Tuesday, 23 February 2010

So many awards, so little time...

I love getting blog awards. No really, I do. And I have been very fortunate of late to have been the very lucky recipient of more than a few.

 I will never be a 'top blogger' as you all know, as I bleat on about far too much misery for that. And I wouldn't say this blog is generally an uplifting read. Nor is it full of inspiring things to make and do, or pearls of wisdom, or funny stories. My writing style can best be described as waffling meandering, and is no doubt full of spelling and grammatical errors.  So why do I receive them ? I am truly mystified as I'm not sure I would read this drivel.  Whilst I'm sure there is an element of 'can I find a blog that hasn't already received this one' I hope that it is the honesty in what I write that brings people here.  I write about real life.  My real life, the good, the bad and the ugly.  No sugar coating.  With all this in mind perhaps you can appreciate why these awards mean so much to me.

Anyway...onto the business in hand.  First off The Sunshine Award.  What a lovely little award this is!  I love the picture don't you ?  Just what we need in these cold, damp, grey and miserable days.  A little bit of summer.

I was given this award by The Moiderer, Make Do Mum, Rosie Scribble, The Life Of Wendy Wife, and Very Bored In Catalunya.  Gosh!  Thank you :-)

I know that I'm supposed to pass this on but frankly it's been around for so long now that I'm sure everyone else has not only received it more than once, but has also already blogged about receiving it, so I think I've missed the boat on that one.

Now, you might be thinking that that is all.  But no.  I have another to share with you.

I received this from Nic over at Diary Of A Domestically Challenged Housewife.  This one comes with caveats ie recommending blogs, telling untold truths about yourself etc.  I think I've already mentioned a few of the blogs I read so you can all assume yourself to be lucky winners, and here are a few more...Chic Mamma, More Than Just a Mother, English Mum, Muddling Along Mummy, and TheMadHouse.

As for the untold truths, I don't have time for that particular part today, but suffice to say that I will do another post on some of the fabulous things I've done, places I've visited during my few years of 'living the dream'.  In the meantime you can hop over to this post and read up on some little known facts that I spilled back then.


Monday, 22 February 2010

Menu Planning Monday

Well, belatedly once again, here is my menu planning post. It really would make sense to prepare this post on a Sunday and schedule for a Monday morning but alas I'm not that organised. Time always runs away from me. Last weeks menu plan was a complete waste of time as, due to my feeling decidedly under the weather, much of the catering arrangements turned out to be of the 'everyone fend for themselves' ilk. This week will be a little unusual too. The Daddy and I are going out for a belated valentines lunch at our local Michelin starred restaurant, L'ortolan, on Wednesday and we are also out for lunch at friends on Sunday, so that's two days without having to cook.

Anyway, enough of my drivel...

Star - Spaghetti bolognese with wholemeal spagetti, Bangbang Chicken goujons, bread, broccoli, parsnips, sweet potato, piece of fruit, carob raisins
The Seniors - Roast chicken and vegetables

Star - Chicken risotto, sweet potato, broccoli, parsnip, fish bites, bread, piece of fruit, carob raisins
The Seniors - Chicken risotto

Star - Chicken risotto, fish fingers, sweet potato, parsnip, runner neans, bread, piece of fruit, carob raisins
The Seniors - Out for lunch

Star - Roast chicken dinner, parsnip, broccoli, sweet potato, bread, fish bites, piece of fruit, carob raisins
The Seniors - Minted lamb chops and vegetables

Star - Chilli con carne with brown basmati rice, fish bites, carrot, broccoli, green beans, bread, piece of fruit, carob raisins
The Seniors - Chicken, bacon and mushroom pie with vegetables.

Star - Spaghetti bolognese with wholemeal spaghetti, fish fingers, carrot, broccoli, parsnips, bread, piece of fruit, carob raisins
The Seniors- Spaghetti bolognese with wholemeal spaghetti

All - out for lunch

I will now endeavour to put a MckLinky below, so that should you decide to do a menu planning post, or would like to share a recipe, you can link it here.


Saturday, 20 February 2010

A Little Bit of Housekeeping

If you haven't already found your way to my new 'About Me' page I thought I should spend a few minutes explaining some of the changes I've made.

