Thursday, 23 August 2012

Easy homemade Ginger and Lime Sugar Body Scrub

We were invited to London this week to meet with the team from Smart Shoppers and I had the the opportunity to be part of a workshop on making affordable and brilliant quality home made beauty products, which would make perfect gifts, but also ensure that you made a saving on buying them.

One of the things we made was ginger and Lime Sugar Body Scrub.  I used this scrub this morning before I got in the shower and can vouch that it is AMAZING.  Not only does it smell divine, but it contains no nasty's and is super easy to make.



Ingredients:


  1. Brown Demerara Sugar
  2. Cane Sugar
  3. Essential oils (we used ginger and lime)
  4. Oil (we used olive oil, but you could use any base oil)
  5. Container
  6. A stirrer (If you are going to be making lots, then use a glass cocktail stirrer as it will not absorb the aromatherapy oils and can be reused).


Method:

  • Take one tablespoon of each of the sugars (The demerara is courser, so has more exfoliating properties, but the cane sugar is more delicate) and add to your container.
  • Cover with oil, making sure you stir it.
  • Add 6 drops of essential oil (I used 4 drops of lime to 2 drops of ginger)
  • Repeat the process until your container is full.  The aim is to have a layer of oil above the surface of the sugar, as it will dry out as you take it out of the container.




Tips for shopping safely online

More and more people are choosing to shop line rather than in physical shops.  I often do most of my shopping online.  As a mum with children I know the pain of having to take them shopping with me.

So here are my top tips for shopping safely online:


  1. Choose a reputable retailer - If you haven't heard of a retailer before, read reviews to find out what other consumers thought of their service.  Check if it is a bricks and mortar shop with an online presence and ring them to confirm this.
  2. Antivirus Software -If you don't have an antivirus program installed on your computer, that should be the place to start before you shop and give out valuable personal information like your credit card number. 
  3. If you don't feel comfortable buying or bidding on an item over the web, or if you feel pressured to place your order immediately, maybe you shouldn't. 
  4. If it seems too good to be true, it often is!  Check the prices for individual items such as Latest Pandora Charms in local shops as well as other online retailers.
  5. Pay by credit card - Paying by credit card will give you extra protection for anything you buy over the value of £100.00. So in case your product arrives damaged or you have problems, your credit card company will help you rectify the problem.
  6. Padlock - Always ensure when you are entering card details, you can see a locked padlock or unbroken key symbol next to the address bar or at the bottom of the page.  Double clicking on the padlock symbol will display further security information for the site.
  7. Review the return, refund, and shipping and handling policies as well as the other legal terms . If you can't find them, ask the seller through an e-mail or telephone call to indicate where they are on the site or to provide them to you in writing
  8. Print the terms. You should print out and date a copy of terms, conditions, warranties, item description, company information, even confirming e-mails, and save them with your records of your purchase.
  9. Print and save confirmation documents - Once you have made an online purchase, you will receive a confirmation order number or email. It is important that you print and save this information in case you need to chase up the order.
  10. Ensure the safe delivery of your item. If you're concerned you may not be home when your package is delivered and that someone may take it if it is left on the doorstep, ask whether you can specify that the shipper must receive a signature before leaving the package



The office of fair trading has a great information document about shopping safely online


Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Keeping your computer healthy and PC Tools giveaway


One of the most expensive items in my home is my PC.  I had my old laptop for over 5 years and we thought long and hard before we invested in a replacement PC.  In my past life I used to work for a major software company and it was drilled in to us to always ensure that we backed up and kept our PC's healthy.

This is something that often falls through the cracks with home PC's and laptops and I offered a one year subscription to PC Tools performance toolkit.  I have been using this over the last two months and have seen a vast improvement in the speed on my PC. 

PC Tools Performance Toolkit is a very easy bit of software which can prolong the life of your PC by removing the clutter by fixing registry errors and defragging hard disks (plus much more). Once its installed and after it’s been run for the first time it runs in the background (so you can get on with having fun with your family) making sure your computer stays running faster for longer



I have a copy of PC Tools Performance Tool kit to giveaway (which retails at £39.99) and runs on upto 3 PC's for one year to giveaway.

All you have to do is leave me a comment telling me how old your PC or laptop is and enter via rafflecopter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I also have some easy performance enhancing tips for PCs from Richard Clooke, Security and Performance Expert from PC Tools:

  1.     Empty the Recycle Bin
Get rid of all useless files that are cluttering your PC by regularly empting your recycle bin

2.       Delete Unused Programmes
Once you’ve taken care of these maintenance basics, you can really start cleaning. Delete duplicate files and remove programs that haven’t been used for a year. Not only will you benefit from more hard drive space and a less cluttered start menu, but your computer will run faster too

3.       Clear out all temporary internet files and cookies
It’s simple but effective. Most browsers have an option within browser settings to clear out internet browser history and cookies with one click (this is also very handy if you share a computer and don’t want anyone to see what you’ve been up to). Your browser might also have a private browsing mode that stops you collecting cookies in the first place.

4.       Run Disk Cleanup
Follow these steps – click Start, then Programs, then Accessories, and finally you’ll get to System Tools which will allow you to remove temporary files, downloaded programs and all sorts of other junk from your hard drive

5.       Defrag your PC’s hard disk
This is also located in your computer’s start-up menu and in system tools. Depending on which OS your PC has, it can be part of the administrative tools or standard system tools. It takes a while to run but you can do it overnight or set it to run as you leave to catch up with mates in the pub.

6.       Make sure your internet security is up to date
Most Internet Security programmes now have automatic updates which work in the background. Make sure you have the most up to date virus protection and run a full system scan. Cleaning your PC of any malware, Trojans and spyware will help your PC perform better and help protect you from identity theft

7.       Get some software to do it all for you
We don’t all have the luxury of time and it costs less than a fun night out with your mates to buy some software. You can download programs that will run an ‘MOT’ on your PC and make a variety of changes to improve the performance. PC Tools Performance Toolkit will scan your Registry and defrag your hard disk, optimise your PC’s startup processes and remove unnecessary files that you no longer need. It updates automatically and runs silently in the background, so once it’s installed you can get back to the bar and leave it to do its thing. 


Monday, 20 August 2012

Cleaning your Tumble Dryer

I know, I know, this is a blog about being a thrifty mum, so why do I have a tumble dryer?  Well I hold my hands up and say that we have one as we live in the frozen North of the country and it is often raining.  We do not use it all that often, but there are times when I need to have things dried quicker than just leaving it around the house to dry on it's own.



So as with everything else I have the key to longevity and efficiency is keeping it in good condition and clean for when I do use it.  

We happen to have a condenser dryer and use the water to water our plants etc.

After each use take out the lint filter and remove the fluff and empty the washer storage area.

Monthly when in use:
  • Remove the condenser unit and run water through it to remove any lint build up
  • Using a 50/50 white vinegar and water solution wipe the seals and inside the drum of the machine
  • Remove the lint filter and wash and allow to dry
  • Vacuum the filter area to remove any lint
  • Pull out the tumble dryer and vacuum around the rear
  • Wipe the top and rear of the machine with your vinegar solution
  • Wipe the outside of the machine

As with the washing machine it pays to keep the door open when not in use.


Monday, 13 August 2012

Can you kit out a child for school for £80?

Maxi will be going in to year three and Mini in to Year two in September and as a budgeting mum I have become quite experienced in finding the best deals for school uniform and was challenged by vouchercodes.co.uk to try and kit them out for £80 and I wanted to share with you my top tips.



I have been amazed at the quality and cost of school uniforms on offer from the supermarkets this year.  We were sent some Aldi school uniforms, which are amazing value and seem to be comparable to the other uniform we have tried out in the quality stakes, my only issue being the trousers do not have adjustable waists (but what can you expect for £1.50 a pair), but you can always buy a snake belt.

Retailer
Polo shirts
Sweaters
Trousers/skirts
Overall cost
Comments
£1.25
£1.25
£1.50
£4
Offer starts on 2nd August.  Same price regardless of size.
75p each
£2
£1.75
£4.50        
Prices apply to ages 3 – 16.
£1.25 each
£2
£2
£5.25
For ages 3-5 only. Prices go up incrementally for older children.
£1.25 each
£2
£3
£6.25
Prices apply to ages 3 - 16
£1.50
£3
£3.50
£8
For ages 3 – 5 only. Prices go up for incrementally older children
£2.50 each
£3.00
£4.00
£9.50
Prices from 4-6 only.  Prices go up for incrementally older children
I have to say that I love Aldi's school coats (£9.99) and went and bought one for each of the boys.  They have had them for the last three years and they have washed and worn exceptionally well.

Shoes are the one thing that take my shop over the £80 mark, as I insist on Clarks shoes for the boys, especially Mini has he has ultra wide feet with a high instep.  This year Mini's shoes were £42 and his plimsolls £9.  Both boys need to have trainers for school for outdoor sports, so for Mini these have to be from Clarks again and cost £24 for the Clarks outlet shop.

My top tips on saving on Uniform are:
  • Buy generic sweaters and find a local embroiderer who will put the school badge on them.  Our village one charges £4 for a badge.
  • Buy earlier as you can as lots of the shops have offers on.  Sainsburys often have a 25% off and Marks and Spencer were offering 20% off earlier in the summer
  • Don't buy shorts.  Turn any trouser which are too small or have damaged knees in to shorts by cutting them and wonderwebing hems.
  • Buy an elastic belt to help keep trousers up.
  • Clothes Plasters are a great way of making trousers last longer.
  • Buy short sleeved shirts.  Schools are warm places and there is no need for long sleeves
  • Always check for offers on sites such as vouchercodes 



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