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No spend June

So June is a horrible month for me normally.
I have a couple of birthdays, Fathers day and summer activities to pay for. Its never gonna be my fave time of the year cause I can almost hear my bank statements cussing me out.
This year is no different ...
My mum and sister have birthdays 4 days apart so ive been keeping an eye out for something special for each of them and Agent D has a big birthday at the beginning of July (when we're away on our "English-land adventure") ...
There is 7 weeks of school holiday I have to try and provide entertainment for as well as the starting of a new school year so need new tops, trousers, everyday shoes, p.e shoes, new bag to replace the one holding on for dear life ...
Speaking of the "English-land" (what Agent M used to call England) ... this is the only holiday that we're getting this year so we are saving by staying with family but we wanna go on days out *Cough maybe legoland? Cough* so I need to magic financing for that ...
Adding in the usual bills/rent/utilities ...
*can u hear my purse weeping yet?
So ...
Was up the other night trying to work out how I can make ends meet and still afford some nice days out and after many crumpled up bits of paper and a few too many cups of coffee, ive decided to become nurse Ratched to my budget. Im gonna be so strict and militant that its gonna either get in shape willing or by fiscal force!

Welcome to my "NO SPEND JUNE!"
The rules are simple ... DONT SPEND MONEY U DONT NEED TO!
●Bills are a necessity and obviously must be paid.
●Food is a necessity but try to make it cheaper than normal. The freezer has some goodies stashed, the cupboards have some nice simple bits that could make a few dinners. I've got the next 4 weeks of meals planned and will STICK TO IT!!!
●Make from scratch is the motto for the month.
●Town shall be avoided like the plague! "Lead me not into temptation" and all that. It's probably not needed anyway.
●On the occasions when I have to go into town, I'll be adopting a cash envelope system so im limited to '£x' and thats all thats there. Am aiming to take the food budget down to £35 for the week. 
●Where possible make some money! If ive not used it, I probably dont need it. So why not sell it?
The aim of the game is to get some money put past for our holiday and if my numbers are right i could save about £200 ... Let's see how far I get.

Banana Bread

So we've tried a few different banana bread recipes but this is by far the best one. The cake is so moist on the inside and its delicious when its still warm.

You'll need
  • 125g butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 190g self raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg (at room temp)
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 60ml milk

Mash up the bananas in a large bowl.
Melt the butter, sugar and vanilla in a sauce pan then add to the bananas and mix well with a wooden spoon. Beat in the egg, milk and flour.
Pour the mix into a greased loaf tin and bake at 180c for about half an hour (till the skewer comes out clean).

*I find that the top tends to brown alot quicker than the inside cooks. Granted that this could be cause my oven is on its last legs but if this happens to you too, what i do is cover over the top with greaseproof paper and it stops the top burning while the middle cooks.

Depression and Journaling

Ok, lets get heavy for a moment.

When Agent M was born, i like many other mums out there developed a horrible condition known as PND ... Post Natal Depression.

Cut to several years later and i still have that venomous little monster on my back.

**I recently started watching Game of thrones and the best way i can describe depression to those who have never suffered is to refer to the White walkers. Everyone was under the impression that they were gone but then the darkness creeps in and they wake up. Everything and everyone they touch turns to darkness and there is no escape when it gets hold of you. You can only try to ride it out till the winter ends and the summer brings the happiness. Deep down you will never really forget what can happen if the winter comes back.

At my absolute worst when Agent M was about 3 and my brain had decided that 3am was the best time to start remembering all the horrible things i would rather forget. having not slept properly in days, i got up and started to write out all the things in my life that made me smile or that i should be grateful for.

It was a struggle at first as i would just pick apart at everything but it eventually started to become a rather respectable list.

Years later i still have a page in my Filofax called "things that make me smile" which include
  • M coming through for cuddles in the morning
  • That first cup of coffee of the day 
  • Seeing my mum and sister
  • Costa coffee Lemon cake
  • getting nice things in the mail
  • a long lie
  • watching the snow fall
  • listening to the rain while I'm snuggled up in bed
  • Chinese food etc

Now, having depression when Agent M was little was made all the more worse cause i feel like i missed out on the special moments when he was growing up. All my thoughts and feelings were so negative that i didn't have the opportunity to enjoy him going through all his mile stones. His first birthday for example all i remember was being stuck in the kitchen cooking, fighting with his dad and crying in the bathroom. Not exactly memories to cherish.

Ive tried to keep diaries but they never last long so when i discovered a blog by a lady called Christie Zimmer and found her journal pages i jumped on the chance to try something new to 'encourage summer' so to speak. I printed out a couple of her pages and carried them around in my bag. Whenever i started to feel a dark mood creeping up i would note down all the good things going on in my life and try to focus on them.

The original 50 free printables aren't available anymore but i found Christie again on her blog Adventures in Guided Journaling and she has some beautiful printables that are available for free here

I downloaded some and had them printed out so i can keep a record of some of the good things as well as memories from day to day life. They come in colour or no colour so u can decide which you want.

