Saturday, 31 December 2011

361 thrifty days till Christmas

Firstly I want to say a huge HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Mr Fig
I always feel so sorry for him having his birthday today...

Secondly I want to wish everyone a HAPPY NEW YEAR! 
the next is an even number so I am sure I will not feel quite so discombobulated.

In honour of Mr Fig's birthday the Christmas cards have come down, he will not let me take the rest of the decorations down until tomorrow though. 

When I was a kid in the 1970's my mum would always get me to take the cards down and hand me a pair of pinking shears and a hole punch. I would spend hours cutting crinkly Robbins and Santa's out of the front of the cards, and punching holes out to hang them on next years parcels, and although I really didn't like the pinked look it was still more fun than using plain scissors.

This year I made all kinds of fancy labels with bits sewn and glued onto them only to watch them not get read, torn off and thrown in the bin with the wrapping paper - what did you expect? I hear you cry! well exactly! 
So this morning I have made my own 2012 version of those 1970's tags. If you like them, feel free to copy - and actually, I am more pleased with these than the ones I spent hours over! 

First get rid of the side with the writing on, send them to be recycled or hang onto them to use as templates for other crafty projects.

I used some thick card from the top of a go-cat box to make myself a luggage label style tag.

Instead of "fussy cutting" i.e. selecting a picture and cutting round this even if it means loosing the rest of the card, I fit as many onto the back of the card as I can. If I know it will only fit 2 or 3 on I tried to set them at an angle to each other - but DON'T look at the right side of the card, it will be a surprise! 

then simply draw round your template, cut inside the lines, punch a hole in narrow end and thread string/ribbon/cord (I used the end of a ball of dish cloth cotton I had saved) through the hole - finally put them somewhere you will remember them or find them next Christmas!

I have been working hard on the recycled scarf I started a couple of days ago, and have made a hat to match and hopefully I have enough of the yarn left to make matching wrist warmers. I think they may well have to go into my Folksy Shop due to finances - but not to worry, I still have my purchases from Novembers Knitting and Stitching show to make into stuff all for myself!

Keep safe and see you all NEXT YEAR!!!

Friday, 30 December 2011

362 thrifty days till Christmas

Cranberry's on the Grapevine???! 

Before Christmas I was given a jar of Cranberry and Orange relish by a lovely and very talented lady called Mary who comes along to one of the knit and natter groups I also go to. She had promised me the recipe if I liked the relish, and 1 large packet of cream crackers and a quarter pound of Stilton later the jar was empty and I had made my mind up that it was indeed extremely good relish! 

She e-mailed me the recipe, but as Cranberry's are not something I usually have in...well, I don't think I have ever actually bought a fresh cranberry in my life, I thought I would just pick up a bag as and when I could afford one.
Now this is where a good thrifty grapevine comes into play. Yesterday I received an e-mail from Mary marked "Cranberry relish - URGENT!"

Sainsbury's had a load of fresh cranberries reduced from £4 to 50p!  Now who of you would have been able to resist a reduction like that? 
A quick trip to Sainsbury's, 4 bags of cranberries (that still only came to half the original price of just 1 bag) and everything else I had in, and in less than 1 hour I had 3 jars of ruby red relish and 3 spare bags of cranberries popped in to the freezer to make more relish when I need!

Preserves are like the name suggests a way of preserving a glut of anything, I don't believe in buying expensive fruits and vegetables to make mine, instead relying on a glut on the allotment, or a friends apple tree, or from the hedge rows. Usually the only fruit I will buy are Seville oranges for my marmalade as they only grow in Seville, but with the cranberries I feel I have liberated them from a landfill site because lets face it, who eats cranberries all year round? and we all know how much good food supermarkets throw away.

Mary has kindly let me put the recipe on my recipe page for your use, she points out that it is her adaptation of a recipe by Saint Delia (the boozy bit) so please have a go - if you can get CHEAP cranberries!

