Hi everyone welcome to the new monthly blog. To start us off is Easter which is on Sunday 4th April which in the words of the Easter bunny is soon going to hop around!
Now Easter isn’t all about the chocolate (I know I gave up chocolate for lent too) but don’t worry this blog will cover chocolatey goodness. But deep down it’s about having a special day and for some there is the religious focus of the resurrection of Jesus.
Like most holidays and special days there are lots of different choices out there and to be fair it’s not easy to know what to get or what to do. Especially with this year where we can’t do absolutely everything we want or would normally do. But have no fear, I am here to take you on the Easter journey and give you some ideas for making this Easter extra special.
‘Easter on a budget’ it does not matter what budget you have. The ideas I have included in this blog you can tailor to your budget, plus I have added in some little freebie downloads and recipes which you can use for Easter or even tailor to any special day. Preparation is key, but the hardest part I find is deciding what to do, with so many choices out there it can be a little daunting. Within this blog I have come up with some examples of what you can do to make it special.
One way is to break Easter up in to manageable chunks, maybe go with the flow of the day. For example I have broken it down in to these areas breakfast, Easter treats and of course fitting in an Easter themed treasure hunt. Now to keep to your budget and in preparation write a list before you go out in to the supermarkets, decide what you are having so that you keep to your budget. Or even just use what you have already.
Easter is special regardless of what you spend on it and that’s what matters.
Eggs – no not the chocolatey kind just yet, but ordinary eggs. Get your colouring pencils out or any pen/pencil will do for this. Simply boil the egg to your requirements (here is a recipe should you need it) and voila we have an Easter themed breakfast. Or simply download an Easter picture and pop it near everyone’s favourite breakfast and colour it in and use them as placemats. Fancy chocolate at this time? Sure why not make a cup of hot chocolate and toast some hot cross buns.
Check out the this fab set of free Easter colouring links from Crayola click here to help make breakfast Easter special.
Making Easter treats can be fun for all the family. I personally love making Easter nests, don’t tell the Easter bunny but it’s not all about rabbits, Easter is often associated with chicks. Here is a recipe for Easter nests click here, now you can use cornflakes or even Weetabix just replace the shredded wheat for your cereal of choice. Why not make this extra fun and have a little picnic by making some sandwiches and nests which will make for a great fun lunch.
Of course this year we can’t go out to a pre-planned hunt, but there are lots of wonderful ideas out there, so I have put together an idea but just tailor it to you and your family that way you will have a lot more fun. Great hiding places can be found inside and outside even pots of daffodils can come in handy. Click here for the idea.
The key to any special day is just to enjoy it, hopefully the sun will be shining and we can all enjoy a bit of sunshine on Easter Sunday and the bank holiday. Have fun that’s the main thing and take photos, I would love to see your colouring, egg designs, rabbit masks or whatever you do!
That’s all for now readers, which leaves me with one last thing to say which is to wish you all a very Happy Easter and thank you for reading.
Until the next post – Have fun, stay safe and take care Pen x
Just like Pen said, we'd love to see what fun you've been up to! Email us your photos or visit us on Facebook. Any photos submitted will be shared in our photo gallery. Enjoy!
There's a new blog in town!
Hi everyone we have some fantastic news, dropping right here on our website is a brand new monthly blog. You've all seen our Sustainable September blog... We've decided it's time to go big and bring you posts all year round!
Hopping shortly on to our website will be the fantastic new post ‘Easter on a budget’.
Make note of the date Monday 29th March and get ready to read all about it!
A message from the author...
Hi everybody, my name is Pen and I have been entrusted in bringing you The Official Abbotswood Action Group Blog. Each month I will be bringing you a wide range of subjects that will cover all sorts, from seasonal such as my first post ‘Easter on a Budget’ to things we can do in and around our community. I can’t wait for this to go live, but most importantly after each post please let us know what you think as this blog is very much for you and our wonderful community. So until my first post goes live stay safe and take care.
Another short and sweet one for you... We're loving the community tips so do keep them coming!
What better way to save money than eat the same vegetable twice? And no... not just eat onions more than once in your life... we literally mean eat the same onion twice!
Like many of us, the lockdown boredom got to Alex and Jo and a few too many hours were spent on youtube… They learnt a few new tricks though, including how to regrow veggies on the windowsill to keep eating again and again. In their experience leeks and spring onions work best. The regrown leek and spring onions went into their homemade green tomato chutney... check back for the recipe!
Here's the video that got them growing...
Alex and Jo experimented with this quite a bit during lockdown. They found the best way for leeks and spring onions was to keep a fairly chunky base back and pop it in water in the windowsill. Watch the roots develop and then when you've got a reasonable size green regrowth remove from the water and pot up in fresh compost, making sure not to cover the whole thing. If you're able to you can eventually transplant them into the garden to keep merrily growing until you're ready to harvest.
Maybe we should start a competition going, who can eat one vegetable the most times? You might start getting deja vu though...
See you next time!
We asked for blackberry recipes and that's what we got! Our community worker happens to enjoy some time in the kitchen so has had great fun with this particular challenge. Keep an eye out for more of her blackberry recipes on the way. Over to you Alex...
Super Simple Fruit Compote
Fruit compotes are a great way to use up leftover fruits. Soft fruits like berries are ideal! Compotes are super simple and easy to adapt the recipe to what you have in the house...
Mix and match flavourings
For this mini-jar I used frozen foraged blackberries, a drop of orange juice, honey and mint from the garden.
1. Add the fruit to a pan over a medium heat. Allow the fruit to soften completely, stirring occasionally. Depending on the water content of the fruit you may like to add a splash of water or juice to help get things going.
2. Your mixture should gradually turn to an almost jam-like consistency, give it a taste and add whichever flavours you fancy! Some berries can be quite sharp so you may want to add something to sweeten it up a little. You won't need much to make a difference. Taste again and play with flavours until you're happy.
3. That's it. Enjoy! Fruit compote can be used as an alternative as jam but will only last for a few days in the fridge as it doesn't have all the preservatives in it. Don't waste any of this yummy concoction, only make what you need!
We had family coming over and wanted a little treat with a cup of tea. However, post lockdown people might be feeling a little wary of their waist lines... So I made wholemeal honey scones as an alternative to cake! This fruit compote is a tasty alternative to sugar filled jam and counts towards your five a day. If you were really pushing the boat you could swap the clotted cream for greek yoghurt but sometimes clotted cream is the right and only answer!
Jo topped the scones... I would have done it the right way and put compote first, OBVIOUSLY!
Check back tomorrow for more!
Tips, tips, community tips!!! These are making us very happy... Got to love it when the community get involved.
We're keeping things short and simple today, with this top tip from Ryan. As many of us do, Ryan's family had 2 cars. Recently they've made the decision get rid of the second car, making the effort to cycle when possible and using the moped when needs must. Great job team, keep up the good work!
We know this can be a big step and that's OK. We've all got to start somewhere, even baby steps are a step in the right direction. We're all human, perfection is practically impossible, just do the best that you can with what's right for you.
Some tips for getting started...
Did you know that 1 in 4 car journeys are less than a mile... A mile can be easily walked in 20 minutes, even at a beginner's pace. It's been recommended that we try to fit 30 minutes of moderate activity into our day - that can include walking. If you cut out a 1 mile car journey and replace it with a walk, the walk there and back again counts as you daily exercise!
Why not try a car share? If you've got a colleague who lives nearby, why not take it into turns to drive and share the commute... Admittedly, you may have to wait until covid regulations ease before giving this one a go.
Plan a bike ride for your family day out! Most of us like some quality time with loved ones at the weekend. Leave the motor behind, pump up your bike tyres and you're away! This could be just a little spin around the local area or off on a day long jolly. Bristol, Bath and surrounding areas have great cycle tracks to explore with more than a few pit stops selling tasty treats along the way.
See you tomorrow!
Watch out Gordon Ramsey... Move over Jamie Oliver... There's a new chef on the scene!
Thank you to Rosie, age 12 - superstar chef and her friend Grace - future camerawoman for their fantastic video on how to make blackberry and apple fool... Using foraged blackberries of course!
Serves 4. Prep time 15 mins, cook time 5 mins.
1 large dessert apple, peeled, cored and chopped
A few drops of vanilla essence
3 - 4 tbsp of clear honey
1 egg white
4 - 5 tbsp thick Greek yoghurt
Mint leaves - optional
Not only is this delicious dessert easy to prepare it is low in calories and packed full of vitamin c!
1. Place the apple, vanilla and honey in a pan and cook gently until just softened. Add the blackberries (keep back a few for decoration) and cook gently until all the fruit is soft.
2. Put a couple of blackberries in the base of each serving dish. Leave the rest until cold. Then gently mash or lightly beat the fruit together without turning it into a puree.
3. Whisk the egg white until standing in peaks and fold this into the fruit mixture along with the yoghurt, but don't fold too much.
4. Divide evenly between the four serving dishes and leave to chill. Serve the blackberry and apple fool decorated with the remaining fruit and mint leaves.
See you tomorrow!
Question time. How many jars of chutneys, jams and pickles do you get at Christmas? You know the ones, all the fancy flavours that you find at the Christmas markets... Jars of special somethings in stylish hampers... The cute layered cake mixes you might get as a gift from the cousin you see once a year...
Now add in all the jars you buy during the year to keep your store cupboard well stocked. That's a fair few jars collected right? Now what are you going to do with them? Stick them in the recycling?
Well that is one option but it's far better to repurpose and reuse them in some way. With a little creative thinking a plain boring old jar could be just the thing you need around the house. Or maybe you could fill them up with goodies, pretty them up a bit with some ribbon and make beautiful homemade gifts for loved ones.
Here's a few ideas...
Make sure to give them a good clean before you repurpose them and you're good to go! If you're going to use them to store foods make sure you sterilise them before each use.
Sterilising is easy. Pop your oven on to 150 - 160 degrees C. While your oven is heating up give the jars and lids a wash in hot soapy water, then rinse, leaving upside down on the draining board. When the oven has reached temperature place them on a baking tray and 'bake' for about 10 minutes. Providing they are dry fill them as soon as you can so you don't risk contaminating the freshly sterilised jars.
That's it for now. Make sure to check back as we've got some great community tips and recipes on the way!
Time to get picking!
Yep, as we said earlier throughout this September we'll keep coming back to the themes of community tips and recipes around foraged fruits.
We've picked blackberries in particular as they are easily recognisable and easy to find, therefore a great option for foraging beginner's. Other easy to spot fruits for beginners are apples and pears. The best time to pick these will depend on the variety, just get exploring and see what's local to you. Wapley Bushes where Alex visited earlier today have all 3 so you can grab yourself a free fruity feast!
For some great foraging tips visit last year's post Foraging Fun... Blackberries are super common so you shouldn't have much trouble finding a patch to call your own. They grow on hedgerows, woodlands, along the roadside or maybe even hiding behind the fences to your back garden. We wouldn't recommend picking blackberries that are close to busy roads though, they might look tasty but exhaust fumes won't make them the healthiest of crops.
Blackberries typically are at their peak in late August and early September so make a great late summer treat... Like Alex said in the video the weather brought them on early in a lot of places so go and nab yours before you miss out. We picked our first crop at the end of July!
Check back tomorrow for the first of our blackberry recipes. We'd love to see yours too, so please send them in either by email, facebook or visit the community drop in. Meanwhile, just for the fun of it...
Blackberry myths and legends...
Never pick blackberries after September 29th (Michaelmas Day)! The devil fell from heaven on Michaelmas Day and landed in a blackberry bush. In his anger he exacted his revenge by urinating on it... Yuck.
Blackberries were the downfall of Belleraphon, a Greek hero. He rode Pegasus to Mount Olympus only to be thrown into a bramble bush. He was blinded by the thorns so wandered alone and sightless ever after…
Whether you believe it or not there are some lessons in folklore. Poor wet and cold conditions in October can cause the fruit to spoil and you definitely want to watch out for the prickles when you're blackberrying!
Get picking... Get freezing what you don't use straight away... Enjoy!
Reference: Country File
Hooray... Another community tip!!!! These make us very happy.
Today's community tip is actually from Ruth - AAG's secretary. And it's a simple one, one we should really already know and do but somehow, some of us forget.
When it's dark...
And you walk into a room, turn this on...
When you leave...
Turn it off again...
Told you it was simple.
So simple we're going to add a little extra tip in, we'll even tell a story with it.
Our tip is when you pick up a good habit that saves you money and saves the planet... Teach someone else. Because then there are 2 of you saving the planet and feeling a little more financially smug. If both of you then teach another person, that's four people saving the planet and feeling financially smug.
Ruth is a very good lady who always remembers to turn off lights when she leaves the room. That's 1 person turning off their lights. Richard, sometimes forgets... so Ruth reminds him. Sadly, he still forgets.
So Ruth taught Rosie and Ellen to turn off the lights when they leave the room instead. That's 3 people turning off their lights and sometimes they also turn off Richard's lights. Hooray!!! Richard still sometimes forgets...
Ruth came in to the office and talked about ideas for the sustainability blog and said it's a good idea to turn your lights off when you leave the room. Alex wrote it in the sustainability blog! So now that's Abbotswood residents, Alex, Ruth, Ellen and Rosie all turning off their lights when they leave the room.
Well done Ruth, good work! Together we'll save the planet one light switch at a time... And maybe along the way we can all remind Richard...
Lights off for now and see you again tomorrow!
With the world turning more and more to technology and our happy habits for 'retail therapy' libraries need our support now more than ever... Once you're in the door they can support you just as much as you support them!
Libraries and book swaps aren't exactly a new concept so why aren't more of using them? Save your pocket by reading a book that someone has already read, then pass it along to someone who hasn't.
Chances our your local library is offering a lot more than just a few thousand or so books to browse. Yate Library is a fantastic community resources just waiting for your visit. Pre lockdown you could use their computers, bring your little ones to story time, be part of the poetry group or speak to Bevan Evemy for some free legal advice. And that's just a small fraction of the list! They're in the process of reopening some of their services so make sure you take a look!
Summer Reading Challenge...
We're proud to be supporting the summer reading challenge!
This is a fantastic annual event to get your kids enjoying reading! Challenge bags include reading suggestions, even e-books count, and some fun arts and crafts. Perhaps you would like to join Mason and accessorize your silly squad giraffe...
For your summer reading challenge bags or pyjamama bags if you've got pre-schoolers, you can pop over to the library, see Alex at our community drop in or join is near the Abbotswood play equipment on Friday 11th September from 2.30pm.
What will you be reading?
See you again tomorrow!
We have lots of things to talk about at Abbotswood Action Group. We're sure you do too, get in touch if you would like to be a guest blogger...