Thursday, 30 July 2015

An Unexpected Free Tuesday

This Tuesday I was granted an unexpected day to myself, to get on with various bits and pieces.  LB had been invited to stay over at her friend's house the night before, which was nice for her in the holidays, and I pretty much knew that I wouldn't see much of her the next day, as she would be hanging out with her friend.

It felt quite nice not to worry or feel guilty about keeping her entertained for the day, although she can pretty much entertain herself these days.  I started the day with a bit of a lie in and read my book which is always nice.  I'm currently reading this book by journalist Caitlin Moran.

It's very entertaining, but I would say that it is quite graphic in terms of language and sexual references.  Not something that I would want LB to read just yet. It's a kind of modern feminist account of what it's like to be a woman these days and I have to admit that I do completely agree with quite a bit of what she has written.  I enjoyed reading a very honest account of her life and experience and it is interesting to hear a new generation of feminists talking about women's issues.

My peace was eventually interrupted by the dog, who unusually appeared upstairs and demanded that I play with her. She's such a baby sometimes.  I then got up and showered and headed downstairs for breakfast.

As I checked my email, I was pleased to have received an email from a friend up in Yorkshire, who I was meaning to contact that very day, to tell her that we'd be up at the weekend, so I took a bit of time to reply to it, to let her know our news and plans and then I headed out with the dog for an hour.

We had a good walk and came back home.  OH was out too, visiting a client all morning, so I had the house to myself, which made a nice change.  I finished a few blog posts, caught up on some blog reading and watched a few YouTube videos, all whilst having a leisurely cup of tea and then headed upstairs to sort out some washing and pack for our weekend away.  We head off on Thursday morning, so only another day to go.  You can tell I'm looking forward to getting away, as usually this is a last minute throw stuff into a case scenario.

After lunch, I popped up to the library, as I had a book to return.

I took this book out whilst there. I'm always interested in another writer's take on decluttering.  It's only a small book.  I can probably read it over the weekend.  Later I went off to the allotment to check it over and harvest anything that was ready.  I also did a spot of impromptu blackberry picking as there are a lot of bushes around the perimeter of the site.

They'll make a nice jelly or jam when I get back from our weekend away.  I've frozen them for now, but there are about 2lbs of them, which would cost a lot if I had to buy them.  It's always great to find some free food.

When I got home, I baked another rhubarb cake to use up some rhubarb from my last visit to the allotment the other week, hung out some washing and got started with making the dinner before heading out to pick LB up from her friend's house.

It felt good to have an unexpected day to myself in the summer holidays and I did quite a few things that I wouldn't probably otherwise have done.

An Afternoon in the Garden

Wednesday afternoon, prior to heading off for the weekend, I decided to spend an afternoon in the garden.  There were a few small  jobs that I really wanted to tackle, one being to take some rubbish to the tip and another to re-pot some pepper plants for putting in at the allotment.  These are the last plants that I have grown from seed this year and will act as fillers when I take out the last of the potatoes next week.

I started off with the re-potting as I wanted the plants to settle in over the weekend, so that I could plant them out next week when we get back.  I then put all the rubbish in the car ready to take to the tip.  As is usually the case when you remove rubbish that has been standing around for a while, there was a build up of leaves behind where it had been stored and in other corners of the decking, so I decided to have a good sweep around the place and leave everything tidy before we went away.

I also decided to cut down some plants that had gone over before they started self seeding all over the place and do a bit of weeding in one of the beds to tidy things up a little.

We have been visited by a number of small frogs and toads of late, and the dog has had fun trying to catch them. The odd one has met a sad and sorry end, but we try hard to prevent her from harming them and often catch them and put them over the fence into next doors garden, as they have a pond there.  As I was sweeping up I came across two little guys, one of whom I managed to direct onto the lawn and away from where the dog hangs out and the other wouldn't be helped and escaped into my greenhouse.  He'll have to take his chances with the dog some other time.

After taking the rubbish to the tip, I finished off by feeding and watering my tomato and other plants before we go away.  I'll possibly water again in the morning if it doesn't rain tonight, just to make sure they'll be okay.

It's nice to now look out and see the garden looking a bit tidier.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

July Favourites

This month, I  don't actually have any new favourites to bring to the table, mainly because I haven't really bought anything new at all this month. (Must be a first for a while)  As a consequence, I've decided to shop my wardrobe and beauty stash and find a few old favourites for you.

(Sorry about the background being a but busy in these photos)

The first has been this concealer, that I've gone back to using since finishing a recent trusty non-natural Boots No. 7 one.  I reverted back to the Boots concealer when I had a major breakout a good few weeks ago now. The breakout coincided with my using a new to me toner and concealer concurrently and to try to get my skin back to normal, I stopped using this product, just in case it was contributing to the breakouts.

Anyway, having realised it was the toner that caused the problem, I picked this Beauty Without Cruelty concealer pencil up and started using it again.  It most definitely wasn't the cause of the breakouts, as I've had no trouble with it at all since.

I was reminded of what I had liked about it originally.  It's easy to apply being a pencil (although I did have reservations about this when I first bought it), it gives good coverage and is a nice consistency that doesn't leave my skin feeling greasy.  It was quite inexpensive too for a natural, cruelty free product.  Although I've subsequently bought another concealer from a different natural brand, I'm going to stick with this one for the time being, until it's finished anyway and I may repurchase it the next time I need to buy a new one.

My second old favourite has been this retro 4711 fragrance, which has been around for many years now.  I bought a new bottle of this in the recent past and wore it regularly, but these tiny bottles came in a set of 10 miniatures that I bought on eBay a good few years ago now.

For a long time I didn't want to use them, but having found myself without any perfume to wear, whilst I look for a more natural alternative, I decided to use them up and am gradually working my way through the box.  I think I've got about 2 left to use. I like the scent, as it is quite fresh and even though I believe this set to be vintage, the perfume hasn't actually gone off, which is a bonus. By the time I've finished using these, we will probably be on holiday and hopefully I'll be able to acquire a new perfume whilst we're away that fits my new criteria.

My third old favourite that I've mentioned a few times on this blog is the US TV series Nashville, which is in it's third series (I think) and currently showing on E4 on Wednesday evenings. (Don't quote me on the channel, as I can't quite remember because we record it on a series link).  The last couple of episodes that I've watched of this series have been really good ones, with several plot lines coming to a head.  It's one of the only TV programmes I watch all week and I still really love it.

On the wardrobe front, I did buy this small Monki cross body bag at the beginning of June from ASOS.  It wasn't very expensive, just £6 in the sale.  I really like it though and it is a perfect size to carry a purse, lipstick, keys, phone.  I've used it quite a bit this month and love it. Most definitely a good buy. It will definitely be my go to hand bag on holiday this summer, as it is so small, light  and easy to use and pack.  I like the funky animal print too and the fact that you can also remove the straps easily and use it as a clutch which makes it a little more versatile.

Finally, I have another old/new wardrobe favourite to share with you.  I had a pair of Levi jeans that I think I got from a charity shop a long while back, but which were just far too wide legged and looked plain silly on me.  However, I liked the dark indigo colour and cut of them, the fit around the middle and the low slung pockets on the back, which surprisingly aren't too unflattering and I had put them aside months ago, with a view to trying to remodel them, so that I could keep them and wear them. They have sat in my sewing room for months now and I just couldn't think what I could do with them to make them wearable.

