Friday, 21 February 2014

Top Ten Tips for shopping at Charity shops

My challenge to myself this year is to only buy second hand or fair trade clothes. This is already difficult as all of my clothes are too big! My bum has disappeared so even my smallest pair of jeans are baggy. I never used to like my big bum but now it has gone I miss it!  So I need some more jeans and trousers. Unfortunately I have only bought one successful pair of jeans from a charity shop but I have bought many tops, cardigans and dresses that are now well incorporated in to my wardrobe.

For our day out at the Harry Potter studio tour I wore two of my favourite charity shop finds.

My red jeans I bought from a charity shop in Manchester for £5.99. I was pregnant so it was a bit of a gamble as to whether they would fit me or not. The gamble paid off I LOVE them. They are one of the two pairs of trousers that still look OK on my small butt. My top is my most recent charity shop buy. My friend Jen found it and made me try it on. I wasn't convinced when I saw it on the hanger but it really suits me, it is good for breast feeding and makes me feel a little fancy. It cost £4.99.

I have been shopping in Charity shops for clothes for 8 years now so I have gathered some top tips:

1. Go with an open mind - Every time I shop knowing I need a certain item I come home disappointed, but if I go just to see what I can find I find some lovely things.

2. Try before you buy - too many times I have decided that an item of clothing will fit me without trying it on. Second hand clothes may have been stretched or misshapen and you wont necessarily notice unless you try them on.

3. Set yourself a budget - Just because your spending money in a charity shop doesn't mean you are saving money. I have spent too much before and didn't notice because I was only spending a few pounds in my favourite charity shop every couple of days.

4. Take Cash - Most Charity shops now take cards but it is easier to keep an eye on what you are spending when you use cash.

5. Only buy things you love - It is not worth even a pound if you aren't going to love and wear it regularly.

6. Take a friend - It is good to have a level headed friend who knows your style and size as he / she may spot something that you wouldn't have noticed and they can keep you under control if you get the urge to splurge.

7. Make a day of it - If you have time it is worth taking an afternoon or a day every now and then to properly explore all of the charity shops in your town. 

8. Make friends with the volunteers in your favourite charity shop - Since having Fred it has been so much easier to start conversations with some of the older ladies in one of my favourite charity shops. They are happy to keep an eye on Fred for me while I try things on and they will give me their opinion if I don't have friend with me.

9. If you have the chance it is always worth travelling to a posh town or village and finding their charity shops. They often have better quality, less worn clothes.

10. Donate your own clothes - if people don't keep donating good quality clothes charity shops will not have good things for you to find. I like to think I have some friends that I have never met who are my size and share my style. We are effectively swapping clothes whilst donating money to charity. 

Monday, 17 February 2014

Ordinary Moments; Playing With Daddy

One of the best things about being a mum is getting to watch Jamie being a dad. 

Fred adores him. Jamie gets more smiles and giggles then everyone else. 
Hearing and watching the fun they have together makes all of the sleepless nights worth it. 
I also know it is going to get more fun. I can hardly wait!

I am linking up with Katie at MummyDaddyMe again this week.
 Don't forget to have a look at the other lovely posts.


Friday, 14 February 2014

Easy and cheap three bean chilli recipe

As promised this is my recipe for three bean chili.
It makes roughly 6 portions of chili.
You will need:

Three tins of various beans
Two tins of chopped tomatoes
Two chillies
Two cloves of garlic
Two onions
Two peppers
Two carrots
A corgette
Table spoon of tomato puree
Table spoon of sugar
Table spoon of Worcester sauce
A chicken or vegetable stock cube (depending on whether your vegetarian or not)
And any other veg you fancy throwing in. Sometimes I use leek instead as onion, I would put mushrooms in but Jamie doesn't like them. You could also add a splash of red wine.

Start by cooking you're chopped onions, garlic and chilli in a little oil until soft. Add the drained beans, the tinned tomatoes and chopped carrot, stir and bring to the boil. Add all of your other veg, the sugar, worcester sauce, tomato puree stir and then put a lid of your frying pan, turn the hob down and simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes or until the carrot is soft. Season to taste. Boil your rice or cook some jacket potatoes and its ready. :)

I have worked out that it costs about 80 pence per portion. A very cheap and yummy meal!

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Save money on Valentines day

 If like me you are taking part in the Great British Budget challenge this February, you probably haven't got much spare cash to be spending this valentines day. Here are a few ways I have come up with to help you celebrate valentines day on a budget:

✳Buy flowers that aren't red roses. Roses are expensive at the best of times, but during the valentines period the price sky rockets! Other flowers are just as nice and are a lot cheaper. (Just don't buy carnations)

✳Stay in and cook. Pull out all the stops and make something challenging. Your other half is bound to be impressed.

