Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Cleaning schedules

 This year I have been working on several cleaning routines and adapting them to make them work for me. I have pretty much got the daily and weekly routines sorted. I don’t rigidly stick to doing certain things on certain days as work and WI commitments make that impossible. Instead it is a case of getting it done in the week. Some weeks I can spread the jobs over several evenings and other weeks they are done all in one go at the weekend.

I am struggling to keep up with the zone cleans due to this  lack of routine. I do find that if the jobs are spread over the week then doing the zone clean is easy at the weekend.

 I have also set up cleaning schedules for those things that need cleaning less frequently and also one for before I go on holiday. This came from Alison at Brocantehome and I love reading her e-books and web site because she is not obsessed with having a perfectly clean sterile home but on making the home comfortable and welcoming.

I admit that I do not stick rigidly to this but at least it gives me a fighting chance of not needing a visit from Kim and Aggie.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Menu Plan (17th October 2016)

The last week of term has arrived. I cannot believe how quickly it has gone. The weather has definitely become a lot more Autumnal and my thoughts are turning to warm, comfort food especially after a day at work with no heating in the office Brrr.  There is only 5 meals as Craig is taking the kids to my Mum's caravan for the half term and I will only be with them for the weekend as I could not take time off work.

So the meals for this week then are
Sausage Casserole done in the slow cooker
Spaghetti Bolognese
Gammon, Egg and Chips (Slimming World friendly)
Beef Stir Fry

Linking up with Organising Junkie.

Hope everybody has a good week and is enjoying the change of season.


Saturday, 15 October 2016

Trying to find planner peace

Planner peace is something that I have heard a lot of bloggers and vloggers comment on and whether or not they have found it. I don’t think that anyone can find ultimate planner peace and use the same system for years on end without refining it. I have watched a number of Youtube channels where there is a video titled ‘Planner Peace’ and then a few months later there is a video uploaded for a completely different system.

I have yet to find planner peace as my requirements have changed over the years and the more I have looked into planners the more systems I have tried, some have lasted longer than others but I have yet to find the ‘Utopia’ that Planners aim for.

My current system is a cross between an ring bound system and a bullet journal and is in two ‘books’. I like the idea between a bullet journal but I don’t fancy have to transfer my ‘collections’ to a new book every time the journal was filled. This is where the ring bound system has proven useful.

My planner is from Paperchase. It did have ‘Make it Happen today’ printed on the front but it started to rub off quite early after purchasing it so I just rubbed the rest of it off so that it looked better.

I have different tabs as any ring bound system does. I didn’t like the tabs that came with it as they were to dull so I made my own using scrapbook paper laminated to strengthen it.

My first tab is a diary where I keep my appointments, events, when I am out of the office and  when things are due. I suppose this would be the future planning in a traditional bullet journal. I am using the diary that came with the planner.
I have only got to the end of the year in as it was originally an academic year but I prefer January to December so I will be purchasing a new diary insert soon.

The next tab is the weekly plan. Again this is a filofax insert and is the daily planner. On this I put things that I need to do this week as a general list. On the back there is a notes section on which I put my meal plan on along with any other general notes I may need.

My daily to do list is in a separate notebook which also contains my brain dump which are just random notes and thoughts that I just need to get out of my head so I can focus on other things.
I tend to write this first thing in the morning as it depends on how I am feeling and what I have got on that day as to what I intend to achieve. This works better than planning out the whole week as I am more likely to do what is on the list. I am going to spend more time and make it look a bit prettier (damn you Pinterest).

The next tab in my planner is my running to-do list which is for non-date specific things that need to be done. I have a separate list for my craft projects which I am trying not to add to until I have got some of the projects which are already on there completed.

A list of birthdays and anniversaries make up the next section in the planner. Having this section means that I don’t have to remember to transfer them all across to a new diary every year.

My ‘Life’ Section contains my monthly goals and ways I am trying to simplify my life. I will also put in things that other people have done to simplify their lives and maybe try to incorporate their ideas.

