Friday, 30 November 2012

Brrr, it's cold.....

Well I've braved the cold, the chickens and geese are running round in their little white world, well rather the chickens are .... I've discovered recently that when the ground is really cold the geese like to sit down and stay put, I guess it keeps their feet nice and warm and they have their very own little patch of thawed earth.
I had to kick through the ice on the buckets and take over some hot water from the house, but now they all have drinking water and lots of food, the houses are cleaned out and an extra layer of hay has been put in the Goose Hoose, the chickens get treated to a layer of newspaper on top of their usual bedding on very cold days, it really is an excellent insulator.
As you can see from the photo, the dogs are glad to be back in the house and are hogging the radiator as I type.  They have turned round since I took this photo and now seem to be cooking their noses, cuddled into each other in the most adorable way.  How can two dogs  who can sit here looking so angelic and gorgeous turn into crazed monsters that seemingly hate each other and are intent on murder and need a 'time out' at least once a day?  It's a good job I love this little pair of hooligans.

I picked up a couple of brilliant bargains yesterday whilst out on my travels.  
 I had gone back to our old haunting grounds to pick up some Layers Pellets and corn for the chooks, and while I was in Thame I decided to go to Superdrug to pick up a years supply of hair dye for myself and use the £2 I had available on my 'Beautycard' before destroying it, but they only had four packs left and I needed six (luckily they were on offer too so I was a very happy bunny) and they had an offer on whereby you got loads of points per pound, I think it was something like 12 for every pound spent, so my card is back in my purse and will be used again to make good use of the £6 I now have available to spend on it.  My best bargain of the day though was this book for just £2 from the local hospice charity shop,  I'll sit with a cup of coffee later and have a good read, I may even light the woodburner early and have a cosy afternoon.
This evening it's time to done the 'posh frock' and accompany Lovely Hubby to his works Christmas Party.  Good food, lots of wine and the 'posh frock', truly a treat to look forward to.
And talking of treats ..... I'm leaving the Givaway post (SEE HERE) open until Sunday evening so if you haven't had time to leave a comment yet pop over now - Good Luck.
Sue xx

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Celebrating 1000th Posts with a Thank You and a Giveaway

It all began HERE 1000 posts away,  Our New Life in the Country documented (when the Internet will allow me) on an almost daily basis. 
The original newspaper clipping that lead us to this way of living and is framed for posterity on the living room wall.  This Blog was to be a continuance of my 'Lavender's Blue...' Blog that talked about the day to day life in the 'smallest shop in Cumbria'.  I had truly caught the Blogging Bug and decided we would chart every step of our great big adventure as it unfolded before us.
The adventure that was switching from town life to country life, with the excitement of getting new gadgets and big boys toys to make that life easier.  The acquisition of more four footed and feathered family members, because, YES, all our animals and birds are members of this extended family.
And then one by one you started to follow our adventures, joining in with encouraging comments, asking questions that tested our new found knowledge (sometimes to the limits), but day by day, week by week with the help of family and friends and good Blogging buddies we have made this wonderful journey, and to celebrate the 1000th post I decided that there just had to be a giveaway.  I'm not even sure what you will get yet, there will be handmade soaps and cards for sure, something suitably chickeny and something that will be picked from the house that sums up our journey.
All you have to do to be in with a chance is to be a regular reader or Follower on this Blog, and leave a comment saying which was your favourite ever post, you have 1000 to choose from.  All of you who left us ideas for using up the Stew Packs will have your names included in the hat 3 times as Lovely Hubby liked ALL the suggestions, so we will be slowly using each and every recipe idea.
Thank you for taking the time to read each day and for being there with your words of help, encouragement, advice, commensense and expertise whenever we have needed it.  Thank you for supporting us through the tough times, through hardships and sadness, and thank you for being there when it all goes right and you tell us what clever little sods we are, or how well we have done something, we need all the encouragement we can get as we are now moving into the final stages of Our New Life in the Country ...
.....  we may have found our forever home!!

So hopefully even more exciting times ahead, which of course we hope you will continue to join us in.

Thank you.

