Friday’s Green and Frugal Five

Oh god! My stomach is groaning. What a week.

  • We manage to eat almost all of the Christmas leftovers within the alloted time! The only thing we didn’t mange was the packed sage-and-onion stuffing. I think I’ll cut it from next year’s menu: my partner normally insisted on it, but didn’t really eat any of it this year. I made and froze amazing soup from the roast potatoes and parsnips, froze the special gravy, used the left-over yorkshire pudding batter to make pancakes, fried the leftover cinammon rolls in butter and syrup, and generally ploughed through everything else. I’m pleased we wasted so little.
  • Repaired another pair of jeans, this time for my partner, using the method I’ve discovered.
  • Made curtains for the white room using predominantly leftover fabric from the stash. I had to buy some lining, but everything else came from things I’d kept from previous projects.
  • Had a lovely meal out with family that was paid by someone else.
  • My mum bought gave me exactly what I asked for, for Christmas! I’d asked for a new electric toothbrush, and sent a link to the model I wanted at the cheapest price. I opened it with family at the above lunch, and I’m at the age when everyone was fascinated and impressed by it! I will use it so often, and I really appreciate it, particularly as January will be short on cash following the bacchanalian excesses of Christmas.

I hope you all got what you wanted to for Christmas, and hope your coming New Year is full of satisfaction and frugal achievements!

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Friday’s Green and Frugal Five

Friday’s Green and Frugal Five

Almost there! Christmas is just around the corner, I’ve seen all the people I’m going to see, the fridge is groaning under the weight of food, and there is finally the promise of peace and quiet. Hell yeah!

  • I ordered a DVD for my mom, and when Amazon told me it wouldn’t get there in time for Christmas if I picked free delivery, I just thought fuck it and ordered it with free delivery anyway. It got there five days before Christmas! In your face evil corporation, you wouldn’t get that £1.80 for standard delivery from me!
  • The person I work most directly for gave me a Christmas present…and it was a £20 amazon voucher! Get in! So much better than a bottle of wine, no matter how good the wine is.
  • Used my Network Railcard to buy a travelcard to London to meet my mum for our Christmas lunch. Due to the restrictions I had to hang out for a few hours, as I couldn’t travel 4:00-7:30pm, but I just enjoyed some time browsing books at Foyles. It halved the cost of my train ticket.
  • I picked up bacon for my partner and a massive variety of cheeses ultra-cheap (e.g. more than half regular price) at the town market. I need to try and remember to go there every time I need eggs/cheese/bacon etc (rarely, but still).
  • Although I’m off work, I drove back over in order to use the gym. I paid for membership for a year, so I’m rinsing everything I can from it. I took a Yoga class this week too, and I didn’t completely suck! Amazing. Surprising tough on my crappy hands.

Happy Christmas, one and all 🙂 As ever, this post is inspired by Katy’s lovely community.

Friday’s Green and Frugal Five

A stitch in time…repairing rather than replacing (eventually)

Sometimes, you don’t know quite how comfy a pair of jeans is until you can’t wear them any more. I have a great pair I’ve worn until several rather important areas were worn thin and have holes – and horror of horrors, in the crotch! I thought I’d just replace the jeans. At first I tried another pair I already had – they proved a good fit, but for some reason tiring on the legs to wear. Then I tried buying a new pair (well, new-to-me at least) during our last charity-shop trawl, but alas! No luck -everything I tried fit terribly. Honestly, I’ve started to hate shopping for trousers. It’s such a thankless task.

So I finally gave in and looked up ways to fix them. I was reticent to just sew a patch on top, as I was concerned about making the area ugly, and uncomfortable to wear – particularly as the damage was in  the crotch area. And I wasn’t about to spend money on a special stick-on patch! However I found this method, and I was really impressed with how it looked in the images.

Basically, you just use zig-zag stitching in a complementary coloured thread to work over the top of the thin/worn out area to rebuild the fabric. I combined this with placing a scrap of thin cotton drill behind the worst of the holes, to support the stitches, and the outcome is really good! It took a little time (and quite a lot of thread), but the whole area has been reinforced, the work is hardly noticeable, and my partner says it looks lovely! Most importantly, I can wear my favourite comfy jeans again!

I only wish I’d just knuckled down and fixed them in the first place, rather than trying to find a replacement. Ah well, live and learn. One upside is that I’ve identified that the other pair of jeans are not worth keeping, and they can go back to charity as soon as they’re clean. If you have a sewing machine and a little time, I can really recommend the method described here, though I would suggest also adding a thin piece of cotton or something underneath to support the stitches and stop the zig-zag stitch from pulling the jean material into ugly rucks. It creates an attractive, subtle fix that works even in the crotch area. Hope the link helps!

