Small things – big difference

10/01/2015 · 1 comment

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I could have called this post: ‘my favourite things I bought this year’. Really this post came to me in the New Year when I was thinking about improvements I should try to make to our family routine. It occurred to me that there were a number of household tweaks that had made a big difference in 2014. Things I wished I had discovered before.

1. The Slow Cooker

I did blog about the momentous purchase of the slow cooker back in May but it has been so revolutionary in our eating habits that it is worth mentioning again. As a family we are all out of the house from very early in the morning and our usual return is never really before 5.30pm. This pushes homework, supper preparation and the bedtime routine quite late. Having the smell of a home-cooked meal waiting for us as we enter the door is such a delight. I can’t say that I feel very inspired to create a culinary masterpiece after a hard days work – that is not where I find relaxation. But I was getting fed up and frustrated by the quick fixes we were using as a family to eat at the end of the day. It did not make me happy and fast food in its various forms is comparatively expensive.  Since the introduction of the slow-cooker we do have a healthier diet. I feel less guilty about the diet we eat, and specifically the food Little B consumes.

We don’t really make it very complicated and usually accompany the slow cooked stews with rice or pasta. This year I want to extend our repertoire a bit, so all suggestions are welcome.


2. Frozen Onions – and not feeling guilty about them

Success with the slow cooker is reliant on having the right things in the cupboard and the freezer. We have more tins of tomatoes, chickpeas and packets of pulses in stock. One of the things that put me off slow-cooking was the idea of preparing raw meat and handling onions at 7am. But a couple of friends put my mind a rest. My friend Debs told me how she put everything in her crock-pot  the night before and then put the whole pot in the fridge over night. Another friend suggested that I bought packets of frozen veg to help with the process. There was something within me that avoided this extravagance, but in fact the faff of chopping onions in the early hours was making me avoid the whole process all together resulting in us eating a far less tasty, far more expensive and unhealthy alternative.

So now our freezer is stocked with all manner of frozen veg. The preference is to use fresh where we can but having a few things is stock means that the slow cooker is used more often.


3. Weighted Tape Dispenser

What a boon this little gadget was at Christmas. I whipped through the wrapping at double speed. It occurred to me just before the Christmas period that I had one of these at my desk at work, but fiddled about with tape at home, sticking cut pieces to the kitchen work top. This dispenser was a mere £2.50 – a bargain and a lot less faff.


4 Stamptastic Set

It was a tweet by the wonderful Joanna Gosling that alerted me to this company: Stamptastic. (Read Joanna’s books for loads of lovely hints and tricks). This is the second year I have used their wonderful stamps for all manner of things. We have one each! The most valuable task is school uniform naming. Obviously if you follow this blog you know I can hand sew. I sewed my own name tapes into my own school uniform from a very early age. But now it brings me no joy to sew endless tapes into uniform, fully aware that I will be unpicking them and resewing them into a larger item of clothing in six months time.

In this aspect, I am a ‘Slummy Mummy’, don’t put it past me to apply the Sharpie pen to the school uniform, and why not? My handwriting is not very regular or tidy, so these stamps are ideal. It also brings out my inner librarian. The stamps are not cheap but they are small, easy to apply and are bought with a permanent ink pad. This week I even used the stamps to name plastic water bottles and I know the ink will survive the dishwasher.

So there you go, my little round up of relatively cheap purchases which have made a difference to the Varnam household. If you have your own top-tips please do pass them on – or maybe comment on the Facebook page.



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