Hmmm – more gifts today!

Well, for the interested few, I still haven’t unwrapped the gift, feeling a bit ooo-er about it!    Am willing to submit myself to public consensus so I’ve been trying to insert a poll into ma posts but have been unsuccessful so far!   Trying again now.

Where’s the poll gone?

Still – today bought more gifts.   The magazine subscription bought for me by Himself has finally arrived, so he is now cuddled up reading it, hmm.

Anyway, remember The Quest – our constant pursuit to be more self-sufficient and recreate our homestead as something of a tinyholding (the smallest type of smallholding), on a tiny type of budget?   Happily we’ve already achieved that country-type smell, despite living in town, as Himself happily covered the garden in several sacks full of free horse manure last weekend and it’s constantly rained since, so basically the garden is a pool of liquid excrement, which the dogs are happily playing in then running back through the house!   Still, in respect of The Quest, the best gift of the day has been the offer of half an allotment just down by the local park -an elderly family member wants to downsize what he’s doing so he’s offered us the chance of using his ‘spare bit’ in the absence  of any real progress on what would be the growing area of our garden!

Himself is thinking about it, whilst he’s reading my Christmas present.   Kindly, he is reading extracts out from it to me – I feel another hmmm coming on!

Keeping the homefires burning!

Well, it’s officially moving from autumn to winter.  My gorgeous leaf is still clinging to the tree so I’ve still not succumbed to putting the heating on, despite the protests around me.  As soon as I open my mouth to reply to the protests, their eyes roll and they mutter: “I know, put a jumper on…” so I must be getting through!  However, we are indulging in the luxury of lighting the fires of an evening, to keep the chills at bay!

As well as being a lovely signal for cosy evenings around the fire, it’s also been a chance for me to put to the test my recycled paper logs, the making of which was this summer’s newest hobby.  Actually, although I did make quite a few from time to time, as I became unwell it actually became my son’s new ‘hobby’ the take-up of mysteriously co-incided with each time he was skint and needed a sub:  enter bartering and slave labour as a new means of  organising winter fuel – totally appropriate to the quest of downshifting, me thinks!

Don’t panic or phone child-line, he’s 21, can’t budget to save his life and ran out of pub money.  His logging taught him a hard lesson in life, that’s all (actually not that hard, he was just playing with paper-mache, it was like having my six year old back again)!

My mum was delirious and fastidious about  about dropping off her newspapers and I can’t think of a better use for the Daily Mail than to shred it, soak it in water in an old dustbin for a week and then squeeze the life out of what’s left into a brick shaped lump – Joe and I spent many a happy hour supporting The Mail  through this transformation to something actually useful and of benefit to society!

Tragically, it really appealed to my nesting instinct to organise the drying ‘logs’ into the garage, as you can see:

Logs a-plenty

Incidentally, I do realise that it’s even more tragic to have photographed them!

We haven’t put any into the woodburning stove because although it’s a multi-fuel stove, Himself isn’t happy with the idea of sticking these logs in there (I know, don’t ask me, I think it’s to do with their Mail origins) but this evening I’ve lit the open fire in the dining room, essentially so I can sit and blog at the computer in relative warmth, but in reality so that I can secretly time them as I’m really intrigued as to how long they take, and thus how much money it’s saving.  Truth is, I don’t think it’s saving that much as we’ve got through three of them in about 2 1/2 hours, so that’s under an hour each.  Now the log maker blurb said that each log burns for up to two hours, so I guess the key things are the phrase “up to”and the fact that they are predominantly made with The Mail and therefore aren’t really hot stuff!  Still, for each one that burns merrily for (nearly) an hour, there’s a few lumps of coal less being used, no?  At least so far it’s enough to keep the frosty parts at bay (that’s weather-speak, I don’t mean Himself, obviously)!

Speaking of which, it’ll soon be time for hot water bottles too!




Chickens and eggs (metaphorically speaking) …

Have had a rocky few days, but the weather at least continues to be kind – although windy, around here!  I’ve finally been able to toddle up the garden and take some photos to update The Quest page.  I’ve gone off that title and I’ve renamed it Country Living? for the moment, trying to find my starting point with it!  Any helpful comments gladly received, it’s lovely to get comments!

The thing is, we’re in a bit of a chicken and egg situation: our roses round the door country cottage in later years is now unlikely to happen –  the unexpected downshift now means that we won’t pay off the mortgage or be able to save anything much before Himself retires.  Ironically though, I will have more time to help get homestead tasks going, until I’m on top of the health situation, I don’t have what’s physically needed to get it all going! And without what I was earning, we won’t have a bean to do it all with!   Still, living old-style now will give us good preparation for living old-style when we’r, er, old(er)!  None of these factors are mutually exclusive and together present what is commonly known in optimistic circles as “‘a challenge” to make the home we now have into our retirement dream cottage.  This is of course unless I write a successful novel or win the lottery – whichever comes soonest or is the most realistic – or is that, least fantastic, daydream?  I guess that would be counting chickens there,  to continue the chicken analogy!

Of course I’m very aware of the fact that we are amazingly lucky- we do have a great house that can adapt into ‘dotage cottage’ along with us, and we will have huge fun rising to the challenge.  The garden issue does remain a quest indeed, but where there’s a quest there’s a hero waiting to prove himself,  so I guess Himself can be well cast into the hero role -not sure heroes hoik their trousers up under macho armpits before yomping off into the wilderness though!   The Country Living? page will carry the updates of his quest to allotmentise the hard standing at the bottom of the garden, plus conquests of dragons and what nots!

Meanwhile, enjoying the potent days of Autumn when the weather’s on-side, I found the spottiest ladybird ever.  The pictures a bit rubbish – not sure if the camera was out of focus or me, but I love the colours and the spots!

Spotted a ladybird

In the dog house!

The heating is still not on, although we did light a fire last night just to cosify ourselves.  I have finally finished the sausage doggy draught excluder and we had a ceremonial plonking of him in the appropriate place, ie: the huge gap at the base of our very ill-fitting living room door.  We stood back, Himself and I, surveying my handiwork.  I’m actually quite pleased with it: made of yarn from my stash, left over from projects of years gone by, stuffed with an old fleece picnic blanket that is too threadbare to lay on the ground, but just right in size and shape when rolled up, to be the draught-proof sausage!  It cost nothing but the time, and let’s face it, all the time I’m having to rest, I’m able to spare a bit of  it!

Crochet doggy draught excluder reporting for duty!

I turned to Himself, for the all important seal of approval, after all, what’s not to like?  What indeed!  He turned to me, with a perplexed expression, and the conversation went thus:

HIMSELF: What did you use?

MYSELF: Bits and bobs, you know … left overs,  it didn’t cost anything!

HIMSELF: What leftovers?

MYSELF: You know, from other things, it’s from the wool left over.

Pause: clock ticking, Seamus practising some worrying ‘moves’ on sausage dog, brains ticking over …

HIMSELF: Is that my jumper?


HIMSELF: You know, the wool from the jumper you knitted me ..  the big warm one.

MYSELF:  Hmm, the brown of his face, um, yes,  see what you mean … yes, I think there was some left over.

HIMSELF:  So now I  match the draught excluder …?

You can see how the conversation went, clearly he is less than impressed by the fact that his clothing matches the soft furnishings of the home, despite the fact that both are keeping him warm and cosy (and actively contributing to the lack of heating bill)!  Sigh!



Still no heating on …!

It appears that the insulation is working!  Feeling more than a little bit pleased really, that it’s now the 5th October and I haven’t succumbed to flicking the old ‘heating on’ switch on the boiler!  It’s probably psychosomatic (or some such spelling) but the house does feel warmer since Friday, even though the weather has deteriorated!

We’ve just about put the house back to rights, no mean feat as I was unwell and Himself was, well, Himself really!  He did do the hoovering and chopped some kindling in preparation for lighting fires as a preventative measure against putting the actual radiators on.  Either that or he really wants his crumpets toasting old-style (ooer)!

The idea, be-fitting the whole essence of downshifting and economising in the use of our own (fiscal) and the world’s (environmental) resources, is that we try to get through October without cranking up the boiler, which is fine – the calendar, clocks-going-back deadline.  I’d sort of prefer to let nature set the deadline a bit though.  You see, next door has a cherry tree which overhangs us.  Among all of the run-of-the-mill cherry leaves, there is a fantastic leaf of individual colour and quality.  It seems to be flouting the ‘wait for everyone else’ rule and is flaunting its early-in-the-season colour, and as such is displaying a gorgeous red / orange, quite astonishing among the uniform green of its companions.  My theory is that this leaf is my herald of Autumn and so the heating should not go on until it falls from the tree, thus heralding the onset of winter and ceremonial on-switching of the heating.  So, two deadlines, we shall have to see!

Trying to get a photo of it, but with the effort needed am likely to:

(a) drop camera out of the window (b) fall from window myself (c) both

Incidentally, I found a useful site relating to downshifting etc, which included advice about taking action such as insulation as part of a downshift – in at number two in the charts, no less!  I allowed Himself to have a smug moment at the news!

Hello world!

So, here goes blogging, days in the life of me…..!

So what’s been happening?

Completed projects this week: baby blanky, cardi,mitts and beanie hat for new arrival yesterday (Welcome Ollie, congrats Emma)!

On-going good works:

Aran jumper for son number 1 (recently back from Brazilian travels and feeling the cold) – not too old at 26 for a mummy hand-knit!

Crochet cushion cover for shabby-chic-ing my living room (starting to create a very cottagey feel in there)!

I’ve searched my stash and identified enough yarn to start my draught excluder for the said living room (cottagey feel includes genuine draughts from the floor boards)!

Is it me, or are sausage dog draught excluders going to be the next big thing?

Happily also, the  summer collection of tea cosies (developed through knitting therapy during recent illness- similar to basket weaving, I guess) have now been passed on to loving homes.  Now pursuing ideas for Christmas /winter type cosies, to add to Christmas hamper presents.