Small Thoughts to Make You Smile

I felt the need to write a positive post today. I like to reflect upon the good things that have happened in each individual day in spite of what is going on around us and it feels particularly needed at the moment.

One of my daughters was off school today for exceptional closure and the other was in preschool, so I got to spend some quality time with my older daughter. We are rarely alone together and it was strangely calm without my little whirlwind there 🙂 We were glad to welcome her back at pick-up though.

I wore my most vivid outfit to counteract the darkness surrounding us 🙂 We took advantage of the beautiful weather and walked to my daughter’s school. It was eerily quiet with the primary schools closed, but the sky was an amazing shade of blue and it was nice to bypass all the usual traffic. I took some pictures of how peaceful and blue-skied the morning was.


I’ve decided to make greater effort to support local businesses. I tend to go through phases of doing so and then I return to a shop where I can buy everything in one place. So, we went to a local butchers and fruit shop. It was a good opportunity to use the cute fabric vegetable bags I got from a market a while ago 🙂 The fruit looks so much fresher and my daughter enjoyed selecting fruit and veg and putting them in our bags 🙂 I also got taking to a lady in a queue, which wouldn’t ordinarily happen when you’re rushing around a major supermarket. I’ve decided to just go with the flow and embrace a simpler way of life for now. Not everything about our fast-paced living is a positive thing and I think some time for meditation could do us a lot of good, mentally.


My daughter and I had a coffee date in Tim Hortons. (She requested it and I decided she’d more than earned it after the miles of the walking.)  She loves gingerbread men and I was amazed that she finished it and her entire cup of hot chocolate before I’d even finished my coffee 🙂 Of course, we had to sit on the highest stools there.


This evening, I’ve been writing and thinking of recipes and ideas I can share in the coming weeks. I brought out my old cure for sadness tonight – wine and Percy Pigs 🙂 I’ve been limiting the amount of time I spend reading the news and taking the  time to listen to dreamy music, light candles and fill my world at home with things to feed my soul.


10 More Ways to Save Money at Christmas

A continuation of my other post about cutting costs at Christmas time with the help of some creativity 🙂

1. Reuse Christmas decorations. Don’t feel the need to buy new items every year. If you want to update what you have, get a couple of unusual Christmas baubles or make your own wreath. You can do this without spending any money. Just go for a walk in a forest and collect natural materials.

2. Pick one event you want to go to and skip the rest. If you have one thing to look forward to it feels much more special than if you book every available event. It stops the kids getting overwrought anyway. Christmas is hectic enough without adding additional pressure.

3. Have Christmas movies and popcorn at home. Instead of going to the cinema, just recreate it at home. Give your kids pretend tickets, make a snacks counter where they can help themselves and turn out all the lights.

4. Have hot chocolate in the dark with just the Christmas lights on 🙂 If you have a fire, light it – as well as creating a Christmas atmosphere, it saves on heating costs 🙂

5. Bake your own shortbread, gingerbread men or Christmas cake. Give them as presents in little pastry bags. You can find these in the baking section in most discount shops.

6. Have an agreed budget for presents with your family and friends. Instead of buying gifts for friends, put some money into organising a day out for Christmas coffee and treats together instead.

7. Don’t be affected by other people’s choices. Just because your friend chose to spend hundreds on their children or paid for them to go to every magical event in the area doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent because you can’t. Kids appreciate the time you spend with them and it’s ok to say no.

8. Don’t buy every kind of everything. You don’t need to have a five course meal with every dessert option and nine types of party platter. Keep it simple and make what people will actually eat. Underestimate how much you need, because at Christmas time we are brainwashed into buying a feast for four hundred with every poster we pass. You don’t need everything that’s on offer. You don’t need every drink available in the shops. Take the stress off yourself and make less.

9. Save all your leftovers and use them in different ways so you don’t sicken yourself with Christmas food 🙂 Freeze whatever you won’t use right away. For example, use cranberry sauce in sandwiches, with cheese and crackers, with melted Brie. Fry leftover veg to make a stir fry, or blend them to make soup.

10. Keep cards and gift bags for kids’ crafts or to use for future projects. You could make your own cards for next year by cutting out the images and arranging them in different ways or add them to gift bags to make personalised ones. Reuse things you would typically throw away. There is so much unnecessary waste around Christmas time and I like to minimise it where I can.

Hope this post gives you a few ideas of ways to reduce spending around Christmas time and to use what you already have 🙂


Easy Kids’ Entertainment – Cloud Dough

I made this today for my daughter and it has kept her entertained longer than any toy she owns. It’s easy to make and there are ways to minimise the mess. I fill a baking tray with high sides to contain the dough and try to keep it at the kitchen table. You can make it more powdery if you like but I find this consistency good because it holds together like wet sand. But it is easier to wash off their hands than sand!


