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Friday, 21 July 2017

This Week's Money Saving Tips

Topcashback! Yes, when I joined years ago I was convinced it was a gimmick, but years later I have pocketed £500 in Amazon, and High street vouchers, so I promise you it is not a gimmick.
Basically, you look for a retailer on their site, click through, make purchase, and hey presto the cashback will track within hours and be payable within weeks.
You can get cashback on Uswitch, insurance, groceries, shoes, clothes, lots of things really! This weekend they are offering. £2.50 bonus for a purchase of £10 or more after VAT. Check it out! https://www.topcashback.co.uk/ref/fruitbuns


Now, it is the school holidays, and often home educators take a break around now. I find there is a tendency in some to think that children need to be entertained perpetually to stop boredom, but it is important they have their own freedom, and chance to develop creativity. Here are some ideas for free, or close to free things to do:
1) Check out your local woods and country parks. These are often free.
2) Take up cycling, it will keep everyone fit!
3) Set up an obstacle course in the garden, or plan a route at the park.
4) Check out free areas and places to visit, also don't forget clubcard vouchers can pay for fee paying places.
5) We put up a badminton net in the garden when it isn't windy.
6) Before you visit anywhere check online for free, or discount tickets or events.

Oh, and almost forgot, walking! I love it, and like to discover new places. Check out the footpaths on an ordinance survey map. Who knows what you might discover, plus you can teach mapskills. Take a compass, too. (I should heed the last advice, as I have been known to get very lost!

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Home Educating Highschool

Some of us become daunted when we reach the highschool years with our childrenšŸ˜‰. (Ok, well, maybe all of us actually!) It can seem quite daunting, as qualifications seem to be the be all and end all, but let's be honest, schools have got a pretty bad record of students getting good grades at GCSE, so school is NOT a guarantee of getting good grades, even if you send them to the £12,000 a year school down the road. From what I have gleaned in my experience teaching in school and out; the parents are the key factor as to whether or not the child fails. There is no way a class teacher can devote the one to one attention that children sometimes need, and this is still important even in the high school years. Even my son in college is finding that the tutors can only help so much, the rest is up to him, and that is why it is so important that we instill in our children a love of learning, and teach them how to learn independently. This is an important discipline that most haven't encountered until they reach university, and then they feel they have been dropped in the deep end.


So, my aim is by age 11 the children are capable of learning independently, meaning that they can follow books, and courses of study themselves. I find this gives them the opportunity to see what subjects they enjoy, and therefore they tend to concentrate on those in the last years. One of my sons is doing Electronical Engineering,and by age 14 he had decided that was what he wanted to do. Home education gave him the freedom to tinker, and use different computer programmes, and gadgets learning more about electronics.
Two of the others were not so keen on academic study, so they are working in hospitality, as that is where they feel they have been led. They still have a keen interest in film making, and of course the other also in writing. I know if they had the chance to do a job where those elements were involved they would jump at it.

So, this year I have a 14, and 12 year old in the high school pre exam years, and our main focus is Key stage three English and Maths. Now I am very familiar with the exams I know what we are aiming for, as they at least want to take English and Maths. As for the three exam students, yes, I am marking mock papers which I don't enjoy, but boy is it worth it when they get the grades they aimed for! It makes it all worthwhile, and remember there is no pressure to take exams, unless they want to go to university.....and to be honest, even my engineering son has found a way around university. Unless you want to be a medical doctor, nurse or lawyer etc I can't see the point. I definitely believe a degree is not worth now what it was worth in the 1980's or 90's. It is ridiculous some of the subject areas you can get degrees in now.

Friday, 14 July 2017

My Money Saving Ideas this Week

This week the Clark's sale is good. I tend to buy Clark's as it is the only brand that withstands the miles my kids run, jump, and walk every week! I always top up in the sale, and with 60% off what's not to love?
Sales are good for anything really, and if with good planning a fortune can be saved.
My next tip may sound odd, but here's the deal; I buy at least one item every week for the children's stockings. That way it not only spreads the cost of Christmas, saves money, and saves the rush! I bought stuff from a closing down sale 75% off, and other sale stuff you won't see in winter. Poundland has different stock as well, so it ensures you have a large variety. Just don't put it away and forget, though! I did that one year. Now, I put away in shoe boxes, and put aside, as many of the items are small like notebooks, paints, pens etc

Saturday, 8 July 2017

This Week's Food shop Money saving ideas

If you shop online for groceries, and you haven't already, then do register with mysupermarket. If you have a smartphone and don't shop online it can still save money. Mysupermmarket allows you to compare all the supermarkets, and other shops as well. One of the best ways of saving money on this is to check out the top offers, as I find even I miss stuff when I don't do this.You can also see what the same basket would cost at another supermarket.

