make the most of freezer

I love my freezer, it is always stuffed with goodies and the only time I have ever let it run to empty was the time I needed to defrost it and clean it.

Sadly (for me), I only have three shelves at the bottom of my fridge freezer so I have to be diligent in what I store to make sure I make the most of the space. Thanks to my three shelf limit I have become quite the expert at packing my food in. Some may call it OCD but I place my food in certain areas so I know I can go in and quickly nab what I need. The smaller bottom tray is reserved for ice cream, frozen vegetables and pastry blocks. The middle drawer is used for loaves of bread, chips, wedges and fish fingers, chicken nuggets and the top tray is for my meat, fish and ice cubes resting on top of the week’s meals ready for the weekend gin and tonic.

I make it a habit that when I shop I buy up the special offers purposely to put in the freezer to use at a later date. I have bought a whole salmon on Christmas Eve for £5 before, a bargain I am particularly proud of.

I also like to double up on recipes when I am using my slow cooker or the pressure cooker, for example, I make a huge casserole and freeze half of it for another meal in the future.

I have got into the habit of deciding what we are going to eat the night before and if it is something in the freezer, I take it out to defrost overnight so I can place it in the fridge in the morning. This is working really well and it also helps with my shopping list when it’s time to place my weekly order.

Often my thoughts turn to the day we will knock down walls and purchase a new kitchen. I have plans that I can’t wait to put into place and one of them is a utility room. In my future utility room, there will be a sink and the dishwasher. I will home the washing machine and the tumble dryer and on top of that, I will make room for an upright commercial freezer.

This would give me a total of 7 shelves to use, can you imagine my excitement of organising the chilly shelves?

It would be marvellous for freezing fresh fruit in the summer to use throughout the winter. I could have an infinite source of burgers and bangers for my barbecue-loving husband and I could hold multi tubs of ice cream for the kids to choose from as opposed to the one or two I can squeeze in now. I could even stock up on commercial ice creams and all manner of treats for us to enjoy.

I could even reserve a shelf for my Limoncello from Sorrento, to serve chilled after a meal.

What product will I always find in your freezer?

Disclosure: A collaborative post.

money cashA budget is an incredibly useful financial tool. In basic terms, it’s a plan that provides an in-depth overview of your spending habits and earnings, so that you can establish a good idea of where your money is going. Provided you stick to the plan you make, you should find that your budget helps you to stay on top of your spending, and avoid using more money than you earn.

The problem with a lot of modern budgets is that they aren’t designed to work. While many people look at their typical monthly spending, they forget about extra expenses like your weekly coffee, or the newspaper you pick up on the way to work. With that in mind, it’s worth starting 2018 with a closer look at your budget, so you can make sure it’s as accurate as possible.

Organise Your Information and Take Your Time

The first thing you need to do when you’re getting an in-depth look at your budget is set aside at least an hour where you can examine the information you have carefully. Rushing your way through the experience makes it more likely that you’ll make mistakes. It’s a good idea to gather all the paperwork you’re going to need before you get started, so make sure you get hold of a few months of bank statements, along with copies of household bills, credit card bills, and savings.

Some people also find it helpful to look at their pension contributions and regular savings accounts too, as this gives a more complete overview of your financial situation.

Evaluate your Income

Once you’ve got all the information you need handy for creating a budget, make a note of your typical earnings from your employment. You should take off any of the money you don’t get to see, such as the amounts used for tax, student loans, pension contributions, and so on. Then add your additional sources of income from investments, savings, self-employment or anything else.

Give yourself an average of what you’ve earned over the last three months, and use that to give yourself a rough idea of what you can expect to earn in the coming months.

Track Your Essential Spending

Now it’s time to start thinking about how much money you spend in a critical way. Categorise your payments so you have an idea of where your cash is going. For instance, you might have categories that include your mortgage payments, childcare, groceries, utility bills, and travel. Then gather your bank statements, credit card bills, and household bills to check you’ve got all the numbers right.

As you did with your income, calculate the total amount spent on essentials over the last three months, then subtract that from your monthly earnings. This will help you to see what your “disposable” income should look like.

It might also be worthwhile to consolidate some of your essential spending into one lower, affordable payment. Particularly if you have a lot of priority debt payments. Sites like Readies.co.uk can advise you on this and help you make an educated and informed decision.

Review Your Disposable Spending

An accurate insight into how you’ve spent your disposable income up until now will help to prevent you from over, or under-budgeting in certain places. Keep track of how much you’ve spent of your disposable income over the last three months so that you can calculate an average. If you put money into savings or an emergency fund, you should keep a note of that too.

This is the point where you might start to discover that you’re spending more than you earn. If this is the case, you need to start re-thinking the way you use your disposable income.

Choose a Budget You Can Stick to

Now that you have an accurate picture of your spending habits, you should be able to draw up a budget that feels more realistic for you to stick to. Use your spending figures for the last three months, and you could even calculate how much money you could potentially save if you can cut down on unnecessary spending.

Just remember that life is an ever-changing thing, and once you’ve drawn up your budget, you’ll need to keep an eye on how faithfully you’re sticking to it and adjust your expectations accordingly. Most experts recommend revisiting your budget every month, as this way, if you’re constantly overspending, you’ll be able to readjust your strategy before it has too much of an impact on your financial goals.

If you have trouble keeping track, you could always try downloading a budgeting application onto your phone or computer that will help you to assess your finances each month.

desk

You know those posts you see on Facebook about untidy desks belonging to genii (or geniuses for you lesser mortals)? Well, I’d like to think my untidy desk is showing signs of my genius too. However, if I am honest with myself, it’s because I have too many ideas, too many hobbies and I’m trying to get too much done in not enough time. So it all piles up and has an incongruous look of efficiency about it …or not – depending who’s looking at it.

My husband is a very patient man and he lets me get away with it most of the time but occasionally he will make a dig, a snide comment about the amount of trash I have collected in my corner of the room.

I have a ton of excuses ready to throw back at him but if the truth be known, he’s right BUT YOU’RE NOT TO TELL HIM.

The twins are fast growing up and also delving into lots of projects of their own. My mess has inspired them to have a go at weaving, to try their hand at sketchbook club and the latest passion – to sew.

After giving Alice a sewing machine for her birthday, it quickly became apparent that she loved it and would be making great use of her gift. The family very helpfully started mentioning projects she could help them with … ripped jeans, dad’s pants that needed mending and various buttons that needed sewing back on to shirts, jackets and trousers. But Alice wants to get creating, she would like to be a fashion designer she says and I would like to encourage that idea. After all, which mother wouldn’t want to be dressed head to toe in designer gear?

desk

Now, sewing can create a lot of ‘mess‘. Apart from the machine, there is fabric, cotton, needles, scissors and all manner of tools that go into making this hobby as enjoyable as it is. So we need a space to keep everything.

As the 4th small bedroom has only ever been used as a dumping ground and occasionally as a guest room, I decided to convert it into a creative space. Husband should be pleased as all manner of crafts can now live there rather than dotted around the living area. I haven’t had time to strip wallpaper and paint the walls but I hope you can look past the outdated decor we inherited 7 years ago and see what it will be soon. I have even been collecting ideas on a Pinterest board to inspire me and maybe you will get more of a feel from there.

To start our creative space we have this sturdy white desk from Kit Out My Office for Alice to sit at and sew, she has been drawing some designs for her first projects and I can’t wait to start helping her make them come to life.

The desk comes flat packed in 3 separate boxes and is easily put together with the help of an electric screwdriver. It didn’t take us long at all. The drawer slots in easily and is a good space to keep all manner of tools. It is sturdy and we chose all white but the drawer face comes in a variety of bright colours to choose from.

fashion designs

We are also going to use this space for my weaving and for keeping our sketchbook club bits and pieces. In fact, as the room has fitted wardrobes, I can see all manner of crafts moving up to this room soon.

Disclosure: We were sent the desk for the purpose of this post. All opinions are my own

Learning to sew

 

It started back at Christmas, ‘Mum can I have a sewing machine please?’ but with one thing and another we just couldn’t add it to the already bursting gift list so, it rolled over to her birthday and for a very long time now Alice has been quietly reminding me, ‘I’d really love a sewing machine mum for my birthday.’ So I thought, why not?

When a child expresses such a deep desire, and we all know they can fizzle out from one moment to the next, maybe we should jump on that train and see where it takes them?