Thursday, 29 December 2011

363 thrifty days till Christmas

I am as always trying to tidy my sewing room. Now matter how much I throw out, sell, tidy, give away, with in a week of there being floor and bench space, it has usually all vanished again. I don't buy very much new sewing materials these days, but I am always having a lot given too me! I belong to a couple of knit and natter groups and where there is one craft, others follow. Most of the ladies at these groups now exactly what I use, what I like, what I am looking for, and every time they have a clear out I get bags of goodies. Vintage lace, fabric, paper, ribbons, you name it, they have had it, and now I have it!  Besides this I am an incredibly untidy person. I can't help it, and I long to be a tidy person. 

If money were no object I am sure by now my little box/sewing room would have been transformed into a storage savvy area, but as money is always tight the room is full of random shelves from mum and dads kitchen, an old cupboard with the doors removed (as there wasn't space to open them) a couple of old office draws, baskets, boxes, tins...well you get the idea. I have to climb over stuff that hasn't yet been sorted out and bags of wool, just to get into the room.
I have decided that I need a set or two of free standing book shelves to place against the last bit of free wall but as I can't afford anything at the moment I have put out a plea on 'FREEGLE

I joined this web group a few years ago when it was called Freecycle - I'm not sure why it changed to freegle, but it did. 
If you are not familiar with this concept, I urge you to look it up. 
Basically it is a way of getting rid of almost ANYTHING that is perhaps not good enough to sell but is far too good to go into landfill. It is also a way of receiving stuff as well. 
You put out a Wanted or an Offered, let people know what it is you are giving away or what you want, and hopefully you will be inundated with people who either want what you are giving or have what you need. 
If you are lucky enough to 'win' an item it is up to you to collect it, if you give something away, then it is up to the recipient to collect it from you.

Ourselves, we have received a double bed, a single bed, 2 gorgeous sofa's, a microwave, a tea chest, grout whitener, fabric, yarn, toys - to name just a few! we have got rid of a sofa, 2 beds, a wardrobe, files, books, an arm chair, fabric, yarn and all sorts more. 

It is a fantastic idea, and ours in this area seams to work pretty well without incident plus they are all over the country. Even if you just sign up with nothing to offer, it is a revelation to see what is offered and what people actually manage to get hold of! 

So Keep your fingers crossed someone has an old set of bookshelves they were going to get rid of and they come our way, one day I WILL BE TIDY!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

364 Thrifty days till Christmas

On Christmas Day and Boxing day I did NO crafting. I had been knitting and sewing presents right up to 8.30pm on Christmas eve, and wanted to sit back and think about what to do next, as I have previously mentioned Hubby and Dad's birthdays are both in the next week, but I didn't think I had a hope of getting anything else made for them! 
I have spent those 2 days 'off' pouring over the gorgeous books I got for Christmas, mainly baking books, and a wonderful history of British Magic that has seen me having a sneaky lie-in for the past 2 mornings while I read.

Anyway, to get to the point, last night I was bored stiff without a project to get my teeth into - I wanted something easy, pretty, and thrifty. 
Now while this particular project didn't start out thriftily, I think it has ended up thrifty, and it is the principal behind it that counts! 

A couple of years ago when my purse seemed to have a little spare cash in it every now and again I indulged myself with 1 ball of Noro knitting yarn. As anyone who has bought or looked at it will know it is NOT cheap. A jumper can cost over £150 to knit in it.
I started to knit a shawl with my 1 ball, but I soon ran out and had to buy another 2 balls, they ran out and I bought another - by this time the shawl had cost about £40 and was still too small to put around my shoulders! 
I cast the damn thing off and left it for 18 months in a cupboard, discussed with myself for spending all that money on something so useless!

About 6 months ago my Mother insisted I let her pull the shawl back, which she did, and since then it has been sat in 1 giant ball - staring at me menacingly. 
Last night I started to knit it into a swirly scarf. I am LOVING IT!!! and can tell it is going to end up really long so it will wrap round many times. And who knows, I may even sell it and try to recoup some of the expense!

