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Showing posts from 2012

Jam Jar Tea-light holders

I love candles and the fact that the boys are getting older and more responsible means that we use them more often, especially during the winter months, I had seen these lanterns at both Planet Penny and Tales from a Happy Home and have been wanting to make some for our house too, but always find other uses for the jars. However, I finally managed to save two jars to make my own tonight. You will need: Jars (one was a pickle jar and the other a jam jar) Lace, this was from my mum's stash, so it is nice to use it Sheet music (I found a free printable online and have it and others saved on my Pinterest account) Double sided tape Ribbon Method: As it is nearly Christmas I decided to use a festive theme and printed out silent night sheet music and cut it to size.   I then added a strip of double sided tape to each end and attached it to the jar. I then tied a ribbon round the top of the jar. I used double sided tape at the ends of the lace too. I have l

New year, new job?

You might be shouting at me that we  haven't  even got Christmas over  and  done with, but you know what, now is the perfect time to start thinking about applying for a new job. Come January everyone will be thinking the same thing and by doing it now you will get a head start on them and a lot of people work between Christmas and New Year.  So why not....  (I used to be in  recruitment    dontcha  know). As a mother who wants to work, I know just how card it is to combine the two, which is why is a great resource.   It is a job and community website set up  specifically  for part time workers.    Yes it is packed with  vacancies   but it is also full of advice and support for mums looking to work part time. I am aware of just how much your self confidence can take a dive after you have children.  It is hard to take a step back in to the working world.  However, as mums we have so much to offer any employer.  I would go as far as to say my negot

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning - Know the signs

You might not know but 17 years ago me and MadDad nearly died of Carbon Monoxide poisoning   We were spending our first winder in our new home and both came down with really what were thought were really horrible colds.  We were both dizzy, had headaches, It was so bad that I begged the local GP to come out and see us. She was so concerned with my cough (it turns out I had pneumonia and it was unconnected) that she sent us straight to the hospital.  Whilst we were in the hospital the headache got better and MadDad mentioned this to my Dad on the phone.  Now my Pop's was an engineer and knew his stuff and told him to turn the boiler off and call an engineer, We were very, very lucky indeed.  So Please take a look at the attached infographic and if you do not have one consider getting a carbon Monoxide alarm, as your smoke alarm does not protect you from this deadly gas.

Join me on Wednesday for a #StorkBaking chat!

Do you love Christmas Baking?  I do.  I have already made  mince pies  and  peppermint bark  and a  gingerbread house  along with spiced cookies instead of cards for the boys to take to school   Maybe you are not yet in the Christmas Spirit and lacking in inspiration. Well have no feart, as it doesn't matter which you are.  Please come and join me over on twitter at 1pm tomorrow (Wednesday 19th Dec) as I will be co-hosting a twitter chat with @amylane in conjunction with along with Tots100 and Stork. We are really looking forward to hearing all your favorite baking recipes, handy hints and top tips for baking with children. I am excited to be chatting alongside the team from Stork, who have more than 90 years of baking expertise and fill me with lots of memories of Christmas pasts. And as if sharing your knowledge and learning new recipes wasn't enough to tempt you to join in, there’s even going to be prizes  You could win vouchers for  Lakeland ! All

Teaching children the importance of brushing their teeth

I understand how herd it can be to encourage children to brush their teeth.  We have recently found some signs of decay on Mini's teeth and been moved to quarterly visits to the dentists. I am hoping by making some changes we can get a hold on this and stop it getting any worse.  So firstly we have bought the boys an electric toothbrush  each. Other steps we have taken include: Getting an egg timer so they can time themselves brushing their teeth. Using a mirror so they can see themselves brushing their teeth, Once a week we use disclosing tablets, which help the boys see the plaque on their teeth and makes sure that they remove it all. We have told the boys that the tooth fairy will pay less for decayed teeth! Other things that I feel are important include: Let your children watch you brush your teeth and even help. Discuss how decay happens and way. Make it part of the daily routine Make sure you find a toothpaste that they do not mind the taste of Use

