Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Thrifty Pirate Party

For my sons birthday this year we decided to have a pirate theme. He is just slightly obssessed with pirates at the moment thanks to Jake and the Neverland Pirates!

 As always I hate spending money so I needed to come up with some money saving ideas, as parties can be pretty expensive events these days. Once you've paid for all of the food, decoration, party bags and cake it all adds up. To try and save some money I always aim to make as many of the decorations as I can, like for example the cups...

I brought a massive pack of Tesco value plain white cups which cost pennies. I then printed off the above image from the web (I cannot find the original source for this, if it's you please shout). I then cut it out and stuck it onto all of the cups. It was quite time consuming but worth it I think. As cups with pre-printed design on can cost you around £2.00 for a pack of 8 where as I only paid 55p for a pack of 25!

 I also stuck some on some old beer bottles that we had lying around ready for recycling, just to add some more decoration to the table.

Like my daughters Enchanted Forest Party that we had last year I made up name labels for all of the food. This is the fun bit...

I made the labels myself by printing off images from the web and sticking them all together. The little flags I brought online and I believe they cost me about £2 for a pack of 50!

I also wanting to get some healthy food in there somewhere...

 The party food doesn't have to be expensive, if you shop around you can find some great deals. I personally like to use a lot of the value range party foods that you can find in most supermarkets. Kids don't care in the slightest about how much the food cost. Here's the party boy enjoying his value party snowballs...

I started to worry about finding my son a pirate outfit for the day. Every pirate outfit I found online seemed to cost between £15 - £25 which is way more than I was prepared to spend on an outfit that he would only wear once! Until luck would have it I went into our local charity shop on my weekly recky and came across a pirate outfit and it was only £1...

For the table decorations I was able to use the paper plates that we had left over from my daughters party and make it work with the new theme, from toadstools to pirates. I also brought a few bags of gold coins in advance at Christmas in our local pound shop to scatter across the tables. The gold on the table were rocks from the garden that I spray painted with gold spray, again form the pound shop...

For the party bags I brought the red and white striped paper bags online at very low cost. I printed the name labels off on my computer and stuck them on. I then just used some string I had at home to tie them off. I thought they turned out pretty good...

So there you have it, a thrifty pirate party. I think everyone enjoyed themselves...

I'm linking up with Faith, Hope and Charity Shopping's linky Ta Dah Tuesday

Friday, 22 March 2013

Teach a Two Year Old to Read - Update

I thought I'd do an update on how we are getting on with our 'Children Learning Reading Programme'.

We are now 5 weeks into the programme and I feel it is going really well. My son (who's 4) is now able to recognise quite a few different letters and can now read quite a few words completely on his own. (Which I think for a 4 year old is pretty good). We probably would have been further along with the programme if I had stuck to it religiously every day, which I admit I haven't (life gets in the way).
You are suppose to do each lesson (which don't take more than 5 minutes) at least twice a day, where as we have only being doing it once a day at the moment. Even so I feel my son is really starting to get to grips with it now and has finally mastered the art of 'blending'. (You can find out more about this on the website).
My daughter who's 2 can also now recognise quite a few different letters and everywhere we go now all I hear is the two of them shouting out letters whenever they see them on signs.

We are all really enjoying spending time together learning the letters and new words and at this rate I reckon my son will be able to read by the time he goes to school in September!

I will keep you updated with our progress and I will try and post up some videos so you can see for yourselves, (that is if first I can work out how to record it and second how to put it on here!)

If you like some more information on this reading programme then check out their website...

Monday, 18 March 2013

Thrifty Finds Of The Week

This week I have found some great thrifty finds in charity shops and also at a local jumble sale.

First off I found these gorgeous picture frames at a charity shop in Exeter, £3 each...

I brought them with the intention of putting my own pictures of the kids in them but when I got them home I realised that it wasn't very easy to get the pictures out, so I have left them in. I think the original pictures are growing on me though.

I also found this retro pot to go in my kitchen for only £1.00...

After I had finished raiding the charity shops I headed off to the jumble sale where I got a load of great bargains...

 All the adult clothes were 50p each and the childrens clothes were only 20p! So I stocked up...

My favourite item by far was this lovely knit jumper...

I also love this vintage style top for my daughter...

 So what about you, found any great bargains this week?

