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Showing posts from August, 2013

Clarks school shoes - learning about value

I took the boys to Clarks this week to get fitted for their school shoes.  "Clarks" I hear you cry "call yourself a thrifty mum"! Yes Clarks.  For us Clarks is about value for money and price per wear.  Mini has wide feet and a high instep and trashes shoes from pretty much anywhere but Clarks.  We have tried buying from other shops but each time the shoes have not lasted and we have ended up back at Clarks.  I would much rather the boys grow out of their shoes then wear them out at this age. I am always confident that the fitting experience is good in our local Clarks and if we are having any issues with the shoes then they take them back and exchange them no quibble. In fact both the boys school rom last year were in good enough condition to be passed on to friends for their children this year. What to know the secrets to keeping your childrens shoes in such great condition, they head over to The Mad House for our shoe care top tips.

Podding Peas - Country Kids

Our garden is not big, but we do have three raised bed s in it that MadDad built and this year we have a bumper crop of peas.  As of yet we still have not managed to eat any with our meals as Mini keeps helping himself! The boys are currently making the most of every moment of sun and were both on the swings in the PJ's tonight after bathtime. They do not want this summer to end.  Neither do I.

Walkers Mighty Lights Review

When it comes to crisps we are a pretty odd family.  We tend to enjoy family bags, but do not often eat the small bags.  I think this is something to do with the fact that the boys do not  have  packed lunches and that as a child the only time we ever had crisps was as a family. We have been reusing the crisp packs over at The Mad House  So it can be hard finding a crisp that suits all of us. However, I think we have found our crisps with the Walkers Mighty Lights : Typical Nutritional Values A 25g pack of  Lightly Salted Walker’s Mighty Lights contains 114 kcal, 4.7g Fat (7%), 1.2g Fibre and 0.28g Salt (5%). Ingredients Potatoes, Sunflower Oil, Lightly Salted Seasoning.  The Lightly Salted Seasoning contains Salt, Flavourings, Sugar, Spices and Herbs Key points: 30% l ess fat No artificial colours or preservatives No MSG A source of fibre Suitable for vegeta rians We all love the fact that they are lightly ridged and do not have a greasy fee

5 Ways in 5 Days - The back to school edition

For me September is a time of new starts and new resolutions and with the children going back to school the perfect time to make some financial resolutions to curb your spending . Day One Take a home made lunch to work.  Save on buying lunch at work by making your own the night before. This is even easier to do if your children have packed lunches.  You could save around £2.50 a day by making your own lunch.  Not a fan of sandwiches, then why not take leftovers from last nights meal. Day Two  Drop the latte.  Instead of grabbing a takeaway coffee each day.   Make your own .  Buy a reusable thermal mug, which is a one off purchase and use that.  You can also get one cup coffee filters which are around 20p per cup.   You could save around £350 a year if you cut out that takeaway coffee! Day Three Are you a magazine buyer?  If you stop buying them altogether you could save on average £100 per year.  I have to admit that I love magazines and I ask friends and family to buy

The numerous advantages to double glazing

As a home owner, the first time I considered double glazing as a way to save on my energy bills, let’s just say, I was less than convinced. After all, there was a fair cost involved, and there always seemed something far more pressing that needed attending to. However, in recent years as the cost has gone up … and up … and up to the point where my electricity and gas are taking up an increasingly large proportion of my household expenditure, I have been forced to look again, and I must say, with different a conclusion. Over £3000 a year on energy bills The fact is, double glazing will come with an initial outlay that can be quite a sum. However, when weighed up against the fact that I am now paying around £70 per week for gas and electric for a 3 bedroomed semi, which houses myself, my husband and our three kids I realised that even a 15% saving could leave me with an extra £546 a year in my purse. About even I then looked into how much I could save by having double

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Get Budgeting and Be Thrifty

There are some expenses that cannot be avoided when it comes to bringing up children, but thankfully there are some great ways to budget and make your money go further (especially around Christmas time and you have small children). Some are more obvious than you think… Really think about the present   It can be tempting to buy expensive 1 st year presents for those toddler birthdays. Ask yourself this? How many situations have we seen, where the packaging is genuinely more interesting than the present?  Children love bright, colourful things and my friend’s boy enjoyed sitting in the cardboard box as it had a window (the plastic front piece displaying the tractor) much more than the toy itself.  Keep wrapping paper or make your own My parents used to keep wrapping paper if it wasn’t ripped or torn. I’m not on about every single little piece, but if it can be re-used, why rip it and put out for recycling. If you want to opt for an older theme, why not go all out with


This week we are enjoying some french sun courtesy of Thompson Alfresco .   One thing that you can guarantee that will keep my boys happy is a swimming pool.  Both of them are water babies and I am sure they are developing gills and scales as they have been in the pool every day of the holiday.   We have been spending the day's exploring chateaux and the local area and then the evenings are filled with pool time. Just a selection of their pool time!


