Feeling the pinch? Cheap and free activity ideas

It is nearing the end of the School Summer Holidays and many families will be feeling the pinch after lots of days out to keep the children entertained during the holiday period.

There are lots of free or frugal activities that you can do – with a little planning and a few everyday items you will have plenty to keep the little ones busy and having lots of fun. Here is a list of our favourite 10 ideas to get you started. 

  • Go on a picnic – you can go anywhere, grab a blanket and head out – to the garden, beach, park, you choose!
  • Arrange a toy swap – most of our children have more toys than they need – why not host a toy swap? Each child brings a toy they are happy to swap for a new toy brought by another child – everyone goes home with a new toy to love!
  • Camp out – Pitch a tent in the garden and have a mini camp, at home! No need to worry about facilities and you always have the option of retreating to the house if needs be!
  • Make a toy ice block – fill an old ice cream container with water, add small plastic toys and pop in the freezer. Once frozen, children will have great fun attacking the ice block with toy hammers.
  • Make mud pies – use old pots and pans, plastic containers and let the kids have great fun making mud pies. You will be amazed just how long this activity will keep them amused for!
  • Make and fly a kite –  why not have a competition to see who can design and then fly the best kite? They needn’t be anything fancy, grab some scraps of paper, felt tip pens, string, sticky tape and sticks and get creative.
  • Press flowers and make a thoughtful card – collect some pretty flowers, press them between paper towels and heavy books until flat and dried. Then make a beautiful card for a loved one.
  • Paint birdhouses – either renovate old birdhouses or buy cheap wooden birdhouses that the kids can paint and hang in your garden. Not only will they look great, it is a good way to encourage children to be interested in nature and wildlife. These would make a perfect gift also.

  • Make water balloon piñatas – fill water balloons and suspend from a tree. Find a suitable pole to take it in turns to hit the balloons – who will get a soaking first?!
  • Attract butterflies to the garden – make a butterfly feeder by finding a suitable spot in the garden for a deep plate – make a mixture of sugar and water at a ratio of 1:10 – simply heat until the sugar has dissolved and allow to cool. Place a sponge in the deep plate and saturate with the sugar mixture. Place slices of over ripe bananas around the sponge. Watch as butterflies start coming to feed! Why not also plant a mixture of annuals and perennials which will blossom into vibrant flowers attracting the prettiest of creatures to your garden.

Check out our Fun With The Children  Pinterest board for lots of other ideas we like.

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Hark! Our New Catalogue Heralds The Start Of Christmas! On Sale Today!

Our new catalogue is out today and features lots of great new products. Here’s a preview.

Who doesn’t like a good pie? No one we know – especially with the football season starting again!
It’s also pie time on the front cover with some tasty prices to tempt on our ever popular enamel pie dish range.

 

 

Featuring the National Trust Cook Book ‘Simply Baking’ with a forward by Sybil Kapoor – chef, food writer, broadcaster and winner of five national awards for her books on cookery writing and food journalism.

You often ask us to include products covering seasonal events like November the 5th and Hallowe’en and this year we’ve got ahead of the high street to launch a special ‘spooktastic’ Hallowe’en range.

The Christmas season comes alive ….


Starting on Page 58 there are some fabulous new products like the ‘Festive Storage Tins’ and the ‘Santa’s Jacket Cutlery Holders’ as well as the return of 2014 top sellers, the hugely popular ‘Colorado Spruce Garland’ and ‘Colorado Christmas Tree’.

 

 

Last year, customers loved our Dancing Christmas Tree, so we’ve included a new version this year at £24.99.  His version of ‘Stupid Cupid’ makes him all the more loveable!

Catalogue 7 is just a taster of the fantastic Christmas range to come. We will unle ash the full magic of Christmas in Catalogue 8!

CHRISTMAS BARGAINS – There are still great bargains to be had in our Xmas clearance section.

Like a huge £10 off the ‘Pinecone String Lights’

Pictured are the ‘Pretty Jewel Cutters’ @ £7.29 – perfect for putting the finishing touches to cakes and a really pretty chopping board, decorated with cute cupcakes (and with an immediate saving of £3.50)’Cupcakes Glass Worktop Saver’ @ £9.99.

Check out the great quality of our new ‘small portion’ cookware – perfect for couples or singles who don’t want to waste good food. (£6.99 – £10.99)

The set of 4 smiley face cheese knives will be a definite talking point as you serve up! £7.29.

JML’s ‘Regis Stone Pans’ are sure to be popular @ £27.99 and £29.99.

 

There are many, many more new products, too many to tell you about, grab your copy of the catalogue and browse!

Please note: Not all of our Catalogue lines feature online and must be ordered via a Distributor.  

 

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Beauty throughout the ages – look after your body

No matter our age, we all deserve some pampering and we need to look after our bodies if we want to keep them looking youthful and revitalised. We’ve made a list of the health and beauty tips we like to follow.

Give your feet a regular pampering

Our feet are often neglected, out of sight, out of mind! Feet  can be so pretty when given a little bit of attention so get them out and pamper them!

 With a fun, summery lollipop design, this double-sided pumice stone has one side which is ideal for tackling problem areas like tough skin on heels, and another for smoothing soles for a beautiful, soft finish.

 

Treat your skin and keep it glowing

Moisturised skin looks fresh and healthy.

Our Fairtrade-certified beauty products are nourishing and kind to skin. With soothing cucumber and cotton, moisturising olive oil, safflower and mango, your skin will be cared for in a way it has never been before.

 

Take time to rest your body

 

A healthy body needs plenty of rest and relaxation to keep you looking youthful. Give your body a break and a treat at the same time with the therapeutic eye mask that can be used either hot or cold to soothe the delicate eye area, reducing puffiness and eye irritation caused by fatigue.

 

Relax your muscles and ease pain

The constant stress and strains of everyday life can leave our bodies aching and stiff. Find time to unwind, rest your muscles and treat any pain.

 

The velour coating of this special microwavable mud gel pack is soft and comfortable on the skin, whilst the gel easily conforms to your body shape for targeted relief.

The hot mud pad can be heated up to the required temperature and placed where required to give you comfort and relief just where it is needed.

 

Look your best to keep you feeling your best

Have you ever noticed how great you feel when you have just had your hair done, are wearing new clothes or have made an extra effort with your make-up?

 

Keep the foldable hair styling tool handy to ensure you are always looking your best. With five accessories including a mirror and various hair styling tools, this handy, compact travel sized tool is perfect for every handbag!

 

Check out our Health & Beauty Pinterest board for lots of other ideas and tips we like. What are your most important beauty regimes? We’d love you to share your tips with us.

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What can you do with a Pineapple skin?

We know that eating fresh fruit is important for our health and well-being, but what is special about pineapple?

Pineapple is a great source of vitamin C, ideal for boosting your immune system, high in fibre and water content, making it a good digestion aid,  as well as being a juicy treat.

If you enjoy the pineapple but don’t like waste, read on, we have the perfect solution to an otherwise wasted skin!

What better way to use the leftover skin of a pineapple than as a drinking vessel for a luxurious  pineapple cocktail or as a pretty bowl for a home-made frozen pineapple delight?

Pineapple Frozen Cream Delight

You will need:

  • 1 cupful of fresh pineapple, chopped finely
  • 200g (7 oz) caster sugar
  • 250ml (8 fl oz) milk
  • 250ml (8 fl oz) double cream, chilled
  • 1 fresh pineapple, cored

Place the sugar and pineapple in a food processor until well combined.

Add the milk and mix until the sugar has dissolved.

In a clean bowl, whisk the cream until stiff. Gently fold this into the pineapple mixture until combined.

Pour the mixture into cored pineapples, cover with cling film and freeze.

Pineapple Cocktail

You will need:

  • 45ml pineapple juice
  • 15ml vodka
  • 15ml orange liqueur
  • 5ml freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Crushed ice
  • 1 fresh pineapple, cored

Mix ingredients together (ideally in a shaker if you have one) and pour in to your freshly cored pineapple skin. Pop in a straw, lie back, and enjoy!

Check out our Staying Cool this Summer and Delicious Recipes Pinterest boards for lots of other ideas and tips we like.

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Time for Tea? – Iced Tea / Refrigerator Tea Recipes

What could be more perfect on a hot day than a refreshing glass of iced tea? Great for bbqs, summer parties or just a relaxing evening in the garden, nothing hits the spot quite like a cool, long drink, with a slice. The perfect accompaniment to a warm summer’s evening.

We’ve picked a couple of our favourite recipes to share but try searching the internet for ‘iced tea recipes’ for inspiration and be creative! Simply pop a slice of lemon or lime on the side of your glass, pop in an umbrella and enjoy your tea!

