Monthly Archives: March 2014

Frugally Mummy: The Cost of a Child

joy jarWhen Daisy hit a year old, I started to get questioned a lot about whether or not I was planning to have more children.  A natural assumption I guess, that I would, at some point, want to think about extending the family.  It’s often something I talk about with the Mum Mafia – and with recent events at Peachy HQ, I can’t help but think about the financial investment any child you bring into the world becomes.

Recently, I was sent an interesting report from LVE Insurance, who had put together a detailed analysis of how much a child is likely to cost – from birth, right through to University.  The results are staggering – an average cost of a child until the age of 21 is almost £228,000!  And what’s even more scary?  It seems to be growing every year!  the report is available here for you to feast your eyes on – costs have been averaged, explained and even mapped across different parts of the country.  In my Midlands dwellngs, it appears Miss D may well cost me £223,388 over the next 20 years which, if you consider the costs of University fees, school uniforms, trips and childcare, spread over the years, seems a fair amount – averaging £30 per day.  So imagine if that number was doubled or tripled with more than one child?  Do we all bank on just one of our children wanting to go to Uni?  How do we even begin to save for a secure future for our children, a future that offers the very best of choices for them?  Luckily for me, I’m not really a fan of averages – and I pride myself on not falling between the lines of average in pretty much any walk of life!  Rather than worry Miss D’s childhood away whittling about uncapped tuition fees, I prefer to be proactive with what little we have, in order to save for our future.

Babies are expensive, so they say – just a glance at the report details areas of expense such as furniture and hobbies, that I believe can provide real areas of financial growth – with a bit of creative thinking (what else would I be suggesting?!) and bargain hunting!  I can’t really comment on the school years or readying funds whilst your eldest is busy filling out their UCAS applications; but I can tell you that you CAN save during that first, tempestuous year of becoming a parent…here are my top tips to get saving for your child’s future during their first year.

1. Save a Little, Whenever You Can

You know that age-old saying, ‘Look After The Pennies And The Pounds Look After Themselves?’  I’ve come to learn there is a whole lot of truth to this and never more prevalent than when you’re adjusting to a new financial setting, with a new baby.

At the end of last month, I introduced a ‘Joy Jar’ into my home; a little jar of shrapnel, loose change and little bits I’d saved from our weekly budget, to act as a physical reminder of what we CAN save when we put our minds to it!   Well, month one brought us a fabulous £16 – saved without even thinking about it and ready to be put towards something special at the end of the year.  If you can’t put huge chunks of money aside each month, something like a Joy Jar serves as a great way to start saving just a little, whenever you can – no added pressure from direct debits and a great way to save for the future.

Daisy window2. Give Yourself A Regular Financial Overhaul

The most boring, but essential tip of all!  Nobody likes sitting down with spreadsheets and calculators – well nobody I know anyway, but in order to start saving in a year in which you have to adapt so readily to a new way of life, you need to know where every precious penny is going and how you can be continually making your money work for you.  I’m no Martin Lewis, but I like to sit down at least once a month and work out what I’m spending, where I’m spending it and how I can spend less – easily done for someone who is doing a year without the High Streets – but even food shopping can be made a little cheaper if you take the convenience out of it.

Equally, if you have a little debt to pay off, make sure you are taking the time, each month, to work out how much you have already paid off and what’s left to go – this can be so motivational to see how much of a dent you might have made already and can even encourage a bit of extra ‘thrift’ in your purse habits to get things paid off a little quicker!

I’m not suggesting you make best friends with your Excel program (unless you want to), but regular financial checks will help to keep you on top of your money management and will work better for you long-term.

3. New Parent?  Check Out What’s On Offer For You

As much as I detest the amount of junk mail that comes sailing through my letterbox on a weekly basis, as a new parent who (probably) sleepily signed up to Bounty and all sorts, whilst doing their rounds on the Maternity Wards, sometimes it doesn’t hurt to sift through and take advantage of some of the great deals that are on offer to you.

I’m not talking sale shopping here (I’m living without the High Street – it would be wrong of me to endorse that), but it’s worth tapping into the great Parenting events that are on offer at Supermarkets, which often offer fantastic deals on every day essentials – not to mention local events such as Tabletop and Jumble sales, which may really help stock up on clothing and toys, for a fraction of the full cost.

4. Thrifting and Sharing = Caring (For Your Bank Balance)

If you’re a regular reader of Frugally Peachy, you’ll know that I’m all about leading a creative and thrifty lifestyle – no High Street shopping, a unique approach to the word ‘savvy’ and I try to post as much handmade and homemade inspiration for your family, your home, your meal times and your own lifestyle as I can muster.  Being of the creative ilk has its benefits, but even if you’re not cut from that cloth, there are plenty of places you can look to save money when buying for your home and for your baby.

Whilst ‘kiddy consumerism’ denotes and displays the latest ‘must-have items’, simply checking your nearest computer for Gumtree and eBay can knock off huge amounts of money for life-saving instruments, such as the classic Jumperoo.  I’ve been very lucky to be given some fantastic traditional toys for Miss D that need little more than a quick wash and brush up with soapy water, before they are returned to their former glory.  Ultimately, D also doesn’t care where they come from, or how many children have loved and used them before – she sleeps with a stuffed cow that is visible in early photos of my birth, after all!  Aside from the over-loved, bare-furred cuddly toys of old, most ‘must-have’ toys are something of a short term novelty for any child during their first year – is it really worth piling hundreds into something that’s likely to be kicked around (by you – probably) for two months before it heads off to the great toy cemetery to rest in nearly-new, wasteful peace?

5. Curb Your Coffee Enthusiasm

Getting coffee has become something of a second nature in modern society and, truth be told, there is nothing better than sipping a piping hot, creamy Chai Latte on a Sunday stroll.  But, if you are looking to save money – this is one of the simplest ways to start.  Say no to the endless coffee dates – tempting as they may be and invest in a decent Thermos!

Back in my previous life in London, I confess to indulging in at least three Skinny White Mochas per week – that worked out to be a WHOPPING £33 a month I was shelling out for the comfort of a milky drink on a cold (or warm) day.  I decided to test the psychology of ‘getting coffee’, by purchasing a thermos flask and bringing my own drink to work.  Such a simple trick not only worked in the short term, but has served to save me almost £400 over a year – when you add up the annual cost, is it a habit really worth keeping?

6. Invest In a Little Second-Hand Karma

Just before D’s Birthday – I had a big sort out of old clothes that I had accumulated over the past year.  A whole 3 small cases later, I am about to invest in some second-hand karma with blog sales, eBay loving and a bit of charity thrown in too.

Aside from a few unfortunate items of clothing, children rarely over-use their clothes in the first year of life.  For 6 months they are almost immobile and for the other 6, you are trying to fathom how and where you managed to grow a wardrobe the size of the Theatre Royal’s costume department for your tiny child.  As a great believer in second-hand karma; what you put into the second-hand world, you will get back, threefold, I am constantly checking our local charity shops for bargains and projects for me, D and our home – why not sift through the teeny tiny baby clothes you’ve been clinging on to and get funding your little one’s next size wardrobe?  Better still, sift out your old maternity wear and make way for some fab eBay purchases for yourself!

wardrobe 3

So there we have it, not rocket science and clearly not avoiding some of the unavoidable costs of raising a young child.  But hopefully these tips are a great way to start managing your money differently and thinking about how you will fund the next twenty years – providing a little chink in that £228,000 you’ll be needing handy in future!

Stay Peachy x

 

Frugally Mummy: Knitted Hanging Heart Tutorial & GIVEAWAY!

 

Hanging heart 3Mother’s Day has always been a wonderful excuse to do something special for my Mum.  We have never been a family who are all about the big spending and days like this are nice to mark with little gestures, to show my Mum how special she is!

This year is also my first Mother’s days as a Mum (D arrived 2 weeks late and Mother’s Day fell right bang inbetween her due date and birth date) – so it’s a very poignant one and I’m kinda sad I won’t be able to spend it with my own Mum!  So I thought I’d get to work knitting up something special to send her.  Check out this wonderful knitted hanging heart, a simple design made from basic stocking stitch and decorated with one of the many many daisy buttons I have lying around the house!  I popped mine in the post with a little box of cheeky chocolates for my Mum…but if you’ve yet to get a present or want to try something homemade for your Mum, why not give my tutorial a go?  You will need about 2-2/12 hours to complete and you can use ANY YARN AND ANY DECORATION!

