Friday, 28 June 2013

Green fingers

A busy weekend approaches as we try and find our courtyard garden under all of the bindweed growing there after being abandoned for 5 weeks eek! And in planting out our money saving tip for this blog.
Yes we've been growing veg.
A seed swap with friends has made this an extremely cheap venture and also stops seeds from going stale between seasons as there aren't any left. Although a great tip from a friend on that one is to store your seeds in an airtight container in the fridge as that keeps them in hibernation.
I used old papers to make seedling pots which can easily be planted straight out as they are biodegradable,  and old yoghurt pots to make labels. Old tins make interesting and funky plant pots and our waterbutt and compost bin have really come in to their own.
We left our planting late this year to let our seedlings grow while we spent the month with family, but there is still time to get growing.
So if you fancy some green fingers why not try growing some 'cut and come again' salad? Only harvest the leaves of the plant and it will continue to grow, keeping you in salad for several weeks, and you stagger your planting you will have a constant supply.
So what are you waiting for?  Happy planting x

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Assurance from insurance

Hi Folks
The Hedges have had an IT disaster with both phones and laptops dying.However we have now recovered with a wonderful month spent at the grandparents.
If you have been pondering the merits of insurance this is an example of how it can work in your favour.
We have an upgraded bank account for which we pay a monthly fee - sounds superfluous,  but we have made our money back on this each year.
The key thing is to read the small print and think hard about what you really need it to do.
Also, make sure you are not already paying for any of the perks elsewhere.
So far I've had 2 phone disasters and a household boiler disaster. The boiler cover was part of an emergency call out service which meant that we had someone out fixing our boiler 11:30 pm on a chilly December night when lo was only 6 weeks old. Invaluable.
The phone disasters (one involving a toilet eek) meant collection, fixing and or replacing, and returning the phone. 
This coupled with the security of breakdown assistance (and many other features) has made the insurance provided by our extended bank account completely worth it.

But at the end of the day it's going to be different for everyone and it's only by reading that dratted small print that you will be able to guage it's worthiness to you.
Check out www.moneysavingexpert.co.uk for unbiased information on accounts and insurance suppliers and good luck.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Spring Cleaning

Hi folks it's been a while but we have good news. There is another Hedge in the oven so I'm afraid the blog took a back seat as I spent most of the first trimester with what is rather inappropriately named morning sickness. Good news is that seems to be over now so you can look out for regular postings again.
With another on the way there is even more pressure on our one income, but we've managed this far and intend to keep going. I would however like to take this opportunity to thank friends and family for their support.

Anyway, that's the Oscar speech over so let's get down to business - the business of spring cleaning that is.
Have you got the bug yet? I have to admit my motivation has been somewhat delayed this year, you see for me celebrating springs arrival requires the arrival of spring. However, as the last few days have been glorious I am feeling more awake so the time seems right to get started (or maybe that's just the baby hormones kicking in).

Here is a recipe for an all-purpose cleaning spray that is incredibly cheap once you do the initial stock up of ingredients, and natural, so perfect for those with little ones (or ones on the way). I have an old spray bottle that I keep this in. Please do remember to label your bottles and keep them out or reach of little hands - natural does not mean safe for consumption.

All-purpose cleaner

2tbsp white vinegar
2tsp laundry borax
2 teacups water
3 drops lavender oil
3 drops tea tree oil

I have been leaving out the tea tree recently as I am not sure about it's contraindications with pregnancy, but the lavender oil and borax are both anti-fungal and anti-bacterial so it should work fine without it. I also think it smells better.

The person who gave me this recipe also gave me the following great tip too:
If you lose a small item and need to find it, stick an old pair of tights over the nozzle of your hoover and have a good 'sook'. The item will be caught by the vacuum, but not lost as it will stick to the tights. Genius.

And last but not least here's a link to a great site with great ideas for upcycling and mending https://brightnest.com/posts/the-best-microwave-cleaning-trick-ever
This link explains how to clean your microwave easily and naturally by 'cooking' for 3-5 min a mug of water and lemons (or lemon juice). The steam generated softens any food 'explosions', allowing you to easily wipe it away.

So there you have it, my tips for a cheap green clean. I'm hoping that writing this post will inspire me to get started in the kitchen... Good luck!

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Merry Christmas

I couldn't go without writing a Christmas post so here it is.

We are spending Christmas with family which, other than the fantastical weather, is really lovely. 

Chez Hedge are having a homemade feel to Christmas this year. We're very busy so I had to be very organised and prepare in advance. I have been inspired by Kirstie's Homemade Christmas and will say in a quiet voice so that the recipients can't hear (shhh!): vintage teacup candle. Do take a look for inspired and inexpensive gift ideas -- nowadays it's all about spending time rather than money. I have accompanied these with cupcake bath bombs for absolute indulgance. However, no photos as I don't want to give too much away!

I will however post a photo of the stocking I have made. I didn't want to give away LO's First Christmas babygro from last year (ooo, all sentimental now), nor did I want to leave it in a box somewhere to gather dust, or take up essential space. So, I downloaded a stocking outline from Google Images which I used as a template for the shape, then found some left-over gingham and wadding from a previous project, a friend's old top, a bit of ribbon, used the babygro to make a toe and cuff, and here is the result.

