Saturday, 31 May 2014


We have been away again on a camping holiday this week. I love to go camping and enjoy the simplistic life that it brings. This time we have been to Devon, a little site just outside of Barnstaple.

The site is a small site with basic facilities; showers, toilets, washing up area, washing machine, tumbles dryer and a small climbing frame for children.

The site is up a hill overlooking the town- the view was stunning. The owners of the site were very friendly and chatty- always nice to be greeted by a smily face. The site is called brightlycott barton. I would recommend it to anyone who would like a small place to stay and is not looking for the bright lights/ evening entertainment that you get at some sites. The toilets were clean, the washing up area was in an actual room! Anyone who camps a lot will know what a rare treat that is! The washing machine was free to use, and the tumble dryer was £1 for 30 mins of drying. I used both- well when your daughter is travel sick and you drive around Exmoor without a tablet they are muchly needed! (Ooops!)

We arrived on the Sunday of a bank holiday weekend and the site had several families but not too many. Most people left by the middle of the week leaving just three families onsite for a couple of days. Then Friday night several more groups arrived. There were 3 showers in the ladies and I believe the same in the men's and we never queued once. There was another toilet block with showers, in an old outhouse building which we affectionately named the 'spider toilets' they had a lot of spider webs in them and both Stephanie and I were too scared to use these because of this. That said the main toilet blocks weren't too far away and were clean/ almost web free so we were happy to use those. The showers are the worst thing about the site- they just were not warm enough. The first 2 showers I had were freezing! I learnt to go down as soon as I got up at 6.30 and get the first shower as then they were almost warm.

We have had a fantastic week. I will show you some of the places we visited another day as it has been a long day and I am tired! It took us 7 hours to get home, not that there was traffic it's just the site is almost 300 miles from home, we needed to collect something from a shop before we left Devon and then we had 3 stops along the way.

Oh and we are planning on coming back in the summer :-)

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Elsa dress up

Stephanie along with thousands of other little girls is very into Frozen at the moment. she has asked for an Elsa dressing up dress, not even the Disney website are stocking them at the moment, although I did hear  a rumour the other day that the local Disney store had them in stock. However, Disney dress up is eye wateringly expensive starting at around 330 for a dressing up dress. So I got some material and made her one. It cost me about £8.00 in material and  4 hours of my time. Stephanie hasn't seen the finished product yet, although she did see it at the nearly complete stage. I can't wait to give it to her;

the dress

dress and cloak. I may need to adjust the cloak, I won't know until she tries it all on, but it is a small 5 minute job.
Stephanie' won't get this beautiful dress for a few days as I am picking her up in a short while and we are off on our holidays, somewhere in the South West- I will tell more when we are home again.
We are still trying to empty our freezer so Dylan and I made a pack up for the journey using up little bits and bobs;
There are chicken goujons, fish fingers, veggie fingers, veggie hotdogs and garlic bread tucked away in those two boxes.

 I also made some cakes for us to take with us, well cakes cost a lot when you are out and about. I made plain sponge cakes and lemon cakes. I made them different sized for Stephanie as she doesn't like the lemon ones so I wanted to be able to easily tell the difference when they are in the tin I received for free

All safe and snug and ready to go.

I doubt I will have signal to post while we are away so I am going to leave you with this picture of my water baby not quite getting the point of the dodge the sprinkler game in b&q!

Happy holidays!

Saturday, 24 May 2014

waste not want not!

I have been thinking a lot recently about how when I set up this blog the idea was to be as eco friendly as possible. This principle still lives on in my head, but if I am truthful, it has slipped a little. I rarely remember to take my plastic bags to the shops. I have got lazy with food shopping and so will often just pick up a pre-packaged bag of fruit. I have spent some time this morning reflecting on this and blog hopping to motivate me to waste less.

I found these sites which might be of interest to others considering reducing their waste; this is a Canadian site, which is also a shop. They have a blog with some interesting articles on why we need to reduce our reliance on plastics. the clean bin project, a competition between a husband and wife to see who can create the least waste in a  year. I haven't looked at the film, but a quick nosey around the blog makes me want to find out more. They also have a Facebook page here

The blog ecothrifty living a mum of two in the south of England, trying to reduce her spending and is running a year of eco challenges, including buying non new clothes, make do and mend, no toilet paper etc.

I am interested in trying some of the ideas that I have read on these sites this morning, not so sure about the toilet paper issue, but each to their own LOL

Although I feel that I have slipped a little, I am doing some things which are eco conscious. I have made my own little greenhouses;

I have tried these out and found that they work fantastically so I will dig out the ones I have saved all winter specifically for this job.
I have reused our milk bottle to make a start on the living wall I want to really get growing well with this year;
The actual plant pots you can see in the picture are all reused plant pots. I have been reusing them yearly sine we moved to this house. I have not bought any for a very long time. I know for sure none this year and I don't think I did last year. I even took some into school to do planting with the children there.
Obviously the best way to be eco conscious would be not to buy the products in these bottles at all. However I found when we had a milk man we often wouldn't use milk everyday, but then there would be days when we ran out. So I settled for reusing these bottles. We only buy one of these a week usually so not a huge waste but one that could be reduced further. Maybe I will look again at a milk man...

I have been recycling many of our used goods we no longer need, mainly through the medium of eBay. Clarks shoes sell really well there, and the money that I get for this goes towards us having a little camping trip during the school holidays. I have sold a few toys on the Facebook selling sites for my local area. Recently I gave a mattress away on freecycle. I tried selling it but as it was a 2foot 6, most people needed wider. So I offered it on freecycle, even giving it away was not easy. It sat in my living room for over a month. There was nothing wrong with it so I really didn't want to take it to the tip. We were only getting rid as the bedframe broke and I couldn't get another frame in the narrow size at a price I could afford. Crazily it was easier to buy  a new bed and mattress than a narrow frame!

I have been buying some eco things e.g. the new bed I bought for Stephanie I got on EBay for £50. Now I need to get sorted and get better at reducing the waste we bring into our home. Food scraps all go in the council recycling bin for the purpose. I rarely have any landfill waste. However I do put out a large bag of recycling waste each week. There has to be a better way. I am going to set a challenge for June. I am going to reduce waste that comes into the house-

  1.  no carrier bags!
  2. reduce the amount of pre-packaged food
  3. reuse the waste we do already have.  e.g. use the yoghurt pots for storage instead of washing and recycling.
  4. I am going to buy no new clothes for myself. With 2 ever growing children I can not promise the same for them, but I will only buy what is necessary. (This is not helped by Dylan's school changing the shirt colour when he goes into year 11 this summer!). I will recycle the white shirts that he will no longer use though.
  5. Stephanie has a lot of school clothes and has asked for skorts to wear for the summer. I am going to be firm mummy and say no, she has normal skirts which fit her perfectly as well as summer dresses. That is one fashion craze she will not get. There are only 8 weeks of term left anyway.
I think those 5 will be a good start. Do you have any tips on what else I can do to reclaim my eco principles without having to spend cash I don't have? I need it to be frugal as well as eco.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Ice cream sandwiches

It has been perfect weather here for the past few weeks. Sunny and warm. (just ignore the interspersing rain and wind!) LOL
we have been experimenting with jules destrooper biscuits. we have a selection of the boxes including

  • almond Florentines
  • chocolate delight
  • butter crisps
  • almond thins
  • hazelnut Florentines with crispy rice

Some have been eaten straight out of the box- well look at these;
They taste as good as they look!

In fact I may have snuck off to bed one evening with a box and snaffled them all myself before I went to sleep!

We have also been making some lovely ice cream sandwiches during our wonderful weather we have been having;

butter crisps with vanilla ice cream

Florentines with vanilla ice cream. Not recommended unless like me you have a very sweet tooth! LOL
these ones don't show very clearly but they have chocolate sprinkles and vimto ice cream sauce in them. That was very tasty too.

Going, going

Gone LOL
We still have several left and I am loving them, it is taking a lot of self restraint not to just eat them all and pretend that they self combusted so that I don't have to share them with the children! LOL
I have been provided with a selection of the biscuits to try in order to complete this review (as seen in the initial photograph). I have not been paid for this. All opinions in this review are my own and completely truthful.


Sunday, 18 May 2014

Summery summery summer prep

I have been saying for around a year that  was going ot patio over part of my garden. I decided yesterday was the day. I measured up got some advice from family and headed off to B and q. a bit of a wobble when I got there about the many different bags of sand etc for the job. Made my decision and after a couple of trips had all the things I needed. I did the journey in several trips as I didn't want too much weight in my little car at once.

