10 Things That Grow In Clay And Frost.

If you’re anything like me, you love to DIY as much as possible.

Which means that growing food in difficult soil winds us up continually.

Here are 10 things that survived clay soil and frosty winters year after year here, making garden food easy to grow and maintain.

1: Potatoes.

Adored worldwide as a staple, potatoes survive almost anything. Normally by early Spring the leftovers of my Winter harvest has begun chitting (technical term here, no laughing!] and I can plant them out. But even when I didn’t my potatoes reseeded themselves from the tiny spuds left behind last year.

Literally any time a potato grows shoots, plant it out and see what happens.

Just don’t plant out chitting potatoes straight into frost. Plant out clean ones early, green ones later. The shoots can be devoured by frost and you will waste good potatoes.

2: Woody berries.

Woody berry bushes like blackberries, raspberries, currants and gooseberries all do great in our soil and even through frosts. They thrive in hedge areas.

3: Parsnips.

Our parsnips reseed themselves every year, although I will often let a single ‘snip become fully mature and harvest all the seeds to keep over Winter, to minimize crop loss. They do great and are actually tastier once the first Winter frost has nibbled them.

4: Brassicas.

Not great at reseeding themselves in our soil, but they are persistent. Still got three broccoli bushes from two years ago. They have never floured, so I never picked them, but I gather the leaves in Winter and they dutifully regrow in Spring.

5: Marjoram.

Cut back and dry out your marjoram over Winter, leave it alone over Spring and Summer to regrow. It’s a beautiful, fragrant herb that does well pretty much anywhere.

6: Strawberries.

I always thought strawberries were fickle plants that keeled over and died at nothing at all. Apparently only the leaves are. I planted our strawbs out where they can be guarded by weeds and parsnips and they are thriving. They just need a bit of foliage around them to help retain enough water, a wall against late frosts and a little sunshine and they produce berries even in the harshest soil.

7: Mint.

Mint grows everywhere and will dominate your whole garden.

8: Rhubarb.

Rhubarb is not at all hard to grow. Just make sure the roots don’t get choked by grass or weeds as they get established, pull the stems out instead of cutting them and clear up after Autumn is over. They will grow back.

9: Chives.

A little like mint, established chives will regrow year after year without a problem and slowly creep across your garden.

10: Raddishes.

Never had bad luck with raddishes anywhere. Sometimes not had particularly good luck and this soil is awful for them compared to milder, softer soils. But they still grow here. Sow them out, wait, and they will rise up for you to eat all through Summer and Autumn. They don’t really reseed, though, as we eat them before they flower.

And those are 10 plants that survive our garden. What troubles does your garden have? Got any gardening staples?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.
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5 Things To Give Up When You Feel Like Giving Up.

Some days everything gets on top of us. We’ve all been there. Maybe it’s a looming deadline with no possibility of timely completion. Maybe it’s a confusing point in a book you just can’t wrap your head around. Maybe someone has left their laundry on the stairs one too many times. Maybe you managed to break something you need and can’t readily replace. Or maybe something tiny just happened and it was the straw that broke the poor camel’s back.

Whatever it is, it makes us throw our hands in the air, roll our eyes, tug at our hair and say “That’s it, I give up!”

So, for when these days hit us and hit us hard, here are the five best things to give up when you feel like giving up.

1: Give up bad feelings.

Sometimes it’s easy to let bad feelings get the best of us, especially when we are overwhelmed. But these feelings do nothing to improve our situation. If anything, they make our lives and everyone else’s worse.

For anger: Go and do something physical to burn off the steam. Keep your thoughts in your head and work through them before bringing them up to someone else.

For despair: Go somewhere quiet and practice your breathing. Look for the good things you still have.

For guilt and blame: Ask yourself whether blaming will get you a solution. If not, accept that someone or something caused the problem and let it go. Promise yourself not to bring blame up against yourself or others in the future.

For weariness: Go and have a lie down and a hot drink. Slowly ponder solutions to your problem in a practical way.

2: Give up boredom and routine.

Sometimes we’re just caught on a hamster wheel of daily habits and we just need to get on with things. And then we get thrown off and it feels like we will never catch up.

For those days when your routine is boring you, you are getting slow and failing to meet your schedule or deadlines, call it out. Go for an extra coffee break at work. Crunch your numbers in the morning and do you emails in the afternoon. Go walking at lunch time. Put housework aside and paint for an hour.

Just push your routine aside for a bit and enjoy your day.

3: Give up bad habits.

Sometimes we are our own worst enemy. We start doing things that are directly self-sabotaging and don’t even think twice about them until the inevitable results happen and then, like a smoker struggling to breathe after a flight of stairs, we wonder why we picked up the habit to begin with.

