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



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


Menu plan w/c 1 January 2018

Menu plan monday Winter

Happy New Year, my lovelies!


I hope you all had fun last night, I certainly did.  Although I might have drunk a little too much prosecco and got a tiny bit tiddly.

Ho hum!

January is always a  long month which calls for a tightening of the belt.  Plus, I’m on a no spend month.  More on that tomorrow. The best way I’ve found to save money is to meal plan which I’ve sorely neglected in recent months.  But I’m back on it and will be doing my best to post my meal plans every Monday. Not only to keep myself motivated but to inspire you too. Let’s save money together!

Monday:  Chicken arrabiata served with watercress salad on the side

Tuesday: Slow cooker Sloppy Joes – I’m using the recipe from The Organised Mum

Wednesday:  Eating out for a birthday dinner

ThursdaySlow cooker thai curry  – I’m using the recipe from The Organised Mum served with rice and butternut squash

Friday:  Sausages, mash and veggies

Saturday:  Leftovers

Sunday: Roast chicken dinner

Bright blessings,

Mrs R


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.


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.


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.


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


Harry Potter Filofax Planner

Hello my lovelies,

I’m am soooooooooo excited to share my baby with you.  As you all know, I’m a die hard Harry Potter fan and with the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, my love for the wizarding world of Harry Potter has grown. I’ve had a planner of sorts most of my adult life but this is the first time I’ve had planner peace because my planner now is a complete reflection of me. Introducing, my Harry Po

I found this Finsbury real leather filofax at a charity shop for £2! I know, it was a real bargain. Over the past two months, my planner has really blossomed and come together beautifully. I’m so proud of it.

First of all, my family bought me a Harry Potter themed pandora-knock off bracelet and while I loved it, it kept getting in the way and caught on things so I recycled it into a planner charm for my filofax. I added Gryffindor colour beads and love the way it turned out.

From the top you can see the washi tape paper clips I made to mark some pages. I have tabs running along the top and right hand side of my planner.


My chocolate frog and Deathly Hallows charms decorate the bottom.

This is the inside cover and the first things you see are some bits I’ve collected. The dashboard was made using some scrapbook paper and an image I found online. I added the little baby hedwig pic I found online as a type of tab to help me turn the page.  Of course, no journey into the world of Harry Potter would begin at any other place other than platform 9 3/4.


Tiny Hedwig owl by  Cryptid-creations


I made the paperclip behind the Godric Gryffindor chocolate frog card using a large wooden button I found at The Works.  The Knight Bus licence was made for me by Woozelmom in a swap. Woozelmom makes the most A-mazing themed craft projects.   Check out my previous swap post about the wonderful things she sent me.


On the other side of my filofax cover is a tag from a pair of Harry Potter pyjamas that I got for Christmas which was addressed to Harry. I kept it because I thought it was cute.  I then have some washi tape samples that I use in my planner to decorate pages.  Above that is my miniature Marauder’s map.  I love it!  It was a printable from Britta Blvd and you can find the link to the printable here.  The snitch card is one I got from a RAK from Storm in a tea cup gifts. They do lovely themed subscription boxes. 18033070_10154959681305659_7050404997375769262_n18033343_10154959575120659_1429067500139513524_n

From this view, you can see the tabs are planning, lists and occasions as well as a little peep of Pigwidgeon.18033407_10154959575125659_8659674820507246476_n

Through platform 9 3/4 the first thing you see is of course a Hogwarts Express ticket and my personal information that I’ve blanked out.  I figured that if my planner got lost I’d be distraught and would hope that someone would contact me to give it back.

I’ve also added mine and my daughter’s vital information such as allergies and medication that we take.  God forbid, we are ever in an accident, our information, along with my husband’s contact details are printed there as an emergency contact. Inked17992330_10154959575250659_211426713908378420_n_LI

Then comes the Hogwarts express which naturally follows on if you go through the barrier at Platform 9 3/4. I love the Hogwarts silhouette tab on the right of the page.


On the back of the Hogwarts Express poster, I keep my owl sticky notes and tabs and my main goals for the year.


The next first actual section is my planning section. This seems like a subject Hermione Granger would be adept at which is why I place a picture of her here. Again, I found this online through searching Google images here .


