Tag Archives: Life

DIY Dishwasher Detergent & Rinse Aid

Since my homemade laundry detergent has been successful I have branched out into making my own dishwasher detergent and rinse aid. I have a little bit of shop bought powder left then I will run a trial of the homemade batch.

Watch this space for an update next week 🙂

The “Rinse Aid” is simply white vinegar with some lemon essential oil mixed in and the Dishwasher Detergent is a 50/50 mix of Bicarbonate of Soda and Borax Substitute.




Month of Organising – Getting Started


Organising is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up

A.A. Milne 

I have decided that February is the month in which I am going to have an organising blitz, my husband is already taking refuge! I do find life easier when I can find things and everything is “sorted”. A little effort now should free up my time giving me more time to play and do fun things with the little ones.



Since we had a dry day yesterday I took our son out on his scooter, there’s a cycle path close to the house and the railway line runs alongside it, he loves trains so its a winning combination!





How am I going to plan?

Time (and energy) can be in short supply so my idea is to spend anything from 15 minutes to an hour each day “sorting” something out. That way it’s not taking up too much of my day and I won’t dread doing it.

This weeks achievements

Our spare bedroom is a bit chaotic, it’s the dumping ground for all sorts of stuff and its the room that we put of doing anything about, I guess that we all have one of those places!  There’s no bed so it is mainly used for books, filing cabinets, the ironing pile, sewing machine and that kind of thing. I spent an hour on Wednesday filing paperwork and tidying the bookcases and it already looks better. I will try to spend another hour next Wednesday doing some more.









I have also been refilling my cleaning and laundry supplies this week. A couple of weeks ago I found some large labels for 29p a pack and have been using these to label the jars that I keep my supplies in. I had previously just written on the jars in pen but this was prone to rubbing off so I’m much happier with this now. As each jar needs refiled I will add a label.









We were given several calendars at Christmas, one is in the kitchen with all of the family info on it and I have used the other to make a note of the renewal dates for household and car insurance policies and contracts. If I was being super efficient I could add reminders to submit meter readings and other things…..hmmm maybe next week!







The final bit of organising I have done this week was I have made some “bread mixes”, I was making bread and weighed out most of the dry ingredients into tubs so the next time I make bread I only have to add yeast and wet/fresh ingredients.














I have a few ideas about what I would like to do next week, hopefully I can make some more progress. When I am busy at home I’m not shopping or spending 🙂

This weeks shopping 5th February 2014

Towards the end of last year we “found” a greengrocer fairly close to home, Im sure it was around September. Since then we have not bought any fruit or vegetables from the supermarkets. We also started using a fairly local butcher around the same time and again we haven’t bought any meat from the supermarkets since.

Yes it probably does cost a little more but there are so many benefits to shopping local. When we go into the shop they know our names, we can have a chat, the kids are encouraged to look at things and are made to feel really welcome. I can buy as much or as little as I like and the produce is always fresh.

Fruit & Veg Shopping






This weeks fruit and vegetables shop came to £14.00 which I think is great value. I got some extra veggies at the weekend and have some frozen veg so there are no potatoes, broccoli or cauliflower this week. A portion of the fruit will be used to make fruit purees for the littlest one.







All I needed from the butcher was cooked meat and some beef to make a casserole with at the weekend. Total cost £6.50







The remainder of the shopping came from Lidl and Asda and came to around £39.00. This is expensive for us but it included Baby Milk at £9.99 and as Asda had a baby event on I stocked up on some baby essentials which accounted for around £6.50. This will result in a lower spend over the next few weeks.








We did not need any toiletries or household items this week.

Total  Shop: £59.50

Weekly Budget is £90.00

Remaining: £30.50 (until Monday)

£2014 in 2014

I have decided to participate in the £2014 in 2014 challenge with afrgugalwife and other bloggers. Granted I am a month late in joining I have some catching up to do!


So the idea seems pretty simple, save or earn £2014 this year. When I actually sat down to break it down it seems a lot more than I first thought.

Here are my thoughts on how I might achieve this.

  • Savings from our weekly budget and other household costs
  • Round up monthly direct debits to nearest £1, this works out at £3.57 but we have agreed to make it £5
  • Round up our Visa Debit transactions to the nearest £1 each time
  • Try to use a cash back site for any online purchases and for car insurance etc
  • Earn extra cash by completing online surveys where possible
  • Reduce Gas and Electric consumption, any savings from our bills will go into the fund
  • Sell baby items that we no longer need, this will be a tough one and there may be tears
  • eBay / Car boot sale with unwanted household items
  • We finish buying baby milk at the end of February, this will give us a saving of £20 per month
  • Any donations we receive for eggs will go into the fund
  • “Spare” coins go into glass jars then usually end up at Coin Star, this total will be added

Change Jars

So thats my thoughts so far, of course I will update if I have any brainwaves. Anyone else participating in the challenge?

Heres the link to the update page on afrugalwife



I love finding things I forgot I had!

I found this blackboard in the loft and it’s great for writing down some of the jobs I need to get done. I was going to buy a white board but this saves us a few pounds


Meal Planning Monday (a little late) 20th Jan 2014

A little late in writing this but I did make a meal plan this week and am sticking to it fairly well:

Monday: Baked Potato

Tuesday: Breaded Fish & Chips

Wednesday: Pasta and Sauce

Thursday: Mince and Potatoes

Friday: Chicken and Cous Cous

Saturday: Home Made Pizza and potato wedges

Sunday: Pork Casserole

Im going to link up with At Home with Mrs Ms meal planning monday so that we can all share ideas. http://athomewithmrsm.blogspot.co.uk


Our 2014 Budget

A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” Dave Ramsey

We have sat down this morning and decided on our weekly / monthly budget for 2014. We have 2 adults and 2 young children (3 years and 10 months) so the budget allows us enough room to buy fresh local fruit, veg and meat in addition to our weekly milk delivery. We typically overspend on “other” meaning lunches out, treats etc so this year we are having a focused effort to rein it in.

Heres the breakdown:

Milk – £5 per week

Fruit & Veg – £10 per week

Meat and Fish – £20 per week – this is probably too high but we can adjust down after a few weeks

Other food and household – £30 to include snacks for children that can’t be made at home and baby milk until our daughter is 1

Eating out, soft play, treats – £20

Total Weekly Budget: £ 80 or £4160 per year

Of course we would love to live on less but we feel that this is an achievable budget for our family. The other food and household budget will reduce once our daughter turns one and we no longer have to buy baby milk. Im continuing to make my own laundry detergent and as many household cleaners as I can to reduce the amount of “nasties” we use but also to help our budget.  Our meal planning will also continue 🙂

Running a car, our 2013 summary and thoughts for 2014

Poorly children and a busy time over the holidays has meant little free time to blog. Ive been busy trying to sort out our budgets for 2014 and will do a few posts sharing my thoughts and results.

We have been a one car household for over 12 months and are beginning to notice the financial difference. Last year I set up a “Car Fund” into which I paid £85.00 per month to cover expenses. In addition to this I pay £15.00 per month onto my Post Office Budget Account to cover road tax.

For the first time this year my lovely husband has serviced the car himself and we have tried to be more thoughtful when using the car in order to get the most out of our journeys. Now that our son has started going to Nursery we can walk there in 15 minutes, up until October I had a 20 minute drive to playgroup 2/3 times each week. This has certainly reduced the fuel consumption and improved our fitness levels!


In 2013 here is our spend on the car (5 years old)

Miles: 8741

Breakdown Cover: £95

Parts for Service: £108

MOT and Pre-MOT Check: £70

Insurance: £ 220

Road Tax: £160

Petrol: £1400

Total Cost: £2053 / £171 per month


I have just renewed the breakdown cover with the AA, its cost £75.00, already a reduction from last year. Next up is the insurance which is up for renewal in February. We usually pay annually in order to get a good price. Now that we know how many miles we do I can provide accurate information at the quote stage. We are keeping the “car fund” standing order the same amount, there is a small surplus from last year which will carry over.

Does anyone else plan or save for car expenses in this way?

Winter Ready and Energy Saving

The year that our son was born (2010) saw some of the worst snow we’ve had here in a long time. Since then we have gradually started to make more preparations for winter and for the first time this year we are looking to reduce our energy consumption without being cold. Here are some of the things that we are doing.


Food – We’ve made sure that we have some extra items in the freezer such as bread, fish fingers etc so that if we can’t get out then we have enough food (but not too much!) should we be unable to get out to the shops. We have also bought some cartons of long life milk.

Outdoor – Theres an extra bag of chicken food in the shed, our supplier is at the top of a very long and bumpy road so when its icy it’s just not possible to get there. We also have a snow shovel and a supply of grit / salt so we can keep our path and the bit of road directly behind our drive clear.

Car – The kids each have a warm blanket in the car as well as extra hats and gloves. Theres a small snow shovel, ice scraper and de-icer as well as an extra blanket.


Windows and Doors

We have added extra insulation to as many of the windows and doors as possible, draught excluders are plentiful! I made a draught excluder a few weeks ago, its pretty basic but effective.

Draught Excluder

Windows have blinds up and the living rooms and bedrooms all have lined curtains too, we have made sure that the curtains don’t cover the radiators. We try to have the blinds open whenever possible during the day to  let natural lights and warmth in. We close the blinds as soon as it starts to get dark, this way we conserve as much heat as possible. I’ve also put a curtain up at my back door as it has a fair bit of glass and is draughty! We are in the process of putting foil behind the radiators, downstairs is done and upstairs will be done in the new year.

Kids Curtains

Curtain at back door

Heating and Hot Water

The heating thermostat sits at 18 degrees (16 if it’s not too chilly) 20 is usually the maximum, our downstairs is open plan so we lost a lot of heat upstairs as the stairs are in the living room. Our heating is on all the time but we control it by the thermostat, most of the radiators in the house have individual thermostats so each has been adjusted accordingly. Set to low in rooms not used much or that don’t need heated. Our children are aged 3 years and 8.5 months so we are not comfortable having the house much cooler. In addition we have bled all of the radiators.

The hot water is set to come on for a certain amount of time each day, this gives us enough water for a shower for each of the adults, any cleaning and a bath each evening for the children.


We are trying to only have 1 or 2 lights on where possible especially in the evening when the kids are in bed, keeping doors closed is something I’m trying to teach my other half! We are in the process of switching our lightbulbs to LEDs. So far we have changed the most used lights downstairs and I’m impressed at the brightness however it is costly and therefore slow process. Hopefully it will be worth it!

General Electricity

We use a lot of common sense like making sure chargers are switched off and unplugged when not in use, nothing plugged into extension cables that’s not being used and everything downstairs except the heating and fridge freezer is turned off at night. All of our appliances are A or A+ rated with the exception of the tumble dryer which is B rated.

We have also shopped around and got ourselves onto the best energy deal that we can. According to our energy provider we use less than the “standard amount and we run a very energy-efficient household” but I feel that we can do more.

We did invest in an energy monitor recently and it is proving to be an interesting and useful addition to the household. I plan to do a separate blog post about this later.

photo 2

I will only know if we have successfully reduced our energy consumption by comparing this years usage to last year so it feels like a long time to wait! Im interested to hear if anyone else has any suggestions?