Hot Chocolate Butterbeer Station

Hello my lovelies,

I have a confession to make.  I had planned on setting this Hot chocolate Butterbeer Station up on the last weekend of November, just in time for Christmas tree decorating but it’s just been so cold outside!

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Unfortunately, this little bureau is in a weird spot; on the small piece of wall that joins the back door of the kitchen to the living room sliding doors which means there are windows on either side. This makes taking a decent picture impossible, however, it means that everything I need to make a gorgeous cup of hot chocolate butterbeer is near the kettle.

This Butterbeer sign is from Two Delighted. As two fellow potterheads they have some gorgeous free printables for anyone wanting to recreate their fantastic Harry Potter party.

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Our hot chocolate station last year was a total mish-mash of different hot chocolate and drink powders and sprinkles.  This year, I wanted a much simpler look and I guess sticking with butterbeer instead of every other hot drink known to man means I’ve achieved that.SONY DSCKnowing I wanted to create a hot chocolate butterbeer station meant I could incorporate a few of the other Potter related projects I’ve worked on including the Three Broomsticks tray I made a couple of summers ago and my newest addition, the Butterbeer mugs.

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Originally, I was going to wait until we went to the Harry Potter Studio tour and buy some Butterbeer tankards there to make hot chocolate in.  I then realised that they would probably crack with hot liquid in them because they’re plastic and meant for a cold drink.   I then found a lovely lady on one of the groups I follow on Facebook who made me these specially printed labels that get baked onto glass!  I can’t tell you how delighted I am with how these heat resistant Butterbeer mugs came out.

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On a trip to TK Max earlier this year I found the Hazelnut and Vanilla syrups for £3.99 each and had to scoop them up for my Butterbeer station.  They taste awesome and really add something special to the mix.  I’ve also added some caramel syrup which was one  I picked up at Morrisons on sale for £2.

The sprinkles above are small honeycomb pieces I got from B&M in the baking section and tiny gold sprinkles that are from Morrisons Christmas range. They’re the perfect addition to any Butterbeer hot chocolate.

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The recipe for Hot Chocolate Butterbeer is as follows.  Make up your favourite hot chocolate the way you usually do.  Add 1 tablespoon of vanilla syrup, 1 teaspoon of hazelnut syrup, 1 teaspoon of caramel syrup and mix well.  Add squirty cream and top with white marshmallows and sprinkles.  Or chocolate ice cream syrup topping.

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It couldn’t be easier!

Bright blessings,

Mrs R

xxx

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Harry Potter Movie Night

Hello my lovelies,

Since we are not into going trick of treating since Missy was diagnosed dairy, soya and apple free we have chosen to celebrate at home this year.

I have been collecting Harry Potter its and pieces since the beginning of the year for our Harry Potter Christmas and lots of it is coming in handy for our movie night.

 

The Gryffindor and Hufflepuff blankets, and themed cushions were all bought at Primark.

The cauldron is an actual pot that you cook on the fire with. It’s called a Potjie pot in South Africa and I’ve served sweet and salty popcorn in it.  Being dairy free means Missy can’t have caramel popcorn but it’s good that she doesn’t really like it anyway.

I made the chocolate frogs using a mould I bought on Amazon and the ginger cats were from the Co-op.

The sherbert lemons can be found from morrisons and the time turner and Gryffindor scarf were from ebay.

I love this Polyjuice mason jar mug from Primark and drink my wine out of it!   I made the potion bottle lights using some led lights, potion labels from etsy and mini potion bottles from the Works.

The pumpkin drinking glasses are from Primark and were only £2.50 each. Bargain!  The owls were from the Range and the potion bottles were from Poundland.

Flossy the Pygmy Puff was a gift from a craft swap and is Missy’s beloved pet.

As you can see below we are having Bertie Botts every flavour beans, chocolate frogs, cat shaped cookies, liquorice wands, UFO’s of Flying Whizzbeez, lemon sherberts and sweet and salty popcorn.

Of course, we are having dinner before we tuck into all of these sweeties!SONY DSC

Happy Halloween!

Mrs R

x

Review: The Walled Garden Restaurant, Nags Head

Hello my lovelies,

Yesterday afternoon, we visited the Walled Garden restaurant at Knights Garden Centre Nags Hall for lunch. We’d been there before and had a gorgeous meal so decided to return since were were in the vicinity.  I can’t say that our visit was as successful this time as our first visit!

The place was tastefully kitted out for Halloween and the staff were dressed as various gouls to match.