This week, it came to me that I could make them into long turned up shorts, as the legs aren't too wide above the knee.  I cut them down to just below the knee, rolled them up a little and stitched the roll ups into place and I'm so pleased with how they turned out.  I will now definitely wear them when we go away on holiday.  In fact I have already worn them out and about at home.  I don't like short shorts, as I just don't have the legs for them these days, but these will be just perfect to wear with a T-shirt and flip flops/skater shoes whilst out and about or on the beach.  They're not particularly on trend, but I'm not too bothered about that.  I don't know why the idea didn't come to me earlier, but I knew there was a solution to this dilemna and I am so glad I've finally found it.

What have been your favourite things this month?

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

July Frugalities

Well, here are a few things I've done this month to save a bit of money.  I've been a lot more disciplined this month and virtually only spent money on food, toiletries and toiletry ingredients, household items, a small amount on revamping LB's bedroom and a couple of school items for LB for September.  All other non-essential purchases have been avoided completely by staying away from the shops and avoiding shopping online.

So, here's how I've  saved a few pounds this month.

1)  I dyed an old pair of shoes to create a spare pair of school/flat black shoes for LB or myself to wear.

2)  I revamped LB's bedroom using some white emulsion we already had.  I did have to buy one tin of coloured emulsion, which was just £12, but the results were definitely worth it.  LB painted up a couple of things herself to tie in with her new colour scheme, i.e. her bin, etc.  So once again, we made the most of what we had before rushing out to buy new.  This project also kept me out of the shops and off line in the last week or so of the month, when I didn't have much money left, so it was good from this point of view too.

3)  I used a few of online grocery shopping vouchers to get over £30 off three weekly shops this month and this has really helped me to stay within budget this month.

4)  I did a very mimimal shop in the last week of the month, fresh and essential foods only, and instead concentrated on using what was in the cupboards and freezer, amending my menu plan accordingly.

5)  I made some more cotton face pads out of an old brushed cotton baby sheet of LB's.

6)  I made some room accessories for LB's made over bedroom from fabric in my stash.  i.e. a new laundry hamper and a new cushion cover.

7)  I made some long denim shorts out of a pair of ridiculously wide legged jeans, that I couldn't otherwise wear. I'm now so much happier to wear them and finally get some use out of them.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

A Weekend Getting Things Done

This weekend has been one where we've just got on and got things done, which has been very satisfying.  After it taking most of the week to paint LB's bedroom, doing a coat each day, by Friday it was finished and first thing Saturday morning I was in there and taking off the masking tape and removing all the covers. I then set about re-organising the furniture.  We decided on a complete move around of most of the furniture.

In the process of re-organising everything, lots of small overlooked areas were excavated and lots more stuff got put on the CS pile.  (The spare room/my sewing room is now piled high with stuff to take when I get around to it).  LB took the time to go through all of her old primary school exercise books, which she had kept.  She whittled them down to just a few that she wanted to keep.

The remainder I went through myself, to make sure I was happy to get rid of them and kept back just two more. I then went through all the half used exercise books and extracted the blank pages to use as scrap paper for making lists.  I always do this with LB's notebooks, as invariably she gets bored of them before they are full.  I managed to extract this huge pile of paper,

most of which I then trimmed up to shopping list size, ready for use. I should be okay for paper to make lists for a good few years!!

The bedroom is looking so much better. I quickly whizzed up a new cushion cover and a new laundry basket liner from fabric in my stash, to tie in with the new decor. We just need to get some new (inexpensive) blackout blinds next week and the new desk, but I'm not sure how long it will be before we get the desk, due to holidays pending and the expense thereof, so for the time being, we put another old IKEA table in there for her to use.  I'll post a picture when we get the new blinds up and it's looking a lot more co-ordinated.

After a busy morning, most of the afternoon was spent catching up on washing and ironing, which had started piling up this week, whilst I was busy doing other things. We rounded the day off eating popcorn and watching the film Identity Thief on Netflix, which was funny and a nice end to a busy day.

Sunday, this weekend, was a little different to our normal Sunday, in that I didn't go to the gym in the morning, so LB and I got a leisurely lie in for a change.  She was really pleased about this, as normally I drag her out with the dog and then off to the gym whilst I do a class. (She usually does her homework while she waits for me or goes for a swim) This week, however, my usual instructor wasn't going to be there, so I thought I'd give the class a miss and give LB a break.

Sunday morning was therefore a bit more leisurely.  OH still went off cycling with his club and we still walked the dog, but did so later in the rain and without any time restraints.  In fact we walked her up to the high street, to do a couple of errands.  I had a parcel to be returned via a collection point and a couple of letters to post.  LB  had to exchange something at Primark, that she'd bought in the wrong size the week before.  On the way back, I called at the local greengrocers and got the fruit and veg part of the weekly shop.

Not a lot else really got done for the rest of the day, partly because of the rain, save for more ironing and putting away of laundry. At least I've now got right on top of it and can enter week two of the summer holidays with no pressing domestic chores.  We are heading off up to Yorkshire towards the end of this week, to visit family, which will make it a short week and be a nice change.   I think we're all looking forward to getting out of London for a few days.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Another Summer Holiday Project - Dyeing Some Shoes

The other day, in between waiting for the paint in LB's room to dry, as I was already in my painting clothes and quite messy, I decided to get on with another messy job I promised myself I would do in the summer holidays, namely dye this pair of brogues black.

These were my old brogues and I've since replaced them with another tan pair as they were looking very tired after several years of regular wear.  I only paid £4 for them originally from a charity shop, but as I'd quite recently got them re-heeled I didn't want to throw them out just yet and as a consequence, they were kicking around in the shoe basket.

I hit on the idea of dyeing them black as a back up pair of school shoes for LB.  I've bought her a new pair of shoes for school already, but as soon as she put them on instagram (as teenagers are apt to do) someone came back with 'they're too high for school'.  As far as I'm concerned they're not, but new rules state heels must not be more than 2cm high. These have a thick sole which might when combined with the heel come to over 2cm, but the heel itself isn't more than this.

Anyway, I decided that just in case, I'd dye these black and if the new shoes prove a problem, these can be used until the rules are relaxed a little as the term progresses (this usually happens) and she can get away with wearing the new ones.

I ordered a bottle of this Dylon leather dye from eBay (it cost £4.75) and set about applying the first coat.  It was a bit tricky with these because of the cut outs and having to make sure I got enough dye in the little holes to colour them properly, but the first coat seemed to go on okay.

The second coat I applied a few hours later, when the first had dried.  I left them overnight and the next day I used up what remained of another bottle of this dye that I'd used to dye some tan boots black earlier in the year. There was about a quarter of a bottle left, so in total they got just about 3 coats.  I then polished them with my normal shoe polish and I dug out some black laces from the shoe cleaning box and the shoes were transformed ready for the new school term.  Here's a picture of me wearing them.

I was really pleased with how they worked out.  I'd really recommend this shoe dye to anyone thinking of doing the same.  I might even start wearing them again myself as I don't currently have a flat pair of black shoes.  They may come in useful in the autumn/winter.

In addition, I won't be dashing out last minute like I had to last year, when the new school shoes I bought LB actually came apart within a couple of weeks. (They weren't super cheap ones either).  I know that these shoes have been tried and tested by me and are really hardwearing.

Friday, 24 July 2015

A Small Natural Beauty Order

In a previous post about natural beauty,  I mentioned that I was looking for a more natural sunscreen this month, in time for our summer holidays.  After trying out some testers in a local natural beauty store, I finally decided to buy a cream that I had seen the week before on a new to me natural beauty website.  The one I plumped for was this one by Lovea.

It is SPF 30, 12% organic, water resistant and made from 100% natural ingredients.  When I went back to the website where I had originally seen this, there was an offer on and it was reduced to £12.99 (from £17) which although is a lot of money for a small bottle (125mls), I figured it would be enough to start us off. There were over 150 positive reviews of this product on the website, which was probably what finally sold it to me and I can always buy some more when we are away, as there may be more options available where we are going.

I also purchased a 5ml sample of an Accorelle Sun Gel which is also SPF 30, 100% natural and 85% organic. It is intended for use on the face and I think that a gel might be preferable to a cream for ease of use in this regard.  Having said this, when I took a look at the gel, it's not as gel like as I expected, but it will be interesting to try this.

Also included in this order was a new eye cream, namely this Reviving Eye Cream by Skin Blossom. As I mentioned in last month's favourites, I am currently using a face wash from this brand and finding it very gentle on my skin. This product had quite good reviews and was less than £5 so I was happy to give it a go.  I am currently using an eye gel from Yes to Cucumbers and although it is okay, I don't feel it is doing anything in particular, was more than twice the price of this and also has some small gel lumps in it which means I can only use it at night and not under makeup. Needless to say, I was not intending to repurchase this, although it was gentle and inoffensive to my skin.

Another purchase in this order was a medium concealer from Alva.  I've not tried anything from this brand before and am still looking for a natural concealer that agrees with my skin.  Looking at the texture of this one, I'm not sure it will fare any better than previous ones, but the proof will be in the trying. I'll let you know if it turns out to be a good choice.

Finally, I ordered a few samples with this order, namely for a Madara Time Miracle Eye Cream, a Kosmea Organic Rose Hip Oil (I've heard lots of really good reports of this being used instead of a moisturiser, so wanted to try it on my skin, without the cost outlay for a full bottle) and lastly a Sophyto Total Protection Serum.  I bought this one as I am still looking for a serum/moisturiser and after watching an unboxing video on YouTube, I know that this is one of the items in the current TVK Vegan beauty box, so if I like it I would definitely consider buying this quarter's box as this serum retails at £28 and the box is only £18 and contains four other vegan products.   All of the samples (save for the Acorelle Sun Gel) cost just 50p or something similar, so they are definitely worth a try at that price.

The last item that came with this order was a free gift of this Balance Me intensive anti-wrinkle repair cream for mature and very dry skin.  I already have a lip tint by this brand that I got free with a magazine, which I like.  Again it is 99% of natural origin and also contains hyaluronic acid which I've heard a lot about and am interested to try on my skin.

An exciting box of items to try. I'll try to report back on any particular favourites.  Delivery is free from this particular website which is

Please note this is NOT a sponsored post.  My opinions are my own and based on my personal experience of products.

Thursday, 23 July 2015


Following on from Thrift Deluxe's lovely post last week about things to be glad about, I have decided to do my own post in a similar vein.

This week, I am glad that.... is now finally the summer holidays from school.  LB is around on a daily basis, there is no strict routine to follow and no school uniform to wash and iron in time for Monday morning.

....there are little tomatoes are starting to appear on my tomato plants.  So exciting. LB has a bicycle that she enjoys riding. (OH bought her one a few weeks ago when we went to Center Parcs) We can now get out on our bikes and go for leisurely bike rides during the summer holidays.

.... I cleaned the house last week on account of LB having friends to sleep over on the last day of term, so I can now sit back and enjoy it.

....I am taking a more minimalist approach to life and reducing the clutter.  It gives me much more room to breathe.

What are you glad about?

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

LB's Bedroom Makeover Begins

Day two of the summer holidays, and this year I promised LB that I would revamp her bedroom. It's nearly 3 years since it was painted and pristine, ready for her to move into from another bedroom that was slightly smaller.

I managed to find a couple of photos of her bedroom post the last makeover 30 or so months ago, when I very first started blogging.  It seems a long time ago now and it's frightening to see how much more stuff she has in her room now, in spite of several culls.


(Sorry about the blurriness of this photo)

Anyway, the room itself was decorated quite plainly and inexpensively.  Just a lick of paint really.  I made the rag rug and the duvet cover and covered the chair myself. The desk, which was an old IKEA one we'd used in an office, I covered with PVC coated cotton fabric as it was a bit scratched. OH made the wall shelves and added the clothes hanging rail.

Fast forward nearly 3 years and LB has now outgrown the pink/purple colour scheme.  It's all about pastels now and looking 'tumbleresque'.  So this summer holiday, it's out with the purple and in with a mint green and other pastel colours.

I decided to crack straight on with it at the beginning of the holidays, as I feared that if I left it too long, I might get distracted and not get around to it, and also I have very little money available to me this week, so getting busy painting, using materials we already have at home, keeps me from spending what I don't have.

Work started yesterday and while I was out with the dog, LB sorted through a whole lot more stuff. We then moved all of the furniture to the right hand side of the room and made space to do some painting. I'm only actually re-painting a couple of walls as the woodwork is all okay, and the other two walls, which are white, are okay too.

Once we'd moved everything aside I masked the skirting boards and window frame and laid some decorating sheets ready to get started.  Above is the room prepped and ready to go, and below is what it looked like after the first coat of white emulsion was (almost) completed.

I can't say painting is my favourite pastime, (OH usually does it) but the first coat went on quite quickly.  It's not the most even coverage, but I think at least one more coat of white and possibly two of mint green will be necessary to cover the purple, so I wasn't too worried.  It felt good to get started anyway.  As you can see from the photo, there where a few areas I couldn't quite reach, so I will need to get the ladders out and tackle these before I go onto the next coat of white, but sometimes making that first step towards doing something is the hardest and most important part, as it spurs you into action and just getting on with the task in hand.

I'll post again as work progresses.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Taking Delivery

The other day felt a little like Christmas here, when this little pile of parcels were delivered in the mail.  I always get a little excited when I receive a parcel through the post, even when I know what it's going to be.

Most of this little pile was the result of my ordering some ingredients to make home made toiletries and cosmetics. One item was something I bought for my small business and another was a natural beauty order I placed with a new to me website. (More in another post)

One ingredient had been delivered the day before, namely some white beeswax pellets.  These are necessary for a recipe I want to try to make a new moisturiser and they should also be good for making lip balms, plus numerous other things I'm sure.

In this delivery there was some cocoa butter and shea butter to use in creams and lotions, some Fuller's Earth or bentonite clay which is good for using in face masks, some organic essential oils (peppermint and lavender - I didn't have peppermint and my lavender has virtually run out) and last but not least was some Vitamin E oil which is apparently a good preservative for natural cosmetics and also a good oil to use in skin care and other preparations.

