Sunday, 31 August 2014

Getting Ready?

You'd think with No Spend/Low Spend September starting tomorrow I would have been out and about topping up supplies, filling the freezer with food to last us, making sure the cupboards were full to overflowing of foods to see us through ... but NO ... quite the opposite in fact. 
I have already, without even thinking about it, been using up supplies.  Fishing in the cupboards for food I already have instead of dashing out and buying replacement things for items that we have used up.
This jar of homemade Green Tomato Chutney was taken from the cupboard, when the jar of onion marmalade in the fridge was finished off, and do you know what .... it is gorgeous!!   We ate it on buns from the freezer with sliced chicken for Lovely Hubby and sliced cheese for me.  We were slightly greedy having two each but we were hungry after a mornings barrowing and this set us up for an afternoon of even more work.
As you can just about make out on the label I made this in September of last year, and the time it has spent developing it's flavour tucked in the dark cool cupboard has mellowed it's taste wonderfully.  It's that mild, mellow and flavoursome it could be eaten on it's own, in fact I snook a cheeky spoonful straight from the jar ...... for test purposes you understand ;-)
(For the very easy and basic recipe look at the recipe page at the top of the Blog.)
So starting tomorrow .....  a month long food fest of use it up and wear it out. 
 Seeing if I can run down food supplies enough to be able to turn off the large chest freezer (we have to ..... the roof could be coming off the conservatory in the next couple of months!). reading the books and magazines I have instead of buying more, and digging out last Winters clothes to see if I can get away with not spending a penny on clothes for the foreseeable future.
Join me for No Spend/Low Spend September either just reading about what I'm up to or having a go yourself, in whatever form you decide to do.  There's something appearing on the horizon that takes up a lot of some folk's money, and not spending for a whole month could start some serious saving towards that.
Don't shoot me .... Lovely Hubby raised the dreaded 'Christmas' word before I did ... honest!!
Sue xx

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Suky Has a Question ......

Suky has a question ... just one question for you ...
" Does my Bum look big in this? "

Just in case you said yes!!
Sue xx

Friday, 29 August 2014

There's something behind the woodpile .....

Can you see Lovely Hubby disappearing into the woodland ....
... the dogs didn't even bother to follow him he had been going up and down, up and down, like a yoyo for hours!!
... he vanished behind the hedge that is behind the washing.
He was clearing some of the undergrowth with his brushcutter and with secateurs and sheer brute force.

Once he had made an impression on either side of the gap we both set too barrowing load after load of wood chippings from our enormous pile, to their new home on the edge of the woodland where the huge slices of the old oak tree are now weathering.
It took almost all day to do the bit we did, with me skiving off to make us some lunch and pour a few much needed long cold drinks.  Hard work, but well worth doing.
It turns out we have to move the wood chippings as soon as we can, as where they have been unloaded is exactly where we have to have checks made to see if the rainwater harvesting soak-away system will work effectively.

So the 'something' behind the woodpile - is a pathway made of woodchips :-)
(And yes, this is yet another little shed lurking on the edge of the woods!!)
Sue xx

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Finished Bed

I realised this morning that I never got round to putting up pictures of the finished new bed after doing the 'Molehills' post.  Ooops .... sorry!!
After barrowing all the soil over from the soil pile near the raised veggie beds, and filling in what was a much larger dip than even we realised, I laid out the pots of plants that we were planting.  Some were bought specially, including the one on the far left which was from the Maenan Hall NGS open day ... there were plants on sale as well as coffee and cake!!  The others bought on our visit to Snowdonia Nurseries just up the road from us.
A few of them we already had and they were just waiting their turn for planting.
Once they were planted I gave them all a good watering and then Lovely Hubby set too barrowing lots of chippings over for me to act as a good layer of mulch. 

I think it sets the plants off really well too.
I do have a list of virtually all the plants, I took a clipboard out with me and made a note of the names as I was planting them ...... now I just have to find the clipboard ;-)
Hopefully this bed, which fills in what was a dangerous dip and gap near the road, will now keep Charley a little bit safer.
Do you find that wonky bit of edging bl**dy annoying ... or is it just me being completely OCD.
Sue xx

