Organising Challenge For All – Whether Spring, Autumn Or Fall

Every day I pay thanks to the internet. And social media.

I believe it’s a miracle.

And don’t even get me started on Instagram. I’m a fan. Wherever I may be, I can check out what’s going on around the globe . There are the most fantastic photos in my stream.

This one not quite so fantastic, but a flavour of my day today.

Giant mutated moth? Or common garden leaf?

Giant mutated moth? Or common garden leaf?

(p.s it’s not a dirty carpet – just an odd filter I used for some reason!)

Connecting on social media means a gal from the Northern hemisphere (aka me) can observe with fascination how the seasons are so different down under.

Barbecuing the Christmas turkey on the beach. No slow cooker required.

Someone I have recently connected with is Helen from Clutter Rescue. Helen is Australian.

I like a bit of decluttering myself. So having yet another #urgetopurge I’ve decided to participate in her #springorganisingchallenge

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(not least because she spells organising with an S)

Fancy joining in? Whenever you are, and whatever season you be in – whether that be Spring, Autumn or Fall.

(Fall is such a great name for the season – if you, like me, are a bit of a language geek click here to learn more).

It all kicks off tomorrow. If you’re feeling that ‘urge to purge’ then do come along for the ride. Or alternatively feel free to see where it takes me!

#FoodWasteFriday / Don’t Forget The Hashtag

Each week since March 2008, in order to motivate her to waste less food, Kristen The Frugal Girl, has posted a picture of any food that has gone bad over the last seven days. She found this embarrassing practice so helpful, to her, that she invited other bloggers to post their own photos, and Food Waste Friday was born.

FoodWasteFriday I started participating in October 2010 and have found, 4-years on, the amount of food I waste is minimal. Every Friday, as part of my No Waste Tastes Great routine, I account for all my potential food waste as well as confessing to any items that I failed to save.

Kristen kindly asked me to host Food Waste Friday, alternate weeks and her initial invite for everyone to join in is cordially extended here!
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When I hosted Food Waste Friday a fortnight ago I extended an invitation to join in. And it was taken up by many of you. Thank you.

(In fact Clare’s even started blogging once more)

I know that taking time to blog yourself, and to comment on other blogs takes time. If you don’t have this time, there is another way to join in.

Lately I’ve been generally out and about on social media more.

If you haven’t fallen in love with Instagram yet then do go take a look.

For me, Instagram is the best bits of Facebook and Twitter, without the down-sides.

To explain – my Facebook posts rarely reach 10% of those who have liked my page. Although I’m not 100% sure why, I think it may have some connection to the fact I’m not prepared to pay to ‘boost’ my posts aka ‘advertise’. So I have to live with it. In fact just yesterday I had someone comment that they thought I had ‘run off’. They don’t see anything I put on Facebook anymore.

Twitter I really enjoy – it’s a fabulous way to meet like-minded people . However I like to talk (a lot) and show my photos (a lot) – so it’s a little restrictive for me. But hey, I still love it. Hashtags are used well on Twitter (unlike Facebook – where it didn’t really take off). This means you can find relevant conversations quickly.

Instagram also uses hashtags really well. And it allows you to write as much (or as little) as you like and upload fantastic photos (as you can alter them as you upload).

Have I sold Instagram yet?

The reason I’m going off on a tangent today is because:

A) I do not have any actual food waste to share! Yay! This week has been a good week!

and

B) I totally and sincerely believe that being part of a community with a shared focus and goal works to improve habits and keeping us all on track.

Therefore I have another invitation. Today it is to hashtag #FoodWasteFriday.

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This Friday and every Friday – whenever you take part!

This can be done wherever you hang out. Instagram is fantastic, but Twitter is greatly used, and even if you’re only on Facebook you can use it there. I can still find you, which would be A-Mazing! (not in a weird scary way of course).

By using the hashtag #FoodWasteFriday you can be found and you can find others. No blogging required. But if you are a blogger – shout about it! Get your readers to join in.

Let’s have some fun, and reduce food waste at the same time Guys.

And back to normal service…

Simply Being Mum’s Friday Fridge

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Too much plastic this week, without a doubt.

I’m working on this – my shopping habits have started to change and I’ll be talking more about this next week.

I do have a banana hanging around. (see top photo).

But bananas never go to waste. There’s so much to do with them. Including this recipe. And this recipe. Oh and of course this recipe.

Those of you who participate in Food Waste Friday can now grab a fancy-schmancy button to perk up your posts. If you copy and paste the following code into your Food Waste Friday post, this little graphic will appear.”

Simply Being Mum
Simply Being Mum

If you blog on WordPress, just make sure you’re in html mode when you copy and paste the code, or it won’t work

My Very First Open House

I decided last week that I wanted to open up the blog, on a Thursday, to all my lovely virtual friends.

Sign hanging in the window of Edward & Vintage Sweet Shop - Tissington

Sign hanging in the window of Edward & Vintage Sweet Shop – Tissington

My first dilemma. What to call it?

I’ve always seen my blog as my virtual home, a place to greet and meet and have conversations about all sorts of things. After putting a call out for inspiration on Facebook, ‘Open House’ sprang to mind. Because it’s my home and you are all welcome inside.

I may be kind of within the ‘simple living’ genre for my blogging, but a variety of topics appear here.

Recently I’ve wanted to converse more, rather than just post my thoughts. The more time I spend on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest the more I want to hear about your lives – both virtual and in-real-life. There’s so much out there to learn about, hear about, laugh about.

It’s a short and sweet one today as I want to pass the ‘talking pillow’ over to you

(Could not resist a Breaking Bad reference).

3 things from me today:

1. I’ve recently virtually met Helen from Clutter Rescue. And I really like her. She has great advice to share including this that was featured over at Tiny Buddha.

2. A friend of mine, and a frequent visitor here, Clare has started blogging once more. Why not go by and say ‘Hi’. Clare’s lovely. Really lovely.

3. And finally I’m a little bit cheesed off today. Every few Thursdays or so I take my Mom for our pilgrimage to TK Maxx. Now, I’m no shopper, but TK Maxx hits the spot every time. Great unusual non-run-of-the-mill products, displayed in creative ways with fabulous prices. I picked up an amazing winter hat for just £7.99. It would appear it didn’t make it through the scanner and into my bag. Oh boy! Gutted! At least I didn’t lose it on the way to the car, but still – it’s my loss.  My other purchases (of which there were 2) are over on Instagram.

So imagine yourself coffee (or tea) in hand sitting at my kitchen table. What shall we talk about next?

Feel free to share anything. Links from things you’ve read, blog posts you have written, anecdotes from your week – anything goes! Knock yourself out (not literally of course!)

Is Downton Abbey Educational?

My 6-year-old son loves Downton Abbey.

In particular he adores the character – Mary.

Downton Abbey returned to the UK, for its 5th series, on Sunday. But he doesn’t watch it as it is shown on TV – we catch up on Netflix (we haven’t yet started series 4 – and I am aware this  series caused some controversy in the UK press so we may skip it either wholly or in part).

He doesn’t watch as it is shown for 2 reasons.

1. It’s on too late on a Sunday night

2. I like to watch first so I can fast-forward through age-inappropriate scenes.

Why do I let him watch it? Another 2 reasons.

1. He enjoys it

2. I think it’s educational.

Now (and, please, I do not wish to offend any die-hard Downton fans) it isn’t going to win any prizes for literature (and this is not it’s aim). As a TV show it is, in my opinion, a great history lesson for Kids, as it’s working it’s way through the early 1900’s.

(For the record I also know I am not going to win any prizes for litertaure ;))

I can sit with the Kids and when they ask questions, we can discuss ‘how things were then’.

So, seeing there was interest, I decided to work our way through the classics on Netflix.

(Those following on Instagram will have seen many a photo of hot chocolates at the ready for our cinema nights)

We started with the BBC dramatisation of  Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Predjudice‘  then we moved onto ‘Sense and Sensibility‘. We attempted ‘Emma’ although the amount of dialogue (and lack of action) in this last one made it difficult for the kids to remain interested. Just last week we completed Elizabeth Gaskell’s ‘North & South‘ (which, and I never thought I would say this has top-trumped Pride and Prejudice for me!).

