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Updated: Tuesday 30 December 2014
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Hello lovely readers
Thought it was time I welcomed some new followers to the blog, so hello to
Paid in Chickens, LuvMuskHunySukl, The Vintage Kitten, MrsHippo&Me, Rupert Neil Bumfrey, Northern mum down South, Tracy @ Cardmaker's Delights, alifrew and Wendy at Blue Borage
who all follow via Google Friends Connect.and welcome to my new followers on Bloglovin'. many apologies here - I know there are lots of you who are new to the blog, but the email feed telling me about new members seems to have been turned off, so I just know I have new followers but not who - again many apologies and I am contacting Bloglovin to see what is happening.
Could I ask if maybe you could re- follow using Google Friend Connect? Then I would know for sure who you all are and could welcome you properly :)
Anyway thank you and a warm welcome to The Compost Bin.
Don't forget to enter my Blog 7th birthday giveaway by leaving a comment on the post. I will be drawing a name in the next few days :)
(Don't forget to enter my Blog 7th birthday giveaway!)
There is an interesting new project starting today on the Guardian Online website called Live Better.
Each month, it will focus on a different area of sustainability: reducing food waste, reducing energy, recycling, reusing and up-cycling, improving health and wellbeing, saving water, sourcing sustainably, and getting involved. Over the course of the project, it will also feature a Blog of the Week.
The first monthly challenge is about reducing your food waste; now as you know this is a cause dear to my heart and one I volunteer to help with by doing the Love Food Hate Waste cookery demonstrations and stalls.
On the website, there are some interesting, thought provoking articles and writer Zoe Williams has accepted the challenge to live for a week on just the contents of her store cupboards and her vegetable box. There will be regular updates on her progress and The Guardian are asking for helpful tips and ideas in the comments space below her live blog or via Twitter @Gdnlivebetter I am sure all of you reading this could offer her loads of ideas!
The challenge thrown out to the rest of us is a bit less demanding; simply click here and accept a one week challenge to not throw away any leftovers or edible food. The Guardian want us to come up with ingenious ways to use up mashed potato, to work out the correct portions so that we're not scraping plates into the bin, to eat the last slice on the loaf, or to use up that last, blackened banana in the bowl.
I have signed up as I think this is a great way to educate and inspire people to reduce their food waste. I know that lots of you already do this sort of thing every day, but a lot of people don't! I am often surprised at how many people really don't know how to minimise their food waste or use what they have bought to the fullest extent.
So please, can I ask you to visit the Guardian site and show them how we do this sort of stuff day in day out? For a lot of people it is normal life NOT to waste food; lets share our experiences and tips to help other people do the same :)The Live Better Challenge (from the Guardian website)
Welcome to the Live Better Challenge. Over the next seven months, we're going to challenge ourselves and you to live … well … better.
We all know that action on the world's looming environmental crisis needs to be taken now if issues such as climate change, loss of biodiversity and water shortages are not to reach a point where we can't turn them around – or at least dent their progress.
Action needs to be taken at every level of society, within the highest tiers of the biggest corporations and by national governments. Nothing will happen without international and national action. But let's not discount the power of individuals. One person turning their thermostat down may not amount to much by itself, but if a thousand people do the same thing, then we're getting somewhere. Individual actions brought together become collective action – and collective action can change the world.
The Live Better Challenge is all about positive action. Over the next seven months, we hope you will use this website to tell us about the projects your local community is setting up, organisations that you like, gadgets you have tried out, shortcuts you have discovered – or the plain joy of growing your own tomatoes/making three dinners out of one chicken/watching your children jump in muddy puddles. We want to share knowledge, pool ideas, and think, together, about the future.
On top of this – and starting today – we will be issuing seven monthly challenges to some of the UK's best writers and to you. Each of the challenges will be focused on an issue, such as food, waste, health, sustainable sourcing and taking political action. We'll work through the challenges, swapping and sharing tips, gossip and pictures as we muddle through together. Sometimes we'll zoom out to look at the wider picture; sometimes we'll zoom in to look at the tiny details that make it work. Welcome! Please read on ...
Don't forget to enter my Blog 7th birthday giveaway!
Hello lovely people
I have been tidying up a bit more on this blog and re reading old posts - gosh I have written a lot of stuff on here and you have all left some wonderful comments.
I have identified more posts which I think are useful or will answer questions you might have so I have added to the "How to" guides.
Just to remind you all that , just in case you didn't know, look up ^ and below the main header picture you will see a line of tabs, click on the "How to guides" tab and you will find the ( I hope!) helpful articles I have written over the years on various subjects.
At this time of year the most useful for gardeners would probably be "Things to be doing in Dec/Jan" , "things to be doing in Feb", "Starting Tomatoes, Peppers and Aubergine seeds (Feb)" and " Growing Potatoes in bags" The last one is for those with polytunnels or some sheltered indoor place - it is still a bit cold in my opinion to put potatoes outside. But if you want to try, feel free :)
There are also guides on composting (!) crafts and chicken keeping. If you find them helpful please leave a comment to let me know :)
I have been doing a bit of spring cleaning of this blog today; updating lists; making sure the review page is up to date and generally having a tidy up. One of the things I also did was to re read some of my past posts for the month of February and it was interesting to see what I was up to and thinking about several years ago.
I also realised that it is 7 years ago today that I started this blog :) Predictably my first few posts were about nest boxes, organic gardening and my local farmers market, along with photos of Compost Mansions under snow :)
There was also a post about why I am called Compostwoman, which featured Master Composting, Garden Organic and a lot of stuff about making compost :) Oh what a surprise!
And here I am, 7 years, 1290 posts and a lot of pageviews and visitors later. I am still writing about local food, organic growing, hens, compost, gardening, wildlife, teaching, crafts, food, compost, animals, renovating Compost Mansions, growing veg, daily life - not much has changed over the years (except I have got older and have more gray hairs and Compostgirl is now a teenager!)
Since I started blogging we have started keeping chickens again, we have gained and lost beloved pets and done a lot of work on the house and grounds. In the last 7 years amongst other things I have also trained as a Forest School Leader, an Adult Education Teacher, a Master Gardener, been nominated for a number of awards, become a Love Food Hate Waste cookery demonstrator and a hens@home mentor (phew, after all that training no wonder I feel so tired all the time!) All of this has allowed me to widen what I do in my volunteering roles and Environmental Education business and I hope I have helped lots of adults and children to have fun and be more sustainable in their daily lives.
I also hope I have helped some of you, readers of this blog, in some small way, with gardening, hen keeping or cooking advice or just by sharing my small triumphs and tragedies. At the very least I hope I have sometimes amused you with my antics :)
So in honour of my blogging birthday and to thank all of you, my lovely readers, I am going to have a giveaway!
Leave me a comment below and next week I will draw out a name and send who ever is drawn a little surprise present - possibly something home made, possibly something I have been sent to review but it will be nice, I promise.
After my last post I must admit I am beginning to feel cautiously optimistic that Spring might be on the way...
The snowdrops and crocii in the front garden are all blooming
As are the ones in the Wood, and the wild daffodils are beginning to open.
The Bluebell foliage is very much in evidence now and the flower buds are beginning to push up out from the stems.
I also saw my first Queen Bumblebee emerging from hibernation !
I set up my heated propagators in the porch last week and sowed the first of the tomato, pepper and aubergine seeds and they are already growing - lots of seedlings have emerged. I have also sown onion seeds along with lots of brassicas and salads.
The ground is still far too wet underfoot to venture on to the veg garden or walk on the lawns, so I can't do much about digging over flower beds or preparing the soil but at least I feel I have finally got started on the 2014 growing season.
Oh dear blogging friends I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to type those words!
It did not rain here at all, today!
And in fact, we even had SUNSHINE!
I managed to do my daily outdoor tasks in SUNSHINE. I did not have to wear a waterproof, or wellies. It was cold so I did wear lots of layers, a fleece and boots though. But I can live with that :)
The hens were able to do some sun basking :) I hung out and line dried two lots of washing, oh the smell of outdoor dried washing after several months of drying the stuff inside!
There are snowdrops and crocii blooming all over the place and I did several hours work in the garden and the polytunnel, while basking in the wonderful golden rays from the SUNSHINE.
And then, we had the most fabulous sunset :)
I feel much better about life now I have had a small taste of Spring. Please, let it come soon :)
Babs died today – she came through her moult in December, and seemed fine with a beautiful new set of glorious ginger/copper/cinnamon feathers, and she seemed in good spirits despite the horrible weather.
Babs one day after rescue. She and Bunty were in the same rescue crate together when we got them, two years ago.
A year ago.
But then Babs started looking a bit droopy a few days ago, so came inside the house for tlc and love and special treat food. She seemed ok, eating, drinking and chatting away to us and the cats. She was a little disinclined to move around though, and stayed in the cat carrier bottom, which was temporary home.
But then she finally went downhill yesterday evening and was off her legs early this morning.
So, after gently stroking her and telling her what a good hen she had been. I gave her a quick end.
