Saturday, 22 March 2014

Sharing skills

Today I have been sharing how to sew with my sister and niece.

My sister wants to help my niece to make her own dress but doesn't know how to do this.

My niece has drawn a sketch of her dress she wants. So they came round today with fabric and a sketch. I have adapted a pattern I have to make the bodice of the dress. I needed to make it larger as it is one of my patterns for Stephanie which my niece is a little to big for now. So I sketched around the outline to enlarge the pattern on tissue paper. We have started to sew this together.

My sister wanted to make a present for her mother in law for mothers day. So I have shown her how to do this.

I haven't taken a picture of the finished present as I don't think anyone who knows her would see the fist before it has been received, but don't want to take any chances. Her partner also got involved as baby woke up before the button holes were made so he made those, with guidance.
My sister did make me laugh. her parting words were " I didn't know it was so complicated to make your own things I thought it would be easy" Bless her. I did reassure her it is once you have mastered the basics. She needs to gain confidence on the machine. They will be back another day to finish the bodice and then I will need to sort a template for the skirt- I don't have a pattern how she has described so thank fully I have a few days to think about it :-)

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Yummy meals on little cash!

I am still trying to keep the pennies stretching out until payday. I have a big pay-out month coming up what with bus passes due, Stephanie's birthday next month and my sisters wedding all to cater for I need to save wherever I can!

Last night was a cheap dinner, we had chicken and vegetable curries with rice and naan bread. Doesn't sound that cheap? Well it was my mother in law made the curries- she knows I love her curry so always saves a couple of Tupperware's for me when she cooks. So all I had to pay for was the little bit of rice, value range long grain so ridiculously cheap for the tiny bit we used (10p maybe?!), than naan bread was 1 of a 2 pack bought reduced to 30p and frozen so 15p. Dinner for three for 30p, from my purse anyway- result!

Today was equally cheap I used some of this;

this was around £1 I think from approved food, I used a few scoops so probably about 10p worth. The lamb was leftovers from a cheap joint so lets say 50p it was this much;

I added some gravy about 20p worth, some carrots again about 20p worth, 10p worth from a  bag of kale. This is what we ate;

Today it was only me and Dylan home for dinner Stephanie was collected from school by her dad so he fed her today. So dinner for 2 costing around £1.10 in total. Obviously these are rough amounts as I don't weigh absolutely every gram but still very frugal.
I have forgotten to menu plan this week, but its fine whatever we eat will be from the freezer/ store cupboard so won't cost me any money this week and can pretty much guarantee it won't cost much in total either. It will be another just Dylan and me for tea day so I wont need to do a meat/ meat free option.

This is a shout out to Chrissie who won my world book day giveaway- I am going to give you until 8pm Thursday night to email me at so that I can pass your details onto the giveaway providers to get your books sent out or I will have to pass onto the next winner. Thank you :-)

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Making a little go a long way

yesterday I decided that todays dinner would be a slow cooked chicken dinner. I hadn't planned any more than that. So I got up this morning and put the chicken into the slow cooker and began my marking/ planning. My sister text whilst I was doing this to ask if I fancied going to the park with her and the children. I was very good (unusually!) and said no as I needed to get my work finished, but invited her round for dinner when they had finished at the park. This also gave me an incentive to get the work finished quickly without distracting myself with other things.

Ok so I now had 1 small chicken in the slow cooker and an extra 4 mouths to feed. What was I going to do? No potatoes in and getting some would mean going out, spending money and distracting myself. I do have a few packets of approved food pittas in the freezer. I came up with the idea of chicken pittas with salad. Perfect simple and cheap and all the ingredients were already in the house.
So I cooked dinner for 7 for around £4.00 for us all. Not bad- the chicken was a cheap £3.00 one, then half a cucmber 25p, a few slices of lettuce- about 5p (the lettuce was reduced to clear at 25p) 2 tomatoes about 20p and 1.5 packets of pitta breads which were 4 for £1 on approved foods so 40p. That's a brilliant price.

I have saved a little money today as I had some mushrooms in the fridge from last weekend and I wasn't going to use them before they were no good. I sliced them up onto baking sheets covered them and popped them in the freezer for a few hours.

Ready to go in. Once they were frozen I moved them off the tray and have put them in a sandwich bag so I can just take out a few when I need them. Brilliant as neither children like mushrooms but I love them. No waste here.

I also made myself a left over lunch. I had one pepper starting to go soft in the fridge (my sister had bought them when she visited the other week and left it behind) so I stuffed it with some of the mushrooms and a little cheese, then baked for a short while;

An almost free lunch! To go with my almost free breakfast of eggs from one of the children I teach with a little garlic bread from the freezer.
What a cheap food day!

An Apple for the teacher!!

Remember the saying that you bring in an apple for the teacher. Well I got something even better this week from one of the lovelies from my class!
This term I have been doing 'food tech' with my class. We have made pancakes and sweet corn salad so far. There are plans for smoothies this week, cakes another week.

We made our sweet corn salad and after all the children had had a try there was still LOADS left so we invited in the children's parents at the end of the day to try it with them. It went down a treat with parents complementing us for teaching the children a 'real food' and asking if we were planning on doing more of this- we have been able to offer cooking once a week for this term.

The children loved telling the parents how to make it and many have said they are planning on teaching their parents over this weekend.

The recipe has eggs in it as one of the parents was trying she passed comment that she has chickens, I responded with how lovely I'd love to but am not allowed them in my garden. Look what arrived for me the next morning with the little one in my class;

There were 6 but I was so excited that I forgot to photograph before I had 2 in a pan like this;

picture doesn't show but one of these eggs is a beautiful blue, the other white.

What a fantastic breakfast I had;

They were delicious, how lucky am I to have such thoughtful families in my class?!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

We have a winner!! #worldbookday

Sorry this post is a little later than I said got busy working. anyway I said last week that I would hold the World Book Day giveaway today. So I have assigned each entrant a number based on the order of comments. I then found a random number generator on google and this is the result;

Which means that CHRISSIE you are the winner. Please email me at and then I can pass your email onto Jenny who will arrange with you for the books to be sent.


Sunday, 9 March 2014

Side Hustles.

I have been very busy with work this last week or so. I have managed to make a little money through side hustles.

I have sold a pair of football boots and a pair of plimsolls on ebay making an extra £22.13. I have also had my first payout from inbox pounds of £20.07.

I just need to get the cheque to the bank1 I received a reimbursement from work £11.00., which as I have already paid that out and not missed it I sent that over to the savings.

This means that this month the total sent to the bank account is currently £271.13, I have not counted the inboxpounds money in this. I will add that to the total once the cheque has cleared. Which means I need to find an extra £109.80 to put into the savings by the end of the month. I need to get some more things organised for selling. I have another pair of plimsolls currently on ebay. I will organise some more things to list tomorrow. I think I have a sack of clothes which can go to the clothing recycling over the weekend as well.

I have a couple of makes that I need to get organised this week as well. Stephanie has 3 birthday parties over the next 3 weekends to attend. I am going to make the presents for these so need to get organised, I will speak to her tomorrow about what she would like to make them. I also have a dressing up day for world maths day at school on Wednesday, I need to organise myself a costume. I am thinking of perhaps some sort of math superhero and then having lots of math problems for the chn to solve throughout the day.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

World Book Day 2014

Reading with children is very important, I have read to my children since birth. They now both love to read. I enjoy reading with the children at work, I absolutely love reading a story out loud and enthusing them to read. If you can read you can learn so much.

For me world book day is perfect for supporting this. Every year children attending schools across England receive their £1 book token which can be exchanged in participating book shops. Details of this years £1 books are here.

    • Brand new pre-record format makes taking part even easier!   -
    • Authors and illustrators share tips, give readings and answer questions for budding writers and illustrators -
Building on the success of last year’s The Biggest Book Show On Earth, World Book Day 2014 sees the launch of an exciting and brand new pre-recorded TV show format. Available online for the whole of March it includes all the wonderful World Book Day authors and illustrators.
Schools, parents and children across the nation can register to register, log on and enjoy watching it together at a time that suit.
Compared by CBBC’s Dick and Dom, the show features World Book Day authors and illustrators:

    • James Patterson
    • David Melling
    • Emily Gravett
    • Jill Murphy
    • Jim Smith
    • Lauren St John
    • Terry Deary
    • Martin Brown
    • Alex T Smith
    • Sarah Lean
    • Robert Muchamore
    • Maureen Johnson
How does James Patterson keep people turning the page? What does Terry Deary recommend for making facts fun?  How does David Melling decide what his characters should look like?  All this and more will be answered along with other fun and useful hints and tips.
Filmed at Stanley Park High School, each of the £1 authors also answer questions submitted from children across the country as well giving an excerpt from their World Book Day book and talking about their inspirations.
Kirsten Grant, Director of World Book Day, said: "We are very excited about yet another fantastic line up for this year’s show, which will now be even more accessible with the new download option that’s lets schools, parents and children watch together at a time that works best for them. The Biggest Book Show on Earth is a great way to introduce children all over the world to some of the countrys best authors and illustrators. We can't wait to spark the creativity of millions of children!"
For the second year running The Biggest Book Show On Earth will also be broadcast, into Picturehouse Cinemas across the UK. Schools who go along to one of the screenings will also be treated to an extra special 20 minutes of exclusive content, including readings and a Q&A session.
Marc Allenby, Head of Commercial Development at Picturehouse, said: “We are delighted to bring World Book Day to cinemas up and down the country once again. Engaging with local schools and the community is key for our cinemas.”
Schools, groups and parents can find out more by registering to watch on
Half a million children from more than 75 countries logged on to watch the Show in 2013, which this year is just one of a number of events and activities in schools, bookshops and libraries set to excite youngsters about books and reading for World Book Day 2014.
Ten new books including titles by performers from this year’s Biggest Book Show on Earth line-up can be exchanged for free with a special £1 World Book Day Book.
Visit for more information, the latest news and to subscribe to the free monthly World Book Day e-newsletter.

As a teacher I have encountered many children who want to write and do so at every opportunity, but there are also some who are more reluctant. I was lucky enough to take my class to the library local to our school to meet an author who really inspired some of the children from my class. For those who have not been as lucky to have an opportunity like this I have been sent some tips for writing I have been sent via Jenny from Lauren St John, the author of Midnight Picnic

Tip 1:
One of the first things children will ask an author is, 'Where do you get your ideas?' I always answer: 'Ideas come from everywhere. Your problem should never be finding ideas. It should be that you have too many.' Since life is infinitely stranger than fiction, newspapers and magazines are a good starting point. A news item about a stowaway boy or a dog that has turned up alive after two years, for instance, could give rise to any number of storylines.

Tip 2
When I get children to invent stories out loud, something that is as much fun for me as it is for them, I first ask them to create a couple of characters. What do they look like? What type of people are they? What are their interests? Next, we need an Event. Something happens. A volcano, a fire, an alien abduction, a school trip that goes wrong. The characters then go on a journey, which is as much about personal discovery as it is about location. Are they brave? Cowardly? How do they figure out an escape route? Lastly, we need a happy ending. Naturally.

Tip 3
As a child, I was obsessed with reading and I'm convinced that there are no good writers who are not good readers. Forget the Government nonsense about whether or not to read Dickens. Get your kids reading. It doesn't matter if it's comic books or JK Rowling or War and Peace. All that matters is that they learn to love reading. Of course, you could always consider Dead Man's Cove, The One Dollar Horse or my World Book Day short story, The Midnight Picnic!
I have been lucky enough to be contacted by Jenny who has asked me if i would be willing to run a giveaway on my blog in support of World Book Day. This is the deal. If you would like to be in with a chance of winning 1 set of the world book day books for 2014 all you need to do is leave a comment below, i will draw a winner at random on Thursday eve, the 13th March at 20:00 hrs uk time.
Good luck!!

For those of you who follow me on twitter please retweet the link for this blog/ giveaway and help to spread the word.