Monday, 4 February 2013

Monthly Meal Planning 2013.02 - February

For this month I've tried to include more fish/seafood into the mix. I'm already noticing a reduction on the weekly grocery shopping bill. As I had already bought bulk meat in previous weeks to freeze, I have been able to get away with buying only a very small amount this week (lamb for Friday night's pizza). It came to around $120 down from the usual $200. I'll have to add up the grocery bills over a few months to see if there is a true saving but it's a good start!

Mel xx

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Monthly Meal Planning 2013.01 - January

After some success with weekly meal planning our dinners last year, I thought I would give monthly meal planning a go in 2013. I started out by listing all of the meals we cook, both regular and irregular ones, and put them under the general headings of mince, meat, chicken, fish and veg. I came up with 46 meals but I knew that we probably only ate about a third of that on a regular basis, tending to fall back on old favourites.

My meal planning goals are:
- Plan monthly, but shop weekly sticking strictly to a list to reduce food wastage. 
- Eat more fish/seafood. We love seafood but rarely eat it at home.
- Hubbie likes to take left overs to work (and so do I for that matter) but there are only certain things we make that a) have enough remaining for left overs and b) taste any good once re-heated so I'm going to try to incorporate meals that taste good as leftovers.
- Start introducing the kids to a wider variety of meals including mild thai and indian curries. Those meals have fallen off our list since we started eating "family" meals.
- Create a family dinner tradition e.g. Friday night home made pizza night.

So ... here was my monthly meal plan for January ...

I did pretty well with shopping to a list and creating meals good for left overs but still need to work on incorporating more fish/seafood into our diets. I enjoyed making pizza's from scratch but I'm wondering I'm going to get sick of eating them every week!

Onto February's meal plan I go! 

Monday, 22 October 2012

Day 10 - 20 Days to Organise & Clean your home Challenge

I am participating in the The Organised Housewife's 20 Days to Organise & Clean your home Challenge. The challenge has now finished, but it's never too late to start and complete it at your own pace like I am. You can find all the information you need know about Day 10's challenge tasks here.

CLEAN oven
Who actually likes cleaning their oven? Certainly not me! I had made a poor attempt at cleaning the oven a couple of months ago and was never really happy with the results. But doing it properly this time around by following Katrina's suggestions (e.g. soaking wire racks in Nappysan in the bath, sprinking Bi-carb soda inside the oven and then spraying vinegar etc) has left me super happy with the results. My oven is now sparkling! I finished it off by covering the grill tray with foil to catch any drips from landing on the bottom of the oven which will hopefully make cleaning it even easier next time.

DE-CLUTTER kitchen cupboards

For this task, I chose to tackle 3 drawers that we use every day but were overflowing with too many items squeezed into each drawer.
In the top drawer we kept our bowls and plates as well as all of the kids plastic plates, bowls, containers and cups. There was way too much plasticware so I did a cull and only kept items I knew I was using daily. Items that I am not currently using have been packed away in an old nappy box, labelled and put under the house. 
The middle drawer housed all of our saucepans and frying pans. It was working fine at the time and I was going to keep it as it was but in the end it needed to be re-organised to cater for some changes I made to the bottom drawer. Some of my ceramic dishes needed to be swapped with my large pot to enable me to fit everything in.
The bottom drawer also needed some serious culling. I put plastic containers I wasn't using out for recycling, gave the left over baby food from Master one to a friend, relocated a silicon baking form to another drawer and moved some of the ceramic dishes up to the middle drawer. I'm really happy with the changes and they are working for us so far!

ORGANISE Tupperware cupboard

My empty (non-Modular Mate) Tupperware containers are kept in the cupboard underneather our stove. It has a top and middle sliding shelf and a standard bottom shelf.
The top shelf was overflowing (hmm... I think I see a pattern forming!!!) and needed a de-clutter and a bit of a re-think. I got out another old nappy box and put all of the Tupperware that I'm no longer using in it to give away or sell. I've kept some spaces free as my Tupperware shelves are constantly changing depending on what I'm using at any one time.
From the middle shelf I removed my old Bamix (stick blender) and its remaining attachments to the nappy box as I haven't used it since getting my Thermomix. I also got rid of some old cheap plastic ware that was no longer needed which left me with some spare space that can now be used for other Tupperware as I rotate through using different pieces.

NEW HABIT cleaning stove
Wiping down the stove after every cook is a great habit to get into but one which I can easily forget or put off until later (which ends up being never). It makes doing a full stove clean (racks and gas heads) quicker and easier so will now form part of my regular kitchen routine.

5 MINUTES ONLY clean splatters from bathroom mirrors

A little while ago I actually started giving the the bathroom sink/bench top and mirror a quick wipe down while the kids were having a bath. Then when it comes to actually cleaning the bathroom a few tasks are already taken care of.

Well, that's another week down and I am officially half way through the challenge! I'm aiming to have the whole challenge completed by Christmas so I'd better get a move on! Bring on Day 11!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Day 9 - 20 Days to Organise & Clean your home Challenge

I am participating in the The Organised Housewife's 20 Days to Organise & Clean your home Challenge. The challenge has now finished, but it's never too late to start and complete it at your own pace like I am.

I have had a few weeks off challenges due to Master One's 1st birthday party, 3 out of the 4 of us getting really sick and then the susequent recovery/catch up period. But I'm keen to get back on track as the house has really deteriorated and I want to reclaim the clean, tidy and calm house it was becoming at the beginning on the challenge. 

So here goes! I am up to Day 9 and rather than bust my guts to complete each day's challenges in one hit, I'm just going to work through completing all of the tasks and maintaining previous focus areas before moving onto the next Day. You can find all the information you need know about Day 9's challenge tasks here.

CLEAN ceiling fans
This may sound a little crazy but I was actually looking forward to this task after cleaning the ceiling fan in our bedroom. It makes me feel a whole lot better about using them as the weather gets warmer, especially in the kid's bedrooms, knowing they are clean and not just flinging dust around the room.

DECLUTTER junk drawer
Like Katrina, I don't really have a junk drawer but my kitchen utensil drawer was a nightmare! I was barely able to close it and was forever wasting time looking for utensils. I had previously purchased some drawer organising trays from the local discount store in preparation for this task so I was all ready to go. I removed all of the utensils, cleaned the drawer, put in the trays and then only put back the utensils I use at least once a week. The remaining utensils that I use less regularly are going in the next drawer down and the rest are going to charity.
ORGANISE calendar/diary
I use a simple A5 diary showing one week across two pages which fits nicely into my handbag. I also have a calendar at home on the wall near the kitchen.
Each week I note:
- work related appointments e.g. meetings, clients
- pay sheet reminder & pay day (very important!)
- kids activities e.g. swimming, play dates, doctor's appointments
- other activities e.g. book club, dinner club, functions, babysitting
- bills due, birthday's, special dates e.g. father's day
- hubbie's work roster and when he will be away

Maintaining both a paper diary and calendar is time consuming to make sure they are both in sink and I don't forget things so I am very keen to investigate how I can do all of this electronically between my phone and computer.... a new task for my to-do list!

NEW HABIT unload the dishwasher
Oh, this just hasn't been my week! The dishwasher has finally decided to die so as much as I would have loved to only have to unload the dishwasher .... I'm now having to hand wash the dishes and then hand dry them as they never seem to fully dry just leaving them in the rack. I am having major dishwasher withdrawals and seem to be forever at the sink washing dishes! I don't have a nice "after" photo to share of that lovely clear benchtop/sink I was loving so much as I haven't seen it the dishwasher broke :(

But a suprisingly positive note has been an improvement in the condition of my hands as whenever I go to put gloves on to do the washing, I lather them in moisturiser first and the heat helps it to absorb... no more dry, cracked hands for me! Now I just need to keep the moisturising up when our new dishwasher arrives!

5 MINUTES ONLY dust around the lights in each room of the house

Done and dusted ;) but another job had been added to the to-do list and that is to clean inside the lights .... it's amazing how many bugs get stuck in light bowl ... ewwww!

Phew, another week down and I am up to Week 10 .... almost half way!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

My first blogging award - the Liebster Award!

I was so excited that the lovely Allison from UtterleyOrganised: Business + Lifestyle + Events chose to nominate my pre-blog Facebook page for a Liebster Award way back on the 8th August 2012. Life has been a bit hectic since then so I’m just getting around to “paying it forward” now...  oh well, better late than never!

So what is a Liebster Award? The award is given to support and recognise up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers (on their blog) or likers (on their Facebook page). The word “Liebster” apparently has German origins and is reported to mean sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. By following some basic rules (answer 11 questions set by your nominee, write 11 questions of your own and pass the award onto 11 other bloggers to answer) it enables readers to get to know new bloggers and connect with a wider audience.

Allison’s questions for me were:
1. What is your all time favourite movie?

This was a really hard first question for me as I’m not really a huge movie buff. But I do recall absolutely loving The Man From Snowy River growing up and wanted to learn the piano just so I could play the theme song.

2. Did you finish High School?

I completed High School and had no idea what I wanted to do so I enrolled in a Bachelor of Health Science degree but deferred for a year first. I was only 17 and felt I needed a year to get my driver’s licence, get some money behind me and grow up a bit before moving out of home. During my first year at Uni I completed work experience in different allied health fields and decided to transfer across to the Bachelor of Speech Pathology degree which I completed 4 years later.

3. What was your first job?

My first job was as a babysitter and I started this when I was about 14 years old. My mum would drop me off and the people I was babysitting for would drive me home. I sometimes would babysit for up to 6 hours and be excited to come home with a $20 note!!! How things have changed!

4. Are you a bit of a hoarder, or do you like to get rid of everything?

Ha ha ha! Hoarder is such a nasty word, isn’t it? Ok, so I may have too much stuff but since having two children and accumulating twice as much stuff as before I am now on a de-cluttering mission to simplify our home and get organised! I am 9 days into The Organised Housewife’s 20 days to organise and clean your home challenge and I’m loving the results so far. It is certainly a work in progress but I’m getting lots of inspiration and motivation from organising blogs to keep me on track.

5. How many children do you have?

We have two delightful boys – Master two-and-a-half and Master one. They look like twins born 18 months apart but have totally different personalities. Master two-and-a-half is a real thinker just like his Daddy while Master one is a little social butterfly just like me!

6. Do you have a hobby that you pursue?

I love walking, cooking and travelling but since having kids the hobby at the top of my list would have to be reading. It is both something I enjoy for learning and relaxation but I also use it as a sneaky procrastination tool! I love reading books, magazines, blogs, anything! Blogging is a new hobby which satisfies both the reader and writer in me. I’m really enjoying documenting our parenting journey and sharing it with new people but am struggling to find the time to blog on a regular basis.

7. How old were you when you got your first mobile phone?

I was 18 years old and my brother had to go guarantor for me as at that stage I didn’t even have a credit card. It was an NEC Fido and I thought I’d finally grown up when I got one!

8. How often do you see your friends?

We are lucky enough to have quite a few different friendship groups where we live. On average we see our friends 1-3 times a week and that includes play dates with mother’s group/friends, lunch/dinner with friends who also have kids and our weekly Dinner Club where we are the only couple with children.

9. What 3 words would you use to describe you?

(I cheated and asked my hubbie this one) Loving, conscientious, mummy

10. Coke or Pepsi?

I used to drink Diet Coke and Coke Zero but reduced my caffeine intake to one coffee a day while trying to fall pregnant and have since lost the taste for fizzy drinks! I’m now mostly a coffee girl.

11. What is your favourite piece of clothing you own?

I am a fashion tragic! My favourite piece of clothing would have to be the Intimo LBD Skirt. Prior to having my babies I used to wear it as a dress, but during my pregnancies and ever since it has dropped to a super comfortable (and tummy flattering) ¾ length skirt!

My nominees (in no particular order):

Questions for my nominees:

1.      How long have you been blogging/had a Facebook page for?

2.      Why did you start blogging?

3.      What should you be doing right now, instead of blogging?

4.      Name 3 items you could grab from where you are sitting

5.      Are you a morning or evening person?

6.      What book are you currently reading?

7.      Where were you born?

8.      How many times in your life have you moved and where to?

9.      Are you a coffee or tea drinker?

10.   What is the next country on your travel wish list?

11.   Are you spontaneous or a planner?

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Day 8 - 20 Days to Organise & Clean your home Challenge

I am participating in the The Organised Housewife's 20 Days to Organise & Clean your home Challenge. If you haven't already signed up, it's not too late to start! Just follow this link to subscribe.

It is Saturday night and I have FINALLY completed Wednesday's (Day 8) challenge focus area which was A ROOM OF YOUR CHOICE. You can find all the information you need know about Day 8's challenge tasks here.

CLEAN kids toy room, craft room, spare room or extra living room (one only).

This is one of the few occasions that I'm thankful that we don't live in a huge house ... less to clean! We live in quite a small house by today's McMansion standards (3 bed, 1 bath) so most of the room's in our house are dual purpose. Our living room is also the toy room, Master two-and-a-bit's room is also the office and Master almost-one's room is also the guest bedroom.
So for this task, instead on focusing on another room, I just tidied up previous areas we've covered and got everything back in order after my two days of work. It took me a bit longer than I expected (hence why I'm writing this post on Saturday night!) and I'm amazed at how quickly the house deteriorates if I don't stay on top of things!

DE-CLUTTER kids toys

Yay! I've been looking forward to this challenge as the kid's toys are really starting to overtake our lounge room. I found a spare plastic box, put books and toys that aren't currently being used in it and then put it under the house. I wasn't able to get the same sized baskets (from K-Mart) to match the ones we already had so ended up buying 5 new red canvas baskets from Bunnings and they fit perfectly! I think black would have looked a bit more stylish but the red goes with our couch cushions and a canvas above our TV so doesn't look too out of place. The books and toys are now sorted into categories, I just need to make some tags so hopefully they stay that way!

ORGANISE family responsibility system

I want my boys to be responsible and independent from a young age so have been gently encouraging Master two-and-a-bit since he was about 18 months old to help with daily chores according to his interests. I also found that I was using up valuable time while the boys were asleep doing chores, so decided to incorporate them into their awake hours so they learn that things just don't magically happen while they sleep! He currently helps with the following tasks:
- unpack the dishwasher (and not a single break yet!)
- recycling into the bin
- puts things in the bin and takes the recycling out
- puts his dirty clothes in washing basket in the bathroom- helps feed our dog and our two new pet chickens!
- pick up toys (he's going through a great "packing away" phase at the moment)
- collects the mail
- help bring the bins in after collection day

NEW HABIT tidy a shelf (in kid's bedroom) every 2-3 nights
I think this is a great idea and will hopefully mean less work when we tackle the kid's bedrooms in future challenges. The boy's don't have built-in's in their rooms so I'm using an Ikea Billy bookcase to store Master two-and-a-bit's clothes. Even after tidying these shelves it is quite obvious he has way too many clothes, so another item to put on my to-do list is to downsize his clothes collection.

5 MINUTES ONLY revisit the main bedroom
I love that our bedroom now only takes 5 minutes to get back into shape and I can't believe I resisted making our bed each day for so long :)

We have a big week coming up this week, with Master almost-one having his 1st Birthday party here at home on Saturday, which we just found out is the same morning he starts swimming lessons with his big brother. With organising and catering for the party as well as working an extra day this week, I have realised I can't do it all so I'm having this week off challenges. I hope everyone has a fabulous week and I'm looking forward to getting back into challenges next week!

Mel xx

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Day 7 - 20 Days to Organise & Clean your home Challenge

I am participating in the The Organised Housewife's 20 Days to Organise & Clean your home Challenge. If you haven't already signed up, it's not too late to start! Just follow this link to subscribe.

It is Tuesday night and I have just completed today's (Day 7) challenge focus area which was the FRIDGE. You can find all the information you need know about Day 7's challenge here.

CLEAN the fridge
As you can see from the before photo my fridge needed a big clean out. It was dirty, cluttered and I was struggling to find old items and fit in new ones. I started out by taking everything out and separating it all into two piles - keep and throw away. Above is my throw away pile and is comprised of items past their used by date or fresh items no longer very fresh! I was really disappointed to see how much food I was throwing away and I am hoping that by doing weekly meal planning I can prevent wastage like this.
I then washed all of the shelves and vegie crispers, and wiped down the inside of the fridge before returning the shelves back into place. I tried to place like items, such as jars of curry paste, together to make it easier to find things in the future. I'd also like to try The Organised Housewife's method of storing cut vegetables in Tupperware instead of the vegie crispers in the hope of them lasting that bit longer.

DE-CLUTTER cookbooks.

I really like cookbooks but am finding myself referring to them less and less as I use the internet to access recipes. All I have to do is find a recipe I like and then just take my laptop into the kitchen with me and follow the recipe straight from screen.
So I sorted through my collection and put all of the magazines out for recycling, found a new home for all of my Weight Watchers information and cookbooks, and put some books aside for donation. While the remaining books look tidy, I know I probably need to reduce this number further. I am going to track which books I use over the next few months and then do a further cull.

ORGANISE meal planning

I began meal planning a couple of months ago and now sit down every Sunday night and plan a week of meals before I do the grocery shopping on Monday. This is my plan for this week:

Monday: Satay chicken with vegies on rice
Tuesday: Crispy chicken soft tacos
Wednesday: Thai pumpkin soup and toast
Thursday: Beef ravioli with a tomato and herb sauce and garlic bread
Friday: Homemade beef burgers with caremlised onion and salad
Saturday: Basil pesto pasta with chicken, pine nutes and parmesan
Sunday: Left overs

NEW HABIT meal plan once a week, fortnight of month

As I already meal plan weekly, I'm going to give doing it fortnightly a try and see how I go!

5 MINUTES ONLY wipe over kitchen appliances

I finished off today's challenge with a quick wipe over of the appliances that remain on my benchtop using a damp Norwex Antibacterial Envirocloth. Probably not as shiny as if I had used a stainless steel product but they still look pretty good :)
Tomorrow's focus area is a room of your choice e.g. toy room, craft room, spare bedroom, extra living room etc. Just like last week, I'm having two days off challenges while I head off to work, but I will be back and ready to roll on Friday! Our house is quite small so most of our rooms have dual purposes. Our lounge room is also where all of the boy's toys are kept so the toy section of this room is what I've chosen for Friday.
Mel xx