Tag Archives: The Frugally Fabulous Year

Hello April!

hackney aprilSo it’s the 4th already – I do apologise for the lateness but HAPPY APRIL ONE AND ALL!  May the first few days of spring and the lack of need for heating be treating you well!

I’ve been pretty busy behind the scenes, dealing with the nitty gritty of my break-up and now I’m focusing on some really exciting projects – both for this blog and more – so watch this space for more info coming in the next few months!  I can have something of a tempestuous relationship with blogging – recently I feel as if I’ve just been posting a whole load of ‘life’ stuff and that’s not what Frugally Peachy is all about, so I intend to get my creative mojo back as soon as humanly possible!

Whilst I coined March as ‘Making Memories March’, I had no idea just how many memories I’d be making – I am so grateful for the wonderful messages of support I’ve had from everyone, so I’d like to say another very heartfelt thank you!  Not one to dwell on things, I want to continue to promote positivity, creativity and the ‘art of not shopping’ through this blog.  In many ways I’m quite comfortable in my new role as a Lone-Wolf Mama (romantic, no?) as my Mum too was Lone-Wolf for much of my childhood and teen years.  I’m starting to see the other side of direct-debit swapping and all sorts now, and I’m pretty optmistic about what the future holds for me and Miss D!

As much as March was tough, it was probably the hardest month NOT to shop that I’ve had so far.  My wardrobe was feeling lacklustre, so I injected a bit of eBay and handmade goodness into it; plus I’ve surpassed the urge to go and ‘shop my cares away’ whilst rearranging every corner of my house!  I have, however, been making a few plans to reclaim my home space and update with a bit of typically Peachy decor – resulting posts to follow I’m sure – and if you know anyone who could do a lifesize mural of Alexander Skarsgard on my fireplace wall, I’d be very appreciative!  I’m kidding!  Or am I…..

April has seen some lovely warm weather and I’m sure we are all feeling the pinch with Summer Wardrobe Specials popping up left, right and centre.  I’m going to do my best to get handmaking a bit more this month, time permitting, so I look forward to showing you my latest WIPs and creations when I get the chance!

I’m also looking forward to a little downtime in Somerset, with my parents in a couple of weeks whilst I’m also busy plotting and planning a few bits, including our next Midlands Blogger Meet Up – are you coming along??  Plus we have the unveiling of our latest #CraftBlogClub challenge coming up at the end of the month! I can’t wait!

#midsblogmeet BrumThings are feeling ok, a little more organic and I’m putting less pressure on myself to finish projects and taking my time when I need to!  I’m really looking forward to where the rest of the year takes me and I hope you’ll continue to join me on my Frugally Fabulous Year!  I’m still sacking off the High Street – in fact, we have fallen out for good, I think!

I guess that’s about it for now….here’s a little bit of what I’ve been up to!

Reading: I’ve been a little slack with reading recently as I’m trying to get some of my own writing projects finished!  But I’m still wading through The Power of Now and I have a whole host of books lined up for after – I’m really keen to read this book, recommended by a friend next!  I’m so intrigued by the idea of past lives, it’s right up my street!

Watching:  Whilst I don’t believe any pleasures in life should be labelled ‘guilty’, I do like to catch up with Teen Mom 3 (and now 2 is series linked).  Whilst it can be classed as totally trash TV, I have so much respect for these girls who take on such huge life-changing decisions at such a young age – I really salute them!

Wearing: Black, black and more black! In fact, it seems the hotter the day is, the more black I migrate to – you can take the Girl out of the Goth but you can’t take the Goth out of the Girl!

Listening: I’m in mourning! My favourite band Dead Sons announced a very sad decision to split last week.  I used to go see these guys play in London a lot and I will always hold the best memories of their gigs.  If you’re a fan of heavy, tuneful rock, I urge you to check out their music on Spotify, they were a piece of unsigned, undiscovered genius – I’ve been caning the album again recently and I suppose I’m still secretly hoping it’s all a big mistake!

dead sonsTomorrow we have a lovely, quick recipe for Beef Teriyaki and don’t forget, you still have time to enter my giveaway to win this lovely Handknitted Heart!  Detail are on the tutorial and post HERE

Hanging heart 3Stay Peachy x

 

 

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

 

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!

