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Thursday, 9 January 2014

MY NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION - FAMILY EATING SIAN'S PLAN REVIEW

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Sian’s Plan for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

I've had to budget for food for a long time now. Seems like if you want to buy garbage, it's much much easier to stay within budget than if you want to eat healthy. A pack of biscuits can be as low as 30p but you couldn't buy a pack of fruit or vegetables for that price. What's up with that???

 

Anyhow, when I first saw Sian's Plan http://siansplan.com/ I thought; "this is good, but it'll be a pain in the butt to use". I don't think I could have been more wrong.

 

First of all, let's talk price: £3.99 a month for a year's subscription or £5.99 per month. Let me tell you now, it's worth it for the hassle that this site SAVES you! She's even offering 25% off the quarterly plan until January 31st. Just enter JANPLAN at the checkout. That's 3 months for £20....

 

You sign up, go through the recipes (you can even search by ingredients - amazing) and pick which ones you want to cook for the week. Sian even colour codes them for you (from the site)

 

Red day recipes are main meals under 35 minutes and provide 4 portions. They use healthy cooking methods and healthy ingredients.

 

Green day recipes encourage you to use leftovers. This saves you money and reduce food waste. All green day recipes can be made using Sian's Store Cupboard ingredients but are designed to be flexible so you can throw in any leftovers you have. Like red day recipes, they are under 35 minutes and provide 4 portions.

 

Blue day recipes tend to take longer than 45 minutes (eg. Lasagne, Stews) and make at least 8 portions. So on a blue day you cook double what you need. This gives you a day off from cooking (white day).

 

Some days we can't or don't want to cook. There's nothing wrong with that. On a white day you may reheat a blue day meal or even eat out

 

 I picked 4 reds and 1 green for the week.

 

Spicy Sweet Potato Wedges

Quick Spaghetti Bolognese

Chicken Fajita Wraps

Creamy Garlic and Chili Chicken with Rice

Winter Vegeatable Lasagna

 

Once you've picked your recipes, it asks you if you want to "generate your grocery list". OMG, this is the best feature I have ever seen!!! You can pick which supermarket you want the list to be sent to (for instance, I picked Tesco) and there it was. I mean everything on the ingredients list of every recipe I had in my meal plan....there....easy as that.

 

All of the things that I needed,  in order, in the search section one by one  of my shopping basket. This way I could pick exactly what size, quantity etc of everything I needed.

 

Side note - the total came to less than £50 - Yay me!

 

I cannot emphasize enough how EASY this process was. Really worth every penny for the monthly subscription.

 

So, I started with the spaghetti bolognese. It was simple to make, much cheaper than the jar sauce I would normally get and I had tons left to freeze.

 

Now, I have to tell you, I'm really not a food blogger. I don't know how to stage a photo to make the food look as appealing as possible and to be honest, I did forget to take pics alot of the time....

 

I loving "borrowed" this image of the spaghetti bolognese from the Sian's Plan site.

 

I promise, mine did not look as good as this!! :-)

 

 

 

 

Chicken Fajitas are always a favorite in our house and we always go for the packet spice pack so I was slightly worried when I saw the DIY version recipe.

 

Quorn "chicken style" pieces vegetarian subtitution

 

proper chicken...

 

I may or may not have had a 3rd...

 

They were amazing!!! I'm never going to buy a packet mix again!! Im a convert...DIY all the way :-)

 

I could have taken a million pictures and described every recipe but that's not the point. The point is, what Sian has done with this site and the plan is truly amazing. The thought put in to the recipes, the ease of use and the healthy factor is the best I have seen. You can really use your money to its full potential in your food budget. More importantly, my fridge and cupboards were filled with fruits and vegetables and we were happy and full.

 

I'm making the wedges as a Friday treat tomorrow night and the lasagna for the weekend. I can't wait. Everything is super easy, healthy and fresh.

 

Please go and pay the site a visit at the very least! Check it out for all it has to offer. Guaranteed not to disappoint! You can also find Sian's Plan on Facebook and Twitter  www.facebook.com/siansplan  www.twitter.com/siansplan.What will you do to make your life easier in 2014??Sian’s Plan photo e0f33e92-209f-4559-96a2-73e3cccaecb9_zpsb3192877.png photo siansplan-colours-left_zpsa916c0d2.png

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Wednesday, 18 December 2013

CRAFTING YOUR OWN CASINO - PLAYFUL CRAFTING IDEAS

Crafting Your Own Casino - Playful Crafting Ideas

As the winter months arrive and the weather is too cold to venture outside, we start to look
at alternatives to keep ourselves entertained at home and options which allow us to share
good times with our friends and family. Most people love nothing more than a trip to the casino, so why not create your very own casino in the comfort of your own home? There are many affordable ways to craft your own casino and make it look and feel authentic, providing hours of fun and entertainment to share with loved ones.

