. One or two will go bad before they go red but it's one way of preserving the harvest just that little bit longer.

Food for the future
A red cabbage which could be eaten or sold or will sit in the garden for several weeks.

The view over the road.
This field had a very poor crop of field beans, after lots of cultivation, it's now been sown ready for next year. Probably wheat, we shall see what comes up.

The potato harvest
We originally didn't plan to grow any maincrop spuds  this year but got the chance for a  few cheap seed potatoes and planted them, we might as well not have bothered. Scabby, knobbly, small, no idea what variety they are but it was much too dry here for them this year. Last year it was too wet!
That's how it goes.
Back tomorrow.
PS Thanks to everyone for comments yesterday.If you have a go at the curry or the bhajis I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.


Wednesday, 25 September 2013

A vegetable Curry- almost our cheapest meal.

Lots of blogs mention meal plans and I'm always surprised that so many people, including those purporting to be frugal, eat meat almost everyday.

For financial, health and 'green' reasons we are always being told that we should eat less meat. Most weeks here we eat probably 3 meat meals and 3 without. (  I rarely cook on Sundays, we make do with scrambled eggs or something similar). When we have a chicken week or a ham week then  we eat more meat, but stretch it to last for several days.

The veggie meals we have regularly are pizza, omelet, macaroni cheese, vegetable quiche, egg and chips,vegetable curry, tomato and herb sauce over pasta, vegetable chow mein, cheese and onion pasty, veggie burgers, and less often - cauliflower cheese, aubergine and pasta bake, leek fritters. Our fish meals, are fish and chips (using frozen fish and home made chips) which we have maybe once a month, mackerel fillets, pilchard lasagne, tuna and tomato sauce over pasta, fishcakes, tuna, pasta and broccoli bake, and for a special meal, salmon( Sainsburys value  bits) parsley and cream sauce with tagliatelle.

Of all these, our home made veggie curry must be one of the cheapest. We have this about once a fortnight. This curry always starts with an onion and an apple, then depending on the time of year I add courgette, leek, cauliflower, squash or pepper or a combination. In winter or the hungry gap then dried fruit such as prunes and apricots are used or even a banana, with broad beans from the freezer and cooked potato.The other ingredients are a knob of butter, a dessertspoon of curry powder and 3 of flour, a good dollop of any home made fruity chutney, a teaspoon of sugar, black pepper, pinch salt and boiling water.
This is served with rice and homemade naan bread and sometimes onion bhaji too.
The ingredients for today ( the plate at the back is for the onion bhajis) were


part of a damaged squash, a courgette too big to sell, 2 windfall eating apples, part of a red pepper too damaged to sell and parts of two onions that are ones sorted to use first as they were rotten on one side. If you were to read that as a list of ingredients you would probably think they were heading for the compost bin!
But after melting the butter, softening the chopped apple and onion, adding the flour and curry powder, cooking for a few minutes, adding the boiling water, bringing back to the boil adding everything else, it looks like this. The pepper was very mouldy inside so only a tiny bit was usable.
This pan full made enough for 2 meals tonight and 2 for the freezer.

Cook for twenty minutes. Cover and turn it off.
Then later re-heat and serve with rice.( Curry is always best re-heated) and naan bread. My naan bread recipe is HERE.

If I get round to it we have onion bhajis too. My home made bhaji mix was invented after reading the ingredients of a packet of bhaji mix from Approved Food, sent to me by my friend S, so I could test it out.
Bhaji Mix
To each 100g of chickpea flour add 1 tsp turmeric,1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp chilli powder, 2 tsp baking powder, 2 tsp bicarb., 1 tsp coriander powder, 1 tsp garlic powder, half tsp salt. ( The packet mix also contains dried onion, black onion seed and dried jalopeno pepper. As I didn't have any of those, I've left them out.)
I mixed up a big tub full, gave it a good stir around and the each time I use it I tip 75g into a bowl, stir in 2 large or a 4 small onions - thinly sliced. Then add water a little at a time until it all sticks together. Drop tablespoons full in hot oil, turn over and press flat. This is not exactly like a bhaji from an Indian take away,as it's not so hot, but it's a lot cheaper. The crunchiness is a good contrast to the curry.

2 delicious  plates full of vegetable curry, onion bhajis and naan bread. All home made and costing very little.






Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The new patio = threequarters done

When we had the conservatory built several years ago we just put down some old paving slabs by the door because we knew that sometime in the future we were going to have to re-do the paths after having the kitchen extension built. So now at last it was time to sort the patio out. We have lots of reclaimed paving stones, Him Outside had enough energy back to lay them and to load the cement mixer, the forecast was good and I was general dogsbody shifting stuff.
Of course the best laid plans never go exactly right here. We ran short of stones because some were more damaged than we thought and the underlying concrete which was done in a hurry was a bit too high in places. So it's three quarters done and now someone has to sort through a giant rubble heap to find some more usable stones, and take some edges off other stones that are a bit too wide.

But by 3o'clock we had both done enough for one day.

Thank you to Buttercup, Pam, Fran and Morgan for comments left  yesterday. It seems that several people may try the sweetcorn relish so I hope it works out OK. Also a special welcome to another follower ' A Suffolk Girl'. I love finding out about other Suffolk bloggers.

Still no sign of the Sizewell men who were supposed to be coming to the campsite yesterday but we have had a booking for the first weekend in October. It looks as if we may have an empty site after this weekend which will be the first time since early June. So completely different to 2012 when we had more nights empty than we had visitors, thanks to the awful weather and the Olympics.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Sweetcorn Relish Recipe

Before I forget I must welcome a new follower over on the right plus lots more on Bloglovin - which I still don't really understand exactly what it is. But never mind, people are reading whoever and where-ever. It would be lovely if you could leave a comment sometimes.

Time to make another relish for the winter storecupboard.

Sweetcorn Relish
Delicious with a burger( veggie or meat) this is a variation on a traditional piccalilli.

1 large can of sweetcorn                                                   2 tablespoons cornflour
1 red pepper,deseeded and diced                                      1 tablespoon Mustard powder
1 green pepper, deseeded and diced                                 1 tablespoon Tumeric
1 Large white onion, finely chopped                                1 tablespoon curry powder
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped                        1/4 pint white vinegar
2 tsp mustard seed
2 tsp celery seed
Half pint white vinegar
2 1/2  cups gran. sugar

Drain the tin of corn and put in a preserving pan with everything from the first list except the sugar. Bring to boil slowly and cook for 5 minutes. Add the sugar slowly and then return to boiling and simmer for 20 minutes.
Blend everything on the second list together. Pour slowly into the pan, stirring all the time.
Return to boil and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring all the time.
Pot into sterilised jars and seal.

