MOLLY MAID https://www.mollymaid.co.uk Thu, 14 Feb 2019 16:54:01 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.0.3 https://www.mollymaid.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/cropped-cropped-MM_Logo_full_300x300-180x180-1-32x32.png MOLLY MAID https://www.mollymaid.co.uk 32 32 New Year’s Resolutions for people who struggle with willpower https://www.mollymaid.co.uk/2018/12/18/new-years-resolutions-for-people-who-struggle-with-willpower/ Tue, 18 Dec 2018 09:57:19 +0000 https://www.mollymaid.co.uk/?p=82009 Your New Year's Resolutions don't have to be doomed to fail. This method can help you stick to your plans, even if your willpower sometimes lets you down.

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Every year we sit down full of good intentions and make resolutions that are forgotten by the second of January.

Try this no-resolution resolution technique to focus on what is important to you – and maintain your New Year’s Resolutions all year long.

Focus on the why

It’s all too easy to let “learn French” or “get fit” drift by the wayside when you haven’t decided why – or even if – those things are important to you. Often we pick resolutions that seem generally virtuous or a good idea – but if they don’t resonate with you and your priorities in life, you will never see them through.

The new year is a perfect time for reflection, so it’s a good idea to take a few moments to ponder how you would like your life to look this time next year.

Close your eyes and picture New Year’s Day 2020: what memories would you like to be looking back on?

A promotion? An amazing holiday? A year of exciting activity – or of contentedness?

What’s important to you?

Work out the areas of your life that are most important to you. It might be: family, career and personal growth, or fitness, friends and finances. You can have as few or as many categories as feels right for you (though you might find you start with a large list then realise that some can be grouped into one), and they should resonate for you. Some people might put relationship with partner in its own category with parents and friends in another, while for others “people I love” might be a single category.

Next, write a statement for each category that you want to be true by this time next year. Write it in the past tense, so it feels like a definite thing that has happened. Under ‘family’ you might write: “we are closer now”, under career: “I got that promotion.”

Then add how it would make you feel – fulfilled, satisfied, secure, loved.

How will you achieve your goals?

Finally, write three actions that you would have to complete to make the statement true.

To bring your family closer together, perhaps you need to have scheduled alone time with each child every day, committed to family activities every weekend, or taken on a project together. To get the promotion, maybe you must complete three new projects, take a training course to develop your skills and schedule a review with your boss.

Those actions are your resolutions. They must be specific and actionable. No more “get fit”. It’s now “sign up for a gym, meet with a personal trainer, commit to two pilates classes a week.”

Revisit your resolutions

It is a good idea to revisit and update the actions every few months.

Maybe by April you will be ready to commit to three or four pilates classes per week or will have decided to take on weightlifting instead.

Maybe your boss turned down your first request for promotion, so you need to reconsider what else you need to do to succeed next time.

Maybe a family activity every single weekend isn’t sustainable, but once a month plus a shared dinner each week is more workable and still brings you closer. The actions themselves can be fluid, because it is all about making the statements true by 2020!

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Christmas cleaning: how to clean your home in record time https://www.mollymaid.co.uk/2018/12/11/christmas-cleaning-how-to-clean-your-home-in-record-time/ Tue, 11 Dec 2018 09:39:05 +0000 https://www.mollymaid.co.uk/?p=82001 It is the time of year to sit back, relax, and forget about the state of the house – except it doesn’t always work like that, does it? Just when you’ve nosedived into a good book or a box of chocolates, you spot unexpected guests headed up the path, or maybe the kids’ chaos has […]

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It is the time of year to sit back, relax, and forget about the state of the house – except it doesn’t always work like that, does it? Just when you’ve nosedived into a good book or a box of chocolates, you spot unexpected guests headed up the path, or maybe the kids’ chaos has just tipped you over the edge.

Whatever the reason for an emergency Christmas cleaning session, here is a high speed, high efficiency routine so you can clean your home and be back on the sofa in minutes.

Set a timer

It’s all too easy to get stuck into cleaning, remember three or four other tasks that you’ve been meaning to get around to, and before you know it, your relaxing time has gone out the window. You should be able to surface-blitz the house in under half an hour, so get a timer ticking to remind you to prioritise and keep moving.