Sue and Lovely Hubby xx

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Half a Slice of Steak =

Half a slice of steak doesn't make much - does it?
Well if you think how you can pad it out it can go a long, long way.
Lovely Hubby had steak on Monday night for his tea, he does like his meat that man of mine.  When I opened the pack there were two slices of steak, a really good man sized portion, but as I had cooked lots of lovely vegetables and tasty gravy there was really no need to use all of the steak for one meal so I surreptitiously cut one of the slices in half, once cooled it was popped into the fridge ready for the next day, when I had more time to turn it into something else.
Added to an onion, a couple of sliced carrots from the freezer and a good portion of Bist* it looked a lot more like a filling meal, indeed at this stage I could have added a couple of potatoes and it would have been a lovely stew, but that would only have given me one or two meals at the most out of my half slice of steak and I wanted more, much more.

Thawing out a pack of the pastry that has lurked in the freezer for I don't know how long and I was in action, I quickly made up three Steak and Veg pies and two Cheese and Onion pies for me (I don't eat meat), and still there was more filling for both type of pies.
We had pies and veggies for tea on Tuesday night (I had one, LH was very hungry and had two) with some more Bist* poured over (Bist* gravy although tasting very 'beefy' is in fact vegetarian!).  So that left two pies to be popped into the freezer for another nights tea.
And still there was more pie filling over for both types, so I got another pack of pastry out of the freezer to thaw out overnight.
Yesterday I made up yet another batch of pies, three each of Steak and Veg and Cheese and Onion.  So that's four pies of each kind now nestling in the freezer.  As I was baking a loaf of bread these were cooked at the same time so will only require reheating when we fancy them for a meal.
So out of two slices of steak that I got on offer (yellow sticker) for £3.40 I managed to get a total of six meals, LH will only be getting one pie each time and more veggies for the next meals, he did admit to being very full after eating two!!
In the past I have also done this with sausages when there have only been two left, making a pie with chopped up sausages and beans instead of steak and veg, you could also make good use of a solitary burger or a single pork chop.  It's amazing how far you can make a small amount of food go if you wrap it in pastry.

I also ended up with some pastry over so I made two more pie bottoms and tops and popped them back in the freezer, naughty I know it does tell you not to refreeze once defrosted but I have successfully done this before and it tasted just as good once cooked.
*** *** ***
Some of you asked questions about the last post (see HERE), mostly to do with how I freeze my potatoes and veggies.
Well it's quite simple I just pop them in the freezer!!  When I first started out on this self sufficient lifestyle I used to religiously blanch every vegetable for the required time, cooling them quickly and then getting them as dry as possible before open freezing them and then bagging them up.  Then I did a little experiment one day when I was feeling very busy lazy, and I simply popped them straight into tubs and into the freezer.  I did remember to give them all a little shake after an hour or so, so that they wouldn't stick together in one huge mass.  And guess what - IT WORKED.  There was very little difference in the properly prepared veggies and the simple 'bung them in the freezer' option veggies.
So now usually I go down the simple route.  If I have my own veggies or nice fresh shop bought veggies I will have one prep session, rather than starting from scratch for every meal.  So for instance a bag of potatoes will be used on the first night I have them for whatever meal I have planned  and then the rest will be divided up into groups.  Some will go in the freezer in Stew Packs like in yesterdays post, some will be cut into wedges (with the skin left on), some will be sliced thinly to use as a layer on a pie etc and a couple of the biggest ones will be put back in the cupboard to be used as jacket potatoes.  Of course if I am doing jacket potatoes (or baked potatoes as some call them) I usually do a couple extra and then these are popped into the freezer as 'filled jackets' (simply scrape out the potato with a spoon mix it with some cheese and a bit of onion and a dash of Worcestershire sauce then pile it back into the potato skin and open freeze until frozen solid then double wrap and keep them in the freezer ready for a quick supper).
You can do the same with lots of veggies, carrots, cabbage etc, why leave things lurking in the cupboard or fridge waiting to be used and leeching out their vitamins and nutrients as they age, when you can snap into action and freeze them at their freshest.  You don't have to grow your own to eat the freshest food, just buy the best you can find and use them all up straight away.  It's a good way to make use of any bargains you might get especially the 'Buy One Get One Free' that so often happens on fruits and veggies when supermarkets have vast quantities to get rid of in a rush.  Doing this can even work out cheaper than buying pre-prepared frozen veggies.
I have a big chest freezer with a fast freeze option so if you have a different style of freezer or have never done this before I would recommend just trying it with a couple of portions to see if it works for you with your freezer.  But I can honestly say I have never had a failure (yet!!).
Thank you for all the lovely meal ideas for the Stew Mixes, there are a couple that I really fancy, but I am going to let Lovely Hubby choose his favourite and as my next post will be my 1000th I will let you know which he chooses and how it tasted with the recipe I used.  The commenter that gave us the idea will be getting a little gift to say thank you. So I will be asking for the address of the sender at the end of that post.
We are now going away for a couple of days, calling in on family in Preston, Peebles and Manchester over the course of a long weekend and also having a day at the Country Living Fair in Glasgow on Saturday as our Christmas treat to ourselves, so I will be back next week with that 1000th post.  To those of you who have read from the start (or the few of you that have just read it all from the start up to the present day) WELL DONE, I do appreciate you all being there and reading the wild and wacky ramblings of this townie turned country girl.
To those burglars out there who are reading this the house will not be empty!!  We are leaving it in very capable two legged and four legged hands.....if you know what I!!
Sue xx

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

I was supposed to be emptying the freezer......

I was supposed to be emptying the freezer but I've just about given up.   I seem to be filling it more and more every day, in fact the large chest freezer is virtually full to the top.  In my mission to use up everything that is fresh and tasty whilst it still is fresh and tasty I am freezing all sorts of things.  The other day I made up these handy 'stew packs' whilst I was making a Lamb Stew for Lovely Hubby's tea.
I was chopping up carrots and onions and I suddenly thought why don't I just use up all the carrots and potatoes and half of the onions that I had in store while I already had my knife and chopping board at the ready.  After all it's just as easy to keep chopping while you are in the mood and if it saves time and washing up at a later date when perhaps you might not be in the mood why not just carry on with the job in hand!!
So ten minutes later I had enough veggies chopped for the Lamb Stew and enough extra chopped to make up five tubs of Stew Mix.  Simply popped in the freezer after labelling they are all sat ready for action to be turned into whatever takes our fancy.  Of course they are labelled Stew Mix, but they can also be thawed, whizzed briefly in the food processor to chop them a bit more finely and then quickly cooked into a tasty soup.  There is a myriad of uses for a tub of basically prepared potato, onion, celery and carrot. 
What would you turn one into? 
If you leave a comment with a really inspiring idea I'll give it a go, write a post about it and send you a little something just to say thank you!!

Of course the Lamb Stew also produced three good sized portions so two of them went into the freezer once they had cooled down.  There's really not a lot of space in there and in lots of ways I am very relieved.  Next years main Challenge and yes, I am giving that a capital 'C', is going to need every bit of food we have in store.
I almost can't wait to begin, but in the meantime I am making good use of everything we have in stock, and carefully building some supplies of basic necessities  I also have an Approved Food order about to arrive so that will bulk out the supplies a little bit more (and I might have accidentally ordered a few chocolatey bits for Christmas....big happy grin lights up my face!!).
Sue xx

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Buying and Storing

Yes, you've guessed it ..... I went back and got some more!!
Now I have a stash of twenty bottles of our favourite shower gel, a good mix of all the scents that we love and this should see us right through next year, after all you can't say no to a price reduction of more than half price.  Usually sold at £2.30 each, these were all bought for £1.
My idea of 'brilliant frugality' is to buy something that you love using, that is a good product and one you trust, at a fantastic saving and these fitted the bill perfectly.
In my opinion being frugal isn't about penny pinching and using products that are simply cheap it's about finding what you like to use or at the very least don't mind using that save you money, as much money as possible.  In the past I've been 'frugal' out of sheer necessity, then sometimes for experimentation's sake, this time I'm being frugal for a reason, we need to get as much cash together as possible over the next 2 or 3 years to pay for our forever home.
And if watching the pennies on a year's supply of something gets us there this is what I intend to do.  I realised yesterday that my No-November has slightly gone out of the window.  I have been spending money much more than I intended to this month, but there are two brilliant reasons for this.  We are slowly being stocked up with lots of basics that will see us through an almost No-Spend 2013 AND at this time of year when folk are going mad buying for Christmas I can feed my slightly obsessive shopping habit (that does sometimes rear it's ugly head when faced with massive over-consumerism all around me) but in a good way.
The bread and yeast and my 10kg of Basmati rice are now packed away and being stored in the spare room where it is nice and dry, so that's us in bread for twelve months.
And the handmade soap is in there too, sliced and drying out and as an added extra making the spare room smell absolutely gorgeous. 
A lovely bonus for me that while sorting out in the spare room to make way for all these goodies I found four boxes of bought in Lavender Soaps that I used to sell with little soap dishes on my Farmers Market stall, so now we have a stock of 90 soaps, more than enough to last us for the year, and at no cost to us whatsoever as all the soap supplies were written off when I closed my lavender business. (Pulls happy, smiley face and does a little dance!!)
It looks like it is going to be a lovely day here, after a frosty start the sun is shining and the world is just starting to thaw out, with clear blue skies overhead it looks like being one of those Sundays that really recharges the batteries for the week ahead.
Enjoy your day, I hope you have sunshine too.
Sue xx

