single mum of 3 beautiful children....... I have new hopes, aspirations and dreams, 1st to get debt free, pay off my mortgage, get healthy, buy a new car (accomplished), do some much needed home improvements- phewwww - deep breath.. and spend more time with my children. In July 2011 I took redundancy due to restructuring at work, and from 31st August 2011 I was no longer a teacher.

I have used this opportunity to set up my own home based childcare business which will mean a very big pay cut, but at the same time will give me the opportunity to raise my own children, and home educate my youngest. So I am going to have to realise my dreams with a little inginuity and and a new frugal lifestyle, so this is my journey......

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Monday, 16 December 2013

Fabulous weekend with the Munckins

Before Christmas we get very little time together as the family of 4 that we are, as big bit and mini man visit their relatives before the big day. So this weekend I had pre planned for a fun weekend for us all to get in the mood for Christmas, and spend some time together.

In effect I spend no money from my budget this weekend (except for £12 in petrol) as I had pre-bought the tickets to go ice skating and also Gulliver's world Christmas experience. I got the tickets when they were advertised at reduced rates which saved me over 40% on the actual cost.I packed us a flask of Hot Chocolate and a snack for afterwards, so I did not have to part with any extra cash while out.

So on Saturday we went ice skating, something I have not done since being a teenager myself, it was fntastic, we went to Skate the Park in Heaton park (my favorite place to be). Mini man took to it like a duck to water, ad lil lady was fearless, and absolutely loved it, whereas big bit and myself were more cautious, using the barrier for comfort :)







It was great to just laugh, and fabulous to watch the Munchkins just have fun and enjoy themselves. Moments like that are priceless.
 

Sunday we headed to Gulliver's world in Warrington. I bought a ticket which gave us access to the theme park, a panto with Christmas meal, and a train ride to Santa's Grotto with a present at the end.  In fact the price was less  per child than heading for Manchester Arndale and visiting Santa there and paying for a picture which we usually do, and a greater experience too.

Sandwiches and a flask of tea packed for on the way home.

On the train to visit Santa




In the winter wonderland




Visiting Santa.
 Lil lady introduced us all, and asked for a small teddy and a Rabbit. Somehow I don't think we are getting a Rabbit.
A quick ride before the show.

playing nice
It was such a great way to start our Christmas celebrations, now I am mounting down, only 4 more sleeps until I finish work for my Christmas break and some much needed quality time with the Munchkins and family

More Christmas Prep - Vegetables.

A few years back my eyes were opened to the concept of preparing my Christmas vegetables in advance so as to free up time on Christmas eve, and Christmas day itself so I was less of a slave to the kitchen and could spend more quality time with the munchkins.

So each year now I prep as many vegetables in advance and freeze them. It not only saves me time, but money too as their is less waste as I only take out what I need when I need it, which usually mean i have lots of lovely veggies throughout the Christmas period, that then take me less time to cook so again I am not a slave to the kitchen. I now do this throughout the year too.

At the moment Aldi's weekly 6 of veggies for 69p which include, Maris piper potatoes, sprouts and parsnips, and carrots. So today I have prepped them to pop int he freezer for Christmas day. At the moment Lidl also has a 500g bag of parsnips and 1kg carrots for 39p, but I would have to drive so makes the saving not that great, and Aldi is a 5 minute walk from my home.

So today I have par boiled my Brussels and parsnips, and par roasted my roasted potatoes.


Once cooled the Brussels will go straight into a freezer bag. the parsnips and potatoes i will freeze on a tray, then put in a freer bag this way it stops them sticking together will go.

cooling ready to be frozen

To cook the Brussels will be cooked as any other frozen veggies. So why don't I buy frozen veggies instead some would say. To me it is the taste. I can season the veg anyway I want to before freezing, plus they taste 100 times better than shop bought frozen counterparts, and cost less too.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Thigh gap or lack there of ......

Well, firstly I want to say I don't find starving myself to attain a thigh gap appealing at all, you either naturally have one or you don't. I am one of those who don't, my naturally curvy figure, my half Nigerian heritage and the fact that my mother, being a Yorkshire lass, although small was every bit the epitome of a Northern voluptuous beauty (think Darling buds of May) and I have inherited those genes.

I would not have it any other way, even at my smallest weight at 8 stones, I have never had a thigh gap, always had hips thighs and a big rack, always wanted to wear a little dress without a bra, but alas that will never be. And that's OK. It is all OK with me, I LOVE my shape, just wish I was a healthier version of me and if the byproduct of being healthier means being smaller, then so be it.

Now the down sides of having thighs that meet, in the summer it gets hot quite literally and sore in between  the old thighs  minds out of gutters please) so I don't wear skirts etc that much as the less friction the better, and a by product of that friction is that Jeans, leggings, jeggings don't last too long, which means that I have to constantly buy new. Which is not very frugal, but something that I cannot avoid.

