Thursday, 19 December 2013

The Only Way is Organised

I'm known for being late, I'm always rushing, usually bad tempered and lose so much stuff it's untrue.
 
And I've had enough.
 
I never find the time to do everything I want to do and don't have the show home I'm arriving to have.
 
So things are going to change.
 
I've looked at what needs doing and the time I have to do it in and also seen how much money being disorganised is costing.
 
And the result is a new blog dedicated to sharing the way I make my life run smoothly on a budget and My Cava Lifestyle will continue but with less of the bossy stuff!
 
On the first of January I will be on a year long journey to getting my life in order (I'm not dying by the way, just going insane with the disorganization).  I'll be posting monthly missions to help myself on track and linking to downloads to make organisation easy.  I'll also be using pintrest (or Pin Interest to a certain bf!) a whole lot more, combining one of the things I want to do with something I need to do.
 
So cheers to 2013 - you've taught me a lot and inspired be to change.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Meal Planning Monday - I'm Pinching Your Meal Plan!!

I've been reading all your lovely meal plans and I think it's about time I tried some of your recipes (hint, hint barenakedmummy re nutella muffins!!)
 
Monday
 
Tuesday
Potato Cakes, Beans and Sausage
 
Wednesday
 
Thursday
 
Friday
Fish Fingers, Chips and Mushy Peas (yes possibly from the chippy!)
 
Saturday
Steak in Brandy and Peppercorn Sauce
 
Sunday
Slow Cooker Sunday Chinese Beef and Greens from Mediocre Mum's Blog


 
If it wasn't for Mrs M's Meal Planning Monday Movement I seriously would be eating rubbish all week, so thanks and please do take a look at everyone elses delicious ideas.
 
Oh...!  And thanks to all those who have been leaving comments for me, I have been trying to reply but Disqus just isn't working, so when I get a mo, I will be sorting/working it out
 
 

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Organising The Home errr Organising

So, I mentioned last week in this post that I am trying to get obsessive about cleaning. 
 
Not WORK organisation!! HOME organisation!!
 
 
Well I seem to have become obsessed with organising, so I'm sure this is the first step and the cleaning obsession will follow.
 
This really has come from the sheer frustration of not being able to find things and from not knowing when appointments are. 
 
Breaking it down
 
So, being the top organiser I now am, I have split the house into two rooms to clean per day
 
1. Porch, downstairs bathroom, hall, stairs and landing
2. Kitchen and living room
3. Dining room and bathroom
4. Both kids rooms
5. Our bedroom and the car
6. Front and back gardens including Windows
 
And I'll give myself Sundays off I think!
 
The Timing
 
So now in my head it's a manageable chunk, I need to make sure it doesn't turn into something unachievable so I'm spending no longer than 45 minutes on each of my two rooms each day.  So I'm spending no longer than an hour and a half cleaning each day.  That way, nothing else well be neglected and as the weeks go on, the rooms will become more organised and cleaner so my plan is to eventually only spend an hour a day cleaning.
 
Then maybe, I shall have the time to devise ascend discover more money and time saving habits!!
 
Do I sound insane, by the way?

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Get Paid To Spring Clean

And I don't mean go and do other peoples cleaning (although that would be a great way to make money !)

I mean go through your house, top to bottom and clear out what you don't use, then sell it.

  • Car Boot
  • Ebay
  • Cards in Shop Windows

Clear your clutter and make money. 

The most important thing I find is not to get precious about things.  Will you really wear those out of fashion jeans?  How often do you use that kitchen appliance?  Have the kids grown out of their toys?

It's a quick and easy way to get some money in for Christmas and if you work on the premise of getting £1 for each item then anything else is a bonus.  I can easily find 100 things around the house that we no longer need or use.  That's £100 quid!!

So get clutter clearing!!

Go for the three pile approach

- Bin (broken and can't be sold on ebay for spares or poor condition)

- Sellable

- Charity (not quite sellable condition but life left)

Another route is the Cash for Clothes (other shops which pay for clothes are available I'm sure, just that the one on our high street is actually called that!) shops.  Personally, I think a charity can benefit more from a bag of clothes I can't sell than me getting 50p per kilo, but if you have a lot of denim or heavy coats then that could be worthwhile.

I'm off to get ebay listing!!

Good luck - and Get it Done!!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Meal Planning Monday - Raid the Freeezer Week

Well, after my success of following my clear out meal plan last week in an attempt to save £80 for a trip to the Christmas Markets, I'm glad to say is was a success with £70 saved!!

Unfortunately, I then realised I need to pay the next installment for a school trip so here we go again trying to save the shopping budget by eating through the freezer.  it needs emptying anyway in time for Christmas!


Meal Planning Ideas

So, looking at my list of what is in the black hole I call the freezer, we are on...

Monday
Hairy Dieters Steak and Ale Pie over a Jacket Potato

Tuesday:
Levi Roots Carribean Curry
(I froze this to not waste some chicken and to use the cook in sauce I got for £1 with a coupon!)

Wednesday:
Fish Cakes, Chips and Peas

Thursday:
Meatballs and spaghetti in home made pasta sauce

Friday:
Bangers and Mash

Saturday:
Takeaway

Sunday:
Fish pie made from the Haddock and Salmon lingering in the bottom drawer


So hopefully all I need to buy this week is fresh veg, milk, bread and potatoes.  Everything else I should have tucked away.  I've saved a small fortune using up baking supplies and dried fruit on packed lunches too.

I'm liking the saving element of this way of meal planning but I feel/fear a really big stock up shop coming.

There's loads more meal plans over At Home With Mrs M - and quite frankly they will be better and more tastier!!

Enjoy your week and let me know how much you save by eating through your stockpile!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Slow Cooker Sunday - Full O'Veg Pasta Sauce

This recipe makes a vat of pasta sauce and will save you a fortune on dolmio/ragu, particularly if you buy a cheaper passatta.  I've tried expensive and budget brand and can't tell the difference, just taste to ensure the salt is right.

Oh, I have a huge 6 litre slow cooker so just halve the quantities for a normal size appliance!

Ingredients

2 small aubergines
1 leek
1 onion
5 small carrotts
250g mushrooms
3 cloves of garlic
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
6 basil leaves
3 litres of passatta (6 cartons)
1 tbsp caster sugar
Salt to taste

Method

Rinse the aubergine, slice into circles and sprinkle with salt.  Leave while you chop the rest of the veg.

Wash and slice the leek

Dice the onion

Peel and dice the carrots

Peel and chop the mushrooms

Crush the garlic (or add 3 tsp of lazy garlic)

Dice the peppers

Rinse the aubergine well, dice and throw everything into the slow cooker.

Add the passstta and the sugar

Stir and cook on low for 5 hours

Blend with a stick blender and salt to taste.

Voila!!

How To...Christmas Hampers - Get Started

There's nothing better than getting a box full of stuff and the excitement of seeing what's inside!

This year I will be giving Christmas Hampers to the majority of people on my list.  There's tons of reasons to put together hampers such as...

1)  It's a lovely personal gift that shows you know and have thought about your recipient
2)  It's a cheap way to give a big present
3)  You can give people something useful that will get used rather than (durh dur durrrrr) regifted    (hangs head in shame!)

So where to start?

1. Make a list of people you will give a hamper to

2. Find that number of boxes and decorate with christmas wrap and ribbons (don't do a massive box, it will cost a fortune!!)  Baskets look lovely if you can find some on offer. 

3. Decide on a theme

Ideas for themes...

Regional Goods
Good if sending to a different county

Afternoon Tea
Think chutneys, biscuits, different teas, honey, swizzle sticks, home made biscuits

Breakfast in Bed
Marmalade, Jams, Breads, Honey, Orange Juice, Champagne

Boozy Christmas
Minitures, Cocktail Cherrys, A Snowball, Babycham, Foods containing booze such as jams or drink sachets, Pack of Resolve

Coffee & Chocolate
Various coffee sachets (split the boxes of 8 and put one or two in each hamper), Chocolate Minatures (Booths have a big box of Green and Black's Minitures on offer for £9 until Christmas Day - again split the box), Marshmallows, Tinned Cream, Coffee Biscuits


I start hamper harvesting early doors when I see things on offer that I have an appropriate coupon for or I use my Tesco Price Promise coupons again when the product is on offer.

The hampers can be quite cumbersome so I tend to set them up in the garage and stack them up.

Oh, a big tip...check sell by dates!!  Some biscuits I bought in September expire in December.  So I HAD to eat them!!  Not cost effective, but quite delicious.

Have you any ideas for themes?

I'll post photos asap




Saturday, 16 November 2013

Trying to Be Obsessive

During the last week of the summer holidays, my neighbour came over and said "Oh Claire. Why don't you give that Cleaning Company in Lytham a ring and get them to do what you can't manage" as she stepped over the boys coats, the dog and a box of toys in the Hall.

Most people would be offended but I laughed and said "It'll be spotless next week when they're back at school"

And it was.

Once I get cleaning, I'm pretty good at it and get through it.  What I'm not good at is keeping on top of it.

So I am determined to get a grip on this and keep my home like a showhome.

I've been inspired by Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners on Channel 4.  I wish I could be as dedicated to cleaning.  The ironing board is in my eyeline as I type and I'm slightly compelled to iron but there's not that "I MUST" feeling about it.  I can ignore it until I go to bed and then be annoyed about it in the morning.

Have a look here
 
So I'm putting a schedule together and I'm going to get this house to show home standard and have that homely feel for Christmas.
 
Who's With Me?
 
I'm going to blog about my progress (more to keep me in line that thinking that someone may be interested!!) so I'll put a linky up as I'd love to read about how you keep on top of the housework and keep a lovely home
 
I look forward to reading about your triumphs!
 

 

Monday, 11 November 2013

Meal Planning Monday - clear out week

Christmas is coming and I want to spend a small fortune at the Manchester Christmas markets so something's got to give and that something is food!!
 
 
 
The freezer is rammed and the fridge needs cleaning so it's killing three birds with one stone.  Here's what we're on for the coming week...
 
Monday
Pizza and frozen chips
 
Tuesday
Spag Bol (from the freezer)
 
Wednesday
Jacket Potatoes, beans and cheese
 
Thursday
Beef curry from frozen stewing steak and a jar from the lurking place in the cupboard
 
Friday
Fish cakes, frozen chips and peas
 
Saturday
Baked Gluten Free chilli con carne (frozen in a tray and defrosted in a low oven - nicer than nuked or heated in a pan)
 
Sundays
Bangers and mash
 
I know there's no take away in there but I've eaten it so much that I really have gone off it, although we are dying to sample the fayre at Micheals Indian Restaurant in Blackpool.  It looks gorgeous from the outside and the take away we had was gourmet. 
 
There's loads more meal plans over at At Home With Mrs M so meal planning does not need to be a chore, let someone else do the work, some even have shopping lists for petes sake!!  It can't be easier!  Shop Smart - Save Money Time and Waste!
 
So how much could you save if you ate up your stored food?  And what would you do with the spare cash?  Yes, as I thought you would spend it at a Christmas Market, wouldn't you?!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Sorry for the interruption in service!

Well, doesn't time fly! 
 
I've no excuse for not keeping the blog updated other than I don't seem to have enough time in the day to get through the essentials.
 
Work is hectic, the end of the housing slump does appear to be nigh and it always seems to be Friday.  Not that that is a bad thing! 
 
So, the money saving projects have gone awry. Well, completely off track actually but come today, they are back on track!!  Monday's meal planning post is using what we have in already to save £80 and empty the teeny tiny freezer to make way for some batch cooking and Christmas prep.
 
One of my main reasons for blogging is to keep me on track on the things I need to do.  Sounds mental, adding another task to make sure I do a list of tasks as long as my arm but it works.  I need to keep reading blogs such as Mortgage Free in Three to keep me on the money saving crusade, A Thrifty Mrs to keep my house clean and I'm now a Pinterest addict which makes me want to craft and organise parties!)
 
So, I intend to blog craft projects which save money and give me crafting satisfaction but time will tell if I actually do (or if anyone reads them!)
 
So, start as I mean to go on....I shall do my meal planning and shopping lists right now!!
 
PS - I do need pestering - please pester - leave comments, tweet me @claire_sheehan, mither me!!  The odd "how much have you saved today?" prod would me a massive help!!

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Christmas Project - The Christmas Cake Part 1

I've not made a Christmas cake for years because there's only ever me that eats it, it's usually burnt and I can live without it!!  Christmas has never been ruined due to an absence of cake!
 
However, this year, I'm going all crafty and homemade and in sheer desperation to fill the last afternoon of half term, we made a Christmas cake.
 
I checked my Christmas entertaining book for something chic and light.  Nothing. (Proof a Christmas cake is not essential maybe!)
 
So I went to Nigelissima for an Italian alternative hoping it would be eaten out of curiosity.  Nope, nothing there other than a creamy type cake.
 
James Martin did not let me down!! We've followed his recipe to the letter and halfway through, I realised I'VE NOT SOAKED THE FRUIT IN BRANDY!!!!!!!! The recipe didn't instruct me to and
 
I've followed it in automatic mode whilst giving impromptu maths lessons to the boys.
Its a family tradition to soak the fruit. (In alcohol, not tea!) A couple of years ago, I soaked them and ate them before even contemplating baking them. However, I shall compensate by feeding the cake copious amounts of Martell.  If I'm not drinking the cake on Christmas eve, I'll be disappointed.
 
So back to the cake, I baked it for half an hour less than James instructed and it still felt a bit dry. (Oooh!! I'll pour brandy on it!) The smell though was AMAZING!!!
 
