Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Update - my degree, my hair, my house and my kitchen

I always seem to start my blog posts with such things as “so much for keeping on top of blogging” and “so much has happened.”  Well a lot has happened and no – I haven’t kept on top of my blogging.  I have however sorted out my degree with the Open University and will be finishing my degree in June 2015.  It will be a open degree in Maths, Computing, Business and Design.  I am taking a break from the studies whilst I help my Dad market his new book – go here to have a look. My next course starts in Feb and is about sustainable design, followed by one in investigating entrepreneurial opportunities and finishing with 2 courses in teaching statistics and analysing data.  

I passed my PTTLS teaching course and I am hoping that I can start working as a Maths tutor as soon as my house is sorted.  We have had a family living with us since July whilst they are trying to find somewhere to live in York so space is at a premium in our house as the moment with 8 people living in a 4 bedroom house!!  This should all be resolved by Christmas when I am hoping that our kitchen extension will also have been completed.  It reminds me of the book A Squash and a Squeeze and I am looking forward to having the space and ability so that I can properly re-arrange and re-zone the house as part of my Permaculture Diploma.  A lot of this re-zoning hinges on the kitchen being re-designed so fingers crossed that gets done as soon as possible.

Talking about my Applied Diploma in Permaculture Design the not-washing-my-hair thing did not work as planned.  My hair never “righted” itself like others did so I resorted to using bicarbonate of soda but it still wasn’t enough for my hair.  So I tried using egg and vinegar and still not great so I have compromised and started using Faith in Nature shampoo again but only once a week or so with bicarbonate of soda in between.  I am going to keep trying experimenting with different alternatives as not happy using shampoo even if it is ecologically sound stuff.

The zopa loans lending scheme is still working out well for us and am I really pleased with it.  I would highly recommend this service or others like it to anyone wanting to cut the bank out of the financial equation.  You can borrow money or lend it via these types of schemes and the extra interest goes to the lender and the borrower pays less than they would to a bank.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Edible hedge here we come - stage 1

Well I have had a brilliant day today because I spent the majority of it in the garden doing some major renovating whilst the children had fun with their friends.  As part of my master plan for a big portion of the garden to become a forest garden, Dave bought a large selection of new hedge plants.  The hedge that is at the end of our garden and all the way down the LHS as you look down the garden is horrible.  It is overgrown, ugly, and too thick, doesn’t encourage wildlife and doesn’t produce fruits or anything else edible.  Also no one has any idea what it is!!!!  Luckily for us our neighbours who share the hedge hate it too and so they are happy for us to pull it up and replace it with edible hedge plants.  So today we began!!  And this picture shows how much hedge Dave removed and the newly planted (very small) hazel, june berries and blackthorn plants.

Whilst Dave was busy digging and planting I was chopping up the old hedge for kindling and logs or disposal.  The kids got involved, our neighbours got involved and we even had a visit from the neighbours at the bottom of the garden to investigate what we were doing.  They unfortunately didn’t want us to take down the hedge at the bottom of the garden so we have had to slightly change our plans.

We had some box hedge which we decided to keep but having planted over the kids hedge hole to get from our garden to next door we had to make them another way in so they weren't tempted to trample Dave's newly planted hedge.  Here is the new way in wonderfully modelled by my next door neighbour and cunningly positioned to match the climbing frame!!!  Obviously that was totally planned that way and not just lucky.

We have loads more to do but I am very happy with the start.  I now have one of the huge cardboard boxes that the hedge plants came in full of kindling ready for the winter and some great bigger firewood.  Even more fantastic was the fact that all the kids who dropped in during the day were asking about what we were doing so we could tell them that hedges can grow food,  be productive and encourage wildlife.  Hopefully in the coming years they will be able to see that for themselves and enjoy some of the harvest.  

Here's hoping that these little plants grow to be productive, attractive hedges and make a wonderful border to our ever growing forest garden.  And that we can pay the neighbours back for their help with fruits and nuts on their side too!!!
It was good fun and a brilliantly productive day.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Skydive, allotment and ransom

Yep - that is correct - I did a static line solo parachute jump last weekend for a laugh.  I did injure myself (see below) which is a laugh as I had more injuries from the bramble clearing on the allotment the previous week! Thought it was quite funny that clearing the allotment is more dangerous than jumping out of a plane so thought I had to share.
Anyway the allotment clearing went well so we had a bonfire there last night with some neighbours.  We had s'mores and I took pens and paper so that people could write their wishes and/or things that they wanted to forget on paper and burn them.  It was good fun with lots of laughter, running, giggling and acting round the bonfire (see the collage photo to see the fun.)
Toasting marshmallows and Indie in the trailer ready to be cycled home.
So today I thought I should get on with planting my ransom which arrived in the post from a lovely friend yesterday.  I had always planned that it would go under the trampoline but that meant that some clearing needed to be done (as can be seen from these photos.)

