Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Washing woe

Well today I have put about 5 loads through my washing machine as it was bright sunshine this morning and my Iphone weather forecast confidently told me it wont rain here for the next 5 days.
I have managed to get the first two loads dry but was forced to dash out and rescue my smalls a few minutes ago due to some most unwelcome rain!

I now have a full of soggy socks and havn't been able to spend valuable baby napping time doing more important things like tidying, hoovering or posting a longer blog!!

On a brighter note though do remember to hang your washing outside whenever possible, it doesnt even need to be particularly warm or sunny (just not raining!!) as a good breeze will do wonders for your washing. It really will save you a fortune on tumble drying and save your house from unnecessary dampness from trying to dry everything inside.

If you dont have an outdoor washing line why not take your clothes airer outside?
You could also make one of these

with just some string a clothes hanger and some old pegs, or you can pick one up from most £1 shops/eBay etc for just a few pound.

This can hang outside from your line (to make extra space) from a tree or a beam and quickly bought in and hung inside (I hang mine of the shower rail).

Large items like sheets can even just be spread between the garden furniture to dry.

Line drying not only saves a fortune but also leaves your clothes smelling truly fresh in a way no powder or softener has equaled yet!!

Believe it or not I am about to add a cautionary note to line drying!!(I know) If you or your child has acute eczema or hay fever then their clothes should be washed only with a non-bio and no softener. They should also be dried Indoors as pollen from outside could be an irritant.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Short Dresses and Sunscreen

Phew well its finally raining after a literary boiling day of about 32 degrees here in Warwick!
This morning in my British suncrazed state I decided to wear a dress more suitable for a beach in Majorca than my morning walk to playschool! This, along with the 5 year old tanning base layer found in the cupboard and a tonne of eye make up inspired by the hot weather probably made for one of the most terrifying sights the preschoolers had seen since last halloween! And the much windier walk home resulted in several Marilyn, without the glamour moments attempting to keep my dress well and truely below my knickers despite the breezes best attempts on my way home!

On a more practical note, I only remembered the kids sunscreen 5 minute before leaving the house, so try to remember it as its so so important when their little, use at least factor 25 or higher! (I always use 40 on the kids) and pop a hat on their (if they'll let you) and even though its hot, nice long sleeved light cotton on babies will keep them sun safe too!
You don't need to spend loads of money on expensive brands of sunscreen as they must all adhere to regulations so the supermarkets own really is as good, (if you have time read the Mails's article on Asdas excellent sunscreen). Also many children's centers also sell sunscreen at nearer to a cost price in the summer, especially if you live in the South.

Hope everyone has a great time in the hot weather and remembers to stay sun safe!!

Friday, 24 June 2011

5 a day

know I know it's very Marg Simpson smiley face breakfast but I was bored!!

This couldn't have been easier and went down a storm!

Turkey dinosaurs are £1 for 6 in Tesco right now so u used 33p of dinosaur for the kids to tonight!

The trees are made of some left over rice and broccoli for the leaves and the grass is peas with a blob of ketchup (reduced salt and sugar) sun

Total cost around 50p a dinner.

This is a great way of sneaking your 5 a day my kids like veg anyway but fun meals like this can be a way to introduce new things!
Get creative how about carrot stick tree trunks or sweet corn flowers, cress as grass or sweet potato boulders? The options are endless so get creative and if your little ones are old enough why not let them choose art and dinner! How sophisticated!!

Please share any of your dinner pic tips too!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Ikea Meatballs!

Well yesterday my cupboards were bare and I was stumped as to what to make for dinner that all four of us would eat.
I rumaged through my freezer and found a big pack of meatballs, stared at it for a while and though oh god is this it, not pasta again! ut then I got to thinking and remembered that meatballs can..belive it or not be eaten without pasta! I was trying to think of a good recepie for some sort of stew then had a brainwave to try and re-create Ikea style meatballs!

I love the Ikea meatball meal, as an Ikea family member they are frequently on offer for just 99p for the 9 meatball meal, this to me is a no brainer. If I ever have to go to Coventry (I know, I know) then I always park at Ikea. The parking is free as long as you buy something while you there, and this can be anything however small, so that always saves a few quid. But also their so child friendly its actually unbelievable and with such great value food its unbeatable. But I digress, back to my meatball dinner.

Like I said, I had a packet of prebought meatballs already, however the official Ikea recipe can be found here. It looks dead simple and I'm defiantly going to give this as go soon.
It was however the Gravy/Sauce recipe I was interested in. Now I can believe how simple it was to make, I read the recipe and was highly doubtful this was going to turn out right! (especially as I substituted cream for full fat milk, which we always have in the house anyway) However it all tasted lovely, it was a little thin but I used 1 tablespoon of Cornflour to 2 Tablespoons of sauce mixed together then poured in to thicken it (it says to use white flour, so maybe they do mean cornflour). It tasted delicious.

