January 2012 | Modern Mummy

Monday, 30 January 2012

Meal Planning Monday - w/c 30 January 2012

I managed to keep to all my planned meals last week so am joining in with Mrs M's linky again today! I really enjoyed reading everyone else's contributions and have been inspired to try a few new recipes this week.

I'm off to the shops this afternoon and am hoping to reduce my budget even further this week having done a 'stock take' of everything in my freezer and cupboards. Which brings me nicely onto my first budgeting tip for this week....

Take stock of what you've got. In the past I have been terrible for buying stuff I already have lurking at the back of the cupboard or in the vegetable drawers of the fridge. Before you even compose your shopping list, have a rummage around and see what's there. My second tip is to use everything you buy. If things are starting to look past their prime then use them up. Got some veg that isn't going to last much longer? Some cream that's open and needs to be eaten? Make a vegetable soup! Once it has been cooked you can freeze it, or keep it in the fridge for a couple more days. Got some bacon that needs to be eaten? Incorporate it into one of your meals. I really do think that food waste is a crime and I am determined to stop doing it!

So my meal plan for this week (and I'm sticking to dinners only as my fellow planners do).

Pasta with arrabiata sauce and homemade garlic & parmesan bread (see recipe here)

Pesto chicken salad with leftover homemade garlic & parmesan bread

Extremely virtuous mixed bean chilli with rice, sour cream and salad (see recipe here)

Homemade lentil burgers with salad and sweet potato wedges (recipe to follow)

Baked salmon, new potatoes, broccoli & green beans

Cold, thick carved ham (from deli) with salad, potato salad and corn on the cob

Roast pork & crackling with all the trimmings

Now I'm off to see everyone else's meal ideas over at At Home With Mrs M xoxox

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Bags of Love - Personalised Gifts: A Review

The wonderful people over at Bags of Love recently sent me two B.E.A.Utiful personalised canvases and I am so excited to show them to you!

As you all know, I am a big fan of the numerous photography apps available on the iPhone (have you seen my current top five? Have a wee looky here). But I have yet to find somewhere that prints them off and I know that pretty much everyone this side of the Atlantic is in the same boat.

Look no further, fellow photographers. I had two Instagram photos printed onto 30x30 canvases and THEY LOOK AMAZING!

The quality really is outstanding. The canvases are exceptionally well made and the quality of the printing is absolutely perfect - which I must admit I was a teeny tiny bit concerned about, knowing that the resolution on these type of images isn't the highest.

My pictures are hanging in pride of place in my living room and I can't wait to order a whole lot more to fill up the entire wall!

Bags of Love sell every personalised gift imaginable, from photo books to printed bags and blankets and place mats to cards and calendars. And if you order before 2pm, the majority of products will be dispatched the same day! With Valentine's Day and Mother's Day coming up, you'd be daft not to head over to their website for gift inspiration. I cannot recommend this company highly enough, and I am so thrilled to finally have found someone that can make beautiful prints of my iPhone photos. Be sure to check them out! xoxox

Thursday, 26 January 2012

A Crafty Idea for a Rainy Day

There's nothing like a bit of painting to lift the spirits when you're stuck indoors on a rainy day. And that is exactly what Daisy and I got up to on Tuesday afternoon.

Our project was to decorate a plain wooden picture frame as a gift for someone. We'd bought the frame in the crafty section of Squires for £5.99 but I'm sure you could get similar untreated wooden frames much cheaper - in Ikea or charity shops perhaps.

Armed with poster paints, a selection of paint brushes and a protective table mat we were off.

Here's the finished product! Daisy painted it all by herself. I want to keep it! I hope Daisy's auntie likes it. xoxox

Monday, 23 January 2012

Meal Planning Monday - w/c 23 January 2012

I'm a new reader of Mrs M's blog, and the feature I like the most about it is Meal Planning Monday.

This week I thought I would add my tuppence worth to Mrs M's linky, with a list of what will be eaten in the Modern Mummy household over the coming seven days.

I plan to make a habit out of this and am going to add a little twist to my entries -sharing relevant budgeting advice and tips to my plan.

