Friday, 28 November 2014

Lets keep warm this winter

Can you believe that ti is winter - I can not.  It is so mild out there at the moment, but it will come the colder days and frozen nights.   So I have decided to take part in the Duette Blind competition as my home could seriously do with some new blinds.

One the the things that I do as soon as it starts to get dark is close all the blinds and curtains in the house to keep the cold out and make sure we keep the warm in.

Follow Jen Walshaw's board Keeping warm this winter on Pinterest.

I have put together a Pinterest board with ways that are not only great for keeping a home warm this winter, but also look gorgeous too.

A big one for us as a family is to make sure that we are appropriately dressed at home, for me this means PJ's, dressing gowns and slouchy socks and slippers. If the boys are walking round in less than that and I have the heating on then it means we have too warm a house!

My other easy to implement tips are:

Line your curtains - if you are not handy with a sewing machine then use fleece blankets - look at how Elaine at mortgage free in three manages with fleece and shower curtain rings - totally ingenious.

Flannel bedding (or brushed cotton) I adore the feel of brushed cotton and so do the boys, so in addition to winter weight duvets we also have flannelette sheets and duvet covers for all the beds.

Hot water bottles - these are ace for making the bed warm and cosy to get in to.  If you are worried about little ones and hot water bottles then use heat packs filled with lavender, cherry stones or wheat.

Wear vests and make your kids wear them.  Layers are key for keeping warm.

 More tips for preparing your home for winter.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Cleanliness is Next To Stylishness When It Comes to Blinds and Drapes

Walk around your house and look at the surfaces. Do you see dust on them? What about the drapes and curtains? You will not see dust on them, though you may notice cat or dog fur. If you beat the fabric, though, you will see plenty of dust puff into the air, unless you have washed it recently. What about your other window treatments? Whether or not you notice, they have lots of dust clinging to them, too. Usually it is quite easy to see the dust that cakes up on your blinds.

Part of maintaining a stylish or fashionable house is to also make sure that it is relatively clean. Imagine your embarrassment upon hearing a guest remark about the dust billowing from a curtain that she bumped. Or your discomfort after seeing a guest discreetly brush his finger through the dust buildup on some blinds. Even if nobody comments on the dust or dirt buildup on your window treatments, it can still be embarrassing when you notice it yourself during a visit from friends.

If you enjoy entertaining, but do not have the budget to hire a housekeeper, you will need to perform the cleaning yourself. Curtains and drapes can be challenging. The first hurdle is to get them off of the fixtures to which they are fastened. If your curtains are on a rod, this is pretty simple. If your drapes are held with up with drapery hook pins, you must carefully remove them. The next step is to decide how to clean them. One option is to take them to a dry cleaner, who will use proper cleaning techniques and return them pressed and folded and ready for hanging. This can be especially helpful if the drapes are pleated, but can also be expensive. If you choose to wash your curtains yourself, you will need to know how to iron them afterwards. If you try to hang a curtain made of a light material without ironing it, you will be disappointed by its appearance after hanging. If you try to iron pleated drapes on your own, you could be in for some frustration.

If you cover your windows with blinds, you will find that cleaning is easy if you do it weekly. In the space of one week, the buildup of dust is minor. You can use a feather duster to get between each open slat. You can also close the slats and run your vacuum cleaner wand over them. If you notice corners that remain dusty, put an old sock or glove over your hand and wipe the dust that way.

If your blinds are not wood, you can wash them if it has been a while since the last cleaning. Warm soapy water and a sponge work well. If the blinds are caked with dirt in some spots, you will need to engage in some heavy duty washing. This works best if you close and detach the blinds, then hang them in your shower from the shower rod inside of the shower curtain. Use a soft scrub brush, soap and some warm water from the shower and scrub each side down well. After rinsing, hang them outside to dry or towel dry them.

If your blinds are wood, you can use a feather duster to clean them, but do not use water. Also effective is a dryer sheet because it eliminates the static that holds the dust. Run the dryer sheet across each slat. Another option is to use a dab of liquid fabric softener on a soft brush, running it across the slats.

Clean window coverings are important to maintaining a house suitable for entertaining. Cleanliness is critical for maintaining style.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Banking with benefits

Do you open your post? Did you know that 1 million UK households do not open their bills. We have been through a period of this after I was very ill when money was non existent and I was too scared to open the envelopes as I did not know how I was going to be able to pay them.  

Thankfully we are in a much better place now and I make every effort to save as much money as I can and make my money work smarter.

One of the ways to do this is with smart current account like the 123 Current Account from Santander, which gives you cash back on bills that you pay via it.

You pay £2 a month for the account, but you it pays you cashback on bills. I worked out that annually I would get £59 back, which would be £35 profit after paying for the account.

This is making my money work smarter not harder.

Other ways to make your money work smarter include:

How do you make your money work smarter?

Sunday, 23 November 2014

20 Kids christmas gift alternatives to toys

If your house is anything like mine then your kids certainly do not need any more toys.  In fact they play with less than 10% of the toys they have and I am beginning to believe that less is more where toys are concerned.

So this year we are really cutting back on the toys front and I have been giving people ideas on alternatives that they can give to the boys rather than toys this christmas


Magazine subscriptions
Subscriptions to museums, local attractions, petting zoo, soft play, 
Money to books each month

Food Gifts

Cooking lessons
Ingredients to cook a specific meal
Sweet treats
Homemade cookies
A Jar of ingredients
Cookery book


Place money directly into a child's current account
Pay in to an investment account


A pocket knife
Art supplies
Gardening stuff and tools
Magnifying glass


Science kits, my boys love crystal making kids, weather kits
Sewing kits
Craft Kits
Art Kits

This year the boys have one large gift each and then we are providing them with an experience for each month of the year.  Keep an eye on Mum in the Mad House to find out more.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Christmas Shopping with Tesco Clubcard Boost and Win

One of the things I love about Tesco is the clubcard points and if you are a regular collector then you will know that  Clubcard Boost is currently underway. For those not in the know, this means you can double up your Clubcard vouchers to make them go further and get more for your money

Clubcard Boost

The following departments are taking part in ClubCard Boost this year:

hudl2 Tablets and hudl Accessories
Toys and Bikes
Christmas trees, Lights and Decorations
Health and Beauty Gift Sets
Phones and Accessories
Cook, Dine and Home

With more departments across the store involved this year it's very easy to use your Clubcard vouchers to get that Christmas shopping off to a great start.

Tesco have challenged me to buy for my neighbour using ClubCard Boost.

Well my neighbour is my best friend and has four boys and is the thriftiest, kindest person I know.

She is the sort of person that doesn't do gifts for herself and would rather you bought for the kids.

But she is a real fitness fanatic, well with four boys from three to ten you would have to be wouldn't you!

FitBug Orb - £49.99 or less than £25 with boost

She would love this.  It  can track your steps, calories burned, distance walked  and sleep patterns then it connects to smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth® Smart technology

UP™ by Jawbone - £64.00 or £32 with Boost

Knowing G, she would prefer the UP™ by Jawbone as it is less pretentious and you do not have to even take it off for showing. This is a wristband that tracks how you sleep, move and eat, combined with an app that displays the data. Flexible, strong and water-resistant so you don't have to take it off while you shower,it is designed for constant, comfortable wear through the day and night.

The other thing that G loves is Christmas and I know she would adore this light up bear for the garden.  He is £34 or £16 using Clubcard boost.  Everyone has dear where we are, so this would really stand out!

I've teamed up with Tesco to give one of my readers the chance for a Clubcard Boost of their very own! One lucky winner will receive a nice little new year bonus of 500 Clubcard Points.

To enter the giveaway simply complete the Gleam widget below. The blog post comment is compulsory and will unlock a range of additional options. Please read the terms and conditions.

Win 500 Clubcard Boost

Thursday, 13 November 2014

How to have a thrifty Christmas

A thrifty Christmas doesn't have to mean an austere Christmas.  In fact being thrifty and frugal during the festive season can actually make for a more meaningful Christmas for everyone involved.

How to have a Thrifty Christmas


Don't worry you have not left it to late to have Christmas on a budget.  You can accomplish this if you start planning now.

Second hand is not second best

By not buying new you can save a lot of money.  Think about what gifts you can purchase preloved and start looking for them now.  Ebay, local facebook pages, charity shops and friends can be great sources for quality second hand gifts.

Look for the best deals

Once you have a list of what you need to buy, then make sure you look for the best deal available and before you spend any money check out a cashback site such as Well actually is more than a cashback site, it features flash sales, allows you to check the latest sale items with all major UK retailers, search for voucher codes for favourite shops and of course earn cashback.  In fact I signed up myself and love it.  You can sign up using my referral code here (don't worry it is free to sign up and you can save money)! 

What can you make

Homemade gifts are a wonderful way to save money and also are really well received.  I know I would rather receive something that thought has gone in to rather than just something from a shop.

Do not over shop

We do not purchase for adults such as my brother and he doesn't for us.  We made this decision when we hit adulthood,  I don't need a gift from him to know that I am loved. This also applies for food.  Menu plan and only buy what you know you will eat.

Set realistic expectations

If your kids do not expect hundreds of pounds worth of gifts then having a thrifty Christmas is much simpler.  We have christmas list rules in our home and my boys understand this and have learned not to expect more.

Give the gift of experiences

Experiences bring more happiness than things.  So why not give the gift of a number of experiences throughout the year, spreading the cost.  Such as a trip to the cinema, rock climbing or a family meal out.

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