And I m ecstatic as I found some lovely Jeans in Tesco's sale for £4 a pair, reduced from £16, so I picked up a few pairs for myself and big bit. My jeans and jeggings that are frayed between the thighs wont go to waste, I hall wear them with longer jumpers and tops over, or use them for walks, and if needs be pop tights underneath the get more wear out of them, especially during the winter.

Monday, 9 December 2013

DVD Review - The Croods....

I was so excited to be chosen by the MumsNet review panel to receive a copy of the Croods DVD to review.



I decided that the Elves would bring the DVD for the children seeing that we are doing Elf on the Shelf on the lead up to Christmas, however i think this would be a great Christmas gift for any family, especially if you are trying to save a few pennies, as the DVD can be given to a family rather than just as individual as family members of all ages will love it.

The Blurb from the box-
“The Croods is a prehistoric comedy adventure that follows the world’s first family as they embark on a journey of a lifetime when the cave that has always shielded them from danger is destroyed. Traveling across a spectacular landscape, the Croods discover an incredible new world filled with fantastic creatures — and their outlook is changed forever.”

And a little taster  - I like this trailer as it does not give every thing away.




(You can also pop over to the official Croods Webpage with lots of free printables and games etc.)

But what the blurb and the trailer leaves out is that there is a laugh a minute throughout the film. The Munchkins loved it, it is full of humour, action, and real laugh out loud, and awww moments, there are no lulls in this film,
The line in the movie where the Dad (Grugg) shouts "release the baby" and it takes off, everyone shouted out "That's Lil Lady" ha ha. In fact reading some of my messages off  my facebook and some of my friends status's who have watched the film they have all said that at least one of the main characters reminds them of one of their immediate family members, which makes it a very relatable film.

And another thing that I loved was that the makers of the movie had a realistic image of the lead female character Epp, as I think it is important for young girls especially to see realistic images of the female form,  and not just "Hollywood" the image, especially as she was supposed to be a cave woman.  I loved the fact she was of a large frame, which was true to the character, and she was larger than the male character, and she was believable, strong, independent, and curious.

It's out on Blu-Ray and DVD from Monday 9th December, a great Christmas gift Idea for children and families.

getting busy .. home made gifts..

This year we made gingerbread houses for our immediate neighbours.



Seeing that big bit is a whizz with anything like this, I left it up to her to do, ok so I annoyingly superised :) . We used Kits I got from Ikea last January heavily reduced, that had a long date on them. The icing took a few minutes to make and all the edible decorations we already had in the house, alot of which was left over Halloween candy/sweets that were on clearance in the shops.

I estimated that these cost £1.75 each to make, plus a little time.

I don't usually give my neighbours gifts, but they have really helped me out this year doing odd jobs at cost or for nothing at all, so they are just a little thank you.



Saturday, 7 December 2013

Christmas

Is anyone else not feeling Christmas this year??

The spirit has left me, in fact it has not arrived, which is so unlike me, no matter how I am feeling or what is going on I am usually like and elf on candy crack, but this year, nothing, zilch, nada.





^^^  This is how I am feeling right now, a big smile plastered on my face and going through the motions,

I better not have grow up all of a sudden. I do believe in fairies I do, I do.........

At the moment I am making these...

using the parcel boxes from online shopping to make gift boxes using left over wrapping paper from last year.
And I am staring at a wardrobe full of presents that need wrapping.

I think we may have to have a Christmas movie marathon to day to try and get me in the mood for the festivities to come.

A Weighty Issue......

I want to scream, I really do when it comes to my weight. I struggle on day after day, week after week, knowing that I need to loose weight for my health, knowing that loosing the lbs will make my life easier as I will have less to hall around, and as I get older it will be better for my health, but even so I don't drop the weight.

This is not a pity part or a post of excuses but some simple facts that are causing me a hell of a alot of frustration. You may have noticed lately i have been pretty silent on my blog. I have taken a step back from everything and attempted to take stock of life, my life. That for me is hard as I am by nature (or nurture) a person who will avoid dealing with their own issues out of fear of what I may find, and I might not like it.

I use my weight as a shield of protection, it keeps me safe, especially from the opposite sex, after my failed relationships and being hurt on numerous occasions on so many levels, my weight has become the thing that protects my heart. The past year I have been working on me, getting to the crux of the whys and wherefores trying to make amends and tackle my weight issue and the emotional baggage head on, but at each turn and with every effort I am thwarted.

And my enemy is time, and support. I have none, so loosing the wight is an uphill struggle, my only consolation is that I am managing to keep my weight steady.

I read blogs, and articles giving advice, success stories and triumphs, but what strikes me is that I am not reflected in any of them. I am a single parent with no family support. I have no one to leave my children with on a regular basis to hit the gym, or go for a regular run. I have big bit, but she has her own life so can only call on her occasionally. No other half to pick up the slack with the kids. "wake up an hour earlier" they say. OK that would mean an average of 4 - 5 hours sleep, I can barely manage on the 5-6hours I get now.
I dot have the finances for a personal trainer, or the gym, or even to go swimming a few times a week (I am shocked at how much it is to swim at my local baths) and even if i did where would I find the time.

