Saturday, 30 November 2013

Save money in your home - The Hallway

This week I am concentrating on ways to save money in the entrance way to your home.  We often forget this area, but it is the first place that you see and also the front line between the elements and your home.

  1. Keep heat in your home by adding a door curtain to your front door.  You can line it with a cheap fleece blanket rather than buying expensive thermal lined curtains.
  2. Use a draft excluder at the bottom of your door.
  3. Make sure your letter box has draft excluders installed.  We just changed ours at the cost of £5 and it has made a really big difference.
  4. Use all those charity bags you get through the door to line bin's throughout the house!
  5. Installed LED bulbs in your lights.  Lights in hallways are often on for longer than any other within the house.
Previous posts in this series include:

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

10 Tips for General Clothes Care

Clothes are expensive and I try to ensure that the clothes we have are looking the best they can and that means caring for them. So here are my top 10 tips for looking after your clothes.

  1. Rub zipper teeth with the stub of a candle to keep them running effectively.  You can also use graphite pencil lead to do this.
  2. Clean velcro with a pin, removing any fluff or cottons, so they they stick effectively
  3. Remove lint, either with a lint roller or with tape wrapped the wrong way round your hand (so the sticky side is on the outside)
  4. Launder your clothes correctly
  5. A dab of clear nail polish in the centre of buttons will stop the cotton fraying and keep the buttons on for longer
  6. Steam clothes to remove creases or offensive smells either with a steamer or by hanging in the bathroom whilst you have a shower.
  7. Repair any damage.  I repair any holes and I am a big fan of Jennie Maizels Clothes Plasters for iron on repairs.
  8. Only wash clothes when they are dirty, each wash damages the fabric a little more.  It is OK to return worn clothes to the wardrobe
  9. Hang your clothes and allow them to air if possible.  Use good quality handers and make sure your clothes have room.  Hang them on the hanger with care to make sure that they are not pulled out of shape.
  10. Do not use a tumble dryer.  Dryers wear out fabric quickly. They also set stains and make seams twist and make some hems turn upwards

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Win a £60 Amazon Voucher with Barclaycard Freedom Rewards and A Thrifty Mum

Barclaycard Freedom Reward Card asked me to take their 60 second survey to see what shopping tribe I was part off.  

Barclaycard and Brunel University have collaborated to research the modern way in which we shop and how UK shoppers can now be defined into four new shopping tribes. 

I am a Bargain Hunter Gatherer:

You're an expert at collecting the best tools, voucher codes and loyalty cards to make your budget go as far as possible, week in, week out. While the kids are doing their homework, you're doing yours - grabbing the best savings for your family. Key facts about you:
  • You're most likely to be female, married or living with your partner and living in the north of the UK.
  • You lot are busy. Two thirds of you cleverly juggle your home, work and financial life.
  • You're not easily tempted by big discounts, only 35% of you have ever bought a non-essential item you didn't need because of a special offer.
  • Home really is where the heart is - 42% of you selflessly save your loyalty card points up for treats for the family.
  • You're certainly not one to rush into Christmas shopping. You'll bide your time and wait until the right price comes up - meaning you'll likely strike the final week before Christmas.
  • Bargain hunting's in your blood. Once you smell a bargain, the hunt is on - two thirds of you regularly shop around different stores and websites to get the best deal before settling on a purchase.

This is a pretty accurate description of me.

I have a £60 Amazon Voucher to giveway to a lucky Thrifty Mum Reader who takes the survey and comes back and tells me which shopping tribe they belong to and if they agree with the result..

Entry is by the rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 25 November 2013

Lets talk about cost versus value

How can you be a thrifty or frugal blogger when you are reviewing a pair of boots that cost £125?  Well before I get to the review I want to cover the cost versus value argument.

My last pair of BIker Boots cost £110 and lasted over eight years.  I wore them most days over the winter.  So lets say I wore them 90 days a year over 8 years that is 720 days wear, which makes then around 15p per wear.

Contrast that to the pair I got in replacement last winter that cost £30 for a well known supermarket that didn't even last two months!

So I have decided I would rather save up and buy something that will last and is comfortable and that has more value to me.

Anyway on to the boots - Dr Martins Diza Ankle Biker Boot from Cloggs, which are 124.99.

I adore them.  They are hard wearing, stylish but more than that they have an air cushioned sole which makes them bliss to wear.

I was concerned that they didn't have a zip and that I would find them hard to get on as I have a high instep and fat foot, but they are not and they are warm, comfy and are going to be my new go to boot.  They have a slight heel,. which at five foot two I really need and are great to wear all day long without your feet aching.

The boots have a distressed leather upper, so will only get better with age and I love them!

Exclusive Money Off Code

Before you go rushing off to buy these fab boots, make sure you check out Savoo for exclusive Cloggs money off voucher codes

Disclosure: I was sent a pair of Dr Martins Diza Ankle Biker Boot from Cloggs to review thanks to Savoo UK

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Walking with Dinosaurs Free colouring pages

When we are at the cinema watching Turbo, the boys were captivated by the Trailer for Walking with Dinosaurs, which is out in December.  They also love these colouring in sheets too.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

5 ways to save money in the bathroom - Thrifty Household Tips

Over the coming weeks, I am going to be looking at ways to save money in each of the rooms in your home.  I am going to try and avoid the obvious ones and come up with some new ones.

  1. Squeeze your toilet roll, so the tube isnt round.  That way it is harder to remove loads of loo roll making it last longer.  Perfect it you have children that use far too much.
  2. Cut the bottom or top off your products to make sure you get the most out of them.
  3. Do not leave the tap running when you are brushing your teeth. Did you know when you brush your teeth under running water you can use as much as 10 litres of water per minute
  4. To help keep the water in your bath warmer, remove the panel off your bath and stuff the area under the bath with either loft insulation or even newspaper before putting the panel back on.
  5. Adjust Your Water Heater: Home water heaters are almost always set too high - adjust your water heater to 60 degrees, the recommended temperature for a hot water heater as set by the energy saving trust.
I would love your tips for saving money in the bathroom. 

The Three Most Child-Friendly Pieces of Tech This Christmas

We’ve passed the threshold of Halloween, which means that Christmas is well and truly on its way. The advertisements on TV herald its arrival. Now is the time when the shrewd Christmas shoppers get in before the apocalyptic rush through most of December. It’s true that children these days can work out most pieces of technology, but some are more child-friendly than others. Here are my top three suggestions:

3rd Place – Fujifilm FinePix

Sadly, playing outside with trees and nature is fighting a losing battle against playing inside with high-tech gadgets and games. A great way to join the two together is to encourage your children to take lots of photographs. If you get your child a digital camera, you can take them out on trips and tell them they are responsible for the day’s photo album. You’ll be amazed how eager your child will be to go outside if they are encouraged to take as many photos as possible. The Fuji FinePix is a great digital camera for kids as it is waterproof (up to five metres), shockproof, dustproof and freezeproof (up to 10°). On top of all that, it has a 16 megapixel resolution and digital image stabilisation. You can get a Fuji FinePix pretty cheap on the Viking site, here.

2nd  Place – Tablets

Tablets are incredibly child-friendly. There is a wide variety of apps on the android and apple app stores that are specifically designed for children. They are also great for watching videos – so you can slap some cartoons on the Tablet, thus freeing your TV for yourself. This is especially handy considering how great the programming is over Christmas. Tablets also have a variety of apps to help you teach your children. There are apps to help with reading, writing, mathematics, science, and pretty much anything else you can think of.  Viking has a large selection of tablets for you to deliberate over. Price is the main factor. But that’s another reason why tablets are a great present for children: you can get some very cheap ones. Getting a cheaper tablet for your seven-year-old will allow you to relax a little and not worry that your little bundle of joy is trundling around the house with a breakable small fortune in their hands.

1st Place – Wii U or Wii

With so many games consoles to choose from, it can be really tricky to figure out which one to buy your child. Nintendo is almost a more popular option for any child aged from 3-14. This is because they have a huge amount of light-hearted, bright and happy games that are perfect for young children.  Another bonus is that some of the more infamous adult computer games, such as Grand Theft Auto and Saint’s Row simply aren’t available for Nintendo consoles – so you don’t need to worry about your little ones borrowing inappropriate games from a friend in school. Get the classic Wii if money is tight. It’s been out since 2006, so it has come down massively in price.  The Wii is actually no longer being made, but there are plenty still available to buy. There are also lots of second-hand games available for the Wii, both online and in most game shops.

If you have a little more money to spend, then invest in a Wii U now, instead of getting pestered into getting it in a year or two. The Wii U (available from the Nintendo online store) is an updated, high definition, higher performance Wii with a controller that has an embedded touchscreen on it. Your children will love the Wii U and it is the newest Nintendo console out there, so you won’t need to get a new model in a year or two.

Best of luck shopping for your little ones this Christmas.  I hope this has been useful to you – or that it has got you thinking about the most child-friendly presents at least.  

Monday, 18 November 2013

WIn £100 to Spend at Cotton Traders with Savoo

I am one of those people that has real issues with wellies.  I have a high instep and really wide feet, but with a puppy and two football playing monsters I need waterproof boots.  Thankfully Cotton Traders have come to the rescue with their Highland Waterproof Boots.

Not only are they waterproof, they have a lovely warm lining and will keep my feet toasty as well as dry.  I can also get them on easily as they have a zip.  They are going to make dog walking and football watching so much more fun.

Currently Savoo have a competition to win £100 at Cotton Traders on the Savoo Facebook Page.