The next stage is to make my own marzipan!  Easy for you James Martin - Stay tuned!!




Friday, 1 November 2013

Talk First Baby Sign - Our November Sponsor

I'm so glad to welcome back Talk First Fylde as my blog sponsor for this month!



Joyce sponsored My Cava Lifestyle back in April and I wrote This Post about going to her Baby Signing classes.  I didn't actually report back because I was too busy actually at the classes and doing general mum things, so here's the feedback report (finally!)

The class I attend is at Lytham Childrens Centre and has recently split into two classes due to the popularity of the sessions.

Sessions start with a Dexter sing along then we get down to the business of learning 8 new signs with our babies (or toddlers, or indeed in the case of inset days - 6 year old!).  We then practice the signs and go onto use them in rhymes and songs.

My 10 month old absolutely loves the class.  Dexter the Jester is a colourful character who high fives with real hands and has a very grabbable jingly hat.  The singing and musical instrument elements go down well with all the children and Joyce keeps the class lively with finger puppets and a bit of mum dancing.

It's a lovely session and ideal for those who will return to work after maternity leave as it is a class that can be enjoyed with very young babies (we've been since 4 months!)

Please take a moment to hop over to Joyce's Talk First website for more info or contact her at Joyce@talkfirst.net.  If you tweet, Joyce is @talkfirstjoyce and always replies promptly.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Slow Cooker Gluten Free Spaghetti Bolognese

A batch cooking staple.

Number of batches: 4 batches of 4 servings

Ingredients

1.5kg minced beef
3 knorr beef stock pots
1 large onion
2 sticks diced celery
2 medium carrots - grated
3 tbsp mixed herbs
3 cartons of passatta
2 tins chopped tomatoes
500g sliced mushrooms
salt and pepper to taste

Method

Put all the raw ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

If the batch is needed in 4 hours, brown the mince first before adding to the slow cooker.

Simple eh?!

The Big Three Courser: Sunday 21st April 2013

Sunday lunch is so easy to do and the ingredients are more readily available and affordable, the tradition of a sit down family meal has sadly declined.  This coupled with the fact that a restaurant meal for a family is somewhat horrendously expensive, I am instigating The Big Three Courser - a restaurant-style family meal.

Easy Instructions for a Three Course Meal

So every week, I'll be posting easy to follow instructions to make your big meal.  As one of my rules of life is to prepare food in advance, I can assure you as much as possible will be from the freezer!

This week, our restaurant choice is Italian.

-o0o-

 
Menu
 
Starter
 
 
Main
 
 
Dessert
 
 
-o0o-
 
The melon should be prepared on the day.  It can be plated in the morning covered with clingfilm and put in the fridge.
 
The garlic mushrooms can be prepared a day in advance and refrigerated.  They are quite garlic heavy though so cover well in the fridge.
 
The Spaghetti Bolognaise Sauce can be prepared in a batch of huge proportions and frozen.  Just defrost and heat through whilst the spaghetti is cooking.
 
The pizza base recipe I use is one I found on the fab Mortgage Free In Three blog.  Cook the base then cook down a tin of chopped tomatoes so they go more concentrated add about 4 crushed garlic cloves, dependent on your taste and a little butter.  You will need to prick the pizza base when the topping is on to infuse the bread.  Grill until it looks right.  Again, this can be done in advance and kept in the fridge until you are ready.  Why not prep a few and put them in the freezer for a quick side dish?
 
I've not attempted Chocolate Tirimisu yet but have linked the recipe I will be following.  As I've not made it before, I can't comment on how it fares in the fridge but it must be ok as its chilled!
 
So there you have it.  Melon cut up on the day, Mushrooms and tirimisu done the day before and the spag bol sauce and garlic bread defrosted on Saturday night.
 
Do you feel inspired to put on a three course spread?  I've added a linky below for you to share your Big Three Courser Menus.  Feel free to pinch the logo above and tweet your posts with the hashtag #big3course
 
I'm really looking forward to getting some inspiration for next week!
 
 

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Freezer Food Plan

Its tough thinking of different Meal Planning Monday post titles!. Google really should have more respect for the institution of #mealplanningmonday and realise its not spam - Its a wide variety of foods!!
The batch cooking and freezing is working so well.  Its saving hours of time and loads of money.  Waste is reduced and the variety of food we eat is increased.
Today is a cooking day as freezer stocks are running low.  This is what this weeks menu is looking like...
Monday - Chilli Con Carne and Rice with Tacos. (from freezer, cook on low from frozen)
Tuesday - mushroom stuffed chicken breasts. A Gino D'Acampo idiet recipe. (from freezer, defrost and cook)
Wednesday - slow cooked Italian and wild mushroom stew. Another Gino idiet recipe. (cooked a double batch on Monday and stored half in fridge and other half frozen)
Thursday - Fish and Chips.  Fish from freezer.
Friday - Vegetarian Chilli and rice (from freezer)
Saturday - ooh quite possibly a take away!
Sunday - The Big Three Courser
Melon
Garlic Mushrooms
Spaghetti Bolognaise
Garlic Bread with Tomato
Chocolate Tirimisu
I'll be posting more about my big three courser on Wednesday
What are you planning for this week?

The Sunday Stumble

I like ease myself into Sundays by reading random stuff on my Stumble Upon app.

For those that don't know, Stumble Upon is a bookmarking site which finds sites categorised to match your interests.  Much like Pinterest.  So you enter your interests, share a few pages of your own and those that you come across that are of interest to you and then hit the stumble upon button.

Here's what this week is throwing at me....

Stolen Laptop Found in Iran using Hidden App

Pimpthatsnack - how to supersize your treats.  A giant Reeces peanut butter cup, gingerbread chav and more

Loads of quick money saving projects on Thriftyfun.com such as how to make a Starbucks cup reuseable.

The most favourited recipes on foodgawker.  Some really tasty all American recipes on here

And here's one I found hilarious...

So what have you found that's worth sharing?

If you're on twitter, tweet your faves with the #Sundaystumble tag

Monday, 1 April 2013

Talk First - Communication for Baby and You

I'm really excited about this months sponsor as I'll be joining the talk first phenomenon later this week.


Talk first classes are a 45 minute session focusing on developing verbal and non verbal communication between babies (and young children) and their carers.

There's loads of fun with Dexter the signing puppet and sing alongs.
Classes are available in most areas.  The Fylde area is run by the lovely Joyce who can be contacted at joyce@talkfirst.net

I'll be reporting back later!

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

10 Top Money Saving Ideas

Inspired by a Money Supermarket Competition I've spotted on Miss Thifty's blog, here's my top ten money saving strategies that I follow to ensure I have the spare cash to live My Cava Lifestyle!

Save Money - Reduce Debt


1. Allocate The Money You Save
Every penny you save needs to be put to good use.  If you save £2 by buying tinned tomatoes on offer, put that £2 against a debt you need to pay off.  If you save £20 by getting a second hand school uniform, put that £20 in your holiday savings fund.  Whatever you do, don't leave it lingering in your wallet or it will disappear on mundane items such as milk and bread.

2. Watch Money Like a Hawk
You need to know exactly how much is in each bank account and more importantly where the money goes out of the account.  Do you have an old subscription you could cancel?  Are you using your debit card a little too freely? You need to keep control to make sure you are not wasting money or incurring bank charges.

3. See What You Spend
Go to the cash machine at the start of your shopping trip and draw out the money.  When you actually hand over your cash, you are more aware of how much you have spent.  Spending on cards is too easy and many get carried away and overspend.


Meal planning monday at http://athomewithmrsm.blogspot.com
Read Meal Planning Monday Posts
4. Cut the Big Bill:  Food
For one week, add up the value of the food you throw away.  You'll be amazed and probably gutted at the amount of money you have wasted.  Plan your meals and only buy what you need to.  Stick to your meal plan to minimise waste.

5. Cut the Big Bill: Gas and Electric
It does pay to switch.  Being loyal doesn't pay.  Prices sneak up without you noticing and before you know it, the good deal you signed up for last year isn't so good anymore. Subscribe to the Money Saving Expert newsletter for the heads up on the right time to change.

6. Cut the Big Bill: Fuel
Petrol and diesel prices are ridiculous compared to 10 years ago, but then are we using our cars a ridiculous amount?  Get fit, walk to the shops, walk to and from school.  I'm amazed by how many people I see driving their dog to the park (there's loads of parks and a beach where I live, there really must be one in walking distance of most dog owners homes!)  If you can manage one less fuel fill up every month, that can equate to around £700 savings per year!! (or as I like to call it - a holiday!)

6. Non-Package Holidays
A self catering holiday abroad in a privately owned property is massively cheaper than a package holiday.  Ask around, someone in your circles will either have or know someone who has a property abroad to let out.  And if they don't, there are many websites where private owners advertise.  Flights are expensive, so night flights and one way tickets rather than returns may bring the price of the flight down.  Ask owners for the very best price on a hard to let week.  They need your booking.

7. Be a Go To Spender
All sales people have targets to meet.  Get chatty and get to know your local sales staff face to face. The  travel agent, home appliance salesperson, the car dealer, the furniture seller and even the owner of the best clothes store in town. Give them your mobile number and your email address and let them know you will spend if the deal is good enough.  Sounds crazy?! Why buy a TV when you don't need one?  Because you can sell the old one on EBay whilst you're getting money off a brand spanking new treasure!!  All stores have to clear stock and there's bargains to be had if you ask.

8. Share the (Child)Care
Kids love going to their mates.  They love having their mates round.  Everyones occupied and your not struggling to meet the high cost of holiday childcare. (ironically usually more than an acutal holiday)  So long as you return the favour and each family takes their turn, this is a great solution for everyone.

9. Second Hand Should Be First Look
Don't spend a penny until you have scoured a site like EBay for a perfectly good pre-owned item.  Baby pushchairs can be picked up for £6, wooden cribs are going for 99p!  Items that are bulky sell for next to nothing and are in perfectly good working order.  This is a brilliant strategy to get your christmas shopping done early and you'll look SO generous and SO considerate!!  Set up alerts on the EBay app on your smartphone to nab the stuff you want for a fraction of the original price.

10.  File Guarantees and Receipts
How many times does something break and you say "What a Waste of Money" and you can't take it back because you can't find the guarantee or receipt?  Either file, or if you're short on space, scan your receipts and guarantees.

This is my entry into the Money Supermarket Competition on The Miss Thrifty Blog.  Hop over and see what other money saving tips have been posted.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Home Made Ready Meal Planning

My masterplan of cooking and freezing in order to escape the mundanity of cooking every day is working fabulously well!!  And We're saving a FORTUNE as we're just not wasting food!

I've done a three week plan and I'm adding in anything we miss, such as we had takeaway (yes! really!  Surprising, I know!)  instead of Chilli last week so that Chilli meal will be put in the next empty slot in three weeks time.  Doing it so far in advance is easier than doing a week plan and cooking as you go.  I can highly recommend being organised!!

So here's the plan for this week....(Monday has changed already as we've loads of leftover mash from tonights toad in the hole so potato cakes are a necessity)

Monday: Potato Cakes, Beans and Bacon
Potato cakes made the night before and refrigerated
 
Prepped at same time as potato cakes
 
Wednesday: Jambalaya
All raw ingredients defrosted and put in slow cooker
 
Thursday: Crispy Salmon Fillet in a Tomato Sauce
A Gino D'ACampo Recipe, prepped and frozen raw.
Will bake from frozen in oven
 
Good Friday: Vegetable Chilli
Defrosted and cooked on hob
 
Saturday:  Takeaway No Doubt
 
Easter Sunday: Meatballs and Spaghetti
Defrosted and cooked in slow cooker

 
There's loads more (usually about 50) meal plans on At Home With Mrs M 
 
Go over and have a read, add yours if you have a meal plan.
 
 

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Key Stage 2 SATS Revision

I'm not going to force my child to revise nor do I particularly put much value on their SATs results.

It's not that I don't want my child to do well, nor is it that I don't care.  It's that the pressure being heaped on the year six children is getting absolutely ridiculous.

I was first naffed off with it when I attended the SATs parents talk back in October, when we were told... (yes told....)

"Your child needs to know their times tables and needs to be able to recall them fast as they've only 45 minutes to do a test.  When they are on the toilet, stand at the bottom of the stairs and shout up various sums for them to shout the answer back."

Come on. 

Seriously.

Can't an 11 year old have a s*** in peace?

In the same sermon, meeting we were told that us as parents really need to help our children along as some year six children don't know the difference between a circle and a triangle.

Personally, I see that as a school failing.  After six and a half years of being a pupil in the school, if the teachers haven't been able to teach the difference, then surely they are failing, not the parents. 

Needless to say, I didn't buy the revision books nor did I force my child to revise last week for the practice SATs this week.

A child is as capable as they are.  The majority of schools are non-selective.  They don't rely on SATs results to offer places.  The only reason primary schools are pushing is to up their results up the league tables.  Any streaming of children in year 7 is reassessed after 3 months so there really is no need to hammer the children like they would be on the scrapheap if they don't get high marks.

The final straw was when I heard of a child developing alopecia as a result of the pressure being mounted on them by the school.

It is unfair and ridiculous.  Life is stressful enough.  Let kids be kids as long as they can be.  (and let poor teaching shine through)

Monday, 18 March 2013

Meal Planning Monday - Fresh Freezer Food Week

I've been quiet on the meal planning front as I'm in the throes of getting every aspect of my life organised!  An extra child has really thrown me and things were starting to get even more haphazard and last minute than usual, so I'm setting up systems and routines to make sure things run more smoothly.



So, the meal planning has had a massive overhaul.  The freezer in the garage has been fired up and I've planned a month in advance.  I'm having cooking days where I prep several meals and freeze them so I can just grab and cook which is saving me at least an hour everyday.  Some meals I'm freezing raw, ready to defrost then bung in the slow cooker and some I'm fully cooking and just need to bung in the oven.

So here's this weeks plan...

Monday
 
 
Tuesday
Hairy Dieters Steak & Ale Pie
 
Wednesday
Slow Cooked Chicken Casserole
 
Thursday
 
Friday
Steak & Chips with Onions and Mushrooms
 
Saturday
Possibly a home made curry
Probably a take away curry
 
Sunday
Toad in the Hole
 
Do you utilise your freezer to the max?  What meals do you find taste good after freezing?
 
Let me know and have a fab week!
 



Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Under 300 Calorie Egg and Bacon Sandwich

If you're calorie counting but craving a cooked breakfast, try this

1 rasher of bacon - fat removed
1 medium egg
1 slice of white bread
4 mushrooms
1/2 a tomato
Olive Oil spray.

Grill the bacon on a grill pan so the fat can drip away.

Also grill the mushrooms and tomato.

Beat the egg and soak the bread in it.

Spray the frying pan and cook the eggy bread.

Cut the mushrooms and tomatoes, pile on to the bread and add the bacon.

This should cure any bacon and egg sandwich cravings!

Calories: 260

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Sweet Banana Porridge

If you're calorie counting but craving a sweet start to the day, try this

1 sachet of Oat So Simple Golden Syrup Porridge
1 medium banana
20 dried cranberries
Pinch of cinnamon

Make the porridge with cold water rather than milk.

Cook the porridge then stir in the cold ingredients.  Add a little more water if its too sticky.

Sprinkle over the cinnamon and enjoy!!

Calories: 268

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

8 World Book Day Costumes for Over 8's

February half term is in my opinion a week off for children to make their own fancy dress outfit for World Book Day.

In reality, it is the week that I forget to make the costumes as I'm chauffeuring my children round whilst tipping the contents of my purse out at every stop.

So, here's costumes that are easy to make for that difficult "I'm not dressing up" age.

Greg Heffley from Diary of the Wimpy Kid
Baseball Boots, blue jeans, white T-Shirt, Hoodie and hair Gel for the trademark propeller parting

Hermionie Grainger from Harry Potter
Black Victorian style boots, thick grey tights, kilt, grey wooly polo neck jumper, satchel, wand and hair brushed out.

Jared From The Spiderwick Chronicles
Baseball boots, jeans, tshirt and stripy red cardigan.  Satchel and big book.

Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz
Red shoes, white tights, blue gingham dress, white tshirt. Hair in plaits.

Dennis The Menace
Red and black stripy top or jumper, black shorts, black boots, catapult and hair spiked.

Horrid Henry
Trainers, brown trousers, blue rugby shirt with yellow stripe, hair messed up.

Where's Wally or Wenda (how funny would this be if the whole class were Wallys and Wendas!)
Stripy tops, blue bottoms and glasses.

Tracey Beaker
Pretty much any clothes teamed,with lots of black hair

What will your little darlings be dressing up as?

Monday, 18 February 2013

Meal planning Monday

No plan last week due to the Chicken Pox, it was a wing it week.

This week is half term so its all about slow cooking, one pots and the freezer

Monday - shepherds pie from the freezer
Tuesday - quinoa curry
Wednesday - Italian slow roast
Thursday - vegetable chilli tacos
Friday - spag bol for us, spaghetti tacos for the boys

Bit of a rushed post today - There are loads more meal plans over on Mrs M's Blog ( and I mean - loads! )

What one pots and slow cooker meals do you love?


Sunday, 17 February 2013

How To Cure Cradle Cap?

I've always prided myself that my children didn't suffer with cradle cap.  I always put it, down to using a ramer sponge to thoroughly remove shampoo.

Until now.

Baby 3 is suffering terribly, even onto his little forehead.  So I've done what any responsible parent does and I've googled Cradle Cap to find a cure.

My first attempt was Olive Oil. It didn't work.

My second port of call was Dentinox shampoo. It didn't work.

Today I will try Vaseline and if that doesn't work, we'll be turning to coconut oil.

I'm guessing that each child is different, but what worked for you?

The Sunday Roundup

This week I've been getting to grips with Google+.  I really like it and sure I'll like it more once I crack how to use it properly.

Here's some of the posts I've found in my feed this week, which I have found both useful and interesting.  Let me know if you agree!

Buying Gifts From charity shops - posted on the blog BabyBudgetting.co.uk

There's LOADS of thrifty tips on the February thrifty families blog carnival over at the Family Budgeting Blog

After reading this, I know I'm not suffering alone! Mediocre Mum's Working at Home post is funny and absolutely spot on!

And this post from A Thrifty Mrs has had me organising my wardrobe this week.  This is part of a series of posts on how to organise your life and I've find them really useful

I hope you click through and find some interesting new blogs to follow and if you're on Google+ leave me your details below so I can add you to my circles and see what you enjoy!

Have a fab Sunday!!

Claire :))

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Bubbly Pancake recipe

A bubbly pancake holds more filling - if you're a fan of the runny filling, that is!

Hers my foolproof pancake recipe.  Throw the first pancake away, it soaks up too much oil but perfectly primes the pan for a batch of perfect pancakes.

Ingredients

125g self raising flour
2 Tbsp caster sugar
1 beaten egg
225 ml milk

Method

Sift flour and sugar
Beat egg
Add egg to dry mix whilst whisking on low with hand held electric whisk
Quickly add the milk bit by bit
Whisk until there's no lumps
Let it stand for 5 mins

The tricky bit

Get your pan hot hot, hot
Add a tiny bit of oil and swirl round
Put 1 ladle of batter in the pan and swirl round
The to side will be bubbly
Toss the pancake over.
Done!

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Going Local

With the recent horse meat scandal, I have made the decision to go local and shop from the local butcher.  I think its only a matter of time before supermarket meat is called into question.

I don't have a problem with eating horse meat.  I eat cows, pigs, geese, ducks and iccle baby sheep so why not a horse?  I've eaten goat in Greece and it was delicious.  No doubt I've eaten horse now and I can't say I noticed a bad taste.

I do have a problem with labelling not being accurate.

And I have a major problem with food which may not be of a standard to enter the food chain being sold.  The latest scare is that the horse meat used contains anti inflamatories.  I dont want to feed that to my children.

So I'm buying local now.  I'll also shun the supermarket for fruit and vegetables by buying at the greengrocers.  I'll have to use the supermarket for some branded goods such as baby milk, nappies and lactofree products but I will keep my spend there to a minimum and trust my local shopkeepers to feed my family

Thursday, 7 February 2013

My Top 5 Double Duty Products

The best way to save money is not to spend it.  Sounds obvious but we still buy what we think we need. I save money by using products for more than one use. Here's my favourite double duty products Hair Conditioner Use instead of expensive, moisture promising shaving gels. Lavender Oil Use for a multitude of things.  Bath oil, to treat burns, in ironing water even as part of a postnatal bathing regime Milton Sterilising Fluid I use this to clean the dogs bowls.  I use it diluted to clean the floor and use it to clean Ice hockey kit. Newspaper After reading the daily rag, use it instead of a rag to dry windows and mirrors after wiping down.  You'll get a sparkling, smear free shine Face Cream After applying cream to your face, rub into your hands and save in hand cream There's loads more thrifty tips on the thrifty blog carnival - click the button and see! What are your favourite double duty products?

Friday, 1 February 2013

Upcycle and Cash In

The latest thing is upcycling, or as it used to be called, refurbishing.

Programmes like Kirstie's Home made series have made having old furniture in your home acceptable again and this is an ideal opportunity for you to generate some cash by giving an old peice of furniture a facelift then selling it.

Upcycle Furniture to Sell

Photo Credit: www.Kirstieallsopp.co.uk


If you don't have any furniture, scour the charity shops, house clearance places and,car boot sales.
The world is your oyster in terms of design.  To get the best price you can, try to copy a style that is popular in the interior design magazines

And if you're not crafty and need instruction, try these websites:

Daily Mail - upcycling tips
Easy Living Upcycling Guide
Kirstie Allsopp

Bear in mind why you are doing this and don't go overboard on materials to upcycle the furniture or you'll eat into your budget.

Then either sell your creations on a specialist website like Etsy, on Ebay or, and this is where you might get the best prices, at a local fair or market.

Don't forget to add your profits to your savings pot!!

Thursday, 31 January 2013

The Three Commandments of Savvy Shopping

Short and sweet today, If you're trying to cut down on what you spend and are trying to get things for the lowest price, you have to follow at least one of these three, everytime you shop.

1. Ebay sweep.  Even if you want brand new, search Ebay.  I've just searched for an all terrain pram and they're on there for around £6!!!! (yes! 6!)  Loads of brand new and unwrapped items are listed.  Its worth a 2 minute check on your smartphone.

2. Use quidCo or another cashback website.  You'll get paid for buying from websites you'd buy from anyway and you'll get access to fantastic deals.  I got an iPod with a new mobile phone contact some years ago.

3. Make a list.  Don't be distracted - you'll overspend.  Do a meal plan and stick to it!!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Leftover Roast Dinner Soup

This is a guest post from my friend Jillian, a fab and economical cook who is also a fan of The Lancashire Wine School where we got chatting about leftovers and this recipe landed in my inbox.

Makes around 6 portions.

Ingredients

50g butter

2 onions sliced

2 sticks celery – I cut them very fine as my husband doesn’t like the taste!

carrots finely diced – you can use any hard vegetable and as much as you like (I use carrots and swede)

Soft vegetables – as much as you have ie green beans, cabbage, sprouts etc

1 ltr stock or enough to cover

2 tablespoons plain flour

As much leftover cooked meat you have

Salt and pepper

Preparation

Melt the butter in a large pan and gently fry the onion, celery and hard vegetables until they start to soften but not brown.

Add the flour to soak up the butter and cook for a couple of minutes – I sometimes add a little water to stop the flour sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add the gravy and the stock making sure all the vegetables are covered and bring to the boil then add the soft vegetables and meat and simmer for around ten minutes or until everything is cooked.

Season and serve.

Ideal for the cold weather, what's your favourite home made soup recipe?  Please leave a link below

The Sunday Roundup

There's nothing like a Sunday morning for having a catch up on your dressing with a brew and favourite breakfast.

Here's my favourite five posts of the week from the blogs I follow. I hope you enjoy reading them too!

I Am Typecast - The (Un)Friendship Cake

A Thrifty Mum - Cleaning Made Easy

Hands On: As We Grow -Homemade lava lamp

A Thrifty Mrs -Creating a home HQ - 15 days to an organised new you

Sew Scrumptious - pillowcase dress: dress a girl around the world

What have you been reading this week?

Leave a link below and give me a heads up on your favourite blogs.

Have a fab Sunday!

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Garlic Mushrooms in Rose Wine

If you like stuffed mushrooms in a sauce, as opposed to the breadcrumbed type of garlic mushroom, you'll like this dish.

Serves 4

Ingredients

30 closed cup mushrooms
Garlic puree
Half a bottle of White Zinfandel wine
200g slightly salted butter
1/2 a block of lactofree cheese
1 tomato
Golden breadcrumbs
Natural breadcrumbs

Method

Melt butter and add 1 tablespoon of garlic

Add a quarter of the bottle of wine and bring to the boil.  When reduced a little add another quarter of the bottle and boil the alcohol off.

Meanwhile, Peel the mushrooms and allow 6 per person.  Put the stalks and remaining mushrooms in a bowl.

Add a quarter of the cheese block (grated) to the bowl, add the tomato and 1 tsp of garlic puree.  Blend with a stick blender.  Add natural breadcrumbs to get a good consistency for stuffing.

Fill each mushroom with the filling and top with golden breadcrumbs and the remainder of the grated cheese

Turn the sauce off and add 1 tsp of natural breadcrumbs.  Taste and add more garlic if required.

Pour the sauce around, not over, each serving of mushrooms.  Fill each dish to about hallway up the sides of the mushrooms.

Cover with foil and cook for about 20 minutes until the mushrooms are cooked through.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Make a Living from Car Booting

If you frequent car boot sales regularly, you will notice the same stall holders week after week.  Surely no one can have that much stuff to get shut of?

No, they can't.  They are professional car booters making a living from setting second hand goods.

Get to the boot sale when the pitch opens and you'll find the stall holders checking out the competition.  They will scoop up under priced items from the one off stall holders that are there clearing their unwanted goods, reprice the item and make a profit selling it on their own stall.

Make a living from car boot sales

Pack up all your unwanted items the night before so you are ready to go first thing in the morning.

Prepare your car boot kit.  Get a large tupperware box and put in: 

3 sheets of stickers (for prices)
2 thick felt tips
Gloves
Hat
Roll of bin liners
Carrier bags for customers
Sellotape
Paper to make signs

Get your clothes out ready to throw on in the morning.  If you have thermals, put them on (unless there's a heatwave), it's probably going to be a bit nippy at 6am

Get your flask out ready near the kettle and make some sandwiches for breakfast.  There will be stalls that sell delicious bacon butties and tepid brews, bit you're there to make money, not spend it!!!

After you have set up, scout the other stalls and buy up what you can sell and what will make a profit.  The latter is crucial.  You are taking home the difference between what you pay and what you sell it for.  Don't get carried away, you can easily create an financial loss here!

Shout out to passers by.  Entice then to your stall.

When you get a looker, engage with them, talk them round to buying.  Ask why they like the item, convince them that they need it.  Haggle, do discounts for multiple items, make that sale before they leave.

If time is ticking on, put up your All Offers Considered sign.  You don't really want to pack it up and take it home do you?

Scout the other stalls again for reduced bargains that you can sell next time.

Good Luck!!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Stretch Your Shopping

Now you have drawn up your household budget (you have, haven't you?), you well have an allocated amount for your weekly shop.

This will be one of your biggest outgoings and I have found a way to reduce this annual amount by £840 per year!

What could you do with that money? Would it party for Christmas? How many mortgage payments is that?

So what's the secret? How do I do it?

By not shopping every 7 days but by stretching what we have to last another day.  So I shop every 8 days, meaning I do 45 shops each year rather than 52.  On a shipping budget of £120 per week, that saves me £840 per year.

It's worth noting that I don't shop for 8 days - I shop for 7 then on the last day we either eat from the freezer, cupboards or leftovers.  I have, during times of extreme laziness, I mean busyness, stretched this out to 10 days.

So get creative with your leftovers and stores.  Leave a link to your recipes below!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Meal Planning Monday - 28th January 2013

Well it's that tone of year when something has to be done about the tight clothes.  We turns not to start a diet at the very beginning of January so we've a better chance of sticking to it.

This week, The Hairy Dieters book is getting a hammering.  I've made several dishes from this before and they've ask been well received by both the kids and ourselves.  Most recipes are vegetable packed so great for children.

So this is the plan...

Monday - Hairy Dieters Shepherds Pie

Tuesday - Hairy Dieters Thai Green Curry with Pad Thai

Wednesday - Rogan josh Chicken and saag aloo

Thursday - hairy dieters Cassoulet

Friday - Chicken Dinner

Saturday - garlic mushrooms

Sunday - Shepherds Burritos

There's loads more meal plans over at At Home With Mrs M

Have a fab week!

Thursday, 17 January 2013

5 Secrets of Rich Ebay Sellers

A great little money maker to boost your savings pot is Ebay.  But make sure you are not giving your potential savings away by following these strategies which are deployed by the people who make a living from Ebay.


1. A Picture Speaks A Thousand Words
Stage your item.  If its clothes it will get more bids, therefore a higher price, if its on a mannequin.  If you have a lot to sell or intend to Ebay regularly, invest in one.  Buy it off Ebay and sell it when you're done with it. If its an unwanted gift, show it with a gift box and offer to include it.

2. Offer Free Postage and Packaging
Calm down, its not really free, its added into your starting price.  Just make sure you do know how much it will be to post. Weigh it check the Royal Mail website.  Items with low or free p&p sell.  Many people are put off by high postage rates.

3. Offer Inspiration
Buyers need to be encouraged.  Think of Selfridges compared to TK Max, I know where I prefer to shop, where its all there on a plate demonstrated and looking lovely.  Describe what your item could be, a gift for..., a time saving device, the latest must have gadget, the next big thing.  You do have to be accurate in your description so don't get carried away, but go as far as you can to make the buyer think hmmm yes, I'll have that!

4. Promote Your other items. 
Make sure you put a call to action at the end of your description.  I always add...
"please message me with any questions"
"if you like this, I have other similar items and will be happy to combine postage"
and Ebay will helpfully display your other items at the bottom of the description for you.

5. Monitor and Time Your Auctions
Consider when your ideal customer will be online.  You want to create a bidding war to get the maximum value.  I time my listings to end on a Friday night, particularly in January when people can't afford to go out.  Its also a good idea to have short auctions or use Buy It Now as everyone wants everything yesterday. Then finally, monitor your auctions, if you don't have a bid 24 hours before the end, let the start price to get things going.  Ultimately the item will probably sell for more than the original starting price.

Good luck!  Let me know how you get on and leave a comment below. 

Also let me know if your selling your regifts and I'll tweet the links to your items for you

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The Gallery 127 - New

Every week over at Sticky Fingers blog, photo posts are linked up, showing each bloggers interpretation of the weekly theme. 

This weeks theme is New.

Even with a new baby brother, here is a 5 year olds interpretation of the theme New.

When asked why...

"its newer than my old one.  Brothers are only new for a day, then they're 2 days OLD"

How To Do A Household Budget

I've written several posts on working out your budget and there's some fab advice and instruction on one of my favourite blogs Mortgage Free In Three

Household Budget Headache?

There's also fab advice and downloadable spreadsheets to get you organised on the Money Saving Expert Website.

If you intend to save money, for whatever reason - to get out of debt, for a holiday or rainy day (that's two different things - not a British holiday! Ha ha!) You need to be organised,know what you can afford, set goals and be committed to achieving them.

So let's find where you're at now and then we can build on that by increasing your income and saving where you can.

So your To Do List is....

1. Download a household budget spreadsheet

2. Fill it in

3. Look at where you can save money and cut outgoings.

4. Subscribe to this blog to receive the strategies I use direct to your inbox.

Its worth noting that cutting costs is not about depriving yourself or your family.  Its about not wasting money (like I identified on my Monday meal planning post) and getting value for money.

Next Wednesday, I'll be revealing the top 5 money wasters.  Subscribe and see if you're guilty!!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Leftover Roast with Revived Roast Potatoes

There's always some leftovers from a roast dinner and there's always a recipe for another meal!  It can also be made when you've loads of stuff to use up before it goes off.

This week its Pie.

Ingredients

Leftover meat
Cooked vegetables
Gravy (may need to make extra)
Ready rolled puff pastry
Cold roast potatoes
1 small onion

Method

Put the meat and veg in a deep dish

Pour over the gravy, make sure there's enough to cover the leftovers

Put the pastry over the top and brush with milk, cream or an egg.

Cook until the pastry is cooked

Meanwhile, squash the cold roast potatoes a little.  Not to much, just break in half.

Heat oil in a  saute or frying pan and fry sliced onion for a few minutes until starting to brown.

Add potatoes and season.

Fry until the potatoes crisp up and the onions are soft.

Check on the pie and serve!

Friday, 11 January 2013

Meal Planning Monday - 21St January 2013

This week I really need to stock up the freezer again and get some batch cooking done.  Unfortunately, having a teeny tiny freezer means we have to eat a portion on the day so can end up eating mince all week.

Monday - Posh Hotdogs and potato wedges

Tuesday - spaghetti Bolognese

Wednesday - Quesedillas

Thursday - Chicken and Quinoa Curry

Friday - Fish Pie

Saturday - Vegetable Chilli Tacos and rice

Sunday - Roast Beef Dinner

There's more meal plans on At Home With.Mrs M and for those who use their slow cooker there's recipes galore on Mediocre Mums blog.

And finally, here's the shopping list.

Ciabata
Large frankfurters
Cherry tomatoes
3 Onions
Gherkins
Potatoes
1.5kg mince
4 tins chopped tomatoes
2 tins plum tomatoes
Famiy sized Punnet of mushrooms
Garlic puree
Knorr beef stockpots
Corn tortillas
6 chicken breasts (quesedillas and curry)
Packet of old el paso quesedilla spice mix
Cheese
Refried beans
Sour cream
250g quinoa (not the flaked variety)
Balti paste
2 sweet potatoes
Spinach
Fish pie mix
Milk
Bay leaves
Eggs
Small Aubergine
1 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil
2 medium courgettes
200g mushrooms
2 carrots
1 yellow pepper
1 orange pepper
200g green beans
1 tbsp garlic paste (or a clove)
500g passatta
1 400g tin red kidney beans
1 400g tin cannelloni beans
250ml vegetable stock
2 tbsp Mild chilli powder (or to your own taste)
Roast beef joint
Sprouts
Yorkshire puds
Taco shells
Rice

Gift Idea: Baking Jar

If you want a unique present for a little girl, put together a baking jar.  Its cheap and quick to do and ideal if you've forgotten to get a present. 

You can also make it more fabulous by getting a cheap kids apron, kitchen timer, baking tray and cookie cutters.  I go to the discount store and see what they have in.

How To Make A Cookie Mix Jar

You will need...

A 1lb glass or plastic jar/canister
Ribbon
Labels (you can download these
Here)

Weigh out the ingredients and add to the jar in layers.  Press them down firmly to ensure everything fits in.

Put the lid on the jar

Print off the labels, cut out  and thread onto ribbon.  You could personalise the labels.

Tie the ribbon round the lid and you're done!

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Meal Planning Monday - 14th January 2013

Given last weeks news if how much food is wasted, I typically throw out at least half a carrier bag of untouched food from the fridge when I'm putting away my new haul of goodies.

So, I need to change.  Its a waste of money, our bins are too small and its just wasteful.

So here's my plan for this week and I will be strictly only buying what I need and using any leftover bits.

Monday - Roast beef dinner

Tuesday - Leftover Roast Dinner Pie

Wednesday -Toad in the hole with mash

Thursday - Crispy Chicken Strips, rice & peas and Dips

Friday - Steak and Chips with button mushrooms

Saturday - Quiche, beans and boiled potatoes

Sunday - Lean Fry Up

There's loads more meal plans on Mrs M's blog and if you're a slow cooker fan, check out Mediocre Mum's Slow Cooker Sunday.

What do you do with your leftovers? Have you any recipes? Leave a link below.

-I-

This weeks shopping list

Bacon -2 packs
Eggs - 12
Sausages - 2 packs
Tomatoes
Black pudding
Button mushrooms - 2 packs
Beans - 2 tinS
Ready made quiche case
Steak
Potatoes
Chicken mini fillets
Natural breadcrumbs
Aromat seasoning
Rice
Peas
Milk
Roast beef joint
Broccoli
Sprouts
Carrots
Parsnips
Goose fat

How To Make A Beeswax Candle

This is an easy activity for the kids, relatively cheap and a great way to give a personalised, handmade gift.

The wax is in the form of sheets that are rolled up.  There's no heating or melting required.

You will need:

Sheets of beeswax
Candle wick
Bits of ribbon
Glue, embellishments, anything you like!

How To Make a Candle

Lay out a length of candle wick and start rolling the wax sheet around it.

Keep rolling to form the candle.  When you reach the end, press the edge of the sheet into the rolled candle.

Decorate with ribbon or the embellishments of your choice.

If you want a fatter candle, press another sheet onto the edge when you reach the end rather than finishing the candle.

You can also cut the wax to give a fancy edge or use small cookie cutters on the very last bit to give a debossed effect.

Brilliant as a last minute gift and can be made months and months in advance.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

The Art of Regifting - Part Two

Following on from yesterdays post about regifting, here's my ultimate tip to ensure you are never caught out.

Hold a regifting party.

1. Label each gift in your regifting stash with a value.

2. Gather friends and more importantly, friends of friends (remember the circles rule of regifting from yesterday?) Send out a sheet explaining what a regifting party is and why its a great night in.

3. Set up an area for each person to display their regifting wares.

4.  Swap gifts of like for like value!

Now your family and friends will never know you have turned their unwanted gift into a completely new gift - saving you money! They won't recognise the gift, its a fab easy way to save.

You won't manage to shift all of your unwanted gifts so the next step to making sure you're not left with a cupboard full of stuff you don't want is the old faithful - Ebay.

More on how to make the maximum amount you can from Ebay next week, subscribe to my blog to make sure you dont miss my tips for ensuring a successful sale.

And if you fancy a regifting party, leave a comment and let's see if we can get you all together.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Quick Meal: Cod with Red Pesto

Ingredients

Jar of Home Made Red Pesto
4 cod fillets

Method

Preheat oven to 190

Place cod fillets in dish and cover top with red pesto

Cover with foil and cook for 16 minutes

Remove and allow to rest for a minute

Serve with steamed vegetables and boiled potatoes

Simple eh!?! Have you read my 10 meals from a jar of red pesto post?

Filling Quinoa and Chicken Curry

Taking inspiration from the M&S Fuller Longer Ready Meal Range, I created a curry that is do filling that even I couldn't finish a bowl full.
Makes 6 servings
Ingredients
400g diced chicken
2 medium onions, diced
3 sweet potatoes, diced
Tin of chopped tomatoes
8 tsp Balti paste
2 litres of chicken or vegetable stock
200g Quinoa
Method
Spray the wok with oil
Brown the chicken and the onion
Add the Balti paste, tin of tomatoes and quinoa and let it sizzle for a couple of minutes.
Add the sweet potato and stock and simmer for an hour or until the sweet potato goes soft.
Voila! As it contains quinoa, you don't need rice or chapatis.  I'm sure you'll find it filling.
Enjoy!
What's your favourite one pot dish? Please leave a link below

The Art of Regifting - Part One

Regifting is the practice of sending a gift you have received but don't want to someone else. The danger is sending the unwanted gift back to the original sender.

Regifting is a massive money saver and if you simply don't have the spare cash to buy a gift, its a godsend.  If you have popular young children that are often invited to parties, you can save a fortune from regifting as duplicates often happen. 

To be a slick regifter and ensure you're not caught out, follow these simple steps.

1. Label the gift with who bought it you, when and what for (by this I mean birthday or Christmas not "because they think I'd love a floral bandana")

2. Make a list of your unwanted gift stash including a column for the gift giver and a column for who you can regift it to.

3. Make a note in your diary of when and,what you intend to regift.  I do this as I'm to forgetful to remember.

4. Wrap and label the gift ready to give!

WARNING!!  When regifting, consider your circles of friends and family. You can't regift to people who may open the gift in front of the original gifter in case they recognise it.

Tomorrow I'll share with you the ultimate regifting top to ensure you are never caught out and also how you can make money from your pile of unwanted gifts.

Don't miss it - subscribe to the blog!!

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