However, if you’re sorted for presents, keep on scrolling, because I’ve decided to do another HANDMADE GIVEAWAY for you all – see below for details on how to win your own heart!

You Will Need:

1 Ball of DK yarn (I used some Supersoft DK in Cream that I had lying around)

4mm Knitting Needles

Toy Stuffing

1 piece red felt (you will need a small circle)

1 decorative button

Method:

Using 4mm needles, cast on 2 stitches

First Row: K one, P one

Row 2: Increase into each stitch (4 sts)

Row 3: Purl to end

Row 4: Increase first stitch, k to last stitch, increase last stitch (6 sts)

Row 5: Purl to end

Repeat rows 4 and 5 until you have 18 sts

Next Row: k 9 stitches, turn and purl to end.

Next Row: k2together, knit to last 2 stitches and k2together.

Next Row: Purl

Repeat these two rows until you have three stitches remaining.  Without following a purl row, cast off the three stitches.

Rejoin your yarn and repeat the second section on the other side to create your heart shape.

Once completed, repeat this process to make your second side.

Hanging heart 2To Join Together

Place the right sides of your heart together, on top of each other and stitch around.  When you reach the ‘v’ shape of your heart, Take a long piece of matching yarn and stitch into place in a loop – this will be the loop from which your heart hangs!

Be sure to leave a big enough hole and pull the heart shape through to face the ‘right way’.  Then stuff the heart shape with toy stuffing.  Stitch up hole.

Using a small circular template – such as a coin, cut out a small red piece of felt and place your decorative button on the top.  Using a small needle and thread, secure onto the heart through the button holes and stitch into place.

Package up as a lovely Mother’s Day gift!

Do you want to win your very own heart??  Well it couldn’t be more simple!  To be in with a chance of winning, simply follow these steps to have your name entered into the hat.  Each step counts as ONE ENTRY – so you have THREE opportunities to win!  I have decided to make up another 2 HEARTS to giveaway to 2 LUCKY readers!

1. Share this post on Twitter, be sure to tag me (@LivePeachy) and use the hashtag #peachyhangingheart.

2. Nip over to my Facebook page and give it a ‘Like’ – make sure you leave a comment on the picture of the heart, to make sure you are entered.

3. Comment at the bottom of this blog post to be entered!

The giveaway will run until Sunday 6th April and I shall announce the winners on Wednesday 9th April!  Well what are you waiting for?? There’s a heart waiting to hang in your house, courtesy of Frugally Peachy!!

Good Luck!  Love to the Mothers and BIG LOVE to mine! x

hanging heart 1

 

 

Yarning Up A Storm…The Woolly Bike Trail

Yarn-storming has swiftly become a cultural phenomenon and a sign of the crafty times recently.  Having been treated to some fabulous colourful creations in my local town, I was really excited to hear about The Woolly Bike Trail – a free, interactive workshop experience with Cassandra Kilbride, a prolific yarn-stormer whose colourful creations offer a different and unique view of our towns, cities and architectural sites.

As part of the Yorkshire Festival which begins today and runs arts and cultural events for 100 days, leading up to the Grand Depart of the Tour de France,  Cassandra is offering the chance to join her and take part in 20 workshops to knit, crochet, sew or weave a little bit of your own bike for the ‘Woolly Bike Trail’ – all taking inspiration from Yorkshire’s rich history and culture.  Whether you have a love for the food of Yorkshire, its history of armour and Celtic design, Industrial heritage or even its famous icons, you are sure to find a workshop to inspire you.  I’m personally hoping to make it to the Literary Inspired workshop – The Brontes, The Secret Garden and, of course, Dracula, will all serve as fantastic yarn-storming inspiration at the Bronte Parsonage Museum, Haworth at the end of this week.

The bikes, once finished, will be displayed together at an exhibition at Sheffield Cathedral in July, before returning to their home towns.

Whilst a basic understanding of knitting and crochet is required to take part, all patterns and wool are provided and each workshop promises a lot of fun, the chance to be part of something creative and exciting.  The workshops are a great way to celebrate Yorkshire and to mark your place in cultural history, alongside the Tour De France – now in its 111th year –  whose Grand Depart is hosted by Yorkshire this year.

