Tuesday, 27 February 2007
This is our very tiny pond. Its a plastic bucket about two feet in diameter sunk into the ground. I don't know how the frogs found it as there are no streams or anything near us but every spring for the last six or seven years we have got frogspawn.
The boys are understandably less excited about frogspawn than they used to be but I will always love watching the changing seasons.
Sunday, 25 February 2007
Wednesday, 21 February 2007
This morning I did the usual housework and then cleared out some of the boys outgrown clothes etc. I ended up with one bag for the charity shop, I am finding that decluttering is going very slowly but I am making progress.
This afternoon I decluttered the garden, cutting back the autumn raspberries and pruning the winter jasmine. I love pruning, I think its something about establishing order, so I had a very enjoyable afternoon. I even had time to sit in the sun with a cup of tea before picking up from school.
Sunday, 18 February 2007
I came to Youth Hostelling late, never venturing into one until well past youth but over the last few years we have found them a very good way to get away relatively inexpensively. I've never used them outside the UK but here you can all stay in a family room as long as the youngest member of the family group is under 18. Its also a relatively green way of staying away as you take your own towels and toiletries and the only bedlinen that needs to be washed after your visit is the sheet sleeping bag. Also the occupancy rate seems to be high, this weekend it was full, so thats a lot of people sharing facilities - lounge, self-catering kitchen etc.
As you might expect in February, the weather wasn't perfect but we managed to dodge the showers.
On Friday we enjoyed an out of season walk along the beach at Exmouth.
On Saturday we drove up to Dartmoor and scrambled over a couple of Tors (granite outcrops on the moor).
Then today we explored the town of Topsham which is on the Exe estuary on the outskirts of Exeter. In the past it had dutch trading links and these houses were built at around that time and are still known as the Dutch Houses.
We'll all be back to the normal school/work routine tomorrow but I'm sure the weekend did us good.
Wednesday, 14 February 2007
So its not a traditional red rose, but
-it hasn't been flown in thousands of miles from Kenya
-it hasn't been grown in fossil fuel heated greenhouses in the Netherlands
-it hasn't been drenched in pesticides
It self -seeded about three yards from my front door.
You don't always have to buy something beautiful, nature might just have provided it for you.
Tuesday, 13 February 2007
First grow leeks!
Then dig up leeks.
For four mugs of soup I use 3 or 4 leeks, 2 medium potatoes and vegetable stock.
Slice the leeks finely. Peel the potatoes and cut into small cubes (half-inch). Place in saucepan, add enough stock to cover, bring to the boil and then simmer for about 30 mins. I then process the soup to give a creamy consistently adding more stock (or milk) if necessary.
Top with black pepper and serve.
Sunday, 11 February 2007
Using my coffee grinder I ground approximately equal amounts of sage and lavender until it reached a fine powder. It looks a very dark grey colour at this stage. To mix it with the tapioca flour I put it in a jam jar and added about half a jar of flour (you can get an idea of the proportions from the photo) and turned the jar until it was thoroughly mixed.
Wednesday, 7 February 2007
Sunday, 4 February 2007
As I sat watching the program I remember thinking that we must be under the average, all our light bulbs were low energy ones and all our clothes were line dried, I was sure we were doing OK. We use gas for heating and hot water so our electricity is just for lighting ,cooking and electrical appliances.
I noted our readings for the month of January 2006 ....I was very wrong we used way more than average at 444kWh instead of 310kWh. Of course I made excuses for myself, we cook by electricity while a lot of people would be using gas, it was one of the darkest months of the year, there were four of us so we used several rooms at once etc etc. but I was determined to bring the figure down. Each month last year I noted the gas and electricity readings at the end of the month.
I have just compared the figures for the month of January with last years
January 2006 Electricity 444kWh
January 2007 Electricity 291 kWh
I am very pleased with the improvement. Changes we made in 2006 included
- we had to replace our fridge freezer during the year and although it we replaced with a very similar model I expect that it might be more efficient.
- we now turn everything off at the wall, previously the oven and video were left on so that the clock was still showing, not using much power but not necessary.
- we turned off our printer which we kept on as it was also our fax machine, we get faxes so rarely now that it hasn't been a problem.
- as much as possible I try to use the oven for a couple of things at the same time - timing bread baking or biscuit making to coincide with cooking the meal
- doing the majority of our washing at 40C and using the short wash option even when washing a full load. I was a bit dubious about this at first but the washing still seems to be clean. I have noticed that the combination of low temperature washing and no bleach soap powder does tend to lead to a stale smell in the machine but washing a load at 60C every one to two weeks seems to keep this at bay.
I was surprised that these changes made such a large difference but I suppose all the little things add up.
At the end of 2006 I had brought our daily electricity use for the complete year down to an average of 9.72kWh per day so I did just beat the UK average but I hope the figure will be even lower this coming year - I like a challenge.
Our gas usage ( heating and hot water) is also down this year from 230 units in January 2006 to 160 units in January 2007. I don't think I can take full credit for this though, we have increased our loft insulation and now tke showers more than baths but I think it must be mainly down to the very mild weather.