Thursday, June 22, 2017

New Podcast & Yarns!

Hello Lovelies, we have been having the most amazing summer weather of late. Long, hot days, wild swimming, and BBQs have been filling our days over the past week. Today cooler temperatures have returned and I have to say that there is some relief in that.

I have finally managed to find some time to put together a podcast. Editing was a bit of an issue this time round as I had to edit on YouTube Editor which is limited at best. There were things I wanted to do that I couldn't but at least I managed to get in a bit of chit-chat with you 😊

I have also added some new yarns to my shop so if you are a knitter/crocheter then clip on the shop tab at the top of this page to see what I've listed.

Have a lovely Thursday everyone, see you back here very soon.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Day in June

June is such a lovely month in England, summer creeps in and clothes the countryside is in all its lush glory.

Wildflowers like foxgloves, cow parsley, buttercups, common daisy, common vetch and birdsfoot trefoil grow in abundance everywhere you look.

The bees are in their element with all this abundant food and that makes me happy to see.

On Monday I took a walk along the country lanes in my neighbourhood. I came across this adorable little wild strawberry growing happily in a stone wall.

Peeking over the wall we see a lovely orchard and a rather nice house that I wouldn't mind living in!

The hedgerows are full of blackberry flowers, come autumn there will be an abundance of fruit to forage.

Leaving the lane I take a woodland path, weaving my way down to the river. I love it down here, it's peaceful, tranquil and cool on these warm summer days.

On my way home I can't resist picking some wildflowers. There is something about a wildflower bouquet's untidiness that makes it perfectly beautiful.

A Day In June
From the Vision of Sir Launfal
James Russell Lowell

And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries earth if it be in tune,
And over it softly her warm ear lays;
Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten;
Every clod feels a stir of might,
An instinct within it that reaches and towers,
And, groping blindly above it for light,
Climbs to a soul in grass and flowers.

Wishing you all a wonderful Thursday 😊

Monday, June 12, 2017

Storing Summer's Bounty

Being a natural born home-keeper, I love the opportunity to potter about my home making it a haven and spending time in the kitchen creating delicious nourishing food for my family. These summer months are wonderful because I have the opportunity of preserving fruits in season and foraging the hedgerows. I love to do this so that we have a taste of summer when the winter months arrive.

So here's what's been happening in my kitchen over the past two weeks. Firstly it's Elderflower season! For about a week before I finally managed to gather some flower heads, I was 'rubber-necking' every elderflower shrub I saw as I was driving about, making mental notes on which were the best shrubs to harvest from (I'm keeping that mental note for the berries later on in the year). When harvesting elderflower heads, you want to find a shrub that's as far away from car fumes as possible, so those flower heads you see along the main highways and byways - avoid them if you can.

I found some lovely flower heads next to the country farm shop where my daughter works her part-time job. I used this recipe for this year's cordial.

Instead of bottling it as I have done over the years, I decided to try something new. 

I froze the cordial in ice-cube trays, this way you only need to pop two frozen blocks into a glass of sparkling water or even into a wine spritzer. This way we avoid the cordial going bad if it's not consumed quickly enough. 

At this time of year, it's always good to keep your eye out for trays of soft fruits in the grocery store. Last week it was trays of cherries and punnets of apricots, this week trays of strawberries, all for rock bottom prices. 

I used this recipe for my cherry jam, then used the same recipe for my strawberry and apricot brandy jam obviously just substituting strawberries and apricots for the cherries and adding a dash of brandy to the apricot jam just before canning. I managed to get 3 X 250ml  from 750g of each fruit respectively. 

I'm thinking that my homemade jam would be a wonderful addition to our Devon cream teas or on hot, buttery toast on a crisp winters morning. Delish!

So, do you take advantage of summer's bounty in any way? 

This post has been shared over at Strangers & Pilgrims Art of Homemaking Mondays link up.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Kitchen & Garden Comforts

It's been a funny old week. We started off with storms...

and we have finished off with spells of sunshine.

We've had a general election that didn't quite work out the way our governing party thought it would and it seems that our country is once again dealing with uncertainty and change. I think most of us are rather weary of it all and wish that the powers-that-be would just get on with it.

So what do you do when you are feeling antsy due to external circumstances that you cannot control? I chose to indulge in some simple activities that help to centre my heart on my home today.

I spent most of the morning canning gluts of cherries, strawberries and apricots - a post to follow on that.

Baked some bread - I do this a couple of times a week, the smell of proving and baking bread are so comforting.

I took a few moments to sit outside, watching the bumble bees going about their business, oblivious to the craziness of the world's happenings.

And enjoyed watching my kitty being completely adorable 😊

So after a day spent on activities that are focused on the heart of my home and shutting out the noise of the media, I'm feeling much better. What do you do to find peace and comfort when the world seems to be out of control?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Revamping my Envelope Budgeting System

We've always had a budget and we have had varying degrees of success in sticking to it. However, recently, I have found that my system no longer seems to be working for me and that a bit of adjustment is necessary in order to maintain a healthy financial management system.

As in our homeschool and my home keeping, I find that what worked for me in the beginning, might not work for me in my current season in life and thus a trip back to the drawing board might be necessary. 

In going through this process in re-looking at how I budget I realised that the reason my system was no longer working is that I had allowed myself to drift off into the lake of complacency. My system worked, so I set aside all my 'controls' and allowed myself to go with the flow. Fortunately, being the one who keeps an eye on how things run I was able to pick up fairly quickly the error of my ways and get this side of running a home back on track.

Today I want to show you my age-old system that's been given a bit of a 'spring clean'.

I have always used the envelope system for my housekeeping expenses. I'm sure you know how it works, when you get your paycheck you draw out your budgeted housekeeping, divide it equally over the weeks in the month, then put that weeks' money in your wallet leaving the rest at home. 

So that has worked fairly well for the most part BUT... I hit a few snags. First, sometimes I would forget to put the weeks' money in my wallet, get to the store, do my shop and the realise my mistake when I got to the checkout. So I would pull out my debit card silently resolving to deposit that money from my cash at home. Well... that didn't always happen. As a result, I had an overspend which affected the overall budget.

Secondly, other budgeted amounts - like family entertainment and fuel - were left in the account. As you know it is way easier to pull out your debit card to pay and overrun your budgeted amount - again affecting the overall budget. 

Now I really like my envelope system - it works, but I needed to take it one step further.

Step 1 - Determine what envelopes I need

I re-looked at what envelopes I had, if they still served the purpose and whether some needed retiring or new ones implemented. Here's what I came up with:

I needed 4 envelopes for my housekeeping, one for each week of the month, the last week's envelope will have a slightly higher proportion of money because it covers that extra couple of days leading up to the 30th or 31st.

I needed one envelope for our family entertainment - this is no longer left in the account. It's drawn out and when it's gone it's gone.

One envelope for Car Maintenance - I realised that I never actually put money for our car services etc. I just left it and assumed that it would come out of 'disposable', but from what I can understand from what I've read about the David Ramsey's financial budgeting method is that this is not good enough - you actually have to take that money out whether physically or transferring it into a specific savings account set aside for that. 

I have also decided to start saving, making, buying for Christmas early this year so I have an envelope for that too. After all - Christmas is not a surprise, it comes around every year and we should plan for that to avoid going into debt.

**I've actually ordered David Ramsey's 'Total Money Makeover' book and I am excited to learn more about his money makeover advice. I'm sure that this will call for a further financial makeover later this year.

Finally, I have an envelope for my fuel money.

Step 2 - Making the Envelopes

I found a great free template from the blog My Life All In One Place. I downloaded the free envelope template, then traced it out on pretty card stock because I want them to be durable and last a while. Next, I made some pretty labels for each envelope, I used the Graphics Fairy  free images for some of them.

Step 3 - The Working Wallet

Now this bit was the really important 'working' bit. I needed something that could house the housekeeping, entertainment, and fuel envelopes. The other envelopes will be stuffed at the beginning of each month and stored in the safe.

Enter my Filofax Pennybridge Compact Organiser - pictured in all these photographs.

I have used the Pennybridge Filofax as my wallet for over a year now, it has space for all my store loyalty cards, coins and those handy rings which I was under-utilising. Now the envelopes with the money I need are on those rings so I shall never have the excuse that I left an envelope at home again 😊.

The wallet is not bulky or heavy - an important consideration when you have to lug it about with you. It also has a zipper which means all is kept safe and contained in a neat and orderly fashion - music to my heart.

So there we have it - the envelope budgeting system just got itself an overhaul and I have to say...I'm rather pleased with how it turned out. 

This post has been shared with The Art of Home-making Mondays at Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth.