FAST Blog: Family Homestead

Permaculture, Preparedness, Homesteading & Survival

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Smarter Than Your Average Bear

Oh wait that's Yogi, I wanted to talk about Yoga, although I suppose there are plenty of yogis involved in yoga!

Since I moved out to Spain and I've had a bit more time on my hands I started to dip my toe in the water with some yoga for beginners. I started by doing a Sun Salutation each morning and found that it really helped improved my mental well being.

I've tried quite a few different online instructors and by far the best I've found is Adriene. I've been doing the sessions she has on Youtube and absolutely love it. If you think you are the type of person that doesn't do yoga you haven't tried yoga with Adriene yet! The videos are between 10-30 mins She's playful, funny and doesn't make it too serious or try to push the spiritual side of it on you. There's also options so you can always choose a pace that suits you.

I thought that if there are any other beginners out there and people are game then maybe for November we could do the "30 Days of Yoga" series together? I can post up the link to the video each day as a reminder to keep us on track

Anyone fancy getting in to a bit of yoga with me and Carly?


Saturday, 29 October 2016

Fast Five

I'm a little late on this one, you see yesterday was Logan's 4th birthday so we spent the majority of the day building lego, playing around and eating cake. Logan has grown up so much, just this week he has learnt to ride his pedal bike and how to swing himself on the swings.

For this weeks Fast Five I'll share 5 photos of our recently reunited family taken on a walk in the mountains today. 

The gang (minus the cameraman), When I asked Logan why he didn't look happy he replied "you can't smile all the time when you're busy walking daddy"

A shot of the girls

Logan looking much happier feeding carrots to our friend up the hill

Then we went down to the park in the village but all the fun proved to be too much for our little lady

I'll leave you with a shot of me and the sleepy princess, we'll be back tomorrow with an idea we've got for everyone to join in with us next month

See you all tomorrow!

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

It's Today! It's Today!

Today is the day that Carly and the Kids fly to Spain!

It's been almost a month since I last saw them, it's been incredibly difficult since I've never been away from them for more than a weekend before and since I left work I spent the previous month spending all day every day with them. We've been having daily video chats and they seem to have grown up so much since I've been away and I just can't wait to have them all in my arms again today.

I'll be back to update you all in a couple of days on how the girls and the kids have settled in to the cave, for now here is the last photo taken of me and the kids before I left:


Monday, 24 October 2016

Maglite LED Bulb Upgrade

I absolutely love Maglites, they have an amazing build quality and are pretty much Captain Scarlet,  indestructible. The only problem I find is that the light they shed is an awful yellow light and eat through batteries quite quickly so I decided to retrofit and LED bulb upgrade. Also LED's are far more resilient to impact damage and have a 50,000 hour working life, so in theory if you used your torch for an hour continuously every day it wouldn't need a new bulb for almost 140 years!

I chose NiteIze because they are a well respected brand on the EDC gear circuit and thought it would be better to go with them than one of the generic no-name Chinese bulbs off ebay. Their bulb isn't the brightest admittedly but since it draws less power it should extaned the battery life more than a brighter LED would.This packaging claims it fits most D cell torches so I bought it without thinking too much about it since it was listed specifically for Maglites so I assumed it would be no problem.

And what happens when we assume? When I opened up my Maglite I have the new style 2 pin bulb. Not to worry, unscrew the retaining collar and pull out the whole unit and swap it for the bulb I thought...

Except the new bulb was designed to fit the old style of maglites, so it was ever so slightly too thick to fit through the retaining collar

For something that was supposed to be a very easy fit and forget upgrade this was starting to get on my nerves! Never mind, out came my trusty friend Mr Dremel for a bit of custom tailoring..

And bobs your uncle, the bulb fits and can be installed back in to the torch

A quick test to make sure it works before re-assembling the Maglite and we're pretty much done.

Now I am loathe to throw away anything useful, and didn't want to lose the original bulb fittings. As you probably know inside the spring in the tail end of most torches is a little bit of foam with a spare bulb hidden inside it. Just pull out the spring...

...Stuff the old fittings in to the foam...

Snap the spring back in to place and we're good as new, or hopefully better

Here's the wide beam with the old bulb:

And wide beam with the LED:

Spotlight with the old fitting:

and lastly Spotlight with the new LED installed:

Obviously these shots are taken at close range and the difference is not quite as pronounced on camera as it is to the eye, but the light is now MUCH whiter and seems to throw a much better amount of light to the peripherals. It may be personal preference but I think its easier to see more detail in white light than it is in yellow too which is why we have replaced almost all of the light fittings in the house now with LED.

Overall I'm very happy with the upgrade, even if it was a bit of a pain in the ass to fiddle about with to make it fit the new style bulb/collar

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Yeastie Boys & The Dreaded CiderGate

After Carly's excellent post the boys are back in town and today we're rising to the occasion, it's the yeast we could do!

OK no more yeast puns I promise!

So this week by chance we've been doing all things yeast related. We've actually searched high and low for yeast and nowhere withing an hours drive seems to sell it, luckily we have a box of yeast that we bought with us from the UK so hopefully we'll find a stockist before we run out

I've been making bread in the machine as it's much nicer than the loaves they sell out here, which are very small and laden with preservatives.

I've been mostly baking plain white bread but decided to try out this recipe for an enriched white loaf so we could try something a bit nicer

I set the machine to the darkest crust setting to see how it would come out and the result was a delicious loaf with a great crust, light texture and definite brioche-y taste 

We also made up a 40 pint batch of "Mexican Style Cervesa" from a wilkos kit that we brought with us that should be ready soon

Then we turned our attention to the most important thing of all, a situation so dire that we have had to have emergency crisis talks on the topic, which has become known as...


You see the thing is, people in the South of Spain don't really have any interest in cider. You can get cans of strongbow from certain shops but they are almost 2 euros per can! They do sell the Spanish Sidra if you're unlucky enough to find a place that stocks it, which is sickly sweet and barely drinkable as it is made with local crab apples and then artificially sweetened afterwards.

 The reason they suck at making cider here is that after the Spanish Civil War production and consumption of cider was prohibited by Franco (a real dick by all accounts) and so apple orchards were abandoned as people looked for industrial work, which left the country at a bit of a disadvantage when it finally became legal to produce cider.

In light of this, we decided to revisit my Easy Peasy Homebrew Cider recipe and make some hard cider. Since my old supplier refused to ship to Spain for me I had to search for a new cider yeast supplier and stumbled across the Crossmyloof Brewery which have amazing customer service and shipped internationally for such a cheap price I feel that I have robbed them. They arrived this morning so we decided to get our homebrew rolling

and since things never go quite to plan for us we had to do a bit of tinkering. I can't seem to find the balloons that I usually use as airlocks for my brewing and couldn't be bothered to drive for 30 mins juts to buy a pack of balloons, so with a few minutes of DIY we managed to adapt the lid so that my mead making airlock would fit into it

So 8 litres of apple juice later..

and a dash of scotch in the airlock to keep it sterile

...and Bob's your uncle, within the next few weeks we'll have 8L of hard cider to get stuck in to, thus ending the dreaded Cidergate, for a little while at least


Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Carly Spills the Beans...

Wotcha everyone! I'm Carly, wife to Tricky who writes this amazing blog, and Mumma to Logan and Rori. Now that we are starting our new life, where I'll have a bit more free time, I'm intending to put a bit more love into both this blog and my own one. I wanted to explain in more detail why we've decided to make this big change in our lives. It's not a decision that we've made lightly, but a decision which we believe is right for our family.

Tricky and I have decided to move. Not just move house...move country. We're upping roots and starting a new adventure for our family in Spain. Those of you who know me well or have read previous posts on my blog will know that I lived in Spain from the ages of 11-17 and it's where I met Tricky all those years ago, so it's a place where we both feel a strong connection to. I'll start at the beginning and explain our dream, our vision, our reasoning.

