This blog is mainly a rambling kind of diary of the transition from smallholderwannabe to smallholder.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


This weekend we have had my daughter's wedding. Very exciting! My daughter wore a lovely dress and a shrug that she had made herself (the shrug, that is - she bought the dress). It is based on a Shetland lace pattern and was the first garment she has ever knitted - and in mohair too. She is like me and feels the cold so she wanted something special to wear that would help her cope if it was not a warm day. And she and I each made one for the bridesmaids to wear. I don't think I have ever had more trouble with a garment and it was ripped out several times so that I could start again. I did the casting off three times and ended up using needles for the casting off that were six sizes bigger than the ones used for the rest of the garment. They did look lovely, though, when they were finished. And it wasn't just me as my daughter had problems too : )

The girls had little white dresses with filmy skirts, white tights, white sandals with butterflies on them and silver headbands with butterflies and the blue mohair shrugs. They looked really lovely. They carried little posies attached to what looked like magic wands and they felt really special.

My daughter looked lovely and very happy. She had a beautiful dress which looked great with the shrug. It was not a particularly warm day so the shrug was definitely a good idea. Her husband looked a bit nervous as he is not used to being the centre of attention. But everything went off really well. Everybody has agreed to share all the photos so that my daughter and her husband will be able to make an album of all the best ones. I'm looking forward to seeing all the photos : )


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

April has been a busy month

Yes, April has been a busy month but my life seems fairly busy this year. I can feel the pace picking up and I'm not sure whether or not I am happy about that.

We went to Cambridge for three days and I pottered around while my husband had business meetings. I enjoyed that! We had a big family get-together for our eldest's special birthday celebration. We went to the Think Tank in Birmingham (the children really enjoyed that) and then back to my son's house and we all had a Chinese meal. The people who ran our local Chinese takeaway are friends of ours and they did us a fantastic meal. My daughter was really pleased with it and delighted when our friends sent her a bottle of champagne with the meal. How nice was that! They were retiring the following week and they knew it would be the last meal that they cooked for us so they wanted to make it extra special for her.

Easter week was filled with church things and I think I must have sung every Easter hymn and song in our music books... It was a good Easter.

We are in the countdown to our daughter's wedding as it is just three weeks away now. Exciting times! I've been out today and bought some shoes to wear with my outfit. However, coming home with them and seeing them next to the outfit, I am not so sure about the colour as I was in the shop. A rethink is needed there, methinks. And then there is the question of a bag. Hmm.

I'm am still souping every week for our church coffee shop. I did have a week off for Easter, though. I do find it funny that I am making soup for a coffee shop. It just doesn't seem right, somehow. I made pea and mint before Easter which people seem to have either loved or hated. It is good to have feedback but now I'm not sure whether to make it again.

I've had a mini clearout of a corner that has not been tidied for a very long time. So that means eight things have gone in the bin, two things are being dithered over, three bags of stuff have gone to a new home and a bag is sitting in the hall, waiting to go to a charity shop. I've got my eye on another corner to tidy and sort through so I'm hoping that the bag in the hall might well become two or even three.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

End of March already

I've been busy making lots of soup for the church coffee shop, acquiring wood for the woodburner for next winter, looking after grandchildren, visiting friends, knitting little chicks that will contain Cadbury's cream eggs for Easter, knitting little jumpers for "fish and chip" babies in Africa....  and there might have been a little bit of washing and cleaning and looking after animals as well.

I'm running out of ideas for different soups to ring the changes at the church coffee shop. So far I have made tomato, carrot and lentil three times, leek and potato, carrot and coriander, parsnip and ginger, tomato and basil, broccoli and stilton, vegetable (tomato based). I make two to three gallons each time and it gets divided up into boxes and frozen to provide a variety of flavours. It must be vegetarian and not too expensive to make (so I won't be making any asparagus soup even though I love it). If anybody has any bright ideas, then please do tell me. Thank you : )

We are giving little chicks with crème eggs to the children associated with the church during the Easter week. We need around 200 and I have produced 50ish. I've lost count at the moment. The knitting is very straightforward but then they need sewn up, a ball of polyester stuffing put in the head, a gathering thread run round the neck and fastened off to provide the shaping for the head, eyes glued on, a felt beak cut out and stitched on, a flat bow made and stitched on. The finishing takes as long as the knitting does! I am feeling that I am all chicked out now.

We have managed to acquire various bits of wood to squirrel away for next winter. Some of it came from a couple of skips near where we live and some is from a medium size tree that was taken down in my son's garden. It was old and leaning badly and looked like a gale would bring it down anyway. It is amazing how much bigger their garden looks without it. Had it been in good condition, we would not have taken it down but we have not only prevented a lot of fencing being broken (at the very least) but we have also got more wood for next winter. Considering that this winter was fairly mild, I am amazed at how much wood we have got through and so I am happy at having more for next winter.

The hens are laying very well at the moment. Old Hen died yesterday. I shall miss her because she was one of my "characters". She was just a little brown hybrid hen but she was over seven years old. I was chatting to her on Monday afternoon and she looked so old that I knew that I would not have her for much longer . I have another hen that is seven years old but she is a buff Orpington and they are usually longer lived. I've never had a little brown hen older than five years before.

I had a lovely mothers' day. I hope you did too. My son turned up at our church with his family. It was meant to be a surprise so I didn't let on that grandson had let the cat out of the bag during the week when he was talking to me. When the two year old spotted me at the front of church, she ran as fast as her little legs would let her and gave me a big hug and said "Happy mothers' day". Then she went to Grandad and wished him the same : )   In the afternoon, the girls came to call with their families and then my son popped in again too. One daughter had baked me a loaf of bread with sundried tomatoes and parmesan and it was lovely. I do like presents that people have made rather than just going to the shops.

I've been pleased with my perseverance at clearing things out. I do really find it very hard to part with things especially if there is a chance that they might come in useful in the future. A little bit of clearing out leaves me feeling quite stressed. My husband tells me not to be so daft but I don't find that very helpful as a coping strategy...  My total has risen quite a lot now so I am only a little bit behind my target.

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Monday, March 06, 2017

Books and soup

I've been making soup for our church coffee shop again today. I got leeks on offer in Aldi so today I made leek and potato soup. Three gallons of it. I was glad to sit down afterwards!

I've been sorting through another pile of our belongings so there is quite a pile waiting To Go. I've also put a number of things in the bin as they were not in good enough condition to pass on. I haven't made it to the charity shop yet but I'm hoping to get there soon because I'm tired of tripping over a growing mountain of carrier bags.

I'm recently joined Bookbub. They send a daily email of Kindle and Kobo e-books which are either cheap or, more interestingly, free. I've "bought" several of the free books and have finally read a couple of books on my tablet. I reckoned that if I decide that I don't like them, then I haven't wasted anything because the books were free in the first place. I don't think they will ever replace the comfortable feeling of reading a proper book, though.

I've been having trouble with the wires to charge my tablet. My husband sat down on my tablet by accident and bent the wire that came with the tablet - just at the connection into the tablet - so that stopped working. I bought a new one from Amazon and within a month, that stopped working as the connection was so loose that it would not stay connected. So I bought a much more expensive one and that has stopped working this weekend... That one came with a lifetime guarantee so I am waiting for them to get back to me on that one. Fortunately I bought a pair of wires last time so I can still charge my tablet or else I would have to wait a long time to find out whodunnit in my Bookbub bargain : )

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Wednesday, March 01, 2017

March musings

Well, March already now.  I've been trying to keep up with the decluttering and am going on alright. I've got a nice little pile waiting to go to the charity shop and another pile waiting to go to a contact who works in a homeless shelter.

And we've been given a tree that was blown down in the storm last week. We've given half to my friend down the road who also has a woodburner. It is ash so it will burn well next winter : )
We've got through a lot of wood this winter so it is lovely to have a bit extra arrive.  We've got plenty for next winter because of the wood we were given last year which was not dry enough to burn this year but will be great next year. There are lots of skips appearing in the streets so I need to keep a look out for any useful bits of wood in them. I would rather that I got it to burn than it go to landfill!

I was reading an article today that was flagged up by the Real Junk Food Project about bread being the number one food item that is thrown away today. They are saying that a recent study by The University of Sheffield shows that the fertiliser used to grow the grains produces 43% of all greeenhouse gas emissions! This is a link to the article on Facebook:

The hens are doing well and it is obvious that spring is on its way because the hens have started their spring mega-laying. At the end of January and early February they were hardly laying any and now they are laying loads. Even my oldest hen has laid four eggs in the last ten days. The middle aged ones haven't laid any and probably won't. they are your typical little brown hen and for them, middle age is the end of laying. My oldest is a Buff Orpington, a really big breed of hen, and they lay a lot fewer eggs each year but keep going for more years. She is my favourite and every time I set foot out of the back door, she hears and shouts to me to bring her a treat. It might only be a green leaf but she is happy with something extra. And she really shouts at me and tells me off if I don't arrive with the requested treat too : )  It never fails to make me smile.

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Saturday, February 18, 2017


In 2015 I decided that I would lose 1000 things from the house. Well, I managed to part with just over 700 items. So I failed to reach my goal but there was a tiny bit more space in the house so I won as well because creating more space was my real aim. In 2016 I went for the same goal but failed miserable because I cleared just 365 items from the house. That is still one item per day but it falls far short of the 1000 I was hoping for. I had, of course parted with all the easily-partable-with things the previous year. This year I want to continue but I am going for a goal of 500 items. If I make it (and I am going to try really hard) then there will be 1500ish items gone from the house. Surely that will make a difference to the clutteredness in the house.

I am not good at parting with things, especially if there is any sentimental value at all but I must try harder. I know that when we are gone, my clutterfree daughters will get a big skip and everything will just go in it. I'd like to have a bit of a say in where things go.

My other aim last year was to write a post on average once a week so that I would have a diary record of happenings in my life for me to look back on. I managed 41 posts rather than 52 so I feel that I didn't fail as badly as at decluttering. It is my aim to post 50 times in 2017 too. I forget things so easily and it would be good to have a reminder. I remember the big things but it is the little details that don't stick - the ones that make me smile at the memory. Like parking in the church carpark earlier this week and hearing a little voice shouting " Ganny, Ganny". I hadn't realised that she would be at the church nursery school that day so it was a real treat seeing her at the nursery gates jumping up and down and waving and shouting to me. She is two and a half and not good at saying a 'gr' sound yet. I can't tell you how pleased I was to have such a welcome! And this is just the sort of thing that brings a smile but slips out of my memory so quickly.

I've taken a pile of carrier bags full of clothes to a charity last week so I'm pleased that I've got a total of items gone to put at the end of my post : )

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017


2017 seems to be whizzing past. We had a lovely family Christmas but it feels like months ago not just a few weeks.  We've been doing lots of things in the last month: acquiring wood, cutting up wood, finding yellow stickered things to share with my friend and my son and his family, sharing yellow stickered goodies that my friend found, cooking, knitting, making soup for the church coffee shop (a new activity for 2017), going for a trip out and buying hen food whilst out, and lots else. Hen food is cheapest for average quality at a countrywide store, I have found, but there are no stores near where we live. If we are travelling out of our area and passing nearish to one of these stores, we call in. Currently they are selling three bags for £18 and closer to home, we are paying £8.75 for the same size sack.

I did have one evening recently when I was cooking and suddenly there was an almighty crash and the microwave turntable shattered into hundreds of pieces. Didn't half make me jump! Fortunately the food was in a covered dish so no glass got into our dinner. We've only had the oven since May and it is still under warranty so we phoned up Tesco where we had bought it and eventually they agreed to refund or replace. I only wanted a new turntable but they thought that it must be faulty. The problem was that I had bought it in the last session Tesco had of doubling up the clubcard vouchers. They couldn't give me back the full number of vouchers and they couldn't refund the full price. They could not replace it because they don't stock any similar combination oven/microwaves (maybe they have had lots with faults.....?) but they eventually came up with a solution that was a happy outcome for us. Yesterday we collected our new one (from a different shop and a different model too) and I look forward to learning how to cook with that one.

And we have been out this afternoon to collect some nice silver birch branches from a friend who has had a tree pruned. Silver birch burns really nicely when the wood has dried out nicely. Those branches will get used next winter.

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