Friday, 16 November 2012

MY Christmas Cake Recipe !!

On everyone's Blogs at the moment there are delicious recipes for cakes and Christmas goodies, as I hate to not join in with anything here's a recipe from me.  Enjoy !!
1 cup sugar, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 cup water, 1 tsp. salt , 1 cup brown sugar, Lemon juice, 4 large eggs, Nuts, 2 cups dried fruit and 1 bottle Vodka
Sample a large cup of Vodka to check quality.
Take a large bowl, check the Vodka again to be sure it is of the highest quality then Repeat. 
Turn on the electric mixer. Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl.
Add 1 teaspoon of sugar. Beat again.
At this point, it is best to make sure the Vodka is still OK.
Try another cup just in case.
Turn off the mixerer thingy.
Break 2 eegs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit.
Pick the fruit up off the floor, wash it and put it in the bowl a piece at a time counting each one.
Mix on the turner.
If the fried druit getas stuck in the beaterers, just pry it loose with a drewscriver.
Sample the Vodka to test for tonsisticity.
 Next, sift 2 cups of salt, or something.
Check the Vodka.
Now shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts.
Add one table. Add a spoon of sugar, or somefink. Whatever you can find.
Greash the oven.
Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over.
Don't forget to beat off the turner.
Finally, throw the bowl through the window.
Finish the Vodka and wipe the counter with the cat
*Disclaimer - No animals were hurt in the interests of trying out this recipe.
*** *** ***
Sorry if you were calling by for a 'real' Christmas cake recipe, but I don't like fruit cakes of any description so I never make one.  There are lots of wonderful recipes out there, both frugal and luxurious, and believe it or not you can have both in one cake!!
Sue xx

Thursday, 15 November 2012

A Year of Bread and Rice

After reading a few Blogs yesterday I noticed that there were mentions of T*sco having a '3 for 2' offer on a lot of their baking ranges so I nipped over to a browse the website and then quickly made the decision to order enough flour and yeast to keep us in bread for a year.
12 bags of Strong White Flour

12 bags of Stoneground Wholemeal Flour
(I need both as I mix half white with half brown)

6 tubs of Yeast
The price for all the above, thanks to the '3 for 2' offer, came to just £18.48 and will make us around 72 loaves, which after adding in the cost of a spoonful of sugar, another of salt and a dash of oil, will work out at less than 30p a loaf.  Not bad considering the price of a similar, although not as tasty loaf made with cheap ingredients and additives would set us back in a supermarket at today's prices £1.30.  So a saving of £1 per every loaf made which equals £72 over the year.
I am going to start a stand alone page charting our money saving for next year so this is going to be the first item listed.
Because I ordered online (to save petrol and the chance that when I got there there would not be enough of what I actually wanted to buy) I also trawled around for other other savings and came upon this one. Ten kilos of aged Basmati Rice for just £8, (available for online orders only, although you can get similar for £9 in store.
Now this will keep us in rice for the whole of next year, allowing us just under a kilo of rice per month at only 80p per kilo.  Comparing it against T*sco's own Basmati which is currently £1.57 a kilo this is a saving over the year of £7.70.
If you compare the cost against these microwavable packs (which I do own up to using on occasion), at a cost which works out at £6.36 a kilo, yes you read that right, as there is only 250g in each pack!!  It would be a saving of £55.60 over the course of the year....WOW!!
This little plan ahead experiment has inspired me to have a look around at what else is on offer that we can stock up on to save money for next year.  I am going to make a list of everyday essentials and necessities and see what we already have in stock, then I will make a list of what we would need to see us through the year and if I spy anything on a good offer I will buy enough for the year.  Luckily as we have cleared so much of our clutter we are freeing up space in the spare room which could be turned into my store for the year.
As of now every penny must count, so if we can save on the day to day necessities as well as cutting back on unnecessary items we will be able to give our savings an even bigger boost in the year to come.  And I thought this year was the 'frugal' one, it's not going to be a patch on next year!
What items would you or do you stockpile to last an entire year.
Sue xx

