Thursday, 27 February 2014

Lego can be frugal or super expensive you choose

I was prompted to write this by the fact that we have just been to see the Lego movie as my son just loves Lego, both my boys do actually and we have a house full of it. I enjoyed the film but  have to say going to the cinema is so expensive!  I had decided to take them as a School holiday treat. It was a treat I must stress as I wouldn't be able to justify spending £17.50 for three people to see a film while lots of other people make lots of noise around them on a regular basis.
Over the years my boys have had Lego as Birthday or Christmas presents or bought it with bits  of money they have saved.  Something that has bothered me over the years though is the move away from basic sets to the more themed ones which are just ridiculously priced.  The original idea behind Lego was that you can use it over and over and it never has to be the same thing twice, making it the perfect value for money toy.  You can watch a wonderful little animated history of Lego by clicking this link. Lego story or just click on the image below, I believe they both work!

                                                    Watch The Lego Story it's so nice

I liked that the film had the message you don't have to follow the instructions, this would apply in life as well as with Lego and had some messages in there that only the adults would probably get.  The sad thing is that although it gives the super message of what Lego is all about, building whatever you want with the pieces you have. They then go and spoil it by stocking in every shop Lego movie themed sets! Argh!!!   I suppose there will always be people, adults and children who just have to follow the instructions no matter what.   Of course the real life President business has to keep those commercial wheels turning.  ( You will not know who this is unless you watch the film)
I was very proud that my children came home and started building with their existing Lego and did not even contemplate asking for more, I'm not saying this never happens but we had a little joke about the film and they are intelligent enough to get it.
I would also like to share what my son made for me the other day.

 It reads 'I'm in!' and it is the slogan for the current Mary's Meals campaign.. if you haven't had a look  at what this charity is about please take a look now here Mary's Meals

The idea is you make your own 'I'm in' poster of some description and share it on facebook with a link to Mary's Meals. 
It really is a great charity and I like that it's about educating  children but getting them to access this through a guaranteed meal.  This not only ensures the children are fed but also they will have better prospects so it helps break the cycle. Super work. 

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Recycled sweater hot water bottle cover

I mentioned yesterday that I would make  a cover for my hot water bottle like the one I saw on-line, and this week if you are in the shops you will see everything has hearts on it! Now like hearts on  hand made things any way it's a good simple shape to appliqué, but you can be sure that all that valentine themed stuff will be marked down come next week!  I don't tend to fall for all the marketing ploys and if you can sew,stick, carve or draw you shouldn't either! If you must give a gift I think it says more if you put time into it instead of going out and buying some of the mass produced rubbish and this could be taking someone out for a treat it doesn't have to be a thing.
So getting back to the cover, this is not for a gift I just fancied a change and everything I used I already had to hand, so no cost. Here is the hot water bottle, an old sweater too small for my son and a heart cut from some fabric.
If you are unsure about cutting out a heart shape, fold a piece of paper in half, draw half of a heart starting at the fold curving outwards, cut it out and open up. This can be your template before you try it on fabric, use old envelopes to practice on until you get the shape and size that you require.

I just lay the hot water bottle on top of the sweater and cut around it leaving a seam allowance, because the knit is stretchy you will be able to fit the whole bottle through the neck when it's finished.  Sew all the way around except for the top of the neck of the bottle, then zig zag all the way around also to prevent the knit from unravelling.  It is also a good idea to make your stitch quite small.
Here it is finished with the bottle inside, you have to fold the empty bottle in half lengthways to get it through the opening then it just flops out flat. if you are using a non stretchy fabric just use and envelope style opening at the bottom on the wrong side like you would on a cushion.  It will look a bit plumper when full of water.

