Monday 31 March 2014


From the viewing of our house the other day we now have an offer on paper that we have accepted.
So with the sale of two houses (keeping everything crossed ) it means we will be able to fund the work we want to do on the place we are buying.

Today was another lovely spring day, and the garden is changing on a daily basis, it all grows so fast, spring flowers are out, the trees are coming into leaf and the greenhouses are filling with young plants.
Last year everything was so late, winter just dragged on this year we have been so lucky with winter weather, wet very wet but not the freezing tempertures.

I have been sewing again today, working on more blocks for the quilt for our new bedroom, while the sewing machine was working away, I got stuck into some hand quilting, a project I prepared yesterday, 

A Somerset Folded Star block that I turned into a trivet to be used on my Rayburn, its the perfect size for my kettle to sit on, I have often admired this block but kept putting off as I assumed it would be fiddly and dificult to do, once the fabric was cut, it was very easy to assemble, and all hand stitched.
This was were I got the instructions Somerset Star  so if you fancy having a go pop over there.

Sunday 30 March 2014

Mothering Sunday

I hope every one has had a lovely mothers day, I did the sun was out, the sky was blue brilliant weather for the time of year and of course the first day of British summertime.
We were still up at 6am even though the clocks went forward, it meant the chooks were let out early they didn't know what to make of that, then it was over to the Alpacas again they were a bit taken aback with an early breakfast, we decided to give them an early walk instead of taking them out in the afternoon, I also took the opportunity to try harnessing them on my own, success they were well behaved and i managed to get them both into there harnesses,  so off we went for a walk down into the village, I lost count the amount of times we were stopped and asked questions, there were 3 photo stops, so our plan for an early morning undisturbed walk didn't pan out as expected but it was still enjoyable.
The rest of the day was spent outside in the garden, trimming hedges, potting up seedlings, sowing more seeds and I took the insulation of the second greenhouse, I got stuck into clearing up the flower borders as hubby got stuck into cooking dinner, venison tonight from a road kill we picked up last week end,
It was such a mild evening we sat outside until 8pm and it gave a chance for me to try out one of the home made oil lamps.
 It gave off a surprising amount of light, the base is a kilner jar, I bought some oil lamp fittings from the states made to fit on kilner jars, they came with wicks as well. The lamp globe is made from a glass bottle that we cut the base off with a bottle cutter. 
So all in all a very productive day I hope you all had similar and made the most of the smashing weather.

Thursday 27 March 2014

All The Seasons In One Day

It has been one of those awful weather days, started off promising with sunshine, then it clouded over thunder lightning hailstones, after the hail it looked like we had a layer of snow out there,  then sunshine and now horrible heavy rain as if we havent had enough rain this year.
We had another viewing on this house today, so who knows they might decide they like it enough to put an offer in, luckily our move isn't dependent on the sale of this house, we have sold one of our rental properties, although selling this one would make things a little easier.  If this house hasnt sold by the time we get a move date then we will let it.
After running around and getting the house to look its best I was all set to spend a few hours in the garden when the weather changed, so it was a change of plan and I spent the remainder of the day working on the sewing machine.
I am working on a quilt for our new bedroom, I decided to do it cream and burgundy velvet blocks, with colour on colour machine embroidery on each of the blocks.
In total I have 34 block designs I want to do, so will do each block in both colourways, giving me a total of 68 blocks.
I haven't decided how the blocks are to be laid out yet and I haven't decided on borders, I will wait until my blocks are finished then play with layouts on the floor.
so far I have 16 blocks done.
some of the blocks 

Wednesday 26 March 2014

Baking Day

In an effort to conseve electric, if I plan on using the oven for dinner I try to utilse it for baking as well,
today I did Orange Biscuits, Crunchy Jumbles and a Multi Grain Loaf.
Like many households biscuits dont last long, so once cooled I put half the batch into the biscuit box and the remainder go into zip lock bags and hidden away this way I can do a 2 week batch of biscuits in one go.

Crunchy Jumbles
4oz butter or margarine at room temp
8oz caster sugar
1 egg
1tsp vanilla essence
5oz plain flour
1/2tsp bicarbonated soda
pinch of salt
2oz crisped rice cereal
6oz chocolate chips
cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, beat in egg and vanilla, sift over the flour bicarbonate of soda and salt, fold in carefully, add the cereal and chocolate chips, stir thouroughly , drop spoonfulls of the mixture 1-2inch apart on baking sheets, bake until golden at 350F/ 180C/ Gas 4 for about 10-12 mins, Transfer to a rack to cool. makes about 36.

Orange Biscuits
4oz butter or margarine at room temp
7oz sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
grated rind of 1 large orange
7oz plain flour
1 tbl cornflour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
cream the butter and suger until light and fluffy, add the yolks orange juice and rind and continue beating to blend set aside, In another bowl sift together the flour cornflur salt and baking powder, add to the butter mixture and stir until it forms a dough, wrap the dough in greaseproof paper and pop it in the fridge for a couple of hours, roll out spoonfulls of the dough into balls and place 1-2 in apart on baking sheets, press down with a fork, Bake until golden brown 8-10 mins at 375F/ 190C/ gas 5, transfer to a cooking rack. makes about 30.

Tuesday 25 March 2014

Book Review - 5 Acres & A Dream

5 Acres & A Dream written by Leigh Tate, I purchased this book through Amazon for £7.65 it was the title that first attracted me to this book as the amount of land that Leigh and her husband have is the same amount of land as we are having, It was  a nice easy read although I do wish they had gone into some more details on some of there projects, The book tells of there journey into Self Suffiency, I was pleased to find that Leigh runs a blog that continues there journey
so if you are thinking of taking your first steps then grab yourself a copy and settle back with a cuppa for a good read, then continue the journey by checking on Leigh's blog

Monday 24 March 2014

Off Grid On Grid

On our journey to self suffiency deciding if we are to go off grid has been raised many a time in discussions, last year we viewed a property that was off grid, generating its own power by hydro electric and solar panels, it had a multi fuel stove and under floor heating run from geo thermal, it had its own water supply and a cess pit for sewerage, it was set in a very remote location, we looked at the place through rose coloured glasses, being off grid totally reliant on ourselves sounded just great, in reality it would be very hard work and what we have further found out is the system set up there is very unreliable, in winter the water supply would freeze up so no power being generated, in summer it had been know to dry up so again no power being generated, electricity didn't come that far up the valley so there would be no alternative available, when the seller said off grid they meant TOTTALY off grid.
This got us thinking do we want to be off grid to that extreme, the answer is no, as great as it sounds I don't want to go back to living in the dark ages, so the alternative is to look at the energy we use and what is really necessary to maintain a good comfortable standard of living.
Our first requirement for a new home is a solid fuel Aga/Rayburn providing a cooking area and the facility to heat the water and run some radiators, cooking heating and hot water are three of the main energy consumers in the home, 
this is like the one in our new home

   The next thing was to consider lighting, I didn't want to live in the dark and yes candles and oil lamps are a great alternative and give a lovely atmosphere to room, but they are a fire risk, so energy saving light bulbs is what we have been experimenting with over the past couple of years, we do have a supply of candles and oil lamps as we are aware that the location of our home being remote is likely to have many power outages so we have prepared for this.
We have found a make of energy saving halogen spot lights we are very happy with, some we have tried have been next to useless in the amount of light they give out, so our favoured ones are these

There not cheap £13 for 2 bulbs, we have found them to be brilliant they do what it says on the packet, so whenever I go to Costco I pick up a couple of packs.
We will need to buy a washing machine when we move so at the moment we are researching various machines and we will look closely at the energy rating.
I have been experimenting a bit with solar power, we have a solar power radio that has an additional wind up charge facility, we have had this radio for years and we will get an additional one. I purchased a briefcase solar panel in January in the sales it is usefull for charging all manner of small items like phones, laptops, book readers and rechargeable batteries

Another item I purchased that I was very pleased with was a carpet sweeper, I am not a lover of hard floors, so the house will be carpeted and vacuum cleaners are power hungry, I remembered my grandmother having a carpet sweeper, did a bit of looking around and found they are still very much in use and available, I bought my little Bissel off amazon and have used it daily, its excellent, on carpet and hard floors, for £20 it was a well worth it.
I will not be having a dryer when we move I find it unnecessary, there is nothing wrong with hanging washing outside and if the weather isn't playing ball I will dry it on a suspended dryer above the Rayburn, Dishwasher another unnecessary item, dishes can and will be washed by hand.
We will have a fridge and freezer  to us they are a necessity, we need to be able to store our food, although I do can and dehydrate some food items will be stored by freezing, 
So to sum up we will not be off grid, but will reduce our usage as much as possible, being aware of the power that's use and alternatives that can be used for is a big step towards self suffiency.
We are not doing this to give up all our creature comforts, but to make a lesser footprint on the planet living  a lifestyle of our choosing.

Sunday 23 March 2014

It Looks Like Its Happening

Finally it all looks like it could be happening, we have had an offer accepted on a smallholding in Wales, we spent a very wet couple of days in Wales viewing several smallholdings, and feeling very despondent until we came to the last one and this was the one, it has a traditional welsh stone built  farmhouse, 3 bedrooms, solid fuel Rayburn in the kitchen, log burner in the living room, 5 acres of land, a couple of barns and its at the end of its own track on the edge of a forest at the top of a mountain. We are now just playing the waiting game while the paper trail get going, there is no chain so we hope by June to be moved.
In the meantime its been clearing out stuff, getting rid of unwanted stuff that has accumulated, packing sorting all the things that go with house moves.
I feel a bit in limbo as its the start of the growing season, not knowing if we will be here to harvest anything puts me off planting up the garden but on the other hand I don't want the garden sitting empty, so I am making use of container growing half of what I sow goes in the garden and the other half goes into containers, if we do get moved before harvest time we will still have some veg to harvest. Last Autumn I dug up a lot of  the dwarf fruit trees from the garden, I planted them into big plastic trug containers so we could take them with us, they are all coming into bud so seemed to have survived, I also took up a young grape vine that has also survived. I took cutting from the kiwi and 4 of them have taken, so if nothing else we will have some fruit to plant out in the new garden.
The Bees seem to have come through the winter alright, the chickens are back in lay again, the Alpacas are coming on great and we take them walking on Sundays, they are getting use to traffic and walk really well on there harnesses. There is only one problem we encounter when we take them out, people come out of there houses to speak to us, children expect to be able to pet them, cars slow down turn round and come back for a second look, so what should be a nice half hour walk through the village turns into a couple of hours.
Walkies with the Woolly Wonders