Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Review of the year - looking back at 2014 in pictures

Like everyone else in blogland I'm looking back before jumping into the New Year.

So how was 2014 for us on the Simple Suffolk Smallholding.
Despite C seeing more of the hospital than we would have chosen, 2014 has gone by so quickly, we were very busy juggling so many different things; The Campsite, Growing for sale and for us, Chickens and Eggs, Haymaking, Cs odd jobbing.

We read dozens of books, visited car boot sales, sat in the sun now and again, cut wood to keep us warm, ate our own fruit and vegetables and generally lived a quiet and simple life.

Here are some of my favourite pictures from 2014

First violets of spring

Arrival of our new cats. Polly - friendly, Mabel - shy

My 59th Birthday

A reminder of some of the interesting things found at car boot sales this year
My new radio - saved for over 6 months

Our new garden shed, built from scratch by C and the shabby-chic ladder with plants

From a fruitful garden
Haymaking on our field
A free load of firewood
Family BBQ at the home of C's sister
5 Giant pumpkins
C after the Hardly a Heart Attack saying Thank you for all the good wishes from blogging friends
Free meals

Christmas dinner for 12

Thank you to everyone who reads and comments
Thank you to everyone who reads and doesn't comment!
Thank you to everyone who writes interesting blog posts for others to read
Thank you to people who give me ideas for books to read
Thank you for those who share recipes and crafting.

Back Next Year!

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

What being debt free, organised and frugal means to us


Being frugal back in the 1980s gave us the choice of whether  I had to go back to work after having the children.
Being frugal gave us the choice to move house several times to end up here with  a home worth more than many others
Becoming  debt free a few years ago gave us the chance to save some money which in turn gave C the choice to change from full time employment to part time self employment.
Being frugal and debt free means we are able to choose what we do with our pennies.
Being frugal and organised is knowing there is always money put aside for bills and for all expenses and even for the unknown around the corner.


We don't have to fear the postman bringing a bill
We don't have to worry about what will happen if C has another heart attack and can't work
We never need worry about being cold or hungry
We know we can downsize when we need to, we don't have to worry about being able to manage here.


Despite having money to spare we are content living the way we do
We don't have to join in with consumerism
We don't feel the need to queue for the sales
We have hobbies that make us happy without costing a fortune
I'm happy with my blog and won't be adding lot's of ads and sponsorship.

Back Soon

Monday, 29 December 2014

A Catching up Post

First, welcome to MummyHughesy, Crown princess and Lindabwick22 who have clicked the Google button and f land, SusiWa and Treehedgewytch via Bloglovin

So where have I been for the last day or two?

On Sunday we had a day out visiting Cs sister and brother-in-law. Everyone who was at our house on Christmas Day except our eldest and her other half who had already headed home to Surrey, were there plus our nephew and niece and their partners. The Logo Game competition was in progress when I took these pictures.

  It's a good job she has a large house. 16 people fitted into one room.
 Everyone ate too much yet again and we brought home some of the food we had taken so another lot of leftovers in the fridge!

This morning we had to go to Ipswich as C had a hospital appointment - a 3 month follow-up from the October heart "event". We didn't bother to go into the town centre for shopping, still nothing needed. So it just a quick stop at Aldi for milk and veg, hospital and home. The doctor at the hospital has changed some tablets yet again so hopefully C will lose the breathlessness that's been a problem since October.

I now hope we can stay at home for several days without visitors, without driving anywhere and without overeating.

Back Soon

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Loving Our Quiet Life

Other parts of the country had snow but we just got rain, a LOT of rain, non-stop 15 hours of rain and then more on and off all day. The chicken runs are lakes. Thank goodness the forecast is for better weather until the end of the year.

The house is more or less tidy, everything that came out of the dining room cupboard before Christmas has gone back in again. We are eating our way through the leftovers and that just leaves the decorations to come down sometime before New Year.

I easily resisted the opportunity to go shopping, both in the real and virtual worlds as there is nothing we need. Instead I've been dipping into books old and new, finding my desk in the craft room after things that were not needed in the living room were dumped on it and filling in my new diary with all the birthdays etc.

I am very happy with the quiet life we lead. It was lovely to have a house full of family but I couldn't do it often!

Friday, 26 December 2014

Hope you had a good day,we did.

Thank you for all the Christmas greetings on comments on 24th and I enjoyed reading everyone's Christmas posts over the last few days.

I think that Christmas day went well, it was all a bit of a blur - No, not too much alcohol, just very very busy. Cooking for 12 involves lots of juggling of dishes and pans, plates and jugs! All worth the effort as I've never seen so much food demolished so eagerly by all the family.
I think C caught us all mid-munch!

 We didn't get to Aldeburgh for a walk along the prom as it was well past 3pm, and beginning to drizzle by the time we left the dining table.

We had some lovely pressies. I have 7 Penny Pincher Letter Friends and we swap small presents, often home made, each year and because they are a total surprise they are fun to unwrap. There were also   presents all the way from Tiree and from the US - also penfriends, and also a good surprise. Then of course lovely gifts from all the family, often from our wishlists so always something really wanted. (The books below for me!). Our eldest, who always finds me something lovely gave me a beautiful Christmas table cloth amongst other things and there were things from my wish list from the other children.
Our lovely neighbour who says " I don't do presents!" always gives us both some money - which is a pretty good present as it often is the only money that I get all year that I feel I can do whatever I like with ( I'm sure there are words in the wrong order in that sentence!).
Amongst other things, C had a sundial from me and a rain gauge from our eldest, so has some jobs to do sorting out the best place outside for those. He secretly got me this beautiful hand turned Sycamore bowl.

 While the brilliant butter dish in the colours of my kitchen came from our friends.

Today me and C spent the morning washing dishes, saucepans, plates etc etc left from yesterday, putting things into the cupboard and getting the living room furniture back in its place. And thank goodness I hoovered up as  my sister, brother-in-law and nephew called in after walking on the coast!

This evening has turned much colder and snow may well have fallen in the west and north of the country. I doubt we will get much over here on the coast - we rarely do.

I hope your Christmas Day and Boxing day were everything you hoped for.

Did you see TV News with those nutters queueing at 3am for Boxing Day Sales? I'm glad I wasn't!

Back Soon

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

A long time waiting for a carving fork!

I've had a kitchen of my own for nearly 40 years but I've never had one of these until today.
Looks like a lethal weapon!
 No idea why, just never thought of buying one at the right moment I guess. It's already been used today for lifting the ham joint that I cooked, out of the water and into the roasting tin. It will make it a lot easier to carve too, and the chicken we have for dinner on Thursday.

All the shopping has been done and we don't need to go anywhere for days. I avoided buying any more of anything fattening, last year we were given 6 boxes of chocolates, so this year I've not bought any which means we probably won't be given any! 
I also didn't buy a bunch of flowers for £12, a luscious chocolate dessert for £15 or any of the dozens of other things that are vastly overpriced just because it's Christmas.

The weather shows no sign of giving us any of the white stuff for Christmas, in fact it was so warm, with a good drying wind that C decided to cut the grass around the front and in the orchard. Grass cutting on December 23rd must be some sort of record or just plain nuts, but it's not stopped growing so really needed doing.

