learning to live a little leaner…

My final day at work yesterday for a whole week – yay! – I am winding down today but as soon as I can pack a few things and jump in the car on Saturday we are headed for Scotland.  Of course we will have to stay in a rented cottage as our own is still not ready (or even close) but we will be able to go in the garden which has probably reached jungle proportions by now.

After my initial decluttering of the toiletries, my underwear drawer and the cleaning products I have ground to a bit of a halt and nothing much is getting done in the house at the moment due to my continuing heavy work commitments.

You may remember my post in February about work and how I had decided to leave but I was asked to stay if they could make things better; well rather than winding down towards retirement it seems my ‘career’ is having a sudden late onset revival and after agreeing to stay on I have been promoted this week!  It is actually the same job in essence with a new title.  Although I think much more will be expected of me  – earning my keep as it were,  and I keep wondering if I really want this right now but I won’t make that decision until I have tried it out.  I have been given full authority to sort out our department (I can’t say too much about this here as it is a touch political) and make it more efficient and organised.  A bit like decluttering I think!

With all this organising, decluttering and efficiency required both at home and work I have been reading a lot about the Lean methods used by the Japanese and I must say it makes sense to me.  Although the principles of Lean refer more to the manufacturing process and giving customer value you can use these same principles to apply to your life or other situations.  Lean concentrates on adding value – if your activities do not add value then they are wasteful in Lean terms.

Below in bold are the main ‘wastes’ associated with Lean and are taken from Lean for Dummies Cheat Sheet.

Consider the questions of each type of waste which have been translated by me into the more domestic situation of Household Management – are you able to identify with any of my wastes or perhaps you have different issues.

Apologies here to any truly Lean followers if my interpretations are a little loose. 

  • Overproduction

    – do you provide more information than is necessary or spend unnecessary amount of time on paperwork? Do you overproduce generally creating future waste?

Whenever you produce more than you need, you are creating waste.

Buying too much, making too much, storing too much can all be examples of waste in the home.  When we waste we end up throwing the waste away.  A lot of effort can be put into buying, making and storing and this is needless if you end up with waste.

I thought about this question with regards to my emails and paperwork.  My emails can be wordy – perhaps my posts are too – don’t answer that one!

In respect of the paperwork – it takes a long time – I have a lot of it – files and files in fact – do I need to hang on to it?

I also thought about the overproduction involved in managing the grocery shopping and cooking.  There is no doubt good meal planning prevents waste but can the act of meal planning be simplified by doing one menu for the month for each season – then that is it – no more planning.

Could I simplify our accounting in some way – I love my money program but is it really necessary to know where every penny was spent?  I am working on this one.

  • Waiting

    – do you spend too much time waiting for information from others or is there a time lag between production steps?

I can identify here with the time lag – I have time lag between washing and ironing the clothes and the putting away – so our house constantly resembles a Chinese laundry (am I allowed to say that these days?)

We do not wash up immediately after eating in the evenings (bad habit)

We constantly buy things and then do not get to use them – instances of this are all over the house from those little flossing brushes to a whole bathroom suite.

  • Inventory

    – work in progress – Do you have large stocks of materials and is your work in process inventory too high?

Obviously after seeing all my cleaning products together I can only say yes to this and a lot of the other ‘stuff’ in my life.  The garage is testimony to this along with the craft items, an oversupply of food in the cupboards and freezer.  I also have half-finished craft projects and maintenance projects on the go.

  • Transportation

    – Do things flow efficiently.  Could you combine deliveries or deliver things more quickly?

This can cover a number of household issues from the flow of a room – how you might organise the kitchen for instance – to the flow of doing tasks and combining errands and tasks.

Decluttering I find actually helps the flow.  Far too often I find that I am keeping things in the wrong place because something else is resident in the right place.

  • Overprocessing

    Do you needlessly work on something more than once?

Almost certainly – the constant decluttering for instance!  I might also begin something that I cannot finish and then have to come back to it later and start over.

  • Motion

    – how is work passed along the team – do people understand what is required at each step?  Do people and equipment move between tasks efficiently?

We are a team of two normally and will be once again when team daughter and partner move out LOL.  I do not think the housework is split 50:50 in our team of two.  Hubby works longer hours than me so it would seem unfair.   Hubby is generally on waste management and fix and repair, whilst I am on meal planning and production, laundry production and household maintenance and cleanliness.  It is hard to ‘pass along’ on a team of two – although I can think of a good example of this where I generate the waste and hubby moves it!  I think co-ordination could work better and I believe a bit more effort to take note of what is required at each step  – the finishing off process – would not go amiss.