I have been blogging for a few months now, and as expected it has taken a few unexpected turns.  I feel that it has the potential to become too varied in it's post content and in doing so, there would be too many posts that were not of interest to too many of my readers.  This blog is a personal blog, about me, how I feel, what I think and my thoughts on being a stay at home mum.  Separate to this I am also interested in cooking and crafts, and holistic health and wellbeing.  Whilst there will inevitably be crossover between these areas, they are also very separate and not necessarily appealing to the readers of this blog.

So, rather than bore you all I have decided to set up two new blogs, which will cover these two other areas.  I don't expect to be doing regular posts to these, but I will be using it as a place to regularly store online articles that I have found to be interesting/informative/useful on these subjects, and would like to share. is where you will find recipes, craft tutorials, and more detailed posts about my craft endeavours.  However I won't be moving my new menu planning posts at the moment.  They will be staying put. is where you will find all things related to holistic health and wellbeing, alternative medicine, complimentary therapies and so on.  I should explain that my views are not too 'far out' but there is alot that we can do to stay well, aside from orthodox medicine, if only people knew.

I will of course tweet the links to new posts, but please do hop over and have a look.  If you like what you see, there is a subscribe button too :-)

Friday, 19 February 2010

A snapshot view of the nature v nurture debate

Last night, The Daddy was telling me about a conversation he'd had with a client about the nature/nurture debate, and how said client feels it has impacted his own family.

The Daddy and I are the type of parents that spend alot of time thinking and talking about how we are bringing up our son, and our hopes and dreams for him.  I spend hours researching what we can do to ensure the best outcomes for him, and not a stone is left unturned.  But, having said all of that, I am not a pushy parent, and am not interested in how he compares to other children.  I simply want him to be the best that he can be, in all things.   And when I say in all things, I mean all things.  I want him to be confident, and kind.  I want him to be sociable, and charming.  I want him to be sporty, musical, well mannered, academic...Of course I realise that no one person can excel at everything.  But I see my job as ensuring that he can both witness and experience 'everything', so that he is able to discover what it is he can excel at, and have opportunities open to him.  

Anyway, back to the client.  This chap has seven children ranging in age from mid teens to early thirties.  All seven passed their 11+ exam without coaching or additional tuition, and went to the local grammar schools.  So far, two have gone to Oxford Uni, and two have gone to medical school.  The two that went to med school both became registrars in their 20's.  The Oxford graduate is heading up a major software development project for one of the biggest players and earning a big six figure salary.  Their father claims that they are also kind, generous, happy human beings.  Now, call me old fashioned, but it seems to me that this family has been doing something very right, so The Daddy asked him what his secret was.

He explained that he believes all his children inherited a good basic level of intelligence, so genetically had the potential.  Other than that he said the main thing he did was to read to all his children, individually, every night before bed, until the age of 15.  He also said that he always looked at their homework, and questioned/challenged them on it.  He said that to get into med school, you need to be able to demonstrate a long standing commitment to things like volunteering, sport and/or music.  

It seems to me that the one thing he didn't identify specifically, but comes across loud and clear, is that he invested time in his children. And lots of it. He took an interest in them and in what they were doing, and he gave them opportunities.  

Although this is just one small case study, it has given me the confidence to believe that my approach is not misguided.  Genetically, Star is very fortunate in the academic department.  I took all my exams between a year and eighteen months early and The Daddy won an academic scholarship to a very academic public school.  It is now our job to ensure that he has the opportunity to make the most of this.  Star will not be 'pushed' but, as I've said before, will be polished and protected to enable him to shine brightly for all his days.


