Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Get Good Summer Goals - Week Three

How is it possible that another week has gone by!?! Don't know where this year is going so starting to get a bit nervous that the summer will be over before I know it and I'll have made limited progress with my #getgoodsummer goals.

1) Create a family photo book
Will be taking lots of new photos over the next couple of weeks. We don't have a lot of pictures of our little family of three so hoping to get some good ones of us as we're off on our holidays including attending a wedding. It will be great to get a shot of us all dolled up! We're also seeing lots of our family so the perfect opportunity to get some up-to-date pictures.

2) Redesign my blog website
Still no progress on this goal. This is the one I want to focus on most when we return.

3) Read a book
Yeay. Progress! Have visited the library and got 2 books out. Thought I'd better get two just in case I can't get into the first one!

found it really hard to choose what to pick. Maybe should have done some research before I went. I wandered aimlessly around the fiction section and then settled on books by authors I know. So played it very safe. This is what I went for:

If I actually manage to read one of these, then I'm going to update this goal to be read a book by a new author that I've never read before.

4) Do a craft project
Nothing to update on this one.

5) Try out more recipes
After our success with 2 new recipes last week, we've stuck to our old faithfuls again this week. We're self catering on our holiday so I'm going to take a recipe with me and hopefully we'll have the chance to try this out.

As we're are off on our holidays for 2 weeks I'm going to really have to crack down on actioning these when we get back.

If you missed it, here's my original list of Get Good Summer Goals

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Get Good Summer Goals - Week Two

So it's that time again for an update on my #getgoodsummer goals. Again, limited progress. Lots of thinking about doing each one, not so much actual doing! As we're off on our holidays for 2 weeks soon, I'm going to really have to crack down on actioning these when we get back.

1) Create a family photo book
I will be narrowing down the selection of photos for the book in a couple of weeks after we've visited Mr MoaB's family as I'd like to include a few up-to-date ones with family members.

Thought I'd share another photo with you. This time one of my favourite pictures of me (Mummy) with Little Miss A.

2) Redesign my blog website
Still no progress on this goal. I really need to find some time to sit down and give the website some serious thought. It's all in the planning with this one and then I think (hope) that the actual building of the website will be much easier.

3) Read a book
Going to the library tomorrow so determined to pick up some books for me ready for our holiday. My current library rental list is all books for Little Miss A!

4) Do a craft project
Don't think this project will actually take that long once I've got all the bits together. Again, just a time thing. Need a couple of clear hours with no interruptions (yeah right) and this could be done!!

5) Try out more recipes
Hurrah! Success! So this week we've actually increased our meal list with 2 new recipes. The first one was homemade tomato soup with meatballs. Mr MoaB needs to take the credit for cooking this one but it was really nice and definitely a meal that Little Miss A can share with us.

The next recipe we tried was a Thai Biryani. This recipe appealed to me as it said it was a quick dish to cook and looking at the ingredients, it was all stuff that we usually have in the store cupboard and freezer (such as mince). We used fresh vegetables on this occasion, but could easily use some frozen. My slight error was with the chilli - the right amount for Mr MoaB but a bit too much for me. My mouth was tingling afterwards! It was nice and quick to put together so definitely a great addition to our meal list. I did take a photo but it doesn't look as good on the plate as it tasted so I'll spare you the picture!

So there you have it. A little bit of progress for this week! Hopefully the others who are taking part are doing well with their goals!

If you missed it, here's my original list of Get Good Summer Goals

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Millets Farm Centre - Review

About a month ago I entered a Facebook competition to win a family lunch at Millets Farm. They asked the following question: What is your favourite thing to do at the beach? My comment was "Wriggling our toes in the sand and chasing the waves in & out trying 'not' to get wet!!"

Surprisingly I won! So today we headed off for a visit. It's about 45 minutes drive from Aylesbury but it's worth the drive as there's lots to do. You can definitely spend a whole day there. 

We headed straight to the Beach that they've created for the summer in Frosts Garden Centre which is part of the Millets Farm Centre. The 'Beach' is a really large, covered sand pit. Little Miss A enjoyed 'wriggling her toes in the sand' and digging in the sand with some of the buckets and spades that are provided to play with.

Once we'd dusted off the sand, we headed in to the Potting Shed Cafe which is right next door to the Beach and enjoyed a really nice lunch (using just a fraction of our prize vouchers). This Cafe is good for drinks and a lighter lunch - jacket potatoes, quiches, sandwiches, paninis etc. Perfect for what we wanted. There is another Restaurant next to the Farm Shop which has a more extensive menu. 

The Garden Centre itself is well worth a wander around. Originally I thought the vouchers would just be valid for the Cafe. I did wonder how we were going to eat £40 worth of food between us. We were actually able to use the vouchers for anything so we took the opportunity to buy some more plants for the rockery we've created (so it's not looking quite so sparse now) which I wrote about in the post 'Gardening with zero budget!'. We also spent quite a while browsing in the gift, homeware and toy sections of the shop and Little Miss A ended up choosing herself a little windmill!

Our last stop was to see the animals in the Farm Zoo. There's a large variety including the usual favourites of pigs, goats, sheep and cows. There's a big fishing lake with lots of ducks and swans.

There are also some alpacas and 3 rheas. I've not heard of these birds before. They have actually laid a whole load of eggs so we saw one of the birds take up position on top of them.

The other parts of Millets Farm Centre that we didn't visit this time include:
  • Children's Play Area - for once we managed to get Little Miss A passed a slide without her clambering to go down it! She was getting dozy in the pushchair, but I promised her that she could have a go next time we visit.
  • Farm Shop - if we didn't already have a full freezer and weren't going away soon, then I'd have definitely gone in here. 
  • Phoebe Wood - a ten-acre site comprising woodland and wetland walks. Right up our street, but Little Miss A was getting tired and we just didn't have time to do a walk today.
  • Pick your Own - definitely something I'd like to do with Little Miss A but when she's a bit older as I think too much of the fruit would get squished at the moment!
  • Falconry Centre - again, something else that would be good when Little Miss A is older. You do have to pay admission charges for this.

The whole Centre is really geared up to kids and families. There's so much to do. They seem to organise lots of different children's activities during the school holidays and opening on 18th July is a Maize Maze (admission charge applies - discount for booking online in advance). This looks like great fun. Each year there is a different theme (this year it's Food and Farming) and the pictures of the mazes from previous years are amazing. 

You can actually have a free day out at the Centre as the Beach, farm, playground and walks in Phoebe Wood are all free, and you can take your own food as there are lots of picnic areas to use. 

There's plenty to do to fill a whole day so I'd say it's worth the petrol and time to get there! Highly recommended for a visit!

What's Happened? What's Happening?

Friday, 4 July 2014

We're going to the zoo, zoo, zoo.... (ZSL Whipsnade Zoo)

We've had a brilliant family day today at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.

It's been a little bit of tough week as Little Miss A has been suffering with teething. I've never known her to be so mopey and cuddly. It's been lovely, but does mean we've spent a lot of time just snuggled on the sofa rather than getting out and about.

It was Mr MoaB's birthday earlier in the week but he had to work and as Little Miss A wasn't on top form, we decided to have a family day at the zoo today. We were quite excited and were singing the song 'We're going to the zoo, zoo, zoo...' to Little Miss A all morning!

From his work, Mr MoaB had some old rope and a rope ladder to donate to the Chimps for their enclosure, therefore we were offered free entry into the Zoo. We're definitely fortunate that he's made some great contacts through work this year! It actually gave us access to park the car within the Zoo as well which normally costs extra, but there are external car parks which are free.

So our first stop when we arrived was to see one of the monkey keepers to drop off the ropes. I couldn't believe it when she offered us the opportunity to go in with the Lemurs and feed them! We weren't sure how Little Miss A would react, but she was fascinated by them! They're lovely animals, strange feet, but full of character. What an awesome experience for all three of us!

