Meal planning!

I often post stories over on instagram whilst I am in the kitchen cooking and baking. People often reply asking where I get my recipes from and how I meal plan. Answering these kinds of questions inspired me to pen this post.

Our family at the moment is myself and my husband and our four children ages 7,5,3 & 1. We all sit down together at meal times and eat the same thing. Making different meals is not something I have ever done. Our children might not always eat everything they are served, but I encourage them to all at least try a bite of everything. One loves broccoli and another can’t stand it, one loves spice and another is not so keen.

I also have my groceries delivered weekly from Tesco. I purchased the delivery saver pass using my club card points and have done that every year. This means that there is no extra cost to me for having my shopping delivered right to my kitchen table. I cannot explain how big a game changer this has been for us!

So what do you do? Where do you start?

I start by logging onto the Tesco grocery app and making sure I have my normal slot booked. Then check out what is on offer for the upcoming week. I add anything I think sounds good to my basket. I also check the cupboards so see what we have in.

The next part is my favourite, I have a bit of a “thing” for recipe books… and have built up a decent collection.. I don’t need them all but Marie Kondo they ALL spark joy! I choose a few books and look up what they offer. IMG_0917.JPG

(Side note – this is about half of my books..) But you don’t actually need any recipe books, the internet is FULL of millions of recipes. Just search what ingredients you have and away you go!

I work best with a pencil and paper, writing a proper list of my intended meals and what other ingredients I need to order to make them happen.

I don’t buy everything from Tesco, a local shop gets deliveries from the butcher most week days and deliveries of fresh fish twice a week, I like to have fish at least once a week.

Once I have my list of meals I can put it in order of what day I plan to have what, this has to have some level of fluidity as plans change. I go and finish up my online order and pin the meal plan to the fridge.

Typical week 

Sunday: Roast chicken with potatoes and vegetables
Monday: Chicken and bacon pasta bake
Tuesday: Baked breaded haddock, potatoes, broccoli and peas.
Wednesday: Spaghetti bolognese
Thursday: Tacos (using left over bolognese with added black beans)
Friday: Prawn curry
Saturday: Home made Chinese night – sweet and sour chicken, beef chow mein

Extra tips:
If your recipe calls for half of something, decide if the other half can be used in another recipe that week or if you can freeze it. Plan around your left overs. By doing this you will minimise food waste and save time and money. If you have children who are unsure about vegetables, don’t stress yourself out. You can try and hide them in sauces, or you can cut them up bigger and ask them to take a bite.
If you know which fresh ingredients have the shortest shelf life, have them at the beginning of the week so they are in their best condition. Meat can be frozen and defrosted so don’t worry so much about that.

I hope this has been useful! Let me know what your tips are for family meal planning.

Hazel Ann x


Meet the family

Welcome back!

I have been retrieving things I have written over the past years and starting to pen other things which have been floating around in my mind.

I thought it would probably be more sensible to introduce myself and our family.

So… I amHazel Ann, Christian, wife, mother to four. I have a lot of different interests, I often struggle to feel like I “fit in” with different groups. I run a sling library with my friend Louise , serve as chair person of a voluntary organisation promoting cloth nappies, enjoy jazzercise and getting outside. I love clothes and beauty and spend a lot (too much) time on Instagram.

My husband is an engineer, and crofter. The croft is something he was brought up with and he is so passionate about it. Self sufficiency is a long term goal of his.  He is a private person, has no social media outlets! He’s got a really good eye for photography. He is a very good egg. (Sorry for that vom fest of sop!)

Then there are our four children! Basically the reason I breathe. They are loud, loving, wild… free range. Living where we do, in the middle of no where, they have a lot of freedom to roam. They do also watch TV and beg me to go on YouTube. I won’t pretend to be some kind of amazing mother who can survive without a bit of TV babysitting while I get things done. Maybe those mothers exist somewhere but not in my house..

Add in all of our animals – a cat, a dog, some hens, a few cows and then the oooooodles of sheep.

I started this blog a long time ago and then neglected it. I find it very therapeutic to turn my brain soup into words and then save them away. Anyone reading this I hope some of my rambles make you smile, feel less alone and give you an insight into what our little life is like.

No so Mrs Hinch

For the last couple of months the world has witnessed the birth of a new army, they call themselves the Hinch Army, and they are everywhere. There will be members all around you..

Now this army is fighting dirt. And they are using nuclear weapons to do so.

Sales of certain products endorsed by Mrs Hinch have SOARED. Things have sold out and been auctioned off on ebay for crazy money.

I think cleaning can be a great form of therapy. I certainly enjoy it and from what I have seen of Mrs H, she seems to want to help other people. What is the cost though?

Before I had children I didn’t really believe you could clean without bleach and other, what I now consider to be, toxic products. 225302_502681368750_4551_n

(This is when I worked at a cafe all summer and bleached the sink and cleaned the HUGE windows every day.)

So as I was saying, after having children, I changed my mind. Where I live there was a company everyone went wild for that sold chemical free cleaning products. I bought a load of those, and I looked for low chemical and non toxic alternatives to everything. I learned that a lot of antibacterial cleaning sprays are harmful to our lungs and we are inhaling more and more of them all the time. The idea of this at the time terrified me. I was also worried about my children finding cleaning products and getting into them, they are the exploring type so nothing ever really feels safe when they are around.

I have now gone on to be a “rep” for another company selling chemical free/low chemical alternatives. This is not a sales post. 

Since I moved away from harsh products I don’t have to worry so much about having as many dangerous chemicals in my home. That alone is the best part for me.

I really love how easy to use they are too, having a cloth which does all the work is exactly what I need in my life as a busy Mam.

One thing I wondered about was germs, would we get ill more without bleach?

The answer is a no! I am very confident that we are getting rid of the bad germs.

So, that’s all I really wanted to say. I think Mrs Hinch is doing a great job at inspiring people. But her methods feel toxic to me.

Hazel x

Bathroom Update

Welcome back!

We began renovating our bathroom in 2013, at the time I was very pregnant with our second child. Around 3 weeks before my due date we started to knock down walls and rip the bath out… I went and stayed at my parents house with our eldest. I’m not sure why we thought that was a good idea… but it was one of those intense nesting things that you decide is a *really* good idea and SO important that it simply cannot wait.


As with everything we undertake, progress is slow. Having a husband who can turn his hand to almost anything is brilliant, but he has to spin so many plates, it can feel like he’s forgotten about some of the projects I am more excited about, and he is rather forgetful..

When I plan out projects I think it will take X number of days or weeks, usually turn one of my days into a month, and one of my weeks into a year!

I started to get ideas from Pinterest, I made a board which I showed to Paul every 5 minutes until he started to give me “the look” when I brought it up… But I would say my style is “country house”. Classic rather than trendy? I struggle to put myself into a box.

We tore out that gorgeous blue bathroom suite, and put in a white one, knocked down a wall, installed a shower – which was a last minute decision and not in my original plan- built units, put in underfloor heating, tiled the floor, made a bath panel, and some panelling behind the bath, built the huge shelves, more tiling and did lots of painting. Thats it in a nutshell, as I said it’s taken years and we have done it all ourselves. Each time we reached a new stage, especially getting rid of the blue bath and toilet, I would update my social media saying good riddance!

My father in law helped us a lot, he is a diamond, and as our house is very old there aren’t many right angles, for that reason “bespoke” is the only option. I loved the colour Pigeon from Farrow and Ball, so that inspired my paint choice. I really love shaker style cabinets and carried that look through to the bath panel and the wall panelling.

We ordered underfloor heating mats and wire, and installed that all ourselves.  This was a learning curve as we hadn’t done anything like this before! However the instructions were really easy to follow. We got prices for this from local shops but they were three times as expensive. We do always try to buy locally and got the floor tiles and work top along with the suite from a Shetland supplier. Sometimes getting things sent here can be a nightmare!

I did most of the painting, in-between feeding babies and everything else, when we were trying to get all the units finished I spent a lot of the boys nap times in here with my paintbrush.

So here is the finished, well as finished as its probably going to be, article. I think with a few more shelves around the window, a mirror on the blank wall and a fake plant or two it would really be “complete”. I am so pleased, even if it has taken forever and a day!

Mega thanks to everyone who has listened to me moan.. and super huge thanks to my husband and my in-laws.


Thanks for reading, Hazel-Ann x

Kitchen Transformation

When we were first married, our house looked very different to how it does now. It is an old property which has always been in my husband’s family. When I looked at the old photos it really seems like a life time ago.


This is what we started out with for a kitchen – an old bedroom which had not been slept in for a long time. As we ripped everything out we found old newspapers and cigarette packs in the walls, peeling back years and years of history. Once we were back to bare walls and a bare floor we could start creating our dream.

Our first year of marriage was a little different, I was still finishing my degree in Edinburgh, coming home odd weekends when we could afford it. When I returned for Christmas our Rayburn had been delivered. This was probably the most exciting delivery ever. We had talked so much about getting a Rayburn and were over the moon when we found somewhere that sold reconditioned older models and re-enamelled them. We built our kitchen around the Rayburn, and even now it is the focal point.

I fell in love with the look of a Fired Earth kitchen, however it was never going to be a practical option due to the cost and that our space was small. Paul and his father instead said they would make it themselves, they are my dream team.

On our loft we  found a set of doors from an old press. They were a turquoise blue colour and provided the inspiration for our colour scheme. We repainted them and bought black hinges and handles. There wasn’t enough of the old doors for the whole kitchen so we made the rest from MDF, adding the grooves to look like wooden boards and distressing them to match. (Look how cute baby Maxie was!) I knew I wanted a Belfast sink, I couldn’t imagine anything else in this space.

For the worktops we looked at granite, it was going to be a big expense and neither of us were 100% convinced it was going to fit in with the look we wanted. We had put down the solid oak floor and had this brain wave to use left over floor boards for a worktop with tiles inserted. A lot of people thought it was going to be awful, maybe they still do, but for me it was the right choice.

There was a long wait to finish the  upper cabinets and they stayed looking like open shelves for a long time. The plate rack above the sink is another of my favourite features, we don’t have a dishwasher, so I they go into the rack to dry over the sink.

Our mothers put up the wallpaper, there is a crease on one side of the chimney breast where they had to stop to answer to phone when we called with the news that Maxie had been born, apparently they had to tell each other to stop crying so they could get that sheet finished!


The mantle piece was also custom made by my dream team. The brass bar is perfect for drying wet socks. Our Rayburn is solid fuel, we burn wood and peat which we cut and dry every year. The Rayburn provides all our hot water, heats the kitchen and is where we do all our cooking. We had talked about getting a “normal” cooker, and set ourselves 6 months before we got rid of our old cooker to see how we would do. In those 6 months we used the old cooker ONCE to bake a cake after an 8 hour flight delay. And now its been 9 years since we got rid of the old cooker and have not missed it. We got rid of our microwave for the same reason.

I think that concludes our kitchen transformation. I am so proud of this room and so thankful to all the people who help us so much.


Truthfully there is no where I would rather spend time. I am currently sitting typing sitting on the couch by the fire having spent the morning baking with Agnes.

Final mention has to go to the view from the window… image

Thanks for reading,

Hazel Ann x

Corner of my home #1

Hello, and welcome back to my blog. It has been neglected for 5 years, over that time I have penned posts but never published, have taken photos but not been able to find words. Here I am, attempting to start again!

I love my home, it is small, cosy and full of the people who I love. When people visit for the first time they all usually say the same thing – “it’s like a tardis!” And that is true! From the outside it appears to be a bit like a match box, only after crossing the threshold do you realise how much is crammed under this little red roof.

With four children I feel like I spend a lot of my time tidying up one mess only to turn around and discover three more. Storage in our house is a bit of a problem. Things seem to build up in one place and look so unsightly that I can’t bear it… then I reorganise that area and am left with three smaller piles behind me. (I was blaming my children for all the mess, perhaps I am the most guilty!)

I love the sense of accomplishment when I have an area organised the way I really want it. That feeling is what washes over me when I open my larder cupboard.

My husband and his father built our kitchen. None of it is from a shop or showroom. I had flicked through lots of brochures and cut out many pictures of the look and feel I wanted. This particular cupboard was inspired by a something I saw in Fired Earth.

I am always on the hunt for these mason style jars, the blue lidded ones I bought from JMe when Jamie Oliver did those home shopping parties, they are my favourite but are discontinued.


Thank you for stopping by,


Hazel Ann x