Friday, 31 January 2014

Last months frugal accomplishments

I usually look at a blog from the USA by The Prudent Homemaker. An incredible lady who home schools her children, does lots of craft things, gardens and cooks. Most weeks she has a blog called "Last weeks frugal accomplishments". That blog always makes me wonder what frugal things we have done in the last week, then I thought I would make a list for  the whole month.


Used a pheasant given to us for a meal
Made own bread  every week
Sewed hem on bath towel to repair it
Shortened legs and re-hemmed a pair of overalls
Read library books 
Stayed at home and spent nothing on 21/31 days
Used leeks, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, parsnips,parsley, swede from the garden.Onions from store.
Made celery soup using the outside stalks of a head of celery.
Used the Rayburn/woodburner for heating kettle as much as possible.
Used the Rayburn for cooking as much as possible.
Ate our own stored eating and cooking apples 
Used free wood for heating house/ water all month
Personal spend =25p
Looked at two craft magazines but decided against buying
Put off doing the washing each week until a dryish day therefore avoiding using tumble dryer

The trouble is, these seem just ordinary normal things to me, and perhaps we should do even more.

Thinking about that reminded me of something that's in one of those books in the picture at the top of my blog.
The book by Patrick Rivers called Living Better on Less has a list of choices which he calls " The Marmalade factor". He says you can apply this principle to anything you do to see how low/simple you want to be. This is how it goes-

Choice one: Buy favourite brand, regardless of cost
Choice  two: Buy a cheaper brand or special offer
Choice three: Buy cans of prepared pulp and make your own
Choice four: Buy Seville oranges and make proper home-made
Choice five:  Do without marmalade
Choice six: Do without breakfast

So, looking at my list of frugal things perhaps I shouldn't have bought that celery as we have things of our own that I could make soup with. Perhaps we shouldn't have gone to that jumble sale where I spent that 25p on a little jug. Perhaps we should eat food raw to save cooking in the electric oven when the Rayburn isn't hot enough!

Now I'm just being silly...........we will just carry on as before, being frugal our way.

Back Tomorrow, 1st February, so it's review of the month time.




 




Thursday, 30 January 2014

Odd jobs and lovely letters

Firstly welcome to Shaz and Vanessa who are new followers in the little pictures and bloglovin people are now up to 93 which I think is more than last time I looked so welcome to you too.

It's been two days of odd jobs for me here on the Simple Suffolk Smallholding. So apart from all the normal egg stuff, housework and food preparation, I got my old sewing machine out to sew up the hem on a bath towel and sort out the bottoms of a pair of Him Outsides overalls that were too long and kept dragging in the mud. Then a few sacks of kindling were chopped. The Craft Creations quarterly magazine arrived so I did a bit of fiddling about to make a card to enter into their competition. I've never won yet but have had cards featured in the Readers Gallery which earns a £10 voucher to use for stuff from their catalogue.

Meanwhile Him Outside  had a HUGE bonfire to burn up a lot of hedge and tree prunings and general rubbish. He has been waiting for the wind to be in the right direction since November. Then this morning he went to Leiston to work for a customer. He came home with a cheque for today's work and a couple of bits of fencing work that he did a while back. The pay slip came for his last lot of council work so we are feeling wealthy today! The cheque will go into his ISA and the Council money will be in the bank for next months direct debits.

Also in the post were 2 letters for me. I love getting letters and I've mentioned before that I belong to a group of ex readers of The Penny Pincher Paper ( A small privately published newsletter that ran for about 5 years in the 90's) where we take in turns to write a letter each month. Well, thanks to this blog we gained a new member and it was her turn for a letter for February. What a treat, thank you A. My other letter was from my Scottish penfriend on her windy Island where the ferry occasionally doesn't arrive due to the weather.

Did anyone watch Midsummer Murders last night? We love it because it's just so outrageously ridiculous and it keeps lots of actors in work! There aren't many things on TV that make me laugh out loud but when the ad for  last nights episode said it involved the death of a man by being gored by a wild boar after being tied to a tree and rubbed with truffle oil, I just had to laugh - loudly! There is a dog on the programme called Sykes and we reckon he is the real star of the show!

Now to cheer us up, here are  a couple of photos of last summer. It WILL be summer at some time this year - hopefully - if only it stops raining long enough.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Chickens and eggs - the rules and regs.

This is an updated version of something I wrote a few years ago when we did a smallholders information day here for members of the Suffolk Smallholders Society.

Selling eggs

Lots of people keep a few chickens for eggs for themselves and their friends and neighbours. Usually there are no problems, but every now and again chickens somewhere in the country will get some nasty disease or pick up salmonella. THAT'S when the problems might start.

We've been keeping chickens for their eggs for most of the last 35 years, sometimes just two or three and sometimes, as now, over 100. We've got to know how to keep them to avoid problems and keep within new regulations that were introduced after the last bird flu scare.

PLEASE NOTE- THIS IS THE WAY I UNDERSTAND THE RULES TO BE IN ENGLAND. Things may be different in Wales and Scotland. Rules may have changed that I don't know about yet or I may have misinterpreted something. So please don't take this as gospel. Look it up for yourself!

If you are not selling eggs or giving them away you can more or less do what you like BUT as soon as you do start selling or even giving half a dozen to a neighbour then it's better to be safe than sorry.

If you keep over 50 hens you must register with the National Poultry Register. This costs nothing and is just a way for the authorities to know where large numbers of hens are kept and to be able to notify owners if there are any health problems in their area. You can also register if you have less than 50 hens. There is  one form to fill in and return each year.

If you keep over 250 hens then you must be registered and have a producer number allocated.Then you have to stamp eggs with the number and dates etc - complicated.

If you keep under 250 hens, and don't stamp the eggs, then eggs must be sold (or given) directly to the person who is going to use them  (at the gate, from people coming to your door or by delivering the eggs directly). In other words you can't sell them to a shop who are then going to sell them on unless they are stamped with your number.

Eggs should be sold in new boxes. Now here's a daft thing- You can put eggs out for sale on a tray and supply a pile of any old boxes for people to pack them into. BUT if you put them in the boxes they should be new. ( If you use plain grey boxes I'm not sure how anyone knows if they are new or not as long as they are CLEAN). Egg boxes pick up smells very easily  so if you are returning boxes to someone make sure they are clean and haven't been kept in a smokey house or beside the washing powder.

You must not sort eggs into sizes for selling unless you are a registered packing station.

Eggs that you sell must be perfect - NO CRACKS OR ODD SHAPES. This is why the large scale producers get rid of their chickens after a year as the eggs are not such good quality. I keep odd and cracked eggs to use ourselves or give them away to family.

Eggs sold or given away should be clean. Easier said than done in this winters weather.
Never immerse eggs in water - they are porous.
People who keep and sell eggs on a large scale  have an automatic machine brushing thing. Of course this is why battery hens were popular as they had a roll away system and the chickens never got muddy feet or had a chance to sit on the egg they had laid.

We try first to clean muddy eggs with a dry cloth and then resort to a sterile egg wash. Just a few drops in warm water and a clean cloth every day and try not to get the eggs too wet. Dry with a sheet of clean kitchen roll.

