Wednesday 31 August 2022

Current Favourites - On TV, Netflix and YouTube

I haven't done a 'Favourites' blog post for a long time, so I thought that I'd do one. This post is mainly concerned with favourite TV shows we've been watching lately, in case anyone out there is looking for something interesting to watch. We don't watch a lot of TV, maybe an hour or two per night, but when we do, we like to watch things that are well made and interesting.

For the past few weeks, we've been watching Newsreader, a series on iplayer about a TV News Station in Australia.  This was a really good series, set in the 1980's, and was both interesting and entertaining. It was only 6 episodes long, but was really well made and a good watch.

Another good watch on iPlayer recently, was a 4 part documentary on The Rolling Stones. Each episode took a different band member as it's subject and it was a really good series to watch, whether you're a Rolling Stones fan or not.

The other week, I watched the movie Empire of the Sun on TV. Despite it being a Stephen Spielberg movie that came out in the 1980's, I'd never actually watched it and it was great. I loved watching a very young Christian Bale in this movie.

Last week, after looking for something new to watch on an evening, we've decided to watch Better Call Saul on Netflix.  This series is pretty old, and we did start to watch it several years ago after finishing Breaking Bad on Netflix. At the time, however, it was too much of the same kind of genre and we didn't stick with it. Hopefully, this time around, we'll give it a chance and as there's 6 seasons available, it should keep us entertained through the autumn/winter, unless we get bored with it, that is.

I've also recently started watching All That Glitters on BBC1. It's a new show about professional jewellery makers, in a similar format to the Great British Bake off and Great British Sewing Bee. Being a jewellery lover, I am finding it really interesting to see the bestseller and bespoke pieces that they make on the show and the techniques that they use to do so. They don't seem to have much time to produce the pieces, but some of them are exquisite.

On YouTube, I've found a few interesting new channels to follow recently:

NHK WORLD-JAPAN, is a fascinating channel whose videos are partly or wholly funded by the Japanese Government. I don't know if this makes it propaganda or not, but it posts some very interesting videos about life in Japan and about Zero Waste living. A fascinating culture and a place I would love to visit.

Another interesting channel I've found recently, is called Green Renaissance.  This channel produces some beautiful videos about living a simple life and is truly very inspiring. 

I've also been loving The Unexpected Gypsy channel in recent weeks. Wendy is an artist who produces beautiful work and likes to art journal. She vlogs about her art journalling, her painting, her art studio and her life on this channel. She is a lovely positive soul and I like to see her beautiful work.

I hope you find something here that interests you and if you have any suggestions of your own, I'd be happy to hear about them.

Tuesday 30 August 2022

A Small Car Boot Haul

On Sunday over the Bank Holiday weekend, OH wasn't cycling for a change, so we had a fun day out, taking the dog for a walk in Epping Forest, visiting a local Car Boot sale and then we had lunch at a pub.  

The Car Boot was one that OH and I hadn't visited before and which was a bit closer to home, near Waltham Abbey on the outskirts of London. It had a 10am start, so we took the dog for a walk in Epping Forest on the way, before continuing on to the Car Boot. 

Once again, I limited myself to a very tight budget of £10, which with admission was exactly what I spent. Here's what I bought:

A brand new, still in cellophane, Christmas jigsaw for £1. I always like a jigsaw to do over the Xmas holidays and with 500 pieces, this one is ideal and very cute. OH could even give this to me as a Christmas present. It's called Santa's Armchair and depicts a very cosy Christmas scene.

A new and unused Mandala colouring book for £1. I thought it might be meditative and relaxing to do a bit of colouring in quiet moments. I know it was a big trend not so long ago, and I'm a bit behind the curve. LB gave me some felt tip pens that she doesn't use, so I've been doing a bit here and there and it is quite enjoyable.

A Tiger's Eye necklace and earrings for £2. These were a good price, if they are genuine Tiger's Eye. Very pretty and protective too.

Two glass oil/vinegar bottles for £1.50. These look brand new and unused.

