Sunday, 25 January 2015

An Organised Shoe Cupboard

Our whole entrance area was looking pretty tired until recently when we painted it and got some new flooring. Now I am looking at all the great storage space we have and I have realised we really don't use it well. In fact (cringe) it's a total mess!

This is the first cupboard on the left as you walk in through the side door of our house. We use this as our main entry way so I wanted to use this space and not use it as a dumping ground.

First I emptied everything out...

Then I sorted through everything, throwing out any shoes or sports equipment that were old and unusable, putting aside the things I wanted to donate and moving things out that belonged somewhere else. 

After that I gave the cupboard itself a revamp! I removed all the shelves and painted the inside...

Then put some super pretty contact paper on the shelves to line them! I measured and cut each piece before peeling off the backing...

And put the shelves back in where I wanted them

Sooooo much better already! The next step was really easy, I had already sorted through everything I wanted to keep in the cupboard so I popped it all back on the shelves

Ta Daaaa!! Lets take a tour...

At the top are two big plastic baskets for paint supplies

The next shelf down houses all of our sports equipment and beach stuff. Now we can just grab it and head straight out the door!

And finally all our shoes neatly organised on the shelves. I also added a basket for hats, gloves and umbrellas and a plastic tray for things we need at different times. 

Lets have a little before and after!

I love it!! Now I can use this cupboard for its intended purpose and it looks so much nicer and cleaner! I keep finding myself sneaking out to have a quick look...

How do you organise your shoes and sports equipment? 

x x x

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Magazine Storage

If like me you love a good home magazine then you will find them piling up around your home. But with all the inspirational ideas and beautiful pictures tucked inside those pages, who really wants to throw them away after one read? Not me! 

Instead of organising them though, I left them under the coffee table in our lounge so I could grab one in the evening and have a quick skip through a few pages. Unfortunately, my little R also quite likes these magazines and they often end up like this

A Jumbled mess! I knew I wanted to keep them here but I needed a way of keeping them organised neatly and slightly concealed from Rosie. So I started searching around online for something cute and functional and found this little beauty from IKEA. I was sold! So it snuck into my online basket and a few days later, it arrived.

I took out all the magazines and sorted them into 'keep', 'move elsewhere' and 'use for the fire'. 

As I only wanted to keep the home type magazines in the lounge, all the other ones I wanted to keep could go under the coffee table in our conservatory. 

Then I popped them in the basket...

Love how they fit the basket so well!

And put the basket under the coffee table...

Perfect fit!

A quick before and after?!

Such an easy project but so much less eye clutter! Now I've got ideas for that coffee table...some Annie Sloan paint maybe??

How do you store your magazines? Do you keep them out for visitors to read or do you keep them neatly filed in your home office? 

x x x 

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Baby Feeding

My amaaaaaazing ikea order arrived (yes they ship here, wahoo!!) and a few things I bought tied in nicely with my meal planning posts so I thought I would chat about them first. We are finding more and more that our little R likes to feed herself. She likes to grab bits size food off the table, use her spoon to feed herself yoghurt and sometimes drink from our cups instead of her own beaker! So when I saw this multi coloured range on IKEA I couldn't resist...

The great thing is they are all BPA free so I can stick them in the microwave as well as serve up food and drink straight on the table. And they are so colourful and fun, little R loves to play with them too!

I also got a pack of these great coveralls for meal times as Rosie hates to wear a bib - she can now whip them off in about 5 seconds flat. 

So far, so good! What dishes do you use for your little one? And what bibs work best for you? 

x x x

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Meal Planning Part 3

I always start off with good intentions with my budgeting. I set myself a specific stick-to-it food budget and then Joe comes home with a bag full of goodies from the co-op. Good intentions out the window! 

But whilst I have been on maternity leave this past year, we also had a drop in income but our expenses and bills stayed the same. Something had to give, but I wasn't sure what or how to go about it. So I did what I always do and started looking around online for inspiration. This is when I came across this beauty and wow!! I was totally hooked.