Apple & Mint Tea

2 cups boiling water

2 green tea bags

1 inch grated ginger

1 grated apple

1 Sprig mint

1 cup apple juice

Honey to taste

Cups of ice

 

Combine tea bags, ginger, apple, mint and boiling water in a jug/pitcher. Allow to steep for 5 minutes.

Add apple juice and honey to taste.

Pour tea into glasses already filled with ice.

 

Peach Tea

3 tea bags

6 cups of water

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

3 fresh peaches, sliced

 

Place the sugar, 1 cup of water and peaches in a pan and bring to the boil. Stir until the sugar dissolves and the peaches are crushed.

Remove from the heat and allow to stand for 30mins-1hr.

Boil 6 cups of water and allow the tea bags to steep for 5 minutes.

Remove tea bags and allow tea to cool in the fridge.

Use a sieve to strain the peach syrup mixture and mix into the cooled tea.

Serve in glasses over ice.

Refrigerator Tea

Have you tried Refrigerator Tea? An alternative way to making iced tea is to brew the tea with cool water and then allow it to sit in the refrigerator overnight, hence the name of ‘Refrigerator Tea’. This has the advantage of the tea being cold without the addition of ice and you can make a big pitcher which you can keep in the fridge ready.

Check out our Staying Cool this Summer and Delicious Recipes Pinterest boards for lots of other ideas and tips we like.

 

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Car Travel with Children – Do you have all these essential items ready in your car?

Keeping a few important things in your car can make car journeys and trips less stressful. Being prepared can often save you time and upset. Check out our handy list for those things you shouldn’t leave home without.

Blankets Keep a large blanket or 2 in the car. Ideal for emergencies or even for late night trips when it starts to get get a bit chilly in the car for the children. You can also use for impromptu picnics.

Games/Books Keep some travel games and a selection of books and music in the car for those long and boring trips or for when you get stuck in traffic.

Refreshments Keep a stash of drinks and snacks handy. You never know when those little ones will need some refreshment, especially if you were to break down or get held up in traffic.

Spare Clothes A spare set of clothes for everyone is essential on any long car journey. You never know when someone will be sick and require a change!

Sick Bowl Never leave home without one! Keep handy somewhere in the car for those emergencies. Ideally keep a bowl with a lid to limit any smells until you are able to stop and empty the bowl. Our Worktop Scrap Bin could be just the thing you need!

Wet Wipes Wet wipes can be used for virtually everything! Spills, sticky fingers, vomit, you name it, wet wipes are your best friend for dealing with a quick clean up job.

Chargers Make sure you have a charger for all your necessary devices, especially your phone and sat nav.

First Aid Box Little accidents can happen no matter where you are so always be prepared with a handy first aid kit containing at least plasters and wipes to clean up small cuts and grazes.

Check out our Travel Pinterest board for lots of other ideas and tips we like.

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It’s hotting up in the garden this month….

With August often being the hottest month of the year you can really get out and enjoy your garden at last.  Whether you like sitting in the shade of a leafy tree or sunning yourself on the lounger, if you have been following our monthly gardening tips, there should be plenty of  glorious colours and gorgeous smells in your garden to take delight in.

And to keep the garden happy and looking beautiful this month:

  • Continue to regularly water any hanging baskets – use water from water butts if possible
  • Keep bird baths, ponds and water features topped up
  • Keep on top of weeds
  • Deadhead flowering plants in hanging baskets and border plants and prune climbing roses once they have finished flowering.

Some new products for your garden this month….

Lend a helping hand to your hungry feathered friends. This novel bird feeder is made from terracotta and can be mounted onto a wall, tree or fence.


This charming cat and butterfly decoration is the purrrfect accessory for your garden. The butterfly is mounted onto a spring, to give the effect it is fluttering away from the cat in the wind.

Simply cut the bag, water and grow! Help your plants develop stronger root systems and retain nutrients with this coir mixture.

For more tips and ideas take a look at our  In The Garden  board on Pinterest.

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Keep Food at its Best and Reduce Waste

Do you prepare and cook too much food or buy too much and find its gone past its best before you have had chance to use it? We all hate waste but did you know that,

We throw away 7 million tonnes of food and drink from our homes every year in the UK, and more than half of this is food and drink we could have eaten.

Wasting this food costs the average household £470 a year, rising to £700 for a family with children, the equivalent of around £60 a month.”

-Source Lovefoodhatewaste.com

With that in mind and rising food prices, we have been looking at how you can keep your food at its best and reduce waste with the help of some handy products and ideas.

Plan ahead and write a weekly menu. Work out what you will need to buy and create a shopping list – and stick to it when you go shopping!

Store leftovers in sealed containers in the fridge and make a meal the next day from what you have left.

Be flexible in your menu. Whilst it can be beneficial to plan your menu ahead, be prepared to move things around depending on what you have to use up.

Freeze Most foods can be frozen ready for use at another time.

Try our storage solutions Choose from our  potato bags, green veg bags, cracker drawer, the cheese keeper and much much more – all specially designed to keep all of your foods fresh and lasting longer.

Check your food cupboards and fridge/freezer before shopping to make sure you only buy what you require.

Be creative and try new recipes based on the foods that you have left in your fridge to use up. Fruit and vegetables are especially versatile and can be used in many recipes and dishes.

Understand the difference between Use By and Best Before Dates. Foods with a Use By date must be eaten by the date stated for safety and shouldn’t be eaten after this date. Best Before dates give an indication of when a food may have gone past its best but is still safe to eat past this date.

Check out our Reduce Food Waste Pinterest board for lots of other ideas and tips we like.

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Choose a Lovely Day for a Picnic

Now that the weather is warming up, it’s the perfect time to take advantage of the sunshine, grab a picnic blanket and head outside.  Your local park, a trip down to the beach, a spot in the countryside or even your own garden can make the perfect picnic pitch.

Picnic Bag and Mat

 

Top Picnic Picks

Sandwiches are generally considered a picnic staple, but there’s no reason why you can take along what ever you fancy!  Quiche, Sausage rolls, chicken drumsticks, cheese and crackers, salad, pate, fruit – the options are endless.  Just make sure you pack it away in a good cool bag, there’s nothing worse than warm cheese!

Cool Bag

 

A few tasty picnic treats for you to try

Quick and easy  potato salad

  • 750g new potatoes
  • 75ml buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp light mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon caster sugar
  • 100g sliced radishes

Cook potatoes until cooked through.  Whisk buttermilk, mayonnaise, vinegar and caster sugar.  Add the cool potatoes and add radishes.  Store in an air tight container so there are no spills!

Delicious ham and asparagus sub rolls

  • asparagus tips
  • good quality ham
  • butter
  • lemon juice
  • mini sub rolls
  • little salad cream

Cook asparagus in boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes.  Wrap a piece of ham around 2 asparagus tips.  Mash butter with lemon juice and spread on to the sub roll. Add the asparagus wrap to each roll. like a hot dog.  Add a little salad cream if desired.

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Throw a Summer Party…..for the Children!

Now it is time for something for the children! Why not throw them their very own summer party? Or maybe they have a summer birthday and you want to celebrate at home? Here are some of our favourite ideas to make your party impress even the coolest kids!

Gummy Bear Jelly and ice lollies. Make up a batch of jelly and stir in some gummy bears. Fill jelly moulds and allow to set. Alternatively, using an ice lolly mould, place gummy bears in the moulds. Fill the moulds with lemonade and freeze for a really fun and coooooool treat. Why not try some other of your child’s favourite sweets? Gummy snakes and bugs or cola bottles?! If you are throwing a themed party these can be a great way of tying in with the theme.

Cake Push Pops, The latest craze in sweet treats, cake push pops are lots of fun! Use the mould to layer sponge, cream, sweets, icing, fruit – all of your child’s favourites! Simply push up the stem to eat.

Windmill straws in mocktails. Kids love to feel grown up so why not give them their very own grown up drinks?  Simply create a mocktail the children will like (anything containing lemonade, a dash of orange juice and some freshly chopped strawberries, apple and pineapple always goes down well) pop in a glass, add a funky, novelty windmill straw and the kids will be made up.

Transform your ordinary eggs into stars and hearts! Our plastic egg moulds are great for kids and adults alike. Simply boil your egg and whilst pliable place into the mould, close the lid, and voila! Eggs made fun!

Make mini, kids-sized sandwiches – they make the perfect party treat, fill with a variety of fillings and cut (or use our mini sandwich maker to make some really cool shapes) and serve! Mini sandwiches taste so much better than normal sandwiches, right?

 

Check out our Barbeque and Party Inspiration Pinterest board for lots of other ideas and tips we like.

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