Back tomorrow

Monday, 22 December 2014

What have I forgotten?

Considering it's just 3 and a bit days 'til we have 10 visitors for the day I don't seem to have done much today, which makes me wonder if their is something vital I've forgotten to do.

We  needed to shop in both Leiston and Saxmundham before Christmas and originally planned to do both tomorrow. But car parks will be jammed by 9am at both I'm guessing, so I decided to split things. Then C said he wanted to get new wiper blades for the Jeep so it was Saxmundham and Tescos today.
 I had vouchers for £6.50 which helped and covered the cost of extra things we needed to buy as a contribution for Cs sister when we go after Christmas. She emailed everyone last week inviting us all before adding up numbers and finding it came to 18! And they have 16 there on Christmas day too. She must be mad! They have a huge old farmhouse so plenty of room but it will help if we contribute towards the food for the day. I'll also make a trifle and bake a quiche to take.

So my next job was to make some pastry  cases for quiches, while C hoovered up.

I've swapped the frozen stuff we need for Christmas from the outside to the indoor freezer to save a bit of time on Wednesday and that's about the sum total of today's jobs.

I'm now off to check the lists to see what's been forgotten

Back Tomorrow

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Things can only get lighter

December 21st - The shortest day, from now on things get lighter and colder. The old weather saying " As the days lengthen so the cold strengthens" is usually right. The weather man on Countryfile said it's more likely to snow at Easter than Christmas, and I read somewhere about how few Christmases have actually been white since records began and it's not many at all, although I still like to send Christmas cards with snow on them.

Today the 3 largest vases/jugs I have, have been filled with a mixture of greenery from the garden. We are so lucky to have lots of different evergreens growing here ranging from Rosemary to huge conifers. As predicted, the berries have all gone from the Holly. The blackbirds that arrive from the North soon cleared the Pyracantha and Holly but they are not so keen on the Cotoneaster Lactis berries.

I've decided my favourite things about Christmas Season are

Decorating the Christmas Tree
Bringing in lots of greenery from the garden on the Solstice
Laying the Christmas dinner table

  While I was fiddling about in the dining room, getting out all the "best" stuff ( which was actually bought at a car boot sale for the bargain price of £10 about 7 or 8 years ago) and giving everything a wash or wipe,  C has been cleaning the conservatory. There were  black mouldy spots on some of the plastic roof struts. So doing it bit by bit with a sit down in between he has got round the whole lot and cleaned the window sills and hoovered up. Job well done. We are going to heat the conservatory on Christmas day and spread ourselves around as there just isn't room for 12 to sit in the living room.

Yesterday we delivered presents to Cs sister and their family. We went via Snape Maltings and called in at the Christmas Food and Drink festival. It was free to get in unlike the bigger version in September . There were several local producers there and we sampled a few bits but I always feel guilty trying lots of stuff with no intention of buying - silly I know. We did get a big bottle of local apple juice for Christmas dinner.

So Sundays jobs from the list have been done and I shall be back tomorrow after finishing the Monday job list.


P.S.Welcome to pensive pensioner, a new follower on Google and thanks to everyone for comments

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Busy Saturday

We spent the morning in various parts of Suffolk finishing up at our son's for lunch. Now we're home and watching the Strictly final.Very Close this year but Caroline should win after a brilliant Show Dance.
A better post tomorrow

Friday, 19 December 2014

Two big cocks!..........PHEASANTS I mean, honestly, what did you think I meant?!

Taking my lead from John at Going Gently, that's a title sure to push up the page views!

There were 3 free things that happened here today

Look away now if you are vegetarian or squeamish or don't agree with shooting.

 We were still sitting down after lunch when there was a knock on the door and our old friend from the village had brought us 2 brace of pheasants. His grandson had been beating for a shoot and had brought them over, but Roy had already been given some from a local shoot so he has passed them onto us. They needed getting into the freezer quick. A few minutes of yuckiness and that's made us 4 free meals.

 After several grey gloomy days and heavy rain last night, today we had lovely sunshine and two loads of washing were soon flapping on the line drying for free.Although I very rarely use the tumble dryer anyway, preferring to wait for a decent day and finish them off over the Rayburn

C hitched the tipping trailer to the tractor and brought it round to clear up all the stuff he has cut down over the last few days. We are looking nice and tidy for Christmas visitors.

Later C cut my hair - another free thing - and now I'm also tidy for Christmas!

Not much on TV again tonight so we'll get into Christmas mood by listening to Friday night is Music Night on Radio 2, which tonight is all sorts of Christmas music, poetry and prose. Last night we were treated to a special Take That performance on Jo Wiley's Radio 2 programme . Pity there is only 3 of them now but they still sounded good.

Thank you to everyone for comments yesterday.

Back Tomorrow

Thursday, 18 December 2014

What we've been doing

C has been working outside, testing himself with what he can do without getting out of breath. So far he has trimmed the top off the front hawthorn hedge on both sides of the gateway and cut down some of the small  Ash and brambles that were creeping under the Horse Chestnut tree, taking light and moisture from the things in the fruit cage. The Ash were only cut back about 5 years ago.

He is finding that working upright is no problem, but bending up and down soon makes him feel not quite right so that he needs to stop.
 We now have heaps of prunings all along the front fence and in the orchard waiting to be cleared up.

On Tuesday and Wednesday he also worked at our neighbours for a couple of hours sorting out her strawberry bed which had got in a mess. He brought home a few runners and has put them in some spare growbags in the poly-tunnel, they hadn't really rooted so may not survive - we shall see.

Last year, after Looking at all the Christmas trees we have on the smallholding we bought a cheap artificial one from B & Q ( did you know some fake trees are over £200)  This year, because we have a crowd here, we put our tree up in the conservatory. But the living room was looking so un-Christmassy I had a brainwave and we carefully picked it up and stood it on a small table wedged in the corner behind the TV - we wouldn't have been able to do that with a real one! It looks a bit odd but at least it's cheered up the living room.
We don't do 'hanging things' anymore because the room was re-plastered when the extension was built and the few bits we have pinned in resulted in bits of plaster all over the floor and cracks in the ceiling. We don't want to have to decorate the room before we move.

One of my favourite clearing up jobs it to sort through STUFF, get rid of the useless and make everything take up less room than before. I spent most of yesterday clearing out everything from a small pine bureau in the craft room, tidying up and clearing out things from a tall chest of drawers and fitting the useful things from the bureau into the top drawers. Now the small bureau ( bought off ebay many years ago) which seemed such a good idea but actually never got used properly as the drop down front bit wasn't high enough to sit at, can go out in the shed ready  to go to the auction house or car boot sale.

Today I put the marzipan and icing on the Christmas cakes and wrote lists.
Here is something to bring joy to list makers everywhere - A List Of Lists!

  •  shopping list for the 23rd
  • the jobs that need doing between now and 23rd
  • jobs for Christmas eve
  •  things I want to do between Christmas and New Year
  • ideas for things to make for next Christmas
  • things to look out for in the sales ( that's a very short list only wrapping paper and presents)
  • things to look for at car-boot sales next year
Now I only need to write a job list for Christmas morning and I'll be sorted, with dinner for 12  on the table by around 1.15 to give us time to take Cs Dad down to Aldeburgh for some sea air in the afternoon. ( Hopefully leaving the kids behind to wash up!)