To be super healthy I served this up with lots of steamed potatoes (although it would be great with mash or chips as well!) and a blog of cranberry sauce.

I was really delighted as the other half ate all of his and even tried to steal of the kids and said this recipe was a definite keeper! Both children loved it, and despite its lack of veg content (I couldve added peas!) I gave them some grapes and banana for pud so everybody finished dinner feeling great.

Just a shame I still seem to be stuck with the pans to wash up today!!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

School Report!

Okay so its not strictly speaking her first school report, just her 3 month review for PlaySchool (Childrens Centre group but still she couldn't have made me more proud! Im now genuinely exited to go to her review for the PlaySchool she attends at Coten End where she spend 3 mornings a week later this month.

Her Key worker Nic is great and I cant thank her enough. All she has is praise for Alice and seemed to genuinely share my excitement at the prospect of dumping Thomas on their hands too in 6 months!!

From chatting with Nic, reading her record book and seeing her progress with respect the the Early Years Foundation Stage I'm really thrilled. Its clear that her strongest point is her consideration for others which I had an incling of because of how nicely she treats Thomas at home everyday (she even shares biscuits with him!!) they were particularly keen to tell me that a new girl started a few weeks ago and Alice made her feel extremely welcome by sharing and taking her under her wing.
Second on the list was her physical ability's which actually exceed what is expected of her age and on the EYFS are more in line with a full time nursery school child's (which is great as Alice isn't even 3 yet!) there are several cute pictures of her showing off at the top of the slide!

Her only weak point is problem solving which I find funny as you can ask anyone we know and they will tell you I have marked Thomas as problem solver since day one as one of the biggest differences between my children, but they did add only seeing her once a week it could be better than it seems (will definitely bring this up at Coten End.

I'm so thrilled to see picture of her jumping and captions to say she counted to 12, a claim I have made for some time but doubt been believed! Also that cheeky little miss is quite capable of taking herself to the toilet, wiping, flushing and washing her hands which is more than can be said for when she is at home!
Im really looking forward to showing the other half her record book as he doesn't often get a chance to see her around other kids her age.

Right proud mummy moment done, reality check, time to wipe the baked bean and banana mixture from the table and tidy up a thousand crayons, again!

Where did cbeebies go mummy?

Well today Alice attends a 2 hour playgroup without me at our local Childrens Center. I have to drive most of the way as and it is about a 40 minute walk so if I were to walk back with Thomas it would be time to walk there again by the time we were home! As I do have to drive though I dont park directly opposite the childrens center, I try to find a space a few roads away so that Alice is able to walk in, as I'm a firm believer in walking being great exercise and that this will set a good example to her for the future (also means she's that bit more likely to want a nap this afternoon, great).

For this 5 minute walk however I have gotten tired of carry a now fairly heavy and extremely wriggly Thomas! So today I popped Alice's old trike in the back of the car, Its not one of those fancy smart trikes, but it does have a parent handle on it and a strap around the waist. To make it more suitable for a rather unstable Thomas I used a length of strong strap/ribbon off a posh shopping bag. I hemmed the end of it and cut a small hole, unscrewed the trikes seat and popped this underneath.
I had also made a loop so that the original tummy strap was able to fit through this, so that now Thomas trike has a more supportive harness.

Another easy way to do this if you also have a trike with no harness is to buy a set of toddler reigns but instead use them to attach to the trike.

Thomas thought this short journey outside the house on trike was amazing and it was also fun to use its basket at the back to grab some milk and bread at the shop. Using the trike was also handy as Thomas now gets very upset that he doesn't get to stay too when Alice is at playschool so at least there was the promise of a fun journey home!

Alas two hours have flown by and it is now almost time to do it all again, and all ive achieved is a luke warm cup of tea and a load through the dishwasher, I have also been wondering why Thomas was so ratty for the 10 minutes its taken me to drink said tea and write this, only to notice his beloved cbeebies has turned into Wimbledon! Thomas clearly doesnt think sports coverage is the best use of our license fee!

I often pop the tele on to BBC2 for the kids TV as I find it a reassuring link back to my own childhood when kids TV used to run out. Despite my best efforts CBeebies and Disney seem to be near permanent fixtures of our home! Not sure how I feel about that, certainly didn't do me and harm to have to watch antiques roadshow on a Sunday or Wimbledon in the summer or haven forbid turn it off because the world was actually more interesting than the Tele!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011


What a great lunch.