But best of all, the workshops are FREE!  A frugally fabulous morning or afternoon brushing up some crafty skills and immersing yourself in a little bit of Yorkshire’s bright and colourful culture – just take a look at this marvellous creation to get your needles clicking!  For more info visit The Woolly Bike Trail site and why not head over to see what else the Yorkshire Festival 2014 is offering HERE?

Woolly Bike TrailStay Crafty x

 

 

Lately: Lows, Highs and DIYs

dreyfus cafeLast week was a bit of an impromptu blog break for me – apologies for taking a bit of time out but, as you will see, it was really quite needed!

We had a bit of a whirlwind week, with the aftermath of Daisy’s Birthday, a trip to White Post Farm and my lovely Mum staying with us all week!  Top that off with a much excitable young Miss Peachy spending her FIRST WEEKEND away from the babe and taking a trip down memory lane to London – what more could you ask for???

daisy cakegoatWell…more on the trip itself to come, I’m sure.  With the sudden change in weather patterns and all, I was really feeling the need for a change up in the wardrobe department – not at all easy when you’re on a year long spending ban and still in-between sizes!  So, armed with a little bit of Christmas money I had saved, I took myself off to eBay and the incredible charity shops in Hockley, and I got a few bits of vintage and second-hand loveliness to tide me over and bring a little more ‘me’ back into my life!  In typical secret-goth fashion, I’m bypassing the pastel trends of Spring and embracing my love of leather skirts with this gorgeous vintage leather skirt from eBay – just £10, fits like a glove and goes with just about everything!

leather skirt comboI couldn’t resist a breton stripe top too to go with it – I’m a sucker for a Chanel-inspired stripe and my wardrobe has been seriously lacking in my usual stripy staple for a while, so I pulled a great £3 bargain from eBay!  Having always been a fan of dresses, I decided to really start embracing the idea of separates and picked up this amazing red polkadot shirt from Sue Ryder for just £5.  That’s right, a whole new wardrobe injection for less than £30 and all perfect for all weathers!  That’s my kind of Frugal Fashion!

Not only that, I got one step closer to a little bit of DIY wardrobing with this rather fab velvet skirt.velvet skirt  Simply cut from an old tunic that is both too short and too low cut, I thought something black and velvet would suit everything in my wardrobe – specifically my ‘new’ shirts.  After cutting the desired length of the skirt, I tacked in a thick piece of elastic to hold the skirt in place.  Et Voila!  A whole new use for something old AND another addition to my unique wardrobe.  I have a burgundy tunic I’m considering chopping up – perhaps a future tutorial to follow – once my sewing looks a little more professional!

So, as you can see, there have been plenty of highs and a little bit of DIY….but with the irony that was National Happiness Day, came a little bit of sadness in the Jeffberry household.  As of Thursday Mr J and I decided to separate.  I’m not one to go into the gory details but, after taking some time to work on things, we have simply decided that we don’t work anymore and, for the sake of our family, feel we would be better off as single parents.  So, whilst I’ve been basking in my new charity shop finds and jogging some wonderful memories in London, it has also been a very painful time coming to terms with one big ending and just how I aim to forward from now on.  So do forgive me if the posts drop a little, I’m still out there NOT High Street shopping and have even more reason to support the Frugally Fabulous way of life now – but I have a lot to put in place and a little bit of time out never hurt anyone!  It’s all still business as usual – but my focus is Little D and starting to plan a new future for us, so bear with me whilst I deal with all the tough stuff.

I would, however, like to thank everyone for their support and messages of comfort and to all the lovely people who tweeted me the things that make them happiest last Thursday – like I said, you have no idea how much that meant on that day!  I’ve got through the first few days…it’s onwards and upwards from here!

fearless and free

 

Stay Peachy x

Book Review: ‘Harvest’ by Jim Crace

HarvestAs an aspiring author and addicted reader, I always JUMP at the chance to read new books.  Reading, in my opinion, is not only a great frugal past time – I have shelves upon shelves of charity shop wonders – I love the knowledge and imagination that comes with reading a wide variety of books – so naturally I jumped at the chance to review ‘Harvest’ by Jim Crace, for the Mumsnet Bloggers Network.

Set in an unfamiliar time, Harvest is told over a 7 day period and charts the unravelling of a small English Hamlet through the eyes of protagonist Walter Thirsk.  Cue intrigue, accusations of witchcraft and a hunt to find the perpetrators of a devastating fire.

Having been unfamiliar with Crace’s work prior to reading ‘Harvest’, I was instantly drawn in by his poetic writing and attention to detail.  Each step of Walter’s journey is told in vivid colours and imagination, no stone is left unturned as we learn about the characters, relationships, heresay and deeds that make up what becomes a rich tapestry of story and a great slice of writing.  The story, though only stretching out over a short period of time, moves sporadically through visions and dreams, whilst flitting between past and present tense.  For me, as someone who toys about with writing in the present tense all the time, Harvest was a perfect example of this executed perfectly.  As the reader, you are thrown straight into the action alongside Walter in the most crucial plot points.  Equally, his bumbling narration is something of a relief when dealing with the atrocities and horrors suffered in the village.

At the time of writing this, I hadn’t quite finished reading ‘Harvest’.  Having been drawn in by the ‘whodunit’ plotline, eager to know more about the timeless village in which the story was set and learn more about the ghostly character of Mistress Beldame, the strange woman presumably at the centre of the strange goings-ons.  The sense of the overbearing paranormal puts an interesting spin on this otherwise historical novel, focusing on a community of people with no modern understanding of life, powerless to the mercy of nature.

Whilst I think the prose is unique, beautiful and intriguing, ‘Harvest’ certainly doesn’t read like a linear plot and the reader is often left gasping at the end of each chapter.  I expect many twists and turns before Walter’s fate and the fate of those around him is finally revealed.  It is, perhaps, not something I would normally pick up but I have been so pleasantly surprised with the unique way in which Crace handles his characters and I would recommend ‘Harvest’ to any fan of reading pure and beautiful prose.

 

Frugally Beautiful: A Letter to my Daughter

frugally beauty 1 Dear Miss Daisy,

This month you have turned a whole One Year Old!  How time flies!  You’ve grown so much, from a tiny little smidge of a person to a lovely, funny and inquisitive little girl.  You love toy rabbits, you love organising things, you’re becoming quite a bookworm and I’m so glad, you seem to be becoming quite the little Elvis fan!

Recently, you’ve taken to watching my morning make-up ritual; something I used to love doing when you slept a little longer in the mornings.  You’re still so little, but I often wonder what you think – why the eye flicks?  Why the eyebrows?  There are people who think I over-do it, now I’m a Mum.  But this little ritual goes way way back before you were even a twinkle in my eye and, whilst we are bombarded with images of ‘beauty’ every day in our media (Christ only knows how it will be when you grow up), my image partially serves to teach you a strong message.  Image IS important, but not in the way you might think.

I believe that you should look at yourself in the mirror, every day, and see a representation of the person YOU want to be.  If that’s made-up, dressed down, fashion-addict, goth, sports-luxe, following the trend, bucking the trend – whatever it is, OWN it.  Far too often, in life, we look for justification in the opinions of others; ‘likes’ on social media, attention in an unknown place, the promise of notice from a brave stranger. The world, as we know it now, is a million miles away from what it was when I was growing up.  Everywhere, the message seems to be about being beautiful – ‘DREAM this, BEST EVER that’ – striving to be better, on the outside.  Don’t believe the hype.  Stars and models are airbrushed and made-up to inconceivable levels; the lines between the real and fantasy world grow ever more blurred.  These dream products don’t make you happy, they don’t complete you in any way.  What these people should really be teaching is how to have a happy heart and a healthy soul.

frugally beauty 2I wonder if you’ll remember Mummy took a lot of pride in her appearance.  If I have my way, I’ll be an embarrassingly cool old woman who will still be rocking a full fringe and a wing-ed eye well into my nineties.  It’s taken me a decade to get there but I’m happy with who I am.  I’ve learnt that the outer shell is just another layer guarding my little onion soul, and it’s your soul that needs to be nurtured the most.  The people in your life; friends, family, future relationships, who will want to peel away at those layers, will be the ones worth taking with you on your journey. 