The declutter system

This isn’t the time for a deep clean – you just want to get clutter out of the way so you can relax again. That said, stuffing things where they don’t belong is just a recipe for driving you crazy the next time you look for any of it!

So sort: grab everything that shouldn’t be where it is and create piles according to where it should be. A pile for each kid’s room, a pile for the kitchen, for the hallway cupboard and so on. That way you haven’t wasted time running back and forth from each room.

When everything is sorted, it’s time to —

Delegate – specifically

The problem with shouting at other people to “help” is that often they don’t know where to start, so end up standing around awkwardly while you get more frustrated. Delegate with specific instructions, starting with assigning each person a pile of things to return to their homes.

Next steps

Repeat the declutter system for each room, though don’t forget to prioritise. Does the spare room or dining room need to be sparkling right now? Focus on the high traffic areas: living room, kitchen, hallway.

Work downwards

A microfibre mitt is a great way to dust at speed, and with a rubbish bag in your other hand you can clean surfaces in seconds. Let dust and debris fall to the floor, as the last thing you’ll do (which can also be delegated!) is zip around with the hoover.

Apply the same system to the kitchen – sweep breadcrumbs to the floor as you are wiping the surfaces then follow with the hoover or brush. Unless there is a serious spill situation, skip the mop for now.

All that glitters

Gleaming mirrors or metallic surfaces can make everything seem sparkly clean – even if it isn’t! – so take a moment to wipe away streaks or marks on those.

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Alternative Christmas recipe ideas https://www.mollymaid.co.uk/2018/12/05/alternative-christmas-recipe-ideas/ Wed, 05 Dec 2018 13:37:57 +0000 https://www.mollymaid.co.uk/?p=81995 Christmas is a time to celebrate food - and these alternative Christmas recipe ideas are sure to tantalise your tastebuds.

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‘Tis the season to eat, be merry, and eat some more! The classic roast dinner has been a December 25th staple since Victorian times, and while it’s hard to beat, sometimes it can be fun to mix things up a little bit.

Here are some alternative Christmas recipes to tantalise your tastebuds this Christmas!

Nut Roast

There is little more Christmassy than chestnuts roasting on an open fire, so why not try this nut roast from Jamie Oliver? It is packed with flavour and goodness – and you don’t even need an open fire!

Ingredients

  • 50 g shelled pistachios
  • 50 g linseed
  • 50 g sunflower seeds
  • 100 g chestnut purée
  • 50 g gluten-free vegetarian suet
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • gluten-free flour , for dusting
  • BLUE CHEESE TOPPING
  • 400 g sweet potato
  • rapeseed oil
  • 20 g unsalted butter
  • 250 g chestnut mushrooms
  • 100 g crème fraîche
  • 1 good pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 75 g Dorset Blue Vinny , or vegetarian blue cheese
  • 1 teaspoon linseed
  • 1 teaspoon shelled pistachios
  • 1 teaspoon sunflower seeds

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350ºF/gas 4.
  2. For the nut roast crust, roughly chop the pistachios, then spread out on a baking tray with the seeds, then toast in the oven for 5 to 6 minutes.
  3. When the time’s up, transfer to a food processor, along with the chestnut purée, suet and maple syrup, and blitz until the mixture comes together into a ball. It will be very sticky to begin with, so stop and scrape the sides as you go.
  4. Place a large sheet of baking parchment on a work surface and sit the dough on it. Then, with lots of gluten-free flour on your hands and rolling pin, roll out the dough as thinly as possible (less than 5mm).
  5. If you’re making individual tartlets, oil and flour four 10cm loose-bottomed tart tins, then cut out the pastry to size. Or, roll out the dough and cut to the size of a large baking tin, then transfer to the tin using a fish slice.
  6. Prick the dough all over with a fork, cover with baking parchment, fill with baking beans or uncooked rice and bake blind for 12 to 15 minutes. Leave to cool completely in the baking tray, as it will be quite delicate straight from the oven. Keep the oven on.
  7. For the topping, chop the sweet potato into cubes, then place on a baking tray. Toss with a little oil, then bake for 25 minutes, or until soft.
  8. Melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat, slice and add the mushrooms along with 1 teaspoon of cracked black pepper, and sauté for 6 to 8 minutes, until the mushrooms brown.
  9. Blitz the roasted sweet potato in a food processor with the crème fraîche, nutmeg and ½ a tablespoon of cracked black pepper (or to taste) to a smooth, creamy consistency.
  10. To assemble the tart, crumble the blue cheese over the base, arrange the sautéed mushrooms on top, then finish with the sweet potato mix.
  11. Sprinkle with linseed, roughly chop and scatter over the pistachios followed by the sunflower seeds, then add a drizzle of rapeseed oil, and pop back in the oven for 6 to 7 minutes until it just starts to brown. Serve hot with gravy and roast vegetables.

