Friday, 30 May 2014

I love the beach by Maxi

We have been talking a lot this week about our favorite way to spend the day together as a family.  This is Maxi's (aged 9) and is also an entry  to the MAD Blog Awards Kid Blog of the Year, in collaboration with Vita Coco Kids.  naturally fruit-flavoured coconut water.

My FAVOURITE way to spend a sunny day outside is… to go to the beach with my friends and the puppy.
You can walk to the beach from my house to the woods and it is a great day out.
We would play games on the beach, when the tide is out the hard sand is perfect for a game of cricket and for playing footballs.

We would all build the biggest sandcastle possible and hope the puppy did not knock it down and take turns to bury each other in the sand. 
 Then we would splash around in the water in wet suits so we do not get to cold. 
 Once we have warmed up and dried off, we would then go to the arcade on the pier and play on the two pence falls and air hockey before having fish and chips followed by an ice-cream.

We would then go to the valley gardens and play in the park on the zip wire and in the beck. 
We would then walk along the pier and look at the World Cup yarn bombing that the ninja knitters have made.  It is so cool, they did the same for the Queens Jubilee and the Olympics. 
It is not as much fun to walk back home through the woods as it is all uphill, so Mum would make sure that the car was already waiting for us to take us home. 
I always collect stones when we go to the beach and this summer I am hoping that mum lets me and my brother take surfing lessons.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Cheap Eats —Shopping Tips and Cooking Ideas on a Budget

Whether you enjoy spending time in the kitchen or not, cooking for the whole family and serving up a variety of healthy meals is an everyday occurrence for the majority of mums. Still, even though it happens every day, it’s not without challenges such as getting the kids to eat their greens as well as combating rising food prices. 

Even so, you can still provide nutritious meals for both young and old family members without having to break the bank. What’s more, you might be surprised at just how tasty some of the dishes you conjure up really are.

Shopping tips

Buy cheaper cuts of meat and poultry — Even though sirloin steak and chicken breasts are some of the easiest cuts of meat to cook with, they tend to be fairly expensive. However, braising steak or chicken thighs are much cheaper and provide just as much nourishment. To get the meat as tender and tasty as possible, you should consider using a slow cooker

Plan for the whole week — Try and buy everything you need in one go during the weekly shop. Constantly going back to the supermarket is inconvenient and expensive. You can always buy two loaves of bread and put one in the freezer. This will also help you stick to a set budget, as it will be easier to avoid making spontaneous purchases of luxury items that often aren’t entirely necessary.

Compare everything – This might take a bit of time but comparing everything you put in your basket or trolley will save significant amounts of money. It can also help you to eat healthier. Don’t assume, check to see if the supermarket brand is actually cheaper than the alternatives. Be sure to check the value of the supermarket’s loyalty scheme too as fierce competition has improved the value of having your points card handy.

Cooking ideas

Make food fun and from scratch — Processed ready meals might be cheap and convenient but they can often lack nutrition. If you make food from scratch and get the kids involved, everyone will benefit. Children are more likely to eat fruit and vegetables if they’ve taken part in their preparation and cooking. When it comes to serving, a range of colours or patterns on the plate also goes down well with kids.

Avoid wasting food — Don’t throw away last night’s leftovers, as it can probably be eaten again as part of another meal. Roast chicken can be used for sandwiches or a curry while vegetables make the perfect soup which will last for days. If you’ve made too much food, put half in the freezer and reheat it within a couple of days.

Grow your own — If you’ve got the time, inclination and space, you could always grow your own fruit and vegetables. Not only is it cost-effective but the kids can also learn something from the experience while developing green fingers of their own.

Even though austerity measures are still necessary for a lot of families, it is possible to achieve healthy living on a budget. Shopping and cooking might take up a bit more time, but it will be worth it in the long run.

Marina Wolsey is a single mum who writes part time about the joys of cooking, good food and raising her twin boys Adam and James.

Image by Vox fx used under Creative Commons License

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Free edition of Stitch Craft Create magazine

As you know I am a lover of free digital magazines.  I also love regular mags with digital subscriptions - Oh yes, this is how I get my Matha fix!
You can get a copy of the latest Stitch Craft Create magazine free, so there is nothing to lose in giving it a try.

You can try the June issue for free, too. Just click through to the Stitch Craft Create website and use the code SCCFREE. There's no catch, no having to enter your credit card details.
To see previous free magazine posts, just click here

Friday, 23 May 2014

My #Shelfie

OK, so this is a thrifty blog, but that doesn't mean that I don't like nice things and often lust after them, but I also admit that I adore home made things and things that hold a meaning to me.

When I saw the fab competition on +Tots100 in conjunction with Victoria Plumb to share a #Shelfie, I knew I had to join in.  I also took the Victoria Plumb Great British Home quiz, which has me all wrong.  it has me down as Mrs Elegant, but MadDad would tell you I am a Mid Century Modern girl every time or a stuck in the 50's kid as he also calls me!

So this is my Shelf in my Cruddy (craft room/study).