Next is to set up alerts for your favourite brands, then they will tell you at what shop they are on offer in. That way I never pay full price for my brands. For me this might be cereal, certain coffee, tea, and frozen fish Another thing they offer is cashback if you buy certain items. So far I have claimed moved £100!

It will also give you ideas to save money on certain products, now sometimes it is totally crazy, as it will suggest silly swaps, but often the swaps have been invaluable and I would have missed them.

Oh, and finally.....if you are like us and used to buy Dolmio,
Uncle Ben's and various other tomato based sauces you may find it a huge money save to buy pasatta and packets of chopped tomatoes instead. With the appropriate seasoning; basil for bolognaise,and chilli for chilli you can make the same dishes while saving a lot of money AND added sugar. You would be horrified to know that the sauces in jars of contain several teaspoons of sugar per jar. Now I always keep loads in stock meaning I can make lasagne, bolognaise, meatballs, curry, and chilli easily. The white sauce on lasagne is made using milk heated and adding cold milk and cornflour to thicken.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Saving Money on Weekly Food Shop

Just a couple of ideas this week. I love trying to look for bargains, and look for new ways to save money.
I sent my daughter to Lidl to buy two free range chickens and two chocolate cakes- the cakes I wanted for our Sunday dinner treat. The cost was around £12, if she had gone to the Tesco next door it would have come to at least £19. That is a whopping £7 saving, and the chickens do us for two meals. Stew on the second day, and it enables you to use almost going to waste veg.
Another big saver I have is potatoes. If we bought washed potatoes from the supermarket it would cost us a fortune, and in this weather they go off! We buy potatoes by the 25kg sack from a local farm, and they cost around £6 each. Usually you would only get three 2kg bags for that at supermarket. That is a saving of around £16! As we go through a sack a month that is a £4 a week saving! Combine that with the chicken and cakes and I have saved £11 Save that every week for a year, and you are getting on for a £560 saving. That could buy a new fridge, or washing machine.
Granted, you can't always get farm potatoes, but when my farmer is out of stock I get it from the greengrocer. Just cos you don't see them doesn't mean he doesn't sell them.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Large Family Feeding- Sticking to a budget

Long time since am posted on food budgets, and now food prices on the rise it is time to share again!
Here are some tips for feeding a family for less.
1) Always plan meals a week ahead. (Doesn't have to be 100% rigid.)
2) Don't go to the same supermarket every week.
3) Do have a realistic budget in mind of what you can afford.
4) Do use leftovers.
5) Do make use of coupons, and often shops online will send money off vouchers. I have sometimes got as much as £20 off.
6) Register for price alerts on My Supermarket, to get your favourites for half price.
7) Don't waste money on snack food, it isn't necessary, in fact in the seventies when I was growing up I never had snacks. Too expensive! If you were hungry you had toast, fruit, or a sandwich.
8) Look out for the three for £10 meats.


Firstly, I look at my meal plan, which is different every month. I try to plan no more than 4 red meat meals in a week, and then maybe one veggie meal. The rest is fish, or chicken.
Two free range chickens from Aldi cost under £12 and feed our family of 12 for two days. The second day I make a stew, and that uses vegetables that might otherwise go off.
A couple of packets of pasatta will do for lasagne, bolognaise, chilli, etc, and cost fraction of the price. For the white sauce just heat some milk, and in jug mix cornflour and milk- add when heated, and you have white sauce.
A pressure cooker will cook casserole meat, so you can have tender in 30 minutes for curry, or whatever.

Keep stuff simple. I find sophisticated costs much more. You can make mash in different forms eg for diabetics with sweet potato, for more interest add cheese, or just add carrot, and swede. Brown rice is versatile and you only need around 40g dried per person. Don't make mistake of making too much rice, as it is dangerous to reheat for leftovers!

With breakfast cereals, I buy the cheapest packet porridge, and put in tub. I buy the 3 for £3 mixes, and the shop generic weetabix. You can save big by not buying brands! I only buy brands when half price.

Bread is the basics range, or middle range. Morrisons do wholemeal for 48p a loaf, and it is good.Tesco, and Sainsbury for around 60p.

