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November 2012
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April 2013

10 Tips to Keep Warm this Winter

Brrrr, it's cold out there today. Having just returned from a wet, wild and very wintery school run, I've been thinking about ways to keep warm this winter without going over budget given the high price of home heating oil and electricity!

1.Layer, Layer, Layer - Whether it's just you that needs warmed up or the children are also feeling the bite of winter snapping at them, an easy and cheap way to keep warm is to wear layers of clothes. For you, that might mean wearing an extra vest (thermal vests are fabulous) or cardigan, or for some it might mean thermal leggings under their jeans or two pairs of winter socks! Layering your clothes helps trap more heat and lets less escape and if you do then find yourself overheating it's very easy to remove one or two layers to cool down again!

2.Keep moving and the more quickly the better. It might sound logical but you'd be surprised how many people sit at a desk all day long feeling cold and don't think to get more active! Moving in an energetic way helps get your heart beating stronger and faster and gets your circulation going.

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Living on a Prayer? Tips to Stretch Your Income Until Pay Day

I've just been reading an article in today's Daily Mail written by a freelance journalist named Liz Hoggard entitled, "I've become one of the new middle class poor: How one writer is keeping up the illusion of prosperity" and I must admit it makes for an interesting read.

In recent months, I've noticed through conversations I've had, quite a few people making cuts to their spending habits. This has been a sort of silent revolution as people don't tend to talk about it outwardly, rather it just happens to slip in the course of a chat. Lots of families it seems are curbing their spending habits and it's something I'm happy to state we're doing in our own family too. I must point out though that we've never been big spenders anyway, but it's actually an educating prospect realising you can't go spending money without thinking about whether or not you can afford to in the first place!

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Top 100 Baby Names 2012 - The Results

Woohoo, the results are in and the top 100 baby names of 2012 have just been published by Babycentre. Check out how many you have in your family!

In our own family we happened by chance to choose Sophia last year - although I don't really know why as it wasn't even on my own final list! In fact, I've always deliberately tried to avoid picking the top name for a particular year just in case half my child's class ended up with the same name, but looks like our Sophia might end up knowing quite a few other girls named Sophia as she grows up... Ah well, too late for us to do anything about it now. I guess we just have a habit of choosing popular and rather traditional names - our other children, Tara, Sarah and Jack usually end up somewhere on the lists too!

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Eat Well for Less - Saving Money on Food Bills

Since we're currently going through a pretty tough time financially in the UK, more and more people are trying to think of ways to reduce the cost of living. One area where it is often fairly easy to reduce costs is in the weekly food bill.

Now, like many people, years ago when I was a student I had a very limited supply of money and my diet was dire. It's still a family joke that I existed on dried supermarket noodles for four years and actually it's not that far from the truth! Noodle sandwiches, noodles on toast and noodles with beans were a common enough meal in those far away days!

Then, as a young working woman, my diet improved although at one point I confess it even became rather extravagant with my husband and I, then unmarried, eating out two or three times a week... and yes we both put on some weight then!

However, eventually we grew up and got some sense realising that eating out instead of cooking home meals was a ridiculous waste of money and not the healthiest of lifestyles and these days we have home-cooked meals every day and only eat out on special occasions or as a real treat.

I would never suggest going back to the frugal eating of student life, especially when you have a growing family, but there are lessons to be learnt from the budget constraints of those days.

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Minimising Heat Loss Whilst Warming Up the House in Winter

So winter has finally bitten here in the good old North of Ireland and I've been thinking about how to save on heating costs and reducing heat loss whilst keeping the house warm and cosy.

With four children, most of the heat we lose in our house tends to be down to the kids leaving doors open everytime they enter or leave a room. This is something that drives me totally insane as when I was growing up I remember my own mum always telling us to close the doors behind us and it's only now that I'm a mother I realise how frustrating the constant refrain becomes!

So, this week I've put one of the children in charge of door closing. Her job is to make sure others in the house close doors behind them and she has to do spot checks to ensure upstairs doors are also kept shut. It's working out well at the moment because it's a big responsibility and she'll be rewarded at the end of each week if she does her job well.

