Saturday, 29 November 2008

Buy Nothing Day

Today is buy nothing day. I failed. I would very often not be buying on a Saturday and I am not a shopper on any day but today I bought items by the armful. I went to MFI this morning. MFI are in receivership and if I could save a job or even postpone the end of a job for one person then I owuldnt go but my non visit wouldnt help anyone and I have a guest pathroom to fit out. First bathroom in view was still £816 after the 80%. Really no good to me. I was looking for a toilet and hand basin for about £50, in total. However I did find a lovely china bowl, a jug, a bread bin, a rolling pin, a pestle and mortar set, a whisk and various other kitchen goodies which are used as dressing on the kitchen sets. Big big bargain, almost free. My husband visited with me this afternoon, we found the shop had been stripped. We bought two sets of taps, cost yesterday was £108 & £115, total cost today £21. I dont get how the 80% discount works either but there were bargain a plenty.

This week I also had a new kitchen work juicer from freecycle (to make up for it I freecycled a toilet and basin which were brand new but well too big for the area that we have.I also have a shower tray to go)

I am going to try to have a buy nothing week to make up for missing the buy nothing day. Postage costs of goods sold on eBay are excluded, not my expenditure so I dont count it. For the rest there must be no top up shopping, no emergency lunch purchases becuase i forgot to bring food to work, no petrol. Its a habit I would like to get into every week not just this week.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

DIY Friday

Since our youngest son is full time at college now and the eldest is working full, full, full time (58 hours a week usually)so there isn't much help for my husband as he carries on renovating this old house around us. This week he fitted a new door frame between the sitting room and the kitchen and also hung a door and fitted door furniture ( neither of which he likes to do)in the guest bathroom. Now he is stuck without a little help from a gopher. Tomorrow I have a day off to assist with the rest of the door frame (all the fancy bits around the edge) and also hang the really long curtain poles. One of them is 3.6m so its definitely a two 'man' operation. If all goes well we will finish in half day. I can then get a head start on the weekend work of cleaning, laundry.....

Thursday evening is usually my attic declutter day, however I had a migraine in the night, last night and my head feels like it is hanging on by a thread, so no attic for me tonight. If I get a cleaning head start tomorrow then Saturday can take over as attic day plus I can start finding the Christmas decorations. My youngest son and I plan to really go over the top with Christmas deccies. Last year was ill at Christmas and he says Christmas just didn't feel Christmassey enough so this year we will go crazy.

I have to go to my bed now as my eldest son and his friend are building a fibreglass guitar in the conservatory. The smell is lovely but I don't think it is doing my head any good at all, so time to run away.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Do things your own way

I hope anyone reading the last post did realise that I am as far from a perfect housewife as possible ( I vacuum the inside of the freezer, apparently this is not a normal thing)however I make my own way in the world and it works fine for us. I would encourage anyone to do what suits them.

There is a new task which I know irritates me but which I feel I want to do nonetheless. I am wondering how I can change my approach to making packed lunches. I still see it as a burden but as it is no different, in reality, from cooking dinner then I don't see why I should. It is my new challenge to turn this around in my head.

I have started to re-knit a bag with the wool I bought back in the summer. So far I still have to stop between each row and massage my fingers but I am going to use up all of the wool I bought before I make a decision on whether knitting is viable for me or whether I am just making my joints worse.

Some of the things I advertised on eBay have sold. All in all I am having a really good week, hope everyone else is too.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Lizzie D - perfect houswife!

I know its not true, for a start I am not a housewife, at least not for longer than a weekend at a time. However since I have been writing this diary there have been attitude changes which have made me and my home get on a lot better than we used to. I cant remember if I started to change and then started my diary or if the change came from putting thoughts on 'paper'.

My week goes something like this:-

I get to work at about 8am and home by about 6pm. I don't do much to the house during the evenings. After work I cook dinner for us all and stack the dishwasher. Near the end of the week I make a dent in the laundry. I have my breakfast at work during the week. When I get to work I switch on my computer and as it is opening up I make my coffee and toast or cereal. I have previous days leftover dinner for lunch (we have a kitchen with combination microwave & toaster at work - very enlightened employer). Errands to the town and phone calls are completed during lunch breaks at work.