Very sad, but she had two years free from the cages and had a good life here with us
RIP Babs, gone to join Bunty, Tiny, Titch and Ginger.
We had thunder, gales, rain and hail here this morning and the fields on the other side of the lane and either side of our property are flooded. Fortunately we are on a small mound well above any risk of flooding and we are lucky enough not to have rivers close by.
But the sheer volume of surface water and the saturated ground means no water is draining away. More water falling from the sky makes the situation worse.
At the moment ( late afternoon ) we just have gales and heavy rain to cope with here but the ground is awash. I just went out to shut the chickens away and even the raised veg beds are full of water!
I also just had to duck to avoid a (head height!) flying cold frame lid.
Compostgirl has made it home on the school bus, although it had to divert from the usual route due to flooding - I wonder if she will make it to school tomorrow?
The weather forecast for here is really dreadful and I suspect tomorrow will bring more flooding and damage to our area as well as further problems for the Somerset Levels and the Thames valley
- how any one can still doubt that we have affected the climate with our profligate, wasteful, polluting use of fossil fuels is beyond me...
Anyway, with all the animals fed and bedded down for the night and as much stuff tied down or put away as we could manage, we have retreated to eat food, watch TV and stay warm by the woodburner.
We also have candles, torches and the generator prepared, in case the power goes off...
Stay safe everyone. xxx
This is a really interesting and thoughtful article by George Monbiot about the issues involved with the whole " blame the lack of dredging" with respect to the current flooding situation here in the UK.
I agree with the basic argument George puts forward about tree planting absorbing loads of water in the soil , as I know it works from observing what happens here in our wood.
Go and have a read and then come back and comment on your views?
Drowning in Money
It is still very bad weather here and the South West is really getting a hammering from the rain, wind and waves. My heart goes out to all affected by these dreadful condition. We are soggy here and buffetted by storms but so far no flooding of anything which actually matters.
I just made some banana pancakes - over ripe bananas, eggs, and a tiny bit of baking powder - yummy! No flour at all. I will be adding them to my Love Food Hate Waste demo recipe list!
Compostgirl and Compostman liked them as well
How to make them
Mash up peeled ripe bananas until very smooth
whisk eggs in another bowl (two eggs to every large banana) Mix together the banana and eggs (optionally add a pinch of baking powder) and then
drop a tbs or two ( no more for each pancake) into a medium fry pan with a small amount of oil already heated. Dry frying WILL NOT WORK with this even in a non stick pan.
Gently cook until pancake is set and you can flip the pancake over without it falling to bits (!)
When other side is golden brown serve
and eat - Honey, Golden Syrup etc are lovely additions but these are seriously yum as they are.
This recipe needs to have starchy veg/fruit to substitute for the flour so I am going to try with pumpkin, tomorrow :)
I know mashed potato works and from reading on line, Plantain also works as a substitute for Banana.
A good result I think:)
Some of you may remember that I took part in a food preparation course last year. Stephen, the Council officer who manages our Master Composter scheme, had a great idea for live cookery demonstrations at events. He asked for volunteers from the existing Master Composter group, who would be willing to cook "in the field" and hand out samples of food.
Love Food Hate Waste is a campaign dear to my heart, as food waste is a major issue. We throw away 7 million tonnes of food and drink from our homes every year, the majority of which could have been eaten. It's costing us £12.5bn a year and is bad for the environment too. Some of you may remember I am also a Love Food Hate Waste advisor.
Personally speaking I HATE food waste. I think we should make the very best of all the food we grow and if we eat meat we should honour the animal who has died to give us the meat, by using all of it as much as we possibly can. I compost waste to get the maximum out of the food stuff I grow or buy, to return any left overs to improve the soil for the next season. So it stands to reason that I feel the same about cooking food - I want to get the very best out of the ingredients and make the most of any leftovers.
Anyway, several of us volunteered, and we all passed our Food Hygiene course so now there are four of us Master Composter volunteers who have done the required training and are ready to actually demonstrate various LFHW related recipes, rather than just handing out recipe cards and information.
We have been exchanging lists and emails of equipment needed and after a planning meeting with our Council contacts, purchase of a set of equipment and lots more email discussion we were ready to roll with the first cookery demo.
This took place in Hereford Library, as part of a healthy eating week. We had to provide all our own cooking equipment, and get it upstairs to the room we were in - fortunately there was a small staff kitchen area next door for washing up.
We had to set up the cooking demo and the LFHW stand between 12 and 1. Mary, Diane and I set up the tables, cooker etc and then we got on preparing the veg - the plan was to cook a simple Leek and Potato soup and hand out samples while talking through how we made it. Meanwhile Alex, Denise and Ste from the Council set up the information stand, full of good ideas on how to Love Food Hate Waste.
and then from 1 - 3 pm we three cooks demonstrated from scratch how to make soup, serving up cups of soup to the public and discussing variations on soup making - we discussed lots of ideas for using up extras and leftovers!
The first pan of soup went very quickly, so we got cracking making another pan, which was also eaten quickly :)
We handed out 25 cups of soup (compostable cups, of course!) and the LFHW stand spoke to 35 people in total. The Healthy Eating people also had an information stand (Change for Life, BHF information) and between us we handed out lots of hints and tips.
Clearing up and packing up took some time and we also discussed what extra or different equipment we would need for future events, but the general feeling was that it was well worth doing and had been a successful event. .
I think for a first attempt we did really well and we are looking forward to doing more events over the course of 2014.
I was not expecting any more deliveries so was very surprised on Fri to get a parcel from Simon the Postman, a cardboard box filled with shredded paper...
but inside these Ecover cleaning products!
Apparently I have won a Pioneer Pack of Ecover through being one of the lucky winners of an Ecover Competition.
I have used the wipes before and they are really good; I have not tried the Oven cleaner but I am sure using it will be a much more pleasant experience than some commercial oven cleaners available!
The non bio laundry gel is also a new one for me - I wonder if it is the stuff I used as part of a trial of possible new Ecover products? Anyway, it got my cotton long sleeved t shirts nice and clean.
Although notice that, as it is raining AGAIN, I have had to set up the airer in the utility room as the ceiling dolly in the kitchen could not cope with all the drying we are having to do indoors.
Oh I cannot wait for the rain to stop. But at least we are not flooding, here ( well not much) My heart goes out to all the people in the UK who are suffering terribly with floods and rain and storm damage :(
Ha ha did you get my pun in the title!?
Today was really horrible weather but the feathery ladies and the cockerel brothers needed cleaning out so, despite it being only 3 Celsius mid afternoon and pouring with rain I set to, to make them cleaner and more comfortable.
If we have animals we have to look after them, despite the horrible weather and our deep desire to just hide inside and drink hot tea and do crochet in front of the wood burner
Mud and water every where
So I togged up in waterproof coat, wellies and a lot of layers of clothes underneath. As I normally am mostly impervious to the worst the weather can throw at me and wear a t shirt and jeans in the most wet and horrible weather, this will give you an idea of howreally horrible working outside was today.
After a lot of mucking out, the contents of the hen run and hen houses were added to the compost bins
Creosote the cockerel was not impressed!
Normally I am much tidier with the bedding, but frankly in this weather I could not give a damn about spilled straw!
And the chickens were very pleased with the clean arrangements!
I have often read of other blogging friends ordering from Approved Foods and thought I would have a go as well - but it has taken me until recently for there to be anything I really wanted, to be on offer.
No fault of AP, just one of those things, but finally a day came when I checked and there was loads of stuff there which we not only use, but we were also nearly out of!
So I placed an order and a few days later was notified of the 1 hour window of delivery. As this was at a time when I was out, I altered it :) and the next day eagerly unpacked the parcel.
Lots of things we like to eat, both lots of staples and a few luxuries!
The box was a bit bashed about and sadly a few tins were very dented and two of the bags of wholefoods were split open, but a call to Approved Foods soon sorted out a refund AND an apology for something with I really do not think was their fault. So full marks for customer service AP.
I saved over £40 on this little lot, all things we eat regularly but at much lower prices than normal. And it saves food being wasted just because it is past a so called "Best Before" date
Not sure I will be ordering regularly as a lot of the food does not appeal to us, but I will keep watching as who knows when I might spot some more bargains :)
Hello and welcome to all my new followers
I know I have some new followers on Bloglovin but unfortunately I do not know a way to work out who you are? But be assured you are most welcome!
And I have a few new followers on my Google feed - thank you !
So a warm welcome all my new followers and please do comment if you like - I do try to respond and am always keen to read your comments :)
And while on the subject of Google - despite my best efforts I cannot renew the subscription for the domain for The Crafty Compostwoman blog and it will expire on 6th Feb 2014. When this happens I will lose the whole blog as it won't revert back to the free blogspot site.
So, I am going to start posting the crafting stuff on here, The Compost Bin, again rather than keeping a separate blog for it. Sorry but I can't think how else to manage it!