I doubled up because of having plenty of peppers in the polytunnel and 2 tins of value sweetcorn in the cupboard.

It made this lot

I also made a couple of loaves of bread this morning because tomorrow we want to get started on doing the patio and getting the garden around the new path at the back of the house finished ( after nearly 2 years  since we started). I will be pushing the wheelbarrow and he will be laying the paving blocks.

I found a message on a blog from a few days ago from Morgan asking about seed companies, I'll do a bit about the ones I use in a while, when the rest of the catalogues arrive.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

2 big savings and an interesting book

As usual we went to the fortnightly car boot sale, where we saved a decent amount of money on two things. Him Outside bought a pair of brand new JCB work boots for £6, the proper price is around £50 and I spotted 5 ink cartridges for our printer for £10  and they are usually a LOT more than that. That's the problem with our Epson printer, it is so clever it even tells you when you have tried to sneak in a cheap version of ink cartridge, up comes the message" Not Compatible"!

This is the book that I've just finished.




  If you are interested in what makes people buy certain things  and how we became a nation of consumers it's a good read.  Harry Wallop ( journalist and most recently seen on Superscrimpers) has given consumers various class names, including Asda Mum; Wood Burning Stover;  and Portland Privateer. I learned, beside other things, why we have the shops that we do in Aldeburgh -Joules and Jack Wills ( I've not been in either)
I've also found that because we don't holiday abroad and I don't shop in Waitrose, we don't fit in to the Woodburner Stovers even though we have one. In fact we don't fit into any of Mr Wallops catagories at all. He briefly mentions " a small number of consumers who claim, with some legitamacy, to be entirely outside the consumer society - to never shop at a supermarket", but that's not us either.
Which means we are unique!

Friday, 20 September 2013

Slaving over a hot jam pan

The weather today has certainly warmed up and it was a bit too hot in the kitchen when I made the Greengage Jam turning these
into this
According to an old jam making book if you want greengage jam to stay green you need to use a copper jam pan, but as mine is stainless steel it went the same colour that plum jam always is. Shame really but I know it will taste OK.

I went to cut the cauliflower for dinner tonight and found there were 3 ready so 2 went out on the stall along with more small pumpkins, squash, greengages and plums and everything sold very quickly. We've finished selling tomatoes, cucumbers and runner beans. Next will be cooking apples. It is all so different to last year when there was not a single bit of tree fruit to sell.

Early in the year we had a caravan on the site belonging to men working at Sizewell Power Station where they were putting up security fencing. Today one of them called in and asked if they could come back on Monday for 3 weeks. They've been working elsewhere all summer but are now back to do more at Sizewell. That will be a handy bit of unexpected income. All bodes well for saving for the winter months when regular income will be down to just the egg money and some for hay.

I managed to 'forget' the ironing again today, so I MUST get it done tomorrow!



Thursday, 19 September 2013

Thursday jobs.

First job this morning was picking the greengages as they had started to fall off the trees, yet a week ago they were not really ready. I shall do jam tomorrow. In 20 years here we have had enough to make jam only 3 or 4 times. Some years they are badly affected by  a moth larvae, some times they just seem to vanish - squirrels? birds? but mostly the trees are bare of fruit. This year there are even enough to put some bags out for sale, and the chickens are enjoying all the split and damaged ones.

I cut some more squash and pumpkins to put out for sale, drove Him Outside to Leiston so he could sort out a prescription hiccup at the doctors plus a bit of shopping, did my back exercises, cleaned the campsite loos, did the dustbins, brought in a load of wood - both fires lit today. Then it was egg collecting and boxing up - the 24 new chickens that we got a few weeks ago have laid their first little egg.  A few bits of cleaning indoors, I should have done the ironing but conveniently forgot! Browsed through the Christmas Lakeland catalogue ( thinking HOW MUCH? for a few tiny jars of jam, chutney, chocolates, biscuits etc.) Do people really spend that much on so little?  Then time for a cuppa while watching Countdown.

Dinner tonight is a tray of mixed roasted veg - beetroot, carrot, potatoes and squash with some of the bargain Ham offcuts that only the Coop seem to have. £3.99 for 750gm. We usually buy this about once every 6 weeks and it will make nearly a weeks worth of  lunchtime sandwiches plus 3 or 4 dinners. Tonight with veg, tomorrow a few bits could be added to the sauce for cauliflower cheese ( our first autumn cauli. from the garden). Then with egg and chips on Saturday and into a quiche for Sunday and Monday.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

What a lovely day

It's been a really beautiful day here. If every Autumn day was like this it would make winter seem much shorter.

I took a wheelbarrow out to the field to start the harvesting of pumpkins and squash to put out for sale. These small pumpkins are bright orange already and much smaller than I wanted. There are some bigger which are still green.  There are also a few plants of some that are slightly different- not quite round, and paler orange ( the one on the right) I don't know what they are as they don't fit any of the descriptions on the packets of seeds I planted.
Some of the butternut squash are HUGE, much bigger than I wanted for selling. I spent ages last year trying to find a variety that wouldn't get that big and with the dry weather we have had I'm surprised at their size. I have no idea how much squash cost in the shops so put these out at £1 each - because I sell everything at multiples of 50p to make accounting easier - and they soon all went.

 It's a really good time for seasonal eating with both the end of the summer and now autumn produce available. Today from our garden we could have tomatoes, sweet peppers, green and red peppers, chilli peppers, cucumber, white cabbage, red cabbage, chard,  lettuce, radish, courgettes, butternut squash, pumpkin, potatoes, parsnip, sweetcorn, leeks, onions,  red beet, runner beans, pears, autumn raspberries, apples, figs, greengages, plums and the herbs of course - parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme ! and oregano too.

Him Outside has been resting and as I had nothing that desperately needed doing I thought I would have a lazy-ish afternoon too. So when I fished a heap of our local newspaper - The East Anglian Daily Times, out of the campsite bin I sat down and had a good read. It's interesting to see what local news we miss by not having a  paper.

Making a cuppa this afternoon, I glanced up to see a weasel trying to carry something through the orchard. I realised after a second look that it was a pigeon. He was really struggling with it. Who knew weasels could catch pigeons?

