Saturday, 20 December 2014

Sneaking ahead for 2015

 Hurrah it's nearly Christmas.  And a new exciting year is around the corner for the Random family. We're planning to hit the garden hard the moment Christmas is finished and prepare for the new growing season.  I want to get as much as possible set up by the time Baby arrives so I only have to worry about picking and watering while I'm recovering.
 We have sneaked in a little head start though with some celery. Clever hubby picked some up reduced to pennies a few days ago. All he needs is a windowsill and a jam jar so rather than wasting a chance to have homegrown celery this summer, he'll be joining us from his windowsill.
 Perhaps he'll inspire my hyacinth to get a move on. I don't think it'll be out for Christmas somehow,  but maybe New year will start with a pretty floral display if I'm lucky.

 X x x

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Sneeaky money saving at Christmas

Everything is so expensive at Christmas" moaned a friend of mine this morning in the school playground.  Do you agree?  I don't.  At least mostly I don't.  You see all that Christmas stock takes up valuable shelf space in stores, and most shops have very limited storage space to keep things til January. Lots of these items end up on the clearance shelf to make way for premium priced cousins. 
For example a 600ml bottle of fairy should be about £2-£2.30  but thanks to the new flavour out for Christmas, cucumber and aloe has been banished to the clearance corner.They also had the more expensive but smaller platinum range of flavours too, but they were almost half the size of the cucumber ones. The frugalista in me choose to get the most for my money.
Clearance price?  50P a bottle!  I snapped up four which should keep me in suds for a good long while. 

So next time you spot a Christmas edition of a product, it might be worth looking for the old one
X x x

Monday, 17 November 2014

Poor Chilly Barbie

 A few days ago DD brought a Barbie doll from a local charity shop with her pocket money. She got a good deal paying just 50p because poor Barbie had no clothes, and some charity shop don't like to display naked dolls.
 When we got home we wrapped her in a handkerchief with some elastic bands as a makeshift dress. DD was concerned she would be chilly. Meanwhile I looked up some free knitting patterns and discovered this little gem.
 It took just two nap times to knit up and used up a few scraps of wool that wouldn't have made much else.
 Only trouble is, now DD wants a whole Barbie wardrobe knitted up for her new friend. Best get knitting eh?

x x x

Friday, 14 November 2014

Happy Pudsey Day

Happy Pudsey Day! was DDs greeting this morning when she woke up.  They have been learning about Children in Need for a day or two at school. She was super excited to get ready thanks to today being a pyjama day! DD opted for a snuggly penguin onesie with a pair of tights and a shirt underneath for extra warmth. 
 It was fun to see all the teachers had joined in, even the headmistress had stripey jammies, a sleeping cap and a teddy bear under her arm as she welcomed us this morning. 
 When we collected her at home time the teacher told us they'd had several of the youngest ones had curled up in comfy spots and had naps after lunch.  Can't really blame them myself,  when your in your jammies it's quite easy to nod off.

 We also picked 
up our first baby thing for the impending arrival. I couldn't resist this sweet little shirt in Asda. Though we have strong suspicions about the sex of BB (Baby bump) we are sticking to neutral colours for the moment.  I just love the little slogan and design.
 Can't wait for May to arrive.

 X x X

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

An Exciting Announcement

 Sorry I've been so quiet, but I just didn't trust myself to keep the secret.
 Baby Random number 3 is due in May 2015. I'm currently 12 weeks into the pregnancy and all is happy and healthy.
 Sooo lots  of organising and preparing needs doing over the next six months. But all that will come, for now we are at the goofy smiling stage.

 Gender guesses and advice welcome

x x

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Day 5- Feeding the ducks

 It's been a hectic day here folks. I had an appointment to attend midmorning which went really well.  But it did mean we couldn't spend the whole day out. Once I was back we loaded up the buggy with drinks and snacks, before heading to our local country park.
 We spent a lovely sunny afternoon feeding ducks and spotting wildlife.
 In fact by the time we'd toddled home and eaten the girls were yawning. I had themin bed and asleep by 6.15!
 So no page completed today for your viewing pleasure I'm afraid.
 Tomorrow is going to be a big trip out though, with a special Grandad shaped guest joining in the fun.

 X x

Monday, 27 October 2014

Day 3&4 - Baking and exploring

 Apologies for the lack of a post yesterday. It proved to be a rather difficult day but I'm happy to say today has seen a vast improvement!
 For day 3 we just watched cclassic Disney movies on Sky player and baked some cupcakes from kit in my baking stash. Once the girls were in bed, I quickly followed.

Today we all headed outside for some much needed fresh air. We stomped our way through the local path, kicking piles of autumn leaves, collecting interesting sticks and running far as our legs wanted to take us.
 We brought home a pocketful of seeds and leaves to add to DDs diary. 

X x x

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Day Two; Nummies and rest

 I have two very tired girls today so our adventures hhave been close to home. Hubby had apparcel to post so took DD with him for the car ride. I stayed home with Baby D and let her nap.
 As a little reward for good behaviour at the post office they popped into Lidl for a bakery treat. DD choose pink donuts (4@25p).

 After an afternoon of playing with a cardboard box we decided a nice dinner was in order. So we treated ourselves to a portion of chips from the local chippy. We served them with quarter of a quiche from the freezer and homemade pickled eggs and onions.
 It went down rather well.

 Remaining budget; £44.00

 Today's costs -
  Donuts - £1
  Chips - £2.50

 Total - £3.50

 New budget balance - £40.50

Friday, 24 October 2014

Day 1 - Frugal Swimming

 As promised here is today's diary page. DD has done a good job I think

  We had a free child swim voucher so DD was free, Baby D is under 3 and swims free so we only had to pay for hubby and parking.  I prefer not to swim but like to watch them all play and help with changing time.
 I packed everyone some juice and a snack (apples today) as tiny tums seem to get out of the pool ravenously hungry.  I refuse to buy a fruit drink for over £1 and give them chocolate based treats from the vending machines.
 We collected some swim lesson leaflets from the changing rooms which gave us lots of cartoon swimmers to cut out for page decoration.
 We took our own swim toys to avoid buying or hiring any.

    Adult swim- £3.80
    Swim nappy - 50p
    Parking - 70p

 Total cost - £5.00

 Budget remaining - £44.00

 X x X

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Frugal Half Term begins

 It's officially half term. DDs school has finished today due to staff training tomorrow.
  Being on a budget but also wanting some fun we have allocated £50 to the half term fund for entertainment!  So let's see how we can stretch that into 9, days of frugal fun.
 Our first £1 from the budget has been spent on a pack of exercise books (3) from the ever dependable Wilko.

The girls have been given one each as their Half term diaries. And job one is decoration!
 We've pulled out all the stops with stickers, glue and shiny paper.

 These diaries are a fantastic money saving idea for us as almost everything free becomes a souvenir.  Leaflets, ticket stubs, printed photos, used parking tickets and such like make great page additions. Plus if we do buy a little something after our visit a postcard or sticker is often one of the cheapest gifts in the store.
 Hopefully I will be able to show you our first completed page tomorrow after we go swimming together.

 X x

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Presents for pennies

We recently had our first birthday party invite sent home from school. Being a family living on a small budget I needed some clever ideas for a budget present.  After a few searches on the fountain of knowledge that is pinterest and a quick visit to Poundworld I hit on a marvellous idea.

 What little girl wouldn't love a pretty apron and baking kit. Complete with her initial in sparkly thread.  The apron took about 15 minutes to make from a tea towel (a pack of I have a spare in reserve) and some spare ribbon. Embroidery took about 45 minutes using a pattern found free on the net.
 I added a princess baking kit as I felt it needed a little something else with it.
 Total cost - £2.00

 I was stopped a few days after the party by the recipients mum who thanked me for such a thoughtful gift.  Her daughter had played with it all weekend and they'd really enjoyed baking together.
 I think I can class that as a major success :)

X x X

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

All change please, all change.

