Thursday, 12 April 2012

Reasons to be cheerful

I'd started to notice the hashtag #R2BC floating around twitter and I've finally found out it stands for Reasons To Be Cheerful.  What a great idea!  Each week people link together their posts thinking about reasons they are cheerful.  The good/happy/positive things going on in life that help us maintain a positive outlook on life.

I had decided yesterday I would give it a go and as it turns out I had a terrible night's sleep and so this is exactly the tonic I need for my tendency to be a little bit grumpy when feeling sleep deprived!

So, here goes

1.  It has taken me 18 months but having gone for a wee walk at the weekend I have found an amazing wee park next to my house, only a 3 minute walk away (just in a direction I don't often go) and it is just right for Naomi's age!

2.  An unexpected benefit of being a user of real nappies is that when you go to the park after it's been raining and need to dry the slide you can use a nappy, after all it is terribly absorbent!

3.  This wouldn't be up everyone's street but I love crafts and I love saving money so I am over the moon to have found a website that brings together these loves and I am very excited to start making some stuff!

Thanks for reading, hopefully I'll do this again!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012


Some conversation appeared on twitter today about how much we all spend on our food shopping.  Apparently I was declared the "winner" as I spend between £40 and £45 each week and for that I feed my husband, myself and my (incredibly hungry) toddler!!  It was suggested that I should blog about it and so here are some of my thoughts on frugal cooking!

First though some general thoughts about finances and money in general as it all has a part to play in keeping our food costs down.

My husband and I have reasonable money coming in, not great money but not terrible.  We have quite high outgoings for some things we would rather not, many of these are things that almost everyone has, so we need to pay back my husband's student loan, I recently worked out that at it's current rate we will be paying that back until hubby is approximately 45!  We are paying back a loan we had to take out when our previous car was stolen, we chose to take the loan over a shorter time but this means the payments each month are a little more.

Another obvious outgoing is on our rent, this is slightly complicated for us, we own a house that we rent out in Scotland and rent a home here in the Midlands where we live.  However, I would rather make cut backs in other areas of spending to improve the environment in which I live.

Another thing that we do is that we give away (to charity, to individuals we want to support financially and to our church) approximately a tenth of our total income.  It might seem backwards to give away money but generosity is important to our family and it is a Christian principle that we live by, we would rather have 90% that is blessed by God than 100% that wasn't.  We regularly look at how much and where we give to make sure we are making the best use of the money we pass to others and more to the point that we are allowing God to make the best use of the money we pass to others.

Oh, and save.  Save, save, save! It's how you'll stay out of debt when those rainy days come, and that is good!

Anyway, food! If I try and sum it all up here are my "techniques" for keeping (food) spending down.

1.  Budget!  We have a budget for almost everything!  We have a "dating" budget for spending on the odd take-away, going to the cinema or going to the pub or a cafe.  We have a "luxuries" budget for things like chocolate, fizzy pop, booze or such like.  We obviously have a food budget and we try and budget for things like fuel and holidays too.

2.  Shop around.  Don't assume that a place will be more expensive just because it has an expensive reputation.  Being gluten free limits the food I can eat but you might think I am bonkers for buying my sausages in Marks and Spencers, they are by far the cheapest (and nicest) gluten free sausages I've found, £3 for 16 sausages!  Another one that sometimes seems a bit backwards is that I buy my bananas in Sainsburys, I will only buy fair trade bananas and they are significantly cheaper there than in Tesco (I can't speak for asda, I don't have access to one!

3.  Think about how to make meat go further.  Makes sense, doesn't it?  Meat is expensive, so how can you use less?  When I make a bolognaise I add as much celery and carrot and onion as I can, it makes the meal as a whole go further and means that it's healthier as it has more veg in it!  I add tinned beans to many things too, butter beans or caneloni beans make almost any casserole better!  You can go even further and eat vegetarian a couple of times a week, 3 bean chilli is a firm favourite in this house and anything turned into a curry will go down a treat!

4.  Vegetables.  Another of the counter intuitive things I do is that I buy an organic vegbox each week.  The one I buy is from Riverford though I'm sure other veg box providers are good too.  The veg might be a little more expensive than supermarket stuff but it is definitely cheaper than supermarket organic and it just lasts longer and is better quality.  I can keep a veg box cabbage for a couple of weeks with no major issues (though it is nicer eaten fresher), a shop bought one would never last that long!  Nothing to do with money but I also like that because I am sent things I wouldn't necessarily choose to buy in the shops I am forced to look for new recipes, it helps reduce that stuck in a rut-ness that we can all suffer from in the kitchen!

5.  Supermarket own brand is your friend.  The value range is your better friend!  (Although remember to look for short term offers that change this!).  Now there are some things that I won't settle for less on, for example my hubby *only* eats Kelloggs cornflakes and I only eat Heinz baked beans but generally I buy the value range of almost everything.  Even if you don't want to do that it is worth thinking about why you buy the level of anything you do?  Most things can be bought at 4 levels - value, supermarket own brand, branded, supermarket "best" range.  Why not think about moving down one level?  One time when you go shopping you could try reducing everything you buy by one level.  If people complain then at least you got one shop cheaper, if they don't then keep going! It  is unlikely people will notice for everything.

