Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Lazy days

Today we weren't entirely sure what we were going to do. We had a  parcel coming which was our new trampoline net which we have been waiting for, for a very long time (lots of debates and difficulties with the company GRR!!). Parcel arrived then we decided to sit and do our own things for a little; computer games, knitting and reading were on the list.

We had lunch and the I said no more vegging lets do something. Stephanie wanted to go and try again at geocaching. Dylan wanted to walk to the post office place to collect a computer thing we missed yesterday there and back is a 5 mile walk in total. Dylan wanted to go by himself so Stephanie and I headed in the opposite direction. We didn't manage to find any of the geocaches, I think I need to look at getting a compass or something and not just look at the clues and try and guess where they are. Will head over to the geocache website later and see what they recommend. Although we didn't find any geocaches we did enjoy our walk. It was around 4 miles long. Here's some pics;

Stephanie loves this part of the walk, it is a public right of way across a field. She says that it looks like the corn is dancing as she walks through the field (the wind blows a lot here).
Looking to see if there was anywhere in the tree for a geocache to be hidden.

Climbing a cliff

Studying a jelly fish

Very excited, she had found a hatched egg. We are trying to work out what this white egg night belong to this evening.
We are now all home after our walks we have had dinner, shared some of my chocolates and the children are now playing on the wii. We have had a chilled and free day. Bliss!


We went to the cinema today, we went today as it is cheap Tuesday so cost considerably less for us to go. We saw Monsters University something I promised several months ago. Going on a Tuesday means that it cost £21.70 for the 3 of us as opposed to £25.90. Also as I keep the 3d glasses and take them this saves an additional £3 buying new on the occasions we do go to the cinema.
We also saved ££'s as we took our food with us. I had made chicken pasties for lunch, as we were at the 11.45 showing they were wrapped in foil to keep them warm and we ate those in there. I made squash to drink in our reused bottles and popped my own corn and put into portion sized bags before I left. I also packed 3 Freddo bars but they are still in my bag.
So although it is an expensive treat to go to the cinema I saved a lot by going on Tuesday and taking all our own nibbles. I could have saved another £5 by watching in 2d rather than 3d.

I am joining in with Elaine in decluttering. Elaine is running a link up where you delcutter your home in 10 days. From Elaine's blog the aim is to;

" rules of engagement are -


Bronze Medal – for tossing 100 bits of crappy crap crap out over the next ten days.

Silver Medal – for making 100 bits of “stuff” leave the building.

Gold medal – for making 100 carrier bags (or size equivalent) out the door in ten days."

So far I have put 10 items into the boot-fair pile, I need to boot-fair this weekend as it is taking over my bedroom bow the attic is pretty much full! I have given a binbag full of old clothes to a neighbour (that's 2 carrier bags right?) 1 carrier bag of toot for recycling from Stephanie's room and 1 carrier bag of recycling from my bedroom. So I am pleased that the house will get less cluttered and I get enthused by a challenge. Well done Elaine for hosting this much needed challenge.
I am very impressed as whilst I was sorting I have found lots of things I forgot were there. My favourite so far are these;
They are scrap books from before they started school. Dylan's was made by me when I was child-minding. I used it as a way to show parents what we do each day. Stephanie's was her record from day nursery so has a lot of photos, observations of her play and pictures she made in it. I knew I  had them in the house somewhere it was lovely to look through and reminisce. Juts look at them both;

My babies have got so grown up!

Monday, 29 July 2013

And it's complete

Today I finished decorating the upstairs bathroom. I don't know why I have put it off for so long it has taken me less than 24 hours to complete it.

This is the only picture I could find of the bathroom to give you a bit of a before picture. The cabinet came off the wall (it broke) about a month ago. The rest was as it was when we moved in.
This is it now

It's not an easy room to photograph the colours aren't showing up quite right. But here it is.
Total cost for this project £0.00!!
Yes you did read that correctly. See the paint was free, it was the ends of paints from previous rooms. The curtain is fabric leftover from a previous project. Everything else was already in the room. I could do with a new shower curtain but the one we have works perfectly well so when I next go shopping if I see a reasonably priced one I like I will get it, but until then bathroom made over and no money spent- RESULT!

Use it up!

This time I am not talking about using up the food we have.
I want to redecorate the 2 rooms which have not been touched since we moved here 3 years ago- the upstairs bathroom and my bedroom. I have ideas for how I want them both to look but money and lack of time have meant that they haven't yet happened.
I want to get both done this summer holiday. So I used knowledge of mixing colours to make the colour I wanted for the bathroom using just old cans of paint leftovers from decorating the rest of the house.
that's 2 tins of blue and one pink- can you guess the colour I am aiming for yet?
The middle tin is so old I couldn't open it but that's fine I can still do what I want.
I mixd some of the blue into the pink, then a little more. It made a lovely pastel lilac colour, not quite as bold a shade as I want. So back in the shed I go I know there's another leftover pot to help me in there;
Yes the splash of red made all the difference.
It still looked a touch light, so in the pot of leftover blue I mixed in a little red and made a deeper shade. I came inside to try them both on the wall and see which one looked best.
d'oh and realised I had forgotten to factor in I was sitting in a very sunny garden mixing the paint so the paler colour (the first I made) was darker than it looked outside. the first colour I made is the shade at the top. I decided that is the one I liked best. So I have just finished the second coat of paint in the bathroom and it is looking fantastic. I have an idea for how to finish the job using mostly what I have already in stashes in the house. Look out for the big reveal when I finish in the next day or 2!

I may need to buy a little wood as I have  plan but apart from that this room makeover has cost me nothing so far!

Sunday, 28 July 2013

The charcoal challenge bbq

I have posted before that I was going to take part in the money supermarket's charcoal challenge. We had our bbq yesterday.

For the food I have spent the last couple of weeks collecting up the items needed as and when I saw them on offer and stashed any with short life in the freezer.

we had bread rolls, finger and burger brought in the reduced section for 19p a packet instead of 50+p
We had sausages bought on offer.
The chicken breasts for the kebabs were bought on offer- 2kg for £3.50, as were the mixed drumsticks and thighs for around the same price. The marinades were bought from approved foods.
we also had salads, dips and crisps, chicken nuggets and sausage rolls again all *special priced*
I bought the soft drinks on special offer we had coke and lemonade. I usually don't buy cans however the big boxes were on offer at £4 in Asda so I bought a couple of those. I made the cakes myself, we had iced muffins and mini Victoria sandwichs.
The only thing I didn't managed to buy either reduced or on offer was the burgers. I ended up buying a box of premium priced burgers £4 for 12 as there seemed to be no supermarket ones when I went on Friday to one supermarket then Saturday to another as I had forgotten them in the lead up to the bbq shopping.

I am sure there was more but I can't remember what, oh the charcoals for the barbecue were also on offer at  2 bags for £8.

How many did this little haul feed? 9 adults and 7 children. We all had more than enough food, in fact there are some leftovers which I will eat up over the next few days.

So the best way to get the value for money for a bbq is to plan in advance and pick up offers when you see them. However please remember that this is England and if you plan a bbq this will happen about half hour before everyone is due to arrive;

Yep I had been sitting in beautiful sunshine all morning. So got out everything for the bbq and this came over bringing rain and thunder and lightning just as the first guests were arriving. I through everything back in the shed and declared it an oven-cue instead. However in ten minutes the sun had come back out. So out we headed and did indeed have our bbq.
As we were finishing eating and were sitting around chatting, the children were putting on shows for us. they got the facepaints out and we had a facepaint fight, as you do! LOL
Then the rain and thunder came back. So did we run in scared, don't be silly. we danced in it and puddle jumped!

What a fantastic time we all had.




Saturday, 27 July 2013

Medway mile

Last night was the yearly Olympic countdown for our area. It began as a countdown to the London Olympics several years ago, it has proved such a popular event it has been continued to countdown to the Brazil Olympics.

It is a family event, lots of free things happening before the races. Then there are short children's races grouped in age groups. Then the competitive/elite race for adults who can run the mile in less than 7 minutes, then the mass family race for those who just want to get around it.

Here are some before pictures
Stephanie is very into Harry Potter at the moment. She loved the high fives she got from teenagers who thought it was great she had a Harry scar!

The 'screeching slide'

Since she last climbed this wall she has developed fear, and didn't get much above this. Bless her

Army assault course

Making a smoothie

Hula hooping
Then it was time for the race. I am so proud of my little runner, she completed the mile in 11 minutes.
A friend took this picture of us at the finish line.
At the end there was this fantastic band, you could completely loose yourself in the beat of the music. In fact we did we lay on the grass just listening for several minutes while we recovered.
Then we were off to do some more of the activities. Back on the bouncy slides, the smoothie bike, hula hoops and a game of Frisbee.

Fruit shy!
Whilst we were doing all this there were various dancers on stage in brazillian style, colourful costumes. All very good but I didn't get zany pictures as battery was running low by then.
Finished with the amazing fireworks.
Another fantastic event, can't wait for next years :-D

Friday, 26 July 2013


I have to keep reminding myself it is Friday not Saturday. My first day not in work and I'm confused already. My body clock is still in work mode too so I'm waking a couple of hours before Stephanie which is actually quite nice. I get up shower, then sit and knit.

Mums baby blanket finished for my sister.

I have cast on a little something for me

Then qhenwhen Stephanie gets up we run errands and have fun. Let's hope rest of holiday is so perfect :-)

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Another after work adventure

Today Stephanie and I went in to do some more sorting and organising in my classroom. That's it now until September I am not going in anymore. The cleaners need to get in next week to do their big clean and then school closes until September so I am done!

After work today Stephanie and I walked along the road to the beach next to the school.
A little paddle as tide was in, there were some of the children from school also paddling, they were very amused to see me in the holidays!
As it is a coastal park we also walked along some of the footpaths and walk ways that have been created. As we walked along Stephanie recognised the sounds of the crickets so we stopped to see what we could spott.

a teeny tiny snail

You may need to click this picture to spot the critter in this one, he's right in the centre;

Climbing a mound, apparently this is better with bare feet

Now we are chilling I have been organising bills as it is payday. My car insurance is cheaper on the new car which is a bonus :-)
Tomorrow we have a busy afternoon/evening planned its the local annual Olympics celebrations so we will be joining in with that.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

1st day of the summer holidays

Today it was the first day of the summer holidays for the three of us. I had my gas safety check first thing, then popped to school with Stephanie for a few hours. Dylan has taken himself to stay at his Dad's for a few days.
After we got back from school I had my niece and nephew for a couple of hours while my sister and her partner went for a baby scan. We had lots of fun in my sunny garden look what we have been upto;

A jug of water being tipped and poured as cups of tea provided a lot of fun. Then this progressed to filling up plant pots and discovering;

So I added some toys from the loft.
And we have our very own mud kitchen! Complete with chalked menu on the fence.
I can see this providing lots of fun over the holidays!
Tomorrow I am off to work for some more classroom organising then we might go for a wander along the beach next to the school. Who knows what adventure we might get into there, or after we leave, this is why I love the holidays :-)

Sunday, 21 July 2013

a pottering kind of weekend.

I have loved this weekend, it has been very calming. Friday night was a meal and a few drinks for the end of term as 1 is off to China and another Chicago. A great time was had by all.
Then up early Saturday morning to help decorate the school float for the village carnival. It was good fun and fantastic to see how it all comes together. I remember riding on the float in the village when I was a child and loved it. I ended up riding on the float as well, I loved it as much as I did as a child- I'm such a big kid! I am definitely doing it again next year and sneaking Stephanie on with me as I think she will love it too.

Today Dylan and I spent some time trying to fix my bike as we plan in cycling much more this summer. We couldn't do it, we had to call in the big guns AKA granddad. He has shown us what is wrong but by the time he managed to get here and figure it out the shops were shut. Still as Dylan is not in school tomorrow he is going to run some errands for me as I have been selling on Amazon again, so while he is posting things he'll pop into Wilkinsons and get the part I need. Expect lots of cycling posts very soon!

I have also spent time pottering in the garden. We have made the hard decision to give up our allotment we just don't have time for it now I am working full time. So we will be clearing out my shed over the next week and handing back the keys. I am a little saddened by this, but we have plans to make our small garden much more productive to try and compensate a little. I had a tidy up and then Dylan and I planted some more seeds. Have a peek how it is going now;

Up by the back gate I'd love to have some plants growing up in a kind of arch here, I need to look into this more.
Lots of strawberries and peas growing here at the moment.

this is the right hand fence if I stand with the house behind me. Growing in the containers you can see here are carrots, salad leaves, potatoes, dwarf beans, plum tomatoes and cherry tomatoes.

this is the left hand side by the back door, we have peas and strawberries in the baskets, my lovely large raspberry bush and our greenhouse that has lost its cover. At the moment not a problem as it is the sunniest part of the garden, hence the frazzled plants!
We have planted lots into the greenhouse today.

This is 'Stephanie's garden' she has mixed flowers and strawberries growing in her containers.

The greenhouse looking slightly more organised.

Then finally what do you do with some over ripe bananas?? Make cake of course! Today I experimented and made chocolate and banana cake, it tastes more of bananas than chocolate and is very yummy. I might have a little with some cream I bought reduced earlier soon.

An expensive purchase.

I have always owned old card, however the last one I had was so unreliable and turns out it had BIG problems with it, I have taken a  big step and purchased a brand new car. I spent a long time researching cars with good reviews, ones which are practical for our family and which I can (just!) afford. After several weeks deliberation I traded in the old one for this;

I love it! It is fantastic to handle, it is shiny and it's mine.
I have taken it out on a finance agreement but with some careful penny pinching I am hoping to be able to pay it off sooner rather than later.
I needed a car that is reliable and practical as where I work it is very difficult to get to on public transport. It would take me several hours to get there and cost me time with my children, a LOT in bus fares and almost double in childcare due to the times I would spend travelling. Buying a new, reliable car is a big commitment but financially, and personally for my family the only sensible thing to do at this time.
So given that I have taken out this massive commitment my financial goal of getting on the property ladder has been set back temporarily. I am now aiming to pay off the car loan in as short a time as I can. I will still be exploring and having fun out and about but I will be saving as much as possible towards this rather than a house deposit. Once the car is paid off it is back to the mortgage saving. I am tied into a monthly repayment for 2 years and then I have the lump sum to pay off at the end so that is what I am saving towards as of last week when I signed the finance agreement.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

bargain basement!

Today I popped into Asda to get some fruit for the fruit salad the children have asked to make at school. I decided to peak in the reduced section while I was there, even though I'm supposed to not be buying anything, just using what we have. I saw some lamb steaks 50p for 3, ok I'll make an exception for 50p! So put them in my basket said to Stephanie ok not a lot here lets go and get your brother. the young man stood next to me says don't go, the man says he has some more bargains to come over. OK then I wait thanking him for telling me. Thank goodness he did look what I got;
All of those packs of meat were just 50p each, the breads reduced to 47p. There is a bag of apples there, I had to pay full price £1.50 for those but I do like the children to have their fresh fruit and veg and we have run out. This little lot cost me £5.46. Just that large piece of beef at the front had an original price of £10.50! I would never have paid that much though. So yes I have broken the just use it up challenge but it would have been silly to walk away.
I owe a very big thank you to the young man who told me to stay put!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

more from the Hampton Court Flower show

While I was at the Hampton court flower show I had a lot of information given to me. I learnt about some of the common pests in the garden. I learnt about one of the pests we have, I forget the name but it is in my notebook, they look like witchety grubs from I'm a celebrity get me outta here. They eat the roots of the plants which explains what happened to my flowers. So I will be putting that advice to use.
We also learnt a lot about bees and their importance, whilst I was not ignorant to this ti is useful for other people to tell Stephanie as she believes them more than me. I collected this information;

I will use this both at work and at home. I plan on doing a lot more outdoor learning and trying to get the whole school involved. This should help with our learning about living things. There is also a lot information about growing bee friendly plants.
I also spoke to a lady from ecover and bought this bag of goodies;
A bargain at just £5.00 for all of them.
We were given a parasol by a team member from the Mcarthy and stone garden. Stephanie and I had just looked around the garden and were sat to the side whilst I applied more sunscreen and a lovely lady gave us a parasol. Here is Stephanie playing with it in the garden;
The day really was amazing. I would definitely like to go again.