I got going though and the result can be seen below with a large stack of kindling ready for the woodburning stove so I am very pleased.  I also had very happy chickens who got all the cleared vegetation.  There is still more to do but I am very happy with the start.

It was very therapeutic sitting under that trampoline clearing wood and planting ransom.  Can highly recommend it!!
Happy Spring everyone

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Indie's cute spellings and we are now officially car sharing

I thought I would share Indie's cute spellings on my blog just because I can and they are cute.  My children are pretty much autocratic in their learning.  I don't really have that much input and I definitely don't sit them down and teach them spellings.  So here are some of the spellings that have recently appeared when Indie is messengering with people: "I hoppe that Jack will get bett.  He is the best prsun in the wud" "I hoppe you like hure bcus if you do not like hure it is a bit men."  That last word should be "mean" but I think the other words pretty much make sense.  The cutest one so far has been when she has been typing about going to the co-op which is our nearest shop she spells it "cowop."  I will try and keep you up-to-date with Indie-isms as they appear!!

The other exciting news is that Dave sold the car on Sunday and we are now officially car sharing with a family down the road.  This came about totally by accident but I really, really hope it will work out.  One of the advantages of home-educating is that most of our car use is during the day and outside of school holidays whereas the family we are sharing with have school children and most of their car use is during the evening and school holidays.  We have set up a Google calendar to coordinate the usage and will pro-rate all the bills, MOT, insurance, tax etc. based on the mileage.  I am really pleased not to be buying a new car and have already started using my feet and bike more as I become more aware of how much I rely on just hopping in the car rather than just planning a bit better and using my body to get me from A to B.  Will keep you guys up-to-date with how it goes!!

Have started clearing the allotment of the bramble problem today and hoping to have a celebratory bonfire tonight or tomorrow night.  Just need to plan out the allotment and the garden properly so we know what we are heading for.  Growveg.com here we come!!!  Cannot recommend this software highly enough for making the job of planning what you are growing each year easy and fun.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Hectic life - what's new?

Ok.  I was supposed to be posting way more often than this!!!  But as always life seems to get in the way.  At this precise moment I am supposed to be doing week 5 of my Open University (OU) Design course but here I am writing a blog post!!  I haven't eaten lunch yet because I have just had to capture 2 escaped chickens AGAIN.  There are a list of other things that I am supposed to have done today or yesterday or last week.  Does any of this sound familiar?
Let's turn it around though.  I have sorted out about 10 home ed outings for the coming months.  I have just captured 2 chickens and put them back in their coop.  I have got my daughter to have a long overdue bath this morning.  Over the last few months I have made a video of our family trip to see the Dr Who experience and Cirque de Soleil (see here); started my OU course and just about kept on top of the work load; tutored someone in maths so that their predicted grade is now higher than it was when I started; started my Shamanic Practitioner course and started the ball rolling with getting the electrics and kitchen conversion done on the house.  I have also enrolled on a PTLLS teaching course so that I can maybe do more tutoring, oh and I have been doing a pole dancing class!!

As part of my Permaculture Diploma I wanted to make sure that family videos and photos didn't just get lost in the digital ether out there where no-one will ever see them so I am really pleased with the video of our day trip to London.  I am hoping as I get more proficient with the software these will be become easier to do - the London one took me 4 hours!!  I still have one to do of a tobogganing day we had with our neighbours.

The Shaman and teaching courses are trying to get me to a place where I can get back into working and earning money but more flexibly than a 9-5 job.
The pole dancing was just another way of trying to get fit but in a fun way and I can say that it is fun but really, really hard work.  I haven't ached so much since I first started hula-hooping.
I have also been trying to get some Gaia University courses over here to the UK and the affiliated European Branch of Gaia called the GALA (Gaia Action Learning Academy) are doing some training courses in June that I am helping to organise.  If you want to know more visit here and pass on the information to anyone you might know.

The courses are:
Life Designing is a workshop designed to give you the opportunity to gain the skills, knowledge and tools to implement your visions and goals.  This course would be a good place to start if you want to kick-start your Permaculture Diploma where the Project Management course is more geared to starting a eco-business or Transition Town movement or something like that.
Integrative Project management - transferring the eco-social Permaculture way of thinking into project management - looking at how our organisational processes and our actual project results can be designed to manifest our Permaculture Ethics. We will explore how we can ‘obtain a yield’ to make ourselves, our projects & our organisations more effective through design.

