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Thursday, 31 March 2011

Waste Not, Want Not!

To Freecycle or not to Freecycle, that is the question...

And my answer is...To Freecycle!!

http://www.freecycle.org/

I joined the Freecycle network about a yr ago, but I must admit, have only been using it more frequently in the past six months.

Its a fab place to look for gardening stuff that someone no longer wants/needs, and it's not just garden stuff - people get rid of all sorts, from house items to broken down cars! Keeping more "junk" out of landfill!

Sometimes I'm even amazed at what people are giving away for free, I personally would try floggin it on Ebay first!!!!

You can either post an "offer" of an unwanted item or a "wanted" for something you need. I have posted a "wanted" for a shed and was given a lovely 5x7 shed, all I had to do was go pick it up! Simple!
I have also used it to get rid of various items, such as a box of old videos, bag of teddies, a chimney topper and even my top soil from our huge garden!

All you need to do is join your local groups and keep an eye on it every couple of days as it is first come first served!

Now Freecycle is not the only place - I have just discovered Freegle too, which is Yahoo based groups..

http://www.ilovefreegle.org/groups/

As the saying goes..

One Mans Rubbish Is Another Mans Treasue!!!!

Mel
@Honestlyitseasy
@Tikobear

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

So here we are!!

So we thought it may be nice for you to be able to put a face to the words on the screen!

So here we are


Claire is on the left and Mel on the right.

Please feel free to come and chat to us and add us up on our personal profiles as well as our Honestly It’s Easy profiles, here is all the information you should need!

Claire
Twitter:
@CropredyChicken
@Honestlyitseasy
@steelsyrockitup

Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/5wlnbp7


Mel
Twitter:
@Honestlyitseasy
@Tikobear

Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/6kptbdk


Our Honestly It’s Easy Facebook Page is;

http://tinyurl.com/6b7tkh2

As always thanks for reading, and keep in touch!!

Our website is currently being designed and we hope to have some competitions and more updates coming your way soon!

It’s all very exciting – enjoy the ride!

Claire and Mel

xxx

What to fill the raised beds with .....

When I went out to our area for raised beds the other evening I noticed a few of my carefully placed plant labels had been moved. I expect the culprit is Henrietta who is a Bantam Modern Game Chicken who insists that the coop area is not somewhere she should be and jumps up on the chicken house roof and over into the rest of the garden which since I have started sowing seeds is forbidden for the cheeky little chickens! She seems to be the only one that does this, what a rebel!

So before I forget what I’ve planted where I’ve drawn up a little plan!


Now I am by no means an expert in growing vegetables and this is the first lot of vegetables we are attempting at our new house (the ground was like clay when we first moved in we’ve been improving it with lots of chicken manure and stuff over the last 12 months).

I’ve also got some chillies and tomatoes started off in the house and now that the cold frame area is nearly finished (just some last minute touches to do should be fully operational by the weekend!), I can really start getting cracking on seedlings etc. We are going to try and grow our own ginger this year as well, never done it before so any tips would be very welcome!

All the best!

Claire
Xx

Twitter:
@CropredyChicken
@Honestlyitseasy
@steelsyrockitup

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

The Cropredy Plan

Not to be out done by the other half of Honestly It’s Easy ;) I have created my own colourful plan of the garden!

There are a few changes that are going to be made over the coming months;


The chicken enclosure is going to be extended – reviewed plans will be blogged about in the coming weeks. The cold frame will get finished this week, nothing like recycling a bit of junk out of the garden! And the massive pile of rubble will be sorted out at some point hopefully.

The grass on this plan looks quite extensive but to be honest where half the lawn has been dug up etc it doesn’t look that green at the moment so we are going to try and sort that problem out as well.

I’ll get some more detailed plans of the raised beds sorted out as well – at least then I’ll be able to remember where I have sown things even if my little labels disappear or get moved!

All the best!

Claire
Xx

Twitter:
@CropredyChicken
@Honestlyitseasy
@steelsyrockitup

Monday, 28 March 2011

Blooming Thieves!!

Well I can't quite believe it, got home today to find our greenhouse frame gone! Yep, while we've been out, some little sniper decided to help themselves to our greenhouse from our back garden!!! The cheek of it!

I'm gathering from the fact that they left the kids toys, the tools and the bbq that all they were after was "scrap" metal. Well even if my greenhouse had no glass and hadn't been built, I wouldn't class it as "scrap"!!

To calm myself from this, I decided to plant some seeds, very therapeutic!

Those pesky pinchers won't dampen my spirits for home grown veg!!!!!

Mel
@honestlyitseasy
@Tikobear

The Plan....

So I finally converted my scribbles on paper into a more refined plan...more...well...professional (ish)


Phase One: Chicken Coop & Shed One - DONE
Phase Two: Raised Beds built and filled - Nearly Done
Phase Three: Second Shed & Greehouse - Currently looking!
Phase Four: Plant Seeds/plugs etc - Ongoing
Phase Five: Patio & Grass Seed play area for boys
Phase Six: Fire Pit
Phase Seven: ENJOY!!!!

Then it'll be the start on the front!!!! Driveway, and flower garden!
Busy few months ahead me thinks!!!

Mel
@honestlyitseasy
@Tikobear

Interested in submitting a guest blog?

Ok, so here at Honestly It’s Easy we want to get in contact and have connections with like minded people!

So we were wondering, is there any other bloggers or facebookers or tweeters who would be interested in submitting a guest blog to our page? We are also working on getting a website set up as well so it would also feature on that. More inforamtion on that when its up and running! How exciting!!

If you are interested then please either drop us a comment on this post or email us at the following email address

honestlyitseasy@gmail.com

Look forward to hearing from you and collaborating with you lovely people!!!

Best Love

Claire & Mel
Honestly Its Easy

@honestlyitseasy
@Tikobear
@CropredyChicken
@steelsyrockitup

Don’t forget you can also add us up on facebook!

www.facebook.com/home.php#!/profile.php?id=100002085921583

Saturday, 26 March 2011

The absent sunshine didn't stop us today!!!

Its amazing how much the weather can change your mood, when the sun is shining I can jump out of bed, smile on my face ready to tackle the day, if its not, I'm like Victor Meldrew who's just discovered cat poo in the flower patch!!!!

Well this morning took me a little time to get into action, but by golly when I did it actually turned out quite productive!

My other half finished our first raised bed and we have now planted our first veggie - The onion set (Turbo) YAY!

We then had a visit from the other half of Honestly Its Easy, Claire, who didn't just watch us while she drank her cup of tea, she actually got stuck in, so we tackled the huge box of strawberry plants that have been sat waiting to be planted since January, I think we counted about 20 plants! Unfortunately I don't have room for them all, so Claire ended up taking some home which still left me with too many, so I will be asking my little boys school if they would like them for the garden!

We also managed to get both the cherry trees in (a cooking variety and a sweet one), some more flower plants planted in the front garden, some general tidying up and we let the table bird chicks out into the big run. (I just couldn't cope with the mess in the house any more!)

Now I always pay my helpers....with unlimited cups of tea and a bacon sandwich! Now thats what I call a bloody good day at work!!!!! Thanks guys!

Mel
@honestlyitseasy
@Tikobear

Friday, 25 March 2011

Yukky Ginger Beer that has the odour of smelly socks!

Oh dear me! After making such a big deal of making our own Ginger Beer it was disgusting!

Something obviously went wrong somewhere along the line but I honestly don’t know what and when, but it smelt like a pair of old mans dirty socks and tasted pretty much the same! Nonetheless I shall not be defeated and shall try again but I’m going to use a different recipe this time, I found this recipe from Jamie Oliver

To make 5 Gallons of ALCOHOLIC ginger beer. Use 1.5 Lbs of Ginger root. 4 Kg's of sugar. 4 or 5 Lemons. Boil and simmer all ingredients in a large pan for 30 mins(enough to get really lovely ginger taste) then pour into barrel , make sure water is lukewarm and add 2 sachets of champagne yeast.
Wait 7 days. Bottle , leave for further 7 days at room temperature then chill and enjoy!
Finished product will be around 4 - 5 % proof!

www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/other-recipes/easy-peasy-ginger-beer


On the upside I did manage to get the other two raised beds sorted out, and now I’m sat watching the grand prix qualifying working out what seeds I can sow :)


And the girls shed got sprayed to try and break the red mite cycle!

All the best!

Claire
Xx

Twitter:
@CropredyChicken
@Honestlyitseasy
@steelsyrockitup

Don’t forget you can also add us up on facebook!

www.facebook.com/home.php#!/profile.php?id=100002085921583

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Hurrah! The Sunshine has arrived!

With the recent arrival of the sunshine and the changing of the clocks this weekend it seems to have given me a sudden burst of energy! Hurrah! Spring has finally started! So this weekend I intend to make the most of it! I have started one of my famous ‘job lists’, I’m the type of person who has lists to organise lists – it’s a horrible addiction but it appears to be the only way I get everything and indeed anything done!

So on the list of jobs to do this weekend are;

Finish the cold frame in the back garden which was started last year but never completed.

Complete the other two raised beds over on the vegetable plot

Give the chicken shed a spring clean, we’ve got a little bit of red mite at the moment so the whole thing needs to be sprayed and cleaned well (I’ll do a separate post about that soon with some more information on what we are using and it’s effectiveness etc)

Introduce the table birds chicks who have now been in a separate cage outside for a week to the rest of the flock and watch the fireworks that this will cause!

Have a general tidy up around the garden – and clean the table and chairs which have been used over the winter by the chickens so you can imagine the state they are in!

Sow my carrots and get my chatted potatoes sorted out.

Also got to fit in housework, Birthday drinks with friends, a visit to my brother and also a trip to see Mel(the other half of Honestly its Easy) and the boys, and paper work! Oh and the formula 1 season kicks of in Australia this weekend! It’s all going on! How exciting!!!

Don’t forget as well tonight at 8pm on BBC 2 A Farmer’s Life for Me – the final is on! Come on Ray and Jayne!

All the Best – have a great weekend Everyone! Let’s hope this sunshine sticks around!!

Claire
Xx

Twitter:
@CropredyChicken
@Honestlyitseasy
@steelsyrockitup


Peas and toms have started to come through on our windowsills !

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Make Your Own Traditional Ginger Beer Kit

So for Christmas I purchased a make your own Traditional Ginger Beer Kit for my nearest and dearest!

Totally forgot to give it to him for Christmas and came across it in a drawer the other day so we are giving it a bash now.

Directions are as follows;

Put 200g sugar, 1 heaped tablespoon of spice mix and the juice of a lemon into a bowl. Pour on 2 litres of boiling water, stirring well and allow to cool. Sprinkle 1 packet of yeast onto the liquid, cover and leave to stand in a moderately warm place for 3 days. Stir and transfer liquid into a PET bottle. Scre top tight and leave in the same warm environment for 4 days. Relive pressure each day by loosening top momentarily. On the 4th day relieve pressure, allow beer to settle, then carefully transfer to a large jug, leaving the dregs behind. Chill if required. Enjoy!

So we now just have a further 2 days to wait until we can do the final stage of transferring it into a jug leaving the dregs behind. Having never made this before it will be interesting to see and taste how it turns out, we will keep you updated in a couple of days!!

If you have a recipe for Ginger Beer you would like to share with us please drop us a message – we’d love to hear from you!!

All the best

Claire
Twitter:
@CropredyChicken
@Honestlyitseasy
@steelsyrockitup

Monday, 21 March 2011

So I was fed up with the mess in the kitchen ...........



The sun was shining, so I decided the table birds could go outside for the first time!!! They loved it!

Friday, 18 March 2011

Edible Garden Show 2011 – Stoneleigh


So today one half of Honestly It’s Easy went to the Edible Garden Show in Stoneleigh (the other half is off to the show in sunday!).  It’s a 3 day show quite literally packed full of anything and everything you can think of in the world of Edible Gardening.


The whole event is very well laid out and has regular talks from industry professionals on anything from Keeping chickens to edible flowers, with a sprinkling of the WI!

There’s also a marquee with a small selection of chickens in, some beautiful specimens on show from the Poultry Club www.poultryclub.org, and lots of scrumptious pigs!


