Tie swirl…

Ties curled up.

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Out in the garden…

What a great feeling to be able to just go out into the garden and play for ages!

This Monday and Tuesday have been amazing Spring days and the first we’ve been able to make good use of in the garden. I’ve even hung out 3 loads of washing on the line!

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Little Bundles charity…

I’ve been meaning to blog about this for ages. More than a year ago Claire setup a charity called ‘Little Bundles’ and it’s turned into a big success. It aim is to help families and pregnant women by providing much needed baby clothes, toiletries and other equipment. The families tend to be pretty desperate and the charity has just past the 100 families helped mark.

Claire’s been doing a brilliant job pushing the thing for ages and has managed to recruit a small army of volunteer mum’s. There are various jobs, such as collecting the items and distributing them (in pack form, made up of a range of needed items) to wherever they’re needed.

It must be making a massive difference to many people and i’m proud of her for taking the time and effort to set it up and keep it going. Check out the website and if you can, help them out.

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Choosing clothes…

It seems once a year Claire and I make the effort to go to the shops and sort out our wardrobes! Mostly we don’t buy clothes throughout the year, in a large part due to never having any money, but the January sales seemed like a good opportunity to get basically twice the number of clothes for the same price!

For me, it was about altering my look at work, but as Claire said, it was about merging the work and home styles together, so there wasn’t a defined ‘image’ for either one. I suppose it’s also about being more myself and not something I or other people think I should be.

So in true logical Matt style, I did a load of internet research into styles and fashion (most of which is ridiculous!) and after finding some really expensive styles, I tried to go for similar looks at much much cheaper prices. Then I went around our new(ish) designer outlet centre (Gloucester Quays) to just look around, and also into the town centre. Once i’d done this, I worked out what I thought I wanted to change the wardrobe and more importantly, how much I had to spend! We both got the same amount and went to work.

Two days later, I went back into town, then the Quays and managed to get most of the things I wanted, apart from two pairs of trousers and a cardigan. Since then, I found a cardy on the internet, so it’s just trousers left. I’m not going for jeans this year, or corduroy, as I want a change from normal!

Also H&M do a good range of organic cotton clothes. I got a spring time jacket for £30 and a couple of long sleeve shirts (£10 each). Amazingly, Primark also provided a good source of ideas, with some cool shirts for like £4 each!

Anyway, that’s about the extent of my clothes related blogging for the year!

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Amazing new stuff…

We went over to a friends house (who is also a work colleague) on the weekend and managed to pick a load of unwanted second hand toys and clothes for the boys!

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I can’t get over how generous they are. There was a whole load of clothes and coats etc and a selection of pop-up tents, with connecting tunnels. They all fold down to a single ikea-sized bag and are very light. They’ve had loads of fun with it already and the cat has been eploring as well.

There was also a cool water aqueduct toy made by Brio which both boys were quite impressed with. Jamie got a bit possessive over the crane bit of it and even took it to bed with him!

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New clothes drying system…

Ok, the new clothes drying system is finally decided on, after months of thinking about how to best dry our huge amount of washing! The whole idea is to ditch using the clothes tumble dryer, as it uses a fair bit of electricity, with the cost and environmental implications.

We produce a lot of washing right now, especially with the kids going through loads of clothes. We needed a system where we can dry clothes outside in any weather, given that outside drying is very effective. The outside moisture level is less than indoors + the wind is a key part of it.

I was trying to design a system of multiple hanging lines, to be fixed to the back of the bathroom, but this is a fairly restricted area and is good for the sun, therefore growing food! The side of the house would have been good, but given we’re hopefully getting the render done, this wouldn’t be able to go there either.

So, keep things simple, get a rotary clothes dryer with a rain cover! Thanks to our friends the MK’s for that! Lots of places sell these things and lots of good reviews.

This friend of ours has already switched over to the new system – she fed back that that a whole load was dried within the day and some more as well. You can also leave it over night with no worries. I left a load out yesterday on a standard clothes horse and it was dry by early afternoon.

The equation for working out the cost of the dryer each year is as follows:

Power consumption of dryer (in Kilowatts) X Electric cost per unit (roughly £0.09) X hours operating per week X 52 = annual cost (£) of running dryer.

We’ve got a grade A John Lewis dryer which is a condenser dryer with a heat pump, which recycles some of the heat and power. It was basically one of the most energy efficient models when we bought it and uses 1200 Watts. A lot of other models use around 2000 Watts or more. I’ve worked out ours, based on 5, 6 or 7 hours operating per week, as it varied a bit.

5 hours = £28.10

6 hours = £33.70

7 hours = £39.30

I reckon we were at roughly 5 hours per week, as it’s roughly 2.5 hours per complete cycle and there were maybe 2 of those per week (as an average over the year).

So, this could be anywhere from £50 to £200 for less efficient dryers (based on individual usage) + the cost of buying the dryer in the first place and getting it fixed every now and again. So, a new rotary dryer and cover will be roughly £70, but we’re going to sell our dryer for hopefully at least a couple of hundred pounds + we won’t be using the electric as much.

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