 

Gravadlax

The Swedish Christmas dinner is very different from ours, involving boiled potatoes and various pickled fish! To add a little Scandinavian twist to your Christmas dinner, this gravadlax makes an excellent starter.

 

INGREDIENTS

3 tsp. coriander seeds

2 tsp. white peppercorns

2 tsp. black peppercorns

3 tbsp. sea salt

2 tbsp. sugar

800 g side of salmon, with skin, trimmed

Large bunch of dill, roughly chopped

1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 tbsp. caster sugar

1 tsp. sea salt

2 tbsp. white wine vinegar

125 ml light-flavoured oil, such as sunflower

2 tbsp. dill, chopped

 

DIRECTIONS

Dry-toast the coriander and peppercorns in a frying pan over a medium heat, until fragrant. Transfer to a mortar and pestle, and grind to a powder. Stir in the salt and sugar.

Put the salmon, skin-side up, in a wide, shallow dish. Scatter with a third of the spice mix. Press a third of the dill on to the skin. Turn the fish over and scatter with the rest of spice mix and the remaining dill. Cover fish tightly with clingfilm and weigh down with a baking tray and some heavy tins. Put in the fridge for two to three days, turning every 12 hours.

Unwrap the dish and brush the dill off the fish. Place salmon, skin-down, on a chopping board and carefully carve very thin, diagonal slivers of pink flesh.

For the dressing, whisk the mustard, sugar, salt and vinegar until the sugar has dissolved. Whisk in oil, pouring it in a thin stream. Stir in the dill.

Drizzle the dressing over the salmon and serve with rye bread.

Ajiaco Santafereño

This traditional Colombian soup is hearty and richly flavoured, and is a staple for most Colombian holiday meals, not least Christmas dinner!

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken breast
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 large white potato, cubed
  • 1 large yellow potato, cubed
  • 22 baby potatoes, halved
  • 2 corn on the cobs
  • 1/2 CUP Coriander chopped
  • 1 large onion
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste

 

Directions

  1. Cook the chicken breast and onion in 4 cups of water in a large pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat, and simmer for approximately for 20 to 25 minutes.
  2. Once cooked, remove the chicken breast from the water. Shred the chicken and set aside.
  3. Add the corn cobs and potatoes to the water, and cook until thickened, for approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Chop the corn ears.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add the chicken to the pot, and heat through for approximately 5 to 10 minutes
  6. Serve with avocado cut into strips and sour cream.

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Cosy winter recipes to warm your soul https://www.mollymaid.co.uk/2018/11/29/cosy-winter-recipes-to-warm-your-soul/ Thu, 29 Nov 2018 08:32:49 +0000 https://www.mollymaid.co.uk/?p=81931 Three quick and easy winter recipes to keep you and your family warm and well this winter.

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As the temperature drops and evenings draw in, there is nothing like sitting down to a hearty winter lunch or dinner to heat you from the inside. Soups, stews, root vegetables, tart berries and warming spices are the perfect way to stave off winter blues – not to mention winter bugs! Here are three simple winter recipes that are certain to keep your whole family cosy and healthy this winter.

Scottish Lentil Soup

This classic recipe is both warming and filling, the sort of classic soup your granny would have had burbling on the stove at all times. Serve with a doorstop of crusty bread.

340g red split lentils

1 tbs oil

4 slices back bacon, finely diced, or a ham bone (optional) I use Ramsay’s of Carluke

2 medium onions, finely diced

3 carrots, grated

3 sticks celery, finely chopped

3 sprigs parsley finely chopped

1 clove of garlic finely chopped

1 bay leaf

1.5 litres vegetable stock boiling

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Soften the onions, carrot, garlic, bayleaf and celery in a heavy based pot over a medium heat
  2. Then add the lentils and bacon/ham if you are using them, pour over the hot stock
  3. Simmer gently for 30 mins skimming off the top as you go
  4. If you are using a bone remove this and the bay leaf now
  5. Blend in a liquidiser or push through a sieve for a slightly more rustic texture.

Chicken, sweet potato and coconut milk curry

A lightly spiced curry from BBC Good Food that will keep away the chill, and the peas and sweet potatoes are both sources of vitamin C which will help to protect against winter sniffles.

  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 tsp mild curry paste
  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 medium-sized sweet potatoes
  • , peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 4 tbsp red split lentils
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 400ml can coconut milk
  • 175g frozen peas
  1. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan or wok, stir in the curry paste and fry for 1 minute. Add the chicken, sweet potatoes and lentils and stir to coat in the paste, then pour in the stock and coconut milk. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Tip in the peas, bring back to the boil and simmer for a further 4-5 minutes. Season to taste before serving.

Triple berry oat crumble

Using frozen berries, this warming dessert can be whipped up in minutes – perfect for a gloomy afternoon treat!

Berry Filling

  • 4 cups frozen mixed berries*, NOT thawed (about 24 ounces frozen fruit)
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • pinch of salt

Oat Crumble Topping

  • 1 cup porridge oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
  1. Preheat oven to 350/180 degrees.
  2. In a medium size bowl, make the berry filling by combining all ingredients and tossing to combine. Set aside.
  3. In a separate medium size bowl, make the oat crumble by combining all ingredients, then use your fingers to pinch the butter and incorporate with the dry ingredients. Keep pinching and tossing together with your hands until evenly combined. You will be left with many pea sized pieces of butter mixed in with the oat mixture. Set aside.
  4. Pour the berry filing into a baking dish.. Top with the oat crumble topping, and spread to an even layer.
  5. Bake uncovered until the berry filling is bubbling, and the oat crumble is golden brown, about 1 hour. Serve with ice cream for a truly decadent treat!

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Five easy ways to winter proof your home https://www.mollymaid.co.uk/2018/11/20/five-easy-ways-to-winter-proof-your-home/ Tue, 20 Nov 2018 11:20:03 +0000 https://www.mollymaid.co.uk/?p=81929 With these simple tricks you can winter proof your home - and help reduce your energy bills.

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There’s no denying that winter is officially upon us, and reports suggest that we are in for a harsh one this year. Just before you huddle under a duvet with a hot chocolate and a good book for the foreseeable future, it would be worthwhile taking a little time to winter proof your home. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to protect your home – and your energy bills – from the bitter chill.

1.Insulate

Windows tend to take the blame for letting all your lovely heat escape during winter, but in fact they only account for around 10% of heat loss. The rest goes out the walls – and the roof, which accounts for up to a quarter of heat loss. Making sure that your loft is properly insulated will not only have a startling effect on your energy bills, it will add value to your property by making it more energy-efficient.

2. Tackle the windows

That said, it would be better to avoid the loss of the 10% out windows if possible! It may not look smart, but for an extreme cold snap it could be worth covering your windows with bubble wrap. Simply cut the bubble wrap to fit the glass pane, spray a thin layer of water over the window and press the bubble wrap down snuggly. It only takes a few seconds to rip down if guests come by.

3. Give your heating system some TLC

When the weather is really bitter, it is a good idea to run your boiler for at least an hour a day (even if you’re away) to keep things ticking over. Boilers work best at around one bar, so if yours is running high or low, it would be worth your while to pressurise it now so it doesn’t run into problems on a frosty morning.

Individual heaters that run lukewarm may require bleeding. If you have radiators on external walls, you can line the wall behind them with aluminium foil to ensure that all heat is reflected outwards.

4. Clear the gutters

Clogged gutters can cause all sorts of problems including damp and frozen pipes, so take an afternoon to make sure yours are clear of leaves and other debris. It’s not a fun job, but better to do now before the cold really sets in.

5. Draught excluders

Sometimes the classics are the best! Make sure the gap below your doors are plugged up snugly. Rolled up towels or old blankets will do the trick, or you could make your own by stuffing the leg of an old pair of tights – or while away those winter evenings knitting or crocheting your own.

 

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Winter gardening tips and tricks https://www.mollymaid.co.uk/2018/11/12/winter-gardening-tips-and-tricks/ Mon, 12 Nov 2018 10:14:46 +0000 https://www.mollymaid.co.uk/?p=81927 These winter gardening tips and tricks can help you prepare your garden for the cold snap and make sure you're ready when the warmth returns.

