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Waiting for a hurricane…

Am I the only one who hates the waiting part of a hurricane arriving, I hate the not knowing, will we lose power, will the basement flood again, the questions are endless and all you can do is wait and watch! They say its going to be bad, but I personally am trying to stay positive and hope that they are wrong, very wrong in this case!

Now the big question on my mind this morning is what would be good Hurricane food… My mind goes straight to a big pot of chili and warm homemade breadsticks, but then I remember Jord is home and he won’t eat it so now I’m thinking about warm comforting food like pork ragu and parpadelle pasta in the hope that we still have power to heat it through later!

As I sit in my kitchen on my sofa by the window I hear the wind gust past our window and I look out across the garden, the world seems still to me at this moment in time, it’s like we are all holding our breath just waiting for Sandy to arrive… What will be, will be… Stay safe!

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Menu planning at it’s best…

I am now very much into my 40’s, 7 children, 1 husband and 6 houses later I have learnt that for me, the only way I am truly content with life is when I am organized. Organization helps you budget your money as you can food shop economically with menu planning preparation, you know what you are eating for the week ahead, organization means you have much more time on your hands to do the fun things in life (a friend of mine who completely advocates an organized life and has written a very successful e-book on this very subject, Evelyn is just so right). So with all of this in mind my aim is to shape up and clear out every drawer, cupboard, nook and cranny in my house into an organized space, and I am very lucky because I have a daughter who loves doing just that, organizing my cupboards, she cannot wait to help me with this task!

My first task was to completely re-organize my kitchen cupboards, when we moved into the house I placed my kitchen equipment into cupboards without thinking about actually using the working space, as most of you know I love to cook, so three and a half years later this kitchen layout was just not working for me, so over several days, and I mean several days, as Florrie was putting things back into the cupboards as I was taking them out, I managed to reorganize my whole kitchen… It now works much better for me, if only I could get my children to remember my new system and not put the plates and bowls back into the old cupboards… I should not moan really, as they are emptying the dishwasher for me more regularly these days!

My next task was to reorganize the actual floor space and that is still a work in progress, the new study is starting to take shape and has become a popular room, not only for Paul to work in, but a homework room for Blu and Mabel, with the computer and printer set up in there! Today I am ready to recover my grandmothers ottoman in there and make a curtain for my meshed cabinet, pictures need to be put up, then finally the room needs a lamp and a couple more cushions on the sofa and it will be complete!

Finally, on this topic of organization I found this blogging site this morning on menu planning at its best, so I wanted to share this woman’s blog with you, she not only plans her dinners for the week, but she is super organized and plans breakfast, lunch and snacks… http://moneysavingmom.com/2012/05/this-weeks-menu-30.htmlThis is something I strive for completely, I think it will take a lot of skill to achieve this but it will be the ultimate in menu planning… Wish me luck, I will let you know how I get on!

Happy Organizing!

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Fall roasted peppers for dinner!

As with any love affair you must revisit your love many times to satisfy that yearning deep within… So with passion deep inside I travelled 40 miles east to Ikea once again, this time I was armed with a list and budget of money to spend, my theory was that if I knew what I wanted and how much I wanted to spend, I would not be tempted to give in to frivolous items that I just want because they are so cute! I hear you all ask did my theory actually work, well the answer to this is yes and no, I did stick to my list… Fabric, curtains, cushion, throw, but then I did add in a couple of ‘I just want them’ items… Cute white cups, a roasting tray, tea towels and then some salt and pepper shakers, so all in all I think I was very reserved with my Ikea purchases… But who knows next time, I see many, many, many more trips to satisfy this new love affair’s yearnings!

I must return to the subject of food once more… Tonight was Jamie’s roasted peppers, chillies and tomatoes for dinner on my weekly menu plan, even with my trip to Ikea I stuck to the plan and I am so glad I did, after 2 very bland Ikea hotdogs for lunch I was yearning for some food with flavor and all I have to say about this meal is Absolutely Delicious with a capital D… Thank you Jamie!

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It’s all about comfort food…

So today is all about food yet again… With the weather turning colder and the evenings getting darker, it’s been time to think about warm comfort food in our house, so I’m going to share one of my favorite meals with you all…

Monday night I began my evening routine by boiling a bag of small potatoes until they were cooked through, then with a hand held blender (one handed as Florrie was on my other side) I roughly mashed them with a cup of broth, then I added 2 cups of green beans, a packet of chicken and apple sausages (cooked and sliced) a tablespoon of rosemary and 3 more cups of chicken broth… Season to taste, stir and reheat through until soup is creamy and warm! Now with all this deliciousness warming through I could not decide what I should accompany it with, a friend had recently told me she had made Jamie Oliver’s chili, cheese cornbread, so with that in mind I grabbed his book and began assembling the ingredients, some I had to substitute but it was delicious none the less! This cornbread is so easy and soooooo good and it was perfect with my warm sausage potato soup… Definitely one of my favorite Fall meals recently!

Menu plan for the week ahead…

Wednesday – Jamie’s tender chicken legs with tomatoes served with leftover cornbread (Internet)

Thursday – Spicy pork chilli pepper goulash and rice

Friday – Jamie’s roasted peppers with chillies and tomatoes ( at home page 252)

Saturday – pork ragu with parpadelle

Sunday -chicken legs with delicate pearl barley, pea and lettuce stew

Monday – steak Guinness and cheese pie

Tuesday – wild mushroom and beef stroganoff

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Re-kindled love affair with Ikea

I am in love with Ikea… It’s been about 4 years since I have stepped into an Ikea store, well that is until last Friday… And now I am in love! Some things were still the same, very traditional Swedish furniture but now they have added lots more… lots more of everything, things that I LOVE… plates, mugs, pots, pans, FABRIC, frames, cushions, lamps, and did I mention Fabric… Lots and lots of things to buy! So with the total reorganization of my first floor of my house I definitely have another trip to Ikea in mind, very soon!

We have nearly lived in this house for 4 years… I know, wow where did those years go to? As many of you know we would love to move, but with the economy, and jobs at threat at Paul’s company, the sensible thing is to stay a little while longer, so with that in mind I have set about making the space work for us as a family… First job of the day was to find Paul a more quiet spot to work from home in… Our formal dining room has become a dumping ground recently for all things that need sorting out and I can honestly say in the nearly 4 years we have lived here we have never once sat down and eaten a meal in that room, so of course this was the logical place to create a study for Paul to work from home in… This is where Ikea comes into play, I want to masculine up this room with a black a white throw for the leather couch that is now in there, add a black rug and make some black a white check curtains and of course Ikea has the perfect budget friendly items to allow me to create a perfect work space for Paul and finally this dumping ground will be a well used room!

Next on my list was to change around our kitchen/family room, the oversized kitchen table was always cramped into the bay window in the kitchen, and no one really sat at it, so I decided to place it at the other end of the room in front of the fire place, as a dining area, we now have a central area to sit and eat in with space around the table to sit on all the chairs! The kitchen is our favorite room of the house… Most of our family discussions, decisions and late night talks take place around the kitchen island so I decided to create a ‘Friends’ coffee shop feel to the kitchen area by placing my shabby new/old couch into the bay area along with my leather chair and a coffee table, we now have an area where we can all chat whilst cooking and cleaning, I just love it!

Now this new lay out may not work for some people, like Lewis, Jord and Faz for example, all they have done is moan about it, but for me, I think it is a good use of space in our house that we did not use properly… Mabel sits at the table now to eat, watch tv (something I always moaned about before) and do her homework, we sat in the kitchen late last night and drunk our wine in pure comfort and Paul will hopefully have his own sanction to work in by Friday… Well that’s if I finish getting it organized by then… Next stop Ikea, fabric shopping… Yay, one of my favorite things to
do!

On a side note, I think I have been watching way too much HGTV recently, House Hunters, The Property Brothers, Love it or List it, the list is endless, so I apologize now for this blog sounding like a commentator from a House renovation show!

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Junk Food Saturday

I am going to call yesterday ‘Junk Food Saturday’… Why I hear you all ask, so I’m going to tell you! We started our Saturday morning with a yummy (hear the sarcasm in my text) McDonalds breakfast, then we spent our morning at a friends house drinking coffee, we watched Blu’s game later in the afternoon, Paul helped move furniture for our friends again and then we went straight to the mall for Mabel and her new cell phone… With all of this to’ing and fraying we forgot to eat lunch so on the way home we stopped yet again in my favorite (again hear the sarcasm) fast food restaurant… This time we all shared nuggets and fries… So to the point of these ramblings, I have decided Junk Food Saturday will never happen again, too much junk food in one day is really not good for you, so today has been an overload of veggies and good food choices for dinner… Much to my children’s dismay…
Chicken noodle soup with gluten free angel hair pasta and lots of healthy veggies
Quinoa, feta, lots of veggies stuffed peppers
And finally delicious spinach, chickpea and spinach cutlets from Costco… All sooooo delicious and my stomach feels so much better today!

We are trying out brown rice and gluten free pasta for a while as Jord has had a lot of stomach problems recently, tonight the gluten free pasta really gave the soup a nice thick consistency and it tasted good… Now to see if it causes Jord any pain!

Cooking for a family of 9 people is a challenge at the best of times… But tonight I think I cracked it, not only did we all eat healthily but also economically… Believe me I did not skimp on good quality ingredients, in fact most of them were organic… The key tonight was a balance of fresh and frozen vegetables, I bulk bought organic quinoa (my new favorite carbohydrate) from Costco and I also cheated with a ready cooked rotisserie chicken, a bargain, again from Costco!

My recipe for chicken noodle soup cooked in my rice steamer…
Place half a finely chopped red onion and tomato in the pot, add 1/4 of a packet of frozen chopped kale. Mix together with a handful of fresh thyme, a tablespoon of dried rosemary, salt and pepper. Break up pasta from 3/4 box of gluten free angel hair pasta from Wholefoods, top with 3 large handfuls of frozen mixed veggies, mine was a cauliflower, broccoli and carrot mixture from Costco, then cover everything with whatever stock you love, mine was organic chicken stock again from Costco… Close the lid and press the white rice button, pour a glass of red wine sit down and try to relax… In my house this did not happen as within seconds of me sitting down Florence knocked my glass of red wine all over my rug… You just have to love my little girl so much!

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