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

This tin contains treasure

This old tin contains treasures for next year.

All the seeds left over from this year!

 Two seed catalogues have arrived already, both have special offers for early ordering so I though I would see what we have left. Then we can work out what we need for next year.
Sorting out the seed order is one of my favourite jobs, although I usually do it in November. But with catalogues arriving earlier each year I suppose I had better get organised.
We will think about what did well this year and what we need to grow less or more of to sell next year. Then I'll write a big list and work out the best seed companies to get them from.

Thank you to everyone for the good wishes yesterday. Him Outside is home again, safe and sound. He had a much easier time for this second stent so after a few days rest and a week of not driving he will be fine again.

We had a really chilly night last night, when I went to let the chickens out at 7am it was down to just below 7 degrees C. Felt like winter already and I'm glad I sorted out the hats and gloves last week. I just need to put my big thick, lined fleece jacket in the wash as it got forgotten during all the hot sunny weather - how daft am I? This fleece is really warm and  once belonged to our son when he was about 15, so that makes it 16 +  years old . I think it will go on forever.

I've actually got around to picking up my cross stitch again. Just a small card design but a bit unusual as the stitching bit is a mannequin clothes stand, stitched on perforated paper then cut out and  the dress that goes on it is made of paper and card. Picture when finished!

Monday, 16 September 2013

What a difference a year makes.

This time last year we were away on holiday at Appledore in Devon. We hadn't had a holiday for 2 years so it was a good break. This year our lovely neighbour A picked up Him Outside at 8 am this morning to take him over to Papworth for the second stent. Last year we didn't know the health problems he had although looking back he remembers feeling extra tired after cycling and doing heavy work. Lots of people don't know they have angina until they have a heart attack. He wasn't overweight, he doesn't drink or smoke, he hadn't been ill so hadn't had his blood pressure taken for several years. If you have a other half with a history of heart problems in the family - get them  to check blood pressure  sooner rather than too late.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

The problem with Pink Plums

Thank you to both the Pams, Retro Wren,Gill, Judy Y and Buttercup for yesterdays comments and thank you for knowing that everything I say shouldn't be taken too seriously.

The dire warnings by the weathermen about the first gale of the Autumn season meant that we rushed around this morning( bright sunshine and no wind) to get everything done outside. Including picking some of our delicious eating plums to put out for sale and into the freezer. The problem with these plums - and after 20 years, I'm still not entirely sure what variety they are - is that they don't keep once picked for more than a day or two and they fall off the tree really easily once they are ripe. So it may be that come tomorrow there will be lots on the ground. That will please the chickens as I will pick up as many as I can and throw them into the chicken run. IF we get some good sunny days the orchard floor will be a mass of butterflies feasting on the fallen plums - a wonderful sight.

This was the photo from a few weeks back before they were ripe
I now have the official status of the other plums, they are NOT Damsons. According to our neighbour, Damson stones are round ( like the stones of greengages) which means our Damsons are plums! Cooking plums most definitely as they are horribly sharp. It's many years since we had a decent crop and I had forgotten that she had told us this before and I've labelled them as "cooking plums" in the past. We sold several bags of them on the stall and then a caravanner who was here last week asked if we would save about 10lb for them to take home with them for chutney and plum gin! So they went home on Thursday with a couple of bags full and it sounds as if they will have a VERY Merry Christmas!

I'm with Marie at Go Milk The Cow blog when she says that everything is slowing down which makes for a quieter more relaxed time on a smallholding. Although I don't really look forward to the coldness of winter I quite like the preparations, the storing away of food, the sorting out of gloves and  wooly hats, knowing there will be more time for reading and crafting. I also like knowing that I won't have to join in that mad crazy world which is the commercialisation of Christmas and knowing that we will be warmed by free wood - even if I do get driven to despair by the dust.
So if later today we do have gales and heavy rain. I'm ready.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

September Saturday

Lots of rain during the night, more than we have had for three and a half months and still raining through the early part of the morning. So we decided it was just right for getting in the poly tunnels and having a good sort out. Weeds were removed and tipped in the chicken run, loads of dead leaves from tomato plants were put on the trailer for burning and all sorts of other bits were added to the compost bin. A bucket full of squishy or damaged tomatoes will be fed to the new chickens over the next few days. So a really good mornings work.

I had a cancellation from people due on the campsite - put off by the weather forecast and a campervan booked in for three nights decided just to pay for one and then go home - again due to the weather. There is a caravan due to arrive tomorrow for a week, I'm now wondering if they too will cancel.

Looking through new posts on my regular blog reading list I saw Frugal Queen had one titled" What have you done financially lately?". She has suggested that everyone takes a look at 10 areas of spending and tries to reduce them.
 It  made me smile when I realised that there was really nothing in her list that had any relevance to us at all. Her ideas were
1. Check you mobile phone contract.  WE HAVE PAY AS YOU GO = £10  now and again
2.Paying for watching dozens of TV channels? NO
3.Make sure you get points for petrol. THIS IS ONLY RELEVANT IF YOU LIVE SOMEWHERE WHERE YOU HAVE THAT CHOICE.
4.Don't spend supermarket rewards on food, swap them for other things. THIS IS ONLY RELEVANT IF YOU HAVE LOTS AND ACTUALLY NEED CLOTHES, AIR MILES ETC
5.Share transport to work. WE WORK AT HOME
6.Sell surplus stuff on ebay. TRY NOT TO BUY SURPLUS STUFF IN THE FIRST PLACE
7. Cut car costs by finding a reliable garage.TRY TO DO REPAIRS AND SERVICING AT HOME
8.Swap Energy companies.FEW ARE INTERESTED IF YOU ARE NOT DUEL FUEL. FREE WOOD ANYWAY!
9.Pay off credit card debts. WE DON'T HAVE ANY DEBT.
10.Stock-take food cupboards.I ALREADY  KNOW WHAT'S THERE.

Just confirms what I thought. We ARE frugal! I'm a  Smug B****r too!
   
WE DON'T GO OUT TO WORK

Friday, 13 September 2013

There are cookery books and there are more cookery books.

As far as I can remember I have  bought two new cookery book in the last 30 years, and they were from The Works or Book People. I borrow loads from the library and copy down anything that looks interesting. But  somehow I have acquired  all these books.



and a few bigger ones that I forgot about.
 So almost all these are from Car Boot sales, charity shops, or Amazon for pennies and a few have been presents.  Even Hugh's River Cottage Meat Book was from a car boot.
 But my best cookery book is this one.

 It is full of cuttings, photocopies and scribbled recipes,all in plastic pockets and this is where I look for inspiration and it has cost me virtually nothing.

At the moment I have on loan from the library these 4
.
 3 relating to TV programmes, none of which I would ever be bothered to watch.
From the Baking book I copied 2 recipes, imagine paying £20   for 2 recipes. From the Pie book, 3 recipes and the book also costs £20  and as for Jamie Olivers" jumping on the frugal bandwagon" cookbook ( £26!!), there was nothing I fancied at all. He will make yet another fortune selling thousands of these books to gullible people. I know he has given a copy to libraries but I believe there is still something called Public Lending Rights which means he gets money for each one borrowed - he's not daft is he? ( That means I've contributed to his wealth - whoops)

Cookery books are one of the biggest sellers at Christmas, yet I wonder how many get used?
Frugal cookery books are not new,  proving there is nothing new under the sun. The only difference between then and now is that in the past recipe books had more recipes in and cost less.

Here are my choice of recipe books which have some frugal recipes.
Eating For Victory is one I bought new from The Works or Book People along with it's partner Make Do and Mend.
I really should make more use of these books, but when you've been cooking from scratch for over 30 years you get to know what you like and what you cam afford.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Just fiddling about on Thursday

Today was one of those days when I seemed to be busy all day but have no idea what I've done.

There were less things to go out on the stall this morning, the cold weather over the last few days has slowed everything down and the tomatoes, cucumbers and runner beans are all coming to an end anyway. In a few weeks time we will have loads of cooking apples, butternut squash and pumpkins to go out but they are not quite ready yet.

I had a good tidy up in the freezer but still don't think there will be enough room for cooking apples but I can't really justify switching the other chest freezer on just for apples, there's a problem to think about over the next few weeks. I shall wrap lots of apples in newspaper and store them in a box in the shed but they will only keep until January or February, so need some in the freezer for to fill the fruit gap.

Yet another booking for the campsite so we now have our 5 van allocation right through until after the weekend. Then a couple already here and due to leave tomorrow asked if they could stay another couple of nights and I had to say sorry and then another phone call with someone wanting to book for the weekend. This campsite thing has gone crazy! All other years we've been empty through most of September.

Oh dear another day without taking any photos for the blog. Must try harder. 
No more exciting news from Suffolk
So back tomorrow

PS Thanks to everyone for comments yesterday and hello and welcome to new readers.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Another chilly day

Listening to Ken Bruce on Radio 2 this morning made me so glad that we have a wood burner and no central heating. People were contacting him about putting on or NOT putting on their central heating. He always says that he doesn't put the heating on until much later how ever cold it is. If we get cold it is very easy to just light a small fire. A bit of newspaper, a few of bits of kindling and a couple of bits of pallet plus a log will do to warm the room. Then the fire can be left to go out again. Easy Peasy. I HATE being cold, and yes I have got a cardi on as well.

Thanks to Morgan at Growing in the Fens for the Beetroot Chutney recipe. I made 9 jars this morning and it looks really good. I managed to do it without getting in too much of a mess- beetroot is mucky stuff! According to one of my preserve cookery books:- A Chutney is pulpy and a Relish is chunkier. So my recipe for Red Hot Relish last week should correctly be called Red Hot Chutney, but it doesn't have quite the same ring to it.
I had planned to do Greengage jam on Friday but not enough of the gages are ripe yet so that will have to wait a week.

Thanks to Buttercup I have now I have been side tracked into re-reading some of my old copies of The Penny Pincher Paper and I haven't looked at them for several years so that will be a happy evening

I was just walking back across the field from checking chicken water before dark when I had a thought
"Maybe Frugal living at our age is knowing that you could live on less than you do but not having to, because for many years you did live on less than everyone else did."

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

From summer to winter in 5 days

Thank you to Sft.,Sadie, Pam in Tydd, Karen, Attila and another Pam at Winkle Crazy Ideas for comments yesterday. I seem to be failing dismally on the replying front and have hardly left comments on anyone elses blog for days, time seems so short at the moment.
It seems everyone liked the chicken tea-pot cosy which was a present from our eldest several years ago and too nice to keep in a drawer.

  I've been saying all summer we are in the driest part of the country but today a bank of cloud has sat across East Anglia and we have had rain, although not as much as predicted. What we have had though is strong winds and a drop in temperature down to Blinkin' Cold! It is hard to believe that last Thursday we went and sat on the beach. Today its back into trousers and cardi.We lit the wood burner yesterday evening and will again tonight and the Rayburn was lit for hot water.

I've had a couple of  days of tidying, cleaning and odd jobs which has got lots of things sorted so tomorrow I'm going to have a go at Beetroot and Ginger chutney which was on someones blog a few weeks ago ( As usual I've forgotten who it was - hopeless- sorry!).
Apart from the cooking plum tree and the eating plum tree we also have a couple of old greengage trees in the hedge right up the top of the field. They only have a crop about every 4th year and this is one of those years so I'm planning to do greengage jam on Friday.

Not a lot of excitement here again today although I had to turn away a campervan who arrived without a booking because we already have our allocation of the 5 vans we are allowed. I think we have never before in 18 years had 5 vans on site on a mid week night in September.  Our income this year has certainly made up for last years wet weather disaster.

Now a special plea to Buttercup. Sorry I only found your reply re the Penny Pincher letter yesterday. We do our letters by post so you wouldn't need to be too computer literate. Some of us type and some of us write by hand. Now how do we get in touch?
Does anyone know Buttercup? Does anyone know how people contact each other not on public view? How do I find out if anyone has emailed me on my google mail- I can't seem to work it out? HELP!

New Tricks on soon, must do some reading first.
Back tomorrow


Monday, 9 September 2013

Life is too short to plait onions

Thank you from both of us for all the anniversary good wishes yesterday. We celebrated by going to a car boot sale , doing all the regular jobs and reading. Who needs cards and flowers?

I'm having to do this blog all over again as the first time I posted it it came out on top of the previous post - very odd.

Our onions have been out of the ground for a couple of weeks, laying on mesh shelves in the greenhouse with both doors open, to finish drying them off and today I started the job of sorting them out and taking off the dry skins.
In gardening books they often give instructions for plaiting the onions with a piece of string but we just put them in net bags and hang them from the shed roof. No faffing about here! I've often wondered if people are put off growing stuff because they think they have to do complicated things with them afterwards.

After the onions, I did a bit of Autumn cleaning. I don't do spring cleaning because I would rather be outside in springtime. I moved some things around on the worktops, cleaning as I went around, cleaned out a couple of cupboards, sorted out some dresser drawers to make more space, whipped around the house with the feather duster until the feathers started falling out  and then took all the things off the dresser to give them a wash. When they were all clean and shiny I thought I would take a picture of  all the eclectic mix of things I have collected over the years from car boot sales and charity shops.
The chicken tea cosy stands guard and along with the sheep jug on the top shelf are the only things that were bought new.

It was blinkin' cold here this morning and very chilly now, we shall be lighting the woodburner later I think. We've also got some rain at last, although it's been dry all day there have been black clouds all around. A motorhome arriving on the campsite had driven through heavy rain in Essex.

Him Outside has been rolling fields again today that makes a total of 27 hours, which will be a handy income when he gets paid.

My original post had a bit of a rant about a camper wanting me to tell off his 3 year old little poppet because she was noisy. I hate that " be quiet or the lady won't let us stay" NO, I didn't play along. I hope I never used that ploy with our lot. Perhaps they will tell me if I did!

Hope this posts in a new box and not half on top of yesterdays.
Back tomorrow.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Blimey where did 34 years go?

On September 8th 1979  Him Outside and me got hitched at the Registry Office in Stowmarket in Suffolk. I was much thinner than now and he was positively skinny! And I never ever let him wear such a pale coloured suit ever again!


 We had met several years earlier through the Scout Group where I was the Cub Scout Leader and he was Assistant Scout Leader.

After our wedding we went to his mum and dads house with the immediate family for lunch then in the evening we had a bit of a do at the Scout Hall with family and friends. Our honeymoon was a week in a tent ( borrowed from the Scout Group) on a campsite on the Isle of Wight.

And we've carried on being frugal ever since!

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Green Tomato chutney recipe

Thank you to everyone for comments on yesterdays blog, Some I haven't got around to replying to - Sorry!
Welcome to new readers, especially when you say you enjoy reading my ramblings!

A lovely day here again, although the weather men predicted rain for yesterday we only had an early morning shower, so still VERY dry and a strong breeze here today will dry things up even more. No good for plumping up the apples.

I finished making the green tomato chutney this morning. It is an old, simple recipe and makes a type of chutney that is good with cheese or dolloped into a curry.
It comes from a very old cookery book, the sort that actually has more recipes than pages, unlike the glossy celebrity cookbooks nowadays that have a huge photo on every other page. My copy is tatty with splodges and spills on all the pages but as I've had it for nearly 40 years that's not surprising.
By the way you will find I always do recipes in imperial rather than metric. That's how my brain works! I'm English rather than European!! 
Mucky pages - shows it's well used!
Green  Tomato Chutney

5lb Green Tomatoes
1lb onions
2tablespoons salt
1lb sugar
2 pints spiced vinegar
1lb sultanas( or half and half sultanas and raisins)
1lb cooking apples

Slice tomatoes and chop onions and mix in a basin with the salt, cover with a tea towel and leave to stand overnight
Next day tip the tomatoes and onions into a colander and leave to drain, the salt draws out lots of water.
Put the vinegar and sugar into a preserving pan  and heat slowly, stirring to dissolve sugar
When its just boiling add sultanas and apples and simmer for a few minutes.
Add the strained tomatoes and onions and simmer until thick - about 1 hour.
Pot into sterlised jars and seal.

It made plenty to last all year.
In the cupboard from last year I still have 3 jars of Pumpkin and pepper, 5 Marrow and Apple, 3 Gooseberry and Date, 1 Courgette and sultana and 2 Onion"Marmalade" . Then the new jars of Red Hot Relish made the other day and now these 9 jars of Green Tomato. I still want to make Beetroot and Ginger, Sweetcorn Relish and maybe just a few jars of one or two other sorts.
That will give me enough for presents and for us.

We started putting the Damson/Cooking plums out for sale and they fairly flew off the stall and we picked about 4lb of the eating ( Victoria?) plums that seem to be riper than the rest. 3lb were stoned and put into the freezer and the rest will be snacked on - delicious.

This afternoon I carried on pruning the gooseberries. When I say pruning that sounds as if I know what I'm doing. But really I have only  a vague idea that a gooseberry bush should look like a wine glass on a stem. Ours look nothing like that!  So I take out any dead bits, anything very low to the ground, any branches that seem to be going in the wrong direction and I also trim the tips of some of the very long branches and try to make a gap between the bushes.  Him Outside came to help so that we could get the job finished. He said that two people who didn't know what they were doing was probably not as good as one person who did. Although I think they look tidier now and a bit better air flow through the bushes can't do them any harm.
.
I have brought two Conference pears in to see if it's right what someone ( sorry can't remember who without searching back) said that they will ripen well off the tree so should be picked earlier rather than later. They usually get ruined by wasps so if I can save a few for us it will be a good thing.

Strictly starts tonight - Good news indeed.  I love seeing how they progress through the months.

Think that's all for today
Back tomorrow.


Friday, 6 September 2013

What a pong!

Welcome to two new followers - Meg and The Squirrel family.

It's been a smelly day here today as they have been spreading chicken muck on the field all around us. I've mentioned before that we have a big farming company farming all the fields near us after the man who used to farm them retired  last year. They have different ways of doing things and MUCH bigger machinery. I don't remember the other bloke doing muck spreading anywhere. I guess he just relied on chemicals.

I was picking tomatoes ready for putting out for sale this morning when I realised that if I didn't do green tomato chutney soon there wouldn't be any green tomatoes left to use. Green tomato chutney is so much easier than any chutney using red tomatoes as you don't have to remove the skins. So 5lb of green tomatoes have been chopped, along with a pound of onions and both have been put in a big bowl and sprinkled with a couple of tablespoons of salt. The bowl has been covered and then tomorrow I shall get on and finish it.

A while back I said we had a pointy pepper disaster as what should have been sweet peppers seemed to be really hot - more like giant chillies. Well, I tried the odd one off some of the plants and they were as sweet as they should be, so we were really confused. I didn't dare sell them as sweet red peppers in case they were hot and I couldn't sell them as hot peppers if they weren't. So there they have been sitting getting redder with me wondering what to do. Today I decided I had to sort things out and brought in  one ripe red pepper from each plant - one at a time, cut it, taste a tiny bit and if it was sweet I  would cut it into slices and pop them in a bag and put in the freezer and if they were hot chilli type I would at least be able to know which plants were which. I tried one pepper from the first 7 plants and they are all normal sweet delicious pointy red peppers.So now I have 4 large bags of sliced pepper in the freezer and I'm nearly as confused as I was before. I still have to try one pepper from the last 5 plants - will one of them be really hot or are we going mad? Were they hot early on and have now turned sweet?  Another mystery.

