Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Preparing your Child for Back to School

A Guest Post by Jennifer Tankersley 

As the first day of school approaches, parents and children alike begin to run the gamut of emotions: excitement, fear, anticipation, anxiety. For those who will be experiencing a child’s very first day of school, you may feel torn between the joy of leading your child through a momentous milestone and the sadness of knowing that your child is taking yet another step out from under your influence and protection. However, preparing your child for school can have the beneficial effects of soothing nerves and strengthening bonds.

Here are a few ways to help you and your child transition easily into the next important step:
Make a big deal out of gathering school supplies. Set aside time during the evening or weekend to focus on the needs of your student-to-be. If possible, arrange time alone to dig together through items you already have or to make a trip to a local store for a little back-to-school shopping.

Friday, 26 July 2013

The Creative Home and Garden Hop #2

Come and join us in The Creative Home and Garden

Pull up a deckchair and enjoy the sunshine. This newly-established hop is the perfect fit for all of your wonderful posts on creative homemaking and gardening.

Meet The Creative Home and Garden
Hop hosts:
Alison from Mumtopia
Kathy from Creative Home Expressions
Mary from Back to the Basics and Mary’s Kitchen
and Lisa Lynn from Little Homestead on Hill
Week One's featured posts here at Mumtopia are: 

which you will find at Annie's Place.
by My Lamp is Full.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Holy Grail Cooking #6: Soft Focus Flapjacks

Flapjacks are hardly going to be served if you have tea at The Ritz, but they can be made even more inexpensive by tweaking the recipe a little. 

I followed Gill Holcombe's recipe from How to Feed your Whole Family a Healthy Balanced Diet with very Little Money...(£9.99, HowToBooks), which you can find here. Holcombe's version is easy enough for Prima to try, with a fair amount of help/ supervision from me, and the result was popular with the whole family. Flapjacks can also be made any time of year, since none of the ingredients are seasonal, and are the kind of wholesome-ish sweet thing you can probably rustle up from your storecupboard. 

Cost-cutting tips:

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Simple Pleasures #10: How to Actually Enjoy Family Walks

1. Realise that, unlike adults, children do not necessarily like going on walks for the sake of it. There needs to be a PURPOSE to going out in the wilds of the countryside, or indeed, ANYWHERE AT ALL on foot. Sometimes I save up letters just so that we have a reason to put our shoes on and go up the road to the postbox. Then I stealthily mention the "secret paths" (alleyways) nearby which we could explore. Don't forget to avoid stepping on the cracks in the pavement, counting the paving slabs etc. Within reason, I even let them choose whether to go left or right (we arrive at our front door in the end).

2. Introduce new skills to your children, such as skimming stones, aiming pebbles at a tower made of flat stones, or bashing rocks together in the hope of finding fossils. Geocaching is a great way to make a walk exciting and purposeful.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Dig for Victory #3 - Survival of the Fittest

Not so much a garden of Eden; mine is more a garden of Darwin. This year, with the loft extension in full swing, it is all about survival of the fittest. Some of the Thompson and Morgan seeds I sowed earlier this year have been a real success. Unfortunately, because I neglected to label everything once I planted the seedlings in my raised beds, I am not entirely yet sure what these successful plants are. I will be much more diligent next time.

With some of the lettuces we have had real luck, and they are providing us with salad leaves (cut and come again) several times a week. Others bolted very quickly, while I was up a ladder, but I have left most of them in situ, as the bees really like to visit the little yellow flowers. It also looks as if the garlic clove I planted is busy generating a new head of garlic. I await developments.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Frugal Bugle #2: Bonus points when you sign up with MyVoice Online Surveys

There are so many ways to earn money online, but many of them are scams and a complete waste of time. I have signed up to a number of survey websites over the years, but there aren't many I would recommend. That all changed when I signed up with MyVoice

If you also like having your say and being rewarded for filling in online surveys, then the best website I've come across is the MyVoice panel. I've been a member of the panel for a year or two, and they send out the best and easiest surveys to their members, to help organisations including the BBC, Sainsburys, The British Museum and Friends of the Earth find out what people like us think. 

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Come and Join us: The Creative Home and Garden Hop #1

Welcome to the New and Improved Blog Hop!
Come and join us in The Creative Home and Garden

Formerly The Creative HomeAcre, this blog hop has undergone a few changes. We sadly say goodbye to two of our hosts, Manuela and Andrea. We wish them the best of luck with their wonderful blogs and hope you will continue to visit them.

But not all of the changes are sad! After careful consideration, all of the hosts felt some changes were in order to improve and update this fun party. Since Lisa's blog, The Self Sufficient HomeAcre is dedicated more to homesteading and self sufficiency, she felt that the perfect place to host a creative hop would be right on her other blog, Little Homestead on the Hill! The new hop name is the perfect fit for all of your wonderful posts on creative homemaking and gardening. :) We would love to continue reading your awesome homesteading posts on The HomeAcre Hop on Thursdays, so please keep 'em coming!

Meet The Creative Home and Garden Hop hosts:
Alison from Mumtopia
and Lisa Lynn from Little Homestead on Hill

Featured Posts
Each host will share her own features each week. This means you have an even better chance of being picked! Be sure to visit all of our hosts to see if your post was featured!

Friday, 19 July 2013

Frugal Bugle #1: MySupermarket Discount Code

MySupermarket is a new type of money-saving tool that allows you to compare prices and shop online from the main retailers in one place. The American equivalent website can be found here. Their aim is to help you save time and money while giving you the best possible online shopping experience. 

Use this code when you buy via Mysupermarket for the first time, and you will get £10 off your bill GV-BUFUXPCIIR

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Complaining: A Competitive Sport

Complaining can become a competitive sport among mums.

 It begins at baby and toddler groups - Who Had the Least Sleep/ Most Tantrums Last Week - and continues at the school gate - I Cannot BELIEVE the Cost of Kids' Shoes/ the Weather/ the Amount of Homework they give out - and beyond. Who Has the Worst Life can be a great conversation piece, but it is also incredibly draining.
I am just about to embark upon the above 10 Day personal challenge, and I do so with trepidation. There's less to complain about since I don't watch the news, but I'm still quick to criticize and judge. Dwelling on the negative has come naturally since I was a teenager, even if I have since given all my The Smiths CDs away on freecycle. 

I have already done a trial run; I lasted less than an hour and the King said "You're very quiet". The trick is to be constructive and take action instead of moaning about the State of the Kitchen / the State of the Education System etc. One way to remind yourself to focus on the good things in life is to wear a piece of jewellery for the duration of the challenge, such as a bracelet, which you can switch from one wrist to the other each time you find yourself complaining. To avoid existing in a silent world, look for positive things to say, and identify where you can improve the situation you're complaining about. Join a pressure group. Write to your Member of Parliament. Clean the bathroom floor.

PMS looms on the horizon, yesterday was the hottest day of the year, we live on a building site, and the Evacuees' school holidays begin on Friday. A perfect time, then, to try to look on the bright side. 

Sunday, 14 July 2013

The Creative HomeAcre Hop #24

Welcome back to the Creative HomeAcre Hop hosted by: 
Andrea from Opulent Cottage, Kathy from Creative Home ExpressionsMary from Back to the Basics and Mary’s KitchenMe, (Alison, from MumtopiaManuela from A Cultivated Nestand Lisa Lynn from The Self Sufficient HomeAcre!)

With so many co-hosts, that means that when you link up your posts each week, they will be viewed by even more people! Each host will be sharing her own picks for Featured Bloggers. This gives everyone a better chance of being featured and increases your exposure to new readers. Be sure to check all of our blogs to see if you were featured!

Which is my chosen Featured Post this week? 

I chose the Custom Size Dishmat tutorial by The Domestic Groove. I love simple, frugal, practical projects like these. 

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Simple Pleasures #9: A Woodlouse House

Courtesy of Secundus, our resident inventor, here are some (paraphrased) tips for making your own beetle shelter out of junk while your sister is doing handstands and your mum is in the kitchen.

1. Make sure you choose a site for your insect home which will not be disturbed by roofers requiring access to the timber your parents have just bought.

2. Collect all the junk you can find in your garden and ask for a bag or box to put it in so you can transport it through the house to the (relatively) tranquil front garden. I chose: earth, old nails, blocks of wood, plastic flower pots, broken slates and slivers of wood. Most of these made it through the house without spilling.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Pre-loved Patchwork

I'd love to buy a charm pack from Tilda's seaside collection or even just a couple of dozen fat quarters, but I can't afford it, so here are some alternatives for your next patchwork project: 

Monday, 8 July 2013

You know you're at home in a building site when...

1. ...you run out of at least one of the following every day: biscuits, toilet paper, teabags, coffee, sugar or milk.

2. ...you spent an hour unloading slates for the roof, and someone in Spain (where they are imported from) has written "HOLA" on one. Seeing "HOLA" scratched on a slate makes your day. 

Sunday, 7 July 2013

The Creative Home Acre Hop #23

It's time to link up your posts at the Creative Home Acre Hop hosted by Andrea from Opulent CottageKathy from Creative Home ExpressionsMary from Back to the Basics and Mary’s KitchenMe, (Alison, from MumtopiaManuela from A Cultivated Nestand Lisa Lynn from The Self Sufficient HomeAcre!)

