Monday, 30 September 2013

Meal Plan Monday

Monday again........ the weekend passes far too quickly. If I was Prime Minister (very unlikely) I would introduce a 3 day Weekend for everyone.  This would mean only four days of work and with our  three days off, we can do all we want/need to do without cramming it into two and then feeling exhausted and wondering where the weekend has gone on Sunday night!!

However, back in the real world I have devised my meal plan for this week.

Monday - Prawn Baked Potato
Tuesday - Fajitas
Wednesday - At my Mum's
Thursday - Stovies

Undecided about what to have at the Weekend, also I am staying at my Parent's house as they are away on holiday on Saturday for one week (to Sorrento, alright for some) so will raid their fridge/freezer while I'm there :)!  Might as well get some perks for pet sitting!  Due to relying on what they have in I won't be participating in #mealplanningmonday next week.

Looking forward to seeing what everyone else is having this week.

Meal Planning Monday


Saturday, 28 September 2013

DIY | Halloween Boo Wall Hanging

Halloween Crafts

I love Halloween almost as much as I love Christmas. Although in the UK we don't celebrate Halloween in the same way as they do in America, I do like to decorate the house with my Yankee Candle Halloween candle holders and other Halloween things or "Tat" as Mr M likes to call it.

I will be making a few things too for Halloween but today I will be starting off with showing you my Boo wall hanging (if you live in warmer climes than Scotland or if your front door is sheltered, you could hang it up outside).

What you need:

Wooden Letters 1 x B and 2 x O. I bought these from an eBay shop.
Black Glitter Spray ( I used 2 x 200ml Cans)
Ribbon or Raffia to tie the letters together.
Anything you would like to decorate with

How to make:

Place newspaper on the floor or on a table in a well ventilated room - I did this outside as it was a really nice day.
Put your letters on the newspaper and cover your letters in the black glitter spray.  Wait until completely dry before doing the other side.  Now hindsight is a wonderful thing as I would have painted the letters black first before spraying them, instead they are a silvery grey colour but that still works fine :).

Once both sides have been sprayed and are dry, attach them together by tying your ribbon or raffia through the hole in the bottom of the B to the hole of the O and then join that letter through the other O.

I stuck on a wooden pumpkin, Witches broom and Witches hat that I already had in my craft stash. I will hang it up with an over the door wreath holder but you could attach a ribbon or a hook at the back if you wanted to hang it up on your wall.

Do you have any Halloween craft ideas? If so I'd love to hear them.

Enjoy your Weekend :)

DIY Halloween Crafts; Halloween Wall Decorations

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Thursday, 26 September 2013

What do you keep in your bag? 10 essential items you need!

I love bags........oh and shoes, amongst other things! They come in all shapes and sizes. You get big tote ones, small clutch ones, ones that go across your body and ones you hang off your wrist.  Your bag is something that you carry around with you all day so there are some essential items that you need to have in it.  There are also a lot of non-essential items in mine such as receipts, loads of lip glosses, perfumes, pens, etc (you get the gist)!  So in my "new organised me" mode, I cleared everything out of my bag and started to keep essential items only........if it's not regarded as essential then it's not getting in!!*

The bag that Im currently using is a lovely Cath Kidston Red Mini Spot Mini Shopper and I love it!  It's small enough to carry around but can hold quite a lot of things and also I love Cath Kidston products.

So my list of essential items are:

Mobile Phone
Keys (car & house)
Tissues (as having a runny nose is not a good look!)
Hand Sanitiser - in case the toilet you have been in has run out of soap or you have touched something nasty!
Feminine products (for those surprises we sometimes get or if a friend needs one)

The other essential items that I have in my bag that you might not need are:

Pen and Notebook (this comes in handy for any ideas that I may want to jot down or when someone runs into the side of my car and admits that it was their fault I can get them to write and sign admitting liability.  I only had the pen and no paper when this happened to me, still currently sorting this out weeks later! Grrrrrrrr!!)

Security Swipe Pass - for getting in and more importantly, out of the office

Physio-band - I have been getting physiotherapy on my dodgy knee and was given a band to put around my ankles.  Sitting in my chair at work I use this band by lifting up one leg while keeping the other one flat on the ground.  This causes resistance and should build up my quadriceps muscle supporting my knee.  Unfortunately when sitting at my desk with it around my ankles, it looks like I have a pair of pants around them so I do my exercises when no-one is about!

Hand cream

Business Card Holder

What do you keep in yours?

I'm sure given time, the non-essential items will be given an upgrade to "essential item" status!

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Garage Organisation - Update

Further to my last post on Garage Organisation, I have managed to declutter the garage and organise it so my car can go into the garage to keep it cosy in the colder nights (well, it's really to stop me having to de-ice my car in the mornings).  I hate having to get up earlier in the dark mornings to scrape all the snow and ice from my car in the freezing cold when I'd much rather still be in my warm bed!

The rusty BBQ, dishwasher wrapping, dead plant and a box of rubbish was chucked out, the garden furniture was folded and put to the back of the garage and the floor was swept, already it was looking much better.  As my washing machine and tumble dryer are housed in there, I gave them a good clean and organised the laundry products into a basket on top of the washing machine.  I also bought a preserving jar to keep my washing capsules in which I then labelled.  All the car cleaning products and other car related paraphernalia that Mr M buys were put into two baskets (the car has more cleaning products than I have for the house!) which were then put on top of the tumble dryer.

I labelled my storage boxes with what I had in them and I will rotate the boxes after I have used them, so when Halloween is over they will go to the bottom of the stack and Christmas will be on top since that is the next celebration.  I sold my card carousel on eBay as I no longer sell at Craft Fairs so that also freed up some space in the garage and will give me some money to buy more crap useful items.

Garage Organization Update

Now my car can be all nice and unfrozen while it is in the garage and I can be all snuggled in my warm bed hearing Mr M scrape his car as there is only room for one car in the garage and he leaves for work much earlier than me :)!

How did you get on with clearing out your garage?

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Monday, 23 September 2013

Meal Plan Monday

I was organised this week as had meal planned and even typed up this post by Saturday morning.  However, my smug feeling had disappeared by Saturday night when Mr M noticed that the freezer door was not shut properly and some things had started to defrost......aaaaaaaarrrrrrggggghhh!! I was the last person to open it when I put things in on Friday night after I had been shopping.  Going through the freezer contents it seemed to be the things at the front of the drawers that were starting to defrost and the stuff at the back were still frozen (phew!).  So some Quorn Burgers, fillets, couple of bags of frozen veg and a bag of chips had to go into the bin.  A packet of smoked salmon had already defrosted so the cat devoured that on Saturday night/Sunday morning, sausages and black pudding were used for a Brunchy type meal yesterday for us and I had to cook a Beef joint, chicken breast and a sea bass fillet (sea bass was for the cat), as there was no way we were able to eat everything before it would start to go off.  My meal plan for this week has now been changed!

This week is an easy has been a difficult week for meal planning (see above) and a few changes have been made to the meal plan.  I am now meeting my friend on Wednesday and have cancelled my visit to Mum's.

Baked Cod, Salad Potatoes & Veg - This was on the menu last week but I forgot to take the fish out of the freezer before leaving the house.
Due to freezergate we are now having Stovies with the slow cooked Beef from yesterday.

I am meeting my friend for dinner think we will go to a restaurant in town.  It will now be something with Chicken

Going to my Mum's ~ hopefully Macaroni Cheese.  Now meeting my friend for dinner.

Spaghetti Bolognaise ~in the Freezer (Luckily still frozen)



My Birthday so under no circumstances am I cooking!! :)

What are you having this week?

Meal Planning Monday

Sunday, 22 September 2013

It's here!

Well it's marks the first day of Autumn, this season lasts until Friday 20 December when Winter will begin (unless you live in Scotland where Winter will probably start in the next few weeks!).  I love Autumntime when the air starts to get a bit cooler and you need to wrap up warmly, being all snug and cosy indoors when it's howling a gale outside, the leaves turning lovely shades of gold and red, eating delicious stodgy food is a necessity (building up fat reserves for Winter to keep warm, of course) and also Autumn is when both my Birthday and Halloween happen!

To mark the start of Autumn I have lit my Spiced Apple Yankee Candle (sadly this seems to be another scent that is retired, just like my old Autumn Favourite ~ Cider Web :'( if you know of any similar scents available then please let me know) as the smells of cider spiced with cinnamon, cloves & nutmeg are lovely, and it just smells.....well Autumny Autumnal.

Also with Halloween coming in the next few weeks I am starting to get excited and already planning a few makes that I will share with you over the next few weeks. We get loads of kids at our door Trick or Treating, the first year we lived here there was a constant stream of Ghosts, Witches, Draculas, etc from just before 6pm until just after 9pm so I need to make sure that I have lots of sweets in for them (any leftovers will no doubt be consumed by Mr M). The 31st October is also the date my car is in the garage for it's MOT & service and my road tax is due then too, so hopefully the cost doesn't give me more of a scare than the Trick or Treaters!! Do you have a Halloween Party planned, or going to one? I'd love to hear your ideas for the party or your costume.

Another week and it will be my Birthday. Birthdays don't seem to excite me as much as they did when I was younger, back then you were counting down the years until you were old enough to: leave school, being able to drive, legally drink in pubs, being able to vote, turning 21 but now it seems the only countdown will be until I am old enough to retire!! I heard a saying once that "Life is like a toilet roll - the closer to the end, the faster it goes!" While I hope that I have a few more decades left in me, I can't help but think that the years go flying by much quicker than they did when I was younger.

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Friday, 20 September 2013

OMG!! I've Been Reviewed!!!

While at work I decided to log on to my blog to start writing up my next post when I saw on my News Feed that I had been reviewed. My first thought was Eeeeeek!!! and then my heart started thumping. What will it say? Will it be good or will it be bad?! There was only one way to find out so I clicked on it!

A very nice lady called Joy from Blogging for Bloggers reviewed my blog. Blogging for Bloggers are four lovely ladies (Joy, Luna, Laura and Ophelia) who blog and they will critique your blog, give it a rating and give you pointers on what you can do to improve it (unless of course your blog is a super-duper, all singing, all dancing one).  I think  it is good to have other people's opinions and ideas and Joy gave me some pointers on what to do to improve my overall rating which I will put into practice over the next couple of weeks.

If you would like them to have a look at your blog and critique it click here.

If you want to find out my rating, read my review here.

Enjoy your weekend! :)

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Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Meal Plan Day 2 - Disaster Struck!!

As planned on Monday I had the Cottage Pie (very nice) and Tuesday's dinner was going to be Baked Cod but..........I forgot to take the fish out of the freezer!!! I had a hospital appointment this morning and in my rush I forgot to take the fish out to defrost so rather than have fish ice lollies for dinner I had to improvise on what we already had in. Mr M's suggestion of something from the chip shop was knocked back as we need to cut back on the takeaways so a maximum of one per week (apart from this week as I am now meeting my cousin tomorrow night and we are having a Chinese takeaway ;) ).

There were 2 packs of mushrooms (closed cup & mini portobello) and a packet of puff pastry in the fridge so remembering a recipe that I once saw a while back, I decided to make a mushroom tartlet. It was delicious and had an autumnal feel to it.

Mushroom Puff Pastry

If you would like the recipe it is:

Mushroom Tartlet ( Serves 2)

1 Pack of Puff Pastry cut in half (I froze the remaining half)
Mushrooms sliced
Butter for frying
1 Garlic Clove finely chopped
Grated Parmesan
Parsley chopped
Salt & Pepper
1 Beaten egg for brushing pastry

Preheat the Oven to 200 degrees/fan 180 degrees
Melt your butter in a pan and then fry the sliced mushrooms, once cooked season and take off the heat.
Score a border about 1cm in around your pastry.
Add your Parmesan, garlic & parsley to the mushrooms.
Spoon the mushroom mix onto the centre of your pastry.
Brush the beaten egg around the border you have scored.
Put in the oven for 20 mins or until the pastry is puffed up and golden brown.

This was very easy to make and could also be used as a starter.

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Monday, 16 September 2013

Meal Planning Update

So after my last post about my lightbulb moment on Meal Planning on Thursday night, the new organised me made up our meal plan for the following week after looking to see what we already had in the freezer/cupboards that could be used up. This will reduce the contents of my freezer (before filling it up again for Christmas) and also (hopefully) reduce my shopping bill this week .....yay!!
So I have decided that this week we will have:

Cottage Pie
Baked Cod, Salad Potatoes & Veg
Wednesdays I go to my Mum's for tea :)
Spaghetti Bolognaise
Toad in the Hole

I am determined to stick to it and after scribbling out what items we needed for the coming week on my list, I then transferred it onto a blue Super Sticky Post-It. This is so I can stick it onto the shopping trolley handle while I walk around putting what I need into the trolley without having to keep carrying and looking at my list as I just need to glance at it while I'm pushing the trolley. Also getting carried away wanting to be super organised I put the items on my shopping list in the order of the supermarket layout so I'm not going around in circles picking up items off a haphazard list.

What's your meal plan for the week?

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Thursday, 12 September 2013

Meal Planning Brainwave

I had a lightbulb moment this week when I was clearing out the fridge and chucking out vegetables that were past their best. Getting fed up of the amount of food we waste and our indecision on a daily basis on what's for dinner......."what would you like for dinner?" "I don't mind, what would you like?".......then end up getting a takeaway because its too late and can't be bothered cooking. I decided that planning what we would eat during the week was the way forward as this will hopefully stop the uncertainty of what we will be eating that night and also reduce the amount of food that gets wasted. I am also hoping that with a meal plan I won't be walking around the supermarket throwing things in the shopping trolley randomly then finding out when I'm at home and hungry, what I have just bought won't make a proper meal!

After browsing in Paperchase (one of my favourite shops as I love stationery......I am ashamed to say that I buy notebooks just because they look nice) I found a Magnetic Meal Planner (£7) which has two slim notepads, a shopping list and a meal planner list. There were two different styles so I bought the Cupcake one. As it's magnetic, I am hoping that the fact it is stuck on the front of my fridge it won't give me an excuse not to use it.

I do my shopping every Friday after work so I will need to get thinking tonight about what meals we can eat over the next week.....think I will look in my cookbooks too for inspiration. I will post an update at the start of the week with what I am planning on having.

Do you meal plan? If so, do you meal plan weekly or fortnightly? If not and you too are fed up of deciding what to have every night for dinner, then I hope you can join me and hopefully give each other ideas so we don't stick to the same boring meals every week :)

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Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Kitchen Cleaning Tips

I have compiled a list of cleaning tips that I have come across, in some cases using natural ingredients rather than the harsh chemicals.

Cleaning glass oven doors
Soak a paper towel in malt vinegar and wipe all over the glass. Leave for one hour then wipe dry.

Cleaning your Microwave
Fill up a bowl of water and put in a few lemon wedges and microwave for 4 minutes. The steam should loosen off any bits of food that may have built up and will freshen up your oven too. Remove the lemon wedges and then using the hot water, wipe around the inside using a cloth and then rinse using clean hot water.

Microwave Cleaning
Rust Spots on Knives

If you don't want to waste your lemon wedges from cleaning your microwave then rub a wedge over the rust spots, rinse with water and then rub with a dish towel (I used a terry towelling one) and depending on how bad the marks are you may have to repeat the process. Wash knives afterwards in warm, soapy water and dry thoroughly.

Lemon Remove Rust Spots

Using 2 Tablespoons of Bicarbonate of Soda (of which I have plenty, see my Kitchen Update post) with 1 litre of warm water. Wipe over the inside of your fridge, door seals, wash your shelves and salad boxes with the solution. This should clean and deodorise your fridge.

Stainless Steel

Using a few drops of baby oil onto a paper towel or cloth and rub in circular motion onto your appliance will make your stainless steel shiny.

Baby Oil Stainless Steel

Kitchen Units
If you have a gap between the ceiling and the top of your units, cut newspaper to size and line the top of the cupboards with them. This will keep the tops of your units clean by catching the grease and dust on the paper instead of your cupboard tops. Remove and replace the paper monthly.

If you have any tips I would love to hear them :).


Garage Organisation

The colder weather will soon be upon us and having to scrape my car to clear away the ice is not something I am looking forward to doing. If you have a garage then there is a high chance it is filled with junk and boxes rather than having room for your car. If you can bear to dump your junk and clear out your garage to make room for your car I'm sure once the winter months roll around and you don't have to de-ice your car you will glad that you did it!

We had a good clear out of our garage last summer as it needed a new door and the place was strewn with boxes and junk. My garage also houses my washing machine and tumble dryer and carrying loads of washing and climbing over boxes like an assault course was not fun. A lot of the boxes were from when we moved in a year earlier and still unpacked. I even came across boxes where mice had got in and had chewed things (and peed and pooed on them too....yuck!!) We bought quite a few of the large clear storage containers with lids (to keep the mice and other nasties out) and I decluttered what I no longer used/required, etc and put all my Halloween decorations, Christmas decorations and Christmas dishes into separate Christmas decorations take up 3 containers!! Now the garage was tidy and the car could fit in to it no problem, I didn't have to climb over boxes to put my washing into the machine and more importantly I didnt feel embarrassed that the neighbours might see the mess...............

..................One year later the car is now parked in the drive, the garage although nowhere near the same mess as it was last year is starting to get untidy again and with no room for the car. As you can see from the photo below there is no room for a car but after a tidy up and some organising there should be.

Garage Organisation

So a plan of action is required to clear out and organise the garage before the cooler months come in. So I need to:

Sort out what I want to keep/donate or sell/chuck out so anything broken, not been used for a couple of years is to go! No excuses!!
Tidy and organise laundry products as they are just sitting on top of the washing machine, then fall off when the washing machine is on spin (all of the washing tablets I had smashed so I have now changed to capsules as they won't break into smithereens)
Label boxes so I know what are in them (they have already been organised into boxes containing Halloween, Christmas decorations and Christmas plates)
Tidy and organise gardening tools (store them all together if possible)
Sweep floor of tumble drying fluff and other yucky things lying around
Tidy and organise car cleaning products
Store the garden furniture properly (will need to buy something to cover them so they don't get ruined if there are any leaks.

How's your garage looking? Is it a junk graveyard or is it very organised and able to fit your car into it?

I know that this won't take a couple of hours to do but more than likely a weekend so I will update you how I get on next week. Let me know how you get on if you decide to do the same :)


Sunday, 8 September 2013

Chocolate Orange Cheesecake

Today I decided to make a cheesecake........I have never made one before so was unsure how it would turn out. Lets just say I was not disappointed :). I like cheesecake that are different such as Baileys, Banoffee, etc rather than a plain strawberry one or vanilla. So I decided to make a Chocolate Orange flavoured one and it was very, very nice. It was also quite easy to make and my right upper arm now aches from whisking the cream by hand.
chocolate orange cheesecake

If you would like to make the Cheesecake the recipe is below:

