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Showing posts from January, 2013

Crisis Cleaning

You know the feeling, the children have made a massive mess, the house is a tip, you have so much to do and you just do not know where to start.  We have all been there, but I find that my mind works much better on things if my house is clean. So today we are going to do a crisis clean of each room. For this you need: A timer Music A black sack A box Method You are going to do this in 15 minute chunks to music, which make it much more tolerable and you can also get the children involved too. Start at the door and work your way round the room in a clockwise direction   Put anything for the bin in the black sac, anything for another room in to the box and then put the rest away in its place on the room. Once the timer goes or you have finished the room (whichever is first) go and put the things away from the box.  This is critical otherwise you are just cluttering up. Give yourself a 15 minute break before moving on to another room.  Do not worry about the previo

Screen Printing: Fun and Easy

Making quirky and fun clothes at home doesn’t cost very much and it is a fun activity that can be enjoyed by anyone of any age. Screen Printing is one way to personalise hoodies, t-shirts, baby clothes or almost any other garment you could name. We will use the t-shirt example here. What You Will Need • Fabric Ink • Screen • Squeegee/spatula • Paper • Craft Knife • Masking Tape • Plain T-shirt If you don’t already have any of the above items then visit your local craft shop where you can purchase them fairly cheaply; everything above should cost no more than £25 and most of it can be used again and again. If you do not want to buy a screen then you can make your own. All you need is a picture frame large enough to cover your designs and some mesh. The mesh will need to be stretched on one side of the frame and stapled to the other so it is secure and firm. If you are unsure of which mesh to buy ask the staff in your local art supplies or craft shop. The Pr

Pom Pom Love

As yet I still can not knit or crochet and ages ago a friend gave me a load of wool scraps which have been at in a storage jar starring at me.  So I decided to do something with them. I bought a three set Classic Knit Pom Pom maker (it was only £2.99) from Dunelm Mill and me and the boys sat and made all the wool in to pom poms.  I really would love a clover pom pom maker as they are much easier to use and also enable you to make fluffier and fuller balls, but was really impressed with the inexpensive ones we have. Then those pom poms sat in a jar where we kept touching and stroking them and occasionally trying to juggle them until I cam e across Heather's post at Growing Spaces on a pom pom garland , So we threaded nearly 50 pom poms on to some thread and rather than leave a gap we decided to cram them all on, the more the merrier and in order to brighten up these winter days we hung them in the craft room. It is a riot of colour and we love it.  Now to f

January Declutter update

So I am trying to instill a new habit a month and I wanted to spend January decluttering.  So how did I do?  I am firstly going to say what I achieved  and then move on to what needs to be done still. Achieved: Boys clothes sorted My clothes sorted Bathroom organised En-suite organised Food cupboards sorted Kitchen crockery cupboard organised To do: Craft cupboard The dreaded understairs cupboard The garage The craft room So I am going to keep on with the decluttering through February and see if I can get on top of all our hot spots 

Healthy Eating on a Budget

Public Health Minister Anna Soubry claims that  you can spot poor children by  looking at the size of their waistlines .  It may have been a sweeping generalisation, but one fact I do know is that  1 in 7 UK children do not eat breakfast in the mornings .  I also know that with planning and time you can eat healthily on a budget.  So I wanted to share my top tips for getting great value fruit and  vegetables Aldi do a Super 6 every fortnight.  Six vegetables or fruit that are vastly reduced, this last fortnights were: Just looking at that list you could make a fab soup with the butternut, parsnips and onions.  Today I had an avocado  feta and chili quesadilla for lunch.  You could make a risotto with the mushrooms and onions and who doesn't love new potatoes.  My boys adore roasted parsnips and you can also make parsnip crisps too.  Butternut, onions, parsnips and the new potatoes could all be roasted to make a great side dish. Lidl is also a great source of fresh

Ten Affordable Home Improvements that Require Minimum Fuss

Redecorating your home on a budget can seem difficult, especially if you are planning to renovate major rooms such as the living room and bedroom. If you want to make a huge difference to your home but without breaking the bank, these ten ideas could be all you need: 1. Clear the clutter A tidy home instantly looks more attractive and anyone who has experienced the liberation of cleaning out their wardrobe or organising their kitchen cupboard will know just what a huge difference de-cluttering can make. Set aside a day to clear the clutter and your home will look and feel brand new. 2. Lick of paint One of the quickest ways to give your home a facelift on a budget is repainting the walls. You can find lots of reasonably priced paints that will make your home feel lighter, brighter and fresher. If speed is of the essence, then choose one wall in your living or bedroom to redecorate and create an eye-catching feature. 3. Accessorise If you like to change the look of you

Do you stockpile?

One thing I noticed when sorting through the bathroom and en suite is that I  am guilty of stockpiling products. Now this isn't necessarily bad thing, but I do need to take stock of what I have and stop buying until I need things unless they are super inexpensive. This image has nothing to do with this post, but I just found it on my phone!  When it comes to my favorite cleaners (Liz Earle) I get it for my birthday and Christmas (both in December), so it is good that I have enough to last me half the year. However, there is no way that MadDad is going to get though all the shampoo I have stockpiled! So I have wrote a list of what I have in and am not going to replace unless they are all gone or it is a unbeatable offer. The other thing I realised I am guilty of is keeping for best.  I have toiletries that I have been keeping for best.  I actually deserve a relaxing bath with nice products ever week, so I am going to use them now!

Decluttering Make up and toiletries and how to clean make up brushes

I use to wear make up every day when I worked in an office, now it is high days and holidays.  So I am very guilty of keeping it open longer than I should.  So I decided to tackle my make up drawer and toiletries as part of my January Declutter. I threw away anything that was open and older than 12 months, apart from the lipstick I wore to my wedding nearly 18 years ago! I washed my make up brushes - it looks like a have a lot but the truth is I only use three, the others are given to the boys to pretend to add make up when I do mine!  I did an inventory of toiletries (more on that in a later post). How to clean make up brushes Apparently you should clean your make up brushes once a week - eek, who has time for that!  Mine are used only on high days and holidays  so they are lucky if they get an annual clean, but this year I am going to endeavor to clean them once a month, so I feel less of a dirty slattern. I clean mine with a paraben and SLS (sodium laureth sulphat

What to carry in your car when it snows

We live in the sticks, well not really, but it sure feels like it when it snows.  My brother lives 12 miles down the road and can have no snow when we can be snowed in and have 10 cm's! MadDad works in a part of the country which has hills and dales and is not always in the office and has clients to visit and has to drive, so over the last 3 years we have got down to a fine art what to put in his car over the winter. MadDad always also travels with his coat, hat, scarf and gloves in winter.  If he doesn't have them on, he will ensure they are in the car. Water - Please do not leave it in your car overnight if it is cold as it will freeze! Cereal bars - They are great to snack on if stuck and keep well Phone charger - It always runs out of battery when you need it most Basic first aid kit Wind up torch or torch and spare batteries Change - for a pay phone if necessary Reflective triangle - we have this from when we traveled to France a lot as it is compulsory th

No spend years - are they just a gimmick?

I have seen a number of blogs this year start around the whole idea of no spending.  They really got me thinking.  I know that Dotty Angel did a year of buying only handcrafted or thrifted in 2009. Yes Tif is obviously a trial blazer and early adopter. But to actually not buy or spend anything over a whole year. Is this actually doable?  One such blog is Free our Kids .  I actually think that this is more achievable when you are talking about a toddler (2 years old) and if you have a good network of friends and family who will hand clothes and toys down to you. When my boys were small, we went to a couple of playgroups a week, which cost 50p and £2 and were a really good investment, not only did the boys get to play with other children, but I also got a hot cup of tea and some conversation! However, this would not work with my boys who are six and seven.  Firstly they actually wear clothes out at this age rather than growing out of them. They want to do activities that cos

