Do you spring clean?


Hello Dear Reader,

We don’t have much spring left here! Spring is short lived here and before we know, it’ll be summer then we really won’t be home much or feel like emptying the pan cupboard when it gets warms. Spring cleaning is important to me as I get to give the house a good sort out and get rid of anything that’s clogging up my life. I live in a two up, two down and there’s no room to swing a small kitten so clutter just does not feature! Last weekend, I really got the bit between my teeth and my head feels so much better. I organised and deep cleaned my sewing room, which also doubles up as my office and as I spend a lot of time in there working, it’s a much better place in which to think and create now it’s fresh as well as very organised and tidy. It’s a great way to stock take and realise I have plenty of everything and I then know where everything is.

I love a to do list and love that feeling of ticking each job off one by one. I have a long weekend at the end of the week and I’d like to get at least two of these jobs down. I also like a realistic goal, there’s no point in thinking I will do it all as I just won’t. If I get more than two jobs done, then that’s a bonus.

I don’t know what you need to do but here’s my to do list.

Empty out wardrobe and drawers, check if I still fit any of the clothes and send the rest to the charity shop.

Take out summer clothes from the drawers under my bed and fill the drawers with winter jumpers.

Empty out and clean the airing cupboard, refold or iron any bedding. Take surplus to the charity shop.

Empty out the kitchen cupboards, one by one, wash down all the shelves and replace items, washing any with dust.

Empty out and clean out the dining room cupboards and paint the insides.

Wash and repaint skirting boards down stairs.

Paint the hall way – it makes it look cleaner and brighter with a coat of paint.

That’s just for starters!

I better get on with it, May is around the corner and it’ll be summer before we know it.

Over to you, who else has a good sort out and clean at a certain time of year?

Until tomorrow,


The end of one journey and the beginning of another!

Hello Dear Reader,

This will be my last blog post until Saturday. I won’t have either the time or the connectivity until them. I will ‘reveal’ my new beginning on Saturday.

Some of you will know my story, others will be reading this for the first time.

In 2009, I decided that I’d had enough of debt, enough of a huge mortgage, enough of car payments and paying off my credit card. I decided to change my life and aim for simplicity. 

Living a simple life is all about making it myself or doing without. I’ve learnt very easily to do both and I shall continue to do so. I stripped everything out of my life that I didn’t need and certainly didn’t need to pay for. I’ve continued to do that to this date.

It took us two years of complete cold turkey to pay off all our debts and then we had to tackle our mortgage. We were tied into a fixed rate deal with £10K handcuffs that we couldn’t walk away from. Nonetheless, we still overpaid an extra 10% a year and as soon as that deal was over, we paid off some more! It meant that without any debt we could dream of living without a mortgage.

In truth, we would never pay off the hulking great mortgage hanging around our necks and needed to get rid of our current home. We tried and succeeded to sell our home in 2009 to have the underwriters pull the mortgage at the last moment. So, we stayed and paid! In 2013, a long time after the fixed rate deal was over and after a lot of over payment, we sold and are moving on.

We leave this house in a couple of days and move to our new modest home which we can afford to pay for in five years! As of Friday, we are five years from being mortgage free.

The past fourteen days of surveys and concrete screening and getting the bank and solicitors to do what they are supposed to do have been stressful and we finally exchanged contracts today.

I’ll be back on Saturday with photos of our new home and you will be able to see it in its ‘before’ state before we get it ‘the way we like it’. You’ll be able to share gardening, Christmas preparation, curtain making, home making and housekeeping with me in my own inimitable thrifty style. 

If anyone is interested, you can catch me Frugal Queen, on Facebook for the next few days.

Until Saturday,

Love Froogs xxxx

Nearly, nearly there!

Hello Dear Reader,

It’s been an emotional week. The house sale almost fell through and then was resurrected with a little persuasion by all parties. Mundic raised its ugly head!

Here’s what wikipedia says about mundic:

“Mundic block problem

The Cornish word mundic is now used to describe a cause of deterioration in concrete due to the decomposition of mineral constituents within the aggregate. A typical source of such aggregates is metalliferous mine waste. Current professional guidance notes describe all of Cornwall and an area within 15 km of Tavistock as being areas where routine testing for mundic is required. The notes go on to state that testing should be confined to buildings which contain concrete elements (blocks or insitu) and that were built in or prior to 1950. However, the notes contain advice that testing may be required where there are visual or other signs of mundic decay. Testing leads to a classification of A, A/B, B and C. A is sound, A/B is sound (but may require re-inspection at a later date) and C is unsound. Classifications B & C mean that a property may be un-mortgagable.[4]
Typically a house is routinely screened if constructed between 1900 and 1950 from concrete block.”

The house was originally smaller and didn’t have a bathroom. The kitchen and bathroom extension was added in the 1950’s and the mortgage company wanted a concrete screening report completed before they would take the mortgage application any further. Lots of houses in Cornwall are not of mortgageable quality, even though they’ve stood for almost 100 years without falling down! If you are a cash buyer and want a cheap house, buy one with a bit of it (no one would advise all of it) built with mundic blocks. However, the house has been surveyed by an expert and there is no mundic in any of the blocks in the extension! Hoo-flippin’-ray!

So, this week has been a difficult one as we’ve waited for seven days for the slowest laboratory in the world to test the drilled samples and tell us what we already knew. How did we know the tenement didn’t have mundic? The man next door is the son of the man who built it! Hey, it’s Cornwall, everyone knows who built everything and is usually related in someway to most of the people in the town they live in!

We will be in by the end of the month and a whole new life will begin! 

Over to you Dear Reader, I hope you share the journey with me. I will still live under my means as I aim to pay off the mortgage (I’m borrowing about half the value of the house) in as short as time as possible. I’m aiming to have a wood shed, wood heating, a vegetable patch and have more time to get out and about and enjoy the county I love so much.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxxxxxxxx


Hello Dear Reader,

We have to be ruthless and get rid of most of what we own. Moving from a four bedroom detached 1960’s family home to a cottage built in 1880 (ish) means we can not be sentimental and take anything that we truely don’t need. Some of you will own bathrooms bigger than the reception rooms of my future cottage and I don’t want my new home to be cluttered.

We went through every book and decided to give most of them to charity.

We thought of ebaying furniture and remembered when we had nothing that it was the generosity of others that got us through. Consequently, we are giving away a lot of furniture through Freecycle.

Any household items that a charity shop will take is going to a charity.

We are selling some items such as electricals on ebay as charity shops won’t take them.

We are giving away some garden equipment as we will have a tiny garden where we are going.

We won’t have a garage or outside storage so most of what is in the summer house and garage has to go. In fact, most of it has gone.

It feels liberating to give so much away and having less feels so less restrictive.

Please bear with me as I’m packing and getting my addled head around the move. It may not be for weeks but I like to plan with military precision so I’m getting on with it now. It’s also easier to touch up paint work in empty rooms and scrub and clean the place for the new owners. It will also make cleaning the carpets easier too. 

Tomorrow, I have an exciting competition for you all to take part in so come back for another give away. 

Over to you. Now is the time for you to share any de-cluttering, downsizing and house moving advice. Who else has been through this recently? Is it just me or is this experience really cathartic?

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Look what I have at the bottom of my garden!

Hello Dear Reader,

Those who have been reading Frugal Queen from the start know my journey and how difficult it has been. In 2009, we sold our current house and found a little cottage to downsize into. At the 11th hour, our mortgage provider, or should I say the underwriter, pulled our mortgage with the stony words that we had too much on personal borrowing. I should say so, £45,000 of unsecured debt to be exact. We had to stay put with a massive mortgage and pay off the debts we owed at the same time. We paid that back in less than two years and then went on to over pay our mortgage.

Since then, we have drastically reduced our mortgage to the point that we had secured a good amount of capital to move. Even though our house has lost value, we will be moving to a cottage that on the day we turn the key, we will own almost 50% of it! This time, our mortgage has been agreed and the underwriters have no reason at all to withdraw the offer.

Now, my journey to mortgage freedom is real! 

Now you can all share my new journey to a simpler downsized life. A smaller house and little garden. Other than that, nothing will change. In fact, it will renew my desire to live a simple and frugal life as I will be able to increase the percentage I over pay by as I will have more disposable income. I will also be able to save more and have more financial security.

Thank you to everyone who believed in me and your steadfast support through the dark times as it was your light and hope that got me here today.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxxxxx

Let the downsizing begin!

Hello Dear Reader,

As promised, the house is on the market! We’ve had a wonderful time living here but it’s time to move on and find a small home just for Dear Beloved and me. I’ve just surfaced from an eleven hour migraine and have had another day in bed! Hopefully, with a smaller house, I’ll spend the first weeks of the school holiday in France and resting…………well, that’s the plan.

Click HERE to go to the Rightmove sight and the listing for our house. 

Tomorrow, we’re off to view two cottages! One in a tiny moorland village and one here in Liskeard! 

Let the downsizing begin!

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Apologies for my absence.

Hello Dear Reader,

Apologies for my absence, I’ve been horizontal for a few days – no need for details. I’ve dragged myself to the TV every night for the last three weeks for the one sporting spectacle that I watch every year and follow now matter which team is winning, where the best riders come from or who the current sponsors are. 

I’ve watched every stage of the Tour de France. Firstly, like so many Brits, I am totally in love with France and everything French. My French holidays have given me my love of cycling and the ‘Tour’ has given me the ambition to get really fit so I can ride ‘L’etape de tour’.(approx 100km)

 On January 1st, I was 14 and a half stone, today I weighed in a 12 stone and 4 lbs and I’m fitter than I’ve ever been. Like so many Brits, who watched the Olympics last year and became part of the  ‘Olympic legacy’ as I’m not the only person who decided that this was the year I AM going to get fit and be a healthier person. 

I couldn’t blog last night if I tried! I watched the final stage (that mattered) on Saturday and knew that Chris Froome was the winner and then watched the run into Paris live on Sunday night. Mark Cavendish just couldn’t win another Champs Elysees stage as Marcel Kittel turned out to be the better rider on the night. I watched every minute from my bed, with the sound on quiet and the lights dimmed and even feeling rough, I couldn’t miss it.

It’s those moments that remind me WHY am am frugal!

From Froogs’ bucket list….”12. Cycle one of the stages of the Tour de France…..even if it takes all week!(Thinking of it………or even a fortnight.) Add to that…ride a proper road bike.
13. Hire/own a camper van and follow Tour de France and write a chalk messages on the roads.”

Dreams don’t come cheap and they are not attainable with a massive mortgage. Being frugal now, means I can have choices later. That means, later I will be able to afford a road bike, later I will be able to afford cycling holidays, later I will be able to go to the Pyrenees. I’m still ill tonight and I haven’t surfaced since Saturday but it’s the dreams that keep me going.

Thanks for the incredible camera work, helicopter and bike shots of every piece of the action and to the riders for a fantastic tour. Roll on 2014, when I will be going back to France (busy saving every penny now so I can) and roll on the next Tour.

Until tomorrow (when I’m hopefully able to stand),

Love Froogs xxxxxxxxx

All systems go!

 Hello Dear Reader!

This is the first chance I’ve had to chat with you all day! 

House has been valued and we have instructed an estate agent and signed a contract. We saw a few agents, picked one and went and filled in the paperwork in their local office. We will sell for £250,000 and will take offers as near to that as possible. In truth, the house is worth more than that but there is the stamp duty threshold at that amount and purchasers would be taxed out of paying any more. I’ll explain this to overseas readers. Stamp duty is a sales tax and is set at 1% for properties from £125000 – £250000. You can not get a mortgage for this amount of tax and the purchaser has to pay this out of collateral. Our house is actually worth around £265000 but that means a purchaser would have to find over seven thousand pounds from personal expenses and that could mean that we’ll continue to pay a massive mortgage for another twelve months or more and not sell the house. We will make a loss on our house and sell it for less than we bought it for but we will be buying a house that was once worth a lot more than it is now, so the loss is relative. We are flexible about what we buy and where we live as long as we remain in South East Cornwall. Ideally, we’ll move out towards Bodmin Moor and we’ll be more rural but we will look at all areas and all types of house.

We’ve had a day of trades in and out! A builder has been here for two days and has rebuilt the garden paths and repaired the patio and all the niggly little jobs in the house. We’ve taken up one of the paths and DB has been smashing it to bits with a sledgehammer and he’s been bagging rubble and taking it to the tip. I’ve weeded three borders and dug in compost and top dressed them with wood chip to mulch it. 

We’ve also had a ‘quoting’ day. We’ve organised a gardener to come and cut back all the hedges (we have a big garden and we pay someone to do this every summer) and trim all the shrubs and trees in the garden. Fortunately, gardeners are cheaper than builders………………can’t afford Monty Don but do want a manicured garden that buyers will love and it’s worth the investment to get it sold as soon as possible. We’ve also organised a cleaning company to come and clean the carpets and upholstery so at least the purchaser won’t feel they have to spend money on new carpets straight away. Another point for overseas readers, purchasers will haggle for every point to get a lower price so vendors try to pre-empt what they might fuss about and do something about it before they sell. All of this is expensive but so is paying thousands a month in mortgage repayments. 

I couldn’t afford to hire the BBC’s Monty Don to work in my garden! 

Onto the recycling. We’ve been to the recycling centre with a trailer full already. We’ve taken rubble, weeds and garden cuttings, old clothes have gone to charity as has spare bedding. I’ve sifted through cake tins, saucepans, kitchen equipment and have also given that to a local resettlement charity. 

We’ve also prepared the kitchen and utility room for painting by washing down walls and ceilings, we’ll sand down wood work tomorrow and start by under coating and then apply a coat a day in the evenings after work. 

I’m exhausted by just reliving my day. I went to price up fabric to make new curtains and found ready made curtains to be cheaper than I could make them! The bedrooms will all be repainted and have new curtains that will be included in the sale of the house. Again, it’s something else the purchaser can’t knock us down on as they will get brand new curtains in all of the four bedrooms! I have two weeks to get the house ready to go on the market and all systems are go! If you want to take a look at the sort of house we’re looking for take a look HERE ( we hope to buy a house under the stamp duty threshold)

On that note, I’m off to bed! Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xx

Downsizing and Decluttering

Hello Dear Reader,

We have an estate agent coming tomorrow to value the house and give us any advice possible to market our house effectively. We will be getting other estate agents around to get other valuations and then decide on which agents to use. We tried selling our own home in the past and it wasn’t successful so we stick to using an estate agent. They charge 1% of the sales price, which is normal these days.

I’m up to my arm pits in cleaning, tidying, de-cluttering and taking as much as possible to the charity shops. I’m also running up new curtains and cushions covers from fabric and cushion pads that I already have. I’m even reusing curtain heading tapes.

We’re aiming to move to a house which is half the size and half the cost of the one we live in so we’ll be getting rid of a lot of possessions that we can live without or we haven’t used in ages.

I’m going to be quick tonight as I’m back to work on ‘storage’ areas of the house that need a general sort, tidy and clean. Any de-cluttering advice, or down-sizing advice would be most welcome.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxxxxxxx

Spiralling Cost of Food and Veggie Paella

Hello Dear Reader,

Take a good look at £28! Blink and you’ll miss it! If you squint really hard, you’l find one luxury item – sun dried tomatoes. They make any meal tastier and cost £1.19. The only meat is ham for our lunches at £1.79 a pack and the peppers are becoming prohibitively expensive and I’ll have to use frozen in the future. 

We both have good jobs and a reasonable budget for food and could spend more than we do. My great concerns are for the families up and down the UK who just can’t afford fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh milk or dairy products and rarely if at all eat meat. Meat isn’t essential but good proteins take some creativity if you can’t afford soya or quorn either. Unfortunately, junk food is cheap. Starchy cakes, pizza, frozen chips are cheap in comparison to fresh fruit and veg. The only fruit we buy are apples and bananas and they cost us around £3.50 a week, it would be double that if there were children in the house. I’m becoming increasingly concerned for British families who are struggling to eat fresh healthy food. 

I’m not an extravagant shopper and some of the items I bought will last a lot longer than one week and I won’t need to buy them next week such as: Bran Flakes, Loo Rolls, refuse sacks, lard and marg for pastry (to make pasties for DB’s lunches) and Bread Flour (only £1 in Aldi and £2 anywhere else).

Tonight’s supper – Veggie Paella with a handful of prawns found lurking in a bag in the bottom of the freezer!

Serves 4

500-600ml of vegetable stock – made from cubes from Approved Food.
200g of long grained rice – I have the European rice mountain in my cupboard.
1 onion finely diced.
3 garlic cloves – crushed.
2 courgettes – diced – not essential but I’m using them up
1 diced red pepper
1 cup of frozen peas.
Tablespoon of dried parsley
Tablespoon of Paella seasoning – some one brought this back from Tenerife for me and it goes on and on. You can use smoked paprika if you don’t have any.
You can add any cooked meat, such as gammon, chicken or any fish or just have it with veggies.

1. Make the stock
2. Fry the onion, garlic, peppers, courgettes and peas,
3.Add the stock and rice and seasoning.
4 – If too dry add stock, if too wet, add rice
5. Stir over a low heat until rice is soft and fluids absorbed
6. Ta-da!!! Paella

It’s totally delicious and wonderful comfort food. 

Now some news! We’re in the middle of operation deep clean and tidy along with back breaking gardening as we’ve booked some estate agents to come and appraise our house with the intention of putting it on the market. We’re having another attempt at downsizing! We’ve no idea to where, just South East Cornwall and wherever we can afford and can get a mortgage on. You heard it here first. It will be a few week before the house goes on the market but the adventure begins!

Over to you Dear Reader, who else is increasingly concerned about the price of food? Let me know or just have a good moan! We’ll all be digging for victory at this rate!

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxxxxx