Archive for January, 2013


Progress

I’ve actually been having a surprising amount of fun sticking to my new years resolution. Aside from crocheting my body-weight in dish cloths, I’ve been able to find a use for all sorts of things I would normally throw out.

I’ve started making a reusable shopping bag from the stack of flimsy plastic ones everyone seems to accrue – where would I be without that crochet course?! – and I’ve made a list of all the food in my cupboard in an effort to eat what I have before buying more. Cue a few weeks of really odd meals! I’ve also started making a Vinegar Mother so that in future and wine that doesn’t get drunk (ha!) can be made into pickling vinegar. I also made my first sauerkraut from cabbage leftovers I would usually throw out, so a win there! All it takes is some salt and a jar – will definitely be doing that again in future, hopefully with my own cabbages. Despite saying I wasn’t going to branch into homemade dairy, I am now a convert to making my own yogurt (recipe courtesy of my crafty friend from Holland).  I am also – in bursts between typing – shaking some cream I found in my fridge in an attempt at butter… who needs a gym?

I did have to buy new underwear this month. Despite the champion item of my wardrobe being 17 years old* I decided that 7 years with a 1 year gap for pregnancy & feeding was probably pushing it for my 5 Euro H&M sale bra… What can I say – I’ve always hated shopping for clothes. I stuck to my plan though, buying from a local boutique and can honestly say I’m never looking back. I spent far more than I ever would have in cheapy chain stores, but my back feels miles better already and I’ve come away with clothing that I love and which was checked to fit me right. Plus, the ancient, grotty thing I had been wearing went into the shop’s bra bin, in aid of various good causes. So another plus there.

I’m also getting to grips with the idea of maintaining a good garden this year. I always plant things, but very rarely do I maintain to a decent standard. Fruit bushes have been kind to me in the past – especially strawberries – but I plan to plant some heritage seeds which I’ve ordered. I have a crafty plan for how to organise myself, but will reveal in due course…

I will be saying goodbye to the car on Saturday morning… looking forward to a last blast up the road blaring Florence but I reckon Sunday I will be a total state. Wish me luck!

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*I still have a shirt I owned when I was 10. And my Doc Marten’s from when I was 13. I wear both regularly. The shirt has even been around long enough to look kind of stylish again!

Resolution

Now is the time for resolutions, so I thought I would share mine with you. I’ve given it an awful lot of thought this year and have decided that it’s time my family consumed less.

I read an article from Which, stating that this Christmas (just gone) has cost an average of £835 per household. I don’t know about you, but that strikes me as a little obscene. Thinking back to when I was working, that was pretty much what I pocketed each month after tax had gone… a sobering thought indeed.

Anyhow, these numbers  got me thinking about consumption in day to day life and just how much money my husband and I use on things that we don’t even need. For example, I’ve been given a variety of beautiful bars of soap over the years – and even made some myself – but instead of putting these out in the bathroom, I stash them away like treasure and spend money I don’t need to on liquid soap. So, resolution one: use what’s already in the house. Be this my Burts Bees soap stash, the razor S- bought 2 days prior to deciding to grow a beard, or the food that’s already in my pantry – before I buy anything else, I need to use what I already have. This also includes switching Bub back to the reusable nappies. Over December, with our frequent trips up north, I pretty much moved exclusively to disposables and noticed an instant dive in my bank balance. To combat this I’ve set up a button system. Every time I use a reusable, I deposit a button in a tin to represent the cost of disposable nappy. At the end of the week, I add it all up and deposit the money into savings.

On a similar theme, I need to put resolution two: one-in-one-out into effect. This means clothing, books, toys, etc. All things excepting underwear must be made/bought second hand. Anything not second hand must be bought from an ethical (ideally independent and local) retailer. This one will probably be the easiest thing to enforce as I’ve been doing it with books for a long while. Besides, husband doesn’t go through many clothes, I don’t like clothes shopping and Bub couldn’t care less about the whole affair as long as we get a trip to the library in every now and then. That said, talk to me again when my beloved 501s are dropping to bits and my size isn’t on ebay…

Resolution three: free the stash will be somewhat harder, especially as I work through my more lovely wool and fabrics. Once the best stuff has gone on clothes (see above), and I’m left with the dregs but can’t buy new until they’re gone, things should get interesting. Watch this space for some interesting patchwork!

As most of you know, food is a massive part of my life, so resolution four: eat, eat, eat should come as no real surprise. I already make my own bread, ice cream, jam, cordial, soup and cakes from ingredients which are as seasonally representative as possible, but I want to support local businesses too, so as of next Wednesday, I’m going to switch my veg shopping from the supermarket to our local farm shop. Our meat already comes from Christmas Hill and because there is no better tasting meat anywhere, this will continue for the foreseeable future. I had planned to get my flour from Denver Mills, but as they had a lousy harvest last year, this doesn’t look to be possible straight away. In terms of cost and time, I can’t afford to make pasta (due to the high egg content), nor can I see myself branching out into yogurt, butter, wine and cheese without sending Bub to nursery for a few more days a week. When she hits 3 and gets a few funded days, I will reassess. I realise that my food bill is likely to increase if I do things this way, but I think that by expanding my modest garden harvest (which currently stands at: lavender, sage, thyme, lemon thyme, rosemary, lovage, oregano and mint, rhubarb and potential apples) I can make a decent go of it. The hedgerow will provide my old favourites – nettles – and Bub’s beloved brambles come the autumn, so we shall have to see how it goes.

Whilst most of the nation decides to diet after a few weeks of excess, I will be exercising. Resolution five: join the village gym, go running and walk more is something that has been a long time coming. I posted a long time ago that it’s my ambition to be like the girls in my video games and since I have Wednesdays with Husband, he and I are going to hit the gym. Running is something we both enjoyed in the summer/autumn of 2012 and will hopefully get around to again soon, now that the ground has cleared a little.

Which leads me to the radical one. Resolution six : goodbye Charlie Micra. My God, this one broke my heart. Happily, the car that saved my life* is going to live with Mum and will hopefully continue being as fun and serviceable in her excellent company as he was in mine. With S- working from home now, we just don’t need two cars. As the least efficient of our vehicles, mine is the one to go. This should facilitate my walking more as per resolution five. It will also leave me feeling very naked and alone for a long time to come.

So there you have it. On the face of things, a relatively simple list. Eat well, do more, spend less. Let’s see how it all pans out, eh?

Big loves, and all the best for 2013. Whatever sticks, it’ll be an awesome sort of a year.

xxx

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*If I haven’t told you this lamentable tale yet, count yourself lucky – it’s a fairly pathetic recital involving too many chocolate brownies and a pair of sunglasses. You have been warned.