Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Random likings

 1. The Great Western Lego Show
Got my tickets and taking the kids on Saturday. Lots of Lego and hopefully nicely behaved children, not screaming I want brats. (mine, I'm not fussed about anyone else's children's behaviour unless it makes my kids look good)

2. Bvlgari Parentesi Cocktail Ring
Speaks for itself.

3.Depeche Mode - Just Can't Get Enough
The synth, the boots, the dancing... 

4. My slow cooker
Working hard in the kitchen lately, so I don't have to. 

Monday, 26 September 2011

Meal Planning Monday - 26 September

phew, a mental Monday, but I've finally managed to commit my meal plan to blog for your eatification (see what I did there? bad pun, I know). Here it is:

Quorn cottage pie with butternut squash & cauliflower topping

Turkey Burgers & salad
Chicken curry
Pulled pork sandwiches & corn on the cob
Toad in the hole
Diet Coke chicken

I didn't make the crab frittata from last week, but I vow to make it this week to have for lunches. I am not a lover of seafood and often resist cooking it even though I know I need to eat more. 

Chicken curry and pulled pork will be done in the slow cooker and possibly also the Diet Coke chicken, depending on how my week pans out. It's one of those weeks where I've got something or other every single afternoon or evening, which cuts into meal preparation time so it needs to be done in advance where possible. 

One thing I did make last week was banana bread in my slow cooker. It was the first time I've ever made a cake in it and it was mostly a success. It was HUGE and I had to cut half of it into portion sizes and freeze as there was no way it would have all been eaten before it went yuck. Next time I will lower the temperature with about half an hour to go as the outside has a crust. I suppose it's ok because it was a bread recipe, but I prefer it without. This is the recipe I used.

Monday, 19 September 2011

3 good things this week

1. Quidco
My husband has been wanting a new phone for a while. He doesn't have a contract, so I've been on the look out for one that suits him without too many bells and whistles as he'd make a Luddite look technologically advanced. Last week, thanks to Quidco, I got him a fab Sony Ericsson Arc with the perfect contract for him and a lovely £80 cashback for me. Ka-ching.

2. DIY Lego Advent Calendar
Lego have a fantastic looking Star Wars Lego Advent calendar. For those who say "what's Christmassy about Star Wars?" well, just look at the Santa Yoda minifigure. Lego is big in our house. My boys play with it continuously. There's a Lego city in their room that just keeps expanding. They have so much, yet can never have enough and they're always building and improving their creations (usually with more weapons, but I choose to ignore that part).

Unfortunately I can't justify £50 for 2 of them, and there's no way that 1 would be shared without tears and/or arguments right when I am trying to get them out the door for school, so I hit on the bright idea of making my own Advent calendar for them this year. I have bought some Lego minifigures and some other bits and pieces from the Lego Pick-A-Brick store online .

Here is what I have bought so far. It might not look like much in the photo, but there are quite a few pieces and accessories there. I will also get some other mini figures and some chocolate coins over the next few weeks to spread the cost a little. I read an idea on Pinterest (naturally) about wrapping up 24 Christmas books as an Advent calendar. I don't think I'll go that far, but I will include activites like reading a particular story, or DVD night with a particular Christmas film so it's not all about gimmie-gimmie. I am not sure how I'll put the calendar together, but it will be simple - possibly even just sealed envelopes on a piece of cardboard. I'll put a picture up when it's done.

3. My Welsh Wool Blanket
I have wanted a Welsh wool blanket for ages, but have always thought it's a bit of a luxury. I don't know why, I throw away money on things far more frivilous. There's always a stall at the Abergavenny Food Festival selling old blankets and linens I look at and covet, and I was determined that this would be the year I treat myself. And it was, and I did. It's lovely and warm but lightweight and not itchy. The pattern and colours are muted and I am very happy.

Oh, and one more thing that's made me happy this week: the September Glossy Box, including lovely full size HD Eyebrow palette (just what I need for my fair brows) and some L'Oreal hair oil that smells delicious and is doing wonders for my in desperate need of a trim, over bleached, hair.

Meal Planning Monday - 19 September

Another successful meal week behind me. I think I might do a month planning in October. It's really made a massive difference this month, not having to think about it weekly. I've also been gathering up some great slow cooker recipes that I want to try out and if I plan a month in advance I can buy in bulk more effectively.

This week's menu is:

Steak pie (slow cooker)
Moroccan chicken & cous cous (slow cooker)
Crab & red pepper frittata
Quorn stir fry
Gammon, egg, chips, tomato & peas
Quorn bolognaise (slow cooker)

You'll notice I've got 3 slow cooker recipes in there already. I am in love with my slow cooker and really recommend you get one if you haven't already. They don't have to be expensive. I think mine cost under £20 from Argos a few years ago. It makes things so much faster and you'd be surprised at what you can cook in them. I need to explore sites like A Year of Slow Cooking. If you have any recipes, please send them my way.


Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Random likings

I've fallen so deeply in love with Pinterest that I've neglected putting things here I've seen and liked (which was the whole purpose of this blog to start with). Here for your viewing pleasure are things I have seen this week worth mentioning:

Robert Pattinson. I must admit, the older he's getting the more I understand the appeal.

Solange Azagury-Partridge jewellery - I can't find a picture but she has a new range coming out called 24:7 and there's this star bracelet that I covet.

The Abergavenny Food Festival - on this weekend (17-18 Sept) I go every year and this is the 2nd year I'm working there. I love it. It's such a good festival in such a lovely town.

Autumn. I'd like to mourn the passing of summer but it never seemed to arrive this year so there's nothing to mourn. Autumn, however, always does it right.

My new necklace

You can see the other things I've been liking if you follow me on Pinterest

Monday, 12 September 2011

Meal Planning Monday - 12 September

Happy Meal Planning Monday everyone! As mentioned last week, I've already planned for the month so it's nice and easy this week.
Chicken fajita stack
Jacket potato, beans and salad
Chicken & mushroom pie
Quorn stir fry
Battered fish, chips & mushy peas
Soy beef with bok choy

Last week's menu was a success. The only meal I didn't end up making was the risotto, because we had McDonalds on Friday instead. 
I love the whole monthly planning thing. I've considered it before and written it off as too much trouble but it's not at all. I bought a whole chicken and cooked it in the slow cooker before making the chicken pie and fajita stack on the weekend, so I'm waaaaay ahead of the curve this week and thank goodness, as this week is mentally busy and I've just had an unscheduled 3 hours in A&E which has really messed things up.

I'm working at the Abergavenny Food Festival this weekend I need to be able to make as much in advance as I can. I think the only meal I'll have to make fresh is the battered fish and mushy peas. I only have small potatoes, so the jacket potatoes and beans will be more of a potato and bean bake.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Christmas cooking

I know it's only September but I have started thinking about Christmas cooking. Not the meal - we're not traditional in our house - but the other food: the presents, the snacks, the things that make the house smell good.
2 years ago I made food hampers as gifts and swore never again. Not because it was difficult but because the money and effort that went into it didn't seem to equate to the end result. However, Pinterest has flicked my Christmas food making switch and these are the things I am contemplating this year:

Blackberry vodka

I need to get cracking on the vodka as it needs at least 3 months.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Meal Planning Monday - 5 September


Good Monday Meal Planners! I am feeling super organised at the moment as I have actually planned ahead for the WHOLE MONTH. That's right - 4 week's worth of meal planning and ingredient listing is done and it's a bit of a relief not to have to think about it for a while. September is stupidly busy so I decided to do it all in advance and make life a little easier for myself.

Here is this week's instalment. 6 meals which will give left overs for lunches, plus one night off.
Pork Schnitzel
Lemon Chicken
Quorn stir fry
Egg, chips, baked peppers
Chilli & butternut squash risotto
Turkey meatloaf & veg

I haven't decided what do bake this week. I think it may include.

I made this Nutella Mug Cake on Sat night (another Pinterest find). I have convinced myself it's diet friendly (despite the waist expanding ingredients) because you only make 1 serving and therefore don't have a whole cake waiting to be eaten. It was lovely, but a very large portion. 1.5 recipe amounts would be enough for 2 people. 

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Tighten your belts! It's Sensible Spending September

After seemingly hemmorrhaging money over the past 2 months I can feel my mindset naturally clicking into frugal mode. It's time to tighten my belt, cut my coat according to my cloth, insert parsimonious cliche here. I am far from a spendthrift but living frugally is not something I can do for a long period of time. When the need comes naturally like this (as opposed via a nasty bank statement shock) it's a great feeling. It's like a spring clean for the soul as I sell things we no longer use and generally have a good declutter. Clean house + growing bank balance + virtuous feeling = how can you go wrong?

Sensible Spending September has arisen from my love of cheesy alliteration and the need to feel like I'm in control of my bank account again.

If you're of a similar mindset I enthusiastically recommend A Thrifty Mrs, and my ongoing amour Pinterest.
Rachael Blogs did a great post on Groupon recently. And don't forget sites like Quidco. As long as you're not spending money for the sake of saving money, they can be really useful.