If we are routinely running late for deadlines, perhaps we ought to reconsider our procrastination habits or accepting so much work. If we are often breaking glasses and plates, perhaps we ought to get some pretty plastic dinnerware. If we keep making ourselves ill with overwork, perhaps we ought to consider the work-illness ratio of effectiveness and take it easy once in a while.

Try and live for maximum health and mental wellbeing. Don’t let anything get in the way of that, however “important” it seems to stay busy.

4: Give up perfection.

Sometimes we get in the way of a perfectly good day by looking at five minutes of it and declaring “that wasn’t good enough”. How many times has a morning went really well only for you to break your favourite mug and declare the day ruined? If you’re anything like me… too many times. Why does that one moment have to define our days?

If something genuinely serious happens, then sure, our day is ruined. But a small issue like breaking a mug has not made our morning any less pleasant and has not set the tone for the rest of the day. Make a commitment to being happy, no matter what happens, and to letting the little things slide. When you do this your life will have a massive reduction in drama and frustration.

5: Give up fretting.

It’s a bit of a cop-out to tell a stressed person to stop being stressed. But it’s easier to stop fretting than to stop stressing, and if you leave frets behind, the stress will soon follow.

Sometimes we just let things get the better of us. This is sort of the other side to the coin of perfectionism. When you know that getting one thing “wrong” can ruin your day, you worry about making sure everything is perfect. Which means we end up stressing about problems that haven’t even happened.

When you feel like giving up, ask yourself if the day is salvageable or whether the whole world has truly ground to a halt. Generally, you will find something to enjoy from the day and something to look forward to. Push the worries out of your thoughts, tell yourself off for thinking about them and focus on actual solutions.

I guarantee you, it will feel better.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How do you deal with it when you feel like the whole day/week/year/world is ruined?

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

New Year. New Me? New Books!

Yeah, I know I missed the Christmas rush in pushing these on you poor, unsuspecting readers.

But I HAVE actually finished the two books I wanted to finish for 2015. And I HAVE published them.

So here is my first book.

On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

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Naturally all about money. From the basics to the crazy. For areas where I wasn’t sure (sizing down shirts??? MOT???) I asked friends and relatives. Everything else is me and my insane habit of never wanting to spend.

The second one?

The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide.

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For everyone who likes the idea of my sort of lifestyle, but doesn’t know how to go about it. Or for people who hate the idea of my lifestyle, but are stuck housewifing. Or for people who are single, clueless about cleaning and sick of living in filth. Just the bare-bones basics of keeping a house tidy.

Buy them, advertise them for me, send an email asking for a free copy if you know me, I don’t mind. 🙂

TTFN and Happy Reading!

5 Common Money Mistakes.

Everyone would like to save a little here and there. But some common decisions can result in you spending more money than you intended, over and over again.

1.- Using cards too much.

Cards are a very convenient way of buying things. Too convenient, if you ask me. When we use cards we’re less able to keep track of what we’ve bought. We don’t have a certain number of notes and coins to keep track of. And we’re more likely to splurge when we carry more in our accounts than we do in our pockets.

Try and leave the house always with the money you need and only bring the card out for big purchases or if you see something genuinely too cheap to pass up, that just happened not to be on your list, like a reduced price lamb’s leg.

2.- Virtual over real money.

In a similar vein, we have a hard time conceptualizing real over virtual money. We often accidentally think in terms of our net worth rather than our spending money. We think we have £400 of eBay stock on sale, so we have £400. We think our paycheck is £2000, so we have at least £24000 this year.

Any money that isn’t right now in your bank account or home is not real. That paycheck you’re getting doesn’t exist. If it’s delayed or your company goes bankrupt you might not have it for a very long time. Think in terms of what you have right now, not what you could have.

3.- Physical over virtual media.

On the other hand, we place too much value on physically possessing something. Even when that thing is not really something you hold in person. Everything from films and music to cards and guides, we like to have the thing in our hand rather than on our screen.

But most of these things can’t be used without putting them into some sort of a device anyway, degrade over time and are often more costly. Get your media cheaply, digitally and make it go much further.

4.- Not negotiating.

More a problem that Brits and some Americans suffer than anyone else, but: we just don’t negotiate! We pay fixed price for everything every time and then bemoan it when we find it half price online two days later.

A bit of a haggle is good for the soul and most things can be haggled down, especially in small stores and online shopping. Just asking for a discount via email can result in coupons and reimbursements, so don’t be scared to ask for a little off, especially on big purchases.

5.- Fallacy of sunk costs.

It’s all too easy to fall for this one. We’ve already spent so much on this renovation project, making this dress or planting the garden that we “may as well” throw another pile of money at it and try and fix it. And then we end up spending more money on our cheap way out than we would have spent buying the items anyway.

If something just isn’t working, you’ve spent twice as much on it as you would have spent on the alternative and it looks like it will still cost more, cut the costs and buy the alternative.

