Thursday, 14 April 2011

Avid reader of books.

As a man who is passionate about reading, I would probably have to say that my biggest luxury is indeed buying books - however, I almost never buy a new one. Sites like Amazon market place and green metropolis are best, although I recently found a wonderful second hand book site called Abe books which I highly recommend. Using the library is something that I only recently started doing, but as I enjoy re-reading lots of books I have often tended to not use the library, wanting to own my own copy instead.

A recent purchase of mine from Amazon market place is this book by Martin Lewis. It is a good read, although I suppose lots of it is fairly obvious for people who are already thrifty. Still, you can always get a few extra ideas from a book like this. I am quite interested in perhaps exploring the use of cheaper items for house cleaning, it is a low cost idea that I have not yet explored. I will let you know how it goes.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Anything they can do.......

I am a great believer that almost anything can be made better and cheaper at home. Also that you can pretty much learn how to do anything from a book. Today we live in a world where very little is built for longevity. We are expected to change are mobile telephones every couple of years, even if the one we currently own is perfectly all right. A friend of mine recently bought himself the new i-pad that has just been released even though his old i-pad was only 7 months old. Why? because the new one had about 3 features the old one didn't. This same friend has a drawer full of old phones, lap-tops etc. Hundreds of pounds worth of stuff that still works.
I suppose I am lucky in that I have never been that interested in the latest gadgets, besides my trusty laptop (only replaced when the last one was 6 years old and breaking down regularly), a basic nokia mobile phone that just makes calls and sends texts and a small tv and dvd player, I don't have much and that suits me. I often think that if a burglar broke into my flat he would probably leave in disgust at the lack of 'stuff' to steal. This lack of need I have is obviously a great bonus on the track to frugality and self-sufficiency.
When I move to Lancashire I am going to be living alone, which means that I don't need a huge house. Therefore what I am going to be looking at most particularly is garden space, the bigger the better. It would be great if I had a garage too, because I want to start woodworking projects and storage for stuff like home made beer and wine will be necessary. I have had no training in working with wood, but I have learned plenty over the years by just having a go and reading books. Nowadays there are lots of very helpful video clips on youtube that can help learn more. When I was about 12, I remember building my mum a headboard and footboard for her divan bed, pretty successfully, simply from my own logic. There is an enormous satisfaction to had from making something yourself and that is something I want to experience more of. Will there be failures? Undoubtedly, but I hope there will be a lot of fun on the way.

Jams and chutneys.

This last 12 months has seen me learning to make jam. Last year I bought the wonderful river cottage book of preserves and have made quite a few different sorts from it. The apple cider butter is lovely and I made a lot of jars. Also a successful strawberry jam and some cherry jelly from a huge bag of cherries I took from a friends tree (she didn't know what they were and had, previously, let them all go to waste).
I can't say that everything has been successful however. I tried modifying the apple cider butter and making it with pears instead, but it didn't really set properly and is a bit too sweet. I am getting the hang of the setting point slowly, the strawberry jam was perfect. Obviously it would help if I had a jam thermometer. I bought one and it broke rather quickly and I have been attempting to do it with the old saucer in the fridge test.
Anyway, the result has been that I have a store cupboard full of jams which is wonderful. I have a flat mate at the moment who loves jam and can demolish a whole jar in about 3 days, so it is a good job I made so much.

Welcome to my blog

Hello all, my name is Dan and I welcome you to my blog. I am committed to living in a less materialistic way and to embrace more and more a self-sufficient (ish) way of living and to to get back to a make do and mend sort of lifestyle.
At the moment I am living in London and my first step is to put my small flat on the market and to move to a more countrified location. I will, hopefully, in the next few months, be selling up here and moving back to my roots in Lancashire. it is lucky to be able to move from South to North as selling a flat here should enable me to buy a house with a garden there with a fairly small mortgage. Once there I hope to move back toward living in a different way, using the garden to grow edibles, cooking and storing my produce with help from freezer, preserving, bottling, drying etc. I want to experiment with making products such as hand-creams, soap etc., brew my own wine and beer, make cordials and generally find new ways to live a hopefully more green and less materialistic life.
Meanwhile I am still in London in a flat which may or may not sell quickly, so while I am waiting I am going to begin by learning as many techniques and practise some of the things I hope to do.
This blog is going to be my diary of my slow but sure bid for self-sufficiency.
More to follow.