Saturday, 21 May 2011

Toothbrush rugs

Just goes to show there's always something new to learn! I can't remember what I was originally looking for on Google ( you know how one link leads to another..................), but I came across this:
Going to have to have a go and resurrect the Rug Challenge; I need some for the cabin, adn whilst I have accumulated a few from the tip/charity shops etc, it would be nice to have them handmade by myself. Now need to start collecting useful fabric and getting strips organised.
Anyone else made one?

(pic from

Friday, 20 May 2011

Off-grid solar powered blueberry and honey biscuits

Going off-grid shortly (I hope), I'm scouting about for recipes that will be suitable for cooking and eating without conventional power/oven, etc. So, I devised this biscuit recipe - cup of tea without a biscuit? Unthinkable!

16 rich tea biscuits, crushed
3 oz butter, softened
3 tbsp honey
handful of blueberries
large bar of chocolate

Place the honey and butter in a bowl, and break up the chocolate into pieces and place in a second bowl. Put both bowls into a hot and sunny greenhouse for a couple of hours (could take more, could take less, depending). When melted, stir the honey and butter well to mix, and add to the crushed bisuits and fruit. Mix thoroughly (I use my hands for this bit), and press into a baking tray, flattening and smoothing
it down. Pour over the melted chocolate to cover and leave in a cool place to set.

Et voila! Off-grid, solar powered biscuits.
Next step is home ground flour from home grown wheat, home churned butter, honey from hive and fruit from the garden (rasps would be nice, or blackcurrants).Still working on the chocoalte production, but the bisuity bit is really nice without it too.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Thought for a Wednesday

"There won't be peace until the power of love is greater than the love of power."


Here's a pic of the cabin I'm in the process of converting to off-grid. Right now, it's emptied out, ready for a deep clean, followed by insulation and lining, then flooring. I need to do a bit more research on the insulation, but bought a roll of flooring from the boot sale recently for a great price. To the right of the cabin is a good sized water butt with tap, running rain water from the roof, which has been there since the cabin was put up a few years ago now. Also needing doing when the weather gets back to sunny is a new coat of painty stuff on the outside, but I'm keeping it blue. It sits half way up the garden on the left, tucked away in its own little space; it gets taken over a bit by the hops, and there is a big arched wooden seat with a roof opposite it. It's close to the firepit and the area where I intend to build my clay oven over the next few weeks.
Watch this space................

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Shopping shouldn't hurt you...........

Had to visit Matalan this evening for a few things for the 'young adults'. Some of their clothes are displayed folded up on slanting shelves - look nice, yes, but the shelves are made of thick glass ( I think), with not so rounded corners. managed to walk into one with unprotected edges (not sure if some of them are protected or not, rapidly lost interest); result - deep graze and slow trickle of blood. To add insult to injury, fitted sheets fell on my head when I went to take two off the shelf. Letter to Matalan about their shelving tomorrow, methinks.
Life shouldn't be this hard, should it?

Currently listening to.............

Monday, 16 May 2011

Off-grid dishwasher

All ready to go! Enamel bowl £1 from bootfair, cotton cloths knitted from yarn I liberated from charity shops - washable, durable and compostable. Water will come from the butt that is already plumbed on to the roof of the cabin; washing up liquid will be either homemade, or some concoction of saponaria that grows in abundance around the cabin.
Life is interesting, no?

A gentle plea for chaos

I never forgot the title of this book, written by Mirabel Osler, its subtitle being 'reflections from an English garden'. In it, the author makes a plea to leave as much of your garden as natural as possible for the wildlife and nature in general.
My garden is big, blowsy, unruly and fecund; that's the way I like it. Most people love it here, but there are some who criticise and can't see past the so-called weeds, the untrammelled and untrained, the seed heads and stalks left, the wild plants that are so useful in many ways both to me and the creatures tha visit and live in my garden.
For me, a garden is a very, very personal statement of yourself - when you garden, you put your very heart and soul into it, or you should, but there are some people for whom this can never be the case because of the type of people they are - cold, soul-less, joyless, possessing a nasty, sneering, jealous, snide side to them. These peoples' gardens will never bring them happiness and contentment, and neither will their lives. You need a good soul to be a gardener.
I garden like I try to live my life - according to my own morals and ethics - take what I need and no more, leave plenty for others, share what I have and give thanks for the blessings bestowed upon me for living like I do.
These blessings manifested themselves over the weekend in the form of various creatures visiting the garden and showing themselves. We've always had toads, but being so secretive, we rarely see them. This one appeared in one of the vegetable beds;  I popped him in a bucket for just a couple of minutes so the children could get a close look at him. He hopped away quite happily afterwards. Have you ever looked at a toad's eyes - they are truly beautiful :)
A visitor I had never seen before appeared in the late morning sunshine. At first I thought it was a hornet, but couldn't get close enough to be sure.I stood still while it flitted around, but it soon became clear it had two wets of wings, so was some sort of dragonfly, but like none I'd seen before. I managed to turn it up  on the net, finding it to be a broad-bodied chaser, a female one. She was darting about for a good ten minutes or so, seeming particularly attracted to the redcurrant bush - perhaps the scent given off in the warm sunshine?
A Friday night visitor knocking at the kitchen window turned out to be a maybug - lovely little things, but a bit scary until you know what they are. I particularly enjoyed seeing him, as it's the first one I've encountered since we moved here almost 14 years ago; we had lots of them when we lived further south east in the county.
We have what can only be described as an abundance of wildlife here - birds of all sorts, including sparrowhawks and woodpeckers, pheasants and wild ducks on occasion, flying and crawling insects, dragonflies, butterflies galore, newts and toads, the very occasional frog and slow worm, all sorts.
My point really is that I'm fairly certain that I would only see a tiny fraction of these were my garden to be neatly manicured, cut back, trimmed and 'tidied' to within an inch of its poor life if I tried  to emulate what most people's idea of a country or cottage garden is like, as seen  in the glossy magazines and usually very poorly copied and executed by people who rarely or never read a decent gardening book. There is more to gardening than planting named roses,  having your carrots in a straight row and leaving bare soil between plants because it's 'tidy', buying plants because they are the 'in' thing this season, or trying to nurture any growing thing when your soil is lifeless and uncared for.
Bit like life really, get the foundations right and the rest will follow.
So, my own plea is to put your own heart and soul into your garden - never mind what others are doing and thinking, and keep a mind for the creatures other than human that we share the planet with.

To quote Voltaire: ' - il faut cultiver notre jardin'