And those are my top five common money mistakes that we all make and that can cost us a lot over the year.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

What money mistakes do you fall for? What traps do you take pride in avoiding?

How To… prepare for a puppy.

We got a puppy just under a month ago. Her name is Lamu, after this girl. And she is adorable. But there are some things you need to do in preparation for having a puppy. Both Jon and myself have owned dogs in the past and had some idea what she would need, but for a first time dog owner, here are some preparations you will have to make.

How to prepare for a puppy.

1: Secure everything.

Puppies are like toddlers. They will knock things down, get onto furniture you didn’t think was accessible, chew and break things and dunk things in their food and water. Make sure everything valuable is well out of reach and dangerous places and breakables are secured.

2: Breed specifics.

Many people know to learn about their breed’s common ailments, but all breeds have specific behaviours too. Learn about the things your dog was bred to do, its temperament and its needs. For example, boxers are sociable, high-energy dogs that grumble and “talk” a lot. They will be boistrous and it is not necessarily out of defiance all the time.

3: Crates and beds.

For the purposes of house breaking and obedience training, it is worthwhile to raise your puppy in a nursing crate or dog cage for the first few months, until it knows not to soil the house or break into rooms where it hasn’t been invited.

4: Shopping.

Sometimes the person you are buying or adopting the dog from will give you some toys, blankets and food for them. But you will still want to buy a dry puppy food mix well in advance, as well as a couple of durable toys. Please bear in mind that whilst adult dogs can eat a wholefoods diet including raw meats, due to breeding methods and domestication puppies’ immune systems aren’t always quite as strong, so you will want to transition them from puppy food onto cooked foods and then onto raw foods if you wish to feed them that way.

5: Pee Pads.

These are a lifesaver. They smell of a dog toilet, which will encourage your pup to urinate on them. Keep them near the door so that the pup begins to associate walks with urination.

6: The house.

Depending on your dog’s temperament it will either own the place or be very shy and nervous. To keep it calm, introduce it to the house one room at a time, starting with the room where it will live. For the first few days, keep the puppy mainly to that room and only let it through occasionally. This way it will adjust better.

7: Other pets.

Introduce other pets very early and when the other pet is at their most confident and comfortable. You don’t want the puppy to think your other pets are inferior pack members or it may get snappy with them.

8: Walks and meal times.

Decide on a walk time and meal times long before you get the puppy. You want a time you can commit to, when you won’t be bothered about being woken up with barks (dogs don’t understand weekends) and when you won’t be rushing or trying to fit in other arrangements. Immediately before and after work can work very well for a walk followed by a meal.

And that is how we prepared for our new puppy.

How about you? How did you prepare for your new puppy? Feel free to offer anecdotes and advice in the comments.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

FitFriday, something Roman numerals, I need a blog accountabuddy.

Because I have seriously neglected my on-the-day posts again. Boo. 😦 Sorry.

Fitness updates:

I have kept off the fat and water weight I wanted to, but with the rising temperatures exercise has been a drag, so I’ve got lazy. Jon, as my personal trainer, is going to “sort that out”, apparently, so it seems I’m in fro some harsh workouts.

Besides that not much has changed. I’m eating corn again without issue, but the reintroduction may not be forever as Jon is allergic to it and I shouldn’t eat too many carbs anyway.

We’ve restarted work on the garden, have worked out a new plan for babymaking and have a puppy soon to arrive, so all is looking well. Which means I can afford to sit around in my almost-retro housewife dress, drinking coffee and working on books.

There's no such thing as gratuitous pictures of retro dresses. Or of this retro dress, anyway. I love this dress.

There’s no such thing as gratuitous pictures of retro dresses. Or of this retro dress, anyway. I love this dress.

At least until I remember the dusting that needs doing…

How have you been coping with your fitness goals this Summer?

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

How To… prepare a first aid kit.

This is going to be the first in six installments where I will explore six kits we could use in various situations as housekeepers. It falls on our heads to be ready for most eventualities, especially when they happen on our threshold and a small, easy to locate, well-organized, well-stocked box will really come in handy when you need to think fast and save the day!

The first kit is a first aid kit. This is an essential in any household, but few people go beyond the basic sets you can buy in the pharmacy, a box of plasters and a few painkillers. But even if you find it hard to think ahead when it comes to illness and injury, there are some simple measures you can take to make an awesome first aid kit.

1: The container.

The first step is to prepare a suitably sized container for your kit. None of that tiny, easy, cutesy nonsense. That was fine for your first scout camp, but when you have a real problem on your hands, you need to be well stocked. We actually have an entire shelf in a cupboard dedicated to our first aid gear. That’s how big we’re talking. You will want to stockpile the basics and be storing heavy-duty things, like heatable and coolable packs, compresses and emergency surgery kits. You need the space.

If you can’t take over a cupboard, consider a child’s suitcase, a storage box or even assorted tupperware boxes, all properly marked and organized, of course.

