A Strong Coffee

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Plastic Box Shop 4 Box Challenge

4-box-challenge


My name is Louise and I am a hoarder. There I said it, and now I can move on. It's never good to watch an episode of "The World's Worst Hoarders" and sit there thinking, well I'm not quite that bad. When Plastic Box Shop wrote to me about their 4 box challenge I knew I needed to take part. Over the years we have gathered a lot of stuff. With this stuff comes memories which I hold onto making it hard for me to let go of things. We have also gathered 3 children. With them comes lots of toys and lots of mess.

The challenge was simple. They would provide 4 boxes and I would declutter one room. They provide this useful infographic to help me with my decisions.

4-box-declutter-challenge


The room I chose was my bedroom. I try to keep the downstairs of the house tidy for when people come round. My bedroom on the other hand had turned into a dumping ground.

Surfaces were cluttered.

cluttered-desk

cluttered-chest-of-drawers

Draws and wardrobe unorganised.

cluttered-wardrobe


The boxes were a massive help. I laid them on the bed and got to work. It was a quick way of making a decision over objects.

In the process I managed to fill 2 rubbish bags full of junk, 1 very large charity bag of clothes and a whole box full of the boys' toys that they had left scattered around his room. I can't believe that I was living in a room with so much junk. Getting rid of it has had a massive effect and I am determined that it will not get as bad again. Items are now strictly on a 1 in 1 out basis. If I buy a new top and old one goes. It will be hard, but it needs to be done.

So what did I find out by doing the challenge?

1. I keep a lot of things I don't need. I went through every draw and found 4 nursing bras. On the basis I stopped feeding little man 2 years ago and don't plan to have any more children, I have no idea why these were clogging my drawers. A belt for a top that has been binned about 2 years ago is again not required.

2. I keep pointless pieces of paper. Sometimes keeping receipts is useful, however, there is no need to keep a Butlins receipt for 3 postcards or a recipt for a top you bought in 2013 and have no got rid of. I also gather a lot of childrens art work. I took this photo so I have a record and can now recycle them.

kids art


3. My children move their toys into my room a lot. I need to ensure that if they come into my room, they leave with all toys. I don't need any play food or crayons in my bedroom.

4. If a glove has been lost for 3 years it is unlikely to show up, so its best just to say goodbye to its unpaired friend.

5. I need to buy new sunglasses. I found a number of pairs of sunglasses which quite frankly can't have ever suited me.

6. Memories are far more important than "stuff." This one tiny picture is much more valuable than all the junk I threw away.

7. Just because my Dad told me it cost a lot when I was 15, doesn't mean that it did or that I need to keep it for over 20 years.

8. Time helps you realise that you don't need to hold onto things. Going through some of the old baby clothes I found, I realised that there was no need to keep some of them. Children are individuals. Little man should not have a wardrobe of worn hand me downs.

9. I now need to take my boxes and work through the house room by room.

10. There really should have been 5 boxes. I needed one labelled "Objects of which I have no idea what they are and need to ask my husband about." I kept these in a pile and most of which he had no idea either!

So here is my after photo.

tidy bedroom

tidy chest of drawers


My bedroom seems bigger, and most definitely a more relaxing place. No cluttered surfaces and everything has a place. I would like to thank Plastic Box Shop for getting me to sort this out, and I am determined to continue.

Have you got any great decluttering/tiding tips that I can use in the future?

Thank you Plastic Box Shop for helping me make my bedroom a place to relax.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Monsters under the bed?

All my boys have gone through stages where they don't like the dark. I'm not sure if it monsters they are scared of or something else, but they certainly like to have night lights to make them feel safe. Philips lighting have been looking into what is going on in our kids' imaginations. Here is there mostergraphic to help us adults understand.


infographic on monsters


Their research also showed that 58% redecorate the kids' room more than any other in the house. Personally we have tried to do the decorating of the rooms in plain colours and choose to add fantastic accessories like the Spiderman projector to give it a theme. This way there is less painting and more changing of accessories. We are currently thinking of changing middle man's room as he is going to need space to do his homework now he is at school. I think a cabin bed might be a way of making the best use of the space and then using some of Philips Lighting to keep all those monsters away.

Are your children scared of the dark or monsters? What do you do to help them?




I have been gifted a Spiderman projector for Middle mans room in return for this post.







Sunday, 26 October 2014

Eerie Eyeball Cake Pops

eerie-eyeball-cake-pops

When you first make cake pops, they are quite tricky. They are quite time consuming, but once you get the hang of it, they are fun to make. With Halloween coming up, I really enjoyed making these eerie eyeball cake pops.

Ingredients (makes 12):

3 plain cupcakes
3 tablespoons of frosting  - I used Betty Crocker's Vanilla frosting
Cake Pop sticks
A tube of smarties
White chocolate cake covering
Writing icing pens

First you make the cake balls by mixing the crumbled cupcakes and frosting together and make into balls.

cake-pops-mixture


Melt the white chocolate and dip the sticks into it and then into the cake balls.Put into the freezer to cool.

Prepare the smarties by using the writing icing to make eyes.

smartie-eyes


Now get the cake pops out of the freezer, dip in the white chocolate and add a smartie eye.


eyeball-cake-pops


Finish by adding red icing to make veins.

If you are going to make these I have written a detailed post full of hints and tips about how to make cake pops here.

What Halloween treats are you making?


Saturday, 25 October 2014

Discount Coffee Giveaway!

larozza-coffee

As you have probably guessed by my blog name, I like coffee. I have a cup every day and I always have filter coffee. Recently, Discount Coffee asked me if I would like to review their Larozza Crema Ground Coffee. They state that it is a premium Italien blend that combines sweet ground Brazilian coffee beans and Arabica coffee beans from Colombia and South America. It is full flavoured, intense blend with a robust body and smooth aftertaste. I would definitely agree that it is full flavoured as it is a strong coffee. I enjoyed it but my husband wasn't as sure and felt it had a slightly bitter aftertaste. At £12.99 for a 1kg bag it certainly provides value for money.

If coffee isn't for you, they also sell tea and hot chocolate. Dicsount Coffee have kindly agreed to provide 1kg of the Larozza Crema Ground Coffee as a prize to one of my readers, Just complete the Rafflecopter below. Good Luck! (Oh and why not try my coffee dessert recipe below)

a Rafflecopter giveaway




coffee-dessert

This is a tiramasu style dessert, but after I realised just how many calories are in mascapone I swopped to using quark instead. You could use Tia Maria instead of Baileys and it will taste lovely too.

Ingredients (serves 2):

6 Sponge fingers
Cold filter coffee 
Baileys
Quark
Caster sugar
Creme fraiche
Cadbury's Flake


Break up the sponge fingers and place them in the bottom of the glass. Pour over the cold coffee so that it soaks in to the biscuits.

In a bowl, mix the quark, caster sugar, creme fraiche and Baileys.

topping-ingredients

Place the topping over the sponge fingers and sprinkle a flake on top.

coffee-quark-desserts


- See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/1kg-ground-coffee#sthash.728YYKz6.dpuf

Monster Face Cupcakes

monster-face-cupcakes


Big man has been asking to do some cooking recently so we decided to make some monster cupcakes. We made 24 cupcakes using a standard 8oz self raising flour, 8oz caster sugar, 8oz butter and 4 eggs.

boy-baking-cakes


To decorate the cakes we used:

White chocolate buttons
A packet of lips and teeth sweets
A tube of smarties
A packet of strawberry laces
Betty Crockers vanilla frosting
Green food colouring
Icing tubes

sweets


Here I took on the messy job of icing the cupcakes and let the boys decorate them. I used green coloring mixed in with Betty Crocker's vanilla frosting and then piped them in a "messy" style.

iced-cupcakes


They were very excited about making scary faces and particularly liked the teeth and lips.

Middle man was very keen on modelling them on me! Which apparently means I have teeth on my forehead and a beard.....

monster cupcake


What have you baked with the kids recently?

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Healthy Halloween Treats

Healthy halloween treats

Halloween is nearly upon us and Sykes Cottages have challenged bloggers to come up with some healthy Halloween treats. As my boys are aged between 2 and 6, I decided that I wouldn't be too gruesome with the menu.

First of all I made a Spooky Spider Sandwich. Here I used a garlic stuffed olive cut in half for eyes, a ham sandwich (but any filling is fine) and made legs from cucumber slices.


I used a round cookie cutter to cut the sandwich and then placed the legs around the side and the olives on top. This would be good served with some spider web shaped crisps, or you could make your own web using twiglets.


Certainly not too scary to eat, but maybe too cute!

Next I decided to make a pudding of snail porridge. I started by making the snails out of strawberries and melted milk chocolate. 


I added detail with a drizzle of white chocolate.


I then heated up some rice pudding and added some strawberry jam.


I then placed 2 snails in the centre. Big man was very keen on this and requested more snails!


Last but not least to wash down your Halloween meal, why not try a witches brew with ogres eyeballs? Here I used limeade, a blob of vanilla ice cream and a slice of kiwi.



So which is your favourite? Do you enjoy making spooky dishes for your children at Halloween?


This is my entry to the Sykes Cottages Healthy Halloween Treats Competition.



I received the cost of ingredients and a recipe book for inspiration.

First Football Match

This week big man has been a star. He took good care of his brothers whilst I was poorly. He also made me a get well soon card, even if he chose to give it me whilst I was throwing up! Luckily it was only a 24hr bug and I was well in time to take him to his first school football match. When it comes to football I have to confess it isn't my thing. Infact he does after school football as it saves me having to go and watch. Standing around outside is definitely not my thing. However, he had been chosen to play for his school, so I was looking forward to go and went prepared with a bag full of snacks to keep little man entertained.

Of course within 2 minutes of arriving, little man had eaten the extensive range of snacks and was complaining that I hadn't taken more. Watching big man play was really interesting. He may not be a star scorer, but he is a team player. His excitement was infectious. It was beautiful to see him so happy. He took more of a defense role. I can't really comment on whether the team played well or not as I have no idea, but they won their matches so I would say that is a good sign. The all shook hands with the other teams at the end of each game. It was a lovely afternoon which has made me realise that maybe I need to know a little bit more about football. Now, what is the offside rule again?

playing-football