I have recently developed a bit of an obsession for sea glass. We saw some jewellery made with it at a craft fayre recently and I just fell in love with it. We love hunting for sea glass at the beach and seeing the excitement on the children’s faces when they find a good piece is just great! After a particularly successful trip to the beach, I decided to use this to decorate some hand-made stepping-stones.
This is not something I’ve done before and I didn’t have a clue where to start. I didn’t even know the difference between cement, mortar or concrete! Luckily I found a very helpful chap in B & Q who suggested I use this.
You just need to add water to it and mix well which is the kind of instructions I can cope with! You then need some kind of mould for your stone. I used this plastic tray from a plant pot which seemed to work well. I greased it first with vaseline to prevent any disasters getting the stone out!
Once you have mixed your mortar just pour it into the mould and level it out to a nice smooth surface. It needs to begin to set before you add any decorations. I left it for 90 minutes before we did anything else. This would probably depend on how wet your mixture is. (Don’t make it too wet or you’ll have to wait weeks for it to dry!)
After around 90 minutes the children pushed their hand down into the mortar to make a lovely hand print. You need to get them to press down quite firmly for this. At this point they wrote their names in the mortar with the end of a small paintbrush. This wasn’t really that successful to be honest. Where they had pushed the end of the paintbrush in it just kind of collapsed in on it self and didn’t look great. I think for any future stones we will paint their names on when the mortar has set.
We also pushed in the pieces of sea glass that we had collected earlier, along with some pretty clear blue glass nuggets that we bought from The Range. Now you need to leave it all to dry out completely. We left it for 2 days, again it could take longer depending your mixture.
At this point the children painted their handprints to make them stand out more. You can see in this image where the writing kind of fell in on itself.
Finally, we painted the background of the stone white. By the way all the paint we used was acrylic as this is waterproof. Depending on the age of the child they can do an awful lot of this themselves. It is pretty tricky to paint in around the decorations on the stone so you might want to just paint the hand print and leave it at that. Lily and Thomas were both very excited to give these to Grandad for his birthday but I think they would love make lovely Father’s Day gifts.
In the lead up to Christmas we were trying our best to cut down on our food shopping bills. December is always going to be a big one no matter what you do! We discovered a really simple way to cut down on mounting food bills so I thought I would share this with you. Basically, all you need to do is plan your weekly menu before you shop.
Before we head to the supermarket we just make a note of what we are going to eat every night in the week. I know it sounds really boring and organised but it does work. You can organise your meals around the ingredients that you already have available. So, for example have a look through the freezer and see what you already have, then buy ONLY what you need for those meals. If you are really clever you can even make one meal last for 2 or 3 nights.
Tonight we’ll be having Roast Chicken so tomorrow night we’ll have leftover roast chicken with baked potatoes and the night after that I will make a chicken and mushroom pie. Planning your meals like this is a good way to use up those ingredients that have been sitting around for a while and it definitely cuts down on waste. We’ve reduced our shopping bills by a whopping 40%!
Do you have any other tips for reducing the amount of money we spend on food?
Gorgeous fresh nappies are much more appealing than a bin full of smelly disposables
When my mum suggested that I use cloth nappies on my first child I thought she was mad! I probably told her as much as well. Of course you never really listen to your mum’s advice do you? A few months later when I was nearing my due date a friend of mine suggested the same thing and of course I listened to her! I’m glad I did because once she told me all about the benefits of using cloth nappies I realised that it was a good decision. Almost 5 years and 2 children later we are still using cloth nappies and I think it’s one of the best decisions we have made.
Here are our top ten reasons for using cloth nappies, not in any particular order.
- They have saved us a load of money! I’ve never worked out exactly how much but considering we have used the same nappies for both of our children it is probably between £600 and £800. We bought some of our cloth nappies second-hand and we’ve even sold some of them when they have no longer fitted our children
- We have been doing our bit for the environment. Considering babies go through around 4,500 nappy changes in their life time that is an awful lot of disposables that would have gone to landfill if we hadn’t used cloth. Recent research also shows that we have reduced our carbon footprint by 40%
- Cloth nappies do not contain any nasty gels or chemicals and we know exactly what is against their skin
- No smelly bins in our house. The poo is flushed away with the liner and the rest of the nappy goes into a bucket until wash day
- They are really easy to use. Ok, in my mum’s day it may have been a different story but there’s no soaking, boiling or safety pins involved with modern nappies
- They don’t smell! Honestly the smell of a disposable nappy is far worse in my opinion!
- They look great – fashionable and fun!
- They are the best choice for our babies. Cotton lets their skin breathe (unlike disposables which actually raise their body temperature) and according to pediatricians cloth nappies are the best choice for ensuring good hip alignment
- Potty training is usually achieved 6 months earlier with cloth nappies – it was certainly true with our first child and we’ve yet to find out with number 2!
Why do you use cloth nappies? What made you consider using them in the first place? Did your mum suggest it too?!