New Years Marmalade

It’s the time of the year for marmalade, the Seville oranges have been in the shops and thoughts are directed to making a years supply of marmalade. The reason for this sudden desire to slice 6 pounds of oranges is two fold. It tastes better and it’s cheaper!

For several years now I’ve put the oranges in a food processor to chop them, but this year I decided to slice by hand. Oh my word, I was so surprised how pleasant it was to sit and slice the oranges by hand (with a nice serrated steak knife) in the quiet. A very simple life thing to do, and it was easier to extract the pips too!

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Once the sliced oranges have soaked over night they are meant to be simmered to reduce the liquid by a third. When I had heated the the water in the pan and added the sugar I realised I hadn’t done that!!!

I managed to rescue it by taking some liquid out, adding more sugar and a bottle of liquid pectin. Here on my pantry shelf are twenty jars of marmalade. I now feel like Moomin Mama and I have a very happy husband!

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It tastes exceptionally good too 🙂

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New Chicken House

To start off the new year of my Simple Life Blog, I’m excited to show you our new chicken house. Considering a chicken house the size we needed would have cost around £900 without nesting boxes etc, we decided to be creative and find an alternative solution.

This second hand polytunnel we found was the right size and only cost us £80!!!!new-house-1
All that was needed was to secure the sides with chicken wire so they can’t dig their way out.

We have a shut down for chickens here in the UK at the moment because of bird flu, but as soon as that is past we are going to cut out a large window along the the front and fill with chicken wire.

new-house-2So here they are, all secure and safe with lots of room. The nesting boxes you can see in the front corners are made from insulated dog beds which are easy to clean and only cost £35 each!

new-house-3The result, happy chickens and happy Debbie! 🙂

Garden Success

How do you see success in your garden? Are you like me expecting that you can achieve what you might  consider great things as well as working and looking after you family and your house?! I continually have to put this success into perspective. There is only so much time you can put into growing things unless you are putting all of your time into being self sufficient (so my husband keeps telling me)!

I’ve just been out to explore the garden that gets attended way less than I’d like, to pick some things for lunch and this is some of what I saw.

I have pumpkins,

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beetroot,

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chillies,

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peppers

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and tomatoes

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and my husband says I should call this success! 🙂

We Made a Pond

We just went outside one day and collected everything together, gradually placing things where we wanted them. The only thing we actually bought was a couple of pond plants! 🙂pond-1 pond-2 pond-3 There’s a frog under there!pond-4 pond-5There’s still a bit to do, but I’m happy 🙂

Peppers

Here’s a long awaited update from the green house.

These are red sweet peppers from bought seed.  I don’t want to speak too soon but I think they are doing alright.

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These are chilli peppers I got free from a magazine. ‘Demon Red’ There were only five seeds and I have three healthy plants from them. By the sound of their name, they are gonna be hot!

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These are ‘Scotch Bonnet’ chillies, from my own saved seed. They are looking good. If you look carefully you can see little buds forming on the top of the plants 🙂

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These are common red chillies, medium heat, from my own saved seed. I dried some of these before and they keep well.

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Can’t wait until they start turning red. I must look after them carefully now so as not to loose the fruit!:-)

Exciting things happening in the green house

Things have definitely warmed up around here and the temperature in the green house is above 30 degrees. If you’re not used to British weather, that is exciting for this time of year!

I’m so pleased with how the things are growing. I have several varieties of tomatoes, red peppers, three varieties of chilli peppers, cucumbers, rocket and radish.

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Some will be transplanted outside and some in the poly tunnel and some will stay in the green house. I’m especially pleased as I didn’t do very well with these last year! 🙂

Home Grown Chicken for Dinner

Well, this is a huge sense of achievement. We’ve just had one of our own home grown chickens for dinner. These are three more going in the freezer. One small step towards self sufficiency! Girls for laying, boys for eating 🙂P1380113
We pot roasted one (which I forgot to photograph to show you) and this is a risotto with some leftovers. I also plan a pie or pasty for tonight and then make some stock for some soup.P1380114
This makes me happy! 🙂