Real Nappy Week

imageDid you know that this week is Real Nappy week? Obviously my kids are way beyond nappies but I am still happy to promote the idea of real nappies.  I love the idea of clean white nappies drying in the breeze and of reducing the amount of nappy waste that ends up in landfill.

From a money saving viewpoint it seems like a no brainer. You make an initial investment and buy terry nappies and they will last for several children. When the kids are all potty trained they are useful cut up for wipes and cleaning cloths. However, you can spend quite a lot on fancy shaped and patterned nappies these days if your budget will run to it. They work just as well and aren’t full of the nasty chemicals that make up your average disposable either.

They are more work: you need to be organised and keep on top of the laundry and drying. If you insist on sticking them in the tumble dryer you need to factor the cost of running that too.

However, the biggest thing for me is the the environmental damage – the idea of millions of non biodegradable plastic nappy sacks full of gel and poop filled rubbish sitting in our land fill sites for literally hundreds of years is ludicrous.  Our great great grandchildren will have to sort an issue that we avoided thinking about.

So if your little darlings are still in nappies I urge you to find out more about real nappies:


A Walk in the Woods

imageWe managed to see the bluebells we had promised ourselves this weekend. It was worth the trip as they were really beautiful. We drove to a bit of ancient woodland that we go to often – it was one of the places we went to when we were first getting together and it is a special place. It made me wish I still had a dog – we would love to get one but the budget won’t stretch to it at the moment.

imageWe managed to get a few bits done in the garden but ran out of time. This is because we had a rare thing today – a lie in!!!! Fantastic. A ready for a busy Monday now.

Loaves and Laundry

imageI really needed a dry sunny day today, as I had so much laundry! However it was drizzly all day so instead I used DD3’s room as the drying room – luckily she is at university again and I have no student at the moment. I hung it everywhere I could and stuck the dehumidifier on for a bit to help it along.

I managed most off the cleaning, made two delicious banana and walnut loaves, got my hair cut and rang to try to sort the mortgage, or try to anyway. It is a work in progress!

imageMr Shoestring even persuaded me out for an early evening cycle ride to finish me off.

The banana loaf recipe is a Delia one and brilliant with over ripe bananas. You can find it here:



Jobs for the Weekend

Still trying to ignore the sore neck today as I have a busy weekend ahead. I don’t think I can actually fit it all in, but here’s what I need to do :

1. Food shop at Aldi

2. Give the house a thorough clean

3. Catch up on the laundry

4. Make banana bread – got black bananas I don’t want to waste

5. Submit my online meter readings

6. Research a new mortgage deal

7. Plant some more seeds

8. Give in and go to the hairdressers as I am currently looking a bit like Worzel Gummidge

9. Go see some bluebells before they are finished

10. Drink wine 🙂

Well, I need some recreational time! Ok, none of it is very exciting, apart from the wine and bluebells, but I have to stay on top of things. What are your plans?



A Pain in the Neck

I woke up on Monday unable to move my head. DD1 and Mr S had to drag me to a sitting position and fill me with painkillers so that I could start the day. 4 days on it is still giving me gyp, and I have come to the conclusion that I have a trapped nerve or something. I haven’t been to the GP – I am using hot and cold compresses and ibuprofen gel and I am hoping it goes before my next yoga class on Monday. I hope it isn’t going to become a regular problem – I have too much to do!

As I mentioned yesterday, I intend to redecorate the hall in a couple of weeks, so I need to be fit for that. Amanda asked for some ‘before’ pictures, so just to prove how truly hideous the room is here they are. Let’s hope I can show you the new improved version in the very near future …imageimage



Posted in DIY

Room with a View

This is the view from my window this morning – don’t you just love spring? It gives me lots of energy and ideas!


Although, it does also remind me of the more mundane jobs that need to be done – that patio needs weeding for a start!

However my next burst of effort is going on the house. Our hallway is in a terrible state, with peeling paper and paintwork, no skirting board in places and a tatty bright red painted floor! It is going to be huge amounts of work, which is why I have put it off for so long. I have booked a week off work in the first week of May and I am going to go for it. Mr S will be working but I am hoping he will help me with some bits. I asked for Wilkinsons vouchers for my birthday so will spend those on the work, and use up a lot of the paint in the shed.

Anybody else have any projects planned?

