Friday, 30 March 2007

Making Changes?

On Thursday evening I finally got round to watching An Inconvenient Truth. I watched it with the boys and although they said that they weren't that interested because it didn't say anything new, they did end up watching the complete film.
They were right, for anyone with even a slight interest in global warming there probably wasn't really any new information, but I thought the points were well put across. The pictures of glaciers in particular were impressive (and worrying). The main feeling the boys came away with was incomprehension that nobody seemed to be taking much notice especially since the problem was identified so long ago. Since everybody should know what to do, why aren't they doing something about it?

Fast forward a day to Friday. The last day of term and the schools finished early. By lunchtime the three of us were home and on a chilly wet day the request was to go to a nearby retail park. We have got into the habit of doing this at the end of term and the boys get to go to McDonald's, as you might imagine this is not a treat on offer very often. I wondered whether watching the DVD would have any effect on the trip, would they want to travel less far or take a packed lunch instead of eating fast
The car was soon filled with packaging and although I took my own lunch (I will not set foot in McDonald's) I was really just as bad with my Starbucks americano in a disposable cup!

So will the film change what we do? Admittedly we do most of the things listed at the end of the film and I feel we are reasonably "green" already but when it actually came to making some new changes, well it was a bit inconvenient really, we'd just come in from work/school, we were hungry/wanted coffee and it was easier to do what we've done before.....and we did enjoy it!

Monday, 26 March 2007

Where has the time gone?

I have just returned home after dropping my eldest son off at a Higher Education event at our local University. He will be picking up information from different universities and going to talks on subjects that interest him.

We arrived early (I arrive everywhere early) so I parked in a quiet side street and we chatted until it was time for him to go.

As I watched my six foot plus teenager walking away to plan his future, I found myself thinking of other times I have watched him go in the past, first day at school, to cub camp, first school trip staying away from home, first day at secondary school etc etc. I am very happy, and very lucky, that I have been able to spend so much time with my children as they are growing up but how quickly that time has passed.

I'll admit that I had to spend a while sitting quietly in the car swallowing hard to get rid of the lump in my throat before I pulled myself together and drove home.

Friday, 23 March 2007

Its my birthday

Its my birthday. Lots of cards this morning and presents this evening.

I received the Inconvenient Truth DVD, The Lily Pad List (7 steps to the simple life) by Marion of Elderwoman blog and cotton hankies. The cotton hankies were the most difficult things to buy according to my husband, I suppose most people use tissues.

For this evening I also have

a bottle of white wine and some chocolate.

So there you are, wine, chocolate, a DVD and a new book and at this very moment the washing up is being done without me - just add a bit of knitting and I have the perfect birthday evening.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

The First Day of Spring

Over the past few days we've had hail storms, snow, high winds, frost and days of blue sky and sunshine. The weather might be a bit mixed up but officially and in my garden its spring.

Monday, 19 March 2007

Timeless Simplicity

While having a bit of a sort and tidy I came across some of the books that started me thinking about living simply. I've decided to reread a few and am starting with one of my favourites.

Timeless simplicity by John Lane (ISBN 1 903998 00 X) looks at the history of simplicity, at obstacles to living simply in the world today as well as concentrating on the benefits of a simple lifestyle. I found it to be one of those books that you want to read quite slowly, stopping to think as you read rather than a sit down and read in one go sort of book.

I seem to be rushing around a lot at the moment, forever organising and fitting chores into every available moment so a slow read book should be just what I need.

Friday, 16 March 2007

Reactions to simple living

Live simply so that others may simply live.

I saw this on a mug the other day and thought it summed up what living simply and reducing our "footprint" really means. What we do and consume effects others around the world in so many ways.

So, why, when living simply really doesn't do anybody any harm and hopefully will do people now and in the future some good does it provoke such defensive reactions?

I am not living in a remote location or being self sufficient I am just living in a standard house like millions of other people. The way I try to live more simply is to consume less, to consume carefully and consciously, to own less, to be careful with energy use and to grow some of our own food. This seems to unsettle people.

When the conversation turns to holidays, people feel the need to justify their flights and how much they deserve their break, when its about cooking they explain how busy they are and how they are so tired by Friday that they go out or have a takeaway. I don't try to impose my ideas on others so why do they feel the need to keep justifying thamselves? Why is it threatening if I don't live as they do?

I would like to say that I thoughtfully explain why I think it important to live as I do but I have to admit I don't. I find it easier to stay quiet and say nothing - can seem a bit lonely though.

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

As good as it gets

Sometimes living simply can seem like hard work. In the winter when you are wearing so many clothes rather than turning the thermostat up, when the bread takes ages to rise (because the house is too cold) and when all the washing is hanging outside in a rain storm.

Then there are days like today. The sun is shining from a cloudless blue sky, the washing is sure to dry and the bread is rising nicely in a pool of sunshine through the kitchen window. I have just returned from my allottment where I have planted leeks, lambs lettuce and spinach beet and picked some spinach for tonights meal plus the daffodils in the photograph.

Life is not perfect, it never will be, but on spring days like this one - it gets very close.

Monday, 12 March 2007

Very simple ice-cream

I just wanted to share this very easy ice-cream recipe. Its very simple, no need for an ice-cream maker and no need to stir half-way through the freezing process.

There are only three ingredients

16 fl oz cream (double or whipping)

450ml /405g tin sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspn vanilla extract

I'm not sure whether the term double or whipping cream are universal but UK double cream is 48%fat and whipping cream is 36% fat. Using whipping cream makes slightly more icecream while double cream makes a denser richer icecream.

