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

Monday, July 22, 2013


Blogger has been infiltrated by some spammer.  My reading list of blogs has pages and pages of posts by liness at allen - all about some DVDs.  There are so many of these posts that it took several minutes of going down the list of posts until I found one that was supposed to be on my list.  I can't see how to delete them, either.

Have you found these spam posts too?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Charcoal Challenge

Grrr.  I was too slow.  They are now oversubscribed and don't need anybody else to take part.  I was going to persuade my son to allow his garden to be used as I am cutting our "lawn" (very loose term used there...) for hay at the moment. Anyway, he has borrowed our bbq so it seemed reasonable to me to hold the bbq there.  It is a bit like the way he "borrowed" our lawn mower a couple of years back...  I thought it would be a great way to celebrate the beginning of the holidays as most of our family work in education. I'd had lots of ideas but by the time I got everybody organised,  it is now too late to enter.  Ah well.  Next time I'll be quicker off the mark.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Well, I've just discovered that I still can't post at school in Internet Explorer but I can when using Chrome.  And I can still post at home in Internet Explorer.

How very curious.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

More food processing and Some News

Woo hoo I can post again.  I don't know whether the fault lies with blogger or with the school network but I've tried to post several times and it (whatever "it" is) won't let me.

I've made 8 jars of strawberry jam, about half a gallon of elderflower cordial and 8 jars of bottled pasta sauce.  I have lots of onions because Asda have 10Kg sacks for £3 at the moment so I'd like to make some more onion marmalade but I don't have to rush into that.  Hopefully the onions won't start sprouting on me and this can wait until the school holidays.

And now for the Real News.  We had a barn dance at church tonight.  We had some young Americans working with us for the last 3 years and they are going home next week so we had a barn dance to say farewell.  My son and his family were there too and we were sitting beside them when my granddaughter got to her feet and walked from mummy to daddy.  It is a wonderful thing to watch a child take its first unaided steps and I am going to treasure that memory.  We've had her walking from one of us to another all evening.  Needless to say, she really enjoyed all the attention and we all enjoyed giving it : )

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Thursday, July 04, 2013

Food Processing

I've been working my way through the food that we bought im order to save it for later.  The tomatoes were beautifully firm so they've been saved until last.  The cherry size ones were split and dried in the oven.  The idea was that I would store them in oil but I didn't realise quite how much they shrank.  The jar for storing them would have to be a really small jar.  They do taste good, though.

One of the reduced things I got was strawberries.  I don't think I included these.  We don't have enough on our strawberry patch to think of jam this year.  Maybe next year...? So some reduced boxes were a good find and I made 6 lbs of jam.  I've made 1 &1/4 lbs of butter with 1/2 a pint of buttermilk in the fridge waiting to be made into scones. The elderflower cordial has been made but I couldn't spot the glass bottles last night so it will have to be bottled tonight.

Just think - homemade scones with homemade butter and homemade strawberry jam washed down with homemade elderflower cordial : )

My husband wouldn't thank you for the cordial - he will want his usual cuppa.

Not long to go until we get to the summer holidays but I'm too tired to get excited and there is too much to do before then too.

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Monday, July 01, 2013

Bargain Hunting

This weekend I went bargain hunting.  I'd spotted on MSE that there was a voucher for £5 off a spend of £40 in Aldi or more in last Thursday's Daily Mirror so I'd requested that Grandad and Granddaughter went and bought me a copy after taking Grandson to nursery school.  So we called in to Aldi on Saturday and stocked up on some things for us and lots of fairly traded coffee for church. There were also some coupons for other things in Aldi too.  I've not seen coupons for Aldi before and I actually used 2 of them. Then yesterday afternoon we went to buy more hen food and rabbit food at the feed merchant and carried on to the big Tesco.  I don't normally go to the big Tesco because of the cost of getting there but it is not far from the feed merchant. We were low in petrol and if you spend over £50, then you get a voucher for 5p per litre off petrol and our tank was nearly empty.  On Wednesday, we'd been and put £10 worth in the car at the local filling station to get us through to Sunday...  And nice Mr Tesco had sent us a voucher for £5 off a spend of £40 or more as well as several other vouchers, some of which I actually spent.  So often these vouchers for extra points or money off are for things that I wouldn't normally buy.

I had a couple of things to buy for my son as we were going to the shop and it saved him a trip and this helped bump up the total.  Without buying coffee for church or school, I find it extremely difficult to buy enough for a £40 or £50 spend for just the two of us.  Anyway, I managed to get to the right totals for both Aldi and Tesco (and will be repaid about half by school and church) and we filled the car right up with fuel at a discount.  And (cue lots of smiley faces) we were at Tesco when they did the final reductions and we managed to get several little pasties (with a "100% British beef" sticker prominently on the front...) for the princely sum of 6p each, 2 x 500g packs of "best" turkey mince for 68p each, a 4 portion pie for 68p, 4 x medium tubs of double cream for 13p each and some fish for my friend at 30p (my husband doesn't like smoked fish and my friend loves it).  They also had 2 blocks of Anchor butter on offer at £2 and Tesco had kindly sent me a coupon for 40p off one block of butter.  I shall make a little bit of butter with the cream apart from a little bit to go with the next strawberries, but that butter will be saved in the freezer for treats in the school holidays.

They had also sent a voucher for 25 extra points if I spent £1 on home baking supplies. I had thought that this was a really useful voucher but it quickly became a problem for me.  I had intended to buy a pack of sultanas and a bag of flour.  However, the flour is 20p a bag more than charged in Lidl and the sultanas are a few pence more than in Aldi.  I was wondering what to do when I spotted a tray of mincemeat on the bottom shelf........ at 20p per jar and dated for 2015.  It was sat right next to a tray of Tesco Finest mincemeat at £1.96 per jar for the same size.  So I now have enough mincemeat to see me through Christmas 2013 AND Christmas 2014.

And when we went to pay for the fuel for the car, they had reduced the 2 pint size of milk to 20p.  So we came home with a bag of things for my friend, a bag of things for my daughter and a bag of things for my son as well as the things he had requested.  It never hurts to spread a little joy in somebody else's life : )

We decided to come the long way home rather than straight up the main roads and I spotted some elderflowers on one of the little lanes as we drove by.  So I now have elderflower cordial steeping, ready to finish off tonight. Tesco had some strawberries at a knockdown price so I've got some jam to make as well as finishing the cordial.  I'll be busy tonight : )

I don't often manage to get such good bargains but I was so pleased.  It really makes a difference to the budget when you can knock £££ off the shopping and the saving continues as most things are now in the freezer.  I would prefer to make everything from scratch all the time but sometimes (because such great bargains are a rare event) it is good to smile and just be grateful for the savings.

For dinner last night, we had homemade turkey burgers with home grown salad.  One pack of the turkey mince and some onion (homegrown), herbs and breadcrumbs mixed with an egg turned into 6 quarterpounders with the remaining 4 now tucked away in the freezer. So we started eating this lot of shopping with a pretty good meal from scratch.  I've also got a big bag of tomatoes from the market (for £1) that my daughter brought me and I want to get them turned into pasta sauce. There are several recipes in blogland for that which are bottled for use in the winter.

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