Renovating in France on a budget 


Hello Dear Reader,

Today, I’ve given the bedroom walls two coats of white emulsion, sanded the skirting boards and given then two coats of eggshell. Scrubbed down the shower room walls and given them the first coat of paint. My thrifted side tables have had a third coat of paint too. We have painting to finish but it’s all just tidying from now onwards.

We want to get all the major jobs done by the end of the day tomorrow so we can get onto the fun easy parts. There’s snagging to do but a massive day of work has made such a difference. We’re also pleased that we’ve kept costs to an absolute minimum.

DB fitted the balustrade today that he’d previously painted. Everything needs a light sand and a final coat of paint. He has lights to fit, doors to hang and we have to move furniture around and tidy. We’ve got to keep going even though I’m fed up of renovations and just want to go out and visit about five places I’ve got on my list. Fortunately, none of them are going anywhere so I can save the for trips in the future. 

When I look at the photo above, I marvel at everything he’s done: cutthe hole in the floor, customised the stairs to fit, built the stairs, built the wall and built the balustrades. DB – you are a star! I am so proud of you xxx

It’s slow going but we are getting there.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

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Wood heating in France

Hello Dear Reader,

We had our firewood delivered today and the farmer just tipped it by our garden gate which I knew he would. Next, we threw it log by log into our garden no of course it got warmer and warmer. I don’t mind any sort of weather except wind, no one likes that. I’ve a shed full of logs to shlep up the garden, up the steps, round the side, then the back of our house and into our shed where it needs stacking. 

We are surrounded by forests in Brittany and wood is the main source of heating in rural areas. It’s reasonably priced and we bought wood that was cut three years ago, dried and stored in an airy barn. It’s dry and ready to use. I bought over a tonne. 

I enjoy the whole process of heating with wood: it’s prepayment so I can be warm and dry our clothes and not worry about cost, it smells lovely, it’s great exercise and it’s carbon neutral. We had a lovely surprise when the neighbour’s visiting teenage grandchildren came out to help us throw the logs into the garden, how charming. 

It’ll take me a while to move it all over a few days as well as aching muscles but it’ll be worth it to have a well stocked wood shed. I’m off to limber up and then move some wood. 

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Keeping clean on a budget 

                       

Hello Dear Reader,

Not knowing how to do something does not make someone stupid. People grow up unable to cook, budget, make do and mend, thrift and so on. They are not stupid. There are some experiences that people don’t have until they need to and then they have to learn. No one should ever be condemned, shamed or blamed but some people haven’t had the experience of keeping clean on a minuscule budget. Currently, in the U.K. Families are having to cut back on hygiene as they can’t afford to keep clean. Now, we can add hygiene poverty to, heating poverty, food poverty, water poverty and period poverty.

I’m not referring to issues such as buying cheaper shower gel but not being able to afford to heat water or pay the water bill! People of my age remember the Rayburn, parkray or emmersion heater being cranked up on a Sunday night, pushing the financial boat out to fill and turn on the paraffin heater in the bathroom and that was the weekly bath! The rest of the week was a ‘strip wash’. Younger people, may never have learned these skills.

Hair was washed in the bathroom sink with two ‘fill ups’ for a couple of rinses and that was that. Now, I’m not suggesting anyone relives the 70s and 80s with me as I think people are genuinely cleaner now for a daily shower. However, people are living in desperate times where  food and living costs means they have very little money for personal hygiene.

Here, for what it’s worth are my tips and feel free to ignore them.

Basics – I don’t buy a lot of toiletries and happily use soap bars, shampoo, talc and anti perspirant and I buy those in Poundland. Even cheaper versions would be a litre of bath gel which is no different from shower gel for 50p. I used it for years and topped up shower gel bottles and hand wash pumps. I currently use Vosene shampoo from Poundland but I used to use Tesco everyday basics shampoo that’s 50p a litre. I buy anti perspirant for a Pound and get through a can a week. Lidl and Aldi have really large cans for 79p, that I pick up when I’m there. The only other product I use is Aldi’s moisturiser for £1.69 and that can last me almost a month.

Water costs – I live in the South West Water area and we have the most expensive water in the UK so I’m used to saving water. I have a gas boiler which heats water on demand and have previously owned an electric shower which also heated water on demand. I have the cheapest tariff for gas and electric and I pay by direct debit. I never leave a tap running, I’m used to jumping in a cold shower and not wasting water whilst it warms up and washing head to toe, including my hair in under five minutes and jumping out. Here in France, we have a tiny hot water tank and we still have to have very quick showers so we can get two showers out of one small tanks. 

Short of water and means of heating it. If you have a prepayment meter and you have the lowest of incomes then a shower is not an affordable daily option. Growing up, many of us didn’t have showers and managed to keep clean.


Above, is my bathroom sink (from our previous home, before we downsized) and I kept a bowl in the sink as I used the water to flush the loo. I used to keep a kettle on the landing and use a kettle full of boiling water to warm up a bowl of cold water. 

First, I’d wash my hair and then in the second rinse water, wash myself from top to bottom with a flannel and bar of soap.  I used to put the loo lid down, place the bowl on the floor to finish by washing my feet. Again, the water went down the loo. Three bowlfuls would be the most I’d need, that’s about seven litres of water. I went to work fresh and clean and I used to shower twice a week. 

Now, I shower daily, have enough hot water, enough toiletries but I’m mindful that people are going through tough times. Local foodbanks are grateful for donations of any: toiletries, sanitary protection, laundry products, loo rolls and cleaning products. 

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

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

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

A few frugal thoughts 

Hello Dear Reader,

Sunday was my ‘big shop’ day. I know some of you have them and some of you scout round for bargains and know just where and when to shop and get the best prices. I occasionally saunter up to the Co op just before it closes but mostly I plan my shopping and rarely shop spontaneously.

I have a big choice of shops that all offer great prices on my way home from work, near my house and within a few minutes drive. I shop in Bodmin which is the neighbouring town just as the way of a change. Any way, I digress, but back to the frugal thoughts.

I can’t remember the last time I just walked into a shop and picked up what every I liked. Don’t get me wrong, I used to do that in another life but I certainly don’t now. I might have ketchup written on my list but I know when I get there I’m looking for the best value per 100g. If you have a few seconds, then look at the unit prices on the shelf prices. I’m so used to doing that now mental maths has really sharpened, I’m sure it’s as good as brain gym or puzzles. I even look at the back of loo rolls and look at how many square metres I’m getting per roll because sometimes the offers are not great. In most cases, I usually buy one up from the bottom price as that seems to get me the best value.

I’m also really on the ball when it comes to working out portion costs and will use a permanent marker to write on packs when I get home, such as frozen chicken breasts, to work out the unit price and then I can budget each meal. My average price of a main meal is £1 a head sometimes a bit lower or higher.

I also do a monthly shop in specific shops, for example, I can’t find better laundry products for the price anywhere but Lidl (and it’ s on my way home) £2.99 for 40 washes which is 7.5p per wash and the £1.99 2 litre bottle of fabric conditioner gives 66 30ml doses, so a mere 3p per rinse. So, roughly 10p in products to do each wash, I haven’t found anything as cheap or as good as that so far.  I’m like Carol Vorderman walking around shops these days.

Just the other day, we were in Asda and we eyed up the packs of sausages like hungry school children and couldn’t bring ourselves to pay £2.50 for 6 gluten free sausages! I immediately said out loud, I just couldn’t help myself, that’s 40p, or thereabouts per measly sausage! A whole chicken was £3.50 and gluten free………….I bought the chicken! Being thrifty and quick with numbers means I’ll pause before I buy, think of the unit price and often, just walk away as it’s not good value.

Before I go shopping, I do a few things. I check www.mysupermarket.com and make sure I can’t get what I want cheaper else where. If  shop in Asda, I use the price promise feature on their website and enter my receipt and get a refund voucher if I could have bought my groceries cheaper else where. I also use any vouchers that come through my door and use them to shop in Farm foods, conveniently next door to Asda to get 10% off my shopping.

I meant to post this on Sunday, whilst this was still in my mind but here it is today. Unusually, a bit random for me as just a few this and that thrifty thoughts came to mind. You may be at the beginning of your thrifty journey, might be tightening your belt, may have something to save for such as a wedding or a new car and may have a whole load of reason why you need to save money. We are saving for our retirement in nine years and have lots or renovation projects on the go which means with the combination of the two, we have to be super thrifty and make every pound do the work of a fiver.

I’m all shopped until the end of the month. I have a full freezer and pantry and will only need to pick up fresh fruit and veg weekly as I have everything else.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxx

 

 

Five Frugal things on Friday

Hello Dear Reader,

I’m going to round up or should I say round off my week by sharing the little things I’ve done this week. Nothing massive, but you know what, it’s often the little things that we just make a habit that add up and eventually make a real difference. Sometimes, it’s the inconsequential things that seem minor and not worth bothering about. I’m sure there are people who are not of our thrifty mind set who really can’t see the point of the little things. That’s ok, we’ll save the money and leave them to it.

Here’s the little things I’ve done this week.

  1. I had a quick stock take of the pantry and freezer, put a menu plan together, then a shopping list. It’s amazing how expensive impulse can be when more than we need goes into our shopping baskets. This way meant that I could stick to our shopping budget with ease and we didn’t feel deprived as we always build ‘something nice’ into our list. This week it was some snacks to have with a movie on Friday night.
  2. I bulked cooked over the weekend and froze meals so we had an easy time of it when we got in from work. We have a commute and it can be variable and unique to Cornwall. Nothing feels as hungry as a tired teacher stuck behind a tractor on the A374 who’s only comfort when chugging along at fifteen miles an hour is that dinner is virtually ready when I get home all late and grumbly.


3. I made and packed all our lunches at the beginning of the week and they are ready in the fridge to grab and go. Wrapped in foil, a cheese, ham and pickle sandwich lasts all week and means we’ll never be late or tempted by a meal deal as those few minutes extra under the duvet tempt all of us from time to time

4.I got free exercise at the weekend by splitting logs for our wood stove. I’d like to say I was heroic and wielded and axe but I used our log splitter. We bought the wood green and have laid it down like a fine vintage to be burnt next year. I got hours of amusement playing ‘log jenga’ and then covering them so they get some air but not the inevitable rain.

5.I’ve had a one spend week, meaning I did our shopping last Friday and haven’t needed to spend anything else all week. Tonight, after work, I’ll go to my nearest discount supermarket with my list and buy everything we need for the week ahead.

 

All such little inconsequential savings that means I’ve kept to the family budget, that we’re on track with savings targets this month and we’re heading towards the end of the month with healthy finances.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xx

 

 

Poundland pain relief

  
Hello Dear Reader,

Does anyone use this? £1 and it works. My toe joints, thumb joints and wrists really hurt today. Pain is odd! It travels around regardless of what I’ve done. Sometimes my shoulders are on fire then nothing for weeks and then out of the blue, my feet are in agony usually my arches but joints at other times.

I need to pare back my diet for a couple of weeks and try any work out if it’s something I’m eating, keep a movement diary to see if it’s the way I sit or something I do that causes pain. 

In the meantime, I’m relying on local pain relief and I’ll see how I get on. It’s a great relief from a humble quid!

Over to you, any cheap meds that work for you?

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx

Flipping out!

           
Hello Dear Reader,
Here’s a question for you. Do you find it difficult to spend money?
Here’s a thing.
We’ve a major chunk of money to spend: kitchen, van hire, furniture, curtain fabric…….blah, blah, blah.
It provoked a massive emotional reaction. I’ve actually felt really distressed and have genuinely panicked. I’ve got the best price, I’ve hustled and haggled but still that massive amount of money out has left my current account almost empty. That’s a first for years. Maybe it’s reminded me of what life used to be like? I’m not coping well at all! 
I’ve also been totally distracted with planning and scrap booking. 
                                    
By wall ideas……..DB will have to build dividing walls. We hope to use plyboard…..it’s cheap and easy.
                                           
Also, by stairs as DB will need to build them too.
We are being thrifty but I’m being a numpty!
Feel free to offer amateur psychoanalysis as to why I’m an emotional wreck!
Love Froogs xxxx

Roll on spring

Froogs 2013 at a Spring Flower Show, 4th April at Boconnoc. Really cold but full of lovely displays of colour.

Hello Dear Reader,

Apologies for my absence, I can only explain as feeling flat as a pancake. Can’t explain it really. It’s that feeling of being really tired, having no inspiration and just wanting to sleep off this endless winter! I mean, I’m sure it’s rained since October, we’ve had floods, the ground is totally boggy and everyone’s homes are fusty from not being able to open the windows.

Well, according to the Met Office website, spring starts on March 20th and I for one am counting the days! Roll on is all I can say.

This enforced hibernation is good for saving money as I just don’t feel like getting out at all! I met a friend today at the supermarket cafe for a coffee and catch up and that’s the first time I’ve gone out in months. It’s grey and fuggy outside and I just want to hunker down by my sewing machine or by the fire and read. 

I’ve down loaded some books and magazines from the local library website and used their free Zinio service. Another friend has kindly given me some clothes to recycle and I’ve cut them up for quilting and crafting. I’ve gone through my sewing room and pulled out unfinished projects and I’m ashamed to say I have three on the go!!! I’ve a sewing day planned in half term to share with someone and I want to get up to speed with some cutting and sewing practice until then. It’s been a while and I’m rusty. 

So, it’s been the usual thrifty week. I’ve got lots to look forward to in half term with meet ups, social events, sewing day and working on some unfinished projects.

But most of all, I’m looking forward to spring!

Over to you, who else is fed up with the endless gloomy wet skies?

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx