F is for Freezing

Day 6 of the A -Z Blogging Challenge

By freezing i don’t mean literally sitting wrapped in blankets with icicles hanging off your nose. I’m really not that mean…well, not all the time anyway.

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I mean F is for Freezing your Food.

This has to be one of the biggest areas where wastage occurs and money can be saved.

I have always been a skint single mum. I have raised my three sons to adulthood almost single handed from the ages of 7, 5 and 3. They are currently 24, 22 and 20. I’ll be honest, i have no idea how i didn’t break them in the process, but we got there somehow and they are now my best friends.

But anyway, bringing them up and keeping their stomachs full was a pretty major task and one that i like to think i have excelled at, and that is mostly down to the canny use of the humble freezer and home cooking.

I have always batch cooked as well as buying reduced, on the date goods and frozen them. It is only in recent years though that i have acquired, in my opinion, my biggest money and time saving options which i still use regularly even though i am now down to only one son living at home and i really wish that i had known about them when the boys were younger.

The slow cooker and the soup maker. They both make large amounts, without much effort (i work full time and am studying for a Masters degree, i don’t have much spare time) and with virtually fool proof results.

I also find that if i am home alone for my evening meal, i quite often can’t be bothered to cook for one and that is when i reach for rubbish food or the cake cupboard. Having the ability to take out a home cooked frozen meal and just add some sort of carbs to it suits both me and my purse admirably.

The soup maker makes approximately four bowls of soup in about 20 minutes. At the weekend, i gather up whatever veg are lying forgotten in the bottom of my fridge, rough chop it, add a stock cube and some seasoning and press go. I then portion the finished soup into four plastic containers (the reusable kind) and pop them into the freezer. Soup for lunch for most of the working week sorted. Butternut squash and sweet potato with a bit of paprika is a particular favourite of mine but i quite often end up with random taste experiences such as ham, sweetcorn and mushroom, mushroom and carrot, leek and parsnip….and of course, just random vegetable soup…although it usually has mushrooms in it, i like mushrooms…

As for the slow cooker? I can give you any number of meat or vegetable dishes that can be cooked and then separated into containers and frozen for consumption on another date, but I have yet to find anybody else who knows that you can cook perfect jacket potatoes in a slow cooker. Just prick them, wrap them in foil as you would for the oven and bung them on low for about 8 hours. Bearing in mind that the slow cooker uses approximately the same amount of electricity as a normal light bulb that is not as excessive as it sounds. You then come home from work to yummy jacket spuds and all you need to sort out is the filling. My other trick with this is to cook a whole big bag’s worth and freeze in pairs what i don’t eat that evening. Then i just need to put them in the microwave the next time i want one or two for my tea, or i can take them straight to work to heat there. The possibilities are endless and have you seen the price of those frozen jackets in the supermarkets? Bet mine taste nicer.

Only thing to remember is to not freeze them still in the foil…it’s a bugger to pick it off a frozen spud, don’t say you weren’t warned!

Have a happy day.

Anita x

E is for Economics

Day 5 of the A to Z Blogging Challenge

 

According to the British Dictionary the definition of Economics is ‘the social science concerned with the production and consumption of goods and services and the analysis of the commercial activities of a society.’ 

Or to put it in my way, making sure you don’t go broke by buying stuff you can’t afford.

‘It makes sound economic sense’ is a phrase that i have often heard although i will admit to not always adhering to the message.

I’m not going to sit here and preach about what you should or shouldn’t buy, you are the one in control of your purse strings and you are the one who decides whether to open it or keep it shut. But all i am going to ask is that you think before you make that final decision to purchase.

And the only thought that i ask you to consider is the one i mentioned above: Does it make sense?

Particularly if you have to go into debt to be able to afford it.

Look into whether you can afford the repayments. What the interest rate is? How long will you be paying for it? How much will the item have depreciated in value by the time you have paid it off? How much will it cost you in total if you do buy it on credit?

How confident are you that you will still be earning the amount you currently do for the length of the borrowing term?

Will you actually use it? Do you actually need it?

When you have answered these questions, then you will have your answer as to whether it makes sense or not and can make a rational decision whether to sign on the proverbial dotted line, or flash the plastic numerous times, forgetting the purchases almost immediately and then panicking when the bill comes in two months time.

Better still, leave the plastic at home, odds are, if you have to go back to the shop a few days later then the impulse will have passed and more than likely you don’t buy it anyway.

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My dad always told me to live within my means. Earn it first and save up for the big stuff. I’m no hero, i didn’t always do as he said and i learnt from my mistakes.

He also told me to always reverse park into a parking space because you never know what pillock will have blocked you in while you were away from your car. I have always listened to that advice and been thankful for it many, many times.