The layout of the Walled Garden and the Potting Shed (it’s coffee shop) is quite strange.  We waited to be seated and were then asked where we wanted to sit.  Missy asked if she could sit at a table by the fish tank but was told that these tables were part of the seating for the Potting Shed coffee shop and as such we couldn’t be served a hot meal there.  We found this strange since we had walked through the Potting Shed into the Walled Garden and the tables and chairs were different in both places.  The table we wanted had the same furniture as the Walled Garden and the section wasn’t marked off.  But ho hum!

Our waitress seated us at a table near the window with some menues and disappeared for 15 minutes and only came to take our order when we flagged her down.  She admitted she’d forgotten about us.

The menu was once again strange. We were given a small menu which appeared to be the lunch menu which had a 2 or 3 course option where you could choose from 3 starters, some main courses and a series of puddings.  We had to ask for a children’s menu which was from a different menu which appeared to be their main menu.  Mr R and Granny R decided to have a 3 course option.  Missy upon looking at the children’s menu asked if she could look at the lunch menu and decided she wanted a scotch egg but didn’t like the coleslaw and endive salad.  I said I’d ask for a substitute of chips.  I opted for the burger on a dough bread roll with coleslaw and sweet potato chips.   I would have had a starter to share with Missy but the lunch menu had no other starter options besides those within the 2/3 course option.  To be honest, none of these appealed to me in the slightest as they either had blue cheese, smoked salmon or Gnocchi with pesto (I think!).  It was strange to have a 2 or 3 course menu for lunch anyway!  For drinks, Mr R and Granny R asked for tea while I asked for a milkshake and Missy asked for cloudy lemonade. Our waitress took our order and we all forgot to ask for Missy’s meal to be brought when Mr R and Granny R had their starter.  Most restaurants bring a child’s main meal with the adult’s starters as a default anyway but we did call the waitress back to ask. She said that she’d already put the order through and the kids meal couldn’t be brought with the starters as she hadn’t put it into the computer that way. I’m not quite sure why a pre-made scotch eggs and some chips couldn’t be quickly rustled up to be served with the starters.

Our drinks arrived and the milk for the tea was served in an adorable mini milk can. My milkshake arrived and I was very confused.  It wasn’t thick like you’d expect a normal milkshake to be, instead it was the consistency of Nesquick and had a large handful of ice floating around in it.  For £3 I found this very expensive for Nesquick with ice.

We had a long wait for the starters despite the restaurant being only a quarter full.  In this time, we couldn’t help but notice the loud music which seemed to have a theme that clearly did not suit the rather elegant surroundings.  Songs ranged from Meatloaf’s Bat out of Hell to Alice Cooper’s Frankenstein. I really enjoy a bit of hard rock but the music was far too loud to enjoy lunch over.  Alice cooper gave way to Wagner’s Flight of the Valkyries, the Adam’s family and then oddly enough, the sound track to Psycho.

The starters arrived and they were truly a work of art.  By this point, Missy and I had finished our drinks (I’d fished the ice blocks out of my Nesquick) and the waitress hurried off before I could ask for another round of drinks.  Mr R and Granny R enjoyed their starters and we waited another 10 minutes before our mains were brought out.

The mains were gorgeous! Mr R and Granny R had the lamb rump with potatoes dauphinois which were perfectly cooked.  Missy’s scotch egg was huge and the egg inside was clearly a free range egg which she thoroughly enjoyed.  My meal was received at this point with much enthusiasm since we’d waited so long for it.  The sour dough bun was really hard and was quickly discarded but the patty was homemade and delicious, the salad fresh, the sweet potato fries were the best I’d ever tasted and then coleslaw was homemade and very tasty.

While we were eating trying to talk over more Meatloaf a waitress started sweeping noisily around us.  We found this highly surprising since it’s not usual to sweep dust in the air while diners are eating.  Granny R was not impressed.

We once again waited quite a while for our plates to be cleared and the menus to be brought back for desserts to be chosen. While we waited Missy began to grow bored. Knowing it was difficult to keep her occupied for the long wait that seemed to the norm at The Walled Garden I took her to look at the cakes at The Potting shed.  There they had a fantastic array of cakes half of which were Halloween themed and looked fantastically gruesome.  Knowing we’d be having desserts I scoped out the selection for anything dairy free and found one of the pre-packaged gluten free brownies was dairy free and Missy loves a brownie!

Granny R didn’t fancy anything on the set menu and asked instead for the lemon meringue pie that we’d seen a nearby table enjoying. I copied her and Mr R asked for the baked cheesecake with stewed rhubarb. I must point out at this stage that the table across from us which was part of the Potting Shed seating, was occupied by a woman who was eating a burger.  Can you tell I’m still confused by the seating situation and lack of demarcation?

