28 Aug

Lunchbox Tips

I can safely say that I’ve literally made hundreds of school lunches over the years and I’ve hundreds more to make.

If you’ve got a child starting school this year or if you are looking to freshen up your lunchboxes, here are my top, tried and tested, tips for packing a lunchbox: Read More

23 Mar

The Brexit Kitchen Stores

Did I get your attention there? Or maybe, like me, you rolled your eyes a little bit at the thoughts of stockpiling certain food items in advance of Brexit (in whatever form it eventually takes). Bear with me here though, because a fully stocked store cupboard is a thing of beauty and regardless of the UK imminently leaving the EU it’s a good idea.

What’s in my pre-Brexit store cupboards? It’s probably easier to list it out according to category:

Dry Stores

  • Beans – Black eyed, pinto, chickpeas (garbanzo), and butterbeans
  • Lentils
  • Seeds – Pumpkin, Sesame, Sunflower, Poppy, Nigella (onion seed)
  • Sugar – Caster, Granulated, Soft Brown, Dark Brown, Demerara (did you know it’s not produced in Ireland anymore?)
  • Flour – Plain, Self Raising, Strong, Type 00 (for pasta making), Wholemeal, Brown
  • Oats
  • Tinned Beans (blackbeans, pinto, chickpeas, butterbeans, and baked beans)
  • Passata
  • Tomato Puree
  • Oils – olive, sunflower, rapeseed, peanut
  • Dried Fruit – Raisins, currants, apricots, prunes, figs
  • Pasta – spaghetti, lasagne sheets, and several different pasta shapes
  • Rice – White, brown, basmati, pudding
  • Bulghar Wheat
  • Couscous
  • Stock Cubes
  • Tea
  • Coffee

Freezer

  • Loaves of bread
  • Meat – chicken, beef, pork, lamb
  • Fish
  • Pizzas (emergency use only)
  • Yoghurt
  • Vegetables – peas, sweetcorn, butternut squash
  • Fruit – gooseberries, raspberries, bananas (skin off), strawberries, blackcurrants, blackberries, blueberries, apple purée (perfect for baking)

How do I build up my stores? I simply buy a little bit extra every week and factor it into my shopping budget, the maximum I spend each week is €5 on the extra items but store items like beans are extremely good value and I can get plenty for that amount of money.

The idea is, Brexit aside, that I should be able to feed the family from the freezer and cupboards for up to a month or more in the event of me running out of cash. I’d really only need to buy milk (which I know I can also freeze but I don’t have space) and eggs.

I have to emphasise here, I’m not a hoarder! I rotate my stocks and we will eat absolutely everything in the presses in rotation. Once I reach a set limit on my store levels I restock. I also keep an eye out for special offers and deals to stock back up.

Do you only buy what you need? Do you keep large stores like I do or do you just top up 1 item as and when it runs out? Might you change your shopping habits in the coming weeks and months?

PS

It’s likely that there are some foodstuffs that are going to be more expensive in the next few months. However, buying locally produced seasonal food is always going to be more affordable. Think fruits and vegetables for example. The first of the Irish tomatoes left a farm local to me over the St Patrick’s Day weekend, and strawberries won’t be far behind, so keep an eye out in the supermarkets this week as choosing to buy Irish has a long-term impact on our local communities and economy.

17 Dec

The Big Christmas Food Shop

If, like me, you’ve got that slightly rising panicked feeling about Christmas Dinner and what the last shop before Christmas Day will cost, stop now and have a little read of Day 17 of my Christmas With Caitríona series.

Read More

12 Dec

Simple Handscrub & Lotion Bars

Simple-Homemade-Cosmetics-2.jpgSimple Handscrub

This is the kind of gift that a small child can make, and actually they’d probably love the feeling of squishing the oil and other ingredients together. We used organic ingredients because we’d rather use them where we have the option. Read More

01 Dec

December 2018

With the Toy Show being on last night Christmas season has officially kicked off in Ireland; in fact I have a Christmas party to go to tonight. The kids are obsessed with Christmas and their pure joy and delight in decorations in the shops and music playing on the radio is brilliant. As usual for the start of December though I don’t have the decorations up and I’ve no Christmas Tree in the sitting room quite yet.

I know I’m not the only one. I suppose it’s a hangover from the days of being so stressed out about money that we tried not to put the decorations up early or the presents under the tree until we had them bought. It felt like we were making promises to the kids (and to ourselves) that we just couldn’t keep.

The memories of tossing in turning in bed at night wondering how to borrow from Peter and pay Paul will never go away. I hope that they never do because I understand now that they have (a) brought me to where I am today and (b) know exactly what it’s like for those who are struggling at the moment.

Over the next month I’ll have something new each day for you to read or watch. I’ll share my tips on how to prepare for Christmas on a budget; how to not to be a Mammy-martyr in the lead up to the big day, how to ask for help gracefully, and some budget present ideas for all ages.

For today, the first day of December, I’d like to ask you to add 1 small extra item to your grocery shopping this week to donate to your local food appeal. It needn’t be something expensive, even if it’s an extra tin of beans or a bag of rice. If you’d rather not add an extra item in, why not see if you have something in your cupboards already that you’d like to share. Here’s the list from the St Vincent de Paul for their food appeal (this is also suitable for the Lions Club food appeals). Click here for the St Vincent de Paul list.

I’ve got some bags of pasta and some tins of beans which will be brought to our local collection point this week.

Chat tomorrow. Cxxx

13 Sep

45 Days To Go – Dublin City Marathon

The photograph? That’s me completing the Great Ireland Run 10K race in the Phoenix Park in the Spring this year. I hate running photographs with a passion. They are never flattering.