A little before shot of the area to be patioed.
Almost finished. Not perfect for all you builders/perfectionists out there. But I am pleased with it. I stopped there as I was unsure how to cut the slabs to make them fit. I don't want to buy expensive tools I won't use again and it turns out nobody nearby has them either.
So I went in had dinner and puzzled it over. This morning I got up went for a run, yes still at it!
Then I came and decided was going to finish the job. I used a rubber mallet which means the pieces didn't break perfectly so I have a crazy paving effect. Which incidentally I love;
My very own patio that I can sit at in the garden
And do things such as eat my breakfast;
Or write blog posts as I am now. I may even do some paperwork out here later!
Enjoy your sunny day I am off out for a pub lunch with family very soon.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

getting ready for summer

We have been promised a lovely sunny weekend. Whilst it is warm outside (at 8 am this morning when I pu the washing out. It isn't yet sunny. But well the weather man says the sun is going to shine- why would I doubt that ;-)

So I came inside to get my feet ready, well if the sun is going to shine I will need to have my flip flops on won't I? I have been waiting for this all winter. I hate how closed in your feet feel during winter but not as much as I hate cold feet. hence I give in and wear the boots.

So where did I start with getting my feet ready? Well I started a little a couple of weeks ago with this;

Nope, that's not a razor! It is a pedi express by Scholl. It is like a battery sander for feet. You turn it on and gently rub the rotating sander over your feet and it smooths away all the dead/dry skin.

I have been using this for a couple of weeks, just once or twice a week. The gumpf that comes with the product says you can use it daily. I confess I haven't had time/ inclination the last couple of weeks to do it daily. However, it is working even with my low level of weekly usage. It is a little tickly at first but you get used to it. If you press to hard it stops, so there is no worry about hurting your feet. It is a little messy though;

look at all that manky foot dust! So a quick wash and then apply the smoothing serum

and you have lovely soft feet;

Now that's the soles sorted but I want the toes to look good too so I applied a coat of my favourite shade;
Very pale pink and then added some pretties using Stephanie's nail stamping kit;

Now where is my sunshine????

I have been able to review this product through the bzz agent website. I am a member of their panel and as such I get invited to try some campaigns where I receive the product to test and review giving, as always, my honest opinion. I do not receive payment for my views.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Frugality continued

I am still keeping up with the frugality, chipping away at building an emergency fund. My emergency fund is currently at £280.12. I will have it full up very soon.

I am still spending as little as possible on food;

Shopping for the yellow stickers. Lot's of delicious fruit and vegetable scored on Bank holiday Monday morning. Bags of apples for 27p. 6 apples in a bag, nothing wrong other than having a best before of that day. Over a week later and they are still in my fridge perfect- well minus the bag and a half that have been eaten! Lettuce and eggs, avocado and clementines all reduce to 20-30p. I had all of this lot for less than £7!

I have spent a little more this week on our shopping because I didn't get there at reduced times, never mind the shop for the week is still under £20 by 38p!

The children's nan is helping out, she likes to cook and often sends me and my sister in law food parcels. This week I had 2 individual portions of sausage casserole, 2 of Bolognese, 2 containers of chicken curry. All lovely homemade food. This has fed us since Sunday. Tomorrow we will have the last of the parcel. It is the chicken curry which we will eat with jacket potatoes. Then we will continue to eat out of the freezer. I have been feeding us out of the freezer since February/ March time. We would have ran out a little sooner but I do get several meals each time Dylan goes to his nan and granddads, we have also had a meal out for Stephanie's birthday and my sister and her husband treated us to a meal out as a thank you for helping with their wedding.

I think I have about another weeks worth of food in the freezer before it will be empty. My plan is to empty it before we go away for half term, then I shall defrost it and replace the freezer. The thermostat is very dodgy and it needs defrosting every 2 weeks really. I want to get a frost free version this time to save on the defrosting hassle.

A combination of left overs and food parcels from Nan makes for some very easy dinners after work. I am always grateful for things which make life easier particularly during the working week. Especially so the last week- we have had the big O in work. Always a stressful time as those in the profession will understand, I am pleased they are gone. Whilst I am confident that I didn't put on a show for their visit, you do feel on high alert all day everyday that they are there! lol

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Harry Potter

You remember how my little lady is Harry Potter crazy so much so that this year I have made her a Harry Potter costume for World Book Day, and a Harry Potter Cake for her birthday as well as buying everything harry otter for her birthday.

Well, this weekend was the final part of her birthday surprise- A trip to Harry Potter tour London. As my niece and nephew are also Harry Potter crazy they came too, well my niece had asked for the same thing for her birthday and the girl's birthdays are a month apart so we went together. We didn't tell the children and it wasn't until I stopped to show our tickets to the car park attendant they realised where we were! Cue lots of excited squealing from the back of the carl. As soon as it was declared safe to exit the vehicle we had three children who could not stop bouncing up and down in excitement.

It was an absolutely phenomenal day, even my sister and I got caught up in the excitement as soon as we passed through the main entrance- look there is Harry, there's the Weasleys car, oh oh oh look!!!
The magic of the day was everything we had hoped for and more.

One thing we hadn't expected was just how expensive it was! I knew it wouldn't be cheap there but £2.00 for a bottle of drink in the café- £5.00 almost for a sandwich. I'm glad we had lunch packed and eaten before we arrived. I did buy a butter beer which the five of us shared, good job we only bought one as no-one except me actually liked it! LOL

We had an amazing day looking at the costumes, learning how the masks etc were made. Flying through London first in the Weasley's car and then on broomsticks! It truly was magical and was worth every penny for the entrance fee.

Could have done without the shock of the gift shop at the end- £25 for a plastic wand anyone? What about £20 for a notebook? Cue some very sad faced children when they were told they couldn't have any of the things they actually wanted as it was just too much money, and 2 very disappointed Mum's that had to say no to the children because they couldn't afford to buy them anything in the shop after promising them a treat at the end of the day, and one that couldn't be avoided with a whoops the shop must have shut as you can't get out without going through the extortionate shop. Very disappointing way to end the day. All three of our children were very good and didn't tantrum tetc after all we have never hid from them that there is only so much money in the pot, when it's gone that's it. But it is still not how we expected to end the day.

We were a little mollified today when we met up with my brother- he hasn't seen Stephanie since before her birthday so hadn't given her her presents- he had only got her a book of spells and a Harry potter broomstick. Exactly like the one she desperately wanted in the shop for almost £30 yesterday. He had got it for less than £10 on the internet!

We flew over Hogwart's!!

Friday, 9 May 2014

bucket list

number 27 on my bucket list is to make myself a winter cardigan. I have finally completed this- but I have read the pattern wrong. Big WHOOPS! It doesn't fit. Still Stephanie likes it she has it as a baggy long cardigan lol

So back to the needles to try again for myself! LOL
Good job I am not a quitter or I would give up. Need to rummage through my stash and see what I have left that I can use for myself.

Just the thing for an easy Friday night after an incredibly busy week at work!

Off for a shower and then to put my feet up, oh and maybe have a cheeky glass of wine at the same time.

Happy Friday everyone!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

We're going to the zoo, soo, zoo how about you..........

Ok so we are not going to the zoo- we have been. In fact Stephanie and I went on Sunday. it was a fantastic day. We went to a zoo which we have not been to before but I have heard great things about. We packed our lunch and off we went.

It was fantastic we saw lots of the usual suspects; lions, penguins (they are one of the main reasons for going!), giraffes, zebras, seals etc.
The highlights of the day were hand feeding the elephants and the giraffes. I was most impressed as this was free most zoos that allow this charge extra, but we only spent our admission fees for the whole day. Except for running out of drinks, so an extra drink each but nanny had given us some spending money which was enough for an ice cream and a nice cold drink.
We have already decided that we want to go back here. There are so many things to see and do that although we were there from 10am- 6pm we didn't get to see everything!

Monday, 5 May 2014

The joys of a sunny day

We had a lazy start to the day today.

I got up and went for a run first thing while the children were snoring still. Then I came back and started looking for cheap half term breaks. I whittled it down to a choice of 3 campsites in the area I would like to go. Then once the children were up we decided together. It's all booked now. I like to have something to look forward to :-)

Then we decided it was time to do something with the garden;

A bit of a chop and a sweep and it's all looking better and full of promise;
The raspberry bush has lots of flower buds appearing, fingers crossed we should have a plentiful supply this year.

I planted some salad leaves, some carrots, garlic, red cabbage and pumpkins in here.

The Strawberries are starting to flower

My recycled pots anging space is coming along nicely

Much better now that it is tidy.
My garden is very small just a few metres long and even less wide. I like to combine as much of growing our own spaces with family play space as possible. hence the lots of hanging containers and around the edge space. Hopefully we will get a plentiful supply for our needs this summer. Square foot gardening taken to the max here at the littlefamilyof3 house.
Do you have any tips for me on how I can maximise our tiny space? or indeed anyone who reads this with the same/similar issues