I wont lie, I was a little bit excited when I saw the bright daffodils and tulips pop up in shops with the promise of Spring around the corner. Even before this week it had felt like a pretty long winter. Day four of the snow here in Kent and I’m starting to realise this was just a cruel temptation and Spring is still a long shot away! I’ve missed out on virtually an entire week’s worth of work – the first time this has happened due to bad weather since I’ve started this job in 2014, and its pretty annoying to say the least.

Yesterday was undoubtedly a gorgeous day. Whenever we do tend to have snow here in England, it is usually accompanied by dark grey skies shortly to be followed by black slushy conditions making it feel like its the end of the earth. Not yesterday though. There was a piercing blue sky and bright sunshine, the birds were singing gloriously and it was like nothing I’ve ever experienced in my life before. It was sort of like something you’d see on someone else’s skiing holiday pictures. Wonderful and picturesque. Glorious even. I couldn’t help but feel joyous by the scenes I was experiencing – see it in action in my latest vlog here.

Today though, what remains is ice. Perishing winds. Freezing conditions. And an endless dark sky. The novelty wears thin quickly. Its only pretty for a day until it becomes a pain in the butt!

All I can say is, Spring I’m ready for you!

Oh its been a while since the snow caused Great Britain to come to a grinding halt. Just when you think the winter is on the way out and its safe to think Spring is on the way, we get this. Temperatures as low as minus 7 and up to ten centimeters of the white stuff laying neatly on the ground here in Kent. I’ll admit that I am charmed by the initial serenity that the snow brings, the soft fluffy white specks and the quietness that surrounds the air is a little bit magical. Losing a days worth of work and the thought of treacherous roads isn’t quite so magical.

We stuck our walking boots on and wrapped up in what felt like about ten layers and left our front door early this morning like the mad pair we are. We were on the hunt for a perfect white scene with a red robin but no luck! At first the specks were a light dusting but it really began coming down at one point. I refuse to take the car out in conditions like this as I’ll openly admit driving in the bad weather scares the life out of me. So of course we did that typically British thing and had to divert to the shops for bread and milk! Now I have no excuse to succumb to a cosy day snuggled up on the sofa!

The last time we made a visit to Arundel was at the end of a June heatwave. Yesterday’s visit was endured with freezing conditions thanks to the impending arrival of The Beast from The East. Nevertheless I can confirm that I absolutely adore this little town with its surrounding streets and delights round every corner. Arundel seems to have just about everything on offer from cobbled streets to clear blue lakes to a castle on a hill. Its idyllic even on a freezing cold day you cant help but feel charmed by this place. You can see it in action in my latest video here.

First we headed to Swanbourne Lake, where we discovered a lovely clear little lake filled with ducks and swans. The sun was glistening on the water and if it wasn’t so bloody freezing it would have been a pleasant spot to sit and enjoy the view. Arundel Castle can be faintly seen in the distance behind my head in the picture above.

 

Running a home comes with a multitude of responsibilities. One of which I hugely underestimated was the task of meal planning. Cooking itself isn’t a chore to me as I enjoy the routine of preparing a meal each day, however what I have discovered to be a real bind is meal planning. These planners from Kikki K have saved the day on more than one ocassion! I have been using a weekly Dinner Planner in accordance to the Shopping List and find they make the task of meal prep so much more efficient than if I were to just wing it.

We’ve all had those weeks where you head to the supermarket with a half-arsed shopping list only to arrive home to be met by an empty box of cereal as you realise half a dozen things had actually been missing off your list. If I don’t get in a decent food shop at least once a week I find myself back at the shops again in a few days time to replenish the bits I somehow missed. This is both tedious and time consuming. Since using this duo from Kikki K I am far better organised both in terms of doing my weekly food shop and knowing what we are having for dinner each night in advance so those mishaps are long gone.

What’s so good about them?

Firstly, they are magnetic so they live strategically on the fridge door. Where are you when something runs out or you notice an item is running low in the cupboards? You’re going to be in your kitchen aren’t you? Therefore your shopping list is hanging up nicely, never far away meaning you can immediately jot it down. Extra bonus points go to the handy little attachable pen loop allowing you to never have an excuse not to write it down. Practical and helpful! This way nothing should get left off that list.

Both the Shopping List and Dinner Planner are laid out in a way that just makes life simpler – you can glimpse over at them quickly and know straight away what you need – particularly the shopping list which is categorized into useful sections to make your shop run smoothly. The sections are ‘Fruit and Vegetables’ ‘Meat and Seafood’ ‘Pantry’ ‘Dairy’ and ‘Home’ so its literally got all aspects covered! When I’m in the supermarket down each aisle I am able to refer to the list and double check what’s in my trolley matches up.

The Dinner Planner comes in handy for me because it really allows me to organise the week ahead. I write the meals out referring to what I’ve purchased in the latest grocery shop or refer to the freezer as I will often double up portions then freeze a meal for leftovers. I can rotate everything round effectively and knowing what we are having in advance means I can cook things up in bulk and refrigerate them to go with another meal. Basically its just a really helpful tool to help you get organised and stay on top of things. Sometimes I think ‘what are we having for dinner tonight?’ and instead of trying to wrack my brains I can simply refer to this and know I’ve got it sorted!

* The Dinner Planner appears to be discontinued now (I purchased these last year from Kikki K) and replaced with a larger A4 Meal Planner, so same principal just with breakfast and lunch included.

How do you stay organised with Meal Planning? Would you use something like this?

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As much as I adore summer, my heart truly belongs to autumn. There are just so many reasons why I fall head over heels for autumn time and time again. The spectacular colours, crisp mornings, cosy blankets, pumpkin themed everything and particularly the hearty homemade foods that start to appear as the autumn months roll in. It already feels like we’ve waved our goodbyes to summer here in the UK and I’m kicking off the autumn season with my favourite roast pepper and butternut squash soup!

I’ll admit – I am a bit of a ‘wing it’ kind of cook in my kitchen. I don’t strictly stick to following recipes and I like to experiment as I go along most of the time. There is nothing more agonizing to me than having to weigh out ‘x’ amount of every single ingredient. I love cooking and serving up delicious meals but I prefer to do it in real time. Below are the rough guidelines to a heartwarming squash and pepper soup! Its full of flavour and takes no time at all to make. You don’t have to be experienced in the kitchen to make this!

Roasting the two main ingredients is the key to this easy but tasty recipe as it brings out the natural sweetness in the peppers and does a lot of the hard work for you! By putting the squash in the oven it cuts out a lot of fiddly, time consuming preparation because you leave its skin on meaning there is no need to peel the tough squash!

Ingredients:

Medium butternut squash.

Pepper of any colour (I tend to do half/half orange and red.)

Onion.

700ml Veg stock.

Sprinkling of paprika.

Salt/pepper to taste.

The Method:

  • Carefully cut the squash in half (longways.) A sharp kitchen knife makes life a lot easier in this process. Scoop the seeds out and discard.
  • Dice pepper.
  • Place the squash and pepper on a roasting tray in a pre-warmed oven of 180 degrees. Sprinkle a bit of paprika over the veggies and season to taste.
  • Cook for approx 30 mins or until the squash is soft.(I tend to get the peppers out a little earlier as they can burn so just keep an eye on it all.)
  • Meanwhile chop and fry the onion in the same saucepan you want to serve the soup in.
  • Boil a kettle of water and using a measuring jug prepare your stock. Then pour in saucepan with onion.
  • When the squash is ready take out the oven. Cool for a few minutes however while it is still warm, cut lines down the long side of the squash as if to remove from its skin and dice in the middle. You should be able to easily scoop the flesh of the cooked squash out leaving the skin behind. The skin should be discarded.
  • Place the roast squash in the saucepan along with all the other ingredients and using whatever method you have at home blend into your preferred consistency. We don’t like our soup too smooth so I leave it a bit chunky.
  • Simply bring to the boil when you are ready to consume it.

BONUS: This is also freezable meaning it makes more than one meal depending on how many people you are feeding!

Serve with fresh bread or baking rolls and enjoy!