Meet Jack Monroe. She's a pretty normal brit who knows how to cook great, healthy, fabulous food all on a ridiculously tiny budget. I stumbled across her blog and I was totally sucked in by her amazing recipes, positive 'can do' attitude and her truly heart wrenching story. Due to a few hiccups along the way that could really happen to anyone, she found herself in a freezing cold Council house living below the breadline and trying to support her cute as a button son. 

I read her story and scrolled through all her recipes, my mouth dropping at the cost per portion (9p burger??!! Hello!!) and tried out my first recipe one cold wintery evening when little R wouldn't settle, I was bleary eyed from a total lack of sleep and I needed a quick pick-me-up. I made a hot cup of peanut butter hot chocolate and oh my!! It was exactly what I needed to shrug off the tiredness and carry on. You can find the recipe here YUM!!!

Since then I've tried out a few more recipes and bought her first book, it really is awesome and the pictures are just delightful.

You can buy her book from amazon and now that there is a new book out (yes! she's written another one!!) it is definitely at the top of my list to purchase for my meal planning process.

Because of this super individual, I have been inspired to cut down on the amount of expensive meat I used to buy. Over the summer we cooked a lot with chick peas and kidney beans which pack a great nutritious punch and cost a damn sight less than a pack of chicken. I also scour the co-op shelves each week for reduced items that are on their final 'best before' date that I can stick in the freezer. I no longer buy crisps. We cut them out of our daily lunches and we feel so much healthier for it! Now I try to eat some fruit with my little R each day, a few bits of banana and orange go down a treat and I can finish up the rest!

However, both Joe and I are still real chocaholics. Yep, we just love opening a bar of our fav chocolate in the evening and sharing it! I don't think I can ever really cut down on that (a girls gotta have a few treats!) so we buy whatever is on offer in the co-op or what we can buy in bulk and stash in the pantry. 

These are just a few tips for how we stay on budget each week, obviously every household is different and what works well for us might not work for someone else. But just as a guide here is what I have covered in my meal planning series;

Planning Your Shopping - plan your meals, check what you're running low on and shop around. Don't just hit one supermarket, compare some prices and buy in bulk online! and don't be afraid of swapping any fancier looking ingredients for a value pack. After all, it is usually just pretty packaging...

Batch Cooking - this is more a 'quality time' saver but if it works for us, it might work for you too.

Get Inspired - meal planning doesn't have to be boring. Look in your favourite cook books, read a few blogs and find some recipes that inspire you. 

Cut Down and Swap Around - not the portion size!! just the type - cut down on more expensive foods and try to buy more 'from scratch' or value ingredients. Sometimes things are more expensive just because they're in fashion so get creative and buy cheaper.

I think that is pretty much it for my meal planning method! Do you have any delicious recipes you love to cook or inspiring blogs that you follow? Do you ever look at what you're buying and have a swap and a shop around?

x x x

Meal Planning Part 2

Meal planning is the name of the game this week for me and following part 1 of getting organised with buying the ingredients and planning the meals to suit our week, I wanted to trial run a spot of batch cooking.

I love the idea of freeing up my evenings even more so I can chill with Joe and Rosie, no mad scramble to get the food on the table whilst trying to entertain my little R. So this Sunday I planned my meals for the week with a view to cooking a lot of them that afternoon so they were all ready for the week ahead.

We love having a roast on a cold winter Sunday (who doesn't?!) but I've always been a bit nervous of doing it all by myself. I normally prep whilst Joe sorts out the meat and gets it all in and out of the oven at the right time. But this Sunday, I decided to take the plunge and do it ALL BY MYSELF and you know what, it was delicious!! 

So I knew I had a good hour and 45 minutes to wait for the chicken to be cooked and ready so I got on with prepping my meals for the week. I used some simple freezer/ fridge/ oven friendly disposable metal containers for the lasagne and cottage pie, then I did a big separate cottage pie to put straight in the fridge. I chopped up a mountain of veg for my roast dinner, cottage pie, lasagne and chicken curry then sorted it into the right pans and roasters to get it all going.