A Touch of Nostalgia

We took Mr Shoestring’s mum for a drive out in the bank holiday sunshine today. We decided to take her on a nostalgic trip back to the place in Benfleet where she lived when she was first married and where she had her three children. We went to the house and ended up chatting to the current owner, who was very nice and told us that all of the extensions and improvements that Mr S’s dad had made when he lived there before they moved 22 years ago were all still in place; even the rockery in the garden had survived.

I discovered where her waters had broken in the car park at the local shops, where Mr S learned to skateboard and where she wheeled her pram up the hill each day to get his older brother and sister from school.

It was really touching listening to their shared happy memories of times gone by.

imageWe also sat in the glorious sunshine eating sea food at Old Leigh for a while. It was pretty crowded, and full of scooters, including the splendid example above. Some vehicles just make you stop and smile, and this was one of them.

Happy days making more memories. I hope you had a lovely day and managed some sunshine where you are. Back to work and reality tomorrow! We should have more 4 day weekends!

A fine day out

I spend so much time cooped up inside an air conditioned office with no opening windows and a fine view over a car park, that I jump at every chance for a day out in the fresh air somewhere. Today it was sunny (ish) but cold, but that didn’t stop me and Mr Shoestring getting out and dragging the two eldest daughters for a walk to blow off the cobwebs.

Me Marks Hall

girls at marks hallWe decided to visit the Marks Hall Arboretum and Gardens in Coggeshall, which has a lovely walled garden and a woodland walk. The lady on the gate told us proudly that they had 80 of the endangered Wollemi pine trees in the Antipodean section, and this area was lovely, also featuring about 20 flowering pink magnolia trees.


Mother Goose and Family!

Mother Goose and Family!

me and mr SWe found a warm spot to eat our picnic and admire the views. It had an Easter trail for the little ones, which they appeared to be enjoying, although at 21 and 18, my two were a bit old! It wasn’t particularly cheap at £5 per adult, but I got mine free as I am an RHS member, so it isn’t too bad. I love places like this, so I don’t mind supporting them once in a while.

If you are in the area it is worth a visit:

Like brands, but cheaper!

So we heard yesterday that Tesco’s profits are down 6%, this apparently due to the success of the discount supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl. This doesn’t surprise me at all. I started using Aldi when it arrived in town about 3 years ago, and was amazed by how much money I saved – around £30 a week on average. It doesn’t sell absolutely everything I need, and I have to get cat food and one or two other items from Asda on my way home, but I find I actually plan my weekly menus around what Aldi are likely to have in stock. If they do the odd offer on something like dishwasher salt, which they don’t always sell, I will stock up on it.

I like the fact that the shops are small and there isn’t so much choice – I can get in and out with less stress than a Tesco mega store and without succumbing to buy their specials which are so tempting but bust the budget. However, my local Aldi is now so successful its car park isn’t big enough, so I go as soon as they open on a Saturday morning and I am in and out before a lot of people are out of bed.

I have found the quality of the food generally very good. You do have to check the freshness of the fruit and veg properly though. I buy a lot of plants for the garden as well!

I am a fan and it annoys me when I bump into people I know in there who feel the need to apologise and say they have just come in for the beer or chocolate and don’t usually shop there – I am not ashamed to shop in Aldi. I think it is brilliant. I tell them I am getting my whole week’s shop as well as my beer and chocolate 🙂

On the Up

imageI was just driving into work enjoying the sun and the fact there wasn’t much traffic because it is the school holidays here. Quite cheerful for a Tuesday morning, and better than I was feeling a few months ago.

My finances are usually pretty much on a knife edge, but they were getting worse. I lost child benefit, maintenance and tax credits when DD2 went off to university, then I found out I was getting a pay cut. I did have some moments when I was very low, but being generally positive I knew I had to find ways to bring in some extra income.

Now the plan appears to be coming together! Having two months of paying no council tax has helped – it is paid over 10 months and you get February and March ‘free’. My new yoga class is doing well now and I have had two language students. Tonight we have someone coming to check us out from an agency which places students on a longer term basis with host families. They stay up to a year and attend the local school. Having another teen in the house suits me better than getting an adult lodger, which was the original plan. I am hoping we will get someone from september.

So, times have been tough but things are definitely looking better. I will be able to make my mortgage payments and loosen the belt maybe one notch