To help with keeping eggs clean use plenty of clean straw in the shed and in the nest boxes. Collecting eggs several times a day will help.

 Our method in winter is to use electric light to extend daylight ( Hybrid Chickens need 16 hours of light to keep laying regularly, pure bred chickens will often go off lay in winter) which is on a timer coming on in the early hours of the morning about 3am. I can then collect a basket of clean eggs at about 7.45am.when I let them out.  I collect again at around 1.30. The chickens are then able to put themselves to "bed" at dusk as usual.

You must not advertise eggs as Free Range, Freedom Food, Organic or anything else unless you are registered with the appropriate organisation.

I have a notice on our stall which says " Eggs are always sold within 3 days of being laid. For best results keep the eggs in the fridge and use within 2 weeks of buying them".  We normally put eggs out for sale the day after they are laid. Usually they are sold by the end of the day. People like to buy our eggs because they know they are fresh.
We also have Public Liability Insurance which is mainly because we have to have it for the campsite but it also covers all the things we do on the holding including egg selling. If anyone sells or gives away eggs that are contaminated then they run the risk of prosecution which could result in compensation of tens of thousands of pounds having to be paid.
So take care when you keep chickens for eggs to sell or to give away.


Back with a normal post tomorrow

PS Welcome to follower 132 and many thanks for comments yesterday.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

More seed sowing

A few weeks ago I sowed peppers, tomatoes in the windowsill electric propagator and also parsley. Both the parsley and peppers germinated well but the toms were almost a disaster. No idea why.
So today I pricked out the peppers and the few tomato seedlings and have re-sown some more. It was freezing out in the shed using cold compost. The seedlings are back on the kitchen windowsill with some foil behind them to reflect the light. Perhaps the tomatoes will do better second time around. I also had an extra bread baking session this morning as we ate nearly a whole loaf when our friends were here on Sunday!

Him Outside has been busy all day- between the showers - yes, MORE rain again today. First he moved the small chicken shed. We really need to move the middle sized shed but there is just too much mud to get the tractor close enough without doing even more damage, but he did get it cleaned out by using the ride on mower and the trailer.
He also roughly fitted the four pieces of the framework of the new toilet shed together, only to discover it is 2 inches longer than the concrete base - Whoops! A small bit of alteration needed there!

We've had our first campsite booking for Easter. Thank goodness Easter is late this year, more time for it to dry out. This spurred me on to sort out all of last years campsite accounts ready to fill in my tax form when it arrives at the start of the new Tax Year. With the Personal Tax Allowance now up to over £9000 for 2013-2014, I won't be paying any tax this year. Good!

Thank you to Karen, Bridget, Cro and Lynda for yesterdays comments and commiserations regarding the weather. Also Pam in Norway commented that they have 2 metres of snow and haven't seen the sun for weeks so I guess we are lucky just having a bit of mud to contend with.

Sorry, no interesting photos, no interesting frugal tips, no other news.

Back Tomorrow

Monday, 27 January 2014

Rain again - Oh what a surprise

How long is this weather going on for? We had 6 hours of continuous rain yesterday and yet another 3 hours this morning.

Thank you for all the comments re the missing blog on Saturday. Syrahsuzie said she reads via Feedly and the blog is still readable there. That's even odder ( I'm guessing Feedly is like Bloglovin but I'm not really sure).

Him Outside spent the morning in the workshop making the wooden frame for the 4th side of the new mens toilet shed for the campsite. We also had an email booking for the campsite today - for August - I hope the campsite has dried out well before then.

I just stayed indoors and did the boring ironing and housework, put the remaining lamb from yesterdays roast through the mincer ready for a shepherds pie and read some more of my new library books.

A quiet news day so..................
Back Tomorrow

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Sunday Visitors

Our friends from Essex came up to see us today, but the weather has been atrocious  so we were forced to stay in and natter. Lots of book ideas exchanged, lots of news caught up on, lots of lovely roast dinner eaten.
A good day all round.

Back tomorrow.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

The mystery of the vanishing blog

I did a post about the weather today - St Paul's day and an old rhyme about the predictions for the future depending on today.
But it vanished
1 person commented
45 people viewed it
Then Puff off it went into cyberspace,
It also had a bit about woodcutting
More logs for our fire
Then it vanished
All that is left unless I write it all over again is this picture
Him Outside cutting the dead larch from our neighbours into logs ready for splitting.

So where did it go?
and How?

The answer my friend is blowing in the wind!

Back tomorrow............or Monday

Friday, 24 January 2014

It's library van day

As always every 4th Friday here is a picture of my books picked up from the library van

 Several new crime, both modern and historical, by some favourite authors. A new author recommended by a friend, The final part of the Cazalet quintet, some craft books to look through and the Super Scrimpers book from the TV series. Should keep me occupied for a while.

It seems that we have had the best of the weather here in the East. After a frosty start it's been blue skies and sunshine  all day so far, as I write at 3pm. A good day for drying the washing at last.
Him Outside was able to get some hedges trimmed back along the front of the house and then cleaned out another chicken shed. I got held up at the doctors waiting for a blood test for half the morning ( not really, but it seemed like it). Then a bit of shopping and home again. Lots of odd bits of cleaning, tidying and egg sorting this afternoon and now time for a look at these new books. Which to read first - decisions, decisions!

Oooops, nearly forgot to say Thank you for lots of lovely list comments yesterday.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Loving lists!

Yet another mixed day of greyness and heavy rain, with just a glimpse of sunshine now and again.  Him Outside took the van back to Ipswich and I went into Saxmundham for a bit of shopping at Tesco and to pick him up from the noon train. No bargains in Tesco - actually I didn't even look as I didn't want to spend anything more than what was on my list. We have visitors at the weekend and I wanted a punnet of cress for egg sandwiches. Do you know Tesco don't sell cress in January? " we only have it in the summer" she told me! how odd. I have to go to the doctors in Leiston tomorrow and I'm sure Co-op will have some.

A few days ago NYK over at Frugaldom had a blog about lists.

I love lists so thought I would share my lists with you.( whether you want me to or not!!)

The Next Time Shopping List This is where I note down something that we need next time I shop Things are listed under Saxmundham and Leiston ( Tesco or Co-op).

The Next Month Shopping List   This is for the main shop, things we need but not straight away.

The Next Time in Ipswich List This is where I make a note of things that we need from Ipswich, we might only go every second or third month and use the cheap shops to stock up on things that are much more expensive here. Plus things we can't buy locally at all.

The Job List.   It always has Bread and Kindling at the top ( I'm not sure why as I never forget to make bread!) Then when I think of something that needs doing I make a note. This list is longest in the spring and summer. I don't bother to include jobs like egg collecting that are done everyday or normal housework jobs - that would be boring!

The Dinner List Not a menu plan but a rough idea of what we will have over the next week or so.

The Car Boot List I do this each year before the car boot season starts to remind me what I'm looking for.

The Books I've read List  When I started work in a Library aged 16 in 1971, I found several of the staff had little books that they wrote down everything they read. Of course I started one too and all these years later I still have it, an ABC index book that is a bit tatty and held together by sellotape, it's had lots of extra pages stuck in too. It's like a life history in books!

