Sunday, May 25, 2014

Holiday tomorrow.

So tomorrow we head off to hopefuuly sunny Cromer in Norfolk for a few days. This time it is just me and the kids and my Dad. We are squeezing into his caravan. Should be good, will also bring back a few memories as it was where we used to go every year as kids.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

First words

Penny has begun to talk, if she is anything like James we will have difficulty stopping her.
Her offical first word was ta. Which she would repeat after we gave her something. We also have Daddy. She hasn't mastered Mummy yet, so I can put my feet up while. We also have hiya and hello.
We often get repetition of sounds, we say bath she repeats the ba sound.
I'm slightly concerned that she doesnt have any teeth yet.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Steak and stuffed mushroom dinner for 2 and three quarters. £4.00

Todays dinner is one I have been looking forward to for ages. A few weeks ago our local Co-op fridges had a melt down, resulting in lots of lovely meat and fish reduced. Unfortunately, when I went there was hardly anything left but I did get my hands on 2 steaks for £1.51, 2 chicken escoples 97p and masses of salmon for £3.12. This was all seperated up and bunged into our frezzer.
Yesterday while shopping in Asda in the bargin bin was stuffed mushrooms 42p and roasted veg 41p.
So for dinner today John and I had steak with stuffed mushrooms, roasted veg, tinned peas, and left over veg of baby sweetcorn, mushrooms and mangetout. The kids had the same but a fish finger instead of steak, though James ate a load of my steak. He is getting rather expensive taste.

Steak £1.51
2 packs of stuffed mushrooms 84p
Roast veg 41p
Tinned peas 35p
2 fish fingers 20p
Left over veg 69p

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Aldi super six 69p veg.

For us, Aldi's weekly super six 69p veg is a must every week. This week on Thursday Aldi has on offer large snack pack of grapes, plum tomatoes,  Jersey Royal potatoes, peppers, courgettes and green beans.
Many of our meals are based around what they have on offer week to week. This week we might have stuffed courgettes or peppers. Chips or jackets depending on the size of the tates, stir fry and a yummy new potato and green bean salad.

The veg, I find does not last as long as other supermarket veg, but we get through so much that it rarely goes offer.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Go Go Go Garden

Our garden is not the biggest. The back is mostly lawn and patio, with a 2 foot raised flower bed running along 2 sides of the lawn. Last year I let it just grow curious to see what would come up. This year I've have a bit of a bliz. Up came the old straggly lavender and random shrub which seemed to house a huge ant nest. Into the back bed went some lovely perennials, delphinium, lupin, and lillies. The part running down the side we have left to mud. Why? Because I have a dirt loving son who likes nothing but dig, fill buckets with mud and water and generally make a mess. His current love us making cement using said mud and water, sticking in his trailer, driving over the patio where he has 6 bricks, then proceeds to use his cement to build a wall. Despite my wanting a beautiful floral garden, I can not deprived him of his delight of making a complete mess.
This calls for a plan. This year I'm trying to grow veg in pots. I love the idea of eating things we have grown ourselves. Last years herbs were great and well used, so this I'm extending out production.
The initial outlay is quite expensive, though thanks to mum we do have a few plants to start with. We have courgettes, pumpkin, tomatos, lettuce, radishes,  beetroot,  green beans, runner beans and peas. Hopefully we will have a bumper crop. The picture isn't while it is at its neatest.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Tesco Clubcard Boost Sale

A few days ago Tesco emailed to announce that they are having a Tesco Clubcard Sale. This means for every £2 worth of point you have, you receive £10 voucher to use at a number of places around the UK.
This is fantastic for us, it means two great days out while we are holiday. Making our pennies go even further. There are a few things to watch out for.
Unlike the normal Tesco Boost, where you receive a person entrance fee, these are vouchers discounting £10 off your entrance fee. For example, we are heading to Wookey Hole in August,  price per person is £18. I have order £4 worth of points, equalling £20 in vouchers. As far as know there is no change given back. There is also a limited number of places doing this offer, Legoland is not on it.
This morning in the post I received £60 worth of vouchers for our trip to Wookey Hole. The vouchers do not have the name of the attraction on them so you can use them any place which is in the sale offer. As normal you have to use them within 6 months.
Definitely worth a look to see if there are any attractions near you.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Playhouse dud.