Talking about mysteries. Do you remember The Mystery of The Missing Postbox, the one at the end of our road which " got demolished". Well, according to a bit in the freebie paper I picked up the other day we are not the only ones to lose our postbox. Two more have been stolen from other villages around us. What a weird world we live in! Our MP has been roped in to try to get the one that was nicked in the village of Blaxhall replaced. So I might have to contact her and see what she can do for us.

And finally here it is - this months heap of borrowed books collected from the library van today.
I'm a bit puzzled as I've had some of them before, so not sure why they got themselves re-ordered and have turned up again. The mobile library only stops for 15 minutes in Friston so there is not a lot of time to sort out any problems and it isn't long enough for the driver to get the satellite dish up and running  to check the computer for any queries. So I just brought the whole lot home. Most of these I had pre-ordered via t'internet and a few came from the library van shelves. I also collected a bag full almost as big as this for Him Outside. Good job the wind blew my bike up the hill on the way home!

 After all the discussion about Jamie Olivers' programmes on "cheap" cooking I thought I ought to borrow the book and see what all the fuss is about as I have no intention of watching it.
Very few fiction there to read so I may have to resort to my bookshelves here  which shouldn't be a problem.
What would this lot cost if I had bought them? about £220!! Thank goodness for the library van and the free ordering system we have here in Suffolk. Borrowing books from the library is one of our best ways of being frugal.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

The last day of summer?

No holiday for us this year and not many days out so when the weatherman said it would be all change on Friday we decided to make the most of what might be the last hot day and have a few hours on a beach.(Despite living 4 miles from the sea we rarely sit on a beach)

Instead of just popping down the road to the shingle beach at Aldeburgh I decided I wanted to see some sand for a change so suggested a trip out to Felixstowe - a place I spent a lot of time at in my teens, but somewhere we don't go to very often now.This also meant we could come home via Sainsburys in Ipswich and pick up some value bacon bits. So we packed  lunch in the cold box and our chairs ( and my book of course) and off we headed.
Lovely sunshine, a nice little breeze and it was a treat just to sit for a while and listen to the waves swishing.

A good look around Sainsburys resulted in some yellow sticker pork chops and pork slices and several of their value range including pepperoni for pizzas, salmon bits to have in a sauce with pasta and of course the bacon. We may not be at that end of Ipswich again for months so I got 4 packs of bacon which after opening and sorting gave me 7 bags of bacon rashers and bits - 1/2 lb in a bag and 6 bacon chops. Then Him Outside found engine oil with a huge discount of  4L for £4.79.

It was all go when we got home as 1 caravan( pre booked regular visitor) had arrived, another small motorhome turned up without a booking and another motorhome who had been here yesterday had come back for another night. Then there was a message on the phone for another visitor for Saturday.
Washing to get in, eggs to collect and sort, campsite toilets to check and clean, dustbins to empty, and of course the bacon and other stuff  to sort out and put away.

Just need to finish the book now before the library van tomorrow.
Book Photo tomorrow folks!


Wednesday, 4 September 2013

When I'm cleaning windows

Anyone over forty-five will remember Windowlene. A thick pink stuff that was rubbed onto windows and then rubbed off again to get them clean. I think it was the only thing available at the time. I hate cleaning windows and I'm sure it was because my Mum, who was extremely houseproud, was often window cleaning and we would be inside the house telling her where the smeary bits were and then she would spend ages going in and out trying to get rid of all the Windowlene marks. So boring!
Cleaning the house windows has always been my job and I would have started out with Windowlene, and  moved onto a spray stuff when that became available. I've tried all sorts of things over the years but now I just use hot water and white vinegar and lots of old rags.
Anyway, I'd put off doing them as long as possible so got on with it after doing other jobs this morning. Him Outside came home after finishing the field rolling job and volunteered to do the insides while I was outside- he can reach across the kitchen worktops easier than I can. As I had help I carried on all around the downstairs outside, so he had to as well! He reckoned it was the hardest physical work he had done since he came home from hospital - poor old thing! As for the upstairs windows, they will have to wait a while longer.

First thing this morning I got on with some more preserving. This time I made 4 jars of Marrow and Ginger jam, and also made 2 loaves of bread. Home made bread and jam what could be better. At lunchtime I had a look at the blogs I read and there was Karen at Chelmarsh Chunterings also making bread and jam yesterday, strange coincidence.

My way of making Marrow and ginger jam differs from any recipe I've seen, putting bits of two recipes together- I do that a lot with jam and chutney making.

Marrow and Ginger Jam
3lb Marrow flesh cubed. ( Chickens will love the middle seedy bit and the skin)
Ginger. - Can be a piece of root ginger grated, 2 tsp ground ginger or some stem ginger preserved in syrup whichever you want.
2lb Gran sugar
Either the juice of a lemon or few tablespoons of bottled lemon juice.
1 sachet of pectin

Cover the marrow cubes with water, bring to boil  and then cook gently until they are starting to go soft and translucent. About 10 - 15 minutes.
Tip into a colander and leave to drain well for several minutes.
Into a preserving pan put 3/4 pint water, lemon juice and the sugar and heat gently until sugar is dissolving.
Add the strained marrow and cook until thickened. Keep stirring frequently as there is not much liquid.
I usually mash the marrow cubes up a bit as I'm cooking it rather than leave cubes.
Add sachet of pectin and boil for 4 more minutes.
Pot into sterilised jars and cover.

There are variations to this. Like using preserving sugar, grated zest of lemon and rest of lemon cooked in a muslin bag in the jam, instead of a sachet of pectin. Also one recipe where you use more water, the cubes are left quite big and then strained out into the jars with a slotted spoon. Then the remaining liquid is boiled hard to reduce and poured over the cubes in the jars.
I've had years when this has gone a bit mouldy.  It needs keeping in the fridge once opened.
Just realised that as this only makes 4 jars there is half a pound of sugar in each jar!

