Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Snowman Soup

Each Christmas we give the boys teachers a small gift (we tend to do it now rather than at the end of the summer) and this year we made Reindeer Thumbprint Mugs and Ornaments. We decided that we were going to fill the mugs with Snowman Soup.


Hot chocolate
Mini Marshmallows
Cellophane Bags

I spent £1 on the hot chocolate, the same on the candy canes and 80p on the mini marshmallows and I got 7 bags of snowman soup out of them.  The bags were 50p each.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Reindeer Food

I love the little traditions we have that make Christmas special for my boys and one of them is the fact that we sprinkle Reindeer food on Christmas Eve.

Sprinkle on the lawn at night
The moon will make it sparkle bright
As Santa’s reindeer fly and roam
This will guide them to your home

I haven't re-invented the wheel here, we basically use oats and glitter (you can get edible glitter) or coloured sugar, so that no animals are hurt if they ingest the glitter.

It is dead easy to colour sugar, pop it in a plastic bag, add liquid food colour and shake.  If you only have gel food colour you can add that to a few drops of hand sanitiser and shake.  We use this as we live in a rural area, but have used glitter too.

Simply mix with oats and pop in a bag and add printable label.  

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Thrifty Father Christmas

Letters for Father Christmas

Every year my boys write a letter to Father Christmas and each year we get a reply all for the cost of a second class stamp.

The lovely people at Royal Mail do a sterling job.  Just make sure you get your letters sent to the following address before 14 December.

Santa/Father Christmas,
Santa’s Grotto,

Portable North Pole

The other thing that makes my boys faces light up and costs nothing is a video message from Father Christmas from the North Pole via the Portable North Pole.

This year it is even better as Father Christmas can even say unusual names, so perfect for Mini.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

December Thrifty Familities Blog Carnival

December, A moth of the year when people often feel the pressure to spend money that they do not have.  For me Christmas should be a time filled with joy and families and I hope that in this tight economic climate that people do not feel the need to splash out.

So let me bring you the second Thrifty Families Blog Carnival, an idea of mine, Becky (Baby Budgeting) and Cass (Frugal Family), in association with My Family Club, who are our proud sponsor and a fantastic place to find time and money saving ideas.

my family club

A Thrifty Christmas

A Make do mum has an inspiring post about Christmas Gift Wrapping on a budget.  Quite a few ideas their which I am going to pay homage too (yes steal in other words)!

Eco thrifty Living reminds us that gifts do not have to cost anything, with her five gifts that don;t cost anything.

Becky from Baby Budgeting ponders the savings you can make by buying an artificial tree (don;t tell anyone, but we are an artificial tree family too).

Penny from A Penny Saver brings us some fantastic ideas for Frugal Christmas Food Gifts, I particularly like the Chai tea mix and am going to give it a go myself

The amazing Michelle from Utterly Srummy Food for families bring us some excellent frugal Christmas tips.  I for one will be making my outlaws a hamper this year.

Over on New Mummy's Tips you can find ideas for making Christmas more enjoyable as well as economical   Sometimes I fear we forget to take time out to enjoy this time of year. 

Over at ToyMadness you can find tips to help you survive the Christmas shopping .

Kat, who is a very stylist thrifty blogger (I should know I have met her) lets us into her secret of using plastic to help pay for Christmas.

Rebecca shows us how to make simple and effective decorations from CD's with her twins

Cass from a Frugal Family show us how and where to send our letters to Father Christmas and you get a response too all for the cost of a stamp!

Also why visit Santa when you can have him visit you at home, great suggestion from Becky

Crafty Christmas

Cathy at Nurturestore was one of my first bloggy reads and she has lots of ideas of things to make and do with your children.  How adorable is this Christmas Model Village and so easy to make too.  I love junk modeling.

Karen at The White Approach has been busy making candles and just to show you there is no limit she has made them in gorgeous silver egg cups.

The brill Zoe from Playing by The book, guest posts at Red Ted Art this month showing how to make a cake stand.  I have a real passion for cake stands and think these are a lovely way to use old plates. 

This no crochet, crochet poncho  by Lizzie is an ingenious idea and a fab way to use those brill blankets you see at nearly all charity shops.   

A new blog to me, is by Mel Wiggins, scroll down to see some great Thrifty Thursday Ideas, I particularly love the ornaments.

Around the Home

Ever have a need, want , must have moment?  Well I read this post and decided that I have to have these Toadstools in my garden.  They are amazing, well done to Mama Syder for such an original idea.

Egg Dip, Dip gives us a sausage and lentil casserole, perfect for these cold dark days.

Over at The Mad House, I talk about why and how to use a cost comparison site and also how to recycle old tins, here at A thrifty Mum

Whilst Mummykins show us how she uses Money Supermarket to make savings on her weekly shopping.

Kat from Housewife confidential shows us how to make a delicious artisan loaf much cheaper than you can buy it and I am sure it tastes even better too.

Another new to me blog is Mamma Smiles, but I will be following it from now on, it is filled with super ideas for re purposing, recycling and reusing everyday items, including these fantastic posts: Tutorial for turning an adult shirt into toddler shortsNo-sew fabric-covered box tutorial (for toy storage, etc), Using take 'n toss bins to store small toysFrugal drawer organizersUsing fleece to patch holes in children's clothing and Child's skirt from an old adult t-shirt tutorial

Karen from The Rubbish Diet has a great post about buy nothing new November , a personal challenge,  I think that this is something my family need to take up one month a year.

Have you heard of PlantCatching?  I hadn't read more about it here.

Over at Frugaliscious Food I give you the recipe to make your own pikeletts, which are delicious on these cold nights, perfect for a Sunday evening supper.

Monday, 5 December 2011

See the New York Ballet perform The Nutcracker for £10 each

I love The Nutcracker and I love taking the boys to see live performances of shows, but living in the Frozen North East of England this is often a very expensive thing for us.

However,  we will be going to see the New York City Ballet’s brand new production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker – which comes to the UK on Thursday 22nd December.

This is a  multi million dollar production which includes a 40ft Christmas tree that weighs a staggering 1 ton, seventy ballet dancers and a sixty-two piece orchestra. A massive no-holds-barred experience, described by the NY Post as "the Christmas show of all Christmas shows."

Tickets are only £10. Why so little?

Because it’s being shown in Cinemas, not on stage.

The limited screen run will launch on Thursday 22nd Dec and will be a virtually live performance, an ‘as if you were there’ kind of thing.
Here’s how it works: a camera crew will film a live performance from the New York City Ballet at the Lincoln Centre in New York on 13th Dec, which will then be beamed over to the UK via fibre optic satellite technology. The film will then be edited and produced and will then be distributed to around 40 screens in selected cinemas including Odeon, Showcase, Vue and independents.

Tickets will go on sale from Weds, 23rd November - please visit www.cinestage.co.uk

We have taken the boys to the cinema a couple of times to see The Wiggles and they have loved it, so I am hoping that we have a fab time on 30 December when we make a day of it.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Recycling Decorative Tins

I drink a lot of mint tea and we have a big plant pot of mint outside, but in the winter I have to bring the mint indoors to keep me going throughout the dark days.

So I make sure that I keep any Golden Syrup or Treacle tins that I have used through the year whilst baking (or having pancakes) and use then as plant pots on my window sill.

They would also make a great gift for Easter if you popped a bulb in.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Calling for posts for Our December Thrifty Blog Carnival

I am calling for posts for December's Thrifty Families Blog Carnival, which is here at A Thrifty Mum on December 8th.

All you need to do is send in a post (on making or saving money, thriftiness, upcyling. recycling or living frugally) you have written in the past month (it can already have been published on your blog.) to me at mail@jenwalshaw.co.uk with Thrifty Blog Carnival in the subject header by 6pm on December 6.

Each month across many blogs the subject of making money, saving money, living frugally and being thrifty are shared. It’s a sign of the times and a more careful and caring generation of people that we protect our resources, recycle, upcycle and make do.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Way's to make trousers last longer

This great post about turning worn out jeans in to a skirt by Slugs in the refrigerator, really inspired me to look at way to make clothes last longer. We used to be a throw it away family, but now we are make do and mend.

  1. Turn the trousers in to shorts - this is perfect for school trousers that are too short in the leg.  You do not even need to have sewing skills you can use wonderweb.
  2. Patch any holes.  Again you can use any old material you have lying around or of you are not a sewer then why not try iron on patches like clothes plasters.
  3. Have a swapping party.  Get together with other mums and swap your outgrown clothes.
  4. Sell them.  If they are in good condition, but outgrown, then pop them on e-bay and use the money to buy new to you ones.

I would love your ideas for others ways to make clothes last longer.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Make Childrens summer clothes last longer

Just because the weather has changed doesn't mean that you  need to put your childrens summer clothes away, especially as most children will have grown out of them by the time the weather changes for them to be able to wear them again..  It is all about layers.

BG (From New Mummy's Tips) rocking her summer clothes this autumn

  • Layer shorts and short skits over leggings and tights
  • You can add a long sleeved T shirt and tights under dresses
  • Wear vests under tops
  • Add a plain long sleeved t shirt under a short sleeved one
  • Add long sleeved tops under short sleeved shirts
  • Wear leggings under trousers when the weather gets cold
  • Make sure any roll up trousers are warn unrolled
  • When my boys were small I used to add long sleeved all in ones (the ones with poppers) under their tops
  • Use t shirts for pj tops  
I would love to hear your ideas for getting the most wear out of your childrens clothes

Friday, 4 November 2011

Thrifty Families Blog Carnival

Each month across many parenting blogs the subject of making money, saving money, living frugally and being thrifty are shared. It’s a sign of the times and a more careful and caring generation of parents that we protect our resources, recuycle, upcycle and make do.

Becky (from Baby Budgeting and Family Budgeting),Cass (from a frugal family) and I thought it would be a great idea to pull these brilliant posts together so we could all learn from and share with each other our thrifty ways. So each month we are going to hold a Thrifty Families Blog Carnival and we woudl love you to take part,

All you need to do is send in a post (on making or saving money, thriftiness, upcyling. recycling or living frugally) you have written in the past month (it can already have been published on your blog.) 

Please send the link for:

November – to Becky@babybudgteing.co.uk  by Tuesday 5th Novembver 6 pm for the carnival on Thurs 10th November at Baby Budgeting

December – to mail@jenwalshaw.co.uk by Tuesday 6th December 6 pm for the carnival on 8th December at A Thrifty Mum

January – to borocass@aol.com Tuesday 10th January 2012 6 pm for the carnival on 12th January 2012

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Feeding a family of four for £50

I do a weekly shop at Aldi and if anything else is needed it tends to be the co-op in the village.
Now I do have a good store cupboard and freezer with staples like gravy, frozen stock), herbs, spices, flour etc in.

Lunch – mince (£1.99) and onions with veg from the garden and new potatoes from the garden too
Dinner – Poached eggs (99p or six for the butcher or friend) on muffins (60p)
Lunch – Scrambled egg on toast (99p for the eggs and 99p for a loaf of bread)
Dinner - Bolognese made with left over mince pasta (99p a bag) and pasata (59p) with added herbs and any veg left over from Sunday dinner (pureed).  Garlic bread (home made)
Lunch – Beans and Sausage on Toast (59p)
Dinner – Curry with home made naan bread

Sausage rolls form the bakers (4 for 99p)
Sausage casserole with Potatoes from the FIL


Lunch – Scrambled Eggs with cheese and ham 
Jacket Potatoes with Cheese and Beans or leftover curry 

Sandwiches (cheese and ham or egg)
Fish and Chips with peas from the garden


Hot Dogs and rolls with potato wedges (from the garden)
Home Made pizza (ham, salami, pasattatta, mozzarella and onion), garlic bread

Shopping list

Mince (1.99)
Breaded Ham (99p)
Mozzarella (2 x 49p)
Salami (99p)
Sausages (99p)
Bread (99p)
Hot dog rolls (55p)
Bratwursts (99p)
potato (69p)
Apples (1.25)
Banana (1.01)
Natural yogurt (49p)
Flour (33p)
Oven chips (99p)
Frozen battered Cod (1.99)
Passata  (49p)
Gouda (1.15)
Onions (69p)
High Juice (99p)
Jelly mix (20p)
Coffee (2.59  a month)
Paracetamol (2 x 19p)
Spreadable butter (1.79)
Marg for baking (50p)
Pull ups (3.59 once a month)
12 eggs (1.98)
Milk Iceland £1 for 4 pints we use at least 16 pints = £4)
Porridge (99p)
Choco Hoops (1.15)
Teabags (2.10 very 4 weeks)
Salad Stuff (currently 39p for tomatoes, lettuce and onions from ;Mar £1.20) 
lemonade (40p)
Yogurt (2 x 80p)
Chicken pieces (1.99)
Hot Chocolate (99p) 

I DONT buy cakes or biscuits, but I do buy the ingredients to make them and have baking powder, raisins etc in the cupboard board all the time.  I buy one loaf a week and then make all the rest (lidl do a really good inexpensive bread flour and I buy in bulk when passing).
I also make sure I have Ice cream and cone in  and when we hear the ice cream van  we make our own.  Sprinkles on top to make special or if they are really lucky then we might have a flake.

The garden is a huge source of produce for me, the peas are just coming to pod and the beans will be ready in the next few weeks. The spinach and chard is all cut and come again. We have tomatoes and onions, which we turned in to pasta sauce last year.
I always check the Internet to find out who has what offers on and shop around to ensure I get the best deal.  I will buy cheese and freeze it.
So how much do you spend on your weekly shop and how do you keep the bills down in the current climate?

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