Tuesday, 8 September 2009

This and That

David has settled in fine at his new Secondary School. I do think it has helped that Tom also goes so he not only has one big brother but approx 20 surrogate big brothers who he can turn to.

They both leave at 8am to catch the bus and return home approx 3.45pm.

Both come in through the door talking together so I have to make them take turns as to who is telling me first.

Being typical boys they are both also "starving" when they come in so I have been making sure there is a plate of sandwiches and some cake or cookies for them.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

End of the Holidays

Well this is the last few days of the school holidays.

Dave went back to work today, the boys go back to school on Thursday and I start back next Monday.

The next few days will be spent making sure that uniform is correct and trying to get some baked goods into the freezer so that I can pull them out in ind portions for snacks etc.

I'm hoping that once David gets settled at his new school he won't be wanting packed lunch and will just have money for the canteen daily same as Tom, but we will see.

The weather here has turned Autumnal so I will also be sorting out the next thickness quilts and the fleece blankets etc.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

The Pool is Up

Well we have finally got the pool up.

It is only a small 8ft extra large paddling pool but Dave and both boys can fit in it easily and it is good for the boys and a couple of their friends, when they want to cool off.

We have sited it on the side garden, which although is next to the side road as can be seen, has only a couple of cars a day coming past.

Previously we have had it sited in the back garden but the ground is not suitable this year having had a couple of bonfires.

This will now be in use until the weather breaks or we have to refill it, it doesn't have a pump and filter system so the water has to be changed every 3-4 days.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

The Holidays Progress

This week has finally seen some warmer weather.

Last week was rainy and miserable, so the boys were stuck inside.

Thursday my friend is coming with her 2 boys who are the same age as Tom & David. They have been friends since birth, so all get on really well.

Hopefully the weather will stay nice so we can go to the beach, as we haven't been able to do so yet this year.

Monday, 27 July 2009

First Week Over

Well the first week of the holidays is now over.

The boys have spent a few days just chilling, and hanging with their friends.

David has been feeling a little under the weather for a few days, with a heavy head cold.

Tom has been into work for one day, and will go again next week.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Summer Holidays

Today marks the start of the summer holidays from school.

The boys go back on Sept 3.

This first week will be spent just chilling and recharging batteries apart from a trip to the dentist for a checkup.

I will be making lists of what mini projects I would like to achieve whilst we have this break.

I hope to have a couple of baking days to get some supplies into the freezer for when needed.

Dave is having a week off towards the end of the holidays and we will have some family days out. Other than that at present nothing has been planned.

We are not going away as we are saving as much as possible to be hopefully able to go abroad next year posibly to Spain or Italy.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Secondary School Taster DAys

For the next 3 days David is going to the Secondary School he will be going to in September for "taster days".

He was excited and not phased by this prospect at all this morning.

It gives the children an insight into what they will be doing when they move from Primary to Secondary School.

The biggest change for him will be having to get up an hour earlier than usual to get ready and catch the bus at 8am, he's only usually just got up at that time.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Football Presentation

Today is Tom's football clubs Presentation afternoon.

Not only do all the teams get together for some Dads v lads games, there is a BBQ and refreshments.

As Treasurer of the club it has fallen to me to organise the ordering/buying of said refreshments etc and then delegating for pickups with other members who live closer to the shops.

It is usually a fun afternoon which raises some funds for the club, and presents the players with trophies for their individual achievments.

Friday, 26 June 2009

School Trips

David has gone away for the weekend on a school trip to PGL at Caythorpe Court. They left approx half an hour ago and will return for end of school on Monday.

This is for his schools Yr 5 & 6 children; they are sharing a coach with a neighbouring school to keep costs down.

Once there they will split off into their individual groups and their tents.

It will be a fun weekend full of activities, which if last year was anything to go by also very tiring.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Birthday Boy

Today David is 11.

Tonight we are having a takeaway tea, (his choice) and then on Friday we are taking David and four friends to see the new Transformers movie, followed by a McDonalds tea.