 2014 has been an incredibly crazy year for the Random family. We've dealt with last minute house moves, hospital emergencies, career changes, loosing and gaining family members and a whole host of never ending situations and scenarios.
 And we're not done yet!
September has seen DD off to school which has been a much bigger change for us all than I first realised.  Learning to run your day around school drop offs and pick ups has been strange. We've also had to step up on being more organised (hands up DDs been sent to school with a jumper still warm from the tumble drier on two occasions).
 I feel like we're finally getting there now though. We've reached that lovely plateau where things have begun to become routine.  I checked DDs uniform drawer on Sunday to find I'd washed, dried and put away her uniform from last week without remembering I'd done it!

  But as I say 2014 isn't done with us yet. We have a big secret to reveal in the works that your all going to love, and a big purchase to save for with some back to basic frugalling.
 So long story short ... I will be back blogging from tomorrow and sharing more of our frugalling adventures and experiments.
 Watch this space folks. 2014 is ending with a BANG!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Unexpected vistor for Breakfast

Yup, it happened again! A third pigeon has fallen down our chimney in seven months of living here.
Tomorrow I will be stomping into the letting agents office and demanding someone comes out to put a cover over my chimney within the week. I hate being that person, but it's ridiculous to have had three occurrences so close together. 
 I am getting rather efficient at catching them now though.

Within seconds of being released it was perched back on the edge of the chimney pot, with a flock of pigeon friends! Action is needed.
x x x

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Green gifts (some great, some NOT!)

 I had a little tray of green gifts from my parents this weekend. I've just finished popping them into pots and thought I would share them with you all.
 First some minty flavored salad leaves, these should last a little while if I only take what I need each time.

 Two Basil plants, to keep me going while my seedlings mature a bit.

 A coriander plant. Never tried growing these before, I use the seeds in my pickling though so it would be another step towards self sufficiency if I could produce my own.

It doesn't photograph well, but this is purple basil. PURPLE! I'm going to try and get these guys to grow big and healthy. Can you imagine how pretty green and purple pesto would look? Or sprinkled purple basil over pasta!

And finally a present I DIDN'T appreciate! This hairy legged hitchhiker was hiding under one of the plug pots. I managed to trap it using the old postcard and jam jar trick for a quick snap before regifting it back to my Dad. He released it out into the garden, but I'm on highest alert now in case he tries to sneak back in.

x x x

Monday, 8 September 2014

Just another Manic Monday

It's been all go here today I can tell you. DD had her very first day at school and was all dressed up in her sparkly new uniform. I managed to somehow get her hair pretty for school, though how I managed it on a bouncy over excited and anxious four year old I will never know.

Once we returned from school at lunch time (new starters only do half days for a while) we found a wonderful little parcel from Angela over at Tracing Rainbows. I had admired her Snow White aprons on the Tracing Rainbows blog. DD was of course thrilled and wore it for the rest of the day!

At 3pm the plums arrived! I was offered a job lot of plums by a kind lady on Streetbank, who not only gave me 10 1/2lbs of Victoria plums for free, but delivered them herself as well!
 Being short on time while DD assimilates into school I've frozen them down in 1lb bags skinned and destoned. But you can imagine just how many crumbles, pots of jam, syrup, jellies etc are coming our way with these tucked away for later.

And another peek at the Basil! Growing it in August under a pop bottle is definitely the way to go, I think I must have near on 100% germination from my sprinkle of seeds.  I'm leaving the lid off the bottle now to allow some air to circulate without shocking the seedlings. But I think in a day or two I will just leave it off completely and let them do their thing.

x x x

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Sunday Shenanigans

 Today I have been picking tomatos from the garden.  The first of the larger tomatos were ready today.

I started some apple seeds in the fridge. I was given some lovely apples by a friend so I've saved the seeds in the hope I can grow my own trees.

I turned one of the huge marrows I was gifted (thank y
 you mum and dad) into three jars of spicy pickled marrow. I've not tried it before but I'm assured it's delicious with cheese and crackers. 

And just look at all that baby basil! I couldn't believe how many popped up overnight.
Fingers crossed I get some good strong plants from this little lot. I want to make pesto!

X x X

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Aloe Vera Babies

I spent a rather enjoyable hour in the garden this afternoon with my growing plant collection. The tomatoes are starting to ripen and I'm picking a few each day. I should have enough this year to keep us in cheese sandwiches and side salads but not much else. Next year expansion is needed in this area for sure.
 I also potted up some baby Aloe Vera. I have two "mother" plants who between them have produced  8 baby Vera.

I am hoping to grow them slowly but surely into size able plants for selling, trading and of course using.

 I also have these four mystery plants. One of my mother plants was purchased recently from a charity shop plant sale, it appears I have tiny hitchhikers. I think they must be a similar plant to Aloe Vera as they have that thick squishy leaf quality to them. I've decided to grow them for the moment and see what they turn out to be. If they aren't a useful plant than please pray that they are pretty and sellable lol

And finally a quick update on my Basil project. We have sprouting!  I can so far see three tiny green plants starting out of the ten or so seeds I sprinkled in. I'm hoping to see the rest shortly, but three days to germinate in August isn't bad going I don't think. Hopefully I will have an army of plants by late spring for selling, trading and using.

x x x

Thursday, 4 September 2014

First Christmas knit completed

 I am so pleased with how this turned out! I've hung the 6 stockings on some hairy string with a little white bell threaded in between each one.

  Very festive looking of the bureau I think. And each time I open a drawer it jingles :)

x x x

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Experimenting with Basil

 I saw an interesting Pin recently on Pinterest about growing Basil through the winter indoors and then planting them outside once the frosts have past. That way you are already ahead of the game for herb growing season, with the occasional fresh leaf here and there over the colder months too.
 Seeing as I had some Basil seeds, an empty drinks bottle and a helpful DD, I thought why not give it a go.

We've sprinkled about 10-12 seeds in this pot of damp compost, and covered it with half of the bottle to give it a mini greenhouse effect. Hopefully in a weeks time we will see teeny tiny shoots poking through.
 If these come through I might try a few other herbs indoors over winter to get me started quicker outside next summer.
Wish me luck

x x

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Garden Progress

 Made a little more progress in the front garden today with my next pallet bed.  I lined it with the last of the plastic from our new mattress, and covered the open edges with more pallet boards and fence panel.
 I've thrown in a handful of questionable kale seeds to see if they do anything.

After all that sawing and hammering I needed a nice hefty lunch. So clever hubby and DD whipped up
a hearty potato and leek soup with rice pasta and some languishing sausage from the fridge. It was a delicious and frugal lunch that really hit the spot.


Sunday, 31 August 2014

Let the Prepping begin (Free Pattern)

 The first of September is just around the corner and you can certainly feel the change in the seasons this week. It is time for the frugal and thrifty among us to turn their minds towards Christmas preps.
 I try to squirrel gifts away over the course of the year but some things like baking, decorations and planning can't be started until the last quarter of the year .

 I'm starting a day early this year with something fun. Knitting little stockings for bunting.  My mum was given the pattern on a recent crafting holiday with her quilting buddies.
 It's just perfect for knitting up here and there in a spare five minutes, and use up such a tiny amount of wool. I've chosen to use red and green but wouldn't they look adorable in pastels?

 Click on the picture to enlarge, and knit away. If you use this pattern I would love to see the results! Pop me a link in the comments section so I can peep at your creations.

x x x

Saturday, 30 August 2014

A day in the kitchen

We had planned to get some jobs done in the gardening today. But OH got a phone call from work begging him to cover a shift today so all changed. 
Instead I cleared out oone of the kitchen cupboards that had been bugging me,  I distracted 
the girls with playdough.

After dejunking with the aid of Freegle, Facebook and Ebay, my cupboard is looking much more manageable.  

To celebrate Baby D helped me whip up a batch of cakes from our cupboard stash.

ThThey came out rather well don't you think? 

X x x