Some manilla A4 envelopes for 50p. These will always come in useful.

A sweater, which badly needs de-pilling, but I really liked the design on it, very Scandi. It's only from George at ASDA, but for 50p, if I only wear it around the house or for dog walking this winter, it will be worth it.

Lastly, I bought a plain navy Weekday t-shirt, which looks brand new for £1.50. It's a long length one, which I like, good for everyday wear or wearing to the gym.

Simple straightforward, practical purchases that I should get some use out of. It's amazing how much fun you can still have with just £10 when you go to a Car Boot and I get much more satisfaction buying things in the circular economy as opposed to going to the shops and buying new.

Monday 29 August 2022

This Week - W/E - 27/8/22

This week has been an interesting one.  The wedding reception and trip to Faversham got it off to a good start and then it settled back into it's normal routine, starting with a food shop at the beginning of the week. I tried as always to keep expenditure low. I did buy a few bits for LB to take to University with her, as every bit of help I can give her makes a difference, as she won't have a huge amount of money to live on.

I did my usual trips to the gym on Monday and Tuesday this week. I tried to use a few different bits of equipment in the gym this week, that I'd seen other people using, to mix it up a bit and keep it interesting. I do need to gear myself towards more strength training as I get older, as I think this will benefit me more.

On Wednesday, I got a phone call from an ex-colleague, who left work a couple of years before I did and we had a good chat. It was nice to hear from him and he seems happy where he's at now which is good.

I also cleared out my wardrobe on Wednesday. There were lots of things in there that I just don't wear and am unlikely to, now that I'm not working. I filled a black bin bag with items to send to the charity shop.  It felt very satisfying and left my wardrobe looking half empty.

On Thursday, I woke up to rain. It was lovely to lie in bed and listen to it raining outside, especially after so much heat. I was so grateful for the sound of it. It continued until lunchtime too, so everything got a really good soaking. Yay!

I made an online sale on Thursday, the first in a while. It was only a small inexpensive item, but it's one less thing in the house, so I'm very grateful for it. I didn't actually receive any income from it, as this was diverted to pay some listing fees that I'd racked up, but even so, that's one bill I won't receive next month. It can be quite difficult to sell online, especially at the moment, when people are being extra careful about what they spend due to the cost of living rises. I took it as a sign from the Universe to persevere and not give up. 

I took two black bags of clothes to the clothing bank on Thursday, and another three to a local charity shop. It felt good to get more unwanted things out of the house. I hope they go to good homes and make other people happy whilst raising some money for a good cause. (RSPCA in this case)

As it was cooler on Thursday, I finally took the opportunity to do some ironing. This filled the wardrobe back up, but at least it is now full of things that I wear regularly. 

On Friday, I made the executive decision to stop ironing a lot of things, and went through the remainder of the basket and just folded up the things I'm no longer going to iron, ready to put away. I think they get more creased in the ironing basket anyway. This included t-shirts, leggings, gym/casual wear and nightwear. I'll only be ironing things that go in the wardrobe from now on.

Doing this, and refilling all of my drawers and the wardrobe, I realised how many clothes I actually have, and there's a lot. I don't own much that is particularly special, as I don't need it for my lifestyle, but I've got more than enough for everyday living. I do look after my clothes, so they tend to last a long time, even ones that I've bought inexpensively. I've probably got t-shirts and other things that I've had for 10 years or more, that still have a lot of life left in them.  This has reassured me that having a very low income isn't such a problem, as far as clothing is concerned anyway, as I don't need anything.

Saturday was a super quiet day. OH was out cycling for most of it, while I chilled at home. 

Another week gone in the blink of an eye. I hope you had a good week.

Sunday 28 August 2022

Frugal Things - W/E 27/08/22

This week, I've done the following frugal things to save money and spread the cost of things:

I bought a couple of small Xmas presents for OH this week. I got to thinking that as I'm currently without an income, buying presents for LB and OH this year is going to be a struggle, so I decided to start spreading the cost. Both gifts were small and cost about £10, so not enormous outlays, but I think he'll like them and every little bit helps.