There was also some DVD borrowing – My Mom lent us ‘Lost In Austen‘ that she picked up from a charity shop and my big sister threw ‘Wives & Daughters‘ in the mix.

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(Top tip – if you are a Pride & Prejudice fan, ‘Lost In Austen’ is worth watching – very entertaining!)

TV can get a bad rap in my opinion. See this old post where I defended it last time.

I loved literature as an older teenager, but it wasn’t introduced to me at an early age. I can understand why. Reading a classic to, or with, a 6-year-old or even a 9-year-old would be immensely difficult.

But by watching a dramatisation, the book can be brought to life. A 6-year-old may not understand everything that happens, but when he asks;

‘Mum why are there candles on the table?’, we can talk about the invention of electricity.

And maybe it will ignite their imagination to want to discover more about English Litertature, and not find it a chore when they HAVE to study it.

Just this week my daughter now is, as hoped, starting to read a classic novel. She is reading it with me and we are taking our time.

“It does not matter how slow you go, as long as you do not stop” Confucius

**Many classics are available free through iBooks**

No Waste Tastes Great / Another Invitation

I’m a little late to the blog today due to being rather tired!

Want to know why? Click here or here.

Anyhow! Back to reality and the 2000’s rather than the 1800’s.

I’d like to extend another invitation this Friday.

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This was last weeks invite to Food Waste Friday.

I’ve been participating in Food Waste Friday (Thanks to The Frugal Girl) for almost 4 years.

Each week I confess any food waste, alternate weeks I actually host Food Waste Friday – Thanks once again Kristen, and every Friday I invite you all to join in.

But I’d like to focus a little more on making food waste saves on the weeks I do not officially host.

These posts have always been called No Waste Tastes Great as they are based on my Friday routine. I sincerely believe by using up what we have (and what potentially could go to waste) we can all rustle up fantastic meals and snacks.

Therefore today it’s a slightly different running order. Do not fear there will be a fridge photo at the end of the post. It wouldn’t be Food Waste Friday without a photo of my fridge. Not for me anyway.

We will start at A.

I have apples and avocados to save.

The apples I have been given by a friend. This is an easy save.

This is what I did with last years haul. Be aware this is a video!

I agree – a rather random video. Looking back maybe I’d been in a slightly unusual mood that Friday?

But the avocados I’m a little perplexed by.

BeFunky_Avocados.jpg

I know we’ve had national guacamole day this week, but what else could I do with them? Do you know?

Moving on to my confession – 2 carrots do not look good. I’ll save what I can. But unsure how deep the damage is currently.

Carrots

And as promised:

Simply Being Mum’s Friday Fridge

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There’s a destination in mind for all it’s contents.

I invite you to share your food-waste confessions here, in the comments below, or to offer some much needed advice for my slowly deteriorating avocados.

Thanks as always to Kristen, The Frugal Girl, (the founder of Food Waste Friday and the inspiration behind No Waste Tastes Great)…Don’t forget to head on over to her’s to link up your Food Waste Friday post!

FoodWasteFriday

A Bag A Day Keeps The Clutter At Bay

It doesn’t matter what size bag.

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It could be a bin-liner, or a small paper gift bag.

What matters is that each day decluttering happens. Not as an afterthought, or as a ‘might get round to’.

When looking to reduce clutter, momentum is important. If overwhelmed with where to start or feeling daunted, it’s unproductive to set yourself unrealistic targets.

By just filling one carrier bag with unwanted items, to be re-homed at the local charity shop, that very first day and then each day after, you’ll be on the road to an uncluttered home. It’s that action of constantly moving forward that ultimately achieves results.

“It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop” Confucius.

Unsure if it works? It does. This is what I have done. I’ve been doing it 5 years.

I’m not a natural-born-minimalist. Nor am I a tidy person. It takes work. But as with any skill, the more I practice the better I become.

Some days I play ‘Declutter 20 things in 20 minutes’.

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Some days I just grab a bag and fill it.

And that’s what I’d suggest to anyone to do whether they be at the start of their declutter or living an almost clutter-free life.

For as we know decluttering never ends.

(Full disclosure – I have something I need to share, and will share on a decluttering post next week. There’s a skeleton in my closet.)

