Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Bright Day, Bread and Brownie.

As I type this blog post I am excitedly sitting in the rocking chair which I've recently put in the kitchen. I LOVE it! I've wanted seating in this room, other than the table and benches, since we moved here and now I've finally got round to it!

At the same time I've returned the side table to its original position as it was when we moved here.

Today, following wind and rain from Storm Brendan, we've had a generally bright and clear day with just the odd shower. It was one of those days when you feel you just need to go outside, even for just a few minutes. 

I've tentatively begun looking at plans for the new growing season. As I've explained before, I have no workable greenhouse just now so I'm following Charles Dowding's timeline which helps me sow things a little later. See here for his very useful sowing guide and I'll be using the conservatory in the meantime before maintenance and reconstruction hopefully begin by late Spring. 

I've almost decided what I'll grow and where but we all know that things change... at least it is good to have a basic framework. 

Better to know you are growing things you really want to eat, not edibles that are traditionally grown or things that are easy.

As usual I have thoughts and concerns and I haven't even started yet! There is always talk of crop rotation but I tend to think as long as the spuds are in a different place every year or so most other things will manage; I'm not a market garden, just trying to grow for me and mine.

Earlier I went to empty the food caddy in the compost then decided to pop back in for my phone. Jon had said he'd spotted the daffs popping up near the magnolia tree so I had a look, and there they were.

I'd seen the other day the snowdrops are appearing and they are increasing day by day.

The strawberries in the crate are looking healthy, but I'm going to have to thin them out before any fruit starts to appear because the plants are too close really. 

The garlic is really looking fantastic which I'm chuffed about considering the issues with the onions.

When working out the plans for the main veg patch I made the decision that I'm going to make a walkway to separate some of the sowing/planting. It is a big bed and this will make things easier at the beginning and end of the growing seasons.

The forecast tells us the weekend will be dry so I really hope to retain my mojo and get some jobs done outside at some point. We've taken our first Airbnb booking for the year and guests arrive on Saturday so I hope the weather is good for them and their dog, too.

Today I've baked a couple of loaves of bread for the first time in ages; as I'm back to Slimming World I won't be able to eat any of it, harumph!

I also baked a chocolate brownie for the boys yesterday, again the fist one in a good while mainly because the chickens are not laying too many at the moment so I decided to buy enough eggs to make it.

Right, I'm going to have to get out of my lovely chair and think about the chicken casserole I'm making for tea and also light the woodburner as I think it is getting a little chilly outside.

Hope you've enjoyed my chat or today, a little sooner than I had thought I would be writing, but I love a good rambling.

Bye for now.


Monday, 13 January 2020

Resolution or Revolution?

I listened to a radio programme last night where they were discussing making resolutions and breaking habits.

For some people January is not the best time to break habits, especially regarding food, as you naturally want to eat comforting food and you don't generally get that from a salad - bit of an assumption but you get the idea.

The science bit tells us that minor habits can be broken in about 18 days but others can take between 66 and 254!

Breaking habits may also be about being nice/good to yourself, giving yourself some time. Instead of claiming you will read a list of 50 books this year, perhaps reclaim your reading time. That is something I hope to do. I currently aim to have at least one day a week when I stay away from social media until around 6pm so I hope to use time during that day to read a little. I beat myself up about social media and am constantly telling my boys about screens so cannot be seen as a hypocrite!

Talking of claims, it isn't always a good idea to broadcast your plans for revolution sorry resolution, although some of us can make it feel like that! This can pile on the pressure. I tend to set goals and think of aims because if you do fall off the wagon early on you might just think, no point I'm giving up. Ease yourself into it; a dead stop is not always a good approach as you will then feel you are denying yourself. At this point, also think of a reward for when you reach a minor goal, but obvs not some of the thing you were attempting to give up!

Remember aims and goals, resolutions and targets whatever you call them can be about your mental health, too. Look at the way you sometimes feel anxious, the triggers and do your best to work on knowing when these triggers occur. Figure out what is important to you. I am struggling at the moment as my laptop has given up the ghost and I have probably lost a lot of photographs of our life here in Wales over the last four years. May not seem much to some people but I wake up feeling panicky sometimes so I try to take a deep breath and think to myself that the images may be lost but we have the memories; luckily my husband feels the same way. We don't take lots of photos but I was very concerned when I realised this had happened. I'm getting there regarding the anxiety; there may be a way to get them back but we'll see.

However you decide to break your habits, or start your personal revolution, be nice to yourself and don't worry about failure but concentrate of your success.

Also, if you don't break the habit completely, celebrate the achievement you have arrived at

Monday, 6 January 2020

Post-Christmas Garden Procrastination.

Hello there.

