This week’s Pieday Friday recipe was created quite by accident last weekend. I had an afternoon to myself and was feeling a little ‘meh’. Not down-in-the-dumps but definitely unmotivated. So what better way is there to cheer myself up than by baking a cake, eh? I dragged myself off the sofa and started to gather my ingredients together ready to bake. Having determined that I did already have everything I needed to bake a cake (for once!) I set to work finding my baking equipment. This was the first stumbling block; my cake tins were nowhere to be seen. I’ve probably not baked a cake for a good few months, and I must have tidied the pans away into my caravan to stop them from cluttering up my kitchen. But could I find them now that I wanted to use them? Nope. Instead I had to use one larger tin than usual and hope for the best. I figured that I could cut it in half and sandwich it back together rather than baking two 7 inch cakes like I usually do. You might already be able to tell from the photos that this plan didn’t really work as my larger tin produced a much flatter cake!I had lots of strawberries in the fridge thanks to a rather fruitful patch growing in the garden, which had all ripened at once in the hot sun. I’d also picked up a couple of punnets of cherries in the supermarket, now that they are in season and are on sale at bargain prices. When I say ‘a couple’ I mean four in a week. So after days and days of munching on fresh cherries, I was starting to think about other ways of eating them up that didn’t involve breakfast cereal. So I decided to use up all my lovely ripe strawberries and cherries in this cake.
With more sunny days than not in recent weeks, my thoughts have turned to summer holidays. While I’m not actually planning to jet off anywhere luxurious for a beach holiday, I DO want to inject a little holiday fun into my life. But how can I do it when I’m having a staycation, I hear you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. I’m giving my tiny bathroom a mini-makeover and in a few short hours it’ll be a bathroom fit for a holiday. Here’s how I did it without so much as a lick of paint..!
I don’t know about you, but I’m getting rather excited about my summer holiday starting soon. For many of us our summer break means some much-needed time off and a chance to recharge our batteries with a spot of sunshine. Today I’m sharing some of my top thrifty fashion picks for summer 2016, I’m showing you where to find an amazing voucher code that’ll get you £20 off your new holiday wardrobe AND I’m giving you the chance to win 1 of 3 spa experience vouchers to really kick-start your holiday in style! Read on to find out more and how to enter this fabulous giveaway…Whether you’re going to some luxurious far-flung destination or are enjoying a relaxing staycation here in the UK, it’s simply the chance to check-out and rest that makes summer holidays so appealing. And, of course, there’s no better time to treat yourself to a spot of holiday shopping too! Glancing through my wardrobe earlier this week I realised that, apart from a couple of floral t-shirts, I’m seriously lacking in any holiday attire. I have no flip flops, no beach cover-up and not one single pair of shorts. It was time to shop!
But, as you may have gathered, it’s rather unusual for me to go shopping for anything new. I’m a thrifty gal, and those money-saving habits die hard. I decided that shopping online for my holiday wardrobe was the way to go, as I could browse plenty of shops all at once and could do my favourite type of filtering: “order by lowest price”! I also knew that I wasn’t going to get sucked into paying all kinds of delivery costs, so my first stop (before I even began shopping for clothes!) was searching for money-saving vouchers and discount codes.
Finding time for yourself, to recharge and re-focus, is quite the challenge when you have a family in tow. As a parent it can feel selfish to ask for “time off”, but with recharged batteries the time you spend with your children will be much more enjoyable for all of you. There are plenty ways where you can find this “me” time, without doing any major schedule rearrangements.Say no
There is no shame in setting limits. You don’t have to attend every school trip or community event, it’s perfectly alright to say no if you feel you need a break. This also goes for your partner too. Don’t be afraid to decline offers and requests – even if it goes against other people’s expectations. Also, delegate household work to teach your children that they need to earn their pocket money (the fact of this giving you more feet-up-with-a-cup-of-tea time is just a happy accident).
Schedule time off
If you have a problem with finding time for yourself, get it down in black and white and schedule it in. This way everyone will know what to expect and that this time is for you – if something has to be planned, it should be outside of these hours. This can also help to bring a sense of order to an otherwise chaotic life.
