Tuesday, 21 June 2011

A load of rubbish

A compactor working on the daily waste cell

I just watched a news item that Iain recorded for me last week about the Governments u-turn on forcing weekly bin collections.  It really angers me when people refuse to take responsibility for the rubbish they're producing and sending to landfill.  There was a man on this news item whose bin was being collected by the local council every fortnight and he was paying to have another bin collected every fortnight by a private company as he was producing so much waste.  Maggots, and bin bags left on the street that were ripped open by dogs were his excuses.

At no point did it seem to occur to him that he was responsible for any of this.  That maybe he ought to look at what he was throwing out and try and reduce it so he didn't fill his bin up and have to resort to using bin bags as well.  The official word on maggots is they need longer than 2 weeks to hatch.  I'm not sure about that, but I do know he must be getting them because he has food waste in his bin.  Some food waste is unavoidable, but it shouldn't be much and if it's well wrapped up there shouldn't be a problem.  Again, people refusing to alter their behaviour and take responsibility. 

I'd be quite happy to change to fortnightly bin collections - it makes sense to me to collect the rubbish one week and the recycling the next.  The Refuse Collectors usually put next door's rubbish together with mine every week so they only have one bin to haul up the road!  I try to be aware of excess packaging and not bring it into the house in the first place.  I recycle whatever the council collects in the recycle bin.  Food waste is minimal - I'm the only person in the house who ever leaves food on the plate and either Iain or the dog finishes it off for me!  Other stuff is re-used or taken to the charity shop or finds another home somewhere.  Last Christmas we didn't have our bins collected for nearly 3 weeks.  Ours wasn't even full.  One house across the street had 15 bin liners full of rubbish standing alongside their bin (yes, I stood and counted them, I couldn't help it!) and there are only 3 of them in the family!

But still I could do more.  I need to get my compost up and running again for a start.  I'll be looking at ways I can reduce my rubbish  even further from now on.  Landfill is limited and so are resouces.  We shouldn't be squandering them

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Wish List again

Just a quick addition to the wish list:

10.  Snog Les McKeown (Bay City Rollers)!

I'd just popped over to his Facebook page and it suddenly struck me, this really should go on the list as it's something I've wanted to do since I was 14 ;o)

Twenty Wishes

My decision to spend this weekend catching up with the housework turned out to be a good one given the weather we've had today.  It's rained constanly and heavily so I havn't been outside at all.  Still, the gardens needed it - my weeds will be having a nice little spurt of growth now!  Have you noticed how, if you don't water your plants they die but the same never happens to the weeds?  Pity.

I'd decided to spend most of the day in my bedroom, mainly tidying up and sorting thing out as it's become very messy of late.  I still haven't finished as I need to sort out the underbed storage boxes (which are full of cheap stockpiled food) and a box full of books.  So thats tomorrows job.  I did change the bedding though, so I have lovely clean sheets to look forward to tonight.

I have to admit to lazing around a bit this morning though, finishing off the book I've been reading on the bus to work.

It was a bit of a predictable book but still very enjoyable.  A book about friendship and changing ones life - very uplifting, and the sort of book that makes you feel good.  I'm so soppy, I had tears in my eyes at the end, but they were happy tears.  It's about a group of 4 widows who decide to each write a list of 20 wishes - things they had always wanted to do but never got round to.  The story follows them as they set about trying to make some of the wishes come true, and in doing so, change their lives around.

I was really attracted to the idea of making a list of wishes - that's what made me pick the book - so I've been thinking about what I would put on a wish list.  I dont have 20 yet, but I do have a few.

My Wish List (in no particular order)
1.  Go round the fleamarket in Lille
2.  Visit an old friend who lives in Germany
3.  Have a short story published
4.  Learn tablet weaving
5.  Keep chickens
6.  Live in a period cottage in a beautiful village (I didn't say my wishes were all going to be attainable!)
7.  Have a get-together with some old friends I haven't seen in a while.  Make sure we keep in touch.
8.  See Aerosmith live

I'm going to make a folder for my list and compile pictures and information to spur me on - just like they did in the book!  I sound like a child of 10.

I confess, I love making lists.  I might compile some other lists - books I've always wanted to read,  places I'd like to visit.... I could even make a list of lists I need to make!  Okay, that was a step too far :o)

Friday, 17 June 2011


This post is linked to Rhonda's blog at http://down---to---earth.blogspot.com/ as part of her regular Friday feature 'On My Mind'.

