WFMW - Blazing Bloggy Trails

My Reader's cup runneth over and all that.

I've been having a great time the last few weeks. I've started the morning in my blogroll, reader or Twitter and then just went from there, bouncing through everyone else's followers and who they follow and their blogroll. I've been jumping all over the place adding blogs to my reader left, right and centre and I'm loving every minute of it. I've also added quite a few gems because of this little treasure trove

All these brilliant, new and interest people to read and chat with. It's been great.

You should give it a try. Don't just stick to your usual list, find something different. You never know. You're priorities might have changed, maybe you read the same things from the same people every day out of habit and you may find something which speaks more clearly to you.

On the other hand you might just find somebody down right hilarious and you'll laugh so hard you'll cry. Who knows. All I'm saying is have a look and see. Just don't forget about you're tried and tested bloggers, you wouldn't have found all the wonderful new blogs, you're now neglecting your friends and family to read without them.

For much better posts than this head over Rocks in my Dryer.

Omnivore's Hundred

This is a game for omnivore’s which I found on Real Life Living. It’s called the Omnivore’s Hundred, and it is a list of 100 items that one may or may not have eaten.

The rules are simple:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at Very Good Taste linking to your results.

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart (are there any other kind)
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl (not in the bowl)
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar (not at the same time, smoking ban and all that)
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtai
l41. Curried goat (I've had goat but it wasn't curried)
42. Whole insects (chocolate covered ants)
43. Phaal (I've tasted it, but I didn't eat a plate of the stuff)
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel (Jellied... Ick)
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone (in soup, it wasn't whole)
54. Paneer (saag paneer)
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads (in a stew)
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
t65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe (I'm not sure if Louche is a brand, but I've had absinthe a few times)
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant. (I wish)
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse (possibly)
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta (and the burns that go with making the stuff)
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

The ants were barely worth the bother if I'm honest, cheap chocolate with a gritty bit in the middle. Ditto with the Lobster Thermidor. I'm convinced all that gussying up is just to hide the fact that the lobster maybe wasn't that fresh to begin with.

My favourite is possibly the Tom Yum only because the weather here is so changeable I normally spend most of the year with the sniffles and this stuff clears them right up. But then Churros and hot chocolate rock too.

Feel free to pilfer everyone, I know I did:)

Busy? Yeah you could call it that.

Courtesy of Me.
Have you ever sat down and written a list of everything you do in a normal day. Now I don’t mean your “to do” list (nobody really uses those anyway, they’re a myth and anyone telling you otherwise is lying). I’m not talking about the additional stuff, the once in a blue moon thing you have to get done before the end of the day or the obscure phone call that just has to be made. I’m talking about all the day to day junk you deal with probably without ever realising it.

Go on I dare you, grab some paper and start writing. Here’s an idea of my typical day.

6.30am – Haul ass out of bed, get showered, sort hair (somehow) and get dressed.

7.00am – Pour anywhere between one and three cups of coffee down my throat (and more often than not down the front of my clothes).

7.15am – Wake toots and himself, get toots washed and dressed and downstairs for a mini breakfast.

7.30am – WAKE himself.

7.35am – Mini breakfast for toots before going to day care. This is usually fruit but sometimes she’s weird and asks for crackers and cheese.

7.40am – Throw lunch made the previous night into himself’s bag and fill a flask of hot water. Take all bags out to the car and empty bins into wheelie bin while I’m out there.

7.45am – Back inside clean up any mess made by toots, find wherever she threw her coat the night before, shake out the wrinkles and put it on her.

7.50am – Find toots under the kitchen table, find her coat again, shake out the wrinkles, put it on and do up buttons (which she can’t quite manage yet. Ha, score one for mommy).

7.55am – Grab himself by the scruff and out into car to take toots to day care and head to work. Run back inside realising that I’ve forgotten to lift any of MY things.

8.03am – Arrive at day care 3 minutes late, tuck toots up under my arm, hold bag in teeth and run like a linebacker up the stairs in time to see every other child already sitting calmly eating breakfast (Apparently their mothers are a lot more organised than me, bet they’re not as much fun though).