6.  Cook.  Cook everything!  Make your own stock, use leftovers, do everything.  If you are busy working people and you have a freezer then make a weekend a month your cooking weekend and just stock the freezer to the brim!  If you make something and have a portion then think about how much it is, is it a lunch portion? Put it in the fridge for lunch over the next day or two.  Is it a dinner portion?  Put it in the freezer, it is one less meal to make later on!

I'm sorry this has turned into such a long post, each point I've made could be a blog post on its own, perhaps one day they will be!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Where do I fit in?

I love breastfeeding my little girl, here we are having a snack one day

However, Naomi is about to turn one, once she does I plan on reducing her booby-milk feeds by replacing the two day time ones we still have with cow's milk from her sippy cup.  We'll still be keeping the morning and night ones for a good bit longer, unless she decides she doesn't want them any more.

Following some advice from a friend I plan on doing this by offering her some cow's milk, once she is done/throws it on the floor she can have some booby-milk and in time I hope that she will drink more from the cup and less from my boobs!  She gets more and more distracted during booby feeds and so I am hoping she will enjoy the cup as it will allow her to look around, though I'm planning on still having her on my knee for settling down and cuddles, to keep those snuggles we currently have.

One issue that I am having is that I don't know how much milk she should be offered, I've never had to measure it coming out of my boobs ;-) but the main issue that I am having is I don't know where to go for support.

Health professionals don't know what to do with me because I have been breastfeeding exclusively (as opposed to giving formula) for a year, they stopped knowing what to do with me when I kept breastfeeding beyond about  6 weeks!  I also find though, that breastfeeding advocates don't know what to do with me because *I* want to choose (some of) the rate at which Naomi stops breastfeeding.  It doesn't make sense to me that I would let Naomi be completely in charge of this, I don't let her be in charge of other stuff (like how much she sleeps or whether she is allowed to eat (as she often does) rocks, so I am not sure why she should be allowed to be completely in charge of this.  I do want her to have a say, but I don't want her say to be the whole story.

I often find I am a bit scared of people who are very pro breastfeeding (despite being very pro breastfeeding myself) because I fear that if I tell them I want to give my child cow's milk at one, or that I might try and steer her away from booby feeds that they might tell me I am a terrible mother or barbaric in some way.  The thing is though, that I think these people, I sometimes call them the breastfeeding mafia, would think they are being supportive, encouraging me to breastfeed for as long as possible.  Unfortunately, though, it can come across as condemning rather than supporting.

This, then, leaves me in my dilemma, where can I go for support as a longer than the first few weeks but not as long as self weaning? Do you want to own up to being like me and join me for being a support network for each other?

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Could have been written about me

I came across this blog post yesterday, in all my blog reading I know it isn't all that common to blog a recommendation for a blog but I rate this post incredibly highly

Don't Carpe Diem

The thing is, I feel like it was written about me!  I love being a Mummy, not least of all because I feel, think and know that God made me to be a Mummy.  When I am being a Mummy I am doing what I am designed to do I find it freeing, liberating, exhilarating, inspiring and I love it.  I also find it tiring, in fact exhausting! Sometimes I feel like I don't get time where I am not being a Mummy and I start to crave "me time" and then I feel guilty.  I am very much in favour of having another baby, I hope it happens sooner rather than later but then I start to complain that even with one I can't get a load of washing done in a day!  I complain that changing a poo-filled nappy is a terrible job or that I want to be able to go to the cinema (spontaneously)!

One of the thing that really interests me about this article though, is that since sharing it, everyone who has read it has said "that could have been written about me", "I feel like that" or "I wish I'd known I wasn't the only one".

Why, as parents, do we insist upon putting on a show for the outside world and then beat ourselves up because everyone else is better than us (forgetting that we only get to see the show that is being put on for us!).

Why can't we be honest about how difficult discipline can be, how awful we feel for not being able to persuade our children to eat, how we let them watch hours of television all day and can't be bothered taking them to the park because it's raining!

The best thing we could all do, I think, is talk to each other.  Let's be support to each other!  The closest I have come is my support network of Mums on twitter but I often find in real life (or especially on facebook) life is edited to show only the good bits.

So, will you join me in some honesty for the sake of all us parenting types?

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Growing up

Naomi is nearly one! I am not sure I am okay with this!  I keep joking that if I let her turn one that it is only the first step in letting her turn 18 and I am definitely not okay with that!

As if she needs to rub in the fact she is growing up, she has just grown out of most her clothes and so I had to mover her into the next size up (thankfully she has some beautiful clothes now!) and last week she learned to walk.

Then she started dropping naps, now she's a big girl she doesn't need two naps a day!

Then she stopped asking for breastmilk so much.

Why do they think it is okay to set the pace, it is just too fast!

Messy Girl!

My entry to Appliances Online Messy Kids Cooking competition!  Naomi is a bit little for cooking but she helps as much as she can and always loves to eat the results!

Blogging Guilt

I love blogging, I find it terribly cathartic.  I have a problem though, if I don't blog for a few days I start to feel guilty, I start to think it would be better to let the blog die rather than to blog on it occasionally.  Recently though, I have been thinking about getting going again, and I think I will, but this time I am going to release myself from the blogging guilt.  I only blog for myself, I don't blog for others and so it doesn't matter how often I do it.

So, some blog posts to follow, the may be sporadic, but they'll be mine and that's why I do this!