Top Tip 31: Batch Cooking: Home Made Cottage pie

If I had written this post ten years ago, I probably would have shot myself! lol.

The fact that I really enjoyed doing this, says a lot about how my life and mindset has changed :-D.

Top Tip 31: Batch Cooking: Home Made Cottage pie

A few weeks ago, I spent an hour making six meals for my family, which I’ve frozen and which have already gotten me out of a few sticky “lack of meal” situations!

I was lucky enough to pop into Lakeland in Reading a few days before and picked up some of those foil dishes that you can use to freeze prepared meals in.

They were excellent but I’ve just found that they are a lot cheaper from Sainsburys, so will try those foil dishes and let you know how I get on.

In the morning I put the slow cooker cottage pie mix on.

This was:

  • Minced beef
  • Chopped onions
  • 2 beef stock cubes
  • A carrot, finely chopped
  • A handful of frozen peas
  • Gravy granules

In the evening I boiled some potatoes and turned them into mash:

Once they were ready, I loaded the dishes up:

I then topped them off with grated cheese:

I put the lids on and put them in the freezer.

It took about an hour, all in all, and I made six healthy meals that have been yummy!

Have you tried batch freezer cooking and if yes, which recipes do you cook?

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Top Tip 29: Toddler and Pre-School Meltdowns

I haven’t really blogged about Miss NHM’s meltdown’s.

The first time she had a proper meltdown (she was 15 months old and I remember it vividly) was terrifying.

After nearly three years of meltdowns, specifically when she is tired, I consider myself a bit of an expert in Miss NHM’s moods. I still get it wrong but I’m a lot wiser than I was a few years ago when she first started having meltdowns!

The biggest thing I have learnt is that Miss NHM HAS to eat every two hours. Yup, every two hours.

If I leave it for 2.5 hours, you can bet that there will be a meltdown at some point later that day. Especially if it’s a Friday, the end of the week when she is most tired.

During mid morning and mid afternoon she only has a snack but that snack helps keep her going. If I miss it and her blood sugar drops then I know I’ve got trouble on my hands.

If your little one has a lot of meltdowns, I really feel for you. It’s hard work and can induce many tears, not just for them! I had to keep remembering that it wasn’t personal.

As Miss NHM has gotten older we have fewer meltdowns because she can now tell me how she is feeling. Although, if I miss that two hour slot then it often doesn’t matter.

In the past couple of months she has rarely had a meltdown but if she’s very tired then it’s happened on the odd occasion.

I’ve probably over shared but if you are struggling, maybe try giving your little one something to eat every couple of hours and see if it helps things.

It’s worked for us, so it may work for you.

Good Luck! This parenting lark really is a learning journey!!

Top Tip 28: 52 Slow Cooker recipes to get you started…

The lovely Liane from Smallprint West Berks and North Hants sent me this link.

I thought it would be great to share with you, especially as I haven’t sent my slow cooker recipes to Sam or Danielle yet. Sorry ladies!

(Really must add that to my list of things to do! lol)

The Slow Cooker Recipes That You’ll Never Want To Live Without

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Top Tip 27: Playmobil spare parts

NHM: Most of you know that I LOVE Playmobil, and I share this love of Playmobil with Mr NHM too. 

I’m very excited about this post as it’s the very FIRST post Mr NHM has ever written on NHM.

The first of many if I have my way 😉

Playmobil spare parts

I recently bought some second hand Playmobil for Miss NHM for Christmas (got some big stuff and very cheap), however, there were some parts missing. Key parts I might add.

So I did a quick search on the interweb and found that Playmobil have a page for spare parts:

The system I used to find out the part numbers was:

1. Look on Google Images for the Product Number or if you have the original box it’s the 4 digit number on the front.

2. Download the Build instructions from Playmobil, found at the bottom of the home page.

Build Instuctions

3. Fill in the online form and sit back:

Quote Form

The whole process took 30 minutes to sort out.  I had parts from 3 different sets to find.