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When Jack Frost has taken over your garden, it can be very tempting to pack away your green thumb until the sun makes an appearance again.

You will, however, appreciate a little maintenance and preparation come springtime – plus there is a whole world of indoor and winter gardening to be discovered. These winter gardening tips and tricks can help you prepare your garden for the cold snap and make sure you’re ready when the warmth returns.

Planning

Winter is ideal for snuggling up with some gardening books and a sketch pad to plan out your dream garden. Think about the projects you might like to take on, and take the time to research what they involve – books and gardening catalogues can be a great source of inspiration. A bit of planning will help your garden to thrive all summer long, plus it gives you opportunity to prepare your to-do lists and supplies so that you are ready and waiting for planting season!

Tuck your garden up for winter

Laying a couple of inches of compost followed by a layer of mulch over your flower beds and crops will help to protect them from the worst of the frost, plus provide essential nutrients that will keep them healthy throughout the dormant months.

Covering crops with clear plastic sheeting will help to prevent erosion and protect the quality of the soil.

It’s a good time to fertilise the lawn too, so that it has a chance to recover from any damage caused by ball games and paddling pools during the summer months!

Discover winter plants

There are many plants and crops that enjoy the cooler temperatures, particularly greens (think spinach, parsley kale, mustard and Swiss chard). Shrubs such as winter hazel, witch hazel and honeysuckle will cheer up the bleak view on a cold winter’s morning, and violas and pansies will even add a dash of colour to the frost. Give them a better chance by planting in pots in the most sheltered corners of your garden!

Garden indoors

Houseplants are protected from the cold temperatures of course, but keep them away from direct heat as they won’t like that either! Central heating dries out the air in your home, so make sure to keep your house plants watered regularly, and consider grouping a few together as they will help to protect one another.

Late winter is a great time to get started with seedlings that you’ll move outdoors in spring.

Broccoli, tomatoes, leeks and onions will all thrive on a windowsill until they are ready for the great outdoors!

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10 laundry hacks you need in your life https://www.mollymaid.co.uk/2018/11/06/10-laundry-hacks-you-need-in-your-life/ Tue, 06 Nov 2018 08:45:43 +0000 https://www.mollymaid.co.uk/?p=81920 Here are some simple laundry hacks to freshen your clothes in record time.

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It’s hard to deny the satisfaction that a clean pile of freshly washed and ironed clothes brings, but could you be wasting time and money on this most basic of household chores? Here are some simple laundry hacks that can help you clean your clothes perfectly for less.

Dry wrinkle free

Hang shirts, dresses and tops on hangers straight from the washing machine, and give them a smooth down with your hands. You might still want to run an iron quickly over them once dry (depending on the fabric and just how smart that item needs to be!) but drying as many items as possible in the shape you want them will greatly cut down on your ironing.

Never lose a sock again

It’s a well known fact that socks regularly disappear from washing machines, but save yourself from an entire drawer of partnerless socks by sticking them in a mesh bag before putting in the washing machine.

Softener that’s cheap as chips

Or suitable to put on chips at least – vinegar is a little known fabric softener!

Simply pop ¼ – ½ cup of vinegar into your machine along with your normal detergent to soften your clothes and towers.! The vinegar smell doesn’t linger, so you don’t have to worry about smelling like a chip shop either.

Wash the washer

It’s all too easy to forget that the washing machine itself could use some TLC now and then, but a clean washing machine will be more efficient and last longer. [Link to previous how to clean washing machine posts]

 

Magic those stains away

No longer need a stain be a one way ticket to the bin for your favourite clothes! There is no need for pricey stain removers either – it’s amazing the power that humble household items have over the most stubborn stains:

  • Blood – soak both sides of the fabric in cold water then wash in lukewarm soapy water before giving it a final rinse.
  • Lipstick – loosen the stain with glycerine or a prewash stain remover, dab, then rinse before washing.
  • Red wine – sprinkle the stain liberally with salt and let it soak in. Once dry, brush off the excess then wash with laundry bleach if needed.
  • Fruit juices – dab the stain either with citric acid (found in lemons or laundry treatments) or vinegar (white is best on fabric) then wash in warm, soapy water and rinse thoroughly.
  • Sweat stains – apply a paste of baking soda and lemon juice. Allow to dry in the sun if possible, then wash as normal.
  • Ink – spray generously with hairspray, let it sit for around 10 minutes, then wash as normal.

