Getting Organised Week Four – Launch Pad

GOUNELLE (1)It’s been a busy week with my volunteering, so although I did my tidy up this week, I haven’t had time to post about it.Getting Organised - Launch Pad Before‘Launch pad’ isn’t a term that I’d heard much about in the UK.   It seems to be something which originated on US organising websites describing where you have everything to get you out of the door in the morning so you aren’t searching for the second glove or trying to remember whether the kids needed their PE kit or their music bags on a Tuesday morning.

We don’t have one launch pad area in our house.   Our school timetable is on a noticeboard in the kitchen. Book bags are in the hallway and shoes and coats are by the back door.   I think I’d like to have a central place where everything goes, and I’ve seen some great ideas at other people’s houses with hooks and files for each child.   I haven’t found anything that suits our space yet though.Getting Organised - Launch Pad AfterI did a good tidy up and sort out.   We’ve acquired new umbrellas and hadn’t ditched the old ones, so they went out first.   I even found the parasol from the baby buggy (youngest is almost 7!) so that went out too.   Extra coats that aren’t being worn at the moment have gone into wardrobes, and everything got a good clean.   Admittedly this photo was taken when the rest of the family was out of the house, but it has remained tidy since.

The living room is next which is mainly my stuff.   Why is it that I can keep everyone else’s belongings organised, but when it comes to my own, it exists in piles?   I haven’t got much further with the dining room which I missed when I was ill.   Onwards and upwards!

Meal Planning Monday – 1st February

MealPlanning (1)Wow!   January is over already and my new challenge is beginning.

I’ve been an online Slimming World member for some time now.   I say ‘member’ in the loosest terms as I pay to weigh myself every week and only vaguely think about what I’m eating.   Not only is it a waste of money, I’m not getting any thinner!   Time to knuckle down and count those syns.   The rest of the family can carry on eating normally but I’m going to try and get my act together.

Monday: egg/chicken salad (which came first? tee hee!)
Tuesday: veg bolo/mac n cheese
Wednesday: veg curry/gammon
Thursday: veg chilli/slow cooker sausage pasta
Friday: salmon fish cakes
Saturday: veg goulash
Sunday: see what’s left in the fridge and invent something!

Linking with At Home with Mrs M’s Meal Planning Monday.   Pop by and see what everyone else is having this week to get some inspiration.

Reading Challenge – The Story So Far

2016So I’m one month into my Goodreads book challenge and my little widgety thing says I’m ahead of schedule!   I’m enjoying having this behind me to give me an incentive to pick up my tablet and read.

I really enjoyed reading Mary Portas’ autobiography, Shop Girl.   Her early life was definitely eventful.   So much has been chucked at her that she’s had to deal with, so you can see where the brazen, strong woman on today’s TV screens has come from.   I thought it ended far too quickly though, so hopefully she’s busy writing the next stage of her life story.

I’ve selected a few more books to fit my categories now.   Eldest Craftyguidelet selected my children’s book, and my twitter friend (and fellow Elf on the Shelf aficionado) @HamertonSally who just happens to be a librarian, gave me a few more choices.

  1. An unfinished book – Helen Fielding – Mad About the Boy – finished
  2. A new author to me – Kate Thompson – Secrets of the Singer Girls – currently reading
  3. A classic read – possibly a Brontë or a Jane Austen
  4. A book recommended by a librarian – Mary Shelley – Frankenstein
  5. A book that’s been adapted into a film.
  6. A celebrity autobiography – Mary Portas – Shop Girl – finished
  7. A book written by/about a historical figure – Lord Baden-Powell – The Wolf that Never Sleeps
  8. An award winning book – Kate Atkinson – A God in Ruins
  9. A children’s book – Jacqueline Wilson – Best Friends
  10. A celebrity book club read.
  11. A book I should have read at school rather than just the York Notes – (loads of choice for this category unfortunately – might be one of my French A-level literature reads)
  12. A Goodreads recommendation.

If there are any recommendations to fill in any of my gaps, please feel free to leave a comment!

Getting Organised Week Three – Sofa

GOUNELLEYes, sofa.

I should be tidying the dining room this week.   It’s a huge job as it’s home to the dining room furniture, CDs, photos, Craftyguidelet craft stuff, table linen, catalogues and other bits and pieces.   Much of this stuff needs a good sort out and declutter, just like I’ve done with the kitchen and utility room so far.   I did a great job there, so the dining room shouldn’t be an issue, should it?

At the beginning of 2015 I wanted to avoid any challenges like the organisation challenge I’m doing now.   I wanted to avoid the pressure of following on at someone else’s pace.   I know how random my life is and how busy my volunteering is, so my pace isn’t the same as anyone else’s.   I don’t want to feel a failure just because I couldn’t crochet as fast as someone who does it for a living and doesn’t have two girls, three Guiding groups, a WI and a house to run in her spare time.

