Monday, 25 November 2013

Meal Planning Monday - I'm Pinching Your Meal Plan!!

I've been reading all your lovely meal plans and I think it's about time I tried some of your recipes (hint, hint barenakedmummy re nutella muffins!!)
Potato Cakes, Beans and Sausage
Fish Fingers, Chips and Mushy Peas (yes possibly from the chippy!)
Steak in Brandy and Peppercorn Sauce
Slow Cooker Sunday Chinese Beef and Greens from Mediocre Mum's Blog

If it wasn't for Mrs M's Meal Planning Monday Movement I seriously would be eating rubbish all week, so thanks and please do take a look at everyone elses delicious ideas.
Oh...!  And thanks to all those who have been leaving comments for me, I have been trying to reply but Disqus just isn't working, so when I get a mo, I will be sorting/working it out

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Organising The Home errr Organising

So, I mentioned last week in this post that I am trying to get obsessive about cleaning. 
Not WORK organisation!! HOME organisation!!
Well I seem to have become obsessed with organising, so I'm sure this is the first step and the cleaning obsession will follow.
This really has come from the sheer frustration of not being able to find things and from not knowing when appointments are. 
Breaking it down
So, being the top organiser I now am, I have split the house into two rooms to clean per day
1. Porch, downstairs bathroom, hall, stairs and landing
2. Kitchen and living room
3. Dining room and bathroom
4. Both kids rooms
5. Our bedroom and the car
6. Front and back gardens including Windows
And I'll give myself Sundays off I think!
The Timing
So now in my head it's a manageable chunk, I need to make sure it doesn't turn into something unachievable so I'm spending no longer than 45 minutes on each of my two rooms each day.  So I'm spending no longer than an hour and a half cleaning each day.  That way, nothing else well be neglected and as the weeks go on, the rooms will become more organised and cleaner so my plan is to eventually only spend an hour a day cleaning.
Then maybe, I shall have the time to devise ascend discover more money and time saving habits!!
Do I sound insane, by the way?

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Get Paid To Spring Clean

And I don't mean go and do other peoples cleaning (although that would be a great way to make money !)

I mean go through your house, top to bottom and clear out what you don't use, then sell it.

  • Car Boot
  • Ebay
  • Cards in Shop Windows

Clear your clutter and make money. 

The most important thing I find is not to get precious about things.  Will you really wear those out of fashion jeans?  How often do you use that kitchen appliance?  Have the kids grown out of their toys?

It's a quick and easy way to get some money in for Christmas and if you work on the premise of getting £1 for each item then anything else is a bonus.  I can easily find 100 things around the house that we no longer need or use.  That's £100 quid!!

So get clutter clearing!!

Go for the three pile approach

- Bin (broken and can't be sold on ebay for spares or poor condition)

- Sellable

- Charity (not quite sellable condition but life left)

Another route is the Cash for Clothes (other shops which pay for clothes are available I'm sure, just that the one on our high street is actually called that!) shops.  Personally, I think a charity can benefit more from a bag of clothes I can't sell than me getting 50p per kilo, but if you have a lot of denim or heavy coats then that could be worthwhile.

I'm off to get ebay listing!!

Good luck - and Get it Done!!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Meal Planning Monday - Raid the Freeezer Week

Well, after my success of following my clear out meal plan last week in an attempt to save £80 for a trip to the Christmas Markets, I'm glad to say is was a success with £70 saved!!

Unfortunately, I then realised I need to pay the next installment for a school trip so here we go again trying to save the shopping budget by eating through the freezer.  it needs emptying anyway in time for Christmas!

Meal Planning Ideas

So, looking at my list of what is in the black hole I call the freezer, we are on...

Hairy Dieters Steak and Ale Pie over a Jacket Potato

Levi Roots Carribean Curry
(I froze this to not waste some chicken and to use the cook in sauce I got for £1 with a coupon!)

Fish Cakes, Chips and Peas

Meatballs and spaghetti in home made pasta sauce

Bangers and Mash


Fish pie made from the Haddock and Salmon lingering in the bottom drawer

So hopefully all I need to buy this week is fresh veg, milk, bread and potatoes.  Everything else I should have tucked away.  I've saved a small fortune using up baking supplies and dried fruit on packed lunches too.

I'm liking the saving element of this way of meal planning but I feel/fear a really big stock up shop coming.

There's loads more meal plans over At Home With Mrs M - and quite frankly they will be better and more tastier!!

