Tuesday, 24 April 2012

How to clean a dirty oven

I am not one for using many chemicals if I can get away with it and have always found cleaning my oven to be such a chore and hate the thought of using harsh chemicals on it.

Not any more, the secret is Bicarb of Soda


  1. Large quantities of bicarbonate of soda (not the little supermarket baking pots),
  2. Warm water.
  3. Bowl
  4. Cloth
  5. A paint brush
  6. A scraper or some sorts, I use a plastic pollyfiller knife, but a wallpaper scraper is fine

You can get larger quantities of bicarbonate of soda from your local chemist or online.  I have used Summer Naturals in the past.
  • Mix the bicarb and water into a thick paste, so that it doesn't drip
  • Use the paint brush to coat the paste across the oven door and walls
  • Leave for at least 30 minutes to allow the brown residue to begin to soften and melt
  • Scrape off the paste
  • For any stubborn areas reapply the paste and repeat.
  • Using a clean cloth make sure you remove all residue
  • You can also do the same with the shelves and racks, but I would advise leaving for an hour or so and making the paste lightly thicker, so you can get it on.  Also a butter knife is the perfect scraper for them.
If you have any suggestions for oven cleaning, I would love to hear them.

Friday, 20 April 2012

National Trust's Free Weekend 2012

My friend Cass from A Frugal Family reminded me that this weekend is the National Trust's ‘Free Weekend’ where they invite people to visit over 200 of their properties for free.  This years Free Weekend is happening this weekend – the 21st and 22nd April.
You need to make sure you register online to get your free voucher

Free Holiday Puzzle Pack from Netflights and Games for travelling

Maxi loves puzzles. He has a really analytical mind and loves crosswords, word searches, mazes and suduo.  He will quite happily sit for hours with puzzle books and is faster than me at most of them.

Mini is going the same way too and we have lots of fun as a family playing word games and they both have puzzel books in the car.
So when Netflights told me that they had a new free summer holiday puzzle pack on their site, I thought it would be a perfect thing to tell you all about.

Games for travelling

  • Eye Spy
  • I don't spy 
  • Who am I? - We pretend to be a person eg Doctor and the others ask us questions and we answer them without saying what we are. 
  • What animal am I?
  • Find 30 green things or other colours
  • Think of a number
  • Bake a yukky cake. When I bake a cake I use ..... then add an ingredient, everyone adds a new ingredient and says the previous ones, until someone forgets.
  • Impressions
  • Funny faces, we pull funny faces and the first one to laugh at the loses
  • Look for letters. Pick a word eg house and then you have to find something that begins with each o f the letters
  • Yes and No. You have to answer questions without saying yes or no.
  • Rhyming Lines.  One person says a line and the next person has to make something up to rhyme with it and so on
  • Sitting statues (my favorite)!

I would love to know what games you play when travelling.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Free flowers for England's community gardens with Rowse Honey

We love bees.  Maxi even made a finger print bee cup for one of his teachers a couple of years ago. So we really like the project that Rowse Honey are currently undertaking (we have not been paid to tell you about this)

Honeybees make the yummiest, scrummiest natural fuel on the planet. To say thanks to the bees, Rowse are planting thousands of bee-friendly flowers. But they want you to get involved!

Write a thank you note to the bees on their Facebook page, and they’ll plant a flower just for you, with your very own message on it.  Then they will send you a photo so you can see!

That means there’ll be thousands of flowers all throughout England’s community gardens, with thank you notes to the bees from their fans.

Over the next couple of weeks  Rowse will be hand-writing notes, tending soil, planting flowers and snapping every one so they can send you your own photo. Then they will send all the flowers to community gardens.

So come along and write a thank you note on their Facebook page

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Free school activity packs

The lovely people at Trutex, who make rather spiffing school uniforms (we reviewed Trutex school uniforms on The Mad House) have produced a spring and summer activity pack for primary school children.

All you have to do to get hold of 100 for your school is contact kcottier@trutex.com with the name of a contact at your school and the schools address and they will post a bundle of 100 out for them.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012


The burst of Spring we had the other week has got me thinking about cleaning.  Now I am not a clean freak, but I do like to have a pretty clean house as I am a firm believer in tidy house, tidy head!

One of the hardest things for me as a mum was balancing the need to have a clean and tidyish house with the constant attention that a baby, toddler, preschooler (delete as appropriate) required.

It wasn't easy, but I did manage to get in to a routine and now that Spring is here and the boys will be back at school next week, I need a kick up the backside to get back in to it again.

So I am going to include a weekly cleaning prompt on the blog and I do hope that you will join in.

