Wednesday, 17 September 2014

6 Ways to Eat Organic for Less

Even though I have to cook dinner for eight people every night and we have quite a limited budget, I still manage to mostly provide organic meals.  As my family has grown, I have learnt very well how to make my money go far and still eat healthily so I thought I'd share my top six tips.

Cook from scratch                                                                                                                      

It's so much cheaper to buy the unprocessed ingredients to make a meal than to buy ready meals.  I know I have the luxury of working from home so I have plenty of time to get the dinner prepared but even if your time is more limited you could always use a slow cooker or a pressure cooker.

Buy in bulk                                                                                                                                       

I wouldn't dream of buying a little bag of organic rice from the supermarket, it's far cheaper per gram to buy a 25kg sack of organic rice online.  I always like to shop around but I find the majority of the time Amazon has the cheapest prices.  I like to buy large sacks of dried beans, pulses, flour, seeds, nuts etc. in bulk online.
When you buy in bulk, remember the freezer is your new best friend!  With the dried beans I buy in bulk I will soak a big lot of them over night, then boil for an hour, leave to cool then divide into portions, place in freezer bags and put in the freezer.  Then when I want to cook something like a bolognaise or chilli, I will remove a bag or two from the freezer the night before.

Grow your own                                                                                                                                

You could put your name down for an allotment or grow what you can at home.  Even if you don't have a garden it will still save you money to grow herbs and chillies on a window sill.  If you are fortunate enough to have some space in your garden then utilise it to grow some of your own food.  I don't have much space spare in my garden and quickly realised that I'd save more money growing fruit than I would vegetables.  Now I grow grapes, apricots, strawberries, and blueberries which are fruits that would cost me quite a lot to buy organic from the shop.

Grapes growing in our garden

Keep hens                                                                                                                                         

We love keeping hens, we feed them organic chicken feed which costs us far less than the amount it would cost us to buy the organic eggs our chickens produce.  If you have the space I would definitely recommend keeping a few hens.  If I had the land I would love to keep a whole load more animals like goats (for milk), sheep (to spin my own wool), cows (for milk to make cheese) and bees (for honey) but for now that will just have to remain as my little fantasy!

Imogen, Henry, Odin and Samantha watching the hens

Go vegan/vegetarian at least once a week                                                                                         

I make a mean vegan chilli and it's so cheap, I worked out it costs less than £5 to make a big pot of organic vegan chilli which would be easily enough to feed eight people and have leftovers, I also like to make an organic dahl and that is even cheaper still.  

My mean vegan chilli

Bulk out mince and stews

Another money saving trick of mine is to bulk out things like mince or stews with lentils and/or mixed beans so I can make 500g of minced beef be part of a substantial meal for all eight of us.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

How to make pain au raisins

At least once a week my children and I like to have a good baking session, this week we made pain au raisins.  I have uploaded a video onto YouTube of us making these which might make it a bit easier for you to understand my instructions.

I love to have a pastry for breakfast with a filter coffee, it's so simple to freeze the pastries before they are cooked, that way you can just remove one or two from the freezer as you require them, pop them straight into a pre heated oven of 180°C for 20 minutes.

450g strong white flour
25g butter
1 medium egg
225ml warm water
7g fast-action dried yeast
200g raisins
225g soft butter
200g chilled marzipan
1 medium egg
1 tbsp sugar

  • Put the raisins into a bowl and cover with just-boiled water, set aside to soak
  • Mix together the flour, butter and egg
  • Stir the yeast into the warm water, pour into the flour mix, stir
  • Knead for 10 minutes by hand or 5 minutes in an electric mixer with a dough hook
  • Roll out the pastry to form a rectangle of 30cm by 60cm
  • With the rectangle of pastry, stand next to a narrow edge, put dots of butter over the top two thirds of the pastry.
  • Fold the bottom third over the middle and then the top third over the middle.
  • Roll to, once again, form a rectangle of 30cm by 60cm.
  • Repeat the previous three bullet points two more times so all the butter is used up.
  • Grate the marzipan evenly over the pastry and then scatter over the drained raisins.
  • Roll up the pastry into a sausage shape, starting from a narrow edge,  roll quite tightly.
  • Cut into 2cm sections
  • Place onto two buttered baking trays
  • Whisk the egg and caster sugar, then brush over the pain au raisins.
  • Preheat oven to 220°C
  • Leave somewhere warm for 20 minutes
  • Bake for about 15 minutes (or you could freeze them at this point)