I didn't feel inclined to the panic and rush of a New Year's Eve/Day blog post so feel more relaxed to attempt it now. Such is my relaxation I am beginning it on Sunday afternoon and will be hopefully completing it tomorrow. All my men return to school and work tomorrow so as well as starting this I will mostly be ironing so I can have a me day from 8.15am until 3.15pm when I will probably be fetching our youngest from rugby.

FYI, it is now 11.5am on Monday morning. Just had a nice surprise as Jon popped in to get a brew to go whilst collecting some tools for a job, I've done a few jobs around the house and now here I am.

So where to begin? A belated Happy New Year, Blwyddyn Newydd Dda.

...and little about last year.

We had our best Airbnb year to date including hosting family members in all 3 listings over the Christmas period; we received this lovely card from one of the couples on January 4th.

and we started preparation for creating a full-blown business out of the listings by having new signage made; very exciting.

I made my first attempt at hanging baskets for the listings and also improved the planters and I was very happy with the results.

The third of our listings had its first visitors in July and from then on was busy right through the year give or take the odd week; we didn't expect that at all. Here is the link.

We are super excited that we already have bookings for the 2020 National Esiteddfod which is taking place in Tregaron, just eight miles away from us from 1-8 August.

In the garden, even though it was neglected slightly due to the first item on this list, I did get a great, continuous harvest of red and green lettuce, my best garlic yield yet, the first very successful growing of Spring cabbage and cauli, although there were harvesting issues with the latter. Here are some other minor treats from the veg patches.

Just before Christmas Jon got round to a little project in the kitchen. We bought a job lot of Laura Ashley tiles and he did a fab job on the sink area.

Now, onto the title of this post. I am so suffering from said title at the moment. I just cannot get myself outside but today I thought I would go out and look at the state of pay. I took a few photos when I went out to feed the chooks; they got a few extra treats over Christmas and although they are in low yield mode just now the eggs are massive.

Here are said chooks; we put down some of the bamboo in the week as they were laying behind it and I had trouble retrieving the eggs; they also have something different on which to chow down.

This is the rather gloomy view of the growing area - not an attractive sight at this time of the year to be honest.

I have fresh compost in the six tyres as well as the other two large ones; there is still some work to be done there. I did manage to cut back the raspberry canes before Christmas but not much else...

Obvs not much sowing and growing happening just now. Here are the onions? These are planted in the right hand side of the bed in the far left of the above photo. They have been constantly brought to the top by the rain and then got at by birds, possibly. I'm leaving as is until I get some February planting sets and then I will sort out the bed; at least one seems to have taken!

Also in the same bed on the left hand side is the garlic; this sort of had the same problem but has taken much better.

Whilst looking for evidence of snowdrops at the far end of the garden, which I found yay, I also spotted some of the garlic cloves which had taken flight, by one means or another, from the bed and across the fence!

Outside the polyhouse (far too embarrassed to show you THAT) are the planters I had nearThe Snug last Spring/Summer; they are happily coming back to life; I have to be very honest and say there are new bulbs which I have not got round to planting yet.....

On the way back up to the house I spied some buds on the Magnolia Strallata. This is my very favourite thing in the garden but I only wish it was in flower for a longer time.

This is how I very much look forward to it showing later in the year.

So that is a little ramble about stuff. 

Last night I began some planning of what will go where in the growing area. Not even THINKING about sowing anything yet but do like to know where things will be. Trying to make sowing and growing easier for me this year, manage my time better along with looking after the Airbnb listings. I don't want the former to fail whilst the other is thriving - just need to be organised which I really am good at normally....

I do need to order the February garlic and decide which spuds I'm growing this year but that is about it for now, despite the seed catalogues regularly flying through the door at a fair rate of knots! 

Jon brought home a mahoosive amount of wood for logging just before Christmas which should keep us in wood beyind next Winter. It came with some lovely composted down wood chips. Hoping to get this on the beds when we have a dry spell in a couple of weeks; we have already given a good few barrow fulls to our next but one neighbours and they are very happy with it.

Along with this I have been going through the multitude of seeds I have collected; I'm ready to give some away to a deserving project somewhere hopefully in Mid-Wales. I've just cancelled both of my gardening magazine subscriptions; it's part of the cutting back on the budget as usual at this time of the year - every little helps - and this is also where most of my seeds come from.

Right, getting on for lunchtime now so hope this reaches you with not too many mistakes and that you enjoy my first ramblings of 2020. I'm also returning to my Slimming World group this evening to deal with the food slump I have found myself in.

Bye for now, Lou.xx

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Preparations Inside And Out

Morning all.

Today I am having a Social Media-free day so have already got a lot done by 10am! Hubby and boys off for the day, bread is proving, had breakfast, boys' rooms dusted, run half a mile on the treadmill, chooks fed and had a chat to our Airbnb guests who, excitedly, are house hunting in the area. I told them they couldn't have picked a better spot!

This week I have re-discovered my gardening mojo a little enough to do some garden prep. With being do busy in the summer I neglected things a little as I think I have mentioned before. However, I manged to get outside on a couple of my favourite Autumnal days where it was dry and bright, if a little cool.

