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It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Friday, 14 December 2018

A Snap Shot Of Christmas, And Other Stuff!

Just realised I've not included a photo of this year's tree. I love it - this year as for the last couple of years we've gone for a slightly shorter and more rounded one.



I just love decorating at Christmas and this is how my living room looks. I have a very traditional feeling about this time of the year reminiscent of the 1970's I guess which makes perfect sense as I was born in 1968. I love paper chains, I have crepe paper streamers in the TV room and I think these paper honeycomb globes are just fab. However I always look to my very fav book when it comes to Christmas inspiration, Tim Mouse and Father Christmas - still available.

It always has pride of place somewhere at this time of the year; hope you can see or at least get a feel for the similarity....



Inside the house everything is VERY festive but I popped outside yesterday to take photos.

Somebody on Twitter mentioned snow drops so thought I's take a look and....


a bit blury but you get the idea!

Also making an appearance are other things which are overwintering like the tulip and daff bulbs for Spring I planted outside The Snug.


The shallots,


garlic, just,


and onions have popped up to say hello as well.


Also outside and still showing signs of life are some red 'n' green lettuce,


the Spring cabbages seem to be surviving though not that big,


and the chooks and ducks are ok. A few more eggs in the last couple of days; my husband puts this down to him having given them a slug of grit recently, 


the ducks are still free loading. The one in the foreground, A l'orange, is a bit nasty, nearly pecks the food out of your hand, the Crispy Khaki is soooo loud and Duck-chess seems to just go with the flow.


That is it for just now I think. I'm continuing to make mince pies, but bread making has stopped for the festive period, we begin the last week of work and school next Monday and the not too big list for the festive shop is complete; helps we are going away for a couple of days after Boxing Day - looking forward to some fun times in Llandudno and blowing some cobwebs away with a walk on the beach among other things.

Lou.



Saturday, 1 December 2018

And So It Begins!

Yes, the weeks are flying by and with outside jobs dwindling there is lots to do, prepare, get on with indoors and, ultimately, enjoy come the big day. YES, I'm getting ready for the Big Ho HO, already my favourite Christmas CD is on a loop and I love the preparation as much as the result to which it leads. I LOVE Christmas; my aim is to make it as yummy a cosy, family time for me and my men as I can. Bring on the snow as we all love the idea of having to stay home by the fire!

Therefore I'm starting off in red as I'm in really in full festive swing because yesterday the decorations started to go up. I normally wait until today but the weekends fall a bit skew this year, plus we have guests to stay next weekend and I want to be totally tinsel central by the time they arrive. Eeeek! I can't wait to get a pan of Gluhwein, cranberries, orange and cinnamon bubbling away so I have a lovely festive smell in the back ground, too. I'm about done apart from a few table decorations. I like to have some of those around but this year I'm trying to make it easier to dust things by the decorations being easy to move if you understand me.

As you may have seen on an earlier post my preparations began about three weeks ago, I think, when I ordered a few craft items as I normally do at this time of the year. I began, as usual, by making some new tags; these are given as gifts, for decorations for people or to go around the house. I have to say I'm totally addicted to making these; I definitely have my own style when it comes to these and this year I've used some fab vintage paper I found last year. A couple of things have come out beautifully including this fab card and then I'm very pleased with the tags. 




When Jon had gone to work and the boys were away to school I began with the paper chains in the living room as these go corner to corner and need to be in place before the tree is brought into the house; I think the tree will be here on Tuesday. Then with the festive tunes blasting out I was bobbing between the kitchen and the living room putting the other decorations up.These are the perpetual advent calendars, the 1-24 garland on the sideboard above the drinks tray, mmmm. and my mantle piece items which include more paper chains and decorated jars. In the kitchen I have the paper chains Alf and I made from some more of the vintage paper. I LOVE the dresser now as I made the banner, too, and I always have a couple of the cards on there which the boys made when they were tiny.


I really enjoy bringing the greenery into the house and always like to have it sit in a bucket for a few days to give it a good drink. This year I'll be decorating with some for our visitors but doing the main lot a little earlier, too, due to us going away for a couple of days between Christmas and New Year. (We have an Airbnb booking for NYE so will be back in time for that.) It is just a gorgeous thing to have in the house and on Boxing Day when we have a little get together with the neighbours I love draping the table with holly, twisted willow and ivy from the garden plus pin lights, of course, between the tasty goodies. Can never have enough pin lights!

A couple of new additions this year will be a pompom wreath and a rag-and-pin-light garland. (There they are again!) The wreath is for the TV room, which has a purple wall along with Marvel and DC comic pictures, and can take something a little less traditional as you see by the colours I'll be using! I began making the pompoms when we lived at our previous house! They were meant for a rug but.... so I'm giving this project a go using a glue gun so will hopefully last a few years. I'm also interested in making some pompom bookmarks as gifts. 



The garland is something I've wanted to have a go at for ages.



















I'm really pleased with how it turned out and for once I have something on the banister.


Christmas cake and mincemeat are made, sloe gin is sitting in the cellar brewing nicely (I'm sure that isn't the right word) and I'll hopefully make the first mince pies this afternoon. I've decided on the teacher presents to make this year - some seasonal biscuits and rum truffles - and the calendar is already filling up with school activities. 

Lists and my planner are helping remind me that we pretty much know what we are having on Christmas Day and Boxing Day...



and we're having our mini Christmas this coming weekend full of tasty treats, including mince pies, of course. The boys have their Christmas jumpers, Jon needs a new one and I have festive leggings!

As I sit at the kitchen table I can see this at the window and I feel very festive. Fav word!


Ok. Time to get the brekky sorted, boys out of bed and then later this morning I'm out at our village Winter Fayre which is always a fun thing - Alf love the bottle stall and I get a cuppa and maybe a mince pie.

Lou.


Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Update - Inside And Out.

Overwintering sowing and growing, but first the weather. 

We've had bouts of biblical rain recently along with some terrific wind. However, today we have ish-blue sky with a light breeze hence I had a wander around my little patch of paradise today. There may be rain later... Anyhow here's what I found.

Shallots, garlic and onions were planted out by October 22 and the first two are showing nicely.


With the onions I have some interlopers in the form of peas left over from the summer so hope that I might get a cheeky harvest!


Garlic not doing as well as these two just now but hope it picks up soon.

In the poly house the carrots and kale are peeking through and the meteor dwarf beans in the troughs are doing very well. 


The meteor beans in the greenhouse were sown a little later than the others and think I might plant them in the empty bed in there when they are all ready.


A little surprised at how well the hardy sweet peas are coming on to be honest; I need to check when they can be planted out!


In the greenhouse the beetroot seems to be growing well but there are more leaves than anything else; not sure how that is going to turn out...


A quick look at the cabbages seem to suggest they have not been nibbled by anything recently, after I removed the netting.


Have to say I'm quite chuffed that I seem to have some growing happening so just hope that they turn into edibles!

Garden prep has seen chicken poo, compost and covering put on the corner veg patch. All that needs covering now is where the few leeks and swede are in the main patch.

Inside now

First Christmas present is wrapped and a number have been ordered so must wrap them as they arrive.

The turkey has been ordered so can forget about that until the day before Christmas Eve.

The sloe gin is being given a shake once a week now. 

Christmas cake was made at the beginning of the month; I'll feed it some booze this week.

Ordered, as usual, a few crating bits for the festive season and have so far made this tag on the left which can be used as a decoration or given as a gift. The piece on the left is something I love making; this will be used as a back drop on a decorated table or shelf but could also be framed as a gift.


Christmas is now just six weeks away. Eeeek! Lots of planning to be done soon but not quite yet.





Sunday, 4 November 2018

Moving Forward At Our Best Pace And Keeping Track Of Progress!

That's a title, but it sort of draws a finishing line under some things and for us to start others. Personally I've made the decision to keep this as a diary/record of us and our stuff; I think some people are just too busy to visit other blogs and see what people are getting up to; I know I like to read a couple that really interest me and that's about it so checking if people have commented on my ramblings I think is something that will not now be my main aim, but thanks if you do. It also gives me the opportunity to REALLY ramble on without worrying that people can't be bothered to read it!😃

I've kept my Twitter account for the Airbnb rooms, and I do follow people other than those directly aimed at that, but I'm careful what comes into my feed. From next week I am having a couple of days off social media; I'll take it off my phone meaning I'll have to get the laptop out to use it; not exactly the instant way Twitter is meant to be used but that suits me!

And so...Jon and I had a conversation this morning, at length, about what we are trying to do and where we are just now.

This was triggered by the fact that we've come to the conclusion, after some monitoring our electricity meter is not working as it should. I give 2 meter readings each month, one for the cheaper night rate and one for the more expensive day time right. However we have discovered the meter is switching to the low rate at the wrong time of the day - we believe it should correspond with the times given to us by our energy company or how can we expect to make the most of the cheaper rate period? I'll be talking to them tomorrow to get something sorted but we've also arranged to have a smart meter installed at the end of the month. I was against these as the older generations of them meant they were not compatible when you switched energy company but this has now been changed so that is good.

On the back of this we know that it costs approximately £350 per year to use an emmersion heater; as we have this turned on in the Summer only and run, at the most, 2 baths a day and I wash up a couple of times it seems a huge amount of money. Soooo we are going to start keeping the Rayburn lit through the Summer months as well as the Winter. This may sound to some people like duh! we should have made this decision from the get go, but you live and learn. I think for most people energy is the biggest outlay each month.

The energy issue has lead us to think that we have taken our eye off the ball a little recently when it comes to the reason why we moved to Wales and what our aims were. It was never about living what is often described as a frugal life. It was about being self-sufficient and self-reliant in the main, getting back to basics on our little homestead; saving money by not wasting money is our goal along with generating an income so that Jon does not have to work outside of the home.

We are not an extravagant family but our boys will never go without. However they are taught where money comes from and that we can't always have what we want when we want it. However, generally in our house everything comes to he/she who waits and that always works for us!

I talked in my last post about extending our growing area for next Spring and that is very exciting. I'm now working on the layout for all the growing areas because, heavens to Betsy, if I can't supply the four of us with a really good amount of food with the space we are going to have then I don't know what!

So, we're keeping our focus on the job in hand, to reach our goals as we make them, to be are here doing what we signed up for and knowing that we really are, for us, living the dream.

Onwards and upwards!



Friday, 2 November 2018

Cooking On Gas...Well Logs Actually!

I think we are taking it as read, or as lit, that Winter is well on the way as yesterday we fired up the Rayburn; we have managed to leave it until November 1 which is great as we normally light it at the start of October.



I made the most of it I have to say and loved it. I baked a cob loaf which I have decided I can make pretty much every day and I have another baking as we speak. It is a very easy recipe. I made some egg-free choc chip biscuits for the boys as they came home from The Gramps today after being away since last Saturday. (Egg-free as the girls are freeloading a bit at the moment...) So lovely to have the boys home again and we still have time with them until they go back to school on Monday. 




I cooked lunch and tea on and in it, too.



So very pleased that once again we have eaten, heated the water and warmed the house with the old girl. We all squeezed together on the bench with the door open just watching the flames after tea. Fab!

This week I was pleased as punch, or rather as sloe gin! that I got round to picking and preserving some sloes just down the road from the house. Only about 12oz but enough so I popped them in the freezer to save me having to pin prick them all.



After having the gin and sugar added they are now sitting in the cellar being shaken periodically until ready to be strained for Christmas. Fab when you finally get round to doing something you've always fancied giving a go.



Not much going on outside just now; we have had all sorts of weather this last week or so. I've at times managed to dry the clothes on the line but we have had hail yesterday and some pretty heavy rain, too.

I've been doing a bit more Winter garden prep by adding compost to and covering over one of the massive tyres plus one end of the small veg patch. Also breaking news; hubby thinks we need one more large veg patch so we can really do our best to grow as much of our fruit and veg as we can. Its going to be dug out along side the three new planters he built; no pressure there, in fact loads, especially when not everything went as well as hoped this year. I just don't want to fail so we are going to make sure we have plenty of coverings so we do not fall prey to those damn caterpillas, or anything that eats brassicas really; I soooo want to have cabbages and broccoli next year, and anything else I can manage on the list that we really want to eat. Not buying fresh produce is something we really do want to get to grips with. Ok, rant over I think.

Another glorious day here today; a bit of a nip in the air but lovely.





I'm waiting on guests arriving at about 3pm so want to get outisde for an hour or so before then. Just waiting for the bread to finish and have my lunch. Had a morning of doing a bit of admin, trip to the bottle bank with the boys and putting out the washing whilst they stocked up on logs and kindling and done other bits and pieces so have to get some fresh air on this beautiful day.

Right that's all my ramblings.

Bye for now.

Lou.xx




Monday, 22 October 2018

Autumn Planting, Sowing and Growing.

Good morning.

This is just a little update on what is going on in the garden right now; I am so loving this bright, and at times chilly, Autumnal weather. Even though it all looks a little thin on the ground I still love wandering around looking at things, normally reminding myself of jobs that need doing!

This was taken yesterday.


I've been busy planting out the garlic, onions and shallots this last week.

I have prepped one end of the main bed for the onions, used the raised bed at the back of the poly house for the shallots and one of the six tyres for the garlic.




The garlic is variety Provence White.


I've potted on the strawberry runners so have eight plants now I think sitting under the bench in the greenhouse. All looking quite healthy and I also put a couple to sell out front.



Over the last couple of days I took a look at my second compost bin. I haven't had anything out of this in possibly a year or so? It looked in such great condition and I've used this underneath the polythene covering as part of garden prep on the main patch until Spring. 

This was taken earlier this morning and today is just gorgeous, another chilly, bright day.


As well as the newly planted onion sets I still have some carrots in the small patch and spinach beet, dwarf green beans, leeks and swede in the main patch. I'll cover over the remainder of the space as and when it becomes empty but I'm getting there.

In the greenhouse I still have one sweet potato plant and the beetroot; not sure when the latter will be big enough to harvest but plan on pickling it and will not grow any next year.

I've also sown a little kale in the poly house raised bed just for me. It isn't taking up any necessary space and will hopefully grow well. Does anybody else grow kale undercover over the Winter?

I've been thinking of sowing a small wild flower area, perhaps near The Snug, but need to look at whether its best to sow seeds direct or to over Winter some and plant out in the Spring. Anyone have any experience of this? I think it would be better to have a dedicated bed to avoid my lovely husband mowing over them!!

In other news the boys break up for a week on both Thursday and Friday due to the youngest's school having an inset day. They're going to spend a few days with The Gramps from the Saturday so hope my back is feeling better by then as I hope to do some jobs outside. Struggling with a bit of a twinge I don't feel like aggravating just now, but sooo missing not being outside. Jon and I hope to go our for a meal one night, too; we don't often eat out alone so it is nice to do so some times.

We have been really busy on weekends with the Airbnb room recently even though we are into the later months. Jon needs to do a little maintenance here and there so hopefully we can get that done in the next week or so before our next booking at the beginning of November.

Right, I think that is me for now. Not too much going on but hope you are still enjoying my ramblings.

Bye for now.

Lou.xx






Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Phew. It's Been A While!

Hello, my last post was on my birthday, just over two weeks ago but seems ages.

Since then Autumn really seems to be coming in with a vengence and I love it; gradual changing in the leaf colours and the weather, too, with it being chilly at night time more frequently. However, yesterday, and today, have so far been glorious and the bedding is blowing beautifully on the line.

I thought I'd do a little round up about things since my last post. We've had 10 Airbnb bookings, including people booking the new room which is  great, plus others already booked including a repeat guest for New Year's Eve!

The garden is changing but I still love my little patch of paradise.



In the poly house bed I've sown the Nantes 2 carrots I ordered recently, hoping for an early crop in January, I took up the last cucumber plant and prepared the soil for not sure what yet and the Dwarf Meteor peas are showing already so very pleased with that. 



The Christmas spuds have been moved into there now as we had a slight frost on the night of October 6 and didn't want to risk it. However with the weather improving -  the temperature in there being 78 degrees yesterday, I was maybe being a bit panicky...!



My main crop spuds I'm very sorry to say have been an epic fail. I think my problem was planting the tubers far too close together coupled with the VERY warm weather plus not watering the tyres enough. Hay ho, lesson learnt and won't be doing that again next year.

In the greenhouse I have hardy Sweet Pea Spiced Mix just showing their faces which is great. The beetroot is doing really well and I took up the last tomato plant and sowed turnips in its place. The sweet spuds are dying back now but going to leave them a bit longer. 



















The Spring cabbages are now covered with netting as taking no chances with those.



A few onions have bloomed a little late in with the cabbages so seeing how they do...


Jon has built all three raised beds now, including one a funky triangular shape, which needs painting.


The biggest couple of jobs I did this week were some of the beds. I took out the few weeds there were in the far end of the main patch then covered with with chicken poo, homemade compost and polythene for over Winter. 





I was outside until 7pm last night and the bed at the back of the poly house has now been prepared with lots of lovely homemade compost as I plan on putting either the garlic or shallots in there; sets will be arriving soon.



I just need to finish the other end of the main patch, now the climbing peas have been taken up as that will be used for the onions. I love getting things like this ready.

In the kitchen I've processed all the cooking apples gifted to me by Jon's dad, apart from a few I have stored in the cellar. The second freezer is packed with bags of them and I have bottled five jars of them in sugar syrup. 

But a little mad with myself as I didn't pack them down enough so there's a bit of a gap and excess syrup but it will make the puddings I make with them lovely and sweet!



Well I'd better get on as the next lot of washing will need to be out soon.

Bye for now.

Lou.xx