A day in Wonderland at Chiddingstone Castle

Hello my lovelies,

Today we visited Chiddingstone Castle for their Alice in Wonderland themed day and had the most wonderful time!

We got all dressed up and walked in the castle grounds



in the mist


We met the Mad Hatter


We did crafts with the White Rabbit

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We had a dance lesson a la MC Hammer, Michael Jackson and Gangnam Style in the great hall


We even caught the Mad Hatter doing the Fadderwacken


Sang with Alice


and played croquet with The Queen of Hearts


we even scooped the Best Dressed prize!


We had a wonderful day and loved every minute of it


We can’t wait to visit again.

Bright blessings,

Mrs R



Menu Plan: 5 February 2018

Want to serve appetizing, mouth watering food to your family every night? Menu Plan Monday takes all the guesswork out of meal planning. Follow the blog for weekly menu plans, recipes, crafts and more.

Hello my lovelies,

This past week has been just a little cray-cray.  You see, I started working back in the office full time last Monday, and I cannot tell you have tired I have been. It’s been a taxing week for all of us here at Swish Cottage and while I did do as much to prep for last week as I could, I now know there is LOADS more that could have done.  I’m determined to make this next week run super smoothly so that in the evenings we can walk in the door, eat dinner and then chillax.  With that idea in mind, I’ve planned our menu accordingly and cooked it all yesterday!  Yes, you read that right.  I did a massive cooking session (doubling up meals to freeze where possible) to make the evenings less stressful but, also to make sure that I stick to my new low carb eating regime. Everything underlined was cooked yesterday.

For breakfasts:  Missy will be alternating between cereals, toast with spreads and fruit, homemade dairy free waffles and eggs.  Hubby and I will be having low carb egg  ham & cheese muffins, greek yoghurt with Ditch the Carb’s chocolate grain free granola and berries, boiled eggs or crispy fried bacon and avocado.

Lunches:  Missy will have her usual packed lunches with wraps or multi-grain Jackson’s bread (soya free) with hard goats cheese (she can tolerate Manchego goat’s cheese but not the cow’s milk proteins in regular cheese) or ham.  These will be alternated with pasta with chorizo, peas and sweet corn. She also gets a portion of fruit or veggie sticks. Sometimes she gets crisps, or popcorn and either water or a fruit juice.  Again, we alternate. I’ve baked a dairy free chocolate sponge for her lunchbox treats.

Hubby gets a free lunch at work so I’ll be having leftovers or soup.


MonSlow cooker bolognese (I’ll have mine with salad instead of pasta)

Tue: Lemon and herb chicken wings (Marinating since Sunday evening – to be cooked on the day) with salad

Wed: Possibly a takeaway or leftover bolognese with garlic bread and salad

Thur: Chicken a la king with rice (none for me), broccoli, green beans & steamed butternut squash

FriChicken & chorizo pasta (no pasta for me) with green beans and butternut squash

What are you having this week?

Bright blessings,

Mrs R


Crafty Planning on Etsy

Hello my lovelies,

Since I’m returning to work, Missy has been rather anxious about after school club and childcare arrangements since I’ve always been there before and after school. While she will be going to her godmother who is a childminder a few days a week she was still worried she wouldn’t remember what was happening on which days.  I also thought it couldn’t be a bad thing for her to learn to manage her own little life and to get a better idea of what was happening on what day, who’s birthday was coming up and that kind of stuff.

So I got her a little planner.  While it wasn’t expensive, we had fun setting it up and choosing washi tapes to go in it. We wrote all the details she would need to remember in it and she was so excited.  She took it to school and showed her teacher who thought it was a fabulous idea because she knows how anxious Missy sometimes gets.  She’s an AMAZING teacher.  Like next level amazing.  Anyway, I digress.

Earlier last week, Missy’s planner went missing. She swears she kept it in her tray at school and I believe her.  We drove back to school to see if we could find it to no avail. Other things in the classroom had gone missing earlier in the week too.  It was all very strange.

Missy was really upset as was I.  Here I’d though I was helping her to feel less anxious but she was so upset about it going missing that she cried for ages and kept promising me she had put it in her tray.

I did everything I could think of in the hopes of getting it returned including informing her teacher who also searched the classroom and putting a message on the Year 3 parents group on Facebook to ask that bags me checked in case one of the kids mistakenly picked it up.  You know?  Mistakenly. I also asked the office a few times over a few days if it had been handed in.


I offered to buy Missy a new one but she didn’t want a new one. She wanted the one she’d worked so hard on.