Cheap Family Days Out

Whether large or small, it is not uncommon for many families to struggle with the cost and time involved of days out or weekend holidays. Everyone likes days out now and then, but there are always more pressing concerns, such as where to go, what to do and the simple matter of money and making sure everything is affordable. With this in mind, here is a quick guide for affordable and fun days out for the family. Hopefully the information here should be useful, such as where to go, what to do and the benefits of cheap rail tickets. Places To See The UK has lots of places to see, all offering something different in the way of charm, character and general appeal. One of the easiest ways to travel is along the east coast, with plenty of routes and options between London and Edinburgh, two capital cities that have plenty to offer everyone, with something new always going on. In between these, however, you have the like of Leeds, York and Newcastle. Each has modern

Applesauce Cinnamon ornements and pine cone garland

I came across a version of Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments on Lulastics blog and was keen to try it out for myself.  Mini loves the smell of cinnamon and I managed to find some inexpensive pots of it in Aldi, which made them really reasonable. Materials: Cinnamon (I used three jars at 50p each and got lots of ornaments)  Apple sauce (I got a value one from Tesco that you would use with pork at 35p) Straws Rolling pin Cookie cutters String Pine cones Modge podge or PVA Gold spray (from the pound shop) Florist wire Method: Firstly heat the applesauce in a sauce pan and then add the cinnamon until it is a firm dough. kneed the dough thoroughly Using the spice instead of flou (to prevent sticking) roll out.  I found this easier on a silicone baking sheet using the play dough rolling pin I used cookie cutters we already had to make the shapes and a straw to make a hole for the string to go through Place on a wire rack and cook at 100 degrees for 2 two three hours.

The motherhood rap

There is a new viral video doing the rounds it is the Motherhood Rap.............................. Some days In feel like i have lived this video all in one day.  I particularly like the part which takes about: School run taker Fairy Cake baker deal maker Orgasm faker nit raker rattle shaker cheese grater night time waker placater peacemaker It certainly feels as thought I am most of them each and every day, but................................ It also got me wondering in this age of social media where do we draw the line about taking about our children and the life that we lead.  I know that my boys are getting bigger and there are times when they ask that I do not blog something, but they are both also very keen to show off certain things on the blog and actively ask me to blog about things. In fact they are thinking of starting a blog of their own to hold their LEGO reviews! So the video is funny, but for me Motherhood is a whole lot more and I can safely say t

Making bird feeders

A great frugal activity for the winter is to make some bird feeders.  These can be hung from a fence or your  kids climbing frame  if you have one.  We love feeding the birds as we can then sit and watch them and learn more about them. Materials (for Preschoolers) Pine cones Peanut butter Twine or string Birdseed (Ours was from the pound shop) Put your peanut butter in a  bowl  and stir  vigorously  with a wooden spoon to soften it Tie the twine or string to the top of your pine cone and make a loup to hanf the cones Add some bird seed in to the peanut butter Take the peanut butter and seed mix and squish in to the pine cones Refrigerate  overnight then hang out for the birds, Materials: (For 5 plus) birdseed (I got mine from the pound shop) block or lard twine or string cookie cutter wax paper Pop your block of lard in a large heatproof bowl and place over a pan filled with simmering water.  The aim is to soften not melt the lard. Take the pan

My Mother in Law was scammed

I received a phone call from my MIL tonight.  She was really peeved as she had been scammed by a company selling anti-wrinkle cream. Now my MIL is a pretty savvy lady.  The only reason this leaflet did not go in the bin was the fact it came in a hand address envelope with a second class stamp on and then had a hand written message on the top of the flyer saying that it really works and you only needed to pay the postage. It was the sort of thing one of her friends sends her from time to time in the post, so she decided to ring up and give it a try. She made the call to an 0800 number and was chatting to an American lady who told her that the postage was 20 for two sample pots.  She took my MIL's card details and said the cream would be on the way, but then tried to sell her some of the cream at £130 for two pots.  yes £130! My MIL said that she didn't want the cream and put the phone down, but this call had been weighting heavily on her mind, so she rang the bank.  Init

Low cost weekend breaks for the family

It is this time of the year that mine and MadDad's mind turns to booking weekend holidays for next year.  We both like that we have something to look forward to after the excitement of advent and christmas and this gets us though the dark days and nights of January and February. Now is a great time of year to book to ensure that you get great deals too. Weekend breaks do not always have to mean hotels, take a look at alternative accommodation including self catering apartment, youth hostels and camping. Visit for free The UK is full of exciting, educational and family-friendly attractions that you can visit for free. If you enjoy museums, London's Natural History Museum, Science Museum and V&A are all free and within walking distance of each other. In Yorkshire, Bradford's National Media Museum is packed with interactive exhibits as is The National Railway Museum in York.   If you prefer to have your fun outside, it won't cost you a penny

Reducing the winter bills this Christmas

Christmas can be a very expensive time of year.  With temperatures expected to reach a record low and energy costs a record high this year is going to be hard for a lot of people. However don’t fear as here are some great practical tips to reducing your winter bills and helping you to avoid excess dept this year. Doors This might seem simple but one of the greatest heat wastes is through slight breezes getting in under doors. This is especially common in older houses. Don’t worry this doesn’t mean that you don’t have to fork out for a new door a simple cheap draft excluder will help keep the precious heat trapped in and keep you and the kiddies nice and snug. Windows Another simple tip is to not have any exposed glass in your windows. What I mean by this is to make sure that windows are properly covered by quality wooden blinds or thick curtains as this really dose help to keep the heat in. Double-glazing can also be a great investment as it can quickly help pay for

How to make a gingerbread house

One of the things that is becoming a tradition is making and decorating our gingerbread house. We use my child friendly gingerbread recipe  and a silicone mold that I kind of share with Cass from Frugal Family, but you can buy your own from Lakeland. Using a silicone mold means that the children can really get involved  so do not stress too much.  Let them push the gingerbread in to the mold but make sure you have used cake release before letting them lose. I cook my ginger bread for 10 to 15 minutes and then allow it to cool for 10 minutes before removing it for the mold.  Then I leave it to cool overnight or longer. For the icing we use our fail safe  royal icing recipe .  Now it is important to build your house when the children will give it a few hours to set.  So I do it once they have gone to bed and present it to them all ready to decorate the following day.As you can see from our house we had an accident when taking it out of the mold  however, with the royal icing i

Jelly Baby Jesus Cakes

Another one of our advent traditions in The Mad House is to make Jelly Baby Jesus Cakes.  Now look away now if this is going to offend you! Ingredients Shredded wheat Golden Syrup Milk Chocolate Jelly Babys Royal Icing Cake Cases Break up the chocolate in a bowl  and melt . I do this on the stove over a pan, but you can microwave it Scrunch up some  shredded  wheat.  Cornflakes or rice crispies would be fine too Add a tablespoon of golden syrup to the melted chocolate (it keeps it melted longer, which is easier for the children) and then add the shredded wheat. Have a good lick at your spatula when you have  finished  mixing! Scoop out and place in to the cake cases, this is the straw. Take your Jelly Baby Jesus,  and place him very gently on to his bed of straw as you do not want to wake him. Then cover him in a royal icing blanket.   I buy premade royal icing for the Christmas cakes, so just save it.   Then enjoy scoffing your Jelly Baby Jesus Ca

Buy out of season for a great bargain

Being the ever thrifty mum that I am.  4 years ago we asked out family to club together to but the boys a play house and  climbing frame for Christmas.  We got a great deal as we were buying out of season. So my top tips for buying out of season are as follows: Plan - buy having a plan of what you need and when you need it, you can take action to look for something out of season. Sizes.  Make sure you have a list of your  children's  clothes and shoe sizes with you and a conversion chart.  I also used to carry a list of their previous sizes so I could judge what size to buy. Do not pack them away without listing what you have purchased and where you have pout it.  No good having to buy it again as you can not find it. Now is the perfect time to be thinking about stoking up in the  January  sales for  birthday  gifts  throughout  the year and christmas cards for next year. I always make sure I buy after an event, so I have a drawer with things in for next Easter and  Hall

Don't feel pressured in to spending at Christmas and a giveaway

According to a recent survey by  Whyte & Mackay    46.2% of people confess to feeling pressured into spending £100-£200 more than they can afford.    I have to admit that this really shocked me, but them with the rising cost of things and also the unrealistic expectations of people it is often very hard to keep a lid on spending. Other irritations were: ·          Christmas dinner preparations (25%) . The most common complaint is when mum-in-laws unfavourably compare the way dinner is served to the ‘proper way’ (i.e. her way). ·          Cruel present choices (24%). The majority felt that parent-in-laws purposefully bought presents for them that they wouldn’t like, from terrible Christmas jumpers to regifting items already in their cupboards. ·          Fighting over board games (15%). The most frenetic choice is the team game of charades with 34% of those who have fought with their parent-in-laws coming to blows. Monopoly is the board game that seems to cause the least amoun

Easy Christmas Cards to make with Children

It is no secret that I love to craft and it seems as though I am passing that love on to MIni and we are having lots of fun at the moment making, baking and crafting for Christmas. We were inspired by Homemaker Magazine and Chicken and Custard for out latest make.  Super easy child frieldly Christmas cards. Materials Cereal box Blamk cards/Card Washi tape, we used red and green Double sided tape or clue Merry Christmas Stamp Method I cut the cereal box to the height we wanted out trees and then Mini put strips on washi tape on to the back of the cereal packet in vertical strips.   We then measured the card and made marks every 3cm's.  Initially Mini tried to cut the card with scissors, but we found it easier with the guilotine (but I did supervise him). He then stuck doublesided tape on the rear of the tree and stuck one (or two) to each of the cards. He then stamped the front with a Happy Christmas Stamp. We are entering this is the Money Sup

Games for all ages

Well, here we are again, summer is just a memory and the last of the leaves are underfoot, making us slip in the rain or crunch in the frost. Winter can be a great time, as long as we keep wrapped up and warm, there’s not a lot that we can’t do. As always, holiday time with children brings not only happy times, but also the conundrum of keeping them entertained and happy for the duration. Most children have access to a computer nowadays, whether it’s their own or one belonging to a parent, learning to play and use the internet is now as much a part of growing up as learning to ride a bike without stabilisers! Games consoles are another must have for most children, and although they are great for keeping them out of mischief for hours at a time, the worry about how anti social these games can be, and also the time spent sitting almost motionless in front of a tv screen, is quite a worry for many parents. The more time children spend using their imaginations, getting some fresh air,

Getting Family to club together for Christmas Gifts

Christmas can be a difficult time for families.  The cost of toys and gifts are increasing and often so are the expectations of children.  I do not remember having huge piles of gifts at Christmas and we are trying to de commercialise  Christmas  currently . One of the ways we do this is by setting expectations of the boys realistically.  There Christmas lists only include four items and we also tell them that we and other family members provide Father Christmas with the money to  purchase  their gifts. One of the ways that we keep the costs of Christmas under control is that we get family members to contribute to "big ticket" items at Christmas. This year the boys have asked Father Christmas for new bikes.  So my in laws are contributing to the cost of them. In previous years we have all clubbed together to buy the boys  outdoor play equipment , which has been a great investment as they used it for years. I would love to know how you keep the cost of Christmas

Get Well Soup

You know the feeling.  You have the sniffles, a headache and a sore throat and all you want is to settle in to a big warm chair with a blanket and a cuddle. When I feel like this then nothing other than Heinz Tomato Soup and a cheese toastie will do.  There is something about the combination that takes me right back to my childhood and it looks like my tastes are rubbing off on Mini too. This week has been wet, very wet and he came in from school on Monday and needed a soup in a cup and toastie as it is known. So it was with interest that I read a press release from Heinz this week about their  ‘Get Well’ Soup campaign. The initiative aims to provide entertainment to children who will spend time in hospitals and hospices this Christmas, with the help of national children’s charity, Starlight. For a limited time, you can purchase, gift or share a can of ‘Get Well’ Soup via the Facebook page ; Heinz will then donate time towards providing ente

Borax Snowflake Crystal decorations

This is something we have made for the last three years at Christmas, initially we use a borax substitute, but the crystals are not as spectacular, so this year I ordered some bora from ebay. Materials Pipe cleaners Borax or  Borax  substitute Boiling Water Blue food colouring Jug or jar You need to do is shape some decorations out of the pipe cleaners.  We make did snowflakes, hearts and christmas trees. Then mix  approximately  8  tablespoons  of Borax with a pint of boiling water.  You want the borax to be past saturation point, so that it  doesn't  all  dissolve     We tied string to our pipe cleaner designs and then popped them on a pencil and balanced them over the jug  and submerged them overnight. The next morning remove and allow to dry and then you will have sparking, crystallised decorations. Now for the Science bit: Borax is an example of crystal - "a solid with flat sides and a symmetrical sh