Tag Archives: Reflections

Hello July, Hello 30!

neo 1So, July arrived in a haze of hot days, long nights and a whole load of Nazi research.  How’s it panning out for you so far?  It isn’t long until the stretch of Summer Holidays is upon excited school children.  Then again, neither is it long before I kiss my 20s goodbye.

It is today in fact!  Hello 30…my, you’re looking rather appealing and exciting!

The last ten years seem to have gone by in quite a blur.  Well, actually, not really.  I’ve lived in three cities, had several jobs, climbed my way up the corporate fashion ladder – only to jump off at the top, in a desperate attempt to escape!  I’ve had wonderful trips abroad, made some lifelong friendships with some amazing people, had some great experiences, loved, lost and learnt all about love, in the form of having my little lady!

meanddaisyI was lucky to spend last weekend with one of my closest friends, Lucy, who came to see me from London – we had some drinks out with other friends and a good old catch up, plus a lift in a VW Transporter – which was an entirely new experience for me.  Today, I’m sticking to the usual routine of singing group followed by a Birthday lunch with my extra special Mum Mafia.  Tonight it’s all about catching up at The Gladstone and TOMORROW, I’m getting my dancing (or indeed just ability-to-stand) heels on for the Most Ugly Child EP launch, with support from one of my favourite local musicians, Ryan Thomas.  30 ain’t looking too bad at all!

Birthdays always make you reflect on the last year, or ten years.  To think, this time, 10 years ago, I was finishing off a degree in Dance, bothering the DJs at Reflex for playing enough Duran Duran for my Birthday, not sure where I was headed and I was sporting an interesting choppy hairdo that changed between blonder than blonde and browner than brown!

To be honest, I don’t know if I am where I ever thought I’d be at 30 – ‘op North’, single mama with a penchant for DIY and Elvis.  Then again do we ever know what we really want?  So, before I get all too deep and meaningful, I thought I’d share some of the things I feel really proud of, in my 30 whole years on this planet.

1. I guess it goes without saying that I’m proud of my little girl.  She’s a joy to be with everyday and the absolutely best daughter you could ask for.

2. I’m proud to be a perpetual dream chaser.  I’ve never wanted to live a linear life, I like the life I have.  I can only hope to fulfil some of my bigger ambitions in the next decade too, but I’m proud to be motivating myself to make in-roads.

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3. I’m proud to be strong and absolute in doing what’s right for me and my family.  There is a strength that only comes from going through hell – learning to embrace it is so important.

4. I’m proud of my ‘how hard can it be’ attitude.  Without that, I don’t think there would be a blog, a #craftblogclub, a patchwork chair or even a working relationship with a sewing machine.

5. I’m proud of my Mum, who taught me how to do everything, I can only hope to be the same level of awesome for Daisy.

6. I’m proud to have lived in London, it was bloody hard and bloody expensive.  But, after two and a half years, I miss that old place so much and I’m sorry I didn’t take care of us a little more, old girl!

7. I’m proud to be unique – it makes comparing yourself to others a LOT easier!

8. I’m proud to be a non-consumer and I’m proud of my little blog, wherever it may take me next.

9. I’m proud of my endless ability and patience to apply eyeliner every day!

10. I’m proud to have such wonderful friends and family around me, who support whatever I do – it means a lot and I’m eternally grateful to you!

OK…I’m leaving it there for today, I’m off to sing my heart out with Little D and welcome in the mystical thirties with the most yummy traybake I’ve EVER baked!  See you on the other side

thirtyStay Peachy x

 

Reflections: Six Months In….

love financesWell, I feel as if I’ve barely scratched the surface of creating a ‘homemade life’ and I’ve just realised I’m six months in to my Frugally Fabulous Year already.  And what a year it has been!

This month has really been a time to reflect on the past six months and, amongst all the list-making, I do feel that I’m starting to re-evaluate my goals for this year and make some long term plans for me and D, my career, our house (mostly patchworking) and our future,

With that, comes the ever-present need to continue watching, monitoring and (hopefully) growing our finances.  So what exactly is it that I’m ‘saving’ on this year??  I think I gotta get serious with the ‘nitty gritty’ side of being frugally fabulous – when I write about my ‘previous London life’, it seems almost a million years ago.  All that Starbucks-guzzling, Whistles-wardrobe-stuffing and band-chasing seems lost in the midst of time, babies and DIY-obsessing.  So how do I really know HOW to save on what I’ve already cut back?  So, six months in, I gave myself a little financial refresh – here’s what I’m doing…

BE METICULOUS – OFTEN

It seems like the most BORING job in the world, but someone has to do it.  And until you can afford an accountant to balance your incomings and outgoings, it needs to be YOU.  At the moment, I am finding it easiest to manage my finances on a fortnightly basis.  Every two weeks, I painstakingly go through my bills to stay on top of my finances.  YAWNSVILLE, I know BUT – at this point in the year I have paid off 75% of my overall debt, so it’s gotta be worth doing, right?

joy jarREMEMBER YOUR JOY JAR!

