It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Well, it is at mine anyway! I can never resist getting my Christmas decs out early so I can bask in the glow of fairy lights on dark December days. We've gone for a different set up this year, with little trees instead of the big one, but our traditional Christmas tat is out too! Here's a little peek,
Friday, 8 December 2017
Friday, 1 December 2017
Here's what I've been reading in the last couple of months,
A Change is Gonna Come - Various authors
This is an anthology of short stories and poems by Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic writers, and it's part of my attempt to read more diverse authors. As with most collections of short stories, I loved some and some weren't for me!
Optimists Die First - Susin Nielsen
Do you like books about crafts and cats and cat videos? Then you'll like this. It's also quite sad, because it's about a group of teens dealing with various tragedies, traumas and mental health issues. Pretty much all the reviews I've read about this book have questioned the mix of comedy or whimsy and tragedy, and suggested the issues were treated too lightly, but I thought it was just right and I really enjoyed it.
Some Girls Bite - Chloe Neill
I've started this new vampire series and I'm on the third book already. Merit is a super strong new vamp, former graduate student, joining Chicago's vampire community. There's Always some will-they-won't-they sexy vampire drama in all these urban fantasy type books that I'm getting quite bored of, but I'm otherwise enjoying making my way through this series.
It Only Happens in the Movies - Holly Bourne
I love Holly Bourne. And I really liked this romance story that calls into question the themes of typical romance stories. Also, there's feminism and zombies.
The Hate You Give - Angie Thomas
Oof - this was a powerful read. I wasn't sure when I first started reading this if I would like it, but I'm so glad I persevered (despite the fact I had several graphic nightmares about shootings - I should learn not to read this kind of book at bedtime!). It had me sobbing by the last page. That it's based on the Black Lives Matter movement makes it an even more important and affecting read.
The Roanoke Girls - Amy Engel
All the Roanoke Girls have died or run away, only Lane and Allegra remain. This is creepy, I thought the reason why the girls dissapeared might be magical, but it isn't, it's revealed pretty soon in the book that the thing you fear is in fact true but I had to keep reading to make sure the girls would be ok at the end. This book has been haunting me.
The Babysitter's Club - Dawn and the Impossible Three - Ann M. Martin and Gale Galligan
I like these graphic novel versions of the BSC for nostalgic reasons. This one has a new illustrator, who I don't like so much as Rania Telgemister who illustrated the first 4 BSC graphic novels.
I am Bat - Morag Hood
This is a children's book, but I love it! If you have children, or are a child at heart like me, then you should definitely read it.
What have you been reading? I'm trying to read by more diverse authors, but I've realised that I rarely read books written by men, so I'd love it if you could recommend me some awesome books written by men?! I'm already on the library waiting list for the new Phillip Pullman book!
Friday, 24 November 2017
It is coooold, so not much gardening has been going on!
As you can see the garden is looking very autumnal at the moment, the big tree at the back has dropped all it's leaves in my garden, which is it's wont every year.
I appreciate the leaves and scoop them up to mulch any bare soil in the garden, to protect it over the winter. I tried to make leaf mould one year, but the bags I filled with leaves also filled up with slugs, and there's one bag which I still haven't been brave enough to open that makes an alarming buzzing noise every time I touch it! So I do this more direct method instead, from what I've read about permaculture and forest gardening it's good, and replicates natural systems, and it's a lot easier too!
I finally dug the worst of the huge fuchsia roots out from the side garden, and planted my new apple tree. Luckily most of my garden is raised up a foot and a half, so the soil is still quite warm and hasn't really suffered from ground frost yet. I planted a bay tree I've had in a pot for a few years too. This is my attempt at a really simple guild - a permaculture idea, where lots of plants work together - round my apple tree there's red clover for nitrogen fixing, curry plant for stinky herbyness to keep pests away, creeping Jenny for ground cover to protect soil and keep weeds away, and I planted bulbs too for pretty flowers.
I've been looking out for an acorn to plant, and I found one on Bonfire night, at the cricket club where I used to go to see fireworks when I was a little girl. I hope it grows. I'm still struck by all the beautiful oaks we saw when we visited the Centre for Alternative Technology in May.
I bought this pretty copper forget me not as a memorial for the pregnancy we lost last year. It seemed fitting and forget me not's are my favourite flower.
In terms of veg, I still have some carrots in the ground waiting for me to pull up, and I've actually managed to grow a tiny kale plant! They've been eaten by slugs every year before - thank goodness for raised beds they seem to be a lot better! I hope it'll last trough winter and continue growing next year.
I've popped my cut and come again cauliflower plantlets in the cold frame for now. I'm not sure if that's the right thing to do with them, but ones already died (it wasn't in a good state when it got to me in the post!) and I don't want to risk the other! Please ignore/excuse my messy greenhouse - thanks!
This little calendula is still flowering!
How's your garden this month?
Tuesday, 21 November 2017
Here are a few easy online actions and interesting articles to make the world a better, greener, happier, place,
How much waste are meal subscription boxes creating?
I love this list of resources for solutions to plastic pollution from the fab blog Treading my own Path.
This tropical reforestation project in the Brazilian Amazon aims to plant 73 million trees to help fight climate change.
photo via The Guardian
Morrisons is going to start selling 'wonky' pomegranates, and Tesco green satsumas, which is great news for food waste!
Environmentalists are usually thought of as folks who are trying to stop something: a destructive dam, an oil export terminal, a risky pipeline. But when it comes to housing, new-school environmentalists...understand that it’s necessary to support things, too. To meet California’s ambitious goals to cut pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, regulators say the state must build dense, walkable neighbourhoods that allow people to ditch their cars.
quote via grist.org
I thought this article about how housing development and environmentalism overlap was really interesting.
How to be kind online - especially when dealing with differing opinions expressed on social media.
photo via foe.co.uk
Use Friends of the Earth's online form to ask your MP to protect EU environment laws after Brexit.
And finally, 16 things that prove the world is getting better, not worse!
Friday, 17 November 2017
We've been looking for an organic veg option for a while, I don't get many crops from my garden during the winter, and the organic stall has disappeared from my local market. We've tried the Morrisons organic veg box, but I think we've settled on Abel and Cole's weekly organic veg boxes for now.
This is what we got in our first few boxes,
We went for a medium mixed box to start with, this costs £19.95 but we had a super special offer for 50% off our 1st and 4th boxes, so we actually paid £9.98 plus the £1.25 for postage. This is a bigger box than we would go for usually, but we were cheekily making the most of the 50% off!
The box contains 3 fruits and 6 veggies, our box had,
5 big bananas, 6 apples and a box of red grapes. A paper bag with 9 potatoes of various shapes and sizes, a bag of 9 carrots, 4 white onions, 3 big vine tomatoes, 3 huge portobello mushrooms, a cauliflower.
Opening the box was like Christmas and all the produce was beautiful and fresh and exciting! Only two little niggles with the produce, one of the bananas was split and one of the potatoes had a green bit, but nothing that we were particularly bothered about. I don't like the plastic boxes the grapes, mushrooms and tomatoes came in either - surely they could use cardboard ones instead!
We got a free cookbook too.
We went for the small mixed box this time, which costs £14.25 gives you 3 fruits and 5 veggies, it contained,
4 big bananas, 5 apples, 6 clementines, 2 corn on the cobs, a red pepper, a punnet of mushrooms, a punnet of cherry tomatoes, a bunch of kale.
Although it wasn't as exciting to open the smaller box, I do think this amount of fruit and veg is more manageable for my two person household to eat in a week. Usually the box comes with potatoes, but I swapped them out for a pepper because we still had loads of potatoes left over from the Morrisons organic veg box. Again the produce was lovely and fresh and we were excited to eat it!
We had the small mixed box again, this time it contained,
4 bananas, 9 apples (a double portion of apples), a bag of 7 potatoes, a red pepper, 3 big leeks, 5 medium size chestnut mushrooms, a bag of corn salad.
Again, everything was nice and fresh, although I could have done with a few more potatoes in my bag!
Ok, I'll admit that we went too far with this one! To make the most of the 50% off the 4th box offer I bought the large mixed box, which is usually £27.50, but we only paid £13.75 plus postage.
Inside the (huge) box was,
6 bananas,7 apples, 7 mandarins, 4 baking potatoes, a bag of 10 potatoes of various sizes, 2 broccolis, a cauliflower, 5 tomatoes, 12 mushrooms, 4 corn on the cob and a bag of salad.
I guess the portion sizes are bigger in the bigger boxes as well as you getting a larger selection of items. Luckily, Abel and Cole boxes are really flexible, so I skipped the next week's box to give us enough time to eat all this veg.
I made a couple of extra purchases from the Abel and Cole shop too, some organic pumpkin seeds and garlic.
Overall, I've been super happy with the quality of the fruit and veg in the boxes, everything is fresh and it feels like a real treat to eat. I love the convenience of having it delivered too, I don't have to go to the market, or try to find organic in the supermarket. It's nice that the boxes are flexible too, you can skip weeks, and check the website to see what's in your box in advance -and swap out anything icky like parsnips or butternut squash! I wish there was less plastic packaging on some of the things, but I suppose there's less plastic than if I'd bought my veg pre-packaged from the supermarket.
If you fancy trying Abel and Cole for yourself feel free to use the code below to get £20 off your first order (and I'll get £20 credit too!).
Can you recommend any other organic veg boxes for us to try?
Friday, 10 November 2017
It's never too early to buy Christmas decorations, right?
I had to buy a huge bag of ugly modern baubles to get these retro Christmas decorations. I couldn't resist though, the whole bag cost a pound and I'll donate the rest of the baubles back to the charity shop!
Retro Santa and snowman Christmas decorations, £1, local Salvation Army charity shop.
