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

Do you spring clean?

springcleaningchecklist

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,

 

Winter on a budget

                           
Hello Dear Reader,
Winter is expensive but we keep on top of the bills by being well prepared. Those scruffy old rubble sacks next to the corner of the photo have plenty of kindling. Every piece of paper and cardboard is tightly wound into twists for fire lighting. The curtains have their extra winter linings clipped in place and every curtain is closed as soon as it’s dark.
 This tiny cottage is well insulated with double glazed windows and doors with two foot thick solid walls

So it doesn’t need a great deal of heating. We heat the lounge and leave all the internal doors open and heat travels around the house. There’s no need for any other heating other than the log stove. A full wood shed costs us £80 and lasts three months. Two log sheds full last us for all of the cold weather we get here. But, what if you don’t live in a tiny cottage in the mildest part of the UK, what then?

Heat yourself. Keep yourself and family members wrapped up. My summer tee shirts and tanks become thermal base layers and I’ll often wear a tank, tee shirt, long sleeved top and a jumper. I wear leggings under trousers or under trackies at home to keep warm. I’ll even wear socks and slippers so I don’t lose heat through my feet. It means I don’t light the fire until it’s dark even on cool days.
Keep moving. If I’m busy, I’m warm. I’ll go on errands, shop on foot, walk the dogs, get the housework done and keep as mobile as possible. Unlike some people, it’s not the time of year to sit in my sewing room for too long as sitting still means I get cold. I also try to get out in the daylight and get some garden tidying done.
Warm on the inside. It’s soup season. I add lentils to everything. Veggies with stock and lentils. Leek and potato and chicken stock with winter veggies. Cook up cheap veggie stews in the slow cooker and make sure we get a substantial hot meal inside us everyday which really helps with winter warming.
Keep the heat in. All my curtains are lined but what if yours are not and you can’t sew? Check out charity shops or bargain shops such as Primark for duvet covers, fleece blankets or brushed cotton sheets. Next, you’ll need some safety pins and to take your curtains down. Pin the duvet cover or blanket to the top of the back of the curtain and you’ve got another insulating layer. I’ve seen door curtain rods in poundland and you can use double sided sticky foam which you can stick to the top of a door without doing any damage to secure the curtain pole. Again, look out for a single curtain or even a fleece blanket and make holes in the top so you can use the curtain rod to secure another layer to an u insulated door. 
Those are just a few from me and now over to you Lovely readers. If someone’s renting, on a low income or a heat leaking house, how can they keep warm on a tight budget?
Until tomorrow,
Love Froogs xxxx 

Give it a good scrub

                      
Hello Dear Reader,
I’m just popping in and out. I’ve given the kitchen and dining room a good scrub!
I’ve always had a good housework routine but I must admit, it’s not been great recently. I let things build up and then just have a good clean. This meant that the house has slipped from the standards I’m comfortable with.
So, I’ve got back to some semblance of a routine and and it needs to be quick and not cost much.
Over the weekend, everything had a ‘proper clean’ with beds changed, the bathroom scrubbed with bicarbonate, all floors swept and vacuumed, laundry done, floors washed and windows cleans. Lots of surfaces get disinfected and for that I use vinegar. I also use Ecover products that I get refilled locally at the hardware shop but if it’s greasy and needs scrubbing the it needs bicarbonate, if it’s glass, tiles, sinks, while goods and needs a deep clean then vinegar it is.
I’ve found the vinegar spray in the 99p shop and fill buy a few to keep me going. It cleans just about anything. The fresh smell soon goes. It cleans mirrors, skirting boards, door frames, windows, light switches, kitchen cupboards and work tops. So, back to trying to keep to a routine. I don’t cook on Mondays as we just eat Sunday lunch again. It meant I could fill a bowl of soapy water, wipe down surfaces, a quick wipe of the floor and the bottom of the door where the dogs paw to go out. 
I’ve gathered laundry and it’s gone in the respective basket, some laundry is hanging by the fire, I’ve kept on top of it for another day. I’m going to create a household task a day, even if only small to eliminate the need to spend hours on chores at the weekend.
Over to you. What household tips would you like to see? What tasks do you find easier or tougher to keep up with? Who else is a fan of vinegar?
And before its mentioned, no one’s given me the product or asked me yo review it or mention the 99p store. You can buy vinegar spray anywhere. 
Until tomorrow,
Love Froogs xxxx

Thrifty renovations

                                
Hello Dear Reader,
I’ve got one week before we’re off on holiday part two. We had a week catching up and by the end of the week it was time to get on with getting on. DB is working upstairs and painting and I’m working downstairs. Luckily, we have a discount store called Trago near us and bought exterior paint, kitchen and bathroom paint and some chalk paint to tart up a bit of furniture for £35. 
The back of the house has had a scrub as the sea gull population have used it as target practise. I’ve been at it with soapy water and scrubbed the walls and I’ll be up the ladder and painting asap! Inside, I have a small ‘back porch’ which doubles as my utility room and drying space. It’s had two coats of exterior paint and is looking much brighter. I’ll get some floor paint and tackle that next.
I’m working on a quilt that’s not going to finish itself and I want to get the top finished before I go away. Unusually, this us a quilt for me. 
It’s truly back to thrifty of sewing, DIY, pottering and cooking and y’know what? I love it xx
Until tomorrow,
Love Froogs

Thrifty shopping and cooking

                         
Hello Dear Reader,
I get paid this week and that’s the time I stock up for the month or even two months. I also like to stock up the freezer with lunches that DB can just take, ready wrapped in foil and stick in his back pack. So, there’s nine pasties in the freezer and one inside DB
                       
There’s two quiches, each cut into six and eight portions respectively and a fruit cake in the tin, which keeps well for over the week.
I’ve stocked up on store cupboard items like tea, coffee and UHT milk, tinned fish and loo rolls. I also went to the local butchers and filled an entire drawer of the freezer with meat for the month.
I’m on holiday countdown now. We self cater and take everything we need with us. I’ll get together everything I need over the next few weeks. It might sound a bit stingy but the big treat for us is being away on holiday and we don’t want to spend more than we’ve budgeted for when we get there. We don’t buy new clothes, feed ourselves when we get there, take what we have and amuse ourselves with bike rides, walking, reading and if the weather’s any good, sitting on the beach. 
Today has been sunny enough that all the laundry was dried outside, the dogs have been walked, the windows have been wide open and the house has been aired. The cupboards and freezer have been stocked, the house has been cleaned and we’re well rested. 
Until tomorrow,
Love Froogs 

     

Frugal Laundry?


Hello Dear Reader,

I’m writing in the response to the email you sent me about ‘laundry and what temperatures to wash things’. Firstly, thanks for taking the time to get in contact and that’s a question that will be well debated.

I think what I’m about to write is generic but you wrote and asked and I’ll take the time to answer.

DB and I have ‘front line services’ public sector jobs where we are expected to present ourselves smartly and be clean and tidy. That means we have to wear decent clothes, keep them clean and have them pressed and looking smart. Neither of us do ‘dirty’ jobs and that means our clothes can have a quick wash and freshen up as they haven’t really got dirty and neither of us are particularly ‘hot and bothered’ so a quick wash will do.

Our washing machine will wash at 20 degrees C and that’s the setting we use. I also use the quick wash of one hour and I use a much smaller dosage of laundry liquid. I use Ecover as I can take my bottle to the local shop and get a refill which saves me money and the same container gets used over and over again.


I don’t use biological soaps but will use the laundry liquid neat on a mark or stain or just rub a bar of soap over it and then leave it to soak if it’s stubborn. I don’t use biological simply because I don’t feel we need it as we don’t have dirty jobs. If we did, it might be different.

Our weekend clothes are a different matter. We don’t get them dirty either but we don’t have to be the ‘public face’ at the weekend and these clothes can we worn longer, don’t need to be washed that often so we wear them just for the weekend and if they’re not dirty or smelling of cooking, then they will go back in the wardrobe to be worn again. 

Some items get a hotter wash. I wash towels once a week as I hang them up to dry after use. On a sunny day, they go onto the ‘clothes horse’ in the back porch with the windows open to dry off and get taken to the bathroom and used again for the rest of the week. In the winter, they get a dry in front of the fire and used again. At the end of the week, they get changed as do the bed sheets and get a hotter wash at 60 degrees with a little more liquid soap and a slightly longer rinse as they’ve had nude bodies in them and dried them for the past week. Underwear gets washed separately and usually in a ‘delicate’ cycle. 

Everything I possibly can gets line dried, a few things get dried in front of the wood burner in the damp season and the very occasional thing goes in  tumble drier but that is rare.

So, no I don’t use biological, I only light wash/freshen our work clothes, our weekend clothes get worn again and only towels and bedding get a hot wash. 

Now, over to you Dear Reader. You might have a different opinion. Is it more effective and therefore cheaper to use biological? Do you have a job where you have to look clean and smart which means you have to change clothes daily and keep them clean? I think most staff have high standards and laundering clothes has a cost so how do you keep it to a minimum?

I look forward to your opinions.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Busy day in the sunshine

 Hello Dear Reader,

It’s been a glorious day here, not hot but sunny and bright. I washed all the laundry last night and hung it out first thing this morning and had it all dry and back in the house by midday. We also walked to the local shops and did our week’s shopping; we didn’t need very much. We went to the greengrocers, the butchers, the DIY shop and the charity shop and bought a couple of books.

It does mean I store up all the laundry and keep an eye on the weather forecast and wash the night before a sunny day and get it all hung out to dry.

Dearly Beloved and I spent the day titivating and painting in the garden. We don’t have anywhere to store the garden furniture in the winter so it’s a bit worse for wear. We had to splash out on some protective garden furniture paint. Yikes, it’s expensive but much cheaper than new furniture. We usually go for neutral colours but decided on something bright and I love this blue.


I was at the other end of the garden and sanded the gate, used a primer, waited for that to dry and then painted the gate blue…..there’s a theme going here! It’s a bit bright but I think it’s really cheerful. I’ll sand it again tomorrow and get another coat of paint on it. I often think to myself, ‘I can afford to pay someone to do this!’ then remember that every time I save some money that I can over pay my mortgage. In well under five years, we will own every brick of this house and that’ll make the DIY and thrifty living worth while.

I’ve reflected on my thrifty week, especially after a spendy half term break. I’ve used up everything fresh, even if I didn’t intend to eat it……it got eaten. We’ve eaten out of the freezer. I’ve menu planned for the week ahead. I’ve top up shopped as I don’t need much after a big shop in half term. We’ve done up what we have. As usual, we’ve taken lunches to work and cooked all our meals at home….no eating out until the summer holiday! I’ve checked the weather and dried everything outside this week….which always smells so much nicer than using the clothes rack indoors.

Over to you, how’s your week been and has anyone got some outside domestics done this lovely weekend?

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxx

It’s not much……


Hello Dear Reader,

We’ve been gardening on and off for a few days. Not solidly but popping out to do a bit more when the mood took us. We’ve cleaned the house, laundered, ironed, put away and read and put our feet up in between. A proper bank holiday weekend. We live in a terrace of thirteen slate hung cottages with tiny gardens and the neighbours have been out cutting the lawn, or I could hear them chatting with friends in the sun. It’s been beautifully warm here today.


I’ve repotted some patio plants.


I dug up plants that were in full sun and not thriving and I’ve planted them somewhere that gets some shade. I moved a lavender that was too near the wall and put that in full sun. I’ve planted a tiny hydrangea that I bought a few weeks ago for a few pounds from Lidl and hope it makes it.


The stones? They were all in the border, I think the previous owner was going for the Bodmin moor stones every where sort of look. I’ll have to pay to take these to the recycling centre as they don’t take stones or soil. The ‘shed’ looks a total mess but I will sort and tidy. I’m trying to find some logs at this time of year so I can stock up whilst I can afford it. No one seems to be selling any.


Here’s my back lane. It’s pedestrian access only and I’ve pulled up the weeds and swept up and rubbish that was there. Now that it’s tidy I can keep on top of it. Some neighbours do their bit, by which I mean the bit by their house, some don’t and I’ll get their permission to do the rest of the lane so it all looks presentable. 



Here’s half my finished border in front of the house. You can see DB’s growing pallet collection at the bottom of the garden, he’ll break them up for fire wood this week. It’s a good job we’ve got them especially as I can’t find any logs to buy. The pink flowering shrub has had a tidy up and been pruned back. I watched Gardener’s World and remembered the advice that if you prune hard when the Chelsea flower show is on, that there’s plenty of growing season left for it to come back to full strength.



I’ve had this trio helping me in the garden all day. They are very good at barking instructions but not a lot of help with digging! (Dolly Knockers at the back, front left Scruffy/AKA Ronnie Barker and to his right is Bobby Dazzler. The garden team, special skills: using the kneeler as a pillow, chewing the trowel handle and lying in dirt when they’ve just had a bath)

I live in a tiny cottage, it’s not much but the capital left to pay gets smaller every month, it doesn’t take much maintenance and I love every single inch of the place. It’s not much but it’s very nearly bought and paid for, cheap to run, tiny to heat and perfect for DB, myself and our four legged friends.

I’m loving this staycation! We’re having a day out in Truro tomorrow and I promise I’ll take photos.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogsxxxxx

Cooking from the bottom of the freezer


Hello Dear Reader,

It’s almost the end of the month and we’re doing our best to spend as little money as possible. I’m determined to eat from our stores and do our best with what we’ve got. All that was left in the bottom of my freezer was: a pack of minced beef – it became Cottage pie for two days plus lunches for one. Small pack of shin of beef became beef casserole, one pack of sausages became sausage casserole, cod in parsley sauce and prawns became fish pie, salmon went into the fish pie and the salmon and corriander fishcakes. 


Above is what my very loose planning and shopping list looks like. I had a check in the cupboards and this was all I needed from Aldi. 


 I did a stock take of my pantry cupboard and gave it a clean out too. This will all be part of meals for a while.

Here’s the base of my fish pie and cottage pie, below is the fish cakes. I say fish, but there’s so little fish in them that I could call them fish flavoured cakes! Yes, that is a biscuit cutter that I use as a mould.

I cooked the sausage in a pan and then cooked the ‘casserole’ separately. I then allow it all to cool before I freeze it all. I cooked the beef casserole in the slow cooker.

My freezer will now have ‘ready meals’ for the next few days and I will have lots of time to catch up on sewing jobs and a UFO quilt that keeps calling to me.

Two quiches. The larger one will be portioned and wrapped for lunches and the smaller one was our Sunday lunch with a bit of salad. I don’t eat the pastry.

Is there anything so beautiful as a golden quiche cooking on top of the cooker?

Our lunch, soggy bottom and all………..doesn’t bother DB.


Crispy fish cakes. I will allow these to cool and pop them on a tray with greaseproof paper and place them in the freezer. When they are frozen, I will transfer them to a plastic bag and back in the freezer. 

Final results from the remnants at the bottom of my freezer will feed us all week. Sticky pork, that DB will have chopped up and in a wrap with salad for lunch a couple of days. Quiche for lunches. Beef casserole, fish pie for two days, cottage pie for two days, sausage casserole and fishcakes for two days. Food a bit dark in places? My oven is on its last legs but I’m keeping with it all the way until it just can’t cook any more!

Finally a round up of my thrifty week.

Central heating now off and the only heating is the wood stove.

All laundry dried out in the garden.

Cooked the remnants of the freezer.

Did a food stock take and only bought a minimum top up from Aldi (£18 only spend this week)

Working on a UFO quilt that I want to get finished.

Saved as much as I can as I’m going to the South West Quilt Show!!!!!!! Next weekend!!! On that note, please come and say hello to Dearly Beloved and I if you see us. I will be fabric buying and gasping in utter delight at the quilts on show.

Hopefully, I’ll see some of you at Exeter Westpoint on Saturday and we will arrive at ten and leave around two. Over to you Dear Reader, is anyone else going to the quilt show? What have you done to be thrifty this week? Who else cooks from the bottom of the freezer every now and then?

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx