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Monday, 20 August 2018

How do you solve a problem?

Poppy patchwork has recently written about Overshoot day and it got me thinking about the time I worked for a Coach builder who made  mobile hospitality units, mobile operating theatres and mobile TV recording units. The hospitality units were mainly for the Formula One teams, Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes. (Overshoot day, previously known as Ecological Debt Day, is the calculated illustrative calendar date on which humanity’s resource consumption for the year exceeds Earth’s capacity to regenerate those resources that year). 

The F1 sport is worth hundreds of millions of pounds and sources it's money from company sponsorships. The red colour Ferrari used on their vehicles was called Marlborough red after the tobacco company that sponsored it. The logos were dropped when tobacco  sponsorship was banned. The hospitality units are worth millions and are kitted out with all sorts of technology and equipment. In a bid to show they were eco friendly in a sport that uses resources like water they started kitting the kitchens out with worktops made from recycled yoghurt pots and flooring made from tyres.  Now that was back in the 90's and we don't seem to have moved on much since then. Have you seen the YouTube video regarding Plastic Roads...…..its quite something. Look it up. 

I remember seeing those worktops and thinking this is the future, this is recycling at its best. But the idea hasn't been  taken up mainstream, you can buy it but it's a bespoke process. If it was available in our local hardware stores perhaps more people would choose it.   The rubber flooring was ideal for hard-wearing areas and has since been adapted for play areas in parks. One use plastics are  one of the main recycling problems today. My local authority will only take plastic bottles and cans, no yoghurt pots, spread tubs, meat/ fruit trays or wrappers. Should we have glass yoghurt pots, should buttery spread be purchased frozen in a block wrapped in paper and you drop in into a container when you get home? Have you seen the YouTube video about making roads out of plastic? Google 'Can plastic Roads Help Save the Planet?' Its a BBC short vide but it makes excellent viewing. 

How do we solve this  huge problem?  How would you solve it, any ideas?  Bye for now. Tx

Monday, 13 August 2018

What a Whopper

Hubby has a fig tree in the garden that he has grown from a cutting from our much larger tree in the previous property.  It is approximately 6 years old and producers a reasonable amount of fruit.  The last few evenings he has been sneaking into the garden and on his return he has been remarking 'not quite but almost' referring to a fig he has had his beady eye on.  Well last night was the night he brought in said fig and insisted it was measured! Three inches of beautiful sweet flesh...delicious. I hope the rest taste as good, at least the steady rain we had on Thursday looks like it's done them  some good. The lower temperatures were a bit of a shock I have to say. And at one point I thought autumn had arrived. 

My budget is over my £80 target that I'd hoped for but still under £100.  With all the extra vegetables in the freezer I hope to reduce next months bill to £75. I did an extra shop at Morrisons as they offered me an extra 2000 points if  spent £20, this meant I would get a £5 voucher. I'm not normally drawn into this sort of thing but  there were things we needed, so it was a win, win situation. This will be used next month along with the Tesco £8 of £40 coupon, so that £13 worth of free produce.  

After picking an processing lots of stuff from the garden it will be a while before the next lot of beetroot is ready, but it will keep the budget low.   I'll be drying out the courgettes from now on as they take up far less room.  The last of the potatoes will be dug up and there is 6 cabbages to eat as well as all the salad  stuff in the greenhouse.  We won't go short.  I have a lamb joint in the freezer this will be cooked up next weekend and made into various dishes...hotpot and cabbage …..lovely! 

My friend has just told me Morrisons are doing Free bags of wonky veg at the front of their stores.  She brought me a bag, not bad for free. Two carrots and two potatoes. Its better than being ploughed back into the earth due to the 'Supermarket's' exacting standards! 

Have you spotted this in a Morrisons near you? 

I had my blood donor session last week and was chatting away to the nurse as she put the needle in my arm. I am a fast donor, my pint fills in no time at all. So I asked if the hot whether had caused blood others to donate far quicker as the hot weather had thinned our blood.  She said it had resulted in far quicker donations and as they were 3 staff members down they were running themselves ragged. Bye for now. Tx

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Busy Preserving

As you know we are in the process of moving.  I heard from our solicitor earlier this week and she said all our searches were back and there was nothing to report, so good news basically.  She is waiting for some paperwork to be returned by the people we are buying from and then we should be at draft contract stage if not further.  Unfortunately we have a holiday booked at a crucial time  but what will be will be. 

Hubby and I went through the garden and anything that could be pulled up and preserved in any way we did.  I'm trying to use up as much as possible or prep ready to be used with meals. The beetroot was boiled, some was pickled and some served with dinner.
 The carrots simply washed and rubbed with a scourer sliced, blanched and placed in the freezer, along with the dwarf beans and runner beans. 

The 3 large cucumbers were turned into sweet cucumber relish which is absolutely delicious with barbeque food like burgers and sausages. Its not bad with a good mature cheddar in a sandwich too. I made more chilli jam as the whole family love it.  This batch was made extra hot ready for presents for  my sister and brother who prefer it that way. 

The fruit leather made from plum mash was taken out of the solar dryer and rolled then cut into strips. Kellogg's do a modern version called fruit winders but mine contain no preservatives and far less sugar. I'm hoping to do some pear leather in a few weeks time as our neighbours pears that are overhanging our garden are huge. They don't eat them and let us have them.   We have lost a lot of our own pears due to the heat.  

I'd picked 3 large courgettes and to be honest I have more than enough in the freezer, so I used my julienne slicer to cut it finely and placed it in the dryer which I've never done before.  

It dried beautifully and takes up no room at all, I've double bagged it and I'll put it soups and stews throughout the winter. I'll definitely be doing this again. 

I picked all the kale as I thought if I left it much longer the cabbage white pests would get it. This was washed and shredded, bagged up and placed in the freezer.

The most satisfying thing about growing your own vegetables is when you look down at your dinner plate and realise its only the halloumi and turkey that have been bought.  The beetroot, potatoes, cucumber tomatoes and green beans are from your garden and they taste wonderful.  Even the chilli jam accompaniment is home made from home grown tomatoes. 

Despite moving to a much smaller garden I will be using every inch I can to continue growing my own.  I'm looking forward to adopting some vertical garden techniques.  I've been practising with the butternut squash in the greenhouse. I do love a challenge.  Have you ever tried vertical gardening? Do you have a small garden but grow lots of your own produce? I'd love to hear your tips and advice. Bye for now. Tx 

Monday, 6 August 2018

Weekly Roundup

Where does the time go to? I seem to be dashing around all over the place at the moment.  I had the grandchildren three days last week and we spent some of the time on the beach which was far cooler than the garden or house.  Hubby dug out the crabbing pots and we took some old fish from the freezer for bait.  Seventeen crabs was the record set by the younger grandsons. None however big enough to eat. Both boys are desperate to catch one large enough to be cooked and eaten.

I spent Saturday pickling more beetroot as despite the rain they weren't going to get any larger.  The tomatoes are ripening very quickly  so I made some chilli jam. As you can see in the photo there's another punnet picked and ready to be eaten or made into something tasty.  I finally got around to labelling the blackberry jam I made a week ago.

Today is meant to be last hot day before things become more  changeable. Rain is forecast on Thursday/Friday morning. I've managed to water the garden with rain  water out of the  butt instead of the hose this week thanks to last weekends rain.

The freezer is getting low and during my last rummage I found a tub of plum mix that I made at the end of last year. Basically its plums pulped in the nutribullit with a little sugar, then cooked for 10 minutes. I've defrosted it and placed it on two baking trays in the solar dehydrater. By tomorrow evening I should have plum fruit leather which is delicious and nutritious. Photos to follow. 
 What have you been up to? Are you managing to stay cool? Bye for now. Tx

Monday, 30 July 2018

Monthly Roundup

I've been so caught up with the weather that I forgot to mention last months budget.  My energy bills are running at £32 for gas and electric £5 lower than last month. The month ends on the 21st as I receive my pension on the 22nd and I was 46p over budget with the total spend at £100.46. I even managed to claw back the £10.18 overspend from last month.  The fact that I'm moving(fingers crossed) is making it easier because I am emptying the freezer and cupboards, we are predominantly living on what is in the house or garden. However, I didn't realise how much of an addict I must be to stock piling! I open my freezer now and there is space and it makes me feel anxious! Crazy I know but the same with the cupboards. I love seeing those cupboards full. Its not helped when like me you've been reading about the 'No Deal Brexit Food shortages'. Do you believe it?