Two hours later (yep, two hours to prep a WEEK'S worth of meals, amazing!!) I was just about done...

Phew!! That's a lot of meals all ready to heat up and go!!

So, to recap, this is what I prepared for each meal;

Chicken Curry - Chopped up the veg and two chicken breasts, added some cashew nuts then poured on a jar of butter chicken sauce. All ready for the slow cooker the next day.

Lasagne - Chopped up the onions and mushrooms, cooked the beef mince and added the veg and tomato pasta sauce. Made a quick white sauce for the top (I always add nutmeg, yum yum) then layered it up with the lasagne sheets in the foil containers to stick in the freezer.

Cottage Pie - Chopped up the onion and carrots, cooked the beef mince and added the veg, some frozen peas, a jar of tomato pasta sauce and gravy granules. Chopped up the potatoes for the topping, turned them into mash and added a good amount of cheese. Put it all together in a big dish to put in the fridge and as I had extra, made up a second one in a foil container for the freezer. 

The great thing about a roast dinner is that there is always a ton of leftovers! We use the leftover roasted veg as a soup for all of us during the week (we always add a baby stock cube so there isn't too much salt for little R) 

The leftover roast chicken is great for grab-and-go sandwich fillers. I know I have two baking potatoes ready in the fridge for an easy jacket potato and cheesy beans night so with a bit of preparation, I was sorted for the week!

And let me tell you, coming in from work on Monday night and smelling the curry cooking away in the slow cooker was seriously made it all worth while!

And now because I have made meals that I have put straight in the freezer, I know they will keep for next week if we decide to spontaneously go out for dinner one night or if we get invited over somewhere. 

For me the batch cooking and meal planning thing is a success already! Have you tried batch cooking? What meals do you make in advance?

Stay tuned for a chat about food budgeting in the next few days!

x x x

Monday, 12 January 2015

Meal Planning Part 1

With me going back to work full time pretty soon after my wonderful year off with little R, I realised I needed to get a bit more organised with...meal planning! 

I know that once we are both working full time we are going to have limited time in the evenings and I want to maximise the family time I have each day just to hang out. 

So with that in mind, I decided to come up with some printable documents to help me manage my process which you can find here for free!!

I find that I need to order lots of things online and have them sent over in bulk. This works best for me so I needed that 'to Order' list to get myself organised. 

Each week, I go through my food cupboard, pantry, fridge and freezer and make a note of what items I regularly buy that I need. They are normally staple items like pasta, flour, rice, potatoes and seasonings. These will be listed on my Shopping List and to Order list depending on whether they are fresh things I buy over here or things I know I can order in bulk. 

Then comes the fun part! I already love planning our meals for the week but usually I just do it on scrap pieces of paper or in a pretty notebook. This system should work much better! I sit down, look through my recipe books and chat with Joe about what he would like. Then I think about the food we already have and our commitments for the week and come up with a meal plan. From this, I can add anything extra I need to my shopping list. 

This is a system that works for us, what works for you? Do you plan weekly or just see what you fancy each night?

x x x

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Beautiful New Coat Hooks

Soooo this weekend we got round to a little home project that we have wanted to get to for a while. For ages we have been chucking all our coats on a little set of coat hooks under the stairs...


It's messy, inconvenient and they end up piled up and jamming up the space that could otherwise be quite useful. 

So Joe asked a local carpenter for a piece of wood and he scored a gorgeous plank of solid elm! He got to work sanding and oiling the wood to bring out the beautiful natural grain and I got on with doing what I do best- shopping! I found some hooks on eBay that you can buy in multiple packs and some screws to attach them to the wood. 

This is the space we wanted to use...

Right next to the side door which we basically use as a front door and just across from our shoe cupboard.

Then Joe attached two blocks of wood to the back for anchoring to the wall (and helping with the coat bulge when there are too many coats on the hooks- happens frequently when we have guests!)

And the grand reveal...

Love, love, love!! 

I just love this coat rack so much, not only is it beautiful and practical, it was also handmade! 

How do you organise your walk in/ mudroom/ lobby area?

x x x