This week I am going to talk about my theory on housework.

  1. We all have jobs and the boys have been included in cleaning and tiding since they could walk.  They both had their own cleaning kits, including a feather duster, cloth and brush, so they could copy me when I cleaned when they were smaller.
  2. Delegate.  MadDad has his daily tasks and I made it very explicit that these were his to do ie Empty the dishwasher before work, empty the bin, put the recycling out.  I also made it clear when and how often they needed doing,  Men do not get hints!
  3. Little and often.  I believe in doing a little each day rather than a huge amount each week.
  4. Have a place for everything and encourage people to put things back in its place.  Your house may not be clean, but it will look a little tidier and plus you are empowering your children.  We have a laundry basket in the downstairs loo with two compartments, one for lights and one darks.. The boys always put their laundry in the basket and they learnt the difference between lights and darks pretty quickly.
  5. Use a timer.  I set my timer for 15 minute increments.  Spend 15 minutes on something and them move on to the next.  A timer works wonders with children and tidying, as you can challenge them to do some thing before the buzzer goes off.  With smaller children have a tidy up song.  We used to play one off Colours are Brighter by The Barcelona Pavillion.

The idea is that I will give you a room a week that we will concentrate on cleaning, but we are also going to develope a routine that will suit you, that you can implement each day.  We are going to turn cleaning in to a habit that fits in with your lifestyle.

We are going to create a binder with all your routines, chores, information and contacts in.Your household organiser.  Now I tend to do this on excel and print it off to pop in a book, but we are going to add a new part each week.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Quick and Easy Ways to Cut Your Weekly Food Bill

Tips to trim the pounds off your trolley

Families in the UK are cutting back on how much they spend on food and household shopping, saving an average of £35 a week compared to before the recession. Now, more than ever, offers, discounts and vouchers are big news for shoppers. So here are some quick tips to cut your weekly food bill:

Try own brands:
Lots of supermarkets’ own brands are worth a look these days, and if you’re on a tight budget consider their ‘no frills’ lines, such as Essential Waitrose, Sainsbury’s Basics, Asda Smartprice and Tesco Value. Try them once, and switch back if you don’t like them. Budget supermarkets such as Aldi, Netto and Lidl offer massive savings – just because a brand isn’t a household name doesn’t mean it’s no good.

Be savvy about coupons:
Save all the coupons you can, and look out for discount offers on online shopping. Many food delivery services offer a discount on your first order, and there’s nothing to stop you shopping your way through each one of them.

BOGOF with caution:
Buy One Get One Free offers might seem attractive, but are they just a way to get you to buy in bulk? Think whether you need twice as much and will use it before you buy – and check the prices elsewhere to make sure you’re getting a real bargain.

Buy big:
Generally, it’s cheaper to buy things in bigger packets as long as you’ll use them. Mini-packs, snack-packs or anything small that’s marketed to children tends to be more expensive.

Check use-by dates:
If you’re buying in bulk or snapping up a special offer, make sure you’re buying something you’ll actually use. Look closely at use-by dates and think realistically about whether you’ll have time to eat it. A bargain is not a bargain if it ends up in the bin.

Stick to your list:
Don’t be tempted by sweets and magazines by the till, don’t browse things you don’t need and don’t even look at special offers on the end of aisles – you might think you’re saving cash, but ask yourself if you really need them!

Look after your shopping:
If you’re buying frozen or chilled food, make sure you can transport it home before it goes off. And lock your shopping away safely in your car. John Lewis Home Insurance pays up to £350 for ‘shopping in transit’, which covers loss or damage to food and domestic shopping while you take it home.

About John Lewis Insurance

John Lewis Home Insurance offers good value and the high standard of customer service you’d expect. Some of the benefits on offer:
  • Unlimited Buildings and Contents Cover*
  • Accidental Damage Cover for buildings and contents - from a DIY mishap to red wine on the carpet
  • Alternative Accommodation – somewhere to stay if your home becomes uninhabitable, following loss or damage covered by the policy
  • Worldwide Personal Possessions Cover up to £25,000.
  • Optional 24 hour Home Emergency service - up to £1,500 including labour and parts.

* There is no total sum insured but money, single article and total valuable limits apply

For more information about John Lewis Home Insurance please visit the website here - www.johnlewis-insurance.com/homepage/home-insurance.html.

John Lewis Insurance is a trading name of John Lewis plc. John Lewis plc is an appointed representative of AXA Insurance UK plc which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

Terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions and eligibility criteria apply. A full copy of the policy wording and the insurance complaints procedure are available on request.
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