Monday, 25 December 2017

Xmas is done!

We baked loads... biscuits, Rocky Road, Brownies, Banana bread... 
 We mull our own with star anise, cloves, Cinnamon, sugar and citrus. Lovely!
 Some snowy visitor came down our 'chimney'.
 Cheap bucks fizz type liquid breakfast
 Pandoro - like panatone but plain. A tradition picked up from Italy.  These are lovely!
 The napkins were a Tesco substitute. Not my choice but all good.
The Christmas Pavlova to finish.

Visitors were unavoidably delayed and due to ill health couldn't come. Long story with a reasonable non sad ending.

Kids had a great day.  Off walking tomorrow if the weather holds.

In money saving/frugal style I have collected up gift bags to be reused. I gsaved the ribbon from the xmas crackers and other parcels.  This will be used next year. Our huge chicken has been stripped for dog treats and for curry.
Some gifts have been put away for regifting.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Most of December not Inc Christmas in pics

 Homemade scavenged wreath. Cheap Oasis and hair pins.
 Photo op! Selfie Sleigh in a local shopping centre
 A view I love and am seeing more often. Siblings xxx
 Family tree - more baubles needed!
 Tweeny girl desired a tree. We waited and found one second hand and bought pre loved baubles
 Birthday practice pavlova
 Christmas lights in Carnaby Street Oxford Street were so tasteful they were dull!
 Happy birthday Dad. Love you. Xx

Still have a bit  to do..Baking with kids , general clean before the relatives arrive.   Hopefully fit in a few festive trips-  ice skating and maybe an open air swim!
Tweeny wants to make rocky road and xmas biscuits.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Five frugal things

New coat - Debenhams Classic collection on grey - £8 In great condition. There are often benefits to living in Surrey.  I only buy new underwear tbh. I have Joules wellies, nice new jeans that were unworn... The kids are not adverse to second hand either. Even Tweeny she understands why and doesn't mind from time to time as long as she likes the style.

Haircut in Yorkshire booked. Cheaper than Surrey and the same quality, may even be better. I just have to put up with unruly hair for a while and be patient. I like the hairdresser and have been to the hairdresser in question several times before.

Scavenged xmas wreath. I use cuttings from the garden. estate and local park. Have been doing this for years. Easy way is to use a wreath oasis but some bendy wire works just as well.

Home made recycled present labels. Last years cards have been cut up with pinking shears. I shall look to purchase xmas paper and cards in January.

Soup - time for another batch. I had collected the stems of broccoli, cauliflower and bendy carrots for a while. I throw them in a bag in the freezer. Hand full of lentils, onion, stock cube, old spuds - chop, sweat. boil and stew add in your spices. Biggles likes chilli powder and cumin and curry flavours. Best second day with bread and can be frozen.

I'll get round to pics


Back to work after new year so have tried to do as much as possible online and avoid shops. We have grandparents this year. I don't know if I will be able to do it next year. See how things go.

I am organised. Decs are up. I plan on wrapping etc and baking for the freezer this week if I can. I have a wreath to make and we need to fit in a Santa visit and have numerous pantomime rehearsals for Tweeny girl. We have a trip to Yorkshire arranged and hope to fit in seeing my bud visiting from abroad and also fit in Winter Wonderland.Phew....enough already! Wont be doing as much next year I fear.

As ever have purchased used where we could. Tweeny girl asks for books and knows she will get 2nd hand. She gets more books that way. She likes Jacqueline Wilson. Yes we could use the library however she takes a long time to finish a book. She has a school book to read, her own book, scripts and routines to learn for theatre group and homework and tutoring as well as guitar practise and swimming. She reads a few pages at night before lights out. Library would take forever.

Small boy has second hand plastic figurines. I wont buy new. Plastic is horrible and its way cheaper on  eBay.  He is also getting an easel plus paints and a bike from grandma. They kids do quite well at xmas. The only things Tweeny has asked for is a book on snakes, a mobile phone for when she walks to and home from theatre group ( Alcatel not a posh smart phone or Iphone - its £60 and likely to get broken) and some Jac wilson books. She has some other bits as well. like shoes, underwear, earrings. She has her ears pierced.

I have spread out the gifts between Xmas and her birthday and also have some eBay bargains to put away for the small boy who was born in April.

Sadly I indulged in Amazon. horrible tax and working practices, Tesco online delivery, local butchers, green grocers and Aldi, eBay and charity shops.  Next year it may all be Tesco and Amazon and Ebay.

