Gemma Boyd

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since Aug 14, 2022
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My wish is to enhance face-to-face communication, creativity and connection for the well-being of diverse communities in an age where all living beings are facing existential crisis.

I am a heartfelt, incisive and versatile professional musician, private music teacher, published writer, mixed media artist, Forward Prize-nominated poet and organic gardener with international experience, who charges fair and appropriate rates.

Currently I am interested in selling my art, facilitating trauma-integrating creative workshops for adult survivors of incest, and in building my cob cottage in a non-capitalist setting.
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Hainault, Essex, England
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Recent posts by Gemma Boyd

r ranson wrote:Today it was warm enough to wear sandals without socks for the first time this year.

This makes me happy

Last Octobet I made the heartwrencing decision to move on from running my two allotments (community gardens), but with the dawn of plants coming into bud, I’m celebrating that I’ve managed to transplant nearly all species from the allotments into my back garden - including having successfully rooted fig, juniper and hopefully apple, pear and damson branch cuttings. I’m happy now to be gardening on my own terms without my stuff being ruined, stolen and my attempts at growing as an organic gardener thwarted. I’ve bought all of my ‘wild camping’ essentials meaning I can travel and be even closer to nature. Spring is also signifying my trying to get back into my music practise after coming to terms with having a long-term chronic health condition. Here is a video I made
in my garden accompanied by myself on violin the other day…
1 week ago

S Rogers wrote:

Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. And I’m equally passionate about helping others do the same. Why, you ask? Because I believe we can change the world through homesteading!

The House and Homestead Blog

The modern homesteading lifestyle is all about getting back to basics, including growing, cooking and preserving your own food, making your own home and personal care products with all-natural ingredients, crafting your own herbal medicine and generally living a simpler, more sustainable, more self-sufficient lifestyle.

On this blog you’ll find recipes, tutorials and articles related to these topics and more.

Modern Homesteading Magazine

Each issue is packed with seasonally-themed tips, tools, recipes and inspiration to help and encourage you on your homesteading journey.

Subscribe Now! to get the latest issue and gain instant access to our entire library of past issues!

A Free Resource Library

Welcome to The House & Homestead’s FREE resource library, where you’ll find all sorts of freebies and useful downloads to help you on your own homesteading journey, including my printable labels, charts, checklists, eBooks and more!

The House and Homestead Courses

Enrich your homestead journey with courses from The House and Homestead.  Anna covers topics ranging from food preservation to soil and gardening.   Learn and connect with your very own homesteading community: The Society of Self Reliance

This looks amazing! Thank you!
1 month ago

Sergei Boutenko wrote:

I love and am excited to explore the contents of the 10 ebooks, Sergei; thank you!
1 month ago

Paul Sofranko wrote:The Art Day: Half-assed Holiday was recently celebrated on Feb 23 at Wheaton Labs.

- signs and labels
 - maybe tiny rock jacks to hold up outdoor signs
 - food that would be served at an art gallery
           o foods impaled with toothpicks
           o foods served on a cracker
           o grapes

Dez starts us off with reporting, "Yesterday was Art Day—we made signs and labels, and then prepared a charcuterie spread with schmears and crackers and other horsdvuers.. because an Art gallery might serve such a thing..!"

Looks delish:

Magdalene shows off a spiffy. sign for the seed library:

More deliciousness:

Remember the Arrakis sign up above? Here it is in the creative stage from Caleb's journal:

Caleb also worked on a support for an existing sign: Quote: "While everybody else decided to create a sign of some kind I decided to build a miniature rock-jack for a sign we already had.  Pretty impressive what round wood will take without splitting but maybe that's just because it was wet from all the snow.  Hopefully it holds up to the dry summer heat as well.  Regardless, a quick fun low intensity project and now i've got the muscle memory to build bigger ones for fencing."


Pam, a new boot, got into the spirit of the Art Day Half-assed Holiday' sign making ritual.

This all looks great!
1 month ago

Stephen B. Thomas wrote:BRK #185

Happy Pina Colada Day to you...!

I'll save the "in-progress" photo of the Solarium bunks for tomorrow, as I think it will be finished then and there are already plenty of photographs to post for today's Half-Assed Holiday celebrations.

One of the main things for Pina Colada Day would be to improve something in the Library and/or the Dock (the long work-table/desk in the Library), and Moto Jeff and Caleb were in charge of that. Grey and I, on the other hand, were in charge of the food and libations for the occasion. So I snagged a bunch of photos of our pizza-making and drink-making efforts. Here we go.

Bringing up the temperature of the house to at least 80F is a primary objective for the day, and we can check-off that one. Sure, we could have been a bit more diligent with this objective, but I felt pizza and Pina Coladas were a higher priority. We eventually nailed all three of those, at least.