So our great Ebay playhouse is bit of a dud. The windows are broken, it has cost a fortune in paint (mainly because I chose blue) and now the roof has fallen apart, the felt is coming away and it is damp.
We had decided to sod it and stick a whole new roof on. It will cost us a bomb but with the effort we are putting into it, it may as well be made to last.

Healthy dinner for £3.01.

On my strive to cut down our spending, but not our healthy eating, todays dinner costs just £3.08 for us all. Crispy veggie fajtas (with left over ham), cous cous (Aldi's own just add water stuff) and potato salad.

Salad potatoes third of a pack 20p
1 pepper 33p
Half a pack of fajtas 40p
Handful of cheese 40p
Left over ham £1.00
1 courgette 33p
Half pac of cous cous 20p
Spoonful of tinned sweetcorn 15p

Other stuff
Chives (homegrown)
Lasy garlic

To make crispy fajtas.
Fry in little bit of oil
Pepper, sweetcorn and courgette (diced).
Take out of the pan. Put in fajta in frying let crispen. Add pepper mix, cheese and ham. Fold fajta in half and continue to cook. Take out and cut in half.

Potato salad.
Boil potatoes
Drain, add spoonful of mayo, salt, garlic and chives. Mix together.

Kew Gardens

Photos of our visit to Kew Gardens last week.

James' office.

Cork tree. 

Lilly house

 Kew glasshouse

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Busy Sewing.

Jam has chosen some lovely purple ginham fabric for the curtains in his playhouse. I'm busy sewing away ready to put up when the new windows arrive. However,  I'm no seamstress and it takes me three time as long to do anything on the machine, especially as little wondering hands have been busy changing the dials on my machine. Anyway, yesterday a managed one full 9 pair of curtains and two tie backs. Quite pleased with myself.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Free Money with TopCashBack

There are a few cash back sites buzzing round the internet at the moment. Topcashback is one of them. The idea is that you order any item from the internet through them and they get you a percentage of your spend back. Currently Asda Direct are offering 6.3% back. As I do quite a lot of my shopping online this is a great way of getting back a few pennies.
There isn't a lot of faffing about with it, it is very easy to use. You just have to get into the habit of going to Topcashback site before you buy anything. You just head to the site and sign in. Find the shop you need in the search bar. Click the "get cash back" button for that shop. The site then opens a new window which links through to the normal website page for that shop and shop as normal. It records that fact you clicked through using Topcashback and any spending you do. The money does take over a month to clear so you have to be patient.
With over 4000 shops now linked to the site including Next, Homebase, Travelodge, Argos as well as most insurance agencies, it is definitely worth trying. The insurance companies, mobile phone contractsand breakdown services will offen have large cash back offers to entice you to go with them. I got £30 cash back on my car insurance and £18 on my house. Sometimes the amounts I get are under £1 but it all adds up. You can also choose how you would like the money sent to you, paypal or in you bank account. Or you get a little bit extra if you choose Amazon, Tesco, Boots gift vouchers.
As well as the cash back service, the site will offen give you discount codes and offers which are currently available for the shop you choose.  However, I find these are offen not updated or there are better codes out there.
If you find you use the site a lot it might be worth upgrading your membership. This costs £5 a year and entitles you to a higher percentage of cash back.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Having a Wobble

I'm not sure what is worry with me today. Maybe I'm tired out from the weekend. I feel really down and tearful. Feel as if I have been a rubbish mum today and rather self absorbant.  When I feel like this my brain automatically focuses on my miscarriage or maybe it is the other way round.
I should be 16weeks by now, family would have been told and I would be begining to have a little bump. I never enjoyed being pregnant with the other two, but I can't help thinking about what stage I should be at.

Kew Gardens

Last weekend Mum, the kids and I visited Katie in London for the weekend. We decided to visited Kew gardens, I've alway fancied going and James would enjoy the space to run round. We were really lucky with the weather and managed to dodge most of the showers.
I didn't realise that Kew Gardens had a palace which was a home of George 3rd his wife and 15 children. I would have been nice to look at the palace for longer but James was longing to go outside he isn't keen on stuff houses.
Kew was lovely. Unfortunately,  we didn't have time to see it all. Mum and Katie viewed the Japanese garden which I would have liked to look at, but by this time James was flagging and wouldn't have made the walk back. I woukd have also like to gave gone on the tree top walk and viewed the kitchen gardens.
We did manage to go round the palm tree glass house which was very impressive. You are able to walk around the top of it and look down. At the bottom was a display of water habitats. There was a bit of an outdoor play area but James bumped his head and it put him off. The indoor creeper area was nice for the kids. Penny was able to gave a good crawl round, she enjoyed the fake sandpit and spinning things. James found a round shed with steps up which he made into an office.
Now sure I would go back as there are many large parks in London which are free to go round. Kew cost £15 per person so not cheap. We did manage to find a 2 for 1 in the Gardens World magazine which helped. Tbe food there was also very pricey so if we do go back I think we need to take a picnic.
On Sunday we visited Katies allotment and gave her a hand sorting it out. She has a huge bit of land but it has been left and is full of rubbish. She has made a few beds and got onions, garlic and potatos growing. I quite enjoyed it and fancy getting one my self. After all the hard work we treated ourselves to a huge Sunday dinner. It was lovely. I was very impressed the waitress commented on how well behaved my two were. Then we headed back home. James and Penny slept most of the way so it was a easy drive back.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Belton and picnic in the rain.

We are really supassing ourselves in the effort to get the most out if our newly aquired National Trust membership. Despite the dodgy looking grey sky we decided to head out to Belton house for a picnic and a play in their new play and ride cafe and their outdoor play area. Halfway there and a few spots of rain appeared, by the time we arrived in was a complete downpour. James was rather reluctant to eat his picnic in the car so we headed out to the play cafe instead. As with most of these places you can not eat your own food on the premises. So I opted for a large pot of tea while James had a play. The indoor play area was a little too big for James and he struggled to get round some parts which meant one of us had to follow him round and over the painful cargo nets.
John wanted to head over to look at the secondhand books which were housed in the stables. The rain eased off slightly so we decided to deck James in his puddle suit and venture out. We didn't venture too far like we were planning to. We managed to find a huge tree with a bench round it which was dry enough to munch our picnic. James was happy as he thought we were in the woods.
Being as we were drenched anyway we wandered to the rather impressive outdoor play area. James looked this. There was a little bulldozer on a spring which he loved. We also discover that his puddled suit and a rather wet slide are not a good mix and he flew down the slide scaring himself and me who completely missed catching him. He has now gotover his fear of tunnel slides and was quite happy whizzing round them. We had the entire place to ourselves probably due to the rain. On the way back James happily stomped and splashed in every puddle he could find. We stripped him down at the car, warmed him up. When we gog home everyone changed into PJs and the kids went for a nap.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Watching the pennies.

One month in after our decision to write down each penny spent on our grocery shopping  and the amount is some what staggering. We decided in include nappies, formula and meals out.
In the last four weeks we have spend nearly £500, which is nearly double our estimate. As a result we are looking for ways to cut back. Not sure yet how, but things need to change. We rarely throw food away, so everything we do spend is consumed. Fresh fruit and veg have a big impact on our bill, however, I'm reluctant to reduce these as because of the childrens heath benefits. I think I now need to start to implement a meal planner and combined meat and veg meal with cheaper pasta and rice meals. I also think James might have to find an alternative to his prawn addiction.  Prehaps I can convince him scampi is the same thing.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

National Trust Membership.

After much contemplation we (I) have joined the National Trust. We have joint membership, James and Penny being under 5 are free to enter the properties anyway. What finally swayed joining was currently they have an offer 3 months free and a free gift of binoculars (which will be tucked away for Christmas for James) for £73. Good offer, but living in deepest darkest Lincolnshire means properties are limited. However, we are quite close to Belton which has a fab play area and a new indoor area for children. They also have kids groups in the hoildays which we will make an effort to go to. As we are holidaying in Essex this year we are making a trip to Sutton Hoo and Lavenham both which have National Trust sites. Hopefully we will be able to get our moneys worth.
I have already used the card last weekend. A trip to Tattershall castle for a Princess and Knight day. Had a nice time, James made a shield and sword. The castle is more or less empty but you can, and we did, walk to the top of the castle. Once you have got your breathe back, the view is stunning.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

James seem to have found a rebellious streak these last few days. I think he gets it from me. He is driving me mad with his no's. Not sure how to handle it yet. Going to see if it continues first, then maybe the naughty step or toys taken away or prehaps I should just yell back no when he wants me to do something.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Diggerland Yorkshire.

Wow, just WOW. I'm so impressed by this place. Where else could a 3 year old digger mad boy have control of real state of the art diggers. We had a brilliant day there yesterday. Everyone enjoyed it. James didn't stop running. As soon as he got off one digger he was racing to the next. Even stopping for a drink was hassle. Grandad couldn't get his head around the money and waste of good diggers but he too enjoyed it. James wanted to go with Grandad everytime which was nice.
It helped that the weather was warm. Despite being a bank holiday the place was nearly empty. There was no queues, which meant who ever looked after Penny didn't have long to wait before they got a go. James, who was just over 90cm was alllowed to go on almost anything, though offen with a adult to help him steer. He would not have liked the fast spinning one or roundabout. The only one he would have liked to go on was the little cars. He says his favourite was digging a big hole and hooking ducks with a digger. He also dug for treasure (bricks in stones), knovked down skittles with a little knocking ball, drove a bobcat, rode in a big digger with a backhoe, drove a little tractor (he snook onto this as he was just under the height restriction), and drove a dumper truck. I was spun round like a loon and shook up in a digger bucket, I also had a go at driving a digger a go kart and had a go on the roundabout. As well as all that there was a huge indoor play area and small bouncy castle.
Afterward we had a meal at a local pub, both James and Penny quickly fell asleep in the car home. He revived himself once home long enough to have a hot chocolate and say goodbye to Grandad.

Sunday, May 04, 2014


Yay. Today, thanks to James getting control of his bladder, we are off to Diggerland in Castleford.
Not sure if James is more excited about Diggerland or the fact Grandad is coming with us.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

The Great Potty Bribe. Part 2

After little success with the briding of sweeties to make James starting toilet training, we then moved on to pennies. This seemed to have the desired result and John and I thought we had had a break through. WRONG!
Unfortunately, it was probably more our fault than James. We had a weekend away in London and decided to put James in pull ups for the duration of the trip. This was a mistake. During and after the trip James was poorly and won't move off the sofa, so again we left him in pull ups. Another mistake. Then I was ill and Mum offer to look after James while I got better. Mum kept him in pull ups. Not her fault, we packed a load him his suitcase for her to use. Then I had my miscarriage and I went into a fuzzy fog leaving John to manage the kids and his own thoughts rather than managing together. All this resulted in James completely being confussed as to whether he was in pull ups or pants and having to ask us which. If we answered pull up he refused to go to the potty and had avgreat hissy fit. Time for action and a plan.
Deep breathe, we decided to go cold turkey. Dump all pull ups and nappies except at nap and bedtime. As sweeties and Pennies didn't work we decided to go straight in and use he obsession with diggers. The teacher in me made a reward chart and we decided to be mean, 20 completely dry day equals a trip to Diggerland. We googled Diggerland to get him excited and looked at all the different things he could go on. Every evening if he had stayed dry that day he coloured in one of the squares on his chart. It worked. Apart from one tiny accident when Marley came to play, we have had no wet pants. Fantastic. We do have to plan any trip around toilet stops but that doesn't matter. I had to do the same when I was pregnant.
So tomorrow, weather demanding,  Diggerland here we come. I think I'm looking forward to it as much as James.