applesteamdream


The New Year Begun

Now here we are, 2012, just a number. Lots to be done during this number, we have to secure full planning permission on the land but even before that a survey, a complete design and a bit of negotiation with our neighbours, “a plan is in  the making”.

By the end of said number we would like to have found and secured a local supplier of  Douglass Fir, a softwood yet strong and proven to be a great framework building material. This is available in plenty in Ireland so keeps down the carbon footprint of long haulage.

Again the straw supplier has to be sorted, straw is better if bought the previous year and dry stored ready for the build.

As well as an unknown amount of things that side swipe you along the journey to your dream, BUT this is our dream, our end product is simple living, not easy living. We have a vision, “sat aside upon our porch, overhanging roof sheltering the rain, a cigar, a whiskey and a good book” this is our dream, no fast cars or condos.

Just beautiful and together, every day together.

Happy new year xx  

Our best wishes to all, Richard & Ric 

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Our Culnady Dwelling.

We’re both hard at work in every department of building our applesteamdream, Ric has accumulated many recipes and ideas inc samples of eco roof tiling (made from recycled bottles).

Eco-slate

Eco-slate 2

Here is a couple of photos of the tile’s, as you can see the difference  in look to standard tiles is very little though they are so much better insulation dew to the proses of weathering, the tiles bond together expelling all air gaps and crate one solid membrane.

We have been searching for an architect to help with the straw bale build and have found Tagarts of Belfast, they designed the Ecos building in Ireland and have taken our project on with wonder and enthusiasm  (at first I think they thought we were bonkers but after the full plan was unfolded they have come round to our way of thinking that everything is possible,  or at least excepted or madness).

All of the land paperwork has now been completed thanks to the hard-working solicitor (J McNally’s) of Magherafelt, we are the proud owners of the land appointed to Culnady Road, Upperlands, its taken six years in total so as you may imagine we are delighted.

Next thing will be a January trip back over to clear and survey the land fully, the house will be built on a platform to take into account  the natural slope towards the river and help protect the straw bale construction. Lots of planning to be done.

Well all for now, Happy days –  Richard & Ric.

 



Season’s Greetings and the three R’s

We haven’t posted for a while, its been a bit mad with family stuff, but it doesn’t mean we haven’t been busy.

The latest batch of Applesteamdream Apple and Cinnamon jam is ready, been put into jars and the labels are now on, ready to go into friend’s Christmas Present boxes. This year we are making as much as we can for presents, this traditional approach suits the Applesteamdream way. So our friends can expect homemade things like: Egyptian Dukkha; jams; brownies; chutneys; lemon curd; as well as other non-edible delights. It seems to give a whole new dimension to the run up to the winter holidays.  Presents will be wrapped, this year, in brown paper with coloured ribbon. Ribbon can be re-used, and because there’s no sellotape, the brown paper can be used again, following the 3 R’s mantra: Reduce, Re-use, Recycle. Jam jars can be bought but why not save jars after use. We save all our glass jars and sterilise them, wash, then in bicarbonate of soda and hot water, then in the oven for a few minutes, usually when the oven is already hot from baking….waste not want not (even the heat in the oven is re-used).

By making many of the presents ourselves we have also managed to reduce our carbon footprint, by not buying things that have been shipped all over the world. The apples were from a family friend’s tree, which would have dropped to the ground and be lost. Its amazing when you start on this journey, how much fruit you see going to waste in people’s gardens. Next year, I am going to walk around the neighbourhood and offer some pots of jam or chutney in exchange for the fruit.  It’ll save them having to clear up the windfall from their gardens too.

This afternoon we are putting the trimmings up, usually they go up on December 1st, but all this prep has put us in the Christmas mood. The cake that was baked a few weeks ago will get another drink of Brandy…..MMMmmmm WARNING: “Please Don’t Eat Christmas Cake and Drive”…not ours anyway. It’ll be another couple of weeks before the marzipan will be made and the cake covered. Please have a go at making your own marzipan, its easy and tastes so much better. TIP: leave the marzipan covered cake for up to a week to settle, before adding the icing.

Looking forward this afternoon: to mince pies, cappuccino with a sprinkling of cinnamon on and Christmas music as the flat takes on its winter festive mantel.

Season’s Greetings

Ric & Richard xx

Applesteamdream



Green message sent to us by a friend…

Green Thing

Anonymous

In the queue at the store, the cashier told an older woman that  she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.

The woman apologized to him and explained, “We didn’t have the green thing back in my day.”

The clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment.”

He was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be      washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But we didn’t  have the green thing back in our day.

We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and  didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that old lady is right; we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in  every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana . In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us.      When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used a  wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic      bubble wrap. Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But      she’s right; we didn’t have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn’t have  the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.



Pantry Plans

We haven’t posted since before the visit we had to Grand Designs Live (GDL). We’ve had lots of things to sort out, and we haven’t had much time to go through all the information we gathered there. One project that has progressed in the planning stage, through discussions around being carbon neutral is our plans to have a vented pantry.

At GDL we noticed a simple pantry cupboard design which utilises some basic principles of food preservation. “In the old days”, they used to have a pantry to keep food in. These were often bare brick walled with shelves attached. In some cases the shelves, or a specific shelf for dairy produce, would be made of stone, slate or granite. These cold stones used to stay even in summer months, reducing the need for refrigeration. Other methods of cold storage have included root cellars, ceramic or terracotta jars. The design we saw utilised two of these principles, it had a slab of granite as the main shelf, and terracotta, lidded jars for further storage of bread and potatoes.

 you can just make out the shelf and the terracotta jars. These jars were set into pull out drawers for ease of access. The design has the added benefit that the granite slab is above the jars; this means that the cool air generated by the granite will sink down, cooling the jars further.

We have done some planning and research and have come across various ideas to increase the efficiency of this idea. Our pantry needs to be on the north side of the house, thus avoiding sun from the south warming the outside wall. We intend to make all the shelves out of stone to create more cold zones and an insulated door. To increase the cooling process we intend to fit the pantry with a chimney in the roof and a vent in the floor. This would be utilizing basic principles to keep the food cool: hot air rises, (through the chimney) as it does this, cool air is drawn in from lower down. All we need to add to this is a filter system to keep mould/fungus out and voila, nice cool pantry.

Ric & Richard

x



Applesteam Dream- Apple Jam and Fresh Bread

First trial of Apple Jam

 I tried a setting on my breadmaker I’ve never used before. I’ve always, in the past used it to make bread from start to finish, but have never been overly impressed with the results. Now I use it to make the dough, but then transfer it to a bread/cake tin to rise a little more, and place it in the oven, much better loaf, and no hole in the bottom because of the mixing paddle.

But today I decided to try the jam setting. I had been given some apples by a friend of my Mum’s, lovely lady that does errands for my parents. So I decided to make some apple jam, with a little cinnamon added at the end. I didn’t realise how easy it was to make, and how few ingredients you need: apples, sugar with pectin (to help it set), lemon juice, a little water, cinnamon.

It filled the flat with the lovely smell of “Applesteam” when it was heating and stirring itself. It has set rather nicely too. We haven’t tried it yet, that’ll be in the morning when Richard comes over to pick me up to go to Grand Designs Live in Birmingham www.granddesignslive.com

We are having toast, made with homemade bread, my Mum’s homemade damson jam and my homemade apple jam…lovely.

xx

Ric



A Lovely Gift

Last evening Ric surprised me with a ticket to the Grand Designs Live show (which is tomorrow, Sat 8th Oct). The show has a massive section on Eco building, straw bale construction and different heating/cooling systems. I’m not sure I have enough brain space to take it all in in one day so a reusable bag filled with hopefully recycled leaflets will be required.
We will return with ideas & photos soon.
I can feel some tired feet coming on.

Take care, Richard