I’m embracing the running photographs though. I started running in December 2017 when I previously wouldn’t have even run after an ice cream van. Each photograph tells a story that is far much more than a race.

You know all those photos you see tagged on Instagram with #FitFam? The vast, vast majority of those photos are posed and edited by people who want to appear their best ‘for the insta’. My running photos however can’t be edited, they’re a snapshot of me completing a difficult task and making a step towards being fitter. So even if I don’t seem to be as perfect as the posed gym photographs, I know that I am holding my own.

In the meantime I’m trying to ignore a long list of questions, 45 days out from Dublin City Marathon 2018.

  • What the actual heck have I signed myself up for?
  • Why did I think that running a marathon in 2018 would be a good idea?
  • What if I don’t finish it in under the cut-off time of 7 hours?
  • Am I going to injure myself by exercising for 6+ hours non-stop?
  • Will there still be somebody at the finish line to meet me?

Just some of the questions going through my mind at the moment.

I feel like I’m walking a tightrope; trying to juggle home, work, and slot in training. I knew that undertaking a marathon and all the training that it entailed would be difficult. I didn’t realise that I would be followed around by so many questions.

This week I had to go away for work for a few days. Everything was going swimmingly until I found out that J (my husband) had an accident which has resulted in him having to pull out of training and of course the marathon for this year. He’s torn the muscles in his back pretty badly and is devastated. Yet I still had to pull on my gear and go for a long slow run that day with all the doubts rattling around inside of my head.

J has been my running buddy from last December. We started off on this mission to run a marathon together and it’s shattering to accept that we won’t be crossing the finish line side-by-side. I know that seeing me continue to train and work towards the goal that we held together is very difficult for him and I am just praying that he will be there to meet me once I cross the finish line.

I’ve called in the big guns. My regular training with the club will finally resume this week (I’ve been away a good bit so training on my own), I’ve also booked a Chi Running workshop. I’m going to need all the help I can get.

Training for a marathon I’m learning is about training yourself internally to cope with the doubts, questions, and niggles. It is as much about mental resilience as it is about physical resilience.

29 May

May Update 2018

Oh look I found the blog again under a pile of laundry and paperwork in my so-called-office (aka the laundry area). I didn’t stop blogging for a spell on purpose, I just had so much stuff on that I struggled to find the time. Anyway sure look-it. I’m back and I’ve got loads of interesting things coming up and good news that I thought I’d share it here!

The recipes are back; I have a shed-load of recipes in drafts which I’m going to drip-feed to you over the next couple of weeks including some beautiful main courses for family meals, along with some simple sweet treats. If you’ve been following me on Instagram (click here if you don’t already and would like to), you’ll have seen some sneak peeks. Writing recipes is something I love to do because it’s a chance for me to get creative in the kitchen.

Bloom In The Park is this week! Jeepers how the heck did it come around that quickly? I’m a massive fan of the festival anyway but this year I’ll be demonstrating some of my favourite recipes at the Fun In The Farm area. If you will be at Bloom please come and say hello. I’m also joining a GIY discussion panel at their area on the Saturday so it’ll be a jam-packed festival with food and growing food top of the agenda. If, like me, you like gardens and food then expect me to fill your timeline full of gorgeous pictures from tomorrow until Monday. Bloom, created by Bord Bia, opens to the general public from Thursday morning. Read More

08 Mar

Nearly Never Ran The…

Last Sunday was my second ‘competitive’ running race of the year.

I run at least once a week with the Balbriggan Road Runners group. There are not enough superlatives to describe how great and supportive they all are. Normally on a run day I chart my progress using my FitBit to time how long it takes me to run the distance we’ve set ourselves that night, it’s always over 5km though. Which makes it easy to see how I’m doing from one day to the next, one route to the next.

Competitive running (so to speak) is a bit different because we have a chip in a bib number that records how long it takes us to run a distance. These races bring out the serious runners, the ones who lap you before you’ve even completed your first lap. They’re a BIG DEAL. The first race I did this year it snowed, alot, and I basically walked it all. Hilariously this second race was nearly called off because of the Big Snow, or as it will be come to known in the future, SNMarch2018. Read More

26 Jan

Monitoring Your Child’s Internet Access

I originally wrote this piece in 2013 and unfortunately I’m reviewing it today in the light of discussion about children’s internet access and online safety today. Read More

15 Oct

Preparing For A Power Cut

Storm Ophelia is on the way tomorrow, and some areas of Ireland are already in red alert, others are in orange alert. We know for sure now that there will be some disruption and this means that there’s a distinct possibility the electricity could be cut off. Ever since the power went one Christmas Day when I was growing up, I’ve compiled a contingency plan so that I always have particular supplies in the house, just in case.  This can apply in times of bad weather, snow or just when there are supply problems so it’s a good idea to prepare now – you never know when these tips will come in handy!

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12 Oct

How Does She Do It?

It’s a question I’m often asked.

I try to explain my weekly work schedule in the home and outside of the home and I see people’s eyes glaze over. In truth, the writing part of my life is not a hardship. I could sit at a computer and write my heart out. Some days I have to restrain myself from writing too much and ignoring all the other tasks put on pause while I write something that’s on my mind. Read More

14 Sep

Mental Load – Food For Thought

There’s a point in a recent documentary on RTÉ1, called Ireland’s Health Divide, where Dr Eva Orsmond can’t get her head around a woman from Limerick buying so much processed food. The woman says that she doesn’t buy Coke (Cola) anymore because it’s worse than the other bottles of fizzy drinks on the countertop in front of her. Then Dr Eva looks incredulously at the woman not understanding how she came to that assumption. Perhaps even with more than a little judgement. Read More

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