We also wanted to make a bunch of pizzas. Grey started off our sourdough crusts (thanks, SEPPer Austin!), and then I finished them off. It's been a minute since I made a pizza, and I'd never used the house oven for any baking, so it was a personal adventure and definitely a learning experience. Things turned out all right, I'd say.

It may not have been the most-flawless of Half-Assed Holidays so far this year, but the rum in the Pina Coladas seemed to have smoothed-out the rough edges for almost everyone.
(as an aside: if anyone knows of a decent vegan pizza-cheese recipe, please share it... All the store-bought varieties are sorely lacking, in my opinion...)

We wrapped the evening with a screening of the Disney version of Swiss Family Robinson, made in 1960. Apart from wanting the tiger to really really eat someone, it delivered what it promised, and for a film as old and potentially-hokey as that one, it still holds up as far as family shows are concerned.

That's all for now. Thanks for reading, and enjoy your day...!

This all looks great, Stephen. Thanks for sharing!
2 months ago

Creighton Samuels wrote:

Pearl Sutton wrote:A memory bubbled up today while thinking about this thread...

I college I knew  a guy who lived in an unheated house. He did something he called "sleeping with the laundry" He had four big sheets, safety pinned together two and two, into giant pillowcases, and his clean laundry was in one (the top one) and his dirty clothes were put in the bottom one. He slept between them. When he started getting cold at night because there wasn't much in the clean bag above him, it was time to do his wash.

Definitely using what was at hand, and the things at hand did not include a closet or dresser. So he killed a lot of birds with one rock here, kept his room neater as all his clothes were in one bag or the other, warmed up at night, plus had storage space for his clothes. In summer he slept on top of both bags.

It occured to me just now, that this thread, and this idea in particular, should be translated into German and spread around the German speaking internet.  There's going to be a lot of Germans who can use these tips this coming winter.

What a wonderful idea! Thanks for passing it on!
2 months ago

Sergei Boutenko wrote:

Sergei, Thank you so much for your film! I learnt heaps and am definitely inspired to explore this further! Best wishes, Gemma
2 months ago

Pearl Sutton wrote:This idea is related to the thread Adding Heating Zones to the House where I talked of making it so rooms in the house can be curtained off for heating issues, I have been checking my tents for set up in the house if needed. Cutting the amount of space you need to heat can be VERY useful, and curtains and tents can partition space nicely.

I'm living in a rental, a cheap tract house that the heating involves electricity, in an area that's known for losing power (especially in ice storms,) and they have been predicting rolling blackouts for the winter. It's a cheap tract house, with insulation issues at best, I fixed a bunch of them last year, but the structure of this house is just badly built, there's a limit to what I can do. So I'm making sure that I have a plan ready to implement if I need it in the winter.

Tents can be a great size for sleeping in, and tend to stay warm with body heat. Mylar sheets or light blankets or can be tossed over them (watch the weight!) to insulate them further. Mylar can be the cheap little space blankets (taped together if needed) or it can be bought in rolls (I recommend buying them NOW if you are likely to need them.) Type "mylar rolls" into any search engine, lots of hits. Lightweight blankets are probably available second hand, make sure to wash them, and if you are sure you will be using them, you might drape them over the tent now when you are testing it (see below) and use safety pins to take pleats in it to make it fit well. Then if you need it, it will drop into place easily.

It's currently late July, and tents are easily available, and on sale for the season ending. They are also showing up in thrift stores as people buy new ones, check the poles carefully after buying it if you buy used. Bad fiberglass poles are not a deal breaker for used tents, they are easy to replace. Tent pole repair kits are worth buying for any tent. Make sure the pole diameter matches if you have to buy a repair kit.

If you want to consider this, I suggest:
>>> Measure your spaces, if you move what you can, what are the biggest dimensions you can use in each direction? Take good notes!

>>> Look for tents that will fit into your space. Ideally you want space left to walk around it. Putting it up WILL be trickier without walking space. Tents with a hexagon footprint fit square spaces weird, make sure you leave extra room if you have a hexagon tent.

>>> When you get one, I REALLY recommend learning how to work it over the summer, before you are in need of it and learning things the hard way. Put it up outside, where you have lots of room. Look at how it goes up, where it can flex or not. When using a pop up style tent, the joints can NOT be flexed in odd angles, they WILL break. Fiberglass poles are more forgiving, but it's still worth having a repair kit on hand.  

>>> When using a tent with fiberglass poles that hook together, you can open joints up, feed the poles through, and hook them back up in order to have space to thread it in the house. If you will need to do that, practice it out in the yard. In the house is a lousy place to learn to do something tricky. I'm a big fan of practicing skills when it's easy, so you are already competent when you need them. In the dark, when it's cold, with crying kids is a bad time to learn anything.

>>> A pop up type tent is great in that you don't have the pole problem and they set up in their own footprint. They do not flex, and you cannot change their size though. They go up quickly and easily. Buying them second hand is iffy, they tend to be there due to broken joints, and the joints are not easy to fix. The twist up kid tents might be worth looking at!

>>> If you have fiberglass poles you can make the space smaller by folding one or two joints of each pole out of the way and hooking it there. It will make the tent baggy, and the excess fabric will need tucking and adjusting, but it will make the ceiling lower so less space needs heating.

>>> Open flame can NOT be used to heat a tent, they catch fire AMAZINGLY FAST! What CAN be done for heat includes:

    ~~~ Insulate. See above about blankets or mylar. The advantage to having a tent indoors is rain and wind are not a problem, so you can get away with things you would not be able to if you were camping. Watch weight on the top, if you need to, consider running stabilizing lines from the tent to furniture or unused doorknobs.  I keep a roll each of mason's twine and clothesline with my tents, as well as things like spring type clothespins, safety pins of all sizes, and small C clamps. Gives me lots of options for doing what I need to. Also consider insulating under it, having extra blankets or a rug ready to use saves a lot of heat if your floors are cold. Ideally you'd sleep up off the floor, this is why beds were invented, but that may be problematic to design. Consider it if you can. If it's going to be a long bad storm, hauling mattresses off the beds might be worth your time. Blow-up beds have air in them and never heat up well, if you plan to use one, have lots of extra padding between you and it, as they will pull the heat out of you all night. If things are bad enough and it goes on long enough, dump all the clothes you own in the tent and sleep on/under them.

    ~~~ Warm bedding. Seems obvious, but I am amazed by how many people own only one or two blankets, assuming the house heat will always be there. Second hand stores are full of blankets this time of year, wash them well, and if you need storage space for them right now, put them under mattress on your bed. Flannel sheets are really nice too! Those tend to show up second hand also, and they also can fold flat and store under your mattress.

    ~~~ Body heat. It's amazing how much heat your body gives off. The more people in the tent, the higher the heat goes. If you are doing something like putting little kids in a tent of their own, it might be a good idea to have the adults hang out in the tent with the kids for a while to warm it up before going to their own tent. Better yet is to have everyone sleep in one tent so body heat is shared. Dogs and cats are warm, as are all livestock but sharing a tent with goats might not be pleasant!

    ~~~ Bring in warm items. If you cook dinner on a fire or cooker of some sort, or at a neighbor's or even in the kitchen if you are doing this just to cut your bills, heat an extra pan or kettle of water to bring into the tent, if not, bring your food into the tent to add it's warmth as you eat it. If for any reason there is something warm that can be brought in, do it. If you have to drive anywhere, put something that will hold heat near a heater vent of the car and warm it up, put it in the tent immediately upon arrival.

    ~~~ Catalytic heaters Wikipedia about them: Catalytic_heater It's a chemical reaction, not a fire, they are safe for tents and trailers. Look for them online under camping equipment. Hand warmers are a type of catalytic heater. Make sure if you are going to use one of these you have the fuel it needs, and me being me, I'd say buy it now. I have two catalytic heaters from camping, and have the fuel I need stocked. If you have one that needs flame lighting, do it OUTSIDE, not in the house at ALL, then bring it in when it's running. Having a carbon monoxide alarm (sold by the smoke alarms) is wise, as is having a smoke alarm. Being too safe is better than not safe enough.

What did I forget to mention? Please tell us! I am getting all of this straight right now,and would LOVE to know if I'm missing something.

What a wonderful and really inspiring post, Pearl - thank you. I’ve just bought a tent and wild camping gear in preparation for one day maybe being a boot at Wheaton Labs. I need my own space - especially at night, and am doing practice camps in my back garden: my tent feels cosy and warm during the day but like a self-interrogation room at night with all of my mind-monsters coming home to roost! This post will help me get friendly with my tent. I’d love to set it up inside the house but there’s no room - but it serves as another area to shelter and feel closer to nature’s night life outside.
2 months ago

Paul Sofranko wrote:

Quilt Day - Half-Assed Holiday

On Wed jan 18 the the Boots celebrate Quilt day - half-assed holiday!

 - collectively make one quilt for one thing
     o maybe a window quilt
     o maybe a curtain for somthing
     o maybe a bed quilt
 - each person has their own square or two to be added to the quilt
 - they can add messages with laundry markers
 - each boot can add their name
 - somewhere it says "bootcamp 2023"

These look amazing! I especially love the window quilt! Thanks for sharing.

Magdalene took this photo of a window quilt  being made for the kitchen:

Cute quilt-squared ravioli:

Jeff shows off some Quilt Day fun:

Looks nice!:

Quilt ravioli:

2 months ago