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

I've been Tagged......

I've been tagged by Frugal Mummy from over at My Beautiful Life
 Here are the rules:
* Once tagged you have to tell 11 things about yourself.
* Answer the 11 questions from the person who tagged you.
* List 11 questions for the person you are going to tag, if possible they should have less than 200 followers .
* You are not allowed to back-tag.
11 Things About Me
1.  I have green eyes.
2.  I take size 7 shoes.
3.  I have currently completely lost my sense of smell.
4.  I check in the microwave each time I use it for little hidden creatures.  I recently thought I had accidentally microwaved a ladybird and was absolutely devastated.  It turned out to be a spice kernel!!
5.  I'm fed up with Twitter and have barely 'tweeted' for ages.
6.  I hate clutter.
7.  I love using the last of something, ie: the last squeeze of toothpaste, the last chip on the plate.  It means I can throw the thing away and start a new one. (Hence a bit less clutter!)
8.  I am completely phobic about false teeth.
9. I can't swim.
10.  I trust completely and implicitly until I am let down......then I am your enemy for life and I will NEVER trust you again.
11.  I am wondering if everyone that reads my Blog actually knows ALL there is to know about me, you must do by now!
*** *** ***
And Here are the 11 Questions Frugal Mummy set for me 
1. In which month is your birthday?
 2.  What is your favourite colour?

3. What one thing do you wish you could change in your life?
 I wish I had had the confidence that I have now when I was younger.

4. What is your biggest regret?
 I have no regrets.  I am who I am today because of my past and everything I have been through.

5. What do you feel is your Christmas tradition?
NOT eating turkey.

6. Which part of your body do you dislike the most?
 There is nothing I dislike, it all works (as well as I can expect it too) and serves me well.  We should all be happier with what we have.

7. Which celebrity would you take out for dinner, and why?
I would rather go out for dinner with my Lovely Hubby.  Celebrity is so much overrated these days.

8. Who was your favourite teacher at school, and why?
Mrs Simpson, she inspired my English, I love punctuation, and the correctly written and spoken word.

9. What do you like to do in your spare time?
Read, with a big mug of coffee and something tasty to nibble at. 

10. I'm coming for dinner: What will you cook for us to eat?
Tagliatelle with Mediterranean Veggies, and a slice of Banoffee Pie for pud.

11. What are you planning for your garden next year?
 That it will do better than this year and feed us more widely through the seasons.
*** *** ***

And who do I tag.......
I choose
Miss Organic Fair Trade Knickers  over at 'I Blame Enid Blyton'
You're tagged..... and these are your questions :

1.  What is your favourite part of Blogging?
2.  Who would you most like to meet (famous person or not)?
3.  What is your best childhood memory?
4.  What is your favourite vegetable?
5.  How many siblings do you have)
6.  What one food could you live on forever, if you had to?
7.  What would you make me for a quick simple lunch if I were to pop round?
8.  What is your favourite colour?
9.  Do you prefer cats or dogs?
10.  Who is your favourite singer?
11.  and Which of theirs is your favourite song?

Happy answering.

If you're wondering why nothing appeared on my Ebay selling page yesterday, I had computer problems again and couldn't get the photos to load.  I'll be trying again later this morning.