A lot of success stories I have read recently and those I find inspiring are people who are single with no kids,  part of a couple who have no children, or have a partner who can watch the children, so they have the luxury of being able to eek out a little time for themselves. I have no partner, and no family members who can help out, even though I have my brothers they are not in my life that way.

So yes I m finding this hard, very hard. I am not longer the 20 something I was who could drop weight like it was nothing, now my metabolism is shot and the older I get the harder it gets to drop the lbs.

I also do not want to be back to how I was  when mini man was a baby, using exercise as a way to control my life after my mothers death and the break up of my relationship, where I used exercise to numb the grief an pain and have order and control in my life. I want to be healthy.

Running works for me, it is free, physically and emotionally it works wonders, and I miss it, as time is enemy yet again.

So I am back to the drawing board, trying to figure out a way to fit my life into the very short days. I am going to have to become elfish to put myself and my children first so that I can fit everything in, OK it is not selfish ( I have to stop that) it is what I need to do.

So my plan of action - start over!

My plan is to start small, what I don,t know about physical activity, healthy eating and exercise is not worth knowing. I know any exercise is better than none at all, and that breaking a work out up during the day is just as beneficial as one long workout, and I know interval training works well too. So I am going to devise a plan of action that works for me, and my lifestyle. I have to find time around my busy days, I am tired of being afraid of who I am, hiding behind my role as mother and also my weight.

So now it is out of my head,  feel better, no need to reply, like I said this was not a pity party, just something I needed to articulate, and get out of my head.

It is not going to be easy, but I love a challenge :) ......................


Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Todays fabulous freebie...

I have no really had any freebies for a while, but today I managed to bag 4 free tickets for the munchkins and 2 of their friends to see Will I Am in concert here in Manchester.


It will be mini mans first concert, so he is very very excited.   (as you can see from the picture they just sent me)

If anyone is interested in getting their hands on free cinema and the occasional concert/theatre ticket then sign up to SeeFilmFirst. I was sent an invitation to opt into concerts after while. you can also get free cinema and concert tickets if you are a sky movies customer, through their rewards as well as:

http://www.showfilmfirst.com/

http://www.disneyscreenings.co.uk/noscreening

In my slow cooker today - One pot beef and rice.


I am cheating a little, as I like to be able to make meals that are adaptable. So this is a basic beef stew, and for the last 40 minutes to an hour I add a cup of rice, and then have a nice one pot meal.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Monday ramblings about me...

The weather is miserable today so we have mainly stayed indoors. In fact Lil lady and I were curled up most of the day on my bed reading books. This is unusual for me as I have not used my bedroom properly for years. It has turned into a dumping ground and a place I pass out in at night times and that is it.

Over the past month or so, I have started to reclaim the room as my sanctuary, specially as the children are older, I have my books to read, my knitting, a small TV if I need it, but mainly I read or write. It was strange at first, strange shutting my self off, and learning to relax, but I am enjoying just spending my time just being, living it slow and simply.

I lost myself a little, well a lot really during and after my relationship with Lil lady's "Dad", I retreated into myself and lost track of even the most simple of things, listening to music, reading books, going out dancing, looking after myself. In essence you could say I lost myself. The very core of me.

The last 5 years have been an uphill struggle, financially but even more so emotionally, and I am still not out of the woods. I still have a hell of a long way to go. Each day I get stronger, some days I retreat again, but I always make sure I push myself forward as soon as I can so I don't drift backwards into my own personal hell.

I am liking who I am becoming now, I will never get back who I used to be, life's trials have a way of fundamentally changing who we are, that is not necessarily a bad thing, I never want to go back to the old me, because even though life over the past 10 years rocked me to the core, and had me contemplating not wanting to live it any longer, all that pain and hurt helped me to look at life in a totally different perspective.

It gave me the strength to slow down, to put myself and my children first, to view life a little differently, to treasure the briefest of moments, and natures beauty, to value myself , and relish in my children. To be able to wake up and find Lil lady curl up next to me peacefully sleeping, or see her face light up in wonder or happiness, it takes my breath away. To watch Mini Man read, and then see this emerging personality that is rich in imagination and humour fills me with delight, and then Big Bit, pride...sheer pride, and then some days I can be getting on with my daily chores and as I glance up I an struck by just how beautiful she is, her whole being.

For many many years I have hidden behind my children, where it is safe, I have spent my life consumed by their needs, isn't that what a mother is supposed to do? Somewhat yes, but I have used being Mum to not have to focus on the bigger picture of me, and although I have known this, I have not been willing to acknowledge it fully, as it is scary.

Reclaiming my room feels good, but it is scary too. As the children are getting older and more independent I find myself with pockets of time. Time as always been my enemy, and I filled it with busying myself with the children so as not to think about me. This has always been my coping mechanism, and has served me well for years it got me through the death of my mother, and some awful events over the past 10 years, but now I don't have so much to do for them that consumes me all the time.

So I am starting small, as with anything, and learning all over again what I like, how to be in my own company and  who I am as an individual and not just Mum ............