Monday, 30 March 2015

Frugal things this week

As Easter is nearly here I get a lovely two weeks off work, this doesn't match up with the children's holiday very well as they don't finish until Thursday but it does mean I get chance to sort a few things while I am home. I have had more frugal weeks, this weeks expense mainly due to the fact that I went out on Friday night paying for taxi's home really annoys me as they are so expensive and a big chunk of the nights funds gone right there! Still I don't do it every week so I need to let that go.
So my first frugal thing is recycle a notebook to a Diary or vice versa. This years diary is a notebook I have had for a couple of years and I got it in the sale about £1.20, I stuck print out diary inserts in last year, pulled out the pages this year and did new ones, it has so many pages  there are loads left, plus pockets to put things in.  I also stuck in a little motivational image in the corner of each page and I have decorated some of the pages also, paper clipped things in etc.  Here is an image of some future months but they are plain at the moment as not yet used...

While I was tidying out my wardrobe I found an old  diary my husband bought a couple of years ago after Christmas because it was cheap 50p I think, it is A5 and I think I put it away and forgot about it (oops!) anyway there is plenty of useful paper in it so it will become a notebook.  You can stick something over the dates if it bothers you or doodle over them. I think I will stick a picture over the year on the front.
I hate for stuff to be wasted, and it is such a pretty book I suppose you could also stick ideas in for projects and use it like a scrap book.
The next thing is I am now a convert to washing stuff on rapid ( on my machine that is a 29 minute wash) I have washed on low temperature before but always felt surely the short wash wouldn't be enough.  I did a few loads earlier and one of the items was my son's light grey jeans that had a mark on the back from the park, I only thought I should have treated the stain once they were mid cycle but it has completely gone!  All this time thinking the washer had to run for one hour thirty or whatever it is, that should save some energy.

Repairing stuff is my next money saver of the week, I tend to do this anyhow but I had a dress with a button missing, a hole in some trousers (very small) that needed sorting before it got any bigger and a small hole in a hoody seam. Now these were all very simple repairs but so many people throw out such items due to some simple to fix defect.  

Organise your stuff, now I am not the best at this but I am tackling an area at a time. It is also easier to tidy and find stuff once you have done this so that is a good reason to do this yourself and not rely on  a cleaner.  I don't know why people waste money on cleaners but that is their business but I just wonder how they ever find their own stuff? I mean you put things away and then you tend to remember where as long as it is not buried under other things. If someone else does that for you they know your environment and have a mental stock take of your belongings better than you, I find that a bit odd.

Anyway while I was doing my own  cleaning/organising today I washed the cushions in my son's room, they didn't have an inner proper cushion just  stuffing and no fastener just tacked shut (they were cheap). So I just unpicked it on one side, washed them and put the stuffing back as it was all in a cushion shape.  I will add some velcro I think but for now I will just stitch closed as he wants them back! I will also make proper inner covers out of old shirts or something another day, maybe when he is at school this week.
 These also washed well on Rapid wash. 

I also made my own salsa today for everyone to have with  wraps, it works out a bit cheaper, you get loads more and you know it is all healthy with no additives or anything.
 I know I will spend the next couple of weeks thinking of extra ways to save to make back the money spent on that taxi! However on a final note  finding ways to save doesn't bother me as you have to make it into a game, there are lots of ways to be happy without spending lots of money just make sure you do something you love every day.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Shoe Revamp Ideas

I have been looking for a pair of lace up low heeled shoes for work/everyday and as I have something very specific in mind this is proving difficult. I like anything I buy to earn its keep! So I have to love the shoes, they have to go with lots of things and they have to be comfortable enough to wear all day so not too high but sometimes very flat can be just as bad. I was going to use a bit of the money I made form the bridesmaid dress but not all of it, yet all the shoes I loved were ridiculously expensive.  Below are some of the ones I have admired but will not be buying...

These are a nice neutral colour but although I love the ribbon they would not go with everything with much with so much green in them.
Again the lilac ribbon limits their use but I do love these slightly wacky shoes as I like anything a little different.
So those shoes were by poetic license and I found that they were cheaper on ebay but still more than I want to pay. My next thought was having a browse at more neutral shoes but maybe dong the ribbon thing myself then I could change them up if I wanted to.  I am currently watching a beige pair of low heeled lace up brogues on  and my intention is to add the ribbon laces if I win them, the heel is lower than the ones above.
Now you can buy the ribbon laces here Pimp my shoes satin ribbon laces and there are lots of colours and different sellers on amazon.
But I also found that you can just make the ribbon laces yourself by just using ribbon and heat shrink tubing, you just pop it on the ends with a bit of glue and shrink with a hair dryer. That might be more cost effective once you have the tubing but I suppose it depends how many laces you intend on making.
I have found the tubing on ebay for £1.35 so it is cheaper to make them! There is also a tutorial explaining what to do here . So you could buy cheap ribbon and change them to match your outfit (occasionally, it may get tiresome re-lacing the shoes too often.)
Another thing I've seen is someone using decoupage on an old pair of shoes to hide scuffs and give them a new lease of life, here is the image for that...
Now these are not really my style and I'm not sure how the effect would look close up but it may be something that would work just to liven up a scuffed heel or maybe just around the toes but you would have to get it very symmetrical I think. find out how here