Wednesday, 17 February 2010

How Did I Get This Lucky? Part 2

A short while ago you may recall reading a post about how lucky I was to have such a marvellous husband.  You may also recall that I stated at the outset that I didn't generally consider myself a lucky person.  Today, or the last 24 hours, has been one of 'those days' and I am about to share it with you.  I will apologise in advance for the rather self pitying tone, but I am ill, so it's allowed :P
  • Star refused to eat his dinner last night and there were tears.  And they were not his.
  • On Thursday I was due to have someone come over and look after Star.  This is a paid arrangement so it's not someone 'doing me a favour'.  I had a text last night to say that she wouldn't be able to make it as she has a cold.  SO DO I.
  • I had a miserably poor nights sleep, and woke this morning feeling, well, rough.  Bad cold, sore throat, sore tonsils, weak and feeble. Getting the picture ?  I don't usually get ill, and can only remember one other similar occasion in the last 12 mths, but more of that later.
  • On the rare occasion that I do succumb to these types of bugs my usual strategy is to dose myself up to the max with cold care capsules so that I don't actually realise that I'm feeling under the weather, whilst taking mega doses of vitamin C to get myself better.  It works a treat.  However, this time I don't want to take said cold care capsules, just in case I may be pregnant.  I know that technically they are safe to take but I don't believe in taking anything when pregnant unless the ailment itself is likely to seriously damage me or the baby.  So I don't.  I have to rely on the vitmain c (yes it is safe in pregnancy), Manuka honey lozenges, and manuka and lemon in hot water.  Thank goodness for shrove tuesday.  I'm sure all this is doing a fantastic job of ensuring I get better quicker, but in the meantime I'm still feeling rank.
  • Star decides that he is going to make breakfast difficult.  I hate difficult mealtimes and find it the most difficult thing to deal with.  This is usually the only meal of the day that goes without a hitch.  We get through it successfully, eventually, but today of all days!
  • I go back to bed, having passed the parenting baton to The Daddy (note-first bit of good luck of the day) to sleep for as long as I am able. The Daddy will give Star his lunch and put him to bed if I'm still sleeping.  I am enjoying a lovely sleep, when stepson decides to slam his bedroom door.  Not in a 'I'm not very happy' kind of way, but a 'I can't be arsed to use the handle' kind of way.  The result is the same though as I am awake.  I make a concerted effort to go back to sleep, and am just getting to that lovely floaty, half conscious stage when stepson drops the toilet seat or lid down in the bathroom.  BANG.  Awake again.  This time I gave up, and got up.
  • Star's lunch is well under way, the bread machine has been put on and the kitchen tidied.  All good things, thanks got it.  I suggested that some KFC comfort food would be perfect for lunch and The Daddy went off to collect, whilst I put Star to bed.  KFC arrived and...oh, everything is in the bag...except mine.  I make do with a chicken leg and a hot wing. 
  • Meanwhile, our power goes off.  Thankfully it is only off for 15mins, but long enough to ruin the bread. 
  • I decide to do a blog post about my miserable day.  I go into Blogger, and start typing.  Blogger decides to apply the 'strike though' text to everything I type.  I try to remove it, but it won't let me.  I shut it down and go in again.  The same.  I open it in a different browser.  The same.  So, out of desperation I am doing this post in my posterous blog and hoping I can post it through to blogger from there.  We will see, but the way today is going I have a feeling this could be fraught with danger.
I think I'm feeling particularly miserable as the last time I felt ill like this I was pregnant and about to miscarry.  Can't help wondering if it's a sign that the same is about to happen ?

Oh, and I just read a blog post, which I'm sure you've all read, that says if you want to be a top blogger you shouldn't write posts that whinge and are miserable.  Well, I guess that means I'm out of the running for that particular mantle.  Still, my good luck charm will be home soon and things will be looking up.


Monday, 15 February 2010

Menu Planning Monday

Week two here we come.  No change in my or Star's breakfast and lunch arrangements as outlined in last weeks post, but this week The Daddy and my step son (11) will also be here.  They usually have eggs of some desciption for breakfast, and join me in sarnies or leftovers for lunch.  So here is the dinner Menu Plan for Geriatric Towers...