She even has pages for kids that Agent M was thrilled about. I got him loads of pages printed so he can fill them in and we can look back when hes older

On her page is a link to her Etsy shop which i took a look at and found these beautiful little pocket journals. Having sold some things on EBay, i thought id treat myself to something that would be really beneficial to me and i wasn't disappointed. They are small enough to fit in the pocket of my Filofax so i can carry them about with me and the prompts in them really get the brain thinking of the different things that i have going on in my life on a day to day basis that i don't really focus on.

*the white thing is one of two cards that came with ... one of which was coloured in and sent to my sister.

I cant sing Christie's praised high enough ... shes a very talented artist and her pages have got me through some dark times.

Thanks millions :) 

May the 4th be tasty

So yesterday I blogged about our day out in Glasgow and how Agent D missed out on the Starwars fun. 

On the train journey home, Agent M and I were trying to work out what we could make that was Starwars themed.

Princess Leia buns?
Light saber biscuits?
Wookie Cookies?

Oh if only I had more than a days notice ... then I remembered. I have a box of cookie cutters ... INCLUDING STARWARS!!


So today Agent M and I donned the aprons and got busy baking. 

Unfortunately some of the cookies decided to spread in the oven so a few of the faces were unrecognisable. 

Not one to admit defeat, I had a rummage through my baking cupboard and thankfully I had some left over ready to roll icing from Agent M's birthday cake. 

Along with some food colouring (and cocoa powder for chewie) I actually think they turned out alot better than just left with imprints.

The agents seem very pleased and ive got it on good authority that they are "super tasty"

And the Winner is ....

During the Easter holidays we took a trip up to the Lego store in Glasgow. They were running a find the bunny competition and we entered ... a few weeks later, i received an email saying "Congratulations, you won a prize"

Safe to say Agent M was beyond excited.

Since we had to go up to collect his prize, we decided we should make a day of it and what a day it turned out to be :)

With 15 minutes to spare before the train, we went for a much needed caffeine top-up for Mama (which of course means a Chocolate babychino for Agent M). These little 50p hot chocolates are his favourite cause according to him, "its like [he's] got a grown up drink but with chocolate". Just wait till he discovers a White Chocolate Mocha. 

We get to the Lego shop and, if I'm completely honest, I'm expecting him to get a little figure or a keyring or something small like that.

I mentally calculated how much money i had to skim off the food budget to fund today's trip and had ear-marked £6 for the pick-a-brick wall to make the trip worth it to him. We find one of the staff and explain to her about the email which we showed as proof that he won and she says to Agent M that he has £20 to spend on Lego. That was the last thing i expected him to get. His little head almost exploded as he started to look about to see what caught his eye.

Boom! Straight to the Ninja turtles section to pick out something ... "is this one ok?" he asks the woman. "yeah ... what else would you like?" and i can see his eyes widen as it starts to sink in that he's not limited to one small thing like normal. "Can i maybe have a mixel too?" "You can have 3!". At this point I'm not sure if Agent M is about to hug this woman or burst into tears cause hes so happy. 

He's more than happy with his haul and we decided to put the pick-a-brick money towards getting some lunch. *Its really nice to just be able to have lunch with him, even if it was just a  simple McDonald's cause it gives me some one on one time with him and he comes out with some brilliant conversation topics lol.*

Now, Agent M isn't the only Lego fan we have in our home. Agent D is like a big kid and has boxes of bricks and technics all of his own. My living-room looks like we could own shares in the stuff :) ... so not wanting to waste an opportunity, we decided to take advantage of being up in the city by getting him a set for his birthday. 

Big bonus is that they were running a 15% off selected Star Wars sets as part of their "May the 4th be with you" promotion.

This day is getting better by the second!!

So Agent M takes his role of Lego connoisseur very seriously and starts looking at the different sets. Having the sense to realise that the giant R2-D2 is probably out of our price range he finds a set that we can manage and we go to pay.

"Oh you get a free poster with the set" ... Brilliant (Agent M already got one so now does Agent D). "and cause the amount spent you get a free gift" ... Seriously??? Am gonna get detained for theft at this rate with these freebies lol.

Paid and bagged we go to leave when Agent M spots two Star wars characters and asks to get his photo taken with them. We get one and leave a very happy pair.
Since we were making a day of it, he was asked where he wanted to go next.

"I'm hungry ... how about a McDonald's?" ... hmmm hes after another toy. 

Fair enough i suppose, its a day for treats after all. So we walk down to the St Enoch centre to get food and we keep seeing all these kids in Star wars costumes.

We go to get food and his "toy" is actually a Enid Blyton book (which to be honest he seemed alot happier with).

I guess I'm one of the lucky few who's kid values books.

Above us is Hamley's the big toy store, with posters about Star Wars and all these little costumed kids are going in so we take a walk up after lunch and he meets 2 more characters and gets his photo taken. Inside he gets to play with loads of the toys they have out, including a remote control R2-D2.

All in all a fantastic day was had by both of us. We just wished Agent D didn't have to work so he could enjoy the day too. Still ... We've come up with a plan to make the force strong with him too :)