The truth is, I don’t always like the little lumps and bumps, the dark circles, the telltale signs of long nights and early mornings.  But I do like how my body will always bear the scars of you.  I like how comfortable I am starting to feel in my own skin and how much I feel I can achieve in my new life, with you.  I’m not afraid to stand out, to dress-up like every day has a special occasion waiting for me.  Your image IS important because it should only ever say this; ‘I Answer to Nobody, I am Strong in Who I Am, What I Do and Where I Am Going.  I Will Never Be Anyone Else and I’m OK With That.’ 

DREAM BIG, seek out your deepest desires and go forth in the world to get them.  Let your outer shell bear the scars of all that you fight and conquer and never be ashamed to walk your own path.  Listen without judgement, laugh whenever you can and love without consequence.  Live the BEST-EVER life for you, not for anyone else and, most of all, learn to never compare yourself to a bunch of warped pixels that are just trying to sell you something.  

And if you can live your life, with or without make-up, without justification or agenda, with a happy and fulfilled soul, then you will have learnt one of the greatest and toughest lessons of all.

Lots of Love x

frugally beauty 3

Happy 1st Birthday Daisy May!

Wow….365 whole days on this planet!  I can hardly believe my little babe turns 1 TODAY!  And what a very special year it’s been – watching this little one grow!

I’m not hanging around the blogosphere today – there is tea and cake to be had and a couple of rather special presents to open!  Tomorrow, we are taking a wonderful family trip to White Post Farm to celebrate with both the Grandparents!  It’s business as usual next week – but I can’t miss this one for the world!

My Handmade Present

My Handmade Present

But I wanted to wish my very special little girl the happiest of 1st Birthdays!  Thank you for crashing into our lives and for making me very proud!

Love you very much

Mummy xx

Daisy Birthday Collage

How Does Your Garden Grow?

rosemarySpring, it seems, has sprung!  Compared to the bitter cold of last March, when I was drifting about the home in a heavily pregnant daze, checking off calendar days and admiring the snow outside.  Even as a firm lover of all things morbid, dark and rainy, I’m enjoying waking up to the rays of sunlight and taking warm afternoon strolls in the park!

When we moved into our house – which has now been our humble abode for 18 whole months – we had great designs on the incredibly small back garden space bestowed upon us.  In some ways, I love it, having no grass means very little maintenance and the area is also nice and shady.  On the other hand, whilst we were able to grow an unsightly amount of tomatoes last year in our makeshift allotment, I couldn’t help but look out of my lounge window and fancy seeing something a little more pretty!  Winter came and went, I wrote about ideas for a small garden space on the old blog and we decided 2014 was going to be the year of the Innovative Garden Space!  I’m seeing a little rusty table and chairs and sunflowers, I really want sunflowers!

I can’t take full credit for our ideas, Mr J constantly has his head stuck in this little book I bought him for Christmas, but I thought I’d start off our little How Does Your Garden Grow mini series by showing you our little window herb garden!  Ain’t it pretty?!  And so useful for picking straight from plant pot to saucepan!

herb rackBeing that our windowsill gets a lot of sunshine in good weather, we decided to make a mini herb garden to soak up the sun – herbs are very easy to grow, we are always using them in our cooking and many can grow all year round.  So we kickstarted with some Basil, Coriander, Parsley and Rosemary and what’s best of all? coriander Our little set up cost us absolutely nothing, apart from the seeds themselves and the compost!  The recycled materials have all been saved and salvaged and we have plenty more yoghurt pots and egg boxes to add when we start to grow more.

The two tiered rack we have used is an old shoe rack we were given a couple of years ago, sprayed white to fit in with the kitchen decor.  The mini greenhouse was a present from myself two Christmasses ago and we were given a Garden Basil Pot by my Mum as a gift.  All other containers are recycled, housing little seedlings whilst the eggbox *should* house our first batch of tomatoes for the season.  The Coriander is growing at a rate of knots at the moment – which means there is no excuse for a good old homemade curry – whilst the other herbs are catching up fast and the current lovely weather we are experiencing should help things along a little!  The only thing it needs now is some sort of mini bunting – but there you have it, a little piece of our homegrown home!

sideboardOur next job is to take a look at the outside space – we have moved this rather gorgeous sideboard outside and waterproofed it, ready for a quirky plant feature – what do you think?