Personally for me stand out stalls were;

Bubble House Worms Stand number 344 www.bubblehouseworms.co.uk

Jimmy’s Farm –Stand number 4 - Ray and Jayne from My Dream Farm were selling some lovely sausages www.jimmysfarm.com

Feathers Stand number 122 www.feathers-animal-housing.com


Stand out products from the day were Spiced Carrot Chutney from Heathers Harvest Stall number  382 www.heathers-harvest.co.uk



Gardeners Honey Hand Cream Elegance Natural Skin Care Stall number 6 www.natural-skincare.com



All in all a very well presented, organised and informative event – I look forward to incorporating many of the ideas I saw and spoke to people about in my garden over the coming months – watch this space!!!

Who knows maybe next year we will be there with our own stall alongside the Cropredy Chicken Company! www.cropredychickencompany.com

All the best!

Claire
Twitter:
@CropredyChicken
@Honestlyitseasy
@steelsyrockitup

Oh and whilst I was out we had some chicks hatch – there’s 5 so far – 2 still to hatch hopefully!!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The Transformation has begun.....

So Claire has updated you about her home brew, raised beds and cheeky Pekins, now it's my turn.

We moved into a brand new house in Jan 2011 with a HUGE back garden. Now to say the least, it was quite the mess!


Unfortunately the rather large greenhouse at the back was just too unsafe to keep (much to my dissapointment) and the remaining "stuff" just had to go.

We wanted a complete blank canvas to start from scratch.

We have many plans for this garden, it needs to accomodate my gorgeous chickens, grow all our own fruit & veg and have an area for my two little munches to play on!!

So, we begin, firstly, the whole lot gets cleared, then for the chicken coop, a rather lush new pad to graze in and I must admit, they are more happy here than in our old garden! They seem to be laying more, their combs are much brighter and they have plumped out far more than usual! (Though I'm not sure if all that is due to the handsome young Russell we now have keeping them in order!!)

Last weekend we decided to start the raised beds, in which all our veg will be grown (plus some in pots). We don't need masses of it, as we are only a family of four, so just enough to feed us really, though we always get gluts so I'm sure we'll be giving some away!

Now I have no idea what the gentleman used to do with his stuff in this garden, (though I can imagine!!) but we spent the best of four hours removing hundreds of pieces of broken clay pots and broken glass from literally a 2 metre squared area, Time consuming...Yes! Annoying... Yes! Be worth it in the end...Definately!

I have to admit as much as the previous tenant got my back up while digging all this out the ground, i have to say the soil is bloody marvellous! Soft, dark, and just ...well....perfect!

So there you go, the story has begun, Once Upon A Time this garden used to be a mess, soon we'll be living "Happily Ever After"

Stay Tuned!!!!!

Mel.

Twitter:
@honestlyitseasy
@Tikobear

P.S. We're attending the Edible Garden show this weekend, really looking forward to getting some fab new ideas for this project!
http://www.theediblegardenshow.co.uk/

Monday, 14 March 2011

Update on Home Brew, Raised Beds, and Cheeky Pekins!

As blogged about previously, I am trying to brew some home brew.


So the update is, the wine is finished and bottled and surprisingly tastes great!



 It does say on the instructions that the wine gets better if left, but I couldn’t wait so I cracked open a bottle yesterday afternoon whilst watching the rugby!

2 raised beds are also complete, the other two will hopefully be done this weekend.  I’ve never really grown anything in raised beds before so it will be interesting to see what happens.



Let the Lavendar Pekins out for a while on Saturday as well and they went straight to the finished beds for a mud bath!  Cheeky little monkeys!


We took a little video of them as well.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=cB3luUKv1EE

It's been quite a busy weekend - potatoes are chitting up well, hopefully the wather will be nice this wekend so I can get out in the garden again!

All the best!

Claire

Twitter:
@CropredyChicken
@Honestlyitseasy
@steelsyrockitup

Not entirely sure what happened but when I got up to let the girls out this weekend Pat was wandering round the garden.  Initially I though they may not have been locked up properly.  On further investigation it appears that something tried to get in their cage, and as a consequence we have lost a chick. The other two seem to be ok though.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Onion Bhaji


We had friends over last night for a curry and tried my hand at making some onion bhajis.  For a first go they turned out alright!