Today I'm celebrating my love of vintage by posting a couple of photos of recent buys.

 A 1930's teacup and saucer bought for £1.50 at the fleamarket.  This is my favourite era and is probably a big influence on the way I live my life now.  People's needs were simpler and they were satisfied with so much less.  They didn't judge the success of their lives on how many possessions they could accumulate.  Family and friends were more important than consumerism.  They had no need to be constantly throwing out perfectly good clothes and household items because they'd seen something newer they wanted - items were looked after and kept for years because they had more sense than to waste what money they had.  Yes, this was a time of great deprivation for some but it's the general ethos I'm thinking about. There was no pressure to spend hundreds of pounds on a childs birthday party or a teenagers 'prom night', expensive Christmas presents or 'designer' clothes.  There was no need for several cars per family, or to spend thousand of pounds on a wedding.  Are people any happier today because they spend money on stuff like this?  Personally, I think the pressure to do so causes a lot of stress.

My next item is from the 1970's. A long necklace made of different coloured stones.

I was a teenager in the 1970's so this evokes a lot of happy memories for me.  It was great time to be a teenager.  We had a lot more freedom than previous generations of kids and yet none of the pressures of consumerism that subsequent generations of teenagers have.  I feel sorry for todays teenagers with their long lists of expensive, and constantly changing, 'must have' items.

So, that's my take on vintage.  I love it because one little item can transport you back to another time.  It can be a time you remember fondly, or a time you fantasise about.  As I drink my afternoon tea or wear my necklace I can ponder over who owned it previously and what their lives were like, and take myself back in time.  I can have the best of both worlds - the benefits of living in the 21st century with nostalgia thrown in.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Cultivating patience

Looks like my energy is returning now, since the ‘cold from hell’.  Yesterday I managed to do two loads of washing and hang them out to dry, did a pile of ironing, got tea ready in the slow cooker and checked through the cupboards, fridge and freezer to make a shopping list for the fortnight.  All before I left the house at 8.45am for work.  Then I made dog food when I got in at 7pm. I was quite pleased with myself as I’ve been coming in from work and just collapsing on the couch lately! 

It’s hard sometimes, to lead a frugal life when you’re out of the house for 10 and a half hours a day. There are so many things I’d like to be doing, but never seem to have time or energy for.  Sometimes I have days when I come in from work and can’t be bothered to cook from scratch or think what to do with the leftovers, or I want the easy and quick way to clean the house. Iain always says not to be too hard on myself and just give in when I have to, and I’ll have time enough soon to accomplish all I want.  But I find it hard to make compromises.  I have a vision of the life I want to be living, and I want it to be doing it all now.

Patience is something I need to learn.  Patience means serenity, slowing down, enjoying the moment, taking your time to get things right and accepting you can't change your life or achieve your goals overnight. Patience means taking the time to properly read the instructions on your box of wax strips before you apply them to your armpit :o)

I am getting better at it (most of the time). 

Tuesday, 14 June 2011


Blogging from work again - naughty.  Only 11 weeks to go now till my redundancy.  56 days.  Not that I'm counting or anything :o)

Since last Thursday I've been experimenting with washing my hair in a new way - with baking soda instead of shampoo.  I read about it on Wednesday night and lots of people were recommending it.  Apparantly it makes your hair more manageable and softer and generally leaves it in much better condition than shampoo and conditioner.  My hair is very fine and the roots get oily quickly so I was attracted by the testimonials of those whose fine hair now had much more body and was no longer limp and lifeless.  Most people find it takes their hair a couple of weeks to settle down after starting this regime and it will be oily to start with.

After 6 days my hair is definately thicker, but I'm struggling to cope with the oiliness and I've resorted to tying it up in a pony tail every day because it won't style well.  However, it is a lovely thick ponytail!  The thickness is what I've loved about this, as well as the way the comb just glides through after washing, but to be honest I'm not sure if I'm going to carry on with it at the minute.  I'm just not happy going to work with greasy hair.  I would like to give it another go later though.

For anyone who would like to try it, this what I did. I mixed a heaped tablespoon of baking soda with 8fl oz warm water and used about a quarter of this to wash my hair, concentrating on the roots. I did find it difficult to disperse throughout my hair though - I think a spray bottle would be best.