Maybe i should have listened to his economic advice earlier……

And no, Thomas Jefferson wasn’t my dad…

But my dad was my hero…

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Have a happy day.

Anita x

Reference

British online dictionary, Economics, Available at http://www.dictionary.com/browse/economics?s=t

 

D is for Disposable

Day 4 of the A – Z Blogging Challenge

Today’s society relies far too heavily on the use of disposable items. We are the throwaway society that i talked about on Day One, A is for Action, and it can’t all be solved with the use of Beeswax Wraps no matter how much i love mine.

It’s not just the obvious plastic utensils, paper plates at parties, takeaway containers when we fancy a proper fish and chip supper etc, it is in just about everything we do and everything we use.

We don’t get things mended anymore. It is just so much easier to go and buy a new item to replace one that is broken or torn and yet there is, quite often, so much life left in an item if it’s just given a little bit of TLC.

I am a qualified seamstress. I first used a sewing machine back in my secondary school in the 80’s and have rarely been without one since. I feel bereft when I am without access to one. I know that makes me sound sad. On top of my day job i also take in alterations and repairs for clothing but the value of this occupation has diminished considerably over the last decade or two. Generally, it is not considered as a costly thing to do. I have lost count of the amount of times i have been asked,

‘Can you just replace this zip?’

And i take a look at the pair of jeans. I know how much of the waistband i have to unpick, how many belt loops have to be taken off, how difficult it is to get the old zip out through three rows of stitching without damaging the surrounding fabric, inserting the new zip and then replacing the belt loops individually into the replaced waistband. Oh, and not forgetting that i  am usually expected to go and buy the new zip as well, it is rare that the customer brings one with them so add on the fuel and the time to get to the shops and back. Online shopping is not often particularly good for this type of service, or maybe i’m just too picky…

And so i reply,

‘Yes, i can do that. It will take me about an hour to an hour and a half. I charge £10 an hour plus the cost of the zip which will be around a fiver. So, between £15 and £20. Is that ok?’

And the customer says,

‘Twenty quid? It’s only a zip. I can get a new pair for that!’

And so we have the definition of the disposable society.

It is quite often cheaper to throw it away and buy a new pair of jeans than it is to get the old ones repaired. They go into landfill and the clothing shop owners who make and buy in mega bulk and sell at mega cheap prices are rubbing their hands all the way to the bank.

I’m not saying we should all stop buying from these places, although i do believe that, in some cases, you get what you pay for. Don’t expect a £2.50 T shirt to not shrink in the first couple of washes – my tip, buy a bigger size to account for it, believe me, it will fit perfect after a few spins in the washing machine – but i do think we need to take a bit of time to consider our purchases and what we throw away. Sometimes, just a little bit of thought can save us an awful lot of money.

And it’s amazing what you can do with a pair of old jeans…

Have a happy day,

Anita x

C is for Crafts

Day Three of the A -Z Blogging Challenge

Well, that’s a shocker isn’t it! I guess me being me, i couldn’t do anything different than crafts for the letter C. But how do they tie in with the theme of Make Do and Mend, Reuse, Recycle and Spend Less? I mean, have you seen the cost of craft supplies???

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I have lots of crafty skills and hobbies, my main one being that of hiding behind a sewing machine and losing myself in the flow of the fabric as it glides under the needle. When i wake from my reverie i am usually quite chuffed to discover i have a complete new garment in my hand. Can i call that C for Couture? I am also known for playing around with Crochet hooks, Cooking, Cameras, Clay (well Fimo but that doesn’t start with C) and Jewellery Making (sorry, couldn’t think of a related C word for that so gave up) and i feel that every single one of these has helped me to save a lot of money over the years. Quite a few of these i will be talking about in later posts during this month so for today i am going with the Craft of Crochet. The picture is my current work in progress, an ordinary granny square blanket made from all the odds and ends and scraps/almost finished balls of wool i have lying around here. My youngest son has already bagsied it for his bed when it’s finished.

Scrap blanket

Many, many years ago a close friend was pregnant with her first child and i wanted to make something special for her. I decided it would be nice for her to have a white baby shawl but i had no idea how to make one. My mum had tried teaching me to knit but although i grasped the underlying principles, with her being left handed and me being right handed it wasn’t much of a success. I can sort of knit now, but i much prefer one needle to two, it works up quicker to get the finished result – just call me impatient, on this subject it would be true.