Both of these brooches are from Ebay. The owl is sterling silver and turquoise, and the hedgehog is just shiny and cute!
Brooches, £1 each, Ebay.
Yellow salad spinner, a lovely second hand gift.
I couldn't resist this knitted blanket, it's huge,a bit knobbly bobbly and all of the colours! It's massive too, I don't have anywhere big enough to take a photo if it in it's entirety.
Huge Weasley blanket, £6, local Salvation Army charity shop.
Have you had any luck in the charity shops lately?
P.S. Check out my other charity shop posts for more!
Tuesday, 31 October 2017
I've still had a few little bits and bobs to eat out of the garden this month!
I was really pleased with my little cabbage! It's so cute!
Still getting loads of raspberries too, they're nearly finished now.
I picked all these beans too! The variety is Lazy Housewife Bean from Real Seeds, I was really excited because there are loads of lovely fat beans on just three plants, but actually I don't like the taste of them. I made them into falafels though. I've probably got the same amount again still to pick - more falafels for me and I'll grow a different variety next year!
My chilli plant has made it's first chilli too. I'm planning on overwintering the plant so it can carry on next year, although it still has some flowers now.
How are your gardens? Are you harvesting anything exciting?
Sunday, 29 October 2017
Saturday 28th was October's photo an hour day, here are my photos.
Photo an hour in organised by Jane and Louisa, anyone can join in and post their hourly photos on social media throughout the day tagging them #photoanhour. Why don't you join in next time?
9am - Setting off for work a bit earlier than usual, it was the day of the library book sale and I was on setting up duty.
10am - Voila! Here is the library book sale, just waiting for some customers.
1pm - That was a busy morning at work, but I'm pleased with my £1 bargain book sale purchase of Terence Conran's House Book. This is an eighties edition, I had the seventies one and it was much better but I gave it away (whyyy!).
2pm - There's nothing like a child's dinner after a busy morning.
3pm - I wanted to do some gardening but it was so cold, so instead I'm re-watching That Seventies Show on Netflix. I haven't seen it since it was originally shown on TV, it's so good and I love the costumes and sets.
4pm - Got the washing on.
5pm - What a grey day!
6pm - Joe got home from work and finished off making his Lego Ecto One and now it's in pride of place on the book shelves.
8pm - Here I am, looking very grumpy and serious as I'd just woken up from a nap! I got about 4 hours sleep on Friday night and was completely knackered. #bedhead
9pm - I lit some cute little Halloween candles and cosied up for the night.
Friday, 27 October 2017
There's been some really very lovely sunshiney days this month, but it's definitely feeling more autumnal.
Look at these lovely berries,
I'm really pleased with the growth of the hedge in the front garden - look it nearly covers that annoying van, and the silver car that keep parking outside my house (even though they have their own drives, grumble grumble). At least they're not as bad as the blue car that frequently parks over our driveway. Sigh. These are grown up problems indeed. I know we don't have a car but we would actually like access to our own drive to, you know, actually walk up to our house!
'Scuse the state of the front garden, we're going to re-gravel it and move things about, but until then I've let it get a bit feral. Look at all those strawberry runners rooting themselves in the gravel.
I've planted loads of new things in the back garden. I'm not sure if you can quite make them out, but there's a new tall yellow plant, smoke plant, almond tree and my bin of blackberries in this bit of garden.
I thought the bin would match the metal raised beds, and it was also a cheap option to contain the thornless blackberries. I do not want a repeat of the raspberry situation I've currently got going on - they're sending out runners everywhere!
I put an olla in the bin - I'm not sure if the metal of the bin will mean the soil will get hot and dry out in the summer or if it'll be ok here in the shade of the wall. I've mulched it with leaves too and added a stepping stone so I can get to it without stomping all over the soil. On the right of the bin I've planted an angelica and transplanted a self seeded hypericum.
I'm really happy the late sowing of borlotto beans I did have fruited - I'm just leaving them a little longer to fatten up.
I don't know if I planted this sweetcorn too late for it to do sweetcorns before it gets frosty - fingers crossed!
For some reason I still have strawberries coming. This is climate change everybody.
I'm in the process of digging up the huge fuchsia down the side of the house. Every year I cut it back and it comes back bigger and bigger and it's blocking the path. The roots are proving tricky, but there's lots of space now it's nearly gone and I'm going to plant an apple tree in it's place.
I've planted my new blackcurrant bush at the back of the garden and my hazel trees are lurking at the back there, I'm still trying to decide the perfect position for them.
I made a 'water feature' with the bin lid (from my blackberry bin), it's just upturned and buried, filled with stones and water. I've yet to see any birds use it for a bath like they do my washing up bowl pond, but maybe a toad will visit in spring! It's not the prettiest thing, but it was free and it brings in another habitat to the garden too.
Here's my little robin friend, he's getting stupidly tame, as soon as I take my root off the spade he's hopping about on the blade!
I just love the colours and the leaves and the berries and the flowers this time of year!
How's your garden this month?