2019 goals …

Hi guys,

Don’t you love a new year? I love the idea of opening a new book, starting at the first chapter and that whole blank page. What are we going to fill the page with?! How exciting!

I don’t really make resolutions anymore. I feel like these don’t stick and we don’t remember them. Instead, for the past couple of years, I have used the goal method and I am making sure I follow through with them all. A lot of them are quite simple but shall make a big difference to me if I stick to them this year!

  • Intentional spending is where my money all has a purpose. Whether it be for bills, essentials or savings, all of the money goes on a “need” not a “want”. I have been so good at only spending money on things I actually NEED to rather than want but I am stepping it up this year. Every penny will have a purpose. I am breaking it down so I have bills, savings, travel (all holidays etc which we are only having two weekend trips and one big holiday this year rather than the massive amount we had last year), groceries, birthdays, xmas and miscellaneous. Miscellaneous will cover when I eat out or have a takeaway, day trips and coffees out etc. I am budgeting for all of these things month by month depending on birthdays. The Xmas budget is what I budget for the xmas food and events split over the months. I am so keen to carry on like this through the year as the money I will save will be MASSIVE!
  • Live a minimalist life – I have been doing this for the most part. I have made sure I have decluttered and really focused on buying only what is essential or what is necessary for the household. However, I still slipped up and brought extra things into the house without getting rid of something that was already here. I think I understand a lot more now WHY I want things and why I buy things when I don’t need to and this has really helped me to change and I feel ready for that this year. One area I will really struggle with is stationary and ironically, it is one area of my home that I haven’t been able to declutter until just this year. I have managed to clear out some pencils to my sister but slowly working through it now. I think it is like I said before that opening a notebook is great for a new and fresh start. But I am on that now and will continue to live as minimalist as I can and keep going.
  • Extra income will be achieved through hopefully a few different avenues this year, whether selling my clutter online or via selling sites. I hope to sell a couple of ebooks when I have finally written them (see below) and have a few different bits and pieces of writing planned too. I am hoping that this extra income will cover my spending money for the my multicentre trip in June.
  • Focus on relationships – I think this is something I did so well in 2018. I really focused my time and attention on those people who I want in my life and want me in theirs. We have a tricky time really when it comes to our relationships but I spent a lot of time in 2018 really evaluation who was important to me and also not making people a key part of my life if they are negative or bring me no value. Cutting ties with some meant that I had no negative energy left for them and that helped me to have a more positive overall impact on the lives of others. This is something I massively plan on continuing this year and there are some key people I have identified that I need to really try harder with. Life sometimes really gets in the way and time is so important. It’s about using it in a better way.
  • Study Hard – Something I haven’t done much last year was read a lot of nonfiction. I have some already downloaded books on my kindle that I have avoided most of the year and picked up fiction instead. However, this is the year I challenge myself to increase my knowledge. Knowledge is power. It is a fact that those who are wealthy and successful spend a lot of time increasing their knowledge and always researching and studying. This year that will be me.
  • Work smarter – I am a hard worker. Always have been a hard worker and I love my job too. However, this year I am going to work so much smarter. I have a lot of resources within this job and I am used to working on my own in the last job. So this year I have made it my mission to save time and work smarter to achieve what I want for each of my stores. I have spent a bit of time writing out my goals for each store and have come up with a plan of action for each one also. Feeling motivated!
  • Stop overthinking – classic move girls right? I am good at my job, I am a good wife, I am a good friend and I like to think of myself as a valuable member of my family. So WHY do I always let my mind overthink and have to question myself so much. I always allow my thoughts to drift away and worry about what people think of me and make up scenarios in my head. Not good for your mental health. Instead, I will be focusing on chanelling those thoughts into working smarter, studying and being the best version of myself. So what if people don’t like the way I am? That is me.
  • Double my blog followers from 250-500 – quite a simple goal. This applies to my wordpress followers only as I do have more around different platforms but I want my numbers doubled this year on here. I achieved 250 with regular blogging throughout the last part of the year so this year I am going to make sure I do this in the whole year by getting ahead with blog posts and writing up a lot of the posts I didn’t get round to in 2018. A lot of these were travel posts that are all ready to go – I just didn’t get round to writing them!
  • Write a non fiction ebook & publish – I have a couple of topics I wish to write about and so this year I will be going for it with these. I am aiming to finish two non fiction books that I feel passionately about so will write these up and hopefully create some extra income and also be a published writer.
  • Write a fiction ebook & publish – this was a goal for last year that I never quite got round to finishing. Mainly it was because last year was so hectic but also as I didn’t set myself enough time and I just didn’t get round to it. I have two books that I am currently working on. One is part of a trilogy and another is a shorter story that will be published hopefully by the midyear and I am really pleased about that!