Budgeting is something I have to do these days. In ye days of olde I would happily stroll round the supermarket (yes, I'm one of those freaks that actually enjoys doing the weekly shop!) throwing whatever took my fancy into the trolley and ending up with a bill of well over £100 every week. These days I have to look after my pennies a hell of a lot more and so meal planning and list writing has become the norm.

I am not a budget shopper - I still like my brands and my treats - but by being organised, making lists, sticking to them and paying attention to best before dates I have managed to halve my weekly food bill - and I very rarely have food waste these days. You can't knock that.

So without further ado, here is our lunch and dinner menu for this week.....

Lunch- Cheese and spring onions on toast with homemade tomato and basil soup (from frozen)
Dinner- Sausage and bean casserole (click here for recipe) with home made crusty bread

Lunch- Open ham salad sandwiches (leftover crusty bread), mini baby bels, homemade potato salad
Dinner- Thai green curry with rice (recipe to follow)

Lunch- Grilled halloumi pittas, sugar snap peas
Dinner- Pasta with bolognese sauce (click here for recipe)

Lunch- As Tuesday
Dinner- Bangers, mash (incl carrot & swede), peas & broccoli and onion gravy

Lunch- Jacket potatoes with tuna, mayo, peppers and onions
Dinner- Chilli con carne

Lunch- As Monday - with fresh homemade cream of root vegetable soup (recipe to follow)
Dinner- Omelettes (using up any leftover veg from the week)

Lunch- Lazy roast chicken, with roast potatoes and parsnips, yorkshire puds, carrots and peas
Dinner- Cheese and tomato on toast

I spent a very reasonable £44 in Tesco this week. That included breakfast and snacks (which tend to be the same every week - cereal or eggs for breakfast and an overflowing fruit bowl and yoghurts for snacking on), 7x lunches and 7x dinners. I also bulk bought some cat food on special offer and got washing powder and fabric conditioner.

Here are my two budgeting tips for this week.

1. Pay attention to the special offers.
A lot of special offers aren't particularly special (take the £1.55 each or 2 for £3 offer Tesco do on milk; is it really worth saving 10p if you're going to pour the second bottle of milk down the sink?) If you pay attention though you really can get some bargains. I found a buy-one-get-TWO-free deal on toothpaste and baked beans this week, Pogg's cat food (usually £6 a bag) was two for £8, and Persil non-bio was virtually half price (£7.15 down to £4).

2. Freeze
I buy fresh and home freeze. Frozen bread is perfect for toast, and some meat can be bought in the larger and more economical family packs, divided up into portion sizes and frozen for use at a later date. Also, don't be afraid of the butcher's counter in your local supermarket. I find it actually works out cheaper to buy single chicken breasts rather than the larger packs and I often get my sausages from there too as we don't eat them very often. Batch cooking and freezing is another money - and time! - saver. In particular I like to freeze homemade pasta sauces and soups; they are both so easy and cheap to make and they are the 'ready meals' you are most likely to be tempted by on lazy days when you want comfort food but can't be arsed to cook from scratch.

Head over to At Home with Mrs M for more meal planning inspiration.xoxox

Potty Training---- Have We Cracked It?

Today is the start of week four in our potty training quest and, touch wood, it seems to be going very well.

As you may have read in my last blog post on the subject, I decided that the best way to go about it would be to stock up on essentials and brace ourselves to spend the whole of the first week indoors. A bit over the top perhaps but definitely an approach I would recommend as after just two days of accidents-aplenty (there's no denying it, there were definitely more wees on the floor than in the potty), madam suddenly got the hang of weeing on The Big Girls Toilet and we haven't looked back! She tells me before she needs to go, has learnt to pull her own trousers/tights and knickers down (and pull them back up again) and she has mastered the art of 'holding on' which is very handy when you're in the shopping centre and the toilets are three floors up!

After 14 dry nights I decided that last night would be the first night of Operation Knickers at Night-time. I reduced madam's bedtime milk to half a cup and we practiced shouting "MUMMY I NEED TO GO TO TOILET" in case of emergencies in the middle of the night.

I am very proud to announce to all that are interested in my daughter's lavatory habits, that Daisy successfully woke up once in the night to wee and then went back to bed no problems and woke up this morning having had no mishaps whatsoever.

Of course I'm not expecting there to never be another mistake again, but I'm dead proud of my big girl and definitely think we went the right way about getting there. Is that it now? No more nappies?! Eeeeeeeeppp!

****COMING SOON: The Modern Mummy Guide to Potty Training eBook****

****Register your interest by commenting here or emailing katyearley17 (at) gmail (dot) com****

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Monday, 9 January 2012

White Chocolate Cookies

With the potty training cabin fever well and truly setting in now (we are on day 8 and *touches wood* pretty close to cracking it I think) Daisy and I decided to spend this morning baking cookies.

You all know how therapeutic I find any type of baking, but baking cookies is something else..... the SMELL as those little beauties are crisping up in the oven is just amazing. Also, aside from over cooking (read: burning) them, there really is no way anyone can bugger up the preparation process. You just sling all the ingredients into a bowl and mix. It's great fun for little people, plus they get to lick the spoon and eat all the leftover dough (if they're quick enough; Daisy beat me to it this time).

What you need:
A mixing bowl
A wooden spoon
A baking tray
Some greaseproof paper
Rolling pin and shape cutters optional

Ingredients (Makes 10):
100g softened butter
150g brown sugar
150g plain flour (and more for dusting)
1x egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp bicarb of soda
Pinch of salt
White chocolate chips/a chocolate bar broken up into small pieces

What to do:
Preheat the oven to 170c.
Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the egg and vanilla extract, and then the flour, salt and bicarb.
Mix together until a dough is formed and then add the chocolate chips.
Then either divide into ten balls and flatten into cookie shapes before placing on a lined baking tray or, if you are using cookie cutters, lightly dust your work surface before rolling out the dough and cutting the shapes out.
Bake for about ten mins (or until going golden brown at the edges - feel free to open the oven door to check, this won't affect the end result!) and enjoy any leftover dough while you're waiting for the oven to work its magic.
Serve warm! A dollop of Green & Blacks Vanilla ice cream is a pretty awesome accompaniment.

Enjoy xoxox


Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Let the Potty Training Commence....

Happy new year one, happy new year all! I hope you had super wonderful Christmases; Daisy and I certainly did.

With every new year comes new years resolutions. Aside from the usual detox and great plans for Modern Mummy (more on that under a separate post) my main resolution this year is to potty train madam.

I had been thinking about it for about four months. I'd done a bit of background reading and asked other mums for their advice. I bought a potty so that Daisy could 'get used to it', let her choose lots of pairs of knickers (Peppa and Charlie & Lola were the favourites) and started looking out for the tell tale signs. I thought she was ready at the beginning of December but wanted to wait until I had the time to spend a whole week (or as longer if necessary!) at home. What better week than the first one of January. When it's cold and depressing and the whole world is exhausted, skint and heading back to work. A few PJ days indoors with the heating cranked up and a bit of daytime telly. Yes please!


We started on Monday and, three days in, things seem to be going well. We have a reward chart and stickers and a vast supply of chocolate buttons for bribery. We've had the heating on and Daisy has been running around in bare legs and knickers to avoid the risk of lots of pairs of wet trousers. She seems to prefer the Peppa toilet trainer (and Peppa step) over the actual potty and the accidents are getting fewer and the successes are increasing. Madam got TWELVE STARS on her reward chart today! She was very proud of herself indeed. Fingers crossed tomorrow is equally successful and by the end of the week we are able to venture out of the house again. (I must confess the cabin fever is beginning to get to me!)

If anyone else is thinking of starting potty training soon, here are a few hints and tips.

A few tell tale signs that your toddler might be ready are:

~ They can walk, sit down and get up
~ They can communicate with you i.e. tell you when they need to go and have words for 'wee' and 'poo'
~ They don't like being in a dirty nappy and ask you to change it straight away
~ They are able to undress themselves

Brace yourselves! Buy the necessary equipment (potty/toilet trainer/step/heaps of knickers or pants), bribes and rewards (Daisy has been more excited by the stickers than the chocolate). Be prepared to stay indoors until you've cracked it. Praise all the successes and don't mention the accidents.

I'll keep you posted about how we get on. Good luck to the rest of you that will be giving it a go soon too xoxox
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