I have become a fan of the xmas jumper. It solves so many problems on xmas day and eve.  We all have one. Tweeny has inherited mine and is happy. It was a bit small for me.  I have picked up second hand ones for small boy. No need for new clothes for xmas. Always wondered why people went for the new outfit.

We are baking Banana bread. brownies and shortbread biscuits and making pavlova as demanded by Biggles.


I wrote this and never posted it. Way out of date now  but it was a good trip. Camping was hard work with both kids. Tweeny wanted to play with her new found friends when at times I needed her to help supervise the small boy - tent erection and putting away and cooking. Other than that it was a blast. We took in parts of Derbyshire, Rivelin Valley country park, saw Grandma, went open air swimming in Hathersage, explored caves in Castleton, had afternoon tea and went to a family party and went to Magna, the science centre.

Glad we did it. Dog came too but stayed with Grandma who  has dogs. 
Chose a basic but nice campsite which kept costs down. Ate breakfast at the campsite and took sandwiches for lunch. Ate at Grandmas and ate out as well. Cheap eating out - Fish and chips were a treat and it wasn't too expensive for one large fish and chips which fed all of us. 

We could have eaten at the campsite more often and would have done if Biggles had been with us.  Was hard work with the 2 year old even with an electric hookup.  They played till late at night 8pm ish before bed. Fell in with the other kids who were camping. 

Rivelin Valley country park is free. Magna is a 12 month pass. The Peak district was lovely. Lots of views and moorland to explore. Outdoor swimming at Hathersage is expensive but for novelty value we stretched to it. Also paid for the Speedwell boat trip in the cave and the Devils Arse at Castleton.  We didn't get to the castle. Buggies and a steep single track don't mix and the small boy wouldn't have made it far. 

Lovely fish and chips in Castleton for being inland and no where near the sea and a reasonable price. 

 The electric hook up was great to have. We had downloaded films to some tablets which kept Small boy amused when necessary and also gave us something to watch other than reading books in bed and its something we can all do together. . Great addition for the car though especially in M1 traffic jams. 

Glad we did it. Camping is great fun.

We wont be going again until 2019. I have  work/study starting soon.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Summer and other stories.

So we got through the detachment to the ME. Biggles now home. I managed to take the kids away on holiday camping and see relatives.

I go back to work/study on the 8th Jan 2019. 14mth course of work and study and the government pay me a bursary - a decent oen of about 19k and pay for my post grad dip. Am I scared. Yes I am bricking it but one step at a time. It means we will be free to leave here when Tweenager finishes Y6. we wont be flush through the course but we won't have student debt to pay off.

Just busy busy busy. Got much to organise re child care for two. Biggles is starting work early at 7am and leaving early each day other than Thursday. Ideally I take them to day care/before school care and he collects and does extra curricula till I get home. Only two days of extras to see to-Swimming and guitar.

Small boy is still small and doesn't start ft school till 2019 but this is a great opportunity which fits with Biggles likely moving date of Summer 2019 and starting secondary school not to mention the financial aspects. I will miss him very much but we will have from March until September 2019  together and weekends and all of August next year though I will have lots of homework.

Life is lovely and quiet here. Not much military intervention which suits me.

Still frugaling. We have the same sofa we had 6 years ago. it was third hand to us. its still serviceable.

Five frugal things I have done recently

1.Purchased a new to me single spare duvet for small boy for 3.50 from The Princess Alice Shop and two blue pillow cases from another charity shop for 1.00.

2.Tweeny spied  the Honey Badger from the Lion Guard for 1.50. The Lion Guard is his thing this year. Snaffled and put away for xmas.

3.While on holiday we visited a Science Adventure centre call Magna. Visit once and you get 12mth free pass. It's worth going twice or thrice. So when we went back to Sheffield to see Grandma we used our pass. Good day had by both the kids. There is enough there that is accessible for toddlers and tweenies and a great play park. In the summer there is a water splash park. Not paddling pools just squirty stuff.

4.The freezer if full of left over meals. I make enough chilli, soup etc to freeze at least one or two meals. Biggles has a choice of grub to take to work.  We are making at attempt at slimming world. Rather he is. I am doing the cooking but have been rubbish at sticking to it. It's just learning a new way to cook your tried and tested favourites.

