This Week’s Meal Plan
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This Week's Meal Plan - image shows cherry tomatoes, some cut into halves along with basil leaves

In our house, Chris deals with writing the meal plan and then doing the shopping. We try to make sure we write the meal plan before we go shopping so that minimal (if any) food goes to waste. Since lockdown, we’ve been attempting to compost the vegetables and bits that can go on the compost heap rather than in the bin so this helps with wastage too. Chris writes the plan on Monday before going shopping int he evening so our meal plan runs Tuesday to Monday.

Where possible we had been freezing leftovers as homemade microwave meals on busy days when we were trying to squeeze in dinner between work and evening groups or meetings. Once lockdown happened we were often finding that more meals were ending up in the freezer but not always getting used so last week was “leftovers” week – we basically had a list of what needed to be used and made our way through it – I had meatballs and pasta twice in one week! (Not that I’m complaining it’s one of my favourites!). Some of this week’s meals were also either leftovers or thing we’d got in the freezer and hadn’t been used.

Tuesday – Pizza – Chris gets the pre-made bases when they are available in our local supermarket then he makes the toppings. When possible Jaxon will assist him to create something. This time we just had margarita (I think it was cheddar and mozzarella yum!)

Wednesday – Ribs with Chips and Broccoli – Not our usual fare but we were given the ribs by a friend so they’d gone in the freezer until we had use for them.

Thursday – Leftovers and Rice – I think this one is raid the freezer and see what comes out – I’ll have to update you with what we have when we get to dinner!

Friday – Frikadeller with Chips and Leftover Sauce – Frikadeller is something that Chris found in our local supermarket but also found when we were in Copenhagen. They are a type of meatball but the supermarket ones almost look like little burgers – so they work either in sandwiches like a cold burger (Although can be heated too) or like with this meal with chips.

Saturday – Jackets and Chilli – When Rex was born, our friends from church organised a meal rota for us for the first week or so, one of the meals that arrived was chilli with nachos and other bits. There was so much chilli that we froze some of it and have been working our way through it for other meals too. Definitely looked after with this meal!

Sunday – Gammon and Dauphinoise Potatoes – Both today and tomorrow’s meals come from the Everyday Gluten-Free* book by Nosh Books. We love the recipe books from Nosh Books as they are really easy to follow and really yummy food! Also, we often find that a recipe for 4 people can do the 3 of us and either 1 or 2 portions in the freezer for another day (This recipe can be found on page 182)

Monday – Sweet and Sour Pork Noodles – Another recipe from the Everyday Gluten-Free* book by Nosh Books. This one can be found on page 102. Chris will often add extra veg in with the noodle to make sure we’ve got more of our 5-a-day! This again is another where the leftovers can be frozen for another day.

Make sure you check out Katy’s meal plan and the other links on her page to other meal plans for this week.

Katykicker

Books: The Gift of Cockleberry Bay

One great thing about lockdown/isolation is that I’ve been able to read more. When I was offered an advanced reader copy of The Gift of Cockleberry Bay, I jumped at the chance. But with juggling homeschool, I read this back in March, I’ve only just properly been able to write about it. (Sorry!).

The Gift of Cockleberry Bay

I discovered Nicola’s books on Amazon Kindle Unlimited sort by accident a while back (like last year, see here) and loved them. The first in the series is The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay and the second is Meet Me in Cockleberry Bay

All our favourite characters from Cockleberry Bay are back, including Hot, Rosa Smith’s adorable dachshund, and his new-born puppies.

Now successfully running the Cockleberry Café and wishing to start a family herself, Rosa feels the time is right to let her inherited corner shop go. However, her benefactor left one important legal proviso: that the shop cannot be sold, only passed on to somebody who really deserves it.

Rosa is torn. How can she make such a huge decision? And will it be the right one? Once the news gets out, untrustworthy strangers appear in the Bay, their motives uncertain. With the revelation of more secrets from Rosa’s family heritage, a new series of unpredictable and life-changing events begin to unfold.

The Gift of Cockleberry Bay concludes this phenomenally successful series in typically brisk and bolshy style, and will delight Rosa’s many thousands of fans.

It was great to be back in Cockleberry Bay to see how those characters are doing and what’s going on in their lives for the third instalment. I love how in the first book Rosa arrives in Cockleberry Bay and immediately makes friends and is adopted by the village, her little sausage dog Hot (yes Hot The Dog) is also adopted by the village too. This third book in the series ties up all those loose ends (after it’s opened a few more to puzzle over for a chapter or five!). I loved it that much I’d finished it in 3 days! Clearly should have slowed down a bit but I was desperate to know what was happening.

In the first book, Rosa is gifted a shop in the little village and in this third instalment she works on deciding what to do with the shop. The rule is that she can’t sell it, it has to be passed on to someone who really deserves it. With Rosa and Josh starting a family of their own, she starts to think about who she can pass the shop onto. And if a baby on the horizon wasn’t exciting enough Hot The Dog and one of the other four-legged friends from the village have a litter of puppies too! I had an inkling who would get it but I’m glad that I didn’t know for sure until the announcement was made in the book.

I’m not sure it can stand alone as an individual book without missing part of the back story so if you want to give it a go start with the first book and work your way through the whole story (and hopefully fall in love with Cockleberry Bay just as much as I did).

I was sent a review copy of The Gift of Cockleberry Bay to write this book review. These are my own opinions.

Hannah’s Cozy Home Days: Day Thirty-Eight

Hannah's Cozy Home Days - a series all about my adventures while socially distancing during the Coronavirus Pandemic 2020

Hello there, it’s Thursday now. I don’t know about you but some days I can’t actually remember which day of the week it is. They sort of seem to blend together. Some days have specific things on them like Church is still on a Sunday but weekdays – no chance all a muddle!

Today we tried a new plan for homeschooling. Yesterday when we finished dinner, I wrote a list of the tasks Jaxon needed to try and get through during our “academic” time sessions. There was no guarantee he’d get through all of them and some of them looked like big tasks but actually were little ones. In the end, we managed to get through almost 4 out of 6 of them before running out of time. The others have rolled over to tomorrow. I think it definitely worked better for Jaxon to see what was planned and we could go from there. Jaxon also took to correcting my handwriting where I hadn’t done my letters quite right. Maybe I need to practice my cursive handwriting while we’re doing homeschool things.

Mummy's Corrected Handwriting

For Create and Craft time, we baked some cakes. It was a kit that Chris had got from the supermarket and only made 6 little cupcakes so that was sort of disappointing but it worked out and gave us a cake each. (There’s currently one left on the worktop – it’ll probably be gone by the time we finish dinner later but I might be able to sneak it before someone else does…).

Jaxon played Transport Tycoon and some other games on his iPad for a little bit this afternoon while I worked and did some other bits on my laptop from the kitchen table.

I worked on updating my projects list – some of the everyday tasks have stopped now that I’m juggling homeschooling too but a lot of do still happen when possible. For instance, as I write this, the washing machine is running for the second time today and I’m about to hang the washing out for a couple of hours in the hope it might dry a bit before either being left out on the line overnight (and then drying tomorrow) or being brought inside to finish off drying in the kitchen overnight.

Hannah’s Cozy Home Days: Day Thirty

Hannah's Cozy Home Days - a series all about my adventures while socially distancing during the Coronavirus Pandemic 2020

There’s definitely some serious catching up that might need to happen soon. I keep writing notes of what I want to say and then don’t always get there. I’ll keep trying though, hopefully if I can make it part of the routine instead of tagged on at the end of the day if there’s time will hopefully make it happen properly.

So today is Day 30, it’s the 15th April which means it’s less than two weeks to my birthday – I can’t decide whether counting down to my birthday is in bad taste given the rest of the crazy going on in the world (might need answers on a postcard to that one so we can maintain our social distancing lol!)

This morning, I woke up with a headache and ended up going to curl up in Jaxon’s bed while he was snuggled up in our bed next to Chris playing on his iPad (and Chris was reading the news again lol). Jaxon’s bed isn’t the widest but at least he’s now in a proper single it’s not like when I tried to squash up in his toddler bed for a nap before Christmas! I woke up around 8:30 and needed to get motivated as Chris started working from home at 9 am (ish). I got down to the kitchen and they were mid-breakfast. I sat down with my breakfast in the lounge when Jaxon started his Cosmic Kids Yoga session for today. Sometimes he’s really focused and loves it and other days he messes about. On the whole, he was focusing because he knew I wasn’t feeling very well and I was still eating my breakfast (although once I finished and Chris stuck his head around the door, that was it, his focus was gone!)