Here's a picture of my natural beauty ingredients haul.

I think that I now have just about everything I need to start making my own toiletries and cosmetics and it is very exciting to contemplate what I'm going to make with these ingredients.

In  recent weeks I have been collecting together a couple of recipes I want to try and I have been washing and saving various empty pots and bottles from used up cosmetics, to save both waste and money, by sparing me the need to buy new bottles and jars, so I should have plenty of receptacles for the items I do make for the time being at least.

The fun starts here.  I'll keep you posted.

Monday, 20 July 2015

A Strange Weekend

It's been a funny old weekend.  LB finished school for the summer on Friday, and as I mentioned in another post, had a couple of friends to stay that night for a sleepover.  Early the next morning OH headed off to the airport to ride a stage of the Tour de France in the French Alps and later that day LB headed off to a barbecue at her friend's house for the remainder of the afternoon and evening.

It felt strange to have been abandoned by everyone (save for the dog). I took her for a walk in a different park as I dropped LB off. There was a huge music festival going on there, so it was very busy, people everywhere.

I decided that as I hadn't managed to visit the allotment this week due to cleaning the house, I'd use the time to do that, so off I headed.  I didn't take any photos this time around, I just got on with what needed doing.  I dug up another bed of potatoes and cut down the broad bean plants. (Leaving the roots insitu to feed the soil - some are starting to regrow and flower, so I might get a small late crop afterall) I also harvested most of the last of the lettuce, as it was starting to just about go over and then watered everything as best I could with leaking watering cans! Then I came home.

It was just me for supper (and the dog, of course) and then I headed out to walk her in another part of the same park before collecting LB from her friend's house.  This particular side of the park was literally littered with balloons and empty small Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) canisters, the new legal high of choice for young people, as far as I can gather.  It was quite a depressing sight. What's wrong with a few drinks?  I even saw quite a few youngsters taking it quite publicly.  I don't mean to sound boring and old, which I probably do, but I just don't get it.  It did make me fear for what will be all the rage when LB starts going out to music festivals.  Having said this, it is possibly less harmful than some of the illegal drugs out there. I can't honestly say I know enough about it to judge, but having never been someone who likes to get high on anything other than alcohol or dancing, it kind of leaves me cold.

Anyway, it was good to get home. I was a little surprised and concerned that OH hadn't called to say how he was getting on.  At 10.30 pm the phone call came.  He'd had a disastrous day, missed his flight in the morning, got put on a standby flight to another city, had to make his way from there to the original airport to pick up his hire car, all with his bike in tow which he couldn't leave anywhere. It was nearly midnight where he was and it was the first chance he'd got to call.  Bless him.  It was a relief that he'd finally got to where he needed to be though.

Sunday, he was riding a grueling stage with four climbs in the Alps, along with thousands of other amateur riders (whilst we had a lazy afternoon at home!).  He called later in the evening to say he'd completed it, but it took him 10 hours of riding.  I was relieved to hear that he'd had no mishaps and hadn't collapsed with exhaustion.  He was waiting on a pizza in a restaurant. His first proper food of the day.  He was looking forward to coming home.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Homemade Dry Shampoo

As already mentioned,  I've been looking forward to making some more natural beauty products  this month and I started off with a really easy one that didn't necessitate the buying of any additional ingredients to those that I had in the cupboard at home.

I don't know  about anyone else, but my hair being very fine, is always better a day or two after it has been washed.  Immediately after washing, it tends to be a little limp, but after a night's sleep, it has more of it's natural curl and a lot more volume.

As a consequence, sometimes, I don't want to wash it before going out, so have to make sure I wash it the day before or the day before that. Sometimes, however, I'm just not organised enough to think about it and if two days after washing it, I'm heading out of the house but don't want to wash it, I sometimes use a bit of dry shampoo to see me through.

I usually buy one of the more well known brands or even Boots own brand which is much cheaper than other branded products, but I thought that as it was so easy, I might try to make my own natural dry shampoo and see how it compares to manufactured products.

I got the recipe from Ela Gale on YouTube and it is just a simple case of combining cornstarch or arrowroot (plus cocoa powder if you are a brunette) and a couple of drops of essential oil for a bit of a fragrance.  I used grapefruit essential oil as I like citrus fragrances.

I scooped a few teaspoons of cornflour into a clean small spice bottle that I'd previously bought some chilli powder in and which had holes in it that allowed me to sprinkle the powder onto my  hair. Into this I popped the essential oil drops and stirred them together using the other end of the teaspoon. I didn't use cocoa powder in this instance as my hair is bleached and coloured blonde, despite the fact my light  brown roots are showing through. (I'm currently debating whether to grow the colour out, as there are so many harsh chemicals involved in getting your hair coloured and it is very expensive - still on the fence on that one).

I haven't actually used it on my hair yet, but have tried it out on LB's and it does seem to work.   I just sprinkled some on and brushed it in.  You don't quite get the same effect as you do from the spray in dry shampoos, as the blast of air from the aerosol does add a certain something to the process, but other than this the results were okay.  (It reminded me of when I used to put talcum powder in my hair the odd time as a teenager between washes - Did anyone else do this?)

A very inexpensive and simple natural beauty solution, that I would recommend anyone to give a try.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Cleaning Marathon

This week has been a bit of a cleaning marathon, particularly as the week progressed.  Although I had intended to start cleaning the house the week that we got back from Centre Parcs, it didn't actually happen.  Firstly, I got thrown sideways by my business account going into overdraft, then I got distracted doing some work for my small business and finally, I decided to tackle the washing pile first instead and get it out of the way.

By this week, I had got the washing and ironing under control and decided that anyway, this week was a better one to clean as LB had some friends coming to stay overnight on the Friday, the last day of the school term.  I figured it made sense to clean just before they came and it would remain clean.

I started on Wednesday afternoon and cleaned the two reception rooms, washing all the cushion covers and spraying the sofas with fabric freshener.  The rooms got a good dust, hoover and mop and it felt great to get on top of them again, as I find when my house starts to get dirty, I often feel overwhelmed by it.

I intended to carry on on Thursday, but for some reason, with a doctor's appointment to go to, a some financial stuff to take care of and a very good episode of Nashville to catch up on, I didn't actually get around to any cleaning, so Friday was the day that most of the action happened.

I started off by cleaning the upstairs bathroom, moved on to LB's room which wasn't as bad as it sometimes can be.  I changed all the bedding, cleaned around and tidied lots of things away to make as much room as possible for 3 (almost) teenagers, hoovered and then continued hoovering my way through the stairs, landing, hallway and kitchen, before then mopping areas that needed it too.  I decided on this occasion to put a couple of drops of eucalyptus essential oil in the mop bucket and it added a lovely smell to the rooms.  I'll be doing this regularly from now on.

I finished off by cleaning the downstairs cloakroom/toilet, by which time it was nearly 3pm and I decided to stop for lunch.  I think I had earned it.   LB and her friends were leaving school at 1ish, going for lunch and to another friend's before coming back here. Luckily I had plenty of time to get everything done and then have a cup of tea, (don't you just love it when it works out like that) before heading off to the gym at 5.30pm.