He has received some cash, a very large bar of chocolate from Tom, and we have bought him a fleece blanket in his favourite football teams colours, and some Karatte slippers, we are also giving some cahs as well as he would like a new game for the Wii.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Home Made Lemonade

I usually make this up every summer. Dave likes to drink this instead of squash/cordial as it is more refreshing. Although I haven't any at the moment I'm going to put some lemon and lime slices into icecube trays in the freezer so we get ice cubes but also the slice which is lovely to add to this.

It is very quick and easy to make especially if you have water chilling in the fridge beforehand.

6 cups of water
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of lemon juice

Stir it all really well and then chill until required.

Obviously this doesn't keep as a squash would but the quantity can easily be halved or even quartered.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Sporting Hero

Yesterday was David's football teams presentation day.

He was voted Player's Player and
Player who gives 110% to the team.

These are both really well deserved.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Dinners this week

Monday - quick fry beef steak, new potatoes and salad

Tuesday - tuna & egg salad

Wednesday - roast chicken, mashed potatoes and vegetables

Thursday - omelette and salad

Friday - jacket potatoes, choice of fillings

Saturday - burgers

Sunday - Davids presentation with buffet provided

Football Tournaments

The boys both had a football tournament this weekend, David on Saturday and Thomas on Sunday.

Saturday I did a picnic of ham salad wraps, fruit, drinking yogurts, and some hm cookies and obviously plenty of drinks.

The boys had dinner at a friends as myself and Dave were at a wedding reception

Sunday we used some money we had extra to buy a lunch which was jacket potato with a choice of various toppings.

For dinner we had a tuna mayo pasta salad and hm cake and icecream.

Davids team didn't do too well at this particular tournament but Thomas' team which was split into 2 with 6 players on each both got through to the semi-finals and had to play each other with his team team losing; the other team went on on to win the final.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Dinners this week

Sunday - Baked Salmon, new potatoes and salad.

Monday - Takeaway

Tuesday - Salmon fishcakes, hm tater tots, baked beans

Wednesday - Roast Chicken, roast potatoes, yorkshire puddings, vegetables

Thursday - Meatballs & Spaghetti, served with hm tomato sauce and garlic bread

Friday - Omelette & Salad

Saturday - Pizza

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Cooler & Windy

We seem to have taken a step backwards with the weather this last week. We have had cold winds and rain as well.

This weeks dinners have had to go back a step as well and be more warming, especially on days when the boys had had PE or football training.

Jobs have still had to be done despite the weather and yesterday as we had had a clear spell with no rain I cut the front grass; Tom started on the back garden, clearing some weeds and bits.

I have visions in my head as to how I want things to look but they are not getting there fast.

Today Dave and Tom have a football training session this morning as we are starting to get into tournament season, and both boys have a tournament on the weekend of 30/31 May.

David has this past week been doing his SATs which are a national test taken in Yr 6, and Tom has had in house assessments.

Dinner today will be roast chicken, dauphinoise potatoes and salad.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Warmer Weather and Cooking

As we have been getting warmer weather lately, not only has the heating been off for easily over a month, but we have also started to eat lighter meals, which in turn means less usage of the oven etc.

I am still monitoring our electricty usage and it has been crawling downwards.

I try every morning to bake a cake or some cookies in the oven whilst I am baking the bread, and even some mornings will cook the meat needed for the dinner that night.
This is a win win situation; the oven is on during the cheaper costing electricty and the kitchen doesn't get heated later in the day when the sun has heated it.

Usually we will have something like a salad with new potatoes,

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Meal Savings

Over the last couple of weeks I have been rumaging in the freezer and pulling out basically "free" dinners.

These have been made up of the single portions (leftovers) of things that I have previously frozen, and now there are enough to make a family portion when combined; add in some fresh veggies and maybe a carb and dinner for four at very little cost.