There's also a recipe for conditioner so I think that'll be this weeks experiment. I find a lot of conditioners weigh my hair down, but I need something at least on the ends as my hair is long.  The recipe stated 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar in 8 fl oz water, spray onto hair and rinse off.  I suppose any vinegar would do, but I do have cider vinegar in the house as I use it as a remedy for my gallstones (a teaspoon mixed with apple juice).

I might make up my first batch tonight and I'll report back the results next week. If it works that'll be one more thing I can make myself and therefore one less thing to buy - I'm whittling them down bit by bit!

Saturday, 11 June 2011

No longer a wax virgin

Yesterday I had a trip to the fleamarket and while I was there I thought I'd price up razor blades (as you do when you're at the fleamarket!) They were even more expensive than I remembered, but when I called in the Pound Shop later I saw they were selling a good brand name of wax.  So for that price I thought I might as well give it a go.  You never know, it might be the answer to my disposable razors problem. Seems like a bit of a faff to me, but it's not like I'd have to do it very often.

So there I was this morning, in my bedroom, wax at the ready and inspecting hair growth to decide where to test it.  Legs?  Hmm, not a lot of hair there actually.  Armpits then?  Pretty much the same.  It dawned on me that maybe I was being a bit obsessive about hair removal.  I thought you were supposed to get hairier as you get older?  The opposite seems to be happening in my case.

Anyway, I'd bought some wax so I had to try it - that's just the way my mind works.  I settled on my armpits as being the best bet (stupid, stupid!).  Warm the wax strip between your hands it said.  Ok, easy enough.  Now take the backing strip off and stick it on your skin.  Again, simple.  Next step, pull the wax strip off quickly whilst holding your skin taut.  If you don't hold your skin taut you may leave some wax residue or tear some of your skin off.  What?! Why didn't I read that first?!!  How am I supposed to hold my armpit skin taut when that hand won't reach and the other hand will be busy ripping the wax off?!  I decide all I can do is stretch my arm up as high as I can and that will pull the skin taut enough.  Wrong!  I ripped the wax strip off and most of the wax was left behind on my armpit.

My first thought was to try and wash it off, so I ran downstairs (still holding my arm out above my head as I'd discovered if I tried to put it down my armpit was glueing itself stuck!).  What a fantastic way to start the day, standing naked in the kitchen, arm above your head, waiting for the kettle to boil so you can have some warm water to wash a wax residue from your armpit!  And why did I think the wax would suddenly dissolve in warm water?  It didn't of course.  So, back upstairs to try something else, towel stuck under my armpit so I could put my arm down, as by now it was going numb.  A quick inspection in front of the mirror revealed that the hair under my armpits was now joined by bits of terry towelling stuck to my skin by the wax.

I had one other idea and desperately hoped it would work - I would use more of the backing strips and keep trying to rip the wax off.  It took several goes, but I finally managed to get most of it off.  However it was still a bit sticky so I thought, moisturisation might help.  Well, here's a tip for you - never apply baby lotion to your newly waxed armpit!  Ouch, that stung!

The only thing I was thankful for was that I had tested the wax on my armpit instead of going straight for my bikini line, which was what I was really wanted to use it on!  My armpit is still smarting tonight. Wax? You can keep it.  I'd rather be hairy!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Keeping the toiletries budget down

When I got my shopping last week I decide to explore the 'basics' range a little further.  I already buy the fishfingers and teabags (I didn't expect to like them but now don't buy any other brands) as well as stuff like baked beans, tinned spaghetti, tinned tomatoes, pasta and other basics, but apart from soap and toothpaste, I'd not really tried much in the way of toiletries.  As this is one of the areas I'm looking at to reduce spending, I thought I'd give a few things a try.

This is what I bought

Baby Lotion
Bubble Bath
Nappy bags

The nappy bags aren't exactly in the 'toiletries' category for me as I wanted to use them as dog poo bags!  I have started following the advice of Ilona at   http://meanqueen-lifeaftermoney.blogspot.com/    and use all the plastic bags I already have e.g. bread bags, cereal liners etc, but still I need to supplement these.  My dog can poo for England - I've never known a dog poo so much!  Anyway, these bags are thin (as expected) but no thinner than the packs dedicated to 'poo picking up' that I buy from the Pound Shop and at 9p for 100 I'll definately be buying them again.  You'll be pleased to hear that I'm not going to demonstrate their use with a photo!

The bubble bath I bought for use as hand wash.  For as long time now I've been refilling a pump bottle with economy shower gel and using that as handwash, but this is even cheaper at 18p for a litre bottle.  I can't comment yet as I haven't had a chance to try it.  I'm sure it won't be as moisturising as proper handwash, but hopefully it will be good enough.

I've tried the shampoo and it's adequate for my oily hair - I use some basics conditioner on the dry ends anyway - but if you had dry hair you'd need something more moisturising I think.  You need to use a little more, but it's still excellant value at  22p for a litre bottle.                   . 

The baby lotion was fantastic!  I can't believe the price  - 11p for 500ml.  This is now my body lotion and it's great for taking my makeup off as well.  Stings if you get it in your eyes though so not so good for removal of eye makeup.  I'm wondering how long it's been at this cheap price?  I might stockpile a few bottles just in case.  It also left my hands feeling soft, but I still prefer my aqueous cream as a hand lotion.

Finally, the razors.  I have to admit, these don't sit well with me.  There's no denying they're a cheap form of hair removal, but I can't think it's right to manufacture a product and throw it away after a few uses.  I'm going to have to do a rethink and find another method.  The blades for re-useable razors are so exspensive but maybe I can find a cheaper supply on the market and find out how to make them last longer.  Creams and wax are too much of a faff and I don't want an electric razor.  Yes, I know leaving the hair would be the cheapest option but I'm not ready for that yet!

So, a couple of good new buys and a couple of 'maybe's' to keep the budget down.  I'm currently looing at my toiletries and cleaning budgets to see if I can reduce them, so I'll be posting more on that later.

A couple of books

For a while now I've meant to recommend this book:

'The Only Way is Up' by Carole Mathews.

It's a novel, telling how a wealthy family, husband working in the City, lost everything they owned when the husband was fired.  They were rehoused in a council house in a poor neighbourhood where they had to start from scrach to rebuild their lives.  Carole Mathews is so funny she had me laughing out loud in parts - the episode of the Brazillian wax on the kitchen table was hilarious.  Through ups and downs the family learn that there are more important things in life than money and how family and friends mean more than wealth and possessions.  When I'd finished it I wanted to start all over again.  I'll definately be looking out for more of her books.

I've also been reading this:

I'm probably the last person in the world to have read it - it seems like everyone else I know has already been there!

It took me a while to get into, but it came with so many recommendations from friends that I persevered and I have to say I eventually loved it.  I have to wait to borrow the other two books in the series though as they're out on loan.  One of the hazards of being a cheapskate and borrowing books from the library rather than buying them!

I have a couple of craft books out on loan too, and I'm afraid I've been a bit naughty and photocopied a couple of projects out of them on the copier at work.  I know you're allowed to copy a certain percentage of a book or magazine but I'm not sure how much.  As it was only a few pages I wanted to keep, it wasn't worth buying the books, but I have done that previously if a library book was so good it warrented buying as a reference book.  It's a good way to try before you buy.

I only hope we can keep our public libraries open, with all the cutbacks at the minute.  I don't think our local one is used all that much, which is a shame.  Losing yourself in a good book is a much better way to spend some time than watching endless hours of rubbishy telly I think.  And all for free!

Monday, 6 June 2011

Patchwork obsession?

Posting from work today, so it'll just be a quick one.

First of all, hello to anyone who has just joined me.  I'm having problems with Blogger - it won't let me access my list of followers, so I don't know who you are!  Neither can I access the button to follow anyone else's blog.  No doubt it will right itself eventually and then I can get round to everyone.

I'm still feeling rough with this cold, which isn't normal, so I've booked a visit to the docs for Wednesday.  In the meantime I'm just trying to get plenty of sleep because I feel worn out.  I've never had a cold last this long before.

My eldest son called this morning and gave me a lift into work, so I took the opportunity to ask him for any old shirts he had.  His reply was,  "I haven't any I'm getting rid of.  I tend to wear them till they fall apart these days!"  Times are obviously hard!  I remember when he thought nothing of spending £70 on a shirt and he had to have new clothes every week.  Seems like he's wised up as he's gotten older.  He said he could spare one for me though when I told him about the quilt.

I must have patchwork fabric on the brain at the minute - I keep looking at people in the street and thinking "Ooh, that shirt/dress/whatever would look lovely in my quilt".  I even did it to a work colleague this afternoon!

The crochet granny squares are coming along well.  I might be ready to try doing multi-coloured ones now.  It's the thought of all those yarn ends to sew in that puts me off!

I still have another hour at work, then it's off home and a quick visit to the library before settling down for the evening.  Still not sorted the laptop - I'll be taking it back to the shop tomorrow.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Laptop problems

I'm having big problems with my laptop today.  It started to do wierd things this afternoon and then the keypad stopped working.  I've spent ages fiddling about with it but it's still not working.  I've only had it a couple of months so it looks like it might have to go back.  I just hope it's not a virus. This evening I'm on my old laptop, which is so slow it's taken me 30 minutes to get it up and running and onto my blog!  No photos today because it'll take me all night to set that up.

I've been thinking some more about the patchwork quilt.  It's important to me that it's made from re-purposed fabric and that I don't buy new if possible.  I also wanted to have something of my mum in there, so intended to ask her for a discarded item of clothing.  But then I thought, wouldn't it be lovely to have fabric in there from all my family and friends.  That would make it even more special.  A quilt of memories I suppose. I've also had a kind offer of fabric from a fellow blogger, coincidentally also called Denise.  And the feed sacks?  I may treat myself and buy one, or a piece of one.  It's cheap enough for a small piece, and would give me a lot of pleasure.

I think I'll try the method where you cut out paper shapes and tack your fabric round them as that sounds like it'll be easier to achieve accuracy.  Boring job,cutting out the paper shapes I suppose, but I could always do them when I'm covering reception at work  and it's quiet :-)  That'll be every evening then!

On a totally different note,  Dr Who has really rocked my world tonight.  Fantastic episode, and the suprise ending - never saw that coming!  Looking forward to the rest of the series in the autumn.  I don't watch much telly, but but I love my sci-fi. 

Friday, 3 June 2011

Quilting and feedsacks

Help!  I'm having to tear myself away from looking at American vintage feedsack fabric for sale on the internet!  The prints are so wonderful, so evocative of the 1930's and 40's.  I want some!

Why the feedsack obsession?  Well, I'm planning to make a patchwork quilt.  I thought a simple pattern, probably just a combination of squares, and it would be really relaxing to handstitch them together whilst I'm listening to the radio.  I'm keen on making the quilt from re-purposed fabric rather than buying new, but don't have any old clothes that are suitable.  I tried the charity shops yesterday but there was nothing at a price I wanted to pay.  Never mind, I'll keep looking because it'll take a while to accumulate enough fabric when I'm only considering second hand.

Then I came across some American photos and patterns for vintage quilts, some of which were made from feedsacks.  I'd never heard of these before, but apparantly all dried goods came in these fabric sacks which eventually became made from highly patterned material.  During the depression and afterwards, these were collected by poor families as 'free fabric' from which to make clothing and quilts.  I'm loving the small sprigged flower patterns I've seen and would dearly love to make my quilt from them.  They just take me back to simpler - albeit, harder - times.

But, back to reality, I cannot afford to make my quilt from feedsacks so I will just have to want.  Ironic though, that fabric that was once used by poorer people because it was free is now too expensive for me to buy!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

On my mind - my garden

This post is part of the  Friday photo feature by  Rhonda Jean at http://down---to---earth.blogspot.com/.  The idea is to post a photo, every Friday, which illustrates something that you are thinking about today.
Today I am thinking about my garden.

It'll be time to prune this clematis soon and I don't want to miss the opportunity again, this year.  I feel quite overwhelmed by the garden at the minute, but I have big plans for the future.  After August I'll have much more time to spend in here and I'm going to completely overhaul it.  I have plans for a soft fruit garden as well as raised beds for vegetables and extending the' herb garden'.  I need to make as much use of the space as possible, so I'll be growing tomatoes in baskets on the fences and I'm researching what will grow in the semi-shaded spot at the side of the house.  The weeds grow pretty well here, so I'm sure there must be some vegetables that will!

I've grown a few vegetables in previous years but I want to expand this so I'm growing a sizeable amount of what I eat.  I fell quite excited at the prospect of finally getting it all under control and productive.  If only I could have chickens as well!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

At the cinema

I have a new hero - Thor! 

I went to see the film last night. I only went because I promised Iain I'd go with him (he's a Marvel addict).  We sat at the back of the cinema, me with a tube of Lockets in my hand, trying to time my nose blowing with noisy parts of the film and wishing it was over so I could go home to bed. The adverts went on forever.  But a few minutes into the film and I was hooked.  I need more!

On the way home Iain said,  "Now you know why Thor was my favourite Marvel character when I was growing up".  To which I replied, "Yeah, cos he's really sexy!".  I don't think that was the right answer....