Turning the page, there’s a quote from Ron Weasley, who was talking about Hermione at the time and then my lunar calendar. Most people think I’m crazy logging the lunar cycle but I find that the cycle of the moon really has an affect on my moods.


The pages that follow include dates for the academic year, weekly prompts for when I’m planning my week, yearly calendar, my future log page where I write down all events and dates to remember as I find out about them, my perpetual calendar and my Yearly planner calendar pictured below.

The Knight Bus ticket was another gift from Woozelmom and I’ve laminated it to keep it nice.


This Dumbledore quote is on the other side of my weekly prompts list and next to my future log pages.


My favourite picture of Newt Scamander graces the list section divider.


And one of my favourite moments of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them is on the other side of Newt along with my to do list pages.  Link here.18010873_10154959576245659_966801931237913801_n

My brain dump pages follow on from the To Do List pages. Don’t you love my pencil wand? I made it using a pencil, hog glue and paint. 18010264_10154959576395659_5625836229883820987_n

The occasions divider where I can plan any entertaining we are doing, birthday parties etc.


Another Dumbledore quote and some birthday plans for my daughter’s birthday party.


The next section is dedicated to my pen pals and contains their addresses and a log of letters written and received.  I love the little tab topper of Pigwidgeon. Hogsmeade poster here.


One of my favourite characters and quotes from the series along with my pen pal letters sent and received log. Picture here18033369_10154959576955659_6019791198061277798_n

The next section is a where my daily planner pages start. The photograph was taken when my daughter and I visited Platform 9 3/4


A map of Hogwarts follows and then it’s my monthly goals.  I like to set out my monthly goals along with my weekly intentions. More on those pages to follow.


Here are my page per day pages.  I created them in powerpoint where all my pages are created.  I love how my page marker turned out. It has my morning and evening routines printed on it.


My weekly intentions page is for things that I intend to get done during the week. I like the term intentions better than to do list.


My finance section comes next. The snitch picture can be found on etsy here.


Another Dumbledore quote found here.


I haven’t shown my budget which is personal but I have shown some blank expenses pages and online purchase log pages.  I’m not sure about you but I sometimes forget what I’ve ordered especially if the items will take weeks to arrive such as some items ordered from China.  My purchase log keeps me updates of what is still to arrive.


My personal section comes next.


My transfiguration (weight loss measurements) come next and there are a few of these pages to help keep me on track. I adore Luna. I can’t find where I got this picture from but if you come across it please message me and I’ll give all due credit.


Then there’s my cosmic ordering pages come next – they’re basically manifestation pages by another name.  If you are unfamiliar with the concept, check out the book The Cosmic Ordering Service or the website on the link above.


Because my work can take me all over the area, I like to keep a log of where I’ve worked that isn’t my usual base and I have titled these pages Muggle Business.  Then there are pages for the Books I’ve read, books I’ve got on order at the library and books I want to read.17992308_10154959578085659_6157492901752482001_n


Next comes The Burrow which is Swish cottage or our home.

18010918_10154959578265659_1785343001097437560_n (1)

I keep things pertaining to our home here such a cleaning schedules, family schedules, details on family members such as clothing sizes and needs, wish lists etc.  Gryffindor poster can be found here17991900_10154959578405659_518650383477173535_n18010260_10154959578550659_4662343018696252841_n

Then there’s menu planning.  This adorable owl pic can be found here.


I plan my weekly menu here along with any shopping that needs to be done. Again, I can’t remember where I got this picture from but if you know the source please let me know.


Next comes my freezer, fridge and freezer inventories17952922_10154959583705659_2815238831386430107_n18033342_10154959584160659_3932955183703183554_n

There is also a page for writing down items I need to stock up on.

The last section is for writing where I keep blog post ideas along with my book ideas and notes. I love Vincent van Gogh paintings and this Hogwarts image done in the van Gogh style is just phenomenal.


At the very back, I have a little pocket folder that I made to keep stickers, a couple of birthday cards and my Morrisons savers stamp folder. What would Hermione do image can be found here.


I could go into so much more detail about the way I use my planner but I’ve run out of time!  This has been a lengthy post!

I hope you love my planner as much as I do.

Bright blessings,

Mrs R