I popped to Sainsburys not Tesco at the weekend as I was round that part of Leamington anyway and remembered to stock up on tonnes of their value part bake baguettes while I was there. They selll packs of 2 for 39p, unbelivable! This is by far cheaper than Tesco's or Asda sell the same thing for so I must've bought about 8 packs as they last for a few months in the cupboard and endlessly in the freezer. I love having them in as if you get caught short for bread you can these ready in 10 minutes even from frozen.

The kids have shared one with lots of salad bits and im indulging in a little too much not quite butter spread and a sliver of Ardness Pate (on offer in Sainsburys for £1 a pack) this is a super tasty treat of a lunch and I must've just fed all three of us for under £1! Just had to share that really!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

eBay Selling

Well I have just sold a handful of Alice's old clothes on my eBay for a tidy sum of £25. Considering that most of these were either hand-me-downs or second hand we certainly haven't lost out by her getting lots of good wear out of them.
Its not quite as easy as that though when you first get into selling on eBay, you have to remember that everyone selling wants to make good money, while everyone buying wants to find a bargain. Also you have to bear in mind that both eBay and Pay Pal (the most common form or payment method) charge relatively high fee's.

When it comes to selling you little ones old things try to bear in mind what you would look for yourself at all time. My biggest point would be do not list things at 7.45am just because this is when you have 5 minutes spare over breakfast! Other people just wont be looking at the items ending then. The best time I have found to hook-in mummy buyers are Friday evening between 8-10pm and weekend afternoon - evening. This seems to be when we not only have shopping on the mind but a free 20 minutes too!
This is also great because if you sell things on Friday and Saturday you have a chance to get them packaged and sent on Monday and your feedback will be great if the postage is quick!

Second point is that when listing your item really do make sure its in the right category and that you have put the most looked for words to describe it in the title. For example a girls dress could be described as 'cute dress 3 - 6months nearly new' or as 'Next Girls Pink Dress age 3-6months Flower Pattern' the second description will be returned on alot more searches because of the words it includes, where ever possible include the items brand (although only if it is a good one) colour and size and any significant details. Its not often people actually search for phrases like 'great condion' or 'cute' so try to use your word allowance better.

This leads us on naturally to the third point, take a Nice picture.It only needs to be one as this way you can add the photo free to your listing but try to take it against a plain background (I use either out double bed or my coffee table) and try to capture the whole item if you are only putting one picture. A good quality photo massively increases your chances of a sale. Also don't forget while you can list it for free with just 1 picture, why not add a line like 'For more photo's or questions please do not hesitate to message me and I Will email them to you'. Even f no one does ask this reassures people you are not hiding a giant hole in the back etc.

Remind people if you are selling more than one item with a line such as 'please check out my other items' and consider offering a postage discount. I will regularly 'bulk' buy off one seller and pay more for items by them to get several things at once.

Offer 'Collect in Person' as one of your postage options and remind people of this in your listing, lots of people are happy to pay 99p for a Teeshirt but not the money needed to cover its postage. This gives them a better option if they live nearby!

When choosing your postal service try to make a good calculation of your costs. It is defiantly best to stay cheap, but not to end up making a loss, please remember eBay Will take a final value fee and Pay Pal Will also take a % of your money so try to consider 3 things, fee's, cost of packaging and postal charge. I try to keep my postage to under £2 (usually around £1.39 for a teeshrt) but select the opton of 'other 48hr courier' Please tend to prefer to wait a few days and pay less for items like childrens clothes/toys but for items that could be gifts or celebration related try to offer a choice including a First Class or Signed for option.

Carefully consider what packaging to choose. I have come to the conclusion the wrapping almost all items in brown paper (bought in rolls from Rymans etc) with some parcel tape and handwriting the address's with a marker is the cheapest. If the item is delicate I will pack it out with either old scrunched up newspapers or else lots and lots of carrier bags (this works really well). If i do need to use Jiffy Bags I use recycled ones either of my own or from generous freagle users!

Final point when describing your item remember to include if you live in a pet and smoke free home as most people seem to find this reassuring!

Also dont forget that you can now use eBays mobile app to sell and re-list your items from. This couldnt be easier as you can add the pictures straight off your phone!

Good luck and happy eBaying!!