Here is the recipe.  I put ours in the oven for 10 minutes after I had drained them on kitchen roll because the curry wasn’t quite ready and I think it crisped them up a little bit extra as well.

Onion Bhaji

Ingredients

2 free-range eggs
3 Onions, cut up in bit sized pieces
4oz Plain Flour
1 tsp Ground Coriander
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 tbsp Tumeric
Salt and Pepper
Vegetable or sunflower Oil for cooking

Instructions

Beat the eggs thoroughly together in a bowl with the salt and pepper.

Add the onion rings and mix well.

Add the flour, ground coriander, cumin seeds and tumeric and stir well to combine.  I find it best to get your hands in to mix everything though at this stage.  Messy but gives it a complete coating.

Heat oil in a deep-sided frying pan over a medium heat. When the oil is hot (this is very important you want to hear the mixture sizzle when it hits the pan)  add a large spoonful of the bhaji mixture and fry for 30-45 seconds, until golden-brown.

Turn the bhaji over and fry for a further 30 seconds, until crisp and golden-brown all over. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.  Repeat with the remaining bhaji mixture, refill the oil in the pan if it begins to run a bit low and again make sure the oil is hot before adding any mixture.

Later next week I’ll post up the recipe for Paratha’s – they are an Indian pan fried flat bread – extra yummy and they can be filled with all sorts!

Hope everyone is enjoying their Sunday!

Love
Claire

Twitter:
@CropredyChicken
@Honestlyitseasy
@steelsyrockitup

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Table bird chicks 2 weeks old

A Farmers Life for me ...............

 A Farmer’s Life for me is fronted by self-taught pig farmer Jimmy Doherty, which sees nine couples compete for the chance to run their own 25-acre farm in Suffolk, with full financial backing for the first year.

Spen and I have loved this show and every Tuesday we’ve snuggled on the sofa and watched it together.  So last night when we came to watch it and found the Hairy Bikers on instead I was quite annoyed.  Even though I do love the hairy Bikers, I was really looking forward to A Farmer’s Life For Me.  It turns out they have changed the programmes around and Jimmy’s show is now on Thursday.  Why do the BBC do this – you start getting into a programme and then they swap the night!  So frustrating!

Anyhow Episode 6 this week is about how the five remaining couples learn how to milk sheep and goats.  I would love a goat so I’m sure this is only going to make me want one more!

To catch up on all the episodes click the link below;


It’s definitely worth a watch, the only slightly annoying part of the show is the way the couples say that they want to own this farm and it has been a life long dream etc, but judging from last week can’t even build a fox proof chicken coop.  Surely if it was a life long dream you would have some idea how to go about it?

You can also buy the book ‘A Farmer's Life for Me: How to live sustainably, Jimmy's way’ from Amazon;




I’ve just order it so I’ll have a butchers at it and give a review over the coming months.

Here is also the link to Jimmy’s Farms website.


Happy viewing!

Best Love

Claire
xxx

Twitter:
@CropredyChicken
@Honestlyitseasy
@steelsyrockitup

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Yummy Scrummy Pancakes!!


Delia Smith style Pancakes

Ingredients
110g / 4 oz of plain sifted flour
Pinch of salt
2 Eggs ( we collected two fresh ones from the girls this morning)
200ml milk mixed with 75 ml of water


Sift flour and salt into bowl (hold sieve high to get as much air as possible in)
Make a well in the centre of flour
Break eggs into the well
Whisk eggs into the flour

Gradually add small quantities of the milk and water mix
Whisk until the batter is smooth

Add oil into frying pan and get the pan really hot, then turn the heat down, put some mixture (dependent on how fat you want your pancakes of course – some people like them really thick others really thin) and then cook on both sides until they are nicely brown.

Don’t forget you can add all sorts of things to the batter – bananas, chocolate (if you add chocolate make sure its at the very last minute otherwise the chocolate burns), strawberries the possibilities are endless when we were kids mum used to serve them with bananas and icecream, yummy!! Nowadays I tend to go for the more traditional lemon and sugar option! Lol!

Happy Pancake Day everyone!!.

Claire

Twitter:
@CropredyChicken
@Honestlyitseasy
@steelsyrockitup