A landing strip

It is what the American's call an area to put things in as you come in through the door.  Now we do not have a hall, but we have naturally developed our own landing strip .  I think that it is important for the entrance of your home to look welcoming and I was really missing my Christmas Wreath, so I made a spring bunting and felt flower wreath  to replace it. In our home as you come in the front door there is the stairs and an entrance to the sitting room, but no hall area to speak off. So we try to make the most of a compact area.  I want the boys to make sure that they hang up their coats and put their gloves and hats away, so it was important to have low hooks to make it easy for them and the basket means they can just pop them in.  If their gloves and hats are wet then they leave them on the radiator. They also come in and put their school shoes in the cabinet. or again if they are wet, they pop them under the radiator. When MadDad gets home from work he a

Declutter update and New Year New You

I have been decluttering for a week and I wanted to update on how I am doing. The boys wardrobes have been sorted and a sack of clothes gifted to a neighbour. My clothes have been sorted and I have three sacks to go to the charity shop. Mini has donated his old keyboard to the charity shop (leaving more room for books) We have sorted though the children's books and there are 5 bags ready to donate to the school. I feel as though I am on a roll and have been aching this is small chuncks of 15 minutes whilst doing all the rest of the jobs. This week I plan to tackle the following tasks: Sort the bathroom supplies. Sort though the medicine cabinets Sort the store cupboards in the kitchen  If you are looking to get in to the New year with some changes, then why not take a look  Hillarys curtains and blinds  ‘ New Year, New You ’ competition on Facebook. The competition gives you the chance to win a different prize a week.  This week there is a chance to win a £1

Will Touring Holidays Suit Me And My Family?

When you’re planning a family holiday, you want to be sure that it’s something that you get exactly right. You want it to suit the entire family down to the ground and be something that everyone will remember for years to come. So, if you and your family fancy something other than baking in the sun on a beach for two weeks, why not try a rail touring holiday for something a little more action packed? What Are The Advantages? 1.    Educational On a touring holiday, you will visit many different sites and will have a Tour Manager that will tell you about them. This means that your holiday is not only fun but is educational and your kids will be learning without even realising it. The Tour Manager is bound to have some fun knowledge on each new site that will entertain and shock your children and you may even find you learn something yourself. 2.    Change Of Scenery If you and your family don’t really like just lying around in one place, this is the perfect holid

Are kitchen appliances going to go wireless?

Home technology seems to be getting more advanced all the time, which can at times make it hard to keep up with the latest developments. However, the majority of new advances made in creating futuristic energy efficient appliances like a Fridge Freezers from could actually help to make doing household tasks like cooking and cleaning easier than ever.  Network-ready appliances are one of the newest innovations in home technology, and, with the help of smartphone apps, they’re set to become the next big thing. Apps used to help control kitchen appliances have become commonplace in recent months. Miele, a German electronics firm who make appliances, launched an iPhone app to help users control all their appliances by just pressing a button, while also being able to check each appliance’s status from another room in their home with the help of a wireless LAN network. Although this technology is relatively new, it could be useful to millions of people

Snow Drinks

The boys both came running out of school yesterday and were keen to get home to play in the snow we have.  Maxi wanted to make a snow drink. So he collected the snow from the garden and popped it in to a cup.  Then we poured over some strawberry syrup that we had in and voila flavored snow.

Decluttering and organising digital files

Whilst we are busy decluttering, it is important not to forget our virtual decluttering and January is the perfect time to save all your previous years photographs to disk.  The fab eighteen25 has some downloads you can use as DVD covers.  I always make sure that MadDad takes a copy of the disk to work do if anything happens we have them there.  I also back up monthly to an external hard drive. Whilst you are at it, why not back up your files and also  back up your blog .  If you are not sure how the Tots100 has a great tutorial.

Keeping Toddlers Safe Around Heaters

With cold weather here to stay until the spring, more and more households are getting out their electric heaters. Small heaters are a good way to provide extra heat to individual rooms without wasting energy on increasing the whole house's temperature. For households with small children, though, heaters can also pose a few risks. Toddlers and other young children may not fully understand the danger a heater can pose, resulting in minor but painful burns. If you have toddlers and heaters, here are a few tips to help eliminate the risk.  Educate The first and most important step in protecting your children is to make sure that they understand the danger. Clearly explain to them that heaters can get very hot and that they should not touch them. Additionally, make sure children understand that toys, clothing and other objects aren't to be placed on top of heaters; these objects will heat up quickly -- toys, in particular, can really hurt young hands if they get hot. Child

Sorting the children's outgrown clothes

Maxi has grown about 2 inches in the last four weeks and so has moved up in clothes and the time has come to sort through his wardrobes as part of our January declutter . Now I know he will not stay in his room and try on everything, so I make him find a pair of trousers and a top that fits and put them on. I then use those as a template for the other clothes.  Anything smaller gets moved to Mini's wardrobe. I always make sure that I buy the boys clothes in the Sales and get great value, super quality clothes this way. After setting aside everything that doesn't fit, I make an audit of what is left to ensure that he has everything he needs and pop a note of any requirements in a page on my dairy and also he current shoe size, in case I see any bargains. I do the same with Mini's wardrobe and have a basket of clothes that no longer fit.  I then pass these on to a friend and any she doesn't want or need gets passed to the charity shop. Another great way of get

Cleaning made easy - Declutter

Life is too short to spend it cleaning all the time, but I find that a clean and tidy house means a clean and settled mind in my case.  Now I am not some OCD cleaner, who insists on a perfectly clean house all the time.  Nope Mess is good especially when in the middle of crafting or cooking, but I try to have a routine which makes it all easier. From  Pininterest When the boys were small I followed Fly Lady religiously and once you get past the freaky get dressed to your shoes and love yourself, it really is a great way of creating a routine that fits around your life nad means that you never had to have a messy house. However, there is no point in cleaning a house that is filled with clutter, so in January I am taking a step back and my challenge is to clear the clutter in a month.  I would love for you to join me. So my plan is over the next three weeks take each room and start sorting.  I am going to start at the door and work my way round the room in a clockwise dire

Why Menu Plan?

Cass from A Frugal Family  and myself have a food blog called Frugaliscious and each week one of us posts out weekly menu plan on it.  This week it is my turn. I have tried to ensure that we eat a rainbow this week so that we can kick this flu.  Mine has turned in to a chest and ear infection. Menu or meal planning is one of the most effective ways that I save money.   By menu planning I make sure I only buy the food we need and we rarely have any waste. Also one of the most soul destroying parts of parenting for me is the constant cooking and what used to be the stress over meal times. I have got round this as the boys have grown (they are six and seven) by involving them in planning the food for the week. Why Meal Plan? Well apart from the obvious wondering what to cook at the last minute, it is a brilliant way to budget and save money.   On Average a family of four throws away £680 of food a year.   This is a shocking statistic, which equates to about £50 a mon

Winter Manifesto

I am a firm believer in life being what you make of it and that the universe will provide, but I am also aware that the economy is not getting any better and there is nothing wrong it doing what I can. So this year I am going to make a concerted effort to earn more and spend less.  As a family we have our first ever big holiday coming on November as we have booked to go to Florida with my brother and his family, which gives me a goal to look forward to.  So I am going to start the year with the following seasonal financial goals: Declutter - As I get older I am learning that I actually need less physical things to make me happy.  So the aim of the next three months is to start paring down what we have. Use what I have.  I have lots of fabric etc, so I am going to make the most of it and use it before replenishing it or buying any more. Use the library more.  Less buying of books, more borrowing them. Plan.  I am going to get a new year book purely for financial planning

5 frugal ways to stay warm this winter

With winter setting in and fuel costs rising, here are some cheap and simple ways to keep your home and family warm. 1. Insulation station Insulating your home is cheaper than you think and makes heating vastly more effective. Loft insulation prevents heat escaping through the roof, one of the biggest causes of household heat loss. Insulating material can be bought at DIY stores and fitted yourself. Cavity wall insulation fills the gap in cavity walls, those with a double layer of bricks and a space between, and should be installed by a professional. Both loft and cavity wall insulation will repay the initial outlay over and over again. You may even be eligible for a grant to cover all or part of the cost. Putting rugs or carpets on the floor will help keep heat in, as will curtains across windows and doors, the heavier the better. Without insulation                  With Insulation  2. Shut that door A lot of heat can be lost when you open a door to the chilly outside