Our desserts arrived and they were utterly delicious!   The lemon meringue pie was the best I’ve ever had.

We discussed our experience at The Walled Garden while we waited for the bill to arrive and all agreed that we could not fault the food but the service, confusion about the seating arrangements and loud music left much to be desired.

We give the food an 8/10

The service 5/10

The general experience 5/10

It’s a shame because our first experience at The Walled Garden was very positive.  The food is so tasty that we’d probably go back however, their service needs a shake up!

Bright blessings,

Mrs R

x

 

 

Garsons Pick Your Own Farm – Esher

Hello my lovelies,

Today we decided to make the most of the last of the Pick Your Own (PYO) seasons and headed into the lovely little suburb of Esher.

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Not only is Garsons a fabulous PYO farm where during the peak season you can pick lovely fruit and vegetables, it is also an award winning farm shop and garden centre. Their premises also boast a fabulous restaurant and gift and homeware store.

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Since we’d already been to Pumpkin Moon for pumpkins earlier in the week, we decided to see what other vegetables we could pick for the week.  Sadly, we’d left it a little late for much of the PYO farm produce but were delighted to find that courgettes, carrots, cabbage, french beans and squash were still available.

We had thankfully had the forethought to wear our wellies and got stuck in! Missy had great fun digging up carrots and finding the biggest french beans  in the first field.

We drove around to the next field and found some decent corn on the cob despite the corn season being over.  We also managed to find tender broccoli florets. Cabbages are in season and I  picked three to use in our cooking in the coming weeks.  The find of the day, however was our much loved gem squashes! These are a staple in South Africa and we have missed them terribly!  The ones we bought at Pumpkin Moon for £1 each have already been devoured.  These gem squashes were only £1.29 a kilo which worked out to be better value and we took as many as we could find.

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The last field we gathered from was full of marrows and courgettes.  Marrows are not my favourite as I find them quite watery but I do love courgettes.  We filled our bag with these tender little beauties and I can’t wait to steam them and serve them with a little butter and a sprinkle of pink Himalayan salt.

Once we’d picked as much as we wanted, we headed to the kiosk to weigh our spoils and were very surprised to only pay £14!  What a bargain!  Not only did we bring home a gorgeous bounty of the season’s best to feed our family, we had a fantastic morning out while Missy learned more about where our food comes from.  A win-win situation!

On the cards this week will be carrot cake muffins for Missy’s school packed lunch and carrot soup for me. We’ll also have a roast chicken dinner with roasted pumpkin, steamed courgettes, corn and roasted pumpkin.  I save time during the week but steaming a large batch of veggies when I do my Sunday roast. This means I have lots of sides readily available during the week.

Tomorrow when I do my grocery shop I’ll be buying some clear stand up zip lock bags to freeze my soup in.  I’ve plans for carrot soup and some roasted pumpkin, chili and coconut soup to fill the freezer.  Also on the cards will be my favourite french onion soup. Not an autumn goes by without me making a batch of this gorgeousness!

Don’t you just love Autumn?

Bright blessings,

Mrs R

x

Chiddingstone Castle school of witchcraft and wizardry

Hello my lovelies,

*This post has not been sponsored by Chiddingstone Castle.  I bought tickets to this even and all opinions and comments are my own.*

We had the most awesome day!  A month ago, I managed to book tickets to Chiddingstone Castle’s school of witchcraft and wizardry day in Kent and we could hardly wait! It was so well organised and so much fun that I was blown away.

I ordered Missy a robe (which looked nothing like the pictures on ebay which led to me opening a case – but that’s another story), made her a tie, dug out her wand (see my wand making post here) and for a wand box tutorial check out my post here.  I also decorated her a witches hat. We were all set!

I must admit, Chiddingstone wasn’t the easiest castle to find as the castle itself has a little concealed entrance and I landed up driving past it and having to double back. But I found it in the end.  The parking was ample even though they said the parking lot was quite small and there was a port-a-loo in the parking lot which I found quite random but it came in handy since we arrived early.  There was also a little honesty box to pay for parking with the proceeds going to charity.

 

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The castle itself is beautiful and we were surprised to find it had a red postbox just outside!

Since we arrived early, we had some time to take pictures while everyone arrived.  We were the only ones not in Gryffindor robes!

About 10 minutes before the doors opened we could hear a Harry Potter soundtrack playing which just heightened the anticipation.  The kids couldn’t wait!

Upon entering, some very organised admin witches crossed our names from their lists and checked out etickets. We were given a map and from there, we followed the directions round into the Great Hall.

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The entire place was decorated so well and it really added to the ambiance and theme.