When searching for a property, it’s important to consider the future. I’ve learnt this after viewing countless properties and each of them being just not quite right for us. Sure, plenty of the houses we’ve seen have been fine, more than fine, and would work perfectly well for us right now. But I don’t want this to be a ‘for now’ move, I want to find a home that I can grow into and stay in one place for the first time in years. After moving a whopping 11 times during our 15 years together, my husband and I want to stay put for once! We’d quite like to find a house that will work great for us right now, and still be a good investment in future years. So here’s what we’re considering when viewing properties – hope it helps:
You know where you’re working right now, but things can certainly change in the future. You may be offered a position abroad, and would want to rent out your home while you’re working away. So is it rentable? Could it be a holiday home for a period of time? And if your role changes, or you become self-employed, is there space for you to be able to have an office and work from home? We are certainly looking for a house with an office space for me!
If you can manage to get a slightly larger house than strictly necessary at this stage, it means you won’t need to move again in a hurry if your family grows in the future. It could be that you’re planning to have children in many, many years time but just having that option to fit in a growing family means that you won’t need to give up the home you love just to fit in the little ones. We’re looking at it from the point of view of having nieces and nephews to stay in the future, and living nearby to our family so that we can help out as they grow up. All of these factors should be considered as it may influence the type of house you buy and the location you choose.
Okay, I’m talking many, many years into the future now, but we may still be living in the house we buy when we retire. If so, that probably means we’ve been happy living in our home for all these years and wouldn’t want to move in the future. So how upsetting would it be to have to move out when mobility becomes as issue later in life? Sure you can install stairlifts for the home so that it’s still possible to go upstairs, but having the option to use a downstairs room as a bedroom can eliminate the need to move house when you’re less mobile in the future. So we’re keeping an eye out for houses with dining rooms or office spaces that could be a bedroom and, rather unusually, we think that a downstairs bathroom is a bonus!
What do you think is an important thing to consider when you’re buying a first home? Should you try to get everything you need in one house or do you think that moving again in the future is inevitable? Let me know your thoughts and house-buying tips by leaving me a comment below or tweeting me @Cassiefairy.
In the run up to the summer holidays is when I start to notice what needs doing around the house. I realise that spring has passed me by in a whirlwind of work, and with it the notion of ‘spring cleaning’ has wafted off into the distance. Those windows never did get cleaned and that grim grouting never did get replaced. I start thinking to myself since when did those skirting boards get so dusty?’ and I realise that a lifetime of work-sleep-and-play leads to not much success in the way of cleaning. I know life’s too short, but eventually it becomes time to clean. And today is the day. I sort of want to get the house in order before I take a break for summer. I don’t want to start my holiday with a long to-do list of cleaning task. In an ideal world, someone else would come in and blitz my house, so that I could begin my summer break in a holiday-cottage-style state of cleanliness. However, I’d probably be too embarrassed by the slightly mouldy fridge seal to let anyone else do the cleaning for me. So, onwards, with some spring/summer cleaning hacks.
As you may have spotted in my previous blog posts, I’m very keen to live a cruelty-free life. We’re not just talking animal-testing for make-up here, oh no. Cleaning products are under scrutiny here too, and I’ve found it super-easy to replace my old sprays and soaps with lovely new cruelty-free versions. And it hasn’t even been an expensive process. Thanks to budget brands such as Astonish, Morning Fresh and supermarkets like the Co-op and Waitrose, I’ve been able to find a CF replacement for pretty-much every cleaning product I use. But that’s not all…
I’ve also searched for some cleaning hacks to save me having to use products at all. What could be more animal-friendly than using lemon juice to clean your taps, eh? Unless a cat wanders across the sink at an inappropriate moment, it’s unlikely that my homemade lemon-and-salt cleaner will have been tested on an animal! You don’t need to waste lovely fresh lemons for the purpose of cleaning – stick them in your drink instead! For this hack, I simply used the cheapest bottle of lemon juice I could find in the supermarket and soaked my sponge.
A quick wipeover with a lemon-soaked sponge brings taps back to their sparkling best. If you have a crust of limescale on the taps, simply use an elastic band to attach the sponge to the tap and leave it for a few hours to gradually wear away the limescale. Any stubborn bits can be scrubbed with an old toothbrush soaked in more lemon juice. And speaking of toothbrushes…
You can easily clean grout by mixing baking soda with a splash of water to create a paste. Use an old toothbrush to scrub it into white grout to freshen it up. If there’s a stained patch on the grout, add lemon juice directly to it and allow it to sit for a while to ‘bleach’ it out. Of course, there’s an easier way to clean tiles and grout – with Astonish Grout and Tile Restorer. Don’t be alarmed when you use it for the first time – sometimes the grout turns bright pink when you spray it on! Again, an old toothbrush will sort this out and your tiles will come up sparkling.