I didn't manage to deep clean the kitchen, but I did hoover and mop the floor, clean all of the worktops and wipe down the inside of the fridge, which made a difference.  I doubt they'll be spending much time in there anyway, as it was takeaway pizzas from the local pizzeria as a treat for tea. I'll save that job for one day in the holidays.

It feels good to get most of the house clean before the summer holidays begin proper, so that now I can relax about the state of it and just go with the flow and enjoy spending some time with LB.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Thinking About My Finances

Yesterday morning, whilst out walking the dog, I got to thinking about my finances and how I've been managing them (or not) this year.  Dog walks are great as contemplative time to ponder on life's big issues and questions.  As I walk the dog in a morning, I find it sets me up for the day, as I can use the time to mentally plan what I'm going to do for the rest of the day, even though it doesn't always happen in reality.

Anyway, the main focus of yesterday's thoughts was my finances.  I've been a bit of a spender for the first six months of this year and now that the mid point of this year has been and gone, I am inevitably starting to think about the big C or Christmas and how once the summer holidays are over the lead in will begin.

It begins a little earlier for me than for many people, as I like to spread the cost and also because I have to start thinking about preparing stock for my small business, as Christmas is the busiest time for me.  I have got off to a bit of a head start this year and have already been preparing stock for a couple of weeks now in an attempt to hit the ground running so to speak.

Another reason I do this is that I find the items I need to purchase for resale, are usually in stock, as many other people haven't started thinking about it and sellers don't seem to run out of things quite yet. I've been quite enjoying getting stuck in again and an added bonus is that I am also preparing to sell off leftover stock I've been keeping since last Christmas and thus clearing a bit more free space.

I have finally come to understand just how the overdraft charge was applied to my business account. I had updated the details of my new business credit card with PayPal, but had not gone through the process of confirming it, and as such it was not valid to use on my eBay account until I did, hence why a couple of purchases were taken straight out of my business current account.  I have since gone through the correct procedures to confirm and reinstate my new card and my account is back up and running as normal again, which is a relief.

Being such a tiny business, I use the credit card for purchasing stock and materials on eBay and then pay the balance off later using my business current account, as sales materialise and the funds become available. The amounts are pretty small, so hardly any interest accrues and it works out to be a vital and inexpensive line of business credit before Christmas orders actually start coming in.

On a more personal level, my finances haven't panned out as I hoped they would in the plans I made at the beginning of the year. Partly this was due to the fact that I got so enthusiastic about creating a new capsule wardrobe, that I decided to complete it in the first few months of the year alone, instead of gradually throughout the year.  It has now been complete for a few months, but  I have subsequently  changed our grocery and toiletry shopping habits completely and this has been expensive.

I don't quite know how expensive, as I haven't been keeping records for over a year now, for the first time in 10 years or more.  What I did decide this month, however, was that I was going to start noting everything I spend on food and household/toiletry items this month, so that I can gauge exactly what my new outgoings on essentials actually are, now that I try to buy more natural and organic food and other products.  At least once I've ascertained this, I can start to think about budgeting for Christmas gift buying and other expenses that will occur in the second part of this year.

I can definitely already see that I am spending a lot more money on groceries than I used to, which doesn't concern me of itself, as we are eating better and more healthy foods.  I think I just need to regroup and start to consciously budget again, as some months I have spent way too much money on inessentials and left myself short, because I haven't really got a grip on things at the moment.  I guess it is all part of the process of changing the way we consume, but I will be a lot happier when things stabilise a little more and I can predict what money is in the budget to spend on things other than groceries.

I also started thinking today about how all of my good intentions of creating savings this year seem to have got pushed aside, on account of my new enthusiasms. I definitely need to get a bit more focused in this regard and start actually putting some money aside at some point. I can see that point being next year now, but taking a year out, in which I haven't got into any debt, maybe isn't such a bad thing. I'll call it a holiday from frugality and it might just give me the head space and freedom I need to put me in the right frame of mind for some serious saving next year.

It has taken six months to get the urge to spend money and consume out of my system. I think I was much more addicted to consumption than I realised and such habits can be hard to break fully. Even now I do get the odd urge to surf my favourite websites for bargains, and I often put items in my basket and then think better of it, rather than go through the checkout and actually purchase them.  I finally seem to be getting to a place where the urge to shop either in person or on line is actually receding quite considerably, which is an achievement for me in itself.  I think I'm also getting to a place where I'm happy with what I actually already have and don't feel the need to be constantly adding to my possessions. Maybe there is hope for me yet and this is going to be a transitional year. I do hope so.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Natural Beauty Update

It's been about three months now since I set out on my journey into changing over to more natural beauty products and it's been a very interesting journey so far, that's for sure.  I love the feeling as I rid my bathroom or makeup bag of another product from a non-natural brand or range and can replace it with something a bit kinder to the earth and our skin.

It is a slow process as some products seem to hang around for a while and as I don't wear much makeup, it often takes a while to use it up.  I don't really like throwing things out on a whim, as it seems a bit wasteful, but the odd product I particularly haven't liked has hit the bin, before it has been completely empty.

I find that the more I look into products and the ingredients they contain, the more purist I become and seem to favour those products with the fewest listed ingredients. What I do like about most natural beauty websites where I tend to buy products, is that they do at least try to be transparent about ingredients and most supply lists of all the ingredients in the products they have on their sites.

I've discovered several websites over the last few months, that sell natural beauty and I am sometimes quite overwhelmed by the choices available today, compared to 10 or so years ago when I last looked toward using more natural products. Here's a list of a few that I have used or will possibly use in the near future. Some also offer free postage on all orders which is very useful.

Please note the above are NOT affiliate links and I do not receive any payment should you go to one of these sites via my links.

I do find that it does help to know what certain ingredients actually are and whether they are synthetic, natural, detrimental or not.  I have recently found an interesting glossary of technical beauty terms in Neal's Yard Remedies book 'Recipes for Natural Beauty' by Romy Fraser, which I borrowed from my local library.  At least now I have a reference point for finding out about ingredients, although of course, in this day and age there is always the option of Googling to get more information about these things.

This month I am hoping to start properly trying to make some products of my own.  Armed with some very useful YouTube videos, a few books with recipes and having a bit of room in the budget to buy a few basic ingredients, I am going to try my hand at a few recipes for various products.  I'm sure I will get mixed results and there may be some serious disasters, but the whole process sounds like fun and will make an interesting and educational activity for Little Bird and I to engage in during the forthcoming summer holidays.

Whilst I realise that making your own products doesn't always have the same appeal as breaking into a brand new sealed and packaged product you can buy elsewhere, I do find that there is an amazing amount of satisfaction to be gleaned from knowing exactly what you are putting on your face and body.  My recent skin breakouts and reactions whilst using some quite famous brands of more natural beauty products have made me even more wary, as even many of the more natural products you can buy can have a detrimental effect on your skin or no effect at all for a reasonably large outlay.