This week, past health problems have come back to get me, together with a stinking cold.   I’ve also had issues from my volunteering to deal with which takes up time and energy – both physical and emotional – so the combination has floored me.   The dining room has hardly been touched apart from relocating boxes of photos into the living room for sorting.   In the past, I’d be beating myself up for ‘failing’.   Today, I’m concentrating on what I’ve learnt in the past, realising I’m not superwoman – no matter how much other people want or expect me to be – and I’m taking things as easy as I can.

If you need me, I’m on the impeccably tidy sofa.Getting organised sofa

Meal Planning Monday – 25th January

MealPlanningI decided to concentrate on my lunches this week.   I go through phases of having the same things every day – baked potatoes with beans and cheese, cheese omelette with rice.   Other times I run so late I just grab a bowl of rice krispies with soya milk.   When I put my supermarket food order on, I concentrate on what to have for dinner and not what would be good for lunch.   I have now baked some baps, I have a variety of fruit and veg and I’m going to give it a go.

Monday: egg bap
Tuesday: frittata
Wednesday: jacket potato with beans
Thursday: cheese and pickle baguettes
Friday: soup

For dinner, I’ve got a lot of evenings where I can’t spend time cooking, so it’s lots of quick meals or ‘Here’s one I made earlier’ dishes.

Monday: cold roast beef and bubble and squeak
Tuesday: pork medallions and veg
Wednesday: salmon
Thursday: bolognese
Friday: baked potatoes and salad
Saturday: Mr CG and the Craftyguidelets are fending for themselves as I’m on a residential Guiding training
Sunday: sausages

Linking with At Home with Mrs M’s Meal Planning Monday.   Pop by and see what everyone else is having this week to get some inspiration.

Getting Organised Week Two – Utility Room

Getting Organised week 2 Utility RoomI’m still following the A Bowl Full of Lemons #2016abfolchallenge to declutter and tidy my home.   Week 2 is the pantry, but as I live in a modern UK home, I don’t have one.   My utility room is a continuation of my kitchen, so I thought I’d attack that this week.Getting organised utility room beforeAgain, there is too much stuff cluttering up the place.   I did manage to free up one cupboard last week by moving things from here to the kitchen though which was a great starting place.getting organised utility room baking cupboard beforeI had some cleaning stuff in this cupboard and laundry bits in another which was also rammed full of other paraphernalia.getting organised utility room cleaning cupboard beforeA simple empty out of both cupboards meant that I could put all the cleaning bits together with the iron, and my baking tins could leave the surfaces and be put away behind closed doors with the batteries and screwdrivers.getting organised utility room cleaning cupboard aftergetting organised utility room baking cupboard afterThe other main cupboard had first aid, manuals, BBQ tools and the steamer and toaster which don’t get used very regularly.getting organised utility room cupboard beforeThe BBQ tools were relocated out of the way (don’t think I’ll be needing them in the next few months!), and Mr CG hauled out all the household paperwork from the many cubby holes in the house.   Out of date stuff was recycled or shredded and only the current paperwork was kept.getting organised utility room cupboard afterA good vacuum of the tumble drier, a hot wash with soda crystals for the washing machine and the job was done.Getting organised utility room afterThe ironing and washing were tackled the day after this photo and everything is now complete.   I just need to find a way of keeping my hangers untangled, so if you have any hints and tips…!

Week three is the dining room, which in our house is also the Craftyguidelets’ craft room.   I may need therapy after that!

Meal Planning Monday – 18th January

MealPlanning (1)I was happy with my meal plan last week, apart from the fact that putting sausages on the menu only works when you have bought sausages to use.   Oops!

I’ve started a major house declutter and week one was the kitchen.   It has been complete chaos at times, but it is now clutter free.   All the stuff I don’t use is gone, leaving room for more things to go away.   This week I’ve started on the utility room and I’ve carried on being ruthless.   Soon I’ll be able to get the shopping brought through to the kitchen rather than getting it left in the hall because I’m too embarrassed for the Ocado driver to see the mess!

This week I have ordered sausages, so my menu is as follows:

Monday: pasta bolognese
Tuesday: cheesy sweetcorn baked potato and salad (a recipe from The Brownie Cookbook for eldest Craftyguidelet to prepare)
Wednesday: fajitas
Thursday: sausage pasta
Friday: salmon
Saturday: freezer dive
Sunday: roast dinner

As usual I am joining in with At Home with Mrs M’s Meal Planning Monday.   Pop by and see what everyone else is having this week to get some inspiration.

