About this blog

My photo
Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Saturday, 31 December 2011

A year in pictures

Inspired by The Inelegant Gardener, here's my year in pictures (though I'm not disciplined enough to restrict myself to one picture per month, so this might take a while to load).


I made marmalade

and learned to knit


I planned the garden

and was delighted by early signs of spring colour

I picked wild food

and did lots of digging

I got the hang of knooking (with dirty fingers)

and saw burnt gorse seen on a coastal walk


More digging

Experiments with home made soap (very successful)
and laundry gloop (less so)

Attempting to tap a birch tree for sap

A wonky baby blanket

Many seedlings

Starting to make a camera bag.
Um... must get back to that project at some point


I made baked beans

and picked many dandelions, most of which subsequently went mouldy

Things grew, slowly

and the cherry blossom was very pretty.


The first major work of the heating project:
Opening up the fireplace and laying a hearth.

Mushrooms - probably morels - in the store room

I found sorrel, but not wild garlic

I collected oak leaves to make wine and cordial

did battle with monster slugs

made wild green pies

and showed you around the village


I made elderflower champagne

and brown bread ice cream

The blackcurrant harvest began

I learnt to make socks!
(People have found this blog with an image search for Mature women wearing socks. Do you find that a bit disturbing?)

I cleared space for my tomatoes in the conservatory

I took a class in spinning

and knitted the wool with broom handles


I made blackcurrant ice cream

and insect repellant (from a plant that I thought was wormwood,
but turns out to be southernwood)

and soap (from lard rendered from bacon rinds)

and cakes, with more blackcurrants.

The potatoes got blight

but nonetheless yielded a good harvest (this is just a small part of the total crop)

The store room shelves collapsed

and I started harvesting the peas.


Slugs ate my cabbages

as well as pumpkins, carrots, and even onions.

My dad came to stay and we converted my sewing machine
to run on treadle power

I made baguettes

started harvesting runner beans

and saw a fabulous caterpillar on the crocosmia.


I made a party dress with my treadle powered sewing machine

picked bilberries

and field mushrooms.

I made chips

and fruit leather

and admired the sunrise.


I made sponge pudding

and considered the merits of different types of light bulbs.

In fact, I was very busy laying new floors during October, which is why not many blog posts were written.


I attempted to declutter

and wrote about the planning stage of the heating project.

Some of this month's blogging was catch-up on the heating project.

We replaced most of the floors in the house with underfloor heating panels

removed (suspected) asbestos tiles from the garage ceiling

and had the rest of the heating system installed professionally.

I made sloe wine

and croissants

which we enjoyed in front of our newly-installed stove on Christmas morning
(the croissants, that is. The wine was for later)

and the gardening year has already started, far too soon, as my seeds got wet and needed urgent attention.


  1. Wow! The mature women wearing socks thing is indeed disturbing!

    I'm so totally impressed by all of your accomplishments (I still want to try making soap if I can get past my fear of lye). I'm also struck by what how gardening is so different in different places, especially the timing of things. Makes me think that I can never move or else I'd have to re-learn everything from scratch!

    Here's wishing you a very happy 2012!


  2. Hi Rachel, sorry it's been a while since I came to visit your blog.

    This is a lovely montage of photos. I'm very glad most of all to see your new stove and heating system installed - you were working hard at that!

    You mentioned me in your declutter post and mostly I made good on the decision to organise things. The other thing is to find a way to use everything at least once, or throw it out.

    Funnily enough the same day I threw an old tape roll out I saw a blog using one to make a charming ornament. My mind went: See, I told you so. Haha.

    I'm a starting my blog again today and this post is an inspiration to have just as much to show for the coming year.

    As for the socks, I found them by looking for "Knooking" and am still making knooks, now using scraps from a Woodworking company, that's oddly enough in walking distance of my house. It's much harder than bamboo, but of course, I forgot to ask if it's mahogany or not. Hee hee. I'll keep you posted.

    However, I'll go for now. Hope you have good Holidays and are having fun or at least taking a rest, for this 1st day of the New Year.

    Cheers and hugs.

  3. Hi Cat (that's so much better than ECL as a nickname),

    I tempted to ask you about the differences in gardening where you are, but I'll resist because I'd just get confused if you told me. So far I know that you don't have slugs, but you do have apocalyptic hailstorms. It makes the Welsh weather (a mixture of mist, drizzle and rain without let-up for at least the last two weeks) seem positively benign.

    Hi Dana,

    Don't worry, you didn't miss much! Mostly I've been failing to write about the rest of the heating project. I took a break from both working on it and writing about it over the Christmas period, which is kind of over now, so I should be getting back to that soon...

    Oh yes, that "Told you so" moment after you've thrown something out - I know it well!

    I look forward to reading about your new knooks, and whatever else you fancy writing about, on your blog :-)

    Happy New Year to both of you :-)

  4. That's such a nice way of looking back - you did such a huge amount (and a lot of it was really hard). I feel quite inspired!

  5. What a productive and fabulous year. So impressive! Also? Totally freaked out by the mature women sock thing. People are so strange.

  6. It does look quite a lot when you put a whole year's worth of things in one place, doesn't it? I'm not sure any of my things were quite as hard as your many black crocheted squares sewn together in the winter gloom, Susie ;-)

    Thanks for your nice comments, all :-)

  7. It's been ages since I commented, but just wanted to say wow! It certainly is impressive what you've managed to achieve in the past year. Well done you ( and the OH!) oh and I have treadle machine envy btw!

    Lorna x


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