I had this Joy Jar idea back along – a little jar (beautifully decorated with lace, it was) for all the money you save each month (no matter how little).  Despite my retirement from High Street shopping, I’m still a great believer in treating yourself to something off the wishlist.  So, whatever the dream, keep your joy jar brimming with whatever you manage to save and that necklace, vintage dress or holiday will seem that little bit closer!

GIVE YOUR HOUSEHOLD BILLS A SPRING CLEAN

With my break up, came all the necessary paperwork, bills transfers and a new consetina file to stuff it all in.  BUT, it was also a great opportunity to give my bills a bit of an overhaul and I managed to lower my electricity and gas bill by £12 a month – based on current meter readings and usage over the past 6 months.  What’s more?  My electricity and gas company of choice, also recommend a re-check every 3 months so, to get the best out of your bills, take advantage of this regular overhaul.

LITTLE LISTS…LITTLE LIFESAVERS

List-making is a way of life for me! Shopping lists save time and idle wandering, meal planning saves precious time with Miss D and a little extra cash in the bank (not to mention space in the wastebin) and even wishlists give you a, sort of, focus.  Lists provide the limits that we need, sometimes BUT they are, in themselves, limitless.  Starting small, I’m in the process of setting myself daily, weekly and monthly goals and so on and so forth.  These aren’t all financial, it has to be said, but does put the four quarters of life into a stark (and often exciting) reality.

receipt reflectionsAnd FINALLY…THE BEST EBAY BUYS ARE SEASONS AHEAD

If there’s one thing to take from years in fashion retail, as discussed with my equally fabulous friend this week, who is busy scaling the dizzy heights of Liberty these days, it’s that you possess the unequalled ability to shop SEASONS AHEAD!  Once a fashion retail muggle, you will forever be shopping the trends rather than what’s just hitting the shops…so how does this save money?  Well, whatever your shopping style, you’re bound to find the best out-of-season bargains exactly then, out of season.  If you’re serious about bargain hunting in the wardrobe department, why not take a little bit of Pinterest and Vogue around with you and keep your eyes open for winter coats in the heat of Summer and Summer skirts in the January sales.  My mind is already turning to customising one of my favourite winter capes and just how I could integrate some Bradshaw-inspired dusk pink into my blacker than black wardrobe!

Do you feel the need for a little financial overhaul?  What tips do you have for penny pinching?

IMG_20140604_164025Stay Peachy x

 

 

 

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

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!

 

Reflections: Things Falling Apart

Mirror 1Well, I can’t believe I’m two months in to my Frugally Fabulous Year!  Time is marching swiftly forward and guess what?  I’m still somewhat withering around my sewing machine at the moment.  Those ace clothes are NOT going to sew themselves!  Luckily, for me, I have the wonderful Laura Strutt here – not personally but in book form, to show me the ropes and I’ve been looking forward to settling down and overcoming my fears for a very long time now!  I guess February just ran away with me…

What with the chaotic wonderment that was #MidsBlogMeet, our #CraftBlogClub challenge, Mr J’s Birthday, the arrival of Mortal Instruments from Lovefilm AND about 6 other writing and crafting WIPs – I have barely had time to sit down and think about my sewing machine, let alone fathom my fears.

The trouble is, whilst I’ve been busy with life this month, everything else is starting to fall apart; the buttons on my coat have nearly all fallen off, my oven gloves have seen much better days, my slippers are cracking on the soles and my wardrobe is starting to look somewhat lacklustre.  It’s time to face the music!

Wardrobe 2On the other hand….a good Tweeple Buddy asked me the other day about how I might track my savings through my Frugally Fabulous Year?  It got me thinking about how I could do this – without boring the pants off my readers with facts, figures and somewhat personal accounting!  It’s tough – the majority of our money comes from Mr J’s earnings and, whilst we are trying to live frugally, we are also paying off debt.  The good news?  My final payment from my previous job FINALLY arrived this month and has allowed me to pay off a debt I incurred whilst I ran Miss Berry’s.  It feels amazing to have that relief wash over me – I can only imagine what the end of my Frugally Fabulous Year will look like!  I spent just £8 on cosmetics this month – extremely frugal in comparison to an average of £20-30 when I was working full time.  But perhaps I need to start monitoring even more closely?    For now…here are my Frugal Tips for tracking your savings!

