My Sanctuary

Sometimes we must adjust our expectations. Where we might like our natural sanctuary to be a forest, a meadow, nature in its most natural and wild state, it is not always available when needed.

My gardens ( front and back) are my ( nature) sanctuary. My expectations changed but in no way have lowered. They may have even raised.  The pleasure of growing from seed, nurturing, maturing and then harvesting is heavenly for my heart, soul and spirit.

The Jar Project

I do a lot of little things to save money. Growing veg and making my own wine is just a couple of them but where does the money I save go? Who crapping knows! But I want to start seeing the money I am saving so we are going to start the jar banks (baby food jars to start).

This is the plan – every time I use something fresh from the garden like rhubarb, tomatoes etc … even parsley for a meal £1 will be put in the jar for each course ( main meal, dessert etc). If I make soup and it goes for two meals then each meal will earn its pound in the jar. This money will go toward the garden next year. I made cakes with Pumpkin from the garden so owe the jar a pound for that already.

Every time my other half starts a bottle of wine he will put £2 into ‘Wine’ Jar. It costs me at the most … the very most a pound per bottle to make (most of the time it is like 30p). What is the cheapest bottle you can buy these days? Four or Five pounds.

There will be four jars –

Meals – Already explained how this one works

Waste – this one will be fed a £1 coin every time something goes off and must be thrown away. An orange goes moldy before it can be eaten – £1 into the jar, so forth and so on. Left overs end up in the composter £1 goes in the jar.

Wine – £2 per bottle opened.

Recycling – This one is a little more general. It is when I can take something and turn it around and use it for something else IOWs recycle it. Another way to feed this jar is if we are given something for free and save money by not having to buy it. (ie recently asked if I could have a set of the outdoor table and chairs (chrome and wood) a pub was getting rid of when they had bought new ones. Never hurts to ask and this set although it needs a cover over the table (until it can be painted) saved us in the region of £100 but I only put £5 in the recycling jar. Another fiver went in for the collecting, cleaning and reusing of screw-cap wine bottles to bottle my homemade wines (60 some odd bottles collected from pubs). I can’t imagine what it might have cost to buy them new from a wine making supplier.

We will do a check in at the end of November (six months on) to see how we are doing.

Wish me luck.


Started this three weeks ago on the 15th of May and the total in all jars combined is £51.


On my way home from work the other day I had a lovely change of pace. A couple young lasses were walking on the right side of the street towards us. One of them was sharing a peace sign (through a hand gesture) with cars as they passed them ahead of us.

When it was our turn, she was looking directly at us and for all the right reasons I shared a peace sign in return.

I thought it was a lovely gesture. I imagine their ages might be around fifteen or sixteen (perhaps younger, I am terrible at guessing ages). At that age I think kids are more into that rebellious frame a mind and you are often more likely to get the finger or a shout if they notice you at all.

Thanks for the smile girls. Peace and joy to you and yours.

Two Years …

Two years since my last real post and it has been crazy wild, amazing, random, shocking, fun, annoying and a whole slew of other emotions.

Perhaps a brief time line is in order –

June 2015 – Sold the house and moved into the touring caravan – surprising I am still married to the same man I moved into it with and just as surprising we are still both alive

Sept 1 – Gave up our jobs of 15 years and 8 years respectively

Sept 7 – 20 went to Germany for our anniversary

Oct 1 went house hunting in the northeast of England.

Mid November 2015 – Mid January 2016 – Extended stay over the winter holidays with family in California (first California Christmas in over 11 years)

February 1 2016 – moved out of caravan and into lovely little 3 bed mid terrace (large kitchen and large rear garden were accomplished) in an awesome town in South Yorkshire. Yorkshire Rocks!!!

March 2016 found a job and am still there.

April – Garden is on the way to being a Veggie Haven and my Sanctuary.

One year (plus) on since relocating and we are still loving the decision to pull stakes and go wondering for a new life. We are both working and have great neighbors. Lots of new places to explore both close and not so far away as before.

My other half had been born and raised in Somerset and I had been there over 10 years. We decided to make the move before we got too old to do it because of the level of irreversible chances involved. There had been plenty of moments, up and down. and I will ramble in situ on them as the come to mind.

It you ever get an inkling to try something as crazy as this I highly recommend it.

‘Santa Bag’ Breeds

Pretty sure I have mentioned that there are various breeds of Santa Bags, Easter Bunny Bags, Halloween Treat Bags, Baby Shower Bags and Birthday Bags. In fact you can do a bag for just about any occasions. There are no neat rules about what occasion deserves the fun of a Gift Bag. Now there are still a few guidelines that never hurt.

Setting a cost and limit also makes sure that the stingy ones spend the money and the generous ones don’t spend more than everyone else. You can use this at house warming or baby showers where the guests take turns passing the gift bag filled with little something so everyone gets, a small token gift in appreciation of coming to the affair. Do not think that you can’t trade either. It might add a little camaraderie to the get together.

You know that idea that you always purchase gifts for others that you would like to receive yourself, well with a Gift Bag or Santa bag you can always pick a one or two you like and the rest you think others will enjoy. I always throw in a can of Smoked Oysters – I always get them back in a trade.

So now is a great time to start buying little things (or as I like to do – making little things) to put into your Santa Bag for the family or if you are someone who enjoys throwing little shindigs plan one for that too.

Make your own Bag for your occasion and let the bag be the last gift given.

… and More

Santa Bag Rulz

Della waited until all the other gifts had been given to bring out her Sant Bag. All the other presents had been opened when she brought out her red pillow case full of wrapped presents. The rules to the Santa bag is simple. Everyone gathers in the room and the bag is passed from one person to another, each person picks a gift (You can choose to unwrap as you choose them or wait until they have all been chosen – personal preference) and waits for the bag to come around again. The bag goes as many times around as it needs to have all the presents chosen.

Once the bag is empty and the presents are unwrapped the TRADING begins. This is such good fun. I traded a pack of crayons for can of tuna, a candy bar for a bottle of shampoo and a bar of soup (candy bars bartered well). The trading went on for hours among the children. The best trade of the day was when Uncle Bob was talked-into trading his color book for a pacifier. We all voted it was a fair trade and he wore it around his neck the rest of the day.

Even if time are not so tough and you have enough money and the inclination to choose individual gifts for everyone on your list, this is still an added attraction to Christmas day. I open gifts on Christmas eve and the stocking is saved for Santa to fill. The Santa bag became a family effort once the kids were old enough to handle money (about 8 to 10 years old). I would give them $10 or $20 each and told them they had to purchase a minimum of 6 gifts but no more than $10.

This is import to give them a limit or you will end up with too many little gifts, trust me. This is also a great way to get them to pay attention to prices and learn to budget for sales tax (back then it was 5-6%). They also learn value for money in an indirect way. They were also responsible for wrapping what they purchased and adding it to the bag.

A Month of Christmas Holiday Gifts to Sew.
Domestic Diva Disasters

‘Santa Bag’ Breeds (more on Santa Bags and Bags)

Get Pickin’ – Dandelions

We are so late here in England getting started on spring. Two weeks before June and my grape vine has 3-6 in shoots on it. It can be a bit depressing waiting and hoping for a summer that actually fits the name.


I am a bit of a reluctant forager. Reluctant only because of the dog population in this country and the public rights of way meaning if it is used for foot fall anything on either side under three feet may have been used as a lamp post/tree.

Under normal circumstances the reluctance to pick and eat would be from how close to the road the foraging happens and how often the road is used by vehicles. Nary a path in this country goes untouched by those four legged beasties and their need for the toilet so even unused roads are not necessarily safe from pollutants.

Honestly, if I was that hungry neither thought would stop me but as I have the time and inclination to be choosy so I will.

There are some excellent free sources of nibbles here and I imagine most places have something to offer the forager. Now that we have had a bit of sun and a little warmth (unbelievably it will be cooling a bit toward the end of the week. Again!!) the winter wary weeds are builing up strength and pushing forth.

One of the most prominent the lovely little dandelion, known the world round. The weed that can set most proud front yard/garden caretakers on their heads. I like yellow flowers, any yellow flower will catch my eye before any other. Our lovely little dandelion deserves a much higher status in the plant world than weed. Every inch of it is edible – leaves, root, flower. Check out the nutritional value of one cup of raw dandelion greens, just 55 grams, dandelion greens. I think you will be amazed at what it has to offer.

Do a Google search on Dandelion Wine, Dandelion Beer or even Dandelion Greens recipes. They are out there and they are many..