Freeze your jeans

Repeated washing can fade denim and cause beloved skinny jeans to lose their shape forever, but there comes a point when the most trusty jeans need to be washed! Luckily there is an answer: in the freezer. The low temperature kills off the majority of bacteria that can cause smells – it’s not 100%, so you’ll want to pop them in the washing machine every once in a while. Place in a ziplock bag and stick in the freezer overnight.

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Stock your kitchen cupboards for winter https://www.mollymaid.co.uk/2018/10/26/stock-kitchen-cupboards-for-winter/ Fri, 26 Oct 2018 07:22:55 +0000 https://www.mollymaid.co.uk/?p=81809 As the nights grow darker and our appetites favour hearty stews and steaming soups, now is the perfect time to stock your kitchen cupboards.

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With the season of cosy soups and hearty stews right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to stock your kitchen cupboard and make sure you’re prepared to get creative this winter. The days of stocking up until spring may be gone, but when you run low on healthy staples on those dark and chilly nights it’s all too tempting to reach for the takeaway menu — so a bit of pioneer spirit doesn’t hurt!

The main thing to keep in mind of course, is what you like to eat. If the thought of anchovies makes you green, there’s no point leaving them to rot at the back of your kitchen cupboard (though bear in mind they can be used as a seasoning in some recipes.)

The same goes for spices – some people love a hot and spicy curry on a cold winter night, but if your tastes run milder then skip the chilli and cayenne pepper.

  • Tomatoes are one vegetable (or technically fruit!) that may be healthier when tinned. The preserving process releases a substance called lycopene—which may help prevent prostate and breast cancer. Tinned tomatoes are excellent to have on hand to form the base of a casserole, or whizz up for pizza or pasta. Whole plum tomatoes tend to have the richest flavour.
  • Pulses – a great source of protein, and fantastic in casseroles, chillis or to bulk out a soup, have a variety of chickpeas, cannellini beans, kidney beans and lentils on hand.
  • Tuna, salmon or sardines – great to whip into fishcakes, add some protein to a pasta dish or simply as a sandwich filler.
  • Dried pasta, noodles and a couple of varieties of rice and grains. There is something particularly lovely about fresh pasta, but it’s always worthwhile having some tried on hand to whip up a simple and nourishing meal. Wholegrain rice is full of slow-release energy – use it for stir fries and to turn a soup into a full meal. Bulgur, quinoa and barley can also bulk up soups or to add a twist to a stir fry dish.
  • Nuts and seeds keep well and are great in porridge, salads or as a snack on their own. Nut butters are also great for snacking – on toast, crackers or apples!
  • Honey, olive oil, vinegars, soy sauce – take your marinades, dressings, sauces and stews to the next level with the right splashes of flavour.
  • Porridge oats, for the classic winter warming breakfast, but also for baking flapjacks, scones and biscuits, and several fish and meat recipes. Oats are one of the most nutrient-dense foods, and are rich in antioxidants.
  • Spices – your favourite spices are a matter of taste, but some staples to have on hand include: oregano, smoked paprika, chilli, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, curry powder, sea salt, black peppercorns, nutmeg and turmeric.

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Halloween party ideas https://www.mollymaid.co.uk/2018/10/22/halloween-party-ideas/ Mon, 22 Oct 2018 08:00:51 +0000 https://www.mollymaid.co.uk/?p=81807 Have a fang-tastic Samhain celebration with these simple Halloween party ideas.

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Over the past few years Halloween seems to have evolved from wearing a half-hearted costume and ducking for apples to an all-singing all-dancing extravaganza. Though it might seem a bit Americanised these days, Halloween originates in the Celtic festival of Samhain and has been celebrated in the British Isles for over two thousand years.

If you want to join in the fun without traipsing round to the neighbours’ houses demanding sweets, here are some fun Halloween party ideas ideas suitable for all ages.

