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Showing posts from March, 2013

Bunny bunting with pom pom tails

I have not hidden my love of pom poms from you and Easter is the perfect time to use pom poms in your crafts. The boys and I have been busy making lots of pom poms and have made pom pom bunnies and pom pom chicks over on The Mad House  and this Bunny Bunting was the result of having left over pom poms to use. Materials Pom poms (or you could use cotton wool balls) Bunnies cut from thin card Ribbon Hole punch Glue Method Print out the two templates below (click on them to enlarge) Trace on to card and cut out Stick pom poms on bottoms Punch holes in the ears and thread through the ribbon

My top ten tips for saving money

The somewhat fabulous and rather wonderful Miss Thrifty (I am allowed to say that as I have met her) is hosting a competition for  Money Supermarket  who are compiling a list of tips called  The Ten Commandments of Saving . Use cash  This completely changed the way that I looked at our finances and I even made some cash envelopes   to help me with it.  We use  a cash only system for incidentals, fuel, groceries, lunches etc though the month.  This means we draw enough cash out after pay day to cover the expenses (just, if we have enough) and then use the cash through out the month. Second Hand is not Second Best Why buy new products when you can get something second hand.  Yes you may not always be able to get the exact thing you needed at the exact time, but often you can get something of a better quality for a lower price. Meal Plan Meal plan , meal plan , meal plan .  I can not say this often enough.  On average a family of four will through away £600 plus

Will You Change Your Life In Order to Go Green?

There are some fantastic ways to live a more environmentally friendly life these days and it is simply a question of picking the ones which best suit you. If you look into the subject on the internet you will find lots of ideas for leading a greener life and some of them might grab you right away. In some cases you might want to change your life in order to do this but will this be the ideal solution for you? Work from Home If you have the option of working from home then this is a fine way to cut down on your travelling. It is especially useful if you currently travel a long distance to your place of work in a car. Working from home is a big change in anyone’s lifestyle and isn’t right for everyone. However, it can make it a lot easier to live an environmentally friendly life so it is worth investigating if you ever have the chance to do so. Get a New House Will you be tempted to move into a new home which has better green credentials? Environmentally friendly

Save money with LED lights with Panasonic and Simply LED

I love saving money and when it comes to saving money on our energy bills I am all for it.  So when both Simply LED and Panasonic got in touch with me to discuss reviewing LED bulbs I thought why not. For those of you that don't know  LED bulbs can save you up to 89% energy when compared with halogen or incandescent. They also last 25 times longer and therefore don't need replacing constantly.   In our kitchen we have three lights which each have three bulbs in.  Simply LED sent me nine replacement LED Bulbs , which retail at £11.99 each.  So yes the initially outlay is more expensive, however, using their online calculator I worked out that using them would save me £45 a year for the life of the bulbs (they can last up to 25 years) and this was a conservative estimate   I opted for warm white and we immediately noticed that the colour was much truer to daylight once the bulbs were installed. Panasonic sent me a couple of their screw in LED Bulbs and I have been usin

Financial Manifesto - Spring 2013

It is so nice to see the days lengthening.  The springtime certainly fills me with more hope and joy and this Spring, I am looking to try and make some more cash and also cut back on the amount we spend.  Spring is an expensive time of the year for us with car MOT's, services, Car Tax and other major household expenditure. My focus will be: Declutter in the hope of doing a couple of car boot sales once they start again after Easter Look for a part time job whilst the boys are in school Check out car insurances as out policies are due for renewal Hold a budget friendly birthday party for Maxi who turns eight Make not buy cards.  In addition to Maxi's birthday we have mothers day and our wedding anniversary in March.  I have lots of craft things, so me and the boys are going to have a card making session Arrange to have the boiler serviced Have a spend free April - only buy what is essential.

The value of a mother

I made a choice when my children were born to take time out of going out to work to become a stay at home mum. We decided that rather than go back to work and pay someone most of (if not all) of my salary to someone to link after my children, that I would remain at home with them and become a stay at home parent. This was a choice, however, I appreciate that not every parent has this choice, that people have to work.  But we have little to no support and if the children were ill I would need to take time off work to be with them.  We both felt that I could not have committed to am employer at this time in mine and my families life. However, we are being penalised more and more by the government for being present in our children's lives. I do not want to go in to the rights and wrongs of the latest ConDem budget, but I do wish that any government could put more of a value on bringing up children. We have made many sacrifices so that I can collect my children from school,

Paper Mache Tissue Eggs

This is a really simple Easter craft, that is great for children of all ages.  It can be quite messy, so it pays to have a sink full of warm soapy water for washing hands at the ready.   Materials Egg shells Paper Mache Glue (or wallpaper paste or even flour and water) Tissue Paper or Newspaper We have been collecting eggshells from cooking for the last month or so.  So rather than being whole egg shells they are cracked eggs and I wanted to have a go at using them for decorating, rather than just putting them in the compost.   The boys chose to use green and pink tissue paper from the pound shop to decorate the eggs, so we ripped it in to small pieces ready for gluing. For the glue I used some paper mache paste we had in the cupboard, but you can use wallpaper paste or even flour and water, The boys then used the tissue to cover the eggs and hold them together.  Due to the amount of glue and paper the boys used it to

The Crochet Project - A FREE Online Ezine

Those who know me well will know that crochet is my kryptonite   I have tried and failed a couple of times to get hooky.   But oh how I wish I could crochet, especially when I was introduced to this brand new ezine The Crochet Project which is a collaboration from the ever creative  Kat Goldin   and  Joanne Scrace . The Crochet project is a   seasonal online collection of downloadable PDF patterns. The aim of The Crochet Project is to promote beautiful, modern crochet patterns to the online market. So any  crocheters  out there fancy making me some  socks ?.................. ....

