Sunday, December 29, 2013

Organising my kitchen

I am, so far, still very enthusiastic about my organising challenge. I have decided that I will spend January getting my kitchen organised. It takes 30 days to form a habit, apparently, so I am hoping that taking time to really sort it will help it stick. 

I don't feel I am yet in a place to be issuing challenge advice, but I can tell you what I have done, and if you fancy getting involved, or have tips to share - amazing, you are absolutely welcome - and thanks!

Here is my kitchen organising & de-cluttering process so far....

Day 1

I started by analysing my kitchen as it is now. Looking at what is there now, where everything is, what I like and don't like about it. What works and what doesn't. I drew these sketches to help. 

Day 2

I started planning where I wanted everything to go. Changing what doesn't work, including what I want to bring into the kitchen. I drew this sketch.

Then I went shopping for some organising stuff - boxes, plate racks, etc. 

Didn't get what I wanted, but there's time. 

Finally, the bug got me, and I wanted to make progress, so I started moving my kitchen around. From this:

To this:

Not a big change, but should make the shelves more usable.

Tomorrow I'll be going through the drawers and cupboards one by one. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

2014 will be my year!

Hello dear reader.

I hope you had a lovely Christmas. I had a really wonderful time. 

As always it is time to reflect on the year that has totally flown by, and plan for the year ahead. As I am sure you know by now, this is the time when I make promises I don't keep, make lists, resolutions, and life changes. This year is no different!

2013 has been amazing. There have been a lot of changes, especially in the last few months, and I am actually really excited for 2014. I feel I am now at a point in my life where I appreciate it is time to start acting like a grown up and take some responsibility. I can't keep blaming my laziness. I need to take action. 

There's a lot I need to sort out. Including a cleaning schedule, workable routines, money saving, time with family and friends, organising, decluttering. Basically a whole life plan. 

My intention is to do one thing every day towards my goal - which is to feel organised & happy by the end of 2014. Yes, I am giving myself a year - Rome wasn't built in a day, after all. I will do my best to keep this blog updated regularly and to post some useful stuff, but I am not going to stress about it. Keeping this blog updated is not going to be a priority for me, getting organised is. 

Today's one thing was to get a family calendar for the kitchen, which I have ordered and should be with me tomorrow. 

My main tool in my getting organised mission is my new iPad mini - a totally unexpected, yet fabulous Christmas present. I feel this will make me super efficient in a way my Filofax, iPhone, diary, laptop, notebooks, etc just haven't quite achieved!

I have so far started using the calendar to manage all of my appointments & Wunderlist for my to do lists and routines. I'll post more about this again. 

Any tips let me know, or if you write an organising blog I should read, post it below. Here's to an organised and orderly 2014! 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Don't stop me now....

Did I say weekly? I'm sure I meant monthly.... ha!

Once again there have been changes and opportunities that have given me plenty of chances to avoid any kind of routine. Having said that, these changes are likely to force me into a routine - one that will work for me and my family. If I can just get Little Miss to go to bed....

I did try to blog sooner and sat down a few times to do so, even started posts but something else always took priority. And that's ok. Because my daughter, my work, my house, my husband, my me-time (not necessarily in that order) will always take priority over this blog.

Setting priorities is difficult and they change a lot. I think this is what I have struggled with throughout all of my 'pursuit' and routine planning - choosing what the priorities are at a particular moment and working towards those.

When I'm with Evie I should be spending time with Evie. When I'm at work I should be working. When I'm having me-time I need to switch off and relax. And you know what, the cleaning can wait! We don't live in a complete tip and we are clean. It's just a bit cluttered, and there are toys EVERYWHERE, and I don't iron my clothes, I dump stuff on the dining table or the kitchen island. Thinking about it all at once and trying to plan everything at the same time is totally overwhelming and pretty difficult to do anything about. Focusing on clearing the dining table is much more manageable and gives a feeling of success.

So that's what I've started doing this week. Trying to focus on the task at hand, adopting a 'just do it' attitude, and splitting everything down into smaller tasks. Early days I know....but so far so good.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The pursuit begins....

I seem to spend an awful lot of time googling routines, reading about what others are doing, complaining that I cannot get into a routine and looking for some magic method to get me to write and stick to a routine that will make my life easier.

I can't be the only one! (At least that's what I tell myself.)

There are lots of things I want to do but for some reason seem to hold myself back or get waylaid in the detail rather than just doing. Or find an excuse. Or have to clean. Or...whatever. My main 'excuses' at the moment are Evie or work. I cannot spend time with Evie because I need to work. Or I cannot work because Evie won't go to bed. Neither of which are valid arguments really, both of which are starting to really get me down.

So, this is me stopping all excuses. I have a lot going on in the next few months and I want to enjoy it. But it is going to mean quite a bit of working, and I want to spend time with my family too, and my friends as I feel I've been a bit neglectful lately. My house (as ever) needs sorting out. As does the shop, my office, my clothes, my computer, my phone.....the list is long.

I have to start somewhere and waiting until the weekend or Monday is just putting if off unnecessarily - so here I am.

I have a daily routine, of sorts, that I follow most days, but I need to build a bit more into it. I need a weekly, monthly and cleaning routine and a way of following and managing them all - like my filofax. I need to make sure everything is written down.

In terms of this blog, you may notice I have changed its name, and it will become more themed around my pursuit of organisation. I will make a promise to blog at least once a week. That seems do-able at the moment.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

{15 days to an organised home} The result

Although I haven't been blogging my progress, I didn't actually do too badly. No, my house is not a haven of routine and uncluttered drawers with a sense of harmony and peace. But it is getting there. I did get more done than I expected, especially with having to pack for holiday too.

I didn't manage to get something done every day, nor every other day due to work commitments and spending time with Evie. Having said that it felt manageable and not as though I was cleaning and sorting in my 'free' time, which is what I'd like to aim for.

I even spent some time working on my filofax - which is now my new favourite thing.

As I am about to leave for holiday (in just under an hour) I am not making any promises to blog, but do a little bit of planning so I can come back, quickly get back on top of the washing and cleaning and spend more time on this blog.

Monday, July 22, 2013

{15 days to an organised home} DAY 1

As promised, here I am with day one update. 

Following on from trying to follow a specific routine I have decided to just jump in with whatever needs doing and whatever little Evie G will allow me to do. 

While I am doing my decluttering I will journal all of my cleaning over the next 15 days (and when I get back from holiday) as a basis for developing my cleaning schedule. At the moment I clean when stuff needs doing - or when someone is coming to visit - but I don't really know how often each task actually needs doing. So by writing down what I do, I should be able to develop a workable schedule. 

Thrilling stuff, I know, but I do need to sort something out! Why am I blogging about it? Because it will hopefully encourage me to continue if I think people are watching, because it may help someone else, because i have read a lot of very helpful articles and want to give a little back. 

So. This is what I have done today. 

- Get back to base level. After a lovely BBQ yesterday the house was left a little 'dishevelled', my first job was to get our living space back to a workable level, or at least to a stage where I could see the workshops and floor. :-) it took 4 dishwasher loads! I also swept and mopped the floor.

- I have started a home control Filofax. Not sure where it will take me yet, but I am a big fan of writing stuff down and struggle a little bit with digital to do lists. There's something about seeing my own handwriting, about it being my own work rather than a typed list.... Its very minimal at the moment, but there'll be plenty to add to it, I'm sure. Here's my first draft for sections:

- I measured the porch so that I could keep an eye out for furniture or storage that will fit. Already I have identified some plastic drawers that will do the job, they just need a wipe down and some pretty labels.

- I tidied Evie's bedroom. My plan was to start at the entrance and work my way through, but E had other plans and wanted to play upstairs so I took advantage. I sorted through all of her clothes, packing away everything that was too small, and generally had a bit of a tidy up. She hasn't been sleeping in her bed following a little incident with the upstairs baby gate, so her room had become a bit of a dumping ground. Here's a before and after montage.

- Hubby ordered a new washing machine. Ours disintegrated last weekend, so I haven't been able to do any washing. Luckily a new one is coming tomorrow for me to get back on track. 

For day one it's not bad progress. And I have obviously spent even more time scouring the web for useful articles, writing lists, and actually doing some work. Tomorrow will be interesting as I'm in the shop for most of the day and have WI in the evening, so I am planning to get up early to do some sorting. See you tomorrow. 

15 days to an organised home (Ha!)

In just over 2 weeks I am going on holiday. Between now and then I am determined to get my home decluttered, organised and tidy. Plus earn a bit of holiday spending money, pack, and everything else that generally needs doing.

Why? Because I want to come back from holiday refreshed, positive and ready to move on. 

Judging by the number of blog posts I have recently read I am definitely not the only one seemingly in pursuit of a magic method to keep your house clean and tidy without actually having to clean and tidy it. The crux of it is that it just has to be done. Sadly there is no getting away from it, and the sooner I accept this and deal with it, the quicker I will have my perfect, beautiful, clean house. In theory.

So, between now and the day I go on holiday I am on a cleaning mission. I have read a number of blog series and posts - 20 or 31 days to organise your home etc - the problem is they are talking about their homes, not mine. And while it's not a million miles away I know I work differently, have different needs, rooms - so its obviously going to be difficult to fit into someone else's plan. Instead I will take the bull by the horns (so to speak) and just get on with it. I have picked up some great ideas from many of the posts I have read and will try to add my own little snippets of organising wisdom as I go along. 

Once again I plan to blog progress, and will do some before and after photos. Another thing to point out is that I will be doing this with absolutely no budget, so that I have more to spend on the things I enjoy - like holidays. :-) 

I WILL post a day 1 update later on this evening. Stay tuned......

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Great Spring Clean Challenge

I still feel a bit like I am waiting for spring, but the lighter mornings and sneaky displays of sunshine are clues it's on its way. As always this is the time of year (well, the second time of year after new year) that I decide it's time for a reorganisation, a sort out, a clean up and a de-clutter.

It's getting more difficult to find the time to do this type of stuff now with little E around the place, and I constantly wonder why I didn't get this sorted before I had her, none the less, it is necessary. And getting more so, as once THE SHOP is open I will be working full time and will not want to be spending time cleaning, but instead making memories with hubby & E.

Last weekend I started a little plan. Writing down what I want to achieve (yes, I do love my lists!) and how I was going to do it. My plan covers the house, myself & my digital stuff. Everything needs a de-clutter, a clean out, a soft out and a maintenance plan.

The house I have decided to tackle room by room and with the following steps:
  1. Tidy - just give the room a tidy up as it's all a bit all over the place, not worrying about where stuff goes, but just so the room looks ok. 
  2. De-clutter - when I am not totally distracted by the piles of stuff everywhere I can go through each drawer, cupboard, shelf, cubby and surface and chuck away or give away what we don't need or want.
  3. Organise - once I know what we are left with in each room I can then organise everything and give everything it's own home. 
  4. Clean - once everything is organised I will then give everything a good clean. 
  5. Maintain - hopefully by this point I will be used to putting stuff back when it belongs, and it will be easy as everything has its own home, plus I can work out exactly what needs cleaning and how often and I will finally have the cleaning plan I have been after for so long!
Now, I know this may not be the way everyone works and it does involve many visits to the same room. But I have my reasons. This is manageable for me. Each bit can be done in little time slots rather than trying to do it all at once, and it means I'm not worrying about it being finished or perfect, just done enough for the next job. 

The one I am least looking forward to looking at is my digital stuff. This includes all of my gadgets - phone, laptop, computer, ipad - my emails (I have at least 5 email addresses), all the accounts I have set up, subscriptions, my photos, music, documents. And to be honest I don't really know where to start. I think upgrading my phone OS and backing everything up is probably step one. Then I guess de-clutter, organise, clean and maintain...

If you have any advice or useful posts feel free to comment.

Here's my 'Time for a Spring Clean' board on Pinterest.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Meal planning, organising and prep

I've had a pretty good weekend on the 'Home Cooking' front. Having, so far, made 4 recipes from Rachel Allen's Home Cooking book, with more planned for today.

It started on Friday when I started work on Blueberry & Buttermilk Sherbet (p221). It's a mix between an ice cream & a sorbet, which when eaten does have a bit of a sherbet fizz. It was pretty straightforward to make, even without an ice cream maker. I did forget about it Friday night so I had to defrost it and go back a step, but it still worked out ok. I will be trying this again in some different flavours. Obviously raspberry springs to mind.....

Yesterday I had a great day! Hubby (after 2 consecutive stag weekends) is back on the WeightWatchers in force, so we are back to meal planning. Usually I just let him get on with it and eat what I'm given, but as the end of my 101 Things challenge is drawing so close, I really wanted to get some recipes in. I have recently read some great blog posts on menu planning and preparation, where you spend time, whenever you can, to prepare the food, whether it's chopping veg, making a part of the meal or the whole meal so it's ready to go.

It has, all of a sudden, dawned on me that when THE SHOP is open I will be working more than full time hours and that my time at home should be quality family time. So I will need to be more organised with these things. Better to start sooner rather then later, right?

So, we did half a meal plan yesterday, and I got to work on prep. We had Mild Lamb Curry (p205) for dinner last night, which made 6 portions, so we have 4 for the freezer. Then I made double quantity of Bolognese Sauce (p136), so we have 8 portions ready to go. Evie and I made Chocolate & Gingernut Biscuit Cake (p288) which we will be trying today. And I made double quantity of tomato sauce for use on pizza and Oven-ready rollies (p260).

Here it is all portioned up & ready to go!
On today's prep list is Oxtail Soup (p57), Strawberry Tart (p210), fruit salad dressing (p14) and some Oven-ready rollies (p260).

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Butternut Squash Ravioli & Cookies

Being a bit more organised did help last week, but with family visiting I didn't spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Having said that I did have a pretty productive weekend - making 4 recipes in 2 days!

I started on Saturday, making Butternut Squash Ravioli (p141). My first attempt at making pasta didn't go very well following the instructions in the book, the dough just didn't seem right - quite 'bouncy'. I used the instructions on the pasta flour packet and my trusty Kitchen Aid and it went much better.

The filling was simply butternut squash seasoned with salt, pepper and nutmeg. 

It was a long process, but all done in stages and I thought they looked pretty good! Even if I do say so myself.....

The ravioli was served with sage and pine nut butter, rocket and parmesan. The butternet squash was a bit sweet for me, but the overall dish was delicious. The sage leaves in the butter had gone very crispy which was a lovely contrast to the soft filling. I would definitely make this, but maybe with a different filling.

Then we had red wine and chorizo risotto (p148) which we had made before.

Considering the amount of time we spend in the kitchen, I am a little embarassed to say that last Saturday was the first time I actually did baking with Evie. She is usually around, but not very hands on. This time I let her do all the mixing (and tasting).

We made chocolate chip cookies based on the Coffee & Hazelnut cookies (p275), we didn't add coffee and substituted the hazelnuts for chocolate chips. The cookies were lovely, but I was hoping for more of a soft cookie than crisp biscuit. This is my favourite photo of the day! 

On Sunday, I made scrambled eggs with mushrooms and chives (p29) which again were great, and something a little different to the norm. 

I actually have the yoghurt on the go as I type - so that's one ticked off for this week already.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Living the dream (or my very own cake shop)

In June of last year at a friend's daughters christening, I had a chance conversation about how great it would be to sell cakes in my very own cake shop. Another friend's partner is a chartered surveyor and so we were joking about location and where would be best suited, and he happened to mention a little unit that had recently come on the market. No more was said, but I couldn't stop thinking about it. So I mentioned it to Helen (we had had many conversations about running a cake shop) and decided it wouldn't do any harm to take a look.

It was perfect for us, small, quaint, in a good little location, and reasonably priced. We got so excited and started doing cash flow forecasts and business plans....and it looked manageable! It looked like we COULD do it.

However on closer inspection the unit needed a lot of work doing and we really didn't have the capital for that. We were really gutted but, having done the work, excited about the prospect. So we decided we would join forces anyway and work towards a shop. The Raspberry Cakery was born! We launched officially on the 1st September 2012.

We still kept an eye on the estate agents but city centre locations were expensive and we couldn't find anything suitable. We eventually decided we would just start going to look at places and meeting agents who may be able to help and we went to see a unit at a new development in Swansea, despite being a little dubious about the location. Again we got excited, went back and revised our forecasts, and decided 'what the hell!' so we decided to put an offer in. As a new unit it didn't need the structural work the other place did and it is in an area that is being revamped and developed. After a bit of negotiation we eventually signed the lease last month.

The unit is part of the Urban Village development on High Street. Although not (yet) known as the place to be in Swansea, Mosaic - a fab restaurant that has recently opened there - has a great reputation, and we are hoping that the other units will bring some other great businesses too.

Last week myself and Helen went to see our shop for the first time since the viewing where we met with the architect, project manger, construction company and everyone else involved. It was so exciting to see our shop coming together - although still in very early stages - and we had to resist the urge on several occasions to jump up and down and squeal, while answering serious questions about electric points and toilet doors and making important decisions like what colour we want the ceiling. (Um, can you do raspberry pink?)

There is still a bit of work to do, but WE HAVE A CAKE SHOP! :-D

To think this wasn't even on the radar this time last year, to actually be planning kitchens and picking furniture is amazing. And although it has been a dream for a number of years, I guess I always thought it would be a long way off - almost an early retirement plan maybe. I think sometimes I forget I'm 31, and still feel about 17.

Home Cooking & Meal Planning

The only recipe I managed to make from Home Cooking in the last TWO weeks (!) was the white bean dip. I did make a few adjustments to try out some of the My Secret Kitchen products, which worked really well. For me, there was a touch too much mustard, but otherwise I would make it again.

The white bean dip recipe is on page 250 of Home Cooking by Rachel Allen. Here is my MSK substituted ingredients list:

400g tin of butter beans, drained
1 tsp MSK Wild Garlic Secret Spices
Juice of half a lemon
1 large tsp of Dijon mustard (still too much for me)
1 tbsp MSK oak-smoked rapeseed oil
Freshly ground MSK lemon & chipotle salt

This week is a bit difficult for meal planning as we have lots of family coming visit so we're not sure yet where we are going to be and when. So the plan is to go for meals using a lot of store cupboard ingredients and pick up veg etc when we need it. I also, clearly need to be a bit more organised in my planning, so will be setting my planned recipes against a day to encourage me to get them done!

Here is this week's list:
- Home made yoghurt (p10) Sunday
- Porridge (p11) Wednesday
- Scrambled eggs with mushrooms & chives (p29) Sunday
- Chicken & Sweetcorn soup (p60) Sunday
- Spiced chicken salad (p76) Monday
- Butternut Squash ravioli (p141) Saturday
- Red wine & chorizo risotto (p148) Saturday
- Coffee & Hazelnut cookies (p275) Saturday/Sunday

I'm starting today with a 2 course Italian themed meal for tonight, although we have made the red wine risotto before! I am planning to make some cookies with Evie too, though will substitute the coffee and hazelnut for something a bit more toddler friendly.

We've been so busy lately food has been a bit 'grab & go' - not bought ready meals (which, in light of the recent food scandal, I am very pleased to say) but frozen left overs like leek and potato soup, turkey chilli or cawl. We finally have a weekend that isn't completely booked up, so I am looking forward to spending it with my family in the kitchen.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Home Cooking update

Part of my 101 Things list is to cook all of the recipes in Rachel Allen's Home Cooking book. As the end of the 1001 days is in sight, and I still have a lot of the recipes in the book to make, I thought a bit of planning was needed to help me power through.

So, I'm going to try a weekly list of recipes completed and recipes I plan to make. I didn't make anything from the book last week, so I really need to get a wriggle on. We are also making an effort to keep food costs down and use what we have in the fridge, freezer & pantry, so I will be choosing recipes based on what we have and possibly tweaking them a bit to suit what's in stock.

Recipes planned for this week:

White bean dip (p250)
Oven -ready rollies (p260)
Turkish Delight (p304) with MSK Rose & Hibiscus Syrup

A bit of a short list as hubby has already planned our meals for this week. Better effort required next week.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Marshmallows: a new obsession

Number 38 on my 101 Things list is to cook every recipe in one book. That book is Home Cooking by Rachel Allen. It's a great book and everything I have tried has been great. One of the recipes in it is marshmallows.

Here is my first attempt. Just some plain ol' vanilla marshmallows.

Marshmallow attempt 1
I wasn't really sure what I expected, but they were much easier to make than I thought. You do need a sugar thermometer to be sure, but they were pretty straightforward.

The first batch I made were a little soft-set for what I wanted, more 'Tunnock's tea cake' than your shop bought marshmallow. I'm not sure if this is down to not using enough gelatine or not enough beating. They did taste great though!

Then I found this recipe for Coconut Ice marshmallows by Sarah Cook in the BBC Good Food magazine. And it was amazing. A touch of Malibu in the mallow and tossed in toasted coconut - delish. This recipe used leaf gelatine rather than powdered (though I have no idea if this makes a difference), and the texture was just perfect.

Coconut Ice Marshmallows
I do make a fair bit of cake, but have become quite used to not eating it when it's in the house. These marshmallows were a completely different story - I couldn't stop eating them. I only made half a batch of the coconut ones and I was a little sad when I finished them. (Really!) So I HAD to make another batch (or two) pretty soon.

So, with a bit of googling and pinning and inspiration I opted for some vanilla marshmallows coated in My Secret Kitchen Secret Vanilla Pudding Spices which I had been desperate to try and some Armaretto marshmallows coated in crumbed armaretti biscuits I was given for christmas.

Vanilla Marshmallows with MSK Secret Vanilla Pudding Spices
Armaretto Marshmallows with crushed armaretti biscuits
Here is how I made them, adapting the Coconut Ice Marshmallow recipe above. I made the full recipe and split it to make the 2 different flavours, but you can just use half the recipe if you wish.

For the Vanilla coating:
  • 40g icing sugar 
  • 40g corn flour
  • 5g (1tsp) MSK Secret Vanilla Pudding Spice
For the armaretti coating:
  • 100g crushed armaretti biscuits
For the marshmallows:
  • 10 sheets gelatine
  • 500g caster sugar
  • 4 tsp liquid glucose
  • 200ml cold water
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp Armaretto
First you need to line two 8" square tins. There are a few ways to do this, the one that worked for me was lightly brushing with vegetable oil and lining with clingfilm.

Make up your coatings and put half of the vanilla coating in one tin and half of the armaretti biscuits in the other tin. Put to one side.

Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water until ready to use.

Next put the sugar, liquid glucose and cold water into a saucepan - the smaller the pan the better, so you have a good depth of liquid to get a decent reading on your sugar thermometer. Leave over a low heat while the sugar dissolves, stirring gently, then bring it to the boil. Stop stirring and put in your sugar thermometer. Leave it to bubble until the temperature reaches the 'Firm Ball' stage. This can take about 10-15 minutes.

While the syrup is boiling whisk your egg whites until they form stiff peaks.

When the sugar syrup is ready pour gently, in a steady stream into the egg whites, beating all the time. A stand mixer (or helping hand) is very handy at this point!

Once the syrup has been added, remove the gelatine leaves from the water and squeeze out any excess water, then add one at a time to the marshmallow mix - still beating the whole time. Add the vanilla extract and leave the whole mixture to keep beating for about 10 minutes until thick and shiny.

Tip half of the mixture into the tin you put the VANILLA coating in, smooth the top with a palette knife dipped in just boiled water, then top with the remaining vanilla coating.

Add the Armaretto to the other half of the marshmallow and mix in (I put it back on the mixer for a minute or so) then tip it into the tin containing the armaretti biscuits, smooth the top as before, top with the rest of the crushed biscuits, and put both tins to one side, somewhere cool (but not the fridge) and dry, for a good few hours. Mine were set after about 2 hours.

When ready tip the marshmallows out onto a chopping board & peel away the cling film. There should be enough of the coating on the top so they won't stick and cut up. Dust your knife with a little icing sugar or corn flour if they are sticky to cut. Gently roll them in the right coating to prevent them all sticking together and store in an air tight container.

I'd love to know if you do try these out. Happy marshmallowing! 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My Secret Kitchen

If you like food & cooking and haven't heard of My Secret Kitchen yet, you really should look into it. I found out about it via Twitter and booked myself a party last year. Basically, My Secret Kitchen sells ingredients and ready mixes, but good quality, easy to use, interesting products.

Is this starting to sound like a sales post? Well, it should do because I have recently become a MSK consultant! It ties in really well with my cake baking, and the products are great, and I do like my food.... anyway, this is how it works:

You book a party and I turn up with a selection of the products to try (think of the old tupperware parties, Avon, Jamie at Home, Pampered Chef, etc etc) and then we...I mean you & your friends get to sample the food and order what you fancy. As host you get a gift or money off your order, depending on the value of orders placed.

A small display I set up at a Christmas Market

I really enjoyed when I had my party - it was something a little bit different and we had so much to taste, including some cocktails!

To get an idea of the type of products available take a look at the website and to see just how versatile the products are check out the recipe blog.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

My new kitchen chart

Tomorrow is my new start. I think starting new things on January 1st is a bit ambitious as I'm usually still trying to get back to 'normal' after the christmas break, let alone getting straight into 'better than normal'. Now I have had a week to reaclimatise myself (sort of) with what I would usually be doing before trying to develop some brand new habits.

Having said that, there are a few tweaks I have been making to my regular routine (ha!) that I am hoping to build on. Having spent the last 10 years trying to better myself, and often taking the 'all-in-one' approach I have decided this clearly doesn't work for me. So this time I am trying something new. This time I am taking baby steps and not getting fed up when it doesn't work.

The things I have been working on this week are:

1. Getting out of bed earlier - this has been a complete failure to be perfectly honest! Evie has been going to bed late and not getting up until 9am, so I have been taking advantage of the lie-in. Tomorrow I have to be in work by 8:45am, so am planning to get up by 6:30 for a cuppa and some extra time.

2. Drinking more water - this has been going a bit better, but it does usually take me until about 11 to actually pour myself a glass, after my second cup of tea. What has helped me here is buying two 500ml bottles and making sure I always have one with me. I still don't drink anywhere near the recommended quantity, but it's a start.

3. My cleaning schedule - as I said, this is all about baby steps, and most of this week has been spent getting the house de-christmassed and catching up on washing and cleaning that was missed. I have also spent some time thinking about what I want out of a cleaning plan (yes, I know) and how I can get it to work around all the other things I want and need to do. I am a huge fan of lists and am a very visual person. If I don't see something I can very easily forget. So I devised my very own Kitchen Chart.

It's based on a number of charts I have seen on the internet, but with sections that I need. I printed it out on an A3 sheet of paper, framed it and hubby hung it on the wall. This meant I could write on the glass with a dry-wipe pen then rub it off the next day. It was working so well...but after a particularly vigourous ticking off sessions it fell off the wall and the glass smashed. So I need to get a new frame.

Even in the short time I was using it I found a few things that needed adjusting, like the space to write down meals, and sometimes hubby and I will have different food. And the week starts on a Sunday. I do also want to add in some weekly tasks. However, when I have sorted it out I will provide it as a printable. It is currently set as a Microsoft Publisher file, but I am happy to send it via email if you are interested. 

Wish me luck for tomorrow. Tomorrow's new 'thing' will be getting up & fitting in some exercise....

Tuesday, January 01, 2013


Happy New Year!

As usual, here is my 'I will get back to blogging THIS year' post.

I am so excited by 2013 already, it really does have the potential to make one of my dreams come true and - while this does scare the crap out of me a little bit - I am so excited! I can't wait to tell you more about it, but really don't want to jinx it for the time being, so you'll have to bear with me for a little bit.

I have made some new years resolutions - pretty much the same ones I make every year, though they feel different this year. More positive. Just in case you are interested, here they are:

1. I will set up & stick to a cleaning schedule.
This is a long time coming and a real bug bear of mine. I've tried several methods and plans and now feel like I have bits from each that I could work with. The big change I hope to make here is not to give up totally if I miss one day but just to carry on.

2. I will plan to spend time doing things with Evie.
I have been a bit guilty of getting on with stuff in the house while Evie plays in the background and I want to start spending time going places and doing instead. I have already booked her in for Tiny Toes ballet lessons.

3. I need to focus more on work.
I don't feel like I have given anything enough attention over the last 12 months. My family, my house, web design and cakes. They've all just been fitted in when and where I can and I haven't given any of it the attention they deserve. Getting into a proper routine and planning to spend time on each item without trying to do too many things at once will hopefully make me a bit happier & more productive.

The three items are very much linked, and I have today started planning out a routine, but without trying to do everything at once as that way I am sure to fall at the first hurdle.

Well, EG is awake now, so we're going to have some food and go out for a little walk. Here's to a fab 2013!