The Books to Look Out for List  I frequently look on Fantastic Fiction to see if any of my favourite Authors have new books coming out. Also on the Amazon recommended list. Book ideas get written down and then ordered from the library.

The Christmas Present and Card List  I started this book way, way back and for each year it has names and gifts on one page and the card list on another.

The Amazon Wish List  This is where I make a note of books I would like to have to keep. Handy for family to look at for Christmas and Birthdays.

There are temporary lists too. Like the Seed List. I write this one each autumn ready to work out what we need to buy for growing for us and to sell.
 And the When we have visitors List  This is where I make a list of what we will have for dinner and tea when friends or family come for the day.

I have been known to write something on a list that I've already done so I can cross it off straight away!

Well, I think that's the end of my list of lists for the time being.

Back Tomorrow



Wednesday, 22 January 2014

A blogging dilemma

What do you do if you see something on a blog that is against all hygiene rules?
Not rules made just for fun but to keep people safe from nasty things like Salmonella.
Do I mention it in a comment or is it none of my business?

I don't think it's possible for the weather to get any nastier than what we have here today. It's very grey with rain blowing in the wind and not very warm either and it's been like this since the earlier hours.
Then Andy Murray gets himself knocked out of the Australian Open tennis!

I shall collect the eggs, get them sorted, do some veg to go with a pheasant for tea, then settle down in the warm with a good book.

A slow Wednesday for frugal news so.......
Back tomorrow.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Chinesey Recipe For Pork Belly Slices

The other day I posted  a blog with a list of meat and fish in the freezer  and was asked what I do with Pork Belly Slices. ( Often found Yellow Stickered in our Co-op or value pack from Sainsburys)

This is my recipe.

For each person - The sauce recipe here is for 2-3 people
1 large, 2 medium or 3 small belly pork slices. (This depends how much meat you like to eat)

Cut each slice into pieces about 2 to 3 inches long
Cook them in a hot oven about 200 C for15 to 20 minutes,turning once. Drain off fat.

Combine together 5 Tablespoons Hoi Sin Sauce.( DON'T USE a cook -in sauce that already has water in it. I use Sharwoods Marinade. You will only need about a third of the bottle but this keeps OK in the fridge once opened.)
2 Tbsp soft brown sugar,
 2 fl oz Soy Sauce,
3 fl oz water,
2tsp Chinese Five Spice Powder,
1tbsp vinegar.

Pour this over the slices and baste well
Cook for another 30 - 40 minutes. Same temp. Baste frequently
Serve with stir fry vegetables and noodles or rice.

Our stir fry is usually just carrot, onion and peppers ( courgettes in season) I don't go and buy a packet of stir fry veg - too expensive.
This is not a particularly frugal meal,  The Hoi sin sauce is over £1 a bottle, but  is a tasty way to use a cheap cut of meat.

Many Thanks  to Gill at Frugal in Derbs, Sadie in Ipswich, Cro in France, Lynda, Bridget in Dorset, Morgan in the Fens, Lavender Sanctuary, Pam in Tydd, Dartford Warbler, The Weaver of Grass and Em on Dartmoor for comments over the last few days and apologies for not replying individually. I've also not got around to leaving many comments on my regular reads lately - where does the time go?

Dartford Warbler is also a new follower in the pictures - welcome to you, I seem to be attracting new followers every day which is lovely.

Today was Him Outside's last day doing the temporary inspections job for the County Council then he can hang up the bright orange overalls for the time being or forever!

 His manager has no idea if they will have enough money after April to employ him again, but
he has plenty to do here and for other people so we are not worried. The money he has earned over the last couple of months has been a lovely unexpected bonus which will cushion us through to campsite opening and the growing season.

I was in the utility room skinning and gutting a couple of pheasants ( as you do when you live in the country and someone brings them round for you!) when I glanced up to see a Kestrel flapping about by a wire netting fence. I thought it had got caught up somehow and was just going out to see if I could help when it flew off carrying a blackbird! All around the garden were a dozen or more small birds hiding in the hedges shouting in alarm. Then the whole garden went quiet and for nearly an hour, there were no birds on the feeders or in the trees.

Apart from preparing pheasants I also rustled up another batch of soup, I'm getting quite addicted to soup making! Today it was made using 2 leeks and the last bag of plum tomatoes from the freezer. Along with a squidge of tomato puree and a spoonful of flour to thicken, a vegetable stock cube and a teaspoon of sugar it made a very delicious soup to last us for a couple of days lunches.

That's it for Tuesday, Back Tomorrow.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Monday jobs with Sunday photos

 It might be cheap to have wood for heating but it is time consuming. So while it was fine yesterday we did lots of wood moving. We have a HUGE heap of long large logs seasoning up against the fence, of course this winters weather means that they are very wet so some have  been moved under shelter to dry out ready for cutting, but before we could shift them we had to make a space by moving a builders bag full of logs from one shed to another.
Then we decided that it would be a good idea to cut down a couple of the dead elms that are in our boundary hedge as they are ready for burning almost straight away. Dutch Elm disease wiped out all the big Elms back in the 70s but from their bases small elms grow for maybe 10 years before also succumbing to the disease.The twiggy bits snapped easily to make a good big box of kindling wood. Finally Him Outside cut some old pallets to make small stuff for mixing in with  the larger logs. We are waiting to borrow a log splitter as we have a lovely  heap of big logs nice and dry ready for splitting. A year ago Him Outside wouldn't have thought twice about doing it with an axe, but after the heart thing it seems wiser to make life as easy as possible. That's why we are so glad that we bought the small trailer for the mower - it's a great help.

Why is this blurred? Because I realised that if I didn't shift backwards PDQ it was going to land on my head!

Wood to keep us warm for several days and there are still some dead elms to come down another day.

So onto today, which according to the radio is Blue Monday. This is the day when half the population suddenly realise that they spent too much at Christmas, they have several days to wait until payday and their credit card bill has arrived.
Was it Blue Monday here? No off course not! Monday is bread making day. I'm making 1 round loaf in a cake tin at the moment as the other week a lot of the black  non stick on one of my  good deep bread tins all came off on the bottom of the bread. Although I've looked everywhere locally and in the Lakeland Catalogue I can't find another one as deep, plenty of shallow ones but they will make such a small slice of bread.I shall have to resort to ebay.

Him Outside was away early to work for the County Council and apart from bread making I tackled some routine housework.
Lunch was some delicious celery soup made from a few outside bits of a celery head. Cheap and Easy.
Dinner is a vegetable curry using part of a butternut squash, two leeks, an apple and some pepper from the freezer, with a large dollop of courgette chutney. In other words completely home made except for the curry powder and the rice to go with it. Cheap and Easy again!

I forgot to watch Call the Midwife last night as we had the snooker final on and I was deep into a library book -- One Woman's War by Eileen Younghusband. She was a clever young woman who joined the special services part of the WAAF and trained  to work with the new RADAR. She had to sign the official secrets act  so wasn't allowed to talk about her job until the 1970s.

Welcome to new followers - Catt on bloglovin and Bovey Belle in the little pictures on the right.
Hope you enjoy my tales of a quiet life in Suffolk.

Back Tomorrow

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Is it me?

I had 5 Live radio on this morning while I was doing a bit of cutting in the craft room and two people were having a heated discussion about the owner of Hull City Football club who wants to change their name to Hull Tigers. Of course the fans don't want to change. The owner says he will leave and take his money with him if the name isn't changed.

Seems to me they could just call themselves Hull City Tigers and everyone would be happy.
 Or is that just too simple?

It was pouring with rain first thing this morning -AGAIN- when I went to let the chickens out.  You haven't experienced mud until you've seen the mess that 60+ chickens make in their chicken run when we haven't been able to move the shed for ages! Luckily the 24 in the small shed are OK for grass and the 50+ in the big unmoveable shed are right up near the pond and under trees so it's drying out better. At least they are all still laying plenty of eggs.
The sun came out after lunch but I fear it's only a short interlude before more rain in the week.

Welcome to some new followers, thank you for clicking that button - Mrs G, Kim, Clara and number 89 on bloglovin. too - Claire.

That's my lot for today, photos of tree felling tomorrow!

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Saturday - going out and out again.

Nothing much planned for this morning so we decided to pop to the viewing  at the local Auction house to see what they've got for sale on Monday. It's about 10 miles away and we often think it would be good to go regularly, but of course we rarely get around to it. It's very difficult to look round, all the interesting "odds" are in boxes under the tables but if you bend down to look then no one can get down the narrow passage way between tables. I think  most of the stuff gets sold to folk doing car boot sales.It didn't see anything I wanted or needed.
We picked up a sack of potatoes on the way home as we've almost come to the end our own homegrown ones. 25kg for £6.40 - much cheaper than last year. Then stopped at Tesco for milk so I looked at the price of their value spuds - £1.18 for 2.5kg., almost double the price of buying by the sack.
This afternoon a rare trip out to a Jumble Sale in Aldeburgh. It was packed out, oh for the good old days when there was a jumble sale every Saturday afternoon! I spent the grand total of 50p.
The jug is for my shelves and the little perfume bottle will go to in the carboot box as  I'm sure it's worth more than 25p.

That was our Saturday, apart from Him Outside doing a few odd jobs outside and the regular chicken and egg work.
The bloke who owes us money for hay came round with £125 and a sob story ( he SAID he was going to settle up ......he's been owing us over £350 since September). I hate owing and being owed money.

A warm welcome to some new followers by bloglovin.

Back tomorrow

 

Friday, 17 January 2014

Wassailing the apple trees + whats in the freezer

I said yesterday that today, January 17th, was  a special day in the apple orchard. 17th January was Twelfth Night before the calenders were  changed. In many parts of the West Country Old Twelfth Night is the night for getting into the Orchard for a party and a bit of Wassailing.
So we shall go wassailing in the orchard in the hope of a crop as good as last years. If you want to join in  just soak some slices of bread in apple juice or cider and hang them on the tree.

Then Recite this poem
Old apple tree, we wassail thee, and hope that you will bear,
Hat-fulls,cap-fulls,three-bushel bagfulls
And a little heap under the stairs
Hip! Hip! Hooray!
Hit the trees with a stick as you say it!

Drink the rest of the cider.

Who knows if it will work, certainly does no harm.
( in some of my books of traditions Old Twelfth Night was the 16th, but tonight will do)

Him Outside was away early again working for the County Council, dodging the showers. Plenty of those last night and this morning. Water is standing all over our flat meadow even more than before.
I was doing more housework and odd jobs and getting the Tomato seeds into the propagator
I've sown a few of each of 4 varieties
Favorita- A cherry tom.
Shirley. F1 the best for poly tunnel growing 
San Marzano - a  plum tomato, these didn't do too well last year but as I had seeds left I want to use them
Agro - Not tried these before. Again a Plum tom but perhaps better for poly tunnels than San Marzano

A lovely parcel in the post today was my surprise giveaway gift from Morgan at Growing in the Fens. I've been lucky lately with two gifts, if I was a person who gambled by buying  lottery tickets I would be thinking I was on a winning streak and  buy lots, but I'm not so I won't!
A beautiful soft scarf, 3 little notebooks and a bar of chocolate - YUM.
Thank you Morgan.

Unlike many bloggers, I don't do menu plans. As I've said before we economize in many ways so that we don't have to economize so much on food. For  many years here we produced all our own meat which means there was always something in the freezer, and of course almost all our vegetables are growing in the garden.  I've also not worked full time for a long time so have been at home to rustle something up everyday. I don't shop weekly for meat or fish preferring to stock up when we are shopping in various places. So we might only go to Sainsbury once every 3 months and then I'll stock up on value bacon, 3 for £10 packs of mince and stewing steak. Every now and again we go to a butchers about 20 miles away for cheap chicken thighs and chicken wings. From the Co-op I get anything with a Yellow sticker ( not very often) and locally produced sausages and occasionally a pack of their ham off cuts. From the local butcher I will buy whole chickens. I have a rough idea each week of what we will have for dinner but I'm quite flexible. I usually just get something out of the freezer the night before we eat it.

Our cheapest meals are probably omelet ( free eggs), vegetable curry  or a veggie quiche.
When my mind goes completely blank - about once a month-  we'll have Fish ( Tesco Frozen in breadcrumbs) or fish fingers and chips. I also keep Tesco small value pizzas in the freezer and then top them with home made topping - batch made and stored in boxes - and some cheese.

Today I had a sort out of the chest freezer and this is what we have to make a meal from - enough for ages!
2 Packs of Sainsburys value salmon trim
2 Packs  of 12 Fish Fingers
1 and a half Tesco  small value pizzas
1 Pack of stewing steak
1 Pack of minced beef, divided before freezing into 3 small amounts.
1 Box of  Home made meatballs in spicy tomato sauce
6 Homemade Pasties
2 Home made Beef and beer pies
3 Packs of 2 Bacon chops ( Sainsburys value cooking bacon separated before freezing)
2  Half pound packs of bacon bits  "   "    "    "   "   "   "   "     "        "        "          "        )
1 Pack of sausage meat
1 Pork tenderloin ( for pork medallions in cream sauce -  this is our special occasion meal!)
2 Small chickens ( Butcher often has these packs of 2 on special offer.)
1 Pack of 4 Chicken wings
1 pack of 2 yellow sticker pork chops
1 Pack of  yellow sticker Pork belly slices
2 Home made pastry quiche bases

Wow what a list! We won't go hungry will we?





Thursday, 16 January 2014

Searching for spring

The day started cloudy yet again so I went out around the garden to look for something that would show that spring was on the way and I found the first snowdrops under the cherry tree
 A few violets under the Horse Chestnut
 The first Hellebore
Daffodil shoots in the bed where we grow lots to sell.
The only worry is that with it being so mild  we may still be in for some harsh weather in February.

Him Outside was away early to do some more permanent repairs to the fence for one of his customers in Leiston. He did the temporary repair before Christmas but she was getting worried that he would have to stand on all her bulbs in the garden by the fence if he left it any later.

I made some tomato and herb rolls and tried a recipe for chocolate cheesecake. If it turns out OK I want to make it for when our friends come round. A. has to limit the gluten in her diet so I'm always looking for desserts that don't use very much flour. My other job was to prick out the lettuce seedlings, they have got very lanky on the kitchen windowsill with this gloomy weather so I'm not sure how they will survive, but hey ho you have to try. I also filled some more small seed trays and have put them in my little electric propagator to warm up ready for tomato seeds. The peppers sown on the 4th are looking OK. Germination is 80%. A nice surprise was seeing the parsley seed come up. Using an old packet of seed doesn't always work but lots have germinated.

That's it for today.

Back tomorrow - January 17th - a special day in the apple orchard!

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

A gloomy start to a dismal day

I nearly needed a torch this morning when I went up the field to let the chickens out at quarter to eight, it was so dark and gloomy and Very Very wet. There's nothing we can do about mud in the chicken runs as it's too wet to slide the big shed on its runners to move them.

The weather didn't improve much later although it did stop raining by mid morning. Him Outside was working for the County Council again and I ( having fully recovered from the lurgy) was doing all the odd housework type jobs that I'd not done for several days. Upstairs hoovering, sorting out the spare room, putting things back in their proper places and cleaning the shower screen and bathroom. By the way if anyone has a glass shower screen and hard water then I can recommend Ecover Limescale Remover. I had tried all my normal cleaning ideas - vinegar, soda crystals or washing up liquid with no success and because we have a septic tank I didn't want to use any of the nasty stuff you can buy. The Ecover works really well and like all their stuff you only need a little so it lasts for ages. ( This is not a Ecover ad but I do like their products). The thing with a septic tank drainage - or as they prefer to call it in house for-sale ads "Private Drainage" is that you know exactly where your waste is going and if something goes wrong it's your fault.

The rain was just about to start again when I went around the field after lunch for the second egg collection. By 3pm I needed the light on to read.

I've worked my way through the fiction books on my library book  haul( pictured here) .
Kate Ellis - The shadow collector ...............Very good read as always
James Oswald - Natural Causes.....................New author for me - really enjoyed it
Pam Rhodes - Fishers of men.....................A light read with a dose of religion
Alys Clare - The Winter King...................Excellent as usual
Angela Thirkell - High Rising................... Written in the 1930's recently republished. Witty
Anne Perry - A Christmas Garland...........One of her quick read Christmas Novellas
Barbara Clevely -Bright Hair about the bone ............Gave up half way through
Barbara Nadal - An act of kindness.......2nd in a new series, very Gruesome, skimmed through it.
Miss Read - Mrs Griffin sends her love.....Although this isn't classified as fiction, some bits are, there
                         are also letters and the story of how she came to write her village school series.

I thought I would enjoy the Island Wife by Judy Fairbairns but it's written in an odd way and I gave up.
I couldn't decide which to read next but picked one that I had for Christmas - Mrs Miles's Diary by Constance Miles. The Wartime Journal of a Housewife on the Home Front. Another excellent book to add to my collection of Wartime Diaries.

Not much to write about today and now it's time to get the chicken wings in sticky chili sauce into the oven.

Back Tomorrow, when I hope the weather is a bit brighter.

PS Thanks to everyone for comments about the reasons that people suddenly stop blogging and welcome to follower 125.




Tuesday, 14 January 2014

A visit to the physio + other stuff.

I started blogging on Blogspot in April 2013 and soon found lots of blogs that I liked reading so added them to my blogroll over on the right ready to just pop in when they did a new post.
What I've noticed is how many folk suddenly stop blogging either with no notice or just a quick goodbye and another group post very rarely so fall to the bottom of the blogroll.
I expect there are 101 reasons for stopping a blog but being a nosy old women I want to know why?!

        *************

 We are SO lucky here as we can refer ourselves  ( or be referred) to a physio and we just have to pop 6 miles down to Aldeburgh Community Hospital  - all for free.
I'm already doing exercises given to me 3 years ago  for lower back tightness. I remember to exercise when my back aches........as you do.
Now I've got some new ones to do to work the muscles in my bum! so that sitting on a hard flat chair doesn't hurt so much. This involves, you'll be enthralled to know, much buttock clenching!

*************

After Aldeburgh I came home via Leiston Co-op, where they had obviously over ordered calabrese and had a huge pile of them reduced to 60p each. I love calabrese but it's one of those veg that we don't have often because if we grow it, it tends to all come at once and then rapidly goes to seed. We try and eat our own stuff before buying but it's good to have a 60p treat. I will use half tonight ( of course I sorted through to find the biggest!) with a tin of value tuna and some pasta in a bake and half tomorrow in a stir fry with carrots, onion, red peppers then served with some chicken wings that have been cooked in a sticky sauce and some noodles.

************

Him Outside did some work for the County Council today, he has just 4 days left to do and then they are getting in a temporary full time person to catch up on the inspection work. It could be the end of his council work. We're not too worried as I'm sure he'll still find plenty to do.

*************

Bookings for the campsite are now starting to come in by phone.( We open in April) One caller alerted me to the fact that our campsite appears on  a website called Campsite review with conflicting details to the official Camping and Caravanning club website. How annoying that is - who put our details on this other site? There were no actual reviews for our site so it all seems a bit pointless.


As always, thanks for the comments on yesterdays blog, and welcome to new followers now totaling 124 in the pictures and 86 on bloglovin'.

That's it for today

Back tomorrow


Monday, 13 January 2014

Well, I don't know what it was, but I'm glad it's gone!

It wasn't flu, had that in 1989, and once you've had proper flu you really know it. It wasn't a cold, haven't had one of those for 3 years. So just a virus, but the nastiest thing I've had for years. Made even worse as it was  the weekend when all the family were here for the after Christmas get together. There they were all having a good natter in the living room and I'm flat out on the sofa in the kitchen, half asleep,feeling sick, alternating between being hot and cold, aching from top to toe and hardly enough strength to even hold a book!

Oh well, it's more or less gone now, just need to get some energy back after not eating anything much or doing anything for 4 days.

So here are "our lot".

Our 3 in the front and their partners behind them. Next time we're all together it will probably be at H and J's wedding ( that's them on the left). They've been together for ages and are both into their 30's so they've decided to arrange the wedding for the end of this year, hopefully, although it seems to me that planning a wedding in 2014 is a darn sight more complicated than it was back in 1979. Luckily H is quite happy and very able to do the organising for herself.
 I haven't worn a dressy dress for about 20 years so I think I shall need some help finding something. And as for a hat.... Ha Ha Ha!( H, Please don't make me wear a hat !)

I managed to stay upright long enough on Saturday for the secret Santa present swap ( a book about being a house maid in the 1930's for me and some liquorice and beer for Him Outside) and then for a photo with the children.

When H was  here yesterday she found out how to use picmonkey to edit out all the rest of the room on the top photo but of course when I tried to edit another photo today, picmonkey wouldn't let me in and just kept telling me the Adobe flash player had crashed and when I tried to reload that, it wouldn't let me do that either. I HATE COMPUTERS. No that's not true, what I hate is not really knowing what I'm doing so that things don't do what I'm expecting them to do. Luckily M was still here and said save the blog, turn it right off and start again. So I did and hey presto! picmonkey did it no problem. I'm  grateful to Sadie( another Suffolk blogger) at Life in the English Rain, for sharing the info about this free photo editing site. Photos will be a lot more interesting from now on.