1. Silhouetted scares

Give your neighbours a treat with some cardboard cut out monsters! Using black poster board, sketch some spooky silhouettes – ghosts, bats or even skulls if you’re feeling artistic! – cut out the shapes and stick them to your windows (blue tack works well and is less likely than sellotape to leave a mark). When the lights are on indoors the scary shapes will be highlighted to terrifying effect.

2. Cheesecloth ghosts

Take an old wire coat hanger and drape with cheese cloth (available from most kitchen or hardware shops) to create spooky floating ghosts.

You could create eyes or gaping mouths from black construction paper, and shred the cheese cloth at the bottom to give it a ragged effect. Hang them outside your front door or in any dark corner to give Halloween guests a fright. Shredded cheese cloth draped over a doorway or along walls can also give a cobweb effect to welcome guests.

3. Scary soundtrack

Anyone who has watched a scary movie knows how crucial the soundtrack is to build tension. You can buy a spooky soundtrack, but why not try making your own?

Track down creaky doors or floorboards, record howling wind or faraway shrieks.

If you want to take it to the next level, watermelons are a great favourite of movie soundtrack artists. You can squelch the flesh, crunch or rip the peel, even drop the whole thing from a ladder – there is no end to the horrible noises a watermelon can create. Record the effects with your phone and use a sound editing app (some computers and tablets have them installed as standard, others are available as free apps) to edit them all together.

This is the kind of project kids love to get involved with.

A simpler option could be creating a playlist of all your favourite scary songs!

4. Go old style

Sometimes the classics are the best.

Bobbing for apples requires little set up, and though it can involve splashing water, it could also be a good way to get kids to eat an apple amongst all the Halloween sweets! Fill a clean bucket or basin with water and float several apples in it, then players take turns trying to catch an apple with their teeth while their hands must stay behind their back.

Carving pumpkins (or turnips, if you really want to go old-style!) is another fun activity – either in preparation for the party or as a party game for older children or adults. You could also get competitive and offer a prize for the scariest design…

5. Grave cake

A simple chocolate sponge with chocolate shavings to evoke dirt can be turned truly horrible with a couple of strategically placed dolls limbs escaping graves!

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How to clean your bathroom before guests arrive https://www.mollymaid.co.uk/2018/10/10/how-to-clean-your-bathroom-before-guests-arrive/ Wed, 10 Oct 2018 14:59:49 +0000 https://www.mollymaid.co.uk/?p=81803 Clean your bathroom and prepare for friends, family or Airbnb guests with this short guide.

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Whether you are hosting friends and family or delving into the world of AirBnB, you’ll want to have your bathroom both prepared and gleaming. Here are a few tips to to help you clean your bathroom so it is guest-ready.

1. Deep clean

Thoroughly clean the bathroom, including sink, bath, shower, floor and mirrors.

Wipe down wall tiles and don’t forget to tackle limescale build up on the shower head and taps. Make sure the drains aren’t clogged and that there is no grime around their edges, and give the grouting a good scrub, especially if there is any sign of mould.

Dryer sheets are great for polishing any chrome fixtures to give them that extra special gleam, plus make sure you dust lights and lamp shades. Don’t forget to empty the rubbish before anyone arrives!

2. De-personalise

Nobody wants to come across their host’s itch creams or well-used toothbrushes, so make sure that personal items are tucked away from view. Remove children’s bath toys (unless your guests are of an age to appreciate them!), step stools and potties, ancient magazines and any other unnecessary clutter. This also creates space for your guests to set out any toiletries or cosmetics they may have brought.

3. Stock up

Make sure that there are clean towels ready for guests’ use, and it’s worth having a couple of extra set out just in case – it’s never fun going dripping through a host’s home to ask for another towel! Also don’t forget to ensure you are well stocked with spare toilet rolls placed somewhere easy to spot.

It’s a nice touch to fill a basket with toiletries they might have forgotten or couldn’t bring on a plane, such as toothpaste, toothbrush, floss, tweezers, cotton buds. Think about items you’re grateful to find in a hotel bathroom. Set out new shampoo/condition and shower gel or soap in the shower or bath, possibly even labelled so they know it is for their use. A spare hair dryer may be appreciated too, and if you have room, stick a hamper in the corner so they’re not left wondering what to do with used towels.

4. Extra touches

If you really want to go to town and give your bathroom that luxurious holiday touch, you could add a small vase of flowers or pot pourri on a shelf or windowsill, or perhaps a candle or a scent diffuser.

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