Saturday, 30 June 2012

Recipe Review - All-in-one oven curry

This is my own (and papa penguins) review of Anthony Worrall Thompson All-in-one oven curry.

This is a lamb based curry, not too spicy with butternut squash and peas.  We really enjoyed the flavour though I did make a few changes.  I used 2 tablespoons of mild curry paste instead of the curry powder and bay instead of curry leaves.  I also didn't have any cinnamon sticks so I just sprinkled a bit of ground cinnamon over it before putting in the oven.

As I said before the flavour of the curry itself was gorgeous, and we've both never had Orzo before which enjoyed, however the butternut squash needed cooking for a lot longer as it was crunchy and we'll def try this recipe again but with chicken thighs as we both prefer our lamb as a roast with mint sauce !

Friday, 29 June 2012

Cars cars go away !

I came home from work today to find this red car along with a whole row of others parked opposite our drive.  Now driving an estate meant that I had to reverse in and out about 5 times to get my car into position.  I don't mind the odd occasion of this happening - for example if the neighbours have a party and they have lots of guests its not a problem, but this has happened every day this week and its starting to get annoying.

I like to reverse into our drive because reversing out of a space with kids window shades creates a rather large blind spot and I believe it not to be as safe.

I'd like to complain to the council like my neighbours have done but do we have a right to complain?  There are no parking restrictions on our road even though we are close to a zone 6 station and a parade of shops nor are their any signs saying they aren't allowed.

Maybe I'll go out there with a tin of yellow paint at the weekend.....

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Delivery Day

I thought today was going to be really boring but it turned out otherwise !  I had today reserved for a new fridge/freezer delivery as well as our new kitchen worktop delivery.  Monday I get a text from Ikea saying my delivery slot was 12pm to 4pm and yesterday I get a text from the fridge suppliers sayings 830am to 12pm so that pretty much meant I had to stay indoors ALL day !

Luckily to save my sanity my friend and her little boy came over.  Our kids are 6 months apart with hers being older and its so great seeing them play together.  Toddler penguin was a complete show off when our guests turned up - running around like a lunatic but we soon got them out into the garden throwing balls and generally destroying my plants....all in the name of fun !

I also managed to take huge advantage of the sunshine and muggy weather and get 4 wash loads done and dried, ironed and put away.  I've also started emptying cupboards in preparation for our new kitchen being installed....a successful day in my opinion!

On the downside - for those with Peppa Pig fanatics, I met a not so Mr Skinny Legs hiding behind our basket of shoes by the bag door.  I have noticed a massive cobweb now - this is what happens when papa penguin offers to hoover and he doesn't move things off the floor.  Well due to my huge fear I have not touched the basket since but am tempted to feed Mr Skinny Legs just so he doesn't go off wandering in search for food !

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Weekend alone - but not so alone

Papa penguin went on a stag weekend to Germany this weekend and I was dreading spending the weekend cooped up home alone.  However weekend turned out really well !

I had my uncle in law pop by Saturday morning, my friend came and stayed the night joining us for lunch on Saturday and leaving after lunch on Sunday.  Then my auntie in law popped over after toddler penguin's nap and her husband joined us and we all had dinner together (recipe on my recipe page!)

So what I thought would be a boring, lonely, tiring weekend actually turned out to be full of variety, although still tiring.

Even toddler penguin had to chill out for a bit.....

Weekly Meal Plan - June 25th

Every week - normally Mondays 5pm I have Sainsburys delivery our weekly shopping.  I have meal planned about 3 years now.  It started when I got fed up with papa penguin asking what was for dinner so I planned ahead and put it on our joint online calendar so he always knew what we were going to have - haha he used to juggle his nights out pre baby around my food plans !

I also have a budget of £75 a week so all food items.  This week I've run out of lots of store cupboard items so I've had to budget what we are eating a lot more carefully and looking out for offers.  I also don't work Monday's and Wednesday's so have to plan lunches along with the weekly dinners.

Here is this weeks planned meals:

Monday lunch: Out
Monday dinner: Pasta and cheese and brocilli sauce
Tuesday dinner: Jacket and Beans
Wednesday lunch: Pitta Pizzas
Wednesday dinner: Chilli
Thursday dinner: Salmon and cream cheese pasta
Friday dinner: Chilli left overs
Saturday lunch: bits and pieces / nibbles
Saturday dinner: Sausage, Mash and Peas
Sunday lunch: Beans on Toast
Sunday dinner: Me out - papa penguin can have freezer food.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Chicken in a Tomato Smoked Paprika Sauce and Rice

The night I made this dish was a night I had chicken in the fridge that needed using up and I fancied something tomatoey that my little boy would also eat.  Here is the outcome....

I sweated onions on a low heat and added garlic.  Then I added diced chicken breast and cooked for a bit longer.  Squirted in some tomatoe puree, 2 teaspoons on smoked paprika, sprinkle or normal paprika and a dash of parsley.  Added 2 cartons of chopped tomatoes, tin of sweetcorn and a handful of petite pois and simmered for about 40 minutes with some black pepper seasoning.  Meanwhile I made two batches of rice.  The first just normal, the second mixed with turmeric so it went yellow.

Hubbie was away for the weekend, so his aunt and uncle popped by to keep me company and we all sat down with toddler penguin and polished off the lot !  He even continued to finish all the rice !

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Wedding Bells and Cake

My mum got married at the weekend !  We had a fantastic day and although it was a bit windy it didn't rain ! Could that mean that summer is on its way ?

My mother looked gorgeous in the golden dress and my now stepdad looked very dashing in his suit....even if he didn't stay in it all night !  So my first picture that I choose to display is a family shot.

Thats papa penguin on the far left, my stepdad, my mother the gorgeous bridge, my grandad (still going strong at 86), moi and my amazing son.

We had an eventful morning whereby we could find the wedding venue.  My mum was already there waiting for us and we had parked the car with grandad in tow and just could not find it.  We asked some firemen for directions and they said it was a 20 minute walk.  Ha ha no way could my grandad do that....he barely makes it to the end of the they offer him a lift - I think it was the highlight of his year !

So lets skip past the ceremony and to the evenings events....specifically the cake !  Homemade by yours truly !  Mother wanted two tears, one to be chocolate and then chocolate ganache poured over it !  It took a lot of trials and lots of cake to eat but here's a mid shot and the finished shot follows.

Photos property of

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Tuesdays - Budget days

Tuesday evenings I budget !

I have a very complex spreadsheet which records our incomings and outgoings.  We budget for everything !  We save monthly into a about 6 accounts; birthdays, christmas; holidays; weddings; car and buildings insurance.  Am I boring you yet !  I've made a list of all the birthday and christmas presents we would buy throughout the it up, divide by 12 and tada thats what we save a month.  The car account is probably the most helpful as we plan for MOT, Tax, Service so we we are never caught short with hefty bills.

We budget £500 a month for food and petrol.  If we have to take a couple of long trips in a month then we eat less those weeks !  Don't worry I don't starve our family but I do dread the day when toddler penguin isn't eating fistful size portions but portion sizes like his daddy !  I meal plan online mainly using sainsburys unless Ocado send me a nice looking coupon and I try and keep to £75 a week.  We generally only put £40 a time in the car unless we are going on a long trip.  Call us sad and insane but its how we keep afloat.  Its so easy for both of us to over spend and with our incomings just covering our outgoings we have to be careful !

However in my past life (pre marriage and baby) I was a shopaholic !  I still am at times.  I remember I once went to look for a job and it rained.  I ended up in a shopping centre spending about £400 on clothes.  I got back home and hid the clothes from my housemate I felt so guilty !

So I will blog my Tuesday's and bore you all with my spending habits.  Mainly to keep a record for myself!  My name is Lara and I'm a shopaholic and I haven't spent a penny in.........

Its a part time life

I left university in June 2003 and started at a construction company later that year in September.  I've been there ever since.....

I used to love my job and when I found out I was pregnant with toddler penguin I felt really sad about going on maternity leave and leaving my job behind. Not just the job but the people too.  I came back to work when he was 9 months old and chose to work part time.  The first couple of weeks were really hard but as I saw how much he benefitted from being at his childminders and how much I enjoyed having my own time reading the paper on the train and catching up with friends it got so much easier and just became out life.

I chose to work Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and it couldn't have worked out better.  After having to share toddler penguin with papa penguin at weekends I got him all to myself on Mondays and again Wednesdays helped break up the week.

However in October 2011 our company merged and my job changed.  If I had been given the option of redundancy I would have taken it but I wasn't, I was kept on.  Gradually all the fun interesting bits were taken away and about 80% of my job became admin.  It didn't just happen to me but everyone had to make changes and with lots of redundancies made things changed.  Staff morale still decreases everyday.  So now I'm pregnant with baby number two and with only working part time I'm counting down the days till I go.

I still enjoy the part time working life.  I love reading my books on the train and having something to talk to papa penguin about in the evenings other than dirty nappies and what happened on the latest peppa pig episode.  Toddler penguin loves going to the childminder and I love seeing him develop and definitely think its the best thing for him.

However my salary just about covers her fees and we therefore have to let her and my job go once the baby is here.  Am I bothered ?  About the childminder yes.  About my anymore.

Welcome welcome welcome

This seems to be the thing to do these days, write a blog.  So I've decided to join the blogging world and bore people with my life as a mum slash part time office worker slash housewife slash shopaholic !

I'm a mum of a 2 year old gorgeous boy who'll I'll call toddler penguin and he  brings me so much joy every day.  I'm also wife to my amazing hubbie (aka papa penguin) who is my best friend and my soul mate.  I'm also in my second trimester and looking forward to welcoming our new addition in the autumn.

I'd like to say we are a pretty normal family.  Both papa penguin and I have grown up with dreams to have kids and live life as a happy family and I think from the outside we look like that.  And from the inside we are like that too !  Of course we have our lows and our highs we wouldn't be normal if we didn't !

So the aim of my blog is to record our family life so that I have something to read back on in the future. I chose the blogspot name - "The Organised Penguin" for two reasons.  One - I love penguins !  I love the way they waddle along and belly flop into the water.  The Organised part comes from the fact that I spend my life trying to organise everything !  I meal plan, I budget, I have an online calendar, I make plans in advance and I love spreadsheets and ipad apps for everything from housework to managing financies !  Ha ha am I boring you yet.....well its up to you if you read on !