Paint, rest, paint

Hello Dear Reader,

What a day! I was up early to catch the good weather and get some laundry on the line and then get on with sanding furniture and adding a couple more coats of paint. When I went out to check in the washing later, I noticed that the side wall of the house was wet even though the sun had dried out the other walls. We’d had a leak and had to remove some of the stud wall and get the leak fixed. Luckily, a friend/hero came to our rescue and fixed it. It’s now drying out with a dehumidifier which has set us back a day but it would have been a lot worse if I’d not de I to have done some washing.

We’ve met some lovely people in Huelgoat, including a couple who have rescued dogs from as far as Ireland, Spain and here in France. They give these ageing and unwanted dogs the loveliest life on a French smallholding. We went for a barbeque lunch in their beautiful garden. Lunch lasted the rest of the day and then we came home and put our feet up and this evening, we’ve had another few hours painting.

Tomorrow, we shall plod on with more renovations and head over to Emmaüs in Morlaix to look for an armoire in the afternoon. Like any charity shop shopping, we could be lucky but we may well come back empty handed. 

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxx


Painting vintage furniture 

Hello Dear Reader,

Im a great lover of all things second hand and I love French charity shops! On our last trip to Emmaüs, we bought three pieces to dot around the house and today, I’ve been sanding and painting and it’s been great fun. The furniture cost under 20€ a piece with some bits being as little as 5€. We bought water based eggshell paint in a vintage colour to mimic, Farrow and Ball’s ‘old white’. It was half the price and almost the same in colour.

I used a small palm sized electric sander to remove the top coat of varnish and then sugar soap to remove any last traces of grease. The sugar soap comes in a spray which I used to coat the furniture liberally and then, using hot water, a cloth and making sure I used rubber gloves, gave it a good wash and then allow it to dry.

It’s really important to use thin coats of paint and allow it to dry for two to four hours, depending on atmospherics, between coats. Remove any handles before you sand and then paint. 

Here’s the results of one small table that we’ll use as a bedside table. Now it’s your turn. Any upcycling furniture painters out there? Do you prefer chalk based paint? Or, like me, eggshell? If so, water or oil based? Have any of you had any luck with charity shop furniture?

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx

Working holiday in France

Hello Dear Reader,

We made sure we hit the ground running and got straight on with the renovations we’d previously planned. Yesterday was really busy and got the house up and running an hour after our nine am arrival. When we arrive, we have to turn on the water and electricity, bring in logs for cold evenings, unpack, make the bed and turn on the water heater. I then cleaned from top to bottom, well, just because I do.

After lunch, we went out with friends to see their renovation project in a nearby hamlet and I know it’ll be absolutely lovely one day; it’s in the most beautiful location and I’m really going to enjoy watching them turn it into something wonderful.

Back to our renovations. DB is upstairs in what once was the apartment kitchen, that is now part of the main house, thanks to the stairs he built last summer and the dividing wall he built this Easter. The kitchen fittings have all been removed and he’s filling holes and painting. In the meantime. In the meantime, I’ve sanded three pieces of charity shop furniture we bought at Easter. 

As you can see, most of our rooms still aren’t finished so we can use them as work rooms. It means I can move furniture into there to work on it.

I’ve used Valspar egg shell paint and it’s the same colour as Farrow and Ball’s ‘Old White’ but it was half the price. I have enough paint to paint all of our secondhand furniture. None of it is old, of any value and a bit of paint livens it up a bit. 

DB has worked hard upstairs and we’ll hopefully have the room finished within a couple of days and we can move into our brand new bedroom.

My bigger pieces of furniture are being sanded and painted in situ so I have to sand and clean, then sand and clean. It’s a mucky job but it’ll be worth it when it’s done. 

We’ve also picked up a sofa that we bought for 40€ and after sitting on our Ikea chairs and they instead will go up in the bedrooms. It looks pink but the stripes are red and grey. It’s huge and fits both of us and the fluffies. We brought it home strapped to the roof of the car ( to me, to you) and it was just not a nine mile journey albeit a very slow and careful one. We are having fun finding thrifty furniture and keeping the costs as low as possible. At the rate we are working, it’s going to take a few years to finish but at least we’ll have a laugh whilst we’re doing it. 

We’re shattered tonight, so we have our feet up with a mug of tea, Supervet on the tv and an early night ahead of us so we can be up bright and early to get on with some more renovations tomorrow. Who’d have thought a working holiday could be such fun.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

My packing is weirder than your packing!

loaded cart

Hello Dear Reader,

If and when you go somewhere, you pack clean clothes, food, books, amusement, a coat, umbrella and maybe even sunblock. It’s way different for us. When you’re renovating a house on a tiny budget then the roof of my car feels as if it’s loaded like Buckaroo! On the roof of the car this time will be a room size rug we bought for £42 and an oil filled electric radiator we got cheap from freeads for £10 as we work towards every room having a rug and a radiator.

Inside the car will be paint as French paint is five times the price and it’s like painting with skimmed milk so we take at least two pots every time we go. There will also be sand paper, sugar soap, paint brushes and rollers as we move into the next stage of renovation of one of the rooms. Our aim is to get our bedroom finished in a few days, move the furniture and move in to it. I have furniture to paint whilst DB has the walls and door to finish as well as changing the British plugs to French plugs on some lamps we bought ages ago, again really cheaply, from TK Max with a gift voucher. We are still a way off hanging curtains and I don’t think we’ll get to the finished stage until next year. When you work to a budget and stick to it, you  have to be patient and work slowly.

Every time I go, I take something else I’ve found cheap, in a charity shop or totally free and donated or given away. I’m never going to buy new if I can get it ‘recycled as I can’t stand waste, hate the thought of good stuff going to landfill and want to make every pound do the work of a fiver! Yes, I’m tightfisted and proud of it! If I can do my bit to stop waste then I certainly will even if it means my packing is weirder than your packing.

In my defence, I’m not the only one. I really should take photographs of the weird things in the backs of cars, in trailers and on the roof embarking the ferry. I’ve seen trailers full of fruit trees in pots, sewerage systems, hot water tanks, wood stoves, garden fence and double glazed windows. I can also spot the renovators as we’re in our ‘holiday’ clothes of paint spattered jeans and with grout under our fingernails as we’ve worked right up to departure time and worked on the basis of ‘there’s a shower in my cabin and we’ve turned the water off in the house’. Obviously, there are people who might get someone else to do all the work, but they are in disguise are regular tourists.

I’ll keep you up to date with the renovations, the dog walks, the mini week long adventure and my little French village as it warms up in the bank holiday sunshine. We’re aiming to scout round for some second hand furniture to fill up some of the empty rooms and I’ll share some of our forays into charity shops and ‘le bon coin’ as we start making the house more homely.

Who knows, in time, it might be you renting it for one of your holidays.


Until Saturday,

Love Froogs xxxx

Love it, even when you hate it

Hello Dear Reader,

I’ll be honest, I don’t like my front door and I don’t like my back door either. Often, when we have something we don’t like we change it, sometimes at great expense. When looking around a prospective new house, some people won’t buy somewhere because of the door or the kitchen and convince themselves that ‘it’s not up to our standard.’ That’s very easy for us to overcome as I obviously have very low standards as I’ll live with anything if it’s: in good condition, it works, there’s nothing wrong with it and it does the job it’s intended to do. 

Then, when I’ve got past the fact that a door is a door then I’ll look after it like I love it. My doors, which I hate, get washed and wiped down every week to keep them in good condition. DB oils the locks and hinges also to keep them in good working order. I then give them a spray furniture polish to give the door a shine. Finally, the step gets scrubbed with hot soapy water and rinsed with a generous swoosh of cold water. 

So where am I going with this? We’re different aren’t we? We have what we have and just live with it as we don’t want to spend money on things we don’t need. We don’t waste a perfectly good door, sofa, table in the name of fashion, looks, what anyone thinks, the wow factor and never care a damn how old it is either. We respect function and we look after it as we know it’s good enough.

Now it’s your turn. Who else has something they really don’t like or even hate but take care of it?

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Worried about the cost of food?

Hello Dear Reader,

I went to Lidl today and rising food costs are really concerning me. I can cook, we’re not fussed by what we eat and I try to feed us to get good nutrition for our money. The big price hikes are in good healthy food and that worries me for a lot of families. A tiny pack of stewing beef was four pounds and would just feed the two of us. I went straight to the reduced section and as I was there just as the store opened got a few affordable bargains. I bought a whole chicken for £2.70, and ten chicken drumsticks for £1.30 and reduced pork medallions, reduced sausages that at full price were £1.89 for six! A family would need maybe three packs? How is it that even sausages are expensive ?

I am also really concerned about the cost of fresh fruit and veg such as salad and apples. I paid £2.25 for six apples and that’s in Lidl which is cheaper than most.

I do stretch my budget so far that it squeaks. I buy frozen chicken normally and frozen cheap and sustainable fish like pollock. I buy frozen fruit like strawberries, raspberries and tinned fruit like apples. I defrost them and eat them with natural yogurt. I buy frozen vegetables and tinned veggies such as mushy peas and mushrooms. I also get plenty of protein from tinned fish and eggs and make dished like fish cakes and frittata. We also have plenty of meatfree days and I don’t know how any one can afford to eat it every day.

I also shop around in all the discount stores like Farmfoods, Lidl and Aldi and when I get there go straight for the reduced section and pop it in the freezer when I get home. The tuna and sweet corn is for sandwiches and for supper with baked potatoes. 

However, not all families will eat anything and not everyone will eat tinned or frozen and expecting people to simply change is really not easy. I wish there were cooking shows on TV that dealt with these genuine concerns as I’m sure families are just not coping. 

Over to you, what food worries do you have? What do you do to keep to your budget? 

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxxx

Keep it clean

Hello Dear Reader,

It seems a clean and tidy house is important to most of us and I’m not alone in my enjoyment of housework. I actually find it really relaxing.

I thought I’d share this cleaning schedule from Good Housekeeping.

You can print if you’d lik. Mine is printed and is on the back of my cleaning cupboard door.

Happy scrubbing xx
Love Froogs xxxxx

Tidy house, tidy mind, tidy wallet?

Hello Dear Reader,

When we moved into Thrift cottage back in 2013 we inherited someone’s kitchen, their taste and style. It’s not what I’d have chosen but it’s perfectly serviceable and will last for years to come. My cooker is on its last legs but whilst it can still function then it’ll stay just as it is. Every night, I give it a good clean and shine. Often we can convince ourselves that something needs replacing but we can bring it back to life by treasuring it and at the very least by keeping it clean. I’ve just noticed the mug ring on the left side and went straight down to wipe it off.

There’s something really satisfying about keeping a tidy house and personally, I find it both relaxing and satisfying. For me, it’s a brain dumping activity that keeps my brain in good order. Also, I’m really aware of the money it saves me as a house kept in good order lasts longer. 

Any other tidy people out there? It can’t be just me.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Just saved myself £237

Hello Dear Reader,

I am looking pleased with myself as I love a bargain. Just before Easter, I went to Specsavers, had my eyes tested and ordered two pairs of varifocals with one pair having tinted lenses. They duly arrived two weeks later and the prescription was incorrectly set and they offered to replace them in another two weeks or I could have a refund. I took my £326 and left.

I found a much better deal and went to Asda opticians with my prescription and spent £119 on branded advanced varifocals, that have three graded prescriptions in each lens and one pair are prescription sun glasses. They also sell generic glasses With any type of lens you require for £45. There are no extra charges unlike Specsavers who charge extra for: varifocals, anti-reflective coating, scratch resistant coating, thinner lenses or tinted lenses. 

Here’s my next bargain and why I’ve been extra thrifty this month of some eggshell paint for my vintage furniture in France. I had the intention of buying Farrow and Ball paint but just couldn’t bring myself to pay £60 for 2.5 litres of Old White paint. Instead, I bought a brand for half the price and had it tinted Oyster Shoal. Even then, I cringed at £30 for a tin of paint but it will transform the furniture and the armoire I’m hoping to buy in a couple of weeks. 

Even I have to spend money every now and then but when I do, I really like to my money’s worth.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx