Tuesday, 29 January 2013


I am trying to address my spending, I have made a spreadsheet that I plan on filling in each time I spend something. That way I can account for every penny that comes out of my bank in the next month. I am doing this so that I can see where money goes and then work out where I can cut back.
You can see where I have scrawled today's car park fee (dental appointment) and I have ordered our farm veg delivery for this week.

How do you track you spending, if you do?

Also this evening I have been exploring this;

I won this book in a giveaway over on Hannah's blog. I can't decide which recipe to try first, the recipe Hannah blogged about which made me enter the giveaway- homemade white chocolate spread or one of these 2;

Both desserts- my sweet tooth is really showing! I am also loving these as I am planning on giving up chocolate for lent again I will definitely need to find something else to support my sweet tooth!
I am loving this book, not only does it have gorgeous looking recipes it also tells you about the history of how vanilla came to be in so many everyday recipes, the processes that different forms of vanilla go through. I love to learn facts such as these so I am sure this book is going to occupy me for many hours!!
I am going to go and enjoy a few more pages while I continue with this;

Sunday, 27 January 2013

End of January round up

I'm plodding through my aims for 2013. I am beginning to see the benefits. I am quite excited as to how the year will pan out as I progress and my home comes together more.

  • to finish decorating/ making our home our own I have almost finished decluttering the kitchen- just the shelves to go before I can start painting. I am hoping to get the ceiling painted next weekend.
  • to save for the future I have continued to send money across each week into my savings for a treat I am trying to save for. I am also adding weekly to my sealed pot, which is filling up nicely even if it is still not sealed. My purse is emptied into the pot each weekend.
  • to enjoy more family fitness
    this weekend Stephanie has had her swimming lesson before going to her Dad's, on Saturday Dylan and I went to the gym where I ran/walked 5k and cycled 5k and today Dylan and I went swimming together where we both swam 1k. 
  • frugal- I want to make what we have go further I did our first approved food shop this week, and then have popped to Asda and Morrisons to get the tin tomatoes, beans, pasta etc I needed to stock up the store cupboard ready for the months dinners etc.
  • to fix things- I have lots of things around the house that need mending/ altering that I haven't got around to doing. I have fixed a dress I put on to go to work in as when I put it on I discovered that a seam had come undone a little.
  • to finish things, I have several craft projects started 2013 is the year to finish things off. I haven't done very much on the cross stitch this week, I have knitted a couple of scarves and I have began crocheting the blanket Stephanie first asked me for last year (doesn't count as a new project if it was requested last year does it?) thank you to Mum and compost woman for your help the other day I have managed o get the square going now- I'm on my 4th time around.

  • How are any aims you set for the year coming along?

    Saturday, 26 January 2013

    To inifinity and beyond!!

    Tonight I went to a stargazing event that was held at a leisure centre locally. I was supposed to be going with Stephanie, by sister and niece. However when I picked up Stephanie after school last night she asked if she could go to her Dad's this weekend. So a quick phone call to check if he had plans or she could go meant it was just me, my sister and niece that went.
    It was a very interesting evening, looking at the constellations in the planetarium and talking to the man in there has led me to believe that the 'star' Stephanie and I have spotted recently, which Stephanie calls 'the Nanny star' as it's the brightest in the sky is actually a planet! Jupiter to be exact. LOL. I must confess that I am glad Stephanie didn't hear that as she may be a little upset that it may not be her nannies watching her. i may see if we can spot it again another day and try our little telescope to look at it.
    It's a shame it was so rainy tonight as there were people there with BIG telescopes they were letting us look through but as it was so cloudy we didn't see anything- typical!
    Still we spoke to some very knowledgeable people and I have a handy little star guide booklet which I can keep handy for our next opportunity to go gazing.

    I'll leave you with some of the pictures my niece took on my phone;

    Friday, 25 January 2013


    I have read about approved food on many blogs recently, recommending them as being good value for food. So thought I would have a try I just have to say Wow!!
    I placed an order for £22.24 and paid £7.10 for delivery so £29.34 in total, the invoice says the rrp for the food I bought was £90.59 so I saved a whopping £68.35!