#CraftBlogClub – I Re-Love You Challenge REVEAL!

craftblogclub badgeTuesday evenings are, undoubtedly one of my favourite times of the week!  Even if I’m not hosting, I love watching lots of crafty types getting together from across the globe to discuss all things craft and blogging!

One of things I love most about setting up #CraftBlogClub, are the challenges we do.  I always try and come up with interesting ideas that members can really challenge themselves on, or can ultimately show what they are capable of.  So, for our first challenge of 2014 and, of course, in keeping with my self-imposed frugality; I set an upcycling challenge on something you have around the house (or something you have purchased – if easier).  Wanna see mine???!!!

toy box 2

BEHOLD!  This is one of my first attempts at furniture upcycling!  As Daisy turns One this month, I had the brainwave a while ago that I wanted to do something memorable for her.  I love traditional wooden toy boxes and, after a bit of Pinteresting, decided that I wanted to paint a toybox for her Birthday.

After searching the length and breadth of eBay and Gumtree – I FINALLY managed to find a blanket box, going locally, for £20.  It was a little smaller than I originally hoped for but, upon arrival, it looked ideal for Daisy’s bedroom.

toy box 1

 

 

Being a little rusty with furniture painting, I took myself to Homebase to find the sort of paint I felt would work easily on the box. Paint brushes I found some gorgeous Dulux Satin Wood ‘Willow Tree’ green furniture paint, priced £14.99 and supplemented with a primer – priced £6.95.  My paint choice apparently needed no undercoat and, while the box wasn’t antique, I wanted to make sure the ‘mocha’ colour would cover easily.

I painted one coat of primer and two of the green to get an even, covered result and I am pretty happy with the colour!  I toyed around with different ideas and colour ways – D’s nursery is a pale pink Beatrix Potter theme; but I felt I wanted to paint something timeless, that she would continue to use as she gets older.  So, along with the decision to ‘go green’, came the decision to scrap my original idea of scripting her name on the box, replaced with tiny dotted vintage-inspired daisies instead.

Now, I don’t claim to be an artist or painter of ANY description, so this was the part I was most worried about!  To aid in my questionable cack-handedness, I decided to use the other end of two paint brushes to make my yellow and white daisy dots to make firmer, striking dots. toy box close up The result was pretty good, they aren’t perfect, but I think that’s part of the charm.  I decided to create the daisies in the corners of the lid, rather than cover it completely.  Once this last pain-staking part was done, all that was left was to give it a quick clear varnish.  The box came with the lovely horse paper inside, which I decided to keep, in keeping with the ‘vintage’ feel.

What started off as one idea, has become something simple, sweet and hopefully a lasting memory for D as she gets older!  I’m pleased with my handy work AND from a frugal point of view – I used less than a third of both the paint and primer, meaning this Birthday make totals in at £27.31 for the box and paints plus a little extra for brushes.  Compared to a personalised toy box price of around £70 minimum, I’d say we’ve done pretty well!

I’ve definitely got the bug and I’m eyeing up my next piece of work that I really think will suit the colour of my paint.  But you’ll have to stay tuned to see how that turns out!

For now, let me say a huge thank you to all the lovely #CraftBlogClub tweeples who tirelessly take part in my challenges and produce such gorgeous work!  I’m always truly inspired and I can’t wait to see what everyone has come up with.  I’ve popped the Linky below and I’ll be sharing these great posts in the coming weeks!  Fear not, if you haven’t quite finished – the link will stay open for two weeks!

toy box 3

The question is…..are you ready for another challenge??

THE BIG SPRING CLEAN!

In true Spring style, I’ve suddenly had the urge to have a huge clear out and get to grips with some of those left over crafty projects that have been building up!  So…due to the success of our Secret Santa, I thought we could do a ‘Spring Clean Gift Swap’ – make a gift using only products and materials you already have or by finishing off an old project you’ve left.  Fancy it??  Here are the rules..

1. To sign up – please drop me an email at missemmaberry@gmail.com to be added to the swap list.  All entries must be in by Wednesday 12th March.  I will then pair up gift swaps and email everyone with their swappees name, address and Twitter handle.

