Saturday 31 December 2022

Review Of My 2022!

This post is a quick look back at the year. I'm sure I've missed loads, but I just went back and looked at a few of the pictures and my thoughts on a few key subjects. 

Children And Family

I mean if you read this blog it should be fairly obvious that I try to put the family first (hopefully it is). They all seem to be growing up so fast, but I'm so happy I get to spend so much time with them and I love the people they've become. 

They all have such strong personalities, get on well and don't fight very often. I try to teach them that they're a pack and need to look out for each other and they make me proud in that respect. 

Friday 30 December 2022

My Christmas Presents!

I know it's very crass to talk about what gifts you got, but I thought I'd share how perfect some of these were!  

Lots of seeds and lots for microgreens which I can grow now! 

Wednesday 28 December 2022

Christmas 2022!

 We had a great Christmas and hope you all did as well! 

A few busy days but we managed to have a nice quiet one today, reading, playing games, making crafts, watching TV. Just what was needed! 

Saturday 24 December 2022

T'was The Night Before Christmas...

The stockings are hung by the fire, the children have had "The Night Before Christmas" read to them snuggled up together and are now tucked up in bed. 

Tonight we went round to our friends for a walk round the village (the village decorate 24 houses with numbers for advent in their windows) and then we had fish and chips for tea. A nice easy tradition we have fallen into for Christmas eve! 

Excitement levels weren't too bad tonight, but they were very keen to get to bed! 

Merry Christmas everyone! Hope you have a good one!

Friday 23 December 2022

This Months Magazine Articles

Having all three magazines I write for land not too far apart is always nice. Reminds me of some projects I did a while ago.  

This months magazine articles projects made and written by myself are -
@woodworkingcrafts 78 - Small router table
@woodcarvingmagazine 191 - Larping chest/Bible box
@woodturning__magazine 377 - Christmas baubles

There is also another woodturning article for the magazine that came out in the month that woodworking crafts and woodcarving have off (they're every two months)

Thursday 22 December 2022

Making A Special Visit...

I got a email the other day from the children's old nursery.  It's been a few years since the youngest left, but we were always close with them (and tried to help when I could). The email was asking for the help of a man, a rather large man with a white beard...

After I got over the fact that I was potentially big and old enough to fill his shoes, I agreed! 

It was only a quick visit, long enough to sit down in nursery and give out some presents. A lovely moment though. I came back afterwards into the nursery, without the costume, and had a good catch up with them all as well as they tidied away after their Christmas party. It was always such a good nursery which put play and happiness first rather than making it a mini school (the reason we liked it). Part of me really misses the kids being that age, shame my wife won't let me have any more! 

Anyone else dressed as the "big man" lately?

Tuesday 20 December 2022

Firewood Gives You Freedom - Cooking & Heating

With the cold snap gone it's worth evaluating what went well and what didn't. 

I like to also think what would happen if the power got switched off and water pipes froze? Remember that help often takes a long time to come from some service providers (they've been "fixing" a leaking gas main down our road for over a year now...). Maybe would be left without heat, as it is many are worried about the cost of their heating and having it on less as a result. 

When I put in our wood fired range it did feel like a bit of an extravagance. It was a lot of money at the time and created a huge amount of work with the fireplace alterations. 

Saturday 17 December 2022

Last Chance To Order For Christmas (hopefully)

So, Christmas is fast approaching, so time for my last bit of shameless self promotion!

When you're a small maker/producer, the increased buying around Christmas makes a huge difference to over all yearly sales. 

Obviously this year has been harder due to postal strikes, but I've been using the same courier my dad uses, who has a regular pick-up slot booked every day, and they're still saying stuff will get there for Christmas. 

Friday 16 December 2022

Cold Snap

Today I realised just how much of a frost pocket/dip we live in. I drove to the local town, just 4 miles away, over the hill, for a swim and it was 7 degrees above (44 Fahrenheit) when I left the pool at 10 at night. 

As I drove over the hill I could watch the temperature plummet as I got nearer home, until It reached -5 degrees C in out driveway (23 Fahrenheit). 

And then on our land we have areas that are even colder.  Doing the water for the chickens this morning it was actually painful on my fingers by the time I'd done the rounds. 

It's interesting seeing which bits still have snow on the ground and which bits are untouched by the sun, it clearly shows our micro climates and it's probably information I should do more with! 

Both fires are burning away inside though, so we're toasty warm, while I sit and plan out next years (or they year afters) firewood. 

Who else lives in a frost pocket?

Wednesday 14 December 2022

Old Fashioned Toolboxes For Sale

It's been a couple of years since I've had these in stock, but I was really keen to make and sell them again and manged to get a batch done in time for Christmas (just).

I think a "classic" wooden tool box takes some beating. They look great in a potting shed or greenhouse, handy enough to hold what you need. In fact they're cheap enough to have multiples with different tasks separated up into different toolboxes. 

Monday 12 December 2022

New Zealand Yam Harvest - Oca

I know I've talked before on my love of this unusual tuber. It's starchy, tasty, easy to grow. So what's not to love?

Well I think the main reason it's not taken off is due to the unpredictable harvests. Sometimes you can harvest bucket fulls from half a dozen plants and sometime you might just get a handful. 

Friday 9 December 2022

Pickled Beets

 For some reason I can't remember the last time I pickled beets. 

Which is really odd as we probably eat over a jar a week. Whenever we have them with a meal we all eat loads and often have to open a second jar. 

So with plenty of beetroot in the garden I decided to harvest some (about 3 weeks ago) and make some pickled beetroot. I used an American recipe from my canning handbook that came with my pressure canner. 

This involved boiling the beets up to peel them (so so easy to do, don't peel beets if you can help it with a peeler - this way the skins just slip off).  

Then slicing them and boiling them in the pickle mixture for 5 minutes. Then fill the jars with beets and the pickling mixture (with 1/2" head space) and process for 30 minutes in a boiling water bath canner. 

The mixture is simple. 

7lb of beets

4 cups vinegar

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 cups sugar

2 cups water

2 cinnamon sticks

(onions if you want - we didn't)

I did double the mixture and ended up with about 16 jars. 
We left it for three weeks to infuse and it tried them just the other night. We ate a jar easily in one sitting so full approval from everyone! Must make more now!

Who else loves their pickled beets. 

Wednesday 7 December 2022

Our Pottery Is Back

This week we got our pottery back from our day in the summer (which I didn't get round to posting about so I'll do a post about it soon!). 

We did the same thing last year and all enjoyed it. It's fair to sya the children all had a bit of a flair for it, must be all the time with playdough! 

It was lovely unwrapping it together and seeing everything with the glaze on and how they have been finished. 

We made all these things to be used though, and the children were using their cups straight away! 
Such a fun thing to do as a family - far better than a day at a theme park!

Monday 5 December 2022

Shepherd's Crook

The boy has been cast as a shepherd in the school play (typecast I tell ya!).

For his costume he needed a crook. His friends all had foam ones, but no way was I going to buy something for it. 

Instead he took a real crook in, one I have used many times. He was really pleased with it, even though I told him not to catch any of his friends with it!

He said that when he got to school all his friends flocked (see what I did there...) around him to have a look! 

 Who remembers their plays from primary school?

Saturday 3 December 2022

November Garden Walk About

I'm going to try and do a "walk about" video once a month. I enjoy looking back at the ones I did in 2017 and think it would be a nice record of what we grow each year. 

Obviously it's November (well December now), so not the most exciting garden month, but still a bit going on.

As soon as the Christmas rush is over I can concentrate on some other jobs, like laying some hedging, pruning the apple trees, coppicing the hybrid willow, getting other veg beds ready to plant up. I also have a tree to rip out and replace. 

 But I like how even when you don't think you've done much there is still progress. the polytunnel is going to look really good come early spring I think! 

How much is everyone else managing to do in their garden this time of year?

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