    I bought;
    2x washing up liquid
    5x herby dumpling mix
    4x nice jars of cake decorations
    1 x shower gel
    1 x curtain hooks and eyes for  a craft project I am planning
    2kg basmati rice
    4x jars of salsa
    2x fajita sauce
    2x pataks curry paste
    6 x tins tuna
    12x2 pack of plain naans
    12x2 pack of garlic and coriander naan
    4 litres apple juice
    case of noodles

    here is Dylan with our shopping

    I had expected the noodles to come in the small packets you get in the supermarket, not the huge box they are in! I was very surprised when I opened the big box and it was full to the top of noodles.
    I have to say I am very impressed with my order and I am still shocked at how little it has cost me. I will definitely use them again.
    I still have enough meats in the freezer not to buy any more for February. I need to write February's menu plan and then I will pop to Asda for the few odd bits I haven't been able to get through approved foods- tin tomatoes etc that form the basis of many of our meals.
    I am very impressed that I managed my challenge not to shop in January  except for buying perishables such as fruit/veg/milk.(pay day today so as pay goes it is now the end of January today as I shop from pay day to pay day).
    I am planning on continuing this challenge through February, to see how far I can stretch the food we have in the house.
    I have 12 items on my grocery shopping list this month, and 7 of those are perishable items so included in my usual weekly shop.

    Thursday, 24 January 2013

    A new scarf

    I felt like a quick make last night after my failure at beginning a crochet blanket. So I made  a scarf using Elaine's pattern. It is the first item completed on my ideas I am loving list.

    I did make some changes to make the scarf how I wanted, instead of the 24 rows to make the plaited detail I knitted 40. I am so pleased with how it has turned out. Thank you Elaine for sharing you great pattern.

    Wednesday, 23 January 2013


    Stephanie has asked me to crochet her a blanket like the one on my bed. I have never started a crochet off before and I am struggling!!

    I can't work out what I am doing wrong, but I keep making the same mistake. Any crocheters out there able to help and put it in laymens terms please?

    Change the world Wednesday.

    I was very surprised to have featured on Reduce footprints Honor society as I have been posting about reducing our clutter in the house as I go about organising my kitchen.

     It is still very much a work in progress but I have made a massive dent in reducing things we no longer use. Here is a little peek at what I have done in there recently.
    These 3 cupboards desperately needed organising;

    So I set aside an hour of my time to do this. I decluttered and took an inventory of what food I have in there to make this;

    Wow look at the difference! This is what I removed from the cupboard;
    This crate contains our camping plates etc as well as old lunch bags we have not used since this school year began. Below are my Christmas serving plates I use every year to put out buffets etc on.

    The camping gear and Christmassy bits get a lot of use, but it is seasonal. So instead of cluttering my kitchen cupboards with them I have decided to put them into the attic. There they are easily fetchable when required but I can use my cupboards in the kitchen better.
    The lunchbags have nothing wrong with them, the children have just outgrown them, so they have been placed on the bootfair pile. As I have organised things I have been building up the pile to go and do a bootfair money raised will be used to fund our summer camping trip.

    All that is left to organise in the kitchen is the clutter on the sides, the window ledge which I want to turn into  a herb growing area and the shelf. Once complete I will be happy to finally decorate in there. I have the paint, I was gifted the curtains just got to get it done :-)

    This is turning into a very long post- sorry! Wasn't intended to be.

    This Week's Challenge: (from reduce footprints)

    Ready for something new? Here you go ...

    This week start an "Action" journal. List the Eco-tasks you'd like to accomplish this year. This can be done in an actual journal, a blog ... or even on a piece of paper. Get the whole family involved since we're often more inclined to follow through on a task if it was our idea in the first place. Put the list of actions somewhere accessible so that it can be referenced often. As actions are completed, mark them off (ah the sense of accomplishment).

    I like the idea of this, give me some time to think I will have a list very soon (I do LOVE a list!)

    Sunday, 20 January 2013

    Snowy Sunday

    We have been being promised snow for a couple of weeks here, yet at the last minute the forecasts change and we haven't had any. Until today!
    I woke up and Dylan came in to tell me its snowing. We have had so many tales of snow appearing that I didn't believe him I had to look out of the window and see it for myself.
    What a lovely day we have had, I spent the morning out playing with the children and my neighbours and children.

    Once we came in we got out of our wet clothes
    And warmed up with some of this;

    Then this afternoon the children went out on their own to play and I stayed inside for  a while.
    I am feeling quite proud of myself I have completed my mending pile I now have no mending to do at all!
    I have also fixed up my sofa cushions so they are a bit firmer;

    I forgot to take the before pictures but they look much better now and are no longer sagging!
    I also hemmed my curtains in the living room so that they fit the window better, it's only been waiting to be done since I move in in April 2010!
    I also have sorted through Stephanie's pyjama drawer and removed 6 pairs of pyjama's and 2 nighties which no longer fit her. She still has way more than are needed! I think there were 7 nighties, 5 pairs of pyjamas and a onesie in there, she has inherited half of them from my niece but that is still far too many.
    I have added the change from my purse to the sealed pot- 75p added this week.
    Now I am off to sit in front of the TV with my cross stitch for a while before bed.

    Friday, 18 January 2013

    How it is going

    Time for the weekly update on my New years aims.

  • to finish decorating/ making our home our own
  • I have almost finished decluttering the kitchen- one cupboard and the shelves to go.
  • to save for the future
  • I have continued to send money across each week into my savings for a treat I am trying to save for.
  • to enjoy more family fitness
  • We have spent time playing on the wii last weekend, and put together a plan to make more time for this. Stephanie's illness put pay to that today. However I got her temp down to 37.8 before bedtime so hopefully we'll be able to spend some time out exercising together this weekend.
    I have moved all chocolate etc from the house to reduce temptation. 
  • frugal- I want to make what we have go further
  • I made all of our dinners this week using food in the house, I have bought some veg and eggs, that is all. I have frozen 6 meals from batch cooked dinners we have had.
  • to fix things- I have lots of things around the house that need mending/ altering that I haven't got around to doing.
  • I have fixed the storage cube in Stephanie's room and put all her ponies away. I fixed something else as well, I remember getting the tool box out, it has escaped me what it was I mended though....
  • to finish things, I have several craft projects started 2013 is the year to finish things off.
  • I am still working on the cross stitch I have done a lot of stitches on the 2nd horse.

    I will leave you there with some pics from our day home poorly;

    We finally have some of the fluffy stuff

    homemade bread and soup for lunch

    building with k'nex in 5 min bursts.
    cross stitch coming along nicely.

    lazy days

    Today we are having a lazy day. When i collected Stephanie last night I was told she had been complaining of a headache all day at school and hadn't been her usual bubbly self. When we got home she had a temperature. She went to bed and woke up the same so we are having a home day.
    Consisting of laying on the sofa watching films. I'm now making soup for lunch, bread has baked.
    It has started snowing now, I'm hoping she will be feeling better soon so if we get a decent amount if snow we can get the sledges out.

    Sunday, 13 January 2013

    Sealed pot update

    This week into the sealed pot goes £1.40. The change left in my purse this evening.

    In answer to SFT's pot question this week My pot lives on the shelf in my work space in the living room. I spend a little time here every evening so it is regularly seen.

    Spot the pot!!

    Thursday, 10 January 2013

    Keeping the momentum

    I am keeping up some momentum in getting the house straight and achieving my New year aims. I am still working on them all I thought I'd update this weeks progress so far

  • to finish decorating/ making our home our own
  • I'm slowly decluttering the kitchen so that I can decorate in there. One cupboard is sorted so far- small steps in 15 mins a day after work
  • to save for the future
  • to enjoy more family fitness
  • I went swimming with Dylan at the weekend- am ashamed to say not only did he swim faster than me he also swam further by 20 lengths! I got out shattered after swimming 60 he carried on to complete 80 in total.  
  • frugal- I want to make what we have go further
  • We menu planned for the month as a family and have stuck to it this week, the menu was made completely of food we already have in the house- no food shopping in January, except for perishables that don't last for a long time
  • to fix things- I have lots of things around the house that need mending/ altering that I haven't got around to doing.
  • This is the mending pile I have completed. It had 2 of Stephanie's dresses which were broken, I combined them to make 1 wearable dress. 1 dressing up dress which needed to be mended all ready to wear. A cross stitch which needed hemming and hanging. It's hemmed just needs hanging now.

  • to finish things, I have several craft projects started 2013 is the year to finish things
    This is a cross titch I started before Stephanie was born a little while ago! I had completed the one horse you can see and then put it down never to be picked up again. I picked it up at the beginning of this week and have started the second horse. It is a large piece with seven horses and their stable. It is going to take a while, but it will be completed this year!
    Combine this weeks achievements with those from last week and I am happy with what I am achieving. I am working on improving my household routine so that it is more manageable and I don't feel so stressed out at weekends to get EVERYTHING done. I have managed to keep on top so far and manage little additional tasks. I'm hoping that I can ingrain this and make for stress free more family fun weekends.

    Tuesday, 8 January 2013

    Trial and error

    Today I got up and was almost out the door when I remembered I hadn't put today's dinner in the slow cooker- I must get back into the habit! I had got the chicken out of the freezer last night ready to turn into chicken curry to cook away ready for when I got in from work today.

    So I had to throw it together quickly so that I wasn't late. I threw into the slow cooker the chicken bits, 1 tin of tomatoes, a few ladles of the vegetable soup from the fridge, some curry powder and a couple of dessert spoons of a Pataks tandoori paste from the cupboard.

    I got home to delicious smells coming from the kitchen. It was a tasty curry! Both children lapped up the lot sauce and all. Not bad as Stephanie doesn't usually eat anything spicy and Dylan thinks vegetables are boy poison! I will DEFINITELY doing this recipe again.

    Monday, 7 January 2013

    The little things in life

    I really have learnt to appreciate the little things in life small thing like the few mintues snuggled on the sofa with Stephanie this evening while she read her school reading books, or the smile on her face when I surprised her by picking her up from school this afternoon. Being a teacher it is not something I get to do very often I really love to pick her up and see her surprise when I do.

    I have spent this evening trying to find an open light house to visit with Stephanie. I have visited one with her before but she doesn't remember. Her class are going to be looking at the Katie Morag stories and looking at islands and lighthouses etc as part of this ( she bought a curriculum newsletter home with her today). None of the lighthouses nearby are open til March so we will have to visit towards the end of this learning. They will also be looking at lifeboats, I know one place locally where we can visit lifeboats, one of the perks of living not far from a major docks- there are lots of boats in all varieties to explore. So will visit with her very soon.

     The light house we climbed a few years back

    Sunday, 6 January 2013

    sealed pot update

    I haven't added much to the pot this week, there was just £1 left in my purse this evening after I had to buy Stephanie new school boots as her feet had grown I ended up with my purse ££ lighter!

    As you can see above I still haven't got around to  a sealed pot, I am liking that at the moment I can see how the pot is doing;

    I haven't counted, I just like the look of the coins creeping up the inside of the pot!

    How are you all getting on?

    Friday, 4 January 2013

    A photo to capture this week

    I take a lot of photos through the week. I have decided to show you one of my favourites from this week. It's from New Years eve;
    This photo sums up what we have been doing this week-

    Having fun!!!

    Thursday, 3 January 2013

    Week 1 of New aims

    Almost a week ago I set out myself some aims for the coming year

  • to finish decorating/ making our home our own
  • to save for the future
  • to enjoy more family fitness
  • frugal- I want to make what we have go further
  • to fix things- I have lots of things around the house that need mending/ altering that I haven't got around to doing.
  • to finish things, I have several craft projects started 2013 is the year to finish things

  • I have been working on these over the past week I thought to keep myself motivated I'd celebrate the successes so far in each area. I have managed so far;

  • to finish decorating/ making our home our own none here yet
  • to save for the future I have saved some money, but this is for my Mum's headstone
  • to enjoy more family fitness We have walked some journeys we would normally drive, we have been digging at the allotment, we have been for a swim this morning.
  • frugal- I want to make what we have go further I have taken an audit of all food in the freezer, I am gong to menu plan the month from this. I have bought several Christmas presents for Christmas 2013 in the sales, as well as some presents for Stephanie's birthday
  • I have just saved on my car insurance, my current insurer wanted to increase my premium to £627 from the £480 I paid last year. I have had no accidents/ claims etc my licence is still clean so I wasn't happy with that. A quick search around the internet and I have a new policy for £409 including full breakdown cover etc etc with a different insurer. Massive money save there!
  • to fix things- I have lots of things around the house that need mending/ altering that I haven't got around to doing. So far I have fixed the step stool, the bars under the mattress on my bed and the kitchen tap.
  • to finish things, I have several craft projects started 2013 is the year to finish things I have finished Stephanie's waterfall cardigan

  • I am pleased with my progress so far, I am hoping to get into a habit of doing a couple of items a week and possibly blogging about them to record my progress and keep me motivated.

    Wednesday, 2 January 2013

    Yarn along

    Happy New year!

    I had a lovely new year celebrated with family, busy but great. I had an ever changing number of people coming for New year dinner due to illness. the least there would have been is 3 the most 13! In the end there were 9 of us around the tables in my little kitchen.

    On with the yarn along- I have nothing new on my needles this evening as I have just (an hour ago!!) finished Stephanie's pink waterfall cardigan;

    I'm reading the book I got for Christmas, how to grow your own food as well as one on the kindle app on my phone Heroes, or Greek fairytales for my children.

    I'm not sure what I am going to cast on next I have a few items which need finishing/fixing so I'm going to try and get on with those first.