 

Getting Organised Week One – Kitchen

getting organised before picturesI started #2016abfolchallenge on Saturday and the first room was the kitchen.   I took pictures around my kitchen and they perfectly illustrate my problem; clutter everywhere, nothing put away and too much stuff.Getting organised drawer 1 beforeThe first job was the cake tin drawer.   I thought this was a significant job to start with but one that could be completed successfully and therefore motivate me onwards.   10 loaf tins were reduced to 5, tins I’d bought replacements for or which had seen better days were shipped out.   The drawer was cleaned, the contents were put on my Sortly app so I know just how many tins of each size I have, and the contents were put back.getting organised drawer 1 afterSo pleased that I got everything back in, plus I added some tins from another cupboard so everything is now in one place.

And the cutlery drawer has gone from chaos to organised.getting organised cutlery drawer beforegetting organised cutlery drawer aftergetting organised baking cupboard afterThe baking cupboard looks lovely now.   I can see what I’ve got and it’s all stored nicely.getting organised spice drawergetting organised chocolate snack drawer

The surfaces have been cleared and I’ve re-zoned the areas.   The tea and coffee are now near the microwave and fridge and the mixers are closer to where I normally prepare food.Getting organised surfaces afterI am so pleased with how well I’ve done in week one.   Week 2 is the pantry which I don’t have, so I might move onto the utility room next.   The laundry room is week 13, but it comes after the playroom/toys which may need more than one week in this house!

Are you having a new year declutter?

Meal Planning Monday – 11th January

MealPlanningI love my freezer.   As well as the usual ice cream and frozen veg, I store as much as I can in there.   All my butter and any other multibuys go straight in so I can bulk buy when it’s on special offer.   I don’t eat much bread so when I bake a loaf, I slice it up to go straight into the freezer to use slice by slice so there’s no waste.   I also cook batches of vegetarian meals for me so I just need to defrost something for me and cook a meat version for everyone else.   Cheaper food, less waste and convenience – I’ll go for that!

It is important to freeze, defrost and reheat food safely so take care!

This week I’m batch making a vegetarian chilli to add to the bolognaise in the freezer.   If I can do one meal a week, it gives me a selection to pull out of the freezer.

Vegetarian Chilli – serves 6
225g dried white haricot beans
125g dried red kidney beans
1 tbsp oil
2 large onions, quartered and sliced
14oz tin chopped tomatoes
3-4 bay leaves
1 veggie stock cube made up into 850ml stock
2 red and 2 green peppers, cut into medium strips
chilli powder to taste
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed

  1. Soak the beans for 8-12 hours or overnight in plenty of cold water.
  2. Drain the beans and rinse really thoroughly.
  3. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onions until they are just turning golden.
  4. Add beans, tomatoes, bay leaves and stock.
  5. Bring to the boil uncovered, and once boiling, boil rapidly for 10 minutes (very important when dealing with dried beans to kill toxins).
  6. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
  7. Add peppers, garlic and chilli.
  8. Cook slowly for 45 minutes.
  9. Remove bay leaves and serve with rice.
    I have been freezing this in individual portions for years.   I just defrost a portion the night before in the fridge and microwave it until it is completely reheated throughout.

Our weekly meal plan is as follows:

Monday: Jacket potatoes and salad – should have had this last week, but after a day of cleaning and decluttering the kitchen, we had a celebratory takeaway pizza so we didn’t get it dirty again!
Tuesday: Veggie chilli/Chicken and Vegetable Stew
Wednesday: Creamy Haddock and Broccoli
Thursday: Vegetarian Goulash
Friday: Sausages
Saturday: Fish Pie
Sunday: Beef Hotpot/Veggie Bolognaise

Linking to At Home with Mrs M’s Meal Planning Monday.   Pop by and see what everyone else is having this week to get some inspiration.

Reading Challenge 2016

2016The Craftyguidelets love to read.   My eldest can be in the middle of 3 or 4 books at a time, but still knows exactly what is going on in each.   I used to devour books when I commuted into London.   But now my commute is from the kitchen to the living room or the office, and my volunteering has expanded, the time I allocate to reading books has reduced considerably.

With a queue of books on my Kindle app and a pile of books in the cupboard, I decided to set myself up on the Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge.   As well as keeping my list short with a realistic target of only 12 books, I thought I’d try and find books from different categories to mix it up a bit.

  1. An unfinished book – Helen Fielding – Mad About the Boy – finished
  2. A new author to me.
  3. A classic read.
  4. A book recommended by a librarian.
  5. A book that’s been adapted into a film.
  6. A celebrity autobiography – Mary Portas – Shop Girl – now reading
  7. A book written by/about a historical figure.
  8. An award winning book.
  9. A children’s book.
  10. A celebrity book club read.
  11. A book I should have read at school rather than just the York Notes.
  12. A Goodreads recommendation.

I am one book in and it’s only 8th January – go me!   My little widgety thing at the side of my blog keeps the tally, and hopefully I’ll read more than my target.

Are you doing any reading challenges this year?