Back Tomorrow

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

No pieces missing

Just a quick post today, I seem to be spending too much time fiddling in blogland recently.

 All 1000 pieces present and correct, the puzzle has kept me out of mischief for several hours.
It will go back into it's box and off to the next car boot sale we do where I shall hopefully get my £1 back for it.
Now I shall get back to reading and preparing for feeding our 10 visitors on the 25th.

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

A Winter Week Without a Salary, Odds and Ends and Home Farmer Magazine Review

I've just realised I have new followers on Bloglovin'. The numbers went down 2 and then up 3 so welcome to Tannia, Helen Roasty and Loraine, thank you for reading my ramblings.

I went to Saxmundham this morning for milk and a few bits and the final voucher for a Christmas pressies. Came home and wrapped up the present and then realised I had 2 more things still to sort and wrap which took me to the very end of my Christmas wrapping paper. I shall need to look out for some in the January sales, I don't think I have bought any for several years. I quite fancy getting some brown paper and printing with potato prints or something similar but in reality I know I'll never get round to it and it would probably end up being more expensive anyway.
We had a very nice hand made card in the post the other day and I said to C that I really ought to make more cards other than the few I make for my Penny Pinching Pen Friends. He said the same thing - that it's probably more expensive to make them than to find some cheap in the sales or at car boot sales. ( The thing he doesn't know is that I probably have enough of a stash of card making bits and bobs to make several years of cards!).
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I'm in trouble again for correcting a mis-quote on another blog. The problem was because it was misquoted it changed the whole reason for the quote and it gives me the heeby jeebys to see something in print that I know is wrong. I think when I'm even older and crustier I shall be one of those grumpy old women who write to newspapers and Points Of View to correct mistakes - Oh what fun!
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Once again a copy of Home Farmer Magazine has arrived for me to review. As always it's filled with interesting articles. The food bit in this January edition features Norfolk recipes, marmalade, porridge and sausage making.
John Harrison writes about rhubarb and Sara Evans-Charrington has recipes for home made cleaners.

I was very tempted by an offer of a free book just for the price of postage until I remembered that I had them both! Sometimes I forget just what we have got - too many books perhaps? No, that's impossible!
Another good offer is for 5 packets of seed for greenhouse growing worth £10 for £2.95 and a bigger collection of £32.75 worth of various seeds for £15. ( I still haven't done our seed order yet so I need to check out this offer)

There is an interesting bit about Comfrey and comfrey "tea" for fertiliser. We just bung a mesh bag of it in a water butt however John Butterworth has built a special pipe contraption which could be better and avoid some of the smelliness.

My favourite features as usual were smallholder Dot Tyne's diary from her welsh smallholding and the pages of short news items of interest to smallholders and gardeners.

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And Finally - a couple of times in the summer when our income from self employment is good I've done posts about what we earn, how we earn it and how we save some for winter.

This is why we need to save  - here's  a weeks income from December

Thursday 4th Dec - Eggs £8
Friday 5th Dec - Eggs £7
Saturday 6th Dec - Eggs £8
Sunday 7th Dec - Eggs  £13. Cs pay for working at our neighbours £12.50
Monday 8th Dec - Eggs £9. Hay £5
Tuesday 9th Dec - Eggs £6
Wednesday 10th Dec - Eggs £15. Hay £5
That makes a weeks income of  £88.50. So it's a good job we paid off the mortgage all those years ago, don't have any debts and have put money away during the summer months.

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Thank you to everyone for comments yesterday and a special thank you message to my penfriend D from the States - kitchen pressie arrived safe and sound - I shall be good and save it to Christmas.

Back Tomorrow

Monday, 15 December 2014

The up-market side of Suffolk

It was a beautiful blue sky morning, just right for a walk. But I had bread rising before we decided so we went out straight after lunch instead. Typically the sky clouded over just as we got to Southwold.

Southwold is 20 minutes north of us and one of the most expensive places to own property, even the beach huts fetch £100,000. The sea was flat calm and it was chilly but there were crowds of people about especially through the town which is full of small up market touristy shops although Costa, Tesco Express and W H Smiths have managed to sneak in during the last few years. Southwold is the home of Adnams Brewery and today there was a smell of their beer brewing all over the town.

We don't have many Lighthouses in Suffolk, this is one of them

The pier
We came home via a shop called "Wild about birds" to buy a new seed feeder as ours is cracked and letting too much seed out. I've never seen so many different types of seed for birdfeeding as they have in that shop.

That was our Monday jaunt.

Home in time for a cuppa and washing up the lunch things and sorting eggs.

Back Tomorrow

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Card making

Christmas cards have all been sent and presents wrapped so time to clear my desk in the craft room.

For a complete change I made birthday cards

Using the things I bought with my Craft Creations voucher, I've made 7 variations on a theme ready for next year. That's the ladies birthdays sorted now I need to do some for the men of the family and then some Christmas cards for Next Year.
Nothing like Being Prepared.

Thank you for all the comments on the Leek recipes yesterday, I hope they were useful for someone .

Back Tomorrow

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Have you had a leek lately?

That's the vegetable with a double E.- obviously!

If I had a small garden with only space for a few winter veg I would definitely grow leeks. They are one of the most useful things we grow.
 The price varies in the supermarket depending on the weather but they are not as cheap as some of the other winter staples like carrots and parsnips so I would choose space for leeks every time.

We sow in pots and outside. Then they are transplanted into holes dibbled with something like a pointed broom handle. Water them in rather than filling the hole with soil. You can earth them up to make them whiter but in our heavy soil we don't do this in case they rot. Instead we have shorter white bits but the green bit is edible too so it doesn't matter.

We never eat them just plain boiled when they can turn into a limp mess.

Here are some of our favourite ways of using leeks

As the base for a vegetable curry - chop leeks,onion, an apple. Melt butter in a pan and stir the veg in cook 'til soft. Stir in tablespoon flour and dessert-spoon( or more) of curry powder. Cook for a few minutes then mix in half pint hot stock. Then you can add some softer veg, or cooked potato or dried fruit, a spoonful of chutney, some pepper. Add extra stock or hot water as it cooks.

Leek and Potato soup. The are hundreds of recipes for this everywhere, so I won't put one here.

Leek Fritters - slice a couple of leeks length ways and then into thin slices. Soften in a little butter in the microwave. Leave to cool, mix in 3oz plain flour, 1 beaten egg and enough milk to make a thick batter. Then add plenty of black pepper. . Heat some oil in a frying pan and put in large spoonful of mixture and flatten, cook 'til golden and turn over to cook the other side, Drain on kitchen paper -towels. Lovely with bacon or ham.

Leeks Braised with Thyme. - Soften some butter in the microwave, with a tablespoon of chopped thyme and stir in leeks that have been trimmed and cut into thick slices. Tip into a roasting tin so they are in one layer. Pour over ½ pint hot vegetable stock. Dampen a large piece of greaseproof paper and scrunch it up then lay over the top of the leeks. Cook in a fairly hot oven for 30mins. Remove the paper and pop back in oven for 10 minutes until the edges of the leeks are browned a bit.