2 cups flour

1/2 cup olive oil


Combine the two ingredients in the tray your child is going to play in (fewer dishes :)) Combining it with your hands is the easiest way. It will still crumble apart but if you mould it it holds together.

I just give my kids some measuring cups, silicon bun cases and plastic cutlery and let them pretend to bake/ make sandcastles. My 5 year old likes this just as much as my 3 year old and I like it even more because of the peace it grants me 🙂



How to stop spending money

10 Ways To Stop Being Skint.

As I write this, I am somewhat ironically, drinking a £2.50 cup of coffee in a coffee shop. But in my defence, I very rarely have a kids’ free hour, so if babysitting is offered I’m going to enjoy a cup of coffee without interruptions that lead to it to it being microwaved multiple times. I am guilty of committing some of these money wastages and it is from experience that I speak. I have often taken into account the small amount that an individual item costs, but failed to see it as part of a shockingly large total.

  1. Takeaways. It’s ok to get the occasional takeaway but when it becomes a weekly habit it wastes more money than you would think. If you spend £20 a week on takeaway for your family, that equates to over £1000 a year just on food deliveries. Keep appetising alternatives in the freezer to avoid temptation.
  2. Buying bottled water. I don’t really understand why people drink bottled water in places where the water is perfectly safe to drink; perhaps it is just a flavour preference or the idea of the water being cleaner. If that’s the case, it would be cheaper to buy a water filter and bring your own water in a reusable bottle when you go out.
  3. Coffee shop coffee can be a nice treat, but if you make it into a regular habit it proves very expensive. If you buy three cups of coffee a week in the average coffee shop, you would spend about £350 a year just on coffee. You can easily make filter coffee at home and I find that one bag of own brand coffee (costing £4.25) lasts me about two weeks. I usually drink two cups a day, so that works out at 15p a cup, and to be honest, it’s just as good.
  4. Buying branded items for no reason. I can understand buying certain branded items, if they have a distinctive taste. For example, I can’t get my taste buds around unbranded versions of cola. But spending five times the amount on branded stock cubes doesn’t make sense to me; is there a better-tasting version of fake chicken water? The value ones are just fine. Don’t be put off by plain packaging: you can barely detect the difference in its contents.
  5. Unnecessary TV channels. I know a lot of people who spend large amounts of money each year on TV packages when they only use a small percentage of the channels. I don’t know anyone who has time to watch hundreds of channels. I’m a bit weird, but I barely watch TV and only spend £2.99 a month on Now TV for my kids. If you only watch recorded shows you don’t even need to TV license. They also have entertainment, movie and sport passes.
  6. Going overboard at Christmas and birthdays. It shocks me how many people put themselves into debt to keep up with present requests from friends, family, and especially from their kids. If your get kids too much they don’t appreciate what they do have and don’t have time to play with it all. I have noticed when my kids have more toys they are easily distracted and more unsettled. It is pointless trying to outdo other parents with expensive parties and presents: those won’t be the things your kids remember. Agree to a Christmas budget for each member of your family. For example, my family members don’t spend over £20 on any person and we are always happy with the presents we receive. The less you get the more you remember. Have you ever noticed how many unwanted presents end up in charity shops in January?
  7. Going to shops “just for a look.” I have learnt that window shopping always turns into shopping indoors, with a bank card leaving your purse and a bag exiting the shop alongside you. The items you end up buying are always unplanned and leave you feeling regretful afterwards too. I think it is better to think over any purchases you hadn’t planned to get to figure out if you really want them or if you just got over-excited by the fancy window displays. I am definitely speaking from experience on this one.
  8. Driving distances you could easily walk. If you try to refrain from doing this, at least if the weather is cooperative, you would be surprised how much of your petrol is wasted on ten minute round trips.
  9. Paying for expensive classes for your kids instead of looking for free events/cheap memberships. When my oldest was a baby, I paid for her to go to baby classes that were £10 a session. I think she got more out of mums and tots, which was £1 a time and involved a free snack for her, and for me. Sometimes I think parents get lured by advertising and comparing what they are doing to what other parents are doing. If you ask most kids about expensive classes they are attending, they would probably rather be spending their time with their family or playing with their friends in the garden. There are so many free and cheap community events that it is pointless putting a financial strain on yourself just to keep up with what everyone else is doing. On the other hand, I think it is worth paying a membership for somewhere you go to often, as it works out much cheaper than paying per time.
  10. Buying lots of pairs of cheap shoes instead of investing in a really good pair. My boots cost about £100, but I have had one pair of them for five years, and another pair for two years, with little sign of wear. Any time I buy a pair of shoes for a fraction of this price they fall apart in a number of weeks. Some things are worth investing in: like decent, sturdy footwear and toilet roll that doesn’t feel like printer paper on your delicate parts.