I took a trip into the local library and borrowed a book to teach me how to crochet. Yes, this was in the 1980’s, before the internet properly existed and most definitely before the explosion in Youtube tutorials. In this way i managed to create an OK granny square shawl, it wasn’t perfect and it wouldn’t lie flat, but i was delighted with it, and my friend said she was too. I tried several granny square blankets after that but found that i had to keep to small squares and stitch them together if i wanted them to lie flat. Eventually i put away my trusty hook and stopped doing them because i just didn’t know what i was doing wrong and knew nobody who could tell me. Unfortunately, as this was the 80’s and digital cameras were also not around, there are no photo’s of my works of art.

Fast forward to about two years ago when i was having a random conversation with another friend while i was at work when she said that i needed to chain the corners.

‘Chain the corners?’ I said, ‘is that all i’m doing wrong? I need to just chain three around each corner?’

I went home, dug a crochet hook out from my discarded (and well buried in the cupboard of ‘he who goes in might not come out alive’ ) wool bag along with an ancient ball of wool and gave it a go.

Would you believe it?

Tadah!!

A fully flat square that just got bigger and bigger and bigger. I then went onto Youtube (i can highly recommend the Bella-Coco tutorials) and taught myself more, and then i subscribed to a crochet teaching magazine and i was off.

‘But Make do and Mend!’ I hear you shout.

‘Wool is not cheap!’ I hear you cry.

‘How is this Reuse and Recycle?’ I hear your tirade as you beat the air with your tightly clenched fists.

(Ok, i might have got a bit carried away there).

But yes, crochet is brilliant for reusable items; for making do with what you have or, as with yesterday’s beeswax wraps, for making from scratch in order to save money in the long run.

In my kitchen i have crocheted cotton dishcloths which are so much better to use than the J cloths that used to go in the bin, my cloths go in the boil wash with the tea towels.

Dishcloth

In my bathroom i have cotton crocheted flannels and bath pouf’s (the second photo was all Christmas presents for the females in my family – needless to say, their bathrooms are also full of my hand crocheted goodies).

And on my dressing table, for make up removal and facial cleansing i have cotton crochet scrubbie pads that leave my face feeling so much cleaner and fresher than cotton wool pads ever did. They go in the wash to be used again and again and again.

Yes, the wool isn’t cheap, but it’s a darn sight cheaper in the long run than buying all those disposable products. And better for the environment. Believe me, until you have cleansed with a crocheted scrubbie, you really don’t know how clean your face can feel – yep, even better than with the cream with annihilated apricot stones in!

I am generally quite popular when friends and family have babies……

So, crochet can be time consuming and i think we can agree that wool isn’t cheap, but in the long run, i find it a satisfying hobby that i can sit and do while i watch telly in the evenings. I have awesome, unique accessories and blankets throughout my house – i even have a pair of crocheted baby converse booties dangling from my mirror in my car.

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The ultimate point about it though, is that i get to pretend i’m a wizardess, wave a pointy magic stick around and make amazing things happen with it…

Have a happy day.

Anita x

Oh, and most of my crafty goodness can be found on Facebook at Baby Dreams Stitchery

 

B is for Beeswax Wraps

The A to Z Blogging Challenge

A recent discovery in my bid for a more sustainable lifestyle are Beeswax wraps. I am so totally in love with these!

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I take a packed lunch with me every day to work. Quite often this consists of home made soup which i make in batches and freeze in reusable plastic containers that i can then put straight into the microwave. However, when i have had a lazy weekend which involved me not getting around to making said soup i revert to the good old favourite of a sandwich which would then be put into a plastic sandwich bag. This piece of plastic would then go in the bin once i had eaten my lunch. In my hunt for a more planet and purse friendly option i came across these. If looked after properly, they can be reused again and again, they are chemical free and the perfect alternative to cling film, sandwich bags and foil.

What makes them so amazing? They use the heat of your hands to fold around anything, i have recently seen them referred to as ‘self cling fabric’ as well.

And the cleaning? You just wash them in hot soapy water with your normal dishes – not the dishwasher though, that is too hot, and will make the beeswax melt. Similarly, these cannot be used in the microwave (i just bung a plate on top of any bowls etc). It is also recommended that you don’t use them for raw meat because of the risk of contamination through not being able to clean them at an incredibly hot temperature.

On my search for these i also looked out how to make them and where to source the ingredients, mainly because i have a fabric stash a mile high that needs to be used up. The ones in the photos are wraps i made myself and when my next delivery of beeswax arrives i will be having some up for sale on my ETSY page and my Facebook page, both of which are called Baby Dreams Stitchery. So keep an eye out here over the next week for some fab designs – don’t you think the Minnie Mouse one is adorable? That particular one is currently sitting in my fridge covering half a tin of mushy peas…but i have a fair bit of that fabric left to make more. I also have some pretty funky vintage Paddington Bear earmarked for this project as well, although i don’t have much of this fabric left so there won’t be very many made.

So, as far as i am concerned, beeswax wraps are the bees knees. They have resulted in a considerable drop in the amount of single use plastic i use in the house (that tin of mushy peas would previously have had a sandwich bag pulled over the top) and my family are gradually nicking the ones i have made faster than i can make them – the ones for Baby Dreams Stitchery will be hidden from their prying eyes and thieving fingers…

For those of you who are vegetarian, it is also possible to get soya wraps which are purported to work in a similar way, but i cannot comment on these as i have not researched them…yet…

Check back tomorrow to discover what my C is going to be in this alphabet challenge and seriously take a look at making the switch to beeswax or soya wraps, i mean, how much clingfilm and how many sandwich bags do you get through in a year????? I bet you’d be horrified if you stopped to work it out.

A quick google search has told me that in 2017 there were 260 official working days in the year… i’ll let you carry on with the math from there as only you know how much single use plastic you use in each lunchbox for your family…

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Feel free to let me know your answer…

And above all,

Have a happy day.

Anita. x

A is for Action

The A to Z Blogging Challenge

Now, since i decided to do this challenge i had chosen to do A is for Anita: a bit about me and why i feel that the time is now to reduce the waste of both resources and money that we, as a society, put out there. But on sitting down to my computer this morning i changed my mind (that’s my prerogative, i’m a girl after all and don’t mind a little bit of stereotyping when it suits me) because it’s not just me that needs to change, we all need to take action. And if it actually helps us in the long run? I would call it a win win. Besides, you will probably learn quite a bit about me in the forthcoming posts throughout this month.

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  I mean, really? Why would anyone do this?

Far too many years ago, when i was but a lass in secondary school, i took a book out of the school library. What is so amazing about that i hear you ask? That is what libraries are for and as a self-confirmed bibliophile it was certainly not an extraordinary experience. What is so amazing is that i can still remember the message this book brought (even though i haven’t a clue now of the title or author, come on, it was over 30 years ago!).

The story was about a couple of time travelling teenagers. They had come back to the 1980’s from the future to try and change the past because the world they lived in was barren and struggling to cope with the residue of the lifestyle in which we lived. The teenagers sought to change opinion of the people they met by their harrowing descriptions of what would happen if their lives of waste continued. But ultimately they failed in their mission. The reason for this? They hadn’t gone back far enough, they had only travelled to the time of the wastage, not the point where they could change it.

I’m not saying it changed me from that moment, there are plenty of people around on this planet that would certainly take great delight in calling me a liar if i did. But it has stayed in my mind. I have felt guilty when i knew that i was wasting stuff that could be used. There are also a great number of people on this planet who know that i am a crafty hoarder of craft related items, with a view to the fact that ‘it could come in handy one day.’ But at the beginning of this year i decided to call a halt to unnecessary spending and wastage. A buy nothing new year and a significant reduction in my use of single use plastics are the ‘Actions’ i have chosen to start with.

I’m not saying you have to do the same.

If you do agree with me and make even just a few small changes to your lifestyles because of the posts i write over the next month that would be great. Let me know how you get on.

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I took this picture in the car park of a local secondary school.

And if you know what that darned book is called or the author then i’d love for you to tell me, it’s been bugging me for weeks!

Above all,

Have a happy day.

Anita x

 

 

 

 

The A to Z Blog Challenge

Have you ever heard of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge?

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Nope?

I hadn’t either until a couple of days ago and then i thought,

‘Well, that might be fun.’

Then i found that the done thing was to not only write a blog post on each day of the month, but it should also revolve around a theme.

‘Oh,’ i thought, ‘that makes it a bit more difficult. Still might be fun though, what theme shall i do?’

And lo, i asked my trusty Facebook friends what they thought would be a good fit for me to theme up a month of blog posts in extremely short notice and the reply was:

‘Crafts.’

I should have guessed that really, most of my Facebook posts are to do with my crafty hobbies. However, while i was on  a thinking roll, i thought again (i was getting a headache by now with all this cogitating) and i figured i could maybe go one step further than that. My crafting these days has centred around a more thrifty, planet, money saving type of focus (as my previous posts have talked about) and so i have decided to construct an A-Z list around this.

Now, apparently it was to be the big theme reveal last week, which obviously i missed because i didn’t know it existed, but never one to let an opportunity slide, i’m going to do one anyway so…

Wait for it….

The Theme for the A-Z April blog challenge is:

Make Do and Mend: Reuse; Recycle and Spend Less.

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This will also incorporate a few crafts along the way, just to keep my hand in like….

There, that was worth waiting for wasn’t it!

Have a happy day.

Anita. x