Leek and Ham Bake - Cut some leeks into thick slices and cook in water until they have just softened a bit. Drain really well and tip into an oven proof dish. Mix in some pieces of ham. Pour over a thick white sauce. Sprinkle plenty of grated cheese and dried breadcrumbs over the top and bake in the oven for about 20 to 30 minutes.

Leek, potato, mushroom and Stilton bake - Much the same as above but cut potatoes into thick slices and boil with leeks sliced to same size until starting to soften. Add the sliced mushrooms for a couple of minutes. Drain really well. Tip into oven proof dish and cover with a thick white sauce that has had a couple of ounces of Stilton crumbled in.  Scatter dried breadcrumbs over the top and bake for 20 to 30 minutes.

And finally the the Pasties I made last month.

Useful veg.

Back Tomorrow

Friday, 12 December 2014


Imagine my horror  the other night when I went on the library website to order a book, and found this

" ! A £1 charge will apply if an item is reserved from the joint Suffolk and Cambridgeshire(SPINE) catalogue."

Aaaaaagh I order dozens of books, how have they sneaked this in - from free to £1 - without telling us. PANIC! PANIC!

There was a FAQ page about this new joint venture with Cambridgeshire  Libraries but it didn't really explain anything so I emailed a message.

 Back came a reply. " If you live in Suffolk and order a book that's in Suffolk Libraries it is still free. You can now browse Cambridgeshire catalogue and if you order a book from that then a £1 charge applies"
PHEW what a relief!

Many Thanks for the comments about my very rough looking wreath - honestly it doesn't do to look closely!

 Back Tomorrow

Thursday, 11 December 2014

I was almost tempted

This gorgeous everlasting wreath was in a Thompson & Morgan Seed Company Christmas brochure that arrived through the post last week.
It's 21.99 and I looked at it for ages . If we kept it for 20 years ( Heck, I'd be almost 80!) that would work out at only just over a £1 each Christmas. And if I had sent for it I could have had a pot of 5 indoor hyacinths for half price of £4.99.

I showed C and of course him being the voice of reason ( i.e mean!) said well, get it if you want but will it really last that long and wouldn't you rather have £20 worth of books? I can always rely on him to remind me of my priorities!

So I found the old foam wreath that I had bought from a charity shop last year for 99p( it came already covered with red crepe paper and with a few ribbony bits and bobs), wired on some conifer and holly sprigs and hung it on the front door.

It's OK as long as your don't look too closely.

 Frugal saving of £20

Back Tomorrow

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Ticked off

Mince Pies ✔
Cheese straws ✔
Suffolk rusks ✔
More presents wrapped ✔

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Get out the highlighter pen

The Radio Times is in!
Like so many other people it is the only time we buy a copy, it's a Christmas Must-Have in this house.
The children used to spend hours deciding what they wanted to watch and the whole thing would fall apart before Christmas day arrived.

Thank you to Philip and others for comments about comments! I'm pleased to hear nothing strange is happening . Kev asked what a Vegetable and Nut roast looked like, so if he would like to look HERE. This is the recipe and picture of the very tasty individual roasts I made for our two vegetarian visitors ( and one for me too to make a change ) for Christmas day.

I've now almost finished shopping for presents, just one more voucher to buy. Now I must get out the wrapping paper and sellotape. I don't do posh wrapping, my pressies always look as if they been chucked together!

Back Tomorrow

Monday, 8 December 2014


I went to friend A's yesterday with some ideas for books to suggest to her, only to find she had them all on her shelves already! We have the same taste in reading so often swap lists and every time we go there I spend ages perusing her shelves to see what she's bought since the last time.

Much more like a winter day today, very cold but sunny. It's all to do with the full moon the other day according to C. I took a picture of the moon rising the other night but it didn't come out well. I said ages ago that I wanted to save up for a new camera but haven't made a start yet. Perhaps that will be my new years resolution.

The Christmas day Vegetable/nut roasts have been made and will go in the freezer, one more thing ticked off the list.

In between jobs I've been keeping warm and having a go at the 1000 piece jigsaw, its going to be a long job to get it done.

I seem to be having a problem with someone commenting on other blogs and it's somehow linking to my name. John Grey at Going Gently asked if I was Phillip or Sue and now Pat at Weaver of Grass has commented on my blog about a comment on her blog which was left by Phillip but she thought it was left by me. What's going on here?

Back Tomorrow

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Over the border to Essex

We had a lovely day out today visiting some friends in Essex. A is such a good cook so we always look forward to eating with them. We took a couple of bales of straw over for them and after lunch took it to their allotment where they also have chickens. They live close to a busy road in a busy village but their allotment is a couple of miles out of the village in a lovely high and open place.

It's no wonder  that in the summer they take their lunch and spend the day there, very quiet all round except for the steady stream of planes going into Stansted Airport. It was freezing there today though and we were glad to get back to their house for a cuppa.

We did a Christmas pressie swap, caught up on family news and I checked over her bookshelves to see what new books she has and noted down a few titles.
Then it was a long drive home along very busy roads. Where is everyone coming or going to on a Sunday evening?

Welcome to Doo a new follower on Google Friends and to Maggie and Rebecca on Bloglovin.

Back Tomorrow

Saturday, 6 December 2014

A Christmas Puzzle on a cheap Saturday.

A sharp frost this morning (which is only our second frost of the winter) with a thin layer of ice on the chickens water. But as the sun was shining from a blue sky it felt OK.

We got some more scrap-wood cut up and added to the heap and late morning I biked to the nearest village where they were having a Christmas Fair. Last weeks Christmas Fair in Knodishall was packed full of people but this week in Friston was much quieter mainly because there was almost nothing there. The people running it are all elderly and since we moved here the fair has shrunk each year. It doesn't help that almost half the houses in the village are second or holiday homes so stand empty at this time of year.

Did I spend anything ? I hear you all asking, after all this is supposed to be a blog about frugal and simple living.
Yes,  I'm afraid I spent £1.
 On this jigsaw puzzle, which I thought looked a good one to do as we've not done one for several years. I hope its all there, nothing worse than a jigsaw with one bit missing.

This afternoon I cut C's hair, saving several £s ( what does it cost for a mans haircut nowadays?) ; made some fairly cheap tomato soup( using our own tomatoes from the freezer, value carrots and our own onions, add a bit of tomato puree and flour for thickening ,pinch salt and sugar  and plenty of black pepper) and finished a brilliant library book - for free.

Eggs were collected and boxed up ready for sale tomorrow. We are now selling about 10 boxes a day ( down from 16 when we had more chickens) but things are much easier with less hens, less cleaning out, less littering, fewer bags of feed to shift etc.

Yesterday C untangled the out-door Christmas lights. They were rescued from my Dad's house when it was cleared out years ago. We haven't used them for a while. Since having the replacement plastic fascias there was nowhere to bang in nails to hang them on but now we have the new shed they have been fixed to it today to cheer up the garden in the December gloom.

Indoors, the first Christmas cards to arrive have been hung on a length of red ribbon which I had in my craft box so saving several £s compared to buying a special thing to hang them on.

So THAT'S how to have a frugal simple Saturday!