In the Great Hall we were met by the High Wizard Merlin Hopkirken who sorted the kids into their houses.  Our entire group was sorted into Wormtail (which was kind of a crappy  name since Wormtail was the name of that traitorous Peter Pettigrew!) the yellow house.  We were then given our class schedule.

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Our first class was Flying Lessons in the Marquee.  Captain Karkus Prospero was brilliantly entertaining and got the kids ‘flying’ their brooms round a marked out course and doing races.

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Each child borrowed a broomstick for the lesson and it was fantastic to hear them shrieking with laughter. SONY DSC

In between each lesson was a 15 minute break and the children were invited to the craft rooms to make wands or colour pictures.

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Our next class was Spells and Incantations with Ms Septima Warbeck.

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The Spells teacher instructed the children on basic spells and wand movements as well as defense against the dark arts spells.

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Swish and flick!

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There weren’t enough kids to give each child a partner so Missy practiced with Ms Warbeck.

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After each class the kids got a stamp on their certificates.  Once they had a stamp from each of the classes they could graduate.

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We had a fun tour of the Headmaster Merlin Hopkirk’s office while we waited for our next class to start.

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Our third class was choir practice with Madame Mourge. Not sore how the ‘ou’ is pronounced ‘or’ but it was pronounced Morgue.

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Each professor was so well dressed and made up. They kept in character beautifully and the kids really believed they were at a school for Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Choir practice was very noisy but the kids loved every moment of it.

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While the kids were in choir practice I got an opportunity to speak to the event organizers who were such lovely ladies.  This is the first time Chiddingstone has done this kind of event and if all goes well they hope to repeat it next year.  Also, if all goes well, Christmas may be something just as special. Perhaps not this year but it’s exciting all the same.

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We made wands in our break before the long awaited potions class.  Dr Elphias Thicknesse was waiting for us in the potions classroom which was a treasure trove of potion ingredients bottles and other curiosities. The massive cauldron was of particular interest to the children.

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The children helped Dr Thicknesse to prepare a love potion to help her woo Captain Prospero and got to help chucking various ghastly looking ingredients into the cauldron.  I must admit, Dr Thicknesse was my favourite by far as she was completely zany and had the kids enthralled.

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The magic ingredient (hot ice) was added by Dr Thicknesse and the cauldron exploded in smoke much to the children’s delight.

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The only negative feedback I have is that upon booking people had the option of attending with their kids or dropping them off and fetching them later.  I found this to be a bad idea.   These kids got quite rowdy and rude at one stage which was uncomfortable for everyone.  One such 11 year old boy kept following me around and shoving his broomstick in my face shouting aaaaavraaaa kaaaadaaaavraaaaa!  He didn’t take kindly to me pointing out that it was in fact Avada Kedavra.  He also didn’t like the fact that I told him in a very firm voice that I didn’t appreciate the broomstick being shoved in my face.  And that if he did it again, I would make sure his parents were made aware that he was being rude to an adult.  But other than that one small blot on the day, I couldn’t have asked for a better event.

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Prize giving was held back in the Great Hall where the Headmaster announced the prize for the best dressed child who was dressed like Seamus Finnigan after his spell backfired. Well deserved I thought.

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Then he announced the day’s star pupil who turned out to be my very own little Missy!

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She won a t-shirt named after the event and a voucher for a free family visit during the 2018 season!  A fab prize!

After our classes were done, we went to the cafe where I had a cream tea and coffee.  I had packed a dairy, soya and apple free lunch for Missy as it’s been my experience that most places struggle to provide food that is allergen free.

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The staff were very happy for Missy to enjoy her lunch which me while I ate my cream tea.  It was delicious however, there was no way I could finish two large scones!  I’m a bit of a coffee snob and the coffee at the cafe was heavenly!  I only drank one cup because I was concerned I would be desperate to pee on the drive home but I could easily have drank the entire cafetiere.

All in all, we had a fantastic day and it was well worth the money.  I would definitely attend the event next year and look forward to attending other events planned by Chiddingstone and especially to exploring the grounds.

Bright blessings,

Mrs R

x

Easy Focaccia

Hello my lovelies,

I must apologize for not blogging much recently, I am working on rectifying this and hope to bring you some great blog posts, recipes and ideas every week starting today.

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It’s half-term for us and as such I try to do some baking or cooking with Missy (DD has now been renamed to Missy since she’s 7 going on 15!). She was really craving pizza but as a dairy free kid she can’t have shop bought pizza.  I know I can buy frozen pizza bases but I find they expensive when we can whip up a batch of pizza dough for mere pennies.  Plus, I get the added bonus of teaching Missy about weights and measures and help her to learn the life skill of cooking.