For the base:
16 Hobnobs
120g Unsalted butter
For the filling:
200g Full fat cream cheese
184ml Double cream
100g Icing sugar
1 Terry's chocolate orange

To make:

Put the half of the Hobnobs in a bowl and crush with the end of a rolling pin until they resemble breadcrumbs then put in the remaining Hobnobs.
Melt the butter in a microwavable bowl for 60 seconds or until it has melted. Add the crushed hobnobs to the butter and mix well.
Add the biscuit mix into a flan dish or into small glass dishes if you prefer to do individual desserts. Put in the fridge and leave for 30-40 mins.
Whisk the cream cheese and icing sugar together in a mixing bowl.
In a separate mixing bowl whisk the double cream till it peaks.
Break your chocolate orange into segments and keep back 2 segments. Melt the rest of the chocolate orange by putting it into a microwavable bowl and microwave for 30 seconds, stir then microwave for a further 30 seconds.
Stir the melted chocolate into the whipped cream and then add this to cream cheese and icing and whisk.
Put the mix on top of the biscuit base and spread evenly.
Grate the remaining chocolate segments on top of the mixture and place back into the fridge to set for around a couple of hours.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Kitchen Organisation - Update

So just to update you on where I left off last week, I have:

to clean out and declutter my drawers/cupboards

organise my food cupboard and make a list of what I have so I can stop buying duplicates of things

clean my oven (as a sticky honey sauce leaked all over the glass door and is now smeared across it after my attempt of cleaning up)

clean worktops and remove anything that I don't use often

Cleaning out my cupboards and drawers wasn't as bad as I was expecting as all that had to be decluttered out of them were a few pens, a nasty plastic pair of salad tongs that I don't ever remember buying and a mushroom brush........I mean who buys a mushroom brush?! I normally wipe them with a piece of kitchen roll not brush them! What possessed me to buy a mushroom brush, you may ask? I bought it when I was first setting up home and I obviously thought that it was a must-have. After 12 years of being unused, I decided it was time for it to move out and go into the bin. I am sure that I am not the only one that has purchased something that you later wonder...why?! Whats your must-have?

While I was organising my food cupboard I found that most of the items were in date bar a couple packets of white sauce. I decided to write up a Pantry Inventory (I will be writing more about this along with a few more print outs that I have in another post) and hopefully this should stop me from buying duplicates of things......6 tins of Baked Beans is fine as they will get eaten but for some reason there are 3 tubs of Bicarbonate of Soda. I've seen things on the internet about using Bicarbonate of Soda (Baking Soda if you are in the USA) for cleaning so I might give this a go instead of my usual cleaning products that I use, will need to buy white vinegar though as there is only malt vinegar in my cupboard. Do you use Bicarbonate of Soda for cleaning? Is it any good?

I bought some silver plastic storage baskets from B&Q last week, they were on clearance at £3 for a set of 3 and also as a 3 for 2 so I bought the remaining 3 sets that were there and used one of them to store cereal bars, biscuits, chocolate, etc rather than them just shoved into a cupboard and overflowing on a shelf. I will use the remaining 8 for other projects that I have in mind.

My oven is now clean and sparkly inside and shall remain that way probably until the next time I use it. I can now see through the glass door of my oven too so I can see whether my food is being cremated or just right.

My worktops were cleaned and although I dont have many appliances on them I do have things like bread on top of my fruit bowl and eggs on top of the microwave so it makes the room look more cluttered. So I have put the bread in the fridge and have put the eggs into a cupboard and will hope that they don't fall out and break. I did see a nice egg holder in Next that I may buy once the Kitchen is finished being decorated. Mr M was not well at the weekend so we were unable to decorate the Kitchen but hopefully it will be finished by next weekend and I will put up some pics of the new colour.

Kitchen Cupboard Organization

This is a before picture & below, an after picture......much tidier :)!

Kitchen Cupboard Organization

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