Thursday, 16 June 2011


Tonight I will be off to get my haircut, washed and styled for the bargain price of £15.
This is all curtsey of the website Groupon.
When this site was first recommended to me I was very skeptical as we've all fallen foul of sites that promise the world and end up producing nothing but pop ups and unwanted subscriptions. However people kept mentioning it so in the end  thought Id at least log on and take a look.
It is broken down into cities with one within easy reach of most areas (mine is Coventry and Warwickshire). There is a new deal each day along with a national deal, and its also fine to buy deals from other cities.
It varies from haircuts and fish pedicures to falconry and garden furniture

Having needed a good trim for a (very) long time when I saw a hair appointment come up in Leamington I thought what the hey I'll try it. So far I have been pleasantly surprised by how easy it has all been. Emtered my card details and Groupon take the money direct, then I called the salon once my 'Groupon' had been emailed to me.  had to quote a couple of numbers up on the screen but they were extreemly happy to take my booking and let me chose a time to suit me instead of them.

So now all I need to do is head along to my appointment this evening and hope the same high standard remains! I will keep you posted with a comment tomorrow.

P.S. there is also a great Groupon app which actually makes it much easier and quicker to check what todays deal is, especially if you like to check several cities.

For those of you loving this to want more KGB Deals and Living Social also have great sites and apps however they still only have the major cities while Groupon seems to have just about everywhere (almost) covered.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Free Magazines, to pay or not to pay?

I took Alice along to the shop with me to buy a few groceries the other day and while we were in there she couldn't take her eyes of 'Girl Talk' magazine with its pinkness and freebies. I thought of all the things she could've fancied (sweets, biscuits etc) a mag really wasn't so bad and steered her in the direction of BBC's ToyBox. I chose this as I have an unshakable love for the beeb and it seemed to have the most freebies.

The sticker box was a little disappointing as it had one small strip in a giant box, but the hook a duck games is great as are the many colourful insects and net to catch them in.

I dont usually even bother to look at the mags section when I do make it to the supermarket as as much as I love a good magazine, having a good browse of all kinds of different things, recepies (esepcially the ones that look yummy and chances are I'll never buy all the ingredients to cook!), health an beauty and general mummying advice etc. I just cant ever seem to justify handing over my hard earned money on something I know will litter up my bathroom floor and be in the recycling a few weeks later!

For the last few years I have ditched the pricey Cosmo subscriptions and swapped them for a bargain busting selection of free mags instead!

My favorite free mag has to be Asda Magazine it comes out monthly and can be found at the end of the tills or around the exits of all Asda's.  

Asda's magazine is great because it covers so many different topics each issue has great family recipes an some goo grown up ones too! Parenting advice sections, Fashion, Healthy living etc. Its presentation is great an it is always packed full of great money saving tips, serving prices food its recipes and best off loads of great asda coupons and competitions for really great prizes. I dont shop in Asda too often but whenever I do I always make sure to pick this one up as the recipes really are great., many of them cut out and stashed in my family faves folder. Incase you dont have a chance to get into Asda yourself they also publish it online for you at 

Next on this list is Boots Health and Beauty magazine. This is technically only free to Advantage Card holders, but I can soundly say I have never been asked to produce one when picking this up, and it is a free to join loyalty card anyway.

This magazine is a great girlie read with loads of brilliant make up tips keeping you right up to date with current trends. Its celeb interviews are great and for a store magazine it isnt too cluttered with annoying ads.I love to pop this one in the change bag for train journeys etc when you just want to flick through something attractive and glossy. I do however have to admit that Health and Beauty magazine is currently badly let down by their website which is nowhere near the standard of the mag.

 I also love Tesco Magazine and their additional RealFood mag. both come out bi-monthly, but hey their is two separate ones!

I find Tesco Magazine is consistently the best of these healthy living articles and they really seem to've picked mums as their target audience as the magazine is always topical for school holidays, Christmas etc with some brilliant little money saving suggestions and home make ideas etc. The website is also good, and easy to navigate.

Finally as a Sky subscriber I qualify for their free magazines, which really is a bumper pack of not only Sky magazine but also Sky Movies Magasine and the best of them all Sky Sports Magasine (this one is best as it will keep the otherhalf occupied for half an hour!)

Between the 3 of them we constantly have a whole shelf of our magazine rack full and whats perfect about these is that they appeal to both men and women, with sky magazine focusing more on women issues and sky sports being more styled on a mens magazine while the moves one tends to be passed between us. 
As you would expect Sky Magazines greatest asset is its wealth of Celeb interviews and insider info, they're always about 5steps ahead of the gossip. 
When quizzing the otherhalf over what he assures me is a genuine love of Sky Sports magazine he initially struggled to provide a better review than 'liking the interviews' leading me to conclude it must be a wealth of glossy pictures, however as I began typing he started to add a stream of other positives (typical man!) and concluded that it makes for 'top toilet reading' and its best feature is keeping him upto date with current sporting events (so that he knows which nights to make sure Im working so his football is uninterrupted!).