On Saturday I finished mulching all the six big tyres, 

oh and the bed behind the poly house is now covered. I have kept the frame on because it is quite handy for leaning against.

Then yesterday it was sooo very lovely that I would have felt very guilty indeed if I had not gone outside and done something! I gave the strawberry plants a haircut, still have a couple of other pots to do, 

mulched and covered the two massive tyres 

and prepared bed 2 for mulching by clearing all the leaves from it. 

That corner of the garden has about four trees in it and I'm looking forward to Jon cutting a couple of them down to reduce the leaf drop in the Autumn but to also open up a little more light in that area during the growing season.

The other thing I did was to cut all the loose polythene off the poly house where it has been battered by the wind. This happened last year and we are definitely using the roof from the conservatory, when that is refurbished,to cover it this time and not bothering with polythene again. I will HAVE to utilise the conservatory in the early sowing period until that job is done; there is always something to be done on our little homestead.

So that is preparations outside, now for indoors.

I know for some people it is a little too early to talk about the festive season. However, if anybody knows me well they will know I LOVE the preparations leading up to Christmas and luckily all four of us feel the same way!

The cake is made using Gluehwein and has been fed twice already with lovely spiced rum...

and is currently sitting in the cupboard wrapped up in grease proof paper, cling film and foil. I've made the required additions to this week's shopping list as I need to make the pudding, a request from Jon, and the mincemeat for the enormous amount of pies we get through during December! I have also decide to make a little hamper of edible goodies for some friends we are visiting just down the road on the weekend the boys and Jon break up. I used to make a lot of hampers, here are some I created in the past for raffle prizes or gifts, then whilst looking for the hamper photos I found photos of the craft fayres I used to take part in.


Right I'd better get on with something else.

Bye for now.


Thursday, 24 October 2019

Seasons And Colours Are Changing.

Autumn is in full swing now, and I love it! The colours around the house and garden are changing. The creeper on the front is this fab red.

Then the tree I always wrongly call a wonky Willow but is actually a Hazel is looking great and I can't WAIT to bring some of this in as part of the house festive decorations. Eeeek!

And talking of decorations the big, varigated holly bush is looking fab so there will be plenty for cupboard top and table centre displays. 

Can you tell I'm getting excited? 

I've already printed off my Christmas planning sheets - see here.!!! and created another decoration for the house.

On Sunday morning it was a little chilly so we lit the woodburner in the living room whilst we had out first brew of the day before getting on with a few jobs. Have to admit that this view, which is from my regular spot, will be even more wonderful soon as the tree will be placed for Christmas where the small table is in the far corner. I am getting excited which I normally hold back on until after Halloween but this year JUST can't seem to do it! 

Anyhow the weather for the last couple of days have been bright, dry and cool which I absolutely love but today is damp and we have a wet weather warning here for tomorrow and Saturday. The Rayburn is already lit, of course, but I may light the woodburner for when the boys come home; we are going nowhere this evening plus they break up for half term today so perfect night for a cosy time by the fire.

Cracking on. In the week I shunned the ironing board and headed out to the garden. I'd already cleared this bed, no. 3, so set about preparing it by filling it with a mixture of chicken poo/bedding, bought compost, some of my own made black stuff along with some I'd taken from planters to use as a mulch. This bed is now ready to plant with garlic and onions. (Please ignore the weeds surrounding this area!)

This is the bed behind the poly house. I've done the same preparing this one but it will be covered over soon ready for Spring.

I'd put two planters behind the lettuce sink which last year had tulips growing in outside The Snug. If you look REALLY, REALLY closely you can JUST see new shoots growing through! 

Talking of bulbs I did more preparation by clearing the planter outside the Studio. I  planted a selection there including some given to me by my lovely gardening next-door-but- ones.

I'm quite pleased how it turned out but obvs can't wait until we see the colours coming through!

Sorry if you saw this on my Twitter feed but for those who didn't....


Jon found on Facebook a Smeg fridge freezer that looked a bargain, to say the least!
It was priced at £62, apparently needed work as the thermostat wasn't working, the top cover was missing and one of the doors didn't close properly. It arrived home with Jon, confident as ever that everything could be fixed. After about an hour working on it, sitting over night then switched on for 12 hours or so... ta da!!

The blue lights, which apparently help to keep the fruit and veg fresh, flash on and off when you leave the door open for too long!

I absolutely LOVE it.

I've been suffering with swollen glands and a cough etc. for about a week and I still don't feel my best. I started my new Welsh class last Thursday, da iawn a mi, but I'm not sure I'm going to go today; piggin' shame as only week 2 and it's half term next week... I'll see.

The odd Airbnb booking is still coming in with three last weekend and one this weekend so the chalet will be ready for them shortly.

Well that is my little catch up.

By for now.