I mentioned in the UK Planner Addicts Facebook how disappointed I was that it had gone missing and had so many people sending positive thoughts in the hopes it would be found. One lady, Jodie the owner of Crafty Planning offered to send me some stickers from her kids range for when my daughter either got her planner back or we bought a new one.

Well, Missy went in one morning this week and once again and after working with her stuff from her tray all morning knew her planner wasn’t there.  After play time, she went back into class and went to get her stuff out of her tray again and her planner had been returned!  She was so happy!



Then today, we went to a birthday party and got home to a wonderful RAK (random act of kindness)  from Jodie at Crafty Planning from her new kids range. Missy is in love with these beauties.

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The colours are so vibrant and I just love the original designs.

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And best of all they’re only £1 per sheet!  That’s pocket change!  I’m so happy with these and Missy can’t wait to start using them.  Of course you could use them for more than your child’s planner.  They could be used as reward stickers, or on little notes in the kids lunch boxes.  They could go on the covers of their school books before you cover with plastic or used to decorate their pen pal letters.    Pretty and versatile!

And best of all is that Jodie has a Kids Sticker Club!

Here’s the blurb from her store about the club:

“This club is designed to give your little person a sense of doing their own planning and being able to enjoy their own planner stickers and happy mail. For each registration for every £5 per month the adult spends with the registered Etsy account, they will receive one free sheet of stickers from the kids section. (Please put a note in the note to seller section to request this). The child’s order will be posted in the same package as your order unless additional postage is purchased for them to receive their own happy mail.

Children will also receive a birthday card and sheet of stickers as long as the adult has made a purchase from the shop within the last three months prior to the child’s registered birthday.”

What a fantastic way to make your little one feel special!

As of next week I will be working again and can tell that I am going to be a regular at Crafty Planning. I’ve only recently started using stickers in my planner – I only really started planning last year and am still learning my planner style.

If you place an order with Crafty Planning please pop the words – recommended by Leo in the comments box and I might get a little treat too.

As always, thanks for reading and happy planning!

Bright blessings,

Mrs R





Menu plan w/c 22 January 2018

Hello my lovelies,

I know I’m pretty much posting only my menu plans at the moment but I’m going through a major Spring cleaning jag at Swish Cottage and am using every spare minute to get our home in tip top condition.

Want to serve appetizing, mouth watering food to your family every night? Menu Plan Monday takes all the guesswork out of meal planning. Follow the blog for weekly menu plans, recipes, crafts and more.

I’m keeping it simple this week.

Mon:  Aldi mint & rosemary lamb shanks with colcannon mash and veg

Tue:  Spaghetti and meatballs with green salad. Tinned peaches & custard for pudding

Wed: Chicken salad wraps with home made Thai pumpkin soup

Thur: Macaroni cheese with salad. Jelly for pudding

Fri: Bratwurst dogs

Sat: Chinese birthday dinner at my friend’s house

Sun: Roast chicken, roast potatoes, veggies and gravy

Bright blessings,

Mrs R



Menu Plan w/c 8 January 2018

Hello my lovelies,

Want to serve appetizing, mouth watering food to your family every night? Menu Plan Monday takes all the guesswork out of meal planning. Follow the blog for weekly menu plans, recipes, crafts and more.

If you’ve been reading my blog posts you’ll know I’m planning on saving lots of cash this (check out my money saving post here) year and one of the ways I’m doing that is by menu planning.

By using up things in my freezer and pantry rather than buying new stuff I really don’t need, I saved £20 last week!   I’m so menu planning again this week and this is what we are having:

Monday:  Toad in a hole with veggies & gravy (recipe to follow)

Tuesday: Roast dinner

Wednesday: Slow cooker spaghetti & meatballs

Thursday:  Slow cooker chicken korma & rice (I’ll be using The Organised Mum recipe)

Friday: Slow cooker pulled pork rolls (I’ll be using The Pioneer woman’s recipe)

Saturday:  Leftovers

Sunday:  Pie, chips, veg & gravy

As you can see I’m relying on my slow cooker for 3 of our meals this week. I ADORE my slow cooker it’s really a godsend.

What meals do you have on your menu plan this week?

Bright blessings,

Mrs R


How we’re saving cash in 2018

Hello my lovelies,

Want to go on a fabulous holiday this year? Want that deposit for a new car? Then you need to know the secrets of saving big bucks in 2018.

I have some pretty big financial commitments in 2018 and in order to reach my goals I have  put in place some strategies for saving money.  Some of them are pretty basic and some are more involved but with a little planning they’re totally doable.

Food budget

The first thing I’m going to be doing is setting a food budget.  I don’t know about you but if given half the chance, I’ll walk into the supermarket and just pile anything that looks good into my trolley.  When I get to the till I could just about pass out when I realise I’ve spent double or even triple what I can afford.   So from now on, I’m setting a budget!  I know that I sometimes have champagne tastes on a beer budget but setting a budget for groceries keeps me in check and helps me to menu plan accordingly. If there is any money left at the end of the week that hasn’t been spent on food it goes into the savings account or change jar (see below).

Menu Planning

This is one of the biggest ways I’ve found to save money during the month.  Once you’ve set your budget for food, menu planning is your best friend.  Yes of course, we all want to get take aways every other night and cook steak for the rest of the week but it just can’t happen if you want to stick to budget.  If you can go meat free a couple of nights a week your budget will thank you and cheaper cuts like chicken thighs, sausages and minced meat really help stretch your budget.   Check out my weekly Monday Menu Planning blog posts for more ideas.

Cooking from scratch

Need I say more?  You can knock up a tasty spaghetti bolognese for approximately £1.50 a serving whereas buying ready made meals and sauces could triple or quadruple that estimate. We cook mostly from scratch and I’m going to resist the urge to get anything pre-prepared if I can help it. If you’re after some quick and easy, low cost recipes check out Gill Holcombe’s books. I particularly like How to feed your whole family a healthy balanced diet with very little money: and hardly any time, even if you have a tiny kitchen, only three saucepans (one with an ill fitting lid) and no fancy gadgets – unless you count a garlic crusher


Shop at cheaper stores 

While I love Sainsbury’s products, I know that Morrisons and Aldi are better value for money.  I’ve found that Aldi are fantastic for the basics like meat, cheese, basic staples and frozen goods. Their dishwasher tablets and laundry products have won Best Buy awards and are as good as many leading brands.   Morrisons value range has decent prices on pretty much everything else.  I will continue to buy Method Cleaning products from Waitrose when they are on offer.

Brand challenge

A few years ago, I did the brand challenge and was astounded not only at how much money I saved but also, how little difference there is between branded items and supermarkets own brand products.  I save so much money now buying a stores own brand instead of big name brands.  To do the brand challenge, simply buy the stores own value brand item instead of the expensive branded item you usually buy.  If you can’t tell the difference, keep buying it! If you can tell the difference in taste and don’t like it, buy the next item up in price.  I can guarantee that a lot of things you won’t be able to tell the difference between the stores value own brand and the big brand.  You can save quite a bit this way.  For instance, a well known brand of chopped tomatoes generally costs 95p.  The stores own value brand costs 29p.  Last time I checked, chopped tomatoes were chopped tomatoes no matter what the brand was. And switching to the value brand saved me 66p per tin of tomatoes.  We use roughly 3 tins of chopped tomatoes a week which means we saved £7.92 per month.  On just one item!  We’ve even changed brands in our coffee!  Now coffee is no joking matter. I love my coffee and don’t like it messed with.  We always used to buy the Nespresso coffee capsules but now use Aldi own brand and they taste equally as good!

Change jar

Having a change jar where you can dump any spare change every day can save you up to a couple hundred quid a year. Provided you don’t dip into it.   Some banks like Natwest have change machines where you can dump your coins into the machine, key in your account number and the cash will automatically be transferred into your account.  I’ll be keeping a spare change jar and dumping my change in there every day in the hopes of saving at least £100 this year.  I’ve done this before and it’s fairly small amounts of money at a time that I didn’t even miss it.

Account skimming or rounding up

I have two bank accounts which is really handy for account skimming or rounding up.  Basically, you check your account a couple of times a week (I will be doing this every Tuesday and Thursday) and round up your cash to the nearest fiver by transferring money into your savings account.  So for instance, if you had £268.39 in your current account to skim this account to the nearest fiver you’d transfer £3.39 into your savings account.  It doesn’t sound like much but even skimming £5 a week would mean I could save £260 in a year.  Again it’s fairly small amounts that I hardly miss the money at all. Some people skim their accounts to the nearest £10 which would be in the region of £520 a year.   Think I might miss this much over a month though!

Changing suppliers

At the end of last year, we changed energy suppliers and know there will be a substantial savings there.  We’ve also cancelled Sky!  I felt nervous about this when we first decided to cancel but I was so sick and tired of having all these channels and nothing to watch. We were paying £100 a month on Sky!  That’s a saving of £1200 a year!  We have subsequently signed up to Netflix which is £6.99 a month which works out to £83.88 a year but that’s still a huge saving of £1,116.12 a year.  Not to be sniffed at.

There are so many other ways to save money that I’m sure this list could go on and on but these are the ways I’ll be saving money this year.  I’d be interested to know how you intend to save this year. Leave me a comment below.

Bright blessings,

Mrs R