 So here we are, two "old folk" with our offspring, neither me or Him Outside had bothered to dress up for the photo so I said we'll have to hide these old T shirts!

A HUGE ginormous Thank you to everyone for the get well wishes on Friday. I'm rarely ill and don't usually tell people if I am, but thought I had better explain the absence after being such a regular daily blogger since April.

Back tomorrow, now off to read all the blogs I've missed since Friday .... I may be gone sometime!

Friday, 10 January 2014

FLU?

I've gone down with something that feels like flu. Annoying. I haven't had a cold for 3 years. Now ache all over. laying down and resting!
Back ASAP

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Goat tales + who had the last laugh me or Tesco?

After mentioning that I'm thinking about keeping goats again there were lots of comments. Dreamer and Stacey W want me to keep goats so they can read about them on the blog.
That would be an expensive way of finding something to write about!
Gill will be jealous and might stop reading! and Kev asked why we gave up keeping them.

There were several reasons. We were thinking about moving to Wales, our neighbour who milked for us when we were on holiday had started to get arthritis in her hands and with the children moved out we didn't need as much milk. The first person who planned to buy our goats then backed out, we gave up the moving plan when we searched for a house and found that everyone selling was English, moving back to England, had bought when prices were high, and wanted daft amounts for their houses,  and then to cap it all I wasn't well for a while. By the time I was better and the house move was cancelled a new enthusiastic buyer had appeared on the scene. So we sold the girls and didn't regret it. Goats are a real tie, it's easy to ask someone to feed chickens and collect eggs but not so simple to find a goat milker. Even a long day out needed someone to come and check them.
You can't keep one goat on it's own and they need mating at least every other year to keep producing milk. That's not easy now as there are all sorts of movement restrictions.
( Only totally insane people keep a Billy goat !!)
But they are such gorgeous animals to keep, loads of character and it's lovely having fresh milk everyday without needing to go the the shop. The smallholding just doesn't seem right without them.
Another BUT - The price of a good milking goat is now around £200! They were around £50 for years and when you want to buy goats it's always hard to find any for sale.

Here are a couple of photos of the goats we had at various times - can you see why I loved them!

On the plus side - I kept my stainless steel milking bucket!
So we shall think about it. Or I will think about it and let Him Outside know what I decide!
*****************************


And now a question   --  Who had the last laugh me or Tesco?

Last week I did my main monthly shopping at Tesco and at the till I was given a £4 off £30 spend ( to use before tomorrow) and a £2.56 voucher because my shopping was more expensive than elsewhere, I also had several through-the-post vouchers for things I buy.
Now today I needed to shop for a few things, milk, celery, fruit and  three  things missed off the list last week. That would probably have come to about £10. So my dilemma was :-
 1. Do I just get what I need and not use the vouchers
2. Or do I spend extra on some store cupboard stuff, make the most of the voucher which is after all more than10% off.
Have I got £30 pounds available - YES

So YES I did use the vouchers and I counted up as I went round and got £32.24 of things I needed today and things for the store cupboard for £24.18p.

So did I win by saving  £8 on food or did they win by making me spend more than I would have done today?








Wednesday, 8 January 2014

A Quiet Wednesday

I've just been reading all the new posts on favourite blogs  and Frugal Queen has one about vehicle Breakdown Cover which made me realise that I had forgotten to put this in the budget calculation post (here) . We have RAC basic cover so need to add about £75 a year to the Jeep part of the budget and the form for renewing the tax has arrived and that's gone up £10. Sometimes I think it would be cheaper to live in a town on a bus route and not far from the railway station so that we could do without a car.

Just a quiet sort of day here today.
 Him Outside went to Leiston this morning for lots of errands,including getting some battens for finishing the new stall that we sell from at the gate.
I've been doing a bit of cooking and some more cleaning and actually got outside to cut back some of the perennials in the front garden. There are plenty of weeds that need hoeing out but it's just too wet at the moment.

This afternoon the man who had most of our hay last summer came round to collect some more from our hay shed. He was supposed to be paying for it bit by bit but we've seen no money from him since September. He's now promised to settle up for all he's had on Friday of next week, we know he will pay up eventually - he won't get next years hay if he doesn't and he could lose his free pony grazing at our neighbours!
I've persuaded Him Outside to hang onto 50 bales just in case I can keep goats again. I kept milking goats for 18 years and even though it's 3 years since they went I still miss them. Every now and again I get really "broody" for having  goats back on the smallholding.

Many Thanks for comments yesterday and a special Thank You To Gina at Fan My Flame blog. I entered a Giveaway on her blog and received the lovely notebook this morning. Gina is a Textile Designer See her info here  who specializes in Machine embroidery and from her website I see she runs classes in her area. It must be brilliant to be able to conjure up ideas and designs, my mind doesn't seem to work like that which is why I'm only able to do cross stitch where I have a chart to follow! Our eldest is a Textile Designer too although she works mainly on computer design for the company Phase Eight. No idea where she got her talent from ? Not me or her Dad!

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

A morning out - Not Shopping.

Him Outside was working 15 miles away around Woodbridge today and offered to drop me off for a couple of hours so I could have a look around the charity shops. I think there are 6 plus the Oxfam book shop and I went around the lot and bought................absolutely nothing.
Woodbridge has our nearest WHS so I had a good look at all the magazines, Home Farmer, Country Smallholding and Smallholder plus the craft mags, and I looked at their huge heaps of half price cookery books and I bought ...............absolutely nothing.
Woodbridge also has our nearest Boots so I went to see what they had in their sale and I bought.......absolutely nothing.
And finally there is the nearest M & Co so I had a look at their clothes and bought...... Yes you guessed. Not a thing.

I finished up by going to the library where I found 3 books to borrow - all ones I'd not seen before.
After he picked me up we came home via Wyevale to use our very last Garden Voucher from the ones he was given by  his colleagues when he finished work 2 years ago. We now have all the multi- purpose compost and seed compost we need for the year.  I had a look round at all their sale items but once again nothing appealed except for a half price Spode Cheese platter with 6 butter spreaders decorated with Christmas trees, which I thought might make a good gift until I noticed the full price was £34.99! Even at half price that would be more than I would spend.
We got stuck in Wyevale for about 15 minutes waiting for a huge downpour of rain to clear and then we came home.

So that was my Not Shopping trip over.

Oh what excitement I have!

Monday, 6 January 2014

The danger of oven gloves!

Welcome to Peg on Bloglovin and Blondie on Google who are new followers since yesterday.

Over the weekend we heard a cautionary tale about someone locally who ended up in A & E on Christmas day because of something like this.
This is the hanging loop on some oven gloves. The girl, using some oven gloves like this, took a tray full of hot fat from the oven and put it on the top of the gas hob, as she moved her hands away the loop of the gloves caught on the bars of the hob, lifting it up and tipping the fat all over her arm.  OUCH.
My oven gloves in the picture are the heavy duty ones from Lakeland as they seem to be all that I can find sturdy enough to use.They  have a small loop but I can see how a bigger loop could catch on the metal grid that gas hobs have.
We heard that she is OK but was in a lot of pain and the burn will take a while to heal.