2: The grab-bag.

But what about those times when you need something soon or often? For that we will create a mini-kit, a grab-bag of assorted items you may need in a pinch. This should be the size of your standard household first aid tin or small lunch bag.

It will contain antiseptic wipes and/or spray, a small selection of plasters and sticky bandages, a nail kit and anything else you may need suddenly or urgently, such as an adrenaline shot if your daughter is seriously allergic to beestings.

3: Basics.

The basics are what we first think of when we talk about first aid. You will want two stashes of these: a stockpile in the main cupboard/container and a small selection in your grab bag.

Antiseptics. For any small cuts or animal bites.

A nail repair kit. Tweezers, nail file, small scissors and clippers. All very useful in the event of torn or damaged skin or nails.

-Simple painkiller. Paracetamol is wiser, as too much aspirin is a blood-thinner. But do make sure to have a selection.

Plasters. Everything from those tiny dots to a huge roll of plaster tissue.

-Sticky bandages. For more serious cuts than plasters can help with.

And those are your bare essentials.

4: Cold and Flu.

Colds and flus are inevitable. Sure, if you look after yourself you may get to a point where you get one a year and all it feels like is a stuffy nose, or even where you don’t get ill. But not everyone will or can get their immune system that strong and these people wander in and out of your life and home fairly regularly. Therefore, we need to be stocked in case of cold and flu.

-Congestion relief. Inhalers are very good, but nasal sprays can also help.

-Throat relief. Soothers and cough syrup.

Vapor rub. Good for handkerchief rubbing and for little ones with blocked sinuses.

Spare packs of tissues. Nobody ever has enough.

Vitamin chewies. To help prevent them from catching anything else whilst they recover.

5: Sports.

Again, you may be one of the least physically active people in the world and still get tennis elbow. And others around you will almost certainly get sprains, tears and twists even when you don’t. So you will need to be prepared for them.

Freezable pack. This could be as simple as that sponge-in-a-Ziploc trick or even a camping freeze bag.

Warmable pack. Rice bags are really easy to make and helpful.

Cool and heat sprays. For instant relief.

-Compress bandages. Usually just two long ones are enough, but you may want a specialized knee, ankle and wrist one too.

Ibuprofen gel. For swelling and pain.

Rehydration salts. Great for recovery, also usable in cases of extreme enteritis.

6: Bandaging.

Anyone can get cut or injured. Anyone can fall over, have a piece of furniture land on their foot or be bitten by a large animal. So bandaging gear is an essential.

Simple sterile gauze. These bandages come in little sterile packets and are very useful.

Bandaging. These come in rolls and are used for compressing wounds or broken parts into place.

Butterfly stitches. Little sticky stitches, good for holding things together as a temporary fix.

-Sewing kit. Sterile needle, proper thread, sterile tweezers and scissors.

Dissection kit. Sterile scalpel, tweezers, scissors, etc. Good for cleaning up messy wounds before bandaging or stitching and removing glass or deep splinters.

7: Epipens.

If you or a member of your household has a serious allergy, you will probably have an epipen anyway. These are measured adrenaline shots to keep people alive through an allergic reaction.

But as long as you know someone who has a serious allergy, it may be best to keep an appropriate epipen at hand at all times, just in case. Be warned, they expire. So keep an eye on them.

8: Gadgets.

Anything technological that may need batteries recharged, to be kept dry and safe or replaced after a few years.

-Assorted thermometers. Oral, ear, rectal, baby.

-Massager. A godsend when you need one. Just get something simple, like those insect-like ones.

Blood pressure monitor.

Blood glucose checker and strips.

9: Specials.

These are assorted items you will use rarely and that aren’t part of a treatment program, but that it’s best to keep in the back of your kit, just in case.

-Heavy duty painkillers. Codeine, for example.

-Headlice killers.

-Worming pills.

-Something to induce vomiting. When you need someone to vomit, this is vital.

-Fire blanket and burn cream.

10: Personals.

Anything you need that other people may not. Have a look at whatever illnesses or disorders run in the family. Some homes may need a defibrillator, some may need omega oils, some may need a couple of epipens handy. Make sure you have everything you need and put it into the right area.

11: Information.

All the literature you might need. I’d recommend a clipboard with a sheet of expiry dates for easy access, a first aid book for all emergencies and any books on the local wildlife and what may be poisonous where you live.

Once you have collected all of this, be sure to keep it organized. Tupperware boxes or makeup bags make great mini-kits, so that all your bandaging, painkillers or flu treatments are together. When you use it, make sure to put everything back where it came from and make note when something needs replacing or restocking.

And that is your first kit! Be sure to check in next week to find out how to design a kit for when you are depressed or otherwise “down”.

Until then, feel free to share your suggestions for the kit in the comments!

TTFN and Happy Hunting!