It all started on Sunday morning earlier in the year. Tricky had come across a post online which exclaimed that old, abandoned villages in rural Spain were being sold for silly money. Both being a little fed up of the daily grind our lives had become, this of course piqued our interest. We drove over to my parents and told them that morning that we were moving to Spain, and would they come with us. We decided this would be a 5 year plan, and we would spend the next 5 years working towards our dream. In the mean time we decided to have our house valued to see where we stood and were pretty damn amazed at the valuation. Our 5 year plan could indeed end up being much, much sooner a reality than we ever thought.

Tricky hated his job. He is not the sort of man who is satisfied by being sat in an office for endless hours each day with no windows, no sunlight, no connection to the earth. He is full of life, hands on, passionate, caring, nurturing. The complete opposite of what his sales job wanted him to be. Watching him come home from his job each day being a little more broken and down heartened each time was horrible. He was becoming down, grumpy, snappy. Not the man he was or wanted to be.

Logan joined pre-school in January. Being an extremely bright kid, who loves to learn and play I thought this would be good for him. I was wrong. My happy little boy did not thrive in that environment. Watching him cry and be upset and angry and miserable just at the thought of going to preschool was killing me inside. If he was like this at preschool what would he be like at big school full time? As someone who personally didn't thrive in a traditional educational environment, I understood and sympathised with his feelings. Home schooling was the best option. Yes this can be done anywhere in the world, and what better way to do it than with both mummy and daddy at home?

And me? Well I want what's best for my family as a whole. And I want to live the life I enjoy. I want to spend more time with my children running around, and I don't want to spend hours in front of the TV or buying our food from the supermarket because that's where it comes from. I want a more natural life, to be more active, to take more control of our health and our learning. I want my kids to feel free and be open to new experiences.

When we first toyed with the idea of buying land, Rich signed up to a 6 month Permaculture Design course. And jeez, did he love it. I'd not seen him so content, so vivacious in a long time. It gave him that little sparkle in his eye again. We all, as a family, love the outdoors. We love growing, exploring and just being with nature. I knew this was going to be good for us,

I'm of course not saying any of this cant be done here in the UK. But we would not be able to afford to do what we are going to do in Spain, in England.

With the equity from the sale of our house we are going to be able to buy a 5 acre plot of land. We are going to build our own Eco-home and start a small permaculture farm. We will be as self sufficient as possible. We will build earthen yurts to rent. We can host workshops and courses. We will meet new people and take on new knowledge. We will be our own masters. We won't have a mortgage. Our time will be our own.

As well as all of his I will FOR SURE still be running Lucky Sew and Sew. I'll be able to have my own studio and work during the day and not only in the evenings when Tricky isn't at work. Yes!

So long story short, it's been a few turbulent months culminating in the sale of our house in the UK falling through at the last minute a few days after Tricky, my Dad and the Lorry full of our belongings went off to start our new life in Spain. We've managed to resell the house very quickly and we booked the flights today for myself, the kids and my mum to join the lads in our temporary rental place in Spain at the end of he month.

It's been extremely tough not having Rich here, the kids miss him so much. On top of that Logan is sleeping on a mattress on the floor and Rori is in a travel cot. It's not been an easy few weeks to say the least! My sewing machines are in Spain (bar one back up!) along with my fabrics and pretty much everything else! So I've been trying my best to keep up with work but it's proving a hard task at the minute.

I'm so appreciative of all of the support our nursing bras have been getting, it's overwhelming. As soon as we get to Spain it'll be WERK WERK WERK WERK WERK WERK WERK, as Rihanna so perfectly put it.

For now, I'm still catching up on a few orders that I can, trying to keep the kids entertained with no toys here, cook with hardly any kitchen equipment and try to evict a baby mouse that had somehow moved into my living room and is a master of hiding.

Phew. That was a long post. It feels good to explain exactly what's happening. I'm really excited about what the future holds. More time for Lucky Sew and Sew that's for sure. More blogging in general and about self building a house, moving country, home-edding, DIYing and a whole host of other good stuff.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Captain Caveman!

Hope you're all well this Friday!

For this weeks Fast Five I'll spend 5 minutes talking about our new place. Lots of you have been asking to see/hear more about the house we have moved to, mostly because it's a bit different from what we're used to since it is originally a 400yr+ old cave house. We'll be staying here for the next year or so whilst we build our own house on the land we're buying.

I'll share some photos from the estate agents website since at the moment we still have bags and boxes everywhere that need unpacking, the quality isn't fantastic but I'll get some better photos and maybe a walk through video once we're settled in.

Here is what the place looks like from the outside..

..and the view from our front door

 It has been extended with a traditionally built add on but the majority of the rooms inside are carved in to the stone of the mountain itself, so the rooms are very odd shapes and locations and have really quirky ceilings.
here's a snap of the reception room inside the main entrance, notice the fairly low curved ceilings?

This is a photo of the original living room in the cave side, the rooms are a little dark because you can't place a window, and since it was built for ancient Spanish the door frames are a bit of a challenge for a 6ft bloke like myself!

Compare that to the modern living room in the extension, its all high ceilings and daylight to compensate for the cave rooms 

 The Kitchen is also in the modern section of the house so gets a good amount of light, in fact its mostly just the bedrooms that are underground

One of the things about living underground is that they are pretty dark during the day, we've started to remedy this by installing better light fittings and brighter modern energy efficient bulbs, but if you turn the lights off at night here it is DARK. In the bedrooms at night with the light off it is total dark, pitch black, not the tiniest shred of light. It's like you have fallen in to the abyss and it allows for the best sleep once you're used to not being able to see the end of your nose, let alone past it. This room is the spare bedroom which we have affectionately nicknamed "The Demon Room" since the decor is hideous and has been plastered with traditional crucifixes and pictures of Jesus, which I can only assume are there to protect us from the demons that lurk within!

This next photo will be Little Logan's room, it had a weird painting of a river with a total firehazard of a lighting arrangement made to look like a window, we've ripped that all down and put a real, safe light fitting on the ceiling. The Spanish are not known for reliable electrics!

Another thing that you notice straight away is that when you walk in to the modern section of the house there is a difference in temperature, the caves stay cooler in the day and warmer at night. Our Spanish neighbour Juan has been telling us that it's only cold for 3 months of the year here, and that in the caves we won't get cold but the modern part of the house will be very cold. Guess it's good news for us cave dwellers that are sleeping in the caves but the inlaws have a modern bedroom up those stairs you saw in the living room photo, so we might have to thaw them out in March!

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend, don't forget to head on over to Amy's to spread the Five on Friday love!


Wednesday, 12 October 2016

The Mysterious Wood Project

In my last post I was hunting for the perfect piece of wood for this project but didn't mention what I was doing with it.

The area that I have moved to is called Pinoso/ El Pinos which translates as "The Pines" in reference to the fact that the mountains that surround us are covered in giant pine forests, which is why I wanted a piece for this project. What I had in mind was to make a gift for a couple of friends, something handmade from local holistic resources (which is why I was determined to find the perfect windfall instead of damaging a tree for my needs). I wanted to make a set of three so that we could each have one, cut and carved from the same branch because I'm sentimental and love stuff  that has a story behind it like that.

( I will apologise in advance for the photo's, my phone died as I was setting up so rather than delay the task I shot with the Kindle Fire's camera, not ideal but it did the job)

I drilled the hole first as I thought it would be quicker and easier although in hindsight I think if I did it again I'd just drill the holes individually as it would be easier to keep it straight and centered that way

Next up came the carving, I used my CRKT Edgie simply because I had it in my pocket at the time but it isn't really the ideal knife for the job. That being said it handled the task just fine it just isn't the most comfortable knife to carve with

Here you can see the first one emerging from the timber

Once again I made things more difficult by keeping them all connected until the absolute last minute, would have been quicker to carve them out individually but I wanted to capture a photo of them all connected like a mini totem, told you I was crazy!

Right at the end I cut them from each other with the knife

3 different beads made from the same branch but still totally unique. I kept the bark on one of them to change it up a little. From here I smoothed the inside of the holes out with the Dremel and sanded the edges.  Then the great idea of breaking out the pyrography pen popped in to my mind so they were each treated to a different set of Norse Runes that matched their intended owners. To finish them up I gave them a thin coat of beeswax and here they are:

Beautiful, natural and cost nothing but my time. I may be biased but ME LIKEY!



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