2. As this is a little more complicated, we will run the challenge over a two-ish month period.  All gifts should have been received by their recipients and posts ready to go by Tuesday 22nd April.

3. Unlike the Secret Santa, you only have to write a post about the gift you RECEIVE and it would be wonderful to link back to your gift maker’s blog!  You CAN tell you recipient who you are or even pop a little letter in there for them – it’s up to you!

I thought this would be a great way to see in Spring and, perhaps, all get to know each other a little better too!

I really hope you all want to take part – be sure to email me your full name, address and Twitter handle so I can pair everyone up efficiently!

And, in the mean time, don’t forget to link up your ‘I Re-Love You’ post below!

Stay Crafty x

 Come join us!


The Great British Budget – From The Heart, For The Wallet

Join the Great British Budget ChallengeWell, we are nearly a month into the Great British Budget challenge, nearly two into my Frugally Fabulous Year and I thought I’d reflect a little on how I’m doing and, more to the point, how I got here.

Everyone’s financial journey starts somewhere.  I grew up in a single-parent family, money wasn’t something we talked about in great detail but I knew how things were.  We didn’t have a car, we had a lovely little house and I never felt I wanted for anything.  My Mum was truly inspirational as someone who balanced part-time work with full-time Motherhood.  We had wonderful holidays, trips and, above all, a very happy time of it.  Our family has roots deep in memories and experiences, less so things.  I really feel this has shaped my view of the sort of Mum I want to be to my daughter.

In 2012, we were hit with the news that little Daisy was on her way.  We had no savings, we were just about to move into our own rented place and I was reluctantly heading back into full-time work, knowing full well that this was not a long term option, once the babe was here.  Like most people our age, Mr J and I carried a little debt.  Mine was the result of a failed and not-thought-out business model, a struggle to live a balanced life in London and almost ten years of being in over-worked and under-paid managerial positions.  That’s not a sob story, that’s how it was. newborn Daisy It struck me, as I knew I was growing a little, helpless human being inside me, that talk of savings and pensions were a thing of the past, something our parents had been encouraged to do, not our own generation of credit cards, student loans and ‘living for the moment’.  Pensions were not readily on offer in our jobs; our peers and circle of friends lived like we did, from day to day, with little thought to a financial future.  I didn’t take on either challenge because I was poor with money, it was more about learning to budget and contribute to a secure future, in whatever way I can.

Being pregnant completely changed my outlook on things.  If you’ve read my previous posts you’ll be aware how adamant I was about not returning to my former work.  I realised that it was time to wake up and put dreams into action, my life-long dreams of being a WAHM, an author, a freelance writer and an all-round creative home-bird!  With Daisy’s arrival, came the arrival of a fresh start.  And with that fresh start, came the need to clean up financially and start looking to the future.  This means clearing ALL our debts, seriously looking at pension plans and saving money for ourselves and our family.  I have dreams of saving for a family trip to Sweden, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that before (about a million times in less than two months)

As part of the Great British Budget, I signed up to use Money Hub; a great financial tool set up by the lovely people over at Your Wealth, to help you track your money, savings, expenditure and budgeting, by inputting your annual income, assets etc.  The great thing about this tool, is that you can use it as much or as little as you like.  Premium members can link the tool to their accounts so it does the hard work for them, or you can simply sign up for an account and create a budget that works for you.

So far, since joining the Great British Budget, I’ve stuck to my monthly food budget, have even geeked-out and completed price-comparison shops to see just how much I’m saving by changing my food-shopping habits (more on this later – you lucky lot) and I’ll be ending my Frugal February just within budget.  Using Money Hub has, so far, helped me to see exactly what money I have and exactly where each penny is going – for someone who isn’t good with figures, it has helped me to look realistically at the bigger picture and see where I can improve our financial status each month.  Depressing as it sounds, teaching yourself the ‘spreadsheet’ side of frugal is a necessity when it comes to clearing debts and Money Hub has been a wonderful tool in helping me .  I look forward to seeing where it takes me over the next year!  And I hope you’ll continue to read about my journey!

me black and whiteStay Peachy x

DISCLAIMER: As a Great British Budget Panellist, I was offered the chance to try Money Hub for free, though the tool has both free and paid-for options.  All opinions are my own and I was not paid for this post.

Frugally Ever After: Knitted Intarsia Heart Square

knitting bag

Having always been an avid knitter, I wanted my Frugally Fabulous Year challenge to push my creativity and learn new skills in the knitting department as well as sewing!

I’ve become fairly accomplished at knitting, through teaching myself how to read patterns and frequenting a knitting club, many years ago, in Bath.  Last Christmas, I had great success selling these handknitted gnomes (I’m taking orders all year round for them this year too – please drop me an email if you’re interested) and this year, I wanted to try some new knitting styles and really challenge my abilities, to create new and interesting bits and pieces for the home.

One knitting method I have never tried is Intarsia, a simple form of working with blocks of colours in knitting.  I love the idea of creating motifs and wanted to give it a try.  I came up with the idea of trying a simple knit square with a heart motif – another possible idea for a Frugally Ever After gift, this Valentine.  I think the idea of making a patchwork ‘memory throw’, starting with this heart as a central point, that charts special occasions and moments in our family life is a really special idea and a perfect crafty way to say ‘I Love You and I Love Us’.

So…..here is my first square!  I cast on 44 stitches and knitted 44 rows on 4mm needles.  I roughly sketched a heart design on graph paper and basically increased my row of red stitches by one on each side, to get the shape of the heart. intarsia heart finished I had this lovely blue yarn, stashed away at the bottom of the pile and a tiny red double knitting ball that I’d never used.  The colours go so vividly together.  The heart is far from perfect – indicative of my own, I’m sure; but I was really proud of my first attempt, that I decided to leave it as it was, ready to be stitched up to whatever else I may make in the coming year!  I plan to work with new textures and pattern ideas using simply Fairisle and Cable Knit methods, alongside other quirky Intarsia designs and mood colours.  I’m lucky that Mr J really appreciates handmade gifts and loves adding to our handmade home with some of my Frugally Fabulous ideas!  This Valentine’s Day…why not get your needles out give a loved one a little piece of you!

I’ve learnt the hard way that preparation is everything when it comes to Intarsia and making mini yarn balls is probably the way forward.  You know me – renegade crafter by name AND nature.  I was more concerned with remembering to twist the yarn in place and work from the right end of the yarn – not to mention engrossed in catching up with some of my TV faves; so I made sure to cut out a few yarn guiders from an old cereal box, ready for my next square.

intarsia heart closeI’m working on another knitted WIP at the moment, ready for a very special unveiling in March!  Trying out Intarsia has given me so many ideas for this one, I can’t wait to share it with you all.  I also can’t wait to update you on the Memory Throw as I make progress with it throughout the year.  Fingers crossed, by Christmas, we will have a colourful throw of haphazard designs and quirky memories, to snuggle under!

Stay Peachy x

 

 

Frugally Ever After: Anatomical Heart Card

Heart Card 2So far, this year, I have prided myself on NOT buying any greetings cards; instead, choosing to make little cards from card, scraps and stickers I have lying around the house.  As much as I love a good fuelling of my stationery addiction in Paperchase, it’s an expense I can do without on my Frugally Fabulous Year.

If you read my last blog, you might be aware that I started messing about with a little bit of papercrafting – though I admit to being pretty mediocre at it.  I love paper crafting and I’ve seen some incredible illustrations recently, I just wish I was better at it!  Still….February means all sorts of cards in store for friends and family, and what better way to start than with an Anatomical Heart Valentine’s Card!  Using some basic card, fabric scraps and a craft knife; I came up with this pretty sweet idea – frugal, fabulous AND A great way to use up those bothersome fabric scraps!  I kept the outline fairly simple, but clear – give me another year and I’ll be able to cut in all the arteries and pumps!  I finished off with the classic ‘You Are Here’ sign, with an arrow pointing to the heart – a sweet and slightly different way to say ‘I Love You’!  Fancy doing your own??  Here’s a simple tutorial

YOU WILL NEED:

1 Piece of A4 Black Card

1 Piece of A4 Coloured Paper

1 Scrap Fabric – approximately A5 sized

A Craft Knife and Craft Mat

Superglue or Bonding Glue

1 Silver Pen

White Chalk (for drawing template – I find Tailor’s chalk really useful for getting clearer lines)

Patterned Washi Tape (optional)

METHOD:

Firstly, fold your blank black card in half, width ways and flatten out again.  With your chalk, draw out a rough template of your anatomical heart shape – I took to Pinterest for a bit of inspiration and found tonnes of pictures to help me!

Once you are happy with your template, Heart Card 3it’s time to get cutting on the craft mat – be careful to make small, sharp strokes and take your time as much as you can.  I used a medium blade on my craft knife, which is great for bold outlining.  Work your way around the template and, once you have finished, discard your inner template…or, indeed, keep it for more hearty crafts at a later date!  Using  your craft knife, tidy up any scrappy bits or paper frays that you didn’t quite get first time round.

At this point, if you are using washi tape (I had this lovely musical washi tape from an old project I did a couple of Christmasses ago), now is the time to stick it, in no particular order to your scrap of fabric – applying it afterwards might leave short joins when it is attached to the card.

Using your superglue or bonding glue (I use a great lightweight, heavy duty glue from Wilkos – just £1.50 and great for crafting), glue the edges of your chosen fabric to the inside of your black card, so that the heart shape is covered by your fabric.

To finish, glue your coloured paper over the top of the fabric, inside the card, and allow to dry for a couple of hours.  Once completed, all that’s left to do is write a decidedly soppy/unsoppy message and leave somewhere for your loved one to find next Friday!!

Hey…if you do decide to give this, or any of my other tutorials a go – I would LOVE for you to upload a picture on my Facebook page or to twitter – tagging @LivePeachy #FrugallyEverAfter – I love seeing my work in action!!

Stay Peachy x

Heart Card 1

 

 

 

 

The Frugal Kitchen: Easy Nutella Brownie Bites

brownies finished

If, like me, you felt a little cheated at finding out yesterday was ‘World Nutella Day, just a little too late; then I have JUST the frugal solution for you!

I am a huge fan of baking but, with watching my weight and all that, I tend to keep baking sweet treats to a minimum.brownies nutella  I think baking should always be simple and I’ve pratted about in the kitchen enough to be able to put together a simple cake or brownie recipe, adding bits to it when I fancy mixing the flavours up.  And that’s just what I’ve done with the THIRD OFF Nutella I picked up from the local Co-op this morning!

Not content with missing the ‘World Nutella Day’ event – obviously just an excuse to crack open the jar and eat straight from it – I thrashed together these simple little brownies which use very few ingredients and look FANTASTIC stacked with a little ribbon.  Are you thinking?? Yup – how about a little lunch box surprise for The Big V!  Why not give them a go yourself?  They’re easy to bake – just keep an eye on them in the oven as they cook pretty quickly!  Note: I have used the whole jar, partly because I can’t be trusted with it in the house!

I’ve popped a few prices down too – most ingredients are great to have in the house, in case of a sudden baking attack or the appearance of an unexpected guest!

Ingredients

1 x 400g Nutella (currently £1.56 at Co-op)

170g Caster Sugar (small 500g bag costs £1)

3 Medium Eggs (1 box of six costs 95p from Lidl)

50g Salted Butter (£1.02 basics range)

85g Self-Raising Flour (own-brand costs around 45p for 500g)

1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract (£1.59 approx from local supermarkets)

PInch of salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 170C and line a square baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Over a saucepan of water, in a heatproof bowl, heat the butter and half the Nutella over a medium heat.

Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, whisk the caster sugar, vanilla extract and 2 eggs until combined and smooth.  Once the Nutella and butter have melted together and softened – remove from heat and add, slowly to the sugar mixture.  Use the whisk to combine the mixtures together until smooth.

brownies collage

In a separate bowl, mix the flour and salt, then add, slowly to the mixture.  Fold together until the mixture is combined.  Spoon in most of the remaining Nutella and combine.

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for approximately 20 minutes.  The brownie should be ready once it’s dark brown and a knife remains clean when stuck through the middle.

