All posts by nearlyerica

Money Matters

Money matters. It matters a great deal.
As a single mum, I’m on a tight budget, and although my recent promotion (yay!) means I’ll have a little more disposable cash soon… Money is still in fairly short supply.
Luckily I’m a saver by nature, so I budget frantically throughout the year so that I can afford treats and holidays for me and the children.
However, me being good with money for myself is not enough.
No, I want my children to be good with money too.
So, in the interests of teaching them how much money matters, they have weekly pocket money that they can choose to spend on sweets, or save for larger toys.
I’m delighted that they have both embraced the idea of saving for larger items.
My son decided he wanted to save up for the Lego police station set.

This Lego Police Station is teaching my son that money matters

Averaging a whopping £60.00 from most retailers. I promised him that if he could get most of the way there himself, then I would help him with the final bit. He saved up £45 on his own and I donated the final £15 as a reward for his hard work. I was so proud of him!
My daughter is equally financially savvy. Upon hearing my deal with M, she enquired if I’d do the same for her if she saved up for the Lego Olivia’s house (averaging £50.00)

Lego Olivia's House - teaching my daughter about money matters

Naturally, I agreed and she set to work saving too.
A trip to Smyth’s toy shop and they both got their hard earned toys.

They are now both saving hard for other “big” toys and I couldn’t be happier.

I’m delighted to have children who are learning the cost of items they want, as opposed to just the price. When I was working in the shop on minimum wage and they asked for big toys that I knew they would grow out of quickly, I would sometimes point out that I’d have to spend two days in work, just to buy that one item.. It helped make them aware of how hard I have to work for my cash, and that is a valuable lesson for anyone.

I wonder how other’s handle money matters with their children? Am I too open with them about finances?

Family Friday

Mooncups, life changing silicon

Mooncups are life changing. I know that sounds bizarre.

I first became aware of Mooncups during my early twenties. I saw stickers on the back of toilet doors in public toilets and service stations and thought:

“What sort of weirdo goes around putting stickers about sanitary protection in toilets? What sort of person would you have to be, for that to be something you would WANT to do?”

I didn’t buy one.

Then I became older and wiser. I started trying to conceive my first child and started visiting the website Mumsnet. There were people going on about Mooncups on there too. I’d had years of using icky tampons that left my insides dry and sore. I’d tried sanitary towels, both with and without wings, and loathed the way they felt against my skin. Even worse, when they started adding gels and chemicals into them, I ended up with a raw undercarriage from a reaction to them!

Mooncups could not be any worse surely?

So I ordered one.

It arrived in the post.

I waited for my period to arrive.

It didn’t. I conceived.

So the Mooncup was stashed at the back of the cupboard for almost one year.

Finally, I was ready to use it. I read and re-read the instructions and had a go. At this point I will admit that it took me three months of periods before I really adapted to it. At first I didn’t get the angle right (aim for your lower back rather than straight up towards your throat).

It hadn’t unfolded properly on one occasion and so it leaked slightly (my fault for not double checking, I was aware it felt ‘funny’.

The stem was poking me! Tip – cut it off, cut it all off. You don’t need it.

Cut off that stem! Ouch!

Now though I’ve been using my Mooncup for over 9 years. Yes, the same Mooncup! And therein lies the beauty of them. I bought one Mooncup for £20, it’s still going strong now. Think of the financial saving! Think of the environmental saving!

If I use an average of 6 tampons per day and my period typically lasts 7 days minimum (I know – sucks to be me), that’s 42 tampons. A period every month takes the total tampons used to 504 used in a year. A regular pack of 20 tampons is approximately £2.70 (cheapest on Amazon, however most women regularly pay more in the supermarket). I would need 2 boxes per period – 24 boxes per year. That’s a whopping £64.80 per year! And that’s not even including the fact that I used sanitary towels at night..

So over my 9 years of Mooncup wearing I’ve easily saved myself over £580.

The other plus points are numerous.

No more carrying various sanitary stuff around with you, you just need one mooncup AND it comes with a swanky little drawstring bag so it doesn’t get fluffed up with all the crap at the bottom of your handbag (I know this, as I forgot to use the bag once.. Never again).

My periods are slightly lighter and don’t hurt any more. Theories online abound about the reasons for this. Most popular is that as mooncups are passive, they are not ‘drawing’ menstrual blood from your body, therefore less cramps.

You don’t need to change it as often. You know those days when you know you are due on, but haven’t started yet? The repeated trips to the loo to check you haven’t started yet? None of that with a mooncup, just put it in and check it later in the day.

I’ve managed to convert several of my friends to the mooncup way :)

And that’s another thing to consider, how many people do you know who get evangelical over tampons or towels? Exactly. None.

Now where can I get my hands on some toilet door stickers….

Mooncups are available in larger Boots stores, supermarkets and direct from  the mooncup website with a retail price of £19.99.

Alternatively, they are available on special offer at Amazon for just £17.95 – a saving of over 15% on the normal price.


Let me take a photo of you…


“Let me take a photo of you and E”.
That’s what my mum said today.
Being a single mum, I rarely have pictures of me and the children together.
So Mum kindly volunteered to take a picture of me and my daughter.


We had a few false starts…


But got there eventually!


Camera phone’s take some getting used to. My mum hates mine! But I’m glad she persevered as it’s a lovely picture :)

Just need one of me with my son next!


Zombieland has rapidly become one of my favourite films. I saw it for the first time around March this year and liked it so much, I re-watched it two days later.

It had been on Netflix. I loved it so much, I then bought it on DVD. You know, in case it was taken off Netflix..

What’s to like?

I like the comedy. The timing is immaculate. The hero is rubbish, at the beginning. You know he will come through as the hero sometime, but when?

I think the way Columbus makes up rules of survival in order to try to create order from chaos rang bells for me. I love a good list and often use lists to try to make sense of, and control my life when it feels like it’s not heading where I planned.

Bill Murray’s cameo had me crying laughing. In fact I laughed throughout most of the film.

Zombieland – just bloody fantastic!

Troutbeck Cottage B&B

For my family holiday this summer I’m going up to Northumberland, but as it’s rather a long way (especially with two travel-sick prone children) I’m breaking the journey part way near Carlisle.

Me and my parent’s looked at various options to break the journey before we stumbled across the details for Troutbeck Cottage B&B in Warwick Bridge. It’s not far from the M6, just off the A69.

The prices were reasonable and it seemed ideal for our needs, so we booked a double room for my parents and a family room for me, E and M.

We arrived and were shown around by the welcoming proprietor, Sally. We enquired about places to eat nearby that were child friendly and Sally produced menu’s from local pubs that were suitable. We chose the Lane End Inn about 2 miles further along the A69.

The food there was excellent, and the staff were welcoming and friendly. The food is prepared on the premises and it really shows! My mum and I managed to slurp our way through a bottle of the house red (well priced at £12 a bottle). We all enjoyed our meals, and the children loved theirs too. Sometimes when I eat out with my children, I feel like the children’s menu is just an assortment of crap from the bottom of the freezer. This was definitely not the case at Lane End Inn. The fish fingers E had were huge and clearly homemade. M had pizza slices and chips which again, were all homemade. The pizza slice was possibly the nicest tasting I’ve had in years! (I was forced to sample it 😉 not that I minded) Children’s meals were a good price ( £5 for a main with chips, peas or beans, a glass of cordial and two scoops of ice cream) and really generous portions. My mum and I shared a dessert of Eton Mess which was delicious and packed with fresh strawberries. E swiped a fair old amount of our dessert too!

After our meal, I gave the children a lesson in playing pool in the adjoining room as we finished our drinks. The pool table was free to play on, which was a nice surprise.  Then we headed back to Troutbeck Cottage for the night.

The family room that I had booked is spacious and well laid out. There are two single beds and one double, a television, wardrobe, dressing table and tea making facilities. I especially love that actual decent sized glasses and cups are provided. Not just that…. Actual wine glasses too! Although I don’t need them on this occasion, the number of times I’ve ended up drinking wine out of a tea cup in hotels, this seems very civilised indeed!

Troutbeck Cottage - they think of everything!
Troutbeck Cottage – they think of everything!

There is also an en suite shower room, which is spotlessly clean and contains fluffy towels, shower gel and shampoo, soap and flannels etc.




I’m writing this post while tucked up in bed drinking camomile tea, and I have to say, it’s a very comfortable bed! Both children are now sound asleep. The room has a blackout blind and thick curtains which is great if your children struggle to settle while it’s still light. There is some traffic noise, but I’d be astonished if there wasn’t as the B&B is situated well for just hopping off the A69. I can confidently say that the traffic hasn’t bothered E & M and I’m positive it won’t bother me.

I’ve filled out a form for each of us regarding what we would like for breakfast and I’m already expecting fabulous things!

So on that note.. Goodnight all



Trentham Gardens

My family tend to arrange days out together throughout the year. We utilise Tesco clubcard vouchers as much as possible in order as with eight of us in total, the price of a day out can rapidly escalate.
Last month we arranged a night away in Stoke on Trent. We stayed at the Holiday Inn, which was lovely. We had booked two family rooms, which included dinner, bed and breakfast with the children eating free.
We spent the Saturday when we arrived at Trentham Gardens, using Tesco vouchers to pay for our tickets.
Walking up to the estate entrance you pad through a shopping village area. We did not get to look around this at all as we were looking to enjoy the gardens with the children, but there was a good range of independent and small chain shops there.

Trentham gardens are set around a lake designed by Capability Brown. There was originally a manor house overlooking the lake, but sadly this has fallen into terrible disrepair. This website here has images of the original hall.
We spent a lovely day strolling around the lake looking for the many wire work fairies that are dotted around the grounds. This proved an excellent way to keep the three children in our group moving onwards!


The adventure playground in the estate is excellent and all three children (ages 7, 9 and 9) had a great time playing there while the adults relaxed on a bench under some trees.
It’s a place I definitely want to return to. Soon!

Trentham Gardens Website

A week at my parent’s house

I’m extremely lucky to have a very close knit family. My parents live just around the corner from me and they help me out a lot!
Having a long term health issue does sometimes make me dependent on others, as much as I hate to admit that. My parents are thankfully around to assist as needed.
After a busy weekend away with my family recently, I had a recurrence of my disc problems in my lower back and ended up being signed off work for a while so it could settle. Although I was able to hobble about slowly, I was in a huge amount of pain and managing with my two children was just too difficult.
Once they went their dad’s house for a few days, I upped sticks and moved into my parents house with them.
I know that is a situation that a lot of my friends would cringe at, but it was absolutely fine, as I knew it would be.
How do we manage this?
Well, obviously, yes I am their daughter, but we tend to now have a relationship based on mutual respect of one another as adults rather than just a parent-child relationship.
This is crucial.
It would be impossible for me to be living in their house for a week at my age and yet be treated as a child. I’m still their child, but I’m also a grown woman, with her own home, car, job and children.
I’ve had a lovely week. I’ve been well looked after, I’ve endeavoured to be a good house guest (also crucial! Yes, they’re my Mum and Dad but I can’t expect them to pander to me and still retain their respect).
My children and nephew were here too for the last three days which brought noise and chaos to the house!
All in all, is been lovely. However I’m happy to be well enough now to be returning home later today