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A Beautiful Difficult Return To Knitting: Rainbow Sweater

A Beautiful Difficult Return To Knitting: Rainbow Sweater

It would be gauche for me to say that this is the best sweater in the world that has ever existed, but look at it! It is full of all the joy that knitting a sweater should be. Its simple, colourful wide bands of colour 

Malia Mosaic Knitted Blanket: New Pattern Release

Malia Mosaic Knitted Blanket: New Pattern Release

Quicklinks: Purchase via Lovecrafts or Purchase via Ravelry In the middle of the first year of the pandemic I designed and knitted one of my favourite patterns to date: The Malia blanket. Everything had been feeling very heavy in a year that had a huge 

Excel Weekly Menu Planner: Free Download

Excel Weekly Menu Planner: Free Download

A few weeks ago we made a little menu planner in Excel so that I could better keep track of what items I had to use in my fridge, freezer and store cupboards, and to help me shop more sustainably with less waste.

I have two other aims by doing this: to keep up the momentum with which my 4 year old has decided to expand he foods that he is willing to try, and also to try and find a balance with my compulsion to hoard tinned and dry packet goods. As I have experienced food poverty a few times in my lifetime I have found comfort in having an emergency stash of food that I know I have if the worst were to happen, but I do recognise that this rather limits me and is quite problematic in the world’s actual smallest kitchen.

This simple little Excel spreadsheet allows me to populate tabs with the items I have in my freezer or store cupboards, or with meals that I would like to cook, and generate a weekly menu using simple drop-down selectors, before formatting a printable menu.

The version I styled for myself menu runs Wednesday – Tuesday, as I receive my grocery delivery on a Tuesday night. It’s styled using the Twinkl Primary font as I wanted it to be child friendly, so that my 4 year old could refer to it whenever he wished, and this font is specifically designed for learning resources for primary-aged children.

A few IG followers asked if they could look at the spreadsheet set-up, so I have uploaded it here for download. I have made a few changes so that it is easy to use even if you don’t use excel extensively, and changed things like the typeface (switched to simple Verdana, so that it will display for everyone) so that it can be styled as you wish. I’ve also adjusted the week to run from Monday-Sunday, but again, that’s easily editable. Download the Menu Planner spreadsheet.

How To Use The Menu Spreadsheet

In each of the tabs ‘Breakfast’, ‘Lunch’, ‘Dinner’ and ‘Snacks’, populate the columns with your selection of possible meals, or the items that you have in your freezer and cupboards.

You will notice the interesting blend of home meals and things we are trying to get our little boy used for as they tend to appear on school menus. You can fill it with all your own foodie things, obviously.

In ‘Setup’ tab, click into each cell of a particular meal, click the little drop-down arrow that appears and then choose the elements of your meal from the options.

If some of the combinations here look a bit odd, it’s because I was making a few changes to make this user-friendly to non-excel users, and clicked a few random food choices.

Once your menu is populated click on the ‘Printable Meal Planner’ tab, which compiles a final printable draft of the weekly menu, whilst filling in sentence syntax, etc.

You’ll want to play about with the styling of this is you wish to print it out, but I recommend leaving the line height as-is, as it fits perfectly on an A4 sheet.

And that’s all there is to it, really. You could use the individual meal tabs to fill in what you have in your freezer and cupboard to help you work through bloated food stores, or use it to come up with a menu to shop smartly from, or add to it as you expand your (or a child’s) menu and recipe repertoire so that you don’t fall back on cooking the same six dishes in rotation. I’m using it as a combination of all three aims, and it’s really working for me.

Let me know what you think, and if you have any helpful home/life organisation tips!

Header image is of a Macaroni Cheese I made last week. It was unbelievably good.

Teacher’s End Of Term Gifts: Beautiful Personalised Notebook and Pen

Teacher’s End Of Term Gifts: Beautiful Personalised Notebook and Pen

I’d always intended to get around to making gifts for the teachers of my little boy’s nursery, as we have handmade them for every gifting occasion for the past two and a half years that he has attended. This year, however, we did not get 

Making Round Up: Dinosaurs, Manatees And Bats.

Making Round Up: Dinosaurs, Manatees And Bats.

The first half of July has been full of new things I have put my hands to making. It has taken so long, but I have finally found something of ‘me’ in this experience. After sewing for simple necessity, I’ve been enjoying both hand and 

Growing Paper Plants

Growing Paper Plants

I have given up on green things. I have a love of the wide green outdoors: the kind of outdoors of woodlands and shaded streams rather than sunny spots and beaches. As we are in a flat and so have no garden, and can’t go out to the shady woodland places and walks that we might usually spend our weekends at, I have tried to bring a bit of green growth into the house. I have a very healthy (almost too healthy as it has taken over my entire kitchen with it’s gigantic form and hundreds of babies) spider plant. Likewise a pilea that grows happily in my bedroom, but everything I try to grow in my living room is doomed to fail.

My living room has the biggest windows I have ever seen, which sounds lovely (and is, to a point) but it means that in the summer months my living room is like an oven, in a sauna, on the sun. I will happily grow plant babies all through winter and spring and then two days of sun in June and everything has gone.

My next door neighbour gave us a few little seeds to plant as an activity at the beginning of lockdown. We grew the leggiest and palest lettuce leaves you ever saw, and a single beetroot, all on the windowsill. A few weeks ago a single day of sun saw off our daddy long lettuce, but, somehow, the beetroot with it’s bright magenta stems seemed a bit more hardy. As the weeks of sun grew stronger she had the odd wilting moment, but a bit of emergency water and she perked back up. Yesterday marked four months since sowing, and harvest time for our single beet. I took it into the kitchen and eased it out of the pot, knocking the earth away from the ball-like root. More earth came away, and more, until I was just left with the stems and the thin white ground roots. There was no beetroot. Not even a marble sized one. I give up.

So, I am going to fill my little plant space with something different. Cactuses! Can I keep a cactus alive? Who knows. I’m going to just assume no, and therefore have opted for paper ones.

Close up of three paper cactuses. One pale green, one dark green, one dark blue, against a pink wall.

I found the cutting template for these three cactus plants in the book Cutting Machine Crafts by Lia Griffiths. The book is £1.99 in the Kindle store at the moment, and does come with the link and a personalised password to all of the .SVG and .PDF files for the projects in the book.

Close up of three paper cactuses. One pale green, one dark green, one dark blue, against a pink wall.

I resized each of the cut files to fit a paper base disc 9.5cm in diameter, so that they would fit in the pots that I had to hand. Each of the green cactus patterns took 2 sheets of 30cm² card stock, whilst the blue cactus took a single sheet, and I used just a scrap of pale pink card stock for the flowers. You may just be able to see in some of the pictures that there is a buff coloured circle of card at the base of each cactus, and this took an A4 piece of card.

Though the instructions for these cactuses say to glue them together, I have simply slotted them together without glue, and balanced the flowers on top. As I have sized the base disc to fit snugly in the pot they also sit straight into the pots with no additional material or stabilising.

So, now my plants are made of paper, and I will just accept that I cannot pretend to garden and grow things in my flat. One day I will have a garden and be back out in the fresh air and open spaces. For now, paper greenery will have to do.