I was given a few free seed trays from a garden centre we visited this weekend in Kent. They are good quality ones in very good condition, that the garden centre had used themselves, but no longer wanted. These will come in very handy for OH when sowing seeds in the spring. They just need a clean, which is easy enough to do. (Please excuse how dark this photograph is)

LB had a massive clear out of her clothing this week, prior to heading off to University. I salvaged some old worn t-shirts from going into landfill, by cutting them up for both dish cloths and rags for OH to use to clean his bikes. I kept a couple of items of her clothing too, to wear myself. Free clothes are always nice.

I did a  £2 session at the gym and a £2 Aerobics class too. It was a different teacher this week, which made a change. She was very nice and I enjoyed it. 

I made a lasagne from scratch this week, to use up lots of vegetables from the allotment. I also froze some excess tomatoes and pickled more beetroot. Almost one whole drawer of the freezer is now filled with frozen vegetables from the allotment.

I picked up a couple of items from outside our neighbours house, that they were giving away for free. They are these two aluminium plant holders that can be hung over a fence. Here's a picture:

I made a long resisted decision this week. After watching a video by Tess from Tess - Frugal Living  on YouTube, I finally decided to let go of the idea that I need to iron all of my clothes. From now on, nightwear, gym wear, leggings and t-shirts won't be ironed. I'll just be ironing things that need hanging in the wardrobe. I don't know why I've resisted this for so long, by way of some misguided old fashioned notion that it was good housekeeping. What with the energy crisis, I can't really justify being so stubborn any longer, so this should save us some money on electricity.

 No huge strides or anything, but progress just the same. 




Wednesday 24 August 2022

This Weekend

This weekend was very different and made a lovely change.  OH and I were invited to an evening wedding reception in Faversham in Kent on Saturday night. He had booked us into a room above a pub for the night, so that he could have a drink and we got taxis to and from the venue.

The venue was actually a field with a marquee, a mobile bar, hay bales, portaloos and a bouncy castle.  Some of the guests were camping there overnight. It was a lovely spot and the party was so good. A really good vibe with great music. We had a good dance, after having a few drinks. I haven't enjoyed myself so much in a long time, which came as a surprise, as I was almost dreading it, as I wouldn't know anyone there.  As it happens, Matthew knew someone through his cycling, (which is how he knew the groom) and we hung out with him and his wife.  Very nice people.

I was a bit concerned that our room above the pub might be noisy, but it wasn't. It was a big and very comfortable room and I slept pretty well, only waking up for a drink, because I was so dehydrated. (Too much alcohol) 

On the Sunday, we had breakfast before packing up and then heading out to explore the town. It was a town we'd passed through many times on the way to the beach when LB was small, but never stopped and explored and we were so pleasantly surprised at how lovely it was. Lots of old buildings and interesting shops.

We then drove out to the local Maytree Nursery, to get a wedding present for the bride and groom.  We had in mind a tree, but in the end OH settled for a voucher, as we'd never seen their garden and didn't know what they already had or might like. At least they can enjoy spending it. It turned out that it was their favourite nursery, which was lucky.  

It was a great plantsman's nursery.  So many trees and shrubs, some amazing mature specimens, which cost quite a lot of money. I'd love to return if ever we want to overhaul our garden and have a decent budget to do so. I've never seen so much choice.

OH did treat me to a couple of plants and a pot. One was this lovely lavender, I've wanted one for a while and theirs were very nice plants for just £5, the pot it's in was reduced to £8 which I thought was good value. He also bought me a small Monkey Puzzle tree, which is another plant I've wanted for a while. I'll be keeping it in it's pot for the time being though, as these can grow very big. It's super spiky.

Later, we visited OH's cycling friend at his house, where they had moved to from London a couple of years ago. It was lovely to see where they lived. It was a lovely quirky house. London is so expensive for young people, I can understand them moving out to where they were able to buy a great house in a lovely place.

In the afternoon, we wandered down to the quay/creek, a part of the town we hadn't yet explored. It was full of cafes, restaurants and vintage/antique shops that we had a look around which was fun, but we didn't buy anything. We already have too much vintage stuff in our house.  We need to get rid of some of it.

After a lovely day, we headed home to London. It was good to get back and see our little dog. She was so pleased to see us. It is very rare for her to make a fuss of us, so it was nice to get an animated greeting. LB had looked after her in our absence, but she must have missed us.

Friday 19 August 2022

Yay! Rain at Last

This week has been a mixed bag, both weatherwise and in terms of life, as I've been busy trying to get LB organised for going off to University in a few weeks time.

On Monday, I headed out to do the weekly shop. I managed to keep it reasonably minimal, although we did need quite a few things. I got to use a £3.50 voucher at Tesco, which helped.

In the afternoon, I headed off to the gym with OH. He went to a Pilates class, whilst I went in the gym.

On Tuesday, we finally got a decent amount of rain. It was so needed and welcome, as far as I'm concerned. I really didn't mind that it came just as I was going to and fro on my bike to a class at the gym, and I got drenched. The rain was more important. I quite enjoyed getting wet for once, as it was very cooling. The class at the gym was good too, definitely worth getting wet for.

In the evening, LB gave me a free haircut, which was much needed and appreciated. OH and I are going to a wedding on Saturday, so it was good to tidy it up before then. The fact that it didn't cost me anything was a lifesaver too. I'm going to have to wait for future haircuts, until those times when LB is home in the holidays.

On Wednesday, I headed off to a local mall with LB, to go to the bank and sort out some of her student finances. I had saved some money for her to use for daily living expenses whilst at University and we needed to get a standing order arranged, so that money could be paid into her account each month starting next month.

I also needed to bank a cheque. I sold some shares and received a cheque for them last weekend. This will pay a few bills and allow me to buy LB a few things she needs for going to University. 

It felt good to get these things done, so that LB is set financially for her student days. Her student living allowance pays mainly for her accommodation, with very little left over for daily expenses. I think she might eventually get a part time job, but for the first few months, it will be good that she doesn't have to worry too much about money and can enjoy her time as a student.

On the way home, I got caught in a torrential downpour. Luckily, I was on the bus at the time, so didn't get wet. It's so good to see so much rain after so much dry weather.

In the evening, we realised that someone had got inside our car and trawled through all of the contents of the glove box and doors. I don't think they took anything, as we don't keep anything valuable in the car, but it was a bit disturbing to know that someone had been in it rummaging around. I think OH must have left the door unlocked, as there was no damage caused by them getting in.

On Thursday, I had a day at home. I thought about going to the gym, but one gym session a week is enough. I just didn't feel like doing another one.

Instead, I walked the dog and then had lunch. In the afternoon, I pottered for a while, making some curd tarts to use up some pastry out of the freezer and some fruit curd out of the fridge. I did a bit of banking too and bits of work about the house. I also sowed some English marigold/calendula seeds. I want to harvest the petals for making Calendula balm, as it's very soothing and therapeutic. I may need to buy some dried petals in the meantime.

In the evening I watched the 1980's Spielberg movie Empire of the Sun. It was so good. I'd never watched it before. A very young Christian Bale was brilliant in it.  Would definitely recommend.

On Friday, LB and I spent most of the day shopping for things she needed for University. It was mainly just towels, pans, etc. I'd put aside a bit of money for it. It's a big life change for her afterall. It was fun to be able to buy things for her. I think she's got most of what she needs now.  Just a couple of things still needed that I'll try to pick up in the next couple of weeks.

Tomorrow, OH and I are going to a wedding reception in the evening.  Not sure what I'm going to wear, but it will be something from my wardrobe, that's for sure.

Hope you've had a good week and wishing you an enjoyable weekend.

Saturday 13 August 2022

Getting Back to Normal

It's been a week of getting back to normal here, after returning from our holiday last Friday. It almost felt like we'd been away longer than just a week, which must be an indicator of how relaxing a break it was.

I got a nice surprise on returning home. I'd had another small win on the Premium Bonds whilst we were away. I hadn't had one for a couple of months, so I was very happy to win something again. Any income is welcome at the moment.

There was quite a bit to do once home, as always, when you return from holiday.  The garden needed some TLC after not being watered for a week. There were a couple of casualties, one of which was my rose bush, which was upsetting. I'm hoping it may recover next year.

On Saturday, I spent the day doing some post-holiday laundry and then heading out to Lidl to do a food shop for the week, as there was very little food in the fridge in particular. Once replenished we were set for the week.

On Sunday morning, OH and I headed over to the allotment, as quite a lot of work was needed there. There were lots of things to harvest.  We were very surprised and thankful that everything had fared so well in the week we'd been away. OH gave the whole plot a good water, whilst I did most of the harvesting.

My Big Green Smile order arrived an hour before we were due to go on holiday last week, so I didn't have time to unpack it before we set off. I did this on Sunday. Here's a picture of what I ordered:

In order to put everything away in the undersink cupboard, I needed to give it a good clean out, to make room. Once this was done, I was just about able to get everything in.  That's the only drawback of buying in bulk, you need enough space to store it.

Monday was a frustrating day, as I tried to attend a class at the gym and was told I couldn't use my membership to book it. I've not had a problem for the past month, but I couldn't be bothered to argue as there was a long queue of people waiting. 

Instead, I came home and made some new stock to sell and did some listing work on various online selling platforms, which was time well spent. 

On Tuesday, I went back to the gym to go to an Aerobics class and got in this time, thankfully. It was a really good class, I enjoyed it. 

On Wednesday, OH and I took a car full of rubbish to the tip. OH had had a good clear out in his office, well part of it anyway, and had got rid of a lot of clutter. It felt good to get it out of the house.

Thursday, it was my time to do a bit of sorting out. I decided to sort through my vintage linen collection, as I've decided to reduce it and sell some things.  I collected it all about 8-10 years ago and for the most part it has just sat in boxes unused, although I have been getting a few things out recently and using them, such as pillow cases and the odd sheet. I sorted out two boxes to sell. I'm hoping to get a good price for some of it, as most of it is from the 60's and 70's and quite collectable. This should reduce my collection by half, which will create a bit of space.

I also went through my fabric stash and sorted out a huge pile to try to sell. I have to accept that there is no way I'm going to use all of the fabric I own. It's better off going to someone who will use it. I'm feeling the need to clear some space at home at the moment. We have far too much stuff, most of it mine.

The final sort out was of some clothes that I had stored away because they no longer fitted me. Many items were things that I wouldn't wear these days, so a lot of things I was happy to send to the Charity shop. Some vintage things I'm keeping, but have put aside to see if I can sell them and the rest I am keeping in the hope I might fit into them again one day!!

It felt good to have a sort out. I now just need to list them for sale, which will take quite a bit of time, but will hopefully be worth it.

In the afternoon, I headed out in the car to the library to return some books. The roads in London are so much emptier in August, it makes it almost enjoyable to go out and about for once. I then did a small top up shop at Lidl, using up a £2 voucher whilst there. I dropped off a few bits into their food bank basket whilst there, which cleared more stuff from the house.

On Friday, I had booked myself into a session in the gym. After walking the dog, I headed off on my bike. I enjoyed working out in the gym, moving around the machines I like using. It was a good place to be on a hot day, as the air con was lovely and cold.  I was able to book it online very easily too, which made it a lot more straightforward.

It's been a slow and steady kind of week this week, but I feel settled back into some kind of routine which is a good thing.

Friday 12 August 2022

Frugal Things W/E 12/8/22

This week I've been getting back into living frugally. Although I didn't spend a whole lot on holiday, I did buy myself and LB a few treats here and there, so now it's time to tighten the purse strings once again. Here's what I did to keep things frugal this week: 

We decided to start using a washing up bowl again, for the first time in probably 20+ years. Mainly to harvest water to put on the garden, but it should also save money too.  In a similar vein, I used a trug in the shower and caught enough water to clean the bathroom with.

We had a bumper harvest of produce from the allotment on our return from our holiday. More tomatoes than we know what to do with, a lunchbox full of raspberries, beetroot, cucumber and sweetcorn. 

I made some home made deodorant, which I haven't done for a number of years. It helped me to start using up some ingredients I've had for ages and saved money buying any. 

I foraged another bag of blackberries this week, which have been frozen. I used some reusable ice lolly containers I already had and made some smoothie ice lollies with them this week, which should help save money on buying ready made ice lollies.

I also made some flap jack this week to use up items in the food cupboard, that wouldn't otherwise get used. I haven't made these in a long time. 


I picked up this set of wooden drawers for free, from outside a house on our street. I gave them a makeover and they are now in use in the sewing room.

I used up a couple more things from the freezer, that have been sat in there for quite a while. It is making room for allotment produce and also using up things that might otherwise go off and need to be thrown out at some point. 

I potted up a couple more plant babies from a Chinese money plant that I have. She has produced 4 new baby plants now.  I'm hoping this is a good omen for my future finances - I need all the help I can get!!

I sold the last non-performing shares that I needed to offload. My remaining shares are much more stable and profitable ones and it is much less depressing to check them, than when I had lots of long underperforming shares alongside them. I am also doing this to cut any potential losses should the stock market take a turn for the worst in the coming months due to a recession, etc. I'm keeping a regular eye on the remaining shares, with a view to selling them too, if absolutely necessary.

Finally, I foraged a bowlful of small wild plums the other day. I would have liked to have foraged more, but the many bushes I visited were all stripped clean of them, which was disappointing. People must be picking them when they are green, because the ones I did get are only just ripening now. I'll just have to be out earlier next year and hope I get lucky.

Getting back into this frugality thing, slowly but surely. 












Thursday 11 August 2022

Making Natural Homemade Deodorant

This week, I decided to revert to making my own homemade deodorant. My decision was partly out of necessity, as I ran out, and partly economy, as I'm looking for ways to save money and also wanted to use up some ingredients I already had in the cupboard. I used to make my own deodorant in the past, before I went out to work.  When I was busy going out to work, it was so much easier to just buy a deodorant and not think about the plastic waste I was producing, what was in it or the cost.

Now that I've got a bit more time, I can use it to be a little more resourceful, mindful and put the reusable containers that I have into use again. I started by cleaning out and re-using my current roll on container to make a roll-on vegan deodorant. I haven't actually made this before, so I wasn't sure how it would turn out, but I had all the ingredients already and here's the recipe and the finished result: 

1 teaspoon of baking soda

3 tablespoons of distilled water (I used pre-boiled, but cooled water from the kettle)

3/4 teaspoon of glycerin

1/2 teaspoon of Aloe vera gel

1/2 teaspoon of Almond oil

30 drops of essential oil

1/4 teaspoon Vitamin E oil

It turned out okay, for a first attempt, slightly watery, but it smells nice and it's better than having nothing to put on, which was my current situation. 

The next day the beeswax I'd ordered on eBay arrived, so I proceeded to make some stick deodorants that I've made in the past.  The recipe that I prefer to follow is this one:

4 tablespoons Coconut oil (or half coconut oil, half shea butter)

1 teaspoon of Bicarbonate of Soda

1 teaspoon of White Beeswax pellets (or you could grate some from a bar)

2 tablespoons of Cornstarch

1 tablespoon of Bentonite Clay or Kaolin Clay (if you don't have this, you can substitute another tablespoon of cornstarch)

15 drops of Essential oil of your choice

1/4 teaspoon Vitamin E oil (optional, but does help preserve it)

I found this recipe worked better for me, possibly because is was slightly less oily/greasy than the one below.

An alternative and slightly simpler recipe that I have used in the past is this one:

1 cup of cornstarch

1 tablespoon of Bicarbonate of Soda

8 tablespoons of Coconut oil

10 drops of essential oil

1/4 teaspoon of Vitamin E oil

To make the deodorant, you melt the coconut oil/shea butter and wax pellets over a bain marie and then add the dry ingredients, essential oil and Vitamin E oil.

Then pour it into your containers and leave in the fridge for 24 hours until set. Then use. Very simple.

I would just warn that it can leave slight greasy marks on clothing, so just beware of this if you are wearing anything expensive or special. In addition, the Bentonite clay turns the deodorant a bit of a murky brown colour, but don't be put off by this, unless, of course, you wear white a lot, as it may discolour your clothing. I have used kaolin or china clay instead of Bentonite clay in the past, as it's white, but I'm trying to use up the last bit of Bentonite clay that I have.

Here's a picture of the finished deodorants:

I'm not sure why they ended up different colours. I think the clay may have sunk to the bottom on the lighter one, but no matter. I'm going to leave these in the fridge whilst the weather is so hot and keep using the roll on, as I think they may melt in the heat.

They should last me a few months though and probably haven't cost as much as shop bought natural ones.  I did have to outlay some money for some of the ingredients that I no longer had, but these should pay for themselves over time and some will also be used to make our dog's paw balm and possibly other things.

Wednesday 10 August 2022

Making Water Economies

On our return from Devon, and the realisation of how dry it has been here in the south of the UK and London for months now, OH has started feeling more and more concerned about climate change. I think when you're a gardener or grow food, you become more aware than most about the amount of water it takes to grow things successfully.

We got to brainstorming about what we could do to cut down our ecological footprint.  We live quite frugally and try to be resourceful and make things last. We already have a hybrid car, although a fully electric one would be good, but super expensive. Solar panels would be great too, but we have a butterfly roof, which doesn't lend itself so well, we'd have to build some sort of frame to put them on. Getting rid of our gas central heating would be better too, but a big undertaking.

Having thought about all of the above, we settled on trying to be more economical with water, especially living in drought conditions at the moment.  We decided that there were ways we could harvest water for the garden that wouldn't involve too much effort either.

We decided that we'd start to use a washing up bowl again for the first time in over 20 years. I have to admit, that neither of us have liked washing up bowls.  We just found them surplus to requirements when you've got a sink, so did away with them years ago. However, now we have come to appreciate that they can have some benefits.

I had a washing up bowl, that I bought to soak my feet, but never use, so I dug it out and we are now using it to harvest water from the kitchen sink to put on the garden. 

It's amazing how much clean or virtually clean water just goes right down the plughole from everyday use. Washing hands with eco handwash after going to the toilet harvest clean enough water for plants in the borders, as does water left over from washing fruit and vegetables from the supermarket or the allotment. Even leaving the tap to run cold when you want a glass of water harvests some clean water or rinsing off dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. We've been amazed at how much water we're collecting.

This morning, I tried something else. Inspired by Kezzie on a recent blog post, I put a trug in the bath with me as I showered. I collected a couple of inches of water just waiting for the shower to run hot. Then, whilst I soaped up and waited for the shampoo on my hair to do it's work, I stood aside from the shower and put the trug underneath to collect the water. It almost filled the tru, and it was quite a big trug. Normally, I would remain under the running water, just letting it wash off my back.  It felt a little less comfortable than normal, but in the heat of summer it was okay. Not sure I'll do it in the middle of winter.

This did, of course, produce a problem, the trug, filled with water, was way too heavy to carry downstairs to the garden, so, I used a jug to: 

1) fill the sink for me to wash my face (it was clean, hot water afterall), 

2) re-fill the sink and add bathroom cleaner to wash the sink, 

3) put the remainder of the water into the bath with some bathroom detergent to clean the bath. 

I would normally have used at least an extra trug load of water to do these things, so it just shows how much water you can save by making simple changes.

Buoyed by our success at harvesting water from our daily uses, we are going to continue to try to do so and hopefully we should save a bit of money too, as we are metered for the water we use.

Do you have any ways you save or harvest water for the garden or other uses? Now that our summers seem to be hotting up, I'd be really interested to know.

Monday 8 August 2022

Wooden Drawer Makeover

On my way back home from the allotment on Sunday, I was passing a house down our street and saw this little wooden set of drawers outside on the wall, left out for anyone who wanted it to take. I decided that it was definitely coming home with me.

I can always make use of more storage in my sewing room, as I have lots of bits and pieces that need a home. In addition, with starting my new small business, I knew they would come in handy for storing stock or stationery.

Later, on Sunday night, I decided to start painting them.  Here's what they looked like with a coat of primer:

To paint them, I used some small tester pots of emulsion that we had in the basement and picked out some pastel colours that I thought would fit in with the two sets of existing drawers I have, that I painted during the first Lockdown. As a consequence, this makeover didn't cost me a penny.

Here's the finished result:

I cleared a space for it in the sewing room and here it is in it's new home. It's perfect for what I need and I didn't even know it until I saw it.

Friday 5 August 2022

A Week in Devon

I didn't mention in my posts last week, as I never like to advertise online, the fact we are away from home, but this last week, we have spent the week on holiday in Devon.

We headed off last Friday morning and after a long journey that took 8 hours, due to several traffic snarl ups, we arrived at our rented accommodation, a converted barn a few miles from Dartmoor National Park, near Okehampton.

We were really looking forward to the break, as it's been a pretty eventful few months, for me anyway, due to leaving my job.  I'm gradually getting used to not going out to work though and this holiday has helped me to draw a line under everything and move on.  

Anyway, the accommodation had a hot tub, which was the express reason that we rented it. Getting a swimming pool with private holiday accommodation in the UK is virtually impossible, due to the high cost, but a hot tub sounded like the next best thing and there were quite a few properties that had this option. 

The last time we'd rented a property with a hot tub, it was so noisy that we were put off using it, as we were in quite close proximity to other properties.  This time around, we had no close neighbours, so we could use it as much as we wanted. It was a bit of an extravagance for us, but it did help us to enjoy the holiday and to really relax, as it felt very luxurious.

The rest of the property was lovely, very spacious and open plan and super well equipped. It definitely made for a lovely relaxing break. The owners had left us a lovely welcome pack too, of wine, crisps, biscuits, dog treats and lots of fresh eggs too. Very thoughtful.

On arriving, we brought everything in from the car, connected to the Wifi, unpacked our clothes and generally got settled in.  We didn't brave the hot tub on the first night, as it was quite late. I was in bed quite early, exhausted by the journey.

Our first day on holiday is always a pretty chill one. Acclimatising to our new environment, buying in some food for the week and generally familiarising ourselves with the local area. We headed into Okehampton in this instance, which was our nearest small market town.  It was an interesting place with lots of interesting independent shops. I bought a few small things.

The remainder of the week was spent hanging out at the house and using the hot tub, venturing out and about visiting local places of interest and walking the dog locally and on Dartmoor. OH went out cycling a couple of times over Dartmoor. We had the odd meal out at a pub. It was very relaxing.

We weren't so lucky with the weather, as it rained most days, but we did get a couple of days of sunshine. We weren't too worried though, as we could use the hot tub whatever the weather and goodness knows the UK needs some rain at the moment. Just a pity there hasn't been any to speak of in London for a while.

Today, we packed up, cleaned around and headed off at 9.15 am. Our journey home went well, until we got to the outskirts of London. Friday afternoon is never a good time to travel into or around the capital, but we eventually got home, the total journey time being about 6 and a half hours, instead of the 4 and a half hours predicted by the sat nav.  It was lovely get back toour house and to water the very parched garden. We were surprised that things survived as well as they did without being watered for a week.