art · Autumn · Blogger · Children · craft · family time · fun activities · Halloween · Money · Mum winning · Mums · Outdoor activities · Parenting · school holidays · Uncategorized · walking for fun

Half term activities that don’t cost the earth!

I love this time of year, the leaves are crunching under your feet, the mornings are starting to turn a little crisp and the the nights are drawing in making the days feel very autumnal. This time of year brings so many opportunities for activities with your little ones and with half term approaching what better time than now to start planning your days! Here are a few activities that will keep you and your little ones occupied over the Autumn break.

Plan a nature trail

  • Firstly plan a walk, this could be round a local park, nature reserve, farm or just round your local neighbourhood and can last for however long you want. Longer walks can be planned in with a snack stop in the middle!
  • Next take an A4 piece of plain paper and write out anything you can spot along the way. This could be anything from animals to farm gates, bat boxes to railway lines, or from conkers to post boxes! A little drawing next to the item helps your small person to identify the object even if they are too young to read the words.
  • Now set off with a pen and something to rest on and enjoy checking off everything on your list!

This can be varied by creating trails for different things such as writing out every letter of the alphabet and trying to spot an object for each letter or every colour of the rainbow!

Be imaginative and keep your little ones interested by helping them with clues when they get stuck and this can be an activity everyone will enjoy!

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Tiana and Poppy on our last nature trail adventure!

Set off on a leaf collecting mission!

Take a walk around your neighbourhood and collect up different leaves, they can be all different shapes and sizes but ideally they need to be whole. Once you get home there are lots of different activities to choose from, you could create a leaf animal by sticking your leaves on paper and adding heads, arms, legs, tails or wings!autumn-leaf-activity-for-kids-2-300x217

You could even create a story with your different leaf characters on a few sheets of paper! Let your imagination run wild and give your leaf characters names, draw them houses and think what their favourite food, colour or activity might be! Maybe create a short bio for each character stating their name, age and most embarrassing moment!

Make your own tree 

Take a large piece of plain paper and draw the trunk and branches of a tree. Now take your leaves and glue them on to the branches. You can use as many or as little leaves as you want as its your design, you could even add orange glitter to really make your tree design pop!

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Make a leaf butterfly

Take a piece of plain paper and arrange your leaves in the shape of a butterfly.

cb75a2a91d8fe87463f2aefe6cda76d8--autumn-activities-craft-activitiesTry to make your leaves symmetrical and fan them out into the shape of a butterfly’s wings. You can use stalks for antennae and once you have finished perfecting your 

design glue your butterfly into place!

 Collect conkers

Conkers are in plentiful supply at this time of year and used to be for one thing and one thing only, this being conker championships but nowadays there are so many more things you can do with them. The good old fashioned game of conkers can still be fun and is easy to do by simply drilling a hole through the middle of a conker and threading some string through you can try and beat your opponent but seeing whose conker is made of stronger stuff!

conker 1

Another way to use conkers is to decorate them and leave them around the house in jars or ramekins. You can use paint, glitter glue or stickers, go crazy and create some Halloween themed conkers painting them orange to look like little pumpkins or green for mini monsters!

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Pumpkin picking

Now this is one of our favourite activities to do as not only do you get to carve a pumpkin at the end of it you also spend time together as a family choosing the perfect pumpkin for your creations! We have local farm where we can go and pick but there are locations up and down the country where you are able to wander off into fields of pumpkins with a wheelbarrow and come back with your desired crop. Remember to keep in mind if you go for the biggest pumpkin you will need a design that will carry it off, the same applies for the smallest which means its best to choose a medium sized pumpkin unless you want to be carving for a very long time! Usually at these locations there are other activities going on during peak Pumpkin picking season, there might be a pop up cafe or a farm shop or a bird of prey display.

Its always good to support local businesses and although pumpkin picking usually works out more expensive than buying one from a supermarket it is much more of an activity that can take a good couple of hours up before you have even started work on your pumpkin carving!

20161023_141802Make pumpkin soup

This is one of my favourite things to do with the left over pumpkin after we have carved our Halloween lanterns. Its so simple and tastes delicious, a sure way to warm up after an Autumn walk. Here is the recipe I use and it always gets a great response!

Pumpkin soup in a white bowl, topped with croutons

Pumpkin soup

PREP: 20 MINS COOK: 25 MINS

SERVES 6

  • Can be frozen if using vegetable stock
  • Vegetarian

 Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • onions  finely chopped
  • 1kg pumpkin chopped into chunks
  • 700ml vegetable stock or chicken stock
  • 150ml double cream

For the croutons

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 slices wholemeal seeded bread, crusts removed
  • handful pumpkin seeds from a packet

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, then gently cook the onions for 5 mins, until soft but not coloured.
  2. Add the pumpkin to the pan, then carry on cooking for 8-10 mins, stirring occasionally until it starts to soften and turn golden.
  3. Pour the stock into the pan and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 mins until the pumpkin is very soft.
  4. Pour the double cream into the pan, bring back to the boil, then purée with a hand blender. For an extra-velvety consistency you can pour the soup through a fine sieve. The soup can now be frozen for up to 2 months.
  5. To make the croutons: cut the bread into small squares. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, then fry the bread until it starts to become crisp. Add a handful of pumpkin seeds to the pan, then cook for a few mins more until they are toasted. These can be made a day ahead and stored in an airtight container.

 

Reheat the soup if needed, taste for seasoning, then serve scattered with croutons and seeds and drizzled with more olive oil, if you want!

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Here is my pumpkin soup from last Autumn.

I hope you enjoy these half term activities and can make the most of spending time with your little one without braking the bank.

Half term fun on a budget=mum winning!

Thanks for reading

 

Lou x

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independence · Money · Uncategorized

Independence 

So when I think back I am pretty sure I was forced into being independent in my early teens. I had a part time job at a family business a few Sundays a month for very little money but it was my money so off I would go to earn my few pounds and home I would come again. This carried on with me taking myself to look for another job at 16, finding a job and then walking through town and back twice a day on weekends and to work said job. I was a 16 year old girl walking home at 11pm at night past pubs full of people, but I didn’t care because I had my job which gave me my freedom. 

After moving out at a young age I was forced even more to become independent and again found myself a job simply by knocking on doors and asking. This meant I could always pay my way, I was never reliant on anyone to clear my debts, put a roof over my head or otherwise. 

Since that age I’ve only had 1 period of being out of work for 3 months, not counting maternity leave, and up until that point I knew I was going to leave my job so I saved and prepared for it as much as I could. 

When I was left a single Mum I had no choice but to be independent, I got help but I managed that money and we never went without anything. I could budget and plan and enjoy doing nice things I knew I could afford. Life was easy to manage. 

Now life is different, I’m no longer a single Mum and have a loving husband who provides for me and T more than we could have ever dreamed of. We still plan and budget and save for the things we want but due to me being part time and having set things I pay for each month a lot of the spare income is Scott’s. This is not an issue, if there is something I need or would like us to do as a family Scott will cover it. If there is overtime available at work I will always offer and use this money to be able to pay for events like birthdays and Christmas, but I always feel like there is something to pay for, this month my overtime went towards a dentist bill,  and one day it would just be nice to be able to treat Scott without it being like a special occasion. I feel like I’ve lost that independence I’ve always had with money because I’m now a part time working Mum whose minimal income gets swallowed up by all the boring things.

I feel like this is something that doesn’t have an end in sight either as right now I can’t commit to more hours at work permanently due to childcare costs so I don’t see how I will be able to earn any more money for the foreseeable future, I’m maxing my overtime at the moment as it is. I’m planning to do a boot sale when the weather warms up just to clear some old things and raise a bit of cash. The one we did last year made us over £100 so it was well worth the early start. 

