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Saturday, 28 January 2012

Castille Soap!

Wow, if there was just one cleaning item I could have in my cupboard, it would be Dr Bronner's castille soap. I was recommended this by a friend, (thanks, Rachel!) and will never go back, having tried it, and no, I am not being paid to write this!
Basically, you can get it in the largest bottle, about a litre for around £10. Did I hear a shout? Yes, it does seem expensive, but you have to remember, it is super concentrated, so you have to dilute! Just a little in the bottom is enough, and then fill with water to top, for handwash, and for shampoo, I put a little in bottle, and top with a little hot water, then use immediately on bath nights.
You can also use it for washing floors, sinks...the list is endless. No nast chemicals, and makes lovely lather, too! Just ignore the funny writing on the bottle. The large size lasts an age, even for our family. Plus, there are loads of different varieties, including tea tree, peppermint, lavender, rose.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Yummy Cheesecake in Fifteen minutes!

I like cheesecake......but, I don't like the ones in the shops, too sweet and sickly. Here is a great recipe that can be made while the dinner is cooking!
Ingredients: Serves 10
1 tub of value soft cheese (250g)
1 300 ml tub double cream
2 Capfulls of real lemon flavour. (the type in tiny bottles)
300g of value digestives
100g butter/marg
100g caster sugar
1 can of custard (or make up about 400ml and pre chill)

First melt butter, then take of heat. In a food processor, blend the biscuit crumbs (alternatively stick in freezer bag, and use rolling pin)
Add the crumbs to the melted butter, and stir.
press out into a large flat dish. (I use the lasagne type ones)
Chill in fridge.
Now, mix the soft cheese, sugar, custard, and half of the cream. pour onto biscuit base.
whip up the other half of the cream, till soft peaks, and then spread over the top.
Now you are done, and can add some fruit if you wish!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Making the most of our Money in a Difficult Economy

No one will deny that the current economic situation poses tough challenges, and even more so for home educators, as we are very often cruising along on one wage, not two. However, don't ever underestimate the blessings we receive, of having invested in our children, especially from a Christian standpoint. It is easy to be tricked into thinking our job is not important. However, don't be fooled. A godly home and upbringing is the best thing we can give our children. Material possessions don't make children happy, a loving family, and happy home, where parents truly love the Lord, does.
So, how can we manage our money better, how can we save? I am really interested to hear others' tips so please comment!!
In the meantime, I will share some of mine.
1) Where ever possible buy used. I look on ebay for the best deals, and you will often find clothes going for silly prices, clothes that have only been worn a handful of times, or even brand new! You can do this for clothes, toys,, just about anything!
2) Whenever I want to buy an item new, I still check ebay, and amazon first, and put it on watch list, and then click to look for similar items. I have saved money that way!
3) Go onto uswitch, and see if there is a better electric deal out there, and do this every year. I have saved £400 this way. Likewise, checkout boilerjuice website, if you get home heating oil.
4) For food shopping, use It really does help, and will suggest cheaper, and even mention products on offer, you may of missed. Bulk buy stuff which is cheaper at one supermarket, than another. I have been buying minced frozen steak at asda for just £2 a pound, it is 0.89p more at tesco!
I also bulk buy at approved food's website, they are an outdated food retailer, and will often sell job lots at crazy prices. Yes, it is safe to eat food past the best before, all that may be affected, is taste. Tis is confirmed on the NHS' s own website.
5) According to statistics, we throw out a third of the food we buy. Don't add to that. Use any left overs for lunch the next day, and odd bits are fab on a home made pizza. Also remember, even if the food is past best before, don't throw it out! As long as it looks and smells fine, it will be ok. I was only just reading about food in tins years old, and it was tested, and showed no signs of any microbial, or bacterial growth, despite its age.
6) Bulk buy where you can. potatoes by the sack, free range eggs by the tray. If you live near farms, chances are they will be cheaper, and I find so much better quality.
6) With homeschool curriculum, shop around. You can often look 'inside' the book at, but check with amazon for the best price. I even managed to buy some used curriculum, which was still as good as new, but the difference was the price!
7) Home bargains, and The Works are great places to get pens, paper, and craft activities for the children, even workbooks. Plus they sell a whole range of other stuff super cheap.
Over the next few weeks, I as usual will be posting some great recipes, and as always very economical.
8) Don't forget Swagbucks, available here, in UK, and beyond, get points for searching the internet!! You can exchange for amazon vouchers.
9) Err, almost forgetting real nappies! I save a fortune on those, not to mention cloth wipes, and cloth san pro for ladies. Buy at, or fillyourpants!
10) soapnuts!!! check out the nuttiest clean on face book, and the website For just a few pence a wash, and no chemicals!!!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Homeschooling encourages Healthy bonds