✳If you can't cook, go out for lunch or dinner next week. Restaurants are ultra busy over valentines weekend, miss the crowds by celebrating a week later.

✳Make something. A special photo album of you time together will always go down well.

I may now come across as a bit of a Scrooge, but if you are really serious about saving money this Valentines day. 
Don't celebrate it.
There I said it.

If you love someone and want to show them you care why wait for Valentines day? Buy them flowers and go on lovely (inexpensive) dates all through the year.

If you are a fan of Valentines day then please ignore the above suggestion. The essence of Valentines day is to spend time with the person you love. It doesn't have to be big or fancy. Put some thought and time in to it and I'm sure your significant other will appreciate it.

Friday, 7 February 2014

How to save money on your weekly shop

Currently we spend under £40 per week on our food shop. £40 comfortably feeds two pretty hungry adults. 
One is breastfeeding the other just eats a lot!

Spending this little takes some planning, a little compromise and a willingness to cook.
Below is an average weeks shopping list.

I plan our evening meals in advance but I am open to change if I spot a really good offer. I never buy portions of chicken, I always buy a whole one and portion it up myself, this way I can make 4 meals for two from one £4.99 free range chicken. I don't enjoy cutting up the chicken but it is worth it. To buy an equivalent amount of breast meat would cost nearly the same price as the whole chicken.

At least two of our evening meals a week are meat free. I learnt how to make 3 bean chili from scratch and veggie curry. Jamie is not really a fan of vegetarian meals but he loves curry and chili so the vegetarian versions are bearable.

For breakfast we eat porridge, because we like it. But it also happens to be much cheaper than cereal- it is also lower in sugar and salt. Win win.

We shop primarily in Aldi, partly because I can walk there. Saving a tiny bit more money on petrol. It is a good super market but only if you are willing to be flexible as they don't always have everything in- this week they had run out of free range chickens so I bought a pack of bacon and a pack of mince instead. Since changing our main super market shop to Aldi it has been much easier to stick to our £40 budget.

Over the next few weeks I will be sharing with you my recipe for 3 bean chili and some ways to make the most of a whole chicken.

Lisa from the blog TheLifeOfWife suggests having two simple meals a week such as beans on toast.

What tricks do you have for reducing your food bill?

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Baby Fred - 4 Month Update

Fred is now changing every day, he comes out with new noises and experiments with a new expression or two every day. He has just learnt to squeal. It took 3 days if experimenting and practicing, but he now has it down.

He is a strong baby, he is determined to stand as much as possible. 
Once he grabs a finger he has to be persuaded to let go. He enjoys practicing sitting up, but he hasn't got the control to hold himself up yet.

I got Fred weighed last week and he is a pudgy 16lbs 4oz. He has nearly doubled his birth weight!

This month Fred's sleep has been terrible, he has been waking up almost every 2.5 hours and it is not unusual for him to be awake for over an hour in the very early morning. It has been exhausting. I'm praying that it is over. Last night he slept for a solid 6 hours- the first time he has done this in 4 weeks.

We at still very much fans of our cloth nappies. We are taking a break from them at the moment though because we can't keep up with the sheer amount of washing being generated by Fred's illness. We thought at first he had a tummy bug, this theory was confirmed by the doctor but ten days later we are still going through a ridiculous amount if nappies! (We going back to the doctor tomorrow) 

This month we have all been ill. Jamie and I have been hit by bad colds thankfully we are now recovering. It will be such a relief to be well again. Looking after a baby while ill is hard. - There has been some crying.

 Despite being ill Fred is generally laid back and happy. Though I'm concerned he has developed a taste for calpol. 

I hope our 5 month update is happier with less illness and more sleep. If you pray we would appreciate your prayers!

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Ordinary Moments; Teething

This week as well as having to deal with a bad belly (read - soooo many dirty nappies!) Fred's teething has been turned up a notch. 

Dribbling, gnawing on anything that will fit in his mouth, sucking his fingers- when he remembers that he has them, and some grumpiness.

We have many teething toys, but many are currently a little too big for Fred's mouth or a bit unwieldy. Most of the time he doesn't manage to get them to his mouth without help.  I bought the teether above on a whim from the central isle in Aldi and it is a hit! It is small enough to fit in his mouth and light enough for him to control it.

It is strange that these small things mean so much to me now. It is because they mean so much to me that I now realise how much my life has changed. Of course life has physically changed; we don't go out for dinner anymore, sleep is at Fred's mercy, I spend my days with him and don't go to work. But the biggest change is internal; my motivations and passions are different.

I now get excited about teething toys.
The old me is rolling her eyes. ;)

My life has changed a lot and I love it (most of the time).