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

There's a Blogger in my Kitchen

Watch out, watch out there are TWO Bloggers about.
We had a lovely evening on Sunday with fellow Blogger and country girl Sarah, from the Blog The Compost Bin.   The world was put to rights over far too much wine and a plate of Butternut Squash curry, and we caught up with happenings since our last meeting just over two years ago when we met up HERE, that was a brilliant day.
After a lot of laughs, and lots of wine and chat we retired to our beds to get some shut eye before continuing the conversation over a cooked breakfast.  Sarah asked ... nay demanded, a guided tour of our place, recognising many of the features and jobs done from photos on here.  She offered advice and named some plants that I had no idea over. Then after a few cups of coffee and a check of her map she hit the road once again on her weekend tour of Wales.
Leaving in her wake these lovely gifts and happy thoughts of time spent with lovely people.
Thank you Sarah, the remains of this glorious bowl of homegrown tomatoes and peppers are roasting away in the Aga as I type, there will be a lovely bowl of soup for my lunch today, decorated with a couple of the Dried Tomatoes and quite possibly washed down with some of your lovely Apple Juice.  :-)
And if you're thinking that the lovely Sarah is looking a lot slimmer in the picture here compared to the one on the link, it's because my clever Blogging Buddy has lost almost FOUR stone in the last eight weeks on the Harcombe Diet, she has put me to shame.
Well done Sarah, I was totally impressed, you look amazing.
Sue xx

Monday, 25 August 2014


I was jotting down in my notebook the other day all the things we are currently growing and all the things that I want to grow to keep us in vegetables and salad in the coming year.  I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of fruit bushes and trees we have been able to get planted and those that were already here when we moved in.
The fruit list reads as follows -
Apples - Cooking and Eating (established and new)
Red Currants
Black Currants
White Currents
Plums (established and new)
Cape Gooseberries (Physalis)
Cob Nuts
We thought we had bought a couple of Damson Trees but on closer inspection they are in fact more of a plum, they are the smaller ones in the picture above.  The big plums are from the established tree in Chicken World, whenever I go over to feed the chickens I check the trees for the best Plums and the chickens get any insect nibbled or over ripe ones.  So we do seem to have an excess of plum trees counting both the new and the established ones.  I see lots of plum jams and sauces to come in the future then ... no real hardship!!
All I think we need to buy then are a couple of Damson trees, and we will have all the fruit we need.

The Blackberries are growing everywhere, in the hedge between us and the road, along the back of the trees in Chicken World and all along the paddock and into our woodland.  So there should be no shortage of those in the future.  I rinsed and laid these to dry off slightly on kitchen roll as some of them had been picked from near the road.
I've started keeping a plastic bag in my pocket and harvest a few whenever I see them ready for picking, remembering to take half for us and leave half for the wildlife.  They seem to be out early this year, or maybe it's just the difference between here in North Wales and where we were in Southern England, it's all a learning curve at the moment.
Open frozen on a tray and then tipped into a box in the freezer it should give us plenty to eat for the next few months.  I am not making any jam this year as we are working our way through jams made in previous years at the moment.  Some of them as far back as 2010 and they are in wonderful condition.  You can't beat a slice of toasted bread with some homemade jam with a big mug of coffee after a mornings planting and digging.
Sue xx

Sunday, 24 August 2014

The Molehills

The 'molehills' spotted by Suky in yesterdays post have been growing and growing .....

... and here is Mr Mole, otherwise known as Lovely Hubby.

Barrow full after barrow full he carted over from the soil heap adjacent to the paddock, all sifted and ready to use.

While he barrowed and I cleaned out the henhouse little Charley kept herself amused with acorns and cobnuts.

She's growing fast now and is always on the go, but she's no trouble and is learning all the time.
Soon the new bed was almost filled, and after doing my little gardeners dance of treading backwards and forwards in the soil to compact it, we were almost there.  We are planting a Rhododendron bush and some other shrubs and plants to fill in this space in the hedge and make the area safer for the dogs.  My heart is in my mouth every time Charley runs in that direction in case she tumbles through onto the road, now hopefully, this will be a visible barrier to stop her in her tracks.

Of course keeping yourself amused while Mum and Dad dig and do silly walks is very tiring ...
... and soon she was flat out snoozing in the sunshine.

Looking as cute as a button while dreaming doggy dreams.
Sue xx

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Suky the Pug .... and the Molehills

Hello, my name is Suky, I am a Pug.
Mum's put me on a diet, she says I am at least 3kg overweight, so I'm practising my camera angles, she's said once I look slim I will get more food again.

If I do this I look thin .....

.... this must be my good side. 
So much more flattering than the photos on the last post.

