Meal Plan – The Healthy Eating Starts Again (Again) On Monday Edition

Only 6 more sleeps to go, you guys! I feel like a kid at Christmas!! That is, until I actually stop to think about it and then I remember that actually, it has been so nice to have Moose and Bess at home – mostly.

There can’t have been many times in history where parents got to spend quite so much extra time with their kiddos? Sure a lot of that time as I recall was them asking for snacks or trying to kill each other but still, memories!

Anyway, 6 sleeps until some of the people in this house actually leave the house for a few hours during the day. The idea of having time in my home alone is so exciting!

There is one downside of everyone disappearing during the day though. This is that I can no longer blame my prolonged Pac-Man impression on them. Currently I am asked for snacks approximately 1500 times per day which explains the weight gain creeping up. So, Monday morning I shall be returning to healthy eating and I might even start exercising a bit. Nothing too hazardous you understand, just behaving like a normal human adult again. You know, rather than behaving like I am on an episode of Woman Vs Food…

I am willing the weather to get warmer so that I can get back into taking myself off for walks. I have no interest in trudging along in the cold!

Jerk(ish) chicken with rice and pea and mango salsa

This week in food

Monday: Steak with mashed potatoes, asparagus and baby sweetcorn served with diane sauce.

Tuesday: Sesame sticky chicken with stir fry veg and udon noodles served with duck bao.

Wednesday: Scampi, chips and peas

Thursday: Jerk(ish) chicken with rice and a mango salsa

Friday: Beef stew and dumplings

Saturday: Pizza (treating us to a takeaway)

Sunday: Roast pork, roast veg and sprouts with stuffing and lots of gravy

Katykicker

And for my next trick… the juggle!

It’s been a bit of a year, hasn’t it? I don’t just mean good old Rona and the never ending story that is lockdown. Just everything. My children are now 19, 15 and 6. I haven’t seen my eldest, Col, properly, since last September when we had to take our lovely beagle to be put down.

I miss him very, very much. He lives with his Fiancée across town now. We haven’t really even been able to celebrate them getting engaged yet. He used to be a carer which worried me massively because of all of the contact he was having with so many people. Thankfully now he has a job as a contact tracer which means he is working from home. That, at least, is a little reassuring.

Bess is plugging away with her schoolwork. We just got her report. In a way I wish I had done what a friend of mine did and requested that they didn’t send it home. Thankfully Bess is a good student and is on course to get very high marks but I don’t really think measuring them in terms of grades is at all helpful right now. Our kids are living something which is unimaginable and we are still using the same way to measure progress? No, no thank you. I don’t care what she is currently getting in Maths or Dance. I want to know she is managing ok with so little social interaction. Is she keeping up friendships that she will need later? Does she have people her age to vent to about being stuck in the house with us oldies?

Is she coping? Are any of us?

Moose is a different breed to be honest. In a lot of ways he appears to prefer lockdown. We have tried to keep everything upbeat as much as possible so it is fun for him but he really likes home school and never complains so I think we are quite lucky really in that respect. We have good support from his teacher. He does miss his friends and I have made sure that he has video calls regularly with his cousin and his best friend. He absolutely loves those chats. Next week his teacher has organised a little Zoom meeting so that her class can all see each other. He is going to love that!

Boy in the snow in a yellow coat

G is working from home and will be for the forseeable future I think. Can anyone actually imagine that we are all going to return to offices after all of this and work like we did before?! I can’t see it. We are getting on better at the moment than I think we ever have. It’s actually really nice. Maybe we are both just too worn out to pick fights? Maybe seeing what the other does all day has stripped out some of the resentment I suspect was bubbling before lockdown happened. He got to escape, I got to stay home. I dunno. Whatever the reason, I like it.

And me?

I have had the biggest change I think. At the beginning of lockdown G was made redundant. With him being the main breadwinner this was problematic to say the least! I decided that it would be best if I took a look online to see what jobs were around and managed to snag a job as a contact tracer within 30 mins of starting to look! That contract ran it’s course and that was that. Luckily my old manager pointed me in the direction of new contracts with them and I got back into it. There I was happily doing that and home schooling Moose until last month when I got a promotion.

I am now working as a Quality Coach and I absolutely love it! I mean, looking forward to going back after a couple of days off love it. The ideal would be that this continues on a permanent work from home basis but who knows. I am still making cake toppers and writing too so for the first time in quite a long time my life feels quite full and a lot if it is things that make me happy!

Working and kids

I am not going to pretend it is all plain sailing. Going from being completely freelance to having structured working hours and attending meetings has taken a bit of getting used to. For me and for my children. Moose said to me a few weeks ago that he wished I didn’t have a job. That stung a little bit to be honest. I need this though, having a regular income and a job I genuinely like doing has done masses for my mental health.

I know it is a little selfish on my part but I don’t want to give that up. It hurts that Moose felt that way but I have stepped up the time we do have so we “do” more. Well, as much as we can do right now I guess. I think it will be ok though. It has to be really.

So at the moment I am working a 40 hour week but making sure that on my days off we are spending time together. I would love to be able to take him out and about again but that will come in time. For now it’s a Scooby Do style repeat of baking, Lego, movies and Minecraft.

For now that seems to be enough and if I can just be enough then I think I am ok with that.

 

 

 

Meal planning – Chinese new year edition.

First and foremost I should just say that when it comes to food related festivities I am an unfaithful hussy and will do my best to celebrate each and every single one – remember Halloween? Except possibly Mexico’s Noche de los Rabanos (night of the radishes). Not going to be queuing up for that one.