Sue xx 

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Freebies and Treats

Yesterday was spent shopping without money, I decided that the time had come to make good use of my points and vouchers gathered over the last few months and give my purse (poor empty thing that it is this month) a well earned rest.
I had £15.50 of T*sco vouchers, so on arrival at the dreaded palace of consumerism I traded £10 of them in for Frozen Food Vouchers which instantly gave me double the spending power, and which left me with £5.50 for 'normal' groceries.  I did my old trick of walking round with a running calculator in my head, totalling up everything that I put in my trolley, when my boys were young Simon would follow me round with an actual calculator to keep me on track, it was good for his maths and good for him to learn the value of foods and how to save money. 
Every shopping trip was a good family time and no, my children did not beg for sweets and goodies over and over again as we went round the shops.  If I had any money over after the necessary foodstuffs were added to the trolley they would be allowed to choose something and they appreciated it all the more.  No they weren't angels and sometimes they had a little whinge and a moan but the thought of going to bed without a couple of bourbon or custard cream biscuits for their supper was enough to stop any begging for the sweets which would eat up the 77p needed for a pack of each, (T*sco Value Bourbons were 44p for a family pack and Custard Creams 33p for a family pack) that if rationed out lasted us all week, my how that has stuck in my memory, a purchase I tried to make every week!!
Anyway yesterday I manged to get a good mix of needed foodstuffs and some treats as well.  I spent a total of £23.98 on frozen foods and £7.96 on fresh veggies and a pack of part baked baguettes. 
So cash spent at T*sco = £6.44
Then it was off to Boots the Chemist to trade in my remaining points on my card, I had £7.25 to spend in store and was not sure what i would be able to buy.  But look what was on special offer these brilliant Shower Gels that Lovely Hubby likes, nay loves.  They are usually £2.30 in Boots and they were on sale at just one pound each so all my points went on seven bottles of shower gel.  So something that would normally have cost me £16.10 from there cost me nothing.  (I don't buy these unless they are on a good offer and recently have only been using supermarkets own versions which are much cheaper.)
Cash spent at Boots = 0
When I got home I cut my card up and chucked it in the bin.  I am working my way through everything we have and do, in a bid to really simplify our lives and this is one card that I didn't want anymore.  So one less bit of plastic in my purse.
Next on the list a trip to visit Mr Sainsb*rys to use up my stash of Nectar points.  I had £40 worth of points for spending.  I bought a couple of treats, Maltesers for Christmas was one of them but mostly just things that we needed.
So actual cash spent at Sainsb*rys - £7.83
So this weeks total spend on foodstuffs and some treats for Christmas is just £14.27.
My cupboards are all looking healthy and we have lots of fresh and frozen things (including a few Christmas treats) in store.  So hopefully this weeks spending is over and done with.
I am in the process of organising next years main Challenge, which is all about us being so super careful with our pennies, so this style of shopping will happen whenever I have enough points and vouchers to allow it.
Off now to photograph this weeks goodies to go on Ebay, I have six up to now so will have to have a look for four more to keep on target with my 'selling 10 things a week mini challenge'.  Check out my Ebay page later and see what goodies I have decided on.
Sue xx

Monday, 12 November 2012

Making Soap

After my post the other day, there were lots of comments about my soaps.  I have to hold my hands up and say that I make my soaps (in my opinion) the easy way, I use Melt and Pour Soap Bases.  I had to make the decision to do this as when I first set out selling at Farmers Markets and needed to expand my lavender range to include more homemade products I looked into the rules and regulations governing selling handmade soaps to the public.
I found out that I would need a Safety Assessment for each type of product I made and each 'recipe' for soaps would have to be tested and approved.  The most cost effective way around this for me at the time, (I was just starting out and didn't know if it would be a money earner or not), would be to go down the Melt and Pour route.  This produces a 'hot process' soap, the main ingredient is your melt and pour base which has already been tested by the manufacturers so all the soap maker has to do is to submit the recipe for additional additives, in my case my essential oils and natural colourings.  As each of these has already been tested and it is possible to get  the MSDS's for all your ingredients from your supplier, the assessment can be done purely by submitting your recipes and guidelines for manufacture and then paying your fee.
Of course it is vital that you stick rigidly to your recipes and keep your Product Information File completely up to date, as spot checks can and are done by visiting Trading Standards officers at any Market or Fair.  The certification I obtained was always in my file and copies given to the organisers of Farmers Markets etc if needed, this gives your customer a good level of confidence in your product.
For any of you who would like to make soaps for your own use or to give to family and friends as gifts of course it is so much easier.  You can simply buy the Melt and Pour base and add essential oil and colouring.  I use a full 10ml bottle of essential oil and 3 - 5ml of natural colouring for each soap 'loaf' which gives me eight chunky slices.  Yo do not need any certification for soaps you are making yourself and giving away as gifts.
Some of you asked about the cost of making my own soaps, well the cost per loaf (as I obviously bought in bulk) worked out at around £3.60 per each 1kg loaf (that's including the essential oils and colouring).  Since ending my little lavender business and having my closing down sale I had lots of soap base left over so it is this 'free stock' that will keep us in soap for the next few years.  Once this supply runs out I intend to go down the cold process route and make my own soap from absolute scratch.
If any of you would like a go at making your own Melt and Pour type soaps the company I used and trusted is JustaSoap visit them HERE to see the full range of their supplies.  I hope this helps those of you who are interested in having a go at this for yourselves.
Sue xx