I received an email with the cost for my quote, £5, and a Playmobil phone number, to call if I wanted to place an order.  It was a local number and took less than 2 minutes.

Eleven days later and the parts arrived from Germany, a breakdown of the costs was included and postage was £2.25, which I think was a bargain.

Playmobil Invoice

I’ve now placed the parts on the toys and have a feeling of completion and they look AMAZING.

So now everyone knows where to get your spare parts from.


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Top Tip 26: “Slow cooker wonders” group on facebook

Today was a milestone in my life…

I used BOTH of my slow cookers AT THE SAME TIME!!!?!?!

I am now, officially, a slow cooker addict! lol.

We had slow cooker roast chicken in the large slow cooker and rice pudding in the smaller slow cooker.

I picked up the rice pudding recipe from this fabulous FB group:

Slow cooked wonders 🙂

Highly recommend joining this group if you are looking for some slow cooker inspiration!

Mum Top tip 24: Six weeks before Christmas!

(I know, I know, you don’t want to be reminded, but I was a Brownie and Guide so the motto “be prepared” is drummed in to me :-D.) 

In an effort to try to get organised for Christmas early this year, I thought I would put together a quick post about what to prepare roughly 6 weeks in advance of Christmas.

I have a Trello Christmas Reference board which I use every year and this really helps ease the pain.

I spent some time two years ago putting it together and now I don’t need to think about what needs to be done, I just refer to this board!

6 weeks before Christmas!

Do you know who you are buying for?

If not, time to make a list.

Once you know who you are buying for you can then start to think about what to buy them.

Look out for my Top Tip about CamelCamelCamel for saving money via Amazon.

I also keep a record against each person as to what I bought them in previous years.

This is especially important if you have friends with two or more children, so you don’t get a sibling the same gift.

Cheat: if you have to buy presents for several children of roughly the same age, buy them all the same thing! Then you don’t have to think about it! lol.

Are you doing stockings for people?

If yes, check out my 2012 post on stocking filler ideas that don’t end up as landfill. (This post also has a link to the post office with a list of mailing dates).

Are you hosting Christmas dinner?

If yes, what food do you need to buy?

I have a Trello list for food for Christmas day and then a Trello list entertaining food for when people come to visit.

I start buying the long lasting items off this list from the middle of November.

It helps spread the cost of Christmas. I think! lol.

What traditions are you planning to hold for your family?

There are key people that we always catch up with over Christmas and it’s important to us that this happens.

I think at Christmas time you have to be intentional about the things that you do and the people that you see.

One of our traditions is to hand deliver Christmas cards to our friends who live in Reading.

This isn’t particularly environmentally friendly but it gives Miss NHM a great opportunity to go “oooh, ahhhh” at all of the Christmas lights near where I friends live.

We also have another tradition where we go for afternoon tea at a hotel in the New Forest, with friends who live in Dorset.

Do you have a December bucket list?

I can’t remember where I first saw this, but it’s a great idea.

Are there certain things that are important for you all to do as a family during Christmas?

Write them down and add them into the December schedule to ensure they happen!

This year I am going to try to add several of our December bucket list things into our advent calendar.

Do you want to give out handmade gifts?

Time to start cracking on these, if you haven’t already!

This year I am toying with making handmade Christmas crackers, but you can guarantee it won’t happen, even if I do buy all the kits from Baker Ross!!! lol.

Are you doing a personalised advent calendar?

If yes, time to get cracking now! You can get some ideas about advent calendars via a post I wrote in 2014.

Are you posting parcels abroad?

Time to start thinking about the parcels you need to put together and the delivery times as they are sooner than for cards abroad.

Are you posting cards abroad?

Also check out the delivery times for cards abroad to ensure they arrive in time.

Are you putting together a Christmas Eve parcel?

If yes, time to start buying those Christmas Eve pyjamas!

Are you making Christmas cookies in a jar?

I’m probably going to regret sharing this post, but we made Cookies in a jar  last year and it went down a storm.

They took MUCH longer to make than expected though, so schedule at least 3 hours to make 12 jars!!!

Please, to all my friends who read NHM, don’t give us all “Cookies in a jar” as I’m trying to watch my waist line! haha.

Are you putting together a Christmas newsletter for your Christmas cards?

I’ve never done this but I’m toying with it this year.

So much has happened to our little family this year and I know our extended families that we don’t see very often would probably like to know what is actually happening, rather than the version that my Mum and my in-laws tell them! lol.

I probably won’t get round to it though!

Things to check

Do you have enough:

  • Sellotape
  • Christmas wrapping paper
  • Christmas tags
  • Christmas cards
  • Christmas table decorations
  • Christmas movies
  • Booze 😉

and check this post out for 14 things you don’t want to forget for Christmas!

In a perfect world, I would do all of the above.

I never do though! lol.

What have I missed?

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Mum Top Tip 23: My Weekly Status Report

This is a bit of a random post.

I was talking to my lovely friend at work, Mark, who keeps me sane on Office Communicator (Lync).

He suggested that it might be worthwhile sharing my status report template with others, so I thought you might be interested

My Weekly Status Report

Every week, on a Thursday or Friday, I complete a status report for myself.

It helps me take stock of what’s gone well each week and what hasn’t gone so well that I might need to do differently in the future.

It also helps me not lose track of time and not let the weeks drift into each other.

I complete all of my status reports in Evernote, as it helps me to check back if I want to find something.

Hopefully you might find this useful too.

Status Update Template

Did you make a difference this week? 

Review Summer/Autumn 2014 

(I have a post on Evernote that has things I want to achieve for each season. This is a reminder to check in and see if I’m on track.) 

Review of the Week – Work

Review of the Week – Home 

What did you achieve? Big Wins

Who did I contact? 


Lessons Learnt 

(I borrowed the following list from somewhere. No idea where now, but I find it very useful as a check point.)
  1. Read something related to my industry.
  2. Read something related to business development.
  3. Send two emails to touch base with old colleagues.
  4. Empty my private client inbox by responding to all questions within one business day.
  5. Check in with each team member on their progress.
  6. Have a short non-work related conversation with every employee.
  7. Review my top three goals for my business that are focused on it’s growth.
  8. Identify and execute one task to support each of my top three goals.
  9. Post five valuable pieces of content on all my major social media accounts.
  10. Take a full minute to appreciate what I have and how far I’ve come.

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Top tip 22: Sainsburys Tu 25% discount

I’ve found that Sainsburys do the best clothes and for a fairly reasonable price.

I’ve bought clothes for Miss NHM from Tesco’s and Asda before but they always wash funny and don’t last anywhere near as long as the clothes I’ve bought from Sainsburys.

Sainsburys regularly offer 25% off their clothes for a weekend.

In order to be ahead of the crowds, you can sign up to be alerted of the discount by email.

You just need to sign up to their website for the newsletters.

You can sign up HERE.

(You may need to sign up for a Sainsburys account to receive these email alerts. I can’t remember!)

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Top Tip 21: Clarks Shoe Fitting Service – Online Appointment Booking!

I found out a while back that you can book online for Shoe Fittings at most Clarks stores.

I tried it out for the store in Hatch Warren Mothercare during the October Half Term last year and it worked a treat!

No hanging around and waiting for other people to finish their appointments. Just turn up at the slot you’ve booked and 15 minutes later out the door.

That’s the kind of service that I love, even if the shoes do cost a FORTUNE!

  • Appointments are available in Clarks stores only. (Festival Place and Clarks in Mothercare, Hatch Warren)
  • Appointments are 15 minutes per child. If you book an appointment for multiple children, the appointments will be one after the other.
  • If you would like to book an appointment for today, please call the store directly, see our store locator for contact details.
  • Once you confirm your appointment, you will receive an email confirming the details and a reminder email the day before your appointment.
  • If you have saved your mobile number in your account, you will receive a text message to confirm your appointment booking and a text message reminder the day before your appointment.
  • If you have any questions about your store appointment, please call our friendly Customer Care team on 0844 248 8408.

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