On Thursday evening my youngest son gets a few things out of the attic for me to sort though and give away. The attic was massively over crowded because we have been building on and renovating the house for 10 years. I wont know what to do with Thursday nights once it is back to normal.

Saturday is main cleaning day where everything is scrubbed within an inch of its life. My steam mop is the secret weapon and I don't require any leaning products with it. I vacuum after steaming (steaming seems to release things which need to be vacuumed so if you vacuum first then you actually have to vacuum twice)and also vacuum all of the carpeted areas. Saturday is also errand day for anything which hasn't been finished during work lunch breaks.

I notice I dont have many pictures of the house but this is my eldest playing guitar in the room we can the conservatory, which is bigger than a the rest of the ground floor and isnt at all conservatoryish.

Sunday - anything I missed yesterday plus any targeted 'sort outs' such as bottom of the wardrobe or under bed storage. Sunday afternoon is baking/complicated cooking time. Today I need to bake cakes as I have been receiving complaints from the kids that there is nothing nice to eat! Tch!

Sunday afternoon activity - We make lamb sausages

I have learnt a few thing that make my life easier to manage:-

1)Get on with it - Just get up and get on with it and stop whining - this was a revelation.

2)Delegate - I can do it at work so why not sometimes at home. Fixing things is not my area. Neither is car maintenance.

3)Prepare - Take something out of the freezer before going to work, ensure you have washing powder. This includes having the right tools for the job. My steam mop takes hours off the floor cleaning and saves me £££ in cleaning solutions.

4)Be realistic - I cant do everything. If I were at home all day then the place would look better, the garden would be more productive, the food might have a bit more variety. There would be more baking. These things are for weeks off work not all the time. I actually cant do everything.

5)Notebook/Lists - Write it all down but also keep it. You can look back to check things. This is especially helpful if your are menopausal and forget everything (which I am and it was a real shock to the system as my memory was amazing before. Good thing is that all my old books can be re-read as I don't know the endings, same with films.)

Friday, 21 November 2008

Friday Night Planner

I like my weekend list. It adds structure to my thought and actions and makes everything far more manageable.
Plus I find I am more likely to get things done if I have publicized my plans.

My son decided this week that he was going to make a fibreglass guitar. So he and some friends were making lot of noise in the conservatory as they built the mold. Afterwards my son said 'Mike said his mum would have gone nuts if he did anything like this in the house'. Mikes mums house always looks beautiful and immaculate whereas our house looks pretty good as long as I don't let any of my men/boys through the front door, to mess it up. After some thought my son said 'but i really love our house, its a proper home. What the point of everything being perfect if you cant do anything there'. I was really pleased but used the opportunity to say that our house could look 'Sunday morning good' all the week if the men folk of the house just took a little more care. We will see but I thought I saw something in his eyes that suggested that the message had finally gone in.

Anyway, back to my list.

Vacuum and steam floors as appropriate
Clean bathroom
Wipe over kitchen
Top up shopping-cheese, cat food, bread.
Pick up prescription from the surgery.
Drop some clothes at the Salvation Army (third bag this week - the attic is getting more accessible every day).
Trip to the Asian supermarket for green chillies.
Sort through the remiang cooking apples and make stewed apples with anything which is still okay.

Time to get started

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Winter preparation - How it progresses

The nights are getting a bit colder now and I have had to scrape ice form the windscreen a couple of times. Winter is on its way although on the South coast of England its never too harsh, a couple of degrees below zero is our limit, usually.

My winter coat and been found & will be washed and dried this coming weekend. It is a dry clean only but I think its old enough now to be able to handle the washing machine on delicate.

I have reminded my husband to put anti-freeze in the cars. This normally carries on until about March when I give up.

Next weekend the winter weight quilt will be found (hopefully) bagged up in the attic and bed time will be warm and sunugglyagain.

The house is insulated so intensely that for a good bit of the year I am trying to cool it down so it nice feeling a little cold form time to time.

I have hung door curtains on the both of the doors from the sitting room. They need shortening (weekend too, I am going to be busy)but they really help it to warm up quickly in here. We haven't needed heating yet (except for the first night back form holiday)but it is still pretty good in here, on the whole.

I have a curtain available to block of the front door but am waiting for the pole to be fixed up. Tomorrow may be pole hanging day (yahoo - how can that be so exciting).

I still haven't found the curtains for the conservatory but I am spending tomorrow evening in the attic and wont give in until I find them.

I need to do one last cut of the lawn before winter but when I am home it is always wet.her job for the weekend.

Just remember, more curtain information. I have hung an extra set of linings to the curtains in the front windows. I am wondering if I am am getting just a bit curtains obsessive but they are really good insulators and very affordable, plus of course in summer I can change them over with something lightweight.

, One last thingI have a couple of Christmas Preparation things on my list too. I have started a present/food shopping list and have been practicing various recipes on the kids.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Soap Update

I was writing a little while ago about buying Aleppo soap, the kind that I use myself at home here, and selling it though mail order, maybe eBay. I asked my husband to see about having a shipment sent over, just as a trial run through. He has just told me he has order 50 kilo for me! All beautiful, handmade soap, from the oldest soap makers on the planet (check out this, not very detailed, article on Wikipedia Aleppo Soap), which is great but where do I store 50 kg of soap. My house is pretty small anyway & I will need to keep this dry and at the right temperature. Oh dear, but looking on the bright side, at least I said soap, there are far worse things I could be storing 50kg of!

Sunday, 16 November 2008

What a little fat girl can do for the environment....

As my children are now 18 & 16 it might be about time to accept that I am not going to lose the weight I put on when I was pregnant without a bit more effort. You may have guessed I am making my New Year plans already.

Our diet is quite healthy already so I portion control could be the way ahead. My husband has lost 25kg by cutting down on portion size. I think I might be a little piggy! I obviously eat less than the kids but they are teen aged boys and use up a lot of calories. I don't get enough exercise either. By the time I get home from work I really don't feel a bit like going to the gym or anywhere else.

I really want to walk to and from work. Its 2.7miles so it should be do-able but I do have a really bad back. However if I loose weight then maybe my back improves. I will also save a tank of petrol every two weeks. Disadavantages (apart from awful back ache) will be a lot of time spent walking. I usually get to work at around 8am and work until 6pm. So maybe (definitely) longer hours out of the house.

I give my son a lift to the station in the morning. He will probably be happy to walk with me but we will have to leave awful early to get there in time for his train. I also wont be able to run errands so easily if I dont have the car avilable to me in daytime - or maybe I can just get organised and not need to.

Can I stick with it? I might start a couple of days a week initially.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Friday night is .....

Planning night. I remember when it was party night but I like it as planning night. One of the best things about turning 40 was so many new things suddenly becoming interesting. Lists were just one of them ( I toyed with buying a caravan but grew out of the idea)and one that has become very useful as my memory seems to have left home too.

So, to my Friday night list of weekend plans-
Clean mirrors and windows with Cathy's recipe window cleaner.
Finish, dry and return laundry (return to family members I mean)
Buy two more curtain pole and curtain hooks.
Find and hang remaining curtains.
Vacuum right through.
Mop hard floors.
Wipe kitchen worktops, fronts etc
Wipe over bathroom.
Buy shampoo & conditioner from discount chemist in the town.
Post letter. Lunch! (not sure what - lets see what happens.
Dig about more in attic.
Drop DVD player into charity shop.
Take eBay photos ( I did this on Monday but they were awful as I had to use the flash. I haven't been in the house in daylight since last weekend so this is my first chance.)

Totally unrelated picture of my little village in Crete.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Energy economy

I have been reading on Down to Earth about a mini project of Rhonda's, where readers record gas and electric power readings for two normals days and then two days of being careful. Its very worthy but and I think it would be useful but I don't think I can honestly cut down anymore, except for my famous Achilles heel.

It is mid November and so far the central heating has been on for two hours this year. This was when we came back from holiday and the house was so cold where it had been empty for a week. I kept the heating on full for a couple of hours just to allow it to come up to 'room temperature' again. We also had a cold snap a while back which resulted in a few evenings of gas fire usage.

For cooking I mostly use the top of the cooker. If I have enough to fill the big oven then I use it but otherwise I have got the kids using the combination microwave (which we hate but are getting used too).

I could economise a bit more I guess if I gave up my laptop, or told the kids not to use theirs but I am contents that they switch everything off as it is not required.

We have an electric shower which is mostly used by me and our youngest son. Beloved and the oldest usually shower at work. Beloved is a swimming teacher so he has way too many hot showers in a day to want another when he gets home (yes, I do let him use the facilities at half term). My eldest son builds fibre glass catamarans so he is too yucky to get in the car home without a shower. I could shower at work but it seems a bit odd as I don't run or cycle to get to work.

What else can I do? I don't need to ask really, I know exactly where I waste. I work really long, hard hours and ,my weakness, I hate wet washing hanging about the house making the place cold and damp. I wash from Friday so that I am home here to get everything dried on my line but if it rains constantly or is so cold that it just doesn't dry then it goes in the drier. In my defence it is a very efficient dryer.

My other serious indulgence is bathing. I love my bath. I have a shower every day but once or twice a week I have a bath before bed. I have really cut down as I could easily have one a day in an ideal world. I am hoping to get the grey water run out in to the garden so that at least the plants benefit from my indulgence.

I have made one big improvement to my shopping habits which I am hoping will balance of some of my areas of indulgence a bit. We drink gallons of water but everyone likes bottled water. I was spending about £10 a week on water at one time. The £10 bothered me but all of the bottles bothered me more. We tried a jug for a year but it wasn't nice and it took too long for how much we all get though. Finally I bit the bullet and bought a new fridge (A efficiency - yay)which filter and chills water. So now, we are drinking gallons with minimal fuss and expense.

I know water is a limited resource etc but i am pretty sure it is still better to drink gallons of water than gallons of pretty much anything else. about my bath? Has it really got to go?

I am also working on an indoor drying area to deal with my drying issues. But what about my lovely baths? Do they really have to go??

Monday, 10 November 2008

Making some time


We had a really good day yesterday. Beloved had two cancellations at work so was home quite promptly ( but doesn't get paid for missed lessons - not so good.) We headed for the craft fair a bit earlier than I was expecting. It was in the grounds of Broadlands House, home of the Lord & Lady Brabourne, and previously home to Lord Mountbatten of Burma.

The marquees were not close by the house but we had so impressive views of some of the grounds (thank you, Capability Brown) I have visited the house before and its really nice, not particularly grand and quite the sort of place I could imagine making myself at home. There were several marquees of stall but not too many craftmen doing anything interesting to watch (last few hours of the last day of a winter craft fair - hmm, was I expecting more.) There were also smaller tents outside with ferrets, cute but smelling a bit ferrety for my liking, and owls. The owls were really beautiful, standing just a couple of feet from us & posing (happily?) for photos to raise money for an Owl charity. There was food but not as good as we had waiting for us at home, so its was homeward bound to our beef stew.

Beloved and I don't see each other so much. I work from around 8am to 6pm. He goes to work at around 3pm & can be gone until 10pm some days. Weekends are his busiest time. He used to work until late on Sunday too but now is finished by 2pm. So we decided we will make an effort on A Sunday afternoon to do something together. Not always a craft show, maybe just a walk, or gather chestnuts, but not visiting others, just time to ourselves for a change.

I am gathering few ideas. Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market, and Ice Skating starts at the end of the month. That's definitely on my list.

We will have been married 20 years on January 20th and we just started dating

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Broadlands Christmas Craft Show

I really cracked on with my housework yesterday (and didn't get too sidelined by reading books/the Internet as very often happens to me.) so today looks like turning into a treat day for me.

First mission this morning is too make sure all of the laundry is dry and ready to be put away, second thing is to empty & re stack the dishwasher (Beloved comes from a culture where dishes can only be washed under running water so the dishwasher is a lower use of resource alternative - or so I keep telling myself as I don't much like washing up). Then I am off to the Hampshire Farmer Market in Winchester. I really enjoy a bit of a traipse around there & am intending to buy a crab or two for sandwiches as I a bit of a sea food craving going on. I am still counting this as work though because I might be in line for another treat later on.

After the market I have to come back and clean all of the new sanitary ware for the guest bathroom which Beloved is working on. Its not dirty dirty but has been stored outside at certain times during its life.

Beloved should be home at around 2pm and if its not raining we will be going to the Broadland Christmas Craft Show. We used to go to a lot of this sort of thing as we really like to see the craftsmen at work and the opportunity to see (and maybe even buy - shock horror) objects which are a little bit different. The fair is held in Marquees on the lawn of Broadlands Estate so it get a bit boggy when its wet.

After that we come home again and I do my eBay extravaganza.

So its all good today, even the stuff which I am counting as work Not sure why I do this, do I think I don't deserve so many treats? Maybe. Anyway It works for me.

Must go as I have a tight schedule to fit all my fun in today!

Friday, 7 November 2008


Home alone on Friday night, just a half hour away from QI (which is why I am not yet in my bed). A good time for some list making.
Bathroom clean
Buy curtain poles (helping to warm the conservatory up with heavy curtains).
Vacuum right through upstairs and down.
Mop hard floors.
Hang secondary linings on the sitting room curtains.
5 items from the attic
Start searching out a new mortgage.
and if get through all that then I will start photographing my jewellery for eBay. Hopefully someone will like them for affordable Christmas gifts. I also bought some ribbon and cellophane bags to package my Aleppo olive oil soap. Its it fantastic stuff so hopefully someone will want that too. I am expecting Sunday to be an eBay day.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Am I frugal, simple or just plain tight??

I am back! and back with a minor relaunch. I loved my blog template but it was so inflexible that it sadly had to go. I am also updating my blog roll shortly, so anyone who knows I visit and wonders why I don't admit it, I will soon, I just get a bit behind.

I read quite a few simple blogs, some frugal ones too and the odd money saving one (money saving like in best mortgage rather than like rice and beans for dinner.)I wondering if I am green, simple, frugal or what. I don't need to decide, I can just carry on being who I am. A mother who cares about the planet, trying to be a little sensible with my resources (cash, time, possessions....)to make tomorrow more secure for us. Precis that to - just trying to do the best for my family.

The holiday was lovely. The house is finished & landscaping should be finished by the summer. We are applying for planning consent to rent the house out for holidays. My friend Sue is happy to manage the place for us (a bit of extra income is always useful for farmers). She has already registered me for tax (thanks, I think). So maybe we pay the mortgage off a little quicker when this is in action. This is part of my long term plan. My dad also wants to renovate an old house on the property. He thinks we should live in the old house and rent out the family house but I don't think he really means it. I couldn't live 3000 miles from my parents when they are already 80. It was okay 20 years ago but now they might need I wont be running away.

Other frugal updates. I am looking for a new mortgage as my mortgage company is increasing rates when the bank is knocking 1.5% of the base rate. Not sure I am going to get one though as lending seems to have got a whole lot dirtier lately.

I have a few more frugal schemes in the pipeline. I have listed 20 games and 10 books on Amazon. I have 15 necklaces and pairs of earrings to list on eBay. I have already bought most of my Christmas presents, except the kids and the old fella. Things are not looking too bad and the house is looking much happier since it started getting a little more empty!

Okay, my frame of mine is now sufficiently positive to go off and start making list. Since I turn 45 (and cant keep a single thought in my head) lists are my friend for every occasion.

My life

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