8.05am – Plonk kid still laughing her head off from the jiggle session on the way up the stairs into her seat, big kiss and break my neck trying to get down all 20 stairs in one go. Out to the car and off to work. Knit in the car on the way to work, trying not to have himself’s eye out (I was warned about having someone’s eye out as a kid and I live in fear).

8.45am – Arrive in work, quick breakfast and get stuck in, obviously sneaking a peek or seven at my blog reader and Twitter during the course of the morning. I actually got completely caught up this morning and spent a few minutes doing my happy dance, so it’s not all bad.

1.00pm – Lunchtime which usually means running out the door to go to the bank, post office, shop to pick entire new wardrobe because toots has invariably outgrown every item of clothing overnight. I think I maybe get one lunch hour per week without anything to do but sit and chill.

2.00pm – Back to work.

5.00pm – Run like a (slightly overweight) whippet to catch the 5.07pm bus.

5.45pm (ish) – Arrive in bus station to be collect by himself, who is in a fantastic mood not having just had a mouth breathing drool beast fall asleep on his shoulder. Obviously I get no sympathy, he drives, and apparently I should too.

5.55pm – collect toots from nursery, head home, start cooking dinner and cleaning kitchen without removing coat, handbag or child slung casually around my neck.

6.20pm – Why is getting one grown man and a small child to sit at a table like trying to herd cattle? Feed them in front of TV whilst allowing them to watch some suitable educational television (alright Spongebob, I think my mum of the year award’s been lost in the post. Hmmm).

While they eat, I make beds, clean bathrooms, water plants, the usual.

7.15pm – Himself baths toots while I have something quick to eat, then it’s story time. My one relaxing time of the day and I have to admit I usually wind up falling asleep with her and waking up with glasses steamed up from hot preschooler breath.

7.45pm – Makes lunches and organise clothes and uniforms needed for the following day, making sure everything’s ironed and doesn’t have a button waiting to fall off just as you step over a drain or something else you wouldn’t put your hand into for a button.

8.00pm – I’m on a one room a day blast. I’ve been at it for a few weeks now and so far it’s working like a charm. Basically it involves finding a room in the house that it’s being used, kitchen, bathroom, spare room, doesn’t matter just pick one and get stuck in. Clean for around 30 minutes and call yourself done. I have to say from I’ve started this I’m starting to see the difference. None of the rooms ever get really badly out of the order and each room, gets more and more organised the more often I hit it and I don’t have to feel guilty about taking a night off.

8.30pm – Shower.

9.00pm – midnight or so – knitting, writing, paying bills, reading, filling in paperwork. Whatever needs to be done, and trust me there is always something.

Midnight – 1.00am – fall into bed, or wake up in the dark in the living room and make my way to bed.

So when exactly do I have time to write things like this (I’ll pretend I hear you ask). Remember me saying I was cleared up early this morning. If I can manage this everyday, technically I’m being paid for blogging. Sssh, don’t tell anyone.

Actually the only thing that befuddles me is when did I, start having to do all these things. I don’t remember a time before I had to do them.

I do have a faint recollection of a lazy cow, convinced she was sooo busy trying to decide which expensive oils to use in her bath and which bottle of wine she would have that night.

God I hate her.

Evidence of Climate Change

For anyone still sitting on the fence in relation to whether or not we're suffering the effects of climate change, look out a window.

After receiving one month's worth of rain in one day, people have to start realising that we need to more to combat these effects.

The are reports across the country of farm animals drowned, crops ruined and people's homes and belongings destroyed.

Also our new West Link, costing millions to build, failed miserably at the first hurdle. The Broadway Underpass flooded to the roof, a quarter mile stretch of road almost 30 feet deep in filthy water which trapped a man on the roof of his car, forced to await rescue.

In all fairness, we can't possibly have expected much more from the new Westlink. It was built in Belfast after all and we do have a tendency to fill anything we produce with liquid.

Belfast. Now famous for a boat that sank, an alcoholic footballer and and a road based loosely on the design of a bucket.

Monumental FUBARedness

I’m never going to win any awards for being organised. My idea of organising and having a clear out around the house usually involves me lifting all the junk and crap from one room and moving it to another room without actually getting rid of any of it.