Have you set yourself any goals this year?

Rachael xox

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Food prep & meal planning …

Hi guys,

I wanted to share with you my thoughts how food prepping and meal planning and the benefits of doing both. As you know, 2018 was a big year for me. I made a lot of positive changes practicing minimalism and trying to spend less money. While it wasn’t easy, I definitely found many benefits from being super organised.

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Benefits

  • Healthy eating – as you can see from my photograph, I often eat with the Slimming World plan in mind. I don’t attend a group. Instead the £5 a week, I save into a tin and weigh myself every Saturday morning. By meal planning healthy meals, prepping in advance means I am unlikely to then pick up the phone for a takeaway or eat a pizza and chips out of the freezer. When I have prepped and defrosted, I then eat that food otherwise it becomes a waste.
  • Less waste – Prepping food means batch cooking and then freezing portions to be eaten later. By practicing this method, I basically plan ahead around what is in my fridge and freezer and cupboards and stir up a batch of something. Sometimes a “throw everything in stew” or “fridge soup” is planned!
  • Time saving – when you both work full time at home and full time hours means long days out, early starts and later getting home the last thing you want to do is to start a meal from scratch and have to spend a long time prepping and cooking a meal. By prepping in advance and knowing what you are going to eat, you can defrost or prep in the slow cooker and then cooking time is minimal when you arrive home on the night.
  • Money saving – by prepping in advance not only are you having less waste meaning less other products having to buy, you are also getting more out of each batch you cook up for freezing for later. You are also saving money on the use of the oven or hob. It is common knowledge that a slow cooker uses very minimal energy so pre prepping a batch of something will be a lot cheaper than prepping that meal 4-6 times over a month. You can also buy in bulk and bigger packs which costs you less in the long run.
  • Organised – there is nothing like the feeling of being organised. Especially when working full time or having a family, knowing that you have your food taken care of, your shopping list is easy to follow and you are in and out of the supermarket is a great thing. Moreover, everyone in the house knows what the meal will be that evening – either via a calendar or a menu board at home – so whoever is home first can easily start the meal off ready for everyone.

How to meal plan

Getting started is easy. You need to make a list of everything in your cupboards, pantry and fridge/freezer. The fresh products are where you need to start off. Whatever needs to be used up first needs to be the first meals you plan around and start from there. There are plenty of websites you can type a couple of ingredients and then meal ideas come up. Look at where you can prep everything in advance – can you make these things on a Sunday afternoon and refrigerate or freeze? Can you get more than the portions needed for one night? Can you leave any of it for lunches the next morning?

If you are starting from a place of nothing and need a food shop, plan ahead with what you would like to eat each night and then shop according to that list plus your usual cleaning, drinks and snack essentials. Then you can spend an afternoon baking or cooking everything in advance and stocking up your freezer.

Make sure you take off any evenings that you are going out, have friends round etc.

I buy the plastic reusable tubs (used to by the foil but non recyclable and non reusable) and use these for meal prep and for packed lunches and can be used over and over again. You can easily see what’s inside. If mega batching in advance, you may want to write a date on, in which case you can use a sticky label or permanent marker on the bottom.

My favourite meals I prep in advance

  • bolognese sauce
  • pasta bake (any flavourings)
  • lasagne
  • campfire stew (SW recipe)
  • chicken curry
  • turkey curry
  • sweet and sour chicken
  • chicken casserole
  • beef casserole
  • chilli
  • leek and potato soup
  • butternut squash and sweet potato soup
  • vegetable soup
  • chicken soup
  • pancakes
  • Yorkshire puddings (prefer home cooked so pre cook and then freeze and need warming up)
  • Slimming world chips/roasties (cut potatoes to size and then boil with a little salt water/dry off and then in packs – cook when needed)
  • Slimming world pasties – cheese and onion/steak and mushroom – made in a wrap – cook then freeze
  • Slimming world calzones – tomato and then any flavouring inside – made in a wrap – cook then freeze
  • Pizzas – premake your favourites with dough or sw friendly with a wrap then freeze
  • boiled eggs – in fridge for salads (I also pre chop lettuce cucumber and tomato and keep in plastic tubs)

Have you got any favourite meals to prep in advance?

Rachael xox

 

Vlogmas.. Hot choc station

Hi guys,

Christmas is the perfect time to binge on hot chocolates! December is the only month that I don’t watch everything I eat and try to enjoy it! Especially on Christmas night, but anytime I have friends round, I like to pop some hot choc in the slow cooker and have a bit vat bubbling away all night. Other than some squirty cream, I like to have the following additions …

Marshmallows

Candy Canes

Sprinkles – Home bargains are especially good at themed sprinkles!

Any hot choc toppings you like?

Rachael xox

Breakfast at Manchester Airport with Giraffe…

Hi guys,

I have been to Manchester Airport a few times now for hols and it is such a good airport in comparison to Newcastle and has excellent shopping as well as some good food places.

Our usual haunt is Giraffe as they serve you super quick, have gorgeous food and it is such a reasonable price for the airport. They even managed to fit us all in super quick considering there were eight of us!

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I decided to go for pancakes with bacon and maple syrup and you have to have alcohol don’t you? So I went for the berry bellini which was actually very strong. The food was so delicious, nice portion for the price too. The 8 of us had breakfast plus drinks (the majority alcoholic) for around £100 bill which I don’t think is too bad for an airport restaurant.

Having tried quite a few places in Manchester airport, I have to say that Giraffe is a fave!

Rachael xox

Great Greek Restaurant, Middlesbrough

Hi guys,

So my review of this restaurant doesn’t come out well. I had been looking forward to eating out at the “Great” restaurant which serves greek food and is situated on Linthorpe Road in Middlesbrough. We decided to visit for my birthday meal and honestly, I was so disappointed in it.

The restaurant itself pays homage to it’s owner Dimi with Middlesbrough football shirts hanging on the wall and is quite a modern look restaurant with little Greek references throughout.

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The waiter was on his own with kitchen staff and someone behind the bar but there were very few people in the restaurant. It took forever for us to be able to place the order and I ordered a Mojito. The Mojito didn’t have enough ice or alcohol in and instead was filled to the brim with soda water which I almost couldn’t drink.

For my dinner I ordered chicken gyros which was awful. The chicken was more like pork as it was so chewy and salty. The side dishes were okay but we had literally waited so long for our food we would have eaten anything. We were in there about half an hour before the couple beside us (who ordered before we came in) even got their starters. That probably should have taken about two hours max (main and dessert) took us about three and a half hours.

I think the food really needs assessing, as does their staff training as clearly there is no proper manager in place or a manager with little restaurant experience. I would be willing to go back to try again but it would have to be with other people who wanted to go rather than off my own back. There are too many good food places in Teesside to make this place an attractive place to eat for me.

Have you tried the food here?

Rachael xox

Birthday at TGI’s ..

Hi guys,

A few months ago we had a dinner out for my friend Charlotte’s birthday at TGI’s. We love TGI Fridays because although it is a LITTLE pricier than what we would usually pay, the food is absolutely amazing and both the cocktails and mocktails are lovely. We always visit the one at Teesside Park as it’s the closest to us.

We do go to Frankie & Benny’s sometimes, but I much prefer TGI for dinnertime eating. I also think their décor is fab and the atmosphere is always great as it is usually nice and busy.

 

So, if you go to TGI’s and it is someone’s birthday in your party then you get a lovely balloon hat, they sing happy birthday to you and even bring you your own slice of cake.

I love the chicken fingers or the chicken sandwiches as the chicken is always so moist (hate that word) and tasty. The buns (baps, rolls whatever you call them) are quite good too as usually that is what I struggle with in chain restaurants. But the piece de resistance happens to be the skin on fries. Oh my goodness! They are so good. Even the dips are good.

Often TGI’s have a deal on where you get a two course or three course on a special dinnertime deal during the week which is often what we would go and get but most of the time we can’t get to dessert as we are so full. I think it is around the £15.00 mark for the three course(?). Often the cocktails are a little bit pricier around £4-£6 but I think the quality of them more than makes up for it.

Even as I write this, I am craving their potato skins!

So, if you have a birthday to celebrate, I would suggest going to TGIs for the fuss, the food and the fun.

Have you been?

Rachael xox

Lush Pumpkin Bubble Bar

Hi guys,

I am a LITTLE obsessed with Lush products and although I am trying to get through my stash before I buy anymore, I thought I would share with you exactly what I thought of it. This pink pumpkin bubble bar smells amazing first off and is also infused with glitter.

The bubbles that come from this pumpkin bubble bar are so long lasting, smell amazing and there are tonnes of them! It is infused with jasmine and bergamot which is an unreal scent and you can smell it for days! The fact that your bath is pink too? An extra bonus!!

Have you tried this? Have you tried anything from Lush’s Halloween range?

Rachael xox

Breakfast at Glady’s, Seaton Carew …

Hi guys,

So I have mentioned previously on a post about Frankie & Benny’s breakfast that Chris and I like to treat ourselves now and then to Saturday morning breakfast out. This time we chose Glady’s in Seaton Carew which is a vintage style tearoom that serves full meals too.

Simple old fashioned food that is served in a café that has an interior with 1940s war time memorabilia lining the walls. Although only a small area, it’s main room is lovely and inviting. Our order was taken quickly and food was served not long after.

The food was delicious and very filling. The hash browns – omg – one of the stand out pieces of the breakfast. We loved the look of the cakes and things too so maybe afternoon tea is on the cards very soon.

We loved the breakfast here and will definitely be back again – maybe for one of their live music nights.

Have you been here?

Rachael xox

Minimalism & your phone …

Hi guys,

So technology makes our life so much easier but it is just as easy to have a phone full of clutter than it is to have a coffee table drawer or under the stairs cupboard. Clearing out your phone can be so simple to do – while you’re watching TV, on a train on the way to work, in your lunch break. Clutter wears you down, it can burden you and make you feel heavy in weight. Doing a simple cleanse will ease some of this and make your phone much more manageable.

  1. Phone Contacts

Contacts in your phone should be cleared out every six months to get rid of those you don’t speak to or those one offs you have added. I like to do both my work and personal phone at the same time. Often I will have numbers for tradesmen, random acquaintances or people I have only spoke to once or twice.

2. Images

Anyone else out there screenshot photos like it’s going out of fashion?! I take so many screenshots of things I want to read, films I want to see, places I want to go. I keep an excel document of those things so transfer over to this (sad I know but hey!) and then when I am looking for something to read or a film recommendation I go to here and have a go. I also use travel recommendations and save them for when I book a holiday. Any pics from family hols or personal pics I upload to Instagram and facebook as well as transfer them to a separate hard drive and then erase them from my phone. Pinterest is such a good tool to create your boards and add all of the recommendations too. I have one for travel, one for event ideas, one for renovation ideas for my home. Once uploaded, I delete the originals and not only does it make for a decluttered phone, it also frees up your memory.

3. Memo pad/note pads – make sure to clean these thigs out as often as you can. If you are creating task lists then make sure you are ticking these things off. Try and condense things down and delete those things that you no longer need.

4. Texts – oh my goodness the bleeding texts I have deleted before. I make sure to delete these very often as it is unbelievable how many you accumulate. I often get them from my bank, credit card provider with updates as well as businesses and then the one offs from window cleaners etc. I make sure I log any info like appointments or addresses and then delete the text messages. I also make sure to save the numbers if it is someone I will be communicating with often.

5. Files – Have a look at your “my files” section of your phone. If like me you get a lot of info emailed over to you, you will be mega surprised exactly how much of this accumulates. I make sure to have a major clear out of this every now and then as it uses so much of your phone memory. Save the ones you want to keep on your phone if you need them there, transfer anything else that you don’t need on your phone to an external hard drive to keep them safe!

There we have it, some quick and easy clear outs to do on your phone to make it nice and clutter free. Minimalism comes in more forms than just clearing out your bedside drawers and cupboards. Practicing it in all forms of your life will make you such an organised person and allow you to think more clearly!

Any decluttering tips?

Rachael xox

The 90p nail polish you might want to try …

Hi guys,

Primark or PS beauty have been killing it recently and I have a lot of the items that I swear by – their beauty wipes, their adhesive nails and the lip liners are great affordable products.

However, I have also discovered these 90p nail polishes that I think are a good addition to your beauty stash!

Now, nail polish is not something I have a lot of, in my previous job I couldn’t have acryclic nails or painted nails due to working with food but now I have free rein when it comes to painting them so I wanted a few colours to build up my stash with.

 

So, what do I think of these nail polishes?

Okay, so you do need two coats. The first coat goes on a little watery (as per middle pic) but the second coat makes all the difference. The colour range is great and some of them are super shiny. One of my faves is the deep red – perfect for A/W.

My only small issue with it is that it does start to chip after a couple of days, which I can completely get on board with for a 90p polish!

Have you tried these?

Rachael xox