Standing By for Spring: Plant Bulbs in Your Brain and Your Garden Should Follow

So how does your garden grow this spring? Whether it’s a small herb bed outside your back door or a sprawling allotment, chances are it’s had about as much love as a freezer full of suspected horse-meat lasagne.  Like traffic tailbacks and supermarket shelves barren of bread and milk, this year’s delayed start to the growing season is down to one culprit: the snow. Even if frigid temperatures aren’t an impediment to getting those seed trays on windowsills, the sight of flurries flying isn’t exactly conducive to the growing process. This time last year, green shoots were already well established and the seed potatoes were all eyes. Soil had been turned, compost dug in, chickens set free to scrabble around and clear out any weeds brash enough to get a head start. Today? Nada. Even the chickens look disaffected and winter-weary. My wake-up call came when the last bag of runner beans was unearthed from a freezer drawer. For months, I’ve been planning meals according to what w

Red nose day cakes

It has become something of a tradition for the boys to make cakes for Daddy to take to work to raise mummy for charity. So last night we set to making some chocolate cakes for Comic Relief. Basic Fairy Cake mixture (makes 18) 6 oz of butter or marg 6 oz caster sugar 5 oz of self raising flour 1 oz of coco powder 1 teaspoon of baking powder 2 eggs half teaspoon of vanilla extract 3 tablespoons of milk Method.   Cream together the marg/butter and sugar.  Then add the rest of the ingredients in and mix well! Put in the cake cases and an oven preheated to 180 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Allow to cool. Sorry, I don't have a recipe for icing, as I just bung the ingredients in together until they taste fine, but it was icing sugar, butter, milk  coco powder and vanilla extract.  The key is to give it a good mixing and then pop it in the fridge.  We also use a piping set from Lakeland and it is so easy to use that Maxi iced most of the cakes. The noses are R

3 Ways to Get Your Washing Extra Clean Without Breaking The Bank

 When it comes to washing our clothes, we would be lost without our washing machines. However, the development of this essential everyday product is relatively recent. Only 50 years ago it would have been common in the UK for families to have mainly hand-washed their clothes. Many people were still using old-fashioned methods such as a hand-driven 'mangle' to squeeze the water out of clothes in order to help them to dry. But despite all of the new technologies and biological detergents in use today, is there any information that can be gathered from the past for those who want to make sure their washing is extra clean? Soaking Although most washing machines have extended programme 'pre-wash' functions, these often go unused because of the extra time they take to complete the cycle. Sometimes there can also be concerns about how much extra energy they might consume in the process. However, letting any kind of washing soak in a water and detergent solution is th

Free quarterly LEGO Magazine

Rather than a magazine for adults, today I being you a free paper magazine for Children who love LEGO.  It comes out five times a year  out five times a year in January, March, June, September and November. Both the boys get LEGO Club Magazine through the post.  Mini gets the Junior version and Maxi the regular version.  It is something they look forward to and today the regular one popped through the door with a free DVD which has two episodes of LEGO Chima on. The magazines are really good reads too, as good as one you would pay for, they include puzzles, build instructions, comics, quizzes, sneak peaks, competitions and stories which are age appropriate. Plus it is great for the boys to get mail through the post too.  A real treat. It is a super FREE club for LEGO lovers.

What to do in the event of your home being vandalised

Vandalism is, thankfully, not a common problem in the UK.  Although the 2011 riots have given it a higher profile recently, most homeowners never have to worry about vandalism, and what few incidents there are tend to be focussed in the cities. Nonetheless, if you are one of the unlucky few to experience problems with vandalism, making sure that you follow the right procedure in dealing with it can be the difference between having to foot the entire bill yourself and getting some help from your insurance company. The first thing to remember, even if the damage is relatively minor, is that vandalism is a criminal incident and the police should be notified. From an insurance standpoint a police report acts as another piece of proof that the damage actually did take place to the extent that you say it did. Additionally, if the culprit is caught and dealt with not only do you get peace of mind, it also makes it less likely that there will be a recurrence. Once the polic