The garden is producing lots of goodies at the moment. We have a good portion of runner beans and dwarf green beans almost every day. As well as tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, lettuce, cucumbers, beetroot and kale.  I pulled some of the beetroot up to cook and bottle.  They aren't even half the size of the beet from last year but it all helps keep the budget low.  Today I have taken out two packs of cooked chicken in stock from the freezer. This will be served with carrots, beans, kale and potatoes from the garden tomorrow.  I have a couple of home made stew packs in the freezer and one will go in the slow cooker soon with a stock cube and seasoning.  The cooked chicken and additional stock will be added at the last stage and this will be our meal tonight will veg from the garden.  I'm hoping I can  repack everything into the fridge freezer and turn off the chest freezer by the end of August. 

Our buyers requested a  visit to our house with a builder the other evening.  We had no idea why, it turns out their survey said there were cracks to the garage wall.  So outside went the builder, buyer and hubby to look for said cracks but no one could find them.  Hubby pointed to a small piece of mortar that was missing from the side of the lintel over the window which required repointing but that was all.  They left confused but happy that no costly work was required.  Our buyer did say it wouldn't have put him off the house and that he can't wait to move in. He also confirmed the first time buyers buying his place have had their mortgage agreed since the survey took place. 

We will make a start on clearing various areas around the house and garden this week.  Hubby is going to bring home some boxes from work and we can start putting things away. I'm not sure if I'm jumping the gun, but there are lots of things we wont be taking with us.  I've sold a couple on the Facebook page and the money has gone into the food budget instead of me drawing it out of the bank. 

The kitchen in our purchase is 18 years old and it will be ripped out which means cooking will be complicated. There is an old stand alone electric cooker there so it will get used for the time being.  Hubby has agreed that we will spend a morning batch cooking each week so we have meals prepped for the week ahead.  I don't want to be living on takeaways or revert back to unhealthy eating just because we are renovating a property. It will also keep our budget in check. Back soon. Tx

PS. We had rain and hail Friday evening. Rain and high winds  most of Saturday and most of  yesterday. Its rained steadily this morning so far but the wind has died down and it is warmer. The plants have taken a bashing but they have enjoyed the rain as much as I have.  I understand the Heatwave will return very soon!

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Quick Post

I lost my mum in 1993 at the age of 68 when  she had a heart attack in her sleep and died.  My mum was an Anglo-Indian and was born in a place called Jhansi to a second generation Anglo-Indian mother and Indian father. My father met her during the second world war when he was stationed out there and they married shortly after. My brother was born in India in 1944. They arrived back in the UK in 1947 on a troop ship, sent to round up the forces left in the far East. Plus India became independent in 1947. 

My mum hated the hot weather which was always a mystery to me as India has a hot climate! She would moan and groan if it stayed hot for too long. 1976 being a particularly tough year for her!  As a child she taught me lots of nursery rhyms in Hindi and I still remember some to this day.  She would tell me tales about the Monsoons arriving and the locals running out into the streets to bathe themselves in the cool rain.  
For the first time in my life I can understand why she enjoyed the start of the Monsoons.  I think if we do get rain on Friday I will be outside rejoicing and offering up a little prayer to her. 

Bye for now. Tx 

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

It's there again.....look!

It is there, I've managed to get a screen shot this time off my phone to prove we may get rain. Woohoo! I know neither day is a 100% chance but I'm ever hopeful.  I never thought I'd say it but it's too darn hot.

With 4 grandchildren to  feed, water and keep happy it's hard work.  At least yesterday there was a bit of a breeze and the paddling pool kept them amused for a few hours. But then the breeze dropped and it just  got too hot.
I'm collecting beans, runner and dwarf every other day.  The toms have gone crazy so I think I'm going to have to do some sun dried ones.  Now I've said that the weather will change!😊

I was reading an article on line about ''water starved lawns' . Apparently the lawn goes into a form of hibernation due to the stress as a result of the heat but it will come back.  So mine will remain a lovely shade of hay until the end of summer.

I feel for the people in Greece, the fires spread so quickly and killed so many.  My friends train was cancelled due to a fire at the side of the track the other day.  She can normally do door to door in 5 hours but this  journey took 10 and she ended up sharing a taxi with strangers just to get the last 30 miles home.  Two homes have been set on fire as a result of an ornament acting like a magnifying glass and setting fire to furniture.

Which reminds you remember the crystal ball type ornaments from the 60's. Glass balls filled with water and a plastic flower?  Well one of them set fire to our coffee table back then so I've always been vigilant since. It's taken me ages to find a photo but I managed.  No wonder they are rare they were fire hazards.  Stay safe, bye for now. Tx.