I'm linking up with Magpie Monday over at Me & My Shadow

Me and My Shadow

Thursday, 14 March 2013

WIN a Gorgeous Drop Scarf

This week on my blog I will be running a fantastic competition to win this gorgeous Anna Nova design grey drop scarf which normally retails at £12.00 on my site Caro Boutique 

A Great Place To Buy Gorgeous But Affordable Gifts and Accessories

 To be in for a chance to win it simply fill in as many of the options below as you can, the more you fill in the better your chances of winning! Good luck everyone.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Competition only open to UK residents, sorry x


Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Enchanted Forest Party

For my daughters 2nd birthday we had an Enchanted Forest Party and I thought I'd share some of the pictures with you.

The best bit about creating this party was by far the food!

 I had great fun choosing names for all the different dishes...

Some of the names included fairy berries (raspberries), squirrel chips (dried bananas) ,birds nests (chocolate krispy cakes) and fairy wands (sticks with chopped fruit on).

I managed to get a good dose of healthy food in there too.

I made a wooden sign to go outside the hall instead of the normal balloons (see how I made this here)

For the decorations I went with a colour scheme of reds, whites, greens and browns. We put up our green gazebo in the hall and hung green crepe paper streamers from it...

 I also made some mini toadstools to scatter around the room and on the tables. (See how I made these here)

 For my daughters outfit I managed to find her a green fairy outfit in a charity shop which only cost me £3.00, bargain and I made her a flowery crown...

Following with the enchanted forest theme I didn't want to go with traditional party bags instead I made my own from old jam jars...

In all it was a great party and I think everyone enjoyed themselves although I'm not sure Lowenna really knew what was going on...

Linking up with Ta-dah Tuesday on Faith Hope and Charity Shopping

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

10 Tips for Surviving the School Holidays

1) PLAN, PLAN, PLAN - You don't have to follow your plan to the letter but even if you have a rough idea of what you might do each day helps!

2) ARRANGE MEET UPS - with fellow mummies, preferably somewhere that the kiddies can run wild for a bit while you have a good natter

3) EXCEPT MESS - Unless you are prepared to spend the next few weeks constantly picking up after them, just let them get on with it an have a good tidy up when they go back to school

4) PUT ON THE TV - Yes I said the T word, obviously I don't mean for the entire holidays but even just once a day for a limited amount of time gives you a break and makes them just sit and chill for a bit. We all need some R&R time and maybe throw in some popcorn to make it a bit more exciting. (I wouldn't advise popcorn everyday though)

5)  GO FOR WALKS - Of course this is weather permitting but it's a great way for the kids to burn some energy, get some fresh air and best of all it's FREE. Or perhaps try a treasure trail which makes the walk more interesting!

6) RESEARCH NEW CRAFT IDEAS - Get online and find some new ideas for things to create, bake or build. There are loads of good websites out there that have loads of fun ideas. Pinterest is one of my favourites.

7) STOCK UP ON CRAFT SUPPLIES - Prior to the holidays beginning make sure you have all of the resources that you may need, glue, scissors, toilet rolls, coloured card etc. Start collecting up a stock a few weeks before.

8)  GET A COLLECTION OF BOARD GAMES - Time to raid the charity shops and find some new games. You can pick up some great ones for a fraction of the price that the high street stores sell them at. This is always good as a back up for the horrible rainy days.

9) VISIT YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY - Go and find some new books to read. You could have a theme for the week, like the Tudors, and then find books on your chosen subject and see who can learn the most by the end of the week. Maybe create a quiz for the end of the week and see who wins. Libraries also stock DVD's which you can hire for very low cost too.
10) DON'T FEAR BOREDOM - It is okay for your children to get bored, this forces them to use their own imagination and create fun for themselves. No one expects you to be super mum for the entire length of the holidays. 

So what about you? What are your top tips for surviving the school holidays?

Thursday, 7 March 2013

50 Days and NO shampoo!

It has been exactly 50 days since I last washed my hair (with shampoo)! It has been a very interesting journey so far and I've had my good and bad days. The whole thing is a learning process and you have to find what works for your hair type and what definitely doesn't!   

Today I'd say is a bad day. I washed my hair last night with bicarbonate of soda and conditioned it with cyder vinegar and this is what it looked like this morning...

Please excuse the serious lack of make up and ghostly pale skin, I feel rather rough today!
To me my hair looks greasy but still frizzy and just generally looks grim. I have decided that there could be three possible reasons for this...

1) I feel ill and think I have a some kind of infection as I have lost my voice so perhaps this is having an effect on my hair?

2) I didn't use the right amount of bicarbonate of soda when I washed it. I was running low so perhaps I didn't use enough?

3) I haven't eaten very healthy food this week. I read somewhere that what you eat has a big effect on your hair. Too much greasy food this week I think!

 I feel I have kind of lost my way with this process and I'm currently not seeing a huge improvement or any particular benefits to it. Don't get me wrong I won't be going back to using shampoo, I just don't know if I'm doing the whole 'no poo' thing right! 

I'm currently washing my hair once a week with either my egg wash or bicarbonate of soda and I'm definitely preferring the egg wash (it feels softer afterwards). I have about three days where I can wear my hair down and then I have to tie it up for the remaining days because it looks oily. It's hard to brush the oils through my hair because it's curly and the minute you put a brush near it, it puffs up into a mass of frizziness! 

I'm not using any products at all at on it at the moment and I desperately want to dye it because the roots are looking hideous but I don't want to undo all of the hard work of not putting gunk on it! There must be an alternative, natural, solution for dying hair out there??

However I shall persevere with my 'no poo' adventure and hopefully I will see an improvement soon. 

I'd love to hear from anyone else that has under gone this process and if anyone has any suggestions as to what I may be doing wrong.

Check out my other posts on my 'no poo' adventure...

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Fighting a Losing Battle

One of the main problems with depression is that it never really goes away. No matter what the experts say, no matter how much CBT training or counselling you have, it is always there, somewhere in the background!

I refuse to take medication for it, probably not the best idea I've ever had but I just think it's un-natural to pump our bodies full of medication all the time. I also swear that the medication changes people, they become very detached from the world and un-naturally dosile.

Over the years I have tried many different methods for managing depression and none of them have really worked but I do now have a sort of system that seems to work quite well.

It is quite simply a weekly routine. Everyday we have at least one thing to go to or do. Like today, Tuesday, we go to one toddler group in the morning that starts at 10am, so I have to get up, get dressed and get out of the house. Now to anyone that has never suffered with depression this wouldn't seem like a big deal, but to someone that does suffer sometimes just managing to get out of bed in the morning is a massive achivement! 

Then this afternoon we have another group to go to. It helps to split the day up so you know that you don't have a whole day at home with two little ones that will inevitably get bored and start playing up. It helps me to know we have stuff to do and places to go, it helps to put me in the right frame of mind for the day.

So on days like today, when I feel tired, achey and just general rough it helps me to drag my behind out of bed and forces me to get on with it even though all I want to do is curl up in a ball in my bed and never get out again. 

What about you then, do you have a coping mechanism? Or are you one of the lucky ones that has never suffered with it? 

Monday, 4 March 2013

Personalised Reward Charts

Personalised Reward Charts

 Today we were sent a very cute, personalised, potty training reward chart for my daughter.

There are loads of different styles to chose from on the website such as dogs, pirates, ponies and football. You can also chose different themes such as potty training and brushing teeth. 
Pony BlankBrush Teeth Pink Photo Seaside Task with Days Photo Pirate Task
They are great value at only £3.00 each and come with stickers and a pen.
We went for the potty training one as we are about to go through this stage again! (Something I'm not looking forward to!)

As you can see from the picture my daughter was very impressed with hers and hopefully this might just make the process of potty training a little smoother.

 Wish us luck!

To check out all of the other designs and themes head over to 

This company is run by a Work At Home dad who runs a couple of small businesses making products aimed at children and their parents.

Check out his other sites below


Friday, 1 March 2013

The Joys Of Charity Shopping

I had a very weird day on Wednesday! It was my first morning all on my own in about 4 and a half years. My baby went to pre-school.

I didn't really know what to do with my self and I thought I'd just go home and catch up on 4 and a half years of housework, that just never gets done and then I thought I have devoted all that time to my children taking them to toddler groups, sign and rhyme classes or whatever the latest craze is at that time. So I'm going to spend the morning doing something that I want to do and something that I just can't do with two little ones in tow. Raid the charity shops!

I love charity shopping. I get a real buzz when I walk into a shop, not knowing what treasures you will find inside. I then I get an even bigger buzz when you find a real bargain. I hardly ever buy new anymore, I just find new products boring in comparison, they have no history and no story.

Sometimes you don't find anything in any of the shops and then you have days when every single shop you go into has something that you simple must have. This day was one of those days.

Here's a few bits I found that I was really pleased with...

 These two Moroccan lanterns were £3.99 for the pair!

 and these two, his and hers, crochet blankets were just £2 each.

The kids love them and it's really cute when they are all snuggled up on their chair together with their blankets.

So what about you are you a charity shopper or does the idea of buying second hand goods just not appeal to you?

Me and My Shadow