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Showing posts from September, 2013

4 Thrifty Halloween Crafts

With the dark nights drawing in, it is the perfect time of the year to start preparing for halloween.  My boys have grown in to this celebration, they never used to be as keen.   I try to keep our crafting simple and not to costs a lot, so here are four thrifty and frugal ideas for halloween crafts that you can do with children of all ages. Boo - Halloween Paperchain Ghost .  My boys are now big enough to draw a template and cut out their own ghosts, but when they were smaller I used to do the cutting and let them add the faces with a black pen.  You can find a template here is you need home. Paper plate pumpkins .  My boys coloured their pumpkins in with pen,k but you could also do yours with orange paint or even stick orange tissue paper on it.  The faces are made up with pre cut black paper or felt which they stuck on themselves. Balloon pumpkins - Nothing simpler than orange balloons and a sharpie, but these bring hours of fun. Salt Dough ornaments Bas

Start Planning Now to Enjoy a Budget Friendly Half Term

Already the next half term is looming. In four weeks’ time you will once again have a house full of kids needing to be entertained. It might seem too early to start thinking about the autumn break now, but if you’re watching your spending then starting to prepare now will help you make the most of the week without having to constantly worry about the financial cost. The main advantage of starting to plan now is that you will be able to absorb the costs into your monthly budget. There are few households today that can afford to go month-to-month without budgeting their costs, so it makes sense to ensure that you have sufficient funds available to enjoy a few trips out during that week, even if it means cutting back a little in the weeks beforehand. If you’re thinking about heading into London for a day look at buying your train tickets now. Travelling by train rather than by car provides a stress-free journey for you, while children will love the novelty of travelling

An Autumn walk round the local area

Sometimes we are neglectful of the beauty that surrounds us, so today we set off for a family walk of our local area armed with cameras to take snaps that represent certain colours so the boys could enter the Kids capture the colour competition . These images are all taken my Mini on his Aldi camera which is a Maginon 8 mega pixel compact and cost less than £40.  Each image represents a colour, can you tell which? The are from top: Blue - the sky was a glorious colour today Yellow - I adore the perspective on this one.  Sometimes we forget to look at things from our childrens level. Red - the beautiful berries contracting with the sky Green - making the most of the trees before the leaves all change colour White - Alvin was shattered after his walk!  Want to see Maxi's perspective, then visit Mum in the Madhouse .  

Saving for a Specific one off item

Are you a spender or a saver?  Does it even pay to save in this economy? Many people will tell you that you are better to pay off your mortgage rather than save in times like this with interest rates being low. You often are better paying off any debt you have rather than saving.   However, you can find Online Savings Accounts with good interest if you look around, so that if you are going to save you ensure that you have the best rate possible. My husband who is an accountant would also tell you to make sure that you look at opening the Best interest ISA and Cash ISA you find, as this is a tax free way of saving. We have been saving for a holiday to Florida in November this year, so have been using both a cash ISA and an online savings account. There is something quite rewarding watching your savings increase, especially when you have a specific outcome in mind for them.  I also think that regularly saving a small amount is a good habit to get in to, but not

10 ways to Prepare your home for Autumn/Fall and winter

I was chatting on twitter today with  +Emily Davidson   and  +Heather Young  about preparing our homes for Autumn and the darker nights.  So I decided to share what we do in The Mad House . Bring out the draft excluders - we have a number of them and I am in the process of making an extra large one for the patio doors. Line your curtains - lined curtains keep the cold out much more and make sure you u se your curtains - no point in having them if you do not close them when it starts to get dark. We have wooden flooring and at this time of year we lay  traditional rugs  over them which really makes our home feel warmer.   Carpetright have a great selection of rugs and runners.   Lag your outside tap before winter sets in and turn it off, the last thing you want is for your pipes to freeze Dig out those hot water bottles and pop a blanket on the bottom on everyones beds and also on the settee. Clean any outside lights and check the bulbs, dark nights are drawing in really fa

Children’s Favourite Characters Of All Time

When it comes to a child’s fancy dress party it can be hard to decide what you, as a parent, should dress up as to entertain the kids and to fit in. Although there are probably plenty of iconic cartoon characters that you can remember it’s important to make sure you choose a costume that your child will recognise and for that, you need to check out some of children’s favourite characters of all time. If it’s a little boy’s party then you can’t go wrong with the likes of Batman, Spiderman, Superman or, if you’re looking for a character that’s a little more modern, Ben 10. Batman is still extremely popular today so a lot of people – of the younger generation – maybe shocked to find out that Batman’s first appearance was actually in a comic in 1939; Superman’s was even earlier in 1938 and Spiderman in 1962. Ben 10 is much more recent but is certainly a children’s favourite. First introduced in 2005 Ben Is a ten year old boy who finds an alien device when exploring the woods and is

Free Autumn/Fall printable from Pen and Paint Blog

Lindsay at Pen and Paint produces the most amazing quotes and artwork which I adore and so it seems so do my boys.  Mini came in to my office tonight just before bed and asked for the new seasonal print as it was no longer summer. So I printed it off and hung it in his room ready for him waking in the morning. I love that my boys are really learning to appreciate artwork.  I use a wooden trouser coat hanger to hang and display the print in their rooms which is an inexpensive and effective way of displaying it.

Are half term breaks great family bonding time?

We are big fans of half term holidays at A Thrifty Mum.  The October break tends to have some great weather (not too cold, with dry days) and we are always ready for a break after the first half term at school. We also tend to focus on spending our half terms in the UK as you can find an array of UK half term breaks even at the last minute. We love using half term to spend time together as a family and we are big fans of exploring some of the UK's amazing castles, ruins and beaches. The fact that the evenings tend to draw in quickly makes for cosy evenings where we play board games together or read a book as a family. Our favourite things to do on a half term break: Take a walk on the beach (wrapped up warm) and collect shells and stones Forest and woodland walks.  We love the colours of the leaves and to look for conkers or even forage.  Visit castles and pretend that we are knights and Princes.  Both the boys are fans of this as mu

My Big Night In

If you had £750 to spend on a big night in, how would you spend it?  Well this is the question that Two Little Fleas  has asked. Nights in are pretty much how me and MadDad spend our time now.  My brother and his wife run their own business (a social club) so we do not often manage to get together, but I think this would be the perfect time to have a good old family get together. Tol start with I would get a team of cleaners to come in and blitz the house.  A really deep clean, so I wouldn't have to feel guilty relaxing in a house when I should be cleaning and tidying it! I would look at getting someone in to cook and serve dinner to us all (yes the children too).  The thought of having someone come in to my house, set the table, prepare food and then clean up sounds perfect.  We are all lovers of a good indian so that would be my meal of choice. Rather than sending the children all to bed, I would have an entertainer on hand for them.  My boys are fascinated by magic,

My dream bedroom

My dream bedroom by mum-themadhouse featuring a white pendant light I think that most parents bedrooms get forgotten about once children come in to the equation, but really feel that now is the time for me and MadDad to reclaim what is ours and make it a haven and somewhere to enjoy and escape too. If you haven't guessed I have a real love for mid century style.  The lines, the designs and the colours too.  I would love my room to be white with pops of colour. So this is my entry a bedroom that is neither masculine or feminine, but a real couples room.  It is also a readers room I think.  Adjustable lighting for reading in bed, plenty of cushions to prop yourself up and a wooly throw to wrap round you and keep you warm.  Seen as I am possibly going to be seeing a lot of my bed  due to an operation in the near future, this is my perfect bedroom.   Natural ribbed throw - £28,   House cushion - £25, OMG cushion - £25, Fox cushion - £35, Rug - £180, Light sh

Encouraging reluctant writers

This parenting lark, isn't easy!  Mini has turned from an engaged and happy writer to a reluctant one due to a one off comment from a schoolmate that they couldn't understand his writing. He wants it to be perfect, he wants it to be good, but would rather write nothing than be laughed at.  I have raised the issue with the school, but in the mean time I want to encourage him to write.  He is a very engaged reader which is great and leaves me with lots of hope that this is just a blip. I am keen for it not to feel like a chore, so I am trying to make things fun and engaging and we have been busy doing the following: Making comics I took Mini out to buy a new pen Writing journals about our summer activities Making our own books Playing with the chalk wall in the kitchen and writing menu's  Leaving each other messages Writing letters to pen pals Writing with sticks in the sand at the beach We have also been watching you tube videos by The Etherington Broth

Money Management Tips for Students

Many parents will be sending their children off to university for the first time this September and October and now is the time to start making sure that they are well organised and savvy when it comes to finances and making the most of their money. Budget It is key to make a budget with your child and instill in them the importance of sticking to it.  They need to know where there money is coming from and going too. Insurance Whether your child is moving into halls of residence or sharing a house it is important that you make sure that they are covered.  If they are staying in halls of residence see if your home insurance will c over them under a clause called ‘contents temporarily removed from the home’. At no extra cost, it’ll usually offer cover of up to £5,000. But you need to make sure that all of their possessions are covered once you add in the cost of a phone, tablet, laptop and other electronics it soon adds up.   Banking Many banks try to temp students to sign

What is the difference between a loan and car finance?

Part of being able to save money for me is understanding what all the different terminology means and how it impacts me and my family. One of the things that always confused me was the wording around car finance   I am going to use  BMW car finance  as an example for this post  Contract Hire The best way to look at this is like renting a house,  You pay a set amount of "rent" for the car each month and at the end of the agreed term you hand back the keys and owe no more.    C ar leasing or contract hire often comes with mileage restrictions - charging you by the mile if you exceed those restrictions. Contract Purchase This is the same as contract hire in that you pay a set amount each month,  but includes the option to buy the vehicle over time period or by paying a lump sum at the end of the term.   The benefits of contract purchase over contract hire is that you own the car at the end of the term and that you pay a fixed monthly amount and /or l

Using a Prepaid Credit Card in France

As you know we have recently been on a  trip to France  and dealing with exchange rates can be confusing at the best of times and I have heard many a scare story about people getting confused and spending a lot more than they thought they had.  This is where  Kalixa Pay card  came in to it's own.  It is a  prepaid MasterCard, which you upload money on to the card and then use it like s standard card. You can use it to pay for things both online and in shops with a pin number like any standard card and with the number on the back online. We uploaded our holiday budget on to the card before going (there is an initial £6.95 fee for the card), but no charges after that for topping up your card.  We chose to leave all bar one other card at home when we travelled as it felt saver not having everything with us.  I also made sure that we had cancellation details with us incase of anything nasty happening, but felt safer knowing that there was only a set amount on the card. We used

How to clean your Washing Machine

I am a firm believer in looking after the things you already have and making sure that they last as long as possible and this week I have been dying some white bedding sheets pillar box red for Mini's bed and my washing machine needed a clean.  I clean my machine once a month or once every other month depending on use.  I have found that as I am washing more at 30 degrees, that I need to clean the gunk out of it more regularly.   My current washer is 6 years old and my previous one lasted 11 years. You can see the red stain on the rubber, which wouldn't rub off with a cloth. Materials Bleach White vinegar Cloth or rag Old toothbrush Add two cups of bleach to the powder drawer. Run the washer on a hot wash empty. As we use liquid or powders in the machine and run it at 30 degrees there is often a build up of unused product in the machine.  This will remove it and make sure that there is removed and that there is no buildup of bacteria and help with stai