A recent trip to Hobbycraft sealed the request because as we walked into the store we were greeted by a wall of colourful sewing machines, from incy wincy ones right through to professional models. Alice spotted one and fell in love.

Pink. That was all it took.

For once, I was really excited about giving the girls their birthday gifts this year. They have never been huge on lists or knowing what they wanted (unless it is a mobile phone which is still a no) but this year Alice had requested and we had listened.

Watching her open her gift and seeing the joy on her face was a moment I shall remember forever. How could my little girl want a sewing machine?

Along with her sewing machine for kids, I had also wrapped up a Sewing for Beginners book and some fat quarters to get her started.

sewing machine for kids

 

She was itching to begin but life, being what it is, got in the way. It wasn’t until almost a week after her birthday that we finally got the box open and Alice started to sew.

I started her off with some pieces of felt and guided her to use the machine, running different sized stitches up and down, getting used to how the machine works, threading the needle, catching the bobbin underneath and sewing backwards and forwards.

I could see she wanted to move on to making something so we worked out how to make a bag and off she went again. We saw our mistakes and learnt from them and I have a feeling everyone in the family may be receiving handmade gifts this Christmas.

This is an ongoing project and one I know I will have to find the time to be hands on with to help her but I shall find the time, as I know how much this means to her and when your child finds a passion I think you should do everything to make sure it stays alive – move over Coco Chanel, there’s a new lady on the block…

Disclosure: I approached Hobbycraft asking them if they would like to work with me on Alice’s wish list. They sent the beautiful PINK sewing machine pictured in return for this review. All words and thoughts are my own and I want to thank them for making Alice’s dream come true. You can buy one too from around £50

beach house interiors

We just cannot get enough of our beach house at Birchington Vale and due to a busy social schedule (the twins – not ours!), we haven’t been down for a couple of weekends. So we are really looking forward to getting down there on Saturday – after the girl’s sleepover that is!

You know that feeling you get when you are in your favourite place? The world seems at peace so you sit back and relax? That is how our home at the beach makes me feel. We love it so much I could move down to Thanet in a click of my fingers but of course real life butts in and it’s just not possible. Paul would have a 2 hour commute each way, the girls would have to change school and with year 5 looming it’s just not a good idea to move them right now.

So, what’s the next best thing? Well, bring the beach house home!

twins on beach

 

very excited to be part of the Wayfair home experts team, I have collaborated on numerous occasions in the past, like my ‘Shelfie’ post, where I concentrated on wall art in the bedroom. I also created a recipe for them, a classic beef stew which, come the autumn, I shall be putting back on the weekly menu.

Now I am a Home Expert, I will have the opportunity to work on exciting projects with them and I embraced my first challenge, the Blogger’s Picks, with a lot of enthusiasm.

I was asked to go on the Wayfair website and choose six favourite pieces to create a theme. I chose Go Coastal and the above image is my final choice which I put forward.

Wayfair Home expert badge

Beach house interiors

Bar table and stools  

The thing I love most about the summer is the impromptu visits, the barbecues, the drinks, the easy chat in the summer warmth, this bar table and stools is perfect as it is casual but elegant at the same time and can be turned into a dinner table too. should the situation arise.

Kashmir table lamp

I like to create an ambience that shouts out, locally sourced, beach life and rustic. This Kashmir table lamp ticks those boxes in a quiet and understated way.

Ship’s Wheel Wall Decor 

Fun, fun, fun! Why not add a bit of retro to the room and keeping in with the beach theme too. This ship’s wheel decor is most definitely an eye catcher.

Vienne vase 

Pure, classic, simple and beautiful in its own way. I might be tempted to drop shells, driftwood and beach mementoes into my Vienne vase in it as time goes by …

Glass mosaic place mats 

My colours. I can’t stop looking at them and wouldn’t these mosiac place mats work perfectly as an impromptu dinner mat or even a centre table for dips and snacks? LOVE.

Reclaimed wall mirror 

I love reclaimed articles and this wall mirror is a perfect example. It shows great workmanship, it is functional and it has that ‘Im rich but not a show off’ attitude about it. Beautiful.

 

So there you have it, my first challenge completed and I am really pleased with my choices. what do you think? Are you inspired by your environment when decorating the home?