Enjoy your week and let me know how much you save by eating through your stockpile!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Slow Cooker Sunday - Full O'Veg Pasta Sauce

This recipe makes a vat of pasta sauce and will save you a fortune on dolmio/ragu, particularly if you buy a cheaper passatta.  I've tried expensive and budget brand and can't tell the difference, just taste to ensure the salt is right.

Oh, I have a huge 6 litre slow cooker so just halve the quantities for a normal size appliance!


2 small aubergines
1 leek
1 onion
5 small carrotts
250g mushrooms
3 cloves of garlic
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
6 basil leaves
3 litres of passatta (6 cartons)
1 tbsp caster sugar
Salt to taste


Rinse the aubergine, slice into circles and sprinkle with salt.  Leave while you chop the rest of the veg.

Wash and slice the leek

Dice the onion

Peel and dice the carrots

Peel and chop the mushrooms

Crush the garlic (or add 3 tsp of lazy garlic)

Dice the peppers

Rinse the aubergine well, dice and throw everything into the slow cooker.

Add the passstta and the sugar

Stir and cook on low for 5 hours

Blend with a stick blender and salt to taste.


How To...Christmas Hampers - Get Started

There's nothing better than getting a box full of stuff and the excitement of seeing what's inside!

This year I will be giving Christmas Hampers to the majority of people on my list.  There's tons of reasons to put together hampers such as...

1)  It's a lovely personal gift that shows you know and have thought about your recipient
2)  It's a cheap way to give a big present
3)  You can give people something useful that will get used rather than (durh dur durrrrr) regifted    (hangs head in shame!)

So where to start?

1. Make a list of people you will give a hamper to

2. Find that number of boxes and decorate with christmas wrap and ribbons (don't do a massive box, it will cost a fortune!!)  Baskets look lovely if you can find some on offer. 

3. Decide on a theme

Ideas for themes...

Regional Goods
Good if sending to a different county

Afternoon Tea
Think chutneys, biscuits, different teas, honey, swizzle sticks, home made biscuits

Breakfast in Bed
Marmalade, Jams, Breads, Honey, Orange Juice, Champagne

Boozy Christmas
Minitures, Cocktail Cherrys, A Snowball, Babycham, Foods containing booze such as jams or drink sachets, Pack of Resolve

Coffee & Chocolate
Various coffee sachets (split the boxes of 8 and put one or two in each hamper), Chocolate Minatures (Booths have a big box of Green and Black's Minitures on offer for £9 until Christmas Day - again split the box), Marshmallows, Tinned Cream, Coffee Biscuits

I start hamper harvesting early doors when I see things on offer that I have an appropriate coupon for or I use my Tesco Price Promise coupons again when the product is on offer.

The hampers can be quite cumbersome so I tend to set them up in the garage and stack them up.

Oh, a big tip...check sell by dates!!  Some biscuits I bought in September expire in December.  So I HAD to eat them!!  Not cost effective, but quite delicious.

Have you any ideas for themes?

I'll post photos asap

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Trying to Be Obsessive

During the last week of the summer holidays, my neighbour came over and said "Oh Claire. Why don't you give that Cleaning Company in Lytham a ring and get them to do what you can't manage" as she stepped over the boys coats, the dog and a box of toys in the Hall.

Most people would be offended but I laughed and said "It'll be spotless next week when they're back at school"

And it was.

Once I get cleaning, I'm pretty good at it and get through it.  What I'm not good at is keeping on top of it.

So I am determined to get a grip on this and keep my home like a showhome.

I've been inspired by Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners on Channel 4.  I wish I could be as dedicated to cleaning.  The ironing board is in my eyeline as I type and I'm slightly compelled to iron but there's not that "I MUST" feeling about it.  I can ignore it until I go to bed and then be annoyed about it in the morning.

Have a look here
So I'm putting a schedule together and I'm going to get this house to show home standard and have that homely feel for Christmas.
Who's With Me?
I'm going to blog about my progress (more to keep me in line that thinking that someone may be interested!!) so I'll put a linky up as I'd love to read about how you keep on top of the housework and keep a lovely home
I look forward to reading about your triumphs!


Monday, 11 November 2013

Meal Planning Monday - clear out week

Christmas is coming and I want to spend a small fortune at the Manchester Christmas markets so something's got to give and that something is food!!
The freezer is rammed and the fridge needs cleaning so it's killing three birds with one stone.  Here's what we're on for the coming week...
Pizza and frozen chips
Spag Bol (from the freezer)
Jacket Potatoes, beans and cheese
Beef curry from frozen stewing steak and a jar from the lurking place in the cupboard
Fish cakes, frozen chips and peas
Baked Gluten Free chilli con carne (frozen in a tray and defrosted in a low oven - nicer than nuked or heated in a pan)
Bangers and mash
I know there's no take away in there but I've eaten it so much that I really have gone off it, although we are dying to sample the fayre at Micheals Indian Restaurant in Blackpool.  It looks gorgeous from the outside and the take away we had was gourmet. 
There's loads more meal plans over at At Home With Mrs M so meal planning does not need to be a chore, let someone else do the work, some even have shopping lists for petes sake!!  It can't be easier!  Shop Smart - Save Money Time and Waste!
So how much could you save if you ate up your stored food?  And what would you do with the spare cash?  Yes, as I thought you would spend it at a Christmas Market, wouldn't you?!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Sorry for the interruption in service!

Well, doesn't time fly! 
I've no excuse for not keeping the blog updated other than I don't seem to have enough time in the day to get through the essentials.
Work is hectic, the end of the housing slump does appear to be nigh and it always seems to be Friday.  Not that that is a bad thing! 
So, the money saving projects have gone awry. Well, completely off track actually but come today, they are back on track!!  Monday's meal planning post is using what we have in already to save £80 and empty the teeny tiny freezer to make way for some batch cooking and Christmas prep.
One of my main reasons for blogging is to keep me on track on the things I need to do.  Sounds mental, adding another task to make sure I do a list of tasks as long as my arm but it works.  I need to keep reading blogs such as Mortgage Free in Three to keep me on the money saving crusade, A Thrifty Mrs to keep my house clean and I'm now a Pinterest addict which makes me want to craft and organise parties!)
So, I intend to blog craft projects which save money and give me crafting satisfaction but time will tell if I actually do (or if anyone reads them!)
So, start as I mean to go on....I shall do my meal planning and shopping lists right now!!
PS - I do need pestering - please pester - leave comments, tweet me @claire_sheehan, mither me!!  The odd "how much have you saved today?" prod would me a massive help!!

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Christmas Project - The Christmas Cake Part 1

I've not made a Christmas cake for years because there's only ever me that eats it, it's usually burnt and I can live without it!!  Christmas has never been ruined due to an absence of cake!
However, this year, I'm going all crafty and homemade and in sheer desperation to fill the last afternoon of half term, we made a Christmas cake.
I checked my Christmas entertaining book for something chic and light.  Nothing. (Proof a Christmas cake is not essential maybe!)
So I went to Nigelissima for an Italian alternative hoping it would be eaten out of curiosity.  Nope, nothing there other than a creamy type cake.
James Martin did not let me down!! We've followed his recipe to the letter and halfway through, I realised I'VE NOT SOAKED THE FRUIT IN BRANDY!!!!!!!! The recipe didn't instruct me to and
I've followed it in automatic mode whilst giving impromptu maths lessons to the boys.
Its a family tradition to soak the fruit. (In alcohol, not tea!) A couple of years ago, I soaked them and ate them before even contemplating baking them. However, I shall compensate by feeding the cake copious amounts of Martell.  If I'm not drinking the cake on Christmas eve, I'll be disappointed.
So back to the cake, I baked it for half an hour less than James instructed and it still felt a bit dry. (Oooh!! I'll pour brandy on it!) The smell though was AMAZING!!!
The next stage is to make my own marzipan!  Easy for you James Martin - Stay tuned!!

Friday, 1 November 2013

Talk First Baby Sign - Our November Sponsor

I'm so glad to welcome back Talk First Fylde as my blog sponsor for this month!

Joyce sponsored My Cava Lifestyle back in April and I wrote This Post about going to her Baby Signing classes.  I didn't actually report back because I was too busy actually at the classes and doing general mum things, so here's the feedback report (finally!)

The class I attend is at Lytham Childrens Centre and has recently split into two classes due to the popularity of the sessions.

Sessions start with a Dexter sing along then we get down to the business of learning 8 new signs with our babies (or toddlers, or indeed in the case of inset days - 6 year old!).  We then practice the signs and go onto use them in rhymes and songs.

My 10 month old absolutely loves the class.  Dexter the Jester is a colourful character who high fives with real hands and has a very grabbable jingly hat.  The singing and musical instrument elements go down well with all the children and Joyce keeps the class lively with finger puppets and a bit of mum dancing.

It's a lovely session and ideal for those who will return to work after maternity leave as it is a class that can be enjoyed with very young babies (we've been since 4 months!)

Please take a moment to hop over to Joyce's Talk First website for more info or contact her at  If you tweet, Joyce is @talkfirstjoyce and always replies promptly.


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