Category Archives: Every Day Is A School Day

Learning new crafts and things along the way!

Living In a Material World And I WAS A Material Girl….

Jelly KittenI’m writing this post just as the week from hell is about to close.  Hell as in my kind of hell, no deaths, destruction (of sorts) or even power cuts.  This was the week the shit decided to fly at the fan.  We’ve had lost toys, replacement toys lost, courier mix-ups, new dining tables not delivered, paying through the nose for further deliveries, rude tweeple and learning how NOT to promote ANYTHING you EVER do on TWITTER.  If I had the world’s biggest hood, I would happily wrap myself up in it and hibernate until at least September.

Whilst I’m not expecting a call from the Red Cross ‘Peachy Aid – Dining Table Crisis Fund’ anytime soon, it has certainly been one of the first weeks in a very long time, that I have moped.  And boy, have I moped long and hard.  What started with a lost bunny rabbit in town, became a fiasco in which I felt physically cheated out of £7.50 by an anonymous playgroup bully.

I don’t often write about Little D on this blog.  But I will say this – for all of the 15 months she has been alive on this planet, she has been a total joy.  She is a happy, lovely little girl who shrugs her shoulders like my Great Grandmother did and waves at invisible people in my kitchen.  She’s well behaved, funny and going on about 12 already.  So, when one of her beloved Jelly Cat Bunnies finally took a tumble into the lost world of town, I wanted to treat her to a replacement.  The replacement, to my surprise, was an even smaller Jelly Cat kitten that she appeared to fall in love with whilst I was faffing about with a magenta bunny in the shop.  At £7.50, he was a bargain compared to his Jelly Cat posh friends, so we bought him, took him home and for three glorious days, he didn’t leave D’s side.

Thursday morning came and went with the usual chaos of singing group and the laughably named ‘Carnage’ ‘Chill Out’ playgroup session, that I barely recognised the absence of ‘Little Kitten’, until we were halfway out the door and D was halfway to Nod Land.  A few firm promises from the (it should be said ‘very helpful’) volunteers from playgroup later, I returned home with a snoring child and a seething attitude.

It wasn’t until later that I actually started thinking about what value I had placed on this little ball of synthetic fluff.  More to the point, who was I really upset for?  I mean, sure, Jelly Kitten filled a fluffy void for a bit, he wasn’t cheap, but the little girl he belonged to didn’t seem to have a care in the world.  I was being materialistic.Jelly Kitten Book  Perhaps Jelly Kitten hadn’t indeed fallen into the hands of a playgroup terror, or been prised from D’s unsuspecting baby-grasp by a big bully three times her size.  Perhaps he was found abandoned on the floor, discarded for lunch or something new to play with, by a lovely little girl who thought she could offer him a new and loving home.  Either way, we are talking about D, a baby whose favourite toy to cuddle up with, is a battered, old cuddly cow who can be seen photobombing pictures of MY birth in 1984.  Buying a replacement stuffed kitten didn’t make her any happier, or even more aware of the sad passing of Little Bun.  She awoke later that day, completely unphased by the whole thing, ready to face an afternoon of pretending to read old Ladybird books, trying to grab at remote controls and other things she generally isn’t allowed near and singing along with those dreadful Pajanimals; ‘I could learn a lot from this child,’ I thought, as she collapsed in a heap of laughter, whilst trying to talk through a toilet roll.

And I think I’m right.  The more that time passes on this Frugally Fabulous Year, the more I am really learning about what I place my value on and just how it affects me.  Long gone are the days of replacement clothing and shopping sprees to fill the void.  I needed to learn that if I was willing to risk £7.50 in the first place then I had to be willing to let it go.  Peachy, thought I, you are failing at this bloody task, steering clear of the High Street is one thing, teaching your daughter all manner of pinning value on a teeny stuff animal just because he was NEW, is NOT!

So, there was no replacement toy mark II (though I’m still hopeful of finding Jelly Kitten amongst all the other old, stained playgroup toy boxes next week).  Instead, I took D out to the back garden and watched her gleefully water her shoes the plants and pull out all subsequent plant labels.  And you know what?  That memory will absolutely last a lifetime, no £7.50 cost incurred!

Jelly Kitten GardenStay Peachy x

#Project34 – Week 1- Cross Stitching, Across The Universe

cross stitch finish#Project34 Week 1: Cross Stitch Poetry

Time Taken: 3 x Daisy Naps

                     1 x Sex and the City Film (it was one of THOSE weeks)

               2 x True Blood Episodes – admittedly I was distracted at points!!!

       3 x Listens of the latest Pretty Reckless Album

If you have read one of my latest catch-up posts, you’ll be aware that I’m trying to take a little bit of time to get back into crafting for myself.  One of the best ways I thought I could introduce a little more craft and DIY back into Frugally Peachy was to create my own little #Project 34 – a project in which I create one thing per week (in the last 34 weeks of the year), for myself (or a gift).  I sometimes feel I babble on a lot about crafting and learning to make dresses, with very little evidence of doing so – the desire to do it is there, it really is sadly the time.  In between looking after D, I’m running the home, setting up The Gothic Librarian, Writing, running #CraftBlogClub, amongst other things – that can often leave little time for myself!

So, last week, I got a bit DIY creative around the house and made a start on reclaiming the space in my home.  My bedroom needed a bit of a facelift so I painted one red feature wall, put up some lovely red curtains from eBay (bargain) and treated myself to some much-needed new bedding.  The result?  A gothic-inspired haven of loveliness, my room feels comfy and reflects me!  It is still a little work in progress – I want to upcycle my chest of drawers – but my little home is starting to feel just like mine and I’ve got the DIY bug now!

I didn’t want to put too much on my bedroom walls, I have a little selection of postcards, but I decided I wanted a centrepiece for the wall behind my bed.  I’m all about positivity at the moment and I decided to set myself a little cross stitch project for my first week of #Project34.  What do you think?

cross stitch 2The words are taken from a poem by Tyler Knott Gregson, from his Typewriter collection.  This particular poem means worlds to me, for reasons I won’t go into here – so I thought it was important to have something wistfully romantic and positive to read every morning.

In keeping with the ‘Typewriter’ tradition, I tried playing with fading out the colour of each silk as I stitched the lower lines, as if the ink on a typewriter is fading.  I think working with block colours would have worked just as well, but I like the colour scheme on the finished piece.

From my early days on the Cross Stitch Train (a club I went to at primary school) – as much as I love it as a craft form, but it really is a labour of love –cross stitch 1 everything takes a lot longer than you think, but I’m really pleased with the outcome.  I love the simplicity of working with cross stitch to create words and I’m over the moon to have something personal on my wall again!

Do you feel like you need to take some crafty power back?  Why not join me on #Project34 – I’d love to see some of what you guys are up to!

Stay Peachy x

The Frugal Kitchen: Avocado Brownies!

mixtureAVOCADO…what now?!?!  Yup, that’s right…and guess what?? They are deliciousness personified!

It’s been a little while since I got creative in the kitchen, I’ve been busy readying meals for me and D, plus trying to eat healthily and shed a teeny bit of weight.  When the chocolate cravings call though, one must act – so I decided to try something a little different!

I’ve had an interest in this amazing cross-genre baking for a while, I tried sweet potato brownies a while back, which were gorgeous and cakey, and low in calories!  avocadoAfter reading several sweet recipes using avocados, I decided to try my hand at a quick, simple and healthier alternative to a full-fat brownie!

When it comes to a bit of frugal baking, I like to use as little ingredients but without sacrificing taste.  A classic brownie recipe should be fuss-free, gooey and satisfying.  We keep avocadoes in abundance in our house; D loves them and I am on a continued quest for long, ebony Priscilla-locks, so they do their bit for me as well!  The recipe below took about ten minutes to mix (once the chocolate had melted) and about 20 minutes in the oven.  The result?  Beautifully rich, gooey, chocolatey goodness and (if you’re a calorie counter – which I, sadly, am) they come in at abotu 272 calories for a large slice!  Go on…give ’em a go!

You Will Need (To Make 10 Large Brownies):

100g Dark Chocolate

4 Eggs

100g Dessicated Coconut

100g Caster Sugar

100g Demerara Sugar

2 tsp Vanilla Extract

70g Cocoa Powder

Handful of Flaked Almonds

1 Large Avocado – mashed

ready to bakeMethod

Over a pan of boiling water, melt your chocolate.  Preheat your oven to 180 C and grease a baking tin (ideally square).

In a bowl, mix your flour, sugars, cocoa powder and vanilla extract.  Pour your melted chocolate and add the eggs and mix until combined.

Finally, add in your mashed avocado and continue to mix until your batter is combined, brown (!) and fairly smooth!

Transfer to your prepared baking tray, sprinkle with flaked almonds and bake for approximately 20 minutes.  Your brownies should be very dark in colour and slightly gooey on the inside.  Remove and leave to cool – or shovel one in straightaway!

finishedStay Peachy x

 

Review: Sizzix ‘Big Shot’ Die-Cutting Machine

sizzix mainAs I’m a something of a Frugal fiend, I don’t tend to say yes, very often, to reviewing products on this blog.  I see my blog as depicting my journey from, quite frankly, a renegade crafter of sorts to adored self-sufficient seamstress (ahem), so product reviews just don’t really fit the bill!  When, however, I was contacted on behalf of Hobbycraft and asked if I wanted to test out the latest die-cutting machine from Sizzix, I jumped at the chance to have a go and, in the process, add another string to my frugal crafty bow!

The Sizzix ‘Big Shot’ Die-Cutting Machine is available from Hobbycraft priced £74.99.  It is a table-top slide machine that allows you, the avid crafter of paper and fabric wonders, to cut intricate dies and embossing patterns effortlessly.  Impressed so far?  You will be!

Sizzix overviewFrom a ‘mechanical’ point of view, the Big Shot not only looks pretty, but on receipt was incredibly easy to assemble.  The machine comes pretty much in one piece with just the washer and crankshaft to screw in place – you are then ready to go!  The Big Shot comes with two cutting mats and an Extendable Multi-Surface Platform – for use depending on what sort of dies you are using.  Being completely new to this, I was really pleased that Hobbycraft sent me a packet of this trio of Tattered Lace Owl Dies to try out, available from Hobbycraft for £22.  The next thing was to actually TRY it out!  Which, in turn, happened to be pretty easy to follow too!

Whilst the instructions were easy to follow and clearly stated which dies are suitable to use with the Big Shot (I can be accused of getting a bit ‘faffy’ when it comes to new machinery), it was fairly self explanatory to work – once I’d chosen which colour paper I wanted to use – I simply popped the die in place with the paper, sandwiched between the two cutting mats and placed on the platform. sizzix and papercuts Turning the washer, the platform guided the sandwich through and the results were wonderful!  Each little owl was perfectly formed and intricately cut – I instantly got the bug for more.  I tried cutting fabric too – which didn’t work as well with these intricate designs, but would be a lifesaver for prepping fabric patches for patchwork and quilting projects.

So, what did I do with my little owl experiments?  I have a couple of very special Birthdays for very special little people coming up, so I decided to use these designs to make up some Birthday cards – I used basic glue to hold these owls in place, but they would work well in 3D form also if applied with sticky foam.

Birthday cardsOverall, I was really impressed with the machine and with my first go at die-cutting,  It all sounds so simple but I’m excited to try other dies in the appropriate ranges and also try my hand at a bit of quilting now that I have a machine that can make life a little easier!  I would recommend this to anyone looking for a good machine that is both simple and effective – I think it is going to become a regular little devil in the craft room and I can’t wait to try some more bits and pieces with it!

Stay Peachy x

Birthday Cards finished

DISCLAIMER: I was sent the Sizzix Big Shot Die-Cutting Machine and the Tattered Lace Owl Dies for the purposes of this review.  I was not paid by the company for this post and all views are my own.

 

What exactly MAKES the World’s Most Ethical Company??

Recently, Swedish brand H&M was awarded a ‘2014’s Most Ethical Company’ award.  I was surprised to hear this, especially since it came just a short while after yet another factory fire, in which H&M’s name was implicated.  So I decided to go a little further and research what, exactly, has made them the ‘Most Ethical’ Company this year?

If you have read my blog from its conception, you will be aware that one of the reasons I decided to sack off the High Street at the start of the year, was down to my sheer frustration with the inethical way in which High Street shops churn out low-quality clothing; whilst their factory workers are forced to work in dangerous conditions for, quite frankly, pittance.  It has long been an issue of mine and is something I wanted to raise here on Frugally Peachy, particularly with all the ‘hauls’ I often read on other blogs.  It has long grated on me that brands such as Primark can win ‘High Street Retailer of the Year’ awards, yet turn a blind eye to the plight of their Bangladeshi workers who have suffered at the hands of poor health and safety in one of their factories (that we know of).  Which is why I had to question the criteria behind H&M’s latest award because, whilst on the surface it may appear our favourite go to for vibrant print tunics and cute, washable, kids’ clothes is, in fact, ticking all our ethical boxes – the truth really isn’t that simple!

H&M have always stood me in great stead and, whilst I don’t shop there for myself during the Frugally Fabulous Year, it has always been my one stop shop for Daisy’s bits.  Why?  Aside from having really cute collections, I find H&M’s kids’ stuff is wearable and washes up really well.  It is one of the few brands whose clothes have stood the test of time (‘time’ being 3 or 6 months) and have still emerged, wash after wash, looking half decent after Daisy’s constant crawling, scraping and spilling.  Not only that, their cotton quality is organic in many cases and superior to other clothing brands AND everything is reasonably priced.  What’s not to love?  Then you hear about the factory business that has been, unsurprisingly, brushed under the carpet and it comes as a harsh reminder that us lucky folks who dwell in the Western world, really know nothing of HOW our clothes come to be so reasonable without compromising on quality.

H&M’s recent award for being ethically sound, has been awarded courtesy of Ethisphere, a research institute with a focus on ethical best practice and anti-corruption policies; supposedly there to sort the wheat from the chaff in terms of compliance, best practice and ethical verification.  Excellent.  Or so you may think.

When it comes to the Most Ethical award, Ethisphere award in several categories – from Chemicals to Banking, Retail to Food – companies that show best practice against the criteria set by the institute, are awarded for their efforts.  What surprised me at first, was that H&M was right up there in the retail sector…with GAP??

This led me straight to the criteria and scoring section of Ethisphere’s website – I mean, you’d have to be living in a cave not to know the hot water GAP found themselves in over their use of sweatshops.  And it was here, I found the very reason for why this award didn’t ‘sit quite right’ with me – throughout Ethisphere’s criteria, there was absolutely no consideration of the manufacturing process or labour, why not check for yourself here!

The truth, in fact, is that the page contains most of the jargon I’ve had to sit through during my 13 year unintentional retail career; practices, phrases and talks of compliance are sort of shoved on a page without really answering any questions.  I bored myself starting to type up my take on the existing criteria, so I figured you can read it at your leisure, carefully mapped out in nonsense for you!  So I guess, after all that, brands like H&M and GAP are sourcing organic cotton, a process which makes them more ethically viable than their cheaper counterparts.  World’s Most Ethical Companies?  Bullshit, I say.

In my opinion, an ethical company deserving of this award, would be one that could quite confidently map the journey of the clothes you purchase from them, from design process to shop, without the use of David Brent-style business speak to cover up a whole load of ‘necessary’ evils in the modern world.  I feel somewhat deceived at H&M winning this award, thought confident in the quality of their cotton, admittedly!  So why do I care?  Ultimately, this isn’t a post written to judge the shopping habits of anyone else, it just doesn’t sit right with me that we, here in the UK, wouldn’t get out of bed for 7p an hour, neither would we work our fingers to the bone, in dangerous conditions, because we had no choice but to do so – at the risk of losing their livelihood.  So why are we expecting other countries to do it for us?  Simply put, exploitation in the fashion industry exists, even though we can’t directly see or feel it.

It is often argued, in my circle of friends, that ‘everywhere’ uses sweatshops and, if you can’t beat them, then join them.  Taking on this challenge has, so far, proven to be more difficult as the year has gone on.  But news like this has made me even more determined to not hand over my money to companies, that are simply ignoring the plight of sweatshop workers – two wrongs don’t make a right, in my mind.  You can argue that disused Primark and H&M garments line the charity and secondhand shops that I’ve come to rely on during my Frugally Fabulous Year, not to mention the virtual shopping aisles of eBay and you’d be 100% right.  But at least, sacking off the High Street for my own wardrobe, I’m confident that my money isn’t going directly to fund brands that use sweatshops, a thoroughly unethical process in our modern world, in my opinion.

What do you think?  Do you think sweatshops are a problem?  Would you like to see more of this type of post on Frugally Peachy?

Thanks for taking the time to read this – your thoughts and opinions really do mean a lot!

 

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!

I’m a Great British Budget Expert!!

Join the Great British Budget ChallengeWell, how’s this for a little extra Saturday post, readers!!! I thought I’d write a little post about the new Great British Budget initiative that launches in February…and with a name like Frugally Peachy, you can guess who is on the panel, right??

Set up by the lovely people at Your Wealth, The Great British Budget aims to tackle the problem of rising debt in British households, by introducing Budgeting as a fun way of saving, taking control of your money and making your financial goals a reality.  The Great British Budget isn’t even just for people struggling with debt, it’s a way of learning to control your outgoings, get creative with your money and achieve your dreams.  With lots of budgeting tools and *expert* advice from the Blogger panel; why not join in and make 2014 a debt-free year?

So, why did I decide to join the Blogger panel???  Well, if you’ve read about my Frugally Fabulous Year so far, you’ll be aware that 2014 is something of a pivotal year for my family.  Having taken the very brave decision to leave my job, look after my baby daughter full time and pursue a creative writing career, it is safe to say that budgeting and cutting back are BIG NEWS in our family, now.  We work extremely hard to live a comfortable, fun lifestyle without the so-called ‘price-tag’ but, like everyone, we have a little debt to pay off and not a huge disposable income.

But it’s not just about money itself.  I want 2014 to be the year I really get behind my desire to be self-sufficient and succeed in my journey to live without the High Street, hone my creativity and save money by getting nifty with my sewing machine and knitting needles.  If we could clear our debts by the end of 2014 AND be on our way to save for our dream family holiday – a road trip to Sweden, I’d be happy.  I guess I want to prove that you don’t have to give up EVERYTHING to save money, a little bit of creative thinking, a little bit of cutting back can go a long way.  And I’m looking forward to joining the Great British Budget on this journey.

So, in February, I will be budgeting and tracking every penny of our wages and trying to stick to a healthy ‘luxuries’ budget of £50 for the month.  For all of us.  I’m also looking forward to joining the February Photo Challenge – why not join in too??  Head over to @YourWealthUK and start tweeting, be sure to keep up to date with the latest news from the #GreatBritishBudget and see just how much you can save, with us!

Photo Challenge

Photo Challenge

Stay Peachy x

One Month In…Reflections

Mug 1It only seems like five minutes ago I was scouring the Interweb for a polkadot background that was ‘just right’ and racking my brainage to come up with exciting posts for the first month.  Suddenly, we have arrived at the end of the month, February is upon us and I have spent a total of £9.99 (from my Christmas money) on myself ALL MONTH.  I managed to kit out the rest of Daisy’s wardrobe with some lovely, hardly worn pieces from eBay.  I bought a gorgeous coat, 6 vests, 2 dresses and a pair of pyjamas all totalling under £28.00 inclusive of postage.  BARGAIN!  Not only that – I’ve spent a total of £5 on new socks for D from Next; I’m beginning to think this whole Frugally Fabulous Year may well encompass the WHOLE family, after all!

January has been easy – though it’s always the money-saving month for everyone isn’t it; paying things off after Christmas, changing our ways.  I haven’t had a single urge to go shopping, I’ve managed to keep cosmetic purchases to a minimum and my projects have, thus far, used materials and yarns I have at home.  I did spy some rather incredible Elvis fabric on eBay though – which gave me some great, kitsch ideas for my new Frugally Fabulous Wardrobe!

At the beginning of the month, me and Mr J (we got a thiiinnng….going oooo-ooonn), took a rare trip to town to spend our Christmas vouchers and money.  Being that most of our vouchers were for good old John Lewis, we headed there to decide which towel bale held the best value (2 bath towels, 2 hands towels AND 2 flannels for £20) and what we would put the rest of the money towards.  No sooner were we 5 steps and several slow-walking people away from the front doors of the homeware MECCA, Mr J helpfully turned to me and stated that, by purchasing from this shop – I had already failed my challenge.

It really got me thinking about the self-imposed rules and regulations of The Frugally Fabulous Year.  Was I really cherry-picking to make the challenge work for me?  No, I wasn’t.  And, NO I’m not.

Parts of this challenge feel easier than I thought they would, though I’ve yet to look at a dress pattern and I’ve cautiously stuck to little knitting projects that will keep me fulfilled (and not crazy).  The High Street hoarder of the dim, distant past feels a million miles away from who I’ve become. I can’t say I’m missing the atmosphere of a High Street store, nor the rails of (what I now deem to be) age-inappropriate cropped shit that I can’t say I’d even be keen to fit into.  Yet, when people question what I’m doing – I do realise I’ve given up the freedom of shopping as and when I want, with no scrutiny as to what I’ve bought and where I’ve been (on the basis that the Frugal Police are in operation).  I now realise that, if I was in sudden need of a black layering vest, I’d be pretty pushed to grab some fabric and try and make one.  That’s a scary thought.  Yet, a bigger part of me can only see the results of what I’ve been slowly giving up, cutting down and turning my back on over the last three or four years.

The thing is, we all HAVE to do it.  If you have a baby, you want to buy a house, you want to plan a wedding; there are no money trees from which we can pick.  Anymore.  This is what I’ve spent the last 10 years slowly realising!

January...it's been fun!

January…it’s been fun!

Picture an ever-so-slightly more youthful me, gallavanting through the sites of That London; I would indulge in at least 4 Starbucks a week from the top of the High Street, where I worked.  I hated my job.  I would spend about £70-£100 a month on clothing, not to mention fashion mags and books, partially due to the perks demands of the job.  The job I hated.  My housemate and I would regularly eat out locally or head to trendy Spitalfields where we could vent our rage over a ‘cheap’ Wagamamas.  We hated our flat, we had no living room.  I would easily spend £40 on gin-fuelled nights out.  I had no boyfriend or, sadly, decent taste in men until late 2011. That, right there, was an emotional shopper.

In late September, I took a trip to Camden to see a gig by a bloke I barely knew and, four and a half months later, I moved to The Midlands to live with him.  I started to find a new way of living.  I got creative with my work and my writing again.  I frequented Starbucks less and started to pull out and dust off all those beautiful dresses I had so taken for granted.  I started enjoying cooking and cococting recipes in MY OWN kitchen again.  We didn’t go out so much.  Then, along came Daisy and now, a trip to a restaurant with Mr J really is a treat, a snippet of time to ourselves.  A homemade chai latte is the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon, watching Daisy taking all the jigsaw pieces out that I just put back.  My morning make-up routine is one of my favourite times of the day – because it’s just for me and usually its soundtrack is the quietest birdsong, while all about the house, my family are snoozing away.  All those things have changed, I’ve changed.

So, no, I don’t think I’m cherry-picking a thing because, despite being a little scared of the task I’ve set myself,  I know that I’ve started my Frugally Fabulous Year, having already learnt the most important lesson of all.  Things do not replace people, emotions or experiences.  And that is the most valuable lesson I could have learnt so far.  All that remains, is to own it.

Stay Peachy x