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Showing posts from 2014

Making a gift for Christmas

MadDad doesn't always have a lot of spare time.  He works really hard and also spends time with the boys, but this year inspired by Worx he spent a couple of hours in the garden yesterday making the boys a pair of stilts. He was sent a selection of power tools and then went out and bought some wood and rope and had some real fun for a couple of hours. He was so impressed with the tools, that he went out and bought the drill himself and then a mini circular saw for his Dad for Christmas (Hope you are not reading this FIL)! The MiniMads were delighted with their stilts (of sorts) and even took them round their friends, who now want MadDad to make them some! Although MadDad is a mild mannered accountant by day he really enjoys tinkering when he isn't under pressure and these tools really made it a pleasure for him. Why not have a look at making something yourself, there are some great how to videos.  Disclosure: We were sent   a  drill driver ,  mini circular s

Our recipe for the perfect family holiday

Holidays, they are so different now we have kids to what they were like before we had kids! But as the boys are getting older I know that we would love to put a Mark Warner holiday to the test,  especially  as my boys are so active.  Ingredients One hard-working office professional Dad One ever working Mum One early rising sports man nine year old over achiever One night-owl book loving eight year old Method Often we hope for a one pot cooking method where we could just throw all the ingredients and their clothing in to a plane and come out the other end perfectly cooked, but actually finding a holiday that suits us all is hard. MadDad - hates sitting by a pool with a book, which I LOVE! Maxi would spend all day every day either in or around water and is ultra competitive, even getting in your swimming costume first is a "thing" Mini finds switching off at the end of the evening hard, but he likes to try to keep up with his brother. Me - Well I like not havin

Be rewarded whilst shopping online

I want to talk to you today about a new way to be rewarded whilst shopping online with . I touched on on my  How to have a Thrifty  Christmas  post , but it deserves a post in its own right. What is PaidShop? isn't just a cashback site, it is much more than that.  The website features flash sales, allows you to check the latest sale items with all major UK retailers and search for voucher codes for favourite shops.  So you can use to search for voucher codes to save you money on your purchase, but you can ALSO get cashback on your purchase. actually rewards you on a number of levels: Cashback on your purchases (you get 100% of the commission) Voucher codes saving you money on your purchases Price comparison tool to help you chose the best value option Flash Sales Rewarded for life for introductions and referrals – for every friend that joins up, you earn 5

Do you have a mad clean before Christmas

There is something about Christmas coming that makes me want to clean up the house.  It might be all the twinkly lights, but I think that it really is something to do with people coming to visit that shames me in to it!  Incase you get that cleaning bug too then why not take a look at my posts on cleaning your oven without chemicals , cleaning your washing machine and cleaning your tumble dryer .  Thanks to Ecomovers for the fab infographic 

Snow Dough recipe to help Frazer Bear

The boys were challenged by House of Fraser to find the perfect ending for their Frazer Bear's story .  The original nide was that they would draw the end, but alas my boys are eight and nine and had other ideas! Check out the story here So this is their ending to this story and I can assure you, no bears were harmed!  Frazer Bear put Baby Bear in the fridge................................................ He then decided to put Baby Bear in the Freezer as the fridge only was 5 degrees and not cold enough to make snow So Frazer Bear decided to make his own snow to show Baby Bear......... It was so much like snow you could even make snow balls with it............. So if you want to make some snow, we decided to share the ingredients with you.  You can even make it cold by putting in the freezer for 10 minutes. Recipe to make your own Snow Dough 2 cups corn flour  1/3 to 1/2 of a cup  baby oil This is so simple to do.  The

Lets keep warm this winter

Can you believe that ti is winter - I can not.  It is so mild out there at the moment, but it will come the colder days and frozen nights.   So I have decided to take part in the Duette Blind competition as my home could seriously do with some new blinds. One the the things that I do as soon as it starts to get dark is close all the blinds and curtains in the house to keep the cold out and make sure we keep the warm in. Follow Jen Walshaw's board Keeping warm this winter on Pinterest. I have put together a Pinterest board with ways that are not only great for keeping a home warm this winter, but also look gorgeous too. A big one for us as a family is to make sure that we are appropriately dressed at home, for me this means PJ's, dressing gowns and slouchy socks and slippers. If the boys are walking round in less than that and I have the heating on then it means we have too warm a house! My other easy to implement tips are: Line your curtains - if you are not hand