My aim over the next few weeks is to continue on this vein and empty the freezer for defrosting so that any excess summer produce I get can be frozen ready for winter use.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Birthday Presents

Tomorrow is Tom's 14 birthday. Where has the time gone!!

Anyways he asked for clothes or the cash to buy said clothes.

So in true savings fashion, we set to looking on Ebay as BNWT labelled clothes can be snapped up at way less than shop prices.

He has worked out how much he wants to spend on each item and has done the bidding etc; so far snapping up 2 t/shirts for less then half the price he would of paid in town and that is including the postage.
Plus I got him to go through www.quidco.com so I get a bit of cashback as well.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Electricity Savings

I have gradually been trying to use more appliances on Economy 7 cheaper electricity over night.

I have so far managed to increase the amount used overnight to 30% on average, compared to only 15% this time last year.

There hasn't been many major changes, just making sure the dishwasher , washing machine and bread machine runs overnight. We don't own a tumble dryer and I line dry as much as is possible or use the indoor airer.

We have already switched all our bulbs which can be to the "eco" variety.

The other main area is to make sure that the boys don't leave their tv's and games consoles on standby when they have finished with them.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Kitchen Appliances

During the last month I have had to purchase a new bread machine, and have a replacement rental washing machine. I have a rental as although costing a monthly fee can be upgraded as and when new models come out and can also be repaired as part of the rental if needed.

For us this has seemed to be the way to go as washing machines don't seem to be built to last more than a couple of years anymore.

The washing machine has a larger size drum and is also an A+ rating on the energy grading, this means that it now will wash more in each load (less loads during the week) but is also good for energy consumption etc.

Just in the 2 weeks since we have had this I have noticed that our electrictiy usage has gone down, and nothing else has changed.

The bread machine was an annoying thing as the old machine worked perfectly well but the pan leaked and it didn't matter how many parts places I contacted a spare one could not be found.
I have kept the old machine in case a pan does become available.

Monday, 2 March 2009


Saturday was my birthday and I had requested a tortilla press as my present from Dave and the boys as I hate having to roll the dough out.

I found one online at a store which also sells the Masa Harina flour, which is the best for making soft tortillas.

It duly arrived in time for the big day so yesterday I made tacos for dinner.

I have recipe I got from online a few years back which makes up the seasoning mix and you just add this to browned drained beef mince, then serve in the cooked soft tortillas with salad and cheese and either sour cream or mayo.

A lovely dinner which didn't cost a fortune.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Household Journal

This is following on from an idea I saw on another blog.

You have a folder which contains all the important phone numbers and account information. It can also contain your master grocery list, which contains all the items you would normally buy on a monthly basis.

This folder can be as complex as you like or as simple as you like.

I'm going to have a simple one which will have a sheet with all the names, account numbers and payment dates of all our monthly bills.

Then I will have a sheet with the annual bills

And finally people like the coalman and chimney sweep who are ongoing bills but we still need to contact them.

I find I never put all these numbers in my address book and then have to rumage around to find the phone number and or account number when it is required.

Friday, 13 February 2009

More Snow

We have had more snow, it started yesterday lunchtime and continued into the night.

The boys and their friends had a great time building snowmen and having snowball fights.

But by the time it was bedtime the snow had turned to rain and so this morning it is just a slushy mess on the ground which will get everything wet.

My main problem with weather like this is getting my laundry dry as I do not own a tumble dryer.

I have an indoor airer and put some on there to dry in the warmth of the house it is then finished off over the radiators as it just need airing; the excess wet clothing last night got draped over some plastic chairs and left in the room in front of the coal fire when we went to bed, lovely and dry this morning.

Dave is having a few days off next week as it is half term and the boys are off school and we are hoping we can get some jobs done in the garden weather permitting; we want to get the greenhouse put together so we can grow salad stuff this year.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Snow Day

Both boys have been sent home due to the snow.

As we are rural and teachers have to travel to get into school, and the bus company had stated they might not be able to bring the children home at the end of the day.

It was ok for us as I work at DS2's school during lunchtime, but I appreciate it is not as easy for other parents who had already gone to work and will have to go home.

As I type the snow has turned into a sleety rain, but more snow is forcast later, so we will see what happens.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Stretching Mince

Some of you may already know this or do this but you can quite easily add oats into mince dishes to make the mince stretch further. You just need to add in extra liquid as the oats absorb loads.

For every lb of mince I add in 2 handfuls of oats and loads of chopped/grated veggies, this will easily stretch the lb of mince into 2lb and thereby not only reduces the cost of the meal but also the cost of the initial cooking as the resulting quantity can be used for 2 or 3 meals instead of 1.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Food Wastage

Food wastage comes in many guises, the bit left on the plate at the end of the meal, that last slice of bread which has gone dry.

There are ways to eliminate most of these.

Food left on plates - serve less and seconds can always be taken if really needed.

Last slice of bread - whizz up for breadcrumbs for use in dishes.

Stocks and gravies - freeze in meal size portions for use later.

Meat from the roast - slice for use in sandwiches or even another meal.

Wine - can be frozen in ice cube trays for adding to casseroles etc.

Veg going limp - chop, blanch and freeze or make into soup or even a veg base for curries etc.

Cheese going dry and hard - grate and freeze for later use.

Cream on the turn - use to make ice cream or whisk up and put blobs on a tray open freeze and use in dishes or with dessert.

Saturday, 24 January 2009


Now that all the Christmas leftovers have really gone, it is worth considering what to do with leftovers from "normal" meals.

With certain dinners I will take out a portion before serving the rest and put it into a suitable container for Dave to take to work for a hot lunch.

Other dinners if there are leftovers I will place into tubs in the freezer and they will be saved up, so that when we have enough portions we have a "leftovers night" buffet style dinner.
Sometimes I will have to add some extra veggies or salad, and maybe bread, but for pennies we have a basically free dinner.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009


Dave and the boys all keep short hair styles, if they went to the barbers it would cost us approx £210 per year.

I bought a set of hair clippers 14 years ago whilst I was pg with DS1.
Neither Dave or the boys have been to a barbers/hairdresser since.

The clippers cost £25 and we have had the blade sharpened once cost £5.
So £30 over 14 years = £2.15 per year for an average of 30 haircuts a year and obviously decreasing.

The annual savings made from this purchase are £207.85 and the longer we can keep the using the clippers even with blade sharpening the more savings will be made.

For myself I have a long style which is kept in a ponytail, so once a month a trim the ends off whilst it is in the ponytail which gives a layered look if down, and with having some natural curl it doesn't matter if the layers aren't quite even.

The savings made by me doing this are approx £100 per year.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Using Supermarkets Less

I used to be a shop in one place girl, get it all done then forget about it.

Now however, I find that I am more inclined to work my shopping trips in with trips for other things, and will even purchase more online if the delivery is less than or equal to petrol and parking costs which is often the case with where I live.

Our local Post Office/Londis store has just had a re-fit and are now selling on behalf of a butcher who is based approx 15 miles away. The butcher is one I would use if I were in that particular town.
If I make an order before 9pm on a Thursday the meat will be delivered on Friday afternoon.

Now from a petrol etc cost point this is a good saving as the PO is only a 3 mile round trip from our house, whereas the butchers is a 25-30 miles round trip and I would have to pay parking costs as well.
The snag is that all the meat comes vac packed in plastic, and whilst I appreciate this is the best option for optimum freshness, it doesn't hold well with the environmental costs.

I have also noticed that some of the things now in the PO seem to be on good offers or are not much more expensive than Tesco etc if you factor in the petrol cost etc.

I think there is going to have to be a fine balance between getting cheaper products but spending on petrol, or paying for dearer products but not on petrol.

Also whilst on this subject I have noticed that the Spar in the next village is also having good offers and I have to go through there once a week for football practice for David.

I would prefer to support the smaller local shops if at all possible so this will be my aim this coming year along with making savings as and when possible.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Christmas 2009

Something I intend to do this next year which I didn't achieve this last year is make our Christmas cards.

For Christmas 2007 I made all the cards we sent as a family, with the boys having a few kids ones purchased during the January sales in 2007.

For Christmas 2008 however I ended up purchasing cards as had only bought some for the boys to use again in the January sales 2008.

I will use the cards we have received this year to be the decoration for the cards which i will make using blanks purchased from Eco-crafts , (thanks Just Gai for this link).

I have enough wrapping paper left still from that purchased in previous years to not need any again for Christmas 2009.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Great Food Savings

I had been given a link to this great website http://www.approvedfood.co.uk/ is a cash & carry warehouse which also sells online.

The main difference being that some things have gone "out of date" or are about to. This is "BEST BEFORE" not "USE BY", so it is perfectly legal to sell this type of goods.

I have received my first order and the goods are of good quality.

Alot of these products are like those you will find in "Instore" and those type of shops and also on market stalls.

The p&p charge is based on weight and is £5.25 for up to 28kg, which is alot of weight.

On MSE there is whole thread dedicated to this company here.

Take a look and you too could make savings.

Saturday, 10 January 2009


David "wanted" some crocs to wear when he goes to Karate as they are easy to slip on and off.

We had agreed that if some could be found at the right price then yes he could have some.

I was given a link to website who were selling a variation of these at £1.60 per pair plus p&p.

Considering that these type of shoes even the cheap version sell at approx £5-£8 this looked to be a good deal.

As the p&p was per order not item I also got myself a pair for using for nipping out to the washing line etc and so the savings were even greater.

Total cost £7.15 for 2 pairs delivered to my door.

(cost at shops etc - £10-£16 plus petrol and time )

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Savings Ideas for the Year

A few ideas we have come up with to help us save during the year are:

Any 5p bits get put into an old 2ltr whiskey bottle.

Any coppers at the end of each week are going into a jar.

As each pay cheque arrives round down to the next £5 and put the difference into a savings account, I will do this direct with internet banking.

Any overtime Dave earns is also being put straight off the top into an online savings account.

Will save all Tesco & Nectar points to use for Christmas groceries as I did in 2008. I joined the Tesco Christmas club so don't get sent the vouchers during the year.

Any cashback earned during the year is again going into an online savings account.

We have stopped using kitchen roll pretty much and use newspaper to wrap veg peelings etc for the compost bin, and have washable cloths to use for spills and as napkins.

All lightbulbs have now been changed over to Eco-friendly.

Meals made with mince are bulked out with oats, lentils and veggies.

Homemade bread is often served with the dinner as this usually negates the need for larger portions.

I am a member of a couple of "click email" sites which award you points for clicking through emails , which in turn can then be either paid in cash or in products.

As I sometimes shop online from Tesco and Sainsburys, I go through www.mysupermarket.co.uk which is affiliated with Ipoints, who will pay you one point for every £ spent; and then you can redeem theese points for DVDs, CDs, vouchers etc, (free goods).

Over 95% of our laundry is washed overnight using the Economy 7 tariff which is cheaper, and we also try to run the diahwasher during the night as well again, cheaper tariff. The laundry is then line dried weather permitting, or hung on an indoor airer, then finished off on the radiators (do not own a tumble dryer).

New Begininings

We have decided to cut our expenditure as much as possible whilst not compromising on our quality of life.

I have joined the "Live on £4000 for a year challenge" ( MSE), although this has been tweaked to include certain things for our family.

The emphasis for this challenge is to be able to pay for all the cost of living expenses whilst still having money left over to be able to :

a) build up an emergency fund
b) realise ones dreams
c) possibly have a few treats along the way

This is an ongoing challenge which could become a way of life.

Thursday, 1 January 2009


Welcome to one of our new blogs for 2009.

This year we as a family are concentrating on 2 things:

Savings and reducing our outgoings and

Recycling and being Green