If you’d like read more on decluttering, I’ve written quite a few posts on the subject and below are a selection of them:

Engaging Children In Decluttering

Make Decluttering A Daily Habit

Declutter 20 Things In 20 Minutes

Declutterers Indecision / Missed Opportunities

Decluttering / The Feel Good Factor

Is It Useful? Is It Beautiful?

The Cost Of Storage

The Definition Of Clutter

When Scrapbooking Goes Bad

The Things You Own End Up Owning You

Let Me Introduce You To The Clutterfairy

Time To Move On? Sell it!

Letting Go Of Clutter To Become Who You Now Are

Please feel free to share your own decluttering tips in the comments section below!

What Making Pastry Teaches Kids

I truly believe that teaching your children to cook is one of the most important everyday life skills you can pass on to them.

Being able to feed yourself and others, is not only a blessing it is a necessity.

(Maybe not such a necessity these days, as there is an abundance of pre-prepared food in the developed world to choose from.)

The sharing of food, or breaking of bread, with one another is probably one of the most fundamental family rituals (and an occasion to be shared with friends).

Food plays such a major part in our lives.

But it appears that family meal times are losing their importance in the modern family.

I just read this interesting article stating that “we as a society don’t consider family time a priority”, and suggests that “family dinner isn’t and shouldn’t be something to get through”.

Personally I consider family time a priority. And as that time can be limited, now my two children are in full-time school, I try to make the time I spend with them not only enjoyable, but educational. There are many things I can, and want, to teach them.

Making pastry being one of those things.

Why in particular pastry?

Well, apparently (I’m assured this actually happened) I was the only child in home-economics class (back in the 80’s) who knew how to make pastry. My Mom still proudly mentions this fact to this day – some 20-odd years later.

It was time my budding pastry-chef 6-year-old son learnt how to make short crust pastry. If you are envisaging mean Mommy tightly tying an apron around her reluctant son who’d rather be playing with his power rangers, please let me reassure you this wasn’t the case. He’d been asking to make his own pies for days!

And make pies he did.

Pies!

Pies!

(Please note all photos were taken with an iPhone, and also quickly as I was obviously supervising my Son. So, not great, but you get the idea!)

We measured out the butter and flour – Lesson 1 – measurements and weights/using scales:

Lesson 1 - Using scales/weights and measurements

Lesson 1 – Using scales/weights and measurements

Then we chopped the butter – Lesson 2 – how to safely use kitchen utensils:

Lesson 2 - How to safely use a knife

Lesson 2 – How to safely use a knife

We crumbed the flour and butter – Lesson 3 – patience! and using a gentle touch!:

Lesson 3 - Patience!

Lesson 3 – Patience!

Water was added – Lesson 4 – Understanding volume and measurement of liquids:

Lesson 3 - Measurement of liquids/volume

Lesson 4 – Measurement of liquids/volume

The mixture was stirred to make a ball – Lesson 5 – How consistencies change:

Lesson 5 - How consistencies change!

Lesson 5 – How consistencies change!

Rolling out the dough – Lesson 6 – Applying pressure to objects and what changes that makes:

Lesson 6 - Applying pressure!

Lesson 6 – Applying pressure!

Cutting out the dough – Lesson 7 – Spacial awareness – cutting to maximise the amount:

Lesson 7 - Maximising return!

Lesson 7 – Maximising return!

Bottom of the pies were baked – Lesson 8 – How heat alters state (baking):

Lesson 8 - How heat alters state!

Lesson 8 – How heat alters state!

The pies were filled by me, with slow cooked steak. No lesson here I guess ;) Except maybe Mum comes in useful occasionally?:

Pie5

Then the pies were topped with more pastry – Lesson 9 – Reducing waste by using up all we had:

Lesson 8 - Reducing waste!

Lesson 9 – Reducing waste!

And voila we had pies. I removed from oven – the Final lesson – being oven aware!:

Dan's pies!

Dan’s pies! The final lesson – being careful by ovens!

10 lessons learnt by making pastry. But maybe ultimately the biggest lesson learnt is that even a 6-year-old who has never made pastry before can rustle up some stunning home-made pies for a tasty family dinner, enjoyed by all.

So tasty!

So tasty!

I’m very proud of my budding pastry chef. Very proud.