  This afternoon we sat out catching the lovely sunshine for half an hour but I got driven nuts by the noise of a loud whining tractor ploughing over the road. He then went off to pick up chicken feed before going to the first farm sale of the Autumn. It's unusual to have a sale starting at 4.30pm, I don't think there was anything we wanted up for sale but he will look for smallholder stuff going cheap which we can sell on via the Suffolk Smallholders Newsletter.

It's supposed to be very hot tomorrow and we've just heard that there might be muck spreading on the field all around us. That should be nice and smelly- we may have to go out!

 




Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Odds and ends on Tuesday

Had lots of phone calls yesterday for bookings for the campsite, so from having an almost empty diary a few days ago it is now looking much better. Good news indeed.

Him Outside went to move the irrigator for our farmer friend W this morning so he is really back into the swing of things, then he went back to rolling fields. His work manager ( at his old job where he does 3 or 4 days a month) thought that he would be entitled to some sick pay if he got a doctors sick note. We were very dubious about this and we were right, he isn't going to get any money from the council after all! He might be entitled to some statutory sick pay, we will find out. I didn't think self employed people got given anything. Anyway he is earning a bit of money again so we are not too bothered about it. He will need another couple of weeks rest after the next visit to Papworth (only two weeks away now) so will be able to start odd jobbing again in October.

Popped down to Leiston this morning and amazingly I found some yellow sticker sausages (Locally produced too) in the Coop Solar. £1.30 for 1lb, stocked up on three packs. Didn't bother with their reduced price lamb chops, £1.90 for two of the teeniest chops you did ever see. When we kept sheep and bred our own lamb we ate lots, but I can't remember when we last had some.
 They also had lots of yellow sticker bread rolls so I got a couple of packs of wholemeal to pop in the freezer just in case ( 40p). Although I make bread every week  it's handy to keep something in the freezer too.

I've discovered some comments on old blogs that I didn't know were there, so apologies to various people for not replying or even acknowledging them.( dreamer and Stacey plus Karen for comments on Sunday and Monday) Also welcome to Kev as a follower and there are new followers by Bloglovin too that I keep forgetting to look at - welcome one and all! Apparently I get emails via the blog somewhere too but don't know where they are!, so it's no point anyone emailing me!
 Judith has left a comment now and again and I thought her blog was called Terriersintiaras which is her user name, and was all about dogs!!. But I was being totally thick and her blog is Lemon Drops which I have added to my sidebar. I've deleted The Other Stuff from the list as Scarlet  is not posting anymore which is a shame. I must add Staceys blog to my list too. It's all going on on that sidebar! Kev said he liked the picture at the top of the blog and I know lots have people have been encouraged to  read or reread some of the books from the pile.
Talking of reading, did anyone see on the National News today the pictures of the HUGE new library opening in Birmingham. I wasn't overly impressed by the design of the outside - weird. But inside looks incredible. The thing people are worried about is that the huge expense of this new library will force some of the smaller branches in the city to close. My friend S in Hagley is planning to take a look at the new library when all of the fuss has died down. The news pictures today showed it absolutely packed out.
Having spent my ( only 10) working years in various types of libraries and an awful lot of time in them ever since, I'm always interested to hear about them in various parts of the country. I actually cried when Norwich (Norfolk) City library burnt down about 18 years ago ( maybe more years - time flies) losing all those wonderful books, libraries and people all over the world donated books for the new library.

Spotted these  ready today- figs number 4, 5, 6 and 7 more than we've had for ages. Lovely.

Nothing else of interest to report
Back tomorrow.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Red Hot Relish Recipe + Him Outside playing on a tractor

Yesterday morning was several degrees cooler, we didn't bother to go to a car boot sale so I decided to get started on this years chutney making.

First on the list was a recipe I do most years, which I concocted from two similar recipes.

Red Hot and Sweet Relish
4lb Plum tomatoes, skinned and rough chopped. ( I used the giant Andine tomatoes, only needed about 10!)
2 Very  Large red peppers, finely chopped
1lb Red onions chopped small
1 - 5 red chillies (depending how hot you want it. I use 2.) de-seeded and finely chopped ( Wear rubber gloves!)
2lb Gran sugar
1 tsp each salt,ground ginger, allspice.
1 pint white vinegar.
( For the best colour this really does need the red onions and white vinegar, and it doesn't work very well with normal tomatoes which have too many seeds and are more watery)


Put everything except the vinegar into a pan.
Stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved


 Bring to boil and cook gently for approx 1 hour until thick

I forgot to take a picture of it thickened- this is just after vinegar is added
 Add the vinegar and cook for 30- 50 minutes until thick again.
This picture doesn't show the lovely dark red colour very well
 Put into hot sterilised jars, cover, seal and label

There are 2 problems with this chutney or relish. ( I've never really understood the difference between a chutney and a relish) Firstly it doesn't make very many jars for all the work, although everything except the vinegar,sugar and spices are home grown so doesn't cost too much to make.
Secondly whenever the two oldest children come to stay they ask to take a jar home with them which leaves even less for us!

Meanwhile Him Outside went out to play on a Big(ish) Modern Tractor.
Our farmer friend W. ( he is the one who had to stop farming his land and go to work for someone else because his brother and sister wanted to retire and wanted their share of the farm) asked if HO could do some rolling of fields for the big company that farm everything around us as everyone else was tied up with the harvest and cultivating. He didn't need asking twice!

He is out driving up and down again today.




My long long blog about budgeting resulted in 1 comment! Well that was nearly a waste of time then!
Thanks Pam( and to S for emailing) But I shall not be like poor Scarlet ( The Other Stuff) who has given up blogging, ( I'm sad and will miss reading her blog) I shall carry on regardless!
Back tomorrow
PS Still lovely weather here- look at that blue sky on the tractor pic- beautiful.

 

Sunday, 1 September 2013

How we budget on the Simple Suffolk Smallholding.

This is the post that escaped onto the blog before it was finished. Apologies to anyone who read it, commented and then found it gone. Now it is finally finished and allowed out!

This is NOT a HOW TO DO IT budget, it is how WE budget.

 It is the way we do things now that we are both self employed, have paid off the mortgage, have no debts and only ourselves to worry about.
When Him Outside had a salary and when we had a mortgage and  3 children at home we did things differently.
Everybody is different! 

Budgeting is easy. All you have to do is spend less than you earn!

 Some people do, perhaps in the minority nowadays. The others end up juggling credit cards or living with  debt.

But what about when you can't be sure what you will earn each month . It means you have to be even more canny with your money when you have a good month.
Our theory is that each month we have to earn enough to cover the next months expenditure. In a good month( usually in summer) money can be saved to use in the bad months of winter.