We only drink tea, green tea, coffee and water. Ready done drinks are empty calories. No fruit juices, as they are not healthy.

Cheese and dairy is the basics range, and the Asda cheddar mature cheese is really good.

Waitrose toilet rolls are superb. I buy the Essential Waitrose and get 20% off with My Waitrose offers.

We don't buy snack food. We do buy biscuits, and these are the non branded as a rule. If the children are hungry they have toast, or a sandwich. This might contain cheese, paste, jam, or fish. Crisps are once a week, and never branded. Aldi does good multipack crisps.

Dessert might be a slice of Vienetta (bought on offer) a donut, a cookie, piece of cake, greek yoghurt, chocolate bar. Rarely branded. Morrisons do a great generic version of Mars bars. They call them Apollo. Also cheaper to bake your own. We make home made birthday cake, pancakes, scones etc.

The market is sometimes the best place for fruit and veg. It really depends on the time of year. Look out for Barnes Stores as they sell outdated brands for a quarter of the price.

If you shop at Morrisons or Ocado online you get 'flash sales', and it is worth signing in daily when you have an order to see what changes! I have got half price organic fruit and veg boxes, steaks, chicken, and loads of other good stuff, and unlike the supermarket the date is still good.

Above all, the most important thing when planning food, and buying is that you are getting plenty of protein in, you don't need massive carb quantities. A wholemeal pack of spaghetti serves all 12 of us. Try adding lentils, quinoa, beans etc for extra protein. Best fast food ever- free range eggs!
I make my own wedges with potatoes, which I buy from the farm by the sack. (last long and a fraction of washed potato price) Just stir in rapeseed oil and bake in oven. I do a sweet potato one for the diabetic.

Frozen food is cheaper than fresh, and doesn't go off. Meat can be cheaper, too.

Toiletries are all paraben free, eco, and SLS free. I wait for offers and stock up. I recently got Method washing liquid at Tesco for £4 and that does 39 washes. Don't need conditioner with that as it smells too good!
Faith in nature shampoo. I wait for offers, and recently got half price at the Ocado half price sale. (An immense benefit of having an Ocado delivery pass! My only splurge. )
Also, if you get groceries online most will have a £1 slot, and Sainsbury delivers for free if you spend over £100 after 2:pm Monday to Thursday.


Finally, if you are wanting, or needing to trim your weekly spend watch for unnecessary items. You would be surprised! Also, what do you waste? We have a zero waste policy here. Remember a best before date can be ignored.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

My Election Ditty inspired by Dr Seuss

I do not trust this Corbyn bloke,
I think his party quite a joke.
Some things sound rather good,
but do you really think he could?

He promises blings, dings, and things,
I wonder even that we'll have wings.
Golden taps, and all of that...
but, oh really, it's a trap.

He has a friend, she cannot add,
which frankly I find rather sad,
and if you last year voted Brexit,
trust me he most surely will not exit.


Friday, 5 May 2017

Diabetes and Smart Eating

A couple of weeks ago my husband was hospitalised with DKA, which is where the body develops ketones in the blood from undiagnosed diabetes.It is type 2 and unusual to have such symptoms, but it seems it was complicated and accelerated by pneumonia. Scary time, as he could have actually died. I guess the key signs were craving sweet drinks, foods. He had turned into a sugar gremlin. Then, when he started to feel unwell, sleeping all the time, then violent vomiting I just rang 999; Apparently, saving his life.
A few weeks on, and his sugars are almost back to normal.He has lost two stone in a month. I have learned a lot of things already, and will share them here.
DIABETIC FOODS CAN HELP
I have discovered Gullon Spanish biscuits, sugar free from Poundland. The wafer ones are delicious, and I can eat them.
Oppo Icecream bought at Ocado. This is sweetened with Stevia, and apparently yum.
Blackcurrant no added sugar jam-Tesco. Stabilised with sorbitol.
Chocolate sweetened with stevia- available everywhere.
Just be aware too much can send you to the toilet!!
SMART CARBS IS NECESSARY
We had little advice and of course the food the hospital as giving:orange juice, jam puddings??????
I would say these are our go to foods:
Sweet potatoes, mash made with swede and cauliflower added.
Low carb bread (half veggy flour), brown sour dough, wholegrain.
Brown basmati rice, quinoa, porridge.
What we have done is reduced the carbs at dinner, and also swapped for smarter alternatives as mentioned.Snacks are limited to really low, or no sugar foods, or maybe toast, or nuts.
The thing is, we do not need all those carbs in the diet, and we found cutting out sugar not enough, as the refined carbs convert quickly to sugar. Key here is low carb diet. I haven't quite worked out eating out, but dried chips are a no, unless just a few, and no battered fish!
I am still on a learning curve, and will share recipes soon. A really nice drink is hot chocolate made with almond unsweetened milk, and cocoa powder, sweetened with xylitol.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Feed Twelve for Under a Fiver (budget meal of the week)

Looking for budget meals? I think these meatballs from Waitrose offer exceptional value this week.