These are my top 3 freebies but do remember that most supermarkets/major stores have a free mag, and I mean its free so why not pick it up, even if it does just end up as bunny bedding the next week. Other favourite choices of mine are the Metro (found free on most public transport if you're quick enough) spending hours browsing my Avon catalouge and my digital subscription to Class magazine are my personal faves.

So many companies offer either a free mag instore or free digital subscription their just really is no need to actually hand over the money these days. I get my daily fill of gossip, reviews and real life stories from my Blogs Im following page of my Blogger dashboard, perfect for whiling away 5 mins not cleaning something or someone!!

Does anyone else have any favorites either free or paid for, and what are their best bits?

Monday, 13 June 2011

Oatilicious Face Scrub

Well today the other half has been at home n a shivering wreck that I intially thought may have been the comon or garden football manager syndrome but as the day has progressed Im now forced to accept he is actually ill, and am now back tracking on this mornings lack of sympathy wth a thousand offers of tea and trips to the shop for lucozade.

I went for a really good run today while everyone else was napping!pha but afterwards feeling ultimately grubby  enjoyed a really nice hot shower.

I made up a face scrub Id seen a recipe for last week and was really pleased with it its a really moisturizing and great even for super sensitive skin.
2 Tablespoons of natural yoghurt
1 Heaped teaspoon of Oatbran
Splash of lemon juice.

the oats make this great for moisturizing and leave your skin feeling really soft and smooth while the lemon juice has great cleansing powers!

now to wake up the kids n the hope of getting them back asleep again before work at 7, does it sometimes feel like life doesnt always make sense, or maybe Im just having one of those days!!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Soggy Sunday

Well today has been grey and raining and generally miserable and the other half doesn't feel well so weekend childcare has fallen squarely on my doorstep!

The only highlight in our just as grey as the sky day was my 5pm resolve to get the kids in their waterproofs don my outrageously bright orange kag in a bag and kick a ball round the garden for 20 minutes so that i can convince myself that they will be suitably tired for bedtime!

I usually try to make a roast for Sundays but what with the other half feeling pants I went for a nice quickfix sausage and mash.

I cooked one packet of £12 classic pork sausages on offer from Tescos for £2
Mashed 5 medium sized potatoes out of my Rooster potatoes (only picked because they were £1 a bag)
added a splash of milk a knob of marg and a sprinkle of salt when they were nice and soft and drained and then gave it alll a good mash (this is a great thing to let slightly older children help out with as mashing is great fun, just be careful though if the pan is still hot!).
Pop a big handful of frozen peas and soya beans in a mug with some water in the microwave for a minute or 2, made up half a pint of instant gravy and there we go nice easy warming dinner.
I think this must've cost less than £3 again and has absolutely stuffed me and two toddlers left a whole portion for the other half's lunch tomorrow and 3 sausages now in the fridge for putting in pasta/sandwiches this week great stuff!

Must dash today though as Im now left with my childrens covered in a mixture of mud/mash and on Thomas what I can only hope it gravy and 45minutes to get the bathed to bed and me off to work.....I cant believe Im about to say this, but roll on Monday!!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Crazy Coupon Lady

While trying to get things organised today I remember that I had never updated the address my clubcard was registered too since moving house as when I first went to do this the site had been down and it had ended up in the forgotten half of the to do list after that.

When I logged on I was delighted to see that I had £46 worth of vouchers that had been sent to my preious address unspent. I was expecting a long winded calll to customer services to resolve the unspent voucher issue but was really pleased to see that they tell you the vouchers online codes for you to spend at

I know that the best way to spend your clubcard vouchers is to use the 'Rewards' section as you can get 3 times their value in this section by choosing days out, resaurant tokens (as in my post Half Term Girls Day) air miles and many many other choices. However for some reason I was overpowered by the entirely irrational feeling that maybe the new people living at my old address would start opening my post (after not having done so in nearly a year!) and discover my unsused stash of vouchers. I also remember that as its been a while since I shoped at Tesco direct they had sent me a £7.50 ecoupon to use when I spent £75.00 or more.

This inspired me to revisit my tesco account to do the weekend shop, in total this should've cost me £96.79 however with my multi-buys, eCoupon and £46 of clubcard vouchers all taken off it came to a much more pleased £28.90 including delivery. Brilliant! and Im now saved the torment of the friday night/weekend Tesco run.

I started shopping with extreemly reluctantly at first convinced that it would take me hours to click on every single item I wanted to buy and annoyed at the idea of missing out on my bargains.
However a weekend spent complaing again to the other half about attempts to do the Tesco run with two tantruming toddlers eventually led to a cave in and me agreeing to give it a go.
Since then I have certainly not regretted it. Im lucky enough to have an Iphone so I usually use the Tesco Groceries app to do my shopping and despite having to pay the delivery charge (aywhere between £3.50 and £6 dependant on times) I deffinatly save money over entering the shop!
Not only does it already just know your favourites so all you have to do it tick the box if you want them that week, it also reminds you if you've missed and offer and lets you view all specials in each sections.
I used to spend round £75 a week and return home with lots of additional junk added to please the little ones or my rumbeling tummy. Now I think Im down to about £55 a week and Im saved the nightmare of shopping with the children or having to wrench myself away from eastenders to do it in peace!

I wont lie I can still regualarly be caught on a Sunday afternoon in my local Tescos bargain spotting in the reduced section but I really dont have to 'pop' into the supermaret or the local shops much at all these days as its just so much easier to remember what you want when you've got the cupboard right infront of you, not a 2 year old grabbing at only the things that seem to be breakable.
Our shoppping now also arrives sans carrier bags which I highly approve of as they're not squashed into a never ending pile under my sink now and I have to say Tescos do a much better job and not bruising and breaking my food than I have the patience for after 2 hours of trolly steering!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Argh Giant Spider!

There is a giant spider in my bathtub, simple as that!

While alice was using the toilet this morning I couldn't help it, Iv tried to hard but out came the scream when I saw 8 hairy legs appear from under our bath time penguin in the bath.
Alice was most concerned ad asked what was wrong, while I reassured her nothing was the matter and mummy was playing a game while frantically hunting for some sort of see through tub. (note the tub must be see through to make constant checks on the spider untill such time as it can be removed).
Cue Alice seeing the immense spider 'Oh a love-E spider mumma, he's funny' and being most upset that he was now trapped under the tup and didnt want to play 'tickles'!? (where does she think up these lovely games?!)
I have tried very hard to control my spider reaction over the years since having the kids as I do know that its unreasonable and it wont kill me, sting me, bite me or even scratch (less can be said for the Rabbit) but wanting to pet it really is a step to far!

Now I am left with a giant spider still in my bathtub and curious toddler and me wondering if its okay to ask the dishwasher repair man to remove it!!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

A Mouse took a stroll through a Deep Dark Wood....

Im really thrilled to've just read that Julia Donaldson is the new Children's Laureate
Her books are trualy iconic and will be remembered as bedtime favorites by generations of children, and included classics such as 'The Gruffalo' and 'Room on the Broom'.
Her stories are always vibrant and imaginative and most importantly universally loved by children. It is hard to think of a more deserving winner.

Im also really thrilled to see that she will be continuing to promote childrens learning through the medium of drama/stage and more particularly the use of signing and song for hard of hearing children.

For anyone trying to get their little ones loving poetry try her book 'Crazy Mayonainaisy Mummy' the title alone will give them a giggle and the great poems inside are sure to capture both their attention and imagination.

It is a depressing fact that 52% of parents do not read their childrens bedtime stories, with a massive 47% claiming they didnt have time. I know how nice it is to get the kids to bed at the end of the day and how much your dying for that hour or two alone to regroup but please please please take the time to even read them just one page of a book if thats all you have time for as the benefit they will get from it cannot be measured and with books as good as Julia Donaldsons its impossible not to enjoy their magic yourself.

If you struggle to afford new books then dont forgot your local library is free to join and will have a huge range of attractive children's books, audio books and dvds available to borrow, including children's favorites like The Gruffalo

Energy Price Hikes

Well I heard on the news this morning that energy provider Scottish Power will be raising its prices by 19% and can only assume that the other major energy suppliers will be following suit soon.
I knew prices would go up, but Im genuinely shocked that it will be by this much considering the amount energy prices have risen in the past few years already!
I also find it annoying that they have timed this for the summer when our minds are focused on wishing for the sunshine and hot weather and not concentrating on our huge winter fuel bills.
Despite my best attempts to save on energy last winter we were still left with massive bills that were difficult to pay, and as the other half will confirm Im pretty tight when it comes to the heating at the best of times!

Lucky for us our children will be toddlers not babies next winter so I feel slightly less worried about keeping the house a few degrees cooler and wrapping them up in some big jumpers, but I know that not everyone is so lucky.

My reason for posting though is to remind everyone to be like Scottish Power and catch people off guard with the summer time. Now is the best time to buy insulating ad heating items for your home. Alot of the major retailers will still have these thing on sale making room for more appropriate summer stock, and your local paper/ebay or gumtree are great sources too as people are included to sell these things to make space in the summer, but there are much less people buying so if you are in a position to consider savings for the winter now is the time to act!

After moving into this house last summer we wanted to experience a winter in it to see where the problems lie.
The major things I will be fixing prewinter are making sure the heating is set on a timer only and not 'sneaked on' during the day! and investing in a freestanding electric fire for the lounge. We wasted alot of money last year by heating the whole house when we were only in one room, so this year Im going to put a fire (and fireguard!!) in the lounge to reduce this problem. Also we have very draughty flooring in our lounge so a tick rug along the edge where the gap is should help too.
(dont forget when looking for rugs/carpets to consider posting a message on your local freegal as people are often changing their colour schemes and happy to give away their old rug/carpets).

Also if you have draughty windows that you cant change (as we did in our old house) then hanging thick lined curtains will at least help to retain the heat!

If anyone else has some great tips to share then please leave a comment!

Monday, 6 June 2011

Run to the Beat

Well today I have eaten early with the kids because I am going jogging this evening.
I am running the Run to the Beat half marathon at the end of September, and while I have been for a few runs I haven't really got quite as into it as Id hoped and had started making excuses..the usual work, the kids, too tired, Eastenders is on!
But I had a letter from Scope (who Im running for) reminded me of all their good work and with some tips for my fundraising and running. This reminded me of all the reasons I decided to do this run in the first place (Raising money for an amazing charity, Trying to finally lose some mummy blubba and being a step closer to ticking the full marathon of the bucket list!) and I felt really guilty for the lack of commitment to my training.
I found a link to Runners World Smart Coach which scope had sent me and checked out my training program. Now I cant say I understand everything thats on their (2mi@19:08 ?! can anyone help me?!) but Im going to go for a 2 mile run for sure and try and work out what the rest means to stay on track. I like how the training program looks though as it really does seem to build you up to the longer distance in stages, so fingers crossed I can stick to it and be ready for the big day.

Now just to pick some good running tracks to pop on the Iphone and find something suitably decent to go for my run in, hopefully I will still be here to do more blogging tomorrow and not collapsed in a ditch between here and Kenilworth!!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Biscuit Baking

Well today me and Alice have been baking biscuits and to find a recipe I dug out an old favorite, Bridget Jones - Kids Cookbook. I was given this as a child and loved it so much I still have it today!
Its a great book because the recipes rang from making a sandwich to proper dinners and really are all child friendly.
We were making 'Basic Busicuits' today and these are great because they really do only take about 15 minutes to make (yep eve with a toddler doing most of the 'making') and about 15 minutes in the oven so even the most impatient of toddlers wont have too long to devour their handiwork!
The recipe's really simply too :o)

225g Plain Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
100g Butter or Margarine (i even substitute this for the special 'baking spreads' the supermarkets make)
40g Icing sugar
2 Egg Yolks
1 teaspoon Vanilla Essence.

Preheat oven to Gas 4 and grease your baking trays,
Put flour and baking powder in a bowl and stir.
Cut the butter up into small pieces (I let Alice do this herself with a pair of plastic dough scissors)
Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles bread crumbs (Alice loves getting her hands messy and rubbing it all in too here)
Stir in the icing sugar
Make a well (although this never happens in ours!) and add the vanilla essence and the egg yolks.
Stir this in until the mixtures turns into clumps (Alice finds this part a little trickier but enjoys us each taking turns to try)
Mold it together into a ball with your hands
Flour a surface and roll out  the dough (together!!)  until it is about 5mm thick.
Then cut the dough into any shapes you like, if you dont have cutters then you could use a blunt knife to make letters/shapes or a plastic cup to make circles.
Re-roll the dough until its all been cut and used then pop your biscuits on the baking trays.
Place near the top of the oven for 15 minutes or until browned.

We then took them out to cool and decided what topping to have, we made a simple icing out of icing sugar and water and then I let Alice choose the colour and flavor, todays creations were yummy green straberry flavor  (we only did half the batch with icing though just to still feel healthy as its fun to add the topping but the kids love them either way!)
Other good ideas are to pop some choc chips in the dough, plain white icing with any type of sprinkles, glace cherries cut up etc endless possibility's.

These made for a really fun and yummy treat and the plain ones can stay in the tin for some midweek nibbling!

Friday, 3 June 2011

Picking the right TV Subscription

Well this morning we've all just been chilling our and relaxing a bit as its been a pretty busy week for the kids so quite nice just to spend a quite morning at home.
Alice and Thomas were loving watching 'How To Train your Dragon' for about the 4th time in a week and it reminded me that I wanted to post something about this.
When I talk to friends their often surprised that we do have the full sky package and I know a lot of people a lot better of than us who think the full subscription is excessive and wasteful. However when deciding this was the package that suited us we really did take a lot of things into account, and I know that we make a saving every month by paying Sky that little bit extra.
Our package includes our phone line rental, free evening and weekend land line calls, standard broadband and Sky TV including Sky Sports and Movies. This all comes in at around £60 a month so is admittedly one of our bigger bills.
Now I know most people dont justify the Sports and the Movies but we worked out that in our preSky days we would've gone to the cinema as a couple at least once a month, and would undoubted go more (and certainly not less) now that we have the children so this is a saving of at least £10 a month, our bigger movie spend however was between buying films and Blockbuster. We would often buy 2 or 3 cheap DVDs a months costing us about £15 and then while we didn't use blockbuster too often it certainly totaled around £40 a year so another £3 a month.
So on having the movies alone we save around £27 a month compared to the old days!

Then the sports, now I wont lie neither of us ever spend hundred on going to see live sport, but we both like the cricket and my other half is a football fan. While we didn't used to have to directly pay money to see sports beforehand if a match was (as it inevitably was) on Sky it did mean a trip to the local pub.
If this was to meet a few friends then you can obviously except a few pints these days to come in at about £6 and if we went as a family then it would be a lot more as you know what kids are like..they seem to want feeding and watering too!!
So again around a £24 a month saving minimum

So between the movies and the sports we save £51 a month, take this away from our sky subscription and you've got £9, now as far as I'm aware you cant even pay your BT Line rental for this.

So in conclusion, sometime you have to remember that the obvious ways to save arnt always actually the best!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

I love Marks and Spencer

I love M&S its as simple as that!
In my ideal world I would live in their clothes and eat all their yummy sandwiches everyday!
Yesterday I popped in for a Bra fitting in the hope that I might need a different size but also just because my year old non wired (post baby) saggy bras were finally driving me mad!
I was bought down to earth by the reminder that my boobs were still unfortunately the same old 36 A's they have been since Alice wad born well Barr the couple of Dolly Parton DD weeks post baby one and two. Despite my years of patience as a teen that they would one day grow and then the promise of vabies equalling bigger boobs (for more than a week)all that seems to've got bigger is me not the boobs as I now crave my ore baby 32 A's!!
But back to the point I went to look around for something new in my ridiculous size when I encounter M&S's new super padded '2 sizes bigger' (Yes two sizes bigger!!) bra. was sceptical as wonder bras etc have always looked more like some sort of pointy sixties space woman outfit on me but couldn't belivr how great this bra was!
I blew my entire (modest) budget and spent £22 on this and it's fab looks brilliant on and in tempted to now never take it back off!!
I'm sure this can be justified as having saved me thousands on a boob job!
Bow I wonder if I could wear. 38 C over the top and have DD boobs!!!

Car Window Travel Hell

Well tomorrow we are driving the 150 odd miles from here down to Chichester to see my brother in law and his family.
For a long time these long journeys were fine as our precious bundles of joy would cry for 10 minutes and then quickly drift off into a content car sleep (that special sleep all children under the age of 18 months just cant resist!).
However last time we attempted this journey there was the normal period of crying, but not followed by the blissful sleep oh no there was a wants list and so more crying and some throwing and kicking us in the back and then finally the window was being wound down. This was annoying but not so bad in itself, Alice at least seemed entertained for half an hour or so. And then it happened...half way down the A34 a curious voice asking 'where the wellie gone is heard from the back' and yes yes she has actually done it the lovely gorgeous pair of boots I had bought her only 2 days before is now one lovely gorgeous boot on one little foot the other now somewhere several miles down the road between Oxford and Newbury. Cue massive telling of,f threats of naughty step upon arrival at the brother in laws, more telling off, crying and a final telling off.
The kids did get quieter, just that it was me spending the rest of the journey whinging after this!!

So today (with journey in mind again tomorrow) I have resorted to eHow and used their extremely clever 'dishcloth' technique to remove my daughters window crank.
I read the article simply stating to leave the window fully wound down (i left mine fully up as I have no idea how to pull a fully down window back up ad dont want to look up two car related fixes in one day!) then got my yellow duster (no dishcloth to be found) and squeezed it into the gap between crank handle and door. wiggled it around for a minute and ping I couldn't belive it, off came the entire crank handle!
So now having placed these 'spare' parts in a sandwich bag in the glove box, never to be required again untill we sell the car!! I shall bask in my window up glory!