We made her pizza and used Marchego cheese which is a hard goats cheese. While I know this isn’t dairy free it doesn’t contain the cows milk protein that affects her, however, she only has it occasionally.

After we made her pizza, there was a lot of dough left and I really didn’t fancy pizza because I was having chicken soup for lunch.  Then I had an inspired thought… I could make focaccia!

 

This pizza dough is really versatile and can be used to make pizzas, focaccia, calzones, dough balls and much more.  Check out Kitchn’s post for some great ideas.

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Here’s the pizza dough recipe I use.  It’s easy enough for kids to help but best made in the morning so that it has time to prove if you want to use it to make lunch. If you’re using it to make dinner, make it in the early afternoon.

Easy Pizza dough

500g plain flour

1 sachet of dried yeast

1 tsp each of sugar and salt

250ml of warm water mixed with 2 tsp olive oil

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl until the dough is soft and well combined.  Knead well in the bowl for about 5 minutes to break down the gluten.

Place the dough in a warm place covered with a tea towel for about an hour until it’s doubled in size. Probably about an hour or so.

Knead the dough again  (also called knocking it back) for another 5 minutes. Cover with the tea towel and allow to rise in warm place.  About 1-2 hours.  It should be nicely risen.

This should make one small pizza and one swiss roll pan sized focaccia.

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To make the focaccia,  simply grease a swiss roll pan with a little olive oil and press the remaining pizza dough into the pan.  Make little dents in the dough with your fingers pressing all the way into the bottom of the pan.  Add some fresh sprigs of rosemary and brush with more olive oil all over the surface. Sprinkle with sea salt and bake at 220 degrees Celsius until it’s golden brown.

Simples!

 

I hope you enjoy this recipe and as always, if you try the recipe please leave me a comment and let me know how you enjoyed it.

Bright blessings,

Mrs R

x

 

 

 

Why you need a morning routine

Hello my lovelies,

There is no doubt about it.  People who consistently stick to a morning routine are more successful.  There have been various studies that prove this.   But how does a morning routine make you more successful?

A morning routine, or lack thereof sets to the tone for the day.   A good morning routine sets the tone for a day where you are in control.  Basically, you want to drive your day instead of letting your day drive you. Think about it.  On those days where you’ve woken up late and your usual morning ritual has gone out of the window it’s been chaos.  You’ve been late for work, you didn’t have time for breakfast, you got stuck in traffic… see? Chaos!

But imagine a day where you wake up, get dressed (you showered the night before) and have a cup of coffee in the quiet before your kids wake up. You unpack the dishwasher ready for the breakfast dishes later and start breakfast before the kids come running through.  While the kids eat breakfast, wipe the counters, take out the recycling, feed the dog and get a load of laundry on. Dirty dishes go straight into the dishwasher.  While the kids get dressed, make the beds, take out something from the freezer to defrost and do a quick 5 minute tidy of the main living areas. By the time you leave the house, you’ve gotten quite a bit done, leave the house in a decent state for later and you feel in control.  Go Mom!

Before the school holidays started I decided to make these 6 weeks count.  I have been working on various techniques in order to get my home looking good, staying motivated and basically, training myself to spend as little time as possible cleaning on the weekends.  I can’t tell you have having a simple morning routine, especially during the school holidays is making life simpler.  I didn’t normally have a routine for the Summer.  But maintaining what I do during term time during the summer holidays means that by 8:30, I can go out for the day with my daughter and come home to a clean, peaceful home.

If you don’t have a morning routine, now is the time to start thinking about creating one. this is my morning routine:

Get up and make the bed

Make coffee (I don’t have to unpack the dishwasher because I did it before I went to bed)

Make breakfast and eat.  Take our vitamins

Tidy up after breakfast (dishes go straight into the empty dishwasher)

Take out meat for dinner to defrost

Laundry on

Quick tidy of the main living areas

While I’m in the bathroom after brushing my teeth, I swish the toilet bowl with the toilet brush, wipe down the mirror and basin with a bathroom wipe.

Boom!  You’re all set for your day. The kitchen is clean.  Laundry is on.  Dinner is defrosting. The bathroom is clean. The main living areas are tidy.  Your kids have been feed and are dressed.

Now that my routine is more established, I plan on working some personal development into my day.  So perhaps, wake up a few minutes earlier for some meditation with my coffee.  This part is going to take a while to establish because I can’t even think before my first hit of caffeine but I’ll work on it.

Get yourself into a morning routine and see how well your day goes.

As always, I’d love to hear from you, so leave a comment below.

Bright blessings,

Mrs R

x