There is not much recycling of wool these days, acrylics are relatively cheap to buy, and not as many people knit from necessity, but my Grandma would often pull back a jumper that one of my uncles had grown out of and knit something up for my mum, she would knit sleeves from shoulder to cuff so if the cuff became worn or frayed she could unpick it from the cuff and replace that bit, she re healed and re-toed socks and never threw out anything that could be re-used.

So, if you have some yarn hanging around that needs knitting, get on with it, if you have something you made but don't like, pull it back and make something new! 

My twirly scarf pattern is available for free (there is a tab at the top of the page) or click on the picture!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

365 thrifty days till Christmas

After eating up some of the left overs from Christmas day at Mum and Dads, Taryn pointed out to me that even though we watched several programmes by various exciting (or was that excited?) Chef's on how to make delicious and unusual left over turkey recipes we always end up making 'butties' (British for sandwiches) with just a bit of everything left on them, still, we have not had to buy any food for 3 days!

Today Mr Juicy and I had to brave a 'Supermarket' as all the bulbs in the kitchen had gone, and although I have an ample stash of tea lights, it wasn't going to cut it! 
As we had to drive to a nearby town to visit family we made sure we went to a supermarket on the way to save on fuel, and as always I had the above 'mantra' firmly fixed in my mind. As you can imagine the left hand side is the side I seam firmly planted on. 
We bought EXACTLY what we needed and NOTHING else, in fact we did not even venture down any sale isles because the temptation of a bargain I don't need and cannot afford can be very strong! 
You may recognise the mantra from the Money Saving Expert's web site, and my advice is that if you have never been onto the site, click on the mantra and go take a look, there is something for everyone there, and even better, sign up for the weekly news letter! 

oh, and thanks for the comments and idea's - keep them coming, 366 thrifty tips is a lot to come up with! 

Monday, 26 December 2011

wrapping paper

wrapping paper by juicyfig
wrapping paper, a photo by juicyfig on Flickr.

366 Thrifty days 'till Christmas 2012

Ahhh, I hope a wonderful Christmas day was enjoyed by one and all! 
We had a lovely morning opening our hand crafted and carefully chosen pressies before a chaotic, noisy but very tastey afternoon at my mums with my Brother and his clan, then back home for Dr Who? and Downton Abbey.

And so to my new challenge - a whole year of blogging a thrifty tip or action EVERY DAY for a year, and as was pointed out, we actually have an extra day this coming year - What a mammoth task! hehehe

This is NOT aimed solely at next Christmas, it is to get me through all the different events plus daily life! we have a plethora of birthdays as usual, a few weddings (4 in the next 2 years so far) and all the other usual events, Easter etc! I am determined to save money, mend the house, eat better, exercise more, well, you know, the usual resolutions plus more - and the sooner the better.
I already have Mr Juicy's Birthday looming large on New Years Eve, and no idea what to get or make him as I kinda threw everything into Christmas for him, then on the 3rd January it's my Dad's Birthday. I know these events occur every year at the same time but I am never prepared and consequently they both tend to end up with reduced Christmas food items from the supermarket. 

Anywho - back to my first Thrifty Day, (only 365 left!) 

Baby Fig and I are determined to not spend ANYTHING on wrapping paper this year, it costs a fortune and is usually just ripped off and thrown in the bin, so Taryn the bag fairy had away with every gift bag as soon as it's gift was removed and came home with a stash to keep us going for ages - plus any that are torn or damaged around the top we are going to cut down and customise.

I know it sounds extreme and not much of a saving, but this is something we have done before, no one ever notices it is recycled and like I said, it just ends up in the bin in the end. 

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Only one more sleep till Christmas!

Well, it's almost here, just one more sleep to go! 
On Boxing day I will be starting a personal challenge to blog every day for a year, the theme will be 
"365 frugal day's till Christmas"

I have been a very lazy blogger this past 12 months, but 2012 is an even numbered year so I am sure things will go better than they have this year - not that it's been a bad year, I just don't seam to have got to where I was hoping to get!

Here is a Christmas Essential!
it would not be Christmas without Kermit the Frogs legs as he carries Tiny Tim home singing the Christmas Scat