I'm quite pleased for a first attempt at making something without a pattern. And for free!

So, tip of this week is to re-use and up-cycle old baby items to make something useful to keep.

Hope you all have a Merry Christmas and, to pinch a phrase from Vivien of Holloway who sell beautiful vintage inspired clothing: "that your stockings be full and your puddings fruity!"

Monday, 3 December 2012

Greetings

What to do with all those beautiful pictures your little one has been painting?

Of course the 'firsts' and the best should be kept, but we can't put them all in a box to gather dust.

I read about this idea before starting this blog and unfortunately cannot remember who it was that should be credited (sorry). Can I still use the baby brain excuse at 13 months? Technically he would have been 8 months when I read it so surely it must be ok!?

Anyway birthday 'thank yous' required so (sorry for the spoiler as I haven't put them in the post yet) time to glue those pictures onto a blank card?

We didn't have enough paintings either so out came paint, sponges and glitter and had lots of giggles. And some wrestling too - apparently paint is tasty!


So there you have it, a mini Picasso. One tip with three benefits: an activity with your child, a way to keep your home clutter free, and reasonably costed greetings cards. Oh, and very happy recipients too - everyone loves a piece of your little ones creative exploits.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Save a Life for Free

Gosh is it that time already?
This is what I find myself saying repeatedly these days, and here I say it in relation to a rather long gap between postings. But the exciting thing about that is that I have been exceptionally busy having interesting times. We have just had a wonderful weekend with family where LO was spoiled rotten, awarding giggles and drool-filled kisses to his entertainers, inspiring them to keep up the good work. Having pointed to a painting, and seen two real live horses today, it seems that LO now calls horses Gary, but that is a story for another day...

This blog will be about what I did last weekend -- as in the ethos of this blog, it was free. But more importantly, I think as many people as possible should learn what I learned.

Last weekend I learned something that I hope I will never need to know.
I went on an Emergency First Aid for Babies and Children course. The piece of mind this has given me is second to none although I do hope I never need to use it. The course is run for free but, those of you who can, please leave a donation and feel comfortable in the knowledge that you could have saved a life.

Delivered by cheery Alan, a first aider with experience spanning from keeper of Victoria Park to Great Grandad of 13 (I hope I remembered that correctly), and the accolade of representing the Red Cross at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day, the session was presented with ease, making it bearable for those who may be affected by what is a potentially emotive subject, especially if like me your emotions have been on red alert since conceiving and you have had to give up TV for the risk of blubbing at every seasonal-themed advert.

We all mucked in, even trying out a defribulator, but despite our best efforts, none of our plasticated models came to life. Actually I'm quite glad of that - a Steven King novel this was not! This hands-on approach made for an easy way to remember the techniques, which are actually very easy.

I can 't stress this enough, please do check it out:

http://www.firstaidtrainingbathltd.com/calendarbaby.htm

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Happy Halloween



or Samhain to those of you who are pagan. We had a lovely day yesterday, Daddy carved a pumpkin and the wee man has spent most of the time pointing at it and saying wow! He is currently trying to make trumpet noises by blowing through the cut holes (I should point out that it is no longer lit)!

Good news, I should have my phone back at the end of this week which means lots of lovely photos for the blog yippee! LO was dressed as a vampire in his tuxedo babygro and one of my scarves as a cape - quite the charmer, we might need to do a re-take. I must say the tux babygro has been a favourite - we can drag it out for any occasion from birthday bash to Chicago gangster at a murder mystery party, and now dracula. It has no feet so has lasted far beyond the age on the label, but best of all it's a babygro, so if you're at a party, there is no need to wake and change him into pyjamas late at night.

So the money saving part of this blog is not a pumpkin soup recipe. I imagine that pumpkins will be getting cheaper in supermarkets over the next week and I am bored of making soup with the innards so sought out alternative recipies. Lo and behold, I found two in one book: the Abel & Cole Cookbook (which came free with a veggie box). A staple book in our family as the instructions are easy and the results always delicious. Although we now get our veggies locally, the quality from Abel & Cole was unbeatable and they have plenty of free and delicious recipes online, so do take a look http://www.abelandcole.co.uk/recipes.

Chicken and Pumkin Casserole
This is very easy to make. I'm a fan of 'one pot wonders' - delicious nutritious, feeds masses, and easy to clear up. This one got the thumbs up from the grandparents too. It involved browning the chicken (8 small pieces) and onions (1/2 mug) in oil and butter. Adding chopped pumpkin (or squash - 2 mugs) and carrots (1 mug), stock (1.5 mugs) and sage, and leaving to simmer for 30min. Top with cashews or walnuts and serve with a hunk of bread.

This was followed by a custard pumpkin tart which I served with sweet seasonal and apples.

Of course, don't forget to bake the seeds with just a touch of oil, season with salt and pepper and eat while they're warm and crispy.

Delicious, so get out there and take advantage of the cheaper seasonal produce.