Mum keeps vanishing outdoors, it's something to do with all these molehills that are appearing by the hedge!
Suky xx

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Gone to Pot

Since ending my other Blog '365 Days - £365' recently my spending has gone to pot.
Yes, I'm still using my coupons, vouchers and points but not having to be accountable to myself and the blog has meant that I have on occasion bought more than I should, more than I want to and more importantly more than I need to.
I need to reign it in big style ..... so in the interests of running down the large chest freezer and breaking this spending habit I have decided to have a No Spend/Low Spend September.  I will only be buying the absolute necessities of everything food wise and absolutely NO books, clothes or other bits and pieces.  As we still have a bit of August left I could go out and buy in what I think we will run out of .... but I won't !!  I have enough, more than enough in the cupboards and freezers to cobble together anything that gets used up. 
Bread - no problem, I have flour and yeast.  Biscuits - no problem, I have flour and oats and butter.  Fresh fruit - no problem, I have frozen berries and rhubarb in the freezer an apples on the tree.  You get the picture.  I also have quite a lot of frozen vegetables, so before any fresh veg is bought they will be used up.  The only thing I will have to buy regularly is some milk for Lovely Hubby's coffee, but that's only a couple of pints a week, I don't need to stress about that.
I have to do something for my own sanity.  I have gotten out of control so quickly it was worrying, well worrying to me anyway.  From spending £3 here and £4.50 there to suddenly spending £30 to £40 pounds every week it was a shocker.  
Coming up soon is our mortgage overpayment, we are allowed to pay a 10% overpayment each year without any penalty and to be able to add the money that would have been spent on food for September to the amount we have saved to do this would be fantastic.
This photo shows why Suky IS on a diet!!
 While the weather was hot and we couldn't walk her much, playing with Charley has been getting her nicely breathless a couple of times a day.
... and she loves it!!
I hope you won't get fed up (and I apologise to my brother) but I have a feeling that this Blog will be all about food and saving money next month, I should be able to squeeze in a few doggy photos though, the baby is growing very quickly  :-)
Sue xx

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The Polytunnel's Going Up

Yesterday was an exciting day, and in between heavy rain and in at times very windy conditions we managed to get the polytunnel frame erected.

Photographing it stage by stage for posterity.
This picture shows the hoops all up and the ridge being attached to them.

And this one shows Lovely Hubby attaching the corner stabilisers.

We got our tunnel from First Tunnels, who we also used for our last polytunnel, the frame of which we will be using for the net tunnel we will be erecting next to this one.  This one, which will be covered in the traditional polythene, is the upgraded tunnel with heavier duty metal hoops, built to withstand windier conditions and more stress, and hopefully with the net tunnel sheltered behind it that too will be safe in the high winds we get here.
I cannot recommend First Tunnels highly enough, in fact I am putting a link permanently onto my sidebar as they are one of our preferred suppliers.  During some of the showers Lovely Hubby came in, and over a cup of tea and a biscuit, watched some of the brilliant tutorial videos available on their website that shows you exactly how to erect the tunnels for yourself.  Every stage of the erection is covered in easy to understand and follow clips.
With his mind refreshed on how he did it last time, the frame of the tunnel was completed in no time at all and as the heavy black clouds rolled in, the outline of the tunnel stood proudly on our hillside, changing the look of the field forever.
Sue xx

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Another Day Out !!

A sign appeared on our gate post by the triangular paddock last week.  As the lady was attaching it she spotted Lovely Hubby working in the field and came over to check it was okay to put it there, seemingly it has been there for the last 20 odd years twice a year ...... so who were we to say no!!
Last time it was there we were busy decorating in the house and just didn't have the time to follow the signs and visit the garden ... but this time we did.

Two miles further along the road from us and we found it ..... the entrance to Maenan Hall.

We took a photo of a wall because we need to show whoever comes to build our new walls just what we want.  I love the steps built into this one, but I don't think we'll be able to do that, although as I said to Lovely Hubby it would save Geraint the Post a lot of time!! 
Lovely Hubby sulkily posed by the bust .....

... and then discovered something wonderful in the undergrowth ..... me!!

There were some beautiful settings.

Up on the hill we spied a Folly.

Getting closer I noticed what looked like a naked man ....
... but on closer inspection I realised his modesty was intact thanks to a well placed fig leaf.  
He was Helios, and he was the personification of the sun in Greek mythology.

Lovely Hubby was more interested in the ceiling ..... I don't know why .... I didn't look up ;-)

I climbed the tower and stood on tip toe while waved to Lovely Hubby who stayed at the bottom.  "Look no hands" I shouted, just to scare my gorgeous height fearing man .... hehehe.

After all that walking and climbing we had to sit and recharge out batteries with coffee and cake ....

... I was too slow with the camera to even get a shot of Lovely Hubby's.
As they were raising money for the Red Cross we returned to sample the other cakes after a stroll around the Dell, and had a complete action replay, I didn't want to photograph that as it would have made us look greedy .... Lol !!
It was a brilliant half day out, and feeling inspired we returned home via Snowdonia Nurseries where we had a little spend on some new plants for a new bed I have in mind.  We did get some work done as once home we changed into our working gear, got out the strimmer and got stuck in to strimming, pruning and weeding.
A day well spent.
Sue xx