The List section is my equivalent of the collections in a Bullet Journal. I have currently got school holidays, writing challenge, photo challenge,  where I am up to with box sets and my wish list which is a list of things I want to buy.

The final section is notes which is just everything else.

I don’t know how long I will stay with this format, but it is currently working for me and seems to offer the most flexibility.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Update on September Goals and Setting October Goals

September was a busy month and unfortunately I was not able to achieve all of my goals.

1. Reach target weight
            September has the most birthdays of any month and this meant lots of cakes and meals so I only maintained this month.

2. Finish decorating kids rooms
             My brother in law, the decorator was extremely busy so unfortunately he hasn't been able to fit them in. He has promised they will be done by Christmas.

3. Get roof done
              The scaffolding was up for nearly 2 weeks before the roofers were able to get done but it is done and dusted Yay!!

4. Work towards Gold body magic
              Only managed to get to the gym twice in the whole month and to achieve the gold award then you need to do 5 x 30 minutes sessions a week for 8 weeks so definitely a non achievable target.

5. Read 2 Agatha Raisin books
            Really enjoying this series but only just managed to do this as so busy.

6. Organise craft supplies
             I took a couple of days off around my birthday and spent one of these organising my craft supplies into 1 place. Hopefully this will encourage me to get more crafts finished as they are all in one place and near a table to work on.

Goals for October

1. Finish Victorian cross stitch sampler
2. Read 2 books
3. Make Christmas Cake
4. Finish making vintage style apron
5. Save an extra £100
6. Reach target weight
7. Devise and stick to cleaning routine.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Menu Plan (10th October 2016)

Hi Everyone,

I didn't do a menu plan last week as I was working away for most of the week and Craig would not have stuck to it anyway. I do get a little worried about what and when they are eating when I am away as the first words out of their mouths on my return was not 'Mum, we missed you' but 'Mum, what's for dinner?' and this was at 6.30pm. We have normally eaten by this time when I am home.

Craig is out every night except Wednesday so meals are child and Slimming World friendly as I am determined to get to goal long before Christmas. I haven't lost any weight since I got by Club 10 award in July and I only had 4 1/2lbs to go. This happened when I was at Weight watchers where I lost a stone in 17 weeks then it took over a year to lose the last 1/2 stone. I am determined to make sure that doesn't happen this time. If anyone has any tips on how to get over a plateau in weight loss then please let me know.

The meals for this week are
Monday - Homemade pot noodle (so Syn free as just dried noodles, chicken, chicken stock, sweetcorn and peppers)
Tuesday - Pasta and homemade meatballs and tomato sauce
Wednesday - Slow cooker Chicken curry and boiled rice
Thursday - SW sausages, mash and peas
Friday - Steak and Salad
Saturday - SW Singapore Noodles (homemade not the ready meal) Recipe here
Sunday - Chicken in a Mushroom Sauce.

Linking up to Organising Junkie as usual.

Hope you all have a good week. Thankfully mine is a lot quieter and I am looking forward to having more time to cook.


Sunday, 9 October 2016

What I have been doing in September

September has been quite a busy month for me but it has all been good.

As a back to school treat I went to Manchester and took Emma and Matthew to Richmonds Tea Rooms. It is somewhere I have been wanting to go to for a while and I knew Emma would like it because of the Alice in Wonderland themed decor. The food was also really good. We didn’t go for the afternoon tea, instead Emma had a chicken sandwich, Matthew had pancakes with Maple syrup and bacon and I had Eggs Royale. I do want to go back and take Craig. He doesn’t do afternoon tea because he does not do cakes but I think the Gentleman’s afternoon tea will appeal.  The toilets were a source of amusement as they were unisex toilets so we were laughing when people went in and came out straight away to check the sign if they saw somebody of the opposite sex in there.

Obviously the 5th was back to school for Matthew who is going into Year 6 as Head Boy. So proud!

The first Masquerade Ball of the month happened on the 9th. It was a charity fundraiser for St Rocco’s Hospice in Warrington. It was a very enjoyable evening and I came away with a cake slice and cake stand on the raffle and a make-over consultation from the silent auction (which I never expected to win).

It was an early start the next day as I was going to the Stitching and Hobbycraft show at Event City. I went with the intention of buying Christmas crafts and because I had to take Matthew to a party that afternoon I knew I couldn’t linger. I am looking forward to starting these.

My haul from the show

September is a busy month for birthdays, It starts mine, on the 18th is my sister in law to be, then Matthews, my Mums and my nieces. Also Emma’s boyfriend was 18 as well as one of her ‘adopted’ sisters and my friends daughter.

It was a bit nerve wracking on the 18th as I was doing an abseil down the Bell Tower at Barton Square which is part of the Trafford Centre. I was doing it with a group of work colleagues for Macmillan. It was something I was looking forward to doing EXCEPT when you have to climb over the edge of the ledge and put your feet onto a wooden block BEFORE they fasten you on. I gripped the ropes attaching the blocks for dear life until I was secure. After that I loved it and wanted to do it again.

The 24th was another fully packed day. I had a trip to Skipton with the ladies from my WI. I have never been to Skipton and was looking forward to the visit. There were some really quaint shops and I bought my first Christmas present from there. The market was on so it was very busy and as there was a group of us we didn’t get to see as much as we would have liked as the coach was picking the ladies up to take them to Grassington for afternoon tea.

 Unfortunately I had to miss that part as I needed to get back for the second Masquerade ball. This one was being held by Craig’s lodge as a fundraiser for the Masonic charities. It was another enjoyable evening and I am looking forward to the 3rd in December.

Oh we also have booked the holiday for next year. Because there is a group it took 5 hours to sort out and involved a trip to the Trafford Centre on a Sunday afternoon which for me is normally to be avoided like the plague.

I have to admit I am looking forward to a quieter October before everything starts gearing up for Christmas.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Menu Plan (26th September 2016)

Apologies for a lack of a menu plan for last week as I didn't plan one.  There were too many things that may or may not have happened so it was a case of decide on the day. Back to normal this week, if a little late. I am going to stick to not planning specific days as that seemed to work better.

Definitely back on track with Slimming World now as I want to get to target so I don't have to pay any more and use that money towards the holiday for next year which we have now booked (yippee!!)

So the meals for this week are

Meatballs and Mash potato
Homemade Slimming World burgers and Chips
Turkey steak wraps
Slimming World KFC Fakeaway 
Fish Pie
Sunday Lunch with Roast Beef.

Have a good week.


Monday, 12 September 2016

Menu Plan (12th September 2016)

Last week was the best week for a while with regards to sticking to what was planned meal wise but I did swap a few nights round. There were some nights where I just didn't fancy what was planned for that night and a couple of nights last minute things cropped up. I think I prefer planning the meals, but not saying which night as I didn't feel as frustrated as I have done in the past. The food was eaten so does it really matter when.

So going forward I am just going to list the meals and not the days. 

Lamb steaks, cous cous and spinach

Gammon. Slimming World chips and Egg
Spaghetti Bolognese and garlic bread ( courgetti bolognese for me)
Homemade pizza
Homemade pot noodle (Slimming world frozen meal for meal)
Jacket potato (with chosen toppings) and salad
Steak and Sweet potato fries.

Linking up with Organising Junkie to get inspiration for the future.

Have a good week.


Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Trying to save money

We are looking to book a holiday abroad next year, our first since 2013. Unfortunately since then, our outgoings seem to have increased so we need to look at how we can save some money. All our bills are paid via direct debit so those are covered.  We have looked at these and cancelled any which are no longer essential. We have also reduced our TV/phone/broadband package as we do not really watch that much TV, so that is a saving of about £35 per month on those outgoings.

We shopped around last year when our insurance was due. We changed our home insurance and we saved about £30 a month. I don’t think we would be able to save much this year. We do regular checks on our utilities and we really can’t save much more on those.

One of the biggest areas we can save money on is on food. Although we would not qualify for ‘Eat well for Less’ we can still make savings. Craig is terrible in the supermarket. I ask him to call in and pick up 3 things and he comes back with 3 bags full. He is a sucker for special offers and not all of those get used and end up being wasted. I need to keep him out of the supermarket and that would surely save us money. The other way is to do the ‘click and collect’ option where you order online and then just pick it up from the supermarket. My nearest supermarket is less than a mile away so it makes no sense to pay for delivery. Doing the menu plan helps me with the list but if I go I do tend to pick up extras as well which I don’t do when ordering online.

I must also be more organised with the actual meals themselves and remember to pull the meat out of the freezer to give it time to defrost. This wasn’t to bad when we had a microwave oven because I could just use the defrost option, but since we have no longer got a microwave I have to be better at remembering, especially seeing as though I  do not tend to have alternatives that can be cooked from frozen. Perhaps it might be worth investing in a microwave rather than falling back on take-aways which would be cheaper in the long run. I know the kids would be happy if we had a microwave.

One thing I also do a lot is impulse buy. I read somewhere that if you see something you want then you should wait 72 hours before buying it. There is a good chance then that you either forget about it or decide that you don’t really want it. I think this is something I need to implement to save us money. An example of this being successful is when I decided I could do with a new camera. I wanted one because I could not find the cable that connects the camera to the computer and a bit of plastic at the bottom of the camera had split and kept getting caught on things.  I had an idea of which one I wanted but decided to wait. During that time I analysed how I use my current camera, I found the cable and glued the plastic back down. As you may guess, I decided I didn’t need a new camera.

I have heard a lot about the Kon Marie method of decluttering and organising and I like the idea of sorting by category and putting everything together. This should help me save money as I know that I  have ended up with duplicates due to my disorganisation. It might also help me with my stationery addiction once I see just how much I have got.

Before I go and buy any new clothes for winter I am going to analyse what is in my wardrobe and look as to whether I actually need anything. I know I will need some jeans and a couple of jumpers to replace ones which are now to big due to losing weight, but in winter I do not seem to be as bothered about clothes as I am in summer. I am quite happy to live in jeans and jumpers at the weekend and trousers and jumpers for work. I know I don’t need a new coat or boots this year. I am also going to look at all my formal dresses and wear those rather than buy new. I am not going to be the principal Lady this year so the attention is not going to be on me so I can get away with it.

I am not one of those people who would do a car boot sale to get rid of the stuff (been there, done that, hated it) but I do know somebody who could sell the things for me on Ebay and on a car boot. I won’t go along so that I can’t change my mind ( or buy anything).  Anything that doesn’t get sold will then be donated.

To ensure that we put the money away, whatever is left at the end of the month, be it £2 or £200 I will transfer the money into the savings account so that it doesn’t get spent in the next month. I also read that if you decide not to buy something to put that money away as well. I think I will have to see on that particular option but on the months where we do not pay council tax,  that will be put away as will the money we will not have to pay during the holidays for breakfast and after school club.

I will keep you posted about how it is going each month.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Menu Plan (5th September 2016)

Matthew has gone back to school today (Hooray!!) and Emma is back on Thursday, so things should be settling back into a normal routine, including meals. The Masonic season is starting again however, which means that Craig is going to be out more often. 

This week we have a Masquerade Ball on Friday so the kids have chosen the meal for that night. I have no idea what Craig and I will be eating but I am going to have to stick rigidly to the Slimming World plan for the week as I have weigh in at 8.00am on Saturday morning and after a 5 course meal there is definitely going to be an issue on the scales.

Monday - Steak and Prawn Stir fry
Tuesday - Sausage and Mash (Slimming world sausage for me with broccoli and a little mash)
Wednesday - Spaghetti and Homemade meatballs
Thursday - Cottage pie with Sweet potato Mash
Friday- Burgers and fries
Saturday - Mushroom Risotto
Sunday - Beef in Red wine and Shallot sauce with potatoes and Veg.

Linking up to Organising Junkie to get inspiration for the future.

Have a good week.


Friday, 2 September 2016

Goals for September

During July and August I decided to set some goals to achieve during the month with regards to various areas of my life that I want to work on.

I have found this easier then just setting a big resolution as although the monthly goals are all part of the main resolutions they are broken down into smaller, time constrained and achievable targets which is the foundation of any objectives that people set.

I have decided that this month I am going to share them and at the end update you on how things have gone.

In September I want to
  • Finish decorating the kids rooms
  • Achieve my target weight at Slimming World (only have 3 1/2 pounds to go)
  • Work towards my Gold Body Magic award
  • Read 2 Agatha Raisin books
  • Get back into a proper meal routine by meal planning Lunch and dinner
  • Complete one craft project.
Do you have monthly goals? I would love to hear what they are.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Visit to the Black Country Living Museum

Over the Bank Holiday weekend Craig, Matthew and I visited the Black Country Living Museum near Birmingham. It is a place I have wanted to go to for a while as I love finding out how people used to live. I like the fact that there was a proper community spirit with people knowing everybody around them. I don't even know 1/2 of the people who live on my street.

Although I wouldn't have wanted to live in those times I think in some ways they may have been simpler as there were less distractions and definitely less choice in everything. I sometimes wish we had less choice nowadays and that we weren't constantly bombarded with advertising, news, TV programmes that are a 'must watch' and food.

Life in the concrete house depicting life during World War 2.

I am glad we no longer have to black lead these.

 No supermarkets back then.

Getting a bit more modern in the kitchen with an electric oven

Built in shopping list and inventory Genius idea!

Girls being told off at school for wearing nail polish

Beautiful needlework

I hope to pay another visit to the museum nearer Christmas and the beauty is that the admission price you pay the first time you visit means that you are then able to make as many visits as you want within a year without paying again. If I lived closer then I would probably be there at least once a month.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Menu Plan (29th August 2016)

Wow, it'[s Tuesday already. The Bank Holiday really threw me for which day of the week it is . Anyway better late than never with this weeks menu plan. I am not holding out much hope to sticking to this as we didn't really last week due to all too common last minute change of plans by the other members of the family.

Monday - ended up having Chinese take away.
Tuesday - only me eating so Slimming World Ready meal that I keep for days such as this.
Wednesday - Tacos
Thursday- Steak and Chips
Friday- Tex Mex Omelette Wrap
Saturday - Slimming World Bacon Double Cheeseburger
Sunday - Sweet Potato Curry and Rice.

I know it isn't the most exciting menu plan but Craig and Emma are out Tuesday and all weekend and most days Matthew will have eaten at his Aunties.

Roll on next week when they are back in school and college and things can get back to normal.

Linking up with Organising Junkie to see what everyone else is cooking and to get inspiration for next week.

Have a good week.


Friday, 26 August 2016

Box Sets- Heaven or Hell

Box sets are a great invention but also the worst thing ever. Box sets allow you to watch series that you may have missed or re-watch old series that are no longer on TV. But they also encourage binge watching as you know that you don’t have to wait a week to find out what happens next. This can be really useful if you have a busy life as most of us do and a lot of people now watch TV this way. Craig and the kids have got into this way of watching so much that we have downgraded our TV package and upgraded our broadband.

I have recently fallen under the spell of box sets as I discovered Nashville. There are only 4 seasons with 22 episodes in each and after 2 weeks I am already on episode 4 of Season 2. I have to say Deacon reminds me of Hugh Jackman but a better singer.

Last night was a prime example of how you can get sucked into the ‘box set binge watch’. I had intended on doing some sewing on my machine and clean my bathroom. I made the mistake of thinking that I would just watch one episode after finishing dinner. Instead 4  hours later I was still sat in front of the TV and had watched 4 episodes. The dishes hadn’t been loaded into the dishwasher, I hadn’t got my sewing machine out and although the bathroom had been cleaned it only happened because I had to walk one of Matthew’s friends home and made the decision when I got back that the bathroom had to be done. At 10.30pm I was posting photos on the WI page that I am responsible for that really should have gone up a lot earlier.

I think that when you are watching a box set there should be an automatic shut off after 2 episodes so that you then don't feel guilty about sitting in front of the TV when you should really be doing something more productive.

What do you think about box sets?

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Our Week In Whitby

We spent a week in Whitby with Craig’s family last week for our holiday. We have all been to Whitby before and it is a place I enjoy going to. We booked into a cottage which turned out to be a 3 bedroom Victorian terrace house which was not what I was expecting as when I think of a cottage I think of one of the little fishermen cottages that are tucked away up little passages which we have stayed in before. We had the terrace as Craig’s brother was with us and because of the stroke he had nearly 2 years ago he would not have been able to manage the stairs. The house the others were in had a downstairs bedroom and bathroom which was a lot more suitable for him.

Whitby is a good place to explore with lots of things to do whether you are interested in history, with the Abbey, and interest in Vampires and Dracula, Walking (lots of walking and hills) or just good old seaside fun there is something to appeal to every one of every age.

Whitby Abbey
Craig, Emma, Matthew and my nieces Tara and Libby

We were quite lucky with the weather as although it was breezy it stayed dry most of the time which for me is fine as I am not a fan of heat. I am also not really a fan of sand and sea but I don’t mind it over here. My least favourite holidays have been beach based holidays abroad. I would much rather be seeing the sights and doing things instead of lying on the beach doing nothing.

It was my niece’s birthday whilst we were there and it was her choice of what everyone should do that day. She decided to start off doing some painting of pottery at Doodlepots. All the kids painted something and I decided to join in as well rather than just sit there for a couple of hours so I painted a jug to go with the sugar bowl and milk jug I had done last time.

After that was a boat trip which I avoided as I get sea sick on a pedalo so I waited with the scooter we had hired for Jason (Craig’s brother). Luckily it was only 20 minutes long

We then tried to go into a diner for dinner but unfortunately is was rather busy and they weren’t able to accommodate such a large group in one go (there was 11 of us). We had to take a picture because of the name and Emma does want to own a cafe or diner one day.

Although there is plenty to do in Whitby we decided to spread our wings and see some other places. Craig’s Mum is a fan of Heartbeat so we went to Goathland which is where Heartbeat was filmed. Whilst her and her husband explored Craig, Emma and I followed the trail to Mallyan Spout and Beck Hole
The In-Laws in Goathland

Hedwig's alive and Emma managed to hold him

Mallyan Spout

We also chose the best day to go to Scarborough and Matthew went in the sea, something he hasn’t been able to do to much before as the weather has either been too cold or we haven’t been near a beach since he has a toddler.
Scarborough Harbour with the castle on top of the hill

On the last day we did the Curse of the Whitby Vampire trail which is like a treasure hunt where you walk around solving clues. These can be downloaded from  There are several available for Whitby but we chose this one because the kids like vampires.  The trail is a good way of exploring  and  is ideal if you have never been somewhere  before as they take in a few of the main attractions. Some of the clues are quite easy to solve, some a bit harder, especially those where you have to find information of plaques as a few have become faded and difficult to read.  At the end you can go online, enter your answer and unique code. If you are correct you can download a certificate and get the chance to be entered into a monthly draw to win £100.

You end up at the church at the top of the 199 steps for the final two clues. One of the things Jason had wanted to do was to go up the 199 steps by himself. Obviously everyone was a bit concerned about this but he was determined and to his credit he achieved it. Everyone was so proud and hopefully it will give Jason a boost as he has had rather a bumpy journey emotionally as well as physically since the stroke. He has no movement in his left arm and although he can walk he is unable to walk long distances and on uneven ground.

We had a really good time in Whitby and we hope to be able to visit again in a couple of years time. It is a great place for families and there is certainly plenty to do for everyone.