Christmas wreath making

Hello Everyone,

The other night I went to a Christmas wreath making workshop at our local pub.  It was supposed to happen last year, but was cancelled due to heavy snow.

We have a variegated holly bush in the garden which this year is covered with berries.  I also gathered holly and yew from the garden.  The wreath bases were supplied as part of the worshop – these were round bases filled with oasis.

The first step was to put the evergreen material around the outer and inner edges.  For my wreath, I used golden yew.  The next row in was holly, which was infilled with extra berries to give colour.  Finally I added the ivy.

The finished Christmas wreath

I’m really pleased with how my wreath turned out – I failed art at school (the first person in my school to fail art in 20 years, so my teacher told me), so I sometimes have a bit of a confidence crisis with crafty things.  More importantly, I thoroughly enjoyed the evening. – everyone’s wreath was different and they are now hanging on front doors around the village. 

What Christmas crafts have you been getting on with?

Until next time, Tawney.

Yikes! It’s December!

Hello Everyone,

I’ve just realised that it’s 1st December.  Christmas is on the horizon. 

Last year I was incredibly organised.  I made all the Christmas cards, starting at the end of October.  I made most of the Christmas presents, and had everything ready to go in good time.  This was despite doing a course which involved completing one project and starting another between September and Christmas.

This year hasn’t gone quite so well.  I bought a pile of Christmas cards last year in the sales, so I don’t need to make any, but I do have to write them.  I have some Christmas presents, but none yet for Bee and Edie.

Almost every weekend since the beginning of October has been taken up with hunting for a new car.  Luckily we have now found one, but the whole exercise has been far more time consuming and tiring than I ever could have imagined.  I don’t like the feeling of running to catch up, it doesn’t sit with the simpler life I crave. 

I am going to try and get back on track this weekend, by making a list of what we still need to get for Christmas.  I wrote a budget for Christmas some weeks ago, so I know we can manage financially, it’s just the organising that’s left to do.

How are your Christmas preparations going?

Until next time, Tawney.

Not getting things done

Hello Everyone,

Lots going on at the moment and I’m not getting everything done that I want to.  De-cluttering has slipped, I gave in and bought some soup for lunch on Sunday, and I’ve flopped on the sofa this evening.

Sometimes I think I have to take a break and re-charge my batteries.  It’s ok for me to do that.  As long as I keep making gentle progress towards my goal of living the Frugal Hill Way, that’s fine.

Until next time, Tawney

Mending stuff

Hello Everyone,

I’ve got quite a pile of mending to do at the moment.  OH has two pairs of torn trousers.  I’m not quite sure how to fix them yet as the tears are at the bottom of the leg and not at the seams.  I think I might try using some iron on hem tape to see if that will work.  I’ve also got a work shirt which has ripped and needs sewing again.  It’s an old favourite which I bought from a charity shop a couple of years ago.  I’ve mended it several times – I suppose I could have thrown it out by now, but I really like it.

I did mend some tights today – that has saved me around £10.  It only took about half an hour to mend them all.

We also did some garage clearing today and took various bits and pieces to the new household waste recycling centre near us.  It is an amazing place – different skips all sorts of things from paper to metal to engine oil.  We took some very old clothing (not fit for the charity shop) some old washing machine hoses and various other bits and bobs which now wont be going to landfill.

Did you have a frugal weekend?

Until next time, Tawney.

Being ok with slow progress

Hello Everyone,

I’ve had a busy week.  I’ve worked very long hours at work, and then I’ve had things on in the evening and during the day at the weekend.  It means I haven’t been able to do some of the things I wanted to do such as further de-cluttering in my bedroom.

I’m not going to give myself a hard time though.  I’m still moving in the right direction and I’m just going to keep taking those tiny steps.  Sometimes stuff just comes up and it needs to be dealt with. 

Tomorrow, I probably won’t have time to vacuum through the house – we’ve managed to find a new car and we need to clear the garage out before we pick the car up next week.  Later on, Edie is coming back from uni to rehearse with an orchestra she plays in.  We always meet her afterwards and take her back to Sheffield, and it’s lovely to have an hour or two with her.

So I’m not going to try and do everything tomorrow.  I know I’m going the right way and that’s ok.

Until next time, Tawney.

Real bread

Hello Everyone,

A few years ago, OH bought me a breadmaker for my birthday.  I love my breadmaker and I’ve gone through phases of using it.  Earlier this year I was making my own bread all the time, but then work and other stuff took over.

My brilliant breadmaker

The other day I realised that I didn’t like the shop bought plastic sliced bread I’ve been buying.  It was convenient, but tasted of nothing.  When I make my own bread it tastes completely different – it’s hard to describe, but it tastes more ‘bready’.  The texture is different too.  I put the ingredients in the hopper in the evening, set the timer, and when I get up in the morning, there is a lovely bread smell wafting through the whole house.

Real bread

This is the bread I made the other morning.  After it has cooled I slice it and put it in the freezer.  We normally get through 2/3 medium sized loaves a week.  Totally yummy!

Do you make your own bread?

Until next time, Tawney.

Clearing out the cabinets

Hello Everyone,

I was looking for a document the other day.  I knew it was in the filing cabinet……somewhere.  On the first trawl I couldn’t find it.  The filing cabinet was so full I couldn’t really see anything.

I pulled everything out and I couldn’t believe the rubbish we had in the cabinet.  It was somewhere I’d been stuffing bits of paper for years.  I had put a lot of documents into plastic folders to keep them clean and uncrumpled, but they weren’t really in any sort of order.

It's going to take a lot of sorting....

 

I did find what I was looking for, but it took longer than it needed to.  I decided to begin sorting the cabinet and listing the contents in the House Book so I know where to find things.  I began with the easy things: the passport folder and exam certificates sorted into sections for each of us.

It suddenly got harder after that – lots of old bills and other documents to sort through.  I decided to set priorities for what goes back in the cabinet to include only high priority and recent documents.  I still have a large pile of paper, but having a plan makes me feel I can find a way through  it all.

How have you managed to cope with your paper clutter?

Until next time, Tawney.

Drying time

Hello Everyone,

I dithered this morning about whether to wash Bee’s sheets.  The weather has been good over the last couple of days and I’ve managed to catch up with the washing.  The sheets were the very last thing in the washing basket and I decided to wash them so the basket would be empty.

Unfortunately, it’s been very grey and foggy all day today.  We have a combined washer/dryer and I could have put them straight in to dry.  I’m trying very hard not to use the tumble dryer to save on the electricity bill, so I hung the sheets outside in the garden on the washing line.  I ended up bringing them in at 3.00pm as it was already getting dark.  I have a nasty feeling the washing was damper than when I put it out this morning.

I again managed to resist the urge to put them in the tumble dryer and they are now sitting on a clothes horse in the bathroom – it’s nice to feel I’m saving money.

Useful - but drying costs.

 

The postscript to this tale is that I’ve just been upstairs, and the washing basket is suddenly magically full again.  Bee appears to have put almost all her clothes out for washing – never mind, it will all get done in the end!

Until next time, Tawney.

Pulling back from overspending

Hello Everyone,

A few weeks ago I wrote about our hunt for a new car and how we’re planning to fund the purchase.  Since then we’ve looked at a number of cars and we’re still looking. 

How we almost blew the budget

Something interesting has happened while we have been looking.  We set a budget with which we were comfortable and one ot the things we took into account was the fact that we live on a single track road, bounded by walls and vegetation.  You have to back up if you meet somebody, and however careful you try to be, it’s inevitable that a bumper will be scraped or a bush will brush against the bodywork.  It didn’t make sense to us to buy an incredibly expensive car

As the weeks have gone on and we haven’t managed to find a car, we began thinking, “well, if we spent just a bit more, we could get something a bit newer with a few fewer miles on it”.  The budget stretched upwards to take a bit more savings, and then, after a couple of weeks a bit more as we still didn’t manage to find anything.  Then we began to think, “if we borrowed a bit we could have something really nice and it will be easier to find something”.  The original budget had suddenly increased by 65%.

Changing our minds

Today we we realised what we were doing – we were creeping towards some serious overspending.  Both OH and I were feeling distincly uncomfortable with  this.  We decided to go back to our original budget.  We’ve got a couple of leads which we’re going to follow up over the next week, and I suddenly feel confident that we are going to find the right car at the right price. 

Have you pulled back from overspending on a large purchase?  What finally made you decide not to go ahead?

Until next time, Tawney

Cooking outside the comfort zone

Hello Everyone,

One of my colleagues left work recently and we had a ‘fuddle’ on her last day.  This is where everyone brings something to eat and we share a lunch together.  I put my name down to make a Bakewell tart.  I’ve made one once before, but I couldn’t find the recipe, so I used the one from ‘Jamie’s Dinners’.

It was a bit of a challenge.  I made a pastry case which then had to be put in the fridge to chill, rolled out and put in a tin and put in the freezer.  The case was cooked, and in the meantime I made the filling, using the last of the eggs I collected when I looked after my friend’s hens when she was on holiday.

I’m pleased to say that it came out ok, and I was thrilled when it all disappeared.  I even snuck a piece myself, and was pleasantly surprised by how good it tasted.

Bakewell tart

I’m glad I took a risk with cooking something right outside my comfort zone – it’s given me the confidence to try other things.  What have you tried cooking that’s turned out really well?

Until next time, Tawney.