I love Chinese food so any excuse to eat that is one I am happy to oblige! This year is the year of the ox so it only feels fitting to have something beefy and what is better than crispy chilli beef? I love it and was really surprised when I found a recipe which was so like our local takeaway it was unreal! I will also be trying my hand at sweet and sour balls for the first time. Probably chicken but I might pick up some king prawns as they are Bess’ favourite.

Now that I am working a 40 hour week in one job and trying to get other stuff done too (homeschooling, healing a retinal bleed, making cake toppers and writing) I am conscious that I am cooking less from scratch. Something has to give though to be honest and after a 10 hour day I want quick and easy! I am trying to get around this by having a couple of chuck and bung dinners and then just simplifying the others. Any suggestions for under 30 min meals will be gratefully received!

dim sum in steamer

Our week in food

Monday – Salmon with teeny tiny new potatoes and broccoli and hollandaise sauce

Tuesday – Sausage and fennel pasta bake

Wednesday – Pizza express pizzas (pollo ad astra since you asked..) with dough balls and salad

Thursday – Creamy chicken pie with mash and beans

Friday – Homemade chicken balls, chilli beef, egg fried rice and dim sum. I might make sweet and sour sauce but there is every possibility I will use a tub of mayflower because it is actually pretty good!

Saturday – Vegetarian Spaghetti Bolognese.

Sunday – Pulled pork, stuffing and apple sauce baps with crispy potato slices and green beans

 

Katykicker

2021 Staycation planning

This post is in collaboration with hotels.com but all opinions remain my own

I realise that I could be tempting fate here given what has (or rather more pointedly has not) happened in 2020. However, I am sitting here and looking out to my frosty garden dreaming of getting away. Yes we are in tier 2 here in Cambridgeshire so things have begun to reopen locally but I still feel like my wings are clipped.

One of my favourite things to do is to get away with my family and top of our list for 2021 is London.

I’m not gonna lie, the thought of sun drenched beaches is tempting. Honestly though, I can’t help but to err on the side of caution. I am thinking a UK break will be just what we need.

Moose has been learning about London landmarks at school. He asked me the other day if we could go for a visit to see Big Ben. I think it would be so much fun to take the kids down to the capital. Maybe stay in a nice family friendly hotel close to the museums?

Earlier this year and before all of the madness began. I took Bess down to London for the day. We had lunch on Leicester Square, went to see the Be More Chill musical and took funny selfies at Trafalgar square. Afterwards we also venture to Camden Market which Bess absolutely loved. Exploring the markets with a teenager was great fun.

We all know that outdoors is best

It would be great to go and explore some of the parks. I think that there are so many things to do outdoors in London that it would be a great choice for a post Covid 19 restrictions trip. We will all still be a bit more careful of course so I would imagine that some practical social distancing rules will remain. That’s quite reassuring to me.

High up on my list of places to take Moose will be Big Ben and of course the Natural History Museum. The Science Museum will be a big hit with him too. I think we will also book a trip to The Sky Garden. Moose would love to explore the gardens and the views would be fabulous from up there!

I will definitely be travelling by train. We are only 45 minutes by train to London!

Further afield?

The thought of dealing with foreign travel is not a pleasant one for me at the moment. I would be up for going back to Guernsey on holiday though. All the charm without the hassle. You don’t even need a passport to go!

We stayed on Guernsey last year and it was so beautiful. It was my return to the island after spending many idyllic childhood holidays there. It did not disappoint.

 

How to financially plan for Christmas

It’s no secret that Christmas can be one of the most expensive times of the year. With presents to buy and huge food shops to tackle, the festivities can put strain on your bank account. If you’re keen to manage your finances well this Christmas, you’re in the right place. Here, we’ll explore how to plan your spending and top tips for cutting costs.

festive table

Be realistic with what you can afford

Many people feel tempted to splash the cash during the festive season – from indulging in luxury food to buying expensive designer gifts. But spending more than you can afford may put you in financial difficulty, particularly if you build up debt. The key is to be realistic with what you can afford to keep your finances healthy through Christmas and beyond. To do this successfully, you need to set yourself a budget for food, gifts and any other festive things, which we explain below.

Set yourself a budget and stick to it

When it comes to successfully managing your finances at Christmas, you should set yourself a spending budget and stick to it. Take a look at your finances and see how much disposable income you have to spend, or any savings you’ve got that you’d be happy to use over the festive period. It’s wise to follow the 50/30/20 budget rule, which divides your income into 50% for essentials, 20% on debts and savings, and 30% on anything else. If you follow this, you could use 30% of your income over the festive season on tasty treats, presents and other goodies.

shopping bags

Cut costs by making homemade gifts

Are you keen to cut costs this Christmas? With many people across the country facing financial strain due to the coronavirus pandemic, you’re certainly not alone. One simple way to cut costs is to make your own gifts this year, rather than fork out on expensive presents. You could bake homemade cakes or cookies. Why not create a piece of artwork if you’re particularly creative, or even make your own candles in your kitchen. The options are almost endless!

Shop around for the best deals

Another easy way to save money at Christmas is to shop around for the best deals. If there’s a specific item you want to buy as a gift, look at various retailers. See if they have any offers you can take advantage of. Of course, this doesn’t only apply to present shopping, but food shopping too. If you have time, check out any deals supermarkets have on your favourite festive treats. Maybe you can get what you need for the best possible prices.

By effectively managing your money over the Christmas season, you can enjoy the festivities without having a financial hangover to face in the new year.