Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Frugal brewing

Making things yourself saves you money - some of the time. To be honest, if you buy a pattern and good quality fabric to make a dress, it ends up being more expensive than something from a cheap shop. Better quality, and better value for money, but more expensive upfront.

When we started brewing our own beer, I thought it would be the same. A fun activity that gets us off the sofa, a new skill, and one that would over time save us money but would be more expensive for the first years.

Not so. We have just bottled our second batch of beer, and my boyfriend has kept rigorous records of everything we have bought - ingredients, equipment, bottles... Our beer currently works out at €2,25 per 33cl bottle. Which is already cheaper than craft beer in the stops. I am very pleasantly surprise to find that our homemade beer so, well, frugal.

We are finding more ways to make homebrewing more frugal. Re-using the bottles from beer we drink, rather than buying bottles. Did you know you can 'wash' yeast after a brew and re-use it for a total of up to ten batches? And now I find myself with a bowl full of hops - with the most delicious smell. I can't bear to just chuck them in the bin, they smell amazing. Reuses for hops, anyone? I'm thinking to try them out and make a sleep-inducing herb pillow or pot pourri for the bedroom.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday reading and acorn coffee

So. Acorn coffee.

I think you could say it's an acquired taste. And I don't intend to acquire it. I know it's free, but I'll stick to water.

It's not bitter. It's just not particularly pleasant.

Next time I forage for acorns, I'll go for acorn flour, which from other blogs seems to impart a nice nuttiness to pancakes and other bakes.

A simple guide to thrifty vegetable gardening
How to make herbal steams for colds and congestion
The Latte Factor: 8 ways we often overspend
Life in a tiny apartment - cloth napkins
How to store fresh fruits and vegetables
I made shoes!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

On letting go of the last box

It's astonishing how much an off-hand comment from the unlikeliest of places can have an unexpected impact.

At work, we were discussing my new colleague's unpacking process over lunch, and several people commented on still having sealed boxes from moves years or even decades earlier. I felt mostly smug - but there was a guilty twinge. I have one last box in the basement. (The previous box - containing every pair of jeans I have ever worn, or so it seems - was finally dealt with earlier this year.)

The box contains all my old notes and files from university. I have left it because I couldn't decide what to do with it. I know I would like to keep my old essays - I have a small box of precious things I keep for sentimental reasons, like old diaries, photo albums, the first thing I ever knitted, letters from friends. The essays could go in there. And the scrap paper or rough notes - chuck.

But the research? The hours of my life spent standing in front of a photocopier in the library coping chapters and academic articles. The realisation that I could not access these again without paying for them. The guilty knowledge that some never got read. The secret hope of one day dusting them off, to research and write a historic novel. This expands beyond the notes in the basement - I have another two or more shelves of books, articles and so on from my final year dissertation in the spare room.

And then my new colleague commented that research moved so fast that it is quickly out of date. 

Duh. Why didn't I think of that?

If ever I do get around to writing a historic novel, the evidence for and understanding of that time period will have moved on since my first year of university. And I know I would enjoy doing that research. Not having a box of dusty old articles in the basement would not really be much of a barrier.

So finally - thanks to an off-hand comment at work - I am ready to let go of the last box.

(That just leaves the unknown number of boxes in my mother's attic. But let's forget that for now!)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Woot woot! Five years (and a few days)

 So, err, sorry guys. I set this as a scheduled post so I wouldn't forget to write and then... I forgot. And it got posted. As a bit of a non-post.

So now I'm a couple of weeks late, but what the hell. The 8 October marked the five-year anniversary of my first post on this blog, which you can read here.

Looking back at that post, I'm struck by two things. Firstly, my choice of Meadow Orchard as a blog name foreshadows my discovery of permaculture in the last year rather neatly. A meadow orchard is a form of landscape encouraging meadow wildlife among fruit trees, so very positive for biodiversity.

The second thing that strikes me is that the lifestyle I was then interested in building - log fire, fruit trees outside the back door, home comforts and handmade crafts - is still very much what I am endeavouring to build today. 

And I've definitely made progress, which I reflect on every night as  we sit down to homecooked healthy food on a handmade tablecloth on a second hand table and talk about our next beer, and when I draw my homemade curtains in homemade pajamas and slippers made out of old jeans and cardboard.

I thought for my five-year bloggiversary, I'd share five posts and an assortment of photos representing five themes of this blog:



Living better with less

New skils

Savouring simple pleasures


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