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Friday, 5 December 2014

Thank you, plus cars and cats

Yesterday I re-did a post from last November and this resulted in lots of comments that made me laugh as everyone joined in the OTT Christmas discussion. Brilliant blogging fun. So thank you everyone especially Gill, Ilona, Trudie, Twiggy and Practically Penniless for cheering up a very grey dismal day.

 I'm told there are videos everywhere on You Tube etc of cats doing funny things.
 I will add a picture of Polly to the collection.
 The foot stool is not usually there but Polly found it handy for looking closely at the snooker balls.

We went to look at a car this morning.

At the moment we have one of these

It's a workhorse and has been used for the last 6 years to pull heavy trailers  and to drive across fields as well as going to do the shopping. It's built like a tank and easy to drive and you sit up quite high BUT it uses diesel like it's going out of fashion and it's almost at the top of the tax band.

Due to Cs Hardly-a-heart-attack we are not going to do haymaking on the two fields we rent, just our bit here. So we only really need something that will pull a small trailer and it would be good to have something that's only £30 a year to tax and did a lot more miles to the gallon. C studied t'internet and thought one of these
would be OK. There was one at the dealers in Leiston and we went and drove it up and down the road for a few miles.

The problem is, before the Jeep we had one of these, (with side windows), you sit up quite high and

actually have to climb up to get in. It was easy to drive and we kept it for years.
All this means it's about 20 years since we had an ordinary sort of car so the Ford Fusion felt very small and not all that comfortable to drive either. The Jeep has comfy leather seats, the Ford felt like sitting on a brick!

More thinking needed.

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Thursday, 4 December 2014

I must have calmed down since last year

First I must welcome Angry Parsnip a new follower of my ramblings.

Searching through my old posts for something, I found this which I wrote in November last year. I can't remember why I wrote it but I think it must have been someones  blog post  that made me think ENOUGH!

Every year some people seem to  get themselves into a tizzy about the approach of Christmas. They are worrying about the commercialism, the never ending ads on TV. The over eating. The debt. But I can't see the point of getting all "het up" about it ( as we say in Suffolk).

You can preach all you like but there will always be some people who go completely OTT. This is the time that shops take the most money, so of course they are going to advertise. You don't HAVE to buy what they are trying to persuade you to spend on. However much money you give some people they would still spend it on things others consider unnecessary. However little money other people have they will still spend it all and borrow more. 

You can be annoyed at the shops playing Christmas songs in November, but there's no point in raising your blood pressure over it. Just do your shopping and leave.

 You can be an all-the-year-round Christian or at only-at -Christmas-church visitor but you will be made welcome whoever you are. And if you are not - then find another church next year because if a church doesn't make a stranger feel welcome then they are not doing what they should be doing.

You can be Pagan or Atheist as long as no one is hurt by your beliefs of non beliefs. 

You can stay at home, read a good book, watch TV  or go to huge family parties, in the whole great scheme of things as long as you are not hurting anyone then it doesn't matter.

You can spend a fortune on presents, make them or buy them secondhand. If the recipient doesn't like it then it's their problem not yours.
It's just Christmas, it happens every year. Enjoy it or not.

 Thank heavens that no-one  has really gone on and on about Christmas this year, either that or I've not noticed or I am a much calmer person.
However I do have a few  pet hates on blog posts..... smug selfies, people who go on about how wonderful their life is               ( tempting fate I reckon), people who moan about not getting comments, people who have lots of adverts all over the place and repeated swearing for no reason. Oh, and people who take me too seriously!
 Other than that I'm a happy blog reading bunny!

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Wednesday, 3 December 2014

The Stats Lie, Photos and Other Stuff

The other day when things were quiet I filled a post writing about the stats for my blog. Then yesterday I was searching for something I'd written last year and came across posts that had over a thousand views that were not listed in the 'All Time Highest Views' part of the stats page. So that  Famous quote about Lies, Lies  and Damned  Statistics ( I can't remember what it is without going to look in my Quotes book - someone will know!) is definitely right when it comes to Blog posts.

Yesterday C had to take the Jeep to the dealers in Ipswich for them to look at the tow bar because we had been sent a re-call notice about a possible problem. While he was there he got them to check the electrical system on their clever computer to see why we have a problem sometimes with the battery going flat for no reason. Anyway, as this was going to take an hour he dropped me off in the town to finish a bit of Christmas present shopping. I managed to find a blue shirt for Cs Dad at a sensible price and the other few odds and ends I needed, but By Golly the town was Heaving! and it was only the 2nd of December heavens knows what it will be like in a couple of weeks.
We called into Aldi on the way into town, that was packed too and trolleys of things waiting to go onto the shelves standing in the way making it almost impossible to look round properly and they had moved things around since last time we were there. I got in and out as quick as possible.

Thank you to whoever it was who mentioned on their blog how easy it is to get photos printed from a memory stick in Boots. Knowing I was going to be in Ipswich, which has the only Boots branch  with a photo shop, we transferred some of our favourite photos from the blog onto a stick and I went in expecting to have to ask for help but even this old computer illiterate person managed, and now after a gap of years I have some pictures to stick in the photo album. It's funny that there are dozens of pictures of our first two children born in 1980 and 81, holidays and the various places we lived but after our youngest came along in 87 and  we moved here in 92 there are gradually fewer and fewer until 2008 when photos in the album suddenly stop. So there is a picture of our youngest on her first day in the 6th Form in 2004 and then NOTHING until ones I have just printed taken when all our family were here in January this year. That's a 10 YEAR GAP! so thank heavens for blogging which has got me taking photos again.

I have a December job list now, it's very long and seems to involve lots of cooking/making/baking/freezing. I really need to get on with things but I've had 3 trips out in 3 days. Monday we went to get chicken feed and I took my overseas cards to the post office. Yesterday Ipswich and today my normal monthly shop at Tescos. Crafty b*****s, to make way for Christmas stuff in the smallish Saxmundham shop they've almost abandoned their value range. So if you want just normal day to day stuff -Tough. I wish we had called in at the big Tescos on the outskirts of Ipswich yesterday but by the time we had had the whole morning out in the drizzle we just wanted to get home and light the fire. To make matters worse I planned to get some voucher cards for my sister and sister in law in Tescos this morning but they had nothing under £25. Now much as I love my rellies £25 is a bit too much! Which means we now need to trek back to Ipswich to M&S or Debenhams or Next. Damn.

I think that's it for now.
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Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Review of the month, looking back at November

 At the beginning of last month I shared my list of November plans, by mid month 6 out of 17 were left to do.
At the end of the month..............

  1. Continue eating our own fresh apples and fruit from the freezer so that we spend no money on fruit apart from an orange and a lemon for the Christmas cakes.✔
  2. Make a double batch of Naan bread✔
  3. Make a batch of Tomato and Herb rolls✔
  4. Do the main monthly shop✔
  5.  Sort the seed/veg plant order and make sure it is less than the £100 that it was last year.
  6. Get chicken feed on the way back from Ipswich when C has his 24 hour heart monitor fitted✔
  7. Christmas cakes to make, 1 for us and 3 small ones for gifts ✔
  8.  I need to find out what Cs Dad and Brother would like for Christmas and get them sorted     out ✔
  9. We need to clear the 2 runner bean beds and store the canes away and pick off some beans for drying.✔
  10. More clearing in the 3 poly-tunnels ✔
  11. Chop a few more sacks of kindling wood✔
  12. Clean out the empty chicken shed✔
  13. Clear a few veg beds - at least 3 ✔
  14. I want to fit in  some cycling or swimming or both for fitness
  15. Go and see the sea✔
  16. Visit charity shops in a different town✔
  17. Confirm how many people will be here on Christmas day✔

I've done a list of what we want for the seed order but I'm hanging on for one more seed catalogue to arrive to compare prices.
So that just leaves cycling or swimming - whoops!

Apart from the list above we also
  •  Hired a breaker and got the rest of the old shed base broken and rubble cleared. And thanks to help from our son we got the soil moved in to fill the hole and C leveled it.
  • Loads of good books read and another lot collected from the library van
  • Spending well down on November last year
  • We still have leeks, parsnips and Brussels sprouts in the garden for winter
  • 20/30 days were no spend days
  • Payment received for hay sold in the summer
  • Christmas present shopping started  and almost finished
  • Christmas card writing started and almost finished
  • The house has been valued and we've decided to do nothing about moving for the time being
  •  Found a way to clear out the big chicken shed between us without too much effort
  • We've been cutting wood to build up the wood store - all heating free as usual.
  • I'm now doing more driving which has built my  confidence.
  • We went quizzing after a 18th month gap since last time
  • Vegetarian recipe devised for Christmas day and a new pasty recipe tried too.
  • Opened the 5p tin and 'found' £30 for Christmas meat.
On the down side
The cat cost a small fortune
We have had so much rain, the field is waterlogged and we can't move the chicken sheds to somewhere dryer until we have a hard frost or a week of drying wind.
I've not had time for swimming or cycling for exercise ( although I have had time for blog writing....... that's odd!)

Thank you to everyone for comments over the last few days.
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Monday, 1 December 2014

Library Book Photo and Year in Books link

Here is my very last Library Book photo of 2014 because the van isn't round again until January

It's a good thing I didn't wait for the Do-Ahead Christmas book as there is nothing in it I fancy making. The Secret Life of Trees looks a bit heavy going.

 Some of the books above are crime fiction by authors I know and a few of the other books are new-to-me authors. 6th from the right - A Very Private Diary by Mary Morris is the story of a nurse training during the war. I've already started it and it looks to be a good read.

Linking in with Laura at  Circle of Pine Trees for the Year in Books
Here were the books I read or tried to read during November. Three  (Eva Dolan, Kerry Tombs and Stephen Booth) were untried authors, but I couldn't get on with any of them.
I loved House Bound by Winifred Peck, a book from the 1942 re- published in the usual grey cover of Persephone Books. The story of a well-to-do woman forced to manage without domestic help. It sounds funny to us now but back then even middle class women born in the late Victorian or Edwardian period were used to a cook and a girl domestic at the very least. Suddenly they all went off for better paid jobs in the munitions factories or joined to serve in one of the Forces.
I also enjoyed Three Houses by Angela Thirkell. First published in 1931 this is the memoirs of Angela as a child growing up and the connections with the artistic members of her family.

I will have plenty to read over the next couple of months because I still have some here from Octobers collection and I might get some for Christmas too, and then of course there are several hundred on the bookshelves if we get snowed in!

Sunday, 30 November 2014

A catch up diary post

Goodness me, I've not done a proper diary post for days.

 So what's been happening here on the Simple Suffolk Smallholding?

On Wednesday the weather was awful, rain almost all day. I baked some of Cs favourite shortcakes  to put in  the freezer and a coffee sponge. I also used up the last packet of cake mix that arrived from Approved Foods in a free Lucky Box - chocolate cup cakes - oh dear not very nice. Actually of all the cake mixes I've had cheap from AF only packets of Morrisons carrot cake were good enough to even consider buying - although I never have.
C sharpened the chainsaw - the one problem with cutting scrap wood, it's sometimes very difficult to avoid hitting a nail. Then he went and baited our neighbours rat boxes.

Thursday morning was tidying up ready for the Estate agent bloke. In the afternoon C went over to our neighbours to drain the water from her watering system which is pumped from her well, while I wrote some more Christmas cards and letters.

Friday was spent chopping kindling, bringing some more scrap wood into the wood cutting shed and then cutting it up. I biked down to the library van and collected two bags of books to last us through to January. Kate-who-had-my-goats came and collected 20 bales of hay for the girls. She's got a billy goat staying with Izzy at the moment hoping for some kids in the spring. Having a Billy there is a bit of a shock for Kate who hadn't realised just how smelly they are.

Saturday morning the wind was from the east and it was one of the rare mornings when we could hear the sea from 4 miles away. It doesn't sound whoosh, whoosh, like when you are on the beach but a constant noise a bit like a central heating system. The weather/tide conditions are only right to hear it one or two days a year.
 C wanted to clean out the small chicken shed and move it to somewhere dryer, except the tractor couldn't get a grip so the shed had to stay where it was, while we wait for a hard frost or a week of drying winds.
I got on my bike and went down to the Annual Cancer Research Christmas Fair in Knodishall.  Last year all I found was the 50p Christmas decoration which I mentioned the other day as being the most viewed post on my blog - weird. Anyway, this year I found 2 small presents, a genuine old print of Great Yarmouth in a frame, some new oven gloves, and a bundle of Christmas cards - amongst them was one for a grand-daughter!.... maybe a bit of a wait before I get to use that one and I had 5 raffle tickets, I left the tickets with my phone number on but I won't hold my breath - not a lot of chance of me winning, I NEVER win in raffles! but  I did enjoy my free mulled wine and mince pie. Total spend for my morning out £4.50.
Lots of sport for C to watch on TV in the afternoon, rugby,darts and snooker. I wrote a few more cards and put the radio on in the craft room to see how Ipswich Town FC were doing. I found they had an early kick off so the match had already finished and they had won 1-0. Good news indeed and put them up to 2nd in the Championship. The town will get a  huge boost if they manage to get promoted to the Premiership, even better news later....... Norwich lost!

Sunday dawned grey and foggy, no work planned so we went down to Aldeburgh for a walk along the beach and back through the town

 The tide was very low and just  a few people about, one man fishing and a couple dog walking. More people in town as we went back  peering in the shop windows. Mostly expensive clothes shops and art galleries for the holiday cottage owners.
We drove back through Thorpness and stopped to look in the antiques and collectibles emporium. Spending for our morning out was nothing except for the bit of diesel.
A quiet afternoon planned before a busier week next week

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Saturday, 29 November 2014

Something quite tasty

The 2 samples of the vegetable nut roast things I concocted for Christmas, came out of the freezer for dinner last night. Yummy yum yum!

Only one problem........they are HUGE!
If R, G and me have one each we might not have room for the sausages,roast potatoes, roast parsnips, carrots, peas, Brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, bread sauce and gravy! Not to mention the Chocolate Meringue Gateaux or Christmas pud.
But if we only have half each they will look a bit mean. A rethink needed maybe ramekins instead of the mini cake tins, but I'm not sure my ramekins are oven proof as they came from a charity shop (of course!)
I actually remembered to write down what I did so I can give you the recipe.

Individual nut and vegetable  roast thingys ( this made 2)
Sorry I'm still not into metric so

Some dried cranberries soaked in boiling water and cooked in the microwave for a minute or so 'til soft, then drained.