Could have stayed with them all day, but it was soon time to head off round some more of the Zoo. I didn't realise how big Whipsnade is. It's vast. You definitely need comfy shoes as you walk a long way around all the different enclosures which are split into areas of the world. We made quite slow progress to start with as Little Miss A was determined to walk herself rather than go in the pushchair!

We passed through the farm and a great looking playground. We had to steer Little Miss A away from the slides as I was keen we saw some more animals before she got too tired! As it was a hot day, some of the animals were hiding in the shade so for instance we didn't get to see the tigers or bears.

After enjoying a cheeky ice-cream (Little Miss A had most of mine), we decided to go on the steam train. It does cost extra to go on this, but we decided that as we hadn't paid for entry, we would pay for this as our donation to the zoo. I'm a sucker for little train rides so it was all aboard! It was actually a great way to see lots of the animals in the Asia zone.

A quick pit-stop for lunch (we'd brought our own packed lunch to save money) and then off we set again. There are so many areas to visit, it was hard to decide where to go to next. I think my favourites after the Lemurs, were the Red Pandas and the Giraffes. Little Miss A was really interested in the sealions when we went in the underwater viewing area. Here's just a small selection of some of the animals we saw:

And the obligatory silly photo that you have to have from a day out!

Although it's not the cheapest family day out it's definitely worth it for a treat. Be sure to book online in advance as you can save on a family ticket. I know quite a few people who have got memberships - they ask people to contribute to the membership instead of Christmas presents for their kids. This is definitely something we will consider doing when Little Miss A is older so that we can visit as often as we like.

It takes about half an hour to get to Whipsnade Zoo from Aylesbury so no distance at all. The whole Zoo is very accessible so easy to get around with a pushchair.

Thoroughly recommended. It's definitely a fantastic day out!

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Get Good Summer Goals - Week One

So having only just finished writing my #getgoodsummer goals, I'm going to have to admit that I haven't made a lot of progress with actually doing them! However, the idea is to write an update each week, so here goes!

1) Create a family photo book
No progress on this one. We're going on a visit to Mr MoaB's family in a couple of weeks so there may be some new pictures to choose from after the trip.

Thought I'd share one of the pictures that I'm planning to use of Little Miss A's parents!

2) Redesign my blog website
I think the starting point is going to be a really good logo for 'Mummy on a Budget'. Then the design will come from that in terms of colours etc. This is definitely going to be one of the goals that takes a lot longer to achieve.

3) Read a book
I had every intention of choosing a few books from the library today, but in the end I was in a rush to get back to the car before my free parking time limit was up. Hopefully I'll be able to get some books on our library visit next week.

4) Do a craft project
I think I've decided what project to do. It's another keepsake for Little Miss A as I want to do her a Memory frame with her hospital tag, 1st photo etc. I have a box frame I can use so it's a case of gathering all the different bits together and getting the glue gun out!

5) Try out more recipes
This one I have started as I've picked out a new recipe that is going to go on our meal plan for this week. Fingers crossed it turns out all right. I'll let you know next week!

So that's it. My progress so far. Not much, but by actually having these written down and updating what I've done each week, it means I keep them front of mind and have more chance of achieving them by the end of the summer.

If you missed it, here's my original list of Get Good Summer Goals

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

My get good summer goals

Recently Mr MoaB and I started writing a 'Things To Do Before I'm 2' list for Little Miss A and we've already started ticking some of the things off. Then I heard about the 'Get Good Summer' linky over at Clarina's Contemplations and I liked the idea of setting 5 goals for me to achieve in the next 10 weeks.

So here goes... my #getgoodsummer list:

1) Create a family photo book
For a long time I've been talking about creating a photo book with pictures of all our close family and friends. Unfortunately, we don't live near most of our family (we've also lost a lovely family member this year) so this will be an important family record and allow us to show Little Miss A the pictures and discuss the people, her relationship to them, where they live etc.  I've actually done most of the hard work of sorting through hundreds of photos to find pictures of each person, so now it's a case of collating the book and then I will need to keep my eyes open for a deal to get it printed.

2) Redesign my blog website
I started this blog at the start of the year and didn't 100% know what I'd really be writing about. I just wanted to give creating a website and a blog a go! The priority was to get something live on the URL and build up the content. I've done this now and have found that I absolutely love writing the blog. Therefore I need to redesign the website and make it more user-friendly.

3) Read a book
I used to read a lot of books but I think the last book I actually finished was a Baby book before Little Miss A was born! I've started lots but just not read a whole one cover to cover. So this summer, I'm going to get myself a chick-lit book from the library and actually put time aside to read it!

4) Do a craft project
I love getting crafty. Little Miss A is still a bit too young but I can't wait until we can do craft projects together. I'm not sure what project I'm going to do yet but it needs to involve using my glue gun that I bought this year!

5) Try out more recipes
I'm not a confident cook. As a bit of fussy eater, I always used to play it a bit safe with food and go for pretty plain and boring stuff, over and over again. I'm getting better and I get quite a lot of compliments from Mr MoaB on my cooking, particularly my curries now. However, we are stuck in a bit of a rut with a limited repertoire of dishes that we both like. So I need to get braver in the kitchen and start trying out some new recipes.

There you have it! My goals for the summer. I'll let you know how I get on.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Gardening with zero budget!

Really pleased with what Mr MoaB and I have managed to create today in a corner of our back garden and we haven't spent a penny!

The previous owners' of our house were obviously not green fingered. The back garden is just a square box. There's one shrub and that's it. No borders, no trees, no plants. Nothing. Not very inspiring!

One corner was particularly forlorn - just an uneven mound of dirt and weeds. We had a lovely Apple Tree given to us by Little Miss A's grandparents when she was born so we put this in the corner, but it didn't really detract from the sorry state of the ground it stood on!

We came up with the idea of a rockery but then we took a big gulp when we saw the price of stones in the garden centre. We'd be looking at around £100+!! As we didn't have a Plan B for the corner, I decided to put a post up the local Freecycle website just on the off chance. Having never used this site before, I wasn't sure what to expect but a couple of people responded to my post so one evening we went off to pick up a car boot full of slabs from a really nice gentleman in Ford.

We got some really nice round slabs with different designs - flowers, birds etc. which were pretty grubby but cleaned up well after a quick spray with the pressure washer. We've placed these to create a stepping stone path for Little Miss A between the back door and the grass to break up what is just a very expanse of gravel. She still usually ends up walking on the gravel with barefeet rather than the flat stones - she's got tougher feet than me!

Earlier in the week, we dug the corner area over and Mr MoaB had a 'smashing' time with the other slabs to break them all up. Today, whilst Little Miss A was napping, we got busy putting the stones in. We kept placing stones, moving them around, changing them over, moving them around a bit more. We could have been out there for hours rearranging them all! We did finally agree to call it a day and leave them as they were!

We put over some sacks of newer soil that my Mum had donated after re-doing her garden tubs recently. She'd also kindly bought us a couple of rockery plants today at a car boot sale. I'm hoping they'll grow and spread quite quickly, as they look a bit lost at the moment!

The last thing was to plant a packet of seeds that I'd been sent after responding to a post on Facebook from Ella's Kitchen who were giving away packs of Bee-Friendly Wild Flower Seeds. Luckily I was one of the 10 people they picked to receive the seeds. A great freebie!

So here it is...

It already looks so much better and once some flowers grow it's going to be a huge improvement. Feeling good that we've done something to:
a) improve the garden
b) provide some texture, colour etc. for Little Miss A (when the flowers grow!)
c) encourage wildlife into the garden

All without spending any money! Roll on the next garden project!