Everything  is divided by 12 to work out how much we need each month, some are set up as monthly direct debits.

The items marked * are the things that can be reduced, checked, altered so that we don't have to go without all the things in the last list.

The first part of the  budget is to have enough for the things that are most important, things that involve bailiffs or fines or being cut off if you don't pay them.
These are
  • Council Tax 
  • Water Bill
  • Electricity Bill*
  • TV License
( Until we paid off the mortgage it would have been top of this list)

Then there are things that we are required to have to be able to do things legally
  • Public Liability and Business Insurance for campsite and smallholding
  • Jeep Insurance*
  • Jeep MOT 
  • Jeep Tax
  • Campsite  electric test and inspection
The things we need to pay for to be able to earn an income
  • Chicken Feed
  • Buying new Point of lay hens
  • Buying egg boxes
  • Phone and computer*
  • Diesel for the jeep*
  • Diesel for the tractor
  • Petrol for the mower and chainsaw
  • Campsite requisites*
  • Seeds for growing vegetables*
  • Replacing smallholding equipment *
  • Rent for the hay fields
Things we need for a normal everyday life
  • Food and drink*
  • Clothes and shoes*
  • Personal Hygiene etc *
  • Cleaning and Laundry *
  • Pre-payment prescription cards 
  • Saving for dentist and opticians
  • Bottled gas for the hob* 
  • Coal to keep the Rayburn in overnight*
  • Birthday and Christmas gifts for family*
 Things that could be gone without but we choose not to
  • House and contents insurance

    If there is enough for all the above then we put into savings
    • Money for the winter months
    • Money for occasional expenses like septic tank pump out.
    • Money to cover replacement household appliances etc
    • Savings for the unexpected
    And finally the  things that make life enjoyable but which could be managed without  if things get tough. This last list is, in a way, the most important. Because we want to be able to do these things, we look for ways to keep all the other amounts that need spending down to a minimum
    • Things for the garden but not for growing food
    • Bird feeding
    • Craft materials and hobbies
    • Days out and holidays and Christmas treats
    • Books 
    • Charity donations
    This is what we save on to afford that last list
        Council Tax is fixed and paid by direct debit.
        Water for the house is fixed based on old rates so not too expensive and paid by direct debit.. We have no sewer charges. ( septic tank drainage)
        Water for smallholding and campsite are metered and we get 2 bills a year. We catch as much rainwater as we can for garden but we can't restrict what the campers use. So part of the campsite pitch fees must cover water.
        Electric. With the Hook-ups and shower on the campsite plus normal household electric, this is a big bill twice a year but we can keep it lower when the campsite is closed by doing all the usual stuff like turning things off  etc. So a smaller bill in the other 2 quarters. We also installed solar thermal for heating water to stop us needing the immersion in summer when the Rayburn is not lit. Part of the campsite pitch fees must cover electric.
        TV licence is fixed so needs saving for each month.


        Public Liability and Business Insurance We have to have this for the campsite and smallholding. Not many companies do it for our small scale so we use the NFU. We do this by monthly Direct Debit.
        Jeep. I've mentioned before about this blinkin' expensive annoying thing. At the moment we are stuck with it so it has to be budgeted for. We shop around for insurance, it's cheap now we are old!
        Campsite Electrical Test and Inspection. This is a once a year check and we can't run the campsite without the certificate.

        Chicken feed, buying new Point of lay hens and egg boxes. Egg sales are one of our best sources of income so the price that we sell eggs for has to cover all these things and make a profit. We do get some egg boxes returned but some are too yucky to use again. so we bulk buy egg boxes.
        Phone and Computer Some campsite bookings come via email and many bargains found on internet. We try to keep phone costs down by using email. We just have cheap pay as you go mobiles.
        Diesel and Petrol. Money needs saving for fuel for jeep, ( we try to do several errands at the same time when we are out, to save diesel) for the mower to keep campsite cut and for the  chainsaw that provides our winter fuel.
        Campsite requisites are things like toilet roll, paper towels, cleaning stuff. I bulk buy paper towels from Viking when they are on offer.
        Seeds and plants for vegetables I save money on seeds by checking prices and number  of seeds  in packets from catalogues and searching out any special offers. We grow things we like and things that sell easily.
        Replacing smallholding equipment Him Outside goes to farm sales and looks on ebay for things we need for the smallholding, he repairs and rebuilds whenever he can.
        Rent for the hayfields doesn't have to be paid until after we have sold some hay.


        Food and Drink We hardly ever eat out and only have an occasional take-away. I bake and make from scratch most of the time, but we don't go without things we like.
        Clothes and shoes I avoid going anywhere that requires good clothes! Lots of things come from charity shops. Shoe spending is high for me because of foot problems.
        Personal Stuff. We cut each others hair, use cheap soap etc. I don't bother with makeup.
        Cleaning and Laundry I use Ecover liquids in very small amounts for washing machine ( with soda crystals added) and washing up. Vinegar, washing up liquid and bicarb  for most cleaning. Old tea towels  etc for cleaning cloths and dusters. Open windows for fresh air, line dry washing or over the Rayburn. Our VERY hard water here means that some cleaning needs something stronger like Harpic for the loo.
        Health we use a prepayment prescription card to save money and save up for dentist and optician visits.
        Bottled gas for the hob and coal We found a cheaper place to get the gas and only use coal when the weather is very cold to keep the Rayburn in overnight. Other heating is by wood, almost always free.
        Christmas and birthday gifts. I save all year for birthday and Christmas presents for our children and their partners. We've stopped doing birthday gifts for other family members. Christmas presents for extended family are bought all year around when I see things that might be good. I try really hard to think of things people will find useful, I hate to waste money on useless stuff. I make chutneys to give as gifts.
        House Insurance . I wouldn't want to be without this.

        Savings. Life is much easier with some money saved. Savings earn interest which is even better.
        As we never know what will happen next month, let alone next year we rely on these savings for the
        expected bills and the unexpected.

        By being frugal on some things we can afford to feed the birds, buy an occasional magazine or a cheap book from  Amazon, have some special food at Christmas, buy some craft things for card making, buy a shrub or tree for the garden, have a holiday every other year, have afternoons doing nothing in the summer, have trips out to visit car boot sales, do a tour of charity shops in a different town or to visit charity book sales. And to make a couple of small regular charity donations.

        Our way of life would be much too boring for many people but it suits us.