Leave to cool on a rack for a short while then, using a palette knife, spread the remaining Nutella on top of the brownie and cut into small sections.  If you want to pop these into a lunchbox or give as a little gift, why not stack a few and wrap with a pretty ribbon?

If not…sit back, enjoy with a hot cuppa and bask in the fact that World Nutella Day, in fact, is not yet over!!!!

Stay Peachy x

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

Inspiration….Frugal Resolutions

Daisy Park autumn leaves

The Frugally Fabulous Year, despite the appearance of the ‘F’ Word, is not just about saving money.  I’ll be popping my budgeting malarkey advice, frugally fabulous recipes and ‘wardrobe versus wants’ comparisons in, for good measure, but my decision to take on this challenge comes from a place of questioning ethics and psychology in our consumerist nature and the companies from which we consume.  What was once a challenge about clothing, has become a whole heap of politics about whether or not I can spend a voucher in John Lewis in 2014.  Which got me to thinking…how am I going to go about making 2014 The Frugally Fabulous Year?  It’s an exciting yet difficult task in hand and I want to make sure I complete it to the best of my ability…here’s how I plan to do it!

Mirror 2THE BIG FRUGALLY FABULOUS RULES

1. My challenge involves buying for JUST ME and not other members of my family!  As much as I dream of the day I possess the skills to make a whole miniature wardrobe for Daisy, the truth is, she grows and needs things all the time – the Frugally Fabulous Year is about me and my attitude to my wardrobe!  I will however, be attempting some tiny-person sized crafting projects and I will be looking to source her wardrobe from ethically sound companies too.

2. Aside from the making projects I am setting myself; I aim to purchase 100% of clothing in 2014 from second-hand sources such as vintage and charity shops as well as good old eBay.  I am NOT ALLOWED to buy new clothing from high street stores.

3. The above does, however, not apply to underwear and tights – two absolute staples in any fabulous lady’s wardrobe.  I will, however, aim to purchase with a frugal mindset and from a responsible and ethical source.

4. Whilst I am not specifically not spending on beauty and cosmetic products, I aim to research and explore ethically-sound beauty companies that work for my skin and work for my wallet – where they can.  By the end of 2014 I would like at least 70% of my cosmetic products to be organic and ethical (which may well be the case now)!  The same applies to homeware.

5. Throughout my year, I aim to bring exciting and creative projects to brighten up my wardrobe, home, garden, kitchen and general lifestyle; that are easy on the pocket, reflect my taste and personality and are challenging in the craft department.  I aim to resource frugally fabulous, if not free, materials where I can and learn also to work with what I’ve got.

6. The biggest mountain to overcome is learning to use the sewing machine PROPERLY.  Not to mention using up my Yarn and Fabric Stashes – of which I solemnly promise to use PRIOR to buying new bits and pieces.  Where I can.  Honest.

7. Gifts do not count.

8. Wardrobes vs Wants will be a huge part of my blog – once I am able to fit into most of my pre-pregnancy wardrobe that is.  As an ex-employee of the fashion industry, I have a vested interest in trends, clothing and beautiful things.  The challenge is to try and emulate this through my existing wardrobe (I’m lucky enough to have a lot of clothes I wouldn’t be able to afford now) and my botched creations.

And what do I get if I manage to complete my challenge? Well…one or two of the following will occur, I’m sure

1. I will be immediately whisked off and awarded a Nobel Prize for services to being both Frugal AND undeniably Fabulous.

2. I will be able to treat myself to one, expensive, lovely thing that has been on my wishlist all year.

3. I will have learnt how to be even more creative in my lifestyle, will want to continue learning and so Frugally Peachy will live on.

4. We will put the money we have saved into the ‘Sweden’ pot, to fulfil our dream of a family roadtrip around Sweden.

5. On aforementioned trip, I will meet Alexander Skarsgard, will refuse to return to the UK and will, instead, set up home in Sweden running a hand-knitted gnome shop.

One of them…definitely.

I think that’s about all I can do to pick apart my challenge, so it really is all GO!  Are you planning to follow The Frugally Fabulous Year?  What rules are you setting for yourself?  What do you think you’ll struggle with the most?  As ever, I would LOVE to hear from you!

Stay Peachy x