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Whatever you Do, Don't Click on the Google Ads!

I've been doing lots of research lately about ways to make money working from home and ways to make up the shortfall in our joint income due to recent government budget cuts.

Since the majority of my income comes from my Google advertising, both on this blog and on my main website, I've been trying to work out ways to increase the money I make without falling foul of Google's terms and services. Of course, nearly everyone knows that you should never ever click on your own Google ads. That's just wrong and it's also flying in the face of Google. However, I am constantly surprised by the number of people I meet who tell me with a big smile like they've just done me a huge favour that they visited one of my sites and clicked a few ads to help me increase my earnings! Arrrgghhh...

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Budget Blues? Top Tips for Living More Frugally

Many people living in the UK and Ireland (and elsewhere) have been feeling let down by recent government budgets and the consequent effects on individual's pockets. In effect, what the recent UK and Irish budgets mean is that many of us will have a lot less money to spend and, for some, that means trying desperately to make ends meet.

If you're suffering from the budget blues, then have a look at my top tips for living more frugally below and try implementing the suggestions into your everyday life. You might just be surprised by how big an effect each small change can have.

  • Go through at least two recent bank statements carefully. List all income in one column and and all direct debits in another. Total these up to see what, if anything, is left over. Next think carefully about any additional outgoings - things +such as car fuel, bus/train tickets, food bills, after-school lessons such as music, swimming etc, window cleaning, milk, newspaper and bread bills that may collected at the door. Take these extra bills away from your previous total. This is what you have left over to pay for absolutely everything else and this is what you need to work with to feed, clothe and buy extras for your family every month.
  • If you find that you are left with very little, simply not enough or worse still that you are into your overdraft, go through your direct debits and see if there is anything at all that you can do without or reduce. For example, you may be able to move your broadband, telephone or electricity bills to lower tarrifs or you might find that you have direct debits for things you no longer use such as online subscriptions or subscriptions to gyms etc that you had forgotten about. And talking about overdrafts, make sure yours has been authorised with your bank or you'll be paying exhorbitant charges on it. Many banks allow an overdraft facility of approximately half your monthly income.

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William and Kate's Baby Names List

So William and Kate are expecting their first baby and sooner or later they'll have to pick a name for the little boy or girl who'll eventually become the future monarch.

Not surprisingly, the bookies are already taking bets on the baby's name and many expect them to choose something traditional. In all likelihood this is exactly what will be the case and they'll not have the varied choice most of us have. It's likely they'll pick the name of a previous monarch but I wonder if William's mother Diana will get a mention. Wouldn't it be nice if William and Kate gave their baby, if it's a girl, his mother's name as a second or perhaps third name in remembrance of her life.

We'll have to wait and see...

Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, is Pregnant!

It's just been revealed today that Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant. Congratulations to her and her husband, William :) I feel really sorry for them though that they had to reveal the pregnancy before they were ready. One of the loveliest things about any pregnancy is keeping the little secret to yourself until you are ready to reveal all. However, the reason for the royal revelation  is that poor Kate is suffering from severe morning sickness, medically known as hyperemis gravidarium. Most women fortunately only suffer mild to moderate morning sickness, but for those who do suffer even from the milder forms, it's a plight with which many of us who have been pregnant can empathise.

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Peace at Last - Let the Home Baking Fun Commence!

This morning, after yet another bad night's sleep, I decided on the spur of the moment to make some scones and right now the house smells yummy. It's brought me right back to my childhood where I recall regularly returning home from school to the smell of apple tarts cooking and my mum standing in her apron, rolling pin in hand! Of course she always left a little dough behind for my sister and me so we could make jam pies but since there was only one rolling pin, one of us had to make do with a milk bottle!

My first port of call these days when looking for recipes is usually Google and most times I find great recipes. Today's was no exception with the good old BBC coming to my aid. If you'd like to try the recipe I used, here it is! I had to alter it ever so slightly as I had no sultanas and used raisins instead. Raisins are clearly inferior though as the mix is quite dry and juicy sultanas would have worked much better. However, aside from that minor niggle, this is a recipe for my keepers list and I'll definitely use it again... with sultanas next time!

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