Today in our “Academic Time” slot, we learnt about volcanoes and try to label the different parts of the volcanoes. This follows on from yesterday where we had Google Maps up and were trying to find where in the world different volcanoes were. Did you know that from it’s very base to the top, Mauna Loa in Hawaii is actually taller than Everest? Also that Popocatépetl actually recently erupted in January 2020 – okay so that’s what the Twinkl PowerPoint told me but I’ve just gone to check the spelling and apparently it erupted again at the weekend. Volcanoes and Earthquakes were two of my favourite topics when it came to Geography so really have to make sure I don’t get too nerdy about it and carried away!

For “Creative Time”, we carried on making a papier-mâché volcano for a science experiment tomorrow. In the end, I did most of the glueing – Jaxon and I were mid-falling out this morning and he just gave up. He’s going to be doing the painting tomorrow then hopefully we can either do it later in the day or we’ll wait until Saturday or Monday to do the actual experiment (if Chris is helping, I might try and post a video to Instagram. You can find me at @hannahjplans). Hopefully, you can see the in-progress video here.

This afternoon while Jaxon had iPad time and Quiet Time, I got on with some work and then got on with my knitting for today. I’ve been working on Section 14 of the pattern which is colour work which is a first for me. It’s kind of exciting but I am finding that my “yarn around the back” and slip stitches are getting super tight – I’m hoping once I get through this bit it’ll ease up again and then once I block it, it won’t be obvious that it is getting tighter.

Composting at Home

We’ve lived in our current house over a decade and we have two compost bins, the first actually completely collapsed through no use/mistreatment over the years. The second lives down by our shed and up until recently wasn’t really being used. I guess between one thing and another it was just easier to chuck the food waste in the black bin and be done with it. We have usable compost in it but need to figure out how to get it out and make use of it. (Chris has just told it’s super easy to do – clearly it’s just me in my pregnant state who can’t deal with it lol).

Growing up my Dad had a compost heap and also had a worm farm (wormery) – both take mostly the same items but the wormery can’t take certain things (like citrus fruits – the compost can take it but not too much. If you give it to the worms, it can raise the pH level too far and make the worms unwell – also spicy good and dairy products aren’t good for them either.

So, since being on “lockdown”, I decided to try and narrow down what we put in our black bin. Here in Bedfordshire, we have the black bin which is household waste, the green bin which is garden waste (like grass cuttings etc) and then the orange bin which is recycling (but not all recycling is created equal so some stuff can’t go in there). We then collect glass which is either recycled at the bottle bank or if it’s clean and has it’s lid, then we take it to The Store for the jars to be reused when people purchase “refill” products from the shop. (The Store can also be found on Facebook here and Instagram here). This all happened to coincide with us filling our green bin and then being notified by the council that green bin collections would be cancelled for the time being to minimise the amount of time their bin men had to be out doing collections.

But what about our black bin waste, some is cooked food and so can’t be composted but what about the vegetable waste – what were we doing with that? Well, normally it goes right in the bin in the kitchen and then goes out in the main bin for it’s fortnightly collection. In the last week or so, we’ve been trying to collect the compostable waste in the kitchen then Jaxon and I have walked it down to the our compost bin each morning or as needed, rather than putting it in the black bin. I’m sure if I’d thought about it, I could have seen how much we were putting in the compost instead of the black bin and then worked out how much longer the bin bag was lasting (see too much time on my hands! I’d probably even have time to create a spreadsheet to measure the change…)

Well, to improve the composting, I figured some more research was needed. It’s either that or I keep asking Dad or Chris what to add or not add to the compost heap. (It’s always possible that this list isn’t complete. It’s a bit of an amalgamation from different sources).

According to the Recycle Now website, it takes between nine and twelve months for your compost to become ready for use, so right now we won’t see the benefits (other than those visible like the black bin changes) but we will be able to use it next year which should be good. Also from Dad’s advice, we need to add an accelerator that will help to break down the food waste a bit quicker.

I’ve been out this evening to add the next lot to the heap and gave it a good mix so that the “fresh” stuff was a bit more embedded into the older stuff underneath it. I’m not sure if this is the technical way to do it but it seemed to be like a good idea! I read another blog post about composting and it says to add to one heap for 6-8 months and then if you can start a second – that way you can be building up the second while the first is doing it’s thing and composting all those bits you’ve added to it – I might need to think about seeing if the old compost bin is rescuable. Otherwise, I might have to start a post-lockdown shopping list.

Do you recycle in your house? What about composting? Is it all just a bit too much effort and it just goes in your black bin (or equivalent)?