Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

A Word with Sarah Webb

January 18, 2012

Sarah Webb is the talent and brains behind Vivenda, a fabulous service that frees up your time and feeds you and your family nutritious and delicious meals.

I asked her to share some insights into how she manages to keep on top of things, and sane, while running her business.  Here’s what she said…

Sarah, I know you have a lot “on your plate”, do you prefer a paper or electronic diary to keep track of all your appointments?  Both.  Electronic so that I get pop-up reminders, I use my iPhone; but also paper so that I can look at it if I’m making an appointment with someone while I’m on the phone.  I have to be very conscientious about keeping both updated.

I’ll bet!  What’s your favourite iPhone App? Urbanspoon. I can feel like an in-the-know local wherever I am by checking out the restaurant reviews.

Tell us about a favourite organising tool.  It would have to be Excel, I love a good spreadsheet!  I like to be quite systematic about things and keep good track of what is going on in the business and Excel lets me do this simply & effectively.  For example, looking at my favourite spreadsheet I can tell you that my most popular dishes are Chicken, Leek & Pancetta Pie and Meatballs Napoletana!

Yum!  And that is very organised.  How do you reward yourself for your achievements?  Usually it’s by buying myself a new tool or gadget for the kitchen, I got some beautiful new tart tins to celebrate my first 6 months in business.

I can see a theme there.  You are very passionate about food.  How do you spend your down time?  I hang out with my niece and nephews as much as I can. They live 3 minutes away so I manage to find an excuse to drop in on them very regularly!

Thanks for spending time with us, Sarah!

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Someone’s in the Kitchen

January 16, 2012

Someone’s in the kitchen whipping up a delicious storm… and it isn’t me.

I want to introduce you to a fabulous service, launched by a clever and talented woman.  Vivenda is the brainchild of Sarah Webb, and is the answer to many a prayer.

The hardest work you will do is select from an extensive menu and provide a kitchen for Sarah to work in.  The rest is up to her.

So if meal planning and preparation is just too much, or you want to impress without the stress, this is something for you.

Ready Set Christmas – Feeding Santa

December 24, 2011

Santa’s on his way and many a household will be leaving a little something out for him and the reindeer.

I’ve heard he rather likes a tot of brandy or whisky, but skim milk would be better for him.

I also hear tell he’s fond of shortbread and mince pies, but some fresh fruit would make the reindeer’s job easier.

And speaking of the reindeer, remember to leave them a carrot or two.  There’s also a fun recipe for reindeer food here.

And get to bed early… or not 😉

Ready Set Christmas – the Hostess Gift

December 17, 2011

Going anywhere special tonight? Are the invitations coming thick and fast? If you’ll be a guest in someone’s home, have you thought about a hostess gift?

Let’s make it easy. Here are ten suggestions –

  • a bottle of wine
  • a jar of something special, like jam, chutney, brandied cherries
  • chocolates
  • a festive dish with biscuits
  • something handmade
  • a Christmas decoration
  • a framed photo
  • flowers
  • a plant
  • something from the Gift Hoard

So, go out and have some fun, but don’t forget the host or hostess.

or not 😉

Ready Set Christmas – Say Yes Please

December 16, 2011

Are you hosting any meals or parties over the festive season?  Ever heard the phrase, “How can I help?”  And have you ever turned down the offer of help?

Are you crazy???

No seriously, I know it sometimes seems the polite option, or perhaps you’d rather have complete control.

Today I challenge you, when asked if you need help, to say “Yes please”.

And more than that, have a list of things you need doing or foods you’d like brought.

And if people don’t ask, go ahead and ask them!

or not 😉

Ready Set Christmas – Buying for Teacher

December 15, 2011

Having worked in kindergartens in a past life, I never have to buy soap again as long as I live. I received enough sweet-smelling gift packs, soaps and bubble bath to last me a lifetime. I’m not complaining, this is a good thing. I know each gift was given with love and received with gratitude.

Giving teacher an end of year thank you gift is long-standing tradition which children, parents and teachers honour and appreciate. But let’s face it, some gifts work better than others.

So in case you are still looking for the “perfect” gift for teacher (or want some ideas for next year), here are some winners

  • food – if it’s something to share, it makes life easier and if it’s something just for teacher, they are a welcome treat
  • pampering voucher – whether it’s a 5-minute neck massage or full facial, teachers will always appreciate some special pampering
  • a library dedication – how about buying a book for the school library and dedicating it to the teacher? That’s a lasting legacy
  • a handmade (by the child) bookmark

One year when I worked in a kindergarten, the parents pitched in together and bought a single gift for each teacher. It was a lovely piece of jewellery. What a treat!

And if you’re watching the budget, or especially keen to give clutter-free, here’s what one teacher told me when asked what her favourite kind of gift was. She preferred a heartfelt message in a card, telling something special about the child’s experience that year. In other words, all she wanted to hear was “Thank you”.

So take a tip about teachers end of year gifts. If you’re stuck for ideas, just say Thanks.

or not 😉

Ready Set Christmas – Baking

December 8, 2011

When I was small my mother worked very hard at Christmas.  She wanted to make it “perfect”.  “Perfect” included homemade biscuits in many varieties.

Achieving that perfection nearly drove my mother mad every Christmas, and has left me with some unhappy memories.  She would get so stressed about making biscuits, as well as doing the many other things that made Christmas “perfect” and of course her full time job, that she would often lose her temper and we’d all be miserable with perfect biscuits instead of happy with imperfect or non-existent biscuits.

Can you relate to the story?  I certainly can.  When I was a young mother, I also stressed and lost my cool over insignificant things like Christmas biscuits.

Ok, so here’s my advice based on past experience.  I see a few options.

  1. Let it go.  Forget about biscuits being perfect or having them at all.
  2. If you choose to go ahead, schedule time for baking, and allow plenty of it.  Prepare a list of ingredients and get them well ahead of time.
  3. Buy biscuits or other Christmas treats from your local bakery, market or supermarket.

or not 😉

Ready Set Christmas – Make Way!

December 6, 2011

Step aside! Make way! Incoming!

You are about to be hit with an influx.  An influx of festive foods, gifts to give and gifts received, visitors and perhaps overnight guests as well.  Are you ready?

And this influx occurs every December.  Get ahead of the wave by making space now.

  • Clean out the fridge, freezer and pantry
  • Declutter the nooks and crannies of the linen press
  • Clear out the clutter from the guest room
  • Toss the trash from the car boot for those big shopping trips

and make way for the new in your life.

or not 😉

Ready Set Christmas – Order Meats

December 5, 2011

The local butcher, fishmonger or providore is ready, willing and able to provide you with top quality meat for your festive meal.  I know it may seem easier to just go and buy a frozen turkey but here are some good reasons to order fresh meat from the butcher…

  • the quality is better
  • you can customise your order – stuffing or not, boned or not
  • no need to calculate defrosting time
  • no need to make room in the freezer
  • support local business in your community

So, make friends with your local butcher or other supplier, and order now for great quality meat on your dining table.

or not 😉

Christmas Past 1

November 23, 2011

Back in December 2009, I wrote a series called Angela’s Advent.  The series offered daily ideas for clutter-free gifts.

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?  Are you stuck for ideas?  Feel free to use any of these suggestions.  I hope they spark ideas that will keep your Christmas clutter-free.