Today  feels more like the start of the New Year being a Monday with everything getting back to normal. Everything  except egg sales which still haven't picked up since Christmas. There is a limit to how many extra eggs two people can eat without becoming egg-bound :-)

This morning I was in the kitchen baking bread, a sausage plait for dinner tonight and tomorrow and some carrot cake.Then I had dry washing to be put away and hoovering to do.
Him Outside was helping our farmer friend move  2 very old concrete pig sties from one farm to a huge heap of rubble on another farm, where next week the whole heap will be crushed by a large machine turning it all into bits useful for filling in pot holes etc.

I'm getting on well with the James Oswald book - Natural Causes, that I mentioned yesterday. It's modern police crime set in Edinburgh and the first by this author. It was a choice last night of watching Sherlock or reading, and after watching the New Years Day back-from-the-dead episode and being flummoxed,confused ( we are only simple country folk!) and disappointed  we decided to read. Did we miss much last night? I really enjoyed the first two series. Perhaps I'll catch up with it another day.
Alison B43 commented that she had read and enjoyed the James Oswald books, 2 so far and another one soon, and Susan commented that he has an interesting blog about going from farmer to published author.  I'm not sure where I came across his name, perhaps on the Recommended list on Amazon, but it's always interesting to find out more about an author.

No frugal news today, unless you count stretching half a pound of sausage meat to make 4 dinners and 2 lunches, And that's not really news as it's what I always do! (Apple,onion and stuffing mix is the secret).


Sunday, 5 January 2014

So what shall I do today?



Let out the chickens from their 3 sheds and check they are all still looking OK.

Hang out the washing - not a lot of dry out but at least they get a bit of fresh air.

Some wiping up and putting away.

A bit of cleaning. Wood fires may be cheap but they do leave a trail of sawdust and bits around them.

A bit of cross stitch. I've started one of two pictures I'm doing which will go into "things", destined to be Christmas presents for 2 people who read this blog.

Enjoy a cup of my favourite coffee and 10 minutes of Sudoku.

 Use some odds and ends to make some of my favourite soup.
 
 1 onion, 1 carrot, 3 sticks of celery, softened in a little butter and water, a squidge of tomato puree and a couple of tablespoons of flour to thicken and the juice saved from a tin of plum tomatoes. Add some more water, pepper, a teaspoon of sugar, whizz in liquidizer and it tastes very much like a famous tomato soup. If I can make tomato soup without tomatoes, do they?

Sew a button on a shirt. Are there REALLY people out in the big wide world who throw things away when a button falls off, or is that an Urban Myth?

Lunchtime listening to The Unbelievable Truth and The Food Programme on Radio 4.

Some more wiping up and putting away.

Check the chickens are OK for water. Then collect, clean and box up 8 dozen eggs.

Reduce the size and photocopy some lovely pictures cut from last years RHS Diary, so that I can use them on the corner of writing paper for my penfriends.

Get the washing in again and put it to finish drying over the Rayburn

 A cup of peppermint tea and a bit of reading. I'm trying a "new" crime author - James Oswald

A little blog reading. A Look at all the updated entries over in my blogroll.

Add a book to my wish list. Thanks to Kev at An English Homestead, who has given a good review of a new homesteading book from the States.

 And at last a little blogging!

Welcome to 2 new followers on google, Julie and mumasu making 117, and 80 people have clicked the bloglovin' button too. ( I still don't really "get" bloglovin! The person at the top of the 80 list is a lady called Wendy  and I'm wondering if she is the Wendy who once lived in Cotton? If so Hello and I think you know Him Outside and I once worked at Middle School with your Mum. If you are not That Wendy, Ignore all I've just written!!)

Thank you to everyone for reading the blog and I do love getting your comments.

Back Tomorrow







Saturday, 4 January 2014

The first seeds are sown

 The growing year has started.
Pepper seeds (Jubilanska and Marconi Rossa) are in my windowsill electric propagator and lettuce( Cuore and Winter Density) and parsley beside them plus our micro greens which were a Christmas present from us to us! I missed parsley from my seed order so I've used last years seed but as they are one of the worst for keeping from one year to another they might not germinate. If not I'll need new seed. The peppers are started as early as possible to give them every chance to ripen even though they will be put  in a poly-tunnel.

My blog yesterday about Secret Santa gifts got several commentators agreeing that they don't always work. I'm hopeful that as it's just us, our children and partners, everyone will have some idea of what people like.

Thank you to Laura at No More Spending for her input regarding No Shopping Days. We live in the middle of open countryside so no shopping just means staying at home. I suppose if you go to work everyday surrounded by shops it must be harder not to be tempted to buy stuff.

Also Thank you to other blogging friends Karen, Jane, Pam, Bridget and Lizzy for comments and to Stacey At Mortgage Free Journey who is now reading my blog. Sft ( Saving for travel) said I was an inspiration which is a bit worrying!

Just to show we are not always perfectly frugal here are some of the stupid things we have done!

The year after we moved here we planted a small Christmas tree plantation of 50 trees. Christmas trees DO NOT like heavy clay soil - that's what we have here,so after a wet winter when they sat in muddy puddles we lost most of them.

We thought about moving a while back and Him Outside cleared out lots of "might come in handy" stuff from his workshop. When we didn't move after all he had to start collecting nails, nuts,bolts screws and odd bits of wood all over again. 

About 5 or 6 years ago when my Dad died and left us some money we used part of it to buy a touring caravan. After using it for a year we remembered why we had stopped caravanning about  10 years ago, then we  part exchanged it for a medium sized motor-home so we could have a touring holiday in Scotland. Then after one more year when we went right off traveling we sold the thing! No profits were made anywhere on all those deals. :-(

Three years ago we had a new kitchen extension built and alterations to the house. While we did it we lived in the conservatory, an old caravan and it's awning and a couple of rooms at the front of the house. After living in this muddle for 6 months we moved back in and being desperate to get organised before Christmas we bought a few things that we wouldn't normally have bought new, like 2  chairs that turned out to be too uncomfortable to use for longer than half an hour at a time and a horrible modern sideboard/cupboard for the living room which I'm stuck with looking at and hating everyday!
( No regrets about spending on the house extension as it was something we had wanted to do when we first moved in 21 years ago).

Then there are all the books I've had at various times, cleared out because of lack of space and then regretted later.

I could probably think of more given time but I'd better stop.

Hopefully we've learned all the lessons that can be learned about wasting money and none of the things we've done ever got us into debt.

Back tomorrow. I  WILL keep frugalling!





Friday, 3 January 2014

January Sale Bargains? Not many in this part of Suffolk.

Apart from Him Outside getting some milk when he was at work last week, we hadn't been shopping since the Monday before Christmas! ( This is why I smile when I see people congratulating themselves on 2 "no shopping" days.) So this morning I went into Saxmundham for January's shopping and a hopeful look around in case I could spot any sale bargains. If there were any they must have long gone although in The Original Factory shop I did find a lampshade to replace one that fell apart when I dusted it a few weeks ago, and I got the next 2 years  Christmas Crackers - 20 for £2.50 they are only smallish ones with stickers instead of the normal plastic tat, but that will do us.