Whip the cream until it holds its shape. Add the vanilla and condensed milk and continue to whisk unil mixed. Then freeze.

It really is that simple and its very yummy. Compared to some commercial icecreams it is very rich and probably seriously unhealthy!

Saturday, 10 March 2007


Each year when the children were small they chose their own hyacinth to grow in one of those glass hyacinth vases. After they had flowered I planted the bulbs out in the garden wherever there was a bit of space. We've lived in our house now for sixteen years so there are lots of hyacinths dotted around the garden - a wonderful perfume when I am hanging out the washing in the mornings. I like the way tha family traditions develop and add a little bit of history to the home each year.

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Local Food Shopping

Which is the most eco-friendly way to shop locally- do I walk to the shop in my village or do I drive to the nearest farm shop?
The food shop in our village while not one of the big supermarkets is part of a national chain. If I shop there I only buy fresh vegetables from the UK though they could still have travelled many hundreds of miles. The shop is just a half mile walk from home. The nearest shop to stock local foods is a farm shop about six miles from home and which aims to stock local food, grown or made within 35 miles if possible, maybe further afield at this time of the year but always UK.
Today, I had already shopped for the week and only wanted potatoes, some green vegetables ( to make a change from endless root vegetables) and a loaf of bread. So which would use the least fossil fuels, walking to buy food that may have travelled long distances to get to the shop or driving a total of 12 miles to buy just three items of locally produced food? Neither shop regularly stocks organic vegetables so that doesn't influence the decision.
Today was a sunny spring day and the walk won over the car trip but all the green veg came from Spain so I bought bread and potatoes and we ate parsnips from my allotment (again!).

Tuesday, 6 March 2007


I am tidying again today. It has rained so much lately and the ground is so waterlogged that I can't do any gardening and I've run out of other excuses!

I am having a lot of difficulty getting rid of stuff at the moment. When I started work and lived in shared houses I could take all my possessions with me in the back of a VW Polo, well sometimes when I moved it might have taken two journeys, but it was still a lot less than I have now.

There are all sorts of things I find difficulty geting rid of. Take, for instance all my university notes which are in boxes in the loft.

When did I last work in a field related to my degree? Just before my first child was born and he will be seventeen this year.

Is there any information in the notes that I couldn't get from other sources if I needed to? No, probably not.

How many times have I looked at them in the last say ten years? Maybe twice and then only to show the boys that in the "olden days before computers" Mum wrote out all her notes longhand!

So, why can't I get rid of them? I don't know perhaps its some sort of identity thing, a link with the life and job I had before I had children.

You are now probably getting somew idea of why this is taking so long. I need to become a bit more ruthless and throw out without thinking too much. Any tips on how to do that would be welcome!

Friday, 2 March 2007

Last Wednesday

After enjoying the account of Burdockboy's day posted a few days ago, I thought I would have a go too.
My day is last Wednesday which is a non-working day for me ( decided I might be thought a bit odd taking photographs at work).

In the kitchen at around 6:30am drinking tea and making packed lunches.

After husband and youngest teenager have left for the train, I wake eldest teenager, put on a load of washing and weigh out ingredients for bread rolls for tomorrows lunches.

Around 8:30 am I give eldest teenager a lift to school and then stop off at the allottment to dig leeks for tea.

Back home to hang washing out, drink coffee, check emails/read blogs, bake rolls and start making bolognese sauce in the slow cooker.

Next the boring bits cleaning, washing up and generally tidying followed by a sandwich for lunch. Then, more cooking, making ice-cream and bread.

I will post this very easy ice-cream recipe another time, its so yummy it would be mean not to share!

More bread, this time using the breadmaker, teenagers eat and eat and eat.....
I drive to pick up eldest teenager from school at 2:15pm taking knitting to do in the car while waiting.

Its a sleeve for a jumper I'm knitting in 4ply and its taking forever, partly because its on 2.75mm needles and partly because I only do five minutes at a time.
Time for a cup of tea and then more housework before out again (with knitting!) to pick up youngest teenager from train. More tea and chat before starting dinner.
I always make two meals on Wednesdays because I work on Thursdays and then have to pick up youngest teenager from an after school activity, the round trip of just under twenty miles taking about one and half hours due to rush hour traffic. So Thursdays is busy and stressful and made bearable by having something to eat all ready made.

Thursdays dinner used the sauce from the slow cooker to make "Hot pot Haggerty". Bolognese sauce layered with sliced cooked potatoes and topped with grated cheese. I can keep this in the fridge over night and then put it in the oven when I get home from work and set it to switch on automatically while I am out. I get back about half an hour before my husband gets home and we want to eat so I just have time to cook some vegetables.

Back to Wednesdays dinner "Anglesey Eggs" which is mashed potato mixed with cooked chopped leeks in a casserole dish with a layer of halved hardboiled eggs on top all covered in cheese sauce and baked for around 30 mins - popular and filling.

Pudding was apple crumble and ice-cream.

After all the washing up, tidying the kitchen and making packed lunches for the next day ther isn't much evening left but I do make time for some knitting. This is my home knitting (too big to do in the car) a top down raglan cardigan which I am knitting too use up left over balls of wool. I am just finishing the first sleeve and it is quite fun to knit but there a lot of ends to deal with as there are so many colour changes.

This has been an interesting exercise, I didn't realise how much my day was taken up with cooking and washing up, how much tea and coffee I drank and also when I don't work on my allottment I get virtually no exercise. I definitely need to plan a long walk and some fresh air this weekend to make up for it.