Monday, 9 December 2013

Meal Planning Monday - 9 December 2013

Yay! I managed to get my Meal Planning Monday post ready for an actual Monday! The past fortnight has seen me running my pantry, fridge and freezer stocks down and it's fair to say that in the last few days there have been some rumblings. Not tummy rumblings - there has been plenty to eat - but mutinous rumblings from the troops who are not best pleased that their favourite cereal hasn't been replaced and they have been forced to munch their way through the copious other boxes on offer.

I only have five meals planned this week because I think we may eat out one night and will probably have either left overs or a cupboard dinner the other night.

Lemon chicken
Swedish meatballs
Slow cooker pork with caramelised onion and mushroom sauce
Vegegable rice pilaf (didn't have this last week)
Chicken pot pie pockets

Remember to mosey on over to Mrs M's for more Meal Planning Monday posts. 

I've started getting organised with our Christmas food. We are having gammon and chicken and veg that someone else has prepared because I have better things to do on Christmas Day than peel carrots! I have booked my grocery slot, now I just need to finish my shopping list and remember to update it in time. 

What's on your menu this week? More importantly, have you planned your Christmas menu yet?

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Festive Giveaway: Get Your Christmas On

Since it's now less than three weeks until Christmas I probably should start my inaugural Christmas Giveaway! I started my preparations great guns in early November but petered out mid month and am now trying to get everything out of the way before giving my house a really good clean and making it feel festive.

To help you feel more festive I have not one, but two prizes up for grabs:

1. Paper Chain kit, paper straws, shabby chic hanging decorations

2. Merry Christmas Mug and  melamine tray
All you need to do is enter via the widget below and hope you've been a good boy or girl this year. (Actually, that last bit doesn't matter. Just hope your name comes up) The competition is open for a week and will finish on Thursday 12 December. I will need winners address details by Friday 13 December so I can get them in the post to you for you to (hopefully) receive before Christmas.

What are you waiting for? Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Random Likings

This is what has been distracting me recently and, surprisingly, none of it is to do with Christmas.

 1. Narratively
I can't remember how I found this site, but it makes for really entertaining reading. It's packed with well written, insightful and incredibly personal stories that show a less visible side of New York. I promise I'll only read one, but before I know it half an hour has passed and I've been sucked into other people's lives.

2. LEGO Minifigure Family Postcards
Ok, this one is kind of about Christmas but it's LEGO and it's COOL so suck it up and get stuck in

3. Thread Den
If you're in Melbourne you really should visit Thread Den. It's a sewing lounge where you can take classes and attend workshops, get advice and improve your skill with a needle and thread. I don't drink much these days so bonding with friends over a bottle of wine is not appealing, however this funky looking store would be an enjoyable alternative to a pub.

4. Nightsky Dress by Joanna Johnson
I love this dress! It's made from lightweight flecked Italian wool and lined in silk satin. It has a stunning cut away back you can see here .  That combination of fabrics must make it feel amazing to wear. There are stacks of stunning gowns around with all the numerous party-wear inspired magazine articles, but this one really stood out to me for its elegance and simplicity.

5. Bottle Green Blackcurrant & Coffee Cordial
This limited edition cordial is sold at Waitrose for £2.something. The surprising combination of flavours really works with either hot or cold water. I will be getting more.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Meal Planning Monday ... um... Tuesday 3 December

Yep, it's Tuesday but I don't even feel guilty because I am already doing better than last week when it comes to having a meal plan. I am in the middle of project Empty the Freezer and Pantry in preparation for all the yummy Christmassy goodness with which I plan on filling them. I will never forget two years ago when I had just filled my freezer to the brim only to have it conk out sometime during the night leaving me with a bench full of rapidly defrosting Christmas dinner. Fun times...

Last week wasn't too bad but this week requires me to concoct meals involving six pairs of bread crusts and some rolls with a bit of freezer burn.

Chicken pasta bake (made by my son at school)
Sweet chilli chicken
Tex Mex Quinoa casserole
Bacon topped meatloaf made with turkey mince, and garlic bread
Toad in the Hole
Breakfast for dinner (eggs, spinach, sausage, beans and bagel)

I'd remind you to check out Mrs M's Meal Planning Monday linky except I'm so late with this that you've probably already been there. 

If you see me Tweeting requests for suggestions for using random ingredients you'll know I'm struggling to sort next week's meals!

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Top 10 Pinterest DIY Christmas Projects

The time has come to trawl through my Christmas Pinterest board and decide which of all the ideas and projects I have pinned will actually make it to reality. I gave myself a fright by checking my bank balance today and decided that presents still left to sort will not be bought but made, and preferably by the kids. It is with one eye on budget and another on the required skill level that I have narrowed it down to the following pins. Actually, the kids chose them, hence all the sweet recipes.

And to package some of them: 

What Pinterest creations will you be doing for Christmas this year?

Monday, 11 November 2013

Meal Planning Monday - The Damsels Edition

Glancing up at my little used recipe book shelf I spied the red folder that is my Damsels cookbook? Does anyone remember this? I compiled it about 7 years ago whilst pregnant with my second son. I was waiting for my redundancy date to kick in at work and had a lot of time on my hands so copied as many recipes as I could find from the Food and Drink forums and emailed it to anyone who wanted it (with Damz' permission, natch). The only recipe I tend to use from it these days is Habanahansa's Celebration Brownies, so I thought I'd utilise it for this week's meal plan.

Slow Cooker Chili
Jamie Oliver's Botham Burgers
Orange Chicken
Philly Chicken and Veg
Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie
Egg, beans and bagels

There's another Clandestine Cake meeting this week and I am determined to make amends for my crap effort last time. I'll be baking Chocolate Torte with Salted Caramel and Almond Brittle and, just to make sure it all goes smoothly, I'll be doing a test run!

Last week's meal plan was a total success and I have added Oxtail Stew with Pumpkin and Cinnamon (I used normal stewing beef and served it with quinoa for really delicious and healthy dinner) to the Shared Family Favourites Board on Pinterest.

Remember to check out Mrs M's linky for lots of Meal Planning Monday posts. It's quite a community over there and there are always heaps of tasty meal plans to inspire you.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Random Likings

It's been a while since I posted one of these so here, for your delectation, is a list of utterly random objects I have seen and liked recently. Ta dah!

1. Ryan Gosling Tea Towel
I am not sure £9.95 is worth having Ryan's face swooshing around in my mugs and bowls, and what's all the popcorn about?

£9.95 at Prezzy Box

2. Sockadoo
I have a think about sock monkeys and I only have to look on Etsy to see that I am not alone. Sockadoo is a Cardiff based woman making cute sock animals. They're mainly £8 plus postage and, being CE Certified, would make fab pressies.

3. Lego Wall Decal
£43.36 from Etsy

4. Philip Veale Photography
If I ever doubted that I lived in a stunning part of the world just looking at the gallery at Peter Veale Photography would remind me. This is the Sugarloaf near Abergavenny.

5. Staffordshire/Derbyshire Oatcakes
When I saw these on the breakfast menu I thought it was weird to have crackers with sausages and eggs, so imagine my delight when they turned out to be like big, thin blinis! Unlike blinis these are made using fine oatmeal instead of buckwheat. Yeast is on my shopping list and I will be attempting these in the near future.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Meal Planning Monday - The Sainsbury's Magazine Edition

This week's meal plan is mainly brought to you by Sainsbury's Magazine - not because they're paying me (I wish!) but because a) I have a seeming truck-load of pumpkin to use and b) I took the November copy of the Sainsbury's Magazine away with me this weekend and there are lots of nice recipes in there I want to try.

Double Bubble Sweet Potato Gratin and gammon (with pumpkin instead of sweet potato)
Chicken with coriander yoghurt chutney
Spaghetti Bolognese
Baked rice with Ham, Peas & Stilton ('cause fussy husband won't eat macaroni)

 Pumpkin Soup with Tomato, Corn and Coriander Salsa
If there is any pumpkin left over I will try this Autumn Pumpkin Chutney or possibly just cook and puree them to make into soup at a later date.

If you have a favourite pumpkin recipe why not post a link to it in the comments section or add it to the Shared Family Favourites board on Pinterest (just add a comment below letting me know your Pinterest ID if you don't already have permission to pin to this board)

Don't forget to check out more Meal Planning Monday inspiration at Mrs M's

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Corvette Silo

Corvette Silo

Imagine a pretty pink shop in a peaceful courtyard. Its exterior beckons you with promises of treasures within; treasures which, when you step through the door to the sound of a bell tinkling, are better than you could have hoped. That's Corvette Silo.

Bakewell has more than it's fair share of gift shops - twee and otherwise - but Corvette Silo stands out as being gorgeous, unique and affordable. You can buy anything from a metre of ribbon to something for virtually everyone (female) on your Christmas list. I didn't have much time to browse on Saturday but finding the website was one of the first things I did when I got home and had a free minute! I am so happy to see they deliver UK wide.

All I bought was these fab wooden Christmas garlands, but there are definitely more than a few items I have my eye on, such as:

Robert Kaufman Christmas Fat Quarters £21
Sass & Belle lilac pom-poms £3.30 for 3 metres

Hessian Stag Head £19.99

Striped buttons £1.25 for 10
If you're near Bakewell you have to make time to check out Corvette Silo. It's the pink house at the back of Kings Court. If you need to bribe your other half or kids to behave while you indulge, there's an amazing chocolatier next door, and a delicious looking cafe which I would have liked the opportunity to try. If the Peak District isn't on your agenda just go to and go crazy. You can also find Corvette Silo on Facebook.

Silent Sunday

Friday, 1 November 2013

Win a Copy of Adventivity - 25 Days of Christmas Crafts

If you saw by post on 25 of the Best 2013 Advent Calendars you might have noticed Adventivity at number 3. This fab book is packed with 25 different Christmas craft activities - one for every day of Advent. There are lots of press out cardboard decorations and great ideas to keep kids happily occupied while you enjoy a cuppa in peace finish your Christmas preparations. It retails for £12.99 but one lucky reader can WIN a copy in time for Advent - how cool is that!

All you have to do is enter using Rafflecopter then sit back and keep your fingers crossed. The competition ends at 12.00am on Tuesday 19 November 2013. The winner will be drawn then and the prize posted ASAP. If you win I'll need your name and address by 8am on Thursday 21 November, otherwise another name may be drawn.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 28 October 2013

Meal Planning Monday - 28 October 2013

Right, confession time. This post should have actually been for last Monday but although I meal planned, I never got around to writing about it. This is what we had:

Chicken curry with spinach and naan
toad in the hole with gravy
Pizza tortillas
chicken crepes
slow cooked lamb shanks in red wine

We also went out for dinner as a midweek "mum can't be bothered cooking" treat. 

This week I have a Halloween party for 20-30 six-year-olds so sweets will be on the menu. It's also half term so I haven't meal planned for this week as I plan to use up a lot of what I have languishing in the freezer and pantry.

Remember to check out Mrs M's for more Meal Planning Monday inspiration. 

Friday, 25 October 2013

Bargain Christmas Presents for LEGO mad kids

I know I post a lot about LEGO but that's because my kids adore it. Here are some fab LEGO bargains which will make great Christmas presents for your LEGO mad kids

£4.99 from The Book People. Normally £16.99

£3.99 from Home Bargains (online only). RRP £10. Also comes in pink and I got some in red last week, but there are none on the website.

£4.99 from Home Bargains (RRP £9.99)

Not sure when this finishes, but probably within the next fortnight
£2.99 from The Book People (RRP £16.99) 

LEGO Superheroes 6860 The Batcave £52.49 +free delivery at Amazon (RRP £69.99)

Lego City Airport Cargo Terminal 60022 £52 at Tesco normally £69.99

And for big kids... cufflinks £12.50 at Amazon (were £35)

Sainsbury's also have an up to 50% off toy sale on in store until 29 Oct, but be quick because the good stuff always goes fast.

If you have seen any other LEGO bargains please post in the comments and share the LEGO love.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Cheap and Easy LEGO Storage Solution

Way back in May last year I posted about our LEGO storage solution. At the time I mentioned that I was working on LEGO storage for my younger son. I finally got around to taking pictures and this is what it looks like:

The bookcase was £5 from eBay. It's on castors so he can swing it out to get to the other side. I've also painted one end with blackboard paint. This bit is a littler fuller, but essentially the same.

This is the other side. The containers are £2.50 each from Asda, or 3 for £7 and we used 15 of them. I discarded the lids and the scoops because we decided they were rubbish for LEGO purposes. As with my older son's, the LEGO is sorted by size and shape and not by colour because it's so much more practical for building.

As an added bonus I will throw in some pictures of their recent projects such as this marble maze

And the clock my oldest made. Sorry for the poor pic but I didn't want to move it in case I broke it (my hands and LEGO models do not go well together!)