So I have been busy - hence the no posting on my blog.  Glad I got this post done and now off to have some lunch!!

Monday, 2 January 2012

Wood, potential mushrooms plus Zopa update

We went for a walk along York river and here are some of the bits of wood we found along the way.  Very happy with that and also think we found a good place to go mushroom hunting in Autumn as well.  

Sad news that Flapjack the last of our three original chickens died during the night.  That means we are down to 3 but we seem to be getting enough eggs from them not to consider getting any more at the moment.

More good news though - the money we put on Zopa that I mentioned back in October has all been loaned out to people!!  Really chuffed about that as when I checked before Christmas we had only lent out about 20% of the money we had put in.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Happy New Year and Happy Re-zoning

The festive season has been a time of re-zoning and de-cluttering.  I seem to spend a lot of time de-cluttering mostly because I have a lot of clutter so nothing new there but the re-zoning seems to be making the de-cluttering easier which is great.

Basically my nearly 7 year old daughter has many interests and they just don't fit into her room and I want a dedicated craft area so I can leave my sewing machine up and leave projects half finished and still be able to find them again!!!

So Indie's room is now in the attic space (which was a play room/guest room) and her room has become that guest room/craft room.  This has meant de-cluttering all the stuff that is dumped in the loft space and finding room for the stuff that we actually need to keep.  The bottom of the attic stairs (photo below) now houses the kitchen stuff that was in the loft because we haven't had our kitchen re-done yet (that needs a whole other blog update all to itself!!)

Anyway this is what the loft looked like just after I had started clearing out the cupboards (below).

There is a fire escape window behind the scaletrix boxes and the high chair (below) - that was regulation when we had our loft converted in 2006 but not any more or not until "they" change "their" minds again!!

Here is the start of Indie's Sylvanian toys area!!  It is all starting to come together - very, very slowly.

Luckily some of that junk did actually make it to the recycle bin (see below.)  Mostly due to the shame I felt at having so many files of school work and other things that I am NEVER going to ever look through again.  Fortunately my DH Dave's work has a scanning machine that can double-side scan A4 documents and send them to you as an email attachment.  I am therefore throwing some stuff away after he has scanned them so I can still hoard but I can do it in an electronic non-cluttering type of way!!  Is that cheating?

Here is all the stuff that is going via Freecycle - I LOVE FREECYCLE.  Bye-bye Thunderbird toys and books that I now have on a Kindle (Kindle or any e-book reading are fantastic for the book-hoarders amongst us.)

So those are some of the pictures from the mad tidying fest that has been had in the CK household over the festive season.  I will post some more when I have managed to take the pictures of the finished rooms and the knock on effect it has had on the rest of the house.

That is the fact I do love about tidying - it does seem to have a great effect on other ideas about how things should function/work in a house.  Permaculture zoning does actually work.  Work out what you want your house to work like and fit it into the space you have.  And if all else fails do a human pyramid and everything seems ok with the world again!!

Happy New Year everyone and here's to a permaculure-y fab 2012

Friday, 16 December 2011

Insulated cooker, moved chickens and beginning of forest garden

Ok I have been mightily slack in not keeping on top of this blog at all.  To make up for it here is a great article about edible gardens here.  What a fab idea and something I am trying to get involved in with the home ed. group here in York although trying to get it organised is proving to be more tricky than I thought.  Will let you know how I get on with that one in the New Year and probably when it gets warmer!!!

Here are the garden improvements we have done since the last entry.

We got a pile of free wood from a friend which is brill.  Half of it is being used to keep the chickens in but we need to build a new chicken run when the weather improves so hopefully it will be used in that and/or in a new raised bed on the patio.  The patio is turning into a more fluid project as we work out what we do and don't want in that area. As you can see at the moment though the patio is mostly being used to store wood!!

Below is some of the wood being used to keep the new chickens in.  We got 3 new chickens from Meanwood Valley Urban Farm and they have settled in really well and there has been no hen pecking even though little Frizzle Flapjack is very small compared to them.

Planted raspberries and trees to start forming this part of the forest garden.  Hopefully they will take but we will see!!

And below is the bare area where the chickens were before we moved them.  Hopefully there will be loads of planting happening in there in the Spring.

Below is the fab insulated oven that Dave constructed out of left over insulation blocks.  It works really well although we need to find some better fitting pots to go in it.

Really good use of materials that most people would throw away!!

Here is another good use of unwanted material!! We all had fun yesterday dismantling next door's piano and it will now be used on our lovely wood burning stove.

Will try and be more organised in the future to tell you what is going on here in York.