Friday, 12 September 2014

Pregnancy Diary - 26 Weeks - Baby 7

I am really enjoying this pregnancy, I'm feeling comfortable and well and appreciating every day.  My baby feels really strong and is responding to sound and touch.  I am so pleased to not be suffering from any heartburn, normally I have heartburn throughout my pregnancies so this has been such a pleasant surprise.  Also, I don't have any aching in my hips at night which, again, I have had in previous pregnancies.  I know I still have a long way to go but I am very happy with how I'm feeling now.

Henry now seems to accept there's a new baby on the way.  Previously when I spoke about there being a baby in my tummy Henry would shout 'No baby!' but now when I talk about it he gently rubs my tummy and talks nicely about the baby.  I think maybe it's because he can see my bump now and also he's understanding more the older he gets.  I'm sure Henry's going to be such a lovely and caring big brother, I can't wait to see his relationship develop with his new baby sister.

We had sort of decided on a name for this baby but now we're just not sure which name to use for the first name and which name to use for the middle name, the children are always discussing this and we can't all agree so I guess a couple of us will be slightly disappointed.  Not too disappointed though because we all do like both the names, it's just deciding which one we prefer.

Although I haven't bought anything for the baby, I think we're pretty much ready for her.  I've made clothes for her, we have washable nappies left over from Henry, the cot's been washed and set up in my room.  My milk supply definitely seems to be accumulating.  What else do we really need?  Some people think you have to spend a fortune on the arrival of a new baby but you really don't, especially if you've had previous babies.  The one new thing that I would quite like to get is a new pram/pushchair but I may just end up using Henry's old one.  I already have a nice sling stored away which I like to use.

I recently uploaded a pregnancy diary vlog to YouTube which includes my weight gain and measurement, I also talk about the fear of childbirth and some of the misconceptions many people have about women that have lots of babies, you can see this below.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Pregnancy diary - 24 Weeks - Baby No.7 plus a fantastic *GIVEAWAY*

Well here I am at 24 weeks already!  I'm feeling comfortable and well, happy and content.  It's not just my bump and the love for my baby that's growing by the day but also my bottom!  Eat your heart out Kim Kardashian and J Lo!  I know most women expect to be purchasing bigger bras during pregnancy but who knew you might go up a knickers size as well?!

The main reason I started both blogging and vlogging was because I thought it would be so fantastic to keep a record of my family growing up, it's something my children will be able to look back on too.  When my children reach the age when they themselves will be having babies they can look at my blogs and vlogs and see where we are similar and also how we differ.

Another reason for my blogging and vlogging is to be able to share my experiences with others, to let people see how a big family lives.  I also like to  share things that perhaps others are not comfortable talking about, just to reassure people with similar issues that they're not on their own.  On numerous occassions I have spoken about bleeding during pregnancy, multiple miscarriages, talipes and so on, I know I'm not the only one and I know I've brought some comfort to people going through these difficult times.

Of course it's so great to be able to share all the positive things in my life too.  I've been sharing my pregnancies, my children's development, our home schooling journey and lots, lots more.  Now I am so pleased to be able to offer my lovely readers a beautiful journal so you can record all the details about your pregnancy.  This Bump to Birthday will truly make a wonderful keepsake, something to treasure.

If you would like to be in with a chance of winning a Bump to Birthday journal then simply enter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here is my regular pregnancy vlog:

  Win competitions at

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Baby girl wishlist

Today I am 23 weeks pregnant and I still haven't bought a single item for my baby girl.  I know lots of other women who are also around halfway through their pregnancies that have bought tons and tons of stuff so I've been feeling a bit left out and thought I would share with you my wish list.

Of course many items I already have from previous babies but I no longer have any baby girl things because my last daughter was born over eight years ago and in that time we've moved so I threw a lot of things out thinking I probably wouldn't need them any more.  Oh how wrong I was!

I still have a cot, Henry still sleeps in it but he will move up to a cot bed when the new baby needs the cot, we already have the cot bed too.  I have a Moses basket and a few cloth nappies but I think that's about it really.  Oh I do also still have Henry's old pushchair but that's been used for a few babies now and I have literally pushed that thing for thousands of miles (yes really) so I would love to have a brand new girlie pushchair/pram.  I do have a lovely red sling that I will continue to use.

