When old stuff does come in handy

Hello Friends,

If you have followed my blog for a while you will know that I have an ongoing battle with clutter.  I still find it hard to let go of things in case they ‘will come in handy’.

At the moment I’m in training for my first ever 5k.  It’s a bit out of my comfort zone, but afer a bit of a shaky start I have been going out 3 times a week every week to run along the canal, running a little bit further every week.  I’m beginning to enjoy this as there is always something to see.

2015-07-17 18.45.33Today it has been raining heavily.  I was determined to go out running, and so I dug out my oldest T shirt, my oldest joggers (which have holes in them) and my very old mac which should have been chucked years ago.  It leaks like a sieve, but everything did the job.  This was a case where I was glad I had kept some tatty old things which it didn’t matter if they got wet and muddy – everything just got dumped in the wash.

What do you keep ‘just in case’ that you find yourself using?

Until next time, Tawney x

Boomerang kids

Hello Friends,

Edie came home from Uzbekistan last week.  Her year living as an ex-pat teaching assistant is over.  She’s having a few weeks off and will then be looking for a permanent job.  She’s now pretty fluent in Russian and wants to use her languages, so we hope she will find something before too long.

Until then, she is back home living with us.  It’s all a bit odd after 5 years away, but there isn’t any other choice until she finds work which will pay the rent.  It never occurred to me that we would have the kids boomerang back to us, but we are learning to adjust, helped by the fact Edie makes brilliant cakes.

OH and I discussed the other day whether we might be able to help a bit towards a house deposit.  We always said that when the girls finished university, we wouldn’t be able to contribute any further as we want to retire before we are 80.  Now we are not so sure – it’s trying to balance wanting to stop working with trying to help the girls.  Luckily neither wants to settle down yet.  I think Edie might well work abroad again, so there is time to do a bit of saving.

So we are going to carry on living as frugally as we can and saving – whether it goes towards letting us retire a bit earlier or a house deposit remains to be seen.

Have your adult children returned home to live?  How did you find it?

Until next time, Tawney x

Shopping is boring

Hello Friends,

I’ve somehow or other got dragged into running a 5k in October.  I do a fair bit of cycling, but I’m not really a runner.  I’ve had to start very slowly.

I’ve got two pairs of very old (10 years +) tracksuit bottoms.  They are comfy, but now have holes in them.  The event I’ve entered in is called ‘Run or Dye’ and you get blasted with colour all round so I will be wearing a pair for that after which they will go in the bin.  What I did realise was that I could probably treat myself to a new pair of joggers after 10 years.

I’ve been putting off going shopping for joggers because I just couldn’t face it and have had a lot on recently.  Yesterday I decided to get on with it and headed off to the shops armed with some M & S vouchers.  I’m always amazed at the way people walk round zombie like on a Saturday afternoon clutching bags of stuff.  I can’t get my head round shopping as a leisure activity.  It’s just boring, boring, boring.

Luckily I found some joggers in my size (not always easy as I’m quite tall) and my vouchers covered the cost.  As soon as I’d bought them, I was straight out and home again, no hanging about.

What do you think of shopping as a ‘leisure activity’?

Until next time, Tawney x

Growing again

Hello Friends,

Last year I didn’t grow any veg.  I just couldn’t fit it all in.  This year I decided I would make time, but I would limit myself just to a few types of my favourite vegetables.

I bought a few packets of seeds, but somehow time passed, and before I knew it, we were into May with nothing planted.  One of my friends mentioned that a local garden centre had vegetable plants.  I know this isn’t the most frugal way to do it, but if I was going to grow anything, then this was going to be my only chance.

I bought six different tomato plants, including some yellow and orange varieties.  When I last went to France, I remember walking into the equivalent of our mini supermarkets and being met by a fabulous display of tomatoes of all different sizes and colours.  I’ve not seen anything similar here: the choice seems to be large red or mini red.  I also picked up some purple sprouting brocoli, a couple of courgettes, cucumbers and some leeks.

A couple of days later I went round to a friend’s house and in exchange for a donation to the Nepal earthquake fund, I obtained some brussel sprouts plants.  Then a friend offered me some spare runner beans, tomatoes and a courgette.  In no time at all, I suddenly had all my veg.

Here are the tomato plants, which are now growing vigorously.

2015-06-18 11.53.28And here are the sprouts and psb which have really got going.

2015-06-18 11.53.50The other thing which I have been please to see in the last few weeks are our plum trees which are beginning to sprout again.  You might remember that it snowed heavily on boxing day and a number of branches snapped off.  We weren’t sure if the trees would survive, but it now looks as if they are going to be ok.

2015-06-18 11.52.36How is your veg growing?

Until next time, Tawney x

Rescuing a cooking disaster

Hello Friends,

I always try to avoid wasting food.  We have a veg box once a fortnight and I base most of our  meals around it.  I’ve got better at planning ahead and cooking double amounts and then freezing for a later date.

None of this stops me having the odd cooking disaster though.  A couple of weeks ago we had a cauliflower in the veg box.  Cauliflower is one of those vegetables I never quite know what to do with.  If Bee is home I make her cauliflower cheese.  On its own, it can be a bit anaemic.  So I rummaged around for a recipe and found one.  Basically, it was cauliflower cooked with pine nuts and raisins and then mixed with pasta…..hmmm.  OH liked it, but it just wasn’t my thing.  I had so much of the stuff, I had two boxes of it in the freezer.

I did think about binning it, but then had the idea of tarting it up a bit to make it edible.  Tonight’s tea was due to be a meat curry which I made earlier in the week.  I took one of the boxes out of the freezer and added three very ripe tomatoesl, a teaspoon of curry powder and some warm water and heated it through.


We had it with our meat curry and some rice, and although I say it myself, it was completely transformed and very tasty.  Now I wonder what I can do with the other box?

What dishes have you been able to rescue, and how did you do it?

Until next time, Tawney x

Thinking ahead

Hello Friends,

I sometimes find it hard to plan ahead, especially when it is something I don’t really want to do.  I am dreadful for leaving ironing for work until Sunday night, or later (although I have now bought three cheap non iron shirts which gives me a bit of a break).  I’ve got better with not running out of food.  Living in the country means you can’t just pop round the corner to the little shop which is open late as we did when we lived in Southampton.

But – as part of my efforts to make life a bit simpler and more organised, I am trying to think ahead.  I’ve got the day off work today and rather than staying in bed for another hour, I got up at the usual time and I’ve sorted all my clothes for next week.  This is particularly important as I’ve got to catch an early train to Leeds for work on Wednesday, so I won’t want to be ironing at 5.30 am.  (I’m not that much of a morning person).  I’ve also planned some easy meals that can just come out of the freezer or be put together in 20 minutes.

I’ve planned some mini time slots to do a bit of de-cluttering and cleaning.  I’m having a go at following Fly Lady’s routines as suggested by thrift deluxe who writes at http://ninetofive-ish.blogspot.co.uk/  From looking at the things I’ve got on next week, I’ve got to be realistic about what I can achieve.  That means just 15 minutes to half an hour each evening next week.  I won’t beat myself up if I can’t manage it though, I will just re-arrange to another time.

Do you ever get stuck with planning ahead?

Until next time,, Tawney x

Clearing bit by bit

Hello Friends,

I’ve been spending the last couple of weeks working on de-cluttering and tidying parts of the house.  I have been working on our bedroom – this feels like the best place to start.  If I can create a  calm space to sleep in, then I will have more energy to do other things.

I’ve broken the job down into smaller tasks.  I started by clearing all the surfaces and the floor.  This has immediately changed the atmosphere in the room: it just feels more restful.  I still have to go through the drawers and the cupboards, but I am just going to do a small amount at a time.  Each night after work, I just went upstairs and did about 15 minutes sorting and throwing out.

At the weekend I started doing a thorough clean, even dragging the bed out so I could get into every corner.  Unfortunately in my excitement I managed to blow the plug up when I pulled too hard on the wire.

It feels like I’m making real progress at last.  I even managed to find a few things which had been missing for a while such as my other thin glove and OH’s cycling bag.  The challenge now is to keep things from getting out of control again.

Have you had a spring clean?

Until next time, Tawney x

Hedge cutting step by step

Hello Friends,

The last time I cut the hedge at the bottom of our garden was three years ago.  This was the photo I posted on here at the time.

IMGP3079Since then, other stuff has got in the way and I’ve been trying to ignore the hedge.  Unfortunately it keeps growing.

Over the last 3 weeks I have been working to bring it back to a more manageable size.  I wanted to make sure that I cut it before any birds started nesting in it.  I am trying to schedule a couple of hours a week in the garden now, an hour at the weekend and an hour one day after work.

I knew I couldn’t do the whole hedge in one go.  Last weekend I cut as much of the top and side as I could reach, about two thirds of the length…and then I stopped.  Yesterday I cut the rest of the top and sides.  This left a bit at the far side of the hedge which I dealt with today with my long lopper – again I treated this as a separate job.

The final part of the hedge cutting will be to remove the remaining brambles from the bottom of the hedge.  That will be my next job, either later in the week or next weekend.

What I have learned from this is that the way to keep the garden a bit more under control is going to be ‘a little and often’.  Dividing a daunting job up has also helped – knowing I have finished each part of the job has helped me to keep going.

Are you tackling any garden jobs at the moment?

Until next time, Tawney x

Out of control…again

Hello Friends,

We had a lovely Easter weekend away at the inlaws.  It’s flat down south, so I finally got round to road testing my new road bike properly.  I tried it out a few weeks ago on the Manifold Way on a bitterly cold afternoon.  It was a bit of a scary experience – not having been on a road bike for 20 years I was very wobbly, I couldn’t reach the brakes properly and the saddle was (unbeknown to me) pointing up in the air.  Cue crossed and watering eyes.

Really, really hope I don't come off....

Really, really hope I don’t come off….

OH sorted these glitches out for me and after a few laps round the estate, we went out for a 20 mile ride.  Everthing worked well – the bike fits perfectly, I can stop, and I’m looking forward to many more rides.

And then we came back home, and the chaos that is my house hit me.  If I am honest, a lot of this is to do with me preferring to do things like cycling, spending time with friends and playing the violin.  I’m not really very domesticated.  A few weeks ago, somebody at work asked me what I did about my cleaning.  She works part time and was saying how difficult it was to fit everything in.  My answer was simply ‘I don’t clean’.  Or at least I do when it all gets too much and I think I really ought to do something about the layer of dust on the stairs.

Routines don’t work for me – or at least not the ones demanding daily adherence.  I’ve tried them but found myself becoming even more exhausted as I try and fit too much into my day.  However, the disorganisation is driving me mad, and I can see that having to run up and down between three floors before I leave the house just to find a pair of shoes just adds to the stress levels.

So I am thinking about finding a different way of organising my home, one that works for me.

Have you managed to change your habits completely?  How did you do it?

Until next time, Tawney x

Celebrating spring and a bracing walk on Frugal Hill

Hello Friends,

I have spent most of this weekend clearing space for when Bee gets back from university tomorrow.  We took a load of cardboard and other junk to the recycling centre yesterday morning, a bag of shoes, odd socks and clothes to the charity shop and I managed to de-clutter the landing as well.

This afternoon we decided to have a break and risk getting wet, and went on one of our favourity walks around Frugal Hill.  It was very muddy and we did get caught in a shower.  It was also very windy on top of the hill – I certainly felt I had done some exercise after that.

2015-03-29 14.47.44You can see the clouds scudding across the sky as we made our way across this field.  The other thing we noticed is how  the trees do not seem to have started going into bud even though it is nearly April.

Edie wrote about spring in Uzbekistan on her blog today.  It seems that the first day of spring is a cause for celebration over there – it certainly seems to be warmer than it is here!  You can read all about it here:


Until next time, Tawney x