Mending and making do

Part of being frugal for us is the ethos of repairing things.  The whole mend and make do philosophy that was prevalent in earlier generations. Sometimes this is really hard, not because I don't want to mend things, but due to the fact that I lack the skills, tools and experience to mend things. Usually we will find a trades person that can help us, or someone that knows to help or pay (we have paid to have our dishwasher, washing machine and tumble dryer to be repaired in the past and need to get the tumble drier fixed again when finances allow). Take this globe that the boys have.  They love it, not only does it have the countries on, but also animals and it is bright colourful and perfect for them.  However, in the past it has been dropped and the base damaged. We have tried to repair it, but something about the type of plastic always meant that it was weaker and prone to breaking in the same spot, which it did again this weekend.  Queue tears from Mini as he was bus

N.E.E.T Magazine - A Free online Magazine

I have another free magazine for you today.  This time N.E.E.T  which is  a showcase for grassroots creativity.  It is online, free and packed with everyone from a crafter creating from their kitchen table, to a fashion design graduate straight out of college, to a team of people doing it for the love of it. N.E.E.T. Magazine is the brainchild of  Stephanie J . Everything in the magazine is handpicked, designed and organised by her, the editor. N.E.E.T. Magazine is an eco-friendly, grassroots style bible for the digital age. Other free magazines include 91  and Morrisons 

What to consider when taking your child to a live concert

My children adore music and there is something quite magical in experiencing live music, however, it is important to introduce your children to this fun activity in the right way.  Both my boys have been to concerts aimed at adults and families, in addition to live acts which are specifically designed for children such as  The Wiggles .  I also know that Maxi would love  tickets to see Eric Clapton   and have the time of his live watching him with his Grandad. Considerations to make How long is the concert?  Can your child sit though that length of time.  You need to be considerate of other people who have paid to watch the concert too. Remember to factoring the travel time either side of the concert.  My friend Cass at  Frugal Family  went to an Olly Murs concert this week and they didn’t get out of the car park till 10ish and Master Frugal actually fell asleep during the concert. Does the artist have a matinee.  One Direction often do as there target market is tweens an

Washi tape magnet tutorial

Hello I am Jen and I have a stationery fetish.  I often feel that there should be a self help program for people like me.  I just love all types of stationery!  So I have something of a stash of washi tape! This is a really simple project and a perfect way for using up any magnets that you get free.  Firstly. carefully peel off the label Cover the magnet with white paper in case your tape is translucent in places   I then took a selection of my tape and stuck it to the paper on the magnet.  As the tape is adhesive no glue is needed. I used my guillotine to cut between the strips of tapes and then used scissors to make the ends look as though they have been torn.

Would you book a last minute holiday?

Did you know that you could save up to 70% on your holiday by booking it last minute with Latedeals? I have not been one for booking late in the day and do tend to be an early bird, which also gets you some great deals.  However, at the moment Latedeals have a great competition on the Latedeals facebook page  (on the trivia tab) to win £500 towards one of their breaks, which would certainly make me consider booking later if I won! Have you got holiday plans for this year?

Top 3 child-friendly digital cameras

It is usually the parents' job to take photographs and carefully track each stage of their child’s development. After all, memories last longer when the moment is saved using a digital camera . However, it could be a great idea to see the memories of your child through your child's point of view. They might not be the best at framing a photograph, but nothing will quite store their memories as arming them with their own digital camera and letting them loose on the world. Vtech Kidizoom Vtech have created the perfect blend of fun and practicality with their Kidizoom Plus camera. This 2.0 megapixel offering also includes a 2x zoom for your youngster to play with and it is capable of storing up to 500 photos before you need to backup the shots. The camera includes games for their entertainment during family holidays, with editing effects that may teach the little one to be the fashion editor of the future. Coming with everything your child needs to connect their

How to clean your dishwasher without chemicals

Just like cleaning the washing machine and tumble dryer , I think it is important to regularly clean your dishwasher without chemicals.  This is something I do once a month, so ensuring that I do not have detergent build up or a mucky dishwasher and I never have to use a dishwasher detergent either. I just do not see the point in trying to clean dishes in a dirty dishwasher. Now I have to admit that I am unsure if it is not frugal to have a dishwasher or wash by hand, but I do always ensure that we fill our dishwasher before using it and set it on overnight using the ecological wash.  We also never use rice aid or salt, but that is due to the fact that we live in a soft water area. Empty the filter of your dishwasher (mine simply twists and pulls). You can find how to do this in your instruction manual or on your washer manufactures web site. Wipe down all your seals and around the door with a solution of 50% white vinegar and water with a lint free cloth. Place a cup of

Chocolate Simnel Cake

I love baking and as neither MadDad or the boys are keen on fruit cake I have made a chocolate Simnel cake for Easter for the last four years. However, if you are not a keen baker then you can always keep an eye out for  Easter Offers   and  Easter Chocolates & Treats  using My Supermarket's special Easter shelves.  It is like being in a seasonal aisle in the Supermarket and you can see all the best offers for Easter in one place, sorted by each participating supermarket. Ingredients 100g/4oz dark chocolate, broken in pieces  100g/4oz caster sugar  100g/4oz softened butter, plus extra for greasing 3 eggs, separated  50g/2oz ground almonds  50g/2oz self-raising flour  1 tsp baking powder Method 1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4/fan oven 160C. Butter an 18cm/7in deep round cake tin; line the base. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.  2. Beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the yolks, one at a time.