Choose Your Games

There are plenty of casino games around, so the possibilities are endless when it comes to setting up your own casino. Poker is one of the obvious games which should definitely make an appearance and Black Jack is also a popular choice amongst those who like a flutter!

Prior to starting your casino and welcoming your guests, you should make sure you know the rules of the games inside out as this you will be expected to answer questions. A casino is not quite the same if no-one knows how to play and could result in a riot in your home if money is involved! Some people might say that they used to play Omaha with my dad, but cannot quite remember the rules, so it is worthwhile having the knowledge to be able to help them.

Create Tables

When you have decided on the most appropriate games to suit your audience, you will need to set up some tables. Your guests will want to be able to move around freely and make a choice on their preferred game, so you should have several games running at the same time. The authenticity of the casino is completely up to you, but the more realistic it is to the real thing, the more fun it will be. It is quite easy to mimic the tables of a real casino by buying casino-style coverings, which are made of green felt. A quick trip to the local craft store will provide all you need for your tables. You can also make your own cards if you want to put your creativity to good use, or these can be purchased at low costs from local games stores.

Managing Money

There is the option of playing without money but where’s the fun in that? A true casino should have proper chips, which you can make yourself with some plywood, glue and scissors. There are a number of computer programs which will allow you to design your chips so that they look like the real thing and then you can use your tools to create the finished article. You should be clear to your guests on the value of the chips and have someone to manage the money.

Where’s the Bar?

Casinos and alcohol often go hand in hand, so why not set up a bar where people can help themselves as they move around the tables. Of course this could end up costing you a lot of money so why not ask your guests to bring their own bottle.

It is relatively simple and affordable to set up your own casino, especially if you can be creative with your ideas.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

CRAFTAHOLICS ANONYMOUS HANDMADE CRAFT EXCHANGE ENTRY HOLIDAY CRAFT - 2013

I love the Craft Exchange at Craftaholics Anonymous! I'm never disappointed with the results. Linda puts together one fab exchange. My hat goes off to her and all of her hard work making it happen.

This year, as I said in my previous post, I was paired up with a teenage girl from South Africa. We swapped a few emails back and forth and she filled me in on a bit of her and her life. The word "Hipster" stood out for me. Then I felt old. I didn't really know what that meant. The only thing that I could safely say that I could associate with the word was Instagram. She mentioned that she loved reading in her spare time.

So HIPSTER + READER = INSTAGRAM BOOKMARK

handmade bookmark Instagram bookmark

I love the friendship bracelet using the Instagram colours :-) makes me happy. The "Find Joy in The Ordinary" quote is one of my favorites. I wanted to find a way to get it in there too. I think the Polaroid picture quote goes well with the camera.







This week, I received her gift to me.

The detail in the mosaic is so great. I cannot believe that it arrived safe and sound from South Africa like this!! You can't really tell from the picture but the clear parts are mirrors. She has done such a fantastic job and I could not be more pleased with the gift I received.

Once again, super pleased with the whole experience with the Craft Exchange and really looking forward to the summer exchange next year.



Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Interior Colour Scheme Trends For Autumn/Winter 2013



 
With the changing of seasons comes a whole new and exciting colour palette. We’ve definitely left summer far behind now and are ploughing through autumn. Before you know it, winter will be here, which will bring warm and cosy nights in by the fire, snuggled under a blanket, and steaming mugs of hot cocoa. There’s plenty of reason to be happy about the upcoming seasons – if nothing else, it gives you a chance to redecorate your home to match the change in weather and temperature. But what are the in-colours of the moment? Let’s take a look at the interior colour scheme trends for autumn/winter 2013.



Gold
If you’re looking for a classy, opulent finish for your home, then gold is the ideal colour for you. You can tone it down with a neutral earthy shade or bling it up by teaming it with bronze and silver metallic hues. It’s completely up to you whether you wish to use gold sparkly wallpaper to create a feature wall, or whether you’d prefer to pick out certain room features with gold accents. Of course, if you feel that a fully gold room is a little too much, there’s nothing stopping you from adding a touch of luxury to a neutral room with gold accessories.

Earthy
Muted earthy tones are also big at this time of the year. Choose natural looking colours that are reminiscent of nature and you can’t really go wrong. As earth tones usually contain oranges and browns, this will add warmth to your home and help you to feel cosy during the colder winter months.

Monochrome
The all-time classic black and white will never go out of fashion. For some people, their home has to look like it’s come from the pages of a glossy magazine. Well, if you’re looking to recreate that effect, then black and white monochrome detailing will nail it perfectly. Keep it classic with a white backdrop and black accents or mix things up and reverse the colours. A black room will instantly be brightened with splashes of white. Use white in this case to draw attention to statement features of the room.

Bright and bold
At this time of the year, it can start to look a little bleak outside. Moods are generally blue due to the lack of sunlight and tempers can be frayed with the stress of Christmas. A great way to boost your mood is to invite plenty of bright and bold colours into your home. You don’t have to paint an entire room in a bright shade if you feel that’s too much. Instead, add colour with accessories and furniture. The best thing about doing it this way is that it’s fairly cheap and you can change the look of your room easily and as often as you like.

It doesn’t take much to change the look of a room – all you need is a few pots of paint in the colour of your choice and some matching accessories. Don’t worry if your budget is a little low either, as a lick of paint will not set you back by much and may be all you need to keep your room looking fresh for another year or so.

Guest article contributed by interior design blogger Rachael Blakewood on behalf of loft conversion and home improvement specialists Econoloft

Thursday, 14 November 2013

HANDMADE CRAFT EXCHANGE RE-VISITED (THROWBACK THURSDAY)

Its that wonderful time of year where the ever-talented Linda at Craftaholics Anonymous kicks off her Handmade Gift Exchange! I am very excited to participate in the International exchange again this year.

Last year, my giftee was a wonderful lady from England and this year I have a been paired with a gorgeous girl form South Africa!

So for my Throwback Thursday post this week, I thought I would take you back to last year's post on the Exchange.

handmade gifts

I'm starting my gift today. I've spent alot of time on Pinterest trying to figure out what to make. She sounds like such an amazing girl with a wide variety of tastes so I have alot to choose from...

Is anyone else participating in this great exchage? Or have you in the past? Would love to hear from you with ideas, stories etc. (I'd just love to hear from you really ;-)

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

ANNIVERSARY GIFT FOR A WONDERFUL HUSBAND

Today is 9 years....9 years of a wonderful marriage. I can safely say I married the man of my dreams.

Sometimes there are moments but for the most part, life is wonderful.

He spoils me. Historically, he's always home the day of our anniversary and he's able to put together something fantastic to wow me when I get home from work. This year IM off!

It's my turn.


We have so many different little stories so I wanted to find a way to capture them in one place.

This is what I came up with.

handmade personal gift

There are special dates, words to "our song" and little snipets of our life so far. I could have added so much more but I only had an 8 x 10 canvas!!

Handmade Personal gift DIY



I was pretty happy with the way it turned out! It's a simple project once you have the words you want. Go to PicMonkey and "create a collage". Pick your background colour, then your fonts and type away! The site is so easy to use and you can create something absolutely beautiful in no time at all. Go and check it out if you haven't already.

What do you think of this as a little anniversary gift for your partner?


Tuesday, 22 October 2013

LEADING BY EXAMPLE - TIPS TO HELP TEACH YOUR CHILDREN THE VALUE OF MONEY

I find myself constantly saying "no".

"Mom, can I just have...."
"Please Mom, I won't ask for anything else...."
"But Mom!!! I really want it!!

Kids can be expensive. And if you don't nip this in the bud soon, it's just going to get more expensive as they grow up. This is why it is so important to teach children early about savings.



The one thing I know for certain about kids stuff is that the older they get, the smaller and more expensive their stuff gets....

A few years ago we introduced "pocket money". This was a chore based system that we adapted in order to have him work for the things that he wanted. We have adjusted this as he's gotten older, adding a few extra chores and dropping others. For example; when he was 4-5, brushing his teeth was something that we wanted to really encourage, so we made it a money-earning chore. Now that he's 7, brushing his teeth is non-negotiable and therefore doesn't earn him money. BUT, he's now old enough to make his bed and put his laundry away...

We operate a £2 a week system, where he has a set list of chores that need to be completed on a daily / weekly basis in order for him to receive the £2 on Friday evening. There are strict rules with this as he has a great knack for arguing at the moment. If there is any fussing or fighting to start or complete the chore, NO CASH. These are non-negotiable rules for us. It is important to us that he learns that there are some things in life that he just has to do...simple as that. Mom and Dad don't mess here....

As an extention to the £2 a week, we also offer the availability of extra chores. These are chores that are outside of the regular daily / weekly set that we feel that he can handle. For instance; helping with the dusting, vacuuming, washing the car with Dad, gardening etc. For every chore he completes during the week from these possibilities, he earns 50p. So, depending on what he feels like doing during the week, he can earn himself a tidy little sum of cash!!

It was important for us to show him very clearly that there are things that are expected of him and ALSO, if he chooses, he can get rewarded for his extra efforts.


There are long terms goals that we ask him to focus on - like a particular toy he wants - and there are shorter term gains that he would rather (like spending his £2 on sweets at the corner shop). For the most part, he has kept his eye on the prize. 

This Friday will mark £20 in his money box. I know this may not seem like a great sum of money to most, but for our son, this marks the start of a commitment to working for what he wants and ultimately, getting it himself!! 


Next step in our money lessons will be to help him set up a savings account. We are planning to offer him a "match your savings" plan. This means that for every £ he saves (towards his savings account) within the month, we will match this amount with him. For instance, if he chooses to save half of his monthly pocket money (£4) towards his savings account, we will match it and add £4 of our own. We're hoping that this way he will see how potentially rewarding it can be to save as well as spend!!