As a mum of two boys who both play Junior Football this is really pertinent to me.  I also have a husband that used to be a youth football coach, but decided due to parents attitudes he could no longer continue. Something has to be done as behaviour breeds behaviour.   Disclosure: This post does not need disclosure I have posted because I believe in respect in every community. 

The thrifty mums’ guide to Christmas shopping the savvy way

OK so the months of August, September and even October are too early to start thinking about Christmas, right? We should leave any thoughts of presents, mince pies and carols well out of our head until at least after Bonfire Night, shouldn’t we? The cost of Christmas certainly isn’t getting any cheaper, especially if you’ve got children whose Christmas lists seem to grow in length and value with each passing year. For many families who have quite a tight disposable income all year round the additional expenses at Christmas can leave them paying off steep debts and horrific levels of interest well into the New Year. To help prevent the dread of the credit card bill arriving in January, it makes sense to start Christmas shopping early and spread out the costs well in advance. Spread the costs by Christmas shopping early In this sense starting to think and preferably shop for all those presents, decorations, drinks, games, clothes and general excesses Christmas demands, ea

5 summer garden games

  We are off on holiday on Saturday, but this summer our garden has been used more than ever before due to the lovely weather and I wanted to share some of the games which we have been playing in the garden.  I have also been have a good look at All Garden Games and we are currently lusting after a crochet set for the garden, However, you can have just as much fun in the garden with what you already have at home. Garden Olympics What with the Olympics last year and the Athletics world championships just having been on TV, my boys are obsess with all things Athletics.   They have been using a frisbee as a discuss and trying to do the longest jump.  They also have running races and replay races with friends. Obstacle Course Anything in the garden can become part of an obstacle course and my boys have this off to a fine art.  They set a course with the swings, small trampoline and washing line and then  set each other the challenge to finish it first.  They have to jump ov

Win a Sainsbury's Bumper Book of Summer

I know that the summer holidays are nearly over for some of my Scottish Friends, but this book of over 60 boredom-busting ideas is great for weekends as well as summer. It is filled with step by step guides including a DVD for those of us that like moving instructions, ideas for recipes, activity days, ideas for back to nature play and alo imaginary play ideas for children aged between 3 and 12. I love that most of the ideas do not require you to spend any money and use things that you or your children will already have making for great frugal fun. If you want your own book and can not wait for my giveaway, then you can buy your own Bumper Book of Summer  from stores and online for just £5. I also think the website is a great resource and is filled with ideas and activities too. I am also giving away a bumper scrapbook so your children can record all their summer adventures too. As the summer is moving on fast this is a quick giveaway and will close on Friday. a Raf

Slow cooker sausage casserole

Even in the summer there is something about tucking in to comfort food, especially after a really busy day and for us one of the fab, easy, slow cooker meals that we all love is Sausage casserole.   I tend to use any vegetables that we have left the day before food shopping and in the summer months add peas and beans from the garden at the end of the cooking process.  It is a simple dish, but one that is always polished off by the boys.  Schwartz has an  easy to follow sausage casserole recipe   for cooking in the oven, below is my recipe to cook it in the slow cooker. Ingredients: Pack of good  quality  sausages Diced onion 1 leek 1 clove of garlic  (crushed or chopped)  Chopped Carrots Any other root  vegetables  that you have. 1 tbsp plain flour 1 tablespoon of tomato puree 350ml of warm stock (option vegetables - chopped peppers, new potatoes and mushrooms ) Method: I brown the sausages off in a pan with a tiny bit of oil and then remove and add them t

IPad Craze Among Kids of All Ages

Since the time iPads have been launched by Apple, the developers are making best of efforts to make it as trendy as possible. With advent of each day, various new technologies are added to the device which make it all the more amiable amongst the youth. It is but obvious that with the release of fashionable touch screen iPads the overall craze for gadgets has witnessed a massive increase. IPads come with multiple applications that turn them to be one of the most required devices amongst the young generation. An iPad is capable of connecting internet, shooting videos, playing music, playing games, GPS navigation and lots more. The interacting applications in the device help kids to spread texts messages amongst their friends for free. If one owns an iPad then one can install various categories of applications like movies, games, sports, finance, traveling, social networking sites, education, books and much more. Irrespective of millions of pre-existing apps, it is interesting to n