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Remembrance Sunday

Some of us are lucky, our men came home.
from Simon's photos, (he's back left)
The boys that go away to war, come home as men.
 We can hold them again, we can let them know how proud we are of them and talk long into the night of things they can tell us about.  We know that they have seen so much, have lived through so much, most of which we will never know because they can't tell us.  They are injured in some way each and every one of them, if not showing physical scars then carrying their mental ones with dignity.
We owe it to them to honour all those that did not return.  To feel the pain of the parents of the boys and girls that did not return.  To feel the ache of those empty arms that cannot hold their child one more time, that cannot wipe a tear from a pain etched face or hear a story told with hesitant words.

We owe so much to so many, lets take today, even just two minutes of today to pause our lives and say THANK YOU and you will be remembered.
They shall not grow old,
As we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them,
Nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun,
And in the morning,
We will remember them.
*** *** ***
Sue xx



Saturday, 10 November 2012

The Waiting Game

Our computer is still soooo slow, thanks for all the tips but we are waiting on BT to clear up the problem, seemingly we are not synchronised!!  
This is obviously why we do get the occasional bit of use and then it all vanishes, like the amateur synchronised swimmer we are occasionally in time with the music and each other, but most of the time we are splashing about and disappearing under the water. Good old BT are trying to fix the problem at their end and we have to report any improvement (ha...that would be good) on Monday afternoon when they are phoning us to check on progress.  As Lovely Hubby works on computers for most of his working day to come home and find that his own is playing up is not amusing to say the least.
So while we are waiting on normal service being resumed we are also waiting on homemade soaps setting and hardening off ....

.... and homemade bread rising and magically filling it's tin ready to pop into the oven.
It's all a waiting game, but we know it will all work out in the end.
Sue xx

Friday, 9 November 2012

Bad Language Alert !!

I apologise for the bad language, but my computer is driving me MAD.
All week it has been soooooooo slow, hence the lack of Blog posts.  I apologise for that too, there are so many ideas for posts running around in my head I think there's a chance they'll start popping out of my ears like steam in an old cartoon.

I haven't even been able to list anything on Ebay, pictures simply won't download for me, so I'm saving them for next week instead.

So frustrating.
  Instead I am going to make another cup of coffee and see if I can read a few of your Blog posts to keep me sane....well it's worth a go!!
Sue xx

Wednesday, 7 November 2012


Glancing out of the office window yesterday, enjoying the sight of the washing blowing in the sunshine I spotted a little visitor to the bird feeding area.

Not a bird at all but one of the hundreds of squirrels we see usually dashing about the highest branches of the trees in the woods that surround our little patch on two sides.
A cute little fellow that seemed to be on a mission.  All at once the 'Mission Impossible' theme tune started playing in my head just as he began scampering around, having the time of his life.
Duh duh duh duh, duh duh duh duh, duh duh duh duh, duh duh duh dur, der der der, der de der......
"Ooops.......spotted!!"  He seemed to say.

"I'll send in an accomplice.......
.... while I look for something sweet to finish the meal ...
... nope nothing here.
Mmmmm....perfect!!  Although I think I'm being watched......
..  I'll move back to higher ground to be safe. "
Once he was out of reach I let out the dogs and they barked and ran after him and caused a big disturbance.   I don't mind the odd squirrel calling by but I really don't want him to spread the word that our bird feeding station is easy pickings, it'll cost me a fortune, Lovely Hubby has a soft spot for feeding the wildlife!
Sue xx