A stitch in time…repairing rather than replacing (eventually)

Friday’s Green and Frugal Five

Argh! It feels like there is not much frugality to celebrate recently, as the force of Christmas gathers momentum. I’ve been buying gifts for my parents (and even my partner), which even though not particularly extravagant all add up. I’ve also paid for a year’s gym membership at my work place. Again, not particularly expensive compared to others, and necessary now that I’ve been diagnosed with osteoarthritis (very motivating at my young age!), but ouch. Add to that raised costs in eating out, booking events for next year, and let’s not even talk about the groceries and damn, this month is going to sting!

I guess I need to focus on the good things, even if they are tiny.

  • The car only needed a replacement battery! The lovely independent garage I’ve been using for almost ten years checked everything, fitted a new battery, and it all came to under £80. Phew.
  • Repaired a much loved pair of jeans, so I won’t have to fruitlessly hunt for a new pair. So happy with this – I love those jeans!
  • Didn’t drink much at the work Christmas party, keeping down the costs (and avoiding drunkenly saying anything regrettable!)
  • I didn’t buy any new Christmas decorations. My kitchen-diner is done up beautifully, including with an ancient string of lights that are probably c.20 years old, and there’s a wreath on my door and it cost me nothing. I had a lovely time decorating on a Sunday, culminating in mulled wine (a gift from last year) and mincepies (made with leftover frozen pastry from a workshop months ago). Perfectly festive.
  • I deep cleaned the kitchen, and my partner altered the worksurface and plumbing in order to fit our dishwasher – zero installation costs.

I’m not sure how the coming week is going to offer any opportunities for frugality…but I will keep trying!

As ever, this post was inspired by Katy’s lovely blog and lovely commentors.

Friday’s Green and Frugal Five

Exchanging Christmas presents

Christmas presents are such a difficult subject. I feel very lucky that my partner and I pretty much never started giving each other presents at Christmas. If I see something he’ll like, I either buy it for him and give it to him straight away, or I mention it to him to see if he genuinely would like it. Easy-peasy. Almost no consumerism, and no unnecessary or unwanted ‘stuff’. I do actually have a small present for him this year, but only by accident. It’s just a small thing that he can’t actually use until next year, so there’s no harm in boxing it up for Christmas day as a little treat!

The only people I really exchange gifts with are my parents. I’ve tried telling them I don’t want anything, but that means that I tend to get a large quantity of ‘little things’, many of which are very lovely, but some of which I inevitably don’t use or am unlikely to want, and often all of which I don’t actually need. I’ve tried asking for money (towards specific things), but it doesn’t always work very well, and I feel awkward. Particularly if I have to remind the person they said they’d give me some cash! Ack, no thanks 🙂

I love receiving the care and thought that the gifts represent – particularly as I know that my parents will have spent time thinking about me, and considering things, and I know that sometimes they really enjoy picking out things for me. But I am trying to reduce consumerism by/for me, so I don’t really enjoy receiving things I don’t really need that much.

So as a response, I’ve shifted back towards asking for specific things. Usually these are things I’ve thought about getting, and decided to get. Things that are either ‘needs’ or only just on the side of ‘luxury’ – not so much that I will feel guilty. There’s always the chance I won’t get exactly what I want as a gift, but I think it works out well overall.

In exchange, I make a lot of effort to ask for things my parents actually want. I get the impression that they also save up things to ask me for! I suspect I am not the best at buying presents, particularly for my mother – my idea of what is useful, pretty or cool does not align very well with hers! So I am very keen for them to tell me what they want. I even force myself to buy what they ask for, even when I find something similar but better (in my mind!) or I think it’s a bit useless. That’s part of the gift, right? It’s not what I want to buy, but what they want to receive.

Ultimately, I do hope one day we can stop exchanging substantial Christmas gifts. A favorite book, or piece of music, or special box of chocolates would be more than enough. Just a little thing to show we’re thinking of each other, but not the larger stack. I have to admit, I just don’t like spending the money, either, not as part of the orgy of consumerism that is Christmas, and particularly not when I suspect stuff will just be thrown away after a few months. But then we’re coming right up against a much bigger problem – what to do when people you care about and are close to have views on consumerism that are so far away from your own? That’s a thorny problem that I am definitely not ready to think about during Christmas!

Exchanging gifts the way you want to comes down to communication, and being brave, and ultimately, to compromise. If people want to give, you can’t stop them, but you can guide them. You can talk about why you want something, about why you don’t want other things. And you can be patient. I figure sooner or later, me and my parents will get there 🙂

Exchanging Christmas presents