How cool are these Christmas Jumpers!  Make sure you check out Savoo's site for any exclusive cotton trader voucher codes before you order then though!

Disclosure: Cotton Traders sent me a pair of the Highland Waterproof Boots.  

Friday, 15 November 2013

Do you allow technology in the bedroom?

Anyone that knows me will know that our bedrooms are a technology free zone.  We also have a screen free rule for the boys after 6pm.  It seems as though I am in the minority!

Sleeping with Technology in the Bedroom - An infographic by Carpetright Beds

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Free Dear Santa Letter from Wink Designs

How cool is this free printable Dear Santa Letter from the very talented Wink Designs.

All you need so is print it off from the goodies section of her online store.  Whilst you are at it why not take a look at the amazing prints there too.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Dairy Diary 2014 and the Clever One Pot Cookbook

The Dairy Diary really brings back so many memories for me.  Every year my mum used to get one from the milk man and then she would li9ne them up with her cookbooks, as she swore by the recipes in it.

For anyone who has never seen a Dairy Diary before, then take a look at the video below and you will see why it has stood the test of time.

In addition to the Dairy Diary I was also sent a copy of The Clever One pot cookbook and I have to say we are hooked.  This is truly a book for the ipad generation.  It uses QR codes - each recipe has a 'barcode' you can scan on your phone or tablet to automatically create you a text file as a shopping list of all the ingredients you will need, which is just fantastic.

I have been testing out some of the recipes and they go from super simple to a couple of hours cooking time, but one that has been requested three times since I made it is the rustic vegetable pilaf.

It is certainly becoming a much thumbed book when it comes to menu planning.

Thanks to the Dairy Diary, I have one copy of the 2014 Diary to give away and also a copy of the Clever One Pot Cookbook.  Entry is via the rafflecopter below 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 8 November 2013

20 % of at Toys R Us 9 November until Sunday 10 November

This is fab deal if your children have some toys ion their christmas list as Toys R Us is offering 20% off from Saturday 09 November until Sunday 10 November. You will need to use the HSAVE20NOV promotional code to get your discount.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

A grown up bedroom for Maxi

Way back in the summer Maxi designed his dream bedroom.  He wanted something that was light, bright and grown up.  He wanted to be able to personalise it with posters and change them as and when rather than have a bedroom themed in any way.

Trying to find anything suitable was a real nightmare and led us to the conclusion that there is a real gap in the market for boys bedrooms, especially if they don't want, football, lego, dinosaurs etc

Great Little Trading Company (GLTC) came to the rescue with their fantastic bright accessories and wonderful book shelves.

  1. Maxi's desk from Ikea, which is accessorized with Globe pencil pot (£2.95) from DotComGiftshop and lamp from Sainsburys
  2. Lampshade - Metal Cameo Shade from Next (£25)
  3. Shelves - Star book ledge (£29 each) from GLTC
  4. Bedding - Debenhams
  5. Lampshade - Next
  6. Canvass - World Map Wall Canvass (£65) from GLTC
  7. Shelving - Deep half sized shelf from Argos, with Globe money box (£8.95) from Dotcomgiftshop 
  8. Rug - Rainbow chevron rug £150) from GLTC

We still haven't finished his room and will be looking for some bright accessories and fairy lights over the coming weeks (once we are back from holiday).  We also have a bright set of star hooks to hang (but want to wait until we are finished)  and also need go get some more wall art (a map of the world).

We are really hoping that this will see Maxi from Tween to Teen and hopefully grow and develop with him.

Disclosure: After seeing our dream bedroom post GLTC approached us and supplied the above items as did Next and Dotcomgiftshop.


Wednesday, 6 November 2013

£1 books sale and win 4 childrens Christmas Books

The fab people at Autumn Books are having a super £1 book sale in aid of Children in Need from 10am Thursday 12 November until 4pm Thursday 14 November2013.

Autumn Books has also been king enough to provide me with a fab selection of their christmas books to give away to one lucky reader of A Thrifty Mum.

Press out and Make Christmas Fun, Make your own nativity scene, The story of Christmas and 1001 Christmas Stickers could be yours in time for lots of Christmas crafting, reading ands sticking.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Do you encourage your children to keep a journal?

As a child I never kept a diary.  I never thought to write down my feelings in to a book.  to jot down the everyday things that happened and as an adult I really wish I did.

I really want to encourage my boys to keep a journal and they both have a three year one with prompts for a simple answer each night.

Mini is like me and has a real love for stationery and when sent us some of their remarkable range (stationery that used to be something else) he claimed it for himself.  He has been using it to write notes, plan out his fantasy football team and challenge himself with sums.

He personalised his book with some fab Washi tape from Scotch tape and carries it around with him.

He can often be found curled up with this notebook and pen in hand and it melts my heart.

I am really grateful to the stationery sent my Memotec, as it means that he can indulge in his love of stationery too (he is just like his mummy with that love)!

Do your children keep a diary or journal?

Monday, 4 November 2013

Transforming my Bathstore Bathroom Cabinet

I was set a challenge by Bathstore to customise one of their fab bathroom cabinets.  We chose the Savoy mirrored cabinet and decided that it was going to go in our downstairs loo.

So first things first we went to install the cabinet and decided that we needed to paint the room!  So I set MadDad to work with the paintbrush, whilst I put my thinking cap on for the customisation project.

Now the thing is this cabinet is beautiful.  Well made and finished and I contemplated painting it bright yellow, but the boys used their veto!

So I decided to get creative with my Cricut mini and I made a vinyl decal to stick on the mirror in grey saying "smile you are beautiful".

I love positive affirmations and I always tell the boys that they are beautiful on the inside and the outside, so this seemed really apt for us.

The room is so small that it is hard to get a good picture, but we love it and are really happy with our small, but significant change.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

My tongue in cheek to do list

Are you a list writer?
In my corporate life BC (Before Children) I was a Facilities Manager and lots of my work involved project management.  I was queen of the lists.  I was permanently ticking things off my to do list and my other list off delegated to do's!
I think that part of the reason that I was susceptible to post natal depression was my perfectionist tendencies and also the unrealistic expectations I had of being a mum.

My to do lists today are very different than that of my previous life and yes I have a daily list but this is countered by my seasonal manifesto, which encourages a more positive way of living for me and encourages short term aims and goals.
So this is my tongue in cheek to do list for any new parent!
  • I must stop thinking that I am in control. I will NEVER be in control of anything ever again
  • I must add 30 minutes to any deadline or appointment as we are always late
  • I must be prepared to eat my words.  You know all that "I am never letting my child have a dummy", "behave like that" or be a fussy eater.  
  • I must not call my other half Daddy in public (even if I have forgot his name due to sleep deprivation)!
  • The five second rule totally rocks
  • Do not put the dummy in your mouth before passing it back to the baby once it has been dropped on the floor
  • I must not wipe my babies face with spit on a tissue - yuk
One thing that was really important to me when we had Maxi was ensuring that we had ticked life insurance off our to do list (partly as I am married to an accountant, but mainly due to the irrational fear I had that I was going to die)!

So tell me what would you add to my list for any new parent to be?

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Edible Sparklers for Bonfire Night

This is something we have been doing for five years now and the boys just love it.  It really is as simple as can be.

It really is as simple as breadsticks which you cover one end of with melted chocolate (we brush our on with a silicone brush) and then cake sprinklers to make the sparkles!

To make them extra special this year we used popping candy on the too!  A big thank you to Dr Oetker for supplying us a host of chocolate and baking items to make this possible.

Saving Money on Toys this Christmas

With Christmas just around the corner, it’s around about now that parents all over the country will start panicking about how they are going to afford the festivities as well as treating the kids as much as they deserve to be.

While it can be incredibly tempting to head for the toy stores and spend every penny you have on the kids’ Christmas lists, there are ways that you can save money on play goodies. Be sensible, and think ahead and you can see your money go much further this Christmas, without scrimping on presents.

Start Now

If you start a little earlier, you will be able to take advantage of any mid-season sales that may pop up between now and the big day. By making a list of things you want to buy and crossing things off as you go, you will be able to stick to a budget without overspending frivolously.

Use the Sales

As mentioned above, use the sales. There are usually loads of great toy sales in the run up to Christmas, with many products being half price or in 3 for 2 offers. Your money can go a lot further, being able to buy gifts for all the kids, from a baby gym for tiny ones to a dolls’ house.

Check the stores after Xmas

Plan ahead for 2014 and pick up some of the fabulous post-festive bargains. Shops such as Boots often sell some of the 3 for 2 gifts for less than half price after the big day is done and dusted. You can also do this for stocking fillers gifts so that you pay a fraction of the price you would in November.

Shop Around

Don’t assume that, just because Argos has a toy sale on, that they are the cheapest place for the toys you’re after. Shop around so that you know you’re getting the best deal.

Shop Online

Before you go out and buy the toys you’ve seen in the high street, check online to see how much they are. Sites such as Amazon are often extremely competitively priced and, if you take advantage of the free month’s Prime trial or choose items with free super saver delivery, you won’t have to pay postage, either!

Buy Second Hand

Your children won’t care if everything they have is brand new. If you find something they’d love that has been used but is still fantastic quality, buy it!

Don’t panic about the predicted cost of Christmas – be careful, and it doesn't have to be as expensive you might think! 

Friday, 1 November 2013

Bonfire Night advice for pets

Thanks to Pets at Home for this infographic.  This year will be our first with our puppy Alvin who is now 6 months old.
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