Although this time, I have really excelled myself. I’ve gone completely beyond my usual level of chaos and disorganisation and reached the nirvana of “right what the hell am I supposed to be doing” ness.

This blunder is of such epic proportions it’ll wind up costing me a grand total of £1,820.00. Can I get a round of applause?

You see when toots was born a friend managed to convince me that in order to get her into a good school I would have to register her for that school the second she was born. Now at great risk to my child’s future education, I waited a whole week until I’d managed to escape from the hospital (long story) and then proceeded to call my chosen school.

I waited with bated breath for the secretary’s confirmation that my already intellectually advanced progeny had indeed been accepted to said school.

She put me on hold, she checked, she spoke to someone, she checked again, only to eventually return to me and advise that because I lived in the catchment area I could just call the school again four weeks before her start date and register her name. There wouldn’t be any problem with acceptance. Fandabbydosey.

My mistake was assuming that the same rule applied for nursery (pre-school). Apparently not. There are only two nursery schools which toots would be eligible to attend and I should have put her name down for both when she was merely a twinkle in her daddy’s eye.

So now its m y job to make sure she’s school ready in a year’s time. What exactly do kids need to know by the time they start school. She can count and knows her ABCs by heart. She’s also cleverly memorised a fair few words so it looks as though she’s reading. Told you. Clever.

But what else do they need to know. Should she be able to understand maths? What about reading, properly from a book she hasn’t heard 17 times and memorised the story. Are literature, geography and science the order of the day for four year olds? I’m led to believe it’s a lot different from when I went to school. My early memories of primary school involve a sandbox and the beanbag race on sports day.

The, £1,820.00? Well that’s the amount I would have saved in childcare over the course of the next year had she been in nursery school.

Kicking myself.

David Bailey eat your heart out.

Bless. Her first time with the camera and already her talent is on a par with mommy's.

Actually, I think she may be a little better. At least it's in focus.

Sunday Savers - 50th Post

Well it’s Sunday and my 50th post.

The following is a list of fifty (sometimes random) things I do around the house to save money. I’ll keep each thing brief because fifty things can be a lot to get through. Most of them are things almost everybody does, whether it’s to save money, or just out of habit. If you would like me to elaborate on anything in this list, just ask.

1. I only buy AAA rated appliances. I’ve learnt my lesson from past experience, not to buy anything less than this.

2. I have all my appliances repaired when they go wrong and only replace them when the repairman gets “that look” and sucks air in through his teeth.

3. I grow my own vegetables and fruit, but I’m really limited because I just can’t bring myself to fork out for a greenhouse.

4. When I see the veg on offer that I can’t grow, I buy tons of it, prepare it and freeze.

5. I cut Himself’s hair.

6. I use home dyes on my own hair and trim it.

7. I buy most if not all of my clothes from charity shops. The rest are bought on sale.

8. I knit and bake a lot of gifts and buy as little as possible.

9. We rarely drive anywhere at the minute and group all our errands together to save on petrol.

10.When we fill toot’s paddling pool to help cool down on warm days, we drop in the submersible pump when she’s finished playing and use the water to water the plants and fill the water butt.

11.I don’t buy any treat type things when I shop. Instead I bake cakes, cupcakes and cookies.

12.I also sell the cakes I bake. Not really saving money so much as making some extra money.

13.I use reconstituted milk in baked goods and can’t tell the difference although I cannot drink the stuff straight.

14.I bake my own crusty bread as well as pizza bases and rolls. I’m rubbish at everyday sandwich white. I just can’t get a recipe that works for me.

15.We only have free days out, to places like the beach, the duck pond and forests

16.When we do plan a day out, I pack a picnic and plenty to drink and leave my purse at home. That way I don’t have to worry about avoiding the temptation of hitting a restaurant on the way home or buying junk while we’re out.

17.I’ll be making my own greetings cards, at least for the rest of the year and maybe part of next year.

18.I am not brand loyal. I’ll buy whatever’s on offer.

19.I make modelling clay and finger paints for toots.

20.We eat a lot of Italian type food so I buy two huge tins of tomatoes from Makro and make two pots of sauce, one for pizza and one ragu.

21.Our home is carpeted throughout. I know wooden floor is cheaper at the outset but it’s a curse to heat these houses and in the long run wooden flooring would cost more.

22.We’ve completely insulated the whole house.

23.There are aerators on our taps and showers to reduce the amount of water we use. We don’t pay for water here yet but it’s not far away.

24. Toots now gets a shower rather than a bath.

25. We’ve reduced the flush capacity on the toilets.

26. I buy in bulk and refill smaller containers for ease of use.

27. I take shampoo, conditioner and soap out of the original squeeze bottles and put them into pump bottles so it isn’t as easy to overuse them. This makes them last twice as long.

28. I make my own cleaners from vinegar and bicarb. Toots is sensitive to dust, pollen and dog dander, so it stands to reason chemical fumes wouldn’t do her any favours.

29. We holiday at home.

30. I’ve finally worked out how much to cook so we never have leftovers.

31. To cut down on the amount of laundry I make everyone hang their towels to dry and use them again tomorrow. I do the same thing with anything like pyjamas and jeans which can be worn more than once before being washed.

32. The thermostat has been turned down and we just put on a jumper and extra blankets on the beds in the winter.

33. We have aircon but I really don’t like to use it. I blame it for a lot of common illnesses like cold and flu and I’d much rather open a window and get some fresh air in the house.

34. I put all my photos onto disk as slideshows rather than print them to save on photo paper. I only print the ones destined for frames on the walls.

35. When I’m food shopping I go with someone. That way we can take advantage of the offers on things I couldn’t use myself before the food spoiled.

36. I am a market ghost, haunting at the end of the day for the best price.

37. I have a bit of a book club on the go with some friends for anything we can’t get at the library. We take it in turns to buy a book and it gets passed around everyone before being donated to a charity shop. This means I only have to buy one out of every eight books I fancy reading.

38. I buy all my yarn in the January sales.

39. Clothes, as much as possible are lined dried. I will use the dryer sometimes. If I’m trying to get through a huge amount of laundry and the weather isn’t great I’ll use it.

40. I do have a dishwasher, but I only use it in summer. We never got round to changing the set up on the heating and therefore we can’t heat water without either heating the house as well or using the emersion which costs a fortune.

41. Himself’s the handiest bloke I know so we do all our own DIY rather than paying someone else to do it.

42. I alter our clothes. I can manage hems, buttons and taking things in but I don’t know if I could make something from scratch.

43. I’m a rate whore. I haven’t paid interest, transfer fees or set up fees on my credit card in 15 months and we hope to get it cleared within the next four or so months.

44. All the lights have now been changed to energy efficient light bulbs.

45. We don’t have magazine subscriptions. We did, but we’ve cancelled them all.

46. We don’t have any pets apart from some fish. We’re out of the house for around 11 hours a day so I don’t think it would be fair to an animal to be cooped up for so long anyway.

47. Himself and I both take packed lunches to work.

48. I wear contacts instead of glasses (although I have a spare “just in case” pair). My prescription only needs updated every four years with contacts as opposed to every two with glasses.

49. I switch all the appliances off at the wall when not in use.

50. My broadband is free because we have the basic Sky package and if I’m planning on spending the day on the laptop it gets plugged into the UPS.

365 Day Decluttering Challange - Day...ah, erm...

Forgive me friends for I have sinned, it’s been…..ooooh ages since I last confessed.

I have been busy though, really busy.

The house is on the market so for the past two months or so we’ve been tackling all the really big decluttering challenges. There are a few.

The garage has definitely seen the most benefit from this. Himself insists on keeping all the boxes from appliances until the shop warranty has expired. Personally I don’t see the point and would rather just recycle the boxes to get rid of them. So that’s what I’ve done, every last one. They’re all gone, eighteen in total which were all piled up fully constructed (not even sensibly flattened) in my garage. Only an Irish man parks the car out on the street and locks all the junk and the £30 lawnmower away safely in the garage. Everything which needs to be kept but won’t be used for a while has been packed, labelled and shelved away for a moving date (whenever that will be). It’s been a long haul but at least it looks as though there’s room in there for a car now.

The roof space also got a thorough clearout. Again more boxes (he’s unstoppable), old toys which have been forgot about. These made their way to the local Simon Community. The Christmas decorations got cleared sorted and packed away. Now they only take up two stackable crates instead of the four huge cardboard boxes they were originally spread over. It’s a lot more pleasant up there now and there’s tons of space so we can start working our way around the house and sorting and packing anything that can be and storing it up out of the way until the move.

I may eventually get the minimalist home I’ve always dreamt of.

It may also rain skittles and m&m’s but don’t hold your breath.

Fight the Frump - Killer Heels

OMG OMG OMG Gorgeous shoes and they’re everywhere. They cannot be avoided.

Just. Not. Strong. Enough. I just cannae do it Cap’n.

I luuurve shoes. I possibly have a fetish and possess far too many pairs. I am very lucky to co-exist in the same area as some of the biggest fashionistas I’ve ever followed along behind. The charity shops in this town ROCK.

I’ve picked up Jimmy Choo’s for a fiver, two pairs of vintage Bruno Magli and more recently a pair of emerald green Dior, all in near mint condition.

I lurve them because they’re a fat girls friend and I can always find a pair to fit, regardless of which up themselves “we don’t sell chocolate in here” shop I happen to be in. I wear a UK 4 which I believe is a 6 in the US. My feet are the smallest part of me and they look lovely in really nice shoes.

However, I’ve haven’t bought any new shoes recently. Actually, I haven’t bought any in over a year.

I think it may be time for a small treat. I’ve been so good and I deserve a treat every once in a while. The problem is, I’ve saved some money which I’ve been given as presents at Christmas and Birthdays (listen to me I’m like a child) but I can really only justify one pair.

But which pair. Just look at these;

Quick, pass me a tissue, I appear to be drooling. New shoes are just outstanding. Seriously, how much better do you feel about yourself when you step out in those gorgeous babies (more so when you got them for a bargain).

I fight the frump in killer heels. Hell I kick frump’s ass in killer heels and hopefully very soon a pair of these beautiful heels.

Rock Buns - Recipe

I was given this recipe by a friend about two months ago and it has quickly turned into a weekend breakfast staple.

They're quick and easy to make and the first time toots tried one she closed her eyes and said "Hmmm, delicious". How's that for a seal of approval.

Rock Buns

220g self raising flour

110g butter or marg

110g brown sugar

80g currants

15g glace cherries (chopped)

15g peel

One egg

tsp cinnamon

a pinch of fresh grated nutmeg

Rub the butter into the flour, add the brown sugar, fruit peel and spices and mix. Add beaten egg and mix to combine (if it's a little dry add a splash of milk). It should resemble the consistency of cookies which are rolled into balls before baking.

Split the dough into six portions, don't worry too much about rolling it into perfect balls, there should be a bit craggy. Place them on a cookie sheet leaving room for some spreading and bake at 200C for 20 minutes. Leave them to cool for about ten minutes on the sheet and then just serve with butter and jam. It's easier to just break pieces off these and smear some butter on rather than try to slice them like a traditional scone.

Now that's the original as provided to me. When I came to make them to first time I didn't have any currents, nor did I have cherries, or peel for that matter. I did have raisins and I used those and they were "Hmmm delicious". Since I made them the first time I usually plan ahead now and soak the raisins in the beaten egg in the fridge over night and it makes the raisins lovely and plump. Also I don't bother with the rubbing in, I just throw everything into one bowl and use my handheld electric mixer, doesn't seem to do it any harm.

Five cheap (or free) ways to occupy kids when it’s pouring outside.

Hello. My name is Leanne and I live in Northern Ireland. It rains here. Often.

It was easy enough to keep toots occupied without resorting to TV all day when she was a lot smaller. Now she has to be doing something and because she’s only three a lot of her play is still led by me and Himself.

She’s quite independent when doing certain things, but the weather this year has been awful and she tires of the same thing quickly (Don’t they all?).

So, five things for kids to so when it’s raining. Most of these are relatively easy to do and prepare. I’m not a fan of huge craft projects which take an hour just to lay everything out. Besides, we’re usually just about to head out to the beach, bucket and spade in hand, when the heavens open and I need a quick distraction.

Paper Mache – OK I know, it can be a bit messy, but it’s great for kids of all ages. Even the tiniest of toddler can manage this one without having to be too dextrous. All you need are a handful of balloons, a newspaper or magazine, some flour and water.

Get a bowl of cold water and add enough flour until it’s the consistency of white glue, tear the paper into strips about an inch wide and plonk into the bowl, inflate balloons and give one to each child and let them work away. The beauty of using the flour and water mix instead of actual glue is that when you’re trying to work with a handful of kids it isn’t a disaster if one starts eating from the bowl (it’ll happen, trust me). Plus this means that you’ll then have another planned project for another day when the balloons are dry.

Baking - I don’t this is a predominantly girly thing. I’ve yet to meet a boy who didn’t like to bake as long as he gets to eat the finished product.

The easiest recipe in the world for use when baking with kids is as follows;

One carton of kid’s yogurt or fromage frais.
One carton of caster (superfine) sugar.
One carton of vegetable oil (you can substitute this for melted margarine/butter or sunflower oil)
Three cartons of self raising flour (or plain (all purpose) flour with a teaspoon of baking powder added)
One large egg.

Scrape the yogurt out into a bowl and give the carton a quick wash and dry. Measure out the remaining ingredients starting with the dry ones and add to the bowl with the yogurt in no particular order. Let the kids mix with the wooden spoon (it doesn’t matter if it’s a bit lumpy) and then use the mixture to half fill cupcake cases.

Bake at 180C (350F) for 15-20 minutes, they’ll spring back of you press on them gently when they’re ready. When you remove them from the oven either immediately place a choccy button or two on top while they’re still hot or let them cool slightly and then serve still warm, split in half with some jam.

Play in the rain – Hey it’s there you might as well make use of it. Who can make the biggest splash that kind of thing; also worms come out when it rains, if your kids are into that. Mine is. And if it’s warm outside even though it’s raining, there’s nothing wrong with sticking on some old clothes and letting them roll in the mud, sure it’s just good clean dirt.

Painting and Drawing – but lead them in this. Next time you pass a DIY store pick up a roll of wall lining paper. It’s dirt cheap, usually recycled and quite thick. Pull out your great big roll of paper and a box of colouring pencils or crayons and ask them to draw something specific, their ideal bedroom, a theme park, the best pet in the whole wide world or just a portrait of you. This will also give you some insight into what they think about.

Musical Statues – It isn’t just for birthday parties you know. Get the music on and turn the volume up. Keep hold of the remote and hit mute, everyone has to stay completely still while the music’s off. You can add to this game as well, drop some drying cloths on the floor and say that everyone has to dance on their cloth, if you fall off when the music stops, next time you can only dance on one foot or as a penalty you have to dance with mum for five minutes.

I know hardly and extensive list, but it’s always handy to have one or two extra ideas up you sleeve for times when it’s pouring outside or for anyone in warmer climates, when it’s just too hot to play outside.

I'm putting my foot down

Photo courtesy of Chrissie White at Flickr

I'm putting my foot down.
It's my own fault really, I've let them away with it for so long. I've now managed to get stuck with the job of full time mommy, as well as my other full time job. Imagine every single thing needing to be done around the house and muggins here does it.
But again, it kind of is my fault. You see, I love playing mommy. I like to do all these things for my family, cook and clean. Right down to laying my husband's clothes out for him the night before.
I haven't been very well this year. Nothing serious, just a bit run down and I've been picking up every cold and flu doing the rounds and I'm just starting to feel a bit taken advantage of.
I've started to get toots in on the act with some little things, because she is only little. She can help to sort laundry and she does a great job sorting socks, she has a lot more patience for it than I do.
She keeps her own room tidy and she cleans up after herself for the most part when she plays with her toys.
The problem lies with the husband.
Before I met him he had lived alone for 11 years and kept a pretty nice house so he must be domesticated in some way. We've been together now for coming up on 11 years so I think I may have to start with some serious re-education.
He needs to learn how to function without my help again. At the minute I'm convinced if I left him alone for a week at best he'd run out of clean plates and at worst he'd starve.
I'll try the standard chore list and make sure he sticks to it. Also he's got into a habit of leaving his things lying around and I, aka the eejit, pick them up later.
So I've developed a parking warder system. If i see something where it doesn't belong take a mental note and if it's still there an hour later, it's food for the bin. I don't care what it is, if he wants to keep it he'll learn to put it where it belongs.
Does anyone have any good ideas for getting the husband to help around the house? We both work full time and I think it's only fair that we both do the housework.

Sunday Savers

I’ve decided to make Sunday the day I post about what I do around here to save money and cut costs. I need a bit more structure; otherwise this place will turn into a pigsty.

I need to get one thing straight right off the bat. For me frugality isn’t a personal choice. I make ends meet, sometimes barely. I have a nice house by my standards, but then with the house prices at the minute if I sold it I couldn’t afford a house half the size so in that way I’m just lucky.

I’m cheap, tight or frugal; call it whatever you want, because I have to be. If I threw money away on things the bills just wouldn’t get paid. It's that simple really.

I think I’ll start with the small everyday things I do, although please bear with me if I run off on a tangent a lot of these things I do without thinking. A lot of the things I do are green as well. I prefer to be as green as possible at home because my job is sickeningly un-green. Although I’ve never quite figured out whether I do the things because they’re green and saving money is the bonus or vice versa.

I don’t buy any cleaning products, none whatsoever. I do buy a bottle of all purpose soap called Stardrops which costs around 50p for a half litre. You can use this to clean everything from dishes to windows, upholstery to floors and everything else in between. I’ve also been known to buy magic sponges which are £1 for four, but I keep these for specific things, when the Stardrops and elbow grease just hasn’t worked.

I mend clothes from simple things like fixing hems and re-attaching buttons to altering some of toots and my own clothes to get an extra season out of them. I do this every year with jeans for toots. The one thing I will spend a bit of money on is a couple of pairs of jeans from Next. They have an adjustable waist and adjustable leg length so for around £10 a pair she gets an entire year or more out of them. I’ve taken a few pairs up into shorts when there has still been plenty of room left at the waist.

I use old clothes for cleaning clothes.

We always use the library, but I was brought up to use the library. They’re threatened with closing on a regular basis and we need to support local libraries. People keep your kids away from the internet as long as possible and GO TO THE LIBRARY or there may not be one to go to.

I prefer to shop in charity shops. Some people really don’t like the idea of second hand clothes but so many have such a “throw away” attitude to clothing that most of the things I buy have barely done a hands turn. Especially the clothes I buy for toots in fact a fair amount of them still have the shop labels attached.

I spend between £50-60 a month on food shopping.

We grow our own vegetables and have a pear and apple tree as well as a lot of berry bushes.

I keep an emergency food sale fund of around £20 a month. Sales don’t rally follow any pattern here and sometimes a really good bargain just crops up and I’ll use the fund to stock up when I see them.

I am not brand loyal. I rarely buy the same brand of anything, if it’s on sale and I can think of a way to use it, then I’ll have it.

We used washable nappies on toots. I’m not great at sewing and I’m not that dextrous at the best of times, so we went with the shaped Motherease nappies. I bought second hand from Ebay and got a huge batch of 24 nappies, hundreds of paper liners, 12 covers, two small bins with mesh bags and four booster pads. I paid £85 plus £10 postage for the full set and sold them again 18 months later for £70 plus postage. £25 for 18 months worth of nappies was a real bargain. We don’t pay for water here and I did three loads of nappies a week (four in the first few weeks) at around 50p a load.

I don’t make my own laundry soap. It’s virtually impossible to get borax here any more and the homemade soap just doesn’t work without it. I just buy whichever soap is on offer and use a hell of a lot less than what it states on the pack. Most of the time a tablespoon or two works just fine rather than a half cup per load. I also always run a full load, never half loads.

We don’t take holidays. We’ve only had two in the last 10 years.

I don’t drive, never have. I don’t possess a license and I’ve never applied for a provisional. There is nowhere I want to be that I can’t get there under my own steam. We do own a car though. Himself drives for work and at the minute the car gets out once a month for the big shop. We spend around £10 every six weeks on petrol and the car is low emission so the tax is cheaper as well.

There are hundreds more things I do every day and big one off things which I do to save money but I’ll elaborate on these each week.

If I’m missing out on anything I could be doing to save money, and I’m sure I am, I’d love to hear your ideas and tips.