4oz carrots }   Boiled and mashed
4oz parsnip}        together with some black pepper

2oz unsalted cashew nuts whizzed in the nut chopper thing, but not too fine
3oz breadcrumbs
1 small onion                     }    chopped finely and cooked 'til soft in a teeny bit of butter in
2 smallish stalks of celery }                          the microwave

Mix the celery,onion,nuts and breadcrumbs together with a beaten egg.

Line 2 mini cake tins with parchment paper and put a layer of the nut mix in the bottom.
Press down tight.
Then a layer of parsnip/carrot mash and smooth down again
Next some cranberries
Then another layer of the nut mix.
Press down firmly again.
I used medium hot oven and cooked them for about 40 minutes until they were firm and golden.
Because I wanted to check that they froze OK I then left them to cool, popped each one still in the tins into the freezer.
They were taken out of the freezer in the morning and left to defrost in the kitchen and then reheated, with a bit of foil over the top, for about 25 minutes to serve hot for dinner.

I had thought about cheese on top but decided they didn't need it. They will be luscious with warm cranberry sauce over them.

Thank you for comments yesterday
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Friday, 28 November 2014

Answering comments

Although it was library day I'll leave that until next week because I need to reply to some comments from the last few days.

Stephanie asks about reasons why her hens are not laying at this time of year. There could be several reasons. First make sure they are not laying somewhere else other than the nest boxes. Second if they are a pure breed of hen they will go off lay as soon as the days get shorter. That's why we and other people who need eggs all year round buy hybrid birds, bred to lay all year round but with a shorter life span. Thirdly how old are the hens. The older they get the less eggs they lay especially the hybrids which will only lay for about 3 years at the most. Fourth question, what are you feeding them? Hens won't lay unless they are well fed. Proper layers pellets or mash and always clean water. If you just feed grain and grass that's not enough for them to lay except in the summer.If none of those are the reasons for them not laying then there could be something getting into the hen house such as rats which will put hens off laying and take eggs or there could be an infestation of red mite under the perches and in the nest boxes.
Other than that I have no more ideas.

Please don't take things I say too seriously. I was only joking when I moaned about the newspaper voucher info from blogging friends when we have no Aldi for 25 miles. Yes we miss out on bargains but on the other hand we are never tempted to go and shop when we don't really need too. The same for the Black Friday thing. What would be the point of us doing a 50 mile round trip to save money on something when there is nothing we need at the moment anyway.

Thanks to everyone for comments about moving/not moving. We don't intend to do anything at the moment. For one thing we have no idea where we would want to move to and I'm loathe to give up my lovely big kitchen that I've only had for 3 years and all the fruit trees until we really have to.
The Estate agents valuation being a bit vague was no surprise but it does mean we can't really work out what we could afford until the place actually goes on the market and we see what interest there is in it. I think most of the independent agents around here are used to selling unusual country properties and they have links with other independent agents in other parts of the country.
 It's just amazing that something bought for £85,000 in 1992 is now worth so much more, mind you it was one heck of a tip back then and no-one had done anything to since it was built in 1955.
Northsider Dave said " you are buying in the same market that you are selling in?". well I guess so.

Julee said Dreamies were Crack for cats which I thought  was very funny. Cats do seem to love them but the handy thing is they are teeny so  there are loads in a packet and cats only need 5 or 6 at a time. I always give Polly a few when she has come in when I've called her in.

I  Think that's it for now
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Thursday, 27 November 2014

Helping us to decide?

When C had the hardly-a-heart-attack we thought we might have to move to somewhere easier to manage sooner rather than later. We booked an Estate Agent to come and do a valuation of the smallholding to help us to decide what we  should do next.

Today he came and had a look round and told us what we already knew - that it is a very difficult house to put a value on.

If you go onto Zoopla website it will tell you what other homes in the area have sold for recently. It's no good doing that here as there is nothing like this place anywhere,  let alone in the same road.

The downside to selling here are our proximity to a Nuclear power station and the pylons on the neighbouring field. Chalet bungalows with sloping ceilings in the bedrooms will put some people off and we have no central heating.
On the other hand we have 4 bedrooms three of which are doubles, a large kitchen/family room plus a living room,dining room. office/craft room. A wet room, family bathroom and an en-suite and our heating is free.
The outside 5 acres put some people off but horsey people who want an equestrian property always want the stables, fencing and a manage already done. The buildings would be brilliant for anyone wanting  to run a small business but too big for people used to just a garden shed.  Some people might like the idea of a campsite income but others wouldn't. Our self-sufficient garden has been perfect for us but far too much work for many.

Estate agents like to know who the property is aimed at but heavens knows who would want this!

So his valuation? Anywhere between £425,000 and £475,000.
Has it helped us to decide what to do next.............No!

BTW it's really good to have all the info from blogging friends about vouchers in newspapers on days when we are not leaving the house to get a paper and not going anywhere near an Aldi which is 25 miles away!! Am I bitter? Grrrrrrr!

Also thank you to everyone for cat and Christmas card comments yesterday. Mabel was in the nest she has made herself in the haybales again this morning and when I started to stroke her she came right to me.She seems to be in good condition considering and I could have picked her up and brought her indoors but I think she would probably shoot straight out again and even though Polly and Mabel were in the same pen at the Cats Protection fosterers place I have a feeling Polly would object strongly to finding another cat in the house. Hmmm more decisions to make!

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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Christmas card writing.............already?

The weather was grey and wet and depressing yet again so I decided to put the lights on in my craft room and start writing the Christmas cards. I have a couple for overseas so need to get those posted and for 3 relatives who live in and around Ipswich I use Scout Post and they need to be done by the 10th. The 1st Ipswich Scout Group have been fundraising by delivering Christmas cards in Ipswich for years, all you have to do is pop your cards and 25p per card into the special "letterboxes" in the town centre -  I use the Oxfam Bookshop. Then between the 13th and 24th there must be dozens of Scouts and helpers popping them through letterboxes all over the town and surrounding area. I missed out doing it in 2013 because we weren't in town at the right time but C has to take the Jeep to the dealers regarding the recall notice in early December so he will drop me in town for an hour and I will drop the cards in the box.

We have a Mabel cat breakthrough. If you were reading in February you will remember we adopted two timid cats from Cats Protection. Polly soon became friendly and is now very settled but Mabel somehow managed to get out of the back door before we had started to let them out. We've been feeding her outside and often see her around the smallholding but as soon as she spotted us she would be off, she wasn't even keen on being looked at through the window. But today as I came back from collecting the eggs she was sitting on the bales in the hay shed, normally she moves away but today she let me walk right up to her and actually let me stroke her. So I came indoors and got the packet of Dreamies ( I have no idea what's in them but cats love them and now people are getting paranoid about advertising on Vlogs and blogs I have to say no-one has paid me in anyway to mention them and won't it be boring if we have to do this every time we mention a trade name!) and went back and gave her a few. Maybe she will get friendlier and want to come indoors, especially if the weather turns colder but goodness knows what Polly will say about that.