Don’t get me wrong I still have my independent streak, this weekend I painted the whole dining room on my own over 2 days. I love the feeling being independent gives you when you feel you have achieved something completely on your own without any help from anyone, I just wish I could feel that way financially more often.

How do you manage money between couples with everyone feeling equal? Are you a part time working Mum or a SAHM and how do you do it?

friends · making plans · Money · Parenting · self doubt · Uncategorized

Best laid plans

When I started this blog I knew it would be honest if nothing else, so here goes today has mostly been a pretty rubbish day! Waking up to another grey and wet dreary day instantly put a block on my plans to test out my new walking boots and find a new place in the countryside to walk as it was a morning just us two. Instead as the rain came down we decided to work out our money situation up until payday, this was not a great start to the day. As usual we spent out over our Christmas ensuring our friends and family got everything we wanted to buy them but as usual we left ourselves short for January. Every year is the same and January is always a struggle but today working out just how much we dont have until we get paid really brought me down. I think it was a culmination of a few things that added to how much it affected me, I had a couple of friends that for various reasons let me down at the last minute on plans this weekend and as a large part of it was spent on my own that meant it was quite lonely at times. When this happens and I dont have T at home I just miss her even more and I found myself sitting in her room yesterday just longing for her to be home. On the flip side I did manage to arrange a couple of last minute plans with friends which worked out really nicely, I guess its not always the best laid plans that work out the best. I’m struggling to see where I fit in and am having a lot of self doubt with friends lately so it was just nice to have a couple of impromtu meets with people who I could relax around entirely and just be myself. Another positive was Scott’s Christmas work do last night, again I was not feeling up for going out and especially being in a room of people I didnt know and who I’d never met, nervous braces talk again, but it was actually a really fun evening, and he works with a lot of very lovely people!

So back to today after we wrote our spreadsheet on just how much money we dont have we took the dog on a short walk and I worked on my 1000 piece jigsaw for over an hour until T came through the door! It seems feeling like I dont belong, the bad weather spoiling my plans and our lack of funds just put me in a really low mood and all I needed was my little girl to come home and be close to me. The minute she walked in the door my mood improved, I was kissing her face, holding her on my lap while asking all about her weekend then dressing her up for a family birthday tea this afternoon. I think I just needed to feel like I had a purpose. I felt like I had failed at managing our money, failed at arranging an activity for me and Scott to do because the weather was awful and failed at meeting up with friends as for whatever reasons they cancelled on me. I needed the one thing here that I know I havent failed at, being a Mummy.

 

Family · Money · Uncategorized

Financial security over emotional security?

As I’ve moved through my adult life it’s always amazed me how much value people place on having financial security, me included.
I’ve been at both ends of the spectrum, a single mum working part time receiving help from the government to pay my rent and bills and actually having more money than I needed every month. At this time in my life I was lonely,  but I had no worry about my rent or bills being paid by the money I had coming in. I had the ability to work part time while my daughter was at nursery, we ate well and were warm.

Fast forward to now I’m happily married and we have a house I could only dream of but the only thing we ever argue about is money. Don’t get me wrong we aren’t financially unstable but every month we have to budget every penny to be able to save for the big things like Christmas and birthday and if an unexpected expense comes up we can struggle. But I’m happier than I have ever been and I am are extremely lucky to have a large, healthy extended family.

So this got me thinking, I know so many people who a have different views on money, for some it’s a commodity to be used and abused and worried about one day in the distant future, others will not even go so far as to spend on a seaside treat or takeaway meal without it being a special occasion.

I’m a worrier, any uncertainty causes me to need massive reassurance and explanation on how we are going to resolve things, I plan and re plan on a regular basis and often get made fun of for how organised I am but that’s just me. So right now I am the most emotionally secure I have ever been and even though we have far less disposable income than when I was on my own I feel ready to deal with any financial challenge life throws at me because I know I wouldn’t have to deal with it alone.

So what is more important? Being emotionally secure or financially secure? Or can you have both? Or are both equally as important?