Yesterday I started reading A Country Doctor's Notebook, I watched the series A Young Doctor's Notebook when it was on Sky Arts and enjoyed it so I though I would try the original stories. I've had it on order at the library and it just came in last week. 
 If you haven't seen the series it is worth watching, it's clever, funny and dark in places.  If you don't have Sky ( which I think has become expensive) you can get the first series from the library for a £1 and lots of other stuff you may have heard about but missed. I think this is much better value, but I don't think my family would give up the Sky even though most of the time there is nothing I'd watch and the stuff I like is usually on the BBC ( apart from the sky arts stuff, ha, ha, but look I could have got it from the library)
I also found a good bargain today in Aldi 
Rose Shloer for 75p!! It's £2.25 in Asda what a difference.  I think  it may be because they are still selling off the odd bits and pieces of Christmas stuff, or has anyone one found it's always this price in there? I have only just discovered I like it as I went to a meal at a friends and I took one from Asda at £2.25  and liked it ( I no longer drink wine, and it appears I should have gone to Aldi that day too!) my friend also likes it and doesn't drink. At the time I also thought it was a bit much for fizzy pop. Any other ideas for when you fancy something nice and non alcoholic to drink? I'm finding if I go out a lot of drinks are too sweet.   Yes I know water is the best thing for you but no way am I paying for bottled water when I go out for a meal, which is not very often, but paying for water, we already do they are called water rates.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Keep warm and cosy

This post was inspired by frugal queen, who is in Cornwall and they are having some dreadful weather at the moment. I agree with many of her tips for keeping warm and I do hate to be cold, I am not an early to bed person however and we do like to watch the T.V after nine or I read in the living room.  I have found that having fleecy throws on the sofa makes a world of difference as once your room is warmed through  you can just drape the throw over your legs when you are curled up, and switch off the heating. My boys are usually in their rooms after this time and the upstairs gets very warm, I think this is mainly due the fact that we have cavity wall insulation,  done on the government scheme for free at this house but I paid to have it done at my previous home.  I told my parents to get it done but they haven't I don't understand why, we both work and it was available to us.  We also have extra thick insulation in the loft and my husband went under the floor downstairs (he had to crawl) to staple heat retaining insulation under the floor boards, which we found at a good price. I have wood floors which I prefer because I have dogs and I didn't want carpet so I wanted to make the rooms as draught free as possible.
We also found that our double glazing is a bit draughty in places so my husband has attached these draft excluding sponge pieces down the problem areas, also down the back door. This was inexpensive to do.
Here is the one they sell on Amazon here

  I would like some new windows at some point but this is a project for the future.   I feel that making sure your home is as efficient as possible is the key to not wasting too much on heating. You can then add other elements like blankets, sweaters and hot water bottles where necessary.   I agree with frugal queen on keeping up with the hot drinks, have you never noticed how sometimes if you drink a cup of tea quickly you go really hot? Instant central heating.
I think hot water bottles are great and its amazing how much warmth can be obtained from something so simple. You can get loads of cute ones with covers on now, which also keeps them warm for longer.
I saw this one ..
Which would make a great gift for this week if you are into the whole gift giving on valentines day ( I'm not really) but if you are you may as well give something useful. This would be so easy to do with an old sweater or fleece so I'm going to make a new one this weekend for my hot water bottle and I will post on it tomorrow.  
I always wear layers when it's cold as I don't think just wearing a thick jumper is enough, you can get long sleeved T shirts from Primark and shops like that or charity shops, no need for thermal. Just wear them under dresses or tops, add a cardigan or sweater over the top.
Fleece is really inexpensive, you can get throws for as little as £5 new, the fabric is also cheap if you want to make your own items or recycle used fleece jackets (everyone has one).
I agree that if you are sat too long you will feel cold and this why the elderly or people with mobility problems get cold more quickly. If I do something I always feel warmer and going for a walk with the dogs makes it feel like the house is roasting when we get back. 
We all have fleecy robes which are really cosy (I say all but not my husband, not really his thing) my sons both had a new one for Christmas off grandma along with some other clothing, at my request and they are very glad of them these cold weeks.
Close doors between rooms, this is something my boys have not grasped yet and they seem to think I am just a constant nag about coming in and out of the living room leaving the door open. They don't pay bills though, so I know one day they will get it, until then I will nag.  A room which is well insulated will keep warm all evening if doors are not constantly kept open.
You can get more information about draught proofing your home at the energy saving trust

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Fitting in

I thought today I would share some thoughts on a book I'm reading that has struck a chord with me.  I have not finished it yet but the central character doesn't feel like he fits in anywhere other than at home. Now I'm not saying I feel this way but we all have times I'm sure when we feel we don't belong at a place and this could be because of the actions of other people, those people not being kind, or just plain cruel.  The central character Lorenzo tries to behave like others to fit in so he will get less hassle for being different.  I would not do this. I think you should be true to yourself, express your opinions especially if asked for them but do so in an appropriate way.  You should be kind to others but not a doormat, work hard at your job without being exploited, also you should be able to express your concerns to your boss if something is happening that is wrong.  If your friends like who you are they won't only like like you because you say yes to their every word. At the same time they won't sit in a room with people who are criticising you unjustly and say nothing because they fear for their own popularity.
This is all a very cryptic rant  but I just have to say that in a couple of weeks I will leave a job I have loved for  many years  because a new person took a lead position last year, called a meeting to ask about things that might not be going smoothly and because I politely stated a situation that wasn't working this person decided I didn't fit in.  They have underhandedly made this very clear for some time now, even now as I leave they have advertised my position at a higher level, the same level I have asked for but been refused as it was not available, but hey 'I didn't fit in'.  I know I have always worked hard, done my best and not been unkind, other people express shock at this persons behaviour but never in front of them as they are afraid to do so. In front of them they make sure they act so 'they fit in' . I have never had this situation arise with a boss before but I'm sure there are people out there who have.  I have always been respected for getting on and doing my work to the best of my ability but I suppose some bosses are just not strong enough to deal  with anything other than people who stroke their egos, even when they are wrong.
I will start my new job as me, do my best and work hard, I will also pray that my new boss respects me for that.
I might also add I am not the only person to have left due to these reasons, three wonderful strong friends have gone on to pastures new, we meet up regularly as ourselves, don't edit our thoughts to fit in and most importantly share good friendship.  For these people I am eternally grateful to the job I will leave behind and the good times I have had there.
If any one would like to read the book ( which probably has nothing to do with my ramblings) there is a link

                                                                    here  Me and You .
I would also be interested to hear more thoughts on this, has anyone been treated in a similar way? How do you stay true to yourself?

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Skirt refashion step by step

I was itching to do some sewing this weekend and I have had this lovely piece of fabric with deer on it since before Christmas ( a fat quarter) and I have just used one strip of it on a cushion.  I also had a khaki skirt my mother in law picked up a charity shop for a pound because she said I would use the fabric.  Now the deer fabric is not very big but pretty, the skirt has a nice shape at the top but all pointy handkerchief bits around the bottom which I don't care for.  So I decided I would take most of the skirt away just leaving a sort of yoke at the top ( not sure if that's what you call it but never mind). I then placed my other fabric beneath it and shaped it so it would be 'A' line.

Here is the scary crumpled skirt, I didn't bother ironing it yet, not when I'm going to chop off most of it!

You can see here a lot got snipped away, I did check the length with another skirt to make sure it would be long enough when I added the new piece of fabric.

The fabric is brown with a salmon pink, beige and green deer. I think it goes well with the khaki.
                             Ha! More crumpled fabric this time the slip. It will see an iron, promise.

I also had a green slip dress in a lining that again my mother in law gave me from under a lace dress, I chopped and shaped the bottom of this to make a lining.
I stitched down each side of the new fabric, then laid it right sides together with the original skirt making sure side seams lined up then sewed all around.  I then turned it over and top stitched (number 24 on Toyota machine) so the seams were folded back toward the thicker fabric ( in this case the top of the skirt).
Then I sewed my lining in by turning it  through and just catching on the edge of the existing facing at the waist, I didn't machine stitch down the sides of the zip I did this by hand tucking it under as I went. I prefer to do it this way I think you have more control over how flat it lies.
Now it all got a really good iron and a try on. You can't actually see all of the top of the skirt with the top I'm wearing but who wears tops that short anyway in February in England? I like the colour combination, I also have a salmon pink long sleeved T shit and a brown jumper that would go with this so I'm  sure it will get lots of wear.
So I have managed to make that fat quarter into something wearable and recycled something at the same time.  The only part I may change is the lining, the slip was on the bias so I can feel that when I'm wearing it so it may annoy me, I have some other lining so if it proves to be annoying I will change it as that part is very 
quick to do.

So does anyone out there have any small special bits of fabric that could find their way into an item of clothing.  I have been looking at some of the fabulous bright clothes on the  Desigual site here there are skirts that look like they are made from about three or more different fabrics so lots of inspiration there.

I like this skirt

Another Shift Dress

The dress I made today is from the free New Look pattern I got with Sew magazine last month. It is very similar to the scuba dress I made bu...