When I read in Johns Going Gently blog about the Superman outfit he was given as a Secret Santa gift, I thought "thank goodness we don't work anywhere where we have to get involved in one of those". Then Our Dear Son decided that as we are having a family get together mid month it would be nice to have an extra late Christmas present each. There is a web site he told us, that organises everything for you, then emails to tell you who you have to buy for. Now mystery  present buying/receiving is not really my thing but  I won't let the cat out of the bag and say who I have to buy for - but they will get something USEFUL. However I will drop a hint via this blog to let whoever is buying mine know that definitely NO smellies  or chocs please but what I did see in town this morning was  a special Tesco issue of a Gardening Magazine that has about £20 of free seeds with it. Now THAT would be useful as would postage stamps! Just a small hint!

Yesterday evening I got around to tackling "The Draw".

Now its  empty again ready for 2014

  This is the bottom drawer of the kitchen dresser where all  receipts, paper work, paid bills etc etc are put. Everything except Campsite stuff and Him Outsides work related bits are shoved in, then sorted out in the first few days of the new year. By doing this we know where everything is. After a year quite a lot can be chucked straight on the fire and anything that needs keeping is put into a box file.

We have had another lot of rain again overnight plus a downpour this morning, and the wind has been whistling around the house again. It seems we get one good day then 3 nasty ones.  I saw the lunchtime news with the floods along the West Coast of England and Wales and thought how devastating it must be to stand powerless when the sea or river surges into your house or business. Once again I'm glad we live on our flat bit of Suffolk Countryside well above the nearest river.

Thank you to everyone for comments yesterday, the days rush by and I never seem to have time to reply properly. I do read them all and appreciate the input.

Back Tomorrow



Thursday, 2 January 2014

January stores and January Weather

 Up until the spring of last year I wrote regularly for our local Suffolk Smallholders Society monthly newsletter. One year I did a page each month called " Country Days and Country Ways". I used  information from some of my many ( too many!) books of  weather sayings and country traditions.
I thought it would be fun to do the same now and again on the blog during 2014.

So here's a weather saying for the start  of the year

The first three days of January foretell the first three months of the year.

We shall see. 

 Yesterday as the weather was so wet, cold, grey and windy,  I made a start on my plan to clear out some things from the craft room. I filled a boxful with cross stitch kits that I will NEVER do, card toppers that I will NEVER use and other bits and bobs that have been lurking for years. The result only made half a shelf of less stuff. But I felt better! The box has gone upstairs to join our collection of things for a car boot sale.

After lunch, egg collecting and packing. I looked to see what was on TV....... Nothing. Old films and more old films. So when Him Outside came in I suggested we have our first game of Scrabble of the winter.
At the end it looked like this

We use a scrabble dictionary and cheat by looking up words in it before we lay the tiles. It's full of strange words that don't appear in The Shorter OED. We've now discovered that we have a letter Y missing. I think I'll have to make one from something.
 Despite my QUAIL on a triple word, I only won by 1 point.
We need some practice in case we get a chance to play a game with Him Outsides' sister - a demon Scrabble player!

It was good to make the first entry in my new diary - which is just an A4 note pad, I don't like the constraints of a normal diary. ( Although I keep a week to view one in the kitchen for reminders) I need blank pages for planning things, lists etc, and I like to start at the front and at the back!
Yesterday I made a list of all the food of our own we have available here on January 1st.
It looked like this
From Store - Beetroot, potatoes, onions, squash, cooking apples, eating apples.
From the garden - Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, leeks, parsnips. A few lettuce, radishes and salad leaves, a little chard and some golf ball sized swedes. ( + Sprouting broccoli soon)
From the freezer - Broad Beans, sweetcorn, peppers, pears, cooking apples, raspberries, gooseberries, cherries. Plus a few redcurrants and plum tomatoes.
In the kitchen cupboards - Jam - Marrow and ginger, Summer fruits, Plum, Greengage, Gooseberry, Strawberry and Gooseberry.
Chutneys - Pumpkin and pepper, Beetroot and Ginger, Hot tomato, Sweetcorn relish,Green Tomato,Onion Marmalade chutney,Gooseberry and date, Marrow and apple.


 Today after lots more heavy rain overnight, the weather is completely different  with bright sunshine and a clear blue sky and  I soon had  two loads of washing blowing on the line.
 Him Outside was working for the County Council this morning and I was in the kitchen making pies with the remainder of the beef stew we had for dinner yesterday. I cooked up a 2 packs of the meat ( 3 packs stewing beef for £10) used some value carrots from Tesco, and leeks, onions and swede from the garden,  added  stock using a couple of beef oxo cubes, hot water and a can of beer. This was simmered on the Rayburn, thickened with Bisto. We ate this last night with dumplings and Brussels Sprouts. The remainder has made 3 pies, each serving the two of us.  One for tonight and 2 for the freezer. We rarely eat beef so this is the best way to stretch it as much as possible.
Then I did a lot of hoovering and more tidying after which it was lunch time and egg collecting all over again.

I'm feeling a bit left out today as most people in blogland seem to be embarking on New Adventures and New Challenges.  Whereas here we will just be chugging along in our normal simple way.


 Although I do have a cunning plan to save any spare housekeeping towards one of these!


 
The iconic ‘Revival’ DAB radio is a nostalgic 1950s style retro radio with advanced DAB features.


I shall let you know how I get on.

I keep forgetting to say Thank you for lots of comments over the last few days, apologies for not replying to everyone individually also welcome to follower number 115 in the pictures and a couple more people on bloglovin.

Back tomorrow - Keeeeep Frugaling!

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Review of the month - looking back at December

Before we get stuck in to 2014, just one more look back with my usual review of the month just gone.

I try to always make the positive list longer than the negative list so.......
  1. We earned enough money in December for January's budget
  2. We caught up on news with our Sisters and Brothers in law.
  3. Our son and his girlfriend came to visit for the weekend.
  4. Buying the bargain trailer that hooks on the mower will make life much easier for Him Outside.
  5. Food spending for Christmas and December was well down on other years leaving me some bonus money.
  6. We had a quiet Christmas with just Father in law,brother in law, youngest and her bloke here for Christmas dinner and just us four oldies for the rest of the day.
  7. We had lots of lovely Christmas presents, books, chocolates, a watch each, a red microwave!
  8. We still have vegetables in the garden for the rest of the winter.
  9. We still have enough meat in the freezer for nearly 2 months.
  10. We enjoyed some Christmas Specials on TV
  11. Our eldest daughter got engaged
  12. We were given 2 pheasants
  13. Lots of good books from the library van
  14. The chickens are back to laying well, despite the muddy field
  15. The potato/squash/pumpkin field has been mucked and ploughed
  16. Him Outside doing more work for the County Council - a bonus income.

On the negative side of the equation
The middle polytunnel was damaged by the storms, needing repairs to the frame and a new plastic cover. Then another bit of fence blown over 4 days later.

My Christmas present cupboard is bare. So I shall be searching car boots, charity shops and doing a bit of making ASAP.

Everywhere is very wet and muddy and some jobs that should have been done haven't been started.

So once again less negatives than positives, I hope this continues into 2014.


Before I go I must say a big HELLO and WELCOME to several people who have clicked the follower button over the last few days. Hope you enjoy reading about our simple Suffolk smallholding.


Back Tomorrow to start a month of normal  posts - Keeeeep Frugalling!

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