5.Slimming world cheaper options - frozen and tinned fruit, plain yogurt flavoured with a few drops of caramel, vanilla or lemon and sweetener.  Am not purchasing muller flavoured yogurts   or other pre flavoured ones when I can save money by doing it myself. Onken fat free flavoured or muller which is most common is not cheap.  Fat free natural or greek yogurt is as cheap as 45p for a 300ml tub from the right supermarket. This lasts two people two days if you have a generous portion for pudding.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Spring Sprung

The last of the wild spring flowers scavenged from off the beaten track. I don't take them from public places. This was the last bunch. The kids enjoy picking them and exploring place to find them. Simple pleasures. 
Ducklings  Squeeeeeeeee!
My favourite view of London from St James Park. We visited at Easter. We walked  a lot. Horse guards. Big Ben, the bridges, the parks are all free. As are many of the museums.  We took a picnic. (We are also members of the Natural History Museum but the weather was acceptable for Easter so we braved outside. We love the NHM so it was worth supporting it  by becoming members.  We get to queue jump, we get the special exhibitions for free and also the cloakroom. We have made our  money back already with two trips. We need the cloakroom  for the picnic stuff, buggy, coats etc.   We also get money off at any of the shops and a magazine.) London doesn't have to be expensive and can be a really cheap day out as long as you stay away from the expensive activities and the tourist tat. We stretch to an ice cream as a treat or if it is a really long day we will do McDonald's or other skank food outlet on the way home if no more picnic food remains.  We are 16 stops away on the train and it takes about an hour to get to Waterloo. Sometimes we wont get back till way  after 6 and kids get hungry.  Generally though the picnic does the job.  Trains leave either every 30 mins or 60 mins depending on the day.

Kendo gurl! 
Tree climbing 101. Small boy and wunda dog. We walk every day. We have a few local walks to choose from.

Still baking, shopping at Aldi,  charity shops, eeking out meals, freezing etc. Life ticks along quite comfortably. Biggles home for R & R soon.  We need to work out a plan. financial and life. Given the state of the government and its self serving poor bashing obsession we need to insure against this for us and our kids, work out a way to get back to the country, save more, etc.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Garden ornaments and pinterest.

Tweeny and I are using up household junk and scavenged detritus like shells and pebbles and other stuff to decorate our sparse, dull and boring garden.
We are considering:
Tealight jam jars decorated with beads
Tin can wind chimes
Drift wood seashell wind chimes
Painted rocks/ painted concrete remnants.
Random tin can and metal chimes
Knife and fork chimes
We are amassing a stash of:
Tin cans
Bottle tops
Garden wire
Wooden bits
Old jewellery for chains and beads etc

All a bit randomly put  together. Pin interest is great for ideas.
We have bought some bells and actual metal chimes from eBay for a few quid. I bought garden wire. All in its about  £12 including wicks. We won't be purchasing anything else. Make do, scavenge, repurpose, freecycle and recycle. 
We hope to make candles too. Have bought the wicks and will use crayons and old bits of wax from tea lights and set them in silicon moulds we already have. 

These are our efforts so far. It's good to do stuff. Neither of us are arty. Like our baking and this blog, it's the process nit the end result. No mastery

Sunday, 26 March 2017

EE BT Sport 3mth free deal Moto GP

Pretty much what it says. If you are an WE customer and like motorbike racing you can get 3 mths free access to the BT sport app. You need WiFi of course. You can watch on your TV if you have a smart TV or your lap top if you can do those techy things.

I only like Moto GP. Season is March to November.  After the three months it's £5 per month. Cheaper than paying for the channel or Moto GP pass.

Biggles pays for BT Sport for  the season and casts it to the TV. He'll be back in August so it's only about £20 I will have to pay for the season. £100+ on MotoGP app.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Earth Hour.

We built a robot during Earth hour. Lit candles in the kitchen and got out some of the recycling boxes I 2as saving for model making. Just a fun quick thing to do.
We can still recycle it. We will recycle more esp the bathroom  rubbish. Two bins needed. We will walk more in nice weather too.

Quite enjoying the domestic hiatus for once.

Italy was a bit too full on domesticity. I am quite enjoying myself here however.  I have enough to keep me busy and its not forever. I have something on the horizon for the future.

Still baking, gardeningish and getting on with it. Lists are being ticked. Kids are joining in.

Taking pleasure in it too.

I have some applications coming up. I need to complete them next Thursday when Small boy goes to a childminder for the day.

Earth hour to night and we will bath by candle light and play hide and seek. Resolve to recycle more. The bathroom rubbish is a point of contention. We should do more with it. So often it is al chucked away in one. At least the boxes and paper and plastic bottles should be sorted.  I'll see what Tweeny girl comes up with too.

Enjoy Mothering Sunday. We are not doign anything in particular. I have a small £5.11 0.83kg Joint of beef to roast.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Busy. Idle hands I have not.

Baking, mending, sorting, decluttering, dig walking, child care, domestic stuff, form filling and banking.

I have a jobs list much of which is spring cleaning or rather spring sorting. I  getting through it. Removing items that are accomplished then adding more when I see or come across something that needs doing. Some of it is fun. Others are just a drag.
Tis the way of the crumbling cookie.
More to do tomorrow. I need to make the most of the nice weather.

Once we have popped put for items - I want to- make headway with the garden planting and maybe wash some reachable windows, get some washing hung out..

Fingers crossed.


Monday, 20 March 2017

Monday list

Made beds
Got kids dressed
Washing put on
School run
Dog walk
Washing hung out inside due to grey clouds
Dishwasher emptied
Banking paper work completed
Form filling and administration
The above interspersed with playing with small boy.
Various phone calls
Nap with boy. I can see the cuddle time diminishing already. Childhood is fleeting.
School run
Snack time
Guitar lesson
Tea time
Cup of tea
Fill dishwasher
Tidy up
Bedtime routine
Prep for tomorrow
Sorted through bed linen, towels and tidied shelves.
Filled a bin bag with old kids clothes for Tweeny girls school's clothes drive.

Peace and quiet.

That's a few more spring cleaning jobs ticked off the list and I'm a bit more organised. Doing little bits when I can.

Toddler group and the post office tomorrow, afternoon dog walk and ice cream on the way home from school maybe...

Sunday, 19 March 2017

The fourth garden since 2010.

It's not out garden. We have it for three years. I don't want to spend much on it. We have spent enough already. The reed screening was enough given that it's not ours.

Basically to justify any garden improvements they need to be considered against the following:
Cheap/low cost
Fun and simple for the kids
Low maintenance

I would love to garden properly and invest in plants and veg etc. Moving in three years and living in rental accommodation it seems  bit pointless.

I have lawn seed. We have muddy a d bald patches. I see lawn as practical.  Makes the outside more accessible and less dirt to be walked in for/by kids and dog

Screening- discourages nosey parkers and I'm more likely to use the garden with the kids and I have more privacy in the living room. You could look straight in. It's a dark house naturally so closing the curtains was quite depressing

Container plant is for the front of the house. We can  take it with us when we move. Was 7.99. Low maintenance and I already had the pot. The front of the house is horrendously dull.

I was given these packets of seeds - English and Scottish Wildflowers.

Oh a whim I have purchased carrot seeds and sunflower seeds.

Where should I plant/grow these seeds. I have a scrubby grassed areas that was likely once a flower bed.

I have the corner plot, the concrete trough and a long window box plastic planter.

The corner plot.
Whats this stuff ? Is it likely to climb? Is is an horrendous weed? I have no clue. The plot needs turning over and putting back to soil. Its a job for a nice day. 

These concrete chunks were all over the corner plot pretending to be a rockery. It was awful. I dug them out and chucked them under the hedge which has been given a number 1 buzz cut back to the bone. It was a monster when we moved in. Same with the other side. Hopeful they will grow back nicer and more luscious. Check the patchy bits of grass. 

Plastic freecycled garden chairs and table. Lots of freecycled garden toys and a shell sandpit from Grandma. I will get sand for it this year. 

The concrete trough I have pulled out the obvious weeds and covered the soil from sunlight in a effort to slow down the weeds. I will pull out the weeds before planting. 

This bush has nice yellow flowers in the winter. Don't know what it's called? This little dude was one of our bad taste Valentines presents. He has lived in Italy and made it back in one piece. Hes one of the severn dwarf's I think, or supposed to be. 

Tweenys hanging thing made many years ago. We should make more as we have loads of old beads and stuff.  This shell mirror is a vile ceramic thing. I wouldn't have it in the house. I chose to hang it out side. Its quite useful if you want to check you have no twigs in your hair. Small pink tin bucket was found in the garden. I may use this as a base of another hanging made with the kids.  That's the plant I bought and re potted just peeking up from the bottom there.

The other side of the garden. Lots of patchy lawn area and scrub where the hedge has been cut back.

I have purchased two packs of carrots. Where should I grow them? Concrete trough? Could I chuck in some seeding potatoes as well? What else could I chuck in for fun? Cheap and cheerful and simple to grow.

I bough these as well. Where do you think? The corner plot once I have dug it over and covered it with compost?

I was either given or sent these wild flowers for free. Corner plot?

 Any advice about that plot in the corner would be greatly appreciated. Its a pain the back side. Should I weed kill first then dig out? I have no idea for areas such as this.
Is that thing a weed?
Any tips for patching up the lawn? 
Flowers in the corner plot or in the concrete trough? 
What's that thing in the corner?  Weed or not?