Flat packed furniture in France 

Hello Dear Reader,

Emmaüs in Morlaix is half an hour from our home and we try to visit there every trip. We’ve just bought small items of furniture on our two previous trips but this time we bought an armoire which fortunately came apart with a series of bolts and catches.

One of the chaps in the shop dismantled it for us, gathered up all the screws and then all we had to do was fit it into and on top of our car. DB secured it really really firmly as we didn’t want anything falling out of the back of the car.

We then carried, piece by piece up the garden path, round the back of the house and up the exterior stairs to the top floor and stacked it up.

It took about twenty minutes to take apart and two hours to assemble. 

Here’s our reassembled thrifted armoire that cost us 60€, some time and a bit of effort. It’s effectively flat packed furniture even though it’s all wood. Now we know how to take it apart and get it home, we’ll aim to have one in every room.

We aim to get our new bedroom completely finished so we can sleep in there for a couple of nights. 

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

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

My packing is weirder than your packing!

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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.

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Until Saturday,

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,

 

What is life like without debt or credit?


Hello Dear Reader,

We became debt free in 2011 and have stayed that way ever since. We’ve not used a credit card since 2009 and we’ve just learned to live beneath our means. As Mr Micawber would say “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure £19 and 9 shillings, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure £20, result misery”

So, how is our life a bit different from other people. We certainly spend and have what we need but it’s always done with some planning and budgeting. We know what we will spend on Birthdays, Christmas, holidays and anything else that we buy. We save up for everything we need. 

Neither DB or I have expensive work do’s. His work doesn’t have one at all and mine, which I’m going to, is £4. I think we can work those two costs into the budget. Previously, we’ve both turned down the £25 a head Christmas, end of term celebrations as just beyond our budgets. It’s often difficult to say no, or do something different around our peers. 

It’s somewhat easy for us now, we don’t really do a conventional consumerist Christmas and haven’t done so for years. It’s a lovely time off, a few homemade treats (isn’t everyone looking forward to a mince pie?) and time for each other and our nearest and dearest.

What though if you are new to this? What was it like when it was new to us? Well, there’s no easy way to say this but it was really hard. We said no to everything when we were in debt and paying off debts. Now, we say no to anything that we personally feel is a waste of our own money. People used to challenge us, saying we could afford something and we used to kindly explain that we were paying off debts, or saving up for something important and were being careful with what we did with our incomes. 

It’s certainly easier now, these are hard times for everyone and we’re no longer the thrifty minority but part of the growing majority of people for whom every pound has to do the work of a fiver! Maybe us frugals led the way? Who knows?

Life now is very different. The fire is lit, we can afford plenty of firewood. The freezer and pantry is stocked. The bank accounts are managed to work for us and we regularly pay in savings for: our holiday in France next year, long term saving fund for a new roof and medium term savings for a new boiler. It’s all in the plan. What’s the same? We don’t eat out more than on the most rarest of occasions (we had fish and chips in Looe in the summer and again in the autumn when we visited Whitby) I still shop the sales, charity shops and look out for household items in the freeads and ebay. If we continue to be careful then we will continue to be solvent. 


We used to be skint and now we’re comfortable.

Our past did not define us.


Life without debt or credit is now our normal.
Froogs xxxxxx

Who wants to be a miser?


Hello Dear Reader,

There are loads of ways that I save money every day. I always take my coffee and lunch to work everyday. I shop for groceries with a budget and stick to it. I home cook all our meals. If we go out for the day, we take food with us. Our central heating is set low and on for an hour a day on working days and two hours a day on other days. The thermostat is set to 17 degrees. Our main heat source is our wood burner and we buy wood for £100 a tonne and it’s bought and paid for when we use it. We buy two or three new items of good quality clothing a year and wear it for years. 

We had two holidays last year (one was our honeymoon) so we won’t be having one this year. We’ve eaten out once this year and my daughter treated me for Mother’s Day; other than that we don’t eat out. We don’t eat takeaways or ready meals. Christmas and Birthday celebrations are kept to the bare minimum (a nice meal on either occasions and no gifts). Most days are no spend days. A spend day is rare.

You may ask what am I being frugal for? I’m saving for a new car but will admit that prices are rising so fast that I’ll never get there. I’m also using most of our incomes to pay off £18,000 – £20,000 of the capital on our mortgage this year. The amount we will pay back will increase each year as the interest payments decrease. We also save monthly for any additional costs our home might incur such as plumbing repairs or general maintenance. 

I don’t save money for the sake of simply saving it; to look at a balance sheet and marvel at the amount. I’m saving and living a simple and frugal life for a reason. If I want a new sofa, then I will have been frugal to save for it. If I want a new car, I’ll have been frugal to save almost half the balance of the new car and I’ll have to be very frugal to make the car payments each month. If I want to buy fabric at a quilting show or plants at a flower show, then I’ve saved the money and hand over cash. 

I’m frugal but live in a warm and comfortable home. I’m frugal but eat well and I’m frugal but invest in my health and well being and that includes working towards weight loss. My blog is my online diary where I document my daily comings and goings and that might include trips to Ikea to look at sofas or the local dealerships to look at cars. At some stage, I’m going to spend money on something or other. 


 To the reader who doesn’t like my choices, feel free not to read my blog. But think of this, every time you come back and comment and keep my visitor numbers high, you make my blog more profitable for me. 

Over to you Dear Reader, does anyone want to be a miser? I don’t want to be a miser but live sensibly and carefully and can and will spend if I want to. Who else saves for a reason such as retirement, having holidays, taking their children out and about or living as they choose? I look forward to your comments.


Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Loving the quiet

Hello Dear Reader,

We made it to Wadebridge and got out on the Camel Trail today. It was bitterly cold and I was half way there before the warmth I’d generated in my body made it to my hands or ears. We also cycled the five and a half miles there in a head wind, so strong we couldn’t talk to each other over the top of it. We don’t bother with the Camel Trail in good weather as it is the M25 of cycle routes and jam full when ever the sun is out. Today, it was blustery, over cast and thankfully quiet.

Padstow was equally quiet. As it was so cold, we went to the pub for a coffee, much cheaper than anything that has the word ‘Stein!’ outside it. The fire was lit, and we sunk into big leather sofas and enjoyed the rare treat of someone else making it and washing up.

Cycling back was easy as the wind was behind us. It took us forty five minutes to get there and only thirty to get back. I now feel rejuvenated and ready to face a busy week. Quite an expensive weekend for us. Paid to park twice and two coffees. Probably the most money I have spent in a very long time. In better weather we usually sit outside on a bench and drink our own coffee.

Anyone else on extreme money saving measures? Everything is so expensive that I’m sure we’re not the only ones counting every penny.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs

Living simply and the simple pleasures.

 Hello Dear Reader,

Busy day today, lots to do. I’m off to the library in a few minutes and I thought I would share my walk with you. I try to live as simply as I can and take pleasure in simple activities. By 10.15 this morning, we were home again after a five mile walk around Siblyback Lake. We did it at a brisk pace in just over an hour. The dogs loved it and came home splattered in mud and grit. They’re now bathed and blow dried and their usual fluffy gorgeous selves again.

Here is the offending muddy tummy. Being short in the leg means they soak up every splash.

 They loved snuffling in the woods.

 They sniffed the wool caught on fencing.

 They had a good chat with the local.

 There is no shortage of water in this reservoir!

Back through the gate at the end and back to the car park. Another simple pleasure of walks like this are the cheery ‘good mornings’ from joggers, ramblers and dog walkers as we went around. There were occasional showers and the simple pleasure of hearing the rain splashing on the lake had a beauty of its own.

We came back, emptied the washing machine, hung the washing in the breeze, bathed the dogs and sat and enjoyed a coffee whilst sitting on the chilly but sunny patio.

Simple pleasures.

Love Froogs xxx

Good grief! I almost spent some money!

Reminding myself that I have to keep a grip! I used to have fat days and thin days, now I just have fat days and sexy days. It’ll have to do. I almost lost my grip today and looked else where for an answer. I bought a local paper (first waste of money and I mustn’t do it again!) Secondly I read the rubbish and thirdly I reacted to an advert and contacted a health and fitness club and almost thought of going! It would have cost me £5.80 a week and I would have used it as a crutch for my own lack of will power. I have to sort out will power myself. I have it and I know when I use it, things go right, for example, I’m paying back debts. Weight loss is the same. I have all the old ‘diet club’ advice, I followed it before and I lost three stone. Going to the class did not make me lose the weight, I did! I need to sort out the rest of my self control. I need to follow the programme I did before and just stick to it!

Well, I am doing just that and it’s left me feeling that stupid guilt that I feel about money, by huge weight gain and not doing things for myself. Only I have the answer.

It’s amazing what blogs can do to remind you that you have the answers yourself! Firstly, I read Ilona’s blog at ‘Life after money ‘. I’ve met Ilona, she stayed with us last summer and she says it, lives and reaps the rewards of her frugal life. She travels, raises money for an animal charity, rambles, walks miles in the peace of her own company and is an all round positive person. Her blog today, reminded me, that it isn’t easy and that self discipline has its own rewards and they are sometimes delayed and they are never instant. Saving a few pennies here, there and anywhere will eventually pay off my debts.

I then read the fantastic blog Mennonite Girls can cook and their Sunday message of ‘bread for the journey’. There was the message I needed today and it said –
Hebrews 12:11 NIV

” No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have trained by it.” No recipe today, but certainly the nutrition I needed today.

My harvest and my peace will come, it’s in the distance and there’s a slow journey. I just need to make sure it’s a low calorie portion controlled one, which is also low in cost and can be batch cooked to make sure when I get there, I’m not dragging myself there but springing energetically!