Banking with benefits

Do you open your post? Did you know that 1 million UK households do not open their bills. We have been through a period of this after I was very ill when money was non existent and I was too scared to open the envelopes as I did not know how I was going to be able to pay them.   Thankfully we are in a much better place now and I make every effort to save as much money as I can and make my money work smarter. One of the ways to do this is with smart current account like the 123 Current Account from Santander , which gives you cash back on bills that you pay via it. You pay £2 a month for the account, but you it pays you cashback on bills. I worked out that annually I would get £59 back, which would be £35 profit after paying for the account. This is making my money work smarter not harder. Other ways to make your money work smarter include: Saving money on fuel Save money on holidays Collecting points on purchases Save on your water bills   How

20 Kids christmas gift alternatives to toys

If your house is anything like mine then your kids certainly do not need any more toys.  In fact they play with less than 10% of the toys they have and I am beginning to believe that less is more where toys are concerned. So this year we are really cutting back on the toys front and I have been giving people ideas on alternatives that they can give to the boys rather than toys this christmas Subscriptions: Magazine subscriptions Subscriptions to museums, local attractions, petting zoo, soft play,  Money to books each month Food Gifts Cooking lessons Ingredients to cook a specific meal Sweet treats Homemade cookies A Jar of ingredients Popcorn Maker Cookery book Investments Place money directly into a child's  current account Pay in to an investment account Tools: A pocket knife Art supplies Gardening stuff and tools Wind Up Dynamo Torch Binoculars Magnifying glass Microscope Kits Science kits, my boys love c

How to have a thrifty Christmas

A thrifty Christmas doesn't have to mean an austere Christmas.  In fact being thrifty and frugal during the festive season can actually make for a more meaningful Christmas for everyone involved. How to have a Thrifty Christmas Plan Don't worry you have not left it to late to have Christmas on a budget.  You can accomplish this if you start planning now. Second hand is not second best By not buying new you can save a lot of money.  Think about what gifts you can purchase preloved and start looking for them now.  Ebay, local facebook pages, charity shops and friends can be great sources for quality second hand gifts. Look for the best deals Once you have a list of what you need to buy, then make sure you look for the best deal available and before you spend any money check out a cashback site such as . Well actually is more than a cashback site, it features flash sales, allows you to check the latest sale items with all major UK retaile

Spooky Ghost Cake Pops

I love baking, but find cake pops quite daunting.  Dr Oaker sent us some ingredients to try their Spooky Ghost Cake Pops and over the weekend we will be giving them a try. Preparation time : 2 hours plus cooling and chilling Cooking time:  40 minutes plus 10 minutes to melt 2 lots of chocolate ​ Ingredients: For the cake balls: ·  120g Dr. Oetker 72% Cocoa Extra Dark Fine Cooks Chocolate ·  150g soft unsalted butter at room temp ·  200g Light Muscovado Sugar ·  3 medium free range eggs, lightly beaten ·  2 tsp Dr. Oetker Madagascan Vanilla extract ·  125g Plain Flour For the cake pops: ·  2 X 100g bags of Dr. Oetker White Chocolate Chips melted for sticking the balls onto the sticks & coating the cake pops ·  Teaspoon of vegetable oil To decorate the ghosts: ·  1 x  pack of Dr. Oetker White Regal Ice ·  Icing sugar for rolling out ·  Dr. Oetker White Designer Icing for sticking the regal ice to the cake pops ·  Dr. Oetker Jet

Making Jelly Monsters

How often do you tell your kids that they can not play with their food.  Well this weekend we made an exception and had a blast making Jelly (jello) Monsters with a selection of Jellies from  Hartley's Firstly we made the jelly's.  This is great fun for kids.  They cut up the blocks of jelly using scissors, measure the boiling water, mixed, added the cold water, poured into moulds and then took them outside to set.  In fact my boys at nine and wight did this all without me! Then I let the lost with the Jelly, some icing and some sweets and they had THE best time making Jelly Monsters. Even better, once they had finished making them they enjoyed eating them and then kept telling me they had monsters in their tummy. So why not take a leaf out of our book and play with your food this coming weekend.

My Top money saving tips in the Bathroom

I am going to admit now that we don't buy inexpensive bathroom products due to two reasons, one the boys have both suffered with eczema and two I have an issue with SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) making me itch. So it is important for me to make sure that our products last and I am going to admit that I learned this tip from Lizzie at Me and my shadow and it has transformed how much we spend on products and how long they last. Did you know that in the UK we spend around £14 million on toiletries and I am going to admit again that I possibly spend a large proportion of that, so anyway to save money is good to me! So what is this phenomenal tip that I received? Just use less........................ Yes, really just use less and this is more important with products that contain no parabens or SLS as these are often the foaming agent, We are programmed to only think that toiletries, especially soaps and shampoos are only doing their job is they are foaming and that we

Meal plan w/c 29./09/14

I am trying to get back in to menu planning after a week of illness, so here is this week's menu plan.  Only till Thursday as we are off to London on Friday afternoon for some family fun. Monday  Chicken soup with dumplings (using leftover roast chicken) Tuesday Homemade fish, chips and mushy peas Wednesday Homemade pizza and garlic bread Thursday Baked potatoes with beans and cheese What is on your plan for this week?

Talking point - Kids and Inappropriate Selfies

Recent research by  My Voucher Codes  has shown that 38% of 18-24 year olds have sent an inappropriate selfie.   Compare this to the fact that 87% of the parents asked who said that they  didn't  think this is something their  child  would do. The sort of selfies my boys take!  So why the disparity? What worried me about these statistics as a Mum was that this was kids who had SENT an  inappropriate  selfie, not taken one or had one on  their  phone.  When I was growing up photographs were something that were taken on film and sent away to be processed, so there was no way you would take an  inappropriate  picture!  The  only  alternative was a  polaroid  camera and the film was  prohibitively  expensive.  Then there was also the fact that it wasn't so easy to share pictures when I was younger, there was no facebook, Instagram or Snapchat and once the negative and image was destroyed it was gone forever.  Nothing that goes on the internet ever disappear

My Colour choice for this Autumn

My Colour choice by mum-themadhouse featuring a gray armchair

The days are short but the years are long

My boys went back to school this week and I can not believe that they are in Year 4 and Year 5.  It only seems like yesterday that we were bringing each one of them home from the hospital in their car seats. I often wish there was a manual for parenting, that there was a book I could look at or better still I could do a google search and get the answer I am looking for.  Another thing that I really wish someone would invent is a way to bottle up the memories and slow time. I look at those boys now, who seem to be getting bigger by the moment and are currently eating for England and are bottomless and I still remember the fear and concern I had at them being able to carry their tray and cut up their food at school lunch.  I have never been concerned about learning in a typical sense, more their manners and their pastoral care. This year Maxi is a lunchtime buddy and for 15 minutes each lunchtime he helps the reception class with their meals, carrying their tray and cutti

My top #ThriftyFamily tip

If you had to give just one thrifty tip for family living what would it be?  This is something that  Scottish Friendly asked me.  They are currently encouraging people to share their #ThriftyFamily tips with them on twitter  with the chance to win £100. Scottish Friendly launched the #ThriftyFamily campaign with Louie Spence this week. Over the coming weeks Louie will demonstrate some of his favourite money saving tips with a series of videos. These videos will be posted daily via Scottish Friendly’s Vine, Instagram and YouTube accounts. The best tip will be awarded with a £100 My Rewards card prize at a glittering online ceremony on 25 th September (full Ts & Cs here ).     I thought long and hard about this and I have loads of thrifty family tips.   One would be to  always use cash .   Another would be to always plan your purchases . Meal planning was high on the list. Never shopping when you are hungry would be in my top ten too. Second hand is

10 Cardboard roll crafts including a loo roll rocket competition

Do your kids love to junk model as much as mine.  A firm favourite of ours is loo roll crafts (or cardboard tubes from kitchen rolls and wrapping paper). Cardboard tubes are such a versatile craft material, so if this inspires you why not take a look at the crafts below and have some fun with the kids:  It is amazing what you can do with some inspiration and some loo rolls, so grab yours from the recycling pile and get crafty. I love these toilet toll shakers , what a great way to make a toy out of something you have decorated. The boys would love to make these knitting looms . These toilet roll bracelets by Molly Moo are wonderful and perfect for manual dexterity with the weaving involved. I know that we would have so much fun making these loo roll glasses . I look how bright and fun this rocket is from Crafty Morning . How cute would this windmill be, a great way to demonstrate wind power. I am really taken with these changing f

10 Top tips for saving money on fuel

One of our biggest expenses after mortgage and council tax is fuel.  Both utilities and petrol and diesel for our cars.  So any way to save money on fuel is a bonus for me. So my top tips for reducing your fuel consumption. Do not use your car as storage, make sure you are not carrying lots of unnecessary things in the boot, as this will make it heavier and use more fuel to drive Do not use your air-conditioning unless necessary as this also uses fuel. Keep your windows closed, this makes the car more streamlined. Do not leave a roof rack on for longer than necessary as this could add up to 5% to your fuel consumption. Make sure your fuel cap is on correctly to prevent fuel evaporation. Drive as smooth as possible in as high a gear as possible.  Try not to brake excessively. Use cruise control and avoid driving at high speeds.  Try to maintain your speed to keep momentum. Check your tyres are correctly inflated. Turn off your engine if you are going to be idling for more