Look out for more frugal garden spaces in the coming months!

Stay Peachy x

Garden general

De-Cluttering and Disposaphobia

flowers in springI don’t know if it’s the sudden infiltration of Spring filling the air, or the redundant musical instruments that oft clutter up our dining room; but last weekend I was compelled to treat Peachy Towers to a HUGE de-clutter and a shift around.  So, armed with charity bags, bin bags and one very sleepy child, Mr J and I set about moving furniture and sorting each and every room.

I guess it comes with being at home a lot, not to mention constantly picking up after a baby, but there are times I find our lovely little house a bit stifling, usually when we are head to toe in piles of paper, scattered magazines and living amongst a sea of the aforementioned instruments.  We have little space to work with, our home is pretty compact and once you consider the baby factor, the music, craft, writing, general fanatical geek factors; it’s no wonder we need to make the best of a small space!  Lucky for me, I find clearing out very therapeutic, but our second de-clutter of the year got me thinking a lot about a term Judith Levine had discussed in her book ‘Not Buying It’, are we a society suffering from Disposaphobia??  Is my year without shopping turning me into a Disposaphobic?

I best start by saying I had high hopes for my literary trip with Jude and her year out from shopping.  In truth, she was a million miles away from my Frugally Fabulous Year! Judith Levine She managed to shop.  Twice.  She often talked of self-help groups and associations that helped you to NOT spend, by TAKING your money and then telling you how NOT to spend it.  Plus, we were worlds apart as people; Jude is a successful writer in her fifties running two homes and three cars with her partner.  Me?  New mum on a huge career transition running a relatively new home with a penchant for fashion and vintage, stingy about getting buses, Queen of eBay.  Where I may struggle sticking to a weekly food budget of £50, Jude metaphorically wept on the pages as she discussed her dilemma at losing a particular brand of socks or reminisced about ‘that Winter she couldn’t replace her ski wear’.  Overall I didn’t buy it.  Because she bought it.

But she did talk a little about this theory of Disposaphobia and how, as a society, we are too afraid to throw anything out and I couldn’t help but think she was right, but is it wrong?  Looking around us this weekend, we both moved in with a load of ‘might do’s’, ‘could be useful’s and a whole help of baggage!  It is said that we place so much value on ‘things’ rather than experiences, it feels that by throwing these ‘things’ away, we are throwing a part of ourselves away.  It is almost as if we need physical reminders of where we have been and what we have done – from concert tickets and leaflets, receipts and long-dead crockery – we take everything we have with us, because we are too scared of leaving ‘us’ behind.  I’m guilty of it, ticket stubs that bring back memories of films I’ve loved and gigs long past – you only need to take a look at Instagram to see how important it is, for many, to capture each and every moment of our lives – whether that’s a beautiful woodland scene or a well-cooked omelette!  But why do we do that?  Is it because we have to have a constant reminder of what we have done, where we have been?  Disposaphobia talks of longing to hold on to the past and my oh my it’s a hard habit to break!  I like to make memories and I like to hold on to them, not because they define me but because they are a tiny fragment of my journey.  But I guess I want to learn to live in each moment too – I don’t HAVE to take a photo to remember a gig; I might want to close my eyes and let it all wash over me again, which is something even a photo can’t bring to life.  But, at the same time, having a good throwback session with the photo album can’t possibly be bad for the soul and, one day, I hope to share my experiences with Daisy in the same way that my Mum shared hers with me!  Does that mean I’m Disposaphobic?  Or just happy to hang on to the good bits for another time?

I have a firm belief that, as a creative, you always have a pile of ‘will do’s’ waiting for you – I’m a fabric hoarder, a yarn hoarder and a hoarder of memories.  I’m making my way through the material, de-fusing the yarn bomb, the memories not so much, I want them to stay!  Much like The Dice Man, I live in a permanent state of organised and unpredictable chaos; we have a lot of stuff, and very little places to store them.  I’m not defined by the clothes on my back or the DVDs on my rack, but I will make space for the stubs, the useless bits and the experiences they brought me.  A sure sign of disposaphobia?  I’m undecided!

Well, needless to say, our de-clutter was very therapeutic – check out our lovely dining room now, perfect for family dinners and hardly a musical instrument in sight!Dining room 2  I had one of those made cupboard cleaning episodes and the house is feeling bright and airy.  Peace has been somewhat restored to our chaotic abode – even the sun isn’t unwelcome; says she, a firm fan of the dark side!  Our next job is to make some sense and prettiness of our top room, which serves as a dressing room/craft space – a haven for the disposaphobic in all of us!

Stay Peachy x

Are you a hoarder?  Do you like a good de-clutter?  As always, I would love to know!

The Frugal Kitchen: Nanny’s Chocolate Pudding!

chocolate pudding finishedAs you know, when it comes to baking and cooking – I love nothing more than tinkering about in the kitchen, making everything from scratch, including PUDDINGS!!  Now I would say I have a pretty sweet tooth, but I’m also trying to fit back into that vintage leather skirt and I do try to keep my sugar intake down!  BUT – when the winds are howling, the rain is beating against the windows and you’re all snuggled in with a hearty dinner, there is nothing quite like a hearty pudding to round off your evening!!  Literally!

Recently, whilst trying to be frugal with our food budgeting, I’ve been looking for foodie inspiration from the past.  I’m not talking Henry VIII style digging into pies with your hands – but old, simple recipes that were thrown together during rationing, when both food and convenience were scarce.  So I thought I’d try my hand at recreating a little pudding from my youth – my Nanny’s chocolate pudding!

Let me tell you something about my Nanny.  She is an incredible lady, full of zest and fun in her (slightly) younger years, who often looked after me when Mum was at work.  On our family holidays, it was my Nan who would be queuing up to go on all the rollercoasters and, bless her, she even taped an interview with Marilyn Manson that she saw on the TV once, just because she knew I loved him!  Who WOULDN’T be inspired by this lady! I have great memories of having lots of lovely, traditional dinners at her house, but my favourite dish was, by far, her chocolate steamed pudding with chocolate custard!  Sadly, being a lady who cooked from memory, she never wrote the recipe down – so I hope I’ve done it a little bit of justice with my researching, trawling and playing about!  It’s a perfect Sunday dinner recipe, easy to pop together and leave to steam and excellently chocolatey!  As with most recipes I put together, there is always room for experimentation and adding extra ingredients to suit your taste buds!  I do hope you enjoy!

Ingredients (Serves 4-6 – depending on how greedy you’re feeling)!

For the Pudding

110g Soft Salted Butter

170g Plain Flour

110g Golden Caster Sugar

2-3 Tablespoons of Milk

2 Large Eggs,

1 Tablespoon Baking Powder

For the Custard

1-2 Tablespoons of Bird’s Custard Powder

1 Tablespoon Sugar

1-2 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder

1 Pint Milk

Method

In a mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter until light in colour and fluffy.  Then add the eggs, one by one and mix until combined and smooth.

In a separate bowl, sieve the flour and baking powder together.  Slowly, add the flour mixture to the cream mixture, mixing in a couple of spoons at a time until the mixture is combined.  Add the milk to stop the mixture drying out.

chocolate pudding mix

chocolate pudding whiskOnce the mixture is ready, pour into a grease and prepared pudding bowl, smooth the top and cover with greaseproof paper.  Seal with string around the top (I used some old yarn – Frugally Fabulous Me)!

chocolate pudding basinPlace the pudding bowl in a large crockpot or pan (with a lid) and fill with water until about 2/3 of the bowl is covered.  Place the crockpot lid on and allow to steam for approximately 1 1/14 hours (medium heat on the hob).  Be sure to check the water levels often and remove from the heat once the pudding has steamed.

For the custard – it’s easy enough to follow the instructions on the Bird’s tub, but you add your custard powder, sugar, cocoa powder and about 2 tablespoons from the 1 pint of milk, mix together until a paste forms.  Pour the remaining milk  into a saucepan and bring to the boil.

Once boiling, remove from heat and pour onto the custard paste. Mix together and return the whole mixture to the pan and bring to the boil again, over a gentle heat!

Serve the pudding warm, preferably near a roasting fire, switch the TV off or, at least, indulge in some appropriate viewing, such as Call the Midwife and Bob’s your Uncle…or Pauline’s your Nan!

nanny and meStay Peachy x