With so many co-hosts, that means that when you link up your posts each week, they will be viewed by even more people! Each host will be sharing her own picks for Featured Bloggers. This gives everyone a better chance of being featured and increases your exposure to new readers. Be sure to check all of our blogs to see if you were featured!

Who was featured this week? 

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Long-lasting Lists Without a Laminator

Printables. Just like notebooks, films starring a certain Mr Cumberbatch, and cups of coffee: I cannot get enough of 'em. I have a whole Pinterest board devoted to things I want to print, from free blog planners to party invitations. 
Unfortunately, when we last splashed out on a printer we decided to save money and opt for a non-wireless one. This means that whenever we want to print anything, we have to email it to ourselves, or put it on a memory stick, and then fire up Grandfather Desktop, the ancient computer that grumbles to itself in the front room.

Because I'm such a mean old gal, I feel bad about wasting the liquid gold also known as printer ink, and, of course, paper. To combat this I try to shrink what I'm printing, change the setting to greyscale and avoid colour like the plague, but this doesn't always work. Especially not for Subway Art.

Lists to Put Your World in Order
This frugality explains why, although I hanker after one, we don't own a laminator. Instead, to make super-useful printables last, saving time, paper and ink, I use sticky-backed plastic. I found a roll in a skip the other day so this solution is totally free for our homestead, but it would cost less than a laminator if you don't have one either. Cut to size, leaving a border all round, trim the corners at a 45 degree angle and fold each edge of sticky-backed plastic under. Smooth out any air bubbles and that's it.
It's so simple I'm annoyed I didn't think of it before. Gel pen in hand, I cheerfully tick off my PMS symptoms on the PMS Reality Chart I downloaded from i-Mom, and I tick off our grocery requirements on my printed out shopping list. The charts aren't exactly waterproof, so you do need to be a little careful when wiping the pen marks off, but, since I never hurl cups of coffee across the kitchen (even on my worst days, I'd rather drink it), I'm happy with that.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Just got invited to an Independence Day Hop!

Okay it's a day early, and I'm not even American...but this gives you a chance to link up your Independence posts! Share anything about self sufficiency, homesteading, healthy foods, gardening, pets and livestock, or your 4th of July crafts, decor, recipes, tips and hints for a safe and healthy holiday! There are no rules other than keep it family friendly and appropriate for all audiences!

So here we go! Enjoy the celebrations and best wishes from Great Britain!

Monday, 1 July 2013

Up on the Roof - What I Have Learned So Far

It's the first day of July and the sun has got his hat on, which is IDEAL, because our house ain't got no roof on. The scaffolding is up (thanks to a team of six who arrived on Friday morning - all of whom took two sugars in their coffees: we ran out of sugar...) and now the roofers are up and at it. Number of cups of tea so far: three each. 
The majority of our weekend, thanks to Prima's Brownie Trip to Scarborough and Great Aunty Maggie taking Secundus out for the day, was spent hauling around timber and shelling out loads of money for nails, roofing membrane, hand saws and other fun items. Since our neighbour was out, we tried to get as much noisy work done as possible. Knowing that we can burn the offcuts in our wood burner once the evenings get colder, is a bonus. 

Unsurprisingly, given the environmental implications, it is becoming more and more difficult/ expensive to get rid of plaster-board, broken bricks and other non-recyclables. We have noticed that the cost of a skip has increased substantially since we did the kitchen, and trailer loads of rubble are limited to two a month per household at our local tip. We are trying to re-use when possible, but haven't found much that can be upcycled, either due to the materials used or the soot damage. 

We have been so lucky to have family rallying round and looking after the children on several occasions, enabling us to work together in the loft or for the King to disappear up there with a lump hammer and me to get on with the washing, cleaning and cooking.

Things I Have Learned So Far

Kitchen roll, cut in half, is a reasonable substitute for toilet paper, when you run out, but it may make your children exclaim "Are we really poor now?"

Protective gloves are essential when carrying lengths of wood, bricks and so on, but somehow, your fingernails will still get stained with soot.

Cleaning the bath and basin is a losing battle.

Ditto kitchen and bathroom floor.

Forget about the carpets. There is only so much a dustsheet can do.

You can never have too many rubble sacks.

People really do take two sugars in hot beverages.

Wearing a red boiler suit to a timber yard, a builder's merchants, or on the school run, may attract attention from middle-aged men. e.g. "If you were wearing a hard hat as well, I couldn't stop myself." and "Do you sleep in them overalls?"

You will learn to think of put-downs for these kind of comments in advance of visiting any area frequented by men.

Cancel your gym membership.

From The Farm Blog Hop

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