School Uniform by Asda - Review

We have a new Asda store open on the edge of our village and as both my boys had something of a growth spurt over the last term of the school year I purchased some trousers and polo shirts for the boys and was really impressed with them. Asda have also sent me some school uniform to put to the test with the boys this year.  Up to know I have to say I am really impressed with the quality and cost of the items we received and also the style differences on their clothes. Trousers I received some of the Asda Slim Fit Cargo Trousers .  My boys are both on the slim side and love cargo pants as they have extra pockets for all their stones and other things they collect.  I love that these are a slim fit and look great on.  They have adjustable waists too and cost £5 per pair. Polo Shirts Mini is a polo shirt boy and as he is noise with muck on I got red ones in the hope they stay cleaners for longer.   Asda polo shirts are true to size and do not shrink when washed, plus they

School Uniform by Tu put to the Breakdancing test

If you children are anything like mine then they certainly put their school uniform though its paces. Some days I wonder what they have been getting up too. Now I know it is not breakdancing like Tu have put there clothes though, but I do hope they stand up to football just as well!  This is a really cute video, well worth the watch.

Five free summer activities for children

I hope you are enjoying the summer holidays.  We are, but I am also aware that I am trying to stretch limited funds till the end of them and so today I have five ideas for free activities with your children. Picnic in the park We often make our way round all the local parks.  Sometimes a change of scenery does you good.  I pack our lunch in to a cool bag and take a flask of tea for me and we set off on a park adventure., Rock Pooling at the Beach We are lucky enough to live by the seaside, but our local beach is not the best place to rockpool.  However, 10 minutes down the road is the perfect rockpooling beach.  We take a bucket and space and the obligatory picnic, but also towels and crocks for going in the pools.  My boys love seeing what they can find.  You can also take pictures and try and draw some of the creatures when you get some. Backyard Olympics Why not take advantage of the lovely weather we are having in the UK and make up your own games and ha

5 ways to make cash from old clothes

I am on quest to make some money in order to pay for our holiday after a car repair wiped out all our savings. So I am firstly looking at ways to make money from things that we no longer need and one of the things that we have far too many of is clothes. So here are my top tips on how to make cash from clothes: Use a cash for clothes site like Music Magpie.  Music Magpie is a brilliant place for exchanging branded clothing for cash.   Ebay - Ebay is great for selling clothing bundles.  So if you are looking to sell a certain amount and size of childrens clothes this is the perfect place.  Individual items no longer sell so well due to the increase in postage costs.  If you are selling a bundle, make sure you list ALL the clothes, their condition and size.  Also take photo's of them in groups.  Use a local courier company for shipping.   Car boot sale - car boot sales are still good for shifting large amounts of clothing but do not expect more than 50p to £1 per item.  M
Having a baby requires months of planning, from buying new clothes, choosing the nursery furniture and not least of all, choosing a name. Check out this infographic charting the most popular boys' and girls' names in England and Wales, compared to the most popular Windsor family names.

I need your help

We committed to going to Florida with my Brother and his family in November over two years ago.  But we are really struggling with saving the money and also getting by on a day to day basis. So I am looking at you to help me by suggesting ways to earn more money or make money. I am looking to do a car boot sale already, but am aware that I am not going to make much. I have tried ebaying, but with the postage costs it is just not feasible at all. So come on, I need to make £4000 between now and the end of October. HELP

Will Benidorm be a good location for my honeymoon?

So you are getting married and you are wondering how the heck you are going to afford a honeymoon on tip of the lavish spending for you dream wedding. Thankfully, going away for you honeymoon doesn't have to be as expensive as you think. First of all, you need to decide what you want out of your honeymoon. Is it a week or two in the sun? A marathon drinking session with your newlywed partner? A pampering session at a spa? Just getting the location sorted will take a load off your mind. Many people think Benidorm is party central, but in actuality, it is a beautiful city with a wonderful vibe and a friendly welcoming culture. If you love going abroad but struggle with the language, choosing a place with lots of English tourists means that you will always be able to be understood. Choose a hotel that is suitable for you needs as well. There are some excellent hotels which are more than suitable for your honeymoon, especially if you are on a tight budget. If you love loun

The costs of being Clark Kent

The Costs of Being Clark Kent – An infographic by the team at

Need help with being a great parent?

Whoever said that being a parent was a simple job obviously had no appreciation of the real world and real children!  Unfortunately for those of us who are parents nowadays, it is becoming more and more complex as time passes. This is not because children are naughtier or more mischievous or anything else due to physical or biological changes; it’s simple because children + technology = headache!  And a big one at that! We all talk about what the world was like when we were children.  We played out in the sun all summer, roamed the countryside as free as a bird during the school holidays and only came home for tea when we got called in by mum and dad!!  Maybe there are a few children that still like to do this, but for many parents, we now find ourselves competing with and having to deal with the dramas created by technology. In such a complex time it is great to know that there is help at hand.  Websites like can help us keep things in perspective and share our th