Thank you for comments yesterday about veggie Christmas meals. On the two occasions I've chosen the vegetarian option for a change when eating out with groups at Christmas, one was a goats cheese tart and was really nasty and the other was supposed to be a nut loaf but just tasted like a stuffing mix.  Fobbed off with rubbishy food is what I thought!

I must welcome Anne B and Cottage Retreatest who have started  following via Bloglovin'. Cottage Retreatest has an all singing, all dancing blog about getting out of debt. ( i.e it has features like moving pictures and twitter messages that I wouldn't have a clue about!)

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Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Family Fame and Vegetarian Christmas Fare

A week or two ago I wrote about our Archaeologist son being on local ITV news when he was showing some schoolchildren around an old WWII  airfield as part of his latest job. I tried to work out how to put the TV clip onto the blog but failed so if you want to see what the Eighth In The East Community Archeaology project is all about you can Find it here
Yesterday we found our eldest daughter was also making a tenuous claim to fame as she had put this picture on her Facebook page. This lady appears almost at the end of the full length  Lidl Christmas ad on TV  and our daughter was the print designer who designed the bird design on her blouse. I had a look and there it is on the  Phase Eight website.

  I've finally made it in TV!! Well not me exactly, just a print I designed! Look out for the lady wearing the bird print blouse at the end of the Lidl Christmas advert!!!!

Meanwhile back on the Simple Suffolk Smallholding we are not getting carried away by our children's fame and  our feet are truly on the ground .............very wet ground......... everywhere!

C had to go to the dentist this morning, then he worked in the poly-tunnels getting all the stakes that had been holding up the tomatoes, out of the tunnels. Next job will be to barrow in as much compost as possible ready for forking in.
I spent the morning playing in the kitchen; Baking bread, making a mushroom quiche and concocting a recipe for individual  nut and vegetable roasts ready for our future daughter in law R and her sister who will be here on Christmas day. I've layered a breadcrumb/cashew nut/celery/onion  mix with a parsnip/carrot mash with some cranberries in between. The mix I used today was just enough for 2 and  I cooked them until they were firm and golden. I'm going to put them in the freezer, take them out in a couple of days time and reheat with some mozzarella on top. We will have them for dinner and if they are tasty enough I shall then make more and freeze ready for the 25th. I will probably do 3 then I can have one as well, which will leave more chicken or turkey for the rest of December. R says that sometimes Christmas vegetarian meals in pubs or restaurants are just a pasta or something equally un-Christmassy, which means she misses out on the roast potatoes, Brussel sprouts and all the other things which go to make a proper Festive meal. I will also get some veggie sausages so R and G won't have to miss out my special honey and mustard glazed chipolatas which the meat eaters in the family all love.

This afternoon I shelled out the climbing French beans which have been drying in the kitchen for a few weeks. This resulted in half a jar full which will be plenty for sowing next year.

That's another November day done and dusted, we are certainly  rushing towards  December now.

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Monday, 24 November 2014

Our first frost

We had the first touch of frost of the Autumn overnight so that when I let the chickens out it was 4℃ compared to 13℃ yesterday morning. The sun was shining too which we certainly needed after all the rain.
Much too wet for working in the garden today except for getting in the rest of  tomatoes from the poly-tunnels. The red ones into the fridge and the green ones on a tray.

They will be put in the unheated dining room and will ripen gradually over the next few weeks, leaving a couple of riper ones in the tray helps the rest to turn red.
One other job done that didn't involve walking over any wet bits was to take the dead stuff off the rhubarb bed and barrow some compost all over.

C had to go to the doctors to make sure all his tablets were still doing their job so I popped into town and found a couple more gifts for Christmas. One of the things we do here is Christmas tree presents. I don't know how and where they started, but both Cs mum and my mum did them so I've carried on. It's just a little extra present to have after tea when Christmas day is almost finished. I try and find things during the year at car boot sales if possible but not much luck this year. So a trip to the hardware shop has sorted a couple of little gifts for some of the men of the family.

Thank you for comments about stats yesterday.
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Sunday, 23 November 2014

Looking at the Stats on a wet Sunday

We really are getting the worst of the weather at the moment, grey, gloomy and rain forecast for all day. Still no sign of frost and when I went out to let the chickens out just after 7 this morning it was already 13 ℃. Grass ( and weeds I guess) grow at anything over 6 ℃ but it's too wet for grass cutting.

10.30am and we've already been in the shed and cut some more wood, the pile is getting bigger, plenty to last us for several weeks.  I'm not sure we will bother with going far today,  just round the field to collect the eggs and fill up the big chicken feeder. I may wrap a few Christmas presents and start sorting the seed purchasing list which I've been talking about doing for weeks.

Every now and again I amuse myself for 10 minutes looking at the Statistics page.

I know.......... too much time on my hands!

The all time most viewed post is this one

I had no idea why this should be the most looked at, but now  I think I've found out. If you Google 50p Christmas decorations ( though why would you?) up comes my picture from the post.

Next on the list is "The truth about Country Living" from the other day and third is also from this month " Decisions,Decisions". So November must be a good month for writing popular posts but I'm sure it's not because my brain works better in November!

I see there have been 1,852 page views from Russia - goodness me, I'm glad we don't have a CCTV camera as I've heard they can look at us much more closely than I want to be looked at!

Interesting posts are looked at by between 750 and 800 on the same day but boring ones by only around 350 - 400. Extremely boring posts get less than 300 page views.How does anyone know if the post is boring or not?

Last time I filled a post by wittering on about blog stats I was getting around 1000 page views each day, now that's up to 1,500. Being a nosy old woman I would love too know how many page views YOU get each day?

Thanks for lots of nice comments yesterday.

Back Tomorrow

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Second to last- better luck next time?

For  2 years up until March 2013 we went to charity quiz nights that are held in local villages to raise money for churches etc. We were part of a team with our farmer friend and his wife M and a couple of other people. Then one night, for some reason M seemed to take offence because I volunteered to write the answers on the quiz sheet, she didn't join in the discussion over answers as usual, just whispering to her husband, it was so obvious to everyone else in the team that it was ridiculously embarrassing.
That happened to be the last quiz of the season but in autumn 2013 when the next quiz was advertised and C mentioned about quizzing they didn't seem keen. One day I happened to meet M walking her dog as I was biking home from the library van and decided to apologise for whatever I had done that had upset her. She wasn't very nice at all and said she found me really rather nasty.
After that I didn't particularly like the idea of spending an evening with her so we didn't volunteer to book a table for a quiz again. As far as I know they haven't quizzed anymore either.
But Hip Hip Hooray!  we now have two parts of our family in Suffolk, enough for a table of 6 people so I suggested a family night out at the quiz last night.
We were almost hopeless! 10th out of 11 tables.
But it was a lovely way to spend an evening with two of our children and their partners.

Heaven knows how C managed to chop our youngests bloke in half, but he hates having his photo taken anyway.

Our son and his partner stayed overnight and this morning he helped me barrow some soil down to fill the hole where the old shed base was, that was a great help as it would have taken me weeks on my own. We just got done before the rain started at 11.
Now we just need to level it out and chuck a bit of grass seed down.

We saw the first Christmas lights in someones front porch in the village last night, a wee bit early I thought. Although this afternoon at only 3 O'clock it is almost dark and we could do with Christmas lights here to cheer things up a bit.

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