Last week there was an article in the Telegraph, suggesting that schools should open Saturdays, and increase their hours. For example, they should be open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30p.m at night. You can read the article,
One quote that stuck out from the article, was this: ''Nothing matters more than the quality of the time a child spends interacting with a gifted adult.''
Hmm, teachers are gifted adults, and nothing mattters more? I agree, there are many gifted teachers out there, but, you don't need a degree to teach. What is most important, is a love of learning, a love for the children you are teaching, and a little patience! One thing that home educators do extremely well, on the most part. Yes, there are bad examples, but so are there bad teachers.
Having addressed that main point, the thing that disturbs me most about what Michael Gove is saying, is that ''nothing matters more.'' It is hardly encouraging parent child relationships, is it? If a child spends 10 hours away from home, and just maybe 2 hours in the evening (if that! ) with their family.
The relationship we have with our family lasts a lifetime, and school is for just 12 years or so of a person's life. For me, it is just another reason for home educating!!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Storm Damage

Just over a week ago, we had some really high winds, and I guess it was just too much for the hundred year, or more old pear tree! Unfortunately, it fell bang smack on the trampoline, crushing it. Good job it was quite old. We have had about 8 years out of it. Still plenty of wood for the woodburner.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Quick and easy Rice Pudding!

Have you ever thought about rice pudding, and just dismissed the idea, as it takes too long? I have. Two hours in the oven, and constant checking is enough to put anyone off! However, there is a quick way, very quick, in fact can be done in under 30 minutes with a pressure cooker.
Don't worry, the modern pressure cookers are not like the older style ones, which occasionally blew up! (something not good with rice pudding!) They have safety locks, so they don't do that.
So, all you need is some pudding rice, milk, cream, or evaporated milk, for the extra zing, some caster sugar, and cinnamon, and nutmeg for flavour.
First, you need to weigh out about 50g pudding rice per person (less for young children).
Then, put into pressure cooker, with water enough to cover, and plenty spare.
Cook like this, and bring to pressure, then cook for 15 minutes. Release pressure, then remove lid. Drain any excess, and then add milk, and cream, sugar, spices. Make sure there is extra to cover, then do the same for another 10-15 minutes.
Release steam, and enjoy!!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Chats on the Farmhouse Porch

Now, I am aware I haven't posted since last year! (gulps) Been very busy, as it always is this time of year. I haven't done the porch for ages, and was prompted by Homeschooling on the Croft's post.

How often do you wear a skirt or dress?
Every day I wear a skirt. I like longer colourful ones in the winter. Shorter ones in the summer, but always slightly below the knee. Not that I am obsessively modest, though!
Did you feel unmotivated after Christmas and New Years?
No, I am ready to go, and hopefully, to a healthier year. My motivation, will be better health. That is always worth it!
What was the last thing that made you say "Wow"?
Err, I say it quite often, but something the children did. Can't quite remember. My memory fails me these days! I can remember saying wow at a sunset though, quite remarkable it was. We had a red sky in the morning the next day, and then....our pear tree blew down, but that is for tomorrow's story! Oh, I also said wow, then! There, I said it, I say wow quite often!
Do you shop with a list, or do you "wing it"?
A bit of both. I buy what we can't do without, and I also shop for bargains, and offers!

Monday, 2 January 2012

Cooking for a Large Family, and Home Education

Now, cooking for 12 needn't be any more difficult than cooking for 2. The noticeable difference being the amount of food needed. Now, from a home education point of view, cooking can become a curriculum subject;0) In my opinion, the best skills children will learn in home education, are those which enable them to save money, and look after themselves.
After teaching basic food safety, (this can be found on the food standards website, or there are even dedicated books on it) and let's face it, with the food poisoning figures running into the millions, in Britain alone every year. This is something which CAN be prevented, and before you think dodgy Chinese retaurant, most cases are found in the home.
If you are not a confident cook yourself, you could take time to learn along with the children! I have taught myself over the years, but due to time, and lack of expertise I like simple!!
There are plenty of ways to save money, by cooking from scratch, especially in a large family. For example, cakes, soups, sauces, and puddings, just to name a few. Google is your friend, when it comes to looking for recipes online, and trying new things. I will be posting a few of our favourite recipes, and of course all of them economical, and easy to make.
Here are a few things it will help you to keep stocked in the cupboard, so you don't have to go rushing out to the shops:
herbs, such as sage, thyme, basil, and oregano.
stock cubes.
pepper, chilli, and curry powder.
vanilla, almond, natural flavour.
Cocoa powder.
Custard powder.
Plain flour, bread flour, and s. raising flour.
baking powder, and biacarbonate of soda.
Dried fruit.
caster sugar.
icing sugar.
You will find that with just these few ingredients, you can make pies, cakes, pastries, stews...etc.