Now I also like to take care of what I already own and I have a pair of much loved ballet pumps in nude which are getting a little scuffed near the toe and the sole is thin (it was to begin with but now it really is). These shoes are very comfy so I intend on finding out how much it will cost for a new sole and to have the scuff touched up, they weren't expensive to begin with maybe £14 but if I can have them repaired for £10 I would rather do that and have something I know fits well and not be adding more to landfill! It is also unlikely I would find a similar pair for that price. 
There are lots of ideas out there for re-styling your existing shoes including dyeing them a darker colour to hide marks and someone had even used clip on earrings on them for detail. It would be good to hear from anyone who has done something similar.  I will post an update on what happens with mine, I might also add the ones I am bidding on are gently used. 

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Easter Plans

We have had to change our plans a little for Easter, we did intend on taking the caravan out for its first adventure of the year but thanks to Network Rail that wont be happening. About a month ago we got a letter saying that our fence was in the wrong place along with a plan. By the look of the plan a lot of other properties along the line had also got to move fences back so it wasn't just us.  What's more it said if we didn't move it within fourteen days there would be legal action! Well we moved the lovely fence, seating area, deck, stone walls and all the lovely work my husband had done because they refused any offers of purchase or rent of the extra dead space that would be left.  After all the work was completed my husband took photos and emailed several times to check they were happy before we spend any further time and money finishing it all off in the new position (e.g making the bottom of the fence secure for the dogs as the railway is at the other side and it has to be solid at the bottom for safety.)
We have heard nothing! First they threaten you, then when you are being decent people and saying is this ok? Let us know so we can secure our property safely, they don't want to know.  So we have had to go ahead and finish the bottom of the fence not knowing if they will complain again. What is worse is that they will just let the bramble grow up again and weeds but never maintain the land.
Here is what the top of the garden looked like last year...

Where the little blue plant pot is now where the fence is! The seat has been moved to the left of the picture and we have lost about five foot all the way down the right hand side of the garden. The shrub to the right  has been moved and stone walls dismantled. We also had a deck at the bottom that has been there for seven years that is now in bits leaving a small deck with a gap that needs fixing. 

This has left an awful lot of tidying up work so aside from the usual church visits our Easter will consist of making this good and putting it right.  It will be beautiful again just a bit smaller.  We have also saved all emails to network rail in case  they come and want to spoil it again. They only noticed the boundaries of properties because they were chopping down hundred year old trees in the middle of the night!! If you live beside the tracks you will be familiar with the fact that they think it is ok to use industrial machinery at two a.m in the morning at weekends for hours at a time. They also leave all the mess beside the tracks! Surely loose logs are more dangerous!  Anyone else had unexpected change of plans? Never mind it will all be good.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Bridesmaid jacket

Last week when I had finished the Bridesmaid dress and the it was due to be collected the lady came and asked me if I would also make a jacket to match with the left over material if there was enough. I agreed so she left the dress with me to be collected this evening, she also wanted me to use the right side of the fabric this time ( the dress was made using the reverse).  It was a good decision to use the reverse side of the fabric for the dress I feel as it has a better  quality look to it, I made up the jacket with no pattern and a few measurements but the child has yet to try it so fingers crossed as I want to say goodbye to this item now!!
Here it is...

The idea is that the jacket is just to keep the chill off if it is too cool, the days are getting warmer but the wedding is in a few weeks and we are still having some really cold days occasionally. 
My own sewing has taken a back seat again so hopefully soon I can get stuck in with some of my projects, my husband said I could try saying no occasionally, especially when I'm red in the face unpicking things!
I would definitely not want to make bridal items on regular basis, slippery fabrics and fear of stitch holes, no thank you.
I'm going to make something in a lovely cotton next that behaves itself. 

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Five frugal things this week

This week has felt like a success spending wise with very little waste (always a good thing) and a bargain found at the start of it.  Last Sunday was of course mothers day here in the UK and we had both mums and dad around here for lunch. We had a great afternoon with meal, desert and wine for eight of us and I'm sure it would have cost a small fortune had we all gone out. Also I would have struggled to find something to eat (vegetarian, lactose and gluten free!) so here we got exactly what we wanted without having to worry about the cost or limited choice. So that was my first frugal success.
 The second thing was I have been wanting some black skinny jeans, I did buy some from Next before Christmas  for £30, I got them home  and decided they were not worth it because of style, fit and general rip off of a price for what they were. So I  have been on the look out for some more but in no great rush. I popped into the charity shop to drop some things off and saw these...

Now the picture is a bit bright so they are blacker than they appear here but to be honest I would say they are the same shade as the ones I returned to Next.  Also as black jeans fade they can be revived with a dye. At the moment though they do not need that and I am wearing them today, washed and ironed on the reverse to preserve their colour. What's more they were only £2.49!! See I knew I did the right thing taking the others back.

Saving number three was getting a book from the library instead of buying one from Amazon, now I am still tempted by this one as the book I want is not in the library system and is currently not cheap enough on amazon or ebay from independent sellers. But I will just have to wait as I am sure it will come down in price in time so for now I have this...

I have only just started it so it is a little early to tell what it's like but it started ok if a little dark. The good thing here is if it is rubbish it didn't cost me a penny.
Frugal thing number four was I had no food waste this week which is great because I hate it when you get to the end of the week and go shopping only to come back and remove old wasted stuff from the fridge. This happens less frequently these days anyhow but this week there wasn't any, I am making a concious effort to check the fridge and ensure things are getting used, being frozen etc.
Finally I have been doing another course on Future learn it has lots of free courses you can do which is brilliant for just getting a taster for if you are interested in something, I have been doing beginners Dutch. There is the option to buy a participation certificate but I don't need that,  it is good that it is there for people who want it.
Back soon.  

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Frugal Lunch Bag

My priority sewing job for this weekend is going to be to make myself a reusable lunch bag so that I don't have to keep taking it in a plastic bag.  I put my lunch in containers but then I tend to wrap it in a plastic bag before putting it in my actual bag just in case of leaks. plastic bags are not good are they, but we do tend to still have some for lining the bin and stuff like that.  All my shopping bags are reusable ones  but we do still tend to accept a few of the nasty ones for lining bins and stuff.
So I will eliminate a bit more  waste and make sure I use a cloth one for my lunch that can be washed.  I saw this idea in one of my favourite craft books...
I probably wont make it that big but I will use whatever leftover fabric bits I have even if it has to be a bit of a patchwork design.

I will not be buying any of the specialist materials it tells you to use just whatever I have to hand.  Although the book is sewing green it is not very green to buy new materials for every project is it?
I may use a bag for life between two layers of cotton to make it waterproof as these bags don't break down quickly do they and I have lots of them in the cupboard.  I will experiment and see what comes of it.

This is the book the idea is from...

It is a good book I have had quite a while and while the ideas are green you can make them greener still by always trying to recycle the little bits too, like don't throw a ruined item out without first removing zips and buttons etc, really cheap 50p bags from charity shops may have good zips or handles you can use (craft shops charge a ridiculous amount for handbag straps so don't ever buy these new if you can help it.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Handmade Bridesmaid Dress

I have been a little absent on here recently but so busy the time has flown. I have been busy this week making a bridesmaid dress and altering an evening dress. I have been getting up for work, leaving at 7.30 coming home, cooking, eating, sewing then a bit of T.V, bed and repeat all week. In fact yesterday I got up and altered the evening dress at 6.30 a.m because it was needed for picking up that evening. So I feel like I have been on a bit of a hamster wheel this week.
The good news is that after Easter I will be working four days but finishing Thursday lunch time, that should give me some space. There are things I like to learn and do and the reduced income is worth the time I will gain, because you can't buy time.  I think that by not being wasteful with what I earn has given me the possibility to be able to do this. If you like designer clothes, hiring a cleaning lady and eating out every night then this option may not be for you.
I prefer to wear my own label, be my own cook and take care of my own  house. But that's just me, I respect other peoples choices.
After that ramble here is the bridesmaid dress I have been working on...
It is a satin but the lady wanted me to use the reverse side which is textured, it has an over skirt of net and the satin flowers are hand stitched between the two layers.
It has an invisible zip and a petticoat stitched in to make it stand out a bit more but if this feels too much for the little girl I will unpick that part of it, it is still very full without it. 

 I think it has turned out well I just hope they like it. At one point this week I was very annoyed with it as the zip had to come out as the fabric had stretched a little. You will know what I mean if you have ever had to unpick tiny stitches on fabric that leaves pin holes!
I am hoping for a less hectic week then I will do some sewing for me. 

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...