Tuesday, 25 January 2011

An evening without power

Over this weekend me and Spadger decided we would spend one evening a week using a little power as possible. So candles rather than lights, trying to have a meal of leftovers, no washing machine, no music player, no DVDs. Last night was our first attempt.

Given that we made this decision on the way home on Sunday we were less than prepared for it. However it didn't go badly. This is what we did.

We agreed that the kitchen was exempt from the rules as we had not prepared any food, bread needed making and I needed to make a cake for visiting friends tonight. The living room was lit by candles all night and we only lit as many as we needed. Spadger played banjo most of the night (no change there) which requires no power. Even his metronome is clockwork. I obviously spent most of the night in the kitchen but when I was free I tried reading for a bit. There wasn't quite enough light for that so I opted for knitting. The cardigan I'm making for Spadger is just garter stitch so I can do that in the dark! When we needed to go upstairs to the bathroom we took a candle in a jar. We got ready for bed by candle light.

All in all it was lovely. Definitely more planning needed for next week but I really feel that we can manage this every week. It was nice to not have any noise (apart from the banjo of course). I found that I was sleepy at a good time because there was no bright light to keep me up. At one point I did struggle to think of what to do but that is mostly because I need to figure out a candle arrangement that I can spin by :o) Now I know going without much power one evening a week isn't going to make much difference either to our bills or the world in general. Even less so in summer. But it felt good and I think that is the important thing.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Eco Quilt Challenge - First block

I signed myself up for the Eco Quilt Challenge. I've not done much quilting but I love the idea. I have been hoarding scraps and old clothes since I started sewing so this is the perfect opportunity for me to use them.

The Stash

Each block is going to be themed. The first theme is centred. I've chosen to make the centre square of my block out of an old pair of tights. I've had these tights since I was about 14. I wore them to death and then turned them into a set of sleeves for under tops. I've then had them in a bag after that stopped being a style I wore. I couldn't throw them, I loved them that much. I always knew I would find something else to do with them. It is important to me that they are the centre of an Ecologically minded quilt. They have been upcycled and hoarded and loved. They really do represent the use it up/wear it out mentality I adore. The rest of the block is made of a pillowcase (I backed the tights in that material too) that was given to me by a friend as part of a massive pile of old bedding he was throwing out. So the first block is totally 2nd hand. Love it!

Edited to alter pic sizes. You should be able to see all of them now

Thursday, 20 January 2011

The BlueFrogSticks shop launch

Those who are most observant will have noticed that the to do list has gone. It worked for a while but I kinda ran out of steam. So now the left hand side of the blog is dedicated to my mini empire. That's right folks I am branching out into the world of commerce. The plan is to sell anything I can craft. All monies will be going directly into the Homestead fund. I want out of the rat race and onto my little farm. Currently the frog on the left will take you to my Folksy shop where I will be selling jewellery, hair ornaments, sewn and knitted goods, wool once I get the hang of spinning and soap once I get certified. At some point soon there will be a second one for my photography.

It is all things go here at the Frog. If you would like to support the Frog then please mention me to your friends, put a note in a post, or you can grab the button and display it on your blog by using the code below.

Wish me luck!

Copy this code and paste it wherever you would like the button to appear.

<a href="http://www.folksy.com/shops/BlueFrogSticks"><img src="http://i110.photobucket.com/albums/n101/affienia/button.jpg"></a>

Friday, 14 January 2011

Normal transmission will be resumed


The computer died while I was in the middle of setting up my Folksy shop so it looks like the mini empire is on hold for the moment. Just as I was gathering momentum too. Ah well.

The chickens are laying well. I won't say anything about the quantity yet. I'm waiting til I get home tonight as then I will have a weeks worth.

The new oven is running nicely. It's a whole gas mark hotter than it should be but at least it is a whole one which is easy to compensate for. Much practice cooking!

Nothing else of interest to report. At least not without a computer. Hopefully we'll be up and running again after the weekend so I'll see you all soon!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

The moose and my first handspun

Finally I have pictures of the Moose for you. This is Bob.

He's not quite as good as Geldoff as far as I'm concerned but considering how rushed I ended up being I'm quite pleased with him. Spadgersdottier squealed when she opened him so that made me happy :o)

The next fibre based offering for you is my first handspun yarn. I got my wheel in October and I have been practicing by plying lots of scraps of wool together. I finally broke out the raw fibre and spun one bobbin of Jacob and one of English. I then plied those together. It's uneven and fairly ugly but I love it. I've learnt so much already and can't wait to get more fibre.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Introducing Sheldon

As you are all aware we own 4 chickens. Our lives as chicken farmers has not gone smoothly so far. Out of the 1st 4 chickens 3 were roosters, including my beloved Cornelius. The removal of these 3 put poor Pius into shock and bringing in 3 new upstarts did not help. By the time the daylight started to fade for the year we had 3 hens who had not quite reached the age of laying and one who was too terrified to do much. So we sat back and resigned ourselves to no eggs til spring.

We have however been checking the nest boxes regularly. You never know right? Over this last week a couple of them have been starting to look like they may start soon. Their combs and wattles have become a bright red and if you go to pick them up they squat down in a position which says they are preparing for the rooster.

This morning I dragged myself out of bed at 9 to let the girls out. I'd had a late night and really just wanted to stay in my warm bed but the livestock comes first. Clad in my dressing gown and wellies I gathered the kitchen scraps and corn ration and headed out into the still snowy outdoors. It was cold and wet and really not shaping up to be a great day. I scattered corn in the run, tipped out the scraps and cleaned and refilled their water hanger then let them out. Hilarius was clucking like a good un just as she does every morning. Shall I check the nest boxes I thought to myself. Yeah why not. There are 4 boxes. Nope, nope, nope, squeal! Our first egg. As quick as I could I locked up the run, ran inside, shed my wellies and woke up Spadger. As far as I was concerned I didn't care if he was grumpy 'cause I woke him up. He had to hold the first egg while it was still warm. Yup they had only just laid it. So without further ado I give you Sheldon.

Complete with piece of straw and a feather. It is small and perfectly formed. So perfectly formed in fact that we felt they have laid a few previously that have been failures, no shell etc, that they have eaten so we've not found them. Usually the first few are a bit hit and miss as they get the hang of the whole shell thing. We resolved to check again after we got back from shopping and the farm. Lo and behold in the actual coop hidden in sawdust there was another egg. Smaller than Sheldon and still very fresh. I tested it by dropping it in a jug of water. How far from horizontal on the bottom it lays tells you how fresh it is. There is an air pocket in the round end. The older the egg the more air. As long as your egg is still in contact with the bottom of the jug it should be ok but I'd crack it into something other than your baking or pan just to check. If it floats get rid! Anyhoo, Eggbert laid horizontal so I think he was either yesterday or today. Sheldon is still the first though as we found him first.

The 2 hens most likely to be responsible are Hilarius and Linus as they squat and the others still run.

Oh frabjous day!

4 things from yesterday

Yesterday it snowed

it melted

I used my new oven for the first time

I discovered that my bread had not been reaching it's full potential in my old oven

Friday, 7 January 2011

A dash of colour

I love colour. Don't get me wrong I'm a goth at heart but I love colour. Even in my deepest teenage goth days I still wore neon coloured socks! Today I am dressed in fuchsia tights, a yellow and white skirt and a black top. My coat is bright red. It clashes and I adore it.

I love coloured and patterned tights. They're a great way to inject some bright into an outfit. I don't hold with certain colours in certain season either. Wear bright yellow in winter and remember the sunshine says I.

I've spent the last few years being more conservative in my dress. Less patterns, less colour. Less me to be honest. This week I've been in flowered, purple, fuchsia and bow pattered tights. It's a start. My biggest problem is the lack of tops in my wardrobe. I've spent about 8 years in vest tops due to fluctuating weight and self esteem issues. One of my plans for the new year is to make myself plenty of different tops in my kind of fabrics.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

I was waiting down at the ancient gate

I am sat at the computer with my headphones on and Fleet Foxes blasting through my head loud enough to block out Spadger playing banjo and his metronome keeping time. It's not that I don't like him playing, I do. And he is getting so much better. But while learning there is a lot of repetition. I get really ratty when there is repetitive noise. Really ratty. So headphones it is. When this album is done I may move onto Iron & Wine or Admiral Fallow. Both of whom we are going to see in March. Then maybe Frightened Rabbit. I'm in that kind of mood. I guess you'd call them all folk but that's a very loose heading I feel.

I'm sat here waiting for eleventy million photos to convert. That might be an exaggeration but only just. Over the last 2 nights I've been implementing stage one of setting up my crafty shop; photographing everything. Spadger made me a lovely stand to hang everything from. It means I can take a decent photo and could also use it at craft fairs if I start doing those. The plan was to re size etc but I'm not sure I can be bothered tonight. I won't make a dent in them and I've a hankering to watch another episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We borrowed the first 4 series from S~ and N~ and have been powering through them. I can only do that if the pics finish converting as that takes a lot of power and makes other things jump on the computer. Also I would have to pull Spadger away from his banjo hehehe

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

The new year post

Hey everyone. First proper post of the new year here. Must try to get back into this blogging thing. I feel I've been neglecting you dear readers.

Usually I hate new year. I am one of these people who looks back to the past a lot so normally I become quite maudlin at new year. This year we had Spadgersdottier and the 3 of us went round to our friends S~ and N~ house with another friend B~. We exchanged Christmas gifts (I got teacups. You have no idea the joy this brings me) and had a lovely meal. Us 3 girls made a course each and it was delightful! We then drank much (though as it was over such a long time no one was drunk) and played games until 5:40am. Yes folks we were all up until way early in the morning. Even Spadgersdottier. This would have been fine but we had to be at my muns for about 2 on new years day for dinner. We ended up being only an hour late and that is because I insisted on getting changed. I wanted nice pictures so I made some effort.

This year is going to be full of stuff for me. Here is a bit of a run down. WEll, I say bit. It's kinda mammoth! It is really the implementation of the plan. I will be setting up a couple of online stores, more info to come, and all money will be going in the savings to get us the farm. We want out of the rat race and we want it bad. So I'll be honing my sewing, knitting, spinning, soap making and jewellery crafts. Much going back to basics and getting really good at them. Polished products is what I'm after or who will buy them?

I'm going to start making Christmas presents straight away this year. I finished Spadgersdottier's on Christmas Eve! Never again I tell you. I'm thinking of making many general things but I'm not sure I like that idea. It only seems one step removed from buying 3 for 2 rubbish from Boots (apologies to anyone who buys those, I just find them impersonal). I'm hoping to have gotten good enough at spinning to make S~ and B~ a skein of wool each. Maybe even for N~ as he knits.

On the soap from I'm hoping to do an course on the legislation/safety front as I can't sell anything without being certified. That will be later in the year though.

Farming/gardening/foraging will play a big part in my year. Going to be more organised this year and take full advantage of everything around us. I'm looking forward to the exercise to be honest!

I intend to start meditating again this year. I was really good with it after we went on a course a while ago now but it sort of petered off. Going to bed later meant that I just felt I didn't have time. I'm thinking before bed and maybe setting my alarm 10 mins before Spadger's in a morning and having a quick one then. I think there definitely needs to be a bit more focus and centering in my life. The push for the farm is going to be stressful and Spadgersdottier informed me over Christmas that she doesn't like it when I'm grumpy. Oops, not been keeping such a good lid on the mood swings then.

I'd like to be more adventurous with my cooking this year. I do tend to make the same things over and over. I'm not thinking anythin exotic where I have to go to 4 different shops just to get the ingredients, just stuff I've not done before. I might look into some more traditional recipes. This is of course after my oven gets fixed. That's right folks. It broke on Boxing day. Right in the middle of making bread while feeling really ill. I was not happy. Hopefully someone will be sorting it this week.

Now I'm not sure if you guys know but I am growing my hair really long. I've been working on it for years and am finally getting somewhere. I abused my hair for YEARS so it's taking a long time to get anywhere due to the damange. To be honest it would have been better if I'd just shaved my head and started again. My plan for this year is to focus on the health of my hair rather than the length. I think I have been doing more damage by not trimming and have therefore gained less growth than I could have.

Well I think that is about it for a rough outline of my plans for the year. I'm gonna try real hard to blog more about it all and talk to you guys. So what are your plans for this year?