Top Shelf:  I have my & which the boys bought me from M&S (it had been reduced to £5) so was a bargain, Then we have some pipe cleaner tulips that me and the boys made together and my large red paperclip holding a fab Jennie Maizels post card,

Middle Shelf: My blog planner file, bakers twine - I use if for wrapping everything, A hashtag (again bought in the sale at M&S by the boys as my Mothers Day gift this year), a print from Wink Designs and my Jen loves print.

Bottom Shelf:  Candle from a dear friend, Radio and Ipad player (I could not live without this) and a selection of bottles from Emma Bridgewater (A lovely gift)

Monday, 19 May 2014

Warm weather money saving tip or ban the icecream van

I have long since learned that the ice cream van is no friend for my money saving needs.

So we have a rule here that we do not visit the ice cream van.

Instead I have a freezer full of ice lollies, ice cream and ice pops, which I buy.

However, this didn't stop the boys wanted to visit the ice cream van like their peers, so we decided to teach them the value of their pocket money and show them just how far it goes with the ice cream van and how far it goes with mummy's freezer.

It was a fantastic exercise.  They realised that they only got 2 icecreams from the van from their £2 per week, where I bought 9 cones for £2 from Lidl.

They also realised that Ice Pops are much more frugal too and also that making our own can be fun and thrifty at the same time.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Bissell Vac and Steam Machine Review and Giveaway

I have hard floors downstairs which I love.  They are much more practical than carpet with 2 mucky boys and a dog.

Over the past 8 years I have tried all sorts of ways to keep them clean and I think I have finally found the product that does that for me.

It is the Bissell Vac and Steam Machine.  This amazing suel action machine vacuums and steam cleans either independently or at the same time.  It means that I have done away with my vacuum and steam cleaner downstairs (which I gave to my brother in law).

What I like:
  • You can either vacuum or steam clean or do both
  • It is lightweight and easy to manoeuvre
  • The handle is adjustable great for a home with people of different heights and for getting the kids involved.
  • You need no chemicals
  • The pads are washable and reusable
  • It comes with a two year guarantee
  • It warms up fast (within 30 seconds) so no long wait to start cleaning
  • It costs under £100
  • It is space saving.  No need for a separate vacuum, steam cleaner or mop. 
I wasn't keen:
  1. You only get two pads with the machine.  I use my daily and find washing them so frequently a chore
  2. I wish the cable had been a little longer

The proof is in the pudding as they say and I have used this machine daily.  It is easy to store, simple and effective to use and even the boys can use it.  It has made a real difference to our home, we have more space in the understairs cupboard and I feel it is great value for money. Not only it is space saving, but it is time saving too as I can do the vacuuming and the steaming at the same time and know that the floor is sanitised too.


Thanks to Bissell I have a Bissell Vac and Steam Machine to giveaway to a reader of A Thrifty Mum.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Free two months family and friends railcard

It is that time of year again and you can get two months free family and friends railcard.  You can expect to receive your free two month Family & Friends Railcard in the post by 31st May 2014 and it will expire on 31st July 2014.

From 14th July 2014 (until 14th August 2014) you will be able to take advantage of the special £10 discount offer when you buy a 1-year Family & Friends Railcard online. So you might want to make a note of this date to ensure your savings continue - for only £20 for another whole year. 

We love our card and you save 1/3 off adult fares, and 60% off kids’ fares on travel throughout Great Britain.  If you travel with a child between five and 15 years old then you’re eligible. 
Up to four adults and four kids can travel on one card, and they don't even need to be related. So, for what works out to around £2.50 a month, you can look forward to dramatic savings for the year.  All child fares are subject to a £1 minimum fare.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Bureau Upcycle

When the boys were smaller they had their art table in the nook in the kitchen and I blogged at the kitchen table.  Well the times they are a changing.  They can no longer fir their knees under that small table from Ikea and now they are at school we need a multipurpose space that will suit all of us.

I have been looking on eBay for a long time for the perfect cabinet to replace the table.  It really need to have a small footprint as it leads to the garage and also our kitchen cupboard..

Then last year I spotted this fab bureau and knew that it would be perfect and it cost less than £35 (including the fuel to collect it).

We have been using it in its place in the kitchen for the last six months or so.  For the boys to do their homework on whilst I am cooking or for me to pop the iPad and laptop on.

It also holds our pens and pencils and plain paper so that when ever creativity grabs us we can create there and then.  I often find that inspiration for blog posts grab me when I never have a pen and pencil or am sat at my desk, so I love having an "organisation station", which is what the bureau has become. It holds post it notes, paper, scissors, chalk, paper, notebooks, stamps and so much more.  Even better everyone knows where it is.

But.......................  my kitchen doesn't have the best natural light and even though we have painted all the walls white the dark wood was really dragging that corner down, so I decided to paint it.

Initially I picked Anne Sloan Chalk Paint in Arles and got one coat on and hated it.  It was not light, bright or yellow enough.  So I went and picked up a tin of English Yellow and now it makes my heart sing.

This is an entry in to Love Chic Livings Bloggers Desk Landscape competition
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