Sunday, 29 June 2014

Shoes and Pools

I have had  few unexpected must buys this week and a few that I knew were coming. First of all younger son puts on School shoes on Monday and announces there is  a hole in the bottom! Great off to Meadowhall that evening to buy new ones, this is unavoidable we can't have holes in our shoes.  Then on Friday older son comes home in rain saying feet are wet he has got a hole in his shoe also, what are they doing to them! They have only had their shoes for six weeks. Is it me or should shoes last longer than that when you have not outgrown them? This seems to be a regular thing, they are from different shops so I can't blame that but they never last more than two months. Do I expect too much? Also older son is  in  men's leather shoes so we can't just blame this on kids shoes in general, maybe my too are just very heavy on their feet.  I then had to buy a gift for a children's party and also a gift for a family birthday this week.  Some would say opt out of the whole gift buying thing but if a child gets invited to a party then they should be able to go I feel and not empty handed. If it was every week  and some ones finances couldn't stretch then fair enough but it's not usually every week is it?  The other gift was for one of the grandmothers so again a genuine need I think.  I don't agree with the whole gift giving to every one you ever meet at birthdays and Christmas, that can get a bit ridiculous but close family and friends then yes.
That said we haven't done anything other than food shopping this weekend and a walk with the dogs today which led me to quite a silly internet search when I got back.  There is a house for sale near us that has been on the market for ages, the reason being it's very expensive.  I heard it has a pool out back and as I love to swim and get stressed with the crowding at my pool when I'm trying to swim, I thought I'd have a look on Right Move.  It is very  expensive, but the pool looked lovely. So then I got looking at houses in California which have pools and the properties are so much bigger yet far cheaper, £200,000 cheaper in fact than the ones with pools here.  Lets face it though they do have the right climate for an outdoor pool and we don't.
Then my search led me here...
Now this looks more like it I thought I could buy that much cheaper than moving... ARGH! What was I doing.  All I did was go for a walk perfectly contented with my lot (aside from annoying shoes that don't last!) and I came back ready to move countries, disgusted at our overpriced housing market and lack of affordable properties with pools, then a yearning for an affordable above ground pool.  Can you see where I'm going with this?  I will not be doing or buying any of the above but it easy to see how people can quickly convince themselves that they need or want something, be it anything from a pair of shoes, a jacuzzi or a new bigger house.  I have always planned and saved for any major purchase, along with a discussion with my husband finding the best deal and then waiting to be certain.   I know that with the arrival of internet shopping this no-longer happens for most people.  A search such as the one I had may have led some to buy a pair of designer shoes (OK it's not a pool) but lots of impulse buys like that are what  lead some people to debt. With the internet it is just so easy to sit at home and click add to cart.  It's also easy to convince your self that what you have is not enough.  Well many of us have more than enough and it's even better if what you have is debt free.  I recognise how silly my little wander around the net was this afternoon, but I just wanted to share how easy I think it is  to get pulled into that state of discontent if you look a little too long. 

Friday, 27 June 2014

Frugal Friday Dinner

Just got home tonight and realised that there wasn't enough quorn mince for the bolognaise  that I intended to do for dinner.  I was loath to go out and buy any more as we are going to do the shopping tomorrow, also it is raining and I really didn't want to go out again. I had one small chicken breast left and there was a can of chick peas in the cupboard.  I added the chickpeas to the bolognaise and fried the chicken in a pan separately as with two of us being vegetarians we really didn't want chicken juices in our food!  I also had a garlic bread in the fridge so we had that also.  A grating of cheese finished it off, it tasted good,  filled us up and I didn't need to go out to the shops.  I might also add that the sauce was out of the freezer that my husband spotted in Tesco a couple of weeks ago in the marked down fridge for 15p. It was over a pound to begin with and was perfect for freezing so he bought two.
I then found this site after thinking how useful it is to have chickpeas in the cupboard, . 10 weeknight dinners with chickpeas

   I should have took some pictures but everything was just cooked and gone in no time, which is how it should be really.  Had I been in a lazy mood I might have said 'Oh what can we have?' and either popped out or suggested a trip to the chippy which is not a fortune but I often think well they were rubbish when we do that.
 I read a post the other day about using up what you have and while I do generally eat what is in and planned for, I find that it is not so easy to make do with what is in the cupboards sometimes with children around.   Even the best thought out meals sometimes elicit moans (teenagers!) so I do admire the likes of Elaine from Mortgage Free in Three who has boys who eat all her frugal creations without complaint.  I have not been too soft and foods have been introduced again and again along with variety but there is some real fussiness.  (I have been told I was equally fussy ) Funny I don't remember, ha!
I have made a decision to be more mindful of spending again as I feel I have slipped a little recently I think it very easy to get into the habit of thinking it's ok to just pop and buy stuff from the shops on a whim. I could afford to go and just eat out this evening but why?  Often it is overpriced and poor quality. (I would recommend using discounts and finding somewhere that serves fresh food . See previous post on cheap Lunch)
I do like to meet up with friends sometimes, so on these occasions we will find somewhere reasonable and eat out then but that is very occasionally.  Most of the time I feel I would rather save for something else.  If anyone has any fail safe recipes for fussy teens  I would love to hear about them.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Cheap Lunch Out