This month, my main focus apart from making some simple products, will be to procure a more natural sunscreen for use during our holidays.  I have encountered a few brands and realised that we have been using a non-organic product from one of these brands for a while, so I am tempted to buy their organic and more natural version, but it is quite pricey at £16 per bottle. I am still thinking about it and looking for cheaper alternatives. With sun care, however, I think it is just one of those areas that it is just not worth skimping on.  I'm not sure there is any chemical free sunscreen out there and as we have already tried and tested this particular brand's products, it might be worth sticking with them for now. I'll let you know what I finally settle on.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Summer Holidays Looming and A Bit of a Bedroom Revamp

Well, the summer holidays are going to be upon us very soon and I'm quite looking forward to them this year.  I think they may kick off with a sleep over at ours for LB and a few friends on the day they break up from school.  I'm quite happy with that as in previous years we've been dashing off on holiday and LB hasn't really had chance to wind down and chill with her friends before they all go off for summer, so she'll enjoy it.

OH will be going away for a few days the next day so he'll be up at 4 and getting a taxi to the airport. While he's away I've promised LB that we will do a little work on her bedroom.  She's almost in her teenage years and the deep purple walls are not to her taste any longer.  It's all about pastels these days and I promised her we'd do some painting.

I revamped her bedroom nearly 3 years ago when she moved into the larger bedroom.  I did it very inexpensively at the time, but the space has gradually filled up to a point where it is a little cluttered. As a consequence, she's been gradually decluttering lots of things from her room and I have to admit that probably a quarter of the 800 or so things that we have donated so far this year have come from her belongings.

To reward her for her efforts and for her 100% attendance at school this whole school year, we have decided to treat her to a revamp and to a new desk/dressing table, plus a few other bits and pieces for her room, to get it more how she wants it.   She's very excited about it and so am I to be honest.  I'm hoping that it will help her keep it uncluttered and a bit tidier.  She seems to be going generally in the this direction as she gets older, so we'll see.

To be honest, she's taken to the project with a great deal of enthusiasm.  Too much for my liking as she is seriously culling her book collection, including some very memorable favourite reading books from when she was small, that I've hung onto over the years.  I'm going to have to house the ones I can't bear to part with somewhere else in the house now, as she is adamant she doesn't want them in her new grown up room.

So, I'm being forced to confront her growing up yet again.  It's a little harder for me than her to come to terms with it sometimes, but it is good to see her changing and growing and becoming a thus far quite sensible young person.

A trip to IKEA in the holidays is therefore on the cards this summer, funded by the Bank of Dad thankfully, which should make for a nice day out.  Nothing too expensive, just a desk/dressing table that takes up a bit less room, freeing up a bit of space and that she can happily sit at to do her homework/makeup/etc. If I had my way, I'd probably buy a few more pieces of furniture, but ever sensible she says that what she has already is fine by her.  I'll keep you posted about our redecorating adventures over the next few weeks.

Monday, 13 July 2015

A Weekend of Interrupted Sleep

I'm feeling a little tired today, following a weekend of interrupted sleep.  Friday night's lack of sleep was caused by the police helicopter constantly circling the streets around where I live until after midnight.  Probably looking for someone absconded from the scene of a crime.  It happens periodically. One of the perks(!) of living in the metropolis.  I had to get out of bed and shut the window in LB's room, just in case anyone tried to climb in!

Saturday and I was feeling pretty tired and grumpy most of the day and even took myself off to bed for an hour's nap.  I felt a bit better afterwards and was determined to get a good night's sleep later that night.  Fate, however, had other ideas as there just happened to be a party going on in a flat up the road, where everyone was spilling out into the garden, chattering, laughing, etc.  The fact that it was a hot night didn't help as windows needed to be left open and the sound carried more.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for people having fun and having the occasional party.  The timing stank though and the fact that it went on until 4 am didn't help either.  Call me petty, but I was very tempted the next morning to stand outside the flat and talk loudly while they were trying to sleep it off.  Needless to say I didn't.  I consoled myself with the idea that the pile of beer cans littering the garden would be a nice little hangover cure for them.

Finally, Sunday night came and I still didn't fare much better. Random thoughts kept going through my mind and another afternoon nap earlier in the day made it difficult for me to drop off.  In the end I got up and took a Dr Bach's Rescue Remedy Night Melt that I'd bought from Approved Foods.  I'd not yet tried them and thought I may as well give them a go, as they were supposed to help in this sort of situation.  They must have worked, because I managed to drop off to sleep shortly afterwards, but I'm still suffering a bit from the accumulated effects of the weekend as a whole.  Hopefully, I'll be feeling more myself by my next post.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Frugal Food Shopping And Minimising Spending

This month I'm trying to be quite frugal when it comes to the grocery shopping once again. The menu plan has been written and I'm sticking to it closely.  It helps that I have recently been inundated with vouchers to use for my grocery shopping, from a couple of the major supermarkets.  Both Waitrose and Sainsbury's seem to be vying for my business.  I was sent 4 x £10 off a £50 online shop vouchers from Sainsburys, plus 4 x Free delivery vouchers via email, after placing my first online order with them the other week.  I used one last week and have just ordered my shopping for next week, to be delivered on Sunday night, using another.

Waitrose, meanwhile have also sent me 3 x £12 off a £60 shop vouchers, which can be redeemed both in store or online.  Next week, I'm heading there to do my shopping, possibly online, as I'm not so keen on one of the stores nearest to where I live. (I won't say why here)  As I usually spend at least £50 on the main grocery shop each week, this is working out brilliantly and I'm definitely not complaining one bit.

In terms of other spending this month, I'm currently over a third of the way through the month and am doing reasonably well on the spending front.  I didn't have a spending binge as soon as I had some money in my account as I normally do.  Instead I decided to try to get ahead of myself and order a couple of school shirts and some school shoes for LB to start the new school year in September.  I still need to find her a new school skirt, but I'll probably shop around for that in the summer holidays.

I have had a little splurge this week on something for me.  I ordered some ingredients for making my own beauty products from eBay.  I'm quite excited to finally get around to ordering them and being able to actually try some of the great recipes I've found in books and on YouTube.  I'm afraid a couple of posts on this subject might be forthcoming in the next couple of weeks.  I spent £28 in total, which sounds a lot of money, but I think the ingredients will last quite a while and make quite a lot of different products, so when you look at it in that way, it sounds quite reasonable.  It should be fun too.

The only major expense looming this month (or next), is to buy myself a new suitcase for our summer holiday. My current one has a faulty zip and can't be trusted in an aircraft, so inevitably I'm on the lookout for a new one, preferably one with four wheels this time so I can wheel it along upright.  I only bought my current one 5 years ago when we visited my sister in Australia and already it is well past it's best. I will be filling it with things to take to the charity shop or a give and take event, as it still could be useful to somebody.

I've got my eye on a couple in TK Maxx, which are the same make as my carry on suitcase and toiletry bag, which I really like and are good quality.  They were part of an offer that Tesco did a couple of years ago, and are Swiss made.  I see so many of them in the airport when we go away and I even overheard someone make a sneery comment about how common they were, whilst standing in the check in queue.

To be honest I didn't care, they are really well made, were a really good buy and keep their shape really well.  I'm pleased I bought mine anyway, and the fact that I'm going back to get another from the same brand says a lot.  I almost bought one the other day, but decided I wanted a large one (in case I want to do any shopping whilst away!) and the only one they had was slightly damaged, so I left it. On a positive note they were already on clearance, so I'm going to drive out to a larger branch of the store and see what they have there.  I'm holding out for an even better deal.

Trying to keep frugal.  How are you faring this month?

Friday, 10 July 2015

Feeling the Summer Vibe (at last)

I've definitely been feeling the summer vibe just lately, for the first time this year.  This week, I've even managed to break out a skirt or two from the depths of the wardrobe, which is unusual for me, as I haven't worn one in I don't know how long.  I seemed to have gone right off wearing them.  For some reason, I just felt like wearing them again this week and it was good to add a bit of colour to my daily outfits for a change.

I think my mindset has changed too. Instead of hating the hot weather, I'm trying to embrace it.  That doesn't mean that I'm sat out in the garden soaking up the sun, I don't go that far (partly because gardens here are back to back and not that private).  Long gone are the days when I could lie out all day on a sun lounger turning redder and redder.  Unless I'm next to a swimming pool where I can cool off, it's just not my bag these days.  I think I've inflicted enough skin damage on myself over the years, I'm a lot more careful now.

I had a bit of a potting session in the garden last night and this morning.  I potted up the rest of the tomato plants into larger pots that are now huddled around the greenhouse.  I figured that I may as well try and grow as many tomatoes at home as I can.  I also potted on some pepper plants, so that they'll grow big enough to plant out at the allotment once all of the potatoes come out.  I always need to keep some plants in reserve to fill in gaps and keep the plot as fully cultivated as I can.   I think that will be it for this season, it's just a case of waiting for everything to grow now.

One sad thing to report from the garden is that our apple tree seems to have succumbed to some sort of disease.  It's not looking good and may have to be chopped down this autumn.  It has been in the garden since we moved here 7 or 8 years ago, so it will be sad to see it go, but I must admit I do need to completely replant the side of the garden that it occupies, so that will give me an interesting project this autumn.

On a completely different subject, this morning I let the dog take me for a walk.  Sometimes, she just has her own ideas about where she wants to go and if I'm not in a hurry, I just think why not.  We had a lovely long walk and I took some water and a small foil dish to pour it into at intervals because of the heat.  It seemed to work well and I felt like a responsible dog owner for once. She had a hair cut last week, well she had her coat stripped, as she was getting far too hot.  She looks so different.  We much prefer her with her scruffy long coat, but she was really struggling with it. Happily for us, the dog groomer didn't strip it back quite so hard this time and her coat is already starting to grow back well.   Here's a picture of her new look.

Talking of new looks, I could do with a haircut myself.  I'm still currently debating whether to grow the colour out of my hair and possibly colour it more naturally with henna or something similar.  If anyone has any experience of using henna, any tips would be welcome. In the meantime, I may just get it cut, although the roots do look awful. Maybe I should just wear a sun hat all summer and and a beanie all autumn and winter, and hide it that way until the colour has grown out!

When I got home from the dog walk, I enjoyed reading thrift deluxe's post today about my home city of Hull. She took some beautiful photographs of some of my favourite places and it was lovely to hear someone singing the city's praises, as it tends to get quite a lot of bad press.  Check it out if you haven't already.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

A Mixed Bag of a Day

Wednesday here was really mixed bag. The day started off well enough with my aerobics class. It was the last class by our current stand in teacher as she has other commitments, but we will hopefully get a new teacher next week, although none of us know who it will be yet.

On the way home from the gym, I had to pop to the doctors to get a blood test, as I'm having a thyroid review appointment with the doctor next week and I thought it would be useful for them to be able to see my current levels.

Then I had to call at the library and return some books that I'd borrowed a few weeks ago. Unfortunately the library was closed, so I had to kill some time doing a bit of grocery shopping around and about before going back later when it opened. I took out a new book.  This one.

It has some interesting healthy recipes in it.

Particularly this one, which is similar to something that I have recently been having for breakfast or as a dessert on quite a regular basis, using chia seeds and almond milk. There were a couple of differences, one being that this recipe is made the night before and left in the fridge overnight to set, as well as being whisked to prevent the chia seeds clumping together. The other is that there are a couple of added ingredients that I don't normally use, such as vanilla extract, maple syrup (I used agave syrup) and nutmeg (the recipe stated cinnamon, but I prefer nutmeg).  I made some up that evening and looked forward to seeing how it turned out.

The next morning I added some sliced banana and it was lovely, much better than my usual attempts. Here's a picture of my version, which I will definitely be making more regularly in future.

I've come to really enjoy this breakfast and after not having had it for a few days whilst away, I relished it even more.

Anyway, back to Wednesday.  When I got home from shopping and the library, I opened a bank statement that had arrived for me, relating to my business account.  I was horrified to see that I'd been charged nearly £100 in bank charges for going overdrawn.  I was so shocked.  I have never gone overdrawn on my business account and don't have a facility.  I immediately rang the bank and explained that I was very surprised at the amount of the charges and that I'd never been overdrawn before and luckily they very kindly offered to waive the charges.

Basically, I had purchased something for my business on eBay and Paypal had taken the money directly from my bank account, instead of it going on my business credit card as it normally does.  It is the first time that this has ever happened and hopefully it will be the last.  The £12 or so I was overdrawn then accumulated £8 per day in overdraft charges over the subsequent 12 days.  I should have checked my account earlier, but as things have been very quiet lately, I didn't think there was any need.  How wrong I was.

Anyway, hopefully thanks to the bank being very reasonable about it, things have now been resolved and my panic is over, but it has taught me a very big lesson for the future, namely to keep a regular track of my business bank account and to pay very close attention when paying on eBay to avoid this ever happening again.  The day could have been a lot worse.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

A Useful Little Harvest

Tuesday morning and I headed off to the allotment.  I wanted to make sure everything was okay and do a bit of watering.

When I got there the onions looked more or less ready to harvest.  The odd one was starting to flower, so my first job was to pull them all up.  They may not be the biggest specimens I've ever grown, but on numerous occasions on a previous plot, I've lost crops to rot, by leaving them in too long.  Even in this harvest I found some with rot and had to discard them.  I'm hoping that the remaining ones will be unaffected and there will be plenty to keep us going for a couple of months.

Once pulled up, in their place I planted out a few more courgette plants that I'd taken with me.  This means that I can now give the tomato plants the room they need in the greenhouse, which was just in time as they were now growing beyond the level of the shelves above.

I harvested what ever else there was to harvest - quite a bit of lettuce, a few broad beans I'd managed to salvage from the black fly ridden plants (these will be nice in a salad or eaten raw), a few potatoes and a few stalks of rhubarb.  I also harvested a few artichokes which I never do, to see if I can cook and eat them.  After seeing someone eat some on YouTube, it's made me want to give it a go again and see if I like them.

Here's my harvest in it's entirety, definitely worth a visit.

And here's how the tomatoes are doing with more room to grow.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Cleaning Up

After spending a couple of days in a lovely clean and minimalist villa at Centre Parcs, coming back home the house seemed incredibly grubby.  In all honesty, I was feeling this way about it before we went away for the weekend, but just couldn't find the motivation to tackle it.

Back now, suitably rested and with two weeks until the summer holidays, I've decided to tackle the house and try to clean as much of it as I can and get it in some sort of order. I'm starting with my desk at kitchen table.  Today, I'm going to do as much of the paperwork as I can, significantly reduce my pending pile and will then get started proper on the cleaning.

First on my list will be the bathroom. It definitely needs a clean and a burst of cleaning will have the added advantage of using up more of the non-natural cleaning products I have left. There's something wonderful about having a clean and pristine bathroom. A relaxing bath in one feels much more relaxing. I must admit that since I've been using more natural bath products, the bath definitely doesn't seem to get as dirty as it used to. I think perhaps it's the bicarbonate of soda in my bath bombs, that seem to leave it cleaner than when I get in it. An unexpected advantage of changing to more natural products.

I can't really say the same for the bathroom sink, but we are still using some regular products here, i.e. soap (my last regular bar), shaving foam, toothpaste, LB's facial wash, etc. It does, however, seem to take a little longer to get as dirty.

Sometimes I just feel like I want to look after my home and the things in it and giving it a good and thorough clean is my way of languishing a bit of love on it. In a world where there are so many more interesting distractions, I probably don't do it often enough, but when I do get the urge I just have to act on it before it recedes.

Monday, 6 July 2015

A Little Break

Apologies for not posting for a few days, but I've actually taken a full 3 days break from the computer (save for watching a movie) and it was really therapeutic.

OH treated us to a weekend at Center Parcs and as LB had a day off school on Friday for staff training, we headed off to enjoy a weekend of relaxing, reading, exercising and generally getting away from the stresses and strains of everyday life.

On this visit LB had a friend with her, so it was great for her to go off with her friend and exercise some independence.  They had fun making new friends in the pool and enjoying the slides and shutes.

We took lots of food with us to minimize costs and also took bikes to enable us to get around the site. The dog didn't come this time though, as we found on our last visit that off lead dog walking opportunities are minimal because of the wildlife, so it isn't so much fun for her.  She had a weekend with the dog sitter and had a holiday from us, spending time with some of her doggy friends which she always enjoys.

Whilst away, OH spent time in the gym and I did a couple of classes and we managed to play a good few games of badminton together which we both enjoyed, as well as getting extra exercise cycling around the site. It was a lovely relaxing weekend, but we have both returned with various aches and pains, on account of using muscles we don't ordinarily use in our normal everyday life.  It's all good though and we wouldn't have it any other way.

We're back home now and trying to get back to reality.   There's just two weeks left of the school term and two weeks before OH heads off to the Alps for a weekend to cycle part of the Tour De France route. Needless to say he's quite excited about it.  LB and I won't be joining him on this trip, so we'll be having a girly weekend at home, all being well.  I've promised LB that I will help her to repaint a couple of walls in her bedroom this summer, so we may make a start on that.

I'm also trying to get organised and order LB's school uniform for next year before the school closes for the summer.  I'm so looking forward to the summer holidays and the break it gives us all from school routines.  We haven't got much planned thus far.  Our family holiday will probably be booked and planned last minute, which is always the way with us.  We are intending to pay a short visit to family in Yorkshire at some point in the holidays too, but other than this and our annual get away, we will be relaxing at home and enjoying some down time.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

A Bit of Retail Therapy

I've been pretty good for ages now and haven't been out shopping aimlessly in a long long while. One day last week, however, I needed to get out of the house and get a few groceries from ASDA and because of I was feeling a bit low, I found myself craving a bit of retail therapy.

I'd had something on my mind for a few weeks and it had been causing me quite a bit of worry and stress. It involved a situation that had arisen at the gym, usually my place of refuge, but not recently, at least on one day of the week.  I won't go into details here, as the situation now appears to have been resolved, but for a while it weighed heavily on my mind and I found myself fretting about it quite a lot.

Now, going shopping when you're feeling a bit emotional isn't really a good idea, but I just needed a break, so I headed off to ASDA, where I treated myself to a set of three new jars for the food cupboard for £3.50.  (A little more expensive than at IKEA, but they saved me driving over 10 miles to my nearest store and they're very similar)  My only criticism of these when I got them home, is that I can't stack two on top of one another and fit them on my cupboard shelf, so I have had to mix and match stacking them with the IKEA ones to utilise the space fully. This will influence any future purchase of these.

I also treated myself to a glass ramekin to hold my earrings, which I reach for daily.  It cost £1.

On leaving ASDA, I decided to just go 'for a look' in TK MAXX nearby.  I should have heard the warning bells sounding, as 'just looking' in such a store is virtually impossible and it wasn't long before I found something that I just had to buy.  I didn't have a current candle to burn and I saw this one. It is called Clean Mist, is a lovely fresh scent, comes in a lovely large glass jar with a metal lid, fits with the decor in my living room and was only £6.  I'll call it a little treat to myself to cheer me up. Dangerous habit, I know. I figured that once I've burned it down, I could wash and use the lovely jar to make another one myself, which I would like to try to do at some point.  I've seen new purpose made much smaller jars of a similar design, on a website recently costing £4, so with the candle included I thought this was a good price, especially if it could be reused.

Finally, I also bought a new pair of flip flops.  I saw these on sale for £4 and they are Gandy's.  This isn't some high end luxe brand, but a social enterprise company that was set up by two brothers, who, orphaned in the Boxing Day Tsunami over 10 years ago, decided to set up a company that gives 10% of its profits to help orphans of natural disasters.  I remember reading about them in a magazine and admired their courage and positivity after such a tragedy. I couldn't think of anything better to spend my money on and I got a lovely pair of grey flip flops which double up as summer slippers. Win,Win.

So, it wasn't a totally mindless shopping binge, I tried to stick to things I needed, I didn't spend too excessively, I had an eye towards re-purposing and an eye towards buying ethically and charitably, as well as using less fuel, so this did help to lessen the guilt a little.  It could have been far worse, had I not reined myself in tightly. A bit of relapse, but sometimes shit happens and controlled treating of yourself when you're feeling a little fed up, can be very therapeutic.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Making Progress on Zero Waste

Things have been going much better on the zero waste front in the last couple of weeks, which has been making me very happy.  I haven't been consciously trying as hard as I could and probably should, so it does show what can be done without too much effort.  I managed to reduce our recycling down from two bags to just one bag for the past two weeks, for the first time in several months.  It may not seem much of an achievement, but to me it feels like progress and I'm happy to be going in the right direction once again.

Our landfill waste still remains at one bag per week, so I'm still working on that issue, but I'm happy for the time being to make small inroads into the amount we throw out.  In addition, the black bin liners that I am currently using are quite a bit smaller than ones I've used in the past, so I probably have made progress here too, but it is not so obvious.

There is a lot more I can do and I do need to pay more attention to buying things with less packaging on a more regular basis to  reduce the recycling further.  As I've been making lots of changes in my food and toiletry shopping habits in the last couple of months, this particular issue has taken a bit of a back seat, but I think perhaps I may be buying slightly less and the products I am buying are packaged with more thought than some regular grocery items, which is all helping.

Bea Johnson, author of Zero Waste Home, posted an interesting video of her zero waste lifestyle on her Zero Waste Home You Tube channel this morning, if you fancy taking a look.  I couldn't help but watch it before I rushed off to the gym this morning.  It's great to see how the experts manage it on a daily basis.  I've still got a long way to go and a lot to learn, but I'm enjoying the journey