I have exported all the posts ( and the lovely comments) over from The Crafty Compostwoman and hopefully all will work out ok.
I will just have to remember to wash my composty hands before starting on some crafting :)
And while I am talking about crafts, here is what I have been up to with the crochet hook over the last few days
Ok did mine today, so here is the list
7 blue tits
9 great tits
8 long tail tits
6 coal tits
2 bullfinches ( eating the buds on the magnolia!)
1 song thrush
( actually loads more but they were in the ivy behind where I was watching so I couldn't count them)
1 GS woodpecker
2 Green woodpecker - wonderful exotic looking birds, we have a lot around here in the wood and garden!
I could see them bobbing around behind the fence...on the pool side.
My area for watching from the house has 2 bird tables, a couple of big oak trees, grass and hedges with ivy etc and also backs on to our little meadow with the pool ( which is full at the moment!) , so I do get some water birds as well.....
Basically we are lucky enough to own a small nature reserve here, with woodland, meadow, hedges marsh and a pool, so get a lot of different birds.
Yet more rain fell overnight - the ground is so sodden there is nowhere for it to go and we are getting flooded patches in the wood, garden and many of the raised veg beds and flower beds are under water.
Today I got on with sorting out documents to do with filing my Tax return, I have all I need to hand and am just inputting the data to the website - I think I may be owed some back tax, but am not 100% sure - we shall see.
I have also been sorting out the hours I volunteered as a Master Composter and Master Gardener, although I am very good at recording my hours I am much less good at actually sending them off to Garden Organic, and the same goes for expenses! I really must get more on top of this aspect of volunteer work.
Late morning we decided we were fed up with the rain and being indoors. We needed a few bits of shopping and had planned to go out, but rather than visit Ledbury we went to Newent for a pub lunch and a look around. Newent has some excellent charity shops as well as a couple of craft shops which I love to visit.. So after a very nice lunch, I visited The Patchwork Shop and The Wool Garden so I had a "fix" of crafty chat. I also collected some money from the sale of some stuff in The Stock Exchange ( a shop selling " pre loved" stuff - clothes, shoes, dvds, books etc), while Compostman browsed the books in the charity shops. He found an interesting History book but I found nothing I really wanted to buy(!) so I just came away with some quilting thread, bought with the money from The Stock Exchange sales :).
We returned home past very flooded fields in time to greet Compostgirl from the school bus and then after all the evening jobs were finished I settled down to some crochet, watching Big Bang Theory re runs on E4 and making some gift tags from cards.
These are from Christmas cards
And these are from "other" cards and will be good for non mid winter presents
Anyone else make their own tabs? I guess a lot of you do :)
With all the rain stopping outdoor work, I have been busy crocheting :-)
The plan is to make a "patchwork quilt" style granny square throw - joining the 9 squares together then putting a boarder around the block - then repeating the process so I end up with blocks of 9 squares joined together. There will be diagonal solid colour squares coming in from each corner of the finished throw, a very intricate square at each corner and a thick border around the whole thing.
This is the first of the "9 patch" blocks, crocheted together. it needs more blocking but it is square, honest!
These are more 9 squares waiting for me to join them together with the red yarn and add a pale green border around the block.
These are some of the other squares I have made - the purple/pink squares are for another wip - the brown/gold ones will be used in the patchwork style throw but scattered around as accent squares rather than in one block of 9 squares. The more intricate red/gold/green square is one of the corner squares I mentioned.
I am aiming for a King size throw for our bed, but maybe will make a couple of smaller ones instead - I will see how it looks when I have a few more of the patches completed. The colours are shades of golds, browns, greens, crimson, primrose and fawn from the Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino range ( love this yarn!)
I am planning on adding accent squares of solid colours as well.
I can make 3 or 4 squares an evening, while watching TV or listening to music/sitting by the fire. I weave in the ends as I go and the biggest time taker is the matching up and slip stitching together so it looks neat and tidy. That takes me an evening to do and I have to concentrate on it, not watch TV!
I work with a 4 mm hook and each square measures 12 cm after 6 rounds.
I have just added in some more shades of Autumnal colours from the latest batch of Debbie Bliss yarn, Burnt Sienna, Fudge, Apple Green, Primrose and Butter - all lovely toning shades and the effect, I think, is very pleasing :)
I didn't make it to either of the crafting sessions this week as I was working at home, but I did get to visit a lovely Yarn, Patchwork etc shop in Ledbury called Bodkins which is a treat to visit, and is run by a lovely lady, so I guess I will be visiting Ledbury more often :)
Anyone else busy crafting due to the wet weather?