Yesterday we went for lunch at Green City Coffee. We had a voucher from discount vouchers, well actually we had two because all four of us went and the offer was for two people.  I had not been there before but I will be visiting again the offer was for any sandwich and a slice of cake for two people for £6. The food was delicious and fresh, they had a good choice for vegetarians, friendly staff and a really nice spot.  It helped because the sun was shining so we sat outside but it looked nice inside too.

We occasionally take up the offers that are forever being emailed once you sign up for these things, but I think it is good as you find places you wouldn't have known about otherwise.  We said we will go back again at some point, so if you are in Sheffield and want somewhere to go for lunch this a good choice.  
Today we went to an event at Millhouses park called Cliffhanger. 

This was £12 for us to get in as a family and was not as good as I thought when I saw the promotional videos for it. The children stood in a que for nearly an hour to go on this free fall drop thing and just as we were nearing the front they had to shut it down due to technical problems ( a wasted hour!) That probably couldn't be helped but most of it was small stuff and large ques, it was nice weather but I think that we maybe would have enjoyed the park without the event and the admission fee.  The promotional video showed lots of stunts and demonstrations going on but we didn't see much just some bike polo!  It was on yesterday so maybe it was more of that then, others may disagree but I don't think I would bother again with that.  When we got back the sun was still out and we did the garden, I think I enjoyed my afternoon more at home.   I  must also remember to weed more often as the little ones come up so easily and the big ones are just a pain.
 I  have some dress ideas for this week so I will start those tomorrow but I did repair my husbands zip in his work trousers so some money saved there and a little sewing repair for someone else. 

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Re-fashioned, Skirt to Top

I have had a bit of time today to get some sewing done.  I also wanted to get making some more items to list on Folksy.  I had the skirt that my mother in law gave me, lovely fabric, originally form French Connection but she bought it at a charity shop.  I sat and stared at it for a while then decided to completely cut it up and make into something else entirely.  Here is how it started out...
It was washed, cut up and the pieces ironed.
I have some little bits left that I will turn into something else.  I used my dress mannequin to drape and decide what shape I was going for, I still find  I am working like this rather than planning first on paper. That was the intention behind the fashion drawing books but as I have always done it this way I suppose my habits of working are hard to break.  I decided I was going to make this item as a size 12 as that is a more common size, also I went for a halter neck that hung and sat just above the hips but hiding the tummy as people don't always want to be hitching their top down do they?
Here it is, there is a little tuck at the front and the rest has been left to just drape as I thought this would save any sizing issues as everyone is so different.
Here is the back view, I added a little band of elastic on the inside to make the back a bit more secure.  Also how high the neck is at the front will determine how far down the back can be worn.
I really like the fabric so I always just want to keep the stuff I make!
So I have listed it on My Folksy Store and it will remain on there this summer. If there are no takers then it will be resized for me next summer! I have decided if I do it this way I am less likely to feel like I am not making any progress. I like clothes so this just means instead of thinking oh no that item didn't sell I can reframe the thought to oh good new clothes for me.
Focus on the positive. 
So that was my afternoons work, now I must iron boo!

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Making money from your passion

A couple of conversations this week and reading a blog post by Andrea at Four Square Walls got me thinking how many of us are lucky enough to make a living by following our dreams or hobbies.  I really admire people who do, who stick to what they want and don't give up no matter how long it takes.  I never really knew what I wanted to do when I was at school and it was sort of expected I would leave and get a job, any job and that is what I did.  I have never been out of work from leaving School at 16 and I am grateful for that but I do envy those who have a true passion, one that is unwavering over time.  I returned to education later, and studied part-time while working from home when the children were younger, I did this  to improve my options and it did. I changed my job from working in a sewing factory which was killing my love of sewing to becoming a teaching assistant.  I do enjoy my work but there are days when I feel I am missing something.  I suppose a lot of us feel that way sometimes, I have done a few  alteration jobs for people this week and I really enjoy these jobs, just me, the sewing machine and some loud music.  I sort of need the stability of a regular income too though, very brave the people who own their own businesses and may not know how the next month will pan out income wise.
I have a few bits listed at my Folksy shop and I did sell another bag this week, only a small profit but such a wonderful feeling that someone wants to own something I made.
When I see fabric I am full of ideas what I could do but the thought of items sitting unsold in the cupboards puts the breaks on a lot of the time.  Fabric is expensive which is why I choose to use recycled mostly  but how gorgeous are those prints below?
 I want to do more of this  but working full time and having a family means I sew when I can. I know that is not very brave or daring and maybe I should be taking more risks with it.  In Andrea's post she confessed to having given up her job and taken a job in a sewing studio to learn more and follow her dream.  How brave is she and although I would not want to go back to working as a jobbing machinist in a factory by choice  (don't get me wrong I would if I was out of work and needed to) I love the way she has just gone for it to see if this is for her.   I spoke to friend last night who's daughter is at college doing performing arts, she wants to sing and that is all she has ever thought of doing, her parents are very supportive and she is working on songs for an album and is always out doing performances.  I just thought wow! If she is going to give it her every best shot I'm sure she will get somewhere with it.
I think sometimes we compromise because we need some stability, of course more so when you have a family you are not just thinking of yourself when you make choices. Working for some one else means you have to bite your tongue quite a lot, you feel your life is not your own at times and there are things you just don't agree with but what can you do?  We make this trade for the comfort of having a pay cheque each month and someone else having the worry of how that comes about, I just think sometimes are all those hours that we will never get back well spent if we are not truly happy?  I just want to say to every one out there who is following their dream and working doing what they love most, good on you, I want to join your club one day.  I just need to figure it out...

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Being healthy without spending a fortune

I have just started the evening meal and later on I will be going for a swim, we were talking about exercise and the gym etc. earlier at work and it got me thinking about how much is spent by some on memberships and how little they are used.  I joined my local pool a year and a half ago when the Change4life scheme had posted through my door.  I  have always gone to the pool but I only used to go once a week and sometimes that wasn't a definite thing, but the cost was always an issue as a quick swim soon adds up especially when you are taking the children along.  I had looked at joining before but it worked out too expensive however when the offer was on I got two years membership for £249 which is great, it covers the gym and sauna also but I don't use these.  When you consider I was paying £4.00 per swim before this is a huge saving plus I go two or three times a week now, the only downside is that with lessons and swim team meetings times can be limited in the evenings. If you are looking to join a gym or pool I would definitely recommend keeping an eye out for the Change4life posters outside your local leisure centre.
I think they look like jelly babies (but that is not very healthy)

It should have been £249 for the year but if you paid in full you got the second year for free, I think this just shows it's best to save when you can and then you can make the most of offers like this.  There was the option to pay monthly by direct debit but that was just for the one year  membership.
When the posters were up again near us recently my husband decided to join but he prefers the gym as he doesn't like to swim.  There are lots of things you can do if you don't want to spend money however, walking is always the easiest and cheapest plus most accessible to all ages, my friend has just started going to jive dancing in the week and she says that is really good for working up a sweat they are not formal lessons it's more of a social evening.  I have borrowed DVD' s from the library, there are all kinds of exercise workouts you can get there.  You can also get free trial sessions at some gyms and if you have health problems there are great reductions you can get from a GP referral.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Frugal things

Well the sun was shining at last all  day yesterday so the washing was on the line, that is the first frugal thing of the week and what a difference I think it makes to your mood just to get outside and feel the sunshine. I can never understand when people complain about the warm weather we just don't get enough of it for anyone to complain!  Wear a hat, open some windows but please don't complain when the sun shines!  A walk with the dogs to the park and a visit to family and while I was there I got given this skirt for the fabric...
I don't know if I will modify it and keep as a skirt (probably a bit shorter and less gathered) or if it will become something else, still free fabric is a good thing it cost so much now.  We then discovered had not picked up a pudding for desert when we went shopping so I made a chocolate and orange cake and the best bit was the eggs were form my sister in laws hens that she gave me the other day.  She actually said they don't really like eggs which I though was funny seeing as they keep hens. So cheap desert sorted! 
i had a sit at the top of the garden in the sunshine and we had been talking about what plants and stuff we need for the garden when I spotted this...

Can you see that little splash of pink? Roses growing among all the brambles at the other side of my fence near the tracks. I took a close up.
How beautiful is that? It will be really tricky to get to as the thorns on the surrounding bushes are huge but my husband said he will get boots and gloves on and get us a couple of cuttings.  I read that it is ok to take cuttings from wild plants just don't damage or uproot the original, which is bizarre when you consider the land that gets cleared for houses etc. Also it was mentioned that wild roses only flower for a couple of weeks early summer and that cuttings should be taken August to September.  I think if I wait until then I will not be able to find the plant without the flowers! Does anyone know if it will still work if we do it this early, rather thrilled at the idea of a free plant.  
One last frugal thing that got done this weekend was my husband finished re-staining the decks.
I think that has transformed them ready for the summer lets hope we have a good one. 

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...