1. Budgeting

Mr J is not big on financial budgeting, but I see it as a necessity to ensure we know exactly what we have coming in and going out each month.  I don’t always profess to be as meticulous as I should be – but I’m definitely getting there.  In particular, setting yourself a food/entertainment/travel budget for the month is a great way to really monitor how you’re spending and also look at how/where you can save.

2. Change Your Ways?

Whilst we are on the subject of food budgeting, this is one of the areas I am really looking at saving.  For ease, I have often booked one to two online shopping deliveries a month, whilst stocking up on fresh produce at our local greengrocer’s.  Recently, I’ve turned my weekly shops into several smaller shops, where I can, whilst really looking at where I can make the best savings.  Ok, so carrying my shopping can be a bit of a drag, but I’m saving about £10 a month on delivery costs.  Plus, shopping with smaller, cheaper brands or local suppliers has also meant a saving of almost £12 a week (yup, I’m becoming THAT person) – which translates roughly to a saving of £624 over a year – that’s some festival tickets and a chunk of the ‘Swedish Dream’ right there!  I have already started to draw relationships between Money and Convenience, it seems if you are serious about saving money, convenience has to go out the window!

receipt reflections3. Don’t Be Loyal to Brands, They Aren’t Loyal To You

When I was pregnant, like most people, I stood in the middle of Boots baby aisle, completely befuddled by the sheer amount of branding, products and general colours being thrown at me.  I have always prided myself on keeping things to a good, but necessary minimum – I’m not easily sold on baby gadgets especially – the trick is to sort through what you need and what you don’t!  It’s easy to get bombarded with constant 3 for 2 offers and discounts – the new parent market especially is a hive of activity for offer emails, special events and what not.  But in making your purchases, no matter how ‘loyal’ you think a brand is, remember that all they really want is your money (I see Johnson and Johnson, I think ‘Johnson and Formaldehyde’)!  Clever advertising can go a long way to make you feel you are missing something important by not making that purchase, but the truth is you can most probably go without it – or at least go without the last minute eye-catching add-ons and special offers.

4. Don’t Turn Your Advantage Points Into Disadvantage Points

All that aside, if you shop religiously at one place, get all your cosmetics from Boots or drink all your coffees in one coffee house, then make sure their loyalty cards ARE working for you.  These days, most big names are offering a loyalty card at practically every paying counter you head to.  Prior to having D, I picked up loyalty cards for Starbucks, Holland and Barrett and Waterstones – to name a few.  Well almost a year on these cards remain redundant in my wallet, they’re not worth the space they take up and they certainly don’t encourage me to want to spend any more with these companies.  Now I’m probably not the best to judge, being that the whole point of my Frugally Fabulous Year is to NOT shop on the High Street, but it seems to me that if you do shop with one shop, you might as well make sure you get the very best of their offers and points benefits.  Why not have a look through the loyalty cards you have stashed in your wallet?  Have you got cards that are encouraging you to spend more than you should in places you know you shouldn’t?  Do you have loyalty cards that could work much harder for you?  This will take all of five minutes, but could save you a little bit of cash money AND make sure you are shopping in the RIGHT places for you!

5. Make Yourself a Joy Jar!

Once you’ve done the hard work – if you find you save a little bit – be it £1 or £10, why not physically take that money out and pop it in a ‘Joy Jar’? joy jar Here’s one I made earlier!  I think there is a lot to be said, psychologically, for being able to see, in the flesh, just how much money you are saving.  Once the jar is full, you can pop it in a savings account, sort yourself out with a much-longed for treat or p**s it up the wall, it really is up to you!  I intend to start using my jar to physically chart how much money I save each month – why not do the same?

Well, it is with a fondness that I bid my Frugal February adieu…it’s been wonderful, full of love, lust and knitting needle clicking – I shall see you on the other side in March, which wil undoubtedly be one of the most special months for me this year!

Stay Peachy x

 

 

Frugally Inspired: I Don’t Know How She Does It…

Off on a little town adventure

Off on a little town adventure

This week, I decided to make my first visit to town in nearly two months.  Out of necessity, nothing else.  I could no longer avoid paying some cheques into my bank account and, now that she is officially ‘cruising’, D needs some sort of shoes.  I say ‘cruising'; that girl is scaling playgroup halls and the entire length of our house faster than a hungry animal looking for lunch.

The weather aside, I hate shopping in town.  I hate feeling like a second-class citizen because I have to manoeuvre a pram and I hate dealing with small aisles, miniscule shop doorways and small-minded people.  A trip to town has to be planned, meticulously, lists made and shopping completed in the absolute smallest fraction of time possible.  So, for a frugally fabulous non-shopper, I feel I have quite the right attitude to a shopping trip to ensure success with my challenge!

Still, we picked up some lovely little pre-walkers for Daisy from Next – reasonable and not too sickeningly glitzy, then after a few errands we popped to Waterstones to give D her lunch and peruse the craft section in spectacular masochistic fashion.  When it comes to missing shopping – I don’t miss clothing, I barely remember the last time I spent time looking at cosmetics, but I’m a book-a-holic!daisy feet  Books are my addiction and I usually find it nigh-on impossible to leave without at least one shiny purchase!  I can’t even say I’m into the teccy Kindle stage of reading – and for someone who is looking into self-publishing this may well have to be a relationship that blossoms in the near future!  Still, out we walked, heads high (and soaked from the rain) with just one teeny tiny pop-up book for D, with some Christmas money she was given.  Go me!

The thing is, people often say ‘I don’t know how you do it’, when I tell them the premise of my year without shopping.  I’m not too sure how to answer; there are a thousand reasons I have become so resilient to the ‘wonders’ of shopping that, just 6 weeks in, town trips like the one I braved this week, seem so alien to me already.  Here’s how I *THINK* I’m handling it!

I Walk Everywhere – Except in the Direction of Town – Bus trips are infrequent and unnecessary where we live, so I tend to enjoy walking to most places – parks, groups, the sorting office – you name it, we walk it!  I grew up without a family car, so walking has always been inherent to my lifestyle.  Nottingham has a lot of beauty about it – I love exercising the right to walk for no reason at all sometimes, so destinations are not important, town is a million miles away from us, in my head, I don’t NEED to walk there, when we have parks, charity shop caverns and beauty spots right on our doorstep.

Plans, Plans, Plans – I’m never without plans in operation.  It is a strong belief, held by us crafty folk that we thrive in chaotic environments and, though I’d sometimes like my life to be a little more structured, I spend almost all my free time writing, crafting, reading and PLANNING!  Right now – I have about 6 books in my head, at least 10 craft projects and a huge mountain to overcome, in the form of mastering my sewing machine.  Not to mention a cruising 11 month old, who loves nothing more than snuggling with Mummy and reading.  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, all these projects make me happier than shopping, so I devote 100% of my energy to it.

The Importance of My Mum Mafia – As D isn’t going to nursery, I think developing her sociability is really important, so playgroups, singing and swimming are something we frequent as much as we can.  I also know how important it is to hang with other mums and I am very lucky to have a small group of mums, my Mum Mafia, that I regularly hang out with.  We all take in turns to host tea and cake mornings, who all have similar likes, dislikes, fears, morbid fascinations to me and who I can be entertained by/entertain, without spending ANY MONEY- unless I’m whipping up a cake or need some emergency milk.  These ladies are invaluable to me, I love spending time with them putting the world to rights in the comfort of our own homes – time well spent with excellent company and not a Starbucks label in sight!

Charity Shopping with a Difference – I tend to limit my trips to our local row of charity shops – mainly because I’m on pretty much first name terms with them.  Since starting my challenge, inspired by some of the lovely crafty tweeps I interact with, I’ve stopped looking so much for ‘clothing’ and more for FABRIC – which has opened up a whole new world of projects and excitement for me!  I took an awesome trip with my friend on Saturday and got this amazing HAUL for under £16 – a velvet top that needs some serious sleeve-love, a Joan Holloway-esque graphic print dress that needs a bit of tapering AND a tartan smock that’s about 4 sizes too big BUT with some tapering, a new neckline and a contrast colour, looks to swift become my favourite dress of 2014!  Watch this space for more…

charity shop haul 1

Crave It?  Then Make It – Fancy a creamy hot chocolate or some cheeky chips?  Fancy trying your hand at a posh roast?  Good, then make it!  As an avid cooker/baker/ kitchen dweller, I love challenging myself in the kitchen and, though I don’t profess to be the best, I like to be adventurous with every day ingredients and make replacements for my favourite treats.  A more creative kitchen means you appreciate takeaways even less – because the truth is, you are more than capable of making something better.

Don’t Forget The Ordinary Moments – Not everyday has to be a spectacular display of creative living.  I’m my own worst enemy for this – I always have a to-do list as long as my arm and I’m not happy if it doesn’t all get done in 24 hours.  Living frugally does mean you learn to bask in the ordinary moments.  I take as much pleasure in half an hour reading my book on my new, comfy, wicker chair (It’s a WIP), or getting down and playing with D and her teaset, as I would shopping or any of the other stuff.  Your children grow every day and it’s a privilege to watch D growing into such a lovely, cheeky, funny little girl – those are the important moments, the ordinary pieces that make up the patchwork of your family life.

So there you have it, not rocket science I suppose, but a little glimpse into life in the frugal lane…

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