Star - Chilli Con Carne with brown basmati rice, Bangbang Chicken goujons, bread, broccoli, parsnips, sweet potato, piece of fruit, carob raisins
The Seniors - Chilli Con Carne with brown basmati rice

Star - Spaghetti bolognese with wholemeal spagetti, sweet potato, broccoli, parsnip, fish bites, bread, piece of fruit, carob raisins
The Seniors - Slow cooked Spicy Pork and Pepper Goulash with brown basmati rice

Star - Roast chicken, fish fingers, sweet potato, parsnip, runner neans, bread, piece of fruit, carob raisins
The Seniors - Roast chicken and vegetables

Star - Roast chicken dinner, parsnip, broccoli, sweet potato, bread, fish bites, piece of fruit, carob raisins
The Seniors - Minted lamb chops and vegetables

Star - Thai green chicken curry, brown basmati rice, wholemeal noodles, fish bites, carrot, broccoli, green beans, bread, piece of fruit, carob raisins
The Seniors - Thai green chicken curry, brown basmati rice, wholemeal noodles

Star - Chicken risotto, fish fingers, carrot, broccoli, parsnips, bread, piece of fruit, carob raisins
The Seniors- Chicken risotto

Star - Chicken risotto, fish fingers, carrot, broccoli, parsnips, bread, piece of fruit, carob raisins
The Seniors - Sticky Chicken traybake.

As before the MckLinky is below for you to add your menu plan or a favourite recipe if you prefer.


Sunday, 14 February 2010

My Special Valentines Memory

Valentines day 2008 is one valentines day that I'll never forget.

In 2008 business was booming and The Daddy and I found ourselves in the very privileged position of being able to indulge ourselves.  In fact 2007/8 was a period full of what dreams are made of.  But, as you will know from previous blog posts, life is not all about what you have and where you go.

In October 2007 we started down the assisted conception road, and it was agreed that we would have three attempts at IUI, before the clinic felt we should consider IVF.  Not being desperate to have children I was thinking that IVF was a step too far for me so in all likelihood our three IUI's would be our only chance .  Our first cycle went to plan, with a single dominant follicle maturing nicely, but was unsuccessful.  Ditto the second.  On our third and final attempt, things did not go quite so smoothly.  At the first scan, I had one dominant follicle, at the second scan it appeared to be maturing, but at the third scan it had receded and another follicle had stated to grow.  This follicle reached maturity and on 3rd Feb 2008 we had the IUI, only one day later than previously. I was convinced that it couldn't possibly work.  The follice that matured was a 'last gasp' because the first one failed, and it didn't mature over the usual timescales.  I put babies, and pregnancies out of my mind and decided that we would have to seriously consider our options at some later date.

On Valentines day we were in for a special treat.  We had booked ourselves into Le Manoir Aux Qaut'saisons for the night, and would be enjoying the ten course tasting menu in the two Michelin starred restaurant.  It's an amazing place, with fantastic grounds, and an extensive kitchen garden in which they grow much of the produce they use.  It is all so beautiful that I cannot do it justice with the blunt tool that is my descriptive writing, but below are photos of both the hotel and our room (which even had a log burner in it!)

Needless to say the food is exquisite.   As I clearly wasn't pregnant, I decided to make the most of the meal, and drink the wines which the sommelier selects to go with each course.  That's alot of wine.  I had also had a G&T on arrival at the hotel, and a glass of champagne before dinner.  On returning to our fabulous room, I felt, rather 'squify' shall we say, but it had been a truly memorable evening.  The food, wine, service, setting and company had all been first class. 

The next day, we were collected and taken to Heathrow to catch our Virgin Upper Class flight to Dubai, where I spent five glorious days.  Again I had a glass or two of wine with dinner each night, as my self imposed 'teetotaldom' that had lasted the preceeding 20 months was now over.   

We arrived home, which was day 31 of my cycle, when I was under orders from the clinic to do the obligatory test. I knew it was a waste of a test, but I did it anyway, and as I'm sure is obvious to you, got the shock of my life.  The first thing I thought was...OMG all that alcohol!  The rest, as they say, is history.


Saturday, 13 February 2010

Things That Have Made Me Happy This Week

Those of you brave enough to have read my last post will know that this last week has had it's trying moments.  But there have been some fab ones too which I thought I would share just to brighten the mood a little.

  • Star made some Valentine cookies and a card at nursery.  Well, when I say he made the cookies, I'm not sure that is entirely accurate.  What I can believe though is that he had a hand in (literally) applying the icing and the sprinkles.

  • I bought myself some new kitchen scales.  This purchase has brought me unimaginable pleasure.  I use my scales every day, as every day I bake a loaf of bread.  Needless to say this required the weighing of various ingredients, and water.  My old scales have had, for as long as I can remember, a button missing that meant every time I wanted to turn them on or zero them I had to find a pen or a pointy implement of some kind to poke in the hole that the missing button left behind.  Clearly this is not an arduous task, but it is annoying.  One day I decided that given that these scales are used everyday I could surely stretch to getting some new ones.  Well, let me tell you, these new scales have made me beam with delight every time I use them.  You see they not only work perfectly without poking, but they measure the water for my bread too.  When I come to add the water to my breadpan, I press a button to tell them to measure in ml and tip the water in until it gets to the required number.  How brilliant is that!
  • I got awarded the Sunshine Blog Award...twice!  Getting blog awards is not commonplace for me, so I am always bowled over to receive one, but to receive one twice in a couple of days - wow!  I know that I'm not a great writer, I know that my grammar and spelling is often not as it should be and that my blog can be rather, well, lets be honest, miserable at times.  When I get an award it tells me that someone out there actually likes to read my diatribes, and perhaps they even like an anonymous cyberspace kind of way.  And that makes me very happy.  I will do a proper Sunshine Blog Award post soon, but in the meantime, thanks everso The Moiderer and Make Do Mum
  • I got more flowers from The Daddy today.  Carnations and Lilies this time.  They are beautiful.
  • Last, but by no means least, today I received my Secret Post Club parcel.  It was from Is There A Plan B and I was thrilled.  I was thrilled to find it on my doormat, I was thrilled to read the enclosed postcard, and I was thrilled with the gift.  It was a set of kitchen cutters in various leaf shapes which are already well loved, and over time will be well used.  I had been feeling rather sorry for the people that get me to send to because I know I'm not easy.  I supplied quite an extensive list of likes and dislikes, and knew that I would have excluded some of the more obvious 'gifts for girls'.  But Plan B came up trumps, and with little time this month.  She also has really lovely handwriting and wrote me a super little postcard.  Thankyou Plan B, very much. 

Oh, before I sign off, one more thing that made me happy this week...I got to 50 followers.  50 I tell you!  How did I manage that ?


Friday, 12 February 2010

It's Been Quite A Day...

Warning.  This post contains New Year Goal #4 information.  

I would like to think that, in some small way, I have been missed today.  You see, I have been absent from blog comments, blog posts and twitter until late this afternoon and now I'm here to tell you why...

It's nothing earth shattering so don't get too excited, but we went for another IUI attempt today.  I haven't blogged about it this time round as I found last time I became a tad obsessed, so have tried to put it to the back of my mind.  Not easy.  At all.  Last time was a miserable failure.  Not only was I not pregnant but I only had a 25 day cycle which is both unheard of for me, and not helpful in reproductive terms.  I had also, with your help, done a spectacularly good job of convincing myself that it was going to be a successful attempt, so when it wasn't I was shocked, and more worryingly disproportionately upset about it.  

The 25 day cycle threw all our plans out of the window as The Daddy was due to be away this week.  Fortunately he was able to come back a day early last night so all was not lost.  So, this morning we packed Star off to the nursery for the day and headed up to London.  The clinic were running late so we had to wait for an hour before The Daddy was called into action.  We then popped out to Starbucks for tea and cake before returning for my bit.  Now the thing is, this IUI is supposed to be painless, and whilst ttc Star it was.  A little uncomfortable but certainly not painful.  Since having Star however I think the weight of carrying him around must have displaced some of my 'lady bits' inside ( I had an elective c-section so it was nothing to do with labour, and pushing, and stitches and all that-euww!)  I have now had one smear test, and three IUI attempts since Star and every time it has been SO painful that it takes all of my self control (and I have ALOT of that) and jaw clenching to stop myself blubbing.  Since the first IUI of this time around I have taken two heavy duty paracetamols whilst at Starbucks and it does just take the edge off but it's still without doubt the most painful thing I have ever experienced.  And all the while I'm thinking 'making a baby shouldn't be like this'.

Anyway, we left the clinic at 1pm and decided that as we didn't have to pick Star up until 6pm we should make the most of it, and went to our favourite local restaurant for lunch.  It's a fabulous little Italian called Ruchetta in Wokingham which we frequent as often as possible.  We had a couple of courses, and I had a couple of G&T's (knowing that my egg is currently floating free and not in contact with my bloodstream in any way) which is a very rare thing for me.  It was a lovely way to de stress from the mornings activities.

We arrived home at about 4pm and picked up Star a little later.  He'd had a fun day, had eaten well, slept well, made us valentine cookies and a card and greeted us with his usual excitement.  It's then that I remembered why I'm putting myself through all this...


Monday, 8 February 2010

Menu Planning Monday - It's Here !

Having had a few enthusiastic responses to my suggestion of sharing menu plans and recipes I am pleased to announce the arrival of a new weekly feature here a Geriatric Mummy's.

So, to start us off I guess I should share mine. This is an unusual week for us as The Daddy is on a course this week and staying away so it will only be Star and I eating. I should also explain that Star has his own meals more often than not, usually those that I have prepared previously and frozen. Just to complicate matters further I am in the midst of trying to eliminate, or at least dramatically reduce Star's dairy intake as I am suspecting an allergy. It's not serious but is, I believe, the cause of excess snotiness, blocked ears and eczema. So until I get around to taking him to the GP (I have
little no faith in GPs, other than, sometimes, to give me a diagnosis) I will gradually cut out milk, cheese, yoghurt and fromage frais other than his one bottle of formula and see what effect it has. In short, this week may not pan out as I intend !

Anyway, back to the point. Each day Star has porridge with fruit puree and a soya yoghurt for breakfast, and I have a protein and fibre shake. Star's lunch is either Bangbang chicken goujons, fish fingers or fish bites with oatcakes and fruit and mine is largely left overs from the previous day in some form or another. So here is the dinner Menu Plan for Geriatric Towers...

Star - Spaghetti Bolognaise with wholemeal spaghetti, Bangbang Chicken goujons, bread, broccoli, parsnips, sweet potato, piece of fruit, carob raisins
Me - Spaghetti Bolognaise with wholemeal spaghetti

Star - Roast chicken, sweet potato, carrot, broccoli, parsnip, runner beans, fish bites, bread, piece of fruit, carob raisins
Me - Roast Chicken and vegetables

Star - Chicken risotto, (includes onions, mushrooms, peas and sweetcorn), fish fingers, carrot, broccoli, bread, piece of fruit, carob raisins
Me - Chicken risotto

Star - Chicken risotto, home made mini burger, carrot, broccoli, bread, piece of fruit carob raisins
Me - Beef Curry

Star - Thai green chicken curry, brown basmati rice, wholemeal noodles, fish bites, carrot, broccoli, green beans, bread, piece of fruit, carob raisins
The Seniors - Thai green chicken curry, brown basmati rice, wholemeal noodles

Star - Cottage pie, fish fingers, carrot, broccoli, parsnips, bread, piece of fruit, carob raisins
The Seniors- Cottage pie and vegetables

Star - Slow roast lamb and beans, fish fingers, carrot, broccoli, parsnips, bread, piece of fruit, carob raisins
The Seniors - Slow roast lamb and beans

If you're thinking Star has two dinners you are right, the first I feed to him on a spoon, the second he finger feeds himself. He gets bored of being fed before he's full so I do this to ensure he has his fill and sleeps well. I'm pleased to say that it works.

Now, if I've done this right, (I should have done this earlier in the day as my brain is now seriously aching) there should be a MckLinky below for you to add your menu plans, or your favourite recipes if you prefer. Fingers crossed...


Friday, 5 February 2010

How Did I Get This Lucky ?

In the last 24 hours I have had cause to reflect on what a truly wonderful husband I have.  Generally I don't consider myself a 'lucky' person, but maybe I used up all the luck anyone can expect when I found The Daddy.  Here, in no particular order, are just a few of the reasons that I love him so...

  •  He makes me laugh like nobody else ever has, or ever will. 
  • We share what I'm sure is a unique sense of humour, enabling me to rediscover my inner child.
  • We share many values and beliefs.  Even on subjects that I'm sure most people don't even think about.
  • He is a wonderful provider.  Finanically, as a family we want for nothing.  Practically, if there is a problem he will find a solution.  Every time. With no fuss.
  • He looks after himself.  At 39 he is slim, toned, fit and stylish and works hard to stay that way.
  • He is domesticated.  He does most of the washing, all of the ironing and all housework over and above that which is done by the cleaner (whom he pays for).
  • He is very bright, both in an intellectual sense, and in his general disposition.
  • He is confident and charming.  After 3.5 years of marriage he still opens the car door for me to get in and I am always very proud to introduce him as my husband.  He is one of those rare individuals that can light up a room.
  • He understands me as well as I understand myself.
  • He is loving and affectionate, without losing his masculinity.
  • He is thoughtful.  He went to Sainsburys for me this morning and brought me back a beautiful bouquet of flowers - roses and lilles.  He said that he thought I might like them, and just in case I didn't he also brought me a bar of Fruit and Nut Toblerone.  You would think that was enough but he also brought home a new baking tray as he knew how frustrated I get with my current one sticking.  He was confident that one of his gifts would put a smile on my face.  As it happened I was happy with all three!

I could go on, but as usual there is too little time.  Star will be awake for his lunch shortly so to the kitchen I must go...counting my lucky stars ...

Monday, 1 February 2010

Menu Planning...But What To Cook?!

Having just read a post by The Madhouse on menu planning (sorry this piggy backing seems to be becoming a habit) I thought I would do a quick post on the subject rather than make my comment go on for ever !

I started menu planning a few weeks ago now, and I am loving it :D  My reason for doing this was basically because I was throwing away so much food it was a crime.  The Daddy likes good food, and as I never had a plan I always had to make sure that I had all the ingredients available for just about anything he or I might decide to make - can you imagine how much waste this creates ?!  When you add in to the equation that I buy predominantly organic food it was also costing a small fortune.  I have a fixed 'allowance' from The Daddy to pay for food, all of Star's needs and all of my own and finally realised that by wasting less money on food I would have more to spend on Star and me.  Now don't get me wrong, I am passionate about organic food so I'm not buying cheaper, just buying less.  I also now buy most of my meat from an organic farm shop near where I live as I found that not only is it locally produced, with a great butcher who will prepare anything for you, it is also about 25% cheaper than I was paying with Ocado.  

The outcome of all this is that I have managed to reduce my grocery spend by between 25 and 50%.  I also feel more organised and actually think we have a more healthy diet as I now plan, for example, how much red meat we eat in a week. We never run out of anything, I never have to scratch my head to think 'what am I going to cook tonight ?', we have a tasty, nutritious meal every night and we have little or no waste.  Can you tell that I'm rather evangelical about this new regime ?!

I have all the 'meals' that I ever cook listed on the laptop, and each week, on Sunday, I copy and paste into this weeks menu plan.  I then update my scheduled Ocado deliveries which arrive on Monday morning, and again on Friday morning.  Star and I also visit the farm shop for our meat on Tuesdays and Saturdays.  Job done...simples !

There is one draw back that I can see.  Because I'm now alot more aware of what I'm cooking I am also much more aware of the limitations of my recipe repertoire, and I do find this very frustrating.  I have a bookcase full of recipe books but either don't have the time to wade through them for inspiration, or am too worried that the end result will be disappointing.  I find the best recipes are those that have been tried and tested by friends and family and come highly recommended. I have asked the lovely Wendy for recipes in the past.  All have been fab but, wonderful as she is, I can't rely on one person, so I have an idea that I would like to float, just to see if there would be any interest...

I'm thinking about doing a weekly menu plan post and thought I could put a mclinky up (? not even sure what it's called let alone know how to do it!) for others to post theirs.  We can all then have a look and if something catches our eye the poster could be invited to share the recipe.  Those not on the menu planning bandwagon could still participate by sharing their favourite recipes.  I'm sure there are lots of mums/dads/cooks looking for kitchen inspiration ! 

If you think you would be interested in participating in this in some way, or can suggest a better format, please do let me know...