So here goes....

Silver Cross Surf 2
This travel system doesn't come cheap but having a baby girl after so many years I think this in the raspberry colour would be a lovely girlie change!  However, I am still a bit unsure about this one, a bit worried I might think it's too garish after a while.

Kub Haywood Glider Nursing Chair and Footstool
I've never had anything like this in all my 16 years of motherhood, it's something I've always dreamed of and if it's as comfortable as it looks then it will certainly be worth buying especially as I plan to nurse my baby for at least a year.

Bumble Bee Peaceful Sleeper
These baby sleeping bags are wonderful, gone are the days when babies would kick off their covers and get their legs stuck between the bars of the cot!  This sleeping bag is so feminine with its delicately hand embroidered gold bees on.

Sophie La Girafe Baby Skincare Starter Kit

This is a gorgeous little starter kit containing face cream, body lotion, baby oil and hand & body wash.  All these products are organic and who couldn't love Sophie La Giraffe anything?!!

Well I have to admit that I'm not as young as I once was and I feel I need to have a changing bag that is sophisticated.  You can get away with a lot of cheap but fun looking stuff when you're younger but I think when you're older you're wise to be a bit more discerning. This Storksak changing bag is pricey but grown up, well made out of good quality leather.

This just looks like a lovely, simple but well made bodysuit for a baby girl.  I don't want my daughter to be dressed in too much pink stuff, I much prefer these mostly white pieces.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Pregnancy Diary - 22 weeks - Baby 7

As usual life for me has been stupidly busy so sadly I am almost a week late with this pregnancy update.  I made my usual weekly vlog which you can see here:


It's wonderful to be well and truly over the half way mark, as much as I enjoy being pregnant I am so looking forward to meeting my new baby daughter.  It's strange to think that I probably won't get to meet her until after Christmas, that seems so far off in the distant future but I know really that time will be here in a flash.

I am feeling well, I'm still relatively small and therefore feel pretty comfortable.  I have only put on 10 lbs which is quite normal for me at this stage.  I still don't have any heartburn, hip pains or any other complaints.

I can feel my baby kicking me reasonable strongly now which I absolutely love.  I know I've been pregnant many times but I never take it for granted.  I treat each pregnancy as if it might be my last and I treasure every single second of it.

I am really enjoying working on my YouTube channel and I love watching other peoples videos, I noticed lots of people have been uploading videos of their grocery hauls.  Well with me being such an over sharer, I simply had to have a go!  So if you'd like to see my typical weekly shop for my family of eight then please feel free:

Hopefully I won't leave my updates so long in future x

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Setting up shop

I've been feeling really well but really tired but I would be tired whether I was pregnant or not, it's just due to being so busy.  From 8 am until 10 pm I am constantly working as well as taking care of my six children.  For a long time now it's been a dream of mine to set up my own shop selling all the bits and pieces I enjoy making: sewing, knitting and crocheting.

Lately I've mainly been making lots of baby clothes, it's taken me a lot longer than it should have because each time I go to make something I find I'm missing something, of course having six children to look after and no car means I can't just pop to the shop to pick up the thing I'm lacking.  Instead I usually have to order online and then of course wait a few days for the item to arrive.  Praise the Lord for Amazon Prime!!

Then, just when I think I have everything ready, my crappy, second hand, thirty year old sewing machine decides to start playing up.  I decided I could either give up on my dream or speculate to accumulate.  Well, as you can imagine with me not being a quitter, I decided to invest in a brand spanking new sewing machine for the first time in my life.  Oh and what an investment it has been!  A total luxury and a complete joy to use.

I bought a digital Janome sewing machine that can also do a bit of embroidery too.  I decided to test out a few of the designs on some of our old linen napkins.  I'm really pleased with the results and impressed that I could use the machine to embroider our names on too.

It's been such fun to choose beautiful cotton fabrics, sumptuous cashmere yarns and top quality equipment to work with.  I've always enjoyed making things and this pregnancy has been making me feel even more creative than ever so although I'm totally shattered by 10 pm every evening, I've been really enjoying myself and I know a good night's sleep is guaranteed each and every night!