  • Defects

    – how often do you find mistakes – do you make the same mistakes on a regular basis?

Oh I definitely think we do in this household – even something as simple as the washing up inspection when dishes are rejected as not properly clean and need to be done again, or items of clothing not put out in time for washing and are not included in the wash.  Receipts not being presented on time when I am trying to balance our accounts, shopping put away in the wrong place and has to be swapped around, out of stock items not being put on the shopping list ready for the weekly shop and toilet rolls not being replaced by the last user – need I go on!

  • Workforce

    – do you use time wisely?  Do you spend most of your time on activities that add value and are a high priority?

Obviously not as I am writing this post now when I should be maintaining the house and packing!

 

Reading both Marie Kondo’s book on decluttering, the Zero Waste Home and the Minimalists book I can see how Lean fits into all these concepts quite well.  Tightening up on all the above areas of waste could make life simpler and my stuff more manageable.  I am certainly going to give this a lot more thought over the Easter break and look at how I can apply a no waste policy to our household.

 

 

Have a good Easter x

 

 

 

 

simplifying the house – declutter day 2…

Back again for day 2

Today with Kondo book in hand I intended tackling my clothes – maybe not all the clothes – we will see how it goes.

To get this over with I will say it now – I am starting not with my Tops but with my underwear, tights etc.

Arghhh – Did I hear another gasp – what is this woman thinking – is she mad –  it says clearly in the book Start With Tops.

And yes I know I read that bit too but I do like to begin as I would get dressed – it makes perfect sense to me.  I must say I was rather disappointed that there are no further details for dealing with underwear in the book, only the so called ‘potato socks’.   I think it leaves a novice tidier a bit at sea here – they are not easy shaped garments to fold, display or contain.  Maybe this is why we have to begin with tops for the practice so that when we are eventually challenge by a pair of knickers we will instantly know how to toss them into shape.

For this reason I prefer some of the methods in a book by Elika Gibbs –  Practical Princess Perfect Wardrobe – Declutter and re-jig your wardrobe to transform your life.  Yet another author claiming to change my life for the better.  I  just fell in love with the beautiful photography in this book – page after page of organised, colour co-ordinated clothes in out of this world closets and a lingerie drawer to die for.  I find this book quite inspirational. 

Now I know French women take great care with their lingerie – unlike most English women I’m told they only ever wear matching sets even if just popping to the Co-op for a pint of milk.  They dress as if they are going to be seen in their underwear – well you never know – always be prepared.

So with this in mind I am going through my smalls with the intention of ditching the mis-matched, throwing out the tatty and flinging the faded.  But to begin with everything out on the bed (I cannot do the floor as I do not have enough of it).

Underwear socks tights

 

 

These are my favourite matching sets and they are reasonably new and definite keepers.

Keepers underwear sets

 

 

These are a bit past their sell by dates and will need replacing as I always need some paler unpatterned sets for under pale coloured tops.

To be replaced

 

 

This is the going out pile -items that do not fit well or too old.

Throw out pile

 

 

So putting it all back together I decided to do away with the Ikea compartments and try organising the drawer in a different way.

This is my underwear drawer before…

Underwear before

and after -with Bras on the left  and…

Bras

matching briefs on the right

Panties

I much prefer this  – I can see everything at a glance and most importantly it avoids endless knicker folding!

I will let you know if it works for me.

Underwear drawer

I then used the Ikea compartments in the bottom drawer for my tights, socks and leggings. It makes more sense to keep these together as before they span over 3 drawers, mainly because I kept jeans and leggings together.  I am going to hang my jeans creating more drawer space. I wear a lot of black tights for work so these are just in a pile rather than on edge and I always buy the same black socks so there is never a problem with pairing.  The white socks – out of picture – are also all the same and I only use these after a pedicure to give the foot cream chance to soak in overnight.

Tights socks and leggings

Another job done and surprisingly after the rearranging and tossing I am left with 2 completely empty drawers although I cannot believe I have just put these pictures of my undies all over the internet!!  At least they are all clean and neat!

Now I will add the required replacements to my shopping list for another day and next time maybe I will tackle my tops.

 

simplifying the house – declutter day 1…

Spurred on by finding and reading the Kondo book that has seemingly gripped the nation I woke this morning on a mission.  However, going against all the ‘Kondopinions’ in her book I am starting not with my clothes but my toiletries.

Aha you say this is probably your downfall of ‘keeping’ Tidy and well it might be!

To begin

I do agree the best way to sort is to get everything out of the cupboards, drawers, shelves and hidey holes so you can see at a glance the full ‘amount’ of stuff to deal with.  So I emptied my main storage areas – dressing table, shower room cupboards and travel and makeup bags.  This clean out I really intend to deal with those items that were maybe put back last time ‘just in case’  in fact I think the ‘just in case’ is one of my sticking points.  Looking at everything laid out all together my first question is do I really need all this stuff?  Can I simplify and reduce it to only the bare necessities?

Step 1 Empty Cupbaords

For instance I have kept some hotel goodies ‘in case’ a guest arrives without shampoo or body cream – given that my mum comes with the whole of Superdrug in her luggage and she is our main guest I hardly think I will be needing these any time soon!  In fact I have never had a guest come unequipped as far as I can remember.

No I realise that I am keeping them as I am loath to throw things away because of the waste and of course they look rather cute.  I have a picture in my mind of preparing one of those wonderful guest baskets full of tempting creams and shower gels and sachets of lavender you know like the ones you see in magazines articles but then I said to myself if ever I have such a guest requiring this I will go and buy something purposefully until then they are out and empty space is in.  And the waste – well look below I have put the shampoo samples to good use washing out my makeup and hair brushes.

Wash and Dry

I have been quite ruthless this time and in a way Kondo has given me the permission to throw away some of the items I know I have kept because I hate to waste – but I can see the point that the shelf life is limited on toiletries.

This is the end result of the clear out – in this pile are items to use up or throw out, a few unused items to go to charity and empty packaging for recycle.  I even surprised myself that there was so much.

Toiletries to throw out

I did come across one or two items that I know I want to use but somehow between one clear out and another it just sits on the shelf.  One of these items is the Weleda Birch Cellulite oil – I do need to use this everyday though to see any effect.  I also have a body brush and I did use this every morning at one time and would like, as part of my wellbeing project this year, to start doing this again.  So I am giving myself 3 months to use or lose it.

One of the hardest decisions was my small collection of aromertherapy oils – I have the book and quite a few oils but somehow I have never really got into mixing the oils so I decided to slim down the number and keep only my absolute favourites plus one or two of those like Juniper that add the low notes (or maybe it’s the high notes!)

Now for the after pictures -Firstly my dressing table drawers

Top drawer – Cleansing and skin care – everything in this drawer is used either daily or periodically.

Cleansing and skincare

Middle drawer – ailment potions on the left – makeup and nailcare on the right.  Not everything in here is used daily but frequently.

Aiments drawer

Lower drawer – Haircare – I think this is about the bare bones – unfortunately the can of mousse is too large for the drawer.

Haircare

The medicine cabinet –

Containing potions and lotions and my essential oils.  Hopefully I won’t need the items in here everyday but I might need them occasionally for cuts, bites, stings, bruises etc.  I keep my shaver in here for convenience as it is near the shaver point.

Medicine Cupboard

 

Shower room cupboard –

This large cupboard houses all the stocks of shower gels, deodorants, face creams, suntan lotions

Shower room cupboard

and my pedicure kit, mini travel and spare supplies for the toothbrush.

Shower room cupboard 2

Below here I keep toilet rolls and cleaning products but that is another clearing session.

I have made a shopping list of those items I do need to replace because they are about to run out so when I feel I need a bit of retail therapy which for me is not often I can purposefully shop rather that buy something I might not use.

So end of day 1 simplifying and decluttering and I feel quite pleased with myself.  I have let go of a few items I had been holding onto since last time but had not used in a whole year.  Of course I do not use the thermometer very often not even in the last year but I suppose you do have to keep some items ‘just in case’.

Have a good weekend x

Tidy Friday…and catching up with myself

At last it is Friday and my day off or rather a day to get down to some tidying and cleaning, paperwork and planning.  Such a lot to fit into so little time.

This morning my book prize arrived from Sue and I have now put it by my bedside table ready for some early bedtime reading.

Book Prize

 It was tempting to sit down and start reading this morning but I really need to get a grip on my messy house.  I am having to work all hours at the moment as my colleague is off sick for a few weeks and I am doing both our jobs but this means not much is getting done outside of work hours.

I spent an hour or two this morning stripping our bed and putting things away – my usual TIDY FRIDAY – I don’t know how it happens but at the end of a week I find many things that belong upstairs end up downstairs and vice versa – I think perhaps it is the little dust fairies who run round in the night moving everything around and sprinkling their fairy dust everywhere!

After my mammoth putting away session I went into the office to look over the pile of paperwork.

Tidy Friday desktop

Even though I try to keep a tidy desk by the end of the week it invariably ends up with bits and pieces strewn across it waiting for my attention.

I sorted through the many leaflets that had dropped through the door – there was one for the local Pizza place, a made to measure blinds offer and a Councillors letter asking for volunteers to help run the local village library  which is under threat.  I only wish I had the time – I can’t help thinking that if I had been able to retire this year at 60 as was the case under the old rules (now it will be 66) I would have had spare time to do this and also look after my new baby grand-daughter.

After sifting through the pile I pulled out anything interesting and snipped the coupons and put the rest for recycling.

Today on the urgent pile I need to look at our house insurance for our home here in Yorkshire and the BT line rental which we pay up front to save £30.  I have still to finish the accommodation receipts for our cottage insurers and find the contents receipts to send.  Probably more than a mornings work in that lot.

It has been quite helpful that I signed up for a Sainsbury’s Credit card earlier in the year as it is interest free on new purchases  until 2015 and I get extra reward points.  It means that we can pay all the accommodation costs without dipping into savings until the insurers reimburse us – we are over £1,000 out-of-pocket from our stays over in Scotland since the flood.

 Working until after 6pm each night for four days a week means I am not spending money at the shops as they are well and truly shut when I leave work.  In fact I had to get my son in laws birthday card and pressie from Sainsbury’s last night.  My daughter tells me he wanted a Christmas jumper so now he has one – a bright red one with an elf and bells on! We wouldn’t want him to feel left out this Xmas!

I have over £155 on my reward points and this week is double up week so if I spend them wisely I can get items to the value of £310.  So far I have bought some clothes for myself and baby L, the Xmas jumper, and some Xmas decorations (will show these another post).  They have extended the range of departments and goods to select from this time and wine is included so I may be able to stock up for Christmas.

You may remember I bought a Lumie lamp last year – and it worked but we put it away during the summer and have only just put it back in our bedroom since the clock change plunged us into those awful dark mornings.   We found last year that the alarm was irratating and unnecessary as the rising sun effect woke us up on its own.  There is one problem though – I prefer our ordinary clock to tell the time – I particularly like a proper clock face to a digital one and I find the light from the digital ones distracting when I am trying to sleep.  Current research has found that sleeping in complete darkness is better for our bodyclocks, unfortunately the Lumie lamp has an illuminated digital clock face which you cannot turn off so I have stuck a circular piece of cardboard over the clock this morning to block out the light!  I will let you know if it works and if it does I will have to think of a more permanent solution.

Lumie Lamp update

 

The bathroom pumps that we ordered to boost the hot water pressure from the new taps arrived by post this week and the bath one has already been fitted and it has improved the flow – so our builder will be back soon to do the basin tap.   Once done we can fit the down lights and the fan and the bath panel and hey presto it will be DONE.  It has almost taken as long as my daughters bathroom 2 years ago.

Bathroom refurb 1

 

Tomorrow me, hubby, elder daughter and partner are going to Masham, North Yorkshire for the day to my younger daughters and meeting up with my hubby’s sister.  We will be celebrating my son in-laws birthday and also my sister in laws recent marriage to her partner of many years.   We sadly missed their wedding celebration in Oxford  because of the flood at our cottage.

It is also our yearly Crisis at Christmas Coffee morning at our local church so I might pop in for an hour before we set off for Masham.  It will be the first year that I haven’t made anything for them but with my extra hours at work and all the paperwork for the insurance claim and my dodgy knee I think I am quite over extended at the moment.

Hope you have a good weekend. x

It’s the little things…

How the chaos and clutter sneaks in and builds up

I surveyed my house this morning and took a quick snap of some of the many bits and pieces left lying around to be put away. Thursday is my last day at work and the start of the weekend for me and the day I feel absolutely drained by the frenzy of the working week.  So this is usually the evening when very little gets done as by this time I have run completely out of steam and have neither the intent nor the inclination to do anything but rustle up something quick to eat and then flop.

Although my house may have been tidy on the Sunday evening after the long slog of a weekend’s housekeeping there is always a slow build up of items on most surfaces by Thursday.   My survey this morning highlights the problems I have as you can see from the list of items below…

  • A large unopened letter from Tuesday left on the office desk – it was actually post for my mother in law because we deal with her finances and both hubby and I knew from the size and weight it was one of those dreaded annual report books from the shares company that we never read as we would need to employ an accountant to translate. It unfortunately goes straight into recycle and one day we will write and ask to get this info online. Note: task for task list!
  • The inner peel off lid from the Yeo Valley Yoghurt again on office desk – saying ‘Is this your lucky Lid’?  – well it might just be  – it has a lucky number to enter on the computer to win a Camper van – I cannot pass this over even though I know it is highly unlikely that I would win and almost not worth the effort of doing it but somehow I cannot just bin it! Note: another task for task list.
  • An Ikea leaflet with £15 off promotion – office desk? – correct! – I do keep these just in case there is anything we have in mind to buy and I would put it away in my coupons envelope but I have to figure out how do I remember the offer? For the time being it has just been left lying  around on the office desk.

Coathanger

  • A coat hanger and heating timer left on the back of the settee – the former left by hubby who was up and off to get the London train at 5am this morning. I expect he left it here not wanting to wake me up rummaging in the wardrobe – so we can excuse this…
  • The timer (in the red box) arrived in our house on Tuesday it is to replace the useless one at the cottage and is on our Easter job list but at the moment is waiting for hubby to read the instructions to know if it is definitely compatable with the boiler timer. Note: task for hubby’s task list!

Rotten apple

  • The rotting apple left on the kitchen counter – I discovered this in my fruit bowl on Monday morning as I grabbed an apple to take to work. I put this one aside thinking that I would cut off the rotten bit and possibly cook or eat the rest when I got home… mmmm never got back to it so it is even more rotted now and may just have turned into compost.  Of course I should have sent it over to Sue at 365 Days – £365 she would have it peeled and sliced and turned into an Apple Pie and twenty other dishes in the blink of an eye LOL!  Note task for task list…only joking Sue!!

Spotlights

  • Spotlights left on the landing bookcase – I bought these from Sainsbury’s well over a week ago and left them in the office hoping hubby would replace the spotlights that have gone – I am still hoping!!
  • Tradepoint leaflet left on (you guessed it) the office desk – I have put this where we can see it to remind us to go and pick up a new catalogue at B&Q when passing – problem is I am not sure when we will be passing as we don’t actually ever pass B&Q as it is at the other side of town!

Necklace

  • Necklace left on dressing table (ooops Beauty Station!)– I wore this at work with my black and white outfit yesterday (unusually co-ordinated for me as I hardly ever get as far as adding jewellery) and removed it before bed but it didn’t quite make it to my jewellery box only 5 feet away instead it has spent the night on my dressing table, Beauty Station.   But the reason for this is probably because the jewellery box sits on top of my chest of drawers and the top was covered in a pile of magazines for reading, clean tights to put away, clothes that I had taken off (and should have gone to the laundry basket in my daughters old room as we are limited for space in ours) and didn’t quite make it.

Easter card

  • Opened Easter card left on living room units – I picked this up off the mat when I walked in last night and was so excited to receive a hand written envelope that I just had to open it there and then. It was a homemade Easter card from a friend which reminded me that I must return her recent email as well as send her a card.  Note: task for task list.   I then put it on one side to go and take my coat off and make a drink before starting the tea.

I won’t bore you with the rest but you get the gist and even though I have places to put some of the above and systems to deal with them it is often the shortage of time on a workday evening that keeps me from attending to such things. So I am beginning to wonder if I have the right systems in place.

With this in mind for May I have chosen Developing my Systems to be my Focus for the month and I cannot believe given my track record that I am already planning this.

Putting systems in place

We all have systems don’t we whether they work for us or not. Some we deliberately set up but a large part of our routine is done through habit, both good and bad, and if we don’t develop a habit consciously then we develop one by default and that is often the start of a bad habit in my experience.

So I wondered how good are my systems – do they help or hinder me and could they be done better and most of all could they free up some much-needed self time and stop the feeling of Thursday night burn-out.

If I considered the running of my home and life as a business and the success or failure of my business was in direct relation to how efficiently I manage the day-to-day running then I ask myself ‘am I a good manager or should I sack myself’?

To know the answer to this I reasoned that I have to look at what my systems are now and if they can be improved. I am very much a systems person but not so much a routine person if that makes sense – that is I like things to be done in a certain way or order but I don’t necessarily do the task or maintaining when I should be doing it. For instance I might find myself blogging rather than using that time to cook a homemade meal and one which we are eating earlier rather than later.

In my job I deal with figures all day, adding them subtracting them, percentagising (is that a word?) them and checking them. I tackle each part of my workload like batch baking for the freezer. I am able to keep on track at work because most of my work has a deadline. I am sure my boss would not approve if he found I was planning my menus or blogging instead of billing the Legal Aid files! I stick to doing what I should be because I know I have to.   However, it is different at home as I am my own boss but this is where I fall down because I do go off and work on the wrong thing at the wrong time – now why is that?

To be clear on what my ‘Job Description’ is and of the systems involved I have tried to group the things I do into areas I have responsibility for and this has been my first stumbling block – how to categorise them in a meaningful way.

This is what I have come up with so far

Household and garden management

  • Cleaning
  • Laundry and clothes care
  • Sorting
  • Organising
  • Decorating
  • Gardening – lawn care and plant care
  • Stock control

Financial and Paper management

  • Earning
  • Budgeting
  • Bill paying
  • Saving
  • Document management
  • Purposeful Filing
  • Library stock control

Personal management

  • Wellbeing
  • Healthcare
  • Personal care
  • Socialising
  • Blogging

Meal and food management

  • Menu planning
  • Shopping
  • Cooking
  • Stock control

Wow – you can see why being a working housewife and mother is a full time occupation and I don’t have to include childcare on my list like some of you might!

Have I missed anything and how would you categorise all the things you do in your home and life?  Oh and let me know if you have got some good systems going…

I did wonder if meal planning should be part of household or a separate category and decided it is quite a large category to manage in itself so have kept it separate.

Recently I have been reading about Flow and Lean – some of you may have heard of these concepts.

5s’ has developed from lean manufacturing concepts in warehousing and they are…

Sorting, setting order, systemic cleaning, standardizing, and sustaining

this discipline ensures that money is not wasted to poor organsination or process.   Disorganisation costs money. Each process, from housekeeping to inventory transactions needs a formal, standardised process to ensure consistently outstanding results.

Sounds good to me so I wondered if I could adapt this lean process in some way to meet my requirements.

So in May I am going to get to grips with my systems. Each will get an in depth review and then a possible makeover. For the rest of this month in preparation I will be undertaking a time and motion study really looking at three areas

  • the way I do things,
  • why I put off doing things and
  • could I do them better?

a possible fourth would be could I put off doing them altogether!!

Now please excuse me while I go and put away a few items and get the place relatively ship shape again as well as look at making some Easter goodies and cards.

 

This weekend we (that is me, hubby, daughter No1 and her partner) are all going up to my expectant daughter No 2 to help her decorate and declutter her little cottage ready for baby’s arrival.

 

Have a good weekend x

 

 

 

What greets me when I get home…

Do you remember the Siemens Advert?    If not click on below for a quick reminder.

I used to sing along to this all the time secretly wishing that on my return home after a long hard day at work my life was as easy and relaxed as portrayed in this video. 

Well I want that ‘Siemens’ life – I dream of that  tidy well run home that gleams, and of having a well stocked fridge with healthy food and our evening meal all prepared and ready to go, of being able to recline with a book or run a bath, even take time to kiss my better half – if I had a Siemens life I know I would have arrived!!

Well as they say ‘ Dream on’ in real life what do I have?  I have the ‘Frenzied’ life.

It begins in the hallway when I arrive home and trip over yet another pair of shoes that won’t fit on the rack (usually because all the shoes have migrated from the wardrobe to the hallway – they obviously have feet of their own) and sigh as I pick up yet more junk mail to deal with together with the third charity bag this week and it is only Wednesday.   I go straight upstairs park my bag and hang my coat noting that I must have been late this morning as the bed looks like it had a bad day and resembles a half-hearted attempt at being made; but I persuade myself it is not worth remaking it now as it is only a few hours from bedtime and it is going to get crumpled again soon – right?. 

I head on down to the kitchen to make a well deserved cup of tea (should be herbal or green but I think what the hell and go for normal).  Then I decide that hunger beats healthy and I opt for whatever I can grab as a quick snack. 

Hunger pangs now replaced with guilt pangs for the added calories I have just consumed I rush around the kitchen like a whirling dervish tidying up and dealing with the endless waste management – the washed and drained recycling (tell me where is that in the Siemens house?), emptying compost and rubbish bins and a general putting things into order ready to begin the cooking marathon.  I look in the fridge trying to remember exactly what I had planned on the menu tonight before realising what it was that I dashed into Sainsbury’s for after work when I got diverted and ended up in the magazine section.

If I am lucky by 8 o’clock if hubby is back from work we can eat and relax for half an hour before returning to the kitchen to wash what seems like every dish we own.  After doing bits of paperwork, bits of washing or ironing and checking emails I find it is almost time to collapse into bed, I might just have time to do a post or soak my feet before I do!  My life just does not match up to the Siemens life…yet… but on the bright side after a summer of hard work I am s l o w l y reducing the stuff in our house and the things that remain will eventually have a place and a place with space and this I am sure is key to helping me become more organised.

You can always tell a very expensive clothes shop as they have a minimal stock all beautifully displayed with space around each item and that is how I see our finished home.  So I will keep replaying the Siemens life to remind me that the Future is certainly moving in and hopefully my Frenzied life is on the way out.

The Friday Feast…

A weekend at home at last – I felt so exhausted this morning that it took quite a while to get myself into gear – so my Friday Fling today was a sit down job and I went through a pile of magazine cuttings labelled ‘Home and Cottage decor’ and threw away any unwanted articles and outdated pictures.

Once I regained some energy to tackle my Friday Tidy I concentrated on getting my kitchen back to a presentable state and in the process I checked the fridges for leftover food.

I am always looking to be as Thrifty as possible and I hate waste so I make Friday my use it up day.  I was quite pleased with myself when I discovered there was nothing to throw away – in fact I was worried that I might not have enough food to make an evening meal but I always enjoy the challenge of making a meal from whatever I have leftover.  We have had some strange concoctions over the years!

In the Fridge

I found a few sticks of celery, a handful of cherry tomatoes, a bag and a half of carrots, some sweet potatoes and 1 egg.  I also needed to use up the end of the jar of tomato paste and the very end of some cheddar cheese.

In the Vegetable Rack

I had onions and a new bag of baking potatoes.

In the Store Cupboard

I had a bag of mixed nuts getting to the end of the best before date and a few slices of bread in the bread bin.

After looking through my recipe folder I decided on a Walnut and Tomato Slice – a recipe which surprisingly incorporated all the above items – I should also have put in a red pepper but I had to make do without.  I baked the potatoes and had peas from the freezer and made a little gravy.  I left the sweet potatoes for tomorrow to make soup with the full bag of carrots and more onions.

This was the result and below is the recipe.

Walnut and Tomato Slice

4oz Wholewheat breadcrumbs

4oz Walnuts ground (though mine was a mix of walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts and almonds).

2 Stalks of Celery chopped (I actually used the left over 4 and it was still fine)

1 Onion finely chopped

4oz Carrot finely chopped and part boiled or steamed.

1/2 red pepper chopped

1/2 tsp Thyme

1/2 tsp Sage

1 free range egg, beaten

2 tbsp Tomato Puree

1 tbsp olive oil

Ground black pepper

a little salt to taste

2 Tomatoes thinly slice (I used Cherry tomatoes cut in half)

1 tbsp Sesame Seeds (I used a sprinkling of grated cheese as an alternative).

  • Cook the onion and celery together in the oil and add the red pepper until soft.
  • Mix the breadcrumbs, nuts, herbs, salt and pepper, tomato paste and egg in a large bowl.
  • Add the onion and celery mixture and bind all ingredients together. 
  • Turn mixture into a greased loaf tin and press down (Tip: place a greased strip of greaseproof paper running along the bottom and up the two ends of the dish for ease of turning out after cooking).
  • Arrange the tomatoes along the top, sprinkle with sesame seeds or cheese.  Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes at Gas mark 6 (200C or 180 Fan Assisted) remove the foil and bake for a further 10 minutes.
    Serve hot or cold

It was delicious and could be adapted depending on what you have available – next time I might throw in some mushrooms.

Have a good weekend – lets hope the weather is fine.