Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Time to get a job?

I am meddling. Volunteering, and meddling. I just can't help myself. I am going to be a complete nightmare by the time I reach 50! Actually, I'll be annoying by 40. Oops,  but now I've admitted I'm the good side of 40, half my audience hates me. Sorry ladies. My time will come.

Some might say I have too much time on my hands, but no, that's not possible. I have a 2 year old, and a 9 month old, all day, every day. There are not enough days in the week, hours in the day, minutes.... you get the idea! So why oh why am I volunteering to fund raise for Weybridge Hall, have I started a book club, and now I am starting a Britain in Bloom community group to renovate a weedy patch of land near my house???!!!!

My husband would give his standard comic reply of 'you need a good shag'. Why is that men's most popular answer to what ails us women?

Maybe its' the hormones. Round about this time, when I was emerging from the post baby, post breastfeeding, post night-time wake-ups with my daughter I got pregnant with my son. Which certainly quietened me down for a few months and helped rein in the neurotic 'must do something' phsyce. I guess my husband suggested the good shag solution then as well?? How funny. 

Maybe I'll just read a good book (something I need to do anyhow....given the book club I started).

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Potty humour

In the name of budgeting I read the following article on Martin's moneysaving website. "how to minimise loo paper use".

Here's some tips of how not to spend (more than) a penny from Martin's Moneysaving Website savvy readers....

  • Go for the deals in the supermarket - compare prices per 100 sheets.
  • Generally take one sheet at a time and make maximum use of it within the realms of decency and hygiene.
  • Certainly don't go for the shiny tracing paper as there is absolutely no absorbency there!
  • When you put a new roll on,' flatten' it slightly. This makes it harder for wasteful children to pull off several sheets at a time!
  • My favourite! Regulate your bowels so you go during working hours as much as is possible!  
  • The phsycological approach - This is a bot bizarre. We have two rolls on the wall holder next to each other. We tend to use less because it is so noticeable against the other roll if you pull a lot off in one go. 
  • WARNING! This one will make you groan out loud - Before the actual event, smear your rectum with petroleum jelly, it smoothes the flow and makes the clean-up easier and fewer sheets are required.  

Sunday, 22 July 2012

OMG - Nigella's Chocolate Brownies TO DIE FOR!

They are just completely and utterly chocolately, orgasmically, wonderful brownies.

Since I purchased my very chic glass cake stand and cover (from Aldi - what a bargain!!) - I have raised my baking game. This week Nigella's Moist Apple Cake and Snow Flecked Brownies entered my repertoire. And, like all Nigella's cakes, they are absolutely delicious. I don't know what it is, but without fail whenever I cook Nigella's cakes they turn out brilliantly. I have praised my oven and her recipes, but I'm beginning to think I'm just a darn good cake chef!! Which means my bad ass is only going to get bigger and badder.

So for those of you keen bakers, here's the recipe, let me know how you get on. Off to have some lunch so I can have dessert afterwards!

375 g soft unsalted butter 
375 g best quality dark chocolate 
 6 large eggs 
1 tablespoon vanilla extract 
500 g caster sugar 
225 g plain flour 
1 teaspoon salt 
Directions: 1 Preheat the oven to 180°C. 2 Line your approximatley 33 x 23 x 5 1/2cm brownie pan with foil or baking paper. 
Melt the butter and chocolate together in a large heavy based saucepan. In a bowl beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla. Measure the flour into another bowl and add the salt. When the chocolate mixture has melted, let it cool a bit before beating in the eggs and sugar mixture, and then fold in the flour. Beat to combine and then scrape out of the saucepan into the lined brownie pan. Bake for about 25 minutes. When its's ready, the top should be dried to a paler brown speckle, but the middle still dark and dense and gooey.  Keep checking the brownies as they cook; remember that they will continue to cook as they cool.
I actually cooked mine for 35 minutes as my pan was a little smaller, so the brownies were deeper. Goooofest!!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Feed a family good grub - cheap!

Weekly meal planning, week deux...

Last weeks meal planning was a mixed success. Unfortunately one can't plan for bicycle punctures and errant husbands, so I had a bit of a backlog of some of the meals. However, me and J did our best to polish off the spare grub for lunches. Not sure if food planning, budgeting and dieting are all possible at once! At some point some thing's gotta give and I think its going to be my elasticated waistband.

Anyhow, upwards and onwards. This weeks meal plan is as follows:

Monday ~ Salmon nicoise  - I am ignoring the pissy weather and pretending its a warm summers day
Tuesday ~ Pot roasted pork chops with celery and tomato, spinach and potatoes gratin
Wednesday ~ Spaghetti Bolognese and green beans
Thursday ~ Asian roast chicken, fried veggie rice
Friday ~ Jacket potatoes chilli con carne filling, sour cream and salad

For those of you who missed my earlier post on meal planning - I am trying to...

1. Be more organised; with a toddler and newborn this is a necessity rather than a nice to be!
2. Budget (save money for our new kitchen) and
3. waste less food

I've also started analysing where I shop (I am really rather anal it seems). Anyhooooo, I've started doing monthly shop of non-perishables (nappies, more nappies and baby wipes!) from Asda.  Veggies and meat from our local farm shop.  And top up shops from waitrose or ocado (for whom I have a 10% discount card).

Compare the cost of what's in your shopping basket

Mysupermarket, an online shopping tool, helped me find the best place to purchase the non-perishables from. You load up your shopping list and it checks all the online supermarkets for you.

Waste not - Want not. Good quality veggies and meat.

For the veggies and meat - I prefer to buy high quality local grub from Lyne Farm Shop (near St Peter's Hospital) than the supermarket - even though it is more expensive. It generally lasts longer as its fresher and the meal planning means I (mainly) only buy what I need. A cheaper option is the Pick Your Own at Garsons in Esher. But the pissy weather has made that a less attractive option of late.

Finally, I have to do top-up shops every few days for bread and milk etc (as I don't yet possess a chest freezer - that's next on the list!) and at least the 10% discount card means I get some cash off. Not sure how I managed to qualify for that one, but perhaps contacting Waitrose customer service and asking for one in exchange for a blog review will work? Give it a try!

If you have any tips on food planning, budgeting and getting value for money for your weekly/monthly shop please share it below :)

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Express Yourself - Udderly Exhausting!

I think if all else fails I'll get a job coming up with cheesy titles for a tabloid!

Four days ahead of my face painting bonanza (Black Cherry Fair) where I will be sans enfants, and I have some serious boob pumping to do. Managed to get a grand total of 60ml this morning - which for those of you in the know isn't much. If hubby is going to survive Saturday with my little guzzling 8 week old I'm going to have to do better than that, sigh.

Hiring or Buying a Breast Pump?

Ameda Lactaline Electric Dual Breast Pump
FYI, for those mums interested in getting hold of a hospital grade pump (which means quick and easy to use electric pump) I'd recommend enquiring at your local children's centre. Not all of them run a hire scheme, but for those that do its a darn sight cheaper than hiring from NCT, La Leche or hospitals. I paid £15 for mine, a Lactaline Dual Pump and thats' for 3 months. Last time round when I reached 3 months they let me hang on to the pump for another 3 as no-one else had asked for it. Its a bargain ladies, and no messing about with these silly hand held things. Given the pump I hired (Lactaline) costs close to £200 new, it is a serious cost-saving hiring from the children's centre. Plus all the bits that go on your boobs or touch the milk are brand new each time, so there isn't anything unhygienic about hiring as opposed to getting a new one.

Support Your Local Children's Centre

AND, if you do hire from your children's centre they will get funding brownie points from central government as they can demonstrate they have helped increase breastfeeding in their area. So you'll be supporting your local centre, which if it is anything like mine in Weybridge, is a VERY good thing to do. I love the ladies at our centre - they are fab.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Weybridge Wifey's Meal Plan

In attempt to save some pennies for my super duper new kitchen, and just because I've always fancied acquiring this particular skill, I'm giving weekly meal planning a go....

So this week's culinary delights include...
Monday - Beef casserole, cabbage and new potatoes
Tuesday - Fish cakes and salad
Wednesday - Chicken & Veggie fajitas
Thursday - Homemade Lamb mince pie
Friday - Mumma's night off - Pizza and beer

Lunch and breakfast - help yourself its in the cupboard!

Little people are eating a derivative of the above, with slightly less spice and alcohol. Its' Monday evening now and all has gone well so far (early days though). Albeit toddler decided she was all done after 3 mouthfuls of my casserole and favoured a tub of Ambrosia rice pudding. Hmm. I shall report back at the end of the week and let you know how the rest fared. Will I stick to my game plan or fall off the meal plan wagon??!!.... Visit my blog next week to see what happens in this exciting new venture! AND, if you do weekly meal planning (please) share your suggested menus below.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Fresh, Cheap & Fruity - Pick Your Own at Garsons

Garson's pick your own farm, esher, surrey
A top up feed for the wee man, clean nappies and off we went to the Pick Your Own at Garsons, Esher. Our idyllic family activity this Sunday.

I had a mother earth moment when I considered putting Adam in our baby sling whilst I picked fresh produce, but thought that might come across a little pretentious. Instead I went out in probably the most inappropriate top I have for picking vegetables, especially since I am breastfeeding and currently boasting a size G cleavage you could happily nest a family of birds into! I then partnered my inappropriate top with a tight fitting skirt and my flowery wellies. It turned out to be an excellent choice as my feet stayed dry and my husband was extremely attentive all afternoon!

Juliet loved the strawberry picking and as soon as she had mastered the plucking technique, hoovered a good quantity of freebies. Her red stained shirt was a bit of a giveaway when we reached the pay station, but luckily her adorable blond curls and big blue eyes got her out of trouble. I wonder how many times that's going to happen in the future?!

Adam was Mr Chilled in his maxi cosi, and after a quick feed in the front seat of the car, he settled down for a snooze whilst his family harvested the weekly greens.

In addition to the food being wonderfully fresh, tasty and healthy - it was half the price of supermarket equivalents. And we all had a really nice time outdoors in the fresh air. Pick your own @ Garsons gets the thumbs up from the Friedlanders.