They are normally £3.40 a pack, but with the five for £7 offer, it works out only £1.40 each.

To feed Twelve, you will need two packs, or more, a large bottle of essential Waitrose pasatta(88p) onions, garlic, and some basil.
I fry them first until browned, then put in pot with the pasatta, onions, and spices and cook for fifteen minutes or so.
I served with wholemeal spaghetti. This is cheapest at the moment and Asda, or Morrison's.(2 for £1)
The meatballs are also available at Ocado.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Easy Quick Meal Ideas

Hadn't realised it has been so long since posting! However, been really ill with flu, and cooking has not been on my mind, surviving has! Having said that, it is important to eat as well as you can, that is why I am sad that some families just don't seem to have time to cook, so they find it easier to go to McDonald's, or pizza hut and eat there instead. I think they just think that meals are too time consuming and complicated! I am going to list a few of my quick, less fuss meal ideas here, these are easy, and take 20 minutes to cook, and just little preparation.
Stir Fry
This is so versatile, all you need is some beef strips, bean sprouts, a pack of mixed Chinese veg, a stir fry sauce, and some noodles. I use the whole-wheat noodles nests.
The beef fries in ten minutes, and then while you are doing that heat the noodles in boiling water, until it is used up.Stir fry the veg for five minutes or so, add the stir fry sauce to meat when browned,and hey presto!

Spaghetti Bolognaise-serves 4-6
Just heat a 500g pack of mince, add garlic, basil, and bit of pepper and fry with onions, and peppers (frozen) Add a jar of pasatta, and heat for 20 minutes. Spaghetti cooks in about ten!

Chilli
Again, heat up 500g mince with onions, peppers and add a can of kidney beans. Add garlic, and a packet of chilli spice. Also a jar of pasatta. Cook for. 20 minutes. Rice cooks in 20 just use 50 g per person.

Some other ideas just for quick throw in the oven meals: quiche, rice and salad,
Fish in batter and chips,
Pizza, beans, and chips.

Using a slow cooker is a great idea if you haven't got time in evening, as all the ingredients can just be thrown in and heated all day. Much easier if you know you are going to be out/ busy, or just have people coming home at different times like we do!

Saturday, 7 January 2017

A New Year: Our Most Important Priority

I was recently reading, and came across something thought provoking; the general gist was this; if we don't commit ourselves to God through Bible study, prayer, doing God's will etc, then we will not reflect God, we will reflect whatever else it is we have committed to in this life, and it will be worthless, and damaging! As Christians our goal is to be perfect as He is perfect Col1:28- to be conformed to the image of Christ.

This definitely rings true, and now is a good time as any to put priority on Bible reading, as it is the start of the year, and there are many Bible in a Year plans available. I am doing one where you read from a different portion each day; The Law, Prophets, History, Gospels, etc. Last year I did the Chronological plan which was quite interesting and insightful, seeing where everything fitted in historically. If you don't feel you have the time to read that much in a day, then there are 2 year Bible plans.

It really is important to read the 'whole counsel' of God, not just bits of it; it is really tempting to just pick and choose from portions. I have found reading the whole Bible to be a blessing, and yes, even Leviticus! Amazing what you can glean from EVEN Leviticus.

I am using the Reformation Study Bible from Ligonier this year, to aid me in my study, as they brought out a NKJV last year, (yay!) Though I would have preferred the KJV. I have a lovely journalling Bible which I put all my Bible notes, and notes from sermons, and Bible studies I listen to. There is such a wealth of material out there to help, not to mention Matthew Henry's commentary on the whole, which is available free online, or at a very small price on Kindle. I love Warren Wiersbe's commentaries, too, and sometimes you can get these free, or discounted on Kindle.


I have found it is better to do my reading at, or after breakfast, as later on and my day just gets too busy. If you want a Bible that is great for devotional, reading to the kids etc, then I would recommend the Reformation Heritage Study Bible (Joel Beeke)